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The second verse may describe the condition of the earth on the evening of this first day; (for in the Jewish mode of computation used by Moses, each day is reckoned from the
creatures of God's hand, do we at all mean that we were physically formed out of nothing. In like manner, whether bara should he paraphrased by " created out of nothing" (as far as we can comprehend these words), or, "gave a new and distinct state of existenoe to a substance already existing," must depend upon the context, the circumstances, or what God has elsewhere revealed, not upon the mere force of the word. This is plain, from its use in Gen. i. 27, of the creation of man, who, as we are instructed, chap. ii. 7, was formed out of previously existing matter, the " dust of the ground." The word bara is indeed so far stronger than asah, "made," in that bara can only be used with reference to God, whereas asah may be applied to man. The difference is exactly that which exists in English between the words by which they are rendered, "created" and "made." But this seems to me to belong rather to our mode of conception than to the subject itself; for making, when spoken of with reference to God, is equivalent to creating.
The words accordingly, bara, created—asah—made yatsar, formed, are used repeatedly by Isaiah and are also employed by Amos, as equivalent to each other. Bara and asah express alike a formation of something new (de novo,) something whose existence in this new state, originated in, and depends entirely upon the will of its creator or maker. Thus God speaks of Himself as the Creator "boree" of the Jewish people, e. g. Isaiah xliii. I, 15; and a new event is spoken of under the same term as a " creation," Numb. xiv. 30. English version, " If the Lord make a new thing;" in the margin, Heb. "create a creature." Again, the Psalmist uses the same word, Ps. civ. 30, when describing the renovation of the face of the earth through the successive generations of living creatures, "Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created; and thou renewest the face of the earth." The question is popularly treated by Beausobre, Hist, de Manicheisme, torn. ii. lib. 5, c. 4; or, in a better spirit, by Petavius Dogm. Theol. torn. iii. de opificio sex dierum, lib. 1, c. 1, § 8.
After having continually re-read and studied this account, I can come to no other rosult thstn that the words "created" and "made" are synonymous, (although the former is to us the stronger of the two,) and that because they arc so constantly interchanged; as, Gen. i. ver. 21, "God created great whales :" ver. 25, "God made the beast of the earth;" ver. 26, " Let us make man;" ver. 27, "So God created man." At the same time it is very probable that bara, "created" as being the stronger word, was selected to describe the first production of the heaven and the earth. ,
beginning of one evening to the beginning of another evening.) This first evening may be considered as the termination of the indefinite time which followed the primeval
The point, however, upon which the interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis appears to me really to turn, is, whether the first two verses are merely a summary statement of what is related in detail in the rest of the chapter, and a sort of introduction to it, or whether they contain, an account of an act of creation. And this last seems to me to be their true interpretation, first, because there is no other account of the creatioa of the, earth; secondly, the second verse describes the condition of the earth when so created, and thus prepares for the account of the work of the six days ; but if they speak of any creation, it appears to me that this creation uin the beginning" was previous to the six days, because, as you will observe, the creation of each day is preceded by the declaration that God said, or willed, that such things should be f" and God said ") and therefore the very form of the narrative seems to imply that the creation of the first day began when these words are first used, i. e. with the creation of light in vcr. 3. The time then of the creation in ver. 1, appears to me not to be defined: we are told only what alone we are concerned with; that all things were made by God. Nor is this any new opinion. Many of the fathers (they are quoted by Petavius, I. c. c. 11, § i.—viii.) supposed the first two verses of Genesis to contain an account of a distinct and prior act of creation; some, as Augustine, Theodoret and others, that of the creation of matter; others, that of the elements; others again (and they the most numerous) imagine that, not these visible heavens, but what they think to be called elsewhere "the highest heavens," the "heaven of heavens," are here spoken of, our visible heavens being related to have been created on the second day. Petavius himself regards the light as the only act of creation of the first day (c. vii. "de opcre primce diei, i. e. luce,") considering the first two verses as a summary of the account of creation which was about to follow, and a general declaration that all things were made by God.
Episcopius again, and others, thought that the creation and fall of the bad angels took place in the interval here spoken of: and misplaced as such speculations are, still they seem to show that it is natural to suppose that a considerable interval may have taken place between the creatioa. related in the first verse of Genesis and that of which an account is given in the third and following verses. Accordingly, in some old editions of the English Bible, where there is no division into verses, you actually find a break at the end of what is now the second verse; and in Luther's Bible (Wittenburg, 1557) you have in addition to the notation of the verses
creation announced in the first verse, and as the commencement of the first of the six succeeding days, in which the earth was to be placed in a condition, and peopled in a manner fit for the reception of mankind. We have in this second verse, a distinct mention of earth and waters, as already existing, and involved in darkness; their condition also is described as a state of confusion and emptiness, (tohu bohu,) words which are usually interpreted by the vague and indefinite Greek term "chaos," and which may be geologically considered as designating the wreck and ruins of a former world. At this intermediate point of time, the precedingundefined geological periods had terminated, a new series of events commenced, and the work of the first morning of this new creation was the calling forth of light from a temporary darkness, which had overspread the ruins of the ancient earth.*
the figure 1 placed against the third verse, as being the beginning of the account of the creation on the first day.
