THE PENTATEUCH PART I: GENESIS
THE CREATION OF HEAVENS AND EARTH
My Lord and my God,
We acknowledge, Lord, that You are the author of Creation. You created the cosmos. You fixed the earth upon its foundation and clothed the earth with mountains and oceans. You brought forth life upon the earth and then You created Your masterpiece - man. You created man in Your image and likeness - created in the image of grace and holiness and blessed with an immortal soul. You placed man in the Sanctuary of Eden as a being who was destined to live eternally in Your fellowship. Help us to be ever mindful, Father, that Jesus Christ and the Sacraments of Your Church are the bridge by which we are promised our return to You in the heavenly Eden. Send your Holy Spirit, Father, to guide us in our study. We ask this in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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Lord, you have been our refuge from age to age.
Before the mountains were born, before the earth and the world came to birth,
from eternity to eternity you are God.
...ever since the creation of the world, the invisible
existence of God and his everlasting powers have been clearly seen by the
mind's understanding of created things.
SUMMARY OF GENESIS
CREATION AND HISTORY OF THE EARLY WORLD
AGE OF THE PATRIARCHS
|FOCUS||FOUR MAJOR EVENTS||FOUR PATRIARCHS|
|TOPIC||FAMILY OF ADAM||FAMILY OF ABRAHAM|
|HISTORICAL ACCOUNT||BIOGRAPHICAL ACCOUNTS|
HARAN and CANAAN
|TIME||Pre-history to 2000BC?||281 years||81 years|
|Michal Hunt, Copyright © 1998 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.|
Year? Year ? Year? c. 2000BC?
|Creation:---------------------------------The Flood----------Tower of Babel--------the Nations|
|Adam--------------10 generations*---------Shem------------10 generations*---------Abraham|
*the ancients did not have the 0 mathematical place value and therefore, every series is counted with the first in the series as #1.
B' r'shiyt [Be re'siyth]
Genesis begins with a prologue (Gen 1:1- 2:4a) that provides an overview of Creation in a six part division, climaxing in God's pronouncement of the completion of the Creation event on "the seventh day." It is through God's divine will and His pronouncement ("God said") that the universe and our planet came into being. It is His presence, His will, and His divine purpose that continues to sustain the cosmos and the world in which we live.
Please read Genesis 1:1-
2:4a: The Prologue of the Creation of "Heaven and Earth."
As you read through the prologue, please note the word repetitions. For example, "God said" is repeated eleven times in 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, and 29.
Genesis 1:1-5: The First "Day." (The significant Hebrew words that we will be discussing are in brackets; "formless-void" is underlined to indicate the Hebrew word in brackets means "formless and empty").
1:1In the beginning God [Elohim] created heaven and earth. 2 Now the earth was a formless void [toho ra bohu], there was darkness over the deep, with a divine wind [ruah] sweeping [rahap] over the waters. 3God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. 4God saw that light was good, and God divided light from darkness. 5God called the light 'day' and the darkness he called 'night.' Evening came and morning came: the first day.
Our English title, "genesis" was adopted from St. Jerome's Latin Vulgate translation (Liber Genesis). The Latin title came from the Septuagint translation (the Greek translation of the Old Testament made about 300 years before Christ). "Genesis" is a transliteration of the Greek word geneseos, a word that translates the Hebrew word toledoth, which means "generations." The Hebrew word is a key word in identifying the structure of Genesis. Translators have usually rendered the Hebrew word toledoth as "account" or "generations" (Genesis 2:4; 5:1; 6:9: 10:1; 11:10, 27: 25:12, 19; 36:1, 9; 37:2). However the Hebrew title of the book of Genesis is plucked from the first two of the seven Hebrew words of the first sentence that begins the Genesis prologue: "In [the] beginning." The definite article "the" is not present in the Hebrew text (Hebrew-English Old Testament), nor is it present in the Greek Old Testament Genesis translation (The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English). Our English title, "genesis" comes from the Greek word meaning origin, source, birth, or beginnings. The first two Hebrew words in Genesis 1:1 are b're'shiyt [be re'siyth], pronounced "bay-ray-sheet," which means "in beginning" or "in first." The Hebrew prefix "b" [be] can be translated as "in," "for," "through," or "with;" while the Hebrew word "re'shiyt," from the Hebrew root rosh [as in Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish feast which means "head (start) of the year"], is defined as "the first in place, time, order or rank; specifically a first fruit; beginning, chief, first, principal thing" (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance; Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon).
As in English, the Hebrew word for "first" (re'shiyt) has a double meaning. It can mean the first in order, and it can also mean the first in power or rank. I could say that a certain student is the "first" in the class, meaning the first to arrive in the room; or I could say he is "first" in the sense that he is the most accomplished student in the class. Re'shiyt was also the title of the firstborn son in a Hebrew family. The "firstborn was the "first fruits" of the womb. A "firstborn" son was "first" in the sense of birth order, but he was also "first" in the sense of power and rank because as the designated heir he carried the power and authority of the father of the family. As the re'shiyt, the designated heir, he was destined to receive a double measure of the father's material and spiritual blessings (Gen 27:27-37).
