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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit Commentaries

Genesis 1

Verses 1-2


I. THAT this initial section is not history is apparent from the circumstance that the occurrences it describes belong to a period of time which antedates the dawn of history. That it is not science is evinced by the fact that, in some, at least, of its particulars, it refers to a condition of our globe concerning which even modern research has attained to no definite conclusions, while in all of them it claims to be regarded not as uttering the findings of reason, but as declaring the course of nature. That still less can it be myth must be obvious to any who will carefully contrast it with those heathen cosmogonies which it is said to resemble. Only the most absolute devotion to preconceived opinion can render one oblivious of its immense superiority, to them in respect of both simplicity of construction and sublimity of conception. The absurdities, puerilities, and monstrosities that abound in them are conspicuously absent from it. It alone ascends to the idea of a creation ex nihilo, and of a supreme Intelligence by whom that creation is effected. Unlike them, it is destitute of either local coloring or national peculiarity, being no more Jewish than it is Assyrian or Indian, Persian or Egyptian. The inspired original, of which heathen creation-stories are the corrupted traditions, it may be; impartial reason and honest criticism alike forbid its relegation to a common category with them. Since, then, it is neither history, nor science, nor mythology, it must be REVELATION; unless ill-deed it be regarded as either "the recorded intuition of the first man, handed down by tradition," a theory successfully demonstrated by Kurtz to be altogether inadequate, or the inductive speculation of some primitive cosmogonist, a solution of its genesis scarcely less satisfactory. To characterize it as a pious fraud, of post-Mosaic origin, written to uphold the Jewish week cycle and the institution of the Jewish sabbath, is not only to negative its inspiration, but to invalidate the Divine authority of the whole book, to which it serves as an introduction. Happily its inspiration is a much less violent supposition than its invention, and one which is susceptible of almost perfect demonstration. Rightly viewed, its inspiration is involved in the simpler question of its truthfulness. If the Mosaic cosmogony is true, it can only have been given by inspiration; and that it is true may be said to be, with rapidly augmenting emphasis, the verdict of science.

II. As to the precise manner in which it was imparted to its author, THE VISION THEORY of Kurtz, though declared by Kalisch to be "a complicated tissue of conjectures and assumptions utterly destitute of every, the faintest and remotest, Biblical foundation," is perhaps, with certain modifications, the best. Rejecting the idea of a series of creative tableaux without any solid substratum of actual fact, there is clearly nothing in the nature of the case to discredit the hypothesis that the far past may have been disclosed to the writer of this ancient document in the same fashion as we know the remote future was discovered to the later prophets. On the contrary, there is much in Scripture to warrant the assumption that, as Daniel heard "the speaking between the banks of the Ulai," and received dream-revelations of the four great world monarchies, and as John beheld visions and heard voices concerning the things which were shortly to come to pass, so the Jewish lawgiver, or the primitive Nabi to whom this revelation was imparted, may have beheld in sublime panorama the evolution of the light, the uplifting of the atmosphere, the parting of the waters, the placing of the orbs, the filling of the land, sea, and sky with life, while he listened with awestruck silence to the voices of Elohim, as they were uttered at the opening of each creative day. Something like this, Professor Lewis aptly remarks, appears necessary to explain the reception by the prophet's mind of those ineffable ideas of which previously he had no types or conceptions.

III. Though not poetical in the sense of being composed in ornate and figurative language, the present section may be truthfully described as rhythmical in structure, possessing an artificial and orderly arrangement, much obscured by its division in the English version into chapters and verses, which almost justifies its designation as The Primeval Song, or Hymn of Creation, with which may be compared the lyric poem in Psalms 104:1-35; and the post-Exilian ode in Psalms 136:1-26; in both of which a Hebrew bard recites the story of creation.

Genesis 1:1

In the beginning, Bereshith, is neither "from eternity," as in John 1:1; nor "in wisdom" (Chaldee paraphrase), as if parallel with Proverbs 3:19 and Psalms 104:24; nor "by Christ," who, in Colossians 1:18, is denominated ἀρχὴ; but "at the commencement of time." Without indicating when the beginning was, the expression intimates that the beginning was. Exodus 20:11 seems to imply that this was the initiation of the first day's work. The formula, "And God said," with which each day opens, rather points to Exodus 20:3 as its proper terminus a quo, which the beginning absolute may have antedated by an indefinite period. God Elohim (either the highest Being to be feared, from alah, to fear,—Hengstenberg, Delitzsch, Keil, Oehler, &c; or, more probably, the strong and mighty One, from aūl, to be strong—Gesenius, Lange, Tayler Lewis, Macdonald, Murphy, &c.) is the most frequent designation of the Supreme Being in the Old Testament, occurring upwards of 2000 times, and is exclusively employed in the present section. Its plural form is to be explained neither as a remnant of polytheism (Gesenius), nor as indicating a plurality of beings through whom the Deity reveals himself (Baumgarten, Lange), nor as a plural of majesty (Aben Ezra, Kalisch, Alford), like the royal "we" of earthly potentates, a usage which the best Hebraists affirm to have no existence in the Scriptures (Macdonald), nor as a cumulative plural, answering the same purpose as a repetition of the Divine name (Hengstenberg, Dreschler, and others); but either

Genesis 1:2

And the earth. Clearly the earth referred to in the preceding verse, the present terrestrial globe with its atmospheric firmament, and not simply "the land" as opposed to "the skies" (Murphy); certainly not "the heavens" of Genesis 1:1 as well as the earth (Delitzsch); and least of all "a section of the dry land in Central Asia" (Buckland, Pye Smith). It is a sound principle of exegesis that a word shall retain the meaning it at first possesses till either intimation is made by the writer of a change in its significance, or such change is imperatively demanded by the necessities of the context, neither of which is the case here. Was. Not "had become." Without form and void. Literally, wasteness and emptiness, tohu vabohu. The words are employed in Isaiah 34:11 and Jeremiah 4:23 to depict the desolation and desertion of a ruined and depopulated land, and by many have been pressed into service to support the idea of a preceding cosmos, of which the chaotic condition of our planet was the wreck (Murphy, Wordsworth, Bush, &c). Delitzsch argues, on the ground that tohu vabohu implies the ruin of a previous cosmos, that Jeremiah 4:2 does not state specifically that God created the earth in this desolate and waste condition; and that death, which is inconceivable out of connection with sin, was in the world prior to the fall; that Jeremiah 4:2 presupposes the fall of the angels, and adduces in support of his view Job 38:4-7—a notion which Kalisch contemptuously classes among "the aberrations of profound minds," and "the endless reveries" of "far-sighted thinkers." Bush is confident that Isaiah 45:18, in which Jehovah declares that he created not the earth tohu, is conclusive against a primeval chaos. The parallel clause, however, shows that not the original state, but the ultimate design of the globe, was contemplated in Jehovah's language: "He created it not tohu, he formed it to be inhabited;" i.e. the Creator did not intend the earth to be a desolate region, but an inhabited planet. There can scarcely be a doubt, then, that the expression portrays the condition in which the new-created earth was, not innumerable ages, but very shortly, after it was summoned into existence. It was formless and lifeless; a huge, shapeless, objectless, tenantless mass of matter, the gaseous and solid elements commingled, in which neither organized structure, nor animated form, nor even distinctly-traced outline of any kind appeared. And darkness (was) upon the face of the deep. The "deep," from a root signifying to disturb, is frequently applied to the sea (Psalms 42:8), and here probably intimates that the primordial matter of our globe existed in a fluid, or liquid, or molten form. Dawson distinguishes between "the deep" and the "waters," making the latter refer to the liquid condition of the globe, and the former apply to "the atmospheric waters," i.e. the vaporous or aeriform mass mantling the surface of our nascent planet, and containing the materials out of which the atmosphere was afterwards elaborated. As yet the whole was shrouded in the thick folds of Cimmerian gloom, giving not the slightest promise of that fair world of light, order, and life into which it was about to be transformed. Only one spark of hope might have been detected in the circumstance that the Spirit of God moved (literally, brooding) upon the face of the waters. That the Ruach Elohim, or breath of God, was not "a great wind," or "a wind of God," is determined by the non-existence of the air at this particular stage in the earth's development. In accordance with Biblical usage generally, it must be regarded as a designation not simply "of the Divine power, which, like the wind and the breath, cannot be perceived" (Gesenius), but of the Holy Spirit, who is uniformly represented as the source or formative cause of all life and order in the world, whether physical, intellectual, or spiritual (of. Job 26:13; Job 27:3; Psalms 33:6; Psalms 104:29; Psalms 143:10; Isaiah 34:16; Isaiah 61:1; Isaiah 63:11). As it were, the mention of the Ruach Elohim is the first out-blossoming of the latent fullness of the Divine personality, the initial movement in that sublime revelation of the nature of the Godhead, which, advancing slowly, and at the best but indistinctly, throughout Old Testament times, culminated in the clear and ample disclosures of the gospel The special form of this Divine agent's activity is described as that of" brooding'' (merachepheth, from raehaph, to be tremulous, as with love; hence, in Piel, to cherish young—Deuteronomy 32:11) or fluttering over the liquid elements of the shapeless and tenantless globe, communicating to them, doubtless, those formative powers of life and order which were to burst forth into operation in answer to the six words of the six ensuing days. As might have been anticipated, traces of this primeval chaos are to be detected in various heathen cosmogonies, as the following brief extracts will show:—

1. The Chaldean legend, deciphered from the creation tablet discovered in the palace of Assurbanipal, King of Assyria, 2. c. 885, depicts the desolate and void condition of the earth thus:—

"When above were not raised the heavens,

And below on the earth a plant had not grown up;

The abyss also had not broken up their boundaries;

The chaos (or water) tiamat (the sea) was the producing-mother of the whole of them," &c.

2. The Babylonian cosmogony, according to Berosus, commences with a time "in which there existed nothing but darkness" and an abyss of waters, wherein resided most hideous beings, which were produced of a twofold principle … The person who presided over them was a woman named Omoroea, which in the Chaldean language is Thalatth, in Greek Thalassa, the sea, but which might equally be interpreted the moon".

3. The Egyptian account of the origin of the universe, as given by Diodorus Siculus, represents the heaven and earth as blended together, till afterwards the elements began to separate and the air to move. According to another idea, there was a vast abyss enveloped in boundless darkness, with a subtle spirit, intellectual in power, existing in the chaos.

