Abraham Chapter 5 The Final Preparatory Creation
Abraham 5 An Account of the Physical Creation of the Earth
As we have discussed previously, Abraham 5 (plus Genesis 2 and Moses 3) is likely the account of the third creative period. This is the final preparation of the mortal earth for the introduction of modern life forms including man upon the earth and the introduction of those modern life forms to the earth (see also the introductory commentary for Moses 3). This third creative period follows millions or perhaps billions of years of preparatory physical creation.
verses 1-3 These verses conclude the abbreviated account of the fifth Grand Council of the Gods wherein the final preparatory creation of the earth and the introduction of modern life forms was planned. The actual account of the third creative period begins in verse 4.
1 And thus we will finish the heavens and the earth, and all the hosts of them.
verse 1 "And thus we will finish the heavens and the earth" It is obvious that the earth was not yet fully prepared for modern life, as the Gods are still contemplating its completion.
"and all the hosts of them" The "hosts" are the modern life forms-the physical plants, the physical animals, and the physical bodies of mankind whose spirits had been previously created on the spirit earth (Moses 2:1-31). The term "heavens and the earth" must refer to the land, marine environment, and atmospheric environment of the physical earth since the Gods are about to bring into the "heavens and the earth" the land, marine, and aerial life forms that comprise "all the hosts of them."
2 And the Gods said among themselves: On the seventh time we will end our work, which we have counseled; and we will rest on the seventh time from all our work which we have counseled.
3 And the Gods concluded upon the seventh time, because that on the seventh time they would rest from all their works which they (the Gods) counseled among themselves to form; and sanctified it. And thus were their decisions at the time that they counseled among themselves to form the heavens and the earth.
verse 3 "and sanctified it" It should be noted that in the spirit creation, God sanctified the seventh day of the week as a day of worship (Moses 3:4). This isolated term "and sanctified it" refers not just to a day of worship but to the earth itself. The earth will be sanctified before modern life forms can be brought to the earth. The prophet Joseph Smith drew an analogy between the completion and sanctification of the physical earth and the final stages of the earth's mortal existence (the Millennium): "As God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth, so in the beginning of the seventh thousand years [of the earth's mortal existence] will the Lord sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man" (D&C 77:12). That is, in the physical creation the Lord "finished his work" by removing all remnants of preparatory life and then sanctifying the earth in preparation for the arrival of modern life forms and Adam and Eve. In like manner will the wicked be destroyed and removed and the earth be sanctified in preparation for the Savior's Millennial reign.
Joseph Smith revealed that during the Millennium the earth "will be renewed, and receive its paradisiacal glory" (Tenth article of Faith). Apparently in that day the earth will be restored to those conditions that prevailed near the beginning of the third creation epoch when it had been prepared for modern life.
This sanctification of the earth is to be repeated yet a third time. At the end of the Millennium the earth will be filled with wickedness again. However, the wicked will be swept away in a final and victorious confrontation between the armies of God, led by Michael, and the armies of evil, led by Lucifer (D&C 111-16). Then the earth will undergo for the last time a sanctification in preparation for its celestial inhabitants (D&C 29:22-24). This last sanctification will last "forever and ever" (D&C 88:20; D&C 88:28-29; D&C 88:130:9).
Just what does it mean to "sanctify" the earth? Sanctification is a state of perfection in which no intervening veil hides the Father and his celestial residence from view. In this state of existence, the seeds of death are suspended. All living things are quickened and can never die. They are thus in a sense immortal.
Brigham Young said of this first sanctification of the earth-this third creation epoch: "[God] formed and organized [the earth] as it was in the beginning, and made it perfect, pure, and holy" (JD, 2:300).
"And thus were their decisions at the time that they counseled among themselves to form the heavens and the earth." To which decisions does this phrase apply. Some students of the creation story have concluded, as we have previously mentioned, that the entire creation account in Abraham 4 (verses 1-25) is the minutes of a planning session among the Gods. One point against this idea, however, is that the verb tenses in Abraham 4:1-25 suggest that Abraham is describing events as they actually occurred. All principle verbs are in the past or present tense-the Gods "went down," "comprehended," "divided," "called," "ordered," "pronounced," "prepared," "organized," "numbered," and "watched." Only after all these events have transpired does Abraham's account shift to a future verb tense (Abraham 4:26-5:3) indicating that the Gods are planning for events that are yet to happen. Alternatively this phrase in Abraham 5:3 could simply be referring to those decisions made by the fifth Grand Council of the Gods described in Abraham 4:26-5:3.
