Genesis 1:14-1:19 Commentary


Genesis 1:14

And God said, “Let there be light sources in the firmament of the heaven to divide a space between the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.”

וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים יְהִ֤י מְאֹרֹת֙ בִּרְקִ֣יעַ הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם לְהַבְדִּ֕יל בֵּ֥ין הַיֹּ֖ום וּבֵ֣ין הַלָּ֑יְלָה וְהָי֤וּ לְאֹתֹת֙ וּלְמֹ֣ועֲדִ֔ים וּלְיָמִ֖ים וְשָׁנִֽים׃

way-yō-mer ’ĕ-lō-hîm, yə-hî mə-’ō-rōṯ bir-qî-a‘ haš-šā-ma-yim, lə-haḇ-dîl bên hay-yō-wm ū-ḇên hal-lā-yə-lāh; wə-hā-yū lə-’ō-ṯōṯ ū-lə-mō-w-‘ă-ḏîm, ū-lə-yā-mîm wə-šā-nîm.

And God said, “Let there be light sources…  On the first day the universe was only about 8,000 miles in diameter–nothing more than a chaotic mass of water suspended in nothingness. On the second and third days the universe was not much larger. Beyond the canopy of ice at the top of the atmosphere there was only God’s light, and then nothing. But then on the fourth day the size of the universe was upped to a number nobody can say for sure. But still the focus was on the benefit of man. The lights in the sky were created for our benefit. The Earth could still exist without Andromeda and Halley’s Comet, but why would God settle for anything less than the best for His children?

…in the firmament of the heaven… The highest Heaven was created at the beginning of time, the middle heaven (outer space) could be said to be created on the first day when light was created, and the lowest heaven was created on the second day. Now on the fourth day the middle heaven was filled with stars. We must not think that the lowest heaven was extended to include the second. The water canopy was made to ceil the sky and beyond that there was empty space with the light of God. This second firmament of the heaven was its own special creation.

If God said “Let there be light sources in the firmament,” then the firmament already existed. This is not to say that the firmament was as large as it was now, of course. The only reason this firmament of the second heaven existed was that God created light on the first day, and this light existed outside the Earth. Light spreads in all directions, so much of the nothingness originally outside the Earth was not nothingness for long. On the fourth day, however, the scattered photons that had traveled far from Earth became accompanied by stars, dust and gas clouds, and cosmic background radiation. Space as we know it is certainly not nothingness although it may appear that way to the naked eye.

…to divide a space between the day from the night;… The stars were made to produce and carry on the distinction which God specially made on the first day, to continue and render permanent the distinction made on the first day. Whether the light was gathered into the stars or whether God simply stopped producing the original light on the fourth day is unknown. (The use of the verb עָשָׂה (made) instead of בָּרָ֣א (created) seems to suggest that the existing light was collected and “made” into stars, but this is not a known fact.) The light was completely absent for the first three nights but now the stars would provide dim light even at night. If we recall that the word יוֹם (yom, “day”) carries the connotation of warmth, then we can see that nothing changed as far as the light’s purpose goes. God still meant for the light to provide life-giving warmth and comforting illumination to Earth, only now the purpose was carried out by the Sun, and more fully.

…and let them be for signs and… The inclusion of “and” means that the heavenly bodies are meant for more than one purpose, and being for signs is one of those purposes; separate from the other purposes which follow. The heavenly bodies are for signs. Signs of what? There are several answers to this. One is that they are signs of God’s creation. David wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Space itself testifies to God’s creation. Spiral galaxies, for example, prove both that the universe is very young, and that the big bang could not have happened. The spiral form of a spiral galaxy is caused by the outside spinning at a speed too slow to stay synchronous with the inner part of the galaxy, and so spiral arms trail behind. This could not be possible if the big bang occurred because the law of conservation of angular momentum requires every galaxy to rotate with the same orientation as the parent body (the infinitesimal region which preceded the universe). Moreover, all galaxies would have to have the same orientation because they all had the same origin. The existence of irregular galaxies such as UGC 4459 proves that galaxies did not originate from the same parent body. Besides, after several billion years the spirals of a galaxy would blend together and it would look more like a whirlpool than a pinwheel. God created many different types of bodies for our enjoyment and His glory.