4. The Phoenician cosmogony says, "The first principle of the universe was a dark windy air and an eternal dark chaos. Through the love of the Spirit to its own principles a mixture arose, and a connection called desire, the beginning of all things. From this connection of the Spirit was begotten mot, which, according to some, signifies mud, according to others, a corruption of a watery mixture, but is probably a feminine form of too, water. From this were developed creatures in the shape of an egg, called zophasemin.

5. The Indian mythology is very striking in its resemblance to the Mosaic narrative." The institutes of Menu affirm' that at first all was dark, the world still resting in the purpose of the Eternal, whose first thought created water, and in it the seed of life. This became an egg, from which issued Brahma, the creative power, who divided his own substance and became male and female. The waters were called nara, as being the production of Nara, or the Spirit of God, who, on account of these being his first ayana, or place of motion, is named Naray-na, or moving on the waters. A remarkable hymn from the Rig Veda, translated by Dr. Max Muller, also closely approximates to the Scriptural account:—

"Nor aught nor naught existed; yon bright sky

Was not, nor heaven's broad woof out-stretched above.

The only one breathed breathless by itself;

Other than it there nothing since hath been.

Darkness there was, and all at first was veiled

In gloom profound—an ocean without light."

6. The description of chaos given by Ovid is too appropriate to be overlooked:—

"Ante mare et tellus, et, quod tegit omnia, caelum,

Unus erat toto naturae vultus in orbe,

Quem dixere chaos; rudis indigestaque moles quia corpere in uno

Frigida pugnabant calidis, humentia siccis,

Mollia cum duris, sine Pendere habentia pondus"

('Metamor.,' lib, Isaiah 1:1).

Yet not more remarkable are these indirect confirmations of the truthfulness of the Biblical cosmogony than the direct corroborations it derives from the discoveries of modern science.


Genesis 1:1

The visible universe.


1. One. In age, origin, and nature one, "the heavens and the earth" also constitute one vast system. Cohering physically through the force of gravitation, which, in its ultimate analysis, is simply an expression of the Divine power, they are unified spiritually by Christ, who is the impersonation of the Divine wisdom and love (John 1:3, John 1:9; Colossians 1:15, Colossians 1:17). Hence, as constituting one stupendous system, they are not independent, but mutually influential—physically according to science, spiritually according to Scripture (Luke 15:7, Luke 15:10; Ephesians 3:10; 1 Peter 1:12, &c.). Yet—

2. Not simple, but complex, consisting of two parts—of this mundane sphere, with its diversified contents of men, animals, and plants; and of those shining heavens, with their starry hosts and angelic races. Hence the histories of those two realms may be widely divergent—an inference which astronomy warrants as to their physical developments, and revelation endorses with regard to their spiritual experiences. Hence to argue from the one to the other is to reason hypothetically; as, e.g; to conclude that the planets must be inhabited because the earth is, or to affirm that the Divine treatment of the human and angelic races must of necessity be alike.


1. Vast. Enlarged as were Shemitic notions of the dimensions of God's universe, modern astronomy, by the grandeur and sublimity of its revelations, gives definite shape to what were then only vague and shadowy conceptions. Imagination becomes bewildered in the attempt to comprehend the circle of the universe. Commencing with the sun, the central body of our planetary system, with a diameter about three times our distance from the moon, and passing, on her outward journey, no fewer than seven worlds in addition to our own, most of them immensely larger, she only reaches the outskirts of the first department of creation at a distance of 2,853,800,000 miles. Then, when to this is added that the nearest fixed star is so remote that three years are required for its light to reach the earth; that from some of the more distant nebulae the light has been traveling for millions of years; that the number of the stars is practically infinite; and that each of them may be the center of a system more resplendent than our own,—even then it is but a faint conception which she reaches of the dimensions of the universe (Job 26:14). Yet—

2. It is not infinite. Immeasurable by man, it has already been measured by God (Isaiah 40:12). Undiscoverable by science, its limits are known to its Creator (Acts 15:18). The stars which man is unable to compute God calls by their names (Psalms 147:4; Isaiah 40:26). That the universe must have a boundary is involved in its creation. Two finites cannot make an infinite. Hence the measured earth (Habakkuk 3:6) and the bounded heavens (Job 22:14) cannot compose an illimitable universe. Still less can there be two infinites, one filling all space, and another outside of it. But Elohim is such an infinite (Isaiah 57:15; Jeremiah 23:24); hence the universe is not such another.


1. Old. How old God has not revealed and man has not discovered; geology and astronomy both say millions of years; one hundred millions at least, Sir W. Thomson alleges the sun to have been burning. Genesis gives ample scope to physicists in their researches by saying they may go as far back as "the beginning;" only that beginning they must find. For—

2. The universe is not eternal, though its antiquity be vast. The frequency and certainty with which Scripture enunciates the non-eternity of the material universe is one of its most distinguishing characteristics (Psalms 90:1; Psalms 102:25, Psalms 102:26; Hebrews 1:10). This may also now be regarded as the last word of science: "We have thus reached the beginning as well as the end of the present visible universe, and have come to the conclusion that it began in time, and will in time come to an end".


1. Existent; i.e. standing out as an entity in the infinite realm of space; standing out from eternity in the sphere of time; and also standing out from God, as essentially distinct from his personality. Yet—

2. Not self-existent, not standing there in virtue of its own inherent energy, being neither self-produced nor self-sustained; but standing solely and always in obedience to the creative fiat of Elohim, the almighty and self-existent God.

Genesis 1:2

Chaos an emblem of the unrenewed soul.

I. WITHOUT ORDER: existing in a state of spiritual ruin, and requiting a special process of rearrangement to evolve symmetry and beauty from its confusion (2 Corinthians 5:16).

II. WITHOUT LIFE: being dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1); absolutely "void" in the sense of being untenanted by lofty thoughts, pure emotions, holy volitions, spiritual imaginations, such as are the inmates of sinless and, in great part also, of renewed souls.

III. WITHOUT LIGHT: shrouded in darkness (Ephesians 4:18); walking, perhaps, in the sparks that its own fire has kindled (Isaiah 1:11), but devoid of that true light which is from heaven (John 1:9).

IV. Yet NOT WITHOUT GOD. As the Spirit brooded over chaos, so does God's Holy Spirit hover over fallen souls, waiting, as it were, for the forthcoming and insounding of the commanding word to introduce light, order, life.

Verses 6-8


Genesis 1:6

Day two. The work of this day consisted in the formation of that immense gaseous ocean, called the atmosphere, by which the earth is encircled. And God said, Let there be a firmament (rakiya, an expand, from rakah, to beat out; LXX; στερεì ωμα; Vulgate, firmamentum) in the midst of the waters. To affirm with Knobel, Gesenius, and others that the Hebrews supposed the atmospheric heavens to be a metallic substance (Exodus 24:10), a vault fixed on the water-flood which surrounds the earth (Proverbs 8:27), firm as a molten looking-glass (Job 37:18), borne by the highest mountains, which are therefore called the pillars and foundations of heaven (2 Samuel 22:8), and having doors and windows (Genesis 7:11; Genesis 28:17; Psalms 78:23), is to confound poetical metaphor with literal prose, optical and phenomenal language with strict scientific statement. The Vulgate and English translations of rakiya may convey the idea of solidity, though it is doubtful if στερεì ωμα (LXX.) does not signify that which makes firm as well as that which is made firm (McCaul, Wordsworth, W. Lewis), thus referring to the well-known scientific fact that the atmosphere by its weight upon the waters of the sea keeps them down, and by its pressure against our bodies keeps them up; but it is certain that not solidity, but expansiveness, is the idea represented by rakiya (cf. Scottish, tax, to stretch; Job 37:18; Psalms 104:2; Isaiah 40:22).

"The firmament, expanse of liquid, pure,

Transparent, elemental air, diffused

In circuit to the uttermost convex Of this great round."

(Milton, 'Par. Lost,' Bk. 7.)

And let it divide the waters from the waters. What these waters were, which were designed to be parted by the atmospheric firmament, is explained in the verse which follows.

Genesis 1:7

And God made the firmament. How the present atmosphere was evolved from the chaotic mass of waters the Mosaic narrative does not reveal. The primary intention of that record being not to teach science, but to discover religious truth, the thing of paramount importance to be communicated was that the firmament was of God's construction. This, of course, does not prevent us from believing that the elimination of those gases (twenty-one parts of oxygen and seventy-nine of nitrogen, with a small proportion of carbonic acid gas and aqueous vapor) which compose our atmosphere was not effected by natural means; and how far it may have been assisted by the action of the light upon the condensing mass of the globe is a problem in the solution of which science may legitimately take an interest. And divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. The upper waters are not the material of the stars (Delitzsch, Wordsworth), although Jupiter is of the same density as water, and Saturn only half its density; but the waters floating about in the higher spaces of the air. The under waters are not the lower atmospheric vapors, but the oceanic and terrestrial waters. How the waters are collected in the upper reaches of the atmosphere, Scripture, no less than science, explains to be by means of evaporation (Genesis 2:6; Job 36:27; Job 37:16). These latter passages suggest that the clouds are balanced, suspended, upheld by the buoyancy of the air in exact accordance with scientific principles. And it was so. Six times these words occur in the creation record. Sublimely suggestive of the resistless energy of the Divine word, which speaks, and it is done, commands, and it standeth fast, they likewise remind us of the sweet submissiveness of the creature to the all-wise Creator's will, and, perhaps, are designed as well to intimate the fixed and permanent character of those arrangements to which they are attached.

