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Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished. This sentence does not refer to the arrangements which have just been described as made on the six days. It is merely a recapitulation of the opening statement, that God was the Creator of all things in the universe, in connection with the fact, which was about to be put on record, that He established the present system of things on earth in that specified time. [All ambiguity in the import of clause would been avoided had our translators, instead of "thus" taken the [wª-] in its usual sense, 'and,' as simply connecting this sentence with the preceding context.]
The host of them. [ Tsªbaa'aam (H6635) signifies a multitude, a numerous array-usually applied to heavenly bodies; but in this passage-the only one in Scripture-it is connected with earthly objects also. It is rendered by the Septuagint, kosmos (G2889), and denotes both the vast amount and the orderly collocation of all things which the heavens and the earth contain.]
And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made. Some commentators render it 'and God had ended,' as if the verb were in the pluperfect tense. But the future is never so used. Instead of "the seventh day," the Samaritan codex, the Syriac and the Septuagint versions, have 'the sixth day'-a change in reading obviously made with a view to avoid inference which the present text seems to imply, that God continued to prosecute his work on "the seventh day." But as that alteration is unsupported by MSS. testimony, the text must be adhered to; and though the language is loose, it is impossible to misapprehend its purport-namely, that by 'God's ending on the seventh day the work which he had made,' is meant that the work was brought to a termination when the seventh day arrived.
And he rested - not to repose from labour, through exhaustion with fatigue (see Isaiah 40:28), but, simply, he ceased from working; not, however, from the providential government of the world-for that has been carried on with uninterrupted regularity (John 5:17) - nor from all exercise of creative power, but only from the arrangements connected with the introduction of the new system of things He had been establishing in this world.
And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
Blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it. On the creation of the various orders of aquatic and terrestrial animals God "blessed" them (Genesis 1:22; Genesis 1:28), and the repetition of this formula in the present instance indicates that the event referred to formed a continuous part of the same series of transactions. To "sanctify" a thing or a period of time is to set it apart from a common to a sacred use; and hence, its sanctification was a special distinction put upon the seventh day above the other six days-clearly meaning that it was to be consecrated to a religious purpose. The institution of the Sabbath is thus as old as creation; and the fact of its high antiquity, its being coeval with the existence of the human race, demonstrates the universality and permanence of its obligation. The fuller consideration of this subject we postpone to the close of the section.
Meanwhile, it may be briefly observed, that the appointment of a Sabbath appears a wise and beneficent law, affording that regularly recurring interval of rest which the physical nature of man and the animals employed in his service requires, and the continued or habitual 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 in their fallen state have a strong tendency to forget God and His claims?
It only remains to ascertain what is the sense in which the word "day" is to be understood; whether it is used in the common meaning of the term, as denoting a revolution of 24 hours; or it must be considered as pointing in this narrative to periods of indefinite duration.
Assuredly, since the Bible was given for the instruction and benefit of mankind, it must be considered as employing words in the acceptation which they usually bear in the conversation of life; and this ride is in no case to be departed from, unless the general tenor of the context, or some special circumstances, imperatively demand a deviation. Now, the word "day" is very frequently used in Scripture in a vague, undefined sense, to denote a period of protracted duration, as "the day of the Lord," "the day of vengeance," "that day," "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day;" and many contend that it must here be interpreted in a similarly extensive sense, as denoting some vast period of time, perhaps hundreds or thousands of years. But although the word is used in Scripture, as we often apply it in ordinary life, in such a loose and general manner, it seems necessary, in accordance with the principles of correct criticism, to consider whether such a figurative use of the term is admissible in a plain, sober narrative, without any intimation; and especially whether the historian has not mentioned circumstances which define the meaning to be attached to the word he employed.
Now, that the Hebrew word, yowm (H3117), translated "day" denotes the period during which light prevails over the surface of the globe may be fairly deduced from the text, "God called the light Day." This period is mentioned six times as a "day" limited by an 'evening and a morning.' The word is used apparently in its ordinary acceptation, to denote an interval of time comprising an alternation of darkness and of light; and, undoubtedly, by the regular recurrence of the same formula, specifying the evening and morning as the limits of this interval, an impression is made upon the readers mind that the creative week consisted of six natural periods, each exactly the same in duration as our present day. A careful examination of the sacred record, however, will show that the word "day" is, in the course of this brief narrative, applied on different occasions to periods of unknown length, all distinguished by the prevalence of light.
Thus, in Genesis 1:5 the evening of the first day comprised the whole of that indefinite period during which "darkness was upon the face of the deep;" and as the "morning" might be of proportionate extent, it is impossible, in the absence of all data, to ascertain authoritatively the length of the first day, which transpired before the sun was visible. In Genesis 1:14 "day," stands for the period of light, as derived from the sun; and, lastly, the sabbath is called a "day," though no evening is spoken of.
Thus, though the word is uniformly employed by Moses to denote a period distinguished by the presence of light, it does not serve to mark the duration of that period except in one case alone, where it unquestionably means a natural day. In the three first acts of the creative work it designates intervals whose duration is undefined, since they could not be determined by sunrise or sunset; but in the three latter parts of that process, it has been naturally inferred, from the sun having entered on his office, that the days are to be reckoned as embracing a similar interval With our own. No express declaration, indeed, to that effect is made, but the terms of the fourth commandment, which in the reason assigned for its observance (Exodus 20:11), contains an epitome of this chapter, appear so plainly to support the literality of the days, that the record of creation has been almost universally interpreted conformably to this standard. Such is the common view of the Christian, as it was of the Jewish Church. But several of the most eminent Fathers, such as Origen, Augustine, and others, looking to the specialties of the Mosaic narrative, have, on critical grounds alone, advocated its interpretation by lengthened periods; and many of the greatest Biblical scholars among the moderns have maintained the same opinion, under a belief that the discoveries of geology have rendered the adoption of this hypothesis unavoidable. They are desirous to make the language of the sacred narrative harmonize with physical facts, and in this way reconcile the claim of philology and theology with the demands of geological science.
They differ, however, about the interpretation to be put upon the word "day." Some think that it denotes six classes of natural phenomena; others, that it stands figuratively for lengthened periods; while a third party are of opinion that, though used by the historian in a literal sense, it was employed by the Spirit of inspiration symbolically, because Moses, when he recorded those primeval events, of which he could have no personal knowledge, and in narrating which he employed the language of common life, was a prophet of the past, as truly as Daniel was a prophet of the future; and as the latter, when he spoke of days, was, under the influence of inspiration, made to describe events in coming eras, so Moses, when he wrote of the days of creation, was led unconsciously to use language which, while it was plain and literal, was at the same time symbolical of vast epochs. By putting such a liberal construction on the inspired record, they hope to adapt its brief and general statements, which were sufficient for the instruction of a rude and early age, to the views of an advanced state of society, and to show that beneath its archaic simplicity of style there underlies a store of philosophic truths, which, when unfolded, place the testimony of God in the volume of revelation in exact accordance with that which He has given in the book of nature.
The hypothesis of long or indefinite periods proceeds upon the assumption that the narration of Moses describes the whole process of creation, from the first germ of matter to the completion of the work in the formation of man; and that the series of creative acts detailed in this record harmonize in number as well as in order, with the great geologic eras. The following is a summary sketch of the results obtained by a comparison of Scripture with geology:
(1) Light is declared by Moses to have been the work of the first day; and modern science has demonstrated that the first result of chemical or molecular action in the chaotic mass must necessarily have been the production of light. 'Without molecular action,' says Dana, 'there could be neither heat nor light. Matter in an inactive, forceless state, would be literally dark, cold, dead. But let it be endowed with intense attraction of different degrees or conditions, and it would produce light as the first effect of the mutual action then begun.' The command, 'Let light be,' was therefore the summons to activity in matter. The Spirit of God moved or brooded over the vast deep-an abyss of universal night-and light, as the initial phenomenon of matter in action, flashed instantly through space at the fiat of Deity.
Thus, science, in its latest developments, declares as distinctly as the Bible, that on the first day 'light was.' The facts elicited on this subject by the brilliant experiments of Arago and others tend to show that, not only mere space, but even the dense forms of matter, are pervaded by a luminiferous medium, by whose undulatory movements the phenomena of light are produced, and that its pre-existence was necessary to the luminous functions of the sun. Since its vibrations can be excited by many physical causes, there is no difficulty in conceiving that the alternations of light and darkness, constituting the evening and morning of the three days, might have taken place as related by the sacred historian; and, consequently, that there is no room for the cavil so strangely revived in the present day ('Essays and Reviews'), that light is represented by Moses as existing before the radiance of the sun had shone upon the terraqueous ball.
(2) The second day's work was the formation of an atmosphere; and from the view which geology has given of the primeval state of the globe, as a ball of fire or molten metal surrounded by an accumulation of heated vapour, which, when the surface had cooled, enveloped it with deep water, the state of its atmosphere, in respect to composition and density, must have been altogether unfavourable either to the transmission of light or to the maintenance of vegetable and animal life. It was necessary, therefore, in this preliminary stage of the creative work, to give the atmosphere its proper constitution; and if we think, as Humboldt has remarked, 'of the many processes which may have been in operation on the early crust of the globe, in the successive separation of solid, liquid, and gaseous substances, we shall be impressed with a view of how possible it must have been that we should have been subjected to conditions and circumstances very different from those which we actually enjoy.' But by the work of the second day the globe was encompassed on all sides by an invisible fluid, called the atmosphere, which accompanies it both in its daily and annual course, reaching to the summits of the loftiest mountains, and penetrating its deepest cavities.
It is of such essential importance to the continuance of animal and vegetable life that wherever its purity is in any degree tainted, inconvenience and suffering are proportionally felt, and wherever it is entirely excluded, the most fatal consequences immediately ensue. It is of time greatest utility, in other respects, because carrying on the most vital functions of nature, not only by its elasticity, by which it is capable of great expansion and rarefaction, but also by its density, because, rising as it does to the height of 45 miles above the earth's surface, it exerts, of course, no small pressure on its contents, and by that means performs an office without which the course of nature would be liable to the most serious derangements, sustaining the clouds, and being the vehicle of the winds, rain, and snow.
It is the pressure of the atmosphere that reflects the light as well as tempers the rays of the sun, and that gives its clearness and brightness to the sky. It is the pressure of the atmosphere that prevents the intense heat of the sun from turning all the waters on the surface of the earth into vapour; and it is the same property, which pressing, according to the nature of fluids, equally in every direction, enables man to support a burden which would otherwise be insupportable to his delicate frame.
(3) On the third day the earth began to assume the form of a terraqueous globe, and geology traces out the successive steps by which that result was effected. Since the world was at first surrounded by a universal ocean, it follows that, before terrestrial tribes, whether of plants or animals, were created, the globe must have been of necessity the theater of various catastrophes, by which the uniform crust of the earth was raised above the waters, and a state of things established more or less analogous to that which geography now presents to us. It was necessary that 'the dry land should appear.' 'Extensive observation,' says Lardner ('Pre-Adamite Earth'), 'on the crust of the earth proves that such forms were not assumed definitely and permanently at once, but that they underwent a long succession of changes, in the course of which the outlines of land were frequently varied; what was land at one time became the bottom of the ocean at another, and what was the bottom of the ocean at one time, rising to the surface, assumed the forms of continents and islands at another. It would be easy to show, by an analysis of the effects produced by such a succession of catastrophes, that they all tended to one definite end-namely, the final adaptation of the earth as a dwelling-place for the human race and its contemporaneous tribes.'
The primitive rocks are called Azoic, because no traces of fossils have been found in them, and geology proves that large areas of those rocks were "dry land" before animal life began on the earth. A subsequent part of the work on the third day was the introduction of vegetation, and the creation of this form of organic life before the appearance of the sun was frequently dwelt upon, to the disparagement of the Mosaic record. Geology has shown that the plant kingdom was instituted, in the latter part of the Azoic age; and 'this,' in the words of Dana, 'was one of the mysterious facts in creation until the recent revelations of science. Now we know that the prime mission of vegetation is physical, the removal from the atmosphere of a deadly gas (carbonic acid), and the supply to it of one eminently a supporter of life (oxygen). This it accomplishes by the simple process of growth; upon this great end its vital functions and structures are based; this single criterion distinguishes all plants from animals. Serving as the food of animals, and giving joy, by its beauty, to the human soul, are only concomitant ends of vegetation.
Moses, in announcing the creation of vegetation, describes plants in general. But the institution of the vegetable kingdom was the great event; and according to the testimony of the rocks, vegetation was for a long age only Algae, seaweeds; then, in the carboniferous period, a luxuriant vegetation, chiefly belonging to the cryptogamic classes, of which the coal measures were formed, covered the earth-herbage, flowerless trees, along with the pine tribe (Coniferae), which are almost flowerless; and not until the latest age in the course of the creative process did trees of our common genre, oaks, elms, palms, etc., begin to diversify the earth's surface. The fact that vegetation subserved an important purpose in the coal period, in ridding the atmosphere of carbonic acid, because the subsequent introduction of land animals, suggests a valid reason for believing that the same great purpose, the true purpose of vegetation, was effected through the ocean before the waters were fitted for animal life.'
(4) The earth, which is spoken of in a popular form as of so great importance that 'the great lights' were placed in the firmament for its special accommodation and benefit, has been as ascertained by science to be only the 2,480th part of the bulk of some of the other planets; while the sun, which was appointed to rule our day, is 300,000 times larger than the earth's mass. Moses declares that the heavenly bodies were "made" on the fourth. That they were not then created has been already shown (see the notes at Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:14-19). This appears further from the fact that, whether, according to the theory of La Place, they originated from one common mass of nebulous matter, which, in the course of revolving round its axis, broke off rings, which became separate and solid planets; or, by whatever means the earth and its sister planets came within the central influence of the sun, they form parts of a grand planetary system, so that the sun and moon must have been in their places when the earth was established.
And with regard to the stars, many of which appear as small specks, and others are seen only though the aid of the telescope, though they are themselves suns, some of them 900 times larger than the globe we dwell in, and yet so distant that their light has not yet reached our world, it can be demonstrated with mathematical precision from the known rate at which light travels-namely, 186,000 miles in one second of time-that multitudes of stars existed, not only prior to the commonly received era of creation, but in the depths of an amazingly remote antiquity. Thus, as a ray of light takes a time to pass from a luminous object to us in proportion to the distance, it is obvious, that while looking to that object, we behold it, not as it is at the moment of observation, but as it was at the emanation of the ray.
On this principle, since light comes from the moon to the earth in a second and a quarter, we see her, not as she is at the moment of our perceiving her disc, but as she was one and a quarter seconds after she has risen. The sun, also, when he appears to us to have just passed the horizon, has already passed it by eight minutes. So in like manner of the planets and fixed stars. Sirius, the nearest of the fixed stars, is situated at such a distance that it is six years and four months before light from it reaches the earth - i:e., Sirius, as seen by us, appears as it was six years and four months previously. Sir William Herschel brought out, by the power of his forty-foot reflector, that the brilliant nebulae are distant from our system by a number of miles which he expressed as somewhat more than eleven and three-quarter millions of millions of millions of miles! Hence, it follows, that when we see an object at the calculated distance at which one of these very remote nebulae may still be perceived, the rays of the light which convey its image to the eye must have been more than nineteen hundred and ten thousand, that is almost two million, of years on their way: and that, consequently, so many years ago this object must already have had an existence in the sidereal heavens, in order to send out those rays by which we now perceive it ('Philosophic Transactions,' quoted in Pye Smith's 'Geology'.)
Moreover, modern science has proved the truth of Moses' declaration that the sun and moon were "made" luminaries, because both of them are opaque bodies, the moon deriving a borrowed light from the sun, and the sun itself from a luminous atmosphere by which it is surrounded. The emission of such vast stores of light and heat as this central orb has for so many thousands of years communicated to the earth, as well as its other attendant planets, must have diminished or exhausted its substance, if the Creator, who "made" it for these important purposes, had not provided the natural means of continually repairing the waste. And this source of supply arises, according to a recent theory which has found much favour, from the enormous number of asteroids or meteors that fill the solar space. 'In November,' says Professor Tyndall, 'these often appear in the nocturnal sky, falling as thick as snow-flakes; 240,000 were calculated to have been observed in one night, during nine hours' observation; hundreds of thousands of millions may be said to fall during the year, and even these would constitute but a small portion of the total crowd of asteroids that circulate round the sun.
Here, then, we have an agency competent to restore his lost energy to the sun, and to maintain a temperature at his surface which transcends all terrestrial combustion. The very quality of the solar rays-their incomparable penetrative power-enables us to infer that the temperature of their origin must be enormous; but in the fall of asteroids upon its surface we find the means of producing such a temperature. Without doubt, the whole surface of the sun displays an unbroken ocean of fiery fluid matter. On this ocean rests an atmosphere of glowing gas-a flame atmosphere. But gaseous substances, when compared with solid ones, emit, when their temperature is very high, only a feeble and transparent light. Whence it is probable that the dazzling white light of the sun comes through the atmosphere, from the more solid portions of the surface.' The dense vapours in which the earth was in its early state enveloped had concealed from its surface the splendour of the celestial orbs; and whether it was by a change in the constitution of the atmosphere, or by some unknown operation, they were caused to appear for the first time on that day, the sun exerts so potent and indispensable an influence on all nature, both on land and in the sea, especially on the activity and growth of living creatures, that its manifestation, so pertinent at the commencement of the organic history of the earth, is a very remarkable circumstance.
'Thus, at last,' says Dana, 'we learn, through modern scientific research, that the appearance of light on the first day, and of the sun on the fourth-an idea foreign to man's unaided conceptions-is as much in the volume of nature as that of sacred writ.' "The lights in the firmament" were "for seasons and for days," etc. The researches of geology have established the fact that the climate of the pre-Adamite earth was very different from that of our own period. One uniform high temperature prevailed over all the earth at the poles, no less than at the equator. Whatever may have been the cause of the change, whether it was produced by astral influences, or from an alteration on the axis of the earth, it seems to be a fact universally established among geologists, that the climate of the old world was very dissimilar to that which we experience.
Now, this confirms the statement of the Mosaic record, that our present seasons, summers and winters, days and nights, had their beginning; and geology coincides in bearing testimony that the human period is distinguished by a different climate, variations of seasons, and, it may be, a difference also in the duration of day and night from the pre-Adamite ages.
(5) The sea, as stated by Moses, was the first scene of animal life; and geology has not only shown that the earliest living creatures were of aqueous origin, but from the swarming myriads of marine fossils that lie imbedded in the rocks, it bears the strongest testimony to the truth of the sacred narrative, which declares that "the waters brought forth abundantly." This new and important step in the process of creation was taken at an epoch when the "dry land" had but partially emerged; and though the great outlines of the continents had distinctly appeared, the sea still overspread the largest portion of the globe. But although the seas now began to be tenanted by creatures which, by constitution and habits, were fitted to live in a liquid element, it is necessary to observe, that the various tribes which have been found inhabitants of the waters were not created simultaneously, but at different times, and in a progressive order. The first were neither numerous nor of a high organization, because the temperature of the earth, uniform in all latitudes, was still too elevated, the atmosphere too impure and the waters too turbid, because the higher forms of organic life. The earliest examples of life in the growing earth belonged to the great primary divisions of animal forms, the Radiata, Mollusca, Articulata, and Vertebrata. These all appeared about the same time; but the lowest class of them chiefly abounded.
Thus, of the Radiata (or Zoophytes, as they have been called from two Greek words, intimating that they form a link between vegetables and animals), corals, star-fish, monads, sponges; of Mollusca, snails, oysters, mussels; of the Articulata, or annulated, insects, spiders, crabs, lobsters, shrimps, leeches. Next came fish, which commenced the series of Vertebrata. These were confined to the Placoid and Ganoid orders, whose characteristics, consisting in the great length of the spinal column, as well as in the peculiar shape of the lobe of the tail, determine the precise part of the epoch at which they appeared. Afterwards appeared the first land animals, in the shape of Amphibia, comprehending the inferior classes of Reptilia, as frogs, salamanders, and such like, which are furnished with gills, that connect them with fish. These, again, were succeeded by a vast variety of gigantic reptiles, which formed a higher order of Vertebrata than fish, as they breathe by lungs.
The principal of these were Saurians (from the Greek word sauros, a lizard) - so called from their lizard-like shape, some of which, larger than whales, plied in the seas, as the ichthyosaurus; while others of those scaly monsters crawled on the land, as the megalosaurus, iguanodon, and hylaeosaurus; and a third variety, such as the pterodactyle, was furnished with wings and capable of flying in the air. At a later period of the palaeozoic age, when those huge animals had reached their maximum, and begun to decline, other forms of Reptilia appeared, such as the Chelonians (tortoises), and some orders of birds, such as the waders or web-footed. Reptiles and birds were the dominant races of this period. The series above mentioned comprise the Silurian, Devonian, and Reptilian eras of geology; but the living creatures which flourished during these respective periods, so strange in form and magnitude, and oviparous, were never seen by man except in a fossil state, as they are found only in the superior layers of transition rocks. They were swept away by a tremendous convulsion, which either suddenly enveloped them in the lower strata, or which, by opening fissures in the crust of the earth, so that a great quantity of its internal heat escaped, effected their death by a change of climate. The destruction of life by the revolution that closed the reptilian age was complete, because the immediate effects were universal over the earth; but, at the same time, it was subservient to an onward step in the process of creation, because this physical catastrophe, by producing a great change in the relative situations of land and water, brought about a lower temperature, and led, after tranquillity had been restored, to the introduction of a higher order of animals.
(6) The land having become more stable, the progressive creation of animal life was now about to reach its highest destiny by the appearance of Mammalia, whose name, expressive of the manner in which the young are reared, indicates a close relation of affection and dependence between the parent and its offspring. A few of the smaller mammals had appeared in the preceding period as prophetic types of the progress of creation; but it was only at this stage, when the great marine and amphibian eras had passed, that the age of quadrupeds began. The most remarkable feature of this period was the enormous pachyderms which fed on the exuberant vegetation of the plains and forests, being herbivorous, such as the dinotherium or the mastodon, twenty feet long and nine feet high-a giant compared to the modern buffalo. Then, while these were flourishing, there appeared also Carnivora-the mammoths and megatheria-in vast numbers, and of immense power, rendering the earlier parts of the tertiary age, when those monstrous mammals flourished, the reign of the brutes, which rioted in the wanton exercise of their great physical powers, and waged destructive war on the smaller and feebler tribes. Lions and tigers, hyaenas and bears, far larger in size, as well as far fiercer in temper, than any now in existence, prowled for their prey. These having declined, though not become entirely extinct, a new and smaller race of mammals was created, which would be of service to man.
'The continents,' says Dana, 'had long before had their marked characteristics; the Oriental (including Europe, Asia, and Africa), as the continent of Carnivora, the highest mammals; North America, of Herbivora, a tribe inferior to the Carnivora; South America, of the Sloth and Armadillo tribes (Edentata), still lower in rank; Australia, of the Kangaroo tribe, or Marsupials, the lowest of all quadrupeds for these were severally the characteristic races of the continents in the mammalian age. As the age of man opens, these parts of the world were still essentially the same in their tribes of mammals, though with new and smaller species: there is no sign of progress. The Oriental lands, on the contrary, which had so prominently taken the lead in the age of mammals, and even through the whole reptilian age preceding, may be said to have been marked out for the Eden of the world, ages previous to man's creation.'
The great end toward which all these previous changes had been preparatory was at length accomplished by the introduction of a race of rational and moral creatures into the world. The Mosaic record indicates a progressive course in the creation of living beings; and geology furnishes innumerable proofs that the advance was from the simplest to the highest order. Beginning with Molluscs and Zoophytes-which are merely sentient creatures-it went on to the production of other classes, which were furnished with greater powers of locomotion and more varied means of enjoying life. Some creatures had appeared in earlier stages endowed with sparks of intelligence and a low grade of reason; and latterly, in the various genre of mammals, there had been displayed feelings of dependence and affectionate relationship between dams and their cubs. But there was still lacking a creature possessed of a soul, capable of distinguishing between right and wrong, of looking before as well as after, and forming a link of connection between inferior classes of living beings in this world and higher orders of creation in others. A new order of existence, therefore, was necessary, which should exhibit the highest form of physical organization, united to the element of spirit, and by the appearance of man the copestone was laid on the work of creation.
On reviewing the brief sketch here given of the history of the pre Adamite earth and the progressive On reviewing the brief sketch here given of the history of the pre-Adamite earth, and the progressive development of organic life, it appears that a long series of ages elapsed ere the earth was brought into a state adapted to be the residence of its present occupants. The procedure of God in the fitting up of this earth, as in all other departments of His works, was progressive; and since, after the raw material was created "in the beginning," He chose, in His sovereign wisdom, to act upon it through the operation of those natural laws which He had imposed upon matter, it was only in the course of a slowly revolving duration, and by a frequent succession of great physical changes, external and internal, that this terrestrial ball was prepared for habitation and productiveness. From the first, the plan of creation pointed to the introduction of man as the crowning point, the ultimate stage of it; but the originally molten condition of the globe had to be gradually cooled down; and since, from the moment that organic life was begun on the earth, its surface was always occupied by vegetable and animal forms, adapted to its condition at the time; so in this cooling process, which the agency of many superficial convulsions was employed to effect, existing races inevitably perished or were swept away. However, as soon as a season of tranquillity returned, another order of flora and fauna was introduced, suited to the altered climate, and destined in turn to be exterminated by some new catastrophe. In this way the earth was reduced gradually from a warm to a cooler state, rendered fit for the maintenance of races of a superior order or more delicate organization, and brought into that mild and regulated temperature which is suited to its present, which is its most exalted, condition.
The following general observations are worthy of notice:
(1) In consequence of physical catastrophes which occurred at various periods of great but unknown distance, the external surface of the earth again and again underwent important modifications, and a new order of things was established in the world. This fact is distinctly traceable on its crust, which exhibits the appearance of progressive stratification in a series of layers imposed one above another in the most orderly arrangement, indicating that, at whatever rate the process of formation advanced, the deposits were made at consecutive periods, the lowest being the earliest, while every superincumbent group was of later date. No fewer than 29 or 30 such subterranean stages have been reckoned.
