This text is a literary crucial examine of the first creation account in the e book of Genesis 1:1-2:3. It’s divided into three distinct sections. First, a common literary evaluation of the whole pericope will probably be examined. Secondly, as per the necessities of this paper, a phrase examine follows. Thirdly, a verse by verse examination of the whole pericope is included, interacting with commentaries from varied distinguished students. The interpretation used on this article is from the New American Normal Bible, copyright (c) 1960, 1988 by The Lockman Basis.


The preliminary creation account of Genesis was not created ex nihilo. Somewhat, its content material was born out a wealthy plethora of creation accounts permeating the historical Close to East. One putting instance of that is seen in the similarities between Genesis and the Enumah Elish1:

Enumah Elish: Divine spirit and cosmic matter are co-existent and coeternal

Genesis: Divine spirit creates cosmic matter and exists impartial of it

Enumah Elish: Primeval chaos; Ti’amat enveloped in darkness

Genesis: Earth was a desolate waste, with darkness masking the deep

Enumah Elish: Mild emanated from Gods

Genesis: Mild created

Enumah Elish: Creation of firmament

Genesis: Creation of firmament

Enumah Elish: Creation of dry land

Genesis: Creation of dry land

Enumah Elish: Creation of luminaries

Genesis: Creation of luminaries

Enumah Elish: Creation of man

Genesis: Creation of man

Enumah Elish: Gods relaxation and rejoice

Genesis: God rests and sanctifies the seventh day

Whereas there are lots of similarities which hyperlink Genesis to the Enumah Elish, amongst different creation accounts, the putting theological statements of Genesis maintain it in stark distinction to all different accounts of this time interval. The above chart is solely to notice that creation accounts of this nature and people containing related orders predated Genesis and influenced its type, although not its theological assumptions concerning the Divine; for these are far eliminated in nature and character. Even in the use of templates for the order of when every portion was created, the theological postulations of how precisely they took place maintain it in distinction to even its closest literary cousins.

Rightly, the literary genius of Genesis is in its very use of different well-known creation accounts. The power to attract the viewers in with acquainted phrases and orders, solely to shock them with surprising ideas which radically alter the widespread understanding of actuality at the time, reveals a well-informed and thought out technique.

The thought and constructions underlying the Genesis 1 account of creation can’t be overstated. There doesn’t appear to be a phrase, phrase, or repetition that’s not purposeful and exactly ordered. Take into account the use of sevens and multiples thereof2:

  • Genesis 1:1 incorporates 7 phrases
  • Genesis 1:2 incorporates 14 phrases
  • Genesis 1:1-Three incorporates 35 phrases
  • God is talked about 35 occasions
  • Heaven is talked about 21 occasions
  • Earth is talked about 21 occasions
  • God made 7 occasions
  • Naming or blessing one thing is used 7 occasions
  • The Phrase “and it was so” is used 7 occasions
  • The Phrase “and it was good” is used 7 occasions
  • God noticed that it was good 7 occasions

Along with the quantity seven, the Genesis account is replete with different quantity and structural repetitions, in addition to the use of chiasms. Resulting from the brevity of house I’ll handle simply three extra on this part, which have the biggest affect on the theology of the textual content. First, there are ten divine instructions spoken by God.Three Second, the means by which the writer of the Genesis account makes use of phrases can finest be understood by evaluating them to the means a composer would use devices. Take into account as an illustration that the Genesis account makes use of a sample of an ever rising quantity of phrases for every of the days of creation, demonstrating an rising selection and profundity.Four Lastly, days three and 6 type crescendos with the double bulletins of the Divine phrase (God stated) in addition to the double approvals (and it was good).5


The commentary on the first Genesis account of creation will probably be handled after the Phrase Study. This is because of the chosen phrase’s theological implications for the first three verses of the textual content. For the phrase examine I’ve chosen to parse the which means of the Hebrew phrase ruach (wind). There’s a particular purpose I’ve chosen this phrase as an alternative of the extra apparent selection of tselem (picture). I’ve chosen ruach as a result of of what I consider to be the central theme of this textual content. Whereas Genesis 1-11 is a literary unit, Genesis 1-Three additionally stands as a literary sub-unit. It’s my perception that these three texts cope with the three common questions of existence:

Genesis 1: What’s the nature of God?

Genesis 2: What’s the nature of man?

Genesis 3: What’s the nature of evil?

