by Robert Brow    (

Brow Publications, Kingston, Ontario (e-mail: 2004

Introduction | Genesis 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11| 12| 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30

31 | 32 | 33| 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41| 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50| PostScript


Table Of Contents:

Genesis 1:1 Genesis 1:21
Genesis 1:2 Genesis 1:22
Genesis 1:4 Genesis 1:23
Genesis 1:5 Genesis 1:24-25
Genesis 1:6-10 Genesis 1:26
Genesis 1:11-13 Genesis 1:27
Genesis 1:14-15 Genesis 1:28
Genesis 1:16-18 Genesis 1:29-30
Genesis 1:19 Genesis 1:31
Genesis 1:20  

GENESIS 1:1-5 The First Day

1:1 The Hebrew verb bara (create, make, bring into existence) always refers to the intervention of God as the Creator. Humans agree that this world exhibits a marvelous complexity, and most of us are delighted by the beauty of mountains, clouds, night skies, trees, flowers, insects, birds, fish, animals. ATHEISM is a model that explores this beautiful complexity as coming into being by mindless chance. THEISM explores the same complexity looking for an unseen creator who must be ultimately responsible for all that the human eye can see.

It is impossible to prove that an atheistic model is wrong since people can say concerning any astonishing sign of a personal intervention in our world : "It could have happened with enough chance over a sufficiently long period of time." But atheism certainly requires a huge amount of faith. It is like believing that a beautiful quilt emerged by chance from the revolutions of a drier (see ARTICLES & ESSAYS, Christian Faith, "The Quilt").

The word evolution is used to describe any process of development or growth through stages over a period of time. We can for example picture each stage of the evolution of the Mercedes car from an original wheelbarrow. But to suggest that the evolution of cars happened totally by chance without any creative mind to guide it would be ridiculous.

This is why it is important for Christians not to view the science of evolution as contradicting faith in a Creator. We do not deny that evolution took place over an immensely long stretch of time, or that many changes occured as the result of chance events, or the interventions of animals (beavers making dams) or humans (the pyramids). What is essential to Christian faith is that a personal being brought this world into being for a purpose. This is opposed by one form of EXISTENTIALISM which views the world, and our life in it, as meaningless and absurd.

Faith begins when we assume that God’s purpose for our world is relevant to us. "By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible" (Hebrews 11:3). As Paul said in the New Testament, " Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things which he has made" (Romans 1:20).

Having believed that a creation has taken place, we then want to name the creator. In Hebrew the Creator of our world, whoever he was, and wherever he or she might be located, was called Elohim (Arabic Allah) as in the first verse of the Bible. It is the equivalent of the words for the Creator God in several Indo-European languages (French dieu, Latin deus, Greek zeus, Sanskrit dev). The English word God has the same root as the German Gott). But it makes no difference what name is given to the Creator in the hundreds of languages of our world. What counts is whether we look to him to intervene in our daily life and the life of our nation or tribe.

1:2 At first sight we are puzzled by the statement. "A wind (ruakh) from God swept over the face of the waters. " But as we go on to read the Bible we find the term ruakh (wind, breath) is used metaphorically to describe the creative activity of God:

"See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and I have filled him with the divine spirit (Hebrew ruakh elohim meaning wind of God) with ability, intelligence, and knowledge for every kind of craft" (Exodus 31:2-3).

"The LORD raised up a deliverer for the Israelites, who delivered them, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. The spirit of the LORD (ruakh yahaweh) came upon him, and he judged Israel" (Judges 3:10).

"The spirit of the LORD (ruakh yahaweh) took possession of Gideon, and he sounded the trumpet" (Judges 6:34, as in 11:29).

"Elisha said, ‘Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit (ruakh)" (2 Kings 2:9).

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit (ruakh) within me" (Psalm 51:10, this is verse 12 in the Hebrew Old Testament).

But it was Isaiah the prophet who was most conscious of the need of the Holy Spirit to renew the nation, and he expected the LORD to do this:

"Until a spirit (ruakh) from on high is poured out on us, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field" (Isaiah 32:15).

"Here is my servant, whom I uphold; I have put my spirit (ruakh) upon him, and he will bring forth justice to the nations (42:1).

"The spirit of the Lord (ruakh yahaweh) shall rest upon him" (Isaiah 11:2, 44:3)

"The spirit of the Lord Yahweh (ruakh adonai yahaweh) is upon me"(Isaiah 61:1) which was quoted by Jesus as referring to himself in his sermon in Nazareth (Luke 4:18)

In the Gospels the creative of activity of God is by the Holy Spirit. Luke for example records::

"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, therefore the child to be born will be holy, and he will be called Son of God" (Luke 1:35). "Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry" (Luke 1:41). Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy" (Luke 1:67).