(2) Since each one of these strata contains a characteristic collection of organic remains, the inference is unavoidable that, during the geological era preceding its formation, the earth was stocked with an order of plants and animals different from those which existed at other periods, and constituting a distinct and independent creation. 'This inference is fully confirmed by the fact that, on comparing stage with stage, we do not find the successive faunae passing one into the other by slow and imperceptible degrees; but, on the contrary, we find between those of every two successive stages a distinct and unmistakable line of separation. In the superior layers of each stage the fauna peculiar to it totally disappears, as though it were annihilated by some universally destructive agency; and it is not until we arrive at the lowest or first layer of the succeeding stage that the next fauna appears, not gradually and successively, but suddenly and simultaneously over the whole extent of the globe, so far as geological observation has extended, and everywhere, from the equator to the poles, the same species are found in it' (Lardner's 'Pre-Adamite Earth').
(3) The different strata exhibit a progressively higher order of organic life: and this is tantamount to saying that at each succeeding geological epoch an advance was made in the preparation of the earth for the present economy. Not that the Creator, like an artist who adjusts his work by repeated efforts to his ideal standard of excellence, carried on His design in the same manner, by advancing it to a gradually increasing state of perfection from the first appearance of organic life in the world. There is no ground for the notion that the earliest forms of life were moulded according to a rude type, which in subsequent ages exhibited a progressive improvement in organization, because geological research has established the fact that all organisms were perfect at the first. But the plan of creation required that such sort of plants and animals should be called into being as were suited to the existing condition of the earth in each period; and hence, as these were swept away, the exterminations were succeeded by totally new races-for the destruction of vegetable and animal life was always universal, or nearly so. Upwards of 30,000 fossil remains of entirely extinct species have been observed. But when a new order of existences was established, in some rare and exceptional cases old forms of life also reappeared in creatures which had either survived the period of convulsion, and continued to propagate their kind, or were restored by the Creative Hand in all the departments that had once been introduced to the world-molluscs, corals, fish, reptiles, with or without variations.
Thus, a few creatures, whose whole races by cataclysmal action had been previously destroyed, were reinstated on earth as representatives of their respective classes. A few genre reach from the very first dawn of life to the existing period, forming continuous links in the great chain of creation: but they are very few, because in all the geological eras not more than one or two per cent of the species existing in the previous era reappeared. Each successive era was characterized by its own races of plants and animals, among the latter of which there was always one dominant class which has given to the period its distinctive name-the age of molluscs, of fish, of reptiles, of mammals; and each age exhibited a progressive development of organized forms, indicating the introduction of higher orders-from the simple to the more complex-from animals of the lowest grade to those of a more delicate frame, of more varied powers, or more direct bearing on the present era.
(4) The plants and animals of each successive period were distinct creations. Although during the continuance of that period the florae and faunae that flourished in it may have been propagated by the ordinary processes of nature, the case was very different when every form of existing life was exterminated by the frequent catastrophes of the early ages. In seeking the agency by which, in so many successive ages, a new vegetable and animal kingdom was called into existence, to occupy the place of that which had been destroyed, we are compelled as it has been philosophically and piously remarked, to acknowledge the limits of our intellectual powers, and to prostrate ourselves in reverence before that Omnipotence to whose agency alone these great creative acts can be assigned. In fact, geology, which was long accused of being unfavourable to religion, has rendered the greatest service to her cause by establishing the fact, that at every successive revolution in the history of the globe, as well as in every separate form of organic life, there is distinct and unmistakable evidence of the direct interposition of God.
We have given this extended, but yet necessarily very general exposition of the views that are taught by geology as to the age and progressive structure of the earth, because it is impossible, in the present day, to ignore them in an exposition of the first chapter of Genesis, and it would be neither wise, nor doing service to the cause of revealed truth, to neglect the advantages that may be gained for the illustration of the Word of God from an enlightened and enlarged study of His works. We have seen from the teachings of geology that not only is the earth of vast antiquity, but that God has been carrying on the plans of His all-wise and benevolent providence through a countless series of ages, and making it the scene on which stupendous revolutions have taken place, and myriads of creatures, diverse in form, character, and power, have in long succession flourished. We have found that destruction followed destruction, and creation followed creation, during all the succeeding periods that elapsed since the production of the earth's material up to that which immediately preceded the human epoch.
And now, what are the conclusions to which the facts of science lead us? Geologists who believe in the divine origin and truth of the Bible for the most part maintain that the narrative of Moses contains a popular narrative of the creation of this world from the beginning, and that the "days" must be considered to be the immense but indefinite ages through which the geological operations discovered in modern times were carried on. We accept the facts which geology has established as certain and universal truths, and consider that we are bound, in the spirit of sound Biblical criticism, to accommodate our interpretation of the written record in accordance with the manifest testimony of the rocks. But geology has not yet attained the character of a perfect science, nor are the opinions of all even her most eminent cultivators to be admitted as principles: and in no respect do we hesitate so much to receive their dogmas as in that of days meaning extended periods of in no respect do we hesitate so much to receive their dogmas as in that of days meaning extended periods of creation. For:
(1) Geologists are not agreed as to the point of time; and while their calculations are based on the assumption that there is a uniformity in the operations of nature, which are usually slow and progressive, it is manifest that this assumption must entirely fail at periods of physical convulsion, when latent powers in nature are brought out suddenly, and into intense action, making changes-as in the formation of islands, seas, and mountains-in a few hours or minutes, by earthquakes or eruptions, which it might take centuries, in the ordinary course of things, to effect.
(2) Since the surface of the earth has been subjected to frequent changes of land and water, the appearance of "dry land" which Moses describes would not, according to this theory, be the dry land of the present period.
(3) The creations described in the first chapter of Genesis must be either of the extinct species exclusively or of the living species exclusively. For the structure and habits of the species differ so much that they could not have been contemporaneous. All the species could not have been made at one period. There must have been one period for each species of plants, in connection with which there was a corresponding species of animals.
Even though it should be said that the Mosaic narrative describes merely the general characteristics of the vegetable and animal kingdoms, yet, as we have seen that geology teaches there was a long period when there were flowerless and fruitless trees, that could not be the time when "the earth brought forth the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit," nor the age of the monstrous herbivori, which are represented by the elephant and rhinoceros, be the period when were created the cattle of our epoch.
Hitchcock has stated these objections in a very forcible manner. 'The hypothesis of indefinite periods,' says he, 'assumes that Moses describes the creation of all the animals and plants that have ever lived on the globe. But geology decides that the species now living, since they are not found in the rocks any lower down than man is (with a few exceptions), could not have been contemporaries with those in the rocks, but must have been created when man was; that is, on the sixth day. Of such a creation no mention is made in Genesis. The inference is, that Moses does not describe the creation of the existing races, but only of those that lived thousands of years earlier, and whose existence was scarcely suspected until modern times.
Who will admit such an absurdity?-Influenced by the manifest defects of the period-theory, as well as by the exegesis of this chapter and of Exodus 20:11, we must adhere to the old traditionary opinion, which takes the days of creation in a literal sense; and we are led the more strongly to adhere to this view, as recent geological researches have given strong confirmation to it. The great difficulty felt on this subject relates to the point of time where the physical operations on the pre-Adamite earth which geologists have disclosed are to be brought in. Some of the most eminent geologists have declared their willingness to agree to the view which considers the geological changes as having occurred in the wide gap of time that separates the first verse of this chapter from the second, provided that it should be established that any adequate catastrophe had happened about the present epoch; and the desiderated discovery has been made. The important researches of
M.M. D`Orbigny and Eli de Beaumont, which have been brought before the English public in so popular a manner (Lardner's 'Pre-Adamite Earth'), demonstrate that immediately prior to the human period the earth did pass through the greatest convulsion which it had ever experienced. 'When the seas had settled in their new beds, and the outlines of the land were permanently defined, the latest and greatest act of creation was accomplished by clothing the earth with the vegetation which now covers it, peopling the land and water with the animal races which now exist, and calling into being the human race, appointed to preside over all living things, and to manifest the glory of the Creator by the development of attributes so exalted as to be described by the inspired author of Genesis as rendering man in a certain sense the image of his Maker.'
In this sense, then, we interpret the Mosaic record as the narrative of a special creation; and, considering that God has from the beginning of the world acted on a uniform plan, which has been developed by a succession of creative acts, we are prepared to find that this, the last and highest, which Revelation only has made known, would bear in several respects a close resemblance to those previous operations of a similar kind which geology has disclosed. As a work of creation it was a miracle, and might, so far as the manifestation of divine power was concerned, have been performed in a moment of time; or if God chose to extend it over a certain specified time, as the inspired historian declares, doubtless there were good and important reasons for that arrangement. 'The objection,' says Dr. Hamilton ('Pentateuch and its Assailants'), 'which is sometimes urged against the distribution of the several creative acts over six consecutive days, as though such distribution were unbecoming the wisdom and greatness of God, is utterly futile.
If God so willed it, as Moses relates, that the creative process should proceed at a certain rate only, and should occupy any one definite portion of time; or that it should continue and be repeated through successive portions; since His wisdom qualifies Him to discern what is best, so His Almighty power enables Him to carry out into execution the plan He approves, and to do it just when, and where, and as he approves.' 'I look upon the periods or eras of geological science,' says Ragg ('Creation's Testimony to its God'), as typical of the days of the Mosaic record, even as the first vertebrated skeleton was typical of man. For while the facts of the universe most clearly and fully accord with the literal interpretation of Scripture, I can see no reason for adopting a figurative one. Indeed, the whole bent of late scientific discovery seems to corroborate the views originally propounded by Chalmers and Hitchcock, that the days are literal days; that there is a chasm of indefinite ages between the first and second verses of Genesis; and that the history of creation given in the third and succeeding verses is that of the last creation or collocation only.'
Viewed in this light, the Scripture cosmogony does not, strictly speaking, come within the domain of geology, inasmuch as it is a subject of pure and absolute revelation; and therefore the host of objections which the disciples of that science have marshalled against the sacred narrative ought to disappear. The chief difficulty experienced in all attempts to reconcile the statements of this chapter with the truths of geology has arisen from a consideration of geological time-the vast changes which the stratified structure of the earth indicates appearing to demand a far more remote antiquity than the comparatively recent date of the Mosaic creation. But this difficulty is removed when we take into account, as the researches of D'Orbigny and de Beaumont warrant us to do, that the last and greatest geological catastrophe occurred immediately prior to the human period, and must have induced that state of things described (Genesis 1:2) when the atmosphere was darkened, and the earth rendered 'waste' and 'desolate.'
The chasm occasioned by that catastrophe separated between the early and the present history of the globe, because it is as certain that the fauna and flora which lie entombed in subterranean strata had flourished in ages prior to that physical convulsion as that the creative processes which Moses relates in the third and succeeding verses belong to a new order of things, introduced at some undefined period subsequent to that revolution. The memorials of the early epochs are inscribed on the earth itself, and science fulfills her mission in reading the stony records and receiving the lessons which they teach. But no vestiges of the last creation are traceable; no testimony is to be obtained from the rocks respecting the introduction of an era that did not commence until after the completion of all the formations; and hence, the beginning of the present mundane system, though a subject of the highest interest and importance to man, must have remained unknown, because unrecorded in the book of nature, had not an account of the creative acts that ushered it in formed the opening chapter in the Word of God.
The inspired record in which this revelation is given must be interpreted according to the established rules of language and grammar, and a correct exegesis, such as we have previously made of it, free from all traditionary glosses, cannot fail to bring out the plain and literal meaning of a narrative characterized, as this is, by the greatest simplicity. Its import having been once ascertained in this only legitimate way, we are bound to receive its statements as the unerring teachings of the Spirit of God; and nothing more is needed to confirm or increase its authority as an inspired record of creation. But if science can shed any illustrative light on the page of revelation, it is our duty to avail ourselves of her aid in gaining, through the works of God a more enlarged view or a deeper impression of His word; and in this respect the brief sketch of the pre-Adamite earth we subjoined to the exegesis may render some important service, because by showing the unity that pervaded the plan of creation from the first, as well as the leading features which characterized its progressive developments in the different geological ages, it has brought before us not a few parallels in which science affords an interesting and instructive commentary on the Mosaic cosmogony.
Thus, the whole drift of this chapter tends to show that God carried on the work of creation from the first with a view to the introduction of man; and science has proved that, by the previous revolutions which our globe has undergone throughout a long course of ages, it was gradually prepared to be a suitable habitation for the human species and the concomitant tribes of inferior creatures. This chapter teaches that God put forth His creative energy on every department of nature, and that the creation it describes was effected by His direct and immediate agency; in harmony with this, science has established it as positive knowledge, that though the successive convulsions of the earth may have been traceable to natural agencies, and the progress of creation been carried on mainly through secondary causes, each great epoch was begun by the introduction of new races of plants and animals, not from the evolution of matter, but attesting in an unmistakable manner the interposition of an almighty and intelligent Creator.
'Geology reveals to us that during immeasurable periods, long anterior to the creation of mankind, whole races of animals were created, lived their appointed time, and perished. He who, commencing with the earliest visible signs of life, can thenceforth trace a successive rise in the scale of being, until the period when man appeared on the earth, must acknowledge, in such works, repeated manifestations of the design and superintendence of a Creator' (Murchison's 'Siluria'). Again, this chapter shows that in the creation of living forms God proceeded from a lower to a higher, from a simpler to a more complex organization; and science has proved that there was a progressive elevation in the new types of vegetables and animals, which at successive periods stocked the earth, each tribe or order being adapted to the improved physical condition of the globe. This chapter states that God created vegetables before land animals were brought into being; also, that "cattle and creeping things" were created before beasts of prey; and this order of time in the appearance of organized beings, which the economy and habits of animals made necessary for their sustenance, has been fully established by geological research. Vegetation is the intermediate link between inorganic matter and animals. Since they cannot subsist on inorganic matter, vegetable produce necessarily preceded or accompanied their creation, and the creation of the herbivori preceded or was simultaneous with that of the carnivori, the introduction of which implied the previous existence of animal food.
Further, this chapter declares, by the frequent repetition of the words "after his kind," that God formed distinct and independent species in their full perfection; that each kind of existence was the effect of a special creation; and that their appearance in regular succession-one order supplying the conditions necessary for the nourishment and growth of another-was not owing to any natural process of development or casual relation, but to an original difference in their seminal principles-a distinction in essence between the several species.
In short, the original plan which, according to the inspired record, God followed in the formation of organic life comprehended a distinction of species made at the first by His creative power, each order being produced separately, stamped with distinctive characters, and endowed with the power of perpetuating his race through successive ages. The testimony of science exactly harmonizes with this statement of Scripture, and supplies innumerable proofs of the fact that there was not a universal germ from which all genre and species were developed; but that every tree, every plant, every wild flower, every seaweed, and every beast, bird, fish, insect, as seen in a fossil state, was formed, and continued to be propagated, after its kind. The same law regulates the production of vegetable and animal life still.
A most extensive series of observations has shown how groundless is the notion of transmutation of species; and notwithstanding the excitement caused by the Darwinian hypothesis, with respect to the formation of species by natural processes, the most eminent scientific men, such as Murchison, Agassiz, Owen, and others, have declared that there is no ground for presuming that species are transitory, while uniform experience shows that the established course of nature is decisive against the confused mixture of hybrids, whether in plants or animals, which are not fertile with others, which cannot be perpetuated, and usually die out at the next gradation.
Moreover, this chapter declares that the creative work was completed by the introduction of man with the other races adapted to the human period. It is one of the best attested facts of geology that each epoch in the history of the pre-Adamite earth was distinguished by some dominant race; and while it has been ascertained that a few in each of the geological eras, whose entire races were swept away by cataclysmal action, were permitted, with some slight variations, to reappear, new forms of life were introduced in each successive era, adapted to the altered physical conditions of the world. The present period was inaugurated by the creation of man, together with a numerous race of animals calculated to be serviceable to him, amounting to 1,327 new generic forms (Lardner's 'Pre-Adamite Earth'); and if some 100 species be found living, which seem on anatomical examination to exhibit no perceptible difference from those whose fossil remains lie embedded in the strata of the earlier periods; if, more particularly, a few species now connected with the human existed also in the tertiary period, it is what might, from analogy, have been expected, and affords an evidence that unity in the plan of creation was preserved to the last.
The details of this chapter indicate that the successive acts of creation were miraculous, each expression of the Divine Will being followed by a corresponding effect; and science also declares that the communication both of vegetable and animal life was a miracle, in the performance of which geologists have no means of taking a note of time. Each series-even the work of the third day, may have been done instantaneously-as islands have risen and seas been formed in a few hours; or, because moral and religious purposes of great importance, may have been extended over a day, at the will of the Creator; but, in either view, the creative week was a week of miracles, because which time was not required.
Finally, in the inspired record, the introduction of plants is represented as holding such a place in the order of creation that it heralded, by providing for, the appearance of living beings; and science shows that, according to an established law in nature, no epoch ever closes without having within itself the germ, or giving as it were a prophecy, of the succeeding era. In this light we are inclined to regard the early geologic periods as serving to typify the last and most advanced period; and just as the frequent and violent changes to which the earth in her primitive state was subjected were preparatory to the stability and order which the material world has now attained, so the early ages which saw the globe tenanted by successive races of inferior animals were in number, as well as order of sequence, prophetic types of the days over which, in accommodation to the constitution and the wants of man, God was pleased to extend his creative work at the commencement of the present epoch.
Before passing from this general notice of creation, it may be proper to remark, that the inspired record is altogether silent as to the actual numbers of the inferior races that appeared at first. The Scripture narrative does not say in what proportional numbers each species of the lower animals and plants were created, or whether they all respectively descended from a single pair. It is evident that a single pair, or even several pairs of each species, would have been quite inadequate to stock the earth, because the loss of a male or a female would have destroyed the species, or because the predatory tribes would have destroyed the weaker, to satisfy the cravings of their appetites; while the herbivorous animals would have speedily destroyed the vegetation.
It has been said, 'Science can perceive no reason why the Creator should have adopted such a plan. Is it reasonable to suppose that the Almighty would have created one seed of grass, one acorn, one pair of locusts, of bees, of wild pigeons, of herrings, of buffaloes, as the only starting-point of these almost ubiquitous species. The instincts and habits of animals differ widely. Some are solitary, except at certain seasons; some go in pairs; others in herds or shoals. The idea of a pair of bees, locusts, herrings, buffaloes, is as contrary to the nature and habits of these creatures as it is repugnant to the nature of oaks, pines, birches, etc., to grow singly, and to form forests in their isolation.' Lightfoot thinks that they were created by sevens. Besides, the Scripture narrative does not say, and it seems difficult to suppose, that all plants and animals gradually diffused themselves over the countries of the earth from common foci or centers of creation - i:e., originated on one and the same spot in the world. Linnoeus, indeed, suggested that the region chosen as the first abode of man might have possessed a variety of climates, suited to all kinds of animals and vegetables, whence, as from a common nursery, a diffusion was gradually effected. Now, this region must have been so extensive as to contain all the plants and animals of the primitive world. Some of them, destined to flourish in a tropical country, could not live in a cold one; while others, intended for a northern latitude, could not subsist in a warm temperature.
From this focus all the genre and species of the vegetable and animal kingdoms were to spread over the earth, being wafted in their seeds or ova over mountains, rivers, and seas. But although some few localities are found combining within a limited range every variety of climate, the hypothesis of Linnoeus did not meet with general favour. Lyell has shown its absurdity, and it was long ago exploded for another which assumes that there were multiple centers of creation. Observation and experience point to several distinct localities, in which the indigenous and animals are to a great extent different from those of other regions; the plants and animals of the polar regions would seem incapable of living and flourishing in the torrid regions near the equator. Agassiz mentions, on the natural history of lions, that these animals present very marked varieties, extending over immense regions of country; and that while these varieties are placed remotely from one another, each is surrounded by an entirely distinct class of faunae and florae; and in fact it has been found that every extensive territory possesses species, genre, and types peculiar to itself.
Natural agency may contribute in some degree to the production of varieties; but natural agency cannot satisfactorily account for so striking a circumstance as that there are certain zoological and botanical provinces, which possess faunae and florae, which have made those places distinguished as their birth-place or favourite habitat; and hence, very many naturalists maintain that there must have originally been many separate centers of creation: in other words, that certain classes of plants and animals were created in one part of the earth, whence they diffused themselves all over the world; and other classes in a second as well as third region. Scientific writers are far from being agreed either as to the number or the names of these central provinces. Swainson fixes on five, Prichard on seven, Agassiz enumerates eight zoological, the two Landolles not less than 45 botanical centers. The progress of science may haply lead ere long to some satisfactory conclusions. But in the present imperfection of our knowledge it is necessary to exercise caution, as facts relating to the geographical distribution of plants and animals are ever and anon brought to light, which, exhibiting singular exceptions to the results of previous observations, tend to shake or overthrow the best-formed systems of scientific arrangement.
Thus, Professor Forbes and others have clearly proved, by an extensive array of facts and arguments, that the same species is never created in a plurality of centers. At the same time, it seems now to be established that the temperate regions of the earth present striking resemblances in their zoological inhabitants, because the same types are found there; and with regard particularly to Mammalia, which are the highest in organization, Europe, Asia, and North America may be considered as one great center of animal creation. The creatures of the polar countries, such as the reindeer, the whale, the phoca or seal, supposed to be natives of Greenland, were, until hunted out, found frequently in more southern latitudes, and are actually regarded as belonging to the fauna of the great centers in the temperate regions. New Holland, which forms a distinct and isolated center of Mammalia, has insects in common with the whole Archipelago.
And, to mention no more, the birds on the coasts of the Red Sea and Mediterranean are identical, while the two seas are totally unlike as to fish. These instances show that the present state of knowledge is too limited to admit of any theory being formed which will be sufficiently comprehensive yet true; still this striking fact remains, that certain localities do exhibit special types and groups both of plants and animals; and in accounting for this no theory is so free from difficulties as that which assumes that every species of plants and animals, being created for certain purposes, as well as adapted for those countries and climates in which they were destined to live, were placed there in such numbers as the all-wise Creator thought good. Let it not be objected that Adam's giving names to all the living creatures, and Noah's receiving them afterward into the Ark, show that they were all created at first on one spot; whereas, if there had been separate centers of creation, multitudes of animals must have been removed thousands of miles far away from Eden, or from access to Noah.
These incidents will be considered in their proper places. Meanwhile, the objection may be met by the answer, that the Mosaic narrative being the history of God's dealings with the human family, and not a full or a scientific history of all his works in all parts of the world, refers in all probability, chiefly if not exclusively, to the region of the earth which was the scene of that center of creation where man was formed. Of other centers of creation, situated in different portions of the globe, the sacred historian does not speak. To have taken any particular notice of them would have been quite foreign to the purpose for which the inspired record was written. And this, we apprehend, is the right solution of the difficulty.
Man's Place in Nature-The manner in which his creation is introduced in the sacred narrative-the time when he was created-the apparent deliberation with which the Creator entered on the work, and the mention of the divine image, to which the inspired historian attaches so much importance that he repeats the statement-all combine to show man's native dignity, to represent him as the apex of creation, the end and aim of all the preparatory courses through which the earth had passed, the model of animal perfection, a being of a new and superior order, who united the physical creation to a moral nature, and began the historic age of the world. It might have been concluded a priori that he would have been created perfect, because he was formed directly by the hands of the Divine Artist, who would send forth no work of any kind in an incomplete state, least of all that which was to be the highest specimen of creative skill which the world should contain. Analogy confirms this conclusion, because in all the successive races of the geological ages the animals were formed at first as perfect as their nature would admit. Reason also suggests it as highly probable, and the sacred history authoritatively states it as a certain fact that he "was created in the image of God." And yet some philosophers have appeared in modern times, whose researches and labours have been pertinaciously directed to deprive man of the honour of so high an origin, by maintaining that he is allied with the monkey tribe-that, anatomically and physiologically considered, he is nothing more than the development of an ape.
Now, the structural peculiarities of man, compared with those of the anthropoid apes-the orangutan, the gibbon, the chimpanzee, the gorilla-show, amid some general points of resemblance, the most striking contrasts. While the form of man manifests his fitness not only to assume but to maintain naturally the erect posture, the corresponding features in the structure of those animals which are alleged to be so nearly allied to man show that they are totally incapable of maintaining the upright attitude for any length of time. 'In the old world apes the number, form, and arrangement of the teeth are the same, and the digestive organs also agree; yet, with this similarity, man is an omnivorous and the monkey a frugiferous animal, seemingly resorting to worms and insects only from necessity. The teeth of the monkeys are more powerful proportionally than those of man, to enable them to crush the hard-rinded fruits on which they usually subsist, as well as to serve as weapons of defense-for they have no other. Their feet are prehensile, having a thumb-like toe; their arms are extremely long, reaching down to the knee, and both are used in climbing. The brain, anatomically so like that of man, is pyschologically so unlike that the ape in all its varieties is nothing but a brute. While the brain of a healthy adult man was never known to weigh less than thirty-one or thirty-two ounces, that of the heaviest gorilla does not exceed twenty ounces, and it differs in absolute quality even more than in size or degree, because no ape has ever been able to kindle a fire or to clothe himself from the cold, to fashion an implement or wield a weapon.
In short 'the vertebrate type which began during the palaeozoic in the prone or horizontal fish finally In short, 'the vertebrate type, which began during the palaeozoic, in the prone or horizontal fish, finally becomes erect in man, completing, as Agaseiz has observed, all the possible changes in the series to its last term. But beyond this, in man, the fore limbs are not organs of locomotion, as they are in all other mammals: they have passed from the locomotive to the cephalic series, being made to subserve the purposes of the head. The intellectual character of man, sometimes thought too intangible to be regarded by the zoological systematist, is thus expressed in his material structure. Man is therefore not one of the primates alongside of the monkeys: he stands alone, the archon of mammals' (Dana's 'Geology'). While man is a denizen of the world, being found in every part of the earth capable of yielding him the means of subsistence, monkeys are found chiefly within the tropics, and seldom above a few degrees beyond them. The natural abode of man is the level earth, that of the monkeys the forest. Their whole frame is calculated for this mode of life, because they are all good climbers. Man came into the world naked and houseless, whereas monkeys are furnished by nature with a clothing of hair, like the rest of the lower animals. All the races, however low their condition, have been immemorially in a state of domestication; but the monkey tribe are as incapable of domestication as the wolf, the bear, or the tiger. Man has the faculty of storing for his own use and that of all future generations; of making unlimited advances in knowledge and self-culture; of discussing abstract metaphysical questions, and guiding his conduct in the most difficult circumstances by clear and sagacious reasoning: whereas monkeys have nothing but instinct; every successive generation of them has resembled that which preceded it, and so no doubt has it been from the first creation of the family' (Paper read before British Association, 1863).