The great black expanse between stars and galaxies also disproves the big bang theory. For one thing, matter ought to be evenly distributed if it came from the same parent body, especially since the Cosmic Background Radiation is evenly distributed. For another thing, the known universe contains only 1% of the mass required for the big bang to happen.13  Our own star, Sol, proves that the big bang is impossible. Hermann von Helmholtz and Lord Kelvin theorized that stars give off heat and light because of solar collapse. Indeed, the Sun has been observed shrinking every year since 1836. This requires the Sun to be young, however, so evolutionists insist that the Sun gives off energy because of nuclear fusion. Fusion would result in a great deal of neutrinos, so much so that about a trillion neutrinos would bombard every square inch of the Earth every second, but hardly any neutrinos come from the Sun.14 This apparent lack of neutrinos proves that the Sun is fueled by solar collapse and must therefore be young. God has made outer space as it is so that there could be no reasonable doubt that He created it. Any doubt of special creation/intelligent design is unreasonable and anti-scientific.15

The stars are also “signs” in that they serve as navigational guides. For most of the Earth’s history sailors relied upon the stars for direction. Polaris and Ursa Major are especially helpful but there are in total 57 stars useful for navigation, as well as four of our planets.

Yet another meaning of “signs” may be that the stars were meant to display a record of creation or a summary of scripture, which Adam and Eve were able to read. It is possible that what we now know as the zodiac is a corrupted and incomplete version of the scriptures which were recorded in the sky. Imagine, if you will, that the constellations tell that (Leo) the Lion will be born of (Virgo) the Virgin and will vanquish (Draco) the Dragon. Adam may have seen many dozens or hundreds of asterisms and understood all their meanings. Whether this is true or not, Psalm 50 does say that the heavens will declare God’s righteousness. They certainly shall have a meaning if they didn’t originally.

…for seasons… This verse serves well as a defense to the opinion that time is an illusion. Although time is meaningless to God, and Heaven is not a victim of the ravages of time, such are not the case for Earth and Earthlings. Time is important for us. We could neither understand our surroundings nor live our lives without time. It is an important aspect of human life and God equipped us well to handle it. The celestial bodies, which need neither recharging nor recalibration, help humans to bear the record of time. All four seasons are marked by distinctive shapes called seasonal asterisms. Spring is marked by what we call the Great Diamond, and then the other seasons are marked by the Summer Triangle, the Great Square of Pegasus, and the Winter Hexagon.

…and days and years. The rotation of the Earth means that not only does the Sun move across the sky during the day, but the stars do at night also. Even at night we can see roughly what time it is by the position of the stars in the night sky. As for years, the many events which occur from time to time mark out different eras. Solar and lunar eclipses happen at predictable intervals, albeit less regular in the post-flood world. Eclipses have been recorded since ancient times and allow us to pinpoint dates in the past–thus the celestial bodies not only mark years going into the future, but also the past. This is key to understanding the world just after the flood and will be discussed in detail in the commentary on Genesis 10 and 11.

Bibliography/Footnotes

13 P.V. Rizzo, “Review of Mysteries of the Universe,” Sky and Telescope, August 1982, pg. 150

14J.H. Bahcall, Astronomical Journal, 76:283, 1971

15 For more detail on the big bang, read chapter 2 of Science vs. Evolution by Vance Ferrell.

 

Genesis 1:15

“And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light on the earth,” and it was so.

וְהָי֤וּ לִמְאֹורֹת֙ בִּרְקִ֣יעַ הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם לְהָאִ֖יר עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן׃

wə-hā-yū lim-’ō-w-rōṯ bir-qî-a‘haš-šā-ma-yim, lə-hā-’îr ‘al-hā-’ā-reṣ; way-hî-ḵên.

