This expanded electronic edition of the J-F-B Commentary is in the
public domain. Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David
Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1871)
THE FIRST BOOK OF MOSES, CALLED GENESIS
Commentary by ROBERT
2. THE CREATION OF HEAVEN AND EARTH.
1. In the beginning--a period of remote and
unknown antiquity, hid in the depths of eternal ages; and so the phrase is used
God--the name of the Supreme
Being, signifying in Hebrew, "Strong," "Mighty." It is expressive of
omnipotent power; and by its use here in the plural form, is obscurely
taught at the opening of the Bible, a doctrine clearly revealed in other parts
of it, namely, that though God is one, there is a plurality of persons in the
Godhead--Father, Son, and Spirit, who were engaged in the creative work (Pr
8:27; Joh 1:3, 10; Eph 3:9; Heb 1:2; Job 26:13).
created--not formed from any pre-existing materials, but made out of
the heaven and the earth--the universe.
This first verse is a general introduction to the inspired volume, declaring the
great and important truth that all things had a beginning; that nothing
throughout the wide extent of nature existed from eternity, originated by
chance, or from the skill of any inferior agent; but that the whole universe was
produced by the creative power of God (Ac
17:24; Ro 11:36). After this preface, the narrative is confined to the
2. the earth was without form and void--or in
"confusion and emptiness," as the words are rendered in Isa
34:11. This globe, at some undescribed period, having been convulsed and
broken up, was a dark and watery waste for ages perhaps, till out of this
chaotic state, the present fabric of the world was made to arise.
the Spirit of God moved--literally, continued brooding over
it, as a fowl does, when hatching eggs. The immediate agency of the Spirit, by
working on the dead and discordant elements, combined, arranged, and ripened
them into a state adapted for being the scene of a new creation. The account of
this new creation properly begins at the end of this second verse; and the
details of the process are described in the natural way an onlooker would have
done, who beheld the changes that successively took place.
1:3-5. THE FIRST DAY.
3. God said--This phrase, which occurs so
repeatedly in the account means: willed, decreed, appointed; and the determining
will of God was followed in every instance by an immediate result. Whether the
sun was created at the same time with, or long before, the earth, the dense
accumulation of fogs and vapors which enveloped the chaos had covered the globe
with a settled gloom. But by the command of God, light was rendered visible; the
thick murky clouds were dispersed, broken, or rarefied, and light diffused over
the expanse of waters. The effect is described in the name "day," which in
Hebrew signifies "warmth," "heat"; while the name "night" signifies a
"rolling up," as night wraps all things in a shady mantle.
4. divided the light from darkness--refers to the
alternation or succession of the one to the other, produced by the daily
revolution of the earth round its axis.
5. first day--a natural day, as the mention of
its two parts clearly determines; and Moses reckons, according to Oriental
usage, from sunset to sunset, saying not day and night as we do, but evening and
1:6-8. SECOND DAY.
6. firmament--an expanse--a beating out as a
plate of metal: a name given to the atmosphere from its appearing to an observer
to be the vault of heaven, supporting the weight of the watery
clouds. By the creation of an atmosphere, the lighter parts of the waters
which overspread the earth's surface were drawn up and suspended in the visible
heavens, while the larger and heavier mass remained below. The air was thus "in
the midst of the waters," that is, separated them; and this being the apparent
use of it, is the only one mentioned, although the atmosphere serves other uses,
as a medium of life and light.
1:9-13. THIRD DAY.
9. let the waters under the heaven be gathered
together unto one place--The world was to be rendered a terraqueous globe,
and this was effected by a volcanic convulsion on its surface, the upheaving of
some parts, the sinking of others, and the formation of vast hollows, into which
the waters impetuously rushed, as is graphically described (Ps
104:6-9) [HITCHCOCK]. Thus a large part of the earth
was left "dry land," and thus were formed oceans, seas, lakes, and rivers which,
though each having its own bed, or channel, are all connected with the sea (Job
38:10; Ec 1:7).
11. let the earth bring forth--The bare soil was
clothed with verdure, and it is noticeable that the trees, plants, and
grasses--the three great divisions of the vegetable kingdom here mentioned--were
not called into existence in the same way as the light and the air; they were
made to grow, and they grew as they do still out of the ground--not, however, by
the slow process of vegetation, but through the divine power, without rain, dew,
or any process of labor--sprouting up and flourishing in a single day.
1:14-19. FOURTH DAY.
