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Genesis 1-2-3-4

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:11 PM

1:16-19 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth. And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from darkness: and God saw that it was good.


And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.


These two great lights are specially mentioned in Psalm 136:7-9 as mighty works of God, and then the psalm goes on immediately to recite God’s mighty acts in saving and guiding Israel, thus providing incidental support for the symbolism expounded under v. 14,15.


The Hebrew text seems to favour the reading: “two of the great lights,” as though implying knowledge of other great lights - the stars.


“And the stars” seems to come in as a superb afterthought. Yet consider what is comprehended in that very brief phrase! Again, there is emphasis on the earth as the centre of God’s Creation. All is done for this Earth and the life on it.


Yet for all there are so many heavenly bodies and they are spoken of here so casually, the omnipotence of God controls each separate one, right to the furthest recesses of space - and there is recent claim of identification of a quasar at a distance of 13,000 million light years, and one light-second is seven times the circumference of the earth. “He bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names, by the greatness of his power” (Is. 40:26).


No wonder that David, considering God’s heavens, gasped at the contrast: “What is man that thou art mindful of him?” (Ps. 8:3-5).


The Babylonian Marduk epic of creation, from which (say many moderns) the Genesis record is derived, has a good deal to say about this Day 4 of Creation because, of course, the Babylonian religion was entirely astrological. Moses bluntly warns against this with his almost curt phrase: “and the stars.”


Here the narrative reads almost as though God made the great lights and then appointed that they should fulfil the functions now assigned to them.

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:12 PM

1:20 “And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.


Here is the first occurrence of “living soul.” The phrase means any living creature. Here, fishes; in v.30, all living things; in 2:7, man.


Jacob applied the figure of fishes multiplying to foretell the prosperity of Joseph’s descendants, thus foreshadowing a multitude of Gentiles in the gospel net: “Let them grow (lit: swarm as fishes; AVmg.) into a multitude ... a multitude of nations” (48:16,19), which last phrase Paul applies to “the fulness of the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:25).


The same idea is continued in the Lord’s two fishing miracles. The first of these (Lk. 5:1ff) is to be interpreted in its symbolism of the great catch of all kinds of fishes in the gospel net. The latter, coming after the resurrection, prefigures the ultimate “catch” of “great fishes” brought to Christ in the new day when the disciples cease from their fishing. In both miracles all the details need to be examined for special significance.


Some commentators try to insist that this verse 20 teaches the origin of birds from the water. In this they may be influenced by (a) the Babylonian myth which has great flying creatures emerging from the waters; (b) the evolution dogma that birds did so originate. However such a conclusion is not readily traceable in the text even if “and” be read as “even”.


The Hebrew is literally: “And let bird (collective noun) fly upon the earth upon the face of the firmament of the heavens.” This is clearly the language of appearance - birds seen flying against the backcloth of the sky. So perhaps such other verses as v.14 are also to be read as the language of appearance.

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:12 PM

1:21: “And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and a every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”


The Hebrew word tanninim does not refer to whales exclusively but covers all large creatures associated with the water; e.g. Job 40:15ff: the hippopotamus; 41:1ff: the crocodile. These great creatures are repeatedly presented as symbols of impressive human empires. In Is. 27:1: Assyria and Egypt. In 51:9, Egypt. In Jer. 51:34, Babylon. In Ps. 74:13, Egypt (probably). In Ps. 8:8 these creatures are less directly referred to as “whatsoever passeth through the paths of the sea” (but why this phrase when the sea is utterly trackless, ocean currents? fish migrations?) All of these are to be subject to Messiah, “the Son of man” (v.4-6).


The 153 “great fishes” in the last sign of John’s gospel (21:11) seem to be a designed allusion to this fifth day of Creation, and help to explain why the word bara’ should be used, somewhat unexpectedly, here; for, unquestionably, Jn 21:1-14 foreshadows the New Creation when Christ appears again to his disciples. (On this, see “He is risen indeed,” ch.16.)


Ps. 104:26 is intriguing, with its possible meaning: “leviathan, whom thou hast formed to play with him” - a lovely picture of angels playing games with mighty sea creatures, and with the empires they symbolize!


The only New Testament reference is to Jonah’s whale (Mt. 12:40), a figure of the strongest empire of all, the last enemy to be destroyed.


These creatures, like all the rest, are to multiply, but only “after their kind.” Here is laid down the continuing law of life on earth - the permanence of the species. Here are boundaries which no amount of scientific research and contrivance can overpass. All cross-breeds go sterile or revert to type. So evolution is an impossibility.

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:18 PM

1:22,23 “And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.


There is a blessing on all living creatures, that they might multiply; but no blessing on the heavenly bodies. Already there are enough of them!



1:24,25 “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.


This creation of land creatures is summarised under three headings:


(a.) Cattle - animals suitable for domestication; the Hebrew word derives from a root meaning “dumb”. In the plural form (an intensive plural surely, meaning “the great dumb beast”); behemoth is used in Job 40:15ff to describe the hippopotamus.


