Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures

GENESIS (ΓΕΝΕΣΙΣ, בְּרֵאשִׁית);





GENESIS is the record of the creation of the material world, of the founding of the spiritual world, or kingdom of God, and of general and special revelation; as such it stands at the head of all Scripture as the authentic basis of the whole Bible. It is consequently, in the first place, the basis for all the books of the Old and the New Testament in general, a root whose trunk extends through all Scripture, and whose crown appears in the Apocalypse, the new Genesis, or the prophetic record of the completed new, spiritual world and city of God.

In the special sense, then, it is the basis of the whole Old Testament; in the most special sense it is the basis of the Pentateuch. The Introduction to the Sacred Scriptures in general, we have already given in the “Commentary on Matthew.” The Introduction to the Old Testament precedes the present exposition. We have yet to treat of the Introduction to the Pentateuch, or the Five Books of Moses.

OBSERVATION.—Compare the beginning and the end of the Introduction of the “Commentary” of DELITZSCH. The author has said many valuable things of the deep significance of Genesis. For example: “Genesis and Apocalypse, the Alpha and Omega of the canonical writings, correspond to each other. To the creation of the present heaven and the present earth corresponds the creation of the new heaven and the new earth on the last pages of the Apocalypse. To the first creation, which has as its object the first man Adam, corresponds the new creation which has its outgoing from the second Adam. Thus the Holy Scriptures form a rounded, completed whole; a proof that not merely this or that book, but also the Canon, is a work of the Holy Spirit.”

But Delitzsch confounds here and elsewhere (as also Kurtz) the significance of the biblical book of Genesis, with the significance of the living Divine Revelation that throughout precedes the biblical books themselves and their historical covenant institutions. It might be going too far to say: “The edifice of our salvation reaching into eternity, rests accordingly on the pillars of this book.” This edifice rests, indeed, on the living, personal Christ, although the faith in Him is effected and ruled by the Holy Writ. In a similar manner it must appear one-sided, when the Pentateuch, as a book, is made the basis of the Old Covenant, or even of the New; although it is, on the other hand, quite as wrong if we do not count the records of divine revelation within the sphere of revelation.

LITERARY SUPPLEMENTS TO THE BIBLE IN GENERAL.—See Literary Catalogue in HERTWIG’S Tabellen; KURTZ: “History of the Old Covenant,” Introduction; KIRCHHOFER: Bibelkunde, pp. 1, 2, 19 ff.; WINER, 1. p. 75. Works on this subject by Griesinger, Cellerier, Kleuker.—KÖPPEN: “The Bible, a Book of Divine Wisdom.” Prideaux, Stockhouse, Lilienthal, etc. BRÄM: “Surveys of Universal History,” Strasburg, 1835; BERTSCH: “History of the Old Covenant and its People,” Stuttgart, 1857.



The Hebrew Thorah (i. e., doctrine, especially doctrine of the law,—law), or the record of the covenant religion of the Old Testament (ἡ παλαιὰ διαθήκη), 2 Cor. 3:14; διαθήκη=בְּרִית), has its real principle not so much in the Mosaic law as in the Abrahamic covenant of faith as effected by the first preparation of the kingdom of God in the creation of the world and of man (see Rom. 4:1, ff.; Gal. 3:17).

Genesis is, therefore, not the introduction to the five books of Moses, especially to the law-giving portion, as Kurz supposes (“Compendium of sacred history,” p. 94; it is true, with the restriction: “For the Israelitish standpoint the first book has only the import of an historical introduction”), for this would correspond to a specific and Judaistic view of the Old Testament; but it is the universal foundation for it; i. e., for the temporary economic particularity of the patriarchal state and of the law-giving. Genesis is the special root of the Thorah, and the general root of the Holy Writ.

Hence the Pentateuch, including this basis, is developed in five books; (Hebraice: חֵמִשָּׁה חֵוּמְשִׁי הַתּוֹרָה, the five fifths of the law in rabbinical notation. Grece: ἡ πεντατευχὸς sc. βίβλος. Latin: liber Pentateuchus). The number five is the half number ten. Ten is the number of the perfect moral or historical development; five is the number of the hand, of action, of freedom, and so then also of their legal standard.

The founding of the law in Genesis unfolds itself in the triple form of legislation. Exodus (liber Exodi; ἡ ἔξοδος; Hebrew: שֵׁמוֹת) presents the prophetic side of the law throughout. Even the Tabernacle, whose construction is described from Gen 35–40, belongs not mainly on the side of the priestly service, but on that of the prophetic legislation of God, as the place of the living presence of the lawgiver, and of the law itself (in the ark of the Covenant; hence: Ohel moed, Ohel haeduth, tent of meeting, tent of testimony).

Leviticus (Heb.: וַרִּקִרָא Gr.: λενιτικόν) embraces the priestly side of the law, the holy order of service for the Israelitish people, according to its symbolical and universal significance in its most comprehensive sense.

The book of Numbers (Heb.: בַּמִּדְבָּר, Gr.: ἀριθμοί) is ruled throughout by the idea of the princely or royal encampment of the people of Israel as an army of divine warriors, in which are presented its preconditionings and its typically significant characteristics, revealing, as they do, by manifold disorder, that this people is not the actual people of God, but only the type of that people.

These three fundamental forms of the symbolical Messianic law, namely the prophetic, the priestly, and the royal, are embraced in Deuteronomy (Heb.: דְבָרִים, Gr.: δευτερονομίον), or in the solemn free reproduction of the whole law again as a unity, in order to point from the sphere of the legal letter into the sphere of the inner prophetic force of the law (compare Deut. 4:25; Gen 5:15, 21—the ordering of house and wife; Gen 6:5; 10:18–19; 11:1; 14:1; 18:15; Gen 28 ff. 30:6; 30:2–14; Gen 33:2–3).

As in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, the historical period of Israel is opened, so Deuteronomy points forward to the prophetic period.

From the foregoing it appears that we can divide the Pentateuch into three main divisions; namely, into Genesis as the universal foundation of the law, next into the particular law that shows, with its Messianic, significant, triple division, the symbolical background of its whole appearance (i. e., into the divisions Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers), and finally into Deuteronomy, in which, along with the intrinsic character, the universal import of the law again prophetically appears.

OBSERVATION 1. For the more general category, Historical books of the Old Testament, see the division in the general Introduction. In respect to the literature, see Literary Catalogue.

OBSERVATION 2. The present division into five books is considered by some (Berthold) as original and peculiar to the Hebrew collection of the Canon. According to others (Hävernick, Lengerke) it proceeds from the Alexandrians. In favor of the first view is the fact that Josephus, who retained the Hebrew canon, was acquainted with this division (contra Apion. i. 8, also Philo). De Wette seems also to incline to this opinion. Michaelis considered this division older than the Septuagint, but not original. According to Vaihinger (see the article Pentateuch in HERZOG’S Real-Lexicon), the division of the Pentateuch into five books was made before the captivity. But the same learned authority supposes it not to have been made until after the division of the Proverbs of Solomon into four parts, because the conscious influence of symbolical numbers had not favored the number five until after that period, as with the division of the Psalms into five books, and the presentation of the five Megilloth.

We do not consider this argument conclusive against the earlier division of Moses into five books. The Jew could distinguish a significant number four, and a significant number five, even according to this numerical symbolism. In the Pentateuch the number five seems to have been indicated from the beginning by the variety of the originals. That Genesis is actually in contrast with the following books, and that Deuteronomy is quite as specific, is evident. The fundamental ideas of the three middle books, do not contrast less specifically with each other, as appears from our division.

It serves even to a better appreciation of the import of the Tabernacle, when we consider that it is an annex of the Decalogue, and of the whole fundamental lawgiving connected there with, and that, in accordance with this, it is represented in the second book as the place wherein Jehovah, as lawgiver, is present to his people. The contents of the fourth, again, are in strong contrast with Leviticus (as the book of the tribes). The ethical prophetical book of Exodus is especially the book of God and his prophet. Leviticus, or the book of the divine office, refers especially to the priests. Numbers, or the book of the tribes, more especially concerns the people in a theocratic, political sense.

OBSERVATION 3. If we mark the number ten as the number of perfection, or completion, and consequently the number five as the number of half completion (Vaihinger), such classification seems much too general and indefinite, since the numbers three, seven, and twelve, are also numbers of perfection, or completion, each in its kind. It will be our duty to treat of symbolical numbers in Exodus. Here we will simply anticipate that clearly “the ten words”1 indicate moral completion, or perfect development, and so also the ten virgins in the gospel parable. When, however, there appear five as foolish and five as prudent or wise, the number five may indeed mark the number of the freely chosen religious and moral development of life. Five books of Psalms indicate the moral and religious life-prime of the Old Testament, just as the five Megilloth indicate five periods of the development of Israelitish life. The five fingers of the hand are the symbol of moral action, as the five senses symbolize the number of the moral reciprocity of man with nature.—Vaihinger rightly concludes from the significancy of the number five, that the Decalogue should not be divided into three and seven, but into five and five.

OBSERVATION 4. Our theological naming of the five books (Genesis, &c.) is the Alexandrian naming of the Septuagint, followed by the vulgate (only that the gender of Pentateuch and Exodus in Greek is feminine on account of βιβλος and ὁδός, in Latin masculine on account of liber).

The five books, which were comprised by the Jews under the above names: the five fifths, of the law, were individually designated by them, according to the initial words: Breschith, &c, as this naming has passed into the Masoretic Bibles. But the Jews had also a designation for the five books, according to the contents, i. e., Genesis was called the book of the creation (see VAIHINGER in HERZOG’S Encyclopedia, Art. Pentateuch, p. 293).

OBSERVATION 5. Vaihinger seeks for the five books of Moses a second half, and finds it in the prophets (law and the prophets, Matt. 22:40). This division is interfered with by the intervention of the Kethubim. Then he finds the second half in the additional idea of the law as promise in the New Testament. Without doubt, the New Testament is the converse of the Old; that, however, the number five, as such, requires a complement, becomes doubtful by the number of the books of the Psalms, unless we are to consider the writings of Solomon as the complement of these five books of Psalms. It is true, a complement follows the five historical books, in the Apostolic writings of the New Testament.

OBSERVATION 6. It has been maintained by Ewald, Bleek, Knobel, and others, that the basis of the Pentateuch was originally connected with the book of Joshua, and that the work was in six parts (see VAIHINGER, p. 293; KEIL, Introduction, § 42, p. 143). It is curious that the same criticism which on the one hand considers these books of Moses too large to have been original, on the other hand again thinks them dismembered out of larger, and comparatively modern, historical writings.


In the introductory paragraphs on the Old Testament criticism, it has been said, that in treating the point in question, we neither feel dependent on tradition and the orthodox rule, that it is necessary for the belief of the canonical word of God to attribute to Moses all the five books of Moses in the present form (except the report of his death), nor on the critical conjectures which in various ways, through their false suppositions, their want of intelligence of the more profound relations of the word, and their great divergence from each other, prove themselves unripe efforts.

That one must adopt a canonical recension of the originals of Moses (i. e., a recension falling within the prophetic sphere of the Old Covenant), appears from the manifold indications of criticism. To these indications belongs, above all, the account of the death of Moses; the judgments on Moses, however, as of a third person, which is the object of the statement Ex. 11:3; Num. 12:3, seem to us to decide nothing. Then there is the great chasm of 38 years in the history of the wanderings of Israel through the desert (Num. 20), as also other enigmatical obscurities (see Vaihinger). Farther, the manifold indications of the combination of various originals in initial and concluding formulas; the marks of a later period (Gen. 12:6; 13:7; 14:14; 23:2, at that time the Canaanites were in the land; Dan, Hebron, seem no conclusive characteristics); the presumption of a book of the wars of Jehovah (Num. 21:14); the great development of the genealogy of Edom carried even to the appearance of its kings (Gen. 35:11). The ambiguity of the expression “unto this day” (Gen. 19:37; 22:14, ff.), is also noticed by Vaihinger.