This then is just the sort of confirmation which one wished for, because, though one would shrink from the impiety of bending the language of God's book, to any other than its obvious meaning, we cannot help fearing lest we might be unconsciously influenced by the floating opinions of our own day, and therefore turn the more anxiously to those who explained Holy Scriptures before these theories existed. You must allow me to add that I would not define farther. We know nothing of creation, nothing of ultimate causes, nothing of space, except what is bounded by actual existing bodies, nothing of time, but what is limited by the revolution of those bodies. I should be very sorry to appear to dogmatize upon that, of which it requires very little reflection, or reverence, to confess that we are necessarily ignorant. "Hardly do we guess aright of things that are upon the earth, and with labour do we find the things that are before us; but the things that are in heaven who hath searched uut ?"—Wisdom, ix. 16.—E. B. Pusey.
* I learn from Professor Pusey that the words "let there be light," yehi or, Gen. i. 3, by no means necessarily imply any more than the English words by which they are translated, that light had never existed before. They may speak only of the substitution of light for darkness upon the surface of this, our planet: whether light had existed before in other parts of God's creation, or had existed upon this earth, before the darkness described in v. 2, is foreign to the purpose of the narrative.
We have farther mention of this ancient earth and ancient sea in the ninth verse, in which the waters are commanded to be gathered together into one place, and the dry land to appear; this dry land being the same earth whose material creation had been announced in the first verse, and whose temporary submersion and temporary darkness are described in the second verse; the appearance of the land and the gathering together of the waters are the only facts affirmed respecting them in the ninth verse, but neither land- nor waters are said to have been created on the third day.
A similar interpretation may be given of the fourteenth and four succeeding verses; what is herein stated of the celestial luminaries seems to be spoken solely with reference to our planet, and more especially to the human race, then about to be placed upon it. We are not told that the substance of the sun and moon were first called into existence upon the fourth day:"* the text may equally imply that these bodies were then prepared, and appointed to certain offices, of high importance to mankind; "to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day, and over the night," "to be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years." The fact of their creation had been stated before in the first verse. The stars also are mentioned (Gen. i. 16) in three words only, almost parenthetically; as if for the sole purpose of announcing, that they also were made by the same Power, as those luminaries which are more important to us, the sun and moon.f This very slight notice of the countless host of celestial bodies, all of which are probably suns, the centres of other planetary systems, whilst our little satellite, the moon, is mentioned as next in importance to the sun, shows clearly that astronomical phenomena are here spoken of only according to their relative importance to our earth, and to mankind, and without any regard to their real importance in the boundless universe. It seems impossible to include the fixed stars among those bodies which are said (Gen. i. v. 17,) to have been set in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth; since without the aid of telescopes, by far the greater number of them are invisible. The same principle seems to pervade the description of creation which concerns our planet: the creation of its component matter having been announced in the first verse, the phenomena of Geology, like those of astronomy, are passed over in silence, and the narrative proceeds at once to details of the actual creation which have more immediate reference to man.* .
* See notes, p. 27 and p. 30.
t The literal translation of the words veeth haccocabim, is, "And the stars."—E. B. Pusey.
* The following observations by Bishop Gleig (though, at the time of writing them, he was not entirely convinced of the reality of facts annonnced by geological discoveries) show his opinion of the facility of so interpreting the Mosaic account of creation, as to admit of an indefinite lapse of time prior to the existence of the human race.
"I am indeed strongly inclined to believe that the matter of the corporeal universe was all created at once, though different portions of it may have been reduced to form at very different periods; when the universe was created, or how long the solar system remained in a chaotic state are vain inquiries, to which no answer can be given. Moses records the history of the earth only in its present state; he affirms, indeed, that it was created, and that it was without form and void, when the spirit of God began to move on the surface of the fluid mass; but, he does not say how long that mass had been in the state of chaos, or whether it was, or was not the wreck of some former system, which had been inhabited by living creatures of different kinds from those which occupy the present. I say this, not to meet the objection which has sometimes been urged against the Mosaic cosmogony, from its representing the works of creation as being no more than six or seven thousand years old, for Moses gives no such representation of the age of those works. However distant the period may be, and it is probably very distant, when God created the heavens and the earth: there has been a time when it was not distant one year, one day, or one hour. Those, therefore, who contend that the glory of the Almighty God manifested in his works, cannot be limited to the short period of six or seven thousand years, are not aware that the same objection may be made to the longest period which can