Series: The Creation of Everything

Notes on Genesis Chapter One

The Creation of Everything

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1)

The Hebrew text reads from right to left. The first word "Bereshith" begins with the Hebrew letter B (bet). Israeli physicist Gerald Shroeder, author of Genesis and the Big Bang, points out in his book that the reverse cup-shape of Bet marks the very beginning of the creation, and the letter points to the left---in the direction of all that is to follow. Furthermore Bet means "house" (Bethlehem means "house of bread," for instance). We gain the immediate insight that the universe is a house to be inhabited. The verb "created" in verse one has two objects, "the heavens" (plural), and "the earth." The universe is a house, a dwelling, having an "upper story" inhabited by God and the angels, and a "lower story" populated by animals, men and other creatures of the material realm.

Bereshith, by the way, does not mean a well-defined beginning at a point in linear time. Ordinarily we think of time as stretching from infinity past to the "beginning" of history, continuing through the "present," on to the future, then to the "end" of history and eternity future. This is a constraint we have put upon ourselves which is consistent neither with modern physics nor with the Bible. It is because we are fallen creatures that we are imprisoned in linear time in the first place. There are other dimensions of time and other clocks and calendars operating in the spiritual realm, and God Himself dwells outside of time. (See Time and Eternity) Creation week was a unique, never-to-be-repeated sequence of happenings during which "time" the ordinary laws of physics were suspended, (see The Uniqueness of Creation Week).

For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite. (Isaiah 57:15 )

The entire Universe as a "House"

In the Upper Room Discourse, His last intimate teaching time with his disciples before the Cross, Jesus said, "In my Father's house (the universe), are many rooms ("nests"); if it were not so would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am there you may be also." (John 14:2, 3)

In Isaiah 66:1 the Lord declares,

"Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool; what is the house which you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest?"

Here we are told that the earth is a mere footstool and all the stars and galaxies in our presently-known universe are but one chair in God's "house"---the universe. This symbolism suggests that the ultimate universe contains not only additional items of "furniture" but other "rooms" as well!

An Outline of Genesis One with Notes

The first Chapter of Genesis properly ends in the middle of verse four of Chapter two.

If the text of Genesis One is broken up into subsections it is easy to see the activity of God step by step in the creative work of the seven days of creation. There is a sequence f events which suggests a flow of "prototime," though there are no clocks at that time.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning [bersehith] God created [bara] the heavens [shemayim] and the earth [eretz].

2 The earth was without form and void [tohu waw bohu], and darkness was upon the face of the deep [tehom]; and the Spirit of God was moving [rachaph] over the face [paniym] of the waters [mayim].

3 And God said, "Let there be [hayah, from the verb "to be"] light"; *and there was light.*

4 And God saw [ra'ah] that the light was good [towb]; and God separated [badal] the light from the darkness.

5 God called [qara'] the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

Action verbs abound in Genesis One! God's first action was to bring into existence the dual realms called "the heavens and the earth." This is another way of saying, "In the beginning God created space, time and matter." In my opinion, Genesis 1:1 is not an introduction, nor is it a summary---as some commentators have suggested. Immediately it is clear that God's work in creation will be to make an invisible realm (called in the New Testament "the heavenly places"), plus a material universe. "Heavens" is plural in verse one indicating (a) the lower atmosphere, (b) the stellar heavens, and (c) the "third heaven" where God dwells, (2 Corinthians 12:2).

The Observer present during creation week appears to be observing from the earth. This point of view gives rise to various models of Geocentricity. That is, our planet is the true center of the universe. See Absolute Geocentricity.

Eretz is a common Hebrew word often meaning "land" ---as in "eretz yisrael," "the land of Israel." Here eretz evidently refers to all forms of matter. Having created space, time, and matter the Observer (God himself) notes that the universe is as yet "unformed and unfilled." "Tohu wabohu" can mean chaotic or wasted, and is so used elsewhere in the Old Testament. But, regarding the use of the term in Genesis One, the leading Hebrew scholar H.C. Leupold says, "Both terms together then indicate two directions in regard to which the newly created world will undergo further changes: first, it must be shaped and formed into definite molds; secondly it must be peopled with all kinds of inhabitants or beings" (Exposition of Genesis, Baker Books, 1942, pp. 46-47).

