The Creation of the World
THE BOOK OF GENESIS
CHAPTERS I. 1-II. 4.
The Book of Genesis opens with a sublime and dignifed narrative, describing the creation of heaven and earth, and the stages by which, as the narrator pictured it, the latter was gradually fitted to become the habitation of man. Starting with a state of primaeval chaos, in which the earth is represented as enveloped in a huge mass of surrounding waters, shrouded in darkness, yet brooded over by the Spirit of God, the writer describes successively (1) the production of light; (2) the division of this mass of primaeval waters into two parts, an upper and a lower, by means of a 'firmament'; (3) the emergence of the dry land out of the lower waters; (4) the clothing of the dry land with grass, herbs, and trees; (5) the creation of sun, moon, and stars; (6) the production of fishes and birds; (7) the appearance of terrestrial animals; (8) the creation of man; (9) God's rest after His work of creation. There are thus eight distinct creative works, which, with God's rest at the close, are adjusted with remarkable symmetry to the week of seven days. The six days of creation fall into two sections of three days each; and the third and the sixth days have each two works assigned to them The first three days, moreover, are days of preparation, the next three are days of accomplishment. On the first day light is created, and on the fourth day comes the creation of the luminaries which are for the future to be its receptacles; on the second day the waters 'below the firmament,' and (as we should say) the air, appear, and on the fifth day fishes and birds are created to people them; on the third day the dry land appears, and the earth in clothed with vegetation; on the sixth day terrestrial animals and man are created, who are to inhabit the dry land, and (vv. 29, 30) to live upon food supplied by its vegetation. In the order in which the different creative works are arranged there is an evident gradation, each work as a rule occupying the place in which it might be naturally regarded as the condition, or suitable forerunner, of the work next following, and in the cue of living things, there being an obvious ascent from lower to higher, the climax of the whole being formed by man.
The narrative belongs to the Priestly source of the Hexateuch (see p. iv), the literary characteristics of which it displays in a marked degree. It will be sufficient to notice here the use throughout of the name God (not Jehovah), and the methodical articulation of the narrative into sections, each marked by the recurrence of stereotyped formulae. Thus each creative act is introduced by the words And God said (vv. 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26); and it was so is found six times (vv. 9, 11, 15, 24, 30); the mark of Divine approval, and God saw that it was good, is repeated seven times (in LXX eight times, once after each work), vv. 4, 8 (LXX.), 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31 (the last time, with a significant variation); and the close of each days work is marked by the standing
formula, and evening came, and morning came,...day (vv. 5, 8, 12, 19, 23, 31).
On some general questions arising out of the narrative, see p. 19 ff.
I. 1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was
I. 1. Introduction. The verse (as rendered in EVV.) gives
a summary of the description which follows, stating the broad general fact of the creation of the universe; the details of the process then form the subject of the rest of the chapter. 1
In the beginning. Not absolutely, but relatively: at the beginning of the order of things which we see, and in the midst of which human history unfolds itself (Perowne, Expositor, Oct. 1890, p. 248).
God. On the Heb. word, see the Excursus at the end of the volume.
created. The root signifies to cut (see, in the intensive conjug., Josh. xvii. 15, 18; & xxiii. 47): so probably the probably the meaning of is to fashion by cutting, to shape. In the simple conjugation, however, it is used exclusively of God, to denote viz. the production of something fundamentally new, by the exercise of a sovereign originative power, altogether transcending that possessed by man. Although, however, the term thus unquestionably denotes a superhuman, miraculous activity, it is doubtful whether it was felt to express definitely the idea of creatio ex nihilo2; and certainly, as Pearson (On the Creed, fol. 52). points out, this doctrine cannot be established from it. The word is very frequent, in the Second Isaiah (as x1. 26, 28, xlii. 5, x1v. 7, 12, 18). In Ps. civ. 30 it is used of the ever-recurring renovation of life upon the earth. Its figurative applications are also noticeable : as of the formation of a nation by Jehovah, Is. x1iii 1, 15 ; and of the production of some surprising or striking effect., or of some new condition or circumstances, beyond the power of man to bring about, as Ex. xxxiv. 10 (RVm.); Nu. xvi. 30 (RVm.); Jer. xxxi. 22; Is. x1v. 8. 1xv. 17.
the heaven and the earth. Ie. the universe, as it was known to the Hebrews, in its completed state.
1 Many modern scholars, however (including Dillmann), construe vv. 1-3 in this way: "In the beginning of God's creating, the heaven and the earth, now the earth was without form, &c. [v. 2], God said, Let there be light," &c. So already the celebrated Jewish commentator Rashi (A.D. 1040-1105), and similarly Ibn Ezra (1092-1167).
2 . 2 Mace. vii. 28. Cf the Shepherd of Hermas, I. i. 6 with the parallels from Ecclesiastical writers collected in the note in Gebhardt and Harnack's edition. On Heb. xi. 8, see Westoott's note.
2. The writer now turns at once to the earth, in which, as the future home of man, and the theatre of human activity, he is more particularly interested; and proceeds to describe what its condition was when God 'spake,' as described in v. 3.
the earth. As the sequel shews, the term here denotes the earth, not as we know it now, but in its primitive chaotic, unformed state.
was without form and void. Heb. tohu wa-bohu,- an alliterative description of a chaos, in which nothing can be distinguished or defined. Tuhu is a word which it is difficult to express consistently in English : but it denotes mostly something unsubstantial, or (fig.) unreal1; cf. Is. xlv. 18 (of the earth), 'He created it not a tohu, he fashioned it to be inhabited,',v. 19 said not, Seek ye me as a tohu (i.e. in vain).' Bohu (only twice besides), as Arabic shews, is rightly rendered empty or void. Comp. the same combination of words to suggest the idea of a return to primaeval chaos in Jer. iv. 23, and Is. xxxiv. 11 ('the line of tohu and the plummet of bohu')2.
upon the face of the deep. Heb. tehom. Not here what the 'deep' would denote to us, i.e. the sea, but the primitive undivided waters, thee huge watery mass which the writer conceived as enveloping the chaotic earth. Milton (P. L. VII. 276 ff.) gives an excellent paraphrase:
The earth was formed, but, in the womb as yet
In the Babylonian cosmogony, also, as reported by Berossus (see DB. 1. 504b; or KAT.3 (1902), p. 488), all things began in darkness and water; and tehom recalls at once the Bab. Tiamat (see p. 28).
