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Creation Days According to Ancient Jewish Commentators

Accordingly Moses says, That in just six days the world, and all that is therein, was made.  (Josephus Antiquities Book 1, Chapter 1)

 

What the ancient Bible commentators understood those six days to mean when they opened up to Genesis 1 and 2?  Did they see extremely long indefinite periods of time?  Or did they see regular, twenty-four-hour days?  Would they come to the same conclusion that we have reached?  Or would they be inclined to look for a deeper, hidden meaning in the text?  Even if it can be demonstrated that all or nearly all of the ancient interpreters thought that the Bible and Genesis 1 in particular should be interpreted as six literal days, that does not prove that that is in fact the reality of the Bible.  However, if the overwhelming majority understood the creation account to be referring to a week of six literal days, then it would greatly support our previous conclusion and that the normal method of interpretation or hermeneutic of Scripture was to take it at face value.

 

We will see that when we examine the ancient Jewish and Christian commentators on what they believed concerning the beginning of the world, they almost always talk about the end of it as well.  They claim that the age of the earth is less than six thousand years old.  This becomes an important control for us in that by claiming that the earth was created less than six thousand years previous to their day, they are stating their belief in a young earth, and hence, the six, literal 24-hour days of creation.

 

The Use of Ancient Interpreters

The point of view of ancient interpreters and commentators is very relevant to us because we know that they were in no way influenced by the teachings of Darwinian evolution, which requires billions of years to occur.  The ancient perspective has already been exploited by those seeking to establish that Scripture actually teaches that the earth and the universe are incredibly old.  Perhaps the most prominent of the Progressive Creation perspective is Dr. Hugh Ross.  While we do not wish to question his sincerity nor his belief in the God of the Bible, his interpretation of these ancient commentators is in need of serious review.  Ross states in his book The Fingerprint of God:

Many of the early Church Fathers and other biblical scholars interpret the creation days of Genesis 1 as long periods of time. The list includes the Jewish historian Josephus (1st century); Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, apologist and martyr (2nd century); Origen, who rebutted heathen attacks on Christian doctrine (3rd century); Basil (4th century); Augustine (5th century); and, later, Aquinas (13th century), to name a few. The significance of this list lies not only in the prominence of these individuals as biblical scholars, defenders of the faith, and pillars of the early church (except Josephus), but also in that their scriptural views cannot be said to have been shaped to accommodate secular opinion. Astronomical, paleontological, and geological evidences for the antiquity of the universe, of the earth, and of life did not come forth until the nineteenth century.  (Ross 1991: 141)

Ross’s list of ancient biblical scholars is at first impressive.  But when we begin to study his sources in depth, we find that, at the very least, Ross has not been diligent in his investigation.  Reality is simply not as he states it.  The claim that many of these ancient interpreters believed the creation days to be longer than 24 hours is later parroted by an advocate of Progressive Creation who states:

Dr. Hugh Ross documents in detail what first century Jewish scholars and the early Christian Church Fathers said regarding their interpretation of creation chronology (see Chapter 2, pages 16-24). Many early Church Fathers expressed no opinion on the subject of creation days, since it is a peripheral issue in Christianity. However, Jewish scholars who discussed creation chronology include Philo and Josephus, while Christian fathers include Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Hippolytus (through writings of Ambrose), Clement, Origen, Lactantius, Victorinus, Methodius, Augustine, Eusebius, Basil, and Ambrose. Among this group, all but one believed that the creation days were longer than 24 hours. The evidence presented in Creation and Time is both overwhelming and well documented (all references are given). (Deem 2006a)

Again, we are not questioning whether Dr. Ross and others of the Progressive Creation position are sincere and hold the God of the Bible in high esteem.  It is their scholarship that is in question.  The truth is that many, if not almost all, of the early Church Fathers (ante-Nicene) definitively thought that the universe was made in six, literal days.  Additionally, most ancient Jewish commentators shared the same point of view – namely, that the heavens and earth were created in six, literal days.  Let’s examine the evidence to see what those interpreters thought about the time frame of creation.  Did they hold to a literal, straightforward, six-day creation as we claim that the Bible teaches?  Or did they believe that allegorizing the text was the proper method of interpretation?