And let them be for lights… It was previously mentioned that God named things based on their true characteristic, and this tendency survives in certain Hebrew words. Words beginning with a formative מ usually signify that in which the simple quality resides or is realized. The word מְאֹרֹ (ma-or, “light source”) thus signifies that the main quality of the star is the production of light; the light being gathered or concentrated in these luminaries renders it more serviceable. מוֹעֵד (moed) too begins with the formative מ and signifies that the main quality of the season is the appointment of time. Seasons are celebrated with festival or ceremony. The production of light was listed last in the previous verse, as if the description were starting with the least purpose and building up to the primary purpose. Now in verses 15-17 it is the only purpose mentioned.

…in the firmament of the heaven… The second heaven is listed by the same name as the first and third. We do not require any separate designation, however, because context allows us to distinguish them. The first heaven (sky) goes from sea level at the bottom to the water canopy at the top. Stars obviously could not have existed in this small area, and no Israelite scholar would have suggested as such. The third heaven (Heaven) is sometimes referred to as the highest heaven or the heaven of heavens (see 1 Kings 8:27) so the superlative requires three heavens to exist, not just two. We may safely say, then, that these stars exist in the firmament of the heaven that’s neither sky nor highest Heaven.

…to give light on the earth,” and it was so. It seems incredible that the Earth would have lasted three whole days without the warmth of the Sun to prevent freezing over, but this is the result of a common misunderstanding about space. The vacuum of space does not “suck” or drain heat. Heat radiates, and the feeling of cold happens as a result of radiation or the transfer of thermal energy from atoms with greater heat to atoms of lesser heat. A vacuum, however, has no atoms, and so the radiation of heat in space is quite slow. The global average temperature nowadays is 57*F (14*C). If the Sun were to suddenly disappear then after a week the global average temperature would fall to 32*F (0*C), and after a year it would fall to -100*F (-73.3*C).16 Assuming that the global temperature was 57*F on the first day of creation, and even assuming that the rate of temperature decay was just as quick with the insulating ice canopy in place, then the Earth still would not have frozen over by the fourth day. But even the light on days 1-3 gave off some measure of warmth (see the commentary on Genesis 1:5).

Bibliography/Footnotes

16 Otterbein, Holly. “IF THE SUN WENT OUT, HOW LONG WOULD LIFE ON EARTH SURVIVE?” Popular Science. N.p., 20 Oct. 2008. Web.

 

 

Genesis 1:16

And God made two great light sources; the greater light source to rule the day, and the lesser light source to rule the night: he made the stars also.

וַיַּ֣עַשׂ אֱלֹהִ֔ים אֶת־שְׁנֵ֥י הַמְּאֹרֹ֖ת הַגְּדֹלִ֑ים אֶת־הַמָּאֹ֤ור הַגָּדֹל֙ לְמֶמְשֶׁ֣לֶת הַיֹּ֔ום וְאֶת־הַמָּאֹ֤ור הַקָּטֹן֙ לְמֶמְשֶׁ֣לֶת הַלַּ֔יְלָה וְאֵ֖ת הַכֹּוכָבִֽים׃

way-ya-‘aś ’ĕ-lō-hîm, ’eṯ-šə-nê ham-mə-’ō-rōṯ hag-gə-ḏō-lîm; ’eṯ-ham-mā-’ō-wr hag-gā-ḏōl lə-mem-še-leṯ hay-yō-wm,

wə-’eṯ-ham-mā-’ō-wr haq-qā-ṭōn lə-mem-še-leṯ hal-lay-lāh, wə-’êṯ hak-kō-w-ḵā-ḇîm.

