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BibliaTodo Commentaries

Peake Arthur S. and Grieve A. J. - Peake's Comment
Genesis 1

1. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

2. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

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

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

5. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

6. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

7. And God made the firmament, and divided 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 the evening and the morning were the second day.

9. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

10. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

11. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

12. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

13. And the evening and the morning were the third day.

14. And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

15. And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

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

17. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

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.

19. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

20. And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

21. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his 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 fowl multiply in the earth.

23. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

24. And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

25. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

26. And 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 fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

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

28. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

29. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

30. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

31. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Genesis 1

Gen 1:1 to Gen 2:4 a. The Priestly Story of Creation.—This section belongs to the Priestly Document (P). This is shown by the use of several of its characteristic terms, by the constant repetition of the formulæ, and by the formal arrangement. P’s interest in the origin of religious institutions is displayed in the explanation of the origin of the Sabbath. The lofty monotheism of the section is also characteristic of his theological position. The story rests upon a much older tradition, mainly, it would seem, Babylonian in its origin. There are several striking parallels with the Babylonian creation legend. The “deep” or watery chaos (tehom) (Gen 1:12) corresponds to the Babylonian Tiamat. Darkness is over this chaos. There is a rending of sky and earth from each other, and the creation of a solid expanse or firmament which divides the upper waters from the waters of the earth, and in which the heavenly bodies are placed. There are also serious differences, due largely to the absence of the polytheistic and mythological element from the Biblical account (p. 51). Even if the Spirit of God that broods over the abyss is a remnant of mythology, yet the Hebrew account represents God as existing before the creative process begins, and as willing and controlling it, whereas in the Babylonian legend the gods come into existence during the process. Nor is there any trace of opposition between the abyss and the creative power in Genesis; though it is not said that chaos was created by God, it rather seems to have an independent existence beside Him. The Phœnician cosmogony presents striking parallels, such as the existence at first of chaos and spirit, and the egg, from which the universe was produced, which seems to be implied in the Hebrew narrative in the reference to the brooding of the Spirit. It is probable, in spite of the striking differences, that the Biblical account has its ultimate origin in the Babylonian mythology rather than that both are, as Dillmann thinks, independent developments of a primitive Semitic myth. Gunkel has argued forcibly that the work of creation was explained by analogy from the rebirth of the world in spring after the winter, or in the morning after the night, and that the phenomena depicted can have been suggested only in an alluvial country like Babylonia. But it has derived elements from other sources, especially Phœnician and possibly Egyptian. It appears to have been formed in Palestine, for the purification of the story would involve a long process, and one which would be complete only at a late point in the pre-exilic period. In its present form it is probably not earlier than the exile, and was presumably written on Babylonian soil. But it is most unlikely that the Priestly writer, belonging, as he did, to the rigid school of Ezekiel, should have borrowed consciously from Babylonian mythology. At what time this myth reached Israel is much disputed. Some think the Hebrews brought it with them from Mesopotamia; others place it in the period known to us from the Tell el-Amarna tablets (about 1450 B.C.) when Babylonian culture exerted great influence on Western Asia and Egypt; others again think of the period of Assyrian rule over Judah. It is unlikely that the Hebrews, even if they brought the Babylonian legend with them from Mesopotamia, would preserve it through all their subsequent experiences. More probably they derived it from the Canaanites, who may have learnt it from the Babylonians in the Tell el-Amarna period (see p. 51). We can thus account for the Canaanite elements that appear to have been incorporated. Some scholars hold that the Hebrews elaborated the creation doctrine at a late period. This does not at all follow from the silence of the earlier prophets, even if, as is not unlikely, the creation passages in Amos are a later addition (pp. 551, 554). For these prophets had little occasion to speak of it. And there are references in the other literature which seem to be early. This is specially true of the creation story in Genesis 2. And in Solomon’s dedication words at the consecration of the Temple, restored by Wellhausen from the LXX (p. 298), we read “Yahweh hath set the sun in the heavens.” So also in Exo 20:11, which, even if a later addition to the Decalogue, is probably pre-exilic, we read that “in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth.” It would be strange if, when the surrounding peoples had creation narratives, Israel had none. Whether the Priestly writer himself originated the division into six days is uncertain. It is clearly later than the enumeration of the works as eight. For in order to get eight works into six days it has been necessary to put two works on the third and two on the sixth day; and in neither case is the pair well matched; in the former we have the separation of land and water combined with the creation of vegetation, in the latter land-animals and man are created on the same day, though from the lofty position assigned to man, we should have expected his creation to have taken place on a day reserved for it. But the six days’ work and the seventh day’s rest are probably not due to the Priestly writer. The Sabbath rest for God is so anthropomorphic an idea, that P, who does not represent God as subject to human limitations and affections, must have borrowed it from an older source. Both the six days’ work and seventh day’s rest are found in Exo 20:11. If this is dependent on our passage, it yields no evidence for an earlier origin of the six days’ scheme. But although it does not occur in the Deuteronomic version of the Decalogue, the reason for the commandment substituted in Deu 5:15 probably had its origin in the humane spirit of the Deuteronomic legislation. The differences between Exo 20:11 and Gen 2:2 are also of a kind to exclude the dependence of the former on the latter. It may, therefore, be assumed that not only the division of creation into eight works but the period of six days lay ready to the author’s hand. As it is not found in the Babylonian or Phœnician cosmogonies, it seems probable that the six days’ scheme is of Israelitish origin. The eight works may have been borrowed ultimately from a foreign source. Those who are interested in the once burning question as to the relation between this narrative and modern science should consult the very thorough discussion in Driver’s Commentary. Here it must suffice to say that the value of the narrative is not scientific but religious; that it imperils faith to insist on literal accuracy in a story which can only by unjustifiable forcing be made to yield it; that it was more in harmony with the method of inspiration to take current views and purify them so that they might be fit vehicles of religious truth than to anticipate the progress of research by revealing prematurely what men could in due time discover for themselves; and finally that even if this narrative could be harmonised with our present knowledge, we should have the task of harmonising the very different narrative in the second chapter both with the present story and with modern science, (See further p. 12.)

Gen 1:6-8. When, on the second morning, light resumes the sway which had been interrupted by the night, God begins the task of evolving order out of chaos. First He makes a “firmament,” by which is meant a solid vault over-arching the earth. Then the waters of the abyss are divided into two portions, one of which is placed above this firmament, to constitute the waters of the upper or heavenly ocean, the other left where it was, to form “the deep that coucheth beneath” (Gen 49:25). This, it must be understood, is not identical with the ocean, though the ocean issued from it (Job 38:8-11); it is beneath both sea and land. It feeds the sea through openings in the bed of the ocean, “the springs of the sea” (Job 38:16*) or “the fountains of the great deep” (Gen 7:11). In the vault of the sky there are “windows” (Gen 7:11) or sluices (“the channel for the waterflood,” Job 38:25 *); when these are opened the waters of the heavenly ocean stream down on the earth in the form of torrential rain. The representation of the division of the waters of the abyss probably goes back to the Babylonian account of the division of the corpse of Tiamat by Marduk after that deity had vanquished her. We are told that he split her in two like a flat fish, and made one half a covering for the heaven; then he fixed a bar and set a watchman, bidding them not let her waters escape. The other half of the corpse is said by Berossus (third century B.C.) to have been made into the earth; and we can hardly doubt that, though this is not explicitly stated in our cuneiform sources, it correctly represents the authentic Babylonian view. The formula “and it was so” has been accidentally transferred from its proper place at the end of Genesis 6, where the LXX reads it, to the end of Genesis 7. The omission of the clause “and God saw that it was good” may be accidental, the LXX reads it after heaven.”

Gen 1:9-13. Two acts are assigned to the third day, the separation of land and water, and the creation of vegetation. The former was apparently effected by the draining of the waters which covered the land into a receptacle (for “one place” LXX reads “one gathering”), so that the dry land emerged into view. It was now possible for it to be clothed with vegetation, first the tender grass, then the herbs or larger plants, and finally trees, especially those that bore fruit. Thus the way is prepared for the creation of man and animal, their food-supply being now provided (Gen 1:29 f.). Possibly, however, the term “grass” may be intended to cover “herb” and “tree,” in which case it means not grass but all vegetation in its earliest stage. The herb yields seed, the tree yields seed enclosed in fruit. Each genus remains fixed, and reproduces “after its kinds” (render by the plural here and in Gen 1:12; Gen 1:24 f.), i.e. the various species embraced in it.

