Page images
PDF
EPUB

To make the deep and the waters a limitless mass of gaseous elements, is to force upon them a meaning which they will not bear. The waters of this verse are manifestly the waters which are divided, in vs. 6 and 7, and gathered into one place, in v. 9. The geological hypotheses relating to this and the six following verses, will be noticed in a subsequent Article.

And the Spirit of God was hovering, or, was brooding. The word rendered hovering, occurs in Deut. 32: 11, where our translators have used the word fluttering, after the Latin volitans. Whether we assign to it the idea of brooding! or of hovering, it indicates the active operation of God's Spirit upon the unformed mass. He was at work preparing it for its future orderly arrangement. This certainly excludes the idea of a momentary or brief state of the earth. Whatever theory of the six days we adopt, we must admit that the socalled chaotic period was one of indefinite extent.

It remains to consider the relation of this verse to the preceding. Prof. Lewis renders : For the earth was without form, etc., and explains the force of for, which he has substituted for and, thus: “In the beginning God created, that is, fashioned, formed, reduced to order. And why? Because the earth, which was to be created, was then without form and void. It was a fit subject for such a process.” 2 This is wholly arbitrary and ungrammatical. The conjunction

1 never has, in itself, the signification of for, any more than of but, therefore, etc. If, in rendering, we substitute one of these words for it, it is because we wish to indicate the connection more definitely than the Hebrew has done. But this connection we never learn from the alone, which still means and. It must be manifest, from the nature of the clause and its relation to the preceding, even when the

1 As Milton, in a beautiful figure suggested by this passage.

· Thou from the first
Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread,
Dove-like sat'st brooding on the vast abyss,
And mad'st it pregnant."

Basil, long before, in his second homily on the Six Days, had developed the same idea.

2 Six Days of Creation, Chap. VII. p. 56.

verse.

word " andis retained. This is the decisive test. We subjoin some examples:- “Let them curse, and do thou bless;"1 that is, as every one sees: “Let them curse, but do thou bless." “ How excellent is thy loving-kindness, O God! and the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings;" ? where our translators have put therefore for and. “ Behold! thou art a dead man, because of the woman whom thou hast taken, and she is a man's wife;" 3 that is, "and, at the same time, she is a man's wife;" where our idiom naturally substitutes for. It is only before such causal clauses that we can put for instead of and. When the Hebrew wishes to indicate causality in a direct way, it uses "). Arbitrarily to substitute for instead of and, is to reduce the Hebrew language to the very chaos described in the present

In the words : “ And the earth was empty and void," we have an indication of sequence, but none whatever of causality. We must insist, therefore, upon restoring the word and to its lawful place.

We understand, then, the first verse as affirming the creation of heaven and earth, in respect to their elements or matter; and the second, as describing the condition of these elements, in relation to the earth, before the six days' work that followed. If one object to this view that the formation of the heavens was the work of the second day, we answer: This is bringing into the Hebrew Scriptures a subtilty to which they are strangers. It was the heavens and the earth in an unformed state, which God created in the beginning. We close our discussion of this verse with the following pertinent remarks of Tuch. a , as that of creation out of nothing (Schöpfung aus Nichts), he adds :

“But more decisive is the connection in which no stands. For, when it is said: “In the beginning God created heaven and earth; the earth was waste and empty; darkness covered the waters,' etc. ; what can this mean, except : God

,בָּרָא After a statement of the true idea of

1 Ps. 109: 28. ? Ps. 36: 8 (English version, 36: 7).

3 Gen. 20: 3. 4 See Ges. Heb. Lex. Art. - (4), where, however, some of his examples are irrelevant.

created, in the beginning of the creation, as the first act of the same, the matter (Stoff) of heaven and earth, yet unseparated and unarranged; to separate, arrange and fashion which, was the well-ordered work of the six days of creation. To hold this conclusion as erroneous (as do Buttmann and others), is so much the more impossible, because the second verse decidedly continues the narration; so that ver. 1 cannot be a superscription which prefixes to the narrative a summary view of the whole. God accordingly remains Creator of this matter; and, although the Hebrew theory of creation, like other cosmogonies, certainly places a chaos at the head, it yet presents an essential difference in this respect, that it does not make the chaotic matter coördinate with the Deity as eternal, but strictly subordinates it to the one only eternal and self-existent God." I

V. 3. And God said, Let there be light, and there was light.

“ He spake, and it was done ; he commanded, and it stood fast” — this is the idea that fills this narrative. Everything is referred to the creative will of God. Darkness covered the deep: God commanded, and light shone upon the deep. Whether it was now, for the first time, created in its essence, by his will ; or whether, by his will, it now began to shine upon the face of the earth, the sacred record does not determine. See our remarks, p. 763.

V. 4. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided between the light and the darkness.

God saw ... that it was good. These words, so often repeated in the course of the narrative, express, after the manner of human conception, God's complacency in every part of his work. What was the division which God made between the light and the darkness, we learn from the next

It was that of day and night.

verse.

1 Tuch, Kommentar über die Genesis, in loco.

V. 5. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night : and there was evening, and there was morning, one day.

God called the light Day, the darkness Night; the firmament, Heavens; the dry land, Earth; the collection of waters, Seas; and our first parents, Adam, that is, Man. He brought to Adam the lower animals, " to see what he would call them.” Adam gave names to them all, and his wife he called Woman, and Eve. The bare perusal of this catalogue of names is sufficient to show that they are all to be taken in their literal and ordinary sense. They are the current names of well known objects. The Day and Night here spoken of can be no other than the alternate periods of light and darkness to which we now give these names.

In what sense did God give these names ? It is commonly answered : In his Divine purpose. When he made the objects, he appointed them to bear these names, when man should be created and endowed with the gift of speech. But when we consider how conspicuous a place the giving of names holds in this brief narrative, and especially the fact that God himself assigns some of them, and lays upon Adam the work of assigning others, it seems as if something more were intended. We find Adam, from the beginning, in the possession of language, and holding converse with his Maker. This implies that God did not wait for him to develop speech by the unaided exercise of his faculties, but communicated it to him directly, in its elements at least, as a necessary gift. Why may we not, then, suppose that these are among the names which God, in some way, taught Adam ? That they are mentioned before his formation, creates no real difficulty. This is a natural anticipation. Besides, the objection lies, with equal force, against every other hypothesis. All the names assigned seem to be significant of qualities, as om, high, exactly like the English heaven, and the German Luft.

And there was evening, and there was morning, one day. The exactly literal rendering of the original is : And evening was,

Compare Eph. 1: 4.

and morning was, one day. All the nouns are without the article, and should be so translated. There is no necessity for taking 1 (one) in the sense of ? (first). It has its proper cardinal signification, thus : “ There was evening, , and there was morning, one day;” “ There was evening, and there was morning, a second day;" and so on to the sixth day, where the article is used emphatically. The meaning of these words cannot be simply : “Evening and morning were one day;" that is, made one day. If the verb

had no other office than that of the logical copula, its repetition would be altogether without precedent or explanation. It is manifest that the writer means to affirm, separately, the existence of evening and of morning. Nor is it congruous to translate: “ There was evening, and there was morning, on one day.” The best explanation is that which takes the words “ one day” as standing in a sort of apposition to the preceding ; so that the whole is an abbreviated expression for : “ There was evening, and there was morning; and these were one day.” So the Seventy : kai éyévετο εσπέρα, και εγένετο πρωΐ, ημέρα μία. In this formula, six times repeated, the evening, as introducing the night, and the morning as introducing the day, represent the night and the day themselves ; and this is applied, for the sake of uniformity, to the first night — the darkness described in ver. 2.

— although this, being preceded by no day, had, properly speaking, no evening.

The question of main interest in this formula repects the meaning of the word day. That the Hebrew bin is often used for a period of indefinite extent, is undeniable. But so also are the corresponding words in other languages. We must admit, however, that, in Hebrew usage, this indefinite application of the word is more common. The argument from this source goes so far as to allow the word to be taken in an extended sense when the context plainly requires it; as in ch. 2: 4, but not arbitrarily. For the literal understanding

1 Compare the Greek doúl.cov juap; the Latin, dies docebit ; and the English, A useful man in his day.

« PreviousContinue »