THE SIX DAYS|
WE must now return to the ruined earth, the condition of which we can only conjecture from what we are told of the six days of restoration. Violent convulsions must have taken place upon it, for it was inundated with the ocean waters : its sun had been extinguished : the stars were no longer seen above it : its clouds and atmosphere, having no attractive force to keep them in suspension, had descended in moisture upon its surface: there was not a living being to be found in the whole planet (Gen. ii. 5).
Now the withdrawal of the sun's influence had probably occasioned that glacial period the vestiges of which, as geologists tell us, are plainly distinguishable at the close of the Tertiary Age. And the same cause will also account for the mingling of the waters that were above the firmament with those that were below it. Both effects are well illustrated by the following extract from one of Herschel's " Familiar Lectures on Scientific Subjects " [P. 48].
" In three days from the extinction of the sun there would, in all probability, not be a vestige of animal or vegetable life on the globe ; unless it were among deep-sea fishes and the subterranean inhabitants of the great limestone caves. The first forty-eight hours would suffice to precipitate every atom of moisture from the air in deluges of rain and piles of snow, and from that moment would set in a universal frost such as Siberia or the highest peak of the Himalayas never felt - a temperature of between two and three hundred degrees below the zero of our thermometers. . . . No animal or vegetable could resist such a frost for an hour, any more than it could live for an hour in boiling water."
From this description we may form some idea of the ruin which befel the preadamite world. Of its main features there is a graphic portrayal in a grand passage of job, in which the folly of contending with God is enforced by an obvious reference to Satan's rebellion and its consequences.
Who hath, defied Him, and remained unhurt ?
Who displaceth mountains, and they know not
That He has overturned them in His wrath;
Who maketh the earth to tremble out of her place,
So that her pillars rock to and fro; ,
Who commandeth the sun, and it riseth not,
And sealeth up the stars."
The terrific convulsions by which the earth was shattered and destroyed are almost placed before our eyes in this sublime description; while the suddenness of the catastrophe is vividly presented by the poetic conception that the mountains were overturned before they were aware of it. The extinction of the sun is plainly indicated, and also the veiling of the stars, so that the thick darkness was relieved not even by their scanty lights (job ix. 4-7).
In the following verses (8-10) the patriarch alludes to the reconstruction of the Six Days.
And treadeth upon the heights of the sea;
Who maketh the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades,
And the chambers of the South;
Who doeth great things past finding out,
And marvellous things without number "
Here, since the spreading out of the heavens evidently refers to the work of the Second Day, it may be that " the heights of the sea " are the waters above the firmament. The mention of the constellations points to the reversal of God's previous action in sealing up the stars. In regard to the meaning of the Hebrew word asah-rendered " maketh "-see p. 29, and also the comment upon the work of the Fourth Day in this chapter.
How long the glacial period continued it is impossible even to conjecture ; but in the scene which the second verse of Genesis places before us we must suppose the ice to have broken up-perhaps through some development of the earth's internal heat,1 which in its convulsive struggles may also have displaced the bed of ocean. Thus the whole globe was covered with water, on the surface of which the Spirit of God was already brooding.
1. This conjecture may derive a little support from the following considerations.
The heat increases as we descend into the earth, and hence many scientific men have held that the interior of our globe is a reservoir of liquid fire. With this opinion the Scriptures are in accord: for, in Rev. ix. 2, when the well or shaft of the Abyss is opened, a smoke, like the smoke of a furnace, pours forth so copiously that the sun and air are darkened by it. Such a description inclines us also to prefer the translation Of 2 Peter iii. 7, which makes the Apostle speak of the earth as " stored with fire." And perhaps the context of the expression suggests that, just as God broke up the fountains of the great deep to cause the Deluge, so will He command His stored fires to burst through the crust of the earth for its future destruction. A heat will then be developed so intense as to fuse the very elements, or materials of which the crust is composed. Nor will this be a new thing : the condition of the non-fossiliferous strata seems to point to the occurrence of a similar catastrophe in former ages.