The New Testament stresses that Jesus was dependent on the Holy Spirit not only for his birth but also for the empowering of all he did in his ministry. Paul noted that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and his own resurrection were only possible by the power of the Spirit, whom he knew from the Old Testament as ruakh elohim. "If the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised the Messiah from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you" (Romans 8:11). Jesus also empowered his disciples by the Spirit, and they were able to plant churches in each city by the same power (Our Romans Commentary shows how the Epistle to the Romans is about the power of God which is the power of the Holy Spirit).

It therefore seems reasonable to conclude that the creative wind of God in Genesis 1:2 is the power of God referred to in all the above texts. As we will see in Genesis 1:27-28, God is not a solitary force but a plurality of Persons, and the New Testament assumes that the Holy Spirit is one of these three Persons. "Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19). And the Christian blessing is in that name. "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God (the Father) and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you" (2 Corinthians 13:13).

1:4  For our world to come into being there was a distinction made between the light of creation and the darkness of the remainder of the universe. "God separated the light from the darkness" This also pointed metaphorically to the distinction between those who respond to the light of God and those who prefer to remain in spiritual darkness. "God is light and in him there is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). The reason for this is given in the New Testament. For humans to be moral beings like God, they are given a choice of God’s kind of light, or an aweful preference for the darkness. As John saw clearly, "This is the judgment (Greek krisis), that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light . . . But those who do what is true come to the light that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God" (John 1:19-21).

1:5  We think of daylight followed by nightfall.   But in Genesis each of the first six days of creation has the darkness of obscurity preceding the light of day (1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31). This is still pictured in the Hebrew language where a twenty-four day begins at nightfall and comes into the light of day the next morning. It points to God’s creativity as a movement of light constantly emerging from what was previously obscure.

It also enables us to picture conversion metaphorically as turning from darkness to the light. This is why Paul defined his work as a preacher "to open their eyes so that they may urn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God" (Acts 26:18). In other verses darkness is used as a metaphor for spiritual deadness. As we will see in the next chapter concerning the forbidden fruit, "In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (Genesis 2:17). Our first parents did not die physically, but the Bible views humans are spiritually dead to God until they are made alive. As Paul explained, "You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived" (Ephesians 2:1).

1:6-10 (The Second Day) We have seen how light is the basic building block of creation, and life of any kind is impossible without it. The second ingredient necessary for life to occur is water. Unlike the other planets, our world has water in the skies to provide rain and snow. It also has underground water. Where these both fail, people die of thirst. We have counted the Second Day as ending in 1:10 (not in 1:8 as in NRSV) as the provision of water includes the seas from which much of life was going to emerge. The amazing limitation of the sea from overwhelming the land is noted by the prophet. "I placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, a continuing boundary that it cannot pass" (Jeremiah 5:22). That is why we view the invasion of a tsunamis tidal wave as so horrendous.

As in the case of light, water also serves as a metaphor for God’s provision for our spiritual thirst. As Jesus said to the woman of Samaria "Those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life" (John 4:14).  He then used water as a metaphor for the work of the Holy Spirit in the human heart. "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink.  As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive" (John 7:37-39).

1:11-13 (The Third Day) The emergence of vegetation on earth needed the creation of species that could create and propagate seeds.  "Plants yielding seed" include the grasses which are suited for cattle, sheep, and deer to eat. They also include the cereals which humans can cook and eat as bread. The expression "Trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it" include apples, pears, grapes and oranges and also the berry and nut bearing trees and bushes that humans and animals can enjoy.

As in the case of light and water, bread and fruit will also become metaphors for spiritual food and human creativity.  As Jesus said "I am the living bread that came down from heaven" (John 6:51). And "I appointed you to go and bear fruit" (John 15:16, as in Matthew 7:17). Paul pictured "love, joy, peace. patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" as the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

In the next chapter we will see how humans can eat the fruit of the "tree of life" (Genesis 2:9, Proverbs 11:30). The alternative is eating the deadly fruit of "the knowledge of good and evil" (Genesis 2:17), which may refer to the satanic idea that we can only enjoy life to the full if we engage in the pleasures of murdering, torturing, enslaving, and humiliating others.

GENESIS 1:14-19 (The Fourth Day)

1:14-15 Scientists work with a model of botanical and zoological evolutionary change. In that model placing the creation of the sun, moon, and stars after the emergence of vegetation is obviously a mistake. But we are using the quite different model of an Artist creating a painting. First the earth is put in, then the trees and plants, followed by the day and night sky. The fish and birds will follow, and then the animals and humans are needed to complete the picture.

