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The Creation of the World - Genesis 1:1-2:3
The account of the creation, its commencement, progress, and completion, bears the marks, both in form and substance, of a historical document in which it is intended that we should accept as actual truth, not only the assertion that God created the heavens, and the earth, and all that lives and moves in the world, but also the description of the creation itself in all its several stages. If we look merely at the form of this document, its place at the beginning of the book of Genesis is sufficient to warrant the expectation that it will give us history, and not fiction, or human speculation. As the development of the human family has been from the first a historical fact, and as man really occupies that place in the world which this record assigns him, the creation of man, as well as that of the earth on which, and the heaven for which, he is to live, must also be a work of God, i.e., a fact of objective truth and reality. The grand simplicity of the account is in perfect harmony with the fact. “The whole narrative is sober, definite, clear, and concrete. The historical events described contain a rich treasury of speculative thoughts and poetical glory; but they themselves are free from the influence of human invention and human philosophizing” ( Delitzsch). This is also true of the arrangement of the whole. The work of creation does not fall, as Herder and others maintain, into two triads of days, with the work of the second answering to that of the first. For although the creation of the light on the first day seems to correspond to that of the light-bearing stars on the fourth, there is no reality in the parallelism which some discover between the second and third days on the one hand, and the third and fourth on the other. On the second day the firmament or atmosphere is formed; on the fifth, the fish and fowl. On the third, after the sea and land are separated, the plants are formed; on the sixth, the animals of the dry land and man. Now, if the creation of the fowls which fill the air answers to that of the firmament, the formation of the fish as the inhabitants of the waters ought to be assigned to the sixth day, and not to the fifth, as being parallel to the creation of the seas. The creation of the fish and fowl on the same day is an evident proof that a parallelism between the first three days of creation and the last three is not intended, and does not exist. Moreover, if the division of the work of creation into so many days had been the result of human reflection; the creation of man, who was appointed lord of the earth, would certainly not have been assigned to the same day as that of the beasts and reptiles, but would have been kept distinct from the creation of the beasts, and allotted to the seventh day, in which the creation was completed - a meaning which Richers and Keerl have actually tried to force upon the text of the Bible. In the different acts of creation we perceive indeed an evident progress from the general to the particular, from the lower to the higher orders of creatures, or rather a steady advance towards more and more concrete forms. But on the fourth day this progress is interrupted in a way which we cannot explain. In the transition from the creation of the plants to that of sun, moon, and stars, it is impossible to discover either a “well-arranged and constant progress,” or “a genetic advance,” since the stars are not intermediate links between plants and animals, and, in fact, have no place at all in the scale of earthly creatures.
If we pass on to the contents of our account of the creation, they differ as widely from all other cosmogonies as truth from fiction. Those of heathen nations are either hylozoistical, deducing the origin of life and living beings from some primeval matter; or pantheistical, regarding the whole world as emanating from a common divine substance; or mythological, tracing both gods and men to a chaos or world-egg. They do not even rise to the notion of a creation, much less to the knowledge of an almighty God, as the Creator of all things.
(Note: According to Berosus and Syncellus, the Chaldean myth represents the “All” as consisting of darkness and water, filled with monstrous creatures, and ruled by a woman, Markaya, or ̔Ομόρωκα (? Ocean). Bel divided the darkness, and cut the woman into two halves, of which he formed the heaven and the earth; he then cut off his own head, and from the drops of blood men were formed. - According to the Phoenician myth of Sanchuniathon, the beginning of the All was a movement of dark air, and a dark, turbid chaos. By the union of the spirit with the All, Μώτ , i.e., slime, was formed, from which every seed of creation and the universe was developed; and the heavens were made in the form of an egg, from which the sun and moon, the stars and constellations, sprang. By the heating of the earth and sea there arose winds, clouds and rain, lightning and thunder, the roaring of which wakened up sensitive beings, so that living creatures of both sexes moved in the waters and upon the earth. In another passage Sanchuniathon represents Κολπία (probably פּיח קול , the moaning of the wind) and his wife Βάαυ ( bohu) as producing Αὶών and πρωτόγονος , two mortal men, from whom sprang Γένος and Γενεά , the inhabitants of Phoenicia. - It is well known from Hesiod's theogony how the Grecian myth represents the gods as coming into existence at the same time as the world. The numerous inventions of the Indians, again, all agree in this, that they picture the origin of the world as an emanation from the absolute, through Brahma's thinking, or through the contemplation of a primeval being called Tad (it). - Buddhism also acknowledges no God as creator of the world, teaches no creation, but simply describes the origin of the world and the beings that inhabit it as the necessary consequence of former acts performed by these beings themselves.)
Even in the Etruscan and Persian myths, which correspond so remarkably to the biblical account that they must have been derived from it, the successive acts of creation are arranged according to the suggestions of human probability and adaptation.
(Note: According to the Etruscan saga, which Suidas quotes from a historian, who was a “ παῤαὐτοῖς (the Tyrrhenians) ἔμπειρος ἀνήρ (therefore not a native),” God created the world in six periods of one thousand years each: in the first, the heavens and the earth; in the second, the firmament; in the third, the sea and other waters of the earth; in the fourth, sun moon, and stars; in the fifth, the beasts of the air, the water, and the land; in the sixth, men. The world will last twelve thousand years, the human race six thousand. - According to the saga of the Zend in Avesta, the supreme Being Ormuzd created the visible world by his word in six periods or thousands of years: (1) the heaven, with the stars; (2) the water on the earth, with the clouds; (3) the earth, with the mountain Alborj and the other mountains; (4) the trees; (5) the beasts, which sprang from the primeval beast; (6) men, the first of whom was Kajomorts. Every one of these separate creations is celebrated by a festival. The world will last twelve thousand years.)
In contrast with all these mythical inventions, the biblical account shines out in the clear light of truth, and proves itself by its contents to be an integral part of the revealed history, of which it is accepted as the pedestal throughout the whole of the sacred Scriptures. This is not the case with the Old Testament only; but in the New Testament also it is accepted and taught by Christ and the apostles as the basis of the divine revelation. The select only a few from the many passages of the Old and New Testaments, in which God is referred to as the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and the almighty operations of the living God in the world are based upon the fact of its creation: In Exodus 20:9-1 Kings :; Exodus 31:12-Esther :, the command to keep the Sabbath is founded upon the fact that God rested on the seventh day, when the work of creation was complete; and in Psalms 8:1-1 Samuel : and 104, the creation is depicted as a work of divine omnipotence in close adherence to the narrative before us. From the creation of man, as described in Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24, Christ demonstrates the indissoluble character of marriage as a divine ordinance (Matthew 19:4-Joshua :); Peter speaks of the earth as standing out of the water and in the water by the word of God (2 Peter 3:5); and the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, “starting from Genesis 2:2, describes it as the motive principle of all history, that the Sabbath of God is to become the Sabbath of the creature” ( Delitzsch).
The biblical account of the creation can also vindicate its claim to be true and actual history, in the presence of the doctrines of philosophy and the established results of natural science. So long, indeed, as philosophy undertakes to construct the universe from general ideas, it will be utterly unable to comprehend the creation; but ideas will never explain the existence of things. Creation is an act of the personal God, not a process of nature, the development of which can be traced to the laws of birth and decay that prevail in the created world. But the work of God, as described in the history of creation, is in perfect harmony with the correct notions of divine omnipotence, wisdom and goodness. The assertion, so frequently made, that the course of the creation takes its form from the Hebrew week, which was already in existence, and the idea of God's resting on the seventh day, from the institution of the Hebrew Sabbath, is entirely without foundation. There is no allusion in Genesis 2:2-Leviticus : to the Sabbath of the Israelites; and the week of seven days is older than the Sabbath of the Jewish covenant. Natural research, again, will never explain the origin of the universe, or even of the earth; for the creation lies beyond the limits of the territory within its reach. By all modest naturalists, therefore, it is assumed that the origin of matter, or of the original material of the world, was due to an act of divine creation. But there is no firm ground for the conclusion which they draw, on the basis of this assumption, with regard to the formation or development of the world from its first chaotic condition into a fit abode for man. All the theories which have been adopted, from Descartes to the present day, are not the simple and well-established inductions of natural science founded upon careful observation, but combinations of partial discoveries empirically made, with speculative ideas of very questionable worth. The periods of creation, which modern geology maintains with such confidence, that not a few theologians have accepted them as undoubted and sought to bring them into harmony with the scriptural account of the creation, if not to deduce them from the Bible itself, are inferences partly from the successive strata which compose the crust of the earth, and partly from the various fossil remains of plants and animals to be found in those strata. The former are regarded as proofs of successive formation; and from the difference between the plants and animals found in a fossil state and those in existence now, the conclusion is drawn, that their creation must have preceded the present formation, which either accompanied or was closed by the advent of man. But it is not difficult to see that the former of these conclusions could only be regarded as fully established, if the process by which the different strata were formed were clearly and fully known, or if the different formations were always found lying in the same order, and could be readily distinguished from one another. But with regard to the origin of the different species of rock, geologists, as is well known, are divided into two contending schools: the Neptunists, who attribute all the mountain formations to deposit in water; and the Plutonists, who trace all the non-fossiliferous rocks to the action of heat. According to the Neptunists, the crystalline rocks are the earliest or primary formations; according to the Plutonists, the granite burst through the transition and stratified rocks, and were driven up from within the earth, so that they are of later date. But neither theory is sufficient to account in this mechanical way for all the phenomena connected with the relative position of the rocks; consequently, a third theory, which supposes the rocks to be the result of chemical processes, is steadily gaining ground. Now if the rocks, both crystalline and stratified, were formed, not in any mechanical way, but by chemical processes, in which, besides fire and water, electricity, galvanism, magnetism, and possibly other forces at present unknown to physical science were at work; the different formations may have been produced contemporaneously and laid one upon another. Till natural science has advanced beyond mere opinion and conjecture, with regard to the mode in which the rocks were formed and their positions determined; there can be no ground for assuming that conclusions drawn from the successive order of the various strata, with regard to the periods of their formation, must of necessity be true. This is the more apparent, when we consider, on the one hand, that even the principal formations (the primary, transitional, stratified, and tertiary), not to mention the subdivisions of which each of these is composed, do not always occur in the order laid down in the system, but in not a few instances the order is reversed, crystalline primary rocks lying upon transitional, stratified, and tertiary formations (granite, syenite, gneiss, etc., above both Jura-limestone and chalk); and, on the other hand, that not only do the different leading formations and their various subdivisions frequently shade off into one another so imperceptibly, that no boundary line can be drawn between them and the species distinguished by oryctognosis are not sharply and clearly defined in nature, but that, instead of surrounding the entire globe, they are all met with in certain localities only, whilst whole series of intermediate links are frequently missing, the tertiary formations especially being universally admitted to be only partial.
The second of these conclusions also stands or falls with the assumptions on which they are founded, viz., with the three propositions: (1) that each of the fossiliferous formations contains an order of plants and animals peculiar to itself; (2) that these are so totally different from the existing plants and animals, that the latter could not have sprung from them; (3) that no fossil remains of man exist of the same antiquity as the fossil remains of animals. Not one of these can be regarded as an established truth, or as the unanimously accepted result of geognosis. The assertion so often made as an established fact, that the transition rocks contain none but fossils of the lower orders of plants and animals, that mammalia are first met with in the Trias, Jura, and chalk formations, and warm-blooded animals in the tertiary rocks, has not been confirmed by continued geognostic researches, but is more and more regarded as untenable. Even the frequently expressed opinion, that in the different forms of plants and animals of the successive rocks there is a gradual and to a certain extent progressive development of the animal and vegetable world, has not commanded universal acceptance. Numerous instances are known, in which the remains of one and the same species occur not only in two, but in several successive formations, and there are some types that occur in nearly all. And the widely spread notion, that the fossil types are altogether different from the existing families of plants and animals, is one of the unscientific exaggerations of actual facts. All the fossil plants and animals can be arranged in the orders and classes of the existing flora and fauna. Even with regard to the genera there is no essential difference, although many of the existing types are far inferior in size to the forms of the old world. It is only the species that can be shown to differ, either entirely or in the vast majority of cases, from species in existence now. But even if all the species differed, which can by no means be proved, this would be no valid evidence that the existing plants and animals had not sprung from those that have passed away, so long as natural science is unable to obtain any clear insight into the origin and formation of species, and the question as to the extinction of a species or its transition into another has met with no satisfactory solution. Lastly, even now the occurrence of fossil human bones among those of animals that perished at least before the historic age, can no longer be disputed, although Central Asia, the cradle of the human race, has not yet been thoroughly explored by palaeontologists.
If then the premises from which the geological periods have been deduced are of such a nature that not one of them is firmly established, the different theories as to the formation of the earth also rest upon two questionable assumptions, viz., (1) that the immediate working of God in the creation was restricted to the production of the chaotic matter, and that the formation of this primary matter into a world peopled by innumerable organisms and living beings proceeded according to the laws of nature, which have been discovered by science as in force in the existing world; and (2) that all the changes, which the world and its inhabitants have undergone since the creation was finished, may be measured by the standard of changes observed in modern times, and still occurring from time to time. But the Bible actually mentions two events of the primeval age, whose effect upon the form of the earth and the animal and vegetable world no natural science can explain. We refer to the curse pronounced upon the earth in consequence of the fall of the progenitors of our race, by which even the animal world was made subject to φθοπά (Genesis 3:17, and Romans 8:20); and the flood, by which the earth was submerged even to the tops of the highest mountains, and all the living beings on the dry land perished, with the exception of those preserved by Noah in the ark. Hence, even if geological doctrines do contradict the account of the creation contained in Genesis, they cannot shake the credibility of the Scriptures.
But if the biblical account of the creation has full claim to be regarded as historical truth, the question arises, whence it was obtained. The opinion that the Israelites drew it from the cosmogony of this or the other ancient people, and altered it according to their own religious ideas, will need no further refutation, after what we have said respecting the cosmogonies of other nations. Whence then did Israel obtain a pure knowledge of God, such as we cannot find in any heathen nation, or in the most celebrated of the wise men of antiquity, if not from divine revelation? This is the source from which the biblical account of the creation springs. God revealed it to men - not first to Moses or Abraham, but undoubtedly to the first men, since without this revelation they could not have understood either their relation to God or their true position in the world. The account contained in Genesis does not lie, as Hoffmann says, “within that sphere which was open to man through his historical nature, so that it may be regarded as the utterance of the knowledge possessed by the first man of things which preceded his own existence, and which he might possess, without needing any special revelation, if only the present condition of the world lay clear and transparent before him.” By simple intuition the first man might discern what nature had effected, viz., the existing condition of the world, and possibly also its causality, but not the fact that it was created in six days, or the successive acts of creation, and the sanctification of the seventh day. Our record contains not merely religious truth transformed into history, but the true and actual history of a work of God, which preceded the existence of man, and to which he owes his existence. Of this work he could only have obtained his knowledge through divine revelation, by the direct instruction of God. Nor could he have obtained it by means of a vision. The seven days' works are not so many “prophetico-historical tableaux,” which were spread before the mental eye of the seer, whether of the historian or the first man. The account before us does not contain the slightest marks of a vision, is no picture of creation, in which every line betrays the pencil of a painter rather than the pen of a historian, but is obviously a historical narrative, which we could no more transform into a vision than the account of paradise or of the fall. As God revealed Himself to the first man not in visions, but by coming to him in a visible form, teaching him His will, and then after his fall announcing the punishment (Genesis 2:16-Esther :; Genesis 3:9.); as He talked with Moses “face to face, as a man with his friend,” “mouth to mouth,” not in vision or dream: so does the written account of the Old Testament revelation commence, not with visions, but with actual history. The manner in which God instructed the first men with reference to the creation must be judged according to the intercourse carried on by Him, as Creator and Father, with these His creatures and children. What God revealed to them upon this subject, they transmitted to their children and descendants, together with everything of significance and worth that they had experienced and discovered for themselves. This tradition was kept in faithful remembrance by the family of the godly; and even in the confusion of tongues it was not changed in its substance, but simply transferred into the new form of the language spoken by the Semitic tribes, and thus handed down from generation to generation along with the knowledge and worship of the true God, until it became through Abraham the spiritual inheritance of the chosen race. Nothing certain can be decided as to the period when it was committed to writing; probably some time before Moses, who inserted it as a written record in the Thorah of Israel.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” - Heaven and earth have not existed from all eternity, but had a beginning; nor did they arise by emanation from an absolute substance, but were created by God. This sentence, which stands at the head of the records of revelation, is not a mere heading, nor a summary of the history of the creation, but a declaration of the primeval act of God, by which the universe was called into being. That this verse is not a heading merely, is evident from the fact that the following account of the course of the creation commences with w (and), which connects the different acts of creation with the fact expressed in Gen 1:1, as the primary foundation upon which they rest. בּרשׁיח (in the beginning) is used absolutely, like ἐν ἀρχῇ in Joh 1:1, and מראשׁיח in Isa 46:10. The following clause cannot be treated as subordinate, either by rendering it, “in the beginning when God created ..., the earth was,” etc., or “in the beginning when God created...(but the earth was then a chaos, etc.), God said, Let there be light” (Ewald and Bunsen). The first is opposed to the grammar of the language, which would require Gen 1:2 to commence with הארץ ותּהי; the second to the simplicity of style which pervades the whole chapter, and to which so involved a sentence would be intolerable, apart altogether from the fact that this construction is invented for the simple purpose of getting rid of the doctrine of a creatio ex nihilo, which is so repulsive to modern Pantheism. ראשׁיח in itself is a relative notion, indicating the commencement of a series of things or events; but here the context gives it the meaning of the very first beginning, the commencement of the world, when time itself began. The statement, that in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, not only precludes the idea of the eternity of the world a parte ante, but shows that the creation of the heaven and the earth was the actual beginning of all things. The verb בּרא, indeed, to judge from its use in Jos 17:15, Jos 17:18, where it occurs in the Piel (to hew out), means literally “to cut, or new,” but in Kal it always means to create, and is only applied to a divine creation, the production of that which had no existence before. It is never joined with an accusative of the material, although it does not exclude a pre-existent material unconditionally, but is used for the creation of man (Gen 1:27; Gen 5:1-2), and of everything new that God creates, whether in the kingdom of nature (Num 16:30) or of that of grace (Exo 34:10; Psa 51:10, etc.). In this verse, however, the existence of any primeval material is precluded by the object created: “the heaven and the earth.” This expression is frequently employed to denote the world, or universe, for which there was no single word in the Hebrew language; the universe consisting of a twofold whole, and the distinction between heaven and earth being essentially connected with the notion of the world, the fundamental condition of its historical development (vid., Gen 14:19, Gen 14:22; Exo 31:17). In the earthly creation this division is repeated in the distinction between spirit and nature; and in man, as the microcosm, in that between spirit and body. Through sin this distinction was changed into an actual opposition between heaven and earth, flesh and spirit; but with the complete removal of sin, this opposition will cease again, though the distinction between heaven and earth, spirit and body, will remain, in such a way, however, that the earthly and corporeal will be completely pervaded by the heavenly and spiritual, the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven to earth, and the earthly body being transfigured into a spiritual body (Rev 21:1-2; 1Co 15:35.). Hence, if in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, “there is nothing belonging to the composition of the universe, either in material or form, which had an existence out of God prior to this divine act in the beginning” (Delitzsch). This is also shown in the connection between our verse and the one which follows: “and the earth was without form and void,” not before, but when, or after God created it. From this it is evident that the void and formless state of the earth was not uncreated, or without beginning. At the same time it is obvious from the creative acts which follow (vv. 3-18), that the heaven and earth, as God created them in the beginning, were not the well-ordered universe, but the world in its elementary form; just as Euripides applies the expression οὐρανὸς καὶ γαῖα to the undivided mass (οπφὴμία), which was afterwards formed into heaven and earth.
The First Day. - Though treating of the creation of the heaven and the earth, the writer, both here and in what follows, describes with minuteness the original condition and progressive formation of the earth alone, and says nothing more respecting the heaven than is actually requisite in order to show its connection with the earth. He is writing for inhabitants of the earth, and for religious ends; not to gratify curiosity, but to strengthen faith in God, the Creator of the universe. What is said in Genesis 1:2 of the chaotic condition of the earth, is equally applicable to the heaven, “for the heaven proceeds from the same chaos as the earth.”
“ And the earth was (not became) waste and void.” The alliterative nouns tohu vabohu , the etymology of which is lost, signify waste and empty (barren), but not laying waste and desolating. Whenever they are used together in other places (Isaiah 34:11; Jeremiah 4:23), they are taken from this passage; but tohu alone is frequently employed as synonymous with איך , non-existence, and הבל , nothingness (Isaiah 40:17, Isaiah 40:23; Isaiah 49:4). The coming earth was at first waste and desolate, a formless, lifeless mass, rudis indigestaque moles , ὕληἄμορφος (Wis. 11:17) or χάος .
“ And darkness was upon the face of the deep.” תּהום , from הוּם , to roar, to rage, denotes the raging waters, the roaring waves (Psalms 42:7) or flood (Exodus 15:5; Deuteronomy 8:7); and hence the depths of the sea (Job 28:14; Job 38:16), and even the abyss of the earth (Psalms 71:20). As an old traditional word, it is construed like a proper name without an article ( Ewald, Gramm.). The chaotic mass in which the earth and the firmament were still undistinguished, unformed, and as it were unborn, was a heaving deep, an abyss of waters ( ἄβυσσος , lxx), and this deep was wrapped in darkness. But it was in process of formation, for the Spirit of God moved upon the waters, רוּח (breath) denotes wind and spirit, like πνεῦνα from πνέω . Ruach Elohim is not a breath of wind caused by God ( Theodoret, etc.), for the verb does not suit this meaning, but the creative Spirit of God, the principle of all life (Psalms 33:6; Psalms 104:30), which worked upon the formless, lifeless mass, separating, quickening, and preparing the living forms, which were called into being by the creative words that followed. רחף in the Piel is applied to the hovering and brooding of a bird over its young, to warm them, and develop their vital powers (Deuteronomy 32:11). In such a way as this the Spirit of God moved upon the deep, which had received at its creation the germs of all life, to fill them with vital energy by His breath of life. The three statements in our verse are parallel; the substantive and participial construction of the second and third clauses rests upon the והיחה of the first. All three describe the condition of the earth immediately after the creation of the universe. This suffices to prove that the theosophic speculation of those who “make a gap between the first two verses, and fill it with a wild horde of evil spirits and their demoniacal works, is an arbitrary interpolation” ( Ziegler).