From many false presumptions of criticism on the other hand, it is clear that we cannot yield to its past views. Here place especially the rationalistic starting-point of most critics, and their dogmatic prejudices. This is 1. the prejudice against supernatural revelation in general; consequently 2. against miracles; and 3. against prophecies; through these many are impelled to deny to the Pentateuch not only authenticity, but also its historical character. On this point see DELITZSCH, p. 46. Here belongs also the ignoring of the great contrast between the names Elohim and Jehovah, which in its essential significance extends not only through the whole Old Testament (the Solomonic universalism, the Davidic theocratic Messianism), and through the whole New Testament (the Johannean doctrine of the Logos, the Petrine doctrine of the Messiah), but also through the whole Christian church to the contests in the immediate present (ecclesiastical confession and Christian humanism).

At a later period we may speak of some valuable references of Sack and Hengstenberg, to the contrast between Elohim and Jehovah. We also reckon here the supposition, that Moses, the lawgiver, on account of this his peculiar office, could not also, at the end of his career, and in his prophetic spirit, have given a deeper meaning to the law, as he looked out from the legal sphere and over into the prophetic, even as from the mountain Nebo he looked over into the promised land (see the quoted article of VAIHINGER, p. 315 ff.). The office of John the Baptist was to preach repentance in the name of the coming Messiah; before his death, however, he became the prophet of the atonement with reference to Christ: Behold the Lamb of God which bears the sins of the world. It is everywhere wrong to assume that a lawgiver has known nothing higher than what he finds within his calling to announce in form of law, according to the degree of culture to which his people have advanced.

After these remarks we give a survey of the various views of the origin and the composition of the Pentateuch, with reference to BLEEK (p. 161 ff.).

1. The older supposition among Jews and Christians, that Moses was the author of the entire Pentateuch. This is also the judgment of Philo and Josephus. Thus the Talmud: “Moses wrote his book, the Pentateuch, with the exception of eight Pesukim, the last eight, which were indited by Joshua. Philo and Josephus even assume that Moses wrote the section concerning his death in the spirit of prophecy.

2. The views of the Essenes, according to which the original theocratic revelation was falsified by later interpolations, passed naturally over to the gnostic writings of the Jews, and the Alexandrian gnostics. From this we may explain a similar account of Bleek, relative to the gnostic Valentinus, the Nasoræans (as given by Epiphanius and Damascenus), the Clementines and Bogomiles. The source of these views is everywhere the same gentile, dualistic representation. They also coincide with those judgments of the gnostics, which in their various grades are so inclined to throw away the Old Testament.

3. Doubts of certain Jewish authorities of the middle ages about the authorship of the whole Pentateuch by Moses, Isaac, Ben Jasos, and Aben Esra. The commencement of a genuine criticism is seen with them. They accepted, however, only later additions in certain passages, i. e., Gen. 36:31.

4. The first critical doubts after the reformation, 16th century: CARLSTADT: De canonicis scripturis, Moses non fuisse scriptorem quinque librorum. ANDERAS MASIUS: “The Pentateuch in its present form is the work of Ezra or another inspired man.”—17th century: HOBBES in his Leviathan: “The Pentateuch a work about Moses, not by Moses, yet based on originals by the hand of Moses.” So also ISAAC PEYRERIUS, at first a reformed divine, then Roman and Jesuit: Systema theologicum ex Prœadimitorum hypothesi, 1655. SPINOZA in his Tractatus theologico-politicus: “Ezra is the author of the Pentateuch and of the remaining historical books in their present form.” RICHARD SIMON: “Critical History of the Old Testament”: “Moses wrote the laws; the history of his time he had written by annalists, from which followed the later composition of the Pentateuch.” CLERICUS, in his Sentimens, went still further, though in his “Commentary on Genesis” he took it mostly back, holding that only a few additions are Post Mosaic. Anton Van Dale, Menonite: “The Pentateuch was written by Ezra on the basis of the Mosaic book of the law, and other historical documents.”—18th century: At first a long-continued reaction in favor of genuineness: Carpzov, Michaelis, Eichhorn (Introduction, 1–3). Then followed renewed attacks: HASSE, Professor at Königsberg: “Prospects of Future Solutions of the-Old Testament,” 1785; at the time of the exile the Pentateuch was composed from old records.” Later retractations (following the example of Clericus), according to which he accepted only additions to the documentary Pentateuch. Fulda, whose conjectures are like Bleek’s; Corrodi, Nachtigall (pseudonym, Otmar), whose sweeping assertions were modified by Eckerman, Bauer, aud others.—19th century: To great lengths now went Severin the father, and De Wette; these then were variously opposed under the confession of additions and interpolations by Kelle, Fritzsche, Jahn, Rosenmüller, Pustkuchen, Kanne, Hug, Sack, and others. Reconciling or medium views were presented by Herbst, Bertholdt, Volney, and Eichhorn, 4th Edition. We then have the investigations of Bleek: “A few aphoristic supplements to the investigations of the Pentateuch” (in ROSENMÜLLER’S Repertorium, 1822). Later: “Supplements to the investigations of the Pentateuch”(Studies and Criticisms, 1831). The proof that a great number of the laws, songs, and similar pieces, were originally Mosaic, was not recognized by Hartman, von Bohlen, Vatke, and George. Bleek wrote against von Bohlen: De libri Geneseos Origine, &c., Bonn, 1836. The complete Mosaic composition of the Pentateuch was on the contrary again maintained by Ranke, Hengstenberg, Drechsler, Hävernick, Wette, Keil, and Ludwig König. Movers and Bertheau here follow with peculiar investigations and views. Tuch, in his commentary on Genesis, follows in all material respects the views of Bleek, who also designates the labors of Stähelin, De Wette, Ewald, and von Lengerke, as the latest investigations of the Pentateuch. The latter is eclectic, leaning on Bleek, Tuch, Stähelin, Ewald, and de Wette.

Stähelin passes over the authorship of Moses himself, and makes as the basis of the Pentateuch and the following books an older writing, which extends from the creation to the occupation of the land of Canaan. The recension of the day falls in the time of king Saul, and may have been by Samuel or one of his pupils.

De Wette, in the edition of his Introduction, 5 and 6, supposes a threefold recension of the whole work, at the same time with the book of Joshua, 1. the Elohistic, 2. the Jehovistic, 3. Deuteronomistic. The latter made at the time of Isaiah. The sources of the first treatise could have been partly Mosaic, though it is questionable if in the present form.

Ewald (History of the People of Israel): “by Moses, originally, there was but little—merely the tables of the law and a few other short utterances.” Bases of the present form of the Pentateuch: four or five books involved in each other. See below the treatises on Genesis.

KURTZ, in the “History of the Old Covenant,” in the supplement to Delitzsch, has taken the view that Moses did not write the Pentateuch, but only the passages in the middle books where something is expressly given as written by him, and besides that, Deuteronomy, Gen 1–32; the Pentateuch, however, was written partly under Moses, and partly under Joshua, or not long after Joshua.2

BLEEK (pp. 183 ff.) has given very interesting and evident proof of genuine Mosaic originals, in Leviticus, Numbers, and Exodus. At first it is shown of the sacrificial law, Leviticus 1–7., that it comports in its literal acceptance only with the relations in the wilderness, as appears from the contrast expressed in such phrases as “in camp and outside the camp,” “Aaron and his sons,” “heads of their fathers’ houses” (Ex. 6:14), &c. In Leviticus 16. it is commanded that one of the goats shall be sent into the wilderness. Similar indications of originality are found Lev. 13, 14, &c. Bleek judges in the same way concerning the relations of the camp in Numbers, Gen 1 ff. Here may be added single songs, viz., the three songs, Num. 21.—Then are quoted, however, many signs as traces of the later composition of the whole: Gen. 12:6: “and the Canaanite was then in the land” (comp. Gen. 13:7). Gen. 36:31: “and these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel.” Gen. 40:15, Joseph says: “I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews.” In Gen. 13:18, the city of Hebron is mentioned. According to Joshua 14:15; 15:13, the city was formerly called Kirjath Arba (comp. Gen. 22:2; 35:7; see also the note on Hengstenberg’s declaration, according to which it is possible that Hebron was the oldest name of the city). In Gen. 14:14, the city is called Dan, on the contrary we read Judges 18:29: “The Danites gave to the city of Laish the name Dan.” Ex. 16:35; Num. 15:32, 36; Deut. 1:1; 2:12; 3:2, &c. Bleek counts here also the law respecting the king, Deut. 17:14–20. Again, laws in Deuteronomy, which seem to anticipate the sojourn in Canaan: Deut. 19:14; Gen 20. Besides these the repetitions: Ex. 34:17–26; comp. Gen 21–23; Ex. 16:12, comp. Num. 11 &c. Then there are apparent disagreements, such as Num. 4: “Period of service of the Levites from the 30th year to the 50th;”—again, Gen 8:23–26: “From the 25th to the 50th year.” Still further: “unnatural position of separate sections,” e. g., Ex. 6:14–27. Also the chasm in the account from Num. 20:1–20, where a space of 37–38 years is omitted. Finally, the improbability that Moses would leave behind an historical work of such extent. We have already, in the General Introduction, given the results of Bleek’s investigations, which we cite as fruit of the untiring diligence of an honest, acute, and pious investigator, without considering them absolutely evident (namely, what concerns those parts where the force of the prophetic prediction seems ignored, or where the acceptance of repetitions and contradictions might be the result of a want of insight into the construction of the books). The article Pentateuch, by VAIHINGER, in HERZOG’S Real-Encyclopedia, appears to us very noteworthy in a critical point of view. With respect to the present condition of the discussions in question, we refer to the aforesaid labors of Bleek in his Introduction, to the article by Vaihinger, to the supplements by Hengstenberg, to the Introduction to the Old Testament by Keil, and to the Introduction to Genesis by Delitzsch. A carefully prepared tabular presentation of the various views, may be found in Hertwig’s “Tables to the Introduction to the Old Testament,” p. 26 ff.

After the above general remarks, we might, for the present, here come to a close, since we have again to treat of the separate books of the Pentateuch in the proper place. One consideration, however, which seems to us of special importance, and which might not receive its full attention, is the internal truth of the religious periods of development, as ecclesiastical theology has long shown it in the outlines. That the Jewish religion does not begin with the Mosaic legislation, but with the Abrahamitic promise, is presupposed in the New Testament, and is also based upon the nature of the case. The patriarchal religion is characterized as the original of an inner life of revelation and faith, according to its beginnings in the sphere of life, as developed in chosen heads of families. It is clear that this theocratic religion of promise must be distinguished again from the earlier universalistic religion, which it presupposes. It must also present itself objectively in a form of law, externally commanding for a whole nation grown up in slavish oppression and moral desolation. Since this rested, however, on the basis of an inner character in the chosen ones of the people, it was necessary that there be a transition period, (by means of the impulse of the inner life of faith), from the legal stage to the period of a new and more general internal feeling, i. e., to the prophetic period. When finally the spiritual life of this prophetic period became more general, according to the popular measure among the pious of the nation, then it was necessary to make the records of it, in their entirety, effective for the canonical guidance of the national life. The course of the development of the Christian church forms throughout a parallel to this legal development of the Old Testament economy, and it lies in the slow manner of this development, that its separate stages must be indeed lasting historical periods. But what follows from this, in reference to the literature of the individual periods?