(b.) Creeping things. These “creepy-crawlies” are the creatures with many legs. Basically the Hebrew word means “trampler.”


(c.) Beasts of the earth; that is, the vast number of animals that live wild and are normally untameable.


A problem arises as to the different order of these classes, as listed in these two verses. It is a problem which is accentuated by attention to v. 26,28,30 - and also 2:4ab. There is no known explanation of these variants.


These verses present other problems also.


“Let the earth bring forth” is followed by “And God made ...” Are these two ways of saying the same thing? Or is it that first the creatures were fashioned and thereafter the process of generation on the earth took over? But if so, why the unexpected order?


Also, by contrast with v. 22,28, there is no divine blessing on their continuing to multiply. For what reason should there be such an omission? Is it just taken for granted here?


The question has also been raised as to whether Day 3 included the growth of poisonous plants and, in Day 5, the creation of carnivorous beasts preying on each other. This last is a considerable question, for a vast proportion of nature, from the smallest insects to the largest beasts, seems to involve predatorial needs and instincts.


The prophetic pictures of Paradise restored (e.g. Is. 11:6-9; 65:25) suggests that the present order in which one species preys on another is the result of curse and degeneration from a more idyllic system. If it be argued (as it could be) that Isaiah’s prophetic pictures are symbolic, then can it not also be argued that a symbol which has no factual reality behind it is evacuated of meaning?

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:23 PM

1:26: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”


Here the word “man” is singular, not because only one man was being made (for it was the Almighty’s intention that man should multiply), but because such a singular is the Hebrew way of expressing the collective idea; e.g. “the fruit tree” (v. 11) means ‘all kinds of fruit trees;’ compare also Gen. 5:2.


The Hebrew word for “man” - adam - has unmistakable links with a variety of other words in the Old Testament: adamah, the red ground, the clay soil, as distinct from black alluvium; adōm, red; Edom, the red man living in the country of red rock; dam, blood etc.


The words “image” and “likeness” have a variety of very suggestive associations, especially in the New Testament:


(a.) “Verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Surely every man walketh in a vain shew” (Ps. 39:6; literally: “in an image”, of his own devising? or in an image not of his Creator but of his fallen forefather? “Adam begat a son in his own likeness, after his image” (5:3). Likeness to Elohim must not be over-stressed at the expense of man’s kinship with the beasts. He was made out of dust on the same day as they; like theirs, his “multiplying” was blessed; and he was appointed the same food (v. 29,30). At the same time, “in our image” utterly denies man’s evolution from a lower state.


(b.) When Jesus was challenged about the problem of paying tribute to Caesar, it was Caesar’s coin that gave the decisive answer: “Whose is this image? - Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s” (Mt. 22:20). Then, if man is stamped with the image and likeness of God must he not give himself back to God, wholly, fully, and without reserve? Compare Ps. 100:3: “It is he that hath made us, and we are his” (this is how the Hebrew text should read; King James’s men missed the confusion here between lo and lo’ in Hebrew).


(c.) “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his Head (i.e. Christ) - For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God” (1 Cor. 7:4,7). But how untrue it is that any man - except Christ! - is the image and glory of God. Only because the believer is in Christ and has the great worth of Christ imputed to himself can these words of Paul be said to have any real truth.


(d.) “As we have borne the image of the earthy, so we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Cor. 15:49). This is the last of a sequence of antitheses:



The first Adam




The last Adam


A living soul    




A quickening spirit.


First, that which is natural.




Afterward, that which is spiritual.


The first man is of the earth, earthy.




The second man is the Lord from heaven.


As we have borne the image of the earthy ...           




We shall also bear the image of the heavenly.


Here the second column plainly refers to Christ, but not to Christ in the days of his flesh. Every detail requires reference to the Lord returning in power.


About the first column there is some ambiguity. Does it refer to the fallen Adam and those who inherit his characteristics? Or is it to be read with reference to Christ as a member of this fallen race? In favour of this latter reading is the consideration that by no means all who bear the image of the earthy Adam will come to bear the image of the heavenly Lord. But all who truly bear the image of the earthy Christ (the Lord in his human weakness) will assuredly be made like him in his glory. 

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:24 PM

(e.) “The light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4) presents the Lord as the beginning of a New Creation. The ensuing reference to “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (v. 6) encourages the idea that as heavenly glory was seen in the face of the Lord on more than one occasion during his ministry, so also the first Adam’s intimate association with angels and the glory of his Creator would mean that in his face also was a radiant reflected glory, only to be lost through disobedience.


(f.) There is another unmistakeable allusion to Genesis 1 when Christ is described in Col. 1:15 as the Beginning of a New Creation: “He is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all (the New) Creation.” The rest of that complex passage is consonant with this allusion, but further exposition of it is too far away from the present topic.


(g.) Just as fallen Adam begat sons “in his own likeness, after his image” (5:3), so also Christ, the second Adam: “Ye have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Col. 3:10).


(h.) Rev. 13:14,15 has a superb dramatic antithesis to the foregoing. Men make an image of the Beast, the false Christ. And those who do not worship this image are slain.