Of waters, embryon immature, involved,
Appeared not,---over all the face of earth
Main ocean flowed.
the spirit of God &c. In the OT. the 'spirit' of man is the principle of life, viewed especially as the seat of the stronger and more active energies of life; and the 'spirit' of God is analogously the Divine force or agency, to the operation of which are attributed various extraordinary powers and activities of men, as also supernatural spiritual gifts (see e.g. Gen. x1i. 38; Ex. xxxi. 3; Num. xi. 17; 1 S. xi. 6, xvi. 13; Mic. iii. 8; Is. xi. 2, x1ii. 1, lix. 21, 1xi. 1; Ez. xxxvi. 27); in the later books of the OT., it appears also as the power which creates and sustains life (cf Ez. xxxvii. 14; Is. xliv. 3 f. ; )ob xxxiii. 4; Ps. civ. 303). It is in the last named capacity that it is mentioned here. The chaos of v. 2 was not left in hopeless gloom and death ; already, even before God 'spake' (v. 3), the spirit of God, with its life-giving energy, was 'brooding' over the waters, like a bird upon its nest, and (so it seems to be implied fitting them in some way to generate and maintain life, when the Divine fiat should be pronounced4
1 The following are its occurrences (besides those noted above) : Is. xxix. 21 'that turn aside the just [from their right) with a thing of nought,' ie. by baseless allegations, xl. 17 'are counted by him as made of nothing and tohu (RV, vanity), '23 (RV. vanity, || nothing), x1i. 29 (RV. confusion, || wind), x1iv. 9 (vanity, marg. confusion), xlix. 4 for nought (= in vain), lix. 4 vanity (i.e. moral unreality,
falsehood); Job xxvi. 7 (RV. empty space); 1 S. xii. 21, of idols (RV. vain things); Is. xxiv. 10 (RV. confusion). it is also used sometimes poetically of an undefined, untracked, indeterminable expanse, or waste: Dt. xxxi. 10, Job vi. 18 RV.,xii. 24 = Ps. cvii 40. The ancient Versions usually render it by words, signifying emptiness, nothingness, vanity (as , inane, vacuum, vanum).
2 LXX. render here Cf Wisd. xi. 17 (18) .
3 Comp. in the NT. John vi. 63; 1 Cor. xv. 45; 2 Cor. iii. 6; and in the Nicene Creed .
4 Comp. Milton (P. L. VII. 233 ff.):,-- 'Darkness profound Cover'd the abyss ; but on the watery calm [see 1. 216] His brooding wings the Spirit of God outspread, And vital virtue infus'd, and vital warmth, Throughout the fluid mass.'
upon the face of the deep: and the spirit of God 1moved upon the face of the waters. 3 And God said, Let there be light : and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 And
1 Or, was brooding upon
moved. Was brooding (RVm.). The word occurs besides only n Dt. xxxii. 11, where it is used of an eagle. (properly, a griffon-vulture) hovering over its young. It is used similarly in Syriac.
It is possible that its use here may be a survival, or echo, of the
old belief, found among the Phoenicians, as well as elsewhere (Euseb.
Praep. Ev. I. 10. 1, 2; Arist. Aves 693 ff.: Dillm. pp. 4, 7, 20), of a world-egg out of which, as it split, the earth, sky, and heavenly bodies emerge the crude, material representation appearing here transformed into a beautiful and suggestive figure.
3-5. The First Day, and the first work. Light.
Light is the first work, because it is the indispensable condition of all order, all distinctness, all life, and all further progress.
3. And God said. So at the beginning of each work of creation, including the two proviential words of vv. 28, 29, ten times in all (hence the later Jewish dictum, 'By ten sayings the world was created,' Aboth v. As Dillm. has pointed out, in the fact that God creates by a word, there are several important truths implicit. It is an indication not only of the ease with which He accomplishes His work and of His omnipotence, but also of the fact that He works consciously and deliberately. Things do not emanate from Him unconsciously, nor are they produced by a mere act of thought, as in some pantheistic systems, but by an act of will, of which the concrete word is the outward expression. Each stage in His creative work is the realization of a deliberately formed purpose, the 'word' the mediating principle of creation, the means or agency through which His will takes effect. Cf. Ps. xxxiii. 6, 9; also cvii. 20, cxlvii. 15, 18, in which passages the word is regarded as a messenger between God and His creatures. This usage of the OT. is a preparation for the personal sense of the term 'The Word' which appears in the NT. (John i. 1), - though doubtless this usage is in part, also, dependent upon Philo.
4. that it was good. The Divine approval is signified seven times in the chapter, after each work, except the second-where, however, the LXX it (v. 8).. The formula used marks each work as one corresponding to the Divine intention, perfect, as far as its nature required and permitted, complete, and the object of the Creator's approving regard and satisfaction.
And (I. 19 ff.) :- 'Thou from the first
Wast present, and, with mighty wings outspread
Dove-like, sat'st brooding on the vast abyso,,
And mad'st it pregnant.'
and God divided &c. Light, and darkness are henceforth to have each its separate sphere, and special time of appearance (v. 5).