Besides the physical differences in structure and habits, which of themselves show that man constitute an order apart from the anthropoid apes, as well as all the lower animals, whatever resemblance some parts of their bodies may exhibit to the human frame, or however closely their instinct may simulate human reason-however capable some animals are of instincts of attachment and habits of obedience to a superior will, by which they seem to rise above the level of their nature-there are other distinctions which are the high and special characteristics of man. Conscience, a sense of responsibility, religious sentiments and affections, anticipations of coming events, and the hope of a future life, these attributes, even more than the structural differences of form and brain, interpose between the lowest types of humanity and the gorilla an immense gulf which no apparent transitional circumstances can bridge over. Add to these another grand prerogative of man-the capacity of using and understanding language. 'However much the frontiers of the animal kingdom have been pushed forward, so that the line of demarcation between man and the lower animals seemed at one time to depend on a mere fold in the brain, there is one barrier which no one has yet ventured to touch-the barrier of language.
We cannot tell, as yet, what language is. It may be a production of nature, a work of human art, or a divine gift. But, to whatever sphere it belongs, it would seem to stand unsurpassed, nay, unequalled in it by anything else. If it be a production of nature, it is her last and crowning production, which she reserved for man alone. If it be a work of human art, it would seem to lift the human artist almost to the level of a divine Creator. If it be the gift of God, it is God's greatest gift, because through it God spake to man, and man speaks to God in worship, prayer, and meditation' (Max Muller). In every point of view, whether we consider the physical structure, the intellectual and moral faculties, or the power of expressing his thoughts by articulate language, man is 'wide as the poles asunder' from the gorilla; and no link has yet been discovered to connect man with the brute. True science is here the best interpreter of the Divine Word.
Thus, between the sacred narrative and this school of 'science, falsely so called,' there is a direct antagonism. The one tells us that man was created; the other asserts that he is simply a development-an improved descendant of a lower animal-a ramification of the monkey stock. The one tells us that man was created directly by the hand of God; the other that he was evolved according to natural law, and that he has no claim to a higher origin than any other animal.
The one declares that he is a being who unites to a material body a rational and immortal soul; the other ranges him in a zoological classification, as merely one member, in common with indiscriminate multitudes that belong to the animal kingdom, and possessed of no powers or attributes but what spring naturally from the progressive development of his material nature.
The one declares that God made man in His own image; the other, looking to his embryonic state and his anatomical structure, assigns to him a community of origin with the brutes, concludes that at least there is no reason for placing him in a distinct order apart from the monkey tribe, and that, as a principle of physical causation accounts for the origin of the brutes, and the structural differences in their various species, the same hypothesis of development is amply sufficient to explain the formation of man, as well as the immense divergence of the human from the Simian stirps.
In short, this science asserts man's genealogical descent from the apes, though it has furnished, neither from history nor observation, any transitional links between man and his monkey parentage, nor has pointed out at what stage in the course of removal he acquired that attribute of immortality which now distinguishes him above the Simian as well as all the bestial tribes. Can any theory tend more effectually to degrade man, however strongly its supporters may repudiate such an intention. Who can hesitate which is more accordant with nature and the true constitution of things-the Scripture account, which records that man was formed with a material frame, which consists of a structural basis and mechanical instruments for locomotive and prehensile functions, similar to that of animals of the higher class, and is animated by a soul which raises him to a position but 'a little lower than the angels;' or that theory which makes no essential distinction between man and the brutes?
Power and Dominion over Animals and the Earth.-The sacred narrative declares that man at his creation was endowed not only with a nature superior to that of all contemporary creatures, but with the right of exercising power and dominion over all classes of them, including even the earth itself. A modern school of science, on the other hand, maintains that whatever actual superiority man possesses has been the result of his own energetic actions; it is owing to his having fought his way among his fellow-creatures, until some happy accident 'gave him an advantage in the struggle for life,' which enabled him to attain the high position he now occupies, and that he has no other claim of supremacy to his power and influence as the present head, the dominant dynasty of the world, than what he has established by his successful efforts.
Such a view of man's relation to the creatures around him rests his supremacy on a very insecure basis, because if accident raised him at first to the ascendancy he possesses, who can tell but some unforeseen circumstances may dislodge him from his vantage-ground, and that some of the inferior races may not in time acquire strength and experience of themselves, or conspire, in vindictive combination with others, to wrest from him the power he so often abuses? Besides this theory very inadequately represents the honourable position which man holds as lord of the inferior creation, and which can be satisfactorily accounted for only in the way the sacred narrative relates-namely, that it was conferred on him by special gift of the Creator as his birthright-a part of the divine image in which he was created. For how stands the case? In many respects-such as magnitude of body and physical strength, as well as in the instincts, appetites, and passions, that are common to man with the brutes-he is greatly their inferior. But what he wants in physical organization and capabilities he compensates by the exercise of other inherent powers, which make him appear in the character of their lord, to whom the mastery belongs. Then is seen the superiority of reason over instinct, and the power furnished by the resources of the one over all the efforts of the other. Because of his mental faculties man rises in unapproachable dignity above all the creatures around-a loftier and nobler monument of divine wisdom and power; and it is in consequence of this mental superiority that he is enabled to maintain his "dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."
The various races of useful animals that are now existing in a state of domestic servitude-the horse, the donkey, the bull, the cow, the goat, the sheep, the dog-were probably created as they are found to be, and were placed at the period of creation under the care of man, as inestimable boons, to minister to his desires or to lighten his toils. If so, their continued submission to his yoke, or patient activity in his service, is a standing proof of man's lordship. But if the horse and the bull once enjoyed the wild liberty of nature, and roamed free tenants of the mountain and the forest, as the lion and tiger-of which neither history nor tradition have transmitted any memorials-the power and skill with which he succeeded in bringing those fine animals to lay their gigantic strength at his feet, and training them to his use, is an evidence of the supremacy he wields over all the members of the animal kingdom.
No strength can hold out against his intellect and art; no flight can rescue; no retreat conceal from his reach; and wherever his dominion extends, the independence and security of the inferior tribes are gone. Those, fierce and savage, which refuse to surrender, are forced to seek refuge in distant inaccessible fastnesses; while those which live within the limits of his domain must become submissive to his will, and contribute their services for the attainment of his ends. But although man may bring all the inferior animals into subjection by the superiority of his reason, as he may reduce many by virtue of his physical power, that does not establish a right of dominion over them, any more than the advantages of fortune or a difference of colour can give a man a right of power or possession over his fellows. This privilege is derived from the gift of his Creator, who gave him the right of invested property in addition to his natural power; so that he is entitled to the exercise of lordship over the inferior creation and when he enlists the strong as instruments of his will and pleasure, or sets himself to extirpate those which are dangerous to society, he is only exercising his legitimate authority as the delegated lord of the inferior creation. It is an authority which will be continued, without the risk of being lost, so long as he remains in the present world,-an authority which will be increased and extended in proportion as mankind are restored to the moral image of God, and rise to the true dignity of their nature-and which is so absolute that no limits are set to it but what are prescribed by the unalterable obligations of justice and mercy.-But the power and dominion with which man at his creation was invested extended also to "subdue" the earth.
It was manifested, of course, at first only in the simplest process of agriculture; but, since man gradually progressed in knowledge, and consequently as knowledge is power, his dominion over the earth has gradually increased also. 'Already man rides master of the seas; he has subdued the stubborn soil; yoked the mighty energies of nature to his chariot; retained the lightning to whisper his messages along the air from state to state; put it under bonds to flash them from continent along the depths of the seas; probed the solid earth, and brought up its hidden wealth; analyzed her complex substances, and sealed up her elements where he can study their nature and their laws: separated her metals, measured her crystals, and used her coal-the wondrous coal. At his word this dull, cold, heavy substance comes as in resurrection; he makes it soften for him the winter, turn night into day, and drive him, with all his heavy merchandise, over land and sea, with the speed of the wind and the force of the storm. What he does with this particular material he will ere long do with all, according to their destined uses. Thus, does he "subdue the earth," and take possession of it' ('Biblia Sacra,'
Although some portions of it present the appearance of desolation and disarrangement, yet, were man renovated in the spirit of his mind, and found acting on the moral principles of Christianity-were he 'renewed in the image of Him who created him,' and, as such, putting forth his powers in the capacity of communities and nations, the earth might soon be 'subdued' - i:e., cultivated and renovated throughout all its extent, so as to present the aspect of a terrestrial paradise.
The Multiplication of Man and the Other Animals.-The Creator, when he brought each species of living creatures into the world, laid on all of them, from the lowest mollusc up to the human pair a special benediction of fertility - "Be ye fruitful and multiply." How far that blessing has operated in the continuation of the races is abundantly evident from the records of history as well as the testimony of experience; and the wisdom as well as goodness of the Creator is manifested by the laws He has established for regulating the rate of reproduction according to the means of subsistence and the general welfare of creation. It has been ascertained that all organic beings have a tendency to multiply in a geometrical ratio; and this so rapidly that unless there existed some powerful agencies to keep it in check, the earth would soon be over-stocked with the progeny of any single pair. With regard to the increase of some of the lower animals, a single cod produces from three to four million and the immense shoals of herrings, mackerel, and other fish which annually come to our shores, is a matter of universal notoriety.
The rocks and tangled seaweed have their teeming colonies; and a single drop of water, as seen by the microscope, abounds with animalcules, from 1/100th to 1/1000th part of an inch. With regard to insects, one aphis may produce 5,904,900,000 individuals, and there may be a succession of twenty generations in a year. The female flesh-fly will have 20,000 young ones, and in the brief space of five days a single pair will be capable of producing as many more. Linnoeus states it as his opinion that three flies of the musca vomitaria could, by their prodigiously rapid increase, devour the carcass of a horse sooner than a lion. With regard to the larger animals, the rate of multiplication, though not so astonishing, is yet sufficiently remarkable, because even the elephant, which is supposed to breed more slowly than any other known animal, has been computed capable, by a single pair, of becoming the parents of 15,000,000 in five centuries.
That the human race has been perpetuated for so many thousand years, is owing to the continued operation of the original blessing that was pronounced upon them at creation; and as the same natural tendency to redundancy of population manifests itself in the family of Adam as in the lower animals, the wisdom of the Creator, who qualified them to "be fruitful and multiply," is conspicuously displayed in regulating and restricting, by his providential superintendence, the increase of mankind. 'The whole surface of our globe can afford room and support only to such a number of all sorts of creatures; and if, by their doubling, trebling, or any other multiplication of their kind, they should increase to double or treble that number, they must starve or devour one another. The keeping, therefore, the balance even is manifestly a work of the divine wisdom and providence, to which end the great Author of life has determined the life of all creatures to such a length, and their increase to such a number, proportional to their use in the world.
The life of some creatures is long, and the increase but small, and by that means they do not overstock the world. And the same benefit is effected, where the increase is great, by brevity of such creatures' lives, by their great use, and the frequent occasions there are of them for food to man or other animals. It is a very remarkable act of the divine providence that useful creatures are produced in great plenty, and others in less. The prodigious and frequent increase of insects, both in and out of the waters, may exemplify the one; and it is observable, in the other, that creatures less useful, or by their voracity pernicious, have commonly fewer young, or do seldomer bring them forth, and then only enough to keep up the species, but not to overcharge the world. Thus the balance of the animal world is throughout all ages kept even; and by curious harmony and just proportion between the increase of all animals and the length of their lives, the world has been through all ages well, but not over, stocked.
"One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh" so equally in its room, to balance the stock of the terraqueous globe, in all ages and places, and among all creatures, that it is an actual demonstration of our Saviour's assertion (Matthew 10:2; Matthew 10:9), that the most inconsiderable common creature, "even a sparrow, doth not fall on the ground without our heavenly Father." This providence of God is remarkable in every species of living creatures; but that special management of the recruits and decays of mankind, so equally all the world over, deserves special observation. There is a certain rate and proportion in the propagation of mankind.
As to births, two things are very considerable: one is the proportion of males and females-not in a wide proportion; not an uncertain, accidental number at all adventures, but nearly equal. Another thing is, that a few more are born than appear to die in any certain place; which is an admirable provision for the extraordinary emergencies and occasions of the world; to supply unhealthful places, where death outruns life; to make up the ravages of great plagues and diseases, and the depredations of war and the seas; and to afford a sufficient number for colonies in the unpopulated part of the earth. And now, upon the whole matter, what is this but admirable management? What can the maintaining throughout all ages and places those proportions of mankind, and all other living creatures-this harmony in the generations of men-be but the work of one that ruleth the world? Is it possible that every species of animals should so evenly be preserved, proportionate to the of occasions the world; that they should be so well balanced in all ages and places, without the continued agency of Him who, while "He blessed them, and said, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth," not only continues the blessing in all its primeval influence, but regulates the rate of their fruitfulness and multiplication' (Derham's 'Boyle Lectures')
The Food of Man and other Animals at the Period of Creation.-The line of distinction between man and the inferior animals was clearly and broadly drawn, because while to the one were given the grains and the fruits of the earth, to the other was assigned the herbage. The food destined for both classes was provided before the creatures requiring it were brought into being. Then, with regard to the materials of man's sustenance, a free grant was made to him of the vegetable produce of the ground, with one single exception, while he was resident in Eden. During that happy but brief period, there can be little doubt that the first pair never indulged their palate beyond the range of the diet expressly described; and many commentators are of opinion that plants and fruits formed the exclusive articles of human food down to the time of the flood. Nor can there be any difficulty in admitting that supposition, because animal food is not much used, nay, can hardly be said to be used, in many parts of Asia even in the present day. Various considerations, however, tend to raise a reasonable doubt regarding the truth and correctness of the traditionary opinion that there was a positive prohibition of this species of aliment during primitive times. The constitution of man, who is by nature omnivorous, and the aptitude of his frame for animal food; his early acquaintance with the use of fire, the culture of sheep as a regular occupation, and the classification of animals as clean and unclean-these create a presumption that animals may have been used to some extent in primeval ages, and that the ordinance made after the flood was less for the purpose of conferring an entirely new grant than for regulating the use of a species of food which had given occasion to barbarous cruelties, or been accompanied with gross excesses.
Then, as to the food of beasts, the herbage was assigned to them, and there was no line of distinction drawn between the different classes. This food, if a judgment may be formed from the fossil flora, was eminently suited to the purpose. 'The ante-diluvian vegetation,' says, Sharon Turner ('Sacred History of the World'), 'was very different from the present. This is the statement of the most eminent of the modern geologists; and the phenomena in the fossil matters of the earth have suggested and justify the supposition. The difference was of two kinds; it was that of a tropical character, implying a temperature like that of the torrid zone or equatorial regions, and displaying that largeness of size which is only now found in regions where that degree of heat prevails; and it was also not of the leguminous species-not the grain plants or the vegetables which now constitute the food of man-but it was of the reedy, fern-like, grassy, more aquatic and puny kinds, such as are adapted for the nutrition of brute animals, and obviously, by its nature, indicating that these were then living or predominating in those regions where the imbedded remains of this character appear.'
In the grant vegetation for food, "every beast of the earth," or the land, must signify cattle in the service of man, because the expression is used to denote quadrupeds as opposed to birds in this passage, as in many others (Genesis 2:19; Genesis 7:19; Genesis 9:2; Leviticus 11:2; Leviticus 11:27; Leviticus 17:3; Isaiah 46:1). But in narrating the creation of the larger mammals, Moses uses the phrase, "beast of the earth," as descriptive of ravenous brutes; and hence, it has been supposed by most commentators, from the form of expression, that these were also included in the restriction to vegetable food. This, however, is an unwarranted conclusion. Geological researches have clearly established the fact that one class of animals subsisted in the earlier ages by preying upon others; and analogy, therefore, would lead us to expect that, as predatory animals were created in the human period also, so they would be at liberty to indulge in the same manner the carnivorous instincts of their nature in obtaining their proper subsistence.
No statement is made, nor hint given, that the propensities of predatory animals were not developed at first. And, however pleasant it is to think that their savage nature was kept in check in primitive times-a notion which has been sanctioned by the authority of a venerable naturalist, Kirby ('Bridgewater Treatise') - it is impossible to admit so strange and absurd an assumption. The carnivora have not the power either of masticating or of digesting vegetable substances (Cuvier, 'Animal Kingdom'). Their dentition and digestive apparatus, which are adapted solely to the consumption of animal matter, are of a totally different structure from the organs of cattle which subsist on vegetable food; and hence, as herbivorous and carnivorous animals may be said, in a general way, to constitute the two great classes of the animal creation, it is evident that they never could at any time have been maintained on one common diet. Nay, if predatory animals had subsisted at first on vegetable produce, and their wild instincts had been repressed until after the fall of man, or after the flood, their appearance at either of those periods would have been tantamount to the creation of a new race of "beasts of the earth." The conclusion, then, to which we are led is that, in the grant of vegetable food, reference is made only to the animals that were in the immediate neighbourhood, or to be employed in the service, of man, and that carnivorous beasts, as well as insectivorous birds, are wholly omitted.
Antiquity of Man.-The Mosaic narrative states that man appeared last in the order of the new creation; and science responds that this statement is perfectly consistent with all that has come within the range of her observation. Although the crust of the earth has been explored to a great depth in places innumerable, no human remains have been discovered except in strata of the most modern origin. During the ages called Geological the earth was occupied by races of animated beings which are found in myriads in a fossil state among the subterranean rocks, and all of which are now so well known that they can with the greatest exactness be arranged and classified according to the palaeozoic, the secondary, and the tertiary periods in which they respectively flourished; but no human relics have been found in any one of them. In the immense intervals which these periods embraced-and it might be thousands or millions of years-there is not a solitary vestige of man's existence. He appeared after all these formations were completed; and geology is decisive upon the point, that his introduction into the earth did not take place until the commencement of the present, which, from that circumstance, is called 'the human period.' But while geology thus confirms the sacred record in attesting that man's appearance on earth terminated the chain of the present creation, she has recently taken up a new position, by denying the soundness of the prevailing estimate as to his comparatively recent origin.
In the present day a strong and general disposition is evinced by scientific men to maintain that the existence of the human race extends back to a much more remote antiquity than has been hitherto attributed to it. And this opinion is supported on various grounds:-on that of language, it being assumed that languages grow, and that unknown ages must elapse after the rise of a language before it is brought from its rudimentary form to a state of maturity and refinement:-on that of 'historical synchronisms' between the early books of Scripture and the traditions of Phoenicia, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, as well as Chinese and Hindu chronology, which led Bunsen to assert the great probability of man's having existed on the earth 20,000 years before our era:-but chiefly on that of geology-the science which has furnished the data that have invested the subject with a definite form and special interest.
Without mentioning the extravagant notions of some eminent geologists, who, arguing from the physical changes that have taken place during the period of man's existence upon earth, have asserted that he has existed not 100,000 years only, but 9,000,000 years (Waitz, 'Introduction to Anthropology') - it seems now to be generally surmised among the cultivators of this science, that man has survived many geological epochs, and that he certainly lived toward the close of the tertiary period, as an earthly contemporary of mammoths, saurians, elks, hyaenas, and rhinoceroses, extinct far beyond the reach of human record. The evidence adduced in support of this opinion is rounded on certain alleged discoveries of bones and fragments of the human skeleton, which have been found in caves, cairns, or tumuli, and more recently in gravel beds in this country and in France, accompanied with some rude implements of flint, which bore unmistakable evidence of having been the workmanship of human hands. Those implements, imbedded in undisturbed soil, when discovered in the caverns, were lying in juxtaposition with the remains of extinct animals belonging to the pre-Adamite age, and in circumstances that created the strongest presumption that they had been fabricated and were used in the chase against these monsters. The conclusion drawn from those premises is, that man is of great antiquity, having certainly existed in the post-pliocene age-the later division of the tertiary period-if he may not have seen some earlier geological epochs.
Now, in obviating such allegations, it is important to observe-what has now been clearly established-that there are, two distinct classes of these flints, or 'celts' as they are called-the one consisting of pieces broken naturally, and exhibiting no traces of human touch; and the other artificial, i:e., smoothed, sharpened, and formed to be arrow-heads, adze-heads, or the points of a lethal weapon. The former are found in gravel beds, and of course can determine nothing with regard to time; while the others have been found chiefly in caves, which, having been used at different times as places of shelter for wild beasts, as well as of domicile and of sepulchre to men, the collocation of these remains, or their apparent association in the same caverns, cannot afford any certain evidence of geological contemporaneity. Besides the grave doubts that have been expressed as to the identity as well as the age of the alleged fossil fragments of man, still graver doubts are entertained as to the character and age of the gravel beds in which they were found-Elie de Beaumont, the most eminent living French geologist, having repeatedly declared that the Moulin Quignon bed, in the valley of the Somme, in which the much talked of human jaw was found, was not diluvium-not even alluvium, deposited by the encroachments of rivers-but simply consisted of washed soil deposited on the flanks of the valley by excessive rains.
So much for that vaunted discovery; and with regard to other cases, the extreme rarity of the human remains that are supposed to have been discovered, compared with the number of the extinct animals, and the rude shape of the flint implements, have led many reflecting men of science to conclude, that the disinterred relics belonged not to any pre-Adamite age, but to 'the stone period'-the most remote of human history.-The allegation of man's great antiquity would not have excited surprise and alarm, if it had not been associated, by its most zealous advocates, with the assertion that 'man existed in a state of primitive barbarism, was originally a savage prowling in the woods, naked, unarmed, without language, obliged to contend for life and food with the beasts, and incapable for ages of making any record of himself; and that it was by a principle of inherent progression he rose by gradual advances to the dignity of a civilized being' (British Association, Manchester, 1861).
Now, without dwelling on this last part of the statement, which is groundless, because even savages have reared stone pillars and other monuments of themselves, the opinion that man's primitive state was one of barbarism, is directly opposed to the testimony of universal history. For, not only does the Bible give a very different view of 'the world's gray fathers,' who-if their condition was humble, their wants few, and their society unrefined-could not be barbarous, while they were instructed in the knowledge, and faithful adherents to the worship, of God:-but all experience shows that it is depravity which is the cause of the intellectual moral, and social degradation of mankind; and that every people who have existed in a state of barbarism were formerly higher in the scale, but fell from it, having made the first descending step by becoming corrupt, until, sinking into deeper degeneracy, which was perpetuated through a long course of ages, their posterity settled into the character of mere savages.
Barbarism is thus the result of a people's own voluntary and deliberate misconduct, whereas civilization is never the consequence of inherent principle, but produced by external influences. In the earliest periods of Scripture history, man, so far from being represented as a savage, wandering in forests and hunting wild beasts, appears an intelligent being, living in civilized as well as domestic society; and in the records of ethnological research abundant evidence is furnished to prove that, when a savage people have been tamed and brought into a state of social order, it never is by any inward principle or efforts of their own, but either by the settlement among them of foreign colonists, or the operations of Christian missionaries.
In short, not barbarism, but intellectual soundness and moral excellence was the normal state, the primitive condition of mankind; and this is the testimony of all history and experience, which show that the Bible describes things according to the course of nature and the dictates of truth when it tells us that "God made man upright, but that he found out many inventions." Apart from this false sentiment with which it has been incorporated by the men of science who propound it, the doctrine of man's great antiquity is not of vital interest; and if the hypothesis should be established by a series of well-attested facts, it may lead to some alteration in the received Bible chronology, which, founded on the present Hebrew text, is much shorter than that followed in the Septuagint, but it cannot affect the foundations of our faith.
At the same time, there is reason to think that, like some other previous attempts to prove that man existed at an era long prior to the creation of Adam, this theory, though admittedly based on undoubted facts, will be greatly modified; and already some of the geologists who were among the foremost to raise the cry of 'Man among the mammoths' are sliding into the persuasion-not that man has existed longer, but that the mammoths, mastodons, and other monsters, survived until a later period than had been imagined. The opinion now entertained is that which was expressed in the unaugural address of the President at the last meeting of the British Association (Newcastle, 1863), that, 'notwithstanding this great antiquity, the proofs still remain unaltered that man is the latest as well as the noblest work of God.'
The Descent of all Mankind from One Primeval Pair.-To an ordinary mind it seems to be the plain and obvious import of the sacred narrative that the man and woman whom God had created were the only human beings at first in existence, and that they were the original stock from which the dominant race in the opening economy of the earth was destined to spring. The same view is presented in other parts of the Bible; and were there any doubts as to the right interpretation of the Mosaic record, the statements of later Scripture writers have furnished inspired commentaries, which may enable us, with unerring certainty, to trace the mighty stream of the human family to its source in the original pair. Accordingly, the common origin of mankind has been the prevailing belief of Jews and Christians in every age.
Nay, it is a fundamental doctrine of revelation, because it underlies the whole system of Gospel teaching as to the propagation as well as the acceptance of salvation through a Redeemer. Notwithstanding, objections have been raised against the orthodox doctrine of a lineal succession from a primitive pair; and many, influenced by the vast varieties observable among mankind, have been led to deny the fact, or even the possibility, of their derivation from one parent root. Of these objectors there are several classes. The first, who are professed believers in the truth of revelation, may be divided into two parties, because while they are both of opinion that among the apparent members of the human family there are races which do not trace their parentage to Adam and Eve, they support this view on different grounds-the one believing that a plurality of races is plainly implied in several particulars of the Scripture narrative (namely, Genesis 2:7; Genesis 4:14; Genesis 6:4); and the other, founding on the analogy of nature, conceive that many creations of the genus homo took place in distant localities, which, though exactly identical in the great characteristics of physical and mental structure, were yet separate primary ancestors, distinguished by varieties which adapted them, in constitutional temperament, to the soil and climate where they were to live, and that the narrative in the beginning of Genesis is confined to the origin and history of the white race, and of the Jews in particular.
Both of these views are opposed to the plain tenor of the sacred History-the former, as will be shown in the several passages on which it is founded; the latter as at variance with the doctrine of "the common salvation," with which, however, its advocates labour to reconcile it; and also with the generally received opinion of naturalists, previously alluded to in the case of the lower animals, that it is not accordant with the course of nature for a species to originate in more than one center of creation.
