The vocabulary and grammar of the biblical creation describe a period of seven-literal 24-hour days – unanimously affirmed by ancient Jewish and Ante-Nicene Christian commentators. Nevertheless, a-plus-evolution myth has arisen offering an alternative interpretation of the biblical creation. The ideas range from each day being a long indefinite era of time to the Genesis account merely being a literary framework with no bearing to reality. This study seeks to prove that the seven days of creation were literal-24 days by considering: The delimiting use of a number in front of the Hebrew word “yom” (day); the literal use of numbers in the Bible, the language and the grammar of Genesis one and two, and the value of literary genre.
The importance of the literal-six day creation is underscored ironically by atheist and evolutionist R. Bozarth in the American Atheist Magazine: “The Meaning of Evolution:”
…evolution destroys utterly and finally the very reason Jesus’ earthly life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve and the original sin, and in the rubble you will find the sorry remains of the Son of God. If Jesus was not the redeemer who died for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing. (R. Bozarth 1979: 30)
While the atheists are forthright in their attack on the creation, the proponents of Theistic Evolution and Progressive Creationism, who profess a belief in God asand evolution as his mode of creation, are forced to somehow reconcile Scripture with evolution.
The Meaning of “Day”
The keystone of whether the earth is relatively young or extremely old rests heavily on the understanding of the Hebrew word יום yom, (day). Progressive Creation theorists contend that the days in Gen 1:1-2:3 are to be understood as long, indefinite periods of time. The young earth view, however, claims that God created the heavens and the earth and all therein in six, literal 24‑hour days roughly 6000 years ago. Does day only and always refer to a period of 24‑hours or does
it also refer to an indefinite period of time in which millions and billions of years could have passed allowing for the Progressive Creation and theistic-evolution theories?
The word day is used in several different ways in the Bible; sometimes referring to a time in the past. Judges 18:1, for example, states “In those days…” בימים ההם bayamim hahem. This exact phrase appears 31 times in the Hebrew Scriptures. It is a very common expression and is really no different than how we in English say “back in my day” or “back in those days” referring to a period of years in our lives but stating it in days. Hence, in this context, days are understood to be referring to time in the past that probably lasted several years (there are many days in a year) though definitely not thousands or millions – something that is obvious because it talks about human history of which the Bible gives definite times.
Sometimes the biblical writers used the word day to refer to a specific time of eschatological significance such as “the day of the LORD” יום הוה yom YHWH, found 13 times in the Hebrew Scriptures (mostly in the book of Isaiah), refers to a time in the future when God will judge the world and usher in a new age. This expression seems to speak more of an event of unknown duration rather than a specific amount of time, though a period of 24 hours cannot be ruled out.
At other times, days in the plural can refer to the span of someone’s life. In Gen 5:4 we read concerning the days of Adam, “So all the days that Adam (ימי־אדם yamei-adam) lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died.” Here day is used in reference to Adam’s lifetime, which is described as days, but then the text very clearly goes on to clarify what is meant by days – that is the years of his life or the summation of the days of his life. This is wonderfully illustrated by the Hebrew title of the book of I and II Chronicles למלכי ישׂראל דברי הימים divre ha-yamim lemalche Israel, literally transliterated as affairs or matters of the days of the kings of Israel.
An objection raised by Progressive Creation advocate Hugh Ross states that the “day” in Gen 2:4 “refers to all six-creation days (and the creation events prior to the first creative day)… it refers to a period longer than 24 hours” (Ross 1991: 52) and therefore would support the theory that the days of the Genesis creation account long vast ages. He suggests the word for generation (toledah) underscores a long period of time. “In Gen 2:4 the plural form, generations, is used, indicating that multiple generations have passed.” (Ross 1991: 52)
Nevertheless, the Hebrew expression in the day (that the LORD God) made עשׂות ביום (b’yom asot) actually carries the force of when. The letter ב (beth) in Hebrew often designates a temporal aspect. Joüon &. Muraoka note in A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew “With the infinitive ב is used in the temporal sense”. This explains why the letter beth in בהבראם (b’hibaram) is translated when they were created, a fact also supported by both the Brown Driver Briggs Lexicon, and Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar (Kautzsch, E. and A. E., Cowley, eds 1910). B’yom is part of a three-word construct chain and it is used in relation to the infinitive asot (making) which again carries the force of when. What is important not to overlook here, however, is that when yom is used in conjunction with the preposition beth it may be understood as a less precise expression than the 24-hour day. When yom is used with a number, it always refers to a literal, 24-hour day. Furthermore, the full range of meaning of the word תולדות (toledoth), which often means generations, is in many places better translated as account or history. (See: BDB)
To Be Continued…