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Genesis 1-2-3-4

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 03:50 PM

GENESIS 1-2-3-4


by Harry Whittaker


First Impression 1986


Printed by North West Print Ltd,

Danefield Road, Sale, Manchester M33 1 BP

Published by Biblia,

130 Hednesford Road, Cannock, Staffordshire UK




The young people at a West Coast Bible School heard bits and pieces of this exposition. I hope that in days to come they will learn to love and marvel at these wonderful chapters of Holy Scripture.




My warmest thanks to Elsie Bramhill the indefatigable, who so efficiently typed and indexed.


Books by Harry Whittaker obtainable from:

Biblia, 130 Hednesford Road, Cannock, Staffordshire, U.K.:


He is risen indeed

The Last Days — Out of Print

The Time of the End

Jews, Arabs, and Bible Prophecy

Through Patience and Comfort of the Scriptures — Out of Print

Exploring the Bible

Studies in the Gospels — Out of Print

The Epistle of Jude — Out of Print



Samuel, Saul, David


Books by Harry Whittaker obtainable from:

The Christadelphian Office,

404 Shaftmoor Lane, Hall Green, Birmingham, B28 8SZ


Enjoying the Bible

Joseph the Saviour

Abraham — Father of the Faithful

Wrestling Jacob

Hezekiah the Great

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 03:53 PM



Genesis 1        

Genesis 2        

Genesis 3        

Adam and Christ         

Genesis 4:1-17           

Cain and Abel - Israel and Christ      

The Law of Moses anticipated in Eden         

Genesis 4:18-26         

Subject Index 

Index of Bible passages discussed    



There are those who treat the early chapters of Genesis as though they are mythical survivals of a dim past. The compiler of these comments thinks differently. He is convinced that there are few parts of Holy Scripture more profound, more compressed, more important for good religious comprehension than these. Always there seems to be more to be learned from fresh study of these chapters.


The very compression of the record means that in not a few places more than one interpretation of the same details is possible. This explains why it has been deemed wise to include alternative readings now and then. But even where this has not been done, even when there may appear to be a certain dogmatism or confidence of interpretation, the writer still remains aware of his own fallibility.


The Creation versus Evolution controversy has gone almost without mention. This present author protests that he has not the vivid imagination (nor the gullibility) to take modern evolution theory seriously. On the other hand, he has tremendous confidence in the commentary on Genesis 1-4 which has been provided, more copiously than is usually believed, by the Lord Jesus Christ and the writers of the New Testament.


Finally, an apology for the irritating discontinuities in the text. It would have been possible to paper over most of these cracks, but only at the expense of greater verbosity and with no great increase in lucidity. One of the aims has been conciseness. The text is long enough as it is.


Harry Whittaker

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 03:55 PM

Commentary on Genesis, Ch. 1


1:1 In the beginning God


There is no indication here in Genesis, or elsewhere, as to when this Beginning was, nor whether any part of the material universe had existed in any form before the time now spoken of. Speculations and theories about long ages of formative development are not wonderfully satisfying or helpful. The fact is: Men simply do not know much about Earth’s beginning, and regarding the Beginning Genesis 1 reveals nothing except that God was there and was in control:


“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou didst form the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting thou art God” (Ps. 90:2). Here the word “world” (Heb: tēvel) is perhaps put for all the rest of the universe besides this earth. It is also worth observing that if the mountains were made a mere six thousand years ago, this passage loses most of its point. They must be much older than that.


There would seem to be a familiar reference in Heb. 11:3 which, from the order of development of ideas there must surely refer to Gen. 1 or before that:


“Through faith we understand that the worlds (or, ages) were framed (and are still maintained: Gk. perf. tense) by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”


The precise meaning here is very uncertain. But some details are easily overlooked: (a) “The word of God” means “the spoken word” - a fairly clear allusion to: “And God said ...” (b) “Of things which do appear” could be read as a masculine, instead of neuter; and the Greek middle voice of the verb supports this, thus giving the meaning: “were not made by those who manifest themselves,” i.e. by angels. If this is correct, the implication seems to be: Angels (Elohim) may have been the medium of creation, but the ultimate plan was framed by the Almighty; and faith believes this.


The Greek perfect tense referred to, and the alternative reading proposed here, both support AV: worlds, rather than ages. Yet in Heb. 1:2, “ages” is certainly right, for Jesus did not make the worlds, but it is by him that the ages of God’s Purpose have been marked out: his first and second advents and the end of the millenium very emphatically separate off the various phases of the redeeming work of God.


It is not certain that 2 Pet. 3:4 is a reference to the Beginning of Gen. 1:1: “Since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” If the reference is to that, then the argument of these “scoffers” is that all Nature is dominated by an invariable scientific uniformity - the rule of “law”. From the earliest days of human philosophy this has been a tempting interpretation of the God-made world. The way God has framed it almost seems to encourage this outlook.


“Nature and Nature’s laws lay deep in night - God said: Let Newton be - and all was light.”


That familiar couplet glorifies human intellect in a way that Newton himself probably would have resented. Unless kept on a tight leash, the uniformitarianism implied here is an enemy to faith, “Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God” (Ps 55:19).


There is no verse in Gen. 1 which does not proclaim the atheistic uniformitarian a fool. And the sardonic spirit of Ecc. 1:4-13 reinforces that mockery: “This sore travail hath God given to the sons of men to be exercised therewith” - as who should say: These “laws” of nature are the toys God has given to His clever children to keep them out of worse mischief.


As already intimated, there is no indication at all when the Genesis beginning was. Scientists enjoy making their guesses. Isn’t 30m. years, give or take 5m., a popular estimate for the age of the earth? Why cannot they resist the temptation to play with this problem? Why are they not content to leave well alone? In this field all is futile speculation.

