Genesis 2:18 – When Did Good and Evil Enter the World?
The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Genesis 2:18)
The preceding line was a commandment given to Adam – one that forbade eating from the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil. The same word in verse 17 for ‘good’ (Heb. tov) reappears in verse 18, as God says “it is not good for man to be alone”.
When God said this, Adam hadn’t yet eaten from the forbidden tree, so may conclude that he didn’t realize that companionship was “good”. However, God knew, and so declared Adam’s solitude as “not good” (in other words, evil). Then, He immediately begins to counter evil with a good work. Admittedly, God doesn’t need to say aloud what he finds obvious, but His words were recorded for our benefit – to show how God was always interested in countering evil with good, even before mankind knew the two existed.
Therefore, the above Scripture exemplifies that in the absence of mankind’s evil, God is and always has been determined to bringing about good for all mankind. “The God of the Old Testament” is often accused of being a bloodthirsty tyrant, but from the Beginning it was not so! According to this, it’s the nature of Yahweh Elohim to better mankind according to what He considers good.
Today, it seems every argument concerning morality focuses on what mankind considers good and evil. We hear it on our street corners and at our dinner tables: “‘I think this is right!’ …‘Well, I think you’re wrong, this is why!’” But in the end – or should I say, in the beginning – the only relevant dilemma is what GOD considers good and evil.
What actually occurred when Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge was the opening of our eyes to the existence of good and evil. Afterward, we would forever gravitate toward one or the other, depending on the inclinations of our hearts and minds. However, was good and evil created that day? Of course not! It was hanging on that tree the entire time! (In case you were wondering, here’s why). It was also on the earth already, even in Eden. For when Adam was alone, God declared it to be “not good.” Good and evil did not enter the world like pagan myths suggest (i.e. Pandora’s Box); that is an extra-biblical concept. What really happened at Eden, was mankind gaining sight (“their eyes were opened” -Gen 3:7) to right and wrong – thus creating the human dilemma.
There are plenty of arbitrary arguments about what constitutes good or evil in the world, but I suggest they’re smoke screens to the real question. The real question is, “What is right and wrong… according to God?” This is the oldest dilemma in the history of the world – even older than the one facing mankind, as demonstrated by Genesis 2:18.
Therefore, all statements starting with “I think…” or “I feel…” or “Why should I…” are irrelevant. Conundrums which do not reach beyond this world are called “vanity”. However, if you ask “What does God think about such and such” then I would commend you for entertaining a conundrum that exceeds this world.
There is a lot of talk in our society today, but most of it a vanity-on-vanity debate. Many offer opinions about the news of the day, but it’s all about definitions. We try to define marriage, racism, sexism, gender, traditions and everything else under a fading sun. Many surrender to such vanity, but that’s because they fail to remember God’s original dilemma:
First, God saw the evil (The man is isolated). Then, God planned for good to overcome it (“I will make him a helper”). Then, God brought about His intent. For believers, this is the recipe for success. We must determine evil solely by God’s truth. Of course, truth lies at the source of knowing what God labels good and evil – which is found in the Word of God. His truth was recorded first in the Torah of Moshe and completely revealed through Messiah Yeshua. Everything else is simply man’s opinion – a byproduct of the Tree of Knowledge, and therefore worthless vanity.
In this world we are caught in a sea of vanity, but like our God, we must rectify it and bring about justice, mercy, and truth – whatever counters the evil we face on a daily basis. This may seem elementary, but it is really anything different than this:
Then the King will tell those on his right hand, ‘Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.’ (Matthew 25:34-36)
Just as God beheld Adam in an evil situation (no companionship), He countered it with a good work (making a helper). In the example from Matthew, Yeshua teaches us to think the same way – when we see evil (hunger, thirst, nakedness) we should counter it with a good work (meeting the need). We would only be doing exactly what God has shown us by His example.
Human beings must stop being the arbiter of good and evil and make our decisions according to God’s standards, found in His Word. Otherwise, we will have 7 billion different versions of right and wrong, which we inherited from the Tree of Knowledge. This is the same reason we have so many different religions and political positions in the world today. I say there is only one truth, which is what God alone considers good and evil.♦