Tag Archives: creation day similarities

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

Given the importance of day six, we will spend at least three weeks on it – this is Part 1.

 

To fully appreciate Day Six, and all six days for that matter, I want us to make some contrasts and comparisons.

 

Six Days Comparison/Contrast:

  God Said Moses’ Comment
Day 1 “Let there be light” “There was light.”

“God saw that it was good”

“God called”

“Evening and morning”

Day 2 “Let there be an expanse”

“Let it separate”

“God asah’d the expanse”

“And separated the waters”

“And it was so.”

“God called”

“Evening and morning”

Day 3 “Let the waters…be gathered”

“Let the dry land appear.”

 

 

“Let the earth sprout”

“According to its kind”

“And it was so.”

“God called”

“God saw that it was good”

 

“And it was so.”

“The earth brought forth”

“God saw that is was good”

“Evening and morning”

Day 4 “Let there be lights”

“To separate”

“Let them be for signs”

“Let them be lights…to give light”

“And it was so.”

“God asah’d…two great lights”

“God set…” – to give light, rule, separate

“God saw that it was good”

“Evening and morning”

 Day 5 “Let the waters swarm”

“Let birds fly”

 

 

 

 

“Saying, be fruitful and multiply”

“God bara’d the tannin…every living creature that moves…every winged bird”

“According to its kind”

“God saw that it was good”

 

“God blessed”

“Evening and morning”

The “ha” Day 6 “Let the earth bring forth”

“According to their kinds”

 

 

 

“Let us asah man in our image”

“Let them have dominion”

 

 

 

“Be fruitful and multiply”

“Behold, I have given you”

“And it was so”

“God asah’d the beasts”

“According to their kinds”

“God saw that it was good”

 

“God bara’d man in his own image”

“In the image of God he bara’d”

“Male and Female he bara’d”

“God blessed them”

 

“And it was so”

“God saw everything…very good”

“Evening and morning”

 

Why?

  • It will help us appreciate just how much the second event of day six is set apart.
  • It will help us appreciate how varied the six days are in their details.
  • It will help us appreciate how much we have flattened out or domesticated the six days.

 

What do all six days have in common?

 

(1) “God said”

  • An event Moses was not witness to except by inspiration.
  • Interestingly, “let” is not a word God spoke in the Hebrew text.
  • It is more like, “Lights be in the expanse” (vs. 14), or “Waters swarm with swarms” (vs. 20).
  • The Message has, “Lights! Come out!” and “Swarm, ocean with fish…”
  • This is called divine fiat language.

 

(2) Moses comments

  • Moses comments on each of God’s fiats.
  • He explains the significance/effect of God’s speaking.
  • And many believe his comments to be phenomenological.
  • In other words, Moses is explaining the effects of God’s words as they relate to him/Israel – his perspective.

 

(3) Morning and Evening

  • Each day contains the “morning and evening” phrase.
  • And as we saw, amongst all of the scholars we surveyed, only Walton and Sailhamer take this to denote a literal day.
  • However, we also saw that to have a literal day requires a literal sun, an earth spinning around its own axis, and an earth orbiting around the sun at the proper distance.
  • For those who take a literal day view, but don’t believe the sun was created until day four, there is a problem with advocating for a literal day.

 

How are the six days different?

 

If each day only has few details in common, its worth seeing what they don’t share in common:

  • There might be six days but there are eight events – two days have two events.
  • Being called good is not a feature of all of the days or events.
  • God’s words never include “bara”.
  • God called” is not a feature of all of the days or events.
  • And it was so” is not a feature of all of the days or events.
  • Only one time does God use a word for make/create and it is “asah”.
  • Similarly, no word for create/make is a feature of all of the days or events – even from Moses.
  • According to their kinds” is not a feature of each event.
  • Blessing is not a feature of all of the days or events.

 

Now, some of these differences may be insignificant.

