Genesis 1:1 through 2:3 appear to be a summary of the entire Bible, and it also seems to be an introduction to the entire book. As the Bible moves forward, it builds upon and explains in more detail the first chapters of Genesis.
Viewing Genesis 1 as a summary and introduction to the Bible helps clear up the seeming contradictory nature of the two creation stories in this book. One story is based on the “LORD God” (single God) and his interaction with Adam in the Garden of Eden and the other is based on “God” (plural Gods) working for six days and then resting on the seventh day. Both of the stories are meant to be understood spiritually and allegorically. They both represent the making of “man”. But the second story in Genesis 2 and 3 is an explanation of how man, who is also the “God” (i.e. Gods) in the first chapter, comes to be. See the previous post names “Ye are Gods” for support on this idea.
Genesis 1:1,11-12 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth….And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”
Genesis 2:4-5 “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.”
Genesis 2:4-5 says that it is about to explain the generation (history) of the heavens and the earth when they were created. It is saying that this next story about to be told is the history or background on how the heavens and earth were created, and that they were created on that same “day” that the LORD God made the “earth and the heavens”. In other words, the “day” that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens is the same “day” that the heavens and earth were created. Notice how earth and heavens are written in reverse order of each other. Also notice that the earth and the heavens were “made” while the heavens and the earth were “created”. Created means to creates something [out of nothing per say] while made means to do something, work, the acting out of something, accomplish something. The acting out or accomplishing of the “earth and the heavens” is the process or chain of events which create the “heavens and earth”. There is not one without the other. It also says here that these generations, or this next story, is before the plant of the field was in the earth and the herb before it grew, because the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the earth and there was not yet a man who tills the “ground”. There are no herbs in Genesis 2. So this story that begins in Genesis 2 is about the man that was before the man who tills (works) came about. Notice the “herbs” with seeds came forth from the earth in the story in Genesis chapter 1. The creation story in Genesis chapter 2 does not mention the making of “herbs” or a tree that has seeds within itself; only trees that are pleasant to the sight and good for food. The story of Genesis chapter 2 specifically says it is about things BEFORE the herbs of the field grew.
Herbs and trees with seeds were man’s meat in Genesis chapter 1, fruit of trees of the Garden were man’s food in Genesis chapter 2. Again, it seems like the story of Genesis 2 actually happens BEFORE the story of Genesis 1. This is because chapter 1 is a summary of things to come.