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Six Days of Creation and the Sabbath

 1

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

6 And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. 8God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

9 And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 11Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. 12The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. 13And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, 15and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, 18to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

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.” 21So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. 22God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. 25God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

27

So God created humankind in his image,

in the image of God he created them;

male and female he created them.

28 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 air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 29God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

 2

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. 2And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. 3So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

Another Account of the Creation

In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, 5when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; 6but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— 7then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. 8And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 A river flows out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides and becomes four branches. 11The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; 12and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Cush. 14The name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 16And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” 19So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. 21So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones

and flesh of my flesh;

this one shall be called Woman,

for out of Man this one was taken.”

24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.


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1. In the beginning. To expound the term “beginning,” of Christ, is altogether frivolous. For Moses simply intends to assert that the world was not perfected at its very commencement, in the manner in which it is now seen, but that it was created an empty chaos of heaven and earth. His language therefore may be thus explained. When God in the beginning created the heaven and the earth, the earth was empty and waste.3535     “La terre estoit vuide, et sans forme, et ne servoit a rien.” — “The earth was aempty, and without form, and was of no use.” — French Tr. He moreover teaches by the word “created,” that what before did not exist was now made; for he has not used the term יצר, (yatsar,) which signifies to frame or forms but ברא, (bara,) which signifies to create.3636     ברא It has a twofold meaning — 1. To create out of nothing, as is proved from these words, In the beginning, because nothing was made before them. 2. To produce something excellent out of pre-existent matter; as it is said afterwards, He created whales, and man. — See Fagius, Drusius, and Estius, in Poole’s Synopsis. Therefore his meaning is, that the world was made out of nothing. Hence the folly of those is refuted who imagine that unformed matter existed from eternity; and who gather nothing else from the narration of Moses than that the world was furnished with new ornaments, and received a form of which it was before destitute. This indeed was formerly a common fable among heathens,3737     Inter profanos homines. who had received only an obscure report of the creation, and who, according to custom, adulterated the truth of God with strange figments; but for Christian men to labor (as Steuchus does3838     Steuchus Augustinus was the Author of a work, “De Perennie Philosophia,” Lugd. 1540, and is most likely the writer referred to by Calvin. The work, however, is very rare, and probably of little value. ) in maintaining this gross error is absurd and intolerable. Let this, then be maintained in the first place,3939     “Sit igitur haec prima sententia. Que ceci dont soit premierement resolu.” — French Tr. that the world is not eternal but was created by God. There is no doubt that Moses gives the name of heaven and earth to that confused mass which he, shortly afterwards, (Genesis 1:2.) denominates waters. The reason of which is, that this matter was to be the seed of the whole world. Besides, this is the generally recognized division of the world.4040     Namely, into heaven and earth.

God. Moses has it Elohim, a noun of the plural number. Whence the inference is drawn, that the three Persons of the Godhead are here noted; but since, as a proof of so great a matter, it appears to me to have little solidity, will not insist upon the word; but rather caution readers to beware of violent glosses of this kind.4141     The reasoning of Calvin on this point is a great proof of the candor of his mind, and of his determination to adhere strictly to what he conceives to be the meaning of Holy Scripture, whatever bearing it might have on the doctrines he maintains. It may however be right to direct the reader, who wishes fully to examine the disputed meaning of the plural word אלהים which we translate God, to some sources of information, whence he may be able to form his own judgment respecting the term. Cocceius argues that the mystery of the Trinity in Unity is contained in the word; and many other writers of reputation take the same ground. Others contend, that though no clear intimation of the Trinity in Unity is given, yet the notion of plurality of Persons is plainly implied in the term. For a full account of all the arguments in favor of this hypothesis, the work of Dr. John Pye Smith, on the Scripture testimony of the Messiah — a work full of profound learning, and distinguished by patient industry and calmly courteous criticism — may be consulted. It must however be observed, that this diligent and impartial writer has not met the special objection adduced by Calvin in this place, namely, the danger of gliding into Sabellianism while attempting to confute Arianism. — Ed They think that they have testimony against the Arians, to prove the Deity of the Son and of the Spirit, but in the meantime they involve themselves in the error of Sabellius,4242     The error of Sabellius (according to Theodoret) consisted in his maintaining, “that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are one hypostasis, and one Person under three names,” or, in the language of that eminent ecclesiastical scholar, the late Dr. Burton, “Sabellius divided the One Divinity into three, but he supposed the Son and the Holy Ghost to have no distinct personal existence, except when they were put forth for a time by the Father.” — See Burton’s Lectures on Ecclesiastical History, vol. 2, p. 365; and his Bampton Lectures, Note 103. This will perhaps assist the reader to understand the nature of Calvin’s argument which immediately follows. Supposing the word Elohim to denote the Three Persons of the Godhead in the first verse, it also denotes the same Three Persons in the second verse. But in this second verse Moses says, the Spirit of Elohim, that is, the Spirit of the Three Persons rested on the waters. Hence the distinction of Persons is lost; for the Spirit is himself one of them; consequently the Spirit is sent from himself. The same reasoning would prove that the Son was begotten by himself; because he is one of the Persons of the Elohim by whom the Son is begotten. — Ed. because Moses afterwards subjoins that the Elohim had spoken, and that the Spirit of the Elohim rested upon the waters. If we suppose three persons to be here denoted, there will be no distinction between them. For it will follow, both that the Son is begotten by himself, and that the Spirit is not of the Father, but of himself. For me it is sufficient that the plural number expresses those powers which God exercised in creating the world. Moreover I acknowledge that the Scripture, although it recites many powers of the Godhead, yet always recalls us to the Father, and his Word, and spirit, as we shall shortly see. But those absurdities, to which I have alluded, forbid us with subtlety to distort what Moses simply declares concerning God himself, by applying it to the separate Persons of the Godhead. This, however, I regard as beyond controversy, that from the peculiar circumstance of the passage itself, a title is here ascribed to God, expressive of that powers which was previously in some way included in his eternal essence.4343     The interpretation above given of the meaning of the word אלהים (Elohim) receives confirmation from the profound critical investigations of Dr. Hengstenberg, Professor of Theology in the University of Berlin, whose work, cast in a somewhat new form, and entitled “Dissertations on the Genuineness of the Pentateuch,” appears in an English dress, under the superintendence of the Continental Translation Society, while these pages are passing through the press. With other learned critics, he concludes, that the word is derived from the Arabic root Allah, which means to worship, to adore, to be seized with fear. He, therefore, regards the title more especially descriptive of the awful aspect of the Divine character.
   On the plural form of the word he quotes from the Jewish Rabbis the assertion, that it is intended to signify ‘Dominus potentiarum omnium,’ ‘The Lord of all powers’. He refers to Calvin and others as having opposed, though without immediate effect, the notion maintained by Peter Lombard, that it involved the mystery of the Trinity. He repels the profane intimation of Le Clerc, and his successors of the Noological school, that the name originated in polytheism; and then proceeds to show that “there is in the Hebrew language a widely extended use of the plural which expresses the intensity of the idea contained in the singular.” After numerous references, which prove this point, he proceeds to argue, that “if, in relation to earthly objects, all that serves to represent a whole order of beings is brought before the mind by means of the plural form, we might anticipate a more extended application of this method of distinguishing in the appellations of God, in whose being and attributes there is everywhere a unity which embraces and comprehends all multiplicity.” “The use of the plural,” he adds, “answers the same purpose which elsewhere is accomplished by an accumulation of the Divine names; as in Joshua 22:22; the thrice holy in Isaiah 6:3; and אדני אדנים in Deuteronomy 10:17. It calls the attention to the infinite riches and the inexhaustible fullness contained in the one Divine Being, so that though men may imagine innumerable gods, and invest them with perfections, yet all these are contained in the one אלהים (Elohim).” See Dissertations, pp.268-273.

   It is, perhaps, necessary here to state, that whatever treasures of biblical learning the writings of this celebrated author contains, and they are undoubtedly great, the reader will still require to be on his guard in studying them. For, notwithstanding the author’s general strenuous opposition to the and — supernaturalism of his own countrymen, he has not altogether escaped the contagion which he is attempting to resist. Occasions may occur in which it will be right to allude to some of his mistakes. — Ed.

2. And the earth was without form and void. I shall not be very solicitous about the exposition of these two epithets, תוהו, (tohu,) and בוהו, (bohu.) The Hebrews use them when they designate anything empty and confused, or vain, and nothing worth. Undoubtedly Moses placed them both in opposition to all those created objects which pertain to the form, the ornament and the perfection of the world. Were we now to take away, I say, from the earth all that God added after the time here alluded to, then we should have this rude and unpolished, or rather shapeless chaos.4444     The words תהו ובהו are rendered in Calvin’s text informis et inanis, “shapeless and empty.” They are, however, substantives, and are translated in Isaiah 34:11, “confusion” and “emptiness.” The two words standing in connection, were used by the Hebrews to describe anything that was most dreary, waste, and desolate. The Septuagint has κὰι ἀκατασκευάστος, invisible and unfurnished. — Ed Therefore I regard what he immediately subjoins that “darkness was upon the face of the abyss,”4545     It is to be remarked, that Calvin does not in his comment always adhere to his own translation. For instance, his version here is, “in superficiem voraginis;” but in his Commentary he has it, “super faciem abyssi,” from the Latin Vulgate. — Ed. as a part of that confused emptiness: because the light began to give some external appearance to the world. For the same reason he calls it the abyss and waters, since in that mass of matter nothing was solid or stable, nothing distinct.

And the Spirit of God Interpreters have wrested this passage in various ways. The opinion of some that it means the wind, is too frigid to require refutation. They who understand by it the Eternal Spirit of God, do rightly; yet all do not attain the meaning of Moses in the connection of his discourse; hence arise the various interpretations of the participle מרחפת, (merachepeth.) I will, in the first place, state what (in my judgment) Moses intended. We have already heard that before God had perfected the world it was an undigested mass; he now teaches that the power of the Spirit was necessary in order to sustain it. For this doubt might occur to the mind, how such a disorderly heap could stand; seeing that we now behold the world preserved by government, or order.4646     “Temperamento servari.” Perhaps we should say, “preserved by the laws of nature.” — Ed. He therefore asserts that this mass, however confused it might be, was rendered stable, for the time, by the secret efficacy of the Spirit. Now there are two significations of the Hebrew word which suit the present place; either that the spirit moved and agitated itself over the waters, for the sake of putting forth vigor; or that He brooded over them to cherish them.4747     The participle of the verb רהף is here used instead of the regular tense. “The Spirit was moving,” instead of “the Spirit moved.” The word occurs in Deuteronomy 32:11, where the eagle is represented as fluttering over her young. Vatablus, whom Calvin here probably follows, says, the Holy Spirit cherished the earth “by his secret virtue, that it might remain stable for the time.” — See Poole’s Synopsis. The word, however, is supposed further to imply a vivifying power; as that of birds brooding over and hatching their young. Gesenius says that Moses here speaks, “Von der shaffenden und belebenden Kraft Gottes die uber der chaotischen wasserbedeckten Erde schwebt gleichsam bruetet” — “of the creative and quickening power of God, which hovered over the chaotic and water — covered earth, as if brooding.” The same view is given by P. Martyr on Genesis; others, however, are opposed to this interpretation. Vide Johannes Clericus in loco. — Ed Inasmuch as it makes little difference in the result, whichever of these explanations is preferred, let the reader’s judgment be left free. But if that chaos required the secret inspiration of God to prevent its speedy dissolution; how could this order, so fair and distinct, subsist by itself, unless it derived strength elsewhere? Therefore, that Scripture must be fulfilled,

‘Send forth thy Spirit, and they shall be created, and thou shalt renew the face of the earth,’ (Psalm 104:30;)

so, on the other hand, as soon as the Lord takes away his Spirit, all things return to their dust and vanish away, (Psalm 104:29.)

3. And God said Moses now, for the first time, introduces God in the act of speaking, as if he had created the mass of heaven and earth without the Word.4848     “Sans sa Parole” — “without his Word.” — French Tr. Yet John testifies that

‘without him nothing was made of the things which were made,’ (John 1:3.)

And it is certain that the world had been begun by the same efficacy of the Word by which it was completed. God, however, did not put forth his Word until he proceeded to originate light;4949     “Sed Deus Verbum suum nonnisi in lucis origine, protulit.” — “Mais Dieu n’a point mis sa Parole en avant, sinon en la creation de la lumiere.” — “But God did not put his Word forward except in the creation of the light.” — French Tr. because in the act of distinguishing5050     In distinctione.” The French is somewhat different: “Pource que la distinction de sa Sagesse commenca lors a apparoir evidemment.” — “Because that the distinction of his Wisdom began then to appear evidently.” The printing of the word Wisdom with a capital, renders it probable that by it Calvin means the Son of God, who is styled Wisdom in the eighth chapter of Proverbs and elsewhere. Whence it would seem that he intends the whole of what he here says as an argument in favor of the Deity of Christ. — Ed. his wisdom begins to be conspicuous. Which thing alone is sufficient to confute the blasphemy of Servetus. This impure caviler asserts,5151     “Latrat hic obscoenus canis.” that the first beginning of the Word was when God commanded the light to be; as if the cause, truly, were not prior to its effect. Since however by the Word of God things which were not came suddenly into being, we ought rather to infer the eternity of His essence. Wherefore the Apostles rightly prove the Deity of Christ from hence, that since he is the Word of God, all things have been created by him. Servetus imagines a new quality in God when he begins to speak. But far otherwise must we think concerning the Word of God, namely, that he is the Wisdom dwelling in God,5252     “Mais il faut bien autrement sentir de la Parole de Dieu, assavoir que c’est la Sapience residente en luy.” — French Tr. and without which God could never be; the effect of which, however, became apparent when the light was created.5353     To understand this difficult and obscure passage, it will be necessary to know something of the ground taken by Servetus in his attempt to subvert the doctrine of the Trinity. He maintained that Christ was not the Son of God as to his divine nature, but only as to his human, and that this title belonged to him solely in consequence of His incarnation. Yet he professed to believe in the Word, as an emanation of some kind from the Deity; compounded — as he explains it — of the essence of God, of spirit, of flesh, and of three uncreated elements. These three elements appeared, as he supposes, in the first light of the world, in the cloud, and in the pillar of fire. (See Calvin’s Institutes, Book II. c. xiv.) This illustrates what Calvin means when he says, that Servetus imagines a new quality in God when he begins to speak. The distinct personality of the Word being denied, qualities or attributes of Deity are put in his place. Against this Calvin contends. His argument seems to be to the following effect: — The creation of the indigested mass called heaven and earth, in the first verse, was apparently — though not really — without the Word, inasmuch as the Word is not mentioned. But when there began to be a distinction, (such as light developed,) then the Word existed before he acted — the cause was prior to its effect. We ought, therefore, to infer the eternal existence of the Word, as he contends the Apostles do, from the fact that all things were created by Him. Whatever quality God possessed when he began to speak, he must have possessed before. His Word, or his Wisdom, or his only-begotten Son, dwelt in Him, and was one with him from eternity; the same Word, or Wisdom, acted really in the creation of the chaotic mass, though not apparently. But in the creation of light, the very commencement of distinguishing, (exordium distinctionis,) this divine Word or Wisdom was manifest.
   Having given, to the best of my judgment, an explanation of Calvin’s reasoning, truth obliges me to add, that it seems to be an involved and unsatisfactory argument to prove —

   1st, That the Second Person of the Trinity is distinctly referred to in the second verse of this chapter; and,

   2nd, That He is truly though not obviously the Creator of heaven and earth mentioned in the first verse.

   It furnishes occasion rather for regret than for surprise, that the most powerful minds are sometimes found attempting to sustain a good cause by inconclusive reasoning. — Ed.

Let there be light It we proper that the light, by means of which the world was to be adorned with such excellent beauty, should be first created; and this also was the commencement of the distinction, (among the creatures.5454     “De la distinction des les creatures.” — French Tr. That is, the beauties of nature could not be perceived, nor the distinction between different objects discerned without the light. — Ed. ) It did not, however, happen from inconsideration or by accident, that the light preceded the sun and the moon. To nothing are we more prone than to tie down the power of God to those instruments the agency of which he employs. The sun an moon supply us with light: And, according to our notions we so include this power to give light in them, that if they were taken away from the world, it would seem impossible for any light to remain. Therefore the Lord, by the very order of the creation, bears witness that he holds in his hand the light, which he is able to impart to us without the sun and moon. Further, it is certain from the context, that the light was so created as to be interchanged with darkness. But it may be asked, whether light and darkness succeeded each other in turn through the whole circuit of the world; or whether the darkness occupied one half of the circle, while light shone in the other. There is, however, no doubt that the order of their succession was alternate, but whether it was everywhere day at the same time, and everywhere night also, I would rather leave undecided; nor is it very necessary to be known.5555     See Note at p. 61.

4 And God saw the light Here God is introduced by Moses as surveying his work, that he might take pleasure in it. But he does it for our sake, to teach us that God has made nothing without a certain reason and design. And we ought not so to understand the words of Moses as if God did not know that his work was good, till it was finished. But the meaning of the passage is, that the work, such as we now see it, was approved by God. Therefore nothing remains for us, but to acquiesce in this judgment of God. And this admonition is very useful. For whereas man ought to apply all his senses to the admiring contemplation of the works of God,5656     “L’homme devroit estendere tous ses sens a considerer, et avoir en admiration les oeuvres de Dieu.” — “Man ought to apply all his senses in considering and having in admiration the works of God.” — French Tr. we see what license he really allows himself in detracting from them.

5. And God called the light That is, God willed that there should be a regular vicissitude of days and nights; which also followed immediately when the first day was ended. For God removed the light from view, that night might be the commencement of another day. What Moses says however, admits a double interpretation; either that this was the evening and morning belonging to the first day, or that the first day consisted of the evening and the morning. Whichever interpretation be chosen, it makes no difference in the sense, for he simply understands the day to have been made up of two parts. Further, he begins the day, according to the custom of his nation, with the evening. It is to no purpose to dispute whether this be the best and the legitimate order or not. We know that darkness preceded time itself; when God withdrew the light, he closed the day. I do not doubt that the most ancient fathers, to whom the coming night was the end of one day and the beginning of another, followed this mode of reckoning. Although Moses did not intend here to prescribe a rule which it would be criminal to violate; yet (as we have now said) he accommodated his discourse to the received custom. Wherefore, as the Jews foolishly condemn all the reckonings of other people, as if God had sanctioned this alone; so again are they equally foolish who contend that this modest reckoning, which Moses approves, is preposterous.

The first day Here the error of those is manifestly refuted, who maintain that the world was made in a moment. For it is too violent a cavil to contend that Moses distributes the work which God perfected at once into six days, for the mere purpose of conveying instruction. Let us rather conclude that God himself took the space of six days, for the purpose of accommodating his works to the capacity of men. We slightingly pass over the infinite glory of God, which here shines forth; whence arises this but from our excessive dullness in considering his greatness? In the meantime, the vanity of our minds carries us away elsewhere. For the correction of this fault, God applied the most suitable remedy when he distributed the creation of the world into successive portions, that he might fix our attention, and compel us, as if he had laid his hand upon us, to pause and to reflect. For the confirmation of the gloss above alluded to, a passage from Ecclesiasticus is unskilfully cited. ‘He who liveth for ever created all things at once,’ (Ecclesiasticus 18:1.) For the Greek adverb κοινὣ which the writer uses, means no such thing, nor does it refer to time, but to all things universally.5757     So the English translation: “He that liveth forever made all things in general.”

6 Let there be a firmament5858     “Sit extensio.” In the next verse he changes the word to “expansio”. “Fecit expansionem.” — “He made an expanse.” The work of the second day is to provide an empty space around the circumference of the earth, that heaven and earth may not be mixed together. For since the proverb, ‘to mingle heaven and earth,’ denotes the extreme of disorder, this distinction ought to be regarded as of great importance. Moreover, the word רקיע (rakia) comprehends not only the whole region of the air, but whatever is open above us: as the word heaven is sometimes understood by the Latins. Thus the arrangement, as well of the heavens as of the lower atmosphere, is called רקיע(rakia) without discrimination between them, but sometimes the word signifies both together sometimes one part only, as will appear more plainly in our progress. I know not why the Greeks have chosen to render the word ςτερέωμα, which the Latins have imitated in the term, firmamentum;5959     See the Septuagint and Vulgate, which have both been followed by our English translators. Doubtless Calvin is correct in supposing the true meaning of the Hebrew word to be expanse; but the translators of the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and our own version, were not without reasons for the manner in which they rendered the word. The root, רקע, signifies, according to Gesenius, Lee, Cocceius, etc., to stamp with the foot, to beat or hammer out any malleable substance; and the derivative, רקיע, is the outspreading of the heavens, which, “according to ordinary observation, rests like the half of a hollow sphere over the earth.” To the Hebrews, as Gesenius observes, it presented a crystal or sapphire-like appearance. Hence it was thought to be something firm as well as expanded — a roof of crystal or of sapphire. The reader may also refer to the note of Johannes Clericus, in his commentary on Genesis, who retains the word firmament, and argues at length in vindication of the term. — Ed for literally it means expanse. And to this David alludes when he says that ‘the heavens are stretched out by God like a curtain,’ (Psalm 104:2.) If any one should inquire whether this vacuity did not previously exist, I answer, however true it may be that all parts of the earth were not overflowed by the waters; yet now, for the first time, a separation was ordained, whereas a confused admixture had previously existed. Moses describes the special use of this expanse, to divide the waters from the waters from which word arises a great difficulty. For it appears opposed to common sense, and quite incredible, that there should be waters above the heaven. Hence some resort to allegory, and philosophize concerning angels; but quite beside the purpose. For, to my mind, this is a certain principle, that nothing is here treated of but the visible form of the world. He who would learn astronomy,6060     Astrologia. This word includes, but is not necessarily confined to that empirical and presumptuous science, (falsely so-called,) which we now generally designate by the term astrology. As the word originally means nothing but the science of the stars, so it was among our own earlier writers applied in the same manner. Consequently, it comprehended the sublime and useful science of astronomy. From the double meaning of the word, Calvin sometimes speaks of it with approbation, and sometimes with censure. But attention to his reasoning will show, that what he commends is astronomy, and what he censures is astrology in the present acceptation of the word. — Ed. and other recondite arts, let him go elsewhere. Here the Spirit of God would teach all men without exception; and therefore what Gregory declares falsely and in vain respecting statues and pictures is truly applicable to the history of the creation, namely, that it is the book of the unlearned.6161     The following are the words of Pope Gregory I: “Idcirco enim pictura in ecclesiis adhibeter, ut hi qui literas nesciunt, saltem in parietibu videndo legant quae legere in codicibus non valent.” Epis. cix. ad Lerenum. The things, therefore, which he relates, serve as the garniture of that theater which he places before our eyes. Whence I conclude, that the waters here meant are such as the rude and unlearned may perceive. The assertion of some, that they embrace by faith what they have read concerning the waters above the heavens, notwithstanding their ignorance respecting them, is not in accordance with the design of Moses. And truly a longer inquiry into a matter open and manifest is superfluous. We see that the clouds suspended in the air, which threaten to fall upon our heads, yet leave us space to breathe.6262     “Capitibus nostris sic minari, ut spirandi locus nobis relinquant.” The French is more diffuse: “Nous menacent, comme si elles devoyent tomber sur nos testes; et toutesfois elle nous laissent ici lieu our respirer.” “They threaten us, as if they would fall upon our heads; and, nevertheless, they leave us here space to breathe.” They who deny that this is effected by the wonderful providence of God, are vainly inflated with the folly of their own minds. We know, indeed that the rain is naturally produced; but the deluge sufficiently shows how speedily we might be overwhelmed by the bursting of the clouds, unless the cataracts of heaven were closed by the hand of God. Nor does David rashly recount this among His miracles, that God layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters, (Psalm 104:3;) and he elsewhere calls upon the celestial waters to praise God, (Psalm 148:4.) Since, therefore, God has created the clouds, and assigned them a region above us, it ought not to be forgotten that they are restrained by the power of God, lest, gushing forth with sudden violence, they should swallow us up: and especially since no other barrier is opposed to them than the liquid and yielding, air, which would easily give way unless this word prevailed, ‘Let there be an expanse between the waters.’ Yet Moses has not affixed to the work of this day the note that God saw that it was good: perhaps because there was no advantage from it till the terrestrial waters were gathered into their proper place, which was done on the next day, and therefore it is there twice repeated.6363     The Septuagint here inserts the clause, “God saw that it was good;” but, as it is found neither in the Hebrew nor in any other ancient version, it must be abandoned. The Rabbis say that the clause was omitted, because the angels fell on that day; but this is to cut the knot rather than to untie it. There is more probability in the conjecture of Picherellus, who supposes that what follows in the ninth and tenth verses all belonged to the work of the second day, though mentioned after it; and, in the same way, he contends that the formation of the beasts, recorded in the 24th verse, belonged to the fifth day, though mentioned after it. Examples of this kind, of Hysteron proteron, are adduced in confirmation of this interpretation. See Poole’s Synopsis in loco. — Ed.

9. Let the waters... be gathered together This also is an illustrious miracle, that the waters by their departure have given a dwelling-place to men. For even philosophers allow that the natural position of the waters was to cover the whole earth, as Moses declares they did in the beginning; first, because being an element, it must be circular, and because this element is heavier than the air, and lighter than the earth, it ought cover the latter in its whole circumference.6464     This reasoning is to be explained by reference to the philosophical theories of the age. — Ed. But that the seas, being gathered together as on heaps, should give place for man, is seemingly preternatural; and therefore Scripture often extols the goodness of God in this particular. See Psalm 33:7,

‘He has gathered the waters together on a heap,
and has laid them up in his treasures.’

Also Psalm 78:13,

‘He has collected the waters as into a bottle.’6565     “Velut in utrem;” “from the Vulgate.” The English version is, “He made the waters to stand as an heap.”

Jeremiah 5:22,

‘Will ye not fear me? will ye not tremble at my presence,
who have placed the sand as the boundary of the sea?’

Job 38:8,

‘Who has shut up the sea with doors? Have not I surrounded it with gates and bars?
I have said,
Hitherto shalt thou proceed; here shall thy swelling waves be broken.’

Let us, therefore, know that we are dwelling on dry ground, because God, by his command, has removed the waters that they should not overflow the whole earth.

11. Let the earth bring forth grass Hitherto the earth was naked and barren, now the Lord fructifies it by his word. For though it was already destined to bring forth fruit, yet till new virtue proceeded from the mouth of God, it must remain dry and empty. For neither was it naturally fit to produce anything, nor had it a germinating principle from any other source, till the mouth of the Lord was opened. For what David declares concerning the heavens, ought also to be extended to the earth; that it was

‘made by the word of the Lord, and was adorned and furnished by the breath of his mouth,’ (Psalm 33:6.)

Moreover, it did not happen fortuitously, that herbs and trees were created before the sun and moon. We now see, indeed, that the earth is quickened by the sun to cause it to bring forth its fruits; nor was God ignorant of this law of nature, which he has since ordained: but in order that we might learn to refer all things to him he did not then make use of the sun or moon.6666     “Nullas tunc soli et lunae partes concessit.” — “Il ne s’est point servi en cest endroit du soleil ni de la lune.” — French Tr. He permits us to perceive the efficacy which he infuses into them, so far as he uses their instrumentality; but because we are wont to regard as part of their nature properties which they derive elsewhere, it was necessary that the vigor which they now seem to impart to the earth should be manifest before they were created. We acknowledge, it is true, in words, that the First Cause is self-sufficient, and that intermediate and secondary causes have only what they borrow from this First Cause; but, in reality, we picture God to ourselves as poor or imperfect, unless he is assisted by second causes. How few, indeed, are there who ascend higher than the sun when they treat of the fecundity of the earth? What therefore we declare God to have done designedly, was indispensably necessary; that we may learn from the order of the creation itself, that God acts through the creatures, not as if he needed external help, but because it was his pleasure. When he says, ‘Let the earth bring forth the herb which may produce seed, the tree whose seed is in itself,’ he signifies not only that herbs and trees were then created, but that, at the same time, both were endued with the power of propagation, in order that their several species might be perpetuated. Since, therefore, we daily see the earth pouring forth to us such riches from its lap, since we see the herbs producing seed, and this seed received and cherished in the bosom of the earth till it springs forth, and since we see trees shooting from other trees; all this flows from the same Word. If therefore we inquire, how it happens that the earth is fruitful, that the germ is produced from the seed, that fruits come to maturity, and their various kinds are annually reproduced; no other cause will be found, but that God has once spoken, that is, has issued his eternal decree; and that the earth, and all things proceeding from it, yield obedience to the command of God, which they always hear.

14. Let there be lights6767     “Luminaria” — “Luminaries.” Hebrew מארות. Instruments of light, from אור, light, in verse 3. “Lighters; that is lightsome bodies, or instruments that show light.” — Ainsworth Moses passes onwards to the fourth day, on which the stars were made. God had before created the light, but he now institutes a new order in nature, that the sun should be the dispenser of diurnal light, and the moon and stars should shine by night. And He assigns them this office, to teach us that all creatures are subject to his will, and execute what he enjoins upon them. For Moses relates nothing else than that God ordained certain instruments to diffuse through the earth, by reciprocal changes, that light which had been previously created. The only difference is this, that the light was before dispersed, but now proceeds from lucid bodies; which in serving this purpose, obey the command of God.

To divide the day from the night He means the artificial day, which begins at the rising of the sun and ends at its setting. For the natural day (which he mentions above) includes in itself the night. Hence infer, that the interchange of days and nights shall be continual: because the word of God, who determined that the days should be distinct from the nights, directs the course of the sun to this end.

Let them be for signs It must be remembered, that Moses does not speak with philosophical acuteness on occult mysteries, but relates those things which are everywhere observed, even by the uncultivated, and which are in common use. A twofold advantage is chiefly perceived from the course of the sun and moon; the one is natural, the other applies to civil institutions. 6868     “Altera ad ordinaem politicum spectat.” Under the term nature, I also comprise agriculture. For although sowing and reaping require human art and industry; this, nevertheless, is natural, that the sun, by its nearer approach, warms our earth, that he introduces the vernal season, that he is the cause of summer and autumn. But that, for the sake of assisting their memory, men number among themselves years and months; that of these, they form lustra and olympiads; that they keep stated days; this I say, is peculiar to civil polity. Of each of these mention is here made. I must, however, in a few words, state the reason why Moses calls them signs; because certain inquisitive persons abuse this passages to give color to their frivolous predictions: I call those men Chaldeans and fanatics, who divine everything from the aspects of the stars.6969     “Ex siderum praesagiis nihil non divinant.” Because Moses declares that the sun and moon were appointed for signs, they think themselves entitled to elicit from them anything they please. But confutation is easy: for they are called signs of certain things, not signs to denote whatever is according to our fancy. What indeed does Moses assert to be signified by them, except things belonging to the order of nature? For the same God who here ordains signs testifies by Isaiah that he ‘will dissipate the signs of the diviners,’ (Isaiah 44:25;) and forbids us to be ‘dismayed at the signs of heaven,’ (Jeremiah 10:2.) But since it is manifest that Moses does not depart from the ordinary custom of men, I desist from a longer discussion. The word מועדים (moadim,) which they translate ‘certain times’, is variously understood among the Hebrews: for it signifies both time and place, and also assemblies of persons. The Rabbis commonly explain the passage as referring to their festivals. But I extend it further to mean, in the first place, the opportunities of time, which in French are called saisons, (seasons;) and then all fairs and forensic assemblies.7070     See the Lexicons of Schindler, Lee, and Gesenius, and Dathe’s Commentary on the Pentateuch. The two latter writers explain the terms “signs and seasons” by the Figure Hendiadys, for “signs of seasons.” “Zu Zeichen der Zeiten.” The word stands — 1. For the year. 2. For an assembly. 3. For the place of assembling. 4. For a signal. — Ed Finally, Moses commemorates the unbounded goodness of God in causing the sun and moon not only to enlighten us, but to afford us various other advantages for the daily use of life. It remains that we, purely enjoying the multiplied bounties of God, should learn not to profane such excellent gifts by our preposterous abuse of them. In the meantime, let us admire this wonderful Artificer, who has so beautifully arranged all things above and beneath, that they may respond to each other in most harmonious concert.

15. Let them be for lights It is well again to repeat what I have said before, that it is not here philosophically discussed, how great the sun is in the heaven, and how great, or how little, is the moon; but how much light comes to us from them.7171     “Great lights;” that is, in our eyes, “to which the sun and moon are nearer than the fixed stars and the greater planets.” — Johannes Clericus in Genesin, p.10. — Ed. For Moses here addresses himself to our senses, that the knowledge of the gifts of God which we enjoy may not glide away. Therefore, in order to apprehend the meaning of Moses, it is to no purpose to soar above the heavens; let us only open our eyes to behold this light which God enkindles for us in the earth. By this method (as I have before observed) the dishonesty of those men is sufficiently rebuked, who censure Moses for not speaking with greater exactness. For as it became a theologian, he had respect to us rather than to the stars. Nor, in truth, was he ignorant of the fact, that the moon had not sufficient brightness to enlighten the earth, unless it borrowed from the sun; but he deemed it enough to declare what we all may plainly perceive, that the moon is a dispenser of light to us. That it is, as the astronomers assert, an opaque body, I allow to be true, while I deny it to be a dark body. For, first, since it is placed above the element of fire, it must of necessity be a fiery body. Hence it follows, that it is also luminous; but seeing that it has not light sufficient to penetrate to us, it borrows what is wanting from the sun. He calls it a lesser light by comparison; because the portion of light which it emits to us is small compared with the infinite splendor of the sun.7272     The reader will be in no danger of being misled by the defective natural philosophy of the age in which this was written.

16. The greater light I have said, that Moses does not here subtilely descant, as a philosopher, on the secrets of nature, as may be seen in these words. First, he assigns a place in the expanse of heaven to the planets and stars; but astronomers make a distinction of spheres, and, at the same time, teach that the fixed stars have their proper place in the firmament. Moses makes two great luminaries; but astronomers prove, by conclusive reasons that the star of Saturn, which on account of its great distance, appears the least of all, is greater than the moon. Here lies the difference; Moses wrote in a popular style things which without instruction, all ordinary persons, endued with common sense, are able to understand; but astronomers investigate with great labor whatever the sagacity of the human mind can comprehend. Nevertheless, this study is not to be reprobated, nor this science to be condemned, because some frantic persons are wont boldly to reject whatever is unknown to them. For astronomy is not only pleasant, but also very useful to be known: it cannot be denied that this art unfolds the admirable wisdom of God. Wherefore, as ingenious men are to be honored who have expended useful labor on this subject, so they who have leisure and capacity ought not to neglect this kind of exercise. Nor did Moses truly wish to withdraw us from this pursuit in omitting such things as are peculiar to the art; but because he was ordained a teacher as well of the unlearned and rude as of the learned, he could not otherwise fulfill his office than by descending to this grosser method of instruction. Had he spoken of things generally unknown, the uneducated might have pleaded in excuse that such subjects were beyond their capacity. Lastly since the Spirit of God here opens a common school for all, it is not surprising that he should chiefly choose those subjects which would be intelligible to all. If the astronomer inquires respecting the actual dimensions of the stars, he will find the moon to be less than Saturn; but this is something abstruse, for to the sight it appears differently. Moses, therefore, rather adapts his discourse to common usage. For since the Lord stretches forth, as it were, his hand to us in causing us to enjoy the brightness of the sun and moon, how great would be our ingratitude were we to close our eyes against our own experience? There is therefore no reason why janglers should deride the unskilfulness of Moses in making the moon the second luminary; for he does not call us up into heaven, he only proposes things which lie open before our eyes. Let the astronomers possess their more exalted knowledge; but, in the meantime, they who perceive by the moon the splendor of night, are convicted by its use of perverse ingratitude unless they acknowledge the beneficence of God.

To rule7373     “In dominum.” For dominion. He does not ascribe such dominion to the sun and moon as shall, in the least degree, diminish the power of God; but because the sun, in half the circuit of heaven, governs the day, and the moon the night, by turns; he therefore assigns to them a kind of government. Yet let us remember, that it is such a government as implies that the sun is still a servant, and the moon a handmaid. In the meantime, we dismiss the reverie of Plato who ascribes reason and intelligence to the stars. Let us be content with this simple exposition, that God governs the days and nights by the ministry of the sun and moon, because he has them as his charioteers to convey light suited to the season.

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.

21. And God created A question here arises out of the word created. For we have before contended, that because the world was created, it was made out of nothing; but now Moses says that things formed from other matter were created. They who truly and properly assert that the fishes were created because the waters were in no way sufficient or suitable for their production, only resort to a subterfuge: for, in the meantime, the fact would remain that the material of which they were made existed before; which, in strict propriety, the word created does not admit. I therefore do not restrict the creation here spoken of to the work of the fifth day, but rather suppose it to refer to that shapeless and confused mass, which was as the fountain of the whole world.7676     “Ego vero ad opus diei quinti non restringo creationem; sed potius ex illa infermi et confusa massa pendere dico, quae fuit veluti scaturigo totius mundi.” The passage seems to be obscure; and if the translation above given is correct, the Old English version by Tymme has not hit the true meaning. The French version is as follows: — “Je ne restrain point la creation a l’ouvrage du cinquieme jour; plustost je di qu’elle depend de cette masse confuse qui a este comme la source de tout le monde.” — Ed. God then, it is said, created whales (balaenas) and other fishes, not that the beginning of their creation is to be reckoned from the moment in which they receive their form; but because they are comprehended in the universal matter which was made out of nothing. So that, with respect to species, form only was then added to them; but creation is nevertheless a term truly used respecting both the whole and the parts. The word commonly rendered whales (cetos vel cete) might in my judgment be not improperly translated thynnus or tunny fish, as corresponding with the Hebrew word thaninim.7777     תנינם. “Significat omnia ingentia animalia tam terrestria ut dracones, quam aquatica ut balaenas.” “It signifies all large animals, both terrestrial, as dragons, and aquatic, as whales.” — Poole’s Synopsis. Sometimes it refers to the crocodile, and seems obviously of kindred signfication with the word Leviathan. Schindler gives this meaning among others, — serpents, dragons, great fishes, whales, thinni. — See also Patrick’s Commentary, who takes it for the crocodile. — Ed

When he says that “the waters brought forth,”7878     “Aquas fecisse reptare,” that “the waters caused to creep forth.” — Ed. he proceeds to commend the efficacy of the word, which the waters hear so promptly, that, though lifeless in themselves, they suddenly teem with a living offspring, yet the language of Moses expresses more; namely, that fishes innumerable are daily produced from the waters, because that word of God, by which he once commanded it, is continually in force.

22. And God blessed them What is the force of this benediction he soon declares. For God does not, after the manner of men, pray that we may be blessed; but, by the bare intimation of his purpose, effects what men seek by earnest entreaty. He therefore blesses his creatures when he commands them to increase and grow; that is, he infuses into them fecundity by his word. But it seems futile for God to address fishes and reptiles. I answer, this mode of speaking was no other than that which might be easily understood. For the experiment itself teaches, that the force of the word which was addressed to the fishes was not transient, but rather, being infused into their nature, has taken root, and constantly bears fruit.

24. Let the earth bring forth He descends to the sixth day, on which the animals were created, and then man. ‘Let the earth,’ he says, ‘bring forth living creatures.’ But whence has a dead element life? Therefore, there is in this respect a miracle as great as if God had begun to create out of nothing those things which he commanded to proceed from the earth. And he does not take his material from the earth, because he needed it, but that he might the better combine the separate parts of the world with the universe itself. Yet it may be inquired, why He does not here also add his benediction? I answer, that what Moses before expressed on a similar occasion is here also to be understood, although he does not repeat it word for word. I say, moreover, it is sufficient for the purpose of signifying the same thing,7979     Namely, that God’s benediction was virtually added, though no expressed in terms. See verse 22. — Ed. that Moses declares animals were created ‘according to their species:’ for this distribution carried with it something stable. It may even hence be inferred, that the offspring of animals was included. For to what purpose do distinct species exist, unless that individuals, by their several kinds, may be multiplied?8080     The reader is referred to Note 1, p. 81, for another mode of interpreting these verses; and also to Poole’s Synopsis on verse 24, where the opinion of Pichrellus is fully stated, namely, that verses 24, 25, contain part of the work of the fifth day. — Ed.

Cattle8181     Cattle, בהמה, (Behemah); plural, בהמות, (Behemoth). Some of the Hebrews thus distinguish between “cattle” and “beasts of the earth,” that the cattle feed on herbage, but that the beasts of the earth are they which eat flesh. But the Lord, a little while after, assigns herbs to both as their common food; and it may be observed, that in several parts of Scripture these two words are used indiscriminately. Indeed, I do not doubt that Moses, after he had named Behemoth, (cattle,) added the other, for the sake of fuller explanation. By ‘reptiles,’8282     “Reptiles.” In the English version, “creeping things,” the same expression which occurs in verse 20. But the Hebrew word is different. In the twentieth verrse it is שרף, (sharetz,) in the twenty-fourth it is רמש, (remes). The latter word is generally, (though not always,) as here, referred to land animals. — Ed in this place, understand those which are of an earthly nature.

26. Let us make man8383     “Faciamus hominem.” Although the tense here used is the future, all must acknowledge that this is the language of one apparently deliberating. Hitherto God has been introduced simply as commanding ; now, when he approaches the most excellent of all his works, he enters into consultation. God certainly might here command by his bare word what he wished to be done: but he chose to give this tribute to the excellency of man, that he would, in a manner, enter into consultation concerning his creation. This is the highest honor with which he has dignified us; to a due regard for which, Moses, by this mode of speaking would excite our minds. For God is not now first beginning to consider what form he will give to man, and with what endowments it would be fitting to adorn him, nor is he pausing as over a work of difficulty: but, just as we have before observed, that the creation of the world was distributed over six days, for our sake, to the end that our minds might the more easily be retained in the meditation of God’s works: so now, for the purpose of commending to our attention the dignity of our nature, he, in taking counsel concerning the creation of man, testifies that he is about to undertake something great and wonderful. Truly there are many things in this corrupted nature which may induce contempt; but if you rightly weigh all circumstances, man is, among other creatures a certain preeminent specimen of Divine wisdom, justice, and goodness, so that he is deservedly called by the ancients μικρίκοσμος, “a world in miniature.” But since the Lord needs no other counsellor, there can be no doubt that he consulted with himself. The Jews make themselves altogether ridiculous, in pretending that God held communication with the earth or with angels.8484     For the various opinions of Jewish writers on this subject, see Poole’s Synopsis in loco. See also Bishop Patrick’s Commentary on this verse. — Ed. The earth, forsooth, was a most excellent adviser! And to ascribe the least portion of a work so exquisite to angels, is a sacrilege to be held in abhorrence. Where, indeed, will they find that we were created after the image of the earth, or of angels? Does not Moses directly exclude all creatures in express terms, when he declares that Adam was created after the image of God? Others who deem themselves more acute, but are doubly infatuated, say that God spoke of himself in the plural number, according to the custom of princes. As if, in truth, that barbarous style of speaking, which has grown into use within a few past centuries, had, even then, prevailed in the world. But it is well that their canine wickedness has been joined with a stupidity so great, that they betray their folly to children. Christians, therefore, properly contend, from this testimony, that there exists a plurality of Persons in the Godhead. God summons no foreign counsellor; hence we infer that he finds within himself something distinct; as, in truth, his eternal wisdom and power reside within him.8585     “Ut certe aeterna ejus sapientia et virtus in ipso resident.” The expression is ambiguous; but the French translation renders it, “Comme a la verite, sa Sapience eternelle, et Vertu reside en luy;” which translation is here followed. By beginning the words rendered Wisdom and Power with capitals, it would appear that the second and third Persons of the Trinity were in the mind of the writer when the passage was written. And perhaps this is the only view of it which renders the reasoning of Calvin intelligible. See Notes 2 and 5, at page 75. — Ed.

In our image, etc Interpreters do not agree concerning the meaning of these words. The greater part, and nearly all, conceive that the word image is to be distinguished from likeness. And the common distinction is, that image exists in the substance, likeness in the accidents of anything. They who would define the subject briefly, say that in the image are contained those endowments which God has conferred on human nature at large, while they expound likeness to mean gratuitous gifts.8686     Some here distinguish, and say the image is in what is natural, the likeness in what is gratuitous. — Lyra. Others blend them together, and say there is an Hendiadys, that is, according to the image most like us. — Tirinus. — See Poole’s Synopsis. — Ed. But Augustine, beyond all others, speculates with excessive refinement, for the purpose of fabricating a Trinity in man. For in laying hold of the three faculties of the soul enumerated by Aristotle, the intellect, the memory, and the will, he afterwards out of one Trinity derives many. If any reader, having leisure, wishes to enjoy such speculations, let him read the tenth and fourteenth books on the Trinity, also the eleventh book of the “City of God.” I acknowledge, indeed, that there is something in man which refers to the Father and the Son, and the Spirit: and I have no difficulty in admitting the above distinction of the faculties of the soul: although the simpler division into two parts, which is more used in Scripture, is better adapted to the sound doctrine of piety; but a definition of the image of God ought to rest on a firmer basis than such subtleties. As for myself, before I define the image of God, I would deny that it differs from his likeness. For when Moses afterwards repeats the same things he passes over the likeness, and contents himself with mentioning the image. Should any one take the exception, that he was merely studying brevity; I answer,8787     “I answer,” is not in the original, but is taken from the French translation. — Ed. that where he twice uses the word image, he makes no mention of the likeness. We also know that it was customary with the Hebrews to repeat the same thing in different words. besides, the phrase itself shows that the second term was added for the sake of explanation, ‘Let us make,’ he says, ‘man in our image, according to our likeness,’ that is, that he may be like God, or may represent the image of God. Lastly, in the fifth chapter, without making any mention of image, he puts likeness in its place, (Genesis 5:1.) Although we have set aside all difference between the two words we have not yet ascertained what this image or likeness is. The Anthropomorphites were too gross in seeking this resemblance in the human body; let that reverie therefore remain entombed. Others proceed with a little more subtlety, who, though they do not imagine God to be corporeal, yet maintain that the image of God is in the body of man, because his admirable workmanship there shines brightly; but this opinion, as we shall see, is by no means consonant with Scripture. The exposition of Chrysostom is not more correct, who refers to the dominion which was given to man in order that he might, in a certain sense, act as God’s vicegerent in the government of the world. This truly is some portion, though very small, of the image of God. Since the image of God had been destroyed in us by the fall, we may judge from its restoration what it originally had been. Paul says that we are transformed into the image of God by the gospel. And, according to him, spiritual regeneration is nothing else than the restoration of the same image. (Colossians 3:10, and Ephesians 4:23.) That he made this image to consist in righteousness and true holiness, is by the figure synecdochee ;8888     Synecdoche is the figure which puts a part for the whole, or the whole for a part. — Ed. for though this is the chief part, it is not the whole of God’s image. Therefore by this word the perfection of our whole nature is designated, as it appeared when Adam was endued with a right judgment, had affections in harmony with reason, had all his senses sound and well-regulated, and truly excelled in everything good. Thus the chief seat of the Divine image was in his mind and heart, where it was eminent: yet was there no part of him in which some scintillations of it did not shine forth. For there was an attempering in the several parts of the soul, which corresponded with their various offices.8989     “Erat erim in singulis animae partibus temperatura quae suis numeris constabat.” In the mind perfect intelligence flourished and reigned, uprightness attended as its companion, and all the senses were prepared and moulded for due obedience to reason; and in the body there was a suitable correspondence with this internal order. But now, although some obscure lineaments of that image are found remaining in us; yet are they so vitiated and maimed, that they may truly be said to be destroyed. For besides the deformity which everywhere appears unsightly, this evil also is added, that no part is free from the infection of sin.

In our image, after our likeness I do not scrupulously insist upon the particles ב, (beth,) and כ, (caph9090     The two prefixes to the Hebrew words signifying image and likeness; the former of which is translated in, the latter after, or still more correctly, according to. This sentence is not translated either in the French or Old English version. — Ed. ) I know not whether there is anything solid in the opinion of some who hold that this is said, because the image of God was only shadowed forth in man till he should arrive at his perfection. The thing indeed is true; but I do not think that anything of the kind entered the mind of Moses.9191     “Innuit in homine esse imaginem Dei, sed imperfectam et qualem umbrae.” — Oleaster in Poli Synopsi. It is also truly said that Christ is the only image of the Fathers but yet the words of Moses do not bear the interpretation that “in the image” means “in Christ.” It may also be added, that even man, though in a different respects is called the image of God. In which thing some of the Fathers are deceived who thought that they could defeat the Arians with this weapon that Christ alone is God’s, image. This further difficulty is also to be encountered, namely, why Paul should deny the woman to be the image of God, when Moses honors both, indiscriminately, with this title. The solution is short; Paul there alludes only to the domestic relation. He therefore restricts the image of God to government, in which the man has superiority over the wife and certainly he meant nothing more than that man is superior in the degree of honor. But here the question is respecting that glory of God which peculiarly shines forth in human nature, where the mind, the will, and all the senses, represent the Divine order.

And let them have dominion9292     “Dominetur.” Here he commemorates that part of dignity with which he decreed to honor man, namely, that he should have authority over all living creatures. He appointed man, it is true, lord of the world; but he expressly subjects the animals to him, because they having an inclination or instinct of their own,9393     “Quae quum habeant proprium nutum.” seem to be less under authority from without. The use of the plural number intimates that this authority was not given to Adam only, but to all his posterity as well as to him. And hence we infer what was the end for which all things were created; namely, that none of the conveniences and necessaries of life might be wanting to men. In the very order of the creation the paternal solicitude of God for man is conspicuous, because he furnished the world with all things needful, and even with an immense profusion of wealth, before he formed man. Thus man was rich before he was born. But if God had such care for us before we existed, he will by no means leave us destitute of food and of other necessaries of life, now that we are placed in the world. Yet, that he often keeps his hand as if closed is to be imputed to our sins.

27. So God created man The reiterated mention of the image of God is not a vain repetition. For it is a remarkable instance of the Divine goodness which can never be sufficiently proclaimed. And, at the same time, he admonishes us from what excellence we have fallen, that he may excite in us the desire of its recovery. When he soon afterwards adds, that God created them male and female, he commends to us that conjugal bond by which the society of mankind is cherished. For this form of speaking, God created man, male and female created he them, is of the same force as if he had said, that the man himself was incomplete.9494     “Acsi virum dixisset esse dimidium hominem.” Under these circumstances, the woman was added to him as a companion that they both might be one, as he more clearly expresses it in the second chapter. Malachi also means the same thing when he relates, (Genesis 2:15,) that one man was created by God, whilst, nevertheless, he possessed the fullness of the Spirit.9595     On this difficult passage see Lowth, Archbishop Newcome, and Scott, who confirm in the main the interpretation of Calvin. — Ed. For he there treats of conjugal fidelity, which the Jews were violating by their polygamy. For the purpose of correcting this fault, he calls that pair, consisting of man and woman, which God in the beginning had joined together, one man, in order that every one might learn to be content with his own wife.

28. And God blessed them This blessing of God may be regarded as the source from which the human race has flowed. And we must so consider it not only with reference to the whole, but also, as they say, in every particular instance. For we are fruitful or barren in respect of offspring, as God imparts his power to some and withholds it from others. But here Moses would simply declare that Adam with his wife was formed for the production of offspring, in order that men might replenish the earth. God could himself indeed have covered the earth with a multitude of men; but it was his will that we should proceed from one fountain, in order that our desire of mutual concord might be the greater, and that each might the more freely embrace the other as his own flesh. Besides, as men were created to occupy the earth, so we ought certainly to conclude that God has mapped, as with a boundary, that space of earth which would suffice for the reception of men, and would prove a suitable abode for them. Any inequality which is contrary to this arrangement is nothing else than a corruption of nature which proceeds from sin. In the meantime, however, the benediction of God so prevails that the earth everywhere lies open that it may have its inhabitants, and that an immense multitude of men may find, in some part of the globe, their home. Now, what I have said concerning marriage must be kept in mind; that God intends the human race to be multiplied by generation indeed, but not, as in brute animals, by promiscuous intercourse. For he has joined the man to his wife, that they might produce a divine, that is, a legitimate seed. Let us then mark whom God here addresses when he commands them to increase, and to whom he limits his benediction. Certainly he does not give the reins to human passions,9696     “Certe fraenum viris et muliebris non laxavit, ut in vagas libidines ruierent, absque delectu et pudore: sed a sancto castoque conjugio incipiens, descendit ad generationem.” but, beginning at holy and chaste marriage, he proceeds to speak of the production of offspring. For this is also worthy of notice, that Moses here briefly alludes to a subject which he afterwards means more fully to explain, and that the regular series of the history is inverted, yet in such a way as to make the true succession of events apparent. The question, however, is proposed, whether fornicators and adulterers become fruitful by the power of God; which, if it be true, then whether the blessing of God is in like manner extended to them? I answer, this is a corruption of the Divine institute; and whereas God produces offspring from this muddy pool, as well as from the pure fountain of marriage, this will tend to their greater destruction. Still that pure and lawful method of increase, which God ordained from the beginning, remains firm; this is that law of nature which common sense declares to be inviolable.

Subdue it He confirms what he had before said respecting dominion. Man had already been created with this condition, that he should subject the earth to himself; but now, at length, he is put in possession of his right, when he hears what has been given to him by the Lord: and this Moses expresses still more fully in the next verse, when he introduces God as granting to him the herbs and the fruits. For it is of great importance that we touch nothing of God’s bounty but what we know he has permitted us to do; since we cannot enjoy anything with a good conscience, except we receive it as from the hand of God. And therefore Paul teaches us that, in eating and drinking we always sin, unless faith be present, (Romans 14:23.) Thus we are instructed to seek from God alone whatever is necessary for us, and in the very use of his gifts, we are to exercise ourselves in meditating on his goodness and paternal care. For the words of God are to this effect: ‘Behold, I have prepared food for thee before thou wast formed; acknowledge me, therefore, as thy Father, who have so diligently provided for thee when thou wast not yet created. Moreover, my solicitude for thee has proceeded still further; it was thy business to nurture the things provided for thee, but I have taken even this charge also upon myself. Wherefore, although thou art, in a sense, constituted the father of the earthly family,9797     “Paterfamilias in mundo.” it is not for thee to be overanxious about the sustenance of animals.’9898     See verses 29, 30, in which God promises the herbs and fruits of the earth, and every green herb, to the beasts of the earth for food. The reader will perceive that the subsequent observations of Calvin refer more especially to these verses. — Ed.

Some infer, from this passage that men were content with herbs and fruits until the deluge, and that it was even unlawful for them to eat flesh. And this seems the more probable, because God confines, in some way, the food of mankind within certain limits. Then after the deluge, he expressly grants them the use of flesh. These reasons, however are not sufficiently strong: for it may be adduced on the opposite side, that the first men offered sacrifices from their flocks.9999     It does not appear that there is much force in Calvin’s objections to the opinion, that flesh was not allowed for human food till after the deluge. For if the sacrifices offered were holocausts, then the skin only would be left for the use of man. See notes on the offerings of Cain and Abel in the fourth chapter; and, especially, Dr. Magee’s work on the Atonement, Dissertation LII, On the date of the permission of animal food to man. — Ed. This, moreover, is the law of sacrificing rightly, not to offer unto God anything except what he has granted to our use. Lastly men were clothed in skins; therefore it was lawful for them to kill animals. For these reasons, I think it will be better for us to assert nothing concerning this matter. Let it suffice for us, that herbs and the fruits of trees were given them as their common food; yet it is not to be doubted that this was abundantly sufficient for their highest gratification. For they judge prudently who maintain that the earth was so marred by the deluge, that we retain scarcely a moderate portion of the original benediction. Even immediately after the fall of man, it had already begun to bring forth degenerate and noxious fruits, but at the deluge, the change became still greater. Yet, however this may be, God certainly did not intend that man should be slenderly and sparingly sustained; but rather, by these words, he promises a liberal abundance, which should leave nothing wanting to a sweet and pleasant life. For Moses relates how beneficent the Lord had been to them, in bestowing on them all things which they could desire, that their ingratitude might have the less excuse.

31. And God saw everything Once more, at the conclusion of the creation, Moses declares that God approved of everything which he had made. In speaking of God as seeing, he does it after the manner of men; for the Lord designed this his judgment to be as a rule and example to us; that no one should dare to think or speak otherwise of his works. For it is not lawful for us to dispute whether that ought to be approved or not which God has already approved; but it rather becomes us to acquiesce without controversy. The repetition also denotes how wanton is the temerity of man: otherwise it would have been enough to have said, once for all, that God approved of his works. But God six times inculcates the same thing, that he may restrain, as with so many bridles, our restless audacity. But Moses expresses more than before; for he adds מאד, (meod,) that is, very. On each of the days, simple approbation was given. But now, after the workmanship of the world was complete in all its parts, and had received, if I may so speak, the last finishing touch, he pronounces it perfectly good; that we may know that there is in the symmetry of God’s works the highest perfection, to which nothing can be added.

1. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished100100     The three verses at the commencement of this chapter evidently belong to the first, being a summing up of the preceding history of the creation, and an account of the sabbatical institution on the seventh day. The remark of Dathe is, “Male capita hoc loco sunt divisa. Tres versus priores ad primum caput sunt referendi.” — Ed. Moses summarily repeats that in six days the fabric of the heaven and the earth was completed. The general division of the world is made into these two parts, as has been stated at the commencement of the first chapter. But he now adds, all the host of them, by which he signifies that the world was furnished with all its garniture. This epilogue, moreover, with sufficient clearness entirely refutes the error of those who imagine that the world was formed in a moment; for it declares that all end was only at length put to the work on the sixth day. Instead of host we might not improperly render the term abundance ;101101     “Copiam,” a questionable rendering, surely of the word צבאם. The Septuagint gives the word κόσμος, and the Vulgate, ornatus; the meaning of both words is “ornaments,” or garniture. The other versions in Walton translate it exercitus, host or army. Fagius, in Poli Synopsi, seems the chief maintainer of Calvin’s interpretation. The words of Poole are, “Alii, virtus, copia eorum, quia eis declarat Deus (sicutrex copiis suis,) potentiam et sapientiam.” — Ed for Moses declares that this world was in every sense completed, as if the whole house were well supplied and filled with its furniture. The heavens without the sun, and moon, and stars, would be an empty and dismantled palace: if the earth were destitute of animals, trees, and plants, that barren waste would have the appearance of a poor and deserted house. God, therefore, did not cease from the work of the creation of the world till he had completed it in every part, so that nothing should be wanting to its suitable abundance.

2. And he rested on the seventh day The question may not improperly be put, what kind of rest this was. For it is certain that inasmuch as God sustains the world by his power, governs it by his providence, cherishes and even propagates all creatures, he is constantly at work. Therefore that saying of Christ is true, that the Father and he himself had worked from the beginning hitherto,102102     John 5:17. This sentence is omitted in Tymme’s English version. — Ed. because, if God should but withdraw his hand a little, all things would immediately perish and dissolve into nothing, as is declared in Psalm 104:29103103     “Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled; thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.” And indeed God is rightly acknowledged as the Creator of heaven and earth only whilst their perpetual preservation is ascribed to him.104104     The word translated preservation is vegetationem, which means an enlivening or a quickening motion; to explain this the Old English translation here adds, though without authority, “According to this saying of the apostle, In him we live, and move, and have our being.” — Ed. The solution of the difficulty is well known, that God ceased from all his work, when he desisted from the creation of new kinds of things. But to make the sense clearer, understand that the last touch of God had been put, in order that nothing might be wanting to the perfection of the world. And this is the meaning of the words of Moses, From all his work which he had made ; for he points out the actual state of the work as God would have it to be, as if he had said, then was completed what God had proposed to himself. On the whole, this language is intended merely to express the perfection of the fabric of the world; and therefore we must not infer that God so ceased from his works as to desert them, since they only flourish and subsist in him. Besides, it is to be observed, that in the works of the six days, those things alone are comprehended which tend to the lawful and genuine adorning of the world. It is subsequently that we shall find God saying, Let the earth bring forth thorns and briers, by which he intimates that the appearance of the earth should be different from what it had been in the beginning. But the explanation is at hand; many things which are now seen in the world are rather corruptions of it than any part of its proper furniture. For ever since man declined from his high original, it became necessary that the world should gradually degenerate from its nature. We must come to this conclusion respecting the existence of fleas, caterpillars, and other noxious insects. In all these, I say, there is some deformity of the world, which ought by no means to be regarded as in the order of nature, since it proceeds rather from the sin of man than from the hand of God. Truly these things were created by God, but by God as an avenger. In this place, however, Moses is not considering God as armed for the punishment of the sins of men; but as the Artificer, the Architect, the bountiful Father of a family, who has omitted nothing essential to the perfection of his edifice. At the present time, when we look upon the world corrupted, and as if degenerated from its original creation, let that expression of Paul recur to our mind, that the creature is liable to vanity, not willingly, but through our fault, (Romans 8:20,) and thus let us mourn, being admonished of our just condemnation.

3. And God blessed the seventh day It appears that God is here said to bless according to the manner of men, because they bless him whom they highly extol. Nevertheless, even in this sense, it would not be unsuitable to the character of God; because his blessing sometimes means the favor which he bestows upon his people, as the Hebrews call that man the blessed of God, who, by a certain special favor, has power with God. (See Genesis 24:31.) Enter thou blessed of God. Thus we may be allowed to describe the day as blessed by him which he has embraced with love, to the end that the excellence and dignity of his works may therein be celebrated. Yet I have no doubt that Moses, by adding the word sanctified, wished immediately to explain what he had said, and thus all ambiguity is removed, because the second word is exegetical of the former. For קדש (kadesh,) with the Hebrews, is to separate from the common number. God therefore sanctifies the seventh day, when he renders it illustrious, that by a special law it may be distinguished from the rest. Whence it also appears, that God always had respect to the welfare of men. I have said above, that six days were employed in the formation of the world; not that God, to whom one moment is as a thousand years, had need of this succession of time, but that he might engage us in the consideration of his works. He had the same end in view in the appointment of his own rest, for he set apart a day selected out of the remainder for this special use. Wherefore, that benediction is nothing else than a solemn consecration, by which God claims for himself the meditations and employments of men on the seventh day. This is, indeed, the proper business of the whole life, in which men should daily exercise themselves, to consider the infinite goodness, justice, power, and wisdom of God, in this magnificent theater of heaven and earth. But, lest men should prove less sedulously attentive to it than they ought, every seventh day has been especially selected for the purpose of supplying what was wanting in daily meditation. First, therefore, God rested; then he blessed this rest, that in all ages it might be held sacred among men: or he dedicated every seventh day to rest, that his own example might be a perpetual rule. The design of the institution must be always kept in memory: for God did not command men simply to keep holiday every seventh day, as if he delighted in their indolence; but rather that they, being released from all other business, might the more readily apply their minds to the Creator of the world. Lastly, that is a sacred rest,105105     Both in the Amsterdam edition of 1761,a nd Hengstenberg’s, the word is vocatio; but as the French translation gives reste, and the Old English one rest, there can be little doubt that the original word was vacatio, as the sense of the passage seems to require. — Ed. which withdraws men from the impediments of the world, that it may dedicate them entirely to God. But now, since men are so backward to celebrate the justice, wisdom, and power of God, and to consider his benefits, that even when they are most faithfully admonished they still remain torpid, no slight stimulus is given by God’s own example, and the very precept itself is thereby rendered amiable. For God cannot either more gently allure, or more effectually incite us to obedience, than by inviting and exhorting us to the imitation of himself. Besides, we must know, that this is to be the common employment not of one age or people only, but of the whole human race. Afterwards, in the Law, a new precept concerning the Sabbath was given, which should be peculiar to the Jews, and but for a season; because it was a legal ceremony shadowing forth a spiritual rest, the truth of which was manifested in Christ. Therefore the Lord the more frequently testifies that he had given, in the Sabbath, a symbol of sanctification to his ancient people.106106     “Sanctificationis symbolum.” — “A symbol or sign of santification;” that is, a sign that God had set them apart as a holy and peculiar people to himself. “Moreover, also, I gave them my Sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.” Ezekiel 20:12. — Ed. Therefore when we hear that the Sabbath was abrogated by the coming of Christ, we must distinguish between what belongs to the perpetual government of human life, and what properly belongs to ancient figures, the use of which was abolished when the truth was fulfilled. Spiritual rest is the mortification of the flesh; so that the sons of God should no longer live unto themselves, or indulge their own inclination. So far as the Sabbath was a figure of this rest, I say, it was but for a season; but inasmuch as it was commanded to men from the beginning that they might employ themselves in the worship of God, it is right that it should continue to the end of the world.

Which God created and made107107     “Quod creavarat Deus ut faceret.” Hebrew אשר ברא אלהים לעשות. “Which God created to make.” For the various opinions and fancies of learned men on this passage, the reader is referred to Poole’s Synopsis. The more respectable commentators mainly agree with Calvin. Ainsworth says: “created to make, that is, to exist and be, and that perfectly and gloriously, as by divine power of creation. Or rather, created and made perfectly and excellently: for so the Hebrew phrase may be explained.” The version of Dathe is “creando perfecerat,” — “he had perfected in creating.” See also Professor Bush in loco. Le Clerc, whose extraordinary learning and industry render his opinion on merely critical questions of great value, notwithstanding his lamentable scepticism, would rather translate the expression, “which he had begun to make.” But the other translation is to be preferred. Vide Johannes Clericus in Genesin. — Ed Here the Jews, in their usual method, foolishly trifle, saying, that God being anticipated in his work by the last evening, left certain animals imperfect, of which kind are fauns and satyrs, as though he had been one of the ordinary class of artifices who have need of time. Ravings so monstrous prove the authors of them to have been delivered over to a reprobate mind, as a dreadful example of the wrath of God. As to the meaning of Moses, some take it thus: that God created his Works in order to make them, inasmuch as from the time he gave them being, he did not withdraw his hand from their preservation. But this exposition is harsh. Nor do I more willingly subscribe to the opinion of those who refer the word make to man, whom God placed over his works, that he might apply them to use, and in a certain sense perfect them by his industry. I rather think that the perfect form of God’s works is here noted; as if he had said God so created his works that nothing should be wanting to their perfection; or the creation has proceeded to sucks a point, that the work is in all respects perfect.

4. These are the generations108108     A new section of the history of Moses commences at this point; and, from the repetition which occurs of some facts — such as the creation of man — which had been recorded in the preceding chapter, as well as from certain peculiarities of phraseology, many learned men have inferred, that the early portion of the Mosaic history is older than the time of Moses, and that he, under the infallible direction of the Spirit of God, collected and arranged the several fragments of primeval annals in one consistent narrative. One chief argument on which such a conclusion rests is, that from the commencement of the first chapter to the end of the third verse of the second chapter, God is spoken of only under the name of Elohim; from the fourth verse of the second to the end of the third chapter, he is uniformly styled Jehovah Elohim; and in the fourth and fifth chapters, the name of Elohim or of Jehovah stands alone. This, it is argued, could scarcely have occurred without some cause; and the inference has been drawn, that different records had different forms of expression, which Moses did not alter, unless truth required him to do so. See Dathe on the Pentateuch, Professor Bush on Genesis, and Robertson’s Clavis Pentateuchi, where reference will be found to Vitringa and others. Against this view, however, Hengstenberg argues with considerable force, in his Dissertation “on the Names of God in the Pentateuch;” and if some of his reasonings in the use of these names seem too refined for the simplicity of the Holy Scriptures, and for the comprehension of those to whom the Scriptures are chiefly addressed, yet we may discover the germ of very important truths, thought they may be, in some degree, hidden beneath a variety of fanciful developments.
   By a very careful examination of the passages in which the terms אלהים (Elohim), יהוה (Jehovah), and יהוה אלהים (Jehovah Elohim), occur, he thinks he has ascertained a reason for the use of each in its place, so that, with some exceptions, in which he allows that one term might have been exchanged for the other, the sense of the passage absolutely requires the introduction of the very appellation, and no other, which is there employed. Believing that a theory so general cannot, with all the author’s ingenuity and learning, be applied in every case, we may still admit the importance of the distinction he makes, and may readily allow that these names are intended to present the Divine character under different aspects to our view. For instance, we may suppose that Elohim and Jehovah have different meanings, arising from their derivations; but we are not to infer, that, in reading the Scriptures, we must have this diversity, or any diversity at all, in our view, when we meet with these different names of Deity.

   “These are the generations.” תולדות, (toledoth), “modo origines ejus rei de qua sermo est, modo posteros eorum de quibus agitur, significat. Priori sensu hoc loco sumitur posteriori, cap. 5:1.” “The term signifies, sometimes, the origin of the thing spoken of, sometimes the posterity of those who are mentioned. It is taken here in the former of those senses; and in chap. 5:1, in the latter.” — Dathe
The design of Moses was deeply to impress upon our minds the origin of the heaven and the earth, which he designates by the word generation. For there have always been ungrateful and malignant men, who, either by feigning, that the world was eternal or by obliterating the memory of the creations would attempt to obscure the glory of God. Thus the devil, by his guile, turns those away from God who are more ingenious and skillful than others in order that each may become a god unto himself. Wherefore, it is not a superfluous repetition which inculcates the necessary fact, that the world existed only from the time when it was created since such knowledge directs us to its Architect and Author. Under the names of heaven and earth, the whole is, by the figure synecdochee, included. Some of the Hebrews thinks that the essential name of God is here at length expressed by Moses, because his majesty shines forth more clearly in the completed world.109109     The word יהוה, Jehovah, here first occurs, — that most sacred and incommunicable name of Deity, called tetragrammaton, because it consisted of four letters, which the Jews, through reverence or superstition, refuse to pronounce. The principal meaning of the term is self-existence; which is, in truth, necessary existence, as opposed to that which is derived from, or is dependent upon, another. It has been supposed by some that Moses here introduces this title of Deity by anticipation; because, in Exodus 6:3, God declares that he had not been previously known by the name of Jehovah. But this, as Dathe forcibly reasons, is to increase difficulties rather than to remove them; for the patriarchs, Abraham and Jacob, are represented as using the name; and God himself, in speaking to them, also makes use of it. The true solution of the passage in Exodus seems to be, that God had not made known to the patriarchs the full import of his name, as he was now about to do. An elaborate investigation of the origin and import of the name יהוה (Jehovah,) will be found in the work of Hengstenberg, referred to in the preceding note. He begins with putting aside the notion of an Egyptian origin, which has been put forth with much confidence by those who would trace all the religious peculiarities of the Israelites to their connection with Egypt. He then disposes of the fancied Phoenician pedigree of the name, founded upon spurious fragments ascribed to Sanchoniathon; and concludes the negative part of his argument, by showing that the name was not derived from any heathen source whatever. Consequently, it is to be traced to “a Hebrew etymology.” We need not follow him into the discussion on the right pronunciation of the word, and the use of the vowel points belonging to אדנ, (Adonai); it may suffice to state, that he deduces the name היה(Jehovah,) from the future of the verb הוה or היה, to be. Hence the meaning of the appellation may be expressed in the words, “He who is to be (for ever).” This derivation of the name Jehovah he regards as being confirmed “by all the passages of Scripture, in which a derivation of the name is either expressly given or simply hinted.” And, beginning with the Book of Revelation, at the title ὁ ὡν καὶ ὁ ἤν καὶ ὁ ερχόμενος, “who is, and was, and is to come,” he goes upward through the sacred volume, quoting the passages which bear upon the question, till he comes to the important passage in Exodus in. 13-16, in which God declares his name to be, “I am that I am.” “Everything created,” he adds, “remains not like itself, but is continually changing under circumstances, God only, because he is the being, is always the same; and because he is always the same, is the being.” See Dissertations, p. 231-265.
   “The Lord God.”-Jehovah Elohim. The two titles of Deity are here combined. “Elohim,” says Hengstenberg, “is the more general, and Jehovah the deep and more discriminating name of the Godhead.” This may well be admitted, without accepting all the inferences which the author deduces. — Ed.

5. And every plant This verse is connected with the preceding, and must be read in continuation with it; for he annexes the plants and herbs to the earth, as the garment with which the Lord has adorned it, lest its nakedness should appear as a deformity. The noun שיה (sicah,110110     שיח Frutex, stirps; a shrub — “cujus pulluli in summa tellure expatiantur,” — “whose shoots are spread abroad over the surface of the earth.” — Robertson’s Clavis Pentateuch. — Ed ) which we translate plant, sometimes signifies trees, as below, (Genesis 21:15111111     “And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs.” — English version. ) Therefore, some in this place translate it shrub, to which I have no objection. Yet the word plant is not unsuitable; because in the former place, Moses seems to refer to the genus, and here to the species.112112     It seems remarkable that Calvin should himself translate the word “virgultum,” and then reason, in his commentary, as if he preferred the word “planta.” — Ed. But although he has before related that the herbs were created on the third day, yet it is not without reason that here again mention is made of them, in order that we may know that they were then produced, preserved, and propagated, in a manner different from that which we perceive at the present day. For herbs and trees are produced from seed; or grafts are taken from another roots or they grow by putting forth shoots: in all this the industry and the hand of man are engaged. But, at that time, the method was different: God clothed the earth, not in the same manner as now, (for there was no seed, no root, no plant, which might germinate,) but each suddenly sprung into existence at the command of God, and by the power of his word. They possessed durable vigor, so that they might stand by the force of their own nature, and not by that quickening influence which is now perceived, not by the help of rain, not by the irrigation or culture of man; but by the vapor with which God watered the earth. For he excludes these two things, the rain whence the earth derives moisture, that it may retain its native sap; and human culture, which is the assistant of nature. When he says, that God had ‘not yet caused it to rain,’ he at the same time intimates that it is God who opens and shuts the cataracts of heaven, and that rain and drought are in his hand.

7. And the Lord God formed man He now explains what he had before omitted in the creation of man, that his body was taken out of the earth. He had said that he was formed after the image of God. This is incomparably the highest nobility; and, lest men should use it as an occasion of pride, their first origin is placed immediately before them; whence they may learn that this advantage was adventitious; for Moses relates that man had been, in the beginning, dust of the earth. Let foolish men now go and boast of the excellency of their nature! Concerning other animals, it had before been said, Let the earth produce every living creature;113113     “Omnem animam viventum,” — “every living soul.” The word is applied here, and frequently in the Holy Scriptures, to describe only the sensitive and animal life, that by which a created being breathes; and thus distinguishes the animal from the vegetative life. — Ed. but, on the other hand, the body of Adam is formed of clay, and destitute of sense; to the end that no one should exult beyond measure in his flesh. He must be excessively stupid who does not hence learn humility. That which is afterwards added from another quarter, lays us under just so much obligation to God. Nevertheless, he, at the same time, designed to distinguish man by some mark of excellence from brute animals: for these arose out of the earth in a moment; but the peculiar dignity of man is shown in this, that he was gradually formed. For why did not God command him immediately to spring alive out of the earth, unless that, by a special privilege, he might outshine all the creatures which the earth produced?

And breathed into his nostrils114114     “Inspiraverat in faciem.” Whatever the greater part of the ancients might think, I do not hesitate to subscribe to the opinion of those who explain this passage of the animal life of man; and thus I expound what they call the vital spirits by the word breath. Should any one object, that if so, no distinction would be made between man and other living creatures, since here Moses relates only what is common alike to all: I answer, though here mention is made only of the lower faculty of the soul, which imparts breath to the body, and gives it vigor and motion: this does not prevent the human soul from having its proper rank, and therefore it ought to be distinguished from others.115115     “Non tamen obstare quin gradum suum obtineat anima, ideoque seorsum poni debuerit.” Moses first speaks of the breath; he then adds, that a soul was given to man by which he might live, and be endued with sense and motion. Now we know that the powers of the human mind are many and various. Wherefore, there is nothing absurd in supposing that Moses here alludes only to one of them; but omits the intellectual part, of which mention has been made in the first chapter. Three gradations, indeed, are to be noted in the creation of man; that his dead body was formed out of the dust of the earth; that it was endued with a soul, whence it should receive vital motion; and that on this soul God engraved his own image, to which immortality is annexed.

Man became a living soul116116     “Factus est in animam viventem.” I take נפש (nepesh,) for the very essence of the soul: but the epithet living suits only the present place, and does not embrace generally the powers of the soul. For Moses intended nothing more than to explain the animating of the clayey figure, whereby it came to pass that man began to live. Paul makes an antithesis between this living soul and the quickening spirit which Christ confers upon the faithful, (1 Corinthians 15:45,) for no other purpose than to teach us that the state of man was not perfected in the person of Adam; but it is a peculiar benefit conferred by Christ, that we may be renewed to a life which is celestial, whereas before the fall of Adams man’s life was only earthly, seeing it had no firm and settled constancy.

8. And the Lord God planted117117     “Plantaverat quoque Dominus.” — “The Lord had also planted.” Moses now adds the condition and rule of living which were given to man. And, first, he narrates in what part of the world he was placed, and what a happy and pleasant habitation was allotted to him. Moses says, that God had planted accommodating himself, by a simple and uncultivated style, to the capacity of the vulgar. For since the majesty of God, as it really is, cannot be expressed, the Scripture is wont to describe it according to the manner of men. God, then, had planted Paradise in a place which he had especially embellished with every variety of delights, with abounding fruits and with all other most excellent gifts. For this reason it is called a garden, on account of the elegance of its situation, and the beauty of its form. The ancient interpreter has not improperly translated it Paradise;118118     “Paradisum.” — Vulgate. because the Hebrews call the more highly cultivated gardens פרדסים(Pardaisim,119119     פרדס Baumgarten, Park, etc. “Wahrschenlich aus der Persichen Sprache, wo es die Lustparks der Koenige bezeichnet.” — “Orchard, Park, etc. — probably from the Persian, where it signifies the pleasure — parks of kings.” — Gesenius ) and Xenophon pronounces the word to be Persian, when he treats of the magnificent and sumptuous gardens of kings. That region which the Lord assigned to Adam, as the firstborn of mankind, was one selected out of the whole world.

In Eden That Jerome improperly translates this, from the beginning,120120     “Plantaverat autem Dominus Deus Paradisum voluptatis a principio.” — “But the Lord God had planted a paradise from the beginning.” — Vulgate. is very obvious: because Moses afterwards says, that Cain dwelt in the southern region of this place. Moreover it is to be observed, that when he describes paradise as in the east, he speaks in reference to the Jews, for he directs his discourse to his own people. Hence we infer, in the first place, that there was a certain region assigned by God to the first man, in which he might have his home. I state this expressly, because there have been authors who would extend this garden over all regions of the world. Truly, I confess, that if the earth had not been cursed on account of the sin of man, the whole — as it had been blessed from the beginning — would have remained the fairest scene both of fruitfulness and of delight; that it would have been, in short, not dissimilar to Paradise, when compared with that scene of deformity which we now behold. But when Moses here describes particularly the situation of the region, they absurdly transfer what Moses said of a certain particular place to the whole world. It is not indeed doubtful (as I just now hinted) that God would choose the most fertile and pleasant place, the first-fruits (so to speak) of the earth, as his gift to Adam, whom he had dignified with the honor of primogeniture among men, in token of his special favor. Again, we infer, that this garden was situated on the earth, not as some dream in the air; for unless it had been a region of our world, it would not have been placed opposite to Judea, towards the east. We must, however, entirely reject the allegories of Origin, and of others like him, which Satan, with the deepest subtlety, has endeavored to introduce into the Church, for the purpose of rendering the doctrine of Scripture ambiguous and destitute of all certainty and firmness. It may be, indeed, that some, impelled by a supposed necessity, have resorted to an allegorical sense, because they never found in the world such a place as is described by Moses: but we see that the greater part, through a foolish affectation of subtleties, have been too much addicted to allegories. As it concerns the present passage, they speculate in vain, and to no purpose, by departing from the literal sense. For Moses has no other design than to teach man that he was formed by God, with this condition, that he should have dominion over the earth, from which he might gather fruit, and thus learn by daily experience that the world was subject unto him. What advantage is it to fly in the air, and to leave the earth, where God has given proof of his benevolence towards the human race? But some one may say, that to interpret this of celestial bliss is more skillful. I answer, since the eternal inheritance of man is in heaven, it is truly right that we should tend thither; yet must we fix our foot on earth long enough to enable us to consider the abode which God requires man to use for a time. For we are now conversant with that history which teaches us that Adam was, by Divine appointment, an inhabitant of the earth, in order that he might, in passing through his earthly life, meditate on heavenly glory; and that he had been bountifully enriched by the Lord with innumerable benefits, from the enjoyment of which he might infer the paternal benevolence of God. Moses, also, will hereafter subjoin that he was commanded to cultivate the fields and permitted to eat certain fruits: all which things neither suit the circle of the moon, nor the aerial regions. But although we have said, that the situation of Paradise lay between the rising of the sun and Judea, yet something more definite may be required respecting that region. They who contend that it was in the vicinity of Mesopotamia, rely on reasons not to be despised; because it is probable that the sons of Eden were contiguous to the river Tigris. But as the description of it by Moses will immediately follow, it is better to defer the consideration of it to that place. The ancient interpreter has fallen into a mistake in translating the proper name Eden by the word pleasure.121121     The Hebrew word עדן signifies pleasure, delight, loveliness. — Ed I do not indeed deny that the place was so called from its delights; but it is easy to infer that the name was imposed upon the place to distinguish it from others.

9 And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow The production here spoken of belongs to the third day of the creation. But Moses expressly declares the place to have been richly replenished with every kind of fruitful trees, that there might be a full and happy abundance of all things. This was purposely done by the Lord, to the end that the cupidity of man might have the less excuse if, instead of being contented with such remarkable affluence, sweetness, and variety, it should (as really happened) precipitate itself against the commandment of God. The Holy Spirit also designedly relates by Moses the greatness of Adam’s happiness, in order that his vile intemperance might the more clearly appear, which such superfluity was unable to restrain from breaking forth upon the forbidden fruit. And certainly it was shameful ingratitude, that he could not rest in a state so happy and desirable: truly, that was more than brutal lust which bounty so great was not able to satisfy. No corner of the earth was then barren, nor was there even any which was not exceedingly rich and fertile: but that benediction of God, which was elsewhere comparatively moderate, had in this place poured itself wonderfully forth. For not only was there an abundant supply of food, but with it was added sweetness for the gratification of the palate, and beauty to feast the eyes. Therefore, from such benignant indulgence, it is more than sufficiently evident, how inexplicable had been the cupidity of man.

The tree of life also It is uncertain whether he means only two individual trees, or two kinds of trees. Either opinion is probable, but the point is by no means worthy of contention; since it is of little or no concern to us, which of the two is maintained. There is more importance in the epithets, which were applied to each tree from its effect, and that not by the will of man but of God.122122     The above passage is wholly omitted in the Old English translation by Tymme. — Ed. He gave the tree of life its name, not because it could confer on man that life with which he had been previously endued, but in order that it might be a symbol and memorial of the life which he had received from God. For we know it to be by no means unusual that God should give to us the attestation of his grace by external symbols.123123     “Scimus minime esse insolens ut virtutem suam Deus externis symbolis testatam nobis reddat.” — “Nous savons que ce n’est point chose nouvelle, que Dieu nous testifie sa vertu par signes exterieurs.” — French Trans. Virtus in Latin, and vertu in French, may both signify power, virtue, efficacy; but it seems that the term grace more correctly conveys to an English ear the meaning of the Author. — Ed.
   On the sacramental character of the tree of life, which Calvin here maintains, but which Dr. Kennicott, in his first Dissertation, endeavors, with more learning than sound judgment, to set aside, the generality of commentators seem to be agreed. See Patrick, Scott, etc. Patrick says, — “This garden being a type of heaven, perhaps God intended by this tree to represent that immortal life which he meant to bestow upon man with himself, (Revelation 22:2). And so St. Austin, in that famous saying of his, ‘Erat ei in caeteris lignis Alimentum, in isto autem Sacrcramentum.’ In other trees there was nourishment for man; but in this also a sacrament. For it was both a symbol of that life which God had already bestowed upon man, and of that life which he was to hope for in another world, if he proved obedient.” — Ed.
He does not indeed transfer his power into outward signs; but by them he stretches out his hand to us, because, without assistance, we cannot ascend to him. He intended, therefore, that man, as often as he tasted the fruit of that tree, should remember whence he received his life, in order that he might acknowledge that he lives not by his own power, but by the kindness of God alone; and that life is not (as they commonly speak) an intrinsic good, but proceeds from God. Finally, in that tree there was a visible testimony to the declaration, that ‘in God we are, and live, and move.’ But if Adams hitherto innocent, and of an upright nature, had need of monitory signs to lead him to the knowledge of divine grace, how much more necessary are signs now, in this great imbecility of our nature, since we have fallen from the true light? Yet I am not dissatisfied with what has been handed down by some of the fathers, as Augustine and Eucherius, that the tree of life was a figure of Christ, inasmuch as he is the Eternal Word of God: it could not indeed be otherwise a symbol of life, than by representing him in figure. For we must maintain what is declared in the first chapter of John (John 1:1-3,) that the life of all things was included in the Word, but especially the life of men, which is conjoined with reason and intelligence. Wherefore, by this sign, Adam was admonished, that he could claim nothing for himself as if it were his own, in order that he might depend wholly upon the Son of God, and might not seek life anywhere but in him. But if he, at the time when he possessed life in safety, had it only as deposited in the word of God, and could not otherwise retain it, than by acknowledging that it was received from Him, whence may we recover it, after it has been lost? Let us know, therefore, that when we have departed from Christ, nothing remains for us but death.

I know that certain writers restrict the meaning of the expression here used to corporeal life. They suppose such a power of quickening the body to have been in the tree, that it should never languish through age; but I say, they omit what is the chief thing in life, namely, the grace of intelligence; for we must always consider for what end man was formed, and what rule of living was prescribed to him. Certainly, for him to live, was not simply to have a body fresh and lively, but also to excel in the endowments of the soul.

Concerning the tree of knowledge of good and evil, we must hold, that it was prohibited to man, not because God would have him to stray like a sheep, without judgment and without choice; but that he might not seek to be wiser than became him, nor by trusting to his own understanding, cast off the yoke of God, and constitute himself an arbiter and judge of good and evil. His sin proceeded from an evil conscience; whence it follows, that a judgment had been given him, by which he might discriminate between virtues and vices. Nor could what Moses relates be otherwise true, namely, that he was created in the image of God; since the image of God comprises in itself the knowledge of him who is the chief good. Thoroughly insane, therefore, and monsters of men are the libertines, who pretend that we are restored to a state of innocence, when each is carried away by his own lust without judgment. We now understand what is meant by abstaining from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; namely, that Adam might not, in attempting one thing or another, rely upon his own prudence; but that, cleaving to God alone, he might become wise only by his obedience. Knowledge is here, therefore, taken disparagingly, in a bad sense, for that wretched experience which man, when he departed from the only fountain of perfect wisdom, began to acquire for himself. And this is the origin of freewill, that Adam wished to be independent,124124     “Dum Adam per se esse voluit, et quid valeret tentare ausus est.” — Lat. and dared to try what he was able to do.

10. And a river went out Moses says that one river flowed to water the garden, which afterwards would divide itself into four heads. It is sufficiently agreed among all, that two of these heads are the Euphrates and the Tigris; for no one disputes that הידקל(Hiddekel) is the Tigris. But there is a great controversy respecting the other two. Many think, that Pison and Gihon are the Ganges and the Nile; the error, however, of these men is abundantly refuted by the distance of the positions of these rivers. Persons are not wanting who fly across even to the Danube; as if indeed the habitation of one man stretched itself from the most remote part of Asia to the extremity of Europe. But since many other celebrated rivers flow by the region of which we are speaking, there is greater probability in the opinion of those who believe that two of these rivers are pointed out, although their names are now obsolete. Be this as it may, the difficulty is not yet solved. For Moses divides the one river which flowed by the garden into four heads. Yet it appears, that the fountains of the Euphrates and the Tigris were far distant from each other. From this difficulty, some would free themselves by saying, that the surface of the globe may have been changed by the deluge; and, therefore, they imagine it might have happened that the courses of the rivers were disturbed and changed, and their springs transferred elsewhere; a solution which appears to me by no means to be accepted. For although I acknowledge that the earth, from the time that it was accursed, became reduced from its native beauty to a state of wretched defilement, and to a garb of mourning, and afterwards was further laid waste in many places by the deluge; still, I assert, it was the same earth which had been created in the beginning. Add to this, that Moses (in my judgment) accommodated his topography to the capacity of his age. Yet nothing is accomplished, unless we find that place where the Tigris and Euphrates proceed from one river. Observe, first, that no mention is made of a spring or fountain, but only that it is said, there was one river. But the four heads I understand to mean, both the beginnings from which the rivers are produced, and the mouths125125     It appears that by the beginnings (principia) and the mouths (ostia) of the rivers, Calvin simply means the streams above, and the streams below, the site of the garden. — Ed. by which they discharge themselves into the sea. Now the Euphrates was formerly so joined by confluence with the Tigris, that it might justly be said, one river was divided into four heads; especially if what is manifest to all be conceded, that Moses does not speak acutely, nor in a philosophical manner, but popularly, so that every one least informed may understand him. Thus, in the first chapter, he called the sun and moon two great luminaries; not because the moon exceeded other planets in magnitude, but because, to common observation, it seemed greater. Add further, that he seems to remove all doubt when he says, that the river had four heads, because it was divided from that place. What does this mean, except that the channels were divided, out of one confluent stream, either above or below Paradise? I will now submit a plan to view, that the readers may understand where I think Paradise was placed by Moses.126126     This is a facsimile from the Old English translation; and the same, with Latin and French names, are introduced in the early editions of each language. — Ed.


Pliny indeed relates, in his Sixth Book, that the Euphrates was so stopped in its course by the Orcheni, that it could not flow into the sea, except through the Tigris.127127     “The Orcheni inhabiting a city name Orchoe, caused the diminution of the Euphrates, by derving it through their lands, which could not otherwise be watered.” — D’Anville’s Ancient Geography. And Pomponius Mela, in his Third Book, denies that it flowed by any given outlet, as other rivers, but says that it failed in its course. Nearchus, however, (whom Alexander had made commander of his fleet, and who, under his sanction, had navigated all these regions,) reckons the distance from the mouth of the Euphrates to Babylon, three thousand three hundred stadia.128128     About 420 miles. But he places the mouths of the Tigris at the entrance of Susiana; in which region, returning from that long and memorable voyage, he met the king with his fleet, as Adrian relates in his Eighth Book of the Exploits of Alexander. This statement Strabo also confirms by his testimony in his Fifteenth Book. Nevertheless, wherever the Euphrates either submerges or mingles its stream, it is certain, that it and the Tigris, below the point of their confluence, are again divided. Adrian, however, in his Seventh Book, writes that not one channel only of the Euphrates runs into the Tigris, but also many rivers and ditches, because waters naturally descend from higher to lower ground. With respect to the confluence, which I have noted in the plate, the opinion of some was, that it had been effected be the labor of the Praefect Cobaris, lest the Euphrates, by its precipitate course, should injure Babylon. But he speaks of it as of a doubtful matter. It is more credible, that men, by art and industry, followed the guidance of Nature in forming ditches, when they saw the Euphrates any where flowing of its own accord from the higher ground into the Tigris. Moreover, if confidence is placed in Pomponius Mela, Semiramis conducted the Tigris and Euphrates into Mesopotamia, which was previously dry; a thing by no means credible. There is more truth in the statement of Strabo, — a diligent and attentive writer, — in his Eleventh Book, that at Babylon these two rivers unite: and then, that each is carried separately, in its own bed, into the Red Sea.129129     Mare Rubrum. By the Red Sea, in this place, is not meant the Gulf of Suez, which is called by that name in sacred history, and over which the Israelites passed in their journey from Egypt to Canaan; but the Indian Ocean, the Mare Erythraeum of the ancients, into which the Tigris and Euphrates flowed, through the Persian Gulf. — Ed. He understands that junction to have taken place above Babylon, not far from the town Massica, as we read in the Fifth Book of Pliny. Thence one river flows through Babylon, the other glides by Seleucia, two of the most celebrated and opulent cities. If we admit this confluence, by which the Euphrates was mixed with the Tigris, to have been natural, and to have existed from the beginning, all absurdity is removed. If there is anywhere under heaven a region preeminent in beauty, in the abundance of all kinds of fruit, in fertility, in delicacies, and in other gifts, that is the region which writers most celebrate. Wherefore, the eulogies with which Moses commends Paradise are such as properly belong to a tract of this description. And that the region of Eden was situated in those parts is probable from Isaiah 37:12 Ezekiel 27:23. Moreover, when Moses declares that a river went forth, I understand him as speaking of the flowing of the stream; as if he had said, that Adam dwelt on the bank of the river, or in that land which was watered on both sides if you choose to take Paradise for both banks of the river. However, it makes no great difference whether Adam dwelt below the confluent stream towards Babylon and Seleucia, or in the higher part; it is enough that he occupied a well-watered country. How the river was divided into four heads is not difficult to understand. For there are two rivers which flow together into one, and then separate in different directions; thus, it is one at the point of confluence, but there are two heads130130     Or “principal streams.” “The river, or single channel, must be looked upon as a highway, crossing over a forest, and which may be said from thence to divide itself into four ways, whether the division be made above or below the forest.” — Well’s Geography of the Old and New Test., vol. 1, p. 19.
   The reader is referred to the first chapter of that useful work, for an account agreeing in many points with Calvin, though differing from it in others. The principal difference in the two accounts lies in this, that Wells places the site of Paradise near the Persian Gulf into which the Tigris and Euphrates discharge themselves, while Calvin fixes it higher up the streams, in the vicinity of ancient Babylon. Wells derives his account mainly from the celebrated French Bishop, Peter Daniel Huet, who had been the intimate friend of the famous Protestant traveler Bochart. The following extract from a note in the Clavis Pentateuchi of Robertson is added for the reader’s satisfaction: — “Eden est regio sen in Mesopotamio, sen non procul inde. Observandum est hancce sententiam Calvini, quam parum emendaverat clarissimus Huetis, verissimam omnium videri: Hoc demonstravit calrissimus Vitringa, qui paululum in quibusdam circumstantis etiam Huetium emendaverat.” — “Eden is a region either in Mesopotamia, or near it. It is to be observed, that this opinion of Calvin, which the celebrated Huet has slightly amended, seems to be the most true of all. The celebrated Vitringa has demonstrated this; who also, in some circumstances, has slightly amended Huet.” — Robertson’s Clavis, p. 177. — Ed.
in its upper channels, and two towards the sea; afterwards, they again begin to be more widely separated.

The question remains concerning the names Pison and Gihon. For it does not seem consonant with reason, to assign a double name to each of the rivers. But it is nothing new for rivers to change their names in their course, especially where there is any special mark of distinction. The Tigris itself (by the authority of Pliny) is called Diglito near its source; but after it has formed many channels, and again coalesces, it takes the name of Pasitigris. There is, therefore, no absurdity in saying, that after its confluence it had different names. Further there is some such affinity between Pasin and Pison, as to render it not improbable, that the name Pasitigris is a vestige of the ancient appellation. In the Fifth Book of Quintus Curtius, concerning the Exploits of Alexander, where mention is made of Pasitigris, some copies read, that it was called by the inhabitants Pasin. Nor do the other circumstances, by which Moses describes three of these rivers, in accord with this supposition. Pison surrounds131131     Circuit. It is observed, that the word surrounds, or “compasses,” conveys, to an English reader, more than is meant by the sacred writer. He only intends to say, that the river sweeps round in that direction, so as to embrace, by its winding, a part of the region of Havila. Flexuoso cursu alluit. — Johannes Clericus in loco. — Ed. the land of Havila, where gold is produced. Surrounding is rightly attributed to the Tigris, on account of its winding course below Mesopotamia. The land of Havila, in my judgment, is here taken for a region adjoining Persia. For subsequently, in the twenty-fifth chapter (Genesis 25:1,) Moses relates, that the Ishmaelites dwelt from Havila unto Shur, which is contiguous to Egypt, and through which the road lies into Assyria. Havila, as one boundary, is opposed to Shur as another, and this boundary Moses places near Egypt, on the side which lies towards Assyria. Whence it follows, that Havila (the other boundary) extends towards Susia and Persia. For it is necessary that it should lie below Assyria towards the Persian Sea; besides, it is placed at a great distance from Egypt; because Moses enumerates many nations which dwelt between these boundaries.132132     That is, the nations peopled by the twelve sons of Ishmael. See Genesis 25:13-16. — Ed. Then it appears that the Nabathaeans,133133     The descendants of Nebajoth, the eldest son of Ishmael. Yet, as they inhabited the western side of the great desert of Arabia, which lay between them and the Euphrates, they cannot, with much propriety, be called neighbors to the Persians. — Ed. of whom mention is there made, were neighbors to the Persian. Every thing which Moses asserts respecting gold and precious stones is most applicable to this district.134134     “There is bdellium and the onyx-stone.” It is a question among the learned, whether bdellium is an aromatic gum of great value, or a pearl. Dathe, however, renders this word “crystal,” and the next, “emerald.” — Ed.

The river Gihon still remains to be noticed, which, as Moses declares, waters the land of Chus. All interpreters translate this word Ethiopia; but the country of the Midianites, and the conterminous country of Arabia, are included under the same name by Moses; for which reason, his wife is elsewhere called an Ethiopian woman. Moreover, since the lower course of the Euphrates tends toward that region, I do not see why it should be deemed absurd, that it there receives the name of Gihon. And thus the simple meaning of Moses is, that the garden of which Adam was the possessor was well watered, the channel of a river passing that way, which was afterwards divided into four heads.135135     It would be wrong to omit all mention of the work of Adrian Reland on this subject; who devoted to it the most profound learning and diligent investigation. An abstract of his description is given in Dr. Adam Clarke’s Commentary. He places Eden in Armenia, near the sources of the Euphrates and Tigris, which flow into the Persian Gulf, the Phasis (Pison,) which empties itself into the Euxine, where Chabala, corresponding with Havila, is famous for its gold; and the Araxes, (Gihon,) which runs into the Caspian. The objection to this locality is, that these rivers do not actually meet together; so that they cannot be said to divide into four heads, or principal streams in Eden. The learned reader may see Dathe’s Commentary on the Pentateuch, p. 23, note (k.) — Ed.

15. And the Lord God took the man Moses now adds, that the earth was given to man, with this condition, that he should occupy himself in its cultivation. Whence it follows that men were created to employ themselves in some work, and not to lie down in inactivity and idleness. This labor, truly, was pleasant, and full of delight, entirely exempt from all trouble and weariness; since however God ordained that man should be exercised in the culture of the ground, he condemned in his person, all indolent repose. Wherefore, nothing is more contrary to the order of nature, than to consume life in eating, drinking, and sleeping, while in the meantime we propose nothing to ourselves to do. Moses adds, that the custody of the garden was given in charge to Adam, to show that we possess the things which God has committed to our hands, on the condition, that being content with a frugal and moderate use of them, we should take care of what shall remain. Let him who possesses a field, so partake of its yearly fruits, that he may not suffer the ground to be injured by his negligence; but let him endeavor to hand it down to posterity as he received it, or even better cultivated. Let him so feed on its fruits that he neither dissipates it by luxury, nor permits to be marred or ruined by neglect. Moreover, that this economy, and this diligence, with respect to those good things which God has given us to enjoy, may flourish among us; let every one regard himself as the steward of God in all things which he possesses. Then he will neither conduct himself dissolutely, nor corrupt by abuse those things which God requires to be preserved.

16. And the Lord God commanded Moses now teaches, that man was the governor of the world, with this exception, that he should, nevertheless, be subject to God. A law is imposed upon him in token of his subjection; for it would have made no difference to God, if he had eaten indiscriminately of any fruit he pleased. Therefore the prohibition of one tree was a test of obedience. And in this mode, God designed that the whole human race should be accustomed from the beginning to reverence his Deity; as, doubtless, it was necessary that man, adorned and enriched with so many excellent gifts, should be held under restraint, lest he should break forth into licentiousness. There was, indeed, another special reason, to which we have before alluded, lest Adam should desire to be wise above measure; but this is to be kept in mind as God’s general design, that he would have men subject to his authority. Therefore, abstinence from the fruit of one tree was a kind of first lesson in obedience, that man might know he had a Director and Lord of his life, on whose will he ought to depend, and in whose commands he ought to acquiesce. And this, truly, is the only rule of living well and rationally, that men should exercise themselves in obeying God. It seems, however, to some as if this did not accord with the judgment of Paul, when he teaches, that the law was not made for the righteous, (1 Timothy 1:9.) For if it be so, then, when Adam was yet innocent and upright, he had no need of a law. But the solution is ready. For Paul is not there writing controversially; but from the common practice of life, he declares, that they who freely run, do not require to be compelled by the necessity of law; as it is said, in the common proverb, that ‘Good laws spring from bad manners.’ In the meantime, he does not deny that God, from the beginning, imposed a law upon man, for the purpose of maintaining the right due to himself. Should any one bring, as an objection, another statement of Paul, where he asserts that the “law is the minister of death,” (2 Corinthians 3:7,) I answer, it is so accidentally, and from the corruption of our nature. But at the time of which we speak, a precept was given to man, whence he might know that God ruled over him. These minute things, however I lightly pass over. What I have before said, since it is of far greater moment, is to be frequently recalled to memory, namely, that our life will then be rightly ordered, if we obey God, and if his will be the regulator of all our affections.

Of every tree To the end that Adam might the more willingly comply, God commends his own liberality. ‘Behold,’ he says, ‘I deliver into thy hand whatever fruits the earth may produce, whatever fruits every kind of tree may yield: from this immense profusion and variety I except only one tree.’ Then, by denouncing punishment, he strikes terror, for the purpose of confirming the authority of the law. So much the greater, then, is the wickedness of man, whom neither that kind commemoration of the gifts of God, nor the dread of punishment, was able to retain in his duty.

But it is asked, what kind of death God means in this place? It appears to me, that the definition of this death is to be sought from its opposite; we must, I say, remember from what kind of life man fell. He was, in every respect, happy; his life, therefore, had alike respect to his body and his soul, since in his soul a right judgment and a proper government of the affections prevailed, there also life reigned; in his body there was no defect, wherefore he was wholly free from death. His earthly life truly would have been temporal; yet he would have passed into heaven without death, and without injury. Death, therefore, is now a terror to us; first, because there is a kind of annihilation, as it respects the body; then, because the soul feels the curse of God. We must also see what is the cause of death, namely alienation from God. Thence it follows, that under the name of death is comprehended all those miseries in which Adam involved himself by his defection; for as soon as he revolted from God, the fountain of life, he was cast down from his former state, in order that he might perceive the life of man without God to be wretched and lost, and therefore differing nothing from death. Hence the condition of man after his sin is not improperly called both the privation of life, and death. The miseries and evils both of soul and body, with which man is beset so long as he is on earth, are a kind of entrance into death, till death itself entirely absorbs him; for the Scripture everywhere calls those dead who, being oppressed by the tyranny of sin and Satan, breath nothing but their own destruction. Wherefore the question is superfluous, how it was that God threatened death to Adam on the day in which he should touch the fruit, when he long deferred the punishment? For then was Adam consigned to death, and death began its reign in him, until supervening grace should bring a remedy.

18. It is not good that the man should be alone136136     “Non est bonum ut sit Adam solus.” This is a variation from Calvin’s text, which has man instead of Adam; as the English version has. The word אדם stands for both. As a proper name, it means Adam; as an appellation, it belongs to the human species; as an adjective, it means red; and, with a slight alteration, it signifies the ground. — Ed Moses now explains the design of God in creating the woman; namely, that there should be human beings on the earth who might cultivate mutual society between themselves. Yet a doubt may arise whether this design ought to be extended to progeny, for the words simply mean that since it was not expedient for man to be alone, a wife must be created, who might be his helper. I, however, take the meaning to be this, that God begins, indeed, at the first step of human society, yet designs to include others, each in its proper place. The commencement, therefore, involves a general principle, that man was formed to be a social animal.137137     “Principium ergo generale est, conditum esse hominem ut sit sociale animal.” Now, the human race could not exist without the woman; and, therefore, in the conjunction of human beings, that sacred bond is especially conspicuous, by which the husband and the wife are combined in one body, and one soul; as nature itself taught Plato, and others of the sounder class of philosophers, to speak. But although God pronounced, concerning Adam, that it would not be profitable for him to be alone, yet I do not restrict the declaration to his person alone, but rather regard it as a common law of man’s vocation, so that every one ought to receive it as said to himself, that solitude is not good, excepting only him whom God exempts as by a special privilege. Many think that celibacy conduces to their advantage,138138     “Putant multi suisrationibus conducere coelibatum.” — “Plusieurs estiment que le celibat — leur est plus profitable.” — French Tr. and therefore, abstain from marriage, lest they should be miserable. Not only have heathen writers defined that to be a happy life which is passed without a wife, but the first book of Jerome, against Jovinian, is stuffed with petulant reproaches, by which he attempts to render hallowed wedlock both hateful and infamous. To these wicked suggestions of Satan let the faithful learn to oppose this declaration of God, by which he ordains the conjugal life for man, not to his destruction, but to his salvation.

I will make him an help It may be inquired, why this is not said in the plural number, Let us make, as before in the creation of man. Some suppose that a distinction between the two sexes is in this manner marked, and that it is thus shown how much the man excels the woman. But I am better satisfied with an interpretation which, though not altogether contrary, is yet different; namely, since in the person of the man the human race had been created, the common dignity of our whole nature was without distinction, honored with one eulogy, when it was said, Let us make man; nor was it necessary to be repeated in creating the woman, who was nothing else than an accession to the man. Certainly, it cannot be denied, that the woman also, though in the second degree, was created in the image of God; whence it follows, that what was said in the creation of the man belongs to the female sex. Now, since God assigns the woman as a help to the man, he not only prescribes to wives the rule of their vocation to instruct them in their duty, but he also pronounces that marriage will really prove to men the best support of life. We may therefore conclude, that the order of nature implies that the woman should be the helper of the man. The vulgar proverb, indeed, is, that she is a necessary evil; but the voice of God is rather to be heard, which declares that woman is given as a companion and an associate to the man, to assist him to live well. I confess, indeed, that in this corrupt state of mankind, the blessing of God, which is here described, is neither perceived nor flourishes; but the cause of the evil must be considered, namely, that the order of nature, which God had appointed, has been inverted by us. For if the integrity of man had remained to this day such as it was from the beginning, that divine institution would be clearly discerned, and the sweetest harmony would reign in marriage; because the husband would look up with reverence to God; the woman in this would be a faithful assistant to him; and both, with one consent, would cultivate a holy, as well as friendly and peaceful intercourse. Now, it has happened by our fault, and by the corruption of nature, that this happiness of marriage has, in a great measure, perished, or, at least, is mixed and infected with many inconveniences. Hence arise strifes, troubles, sorrows, dissensions, and a boundless sea of evils; and hence it follows, that men are often disturbed by their wives, and suffer through them many discouragements. Still, marriage was not capable of being so far vitiated by the depravity of men, that the blessing which God has once sanctioned by his word should be utterly abolished and extinguished. Therefore, amidst many inconveniences of marriage, which are the fruits of degenerate nature, some residue of divine good remains; as in the fire apparently smothered, some sparks still glitter. On this main point hangs another, that women, being instructed in their duty of helping their husbands, should study to keep this divinely appointed order. It is also the part of men to consider what they owe in return to the other half of their kind, for the obligation of both sexes is mutual, and on this condition is the woman assigned as a help to the man, that he may fill the place of her head and leader. One thing more is to be noted, that, when the woman is here called the help of the man, no allusion is made to that necessity to which we are reduced since the fall of Adam; for the woman was ordained to be the man’s helper, even although he had stood in his integrity. But now, since the depravity of appetite also requires a remedy, we have from God a double benefit: but the latter is accidental.

Meet for him139139     “Coram ipso,” before him. — “Pour luy assister,” to help him. — French Tr. In the Hebrew it is כנגדו (kenegedo,) “as if opposite to,” or “over against him.” כ (Caph) in that language is a note of similitude. But although some of the Rabbies think it is here put as an affirmative, yet I take it in its general sense, as though it were said that she is a kind of counterpart, (ἀντίστοικον, or ἀντίστροφον;140140     Quod “ex adverso ei” respondet. Lud. de Dieu. His counterpart. ) for the woman is said to be opposite to or over against the man, because she responds to him. But the particle of similitude seems to me to be added because it is a form of speech taken from common usage.141141     “Quia sit translatitia loquutio.” The Greek translators have faithfully rendered the sense, Κατ᾿’ αὐτόν;142142     A help according to him. See Septuagint. and Jerome, “Which may be like him,”143143     “Adjutorium simile sibi,” a help like himself. — Vulgate. Meet for him. “In whose company he shall take delight; so the Hebrew phrase, as before him, imports, being as much answerable to him, every way fitted for him, not only in likeness of body, but of mind, disposition, and affection, which laid the foundation of perpetual familiarity and friendship.” — Patrick. for Moses intended to note some equality. And hence is refitted the error of some, who think that the woman was formed only for the sake of propagation, and who restrict the word “good,” which had been lately mentioned, to the production of offspring. They do not think that a wife was personally necessary for Adam, because he was hitherto free from lust; as if she had been given to him only for the companion of his chamber, and not rather that she might be the inseparable associate of his life. Wherefore the particle כ (caph) is of importance, as intimating that marriage extends to all parts and usages of life. The explanation given by others, as if it were said, Let her be ready to obedience, is cold; for Moses intended to express more, as is manifest from what follows.

19. And out of the ground the Lord God formed, etc144144     “Formaverat autem Deus,” — “God had formed,” plainly referring to what had already taken place. The Hebrew language has not the same distinction of times in its verbs which is common to more modern tongues.” — Ed. This is a more ample exposition of the preceding sentence, for he says that, of all the animals, when they had been placed in order, not one was found which might be conferred upon and adapted to Adam; nor was there such affinity of nature, that Adam could choose for himself a companion for life out of any one species. Nor did this occur through ignorance, for each species had passed in review before Adam, and he had imposed names upon them, not rashly but from certain knowledge; yet there was no just proportion between him and them. Therefore, unless a wife had been given him of the same kind with himself, he would have remained destitute of a suitable and proper help. Moreover, what is here said of God’s bringing the animals to Adam145145     “Porro istud adducere Dei.” signifies nothing else than that he endued them with the disposition to obedience, so that they would voluntarily offer themselves to the man, in order that he, having closely inspected them, might distinguish them by appropriate names, agreeing with the nature of each. This gentleness towards man would have remained also in wild beasts, if Adam, by his defection from God, had not lost the authority he had before received. But now, from the time in which he began to be rebellious against God, he experienced the ferocity of brute animals against himself; for some are tamed with difficulty, others always remain unsubdued, and some, even of their own accord, inspire us with terror by their fierceness. Yet some remains of their former subjection continue to the present time, as we shall see in the second verse of the ninth chapter (Genesis 9:2.) Besides, it is to be remarked that Moses speaks only of those animals which approach the nearest to man, for the fishes live as in another world. As to the names which Adam imposed, I do not doubt that each of them was founded on the best reason; but their use, with many other good things, has become obsolete.

21. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall, etc. Although to profane persons this method of forming woman may seem ridiculous, and some of these may say that Moses is dealing in fables, yet to us the wonderful providence of God here shines forth; for, to the end that the conjunction of the human race might be the more sacred he purposed that both males and females should spring from one and the same origin. Therefore he created human nature in the person of Adam, and thence formed Eve, that the woman should be only a portion of the whole human race. This is the import of the words of Moses which we have had before, (Genesis 1:28,) “God created man... he made them male and female.” In this manner Adam was taught to recognize himself in his wife, as in a mirror; and Eve, in her turn, to submit herself willingly to her husband, as being taken out of him. But if the two sexes had proceeded from different sources, there would have been occasion either of mutual contempt, or envy, or contentions. And against what do perverse men here object? ‘The narration does not seem credible, since it is at variance with custom.’ As if, indeed, such an objection would have more color than one raised against the usual mode of the production of mankind, if the latter were not known by use and experience.146146     “Ex putrido semine quotidie gigni homines.” But they object that either the rib which was taken from Adam had been superfluous, or that his body had been mutilated by the absence of the rib. To either of these it may be answered, that they find out a great absurdity. If, however, we should say that the rib out of which he would form another body had been prepared previously by the Creator of the world, I find nothing in this answer which is not in accordance with Divine Providence. Yet I am more in favor of a different conjecture, namely, that something was taken from Adam, in order that he might embrace, with greater benevolence, a part of himself. He lost, therefore, one of his ribs; but, instead of it, a far richer reward was granted him, since he obtained a faithful associate of life; for he now saw himself, who had before been imperfect, rendered complete in his wife.147147     “Quum se integrum vidit in uxore, qui prius tantum dimidius erat.” And in this we see a true resemblance of our union with the Son of God; for he became weak that he might have members of his body endued with strength. In the meantime, it is to be noted, that Adam had been plunged in a sleep so profound, that he felt no pain; and further, that neither had the rupture been violent, nor was any want perceived of the lost rib, because God so filled up the vacuity with flesh, that his strength remained unimpaired; only the hardness of bone was removed. Moses also designedly used the word built,148148     “Et aedificavit Jehova Deus costam quam tulerat ex Adam, in mulierem.” — And Jehovah God built the rib which he had taken out of Adam into a woman. ויבן, from בנה, to build. to teach us that in the person of the woman the human race was at length complete, which had before been like a building just begun. Others refer the expression to the domestic economy, as if Moses would say that legitimate family order was then instituted, which does not differ widely from the former exposition.

22. And brought her, etc Moses now relates that marriage was divinely instituted, which is especially useful to be known; for since Adam did not take a wife to himself at his own will, but received her as offered and appropriated to him by God, the sanctity of marriage hence more clearly appears, because we recognize God as its Author. The more Satan has endeavored to dishonor marriage, the more should we vindicate it from all reproach and abuse, that it may receive its due reverence. Thence it will follow that the children of God may embrace a conjugal life with a good and tranquil conscience, and husbands and wives may live together in chastity and honor. The artifice of Satan in attempting the defamation of marriage was twofold: first, that by means of the odium attached to it he might introduce the pestilential law of celibacy; and, secondly, that married persons might indulge themselves in whatever license they pleased. Therefore, by showing the dignity of marriage, we must remove superstition, lest it should in the slightest degree hinder the faithful from chastely using the lawful and pure ordinance of God; and further, we must oppose the lasciviousness of the flesh, in order that men may live modestly with their wives. But if no other reason influenced us, yet this alone ought to be abundantly sufficient, that unless we think and speak honorably of marriage, reproach is attached to its Author and Patron, for such God is here described as being by Moses.

23. And Adam said, etc It is demanded whence Adam derived this knowledge since he was at that time buried in deep sleep. If we say that his quickness of perception was then such as to enable him by conjecture to form a judgment, the solution would be weak. But we ought not to doubt that God would make the whole course of the affair manifest to him, either by secret revelation or by his word; for it was not from any necessity on God’s part that He borrowed from man the rib out of which he might form the woman; but he designed that they should be more closely joined together by this bonds which could not have been effected unless he had informed them of the fact. Moses does not indeed explain by what means God gave them this information; yet unless we would make the work of God superfluous, we must conclude that its Author revealed both the fact itself and the method and design of its accomplishment. The deep sleep was sent upon Adam, not to hide from him the origin of his wife, but to exempt him from pain and trouble, until he should receive a compensation so excellent for the loss of his rib.

This is now bone of, etc149149     “Hac vice os est ex ossibus meis.” זאת הפעם, (zot haphaam.) These words are rendered in the English version by “This now,” which very feebly and imperfectly expresses the sense of the original; nor does the version of Calvin, “At this turn,” give the true emphasis of the words. It is perhaps scarcely possible to do so without a paraphrase. The two words of the original are both intended to be emphatic. “This living creature (זאת) which at the present time (הפעם, hac vice) passes before me, is the companion which I need, for it is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” — Vide Dathe in loco. — Ed In using the expression הפעם (hac vice,) Adam indicates that something had been wanting to him; as if he had said, Now at length I have obtained a suitable companion, who is part of the substance of my flesh, and in whom I behold, as it were, another self. And he gives to his wife a name taken from that of man, 150150     “Nomen uxori a viro imponit.” אשה, (ishah,) from איש, (ish,) which is the Hebrew word man with a feminine termination; as if we should say, “She shall be called manness, because she was taken out of the man.” Calvin uses the word virissa; Dathe, after Le Clerc, the word vira; and though neither of them are strictly classical, yet are they far preferable to the term virago in the Vulgate, which Calvin justly rejects, and which means a woman of masculine character. The English word woman is a contraction of womb-man. — Ed that by this testimony and this mark he might transmit a perpetual memorial of the wisdom of God. A deficiency in the Latin language has compelled the ancient interpreter to render אשה (ishah,) by the word virago. It is, however, to be remarked, that the Hebrew term means nothing else than the female of the man.

24. Therefore shall a man leave It is doubted whether Moses here introduces God as speaking, or continues the discourse of Adam, or, indeed, has added this, in virtue of his office as teacher, in his own person.151151     See Le Clerc on this verse, who takes the same view as Calvin. The last of these is that which I most approve. Therefore, after he has related historically what God had done, he also demonstrates the end of the divine institution. The sum of the whole is, that among the offices pertaining to human society, this is the principal, and as it were the most sacred, that a man should cleave unto his wife. And he amplifies this by a superadded comparison, that the husband ought to prefer his wife to his father. But the father is said to be left not because marriage severs sons from their fathers, or dispenses with other ties of nature, for in this way God would be acting contrary to himself. While, however, the piety of the son towards his father is to be most assiduously cultivated and ought in itself to be deemed inviolable and sacred, yet Moses so speaks of marriage as to show that it is less lawful to desert a wife than parents. Therefore, they who, for slight causes, rashly allow of divorces, violate, in one single particular, all the laws of nature, and reduce them to nothing. If we should make it a point of conscience not to separate a father from his son, it is a still greater wickedness to dissolve the bond which God has preferred to all others.

They shall be one flesh152152     “Erunt in carnem unam.” — “In carne una.” — Vulgate. Εἰς σάρκα μίαν. — Sept. Although the ancient Latin interpreter has translated the passage ‘in one flesh,’ yet the Greek interpreters have expressed it more forcibly: ‘They two shall be into one flesh,’ and thus Christ cites the place in Matthew 19:5. But though here no mention is made of two, yet there is no ambiguity in the sense; for Moses had not said that God has assigned many wives, but only one to one man; and in the general direction given, he had put the wife in the singular number. It remains, therefore, that the conjugal bond subsists between two persons only, whence it easily appears, that nothing is less accordant with the divine institution than polygamy. Now, when Christ, in censuring the voluntary divorces of the Jews, adduces as his reason for doing it, that ‘it was not so in the beginning,’ (Matthew 19:5,) he certainly commands this institution to be observed as a perpetual rule of conduct. To the same point also Malachi recalls the Jews of his own time:

‘Did he not make them one from the beginning? and yet the Spirit was abounding in him.’153153     Spiritus abundans in eo erat” The word abundans has in English the force of superabounding. — Ed (Malachi 2:15.)

Wherefore, there is no doubt that polygamy is a corruption of legitimate marriage.

25. They were both naked That the nakedness of men should be deemed indecorous and unsightly, while that of cattle has nothing disgraceful, seems little to agree with the dignity of human nature. We cannot behold a naked man without a sense of shame; yet at the sight of an ass, a dog, or an ox, no such feeling will be produced. Moreover, every one is ashamed of his own nakedness, even though other witnesses may not be present. Where then is that dignity in which we excel? The cause of this sense of shame, to which we are now alluding, Moses will show in the next chapter. He now esteems it enough to say, that in our uncorrupted nature, there was nothing but what was honorable; whence it follows, that whatsoever is opprobrious in us, must be imputed to our own fault, since our parents had nothing in themselves which was unbecoming until they were defiled with sin.




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