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The Introduction—The Creation Account (1:1-2:3)
The object of this double title is to indicate that on the one hand, this is the Introduction which Moses has provided for the entire book of Genesis as well as, on the other hand, that this Introduction is given in the form of an account of creation.
It requires no deep insight to discern the basic character of this Introduction, both for the book as well as for all revelation. Man will go back in his thinking to the point where the origins of all things lie; he will desire to know how the world as well as all that is in it, and, most particularly, how he himself came into being. Here is the record, complete and satisfactory from every point of view, even if it does not perhaps answer every question that a prying curiosity might raise. He, however, who will ponder sufficiently what is here actually offered, will find facts of such magnitude as to stifle unseemly curiosity as to secondary matters.
Enthusiastic have been the comments of all who have read this account in an attitude of faith. Believing hearts are moved to devout praise of God and to adoration of His unbounded wisdom, power and mercy. Over against the criticism of our day even moderately critical writers offer comments such as Skinner (p. 11): "It is a bold thing to desiderate a treatment more worthy of the theme, or more impressive in effect, than we find the severely chiselled outlines and stately cadences of the first chapter of Genesis." Proksch, contrasting the basic thought of the chapter with all other literatures, advances the claim: "That 1.36the universe rises out of nothing by the almighty creative power of God is a thought so broad in its poetic as well as in its theological scope found nowhere in such clear-cut outlines in world literature before P."
When the question is raised as to the sources of the truths set forth in this Introduction, we must freely admit that we know nothing about them. There are several possibilities. That Moses himself received the whole chapter by direct revelation is possible. Equally, if not more, reasonable is the assumption that divine revelation communicated to our first parents the account of creation. From them it came by tradition to Moses, who recorded the whole under divine inspiration, purging it from errors or inaccuracies, should any have begun to creep into the traditional version of it by this time. That, however, such tradition may have continued relatively, if not entirely, pure appears from the following three facts: first, the number of links in the chain of persons from Adam to Abraham was very few because of man’s longevity at this time, and Abraham’s time was already one of intense literary activity; secondly, godly men who perpetuated this tradition would have employed extreme care to preserve it correct in all its parts; thirdly, the memory of men who trusted more to memory than to written records is known to have been unusually retentive. But whatever explanation an individual may devise to make plain to others that tradition may have played a part in bringing this priceless record to us, and even if he grant the possibility of written records of this tradition prior to the time of Moses, all such supposition dare never be construed as conflicting with the very basic fact that Genesis 1 is revelation.
1.37Suppositions like that of Dillmann and many others that the Israelitish mind was equipped with a better understanding of God and let the light of this insight be trained on the problem of the origin of all things and devised this which is to date still the best solution, are not satisfactory. Such claims are an attempt to dispose of immediate revelation as well as of plenary inspiration and are besides hardly reasonable. How could human ingenuity ever have penetrated into the divine order and manner of creation, when no witness to these works could ever be found? In any case, such explanations as to how the account was derived make of it a series of surmises and remove entirely the possibility of the objective correctness and the complete reliability of this record. All that remains is that of all speculations man ever elaborated about the origin of the world this is still by all odds the best. The claims and the attitude of the Scriptures, however, are met only by the explanation that says: This chapter was received by divine revelation; it contains full and absolute truth and only truth.
In order to make this scriptural account appear as just one more cosmogony it has become a common procedure to make more or less extensive comparisons with other cosmogonies as they are found here and there in the records of the traditions of the nations. We offer, however, a more extensive examination of these so-called "creation accounts" above in our Introductory Remarks (p. 27). A fair comparison with such materials makes our remarks above appear all the more reasonable.
Taking this creation account as a whole, how shall we arrange the work of the six days? Is there any possibility of grouping within the six days? Most schemes that are advanced are not entirely perfect, but they may yet contain a generous element of truth. It seems as though the best pattern or the categories that man employs are not of a big enough 1.38mold to serve for the creation as God brings it about. Let a few of these subdivisions be submitted. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), mentioned by Strack, suggested two triads of days, the first three concerned with works of division, the second three with works of embellishment. Yet the third day’s work in its second half certainly comes under the head of embellishment. A second suggestion notices the manifest parallel between the two triads of days, pointing to the fact that both the first and the fourth days are concerned with a work that begins on high with light (or light bearers). Then in the work of the second and the fifth days the work drops to a lower level, namely, to the firmament and to the birds of the air. Lastly, on the third and the sixth days the creative work moves on the level of the earth and accomplishes a double objective, namely on the third, separation of dry land and water and the production of green things, whereas on the sixth day comes the creation of land animals and man. The correspondence of the two triads from this point of view cannot be denied, but to try to imagine it as entirely adequate would overlook the work of the fifth day, which is double in character and drops not only to the level of the creation of the birds of the air but also, unfortunately, to the submarine level of the creation of fishes of the sea. More satisfactory is Koenig’s arrangement which sees four deficiencies or four instances of relative incompleteness listed in a definite order and sees the successive creative acts as removing these four in inverse order, as we shall presently demonstrate.
But quite apart from such attempts to fit the whole creation into a pattern of our own devising it is immediately apparent that the account as a whole proceeds from the lower to the higher, providing first the basic essentials for existence as well as for plant and for animal life, then running to a climax in the creation of man for whose well-being and well-ordered 1.39existence all previous steps in creation provide the adequate setting. So the account abundantly displays that God is a God of order. The very general formula devised by Driver (quoted by Skinner) is as satisfactory as any: "The first three days are days of preparation, the next three are days of accomplishment."
1. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
The phrase "in the beginning" (berêshîth) refers to the absolute beginning of created things, to the Uranfang. This fact is supported by the following arguments in the face of many and strong claims to the contrary. 1. The corresponding phrase in Greek, ἐν ἀρχῆ, which the Septuagint translators used here and which appears at the beginning of John’s Gospel, is plainly a reference to the absolute beginning. 2. The noun rêshîth appears without the article, appearing in use practically as a proper noun, Absolute Beginning (K. S. 294g). The Greek Hexapla of Orion supports this, for its transliteration with few exceptions gives βρησιθ, seldom βαρησηθ. 3. The rendering which takes the expression as referring to the absolute beginning of things makes for a simple, natural progression of thought and avoids that peculiar periodic sentence structure, which shall presently be discussed as highly unnatural.
Because this noun berêshîth is without the article, that does not allow for its being taken as a genitive or construct case, viz. "in the beginning of God’s creating," etc., for with that rendering attention is at once centred on the second verse and no reason appears for mentioning "the beginning" at all.
Here, then, at the opening statement of sacred Scripture we are taken back to that point to which the human mind naturally will revert and in reference to which it asks: "What was the beginning of things?" This solemn and pithy statement gives man the information: the beginning was made by God in His 1.40creation of heaven and earth. As far as this world is concerned, it simply had no existence before this time.
He that did the creative work is said to be God, ’elohîm. This Hebrew name is to be derived from a root found in the Arabic meaning "to fear" or "to reverence." It, therefore, conceives of God as the one who by His nature .and His works rouses man’s fear and reverence. It is used 2,570 times (KTAT-(K) p. 144). This name is not a characteristic mark of a particular source as E, or in a measure also P, as Old Testament criticism is in the habit of claiming. It is used by Moses in accordance with its meaning. The work recorded in chapter one in a very outstanding way sets forth God’s mighty works of power and majesty. God’s omnipotence outshines all other attributes in this account. Omnipotence rouses man’s reverence and holy fear rather than his love. In other words, it brings the Creator to man’s notice rather as ’Elohîm than from any other point of view. In stressing this we are not blind to the fact that this chapter also shows forth God as Yahweh, the faithful, merciful one. The claim, however, , that Yahweh might just as well be employed as ’Elohîm, if the meaning of these names is to be considered, really ignores the facts we have just emphasized above—facts which criticism, by the way, gives heed to far less carefully than conservative writers give attention to the arguments in favour of the various sources, E, J, P, D, etc.
A thought by Procksch should be noted here: "It so happens very appropriately that the first named subject of Genesis as well as of the Bible is ‘God’."
The verb describing God’s initial work is "created" (bara’). This verb is correctly defined as expressing the origination of something great, new and "epoch-making," as only God can do it, whether it be in the realm of the physical or of the spiritual. The verb bara’ does not of itself and absolutely 1.41preclude the use of existing material; cf. Isa. 65:18b: "Behold I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy." Also note v. 27 of this chapter. However, when no existing material is mentioned as to be worked over, no such material is implied. Consequently, this passage teaches creatio ex nihilo, "creation out of nothing," a doctrine otherwise also clearly taught by the Scriptures; Rom. 4:17; Heb. 11:3; cf. also Ps. 33:6, 9; Amos 4:13. The verb is never used of other than DIVINE activity.
The berõ’, which Kit. proposes in the margin in conformity with the claims of many, for bara’, i.e. the infinitive for the finite verb, and which yields the translation, "in the beginning of God’s creating," etc., is not only entirely unnecessary but unfortunately, leads to an involved and confused sentence structure in place of a simple and a clear one. Besides, such a change is born entirely out of the desire to make room for a particular interpretation, viz. the interpretation that claims long ages of the earth’s existence prior to the creative work here to be described. To use this change of vowels is the equivalent of substituting a confused road for a straight and a simple one.
The object of God’s creation was "the heavens and the earth." We should have said, He created "the universe." Since the Hebrew has no word for the universe and can at best say: "the all" (cf. Jer. 10:16; Isa. 44:24; Ps. 103:19; 119:91; Eccles. 11:5), certainly the far more colourful "heavens and earth" is to be preferred. Besides, there is a deeper truth involved. In reality the world is bipartite; it is not a unit as far as we are concerned. The two parts constituting the world or the universe were originally in perfect harmony with one another. Now there exists a deep breach between the two. The term shamáyim signifies the "upper regions" (K. W.) and is a plural form, a plural of intensity (K. C.), pointing to the heavenly spheres or regions which rise one above the other. 1.42This explanation is to be preferred to the other (e. g. K. S.) which makes this a dual in reference to the two halves of the heavens which stretch each from the zenith to the horizon. The word for "earth," ’érets, bears a meaning which may be "that which is lower," das Niedere.
Over against the claim that "the heavens and the earth" may well be the equivalent of "the universe" it is contended that "heavens" here can only mean the "firmament," as in v. 8, and "earth" can only refer to the "dry land," as in v. 10. But then the very proper question arises: why single out "heaven and earth" in this sense at all and mention their creation in v. 1? Besides, in this creation account another word is used in a broader and in a narrower sense; cf. "day" in 5a with "day" in 5b with "day" in 2:4—actually three meanings.
Now is this first verse a heading or a title? By no means; for how could the second verse attach itself to a heading by an "and"? Or is this first verse a summary statement akin to a title, after the Hebrew manner of narrative which likes to present a summary account like a newspaper heading, giving the gist of the entire event? Again, No. For if creation began with light and then with the organizing of existing material, the question would crowd persistently to the forefront: but how did this original material come into being? for v. 1 could not be a record of its origin, because it would be counted as a summary account of the things unfolded throughout the rest of the chapter. Verse one is the record of the first part of the work brought into being on the first day: first the heavens and the earth in a basic form as to their material, then light. These two things constitute what God created on the first day. The Hebrew style of narrative just referred to may or may not be employed on occasion, depending on the author’s choice. Here it does not happen to be used.
1.43Here also the statement may be disposed of which says: The initial creation was a chaos. Such an assertion is misleading. It may be meant in a way which would be entirely wrong. If it implies that as the record stands v. 1-2 show an unsatisfactory state of achievement, it is all wrong. However, if the disorganized state of the first steps of creation is called "chaos," with the reservation that this implies no criticism but is necessarily only the first and unavoidable step from lower to higher forms, then the statement may be used. Or if it is only intended as a statement which covers what v. 2 covers with other terms, it cannot be said to be wrong.