Genesis 1:8

And God called the firmament heaven. Literally, the heights, shamayim, as in Genesis 1:1. "This," says Principal Dawson, "may be regarded as an intimation that no definite barrier separates our film of atmosphere from the boundless abyss of heaven without;" and how appropriate the designation "heights" is, as applied to the atmosphere, we are reminded by science, which informs us that, after rising to the height of forty-five miles above the earth, it becomes imperceptible, and loses itself in the universal ether with which it is surrounded. And the evening and the morning were the second day. For the literal rendering of this clause see on Genesis 1:5, It is observable that in connection with the second day's work the usual formula, "And God saw that it was good," is omitted. The " και Ì εἰ δεν ὁ θεος ὁ ì τι καλο ì ν" of the Septuagint is unsupported by any ancient version. The conceit of the Rabbis, that an expression of the Divine approbation was omitted because on this day the angels fell, requires no refutation. Aben Ezra accounts for its omission by making the second day's work terminate with verse 10. Lange asks, "Had the prophetic author some anticipation that the blue vault was merely an appearance, whilst the sarans of the Septuagint had no such anticipation, and therefore proceeded to doctor the passage?" The explanation of Calvin, Delitzsch, Macdonald, and Alford, though declared by Kalisch to be of no weight, is probably the correct one, that the work begun on the second day was not properly terminated till the middle of the third, at which place, accordingly, the expression of Divine approbation is introduced (see verse 10).


Genesis 1:7

The atmospheric firmament.


1. From God it received its being (Genesis 1:7). Not here alone, but in other parts, Scripture declares the firmament to be the Divine handiwork (Psalms 19:1; Psalms 104:2). Whence we may note—

2. From God it received its function (Genesis 1:6),—to divide between the upper and the lower waters,—which was—

3. From God it received its name.


1. Indispensable. Without the air, man could not live. His physical being would perish without its oxygen. Without its pressure his bodily structure would fall to pieces.

2. Valuable. The uses of the atmosphere to man as a resident on earth are manifold. It supports animal and vegetable life around him. It conveys, refracts, and decomposes light. It transmits sound. It draws up noxious vapors from the soil, and disperses them by its winds. It assists him in a variety of his mechanical, chemical, commercial, and scientific enterprises.

3. Willing. Great as are its powers of service and its capacities of rebellion when excited with tempest, for the most part it is meek and docile, ever ready to acknowledge man as its master, and to execute his slightest wish.

4. Unwearied. Eve, since it received its appointment from God to minister to the happiness of man is has unrestingly performed that task, and betrays no more signs of weariness to-day than it did at the first.

5. Gratuitous. It gives its services, as its great Creator gives his blessings, without money and without price.

Let us learn—

1. To be thankful for the air we breathe.

2. To admire God's wisdom in the wonderful adjustments of the air.

3. To make the best use we can of that life which the air supports and subserves.

Verses 9-13


Genesis 1:9

Day three. The distribution of land and water and the production of vegetation on this day engaged the formative energy of the word of Elohim. And God said, Let the waters under heaven be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear. To explain the second part of this phenomenon as a consequence of the first, the disclosure of the solid ground by the retirement of the waters from its surface, and not rather vice versa, is to reverse the ordinary processes of nature. Modern analogy suggests that the breaking up of the hitherto universal ocean into seas, lakes, and rivers was effected by the upheaval of the land through the action of subterranean fires, or the subsidence of the earth's crust in consequence of the cooling and shrinking of the interior mass. Psalms 104:7 hints at electric agency in connection with the elevation of the mountains and the sinking of the ocean beds. "At thy rebuke they (the waters) fled: at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away (were scattered). The mountains rose, the valleys sank ( ἀναβαίνουσιν ὄρη καὶ καταβαίνουσι πεδίαLXX.; ascendunt montes, et descendunt campi—Jerome) to the place which thou hadst established for them" (Perowne). The gathering of the waters into one place implies no more than that they were, kern this day forward, to be collected into one vast body, and restrained within bounds in a place by themselves, so as to admit of the exposure of the earth's soil. The "place founded for them" was, of course, the depths and hollows in the earth's crust, into which they were immediately withdrawn, not through direct supernatural agency, but by their own natural gravitation. The configuration of the dry land is not described; but there is reason to believe that the original distribution of land and water was the same, or nearly the same, as it is at present. Physical geographers have observed that the coast lines of the great continents and the mountain ranges generally run from north-east to south-west, and that these lines are in reality parts of great circles, tangent to the polar circle, and at right angles to a line drawn from the sun's center to the moon's, when these bodies are either in conjunction or in opposition. These circles, it has further been remarked, are "the lines on which the thin crust of a cooling globe would be most likely to be ruptured by its internal tidal wave." Hence, though considerably modified by the mighty revolutions through which at successive periods the earth has passed, "these, with certain subordinate lines of fracture, have determined the forms of continents from the beginning". And it was so. Though the separation of the dry land from the waters and the distribution of both were effected by Divine agency, nothing in the Mosaic narrative obliges us to think that these works were instantaneously completed. "There is truly no difficulty in supposing that the formation of the hills kept on through the succeeding creative days" (Lange). "Generally the works of the single creative days consist only in laying foundations; the birth process that is introduced in each extends its efficacy be, yond it" (Delitzsch). "Not how long, but how many times, God created is the thing intended to be set forth" by the creative days (Hoffman). Scripture habitually represents the world in an aspect at once natural and supernatural, speaking of it as natura and creatura, φυì σις and κτιμσις; and although the latter is the view exhibited with greatest prominence, indeed exclusively, in the Mosaic cosmogony, vet the frowner is not thereby denied, Not immediateness, but certainty of execution, is implied in the "it was so" appended to the creative fiat.

Genesis 1:10

And God called the dry land Earth. In opposition to the firmament, which was named" the heights" (shamayim), the dry land was styled "the fiats," "Aretz" (cf. Sansc; dhara; Pehlev; arta; Latin, terra; Gothic, airtha; Scottish, yird; English, earth; rid. Gesenius). Originally applied to the dry ground as distinguished from the seas, as soon as it was understood that the solid earth was continuous beneath the water masses, by an easy extension of meaning it came to signify the whole surface of the globe. And the gathering together of the waters called he Seas. Yamim, from yom, to boil or foam, is applied in Scripture to any large collection of water (cf. Genesis 14:3; Numbers 34:11; Deuteronomy 4:49; Joel 2:20). "The plural form seas shows that the one place consists of several basins" (Murphy). And God saw that it was good. The waters having been permanently withdrawn to the place founded for them by the upheaval of the great mountain ranges, and the elevation of the continental areas, the work thus accomplished is sealed by the Divine approval. The separation of the land and water was good, as a decided advance towards the completion of the cosmos, as the proper termination of the work commenced upon the previous day, as the production of two elements in themselves beautiful, and in separation useful as abodes of life, with which they were in due course to be replenished. "To our view," says Dawson, "that primeval dry land would scarcely have seemed good. It was a world of bare, rocky peaks and verdureless valleys—here active volcanoes, with their heaps of scoriae, and scarcely cooled lava currents—there vast mud-fiats, recently upheaved from the bottom of the waters—nowhere even a blade of grass or a clinging lichen. Yet it was good in the view of its Maker, who could see it in relation to the uses for which he had made it, and as a fit preparatory step to the new wonders he was soon to introduce. "Besides," the first dry land may have presented crags, and peaks, and ravines, and volcanic cones in a more marvelous and perfect manner than any succeeding continents, even as the dry and barren moon now, in this respect, far surpasses the earth".

Genesis 1:11

And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. Three terms are employed to describe the vegetation here summoned into existence. Kalisch regards the first as a generic term, including the second and the third; but they are better understood as distinct classes:—

Genesis 1:12

And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind. It is noticeable that the vegetation of the third day sprang from the soil in the same natural manner in which all subsequent vegetation has done, viz; by growth, which seems to resolve the well-known problem of whether the tree was before the seed, or the seed before the tree, in favor of the latter alternative, although in the order of nature the parent is always before the offspring. In all probability the seed forms were in the soil from the first, only waiting to be vitalized by the Ruach Elohim—The Spirit of God; or they may have been then created. Certainly they were not evolved from the dead matter of the dry land. Scripture, no more than science, is acquainted with Abiogenesis. Believing that "if it were given to her to- look beyond the abyss of geologically recorded time, she might "witness the evolution of living protoplasm from not living matter," science yet honestly affirms "that she sees no reason for believing that the feat (of vitalizing dead matter) has been performed yet"; and Scripture is emphatic that, if it is protoplasm which makes organized beings, the power which manufactures protoplasm is the Ruach Elohim, acting in obedience to the Divine Logos. The time when the earth put forth its verdure, viz; towards the close of the third day, after light, air, earth, and water had been prepared and so adjusted as to minister to the life of plants, was a signal proof of the wisdom of the Creator and of the naturalness of his working.

Genesis 1:13

And the evening and the morning were the third day. For exposition vid. Genesis 1:5. Has modern geological research any trace of this third day's vegetation? The late Hugh Miller identified the long-continued epoch of profuse vegetation, since then unparalleled in rapidity and luxuriance, which deposited the coal-measures of the carboniferous system, with the latter half of this Mosaic day. Dana, Dawson, and others, rejecting this conclusion of the eminent geologist on the ground that the underlying Devonian, Silurian, and Cambrian systems yield abundant fossiliferous remains of aquatic life, infer that the third day's vegetation is to be sought for among the "unresolved schists" of the Azoic period. The metamorphic rocks, it is true, have not as yet yielded any absolutely certain traces of vegetable life; and. indeed, it is an open question, among geologists whether any of the earliest formed metamorphic rocks now remain; but still it is susceptible of almost perfect demonstration that plants preceded animals upon the earth.

1. Among the hypozoic strata of this early period limestone rocks and graphite have been discovered, both of these being of organic origin.

2. In the process of cooling the earth must have been fitted for vegetable life a long time before animals could have existed.

3. As the luxuriant vegetation of the coal period prepared the way for the subsequent introduction of animal life by ridding the atmosphere of carbonic acid, so by the presence of plants must the ocean have been fitted to be the abode of aquatic life.

4. Vegetation, being directly, or mediately, the food of animals, must have had a previous existence. On these grounds Professor Dana concludes that the latter part of the Azoic age of geology corresponds with the latter half of the third creative day. In the Creation Series of Chaldean tablets are two fragments, which George Smith conjectures have a reference to the first part of the third day's work. The one is—

1. When the foundation of the ground of rock (thou didst make)

2. The foundation of the ground thou didst call …

3. Thou didst beautify the heaven …

4. To the face of the heaven …

5. Thou didst give …

The other, which is much more mutilated and obscure, describes the god Sat (or Assur) as saying—

7. Above the sea which is the sea of …

8. In front of the esara (firmament) which I have made.

9. Below the place I strengthen it

10. Let there be made also e-lu (earth?) for the dwelling of [man?]


Genesis 1:9-12

Sea, land, and vegetation, contrasted and compared.