Question: What is Jesus' connection to Creation "in [the]
beginning?" St. Peter professed Jesus' selection as the means for man's
salvation before the Creation event when he wrote: He was marked out [chosen]
before the world was made... (1 Pt 1:20). Can you think of other New
Testament verses that point to the pre-existence of Jesus Christ before the
beginning of Creation and other verses that identify Jesus as the "first in
power and rank," the first fruits, the "re'shiyt" of all Creation? Please
quote the significant passages and identify the connection to the opening verse
Answer: Two significant passages are Colossians 1:15-20 and the prologue of St. John's Gospel (Jn 1:1-18). These passages address the pre-existence of Christ and His pre-eminence in the Creation event. In Colossians, St. Paul presents Jesus as the active power behind creation through which all things came into existence. In St. John's Gospel, Jesus is the Word of God spoken to bring the universe into existence:
The New Testament, therefore, reveals that God authored Creation through the creative force of the eternal Word, God the Son (Jn 1:1-3), through whom all creation flowed: ...for in Him were created all things in heaven and on earth: everything visible and everything invisible, ..[...] all things were created through him and for him. He exists before all things and in him all things hold together. See CCC# 291.(2)
In the first sentence of the Prologue of the Gospel of St. John, the Greek text begins with the same words that in Hebrew begin the Prologue of Genesis 1:1: "In (the) beginning." Like the Hebrew text in Genesis, the first words of St. John's Prologue begin without the definite article "the:" in Greek, en arche, "In beginning"'the same Greek words that begin the Genesis Prologue in the Greek Septuagint Old Testament translation, also without the article "the." In the 3rd century AD, Origen of Alexandria, revered head of the Christian school of theology in Alexandria, Egypt, wrote: What is the beginning of all things except our Lord and "Savior of all," Jesus Christ "the firstborn of every creature?" In this beginning, therefore, that is, in his Word, "God made heaven and earth" as the evangelist John also says in the beginning of his Gospel (Origen: Homilies on Genesis, 1:1). Origen is using the word "firstborn" in the sense of "first in rank." He is not saying that Jesus was the first creature that was created, a heresy embraced by some who misinterpret what St. Paul wrote in Colossians 1:15.
The Gospel of St. John identifies Jesus in verse 1 as "The Word."
Jesus will identify Himself as "the Light" on the Feast of Tabernacles during the last year of His ministry: Jesus spoke to the people again, he said: I am the light of the world; anyone who follows me will not be walking in the dark but will have the light of life (Jn 8:12).
Question: As the "Light" of the world, what power does Jesus, "the
Light," overcome? What is the connection to Genesis 1:4-5? Note: in the New
Jerusalem Bible the translation reads "there was darkness over the deep" (Gen
1:2). A better translation is "there was darkness over the abyss." The abyss
is the Tehom in Hebrew and the Abyssos in Greek, the bottomless
and unfathomable deep of the underworld and perhaps the part of the universe
set in opposition to the heights of the heavens (Anchor Bible Dictionary,
vol. 1, page 49).
Answer: Jesus, the "Light of the world," overcame (was victorious over) the "darkness" of sin and despair (Jn 1:4-5, 9, 8:12) as in Genesis 1:4-5 the "Light" overcame the "darkness." Jesus is goodness and righteousness. His goodness, represented as "light," cannot be imprisoned by the darkness of the forces that stand in opposition to the goodness of God.
Creation is the foundation of God's plan of salvation. It is the beginning of salvation history that will reach its fulfillment in the saving work of Jesus Christ (see CCC# 280). Keeping in mind Jesus' role in the Creation event, please re-read Genesis 1:1-5. But before you read the passage, please note that the Hebrew word for "God" in chapter 1 of Genesis is Elohim. "El" is the Hebrew word for "god" in the singular, meaning any [false] god, or "God," the One True God. In Hebrew, the plural of el is elohim. In Hebrew this word is written in a lower case first letter when referring to false gods but when referring to the One God the word is written both in the singular "El" and in the plural "Elohim" with a capital letter as "God" is in the English translations. The Prologue verses in Genesis (1:1-31) use the plural "Elohim"'consistent with the New Covenant revelation of the Most Holy Trinity as One God in three persons.
The revelation of the Most Holy Trinity was a mystery that was not revealed to the Old Covenant Church but which was made known to the New Covenant Church by Jesus the promised Redeemer-Messiah. Jesus is identified in the New Testament as the Son of God (Mt 16:16; Mk 1:1; Lk 1:35; Jn 1:18, 34); He spoke of Himself as the Son of God who is His Father (Mt 10:32-33; Mk 14:36; Lk 10:21-22; Jn 14:6-10), and He promised He would send God the Holy Spirit as the counselor who would come to teach and guide the Church (Jn 14:26). Also please note that in Hebrew as well as in Greek, the words "wind," "spirit" and "breath" are the same word: ruah is the word in Hebrew, which is pneuma in Greek. In Genesis 1:2 it is God's holy wind/spirit/breath [ruah] that hovers [rahap] above the waters of Creation just as God's Spirit hovered over the waters of the Jordan River at Jesus' baptism (Mt 3:16-17; Mk 1:9-11; Lk 3:21-22).
The Fathers of the Church (the disciples of the Apostles and their disciples in the first 3-4 centuries of the Church) taught that although the mystery of the Trinity was hidden from us in the Old Testament, the promise of that mystery was revealed in Scripture from the very first account of Creation.
Question: Recalling St. John, St. Paul, and St. Peter's
revelation of the pre-existence of Christ and His role in Creation, can you see
the hidden promise of the Trinity in the first three verses of Genesis? Please
identify the key words in the passage (see Jn 1:1-5; Col 1:15-17; and 1 Pt
Answer: In the beginning God [Elohim] created heaven and earth. Now the earth was a formless void, there was darkness over the deep, with a divine wind [ruah] sweeping [more literally =hovering] over the waters. God [Elohim] said, 'Let there be light, and there was light.'