The word of God then went forth to the primary material of the world, now filled with creative powers of vitality, to call into being, out of the germs of organization and life which it contained, and in the order pre-ordained by His wisdom, those creatures of the world, which proclaim, as they live and move, the glory of their Creator (Psalms 8:1-1 Samuel :). The work of creation commences with the words, “ and God said.” The words which God speaks are existing things. “He speaks, and it is done; He commands, and it stands fast.” These words are deeds of the essential Word, the λόγος , by which “all things were made.” Speaking is the revelation of thought; the creation, the realization of the thoughts of God, a freely accomplished act of the absolute Spirit, and not an emanation of creatures from the divine essence. The first thing created by the divine Word was “ light,” the elementary light, or light-material, in distinction from the “ lights,” or light-bearers, bodies of light, as the sun, moon, and stars, created on the fourth day, are called. It is now a generally accepted truth of natural science, that the light does not spring from the sun and stars, but that the sun itself is a dark body, and the light proceeds from an atmosphere which surrounds it. Light was the first thing called forth, and separated from the dark chaos by the creative mandate, “ Let there be,” - the first radiation of the life breathed into it by the Spirit of God, inasmuch as it is the fundamental condition of all organic life in the world, and without light and the warmth which flows from it no plant or animal could thrive.
The expression in Genesis 1:4, “ God saw the light that it was good,” for “God saw that the light was good,” according to a frequently recurring antiptosis (cf. Genesis 6:2; Genesis 12:14; Genesis 13:10), is not an anthropomorphism at variance with enlightened thoughts of God; for man's seeing has its type in God's, and God's seeing is not a mere expression of the delight of the eye or of pleasure in His work, but is of the deepest significance to every created thing, being the seal of the perfection which God has impressed upon it, and by which its continuance before God and through God is determined. The creation of light, however, was no annihilation of darkness, no transformation of the dark material of the world into pure light, but a separation of the light from the primary matter, a separation which established and determined that interchange of light and darkness, which produces the distinction between day and night.
Hence it is said in Genesis 1:5, “ God called the light Day, and the darkness Night;” for, as Augustine observes, “all light is not day, nor all darkness night; but light and darkness alternating in a regular order constitute day and night.” None but superficial thinkers can take offence at the idea of created things receiving names from God. The name of a thing is the expression of its nature. If the name be given by man, it fixes in a word the impression which it makes upon the human mind; but when given by God, it expresses the reality, what the thing is in God's creation, and the place assigned it there by the side of other things.
“ Thus evening was and morning was one day.” אחד (one), like εἷς and unus , is used at the commencement of a numerical series for the ordinal primus (cf. Genesis 2:11; Genesis 4:19; Genesis 8:5, Genesis 8:15). Like the numbers of the days which follow, it is without the article, to show that the different days arose from the constant recurrence of evening and morning. It is not till the sixth and last day that the article is employed (Genesis 1:31), to indicate the termination of the work of creation upon that day. It is to be observed, that the days of creation are bounded by the coming of evening and morning. The first day did not consist of the primeval darkness and the origination of light, but was formed after the creation of the light by the first interchange of evening and morning. The first evening was not the gloom, which possibly preceded the full burst of light as it came forth from the primary darkness, and intervened between the darkness and full, broad daylight. It was not till after the light had been created, and the separation of the light from the darkness had taken place, that evening came, and after the evening the morning; and this coming of evening (lit., the obscure) and morning (the breaking) formed one, or the first day. It follows from this, that the days of creation are not reckoned from evening to evening, but from morning to morning. The first day does not fully terminate till the light returns after the darkness of night; it is not till the break of the new morning that the first interchange of light and darkness is completed, and a ἡερονύκτιον has passed. The rendering, “out of evening and morning there came one day,” is at variance with grammar, as well as with the actual fact. With grammar, because such a thought would require 'echaad אחד ליום ; and with fact, because the time from evening to morning does not constitute a day, but the close of a day. The first day commenced at the moment when God caused the light to break forth from the darkness; but this light did not become a day, until the evening had come, and the darkness which set in with the evening had given place the next morning to the break of day. Again, neither the words ערב ויהי בקר ויהי , nor the expression בקר ערב , evening-morning (= day), in Daniel 8:14, corresponds to the Greek νυχθη̈́̀ερον , for morning is not equivalent to day, nor evening to night. The reckoning of days from evening to evening in the Mosaic law (Leviticus 23:32), and by many ancient tribes (the pre-Mohammedan Arabs, the Athenians, Gauls, and Germans), arose not from the days of creation, but from the custom of regulating seasons by the changes of the moon. But if the days of creation are regulated by the recurring interchange of light and darkness, they must be regarded not as periods of time of incalculable duration, of years or thousands of years, but as simple earthly days. It is true the morning and evening of the first three days were not produced by the rising and setting of the sun, since the sun was not yet created; but the constantly recurring interchange of light and darkness, which produced day and night upon the earth, cannot for a moment be understood as denoting that the light called forth from the darkness of chaos returned to that darkness again, and thus periodically burst forth and disappeared. The only way in which we can represent it to ourselves, is by supposing that the light called forth by the creative mandate, “Let there be,” was separated from the dark mass of the earth, and concentrated outside or above the globe, so that the interchange of light and darkness took place as soon as the dark chaotic mass began to rotate, and to assume in the process of creation the form of a spherical body. The time occupied in the first rotations of the earth upon its axis cannot, indeed, be measured by our hour-glass; but even if they were slower at first, and did not attain their present velocity till the completion of our solar system, this would make no essential difference between the first three days and the last three, which were regulated by the rising and setting of the sun.
(Note: Exegesis must insist upon this, and not allow itself to alter the plain sense of the words of the Bible, from irrelevant and untimely regard to the so-called certain inductions of natural science. Irrelevant we call such considerations, as make interpretation dependent upon natural science, because the creation lies outside the limits of empirical and speculative research, and, as an act of the omnipotent God, belongs rather to the sphere of miracles and mysteries, which can only be received by faith (Hebrews 11:3); and untimely, because natural science has supplied no certain conclusions as to the origin of the earth, and geology especially, even at the present time, is in a chaotic state of fermentation, the issue of which it is impossible to foresee.)