Targumim

A very important source to consider when addressing the issue of how ancient interpreters understood the Bible are the Targumim.  Targumim (Targum is singular) are the Aramaic translations of the Old Testament Scriptures.  They were for the most part written both in and outside of Israel a few centuries after the time of Jesus.  They were written either for those Jews who had lost Hebrew as their mother tongue because of living outside of Israel for so long or for those living in Israel after the time of the Second Jewish Revolt (135 AD) when Hebrew truly started to die out.[i]  Those Jews were no longer comfortable reading the Scriptures solely in Hebrew, but needed the help of a translation as they read along in the original Hebrew.  However, the Targumim were much more than merely word for word translations.  They were running commentaries on the Scriptures filled with typical Jewish interpretations.  The Hebrew text of the Bible was always considered sacred by the Jews, and therefore, it was to be approached with great care.  The text was never to be touched.  Because the Targumim were in Aramaic and not Hebrew, there was no risk that the commentaries might be mistaken for the actual words of the Bible itself.

 

Targum Onkelos

Targum Onkelos, translates Genesis 1:1 very literally: “In the first times the Lord created the heavens and the earth.  And the earth was waste and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the abyss.”  In fact, the entire chapter of Targum Onkelos of Genesis 1 shows no indication whatsoever that the translator/commentator was persuaded that the six days of Genesis were to be taken in any way but literally.  Conversely, the translator actually places a comment in chapter 3 regarding the curse put on the serpent and the promised savior.

 

And I will put enmity between thee and between the woman, and between thy son and her son.  He will remember thee, what thou didst to him (at) from the beginning, and thou shalt be observant unto him at the end. (Emphasis mine)

 

Notice that here the targumist defines when the time of this occurred – “from the beginning.”  Although this doesn’t prove that the six days in Genesis were truly literal, it does demonstrate that an ancient interpreter understood them as being literal since the time of the fall happened in the beginning, not some millions or billions of years after the initial act of creation.

 

Targumim Jonathan

Targum Jonathan[ii] in translating Genesis 2:3 (which is really the end of chapter 1 and is an unfortunate and mistaken chapter break) adds a reason which goes beyond the original text by adding the words “the days of the week.”

 

And the creatures of the heavens and earth, and all the hosts of them, were completed. And the Lord had finished by the Seventh Day the work which He had wrought, […] And the Lord blessed the Seventh Day more than all the days of the week, and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His works which the Lord had created and had willed to make. (Emphasis mine)

 

The words “the days of the week” demonstrate that the Targumist also understood the first through sixth days in Genesis 1 to be “the days of the week” and the seventh to be the final day of that week.  What did he have in mind when he added that comment that is not found in the Hebrew Scriptures?  Did his belief that the seventh was blessed more than all the other days of the week actually mean that the last age or era of time was better than the rest?  Or did he think that days of the week meant Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc. (or as it would be in Hebrew First Day, Second Day, Third Day etc.)?  If we consider what God declared to Moses via the Targumim as we did in the Hebrew Bible, then the conclusion of six, literal days becomes very difficult to circumvent.

 

For in six days the Lord created the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and whatever is therein, and rested on the seventh day: therefore the Lord hath blessed the day of Shabbatha and sanctified it. (Targum Jonathan, Exodus 20:11)

This is again reiterated in the same Targum in Exodus 31:15 and 17:

 

Six days ye shall do work; but the seventh day is Sabbath, the holy Sabbath before the Lord […] For in six days the Lord created and perfected the heavens and the earth; and in the seventh day He rested and refreshed.  (Emphasis mine)

 

The Targum of Onkelos confirms again that the commonly accepted time frame for the creation of the heavens and the earth was but a mere six, literal days.  There is no intimation that those days somehow really meant long, indefinite ages of perhaps billions of years.