And God made two great light sources;…  The two light sources mentioned are Sol and Luna; this is so obvious that the verse does not mention them by name. But it refers to them both as light sources. How could this be? Is this an inaccuracy? No, do not be mistaken. The Bible is true. Too many Christians give up easily and admit defeat, saying with a sigh, “Well, the Moon isn’t really a light source. The Bible just contains this inaccuracy because it was written for people thousands of years ago who wouldn’t have understood that the Moon reflects the Sun’s light.” But those who say such a thing are ignorant of two considerations:

One, NASA found that the Moon does give off a small amount of light because it is bombarded by invisible cosmic radiation (this is called photon luminescence)17, and two, God is not a liar. If He said that the Moon is a light source, then it is. Ignorance is not a sin; nobody knows everything about outer space. But to mistrust God’s word: this is a sin. Even if we didn’t have the technology to prove that the Moon gives off light, it would not exonerate the Christian of his or her duty to trust God’s word. As Thomas Aquinas wrote, “Therefore, just as it would be of the greatest senselessness for a fool to assert that what a philosopher proposes is false because he [himself] is unable to grasp it, so, and even more so, it is of great stupidity for a man to suppose that what is divinely revealed… is false because it cannot be investigated by reason.”18

…the greater light source to rule the day, and the lesser light source to rule the night:…Luna can often be seen during the day along with Sol, but it is not the greater light source, and so it is not ruling the day. Now, notice the perspective of the Genesis account. The writer is presenting this account as if he were a field reporter standing on the Earth’s surface when all of these events are happening. To an observer on Earth the apparent size of the Moon is much greater than that of a star many millions of light-years away. If a person had been standing on the spot where the garden of Eden would eventually be created, he would see the moon first and may assume that this orb was the great light—it is certainly far greater than the dim stars millions of light years away. But at the break of dawn there was something coming; only a hint of light first, then as twilight progressed onward and the moon sank farther toward the horizon, this light would increase, until—finally—the Sun would rise and the might of its great light would far outshine anything the moon could produce.

The rise of the new day is not unlike the coming of the new age and new covenant under Christ, for even John the Baptist, who was the greatest man under the old covenant, could not hope to outshine even the dimmest rays of the new covenant (see Matthew 11:11). To the hypothetical observer standing upon earth on the fourth day, Luna would seem a great light indeed until the coming of the morning, and then, after seeing hints of light to come—his expectations would be shattered at the glory of the greater light. (Of course, this is not to say that the observer should be fooled into thinking that Luna ruled over the daytime, because he knew that evening came first and the morning was coming later, just as the children of Israel knew that their age was to end when the savior came. Nevertheless the new age was greater than they could have imagined.) This sequence of Luna to Sol, evening to morning, fit in with God’s general planning scheme in the creation week—the lesser was followed by the greater.

…He made the stars also. Once again we see that the Earth is the most important thread in the cosmological tapestry. Sol is by no means the largest star, yet every star in the universe except Sol is mentioned here almost as an afterthought. None of the heavenly bodies were here given a name by God—His only focus was on Earth. (He does call the stars by name [see Psalm 147:4], but their names are not told to us.) All of the stars in the universe give off a tremendous amount of light, but very little of this light affects the Earth (The entire Milky Way only gives the Earth about 1/300 the amount of light as a full moon), so the stars are less important than Sol and Luna in this verse. Imagine the comfort and relief that this observer would experience at the creation of Luna—for during the first three days there was no light at night, but then on the fourth day, for the first time there would be comforting, illuminating light even at night, however small.

 

Bibliography/Footnotes

17 PHOTON LUMINESCENCE OF THE MOON. T. L. Wilson and K. T. Lee, NASA. Jan 01, 2009. Web.

18 Thomas Aquinas. Summa Contra Gentiles, Book One: God, Caput 3: Quis modus sit possibilis divinae veritatis manifestandae. Passage translated by commentary author.