Question: What is the order of the Godhead as revealed in
Answer: God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and the spoken word of God in the Creation event is the "Living Word," God the Son.(3)
The Church teaches that the Creation event was the unified work of the Most Holy Trinity: The Old Testament suggests and the New Covenant reveals the creative action of the Son and the Spirit, inseparably one with that of the Father. This creative cooperation is clearly affirmed in the Church's rule of faith: "There exists but one God... he is the Father, God, the Creator, the author, the giver of order. He made all things by himself, this is, by his Word and by his Wisdom," "by the Son and the Spirit" who, so to speak, are "his hands." Creation is the common work of the Holy Trinity (CCC# 292).
Genesis 1:3 reveals that God's Spirit was sweeping over the waters. In commenting on this passage in Genesis, St. Ephraim (303-363/73) wrote: It was appropriate to reveal here that the Spirit hovered in order for us to learn that the work of creation was held in common by the Spirit with the Father and the Son. The Father spoke. The Son created. And so it was also right that the Spirit offered its work, clearly shown through its hovering, in order to demonstrate its unity with the other persons. Thus we learn that all was brought to perfection and accomplished by the Trinity (Ephraim, Commentary on Genesis I).
In the event of Jesus' baptism, the Holy Trinity is also present: in God the Son who receives St. John the Baptist's baptism of repentance in order to sanctify the waters of Christian baptism, in God the Father, whose voice is heard from heaven, and in God the Holy Spirit who opens the heavens and descends in the form of a dove (Mt 3:16-17; Mk 1:9-11; Lk 3:21-22), hovering above what will become the waters of a new creation for believers baptized into the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ Jesus (Rom 6:3-6). Connecting the action of the Holy Spirit in the Creation event to Jesus' baptism, St. Jerome wrote: In the beginning of Genesis, it is written: "And the Spirit was stirring above the waters." You see, then, what it says in the beginning of Genesis. Now for its mystical meaning - "The Spirit was stirring above the waters" - already at that time baptism was being foreshadowed. It could not be true baptism, to be sure, without the Spirit (St. Jerome, Homilies 10, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, vol. I, page 6).
The word which Jerome translated as "stirring" is rendered "sweeping" in the New Jerusalem Bible. The word which describes the action of God's Spirit above the waters, is the Hebrew verb rhp [with vowels = rahap, also spelled rachaph]. Rahap can also be translated as "hovering" or "moved" (Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon). This Hebrew word is used only three times in Old Testament:
Jewish Bible scholars, both ancient and modern, have seen a connection between the limited use of this Hebrew word in the birth of Creation as we know it and in the birth of the nation of Israel. In Deuteronomy 32:11 the verb rahap is used to express Yahweh's divine activity in leading the newly created nation of Israel, separated out from the chaos of the pagan world, through "the howling expanses of the wastelands" (Dt 32:10) on way to Canaan. Referring to Israel personified as "Jacob" (Jacob, renamed Israel was the physical father of the twelve tribes of Israel), the passage reads: ...Yahweh's portion was his people, Jacob was to be the measure of his inheritance. In the desert he finds him, in the howling expanses of the wastelands [tohu]. He protects him, rears him, guards him as the pupil of his eye. Like an eagle watching [literally "stirring"] its nest, hovering [rahap] over its young, he spreads out his wings to hold him, he supports him on his pinions (Dt 32:9-11).
The word which Jerome translated as "stirring" is rendered "sweeping" in the New Jerusalem Bible. The word which describes the action of God's Spirit above the waters, is the Hebrew verb rhp [with vowels = rahap, also spelled rachaph]. Rahap can also be translated as "hovering" or "move/moving" (Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon). The Hebrew word rahap is found only three times in Sacred Scripture:
The Hebrew words tohu wabohu (lit. = wasteland formless) are only found twice in Sacred Scripture:
Jewish Bible scholars, both ancient and modern, have seen a connection between the limited use of these Hebrew words in the birth of Creation as we know it and in the birth of the nation of Israel. In Deuteronomy 32:11 the verb rahap is used to express Yahweh's divine activity in leading the newly created nation of Israel, separated out from the chaos of the pagan world, through "the howling expanses of the wastelands" (Dt 32:10) on way to Canaan. Referring to Israel personified as "Jacob" (Jacob, renamed Israel was the physical father of the twelve tribes of Israel), the passage reads: ...Yahweh's portion was his people, Jacob was to be the measure of his inheritance. In the desert he finds him, in the howling expanses of the wastelands [tohu]. He protects him, rears him, guards him as the pupil of his eye. Like an eagle watching [literally "stirring"] its nest, hovering [rahap] over its young, he spreads out his wings to hold him, he supports him on his pinions (Dt 32:9-11).
In this passage God's "hovering" over Israel is compared to an eagle hovering over its young - spreading out protective wings to guard and support the children of Israel as God led them in the visible manifestation of Yahweh's Shekinah (in Hebrew the manifestation of God's glory) in the Glory Cloud. The use of the verb rahap in the Deuteronomy passage establishes a comparison between God's Divine Presence hovering over Israel in the wilderness, as manifested in the Glory Cloud, and the protection of God's presence hovering over Creation in Genesis 1:3. In addition, in Deuteronomy 32:10 the wilderness is identified in Hebrew by the noun tohu. This is the same word that is used in Genesis 1:2b for the state of earth over which the Spirit of God hovered in the Creation event. The noun tohu and verb rahap are found together no where else in Scripture except in the Creation event in Genesis 1:3 and in Moses' final homily summarizing the Exodus experience in Deuteronomy 32:11 (Genesis, Waltke, page 59-60). The Glory Cloud (pillar of cloud and fire), which led Israel on her Exodus journey, was a manifestation of the Spirit of God.
