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.
Learn More About New American Bible, revised edition
Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc
God made everything
1First of all, a long time ago, God made everything. He made the sky, and he made the earth. He made all the things that are everywhere. 2The earth didn’t have any shape. It didn’t have anything. It was covered with deep water. Everything was dark. It was dark all over the water, but God’s spirit moved around on the top of the water.
Day number 1
3God said, “I want light.” Straight away, light was shining everywhere.#2 Corinthians 4:6 4God looked at it, and he saw that it was good. So God split up the light and the dark. 5He called the light day time, and he called the dark night time.
After that all happened, there was night time and there was morning time. That was day number 1.
Day number 2
6Then God said, “I want something to split the water in half.”#2 Peter 3:5 7So God made the sky to split the water in half. God left some of the water up high, and he left some of it on the ground, and he put the sky in the middle. 8And when God made it, he called it sky.
After that all happened, there was night time and there was morning time. That was day number 2.
Day number 3
9Then God said, “I want all the water that is on the ground to come together to one place, and I want dry ground to come up.” Then the water moved to the places where God wanted it, and the dry ground came up. 10God called the dry ground land, and he called that water sea. God looked at the land and the sea, and he saw that everything was good.
11Then God said, “I want the land to grow all sorts of plants on the earth. I want plants with seeds, and trees with fruit that have seeds inside.” And God made it happen. 12So all sorts of plants grew on the land, plants with seeds, and trees with fruit that have seeds inside. God looked at all those plants, and he saw that everything was good.
13After that all happened, there was night time and there was morning time. That was day number 3.
Day number 4
14Then God said, “I want some lights in the sky. I want the lights to split up the day time from the night time. They will show the time. They will show the season, and the time of the year, and the time of day. 15I will put these lights in the sky to shine on the earth.” So God did that. 16He made 2 big lights. He made one light brighter than the other light. That bright light shines in the day time. We call it the sun. The other light shines in the night time. We call it the moon. And God made the stars too.
17God put all those lights in the sky to shine on the earth. 18One light shines during the day, and another light shines at night. Those lights split the day time from the night time. God looked at those lights, and he saw that everything was good.
19After that all happened, there was night time and there was morning time. That was day number 4.
Day number 5
20Then God said, “I want the water to be full of fish and all sorts of living things. And I want birds that fly around in the sky, above the earth.” 21So God made all the different sorts of things that live and move in the sea. He made the great big sea animals and a lot of other things that live in the sea. And God made all the different sorts of birds too. God looked at all those things, and he saw that everything was good.
22God was good to them, and he said to them, “All of you living things will have lots of young ones, so that the sea will be full of fish, and lots of birds will fly around everywhere.”
23After that all happened, there was night time and there was morning time. That was day number 5.
Day number 6
24Then God said, “I want the land to be full of all different sorts of animals. I want animals that are wild, and animals that are not wild. I want lizards, and insects, and other things that crawl around on the ground.” And God made it happen just like that. 25God made all the different sorts of animals, the animals that are wild and the animals that are not wild. And he made all the different sorts of lizards, and insects, and other things that crawl around on the ground. God looked at all those things, and he saw that everything was good.
26Then God said, “We are going to make people. They will be like us. They will be boss over the fish and everything that lives in the sea, and they will be boss over the birds that fly in the sky, and they will be boss over all the animals that are on the land, the animals that are wild, and the animals that are not wild, and all the lizards, and insects, and other things that crawl around on the ground. People will be boss over all of them.”#1 Corinthians 11:7
27So God made people to be like himself. He made them man and woman.#Matthew 19:4; Mark 10:6
28God was good to them, and he said to them, “You will have lots of kids, and the earth will be full of people. You people will be boss over all the earth. You will be boss over the fish in the sea, and you will be boss over the birds in the sky, and you will be boss over all the animals that live on the land.”#Genesis 5:1-2
29Then God said to them, “Look, I made lots of food plants for you. I made plants that have seeds in them, and trees with fruit on them too. You can eat the seeds from those plants and the fruit from those trees. That bush tucker will be your food. 30And I made green plants too, for all the animals of the earth to eat, and for all the birds of the sky to eat, and for all the lizards, and insects, and other things that crawl around on the ground to eat too. Everything that breathes air can eat those green plants.”
31God looked at everything he made, and he saw that all of it was very good.
After that all happened, there was night time and there was morning time. That was day number 6.
Learn More About Plain English Version
© 2021, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Inc. All rights reserved.