 

For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the seas and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the day of Shabbatha, and sanctified it. (Targum Onkelos, Exodus 20:11 emphasis mine)

Six days shalt thou do work, and the seventh day is Sabbath, the Holy Sabbath before the Lord […] for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth; and in the seventh day rested and was refreshed.  (Targum Onkelos Exodus 31: 15, 17 emphasis mine)

 

These passages are some of the clearest passages in the Bible regarding the time God took to create everything and yet there isn’t even a minor hint that those time frames mean anything other than what we can take at face value.  Although the Targumim are not listed among the ancient Jewish writers cited by Dr. Ross and others, they are certainly an important source, and one of the primary sources when wanting to know about common Jewish thought just before and after the time of Christ.

Josephus

Josephus

An indispensable voice of Jewish history and thought in first century Israel is that of Josephus, who appears on the list of supposed ancient supporters of an old earth.  Josephus is considered the most important source historians have regarding the events of the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D.  Josephus single-handedly wrote the history of the debacle of the Jewish state at the hands of their Roman enemies.  Born in 37 A.D., Josephus was raised a Jew in Israel and fought alongside his Jewish countrymen before being taken a hostage by the Romans, who granted him the opportunity to write not only the story of the Wars of the Jews, but also later a work entitled The Antiquities of the Jews.  Josephus’ mother tongue was Hebrew.  His expertise in Hebrew and the fact that he was also well acquainted with the Hebrew Scriptures were essential in writing Antiquities of the Jews.  While not everything that Josephus wrote is considered to always be accurate or without bias, recent discoveries in the past 100 years have proven that Josephus’s account of Jewish history was extremely accurate.[iii]

 

From The Creation

Josephus opens his monumental work Antiquities of the Jews with a rather significant chapter title: “Containing The Interval Of Three Thousand Eight Hundred And Thirty-Three Years.  From the Creation to the Death of Isaac.”  Just from the chapter title one already begins to see that Josephus understood the time from the creation until the death of Isaac as a relatively short period – 3833 years.  Adding that to the time from Isaac (approximately 1950 B.C.) to the time of Josephus (about 80 AD) we get a number of 5863 years – hardly millions of years.  There is absolutely no suggestion from him that “the creation” happened indefinite ages ago; rather it was but a relatively short time ago.  It is interesting that Josephus’ date corresponds very closely with that of young earth creationists’ calculations based on the genealogies of the Bible.  The point is that Josephus in no way thought that the days of creation were long periods of millions or billions of years.  He then begins with the same words as found directly in the Bible, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” He goes on:

 

God commanded that there should be light: and when that was made, he considered the whole mass, and separated the light and the darkness; and the name he gave to one was Night, and the other he called Day: and he named the beginning of light, and the time of rest, The Evening and The Morning, and this was indeed the first day. But Moses said it was one day Accordingly Moses says, That in just six days the world, and all that is therein, was made. And that the seventh day was a rest, and a release from the labor of such operations; whence it is that we celebrate a rest from our labors on that day, and call it the Sabbath, which word denotes rest in the Hebrew tongue.  (Josephus Antiquities Book 1, Chapter 1, emphasis mine)

 

Notice that Josephus is careful to note that there was evening and there was morning, which he says was the first day, but then he adds “But Moses said it was one day”. By doing this, he not only demonstrates his understanding of Hebrew, but also points out that the Hebrew shows that all of these events happened in one day.  He also states his opinion since it is not directly in the text of Genesis 1, though, it is more than likely that he was merely parroting the commonly accepted belief.