Question: What are the functions of the Glory Cloud that are
attributed to the Holy Spirit? See Nehemiah 9:19-20; Isaiah 63:11-14; and Haggai
Answer: Functions of Glory Cloud attributed to the Holy Spirit:
Question: What were the actions of the Holy Spirit in the
Creation event in Genesis 1:1-31, and what does the action of the God the Son
and God the Holy Spirit reveal about Creation? See CCC# 292.
Question: How does God's Spirit in the Glory Cloud protect Israel in the Exodus compared to the mission of the Holy Spirit in the Creation event?
Genesis 1:2: Now the earth was a formless void [toho ra bohu], there was darkness over the deep, with a divine wind [ruah] sweeping [rahap] over the waters.
Verse 2 of the Creation event, presents the earth as already having been formed and completely covered by water. It is possible that there were other periods of creation and de-creation on earth between verses 1 and 2. Our Creation event begins with God's spirit hovering over the waters of chaos.
Genesis 1:3-5: 3God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. 4God saw that light was good, and God divided light from darkness. 5God called the light 'day' and the darkness he called 'night.' Evening came and morning came: the first day.
Verse three begins a repeated sequence of God's announcement: "God said," followed by God's command: "Let the/ there," which results in a creation event.
Question: On the first day God created "light." How can there
be light in the cosmos before the creation of the sun, moon, and stars, which
doesn't occur until Genesis 1:14?
Answer: Galileo Galilei wrote: The Bible tells us how to go the Heaven, not how the heavens go. The Bible is not a scientific text book. What the inspired writers received was what they would be able to put into words that could be understood by their contemporaries and future generations.
The passage tells us that after the earth was created, God created light as a force or a concept in the universe. (4)St. Augustine made the distinction between the light born from God and the light made by God: The light born from God is one thing; the light that God made is another. The light born from God is the very Wisdom of God, but the light made by God is something mutable, whether corporeal or incorporeal (On the Literal Interpretation of Genesis, 5.20). God created "light," separating the light out of the darkness of the cosmos and pronounced it was "good" (Gen 1:4), as He will continue to judge each act of creation as "good."
Since the sun and the moon had not been fixed in the heavens, the day and night referred to in verse five cannot be day and night as we known them. It is interesting to note that the Hebrew text of Genesis 1:5 does not have the definite article "the" as it does in the English translation. It will not be until day six that "day" will be defined as "the sixth day."(5)
Genesis 1:5b: Evening came and morning came: the first day. It was from the repetition of this phrase indicating that the "day" progressed from the night that the Hebrew people began and ended each day at sunset, in ancient times and a practice Jews continue to observe today.
Please read Genesis 1:6-13:
The progression of the Creation event, days 2-3.
1:6God said, 'Let there be a vault through the middle of the waters to divide the waters in two.' And so it was. 7 God made the vault, and it divided the waters under the vault from the waters above the vault. 8God called the vault 'heaven.' Evening came and morning came: the second day. 9God said, 'Let the waters under the heaven come together into a single mass, and let dry land appear.' And so it was. 10God called the dry land 'earth' and the mass of waters 'seas', and God saw that it was good. 11God said, 'Let the earth produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants, and fruit trees on earth, bearing fruit with their seed inside, each corresponding to its own species.' And so it was. 12The earth produced vegetation: the various kinds of seed-bearing plants and the fruit trees with seed inside, each corresponding to its own species. God saw that it was good. 13Evening came and morning came: the third day.
Question: On the days designated (in the Hebrew text) "a second
day" and "a third day" in verses 8-10, where are the waters in relation to the
land? See Genesis 7:11-12; 8:22
Answer: The waters are in the rivers, seas, and oceans. There is also water above the earth's atmosphere, perhaps creating a "greenhouse" effect, a climate without seasons. The vault of waters above the earth will be pierced in the event of the Great Flood (Gen 7:11-12) and God will establish seasons after the Flood (Gen 8:22).
Question: What has transpired in the
creation of the earth in the first three days?
Question: What word repetitions are you noticing in the account
to this point?
Answer: Repetition of the phrases "God said," "God saw it was good," "and so it was," and every sequence ends with the repeated phrase: "evening came and morning came: a ___ day." The word of God is a creative force. He has formed the cosmos out of nothing and He has "seen" and judged the Creation "good" (thus far, three times in verses 3, 10, and 12).
Question: What then are the three repeated actions of the Most
Holy Trinity in the process of the Creation event?
Please read Genesis 1:14-23: Creation, days 4 through 5
1:14God said, 'Let there be lights in the vault of heaven to divide day from night, and let them indicate festivals, days and years. 15Let them be lights in the vault of heaven to shine on the earth.' And so it was. 16God made the two great lights: the greater light to govern the day, the smaller light to govern the night, and the stars. 17God set them in the vault of heaven to shine on the earth, 18to govern the day and night and to divide light from darkness. God saw that it was good. 19Evening came and morning came: the fourth day. 20God said, 'Let the waters be alive with a swarm of living creatures, and let birds wing their way above the earth across the vault of heaven.' And so it was. 21God created the great sea-monsters and all the creatures that glide and teem in the waters in their own species, and winged birds in their own species. 22God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, 'Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the waters of the seas; and let the birds multiply on land.' 23Evening came and morning came: the fifth day.
The same repetitions are present that were observed in the first three days of the Prologue. The days are still designated as "a day."
Question: What was created on the 4th day?
Answer: God made the sun, moon, stars and the planets.
Question: Read Genesis 1:14-19. What is the reason given for
the creation of the sun, moon, stars (and planets; the ancients thought the
planets were wandering stars)? There are four reasons given in this passage.
Answer: These heavenly objects were created to:
Question: On what day was life created to fill the sky and fill
Answer: Life was created to fill the sky and the waters on the fifth day.