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 03:56 PM

The Hebrew word b’rēshith has been pointed to read: “In a beginning,” not “In the beginning.” In this the former reading is fully confirmed by the designed allusion in Jn. 1:1: en archē, no article.


Thus, “In a beginning” might imply that Gen. 1 is to be read as a series of “beginnings,” 1:1 being the first of a sequence, the six “days” of creation; or, it might imply that there had been other earlier “beginnings” inaugurating long geological eras such as the findings of science seem to demand but about which Gen. 1 says nothing.


The rabbinic schools have used up a lot of mental energy in trying to explain why the Torah begins with the letter Beth and not with Aleph. They have calculated that the real beginning of the Torah is in Ex. 20:2, which does begin with Aleph!


It is possible that Heb. 3:4 has a sidelong allusion to this problem, making a play on the fact that Beth in B’reshith also means a house: “For every house is builded by some man, but he that built all things is God.”


The words of Genesis could well mean creation in the sense of a new beginning, a fresh start with the raw material God already had on hand. Paul not infrequently uses “create, creation” in just this sense of re-constituting what was already in existence (2 Cor. 5:17; Col. 1:15,16; Rom. 8:20; Eph. 2:10,15; 3:9; 4:24). But of course Paul’s usage has reference, in all these places, to the New Creation. But would he have used ktisis in this sense, if he had not read Gen. 1 in the same sort of way?


The idea is very popular with many that such a re-creation actually needs to be read into the middle of Gen. 1:1,2, but the Hebrew text certainly does not require this.


The name of God here - Elohim - is commonly taken to imply the creative activity of angels, the Creator’s “mighty ones.” This interpretation receives reinforcement from “the spoken word of God” (Heb. 11:3; rhēma, not logos). For if the creative word was spoken, to whom was it spoken if not to angels? (More on this in comment on 1:26). Certainly angels were present at creation, rejoicing in the work of God (Job 38:7), as they also did when present at the beginning of God’s New Creation. Lk. 2:15 (Gk. text) implies that not only shepherds but also angels went to see and rejoice over the baby in the manger.


Isaiah speaks of God “declaring the end from the beginning” (46:10). The words seem to imply that the earliest revelation - Genesis 1 - is also to be read as a prophecy of the entire divine Purpose. The End of Creation in Genesis is a picture of a unique Man and his Bride, without fault and in perfect harmony in a completed uncursed creation.

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 03:57 PM

Time after time the New Testament bids its reader see the redeeming work of Christ as a New Creation of God, picking up the fragments of the fallen cursed world with which Gen. 3 ends and bringing them to a happy ending - redemption through Christ. In many a place the New Testament uses the language of Genesis to illustrate this noble idea.


Thus in the New Testament “the beginning” is often the beginning of the gospel, or the beginning of discipleship or the resurrection of Jesus as the Firstborn of a New Creation; e.g. Acts 11:15; Phil. 4:15; 2 Th. 2:13; Heb. 2:3; Col. 1:18; and especially in John’s gospel and epistles (see concordance), was leading to the satisfying idea that Jn. 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word,” is not to be read as equivalent to Gen. 1:1, but as a parallel to it, with reference to Jesus, the Beginning of the New Creation. (For fuller development of this important idea see “Studies in the Gospels,” H.A.W., chapter 3). Wordsworth expresses it very well thus: “John 1:1 leads us to consider the analogies of the creation of Adam and the New Creation in Christ” - but then he spoils it by trying to insist on a personal participation in the Mosaic creation by “God the Son.”


The parallel between Genesis 1 and John 1 is made more pointed not only by the impressive passage about Light and Darkness (Jn. 1:5-9) but also by what seems to be a designed sequence of seven days in the first chapter of the Gospel; there, after Day 1 (v. 19-28), the days of that important week are carefully identified: 1:29,35,39,43 and 2:1.


“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending” (Rev. 1:8; 21:6; 22:13) likewise emphasizes Jesus as the Beginning of the New Creation. The End is the consummation of the great redemptive Purpose in the Second Coming (Mt. 13:49; Heb. 3:6,14; 6:11; 1 Pet. 1:9; Rev. 2:26) and in the ultimate perfecting of everything in this world (1 Cor. 15:24).


In the beginning of all four (five) gospels there is satisfying emphasis on Jesus as the real Beginning of the work of God: Mt. 4:17; Mk. 1:1; Lk. 1:2; 3:23; Acts 1:1. Of these, Lk. 3:23 is bungled in the AV. Instead it should read: “And Jesus himself, about thirty years old, was making a beginning ...”


1:1 God created


The word bara is generally recognized as carrying a more specific and expressive idea than asah, a more general word, usually rendered “made.” Indeed, bara seems to be used exclusively with regard to a divine work, something quite new.


Here, in Gen. 1, bara comes three times - with reference to creation of heavens and earth (v.1), great whales (v.21), and man (v.27). The second and third of these will be considered later.


After v.1, the heavens are hardly mentioned here. The emphasis is decidedly on earth. There is clearly no intention to provide here a cosmogony.

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 03:57 PM

But there is repeated emphasis on the awesome might and wisdom that can bring Creation into being: “He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite” (Ps. 147:4,5). “Lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind (the Spirit of Gen. 1:27), and declareth unto man what is his (His?) thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth on the high places of the earth. The Lord, the God of hosts is his name” (Am. 4:13). There is no missing these reminiscences of the Genesis Creation story.