God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
6 And God said, Let there be a 1firmament in the midst of
1 Heb. expanse.
The origin of darkness, like that of chaos, is not mentioned: chaos disappears by being converted gradually into an ordered cosmos; darkness, though neither called into being by a creative word, nor described as 'good,' is nevertheless by this act of separation recognized as having equally with light its place in the ordering of the world.
In this 'separation' of the light from the darkness there seems, however, to be something more involved than their mere alternation, or successive appearance, by day and night. Not only is light created before the luminaries (v. 16), but in Job light and darkness seem to be represented as having each its separate and distinct dwelling-place (xxxviii. 19 'Where is the way to the dwelling of light, And as for darkness, where is the place thereof?' 20 ; xxvi. 10 'He hath circumscribed a boundary [the horizon] upon the face of the waters, Unto the confines of light and darkness [i.e. the border between them]' It seems thus that, according to the Hebrew conception, light, though gathered up and concentrated in the heavenly bodies, is not confined to them (Perowne); day arises, not solely from the sun, but because the matter of light issues forth from its place and spreads over the earth, at night it withdraws, and darkness comes forth from its place, each in a hidden, mysterious way (Dillm). An idea such as this may seem strange to us: but the expositor has no right to read into the narrative the ideas of modern science; his duty is simply to read out of it the ideas which it expresses or presupposes.
5. And God called &e. God designed the distinction to be permanent, and therefore stamped it with a name. An indirect way of saying that a distinction which all men recognize, and express in language, was part of the Divine purpose and a Divine ordinance (similarly vv. 8, 10). The alternation is a beneficent one; and already the future adaptation of the earth to the needs of men and animals is in view (see Ps. civ. 20-23).
And evening came, and morning came [=], one day. The chaotic darkness is antecedent to all reckoning: the creation of light marks the beginning of the first day, so the first full day closes with the following morning. This is indicated by saying, in accordance with the distinction just established between 'Day' and 'Night,' that first evening came, and then morning came.
6-8. Second Day, and second work. The division of the primitive chaotic waters into two parts, an upper and a lower, by means of a 'firmament.'
6. a firmament. Vulg. firmamentum, from the LXX. , i.e. something made solid. The Heb. is rakia', something pressed dowm firm, and so beaten out (the cogn. verb means to stamp, Ez. vi. 111;
1 In the Syriac Version of Lk. vi. 38 it stands for , pressed down.'
the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7 And P God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were. above the firmament : and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament
applied to metals, to beat out (Nu. xvi. 39 ; Jer. x. 9), fig. of the earth, Is. xlii. 5, xliv. 24 [RV. spread abroad], Ps. cxxxvi. 6), i.e. a firm and solid expanse1 capable of supporting the masses ot water confined above. The dome or canopy of heaven, which we, of course, know to be no but an optical illusion, was supposed by the Hebrews to be a solid at (cf. Job xxxvii. 18 'Canst, thou like him beat out the skies, which are strong as a molten mirror?' and Prov. viii. 28a), supported far off by pillars resting upon the earth (Job xxvi. 11 ; Amos ix. 6 ; cf. 2 S. xxii. 8)2 : above this vault there were vast reservoirs of water, which came down, in time of rain, through opened sluices (v. 7, vii. 11 ; Ps. civ. 3 'who layeth the beams of his upper chambers in the waters'; 13 'who watereth the mountains from his upper-chambers'; Am. ix. 6 'who buildeth his upper-chambers in the heaven, and hath founded his vault upon the earth'); and above these waters Jehovah sat enthroned. The present verse shews how this was supposed to have been brought about. By the Divine word, a solid 'firmament' was created, which separated the huge mass of primitive waters enveloping the earth into two parts, one being above the firmament, and the other below it.
let it divide. More exactly, 'let it be dividing,' the participle denoting that the division is to be permanent.
the waters from the waters. Ie. the waters below the firmament from the waters above it.
7. the waters which were above the firmament Cf. Ps. cxlviii. 4.
and it was so. The clause is apparently misplaced. According to
the analogy of the other cases in which the words are used (vv. 9, 11, 15, 24, 30) , and in which they immediately follow the words spoken by God, they should stand at the end of v. 6, where the LXX actually have them.
8. And God called &c. Cf v. 5. LXX. add here (as the Heb. text does at the conclusion of all the other works, vv. 4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, cf v. 31) 'And God saw that it was good.' It is true, the words may have dropped out here accidentally; on the other hand, it has also been supposed that they were not placed here by the original writer, because the separation of the waters by a firmament was only a preliminary and imperfect stage in what was completed only on the Third Day, viz. the gathering together of the lower waters into seas and the emergence of dry land.
1 RVm. 'expanse' (alone) suggests a false sense: the word means an expanded or extended thing.
2 Homer speaks similarly of the heaven as of bronze (Od. xv. 329 al.) or iron (Il. xvii. 425)
Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth ; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw
And evening came, and morning came &c. As v. 5.
9-13. Third Day; third and fourth works. The emergence of the dry land out of the lower waters; and its being clothed with vegetation.
