Did Ancient Jews Believe in Evolution or in the Gap Theory?

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

Just how did 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? Did they see a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2? Did they see evolution in any form?  Or did they see regular, twenty-four-hour days?   The fact is that all of the ancient Jewish/Hebrew interpreters thought that the Bible and Genesis 1 in particular should be interpreted as six literal days. They believed the age of the earth to be less than six thousand years old.

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 the ancient Jewish commentators believed the heavens and earth were created in six, literal days.

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.[1]  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[2] 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

Get all facts in the book.

Get all facts in the book.

“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.

To be continued…

 To read the complete work, get The First Six Days by Douglas Hamp

[1] 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.

[2] Also known as Pseudo Jonathan.

 

What Happened on the First Day of Creation? A Study of Genesis 1:1-1:2

The First Day of Creation

The glory of the Bible is that, unlike the writings of other ancient nations which demonstrated a belief that water was the primal material before the existence of any gods, it claims that God was in the beginning and that He created all that is.  Both the Gap theory and a relatively new theory, which posits that the six-day-creation-clock didn’t really start ticking until God uttered the words “Let there be light” in verse three, suggest that the first day didn’t start in verse one but in either verse two or verse three, respectively.  Let us simply analyze, biblically and linguistically, the full range of the key Hebrew words in Genesis 1:1–2 and see what they mean and if they support the idea that a time gap exists in those verses.  (English words for which the Hebrew equivalent is given are italicized.)

 

In the beginning God created (ברא bara) the heavens and the earth (את השׁמים ואת הארץ et hashayim ve’et ha’aretz).  The earth was without form, and void (ובהו תהו tohu vavohu); and darkness was on the face of the deep (תהום tehom). And the Spirit of God was hovering (מרחפת merachefet) over the face of the waters (המים על־פני al pnei hamayim).

 

Bara and Asa

 

The first key word isברא  created (bara) which is used a total of 53 times in the Old Testament.  The basic and majority times used form of the word, which is used in Genesis 1, has the general meaning of create, shape or form.  It has been suggested that the word bara used here in Genesis is a different type of action than the word עשׂה (asa – do, make, fashion or produce) used in Exodus 20:11 where God says that he made the heavens and earth in six days.

 

 Bara and asa are for the most part synonymous with one important distinction between them: bara is used only of God’s actions and never of man’s.  There are countless examples of where man can asa (do or make); however, only God can bara.  There is by implication creation ex nihilo, but the major thrust of the word bara lies in its use by God only and on the initiation of something new.  The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT) notes concerning asa and its distinction from bara:

 

The word [asa] occurs with great frequency in the Genesis account of creation, which is the first great act of God in history. The significant interchange between the words bara’ “create” and ‘asa is of great interest. The word bara’ carries the thought of the initiation of the object involved. It always connotes what only God can do and frequently emphasizes the absolute newness of the object created. The word ‘asa is much broader in scope, connoting primarily the fashioning of the object with little concern for special nuances.

 

The use of bara’ in the opening statement of the account of creation seems to carry the implication that the physical phenomena came into existence at that time and had no previous existence in the form in which they were created by divine fiat. The use of ‘asa may simply connote the act of fashioning the objects involved in the whole creative process. (TWOT: 1708 asa)

 

As the TWOT notes, the use of asa is a broader term than bara, but we see from the context in which the words are used that they can be used interchangeably to a large extent.  Perhaps the best example is Isaiah 45:18 where God is disparaging those who put their trust in idols rather than in Him, the true God and Creator of all.  Notice that the three words that are used, create, form and make all describe the same event – the creation of the heavens and earth.

 

For thus says the LORD,

Who created (bore בורא) the heavens,

Who is God,

Who formed (yotzer יוצר) the earth and made (oseh עושׂה) it,

Who has established it,

Who did not create (braha בראה) it in vain,

Who formed (yatzarah יצרה) it to be inhabited:

“I am the LORD, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:18)

 

This verse is incredibly specific, especially in regards to the creation of the earth.  First of all, God declares that He is the one who created (bore בורא) the heavens – which could also be translated as Creator of the heavens.  Next He says that He is the former (yotzer יוצר) and the maker (asah עושׂה) of the  earth, a seeming confirmation of the supposed distinction of bara and asa.  However, God continues by saying that He created it, where the word it, is the third person singular feminine possessive suffix.  Put simply, it means that the word it is attached to the word created.  The word it must refer to earth because the earth is a singular feminine noun and heavens is a dual masculine noun.  Clearly and unmistakably God declares that He created, formed, and made the earth.  Thus, to suggest that Exodus 20:11 (“For in six days the LORD made [asa] the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them…”) is not parallel in thought to Genesis 1 is to ignore the evidence in favor of one’s own theory.

 

The Heavens and Earth

 

Thus far verse one has told us the when of creation – in the beginning, and then the how – God created something completely new (bara), which only God can do.  Now we are up to the what, which is of course: the heavens and the earth.  The question before us is understanding what precisely that means since immediately in verse two we are told that the earth was formless and void (תהו ובהו tohu vavohu); the earth must have not been fully complete.  Thus, just what did He create?  What are we to understand by the heavens and the earth?  Did He create them complete or could that term be understood as the material that He would later form, as if He first created the clay and then worked it into a suitable form?

 

The answer to this enigma lies in the fact that there is no single word for universe in Hebrew, which is confirmed by the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “The Hebrews had no proper word for ‘world’ in its wide sense of ‘universe.’ The nearest approach to such a meaning is in the phrase ‘the heavens and the earth.’”[i]  Thus, stating that God created the heavens and the earth is equivalent in our day to saying that He created the universe; it encompasses all that is.[ii]  Bible commentators Keil and Delitzsch note the significance of the first creative act found in the Bible:

 

[…] there is nothing belonging to the composition of the universe, either in material or form, which had an existence out of God prior to this divine act in the beginning (Keil & Delitzsch Genesis 1:2).

