Tag Archives: sixth day of creation

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.



Genesis 1:24-31 – Sixth Day of Creation – Part 2


What was created on day six?

Does the use of “livestock” imply that God created some animals already domesticated?

Or does this word indicate the phenomenological perspective we discussed last week?


What is the “elohim” and “us” business?

What is “made in our image” and “likeness” stuff?

Why is God’s word “asah” and Moses’ word “bara” for the creation of man?


Why would the creation of image bearers be on the same day as land animals?


Is it significant that male and female are specified for mankind?


Why point out the disbursement of food for both the land animals and mankind?



Two Events:

First Event – Verses 24-25 give us the first event of day six.

  • Land animals make their appearance.
  • Three types are mentioned – “livestock”, “creeping things”, and “beasts of the earth”.
  • Moses confirms that it was God that “asah’d” these animals.
  • Like all life, God is their source of being.
  • Much of what can be said here has been said in previous lessons.


Second Event – Verses 28-31 give us the second event of day six.

  • Here we encounter the appearance of mankind – “adam”.
  • As we saw last week, there are a number of textual things going on that significantly set this event apart from the other 7.
  • Today we will deal with a number of these.
  • Next week we will contend with Walton and Sailhamer’s view of day six.



Let Us – “Elohim”:

“Elohim” is used throughout Genesis 1, but here we encounter the first plural pronoun – “us” and “our”.

  • As would be expected, there is disagreement about what this means.
  • There are at least 4 common views.


(1) Plurality within God

  • It “may point to plurality within God” or the Godhead – Heiser.
  • But not in the Trinitarian sense formulated by the Church Fathers.
  • Wenham tell us, “It is now universally admitted that this was not what the plural meant to the original author” – Gordon Wenham.
  • Heiser agrees, “an ancient Israelite or Jew would never have presumed this”.
  • He points out that there is nothing in the context that would limit the plural to just three.
  • And, that taking “Elohim” this way would cause serious problems in Psalm 82, for example.
  • Kenneth Mathews says, “Although the Christian Trinity cannot be derived solely from the use of the plural, a plurality within the unity of the Godhead may be derived from the passage”.
  • Trinitarian Christians read Trinity into the text anachronistically.


(2) Plural of Majesty

  • This is a “grammatical use of the plural that points to a fullness of attributes and powers” ascribed to God.
  • However, there are Hebrew textual reasons why this “does not represent a coherent explanation” – Michael Heiser.
  • Wenham agrees, “‘we’ as a plural of majesty is not used with verbs has led to the rejection of this interpretation”.


(3) God’s Self-Deliberation

  • “This interpretation sees the plurality only in rhetorical terms; it describes the way someone might deliberate within him or herself over some decision” – Heiser.
  • Another example of this appears in Isaiah.
  • Isaiah 6:8 (ESV) — 8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”
  • The idea is that we are seeing God “in contemplation” – Mathews.


(4) “An Announcement to the Divine Council/Heavenly Host” – Heiser.

“The plural language in Gen 1:26 is God announcing the decision to His angelic imagers that, as things are in the heavenly realm, so they will be on earth” – Michael Heiser.

  • Wenham says this has been the traditional view for the last 2000 years.


Where do our scholars come down?


Three for the Divine Council/Heavenly Host.

  • Michael Heiser – “The most likely explanation for the plurality in Gen 1:26 is that God—the lone speaker—is announcing His intention to create humankind to the members of His heavenly host (Psa 82; 89:5–8).”
  • Bruce Waltke – “The explanation that better satisfies all such uses of the pronoun is that God is addressing the angels or heavenly court (cf. 1 Kings 22:19–22; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Ps. 29:1–3; 89:5–6; Isa. 6:8; 40:1–6; Dan. 10:12–13; Luke 2:8–14)”.

Gordon Wenham – “‘Let us create man’ should therefore be regarded as a divine announcement to the heavenly court, drawing the angelic host’s attention to the master stroke of creation, man. As Job 38:4, 7 puts it: “When I laid the foundation of the earth … all the sons of God shouted for joy” (cf. Luke 2:13–14).”


Two for the Plurality within God.

Victor Hamilton – “According to Clines [another scholar], God here speaks to the Spirit, mentioned back in v. 2, who now becomes God’s partner in creation. It is one thing to say that the author of Gen. 1 was not schooled in the intricacies of Christian dogma. It is another thing to say he was theologically too primitive or naive to handle such ideas as plurality within unity.”

  • Kenneth Mathews – “Here the unity and plurality of God are in view.”




“In Our Image”:

What does it mean to that we are created in the image of God?

  • Why is it so significant?


Historically, there have been a number of views.

  • But as of late, most seem to be coalescing around one.
  • “During this latter half of our century the dominant interpretation, though not new (e.g., Chrysostom), has become the ‘functional’ one, that the ‘image’ is humanity’s divinely ordained role to rule over the lower orders” – Mathews.


BTW – We need to make one quick note on “after our likeness” to explain why we aren’t dealing with it.

  • Because Wenham says that “likeness” means “according to or after the pattern of” our image…
    • It is most likely that no distinction is being made.
    • Significantly, many suggest that “likeness” is important because it may operate to show we are not the exact image of God – like Jesus, for example.
    • Whatever the case, image is where we need to hang out.


Some common, but out of vogue views are as follows:

  • Our ability to reason or other physical attributes.
  • Our spiritual attributes – body/soul/spirit.
  • Our ability to be in relationship with God.


Image Bearer as Representative/Vice-Regent:

The “functional” view that has come to dominate is simply this…

  • Image means that we are God’s representative or vice-regent.
  • The TWOT simply says, “having dominion over God’s creation as vice-regent.”
  • Mathews says, “Mankind is appointed as God’s royal representatives (i.e., sonship) to rule the earth in his place.”
  • Wenham says, “the divine image makes man God’s vice-regent on earth”.


Heiser also says “selem” (image) is a status or function – to represent God on earth.

  • For this reason, he thinks it is best to think of “selem” as a verb.


This is for one simple reason.

  • Nobody has a clue as to what aspect of humanity is the image of God – what the old definitions attempted to define.
  • “Selem” as representative “merely describes the function or the consequences of the divine image; it does not pinpoint what the image is in itself” – Gordon Wenham.
  • “Although Genesis tells who is created in the ‘image of God,’ both man and woman (1:27; 1 Cor 11:7; Jas 3:9), it does not describe the contents of the ‘image.’” – Kenneth Mathews.

In fact, Hamilton says, “It is clear that v. 26 is not interested in defining what is the image of God in man. The verse simply states the fact, which is repeated in the following verse.”


Our ignorance on this matter is similar to our understanding of a born again heart.

  • Scripture is clear (Ezekiel 36 and John 3) that our hearts are remade and transformed.
  • The exact nature of this change from stone to flesh eludes us.
  • However, we know that life in Christ is impossible without this event.


So what does it mean to be God’s representative/vice-regent?


Mathews puts it simply…

  • “Mankind is appointed as God’s royal representatives (i.e., sonship) to rule the earth in his place.”


The text itself makes this clear.

  • Genesis 1:26 (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.”


Psalm 8, most agree, also captures this view and alludes to Genesis.

  • Psalm 8:5–8 (ESV) — 5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, 7 all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
  • The writer of Hebrews identifies Psalm 8 with Jesus’ incarnation to emphasize His humanity.


The idea of representative/vice-regent may also contain the following.

  • If God’s “us” refers to an announcement to the Heavenly Host/Divine Council an interesting parallel may be in view.
  • “In speaking of men being made in God’s image, [Genesis 1:26] is comparing man to the angels who worship in heaven” – Wenham on Mettinger.
  • The Heavenly Host are the spiritual creatures that function to serve/worship/represent God.
  • Mankind are the physical creatures that function to serve/worship/represent God.
  • In this way we are the material analog of the spiritual Heavenly Host.
  • However, it must be noted that nowhere does Scripture say the Heavenly Host are created in the image of God.


Victor Hamilton also wants to point out the following concerning our dominion:

“Man’s divinely given commission to rule over all other living creatures is tempered, or better, brought into sharp relief, by the fact that such dominion does not allow him to kill these creatures or to use their flesh as food. Only much later (9:3, post-Flood) is domination extended to include consumption.” – Hamilton.


Why is being made in God’s image so significant?


1) Gordon Wenham gives us a great answer.

  • “Because man is God’s representative, his life is sacred: every assault on man is an affront to the creator and merits the ultimate penalty (Gen 9:5–6)” – Gordon Wenham.
  • So because every human is born with the image status/function, the significance of “image” is not just vertical.
  • It is also horizontal.


What does this say about our obligations to other “adams”?

  • What does this say about the meaning of life?


2) Michael Heiser points out the following significance.

  • He says that as we “image” God we become more like Him.
  • How do we know this?
  • 2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV) — 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.


3) That “adam” is made in the image of God says something about Jesus as “adam”.

  • Thought it must be said that Christ’s image is distinct from ours.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:4 (ESV) — 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
  • Colossians 1:15 (ESV) — 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
  • Jesus is the ultimate imager, the apex imager.


4) Because of this, those that are in Union with Christ “image” in a different way.

  • Romans 8:29 (ESV) — 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
  • By our Union with Christ, we participate in the Trinity and thus the “image” in profoundly different ways from unbelievers.
  • This “imaging” will be fully consummated at our resurrection.


5) There is a parallel between man and the tabernacle.

  • “It must be observed that man is made ‘in the divine image,’ just as the tabernacle was made ‘in the pattern’” – Wenham.
  • We may flesh this out in a later lesson.


Another ANE Polemic:

Bruce Waltke says this of the image polemic.

“In ancient Near Eastern texts only the king is in the image of God. But in the Hebrew perspective this is democratized to all humanity. ‘The text is saying that exercising royal dominion over the earth as God’s representative is the basic purpose for which God created man,’ explains Hart. He adds, ‘man is appointed king over creation, responsible to God the ultimate king, and as such expected to manage and develop and care for creation, this task to include actual physical work.’ Finally, in the context of Genesis, the image refers to the plurality of male and female within the unity of humanity. This concept is also distinct from the ancient Near Eastern perspective” – Bruce Waltke.


Victor Hamilton points out another polemic.

  • In ANE creation stories, “Man is created as an afterthought, and when he is created he is predestined to be a servant of the gods. There is nothing of the regal and the noble about him such as we find in Gen. 1” – Hamilton.
  • As we have said before, Genesis 1 is in many ways anthropocentric.
  • We are the point of creation, not an afterthought.


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”



  • 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.