The Creation Account (Genesis 1:1 – Genesis 2:4): Day 5-7
Genesis 1:20-23 – The Fifth Day of Creation
“And God went on to say: ‘Let the waters swarm forth a swarm of living souls and let flying creatures fly over the earth upon the face of the expanse of the heaven. And God proceeded to create the great sea monsters and every living soul that moves about, which the waters swarmed forth according to their kinds and every winged flying creature according to its kind.’ And God got to see that it was good.”
“With that God blessed them, saying ‘Be fruitful and become many and fill the waters in the sea basins, and let the flying creatures become many in the earth.’ And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, a fifth day.”
Water Creatures and Flying Creatures
With seasons now able to occur, the next creation day saw two large collections of living creatures created.
Firstly, the fish, and all other water-dwelling creatures, such as sea anemones, whales, dolphins, sharks, cephalopods (squid, octopus, ammonites, amphibians, etc.), both fresh and saltwater.
Secondly, flying creatures, such as insects, bats, pterosaurs, and birds.
As with the vegetation on day 3, they were created according to their kinds, having within them the genetic ability to produce many diverse variants.
Again, the Hebrew word “bara” meaning “created”, is used.
The Hebrew word “tannin” is translated as “great sea monsters”. This is an accurate description of the meaning of this Hebrew word. The root of this word indicates a creature of some length. It is interesting to note that older English translations often translate this word as “dragons”. Many old traditions tell of large sea monsters (and land monsters) which they called dragons. The descriptions given to these creatures and occasional drawings are often very reminiscent of drawings and descriptions which have been given to sea creatures such as plesiosaurs and mesosaurs and land dinosaurs by modern scientists.
With the seasons and sun and moon and stars, the flying creatures and the great sea monsters would be able to navigate. Indeed, for some of them, their mating time is determined by a full moon, for others the time to migrate. Even as Jeremiah 8:7 tells us “Even the stork in the heavens – it well knows its appointed times; and the turtledove and the swift and the bulbul – they observe well the time of each one’s coming in”.
It also has to be noted a subtle but important distinction, namely that the flying creatures fly over the earth upon the face of the expanse of the heavens (or the firmament) rather than in or through the firmament.
God blessed these new creations and said they would be fruitful and many, filling the sea basins and the earth. This showed his care for his creation. Indeed, even as Matthew 10:29 reminds us, “Do not two sparrows sell for a coin of small value? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s knowledge “. Yes, God has concern for all of his creations, especially humans, which was the point Jesus went on to make, that he knows how many hairs we have on our head. Even we do not know that total unless we are completely bald with absolutely no growing hairs, which is extremely rare!
Finally, the creation of the sea creatures and flying creatures was yet another logical step in sustainably creating the interconnected living things. The light and dark, followed by water and the dry land, followed by the vegetation, followed by clear luminaries as signs for food and direction for the animals and sea creatures to come.
Genesis 1:24-25 – The Sixth Day of Creation
“24And God went on to say: “Let the earth put forth living souls according to their kinds, domestic animal and moving animal and wild beast of the earth according to its kind.” And it came to be so. 25 And God proceeded to make the wild beast of the earth according to its kind and the domestic animal according to its kind and every moving animal of the ground according to its kind. And God got to see that [it was] good.”
Land Animals and Domestic Animals
Having created the vegetation on day three and the sea creatures and flying creatures on day five, God now went on to create the domestic animals, moving or crawling animals and the wild beasts.
The wording indicates that the domestic animals were created according to their kinds indicating a propensity or ability to be domesticated, whereas there were also wild beasts that could never be domesticated.
This completed the creation of living creatures, with the exception of humans that was to follow.
Genesis 1:26-31 – The Sixth Day of Creation (continued)
“26 And God went on to say: “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness, and let them have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and the domestic animals and all the earth and every moving animal that is moving upon the earth.” 27 And God proceeded to create the man in his image, in God’s image he created him; male and female he created them. 28 Further, God blessed them and God said to them: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.”
29 And God went on to say: “Here I have given to YOU all vegetation bearing seed which is on the surface of the whole earth and every tree on which there is the fruit of a tree bearing seed. To YOU let it serve as food. 30 And to every wild beast of the earth and to every flying creature of the heavens and to everything moving upon the earth in which there is life as a soul I have given all green vegetation for food.” And it came to be so.
31 After that God saw everything he had made and, look! [it was] very good. And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, a sixth day.
On the latter part of the sixth day, God created man in His likeness. This implies with his qualities and attributes, but not to the same level. The man and woman he created were also to have authority over all the created animals. They were also given the task of filling the earth with humans (not overfilling). The diets of both the humans and the animals were also different to today. Both humans were given green vegetation only for food. This means that no animals were created as carnivores and potentially it means there were no scavengers either. Furthermore, everything was good.
It is important to notice that the creation of man is not discussed in detail in Genesis 1 as this is an account giving an overview of the whole period of Creation.
Genesis 2:1-3 – The Seventh Day of Creation
“Thus the heavens and the earth and all their army came to their completion. 2 And by the seventh day God came to the completion of his work that he had made, and he proceeded to rest on the seventh day from all his work that he had made. 3 And God proceeded to bless the seventh day and make it sacred, because on it he has been resting from all his work that God has created for the purpose of making.”
Day of Rest
On the seventh day, God had completed his creation and so he rested. This gives a reason for the later introduction of the Sabbath day in the Mosaic Law. In Exodus 20:8-11, Moses explained the reason for the sabbath saying “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.”
There was a direct comparison between God working for six days and the Israelites working for six days and then resting on the seventh day as God had done. This would add weight to the understanding that the creation days were each 24 hours long.
Genesis 2:4 – Summary
“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.”
Colophons and toledots[i]
The phrase “in the day that Jehovah God made earth and heaven” has been used by some to suggest that the creation days were not 24 hours but longer periods of time. However, the key is “in the”. The Hebrew word “Yom” used on its own in Genesis chapter 1, is here qualified with “be-“, making “be-yom”[ii] which means “in the day” or more colloquially “when”, hence referring to a collective period of time.
This verse is the concluding verse to the history of the heavens and the earth contained in Genesis 1:1-31 and Genesis 2:1-3. It is what is known as a “toledot” phrase, a summary of the passage that precedes it.
The dictionary defines “toledot” as “history, especially family history”. It is also written in the form of a colophon. This was a common scribal device at the end of a cuneiform tablet. It gives a description that includes the title or description of the narrative, sometimes the date, and usually the name of the writer or owner. There is evidence that colophons were still in common use in the time of Alexander the Great some 1,200 years after Moses compiled and wrote the book of Genesis.[iii]
The colophon of Genesis 2:4 is made up as follows:
The description: “This is a history of the heavens and the earth in the time of their being created”.
When: “in the day” “made earth and heaven” indicating the writing was soon after the events.
The Writer or Owner: Possibly “Jehovah God” (possibly written as per the initial 10 commandments).
Other Divisions of Genesis include:
- Genesis 2:5 – Genesis 5:2 – Tablet written by or belonging to Adam.
- Genesis 5:3 – Genesis 6:9a – Tablet written by or belonging to Noah.
- Genesis 6:9b – Genesis 10:1 – Tablet written by or belonging to the sons of Noah.
- Genesis 10:2 – Genesis 11:10a – Tablet written by or belonging to Shem.
- Genesis 11:10b – Genesis 11:27a – Tablet written by or belonging to Terah.
- Genesis 11:27b – Genesis 25:19a – Tablet written by or belonging to Isaac and Ishmael.
- Genesis 25:19b – Genesis 37:2a – Tablet written by or belonging to Jacob and Esau. Esau’s genealogy may have been added later.
Genesis 37:2b – Genesis 50:26 – Likely written by Joseph on papyrus and does not have a colophon.
At this point, it would be good to examine what evidence there is for how Moses wrote the book of Genesis.
Moses and the Book of Genesis
Moses was educated in the house of Pharaoh. As such he would have become learned in reading and writing cuneiform, the international language of the day, as well as hieroglyphics.[iv]
In quoting his sources he showed exceedingly good writing practice, that is carried on today in all good scholarly works. Given his training, he could have translated the cuneiform if needed.
The accounts in Genesis are not just a straight translation or compilation of these older documents which were his sources. He also brought place names up to date so that the Israelites, his audience would understand where these places were. If we look at Genesis 14:2,3,7,8,15,17 we can see examples of this. For example, v2 “king of Bela (that is to say Zoar)”, v3 “the Low Plain of Siddim, that is the Salt Sea”, and so forth.
Explanations were also added, such as in Genesis 23:2,19 where we are told that “Sarah died in Kiriath-arba, that is to say, Hebron, in the land of Canaan”, indicating that this was written before the Israelites entered into Canaan, otherwise the addition of Canaan would have been unnecessary.
There are also names of places that no longer existed. As an example, Genesis 10:19 contains the history of Canaan son of Ham. It also contains the names of the cities, which were later destroyed at the time of Abraham and Lot, namely Sodom and Gomorrah, and which no longer existed in the time of Moses.
Other examples of possible additions by Moses to the original cuneiform text, for purposes of clarification, include:
- Genesis 10:5 “From these the maritime peoples spread out into their territories by their clans within their nations, each with its own language.”
- Genesis 10:14 “from whom the Philistines came”
- Genesis 14:2, 3, 7, 8, 17 Geographic clarifications. (See above)
- Genesis 16:14 “it is still there, [the well or spring Hagar fled to] between Kadesh and Bered.”
- Genesis 19:37b “he is the father of the Moabites of today.”
- Genesis 19:38b “he is the father of the Ammonites of today.”
- Genesis 22:14b “And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.’“
- Genesis 23:2, 19 Geographic clarifications. (See above)
- Genesis 26:33 “and to this day the name of the town has been Beersheba.”
- Genesis 32:32 “Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.”
- Genesis 35:6, 19, 27 Geographic clarifications.
- Genesis 35:20 “and to this day that pillar marks Rachel’s tomb.”
- Genesis 36:10-29 Esau’s genealogy probably added later.
- Genesis 47:26 “—still in force today—”
- Genesis 48:7b “that is, Bethlehem.”
Was Hebrew in Existence at the time of Moses?
This is something some “mainstream” scholars dispute, however, others say it was possible. Whether an early version of written Hebrew existed or not at that time, the book of Genesis could also have been written in cursive hieroglyphics or an early form of the hieratic Egyptian script. We should not forget that additionally, as the Israelites had been slaves and living in Egypt for a number of generations it is also possible, they also knew cursive hieroglyphics or some other form of writing anyway.
However, let us briefly examine the evidence available for early written Hebrew. For those interested in more detail there is a particularly good 2-part video in the Patterns of Evidence series (which are highly recommended) entitled “The Moses Controversy” which highlights evidence available. [v]
4 key items would all need to be true for Moses to have been able to write the Book of Exodus as an eyewitness account and to write the book of Genesis. They are:
- Writing had to exist by the time of the Exodus.
- The writing had to be in the region of Egypt.
- The writing needed to have an alphabet.
- It needed to be a form of writing like Hebrew.
Inscriptions of a written script (1) called “Proto-Siniatic”[vi] [vii] have been found in Egypt (2). It had an alphabet (3), which was quite different from the Egyptian hieroglyphs, although there are some obvious similarities in some characters, and (4) those inscriptions in this script can be read as Hebrew words.
These inscriptions (1) all date within an 11-year period of the reign of Amenemhat III, which is likely the Pharaoh of the time of Joseph.[viii] This is in the period of the 12th Dynasty of the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (2). The inscriptions are known as Sinai 46 and Sinai 377, Sinai 115, and Sinai 772, all from the region of the turquoise mines in the northwest part of the Sinai Peninsula. Also, Wadi El-Hol 1 & 2, and the Lahun Ostracon (from near the Faiyum basin).
