The Creation Account (Genesis 1:1 – Genesis 2:4): Days 1 and 2
Learning from a Closer Examination of the Bible Text
The following is a closer examination of the Bible text of the Creation account of Genesis Chapter 1:1 through to Genesis 2:4 for reasons that will become apparent in part 4. The author was brought up to believe that the creative days were 7,000 years each in length and that between the end of Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 there was an undeterminable gap of time. That belief was later changed to having indeterminate periods of time for each creation day to accommodate the current scientific opinion on the age of the earth. The age of the earth according to the widespread scientific thought, being of course based on the time required for evolution to take place and the current dating methods relied upon by the scientists which are fundamentally flawed in their very basis[i].
What follows is the exegetical understanding the author has now arrived at, by careful study of the Bible account. Looking at the Bible account without preconceptions has resulted in a change of understanding for some events recorded in the Creation account. Some, indeed, may find it difficult to accept these findings as presented. However, while the author is not being dogmatic, he nonetheless finds it difficult to argue against what is presented, especially taking in to account the information obtained from many discussions over the years with people holding all sorts of different views. In many instances, there is further evidence and information that backs up a particular understanding given here, but for the sake of brevity is omitted from this series. Furthermore, it is incumbent upon us all to be careful not to put into the scriptures any preconceived ideas, because many times they are later found to be inaccurate.
Readers are encouraged to check all the references for themselves so that they may see the weight of evidence, and the context and basis of conclusions in this series of articles, for themselves. Readers should also feel free to contact the author on particular points if they wish a more in-depth explanation and backup for the points made here.
Genesis 1:1 – The First Day of Creation
“In the beginning created God the heavens and the earth”.
These are words with which most readers of the Holy Bible are familiar. The phrase “In the beginning” is the Hebrew word “bereshith”[ii], and this is the Hebrew name for this first book of the Bible and also of the writings of Moses. Moses’ writings are commonly known today as the Pentateuch, a Greek word referring to the five books that this section is composed of: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, or the Torah (the Law) if one is of the Jewish faith.
What did God create?
The earth on which we live, and also the heavens which Moses and his audience could see above them when they look up, both during daylight and night. In the term heavens, he was thereby referring to both the visible universe and the universe invisible to the naked eye. The Hebrew word translated “created” is “bara”[iii] which means to shape, create, form. It is interesting to note that the word “bara” when used in its absolute form is exclusively used in connection with an action of God. There are only a handful of instances where the word is qualified and not used in connection with an action of God.
The “heavens” is “shamayim”[iv] and is plural, encompassing all. The context can qualify it, but in this context, it does not just refer to just the sky, or the earth’s atmosphere. That becomes clear as we continue to read on the following verses.
Psalm 102:25 agrees, saying “Long ago you laid the foundations of the earth itself, and the heavens are the work of your hands” and was quoted by the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 1:10.
It is interesting that the current geological thinking of the structure of the earth is that it has a molten core of multiple layers, with tectonic plates[v] forming a skin or crust, which form the land as we know it. There is thought to be a granitic continental crust up to 35km thick, with a thinner oceanic crust, on top of the earth’s mantle which envelops the outer and inner cores.[vi] This forms a foundation on which various sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rocks erode and form soil along with decomposing vegetation.
The context of Genesis 1:1 also qualifies heaven, in that while it is more than the earth’s atmosphere, it is reasonable to conclude that it cannot include the abode of God, as God created these heavens, and God and his Son already existed and hence had an abode.
Do we have to tie this statement in Genesis to any of the prevailing theories in the world of science? No, because simply put, science only has theories, which change like the weather. It would be like the game of pinning the tail onto a picture of the donkey while blindfolded, the chance of it being exactly correct are slim to none, but we can all accept that the donkey should have a tail and where it is!
What was this the beginning of?
The universe as we know it.
Why do we say the universe?
Because according to John 1:1-3 “In the beginning the Word was and the Word was with the God, and the Word was a god. This one was in the beginning with the God. All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence”. What we can take from this is that when Genesis 1:1 talks about God creating the heavens and the earth, the Word was also included, as it clearly states, “all things came into existence through him”.
The next natural question is, how did the Word come into existence?
The answer according to Proverbs 8:22-23 is “Jehovah himself produced me as the beginning of his way, the earliest of his achievements of long ago. From time indefinite I was installed, from the start, from times earlier than the earth. When there were no watery deeps I was brought forth as with labor pains”. This passage of scripture is relevant to Genesis chapter 1:2. Here it states that the earth was formless and dark, covered in water. This would therefore again indicate that Jesus, the Word was in existence even before the earth.
The very first creation?
Yes. The statements of John 1 and Proverbs 8 are confirmed in Colossians 1:15-16 when regarding Jesus, the Apostle Paul wrote that “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible. … All [other] things have been created through him and for him”.
In addition, In Revelation 3:14 Jesus in giving the vision to the Apostle John wrote “These are the things that the Amen says, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation by God”.
These four scriptures clearly show that Jesus as the Word of God, was created first and then through him, with his assistance, everything else was created and came into existence.
What do Geologists, Physicists, and Astronomists have to say about the beginning of the universe?
In truth, it depends on which scientist you speak too. The prevalent theory changes with the weather. A popular theory for many years was the Big-Bang theory as evidenced in the book “Rare Earth”[viii] (by P Ward and D Brownlee 2004), which on page 38 stated, “The Big Bang is what nearly all physicists and astronomers believe is the actual origin of the universe”. This theory was seized on by many Christians as proof of the Bible’s account of creation, but this theory as the start of the universe is starting to fall out of favor in some quarters now.
At this juncture, it is good to introduce Ephesians 4:14 as a word of caution which will be applied throughout this series by the wording used, with regard to the current thinking in the scientific communities. It was where the Apostle Paul encouraged Christians “in order that we should no longer be babes, tossed about as by waves and carried hither and thither by every wind of teaching by means of the trickery of men”.
Yes, if we were metaphorically to put all our eggs in one basket and support one current theory of scientists, many of whom have no faith in the existence of God, even if that theory happens to give some support to the Bible account, we could end up with egg on our faces. Worse still, it could lead us to doubt the veracity of the Bible account. Did not the psalmist warn us not to put our trust in nobles, whom people usually look up too, which in the present day have been replaced by scientists (See Psalm 146:3). Let us, therefore, qualify our statements to others, such as by saying “if the Big Bang took place, as many scientists currently believe, that does not conflict with the Bible statement that the earth and the heavens had a beginning.”
Genesis 1:2 – The First Day of Creation (continued)
“And the earth was formless and void and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was moving to and from over the surface of the waters.”
The first phrase of this verse is “we-haares”, the conjunctive waw, which means “at the same time, in addition, furthermore”, and the like.[ix]
Therefore, there is no place linguistically to introduce a time gap between verse 1 and verse 2, and indeed the following verses 3-5. It was one continuous event.
Water – Geologists and Astrophysicists
When God first created the earth, it was completely covered in water.
Now it is interesting to note that it is a fact that water, especially in the quantity found on earth, is rare in stars, and planets throughout our solar system and in the wider universe as far as been currently detected. It can be found, but not in anything like the quantities it is found on earth.
In fact, Geologists and Astrophysicists have a problem as in their findings to date due to a technical but important detail as to how water is made at the molecular level they say “Thanks to Rosetta and Philae, scientists discovered that the ratio of heavy water (water made from deuterium) to “regular” water (made from regular old hydrogen) on comets was different than that on Earth, suggesting that, at most, 10% of Earth’s water could have originated on a comet”. [x]
This fact conflicts with their prevailing theories as to how planets form.[xi] This is all because of the scientist’s perceived need to find a solution that does not require special creation for a special purpose.
Yet Isaiah 45:18 clearly states why the earth was created. The scripture tells us “For this is what Jehovah has said, the creator of the heavens, He the true God, the former of the earth and the maker of it, He the one who firmly established it, who did not create it simply for nothing, who formed it even to be inhabited”.
This supports Genesis 1:2 which says that initially, the earth was formless and empty of life inhabiting it before God went on to shape the earth and create life to live upon it.
Scientists will not dispute the fact that almost all life-forms on earth require or contain water to live to a lesser or greater degree. Indeed, the average human body is around 53% water! The very fact there is so much water and that it is not like most of the water found on other planets or comets, would give strong circumstantial evidence for creation and hence in agreement with Genesis 1:1-2. Simply put, without water, life as we know it could not exist.
Genesis 1:3-5 – The First Day of Creation (continued)
“3 And God proceeded to say: “Let light come to be”. Then there came to be light. 4 After that God saw that the light was good and God brought about a division between the light and the darkness. 5 And God began calling the light Day, but the darkness he called Night. And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, a first day”.
However, on this first day of creation, God had not yet finished. He took the next step in preparing the earth for life of all kinds, (the first being creating the earth with water upon it). He made light. He also split the day [of 24 hours] into two periods one of Day [light] and one of Night [no light].
The term “Yom Kippur” may be familiar to those older in years. It is the Hebrew name for the “Day of Atonement”. It became widely known due to the Yom Kippur War launched on Israel by Egypt and Syria in 1973 on this day. Yom Kippur is on the 10th day of the 7th month (Tishri) in the Jewish Calendar which is late September, early October in the Gregorian calendar in common use. [xiii] Even today, it is a legal holiday in Israel, with no radio or tv broadcasts allowed, airports are shut, no public transportation, and all shops and businesses are closed.
“Yom” as the English term “day” in context can mean:
- ‘day’ as opposed to ‘night’. We clearly see this usage in the phrase “God began calling the light Day, but the darkness he called Night”.
- Day as a division of time, such as a working day [a number of hours or sunrise to sunset], a day’s journey [again a number of hours or sunrise to sunset]
- In the plural of (1) or (2)
- Day as in night and day [which implies 24 hours]
- Other similar uses, but always qualified such as the snowy day, the rainy day, day of my distress.
We, therefore, need to ask what of these usages does the day in this phrase refer to “And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, a first day”?
The answer has to be that a creative day was (4) a Day as in night and day totaling 24 hours.
Can it be argued as some do that it was not a 24-hour day?
The immediate context would indicate not. Why? Because there is no qualification of the “day”, unlike Genesis 2:4 where the verse clearly indicates that the days of creation are being termed a day as a period of time when it says “This is a history of the heavens and the earth in the time of their being created, in the day that Jehovah God made earth and heaven.” Notice the phrases “a history” and “in the day” rather than “on the day” which is specific. Genesis 1:3-5 is also a specific day because it is not qualified, and therefore it is interpretation uncalled for in the context to understand it differently.
Does the rest of the Bible as context help us?
The Hebrew words for “evening”, which is “ereb”[xiv], and for “morning”, which is “boqer”[xv], each occur over 100 times in the Hebrew scriptures. In every instance (outside of Genesis 1) they always refer to the normal concept of evening [starting the darkness of approximately 12 hours long], and morning [starting the daylight of approximately 12 hours long]. Therefore, without any qualifier, there is no basis to understand the usage of these words in Genesis 1 in a different way or timespan.
The reason for the sabbath day
Exodus 20:11 states “Remembering the sabbath day to hold it sacred, 9 you are to render service and you must do all your work six days. 10 But the seventh day is a sabbath to Jehovah your God. You must not do any work, you nor your son nor your daughter, your slave man nor your slave girl nor your domestic animal nor your alien resident who is inside your gates. 11 For in six days Jehovah made the heavens and the earth, the sea and everything that is in them, and he proceeded to rest on the seventh day. That is why Jehovah blessed the sabbath day and proceeded to make it sacred”.
The command given to Israel to keep the seventh day sacred was to remember that God rested on the seventh day from his creation and work. This is strong circumstantial evidence in the way that this passage was written that the days of creation were each 24 hours long. The command gave the reason for the sabbath day as the fact that God rested from working on the seventh day. It was comparing like for like, otherwise the comparison would have been qualified. (See also Exodus 31:12-17).
Isaiah 45:6-7 confirms the events of these verses of Genesis 1:3-5 when it says “in order that people may know from the rising of the sun and from its setting that there is none besides me. I am Jehovah, and there is no one else. Forming light and creating darkness”. Psalm 104:20, 22 in the same vein of thought declares about Jehovah, “You cause darkness, that it may become night … The sun begins to shine – they [wild animals of the forest] withdraw and they lie down in their hiding places”.
Leviticus 23:32 confirms that the sabbath would last from evening [sundown] to evening. It says, “From evening to evening you should observe the sabbath”.
We also have confirmation that the sabbath continued to start at sundown in the first Century even as it does today. The account of John 19 is about the death of Jesus. John 19:31 says “Then the Jews, since it was Preparation, in order that the bodies might not remain upon the torture stakes on the Sabbath, … requested Pilate to have their legs broken and the bodies taken away”. Luke 23:44-47 indicates this was after the ninth hour (which was 3 pm) with the sabbath starting around 6 pm, the twelfth hour of daylight.
The sabbath day still starts at sundown even today. (An example of this is well portrayed in the cinema film A Fiddler on the Roof).