But, remarkably enough, most of the Biblical allusions to Gen. 1:1; using this distinctive word bara, lift the Creation idea on to a higher level. For these later men of God the really important idea is the New Creation, designed by the wisdom of God to replace the Old Creation which failed and fell into curse. This theme will be found not just to crop up now and then but to dominate the Bible’s handling of Genesis 1. A few examples, to illustrate this:


“Thus saith God the Lord, he that created (bara) the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it (Gen. 1:11,24); he that giveth breath to the people upon it (Gen. 2:7), and spirit to them that walk therein: I the Lord have called thee (Messiah) in righteousness ...” (Is. 42:5,6).


“I form the light, and create (bara) darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things. Drop down, ye heavens, from above ... let the earth open ... and bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created (bara) it” (Is. 45:7,8). Here is the growth of God’s Seed in the earth.


“For thus saith the Lord that created (bōrē) the heavens: God himself that formed the earth, and made it; he established it, he created it not in vain (tohu, bara; Gen. 1:1a,2a), he formed it to be inhabited” (Is. 45:18).


“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered nor come into mind” (Is. 65:17 - followed by allusions to early Genesis in v.20c,22bc,23ab,25b).


“Of old hast thou laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment...” (Ps. 102:25,26). Note that the word bara is not used here. The reason is clear - it has been assigned to the New Creation: “This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord” (v.18).


“Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust (Gen. 3:19 - the old creation a failure). Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created (this is the New Creation): The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works (the New Creation, not the old)” (Ps. 104:29-31).


The One who created was God, Elohim. The word means “mighty ones.” There is a tendency with some to give the word this plural meaning whenever possible, and often when it is not possible. The fact is that nearly always it is used with a singular verb, and with reference to God Himself.

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 03:58 PM

Then why the plural form? Not, definitely not, as a plural of majesty, for it is doubtful if this usage occurs at all in the Bible. Possibly, as an intensive plural: “the One of great might.” Indeed, this is most likely, for intensive plurals are common enough in the Old Testament. Can it be that the plural is intended to remind readers of angels at work, fulfilling the will of the Lord God? This is possible, as in 1:26, but such passages are relatively few.


What may be very confidently discounted is the notion, popular with many an orthodox commentator, that here Elohim refers to creation by the Holy Trinity. Why a plural should be taken to imply three, when it might as easily imply thirty-three, is difficult to understand. Only those desperate for support for an ill-proven idea would fall back on this kind of interpretation.


It is noteworthy, that whereas the New Testament refers only rarely to the material creation being made by God (Acts 17:24; where else?), the same language, transferred to the New Creation, comes fairly frequently. Examples:


a. “... God, who created all things (in the church) by Jesus Christ” (Eph. 3:9). Note: To read here “because of Jesus Christ” is wrong.


b. “For by him (Jesus) were all things created ... all things were created by him and for him” (Col. 1:16). Here, certainly, the New Creation (note v.18).


c. “For of him (the Father), and through him, and to him are all things: to whom be glory for ever” (Rom. 11:36). That phrase: “To him” plainly means ‘from the redeemed.’


d. “These things saith the Amen ... the beginning of the creation of God” (Rev. 3:14).


e. “For thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11). Here reference to anything but the New Creation is utterly out of place.


f. “New heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Pet. 3:13).

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:00 PM

1:1 The heavens and the earth


Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians (Acts 7:22), yet he did not bequeath to later generations an Egyptian cosmogony, nor a Babylonian (as from Abraham).


The Hebrew word for ‘heavens’ (shamayim) probably, though not certainly, links with shamah, meaning (a) desolation, the great empty space of the sky, or (b) astonishment, as the sight in Nature which never ceases to put a man in awe. Young’s Concordance meaning - “heaved up things” - can be ignored.


It has to do with the English word, not the Hebrew. Shamayim is plural in form, that is, an intensive plural to suggest the greatness of heaven; or dual, with double reference to the sky men can see, and to the unknowable (fourth dimension?) dwelling of God. See also on 1:8.


Once again a key phrase in Gen. 1 is picked up in the rest of Scripture and used with extended meaning.


Ps. 89 has both usages: “the heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them” (v.11). But also: “Mercy shall be built up for ever: thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens (v.2; these key words refer to the covenants of promise - see the rest of the psalm). Yet verse 5 seems to refer to angels celebrating the wonders of God’s purpose.


Isaiah 45 also switches from literal to figurative: “I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded” (v.12). Yet there is no doubt about the further meaning to these words: “I form the light, and I create darkness ... Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation” (v.7,8).


As a figure of Israel, its Law and Covenant, this expression is much made use of:


“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth” (Is. 1:2) is an appeal to Israel as a nation (but can a distinction between rulers and people be insisted on?)


“The heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment ... but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished” (Is. 51:6). This foretells the passing of the Mosaic order, and the bringing in of a New Covenant. There is the same idea, in contrast, in Is. 50:3; 49:13. And Ps. 19, with its wonderful picture of the glory of God in the heavens invites an additional interpretation besides the literal by its sudden switch to the glory of God in His Word (cp. also how v.4 is interpreted in Rom. 10:18).


Signs in heaven and earth betoken dire trouble for Israel: “The heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel” (Jl. 3:16). “For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black: because I have spoken it... and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it” (Jer. 4:28).


Dt. 32:1,2 is another “heavens and earth” passage about Israel which is picked up (from LXX version) in 2 Pet. 3:13 and applied to the “new heavens and earth” of a New Israel in the kingdom. But in that same chapter there seems to be stark literal judgement manifest in a literal (old) heaven and earth (3:5,7,10,12). The inspired writers swing between literal and figurative with an ease that can be bewildering to a prosaic western mind (which is it in Ps. 50:4-6? in Is. 51:15,16?).