Question: What is special about the stage of creation on the
Answer: God created creatures: animal life in the form of the birds and the sea creatures. He blessed them and He willed them to perpetuate life by creating more of their own kind.
These creatures possess a soul (nepesh/ nepes in Hebrew). In essence, nepesh means "passionate vitality." Animal and plant souls differ from human souls; human souls are immortal, being set apart by the "breath" (Spirit) of God (Gen 2:7). The Old Testament understanding of nepesh differs from the New Testament concept of "soul" as expressed in the Greek word psyche (Genesis, Waltke, pages 70-71).
Please read Genesis 1:24-31 The Creation of the Beasts and Man on the Sixth day
1:24God said, 'Let the earth produce every kind of living creature' in its own species: cattle, creeping things and wild animals of all kinds.' And so it was. 25God made wild animals in their own species, and cattle in theirs, and every creature that crawls along the earth in its own species. God saw that it was good. 26God said, 'Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves, and let them be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of the heaven, the cattle, all the wild animals and all the creatures that creep along the ground.' 27God created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. 28God blessed them, saying to them, 'Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven and all the living creatures that move on earth. 29God also said, 'Look, to you I give all the seed-bearing plants everywhere on the surface of the earth, and all the trees with seed-bearing fruit; this will be your food. 30And to all the wild animals, all the birds of heaven and all the living creatures that creep along the ground, I give all the foliage of the plants as their food.' And so it was. 31God saw all he had made, and indeed it was very good. Evening came and morning came: the sixth day.
The affirmation of the goodness of God's Creation is repeated consistently throughout the prologue of Genesis as God the Holy Spirit "hovers" over Creation. As He "hovers," He "sees," and in seeing God judges each stage of Creation as "good."
Question: How many times is the phrase repeated that God "saw it
was good" between Genesis 1:3 and 31?
Answer: That Creation is "good" is pronounced seven times in Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31, and in verse 31, where the pronouncement is that Creation is "very good." Seven is the number which symbolizes perfection, especially spiritual perfection; it is the number of the Holy Spirit.
In Genesis 1:26 God said: Let US make man in OUR OWN image and likeness. Notice the use of the first person plural. You may remember that the Hebrew word for God in Genesis chapter one is the plural form, Elohim. The first person plural is also used in Genesis 3:22: Then Yahweh God said, 'Now that the man has become like one of us in knowing good from evil... While some Christian Bible scholars have seen this passage as another hidden revelation of the Trinity in the Old Testament, other scholars have suggested that God is referring to the angels of the heavenly court. However, never has it been suggested in either Jewish or Christian tradition that angels cooperated in the creation of the world nor does Scripture ever identify these spirit beings as being created "in the image and likeness" of God: Let us make man in our own image and likeness. In addition, Nehemiah 9:6: You, Yahweh, are the one, only Yahweh, you have created the heavens, the heaven of heavens and all their array, the earth and all it bears, the seas and all they hold.
Question: What is unique about the creation of man? What is
man's rank in the created order of the world? How is man different from the
other creatures of Creation? Hint: Genesis 1:26-28.
Answer: Man was created to be "master" over the creatures in creation (Gen 1:26), making man God's representative or steward in God's earthly kingdom, and man is separated from the other living creatures in that he was created in the "image and likeness" of God (Gen 1:26-27). Man was created in the image of the divine triune God - the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Man was created as a sinless being, possessing the gift of an immortal soul. Man was created in a perfect state of grace, clothed in the image of the Divine Triune God. See CCC# 307, 355-57.
Question: How many times is the word "created" repeated in
Genesis 1:27? Why is this significant?
Answer: In Genesis 1:27, the Hebrew word bara, the verb "to create," is repeated 3 times: God created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. Repetitions of words are significant. The Creation account of Genesis is full of sevens, the number of perfection, but no other book in the Bible has as many repetitions of threes (as a number or in repetitions) as the book of Genesis. Three is the number of importance, significance, and the fullness of God's divine plan in Jewish tradition; for Christians it is also the number of the Trinity. In Scripture the number three, or the repetition of threes, is a signal that what is happing is of theological importance in salvation history.
The verb "to create," bara, is repeated a total of 7 times in chapter 1 of the Genesis Prologue (1:1, 21, 27 (3 times), 2:3, 4a), and whenever it is used in Scripture the word always has God as its subject (CCC# 290). The seven-time repetition of the Hebrew word "to create" is symbolically fitting since in Jewish tradition 7 is the number of fullness and perfection. God's acts of creating are perfect. In this act of creation, our first parents are infused with God's "perfection" - the gift of grace, the Trinity's divine life. The infusion of the grace of divine life into the first man creates a covenant, a family bond between man and God in which God "fathers" the first human being. God is not only Creator, as He is of the animals, but He is God the eternal Father, having communicated His life to man through His ruah, the breath of His spirit (Gen 2:7). The covenant with Adam is the first in a series of divine covenant bonds God will establish in the progression of salvation history.(6) The Hebrew word bara will be used two more times before the end of the Prologue. In the symbolic importance of numbers, seven is not only the number of perfection; it is also the number of the Holy Spirit.
Question: What does it mean in Genesis 1:27 that man is created
in the "image and likeness" of God? Hint: what are the attributes of God?
Also see Genesis 2:4-7 and 5:1-3.