May we not then conceive some development of these internal fires, comparatively slight, but sufficient to melt the ice with which the earth was covered ? In some localities of volcanic Italy the soil is found to be quite warm ; and a short time ago the newspapers were giving accounts of a tract of land in Germany which had become so heated by subterranean fire that tropical plants were growing upon it.
Then, startling the deep silence, and pealing over the black floods of ruin, was heard the thunder of the voice of the Almighty, and the command went forth " Light be." Instantly it flashed from the womb of darkness, and illumined the rolling globe; but only to reveal an overspreading waste of waters.
This " light " of the First Day must be carefully distinguished from the " light-holders " of the Fourth, since the word used conveys in itself no idea of concentration or locality. Nevertheless the light must have been confined to one side of the planet, for we are told that God at once divided between the light and the darkness, and that the alternation of day and night immediately commenced.
In past times infidels have scoffed at the idea of light being called into existence independently of the sun. And certainly it does seem difficult to conceive that Moses could have anticipated science by so many centuries except upon the one supposition that he was instructed by the Spirit of God, Who is not circumscribed by the limits of human knowledge. But now science also has discovered that the sun is not the only source of light ; but that the earth itself, and at least one other planet in our system, may under certain conditions become self-luminous. . . .
We are next told that God called the light day and the darkness night, and that the evening and the morning were the First Day. Now in order to verify certain systems of interpretation attempts have been made to show that in this chapter a day must be understood to signify an age.
And doubtless the word " day " is sometimes used of prolonged periods, as in the expression " the day of temptation in the wilderness," and many others. But whenever a numeral is connected with it, the meaning is at once restricted thereby, and it can only be used in its literal acceptation of the time which the earth takes to make one revolution upon its axis. It is, therefore, clear that we must understand the Six Days to be six periods of twenty-four hours each.
[Moreover, the command in the Decalogue to give one day (Of 24 hours) to rest, and this the seventh day, is based upon the fact that God rested from His creating work on that day, which seems to imply that the period of His rest was of the same length as that during which His creatures are to rest.]
But still further; these days are mentioned as comprising an evening and a morning, as being made up of day and night. Here, then, is another warning against the figurative interpretation, which we must carefully avoid lest we expose ourselves to such attacks as the following :-
"It is evident that the bare theory that a day means an age or immense geological period might be made to yield some rather strange results. What becomes of the evening and morning of which each day is said to have consisted ? Was each geologic age divided into two long intervals, one all darkness, the other all light ? And if so, what became of the plants and trees created in the third day or period, when the evening of the fourth day-the evenings, be it observed, precede the mornings-set in ? They must have passed through half a seculum of total darkness, not even cheered by that dim light which the sun, not yet completely manifested, supplied on the morning of the third day. Such an ordeal would have completely destroyed the whole vegetable creation, and yet we find that it survived, and was appointed on the sixth day as the food of man and animals. In fact, we need only substitute the word period for day in the Mosaic narrative to make it very apparent that the writer at least had no such meaning, nor could he have conveyed any such meaning to those who first heard his account read---(Essays and Reviews, p. 240).
Now the justice of these remarks cannot be denied, and the lesson to be learnt from them is this: that, if believers would but keep to the plain statements of the Bible, there would be very little for infidels to cavil at ; but that as soon as they begin to form theories, and twist revelation into agreement with them, they expose themselves, and, still worse, the Scriptures, to ridicule.
On the next day a second command went forth, and in obedience to it a movement commenced among the waters. At the word of God the firmament, or atmosphere which we breathe, was formed: and by its insertion the waters which float above the earth were again raised to their own place, and separated from those which are upon the earth.