Before dropping this verse we should take issue with the question: "Does the term ’Elohîm, being a plural, embody a reference to the Holy Trinity?" Two extremes must be guarded against in submitting an answer. He goes too far who sees in this plural a direct and explicit reference to the Holy Trinity. The plural is a potential plural (K. S. 263 a-c) indicating the wealth of the potentialities of the divine being, chiefly in so far as God by His very nature and being kindles man’s deepest reverence. However, what all the wealth of this reverence-inspiring Being is, is not fully revealed in all detail by the Old Testament, least of all in the time of Moses. The term ’Elohîm, however, allows for all that which the fuller unfolding of the same old truth brings in the course of the development of God’s Kingdom. When, then, ultimately the truth concerning the Trinity has been revealed, the fullest resources of the term ’Elohîm have been explored, as far as man needs to know them. Consequently, he who would claim that the term can have no connection with the truth of the Holy Trinity goes too far. Nor dare it be forgotten, as we shall show in connection with v. 2 and 3, that the text itself introduces references to the persons of the Trinity without definitely indicating, of course, that they are distinct 1.44persons in the Godhead. In that connection certain New Testament words will be seen to have bearing upon the case. Consequently Luther’s statement, made in reference to v. 2, is quite in order when he says: "Consequently the Christian Church on this point displays a strong unity that in this description is to be found the mystery of the Holy Trinity." Even a second statement of Luther’s may be accepted, if it be construed in the sense of the first: "But we have clear testimony that Moses aimed to indicate the Trinity or the three persons in the one divine nature."
Before we examine v. 2 by itself it is necessary to see how v. 1-3 stand related to one another. There would be no occasion for giving attention to this matter if the familiar English versions (King James or A. R. V.) and the German are followed, for these very correctly indicate that the sequence of clauses is as natural as it can be. But two translations, diverging from the familiar form, have thrust themselves to the forefront, leaning for support on eminent Hebrew scholars. As representative of the one may count what Meek submits (The Old Testament, An American Translation): "When God began to create the heavens and the earth, the earth being a desolate waste, with darkness covering the abyss and the spirit of God hovering over the waters, then God said: ‘Let there be light.’" This translation makes v. 2 a parenthesis, or it would practically have it set off by dashes and makes of v. 1 the protasis and of v. 3 the apodosis. The second makes v. 1 protasis and v. 2 apodosis, thus: "When God created the heavens and the earth, then the earth was, etc. . . . and God said, etc." (Raschi et al.). A third might be listed here, although it has been disposed of above. It is that which makes v. 1 the heading and then proceeds with v. 2 and 3 as follows: Now as the earth lay there, a waste and empty mass—and darkness, etc. —then God said, etc., (Procksch). The last mentioned having been 1.45refuted, we shall dispose of the details involved in the first two as we examine v. 2 and v. 3 more fully. For a summary refutation let the following points be noted. Grammatically such translations as Meek and Raschi offer are possible but in this case highly improbable. The Hebrew does co-ordinate clauses where we prefer subordination. Longer sentences of involved structure are found also in Gen. 5:1 and Num. 5:12-15; Josh. 3:14-16 and in many other instances. But a chapter marked throughout by very simple sentence structure would never begin with so complicated a structure as any of the ones noted above. Besides, against the first combination it must be noticed that the first word of v. 2 could hardly be ha’arets but would have to be wattehî, in spite of occasional exceptions noted here and there for emphasis’ sake. Wellhausen’s dictum in regard to this modern translation is worthy of being preserved; he called it a "desperately insipid construction" (verzweifelt geschmacklose Construction).
2. And now, as far as the earth was concerned, it was waste and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was hovering upon the face of the waters.
Of the two parts of the universe mentioned the author abandons the first, "the heavens," as lying outside of the sphere of the present investigation, for of its creation we need not know or perhaps could not understand its details. Moses definitely limits himself to the second of the two parts by emphatically setting "the earth" first in the sentence. This yields a shade of thought which our translation above tries to reproduce by saying: "And now, as far as the earth was concerned." Or one might render: "Now this earth," etc. As has been remarked, from this point onward the point of approach may be said to be geocentric.
1.46be shaped and formed into definite molds; secondly, it must be peopled with all kinds of inhabitants or beings.
The next sentence, "and darkness was upon the face of the deep," indicates the last two deficiencies or incompletenesses characteristic of this newly formed earth—"deficiencies" being here taken not in the sense of a positive defect but negatively as mere want of those things which in the purpose of God were consecutively to be supplied. The verb "was" carries over from the preceding clause and need not be repeated here. All of what had thus far come into being was wrapped in complete and absolute darkness. This is the first deficiency. The second touched upon in this sentence is that which lay under the darkness was "the deep." Yet even here the expression used is not merely "upon the deep" but "upon the faces of the deep." This "deep" had a variety of aspects, "faces." In fact, since "deep," tehôm, from the root hûm, "to resound," signifies the surging, raging primeval waters, the term implies anything but a monotonous peace and uniformity. Besides, the absence of the article stamps the word as a kind of proper noun, viz. that one and only primeval deep. Whether now this original form is characteristic of the whole earth or merely of its surface; whether it involved an earth that had, as it were, a solid kernel but merely a disturbed surface; or whether solid matter and water were originally churned up into one vast conglomerate neither solid nor liquid, no investigation on our part will ever determine.
In fact, whatever efforts are made to throw light upon the matter by drawing upon Babylonian myths, and particularly upon the monstrous deity Tiâmat, only confuse the issues. Those who at once identify tehôm with Tiâmat do so without any warrant. The mere similarity of names does not make the Biblical account a derivative from Babylonian sources. As 1.48K. W. rightly remarks: "The spirit of the Old Testament has disavowed the personification of the term as well as its mythological implications." The holy writer was not going afield among the grotesque mythological figures of the Babylonian pantheon. His statement is too sober and the term employed quite uncontaminated by crude heathen notions. If any connection exists between the true, sober Biblical term tehôm and the mythological Tiâmat, the latter in the sober light of facts must be a derivation form the former during the process of the degeneration of the original truth possessed by mankind. Tiâmat lies so much farther down the scale as to appear as a very manifest corruption. That mere "waters" are meant here by tehôm is also apparent from the next clause, where the term "waters" is actually substituted for it.
Note well that we have above carefully avoided that rendering of the last clause of v. 2 which makes the verb involved to mean "brooding." A good example was set by the Septuagint translators who used the term epefereto, "was borne along"; "moved" (A. V.) is less colourful but not wrong. The verb rachaph from which the piel participle is used, mera (ch) chépheth, signifies a vibrant moving, a protective hovering. No single instance of the Biblical usage of the verb would suggest "brooding," a meaning which was foisted upon the word in an attempt to make it bear resemblance to various old myths that speak of the hatching out of the world egg—a meaning specially defended by Gunkel, the strong advocate of mythical interpretation. Deut. 32:11 surely will not allow for the idea of "brooding." An eagle may brood over eggs but not over "her young."‘ The fact that the Syriac root does happen to mean "brood" cannot overthrow the Biblical usage, which takes strong precedence over mere similarity of root in kindred languages. Koenig (K. W.) rightly shows how such similarity may mislead. The Syriac and the Aramaic melakh, which is the Hebrew 1.49malakh, means in Syriac and Aramaic "to give counsel" and incidentally "to rule," but in Hebrew it signifies "to be king." Comparative philology has its limitations. Or the Arabic hálika, "to perish," appearing as the Hebrew verb halakh signifies "to go."
But what exactly is "the Spirit of God"? Since in this account the noun for God ’elohîm is without a doubt definite, the word "spirit" also becomes definite, according to a simple rule of Hebrew syntax. Consequently, the thought must be ruled out that we are dealing with some such concept as "divine Spirit." It must definitely be rendered "the Spirit of God." Nor is there any warrant for rendering rûach as "wind" in this instance. The verb with which it is construed implies too much to let the statement merely mean that a wind fanned the face of the waters. Since, then, it actually is God’s Spirit, the question might definitely be formulated thus: "Does rûach ‘elohîm mean God’s spirit or God’s Spirit? Is it a mere potency in God or is it the Holy Spirit who is involved? Or does the term refer to a principle or to a person?" We must guard against overstatement of the case, but we maintain very definitely: the Spirit of God is the Holy Spirit, the third person in the Trinity. For all the attributes ascribed to this divine person in the Old Testament agree fully with what is revealed in the New Testament concerning His person and His work. Absolutely none other than the Holy Spirit is here under consideration. Yet it would be inaccurate and premature to claim that this passage alone conveys this fact clearly to the mind of man. It may have been much later in the course of the fuller unfolding of divine revelation that the truth came home distinctly to the mind of believers that God’s spirit was God, a separate person or hypostasis. Yet the harmony of the Word within itself and its inspiration by this same Holy Spirit necessitated that the statements made in earlier stages of revelation, 1.50nevertheless, are in accurate and full conformity with the truth. It may require the full light of New Testament revelation to enable us to discern that the Spirit of God here is the same as He who in the New Testament is seen to be the Holy Spirit; but having that light, we need not hesitate to believe that it sheds clear light back on the Old Testament usage of the expression. Davidson and Koenig in their Theology of the Old Testament may deny this. Even Oehler may hesitate to make a clear-cut assertion. This explanation, nevertheless, does better justice to the facts. Does it not seem reasonable that the Spirit of inspiration should have so worded the words that bear upon His activity that, when the full New Testament revelation has come, all statements concerning the Spirit are in perfect harmony with this later revelation?
We could never believe that this hovering of the Spirit over the face of the waters was idle and purposeless. From all other activities that are elsewhere ascribed to the Holy Spirit we conclude that His work in this case must have been anticipatory of the creative work that followed, a kind of impregnation with divine potentialities. The germs of all that is created were placed into dead matter by Him. His was the preparatory work for leading over from the inorganic to the organic. K.C. feels impelled to interpret this "hovering" as "an intensified and vitalized type of vibration." We should not be averse to holding that the foundation £or all physical laws operative in the world now was laid by this preparatory activity. Other passages relative to the Spirit as "the formative cause of all life" are to be found: Job 26:13; 27:3; Ps. 33:6; 104:30; 143:10; Isa. 34:16; 61:1; 63:11.
From the grammatical point of view it may be remarked that the participle mera (ch) chepheth refers to the past in a context which refers to the past (K. S. 237 a). Besides, as a participle it embodies the thought of continuation as well as the idea of 1.51repetition (K. S. 238 a). This "hovering" was not a single and instantaneous act. It rather describes a continued process. Máyim, "waters," is plural of extent not dual (K. S. 259d). The article before "waters" is the article of "relative familiarity."
3. And God said: Let there be light! and there was light.
Nothing could be more uncalled for and unnatural than to try to make this verse a part of a complicated sentence structure. The simple statement wayyó’mer, "and He said," is apt to be estimated too lightly in this connection. It shows the manner in which God worked—by His Word. Heb. 11:3 gives the clearest expression of this fact. That in reality this creation was in and through the Son of God, who is also called the Word, appears from Col. 1:16; John 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6; so that the second Person of the Holy Trinity is seen to be involved in the work of creation. True, this is but obscurely taught at this point, but it becomes a matter that is clearly confirmed by the New Testament. In the light of these later passages we must admit that the truth itself is provided for by the nature of the statements found in this basic record. All this serves to explain and to confirm more fully what we said above on v. 1 as conveying a reference to the Holy Trinity.