The Third Creative Epoch: The Placement of Modern Life Forms Upon the Earth
verses 4-21 These verses describe the placement of modern life on the earth by the Gods. Note that most of the events included in this third and concluding section of Abraham's creation account are also described by Moses in Moses 3 (compare also Genesis 2). For the commentary on these verses, also see the commentary for Moses 3:6-25.
The waters of the earth are now ready to accept the physical bodies of modern aquatic life. The air is ready to accept the physical bodies of modern aerial creatures. And, the land is ready to accept the physical bodies of all modern animal life including its highest and most perfected form-man.
Verses 4 and 5 refer to the initiatory events of the third and last creation epoch of the earth. These events, though only briefly alluded to here, involved an enormous and extensive labor by the Gods on the physical earth.
4 And the Gods came down and formed these the generations of the heavens and of the earth, when they were formed in the day that the Gods formed the earth and the heavens,
verse 4 "And the Gods came down" Here Abraham refers to Jehovah and Michael who had been sent down to the physical earth to prepare it for modern life. Although Michael (later, Adam) had been assigned to work directly under Jehovah (D&C 78:16), he was given the primary responsibility to see that the earth was organized and prepared to receive modern life. Brigham Young taught: "Our father Adam helped to make this world, and was the chief manager in that operation" (JD, 3:319).
The "forming" going on in this verse does not in fact refer to creation. Rather it refers to the process of sanctification of the entire earth in preparation for the arrival of modern life forms.
5 According to all that which they had said concerning every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew; for the Gods had not caused it to rain upon the earth when they counseled to do them, and had not formed a man to till the ground.
verse 5 "for the Gods had not caused it to rain upon the earth" This phrase has led some to the mistaken conclusion that it had not rained at all on the physical earth before this time. More likely this phrase refers to the fact that since the onset of the third creation epoch, that is, during the period of the introduction of modern life forms, it had not yet rained upon the earth. Of course it had rained as many times as necessary during the preparatory or second creation epoch that had ended not long before. Rain was withheld until the planting of the modern plants and trees was complete. When the rain did fall, it moistened a freshly-seeded soil.
6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
verse 6 The Hebrew word translated in the KJV as "mist" is 'ed, which refers to a freshwater stream or fountain. The word occurs only here and in Job 36:27. The Septuagint (Greek version) has pege-"spring or well." A better rendering might be "fresh water welled up and watered the entire surface of the ground." Here is the first water to be applied to the modern life forms. This rain preceded the formation of man.
7 And the Gods formed man from the dust of the ground, and took his spirit (that is, the man's spirit), and put it into him; and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.
verse 7 See also the commentary for Moses 3:7. There is a significant difference between the spirit creation and the physical creation. During the first creation epoch, the spirit children of the Father were placed on the spirit earth on the sixth day (Moses 2:26-27). During the physical creation, man did not arrive on the earth until the seventh creative period or "time."
Though it is not clearly stated, this verse is describing the creation of both male and female, or more specifically, Adam and Eve (see Abraham 4:27).
From this verse's brief description, one may mistakenly assume that Adam's creation simply consisted of molding a manlike form from the dust of the earth and placing Adam's spirit into it. That aspect of the verse is, of course, metaphorical. Both Adam and Eve were born to celestial parents, Elohim and his eternal companion.
8 And the Gods planted a garden, eastward in Eden, and there they put the man, whose spirit they had put into the body which they had formed.
verse 8 "a garden eastward in Eden" There are two possible explanations for the immortal, paradisiacal condition which existed in the Garden of Eden. First, it is possible that the Lord removed all of the early life forms from the earth and then sanctified the entire earth in association to the third creation epoch. Thus, it might have been that all plant and animal life forms, including of course, Adam and Eve, were immortal at the time of the Eden story. The other possibility is that the rest of the world was mortal (as it had been for millions or even billions of years) and only in the Garden of Eden did an immortal, paradisiacal condition prevail.
"there they put the man" Both Adam and Eve were placed in the garden.