Answer: In imperfect human fathering, offspring receive life and human characteristics like eye and hair color, etc. But God is spirit and so God gave His human children His spiritual attributes in His perfect, divine "fathering." Man was created infused with the very life of God - divine grace. In Genesis chapter 2 God breathed His breath into man. The first man was created in the image of righteousness, in the likeness of holiness, and received the gift of grace--a gift of divine son-ship. He was created to be an immortal, sinless being. This unique condition separated man from the beasts that were created on the same sixth day in the Creation account. Man has an immortal soul created by God. From the time of Adam's creation forward in time, the spiritual soul of every human being will be created by God to be immortal; the soul will not perish but will only separate from the body at death [see CCC#s 355-366]. Infused with grace, Adam and Eve are uniquely united to God not just as "Creator" but as "Father". The first Adam was created to be an immortal, sinless, son and the first Eve to be an immortal and sinless daughter.
Question: What does God determine as food for man and food for
the beasts? See Genesis 1:29-30.
Answer: Man's food is to be all the seed-bearing fruit and plants while all the animals of the land, sea and air are to eat all the foliage of the plants for their food. There is no killing of animals for food, nor is the eating of animal flesh an option. The eating of cooked animal meat will not be permitted until after the Flood in Genesis 9:1-4.
Question: What is God's first blessing for mankind? See Genesis
Answer: The blessings of human fertility and dominion over a fertile earth and all its creatures.
For the first time in the Prologue of Creation, day six is designated "the sixth day."
Please read Genesis 2:1-4a: The Climax of Creation on the Seventh day
2:2Thus heaven and earth were completed with all their array. 3On the seventh day God had completed the work he had been doing. He rested on the seventh day after all the work he had been doing. 4God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day he rested after all his work of creating. Such was the story of heaven and earth as they were created.
Question: What is the climax of the
Creation event and the last thing God created?
Answer: God created a "day of rest."
Question: The Hebrew word sabbat, or "Sabbath," means
"seventh day." The seventh day of the week is Saturday. In Hebrew it is the
only day of the week that has a name; the others are day 1, 2, etc. If
Saturday was the last day of the Creation event, what was the day on which
creation began? How many times are the words: "the seventh day" repeated in
Answer: "The seventh day" is repeated three times. In the division of Creation to correspond with what we understand as a week in time, with Saturday being the last day in a seven-part division, then the Creation event began on what we acknowledge as Sunday.
The "New Creation" in Christ Jesus will inaugurate a new "day of rest" on the Lord's Day, which was also the first day of the old Creation.
Question: How will God's work in the Creation event determine
man's obligations as God's master over the earth?
Answer: Man will work six days, as God worked during the six "days" of Creation, and man will rest on the seventh day, as God rested on the seventh day of Creation.
Question: Why did God bless the seventh day? What is the
connection between the Old Covenant Sabbath and the New Covenant Lord's Day?
See CCC# 344-349.
Answer: God sanctified the day of rest as a holy day of communion between God and man and as a promise of the eternal blessings that were to come through the saving work of Jesus Christ and the new "day of rest" on "the eighth day" (the day after the seventh), which would not be temporal but eternal: The eighth day. But for us a new day has dawned: the day of Christ's Resurrection. The seventh day completes the first creation. The eighth day begins the new creation. Thus, the work of creation culminates in the greater work of redemption. The first creation finds its meaning and its summit in the new creation in Christ, the splendor of which surpasses that of the first creation (CCC# 349).
Question: What did Jesus say about the "seventh day" Sabbath in Mark 2:27?
Answer: In rebuking the Pharisees Jesus said: The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath; so the Son of man is master even of the Sabbath.
The Sabbath was a day created for man to cease his work and to enter into God's "rest," - into fellowship and communion with God. It is man's creation in the image and likeness of God and his invitation to communion with God that separates him from the other creatures of creation. In the formation of the Sinai Covenant, God will make the observance of the Sabbath a condition of covenant obedience in the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:8-10; Dt 5:12-15). In commanding the Sabbath observance, God will recall the Creation event: For in six days Yahweh made the heavens, earth and sea and all that these contain, but on the seventh day he rested; that is why Yahweh has blessed the Sabbath day and made it sacred (Ex 20:11). God's rest on the seventh day of Creation becomes a metaphor for the mystery promised mankind through the saving work of Jesus Christ and the promise of eternal rest in the life of the Most Holy Trinity.
How Are We to Interpret the Creation Account?
According to a literalist reading of the Creation account, all of Creation was formed in a six-day period from evening to morning. The Catholic Church does not require belief in a literal 6-day creation, nor does the Church oppose the belief in a literal interpretation of Genesis chapters 1 and 2.
There are several different theories of Creation that Christian scholars embrace:
There are some fascinating aspects to the Framework Hypothesis which we might explore. We usually view Creation in Genesis as a progression of six days, but there is another way to view Creation and that is as two sets of 3 days.
Question: What was created in the first three day period?
These three days of Creation can be summarized as: Day #1 = Time; Day #2 = Space; Day #3 = Life: all of which are judged to be "good."
In this view of Creation, for the first 3 days God creates time, space, and life. In the next set of 3 days, God fills the first 3 days with that which will rule or govern:
|CREATES REALMS||FILLS WITH RULERS|
TIME [light from darkness]
SUN, MOON, STARS, PLANETS
SPACE [heaven and the seas]
LAND/ LIFE [dry land and vegetation]
BEASTS AND MAN
[This view of Creation is known as the "framework hypothesis." It was developed by Biblical scholar Meredith Kline].
Another way to look at the Creation event is in the formation of a two-part division of three empty resources which become useful reservoirs of activity/life.
|Unfilled Resource/ Empty space||Filled Useful Reservoir|
1. Cosmos of light and
1. Lights of sun, moon,
|2. Sky/ water (Gen 1:6-8)||2. Birds, fish (Gen 1:20-23)|
|3. Dry land/ vegetation (Gen 1:9-13)||3. Land creatures and man (Gen 1:24-31)|
Adapted from a chart by Bruce Waltke, Genesis, page 57
Whether one believes in a literal 6-day creation period is really not the issue. The issue is: Do you believe that God is the author of Creation? One may believe in a literal 6-day creation or that God used evolution in some way (other than Darwinism which denies God's intimate involvement in the Creation event). In 1907 Pope Pius X addressed the issues concerning what Catholics must believe about the Creation in the encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis. This document was followed in 1950 by Pope Pius XII's encyclical entitled Humani Generis. These two documents help to define what Catholics must believe about the history of creation to be in accord with the teachings of the Church.