But the chief objections to the unity of the human race have been raised by physiologists, who, looking to the differences in bodily appearance, as well as in intellectual capacity, which characterize nations or large classes of men, have maintained, on natural principles, that they must be zoologically ranged under different groups, as forming separate and independent species. The grounds on which they have formed this conclusion are chiefly diversities in colour or complexion, in the cast of the features, in the form of the skull, in anatomical structure, as well as in mental energy; and these are dwelt upon as presenting insuperable difficulties to the belief that all mankind, the various classes of whom are now seen to differ so widely, could have sprung from one common stock. They point to the physical differences exhibited by the white inhabitants of Europe, the black natives of Africa, and the aborigines of America-a continent, moreover, unknown on the map of the world until modern times: by the negroes of Africa, New Guinea, and the Andama Islands; by the Esquimaux and the Red Indians; by the Arabs and the Chinese; by the Hindus, the Hottentots, and the Malays; by the Australians and Polynesians;-and they say, that if the existing races of men proceeded from a single stock, either the changes which led to those physical diversities must have been effected in the primitive locality, or have occurred after migration. But there is no evidence of such differences having been introduced in the course of time. Within the historical period every region has been found populated, and usually with a race peculiar to itself (Paper read at British Association, Manchester, September, 1863).
The subject, it must be candidly acknowledged, is not free from great difficulties; but these are not insurmountable: many of them have already disappeared in the light of exact enquiry; others are likely to vanish as further investigation proceeds; and the advance recently made in all the collateral paths of ethnological research is so great as to warrant the confident assertion that ere long the doubts of scientific men will be greatly diminished, if not entirely removed. The varieties of the human race are for the most part resolvable into differences in appearance and form; and a popular classification of them according to the colour of the skin the formation of the features, the head, and the hair, etc., was established by Blumenbach, who distributed them into five classes, as follows:
(1) The Caucasian, including, in Europe, the entire population, with the exception of the Fins and Laplanders; in Asia, Turks, Arabs, Persians, etc.; Siberians and foreigners in Eastern Asia; in Africa, foreigners in the colonies, and Arabs; in America, all except the Red Indians; and in Australia, foreigners on all islands.
(2) The Mongolian, principally in Asia, including China, the greater part of India, Central Asia, and part of Siberia.
(3) The Ethiopian. The entire population, with the exception of the Caucasians already mentioned.
(4) The Red Indians of America.
(5) The Malays, in the Indian Islands, East India, Japan, and Australia.
A more strictly scientific classification has been recently made by Retzius into the two great divisions of Oval Heads, and Broad or Cubic Heads-the former including in Europe all the Latin and German tribes; the latter, the Slavonic, Magyar, Turkish, and some of the Romanee tribes of the South. In Asia, the Chinese, Hindus, Arian Persians, Arabs, Jews, and Tungusians, are all Oval Heads: all the rest are Broad Heads. The estimate of America is of course based on aborigines only; and in regard to them the opinion is advanced that the Oval Heads predominate; while all the rest, being emigrants or their descendants, are Broad Heads. In Australasia the Broad and the Oval Heads are nearly divided. The same eminent ethnologist makes another division of the human race, according to the facial angle, into Orthognathes and Prognathes-the former with an erect face, the latter with protruding jaws and receding foreheads. The excess of the latter is attributable to the population of Africa, which, although Oval Heads, must be classed entirely with the receding faces, the same as the dense population of China and Eastern Asia in general (Dieterici, 'Population of the World,' quoted in 'Evangelical Christendom,' September, 1859).
These are prominent features, characterizing great divisions of mankind, within which there may and will be, of course, some that do not correspond to the general description. For, 'even among ourselves' says Pye Smith ('Geology'), 'we daily see remarkable diversities of configuration, affecting both bones and muscles, which have been produced by mode of life, in both active and passive relations, and which give a very distinct character to classes, families, and the inhabitants of particular districts. Among the natives of our own islands, and where there can be no doubt of an unmixed English descent, we meet with heads and faces whose forms, externally at least, approach to the Mongolian, Negro, Hottentot, Patagonian and Australian; and in the blackest tribes of the heart of Africa are found heads whose fine proportions might vie with the Circassian and Grecian specimens.'
But the circumstance that has furnished the most formidable objections among men of science against the unity of the race relates to the very marked peculiarities in the negro, who is distinguished externally by his woolly hair, short, crisp and frizzly, like tufts of wool on the back of a sheep; thick lips, flat nose, receding forehead; the general form of his skull, and the relative size of his limbs; the curvature of the legs, the projection of the heel, the narrowness of the forehead, which is generally wrinkled; the thickness of the lower jaw, the edges of the maxillary bones, the comparative sharpness of the fingers, and disproportionate length of the web of the hand: also by his anatomical structure, his nervous system, several important muscles, and above all by a paint or colouring matter which imparts a black hue to his skin. This striking peculiarity may be thus explained. The cuticle, or outer skin which covers the body, is divided by several thin layers from the acutely sensitive epidermis or true skin; and interposed between these is an extremely soft, slippery substance, called the mucous membrane, which serves to line all the open cavities, and discharge various important offices to the body.
The colouring matter is diffused over this membrane, with which it has no natural or necessary connection-none at all except that of mere juxtaposition; and this pigment, shining through the scarf skin, is the cause of the diversity of colour in mankind. Now this is entirely wanting in the white portion of the human race: and as it is found existing in the shady varieties-the negroes having it black, while the red, the tawny, and the copper-coloured people have it of their own respective hues-scientific men have regarded it as a peculiarity of structure, indicating an essential and specific distinction of races. Up to the highest antiquity to which historical records go, negroes are found to have existed, exhibiting the same characteristic form of features and blackness of skin that they do still. The plates in Champollion's 'Monumens de l'Egypte' show negroes that cannot be distinguished from those living in the present day; and some of these very interesting representations have been demonstrated to be coeval with Joseph; while a few of them, containing negroes' portraits also, belong to a much earlier period-the eighth century after the flood.-`The skin and the hair are by no means, it is alleged, the only things which distinguish the negro from the European even physically; and the difference is still greater mentally and morally. As rational beings, the negroes stand on the lowest grade of the intellectual scale, and are immeasurably inferior to the Europeans in the capacity for acquiring knowledge. These characteristics, it is maintained, are permanent; and, therefore, on the ground of physical peculiarities as well as intellectual inferiority, there is as good reason for classifying him as a distinct species as there is for making the horse distinct from the donkey or the zebra' (Dr. Hunt's Paper, British Association, Manchester, September, 1863).
This conclusion is inadmissible, because although, it must be allowed, there is a large portion of truth in the statements relative to the deep mental and moral debasement of the negroes in Central Africa, we have the irresistible logic of facts to prove that neither are their physical characteristics unalterable, nor their minds incapable of elevation and improvement. The bodily peculiarities of the negro were most probably produced, increased, and stereotyped by his residence in the torrid zone, for they are gradually modified by his removal to other parts of the world; although, from long and inveterate habit, they have obtained so tenacious a hold of his constitution, that the paternal type is unmistakably stamped even upon his offspring born of a European mother. 'What there was or now exists in the climate of inter-tropical Africa to give the inhabitants in the different localities of those regions such great peculiarity in the shape of the head, the expression of the countenance, and the structure of the hair, is just as difficult for us to conceive as for our opponents to explain why, in the same country, the hog has become black-the sheep has lost its wool, and put on a covering of black hair-and the dog, as well as some breeds of pigs, have become naked-or why it is that a variety of the common fowl (Gallus Moris) is not only black in colour, but has the comb, wattles, and skin dark purple, and the periosteum of the bones black. When these phenomena in the lower animals shall have been fully accounted for by our opponents, they will have afforded us some lights by which we shall be enabled to explain the causes of difference in human forms and complexions' (Smythe on the 'Unity of the Human Race').
Observation has proved that the thick woolly hair of the negro has been designed by Providence to protect his brain in an atmosphere perilous to all who are not acclimatized; and so effectual a defense does that natural covering afford, that he can sleep in a state of full exposure to the fierce rays of a tropical sun, that would prove fatal to a European. The same purpose is supposed to be contemplated, though it remains yet to be proved, by the black colouring matter that underlies the cuticle, preserving the surface of the skin from being blistered by the sun. At the same time, the black variety is not so permanent as either the red or the olive-the hues directly produced by the action of the sun's colorific rays-for the children of olive or copper-coloured parents exhibit the parental hue from the moment of their birth; whereas, in the case of blacks, it is six, eight, or ten months ere the pigment is secreted.
In some cases it is not secreted at all; and hence, the strange anomaly of white negroes, which, though rare, are not unknown. It has been remarked that America affords a better development of the African race, even though they continue in a condition of servitude; and we learn, on the high authority of Dr. Prichard, that in the third generation of those slaves who are regular residents in houses, many of the negro characteristics begin to disappear: the depressed nose rises, the mouth and lips assume a moderate form, while the hair becomes longer at each family gradation. What has been said regarding the physical peculiarities of the negro is still more applicable to his mind. Born in a country where they do not require to labour for supplying themselves with food, clothing, or habitations, and living under a climate whose enervating influence produces mental indolence and sensuality, there is no wonder that the negroes appear in a state of intellectual debasement which has been regarded as the indication of an inferior race. But proofs are abundant that the mind of the negro child is capable of a high degree of culture-even children of the most degraded tribes, as in the case of the little girl brought from Dahomey, and educated by our queen; and it has been again and again tested, that placing a black child in the same school as a white child, the condition of their respective parents being similar, a coloured child will; with the exception of arithmetic, make equal progress with the white child.
In North Africa, as well as in other parts of the world where the negro suffers from no local prejudices, he takes his position with the more favoured races. The revolted slaves of Haiti were capable of establishing a regular government, and maintaining it before the whole world. The reports of Clapperton, Livingstone, and other travelers, lead us to believe that, even among the negroes in the interior of Africa, an advanced degree of civilization has existed for ages. Four years ago, several young Haitians were sent to France to be educated at the Military College, and by the quickness of their parts, as well as the progress they made in their studies, attracted the marked attention of the emperor. In the Missionary Institution at Sierra Leone there are negro youths in the course of being trained to be teachers and preachers to their countrymen, whose attainments in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Mathematics, English Literature and Theology would be deemed respectable even in a Scotch or English university ('Missionary Register,' February, 1853).
There appears, then, to be nothing either in the bodily or mental constitution of the negro that betokens a difference, still less an inferiority of race, because his chief characteristics are confined to some peculiarities of form which are capable of being modified through time and a change of circumstances; and although his proper colour and cast of features are never wholly obliterated from his offspring except by a long succession of intermixtures with persons of a fair complexion, the fact that such mixed marriages continue to be productive for generations, affords of itself the decisive test on which naturalists rely for proving identity of productive for generations, affords of itself the decisive test on which naturalists rely for proving identity of species.
What has been said in regard to the negro serves also to account for all the other varieties of mankind. Soil, food, employment, climate, extremes of heat and cold, morbid or hereditary affections, vices, manners and customs;-these, and some others-not perhaps so palpable or so well known-are the principal external agents that produce diversities in human appearance; and the peculiarity which they originated becomes, from the same influences being continuously exerted through a long course of time, at length a distinct and permanent type. It is a natural law, familiarly exemplified in the horse, the dog, the sheep, and the hog, that any variety once introduced does not revert to the original form, but remains impressed on the animal nature, and gives rise to what cattle-dealers study to raise-a particular breed.
The same law obtains in human nature. The physical appearance of man is first affected by the part of the world in which he becomes located. Each region exercises its modifying influence on the growth and complexion, and afterward on the mental energies of its inhabitants, until their national character, cast as it were, through a long course of ages, into the same uniform mould, becomes so marked and permanently fixed that neither time nor the most adverse circumstances can produce any radical change.
Thus, 'it has been found that, in a very few generations, the fair European, of Shemetic or Japhetan race becomes dark within the tropics, and ultimately, in no very long period, as dark as the Cushites or Phutim. The descendants of Europeans in India, as shown by Dr. Heber in his "Narrative," have totally changed their colour; and this fact is the same alike with regard to Persians, Greeks, Tartars, Turks, Arabs, and Portuguese. The Portuguese who have been naturalized in the African colonies of their nation have become entirely black. And, though last not least, the Jew, that standing testimony to the truth of Revelation, though continuing distinct and separate from all other nations, yet inhabiting nearly every country, assumes nearly every hue which is characteristic of the family of man. In the plains of the Ganges he puts on the jet-black skin and crisped hair of the native Hindu; in milder climes he wears the natural dusky hue and dark hair of the inhabitant of Syria; and under the cooler sky of Poland and Germany, assumes the light hair and fair ruddy complexion of the Anglo-Saxon. Nay, more, on the Malabar coast of Hindustan are two colonies of Jews, an old and a young colony, separated by colour. The elder colony are black, and the younger-dwelling in a town called Mattabheri-comparatively fair. The difference is satisfactorily accounted for by the former having been subjected to the influence of the climate for a much longer period than the latter' (Ragg and Smythe on the 'Unity of the Human Race').
An eminent philosopher of the present day has said, that 'he had studied much the condition of the new world, and he found that remarkable varieties had come out in recent times. If one looked at a native American when he walked through their streets, one would at once recognize him. Now, if a couple of centuries had produced so great a change in those who had crossed the Atlantic and lived in another climate, what might not 1,000 or 2,000 years have done?' (Professor Wilson, British Association, Manchester, 1863.) And Sir Charles Lyell at the same meeting argued for the unity of the human race, on the ground that the antiquity of man allowed a sufficient period of time for all the changes to take place that had resulted in the existing diversities of mankind. It would lead into too large a field to show the same natural causes slowly operating, after the early dispersion and settlement of the nations, in producing and stereotyping their characteristic physiognomies and forms.
Assuming brunette, as in the opinion of some eminent naturalists, to have been the prototype of the human race, it might be interesting to trace as far as possible, the shades of assimilation to that normal complexion, or of departure from the original hue, graduating according to distance from the cradle of humanity, together with the extraordinary contrasts of colour exhibited at the remotest extremities, and produced by a combination of many causes. It would be found that, in radiating from the primitive center in Western Asia, the whites are spread over Europe and the western regions (the classic word Europa means 'white man's land'). In the southwest of the original seat the Arabs and Abyssinians are dark; in the northeast the Turks hold an intermediate place between the Whites and Mongols; in the south and south-east the Chinese form a connecting link with the Whites, Hindus, Mongols, and Malays; while in the depths of Central Africa, the people living in an intertropical climate, amid inhospitable swamps, in the deepest mental as well as moral debasement, have assumed the extraordinary-in some cases as in that of the Bosjesmans, the revolting, forms of negroes, and that the useful and domestic animals which are associated with mankind-the horse, the donkey, the ox, the goat, the sheep, the hog, the dog, the cat, the hen-are also subject to similar variations, under the climatic and other conditions of different regions. But this course of illustration our limits prevent us from pursuing, and we shall wind up this subject by briefly showing that, amid all the varieties of the human race, science affords clear and irresistible proofs that the species is essentially one.
(1) Anatomical structure. Dr. Bachman ('Unity of the Human Race'), after having shown at large that there is but one true species in the genus homo, sums up the various conclusions he has established in the following particulars:-`That all the varieties show a complete correspondence in the number of the teeth, and in the 208 additional bones in the body; that they are perfectly alike in the shedding of the teeth, so different from other animals; that they all maintain the same erect attitude; that they perfectly correspond in the articulation of the head with the spinal column; that they all possess two hands; that they all want the intermaxillary bone; that they are all distinguished by teeth of equal length, by smooth skins on the body, and heads covered with hair; that they all have the same number and arrangement of the muscles, the digestive, and all other organs; that they are endowed with organs of articulate speech, and a capacity of singing; that they are omnivorous, capable of living on all kinds of food, inhabiting every country, and living under every climate of the world; that they are more dependent in infancy and of slower growth than other animals; that they are subject to similar diseases; that the females have the same peculiarity of physical constitution, which differs from all other mammalia; that all the varieties are prolific with each other, have the same period of gestation, and on an average produce the same number of offspring.'
(2) Ethnology. 'An extensive field of enquiry,' says Dr. Prichard ('Researches into the Physiological History of Man'), 'is opened by observation that traces exist, among the most distant African nations, of ancient connection with the Egyptians. The traces of animal-worship, the belief of its metempscyhosis; circumcision, and a variety of observances-recorded by travelers among the Kaffirs, the native people of Madagascar, as well as among tribes in the western parts of Africa-are too extensively diffused, and occur in too many instances, to be attributed to accidental coincidence.' The same eminent writer has proved the Eastern origin of the Celtic tribes. Captain Newbold shows that the cromlechs, kistraens of our Druidical ancestors, have been traced in the ancient rude sepulchres of India, Tartary, and Circassia ('Transactions of Asiatic Society'). The manners and customs, especially the religious customs, as well as the physical characteristics of the Assyrians as depicted on the graves, show a connection, more or less close, with the Arabs, the later Babylonians, the Syrians, the Phoenicians, the Israelites; and the progress of ethnological research, in tracing the descent of the modern from ancient nations, and the affinity between the early races themselves, is gradually conducting us back to one central spot from whence the migration of the human race began.
(3) Philology. The researches in this department add a strong confirmation to the results obtained from physiology and archaeology. Indeed, without the aid of philology, the testimony of the other two would have been less strong than it is; but this comes to complete the chain of proofs that mankind sprang from a common stock, because it shows that, endlessly ramified as the dialects of the world appear to be, they were derived from a very few parent stems. Nay, there is the strongest reason to expect that, in the further prosecution of lingual studies, clear evidence will be furnished of the prevalence of one primitive language; and when it is considered that it is through the medium of articulate speech men give expression to their thoughts and feelings, this unity of utterance may be regarded as a demonstrative evidence of a community of nature in those who spoke it.
(4) History and the reports of travelers, such as Humboldt and others, show that all mankind throughout the world possess the same mental and moral characteristics, the same natural sensibilities, the same sense of dependence on high and invisible powers, the same fears arising from a latent sense of guilt, and the same capabilities of deriving comfort, peace, and elevated hope from the principles of true religion; so that, grouping all these things together, the common parentage of the human race may be inferred from the likeness of the inner as well as the outer man; and the statement of the poet be regarded as distinguished not less by its scientific truth than its poetic beauty:
`One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.'
Thus, we have found that all the sciences relating to the natural history of the human race accord with the tenor of the Mosaic record, and furnish independent testimony, confirmatory of the Scripture doctrine that "God hath made of one blood all nations to dwell upon the face of the earth."
Institution of the Sabbath.-This subject, which was briefly adverted to in a preceding paragraph, demands, from its pre-eminent importance, a special and more extended notice. The Sabbath, though not one of the creation-days, is closely associated with the transactions of that primitive period; and that the view of the sacred historian regarding its relative uses was coincident with the opinion of its importance just expressed, appears from the fact that, in his account of the seventh day, he employs a copiousness, or rather a redundancy of expression, in striking contrast with the extreme conciseness that characterizes the rest of his narrative. The word 'Sabbath,' indeed, does not occur in Our version, nor does the passage that alludes to it (Genesis 2:2-3) seem to bear the form of a command or statute, binding man to observe it; but both ideas are distinctly conveyed in the original text; and it may be expedient to establish this assertion by proof, in order to exhibit the true character and claims of an institution which, from its divine origin and the rank it holds among the primordial arrangements of the world, must be recognized as a law of nature no less than an ordinance of religion.
Upon entering into this investigation, we may premise that the terms in which the subject is introduced into the Mosaic narrative have been thought to imply that a part of the creative work was performed on the seventh day. Such a statement being at variance with the uniform declarations of Scripture, some commentators have advocated, the propriety of substituting "the sixth" for "the seventh" day, which is the reading followed in the Samaritan Pentateuch, as well as in the Septuagint and Syriac versions; but as this alteration the text is not warranted by the authority of ancient Hebrew MSS, and was manifestly adopted for the purpose of avoiding an apparent inconsistency, others have proposed a simpler method of removing the difficulty, which consists either in rendering the verb as a pluperfect, "on the seventh day God had endued," or in considering "ended," as equivalent to 'declared that He had ended.' These interpretations, though somewhat strained, are both admissible, since they convey the sense of the passage. But the simple and natural construction of the words is the best-namely, that God was pleased, because important reasons, to extend the processes of creation over six days, until the time was close upon the confines of the seventh day, and then, when it had actually commenced, He brought the work to an end: 'the completion,' as Keil remarks, 'consisting negatively in the cessation of the creating work, and positively in the blessing and sanctification of the seventh day.'
And he rested - [Hebrew, wayishbot (H7673)]. The primary idea expressed by this word, according to Gesenius, is that of standing or sitting still to rest from labour; and hence, the derivation of "Sabbath," a term of which-although the fathers of the Christian Church generally considered it, as Lactantius informs us, to come from the Hebrew numeral for seven, which it resembles in sound-the most direct and natural source undoubtedly is the verb shaabat (H7673), which, like two kindred expressions used elsewhere in the same connection (Exodus 20:11; Exodus 31:17), signifies the repose and refreshment of rest.
It is a strong expression, used in the anthropomorphic style, which so largely pervades the early books of the It is a strong expression, used in the anthropomorphic style, which so largely pervades the early books of the Bible, and according to which the thoughts, affections, and infirmities of humanity are ascribed to the Divine Being. In the narrative of the creation, particularly, He is represented as an artist engaged in the execution of a specific work, surveying it from time to time with feelings of interest and complacent satisfaction, as it progressively advanced to His ideal standard; and at last, on the completion of His plan, after a period of continuous exertions, resting from His labours. This style of description was adopted in condescending accommodation to the capacities of a rude and simple people. The idea of "rest," if applied to God in a literal sense, would be altogether improper: it is not only derogatory to His divine perfections to impute weariness or fatigue to Him (Isaiah 40:28), but it is false to say that He ceased from working, because constant, unrelaxing activity is one of the essential attributes of His character (John 5:17). He has never intermitted the course of His providential government in this world, and He is in all probability incessantly occupied in the formation of new worlds throughout the realms of space, as well as in the preservation and government of those already existing. But if the word "rested" means, as it appears from the context to do, that God ceased from the exertion of His creative powers-from those process of reorganization which He had carried on at the commencement of the present mundane system-it is both appropriate and true, as, upon the completion of that work, He ceased to produce anything new in the world.
Further, the word "rested" conveys the idea of satisfactions; and in this respect also it is appropriate and true that God rejoices in the works which He has made (Psalms 104:31). He had come forth, as it were, from the secret of His pavilion, to superintend the formation of a world distinct from Himself; and, having completed the execution of that work, He retired into the happy rest of His own eternal blissful existence: withdrew, not as the pagan supposed, to relinquish all interest in the world He had made, but to enjoy, with divine complacency, the spectacle of His various works proceeding according to the laws and in the harmonious system which He had established. This is the rest which He is represented as taking, and which has, with adorable condescension, been recorded for our typical instruction, that we may learn from Him, as our model and example, the important duty of letting periods of labour be followed by intervals of repose.
The "rest" of God was followed by the blessing and sanctification of the seventh day. Such an honour was not conferred on any of the preceding six days; and as it is impossible to conceive in what this peculiar distinction put upon the seventh day consisted, except in making it a season for the bestowment on man of some important benefits suited to his exalted nature and destiny, we must suppose that, when "God blessed and sanctified the seventh day," He declared His gracious purpose of marking that day by the tokens of His best and most valuable gifts, and by such communication of benign and purifying influences from above as would encircle the Sabbath with a halo of holiness. But while God, on His part, thus honoured the Sabbath, by reserving for that season the richest manifestations of His grace and love, He designed that it should also be a period consecrated on the part of man to the purposes of religious meditation and divine worship; and that this object was specially comprehended in the original blessing sanctification of the seventh day, will be seen by the following exegesis of the Hebrew words.
'The verb baarak (H1288) carries with it a double idea-that of blessing, and also of worshipping in the particular manner of bowing on the knees: These two senses may be united when spoken of man, though the first only can be understood when confined to God. [Now, this verb, wayªbaarek (H1288), may here be better taken in Hiphil than in Piel; and, from the well-known power of that, conjugation, to order to do a thing, will signify, "God ordered him to bless and worship by adoration." 'et (H854) may be rendered "upon" (Noldius, Concord., sign 10), and wayªqadeesh (H6942) being also considered in the same conjugation, "ordered to sanctify, or set apart for sacred uses," the whole clause will run thus: "And God rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made; and God commanded (man) to bless and worship on the seventh day, and ordered (him) to sanctify it."]
It thus appears, from the original text, that the words were given in the form of a command from God to Adam; and the design of it was to secure, not only one day of rest and holiness (it being impossible that Adam could be said to rest when he had not yet begun to work), but the periodical and continued observation of a day excepted from labour and devoted to sacred employments' (Kennicott). This passage we regard as the magna charta of the Sabbath, and as clearly establishing the fact that its institution was coeval with the creation of man. It must be admitted, however, that a few eminent writers, both in ancient and modern times, have taken a different view, conceiving the introduction of the subject in this early portion of Genesis to be merely proleptical or anticipatory. Some of them consider the whole account of the six days' work of creation to be a poetical device, framed for the purpose of investing the Sabbath with a high and venerable character, adapted to the notions and feelings of the Israelites;-an opinion which, having mentioned, we dismiss as unworthy of a serious refutation: while others, assuming the law to have been promulgated before the composition of this opening history, maintain that the sacred writer must have looked upon the Sabbath from the standpoint of the Sinaitic legislation, and made only a passing allusion to it in connection with the narrative of the creation.
Paley and Hengstenberg are the most influential writers who, in our times, have supported this view. The former says: 'As the seventh day was erected into a Sabbath on account of God's resting upon that day from the work of the creation, it was natural in the historian, when he had related the history of the creation, to add, "and God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which he had created and made;" although the blessing and sanctification, i:e., the religious distinction and appropriation of that day, were not actually made until many ages afterward. The words not assert that God then "blessed and sanctified" the seventh day, but that He "blessed and sanctified it" for that reason: and if any ask why the Sabbath, or sanctification of the seventh day, was then mentioned, if it was not then appointed, the answer is at hand: the order of connection, and not of time, introduced the mention of the Sabbath in the history of the subject it was ordained to commemorate' ('Moral and Political Philosophy'). This interpretation, he thinks, is strongly supported by two passages of Scripture (Nehemiah 9:12-14; Ezekiel 20:10-12). But surely every intelligent reader must feel that Paley's view is a forced, unnatural construction; that it does the greatest violence to the onward course of the narrative by maintaining that, without any preparatory notice, the historian suddenly stopped, and went out of his way, to advert to an institution which did not originate until 2,500 years afterward.