Gen 1:14-19. The second set of four works on the last three days corresponds to the set of four on the first three. Thus we have the creation of light and of the luminaries; the firmament separating the upper from the lower waters, and the birds which fly across the firmament and the fish in the sea; the appearance of the land and creation of land animals; finally the creation of herbs and fruit, and the creation of man, who till the Flood subsists entirely upon these. The heavenly bodies are described as they appear to us. hence the stars are a mere appendix to the “two great lights,” added almost as an after-thought, possibly by some scribe or reader. The plain meaning of the passage is that the lights were created on the fourth day, not that they had been created before and only then became visible! They are attached to the firmament, and serve as lamps for the earth. They also regulate the festivals and other occasions, secular as well as sacred, and the divisions between day and night, and they determine the length of the year. They serve, moreover, as “signs,” perhaps in the astrological sense as foreshadowing the future. But they are not to be worshipped, nor are they even represented here, as often in Scripture, as animated beings (Gen 1:21*).

Gen 1:20-23. On the fifth day were created the denizens of the water and the atmosphere; the creatures that move in swarms in the water, all winged creatures, including insects, and the sea monsters, especially, perhaps, such as belong to mythology, and fishes. The rendering “bring forth abundantly” is inaccurate; the margin gives the sense, though it would be better to translate with Driver. “Let the waters swarm with swarming things (even) living souls.” The term is used of creatures that move in swarms whether in the water (as here) or out of it. The RV often renders it “creeping things” (similarly the verb), which is the proper rendering of a noun (remes) Gen 1:24, the verb of which is translated “moveth” in Gen 1:21. On the distinction see Driver’s article, Creeping Things, in HDB. The rendering “creature that hath life” is more tolerable to the English ear than “living souls,” but it conceals the interesting fact that the term “souls” could be used of the lower creation as well as of men. There is no necessity to infer that the author regarded the winged creatures as derived from the water. The fact that they fly in “front of the firmament,” i.e. skim the surface of the sky turned towards the earth, shows that the writer regarded it as quite near.

Gen 1:24-31. The sixth day is occupied with the creation of the land animals and of man. It is natural that a much fuller space than usual should be accorded to the latter. And the solemnity of the act is marked by the formula of deliberation, “Let us make man.” The plural has been variously explained. Setting aside as beyond the range of the OT the view that the Father addresses the Son and the Holy Spirit, and the view that God speaks of Himself in the plural since He is the fulness of energies and powers, as too artificial, the most obvious explanation is that God is addressing the heavenly assembly (cf. 1Ki 22:19-22, Isa 6:8). Yet there is difficulty in this view, for P ignores angels altogether; nor would he regard them as sharing in the work of creation: nor, probably, would he think of man as made in their image as well as in God’s; cf. Gen 1:27, “in his own image, in the image of God.” The original sense was perhaps polytheistic; naturally this was impossible to the author, and if he reflected on the formula he would presumably interpret it of the heavenly council. No distinction seems to be intended between the image and the likeness. Originally this may have been physically conceived; man was thought to be like God in external appearance. But the author presumably would be drawn rather to a spiritual and intellectual interpretation, laying stress on man’s community of nature with God. Creation in the image of God differentiates man from all other creatures on the earth (cf. Gen 9:6), hence he is fitted to rule over them (for “over all the earth” in Gen 1:26 read over every living creature of the earth,” with the Syriac); cf. the fine development of the theme in Psalms 8, and the deeper discussion in Heb 2:5-9. The reference to the creation of both sexes most naturally suggests that they originated at the same time, a view very different from that followed in the other creation story, Gen 2:18-23. Men and animals are regarded as living on a vegetarian diet in the period before the Flood (Gen 9:3 f.). There would thus be peace between men and animals, and in the animal world itself. To man is allotted the seed and fruit, to beasts and birds “the greenness of herbs” (Gen 1:30), i.e. the leafage. Gen 1:24. Render, “Let the earth bring forth living soul after its kinds.”— Gen 1:28. The change from “fill” in Gen 1:22 to “replenish” here is misleading to the modern reader, who is unaware that at an earlier period the words were equivalent in sense. The same Heb. word is used in both places and in Gen 9:1. Gen 1:29 f. meat: i.e. food, not animal food merely.

King James Version

This is the 1769 King James Version of the Holy Bible (also known as the Authorized Version). "Public Domain"