But besides it is here very clearly taught in what manner the creative work proceeded. It was all wrought by God’s omnipotent word, not by mysterious emanations from the divine being, not by natural processes, not by self-causation, but in a manner worthy of God and revealing the character of God. He is at once discerned to be divinely powerful, intelligent, and far above the level of His poor creatures: "He speaks and it is done; He commands and it stands fast" (Ps 33:9). Nothing is altered in reference to this fact if it be pointed out that as we now read the record the primal substance, "heaven and earth," was not said 1.52(v. 1) to have been made by a divine word. To argue that it was not is to use the poor argument from silence. We do not know how this was made. But that for all the works that follow God is said to have spoken simply aims to bring that mode of the process more strongly to our attention.
After the primary substance on the first day the most ethereal of all things is brought into being, "light." It is at the same time the most essential prerequisite for life and existence. Since God proceeds in an orderly fashion, He begins at the natural starting point. We may not be shooting wide of the mark if we infer that with light that other form of energy, heat, must have sprung into being. How inextricably both are interwoven in the sun we all clearly see.
The Hebrew is really more expressive than the English for the word spoken by God which we render: "Let there be light." It is a vigorous imperative of the verb hayah, "to become": "Become light" and "became light." The German comes closer to the original: Es werde Licht und es ward Licht. He who notices at once that there was no sun to serve as a vehicle for the light observes the truth. But it ill behooves man to speak an apodictic word at this point and to claim that light apart from the sun is unthinkable. Why should it be? If scientists now often regard light as merely enveloping the sun but not as an intrinsic part of it, why could it not have existed by itself without being localized in any heavenly body? If, then, another hasty deduction is based upon this observation in reference to the length of the first three days, as though they could not have been twenty-four hour days because they were not regulated by the sun, the serious limitations of this argument are palpably apparent. The last three days are clearly controlled by the sun, which is created on the fourth day, and all of them are described in the same terms used for indicating the nature and the course of the 1.53first three—a strong argument that the first six days were alike in length and in nature and normal days of twenty-four hours.
No one need think it strange that an inanimate object is addressed as animate when God speaks to the light. The situation is really even stranger: God speaks to the things that are not that they might be. The nature of creation requires just that. K.C. need hardly list instances where inanimate objects are addressed; they do not constitute real parallels, for in every case objects already in existence are referred to: Isa. 43:6; Amos 9:3; Nah. 1:4; Hag. 1:11.
So of the four deficiencies listed above one has been removed, "darkness."
A certain order prevails in regard to significant terms employed in this account. Delitzsch first drew attention to it. He finds ten creative words introduced by "and He said." Seven times the expression "and there was" is found, chronicling the result. "And He called" is found three times; "And He blessed," three times; "good" is used seven times. Whether these numbers were designed and counted by the author we cannot say. In any case, they tally with reality as it actually appears in the account: just so many times God spoke, blessed, etc. Even as in the world of nature certain things now appear in stated sequence or uniformity according to regular patterns, so God Himself, being a God of order, operates after a pattern of order in harmony with His own being. For seven is the number of divine works and operations; three, the mark of the divine person; ten, the mark of completeness. In God there is nothing that is accidental. Even the number of steps taken by Him in His work are in fullest harmony with His nature and being.
4. And God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness.
1.54Any account may be misread, and thoughts may be imputed to it that are utterly unworthy of it. So here it would surely be beneath the level of the pure and worthy conception of God which pervades the account to make this verse yield the thought that upon inspection God discerned that the work had turned out well, and so He promptly expressed His approval. Rather, this is, on the one hand, for our definite information that we might note that all works wrought by God were actually good and perfect and in every sense adequate for their purpose. There was no experimentation of an unskilled craftsman. There was no trying and testing after the fashion of toiling men. In fact, another very noble conception pervades it all; since there are no other beings to herald the Creator’s praise, He, having achieved so praiseworthy a work, in this account Himself voices His approval that all men might know that in the very highest sense His work merited praise. The word for "good," tobh, is perhaps best rendered as "excellent" in these instances (B D B).
The construction of the first clause is marked by a slightly unusual order of words. It literally runs thus: "God saw the light that it was good" (A. V.), the noun "light" being taken into the first clause by "anticipation," also called antitopsis (K. S. 414 b). Besides, the conjunction kî is used more commonly than ’asher to introduce such object clauses (K. S. 384 f).
It had better also be noted that we have thus far had two so-called anthropomorphisms: "God said" (v. 3) and "God saw" (v. 4). This should be remembered over against those who attempt to set chapter one to 2:3 over against the rest of chapter two as though two divergent accounts were being presented by different authors, who held variant conceptions of God, the author of chapter one being usually regarded as having a more exalted conception of God, and the 1.55author of chapter two as presenting a more anthropomorphic and less exalted view of the divine nature. Anthropomorphisms are certainly found also in chapter one.
When the next clause states, "God separated the from the darkness," this does not mean "separated" in the sense of "disentangled." They were not commingled together. Wayyabhdel means literally, "And he caused a division," that is in point of time, one functioning at one time, the other dominating at another. One is as much an entity or principle as the other. "Darkness" is not Cancelled and put out of existence. We can perhaps go so far as to claim that a "spatial" separation was also involved according to the terms of this account. Job 38:19 ff., though largely a poetic statement, seems to give warrant for such a deduction. To make the idea of separation still more prominent the preposition "between" is repeated before the second noun, and both nouns are given the article. "Light" appeared already at the beginning of the verse with the article of relative familiarity (K. C.).
5. And God called the light day and the darkness He called night. Then came evening, then came morning―the first day.
On "came evening" see v. 8; also on the derivation of "evening."
To appreciate what this act means it is necessary to bear in mind what the Hebrew idea of giving a name or "calling a name" to an object implies. For this includes not only finding a convenient label to attach to a thing that it might thereby be identified, but especially the idea of expressing the very nature of a thing. In this act God did not find names for man to use when speaking of day and night; there was not even a man present to hear these names. But this act reports that God fixed day and night separately for their respective purposes. This concluded the 1.56first day’s work, for now the light prevailed that man might put it to the uses for which God intended it, and night was fixed to fit the general scheme.
In the interest of accuracy it should be noted that within the confines of this one verse the word "day" is used in two different senses. "Day" (yôm) over against "night" (láyelah) must refer to the light part of the day, roughly, a twelve hour period. When the verse concludes with the statement that the first "day" (yôm) is concluded, the term must mean a twenty-four hour period. If any attempt is made to fix the time of the year when the creative work was done, the vernal equinox seems most likely to fit the needs of the case.
Extensive discussion has centred around the last statement of v. 5: "Then came evening, then came morning—the first day." To try to make this mean that the day began with evening, as days did according to the later Jewish reckoning (Lev. 23:32), fails utterly, because verse 5 reports the conclusion of this day’s work not its beginning. Or again, to make this statement refer to two parts of a long geologic period: the first part a kind of evening; the second a kind of morning; both together a kind of long period, runs afoul of three things: first, that "evening" nowhere in the Scriptures bears this meaning; secondly, neither does "morning"; thirdly, "day" never means "period."
One major difficulty lying in the path is the attempt to make this whole statement like a problem in addition: evening plus morning, result: one day. Luther’s translation, somewhat free at this point, seemed to support this view: da ward aus Abend undMorgen der erste Tag, i.e. "evening and morning went to make up the first day." In reality, a vast absurdity is involved in this point of view. An evening may be stretched to include four hours, a morning could be said to be four or even six hours long. The 1.57total is ten, not twenty-four hours. The verse, however, presents not an addition of items but the conclusion of a progression. On this day there had been the creation of heaven and earth in the rough, then the creation of light, the approval of light, the separation of day and night. Now with evening the divine activities cease: they are works of light not works of darkness. The evening (’érebh), of course, merges into night, and the night terminates with morning. But by the time morning is reached, the first day is concluded, as the account says succinctly, "the first day" and everything is in readiness for the second day’s task. For "evening" marks the conclusion of the day, and "morning" marks the conclusion of the night. It is these conclusions, which terminate the preceding, that are to be made prominent. They are "the terminations of the two halves of the first day" (Procksch).
There ought to be no need of refuting the idea that yôm means period. Reputable dictionaries like Buhl, B D B or K. W. know nothing of this notion. Hebrew dictionaries are our primary source of reliable information concerning Hebrew words. Commentators with critical leanings utter statements that are very decided in this instance. Says Skinner: "The interpretation of yôm as aeon, a favourite resource of harmonists of science and revelation, is opposed to the plain sense of the passage and has no warrant in Hebrew usage." Dillmann remarks: "The reasons advanced by ancient and modern writers for construing these days to be longer periods of time are inadequate." There is one other meaning of the word "day" which some misapprehend by failing to think through its exact bearing: yôm may mean "time" in a very general way, as in 2:4 beyôm, or Isa. 11:16; cf. B D B, p. 399, No. 6, for numerous illustrations. But that use cannot substantiate so utterly different an idea as "period." These two conceptions lie far apart. 1.58References to expressions like "the day of the Lord" fail to invalidate our contentions above. For "the day of the Lord," as B D B rightly defines, p. 399, No. 3, is regarded "chiefly as the time of His coming in judgment, involving often blessedness for the righteous."
Other arguments to the contrary carry very little weight. If it be claimed that some works can with difficulty be compressed within twenty-four hours, like those of the third day or the sixth, that claim may well be described as a purely subjective opinion. He that desires to reason it out as possible can assemble fully as many arguments as he who holds the opposite opinion. Or if it be claimed that "the duration of the seventh day determines the rest," let it be noted that nothing is stated about the duration of the seventh. This happens to be an argument from silence, and therefore it is exceptionally weak. Or again, if it be claimed that "the argument of the fourth (our third) commandment confirms this probability," we find in this commandment even stronger confirmation of our contention: six twenty-four hour days followed by one such day of rest alone can furnish a proper analogy for our labouring six days and resting on the seventh day; periods furnish a poor analogy for days. Finally, the contention that our conception "contradicts geology" is inaccurate. It merely contradicts one school of thought in the field of geology, a school of thought of which we are convinced that it is hopelessly entangled in misconceptions which grow out of attempts to co-ordinate the actual findings of geology with an evolutionistic conception of what geology should be, and so is for the present thrown into a complete misreading of the available evidence, even as history, anthropology, Old Testament studies and many other sciences have been derailed and mired by the same attempt. We believe that writers on the subject like Price and Nelson deserve far more consideration than is being accorded them.
1.59Now follows in v. 6-8 the creative work of the second day, the creation of the firmament or the lower heavens (Erdhimmel).
6. And God said: Let there be a firmament in middle of the waters, and let it be causing a division between waters and waters.
Again a creative word having the same power as the one of the first day, in reference to which Luther said: "God does not speak grammatical words but real things that actually exist." The "firmament" that results is called raqîa’. It comes from the root meaning "to hammer" or "to spread out." Therefore, by some the word is rendered "expanse." Our "firmament" is from the translation of the Vulgate, firmamentum, which involves the idea of something that firmly put in place. The Greek στερέωμα conveys the same idea. Yet the raqîa’ is the vault or dome of the heavens, or "that immense gaseous ocean, called the atmosphere, by which the earth is encircled" (Whitelaw). That so widely differing definitions as "dome" and "gaseous ocean" can be given in one breath is due to the fact, that whole set of physical laws is involved which makes the lower heavens possible: an air space encircling the earth, evaporation of waters, rising of gaseous vapours, etc. For the purpose of the firmament is declared to be that it be "in the middle of the waters" and "causing a division between waters and waters." Apparently, before this firmament existed, the earth waters on the surface of the earth and the cloud waters as we now know them were contiguous without an intervening clear air space. It was a situation like a dense fog upon the surface of the waters. Clear vision of all except the very nearest objects must have been impossible. Free activity unhampered by the fog blanket would have been impossible. Man would not have had an appropriate sphere for activity, nor could sunlight have penetrated freely to do its beneficent and 1.60cheering work. Now the physical laws that cause clouds and keep them suspended go into operation. These clouds constitute the upper waters. The solid masses of water collected upon earth constitute the lower waters. He who has observed that the heavens may pour down unbelievable quantities of waters will not hesitate to call these upper lighter cloud masses "waters" also. The languages familiar to us have the same viewpoint as v. 8, which calls this firmament "heavens." The cloud heaven is the one we mean. The English word "heaven" is from the root "to heave" or "lift up."