 

In Just Six Days

Josephus in no way thought that the days of creation were long periods of time in which the slow process of evolution happened!  He says that “in just six days the world and all that is therein” was made.  He then discusses that the origin of the Jews resting on the seventh day came from God resting on the seventh day.  Keep in mind that Josephus has to explain the history of his people to Romans who would probably have known next to nothing about the religion of one of the people in their vast empire.  The most that they might have known was that his people foolishly rebelled against them and consequently paid the price for their rebellion.  So Josephus has to explain the small details in order for them to truly appreciate the splendor of the Jewish sacred book.

 

Here too, we find that one of the most prominent ancient commentators thought nothing but of a literal, six-day creation.  The thought of a day of the creation week equaling millions or billions of years or even some super long duration just never crossed his mind.  Conversely, he clearly states that in just six days God made all that is.

 

Rabbinic interpretation

We next turn to rabbinic interpretation in hopes of discovering what they thought about the six days of creation.  Did they too interpret the days of Genesis 1 to be literal days of 24-hours like those that we have already seen or, as it has been suggested, did they allegorize those as days of incredibly long duration?  We should note that Rabbinic interpretation of the Scriptures is such that it generally seeks to find a deeper meaning to the text.  They quite often would take what would seem to us to be two rather dissimilar passages and, through a few keys words, tie them together in such a way as to teach a deeper truth.

 

For example, let’s look at tractate Sabbath 17, Chapter 7 which, as the title suggests, deals with the Sabbath and the regulations necessary to properly keep it.  The Rabbis are discussing what to do if someone who is traveling misses the Sabbath due to not knowing which day it is.

R. Huna said: One who has been traveling in a desert and does not know what day is Sabbath, must count six days from the day (on which he realizes) that he has missed the Sabbath, and observe the seventh. Hyya b. Rabh said: He must observe that very day and then continue his counting from that day. And what is the point of their differing? The former holds that one must act in accordance with the creation (which commenced six days before the Sabbath), while the latter holds that one must be guided by Adam’s creation (on the eve of Sabbath). (Emphasis mine)

The Rabbis immediately turn to the week of creation as a real week whereby they might demonstrate how one must count the days before the Sabbath.  They then look back at the creation week from the point of view that Adam was made on the eve of the Sabbath, which was the literal sixth day of time.  Thus, the days of a workweek plus the Sabbath are equal to the days of the creation week.

 

The Talmud Comments on the Mishna

The Talmud comments on the discussion in the Mishna[iv] concerning one who might ask “what was before creation?” and tries to draw out further applications and to answer any questions unresolved.

 

Lest one assume that a man can ask, What was before the creation? therefore it is written: “Since the day that God created man from the earth“; but lest one assume, a man must not ask even what was done in the six days of creation?  (Book 3 Tract Hagigah 4 chapter 2)

 

Notice that they make reference to the six days of creation and very matter-of-factly state “what was done in the six days of creation.”  The implication is that those days were real days, not long drawn out indefinite ages.

Rashi

Rashi

From another portion of the Talmud we read:

 

Four thousand two hundred and thirty-one years after the creation of the world, if any one offers thee for one single denarius a field worth a thousand denarii, do not buy it. (Avodah Zarah, fol. 9, col. 2.)

 

According to this passage the creation of the world happened 4231 years previous to the statement.  The famed medieval Jewish commentator Rashi (below) was noted to have given an explanation on the passage that helps us understand what ancient Jews believed concerning the time that elapsed from creation until their time.