There is, however, in the account of this day's work an omission which, is probably significant : for the usual conclusion, " And God saw that it was good," is in this case left out. And since the reasons ordinarily given for the omission are unsatisfactory, we venture to suggest the following explanation. May not the withholding of God's approval be a hint of the immediate occupation of the firmament by demons, those, indeed, which are its present inhabitants ? Since they were concerned in the fall of man, they must have speedily appeared in the newly formed atmosphere. May they not, therefore, have been imprisoned in the deep, and having found some way of escape at the lifting up of the waters, have swarmed into the dominion of the air, of which their leader is Prince ? In this case the firmament might have been teeming with them before the close of the Second Day, and we need not wonder that God refused to pronounce their kingdom good.
In twenty-four hours the firmament was completed, and then the voice of the Lord was again heard, and in quick response the whole planet resounded with the roar of rushing floods as they hastened from the dry land into the receptacles prepared for them, and revealed the mountains and valleys of the earth. This grand movement is thus described in the hundred-and-fourth Psalm (Psalm civ. 5-9).
5. " He established the earth upon the foundations thereof,In this passage we may remark a strong confirmation of the view we have adopted. For while the deep is represented as spread over everything, the mountains, together, of course, with all their fossil inclosures, are mentioned as already existing beneath it. They had evidently been formed long before the Third Day. And in strict accordance with this fact is God's command, " Let the dry land appear," or more literally, "be seen"; not, "Let it come into existence." The words, "The mountains rose, the valleys sank," are a parenthesis, and describe, of course-or they would conflict with the statement in the sixth verse-the general effect of the scene to a spectator as the waters subsided to their proper level.
On the same day the word of God went forth a second time, and the now liberated soil began to cover itself with a garment of vegetation, the fresh verdure of which was diversified with the hues of countless flowers.
Thus the earth itself was completely restored, and again fitted for the support and enjoyment of life : it only remained to establish its relations with the heavenly bodies. This God did upon the Fourth Day by concentrating the light-material, which He had previously created, into light-holders. For the word used of the light of the First Day is , and of that of the Fourth Maor. And this last is the same as the first, but with a locative prefix which makes it signify a place where light is stored, or a light-holder.
Now we must carefully observe that God is not said to have created these light-holders on the Fourth Day, but merely to have made or prepared them. They were created, as we have seen, in the beginning : and, since the sun appears to be a dark body enveloped by luminous clouds, it was doubtless around its mass that the earth was revolving from the first. Probably, too, the great luminary of our world was also the light of the preadamites : but its lamp had been extinguished, and on the Fourth Day God gave or restored to it the capacity of attracting and diffusing the light-material, by the exercise of which power its photosphere was quickly formed.
And so the solar rays, as they hastened through space, struck upon the moon, and lighted up its silver orb in the firmament of night.
We are next told that God made or prepared-not created -the stars also ; that is, apparently, so altered or modified the firmament, perhaps by the concentration of light into the sun, that the stars then first appeared, or re-appeared, in it. For that they had been previously created we have positive proof. At the close of the Third Day earth was finished and ready for the reception of life, while the stars are not mentioned till the Fourth Day. But in a passage of job we are told that the morning stars1 were admiring witnesses when God laid the foundation stone of the earth, and sang together for joy at its completion (job xxxviii. 4-7). They must, therefore, have been pre-existent. And so God's preparation of them on the Fourth Day must have had reference only to their appearance in our firmament, to the purpose which they were to serve in regard to our earth.
1. [Are not " morning stars " angels, as in Isa. xiv. 12 ? " Sons of God are next mentioned, meaning heavenly beings.]
Thus the Fourth Day came to its close: all was now ready; the work of restoration was finished, and the habitation prepared. Then the creative power of God was put forth, and the waters, which had hitherto been void of living beings, were commanded to swarm with the creature that hath life. Our version, " Let the waters bring forth," is incorrect : the literal rendering is, Let the waters swarm with swarms, with living creatures ; but the text does not tell us that these creatures were produced from the waters.
The following clause is still more grievously mistranslated, since the English is made to imply that even birds were formed from the same element. This would be a direct contradiction of the nineteenth verse of the second chapter, where they are said to have been moulded of earth. But the contradiction does not exist in the Hebrew, the exact sense of which is, " And let fowl fly above the earth in the face of the firmament of heaven." Hence in this verse both fish and fowl are merely commanded to appear in their respective elements without any hint as to their origin.