(i.) On Mars’ Hill Paul could hardly quote Genesis as the authority for his message, for his intellectual and learned audience knew nothing of the Hebrew Scriptures. But it is easy to trace the revealed truth of Genesis 1 as the backbone of part of that noble oration: “God that made the world and all things therein - giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one (man) all nations of men - that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him - for in him we live, and move, and have our being - we are the offspring of God . ..” (Acts 17:24-29).


It is difficult to be sure just what difference of meaning is to be understood between the words “image” (tźélem) and “like- ness” (d’muth), for they seem to be used interchangeably; e.g. 1:26; 5:3. There is, apparently, a difference of emphasis in the prepositions, but although this distinction is not too clear in the Hebrew text, the intention in the New Testament allusions is not to be mistaken (as will be seen by and by). Thus, anticipating the trend of passages to be examined, “in our image” would appear to refer to physical resemblance, and “after our likeness” to imply growth into a spiritual imitation of the divine character.


(a.) The mordant difference between 1:26 and 5:3 is caustically summed up in Ecc. 7:29: “God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.”


(b.) Another biting contrast with 1:26 is in Ps. 58:3,4: “The wicked go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. Their poison is after the likeness of a serpent.” Here three separate phrases look back to Genesis.


(c.) “To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?” (Is. 40:18). Then follows a withering exposure of how men prefer to produce an imitation of God - not in their own characters (the intention expressed in Genesis), but by making a debasing graven image. God must be content to be made like fallen man in his perversity and sin! “Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself” (Ps. 50:21). “They changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man” (Rom. 1:23). Paul has both words here. Another man’s perverted idea of the imitation of God was to make himself into a brutal despot over all the world that he knew. Said the king of Babylon: “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Is. 14:14).


(d.) Yet even the angels of heaven fail in their imitation of the Almighty: “Who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord?” (Ps. 89:6). “Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight” (Job 15:15 and context).


(e) Nevertheless the ideal is set before frail mortal man: “Put ye on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and holiness of truth.” The Genesis background to these words is not to be missed - and also in the context: “Put off ... the old man which is corrupt according the deceitful lusts. ... put away lying ... neither give place to the devil” (Eph. 4:22-27).


(f.) James seems to make very inappropriate appropriation of God’s words in Genesis: “With the tongue curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God” (3:9). But when it is realised that the apostle writes concerning strife in the ecclesia amongst men who are supposed to be newborn into the likeness of God in Christ, the words are apt enough.


(g.) The reaction of men of Lystra to the message and marvels of Paul and Barnabas is usually referred to a local legend about a visitation of Zeus and Hermes: “The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.” But the context encourages a belief that Paul had been preaching the true story of Creation: “The living God which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein - he gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:11,15,17).


(h.) In several impressive passages Paul underlines that the only way in which fallen man can be made after the likeness of God is through the Son of God being “made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7 - at least four other allusions to Genesis in the immediate context!). “God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom. 8:3).

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:26 PM

The plural verb: Let us make”, is the Trinitarian’s vain attempt to get to first base. Why should this be read as implying three and not more? John Calvin, himself a rigid Trinitarian, had to admit: “From this place many Christians infer the doctrine of three persons in the Godhead, but I fear the argument is not valid.” It might surely be argued more cogently that Man is a trinity, for the next verse uses the word “create” three times regarding him!


That plural: “Let us make,” has been explained in various other ways. A great favourite - the royal “we” - is quite without Bible support. Jewish exposition - Philo, Targum, Josephus, Rashi - has always been in favour of reference to angels co-operating with the Almighty in the great work, and there is no lack of evidence in support of this:


(a.) “The man is become as one of us, to know good and evil” (3:22).


(b.) “Let us go down, and there confound their language” (11:7).


(c.) “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us (the seraphim)?” (Is. 6:8).


 The picture of heavenly counsel and co-operation, in 1 Kgs. 22:19ff.


It is true that “And God said” uses a singular verb, but this is quite in harmony with items © (d) just mentioned.


It is not to be supposed that the divine name Elohim normally means angels, God’s mighty ones, for in most places it is simply an intensive plural for “The Mighty One” (such intensive plurals are common in the Old Testament). But there are some instances worth noting:


(a.) “Thou madest him a little lower than (the) Elohim” (Ps. 8:5) is certainly given reference to angels in Heb. 2:8.


(b.) “As a prince hast thou had power with Elohim” (Jacob’s wrestling with the angel; Gen. 32:28). “I have seen Elohim face to face” (32:30).


(c.) “She (Hagar) called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me” (Gen. 16:13).


That angels were involved in the work of Creation is intimated in a number of places. Some in the list now given have already been mentioned incidentally.


(a.) “And God said...”, implies communication - with whom? So also: “God called . ..,” not “God named”.


(b.) “Let the dry land be seen ...” (v.9). Seen by whom?


(c.) “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth - when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God (Dan. 10:6) shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7).


(d.) “Praise ye him, all ye his angels” (Ps. 148:2), coming at the beginning of a long recapitulation of Genesis 1, implies angels both working and praising.