14. let there be lights in the firmament--The
atmosphere being completely purified, the sun, moon, and stars were for the
first time unveiled in all their glory in the cloudless sky; and they are
described as "in the firmament" which to the eye they appear to be, though we
know they are really at vast distances from it.
16. two great lights--In consequence of the day
being reckoned as commencing at sunset--the moon, which would be seen first in
the horizon, would appear "a great light," compared with the little twinkling
stars; while its pale benign radiance would be eclipsed by the dazzling splendor
of the sun; when his resplendent orb rose in the morning and gradually attained
its meridian blaze of glory, it would appear "the greater light" that ruled the
day. Both these lights may be said to be "made" on the fourth day--not created,
indeed, for it is a different word that is here used, but constituted, appointed
to the important and necessary office of serving as luminaries to the world, and
regulating by their motions and their influence the progress and divisions of
1:20-23. FIFTH DAY. The signs of
animal life appeared in the waters and in the air.
20. moving creature--all oviparous animals, both
among the finny and the feathery tribes--remarkable for their rapid and
fowl--means every flying
thing: The word rendered "whales," includes also sharks, crocodiles, &c.; so
that from the countless shoals of small fish to the great sea monsters, from the
tiny insect to the king of birds, the waters and the air were suddenly made to
swarm with creatures formed to live and sport in their respective
1:24-31. SIXTH DAY. A farther
advance was made by the creation of terrestrial animals, all the various species
of which are included in three classes: (1) cattle, the herbivorous kind capable
of labor or domestication.
24. beasts of the earth--(2) wild animals, whose
ravenous natures were then kept in check, and (3) all the various forms of
creeping things--from the huge reptiles to the
26. The last stage in the progress of creation
being now reached--God said, Let us make man--words which show the
peculiar importance of the work to be done, the formation of a creature, who was
to be God's representative, clothed with authority and rule as visible head and
monarch of the world.
In our image, after our
likeness--This was a peculiar distinction, the value attached to which
appears in the words being twice mentioned. And in what did this image of God
consist? Not in the erect form or features of man, not in his intellect, for the
devil and his angels are, in this respect, far superior; not in his immortality,
for he has not, like God, a past as well as a future eternity of being; but in
the moral dispositions of his soul, commonly called original
7:29). As the new creation is only a restoration of this image, the history
of the one throws light on the other; and we are informed that it is renewed
after the image of God in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness (Col
3:10; Eph 4:24).
28. Be fruitful, &c.--The human race in every
country and age has been the offspring of the first pair. Amid all the varieties
found among men, some black, some copper-colored, others white, the researches
of modern science lead to a conclusion, fully accordant with the sacred history,
that they are all of one species and of one family (Ac
17:26). What power in the word of God! "He spake and it was done. He
commanded and all things stood fast" [Ps
33:9]. "Great and manifold are thy works, Lord God Almighty! in wisdom hast
thou made them all" [Ps
104:24]. We admire that wisdom, not only in the regular progress of
creation, but in its perfect adaptation to the end. God is represented as
pausing at every stage to look at His work. No wonder He contemplated it with
complacency. Every object was in its right place, every vegetable process going
on in season, every animal in its structure and instincts suited to its mode of
life and its use in the economy of the world. He saw everything that He had made
answering the plan which His eternal wisdom had conceived; and, "Behold it was
very good" [Ge
2:1. THE NARRATIVE OF THE SIX DAYS' CREATION
CONTINUED. The course of the narrative is improperly broken
by the division of the chapter.
1. the heavens--the firmament or atmosphere.
host--a multitude, a numerous array, usually
connected in Scripture with heaven only, but here with the earth also, meaning
all that they contain.
were finished--brought to
completion. No permanent change has ever since been made in the course of the
world, no new species of animals been formed, no law of nature repealed or added
to. They could have been finished in a moment as well as in six days, but the
work of creation was gradual for the instruction of man, as well, perhaps, as of
higher creatures (Job
2:2-7. THE FIRST SABBATH.
2. and he rested on the seventh day--not to
repose from exhaustion with labor (see Isa
40:28), but ceased from working, an example equivalent to a command that we
also should cease from labor of every kind.