For those Catholic Christians who struggle with the question of evolution, the Magisterium of the Catholic Church has presented in various documents these guidelines for what Catholic Christians must believe about Creation:
Question: Putting the arguments for and against evolution aside,
what is the reason Scripture and Tradition gives for the creation of the
Answer: Scripture and Tradition have always taught the fundamental truth that the world was made for the glory of God, to show forth His goodness, and to communicate His love.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church records: Scripture and Tradition never cease to teach and celebrate this fundamental truth: "The world was made for the glory of God." St. Bonaventure explains that God created all things "not to increase his glory, but to show it forth and to communicate it," for God has no other reason for creating than his love and goodness: "Creatures came into existence when the key of love opened his hand." In this citation the Catechism quotes from the Vatican I document Dei Filius: This one, true God, of his own goodness and "almighty power," not for increasing his own beatitude, nor for attaining his perfection, but in order to manifest this perfection through the benefits which he bestows on creatures, with absolute freedom of counsel "and from the beginning of time, made out of nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal..." (CCC# 293, and Dei Filius, 1:DS 3002)
The Book of Wisdom records that God created our world to be filled with goodness: the creatures of the world have health in them, in them is no fatal poison, and Hades has no power over the world: for uprightness is immortal (Wis 1:14). Everything within Creation is subject to God's divine will and in the Creation event it was God's will that Creation was to operate for the sake of goodness for the life that inhabited it: The glory of God consists in the realization of this manifestation and communication of his goodness, for which the world was created (CCC# 294). God created all things not to increase His glory but to show His goodness and to communicate His love. He simply has no other reason for creating than His love and goodness. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote: Creatures came into existence when the key of love opened His hand.
Question: How many repetitions of words or phrases did you find
in the Genesis Prologue?
|Repetitions in the Genesis Prologue 1:1-2:4a (3 or more times)|
|Word/ phrase||Number of repetitions and verses|
|1. "God said"||Eleven times: 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 29|
|2. "___ was good"||Seven times: 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31 = (very good)|
|3. "Evening and morning came"||Six times: 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31|
|4. "to divide" ("separate)||Five times: 1:4, 6, 7, 14, 18|
|5. "created"||Seven times: 1:1, 21, 27 (3 times), 2:3, 4a|
i.e. "Let the/ Let us..."
|2 x 7 times (14): 1:3, 6 (twice), 9 (twice), 11, 14 (twice), 15, 20, 22, 24, 26 (twice).|
|7. "the seventh day"||Three times: 2:2 (twice), 3|
|8. God's "work" of creation||Three times: 2:2 (twice), 3|
As we continue in our study, it is important to remember that creation, destruction, regeneration, and restoration through covenant are the main themes of the Bible. The Bible begins in Creation and Covenant and ends in a re-Creation and a New Covenant. A covenant is more than a promise and it is more than a contract. Contracts are concerned with material goods like property, but covenants are concerned with intangibles like truth, loyalty, justice, and fidelity. Most important from a Biblical perspective, covenants create family bonds. We will be looking at the seven Old Testament Biblical Covenants - covenants between God and individuals within the line of the "promised seed," a covenant between God and Israel as a holy nation, and with individuals who are also bound to the Sinai Covenant. The seven covenants of the Old Testament will be fulfilled in the final Covenant, the 8th Covenant, which is the New Covenant in the blood of the Messiah [see the Chart of Yahweh Eight Covenants].
Question for group discussion:
Question: The first Biblical covenant is the covenant God formed
with Adam in Eden (Hosea 6:7). Biblical covenants contain both blessings for
obedience to the covenant bond (Gen 1:28-30) and obligations (Gen 2:15-17).
How would you sum up the first blessings of the Covenant with Adam and Eve
in Genesis 1:28-30, and what obligations were involved in living out the
Answer: The first man and woman were given the blessings of fertility and dominion over the earth. The blessing of human fertility required a committed relationship between a man and a woman. Dominion over the earth required reaping the blessing of the earth's fertility and called for man's careful stewardship over God's gift of the natural world.
Question: In this age of man, does mankind have any obligation
to these first covenantal blessings? Does "dominion" mean "ownership" or
"stewardship"? To whom does the earth belong?
St. Paul also attributed the creation of world to God the Son in Hebrews 1:2-3 and 11:3. In Hebrews 11:3 St. Paul wrote: it is by faith that we understand that the universe(s) was fashioned by the word of God... The parenthesis (s) after the word "universe" in the Scripture quotation indicates that in the Greek text the word "universe" is plural (aiones), which might suggest multiple worlds and multiple galaxies. However, in Hebrews 3:11b the universe is presented equivalent to the singular "that which is seen," so the plural probably represents the vastness of the entire universe. The belief that the "word (singular) of God" brought the universe into being is a belief basic to Judaism and Christianity (Gen 1:3; 6, 9, Ps 33:6, 9; Heb 11:3). John 1:1 and Hebrews 1:2 identify God's "word" with the Son, who is God's active force in the Creation event: the Living Word.
Question: Please read the passages in Hebrews 1:2-3 and 11:3 and discuss how an understanding of God the Son's role, and the role of the Most Holy Trinity, in Creation has changed your understanding of the Creation event.