Very queer constructions have been put upon this raqîa’. A. Jeremias wrapped up in his speculations on Babylonian mythology and the great importance the signs of the zodiac played in Babylonian thought, identifies the raqîa’ with the zodiac (Tierkreis). A sober reading of the definition v. 6-8 gives of the "firmament" ought to make such an attempt impossible. Far more common is that view which imputes singular crudities to the Biblical narrative at this point. Let Dillmann furnish the picture: The raqîa’" was in olden times conceived of as made out of more or less solid matter, firm as a mirror of glass, ... supported by the highest mountains as by pillars ... having openings," namely the windows of heaven through which rain might be dropped upon the earth. But in spite of passages like Rev. 4:6; 15:2; 22:1 there is no doctrine of the Scriptures to the effect that there were "ethereal waters," and though the "windows of heaven" are referred to (7:11; Ps. 78:23; 2 Kings 7:2; Isa. 24:18), these purely figurative expressions (also e. g. Job 26:11) are such as we can still use with perfect propriety, and yet to impute to us notions of a crude view of supernal waters stored in heavenly reservoirs would be as unjust at it is to impute such opinions to the writers of the Biblical books. The holy writers deserve at least the benefit 1.61of the doubt, especially when poetic passages are involved. Again: the view expressed in this verse is not crude, absurd, or in any wise deficient. Its simple meaning has been shown above.
The expression wîhî mabhdîl, "and let it be causing a division," presents a very strong case where the participle is used to express duration or permanence of a certain relationship (K. S. 239 b; G. K. 116 r). Yehî is repeated to make the separate parts of the process stand out more distinctly (K. S. 370 s).
7. And God made the firmament and He caused a division between the waters under the firmament and the waters above the firmament: and it was so.
With a certain measure of circumstantiality the author reports in detail that God actually made those things-that He had bidden come into being. This now does not imply that the initial word (v. 6), "Let there be a firmament," was inadequate to cause it to come into being, and so God actually had to "make" (’asah) it. This mode of statement of v. 7 merely unfolds in greater detail that the initial command to come into being involved the full exercise of God’s creative power, which continued operative after the word had been spoken until the work was brought to completion. For "he made" (’asah) dare not be construed, as involving a mode of operation radically different from creating (bara’), for a comparison of the use of the two verbs in v. 21 and in v. 25 shows that they may be used interchangeably. From one point of view one and the same task is created, i. e. is one of those marvellous, epoch-making achievements characteristic of God; from another point of view this task is made, i. e. God employs His almighty power and energy to carry it through till it is completed.
A textual problem needs to be considered here. Kit. in the margin suggests removing the "and it was so" (wayhi khen) from the end of v. 7 and 1.62appending it to the end of v. 6 after the example of the Septuagint translators and after the analogy of v. 9, v. 11, v. 15, v. 24, v. 30, where it is inserted before the actual carrying out of the thing ordained is reported. However, though a certain quite stereotyped pattern is followed by the author throughout the account in recounting the work of the individual days, the adherence to fixed forms need not be so rigid as to preclude the slightest departure from them. The situation at the close of v. 26 is the same as that of our verse. There the Greek translators did not insert the wayhi khen, proving themselves inconsistent in their corrective endeavours. The text here needs no improvement.
No effort should be made to render literally the compound preposition mittάchath le, "from under to." Mittάchat alone means only "under." Compound prepositions are wont to be followed by le (K. S. 281 p, and G. K. 119 c2).
8. And God called the firmament heavens; and came evening, and came morning—second day.
Again, the giving of the name to the object just created is more than an outward thing. What the term "heavens" implies, that is what the new arrangement will serve to be for man. All this, especially the term "heavens," gives us warrant for describing this creative work as we did in connection with v. 6.
Our rendering, as in v. 5, "then came evening" is not as exact from one point of view as it might be. Wayhî is not the verb "come," but is from hayah, "to be," or even better "to become." This latter idea to show the progression of time we felt could well be marked by the English idiom, "then came evening," etc. The word for "evening," ’érebh, is commonly derived from the corresponding Hebrew root whose Arabic parallel means "to enter," "to go in." So, apparently, 1.63a poetic thought is involved in that the sun is thought of as going into its chamber, a thought found also in Ps. 19:5.
After "one" the ordinals are used, "day the second" (K. S. 315 n).
There follows in v. 9-13 the double work of the third day.
9. And God said: Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear; and it was so.
The second day’s work may still be regarded from one point of view as being connected with the work of the first day. The light of the first day requires a free space, the clear atmosphere, in order that it might make its life-giving work felt upon plants and upon man. So "the heavens" (v. 6-8), i. e. the firmament, aids in the distribution of light. But three of the deficiencies noted under v. 2 still prevail. The tehôm is now to be disposed of in the work of the third day.
The expression "waters under the heavens" must be taken in the light of the preceding division made on the second day. The "waters above the heavens" are the clouds. The waters on the unformed surface, perhaps seething and surging as tehôm suggests, are here under consideration. Waters are to be gathered together to be by themselves; dry land is to assemble by itself. If the waters are to be gathered together "unto one place," this expression may be regarded as sufficiently general to cover all oceans, or "the seven seas" for that matter. These water are by themselves; that is their "one place." So again "the dry land," hayyabbashah, literally: "the dry," involved a limitation in the figure of synecdoche; the term really means continents, but continents are primarily "dry land." The verb "let be seen," tera’eh, is an imperfect used as an optative (K. S. 183 b).
1.64The verse concludes with the customary "and it was (or became) so" to indicate that which is bidden to come into being at once forms itself.
As to the method followed in the separation of dry land and water we can Say little, Did depressions form and the waters rush down into them? We might think so. Or did elevations and mountains thrust themselves upward in the process of the congealing of the dry land and shed the waters as they rose? (Ps. 104:7-9), in describing the work of this day, seems to imply the latter course, though the expressions used may be poetic rather than exact. No one, it seems, will ever be able to speak a final verdict in regard to this question.
But, surely, in the course of these gigantic upheavals, not catastrophic in nature because they involve organization rather than disruption, there was a tremendous amount of geologic formation. In fact, it would be perfectly safe to assume that all basic and all regular formations were disposed of in this day’s work. As a result, indeed, no record of the rapidity with which, certain formations took place is written upon the various formations, for vast as these formations were, they were controlled by the orderly operations of divine omnipotence and by these potentialities, no doubt, which the Spirit "hovering over the face of the waters" had implanted. Even these basic forms might, therefore, offer to him who acts on the assumption that there never were any accelerated formations the appearance of things laid down by the slow process of nature that we see in operation at this late day. But this ninth verse surely teaches that what we call geologic formations took place in titanic and gigantic measure at a vastly accelerated pace in a truly miraculous creative work as astounding as the rest.
As far as the expression yammîm, "seas," (v. 10) is concerned, it must be noted that it is used in a loose 1.65sense so as to include every body of water, like inland lakes and also the rivers. But since the area of the seas is vastly in excess of that of the smaller bodies, the name is taken from the outstanding part, a parte potiori.
Just because the Greek translators misread the word miqweh, "collection," for the word maqôm, "place," that does not give any better reading or occasion for a textual change (Kit.). To call the newly assembled waters "the collection of waters" is most appropriate (v. 10); to say that they are to collect in "one place" is equally appropriate (v. 9). The clause added by the Septuagint is a pedantic attempt at improvement.
10. And God called the dry land earth and the collection of waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good.
The meaning of the word "earth" was discussed under v. 1. The propriety of the use of the term "sea" Was treated just before this verse. What God’s calling signifies was shown in connection with v. 5.
Here is the place for discussing what reasonable explanation may be offered for the fact that at the conclusion of the work of the second day the customary approval of the Creator is not recorded (v. 8); but that it does appear now at the conclusion of the work of the third day (v. 10). As was shown at the beginning of the explanation of v. 9, the work of the second day reaches back and completes the work of the first day from one point of view. In a more decided sense the work of the third day reaches back and completes the work of the second in reference to the separation of water. The second day merely raises the surface fogs making them clouds, but the earth waters are still entangled with the solid matter. So the work of the second day was relatively incomplete, so much so that the divine approval, "it was good," 1.66was withheld, but it is in reality included in the approval bestowed upon the third day.
Note the chiasmus of v. 10: verb, object—object verb (K. S. 339 o).
11. And God said: Let the earth produce grass, and herbs yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind whose seed is in them upon the earth; and it was so.
The second half of the work of the third day is here recorded. This work attaches itself quite naturally to the preceding work: the dry land just formed is at once to bring forth all forms of vegetation. The work of this half of the day is not immediate creation in the sense of the works preceding. For in the instances that went before the word was spoken and the result followed. In this instance the earth is the mediate agent, being bidden to produce whatever vegetation is necessary by a process of highly accelerated growth. Such a work is neither of a higher nor of a lower character than are the other works. Upon closer reflection this verse is seen to answer a question often asked, whether the plant preceded the seed, or the seed the plant. Since the seed is not bidden to bring forth but the earth is, and since, the things brought forth are first to produce seed, and since nothing indicates the prior creation of seed, the only possibility left open to us is to believe that plants and herbs came first. This still leaves room for the possibility that the Spirit in His hovering implanted the potentialities that here unfold themselves.
How do the things produced by the earth differ from one another? The three orders mentioned are (1) grass, (2) herbs, (3) trees. Some put the three items down as independent classes in an ascending scale (e. g. Delitzsch). Some make (2) a genitive dependent on (1), having as a result a pair of doubles "grass of herb" and "tree of fruit," as the Greek version βοτάνην χόρτου and ξύλον κάρπιμον. Still others make 1.67(1) the general term covering all and (2) and (3) subdivisions of (1). We feel that the first point of view alone is correct and does justice to the meaning of the words employed. "Grass" represents the word déshe’, whose root signifies "to be damp." Whatever grows in a well-watered spot will be of a fresh green, therefore the word is rendered frisches Gruen. Since, no doubt, these three classes aim to cover all vegetation in so far as it is of interest to man, the word déshe’ may well be said to include such things as mosses and other plants designed to carpet the earth. The second term, "herbs," is a singular collective noun ’ésebh, also translated "herbage." That the word is really distinct from déshe’ in meaning appears first from its use in passages like 2 Kings 19:26 and Isa. 37:27 where in an enumeration both are mentioned separately. Again the characteristic mark ascribed to it in this verse is noteworthy: mazría’ zéra’, literally, seeding seed, therefore "yielding seed." Grasses, for that matter, yield seed too, but if specific mention of the seed is made only in the second class, apparently this refers to something like seed-bearing pods which make the seed more prominent as a separate feature. According to scriptural usage man eats ’ésebh; see 1:29 and 3:18. So do cattle, (Deut. 11:15). This being a broad class name, it must include things such as vegetables, or at least, generally speaking, everything between grass and trees and, without a doubt, the various grains.