(e.) The first half of Ps. 104 has copious references to the Creation. Almost at the beginning there is this: “Who maketh his angels spirits, his ministers a flaming fire: who laid the foundations of the earth ...” (v. 4,5), as though implying angelic participation.


Over against these hints are the explicit declarations: “I am the Lord - that stretcheth forth the heavens above; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself” (Is. 44:24). “With whom took he counsel?” (40:14). But these statements are readily explained by their context: The Almighty needed no co-operation from the futile gods of the Gentile nations. It is a deliberate repudiation of the creation myths centring round Assyrian and Babylonian deities.

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:26 PM

1:26: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.


Here the text does not include “over all the beasts of the earth,” but has “over all the earth.” The Syriac text has the former reading. But it may be that “over all the earth” was intended to be read commonsensically as meaning just that (Ps. 8:7). It is a detail of relatively small importance, except perhaps as reflecting on the possibility of textual corruption (see on v.8).


Man’s dominion over the rest of Creation was not intended to be a reign of terror, but the Almighty foresaw (9:2) that because of man’s fallen nature that is what it would become. Next to man’s wholesale corruption and destruction of his fellows, the devastation of the world of nature has become one of the greatest of man-made evils (Jas. 3:7 is a very mild statement).


As a result of the Fall, the true fulfilment of this divine mandate devolves on Christ, the true Son of man: “Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thine hands: thou hast put all things under his feet: all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the sea” (Ps. 8:5-8). Messianic fulfilment is insisted on in Heb. 2:6-8; 1 Cor. 15:27,28.


During the Lord’s ministry there were clear tokens of his qualification to fulfil this Scripture. In his cleansing of the temple he asserted his authority over not only men of wealth (Ps. 49:6,7,12,14) but also over sheep and oxen and birds (Jn. 2:14,15; Mt. 21:7) - and other dumb beasts (Mk. 5:13); in the wilderness, over wild beasts also (Mk. 1:13); in his miracles of plentiful catches (Lk. 5:6; Jn. 21:6), and, in his provision of the atonement shekel (Mt. 17:27), over the fish of the sea; walking on the water (Mt. 14:25,26) he was at ease in the paths of the sea; he was even the master of greater than the greatest whales (Mt. 12:40); serpents and scorpions he could give into the hand of unconfident disciples (Lk. 10:19,21).


Payne Smith’s Genesis contribution in the Ellicott Commentary is a poor affair, but the following is worth quoting:


“There is in this first book a vast array of figures, types, indications, yearnings, hopes, fears, promises and express predictions, which advance on words like an ever-deepening river, and when they all find a logical fulfilment in one way, the conclusion is that that fulfilment is not only true, but was intended.”

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:26 PM

1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.


The repetitious phrasing here - “created ... in his image” - seems designed to emphasize something more than physical resemblance to angels. It is intended surely to stress also the spiritual possibilities of this latest creation of God. The same thing is underlined, too, by the contrast between “let the earth bring forth ... cattle etc.” (v.24) and the repeated “God created” (v.26,27). Very evidently, even if it were possible to read the evolution of the lower orders into the record up to this point, the marked change of phrasing here disallows such a possibility regarding man.


South has an admirable comment on man as he was first made and as he is now: “We may collect the excellence of the understanding then (that is, of the first man) by the glorious remainders of it now, and guess at the stateliness of the building by the magnificence of its ruins ... And certainly that must needs have been very glorious, the decays of which are so admirable. He that is comely when old and decrepit, surely was very beautiful when he was young! An Aristotle was but the rubbish of an Adam; and Athens but the rudiments of Paradise.”


And yet the creation of man is assigned to the same day as the creation of the beasts; and whereas it is said about them “and God saw that it was good,” it is not so said about man! - presumably because of what was, from the first, possible in his experience but not in theirs: the Fall!


With the characteristic ability of the moderns for getting things the wrong way round, the Century Bible observes:


“In order to enhance the importance of the creative act and the dignity of man, God invites the co-operation of His heavenly ministers in this supreme work.”


But of course, as has been seen already, the angels were busy in Creation from the beginning. And here there comes in a possible explanation of the not inconsiderable finds by palaeontologists of remains of earlier man-like beings - Cro-Magnon man, and so on. It seems unlikely, because of physiological differences and indications of a greater age than the human race, that these are genuine ancestors of man.


But Scripture teaches that the angels, although immortal, have certain limitations in their physical and mental powers (Gen. 32:26; 22:12; 18:21; 2:2,3; Ex. 31:17; 23:12; Dan. 10:13; 12:6; 8:13; 9:21 RVm; Zech. 1:12; Mt. 24:36; 1 Cor. 4:9; 1 Tim. 3:16; 1 Pet. 1:12; Eph. 3:10; Lk. 19:25; Job 4:18; 15:15; 1:9,10; 38:7).