  • And there is certainly great unity in the midst of all the days’ diversity (Mathews and Wenham).
  • Unproductive Becomes Productive Days 1-3 // Uninhabited Becomes Inhabited Days 4-6
  • Day 1 – Light // Day 4 – Luminaries
  • Day 2 – Sky // Day 5 – Birds and Fish
  • Day 3 – Land (Plants) // Day 6 – Animals and Man (Plants for food)

 

Yet, understanding that differences exist should caution us against an approach to Genesis 1 that flattens it out and domesticates it.

 

This caution is all the more legitimated given the importance in Hebrew that patterns play.

  • Repetition, Chiastic Structures, Palistrophic Patterns, Numeral Symbolism, etc.
  • Moses certainly uses these in Genesis 1.
  • However, under inspiration, he did not write the six days in cookie cutter fashion – as we just saw.
  • So the fact that the six days are so varied demonstrates there is a lot more stuff going on here than we learned as kids.

 

How is day six different from every other day?

  • The second event of day six contains features that no other event/day contains.
  • These differences set it apart drastically from the other days and events.

 

What sets day six apart?

  • It contains the first poem of the Bible.
  • The divine fiat language represented by “let” is modified with “asah”.
  • Similarly, this is the first event of the eight that has God using a word for “make”.
  • Moses uses the word “bara” three times.
  • Man, unlike the other living things, is not made according to kinds.
  • Man is made in the image of God.
  • The plural form of Elohim is used as revealed with the word “us”.
  • The “God said” formula also includes the decree that “man” will have “dominion over” the other living things.
  • The “God said”/author comment formula occurs three times – more than any other day.
  • Day six is set apart and called “the sixth day” in Hebrew with “ha” – the other days aren’t.
  • Day six ends with the proclamation that creation as “asah’d” by God is not just good, but “very good”.

 

It is worth noting some wisdom from Gordon Wenham about how we view Genesis.

“The ancient oriental background to Gen 1–11 shows it to be concerned with rather different issues from those that tend to preoccupy modern readers. It is affirming the unity of God in the face of polytheism, his justice rather than his caprice, his power as opposed to his impotence, his concern for mankind rather than his exploitation. And whereas Mesopotamia clung to the wisdom of primeval man, Genesis records his sinful disobedience. Because as Christians we tend to assume these points in our theology, we often fail to recognize the striking originality of the message of Gen 1–11 and concentrate on subsidiary points that may well be of less moment” – Gordon Wenham.

  • This failing to recognize tends to happen when we flatten out the text.
  • From this vantage point – mountainous not flat – we can dive into day six the next couple of weeks.

 

I would like to end this lesson with a strange question.

  • We often refer to the six days as the six days of creation.
  • Given what we have just seen, what would be a more textually literal way to refer to the six days?

 

How about the six days of speaking?

  • Kenneth Mathews says, “‘And God said’ is the recurring element that gives 1:1–2:3 cohesion as he is the primary actor”.
  • And importantly, “God’s authority is demonstrated by the efficacy of his spoken word”.

In fact, “Creation by word stands in stark contrast to Mesopotamian cosmogony. In the mythopoetic stories of the ancient Near East, the ordered universe owed its existence to a cosmogonic struggle whereby ‘cosmos’ resulted from the victorious clash of a hero deity overcoming a monster who restrains order” – Kenneth Mathews.

  • Moreover, God’s speaking history into existence “has no correspondence among pagan nations” – Mathews.

 

John Sailhamer puts this view as follows:

“What the writer wants most to show in this narrative is not that on each day God ‘made’ something, but that on each day God ‘said’ something. The predominant view of God in this chapter is that He is a God who speaks. His word is powerful. As the psalmist who had read this chapter said, ‘By the word of the Lord the heavens were made’ (Psalm 33:6). Thus, often when God speaks, He creates. But that is not always the case in this chapter” – John Sailhamer.

 

A focus on God’s speaking, His word, would seemingly highlight all the more the significance of John 1:1 and its allusion to Genesis 1.

  • John 1:1 (ESV) — 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
  • Creation is not the star of Genesis 1, God is.
  • And this is the case even in the NT.