In Isaiah 45:18 God tells us that his purpose in creating the universe was that it should not be left in an unfinished state:

For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it a chaos, he formed it to be inhabited!): "I am the LORD, and there is no other.

Parenthetically we are told that immediately after the opening statement of 1:1 and 1:2 that the Third Person of the Trinity, the Spirit of God was present, and was hovering, or moving over the "face" of the waters. Here we have a hint of the role of the Spirit in creation, shaping and forming, imparting life, and energizing the creation. The same word translated "brooding" is later used to describe a mother eagle brooding over her young chicks, (Deuteronomy 32:11). This suggests the personal, loving, caring, nurturing characteristics of the Spirit.

We can infer from other passages of the Bible that the design of the universe originated in the Mind of God the Father. In Genesis when we encounter the expression "God said" we have a reference to the activity of the Son of God who spoke the universe into existence by a series of commands in response to the Father's wishes. The term "God said" occurs ten times in Genesis One (verses 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, 28, and 29).

The second of God's creative actions was the command "Let there be light." As with all of God's commands when He speaks to nature or to the void, the response is instantaneous, "And there was light." The expression "Let there be..." occurs 15 times in Genesis 1.

There is great mystery here in the creation of light (photons) since the New Testament teaches that God Himself is Light. God is not the Father of Photons!

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. (I John 1:5)

Paul speaks of God as dwelling in "unapproachable light,"

I charge you to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, and this will be made manifest at the proper time by the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

Evidently God is veiled constantly from our sight by clouds of thick darkness.

"The LORD has set the sun in the heavens, but has said that he would dwell in thick darkness." (I Kings 8:12)

Some have suggested that the light brought forth on command on Day One was direct spiritual light from God Himself. However, I believe the command "Let there be light" resulted in the creation of energy in the form of photons of all possible energy levels. "Light" was then the fourth working substance---along with space, time and matter---from which the Lord would mold and craft the universe. Matter and energy are today known to be equivalent, however it is reasonable that God's raw material for the subsequent stages of construction of the universe consisted of atomic elements as building blocks, as well as a reservoir of universal energy which would be modified and placed, for example, into the sun and stars on Day Four. James 1:4 calls God the "Father of the lights" referring to the stars.

The earth may or may not have been formed as a rotating sphere on Day One. However in some way we probably can not now grasp or adequately describe, light and darkness were divided on Day One by some kind of barrier. Job Chapter 38 offers further clues.

"Naming" in Genesis indicates that God pauses to assign attributes to various entities, such as Night and Day and so on. Later He will personally teach Adam the meaning of things, and Adam will, in turn, be given the job of analyzing and naming the animals.

The Days of creation begin in the evening and move to morning, as does the present custom of marking days in the Jewish culture.

6 And God said, "Let there be a firmament [raqiya`] in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters."

7 And God made [`asah] the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. *And it was so.*

8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

The Second Day of creation involves two main activities by God. A boundary, here called a "firmament," is established in the midst of the previously undivided "waters" (plural). The Hebrew word raqiya means "to stretch out"---as one stretches out a tent. There is a wide range of opinion about what this term does or does not mean. Traditional commentators have suggested that God moved the boundary zone He had placed in the waters, expanding some of the waters out to the vast reaches of space. In doing this, some of the waters could easily have ended up in the lowest level of the heavens, namely in the upper atmosphere, to form a vapor canopy---which is thought to have collapsed at the time of the Flood. Much of the primeval water could have been pushed out to the outer boundaries of the universe. Our English word "heaven" is from the verb "to heave" which preserves the concept of an original expansion of the universe early on in creation week.