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:00 PM

1:2 And the earth was without form and void


The Hebrew words are very expressive. Tohu means “waste, a wilderness”, and also “vanity.” It is used several times of the futility of idols; eg. 1 Sam. 12:21; Is. 44:9. Bohu (3 occurrences only) means “empty.” So together the words imply a pointless useless chaos. LXX, groping not too successfully for a precise idea, offers “invisible and unprepared.”


Linguistically there is no real justification for insisting that “the earth became without form and void,” as though implying the ruin of an earlier civilisation. Only very exceptionally does the Hebrew word require “became.”


But Jeremiah’s use of these Genesis words suggests the idea of an ordered creation which has come to ruin: “I beheld the earth, and lo, it was without form and void: and the heavens, and they had no light....” (4:23-26). The prophet is using the Genesis pattern as a picture of how Judah’s ordered civilisation was soon to come to ruin. The same phrase - “emptiness” - in Is. 34:12 has something of the same idea regarding Edom.


Yet in 1 Cor. 14:33 Paul insists that “God is not the author of confusion” (cp. tohu). This presents a contradiction with the Genesis picture of a Creator completely in charge of affairs who has nevertheless produced a chaos (in 1:2). But Paul’s present tense: “is”, sets the matter straight. It is as though the apostle is saying: “You believers are part of God’s New Creation in which confusion has no part, even though confusion and curse came on what He fashioned earlier.”


1:2 And darkness was upon the face of the deep.


According to Berosus the ancient Babylonian creation began with Darkness and Water. It is the first of a number of similarities between Genesis and the Babylonian myth. Many, with gusto, have argued for the derivation of the former from the latter - which is silly, for “who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” It is much more conceivable that the true tradition represented by Genesis was corrupted into crudity by the Sumerians.


It is not said here that God created this darkness, yet He did: “I form the light, and create darkness” (Is. 45:7). “The day is thine, the night also is thine” (Ps. 74:16). “Thou makest darkness, and it is night” (104:20).


And also in the spiritual world. God has His angels of evil (Ps. 78:49) who do His will as much as the angels of His Providence do. “The prince of the power of the air (aera = also, darkness; Eph. 2:2)” is at the Almighty’s beck and call as much as any other. The only alternative to this concept is belief in a personal superhuman Devil.


Yet there is no inconsistency with such statements as: “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 Jn. 1:5), even though at Sinai and in the crossing of the Red Sea and at the crucifixion He manifested Himself in an awe-inspiring darkness, and will in the judgements of the last days (Ex. 20:21; 14:20; Mt. 27:45; Ps. 18:9,11; Joel 2:2,31).


The unusual word “deep” (t’hōm) is either a combination of tohu-yam, the wilderness of sea; or it derives from hum, which means “a great noise” (e.g. Ps. 55:2; Mic. 2:12). LXX has the word “abyss”.

1:2 And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.


In Proverbs 8 the Spirit is personified as Wisdom, represented as a woman because wisdom is a feminine noun in Hebrew:


“The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old .... When there were no depths, I was brought forth ... While as yet he had not made the earth ... when he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass on the face of the deep (t’hom) ...” (8:22-26).


An ancient Phoenician cosmogony (another distorted crib from the tradition of truth) asserts that in the beginning all was brought into being by the Wind and his wife Bohu. Since Hebrew for Spirit is the same as for Wind (cp. 8:1; Ex. 14:21; 15:8,10), there is distinct similarity with Genesis. But clearly in Genesis the correct reading is Spirit, and not wind, in spite of some modern versions. Isaiah 40:12,13 requires such a conclusion. So also the word “moved,” for here the idea is that of motion to and fro, even in the sense of vibration. One of its few occurrences reads: “As an eagle ... fluttereth over her young ... (Dt. 32:11). “Passover” is a quite different Hebrew word, but the idea behind it is remarkably similar (see Is. 31:5; Ex. 12:13). The idea of vibration has led some to suggest that spirit = electricity, but this is going further than the text warrants. The Talmud, remarkably enough, explains “moved” with reference not to an eagle but to a dove over its young - thus unconsciously preparing the way for the New Testament account of the beginning of the New Creation in the baptism of Jesus (Mk. 1:10) and in those who belong to his New Creation (Jn. 3:5; Acts 2:2).

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:01 PM

1:3 And God said...


This expression comes ten times in this chapter, as though to anticipate the Ten Words at Sinai. Here the first “word of God” brings light. There the first “word” forbids Darkness.


It is not irrelevant to ask: To whom did God say this? And the only possible answer is: The angels, God’s ministers in Creation; cp. v.26; Job 38:7.


1:3 Let there be Light: and there was Light


It does not say that Light was made. This suggests that the meaning is: Let there be Light in the earth, where hitherto there was only darkness.


The problem arises: How could there be Light before the sun (v.16)? Scripture goes further and implies that there will be Light after the sun also (Rev. 22:5).


This suggests, and other Scripture supports, that this Light in v.3 is the Shekinah Glory of God, in contrast with the “natural” light in v.15-18. Consider Ps. 4:6; 27:1; 43:3; 104:2; Is. 2:5; 58:8,10 (the Day of Atonement Glory); 60:1,3,19,20 (with v.1 compare Lk. 2:9); 1 Tim. 6:16; 1 Jn. 2:8; 1:5.


Jn. 1:4-9,14, with its palpable reference to Gen. 1, uses the Greek word phaino, which in the New Testament normally refers to the Glory of the Lord.