The Second Day. - When the light had been separated from the darkness, and day and night had been created, there followed upon a second fiat of the Creator, the division of the chaotic mass of waters through the formation of the firmament, which was placed as a wall of separation ( מבדּיל ) in the midst of the waters, and divided them into upper and lower waters. רקיע .s , from רקע to stretch, spread out, then beat or tread out, means expansum, the spreading out of the air, which surrounds the earth as an atmosphere. According to optical appearance, it is described as a carpet spread out above the earth (Psalms 54:2), a curtain (Isaiah 40:22), a transparent work of sapphire (Exodus 24:10), or a molten looking-glass (Job 37:18); but there is nothing in these poetical similes to warrant the idea that the heavens were regarded as a solid mass, a σιδήρεον , or χάλκεον or πολύχαλκον , such as Greek poets describe. The רקיע (rendered Veste by Luther, after the στερέωα of the lxx and firmamentum of the Vulgate) is called heaven in Genesis 1:8, i.e., the vault of heaven, which stretches out above the earth. The waters under the firmament are the waters upon the globe itself; those above are not ethereal waters
(Note: There is no proof of the existence of such “ethereal waters” to be found in such passages as Revelation 4:6; Revelation 15:2; Revelation 22:1; for what the holy seer there beholds before the throne as “a sea of glass like unto crystal mingled with fire,” and “a river of living water, clear as crystal,” flowing from the throne of God into the streets of the heavenly Jerusalem, are wide as the poles from any fluid or material substance from which the stars were made upon the fourth day. Of such a fluid the Scriptures know quite as little, as of the nebular theory of La Place, which, notwithstanding the bright spots in Mars and the inferior density of Jupiter, Saturn, and other planets, is still enveloped in a mist which no astronomy will ever disperse. If the waters above the firmament were the elementary matter of which the stars were made, the waters beneath must be the elementary matter of which the earth was formed; for the waters were one and the same before the creation of the firmament.) But the earth was not formed from the waters beneath; on the contrary, these waters were merely spread upon the earth and then gathered together into one place, and this place is called Sea. The earth, which appeared as dry land after the accumulation of the waters in the sea, was created in the beginning along with the heavens; but until the separation of land and water on the third day, it was so completely enveloped in water, that nothing could be seen but “the deep,” or “the waters” (Genesis 1:2). If, therefore, in the course of the work of creation, the heaven with its stars, and the earth with its vegetation and living creatures, came forth from this deep, or, to speak more correctly, if they appeared as well-ordered, and in a certain sense as finished worlds; it would be a complete misunderstanding of the account of the creation to suppose it to teach, that the water formed the elementary matter, out of which the heaven and the earth were made with all their hosts. Had this been the meaning of the writer, he would have mentioned water as the first creation, and not the heaven and the earth. How irreconcilable the idea of the waters above the firmament being ethereal waters is with the biblical representation of the opening of the windows of heaven when it rains, is evident from the way in which Keerl, the latest supporter of this theory, sets aside this difficulty, viz., by the bold assertion, that the mass of water which came through the windows of heaven at the flood was different from the rain which falls from the clouds; in direct opposition to the text of the Scriptures, which speaks of it not merely as rain (Genesis 7:12), but as the water of the clouds. Vid., Genesis 9:12., where it is said that when God brings a cloud over the earth, He will set the rainbow in the cloud, as a sign that the water (of the clouds collected above the earth) shall not become a flood to destroy the earth again.)
beyond the limits of the terrestrial atmosphere, but the waters which float in the atmosphere, and are separated by it from those upon the earth, the waters which accumulate in clouds, and then bursting these their bottles, pour down as rain upon the earth. For, according to the Old Testament representation, whenever it rains heavily, the doors or windows of heaven are opened (Genesis 7:11-2 Kings :; Psalms 78:23, cf. 2 Kings 7:2, 2 Kings 7:19; Isaiah 24:18). It is in (or with) the upper waters that God layeth the beams of His chambers, from which He watereth the hills (Psalms 104:13), and the clouds are His tabernacle (Job 36:29). If, therefore, according to this conception, looking from an earthly point of view, the mass of water which flows upon the earth in showers of rain is shut up in heaven (cf. Genesis 8:2), it is evident that it must be regarded as above the vault which spans the earth, or, according to the words of Psalms 148:4, “above the heavens.”
(Note: In Genesis 1:8 the lxx interpolates καὶ εἶδεν ὁ Θεὸς ὅτι καλόν (and God saw that it was good), and transfers the words “and it was so” from the end of Genesis 1:7 to the close of Genesis 1:6: two apparent improvements, but in reality two arbitrary changes. The transposition is copied from Genesis 1:9, Genesis 1:15, Genesis 1:24; and in making the interpolation, the author of the gloss has not observed that the division of the waters was not complete till the separation of the dry land from the water had taken place, and therefore the proper place for the expression of approval is at the close of the work of the third day.)
The Third Day. - The work of this day was twofold, yet closely connected. At first the waters beneath the heavens, i.e., those upon the surface of the earth, were gathered together, so that the dry ( היּבּשׁה , the solid ground) appeared. In what way the gathering of the earthly waters in the sea and the appearance of the dry land were effected, whether by the sinking or deepening of places in the body of the globe, into which the water was drawn off, or by the elevation of the solid ground, the record does not inform us, since it never describes the process by which effects are produced. It is probable, however, that the separation was caused both by depression and elevation. With the dry land the mountains naturally arose as the headlands of the mainland. But of this we have no physical explanations, either in the account before us, or in the poetical description of the creation in Psalms 54:1-Judges :. Even if we render Ps. 54:8, “the mountains arise, and they (the waters) descend into the valleys, to the place which Thou ( Jehovah) hast founded for them,” we have no proof, in this poetical account, of the elevation-theory of geology, since the psalmist is not speaking as a naturalist, but as a sacred poet describing the creation on the basis of Gen 1. “ The dry ” God called Earth, and “ the gathering of the waters,” i.e., the place into which the waters were collected, He called Sea. ימּים , an intensive rather than a numerical plural, is the great ocean, which surrounds the mainland on all sides, so that the earth appears to be founded upon seas (Psalms 24:2). Earth and sea are the two constituents of the globe, by the separation of which its formation was completed. The “seas” include the rivers which flow into the ocean, and the lakes which are as it were “detached fragments” of the ocean, though they are not specially mentioned here. By the divine act of naming the two constituents of the globe, and the divine approval which follows, this work is stamped with permanency; and the second act of the third day, the clothing of the earth with vegetation, is immediately connected with it. At the command of God “ the earth brought forth green ( דּשׁא ), seed yielding herb ( עשׂב( breh ), and fruit-bearing fruit-trees ( פּרי עץ ).” These three classes embrace all the productions of the vegetable kingdom. דּשׁא , lit., the young, tender green, which shoots up after rain and covers the meadows and downs (2 Samuel 23:4; Job 38:27; Joel 2:22; Psalms 23:2), is a generic name for all grasses and cryptogamous plants. עשׂב , with the epithet זרע מזריע , yielding or forming seed, is used as a generic term for all herbaceous plants, corn, vegetables, and other plants by which seed-pods are formed. פרי עץ : not only fruit-trees, but all trees and shrubs, bearing fruit in which there is a seed according to its kind, i.e., fruit with kernels. הארץ על (upon the earth) is not to be joined to “fruit-tree,” as though indicating the superior size of the trees which bear seed above the earth, in distinction from vegetables which propagate their species upon or in the ground; for even the latter bear their seed above the earth. It is appended to תּדשׁא , as a more minute explanation: the earth is to bring forth grass, herb, and trees, upon or above the ground, as an ornament or covering for it. למיגו (after its kind), from מין species, which is not only repeated in Genesis 1:12 in its old form למיגהוּ in the case of the fruit-tree, but is also appended to the herb. It indicates that the herbs and trees sprang out of the earth according to their kinds, and received, together with power to bear seed and fruit, the capacity to propagate and multiply their own kind. In the case of the grass there is no reference either to different kinds, or to the production of seed, inasmuch as in the young green grass neither the one nor the other is apparent to the eye. Moreover, we must not picture the work of creation as consisting of the production of the first tender germs which were gradually developed into herbs, shrubs, and trees; on the contrary, we must regard it as one element in the miracle of creation itself, that at the word of God not only tender grasses, but herbs, shrubs, and trees, sprang out of the earth, each ripe for the formation of blossom and the bearing of seed and fruit, without the necessity of waiting for years before the vegetation created was ready to blossom and bear fruit. Even if the earth was employed as a medium in the creation of the plants, since it was God who caused it to bring them forth, they were not the product of the powers of nature, generatio aequivoca in the ordinary sense of the word, but a work of divine omnipotence, by which the trees came into existence before their seed, and their fruit was produced in full development, without expanding gradually under the influence of sunshine and rain.
The Fourth Day. - After the earth had been clothed with vegetation, and fitted to be the abode of living beings, there were created on the fourth day the sun, moon, and stars, heavenly bodies in which the elementary light was concentrated, in order that its influence upon the earthly globe might be sufficiently modified and regulated for living beings to exist and thrive beneath its rays, in the water, in the air, and upon the dry land. At the creative word of God the bodies of light came into existence in the firmament, as lamps. On יהי , the singular of the predicate before the plural of the subject, in Genesis 1:14; Genesis 5:23; Genesis 9:29, etc., vid., Gesenius, Heb. Gr. §147. מאורת , bodies of light, light-bearers, then lamps. These bodies of light received a threefold appointment: (1) They were “ to divide between the day and the night,” of, according to Genesis 1:18, between the light and the darkness, in other words, to regulate from that time forward the difference, which had existed ever since the creation of light, between the night and the day. (2) They were to be (or serve: והיוּ after an imperative has the force of a command) - ( a) for signs (sc., for the earth), partly as portents of extraordinary events (Matthew 2:2; Luke 21:25) and divine judgments (Joel 2:30; Jeremiah 10:2; Matthew 24:29), partly as showing the different quarters of the heavens, and as prognosticating the changes in the weather; - ( b) for seasons, or for fixed, definite times ( מועדים , from יעד to fix, establish), - not for festal seasons merely, but “to regulate definite points and periods of time, by virtue of their periodical influence upon agriculture, navigation, and other human occupations, as well as upon the course of human, animal, and vegetable life (e.g., the breeding time of animals, and the migrations of birds, Jeremiah 8:7, etc.); - ( c) for days and years, i.e., for the division and calculation of days and years. The grammatical construction will not allow the clause to be rendered as a Hendiadys, viz., “as signs for definite times and for days and years,” or as signs both for the times and also for days and years. (3) They were to serve as lamps upon the earth, i.e., to pour out their light, which is indispensable to the growth and health of every creature. That this, the primary object of the lights, should be mentioned last, is correctly explained by Delitzsch: “From the astrological and chronological utility of the heavenly bodies, the record ascends to their universal utility which arises from the necessity of light for the growth and continuance of everything earthly.” This applies especially to the two great lights which were created by God and placed in the firmament; the greater to rule the day, the lesser to rule the night. “ The great ” and “ the small ” in correlative clauses are to be understood as used comparatively (cf. Gesenius, §119, 1). That the sun and moon were intended, was too obvious to need to be specially mentioned. It might appear strange, however, that these lights should not receive names from God, like the works of the first three days. This cannot be attributed to forgetfulness on the part of the author, as Tuch supposes. As a rule, the names were given by God only to the greater sections into which the universe was divided, and not to individual bodies (either plants or animals). The man and the woman are the only exceptions (Genesis 5:2). The sun and moon are called great, not in comparison with the earth, but in contrast with the stars, according to the amount of light which shines from them upon the earth and determines their rule over the day and night; not so much with reference to the fact, that the stronger light of the sun produces the daylight, and the weaker light of the moon illumines the night, as to the influence which their light exerts by day and night upon all nature, both organic and inorganic-an influence generally admitted, but by no means fully understood. In this respect the sun and moon are the two great lights, the stars small bodies of light; the former exerting great, the latter but little, influence upon the earth and its inhabitants.
This truth, which arises from the relative magnitude of the heavenly bodies, or rather their apparent size as seen from the earth, is not affected by the fact that from the standpoint of natural science many of the stars far surpass both sun and moon in magnitude. Nor does the fact, that in our account, which was written for inhabitants of the earth and for religious purposes, it is only the utility of the sun, moon, and stars to the inhabitants of the earth that is mentioned, preclude the possibility of each by itself, and all combined, fulfilling other purposes in the universe of God. And not only is our record silent, but God Himself made no direct revelation to man on this subject; because astronomy and physical science, generally, neither lead to godliness, nor promise peace and salvation to the soul. Belief in the truth of this account as a divine revelation could only be shaken, if the facts which science has discovered as indisputably true, with regard to the number, size, and movements of the heavenly bodies, were irreconcilable with the biblical account of the creation. But neither the innumerable host nor the immeasurable size of many of the heavenly bodies, nor the almost infinite distance of the fixed stars from our earth and the solar system, warrants any such assumption. Who can set bounds to the divine omnipotence, and determine what and how much it can create in a moment? The objection, that the creation of the innumerable and immeasurably great and distant heavenly bodies in one day, is so disproportioned to the creation of this one little globe in six days, as to be irreconcilable with our notions of divine omnipotence and wisdom, does not affect the Bible, but shows that the account of the creation has been misunderstood. We are not taught here that on one day, viz., the fourth, God created all the heavenly bodies out of nothing, and in a perfect condition; on the contrary, we are told that in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, and on the fourth day that He made the sun, the moon, and the stars (planets, comets, and fixed stars) in the firmament, to be lights for the earth. According to these distinct words, the primary material, not only of the earth, but also of the heaven and the heavenly bodies, was created in the beginning. If, therefore, the heavenly bodies were first made or created on the fourth day, as lights for the earth, in the firmament of heaven; the words can have no other meaning than that their creation was completed on the fourth day, just as the creative formation of our globe was finished on the third; that the creation of the heavenly bodies therefore proceeded side by side, and probably by similar stages, with that of the earth, so that the heaven with its stars was completed on the fourth day. Is this representation of the work of creation, which follows in the simplest way from the word of God, at variance with correct ideas of the omnipotence and wisdom of God? Could not the Almighty create the innumerable host of heaven at the same time as the earthly globe? Or would Omnipotence require more time for the creation of the moon, the planets, and the sun, or of Orion, Sirius, the Pleiades, and other heavenly bodies whose magnitude has not yet been ascertained, than for the creation of the earth itself? Let us beware of measuring the works of Divine Omnipotence by the standard of human power. The fact, that in our account the gradual formation of the heavenly bodies is not described with the same minuteness as that of the earth; but that, after the general statement in Genesis 1:1 as to the creation of the heavens, all that is mentioned is their completion on the fourth day, when for the first time they assumed, or were placed in, such a position with regard to the earth as to influence its development; may be explained on the simple ground that it was the intention of the sacred historian to describe the work of creation from the standpoint of the globe: in other words, as it would have appeared to an observer from the earth, if there had been one in existence at the time. For only from such a standpoint could this work of God be made intelligible to all men, uneducated as well as learned, and the account of it be made subservient to the religious wants of all.
(Note: Most of the objections to the historical character of our account, which have been founded upon the work of the fourth day, rest upon a misconception of the proper point of view from which it should be studied. And, in addition to that, the conjectures of astronomers as to the immeasurable distance of most of the fixed stars, and the time which a ray of light would require to reach the earth, are accepted as indisputable mathematical proof; whereas these approximative estimates of distance rest upon the unsubstantiated supposition, that everything which has been ascertained with regard to the nature and motion of light in our solar system, must be equally true of the light of the fixed stars.)
The Fifth Day. - “ God said: Let the waters swarm with swarms, with living beings, and let birds fly above the earth in the face (the front, i.e., the side turned towards the earth) of the firmament.” ישׁרצוּ and יעופף are imperative. Earlier translators, on the contrary, have rendered the latter as a relative clause, after the πετεινὰ πετόμενα of the lxx, “and with birds that fly;” thus making the birds to spring out of the water, in opposition to Genesis 2:19. Even with regard to the element out of which the water animals were created the text is silent; for the assertion that שׁרץ is to be understood “with a causative colouring” is erroneous, and is not sustained by Exodus 8:3 or Psalms 105:30. The construction with the accusative is common to all verbs of multitude. שׁרץ and שׁרץ , to creep and swarm, is applied, “without regard to size, to those animals which congregate together in great numbers, and move about among one another.” חיּה גפשׁ , anima viva , living soul, animated beings (vid., Genesis 2:7), is in apposition to שׁרץ , “swarms consisting of living beings.” The expression applies not only to fishes, but to all water animals from the greatest to the least, including reptiles, etc. In carrying out His word, God created (Genesis 1:21) the great “ tanninim ,” - lit., the long-stretched, from תּנן , to stretch-whales, crocodiles, and other sea-monsters; and “ all moving living beings with which the waters swarm after their kind, and all ( every) winged fowl after its kind.” That the water animals and birds of every kind were created on the same day, and before the land animals, cannot be explained on the ground assigned by early writers, that there is a similarity between the air and the water, and a consequent correspondence between the two classes of animals. For in the light of natural history the birds are at all events quite as near to the mammalia as to the fishes; and the supposed resemblance between the fins of fishes and the wings of birds, is counterbalanced by the no less striking resemblance between birds and land animals, viz., that both have feet. The real reason is rather this, that the creation proceeds throughout from the lower to the higher; and in this ascending scale the fishes occupy to a great extent a lower place in the animal economy than birds, and both water animals and birds a lower place than land animals, more especially the mammalia. Again, it is not stated that only a single pair was created of each kind; on the contrary, the words, “let the waters swarm with living beings,” seem rather to indicate that the animals were created, not only in a rich variety of genera and species, but in large numbers of individuals. The fact that but one human being was created at first, by no means warrants the conclusion that the animals were created singly also; for the unity of the human race has a very different signification from that of the so-called animal species. - (Genesis 1:22). As animated beings, the water animals and fowls are endowed, through the divine blessing, with the power to be fruitful and multiply. The word of blessing was the actual communication of the capacity to propagate and increase in numbers.
The Sixth Day. - Sea and air are filled with living creatures; and the word of God now goes forth to the earth, to produce living beings after their kind. These are divided into three classes. בּהמה , cattle, from בהם , mutum , brutum esse , generally denotes the larger domesticated quadrupeds (e.g., Genesis 47:18; Exodus 13:12, etc.), but occasionally the larger land animals as a whole. רמשׂ ( the creeping) embraces the smaller land animals, which move either without feet, or with feet that are scarcely perceptible, viz., reptiles, insects, and worms. In Genesis 1:25 they are distinguished from the race of water reptiles by the term האדמה ארץ חיתו (the old form of the construct state, for הארץ חיּת ), the beast of the earth, i.e., the freely roving wild animals.
“ After its kind: ” this refers to all three classes of living creatures, each of which had its peculiar species; consequently in Genesis 1:25, where the word of God is fulfilled, it is repeated with every class. This act of creation, too, like all that precede it, is shown by the divine word “good” to be in accordance with the will of God. But the blessing pronounced is omitted, the author hastening to the account of the creation of man, in which the work of creation culminated. The creation of man does not take place through a word addressed by God to the earth, but as the result of the divine decree, “ We will make man in Our image, after our likeness,” which proclaims at the very outset the distinction and pre-eminence of man above all the other creatures of the earth. The plural “We” was regarded by the fathers and earlier theologians almost unanimously as indicative of the Trinity: modern commentators, on the contrary, regard it either as pluralis majestatis ; or as an address by God to Himself, the subject and object being identical; or as communicative, an address to the spirits or angels who stand around the Deity and constitute His council. The last is Philo's explanation: διαλέγεται ὁ τῶν ὁ͂λων πατὴρ ταῖς ἑαυτο͂υ δυνάεσιν ( δυνάμεις = angels). But although such passages as 1 Kings 22:19., Psalms 89:8, and Dan 10, show that God, as King and Judge of the world, is surrounded by heavenly hosts, who stand around His throne and execute His commands, the last interpretation founders upon this rock: either it assumes without sufficient scriptural authority, and in fact in opposition to such distinct passages as Genesis 2:7, Genesis 2:22; Isaiah 40:13 seq., Genesis 44:24, that the spirits took part in the creation of man; or it reduces the plural to an empty phrase, inasmuch as God is made to summon the angels to cooperate in the creation of man, and then, instead of employing them, is represented as carrying out the work alone. Moreover, this view is irreconcilable with the words “in our image, after our likeness;” since man was created in the image of God alone (Genesis 1:27; Genesis 5:1), and not in the image of either the angels, or God and the angels. A likeness to the angels cannot be inferred from Hebrews 2:7, or from Luke 20:36. Just as little ground is there for regarding the plural here and in other passages (Genesis 3:22; Genesis 11:7; Isaiah 6:8; Isaiah 41:22) as reflective, an appeal to self; since the singular is employed in such cases as these, even where God Himself is preparing for any particular work (cf. Genesis 2:18; Psalms 12:5; Isaiah 33:10). No other explanation is left, therefore, than to regard it as pluralis majestatis , - an interpretation which comprehends in its deepest and most intensive form (God speaking of Himself and with Himself in the plural number, not reverentiae causa, but with reference to the fullness of the divine powers and essences which He possesses) the truth that lies at the foundation of the trinitarian view, viz., that the potencies concentrated in the absolute Divine Being are something more than powers and attributes of God; that they are hypostases , which in the further course of the revelation of God in His kingdom appeared with more and more distinctness as persons of the Divine Being. On the words “ in our image, after our likeness ” modern commentators have correctly observed, that there is no foundation for the distinction drawn by the Greek, and after them by many of the Latin Fathers, between εἰκών ( imago ) and ὁμοίωσις ( similitudo ), the former of which they supposed to represent the physical aspect of the likeness to God, the latter the ethical; but that, on the contrary, the older Lutheran theologians were correct in stating that the two words are synonymous, and are merely combined to add intensity to the thought: “an image which is like Us” ( Luther); since it is no more possible to discover a sharp or well-defined distinction in the ordinary use of the words between צלם and דּמוּת , than between בּ and כּ צלם , from צל , lit., a shadow, hence sketch, outline, differs no more from דּמוּת , likeness, portrait, copy, than the German words Umriss or Abriss (outline or sketch) from Bild or Abbild (likeness, copy). בּ and כּ are also equally interchangeable, as we may see from a comparison of this verse with Genesis 5:1 and Genesis 5:3. (Compare also Leviticus 6:4 with Leviticus 27:12, and for the use of בּ to denote a norm, or sample, Exodus 25:40; Exodus 30:32, Exodus 30:37, etc.) There is more difficulty in deciding in what the likeness to God consisted. Certainly not in the bodily form, the upright position, or commanding aspect of the man, since God has no bodily form, and the man's body was formed from the dust of the ground; nor in the dominion of man over nature, for this is unquestionably ascribed to man simply as the consequence or effluence of his likeness to God. Man is the image of God by virtue of his spiritual nature. of the breath of God by which the being, formed from the dust of the earth, became a living soul.
(Note: “The breath of God became the soul of man; the soul of man therefore is nothing but the breath of God. The rest of the world exists through the word of God; man through His own peculiar breath. This breath is the seal and pledge of our relation to God, of our godlike dignity; whereas the breath breathed into the animals is nothing but the common breath, the life-wind of nature, which is moving everywhere, and only appears in the animal fixed and bound into a certain independence and individuality, so that the animal soul is nothing but a nature-soul individualized into certain, though still material spirituality.” - Ziegler.)
The image of God consists, therefore, in the spiritual personality of man, though not merely in unity of self-consciousness and self-determination, or in the fact that man was created a consciously free Ego; for personality is merely the basis and form of the divine likeness, not its real essence. This consists rather in the fact, that the man endowed with free self-conscious personality possesses, in his spiritual as well as corporeal nature, a creaturely copy of the holiness and blessedness of the divine life. This concrete essence of the divine likeness was shattered by sin; and it is only through Christ, the brightness of the glory of God and the expression of His essence (Hebrews 1:3), that our nature is transformed into the image of God again (Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24).
“ And they ( אדם , a generic term for men) shall have dominion over the fish,” etc. There is something striking in the introduction of the expression “ and over all the earth,” after the different races of animals have been mentioned, especially as the list of races appears to be proceeded with afterwards. If this appearance were actually the fact, it would be impossible to escape the conclusion that the text is faulty, and that חיּת has fallen out; so that the reading should be, “ and over all the wild beasts of the earth,” as the Syriac has it. But as the identity of “every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth ” ( הארץ ) with “every thing that creepeth upon the ground ” ( האדמה ) in Genesis 1:25 is not absolutely certain; on the contrary, the change in expression indicates a difference of meaning; and as the Masoretic text is supported by the oldest critical authorities (lxx, Sam., Onk.), the Syriac rendering must be dismissed as nothing more than a conjecture, and the Masoretic text be understood in the following manner. The author passes on from the cattle to the entire earth, and embraces all the animal creation in the expression, “every moving thing ( כל־הרמשׂ ) that moveth upon the earth,” just as in Genesis 1:28, “every living thing הרמשׂת upon the earth.” According to this, God determined to give to the man about to be created in His likeness the supremacy, not only over the animal world, but over the earth itself; and this agrees with the blessing in Genesis 1:28, where the newly created man is exhorted to replenish the earth and subdue it; whereas, according to the conjecture of the Syriac, the subjugation of the earth by man would be omitted from the divine decree. - Genesis 1:27. In the account of the accomplishment of the divine purpose the words swell into a jubilant song, so that we meet here for the first time with a parallelismus membrorum , the creation of man being celebrated in three parallel clauses. The distinction drawn between אתו (in the image of God created He him) and אתם (as man and woman created He them) must not be overlooked. The word אתם , which indicates that God created the man and woman as two human beings, completely overthrows the idea that man was at first androgynous (cf. Genesis 2:18.). By the blessing in Genesis 1:28, God not only confers upon man the power to multiply and fill the earth, as upon the beasts in Genesis 1:22, but also gives him dominion over the earth and every beast. In conclusion, the food of both man and beast is pointed out in Genesis 1:29, Genesis 1:30, exclusively from the vegetable kingdom. Man is to eat of “ every seed-bearing herb on the face of all the earth, and every tree on which there are fruits containing seed,” consequently of the productions of both field and tree, in other words, of corn and fruit; the animals are to eat of “ every green herb,” i.e., of vegetables or green plants, and grass.
From this it follows, that, according to the creative will of God, men were not to slaughter animals for food, nor were animals to prey upon one another; consequently, that the fact which now prevails universally in nature and the order of the world, the violent and often painful destruction of life, is not a primary law of nature, nor a divine institution founded in the creation itself, but entered the world along with death at the fall of man, and became a necessity of nature through the curse of sin. It was not till after the flood, that men received authority from God to employ the flesh of animals as well as the green herb as food (Genesis 9:3); and the fact that, according to the biblical view, no carnivorous animals existed at the first, may be inferred from the prophetic announcements in Isaiah 11:6-Ruth :; Isaiah 65:25, where the cessation of sin and the complete transformation of the world into the kingdom of God are described as being accompanied by the cessation of slaughter and the eating of flesh, even in the case of the animal kingdom. With this the legends of the heathen world respecting the golden age of the past, and its return at the end of time, also correspond (cf. Gesenius on Isaiah 11:6-Ruth :). It is true that objections have been raised by natural historians to this testimony of Scripture, but without scientific ground. For although at the present time man is fitted by his teeth and alimentary canal for the combination of vegetable and animal food; and although the law of mutual destruction so thoroughly pervades the whole animal kingdom, that not only is the life of one sustained by the death of another, but “as the graminivorous animals check the overgrowth of the vegetable kingdom, so the excessive increase of the former is restricted by the beasts of prey, and of these again by the destructive implements of man;” and although, again, not only beasts of prey, but evident symptoms of disease are met with among the fossil remains of the aboriginal animals: all these facts furnish no proof that the human and animal races were originally constituted for death and destruction, or that disease and slaughter are older than the fall. For, to reply to the last objection first, geology has offered no conclusive evidence of its doctrine, that the fossil remains of beasts of prey and bones with marks of disease belong to a pre-Adamite period, but has merely inferred it from the hypothesis already mentioned of successive periods of creation. Again, as even in the present order of nature the excessive increase of the vegetable kingdom is restrained, not merely by the graminivorous animals, but also by the death of the plants themselves through the exhaustion of their vital powers; so the wisdom of the Creator could easily have set bounds to the excessive increase of the animal world, without requiring the help of huntsmen and beasts of prey, since many animals even now lose their lives by natural means, without being slain by men or eaten by beasts of prey. The teaching of Scripture, that death entered the world through sin, merely proves that the human race was created for eternal life, but by no means necessitates the assumption that the animals were also created for endless existence. As the earth produced them at the creative word of God, the different individuals and generations would also have passed away and returned to the bosom of the earth, without violent destruction by the claws of animals or the hand of man, as soon as they had fulfilled the purpose of their existence. The decay of animals is a law of nature established in the creation itself, and not a consequence of sin, or an effect of the death brought into the world by the sin of man. At the same time, it was so far involved in the effects of the fall, that the natural decay of the different animals was changed into a painful death or violent end. Although in the animal kingdom, as it at present exists, many varieties are so organized that they live exclusively upon the flesh of other animals, which they kill and devour; this by no means necessitates the conclusion, that the carnivorous beasts of prey were created after the fall, or the assumption that they were originally intended to feed upon flesh, and organized accordingly. If, in consequence of the curse pronounced upon the earth after the sin of man, who was appointed head and lord of nature, the whole creation was subjected to vanity and the bondage of corruption (Romans 8:20.); this subjection might have been accompanied by a change in the organization of the animals, though natural science, which is based upon the observation and combination of things empirically discovered, could neither demonstrate the fact nor explain the process. And if natural science cannot boast that in any one of its many branches it has discovered all the phenomena connected with the animal and human organism of the existing world, how could it pretend to determine or limit the changes through which this organism may have passed in the course of thousands of years?
The creation of man and his installation as ruler on the earth brought the creation of all earthly beings to a close (Genesis 1:31). God saw His work, and behold it was all very good; i.e., everything perfect in its kind, so that every creature might reach the goal appointed by the Creator, and accomplish the purpose of its existence. By the application of the term “good” to everything that God made, and the repetition of the word with the emphasis “very” at the close of the whole creation, the existence of anything evil in the creation of God is absolutely denied, and the hypothesis entirely refuted, that the six days' work merely subdued and fettered an ungodly, evil principle, which had already forced its way into it. The sixth day, as being the last, is distinguished above all the rest by the article - השּׁשּׁי יום “ a day, the sixth ” (Gesenius, §111, 2 a).
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Genesis 1". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30