It is consistent with this teaching about angels to assume that in Creation they would need to learn their job, and would by degrees work up to higher standards of accomplishment. Hence earlier less suitable man-forms (and indeed of much else in Creation). This seems to be a possibility; but only the foolish would feel justified in dogmatism regarding it.


Remarkably, the phrase: “male and female created he them,” is used about the human race, but not about the lower creatures. Can it be that this is said only about man because the propagative union of the animals is not marriage as God sees and designs it regarding man and woman? Yet in the story of the Flood this detail is repeated regarding the creatures (7:3,9,16) - another indication that fallen man has brought himself nearer to the level of the beasts?


It is not difficult to see why the Hebrew word for “female” should be cognate with “belly” and possibly the word for “pierce.” But why should “male” be practically identical with the word for “remember”?


In his doctrine of marriage Jesus quoted this Genesis passage as the unimpugnable foundation: “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female?” - the point of the argument being that the words “male” and “female” are singular; then if at first God made only one man and one woman, did He intend divorce to be part of that social order?


Malachi, inveighing against a fast-and-loose attitude to marriage, used the same argument from Genesis: “Yet is she ... the wife of thy covenant. And did not he (the Almighty) make (husband and wife) one? ... And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed” (2:14,15). Alas, in so many instances, the broken family practically guarantees an ungodly seed.

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:27 PM

1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.


In modern English, the word “bless” whilst palpably a good word is very elusive of definition. In the Old Testament there are three main ideas:


a. Fruitfulness and increase, emphasized here by “Be fruitful and multiply.” In this sense “bless” comes often in the Promises to the Fathers; e.g. Gen. 12:2; 17:16; 24:1,35; 26:12; and especially 22:17; 28:3; Jer. 23:3 RV. In the natural sense: Dt. 15:4,6,10,14,18. When Jesus blessed the loaves and fishes they were multiplied (Mt. 14:19). Mary, with her baby, was blessed as the one who should herself enjoy a large family and in due time a much larger spiritual family (Lk. 1:42). Is there a similar meaning in Eph. 1:3? And in Mt. 26:26 is the emphasis to go on the forgiveness of sins (as in v.28 and (b) here), or is the Lord’s prayer of blessing an indirect instruction to succeeding generations of the need for constant repetition of this sacrament?


b. The forgiveness of sins, and the happiness this brings; Ps. 62:4; 109:28; 118:26. The great promise to Abraham: “In thy seed shall all families of the earth be blessed” (22:18) is expounded by both Peter and Paul as meaning the forgiveness of sins: Acts 3:26; Gal. 3:26; Gal. 3:8 (“justify”!). See also this meaning in 1 Cor. 4:12; 10:16; 1 Pet. 3:9.


c. Ascribing to God all such benefits, as coming from Him. See concordance for an abundance of examples, especially in the Psalms; e.g. 103:1.


“Be fruitful and multiply” was repeated in Gen. 9:1,7 when creation and the human race started again after the Flood. But the real force of these words belongs to the New Creation: Acts 6:1,7; Is. 51:2,3. But all through history men have perverted this natural fertility. Itself a created thing, they have made it a god, the deity of many a foul religion - and not least in the 20th century.


Man’s dominion over the lower creation has been signified not only by his power to slay but also by his power to tame. But, James adds (3:7,8), in the New Creation there is one animal that no one can tame, until Messiah comes; the wayward undisciplined teacher in the ecclesia (note 3:1 RV, 13-18). But this does not mean that in the New Creation no effort should be made to restrain this untamable force.

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:28 PM

1:29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.


There are two noteworthy omissions here. Grasses, the third category of growing things mentioned in v. 11, and all kinds of flesh. It has been argued from the emphasis on man’s dominion (v.28) that animal flesh may be inferred as part of human food, but this seems doubtful. Remarkably, the next verse fails to mention seeds and fruit as being food for birds and animals. If these can be taken for granted, then why not flesh for man? On the other hand it may be that after the Fall there was a general change in the eating habits of all living things, men turning to flesh, birds to seeds and fruit, and all nature becoming red in tooth and claw, predatory on other species. Not enough is told about these things to build up a clear picture.


The words “I have given you” plainly imply instruction of the first pair by the angels.


And Paul’s allusion to this place becomes the ground for an exhortation that, since God gave last year’s seed for this year’s sowing and its ensuing abundant harvest, the man of faith, confidently depending on God’s generosity for the future, will emulate his Maker’s kindness by his generosity to others: “Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness” (2 Cor. 9:10).


One writer has observed that the foods assigned for man mostly need preparation, and thus by divine sign there has come into being the family meal and the family spirit inseparable from it.


It makes an interesting question whether “every tree” specified here was intended at first to include the two special trees (2:9), or was the prohibition in 2:17 an exception brought in later and only made necessary because of the special planting of a special garden in Eden?


The word “meat” in this passage is, of course, old English for “food.” The LXX word here is that used by Jesus in John 6:27: “Labour not for the food which perisheth, but for that food which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you” - fruit of the Tree on which he was crucified.

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:28 PM

1:30 “And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.


There is no mention here of cattle or fishes. The former are doubtless intended to be included with “every beast of the earth,” although v.24 makes a distinction. Are fishes not mentioned because their food was unknown to man or of little concern to him?


All living things are spoken of as “soul of life.” This word nephesh, one of the commonest in the Old Testament, means “a principle or faculty common to animals and man, the animal life” (Century Bible). Its different shades of meaning all share this main idea. It might be the life of a man (1:24,30; 2:7,19), by contrast with a soul of death (i.e. a corpse; Num. 6:6); the appetites and thinking of the natural man (Is. 29:8; Num. 11:6; Pr. 25:25; Job 24:12; 6:11); self (Ps. 3:3; 9:4); any kind of animal or living thing (Gen. 2:19; 9:10).


“I have given” (AV italics) needs to be supplied to carry on the meaning from v.29.


Whereas seeds and fruits were assigned for the food of man, to wild and domestic animals grasses were appointed. Thus man and creatures were all vegetarian - until the Fall or the Flood? “He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth” (Ps. 104:14 - a psalm full of allusions to Creation). But “wheresoever the carcase is, thither will the vultures be gathered together” (Lk. 17:37).


In the present dispensation “every creature of God is good (for food), and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim. 4:3,4).


In the age to come “the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid ... the lion shall eat straw like the ox ... They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain” (Is. 11:6-9) - or is this language merely symbolic?


Either way, certain details in the feeding of the five thousand suggest an anticipation of the Messianic age: “He commanded them to make all sit down by companies upon the green grass (s.w. Gen. 1:30) ... and they did all eat, and were filled (grassed, foddered; same root as ‘grass’)” (Mk. 6:39,42).

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:28 PM

1:31. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.


Days 1 to 5 have: “God saw that it was good.” Now, because Creation has come to its climax with the making of man, “very good.” In the Hebrew text there is also a further emphasis, for unlike Days 1 to 5 here there is a definite article in the phrase: “the sixth day.”


Yet how could God see this creation of man as a thing in which to rejoice (Ps. 104:31), since He knew of all the wreck and ruin that human sin was to bring into the world? The place where those words come in Ps. 104 explains. Most of the psalm describes the Creation of Genesis 1. Then: “Thou hidest thy face; they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust” (v.29). This is the Fall of Genesis


Then: “Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are (re-) created: and thou makest new the face of the earth (adamah; cp. Adam - fallen man).” Then: “The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works.”


It seems possible that Mk. 7:37 makes reference to Gen. 1:31, but again with the idea of a New Creation. After Jesus had made “the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak” (and the blind to see; 8:25), that is, as life was given to the deaf, dumb, blind Adam made from dust of the ground, so now Jesus symbolically demonstrated his powers to bring fallen men to a New Creation; and the discerning, seeing the force of this, said: “He hath done all things well.” They, as well as God, saw that it was good.

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:29 PM

Commentary on Genesis, Ch. 2


2:1. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.


This new chapter begins in the wrong place. The proper new beginning is at verse 4.


The word for “finished” has the intensive idea of all done (Heb: kalah., Pu., linking with the common word for “all”). Normally “the host of heaven” means the stars; but here, with reference to the earth as well, the host of living things is included.


There is, however, a completely different way of reading this verse. Out of 250 occurrences (approximately) of “finished,” there is only one other example (and that doubtful) of this Pual pointing. The Masoretes may have been wrong here. The alternative presents itself: “And they, even the host of them (i.e. the angels; as in 1 Kgs. 22:19). finished the heavens and the earth.”


On the cross, on the sixth day, the Lord Jesus exulted with head uplifted that “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30). And, in the sixth vial, in the time of his second coming, “a great voice from the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, it is done” (Rev. 16:17).

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:29 PM

2:2a. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made.


The implication behind the first phrase here is that some work was done on the seventh day. (Would a man who is fired on Friday say that he finished that employment on Saturday?). Then, what work on this seventh day? The only possible answer seems to be: The making of Eve during Adam’s sleep in the hours of darkness inaugurating the seventh day. Very differently, the great rabbi Rashi (11th C.) explained that after six days’ work the only thing lacking was Rest, so God made this on the seventh day. This is hardly Rashi at his best.


However, Septuagint and Samaritan and Syriac versions all read here, “the sixth day.” This sounds right; note v.1. and that this also eliminates the seeming repetition of v.2a in v.2b.


This phraseology about the finish of God’s work is echoed in the accounts of the completion of the Tabernacle (Ex. 39:43; 40:33) and the Temple (1 Chr. 28:20; 2 Chr. 5:1). Indeed nearly every Old Testament occurrence of this word “work” is associated with the building of Tabernacle or Temple or City - or with the community of God’s redeemed. This last is worth further investigation:


a. Psalm 104 has a long recapitulation of God’s work of Creation: v.1-28. The psalm goes on: “Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.” This is the Fall: Gen. 3. But then a New Creation: “Thou sendeth forth thy Spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth. The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works.”


b. Psalm 145: “I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works” (v.5). What wondrous works? “Thy great goodness ... thy righteousness ... his tender mercies are over all his works” (v.7-9) - which last phrase shows clearly that the “works” specially under consideration are God’s New Creation of redeemed men and women. Hence: “All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee (note the parallelism). They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power” (v.10,11). In all this psalm the emphasis is on God’s works, His saints. They are the Creation that really matters.


c. Compare also Ps. 77:11-20 (the making of Israel); 111:2-9.


d. In John’s gospel Jesus repeatedly speaks of his work as being that of the Father. Just as the first creation is spoken of as the work of God and His angels (His “sons;” Job 38:7), so now the Father and the Son together fashion a New Creation. “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (4:34). “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work ... the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do bear witness of me” (5:17,36). “I must work the works of him that sent me while it is day” (9:4). “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (17:4ff).


e. Luke’s introduction to Acts refers to his gospel as “all that Jesus began to do ...”, using the very phrase of Gen. 2:3 LXX, but with a significant change from aorist to continuous infinitive.


f. There is also the unexpected commentary on v.3 in Heb. 4:4,9,10 (see below on this).


Once again it becomes evident that in Genesis the New Creation is more important than the old material creation.

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:30 PM

2:2b. And he rested on the seventh day from all his work


In what sense is the phrase: “God rested,” to be understood, for “he fainteth not, neither is weary” (Is. 40:28)? To explain it, some have coined a grandiloquent polysyllable: anthropopatheticism, which means ‘speaking of God as though He has all the feelings of a man.’ Certainly there are other examples of this; e.g. “my fury shall come up in my face” (Ez. 38:18); “I will look upon it (the bow in the cloud) that I may remember the everlasting covenant ...” (Gen. 9:16).


The only alternative to this thoroughly Biblical explanation is to read these words with reference to the creative work of angels, bearing in mind what has already been shown (see on 1:27) regarding the limited powers of the angels.


This view finds support from various sabbath references:


“In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed” (Ex. 31:17).


“Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox (etc.) ... may be refreshed” (Ex. 23:12; cp. 20:11).


It might be of some significance that the Hebrew words for “work” and “angel” are almost identical. And the rather unusual shape of sentence in v.3 here, with the word elohim inserted where it appears to be unnecessary, might also suggest a distinction between the Almighty and His angels.


This rest of God not only has reference to what is long past; it also looks forward. After a superb picture of the Messianic age (65:17-25), Isaiah represents the Lord as seeking His own rest after the perfecting of this New Creation: “The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool, where is the house (sanctuary) that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?” (66:1). What can then be given to God which is not His already? - “for all those things hath mine hand made.”


There is only one exception, specified in the next verse: “the man that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my Word.” God’s best resting-place in the age to come is in the free will of a man who has learned to submit himself wholly to the will of his Maker.

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:30 PM

2:3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.


What was the nature of this blessing on the seventh day? In 1:22,28 the blessing is defined by the words: “Be fruitful and multiply.” Can the same sense apply here? Yes, if the words be read with reference to knowledge and instruction in the ways of God: “that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you” (Ex. 31:13). God sanctified the day, and He sanctified the people who kept it - provided they observed it in the right spirit and not with the soulless formality and punctilious attention to a hundred man-made (rabbinic) scrupulosities, “the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath” (Mk. 2:27); when Jesus said that, was he arguing from the fact that man was made on the sixth day and the sabbath on the seventh?


The common explanation of “sanctify” as meaning “to make separate” (and of “holy” - same root in Hebrew - as meaning “separate”) can be quite misleading if the emphasis is on “separate from (the world and its way)”. Essentially the idea is that of “separated to,” i.e. devoted to God and His service. Hence the word “sign” (Heb: mo’ed) in Ex. 31:13: “the sabbath a sign between me and you throughout your generations” - it is a word which always signifies a holy day, a time of special religious observance.


The spirit of the sabbath is well defined by Isaiah: “If thou ... call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words ...” (58:13), the promised reward is: “then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord ...” In other words, the blessing for finding pleasure in a special sabbath service of God will be an increasing pleasure in the holiness God asks for! Thus, “Be fruitful and multiply” applies in a very real spiritual sense.


Sabbath observance is first found as an explicit requirement in the Ten Commandments, but there are clear signs before Exodus 20 that it was part of the patriarchal law:


a. “Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8) seems to imply an existing familiarity with the sabbath before Israel came to Sinai.


b. The strong emphasis on the sabbath in the account of the first giving of manna (Ex. 16:23,26,29,30) - again, before Israel came to Sinai - requires familiarity with this institution.


c. “Ye make the people rest (lit: sabbath) from their labours,” Pharaoh roughly complained (Ex. 5:5).


d. In a remarkable analysis, based on the one assumption that months alternated between 29 and 30 days, John William Burgon established that all the nine significant events in connection with the Flood fell on the same day of the week, which - he surmised plausibly - was a sabbath:


1. Noah and his family entered the ark.

2. The Flood began.

3. The ark rested on Ararat.

4. The waters ceased to prevail.

5. The raven and dove were sent out.

6. The dove was sent out again and returned.

7. The dove was sent out yet again.

8. Dry ground. The covering of the ark removed.

9. Noah and his family came out of the ark.

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:31 PM

After mention of the seventh day there is no sign of the “evening and morning” rubric which comes in all the other six. So far as the primary creation is concerned this seems not at all appropriate, but regarding further reference to the New Creation this omission is fitting enough, for “there shall be no night there” (Rev. 21:25), only an endless day.


