Tag Archives: ane polemic

Genesis 1:24-31 – Sixth Day of Creation – Part 3

Creation of Man:

Genesis 1:26–27 (ESV) — 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

 

We will see shortly that within our cast of scholars, only John Walton rejects what all the others embrace.

  • In the second event of the sixth day of creation, we have the special material creation of mankind by God.

 

Why do they see this as the special creation of mankind?

  • Remember, for some, when “bara” was used with “tannin” on the fifth day it was to give emphasis to a polemic against the godly/chaos/sea creatures of many ANE cultures.
  • Moses was making clear that in fact, God made the “tannin” they aren’t eternal.
  • They are not autonomous creatures – they were part of the creation in Genesis 1:1 (for Sailhamer and Mathews, e.g.).

 

So why is Moses’ use of “bara” with man not seen this way?

 

(1) We have already seen how the second event is set apart textually.

  • Some textual distinctions were the poem; God’s use of “asah”; Moses’ use of “bara”; made in God’s image not according to kinds; made male and female; etc.
  • These are massive clues that something very special is taking place.
  • For example, “The unique repetition of the word ‘create’ (bārāʾ) intensifies this significant act. Humanity is uniquely shaped by the hand of God” – Bruce Waltke.
  • And, “Unlike the animals, who are said to have come from the land in v. 24 (though v. 25 makes clear that God created them), mankind is referred to only as a direct creation of God” – Kenneth Mathews.

 

(2) God’s use of “asah” parallels Moses’ use of “bara” and so is to be taken as a synonym.

  • Mathews says, “Here the parallel between v. 26 (‘Let us make’) and v. 27 (‘So God created’) indicates that they are virtual synonyms” – Kenneth Mathews.
  • That they mean the same thing when used in parallel is buttressed by a passage in Genesis 2.
  • Genesis 2:4 (ESV) — 4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created [bara], in the day that the Lord God made [asah] the earth and the heavens.

 

We will see how Sailhamer and Walton approach this later.

 

 

Blessing on Mankind:

Genesis 1:28 (ESV) — 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

 

We saw a few weeks ago the first blessing of the Bible.

  • It was pronounced on the fifth day to the water animals and flying animals.
  • The blessing was that they would be fruitful and multiply.

 

But the blessing on mankind has some important differences from the blessing given in verse 22.

 

(1) It contains the command to “have dominion over”.

  • Part of our responsibility as image bearers.

 

(2) And it also contains God’s first ever words to mankind.

  • God said to them…
  • “…drawing attention to the personal relationship between God and man” – Wenham.

 

(3) It also highlights the importance of pointing out mankind was created male and female (vs. 27).

  • The nature of the blessing, “carries with it an implicit promise that God will enable man to fulfill it” – Wenham.
  • Therefore, “We have a clear statement of the divine purpose of marriage…it is for the procreation of children” – Wenham.
  • Additionally, “human sexuality is of a different sort from animal procreation: human procreation is not intended merely as a mechanism for replication or the expression of human passion but is instrumental in experiencing covenant blessing”.
  • The blessing to be fruitful and multiply.

 

BTW – And this divine blessing to be fruitful and multiply with its man/woman emphasis is itself another ANE polemic.

“It is a rejection of the ancient oriental fertility cults. God desires his people to be fruitful. His promise makes any participation in such cults or the use of other devices to secure fertility not only redundant, but a mark of unbelief” – Wenham.

 

(4) There is also a huge theological implication that arises from the blessing to be fruitful and multiply.

  • It is the beginning of a “theological keyword linking the history of the cosmos and of humanity (chaps. 1–11) with the promises to the patriarchs (chaps. 12–50; see Introduction)” – Mathews.

 

We know this for a number of reasons:

  • 1) “It is repeated to Noah after the flood (9:1)” – Wenham.
    • Genesis 9:1 (ESV) — 1 And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.
  • 2) The patriarchs “are reminded of this divine promise (17:2, 20: 28:3; 35:11)” – Wenham.
    • Genesis 28:3 (ESV) — 3 God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples.
  • 3) It is believed that indirectly that, “The genealogies of Gen 5, 9, 11, 25, 36, 46 bear silent testimony to its fulfillment” – Wenham.
  • 4) And interestingly, “On his deathbed Jacob publicly notes the fulfillment of the divine word (48:4; cf. 47:27)” – Wenham.
    • Genesis 48:4 (ESV) — 4 and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a company of peoples and will give this land to your offspring after you for an everlasting possession.’

 

OT Gospel:

A huge implication of this is that we have yet another example of the Gospel in the OT.

  • Abraham was called out of the wilderness into the Promised Land.
  • He was unable to have children and yet God made a promise involving his offspring.
  • Genesis 15:5 (ESV) — 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

 

And about this Paul said,

  • Galatians 3:8–9 (ESV) — 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”
  • Why?
  • Galatians 3:16 (ESV) — 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.

 

Christ is the fruit and seed of this blessing made in Genesis 1.

  • I can’t help but think that the genealogies in Matthew and Luke are demonstrating fulfillment of God’s Genesis 1 blessing.
  • Procreation itself was pointing to the birth of the Messiah.
  • The ultimate offspring, blessing and image bearer.
  • BTW – It was also from the “eretz” of Gen. 1 – the Promise Land – that the Messiah would arrive and arise.

 

 

The Food:

We asked in our observation last week what was significant about God outlining who eats what in verse 29-30.

  • Genesis 1:29 (ESV) — 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.
  • The answer is another significant ANE polemic.
  • “God’s provision of food for newly created man stands in sharp contrast to Mesopotamian views which held that man was created to supply the gods with food” – Wenham.

 

 

Not Good but Very Good:

On every day but the second day, God saw that creation was good.

  • On the sixth day, however, all of creation is called “very good”.
  • Mathews sees this as follows…“Now the earth as a result of God’s ‘Spirit’ and animated word is well-ordered, complete, and abounding in life-forms under the watch care of royal humanity” – Mathews.
  • Wenham says this phrase is used here to “emphasize the perfection of the final work”.

 

Importantly, as with the blessing, there is also a significant parallel at work here concerning the land – “eretz”.

  • On the sixth day, God says all of creation – including the eretz – is very good.
  • Specifically He says, “it was very [mĕʾōd] good.”

 

Fast forward to Joshua and Caleb in Numbers.

  • Numbers 14:7 (ESV) — 7 and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land.
  • In other words, they declare, “that this ‘land is exceedingly [mĕʾōd mĕʾōd] good’” – Mathews.

 

Why is this significant for Mathews’ and Sailhamer’s local view?

  • The eretz (the promised land) prepared in Genesis 1 as the geographical context for God’s blessing on mankind is finally on the cusp of restoration after 400+ years of exile in Egypt.
  • For Joshua and Caleb, “the specific appointment of Canaan’s land [eretz] was God’s good creation for them” – Mathews.
  • An allusion to Genesis 1 – connecting the Promised Land of Joshua to the eretz of Genesis 1.