Sea and air were thus filled with life. Then, last of all, on the Sixth Day, God proceeded to people the earth, which was commanded to bring forth-and here the translation is correct -three classes of living creatures-cattle or domesticated animals, creeping things or land reptiles, insects and worms, and beasts of the field or wild roaming animals.
But, as was shown above, all these creatures were graminivorous : for in the thirtieth verse the green herb alone is given them for meat. Nor, of course, was man allowed to feed upon animal flesh: in the twenty-ninth verse his diet also is restricted to the seed-bearing herb and the fruit of trees. The present state of things, in which animal food is allowed and necessary to man, and carnivorous beasts, birds and fishes abound, testifies to a woefully disorganized and unnatural condition; such a one as would be impossible save in a world at variance with the God of order, peace, love, and perfection.
We have before seen that neither the plants of the Third nor the creatures of the Fifth and Sixth days have anything to do with the fossilized remains found in the earth's crust ; because that crust is assumed to have been formed before the great preadamite catastrophe. For the mountains with all their contents are described as already existing beneath the floods of the deep, and as having appeared, without need of creation or preparation, as soon as the waters retreated to their bounds. We are now able to add other cogent reasons in confirmation of this view.
During the Six Days there were three distinct acts of creative power, by which vegetation, fish and birds, and land animals and man were successively produced. And we are clearly given to understand that all the plants of our world were created on the third day, while no moving creature that has life was called into being until the fifth day. If, then, the theory which makes each day a geological period were correct, the remains of plants only would be found in the lowest fossiliferous strata. These would fill the formations of their own and the following age ; after which they would be mingled with fossil birds and fishes : then, in the rocks of a yet later period, the remains of land animals would also appear. And such a sequence would form the only possible agreement with the account in Genesis.
But what is the result of an examination of the strata ? The lowest fossiliferous system is the Silurian: do we find in it nothing but vegetable petrifactions ? Quite the contrary. The lower and middle Silurian rocks contain a few seaweeds indeed, but no land plants whatever. Yet they abound in creatures belonging to three of the four sections of the animal kingdom, in mollusca, articulata, and radiata. It is only when we get to the highest strata of the upper Silurian rocks that land plants begin to appear, and together with them some specimens of vertebrata, the remaining section of the animal kingdom. If, then, in this oldest fossiliferous system we find plants rare and yet every division of the animal kingdom represented, how can we attempt to force such a fact into accordance with the Mosaic narrative !
Again; the history of Genesis mentions, as we have seen, but three distinct creations-of plants, of birds and fish, and of land animals. But in the eight classifications of strata, from the Tertiary down to the Silurian, there would appear to have been at least as many creations as there are systems, each creation including a very large proportion of animals and plants peculiar to itself. Agassiz goes still further, as the following quotation will show:
" I hold it to be demonstrated that the totality of organic beings was renewed, not only in the intervals of those great periods which we designate as formations, but also in the stratification of each separate division of every formation. Nor do I believe in the genetic descent of the living species from the different tertiary divisions which have been regarded as identical, but which I hold to be specifically different ; so that I cannot adopt the idea of a transformation of the species of one formation into that of another. In enunciating these conclusions, let it be understood that they are not inductions derived from the study of one particular class of animals - such as fishes-and applied to other classes, but the results of direct comparison of very considerable collections of petrifactions of different formations and classes of animals."
Thus the crust of our earth appears to be a vast mound which God has heaped over the remains of many creations. And geology shows us that the creatures of these ancient worlds either perished by painful disease and mutual destruction, or were overwhelmed in an instant by the most terrific convulsions of nature.
Lastly; it is recorded (Gen. i. 26, 29) that all the living creatures and plants created during the Six Days were given to man. It is reasonable, therefore, to suppose that they were intended to remain with him throughout the whole course of his world. And hence, again, the certainty that the fossil plants and animals, nearly all of which were extinct before the creation of Adam, have nothing to do with the creatures of the Third, Fifth, and Sixth days.
The creation of the humbler inhabitants of earth having been thus accomplished, but one other work remained to be done. All was ready for the introduction of those who were to be set over the world as the vicegerents of the Almighty. Accordingly God proceeded to make them in His own image and after His likeness. But in the first chapter of Genesis the calling into being of man, male and female, is simply mentioned to signify his place in creation. Further details are reserved for the present, and the history goes on to say that God saw all He had made that it was very good.
For no evil ever came from His hands. Let this truth be fixed in our hearts: and whenever we are troubled with the thorn or the thistle, with the poisonous or useless weed, with the noxious beast, with the extreme of heat or cold, or with any of the other countless inconveniences and pains of our present condition; whenever we feel ready to faint by reason of fightings without and fears within. let us remember that God made all things good, and avoiding hard thoughts of Him, say, An enemy hath done this.
Then follows the institution of the Sabbath on the Seventh Day: and the fact of its introduction in this connection is sufficient to show that it was no special ordinance for the Israelite, but a law of God for all the dwellers upon earth from the days of Adam till time shall cease.
And so the first section of this wondrous history closes with a summary of the subject and an introduction to the next part in the words : " These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the " Lord God made the earth and the heavens, and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew : for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground." ,
Here the creation of the heavens and earth, that is, of the whole universe, refers, of course, to the creation in the beginning. But the making or preparing of the earth and the heavens points to the Six Days of restoration. And this is indicated not only by the change in the verb, but also by the inverted order, " the earth and the heavens," which is only found in one other passage, and is plainly significant. For the Hebrew word for " heavens " has no singular, and it was thus impossible to make in the Old Testament a distinction such as we often find in the New, where the singular of the Greek word is generally used for the first heaven or firmament of our earth, while the plural comprises the starry realms and the heaven of heavens. Hence some other device was necessary, and the fact that " the heavens " in the second clause of this verse mean the firmament of earth is indicated by the inverted order. And this order is also the historical one: for the firmament was not made perfect, so that sun, moon, and stars could be seen in it, until after the entire restoration of the earth. The same sequence in the hundred and forty-eighth Psalm is explained by the seventh verse, " Praise the Lord from the earth." For this Psalm is divided into two parts: in the first six verses praise to God is invoked from the starry vault and the heaven of heavens, in the last eight from the earth and its atmosphere. Hence in the thirteenth verse the glory of the Lord is appropriately said to be above " the earth and the heaven," earth being first mentioned because here also by heaven is meant the firmament which belongs and is, therefore, subordinate to it.
In the next verse, if we retain the Authorized Version, which follows the Septuagint, we must, of course, understand the verb " make " or " prepare " as applying not only to earth and heaven, but also to " every plant of the field," etc. The sense will then be that God prepared the seeds and placed them in the ground ; so that the plants and herbs of our world did not spring from the relics of former creations or grow up spontaneously, but were newly introduced by God at that time. And this is corroborated by the fact that since the withdrawal of the salt and barren waters of the deep He had not as yet caused it to rain upon the earth, nor was there any preadamite spared from the previous destruction to cultivate the soil. All our verdure and plants grew up, therefore, from new germs placed in the ground by God and afterwards developed and nourished by a mist which went up from the earth.
Such appears to be the meaning of the passage, and this special allusion to the work of the Third Day seems to be inserted as an introduction to the following account of Eden and its garden.
In closing our remarks on the continuous history of the Six Days, we may observe that many discrepancies have been alleged to exist between the first and second chapters of Genesis. Some of these we have already explained: none of them has any real foundation. We have only to bear in mind the different objects of the two records and all difficulty will vanish: for while the one chapter gives a continuous history of the week of restoration, the other is evidently a supplement, adding details of man's creation that we may better understand his nature and his fall. Hence in this second account reference is made to other works of the Six Days only when they happen to be immediately connected with the main subject, and without any regard to the order in which they were performed.