In harmony with this is the fact that our Lord finished his work on the sixth day (Good Friday) and rested in the tomb on the seventh (Easter Saturday).


The last phrase: “which God created to make” also seems to imply a further purpose, further activity, a new and better work. (But there is a problem here in the different LXX reading which derives confirmation from Lk. 1:1. This problem of varying LXX readings used in the New Testament seems never to have been squarely tackled).


It is not inappropriate here to consider the symbolic significance of the seven creative periods of Genesis 1. The idea that each day is to be seen as representing one thousand years (Ps. 90:4) is very popular, even to the point of dogmatism. But there are difficulties:


a. By the most conservative estimates archaeological evidence points to more than four thousand years B.C.


b. On this thesis the end of each thousand years should provide a well-defined turning point. But the end of the first and the fifth provide nothing of the sort; and in this respect the second also is doubtful.


c. The starting-point of this theory is the one thousand years of Rev. 20. But it is not at all certain that that period is to be read literally.


An alternative approach which is free from all these difficulties looks for seven creative periods in the purpose of God working towards the new Creation. Thus:


1. Adam to Noah.

2. Noah to Abraham.

3. Abraham to Moses.

4. Moses to David.

5. David to Jesus.

6. Jesus to Christ (the Second Coming).

7. Christ to God (the Kingdom;     1 Cor. 15:28).

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:31 PM

2:4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created.


Here LXX has “the book of Genesis of ...,” and hence the name of this first part of the Pentateuch; it comes in 5:1 also.


This is also the first occurrence of the rubric which meets the reader of Genesis - no less than eleven times: “These are the generations of ....”


The suggestion has been advanced by Wiseman that in accordance with Babylonian practice this expression marks the conclusion of a section of the history. He observes that each section could have been compiled by the one whose name is mentioned; thus, for example, there is nothing in “the generations of Jacob” (37:2) which would not be known to Jacob. There follows the easy idea that a collection of these records could have been inherited by Moses and put together to make Genesis, with a minimum of editing.


The idea is attractive, and has indeed been too readily and uncritically received by many. It needs to be recognized that there are difficulties still unexplained. For instance, “the generations of Ishmael” (25:12) are all about Isaac, and “the generations of Isaac” are all about Ishmael. “The generations of Esau” comes twice (36:1,9), the first time as subscript to a section all about Jacob, and the second time in the middle of a section about Esau; and “the generations of Jacob” is also all about Esau. Mysteriously there is no “generations of Abraham.” When this formula occurs at the end of the Book of Ruth (4:18), it clearly does not refer back but forward. And so also, but not necessarily, in Mk. 1:1.


It is clear that a new account of creation begins at verse 4, not at variance with what has already been told, although this is often glibly asserted, but certainly with a different emphasis. Now, in what amounts to an expansion of the Day 6 revelation in chapter 1, man, in his relation to his Maker, is the centre of the picture. It is not impossible that here Moses was guided to make use of some other source of information for his record. There are so many signs in the Old Testament of historical compilation and editing that it would be futile to assert dogmatically that nothing of the kind happened but that all was, so to speak, given by direct divine dictation. Always it needs to be recognized that not enough is known about this aspect of Holy Scripture for confidence in any theory.

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:32 PM

2:4 In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.


Appropriately the divine name changes at this point from God to Lord God, the name which emphasizes the Almighty as a God of Purpose and Promise and Covenant.


This Name YHWH is confidently asserted to be Yahweh, meaning “He who will be.” But indeed there is more of confidence than of strong Biblical evidence for such dogmatism. The meaning of the Name is undoubtedly “He who is and was and will be” (Rev. 1:8). There is no lack of evidence in support of this reading. And Biblical names such as Jehoshaphat and Elihu (there are many more) support the conclusion that the Name should be read as Y’-ho-wah, with plainly implied meaning to any Israelite: “Shall-is-was,” a simple equivalent of “which is, and was, and is to come.”


There are a number of places in the Old Testament where the text swings from Elohim to Y’howah with special significance, as in Genesis 22:1,8,11ff and in Psalm 19 which first extols the glory of God (Elohim) in creation and then the grace of God (Y’howah) in His Word and His redeeming Purpose.


If verse 4a belongs to the preceding narrative (and this seems to be required), then re-punctuation of the AV is called for, so as to read: “In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, also every plant ...,” this being the beginning of the new and fuller account.


It is difficult to see why the usual phrase is here reversed to “the earth and the heavens” (and also in Ps. 148:13). Is it perhaps another “New Creation” hint that the Purpose of God is to culminate in redeemed men and women of earth who in Christ achieve a higher status than that of angels in heaven?

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