 

Rashi gives this as the reason of the prohibition: For then the restoration of the Jews to their own land will take place, so that the denarius paid for a field in a foreign land would be money thrown awayFour thousand two hundred and ninety-one years after the creation of the world the wars of the dragons and the wars of Gog and Magog will cease, and the rest of the time will be the days of the Messiah; and the Holy One – blessed be He! – will not renew His world till after seven thousand years…Rabbi Jonathan said, “May the bones of those who compute the latter days (when the Messiah shall appear) be blown; for some say, ‘Because the time (of Messiah) has come and Himself has not, therefore He will never come!’ But wait thou for Him, as it is said (Hab. ii. 3), ‘Though He tarry, wait for Him.’” (Sanhedrin, fol. 97, col. 2, emphasis mine)

 

Rashi evidently separated human history, from the time of creation until the end, into seven thousand years.  Notice that Rashi understood these years as real periods of time that began in the beginning with the creation of the world.  This fact is further established by Rabbi Jonathan by noting it is not good to compute the time of the Messiah, which, according to some Jews, had already come.  For a Christian, this is a very significant statement, but to pursue it would derail us from our current discussion that key, ancient Rabbis understood the earth to be young – less than six thousand years.

 

Other Rabbis

A few other examples only serve to confirm what we have seen so far – namely, that ancient Rabbis considered the creation week to be nothing less than real days and not day-ages as is often suggested.  The Rabba commentaries (Harris, Translator 1901) on the Bible yield several important perspectives on the literalness of the six-day creation.  The first chapter of Genesis Rabba asserts “Even the new heavens and earth, spoken of by the Prophet Isaiah (65:17), were created in the six days of creation.”  Another discussion from the Talmud regarding the importance of the Hebrew month Tishri states it this way, “Rabbi Eleazer said […] On the first of Tishri Adam was created; from his existence we count our years, that is the sixth day of the creation” (Talmud Part 5, Holy Days, emphasis mine).  Exodus Rabba 23 associates the formation of Adam with the event of creation itself,

 

The song of praise that Israel offered on the Red Sea was pleasing to God as an outburst of real gratitude.  There had indeed been no such praise offered to God since creation. Adam, formed out of dust and put above all creation, omitted to praise the creator for the dignity conferred on him.  (Exodus Rabba 23)

 

Leviticus Rabba 14 succinctly places man along with the creation, “Man is the last in creation and the first in responsibility.”  If God started making the universe some 15 billion years earlier, it would be hard to link man with creation due to the enormous time gap between them.  Midrash Esther 1 offers a similar scenario,

 

As early as the time of creation it was decreed that the following should have precedence, each in his own sphere. Adam was first of man, Cain of murderers, and Abel of the murdered.  Noah the first to escape from peril.  (Harris, Translator 1901)

 

And finally, another rabbinic source, Tanchum Bereshith unequivocally states that God created in six days,

 

As one who finishes the building of his house proclaims that day a holiday, and consecrates the building, so God, having finished creation in the six days, proclaimed the seventh day a holy day and sanctified it.  (Electronic Text, The Word Bible Software)

 

Where is the slightest hint in any of the aforementioned sources that they believed in an old earth and universe?  Where does one get the impression that the ancient Rabbis truly believed that God didn’t actually create in six, literal days but in six day-ages each lasting some billions of years?  Those day-ages are conspicuously missing.  They only show up if one’s theory depends on such interpretations.  Even Philo, the very allegorical Jewish philosopher of first century Alexandria, Egypt, thought that the days of creation as recorded in Genesis were referring to six literal days.

 

Philo

If there were someone that we should expect to back up the old-earth theory, it would be Philo.  Philo was an Alexandrian Jew who was born approximately 20 years before Jesus.  Philo knew the Hebrew Scriptures very well and was very fond of them.  However, he also was open to the ideas of Greek philosophy and tried to marry the two to accommodate both worldviews.  The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states concerning Philo:

Philo of Alexandria

He addressed himself to two tasks, difficult to weld into a flawless unity. On the one hand, he wrote for educated men in Greek-Roman society, attempting to explain, often to justify, his racial religion before them […] On the other hand, he had to confront his orthodox coreligionists, with their separatist traditions and their contempt for paganism in all its works. He tried to persuade them that, after all, Greek thought was not inimical to their cherished doctrines, but, on the contrary, involved similar, almost identical, principles.  (ISBE: Philo, point 3)

 

The ISBE continues by saying that Philo represented a position which tried to blend the philosophy of Hellenism with the “historical and dogmatic deductions of the Jewish Scriptures” (ISBE: Philo point 3), which resulted in rather strange interpretations.  Furthermore the ISBE states:

 

He taught that the Scriptures contain two meanings: a “lower” meaning, obvious in the literal statements of the text; and a “higher,” or hidden meaning, perceptible to the “initiate” alone. In this way he found it possible to reconcile Greek intellectualism with Jewish belief. Greek thought exhibits the “hidden” meaning; it turns out to be the elucidation of the “allegory” which runs through the Old Testament like a vein of gold. (ISBE: Philo, point 3)

 

Thus, even if we were to find an allegorical meaning associated with the creation of the world in his writings, we would understand that the allegorical side was Philo’s attempt to reconcile the historical text of the Bible with the philosophy of Greek thought.  Therefore such an allegory would not be indicative of the true meaning of the biblical text.  What we actually see Philo say regarding the creation, both from a literal and allegorical point of view, is astonishing.

 

Philo’s Paraphrase

Philo begins his treatise with the creation of the world as given by Moses.  That is to say, Philo is loosely paraphrasing the Genesis account in his own words.  This is extremely important to note since here we have a writer that is very much in favor of interpreting Scripture from an allegorical approach and yet he lets us know what he thought Moses was truly communicating before moving on to his allegorical method.

 

And he says that the world was made in six days, not because the Creator stood in need of a length of time (for it is natural that God should do everything at once, not merely by uttering a command, but by even thinking of it); but because the things created required arrangement; and number is akin to arrangement; and, of all numbers, six is, by the laws of nature, the most productive… (Philo, On The Creation – Part 1 III. 13)

 

Philo is actually saying here that the world was made in six days which was actually much more time than God required.  He says that God took his time “because the things created required arrangement.”  According to Philo, God slowed himself down not for His own sake since merely by thinking He could have made all, but so that there would be order.  The old-earth position is right in suggesting that God could have taken billions of years to create the world.  But they miss the mark when affirming that God actually did.  According to Scripture and all of the testimony we have seen up until now, God did go at an incredibly slow pace – that is if you are God!  The passing of a mere thought versus creating at a tremendously slow speed of six (24-hour) days are radically different.  Rather than confirming the old-earth position as Dr. Ross has suggested, Philo defends the belief that the biblical creation occurred in just a six-day week.

 

Philo’s Allegorical Treatise

After providing his paraphrase of Genesis 1, Philo next begins his allegorical treatise to pull out the deeper truths and thereby make the Bible more palatable to his Greco-Roman audience:

 

“And the heaven and the earth and all their world was completed.”  [Genesis 2:1] Having previously related the creation of the mind and of sense, Moses now proceeds to describe the perfection which was brought about by them both. And he says that neither the indivisible mind nor the particular sensations received perfection, but only ideas, one the idea of the mind, the other of sensation. And, speaking symbolically, he calls the mind heaven, since the natures which can only be comprehended by the intellect are in heaven. And sensation he calls earth, because it is sensation which has obtained a corporeal and some what earthy constitution. (Philo, Allegorical Interpretation, I – Part 1)

 

It is obvious that Philo is now speaking in a very allegorical fashion.  However, if we read carefully the above paragraph, we see that in his allegorizing of Genesis 1 he is rejecting altogether that Moses is referring to any type of numerical value of the creation regardless of how long that might have taken.  He is advocating, allegorically speaking, neither a literal six day creation nor a six day-age theory.  The amount of time required is absolutely inconsequential to him.  Notice below in his statement that time is not the issue.