So, too, the last term must be used in a very broad sense. "Fruit-bearing trees," again a singular collective ’ets peri, must include both trees that bear fruit as well as trees yielding nuts and cones and, surely, all bushes yielding berries. For the expression translated literally means only "tree of fruit." Two other marks, however, are appended to this class: first, these fruit trees bear fruit "after their kind," a peculiar and definite limitation, which all those 1.68understand best who have seen how the "kind" sets limitations upon all who would mix kinds and cross them. Nature itself here is seen to have definite limits fixed which appear as constant laws or as insurmountable barriers. The last mark stamped upon this third class of vegetable growth is "whose seed is in them upon the earth." The seed needed for the propagation of the particular kinds is seen to be in the fruit. So whether the fruit be edible or not, as long as it has seed qualities, it meets the requirements of this mark. The concluding phrase for this mark, "upon the earth," might perhaps better have been rendered as "above the ground." For to try to make this phrase modify the verb tadhshe’ at the beginning of the sentence certainly removes it far from the word modified. Besides, the characteristic thing about this "fruit-bearing seed" is that it usually hangs at some distance above the ground. Then, too, ’érets does mean "ground," and ’al does mean "above."
These three broad classes of vegetation may not coincide with botanical distinctions as science now makes them. But, assuredly, they are seen to be a general and a very appropriate type of division as far as man’s use of them is concerned, and in some ways the distinctions made are seen to be very apt. The lines of demarcation drawn at creation are just as sharp now as they were then.
This verse closes with an, "and it was so," to indicate again how immediate was the fulfilment of the thing commanded.
Tadshe’ is, of course, a jussive or a yakteel elevatum (K. S. 189), and déshe’ and zéra’ are cognate objects.
We should yet draw attention to the fact that the things mentioned in 2:5 are not to be included in the above classification, and so reservations must be made in reference to our use of the terms "vegetables" and "bushes" in the above discussion.
1.69If above in v. 7 the "and it was so" stood after it had been reported that the individual things to be created had actually come into being, here in v. 11 the "and it was so" precedes this latter statement, (K. S. 369b).
12. And the earth produced grass and herbs yielding seed after their kind and trees yielding fruit whose seed was in them after their kind; and God saw that it was good.
The accomplishment of the things ordered in v. 11 is reported in this verse in terms that are not a wooden repetition of v. 11; for after "seed" is inserted "after their kind’" to emphasize how the "kind" limitation also applies to the herbs, though this had not been mentioned previously. So, too, after "trees" the word "of fruit" is omitted, since this idea is covered by the qualifying phrase "bearing fruit." The work of the second half of the third day is also to be found "excellent" in divine approval, so that the statement, "and it was good," appears for each of the two halves of this day.
13. Then came evening, then came morning, —the third day.
On this verse compare above v. 5.
It is true that the first three days have no sun and no moon to furnish and to measure the needed light. But that fact does not in any wise warrant trying to make these days appear as different from the following three or four, for the pattern into which all six days of work fall is consistently the same for all, "then came evening, then came morning." It is the author’s purpose by this means emphatically to declare the six days alike as to length and general character regular twenty-four hour days. Nothing but the desire to secure harmony with the contentions of certain physical sciences ever could have induced men to tamper with this very plainest of exegetical results.
1.70Follows the work of the fourth day in v. 14-19.
Since this has to do with the appointment of luminaries, we see, first of all, how this day’s work attaches itself to the work of the third day, as well as how it reaches over to the works that are yet to follow. For the vegetation that was brought into being by the work of the preceding day needs not only light but also seasons with modification of light. Consequently, that intricate set of operations that brings seasonal changes for vegetation and for man now appropriately follows.
14, 15. And God said: Let there be luminaries in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night, and let them be for signs and seasons and for days and years; and let them be for luminaries in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth; and it was so.
It at once stands out in reference to the work of this day that the purpose of the things that are made to function is stated in a far more detailed fashion than is the ease in regard to any other of the creative works. Nothing in the text explains this greater fulness of statement, but the suggestion advanced by Dillmann and others may be as satisfactory as any: "Is there perhaps a silent contrast involved with the superstition of the heathen that is wont to attach itself to the stars?" The statement, therefore, is unusually exhaustive in order to show what purposes the Almighty fixed for the heavenly bodies and to leave no room for heathen misconstruction.
At once now the next problem suggests itself: how do the "luminaries" stand related to the light which was created on the first day? With this is involved a second question: how do these luminaries stand related to the heavens, which were created on the first day (v. 1)? The analogy of "the earth" created simultaneously with "the heavens" (v. 1) and its equipment and arrangement up till this point 1.71to the sun, was tempered specifically to the needs of plant and animal life upon our planet. In any case, the purposes following are definitely tied up with having the sun in particular function as the primary light-bearer.
Consequently, though day and night following one another in rotation function satisfactorily as day and night without sun and moon, from this point onward the dividing of day and night is tied up specifically with these luminaries. So this purpose is stated first. The adverbial modifier "in the firmament of the heavens" shows the relation of the fourth day’s work to that of the second. The firmament prepared in advance had to be thus prepared, otherwise the light of these luminaries would have failed to benefit the earth. The singular verb yehî is followed by the masculine plural (feminine only as to form) me’ôrôth, according to general Hebrew practice of letting the most general form of the verb begin the thought (G. K. 145 o).
But the luminaries have functions other than to divide day and. night. The fourteenth verse alone expresses two more general functions. The first of these two is so broad in scope as to cover four items, expressed by the terms, "and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years." A wide diversity of opinion exists as to the actual enumeration here given: are these two, three, or four distinct objects? Nothing very vital hinges on the answer. For though we stated above that four purposes are here listed, we could readily from one point of view consent to reduce them to three. For the preposition "for" (le) is used but three times and has a double object in the last instance—the closely related terms: "days and years." Others, like Koenig, make a double hendiadys, thus, "for signs, as well for seasons as also for days and also years." This again, depending on the individual’s, viewpoint, might mean either three or two 1.73purposes. But though hendiadys is a common enough figure, we feel that nothing definitely indicates its use here; and also we notice that such translations push the independent meaning of the word "signs" too much into the background.
Now "signs" (’ôthôth) is here used in the broadest possible sense. Indeed, the luminaries are signs from various points of view. They are "signs" to devout faith, declaring the glory of their Creator (cf. Ps. 8 and 19). They are "signs" by which men get their bearings, or the point of the compass by day or by night. They may convey "signs" in reference to future events (Matt. 2:2; Luke 21:25). They furnish quite reliable "signs" for determining in advance the weather to be expected (Matt. 16:2, 3). They may be "signs"‘ of divine judgments (Joel 2:30; Matt. 24:29). That they may well serve in all these capacities is clear both from Scripture and from experience. Dwelling only on one scriptural parallel, Skinner, pointing to Jer. 10:2, where "astrological portents" are referred to, misconstrues the use of the word when he claims to find a similar use here, "though it is not quite easy to believe the writer would have said, the sun and moon were made for this purpose." But Jer 10:2 does not identify the expression "signs of heaven," with "astrological portents." These signs become such portents only by the fact that the "nations," who are "dismayed at them," make them to be considered such. Skinner construes the forbidden abuse of "signs of heaven" as the normal meaning of the expression. How Procksch injects the meaning "epochs" into the term is more than we can discern. The fact remains that men always have and in manifold ways still do regard and use luminaries for signs.
Besides, the luminaries are "for seasons." A certain brevity of expression obtains here. We could supply the implied term quite readily, for "fixing1.74seasons, days and years." But without this added term the expression is not unclear. But "seasons" are called mô’adhim, from the root ya’adh, "to appoint"; therefore, "appointed time." The luminaries do serve as "indicators" (Meek) of such fixed, appointed times, whether these now be secular or sacred. To attempt to exclude what we are specifically wont to call seasons is unwarranted and grows out of the assumption that the hypothetical author P has a special interest in things ritual. Therefore, "seasons" or times in the widest sense are to be thought of: agricultural seasons (Hos. 2:9, 11; 9:5), seasons for seafaring men, seasons for beasts and birds (Jer. 8:7), as long as they are times that are fixed and come with stated regularity.
To complete the list of the things determined by the luminaries the divine command adds "days and years." These are respectively the shortest and the longest measures of time definitely fixed by the movement of the heavenly bodies. What "day" yôm, is (here the whole twenty-four hour day) every one knows, and yet the etymology of the term is entirely unknown. The word for "year" (shanah) seems to be traceable to the Assyrian root "to change."
Note that after the imperative "let there be" there may follow a converted perfect wehayû (K, S. 367 c).
When now v. 15 says distinctly that these luminaries are to be "in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth," this plainly indicates that from the time of this creative work onward all light that the earth receives is to be mediated through the luminaries. How light functioned in the universe prior to this time we shall never know. How the regular alternation of day and night was regulated will for ever escape our discernment. What we know is only that as day and night now follow upon one another due to the light centred in luminaries, is an arrangement which God ordained on this day. It all certainly is a marvellous and praiseworthy work, but that is all 1.75that these luminaries are appointed for, as far as we are able to discern.
16. And God made the two great luminaries, the greater luminary to rule the day and the lesser luminary to rule the night—and also the stars.
The previous verse closes the initial command of the work to be done on the fourth day with the customary notice that "it was so," that is, what God commanded came into being. According to the almost invariable rule of this chapter we should now expect an account in detail as to how God actually wrought what He had ordained, beginning like all the others with either wayyά’as, "and He made," or with wayyibhra’, "and He created." This is just what we have with the usual situation that the account of how the original order was carried out affords sufficient variety of form to serve as a commentary upon the first statement of v. 14, 15. Stereotyped repetition would be both mechanical and wearisome. However, critics fail to see this clear situation in a number of instances. Skinner brings an indictment against the account: "The laboured explanation of the purposes of the heavenly bodies is confused, and suggests overworking (the difficult 14b and 15a a). The functions are stated with perfect clearness in v. 16-18." Yet we have found both v. 14 and 15 perfectly simple and plain. The only difference between the initial command v. 14, 15 and the account of its being done v. 16-18 is that of the supplementary but entirely harmonious statements of purpose, the first gives greater prominence to the secondary purpose of serving for "signs, seasons," etc.; the second stresses particularly the primary function of controlling day and night and giving light.
So v. 16 is supplementary in mentioning for the first time the chief luminaries—"chief" as far as the earth is concerned. They are "the two great luminaries, in reference to the earth and also in view 1.76of how they appear to man. Naturally, a simple account such as this will not attempt to give to man the useless information as to which of the heavenly bodies are the largest in the absolute sense. Besides, in the very nature of the case the expression, "the great luminary," must be understood as a comparative, "the greater." Likewise "the small" (haqqaton) means the smaller (K. S. 308 a). Because the definite and very specific use of "the stars" in reference to the earth is very much inferior to that of sun and moon, they may well be added as a kind of afterthought, "and also the stars." Now man at least knows how important they are and how they originated—a type of account which is the complete negative of all astrological conceptions. So as a whole v. 16 is seen to be a very helpful commentary upon what preceded.
17; 18. And God set them in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth and to rule over the day and over the night and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good.
Lest anyone be inclined to attribute any other or further purpose to these luminaries, v. 17 reasserts what was stated v. 15b, they are in the expanse of the heavens "to give light upon the earth." It would be a crude interpretation of the opening verb "and he put," if this were understood to mean that God first fashioned the luminaries in one place and then took them and set or suspended them in the firmament. For a literal translation of wayyitten is "and He gave" in the sense of "appointed." Yet the original idea of "to give" is also very appropriate here inasmuch as the luminaries are one of God’s good gifts to mankind.
Verse 18, in stating again what v. 14 said, "to separate the light from the darkness," prefixes the supplementary statement, "to rule over the day and over the night." This allows for that control of day 1.77and of night which expresses itself in their varying length as indicated and regulated by the sun and the moon.