The apparent continuity of the narrative, the institution of the observance in connection with God's resting on the seventh day which it was designed to commemorate, and the record of the appointment in the past tense as contemporary with the other associated transactions-all point so clearly and strongly to the era of creation, that no person, but one whose mind was warped by the influence of a preconceived theory, could have fallen into so great an error in chronology. But it is further urged, as an objection to the alleged existence of a primeval Sabbath, that there is not a solitary instance of its observance during the whole course of the patriarchal history, and that the first mention of it occurs during the Israelites' journey through the wilderness (Exodus 16:23), where the ordinance seems to have had its birth. We shall afterward show, in our exposition of that passage, as well as of the others previously referred to upon which this argument is founded, that the objectors have entirely misconstrued their language, which bears a very different meaning from that which has been attached to it; that, in fact, there is no institution of the Sabbath indicated in any part of the words; and if not in these words, there is no other intermediate place, between Genesis 2:3 and Exodus 20:11, which can with any show of reason be appealed to for that purpose; so that the Sabbath spoken of in that passage must have been the original institution appointed in the time of Adam.
Meanwhile, we remark that, in these brief and fragmentary annals of the primitive age, many things are but cursorily noticed or entirely omitted; and that their silence, therefore, respecting any established institution can be no proof of its non-existence, as is conclusively established by the fact that there is no reference to the rite of circumcision, the distinctive badge of the Abrahamic family, from Jacob to Moses, and from the entrance of the chosen people into the promised land, with the exception of a metaphorical allusion in the prophecies of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 4:4); no other notice of it, and no account of its actual observance, from the time of the occupation of Canaan until the birth of John the Baptist-a period of 1,500 years. A similar silence is maintained, not only in reference to sacrifice, which, although practised by the members of the first family immediately after the fall, is never alluded to during the protracted interval of 1,500, or, according to some, of 2,000 years, from the death of Abel until the flood; but in regard to the Sabbath itself, which, from the death of Moses until the death of David, a space of nearly 500 years, is never mentioned at all, although it was one of the most sacred and honoured of the national institutions of Israel.
And, surely, if it would be a violation of historical truth to allege, from the absence of all allusion to those ordinances in the sacred history, that they had fallen into desuetude, or were become entirely abolished during lengthened periods among the chosen people, it is equally unwarrantable to apply this rule of judgment to the earliest portion of that history which, from its greater conciseness, is necessarily barren of details. But although circumstantial accounts are given, there are distinct traces of the existence of a primeval Sabbath, and those traces are found in passages so numerous and suggested by events so casually mentioned, as to constitute a body of irresistible evidence that the patriarchs not only knew, but observed with religious solemnity the Sabbatic institution. The first recorded act of worship, though described as performed on an undefined occasion, "in process of time" - in Hebrew, literally, 'at the end of days'-is considered by many as done on some anniversary Sabbath (see the note at Genesis 4:3: cf. the patriarchal book of Job 1:6; Job 2:1, where, in both places, the Hebrew text has the definite article, the day): and the custom of reckoning by sevens, which appears so frequently in the narrative of the flood (Genesis 7:1; Genesis 7:4; Genesis 8:10; Genesis 8:12; Genesis 8:15; Genesis 8:20); of the nuptial festivities of Jacob (Genesis 29:27); and of his ceremonial mourning;-all of them being probably terminated by the arrival of the, Sabbath: the commendation bestowed upon Abraham for keeping the divine commandments and statutes (Genesis 26:5), which, according to Selden, the Jewish writers are unanimously of opinion included the Sabbath:-these, and various other incidents of a similar kind, are, in so rapid and concise a history, pregnant with meaning, and seem very plainly to show that the patriarchs hallowed the Sabbath as a day of religious observance-without, however, the peculiarities afterward attached to it by the Jewish law.
In fact, it is impossible to account for this septenary division of time that obtained among the early patriarchs in any other way than by tracing its origin to the institution of a primeval Sabbath; and, assuming that to be the case, it must have commenced the week in the patriarchal age. 'The case,' says Kennicott, 'seems to be this. At the finishing of the creation God "blessed and sanctified the seventh day" - this seventh day, being the first day of Adam's life, was consecrated by way of first-fruits to God; and therefore Adam may reasonably be supposed to have begun his computation of the days of the week with the first whole day of his existence.
Thus, the Sabbath became the first day of the week. But when mankind fell from the worship of the true God they first substituted the worship of the sun in his place; and preserving the same weekly day of worship, but devoting it to the sun, the Sabbath was thence called Sunday. For that Sunday was originally the first day of the week, and is so still in the East, is proved by Selden ("Jus Naturae et Gentium"). Thus, the Sabbath of the patriarchs continued to be the first day of the week until the Exodus.' (See the note at Exodus 12:41; Exodus 16:28).
The hebdomadal arrangement which, from the first families of mankind, spread with the increasing population throughout the world, furnishes incontestable evidence of the primeval institution of the Sabbath. All other divisions of time have been founded upon observation of the heavenly bodies. The rise and setting of the sun, with his return to the same meridian, forms the natural day; the varying phases of the moon determine the measure of a month; and the revolution which the sun makes, or appears to make, in his motion through the fixed stars, constitutes that larger period of time which is called a year. The alternations of light and darkness, the vicissitudes and peculiar phenomena of the seasons, have given rise to the method of computation by days and months, by winter and spring, summer and autumn; and there have been no people known to be so low in the intellectual or social scale as to be unacquainted with these obvious modes of reckoning. But no such natural origin can be assigned to the division by weeks; and yet the septenary division of time was both early and very extensively prevalent. For it obtained among nations and tribes situated in opposite hemispheres, and having no communication with each other within historic periods. As we learn from Wilkinson, it existed in Egypt, among all the Semitic nations as well as India, and the south of Asia as from Wilkinson, it existed in Egypt, among all the Semitic nations as well as India, and the south of Asia as well as the north of Europe (Rawlinson's 'Herod').
Whence did such an arbitrary practice arise? Experience might have dictated the necessity or convenience of having some smaller measure of time intermediate between a month and a day, and temporary or local circumstances might have given rise among some people to a particular arrangement of days within their own territory; but a merely accidental or arbitrary division of time could never have been adopted into general use; and the wonder still remains, how the hebdomadal arrangement, the custom of reckoning by periods of seven days, became so wide-spread, when it has no obvious foundation in nature. To have divided the month into groups of five days, as was done in the island of Java, might have been recommended by its convenience in dividing the year without a fraction; or into collections of ten days, which would have been still more practicable, from the early and almost universal adoption of the decimal system of numeration.
And this latter plan was actually tried in modern times by the leaders of the French Revolution, who, in pursuing their favourite policy of abolishing the Popish holidays, and the Sabbath along with these, attempted to remodel the calendar by introducing the system of decades, or arranging time into periods of ten days. But even that apparently convenient method of notation would not stand. The Sabbatic institution was found resting on too solid and deep-seated a basis to be undermined by the theories and efforts of infidel philosophers; and, after a short-lived experiment, they were compelled to return to the old system of reckoning by weeks of seven days-a system which, although their philosophy repudiated as having no apparent foundation in nature, they could not, even in the country whose whole political order they subverted, succeed in exploding. This is a remarkable fact, and on natural principles inexplicable, because, a lunar month being twenty-nine and a half days, a week of seven days is not the aliquot part either of a month or a year, nor, in fact, the multiple of any number. 'It is,' as one has remarked, 'merely the proximate quarter of a lunation; and while we might suppose that some one tribe or nation would be satisfied with such a rude approximation, the improbable thing is that a great number of nations should have done so without a common derivation' ('Biblia Sacra,' April, 1863).
'Some have traced the origin of this ancient and extensive practice of computation by periods of seven days-distinguished by Laplace, Bailly, and others, as the oldest monument of astronomical science-to the early observation of the heavenly bodies, and to the pagan custom of designating each of the great planets by the names of their deities: thus they called one the day of the Sun, another the day of the Moon, of Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, etc. But such a method of designating the days of the week was not universal, as it would have been if the weekly period of days had arisen from the planets. Jews, Arabians, Persians, and other nations of the East, denominate the days of the week by their numerical order, as the first, the second, the third, etc. The Goths and our Saxon ancestors agreed with the Greeks and Romans in assigning the first day to the Sun and the second to the Moon-doubtless because these luminaries were most conspicuous; but the other days they assigned to their gods and heroes, as fancy or accident suggested.
Nor have we any reason to conclude either that their Tuisco, Wodin, and Thor were the same with the Roman Mars, Mercury, and Jupiter, or that they had the same, or even any relation, to the planets. The character which the Goths gave to their Odin or Wodin was undoubtedly very different from that of the Roman Mercury. It must also be observed that the method of reckoning by weeks of days was more ancient than any knowledge of some of the planets, and especially more ancient than the absurdities of judicial astrology, which seems to have been the occasion of fixing a relation between certain planets and days. Nay, it would appear that previously to this distribution of days among the planets or gods by astrologers, they found the weekly period of seven days so established that they could not alter it, otherwise they would have accommodated the other gods of the higher order with a day-at least they would have formed a cycle of eight days, in order to have one for the mother of all the gods, the planet Earth, Tellus, Cybele, or whatever was her name' ('Christian Magazine,' December, 1801). Thus, all the various sources-philosophical, astronomical, and mythological-to which the ancient and almost universal custom of dividing time by periods of seven days is ascribed, having been demonstrated to be insufficient to account for the establishment of this artificial method of computation-the only alternative that remains is to appeal to the Mosaic account of the creation, which, by recording the institution of the Sabbath, affords a clear and satisfactory solution of the problem. The appointment of that day of sacred observance, being coeval with the commencement of the human economy, originated the habit of calculating by the periodic recurrence of the seventh day. For it was an institution given to all mankind-not to one age or to one class of men, but to the original pair; and a traditional knowledge of it being preserved in the minds of their descendants, was carried with them into all the various countries of their dispersion. But, in proportion as men departed from the knowledge and worship of the true God, they lost the knowledge of the Sabbath; while, at the same time, through the influence of long-established custom, the system of weekly arrangement into periods of seven days still continued to prevail.
The Sabbath, "being made for man," and instituted for his benefit in the days of his primeval innocence, was intended to be a blessing; and all observation, as well as experience, has shown that the regular observance of it is calculated to exercise the most beneficial influence on the whole condition of man-his physical and mental, as well as moral, nature. Independently of all theological considerations, and judging solely from the analogy of the divine procedure in nature, it is evident that to regard the commandment of the Sabbath merely as a positive enactment, is to take too narrow a view of the subject, and to be insensible to the important place it was destined to occupy in the economy of human life. Science has demonstrated that the institution rests on a basis of natural law, and that the willful or habitual breach of that law brings, sooner or later, severe, sometimes sudden, punishment upon the transgressor, by the snapping asunder of the cords of life, or an eclipse of the light of reason.
Moreover, the researches of the most eminent physiologists have brought them to the conclusion that the human constitution has been framed on the principle of a seventh portion of time being dedicated to the enjoyment of repose; and that the man who faithfully gives to his body its weekly interval of rest, and to his mind a relaxation from the pressure of worldly pursuits and cares, is the better fitted for resuming, with new zest and fresh vigour, the duties of the ensuing week. In a medical point of view, then, the Sabbath forms part of the remedial system of nature; and while the darkness of night affords a frequently recurring but brief alternation of rest from labour by inducing sleep, which has been called justly, in a certain sense, 'kind nature's sweet restorer,' the seventh day gives a fuller, a longer, and more adequate compensation to the physical and mental powers jaded or exhausted by the continuous exertions of the six previous days. And hence also, as a question of social science, the Sabbath observance has received the sanction of the legislature, and the commendation of statesmen like Macaulay:-nay even of such as Proudhon and others, who, though no friends to revelation, laud it as a welcome and necessary season of relaxation to man-subservient to the conservation of his vital energies, conducive to longevity, and, so far from being a troublesome and inexpedient suspension of labour, a powerful auxiliary, by its ameliorating influence, in stimulating to a vigorous and persevering resumption of worldly duties.
The institution of the Sabbath is of still higher importance to man by affording him a periodical season for withdrawing from the engrossing scenes of the outer world to attend to the interests of his higher nature, and prepare for the enjoyment of that future state to which he is destined. Though naturally religious, and disposed by the original instincts of his being to dedicate a portion of his time to the worship and service of his Creator, he was not left at liberty to determine at what season he should perform that sacred duty; but the authority of a positive commandment, united with the inborn sentiments of his moral nature, led him to consecrate "the seventh day," the first of his existence, to the honour of God. And this fixing of the time for religious worship from the first was an act of divine wisdom, because, had it been left to be appointed by the will or at the convenience of mankind, either the world would have been a theater of religious dissension, or religion would have been entirely extinguished in the contest.
Human wisdom would have been incompetent to decide the just proportion of time that was due to God and Human wisdom would have been incompetent to decide the just proportion of time that was due to God, and human power to establish a uniformity of practice. But God was pleased at the commencement of man's history to make known his will, by allowing him six days in continuous succession to carry on the necessary business of the world, while the Creator claims only "the seventh day" to be held sacred to divine service; and this appointment having been made at such an initial period must, from the reason of the thing, as Kennicott has observed, be commensurate and of equal continuance with the present nature of man. By affording a season of weekly recurrence for reflecting on his relations to God-on the duties of his present condition, and his prospects as a spiritual and immortal creature-an inestimable boon has been conferred upon man. For in addition to the beneficial influence the Sabbath exerts upon his natural condition, it tends, by the calm, purifying, and elevating services that belong to it, to render him wiser and better. The Sabbath is the sun of the moral world, the mainspring of moral action, the handmaid of Christian faith and piety,-a weekly stage at which man pauses to think of the journey that still lies before him, to examine into the progress he has made Zionward, and to strengthen his views of "the better country" which has been promised him. In this view, because securing the means of religious improvement in the hearts of individuals, and directing their attention, at regularly recurring intervals, to subjects of pious and solemn meditation-for preserving and diffusing the principles of sound morality and genuine religion throughout communities and nations, it was "made for man," and appears every way worthy of the wisdom and benevolence of Him who is "Lord of the Sabbath."
Concluding Remarks: This chapter is unique in the literature of the world. Whence did Moses obtain the cosmogony he has recorded in it, so different in character, sublime simplicity, and orderly details from the puerile and absurd fictions of pagan mythology?-Not from the lights of nature or reason, because, though these proclaim the eternal power and Godhead by the things which are made, they cannot tell how those things were made;-not from any human source, because man was not in existence, to have been a witness of the scenes described. Nor was this account of creation borrowed from Egyptian sources, to which, from his early residence in the land of Pharaoh, as well as from his rank and education, Moses must be presumed to have enjoyed the privilege of full and familiar access. The allegation is devoid of all evidence and probability, as must appear manifest to every reader who compares the paltry, degrading, and ill-assorted traditions of Egypt regarding the creation that have been preserved by Diodorus and Plutarch, with the beautiful, majestic, and consistent record in Genesis. None but the Creator himself, or some delegated messenger from heaven, could have given this information; and therefore it is "through faith we understand that the world was framed by the word of God" (Hebrews 11:3).
As to the form in which the chapter appears, the style assumed is the anthropomorphic method, which was adapted, in great condescension, to the limited knowledge and the simple associations of comparatively uncultivated people. But it is not, as Eichhorn calls it, a birthday song of creation, composed to accompany the Hebrew dances at the anniversary festival of nature; it is not, as Knapp and others suppose, designed simply as a pictorial representation, exhibiting, in a succession of panoramic scenes, the leading departments of creation; it is not, as Hugh Miller and Kurtz imagined, a series of visions that passed before the mind of Moses, as the events of futurity were at a later period submitted to the mental eyes of the prophets; it is not a political device of the Hebrew legislator, concealed in the language of poetry and figure, accommodated to the views and prejudices of the Israelites, and designed to win them the more easily to embrace the doctrines he taught them regarding the unity of God and the sanctification of a Sabbath; it is not the scientific theory of some Hebrew Descartes, as Goodwin asserts ('Essays and Reviews'); still less is it a Hebrew myth, embodying, in a written form, the legendary tales which, from an unknown antiquity, had been floating in the popular traditions of Israel. The chapter, in whatever way the information was obtained (see Introduction), stands as a record of facts, a veritable narrative of real events; and they who regard it in any one of the various literary forms that have been just alluded to, escape from some difficulties; but they destroy the historic basis of religion, and in reducing these early annals to the character of allegory or myth, leave us entirely without any solid foundation on which faith can rest.
Accepting it, then, as a narrative of stupendous acts of creative power and wisdom transacted long before the Accepting it, then, as a narrative of stupendous acts of creative power and wisdom transacted long before the historic period, and described on the testimony of a self-revealing Divinity the first thing in the record that strikes the intelligent and reflecting reader is the evidence of God's direct superintendence of the work. It tells us that there was a commencement of the present system of things-for matter did not exist from eternity; and that the material fabric of the world did not assume the order and arrangement it now exhibits by the development of natural law, nor its various tenants spring into being by spontaneous generation, because the narrative represents God as the originator of the universe, bringing this world, which is the principal subject of it, to a completion by a successive series of divine interpositions. It tells us, further, that there was a regular order observed in processes of creation-vegetation preceding animals-and a progress from the lower to the higher, by the introduction of new and more perfectly organized species, until man at length was created, the last of the series. The sacred character of the history is very strikingly manifested by the fact that the inspired writer bestows only a single transient notice on departments of physical nature, with the elucidation of which volumes and cyclopaedias have been filled; and does not enter into any details until he comes to view man placed in his probationary state.
Difficulties may have been, and still are felt, in the interpretation of the Mosaic narrative of Creation; but they have been greatly diminished by the discoveries of modern science, and we may hope to be in still more favourable circumstances for removing the remaining obscurities of this archaic history by the progressive advancement of knowledge. We have seen that the works of nature have already shed interesting and important light on many of the declarations of the Word. Believing, as we do, that both have proceeded from the same Divine Author, it would ill become us to shrink from an investigation of the one, from any unworthy suspicion or pusillanimous dread that the facts discovered may tend to obscure the evidences or weaken the authority of the other. Let both be studied on their own respective ground, and we may rest assured that they will be found in perfect agreement; nay, that the more we advance in a right interpretation of the volume of nature, the more will it be found to accord with a right interpretation of the volume of grace.
These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD
God made the earth and the heavens,
These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth. The Hebrew [ towlªdowt (H8435)] means generations, descents, lineage; and hence, as the early history of all Oriental nations was derived chiefly from the genealogical records of tribes and families, the word came by a natural transition to signify the narrative of any one's origin and pedigree. This secondary meaning it bears frequently in the book of Genesis, which, from the quarter where it was written, as well as from its being the most ancient document in the world, consists for the most part of a series of genealogical memoirs; and in the simple, artless structure of the composition, the several parts of the narrative are connected by the formula, "These are the generations," which here, and in nine other passages (Genesis 5:1; Genesis 6:9; Genesis 10:1; Genesis 11:10; Genesis 11:27; Genesis 25:12; Genesis 25:19; Genesis 36:1; Genesis 37:2), stands at the commencement of a new section. The precise relation, however, which in the present passage it bears to the context has been a subject of much difference of opinion.
It is considered by some to be (as in Leviticus 7:37; Leviticus 11:41) a codicil to the preceding chapter; and this opinion is founded on the following among other reasons: that there is no mention in the ensuing record of the creation of the heavens, while the first clause of the verse seems to be a verbatim repetition of Genesis 1:1; and also, that among the various readings of the Septuagint the word rendered "Lord" is omitted in some MSS. But others, with whose views we coincide, maintain that the formula, "These are the generations, never has a retrospective effect, but invariably serves as an introduction to the following section; and that, in addition to this consideration, the name of the Creator, who through the whole of the preceding passage was called simply "God," but here "the Lord God," is not an interpolation, there being no ground for such an assertion. In the first clause of the verse, "the heavens and the earth" denote all created objects-the universe, which originated from the creative power of God; in the last clause, "the earth and the heavens" - a peculiar phrase which occurs only in one other passage (Psalms 148:13) - signify this world and the visible heavens in relation to it.
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.
Every plant of the field before it was in the earth ... It is difficult to discover what is the exact import of this statement, as it stands, because it may convey the idea either that all the various productions of the vegetable kingdom were brought into being at first in full maturity, or that the embryo germs, the seminal principles only, were laid in the earth by the Creator, who left them to spring up into the development of their several natures and properties according to the established laws of vegetation. But the truth is, there is no room for speculation upon the subject, as the meaning of the sacred historian, which is rather obscurely and confusedly given in the English version, is, when rightly brought out from the original text, both clear and definite. According to a well-known rule of Hebrew grammar, kol (H3605), every, followed by a negative, produces the sense of none (cf. Exodus 20:10, 'Thou shalt not do every work' = 'Thou shalt do no work,' Matthew 24:22, 'All flesh would not be saved' = 'No flesh would be saved');-so that, according to this principle of interpretation "every plant of the field before it was in the earth" means 'no plant of the field was yet in the earth.'
Moreover, the proper meaning of the word [ Terem (H2962)] rendered, "before" is 'not yet' (cf. Genesis 27:4, "before I die" - literally, 'while I shall not yet die; Exodus 12:34, "before it was leavened" - literally, 'while it was not yet leavened;' also Exodus 10:7; Joshua 2:8; 1 Samuel 3:3; Isaiah 65:24). If, then, we regard the title or superscription prefixed, to this section as ending at the word "created," conformably to the reading in the Septuagint version, and the second section is beginning with the words "in the day," the whole passage, as rendered by Rosenmuller, De Wette, Tuch, and others, will stand thus: 'These are the generations of the heavens and the earth, when they were created. In the day when the Lord God made earth and heaven, then no plant of the field was yet in the earth, and no herb of the field yet grew,' etc. In entering upon this section, it is necessary to advert to the opinion entertained in certain quarters, that it contains a separate and totally different account of creation from that which is given in the opening chapter.
Thus, Bunsen speaks of the 'double account of creation' ('Egypt's Place'), considering the two narratives as compiled from independent sources of information, which cannot be treated as an originally connected narrative; while the Rationalistic critics in Germany, and various writers among ourselves, such as Baden Powell, the anonymous authors of 'Pre-Adamite Man,' and 'The Genesis of the Earth and of Man,' regard the details here given of man's origin as the account of a younger branch of the human family, the older race of the Adamites having either become extinct, or inhabiting another and a distant region of the world. But this opinion rests on no solid basis of truth; and sound criticism leads to a very different conclusion-namely, that the narrative contained in this chapter is additional and supplementary-an appendix to the preceding account if creation, subjoined to furnish some details respecting the formation of the first pair and their primeval abode, which it was not consistent with the plan of that general record to give. That the supply of such particulars was the sole purpose contemplated by the insertion of this consecutive section is proved by a variety of considerations:
(1) Philological reasons. The title towlªdowt (H8435), as has been already shown, denotes, not the origin, but the historical development, of man. Accordingly he is spoken of as the man, previously mentioned as having been created; we are instructed as to the manner in which his nature was formed; and in the description given of his aboriginal condition, we read, not of 'the earth,' but of "the field" and "the ground" -
i.e., the alluvial soil which required cultivation-of the necessity there was for his labour to superintend and promote the growth of vegetation, and of the domestic animals that were enlisted in his service, or had their habitat in his locality.
(2) The character and style of the narrative. There is no regard paid in it to the element of time, which must have been strictly observed had the object been to describe in order the successive acts of creation, because not only are the lower animals mentioned in a very cursory manner, and, as will be afterward shown, according to the Semitic style of narration, which was characterized by frequent repetition of what had been previously stated, but the creation of the woman, without whom it was "not good" for Adam to continue, must have taken place previous to the declaration of God, that, all things which He had made was "very good," as well as to the removal of both into the garden. The contents of this chapter are miscellaneous, and the arrangement of them seems to have been regulated by the nature and importance of the matters on which minute details were necessary.
(3) The name given to the Creator. From the beginning of this section He is called Lord God, and this name continues, with little variation, to be the designation applied to Him until the end of the third chapter. Now, these two words are not synonymous. They are perfectly distinct, and are the signs of different ideas. [ 'Elohiym (H430), as has been already shown (Genesis 1:1), is equivalent to our word "Deity".] It represents the Being who originated and sustains the universe, who has power to punish as well as to bless; and it was applied by the pagan to any object of religious worship and reverence: whereas the Hebrew word, inaccurately rendered in our version "Lord," from the kurios (G2962) of the Septuagint, is Yahweh (Jehovah), or rather Yahwe, "the I am," the appellation by which the God of Israel was specially distinguished. 'Elohiym (H430), Farrar says ('Bampton Lectures,' 1862) 'may be said to denote God in the abstract; and Yahweh (the LORD) describes God in His concrete relation to mankind-the revealed Deity. 'Elohiym was generic, and could be applied to any object of worship; Yahweh was specific-the covenant God of Israel. A really different moral conception was offered by Providence to the Hebrew mind through the employment of these words.'-The combination, then, of these divine names, so remarkable as the characteristic feature of a section which describes the personal relations of man to his Maker, was not an accidental circumstance. It was done deliberately, to serve an important purpose, and that purpose was to intimate the identity between the Lord who was the object of Israel's worship and the God who was the Creator of all things. The two names appear to be in apposition, and should be regarded as bearing the same import with what is more fully expressed elsewhere, (Exodus 9:30; Deut. 33:30; Psalms 18:31; Isaiah 44:6, etc.)
But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
There went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground - Hebrew [ 'eed (H108)], 'vapour, mist, rising from the earth and forming clouds, so called because it surrounds the earth like a vail or covering' (Gesenius' 'Lexicon'). In the Septuagint version it is rendered by peegee (G4077), a fountain; and hence, many of the old commentators consider that the ground was watered by flowing streams. But our translators have given the proper sense of the original term.-It has been said that this passage contains a description of the primitive state of the earth directly opposite to that given Genesis 1:9-10, where the earth is said to have been completely inundated and consequently furnishes one of several proofs that the second chapter records a different and later cosmogony. But the objection is completely groundless, since the two passages do not refer to the same thing.