 

That is to say, God essentially created the building blocks before beginning construction.  The term the heavens and the earth here might be thought of as the raw material, the elements that God created out of nothing that He would form and fashion later to His liking.  Consider that before God created anything, there was only God.  There was no universe, no vacuum of space, nothing whatsoever.  There was only God.  Thus as part of His creative act, He had to create a dimension that was apart from Him – in which He could further manipulate and form the basic elements according to His will.  Keil & Delitzsch again comment:

 

This is also shown in the connection between our verse and the one which follows: “and the earth was without form and void,” not before, but when, or after God created it. From this it is evident that the void and formless state of the earth was not uncreated, or without beginning. At the same time it is obvious from the creative acts which follow (vv. 3-18), that the heaven and earth, as God created them in the beginning, were not the well-ordered universe, but the world in its elementary form; (Keil & Delitzsch 1866: Genesis 1:1)

 

Tohu Vavohu

 

“The earth was without form, and void (תהו ובהו tohu vavohu)” (Genesis 1:2a)

 

Verse two tells us that the matter God created was still in no particular shape or form.  There was no planet earth as we know it today, but the raw material that God had created, (according to Genesis 1:2b) was still in no special shape.  It was still unformed and unorganized.  These words do not in any way suggest that there had been an earlier creation, as proposed by the Gap Theory.  They do not suggest that the earth was a wasteland waiting to be recreated.  The word tohu in Genesis 1:2, according to the TWOT,

 

refers not to the result of a supposed catastrophe (for which there is no clear biblical evidence) but to the formlessness of the earth before God’s creative hand began the majestic acts described in the following verses. As Jeremiah 4:23 indicates, the earth always has the potential of returning to tohu wabohu if God decides to judge it. (TWOT Tohu)

Furthermore, the text says that the earth “was without form, and void” and not “became without form, and void” as the Gap Theorists argue.[iii]  The Hebrew והארץ היתה vehaaretz hayta is what is known grammatically as a copulative clause.[iv]  The Hebrew letter vav (or waw) attached to the noun (the earth) acts as a type of parenthetical[v] statement that is to suggest a reading: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  (Now the earth was without form, and void.)”  Thus the earth was desolate and void (tohu vavohu) at the very beginning of God’s creation and did not become as a result of God recreating it.

 

Tehom, the Deep

 

The rest of verse 2 seems to indicate that the creation of the heavens and the earth was water.  That is to say, that all of the matter of the universe was comprised of water and that water was formless.

 

…and darkness was on the face of the deep (תהוםtehom). And the Spirit of God was hovering (מרחפת merachefet) over the face of the waters (על־פני המים al panei hamayim). (Genesis 1:2b)

 

The apostle Peter comments on the creation of the world from water, “…that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water” (2 Peter 3:5)

 

It is also interesting to note that several ancient creation myths (cosmologies) had water as the original and eternal substance from which gods subsequently emerged.[vi]  The Bible, of course, demonstrates the superiority of God over His creation since He is the one who made the waters, and not the one emerging from the waters.  These ancient myths, I believe, are a distorted memory of the true creation account in which water was the first substance God created.

 

Tehom accurately describes well the water that was there in the beginning.  It is best translated as deep, depths, or abyss.  According to A. S. Yahuda, a word similar to tehom appears in the ancient language of Akkadian, which has a very similar meaning, thus helping us to better understand its use in the Bible:

 

[…] [tamtu] is conceived in its primordial condition as […] the primeval water as a sea, an ocean, before the earth was created by the heaping up of mud on the shore of this tamtu. (Yahuda 1933: 128)

Physicist Dr. Russel Humphreys, in his book, Starlight and Time, describes his theory based on the observations of this verse, how water might have then been transformed into the other known elements, “…this verse suggested to me that the original material God created, the deep, was pure water, which He then transformed into other materials”[vii] (Humphreys 2004: 72).

 

Merachefet, God’s Energizing of His Creation

 

The last word to analyze is מרחפת (merachefet): “And the Spirit of God was hovering (מרחפת merachefetover the face of the waters (על־פני המים al panei hamayim).” (Genesis 1:2b) The word is also found also in Deuteronomy 32:11[viii] and denotes the fluttering, hovering, or brooding motion of a bird over its nest.

 

As an eagle stirs up its nest,

Hovers (מרחפת merachefet) over its young,

Spreading out its wings, taking them up,

Carrying them on its wings, (Deuteronomy 32:11)


The purpose of the act of brooding by a bird over its nest is to provide warmth and nurturing to its young.  The movement is that of the bird gently shaking and moving its body in fairly small motions.  It also contains the idea of the bird covering its young with its wings, enveloping them in order to bring them to maturity.[ix]

 

It seems that at this point God began to energize the raw material that He made in verse 1.  The oscillation on the face (or surface) of the deep, which is really what the hovering could be compared to, created the movement of the inert elements.  It is interesting that all matter and energy at their core are simply wavelengths; “matter acts as both a particle and as a wave” (Koehler 1996).

 

We saw above that the Hebrew letter vav attached to the front of the word hayta (was) created a type of parenthetical statement.   The fact that מרחפת (merachefet) is a transitive participle substantiates that verse 2 is not a new thought or even the first act of God but a clarification of what came before it in verse 1.

 

God Speaks

 

The sequence of events is that the first thing that God did was to create the heavens (space) and the earth (material) – that is, He created a place or dimension outside of Himself and then the matter to work with, which we are told was without form and empty.  Then God, hovering over the face of the deep, decreed light to exist.  These are the first recorded words of God, but in fact, the third creative act.

 

This view can be strongly defended from the Hebrew grammar.  The typical sequence of a narrative is to start with a verb in the simple past tense[x] (Genesis 1:1 begins with bara – created in the simple past tense) thereby signifying something new or dramatic to the story.   Verse 2 we saw is a parenthetical statement explaining what is meant exactly by the creation of the “earth”.  The action picks up again in verse 3 with the use of a sequential past tense[xi].  The use of a different kind of Hebrew verb marks quite clearly that the writer understood the actions of verse 3 to be a continuation of the previous two verses.  Hebrew expert Dr. Buth notes that this is the normal storytelling construction in biblical Hebrew.

 

The sequential past tense is used to present the next event in the story or the next event in a sentence.  If the writer wants to mark a break in the flow of the story for any reason, then they do not use the sequential past tense.  For a past event they would need to put something other than the verb at the beginning of the sentence and then use a simple past tense (Buth 2005: 52).

