The First Book of Moses CalledGenesis
1:1-2:3 This description of God creating heaven and earth is understood to be: 1) recent, i.e., thousands not millions of years ago; 2) ex nihilo, i.e., out of nothing; and 3) special, i.e., in 6 consecutive 24 hour periods called "days" and further distinguished as such by this phrase, "the evening and the morning." Scripture does not support a creation date earlier than about 10,000 years ago.
In the beginning. While God exists eternally (Ps 90:2), this marked the beginning of the universe in time and space. In explaining Israel's identity and purpose to her on the plains of Moab, God wanted His people to know about the origin of the world in which they found themselves.
God. Elohim is a general term for deity and a name for the True God, though used also at times for pagan gods (31:30), angels (Ps 8:5), men (Ps 82:6), and judges (Ex 21:6). Moses made no attempt to defend the existence of God, which is assumed, or explain what He was like in person and works which is treated elsewhere (cf. Isa 43:10, 13). Both are to be believed by faith (cf. Heb 11:3, 6).
created. This word is used here of God's creative activity alone, although it occasionally is used elsewhere of matter which already existed (Isa 65:18). Context demands in no uncertain terms that this was a creation without preexisting material (as does other Scripture: cf. Isa 40:28; 45:8, 12, 18; 48:13; Jer 10:16; Ac 17:24).
the heavens and the earth. All of God's creation is incorporated into this summary statement which includes all 6, consecutive days of creation.
1:2 formless and void. This means "not finished in its shape and as yet uninhabited by creatures" (cf. Isa 45:18, 19; Jer 4:23). God would quickly (in 6 days) decorate His initial creation (1:2-2:3).
deep. Sometimes referred to as primordial waters, this is the term used to describe the earth's water-covered surface before the dry land emerged (1:9, 10). Jonah used this word to describe the watery abyss in which he found himself submerged (Jon 2:5).
Spirit of God. Not only did God the Holy Spirit participate in creation, but so did God the Son (cf. Jn 1:1-3; Col 1:16; Heb 1:2).
1:3 God said. God effortlessly spoke light into existence (cf. Pss 33:6; 148:5). This dispelled the darkness of v. 2.
light. The greater and lesser lights (the sun and moon) were created later (1:14-19) on the fourth day. Here, God was the provider of light (2Co 4:6) and will in eternity future be the source of light (cf. Rev 21:23).
1:4 good. Good for the purposes it was intended to serve (cf. 1:31).
1:4, 5 separated... called. After the initial creation, God continued to complete His universe. Once God separated certain things, He then named them. Separating and naming were acts of dominion and served as a pattern for man, who would also name a portion of God's creation over which God gave him dominion (2:19, 20).
1:5 one day. God established the pattern of creation in 7 days which constituted a complete week. "Day" can refer to: 1) the light portion of a 24 hour period (1:5, 14); 2) an extended period of time (2:4); or 3) the 24 hour period which basically refers to a full rotation of the earth on its axis, called evening and morning. This cannot mean an age, but only a day, reckoned by the Jews from sunset to sunset (vv. 8, 13, 19, 23, 31). "Day" with numerical adjectives in Hebrew always refers to a 24 hour period. Comparing the order of the week in Ex 20:8-11 with the creation week confirms this understanding of the time element. Such a cycle of light and dark means that the earth was rotating on its axis, so that there was a source of light on one side of the earth, though the sun was not yet created (v. 16).
1:6 expanse. The portion of God's creation named "heavens," that which man saw when he looked up, i.e., the atmospheric and stellar heaven.
1:7 below the expanse. Refers to subterranean reservoirs (cf. 7:11).
above the expanse. This could possibly have been a canopy of water vapor which acted to make the earth like a hothouse, provided uniform temperature, inhibited mass air movements, caused mist to fall, and filtered out ultraviolet rays, thus extending life.
