Some readers struggle to understand Chapter 2 in light of Chapter 1. Those who are agnostic or atheistic suggest these chapters are inconsistent or represent two different creation accounts. However, understanding the traditional structure of poetry and storytelling in ancient Middle Eastern culture helps clear up the confusion.
There are plenty of literary and theological articles which provide lengthy examinations of the poetic structure of these chapters, but to put in laymen’s terms and hopefully not do a disservice to the scholarly research, the simple explanation is that chapter one provides an overarching picture of creation, and chapter two provides the more detailed account. This pattern of providing a general overview followed by a more detailed account is found in both biblical and non-biblical ancient writings.
One of the key aspects of this chapter is the creation of man and woman as complimentary, designed by God to work together as helpers of one another. The first time God determines something is “not good” is in recognizing that His creation of man does not include a companion. The triune God existed eternally in community as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so the idea of man going it alone is not good. God designed us to function in community, in fellowship with others, and particularly in partnership with a helpmate.
It doesn’t always work out that way in our fallen world. Folks don’t always find a partner to spend their lives with. Or they find someone and lose them through death. Other times, the loss is the result of living in a sin-sick world. Violence, death, conflict, and loneliness exist because sin entered His perfect creation and marred the design.
This chapter reveals that God’s original design in the garden was unity and companionship between one man and one woman.