 

Not only is verse 3 a continuation of verse 1, but the entire creation account of Genesis 1 uses the sequential past tense.  Consequently, according to the grammar, there is no break between verse 1 and the rest of the chapter.

 

Thus, there is no reason to try to place millions of years between any of the first three verses since they are all part of that first day.  Light was created on the first day, along with the very building blocks necessary for even the light to shine, which was energized by the movement of the Holy Spirit over the face of the deep.  There exists, therefore, no reason to believe that the length of the first day was any different than that of any other, nor was there a previous world that fell only to be recreated, nor was there even a geologic creation some billions of years earlier.  The first three verses of Genesis 1, the first day, all occurred within 24 hours just like the rest of the days as we shall see.


[i] International Standard Bible Encyclopedia “World”

[ii] This is not to overlook the speculation that there may be parallel universes.  However, by definition the word universe should encompass all that exists in the dimension of time and space.

[iii] For further discussion see: Weston W. Fields, (1976) Unformed and Unfilled p. 58.

[iv] For a further discussion on the copulative clause see: Kautzsch and Cowley, Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, p. 484, section 154a, footnote 1.

[v] Joüon, P., & T. Muraoka, (2003; 2005: electronic version, Logos Software) note the use of the copulative clause (also known as the vav explicativum):

On the other hand, a nominal or verbal clause with Waw forms a sort of parenthesis and precedes the main clause as in Gn 13.2 ואברהם כָּבֵד מאד now Abraham was very rich … ; 24.16 now the young girl was very beautiful…; Jon 3.3 now Nineveh was an enormous city; Gn 48.10 וְעֵינֵי ישׂראל כָּֽבְדוּ מִ ֫זֹּקֶן now the eyes of Israel were heavy because of old age; Josh 4.10 “whilst the priests … stood (עֹמְדִים) in the middle of the Jordan … the people hurriedly crossed over (וַיְמַהֲרוּ וַיַּעֲבֹ֫רוּ).” This same type of clause is also found used in an independent fashion: 1Kg 1.1 (at the very beginning of a narrative) now King David was old, advanced in age; Gn 37.3 now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons.

[vi] “In almost all primitive creation stories in Egypt, the eternal substance that existed in the beginning and whose origin is not explained is water, the primeval ocean, Nun.”  (Redford 1992: 398)

[vii] See Humphreys 2000: Appendix C, section 15 for a detailed, mathematical explanation of the physics involved.

He also notes that he based “a theory about the origin of the planetary magnetic fields on the possibility that the earth and other bodies in the solar system were originally created as pure water” (Humphreys 2004: 73).  He remarks that his theory has been extremely successful in predicting measurements of the magnetic fields of Uranus and Neptune.

[viii] The word is in the Pa’al form in Jeremiah 23:9.

[ix]Keil and Delitzsch confirm this “The creative Spirit of God, the principle of all life (Psalm 33:6; Psalm 104:30), which worked upon the formless, lifeless mass, separating, quickening, and preparing the living forms, which were called into being by the creative words that followed. רחף in the Piel is applied to the hovering and brooding of a bird over its young, to warm them, and develop their vital powers (Deuteronomy 32:11). In such a way as this the Spirit of God moved upon the deep, which had received at its creation the germs of all life, to fill them with vital energy by His breath of life.” (K&D 1866 Genesis 1:2)

[x] Dr. Randall Buth notes “in telling stories, the past tense is used with a special word order to grammatically signal events as a break in the flow of the story.  It marks a discontinuity.  That is, something is put in front of the verb […]  This is done when the author wants to break the time flow of the story, or when the author wants to mark a boundary of unity […]”  (Buth 2005:52).   There could be no better way to indicate that Genesis 1:1 is an absolutely new and dramatic event than by using the simple past tense (also commonly referred to as the perfect or qatal tense).

[xi] This is commonly known in Hebrew grammar as the vayyiqtol tense.

 

Are the Creation Days Literal or Figurative? A Study of the Hebrew Word Yom

 

“For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day.” (Exodus 20:11)

 

The keystone of whether the earth is relatively young or extremely old rests heavily on the understanding of the Hebrew word יום yom, which is translated into English as day.  The Progressive Creation theory which espouses the belief of an old earth (approximately 4.56 billion years old), while trying to remain faithful to Scripture, contends that the days in Genesis 1 (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 to 10,000 years ago.  Who is to say who is right?  How can we determine what a day really means?  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?

Meanings of Day in the Old Testament

 

As with most misunderstandings in the Bible, the key to unlocking the puzzle lies in the context of the word.  The word day is used in several different ways in the Bible.  Occasionally, we see days referring to a time in the past.  Judges 18:1, for example, states that “In those days…” בימים ההם bayamim hahem.  This exact phrase appears 31 times in the Old Testament.  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 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 that has theological or eschatological significance such as “the day of the LORD” yom YHWH יום הוה.  This expression, found 13 times in the Old Testament, 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 Genesis 5:4 we read concerning the days of Adam, “So all the days that Adam (yamei-adam ימי־אדם) 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.

 

24-Hour Days

 

The final meaning refers to days of 24‑hours. The most basic way of defining a day was from evening to evening, which is indicated in the text by evening and morning. The ancient Israelites, contrary to us, started their new days at sunset.  Thus, Friday night at sunset would already be considered the Sabbath and the day would end Saturday evening at around the same time.

 

Another way to indicate a regular day of 24‑hours is by hayom hazeh היום הזה which is translated as “the very same day.”  In Genesis 7:13 we read: “On the very same day Noah […] entered the ark”.  Likewise, Genesis 17:23 states: “So Abraham took Ishmael his son, all who were born in his house and all who were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very same day, as God had said to him.”  In both of these passages, the word day makes reference to the same day – that is the 24-hour period they were currently in.  It is clear that the word here does not refer to an indefinite period of time but rather to a 24-hour period.

 

Days with a Cardinal Number

 

When a cardinal number (one, two, three, four, etc.) appears in front of the word day, it refers only and always to one (or many) period(s) of 24 hours.  There are numerous verses which elucidate this point.  Genesis 33:13 states:

 

But Jacob said to him, ‘My lord knows that the children are weak, and the flocks and herds which are nursing are with me. And if the men should drive them hard one day, all the flock will die.’