Whereas every of these chapters present features of the reply to all three questions, their central focus and theme is evident. Subsequently, since the focus of the writer in Genesis 1 is to present an understanding of the character of God, then it stands to purpose that the focus of a phrase examine ought to try and shine gentle on that very same theme.

The phrase ruach in Scripture is expressed in the Outdated Testomony with 14 totally different nuances of which means, showing 377 occasions, mostly in Isaiah, Ezra and Psalms.6 The meanings lengthen from what’s empty or transitory, spirit or thoughts (each in the human sense), breath, air, wind, wind instructions, to the Spirit of God and even actually Holy Spirit: (ha)ruach.

The shape of its utilization in Genesis 1:2 is masculine singular assemble. This hyperlinks it in with the use of elohiym. So at the very least, it’s of God’s sending or of His will. The query which has been usually debated is whether or not it’s His personal Spirit/essence which is hovering or whether it is merely a mighty wind despatched by God.

These supporting the view that it’s nothing greater than a mighty wind embody: von Rad, Speiser, Schmidt, and Westermann.7 Their argument is that the ruach talked about right here is solely half of the chaos demonstrated on this verse. They see this verse as three parallel clauses emphasizing the void and chaos. Walton, Matthews, and Chavalas, in the IVP Bible Background Commentary, state that the idea of mighty wind is equally current in the Enumah Elish as a disruptive wind, bringing unrest.8

On the different facet, Cassuto, Kidner, Gispen, Gunkel, Skinner, and Procksch view the utilization of ruach to confer with the Spirit of God.9 In accordance with Wenham, this utilization of the phrase ruach in Genesis all the time consists of some manifestation of God.10 This phrasing could also be a bit of sturdy. It will be safer to say that God is concerned in a roundabout way wherever the phrase ruach is utilized in Genesis. Particularly, the constructive type of ruach in Genesis 1:2 would permit for such an interpretation.

Contemplating the factors above, and that Genesis 1 appears to be a story of God’s interplay with chaos–forming it, ordering it, and injecting it with life–it would make sense to have these opposing forces launched collectively for the sake of distinction. The need to view all three clauses as unfavorable parallelism will not be readily obvious and never doable with the inclusion of elohiym on this verse. Whereas there are repetitions of three or extra parallel ideas in Hebrew poetry, there are much more situations of two strains of parallel poetry. Thus, contrasting this one thought of chaos expressed in two clauses for emphasis juxtaposed in an antithetical poetic expression in opposition to God’s presence hovering over the waters (the essence of order hovering over the essence of chaos) is simply as apt to be the case.

The ultimate query that should be addressed on this utilization of ruach elohiym is the purpose for the inclusion of this clause in any respect. It was already acknowledged that God created in v.1 and God begins forming in v.3, so the inclusion of His ruach in v.2 appears to serve no essential goal in linking God to creation as both creator (already established in v.1) or orderer of it (established in vv.3ff). So why this inclusion right here of his ruach? Calvin proposes that it demonstrates God will not be solely the creator (v.1) and the one who types it (v.3) however that it He’s additionally the sustainer, via the presence of His Spirit (v2).11 Kidner additionally touches on this, referencing Job 33:Four and Psalm 104:30 as different situations of God’s ruach being a sustaining pressure.12


Genesis 1:1-2: In the starting God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the floor of the deep; and the Spirit of God was shifting over the floor of the waters.

Many have commented on the division of 1:1 from 1:2, a lot of which tried to handle the varied concordists views. Von Rad, on the different hand, makes an attention-grabbing theological assertion concerning the necessity of separating v.1 from vv.2ff. He says that the separation is critical as a result of v.1 is theological in nature and if chaos is to be positioned beside the order of God, then chaos must be spoken of first, as a earlier state, since God undoes chaos in favor of cosmos.13

Genesis 1:3-5: Then God stated, “Let there be gentle”; and there was gentle. And God noticed that the gentle was good; and God separated the gentle from the darkness. And God referred to as the gentle day, and the darkness He referred to as evening. And there was night and there was morning, someday.

The literary strategy of gentle previous the our bodies that give gentle (solar, moon, stars) wouldn’t have introduced any of the fashionable scientific puzzlements to the minds of the historical viewers. For they believed that not all gentle got here from solar. There was nonetheless gentle when solar was down and when eclipsed. Even when clouds lined all of the heavenly our bodies, there was nonetheless gentle.14 Somewhat, the literary selection right here that might have been obvious to the historical viewers was in the portrayal of God as the one who holds the energy of gentle as a created factor.15 This stood in stark distinction to different myths that portrayed gentle as a necessary component of the deities or as a being dominated by the solar god. Right here, it’s merely one of many creations of God.

Extra importantly, gentle is seen right here as the regulator of time, since its’ creation brings about the first day.16 It organized the totality of time.17 Additionally it is of word that the days begin with night. As every half is ordered and/or bursts forth with blessed life it culminates in God’s approval after which evening–a time of relaxation for the inhabitants of creation who transfer and work in the daylight. In different phrases, God’s order brings relaxation.

Genesis 1:6-8: Then God stated, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse, and separated the waters which have been beneath the expanse from the waters which have been above the expanse; and it was so. And God referred to as the expanse heaven. And there was night and there was morning, a second day.

Word right here that whereas He has the energy to merely “communicate” issues into existence, He additionally “creates” the issues that want type. He’s forming them in accordance with their variety. The 2 issues he doesn’t bodily type (the gentle and the dry land) haven’t any particular type in accordance with any particular variety; however the vault of the sky, the solar and moon, and the animals every have a type crafted by God. That is one other literary assemble emphasizing God’s focus on forming issues in accordance with their variety.

Additionally, discover the exclusion of God perceiving that, “it was good.” There are solely two components in creation that God doesn’t single out, perceiving their goodness: the heavens and man. Many theological conclusions might be pulled from this omission; nevertheless, they’d largely be speculative in nature.

Genesis 1:9-10: Then God stated, “Let the waters beneath the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land seem”; and it was so. And God referred to as the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He referred to as seas; and God noticed that it was good.

Of curiosity on this motion of God is the undeniable fact that He didn’t take away the evils of darkness and water. He as an alternative incorporates them by limiting them and giving them a correct place.18

Genesis 1:11-13: Then God stated, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, crops yielding seed, and fruit timber bearing fruit after their variety, with seed in them, on the earth”; and it was so. And the earth introduced forth vegetation, crops yielding seed after their variety, and timber bearing fruit, with seed in them, after their variety; and God noticed that it was good. And there was night and there was morning, a 3rd day.

Once more God is seen right here as the ruler over all. Even that which He doesn’t create with His personal fingers, He’s nonetheless sovereign over by command. We are going to see this later on with the blessings over all the creatures. He created the first and it is just via His blessing of them that they can reproduce, an act that when employed is merely finished so beneath the authority and can of God.

This command of the earth to supply vegetation didn’t give it divine standing, slightly nature’s manufacturing of vegetation is merely a proper given to it by God and in producing every season it’s displaying itself to be topic to God’s command. This cautious literary construction undercuts any pitfalls of pantheism. With out God, creation is non-existent, and with out His command, creation is impotent to carry forth its produce.

Genesis 1:14-19: Then God stated, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the evening, and allow them to be for indicators, and for seasons, and for days and years; and allow them to be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to present gentle on the earth”; and it was so. And God made the two nice lights, the larger gentle to control the day, and the lesser gentle to control the evening; He made the stars additionally. And God positioned them in the expanse of the heavens to present gentle on the earth, and to control the day and the evening, and to separate the gentle from the darkness; and God noticed that it was good. And there was night and there was morning, a fourth day.

As much as this second of creation God has divided, ordered and created house. Nonetheless, He now begins to make use of that “goodness” for an additional goal by injecting it with entities. In doing so, He produces additional “goodness” and brings additional blessing into creation, in addition to giving creation stewards to make sure its continued order and due to this fact goodness.

On this first placement of entities into creation we once more see God limiting and proscribing the affect of darkness with gentle.19 Second solely to the creation of man, the creation of the solar and moon are given the most consideration. The outline is each detailed for readability and repetitive for emphasis.20 Wenham observes a primary construction for this21:

A. to divide the day from the evening 14a

B. for indicators, for fastened occasions, for days and years 14b

C. to present gentle on the earth 15

D. to rule the day 16a

D’. to rule the evening 16b

C’. to present gentle on the earth 17

B’. to rule the day and the evening 18a

A’. to divide the gentle from the darkness 18b

Conspicuous by its absence is any identify for the solar, moon or stars. All of the different creations are both given a reputation (days 1-3) or given a blessing (days 5-6). Nonetheless, on this prolonged part, neither identify nor blessing is given. This can be a delicate means of disagreeing with historical Close to East, downgrading the widespread deification of the heavenly our bodies.22

Genesis 1:20-25: Then God stated, “Let the waters teem with swarms of dwelling creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” And God created the nice sea monsters, and each dwelling creature that strikes, with which the waters swarmed after their variety, and each winged chicken after its variety; and God noticed that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was night and there was morning, a fifth day. Then God stated, “Let the earth carry forth dwelling creatures after their variety: cattle and creeping issues and beasts of the earth after their variety”; and it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth after their variety, and the cattle after their variety, and every little thing that creeps on the floor after its variety; and God noticed that it was good.

Subsequent God fills the seas, the earth, and the skies with the animal kingdom. The poetic expressions of the filling of creation with immense magnificence and springing selection is effectively represented by the repeating construction finest realized in the unique Hebrew. Wenham makes an attempt to put vv.24-25 into the following chiasm23:

A. cattle creeping issues

B. wild animals

B’. wild animals

A’. cattle creeping issues

Nonetheless, a better studying of the textual content reveals a repetition, slightly than a chiasm:

A. Introductory Components: God Instructions:

B. Speech Correct

1. Let the Earth Carry Forth…In accordance with its Sort

2. The Varieties listed

3. Restatement: every in accordance with its Sort

C. God’s Command: Was So

B’. Motion Correct

1. And God made…In accordance with its Sort

2. The Varieties listed

3. Restatement: every in accordance with its Sort

C’. God’s Motion: and it was so.

Genesis 1:26-28: Then God stated, “Let Us make man in Our picture, in accordance with Our likeness; and allow them to rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over each creeping factor that creeps on the earth.” And God created man in His personal picture, in the picture of God He created him; female and male He created them. And God blessed them; and God stated to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over each dwelling factor that strikes on the earth.”

This oddity of God taking counsel with Himself or with different deities has been profusely debated, however no satisfaction has emerged as the hallmark argument. If one holds to the late relationship of the JEDP concept, then a polytheistic rendering of “our” couldn’t be readily accepted. The opposite excessive of it being merely a self-encouragement can also be pointless from a being who shaped the whole cosmos with little to no effort.

The writer’s focus of this part of the creation account will not be on the nature of God, however slightly on explaining in nice element many theological ideas concerning man. Thus, it’s sensible on this part to spend extra time addressing this situation of the nature of man. For these verses supply us: 1) the most phrases used to explain any half of creation; 2) it’s the solely time God takes counsel earlier than creating; 3) man is created in the picture of God; 4) three of the seven occasions the phrase create is used is current right here with the creation of people; 5) a pronouncement of blessing on people; and 6) offers them authority.24

That is vital as a result of it offers humanity a framework from which to know its position in the total created order: 1) entrusting we who bear His picture with stewardship over the earth; 2) God has set boundaries inside which the varied dimensions of the created order fulfill their functions; 3) God assigns duties and obligations to varied members of creation, for instance lights in heaven for occasions and seasons; 4) no member of the created order is a deity; and 5) in resting God supplies a interval of time for people to take pleasure in the magnificence of the created order. As well as, this counters false worldviews of dualism, astrology, nihilism, and philosophies that devalue human life.25

Genesis 1:29-31: Then God stated, “Behold, I’ve given you each plant yielding seed that’s on the floor of all the earth, and each tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be meals for you; and to each beast of the earth and to each chicken of the sky and to each factor that strikes on the earth which has life, I’ve given each inexperienced plant for meals”; and it was so. And God noticed all that He had made, and behold, it was excellent. And there was night and there was morning, the sixth day.

Wehman and Westermann argue that telling man he can eat of the earth stands in distinction to the mesopotamian tales the place man was created to produce the gods with meals.26 Whereas this can be a real assertion, it doesn’t observe with the bigger message of the textual content. If “meals for man” as an alternative of “man for meals” was the coronary heart of the message then the literary repetition of giving all of vegetation to the animal kingdom after giving it to mankind appears to sidetrack the focus, that’s, if the focus was on this reversal of the Mesopotamian creation account.

A better studying of the literary focus of the whole creation account reveals that holding divisions and limits is the most essential thrust of God’s will. To eat of one other variety is to interrupt these boundaries, and so the message of these verses when learn in context appears to favor God supplying all of the dwelling creation with a way to nourish itself with out crossing the boundaries that permit for order and life.