9, 10. The part of the chaotic waters, which remained below the 'firmament,' and for the present still enveloped the earth, is now gathered into 'seas'-the plural referring probably to the aggregate of waters which the ancients generally (cf the Gk ) pictured as encircling the earth-and the surface of the earth appears. The idea is that, whether by the earth rising, or by room being made around and under it, the waters flowed away from its surface, and the dry ground appeared. It must be remembered that to the Hebrews the earth was not a large globe, revolving through space round the sun, but a relatively small flat surface, in shape approximately round, supported partly, as it seemed, by the encircling sea out of which it rose, but resting more particularly upon a huge abyss of waters underneath, whence hidden channels were supposed to keep springs and rivers supplied, and also the sea (cf. Dt. viii. 7 [read deeps for depths]; Pr. iii. 20b ' by his knowledge the deeps were cleft open' -with allusion to the formation of these channels)1. These vast subterranean waters are often alluded to, as vii. 11, xlix. 25 (see the notes); Ex. xx. 4 ('the waters under the earth') ; Job xxxviii. 16 ; Pr. viii. 28b ; Ps. xxxiii. 7b, xxxvi. 6; cf. Ps. xxiv. 2 'For He hath founded it upon the seas, And he maketh it fast upon the streams'; cxxxvi. 6 'To him that spread abroad the earth upon the waters.' There is a graphic poetical description of this part of the Third Day's work in Ps. civ. 6-8 :
Thou coveredst it with the deep [Ie. with the primitive waters] like as with a vesture;
Confining these within its barriers is spoken of as a work of Divine omnipotence also in Jer. v. 22, Job xxxviii. 8-11.
The waters atood above the mountains:
At thy rebuke they fled,
At the voice of thy thunder they sped in alarm-
The mountains rose, the valleys sank-
Unto the place which thou hadst founded for them
1 See the illustration in DB. I 503.
10. And God called &c. Cf. on v. 5.
that it was good. 11 And God said, Let the earth put forth grass, herb yielding seed, and fruit tree bearing fruit after its kind, wherein is the seed thereof, upon the earth: and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, herb yielding seed after its kind, and tree bearing fruit, wherein is the seed thereof, after, its kind: and God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.
14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the
Earth. The word is used here in a somewhat different sense from v. 2: there it denoted the chaotic earth, enveloped in water, Milton's 'embryon immature'; here it denotes the land, as we know it, in opposition to the sea.
11, 12. The clothing of the earth with vegetation. Three of the more conspicuous descriptions of vegetable p uce are mentioned which may be regarded "as representing the whole.
11. grass. Heb. deshe', often rendered tender grass (ie. young, fresh grass, such as appears after rain (2 S. xxiii. 4 ; Job xxxviii. 27) ; and so used suitably of the fresh young verdure, which the narrator pictured as first brought forth by the earth.
herb. I.e. larger plants, especially such as vegetables and cereals: cf. v. 29, iii. 18 ; Ps. civ. 14.
yielding seed. Ie. possessing the means of self-propagation, and also furnishing products often useful for man.
fruit tree. The writer thinks more particularly of trees producing food for man.
after its kind. Rather, after its kinds (the word being collective), i.e. according to its various species: so vv. 12, 24, 25. The addition calls attention to the number and variety of the different species included under each head. The point is one often emphesized in the technical enumerations of 'P' : see the Introduction, p. viii : and cf vi. 20, vii. 14 ; Lev. xi. 14-16, 19, 22, 29.
wherein is the seed thereof. Ie. containing itself the means of
self-propagation. The object of the v. is to shew how all vegetation originated in the command of God, how the earth produces it's multitudinous species by His appointment, and how further these species contain within themselves the means of continuous reproduction.
14-19. Fourth Day, and fifth work. The creation of luminaries in heaven.
14. lights. Heb. meoroth, places (or instruments) of light, i.e. luminaries.
in the firmament of the heaven. I.e. fastened to it (cf. v. 17), and below the 'waters above the firmament' of v. 7. The Hebrews were unconscious of the immense (and varying) distances by which the heavenly bodies are separated from the earth; and supposed them to have their positions and courses, in some way assigned to them in the solid 'firmament', which seems to the spectator to extend, as a huge eupola, above him.
heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years: 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon
The luminaries are described as subserving three purposes:
1. to divide the day from the night -or (v. 18) to divide the light from the darkness, and to rule over the day and over the night-i.e. to be the permanent regulators of the distinction laid down in vv. 4, 5; the sun serving to distinguish the day from the night, and by the splendour and potency of its rays 'ruling' over it; and the moon, though of course equally visible by day, being more conspicuous by night, and so, with the stars, serving to distinguish it from the day, and 'ruling' over it by imparting to it a character of its own.
2. to be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years. (a) for signs, e.g. as helping to fix what we should call the points of the compass or by their appearance betokening the future state of the weather, perhaps also, by extraordinary phenomena, as eclipses, portending (as antiquity believed) extraordinary occurrences1. (b) for seasons, i.e. not the four seasons of the year (though these may be included), but fixed times (Heb. mo'adim, from ya'ad, to fix, appoint), whether secular or sacred: as months and weeks, determined by the moon (cf. Ps. civ. 19 'he made the moon for fixed times'), periods of human occupation, as agriculture and navigation2, or of animal life (cf Jer. viii. 7 'the stork in the heaven knoweth her fixed time,' viz. for migration), or of the flowering and seed-time of plants, and similarly the fixed periods of the year which we call
'seasons'; and also sacred seasons-the festivals and other sacred occasions in the Jewish calendar being fixed for definite days in the week, month, or year (see esp. Lev. xxiii.), and the same word mo'adim, being frequently applied to them (see ibid., where ten such mo'adim3 are enumerated). (c) for days and years, determining their length, and regular succession.
3. to give light upon the earth (v. 15). A necessary condition of life, and progress' ; and essential for the existence and development of the human race. The various functions assigned here to the, heavenly bodies have all, it is to be noticed, reference to the earth-and especially to the earth as a habitation for living being: in Job xxxviii. 33 they are summed up in the expression, 'the dominion of the heavens over the earth.' For darkness and night, aa having their place in the Divinely-appointed economy of nature, see Ps. civ. 20.
1 Comp. the manner in which the prophets sometimes represent extraordinary darkenings of the heavenly bodies as accompanying great Political catastrophes (Am. viii. 9; Ez. xxxii. 7; Is. xiii. 10); see abo Joel ii. 31, Luke xxi. 25. However, an undue regard to such 'signs of heaven' is condemned in Jer. x. 2.