Genesis 1:17

And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light on the earth,

וַיִּתֵּ֥ן אֹתָ֛ם אֱלֹהִ֖ים בִּרְקִ֣יעַ הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם לְהָאִ֖יר עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃

way-yit-tên ’ō-ṯām ’ĕ-lō-hîm bir-qî-a‘ haš-šā-mā-yim; lə-hā-’îr ‘al-hā-’ā-reṣ.

And God set them in the firmament of the heaven… The stars were created on the fourth day and set in their places in space. We do not appreciate just how intricate many orbits in the galaxy are. The fact that stars do not crash into/sideswipe one another or slingshot around each other into the depths of space is a testimony to the carefully balanced setting in place by God’s hand. He ordered that they should be in the firmament of the heaven, and they were placed at such a particular distance as to be beneficial and not hurtful, especially the Sun. Had Sol been set nearer to the earth, its heat would have been intolerable; and had it been further off it would have been of no use.

…to give light on the Earth, One of the most popular challenges posed to Christians for apology is, “If the universe is young, then how can we see stars that are billions of light-years away?” The poser of such a challenge must believe that an omnipotent God could create a centillion stars but couldn’t create a stream of photons between those stars and Earth. (This asker is also ignorant of the fact that the speed of light has fallen drastically since the beginning.19) Close attention to the Genesis account will reveal that God created every original thing in a state of maturity. He did not create a baby Adam in the middle of a barren field littered with seeds. No, He created everything in mature form, and we must conclude that this extends to the rest of the observable universe. The stars were visible from the Earth as soon as they were created because they were created specifically for us.

The stars’ greatest purpose is to benefit the Earth and its inhabitants. We are more important to God than the riches of the galaxies. The fact that the Earth is tiny compared to the vastness of the universe in no way provides any ill judgment upon the importance of mankind. In fact, it is just the opposite. If you saw a great castle or palace with acres of land, fabulous gardens and courtyards, and lofty towers, would you assume that the resident is unimportant? That would be ludicrous. The bigger the estate, the more important it is assumed that the resident is. It would seem ill-fitting that a king should live in a straw-roofed hut just so that his physical size as a human would be large compared to his dwelling. No–a king ought to live in a vast domicile. The larger the palace, the greater the king. How much greater, then, must the importance of mankind be if God has made an endless universe for our utility and enjoyment? It is absurd to suggest that mankind is insignificant because our estate is large.

It is also absurd, however, to suggest that the account given in Genesis is geocentric just because importance is placed on Earth. Again, this is equating size with importance, just in a different manner. The heretical “Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges” said of the fourth day,

“Described in terms of astronomy, the account here given of the origin and functions of the heavenly bodies is, what is called, “geocentric,” that is, it supposes the earth to be the centre of the system. It conceives the sun, moon and stars to be much smaller bodies of varied light-giving capacity, formed for purposes of use to the dwellers upon earth, and attached to the roof of heaven at no very great altitude above the flat earth. Primitive and childlike will this Hebrew view seem now to us who inherit the privilege of the continually advancing discoveries of astronomical science since the days of Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton.”

The writers of the Cambridge commentary must have been reading a different version of the Bible. This author’s perusal of scripture has failed to discover any Bible verse claiming that all the stars are “at no very great altitude above the flat earth.” It is a mistake to think of the Israelites as being simple-minded just because they lived a long time ago. In many ways, ancient peoples were smarter than we are; they just lacked the insights we have today, because such insights were gained after thousands of years of research. This lack of insight may to a certain extent explain why details about the cosmos are omitted from the Genesis account, but the greater cause is the focus of the scripture. Genesis is meant to be a divinely-inspired book of history, not an astronomy textbook. The minister Matthew Henry explained, “[T]he Scriptures were written, not to gratify curiosity, or make us astronomers, but to lead us to God, and make us saints.” Any omission of astronomical facts is by no means a fault. It is important for us to make no assumptions about the Genesis account, least of all the assumption that its holy wisdom is “primitive and childlike” simply because it doesn’t contain the whole of Newton’s and Galileo’s works. If you wish to find a truly primitive and childlike view of the Sun, look no further than Islam, for Muhammad claimed that the Sun sets in a warm spring of muddy water on Earth.20 Shall any comparable verse be found in the Bible?