I. CONTRASTED, in respect of—

1. Their constitutions;sea being matter liquid and mobile, land matter solid and dry, vegetation matter organized and living. All God's creatures have their own peculiar natures and characteristic structures. Each one's nature is that which makes it what it is. A change of constitutional characteristics would be equivalent to an alteration of being. The nature and structure of each are assigned it by God. Whence may be gathered—

2. Their situations; which were all different, yet all adapted to their respective natures and uses, and all wisely appointed. The waters were gathered into the earth's hollows, the lands raised above the ocean's surface, the plants spread upon the ground. It is the nature of water to seek the lowest levels; and, collected into ocean, lake, and riverbeds, it is of infinitely greater value than it would have been had it continued to overspread the globe. Similarly, Submerged beneath the waters, neither could the land have been arrayed in verdure, or made a habitation for the beasts, much less a home for man; nor could the plant, have grown without a dry soil to root in, while their beauty would have been concealed and their utility destroyed. And then each one has the place assigned it by God, out of which it cannot move, and against which it need not fret. The place founded for the waters has received them, and God has set a bound to them that they cannot pass. The dry land still maintains its elevation above the sea; and, as if in obedience to the Divine Creator's will, the waves are continually building up terraces and raised beaches in compensation for those they are taking down, Nor does it seem possible to shake off the vegetation from the soil. Scarcely has a square inch of ground been recovered from the waters, than it begins to deck itself in green. Let us learn here

II. COMPARED, in respect of—

1. Their natures, as being God's creatures. Land, sea, and vegetation all owe their existence to his Almighty fiat, and all equally proclaim themselves to be his handiwork. Hence they are all God's property—the earth with its fullness, the sea with its treasures, the plants with their virtues. Consequently man should

2. Their characters, as being obedient to the Divine word. "Gathered be the seas," said the word, and the seas were gathered. "Let the dry land appear," and it appeared. "Let the grass grow." And the grass grew. Let the land, sea, and plants be our teachers. Obedience the first duty of a creature. Nothing can compensate for its want (1 Samuel 15:22). And this obedience must be prompt, complete, and continual, like that of sea, land, and vegetation.

3. Their varieties. The seas were divided into oceans, lakes, rivers; the land into mountains, hills, and valleys the plants into grasses, herbs, and trees. God loves diversity in unity. As in a great house there are vessels of small quantity and vessels of large quantity (Isaiah 22:24), so in the world are the creatures divided into more important and less. In society men are distributed into ranks and classes according to their greatness and ability; in the Church there are "babes" and there are "perfect men" in Christ; there are those possessed of many talents and much grace, and those whose endowments and acquirements are of smaller dimensions.

4. Their qualities, as being all good in their Creator's estimation. The highest excellence of a creature is to be approved by its Maker, rot simply commended by its fellow-creature; to be good in the judgment of God, and not merely in the sight of men.

Verses 14-19


Genesis 1:14, Genesis 1:15

Day four. With this day begins the second half of the creative week, whose works have a striking correspondence with the labors of the first. Having perfected the main structural arrangements of the globe by the elimination from primeval chaos of the four fundamental elements of light, air, water, and land, the formative energy of the Divine word reverts to its initial point of departure, and, in a second series of operations, carries each of these forward to completion—the light by permanently settling it in the sun, the air and water by filling therewith fowl and fish, and the land by making animals and man. The first of these engaged the Divine Artificer's attention on the fourth creative day. And God said, Let there be lights (literally, places where light is, light-holders, Psalms 64:1-10 :16; φωστῆρες, LXX.; luminaria, Vulgate; spoken of lamps and candlesticks, Exodus 25:6 : Numbers 4:9, Numbers 4:16) in the firmament (literally the expanse) of the heaven. יִהִי in the singular with מְאֹרֹת in the plural is explained by Gesenius on the ground that the predicate precedes the subject (vid. 'Gram.,' §147). The scientific accuracy of the language here used to describe the celestial luminaries relieves the Mosaic cosmogony of at least one supposed irreconcilable contradiction, that of representing light as having an existence independent of the sun. Equally does it dispense exegesis from the necessity of accounting for what appears a threefold creation of the heavenly bodies—in the beginning (Genesis 1:1), on the first day (Genesis 1:3), and again on the fourth (Genesis 1:14). The reference in the last of these verses is not to the original creation of the matter of the supra mundane spheres (Gerlach), which was performed in the beginning, nor to the first production of light, which was the specific work of day one; but to the permanent appointment of the former to be the place, or center of radiation, for the latter. The purpose for which this arrangement was designed, so far, at least, as the earth was concerned, was threefold:—

1. To divide the day from the night. Literally, between the day and the night; or, as in Genesis 1:18, to divide the light from the darkness to continue and render permanent the separation and distinction which was effected on the first day.

2. And let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years. The celestial lights were to serve—

3. And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth. Not to introduce light for the first time to this lower world, but to serve as a new and permanent arrangement for the distribution of the light already called into existence. And it was so. Like every other command which Elohim issued, this was in due time followed by complete realization.

Genesis 1:16

And God made two great lights. Perhaps no part of the material universe more irresistibly demands a supreme Intelligence as its only proper origin and cause. "Elegantissima haecce solis, planetarum et cometarum compages non nisi consilio et domino entis intelligentis et potentis oriri potuit". The greater light to rule (literally, to make like; hence to judge; then to rule. Mashal; cf. βασιλευì ω—Gesenius) the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. The greater light is obviously the sun, which is sometimes denominated chammah, "the warm" (Psalms 19:7; Isaiah 30:26); sometimes there, "the glistering" (Job 9:7); but usually shemesh, "the minister (Deuteronomy 4:19; Deuteronomy 33:14). Here it is described by its bulk or magnitude, which is larger than that of the moon, the second of the two luminaries, which is also spoken of as great relatively to the stars, which, though in reality immensely exceeding it in size, yet appear like little bails of light (kokhavim) bestudding the blue canopy of night, and are so depicted—the Biblical narrative being geocentric and phenomenal, not heliocentric or scientific. How the work of this day was effected does not fall within the writer's scope to declare, the precise object of revelation being to teach not astronomy, or any other merely human gnosis, but religion. Accepting, however, the guidance of physical astronomy, we may imagine that the cosmical light of day one, which had up to this point continued either encompassing our globe like a luminous atmosphere, or existing at a distance from it, but in the plane of the earth's orbit, was now, if in the first of these positions, gradually broken up, doubtless through the shrinking of the earth's mass and the consequent lessening of its power Of attraction, and slowly drawn off towards, and finally concentrated, as a photosphere round the sun, which was thereby constituted chief luminary or "light-holder" the system, the moon and planets becoming, as a necessary consequence, "light-holders" in the secondary sense of "light-reflectors." It is interesting to note that some such explanation as this appears to have suggested itself to Willet, who wrote before the birth of Newton, and at a time when solar physics and spectrum analysis were things of the remote future. It m not unlike, says he, "but that this light (of the first day), after the creation of the celestial bodies, might be drawn upward and have his reflection upon the beame of the sunne and of other starres" And again, "Whereas the light created the first day is called or, but the starres (meaning the heavenly bodies) are called meoroth, as of the light, hence it may appear that these lightsome (i.e. luminous) bodies were made the receptacles of that light thou created, which was now increased and united to these lights"; an explanation which, though certainly hypothetical, must be regarded as much more in accordance with the requirements of the sacred text than that which discovers in the making of the lights only a further dissipation of terrestrial mists so as to admit not the light-bringing beams of the celestial bodies alone, but the forms of those shining orbs themselves ('Speaker's Commentary'). He made the stars also. Though the stars are introduced solely because of their relation to the earth as dispensers of light, and no account is taken of their constitution as suns and planets, it is admissible to entertain the opinion that, in their case, as in that of the chief luminary of our tellurian heavens, the process of "sun" making reached its culmination on the fourth day. Perhaps the chief reason for their parenthetical introduction in this place was to guard against the notion that there were any luminaries which were not the work of Elohim, and in particular to prevent the Hebrews, for whom the work was written, from yielding to the heathen practices of star-gazing and star-worship. "The superstition of reading the destiny of man in the stars never took root among the Israelites; astrology is excluded by the first principle of Mosaism—the belief in one all-ruling God, who is subject to no necessity, no fate, no other will. Jeremiah warns the Hebrews not to be afraid of the 'signs of heaven,' before which the heathen tremble in vain terror (Jeremiah 10:2); and Isaiah speaks with taunting irony against the astrologers, star-gazers, and monthly prognosticators, in whose counsel it is folly and wickedness to rely (Isaiah 47:13). But the Israelites had not moral strength enough to resist the example of star-worship in general; they could not keep aloof from an aberration which formed the very focus of the principal Eastern religions; they yielded to that tempting influence, and ignominious incense rose profusely in honor of the sun and the hosts of heaven—Jeremiah 19:13; Ezekiel 8:16; Zephaniah 1:5; Wis. 13:2" (Kalisch).

Genesis 1:17, Genesis 1:18

And God set (literally, gave) them (i.e. sun, moon, and stars) in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and ever the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. An intimation that on this day the astronomical arrangements for the illumination of the globe and the measurement of time were permanently settled. And God saw that it was good. Laplace was inclined to question the Divine verdict with regard at least to the moon, which he thought might have been so placed as to be always full, whereas, at its present distance from the earth, we are sometimes deprived of both its light and the sun's together. But not to dwell upon the fact that to remove the moon four times its present distance from the earth, which it would require to be in order to be always full, would necessitate important changes in the other members of the solar system which might not be for the earth's advantage, the immediate effect of such a disposition of the lunar orb would be to give us a moon of only one sixteenth the size of that which now dispenses its silver beams upon our darkened globe (Job 11:12).