 

What Jacob is saying to his brother Esau is that there is a limit to how far little children and cattle can go in one day. The reference is clearly to one 24-hour period of time.  Numbers 11:20 clarifies the usage even more.  The children of Israel complained against the LORD because they did not have meat like they had in Egypt, the very place where God rescued them from.  Rather than simply trust God for their needs or even ask for meat, they complained bitterly against God.  In frustration with his stubborn children, He declares that they will have more meat than they know what to do with:

 

“You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but for a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the LORD Who is among you, and have wept before Him, saying, ‘Why did we ever come up out of Egypt?’” (Numbers 11:20)

 

Here the meaning of day or days is clear.  There will be not just one, or two, or five, or ten, or twenty days, but a whole month’s worth of meat.  The meaning of the word day is augmented by the contrast with the word “month” chodesh חודשׁ, which only refers to the time of about thirty days or one cycle of the moon and never anything else.

 

Further proof that yom day refers to a 24-hour day when preceded by cardinal numbers is found throughout the Old Testament. God, in explaining the judgment coming upon the world, says in Genesis 7:4, “For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made.”  God gave Noah another seven days – not long, indefinite periods of time, but seven 24-hour days, until the floodwaters would come.  Verse 10 records that indeed after seven literal days, the waters of the flood came: “And it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were on the earth.”  Verse 11 surpasses the previous two in precision by telling us exactly when this occurred.

 

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.

 

This description is not just about some indefinite period of time.  It was on the 17th of the second month, a very real time that the flood came.  And then the record (verse 24) tells us specifically how long the waters were on the earth.  “And the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days.”  One hundred and fifty days in the text is not some long, undetermined era.  Some people would contend that the days of the flood are irrelevant since Noah was simply a mythical or an allegorical figure.  However, if one accepts the words of Jesus and the New Testament, then one must also accept that Noah was a real person who lived through the worldwide flood.  (See Matthew 24:37, 38, Luke 17:26, 27, 1 Peter 3:20, 2 Peter 2:5, Hebrews 11:7).  Thus, because Jesus and the disciples accepted Noah as real, we must understand the days described in Genesis as being real, 24-hour days.

 

The list of verses in the Old Testament confirming that every time a number comes before day it is referring to a 24‑hour day is extensive.  A few more examples clearly illustrate the principle.  “Then he put three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks” (Genesis 30:36).  “Forty days were required for him [Joseph], for such are the days required for those who are embalmed; The First Six Days 5 Comboand the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days” (Genesis 50:3).  “And seven days passed after the LORD had struck the river” (Exodus 7:25).  “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.  On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses.  For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel” (Exodus 12:15).  “Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none” (Exodus 16:26).  “So Gad came to David and told him; and he said to him, ‘Shall seven years of famine come to you in your land? Or shall you flee three months before your enemies, while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ plague in your land?’” (2 Samuel 24:13).  Although there are too many verses to list them all here, throughout the entire Old Testament, in every case where a number precedes day, it deals with the literal usage of day rather than an indefinite period of time.

 

Days with Ordinal Numbers

 

A cardinal number before day is not the only way to express literal days.  We see again and again that ordinal numbers (first, second, third, fourth, etc.) are also used in a literal sense when used with day.  Ezekiel records that on a particular (literal) day of a particular month of a particular year God again spoke to him: “Again, in the ninth year, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, the word of the LORD came to me” (Ezekiel 24:1, emphasis mine).  Likewise, Ezra records the exact day when the temple was finished: “Now the temple was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius” (Ezra 6:15, emphasis mine).

 

We find in the book of Numbers a usage of ordinal numbers that is parallel to Genesis 1.  In Genesis 1 we saw the chronology of creation described as one day and then the second day, the third day etc.  In Numbers 29, God lists the various sacrifices and on which day they are to be performed for the feast of Tabernacles.  Notice that the days listed have the same ordinal numbers[i] as used in Genesis.

 

On the second day (יום השׁני yom hasheni) present twelve young bulls, […]  On the third day (יום השׁלישׁי yom hashlishi) present eleven bulls, […]  On the fourth day (יום הרביעי yom harevi’i) present […]  On the fifth day (יום החמישׁי yom hachamishi) present […]On the sixth day (יום השׁשׁי yom hashishi) present […]  On the seventh day (יום השׁביעי yom hashvi’i) present seven bulls (Numbers 29:17, 20, 23, 26, 29, 32, emphases mine).

 

The days above were most certainly real and literal days in which specific things had to happen; they were not long drawn out periods of time.  The text employs the use of ordinal numbers as does Genesis 1 but here we do not conclude that those days were indefinite periods of time; they were simply days.  Thus even with ordinal numbers a day is just a literal, 24-hour day.

 

Days in Hosea 6:2

 

Certain Bible expositors have suggested that Hosea 6:2 uses days as ages of time (probably about 1000 years each) in relation to the nation of Israel and their national revival: “After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight.”  While this is a provocative interpretation that cannot be disproved, the context does not demand such an interpretation and hence neither can it be positively proven.  It could be that even here it is referring to two plus one literal days.

 

This survey of the usage of days in the Old Testament brings us back to the question of just how we are to understand the days of creation.  We have seen that there are times when the word day is used for periods of time other than a literal 24-hour (though millions or billions of years are never implied).  However, whenever a number is placed in front of the word day, the meaning becomes limited to that of a 24‑hour period, that is, a regular day just as we use the word today to describe a day. Therefore, looking at Genesis 1, are we to interpret those days as literal, 24-hour days or long, indefinite periods of time in which evolution may have occurred?

 


[i] The selected verses in Genesis 1 and in Numbers 29 are identical with the exception of the definite article ה (he – the). Genesis 1: יום שׁני (yom sheni).  Numbers 29: יום השׁני (yom hasheni).

The Creationism Vs. Evolution Debate: Ken Ham And Bill Nye

“It’s wonderful to have an easy-to-read yet well-researched book that

demonstrates that a sound reading of Genesis chapter 1 demands a
literal, six-day creation week. If you’ve ever asked yourself whether
the first six creation days were real days, or whether it even matters,
this book by pastor and educator Doug Hamp is for you.”