Genesis 2:1-3: Thus the heavens and the earth have been accomplished, and all their hosts. And by the seventh day God accomplished His work which He had finished; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had finished. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, as a result of in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

Whereas it’s simple to learn this as an absence from or in distinction to the first six days of creation, that’s not absolutely the case. On this last day of the creation account, God offers the last division, that of regular time and holy time.27 It’s attention-grabbing that God begins by creating the means for the passage of time (gentle) on the first day after which offers our bodies to rule over this “creation clock” (solar & moon) on the fourth day and at last He sanctifies and divides time on the seventh day. Word additionally the threefold use of the phrase “seventh” in 2:2-3.28

Nonetheless, the seventh day will not be merely one other day of creation. The truth that there isn’t any parallel to the sabbath day exhibits “a place of emphasis.”29 The blessing and hallowing listed below are putting phrases, contemplating that God often reserves blessing for God, man, and animals. The divine blessing that rests on the animate members of creation result in fruitfulness, success, multiplication. Thus, it’s paradoxical that the day on which God refrains from inventive exercise is pronounced blessed.30 There’s then the suggestion that those that observe the sabbath will take pleasure in divine blessing of their lives.


Calvin, John, Calvin’s Commentaries: The First Ebook of Moses Referred to as Genesis, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Firm, 1948.

Dorsey, David A., The Literary Construction of the Outdated Testomony, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999.

Hartley, John, Genesis, Peabody, MA: Henderickson Publishers, 2000.

Holladay, William L. Ed., A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Outdated Testomony, Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Firm.

Kidner, Derek, Genesis, Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1977.

Speiser, E. A. , The Anchor Bible, Genesis, Backyard Metropolis, New York: Doubleday & Firm, Inc., 1964.

Walton, John H.; Matthews, Victor H.; Chavalas, Mark W.; The Bible Background Commentary: Outdated Testomony, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000.

Von Rad, Gerhard, Genesis: A Commentary, Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1956.

Wenham, Gordon J., Phrase Biblical Commentary, Vol.1: Genesis 1-15, Waco, TX: Phrase Books, 1987.

Westermann, Claus, Genesis: A Sensible Commentary, Grand Rapids: MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987.


1 E. A. Speiser, The Anchor Bible, Genesis, (Backyard Metropolis, New York: Doubleday & Firm, Inc., 1964), p. 10.

2 Gordon J. Wenham, Phrase Biblical Commentary, Vol.1: Genesis 1-15, (Waco, TX: Phrase Books, 1987) p. 29; Kidner additionally alludes to the phrase God getting used 35 occasions, although not in reference to the repetitions of seven. Derek Kidner, Genesis, (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1977) p. 43.

Three Wenham, p. 29.

Four David A. Dorsey, The Literary Construction of the Outdated Testomony, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), p. 49. (Day 1: 31, Day 2: 38, Day 3: 69, Day 4: 69, Day 5: 57, Day 6: 149)

5 Wenham, p. 6. Double announcement: vv 9, 11, 24, 26; Double approval vv 10, 12, 25.

6 William L. Holladay Ed., A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Outdated Testomony, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Firm), p. 334.

7 Wenham, p. 16.

Eight John H. Walton, Victor H. Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, The Bible Background Commentary: Outdated Testomony, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), p. 28.

9 Wenham, p. 16.

10 Ibid, p. 17.

11 John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries: The First Ebook of Moses Referred to as Genesis, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Firm, 1948), p. 74.

12 Kidner, p. 45.

13 Gerhard von Rad, Genesis: A Commentary, (Philapelphia: Westminster Press, 1956), p. 46.

14 Walton, Matthews, Chavalas, p. 28.

15 Calvin, p. 76.

16 Walton, Matthews, Chavalas, p. 28.

17 Claus Westermann, Genesis: A Sensible Commentary, (Grand Rapids: MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987), p.7.

18 Hartley, p. 41.

19 Ibid, p. 44.

20 Wenham, p. 21.

21 Ibid, p. 22.

22 See additionally: Walton, Matthews, Chavalas, pp. 28f.

23 Wenham, p. 25.

24 Hartley, p. 40.

25 Ibid.

26 Wenham, p. 33; Westermann, p. 11.

27 Hartley, p. 50.

28 Wenham, p. 35.

29 Dorsey, p. 49.

30 Wenham, p. 36.

© 2005 Matthew Daniel Freeman. All rights reserved.


Source by Matthew Daniel Freeman


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here