The sabbath day starting in the evening is also good evidence for accepting that God’s creation on the first day started with darkness and ended with light, continuing on in this cycle through each day of creation.
Geological Evidence from the earth for a young earth-age
- The Earth’s granite core, and the half-life of Polonium: Polonium is a radioactive element with a half-life of 3 minutes. A study of 100,000 plus halos of the colored spheres produced by the radioactive decay of Polonium 218 found that the radioactive was in the original granite, also because of the short half-life the granite had to be cool and crystallized originally. Molten granite cooling would have meant all the Polonium would have been gone before it cooled and hence there would be no trace of it. It would take a very long time for a molten earth to cool. This argues for instant creation, rather than forming over hundreds of millions of years.[xvi]
- The decay in the earth’s magnetic field has been measured at about 5% per hundred years. At this rate, the earth will have no magnetic field in AD3391, just 1,370 years from now. Extrapolating back limits the age limit of the earth’s magnetic field in the thousands of years, not hundreds of millions.[xvii]
One final point to note is that while there was light, there was no definable or identifiable light source. That was to come later.
Day 1 of Creation, the Sun and Moon and Stars created, giving light in the day, in preparation for living things.
Genesis 1:6-8 – The Second Day of Creation
“And God went on to say: “Let an expanse come to be in between the waters and let a dividing occur between the waters and the waters.” 7 Then God proceeded to make the expanse and to make a division between the waters that should be beneath the expanse and the waters that should be above the expanse. And it came to be so. 8 And God began to call the expanse Heaven. And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, a second day”.
- It can refer to the sky, the earth’s atmosphere in which birds fly. (Jeremiah 4:25)
- It can refer to Outer space, where the stars of heaven and constellations are. (Isaiah 13:10)
- It can also refer to God’s presence. (Ezekiel 1:22-26).
This latter heaven, God’s presence, is likely what the Apostle Paul meant when he talked of being “caught away as such to the third heaven” as part of the “supernatural visions and revelations of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 12:1-4).
As the creation account is referring to the earth becoming inhabitable and inhabited, the natural reading and context, at first sight, would indicate that the expanse between the waters and the waters is referring to the atmosphere or sky, rather than outer space or God’s presence when it uses the term “Heaven”.
On this basis, it could therefore be understood that the waters above the expanse either refer to the clouds and hence the water cycle in preparation for the third day, or a vapor layer that no longer exists. The latter is a more likely candidate as the implication of day 1 is that the light was diffusing through to the surface of the waters, perhaps through a vapor layer. This layer could then have been moved higher to create a clearer atmosphere in readiness for the creation of the 3rd day.
However, this expanse between the waters and the waters is also mentioned in the 4th creative day, when Genesis 1:15 talking about the luminaries says “And they must serve as luminaries in the expanse of the heavens to shine upon the earth”. This would indicate that the sun and moon and stars are within the expanse of the heavens, not outside it.
This would put the second set of waters to the edge of the known universe.
Psalm 148:4 could also be alluding to this when after mentioning the sun and moon and stars of light it says, “Praise him, you heavens of the heavens, and you waters that are above the heavens”.
This concluded the 2nd creative day, an evening [darkness] and morning [daylight] both occurring before the day ended as darkness started again.
Day 2 of Creation, some waters were removed from the earth’s surface in preparation for Day 3.
The next part of this series will examine the 3rd and 4th days of Creation.
[i] Showing the flaws in the scientific dating methods is a whole article in itself and outside the scope of this series. Suffice to say that beyond approximately 4,000 years before the present the potential for error begins to grow exponentially. An article on this subject is intended in the future to complement this series.
[ix] A Conjunctive is a word (in Hebrew a letter) to indicate a conjunction or a link between two events, two statements, two facts, etc. In English they are “also, and”, and similar words
[xi] See the paragraph The Early Earth in the same article of Scientific American entitled “How did Water get on Earth?” https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-did-water-get-on-earth/
[xiii] 1973 Arab-Israeli war of 5th-23rd October 1973.
[xvi] Gentry, Robert V., “Annual Review of Nuclear Science,” Vol. 23, 1973 p. 247
[xvii] McDonald, Keith L. and Robert H. Gunst, An Analysis of the Earth’s Magnetic Field from 1835 to 1965, July 1967, Essa Technical Rept. IER 1. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., Table 3, p. 15, and Barnes, Thomas G., Origin and Destiny of the Earth’s Magnetic Field, Technical Monograph, Institute for Creation Research, 1973