This could perhaps indicate Joseph as being the originator of the script and alphabet (perhaps under the inspiration of God), as he knew hieroglyphics as the second ruler in the Egyptian Kingdom, but he was also a Hebrew. God also communicated with him, so that he could interpret dreams. Furthermore, as the administrator of Egypt, he would have needed to be literate and used a quicker form of written communication than hieroglyphs to achieve this.
If this proto-Siniatic script was indeed early Hebrew, then:
- Does it match the look of Hebrew? The answer is yes.
- Is it readable as Hebrew? Again, the short answer is yes.[ix]
- Does it match the history of the Israelites? Yes, as around the 15th Century BCE it disappears from Egypt and appears in Canaan.
There is much more evidence to examine to back up these answers of “yes” than in the summary above. This is only a brief summary; however, it suffices to give evidence that Moses could have written the Torah[x] (first 5 books of the Bible) including Genesis at that time.
Perhaps more important is the internal evidence of the Bible about the literacy of the Israelites of the time and Moses. Note what Jehovah instructed Moses and Moses instructed the Israelites in these following scriptures:
- Exodus 17:14 “Jehovah now said this to Moses “Write this as a memorial in the book and propound it in Joshua’s ears …”
- Deuteronomy 31:19 “And now write for yourselves this song and teach it to the sons of Israel.”
- Deuteronomy 6:9 and 11:20 “And you must write them [my commandments] upon the doorposts of your house and on your gates”.
- See also Exodus 34:27, Deuteronomy 27:3,8.
These instructions would all have required literacy on the part of Moses and also on the rest of the Israelites. It also could not have been possible using hieroglyphs, only an alphabetic written language would have made all this possible.
Moses recorded a promise of Jehovah God in Deuteronomy 18:18-19 which was, “A prophet I shall raise up for them from the midst of their brothers, like you; and I shall indeed put my words in his mouth, and he will certainly speak to them all that I shall command him. 19 And it must occur that the man who will not listen to my words that he will speak in my name, I shall myself require an account from him.”.
That prophet was Jesus, as Peter told the listening Jews in the Temple area not long after Jesus’ death in Acts 3:22-23.
Finally, perhaps it is fitting therefore that the last word here goes to Jesus, recorded in John 5:45-47. Talking to the Pharisees he said “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father; there is one that accuses you, Moses, in whom you have put your hope. In fact, if you believed Moses you would believe me, for that one wrote about me. But if you do not believe the writings of that one, how will you believe my sayings?”.
Yes, according to Jesus, the son of God, if we doubt the words of Moses, then we have no reason to believe in Jesus himself. It is therefore vital to have confidence that Moses wrote the book of Genesis and the rest of the Torah.
The next article of this series (Part 5) will start examining the History of Adam (and Eve) found in Genesis 2:5 – Genesis 5:2.
[v] https://store.patternsofevidence.com/collections/movies/products/directors-choice-moses-controversy-blu-ray This is also available on Netflix either free or for rental. Trailers of the series are available on Youtube for free viewing at the time of writing (August 2020) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2l1l5DTlqS_c8J2yoTCjVA
[viii] For evidence dating Joseph to Amenemhat III see “Patterns of Evidence – Exodus” by Tim Mahoney and “Exodus, Myth or History” by David Rohl. To be covered in more depth with Joseph and Genesis 39-45.
[ix] Alan Gardiner in his book “The Egyptian Origin of the Semitic Alphabet” states “The case for the alphabetic character of the unknown script is overwhelming … The meanings of these names, translated as Semitic words [like Hebrew] are plain or plausible in 17 cases.” He is referring to the Proto-Siniatic script found at Serabit El-Khadim by the Petries in 1904-1905.
[x] Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, commonly known as the Torah (the Law) or the Pentateuch (the 5 Books).