2 Determined often in ancient times by the heliacal risings and settings of the fixed stars: ses ASTRONOMIA in Smith's Dics. of Antiquities.
3 RV. set feasts (RVm. appointed seasons); elsewhere also appointed feasts, as Is. i. 14; Hos. ii. 11 (RVm.). (The word rendered 'feast' simply, and meaning properly a pilgrimage (Ex. xxiii. 14-17 al.), is quite different.)
the earth : and it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness : and God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
20 And God said, Let the waters 1bring forth abundantly the
1 Heb. swarm with swarm of Living creatures.
16-18. The manner in which God gave eflect to His command. The luminaries are first 'made' (v. 16), and then 'set.' (v. 17) in the firmament.
16. And God made. 'And,' following the command of vv. 14, 15, is equivalent virtually to Thus, or So. Similarly vv. 21, 25.
to rule &c. Hence Ps. cxxxvi. 7-9. Cf also Jer. xxxi. 35.
he made tke stars also. The stars hold a subordinate place, because, so far as the earth and life upon it are concerned, they are of less mportance than the sun or moon. The Hebrews had no idea that the 'stars' were in reality, at least in many cases, far vaster and more wonderful in their structure than the sun. Even the questions in Job xxxviii. 31, 32, have a far fuller meaning to us than they had to the poet who framed them.
17. set them in the firmament. Cf. on v. 14 (p. 9).
'This whole description of the creation of the heavenly bodies is written from the ancient geocentric standpoint: and it is vain to attempt to bring it into scientific agreement with the teachings of modern astronomy. But the object of the writer is a religious one; and for the religious point of view it is sufficient to know that the heavenly bodies are marvels of the creative power of God, and in other respects to consider them according to what they are for us. They subserve human needs, in accordance with God's ordinance, in the manifold ways indicated in the narrative; and they are thus a means of filling our minds with a profound sense of the wonderful harmony of the universe, and of the might and wisdom of the Creator (cf Pss. viii., ., civ.)' (Dillm.). There is at the same time a tacit opposition to the wide-spread belief of the ancients that the heavenly bodies were themselves divine, and to be treated as objects of worship (Dt. iv. 19 &c.; Job xxxi. 26 ; Wisd. xiii. 2).
moving creature that hath life, and let fowl fly above the earth 1in the open firmament of heaven. 21 And God created the great sea-monsters, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kinds, and every winged fowl after its kind: and God saw that it was good.
1 Heb. on the face of the expanse of the heaven.
20-23. Fifth Day and sixth work. The water and air peopled with living beings.
20. Let the waters swarm with swarming things, (even) living souls. The RV. here, unfortunately, fails entirely to give the reader a clear idea of what is intended; and even RVm. only partially supplies the deficiency. 'Swarming things' Heb. sherez) is a technical expression, and is applied to creatures that appear in swarms -whether (as here) those that teem in the waters (both fishes and other small aquatic creatures)1, or those which swarm on the ground or in the air (i.e. creeping and flying insects, small reptiles, and small quadrupeds, as the weasel and the mouse: see Lev. xi. 20-23, 29-31)2
(even) living souls. A ' soul' (nephesh) in the psychology of the Hebrews is not peculiar to man; it is the principle of life and sensibility in any animal organism, and is then transferred to the sentient organism itself. The rendering 'creature' obliterates a distinctive characteristic of Hebrew thought. Here the term denotes all kinds of aquatic organisms, including even the lowliest. Comp. Ez. x1vii. 9 'all soul that swarmeth,' of fish; and of other sentient things, ch. i. 21, 24, ix. 10, 12, 15, 16 ; Lev. xi. 10, 46, &c. (RV. each time, 'creature'), xxiv. 18 (Heb. 'he that smiteth the soul of a beast,' and then 'soul for soul').
fowl Or, flying things. As Lev. xi. 20, 21, 23 (Heb.) shews, the term may include insects.
in front of the firmament of heaven. Ie. in the air, in front of the firmament, as a spectator standing upon the eaxth looks up towards it. The RV. is incorrect, the Hebrew words not admitting of the rendering given; and the firmament, moreover, according to Hebrew ideas, not being anything of which 'open' could be predicated. The LXX. adds at the end of this verse 'And it was so' (as vv. 9, 11, 15, 24, 30).
1 So Lev. xi. 10 (read 'swarm' for 'move') ; Ez. x1vii. 9.
2 So vii. 21 (see RVm.), Lev. v. 2 (RV., unhappily [see on vv. 21, 24], 'creeping things'). See especially Lev. xi. 20-23, 29-31, 41 44, 46: the reader who desires to understand properly the distinctions referred to in this chapter should mark on the margin of his Revised Version 'swarm,' 'swarmeth,' 'Swarming' against 'creep,' 'creepeth,' 'creeping' each time in these verses (as also against 'move' in v. 10), and 'creepeth' against 'moveth' in vv. 44, 46.
21. The creatures thus produced specified somewhat more particularly.
sea-monsters. Heb. tannin, a long reptile, applied sometimes to land-reptiles (Ex. vii. 9 [see RVm.], 10, 12 ; Dt. xxxii. 33 [EVV. dragon]; Ps. xci. 13 [RV. serpent; PBV. dragon]) ; but usually denoting the crocodile (Is. xxvii. 1, li. 9;Ez. xxix.3, xxxii. 2; Ps. 1xxiv. [EVV. in all, dragon], or other aquatic, monster (Jer. li. 34; Ps. cxlviii. 7 [see RVm.]; Job vii. 12 [RV. sea-monster]). Here it means sea- (and river-) monsters generally.
22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fimitful, and multiply, and P fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in ' the earth.
23 And there was evening and there w ' as morning, a fifth day.,
24 And God said, Imt the earth bring forth the living creature after its kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of
and every living soul (v. 20) that creepeth [or glideth], where-with the waters swarm (v. 20). Ie. fishes, as well, aa other aquatic creatures, which either glide through the water, or creep along its bed. The word rendered 'creep' is used mostly of land-creatures (see on v. 24) : it is used of aquatic creatures, as here, in Lev. xi. 46 ; Ps. lxix. 34 (read 'creepeth' or 'glideth,' for RV. moveth); cf. the corresponding subst. in Ps. civ. 25 ('wherein are things creeping innumerable').
22. As animate beings, the creatures just produced receive, not only the customary mark of Divine approval (v. 21 end), but a blessing, the terms of which shew that it is part of the Divine plan that they should increase and multiply in the earth. The purpose was similar in the creation of plants (v. 11) ; but no such permission is addressed to them, their growth and movement being spontaneous, and not controlled by a conscious will, as is the case, in a greater or less degree, with animate beings.
Be fruitful, and multiply. A combination 'characteristic of P
cf v. 28, viii. 17, ix. 1, 7, xvii. 20 al. (see the Introd. p. viii, No. 5)
24-31. The Sixth Day; the seventh and the eighth works. The creation of land-animals, and of man.
24. bring forth the living creature. Bring forth living soul (collectively) : see on v. 20.
kind (twice). Kinds.. so v. 25. In this and the next verse, three prominent classws of terrestrial animals are specified, as representing the whole (cf. v. 11).
cattle. Heb. behemah (lit., as Eth. shews, that which is dumb), i.e. large quadrupeds, sometimes (esp. when opposed to 'man') including wild animals (as vi. 7, 20, vii. 23) ; but often, as here, referring more particularly to domestic animals (cf. xxxiv. 23, xlvii. 18).
creeping thing. Heb. remes, i.e. things which 'move along the ground either without feet, or with imperceptible feet ' (Dillm) i.e. reptiles (lizards, snakes, &c.), a class of animal very abundant in the East, and small creatures with more than four feet. So vv. 25, 26, vi. 7, 20, vii. 14, 23, viii. 17, 19 ; 1 K. iv. 33 ; Hos. ii. 18 al. ; of. the cognate verb, Lev. xi. 44 (read 'creepeth' for RV. moveth)1, xx. 25 (RVm.)
beast of the earth. Lit. 'living things (= ) of the earth,' i.e. which roam on the wide earth, = wild animals: so vv. 25, , 30, ix. 2, 10; 1 S. xvii. 46; Ps. lxxix. 2 al. In ii. 19, 20, iii. 1, 14, the expression used is 'beast (living thing) of the field.'
1 But RV. 'creep' in Lev. xi. should throughout be 'swarm': see the footnote on p. 12; and of. CREEPING THiNGS in DB
the earth after its kind: and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth after its kind, and the cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the ground after its kind: and God saw that it was good. 26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness : and let them have
25. How God gave offect to His command. The verse is related to v. 24, as v. 21 to v. 20, vv. 16-18 to vv. 14, 15, and v. 7 to v. 6.
26, 27. The creation of man. The creation of man is introduced with solemnity : it is the result of a special deliberation on the part of God, and man is a special expression of the Divine nature.
Let us make man. The plural in God's mouth (which occurs other
wise in the entire OT. only xi. 7; Is. vi. 8-for ch. iii. 22 is evidently difierent) is remarkable and has been variously explained. (1) The general Jewish interpretation, and also that of some Christians (notably Delitzsch), is that God is represented as including with Himself His celestial court (1 K. xxii. 19 f. ; Is. vi. 8 ; Ps. lxxxix 5, 6, &c.), and consulting with them, before creating the highest of His works, man1. The words of the text seem however clearly to imply that those who are included in the 1st pers. pl. are invited to take part in the creation of man, which, if they are angels, is not probable: Delitzsch's argument that it is not their co-operation, but only their sympathy, which is invited, implies a strained limitation of the expression used. (2) Others, especially the Fathers, have regarded the plural as expressing a plurality persons in the Godhead, and so as suggesting, at least by implication, the doctrine of the Trinity. But this is to anticipate a much later stage in the history of revelation. (3) Hebrew possesses what is called a 'plural of majesty': the words for 'lord,' 'master,' even when applied to a single person, are often for instance, plural (see e.g. xxxix. 20; Ex. xxi. 29, 34; Is. xix. 4), for the purpose of conveying the ideas of dignity and greatness; the usual Hebrew word for 'God' ('Elohim) is similarly, as a rule, plural (indicative, no doubt, of the fulness of attributes and powers conceived as united in the Godhead): hence (Dillm., Perowne) it might well be that, on a solemn occasion like this, when God is represented as about to create a being in His own 'image,' and to impart to him a share in that fulness of soverein prerogatives possessed by Himself, He should adopt this unusual and significant mode of expression.
1 Cf. Pesikta 34a (ed. Buber), God took counsel with the ministering angels, and said unto them, Let us make,'&c.: similarly in the Targ. Pa.Jon. on this verse. Comp. the later Jewish saying (Edersheim, Life and Times, II. 749), 'God never does anything, without first consulting the family above.'
in our image, after our likeness. Of the two words used, 'image' (1 S. vi. 5 ; Dan. iii. 1, &c.; but not used elsewhere in the sense of 'resemblance,' except in the parallels, v. 27, v. 3, ix. 6) suggests, perhaps, more particularly the idea of material resemblance, 'likeness' (Ez. i. 5, 10, 13, 16, &c. ; and ch. v. 1, 3), that of an immaterial
dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every
resemblance: but the distinction cannot be pressed1 : both words refer here evidently to spiritual resemblance alone; and the duplication of synonyms is intended simply to emphasize the idea of resemblance (cf the duplications in x. 5, 20, 31, 32, xxv. 16).