In the first chapter the dry land appeared, having just emerged from the ocean; in the second, it is not the earth at large that is spoken of in contradistinction to the waters, but "the field," the "ground," which required rain to refresh it, and the labour of man to till it, in order to foster the growth of its produce, the cereals and fruit trees, from which his subsistence was to be derived, and which, since they do not spring up wild, required the care of an intelligent power. Thus, the unity of the Mosaic account of the creation is fully established. Whatever relation we consider the second section as bearing to the first-whether we view both as originally composed by the sacred historian, or derived from separate and independent records previously existing (see Introduction) - they were blended by him, under the direction of the Spirit of inspiration, into one connected and consistent whole. The second narrative was not needed to complete the first, which was a perfect record in itself, as a general history of creation; but designed to relate some additional particulars on things interesting and important to be known in the primeval state of man. The objects contemplated in the two narratives are entirely different. The one is an account of creation, the other a history of created things. The one forms the pedestal on which the Bible history that commences at this new paragraph is raised; and while [ towlªdowt (H8435)] "generations" would have been a most improper superscription to a cosmogony, record of creation, it was the most suitable title to a history which purposed to describe the earliest abode, the catastrophe that led to the fall, and the immediate descendants of the first pair.
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground. The Hebrew verb [ wayiytser (H3335)], to form, is used of a workman who carves statues in wood and metal, or of a potter who moulds clay. It must be considered as used in the anthropomorphic style as applied to the Creator; but it is an appropriate term, as expressive of the artistic skill which is so strikingly displayed in the organic mechanism of the human frame. Haa'aadaam (H120), not "man," as in our version, but 'the man,' from haa'ªdaamaah (H127), the ground, vegetable earth or mould; and hence, arose the generic term Adam, denoting 'redness,' or of "the earth, earthy" - a derivation much more natural than others which have been suggested and advocated. `Aapaar (H6083), dry earthy dust (cf. Genesis 3:19; Numbers 23:10). The truth of the statement made in this passage has been demonstrated by science, which, by chemical analysis of the body of man, has found that its substance is composed of the very same elements as the soil which forms the crust of the earth and the limestone that lies imbedded in its bowels.
Physiologists enumerate them as follows:-carbon, chlorine, phosphorus, fluorine, nitrogen, magnesium, silicum, aluminium, potassium, sodium, calcium, iron, manganese, titanium, oxygen, hydrogen. Some of these, indeed, appear in very small proportions; but carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, constitute for the most part the soft tissues or fluids, while the bone or harder parts consist of calcium, the phosphate and carbonate of lime. Now, this statement of the origin and composition of the human body, so level to the apprehension of the simplest and rudest minds, yet in harmony with the most advanced philosophy, was of the greatest importance to be made, as it was calculated, and perhaps intended, to refute a notion which obtained most extensively among the ancient pagan, that people were indigenous [autochthonoi, as the Greeks termed it] - i:e., had sprung up spontaneously from the soil in every country they inhabited. Here it is announced, on inspired authority, that the progenitor of the human race was not only created by a Divine Maker, but fashioned by Him in adaptation to the exalted place man was destined to occupy in the economy of nature.
And what numberless evidences of wise and intelligent design does the fabric of the human body display? Look to its skeleton, and the framework of bones, of various shapes and sizes, so disposed and adjusted as not only to impart solidity to the corporeal structure, but to form a safe receptacle to the vital parts; whilst the arms and limbs, attached by joints like hinges, and the vast number of small bones which are placed at the extremities, conduce to flexibility and ease of motion. View it in its internal arrangements, and, besides the fleshy portions which adhere to the bones, and the integument of skin which covers and adorns them, there are the muscular and nervous cords, the sanguineous and absorbent vessels, which intersect the body like the meshes of a net, and respectively perform important functions, in repairing what is waste, in forming the secretions and circulating the fluids which are necessary for digestion and lubrication, and in sustaining the whole system in healthiness and activity. Consider the mechanism with which it is provided for communicating with external nature and mankind in the world around it; and there is the hand, that is of such indispensable utility for the purposes of personal convenience or industrial action, and on the structural fitness of which for prehensile services a treatise has been written; there is the eye, that is capable of discerning objects whether near or remote, and of revealing the wonders of the material universe; the ear, that, catching every variety of sound, forms the medium of holding conversation with friends, as well as receiving intelligence from instructors-of bringing to us sweet melodies that delight or soothe, as well as harsh notes that warn us of danger; and the other organs of sensation, which convey their several impressions to the head-which, placed, as it were, on the summit of the edifice, surmounts the whole frame, as 'the dome of thought, the palace of the soul.'
In short, the erect form, betokening superior dignity; the features of the countenance, expressive of intelligence; the number, variety, and symmetry of the parts; the outer configuration, as well as the inner structure, of the body of man, with its complement of ligaments, canals, glands, and humours-exhibit such a specimen of Almighty workmanship, that every reflecting person who contemplates it, must be forced to exclaim that "we are fearfully and wonderfully made." At its first formation, however, the body of man, so exquisitely organized, was no more than a mass of inert matter, until the Lord God endowed it with vitality.
And breathed into his nostrils the breath of life - literally, lives: but though in the plural form, it is commonly rendered "life" (cf. Genesis 3:14; Genesis 3:17; Job 24:22), breath, wind, "breath of life," the natural or organic life, as the phrase usually denotes (Genesis 6:17; Genesis 7:15).
And man became a living soul - literally, an animal of life (cf. Genesis 2:19; Genesis 1:20; Genesis 1:24; Genesis 1:30; Genesis 9:12; Genesis 9:15-16, where the words are used in this sense); and hence, Dr. Warburton paraphrases the passage before us in the following manner:-`He breathed into this statue the breath of life, and the lump of clay became a living creature' ('Divine Legation').
What it was that was thus blown into the unconscious frame we do not know. Life in all its forms and degrees is a mysterious principle, which for centuries has baffled the earnest enquiries of physiologists, and, notwithstanding the great advances of science in the present day, is as inscrutable as ever. We know something of life by its manifestations and enjoyments, as well as by its opposite, death. But what is that subtle invisible element, which, when infused into an organized body like that of man, not only imparts health, sensation, and capacity of action, but gives to each organ and tissue the elective power of absorbing from the air, and from other foreign substances whatever is suited for its own assimilation and nourishment, science cannot tell us, and revelation has not made known. We see the effects which life produces; but we must be content, perhaps forever, to remain ignorant of both its nature and the mode of its operation.
We are not to conclude from the expression, "breathed into his nostrils," that the Creator literally performed this act. However, 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; and that God by His immediate energy, described in the anthropomorphic style, imparted to the newly formed creature that power of breathing which is essential to life; and hence, it is added that in consequence of this communicated respiration "man became a living soul" -
i.e., a living creature (1 Corinthians 15:45). But while this is undoubtedly, according to Scripture usage, the import of the latter phrase-namely, that man was by a direct operation of his Maker endowed with the natural life which vivified his clay frame-it naturally occurs to inquire whether this is all that is meant in this passage, and whether no indication is given here of what is distantly taught in numerous passages of Scripture-a higher life possessed by man than the real existence he has in common with the brutes?
The Hebrew word [ nepesh (H5315), animal or creature] does also denote the soul, with its feelings and affections (cf. Psalms 104:1; Psalms 116:7; Psalms 139:14; Psalms 146:1, etc.); [ nishmat (H5397)], breath, is applied to signify the mind or spirit (Proverbs 20:27; the occurrence of [ chayiym (H2416)], lives, and the significant act of the Creator breathing into his nostrils-an act which is not recorded as having been done in bestowing organic life upon any of the inferior orders of creation, and which was repeated by Christ in the new creation of the soul (John 20:22) - the use of such phraseology and such an act is very remarkable; and therefore we sympathize with the views of those interpreters who think the historian, without making here any express assertion of it (cf. Genesis 1:26), designed to intimate that the newly formed body of man was simultaneously animated by an intelligent, immaterial, immortal spirit, 'When of all animated, beings,' says Graves, ('Lectures on Pentateuch'), 'it is asserted of man alone that God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul," we cannot much dissent from those commentators who conceive the breath of life, thus immediately derived from God, partook of the immortality of its divine Author, and that the living soul which man thus acquired deserved that title more eminently than the animating principle of any of the brute creation, all of which are described as formed with such different views, and sharing so inferior a degree of their Creator's favour.
This interpretation of the passage is supported by the most respectable authorities, ancient and modern. The Targums of Jonathan and Onkelos adopt it, and the Arabic version renders the words, "and Adam was made a rational soul;" thus showing how strongly these translators felt the reasonableness of distinguishing the principle of life in man and the inferior animals.' Poole thinks that the "breath of lives" is designed to express the various kinds of life which the act of divine respiration may be said to communicate to us, namely:
(1) The natural life, as far as respects the nourishment and growth of the body;
(2) The animal life, with respect to the power of sensation and locomotion; and, in this respect, the language of the sacred historian strictly accords with the doctrine of modern physiology, that animals have two lives-a vegetative life, which is involuntary, and whose center is the heart-an animal life, which is voluntary, and whose center is the brain;
(3) The life of an intelligent being, with respect to reason and the other faculties of the soul. Most modern writers take the same view of the verse before us, including even Dr. Warburton, who, though he has so strenuously maintained that in all the legislation of Moses no intelligible hint of a future state is to be found, yet, says on this passage, by the words "the breath of life," and "a living soul," which discriminate LIFE in man from LIFE in brutes, we are to understand not immateriality simply, but immortality, the continuance of life after the separation of the dualism, in virtue of man's rationality, which, making him responsible for his actions, may, according to the different parts in God's moral economy, require that separate existence. The passage which points out this difference is made to serve for an introduction to the history of the free gift of mortality. And a better place for it cannot be conceived than that which teacheth us that the subject on whom this gift was bestowed is, by the immateriality of his physical nature, capable of enjoying it, and by the freedom of his reasonable nature accountable for the abuse of it. So much is observed in honour of that exquisite knowledge with which the sacred historian was endowed.
According to this interpretation, then, which is the just view of the passage, man was formed immediately by the Creator, whence he is called "the son of God" (Luke 3:38), and made a compound being, consisting of body and soul. By the one he is connected with the inferior animals around him, while by the other he is the connecting link with higher orders of creation. Man thus formed was the natural head or progenitor of the whole human race, the father of all men who have been propagated according to the ordinary course of nature, and possess the same identical original substance of which his body was composed, with all its peculiar characteristics, from one generation to another.
Since man belongs to the animal world, he of course in that respect comes fully under the general category, and his body is propagated by the same law which regulates the transmission of that of other animals. But with regard to his 'spirit,' that immaterial part of his nature must be derived in a totally different manner; and accordingly all, except those who assert a perfect and inseparable identification of soul and body, believe either that the soul of every human being that comes into the world is separately created, or that it is propagated conformably to some mysterious, unknown law, by which men are endowed with the power of transmitting their compound rational nature. Without doing more than simply alluding to the Platonizing views of Origen and other Fathers, and the wild notion of the Talmudists, that all souls had been created "in the beginning," and were lodged by God in a certain place, whence each one was taken out to inhabit the respective bodies of individuals, a controversy was begun in the sixth century between the creational and transmissional theories - i:e., whether souls were successively created by the direct power of God, or parents were endowed with the property of propagating their rational nature to their offspring.
The former view seems to be necessitated by the simple, indivisible, spiritual nature of the soul; while the latter only appears to harmonize with the doctrine of human corruption. 'All positive dogmatism,' says Dr. Hodge ('Princeton Review,' April, 1860), 'upon this subject is unseemly and injurious. It is a point on which the Church has always differed, and as to which the most profound have been the least confident. In the early Church, Jerome was decidedly for creation; Tertullian for propagation; Augustine for creation, but with admission of difficulties on both sides which he could not solve. The Augustinians of the middle ages were for creation; the Lutherans in general for propagation; the Reformed or Calvinists almost in a body for creation. Such being the historical facts in the case, it would be an obvious impropriety to give a decided opinion.'
And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
And the Lord God planted a garden. It is the dictate of nature for parents to provide for their offspring; and in like manner He who implanted this natural feeling in the human breast gave an example of its power and operation in directing His own paternal conduct, because immediately after "the Lord God had formed man out of the dust of the ground," and had destined him to occupy an important place in the economy of this world, He made a special provision for the support and happiness of that creature who alone, of all its inhabitants, was the bearer of His image and the object of His special interest and delight. Such a provision was absolutely necessary on the introduction of the first man into the world. Ever since the regular course of Providence began to run, the human race, who are born in a state of helpless inability, enjoy in the tender care of their parents the benefit of natural guardians, and, during the preliminary years of their infancy and childhood, have not only their immediate wants supplied, but they are made to go through a course of practical education by which their faculties are developed, experience is acquired, and they are gradually fitted for assuming in due time the responsibility of making an independent provision for themselves. But Adam had no natural parents to supply him with the means of support-no earthly predecessors to teach him the lessons of experience; and but for some special interposition on his behalf, he who of all earthly creatures was the noblest, would, wanting the instincts of the lower animals, have been the most helpless; he who of all the human race had been most highly favoured in being brought into existence when nature was in her earliest state of rich and vigorous productiveness, would have been the poorest and most miserable, as not knowing what to do or where to turn.
Although it is difficult to form an exact idea of Adam's condition when he first started into life, he was created "a man" at first, and it is probably not far from the truth to suppose that he possessed in full maturity all the powers of observation and all the faculties of mind with which other men are slowly ripened in their gradual progress to manhood. But still, with all his powers and faculties fully developed, he was destitute of knowledge and experience both in the proper selection of his food, and in the performance of the duties which the law of his nature imposed on him; and his happiness must have been frequently interrupted by a painful feeling of uncertainty, or in his bewilderment and ignorance he must have been led among objects and scenes of peril, if a friendly hand had not provided for his safety, by putting him in a definite sphere, where he might be established in the use of his physical powers, as well as trained to the habits of an intelligent and moral agent.
Accordingly, this indispensable security for the well-being and training of man was not overlooked by his kind and condescending Creator, who had no sooner moulded his material frame, and animated him with the principle of life as well as with the light of reason, than He placed the newly-created pair as it were in a school, to be trained under His own eye to activity and usefulness. Rationalistic writers, who regard the whole account of primeval man as allegorical, reject this description of his first abode as a myth; and even writers of sounder views consider it partly spurious. Granville Penn regards that portion of the passage which is contained in Genesis 2:11-14 inclusive as a marginal gloss of some ancient commentator, which became incorporated with the text either during the captivity, while the Hebrews were dwelling in the regions that border upon the Tigris and Euphrates, or after their return. But he stands alone in the opinion that this is an interpolation, because the part objected to is found in all Hebrew MSS.; and, besides as it has been always recognized as genuine both by the Jewish and the Christian Church, this writer's view must be rejected as opposed to every sound principle of criticism. From the terms of the eighth verse it appears that the spot selected for the education and discipline of the first man formed part of a tract of country that went by the general name of Eden.
Eden in Hebrew means pleasantness, and accordingly some render gan (H1588) bª-`Eeden (H5731), a garden in a pleasant country. But that Eden was a definite region appears from the circumstance of mention being made respecting its geographical relation to the land of Nod (Genesis 4:16), and also of its being distinguished by the punctuation from other places of the same name, the Eden in which Adam was created being always written `Eeden (H5731) (cf. Genesis 2:15; Genesis 3:23; Genesis 4:16; Isaiah 51:3; Ezekiel 28:13; Genesis 31:9; Joel 2:3), whereas the Eden in other countries is written `Eden (H5729). It was probably a large and extensive district; but, although it might naturally have been supposed that a part of the world which was the cradle of the human family, and which was associated in the memory of every succeeding race as the scene in which its earliest inhabitants earned their experience and spent their lives, no record has been preserved of its actual locality. Innumerable conjectures have been formed; discussions almost interminable have been carried on by men who, from the interest they took in the subject, have eagerly espoused some favourite theory to determine its site and boundaries; almost every region in the old world has found zealous advocates who have conferred upon it the honour of furnishing the abode of the primitive man; and, in the failure of all attempts to lead to a certain or satisfactory result, some writers have come to the conclusion that, from the deep and extensive changes produced by the flood, or in the course of ages, on the earth's surface, it is impossible now to ascertain the situation. But surely this conclusion is not well founded, because Moses has here furnished data which define to a certain extent the locality in which man spent the days of his innocence; and although these data can help only in approximating to a knowledge of the region where it was situated, it is evident that the historian spoke of places known in his day.
It has been alleged, indeed, that this chapter originally formed part of an antediluvian document; that the account which it gives of Eden was applicable to its actual state before the flood; and that the places here enumerated cannot now afford any reliable indices to the topographical site of Paradise, as the postdiluvians might have revived the primitive names of places in other quarters, just as emigrants in modern times are accustomed to borrow from scenes in the mother country designations for the settlements they form in new and distant colonies. Admitting the probability of this allegation, that Moses drew from antediluvian archives, yet by incorporating the tradition with his inspired narrative, he not only guaranteed the historical truth of its description of Eden, but, by the obvious tenor of the language employed, attested that the grand physical characteristics of the region were still remaining in his day. Because it will be observed, that all that pertains to the Creator's preparation of the place is related in the past tense (Genesis 2:8-10); and had it been the historian's purpose merely to state that the abode of the first pair was in Eden, he might have stopped with the mention of that fact; but, apparently with the view of indicating the region to those for whom he was writing, he proceeds (Genesis 2:11-14) in the present tense, and mentions the various places which come within the range of his description in a manner which, conveys an irresistible impression of their actual existence.
A leading feature in the account of the garden of Eden is the provision made for its irrigation, so indispensable not only to the beauty but to the existence of an Oriental garden; and in proceeding to consider the description, it is necessary to meet a preliminary objection that has been brought against the truth of the sacred narrative, from the natural impossibility of any river existing when as yet there had been no rain (Genesis 2:5), and sufficient time had not elapsed for a large stream to form, by slow and gradual attrition, a channel for the transmission of its waters to the sea. The objection has no force; and, as Penn well remarks, there is no more difficulty in this solution than that with which mere physical science has always had to contend, in admitting immediate creation as the true mode of all first formations. Like every other part of the present world, the first formation of rivers was created at once perfect; afterward they were subjected, like other material things, to the operation of certain laws which were enacted for their maintenance and continuance.
The Divine Designer and Artificer of the general mundane system manifested His intelligence and power as much by the formation and direction of rivers as the means of irrigating the whole surface of the globe-without which system of irrigation the entire vegetation of the earth must have perished,-as in the formation of the arterial and venal conduits which serve an analogous use in the animal frame. The Mosaic account therefore, which states that "the Lord God had not caused it to rain," for the physical process of evaporation and of the formation of clouds had not commenced, and yet that rivers flowed to water the ground, is in perfect harmony with the order of nature; and this conclusion is supported by the testimony of modern geology, because we are told, in reference to that great convulsion of the globe which D'Orbigny has described as immediately preceding the human period, that 'among the secondary effects which followed, and have left their traces on every part of the earth's surface, rivers of immense magnitude formed their streams from all the elevated summits over the subjacent plains, spreading out from point to point, of their course into extensive lakes' (Lardner's 'Pre-Adamite Earth').
The names of two of the rivers-the Hiddekel and the Euphrates-serve to a certain extent to indicate the quarter of the world where the paradisiacal garden was situated; and many writers have remarked that, in the enumeration of the rivers, the order observed is from east to west, or from the most distant to that which was nearest, and therefore best known. The narrative makes mention of "a river" - apparently a great river-which "went out of Eden to water the garden." Its source does not seem to have been within the limits of the garden: but on issuing from that paradise "it was parted, and became four heads" - i:e., was divided into four streams [the lª- (a preposition) after the verb indicating a change from one state into another, and raa'shiym (H7218) - literally, "heads", meaning "branches" of the parent river]. No place can now be found which meets all these conditions; and hence, a great number of hypotheses founded on one or more features of the description, have been advanced to determine the supposed site, a summary of which is exhibited in the annexed table: Several of these localities, it will be observed, to which the honour is thus assigned of having been the scene of the terrestrial paradise, are very remote, and their claims to that distinction rest on a very slender basis. Others might be mentioned; some are in India and Ceylon, others in the middle and even in the north of Europe, the advocacy of these being grounded on the belief that a complete change of climate has taken place since the flood. It would be a superfluous effort to state the arguments by which the respective theorists support the probable truth of their own views; nor is it at all necessary, because the knowledge of such opinions can serve no purpose but the gratification of a prurient curiosity to know the vagaries of opinion, or to see the skill and ingenuity which learned and speculative men have displayed in the establishment of a favourite idea. Two of the opinions only of those enumerated in the tabular view have met with general approval. The one is that placed second in the list, which lays the scene of Eden in Korneh, Babylonia.
According to this scheme, the garden lay on either side of the united stream of the Hiddekel (the Tigris) and of the Euphrates, which junction is now called by the natives Shat-el-Arab, and which begins two days' journey above Bussorah, and about five miles below divides again into several channels which empty themselves into the Persian Gulf. Thus, the Shat-el-Arab would be the river that "went out of Eden;" and if viewed not according to the current, but by an inspection of the channel, it appears to divide into four branches, which constituted the four rivers mentioned by Moses, and caused by the action of the tidal sea opposing the current of the united stream near the embouchure on a delta or level plain of sand or mud accumulations-namely, two below, the Pison, which is the western branch, and the Gihon; and two above, the Tigris and the Euphrates. Amongst other difficulties, however, connected with this hypothesis, the two following seem to be very obvious: first, that the two lower branches of the Shat-el-Arab seem to be too inconsiderable to encompass countries of any extent, or even to be dignified with the name of rivers; and, secondly, that though avowedly founded on the supposition that the great leading features of the earth's surface, and especially of the channels of the rivers, continued the same after the deluge as before that great devastation, the actual appearance of the site fixed upon does not correspond with the description of the sacred historian. 'The garden,' says Mr. Milne, 'seems to have been a peninsula; because the way or entrance into it is afterward mentioned. We are told that a river went out of it, which, according to some, should be rendered, ran on the outside of it, and thus gave it the form of a horseshoe; because had the Euphrates flowed through the midst of the garden, one-half of it would have been useless to Adam without a bridge by which he could have crossed it.
Rask's opinion differs somewhat from the preceding view as to the site of Eden, though coinciding with it in the general circumstance of fixing the locality of the garden in Lower Mesopotamia. From the mention of a principal river, and the fact of the Euphrates and Tigris actually uniting in one large stream, he deems it highly probable that the other two rivers might also combine with this great river, or, in other words, flowed into the Shat-el-Arab; and accordingly he identifies the Pison with the modern Karun, which flows by Shuster (the ancient Susa), and joins the Shat-el-Arab a little above its entrance into the Persian Gulf; while the Gihon, on the other hand, he considers to be the Karasu, which, rising in the regions south of the Lake of Urmia, runs by Kirmanshah, and unites itself with the Tigris near Korneh.-The hypothesis which has obtained by far the greatest number of suffrages is that which places Eden in Armenia. Proceeding upon the idea that, while Cain went eastward, Seth and his pious posterity continued in the vicinity of the original paradise, and the ark of Noah rested, after the subsidence of the deluge, at no great distance from his ancient abode, the holders of this view consider mount Ararat as a commanding feature that naturally points out the quarter where the site of Eden is to be sought for. They further support their opinion by dwelling on the circumstance of the Euphrates, the Tigris, the Araxes, and the Phasis (or Cyrus), having their sources among the mountains of Armenia at no great distance.
Whatever were the boundaries of this fertile district, it was "eastward," or toward the east of it, that the garden was situated. It is said of that garden that the Lord God had planted it" - that "He made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food" - that he "took the man, and put him into it." The whole tenor of this language conveys the impression of special care having been taken in the preparation of the happy spot, which was stocked with a rich and varied collection of vegetable productions, while refreshing streams rolled their pure waters through the midst of the sacred groves, completing, according to Oriental ideas, a picture of terrestrial beauty and enjoyment. The corresponding term paradeisos (G3857), paradise, by which it is rendered in the Septuagint, gives the more precise idea of a spacious enclosure-an extensive park, like those in which Eastern monarchs enclosed their palaces, and which abound with every species of trees, flowers, and garden culture, enlivened besides by numbers of choice animals, which are kept there for pleasure.
In short, Eden was so associated in the minds of the sacred writers with ideas of external beauty and fertility, that, in describing a place distinguished for the loveliness of its natural scenery, they were accustomed to compare it to the garden of the Lord (Genesis 13:10; Isaiah 51:3; Ezekiel 28:18; Ezekiel 31:8-9; Joel 2:3), and the corresponding Greek term came in course of time to be used in the common language of God's ancient people as a metaphorical term for the blissful abode of the redeemed in heaven (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 12:4; Revelation 11:7). From all this it may be concluded, that the spot which was honoured the first on earth to be the habitation of the ancestors of the human race, contained a rare and exquisite assemblage of everything that could afford pure and constant gratification to the senses-pleasure both to the eye and to the palate.
But man was not placed in this chosen spot to pass his days in dreamy indolence or luxurious enjoyment, because it is said "the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it." It has recently been thrown out as an objection to the truthfulness of this record, that the statement respecting the first man's being put in Eden to follow the humble occupation of a gardener is a flagrant contradiction to a previous one, which represents him (Genesis 1:28) as lord of the whole earth. But surely a local habitation is not inconsistent, as subsequent history has abundantly shown, with a right of universal rule; and, besides, the dominion promised to the human race over the earth and the inferior creatures was a progressive attainment-to be fully realized, not in the lifetime of the primitive man, but by his remote posterity. To be actively and usefully employed was indispensable, even in paradise, both to the character and the happiness of our first parent; and that employment to which he was appointed was of a kind so easy and agreeable as, ever since, notwithstanding the toil and exhaustion now attendant upon it, to form a favourite pastime. How much more desirable must it have been in a state to which toil and suffering were absolutely strangers, and in which the unlaborious work that formed the secular business of his life consisted wholly in removing obtrusive weeds, in pruning luxuriant branches, in dressing the odoriferous flower plots, in training the fruit trees that were gay with blossoms, which never disappointed or deceived in their promise.