There can be no doubt that in Jn. 1 a parallel with Gen. 1 is being expounded. As light was God’s first great work in that Genesis creation, so also Christ, the Light which shineth in darkness, is the Beginning of God’s New Creation. John’s gospel goes on to tell how the Light shone in the darkness of Judaism, and “the darkness did not overcome,” but the Light did. It is the very nature of light to vanquish darkness.


The idea is picked up in several places by Paul. “God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts (the natural darkness!) to give the light of the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” far more than in the face of Moses (2 Cor. 4:6). “Jesus Christ... abolished death (darkness), and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10).

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:02 PM

1:4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.


This expression: “saw the light” is a strange one - pointless, in fact, unless it carries the idea of inspection of a finished work. If this is correct, then there is the further implication that the light was brought into being by angels, and then approved by the Almighty.


The subject of Light in Scripture is too full and too complex to allow of detailed review here.

But the problem immediately arises: Does light need to be divided from darkness, for where light exists darkness is not possible? The next verse supplies an answer: the division spoken of is an alternation of Light and Darkness - Day and Night. Cp. Is. 45:7.


It almost seems as though, right from the start, this word “divided, separated” is demanding a spiritual interpretation of a concise factual account of material creation, for there is a strong New Testament emphasis in this direction: “What fellowship hath light with darkness? ... Christ, Belial ... wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate ...” (2 Cor. 6:14,17 = Gen. 1:4:LXX.) “All things in the New Creation) were made by him (Jesus; literally true!) ... And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness overcame it not... The true Light, which lighteth every man (i.e. all kinds of men), was coming into the world” (Jn. 1:3,5,9).


This New Testament demand for “spiritualising” (a bad word, that) the factual record will prove inescapable all through these early chapters of Genesis.


There is a school of thought which likes to insist that, whatever the specific meaning of a Biblical term in its first occurrence, this may be taken as an infallible pointer to its meaning in every other place throughout the Book. It is a principle which the Bible itself nowhere enunciates. And indeed there are so many palpable exceptions that all real value as a mainstay of interpretation is lost.


Yet this word “divided” provides a cracking example in favour of the idea, for there seems to be hardly an instance where its use does not imply a dividing between light and darkness. It makes a splendid exercise in concordance work. Just a few examples:


a. Certain of the Gadites “separated themselves unto David” during his outlaw days. They forsook Saul (Sheol - no difference in Hebrew), to give loyalty to the Lord’s true Anointed; 1 Chr. 12:8.


b. “Separate yourselves from among this congregation” of Korah (Num. 16:21), for these latter were soon to plunge into darkness.


c. The food laws of Lev. 11 were “to make a difference between the unclean and the clean” (v.47), that is, between darkness and light (v.44). Rules which in themselves were rough and ready, and without intrinsic spiritual value, taught Israel the virtue of separateness.


d. “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God” (Is. 59:2). Darkness cannot co-exist with Light (see v.9,10); and God “clothes Himself with Light as with a garment” (Ps. 104:2).


There are many such examples of badal (Ni.Hi.) being used in this way.


And so also in a number of New Testament occurrences.


a. The LXX word for “divided” in Gen. 1:4 comes in only one New Testament passage-the Transfiguration: “As they (Moses and Elijah) departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here” (Lk. 9:33) - and then the Shekinah Glory came from the Law and the Prophets (v.30,31) to associate itself with Jesus and his apostles (v.34). Clearly, Law and Prophets have a lower status.


b. A cognate word describes Jesus as the high priest who is “separate from sinners” (Heb. 7:26).


c. “What communion hath light with darkness? ... Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord” (2 Cor. 6:14,17).


d. Paul did just this at Ephesus. When some “spake evil of the Way ... he departed from them, and separated the disciples” (Acts 19:9).


e. “The Word of God (the Bible? Jesus?) divides asunder between soul (what belongs to the natural man) and spirit (the character of the New Man in Christ)” (Heb. 4:12).


f. Alas, separation and division take place in the wrong way also. At Antioch Peter “separated himself, fearing them of the circumcision” and thus provoked the worthy indignation of Paul (Gal. 2:12).


g. Much more reprehensible were those whom Jude censured: “they who separate themselves, sensual (soulish, the natural man), having not the Spirit (no true regeneration)” (Jude 19).


h. The final division between Light and Darkness will come when “the Son of man sits on the throne of his glory,” for then “he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats” (Mt. 25:31,32). All these ideas are implicit in Gen. 1:4.

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:03 PM

1:5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.


This Hebrew verb is commonly used for naming someone, and also (just as commonly) for calling out audibly. LXX could have used a word which specifically means the former, but instead it opted for a different word which in the New Testament nearly always has the latter meaning. Then, is there here yet another hint of angels being involved in the work of Creation?


Here (and in v.14) the word “day” is used in the sense of “daylight” by contrast with darkness. In the second half of the verse it means the whole 24 hours. Yet in 2:4 it is used more generally to cover the entire week of Creation. So there is hardly room for dogmatism about any particular usage in other places.


The problem of light before the sun is usually explained with the assumption that, as on a foggy day light percolates through the mist, so also in this primeval time the earth was wrapped in cloud which obscured the sun but yet allowed light to penetrate. It cannot be taken as certain that this is the true explanation.


Wordsworth comments that light is described as being created in this world before the sun to teach foolish men the absurdity of worshipping the sun as the source of light.


The derivation and basic meaning of the Hebrew word for “day” is very dubious. Gesenius links it with a root meaning “heat”. Another suggestion is “stir, busyness.” And the word for “night” most probably derives from the verb describing the howling of wild beasts (at night-time). And these names were given there were no men to stir nor beasts to howl! Remark able!

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:04 PM

1:5 And the evening and the morning were the first day.


