has served as a
battleground between conservative Biblical scholars and skeptics for
There are secular evolutionists who mock what is written here. And then
are theistic evolutionists who do not take these chapters at face value
some claim they do). They evidently prefer to call themselves
creationists (an oxymoron, in my judgment). They try to marry the
evolution with the record of God’s creation as recorded in Genesis
But that is
impossible, for, according to Gen.
God created light
before the sun, and He created the earth before the sun, moon, and
created plant life before the sun could enable photosynthesis. All of
statements fly directly in the face of evolutionary theory.
according to the Biblical record, God created everything in the
universe in six
days, each of which is designated with a sequential number, and each
with an evening and a morning, which explains why Jewish people still
their day at sundown (Gen.
To further dispel
any notion that the creation account was to be taken only as a
metaphor, Moses implanted the seventh day of rest in the Creation
the foundation of the Jewish Sabbath day (Ex.
certainly not to
be taken as a span of eons of time. There Moses reaffirmed that
the cosmos was created in six days as understood from the vantage point
writing in ca. 1400 B.C. Again, this flies in the face of evolutionary
which must assume billions of years, an assumption which lacks coherent
evolutionary creationists label these early chapters as non
Others say that Gen.
is historical, but
then they reinterpret
in such a way as to allow
Biblical scholars have allowed an unproven and discredited secular
origins to influence their interpretation of God’s sacred Word.
takes the position that Gen.
is sober history (that
is the way Moses presented it). WordExplain also takes the position
combined with the genealogies
of Gen. 5;
accurately record a
young earth created by God in six literal days (that is the way Moses
it). WordExplain also takes the position that authentic science
recently created earth that was marred by a universal flood, just as
portrays it. Let us now examine Genesis
initial comments on Genesis 1:1-2:3
the book, Coming
to Grips with
Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth,
wrote chapter six,
“The Genre of Genesis 1:1-2:3: What Means This Text?” In concluding
the end of the chapter (p. 191), He stated the following:
major implications arise from this
study. First, it is not statistically defensible to read Genesis
as poetry. Second,
is narrative, it
should be read as other Hebrew narratives are intended to be read – as
concise report of actual events in time-space history, which also
unmistakable theological message. Third, when this text is read as
there is only one tenable view of its plain sense: these were six
a brief online summary of Boyd’s thesis, see The
Creation Account: New Numbers Tell the Story.)
The Beginning of God’s Creation.
the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” In this simple
words in English, seven in Hebrew), yet incredibly profound opening
of the Bible, several foundational truths appear. “In the beginning”
refers to the
origin of time in regard to the
cosmos; “God” refers to the Powerful One, whose existence is assumed
and needs no proof,
and who is the sole agent; “created” means, in this context, that He
made out of nothing (ex
“the heavens” refers to the fact that God
created space; and “the earth”
denotes that God
created the matter comprising
are some evangelical scholars who
believe that “Verse 1 describes what God did on all six days of
creation (Gen. 1:2-31).
It is a topic sentence
that introduces the whole creation account that follows.” (Thomas
2010 Edition, p. 9, viewed on July 16, 2010. Constable prefers this
also cites, in footnote 22, other scholars who hold this view, namely George
Another way of
stating this view is to assert that Genesis
is a merism, a
figure of speech for totality (Constable,
p. 9). This view is
not preferable for the following reasons:
is merely a topic
sentence, or an introductory merism, then we are left with no specific
statement as to
when the earth came into existence, and this, in the beginning portion
beginning book of the Bible which purports to do that very thing! That
a bizarre and unfortunate omission by the author of Genesis, in my
there are eleven unambiguous topical
statements in the Book of Genesis, and none
of them is worded this way. (These are the toledot
passages, found in Genesis
6:9; 10:1; 11:10, 27; 25:12,19; 36:1, 9; 37:2.
passages are typically translated, “these
are the records of the generations of _______________.”)
does not refer to
God’s specific creation of the earth, then we are left with a most
literary device. Suddenly in Genesis
the author begins
to discuss the condition of the earth that has no specific record of
been created. That, in my view, is unthinkable.
God, in His commandment concerning
the Sabbath Day, clearly stated that He had made both the heavens and
and everything in them in six days (Ex.
It seems evident
from this Divine commentary that Genesis
records God’s actual
creation of two entities, the heavens, and then the earth. So Genesis
is the opening
statement of what occurred on Day One, not merely a topical statement,
merism, the details of which would appear subsequently.
the beginning” refers to the
beginning of the created cosmos. God, of course, is eternal, and had no
beginning. Some evangelicals label the beginning of which John spoke (John
as the “absolute
beginning,” placing it before the beginning of which Moses wrote. But I
valid exegetical reason why Moses and John cannot be referring to the
beginning. After all, both Gen.
discuss the creation
of the world and the entire universe. So the initial beginning the
discusses in those terms is here in Genesis
refers backwards to this event. In any case, it is difficult to use the
term absolute beginning for either
since God and the Word were already there before
the beginning (Gen.
It is best to
understand that the third heaven
the abode of God,
existed before the creation of the cosmos, as did angels,
who apparently witnessed God’s creation of
the earth with great joy (Job
That would imply,
of course, that entities, both created and uncreated, existed and
exist outside the cosmos. That means that the cosmos is not infinite in
to time, space, or matter. It also affirms the existence of a spiritual
universe existing outside of our present material universe, albeit
is the generic word for God. “Its basic
meaning is ‘strong one, mighty leader, supreme Deity.’ The form of the
plural, indicating plentitude (sic) of power and majesty and allowing
NT revelation of the triunity of the Godhead” (Ryrie
note). In Genesis
God, appears a startling 35 times in 34
verses! Clearly, God is the featured subject of this overwhelmingly
created” – The Hebrew
here means that God
created, out of nothing (Latin ex nihilo),
both the earth and the framework in which he situated it. Moses used
the word bara
eight times in
Genesis, and each time it refers to the creative act of God (Gen.
1:1, 21, 27;
2:3, 4; 5:1, 2; 6:7).
We can also observe in these passages that Moses used bara,
to create, and asah,
to make, as synonyms
2:3, 4; 5:1; 6:7).
Hebrew, the verb bara
(create) always has God for its subject and
never mentions the material from which He created” (Boyd,
heavens and the earth” – Some take
this phrase as a merism, a figure of speech for totality (Thomas
p. 11). In this view, Genesis
is merely an
introductory or summary statement of what God did in Genesis
which, it is
assumed, are the actual days of creation. But if that were the case,
no specific statement in this
of the actual creation of the earth. That would be bizarre, considering
this chapter purports to be an explanation of how the world and the
originated. To illustrate how counterintuitive this view is, let me
(p. 10, viewed on
July 26, 2010): “Verse 2 probably describes what we now call the earth
God created it.” What does that even mean? Scripture is its own best
commentary, and Moses clearly stated that “in six days the LORD made
heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them” (Exod.
So it makes more
sense to understand both Genesis
1:1 and 1:2
as the initial part
of day one of creation, the foundational state of that which God would
momentarily upgrade. So Genesis
is a statement of
part of what God created on the first day.
created “the heavens” (hashamayim).
The word heavens (shamayim)
always appears in the plural in the Hebrew
Bible. That is appropriate, not only because of the vastness of the
but because of their plurality. There are three distinct heavens in the
the third being the abode of God (2
The other two
heavens are the heavens in which God placed the sun, moon, and stars (Gen.
and the heavens in
which birds fly (Gen.
(more about this
heaven later.) “The heavens” (hashamayim)
of which Moses wrote in Genesis
are what we today would
call “outer space”, for God had as yet apparently created no atmosphere
earth to support life and in which birds could fly. What was the
the heavens at the end of Genesis
Based on what is
stated in the rest of Genesis
condition of the heavens is that they were the time-space framework in
God placed an aqueous matrix of matter, the earth, and in which He
would later (on
the fourth day) place the sun, moon and stars (Gen.
By the end of Genesis
the only matter
that existed in the heavens was the earth, as yet in its incomplete
state (as Genesis
Most of what we call “outer space” today has nothing in it, at least
visible to the eye. There are enormous voids between stars, galaxies,
galaxy groups. Today, outer space is cold because there is relatively
light (energy) out there. So the fact that one can measure temperature
space when little that is tangible exists out there indicates that something is there – a framework of
darkness and coldness. That would be the condition of the heavens at
the end of
– dark and cold –
and empty – with the lone exception of the earth, which God had just
there. Since there were no stars or planets or light (energy) whatever
initial condition of the heavens was totally empty compared to outer
today, which is actually teeming with light waves both visible and
from distant stars and galaxies. The only exception to this emptiness
been the earth, the second item that God created on day one.
created “the earth” (haarets).
Hebrew word erets
refers either to the whole planet or to a
portion thereof. Consequently it is sometimes translated earth,
The context controls the particular meaning. For example, the term erets
refers to the whole
planet and is translated earth. In Gen.
we are given
additional details about the earth just after God created it – it was
void, dark, and aqueous. Here again, erets
refers to the whole
planet, and it is translated earth.
On the third day, God commanded the dry land (yabbashah)
to appear (Gen.
God named the dry
So here only a
portion of the planet is designated as earth – the dry land. That
terminology is used elsewhere. Reference is made in Gen.
to the land (erets)
of Havilah. The
gold of that land (erets)
is good (Gen.
is made to the land (erets)
of Cush (Gen.
enough to the English reader, Yahweh commanded Abram to depart from his
(lit. “your earth” – erets)
“to the land (lit.
“earth” – erets)
which I will show you” (Gen.
There are Jewish
people today who speak of Eretz Israel – the land or “earth” which
Israel. (See, for example, the reference to the “Eretz Israel lobby” in
summary immediately below the title of the linked article
It is appropriate
to note here that while the creation account (Gen.
is very much Theo-centric
(God-centered) in relation to the Cause
of creation, it is very much Geo-centric (earth-centered) in relation
to the products of creation. This
deduced from the following frequencies of occurrence in Genesis
The noun light (‘owr)
appears six times (Gen.
1:3, 4, 5, 18).
The verb to give light (‘owr)
occurs twice (Gen.
The word light(s) (better, light-bearer(s) (ma’owr)
(lit., “from light”) appears five times (Gen.
1:14, 15, 16).
The word expanse (raqiya’)
appears nine times (Gen.
1:6, 7, 8, 14,
15, 17, 20).
The word shamayim
(usually translated heavens, but
three times as sky)
appears eleven times (Gen.
1:1, 8, 9, 14,
15, 17, 20, 26, 28, 30; 2:1).
But the word earth
is the runaway winner, appearing 21 times (Gen.
1:1, 2, 10, 11,
12, 15, 17, 20, 22, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30; 2:1).
As far as God is
concerned, Earth is very much the center of the universe!
The Preliminary Condition of the
First God Created It.
Day One of creation just after God had created the framework of the
had created the earth in that framework, what was the condition of the
Moses described it this way: “The earth was formless and void,
darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God
was moving over the surface of the waters.”
initial clause of verse 2 begins in Hebrew with a waw disjunctive, not
p. 12). It should
be translated, “Now the earth was…” In other words Gen.
describes in a more
detailed way the initial condition of the earth when God created it in Gen.
number of commentators have suggested that an indefinite time gap
1:1 and 1:2.
This is called the Gap
pp. 11-13). This
theory was held by some early church fathers and some early Jewish
Thomas Chalmers promoted the gap
in 1814 before
Darwin wrote his Origin of Species in 1859 (Constable,
p. 12). The first
edition of the
Scofield Reference Bible
espoused this theory. Many who support evolution have
welcomed the gap
but Hebrew grammar
does not permit it.
formless and void”
– tohu wa bohu is the Hebrew phrase
translated “formless and void” used to describe the earth God had just
Translations of Tohu and Bohu;
see the author’s Word
Study of Tohu wa
Bohu in .html format;
see the author’s Word
Study of Tohu wa
Bohu in .pdf format.)
Unfortunately, some conservative commentators have characterized the
of the earth as described in Gen.
as if it were
chaotic and even evil. I call this the Chaos
Theory of Origins. For example, Allen
Bible Knowledge Commentary,
Vol. 1, p. 28) stated
the following concerning the entire creation account:
the account reveals that God is a redeeming
God. It records how He
brought the cosmos out of chaos,
turned darkness into light, made divisions between them, transformed cursing into blessing, and moved from
what was evil and darkness to what
was holy. This parallels the work of God in Exodus, which records His
Israel by destroying the Egyptian forces of chaos.
The prophets and the apostles saw here a paradigm of God’s redemptive activities. Ultimately He
who caused light to shine out of darkness made His light shine in the
so that they become
new creations (2
paragraphs later, Ross states his interpretation of Genesis
clauses in Gen. 1:2 are apparently circumstantial
to Gen. 1:3, telling the world’s condition when God began to renovate
it. It was
a chaos of wasteness, emptiness,
darkness. Such conditions would not result from God’s creative work (bara);
rather, in the
Bible they are symptomatic of sin
and are coordinate with judgment.
Moreover, God’s Creation by decree begins in Gen. 1:3, and the elements
Gen. 1:2 are corrected in Creation, beginning with light to dispel the
in his discussion
of the “No-Gap Theory” (Notes
pp. 13-15), offers three
versions of this theory. But in every one of them he uses the term
which implies something defective. To his credit, however, Constable
specifically and correctly rejects the notion that "chaos" (tohu wa bohu)
describes an evil condition in Gen.
on Genesis, "Arguments and Responses," #3 on p. 12, viewed
June 11, 2011).
appears to me that Ross, and to a lesser extent Constable, who relies
have imported ideas from elsewhere in Scripture into a context in which
not exist, namely, this Creation account. There is no need to use the
“redeeming,” “chaos,” “cursing,” “sin,” “evil,” or “judgment” with
They are simply out
of context here. Why does Allen employ these terms? The answer can be
several paragraphs later:
is more likely that verse 1 refers to a
relative beginning rather than the absolute beginning (Merrill F.
Commentary on the Old Testament.
2 vols. Chicago:
Moody Press, 1981, 1:5). The chapter would then be accounting for the
of the universe as man knows it, not the beginning of everything, and
Gen. 1:1-2 would provide the introduction to it. The
fall of Satan
and entrance of sin
into God’s original Creation would precede this
Ross apparently believes that God created planet earth at some undated,
unspecified, and unrevealed time in eternity past. Satan
then fell and brought sin into God’s
original universe. Genesis
chaotic, ruined state of the world as it existed because of Satan’s
describes God’s reclamation
of a world ruined by Satan.
What this amounts to is a variation on the Gap
theme (which see for
a brief description and refutation). (At least Ross holds to the days
creation as being literal 24-hour days of Divine activity [p.
But sadly, I suspect his whole exegetical approach is driven by his
assumption that Hebrew scholars must bow before the uniformitarian
geological bias of an ancient earth, not a recent earth.)
theory appears to be driving his exegesis rather than his exegesis
theory. There is no need to describe the earth in Genesis
as being in any way
defective. Words like “chaos” and “evil” and “symptomatic of sin” and
“coordinate with judgment” are foreign concepts he has imported into Genesis
from elsewhere in
Scripture. The Earth of Genesis
was not flawed;
rather it was merely preliminary and incomplete, and it was the way God
intended to create it at that stage during Day One. The
Chaos Theory of Origins simply does not fit the evidence of
the Hebrew text.
what is the best translation of tohu wa
Hebrew and English Lexicon
lists the following meanings of the noun, tohu:
“formlessness, confusion, unreality, emptiness”. Then it
adds, (“primary meaning difficult to seize” …). This is certainly true,
evidenced by the chart, Representative
Translations of the Hebrew Word Tohu.
Most Bible versions employ a variation of the word “form,”
either “formless” or “without form.” The translations
“formless” and “without form” tend to leave the impression that the
earth in Genesis
was shapeless. I do not believe that is what Moses meant. Instead, I
chosen the word “unformed” and I have added four qualifying statements
what “unformed” does not mean and
what it does mean.
does not mean that the
earth on Day One had no shape
didn’t have any shape”). Think it through. Why are the vast majority of
entities in our universe, whether they are stars or planets or moons,
spherical? It is because they all have gravity. If something were both
and shapeless, it must also mean that it was not spherical. If it were
spherical, it must mean that it had insufficient gravity to keep it
So to say that the earth was shapeless is also to say that it had no
insufficient gravity. What then would have prevented the earth from
to disperse throughout the universe? Prov.
which personifies wisdom (see author’s Analysis
p. 1), provides additional
Biblical evidence that the earth on Day One had shape, even spherical
describes the antiquity of wisdom, for it pre-dated even God’s creation
world! In fact, we learn that wisdom was there “when there were no
that is, before Creation! Wisdom was already there when God “inscribed
on the face of the deep (tehom)”
and “when the springs of the deep (tehom)
became fixed” (Prov.
the author’s Uses
of the Hebrew word Tehom,
In the context of Proverbs
this happened at creation. Day One is the most likely candidate for the
which God formed the earth into a sphere (“…and the Spirit of God was
over the surface of the waters” [Gen.
Day is the most likely candidate for the day in which “the springs of
became fixed,” (Prov.
for it was on the Third Day that God “gathered into one place” “the
the heavens” (Gen.
“When He made firm the skies above,” evidently describes God’s activity
Second Day of creation. It was on the Second Day that God “made the
and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters
were above the expanse,” calling it “heaven.” (Gen.
point of this digression into Prov.
that the word tohu
(unformed) does not
mean that the earth on Day One had no shape. To the contrary, it was
does not mean that the
earth on Day One
was chaotic (contra Allen P. Ross,
OT Vol., p.
28; contra Thomas Constable, Notes
2010 Edition, pp. 13-14; contra Bruce K. Waltke, Creation
contra Waltke, An
quoted by Constable,
p. 10, text denoted by footnote 28; contra Warren Wiersbe, The
Bible Exposition Commentary,
Vol. 1, p. 15). God does not create chaos because He is
not chaotic. The world God created on Day One was preliminary, not
was “a waste” (see the NASB marginal reading for formless
in the sense that it was not yet a suitable environment for man or
live in, but it was not a chaos.
does not mean that the
earth as God
originally created it had been disrupted
by some sin, whether by man or by fallen angel (Satan)
(contra Allen P. Ross, The
p. 28. Ross
apparently believes that the fall of Satan
ruined the earth, causing sin to enter the earth, making it
a chaos which had to be transformed and redeemed by God in the six days
creation). The Scriptures are clear that sin entered the earth after the creation week, not before it (Gen.
and that it
was by one man that sin entered the
earth, not by one fallen angel (Rom.
does mean that the earth was not yet in its final form.
The best Biblical
commentary on tohu
to be found in Isaiah
tells us that God did not create the earth to
but rather He created it to be inhabited.
So when Moses wrote in Genesis
earth was tohu,
he merely meant that it was not
yet a suitable environment in which humans and animals might live. It
unsuitable because it was dark and aqueous (Gen.
because there was no atmosphere (Gen.
because there was no dry land (Gen.
there was no vegetation (Gen.
because there were no celestial bodies up in the heavens (Gen.
fact, there is a sense in which it can be said that the words
“pre-functional” are appropriate translations of tohu
of illustration, it could be said that today’s moon is tohu,
although not nearly to the degree
that the earth was in Genesis
moon is tohu
in the sense that it is not
formed to be suitable for human or animal habitation or for the growth
vegetation. This is true because it has no atmosphere and no water, and
of the extreme
about the word bohu?
The term bohu
occurs only three times in Scripture, Gen.
1:2; Isa. 34:11;
Each time it does so, it is in tandem with tohu.
The Jeremiah passage harkens back to the
language of creation in Genesis
Hebrew and English Lexicon
lists a one-word definition for bohu
– “emptiness,” and gives no etymology. C. F.
in his commentary
states that the
etymology for both tohu
has been lost. Four representative
as “void” six times, and as some variation
of “empty” or “emptiness” five times.
the English language today, “empty” is a
synonym for “void.” Since “void” with the meaning of “emptiness” is not
commonly used word, I will use the noun “emptiness” to translate the
in regard to the dual use of tohu
have already noted
always appear in the same connection. In two
of those instances, Genesis
are to be paired
off. In Genesis
Moses declared that
the earth was “formless and void” (tohu
Jeremiah stated that, as he looked at the
earth, it had primeval conditions – the earth was “formless and void,”
heavens “had no light” (Jer.
connected by “and,” as a hendiadys,
“the expression of
an idea by the use of usually two independent words connected
by and (as nice
and warm) instead of the usual combination of independent
word and its
modifier (as nicely warm).” Constable, in his
discussion of Genesis
2010 edition, p.
11) states, “Here we learn that the earth was ‘formless and empty’ (a
meaning unorganized, unproductive, and uninhabited) before God
prepared it for human habitation (cf. Jer.
form a hendiadys, Constable has accurately
captured their combined meaning as it relates especially to Genesis
The earth at this
stage of Day One of the Creation week was unorganized and unproductive (tohu)
and it was uninhabited (bohu).
are saying that the earth, at the time God
first placed it in the heavens He had just made consisted, literally,
“unformedness and emptiness.” Or we could say it was “unformed and
Or we could say it was “unorganized and empty.”
paints a landscape on a canvas. First he paints a swirly background on
upper half of the canvas using blues and grays. Then he takes his brush
splotchy greens and browns on the lower half of the canvas. To the
eye it may appear to be
even chaotic. But the artist knows exactly what he is doing. There is
chaotic whatever in his actions. He is merely painting the sky
the land foreground on the canvas. At a later time appropriate to his
he will begin to fashion trees and grass, animals, and perhaps birds
in his landscape. It would be completely erroneous to describe the
of his painting as being chaotic, evil, or symptomatic of sin. Rather
blue-gray upper canvas and his green-brown lower canvas provide the
foundation for the details to be added later. But at this stage, it
appropriate to describe his picture as being “unformed and unfilled.”
with the earth God had created and placed in the heavens on the first
Day One. The earth was unformed and unfilled. There was nothing
nothing evil, nothing connected with sin, and nothing connected with
just-created Earth was merely unformed and unfilled at this stage. He
soon begin His artful task of forming the earth, and then of filling it!
over the surface
of the deep”
is the absence of light. Those who espouse
or some variation
thereof seize upon darkness as proof of something evil and sinful that
have happened after Genesis
to corrupt the earth
(see, for example, Ross,
p. 28). 1
states that “God is
Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” But to import a later
of darkness into the second verse in the Bible constitutes a deficient hermeneutic.
response to the notion that darkness symbolizes evil is, as Constable
(2010 edition, p.
12, Item 5, viewed July 22, 2010) has stated, “This is true in some
Scripture, but not always (Psa.
evening was part of the days God declared good.” The truth of the
that the word darkness (choshek)
is used only four times in Genesis, and
only in chapter 1 (Gen.
1:2, 4, 5, 18).
There is no trace
of moral evil in any one of these uses. The light that God created (in Gen.
and separated from
the darkness was good (tob).
But the darkness was never called evil.
Rather, God named it. He called the light Day and the darkness Night.
the evening and the morning comprised “Day One” (Gen.
Later, God would
create two great lights, one to govern the day, and the second to
night. These along with the stars, would “give light on the earth,”
day and the night,” and “separate the light from the darkness” (Gen.
Far from being
evil, this darkness, balanced by light, became part of that which God
So much for
darkness being evil in Gen. 1! So the earth that God created on Day
existed in a state of darkness. That darkness was not evil. Nor yet
could it be
labeled good. Rather it was a characteristic that, on Day One,
toward the earth’s being tohu,
unsuitable for human, animal, or even plant
habitation. Darkness would be the first unsuitable characteristic that
would rectify. He would do so, not by eliminating it, but by adding
Ultimately light-bearers (sun, moon and stars) would balance off that
characteristic of darkness which makes it unsuitable for viewing
which makes it a wonderful condition in which animals and man could
themselves in rest. The data in the text, not some imported theory,
must drive exegesis.
darkness was over the surface of the deep”
– On Day One of creation, it was
said that “darkness was over the surface of the deep” (Gen.
The word surface translates the
Hebrew word for faces (panim,
plural of paneh).
“Surface” is an excellent
translation, even though panim
occurs in the plural. Nothing in
particular should be made of that fact, for paneh
always appears in the plural (panim)
in the OT, even when one person’s
face is in view (Gen.
is translated as a reference to Cain’s
countenance).The word deep (tehom)
refers to the waters which evidently covered the entire
surface of the earth when first God created it. Unfortunately, some
commentators give the word deep (tehom)
a sinister connotation in this
passage. For example, Constable
(2010 Notes, p. 10) states, “In the
Old Testament tahom refers to the ocean, which the
regarded as symbolic of chaos and evil that needed overcoming and which
overcame.” Generally speaking, that is an inaccurate characterization
in the Old Testament, and it is driven,
I believe, by the misguided Chaos
Theory of Interpretation
There are, for example, four uses of tehom
in the book of Genesis: Gen. 1:2;
7:11; 8:2; and 49:25.
there is no inherent evil whatever
associated with “the deep.” Quite to the contrary, in fact, “the Spirit
was moving over the surface of the waters.” In Genesis
“the fountains of the great deep
burst open,” not because tehom
was evil, but because the people of
the world were evil, and God was compelled to destroy all but eight of
is an instrument of God for judgment.
The same can be said for Genesis
where “the fountains of the deep and
the floodgates of the sky were closed…” The fact that God had used tehom
to judge evil people does not make tehom,
in and of itself, evil. In Genesis
the last occurrence in Genesis, “the
deep” is part of a blessing from God bestowed by Jacob upon his son
“…blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath.”
conclude that tehom
is morally neutral, and God uses tehom
for judgment and for blessing. What
was the makeup of tehom,
the deep? The text does not tell us.
We know that tehom
consists of water. We are told that in
On the third day, God commanded the
waters to be gathered together into one place, and for the dry land to
Was that which became “dry land” a
solid land mass underneath the surface of the water prior to that? Or
water and soil all mixed together? We cannot know for certain, for this
does not say. All we can know from this text is that prior to Genesis
there was soil underneath that was
not dry, and there was water on the surface. I believe it is safe to
say that tehom,
the deep, as it existed by the end of
the third day of creation (Gen.
was significantly different from
what it is today. Prior to the Flood of Noah’s day, an enormous portion
existed beneath the surface of the
earth, and possibly under great pressure. In Genesis
“the fountains of the great deep (tehom)
burst open”; simultaneously, “the
floodgates of the sky were opened.” The greatest contributors to the
engulfed the entire globe were “the fountains of the great deep.” Once
“fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed” (Gen.
after a period of 150 days (Gen.
the water began to recede from the
Over the next 221 days God
apparently used the same process for uplifting the land masses from the
that He had done in one day at Creation (Ps.
104:6-9 cf. Gen. 1:9-10).
speaks of Creation, there is no reason
to suppose that God did not use the same process to uplift the land
end Noah’s Flood that He had used to form dry land at Creation, only at
slower rate in order to protect the inhabitants of the ark. God raised
masses and mountains upward, and He sank the ocean floors and valleys
After Noah’s Flood, “the fountains of the deep” no longer held the
volume of water that they once had. That volume had been largely
the global sea of today’s Earth. Today we have aquifers underneath the
of the earth, but they evidently contain only a fraction of the volume
that they once did prior to Noah’s Flood. Massive caves such as the Carlsbad
give fragmentary, but powerful
testimony to possible former reservoirs of tehom.
Today, of course, the great bulk of tehom
resides in the ocean depths. Today,
water covers seventy per cent of the earth’s surface. Tehom
continues to provide a massive
influence upon life and climate upon earth.
the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the
are told that the Spirit of God was moving or hovering over the surface
The word Spirit translates ruach,
which can be translated either spirit
or wind or breath, depending on the context. In Genesis
of God is said to have been active in
creating the earth on Day One of creation. In Psalm
it is “By the word of the LORD” that
“the heavens were made, and by the breath (ruach)
of His mouth” that “all their host”
(were created). In Psalm
it is said of Yahweh regarding births
of animal life, “You send forth Your Spirit (ruach),
they are created; and You renew the
face of the ground.” In Isaiah
the Spirit (ruach)
of Yahweh will call specific animals
to haunt the ruins of Bozrah and Edom. So we can definitely observe the
of God active in nature. What role did
exercise in creation on Day One? It is
lexically possible that Moses here (Gen.
meant that a wind from God was
blowing, but then he would have used a word for blowing, such as nashaph
Instead, he used the word rachaph,
to move (Gen.
or tremble (Jer.
Perhaps Moses meant that a wind from
God was moving or hovering or trembling; but in any case the Holy
third person of the Trinity, cannot be excluded from this passage. So
He doing? “We could never believe that this hovering of the Spirit over
face of the waters was idle and purposeless. From all other activities
elsewhere ascribed to the Holy Spirit we conclude that His work in this
must have been anticipatory of the creative work that followed, a kind
impregnation with divine potentialities.” (H. C. Leupold, Exposition
of Genesis, Vol. I,
p. 50). Leupold goes on to say that
Eduard Koenig, in his Kommentar on
Genesis, “feels impelled to interpret this ‘hovering’ as ‘an
vitalized type of vibration.’ We should not be averse to holding that
foundation for all physical laws operative in the world now was laid by
preparatory activity” (Ibid.). .
M. Morris, in his commentary, The
p. 52, agrees. He believes that the
Hebrew word rachaph
carries the idea “of a rapid back and
forth motion.” He goes on to state the following:
modern scientific terminology, the best translation would
probably be “vibrated.” If the universe is to be energized, there must
Energizer. If it is to be set in motion, there must be a Prime Mover.
is significant that the transmission of energy in the
operations of the cosmos is in the form of waves – light waves, heat
sound waves, and so forth. In fact (except for the nuclear forces which
involved in the structure of matter itself), there are only two
types of forces that operate on matter – the gravitational forces and
forces of the electromagnetic spectrum.
All are associated with “fields of activity
and with transmission by
are typically rapid back and forth movements and they
are normally produced by the vibratory motion of a wave generator of
Energy cannot create itself. It is most appropriate that the first
of energy to the universe is described as the “vibrating” movement of
Spirit of God Himself.
cannot know for certain what God’s
Spirit was doing when He was moving over the surface of the waters (Gen.
But perhaps we are given a clue in Psalm
Perhaps it was then that “He
established the earth upon its foundations, so that it will not totter
and ever” (Ps.
Perhaps it was then that He was
forming mountain peaks, broad plains, and canyons beneath the surface
so that on the Third Day, God could
lift up the land masses and peaks, and sink down the ocean canyons (Gen.
This would have formed the
pre-Deluge continent(s) and global sea. Peter accurately recorded “that
word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by
God said,” Gen.
the exception of Day One (in my
view), these words mark the beginning of each of the six days of
1:3, 6, 9, 14, 20, 24).
For this reason, many evangelical
writers have insisted that Genesis
rather than Genesis
marks the beginning of Day One of
creation (e.g. Allen P. Ross, Genesis, (see his comments on Gen. 1:3-5),
Vol. I, The
Bible Knowledge Commentary
(viewed Aug. 31, 2010); Thomas Constable, Dr.
Constable’s Notes on Genesis,
p. 15 (viewed Aug. 22, 2010). (Constable has labeled Gen.
as “The six days of creation,” and he
has labeled Gen.
as “The first day.” In fairness, he does
state that “Gen. 1:1 may be part of the first day of creation,” but he
labeled it that way.)
of the phrases, “Then God said” (vayomer
is mildly problematic for
the exegete defending the view that Genesis
as well as Gen. 1:3-5,
describes what happened
on Day One of creation. A closer examination of the actual text,
reveals that the phraseology used is far from formulaic in Genesis
In fact, as we shall see, it is easy to defend the notion that there is
not a uniform formula.
table illustrates the variety of uses of the Hebrew words God (Elohim)
and said (amar)
1:1 – 2:3.
In the table below, green
represents as formulaic (column 4) the
Hebrew phrase “then said God” using the proper words in the proper
(column 2) at the start of a given
day (column 3), and as expressing a command of creation (column 5).
non-formulaic (column 4) words out of order or using a different verb
omitting a word (column 2) and as expressing something other than a
creation (column 5). Finally, magenta
represents as non-formulaic the placement
(column 4) of phrases after
the start of a given day (column 3).
the start of day one
of the second day
of the third day
of Waters and Dry Land
the start of the third day
of the fourth day
of the fifth day
of Fish and Fowl
blessed them – God – saying
the start of the fifth day
of Blessing issuing in a Divine Command of Productivity to Fish and Fowl
of the sixth day
of Land Animals
the start of the sixth day
Discussion of Creation
of Man (followed by Creation)
blessed them - God – and said to them - God
the start of the sixth day
of Blessing issuing in a Divine Command of Human Productivity and Rule
the start of the sixth day
Speech of Provision and Instruction
blessed - God
with reference to the seventh day
of Divine Blessing of
the Seventh Day
the table above, we give the reference in Genesis (column 1),
duplicate the Hebrew word order (column 2),
indicate the location in each day when God (Elohim)
something (column 3), and
categorize the nature of that conversation (column
5). In column 4 we have
attempted to identify if there is a repeated
in what God says and (b)
in the placement of His communication in
regard to the start of the day. What we observe is that the text is not
as formulaic as some have made it out to be. Let us note the specifics.
respect to column 2,
we find eleven uses
in close proximity. Nine of them are
identical with regard to vocabulary and word order. The two that break
pattern both have to do with God’s blessing. In Gen. 1:22
God blessed the fish
and fowl He had created at the beginning of the Fifth Day, instructing
be fruitful and multiply; in Gen. 1:28
He blessed the humans
whom He had created after the start of the Sixth Day, instructing them
fruitful and multiply. In Gen. 2:3,
on the Seventh Day,
the pattern breaks down altogether. Though the word God (Elohim)
used, the word for
is not used at all. However, just as in the
two previous instances of disjuncture, God does indeed bless, but what
is not quoted. This time He does not bless physical entities He has
but He blesses a unit of measurement of time He has instituted, the
respect to column 3,
which is really the
main point of this table, a startling departure
from formula exists with regard to the words Elohim
There are five instances of uniformity
maintaining the formula of God speaking as inaugurating a new day.
Thus, God (Elohim)
the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Days. (I believe I am
excluding Day One from this category (a) on the basis of a proper
in context of the vocabulary used on Day One (Gen.
and (b) on the
basis of Yahweh’s having explicitly stated that He had created the
the earth and the sea and everything that exists in them in the space
That being the
must necessarily describe
that which occurred on Day One. There is no other feasible option.) But
there are five instances of uniformity,
we find that there are at least six instances of non-uniformity!
Let me list them.
the start of Day One (Gen.
into existence after
the start of the Third Day (Gen.
verbalizing blessing upon fish and fowl after
the start of the Fifth Day (Gen.
The precise words
are as follows: “And blessed them, God, saying, ‘Be fruitful and
The verbal form saying is lemor,
a Qal infinitive construct of amar.
Heretofore, the pattern has been, “Then
said God,” Vayomer
is a Qal waw conversive imperfect, third
masculine singular. (The initial letter waw
is translated “and” or “then.”) Some might object that this instance in
does not fit the
pattern because amar
is an infinitive (with the initial letter lamedh),
and should therefore be
excluded from evidence. I agree that it does not fit the pattern, but I
that evidence should not be “cherry-picked.” This evidence should be
in the discussion since it is an occurrence of God
My point is that a neatly-packaged
uniformity does not exist, and that
the evidence shows it is not
for God to speak after the start of
discussing His imminent creation of man after
the start of the Sixth Day (Gen.
to the newly created couple in the format
of a blessing after
the start of the Sixth Day,
commanding their performance (“be fruitful and multiply and fill the
and empowering their limited sovereignty (“and subdue it and rule over”
to the newly created couple after
the start of the Sixth Day, informing them He had
provided both them and the animal kingdom with every kind of vegetarian
provision they needed for their sustenance (Gen.
As we have
already learned, the pattern breaks down altogether on the Seventh Day,
though the text states that God (Elohim)
Day, it nowhere records that He spoke. Every form of amar
is absent. Therefore the data on the Seventh
Day is indeterminate.
As such, the Seventh Day, along with Day One, represents a departure
formula introducing days two through six.
The evidence is conclusive that there is
not a consistent pattern in the uses of God (Elohim)
and said (amar).
It is true that God says
something to inaugurate the Second to the Sixth Days, but it is equally
that, just as often, He says something after
the start of certain days. If Day One appears to be an anomaly, then
Seventh Day is an even greater anomaly, for though the word God (Elohim)
is used, the word said (amar)
never is! My whole point is
that it is a fallacy to argue that, just because the words God (Elohim)
and said (amar)
inaugurate the Second
through Sixth Days, they must necessarily inaugurate Day One. The
not fit that arbitrary conclusion.
respect to column 4,
which is really a
summary column, we can see visually that the instances of disjuncture,
non-formulaic uses of Elohim
actually outnumber the formulaic instances.
Instances in which the words,
in their proper order, and their placement
at the beginning
of a day are five in number, and are thus formulaic. These include Genesis
1:6, 9, 14,
Instances in which the words
are formulaic, but their placement
after the start of a
given day are non-formulaic,
are four in number. These include Genesis
1:3, 11, 26,
Instances in which the words
are out of order (or words
are missing) and, in addition, their placement
the start of a given day are three in number. These include Genesis
1:22, 28; 2:3.
Thus, with respect
to word selection and placement in a given day, there are five
occurrences, but there are a total of seven non-formulaic occurrences.
conclusion is that there is no statistical or linguistic evidence that Genesis
mark the start of Day One of
respect to column 5,
we are able to
visualize the content of the words associated in the context of God (Elohim)
We can observe that there are some
qualitative differences in the content of God’s speech.
of all, there
are six instances in which God’s speaking amounted to a “Command
of Creation.” These
1:3, 6, 11,
14, 20, 24.
By “Command of Creation,” I refer to the instances in which God spoke,
commanding some new entity or entities into existence. These new
include light (Gen. 1:3),
(atmosphere) (Gen. 1:6),
vegetation (Gen. 1:11),
(sun, moon, stars) (Gen. 1:14),
fish and fowl (Gen. 1:20),
and land animals (Gen. 1:24).
instances reveal a certain formula
used in Genesis 1:1-2:3 describing God’s speech. The formula
is that God
speaks, commanding something into existence that has
not been there before, and that entity is created by God’s speech.
there are another six instances in which
God’s speaking amounted to something
other than a “Command of Creation.” These represent a departure
from formula. (1)
At the start of the Third Day, God’s speech amounted to an arrangement
rearrangement of existing entities, not an actual creation. Nothing new
formed, but existing entities were rearranged (Gen.
Water and soil already existed, but all of
the soil was submerged, and most likely a significant portion of the
in suspension. God’s creative speech rearranged the water and soil so
certain quantity of soil was elevated above water level. This elevated
identified as “dry land” (yabbashah).
God called it “earth” (erets).
Arrangement” is a departure from the formula since nothing
created, but only rearranged. (2) After the start of the Fifth Day,
speech consisted of a blessing upon His newly created fish and fowl (Gen.
In blessing, He commanded them to “be fruitful
and multiply” in their respective environments. This Verbalization
of Blessing, followed by a Command
represents a departure from formula, since nothing was created. (3)
start of the Sixth Day there was a Divine discussion about creating man
“Then God (Elohim)
“Let us make man in Our image according to Our likeness.” So God
discussed creating man, but that discussion is different than a
Creation,” “Let there be man!” In fact, no “Command of Creation” was
be used in the creation of man. The text merely states, “God created
man in His
own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He
is present in the text, but amar
is missing. This Divine
Discussion of Creation represents a departure from
formula. (4) After
God had already created man, the text states that God blessed man, and
this blessing issued in a “Command
of Productivity” followed by a “Command
to Rule.” Literally, the text reads, “Then
blessed them – God – and said (amar)
to them – God (Elohim),
‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth [Command
and subdue it; and exercise dominion over the fish of the sea and over
birds of the heavens, and over every living thing, the one moving about
author’s literal translation). Again, since there
is no “Command of Creation,” there is a departure from formula. (5)
has completed His work of creation on the Sixth Day, God said something
the formulaic words), but what He said was non-formulaic (Gen.
God spoke to the couple, instructing them
that He had given to them every plant which had seed and every tree
fruit with seed as a source of food both for humans and for animals.
God said amount to a Divine
Speech of Provision and Instruction, and did not create a
new entity, it
was a departure from the formula. (6)
the Seventh Day, there was a profound departure from formula. God
and He rearranged nothing. Of greatest significance to our present
is this: though Moses used the word God
He did not use the word said
at all in discussing the Seventh Day. God had completed His work of
creating the heavens and the earth and everything in them.
rested from all the work He had done. Because He had completed His
the seventh day and sanctified it” (Gen. 2:1-3). Since God rested and
did not create, and because the word said (amar)
is not even used, the Description
of Blessing on the Seventh Day constitutes a
remarkable departure from formula. If it be argued, “We cannot count
Seventh Day in our discussion of formula and non-formula because God
finished creating,” I would respond, “Ah, but the Creation Week
seven days, not six.” Further, I would argue, “If the Seventh Day is
fundamentally different, why can there not be a less remarkable
Day One?” At least God said (amar)
something on Day One.
fact that God said something after the
start of Day One is not so remarkable when one examines all
the other departures
from formula in the Creation Week.
skeptic might demand, “Give me one good reason why, stylistically,
I should believe that Day One begins at Genesis
and not at Gen. 1:3
– because each of
the subsequent days, Second through Sixth, all begin with the formula
said.” Let me attempt to answer that objection.
It is impossible
to answer that demand with certainty. Some day, perhaps, I will broach
subject with God and Moses. The best answer I can give is this, that
the Divine and human authors of Genesis believed it was important to
communicate to the readers what God created
initially on Day One, and the conditions
of the terrestrial part of that creation, and the activity
of the Spirit of God upon that creation before they
communicated what God said. Genesis
records what God did on Day One,
but the earth at that
point was completely uninhabitable by
design. God’s speaking light into existence on Day One (Gen.
was the first step
in making the fledgling earth habitable. And, to be straightforward,
what each of God’s speeches and activities on each of the succeeding
accomplished. As it stands, the first verse of the Bible,
stylistically, is a
supreme perfection of simplicity and profundity: “In the beginning God
the heavens and the earth.” Stylistically, how can we possibly improve
that? If Genesis
had begun, “In the
beginning, God said, ‘Let there be the heavens and the earth’”, we
missed that marvelous word bara,
created. And we
would feel that there was an opening prologue that was missing. And we
would have been faced with the following: “Now (NIV) the earth was
void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of
moving over the surface of the deep” (Gen.
by the dogma of evolution would still
be wanting to insert vast eons of time in there somewhere. Gap
theorists would still hold onto
would still insist that the days of
creation cannot be taken literally, and represent instead, vast reaches
would still insist that Gen.
is poetry, not
historical narrative, and they would stretch the Biblical days into
years in order to accommodate evolution. And those who hold to the Chaos
would still say the original earth
had been created in the dateless past. Stylistically, the opening
Genesis would suffer. Stylistically, what God said and the way He said
magnificent. Let it stand as it is!
We have already
mentioned that it is imprecise exegesis to exclude the Seventh Day from
discussion. The Seventh Day is just as much a part of the Creation Week
as are the
preceding six days. God is not reported to have “said” (amar)
anything at all on the Seventh Day. The
word blessed (barak)
is used, but not the word said (amar).
Stylistically, there is already a
difference in the Seventh Day of Creation. Why not also on Day One?
I believe that
the most formidable answer to that objection lies within the larger
of the book of Genesis as a whole. Every reader of Genesis in Hebrew is
with the importance of the word toledoth
in the structural, or stylistic format of
appears in Genesis thirteen times: Gen.
2:4; 5:1; 6:9;
10:1, 32; 11:10, 27; 25:12, 13, 19; 36:1, 9; 37:2.
(a plural noun) most often is translated as generations
(KJV, NASB). In Genesis it
generally means “the account of” or “what became of”. Thomas Constable
this word as a basis for outlining Genesis (Notes
pp. 5-6, viewed on
September 9, 2010). His outline goes as follows: I.
Primeval events (Gen. 1:1-11:26);
A. The story of
creation (Gen. 1:1-2:3);
B. What became of
the creation (Gen. 2:4-4:26);
C. What became of
D. What became of
E. What became of
Noah’s sons (Gen. 10:1-11:9);
F. What became of
Shem (Gen. 11:10-26);
II. Patriarchal narratives
(Gen. 11:27-50:26); A. What became of Terah (Gen. 11:27-25:11);
B. What became of
Ishmael (Gen. 25:12-18);
C. What became of
D. What became of
Esau (Gen. 36:1-37:1);
What became of
particularly germane to the discussion at hand is this: notice that the
indicators do not start at the beginning of the book! Toledoth
does not occur until Genesis
cannot be excluded
from what happened in Genesis any more than Genesis
can be excluded from
the Creation Week recorded in Genesis
tells how God
sequentially upgraded the heavens and earth that God began creating on
Had God left the
earth in the condition He first created it (Gen.
it would have been
uninhabitable. But He did not create the earth to be “a waste place,
it to be inhabited” (Isa.
Conclusion: The story of
Week begins at Genesis
Day One begins at Genesis
Just because God is
not recorded as saying something until Genesis 1:3 does not preclude
creative activity from beginning on Day One in Genesis
God said, “Let
there be light”; and there was light (Genesis
Here, part way
through Day One, God took a significant step in making the as yet
earth habitable. He created light. What is light? At its most basic
light is energy (see The
Basics of Light,
offsite). Light is
a means of transferring energy through space. We can also say that
electromagnetic radiation. Typically, when we use the word light, we
of optical light. But optical light is only the portion of the complete
of electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye. In
optical light, for example, there exist gamma-rays, X-rays,
infrared, and radio waves. To illustrate the notion that light is
energy, it is
helpful to understand that light travels in waves of particles. Each
is called a photon. Different kinds of photons carry different amounts
energy. An X-ray photon, for example, carries much more energy than an
or radio photon. These photons travel in waves, or measurable speeds of
vibration. In the optical realm, “blue
light has a
higher frequency of vibration (or a shorter wavelength) than … red light.”
Light, like most
entities in the created order, is a lot more complicated that it
appears to be.
is significant to note that God created light on Day One before He
sun or moon or any stars. That did not take place until the fourth day.
are some who object to the idea that God would be recorded as creating
before the existence of the sun. But that is a specious objection. Let
illustrate by asking a couple of simple questions: Has man been able to
artificial light independent of the sun? The answer is, “Of course!” We
wood or anything flammable as an artificial light source for millennia.
recently we burned coal oil or kerosene as a light source in our lamps.
created the incandescent light bulb. We have invented fluorescent
neon lights. If man can create artificial light sources that operate
the sun (when it is nighttime), why could God not create light on Day
existed independently of the yet-to-be-created sun or stars? That is a
matter for God. What would be the source of the light that God created
One? That source would be God Himself. Let me illustrate this way. The
capital city of New Earth will be New Jerusalem, described in
detail in Revelation
We are told, “And
the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the
God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk
light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In
daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be
“God is light” (1
both in a physical
and a metaphysical sense. The light that God spoke into existence
least, of a visible (optical) and probably an invisible display of His
glory. And this transference of energy from God to the physical
have taken place irrespective of the sun or any stars. There was an
light source created on Day One in relationship to which the planet
rotated to complete the first cycle of Day One (Gen.
That light source,
I submit, was a visible manifestation of the glory of God.
saw that the
light was good
amounts to a Divine pun. When the light appeared, God could see (raah)
that it was good (insert smiley face). The
light, of course, did not enable God to see. He sees equally well in
or light (Psa.
demonstrated by Psa.
But man cannot see
at all in total darkness, and God was incrementally molding the earth
universe into conditions that were optimal for man to thrive and enjoy.
means that God perceived the light as being
good, pleasant, or agreeable. If there were no (optical) light, think
incredible joys we would be denied! A blind person can experience a
of life. He still possesses intelligence and can communicate. But think
the incredible vistas he would never experience! We could also add that
as being good (tob),
is beneficial. Light, for example,
provides warmth for the planet, absolutely necessary for survival in
realms of space, and it provides a necessary engine for photosynthesis.
is the ability God
has given plants to produce complex organic materials, especially
carbohydrates, from water, carbon dioxide, and inorganic salts, using
a source of energy along with the aid of chlorophyll and associated
So light is beneficial to plants, and since plants would be the food
both animals and man (Gen.
light would also
be good, in the sense of beneficial, to man and animals on that account.
M. Morris (The
pp.56-57) speculates in a remarkable
way on the action of the Godhead in creation to this point:
the types of
force and energy which interact in the universe involve only
gravitational, and nuclear forces; and all of these had now been
Though no doubt oversimplified, this tremendous creative act of the
be summarized by saying that the nuclear forces maintaining the
matter were activated by the Father when He created the elements of the
space-mass-time continuum, the gravitational forces were activated by
Spirit when He brought form and motion to the initially static and
matter, and the electromagnetic forces were activated by the Word when
called light into existence out of the darkness. Of course, God is One,
three persons of the Godhead actually participated in all parts of the
and continue to function in the maintenance of the universe so created.
God separated the
light from the darkness
When Moses wrote these
words, he could not possibly have known about the portions of
radiation that are invisible to the human eye. His concern (and God’s
also) was differentiating between optical light and darkness. Some
about light are in order here.
as initially pervasive.
First, when God
initially created light, it appears that light may have been pervasive.
I mean by pervasive? Let me illustrate. In the distant future, God will
– plural in Isa.
65:17; 66:22; 2
singular in Rev.
65:17; 66:22; 2
Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1)
because the existing heaven (universe) and earth have been irremediably
contaminated by sin. From an exceedingly high mountain, John was
see the Holy
in the process of descending (Rev.
from the Heaven
where God presently
dwells. This New
John saw was
continually manifesting the glory of God in terms of an optical
The glory of God
and the Lamb (Jesus) illuminating the city was so intense that there
need of either sun or moon to shine on it (Rev.
glory John saw was not confined only to the city. He predicted that
conditions manifest themselves in the future, the nations of New
will be able to
function by means of the city’s great light, and the kings of New
will be able to
transport their glory (presumably produce and manufactured goods) into
twenty four hours a day. This will be true because there will never be
night there and the gates of the city will never be closed (Rev.
So the optically
unveiled glory of God and the Lamb will be so great that there will be
visible brilliance both within the city and an external brilliance from
city casting light on huge portions of New
(It is likely, in
view of the present participle descending
used in both Rev.
21:2 and 10,
that the enormous
city never actually rests upon New
but rather is
suspended as a satellite city, perhaps in geosynchronous orbit above
of Israel on New
Not only will
there be an external brilliance from the glory of God and of the Lamb
but there will be
an internal brilliance. Apparently there will be no need of artificial
within the buildings and homes of the city. John affirms that there
will be no
need, not only of illumination from the sun, but for any illumination
So the glory of
God and of Jesus will not only illumine the city and radiate outward
city, but it will illuminate the interiors of buildings and rooms in
This light from the glory of God will be pervasive indeed. I say all
say this: Evidently when God said, “Let there be light!” on Day One (Gen.
that light was
pervasive. At the same time, God knew that the finite creatures He
would need periodic, regular rest. For that, there must be a regular
darkness. So part of God’s creative act with reference to light on Day
not to obliterate darkness entirely, but to allow for alternating
light and darkness as the Earth rotated on its axis in reference to
So God centralized or focused the light reflecting his own innate glory
allow for nocturnal rest and rejuvenation. It is in that sense, I
God separated the light from the darkness.
as functionally good.
unfortunately, have portrayed light upon the newly created earth as
not only in an esthetic and functional
sense, but in a moral, ethical sense. And the darkness, they opine,
an unethical, unholy, evil aura (Ross, TBKC,
I, pp. 28-29, viewed 9/20/10). In that
sense, they hypothesize, the initial earth must have become
by whom? By Satan,
of course. Now it
is true, of course, that later on in time and in Scripture, light and
are portrayed as polar opposites in the moral, ethical spectrum (see
5:20; 9:2; Matt.
6:23; John 3:19-21; 8:12; 12:46; Rom. 13:12; 2 Cor. 6:14; Eph. 5:8; 1
5:5; 1 Pet. 2:9; 1 John 1:5; 2:9).
And that is the point. The negative
ethical and moral connotation of darkness was a later
development. The difficulty with the “darkness is evil”
hypothesis in Genesis
is that there is NO
RECORD in the text of Gen.
was present on Earth any time before his
mention in Gen. 3.
In fact, there WAS
NO SIN in connection with the Earth God created. So the darkness that
be rectified by light was not an ethical or moral darkness, but a
and esthetic deficiency. If it is dark, neither man, nor animal can
plants, the source of food for both, cannot grow. So created life could
survive without light. To insist that the darkness of Genesis
signified an ethical
or moral deficiency is to import later ideas from later passages of
into a beginning text in which they do not exist. Quite to the
periodic darkness was necessary to provide nightly rest for the
would soon create. And the darkness would never be total, for God would
a lesser light, the moon, to govern the nighttime (Gen.
would later pronounce the developments upon earth, which included
periods of light and darkness as
being good (tob)
called the light
day, and the darkness He called night
This is the first
of five times that God “called” in this Creation passage (Gen.
Each time (in this
context) the verb called (qara)
means that God named or labeled an entity. (1)
God called the light day (Gen.
(2) God called the
darkness night (Gen.
(3) God called the
expanse heaven (Gen.
(4) God called the
dry land earth (Gen.
(5) God called the
gathered waters seas (Gen.
Hebrew thought, the idea of naming something is not merely attaching a
label to it. It carries the idea of identifying the essence of that
H. C. Leupold, Exposition
I, p. 55, viewed Sept. 21, 2010). The idea of naming something or
labeling it also
shows a certain mastery of that entity. (See Constable, Notes
p. 15, viewed Sept. 21, 2010. See Genesis
Kings 24:17; Daniel 1:7.)
To name or identify or classify something is part of
the very nature of God. Since God later created man in His own image
He would bring
animals to man and see what man would call (qara)
them. And whatever man called (qara)
living creature, that was its name (shem)
that the man “called (qara)
to all the cattle, birds and beasts. That naming/labeling/classifying
revealed to man experientially that he had no suitable helper, as did
animals. After God created a female counterpart to man and brought her
the man called (qara)
The point is this:
to call something is to name it, or accurately classify it and, to a
degree, to exercise mastery over it. By way of illustration, we have
to the doctor with certain symptoms that we cannot identify. When he
our illness, we are somehow comforted. We don’t feel any better
we feel better emotionally and psychologically, because both the doctor
ourselves now have a degree of mastery over the inexplicable symptoms.
the flu, or the ankle is badly sprained but not broken. Even if we are
diagnosed with some kind of cancer, there is a certain amount of relief
knowing what kind of cancer we have and what the alternative methods of
treatment are and what our prognosis might be. Similarly, those who
abortion seek to control others’ perception of them by naming
“pro-life” rather than “those who seek to kill unborn babies.” God
mastery over the conditions of light and darkness by classifying the
day and the darkness as night.
two labels are very geocentric and anthropocentric. By geocentric
I mean that day and night have significance with respect
to our earth. The existence of day and night demonstrates that the
was initially pervasive was now localized, and that the earth was now
rotating in respect to the light source God had just created. Out in
of deep space, the terms day and night have no significance. Their
is related to the earth. By anthropocentric,
I mean that the terms day and night have primary significance for man,
as opposed to animals. Obviously animals can differentiate between
darkness, but they don’t call the darkness night nor do they call the
day. Those are human terms, understood by man. God labeled the darkness
light for man’s benefit, not for the benefit of animals.
is the meaning of the word day (yom)?
Here it clearly means the illuminated portion of a 24-hour period of
also night (layelah)
refers to the non-illuminated portion of a 24-hour day. So in the very
occurrence of the word day in the Bible, it is self limiting. It is
unequivocally linked to a 24-hour period of time, not a vast span of
time (as theistic
would have us believe).
there was evening
and there was morning, one day
are some who have attempted to infer that this repeated phrase marks
the genesis of the Semitic day beginning at evening. That is unlikely,
for the reason that the phrase marks the completion, not the
commencement of the activities on day one of creation.
C. Leupold (commentary,
p. 27) translates this phrase,
“Then came evening, then came morning – the first day.” What is clearly
indicated here is a sequence of events following the illuminated
that first 24-hour day. God had created light, and then localized it.
was rotating on its axis in relation to that light. As the day wore on,
finally arrived. So evening came, and, after a period of time, morning
That completed the cycle of Divine activity on Day One of creation.
points out that some have attempted to
make Gen. 1 the origin of the Semitic notion that a new day begins
evening. But he does not believe that can be deduced from this passage.
Here, he notes, the
arrival of evening followed by morning came at the end of the first
not its beginning. For the Jewish people, the concept of a day
sunset is more likely related to the Divinely-specified protocol for
observance of the Jewish Sabbath (see Lev.
In his comments
on Gen. 1:5,
C. F. Keil (Keil and Delitzsch) wrote, "It follows from this, that the
days of creation are not reckoned from evening to evening, but from
morning to morning. The first day does not fully terminate till the
light returns after the darkness of night; it is not till the break of
the new morning that the first interchange of light and darkness is
then, is the sequence on the first day of creation: (1) God created the
heavens. (2) God created the earth. (3) God created by command light.
(4) As the earth rotated in relation to the fixed light source, evening
came, and with it darkness. (5) The first 24-hour day was terminated by
the arrival ot the dawn, or morning.
Two questions are at stake here: (1) What is the nature of the word day
What is the significance of the word one (echad)
the cardinal, rather than the ordinal form?
(1) What is
the nature of the word day (yom)? The
is used in two different senses in Genesis
It is first used by God to denote the illuminated portion of
existence upon earth as opposed to the darkened portion of existence.
As the earth rotates on its axis, a given spot on the globe is
alternately exposed to light and then to darkness. In English, it is
appropriate to call the illuminated portion "day" or "daytime." In
Hebrew it is yom.
In the second part of Gen.
1:5, day is used to denote a complete cycle
of daytime followed by nighttime. We now speak of a solar day, or a
24-hour day, but on Day One there was no sun in respect to which the
earth rotated on its axis, but rather some other light source. We are
not told what that light source was, but presumably, as suggested
above, it was a visible display of the glory of God. In any event, the
amount of time for a day-night cycle was essentially the same then as
it is today, granting the entropy (decay) associated with six thousand
years plus of the earth's existence.
Humphrey, a third
meaning of day (yom) is
to be found in Genesis
"Finally in Genesis 2:4, yôm
is part of an anarthrous 1
‘in the day’ but simply ’when’."
There can be no doubt that, in the latter part of Genesis
1:5, by writing, "And there was evening and there was
morning, one day,"
Moses was delineating a 24-hour day or what in three days could
accurately be termed a solar day. The terms evening and morning must
doubtless refer to a 24-hour day. This limiting context is stated first
1:5, then repeated in Gen. 1:8,
13, 19, 23, and 31. As Humphrey concludes,
is clearly preferable to read Gen. 1:5b
as defining a yôm
for the following sequence of ordinals-namely one
cycle of evening and morning, signifying a complete 24-hour day
embracing both the period of darkness and the period of light.”
It should be noted that the day-night cycle of the
first day was, by necessity, different than the succeeding days.
Whereas each succeeding day began with daybreak or dawn, the first day
began in utter darkness. In other words, when God created the heavens
and the earth (Gen.
1:1), it was pitch black (Gen.
How long it was dark we are not told. How long the Spirit of God was
moving over the surface of the waters before God created light (Gen.
we are not told. What we are told by God as recorded by Moses is that
God created everything that came into existence in six days (Ex.
And God nowhere in Scripture indicated a chronological disparity
between the first day
and the succeeding days. We humans would be unwise unilaterally to
impose a difference where none is stated to exist.
millennia, few questioned Moses' account of the origin of the universe,
the earth, and life. Indeed, through the first roughly 1800 years of
the church's existence, it was assumed that God created the cosmos and
that he did it in six days. There were some allegorists, such
"Clement, Origen, and Augustine, [who] did not consider the days of
creation as 24-hour days, but, even as old-earth advocate Davis Young
states, neither did they see non-literal days conflicting with their
young-earth view" (Davis A. Young, Christianity and the Age of the
Earth (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1982), p. 19 and 22, as quoted by
James R. Mook, "The Church Fathers on Genesis, the Flood, and the Age
of the Earth", p. 26 in Coming
to Grips with Genesis). It was
understood that a day meant a day. But with
the advent of the theory of evolution,
with its emphasis on
a number of theologians and Hebrew scholars attempted to find new ways
to interpret the
account. Many tried to reconcile the Biblical account with the vast
amounts of time demanded by the doctrine
of evolution. Instead of allowing the clear teaching of Scripture to
stand in judgment on on the atheistic, uniformitarian,
anti-supernatural biases and presuppositions of the scientific
community, the Christian community, led by Christian scholars,
capitulated to the dogmas foisted upon them. But those who took the
Bible seriously had to deal with the text of Gen. 1. So they
resorted to non-literal methods of exegesis or ingenious manipulations
of the Hebrew syntax to accommodate the scientific views. One way to do
that was to assign vast periods of time to
the account of the "days" of creation. Here is a brief list of the
theories regarding the days of creation that have been concocted to
satisfy the time parameters mandated by evolution:
Theory. The days of creation are not literal
days, as a straight-forward reading of Gen.
1 would lead one to believe. Instead they represent vast
periods of time. This theory, unsupported by an exegesis of Gen.
1, was concocted to create the amount of time required by the
presuppositions of the dogma of evolution.
Specifically, for example, uniformitarian
geology holds that the
geologic strata found around the earth were laid down by natural
processes over millions upon millions of years. But this is untrue. The
geologic strata were not laid down gradually over millions of years by
natural processes, but over a short period of time during the global,
catastrophic geological devastation caused by the Flood of
6-8). Another term for this non-literal approach to the days
of creation is Progressive
Creationism. Astrophysicist Hugh
to Believe, holds to Progressive Creationism. He also
believes the Genesis
Flood was local.
Hypothesis. A non-literal hermeneutical
stratagem to avoid the clear meaning of "day" (yom) in
1:1-2:3 in a failed attempt to harmonize the Biblical
teaching of Creation with the Old-Earth
implications of the theory of Evolution.
In the Framework Hypothesis, God was not meaning to convey literal or
scientific truth. Rather He sought to convey a theology of creation
through a literary or symbolic framework of six days. Proponents
of the Framework Hypothesis include Arie Noordtzij, Meredith Kline,
Mark D. Futato, Lee Irons, Henri Blocher, Bruce Waltke, Gordon Wenham,
Mark Throntveit, Ronald F. Youngblood, and W. Robert Godfrey (all
referenced with their publications by Todd S. Beall,
"Contemporary Hermeneutical Approaches to Gen. 1-11", footnote
pp. 151-152, Coming
to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth
and Beall, op.
This theory holds that there were vast quantities of time between the
days of creation. No straightforward reading of the account in Gen.
would lead one to support this theory. It was concocted by Biblical
scholars who have been cowed into believing that science demands an Old
Earth. The evolutionary
theory demands vast quantities of time. Old-Earth
creationists, attempting to accommodate the Biblical account
keep searching for ways to insert more time into Genesis. Inevitably,
they violate a normal reading of the passage.