 

“And on the sixth day God finished his work which he had made.” It would be a sign of great simplicity to think that the world was created in six days, or indeed at all in time. […] Therefore it would be correctly said that the world was not created in time, but that time had its existence in consequence of the world. For it is the motion of the heaven that has displayed the nature of time. (Philo, Allegorical Interpretation, II – Part 2 emphasis mine)

 

For Philo, six days is not what one is to understand from the Genesis account but rather, the number six and all of its amazing mathematical properties is what is to be appreciated.  His concept of time is that it is in itself a created thing.  On that point most scientists would agree, evolutionists and creationists alike, that time was created along with space and that space and time cannot be separated.[v]  Because Philo does not see time beginning until the creation of the sun, what can we conclude regarding how long the first four days were?  Obviously, if they came into being outside of time, as he suggests, then it is impossible to discuss their duration since that would be an oxymoron by definition.  Consequently, the assertion that Philo in any way held to the belief in a universe that was billions of years old, as the Progressive Creation position suggests, is simply unfounded.  Conversely, we see from Philo’s paraphrase of Genesis 1 (in which he stated that according to Moses the world was created in six, literal days) what he thinks the deeper meaning of six days actually is:

 

When, therefore, Moses says, “God completed his works on the sixth day,” we must understand that he is speaking not of a number of days, but that he takes six as a perfect number. Since it is the first number which is equal in its parts, in the half, and the third and sixth parts, and since it is produced by the multiplication of two unequal factors, two and three. (Philo Allegorical Interpretation, II  – Part 3 emphasis mine)

 

Philo and the Number Six

Philo is not arguing about how long a day was.  He was not saying that they were long indefinite ages in which God did His handiwork.  In no way is his statement grounds for proving that he, as an ancient interpreter, believed that those days were indefinite and therefore allowed for enough time for evolution to occur.  Rather he was saying that it wasn’t six days, but really just about the number six which he continues to describe as a “perfect number.”  For Philo, the argument isn’t about the days, but about the incredible features of the number of six.  Philo has not even considered how long the days were, but thought that a deeper truth to be mined from the Scriptures was the profoundness of the mathematical qualities of six as a number.

 

We may not be able to pin Philo down on exactly how long he thought the creation took.  If we simply accept at face value what he said in the beginning of his treatise, then we could just conclude that according to Moses, God took six literal days though looking at his allegory, we see a different picture.  However, it can hardly be denied that his consideration of the six days has nothing to do with time but everything to do with the number six as a mathematical entity worthy of contemplation.  Thus, we leave Philo fairly convinced that on the literal plain, he believed that Genesis 1 did indeed refer to the creation of heaven and earth in six, literal, 24-hour days and from an allegorical point of view believed the six to be included because it was a perfect number.


 [i] For a detailed explanation of the language of Israel in the first century, see Hamp (2005) Discovering the Language of Jesus Calvary Publishing, Santa Ana.

[ii] Also known as Pseudo Jonathan.

[iii] Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the sect known as the Essenes, which Josephus describes in detail in Wars of the Jews book 2, chapter 8, there was no record of it ever existing.  Josephus’ account has since been corroborated by much of the material finds at the Qumran compound near the Dead Sea as well as by the Scrolls themselves.

[iv] The Mishna deals with the Mosaic Law and applies it to every conceivable area of life.

[v] This is signified by the term “space-time continuum.” Dr. Sholar notes: “The space-time continuum however, was a mathematical assumption of Einstein leading to relativity…which has predicted outcomes of certain experiments with some degree of accuracy.  However, there are many today who believe that time and space are not so intertwined that they must be cojoined as a continuum the way Einstein postulated.  There are other theories that consider space and time quite distinctly separate, yet predict the same results as does relativity.  Since most scientists are not expert in relativity, it is easier for them to accept the establishment’s entrenchment of a theory into textbooks and academia, than swim upstream against the more popular theory, with an alternative that gives similar answers, though void philosophical problems like paradoxes.  The almost certain fact that space and time were each created anew does not depend upon whether or not they are connected as Einstein postulates, or are completely disparate and separate entities.”  (Dr. Stan Sholar, personal communication, September 21, 2006)

