Which did God create first, man or vegetation?

Posted on Oct.18, 2008. Filed in Genesis. Average rating: 3.5 / 10 (Rate It).

The Bible begins in Genesis 1 with an account of God creating the world in six days and then resting on the seventh. Genesis 2 then gives a second Creation narrative. These two narratives differ concerning which God created first, man or vegetation.

In Genesis 1, God creates vegetation before he creates humans:

Then God said, ‘Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.’ And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day…

Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. [Genesis 1:11-13, 26-27 (NRSV)]

In Genesis 2, God creates man before he creates vegetation:

… when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up — for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground — then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. [Genesis 2:5-7 (NRSV)]

So which did God create first, man or vegetation?

N.B. All posts are written in a style sympathetic to the claim of Biblical error, even in cases where the author ("Errancy") disagrees with the claim. See the About page for the site's philosophy.

: ,
4 Comments Ratings

Inerrantist Responses

To suggest a response to this claim of error, please use the comments section below.

Rate this Claim of Error

How serious a problem for inerrancy do you think this is?

Average rating: 3.5 / 10

You must be logged in to rate errors.


  1. 1

    In Genesis 2 we are told about plants “of the field”, and it’s also mentioned that there is “no one to till the ground”, both of which suggest this is referring to cultivated plants.

  2. 2

    This problem is similar to the problem of whether Man came before the animals or not.

    Again, the two accounts serve two different purposes, neither of which is to provide a chronology. The most you can infer is that the creative words of God are in a chronological ordering.

    The first account identifies Man as the God’s final word on the earthly creation. The pinnacle of the earthly creation. The second account shows that Man was put here for the purpose of bringing order into creation and that he was given the authority to carry out that purpose and that Woman is his co-equal helper in that endeavor.

    Since neither account is chronological, they cannot conflict on a point of chronology.

  3. 3

    The phrase “plants of the field” and the mention of the reason for no plants of the field “no man to till the soil” seem to indicate that what is being talked about here is crops, not plants in general [which could certainly grow without man’s help!]. Which makes perfect sense, when one considers that the curse of “working the ground” is a continued theme in chapter 3 AND 4.

  4. 4

    WisdomLover – I have a hard time believing the first account is not chronological in nature given the descriptions of day one, day two, etc. I do, however, find the second account to be less likely to be chronological. However, if the second account is not to be considered chronological, how do you explain the inclusion of “These are the generations of…”? This being a statement used elsewhere in Genesis exclusively preceding chronological descriptions?

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site: