World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
20 And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.”
20. Let the waters bring forth... the moving creature7474 “Repere faciant aquae reptile animae viventis.” — “Let the waters cause to creep forth the reptile, (or creeping thing,) having a living soul.” This is a more literal translation of the original than that of the English version; yet it does not express more accurately the sense. The word שרף, (sheretz,) as a substantaive, signifies any worm or reptile, generally of the smaller kind, either in land or water; and the corresponding verb rendered “to creep forthe” signifies also “to multiply.” It is well known that this class of animals multiply more abundantly than any other. The expression נפש חיה, (nepesh chayah,) “a living soul,” does not refer (as the word soul in English often does) to the immortal principle, but to the animal life or breath, and the words might here be rendered “the breath of life.” — Ed On the fifth day the birds and fishes are created. The blessing of God is added, that they may of themselves produce offspring. Here is a different kind of propagation from that in herbs and trees: for there the power of fructifying is in the plants, and that of germinating is in the seed; but here generation takes place. It seems, however, but little consonant with reason, that he declares birds to have proceeded from the waters; and, therefore this is seized upon by captious men as an occasion of calumny. But although there should appear no other reason but that it so pleased God, would it not be becoming in us to acquiesce in his judgment? Why should it not be lawful for him, who created the world out of nothing, to bring forth the birds out of water? And what greater absurdity, I pray, has the origin of birds from the water, than that of the light from darkness? Therefore, let those who so arrogantly assail their Creator, look for the Judge who shall reduce them to nothing. Nevertheless if we must use physical reasoning in the contest, we know that the water has greater affinity with the air than the earth has. But Moses ought rather to be listened to as our teacher, who would transport us with admiration of God through the consideration of his works.7575 For other opinions respecting the origin of birds, see Poole’s Synopsis. Some argue from Genesis 2:19, that fowls were made of the earth; and would propose an alteration in the translation of the verse before us to the following effect, — “and let the fowl fly above the heaven.” — See Notes on Genesis, etc., by Professor Bush, in loco. But Calvin’s view is more generally approved. “Natantium et volatilium unam originem ponit Moses. 1. Quia aer, (locus avium,) et aqua, (locus piscium,) elementa cognata sunt,” etc. — Castalio, Lyra, Menochius, and others, in Poole. — Ed. And, truly, the Lord, although he is the Author of nature, yet by no means has followed nature as his guide in the creation of the world, but has rather chosen to put forth such demonstrations of his power as should constrain us to wonder.