Bibliography/Footnotes

19 The astronomer Barry Setterfield wrote in The Atomic Constants, Light, and Time, “During the last 300 years, at least 164 separate measurements of the speed of light have been published. Sixteen different measurement techniques were used. … The speed of light has apparently decreased so rapidly that experimental error cannot explain it!” A graph in the June, 2000 issue of the “Creation Tech” journal shows the exponential decay of the speed of light, as measured over a century.

Many evolutionists agree that the speed of light has decayed, and Dr. V.S. Troitskii of the Radio-physical Research Institute in Gorky estimated in Physical Constants and the Evolution of the Universe that “The speed of light was ten billion times faster at time zero!” Whether you look at it as a creationist or evolutionist, light from stars 13 Billion light-years away took much less than 13 Billion years to reach Earth because light used to be faster. The atheist who asks how people on a young Earth could see stars billions of light-years away is ignorant even of their own beliefs.

20 Surya 18:86 reads, “So [Dhul-Qarnain, or Alexander the Great] followed a way. Until, when he reached the setting place of the sun, he found it setting in a spring of black muddy water. And he found near it a people. We (Allah) said (by inspiration): “O Dhul-Qarnain! Either you punish them, or treat them with kindness.”” Sunan Abu Dawud 4002 reads, “It was narrated that Abu Dharr said: “I was riding behind the Messenger of Allah while he was on a donkey, and the sun was setting. He said: ‘Do you know where this (sun) sets?’ I said: ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’ [Muhammad] said: ‘It sets in a spring of warm water.’””

Genesis 1:18

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

וְלִמְשֹׁל֙ בַּיֹּ֣ום וּבַלַּ֔יְלָה וּֽלֲהַבְדִּ֔יל בֵּ֥ין הָאֹ֖ור וּבֵ֣ין הַחֹ֑שֶׁךְ וַיַּ֥רְא אֱלֹהִ֖ים כִּי־טֹֽוב׃

wə-lim-šōl bay-yō-wm ū-ḇal-lay-lāh, ū-lă-haḇ-dîl,

bên hā-’ō-wr ū-ḇên ha-ḥō-šeḵ; way-yar ’ĕ-lō-hîm kî-ṭō-wḇ.

And to rule… They regulate the duration and the characteristic of each period from their eminence. The “rule” in this verse has the sense of being “over.” The Sun resides over the day sky and the Moon resides over the night sky. Starting thus with the visible and the tangible, the Scripture in its successive communications means to advance us toward the metaphysical, the spiritual, the divine. Only obvious results are noted, with the secondary modes and movements left to inquiry.

…over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness:… The day and night are still focused on the Earth, for it is the Earth’s inhabitants which shall be the intended beneficiaries of their presence. The various expressions used in this account seem to be designed to discourage the worship of the Sun and Moon; which being visible in the sky, and of such great influence and usefulness to the earth, are prime targets of adoration. (see also Deuteronomy 4:19)

…and God saw that it was good. When God made the cosmos He saw goodness. The cosmos as it exists today is not the same but we still see much goodness there. Luna is the only moon that orbits on the same plane as its planet, making the lunar cycle possible. Luna is 400 times closer to the Earth than Sol and 400 times smaller in diameter. This makes solar eclipses possible. And although Sol is steadily shrinking, Luna is also steadily moving away from Earth so the proportions remain the same. The universe is filled with such beauty.

Genesis 1:19

And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

וַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר יֹ֥ום רְבִיעִֽי׃ פ

way-hî-‘e-reḇway-hî-ḇō-qeryō-wmrə-ḇî-‘î.

And with one single day dedicated to the creation of all the heavenly bodies, we may return to the Earth, which warranted five days out of six to its creation.

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