Question: In what personal re-creation event in your life has
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit taken an active role? See
John 1:3, 5; Matthew 3:11; 28:19-20; Romans 6:3.
Answer: In the Sacrament of Baptism.
Question: How are Christians re-born and restored to the image
of God through Christian baptism? See Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27; Colossians
2:12; 2 Peter 1:3-4; CCC#s 168; 265; 683; 1213; 1227; 1250; 1265-66; 1277; 1692.
Answer: In the spiritual transformation and re-birth of Christian baptism, we are no longer children in the fallen family of Adam but become re-born through water and the Spirit as children in the family of God (Jn 3:3, 5). Not only are we made in God's image, but through the regenerative power of Christian baptism we are restored to His likeness, becoming sinless and righteous sons and daughters of a Divine Father who, in the fullness of life in Christ, communicates His own divine life to us (1 Pt 1:3-4).
Question: Is the Sacrament of Baptism necessary for our
salvation or is it only an initiation rite into fellowship with the Church? See
Answer: The Sacrament of Baptism is necessary for our sanctification and for our ultimate salvation. After St. Peter's great homily in Jerusalem on the Feast of Pentecost, the Jewish crowd asked him what they must do in order to be saved: 'You must repent,' Peter answered, 'and every one of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). Through the holy Sacrament of Baptism, in re-birth through water and the Spirit of God, we return to the condition of righteousness and communion with God which Adam and Eve enjoyed before their fall from grace. This condition of grace is God's desire for the destiny of all humanity (2 Pet 3:9; CCC# 1037; 2822), but the free-will choice to accept or reject God's divine gift of salvation is ours to make: Baptism is birth into the new life in Christ. In accordance with the Lord's will, it is necessary for salvation, as the Church herself, which we enter by Baptism (CCC# 1277). We must maintain this condition of grace through the repentance of sins and through the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (CCC# 1426, 1440, 1446, 1485-1496).
1. In recording Jesus' birth, St. Luke wrote: Now it happened that, while they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, her first-born (Lk 2:6-7). Some have interpreted this passage to suggest if Jesus was Mary's "first-born" that she had other children. On the contrary, as the first to open Mary's womb and as the first-born, only begotten Son of God, Jesus' title, according to the traditions of His people, was the "first-born son," the re'shiyt. The Church has always taught, from the time of the disciples of the Apostles, the first Bishops of the Church, that Mary's virginity remained in tact and Jesus was her only child (see CCC#s 499-501). Mary's continued virginity is a dogma of the Church. See the Marian Dogmas in the Charts/ Church doctrine section; a dogma defines a truth what one must believe to be Catholic.
2. Perhaps you recognized some of the references from Colossians 1:15-17 and the Hebrew word "be" in the Final Doxology of the Eucharistic Prayer of the Roman Catholic Mass (in Latin, the Per Ipsum) when the priest elevates the Host and prays: Through Him, with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is Yours, Almighty Father, for ever and ever. Amen.
3. The order of the Godhead hidden in Genesis verses 1-3 may seem odd to you. We usually speak of the Trinity in the order of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (see Matthew 28:19-20). But the order of Father, Holy Spirit, and Son is the same order St. John used in Revelation 1:4-5. St. John also spoke of the Holy Spirit in association with the number 7 (in Genesis the first line is composed of seven Hebrew words and there are seven days in the Creation cycle; see Rev 1:4). 7 is one of the four "perfect numbers" in Sacred Scripture (the others are 3, 10, and 12). The number 7 indicates fullness, completion, perfection, and it is the number of the Holy Spirit. For more information on the symbolic meaning of numbers in Scripture, please see the document "The Significance of Numbers in Scripture" in the Documents section.
4. "Big Bang Theory" is the most widely accepted theory for the formation of the universe by modern cosmologists. It was first introduced by a Belgian physicist and Roman Catholic priest, Father Georges Lamaitre. In 1927-31, Fr. Lamaitre formulated the theory that the entire universe had suddenly expanded from a primordial hot and dense initial condition at some finite time in the past, calling his theory the "hypothesis of the primeval atom." Fr. Lamaitre's theory was coined "the Big Bang" after a radio program discussing the theory in 1949. A huge explosion in the cosmos would produce what is described in Genesis 1:3-4: sudden light cutting through the darkness of space. The problem with applying this theory to the Creation event is that in Genesis the earth has already been formed previous to the creation of light. It is possible that God first created "light" in cosmic explosion that shattered the darkness of space, but it is also possible that "the light" is a spiritual concept representing goodness and holiness as opposed to dark forces that are in opposition to God.
5. Hebrew-English Old Testament, John R. Kohlenerger III, Zondervan, 1987, page 1; The Jewish Study Bible, Oxford University Press, 1999, page 12. Both sources reference the oldest know O. T. Hebrew Masoretic text: Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia [from Leningrad Codex B19a].
6. Hosea 6:7 can be translated "They have broken the covenant like Adam..." The word "adam" can mean the first man "Adam", or "man", or even "ground" or "earth." The Jewish Tanach (Old Testament) translates Hosea 6:6-7: For I desire kindness, not sacrifice; and knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings. But they, like Adam, transgressed the covenant; there they betrayed Me.
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2009 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.
Catechism references for Genesis 1:1-2:4 [* indicates the Scripture passage is either quoted or paraphrased in the citation]
337, 268*, 279-280, 290
292*, 243*, 703*, 1218*
36*, 225*, 299*, 343*, 2501, 2809
355, 383, 1604*, 2331
372, 373, 1604, 1607*, 1652, 2331, 2427*
Additional resources, not included in the bibliography, used in the lesson: