The Story of Creation.#This section, from the Priestly source, functions as an introduction, as ancient stories of the origin of the world (cosmogonies) often did. It introduces the primordial story (2:4–11:26), the stories of the ancestors (11:27–50:26), and indeed the whole Pentateuch. The chapter highlights the goodness of creation and the divine desire that human beings share in that goodness. God brings an orderly universe out of primordial chaos merely by uttering a word. In the literary structure of six days, the creation events in the first three days are related to those in the second three.
The seventh day, on which God rests, the climax of the account, falls outside the six-day structure.Until modern times the first line was always translated, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Several comparable ancient cosmogonies, discovered in recent times, have a “when…then” construction, confirming the translation “when…then” here as well. “When” introduces the pre-creation state and “then” introduces the creative act affecting that state. The traditional translation, “In the beginning,” does not reflect the Hebrew syntax of the clause. 1In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth#Gn 2:1, 4; 2 Mc 7:28; Ps 8:4; 33:6; 89:12; 90:2; Wis 11:17; Sir 16:24; Jer 10:12; Acts 14:15; Col 1:16–17; Heb 1:2–3; 3:4; 11:3; Rev 4:11.—2#This verse is parenthetical, describing in three phases the pre-creation state symbolized by the chaos out of which God brings order: “earth,” hidden beneath the encompassing cosmic waters, could not be seen, and thus had no “form”; there was only darkness; turbulent wind swept over the waters. Commencing with the last-named elements (darkness and water), vv. 3–10 describe the rearrangement of this chaos: light is made (first day) and the water is divided into water above and water below the earth so that the earth appears and is no longer “without outline.” The abyss: the primordial ocean according to the ancient Semitic cosmogony. After God’s creative activity, part of this vast body forms the salt-water seas (vv. 9–10); part of it is the fresh water under the earth (Ps 33:7; Ez 31:4), which wells forth on the earth as springs and fountains (Gn 7:11; 8:2; Prv 3:20). Part of it, “the upper water” (Ps 148:4; Dn 3:60), is held up by the dome of the sky (vv. 6–7), from which rain descends on the earth (Gn 7:11; 2 Kgs 7:2, 19; Ps 104:13). A mighty wind: literally, “spirit or breath [ruah] of God”; cf. Gn 8:1. and the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters—#Jer 4:23.
|1.||light (day)/darkness (night)||=||4.||sun/moon|
|2.||arrangement of water||=||5.||fish + birds from waters|
|3.||a) dry land||=||6.||a) animals|
|b) vegetation||b) human beings: male/female|
3Then God said: Let there be light, and there was light.#2 Cor 4:6. 4God saw that the light was good. God then separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” Evening came, and morning followed—the first day.#In ancient Israel a day was considered to begin at sunset.
6Then God said: Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters, to separate one body of water from the other. 7God made the dome,#The dome: the Hebrew word suggests a gigantic metal dome. It was inserted into the middle of the single body of water to form dry space within which the earth could emerge. The Latin Vulgate translation firmamentum, “means of support (for the upper waters); firmament,” provided the traditional English rendering. and it separated the water below the dome from the water above the dome. And so it happened.#Prv 8:27–28; 2 Pt 3:5. 8God called the dome “sky.” Evening came, and morning followed—the second day.
9Then God said: Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin, so that the dry land may appear. And so it happened: the water under the sky was gathered into its basin, and the dry land appeared.#Jb 38:8; Ps 33:7; Jer 5:22. 10God called the dry land “earth,” and the basin of water he called “sea.” God saw that it was good. 11#Ps 104:14. Then God said: Let the earth bring forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it. And so it happened: 12the earth brought forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree that bears fruit with its seed in it. God saw that it was good. 13Evening came, and morning followed—the third day.
14Then God said: Let there be lights in the dome of the sky, to separate day from night. Let them mark the seasons, the days and the years,#Jb 26:10; Ps 19:2–3; Bar 3:33. 15and serve as lights in the dome of the sky, to illuminate the earth. And so it happened: 16God made the two great lights, the greater one to govern the day, and the lesser one to govern the night, and the stars.#Dt 4:19; Ps 136:7–9; Wis 13:2–4; Jer 31:35. 17God set them in the dome of the sky, to illuminate the earth, 18to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw that it was good. 19Evening came, and morning followed—the fourth day.
20#Jb 12:7–10. Then God said: Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky. 21God created the great sea monsters and all kinds of crawling living creatures with which the water teems, and all kinds of winged birds. God saw that it was good, 22and God blessed them, saying: Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas; and let the birds multiply on the earth.#Gn 8:17. 23Evening came, and morning followed—the fifth day.
