In a previous post I discussed the setting for the biblical creation and issues in the English text, issues that lead to severe misinterpretations of the original Hebrew text. In the current post, I will continue where the previous left off and engage in a discussion of the seven (really six) days of creation.
In the previous, I discussed creation as a process, and this process begins with the creation of light when God said “Let there be light.” And of course, there was light. Over the course of the next five days God creates: a dome he called sky to separate the waters (which already existed prior to the process beginning); dry land and vegetation; lights in the sky (i.e. the sun, moon, and stars); birds and aquatic life; and finally, land animals and human beings. Of the the things God creates, he calls them “good.” On the seventh day God rests.
A reader of this story might be confused and ask why did God create the sun, the moon, and the stars (sources of light) on day four if he already created light on the first day? Good question, yet again goes back to our ontological materialism I discussed previously. The light of day one is not visible light per se. Yes, the Hebrew term or is understood as light, but there are nuanced meanings to this particular word for light (of which there are several in Hebrew). And again, the term here used is a verb, not a noun. Where the sun and the moon and the stars give light (“give” being the verb, “light” being the noun), the term used for “light” on day one, the Hebrew or, means “break give, show light, set on fire, shine…break of day, glorious, kindle” and was employed, both literally and metaphorically, to mean “making luminous” (biblehub.com).
God is making luminosity, as it were, again, emphasizing the verb. This “light” that God makes is not the same light of the sun, moon, and stars. So what is being “made” light?
The darkness that was over the abyss that existed previous to the first day. God is in the most preliminary stage of creation: God is creating the space by which the process of creation with continue. God is lighting it up, as it were, getting it ready. God is not creating visible light.
In continuing to read the story, one reads what God creates and in reading what God creates, one after the other after the other, in a linear fashion, one may miss an underlying pattern, and underlying pattern that, in making a statement about God and creation, further underscores the point that the light in day one is not “physical” light. The below chart demonstrates the pattern:
As much as God is involved in the process of creation from day one to day three, God is simultaneously setting the stage for days four through six. As is shown, there is a correspondence between days one and four, two and five, three and six. What God creates on days one, two, and three, is the “space” God fills in days four through six:
On day two God creates a dome to separate the waters; this dome is called “sky.” Then, on day five, God fills the waters and the sky with aquatic life and birds.
On day three God creates dry land and vegetation. Then, on day six, fills it in with land animals and humans.
There is a pattern here, a pattern that, when we don’t confuse the light on day one with visible light, is maintained. Day one is the creation of the great space (and by space I don’t mean the literal cosmos); in other words, God is making room for creation. The cosmos as we might understand it as being comprised of stars and such, in this case the sun, moon, and stars, thus fills in what God created on day one.
So yes, there is a nice and tidy little pattern here and again, as discussed in the previous post, in creating, God is giving form to the formless, shape to the shapeless. But there is more: that there is a pattern suggests there is an ordering and in giving shape to the shapeless God brings order to the disordered.
This is a creation that is ordered.
Last but not least, let us not forget about the situation at the onset of Genesis and day seven. As verse 2 states, a mighty wind swept over the waters. The Hebrew term for wind, ruah, also meant “spirit” or “breath”. This wind is spirit, this wind is breath. This wind sweeping over the waters sets the waters moving. This movement initiates the process. Prior to the wind, these waters were unmoving and what does God do on the seventh day?
Gods rests. In other words, God does not move, much as there was no movement prior to day one. Thus pre-day 1 and dav seven make nice little “bookends” to the process of giving shape to an ordered creation.