Ge 1:1, 2.
The Creation of Heaven and Earth.
1. In the beginning—a period of remote
and unknown antiquity, hid in the depths of eternal ages; and so the
phrase is used in Pr 8:22, 23.
God—the name of the Supreme Being,
signifying in Hebrew, "Strong," "Mighty." It is expressive of
omnipotent power; and by its use here in the plural form, is
obscurely taught at the opening of the Bible, a doctrine clearly
revealed in other parts of it, namely, that though God is one, there is
a plurality of persons in the Godhead—Father, Son, and Spirit,
who were engaged in the creative work (Pr
8:27; Joh 1:3, 10; Eph 3:9; Heb 1:2; Job 26:13).
created—not formed from any
pre-existing materials, but made out of nothing.
the heaven and the earth—the universe.
This first verse is a general introduction to the inspired volume,
declaring the great and important truth that all things had a
beginning; that nothing throughout the wide extent of nature existed
from eternity, originated by chance, or from the skill of any inferior
agent; but that the whole universe was produced by the creative power
of God (Ac 17:24; Ro 11:36). After this preface, the narrative is
confined to the earth.
2. the earth was without form and
void—or in "confusion and emptiness," as the words are
rendered in Isa 34:11.
This globe, at some undescribed period, having been convulsed and
broken up, was a dark and watery waste for ages perhaps, till out of
this chaotic state, the present fabric of the world was made to
the Spirit of God moved—literally,
continued brooding over it, as a fowl does, when hatching eggs. The
immediate agency of the Spirit, by working on the dead and discordant
elements, combined, arranged, and ripened them into a state adapted for
being the scene of a new creation. The account of this new creation
properly begins at the end of this second verse; and the details of the
process are described in the natural way an onlooker would have done,
who beheld the changes that successively took place.
The First Day.
3. God said—This phrase, which occurs so
repeatedly in the account means: willed, decreed, appointed; and the
determining will of God was followed in every instance by an immediate
result. Whether the sun was created at the same time with, or long
before, the earth, the dense accumulation of fogs and vapors which
enveloped the chaos had covered the globe with a settled gloom. But by
the command of God, light was rendered visible; the thick murky clouds
were dispersed, broken, or rarefied, and light diffused over the
expanse of waters. The effect is described in the name "day," which in
Hebrew signifies "warmth," "heat"; while the name "night"
signifies a "rolling up," as night wraps all things in a shady
4. divided the light from
darkness—refers to the alternation or succession of the one
to the other, produced by the daily revolution of the earth round its
5. first day—a natural day, as the
mention of its two parts clearly determines; and Moses reckons,
according to Oriental usage, from sunset to sunset, saying not day and
night as we do, but evening and morning.
6. firmament—an expanse—a beating
out as a plate of metal: a name given to the atmosphere from its
appearing to an observer to be the vault of heaven, supporting
the weight of the watery clouds. By the creation of an
atmosphere, the lighter parts of the waters which overspread the
earth's surface were drawn up and suspended in the visible heavens,
while the larger and heavier mass remained below. The air was thus "in
the midst of the waters," that is, separated them; and this being the
apparent use of it, is the only one mentioned, although the atmosphere
serves other uses, as a medium of life and light.
9. let the waters under the heaven be gathered
together unto one place—The world was to be rendered a
terraqueous globe, and this was effected by a volcanic convulsion on
its surface, the upheaving of some parts, the sinking of others, and
the formation of vast hollows, into which the waters impetuously
rushed, as is graphically described (Ps 104:6-9) [Hitchcock]. Thus a large part of the earth was left
"dry land," and thus were formed oceans, seas, lakes, and rivers which,
though each having its own bed, or channel, are all connected with the
sea (Job 38:10; Ec 1:7).
11. let the earth bring forth—The bare
soil was clothed with verdure, and it is noticeable that the trees,
plants, and grasses—the three great divisions of the vegetable
kingdom here mentioned—were not called into existence in the same
way as the light and the air; they were made to grow, and they grew as
they do still out of the ground—not, however, by the slow process
of vegetation, but through the divine power, without rain, dew, or any
process of labor—sprouting up and flourishing in a single
Ge 1:14-19. Fourth
14. let there be lights in the
firmament—The atmosphere being completely purified, the sun,
moon, and stars were for the first time unveiled in all their glory in
the cloudless sky; and they are described as "in the firmament" which
to the eye they appear to be, though we know they are really at vast
distances from it.
16. two great lights—In consequence of
the day being reckoned as commencing at sunset—the moon, which
would be seen first in the horizon, would appear "a great light,"
compared with the little twinkling stars; while its pale benign
radiance would be eclipsed by the dazzling splendor of the sun; when
his resplendent orb rose in the morning and gradually attained its
meridian blaze of glory, it would appear "the greater light" that ruled
the day. Both these lights may be said to be "made" on the fourth
day—not created, indeed, for it is a different word that is here
used, but constituted, appointed to the important and necessary office
of serving as luminaries to the world, and regulating by their motions
and their influence the progress and divisions of time.
Ge 1:20-23. Fifth
Day. The signs of animal life appeared in the waters and in the
20. moving creature—all oviparous
animals, both among the finny and the feathery tribes—remarkable
for their rapid and prodigious increase.
fowl—means every flying thing: The
word rendered "whales," includes also sharks, crocodiles, &c.; so
that from the countless shoals of small fish to the great sea monsters,
from the tiny insect to the king of birds, the waters and the air were
suddenly made to swarm with creatures formed to live and sport in their
Ge 1:24-31. Sixth
Day. A farther advance was made by the creation of terrestrial
animals, all the various species of which are included in three
classes: (1) cattle, the herbivorous kind capable of labor or
24. beasts of the earth—(2) wild
animals, whose ravenous natures were then kept in check, and (3) all
the various forms of creeping things—from the huge
reptiles to the insignificant caterpillars.
26. The last stage in the progress of creation
being now reached—God said, Let us make man—words
which show the peculiar importance of the work to be done, the
formation of a creature, who was to be God's representative, clothed
with authority and rule as visible head and monarch of the world. In
our image, after our likeness—This was a peculiar
distinction, the value attached to which appears in the words being
twice mentioned. And in what did this image of God consist? Not in the
erect form or features of man, not in his intellect, for the devil and
his angels are, in this respect, far superior; not in his immortality,
for he has not, like God, a past as well as a future eternity of being;
but in the moral dispositions of his soul, commonly called original
righteousness (Ec 7:29). As
the new creation is only a restoration of this image, the history of
the one throws light on the other; and we are informed that it is
renewed after the image of God in knowledge, righteousness, and true
holiness (Col 3:10; Eph 4:24).
28. Be fruitful, &c.—The human race
in every country and age has been the offspring of the first pair. Amid
all the varieties found among men, some black, some copper-colored,
others white, the researches of modern science lead to a conclusion,
fully accordant with the sacred history, that they are all of one
species and of one family (Ac 17:26).
What power in the word of God! "He spake and it was done. He commanded
and all things stood fast" [Ps 33:9].
"Great and manifold are thy works, Lord God Almighty! in wisdom hast
thou made them all" [Ps 104:24].
We admire that wisdom, not only in the regular progress of creation,
but in its perfect adaptation to the end. God is represented as pausing
at every stage to look at His work. No wonder He contemplated it with
complacency. Every object was in its right place, every vegetable
process going on in season, every animal in its structure and instincts
suited to its mode of life and its use in the economy of the world. He
saw everything that He had made answering the plan which His eternal
wisdom had conceived; and, "Behold it was very good" [Ge 1:31].