What however is meant by the 'image of God,' which man is thus said to bear? It is (1) something which evidently forms the ground and basis of his entire preeminence above animals; (2) it is something which is transmitted to his descendants (v. 1, 3, ix. 6), and belongs therefore to man in general, and not solely to man in a state of primitive innocence; (3) it relates, from the nature of the case, to man's immaterial nature. It can be nothing but the gift of selfconscious reason, which is possessed by man, but by no other animal. In all that is implied by this, in the various intellectual faculties possessed by him; in his creative and originative power, enabling him to develop and make progress in arts, in sciences, and in civilization generally; in the power of rising superior to the impulses of sense, of subduing and transforming them of mounting to the apprehension of general principles, and of conceiving intellectual and moral ideals; in the ability to pass beyond ourselves, and enter into relations of love and sympathy with our fellow-men; in the possession of a moral sense, or the faculty of distinguishing right and wrong; in the capacity for knowing God, and holding spiritual communion with Him,- man is distinguished fundamentaly from other animals2, and is allied to the Divine nature; so that wide as is the interval separating him from the Creator, he may nevertheless, so far as his mental endowments are concerned, be said to be an 'image,' or adumbration, of Him. From the same truth of human nature, there follows aho the possibility of God being revealed in man (John i. 1-14). Comp. in the NT. 1 Cor. xi. 7, Jas. iii. 9 ; and the application of the same figure to the spiritual formation of the 'new man,' Col. iii. 10 (cf. Eph iv. 24). See also Ecclus. xvii. 3 ff. ; Wisd. ii. 23.
and let them have dominion &c. . In virtue of the powers implied in their being formed in God's 'image,' all living beings upon the earth are given into their hand. Cf. Ps. viii. 5 ff., 'For thou hast made him lack but little of (being) God [viz. by the powers conferred upon him ) and thou crownest him with glory and state: Thou makest him to rule over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.'
and over all the earth. Pesh. 'and over all the beasts of the earth' (v. 25). The word () has probably dropped out accidentally (Dellm. al)1
1 Notice in v. 27, ix. 6 'image' alone, and in v. 1 'likeness' alone. LXX., inserting Kal, accentuate the distinction unduly, and led some of the Fathers to endeavour fruitlessly to distinguish from . Cf. Oehler, Theol. of OT. § 68.
2 It is true, some of the faculties mentioned are possessed, in a limited degree, by animals: but in none of them are they coupled with self-conscious reason; and hence they do not form a foundation for the same distinctive character
creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them: and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that 1moveth upon the earth. 29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed ; to you it shall be for meat : 30 and to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is 2life,
1 Or, creepeth 2 Heb. a living soul.
28. The Blessing on man. The blessing is analogous to the one in v. 22 (see also ix. 1-7) , but ampler in its terms: man may not only 'be fruitful and multiply,' but, in accordance with the Creator's purpose (v. 26), 'subdue' the earth, and subject to himself its living inhabitants.
replenish. Fill,- which indeed was the meaning of 'replenish' in Old Englis , and is what is intended here. In the Heb. the word is exactly the same as the one rendered 'fill' in v. 2. So ix. l.
subdue. The word (kabash, -properly tread down) is used of the subjugation of a conquered territory, Nu. xxxii. 22; Josh. xviii. 1.
29, 30. Provision made for the food of men (v. 29), and other terrestrial animals and birds (v. 30) : men are to have as food the seed and fruit of plants; terrestrial animals and birds are to have the leaves. The food of men and animals is thus part of a Divine order. The details are however given in only the broadest outline; nothing for instance is said respecting the food of aquatic animals, or of milk and honey; the aim of the verse is simply to define, with reference to v. 11 f, how the different kinds, of plants there mentioned may be utilized for food.
29. for meat. For food. 'Meat' in Old English was not restricted, as it is with us, to the fiesh of animals; it meant food in general. The archaism has been sometimes elsewhere retained in RV., as 1 K. xix. 8 ; Ps. 1xix. 21 ; Is. lxii. 8 ; Joel i. 16.
30. life. A living souL See on v. 20.
1 Ovid's description of the creation of man (Met. I. 76 ff.) is worth quoting: Sanctius his animal mentisque capacius altae Deerat adhuc, et quod dominari in caetera posset....Finxit in effigiem moderantum cuncta deorum. Pronaque auum spectent animalia caetera terram, Os homini sublime dedit; caelumque videre Iussit, et erectos ad sidera tollere vultus.'
I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. 31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
II. 1 And the heaven and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his
every green herb for meat. Rather, all the green of herbs (i.e.
the leaves)for food.
The condition of things presupposed in v. 30 is inconsistent with the evidence of palaeontology which makes it certain that carnivorous animals existed upon the earth long before the appearance of man, and that these 'preyed upon one another, precisely as the same species or their successors do now.' The truth is, the writer portrays an ideal. 'Animal food can only be had at the cost of animal life, and the taking of animal life seemed to him to be a breach of the Divine order, which from the beginning provides only for the continuance and maintenance of life' (Perowne, Expositor, Feb. 1891, P. 129). Hence he represents both men and animals as subsisting at first only on vegetable food (animal food, according to the same writer, is first permitted to man in ix. 2)1.
31. The closing verdict on the entire work of creation. The work of each particular day is good: the combination of works, each discharging rightly its own function, and at the same time harmonizing as it should do with the rest, is characterized as very good. As has been a note of Divine satisfaction runs through the whole
narrative, and it reaches its climax here; but the severe simplicity and self-control of the writer does not allow it to find any stronger expression than this. Contrast the more exuberant tone of Ps. civ. 31.
Cf. 1 Tim. iv. 4 ('for every creature of God is good' &c.).
II.1-3. The Seventh Day. The rest of God.
1. host. The word means an army (xxi. 22 &c.) ; and the expression 'host of heaven' occurs frequently, denoting sometimes the stars (Dt. iv. 19), sometimes the angels (1 K. xxii. 19), both being conceived as forming an organized and disciplined body. The term is used here, exceptionally, with reference to the earth, by a species of attraction. The 'host' of heaven and earth means all the component items of which they consist, whether mentioned expressly or not in ch. i.,- conceived as constituting an organized whole.
2. finished. The 'finishing' is regarded as a separate, substantive act and assigned accordingly to a separate day: God formally brought His work to its close by not continuing it on the seventh day, as He had done on each of the preceding days.
1 The idea that in the 'Golden Age' the first men lived only on vegetable food is found also in classical writers.. see e. g. Plato, Legg. vi. 782 c; Ovid, Met. x. 103-6. xv. 96-103, Fasti iv. 395 ff.
work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3 And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it: because that in it he rested from all his work which God had created and made.
his work which he had made [twice]. Better, his business which he had done,-i.e. the work of creation which He had set Himself. Melachah means work appointed, or imposed (e.g. Nu. iv. 3); it is the word used regularly of the 'work' or 'business' forbidden on the sabbath (Ex. xx. 9, 10, xxxv. 2; Jer. xvii. 22, 24, al.).
rested. Better, desisted. Shabath means (see viii. 22 ; Is. xiv. 4) to desist, cease (of. Arab. sabata, to cut of, interrupt): so that what the verse predicates of God is not the positive 'rest' of relaxation (Heb. nuah) but the negative 'cessation' from activity1. The former idea is however found elsewhere in the same connexion, as in the Decalogue (Ex. xx. 11), 'and rested on the seventh day,' and Ex. xxxi. 17 . (P), 'and on the seventh day he desisted and was refreshed [lit. took breath].' In the verb used (shabath) there is an evident allusion to the 'sabbath' (properly shabbath).
3. blessed ... and hallowed it. Distinguished it from ordinary days (Sir. xxxiii. 7-9), by attaching special blessings to its observance, and by setting it apart for holy uses. Cf. Ex. xx. 8, 11b ; Jer. xvii. 22, 24, 27 ; Is. lviii. 13. The remark is made in view of the later institution of the sabbath (Ex. xx. 8-11 &c.) as a day sacred to Jehovah; for there is no indication or hint of its being observed as such in pre-Mosaic times.
because that in it he desisted from all his business, in doing which God had created, i.e. which he had creatively done. The expression characterizes God's work as a creative work.
The formula which marks the close of each of the first six days is absent in the case of the seventh day : and hence it has been sometimes supposed that the 'rest' of the seventh day was to be regarded as extending indefinitely through the whole of history. It is doubtful however whether this view is correct. The 'day,' to which in v. 2 the 'rest' is distinctly aaigned, will be understood naturally in the same sense as in the case of the six preceding 'days' and the work from which God is represented as 'resting' or 'desisting' is not work 'in general, but only creative work. The idea of the writer seems to have been that God's sabbath intervened between the close of His work of creation and the commencement of what in modern phraseology is usualy termed His sustaining providence. The sabbath by which God is said to have closed His work of creation is thus a type of the weekly
recurring sabbath of the later Israelites. The truth that God's
sustaining providence is operative on the sabbath, not less than on
other days (Jn. v. 17), is of course tacitly presupposed by the writer, but he does not explicitly refer to it. See further on the Sabbath p. 34 f.
I Cf. Ex. xxiii. 12 (E) 'On the seventh day thou shalt desist, that thy ox and thy ass may rest, and the son of thy bondwoman, and thy sojourner [resident foreigner], may be refreshed [lit. may take breath]'; xxxiv. 21 (both times 'desist').
4 These, are the generations of the heaven and of the earth when they were created,
4a. These are ... created. The subscription to the preceding narrative, supposed by many critics to have originally stood, perhaps without 'when thye were created,' as the superscription to i. 1, and to have been transferred here by the compiler of the book'. See further the Introd. pp. ii, vi, viii (No. 9).
generations. Lit. begettings (quite a different word from the one used in xvii. 7, 9, &c.); hence (successive) generations, especially as arranged in a genealogy (v. 1, x. 1, xi. 10), also, somewhat more generally., particulars about a man and his descendants (vi. 9, xi. 27, xxv. 19). Here the word is applied metaphorically to 'heaven and earth'., and it will denote, by analogy, particularrs respecting heaven and earth and the things which might be regarded metaphorically as proceeding from them,-i.e. just the contents of ch. i.
The student should examine, and compare with the preceding narrative,
other passages of Scripture containing thoughts or lessons suggested by the religious contemplation of nature: for instance, Am. iv. 13, v. 8, ix. 6; Jer.xxxii. 17 ; II Isaiah xl. 12-14, 21-2, 26, 28. xlii. 5, xlv. 7, 12, 18 ; Jer. x. 12 f; Ps. viii., xix. 1-6, xxxiii. 6-9, cii. 25,, civ. (the 'Poem of Creation,'), cxxxvi. 5-9, cxlviii; Pr. iii. 19 f, viii. 22-31 ; Job ix. 8 f., xxvi. 5-13, and especially the two chapters, xxxvii-xxxix.; Wisd. xiii. 3-5; Jn. i 1-5; Rom. i. 20; Col i. 16; HeL i. 2, 3, xi. 3; Rev. iv. 11.
1 'These' may point indifferently forwards (as x. 1) or backwards (as x. 32) ; but the corresponding formula stands everywhere else as the superscription to the section which follows (see v. 1, vi. 9, x. 1, xi. 10, 27, &c.).
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