Such was the daily occupation of the first man in the garden which the Creator assigned to him as the place of his habitation; and it must be evident to every reflecting reader that the proper and full performance of his work required a degree of knowledge far greater than the brief notice of the sacred historian seems to indicate. It implies not only an acquaintance with the nature and habits of the various flowers and plants that were placed under his fostering care-with the treatment of the soil, and the process of irrigation so essential to the existence and beauty of an Oriental garden; but it implies an acquaintance also with many arts-with the use of implements, and the application of the harder metals, especially iron, which are necessary in the construction of these tools. Had he been left to himself, or been guided solely by the force of his own invention, or the results of his own experience, many years-nay, the greater part of his life-would in all probability have passed before he could have attained skill or dexterity in the practice of the most common mechanical arts; and therefore, supposing that the term of his residence in the garden of Eden lasted only for a few weeks, a knowledge of the tools and the attention required for "dressing and keeping" the garden implies such a variety of articles, and such an amount of experience, that it is impossible to imagine Adam could have possessed it except through the medium of supernatural instruction. 'Who educated the first pair?' asks the German philosopher Fichte; and he answers the question by saying, 'The Divine Spirit took them under His care, as is stated in a venerable and original document, which contains the most profound as well as the most sublime wisdom.'
The opinion of this speculative sage embodies the conclusion of enlightened reason; and what reason declares to be in the highest degree probable, the inspired record attests to have actually taken place. What an interesting view is exhibited of the paternal character of the Creator in not only furnishing the newly formed man with the full complement of bodily and mental powers belonging to his exalted nature, but in teaching him also the use of those mechanical implements which were necessary for the special work he was appointed to perform! To this source, then-that of divine revelation-we trace the earliest knowledge which man acquired even of the most common and useful arts of life; and although, as recorded in a subsequent chapter, some of the descendants of Adam, at no distant period from the creation, distinguished themselves by their inventions, yet no fact can be clearer, or less liable to be called in question, than that the first man must have received by immediate revelation from God a knowledge both of the things to be done as well as of the means to do them, when he was put into the garden of Eden "to dress it and to keep it." Here, then, Adam found employment congenial to his nature, his power, and his wishes. There can be no doubt that the consciousness of his habitual compliance with the will of God, combined with an occupation of so easy and grateful a character, was one main source of his happiness; and it is highly probable that a rational and moral creature cannot in any circumstances enjoy happiness suited to his nature, except when actively engaged, as Adam was, in the service of God.
But God did not take the man and put him into the garden of Eden merely for the secular purpose of "dressing and keeping it." The words undoubtedly represent it as a place both for the healthful exercise of the body and for a course of secular work. But was this all? Was this noble creature, who was formed in the image of God, placed in that situation solely to follow the manual trade of a gardener? Unquestionably not; and the Scripture plainly points to more than this, by designating it "the garden of God," "the garden of the Lord" - a title which not only, according to a common Hebrew idiom, describes a superlatively delightful garden, but further seems to denote a special appropriation to sacred purposes, as is evidently the case in similar phrases (Genesis 28:17; Deuteronomy 33:1; Joshua 14:6; Psalms 43:4) with which the sacred volume abounds. All of them imply that the persons and things described by that epithet were consecrated to the more immediate service of God; and judging by this analogy, it appears a warrantable conclusion that "the garden of the Lord," the trees of which were all planted by His own divine hand, would not form a solitary exception to the rule, that whenever persons and things throughout the Bible are mentioned as the special property of God, they were consecrated to His service. Viewed in this light, then, the garden of Eden was a rootless temple, in which the newly created man worshipped his Maker, and daily offered the bloodless sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise.
And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Every tree ... the tree of life. The trees named were undoubtedly both of them of a sacred character; and whether they belonged to any of the common species of vegetable productions, or were of an extraordinary character, that grew only in that garden and are now altogether unknown, it is certain that the object and tendency of both of them was in different ways to preserve and invigorate the growth and influence of religion in the soul of man. It is probable that the names by which these two trees are here designated are not those by which they were called at first, but were the historical names given to them afterward [Hebrew, wª`eets (H6086) hachayiym (H2416), tree of the lives].
According to some, this phrase describes some tree of the evergreen species, which was so called from its perennial verdure and unremitting productiveness. But the most approved opinion seems to be, that the name was applied to it from its instrumentality as a preserver of health and life. Kennicott endeavours to prove that the passage should be rendered a tree of life within the garden. But such an interpretation is inadmissible, not only because it makes no distinction between this tree and the other trees in the garden-which, as being "good for food," were all in a certain sense "trees of life" - but because it appears clear from other passages of Scripture that it stood alone, not only within the precincts, but "in the midst of the garden" - was the central object of that sacred enclosure.
Therefore, it was an isolated tree, invested with miraculous virtue. It might have, in the first instance, possessed the wondrous property of petuating life; and when our first parent had, from the vicissitudes of weather or from sudden accident, incurred bodily suffering or pain, he had only to taste of the fruit of this medicinal tree to be instantly restored again, and preserved in the enjoyment of perennial health. This idea receives some support from the language which God is represented as using when about to expel the delinquent pair from Eden (Genesis 3:22, last clause). But, admitting that there may be some truth in this view of "the tree of life," it is obvious that, material production, however wondrous its qualities, could preserve the spiritual life of the soul, this tree must have been designed for a further, a sacramental or symbolical purpose-a sign and seal of the "life" emphatically so called-the heavenly immortality to which man was destined when the term of probation should be happily completed. In a natural sense, that of supporting the life of the body, all the trees in the garden of Eden which were "good for food" were trees of life; but the life of the soul requires support and nourishment also, and can only be maintained by communion with Him who is the fountain of life and immortality. "The tree of life," therefore, since it could not, being a material substance, possess the property of imparting a spiritual influence to the soul, was only the seal or pledge of immortality-the divinely-constituted emblem of Him who is the "life of the world" - the outward and visible sign of that inward and spiritual grace which was to be conveyed into the soul of the worthy partaker of its fruits through the almighty power of Him whom it represented.
In short, it was a sacramental tree, by eating of which man, in his state of innocence, kept himself in covenant with God. Just as the elements in the ordinance of the Supper, when received in faith, tend to invigorate all the graces of the Christian life-to bring us into a closer relationship with God, and thereby enliven our hope of a blessed immortality-so the eating of that "tree of life," so long as our first parent partook of its fruit in the character of humble, believing dependence upon God, was calculated to keep alive the influence of religion in his soul, and to assure him of immortality. It served to hold out this hope in a sensible manner before him; and from its prominent station in the midst of the garden, where it must have been an object of daily interest and constant observation, it was admirably designed, in the state of Adam's mature but undisciplined faculties, to preserve him habitually in mind of God and of futurity.
The tree of 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 command. If the tree of life in the midst of the garden was designed to be a sacramental sign or emblem of immortality, "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil," which Adam was forbidden to eat, possessed also a sacramental character. It might be, as some imagine, that this tree was of a poisonous nature, stimulating the blood, intoxicating the brain, like many of the vegetable productions that are indigenous to hot climates; and if so, it was an act of the greatest kindness to lay the keeper of this garden under strict positive injunctions to abstain from the fruit of a tree which was sure to occasion bodily disorder, suffering, and death. But the revealed end of this tree, which was distinguished by so special a name, was to serve as a test of man's obedience, and therefore it was of no consequence what was its natural character, or the specific properties it was possessed of. It might be a vegetable production whose fruit contained so strong and malignant a poison as was sufficient, even when ate in the smallest quantity, to corrupt all the springs of life; or it might have been altogether harmless-one which, if met with elsewhere or in other circumstances, might have been partaken of with perfect freedom, and with certain, complete impunity; but situated in that garden it was a tree whose fruit was forbidden under a severe penalty. Its natural character might have been a matter of indifference; and the more indifferent it was, the better fitted to answer the purpose for which it was appointed.
And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.
A river went out of Eden to water the garden. The Hebrew word [ yotsee' (H3318)] rendered "went out" often signifies, when applied to streams, 'rising' or 'springing' from the earth (cf. Deuteronomy 8:7; Isaiah 41:18). The source of the river was not within the garden, but issued from some spot within the extensive district called Eden; and many eminent biblical scholars, such as Michaelis, Jahn, Dr. Pye Smith, and others are of opinion that the word "river" is used collectively for the plural, implying that the mountain streams issuing from the adjacent mountains collected in the valleys, and flowing in different directions, meandered through the garden, imparting to it that refreshing coolness and moisture which is essential to vegetation, and forms the greatest charm to a landscape in the East.
Became into four heads. Rosenmuller and Gesenius render the Hebrew term 'river-heads;' but the general opinion is that four branches or principal rivers are meant. It is impossible, however, to imagine how any of the great rivers that are mentioned in the tabular view can ever have been united in one stream; and this consideration seems to confirm the truth of the opinion that 'the river that went out of Eden' was a collection of springs.
The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
The Pison (overflowing). The name seems to denote a large, mighty river.
Compasseth the whole land of Havilah, [Septuagint, Euila]. It might naturally be expected that this designation, as used in the course of the same history, would be applied to one particular district, more especially as the prefix of the Hebrew article seems to mark it as a well-known or distinguished locality. But it is doubtful whether the name be thus exclusively employed (cf. Genesis 25:18; 1 Samuel 15:7, in which passages Havilah is the name of the region southeast of Palestine). Those who place Eden in Armenia, and regard the Pison as the Phasis, are led to consider that the country can be no other than Colchis-a region the name of which has the same radical or essential letters, and in which they endeavour to show were met all the substances described as characterizing the primeval Havilah. For not only did the Phasis flow over sands sparkling with gold grains, but the whole Colchian region abounded with the precious metal, which many mountain torrents carried down to the plains, and was afterward famous in classic story as the scene of the Argonautic expedition for the Golden Fleece. Bochart places it in the southeastern part of Arabia, not far from the Persian Gulf (cf. Genesis 10:7; Genesis 10:29, where a large district of that name is mentioned as divided between two different tribes of Shemites and of Hamites), deriving Havilah from a Hebrew root which signifies sand, its sandy character being probably the origin of its designation; he identifies it with the modern Chaulan or Khanlan, and mention is made by Strabo of a people called chaulotaioi, in that vicinity, whose name bears some resemblance to Havilah or Chavilah. Their country also abounds in the natural productions for which Havilah is described to have been famous. He adduces a number of testimonies to prove that this country possesses all the conditions required.
And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.
Bdellium, [Hebrew, habªdolach (H916)]. What substance is meant by this word has been a subject of much discussion. The Sepuagint renders it here and Numbers 11:7 by anthrax (G440) the ruby or the topaz. Bochart, after the Jewish commentators, takes it as signifying pearls; while others maintain that it is the whitish gum or resin distilled from a fragrant tree which grows in Arabia and Babylonia. But such a product would scarcely be of sufficient importance to entitle it to particular notice, and therefore there is greater probability that bdellium means a precious stone, the more especially as it is associated in this enumeration with gold and the onyx stone [ hashoham (H7718), supposed by some to be the onyx, so called from its resemblance to the human nail, and it is rendered onyx (Job 28:16); by others, the sardonyx; and by a third class, the beryl].
And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.
Gihon (bursting forth). The name denotes a rapid river issuing impetuously from its fountains.
Compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia, [Hebrew, the land of Cush]. There is more than one country indicated by this name in Scripture, which, signifying 'black,' and applied to people of sable or dusky complexion, is commonly considered as including Egypt and African Ethiopia. Hence, many who are of opinion that Eden embraced a very extensive territory, as the language of the sacred narrative evidently implies, place Gihon in the Nile, which takes the course indicated in this passage. But since the sons of Cush seem to have, by various successive migrations (cf. Genesis 10:1-32) wandered into regions widely removed from each other, the Hebrews used the term 'land of Cush' in a very loose and general sense, as descriptive of all the countries lying along the southern coast of Asia, from the Persian Gulf westward to the eastern coast of Africa; and it is now established that, according to Scripture usage, there is an Arabian as well as an African Ethiopia.
Hiddekel - the Tigris. The first syllable of this word being not an essential part of it, is supposed by Tuch to be the Hebrew adjective sharp, so that the name signifies the 'swift dekel,' or, as it is in the Aramoean forms, Digla and Deklath, Diglad in Josephus Diglito in Pliny, and now Dijel by the natives of Mesopotamia. The same meaning substantially is given by Sir H. Rawlinson ('Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society'), who derives it, however, from a different etymology, and apparently in a more satisfactory manner. According to him, Dekel, supposed to denote in the old Babylonian language 'an arrow,' becomes through the common interchange of the liquid semi-consonants "l" or "r", the tiggar (arrow) of the cuneiform inscriptions, and thence the Tigris of the Greeks; so that Hiddekel, with the prefix, through all these mutations of form, signifies 'the arrow' - i:e., the darting, impetuous river. It makes a great bend in its course toward the east at Diarbekr, and hence, is aptly described in the text as "it which goeth eastward toward Assyria," (margin).
Euphrates. This river being well known to the Hebrews is simply mentioned, without the addition of any topographical circumstances to indicate its course. The Hebrew name [ Pªraat (H6578)] was long supposed to have been the original one, changed by the Greeks into the more euphonious form of Euphrates, and to have been derived from the Hebrew word for fruit, abundance, so that the name meant the 'fruitful,' the 'fertilizing' river.
Recent investigations, however, have shown the incorrectness of this opinion; because the name as we have it is, with a slight change of termination, identically the same as that applied to it by the ancient Babylonians. Rawlinson has discovered it in the Behistun cuneiform inscriptions as Ufrata, which is a compound of "u", (Greek, eu (G2095)) or "su", "very", and the adjective frata, "broad". The true import of the word Euphrates, therefore, is 'very broad;' and this name, as given in the sacred text, seems also to be accordant with the recently deciphered relics of Assyria; [for it stands thus: "the fourth river is huw' (H1931) Pªraat (H6578)." The first word, that or the, is omitted by our translators, who appear not to have considered it of any importance. But supposing, as has been ingeniously conjectured (Journal of Sacred Literature, July, 1864), that hu was an early form of the article, we find in hufrath that the ancient name has been exactly preserved in the narrative of Moses].
And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.
No JFB commentary on these verses.
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat. The inspired historian (Genesis 2:15) resumes the thread of his narrative, which was broken by the insertion (Genesis 2:8-14) of the topographical description of Eden. Kurtz and others indeed think that this tree possessed the inherent property of imparting a knowledge of the physical evil that was in the place of his abode, and that thereby it stood in direct opposition to the tree of life; so that, by pointing to the two trees in the midst of the garden, the Creator virtually addressed the first pair in the same terms that were afterward used to the Israelites, "See, I have set before thee life and death" (Deuteronomy 30:15). But Kurtz expresses at the same time his concurrence in the common view, that this "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" was designed to be a test of man's obedience. The purpose was to test man's fidelity to God; and it is obvious that, in the state of probation in which Adam was placed at so early a stage of his existence, a positive command like this, not to eat of a particular tree, was the simplest and easiest trial to which his fidelity could have been exposed. He lived in the midst of inexhaustible abundance; because the liberal terms on which it was offered to him were, "of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat." The eye and the palate were alike gratified.
Every source of enjoyment was freely open to him, and his heart seemed to have nothing further to desire. One fruit of all the trees amid the infinite stores of that prolific garden was forbidden; and how easy, one should think, would it have been for Adam, in such circumstances, to have kept the injunction inviolate. Had he been placed in a hard and difficult condition, encircled by few enjoyments, or exposed to severe privations, he would still have been bound by the most sacred obligations to obey. But his actual situation was the happy reverse of this. His Creator had provided for him with divine liberality. He had bestowed upon him all that was either useful or necessary for his happiness; and the only limit set to his range of enjoyment was one thing, and that a trifling gratification at the best. But a positive command like this was not only the simplest and easiest, it was the only test to which Adam's fidelity could have been submitted. In his special circumstances, he could not be put on probation as to any of the branches of the moral law; for, since he was not yet living in society, the prohibition could not with any sense of propriety have been directed against killing, stealing, or any other violations of social duty; and being in an unfallen state, as little could the prohibition have been directed against the duties of the first table; against worshipping God by images, or taking His name in vain.
A positive command like this, not to eat of a particular tree, was a test of obedience which was in every respect the most suited to the existing condition of man, and the most highly expressive of the goodness of God. It concentrated in one single act the spirit and principle of all obedience, and it was this-not any natural property of the tree to impart heavenly wisdom, but the moral condition annexed to it, that constituted it a tree which gave the knowledge of good and evil. The equity, as well as kindness of the Creator, in making the test of man's obedience consist in compliance with a positive command like this, is manifest.
There are some, indeed, who profess, with an air of affected wisdom, to question the reasonableness of suspending the destiny of man on so trivial a circumstance; and there are others who have spoken with a sneer of profane ridicule and infidel contempt of the idea that God would punish, and with such awful severity, the venial offence, as they term it, of stealing an apple. The objection is as foolish as it is groundless: it is not only urged with an irreligious levity of tone and language that merits condemnation, but it proceeds on a total perversion of the circumstances of the case. It was not the stealing of some fruit-the injury done to a tree on which a high and particular value was set-that drew down the wrath of God upon the offenders; because how could the fruit of any single tree be of such special importance in the eyes of Him of whom it is said, "all the trees of the forest are his," and who could by a single word have filled each mountain and valley with myriads of the same species?
It was not the intrinsic value of that tree, but the principle involved in abstaining from its fruit, which God had strictly forbidden the first pair to eat. Some outward attractions that tree must doubtless have possessed. But it does not matter or alter the case whether it was a rare or a common species. The more worthless the kind of tree, the easier would it be to obey the injunction; and when all the circumstances of Adam's condition are taken into account-the inexhaustible plenty by which he was surrounded, the vast variety to satisfy his wishes, and the very small temptation which in these circumstances he had to violate his Creator's command-it is impossible to conceive that any easier test of his obedience could have been selected to determine whether the principle of true and devoted love to God was established in his heart.
For in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die - Hebrew, 'dying thou shalt die,' which the Septuagint translates 'thou shalt die the death.' Now, since no lawgiver would annex a penalty to the breach of a command unless the party to whom it is addressed were acquainted with what they were to forfeit, the announcement to the first pair of the condition consequent on eating the fruit of the forbidden tree implies that they knew well what death was. Geological researches have fully established the fact that death took place in the pre-Adamite world.
But independently of this, and on the supposition that the first pair were total strangers to what had occurred before their time in other parts of the earth, the garden of Eden itself furnished them with ample means and opportunities of understanding the nature and effects of death. The decay and fall of plants and leaves, either through the processes of Nature or the animals that fed on these, would produce distraction in the vegetable kingdom; and since myriads of animalculae live on plants and leaves, so the dissolution of the latter would necessarily cause their living inhabitants to perish also. By these and other ways equally obvious the first pair must have familiarly understood the nature of the penalty denounced against the eating of the prohibited tree. If such an event had been entirely unknown in the world when the declaration of the Creator was made, they could have formed no conception of what it was to die; and hence, the interdict would have fallen upon their ears as an unmeaningful sound.
But if, on the other hand, death was an occurrence with which their observation, short and limited as it was, had made them familiar among the inferior creation, the threatened penalty of such a catastrophe would present the most powerful inducement to observe the command of God. But the words before us seem to imply that in the event of a careful and continued abstinence from the interdicted tree man would not be subjected to death; and hence, it has been the favourite opinion of divines, that steadfast obedience to the divine precept would have ensured him an earthly immortality, or that after a lengthened sojourn in this world-Sherlock supposes a period of one thousand years-he would have been transferred to a higher scene of existence. But the sacred narrative gives no hint of such a happy eventuality: it is entirely silent as to the alternative view of life, while it is known to be a settled principle in physiology, that every organized body is subject to the natural law of dissolution; and consequently man must, like other objects in the physical world, have been liable to mortality from the moment of his creation.
With these circumstances in view, the only conclusion that is apparently admissible is, that man, had he continued in a state of innocence, would, by the special grace of the Creator, have enjoyed a happy immunity from decay; and that the import of the declared penalty was this-`So long as thou continuest obedient and faithful, I shall give thee an exemption from death; but in the event of transgression, this privilege shall be withdrawn, and thou shalt be liable to die like the lower animals.' The first man was thus placed in a state of probation: and as, though he was already complete in all his intellectual and physical attributes, his moral character as a free agent was not yet developed, the course of probationary discipline commenced immediately or soon after his removal to the garden of Eden: for since he was not destined to continue always in that paradise, but to have dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:26-28), it was indispensably necessary for him that at the outset of life he should make the moral decision whether he would obey or disobey the will of God.
For as Kurtz justly remarks, 'Man could not, like a plant, have absolute perfection put upon him from without; by free determination and activity he was to rise to that stage for which God had destined and endowed him. Accordingly, man was immediately put into circumstances in which he was freely to decide either for or against the will of God, and thus to choose his own direction.' He was left to the uncontrolled, entire freedom of his own will, which was the source at once of his dignity and his peril. It would have altered the whole character of his choice had he been under any natural necessity to pursue a certain course; and although God foresaw the fatal result, His foreknowledge does not infringe on the liberty of human actions. This arrangement of Providence is commonly called 'the covenant of works.' The term 'covenant' does not, indeed, occur in the narrative, but it is used elsewhere in reference to this primitive state of man, because the prophet Hosea says (Hosea 6:7), "They like men (Hebrew, Adam) have transgressed the covenant;" and the apostle also alludes to its principle or conditions, 'Do and live, sin and die' (Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:12; cf. Isaiah 1:19-20). This theological phraseology is in harmony with the language of Scripture, which employs the word 'covenant' to denote sometimes an agreement between two parties who, being equal, can each stand on the terms of their compact, in which case it is expressed by the Greek term suntheekee (G4936); and at other times, when the party being greatly the superior proposes or prescribes conditions to which the other is required to submit, then it is represented by the Greek word diatheekee (G1242), an appointment, institution, or dispensation.
The Edenic dispensation had the true character of a covenant, because in every dispensation or promise God has made to the Church there was an outward sign annexed (cf. Genesis 17:7-10; Exodus 12:11; 1 Corinthians 11:20-28); and as in the subsequent dispensations theirs respective signs were pledges of the promises to which they were severally annexed - i:e., as far as material can signify or picture spiritual things-so the tree of life, which nourished Adam's physical life, typified that spiritual life which he, while obedient, possessed in the "Lord God." It has been a question much discussed, What character did Adam sustain in this primitive dispensation?-was it that of an individual, or did he appear the representative, the federal head of his posterity? Many consider that Adam acted only in a personal capacity; while others, looking upon him as in altogether special circumstances, and as connected with all mankind representatively and by covenant, since no other father has been or can be with his children, regard him as the federal or corporate head of the race-acting not for himself alone, but for all his posterity; and, accordingly, in the language of this school of divines, he is described as 'a public person.' This difference of view is necessary to be stated, since it leads to corresponding discrepancies of opinion as to the effects of the Fall.
And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
It is not good that the man should be alone, [Hebrew, lªbadow (H905), in his separation or singleness -
i.e., alone]. On a survey of each successive department of nature that rose into being, the divine testimony of satisfaction had been expressed by pronouncing it good. All the objects of the new creation, whether animate or inanimate, had their full complement of parts, were perfect in their nature, and corresponded in every respect to their character and condition. Adam alone was an exception; because his state at the period of his formation was not at once fully adapted to all the capacities of his being, and although as an individual he was complete in his organization, his body containing all the members, and his mind being endowed with all the faculties requisite for the functions of life and activity, he still wanted something to consummate his happiness, and fit him for the sphere in which he was destined to live.
With a soul full of affections, and capable of finding its sweetest enjoyment in the interchange of sentiments and the endearments of friendship, he had as yet no suitable object with which those natural feelings could ally themselves. Though formed with strong desires to love and to be loved, he possessed no means of exercising his emotions, no ear to which he could impart his thoughts, no bosom ready to reciprocate his feelings. However in subsequent times a cold philosophy may in some have frozen the genial current of the soul, or the force of habit in others have repressed the exercise of the social affections, and led them to pass their lives as hermits in the desert, it was otherwise with the first man, who, when he came newly formed from the hands of his Maker, was full of sympathies, which he tried, but tried in vain, to bestow on any of the objects around him. There is strong reason to believe that, constituted as he was, even the garden of Eden would have been no paradise to him; with all its store of delights, it would have been incapable of filling the aching void of his heart, who, though formed for society, was still living in solitude.
I will make him an help meet for him, [Hebrew, kªnegªdow (H5048)] - literally, 'as over against,' 'according to his front presence' - i:e., corresponding to, his counterpart-one like himself in form and constitution, disposition, and affections, and altogether suitable to his nature and wants. Even in this transaction man was dealt with as a free agent; because it was not until his observation of the homogeneous pairs of the inferior animals had excited within his bosom a longing desire for a mate also, and led to the development of a strong natural instinct of his nature, that, on the probably silent but manifested expression of his wish, the want was supplied. The Septuagint and Vulgate read "let us make," as in Genesis 1:26. But the correctness of the present Hebrew text in this passage is unquestionable; and the propriety of using the verb in the singular rather than the plural number is obvious, not only on the general ground maintained by Calvin and others-that in the creation of man, the chief and most important creature in the world, it was therefore said, "let us make," whereas it was unnecessary to repeat this formula here, the woman being only an addition to the man-but for the special reason that not the Deity, but "the Lord God" is throughout this chapter named as the Creator.
And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field ... and every fowl of the air, [Hebrew, chayat (H2416) hasaadeh (H7704), "beast of the field" - i:e., domestic-as distinguished from chayat (H2416) haa'aarets (H776), "beast of the earth (Genesis 1:25) - i:e., wild animals; `owp (H5775) hashaamayim (H8064), fowl of the heavens-referring to the class of animals with which the first man was brought into most frequent and familiar observation.] Many have thought the course of the narrative interrupted here by the introduction of strangely irrelevant matter; but it is characteristic of the Semitic style of historical writing to make frequent recapitulations; and hence, Moses, instead of running off at a tangent, as has been said, to a new and totally different subject, the moment after he had announced that God was about to provide man with a companion, is proceeding in the most direct manner to describe the circumstances, when he reminds his readers that "out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air." These were the instruments by which Adam was to be led, as it were, step by step to a knowledge of his wants-from a sight of the creatures already formed to an idea of the creature that was necessary to be formed; and nothing was more natural, indeed more necessary for the right understanding of the story, than to preface it by the statement that the creatures brought to Adam were actually living in the world and "formed out of the ground." But it is only the reiteration of a fact formerly recorded respecting the creation of the beasts and birds-which is directly opposed to the development theory.