The root idea behind “evening” is that of mixture - the mingling of light and darkness? The same word provides the name Arabs, the mingled people.


And the word for “morning” most likely comes from amalgamation of two words signifying “the breaking forth of light.” The night of this first day would, presumably, be the primeval darkness already described in verse 2 - a very long first night?


Evening/morning (and not the reverse order) is the proper view of Day. This is made clear not only by this repetition in Gen. 1 but also by Lev. 23:32: “From even unto even ye shall celebrate your sabbath.”


Paul has a poignant reference to his “night and day in the deep” (2 Cor. 11:25). As he was floating about, hanging on to wreckage (whenever this was), did he find reassurance from his intimate knowledge that in Gen. 1 after an endless first night and day in a seemingly boundless deep, on Day 2 the dry land was made to appear (v.9)?


There is now the endlessly-discussed problem of identification of the Genesis days of creation. So many possibilities have been suggested:


a. Literal days of 24 hours - perfectly possible, of course, to the omnipotence of the Creator. But this leaves unexplained the existence of fossils and other evidences of an inhabited earth.


b. Six days of 1000 years each; this on the basis of Ps. 90:4. Here the same difficulty still exists.


c. Six long undefined epochs. This harmonizes well enough with the “settled conclusions” of geology and other sciences. But then there is the problem of assigning a suitable meaning to: “the evening and the morning were ...”


d. Six days of divine creative command interspersed with long ages during which the outworking of God’s will took place. This is distinctly possible, but it must be admitted that Gen. 1 hardly reads like this.


e. Six daily visions revealed to Moses or Adam or some primeval prophet.


The last of these seems to be the most likely.


f. It is surely obvious that if in this Creation account God’s omniscience had described to the last detail just how this amazingly complex world, animate and inanimate, came into being, then no-one - neither ancient Israelite nor clever sophisticated modern scientist - would have made much sense of it. So God has said in His Word: This is how I want you to think of Creation. This is the concept of origins that is best for you. Be content to think of things as happening like this.’


The Hebrew phrase for “the first day” is, literally, “day one” - different from v.8 etc: “the second day,” where the usual ordinals are used. This idiom is picked up in Jn. 20:1 in describing the resurrection of Jesus, “Day One” of the New Creation.


This Hebrew word echad is also used idiomatically for something important or special; e.g. 3:22; 19:9 (foremost citizen?); 22:2 (the outstanding mountain); 27:38 (the special blessing) etc; there are many such examples.

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:06 PM

1:8: And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.


The Hebrew word for Heaven presents a problem, for the only other word it can be linked with means “desolation.” A connection has been involved with an Arabic root meaning “to be high.” If correct, this still leaves the problem as to why shamaim should always be plural or dual in form. Is it perhaps possible that two Hebrew words have been concertina-ed. The meaning would then be: “there (are) the waters,” which fits this Genesis context perfectly and also explains the plural.


“Heaven” is used in several senses in Scripture. Besides its most literal meaning: “the sky,” there is, of course, its frequent reference to the dwelling-place of God, and even to the Holy of Holies, as God’s dwelling-place on earth; 1 Kgs. 8:30; Ps. 20:6,2; 11:4; 2 Chr. 30:27; Heb. 7:26. The symbolic sense, that “heavens” = rulers, needs further documentation. It needs better support than a possibly misapplied Is. 1:2.


There are problems about the “evening and morning” rubric, for after its occurrence in v.8, verses 9,10 continue the narrative from v.6,7 about waters. Also, the second day is the only one of the six which has no refrain: “And God saw that it was good;” but the third day has it twice over (v. 10,12). This suggests that at some early time a dislocation of the text may have come in. If the second half of v.8 were to be transferred to the end of v. 10, both problems are resolved - the organization of the waters is all concentrated in Day 2, and each of the six days now has its “it was good.”


The two-fold pattern of the six days goes some way to confirm this suggestion:




Light and Darkness




The lights of Day and Night.




Sea and Sky.




The creatures of Water and Air.




A fertile Earth.




The creatures of the Land.



Orthodox Jews, believing that no kind of corruption has ever overtaken the Hebrew text, concentrate on the Massoretic omission of “God saw that it was good” from Day 2 and make it a rule never to transact any business of importance on a Monday!



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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:07 PM

1:9,10. “And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth: and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.”


It is assumed here (see note on 1:8) that v.8b really belongs at the end of v. 10, thus making v 9,10 part of Day 2.


It seems not unlikely that v. 7 is describing a mighty precipitation of water as a means of bringing into existence the expanse, the “firmament”, between the waters above and those below.


Appropriately, v. 9 describes the precipitated waters now running off to be “gathered into one place,” leaving land exposed. By implication, there is here the formation of mountain ranges. The commentary on Day 2 to be found in several later Scriptures lends support to this idea. From this point of view Psalm 104 (a commentary on Is. 6:3 RVm?) is of fascinating interest:

Psalm 104


Day 1


Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment. (This might support the suggestion made regarding 1:3 that the Light was the Shekinah Glory).


Who maketh the clouds his chariot: who goeth upon the wings of the Spirit. (A reference to the Cherubim Chariot of the Lord, and to 1:2:




The Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters).




Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire. (In this context it is implied that angels were active in Creation, and that the Light involved also Fire).




Thou coveredst it (the earth) with the deep as with a garment. The waters stood above the mountains. (Are these the waters above the firmament, or the deep before formation of seas?)


Day 2


At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away. (Allusion to the Voice of God: “and God said”? Cp. Ps. 29; Jn. 12:28,29). The mountains rose, the valleys sank down (RVm). (Here is more specific explanation of Gen. 1:9).