 

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4 comments

  1. I thought the article was excellent. Josephus drew from his sources of jewish tradition, and is considered even by jews to be one of the most important sources of jewish history. Also, many of these early church fathers and jewish scribes lived at a time when foreign chronologies contradicted the Bible, particularly egyptian and greek chronologies. They didn’t have BB cosmology, but definitely were familiar with deep time. Yet, they stayed true to the text and fought these ideas. Even the early fathers that were heavy into allegory (more precisely typology), like Augustine, believed the earth to be young, and read Genesis as historical narrative. Even Augustine fought against the notion of deep time prevalent in his day.

    Those who try to interpret the Bible today as figurative do so really for only one reason. They trust man’s ideas about origins more than they trust the Bible. For me this is silly. Man’s theories change constantly. Man used to believe the sky was a solid dome, and the sun orbited the earth. That’s what mainstream scientists believed at one time (the aristotelian philosophers). But surely today’s scientists can’t be wrong? (so the argue)

    I trust the Bible. It’s is the most well preserved ancient document in existence, and was endorsed by Christ himself. Why would I not trust it over man’s ideas? Why would I try to reinterpret it to harmonize it with man’s ideas?

  2. Earlier I pointed out to somebody else why this article is bunk.

    First people he talks about

    >Targumim

    These are translators, not commentaries. They are translating the text to Aramaic, nothing more.

    >Josephus

    Excellent Jewish scholar he chose.

    >Rabbinic interpretation

    He actually quotes Mas. Chagiga at one point. And then does not quote that very same book when it says Adam was the 974th generation. Cherry picking much?

    >Rashi

    More cherry picking,[ as Rashi first (maybe second) thing talks about the deeper meaning and purpose for the creation accounts](http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/8165#showrashi=true). Here is quote

    >This verse calls for a midrashic interpretation [because according to its simple interpretation, the vowelization of the word בָּרָא, should be different]. It teaches us that the sequence of the Creation as written is impossible

    He also fails to quote any of his contemporaries ([like this one](http://imgur.com/0ybUf)) who also outright start off with “this account has a lot of meaning and is incredibly deep”

    >Philo

    Who is this guy?

    What have we learned? This article is bunk, misleading, cherry picks, and makes assumptions.

  3. The bible is a spiritual allegory. Lets treat it as such.
    Carbon is 6 and the hexagon has 6 points and 6 sides and is capable of perpetual re-creation. Stage 6 was is when life could begin and g-d’s work thus ended.

  4. I find it absurd that people take the 24 hour creation period seriously. Let’s think about this, on day six, God made every land animal on the Earth, God then made Adam, put Adam into a Garden watered by a river, a river so big it broke up into four more rivers, and God assigned Adam the work of cultivating this Garden. It takes me about 6 hours to mow an acre field with a push mower, the Garden was much bigger than an acre, and Adam had no John Deer Tractor, nor a beast of burden at that point. Next God sees that Adam is lonely, how long was required for Adam to realize he was alone, I suppose it was after his first furrow was finished? Then God creates all the animals from the Garden and brings them to Adam to name, he names ever animal every bird, every insect, now could he have done this in less than a minute? Next God puts Adam to seep, takes out some of his flesh and bone, and makes his wife, Adam is happy to have her, but remember all this happened in less than 24 hours. Now as far as we can tell, Adam’s wife has time to wander off from helping her husband, and is persuaded by a serpent to sin, and to get her husband to also sin. Check out the book of Jubilee, it points out that Adam was in the Garden for seven years. So you see, there are ancient texts that point to a Genesis Day of creation as a period longer than one period of the earth rotating into the light of the sun (aka dawn), to the next dawn. We can also go to Hebrews chapter 4, and we can see there too, that we are in day seven now at this very moment. Notice too that day seven has no mention of an ending, because it hasn’t ended yet.

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