Big Bang cosmology suggests the universe began with a burst of light which condensed into matter. The whole universe is thought to still be expanding according to this hypothesis. It is more likely that the universe was stretched out to its maximum diameter on Day Two and has remained static ever since. Initial stretching out of space would have involved the step-input of a large amount of energy. However after Day Two the universe was static, i.e., not expanding further. If this is the case, one must look for alternate explanations for the red-shift of light from distant galaxies. (See abstracts on other cosmologies and papers on the constancy of the speed of light and possible consequences. Also see The Origin of the Solar System).

9 And God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear."*And it was so.*

10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas [yam]. And God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, "Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind [miyn], upon the earth." *And it was so.*

12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

13 And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.

The idea that dry land was originally brought forth out of the waters is taken for granted in the Apostle Peter's explanation of the earth as it was created and as it existed prior to the Flood, (2 Peter 3). Psalm 104, a hymn to the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, infers the same thing. The earth did not begin in a molten state as commonly portrayed in older school books. Recent texts more commonly depict the formation of the earth as a cooler process (see Concerning the Early History of the Earth).

The separation of dry land from water and the creation of an atmosphere has put in place a habitat, an environment which can support life. By command, the Son of God then spoke into existence various forms of plant life, each "kind" equipped with its own unique genetic coding information which allows replication of the original forms. Evidently the programming code contains a great deal of redundancy---allowing tremendous variation and adaptation within each kind. (See The Complexity of the Genetic Code).

14 And God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs ['owt] and for seasons [mow`ed ] and for days [yom] and years [shaneh],

15 and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth." *And it was so.*

16 And God made [`asah] the two great lights, the greater light to rule [mashal] the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also.

17 And God set [nathan = to set or appoint] them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth,

18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.

19 And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.

The Fourth Day corresponds to Day One. Light (or) was created on the first day. Now on Day Four we have the creation of the "light-holders" (ma'or). God has previously established a fundamental boundary layer between Night and Day. Now this boundary layer is sculpted and assigned to the sun, moon, stars, and planets. Thus the length of the Day in earth's history was established as the time it takes for one rotation of the earth on its axis.

Furthermore, the stars and their order (establishing the constellations), the movement of the earth around the sun, and the earth's relationship with other planets, meteors, comets and asteroids were all assigned the task of measuring those events which would be of significance to earth's inhabitants. The "clock" used in counting time in the Bible---the motion of sun, moon, earth and starts, relies on Newton's Law of Gravity and is commonly called "dynamical time."

It has been often noted by commentators that the sun is a wonderful symbol of Jesus Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, and the Moon, a picture of the church. The church rules the earth during the visible absence of her Lord, but she shines not by her own light source, but only by reflecting the greater light of Christ. The second coming of Christ will banish the present darkness of our world and bring the Light of Life to all mankind.

20 And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms [sharats = bring forth abundantly] of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens."

21 So God created [bara] the great sea monsters and every living creature [nephesh] that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

22 And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.

23 And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.

Day Five corresponds to Day Two. Having stretched out the heavens to form an atmosphere and having formed the Seas---on Day Two, the Creator filled the lower heavens with birds and flying creatures, and the seas with fishes and other aquatic animals. Some of the higher forms of animal life are described as being nephesh, that is as having souls, as does man. The animals are charged with being fruitful and multiplying according to their implanted genetic programming.

24 And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds." *And it was so.*

25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the cattle according to their kinds, and everything that creeps upon the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

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 air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth."

27 So God created [bara] man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

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 air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth."

29 And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." *And it was so.*

31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.

The Sixth Day is full of activity! The higher forms of animal life are brought into being and man is created. The Persons of the godhead---having counseled together---undertake the creation [bara] of man as Adam/Eve. The details of this work are amplified in Adam's account of creation---Adam's diary---which commences in Chapter 2:4b. (See Made in the Image of God) In this second chapter of Genesis, man is commanded to be fruitful and to assume stewardship over creation, but he soon forfeits this role. It will take the work of Jesus Christ, the Second Adam, to restore man to his rightful place as master over creation on God's behalf. (See Hebrews Chapter 2:5ff).

Genesis 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host [tsaba'] of them.

2 And on the seventh day God finished [kalah = completed] his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done.

3 So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation.

KJV: "3 And God blessed [barak] the seventh day, and sanctified [qadash] it: because that in it he had rested [shabath ] from all his work [melakah ] which God created [bara] and made ['asah].
4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created. (Genesis 1:1-2:4a).}

General Comments

The Uniqueness of Creation Week

The Opening Chapter of Genesis

Grouping the phrases of the text as shown above highlights the number of times God acts, observes, moves, speaks or does something during each of the six days of creation. God did not speak the entire finished universe into existence with one word, nor did He order it from a now-extinct Sears catalog. Nor did He stand far off and observe the response to His commands. It was a "hands-on" creation from the start, and the Creator remains involved today in the government of all affairs of nature, of angels, and of men. The universe was built in stages, or modules. The raw material was first brought into being, then these materials were formed, sculpted, molded and shaped into a finished universe.

The process was not unlike the way we build a house today. First an architect designs the house. Next the work site is prepared. Cement, lumber, tools and materials are brought to the lot. The foundation and walls of the house are built first, then finished with outer and inner walls and utilities built in. Lastly the house is decorated and furnished and the occupants move in. The house is not a functioning entity until the new owners have set up residence in the completed dwelling. Neither was the universe a functioning entity until the Seventh Day. In the case of the universe, God the Father was the architect. The Son of God was the building contractor, speaking the materials into existence and then building the universe "like a wise master-builder" (see Proverbs 8::22-31). God the Holy Spirit energizes and imparts life to the universe. As described in the notes above, the initial state after the working materials were created is described as "tohu wabohu" which can be translated "unformed and unfilled." The work of the remaining 5 days of creation after Day One was to then form the structure of the house and to fill it---providing an infrastructure and life-support systems for its inhabitants.

In Genesis One the following expressions occur:

Many who read Genesis through in a cursory fashion do not realize that this brief text is like a computer program that has been highly compacted and compressed and must be unpacked. Without thinking about what the text actually says (that is, the number of action verbs and statements which indicate that God is doing something) many limit the creative work of God to the first verse only. This is a view held by some slightly religious scientists who are willing to allow God to be the "First Cause" of creation. However in their view, God is forbidden to do anything more than initiate the creation. After that mysterious first step it is assumed that all the subsequent unfolding of the universe proceeds according to built in laws and natural principles which science is capable of discovering and analyzing.

The actual text of Genesis does not limit God in this way! This can be seen from the above summary of the active expressions which indicate that God brought the raw materials of creation into existence (space, time, matter, and energy) and then he formed, molded, fashioned, and crafted the universe over six days' of time. Ten times He spoke, for instance. The spoken commands of the Son of God in every instance brought an immediate response from the Void. God's commands resulted in things springing instantly into being---things that did not previously exist. (It is interesting that when God speaks to the vacuum He receives an immediate, obedience response. But when God speaks to man, the results are usually not as impressive.)

The creation week was a unique period of time during which the normal laws of physics would have been suspended. We can not understand this Week by extrapolating back from the present. There is clearly a major discontinuity on the Seventh Day when God stopped creating and set everything into motion. This is because we live in a UNI-verse, a packaged, finally-tuned, interlinked unit which can operate properly only after it is fully assembled and activated.

The universe has also been drastically altered since the creation week by the fall of one-third of the angels under the leadership of the Angelic Prime Minister Lucifer. The fall of man has further disrupted nature and the cosmos.

Some of the Hebrew words used in Genesis are listed for the benefit of those who wish to look up the root meanings in a Hebrew Lexicon.

Psalm 104


Dr. Bernard E. Northrup


A. The Psalmist's cry of blessing 1a

(1) "Oh my soul, bless the Eternal Lord...!"

B. The Psalmists cause for blessing 1b-2a

"Oh Eternal Lord my God, You are exceedingly great. Glory and majesty are Your garments, (2) "...Always covering [Yourself] with light as with a curtain"



A. Before the solar week 2b-6

1. Creation of the universe 2b-3

"Having stretched out the heavens like a curtain, the One who has fitted together the beams of Your upper chambers in the waters, the One who has made the clouds His chariot, the One walking upon the wings of the wind"

1. Creation of the angels 4

(4) "...having made His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire."

2. Establishing the earth on its foundations

(5) "He established the earth upon its foundations in order that it should not come to be moved for ages and aye."

3. Covering the earth with the first universal flood waters 6

(6) "You covered it [the earth] with the deep as with a garment. The waters came to stand over the mountains."

A. During the first solar week 7-30


1. The removal of earth's cloak of water 7

(7) Because of Your rebuke the waters began to flee. They were driven away at the sound of Your thunder."

2. The renewal of earth's topography 8-9

(8) The mountains began to rise up. Valleys subsided unto the place that You had established for them. (9) "You established a boundary that they should not continue to pass over, that they should not continue to utterly overwhelm the earth."

3. Clothing earth's surface with vegetation 10-18

(10) "He is the One having sent springs forth into the valleys. They [the waters from the springs] continue to run swiftly between the mountains. (11) They [the waters from the springs] provide drink for every living creature of the field. [Even] the wild asses always quench their thirst. (12) Alongside of them [the streams draining the newly risen landmass] the birds of the heavens have come to live. They repeatedly sound out their voices from among the branches. (13) [You are] the One continually watering the mountains from His upper chambers. The earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works. (14) [You are] the One who continually is causing the green grass to spring up for the cattle and herbs for the services of mankind, causing the bringing forth of bread out of the earth, (15) and wine that wonderfully makes the heart of man glad. [You are] the One causing faces to shine from [olive] oil and bread that always supports a man's heart. (16) The trees of the Eternal Lord are full [of sap?]; even the cedars of Lebanon that He planted. (17) It is there where the birds always make their nests. The fir trees are the home for the stork . (18) High mountains are for the wild goats. The rocks provide a refuge for the conies."


4. The regulation of earth's seasons and solar day 19-23

(19) "He is the One having established the moon for seasons. The sun knows its going down. (20) Bring the darkness and let it become night in which all of the living creatures of the forest begin to come forth. (21) The young lions begin to roar after their prey and to seek their food from God. (22) The sun begins to arise; they slink away and they begin to lie down in their dens. (23) Mankind proceeds to go forth to their work and to their labor until evening time."


5. The renewal of earth's populations 24-30

a. The wisdom of their Maker 24-28

(1.His wisdom displayed in His work 24a-b

(24) "How many are Your works, Oh Eternal Lord! You made all of them in wisdom.

(2.The wealth of their numbers 24c-26

"The earth is full of your acquisitions. (25) This sea, great and wide on both hands---in it there are creeping things beyond number. (26) There in it the ships regularly travel. Leviathan, this one that You had formed to play within it [goes there]. "

(3.His providential supply 27-28

(27) "All of them always wait for You to give their food to them in its season."

(28) You always provide it for them (and) they gather it. You open Your hand [and] they come to be satisfied with good things."

b. His work supplying their numbers 29-30

1. His part in death 29

(29) "You hide Your face [from providing for them and] they vanish away. You withhold their breath [and] they come to die and they proceed to return to their dust.

2. His provision of others 30

(30) You sent forth Your Spirit and they had became created when you proceeded to make the face of the land new."



A. The manifestation of His glory 31-32

(31) "Let the glory of the Eternal Lord continue to be forever. Let the Eternal Lord rejoice in His works! (32) [He is the One] considering the earth and it begins to tremble. He proceeds to touch the mountains and they begin to smoke."

B. The maintenance of the Psalmist's song 33

(33) "I am determined to continue to sing unto the Eternal Lord during my life. I am determined to sing praise to my God while I exist."

C. The meditation about His person 34

(34) "Let the thoughts of my mind be pleasing unto Him. I myself will continue to rejoice in the Eternal Lord."

D. The modification of His creation 35a

(35) "Let sinners be gone from the earth and let the wicked ones not be there any more.

Concl: Praise and blessing of our wonderful Lord:

(35b) "Oh my soul, bless the Eternal Lord! All of you praise the Eternal Lord!"

September 28, 2000

The "Days" of Creation

"For six days the eternal Lord worked on the heavens,
the earth and the sea and all that is in them
and rested on the seventh day."
(Exodus 20:11)

Time is multidimensional!

Dr. Bernard Northrup, from a tape of his lecture at the ICC conference in Pittsburgh, 1994

That happens to be exactly what The Lord did. He created (BARA) the planet in verse 1 with all the rest of the heavens (no one knows when) and then, after an undefined period of total earth darkness without any 'days,' He then worked on it (ASAH) for six literal days as an example and precedent for man. Verse 1 is an ex nihilo creation and not suitable as a precedent for man because we cannot create anything ex nihilo, but we CAN "fashion, work on, bring forth, prepare, make, do, arrange, order" things all which are valid translations for ASAH in the Exodus 20:11 and Genesis 1:16 context. I especially like "did" for a translation of ASAH because "do" is a general word in English like ASAH is in Hebrew. "God 'did' the greater and lesser lights and the stars" and "For six days God 'did' the air, land and sea." This is awkward in English but not at all awkward in Hebrew and better represents the original nuance of a very general Hebrew word. By far it is the most common translation of that word in all English versions.

Take several of those common renditions, 'fashioned, worked on, brought forth, prepared, made, did, arranged, ordered' and blend it into a single common idea. Then you have the better idea of ASAH.

The preposition "in," commonly supplied by translators (For in six days) does not exist in the Hebrew so is properly omitted. The word ASAH, commonly translated "made" is translated in KJV "work" or "wrought" about 75 times and that translation is particularly appropriate to the 4th commandment context which is "WORK and rest" (not creation per se). This is the same word as used in Genesis 1:16 which, as I mentioned earlier, has all of 74 different translations in the KJV similar to all other versions. The best English equivalent is 'did' and it certainly is not interchangeable with BARA (only sometimes supplemental). Bara is usually best translated "create."

But there is much more to be resolved in Exodus 20:11. We must define heavens and also earth. Most of the references to 'heaven' in the Bible simply refer to atmosphere, and most references to 'earth' refer to lands. Where used together, 'heaven and earth,' stellar heavens and the planet are usually indicated, but not always (as in Psalm 135:6-7). The language of Exodus 20:11 specifically prohibits that use with the self-imposed limiter of the six-day context, for which earth and heaven are defined by God as land and air. The reader cannot propose any other definition relative to those six days when God specifically gave us those definitions during the six days. Hermeneutically, it is not allowed. All three words, heavens, earth, and sea are used together only in Psalm135 and Exodus 20 and have identical meaning in both passages: air, land and sea.

Our English word 'country' has a similar double usage. When we say, 'I'm from the country' we mean countryside, but if we say, 'There is no better quarterback in the country,' we mean the nation.

Every language without exception has multiple meanings for certain words. Indeed, we use the terms 'heavens' and also 'earth' just as the Hebrews did, in a double manner, determinable only by context. The context of Exodus 20:11 relates to the activity of the six days: not celestial creation. To apply celestial creation to Exodus 20:11 violates the 'six day' context of the fourth commandment.

Accordingly a better translation of Exodus 20:11 which does not force the text in any way but rather illuminates it:

'For six days, Yahweh worked on the air, the land and the sea and all that is in them and rested the seventh day.'

He worked on the existing, ocean covered, totally darkened planet to create the biosphere.

"As far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1-11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story (c) Noah's flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark. Or, to put it negatively, the apologetic arguments which suppose the 'days' of creation to be long eras of time, the figures of years not to be chronological, and the flood to be a merely local Mesopotamian flood, are not taken seriously by any such professors, as far as I know."--Professor James Barr, (1984) former Regius Professor of Hebrew at the University of Oxford.

--Bryce Self, July 2000

An Afterword: First written in 1995, this article barely scratches the surface.
Read all of Genesis One and that will be obvious.

Notes on Genesis One

Series: The Creation of Everything

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November 2, 1995. Revised September 6, 1996, January 24, 1998. July 14, 2000. September 28, 2000. March 24, 2009 (CV). July 23, 2022. (February 1, 2023.