Day 6


Every east of the field.


Day 5  


The fowls of the heaven.


Day 3,6


Grass for the cattle, and herb for the service of man.


Day 3


The trees of the Lord ... the cedars of  Lebanon, which he


Day 5


hath planted; where the birds make their nests.


Day 4


He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.


Day 1


Thou makest darkness, and it is


Day 6


night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth ... O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.



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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:08 PM

Creation in other Scriptures


The work of Day 2 is also delightfully described in Psalm 95:4,5. In the hollow of one divine hand are the mighty deeps filled with the oceans. With the other hand God shapes the dry land into plains and mountains.


So also in Psalm 33:6,7: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made (Gen. 1:1); and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth (Day 4; the Milky Way is the condensation of God’s breath on a cold day!). He gathereth the waters together as an heap (the tides?): he layeth up the depth in storehouses (arctic ice-cap?).”


Psalm 136:5-9 is more concise, but in a way more impressive: “Give thanks ... to him that by wisdom made the heavens (Gen 1:1); to him that stretched out the earth above the waters (Day 2); to him that made great lights (Day 4): the sun to rule by day; the moon and the stars to rule by night.” But then the Psalm switches abruptly to the other great marvel of God’s Creation - the fashioning of Israel as His Chosen Race (v. 10-25; cp. the shape of Ps. 19).


The Book of Job also has impressive pictures of Creation; e.g. chapter 26:7ff: “He hangeth the earth upon nothing (Gen. 1:1). He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds (Day 2). He holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his cloud upon it (Day 2; clouds between the earth and God’s throne in heaven). He hath compassed the waters with bounds (Day 2), until day and night (Day 1) come to an end. The pillars of heaven tremble (is this the formation of mountains?) ... By his understanding he smiteth through Rahab (Egypt, the crocodile; Day 5). By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens (again, God’s breath making the Milky Way?); his hand hath formed the crooked serpent (Day 4; the constellation of Draco, the Snake).”


One more example. Job 38:4ff speaks of earth’s creation “when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy (angels joining in the creative work). Or who shut up the sea with doors (Day 2)... and said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?” Here LXX includes what is a palpable reference to the creation of man (Day 6): “Or didst thou take clay of the ground, and form a living creature, and set him with the power of speech upon the earth?” (v. 14).


From these impressive passages two important conclusions are to be remembered:


1. The Genesis record was familiar to later writers. They are content to re-state in superb poetry what they have learned there. Hardly any additional details creep in.


2. There is not the slightest hint of what today would be called Science. Throughout, God is in control. It is His work. He did it - and He still does.


A rather remarkable secondary meaning of Gen. 1:9,10 positively insists on having consideration. In plenty of places where a figurative meaning is clearly intended Seas stand for Gentile nations; e.g. Ps. 65:7; 89:9; 93:3,4; Is. 5:30; 17:12; Jer. 6:22,23. It is an idea which leads on to luminous interpretations in a fair number of other passages; e.g. Is. 60:5; Jer. 31:35; Dan. 7:2,3; Rev. 13:1; 11:7; 10:2; Mt. 21:21; Lk. 17:6; Jn. 6:19; Jude 13.

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:09 PM

Now consider other details:


a. “Let the waters be gathered together.” The Hebrew could be pointed to read: “Let the waters gather together.” The verb, a very common one, very frequently means “to wait upon God,” anticipating His action or looking for His blessing.


b. “Unto one place.” This Hebrew word maqōm nearly always means “a holy place, a sanctuary, an altar.” Is the word used here because “the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters”? A prophecy of the future of the nations?


c. “The waters under heaven” (literally, from under) suggests a figure of uncontrolled Gentile nations away from God who are now disciplined and subdued.


d. “Earth” (eretz) is also, in hundreds of places, “the Land (of Israel).”


e. “Let the dry land appear” is, strictly, “let it be seen” - by whom? To this question the only intelligible answer is: By angels. Thus there is here a further hint of angels at work in Creation - and also in the consummation of the New Creation.


Thus, somewhat unexpectedly, there is presented a symbolic prophecy of the nations of the world instructed and redeemed, with the religion of Israel as the binding influence, bringing them together to one place (Is. 2:3).


Now consider Psalm 24:1,2:


“The earth (eretz) is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.” Verse 2 is not true in the world of nature. But in the world of symbol it speaks eloquently of the reign of God established. The King of Glory has come in, after battle, to his holy city.

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:09 PM

1:11-13 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: And God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day.


Of course, grass and food crops must come before animals and men: “He caused grass to grow for the cattle (so God does take care for oxen!) and herb for the service of man ... food out of the earth” (Ps. 104:14). And the herb came before the seed (the hen before the egg!) “Each after his kind” establishes the principle for all growing things and living creatures, that there is to be no over-stepping the bounds of the species. Evolutionists know right well that this is true, but have to pretend that it is not.


Grass is a commonplace symbol for the brevity and worthlessness of human life: “All flesh (all of it!), and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit (wind!) of the Lord bloweth upon it... but the word of our God (“and God said”) shall stand for ever” (Is. 40:6-8). James quotes this trenchant basic truth, interpreting “goodliness” as riches (1:10,11). Peter also (1 Pet. 1:23-25), but he interprets the Word of God as Jesus “who lives and abides for ever.” Doubtless Isaiah meant this, for his Hebrew could read: “the Word of our God shall rise up (in resurrection) for ever.”


James’s emphasis on grass being shrivelled by the sun is derived from his Lord’s teaching: “If God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is cast into the oven (the fierce heat of summer), shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” (Mt. 6:30). If a man has only a little faith he qualifies for a better fate than that of the grass. The vivid picture is drawn from Ps. 103:15: “As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone: and the place thereof knoweth it no more.”