Genesis 1:19

And the evening and the morning were the fourth day. The Scripture references to this day's work are both numerous and instructive. The Hebrew writers supply no information as to the astronomical theories which were prevalent in their time; yet "from other sources we have facts leading to the belief that even in the time of Moses there was not a little practical astronomy in the East, and some good theory. The Chaldeans at a very early period had ascertained the principal circles of the sphere, the position of the poles, and the nature of the apparent motions of the heavens as the results of revolution on an inclined axis. The Egyptian astronomers, whom we know through Thales, 640 B.C; taught the true nature of the moon's light, the sphericity of the earth, and the position of its five zones. Pythagoras, 580 B.C; knew, in addition, the obliquity of the ecliptic, the identity of the evening and morning star, and the earth's revolution round the sun". Modern astronomy, though possessed of highly probable theories as to the formation of the universe, is still unable to speak with absolute precision with regard to this fourth day's work. Yet them are not wanting indirect corroborations of the truth of the Mosaic narrative from both it and geology. According to the sacred writer, the presently existing atmosphere, the distribution of land and water, the succession of day and night, and the regular alternation of the seasons, were established prior to the introduction of animal life upon the earth; and Sir Charles Lyell has demonstrated nothing more successfully than the dominion of "existing causes" from the Eozoic era downwards, and the sufficiency of these causes to account for all the changes which have taken place in the earth's crust. Again, geology attests the prevalence on our globe in prehistoric times of a much more uniform and high temperature than it now possesses, so late as the Miocene era a genial tropical climate having extended up beyond the Arctic circle, and in the earliest eras of the history of the globe, in all probability, the entire sphere bring so favored with excessive heat. Different causes have been suggested for this phenomenon; as, e.g; the greater heat of the cooling globe (the earliest geologists), a different distribution of land and water (Lyell), variations in the eccentricity of the earth's orbit (Herschell and. Croll), changes in the earth's axis (Evans, Drayson, Bell), and the greater intensity of the sun's heat; Sir W Thomson, 'Trans. Geolog. Soc.,' Glasgow, 1877). The Biblical narrative, by distinctly teaching that the sun was perfected on the fourth day, renders it intelligible that his influence on the surface of the earth was then at its greatest, causing tropical climates to prevail and tropical vegetation to abound, both of which have gradually disappeared from the polar regions in consequence of the sun's diminished heat. It remains only to note that the Chaldean Genesis preserves a striking reminiscence of this day's work; the obverse of the fifth creation tablet reading—

1. It was delightful, all that was fixed by the great gods,

2. Stars, their appearance (in figures) of animals he arranged.

3. To fix the year through the observation of their constellations.

4. Twelve months (or signs) of stars in three rows he arranged.

5. From the day when the year commences unto the close.

6. He marked the positions of the wandering stars (planets) to shine in their courses.

12. The god Uru (the moon) he caused to rise out, the night he overshadowed,

13. To fix it also for the light of the night, until the shining of the day.

19. When the god Shamas (the sun) in the horizon of heaven in the east.

20. formed beautifully and

21. to the orbit Shamas was perfected. "It appears that the Chaldean record con talus the review and expression of satisfaction at the head of each tablet, while the Hebrew has it at the close of each act".


Genesis 1:16

The celestial luminaries.

I. Display the DIVINE WISDOM. "The heavens declare the glory of God" (Psalms 19:1). M. Comte believed they declared no other glory than that of Hipparchus, Kepler, Newton, and their successors. Newton agreed with the Hebrew poet (vid. Expos. on Genesis 1:16). The astronomical argument in behalf of theism has always been impressive, if not absolutely conclusive. Certainly, granting the Divine existence, nowhere does God's glory shine out more conspicuously; and perhaps the attribute which most imperiously arrests attention is that of wisdom. This would seem to be the aspect of the Divine glory which a contemplation of the midnight heavens discovered to the writer of Psalms 104:1-35. (vid. Psalms 104:24, which is introduced after a poetic version of the fourth day's work) and of Psalms 136:1-26. (vid. Psalms 136:7 in the same connection; cf. Proverbs 3:19; Proverbs 8:27; Jeremiah 51:15). Many things about the orbs of heaven evince their Creator's wisdom: these specially—

1. Their formation, as explained by the highly credible teachings of physical astronomy.

2. Their varieties—consisting of sun, moon, planets, comets, nebulas.

3. Their motions: in elliptical and parabolic orbits.

4. Their dispositions: the suns, moons, and planets in systems; the stars in constellations, clusters, galaxies.

II. Attest the DIVINE GOODNESS. Displayed chiefly by the threefold purpose the celestial orbs were designed to serve:—

1. To give light upon the earth. Even the stars could scarcely be dispensed with without a sense of loss. Feeble as their light is, owing to their immense distance from the earth, they are yet invaluable to voyagers and travelers (Acts 27:20). Still less could the moon's light, so pale and silvery in its whiteness, be spared. The night without its chaste beams would be shrouded in thick gloom, while with them an air of cheerfulness is imparted to the darkened earth. And, of course, least of all could the sun be wanted.

2. To distinguish day and night. The beneficence of this arrangement appears by reflecting on the inconvenience of either of the other two alternatives, perpetual day and perpetual night. The disadvantages of the latter have been indicated; those of the former are scarcely less numerous. The alternation of darkness—

3. To mark times and seasons. That the different seasons of the year are somehow connected with the celestial bodies is perhaps all that the Mosaic narrative can be made to teach. But we know them to be dependent on the earth's revolution round the sun. And the fact that God has so arranged the earth's relation to the sun as to produce these seasons is a signal proof of the Divine goodness. Another is that God has so fixed and determined their movements as to enable man to measure time by their means. Without the help of sun, moon, and stars chronology would be impossible.

III. Proclaim the DIVINE POWER. More than any other science, astronomy enables us to realize the physical omnipotence of the Deity. Imagination becomes bewildered by the effort to represent the quantity of force required to propel a globe like our earth through the depths of splice at the immense velocity of 65,000 miles an hour. What, then, must be the strength of that arm which, in addition, hurls Jupiter, equal in weight to 1400 earths, along his orbit with a velocity of 29,000 miles an hour? And not Jupiter alone, but suns immensely greater, at rates of motion that transcend conception. Well said Job (Genesis 26:14). Yet, perhaps, the Divine power is as much evinced by the perpetuation of these celestial masses and movements as by their first production. Not only has God made the sidereal firmament, with its stupendous globes and amazing velocities, but he has so established them that since the beginning they have kept on their mystic paths without rebellion and without confusion (Psalms 147:5).

IV. Reflect the DIVINE BEAUTY. Perhaps glory is the better word. The counterpart of glory in the Creator is beauty in the creature. The celestial luminaries were approved as good, doubtless, for their uses, but likewise for themselves, as being of incomparable splendor. "God hath made everything beautiful in his time" (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Nothing that God does make can be otherwise than beautiful; and by their splendor, their order, their unity, they seem to mirror forth the majesty, and purity, and oneness of him to whom they owe their being.


Genesis 1:14-19

The fourth day.


I. GOD PREPARES HEAVEN AND EARTH FOR MAN. Light needed for the vegetable world. But when the higher life is introduced, then there is an order which implies intelligence and active rational existence. The signs are for those that can observe the signs. The seasons, days, and years for the being who consciously divides his life.

II. THE LUMINARIES ARE SAID TO RULE THE DAY AND NIGHT. The concentration of light is the appointed method of its diffusion, and adaptation to the purposes of man's existence. So in the moral world and in the spiritual world. There must be rule, system, diversities of gifts, diversities of operations. Distinctions of glory—of the sun, moon, stars. As the light, so is the rule. Those possessed of much power to enlighten others ought to be rulers by their Divinely-appointed place and work. But all the light which flows from heavenly bodies has first been communicated to them. We give out to others what we receive.

III. This setting out of time reminds us that THE EARTHLY EXISTENCE IS NOT SUPREME, but ruled over until it is itself lifted up into the higher state where day and night and diurnal changes are no more. The life of man is governed here largely by the order of the material universe. But as he grows into the true child of God he rises to a dominion over sun, moon, and stars.

1. Intellectual. By becoming master of many of the secrets of nature.

2. Moral. The consciousness of fellowship with God is a sense of moral superiority to material things. The sanctified will and affections have a sphere of rule wider than the physical universe, outlasting the perishable earth and sky.

3. Spiritual. Man is earthly first, and then heavenly. Human nature is developed under the rule of sun, moon, and stars. In the world where there shall be no more night the consciousness of man will be that of a spirit, not unwitting of the material, but ruling it with angelic freedom and power.—R.

Verses 20-23


Genesis 1:20

Day five.

The waters and the air, separated on the second day, are on this filled with their respective inhabitants. And God said. Nature never makes an onward movement, in the sense of an absolutely new departure, unless under the impulse of the word of Elohim. These words distinctly claim that the creatures of the sea and of the air, even if evolved from material elements, were produced in obedience to Divine command, and not spontaneously generated by the potentia vitae of either land, sea, or sky. Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature. Literally, swarm with swarmers, or crawl with crawlers. The fundamental signification of sharatz is to creep or swarm, and hence to multiply (Gesenius); or, vice versa, to multiply in masses, and hence to swarm or abound (Furst; of. Genesis 8:17; Exodus 1:7; Exodus 8:3). The sheretzim, though including small aquatic creatures that have short or no legs, are obviously "all kinds of living creatures inhabiting either land or water which are oviparous and remarkable for fecundity" (Bush). We may, therefore, understand the creative fiat of the fifth day as summoning first into existence the insect creation (in Le Genesis 11:20-23 defined as flying sheretzim), the fishes of the sea (sheretzim of the waters, Le Genesis 11:9, Genesis 11:10), and the reptiles and saurians of sea and land (sheretzim of the land, Le 11:41, 42). Dawson concludes that "the prolific animals of the fifth day's creation belonged to the three Cuvierian sub-kingdoms of the radiata articulata, mollusca, and to the classes of fish and reptiles among the vertebrata. That hath life. Nephesh chayyah; literally, a living breath. Here the creatures of the sea are distinguished from all previous creations, and in particular from vegetation, as being possessed of a vital principle. This does not, of course, contradict the well-known truth that plants are living organisms. Only the life principle of the animal creation is different from that of the vegetable kingdom. It may be impossible by the most acute microscopic analysis to differentiate the protoplasmic cell of vegetable matter from that of animal organisms, and plants may appear to be possessed of functions that resemble those of animals, yet the two are generically different—vegetable protoplasm never weaving animal texture, and plant fiber never issuing from the loom of animal protoplasm. That which constitutes an animal is the possession of respiratory organs, to which, doubtless. there is a reference in the term nephesh from naphash, to breathe. And fowl that may fly. Literally, let "winged creatures" fly. The fowls include all tribes covered with feathers that can raise themselves hate the air. The English version produces the impression that they were made from the waters, which is contrary to Genesis 2:19. The correct rendering disposes of the difficulty. Above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. Not above the firmament like the clouds (Von Bohlen, Baumgarten), but in the concave vault (Tuch, Delitzsch), or before the surface of the expanse (Kalisch).

Genesis 1:21

And God created (bara, is in Genesis 1:1, to indicate the introduction of an absolutely new thing, viz; the principle of animal life) great whales. Tanninim, from tanan; Greek, τειì νω; Latin, tendo; Sansc; tan, to stretch. These were the first of the two classes into which the sheretzim of the previous verse were divided. The word is used of serpents (Exodus 7:9; Deuteronomy 32:33; Psalms 91:13; Jeremiah 51:34), of the crocodile (Ezekiel 29:3; Ezekiel 32:2), and may therefore here describe "great sea monsters" in general: ταÌ κηì τη ταÌ μεγαì λα (LXX.); "monstrous crawlers that wriggle through the water or scud along the banks (Murphy); whales, crocodiles, and other sea monsters (Delitzsch); gigantic aquatic and amphibious reptiles (Kalisch, Macdonald). And every living creature (nephesh chayyah) which moveth. Literally, the moving, from ramas, to move or creep. This is the second class of sheretzim. The term remes is specially descriptive. of creeping animals (Genesis 9:2), either on land (Genesis 7:14) or in water (Psalms 69:35), though here it clearly signifies aquatic tribes. Which the waters brought forth abundantly after their kind. The generic terms are thus seen to include many distinct orders and species, created each after its kind. And every winged fowl after his kind. Why fowls and fish were created on the same day is rot to be explained by any supposed similarity between the air and the water

. In the case of God blessing inanimate things, it signifies to make them to prosper and be abundant (Exodus 23:25; Job 1:10; Psalms 65:11). The nature of the blessing pronounced upon the animal creation had reference to their propagation and increase. Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. The paronomastic combination, be fruitful and multiply, became a regular formula of blessing (cf. Genesis 24:60; Genesis 35:11; Genesis 48:4; Psalms 128:3, Psalms 128:4). The Divine benediction was not simply a wish; but, adds Calvin, "by the bare intimation of his purpose he effects what men seek by entreaty." Nor was it meaningless that the words of benediction were addressed to the creatures; it was designed to teach that the "force of the Divine word was not meant to be transient, but, being infused into their natures, to take root and constantly bear fruit" (Calvin).

Genesis 1:23

And the evening and the morning were the fifth day. If of the previous creative days geological science has only doubtful traces, of this it bears irrefragable witness. When the first animal life was Introduced upon our globe may be said to be as yet sub judice. Principal Dawson inclines to claim for the gigantic foraminifer, eozoon canadense, of the Laurentian rocks, the honor of being one of the first aquatic creatures that swarmed in terrestrial waters, though Professor Huxley believes that the earliest life is not represented by the oldest known fossils; but, whether then or at some point of time anterior introduced, geology can trace it upwards through the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras with the result that is here so exactly defined. Throughout the long ages that fill the interval between the Azoic period of our earth's history and that which witnessed the appearance of the higher animals she is able to detect an unbroken succession of aquatic life, rising gradually from lower to higher forms—from the trilobites and mollusks of the Cambrian and Silurian systems, up through the ganoid fishes of the Devonian and the amphibians of the Carboniferous to the saurian reptiles of the Permian periods. At this point certain ornithic tracks in the superincumbent Triassic strata reveal the introduction upon the scene of winged creatures, and with this accession to its strength and Volume the stream of life flows on till the higher animals appear. Thus geology confirms the Scripture record y attesting


Genesis 1:20-22

The mystery of life.


1. Not dead matter. Scripture, equally with science, represents life as having a physical basis; but, unlike modern evolutionists, never confounds vital force with the material mechanism in which it resides, and through which it operates. Advanced biologists account for life by molecular arrangement, chemical combination, spontaneous generation, or some such equally insufficient hypothesis. The rigorous necessities of truth and logic, however, compel them to admit that neither the action of material forces nor the ingenuity of man has been able to produce a bioplasmic cell. "The chasm between the not living and the living the present state of knowledge cannot bridge" (Huxley). "Most naturalists of our time have given up the attempt to account for the origin of life by natural causes "(Haeckel). But—

2. The living God. All existing life has proceeded from some antecedent life, is the latest verdict of biological science. Every bioplast has been produced by a previous bioplast: omnis cellula e cellula. Essentially that is the teaching of revelation. The Maker of the first bioplast was God. If the present narrative appears to recognize the doctrine of mediate creation by saying, "Let the waters bring forth," "Let the earth bring forth," it is careful to affirm that, in so far as material forces contributed to the production of life, they were directly impelled thereto, and energized therefore, by the creative word. The hypothesis that matter was originally possessed of, or endowed with, "the potency of life" (Tyndall) is expressly negative by Genesis 1:21, which represents life as the immediate creation of Elohim.

II. ITS NATURE. Scripture vouchsafes no information as to what constitutes the vis viva of organized beings. Beyond characterizing the beings themselves as "living creatures." it leaves the subject wrapped in profoundest mystery. And the veil of that mystery science has not been able to penetrate. The microscope has indeed conclusively shown that living matter, or bioplasm, is that which weaves the endlessly varied structures of animal forms; but as to what that is which imparts to the transparent, structureless, albuminous fluid, called bioplasm, the power of self-multiplication and organization it is silent. "We fail to detect any organization in the bioplasmic mass, but there are movements in it and life" (Huxley). The utmost that science can give as its definition of life is, "that which originates and directs the movements of bioplasm" (cf. 'Beale on Protoplasm;' Cook's 'Lectures on Biology'). Scripture advances a step beyond science, and affirms that life in its last analysis is the power of God (Psalms 104:30; Isaiah 38:16).


1. Abundant. The creatures of the sea were produced in swarms, and probably the birds appeared in flocks. This was—

2. Varied.

3. Progressive. Science, no less than Scripture, attests that in the introduction of life to our globe there has been a regular and continuous gradation from lower to higher forms of organization, and has ventured to propose, as its solution of the problem of vital progression, external conditions, embryonic phases, use and disuse of organs, natural selection, &c. These theories, however, are declared by competent authorities to be insufficient. The solution of Scripture—special creation—has at least the merit of being sufficient, and has not yet been disproved or displaced by modern research.

IV. ITS EXCELLENCE. God saw that it was good—

1. As the handiwork of God. Nothing that God makes can be otherwise than beautiful and good (Ecclesiastes 3:11; 1 Timothy 4:4).

2. As an ornament to nature. Without the vegetation of the third day the world would present an extremely uninteresting and uninviting appearance. Much more would it be devoid of attraction and cheerfulness if the myriads of sentient beings with which it is peopled were absent.

3. As the servant of man. From the first it was prepared with the express intention of being subjected to man's dominion, and doubtless the Creator's approbation had regard to this beneficent design.

V. ITS PERPETUATION. "Of the causes which have led to the origination of living matter," says Huxley, "we know absolutely nothing; but, postulating the existence of living matter endowed with that power of hereditary transmission and with that tendency to vary which is found in all matter, Mr. Darwin has shown good reason for believing that the interaction between living matter and surrounding conditions, which results in the survival of the fittest, is sufficient to account for the gradual evolution of plants and animals from their simplest to their most complex forms" ('Ency. Brit.,' art. Biology). Moses accounts for the origination of living creatures by a Divine creation, and for their continuance by the Divine benediction which made it the law of their being to propagate their kind and to multiply in masses. The remarkable fecundity which by the blessing of Elohim was conferred upon both fish and fowl is graphically portrayed by Milton ('Par. Lost,' 7.387). That from neither the aquatic nor aerial creatures has this power of kind-multiplication departed naturalists attest. "All organized beings have enormous powers of multiplication. Even man, who increases slower than all other animals, could, under the most favorable circumstances, double his numbers every fifteen years, or a hundred-fold in a century. Many animals and plants could increase their numbers from ten to a thousand-fold every year".


1. Adore him who is the Author and Preserver of all life in the creatures.

2. Respect the mystery of life; and what we cannot give let us be careful not to destroy.

3. Appreciate the value of the living creatures.


Genesis 1:20-23

The fifth day.


1. Abundance. Swarming waters, swarming air? preparing for the swarming earth. "Be fruitful, and multiply." The absence of all restraint because as yet the absence of sin. God's law is liberty. The law of life is the primary law. If there be in man's world a contradiction between the multiplication of life and the happiness of life, it is a sign of departure from the original order.

2. Growth, improvement, advancement towards perfection. The fish, fowl, beast, man exist in a scheme of things; the type of animal life is carried up higher. The multiplication is not for its own sake, but for the future. Generations pass away, yet there is an abiding blessing. Death is not real, though seeming, destruction. There is a higher nature which is being matured.

3. Service of the lower for the higher. God blesses the animal races for the sake of man, the interpreter of creation, the voice of its praise. He blesses the lower part of human life for the sake of the soul.

II. LIFE UNDER THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. The immense productiveness of nature would become a curse, not a blessing, unless restrained by its own laws. The swarming seas and air represent at once unbounded activity and universal control by mutual dependence and interaction. So in the moral world. It is not life, existence, alone that betokens the blessing of God, but the disposition of life to fulfill its highest end. We should not desire abundance without the grace which orders its use and controls its enjoyment.—R.

Verses 24-31


Genesis 1:21

Day six. Like day three, this is distinguished by a double creative act, the production of the higher or land animals and the creation of man, of the latter of which it is perhaps permissible to see a mute prediction in the vegetation which closed the first half of the creative week. And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind. In these words the land animals are generically characterized as nephesh chayyah, or animated beings; in the terms which follow they are subdivided into three well-defined species or classes. Cattle. Behemah; literally, the dumb animal, i.e. the larger grass-eating quadrupeds. And creeping thing. Remes; the moving animal, i.e. the smaller animals that move either without feet or with feet that are scarcely perceptible, such as worms, insects, reptiles. Here it is land-creepers that are meant, the remes of the sea having been created on the previous day. And beast of the earth (chayyah of the earth) after his kind. i.e. wild, roving, carnivorous beasts of the forest. In these three comprehensive orders was the earth commanded to produce its occupants; which, however, no more implied that the animals were to be developed from the soil than were the finny tribes generated by the sea. Simply in obedience to the Divine call, and as the product of creative energy, they were to spring from the plastic dust as being essentially earth-born creatures. And it was so. Modern evolutionists believe they can conceive—they have never yet been able to demonstrate—the modus operandi of the supreme Artificer in the execution of this part of the sixth day's work. Revelation has not deemed it needful to do more than simply state that they were—not, by an evolutionary process carried on through inconceivably long periods of time, developed from the creatures of the fifth day, but—produced directly from the soil by the fiat of Elohim.

Genesis 1:25

And God made (asah, not beta, the principle of life being not now introduced for the first time, as in Genesis 1:21) the beast of the earth (the chayyah) after his kind, and cattle (behemah) after their kind, and every thing that creepeth on the earth (literally, every reraes of the ground) after his kind. The order of creation (Genesis 1:25) differs from that in which they were summoned into existence (Genesis 1:24). The latter may be the order of time, the former the order of rank; or there may have been two divisions of the work, in the former of which the herbivora took the lead, and in the latter the carnivora. According to the witness of geology, "the quadrupeds did not all come forth together. Large and powerful herbivore first take the field, with only a few carnivora. These pass away. Other herbivora, with a larger proportion of carnivora, next appear. These also are exterminated, and so with others. Then the carnivora appear in vast numbers and power, and the herbivore also abound. Moreover, these races attain a magnitude and number far surpassing all that now exist. As the mammalian age draws to a close, the ancient carnivora and herbivora of that era all pass away, excepting, it is believed, a few that are useful to man. New creations of smaller size people the groves". And God saw that it was good. As in the third day's work each branch is sealed by the Divine approbation, so in this. The creation of the higher animals completed the earth's preparation for the advent of man; to which, doubtless, the Creator's commendation of his finished work had a special reference. Everything was in readiness for the magnum opus which was to close his creative labor and crown his completed cosmos.

Genesis 1:26

The importance assigned in the Biblical record to the creation of man is indicated by the manner in which it is introduced. And God said, Let us make man. Having already explained the significance of the term Elohim, as suggesting the fullness of the Divine personality, and foreshadowing the doctrine of the Trinity (Genesis 1:1), other interpretations, such as that God takes counsel with the angels (Philo, Aben Ezra, Delitzsch), or with the earth (Maimonides, M. Gerumlius), or with himself (Kalisch), must be set aside in favor of that which detects in the peculiar phraseology an allusion to a sublime concilium among the persons of the Godhead (Calvin, Macdonald, Murphy). The object which this concilium contemplated was the construction of a new creature to be named Adam; descriptive of either his color, from adam, to be red, (Josephus, Gesenius, Tuch, Hupfeld); or his appearance, from a root in Arabic which signifies "to shine," thus making Adam "the brilliant one;" or his compactness, both as an individual and as a race, from another Arabic root which means "to bring or hold together" (Meier, Furst); or his nature as God's image, from dam, likeness (Eichorn, Richers); or, and most probably, his origin, from adamah, the ground (Kimchi, Rosenmüller, Kalisch). In our image, after our likeness. The precise relationship in which the nature of the Adam about to be produced should stand to Elohim was to be that of a tselem (shadow—vid. Psalms 39:7; Greek, σκιαì σκιì ασμα) and a damuth (likeness, from damah, to bring together, to compare—Isaiah 40:8). As nearly as possible the terms are synonymous. If any distinction does exist between them, perhaps tselem (image) denotes the shadow outline of a figure, and damuth (likeness) the correspondence or resemblance of that shadow to the figure. The early Fathers were of opinion that the words were expressive of separate ideas: image, of the body, which by reason of its beauty, intelligent aspect, and erect stature was an adumbration of God; likeness, of the soul, or the intellectual and moral nature. According to Augustine image had reference to the cognitio veritatis; likeness to amor virtutis. Irenaeus, Clement, and Origen saw in the first man nature as originally created, and in the second what that nature might become through personal ethical conflict, or through the influence of grace. Bellarmine thought "imaginem in natura, similitudinem in probitate et justitia sitam esse," and conceived that "Adamum peccando non imaginem Dei, sed similitudinero perdidisse." Havernick suggests that image is the concrete, and likeness the abstract designation of the idea. Modern expositors generally discover no distinction whatever between the words; in this respect following Luther, who renders an image that is like, and Calvin, who denies that any difference exists between the two. As to what in man constituted the imago Dei, the reformed theologians commonly held it to have consisted

In this connection the profound thought of Maimonides, elaborated by Tayler Lewis (vial. Lunge, in loco), should not be overlooked, that tselem is the specific, as opposed to the architectural, form of a thing; that which inwardly makes a thing what it is, as opposed to that external configuration which it actually possesses. It corresponds to the min, or kind, which determines species among animals. It is that which constitutes 'the genus homo. And let them have dominion. The relationship of man to the rest of creation is now defined to be one of rule and supremacy. The employment of the plural is the first indication that not simply an individual was about to be called into existence, but a race, comprising many individuals The range of man's authority is farther specified, and the sphere of his lordship traced by an enumeration in ascending order, from the lowest to the highest, of the subjects placed beneath his sway. His dominion should extend over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air (literally, the heavens), and over the cattle (the behemah), and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing (romeo) that creepeth upon the earth.

Genesis 1:27

So (or and) God created (bara, as in Genesis 1:1, Genesis 1:21, q.v.) man (literally; the Adam referred to in Genesis 1:26) in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. The threefold repetition of the term "created" should be observed as a significant negation of modern evolution theories as to the descent of man, and an emphatic proclamation of his Divine original. The threefold parallelism of the members of this verse is likewise suggestive, as Umbreit, Ewald, and Delitzsch remark, of the jubilation with which the writer contemplates the crowning work of Elohim's creative word. Murphy notices two stages in man's creation, the general fact being stated in the first clause of this triumphal song, and the two particulars—first his relation to his Maker, and second his sexual distinction—in its other members. In the third clause Luther sees an intimation "that the woman also was created by God, and made a partaker of the Divine image, and of dominion over all."

Genesis 1:28

And God blessed them. Not him, as LXX. As on the introduction of animal life the Divine Creator conferred on the creatures his blessing, so when the first pair of human beings are formed they are likewise enriched by their Creator's benediction. And God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply. As in the case of the lower creatures the Divine blessing had respect in the first instance to the propagation and perpetuation of the species, "which blessing," says Calvin, "may be regarded as the source from which the human race has flowed," a thought in full accord with Scripture teaching generally (cf. Psalms 127:3); yet by making one man and one woman an important distinction was drawn between men and beasts as regards the development of their races and the multiplication of their kind (Malachi 2:7). "Carte fraenum viris et mulieribus non laxavit, at in vagus libidines ruerent, absque delectu et pudore; seda sancto castoque conjugio incipiens, descendit ad generationem" (Calvin). And replenish the earth. The new-created race was intended to occupy the earth. How far during the first age of the world this Divine purpose was realized continues matter of debate (Genesis 10:1-32.). After the Flood the confusion of tongues effected a dispersion of the nations over the three great continents of the old world. At the present day man has wandered to the ends of the earth. Yet vast realms lie unexplored, waiting his arrival. This clause may be described as the colonist's charter. And subdue it. The commission thus received was to utilize for his necessities the vast resources of the earth, by agricultural and mining operations, by geographical research, scientific discovery, and mechanical invention. And have dominion over the fish of the sea, &c. i.e. over the inhabitants of all the elements. The Divine intention with regard to his creation was thus minutely fulfilled by his investiture with supremacy over all the other works of the Divine hand. Psalms 8:1-9. is the "lyric echo" of this original sovereignty bestowed on man.

Genesis 1:29

Provision for the sustenance of the newly-appointed monarch and his subjects is next made. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. Of the three classes into which the vegetable creation was divided, grass, herbs, and trees (Genesis 1:12), the two last were assigned to man for food. Macdonald thinks that without this express conveyance man would have been warranted to partake of them for nourishment, warranted by the necessities of his nature. The same reasoning, however, would have entitled him to kill the lower animals if he judged them useful for his support. Murphy with more truth remarks, "Of two things proceeding from the same creative hand, neither has any original or inherent right to interfere in any way with the other. The absolute right to each lies in the Creator alone. The one, it is true, may need the other to support its life, as fruit is needful to man; and, therefore, the just Creator cannot make one creature dependent for subsistence on another without granting to it the use of that other. But this is a matter between Creator and creature, and not by any means between creature and creature." The primitive charter of man's common property in the earth, and all that it contains, is the present section of this ancient document. Among other reasons for the formal conveyance to man of the herbs and trees may be noted a desire to keep him mindful of his dependent condition. Though lord of the creation, he was yet to draw the means of his subsistence from the creature which he ruled. Whether man was a vegetarian prior to the fall is debated. On the one hand it is contended that the original grant does not formally exclude the animals, and, in fact, says nothing about man's relation to the animals (Macdonald); that we cannot positively affirm that man's dominion over the animals did not involve the use of them for food (Murphy); and that as men offered sacrifices from their flocks, it is probable they ate the flesh of the victims (Calvin), On the other hand it is argued that the Divine language cannot be held as importing morn than it really says, arid that Genesis 9:3 distinctly teaches that man's right to the animal creation dates from the time of Noah (Kalisch, Knobel, Alford, &c.). Almost all nations have traditions of a golden age of innocence, when men abstained from killing animals (cf. Ovid, 'Met.,' 1.103-106). Scripture alone anticipates a. time when such shall again be a characteristic of earth's inhabitants (Isaiah 11:7; Isaiah 65:25).

Genesis 1:30

And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat. The first of the three classes of plants, grass, was assigned to the animals for food. From this Delitzsch infers that prior to the introduction of sin the animals were not predaceous. The geological evidence of the existence of death in prehistoric times is, however, too powerful to be resisted; and the Biblical record itself enumerates among the pre-adamic animals the chayyah of the field, which clearly belonged to the carnivora. Perhaps the most that can be safely concluded from the language is "that it indicates merely the general fact that the support of the whole animal kingdom is based on vegetation" (Dawson).

Genesis 1:31

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. Literally, lo! good very! Not simply good, but good exceedingly. It is not man alone that God surveys, but the completed cosmos, with man as its crown and glory, decu, set tutamen. "It is not merely a benediction which he utters, but an expression of admiration, as we may say without any fear of the anthropomorphism—Euge, bone proclare!" (T. Lewis). And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. It seems unnecessary to add that this clay corresponds to the Cainozoic or tertiary era of geology, the Palaeontological remains of which sufficiently attest the truth of the Divine record in asserting that animals were anterior to man in their appearance on the earth, and that man is of comparatively recent origin. The alleged evidence of prehistoric man is too fragmentary and hypothetical to be accepted as conclusive; and yet, so far as the cosmogony of the present chapter is concerned, there is nothing to prevent the belief that man is of a much more remote antiquity than 6000 years. As of the other days, so of this the Chaldean tablets preserve an interesting monument. The saventh in the creation series, of which a fragment was discovered in one of the trenches at Konyunjik, runs:—

1. When the gods in their assembly had created ….

2. Were delightful the strong monsters …

3. They caused to be living creatures …

4. Cattle of the field, beasts of the field, and creeping things of the field ….

5. They fixed for the living creatures …

6. Cattle and creeping thing of the city they fixed ….

And the god Nin-si-ku (the lord of noble face) caused to be two … in which it is not difficult to trace an account of the creation of the animal kingdom, and of the first pair of human beings.


Genesis 1:27

The greatness of man.

I. THE TIME OF HIS APPEARANCE. The latest of God's works, he was produced towards the close of the era that witnessed the introduction upon our globe of the higher animals. Taking either view of the length of the creative day, it may be supposed that in the evening the animals went forth "to roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God," and that in the morning man arose upon the variegated scene, "going forth to his work and to his labor until the evening" (Psalms 104:20-23). In thin there was a special fitness, each being created at the time most appropriate to its nature. Man's works are often mistimed; God's never. Likewise in man's being ushered last upon the scene there was peculiar significance; it was a virtual proclamation of his greatness.

II. THE SOLEMNITY OF HIS MAKING, which was preceded by a Divine consultation: "Let us make man," &c. The language of—

1. Resolution. As if, in the production of the other creatures, the all-wise Artificer had been scarcely conscious of an effort, but must now bestir himself to the performance of his last and greatest work.

2. Forethought. As if his previous makings had been, in comparison with this, of so subordinate importance that they might be executed instantaneously and, as it were, without premeditation, whereas this required intelligent arrangement and wise consideration beforehand.

3. Solicitude. As if the insignificance of these other labors made no special call upon his personal, care and attention, whereas the vastness of the present undertaking demanded the utmost possible watchfulness and caution.

4. Delight. As if the fashioning and beautifying of the globe and its replenishing with sentient beings, unspeakably glorious as these achievements were afforded him no satisfaction in comparison with this which he contemplated, the creating of man in his own image (cf. Proverbs 8:31).

III. THE DIGNITY OF HIS NATURE. "Created after God's image and likeness," suggesting ideas of—

1. Affinity, or kinship. The resplendent universe, with its suns and systems, its aerial canopy and green-mantled ground, its Alps and Himalayas, its oceans, rivers, streams, was only as plastic clay in the hands of a skilful potter. Even the innumerable tribes of living creatures that had been let loose to swarm the deep, to cleave the sky, to roam the earth, were animated by a principle of being that had no closer connection with the Deity than that which effect has with cause; but the life which inspired man was a veritable outcome from the personality of God (Genesis 2:7). Hence man was something higher than a creature. As imago Dei he was God's son (Malachi 2:10; Acts 17:28).

2. Resemblance. A distinct advance upon the previous thought, although implied in it. This likeness or similitude consisted in—

3. Representation. Man was created in God's image that he might be a visible embodiment of the Supreme to surrounding creatures. "The material world, with its objects sublimely great or meanly little, as we judge them; its atoms of dust, its orbs of fire; the rock that stands by the seashore, the water that wears it away; the worm, a birth of yesterday, which we trample underfoot; the sheets of the constellations that gleam perennial overhead; the aspiring palm tree fixed to one spot, and the lions that are sent out free—these incarnate and make visible all of God their natures will admit." Man in his nature was intended as the highest representation of God that was possible short of the incarnation of the Word himself.

IV. THE GRANDEUR OF HIS DOMINION. Man was designed to be God's image in respect of royalty and lordship; and as no one can play the monarch without a kingdom and without subjects, God gave him both an empire and a people.

1. An empire.

2. A people.


Genesis 1:24-31

The sixth day.

We pass from the sea and air to the earth. We are being led to man. Notice—

I. THE PREPARATION IS COMPLETE. Before the earth receives the human being, it brings forth all the other creatures, and God sees that they are good—good in his sight, good for man.

II. THE PURPOSE OF THE WORK IS BENEVOLENT. Cattle, creeping thing, beast of the earth. So man would see them distinguished—the wild from the domestic, the creeping from the roaming, the clean from the unclean. The division itself suggests the immense variety of the Divine provision for man's wants.

III. The incompleteness of the earth when filled with the lower creatures is A TESTIMONY TO THE GREATNESS OF MAN'S SPIRITUAL NATURE; for in comparison with the animal races he is in many respects inferior—in strength, swiftness, and generally in the powers which we call instinct. Yet his appearance is the climax of the earth's creation. "Man is one world, and hath another to attend him." Vegetable, marine, animal life generally, the whole earth filled with what God "saw to be good," waits for the rational and spiritual creature who shall be able to recognize their order and wield dominion over them. Steps and stages in creation lead up to the climax, the "paragon of animals," the god-like creature, made to be king on the earth.—R.

Genesis 1:26, Genesis 1:27

The creation of man.

Take it—

I. As a revelation of God in his relation to man.

II. As a revelation of man to himself.


1. As the Father as well as Creator. As to the rest of creation, it is said, "Let be," and "it was." As to many "Let us make in our image." Closely kin by original nature, man is invited to intercourse with the Divine.

2. The spirituality of God's highest creature is the bond of union and fellowship. The languages "Let us make," suggests the conception of a heavenly council or conference preparatory to the creation of man; and the new description of the being to be created points to the introduction of a new order of life the spiritual life, as above the vegetable and animal.

3. God entrusts dominion and authority to man in the earth. Man holds from the first the position of a vicegerent for God. There is trust, obedience, responsibility, recognition of Divine supremacy, therefore all the essential elements of religion, in the original constitution and appointment of our nature and position among the creatures.

4. The ultimate destiny of man is included in the account of his beginning. He who made him in his image, "one of us," will call him upward to be among the super-earthly beings surrounding the throne of the Highest. The possession of a Divine image is the pledge of eternal approximation to the Divine presence. The Father calls the children about himself.

II. MAN REVEALED TO HIMSELF. "The image and likeness of God." What does that contain? There is the ideal humanity.

1. There is an affinity in the intellectual nature between the human and the Divine. In every rational being, though feeble in amount of mental capacity, there is a sense of eternal necessary truth. On some lines the creature and the Creator think under the same laws of thought, though the distance be immeasurable.

2. Man's by original creation absolutely free from moral taint. He is therefore a fallen being in so far as he is a morally imperfect being. He was made like God in purity, innocence, goodness.

3. The resemblance must be in spirit as well as in intellect and moral nature. Man was made to be the companion of God and angels, therefore there is in his earthly existence a superearthly, spiritual nature which must be ultimately revealed.

4. Place and vocation are assigned to man on earth, and that in immediate connection with his likeness to God. He is ruler here that he may be prepared for higher rule elsewhere. He is put in his rank among God's creatures that he may see himself on the ascent to God. Man belongs to two worlds. He is like God, and yet he is male and female, like the lower animals, lie is blessed as other creatures with productive power to fill the earth, but he is blessed for the sake of his special vocation, to subdue the earth, not for himself, but for God.

5. Here is the end of all our endeavor and desire—to be perfect men by being like God. Let us be thankful that there is a God-man in whom we are able to find our ideal realized. We grow up into him who is our Head. We see Jesus crowned with glory and honor. When all things are put under him, man will see the original perfection of his creation restored.

6. Man is taught that he need not leave the earthly sphere to be like God. There has been a grand preparation of his habitation. From a mere chaotic mass the earth has by progressive stages reached a state when it can become the scene of a great moral experiment for man's instruction. The god-like is to rule over all other creatures, that he may learn the superiority of the spiritual. Heavenly life, communion, society, and all that is included in the fellowship of man with God, may be developed in the condition of earth. Grievous error in early Church and Eastern philosophy—confusion of the material and evil. Purity does not require an immaterial mode of existence. Perfection of man is perfection of his dominion over earthly conditions, matter in subjection to spirit. Abnormal methods, asceticism, self-crucifixion, mere violence to original constitution of man. The "second Adam" overcame the world not by forsaking it, but by being in it, and yet not of it.

7. God's commandments to man are commandments of Fatherly love. "Behold, I have given you," &c. He not only appoints the service, but he provides the sustenance. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God," &c. Here is the union of creative power and providential goodness. We are blessed in an earthly life just as we take it from the hand of God as a trust to be fulfilled for him. And in that obedience and dependence we shall best be able to reach the ideal humanity. The fallen world has been degrading man, physically, morally, spiritually; he has been less and less what God made him to be. But he who has come to restore the kingdom of God has come to uplift man and fill the earth with blessedness.—R.

Genesis 1:31


The first chapter closes with a review of the whole work of the six days. God saw it. Behold, it was very good!

I. The SATISFACTION was in the completion of the earthly order in man, the highest earthly being. For God's good is not, like man's good" a compromise, too often, between the really good and the really evil, but the attainment of the highest—the fulfillment of his Divine idea, the top-stone placed upon the temple with shoutings: "Grace, grace unto it."

II. "The evening and the morning were the sixth day." OUT OF THE NIGHT OF 'THE INFINITE PAST CAME FORTH THE DAWN OF THE INTELLECTUAL AND SPIRITUAL WORLD. And when God saw that, then he said, It is very good. So let us let our faces towards that light of heaven on earth, the day of Divine revelation, Divine intercourse with man, the pure and perfect bliss of an everlasting paradise, in which God and man shall find unbroken rest and joy in one another.—R.

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Genesis 1". The Pulpit Commentary. 1897.