Theories that Insert Time into the Genesis Record
addition to theories regarding the days of creation, other theories
have been created to insert more time into the Creation Account of
There is an enormous gap of time between Gen.
1:1 and Gen. 1:2. According
to some who hold this theory, God created an initial pristine universe
as described in Genesis
1:1. But something ruined it. What or who
ruined it? Why it was Satan and his angels, who fell. So God had to
judge the world with a global cataclysm. This accounts for the
trillions of fossils scattered throughout the geological ages. Genesis
1:2 then, according to these theorists, describes the
condition of the
earth after God judged it. It was utterly dark, without form, void, and
covered with water. Genesis
1:3-31 accounts for God's recreation
cosmos. The Gap Theory is also known as the "Ruin and Reconstruction" Theory.
By whatever name, this theory is untenable theologically, because it
makes God say that everything He had created was "good" (Gen.
12, 18, 21, 25) and "very good" (Gen.
1:31) even though the re-created
world was littered with the fossils of animals that had died and lay
buried in the geologic strata that everywhere around the globe testify
of a cataclysmic judgment. Furthermore, it diametrically opposes the
clear statement that it was by one man, Adam, that sin entered the
world, and death through sin (Romans
5:12-14). Though it never used the words "gap theory",
popularized this unbiblical concept and helped spread it through scores
of otherwise conservative Bible colleges and seminaries. Here are the
words of the 1917 edition commenting on the phrase "without
form and void" in Genesis
4:23-27 ; Isaiah 24:1; 45:18 clearly indicate that the earth
had undergone a cataclysmic change as the result of divine judgment.
The face of the earth bears everywhere the marks of such a catastrophe.
There are not wanting imitations which connect it with a previous
testing and fall of angels.
28:12-15 ; Isaiah 14:9-14 which certainly go beyond the kings
of Tyre and Babylon.
The 1917 edition stated the concept of the Gap Theory in its note on
the phrase "without
form and void" as found in Jeremiah
1:2 . "Without form and void" describes the condition of the
earth as the result of judgment ; Jeremiah
4:24-26 ; Isaiah 24:1 which overthrew the primal order of Genesis
1917 edition gave three
options for defining the word "day" in Genesis
The word "day"
is used in Scripture in three ways:
(1) that part of the solar day of twenty-four hours which is light
1:5; Genesis 1:14 ; John 9:4; 11:9.
(2) such a day, set apart for some distinctive purpose, as, "day of
atonement" ( Leviticus
23:27 ); "day of judgment" Matthew
(3) a period of time, long or short, during which certain revealed
purposes of God are to be accomplished, as "day of the Lord."
The 1917 edition also revealed its bias toward the Day-Age Theory in
its notes on the word "evening"
The use of
"evening" and "morning" may be held to limit "day" to the solar day;
but the frequent parabolic use of natural phenomena may warrant the
conclusion that each creative "day" was a period of time marked off by
a beginning and ending.
who hold to the Gap Theory even posit a race of pre-Adamic men, of
which the Bible never speaks. To the contrary it affirms that God made
every nation of men from
(my translation, emphasis mine. See Acts
17:26). All truly human (and
other) fossils found are descendants of Adam. If they are buried in
strata, they probably died during Noah's flood. There is no fossil
record of pre-Adamic men, for there are none.
Theory of Origins. This is the
interpretation that the earth as described in Genesis
was chaotic, cursed, under God's judgment, and even evil. As such it
needed to be redeemed. It is my view that otherwise conservative
scholars who hold to this view have felt compelled to adjust
exegesis of Scripture to accommodate the prounouncements of
evolutionists and their view of an ancient
have withstood this pressure. Allen P. Ross and Bruce Waltke hold to
some version of this view.
Allen Ross, (The
Bible Knowledge Commentary
on Genesis, p. 28)
for example, holds that Satan ruined the
original heavens and earth, which God had created at some
the dateless past. What this amounts to is a more sophisticated version
of the Gap
. People who hold to this view import from elsewhere
in Scripture elements of sin and cursing and judgment into Genesis
that are not found in the text of Gen.
1. The earth as described in
1:2 was neither chaotic, nor sinful, nor evil, nor under
judgment. It was simply unorganized and unproductive, uninhabited,
aqueous, and dark. It was all that God intended it to be at this stage
of God's creation on Day 1. (See my word
study on tohu wabohu
particularly the conclusion
at the end of tohu
and the conclusion
at the end of bohu
I end this
discussion of the nature of the word day (yom) with
statement by Francis
The fact that
for the bulk of the passage [Genesis
1:1-2:4], the word yôm
is accompanied by sequential numerical denotation and the language of
‘evening and morning’ gives a prima facie
that regular 24-hour days are in view.
What is the significance of the word one (echad) appearing in
the cardinal, rather than the ordinal form? The careful
Hebrew scholar notes that Moses used the cardinal one (echad) in
reference to the initial day of creation (Gen.
1:5), but thereafter
used the ordinals second,
fifth, sixth, and seventh in the
succeeding days (Gen. 1:8,
13, 19, 23, 31; 2:2-3). Why?
Steinmann has written a definitive
article on the use of echad in Genesis 1:5. Here is a list of
the topics Steinmann
an ordinal number in numbering units of time" (p. 577). His conclusion
(p. 580): "Echad
may be used in place of the ordinal rishon
when enumerating time periods, but only in two special idioms. One of
these designates the day of a month, the other the year of a reign of a
king. In all other cases of periods of time (days, months or years) the
ordinal number is used."
2. "Countables" (p. 581). The cardinal number echad
an ordinal number to count the first of a small number of things.
2:11: “the first [river]” (of four rivers)
4:19: “the name of the first [wife] was Adah” (of two wives)
26:4, 5; 36:11: “the first curtain” (of two curtains)
28:17; 39:10: “the first row” (of four rows)
29:40; Num 28:7: “for the first lamb” (of two lambs)
Kgs 6:24: “the first cherub” (of two cherubs)
42:14: “the name of the first [he called] Jemimah (of three
10:14: “the face of the first [creature] was the face of a
(of four creatures)
1:5" (p. 582). In this regard Steinmann
this means, as most translators and commentators understand it, “There
was an evening and a morning, the first day,” we can find no precedent
for the use of echad
here. It cannot be the use of a cardinal number as
an ordinal to enumerate a time period, since this only applies to days
of a month or the years of a king’s reign. Neither of these is the case
here, despite the references to the use of echad
an ordinal to
denote a first day by some commentators.
Moreover, this cannot be the typical use of echad
begin a list of
countables. First, the lack of an article on both echad
unattested elsewhere in the OT for a list of countables. Secondly, none
of the following ordinal numbers for the second through fifth days has
an article, nor is there an article with yom
1:8, 13, 19, 23).
This, again, is unattested elsewhere in the OT.
What is Steinmann's
would appear as if the text is very carefully crafted so that an alert
reader cannot read it as “the first day.” Instead, by omission of the
article it must be read as “one day,” thereby defining a day as
something akin to a twenty-four hour solar period with light and
darkness and transitions between day and night, even though there is no
sun until the fourth day. This would then explain the lack of articles
on the second through fifth days (p. 583).
like the English word “day,” can take on a variety of meanings. It does
not in and of itself mean a twenty-four hour day. This alone has made
the length of the days in Gen. 1 a perennially controversial
subject. However, the use of echad
1:5 and the following unique
uses of the ordinal numbers on the other days demonstrates that the
text itself indicates that these are regular solar days (p. 584).
light of the preceding, it is clearly preferable to read Gen. 1:5b
defining a yôm for
the following sequence of ordinals - namely one
cycle of evening and morning, signifying a complete 24-hour day
embracing both the period of darkness and the period of light. Having
used the cardinal echad to
establish that definition of yôm, the
chapter then goes on in the expected ordinal sequence.
It is clear that both Humphrey
concur that echad,
1:5, is not being used as an ordinal, but as a cardinal
number in order to define what a day is in the context of Genesis
1:1-2:3: A day is a 24-hour period equivalent to a solar day.
cannot be stretched into a lengthy period of time.
I agree with their conclusions.
ends his entire
article with the following observation, with which I concur:
has been my experience that those who question the normal historical
narrative reading of Genesis 1:1–2:4 tend to be my fellow evangelicals.
Theological liberals recognize the text as saying that God created the
universe in six 24-hour days. They see evangelicals who adopt
alternative readings of the text as engaged in a form of suspect
apologetics. I believe the liberal critique to be accurate. Where I
differ from them, however, is that I believe the text is correct in
what it is teaching. A more effective apologetic therefore lies in
simply admitting what the text proclaims and showing that it has far
more explanatory power than many people think. In that light, I am
excited by the kind of research being conducted by CMI
creation science organizations. God means what He says and He did it
just as Genesis says he did!
I.e. lacking the definite article. If the definite article were present
(represented by the vowel marking pathach under
the beth) then it would signify ‘in the day’. Its
lack signifies an idiomatic use meaning ‘when’ as in the NIV
translation. Return to text.
completes Day One of Creation.
Day of Creation and subsequent days of
creation articles are in process.