– Ken Ham, founder and president of Answers in Genesis and the Creation

Museum

The debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye, the science guy, raised the important question of what is evolution. I wrote about that in my book, The First Six Days.

What is Evolution?

 

Evolution in its most basic sense is any process of formation or growth; development, derived from the Latin meaning unrolling, according to Random House Dictionary (2006).  There are many things that evolve, so to speak, in our world.  All that we mean, however, is that there is a slow, gradual change occurring in different facets of life.  Let us consider a few examples.

 

The Changes in Language and Culture

 

We can speak of the slow progression of the English language as an example of evolution.  The English of today is clearly not the same as that of Shakespeare’s day.  They are both English, but many things have changed radically so that words and expressions of his day have a completely different meaning today.  The change in language is something that happens slowly and in small increments, but we can all agree that it happens.  Consider how it is that we use different expressions than our parents did and our kids use different words and expressions than we do.

 

Get all facts in the book.

Get all facts in the book.

Cultures are also going through a process of change or evolution as well.  The culture of America is without doubt different today than it was 50 years ago.  Things that were unacceptable back then are sometimes considered normal by today’s standards.  In both of these examples, however, we are using the word evolution as a description of the slow change that is taking place and as such, the concept is completely acceptable.  After all, these changes are observed linguistically and culturally by experts in the respective fields and simply by the general public.  In other words, we can easily document and conclusively prove that those changes have actually occurred because the starting point is only 50 years ago and not 15 billion or even 6000 years ago.

 

From Natural Selection to Molecules-to-Man Evolution to Abiogenesis

Using the word evolution to describe the slow, steady changes that we undoubtedly witness in languages and cultures is indeed a correct use of the term.  If that were the only way that it was used then there would be no problem whatsoever.  However, the reality is that evolution

Ken Ham vs Bill Nye the science guy

Molecules to Man Evolution

has been given a new role and meaning; it is used to describe the entire progression of the universe starting with the Big Bang until the present day.  The different phases of evolution include: particulate, galactic, stellar, planetary, chemical, biological and cultural.[1]  Biological evolution purports to explain how life started from non-life (properly called abiogenesis) and then how those single-celled organisms eventually turned into you and me.  Douglas Futuyma, a foremost expert in biological evolution notes,

“In the broadest sense, evolution is merely change, and so is all-pervasive; galaxies, languages, and political systems all evolve. Biological evolution…is change in the properties of populations of organisms that transcend the lifetime of a single individual…Biological evolution may be slight or substantial; it embraces everything from slight changes in the proportion of different alleles within a population (such as those determining blood types) to the successive alterations that led from the earliest protoorganism to snails, bees, giraffes, and dandelions.”  (Futuyma 1986)

The above definition is rather misleading, however.  Dr. Futuyma should define for us the three different concepts that he is dealing with under the broad category of biological evolution, which are: Natural Selection (adaptation to an environment), molecules-to-man evolution (change in kind, e.g. reptile to bird) and abiogenesis (a nonliving piece of rock to a living single-celled organism).  Neither the Bible nor literal six-day creationists are in any way against the concept of Natural Selection, which was actually first introduced by a creationist Edward Blythe.  Changes in species populations, by adapting to their environment, have in fact been witnessed to occur.

Charles Darwin correctly noted that the beaks of the finches on the Galapagos Islands changed according to the climatic conditions.  He called this evolution.  From there he postulated his theory that these small changes, given enough time, could account for all of the living creatures on earth.  Darwin failed to note, however, that the finches were still finches.  They never turned into something else other than finches.  Darwin observed the species’ ability to adapt to its surrounding (which is easily ascribed to an amazing Creator) and from there made the leap of faith that with the magical element of time, one creature will turn into another.

According to Its Kind

 

The belief in molecules-to-man evolution – that single-celled organisms turned into more complex creatures, which turned into something else, all the way to you and me – is what stands in direct conflict with the Bible and specifically the six days of creation.  Genesis 1:24 specifically states that on the fifth day, “Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind [מין min]: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind’; and it was so.”  This verse acts as an insurmountable obstacle to those who would try to bridge (macro)evolution and the Bible.  God’s words cannot be misconstrued here.  He plainly says that different living creatures will come forth according to their own kind and not from one common ancestor of all.  He then defines what He means by enumerating the creatures: “cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth”, rendering impossible the paradigm that everything came from a different creature smaller and simpler than itself.  The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament explains:

 

Some have argued that when God created “min” [class, kind, species], he thereby fixed the “species.” This is a gratuitous assumption because a link between the word “min” with the biologist’s descriptive term “species” cannot be substantiated, and because there are as many definitions of species as there are biologists…God created the basic forms of life called “min” which can be classified according to modern biologists and zoologists as sometimes species, sometimes genus, sometimes family or sometimes order. This gives no support to the classical evolutionist’s view which requires developments across kingdom, phyla, and classes.

Dogs Are Still Dogs

 

Animals reproducing fertile offspring according to their own kind, is what we see in nature.  We see hundreds of varieties of dogs, but dogs are still dogs.  This (largely human-caused) variation in dogs is often called evolution.  This is reflected in the Seed Magazine article “The Human-Influenced Evolution of Dogs” (Anthes 2006), which discusses not the molecules-to-man type of evolution of how a non-dog turned into a dog, but how through human intervention “the domestication of dogs by humans has given rise to the immense diversity of the canine species by allowing otherwise harmful genetic mutations to survive.”  (Anthes 2006)   This “evolution” that Anthes refers to is nothing more than variation within a kind.  Nevertheless, she is echoed by the Natural History Museum in London which says that the breeding of dogs shows evolution as well.  (Batten 1996)   Here again, we are given an example of Natural Selection (adaptation and variation, which are factual and observed) and are led to believe that it is equivalent to molecules-to-man evolution.

 

However, there is no “evolution” of the dog at all, other than variation due greatly to humans.  Interestingly, the study of genetics confirms that all dogs have come from a common ancestry. “Most breeds have developed during the past 500 years, […] Before humans began breeding dogs for certain traits or behaviors, dogs were more general in their appearance or morphology […]” (Dalke 2002).  The multiplicity of dogs is not a proof of evolution but of dog’s best friend manipulating him to better suit man.  “Breeds tell us more about human preferences than about dogs […] Dog breeds are the result of human preferences—selected traits taken from generation to generation.” (Dalke 2002).  “The Human-Influenced Evolution of Dogs” would be better titled “Man’s Breeding of Dogs”.

Views of Biblical Creation

 

For those holding to the belief that God was the agent of creation, there are four possible answers to the question of how He did it.  The first view is that God took six, literal days as understood by the plain reading of the Genesis text, which is the thesis of this book.  The other three views consider the evolutionary model to be an established fact and therefore seek to reconcile the revelation of Scripture regarding creation with evolution.  The three views are Theistic Evolution, the Gap Theory, and Progressive Creationism.

 

Theistic Evolution

 

Theistic Evolution is the most liberal of the views that ascribes to God a role in creation as being the agent that jump-started the Big Bang.  According to this theory, since then He has allowed evolution to take its course thereby having very little, if any, role in His creation and dealings with man.

 

The Gap Theory

 

Proponents of the Gap Theory see the days of Genesis 1 as being literal days but with a time gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 (some also suggest a gap between 1:2 and 1:3).  The rationale for seeking a gap, nevertheless, is due to the belief that (geological) evolution is an established fact and that the Bible must be reconciled to it.  Hence, a time gap is envisioned between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 (or 1:2-1:3), which allows for the billions of years supposedly necessary for geological evolution to take place.

 

Progressive Creationism

 

Progressive Creationism seeks to reconcile the belief of evolution with the Bible, not by way of a gap between verses 1:1 and 1:2, but rather by redefining six days of Genesis 1 to mean indefinite periods of time in which millions and perhaps billions of years transpired each day.  They see God as being involved in the entire process of creation wherein every day, God was creating via the evolutionary process.[2]  Van Bebber and Taylor point out:

 

According to the Progressive Creationist timeline, Adam was, in effect, created on top of a graveyard of decaying or fossilized animals. Almost anywhere he walked, the remains of millions of dead animals were somewhere below his feet — evidence of death and frequent misery on a massive scale (2006).

 

Thus, for the Progressive Creationist, both the Bible and the evolutionary model complement one another because the biblical creation account is better understood through the lens of evolutionary thinking.  Undoubtedly, most proponents of both the Gap Theory and Progressive Creationism believe in the authority of the Bible.

 

How Much Time Does God Need?

 

Get all facts in the book.

Get all facts in the book.

Rather than ask why couldn’t God have taken billions of years to accomplish His work of creation, the better question is why didn’t God speak once and everything merely come into existence as suggested by Augustine (see chapter 7)?  God, the Supreme Being by which all things exist, could have snapped His divine fingers and everything would have come into being at once.  Thus, even from a literal, six-day-

creation standpoint, God took His time in a big way!  Why did He take so long to create everything?  God purposely slowed Himself down rather than just getting it over with.  The reason, found in Exodus 20:11 (and 31:12-17), is that God wanted to establish a pattern which for mankind to follow; God worked for six days and then rested and so should man.

Or



[1] I believe the Bible is a faithful and reliable historical document inspired by God.  There are numerous excellent books and websites on the subject, which demonstrate the accuracy of the Bible.  Visit  christiananswers.net/ for general questions and answersingenesis.com for answers to many Bible and science questions.

 

[2] “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between the seed of thy son, and the seed of her sons…Nevertheless for them there shall be a medicine, but for thee there will be no medicine; and they shall make a remedy for the heel in the days of the King Meshiha. [Messiah]” (Targum Jonathan, Genesis 3:15)

 

Replenish the Earth and the Gap Theory

 Replenish the Earth and the Gap Theory

In Genesis 1:28 we read “…and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.” (KJV)  The King James Version’s use of the word replenish has been seen by Gap Theorists as proof that the earth is old, since supposedly Adam and Eve are commanded to fill again.  In fact, the idea that God commanded Adam and Eve not merely to fill the earth but to fill the earth again, stems from the Gap Theory.[i]  The proponents of the Gap Theory believe that the billions of years of the age of the heavens and earth, as touted by evolutionistic thinking, is found between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.  Thus, did God command Adam and Eve to fill the earth for the very first time or to fill the earth again?  Did they

The First Six Days: the Gap Theory Debunked

Get all facts in the book.

actually understand that they were to fill the earth again because the world prior to their creation had been destroyed?

 

Replenish/Malu

It is true, that in today’s English, when we say replenish we mean filling up something that is depleted, something that was once full and is now empty.  However, just less than 200 years ago, Webster’s Dictionary (1828) defines the word as, “To fill; to stock with numbers or abundance.”  We can see that the word has changed from meaning fill to fill again today.  Of course, the answer ultimately lies not in English but in Hebrew.

 

The Hebrew word מלאו (malu) does not mean to refill, but simply to fill.  It in no way connotes or implies to fill again.  It just means fill.  God gave the same command to fill in Genesis 9:1 to Noah after the flood as He did to Adam and Eve.  There is no question that Noah was to fill the earth again, but that is not intrinsically implied by the word; God simply said to fill the earth.  Likewise, to suggest that God commanded Adam and Eve to repopulate a world that had been recreated is poor exegesis and is not even remotely supported from the text.  We can, therefore, absolutely conclude that Adam and Eve simply understood God to be telling them to fill the earth for the first time and not to refill the world.  They would absolutely not infer from God’s command that there had been a world gone bad prior to theirs.  In fact, there are no words or verses that support such a claim.[ii]


 


[i] Weston W. Fields in his book Unformed and Unfilled (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1978) provides a thorough discussion of the Gap Theory and its fatal flaws.  See also

answersingenesis.org/creation/v3/i3/gap_theory.asp

[ii] For a discussion on the Gap Theory, see: Russell Grigg From The Beginning Of The Creation

answersingenesis.org/creation/v19/i2/beginning.asp

The Value of Literary Genre (The Language of Creation Part 5 of 5)

the language of creation

A consideration raised by the Clergy Letter Project is that the creation account is not to be read literally but allegorically or figuratively. The Letter states: “Many of the beloved stories found in the Bible – the Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark – convey timeless truths about God, human beings, and the proper relationship between Creator and creation…Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth. Its purpose is not to convey scientific information but to transform hearts.” (Clergy Letter Project, 2004) People holding to this view often claim that the literary genre of Gen 1 and 2 is poetic rather than prose. They therefore suggest the account cannot be a literal, accurate, straightforward, and chronological summary of the actual events; it is simply using figurative, allegorical, metaphorical language to teach us “timeless truths.”

 

A survey of parallel accounts written in both prose and poetry, however, demonstrates that regardless of a passage’s literary genre, (poetic or prose), it is still to be understood in a literal fashion. For example, God’s commanding of Moses to strike the rock so that water would come out of it (Exod 17:6) offers an example of prose that was retold in a literal but poetic fashion by later, biblical writers. Asaph uses very concrete words to describe the historical fact of the rock being struck and water coming out, such as: “we have heard”, “our fathers have told us”, (Ps 78:3) “(God) appointed a law…to make known”.  He makes it abundantly clear that striking the rock was a very real, historical event and that the events occurred as stated. There is no sense of allegory whatsoever in his language even though he retells the account using poetic parallelism (chiasmus A, B).

  • Give ear, O my people, to my law; (A) Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. (B)
  • He divided the sea and caused them to pass through; (A) He made the waters stand up like a heap. (B)
  • He split the rocks in the wilderness, (A) and gave them drink in abundance like the depths. (B) He also brought streams out of the rock, (A) and caused waters to run down like rivers. (B)  (Ps 78:1, 15. 16)

 

The striking of the rock and water coming forth is reiterated in Psalm 105:41 where another Psalmist states: “He opened the rock, and water gushed out; it ran in the dry places like a river.”  Both of these writers have interpreted the events in Exodus literally and straightforwardly. (See also Paul’s recounting in 1 Cor 10:1-6)

 

Exodus 15:1 is another example of poetry as historical fact a song (poetry) to the Lord: “Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and spoke, saying…” Exodus 15 is the poetic form of chapter 14 which was written in prose – that is, a plain straightforward kind of language. What we must not miss, however, is both the prose in chapter 14 and the poetry in 15 tell a true and historic account of what happened at the crossing of the Red Sea. A historic account expressed in poetry in no way precludes it from also being an accurate and true account.

 

Therefore, whether or not Genesis creation account is poetry or prose or even a mix of both makes no difference. We see this proven by looking at other biblical passages that speak of creation. For example, after taking the children of Israel out of Egypt, God led them to a place called Mount Sinai. We read in Exodus 20 which is written as prose, He gave them the law and therein he states that he created everything in six days and rested on the seventh. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God.” (Exod 20:9) Certainly God is talking about a regular workweek. The people were to work six (literal) days and then they were to take a day off, something very different from the custom of the peoples around them, who generally didn’t take any days off. God gives the reason and history behind the seven-day week: “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day.” (Exod 20:11, 31:15, 17) God unequivocally declares that He created everything in only six days. Like the other times that a cardinal number appears before the word day (yom יום), here too it is used as a literal 24-hour day. God makes perfectly clear how long he took to make the universe (just in case anyone should be confused). If these days are not taken as literal days then neither can the Sabbath be taken as literal. Yet the Sabbath as a literal day, starting at sunset Friday evening and lasting until the following Saturday evening, has always been considered a literal span of 24-hours so we can safely conclude that the six days of creation are also to be taken literally.

 

There is no way to circumvent this declaration: the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, observed for 24-hours every week, is a sign between the Jewish people and God. The Israelites knew exactly how long it was – for not knowing would cost them their life. The Sabbath was/is 24 hours and therefore, so are all of the other days of the week, which is how long it took God to create the heavens and the earth. Hence God himself interprets the former revelation given in Genesis one and two as literal.

Framework Hypothesis

The framework hypothesis posits that the layout of the creation events is not chronological but theological and thus we cannot understand the days (and creative events) as being literal. For example Gordon Wenham, a proponent of the framework hypothesis argues that, “…the distribution of the various creative acts to six days, has been seized on and interpreted over-literalistically…The six day schema is but one of several means employed in this chapter to stress the system and order that has been built into creation.” (Wenham 1987: 39, 40) Yet the fact that the Genesis creation account is beautifully written does not detract from the author’s intent to convey a literal and factual account.

 

This is confirmed by many biblical scholars, who do not believe that Gen 1:1-2:3 is the actual scientific explanation of where we came from, yet nevertheless argue on the basis of linguistic and literary criteria that the Genesis creation account was written as a literal rendering of what the author believed to have truly happened and hence the days of Gen 1 and 2 are literal, definite periods of time. Old Testament scholar Gerhard von Rad states, “The seven days are unquestionably to be understood as actual days […]” (von Rad 1972:65).

 

Oxford Hebrew professor James Barr, who does not actually believe Genesis as factual, states emphatically concerning the writer’s intent, “the creation ‘days’ were six literal days of a 144-hour period” (Barr 1978: 40). Barr later adds in a 1984 letter:

…so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Gen 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that: 1) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience, 2) the figures contained in the Gen genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story, 3) Noah’s flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark.’ (Barr 1984)

Gerhard F. Hasel in his article The “Days” Of Creation in Genesis 1 likewise notes the conclusion of liberal scholars:

 

the creation “days” cannot be anything but literal 24-hour days. They are fully aware of the figurative, non-literal interpretations of the word “day” in Gen 1 for the sake of harmonization with the long ages demanded by the evolutionary model of origins. Yet, they insist on the grounds of careful investigations of the usage of “day” in Gen 1 and elsewhere that the true meaning and intention of a creation “day” is a literal day of 24 hours (Hasel 1994, emphasis mine).

 

Hasel further argues how:

 

the ‘literary genre’ redefinition of the creation account is intended to remove the creation account from informing modern readers on “how” and “in what manner” and in what time God created the world. It simply wishes to affirm minimalistically that God is Creator. And that affirmation is meant to be a theological, nonscientific statement which has no impact on how the world and universe came into being and developed subsequently. (Hasel 1994)

 

Thus what Wenham and others have discovered about the literary style of Genesis only serves to magnify its author, God, and the literary considerations in no way detract from a literal interpretation of the days and events contained therein. Furthermore and for the record, Walter Kaiser states in his study on Genesis 1-11; “we are dealing with the genre of historical narrative-prose, interspersed with some lists, sources, sayings, and poetical lines.” (Kaiser 1970: 61) Therefore the attempt to relegate it as non-literal literature is an unwarranted effort to dismiss the biblical cosmology as myth.

Conclusion: The Language of Creation Proves a Literal Seven-Days Creation

The biblical creation account can only be describing a period of seven literal 24-hour days. The linguistic foundation is found in the usage of the word day (yom יום) because every time it is used in conjunction with a cardinal or ordinal number, the meaning is always and without exception limited to the period of a regular and literal 24-hour day. God Himself reiterates that He created the heavens and the earth in six days, which is why He instructs man to work six days and then to take the seventh off. We know from history that the Hebrews have always taken the six-day workweek literally and have considered the seventh day to be a day of rest. Because God tells us twice in Exodus (20:11 and 31:17) that those were literal days, our only plausible conclusion regarding the six (plus one) days in Genesis is that they are to be taken as literal, 24-hour days. There is wide acceptance that the writer of Genesis believed that God created in six literal days. We need not and cannot conclude that they were six indefinite periods of time, at least not if we are to take everything else in the Bible seriously.

 

The only reason to conclude that the six days of creation were long periods of time is if we seek to harmonize the Bible with the model of (geological, chemical and biological) evolution. However, if we simply seek to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, then the interpretation of Genesis 1 is clear: God created the heavens and the earth in six literal 24-hour days and rested on the seventh. We therefore conclude that there is no room for a biblical interpretation which includes an evolutionary process of billions of years during creation; God emphatically declares to have done it in six, literal days.

 

Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four

Bibliography

Barr, James (1978). Fundamentalism. Philadelphia: Westminster Press.

Barr, James (April 23, 1984). Letter to David C.C. Watson: Oxford.

Bozarth, G. Richard. (Sept. 1979). The Meaning of Evolution. American Atheist Magazine.

Brown Driver Briggs (BDB), (1996).  Hebrew Lexicon. Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers.

Buth, Randall (1994)."Methodological Collision Between Source Criticism and Discourse Analysis, The problem of 'Unmarked Temporal Overlay' and the pluperfect/nonsequential wayyiqtol" in Biblical Hebrew and Discourse Linguistics, ed. Robert Bergen, (S.I.L., 1994: 138-154).

Buth, Randall (2005).  Living Biblical Hebrew, Introduction Part Two, Mevasseret Zion: Biblical Language Center.

Clergy Letter Project. Retrieved August 20, 2006, from www.butler.edu/clergyproject/religion_science_collaboration.htm

Collins, C. John (1995). The Wayyiqtol As ‘Pluperfect’: When And Why Pages 117-140 Tyndale Bulletin Vol.46.1 (May 1995).

Fields, Weston W. (1978). Unformed and Unfilled. Collinsville, Illinois: Burgener Enterprises.

Harris, R. Laird, Gleason L Archer Jr., & Bruce K. Waltke, (1980). Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Chicago: Moody Press.

Joüon, P., & T. Muraoka (2005). A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew. Roma: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico.

Kaiser, Walter C. (1970). The Literary Form of Gen 1-11, New Perspectives on the Old Testament. ed. J. Barton Payne Waco, TX: Word Books.

Kautzsch, E. and A. E., Cowley, eds (1910). Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, 2nd. ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Keil & Delitzsch (1866). Commentary on the Old Testament. Eerdmans: Grand Rapids (1973 reprint).

Hasel, Gerhard (1994). The “Days” Of Creation in Gen 1: Literal “Days” Or Figurative “Periods/Epochs” Of Time?  Retrieved September 5, 2006, from www.grisda.org/origins/21005.htm

Orr, James ed. (1913) International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. (electronic version: The Word Bible Software).

Pipa, Joseph A. Jr. From Chaos to Cosmos: A Critique of the Framework Hypothesis. Westminster Theological Seminary/California. (Draft January 13, 1998). Retrieved March 12, 2007, from http://capo.org/cpc/pipa.htm

Ramm, Bernard (1950). Protestant Biblical Interpretation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Roberts, A. & J. Donaldson, eds. (1885). Translations Of The Writings Of The Fathers Down To A.D. 325. Buffalo: The Christian Literature Publishing Company. The Word Bible Software.

Ross, Hugh (1991). The Fingerprint of God. 2nd ed. Orange, CA: Promise Publishing.

Von Rad, Gerhard (1972). Gen: A Commentary. Philadelphia: Westminster Press.

Wenham, Gordon J. (1987). Gen 1-15, Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 1. Waco, TX: Word Books.

 

When Did Satan Fall? The Angelic Domain: Created Before Genesis 1:1 or After? (Video)

When Satan fell and where he was before the fall of man greatly enhances our understanding of Adam’s fall as well as how things are going to be restored in the age to come. Did God create Satan and the angels before the creation of the heavens and earth? Did He create them outside of time and space as many have suggested? The simple answer is no and here is why. Before anything was, before the blackness of space, before the void, there was the King, the Almighty, the Self-Existent, the One who was, and is and is to come. He existed in and of his own domain. God wasn’t “anywhere” because there was no “where”. There was only God. Nevertheless, He created from nothing a space, a domain outside of Himself that was not. This expanse, dimension, He called shamaim (or heavens). He filled this domain with substance, material called eretz (earth). We can think of the heavens like a water bottle filled with water (eretz). Imagine God by Himself, of Himself, bringing forth from Himself a dimension, a void, filled with only eretz also called ‘tehom’ the ‘depth’ which had not been before. However, on that first day, the earth was only in the process of being formed. This is why God paused and explained what He meant by ‘water’. He did not mean the ball of soil, dirt, land, that Adam stood on when his eyes opened and beheld God. Eretz — earth on the first day was in fact water. Read paper here.