'They were called into being,' as Professor Sedgwick remarks, 'not by any known law of nature, but by a power above nature, and they were "formed" by that creative power.' But it has been urged against this narrative that it contradicts the cosmogony of the preceding chapter, by representing the formation of the animals as subsequent to that of man. The answer to this objection is, that a methodical and consecutive history of creation was not contemplated in this chapter, which is wholly occupied with a few explanatory details of what had been previously accomplished; [and accordingly the old versions generally rendered wayitser (H3335), 'and had formed,' taking it as a pluperfect, which it is not. But that the future with vau conversivum does not always indicate a continuation of action, and often describes an event that has previously taken place, is, as Arnold has shown, already clear from Genesis 2:8-9, with Genesis 2:15 (cf. Genesis 12:1 with 11:32; 24:30 with 29; also 21,27,24 with 23).]
Moreover, it is alleged that the account here given of the origin of birds is at variance with that contained in the first chapter, which affirms that they were made out of the water. The objection, which is one that no scholarly critic would make, is groundless; because the marginal reading, as has been already shown (see the note at Genesis 1:19), is the correct translation [ `owp (H5775) yª`owpeep (H5774)] - 'let fowl fly,' or 'shall fly'-the verb being in that form of the imperative which Ewald has called the jussive; and there is absolutely no foundation for the inference that has been drawn from the English version. Besides, the creation neither of wild beasts nor fish is mentioned here.
Brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them. They were led by a secret impulse or instinct to flock around him, and it cannot be supposed that more were present than the principal animals that formed the fauna of the region in which he lived.
And whatsoever Adam called every living creature. The language in the original is pleonastic, and should be rendered, 'and whatsoever the man called them, the living creatures, that was their name.' If the names of things had always been the arbitrary signs that they are with us, it would have been altogether a useless and unmeaning ceremony to employ Adam in bestowing one on any or all the classes of the animal creation. But in the first and early ages of the world the name given to any creature was invariably significant of some characteristic quality in its nature, or of the uses to which it was destined; and hence, the work of naming the animals that were brought to him would consist in nothing more than designating by an appropriate word the leading features or properties by which each of them was distinguished. The thoughts which arose in his mind on seeing and hearing those animals he expressed by the utterance of a descriptive appellation.
Assuming the Hebrew to have been the primitive text, or an early and faithful reflector of the original, language, the nomenclature adopted by Adam was simple but expressive: - cuwc (H5483), a horse, so called from his leaping; showr (H7794) an ox or bullock, so called from his strength and boldness; keleb (H3611), a dog, from his barking; tsipowr (H6833), a bird, from its chirping, twittering, etc. Thus did the all-wise Creator, when about to provide a help-meet (suitable helper or corresponding mate) for the first man, cause him to go through a course of simple but important training, by which he was not only made sensible of the privation under which, as a social being, he laboured, but also qualified to appreciate the magnitude of the boon about to be conferred on him by the creation of woman, as well as prepared to communicate his thoughts and feelings to her through the medium of articulate language. Such was the object of this singular scene; and although such a design is not distinctly expressed, it is plainly implied (Genesis 2:20); for, while the males both of the brute and of the winged creation appeared with their respective mates, man alone appeared unprovided with a companion; and where, if he had been to seek one, could he have hoped to obtain the supply of that want? Not from the ranks of living creatures-for all of them, as he had seen, were immensely inferior to himself, capable of being his servants, not fit to be his companions. Therefore, one qualified to be on a level with him, and to afford him a society to engage his heart and affections, was not yet in existence. But the beneficent Creator who had taught him to know his want designed to supply it. To supply this want in the state of Adam became, so to speak, an object of the Creators attention soon after the formation of the man himself; and, while there was much condescension and kindness in the time, the paternal consideration of God toward man was even more conspicuously displayed in the manner of granting this accession to his comfort. For it is worthy of remark that the boon was not conferred at once and unexpectedly upon one who was totally unconscious of his solitary condition. The experience of Adam, however short, had made him painfully sensible of needs which he could not supply; and yet, conscious though he was of the absence of something indispensable to the full happiness of his life, he was able to discover what that something was. To lead him to make the discovery for himself, as the best way of bringing him acquainted with his own nature, and magnifying his sense of the value of the gift bestowed on him, was the object of the divine procedure in the singular scene which was forthwith enacted.
And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
No JFB commentary on this verse.
And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, [Hebrew, tardeemaah (H8639), a state of sleep more profound than usual, amounting, as is probable, to an almost entire suspension of the functions proper to the nervous system]. How long Adam was left to brood over disappointed hopes we are not informed. But it must have been a short time only, since himself was created, and the whole work of creation finished, before the close of the sixth day. It was probably while his mind was still lingering on the memory of the foregoing scene that he fell into a profound slumber; and since dreams for the most part pursue the course of the thoughts in our waking hours, is it surprising if the first man, whose mental constitution was the same as ours, should have had still flitting before his roving fancy the ideal image of a transaction which must have powerfully excited his interest, and stirred the depths of his reflection? But the sleep by which he was overtaken was not a natural one, nor the visions of his fancy the usual vagaries of a dream.
The word used to describe it is a strongly expressive one (cf. Genesis 15:12; 1 Samuel 26:12), denoting a sleep in which visions occur. 'The Septuagint has translated it, as occurring on such occasions, by ekstasis (G1611), or trance, in which the mind is, as it were, removed from the body, or at least placed beyond the consciousness of any immediate influence of the corporeal world. In such a state it is so completely absorbed with the images impressed upon the imagination, that it not only regards them as realities, but conducts itself toward them as actual matters of fact' (Henderson 'On Inspiration'). (Compare Acts 10:10; Acts 22:17.) This is the meaning of the term employed to describe the condition into which Adam was thrown preparatory to the creation of Eve, during which his senses were so completely locked up that he had no susceptibility of pain from the operation; and such being the import of the word, there can be no difficulty in admitting the account which Josephus and other Jewish writers give, on the authority of ancient traditions, that the whole scene of the formation of Eve was visible to the mental eye of Adam; and hence, the origin of his rapturous exclamation, when the dissolution of the supernatural trance had unsealed his lips - "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh."
And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman. The Hebrew word rendered "made" is 'built' - i:e., implying extraordinary skill, care, and taste in the plan and proportions of the structure; and the preposition signifies to change one thing into another: so that the literal translation of the passage is, 'the rib which the Lord God took from the man he formed into a woman.' An absurd opinion has been supported by many, that Adam was created an androgynous or compound creature comprehending in his own person both sexes. He was created physically as well as intellectually a perfect man; but woman, his counterpart, was a subsequent formation.
And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. [ hapa`am (H6471)], this time, is emphatic (cf. Genesis 30:30; Genesis 46:30). It signifies 'now indeed,' 'now at last,' as if his memory had been rapidly recalling the successive disappointments he had met with in not finding, amidst all the living creatures presented to him, any one capable of being a suitable companion to him. Dr. Pye Smith renders it: 'This is the hit.' 'And though such a translation,' says he, 'may appear strange, and even common, it appears necessary for the preservation of rigorous fidelity. The word properly means a smart, bold, successful stroke, and is used to signify hitting the precise time of any action or requirement. In this first and primitive instance it is equivalent to saying, This is the very thing that hits the mark; This reaches what was desired.'
She shall be called Woman, for she was taken out of man, [Hebrew, 'ishaah (H802), the feminine of She shall be called Woman, for she was taken out of man, [Hebrew, 'ishaah (H802), the feminine of 'iysh (H376); equivalent to aneer (G435), man, and andris, woman, in Greek; vir and virago in Latin; man and maness, or she-man, in English.] It is observable that in this exclamation the man does not call himself by the name "Adam," which God had applied to him as expressive of his origin from the ground, or as denoting, according to Umbreit, that he was the microcosm of the world, the lord and master of the earth, who comprehended it in his own form; but by the word 'iysh (H376), a creature of worth and importance - i:e., in comparison with the other animals. 'Some have urged that these and other names need not be considered original, since they may have been translated into the Hebrew. But that the author at least regarded them as original Hebrew words, and did not permit to himself any meddling with them, appears from the following considerations:
(1) The etymologies adduced are opposed to such an opinion, inasmuch as the given interpretations of the proper names are intelligible only on the supposition that these words themselves are Hebrew. These names, with their meaning, form an essential element in the history, and hence, the credibility of the latter stands intimately connected with that of the name and its signification.
(2) Where names had been altered or translated, we find the practice of noting this carefully observed in Genesis (cf. Genesis 14:7-8; Genesis 23:19; Genesis 28:19); and from this we may infer that the other proper names are conscientiously retained in the Hebrew idiom; otherwise analogy would have led to the name which had been transmuted into Hebrew being given in its original form (Havernick).
It is useless to inquire whether the first man had any special configuration of frame, in consequence of which he could spare the abstraction of a rib from one of his sides; or whether God, before closing the wound, substituted another bone for the one that had been removed. Such enquiries proceed more from idle speculative curiosity than a desire or expectation of useful information; and the instance under review belongs to a class of incidents which is likely to be, and, in point of fact, has frequently been made occasion of foolish wit and profane cavil by infidels. So strange and grotesque an account, it is alleged, wears upon the face of it the air of a fable; and it is too weak an invention to impose on the credulity of men. But once admit the Bible to be the Word of God, and with the references which are repeatedly made in the body of it to this primeval transaction, not only all difficulties in admitting its credibility are dispelled, but it is perceived to have been designed, in the mode of doing it, to teach several great and important lessons.
Even with regard to the fact itself, where is there anything to justify the sneer of unbelieving ridicule? What is there in the narrative to create doubt, or to reflect on the wisdom of the Almighty Maker. In any circumstances, the creation of woman-so entirely different from the creatures of any existing class-must have required the exercise of supernatural power; and admitting a miracle to have been undoubtedly performed, any singularity in the manner of performance is a matter of secondary consideration. The One who formed Adam from the dust of the ground could have as easily created him directly, and by the mere exertion of that plastic power which brought the material universe at first out of nothing. But He chose to conduct the formation of man in a particular way, suitable to the purposes of human instruction-a way well fitted to impress him generally with a lesson of humility, in knowing that he can boast of no higher origin than the irrational creatures around him.
In like manner, the creation of woman was no less the direct and immediate handiwork of God; and if He chose one out of the infinity of possible ways in which Almighty power and wisdom could have reared that beautiful fabric, what are we to do, but with devout admiration exclaim, "Even so, Father; for thus it seemed good in thy sight." But the Creator chose one particular mode which his unerring wisdom knew to be the best; and by that mode also which he adopted in the creation of woman it was His design to teach truths of great interest and value. In no other creatures was there any natural connection between the pairs. They were all, indeed, "of the earth, earthy;" all formed of the same material elements; but, previous to their actual appearance, no two individuals of any class were united by any bond of relationship, however slight, to each other. But, in regard to the human race, Eve's being formed from a rib of Adam indicated their being of one flesh; and their being made of one flesh was intended to point out the special character of the nuptial bond, as not only very close and intimate, but one of mutual tenderness, affectionate endearment, and identity of interests.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife. These words are considered by some as uttered proleptically or prophetically by Adam; but they could not be spoken by him, since he was as yet ignorant of the parental character and relations; and could have no idea of children leaving their parents. They were most probably added by the historian himself, who, writing under inspiration of God, gave them in the way of commentary on this divine procedure; and accordingly, they are appealed to by our Lord as containing an authoritative declaration of the Divine Will concerning the institution of marriage (Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:8; 1 Corinthians 6:16), as well as by the apostle, as a type of the intimate union of believers with Christ (Ephesians 5:31). They are words which, if language has any meaning, give a clear and full intimation, not only of the nearness, but of the sanctity of the marriage relation-representing it as the source and foundation of all other relations-as not only superior to and closer than any other, but comprehending all the rest, uniting the parties so intimately in heart and affection, and at the same time by a bond so indissoluble, that the man and his wife become as it were one. What language could put a higher honour on the marriage relation than by thus representing it in the character of a divine institution? and what view of this institution can lay a better foundation for mutual affection and tender endearment than that which describes the parties who contract it as becoming by virtue of that union "one flesh?"
'This is the great original law of marriage, binding on the whole human family. It was not a part of any ceremonial law, or of the national code of Israel; but was promulgated, at the original institution of marriage, to the first parents of mankind, as the representatives of the whole human race. By the terms of it, Adam and Eve were personally exempted from its operation, since they were already married, and Adam had no father nor mother whom he could leave. It was made, therefore, because their posterity; and since, in its binding force on them, there are no restrictions or limitations, it was clearly given to bind the whole human family. This law, in the very terms of it, as well as according to the comment of Christ, is an absolute prohibition of polygamy. It is so in the terms of it. It declares that lawful marriage, as appointed by God, is the connection between one man and one woman, and that, when they are married they cease to be "twain," and are "one flesh." It also declares that the man who is thus united to a woman in marriage shall "cleave unto her as his wife." Before, he clave with filial affection unto his parents as a son, and acknowledged them only; and now he is directed as a husband to cleave into his wife.
This language is capable but of one interpretation. If he is connected with any other woman, he ceases to cleave to his wife, and makes himself one flesh with a stranger (1 Corinthians 6:16). In short, in the original constitution of marriage, God made one woman only, and united her to Adam, and thus appointed married to be the union of one man with one woman. He was able to have made more; why, then, did he create but one? Because he foresaw, if more than one woman were created and given to Adam, "a godly seed" would have been impossible (Malachi 2:10-16). The law of marriage, then, as originally established by God, was strictly positive in its nature, as resulting from a positive command. Still, in its design, in its binding force, and in the duties which it involves, as well as in the violations to which it is liable, it is in the highest sense moral-the form most conducive to the promotion of godliness and piety.' The words "they shall be (or become) one flesh," suggest another observation as to the inviolable sacredness of the nuptial bond. The primitive law made no provision for its dissolution; it was in all time coming to be commensurate with the lives of the married pair; and should circumstance vary their worldly condition ever so often and so much, or Providence separate them to opposite regions of the globe, they would still remain in the same relation as man and wife, until the relation was severed by the death of one of the parties (Romans 7:2-3). This law, if man had remained in his state of unfallen innocence, was indisputably the only right one for the human race; but in consequence of the disorder in his will and passions produced by sin, tyranny and lust became so unhappily prevalent, as to necessitate a relaxation of the original institution by the permission of divorces on various accounts, according to certain regulations prescribed in the Levitical code; but under the Christian dispensation, only from the commission of that crime which amounts to a violation of the nuptial vow.
Thus, it is clear that marriage is an ordinance of God; because it was instituted, if not commanded, at the creation; and that 'it consisted,' as Milton expresses it ('Treatise of Christian Doctrine'), 'in the mutual love, society, help, and comfort of the husband and wife, though with a reservation of superior rights to the husband (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:7-9). Marriage, therefore, is a solemn, permanent union of man with woman, ordained by God for the purpose either of the procreation of children or of the relief and solace of life; and it is of so intimate, mysterious a character that the apostle knew nothing within the whole range of human experience so fit to represent the spiritual union of the believer's soul with Christ.' That it is a connection of one man with one woman is not only evident from this passage, and our Lord's comment upon it, but from the divine will as manifested by the course of Providence in the near equality of the number of the sexes. The most accurate observations on the statistics of population have shown that the number of male births exceeds that of females by a very small proportion; but the mortality of males, by exhaustion of labour, or war, or other causes, through the course of life, a little exceeds that of females: so that the excess in the one case is counterbalanced by that in the other; and the average number of marriageable persons of each sex is found as nearly equal as it is possible to ascertain. This, therefore, is a physical law, which demonstrates the intention of Providence, and affords a constant authoritative comment, illustrating the drift of the passage to be this, that a husband should have ONE wife, and only one, during her life.
In the adaptation of the sexes for such a close and indissoluble union, the wisdom and benevolence of the Creator are eminently displayed. The husband finds in the love and the life of woman what was wanting to the perfection of his own character, and the wife enjoys in the man the counselor, the guardian, and the friend whom her weaker and gentler nature requires. The former has his temper, his passions, and his sorrows, produced by the cares and turmoil of the world, soothed or dispelled by the warm affection, the ready sympathy, the faithful and delicate assiduities of the latter; and both having the same common interests, are led to study each other's dispositions, to bear one another's burdens, to help each other's infirmities, so that by the growing assimilation of tastes, the identity of aim, and the reciprocities of attachment, provision is made for increasing and riveting the mutual bond that unites them. If ever conjugal love was felt in all its purity and power, it was by the newly-created pair. Milton has drawn an enchanting picture of the implantation and the first working of this passion, in his description of the woman and her first presentation.
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. They were both naked ... and were not ashamed. While the mind retained its normal superiority to the body, and was governed by a regard to the divine will, the first pair were in a state of sinless innocence, and could feel no shame, because they were strangers to the impulse of irregular appetites and sensual lusts. 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 finding their gratification in the service and enjoyment of God. Dr. Warburton supposes that the first pair continued many years in the garden. And many other writers, though not venturing so far as he, are of opinion that, since Adam was going through a secular as well as religious education there, he must have remained at least during one entire revolution of the seasons.
Remarks: If an account of their aborigines possesses special charms to the natives of every country, what a surpassing interest must attach to a history which describes the origin and primordial state of the human race! Such a history bearing the aspect of an archaic record, and having strong presumptive claims to be considered a reliable authority, would not only secure the attention of the antiquary, but be valued as a precious document by all genuine lovers of knowledge and truth; and accordingly, since the Bible possesses this very character, being the most ancient of all books, and stamped with the indubitable seal of God, it might have been expected that it would be welcomed with universal gratitude and confidence, not only for the view it gives of the first introduction of our race into the world, but for the light it sheds upon many collateral subjects of speculative interest as well as practical importance to which inquisitive minds have been unceasingly directed. Very different, however, is the fact. For, even among those who profess to regard the Bible as a divine revelation, there are some who look upon its notices of primeval man with unqualified scepticism, and others who, though receiving them as substantially true, consider that truth as decked out in the favourite parabolic form of Oriental drapery.
Since the early history of all nations, where not involved in impenetrable obscurity, consists to a large extent of a collection of legendary tales, modern criticism has set itself to eliminate the true from the fabulous; and having succeeded so admirably in the case of ancient Rome, in exhibiting the origin and rudimentary history of that renowned empire in a rational light, it was not unnatural that she should apply the same searching principles to test, and adopt the same winnowing process in examining, the early narratives of the Scripture. The result has been that many writers reject them entirely as myths, the written record of popular traditions, which had long been current in the mouths of the Hebrew people, or were traceable to a common Asiatic origin-stories somewhat similar being found in other countries of the East, and which, though they obtained credit in early ages of ignorance and superstition, cannot stand the test of sober and enlightened scrutiny. Others, who shrink from these conclusions of Rationalistic unbelief, consider the early narratives of the Bible to be couched in the form of allegory, and more particularly the description of the probation given in this chapter to be an allegorical picture of temptation as it has been, is, and ever will be. If it be an allegory, however, we are altogether unfurnished with a key to unlock its mysteries; so that for any good purpose that can be served by the publication of a narrative in characters so unknown, and in a form so unintelligible, it might as well never have been given to man at all.
Moreover, since the narrative is acknowledged by this class of writers to contain a substratum of truth, how is that truth to be reached? If it consists partly of history and partly of allegory, by what rule are we to separate these blended elements, or how shall we determine the exact boundary line, where the allegory ends, and the history begins? If, on the other hand, the whole narrative in this chapter is to be considered allegorical, then, as Dr. Horsley remarks, the garden of Eden is an allegorical garden-the trees that stocked it were allegorical trees-the man and woman that were appointed to dress it and to keep it are allegorical personages-the grant of the fruit of all the trees for food, with the express reservation of one, is an allegorical representation-the serpent is an allegorical tempter-the fall an allegorical occurrence-the Saviour an allegorical deliverer; and therefore the whole subsequent history of redemption must be viewed as one entire allegory. Rejecting, then, both the mythical and the allegorical theory of interpreting this chapter, as equally untenable, we adhere to the ordinary view of regarding it as plain history, the history of two real individuals; and as a decisive proof that this is the just light in which it is to be regarded, we appeal to the minute and circumstantial description given of the topography of the garden, to the names and course of the rivers that watered it, the countries they bounded, and the natural productions for which those countries were famous, as material marks which, doubtless, were well known to the contemporaries of Moses, and by which, though many of them are now unknown, every unprejudiced reader is impressed with the belief that they describe a distinct locality.
It is an indirect, but still strongly corroborative evidence of the historical reality of the garden of Eden, that the idea of a terrestrial paradise, the sacred abode of purity and felicity, is incorporated with the earliest traditions of all nations. The gardens in which the idolatrous contemporaries of the prophets worshipped, and the plantations of which were always marked by one consecrated tree in the center (Isaiah 1:29; Isaiah 65:3; Isaiah 66:17) - the gardens consecrated to Adonis by the Assyrians and other Eastern nations-the gardens of the Hesperides and the Fortunate Islands celebrated by the classical poets-the enchanted gardens of the Chinese-the Meru of the Brahmins and the Buddhists;-these and similar 'gardens of delight' which pagan superstition has formed and cherished-not to speak of the reverence for sacred trees which, though differing among different people, have always been symbolical of religious ideas-are all manifestly traceable to the Scripture Eden as the original prototype.
'Those legends,' says Hardwick ('Christ and other Masters'), 'notwithstanding a huge mass of wild exaggerations, still bear witness to primeval verities. They intimate how in the background of man's visions lay a paradise of holy joy-a paradise secured from every kind of profanation, and made inaccessible to the guilty-a paradise full of objects that were calculated to delight the senses and to elevate the mind-a paradise that granted to its tenant rich and rare immunities, and that fed with its perennial streams the tree of life and immortality. There are pagan traditions of another kind which evidently point to transactions in the garden of Eden. Thus, in the mythology of the ancient Egyptians, the Deity Amoun-ra, who manifested himself in the form of a man, was at first a monad, comprehending male and female, father and mother, in his own person. But by a spontaneous exercise of his power he divided himself into two parts, so that the male was separated from the female; and while he retained the male half of his individuality, the other was constituted as the first woman. Similar to this is the Hindu legend regarding Brahma, who divided himself, and thence sprang the man Manu and his wife Satarupa. These and numerous other legends are nothing else than perversions or distorted reminiscences of the derivation of Eve from Adam's side.
The narrative contained in this chapter is consistent with the soundest philosophy. Thus, for example, language is considered by the most profound thinkers and competent judges in modern times not to be a human acquisition made by dint of long and repeated efforts, but to be an original gift of the Creator, capable of being at once and fully used by man, in the state in which he was created; because as Trench remarks ('Hulsean Lectures') 'language invariably rises and falls with the rise and fall of a people's moral and spiritual life; and the speech of savages is not the primal rudiments, but the ultimate wreck of a language.' Since the power of language, then, was conferred by the bountiful Creator on the first man, it was reasonable that the same paternal guardian should train his new-made creature to exercise his yet untried organs of speech; and although his language might at first not be perfect, yet it was given in a state fully adequate to the condition and wants of Adam, while facility in using his faculty of articulate sound would progressively increase by daily exercise.
But the fact of Adam giving names to the inferior creatures around him may suggest a further view-that of showing the general mode of the divine instruction to the first man; because the divine origin of his language appears to afford almost a decisive proof that he must have been originally favoured with direct and frequent communications of knowledge from heaven on all matters suited to the condition in which he was placed, and necessary to the full enjoyment of its advantages. The fine descriptions, however, which the fancy of speculative writers has given of his great attainments in science and art are utter without any solid foundation in truth; and the utmost conclusion that we are warranted to draw is, that he was endowed at the first with such powers of perception, and, in progress of time, supplied with such additional measures of secular as well as religious knowledge, as were necessary for the performance of his duties, or conducive to the advancement of his happiness.
Moreover, this narrative harmonizes with the justest views of human nature as formed for society. There are some who maintain that the primeval state of man was that of a savage roaming wild and naked in the woods; that it was by a long and gradual course of advancement he emerged from barbarism, and rose to the knowledge of the arts and enjoyments of social and civilized life. This chapter shows that the reverse was the case: for the normal state of man was that of a pure, upright creature, placed in a situation suited to his rational nature and social habits, and instructed in those useful arts which are necessary for the support and the comfort of life.
In short, the account which this chapter gives of the beginning of the human race is directly antagonistic to all the fine theories which have been elaborated of the formation of civil society, by compact, out of multitudes who had been living previously unassociated and without government, in what is absurdly called a state of nature. The manner in which God was pleased to give a beginning to the human race was such as barred the possibility of the existence of mankind in an unassociated condition previous to a state of society. They were placed in circumstances calculated to call forth the constant exercise of the social affections; while it may be added, though it is anticipatory, that their offspring were born in society, and under the relations of the nearest consanguinity. Still further, this chapter shows that regular and virtuous activity is one of the main sources of human happiness. Work of some kind is absolutely necessary for the nature of man; and accordingly the first man was placed in a garden, to dress it and to keep it-the easiest way of life-for every other, that of the farmer not excepted, requires art and experience of various kinds. Thus, in the words of Herder, 'As the Creator best knew the destination of his creatures, man, like all the rest, was created, as it were, in his element, in the seat of that kind of life for which he was intended.' Lastly, it was indispensable that, as a moral being, his character should be early determined; and therefore he was placed from the first in a state of probation; because great inconveniences and evils might have occurred had this probationary discipline been postponed until a later period. We, as well as the first man, are in a state of probation; and the grand design which God has in view, in placing us amid circumstances of temptation and trial, is to determine whether we have the principle of obedience.
Since the creation of the world, the great contest has always been: Who shall be worshipped and served-the Creator or the creature? This was man's trial under the first covenant; and it is that by which every man is still tried, although, thanks be to God! He is not now to stand or fall by his own works. It was to be proved in Eden whether man would seek wisdom and happiness independently of God; and this is precisely the trial to which we are subjected still. Let us, then, hear and obey the Word of God. Whatsoever He commands, that let us resolve with unswerving fidelity to do; and knowing that He has laid no restraints, issued no prohibitions, except in regard to things that are hurtful to us, let us steadily adhere to the path of duty He has prescribed, because that will always be found the path of peace and happiness>.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Genesis 2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30