24#Sir 16:27–28. Then God said: Let the earth bring forth every kind of living creature: tame animals, crawling things, and every kind of wild animal. And so it happened: 25God made every kind of wild animal, every kind of tame animal, and every kind of thing that crawls on the ground. God saw that it was good. 26#Gn 5:1, 3; 9:6; Ps 8:5–6; Wis 2:23; 10:2; Sir 17:1, 3–4; Mt 19:4; Mk 10:6; Jas 3:7; Eph 4:24; Col 3:10. Then God said: Let us make#Let us make: in the ancient Near East, and sometimes in the Bible, God was imagined as presiding over an assembly of heavenly beings who deliberated and decided about matters on earth (1 Kgs 22:19–22; Is 6:8; Ps 29:1–2; 82; 89:6–7; Jb 1:6; 2:1; 38:7). This scene accounts for the plural form here and in Gn 11:7 (“Let us go down…”). Israel’s God was always considered “Most High” over the heavenly beings. Human beings: Hebrew ’ādām is here the generic term for humankind; in the first five chapters of Genesis it is the proper name Adam only at 4:25 and 5:1–5. In our image, after our likeness: “image” and “likeness” (virtually synonyms) express the worth of human beings who have value in themselves (human blood may not be shed in 9:6 because of this image of God) and in their task, dominion (1:28), which promotes the rule of God over the universe. human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth.
27God created mankind in his image;
in the image of God he created them;
male and female#Male and female: as God provided the plants with seeds (vv. 11, 12) and commanded the animals to be fertile and multiply (v. 22), so God gives sexuality to human beings as their means to continue in existence. he created them.
28God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.#Fill the earth and subdue it: the object of the verb “subdue” may be not the earth as such but earth as the territory each nation must take for itself (chaps. 10–11), just as Israel will later do (see Nm 32:22, 29; Jos 18:1). The two divine commands define the basic tasks of the human race—to continue in existence through generation and to take possession of one’s God-given territory. The dual command would have had special meaning when Israel was in exile and deeply anxious about whether they would continue as a nation and return to their ancient territory. Have dominion: the whole human race is made in the “image” and “likeness” of God and has “dominion.” Comparable literature of the time used these words of kings rather than of human beings in general; human beings were invariably thought of as slaves of the gods created to provide menial service for the divine world. The royal language here does not, however, give human beings unlimited power, for kings in the Bible had limited dominion and were subject to prophetic critique. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth.#Gn 8:17; 9:1; Ps 8:6–9; 115:16; Wis 9:2. 29#According to the Priestly tradition, the human race was originally intended to live on plants and fruits as were the animals (see v. 30), an arrangement that God will later change (9:3) in view of the human inclination to violence. #Gn 9:3; Ps 104:14–15. God also said: See, I give you every seed-bearing plant on all the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food; 30and to all the wild animals, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the earth, I give all the green plants for food. And so it happened. 31God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed—the sixth day.#1 Tm 4:4.
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1#Heb 11:3; Rev 4:11In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2#Ps 104:30; Jer 4:23The earth was formless and void,#Or a waste and emptiness. darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving#Or hovering. over the surface of the water.
3#2Co 4:6; Ps 33:6God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness. 5#Ps 74:16God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.
6#Job 37:18; Jer 51:15Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7#Ps 148:4; Pr 8:28–29So God made the expanse and separated the waters which were under the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse. And it was so. 8#Ge 1:5God called the expanse Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.
9#Jer 5:22; 2Pe 3:5Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. Then God saw that it was good.
11#Heb 6:7Then God said, “Let the earth produce vegetation:#Or grass. plants yielding seed and fruit trees on the earth yielding fruit after their kind with seed in them.” And it was so. 12The earth produced vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind and trees yielding fruit with seed in them after their kind. And God saw that it was good. 13So the evening and the morning were the third day.
14#Isa 40:26; Jer 10:2And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be signs to indicate seasons, and days, and years. 15Let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16#Job 38:7; Ps 8:3God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17Then God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18#Jer 31:35to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. Then God saw that it was good. 19So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
20Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures and let the birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” 21So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters swarmed, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22#Ge 8:17; 1:28Then God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.” 23So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
24#Ge 6:20; 7:14Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, and creeping things, and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25So God made the beasts of the earth according to their kind, and the livestock according to their kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
26#Jas 3:9; Ge 9:6; 1Co 11:7Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the livestock, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27#Mt 19:4; Mk 10:6; Ps 139:14So God created man in His own image;
in the image of God He created him;
male and female He created them.
28#Ge 9:1; 9:7God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
29#Ge 9:3; Ps 104:14–15Then God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is on the face of all the earth and every tree which has fruit yielding seed. It shall be food for you. 30#Ps 147:9; 104:14To every beast of the earth and to every bird of the air and to everything that creeps on the earth which has the breath of life in it, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.
31#1Ti 4:4; Ps 104:24God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
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