Home > Content Index > Humanity > God our Creator > Dust of the earth

Why did God make man out of the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7)?

dust of the earthaudio
Question: "Why did God make man out of the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7)?"

Genesis 2:7 teaches, “The Lord God formed a man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” With the rest of creation, God had simply spoken things into existence (e.g., Genesis 1:3, 14, 20, 24), but God does things differently with man.

Three important observations can be made. First, the fact that man was created from dust makes him unique among all of God’s creation. To create the sun, mountains, animal life, etc., God simply spoke. We read, “Then God said” over and over in Genesis 1. Human life, however, included the “dust of the earth” and the very breath of God. Man is a unique combination of earthly, natural material and life-giving power from God Himself. Such a mode of creation highlights the importance and value of human life.

Second, the use of dust suggests a certain lowliness. God did not use gold or granite or gemstones to make man. He used dust, a humble substance. What gives man his glory? The dust, or the breath of God within the dust? Genesis 3:19 notes man’s dependence upon God and the fragile nature of human life: “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

Third, the literary structure of the passage puts man’s creation from the dust of the earth in a place of significance. The structure of Genesis 2:5–9 can be broken down like this:

A No plant life (verse 5a)
  B No intervention by God (verse 5b)
   C No man to work the ground (verse 5c)
    D Mist from God (verse 6)
     E God creates man (verse 7a)
      X God gives life (verse 7a)
     E Man become a living creature (verse 7b)
    D Garden from God (verse 8a)
   C Man works the ground (verse 8b; cf. verse 15)
  B God intervenes (verse 9)
A Plant life exists (verse 9)

God could have chosen to create humans in any way He desired. However, Scripture records the particular way He did create—using both natural material (dust) and supernatural power to give humans a unique place in the cosmos. The recipe of dust of the earth + God’s breath emphasizes the supernatural power of God and the fragile nature of humanity. Human life is completely dependent upon God, and, as a result, humans are called to worship the Lord and to serve Him only.

Recommended Resource: Created in God’s Image by Anthony Hoekema

More insights from your Bible study - Get Started with Logos Bible Software for Free!

Related Topics:

What does it mean when God tells Adam, “For dust you are and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19)?

What does it mean that man is made in the image of God?

Is “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” in the Bible?

What is the meaning of the Hebrew word adamah?

How are human souls created?

Return to:

Questions about Humanity

Why did God make man out of the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7)?

Share this page on:

Find Out How to...

Statement of Faith
The Gospel
Crucial Questions
Content Index
Top 20 Questions

Question of the Week

Preferred Bible Version:


Subscribe to our Question of the Week

Get our Questions of the Week delivered right to your inbox!