Looked at from the point of view of what image-of-God humans (see 1:27-28) will need, a sense of time will be essential. Vegetation grows in response to sufficient water and warmth. But the fish and birds of the Fifth Day tend to migrate and procreate on an annual cycle. The mammals of the Sixth Day will order their sleep and daily activity by the nights and days given by rotation of the earth on its axis.

1:16-18 For humans to have a sense of timing and history, we need more than a daily sequence of night and day dependent on the earth’s rotation. There is also a weekly cycle of seven days based on the quarters of the moon’s 28 day rotation around the earth. Man needs one day of rest in seven to maintain health and happiness. We also have a sense of the passing years governed by the annual rotation of the earth around the sun. The prophets for example were very conscious of the timing of the toppling of Babylonian rule after 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11-12, see also Isaiah 23:15, 17). The other animals do not study and record their history.

Our faith in God’s power is helped by looking at the stars in the night sky. "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork" (Psalm 19:1). "The LORD brought Abraham outside and said, "Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them." Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And he believed the LORD; and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness" (Genesis 15:5-6).

1:19 As in the other days of creation, in each case the day follows the obscurity of evening and darkness (Genesis 1:5, 8, 19, 23, 31). The sun must have been in existence before our planet earth, so the emergence of the sun, moon, and stars on the fourth day is pictured from our human point of view. We can imagine that before the fourth day the earth was covered with clouds which made the night sky invisible. The day of their appearing was a momentous event.

Manx Shearwater gulls (that emerged with the other birds on the fifth day) navigate from an island off South America to the Isle of Man off the west coast of England by a map of the stars built into their genes. These and many other fish, bird, and animal and human activities, would only become possible after the fourth day.


GENESIS 1:20-23 (The Fifth Day)

1:20 It seems generally agreed that vertebrates emerged in the sea. Some of these cold-blooded creatures took to the land and became snakes, lizards, dinosaurs, and other reptiles. Others became warm-blooded and learned to fly as birds.

1:21 The sea monsters could have been the larger species of fish and water snakes. We might prefer to include whales under the mammals of the sixth day (1:24). But we remind ourselves that we are not working with a scientific model of evolutionary genetics, but considering the creation of the environment and species needed for the human habitat.

Moses made a simple rule about fish which were safe to eat during the Exodus wanderings. They should have fins and scales, which excluded the eels, squids, and octopus, which many Mediterranean people delight in (Leviticus 11:9-12). Jesus certainly ate and served fish after his resurrection (Luke 24:42-43, John 21:9-10).

1:22 As regards birds, Moses blacklisted eagles, vultures, ospreys, buzzards, kites, crows, owls, cormorants, sea gulls, storks, herons, and bats (Leviticus 11:13-19). And it is interesting that western people still prefer not to have these carrion and meat eating birds on the menu. Humans mostly enjoy the vegetarian birds such as ducks, geese, quail, grouse, pheasants, partridges, turkeys, and chickens. This may reflect the same wisdom that rejects mammals that eat carrion and meat (Leviticus 11:3) in favor of ruminants that eat grass and grain.

New Testament Christians followed Jesus’ words that nothing we eat can defile us (Mark 7:18-19), and Mark added the comment "Thus he declared all foods clean (kosher)". This soon made it possible for non-Jewish people with different eating habits to be church members (Acts 10:13-15, 34-35). In our day if Christians avoid certain kinds of food it is not a matter of rules from heaven, but a free choice based on what seems to suit us in our environment.

1:22 In the command to "be fruitful and multiply" the millions of noxious insects are not mentioned. Most of us could manage without wasps, mosquitoes, spiders, termites, ants, bedbugs, lice, flees, and flies. A chief exception are the bees, which sting the careless, but provide the honey we delight in. Bees and butterflies also pollinate our fruit trees. Mosquitoes provide food for birds, and other insects have important functions in the food chain.

1:23 Again, as in the other days of creation, there is evening and a morning as fish and birds emerge into the light of day. And there is no need to quarrel with the scientific dating of when this may have happened.

GENESIS 1:24-31 (The Sixth Day)

1:24-25 The sixth day pictures the emergence of the mammals. The cattle (behema) include the bigger animals such as deer, cows and sheep. Rather than "creeping things" and "everything that creeps upon the ground" we could translate "creatures that scurry on all fours" which would include mice, rats, hares, rabbits, badgers, dogs, cats, pigs, boars, etc.

After the exile when Moses decided which animals would be good for people to eat during the wilderness wanderings, he specified those that have "divided hoofs and chew the cud" (Leviticus 11:3). These include the various species of deer, cows, buffaloes, and sheep which are still the main source of meat for most people. But other grass and grain eating animals which are used as beasts of burden, such as camels, elephants, horses, donkeys, and mules, were not kosher for eating. Also viewed as unfit for human consumption are lions, tigers, other felines, and members of the dog, jackal, wolf, and bear families that eat the flesh of other animals. In our day the mad cow disease highlights the danger of eating the meat of animals that have been fed the brains, entrails, and other body parts. Similarly Moses’ rule about avoiding birds of prey (Leviticus 11:13) meant that humans could safely eat those birds that feed on grasses and grain, but carrion eating birds could be dangerous as food.

1:26 We noted that the word Elohim (Arabic Allah) is used to describe God as the Creator of our universe (1:1). The word Elohim is plural, and suggests a complexity within the perfect oneness of God. Living oneness is not just a mathematically digit. The oneness of a prune or a mango needs a stone with the juice and skin around it. But the oneness of God is a family oneness of love, and that kind of love is impossible for one person as a solitary unit (see Creative Love). That is why in this verse God uses the plural "Let us make human kind in our image, according to our likeness." The likeness is not a matter of bodily shape, but of the ability to communicate, make moral judgments, and enjoy knowing and loving God.

The complexity in the oneness of God is explained more fully in the New Testament as a plurality of Persons which we name the Trinity. We have already been introduced to the wind of God (ruakh elohim) as the Creative Spirit (Genesis 1:2) that we call the Holy Spirit. John’s Gospel explains that "no one has ever seen God (the Father). It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known" (John 1:18).

It seems that the Son was appointed to come into direct personal contact with humans, and from time to time he appeared in bodily form in the Old Testament period. In the NRSV translation he is identified by the capital letters LORD. "They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God" (Genesis 1:8). "The LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built" (Genesis 11:5). "Then the LORD appeared to Abraham" (Genesis 12:7, as in 17:1; 18:1; 26:2, 24; 32:30).

Islam has denied that God could have a Son, or that he could appear on earth. But Hagar was the mother of Ishmael and the Arab race (see Ishmael the Arab). And she "named the LORD who spoke to her, ‘You are El-roi,’ for she said, ‘Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?" (Genesis 6:13).

In the New Testament the Gospels record the birth of the Son of God into our world, his life and death among humans, and his resurrection body appearing for forty days till he went back to the life of heaven with the Father.

A typical Christian experience can be described as knowing God above us, God beside us, and God within us. As little children we run to and talk to the Father as our Parent. We walk with the Son as Friend and Master (see Reigning with the Messiah). And we are inspired, given wisdom, and empowered in many ways by the creative Spirit within us. In this model the eternal life of the three persons in the family oneness of God existed before the creation of our world.

1:27 We have suggested that the first six days of creation are based on a model in which a world is being prepared where humans can live as children of God. Genesis Man is not defined by the shape of his body, whether he walks upright, or by tool making, or artistic skills. There were all sorts of hominids that walked on two legs for at least two million years. Some of these learned to use tools for hunting, as do some of the apes. Beavers know the engineering to build watertight dams. Pairs of termites build perfect arches for their cities. Among the oldest of the insects ants have farms to raise aphids. The cave paintings of Cro-Magnon man exhibit surprising creative skills, but the artistic skills of bower birds and the engineering skills of other animals do not make them human.

According the Bible’s definition, hominids, cave men, and Neanderthals had bodies like ours but they were not created in the image of God. Among all animals parents care for their offspring, and we know that God cares for us as members of his family. What is different about our life as children of God is that we can talk to, discuss, make moral evaluations, and worship (give worthship) the Creator of the universe.

If our definitions are right it is possible that image of God man was created not long before 4000 BC. And from that time history records a sudden emergence of typically human creative life in the cities.

1:28 God’s blessing on his children includes the power to control fish, birds, and other animals. Some of these can be tamed, but that does not give us the right to torture and abuse them. In the instructions for the weekly day of rest Moses specified that we "not to do any work - you, your son or your daughter, your male and female slave, your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns" (Exodus 20:10). It is good to remember that God cares about livestock.

1:29-30 These verses have been used to support an original vegetarianism both for humans and for animals. Evidently some of the carnivorous animals and birds must have moved from eating grains and fruit to eating the flesh of other animals. Humans also began using grain eating birds, and sheep, deer, and cattle for their food (Leviticus 11:3). We cannot prove that Jesus ate animal meat but he certainly ate and served fish after his resurrection (Luke 24:42) and served it to his disciples (John 21:9-13). The Passover ritual is centered on each family killing and eating a sacrificial lamb.

1:31 Each of the previous five days ends with the Artist stepping back from his canvas and deciding that he was pleased with the work so far ( that 1: 4, 10, 12, 18, 21). But with the creation of humans in his own image we read that "God saw everything he had made, and indeed, it was very good." Evidently the original humans created in the second half of the sixth day were a pleasure to God. In Genesis 3 we will see the Bible’s account of what went wrong.

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