3. blessed and sanctified the seventh day--a
peculiar distinction put upon it above the other six days, and showing it was
devoted to sacred purposes. The institution of the Sabbath is as old as
creation, giving rise to that weekly division of time which prevailed in the
earliest ages. It is a wise and beneficent law, affording that regular interval
of rest which the physical nature of man and the animals employed in his service
requires, and the neglect of which brings both to premature decay. Moreover, it
secures an appointed season for religious worship, and if it was necessary in a
state of primeval innocence, how much more so now, when mankind has a strong
tendency to forget God and His claims?
4. These are the generations of the heavens and of
the earth--the history or account of their production. Whence did Moses
obtain this account so different from the puerile and absurd fictions of the
heathen? Not from any human source, for man was not in existence to witness it;
not from the light of nature or reason, for though they proclaim the eternal
power and Godhead by the things which are made, they cannot tell how they
were made. None but the Creator Himself could give this information, and
therefore it is through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the
word of God (Heb
5, 6. rain, mist--(See on Ge
7. Here the sacred writer supplies a few more
particulars about the first pair.
FORMED MAN OUT OF THE DUST OF THE GROUND. Science has
proved that the substance of his flesh, sinews, and bones, consists of the very
same elements as the soil which forms the crust of the earth and the limestone
that lies embedded in its bowels. But from that mean material what an admirable
structure has been reared in the human body (Ps
the breath of life--literally, of
lives, not only animal but spiritual life. If the body is so admirable, how much
more the soul with all its varied faculties.
breathed into his nostrils the breath of life--not that the Creator
literally performed this act, but respiration being the medium and sign of life,
this phrase is used to show that man's life originated in a different way from
his body--being implanted directly by God (Ec
12:7), and hence in the new creation of the soul Christ breathed on His
8-17. THE GARDEN OF EDEN.
8. Eden--was probably a very extensive region in
Mesopotamia, distinguished for its natural beauty and the richness and variety
of its produce. Hence its name, signifying "pleasantness." God planted a garden
eastward, an extensive park, a paradise, in which the man was put to be trained
under the paternal care of his Maker to piety and usefulness.
9. tree of life--so called from its symbolic
character as a sign and seal of immortal life. Its prominent position where it
must have been an object of daily observation and interest, was admirably fitted
to keep man habitually in mind of God and futurity.
tree of the knowledge of good and evil--so called because it was a
test of obedience by which our first parents were to be tried, whether
they would be good or bad, obey God or break His commands.
15. put the man into the garden of Eden to dress
it--not only to give him a pleasant employment, but to place him on his
probation, and as the title of this garden, the garden of the Lord (Ge
13:10; Eze 28:13), indicates, it was in fact a temple in which he worshipped
God, and was daily employed in offering the sacrifices of thanksgiving and
17. thou shalt not eat of it . . . thou
shalt surely die--no reason assigned for the prohibition, but death was to
be the punishment of disobedience. A positive command like this was not only the
simplest and easiest, but the only trial to which their fidelity could be
2:18-25. THE MAKING OF WOMAN, AND INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE.
18. it is not good for the man to be alone--In
the midst of plenty and delights, he was conscious of feelings he could not
gratify. To make him sensible of his wants,
19. God brought unto Adam--not all the animals in
existence, but those chiefly in his immediate neighborhood to be subservient to
whatsoever Adam called every living
creature, that was the name thereof--His powers of perception and
intelligence were supernaturally enlarged to know the characters, habits, and
uses of each species that was brought to him.
20. but for Adam there was not found an help meet for
him--The design of this singular scene was to show him that none of the
living creatures he saw were on an equal footing with himself, and that while
each class came with its mate of the same nature, form, and habits, he alone had
no companion. Besides, in giving names to them he was led to exercise his powers
of speech and to prepare for social intercourse with his partner, a creature yet
to be formed.
21. deep sleep--probably an ecstasy or trance
like that of the prophets, when they had visions and revelations of the Lord,
for the whole scene was probably visible to the mental eye of Adam, and hence
his rapturous exclamation.
took one of his
ribs--"She was not made out of his head to surpass him, nor from his feet to
be trampled on, but from his side to be equal to him, and near his heart to be
dear to him."
23. Woman--in Hebrew, "man-ess."
24. one flesh--The human pair differed from all
other pairs, that by peculiar formation of Eve, they were one. And this passage
is appealed to by our Lord as the divine institution of marriage (Mt
19:4, 5; Eph 5:28). Thus Adam appears as a creature formed after the image
of God--showing his knowledge by giving names to the animals, his
righteousness by his approval of the marriage relation, and his
holiness by his principles and feelings, and finding gratification in the
service and enjoyment of God.
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