BBC: Genesis 2:4
These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. - Genesis 2:4
This verse receives its own attention to resolve the days of creation. For elsewhere it is six days that God took to create "the heavens and the earth" (Exd 20:11; 31:17) but here it is solely a day. Yet the whole of the creation story communicates that the heavens and earth were created before even the pronouncement of the word of God (Gen 1:2). A literal view introduces contradiction and a symbolic view destroys the historical progression of the six days. Did the creation of the heavens and earth even occur on one of the six days?
Instead of seeking to resolve the conflicts let the plain purpose of the passage be lifted. The word "generations" communicates authentic history. The authentic history of the heavens and earth are that they had the act of creation done on them. Then we are told the active, the Creator crafted the "earth and heavens". The reverse order of the verbs and elements is poetic and serves to show the poetic nature of the whole account. The heavens and earth were created (Gen 1:1) and then described at length (Gen 1:2-31).
The story told once can be told again. Man and woman have been created together in a day (Gen 1:26-31). And still this is made more clear in the forthcoming account of God's work to create His image in His creation.
*The Bible Blogging Commentary is a slow and simple treading of the Scriptures. No quotes from other theologians and no explicit Greek/Hebrew lessons.*