1:9, 10 dry land. This was caused by a tremendous, cataclysmic upheaval of the earth's surface, and the rising and sinking of the land, which caused the waters to plunge into the low places, forming the seas, the continents and islands, the rivers and lakes (cf. Job 38:4-11; Ps 104:6-9).
1:11, 12 after their kind. God set in motion a providential process whereby the vegetable kingdom could reproduce through seeds which would maintain each one's unique characteristics. The same phrase is used to describe the perpetuating reproduction of animals within their created species (vv. 21, 24, 25), and indicates that evolution, which proposes reproduction across species lines, is a false explanation of origins.
1:11 with seed in them. The principle of reproduction that marks all life (cf. vv. 22, 24, 28).
1:14 lights. Cf. v. 16. For 3 days there had been light (v. 4) in the day as though there were a sun, and lesser light at night as though there were the moon and stars. God could have left it that way, but did not. He created the "lights, sun, moon, and stars," not for light, but to serve as markers for signs, seasons, days, and years.
signs. Certainly to include: 1) weather (Mt 16:2, 3); 2) testimony to God (Pss 8, 19; Ro 1:14-20; 3) divine judgment (Joel 2:30, 31; Mt 24:29); and 4) navigation (Mt 2:1, 2).
seasons. It is the earth's movement in relation to the sun and moon that determines the seasons and the calendar.
1:15-18 two great lights... to separate the light from the darkness. It was God (not some other deity) who created the lights. Israel had originally come from Mesopotamia, where the celestial bodies were worshiped, and more recently from Egypt, where the sun was worshiped as a primary deity. God was revealing to them that the very stars, moons, and planets which Israel's neighbors had worshiped were the products of His creation. Later, they became worshipers of the "host of heaven" (see 2Ki 17:16 [note]), which led to their being taken captive out of the Promised Land.
1:20 living creatures. These creatures, including the extraordinarily large ones, included all sorts of fish and mammals, even dinosaurs (see Job 40:15-41:1 [notes]).
1:22 blessed. This is the first occurrence of the word "bless" in Scripture. God's admonition to "be fruitful and multiply" was the substance of the blessing.
1:24, 25 cattle... beasts. This probably represents all kinds of large, four-legged animals.
1:24 beasts of the earth. Different from and larger than the clan of cattle, this would include dinosaurs like Behemoth (Job 40:15ff.).
1:26 Us... Our. The first clear indication of the triunity of God (cf. 3:22; 11:7). The very name of God, Elohim (1:1), is a plural form of El.
man. The crowning point of creation, a living human, was made in God's image to rule creation.
Our image. This defined man's unique relation to God. Man is a living being capable of embodying God's communicable attributes (cf. 9:6; Ro 8:29; Col 3:10; Jas 3:9). In his rational life, he was like God in that he could reason and had intellect, will, and emotion. In the moral sense, he was like God because he was good and sinless.
1:26-28 rule over. This defined man's unique relation to creation. Man was God's representative in ruling over the creation. The command to rule separated him from the rest of living creation and defined his relationship as above the rest of creation (cf. Ps 8:6-8).
1:27 male and female. Cf. Mt 19:4; Mk 10:6. While these two persons equally shared God's image and together exercised dominion over creation, they were by divine design physically diverse in order to accomplish God's mandate to multiply, i.e., neither one could reproduce offspring without the other.
1:28 blessed. This second blessing (cf. 1:22) involved reproduction and dominion.
Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it. God, having just created the universe, created His representative (rule over) and representation (cf. image and likeness). Man would fill the earth and oversee its operation. "Subdue" does not suggest a wild and unruly condition for the creation because God Himself pronounced it "good." Rather, it speaks of a productive ordering of the earth and its inhabitants to yield its riches and accomplish God's purposes.
1:29, 30 food for you... for food. Prior to the curse (3:14-19), both mankind and beasts were vegetarians.
1:31 very good. What had been pronounced good individually (vv. 4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25) was now called "very good" collectively. The words anticipated God's conclusion that it was "not good" for a man to be alone (2:18), which occurred on the sixth day.