This work also is so excellent (tobh) as to merit divine approval.
19. Then came evening, then came morning—the fourth day.
In this connection one particular problem still requires our consideration, and that is the computation of the light years by which the distance separating the earth from certain stars is measured. Some claim that then, of necessity, certain stars now visible could not yet have appeared to our first parents. If the astronomical calculations involved are correct, what if all stars were not at once visible but have only become apparent as time went on? Such a situation is not out of harmony with the Creation account; it would indicate merely a greater vastness to creation’s work than man had first surmised. Where, however, it is claimed that this situation involves a greater antiquity of the earth than our construction of the Mosaic accounts allows for, we on our part still believe that the laws of light refraction in the interstellar spaces cannot be asserted to be identical with those prevailing under conditions as we know them. There still is the possibility that the tremendous spaces and the times resulting from certain astronomical calculations are based on assumptions whose correctness will always be only in part demonstrable.
The claim of Skinner must yet be disposed of when he maintains that the Genesis account presents a "religious advance to pure monotheism" over against "the idea of them (the heavenly bodies) as an animated host" as it "occurs in Hebrew poetry (Judg. 5:20; Isa. 40:26; Job 38:7); but here it is entirely eliminated." We do not grant that the 1.78passages cited are earlier than Genesis 1. But they are poetic and, when rightly construed, offer no other view than that which any enlightened Christian now holds. They are far from teaching anything about heavenly bodies as "an animated host." The attempts of the critics to prove evolution of ideas where no such evolution occurs are unconvincing.
20. And God said: Let the waters swarm with swarms of living souls, and let birds fly above the ground across the face of the firmament of the heavens.
The work of the fifth day is also in a sense a double one, but its double character is by no means as pronounced as that of the third and the sixth days. For to have the waters and the skies filled with such creatures as these parts are best adapted to is in reality a work whose two parts are practically identical in nature. However, here the situation is not analogous to the work of the third day, where "the earth brought forth." Here it is not the waters that bring forth. A. V. is in error when it translates: "Let the waters bring forth abundantly." Luther did not make this mistake. The optative of the verb sharats followed by the cognate object shérets here must mean: "Let the waters swarm with swarms." Meek is more idiomatic: "Let the waters teem with shoals," but he loses the cognate object. We simply do not know from what source fish and birds sprang. They are simply bidden to people their respective domains. In apposition with the cognate object shérets stands the expression, "living souls" or literally, "souls of life." The word "soul" (néphesh) is here used for the first time—a collective singular—as a designation of these aquatic creatures, because the soul is the most important part of them, and at the same time the term definitely points to the new and distinctive thing involved. This is the first time that life in souls or living souls appears. 1.79According to the Biblical viewpoint plants have no life. But the life of living creatures is present in their "souls," and so they have souls ascribed to them. But this "soul" again is regarded as nothing more than "that which breathes" (B D B) in any being. A kindred form of life to that of fish is that of birds. Each type has its special element. The polel form ye’opheph is intensive and so implies: birds shall "fly back and forth." Their element is described as being "above the ground across the face of the firmament of the heavens." The firmament is regarded as having a face, that is a side turned toward and, as we say, "facing" the earth. Across this the birds are to disport themselves. Shérets used in reference to the fish is a graphically descriptive term. All forms of life that love to move in continual agitation through one another, like shoals of fish and the like, are involved. This pronounced gregarious instinct marks these creatures to this day. By this work the emptiness (bóhû) of the heavens and the waters is cancelled.
21. And God created the great sea monsters and each one of the creeping creatures with which the waters teem after their kind and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good.
Verse 21 in its relation to v. 20 furnishes a very excellent example as to how the account of what actually was done furnishes an invaluable commentary upon the original command of what was to be done. We ourselves would, as a rule, not have discerned what the original commands involved if the following statements had not made the full breadth of the original command plain. As far as the "swarms of living souls" of v. 20 are concerned, we are given to understand, first of all, that these swarms included not only the smaller fry among the fish but also "the great sea monsters" (tannînîm), a word whose root indicates a creature of some length. In this category are found 1.80not only "whales," as A. V. translates, but all larger marine animals like sharks and, no doubt, also crocodiles. Nor do we hesitate to include under this head amphibians like the saurians of every class and description. Then the account specifically mentions what we have translated, "each one of the creeping creatures!" For here, apparently, néphesh has the common meaning of "individual" or "one," and what the account wishes to emphasize is that of the teeming multitudes of these marine creatures each one owed its existence to God’s creative work. On this meaning of néphesh see K. S. 302a. The term rendered "creeping" (roméseth) literally implies "moving lightly about" or "gliding about" (B D B). Difficulty in fitting in these terms led to our rendering "creeping," which strictly does not apply to movement in the water. Another distinctive thought conveyed by this half of the verse is the added assertion that these creatures appeared "after their kind," a phrase not new but as important in its bearing as above (v. 12) and allowing for no transmutation of species. In the second half of the verse it is applied also to the birds.
The expression "winged bird" is literally "bird of wing," kanaph, "wing," being a genitive of quality and the phrase as a whole what is known as an "ornate epithet" (K. S. 335 a) similar to our expression "yellow gold." Of course, birds have wings. But here, besides, where the very broadest of class distinctions are being made, without a doubt, the expression is meant to include every type of being that has wings—the small and the large, and not only what we call birds.
But on the whole an entirely new type of being has come into existence, creatures that breathe and are animated and have power of their own volition to go from place to place. To give existence to such is the peculiar prerogative of God and is a monumental, epoch-making achievement that deserves to be 1.81described by the verb "and He created" (wayyibhra’) as the opening verse does.
22. And God blessed them, saying: Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas and let the birds multiply on the earth.
That this which was last made now actually represents a more important form of life is also made manifest by the fact that God bestows a blessing upon these creatures, a blessing by virtue of which the needed powers for continuance and for multiplying are imparted. The very idea of an initial single pair of creatures of this type is excluded by the statements of v. 20 and 21 where, when called into being, these creatures are bidden "to swarm" and the waters to "teem." But from these copious beginnings these creatures are to keep on multiplying until they fill the earth. Every vestige of emptiness is to be ultimately cancelled. This blessing of God, however, is not a mere wish or a wishing-well on the part of the Almighty. It is a creative word of power which makes possible the things that it commands, and it continues in power to this day. The Creator is glorified by the multitudes of beings which His creative word makes.
It will be worth our while to make a check-up upon what is supposed to be an index of the style of P, to whom critics assign this chapter (P is the author of all that criticism calls the Priestly Codex). Skinner remarks about the double expression "be fruitful and multiply," perû ûrebhû, that it is "highly characteristic of P" and is used "only three times elsewhere." By such unwarranted remarks are the unwary misled, and by such insubstantial arguments is the case of the source criticism of the Pentateuch supported. B D B lists all the instances of the use of this double expression. The fictitious P is said to have it Gen. 1:22, 28 and 9:1 as well as 35:11 and 47:27, yet the last two expressions differ in that one is singular and the other not imperative but future. Yet Jeremiah 1.82uses these two verbs jointly in Jer. 3:16 and Jer. 23:3; so does Ezechiel in 36:11. Is it not an overstatement to call a phrase that one author uses five times and others three, "highly characteristic" of the one? It is not so much a characteristic of style but a case of having the author describe several situations that of themselves demand such a statement. By his statement of the case Skinner would lead men to believe that the so-called P must have used the phrase at least a dozen times.
In trying to make the fictitious P as real a figure as possible and to invest him with distinct characteristics Procksch remarks on this verse: "A tone of solemn joy pervades the knowledge that it is ordained that life should increase; P is in no sense a pessimist." The same note of "solemn joy," if you will, can be discerned just as plainly in chapter 2:4 ff, which is not ascribed to P.
23. Then came evening, then morning—the fifth day.
24. And God said: Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind, domestic animals, reptiles, and wild beasts of the earth after their kind; and it was so.
We have come to the work of the sixth day. The nobler and higher forms of animal life are to be brought forth and finally man himself. We have a kind of mediate creation as on the third day (v. 11), for the earth is bidden to produce them or bring them forth—tôtse’= "cause to come forth." The situation is really very simple, as far as the text is concerned. God could have called forth these creatures by His mere word; instead He speaks the word that enables the earth to bring them forth. They are to have such kinship with the earth that they may again be able to return to the earth. There is no confusion here of two points of view, which P here fails properly 1.83to reconcile with one another: namely an old view, which is the outgrowth of some ancient natural philosophy, and a higher conception of pure creation by the word (Procksch). That both types of creation here flow into one is the simple fact noted by the text. To create artificial difficulty and to pose as having ability to detect strains of older and imperfectly assimilated elements of tradition, merely serves to make the unlearned suspicious without reason and is proof on the critic’s part of not having fully comprehended what the author said.
On the shortened form tôtse’ see K. S. 189.
The "living creatures" brought into being on this day are first described by this general title, which we have noted above (v. 20) to mean literally "soul of life," because the animating thing, the soul (néhesh), is the most prominent feature about them. Let it be remarked separately at this point that according to the Scriptures not only man has a soul but also all living creatures even down to fishes and birds. However, the soul as such is then regarded merely as the animating principle, the thing that causes them to breathe. Yet the soul of other creatures is not the same as that of man; it originated in a manner which makes it inferior by much to the animating principle in man, as a comparison with 2:7 indicates.
These "living creatures" now are of three classes. First we find "domestic animals," behemah, which may also be translated "cattle." According to its root, "to be dumb," this classword describes these creatures as dumb brutes. Used sometimes in reference to all animals, it is here employed in reference to cattle or domestic animals because of its manifest contrast here with the wild beasts. Yet "cattle" is still a bit too narrow a term; "domestic animals" (Meek) is better. The second class is described as rémes, which comes from the root meaning "to move about lightly" or to "glide about." "Creepers" almost covers the term, 1.84however, "creeping things" is too narrow (A. V.), for it does not seem to allow for bigger creatures like reptiles. "Reptiles" (Meek) again is too narrow, for it does not allow for the smaller types of life. Everything, therefore, large or small, that moves upon the earth or close to the earth, having but short legs, may be said to be included. The third class comes under" the head of "wild beasts of the earth" (chayyath ha’árets). This is an appropriate designation from two points of view: the original comes from the root chay, to live, for these beasts are wild because "of their vital energy and activity" (B D B), an abundance of life throbs in them; then the modifying phrase "of the earth" is added to their name, because in a sense different from the other two classes these beasts have freedom of movement upon the earth. The first time this name is used in v. 24 we have the archaic connective, a remnant from an old case ending chaythõ and the word ’érets without the article— poetic—making a more solemn and dignified double term coming from the lips of the Almighty (K. S. 268 and 292).—When the narrator continues his own account, he lapses into the unarchaic prose chayyath ha’árets (v. 25). A double "after their kind," first applying to "the living creatures" as a whole then to the three classes separately, impresses this distinctive limitation upon all these creatures—a truth amply confirmed as not to be eradicated, as all who have engaged in crossbreeding of animals can abundantly testify.
The three class names are in the singular, collective (K. S. 255 d).
An unwarranted critical verdict in regard to the three classes just mentioned is rendered by Procksch, who calls this classification "very imperfect, based half on the history of civilization half on natural history." It certainly is uncalled for to expect a writer of hoary antiquity to operate with the specific scientific 1.85nomenclature of the twentieth century. Without a doubt, all readers who perused the accounts in a sympathetic spirit clearly detected that this popular grouping was sufficient to call to mind all types of living creatures as men not trained scientifically are wont to think of them.
25. And God made the wild beasts of the earth after their kind and the domestic animals after their kind, and the reptiles of the ground after their kind; and God saw that it was good.
The report as to how God proceeded to carry out the thing He ordains in v. 24, in v. v. 25 inverts the order of the classes—a merely chiastic inversion—and provides a comment upon "reptiles" by calling them "reptiles of the ground." Strictly speaking, the inverted order of names changes from 1, 2, 3 to 3, 1, 2. Then the expression "after their kind" is separately added to each class. The word for "ground," ’adhamah, used with "reptiles" (for reptiles creep on the ground) most likely is to be associated with the root ’adhom, meaning a "reddish-brown," a term descriptive of the covering of topsoil found wherever "ground" covers the rock layers. Lest anyone suppose that perhaps portions of the animal world may originally have been characterized by some defect, we find that all meets with divine approval: "God saw that it was excellent" (cf. v. 4). No blessing is specifically mentioned as in v. 22, apparently because the writer is hurrying to the climax.
26. And God said: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the domestic animals and over the whole earth and over every thing that moveth about upon the earth.
A divine counsel precedes the creation of man. By this means the singular dignity of man is very strongly 1.86stressed. From every point of view man is seen to be the crown and climax of God’s creation.
The hortative "Let us make" (na’aseh), is particularly striking because it is plural. Though almost all commentators of our day reject the view that this is to be explained in connection with the truth of the Holy Trinity and treat this so-called trinitarian view as a very negligible quantity, yet, rightly considered, this is the only view that can satisfy. Koenig (K. C.) may brush it aside with the very briefest remark to the effect that "the number three cannot be expressed by the plural," yet he like many others labours under a misunderstanding of the trinitarian view. Those that hold that a reference to the Trinity is involved do not mean to say that the truth of the Holy Trinity is here fully and plainly revealed. But they do hold that God speaks out of the fulness of His powers and His attributes in a fashion which man could never employ. Behind such speaking lies the truth of the Holy Trinity which, as it grows increasingly clear in revelation, is in the light of later clear revelation discovered as contained in this pural in a kind of obscure adumbration. The truth of the Trinity explains this passage. It would not occur to us to call this an express and unmistakable, clear presentation of the full trinitarian truth. So also, in substance, Keil. So practically also Luther, after he has valiantly championed the trinitarian view even beyond what we might deem the legitimate statement of the case, goes on to remark: "Therefore what is first presented more or less dark, difficult and obscure, Christ has all made manifest and clearly commanded to preach. Nevertheless, the holy fathers held this knowledge through the Holy Spirit, yet by no means as clear as we now have it."
Some have seen the solution of the difficulty to lie in calling this the majestic plural, such as sovereigns are wont to employ in edicts. This type of plural, however, cannot be demonstrated as used in 1.87the Scriptures. Luther’s somewhat ironical remark should also be considered here: "The Holy Spirit is not wont to employ the courtesies employed for royalty" (kanzleiische Hoeflichkeit). Rightly speaking, a kind of potential plural is involved (K. S. 260 a-e), as the fullness of the potentialities that lie in God is expressed by the plural of ’elohim, which may even be used with a plural form of its predicate adjective (Judg. 24:19; Ps. 58:12) [digitizer's note: both preceding non-existent refererences are errors in original publication], but abstract plurals like these are not yet quite the same thing as a verb used in the first person plural, hortatory, as Strack tries to persuade himself to believe.
The common explanation, perhaps the most popular at present, that God is addressing the angels has been shown up in its deficiencies by Koenig (K. C.). It cannot be denied that on occasion God addressed the angelic host before His throne; Isa. 6:8; 1 Kings 22:19-22). Angels are found standing in His presence Job 1; 38:7; Dan. 4:14; 7:10. But never once does God actually counsel with them. The distance between God and angels is seen to be a very pronounced one. Even in (Isa 6:8) this important difference stands out: "Whom shall I send?" God acts independently without angelic counsel. Besides, it must be considered that neither here nor by the time 3:22 is reached has anything been revealed about the creation of angels. And lastly, man is not considered in the Scriptures to have been made in the image of angels. If this remark included angels, man would be made in an image which blurred the divine and the angelic into one. The Old Testament does not muddle such important concepts.
Koenig’s interpretation deserves mention (K. S. 207 a). He claims that an individual reflecting upon a course of action to be followed may appear to himself both as giving orders and as carrying out these orders. He claims such a thing would happen "quite naturally and easily" (naturgemaess leicht). We can hardly imagine any explanation more stilted and 1.88artificial. It is a figment of the clever brain, invented to extricate its inventor out of a predicament.
We should yet especially emphasize that the trinitarian view, presented in modified form above, is not, as many charge, transferring the New Testament back into the Old. We have emphasized above that the New Testament marks an advance upon whatever the Old offers under this head. What the Old Testament offers here would never have been fully grasped if clearer and more elaborate revelation had not thrown its light upon this passage from the New Testament.
The being to be made is called ’adham, a term whose root significance must very likely be sought in the cognate word ’adhamah (see v. 25) which refers to the soil capable of cultivation. ’Adham would, therefore, be "the cultivator of the soil."
The double modifying phrase, "in our image, after our likeness," requires closer study. It is in the last analysis nothing more than a phrase which aims to assert with emphasis the idea that man is to be closely patterned after his Maker. This feature in man’s being is a second mode of setting forth prominently the singular dignity of man: Man is not only made after the deliberate plan and purpose of God but is also very definitely patterned after Him. In making both phrases practically result in an idea which is one composite whole we are not erasing the distinction between the terms. "Image" is for the word tsélem, whose root means "to carve" or "to cut off." We cannot go so far as to apply this idea to the physical similarity of man with God, as some have. But, at least, the term refers to more concrete similarity, whereas the second word demiûth, "likeness," refers more to similarity in the abstract or in the ideal. But here again we cannot venture with the Greek fathers to apply the term to man’s inner or spiritual resemblance to God. Nor dare we press the change of prepositions; be "in" and ke "as." For 1.89though be describes man as being within a certain mold as it were, it yet must also be called a kind of Beth normae (K. S. 332r), for (Ex. 25:40) it is used practically like ke. To this must be added the fact that v. 27 considers the use of tsélem without demûth sufficient to express what God did, "image" being used twice. Again it 5:1demûth with be and not with ke, as in our passage, is thought to be an adequate statement of the case. So we shall have to regard the second phrase, "according to our likeness," as merely supplementary to or explanatory of the first. Of course, the possessive "our" in connection with these two nouns is to be explained like the plural of "let us make" above.
But yet we have not defined what the term "the image of God" implies. Those who would rule out the clear passages of the New Testament and construe a picture only by the help of what this chapter offers, fail to discern the true unity of scriptural revelation and are bound to arrive at a misleading conception. True, the author of the account may himself not have had a full apperception of what all was involved in this concept, but here most especially the principle must be applied. Scripture must be explained by Scripture. Especially such passages as Eph. 4:24 and Col. 3:10 must be drawn upon. The reformers clearly saw that the most important thing involved was a proper attitude of heart in faith. Luther says: "I understand this image of God to be . . . that Adam not only knew God and believed in Him that He was gracious; but that he also led an entirely godly life." Cf. also Apology II, 17-22. As adequate a summary of all features involved as any is that of Koenig in TAT, p. 226 S. He lists the following items as belonging to the outward side of the divine image: (a) man’s countenance which directs his gaze upwards; (b) a capacity for varying facial expressions; (c) a sense of shame expressing itself in the blush of man; 1.90(d) speech. It cannot be denied that all these are physical features which are noticeably absent in all animals. To the inner side of the divine image the same author assigns the following items: (a) on the material side of man’s inner make-up stands immortality; (b) on the intellectual side is self-consciousness, reason and Vernunft; ( c) on the voluntative moral side is the ability to discern good and evil, the freedom of the will, conscience, and the right use of his moral capacities—the most important of all. We understand Koenig to make this last statement in the sense of the reformer’s quoted above.
To sum up from a slightly different angle we should like to append the thought that the spiritual and inner side of the image of God is, without a doubt, the most important one. It will hardly be safe to say that the body of man is also patterned after God, because God, being an incorporeal spirit, cannot have what we term a material body. Yet the body of man must at least be regarded as the fittest receptacle for man’s spirit and so must bear at least an analogy to the image, of God, an analogy that is so close that God and His angels choose to appear in human form when they appear to men (Strack). In fact, we are justified to go even so far as to say that whatever this man is said to have is in a far more real sense a reality in God. Here lies the basis for the propriety of all anthropomorphisms. If man has a hand, an ear, an eye, a heart, not only may these also be possessions of the Almighty; in a far truer sense such potentialities lie in God. Yet, let it be well marked, in saying this we in no sense ascribe corporeality to the Eternal One.
Skinner confuses all basic concepts and departs far from revealed truth, glorifying man and his native ability in an unscriptural fashion, when he remarks: "The ‘image’ is not something peculiar to man’s 1.91original estate, and lost by the Fall." He justifies this radical departure by the further remark: "Because P, who alone uses the expression knows nothing of the Fall, and in 9:6 employs the term, without.any restriction, of post-diluvian mankind." What an untenable assumption even from the standpoint of criticism! Just because what is ascribed to P does not happen to mention the Fall, we at once know what P actually knew or did not know about the Fall. The critic is coming to the point where in his mind the document P and the person P are identical. The passage 9:6 is, of course, to be taken in the light of all that precedes, namely in the light of the Fall, which intervenes between chapters 1 and 9.
When evidence fails to support pet theories―in this instance the theory of the derivation of Israelitish knowledge from Babylonian sources—pure suppositions such as the following are resorted to: "The origin of the conception (’image’) is probably found in the Babylonian mythology" (Skinner).
What follows is one direction in which the possession of the image of God on the part of man expresses itself―dominion over the earth. "Let them have dominion" is the verb radhah signifying "to trample down" or "to master." The breadth of the domain to be ruled by man is expressed by the various spheres of man’s dominion that are now enumerated. They are, first of all, the classes previously described as having been brought into being, listed with a slight modification of terminology. The "swarms" or "shoals" previously created (v. 20) are referred to by a term covering the chief members of this class, daghah, "fish" in a collective sense. "The birds of the heavens" are the second group mentioned. Though we have translated behemah "domestic animals," we cannot deny that it might here, as a broader term often so used (cf. Exod. 9:25; 12:12), include all larger animals, wild and domestic, because man’s 1.92dominion certainly covered the wild beasts as well, as appears from the remaining terms, yet the wild beasts are not separately mentioned. For the list goes on to mention "the whole earth," which cannot, as Koenig suggests (K. C.), here be taken to mean "all beings upon the earth" (Erdlebewesen), for then the very last term in the list would duplicate this; nor can it mean "the dwellers upon earth," a meaning which "earth" sometimes has, for then the idle statement would result: let man rule over himself. Consequently, we take "the whole earth" in its simplest meaning, as the inanimate earth proper, which man is to master and subdue. We then list, as belonging in this department of his activity, man’s mastery the powers of nature, physical, electrical, chemical, physiological and the like. Whatever true scientific endeavour has produced comes under this broad charter which the Creator has given to man. Since, however, man’s dominion is to find most frequent expression in the direction of the control of living creatures, the closing statement, the broadest of all, mounts to a climax in the words "over everything that moveth about upon the earth." Every type of being is to be subservient to man. The word employed for this last class is rémes, which appears here in the broadest application of its root sense "to move about" and less in the specific sense of "moving about lightly." The verb used (yirdû) is a jussive (K. S. 364h) and actually establishes as a divine word the situation it outlines. Man in reality became the controlling power. Yet there remains—even in the primeval state there remained—much to be achieved by way of a perfect mastery of his whole territory.