9 And out of the ground made the Gods to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food; the tree of life, also, in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
verse 9 "pleasant to the sight and good for food" God created the various forms of plant life not only for food but also to appeal to our esthetic sense of beauty.
"the tree of life" The fruit of the tree of life, when ingested, had the power to restore immortality to a mortal body, which is why Adam and Eve were driven out of the garden after their transgression-so they could not partake of the fruit of this tree.
"the tree of knowledge of good and evil" It is not clear whether the story of this tree is literal or figurative. If it is literal, then an immortal being's ingesting the fruit of this tree resulted in a state of mortality and a cessation of the immortal state. But perhaps it is only a figurative story as Elder Bruce R. McConkie has implied: "What is meant by partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is that our first parents complied with whatever laws were involved so that their bodies would change from their state of paradisiacal immortality to a state of natural mortality" ("Christ and the Creation," Ensign, June 1982, 15).
10 There was a river running out of Eden, to water the garden, and from thence it was parted and became into four heads.
verse 10 "There was a river running out of Eden" This verse refers to a river not named by the Lord running out of the continental land mass of Eden. Upstream from Eden there were four "heads" or tributaries that fed it. The Book of Moses gives additional information about these four tributaries (see Moses 3:10-14 and the commentary for these verses).
11 And the Gods took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden, to dress it and to keep it.
verse 11 "to dress it and to keep it" Paradise is not a place of idle rest and relaxation but a place where meaningful work is done.
12 And the Gods commanded the man, saying: Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat,
13 But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the time that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die. Now I, Abraham, saw that it was after the Lord's time, which was after the time of Kolob; for as yet the Gods had not appointed unto Adam his reckoning.
verse 13 See the commentary for Moses 3:17
"in the time that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die" Adam did, of course, eat the forbidden fruit and died within one thousand years. Thus, this phrase has given rise to the idea each of Abraham's "times" was only one thousand years long. We have amply previously discussed the age of our earth.
14 And the Gods said: Let us make an help meet for the man, for it is not good that the man should be alone, therefore we will form an help meet for him.
verse 14 "it is not good that the man should be alone" A person's eternal potential can be realized only within the bonds of eternal marriage (see D&C 131:1-4).
"we will form an help meet for him" The Hebrew for "help meet" is ezer k'negdo, which literally means "a help corresponding to him," one that is "equal to and adequate for him." Adam needed a mate who was complementary to him, who would make him complete.
verses 15-19 These verses contain the figurative telling of the birth of Eve. We know that Eve, just as was Adam, was born of the body of the celestial Eternal Father and a celestial Mother.
15 And the Gods caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam; and he slept, and they took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in the stead thereof;
16 And of the rib which the Gods had taken from man, formed they a woman, and brought her unto the man.
17 And Adam said: This was bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; now she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man;
verse 17 "bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh" Again, this does not mean that Eve's physical body was derived from Adam's body but rather that the bodies of Adam and Eve derive from a common source-they are genetically related. They at least had a common Father (God the Father) and perhaps a common mother who gave birth to their paradisiacal bodies. This interpretation is supported by the account of Jacob's initial meeting with Laban. When Laban learned that Jacob was his sister's son, he said, "Surely thou art my bone and my flesh" (Genesis 29:14).
"she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man" There is a play on words here. In Hebrew "man" is 'is, and "woman" is 'isah-the same word but with the addition of a feminine ending.
18 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.
verse 18 "shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife" Marriage is to be a decisive alteration of the earlier family relationship. A new household is set up, and one's spouse has priority over any earlier familial relationships. One of the primary purposes of mortality is to form an eternal companionship in the bonds of celestial marriage. Adam and Eve were the first on this earth to be sealed together for eternity.
"they shall be one flesh" This can be understood both literally and figuratively. Figuratively, it refers to the unity that should be an integral part of the marriage relationship. Literally, it is a reference to sexual relations between husband and wife, in which the two become "one flesh."
19 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
verse 19 Adam and Eve before the fall were in a state of childlike innocence, and they felt no shame or embarrassment when they were both naked.
20 And out of the ground the Gods formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them; and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that should be the name thereof.
21 And Adam gave names to all cattle, to the fowl of the air, to every beast of the field; and for Adam, there was found an help meet for him.