Specially are evildoers likened unto grass (Ps. 37:2; 92:7; Is. 51:12).


By contrast with this emphasis on human weakness, frailty, and mortality, the fruit-bearing tree is a figure of the man with whom God is well-pleased. The man who eschews evil associations is “like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” (Ps. 1:3).


Again, “the fruit of the righteous is (grows on?) a tree of life” (Pr. 11:30).


Jesus chose his disciples that they should “go and bring forth fruit (converts), and that their joy should be full” (Jn. 15:16).


Paul looked to seeing God so influencing the generosity of his Corinthian converts as to “increase the fruits of their righteousness” (2 Cor. 9:10).


And the Lord Jesus was careful to harness the principle of the permanence of the species to the spiritual life also: “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” (Mt. 7:17,18).

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:10 PM

1:14,15: And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.


In Day 1 God had already “divided the light from the darkness,” and now the lights of heaven were appointed for this purpose. The suggestion was made earlier (see on v. 3) that the first Light was the Shekinah Glory. Now, that function of illumination is taken over by created lights. Some support for this idea comes from the final picture of redemption in the Apocalypse: “The city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon: for the Glory of God did lighten it” (so also Is. 60:19,20). As in so many other respects at the end of Revelation, there is reversion to God’s arrangement at the Beginning.


It should be noted also that there is a distinction in the Hebrew words. In v 3,4 “light” is or; in v. 14-16 “lights” is m’ōrōth.


The “scientific” approach to Gen. 1 poses the problem: How is it that the heavenly bodies appear only on Day 4, when it is a pretty firm astrophysical conclusion that the earth is no older than the sun, but (in a sense) “younger” than it? In answer the conjecture has been made that the “great lights” were there from the beginning but not visible in the sky because the earth was, in its early phases, shrouded in mist. But this is conjecture - a sop to the scientists. There is no obligation to find an answer to all the questions which a reading of Gen. 1 provokes.


It is easy to see in what way sun and moon are “for days, and years.” But how are they for “signs”? Certainly not for God’s people to worship, nor for omens or astrological prognostication. Dt. 4:19 sardonically emphasizes that for such purposes God has handed over the heavenly bodies to the Gentiles. God’s Israel (and His New Israel!) are to keep away from such superstition.


Is. 47:13b: “Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.”


Yet the Sun is appointed as a superb figure of the Messiah. Psalm 19 proposes the Sun in the heavens as a type of Messiah set in the teaching of the Scriptures: “In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chambers, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.” The setting and rising of the sun is to be seen as a constant reminder of Messiah’s death and resurrection. So also, just as vividly, in 2 Sam. 23:4; Mal. 4:1-3.


The idea that the sun represents ruling powers, the moon ecclesiastical powers, and the stars sundry lesser authorities has been too uncritically adopted. For the second of these items there is NO Bible evidence whatever; and the third is so vague as to be useless.

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:11 PM

On the other hand there is abundant evidence that sun, moon and stars are to be read as figurative of Israel, with a correspondence between the twelve signs of the Zodiac and the twelve tribes of Israel. Of these the four main signs are not difficult to identify from Scripture:


Taurus (the Bull):       


Ephraim (Dt. 33:17)


Leo (the Lion):


Judah (Gen. 49:5; Rev. 5:5)


Aquila (the Eagle) with Scorpio (the Serpent):


Dan (Gen. 49:17)


Aquarius (the Man):   


Reuben (Dt. 33:6)


More generally, consider Jer. 31:35,36; Gen. 37:9,10; Joel 2:10; 3:15; Gen. 22:17; Dan. 8:10; Am. 8:9; Is. 30:26; and apply to Mt. 24:29; Lk. 21:25 (= Jer. 31:35); Rev. 6:12; 8:12. In his “Astronomy of the Bible” Maunder develops this star symbolism very persuasively.


Very often the word “sign” is used with reference to a miracle with a meaning (e.g. 2 Kgs. 19:29). This leaves room for the possibility of signs in the sky in the Last Days. But let it be remembered that “signs are for them that believe not, not for them that believe” (1 Cor. 14:22).


In Phil. 2:15 Paul appropriates this symbolism to the New Israel: “a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights (luminaries) in the world.”


The great lights of heaven are for “seasons” also. This word mo’ēd, from a Hebrew root meaning “to fix”, almost always refers to feasts and other religious appointments of the Lord. In this respect the moon is dominant, for all the religious observances of Israel were decided (fixed) by phases of the moon: “He appointed the moon for seasons” (Ps. 104:19). In the sense of the four seasons of the year, this is not true; they are marked out by the sun. But in the religious sense just indicated the words are precisely correct. Mo’ēd merits a good deal of concordance investigation.


Three functions of the great lights are indicated:


1. To divide the day from the night. There is a quaint rabbinic comment: “God said, The night is required for studying the Torah, for people are quiet then and one can well study (i.e. without interruption).”


2. To fix the year and the religious calendar.


3. “To give light upon the earth - as though the earth is unique and all-important.


This last item is eloquently developed in Ps. 19:1-4: “The heavens declare the glory of God ... Day unto day uttereth speech (about his glory), and night unto night sheweth knowledge (of his handiwork). There is no speech or language (to listen to), their voice is not heard. Their line (their simple teaching; Is. 28:10) is gone out into all the earth, and their spoken words (of his praise and purpose) to the end of the world.” Paul says the last sentence is a prophecy of the preaching of the gospel (Rom. 10:18). The psalm continues, in the next two verses, with a prophecy of Messiah.


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