Taking the verse as a whole, we cannot but notice that it sets forth the picture of a being that stands on a very high level, a creature of singular nobility and endowed with phenomenal powers and attributes, not a type of being that by its brute imperfections 1.93is seen to be on the same level with the animal world, but a being that towers high above all other creatures, their king and their crown.
27. So God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them.
The higher strain of diction is made apparent by a threefold parallelism of the statement—a kind of solemn chant is here inaugurated in the creation narrative. And well might any man who writes an account, of the subject write in a manner that betokens his joy, for the honour bestowed upon man is indeed great. In fact, none could be greater than that a created being be made in the image of God.
The threefold use of the verb "create" (bara’) is significant in this connection. To bring things into being that had no previous existence is well described by this word (v. 1). To bring into being creatures endowed with life and a soul is also covered by this word (v. 21). To do so outstanding a thing as to call into being a creature like unto man is in every sense "to create." However, whether the threefold use of the term is to be accounted for by the fact that the triune God is the Creator, is a question that we feel inclined to leave open. To us such a conclusion seems to lay more into the statement here made than it can justly bear.
Rather important is the possessive pronoun attached to the word "image," namely the singular "his." As much as God, on the one hand, speaking out of the fulness of His powers in the persons of the Holy. Trinity, is able to say, "Let us make," and, "our image," just so much is it a valid and proper statement for Him to say that He. created "in His image." One accords fully with the other in the mystery of the Holy Trinity: there is but one God. The Septuagint translators removed a difficulty in a portion of 1.94revelation which they should not have tampered with when they simply omitted the phrase "in His image." The notes in the Hebrew Bible of Kittel should not have suggested the deletion of the word.
The change from "His, image" to "the image of God" shows the attempt on the writer’s part to make his statement as strong and as dignified as possible. Then, since the second statement, telling of the carrying out of the original command, usually serves in a measure as a commentary of the former, so here a very necessary suggestion is offered. Though from one point of view it is entirely proper to say that God on the sixth day created "man" (’adham), yet, as the rest of the account at once indicates, this term is meant genetically; and, since by a special work of the Almighty woman is brought into being, this first statement of the case amplifies itself into the more exact statement of the case that "the man" (the article of relative familiarity, K. S. 298a) was created "male and female" (zakhar, from the root meaning male; neqebhah, from naqab, meaning to perforate). In other words, all queer speculations about the first man are cut off as well as the quaint heresy that he was created androgynous, half man and half woman—a notion offered in crudest form by the Jewish speculation which had the two halves of the double creature attached back to back, and then had the Almighty saw them asunder. This account, then, of chapter one shows that its writer knows chapter two and writes in full harmony with the facts of that chapter. As will appear more and more clearly, the first two chapters are in perfect harmony with one another and by no means represent divergent or discrepant accounts. So, according to very permissible different viewpoints, yet without contradiction, the writer may well say: "He created him" and "He created them," even as "our image" and "His image" blend into perfect unity.
1.95Procksch says on this verse: "Man, God’s image, man, the crown of creation, man, male and female—we, too, have not been able to advance beyond these thoughts." A characteristic utterance of modern theology and a—platitude. Of course, we have not been able to advance beyond this thought; we never advance beyond revealed truth or God’s thoughts. This account is not an achievement of the religious genius of P; it is revelation pure and simple.
28. Then God blessed them, and God said to them: Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living creature moving about upon the earth.
That there is a similarity as well as a dissimilarity between man and all other living creatures is indicated by various means, here particularly by the fact that man’s perpetuation of the human race is made to depend upon an effective divine blessing, as in the case of other creatures (v. 22), and by the use even of similar terms: "Be fruitful and multiply and fill." This last expression, therefore, is not a stylistic peculiarity but a historical fact indicative of the similarity just mentioned.
"Subdue," the new word in the account of man’s dominion, is kabhash, and it differs from "have dominion" (radhah) in that its root rather implies "to knead", or "to tread," whereas the latter is the stronger according to parallel roots, meaning "to stamp down." Yet this difference is not to be pressed. The statement of the things to be ruled is a bit more condensed than in v. 26, for the last statement summarizes, "every living creature moving about upon the earth." This expression covers everything beyond "birds" and "fish," namely everything mentioned in addition in v. 26 with the exception of "all the earth." Again the text needs no correction or addition of "over the cattle" as Kittel suggests after the pattern of the 1.96Septuagint and of the Samaritan Pentateuch. This would merely secure a kind of wooden uniformity plus an idle repetition. The statement in the text covers all this. This broader meaning of the verb ramas, "to move about," (B D B) is assured by the passages: (7:21; 8:19; Ps. 104:20). "Subdue it," the verb with the object suffix (kibhshúha) offers the only instance in this chapter of an object without the sign of the accusative (’eth).
A very important institution is brought into being at this point, the institution of marriage. Here is another point of correspondence between chapter one and chapter two, though the latter gives greater detail. After v. 26 has now given the summary account of the creation of one pair, "male and female," v. 27 proceeds to have the divine command laid upon this one pair: "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth." The primary purpose of marriage is here indicated. On "fill the earth" Whitelaw remarks: "This clause may be regarded as the colonist’s charter"— a very proper observation.
29, 30. And God said: Behold, I have given you all herbs yielding seed which are upon the face of all the earth, and every tree upon which there is seed-bearing fruit—to you it shall be for food. And to all the wild beasts of the earth, and to all the birds of the heavens, and to all the land reptiles in which there is a living soul (I have given) all the green herbs for food. And it was so.
Such basic directions as man needs for guiding his steps in this world which is entirely new to him are here given in the matter of food (v. 29), and at the same time it is revealed to man what manner of food is to provide sustenance for beasts (v. 30). Besides being a very welcome direction, this word is also another indication of the rich and abounding love that the Heavenly Father bears to His creatures, made in His image.
1.97The opening "behold" imparts a certain vigour to this gracious bestowal. The verb "I have given" (nathátti) stands in the perfect, the usual construction in ordinances or abiding decrees. The perfect gives the impression of a rule firmly fixed and already unwavering. (G. K. 106 m; K. S. 131). Man is permitted to use a great variety of things comprising a vegetable diet. Two great classes are laid open to him: "herbs yielding seed" and "fruit trees which have seed-bearing fruit." The classes are indicated and the distinguishing marks that are to be observed are stated. This marks two of the three classes of v. 11 as adapted to man’s use. Since there is the possibility that since the Fall vegetation may have suffered a very material change, perhaps we are no longer in a position fully to appreciate how apt the the descriptive marks mentioned really are. However, the word "all" is indicative of the rich bounty bestowed. In a marvellously rich and beautiful world the rich bounty of very many different kinds of herbs and trees provided the finest proof of the Creator’s goodness.
Without a doubt, this word covering what food is permissible was intended to be a complete guide as to what man might eat. If 9:3 be held at the side of this word, the contrast implies that animal food was not permitted. It will hardly do to point to man’s dominion over the beasts of the field, over fowl, and over fish (v. 26), for this word (v. 29) very definitely shows man what he may use for food. We believe that sincere regard for the very letter of God’s command will have led our first parents to stay strictly within the limits of this word. As to the question, whether any men ventured before the Flood to eat animal food, we can only offer surmises. Not all men continued in the right relation to God, and so there may have been some of the ungodly who ventured to transgress this original permission. But we cannot 1.98venture to call such procedure common. Least of all could any true believer have disregarded the restriction implied in this word.
Certainly, a measure of latitude is allowed to man in respect to what may be permissible and wholesome food for him. This broad allowance was never tended to be exhaustive. So it has been pointed out (Dillmann) that nothing is said, for example, about the use of milk and of honey, which may be thought of as lying on the borderline between animal and vegetable food. The critically minded should not forget that a being endowed with the high intelligence that we find in the first man needed no more than a broad outline to guide him to a choice pleasing to God and beneficial for himself.
30. So it will also be observed that the directions that obtain for the other living creatures are not exhaustive. Fish are not mentioned. But, no doubt, this word was merely to inform man in reference to the creatures with which he had the more immediate contact. So all living creatures are summed up in this verse in three classes: wild beasts of the earth, birds, and reptiles—and, summing up still more, comes the closing phrase applicable to all, "in which there is a living soul." The food, however, that by God’s ordinance is appointed for all these is described as "all the green herbs." It is taken, therefore, from the second of the three classes of v. 11 and the restrictive modifier preceding yéreg, yielding the expression "greenness of herb," which we have rendered "the green herbs." That cannot be identical with everything that comes under the class of "herbs." Meek, therefore, renders quite appropriately "all the green plants." The verb of the main clause of this verse is missing; "I have given" is best supplied from the preceding verse.
In brief, this verse is an indication of the perfect harmony prevailing in the animal world. No beast 1.99preyed upon the other. Rapacious and ferocious wild beasts did not yet exist. This verse, then, indicates very briefly for this chapter what is unfolded at length in chapter two, that a paradise-like state prevailed at creation.
Skinner pronounces v. 29 and 30 to be an indication of one of the sources which P worked into his account, because these verses, as he says, "differ significantly in their phraseology from the preceding sections." The trifling difference of an abbreviated summary is exaggerated into what is said to "differ significantly." The critics need far more substantial arguments than untenable exaggerations. The same author claims that we have in these verses an "enrichment of the creation story by the independent and widespread myth of the Golden Age." Why, pray, cannot the simple unadorned account merely be a narrative of things as they actually transpired? Answer: the critics have decreed that such accounts cannot exist; all such narratives must be patchwork in which a generous measure of myth has been incorporated. But decreeing that it must be as the critics surmise is not proof. We refuse to be intimidated by claims which lack actual substance.
Let the student of the original note in v. 29 an instance where the relative is not separated from its adverbial term belonging to it ’asher-bõ (K. S. 58).
31. And God saw all that He had made and behold it was very good. Then came evening, then came morning—the sixth day.
The writer says with emphasis that no imperfection inhered in the work God had wrought up till this point: For after all preceding statements to the effect that individual works were good comes this stronger statement to the effect that it was "very good," making a total of seven times that the word is used—seven being the mark of divine operation. The thought that God might be the author of evil and imperfection must 1.100be guarded against most strenuously (Strack). The "behold" moves the expression "very good" prominently into the foreground (K. S. 341V). Kol before ’asher lies on the borderline between partitive genitive and appositional genitive (K. S. 337 h). "The Sixth" has the article with the numeral for the first time (G. K. 126 w), meaning: "the sixth day,’" that last memorable creative day of God.
The next three verses had best be taken as the conclusion of the summary creation account of the first chapter, because the record of this account cannot be complete till all of the seven days have passed in review. More appropriate would have been the chapter division at 2:4.
There is so much matter in every line of this chapter that perhaps the chief danger encountered is the tendency to use too short a text. We personally believe that here for once it might be permissible to use as a text one verse such as v. 1 or v. 27. But to treat such a Scripture properly requires true homiletical skill. We feel that it might be best to treat the work of each of the creative days separately in six distinct texts, always stressing how each day’s work displays primarily God’s great power but then also very manifestly His wisdom and His mercy. The apologetic approach should be avoided. Attempts to harmonize science and religion lie too much in the realm of apologetics and usually are not handled very successfully. A warning should be offered here against allegorizing the chapter, as is done by all those who see in the successive stages of creation a picture of the successive steps in the process of conversion. Attractive as the parallel may be, it does not lie in the purpose of the chapter and should not be injected. In sermons on other texts it may be appropriate to use material from Genesis Chapter One incidentally as providing a kind of illustration—a use found in (2 Cor. 4:6). But allegorizing as such does violence to the purpose of this chapter. Talley’s A Socratic Exposition of Genesis as well as Rimmer’s books tend toward this unwarranted allegorizing.
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