It is clear that Genesis, in its essential character, does not point, in the least, beyond the patriarchal standpoint. It consists of originals, which partly represent the universalistic view of the primitive religion, partly the theocratic view of the religion of promise. Though these originals may not have been conceived until the age of Moses as fixed and lasting traditions in the house of Abraham, it appears settled that a Genesis could not have been invented in the prophetic period, nor even in the transition period (from Samuel to Elijah), nor, indeed, in the legal period. The intercourse of the Abrahamites with the Canaanites, the relations of race, the religious forms, everything speaks against it. The book of Job, it is true, transfers its representations from a later period into an earlier one, or into what is still a universalistic religious faith-view; but with all the art of representation, how openly appears the more developed religious stage which points to the period after Solomon. In view of the sacredness of the originals of Genesis it is not probable that their compilation into one work should have fallen beyond the age of Samuel, or even that of Moses.

As regards further the three books of the law (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers), they bear in their entire contents so decidedly the impress of the stern legal standpoint, that only the compilation of them (not, however, the collection of their material parts) could fall beyond the Mosaic age.

Finally, as above shown, it is not all inconsistent with, but corresponding to, the spiritual life, if we suppose that towards the end of his days, and in his prophetic character, Moses may have prepared the way, through a series of original writings, for the mediation of his legislation with the future period of prophetic subjectiveness, and thus laid the foundation of the transition period beginning with Samuel. The moulding of these originals then belonged to a later period. Should, however, Deuteronomy have been made in the prophetic period, it must have unfailingly betrayed itself through Messianic traits, if not in reference to the personal Messiah, at least in reference to the Messianic kingdom, which is not in the least the case.

The frequent quotation of Mosaic passages in the prophets (see Delitzsch, p. 11 ff.) may certainly prove the existence of such written originals, not, however, the existence of the respective books in their present form (Vaihinger, p. 313). The fulness of these quotations ever remains a proof that the written sources in question had such a degree of sacredness and respect, that we cannot easily assume that at a period, later as compared with the quotations, they had been dismembered in the most various manner, and then again, as new material, been worked up into new books. That the service in High Places was not completely abolished until the time of Hezekiah, is no proof that Deuteronomy, with its prohibition of this service, did not appear until his time (Vaihinger). In the same manner the manifold apostasy of the people from Jehovah would speak against the authenticity of the legislation from Sinai itself.3 It must be taken into consideration, that the legal nature of the Mosaic faith would urge, in the most decided manner, to the putting in writing and settlement of all definitions and explanations of the law. But from this it does not follow, as Delitzsch maintains, p. 6, that the Post-Mosaic history shows no traces of developments of law. The sacerdotal regulations of David, and many other things, contradict this. It is perhaps also taken too little into consideration, that the contact of the Israelitish traditions with Egyptian refinement and the art of writing must have exerted an immense influence. The periods of Joseph and Moses were certainly, therefore, more given to writing than many a later one. According to the degree of its religious development, its marks of inward depth, and its indications of universality (as it appears, notwithstanding the great theocratic severity of the book), according too to its stately, poetic, and sententious style, has Deuteronomy, as it seems to us, an unmistakable affinity with the literature of Solomon in its wider sense, as it, together with the three works of Solomon, comprises also the book of Job (comp. also the Prayer of Solomon, 1 Kings 8:22).

We must, therefore, suppose that the recension of it belongs to the transition period from the legal to the prophetic era, which extends from Samuel to Elisha. The stern vindication of the unity of the place of worship, Gen 12, appears even to presuppose the founding of Solomon’s temple; as the regal law, Gen 17, certainly appears in its coloring to point to the errors of Solomon. The same is true of the strong and zealous words against those who mislead to apostasy. If we adhered to this point of view we might set Deuteronomy beside the Song of Solomon and the 45th Psalm (5:11). On the other hand, it is hardly credible that a Jewish author, after the apostasy of the ten tribes, should have invented such a superabundant blessing on Joseph as we find pronounced in Deut. 33:13.4 Moreover, it is also not easily credible that a theocratic spirit which, toward the end of the period of the Judges, compiled the originals of the lawgiver Moses, should not also have compiled the Deuteronomic originals of his later days. On the ancient character and Egyptian recollections of Deuteronomy, see Delitzsch, pp. 23 ff.

At the time of Jesus Sirach (180–130 B. C.) the Old Testament was extant in its tripartite form as a closed canon (Preface, Gen 7). At the time of Nehemiah (444 B. C.) Deuteronomy was already compiled, also the constituent parts of the Pentateuch (Neh. 13:1; 2 Macc. 2:13, speak only of a collection of holy books on the part of Nehemiah). At the time of Ezra (458 B. C.) there was developed a documentary learning, which extended to the law, i. e., to the legal writings of Moses (Ezra 7:6–10). For this reason tradition has placed the closing of the canon in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.

At the time of Josiah (639–609 B. C.) Deuteronomy was again found in the temple as a lawbook of an older period (2 Kings 22:8; 2 Chron. 34:14). It is not at all improbable that just this book, with its emphatic curses of idolatry, was the one that was forgotten or concealed in the depths of the temple at the time of the idolatrous king Manasseh (comp. Gen 33:7). The various conjectures which modern criticism has connected with this circumstance proceed from the πρῶτον φεῦδος that the Old Testament theocrats were at that time hierarchs in the medieval sense, and might have permitted a pia fraus. And so, according to Vatke, must the law have been made about this time. At the time of the king Hezekiah (725 ff.) “his men” collected the addenda to the proverbs of Solomon (Gen 25:1); this, however, was not its beginning. Such a collection of the proverbs of Solomon presupposes far earlier collections with respect to the Psalms and the books of the law. Hence Isaiah can about this time go back with his prophecy to the predictions of Deuteronomy. With the wonderful disappearance of Elijah (896 B. C.) is in reality the purely legal period closed. His shower of fire, prefiguring the end of the world, is followed by the prophetic period, which the vision of Elijah on Horeb, and much more the labors of Elisha in his healing miracles, had presignalled. Elijah looks backwards as the final landmark of the death-bringing and destroying influence of the law; Elisha looks forwards with evangelical omens which the evangelizing words of the Messianic prophets must soon follow. When David was departing this life (1015 B. C.), he could already lay to the heart of his son Solomon, the law of Moses as a written one (1 Kings 2:3). The promise of the typical Messiah-king (2 Sam. 7) presupposes already the promise of the typical Messiah-prophet (Deut. 18:15), and the promise of the Messiah-priest (Deut. 33:8ff.), i. e., determinate originals of Deuteronomy; since the prophets and priests are present in Israel before the kings.

OBSERVATION. It is not with entire justice that Kurtz remarks (History of the Old Covenant, 1, p. 46): “It is an historical fact that stands more firmly than any other fact of antiquity that the Pentateuch is the living foundation, and the necessary presumption, of the whole Old Testament history, not less than of the entire Old Testament literature. Both of these and with them Christendom, as their fruit and completion, would resemble a tree without roots, if the composition of the Pentateuch were transferred to a later period of Israelitish history.”5 Does the Old Testament theocracy rest then on the completed compilation of scriptural books, or, indeed, on writings at all, or does it not rather rest on the living, actual revelation of God, which preceded all writings? And now all Christendom! The church also rests, indeed, not on the authenticity of the New Testament books, but on the living revelation of God in Christ, although it is regulated by the canon of the New Testament. Moreover, it is well verified that the Pentateuch, as the earlier foundation, is attested by all the following scriptural books. The internal testimony of the Pentateuch to the written compositions of Moses, to which Kurz, after Delitzsch, refers, is also of great import. He has also justly remarked that the canonical character of the scriptural books would stand firmly, even if Ezra were to be regarded as their compiler.

The whole of the present question is largely influenced by the distinction between the records of Elohim and Jehovah, to which we must return in the introduction to Genesis.


It is a fact that the Samaritans (see article in question in Herzog, Winer, &c.) distinguished themselves from the Jews by having a Pentateuch different from theirs in many particulars, and that they possessed, and still possess this, regarding it as the only Holy Writ (other separate writings, e. g., a Samaritan book of Joshua, different from the canonical, are of no special importance). This is to be mentioned here for the reason that the existence of this Pentateuch might, on the one hand, support the authority of our canonical Pentateuch, and on the other hand might also create a prejudice against it.

The earlier composition of the Pentateuch has been inferred from the circumstance that the Samaritans had a Pentateuch in common with the Jews. The Samaritans, it was supposed, received their Holy Writ as a relic of the Israelites of the ten tribes, whose remains mingled with theirs; this explains why they possess only the Pentateuch.

The Israelites, as separated from the kingdom of Judah, accepted from the Jews no other sacred writings, in consequence of their national hatred. Therefore the Pentateuch must have been extant before the separation of the two kingdoms (Jahn). If now Vaihinger is of opinion that this demonstration is contradicted by the proof of Hengstenberg that the Samaritans proceeded solely from heathen colonists, and not from a mixture of Jews and heathen, the argument itself is not duly established; for this matter compare the article “Samaritans” in Winer. Again the circumstance that the Samaritan Pentateuch contains elements which are intended for the glorification of their mountain Garizim, does not oblige us, with Petermann (see article “Samaria” in HERZOG’S Real-Encyclopedie), to transfer the whole present compilation of the Pentateuch to the time of the separation of the Samaritans from the Jews, that is, between Nehemiah and Alexander.

If we presuppose among the Samaritans a far earlier existence of the Pentateuch, according to its present entirety, nevertheless the paganizing character of the people, which vacillated between overstrained judaistic institutions and a heathen fondness for fables, would prefer the interpolations which are peculiar to their versions. On the other hand, it is not easy to perceive why the ten tribes, on the separation from Judah, should have been in possession only of the Pentateuch. Moreover, the great harmony of the Samaritan Pentateuch with the Septuagint, permits the inference of earlier Jewish revisions, which would make the old text more pleasant to the pagan culture of the period, by avoiding anthropomorphisms and anthropopathisms. Therefore Vaihinger assumes that the Samaritans first received their Pentateuch through Manasseh, son of the high-priest, as Josephus calls him (Archæology 11:7, 2; comp. 13:9, 1), who fled to them and drew many Jews with him to apostasy. Welte also assumes (see the article “Samaritan Pentateuch” in the Church-Lexicon of Catholic Theology, by WETZER and WELTE), that the Samaritans first received their Pentateuch through that Jewish priest, who (according to the account of Nehemiah), went over to them as the son of the high-priest Jehoiada, and became the first high-priest of their newly-erected worship on the mountain of Garizim. At the time of this priest, or later, a more acceptable, falsified compilation of the Pentateuch might easily have crowded out a purer and more ancient one; for it is neither historical that the Samaritans until then had been pagans, nor probable that they, as worshippers of Jehovah, had remained without a book of the law. The Israelitish priest, sent to instruct them in the religion of the land, might also have taken charge of the Hebrew service under the form of image and calf-worship. So much, however, is certainly clear, that the careful perseverance of the Samaritans in the legal stage, even after the coming in of an imperfect hope of the Messiah, their want of a living development under the influence of a prophetic spiritual life and prophetic writings, with their careful reverence for the Pentateuch, is very significant testimony that the Pentateuch belongs essentially to a legal period that far preceded the prophetic one.

That the deviations of the Samaritan Pentateuch cannot injure the authority of the Jewish masoretic one, appears from their manifold harmony with the Septuagint, from their modernizing character, as well as, finally, from the manifest falsifications, which have not spared even the Decalogue. For further particulars in reference to this subject, see the articles in the Real-Encyclopedias of HERZOG, and of WETZER and WELTE; also the article “Samaritans” by WINER, which latter refers especially to GESENIUS: De Pentateuchi Samaritani origine, indole et auctoritate, Halle, 1845.

§ 5. Theological and Homiletical Literature on the Pentateuch.

See WALCH, Biblioth. theol. 4. p. 444 ff.

The Universal Wörterbuch, by DANZ, under the article “Pentateuch,” p. 754; also the supplement, p. 81.—WINER, Theol. Literature 1., p. 196 ff.; Supplement, p. 31 ff.—KURZ, History of the Old Covenant, pp. 22 and 53. A survey of the writings on the Old Testament in Keil’s Introduction (p. 61) to the Pentateuch, p. 64 works: Clerici Commentarius in Mosis Prophetœ libros 5., Tübingen, 1733. MOLDENHAUER, Translation and Explanations of the Books of Moses, Quedlinburg, 1774 to 1775. Jerusalem, “Letters on the Mosaic writings and Philosophy,” 3d ed., Braunschweig, 1783. HESS, “History of the Israelites, and Moses in particular,” see Danz, p. 675. VATER, “Commentary” (1802–1805), 3 vols. RANKE, “Investigations of the Pentateuch,” 2 vols., 1834–1840. HENGSTENBERG, “Authenticity of the Pentateuch,” 1836–1839. The same: “The most important and difficult sections of the Pentateuch explained,” 1 vol. “History of Balaam and his Prophecy,” Berlin, 1838. The same: “The Books of Moses and Egypt,” with supplement; “Manetho and the Hyksos,” Berlin, 1841. E. BERTHEAU, “The seven Groups of Mosaic Laws in the three middle books of the Pentateuch,” Göttingen, 1840 (the writings of George, Bruno Bauer, The Religion of the Old Testament, Vatke). BAUMGARTEN, “Theolog Commentary on the Old Testament,” 2 vols., Kiel, 1843. KURZ, “History of the Old Covenant,” 1 and 2 vols., 2d Ed., Berlin, 1853. BÄHR, “Symbolik of the Mosaic worship,” Heidelberg, 1837. Also other works to be hereafter named, referring to the Mosaic worship. KNOBEL, “Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus;” also “Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua;” “Concise Manual,” Leipzig, 1861. DELITZSCH and KEIL, “Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament,” 1st vol. “Genesis and Exodus,” Leipzig, 1861; 2d vol. “Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy,” Mecklenburg. Scriptura ac Traditio, Commentaries perpetuus in Pentateuchum, Leipzig, 1839. Schuschan Eduth, i. e., “Exposition of the five books of Moses,” Heb. and German, with notes by ARNHEIM.—Herzheimer, 1853–1854. Thorath Emeth, “The five books of Moses,” by HEINEMANN, Berlin, 1853. The works on “Church History,” by NATALIS ALEXANDER, and many other older theologians, especially of the reformed church; also Lutheran, Buddeus, &c.; Catholic, Stollberg, &c.—Homiletical, see WINER, ii. p. 115 ff. “Sermons,” by HOHNBAUM, BALDAUF, SAILER, &c. ZINZENDORF, Extracts from his “Discourses on the five books of Moses and the four Evangelists.” Published by Clemens, 9 vols., 1763. BEYER, “History of the Israelites in Sermons,” 2 vols. Erfurt, 1811. G. D. KRUMMACHER, “The Wanderings of Israel through the Wilderness,” Elberfeld, 1828. MEURER, “Moses, the servant of God. Spiritual Discourses,” Leipzig, 1836. APPUHN, “Moses, the servant of God,” Magdeburg, 1845. OOSTERZEE, “Moses, 12 Sermons,” Bielefeld, 1860. Treatises on the Doctrine of Immortality of the Old Testament, especially that of Moses, and on the separate books, will be mentioned in their respective places.



If we can regard as the conclusive mark of the genuine canonicity of the scriptural books, the fact that the spirit of divine revelation (which in the historical sphere has gradually entered into human nature until the perfect union of the Godhead and humanity) has appeared, and that this spirit, consistently progressing, has entered into human writing belonging to revelation, then it appears quite in accordance with nature that such a spirit of revelation has, in Genesis, united with the very earliest and most childlike form of human authorship, and that it does not manifest itself as a completed sacred work of art of theocratic Christian authorship, until the end of the whole biblical literature in the Apocalypse. The accounts of Genesis, taken in their human aspect, seem like loosely arranged and simple narratives of childlike speech, in contrast with that perfect symbolical composition of the Apocalypse, whose deep significance surpasses the comprehension of the most celebrated judges. But though Genesis forms a self-inclusive and connected whole, which sheds a bright, divine, infallible light over all beginnings of primitive time (see § 1), we nevertheless see therein the fact that here the living God has, in the most emphatic sense, prepared his praise “out of the mouth of babes and sucklings.” At the same time this fact gives us a satisfactory solution of the character of inspiration; how at every period it is perfect in the sense, that on the divine side it is continually the voice of the same divine spirit (and in truth of a spirit which completely commanded, in their respective tasks, those human minds that were apprehended and held by its influence), whilst, on the human side, it was to proceed from the imperfection of childlike, pious utterance and story through a series of degrees, until it had reached the full adult age in the new covenant; and all this the more so, as on the line of its chosen ones it had continually to break through the opposition of human sinfulness, which ever surrounded its nucleus of light with colored borders and shadows. With respect to what is centrally fundamental in the Old Testament books, it may be said, that one Godlike thought, or thought of God, ranges itself on the other, in proportion to the degree of divine revelation, or to that of human development. As regards the outer circle of these writings, we may find them burdened with all kinds of human imperfections, if we will judge them according to the New Testament, or draw them on the model of practical historical writing, or of natural science, &c. We must then, however, at the same time, well understand that those supposed imperfections are controlled by the principle of revelation in the books, and that, in our criticism of the style of revelation, we toil towards heterogeneous points of view. Such a process has a relative justification only in presence of an orthodoxy which emphasizes the said literal meanings in order to make from them abstract history, geography, natural science, &c., for the authoritative belief.

Genesis corresponds now to its design, according to which it is the revelation of God concerning the origin of the world, of mankind, of the fall, of the judgment, and the redemption. Not only that it presents these origins purely in their ethical idea and physical development, in accordance with the monotheistic principle, but also that whilst on the one side it clearly brings out the periods in the economy of the preparatory redemption (Adam, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph), and connects these periods with persons, wholly in accordance with the principle of personality in the kingdom of God (according to which each particular form of religion is the form of a covenant between the personal God and the personal man); it also presents practically, on the other side, the great contrast between universalism according to which God is Elohim for all the world and all mankind, and theocratic particularism, according to which He is Jehovah for His chosen ones, His covenant people, and His kingdom of salvation, in its full redemptory historical significance. Thus the history of Genesis passes through a series of contrasts, in which that particularism, which in the second book of Moses becomes legal, appears ever more defined, whilst, at the same time, there is seen more clearly the mutuality of this economic particularity and of the teleological universalism as it rests on principial universalism (Genesis. 1–3). Thus the promised seed of woman, Gen 3, confronts the fall of the human race. Then the line of Cain with its God-forsaken, worldly culture (Gen 4) is confronted by the line of Seth with its sacred worship, elevating the duration of life (Gen 5). The line of Seth was to become a salvation to the line of Cain, but the former conduces to the perdition of the latter through its overhasty carnal and spiritual intercourse (Gen 6). The house of Noah in the ark forms then a contrast to the mass of mankind sinking in the flood; but even to these the saving of the ideal humanity in Noah’s house was to be of advantage, according to 1 Peter 3:19, 20. A new and twofold contrast is then formed among the sons of Noah; to the contrast of piety, and pious culture, and barbarism (Shem and Japheth as opposed to Ham), is presented now the contrast of a one-sided worship (Shem) blest of God, and of a one-sided culture, also blest of God (Japheth). The culture of Japheth is no longer accursed, as that of Cain; after its propagation in the world, it is to return to the tents of Shem and be brought into unity with the perfected faith of revelation (Gen 9). Thus is the formation of the contrast between theocracy and heathendom introduced, as it is unfolded on the basis of the universal genealogical table (Gen 10). With the development of heathendom (Gen 11) is contrasted the founding of theocracy (Gen 12). That, however, the contrast thus opened is no absolutely hostile one, appears not merely from the preventive thought of the dispersion of nations (Gen. 11:6–7), but rather from the whole series of antitheses against heathendom, or heathenish characteristics, which now runs through the life of Abraham. The first antithesis is formed between Abraham and his father’s house, with its heathenish indecision in respect to the true faith (Gen 12). His father, Terah, was already on the way to Canaan; but he let himself be detained by the fertile Mesopotamia. The second antithesis of Abraham is Pharaoh in Egypt and heathen despotic caprice (Gen 12). The third antithesis is Lot and heathen selfishness and worldliness (Gen 13). In the fourth, Abraham meets he heathenish, robber-like warfare, with the liberating holy war of freedom, and, in consequence of this, is greeted by the prince of heathen piety, Melchisedek, as the prince of the theocratic faith (Gen 14). Then the antithesis enters into the very house of Abraham himself. Not the son of his faithful servant Eleazer shall be his heir (Gen 15), not the son of his body begotten of Hagar the maid (Gen 16), not even his posterity itself in unconsecrated birth; no,—circumcision must distinguish between the consecrated and the unconsecrated in his own life and race (Gen 17). So far the contrast between Abraham and the heathen world is clearly softened through the light of peace, as he, in deed, has been separated from the heathen world, in order that in his seed all races of the earth may be blest (Gen 12). Pharaoh and Lot, and the men allied to him in war, were no godless heathen; Melchisedek could even surpass him in certain respects. But now the contrast opens between Abraham and a Sodom ripe for judgment. Abraham, the highly favored confidant and friend of God, pleads for Sodom in an extremely persistent manner. His intercession shows in what sense he is chosen, and at least profits Lot and his daughters (Gen 19, 20). The position of Abraham in respect to Abimelech of Gerar is again no contrast between bright day and dark night; the weakness of Abraham in the duty of protecting his wife, is contrasted with the arbitrariness of Abimelech in matters of sex (Gen 20). In what a mild light, however, appear Ishmael and Abimelech (Gen 21), and Hagar, to whom also the angel of the Lord as such appeared at an earlier period in her great necessity (Gen 16)! And later, Abraham must distinguish between the human sacrifice, as offered in the heathenish spirit, and the theocratic devotion of the soul (Gen 22), as he was previously obliged to distinguish between unconsecrated and consecrated connection of sex, generation, and birth. The manner in which Abraham buries Sarah is not the heathen manner of interment; and so also his seeking a wife for his son has its theocratic traits (Gen 23, 24). The antipathy against heathendom, together with a friendly relation to the heathen themselves, runs throughout the life of Abraham, as this meets us finally in the children of his second marriage. Here follows now the great contrast between Isaac and Ishmael. Ishmael cannot be the theocratic heir; he has his inheritance, however, and also his blessing. The same may be said of the contrast between Jacob and Esau. The latter is only rejected under the point of view of the theocratic hereditary power; he also has his blessing. Finally, a contrast is even formed between Joseph and his brethren. And then also between Joseph and Judah; and Judah becomes inferior to Joseph the very moment he gives himself up as security for Benjamin (Gen 44–18 ff.). Thus in Genesis throughout there is presented the relation between theocratic particularism and heathendom. The heathen element is rejected, what is noble and pious in the heathen is acknowledged. The bond of humanity in relation to the heathen is retained in illustration of real sympathy, just reception, and kindly treatment. But where the economic particularism, ordered by God, tends to become a human or inhuman, pharasaical fanaticism (as in the crime of the brothers Simeon and Levi at Shechem), there the spirit of revelation pronounces through the mouth of the patriarch a verdict of decided condemnation (Gen 34:30; 49:5–7).

Already, therefore, does Genesis constitute an economic and conditional contrast between Judaism and Heathendom, and consequently also a religion which is at the same time theocratic in its particularism and human in its universalism, resting, as it does, on a self-revelation of God, according to which he is, on the one hand, the God of the whole world and all nations; on the other hand, the God of the chosen ones, the God of Israel, of his covenant people, of his kingdom.

The simplicity with which Genesis presents the whole history of antiquity in biographical forms, is, at the same time, its sublimity. Its God is a personal God, and its world and history do not consist of persons who are puppet images of impersonal things, but of personalities from whose reciprocal action with God are developed the real relations. Thus is unfolded that history of the heroic acts of faith, with which the old heroes of the faith introduce the revelation, piece by piece, into the world, according to Heb. 11. The faith of Adam and of all primeval mankind in the creation, is followed by Abel’s faith in sacrifice, Enoch’s faith in immortality. Noah’s faith in judgment and deliverance, Abraham and Sarah’s faith in promise, the faith of Abraham in a resurrection, and the faith in hope and blessing of the patriarchs in general. Abraham, however, is especially the father of the faithful, because he not only believed for himself, as Melchisedek did, but also for his race (Rom. 4.). He is, consequently, at the same time the man of active obedience to the faith, the man of deed or doing. Isaac, on the contrary, is the type of all sufferers or waiters in faith. In the life of Jacob finally, acting and suffering in the faith alternate in the most manifold style, i. e., he is preëminently the faith fighter, or one who fights the fight of faith; his name Israel implies this. In the wonderful story of providence which expresses itself in the history of Joseph, we meet, more decidedly than in the life of Jacob, the type of humiliation and exaltation, which hereafter continues to be the basis of the conduct of the faithful, and which finds, therefore, its last and highest fulfilment in Christ.

The characters of the twelve sons of Jacob are individually presented to us in such firm and practical features, that we receive the decided impression that we have everywhere to do with persons, not with personifications. Those critics who will transfer the personifications of heathen mythology to patriarchal history (Nork, Redslob, &c.), overlook the great world-historical contrast, according to which the heathen consciousness has lost itself in the impersonal, the material, the worldly; whilst the history of theocratic consciousness is the history of the religious spirit raising itself above nature, or of the self-comprehension of significant personalities in the communion of the personal God. For this consciousness, the remembrance of great persons was more indelible than that of great masses of people; the remembrance of great personal experience of faith, and of deeds of faith, more important than that of great events. As the monotheistic faith was peculiar, so also was the monotheistic memory. The faith of the patriarchs could not have become the religion of the future, had it not struck correspondingly strong roots in the past. Their faith in the future went beyond the end of the world; their faith remindings were, therefore, obliged to go back beyond the beginning of the world.

We must not forget that the illumination of God corresponded, throughout, to the inquiries and efforts of the religious spirit of man. Therefore visions were seen backwards as well as forwards, and the power of personal interest explains the gradually retroceding prophetic significance of many names.

Supplement. The nomenclature of Genesis, see in the translation itself.



Genesis, which in its age surpasses all monuments of old religious literature, although the oldest manuscripts of it do not go back of the ninth century after Christ (see DELITZSCH, p. 5), comprises a space of more than 2,000 years (according to DELITZSCH, p. 4, comp. p. 15, 2,306 years). In its contents it touches only the beginnings of the art of writing;6 its real basis can therefore be no other than tradition, or sacred legend, and even this is not sufficient, in so far it goes back beyond the origin of the human race to the beginning of the creation.

Genesis has, therefore, in the first place a basis, which precedes all human tradition. This basis rests without doubt on divine communication; the only question is through what human mediation. These communications of the earliest chapters of Genesis, which precede all primeval traditions, Kurz has referred to a prophecy looking backwards. Delitzsch does not contest the prophetic, but the vision conception (609). This contrast does not rest on a good prophetic psychology, for it appears from many passages of the scripture that the human side of the facts of revelation is always the vision,—the vision, as in so far the human mediation of all prophecy. See Introduction, § 38.

Sacred legends are ranged beside the visions of the past; legends, not in the sense of the mythological system (in which legends follow myths, as a concrete heathen morality follows a concrete heathen dogmatics), but narratives of the patriarchs in a religious symbolical form. The process of this tradition would in the highest degree be placed in doubt, if we were to suppose a series of ordinary generations through 2,000 years. But we are here speaking of long-lived men who continued through centuries (concerning the subsequent abbreviation of the line of generations, that communicated the ancient sacred legends, see ZAHN, “the kingdom of God,” p. 33, and the precious words of Luther and Hamann, p. 24), of patriarchs, whose favorite thinking was religious contemplation, hope, and recollection, of heirs of the faith, whose most sacred inheritance was the religious legacy of their ancestors, of sober anti-mythological spirits, by whom, with the fable-matter of heathendom the fable-form also was hated in their very soul.

It lies, however, in the nature of the case, that for the beginnings of the art of writing there could be known no more pressing use than the fixing of the sacred legends in sacred memorabilia.


The character of Genesis itself seems to refer to the difference of said memorabilia in connection with the fact that in it the name Elohim (God) alternates in a very remarkable manner with the name Jehovah (to which neither the translation: the Lord, nor the Eternal, clearly corresponds). It is the same in Exodus to Gen 14:6.

We have first concisely to present the fact, then the critical endeavors to explain it.

With respect to the fact itself, Delitzsch distinguishes from three to four classes of sections, p. 63 Comp. also the supplement to his commentary.

1. Sections in which the name Elohim either predominates or is exclusively used.

2. Sections in which the name Jehovah either predominates or is exclusively used.



Gen 1:1-2:3. The world and man under the universal cosmo-genetic point of view.

Gen 2:43:24. Man, the Paradise world, the loss of Paradise, and the beginning of the economy of salvation. Theocratic point of view.

Gen 5. Tholedoth of Adam. The Sethites. The religious men of the universal religion of the first era. Gen 5:29. Glance at the judgments of Jehovah.

Gen 4. Eve’s theocratic hope. Abel’s theocratic sacrifice. Cain’s banishment and the Cainites under the ban of sin. At the conclusion (Gen 4:25) Eve thanks Elohim for her son Seth, because her theocratic hope seems darkened. The calling upon Jehovah revives with Enos, son of Seth, Gen 4:26.

Gen 6:9–22. Tholedoth of Noah. He with his three sons and their posterity are to be saved. Therefore universalistic.

Gen 6:1–8. The destruction of the first race of man. The Lord rejects the old race, but Noah finds favor with him.

Gen 7:10–24. The beginning of the flood. The entrance of Noah with the pairs of all flesh is ordered by Elohim, but Jehovah, the deliverer of the theocracy, shuts him in, as God of the Covenant. Ver. 66.

Gen 7:1–9. The deliverance of Noah, through entrance into the ark, guaranteed on account of his uprightness. The special command, that the clean animals shall enter the ark by seven pairs, with reference to the theocratic covenant of sacrifice.

Gen 8:1–19. The egress of Noah from the ark as egress of mankind and of the beasts; universalistic.

Gen 8:20–22. The thank-offering of Noah and the resolution of Jehovah to have mercy on men. The order of nature now theocratic.

Chap. 9:1–17. Blessing on Noah and the new race of man. Universal right of man. Universal covenant of divine mercy with men. Universal sign of peace, the rainbow. Universalistic.

Gen 10:111:31. The genealogical table. Jehovah only twice mentioned, Gen 10; with reference to Nimrod, Gen 10:9; and twice, Gen 11, with reference to the confusion of languages at Babel. Theocratic.

Gen 17:9–27. The order of circumcision on the part of Elohim. The founding of the covenant of circumcision for all the posterity of Sarah (e. g. Esau) and also for Ishmael. Universalistic.

Gen 12:117:8. Abraham’s call, Gen 12:1–8. The protection of Sarah in Egypt, Gen 12:10–20. Abraham’s settlement in Bethel and separation from Lot, Gen 13. The deliverance of Lot, Gen 14. It does not alter the character of the section that Melchisedek calls on El Elion. Abraham praises Jehovah as El Schadai (a name which forms the transition to the name of Jehovah, according to Ex. 6:3). The covenant of Jehovah with Abraham, its condition, the righteousness of faith, Gen 15. Sarah and Hagar, with reference to the heir of promise, Gen 16. The Lord as the Almighty God, Gen 17:8. Throughout theocratic.

Gen 19:29–38. A glance at the destruction of Sodom, with reference to the deliverance of Lot, and the incest with his daughters. Moab. Ammon. Universalistic.

Gen 18–19:28. The appearance of Jehovah to Abraham in the plains of Mamre. Jehovah’s judgment on Sodom. Theocratic.

Gen 21:1–21. Ishmael’s expulsion. Only Gen 21:1, Jehovah! Mostly universalistic.

Gen 24. Isaac’s marriage.

Gen 25:19–26. The twins.

Gen 26:2, 12, 24, 25. Theocratic testimonies and promises.

Gen 21:22–24. Abraham’s covenant with Abimelech. Only Gen 21:33, Jehovah.

Gen 29:31–35. Jehovah takes Leah into favor. The covenant God in reference to the covenant sons. See the mixed sections.

Gen 25:1–18. Sons of Keturah. Abraham’s death. Tholedoth of Ishmael. Gen 25:11, Elohim blesses Isaac.

Gen 30:25–43. New treaty between Jacob and Laban.

Also with reference to Esau. Therefore universalistic.

Gen 38. Jehovah punishes the sons of Judah.

Gen 27:46–28:9. Jacob’s wandering. Esau’s marriage. Once Elohim, once El Schadai.

Gen 39. Jehovah with Joseph in Egypt. Once Elohim. See the mixed sections.

Gen 30. Rachel. See the mixed Sections.

Gen 31. Jacob’s departure from Laban. Only Gen 31:3, 49, Jehovah.

Gen 33. Jacob’s return.

Gen 35:11. God blesses Isaac. Universalistic, with reference to Esau.

Gen 41–50. History of Joseph in Egypt. (Only Gen 49:18, Jehovah.)

 Exodus. 1. and 2. Israel’s oppression in Egypt. Universalistic.

Exodus 4:15–31. Return of Moses to Egypt. Theocratic.

Exodus 5. Pharaoh’s scornful treatment of the messengers of Jehovah. Theocratic.

“With Elohim alternate in these sections El Schadai, and El in combinations, as El Elohe Israel, Gen 33:20 and El Beth-El, Gen 35:7 (comp. Jehovah El Olam, Gen 21:33), or El by itself, Gen 35:1, 3; only one single time Adonai, Gen 20:4.”

“Among these sections, Gen. 2:4 till Gen 3 is distinguished by the predominance of the name Jehovah Elohim, which in the whole Pentateuch only again occurs in Ex. 9:30. The name of Elohim is found in that section only in the mouth of the serpent and of the woman. There are very few exceptions to the prevailing use of Jehovah in the remaining sections, and these are partly necessary, or of easy explanation. Adonai alternates most frequently with Jehovah (always in the address), Gen 18:3, 27; 30–33; Gen 19:18. Both combined, Adonai Jehovah, is Jehovistic Deuteronomic, Gen. 15:2, 8; Deut. 3:24; 9:26, and nowhere else in the Pentateuch. The two sections are also distinguished by the alternation of the Elohistic with El as the Jehovistic with Adonai (comp. however, Adonai in the mouth of Abimelech, Gen 20:4).”—DELITZSCH.

3. Mixed sections, in which there is the use of Jehovah and Elohim as equally divided. Gen 9:18–27. Important passage: “Blessed be Jehovah, the Elohim of Shem. May Elohim enlarge Japheth.”

Gen 14. Melchisedek is a priest of El Elion, and blesses Abraham in this name. But Abraham speaks in the name of Jehovah El Elion.

Gen 20. Elohim punishes Abimelech. The latter addresses him as Adonai.

Gen 20:1–19. Also Abraham speaks of the fear of God (Elohim). He prays to Elohim for Abimelech’s house; for Jehovah, the protecting God of Abraham, has closed up the wombs of the mothers.

Gen 27. The words of Isaac as reported by Rebecca: to bless before Jehovah. Jacob: Jehovah, thy God. Gen 27:27-28 remarkable. Jacob is already theocratically blessed by Jehovah, Isaac gives him universalistically the blessing of Elohim.

Gen 28:10–22. The angels of God. I am Jehovah, the Elohim of Abraham and the Elohim of Isaac. Jacob: Jehovah is in this place. Here is Elohim’s house. Further on: So God will be with me.

Gen 29:31–30:24. Jehovah takes Leah into favor with reference to the theocratic sons. And thus she gives the honor to Jehovah. The blessing of fruitfulness in itself is the concern of Elohim. Gen 30:2. Rachel speaks of the blessing of Elohim (comp. Gen 31:34). Elohim gives ear to Leah in reference to the birth of the fifth and sixth son. Rachel thanks Elohim for Joseph, but she pleads for another son from Jehovah.

Gen 32. Elohim of my father Abraham, Jehovah.—Thou hast wrestled with God and with man. He named the place Peniel, for I have seen Elohim face to face.

Gen 39. Jehovah is with Joseph in Egypt. Joseph says to the wife of Potiphar: How should I sin against Elohim?—Jehovah is also with Joseph in prison. Gen 39:21.

4. Latent sections, in which no name of God appears.

Gen 11:10–32; 22:20–24; 23. (exception Gen 23:6: Thou art a prince of God [Elohim] among us. Gen 25:1–10: God blesses Isaac. Universalistic with respect to Isaac’s entire posterity). Gen 25:12–20; 21–24; 27–34; Gen 27:41–46; 29:1–30; 34; 36; 37; 40; Ex. 2:1–22.

“The name of Elohim as characteristic of entire large sections disappears from Exodus 6:2 to Gen 7:2 (the preparation of Moses and Aaron for their calling). Nevertheless a few allusions are still found, among which is prominent the small Elohistic section Ex. 13:17–20 (beginning of the wanderings of Israel).”—DELITZSCH.

According to the foregoing, the name of Jehovah appears so entirely in a theocratic relation, and the name of Elohim so entirely in an Elohistic one, that we might easily assume these various relations to be there intended where their Hebrew and canonical subtility escape the eye of the critic.

[This exegetical distinction in the divine name is quite old, but it is only of late that it has been made to assume much importance in interpretation. It has been favored in Germany by two widely different schools. Those who set the least value on the idea of inspiration find here a fancied support, not only of what is called the documentary theory of Genesis, but also of their favorite notion of earlier and later periods in the composition of the whole, and even of particular parts. The other school, denying this inference, at least in the extent to which it is carried, are still fond of the distinction as favoring the notion, or rather, we may say, the precious doctrine, of a twofold aspect in the divine relation to the world, or universe at large, in contrast with that which is borne to a divine people chosen out of the world from the very beginning, and continued in its subsequent history, as a means of the ultimate regeneration of the world, and of nature regarded as disordered, or under the curse. Hence the terms universalistic and theocratic. Elohim has regard to the first aspect; Jehovah, or Jahveh, to the second.

Admitting the distinction, we may still doubt whether it has not been carried, on both sides, to an unwarranted extent. The first view is already curing itself by its ultra rationalistic extravagance. It reduces the Old Scriptures not only to fragments, but to fragments of fragments in most ill-assorted and jumbled confusion. Its supporters find themselves at last in direct opposition to their favorite maxim that the Bible must be interpreted as though written like other books. For surely no other book was ever so composed or so compiled. In the same portion, presenting every appearance of narrative unity, they find the strangest juxtapositions of passages from different authors, and written at different times, according as the one name or the other is found in it. There are the most sudden transitions even in small paragraphs having not only a logical but a grammatical connection. One verse, and even one clause of a verse, is written by the Elohist, and another immediately following by the Jehovist, with nothing besides this difference of names to mark any difference in purpose or in authorship. Calling it a compilation will not help the absurdity, for no other compilation was ever made in this way. To make the confusion worse, there is brought in, occasionally, a third or a fourth writer, an editor, or reviewer, and all this without any of those actual proofs or tests which are applied to other ancient writings, and in the use of which this “higher criticism,” as it calls itself, is so much inclined to vaunt.

The other school is more sober, but some of the places presented by them as evidence of such intended distinction will not stand the test of examination. What first called attention to this point was the difference between the first and second chapters of Genesis. In the first, Elohim is used throughout; in the second, there seems to be a sudden transition to the name Jehovah-Elohim, which is maintained fur some distance. This is striking; but even here the matter has been overstated. In the first chapter, we are told, the name Elohim occurs thirty times, without a single interruption; but it should be borne in mind that it is each time so exactly in the same connection, that they all may be regarded as but a repetition of that one with which the account commences. We should have been surprised at any variation. In this view they hardly amount to more than one example, or one use of the name, carried through by the repetition of the conjunctive particle. Thus regarded, the transition in the second passage is not so very striking. It is not well to say that anything in the composition of the scriptures is accidental or capricious, yet, as far as. “the Bible is written like other books,” we may suppose a great variety of causes that led to it as well as the one assigned. It might have been for the sake of an euphonic variety, or to avoid a seeming tautology. It might have been some subjective feeling which the writer would have found it difficult to explain, and that, whether there was one writer or two. Again, it might have been that the single name suggested itself in the first us more simple and sublime standing alone, and, in this way, more universalistic, as it is styled; whilst in the second general résumé the thought of the national name comes in, and the writer, whether the same or another, takes a holy pride in saying that it was the national God, our God, our Jehovah-Elohim, that did all this, and not some great causa causarum, or power separate from him. There might be a feeling of nearness in respect to the one name that led to its use under such circumstances.

So in the New Testament, Christ is a wider name than Jesus, less near, less tender and personal; and this difference may have led to the almost unconscious, yet still real though subjective, choice of the one rather than the other under varying circumstances. Something made Paul especially fond of the name Jesus, though he generally attaches it to Christ. So this name occurs alone more frequently in John than in the other Gospels. It is found more in some parts of one Gospel than in others, and yet this would be very poor evidence that such parts were by different authors. The cases may not be perfectly parallel, yet they present sufficient resemblance to show how insecure is any argument for or against authenticity that is based on such a distinction.

In the parallelism of passages presented by Lange, some are quite striking, and it would seem rational to suppose that the more general or the more national feeling, as it predominated in one or the other, may have occasioned the difference, in the suggestion and the use of the names.

Again, there are other cases given, in which it is not easy to discover this, and even some where the reasons assigned would seem capable of a direct reversal. Thus, in Gen. 10, the genealogical table of the nations has the name Jehovah and is pronounced theocratic. Of itself it would seem to be just the other way. So the mention of Nimrod becomes theocratic, and yet what name more remote from the idea of the people of God. Equally inconsistent would be that view, or that argument, which ranks the ordinance of circumcision in Abraham’s family as universalistic. Surely if there is any one thing preëminently theocratic, it is this, and yet the name here used is Elohim. Another example: the blessing of Isaac by Jacob is put in the universalistic or Elohistic column. The inconsistency of this, with any rigid theory of the names, is attempted to be explained by saying that it was with relation to Esau. This only shows, however, if it has any weight at all, that the same event may stand in relation to either aspect, according as it is viewed from this or that standpoint—a concession that would destroy the exegetical value of a large number of these references, although enough might remain to show that there was some good ground for the distinction.—T. L.]


The diversities of the name of God presented in the preceding paragraphs, induce us to preface the further discussion with a short treatise on the names of God in the Old Testament. We divide them into three classes.


In respect to אֱלֹהִים see below, אֵל, very old Semitic name of the Godhead. A name of Jehovah, Num. 12:13ff., &c. Also of the gods or idols of the heathen, Isa. 44:10, 15, &c. For Jehovah, usually Ha-el הֶאֵל (Gen. 31:13), or El Elohim. Jehovah El Elohim. El Elim. Dan. 11:36. Or El with epithets: עוֹלָם ,שַׁדַּי ,עֶלְיוֹן, &c., on account of the universality of the name itself. Thence also El Israel, El Jeshurun. Usual derivation from אוּל to be strong. According to Fürst אוּל, a primitive. It occurs in many proper names. אֱלוֹהַּ is predominantly poetical, instead of the plural Elohim; namely, in the Psalms, Job, Isaiah, Habakkuk, as also in later writings: Daniel, Nehemiah, Chronicles. Additional formation from אֵל mainly occurs with secondary attributes: God of Jacob, God of strong-hold, strange God, &c. Most frequently in the plural, אֱלֹהִים. 1. It is used of the true God, especially with the article. It is construed with the singular of the verb, though also with the plural, Gen. 20:13. Afterwards this construction with the plural was avoided as sounding polytheistic. 2. As protecting God or covenant God, referring to Abraham, Israel, &c., with other epithets, indicating the absolutism and universality of God: God of the heavens and the earth, God Zebaoth, &c.—In such relations it was also used adjectively, in order to indicate the highest, e. g., mountain of God. 3. Of heathen gods, when more closely denned by the context. So also, 4, though only conditionally, of vicegerents of God; kings, judges, angels; such examples very doubtful. In these cases there is, however, an adjective, symbolical signification. Concerning the derivation, Delitzsch says, p. 30 “Elohim is plural from Eloah, customary only in the higher poetic style, and this is not from the verb אָלַהּ, to be strong, formed from אול, but is an infinitive noun from אָלַהּ in the signification of the Arabic aliha, to fear.”7

We decidedly prefer the objective derivation to this subjective one (from the fear of God); since all other names of God have an objective derivation; this is especially so with the prefix El.—El Elion עֶלְיוּו, superior, supremus, ὕψιστος; El Schadai, שַׁוַּי potentissimus. Plur. Excell. a שַׁד, rad. שָׁדַד. Septuaginta, παντοκράτωρ. Vulgate, omnipotens. Elohim Zebaoth, צְכָאוֹח. Singular צָכָא. 1. The host of heaven, the angels, 1 Kings 22:19; 2. Sun, moon, and stars, Deut. 4:19ff.; 3. generally all beings, Gen. 2:1; Neh. 9:2. God can make all things his hosts. Elohim Zebaoth is in so far the most universal designation of God.


a. The pronouncing the name: the very sacred name of God as the covenant God of Israel. Through superstitious fear, the Jews early began to avoid pronouncing this name. Such a motive seems to be the ground of the translation of the Septuagint (κύριος for Jehovah).

Subsequently a prohibition of the utterance of this name was, by false exposition, supposed to be found in the Commandments, Ex. 20:7, and Lev. 24:11 (Philo, Vita Mosis, tom. iii.). Thence they designated this name as Tetragrammaton, as שֵׁם simply, or as שֵׁם הַמְּפֹרָשׁ, and read in place of it אֲרֹכָי. Hence also the Masorites punctuated the text-name יהוה with the vowels of Adonai, whereby the compounded Schewa became, according to the rules of Hebrew grammar, a simple Schewa. On the combination, however, of the word with prefixes, the A-sound again appeared. Instead of Jehovah the Samaritans said Schimah, that is Schem (name). But where Adonai Jehovah occurs in the text, there they read Adonai Elohim. In consequence of thus avoiding the utterance of this name, the original pronunciation of it has been called in question. On this point compare the lexicons (Diodorus on the word Jao; the Samaritans, according to Theodoret, Jabe; Jao in Clemens Alex.; in Michaelis and Hölemann Jehovah, Reland Jahve) and Delitzsch, p. 68 According to Caspari (on Micha the Morathite) one has the choice between (יַהְיָה) יַהֲוָה (יַהְיֶה) יַהֲוֵה. Delitzsch decides for Jahavah.

b. Origin of the name. For its derivations from foreign religious names, compare Gesenius, Delitzsch, but especially Tholuck: “Miscellaneous Writings,” 1 vol. p. 377.—Here the derivation of the name from foreign names of gods is distinctly denied. But the origin of the name, as the full development of its significance, coincides clearly with the origin of the theocratic consciousness. 3. Etymological signification of the name. The verb lying at the bottom of it is an ancient one, but subsequently became prominent again, היָה = הָוָה. Delitzsch asserts that his word does not signify ἐ͂ιναι but, γίγνεσζαιJehovah, therefore, him “whose Ego is an ever self-continuing one.” Is then this the signification of γίγνεσθαι? And might not a future of γίγνεσθαι contain the progressive idea of an ever becoming God? But the future of הוה cannot exactly indicate the existing one (Hengstenberg). It indicates one who is ever to be or to live; who is ever going to be or live. With the future, in effect, its present is at the same time fixed, as in Ehjeh ascher Ehjeh (Ex. 3:14). And this then also refers back to a corresponding past. Hence the true realistic interpretation of Revelation 1:4, 8: ὁ ὤ καὶ ὁ ἦ καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενον (a correspondence with the inscription of the temple at Sais: ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ γεγονὸς καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενον). In earlier times some were disposed to find the three tenses in the form of the word itself; but this was an ignoring of the grammar. 4. Theocratic signification of the word. We have already observed above, that the name Jahavah expresses the theocratic relation of God (as the God of revelation and the covenant) to his people, in contrast with the universalistic designation of the name Elohim. For more on this head, see below.—יָהּ abridged from יְהוָֹה, or proceeding from an older, or abridged pronunciation of the word יָהוּ. It occurs especially in the poetic and solemn style, hence Hallelu-Jah. Besides, Jah, like El, is found in many proper names. אֲדֹכָי Lord. In this form it is used only of God, while the human possessor or lord is called אָדוֹן (from אָדַן allied to דּ־ן). The form Adonai is explained by many as Pluralis majestatis, by others as a suffix of the plural: my lords=my lord, and further lord absolutely, which explanation Gesenius prefers, for weighty reasons. The word especially occurs 1. in addresses of God, 2. in self-presentations of God, 3. in treating of God generally, and, indeed, frequently with the addition of Jahavah or Elohim.—About the phrase מַלְאָך יְהדָֹה see the proper place.

3. Theocratic universalistic designations. JEHOVAH ELOHIM, JEHOVAH ZEBAOTH, FATHER.

Jehovah Elohim indicates the covenant God of Israel as God of all the world (1 Kings 18:21). From the signification of Jehovah it is plainly evident that Elohim is also Jehovah. Comp. Ex. 6:3, Jehovah Zebaoth. When the God of the kingdom of salvation summons the hosts of heaven and of earth to realize his judgments and the aims of redemption, he is called Jehovah Zebaoth.—אכ Isa. 63:16; 14:7, &c., God as the source of the spiritual existence of Israel, especially of its spiritual life.


The scholastics of the middle ages were mainly of opinion that the Trinity was indicated in the name of Elohim, i. e., the idea of the God of revelation (Petrus Lombardus, especially). The Jewish author of the book “Cosri Rabbi Jehuda Hallev,” of the twelfth century, taught, on the contrary, that the name Elohim had a relation antithetical to the heathen plurality of Gods (which had arisen because the heathen made a God of every appearance of godlike power in the world). The name Elohim was thus the most general name of the Godhead; Jehovah, on the contrary, the covenant God. This distinction has been brought back again in our time by K. H. SACK: De usu nominum dei אלהים et יהוה in libro Geneseos, in his Commentationes ad theologicam historicam, Bonn, 1821.—To this may be added the treatise of Hengstenberg in his work: “Contributions to the Introduction to the Old Testament,” vol. 2d, entitled: “The Names of God in the Pentateuch,” p. 181. Hengstenberg makes the word Jehovah, as future form, Jahve from the Hebrew היה=הוהְ. But that this future shall have only the signification “the Being”, does not appear from the examples connected with it, Jacob, Israel, Jabin.8 Rather do these examples give to the future here the significance of the being which is continually realizing itself, consequently of the being who is going to be, and thus also the passage, Rev. 1:4, interprets the name. Jehovah is the God who becomes man in his covenant-faithfulness, or that which is, and which was, and which is to be. Accordingly then as the name Elohim (not as plural, but as denoting intense fulness) expresses the truth that is found in heathendom, or the concrete primeval monotheism, whilst Jehovah, on the contrary, expresses the peculiarity of the Jewish religion, whose God, in the power of his being ever remaining the same with itself (that is his truthfulness) enters into the absolute future form in the becoming man, so again does the name Jehovah Elohim embrace in its higher unity both Judaism and heathenism, whilst it so far represents Christianity as already budding in the Old Testament (LANGE: “Positive Dogmatics,” p. 56).

The plural9 Elohim has been variously explained. 1. BAUMGARTEN (Richers): It is numerical or collective, and denotes originally God, including the angels, or God in as far as he reveals himself and works through a plurality of spiritual beings. The first definition has a sense different from the second and sounds almost polytheistic. 2. HOFMAN, partly opposed and partly agreeing: The plural is abstractive, neutral; it is the Godhead including a spiritual plurality as the media of an immundane efficacy. 3. ABEN EZRA: An original designation of the angels, then Plur. majestaticus as a designation of God. 4. Original designations of the Gods, then designation of God (HERDER). 5. DELITZSCH: Plural of intensity. God as he who in his one person unites all the fulness divided among the Gods of the heathen. Finally, DELITZSCH again approaches Petrus Lombardus: One cannot say, without effacing the distinction of both Testaments, that אלהיכ is Pluralis trinitatis; but it may be said with perfect correctness, “the Trinitas is the plurality of Elohim which becomes manifest in the New Testament” (see DELITZSCH: Genesis, p. 66 ff.). We assume, on the contrary, that Elohim relates to the circumferential revelation of God in the world and its powers (Isa. 40:28), as Jehovah relates to the central revelation of God in Christ.—Concerning the name Jehovah, Delitzsch declares: “I am, notwithstanding Hengstenberg (Revelation, 1. p. 86) and Hölemann (Bible Studies, vol. 1. p. 59), still of the opinion, that יהוה indicates not so much the becoming as the being (this should read: not so much the being as the becoming), or naturally not him whose existence, but whose revelation of existence, is still in the process of becoming.” According to Baumgarten and Kurtz, Elohim designates the God of the beginning and the end, Jehovah the God of the middle, i. e., of the development moving from the beginning to the end. Delitzsch coincides: “The creation is the beginning and the completion of everything created, according to its idea, is the end. The kingdom of power is to become the kingdom of glory. In the midst lies the kingdom of grace, whose essential content is the redemption. יהוה is the God who mediates between middle and end in the course of this history, in one word, the Redeemer.” And yet the name moreover of the unfolded trinitas? How then could Jehovah, he who was, is, and is to be, be analogous to Jesus Christ, yesterday, to-day, and in eternity? Jehovah is also in the beginning of things and from eternity (see Ev. John. 1:1), as also at the end of days (Ehje ascher Ehje, Ex. 3); Elohim reigns also through the whole course of universal history. We repeat it: the pure and harmonious contrast of Elohim and Jehovah will be recognized only in the contrast of the universalistic and the theocratic revelation of God and idea of religion,—only in the combination of Melchisedek and Abraham, of human culture and theocracy, civilization and churchdom (not civilization and Christianity, because Christianity embraces both, just as the religious consciousness of faith in the Old Covenant).

Therefore it is worth the while to follow the change of the two names through the Old Testament beyond Exodus, 6:3. We can only give hints for this. It is to be expected, according to our distinction, that the universalistic books, Koheleth, Daniel, Jonah, have Elohim almost exclusively. And also that the strong theocratic historical books, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, have mainly Jehovah. In the Proverbs of Solomon the wisdom of God is represented as tending from the founding of the world to theocracy (see Gen 9) and to the founding of a right theocratic deportment; hence we find Jehovah. Also the book of Job, in its prosaic introduction, proceeds from the basis of the Jehovah faith; it becomes, however, in its poetic element universalistic with the name El Eloah. The change in the Psalms is remarkable. Delitzsch remarks on this point, p. 33 (comp. also Gesenius, Thesaurus): “We meet in the Psalter with a similar appearance as discussed in my Symbolœ ad Psalmos illustrandos (1846). The Psalter is divided into two halves, into Elohim-Psalms (Ps. 42–84), which mainly, and almost exclusively, use the name אלהים, and besides are fond of compound names of God, and into Jehovah-Psalms, which include these, and with few exeptions use the name Jehovah. To infer different authors from the use of Elohim or Jehovah, would here be an error; for though the Asaph-Psalms are all Elohim-Psalms, we have from David and the Korahites Psalms of Jehovah as well as of Elohim. One and the same author at one time (?) pleased himself in the use of the divine name Elohim and at another time in the use of the divine name Jehovah. This cannot be explained from any inner grounds lying in the contents of the Psalms. Hengstenberg explains the use of Elohim in the Psalms from this, namely, that in the Davidical—Solomonian times, when the honoring of Jehovah was predominent in Israel, the absoluteness of Jehovah was made prominent as against the heathen; whereas in a later time (when even in Israel itself the honoring of the heathen Elohim was pressing in), even the divine name Elohim became distasteful to the worshippers of Jehovah. But this does not explain how just such and such psalms have the name Elohim.” The Elohistic Psalms extend from the beginning of the second book of Psalms (42.) till towards the end of the third book (Ps. 84.; the end is 89.). If we examine the Elohistic Psalms more closely, the universalistic feature of them soon meets us in manifold ways. Longing for the living God, Ps. 42.; 43. The contrast of the people’s God with the heathen, Ps. 44.; 45.; 46. The calling of the heathen, Ps. 47., and the victory over their resistance, Ps. 48.; 49. A lesson for all nations in the fall of the godless, &c.

That the love of both sacred names has induced the writers alternately to honor God under both, and to adorn themselves with both, as Delitzsch maintains, is not confirmed by the passages quoted by him. For example: Gen. 7:16: They went in (into the ark) as Elohim (the God of prominent natural events) had commanded him, and Jehovah (the God of the covenant faithfulness, or of the yet to be delivered kingdom of God) shut him in. Genesis. 27:27: “The smell of my son is as the smell of a field which Jehovah (the God of the theocratic inheritance) has blessed.” Therefore “Elohim” (the God of every universal blessing of heaven and the world) “give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of earth,” &c. “Nations must serve thee.” Ex. 3:4: “Then Jehovah (the covenant God founding the holy awe in Israel) saw that he turned aside to see, and Elohim (the God of the world-fire in the bush Israel) called unto him out of the midst of the bush.” Still more clear is the distinction between the protecting Jehovah and Elohim as ruling in the dispensations of nature. The temple is Jehovah’s, the ark of the covenant Elohim’s (the moral law embracing all mankind). 1 Kings, 3:5: The Lord appeared to Solomon; and God said, “Ask what I shall give thee;” because it is permitted him to ask for worldly things. The passage Ps. 47:6 is explained by Ps. 47:7. We would observe as especially significant, that Eve in her enthusiastic hope on the birth of Cain names Jehovah, but in her depression at the birth of Seth, Elohim, the God of the universal human blessing. In this spirit also Rachel speaks, Gen 30, of Elohim’s blessing the birth, while it is Jehovah, the God of the theocratic blessing, who gives Leah her first theocratic sons. At Bethel, however, Jacob exclaims: Jehovah is in this place, meaning he who appears as the covenant God; here is the house of God (Beth-El), and the gate of heaven.

With the consciousness and significance of the distinction between the two names, is then also naturally connected the consciousness and significance of their combinations as they so frequently occur in the Psalms and the Prophets.

Moreover it must be remarked that the distinction of a twofold record in Genesis favors the originality of the Mosaic tradition rather than the supposition of a direct composition of it, in which naturally, along with the other indices of later additions, the records lying at the base are also removed from their original sphere. But the question also arises on the distinction of the records, or in how far the same author at a later period of his life can have assumed modifications of style which were not found in him at an earlier date. This transition of style to new ἅπαξ λεγόμενα in the process of composition, is mainly to be noticed in the letters of Paul. A relation similar with that which exists between Isa. 1ff. and Isa. 40ff. could obtain between the Mosaic records before and after those appearings of Jehovah which form a turning-point in the life of Moses.

In their respective places we will treat of the בני אלהים (1 Mos. vi.) and the יחוה מלאד (Gen 16:7).


The Composition of Genesis.

Various hypotheses: 1. The documentary hypothesis. ASTRUC, physician of Louis XIV., published in Brussels, 1753, an article entitled: Conjectures sur les mémoires originaux dont il parait que Moïse s’est servi pour composer le livre Gènese. He sought to prove that Moses formed Genesis from an Elohim record and a Jehovah record, with the aid of ten smaller memoirs. Representatives of this view, under various modifications, were Eichhorn, Jlgen, Gramberg, Stähelin (“Critical Investigations of Genesis,” Basle, 1830), Hupfeld, Böhmer.

2. The fragmentary hypothesis. The basis of Genesis was nothing but single, small fragmentary pieces. Michaelis, Jahn, Vater, Hartmann, Gründe. Various superscriptions, concluding formulas, repetitions, and varieties of style.

3. The complementary hypothesis. The author of the Pentateuch, the Jehovist, had before him an older document, extending from the creation of the world to the death of Joshua, that of the Elohist, and remodeled and extended it. Ewald, de Wette (later view), Bleek, von Bohlen, Stähelin (later view), Tuch, &c.

4. EWALD’S developed hypothesis. Designated by Delitzsch, as the crystallization hypothesis. Four constituent parts form mainly the basis of the Pentateuch: 1. the book of the covenant, written at the time of Samson; 2. the book of the origins (Tholedoth), composed at the time of Solomon;3. a prophetic narrator of the earliest histories, a citizen of the kingdom of Israel at the time of Elias or Joel; 4. a second prophetic narrator from the period between 800 and 750. Ewald distinguishes two Elohists and two Jehovists. The fourth narrator divides himself again into a fourth and fifth, and his compilation of the earlier books receives yet material additions at the time of the Jewish king Manasseh, and of the Jewish exile. It must be observed, that in comparison with these the critical hypotheses on the New Testament are always quite simple in their appearance, and that this has decidedly the character of a book-making hypothesis.

5. The hypothesis of original unity of Genesis (and of the books of the Pentateuch in common). The Rabbins and the older theologians (with exception of Vitringa, Clericus, Richard Simon). EWALD: “The composition of Genesis,” Braunschweig, 1823. Retracted since 1831 (see Bleek, p. 232), Sack, in the work previously quoted. HENGSTENBERG: “The Authenticity of the Pentateuch,” 1836 to 1839. Hävernick, Ranke, Drechsler, Baumgarten, Welte, Kurtz (at an earlier date), Keil.

6. Modified complementary hypothesis. A middle standpoint between the older complementary hypothesis and the unity hypothesis has been taken by Delitzsch, and after him by Kurtz (Vol. 2. of the history of the Old Covenant, p. 1855). According to the view of Delitzsch, the author of the Elohistic sections composed these first, and avoided, or at least seldom used, the name of Jehovah, until the passage Exodus 6:2, where Jehovah declares that he was known to the fathers under the name of El Schadai, not under the name Jehovah. The name El Schadai formed in these sections a connecting link between the name Elohim and Jehovah. The Elohistic parts are distinguished, however, from the later appearing Jehovistic ones, not merely by the diversity of their names of God, but also through a series of otherwise peculiar expressions (see Delitzsch, p. 37). According to this there is formed the following presentation: The nucleus of the Pentateuch is the scroll of the covenant, Exodus. 19–24, written by Moses himself. The remaining laws of the wilderness Moses gave orally, but they were written down by priests in whose calling it lay (Deut. 17:11; 24:8; 33:10; Lev. 10:11; 15:31). These parts were codified soon after the possession of the Holy Land. A man like Eleazer, the son of Aaron, (Num. 26:1; 31:21), wrote the great work beginning with בראשית ברא, in which he took up the scroll of the covenant, and perhaps made but a short report of the last speeches of Moses, because Moses had written them with his own hand. A second, as Joshua (Deut. 32:44; Jos. 24:26; comp. 1 Sam. 10:25), or one of those Elders on whom rested the spirit of Moses, completed this work and embodied in it the whole of Deuteronomy, which Moses had mainly written himself, and indeed a Jehovistic recension of the whole (p. 23), p. 38

The adherents of the complementary hypothesis lie under manifold imputations of having abandoned the presumption of Mosaic originals; the adherents of the unity hypothesis are chargeable with permitting the canonical authorship to commence at the beginning without the originals forming the basis. The hypothesis of Delitzsch is injured by the improbable assumption that Deuteronomy is to be attributed to Moses in great part, and much more early and literally than the preceding books. On the contrary, we can by no means set aside the supposition of the representatives of the unity hypothesis, that the names Elohim and Jehovah alternate with each other in consequence of their internal significance. We believe rather that this significance will receive new importance when we more clearly appreciate the contrast between the universalistic and the theocratic designation of the Old Testament covenant God, of the covenant and the spirit. Without this contrast, the significant names yet want their substruction. Delitzsch distinguishes thus: “This only is true, that the two narrators bring out diverse, yet equally authorized sides of the one truth of revelation. The Jehovist seizes with preference whatever brings out the world-historical position and destiny of Israel, its mediating calling in the midst of the nations of the world, and the universalistic (!) tendency of revelation. He notes just those patriarchal promises of God, which extend beyond the possession of Canaan, and pronounce the blessing of all nations through the mediation of the patriarchs and their seed (Gen 12:2, &c.). On the contrary all the promises of God, that kings will descend from the patriarchs, belong to the report of the Elohist (Gen 17:6, &c.). He has more to do with the priestly royal glory, which Israel has in itself, &c.” This appears to us to be just about the opposite of the real state of the case. The universalistic relation is the relation of God to the Logos in the whole world, to the Sophia, to the godlike in the foundation of humanity and the creation, the circumferential form of revelation. The theocratic relation is the central form of revelation, its relation to the covenants, the theocracy, the historical appearance of the kingdom of God.

We leave it undecided, how far this contrast here also, separately taken, might give an insight into the difference between the Elohistic and the Jehovistic Psalms.

If Moses, as a learned man, according to the Egyptian cultivation of his time, and familiar with the art of writing, could write down the basis of his legislation, or could cause it to be written down (according to Bleek), then we may confidently distinguish two periods in the writing of Moses, the composition of Elohistic memorabilia before the new period of revelation (Gen. 6:3), and Jehovistic memorabilia and laws after it. By considering the effect of Egyptian culture, we can easily explain how (apart from its great significance in itself) the memorabilia of the life of Joseph, on whose life-history reposed the origin of the nation in Egypt, and all right and title of Israel in Egypt, have received so wide an extension. The settlement of the Israelites in Egypt may have also been an inducement to gradually fixing the sacred legends of the people. We permit ourselves therefore to assume a fourfold group of memorabilia (not of complete books), as the foundation for the first four books of the Pentateuch. First, primitive legends reduced to writing; secondly, memorabilia of the life of Joseph; thirdly, Mosaic records from the Elohim or El Schadai period of Gen. 6:3; fourthly, Mosaic records from the Jehovah period. The last group is continued in a fifth, namely, in the Deuteronomic prophesies of Moses. The recension of these parts in the form of the Pentateuch would fall, then, at the latest, into the time of the prophets of the school of Samuel, i. e., into the last days of the era of the Judges; and the recension of Deuteronomy, perhaps, into the period of the development of the Solomonic mode of view.


See the General Commentaries preceding. Then, WALCH: “Biblioth. Theol.” 4. p. 452 ff. WINER: “Theol. Literature,” 1. p. 199. Supplement, p. 31DANZ: “Dictionary,” p. 312. Supplement, p. 38. BLEEK: “Introduction,” p. 110 ff. KEIL: “Introduction,” p. 64. KURTZ: “History of the Old Covenant.” “Introduction,” p. 37 ff. Especially DELITZSCH: Genesis, p. 71 ff. The Patristic literature; mainly Irenaeus, Origen, Eusebius, Cyrillus, Alexandrinus, Hieronymus, Augustinus, &c., p. 73 The Rabbinic literature: Solomon Isaac (Raschi, under the erroneous name Jarchi), Aben Ezra, David Kimschi, &c. P. 57, more general view. The Patristic period and the middle ages. The era of the Reformation, &c.—Here Luther and Calvin precede all (newly published by Hengstenberg, Berlin, 1831). We name Calvinus and Gerhard of the Lutherans, and the Reformed, Mercerus, Grotius, Spencer, Clericus, &c. We miss especially Zwingli, Coccejus, Venema, Dissertationes ad Genesin, 1747. Specially quoted and justly blamed; JACOB BÖHME: Mysterium magnum (an accompaniment, SOHWEDENBORG, Arcana cœlestia. Mainly what is found in Genesis. German by TAFEL, 1855).—Recently: Michaelis, Severin Father, von Bohlen, Rosenmüller’s Comments, Schuman, and then the more weighty commentaries of Tuch and Knobel. With respect to the deeper investigation of Old Testament Exegesis are named: Herder (“The oldest Record of the Human Race,” Riga, 1774), Hamann, Dr. Leidemit by Moser, F. A. Krummacher’s “Paragraphs on Sacred History” (1818), the unfinished Commentary of Tiele (Erlangen, 1836), the Theol. Commentary on the Pentateuch by Michael Baumgarten (Kiel, 1843 and 1844), Hofmann, Prophecy and Fulfilment. Bible lessons on Genesis by Heim (Stuttgart, 1845). Exposition of Genesis by F. W. J. Schröder (Berlin, 1846), “A collection in which all remarkable things ever said of Genesis are arranged on the thread of the author’s peculiar and fundamental understanding.” Less prominent names are numerous, viz., in respect to criticism and isolated articles; for instance, modern: Giesebrecht, Rüdiger, Ilgen, Larsow, Berlin, 1843. Pustkuchen, the Primal History of Mankind, Lemgo, 1821. The same, Historical Critical Investigations, Halle, 1823.—Critical Investigations: Hengstenberg, Supplements, Ranke, Drechsler, Kurtz, 1846. (Sörenson, profane, eccentric.) Hupfeld, 1853.—Böhmer, liber Genesis, Halle, 1860. The same, the first book of the Thorah, Halle, 1862. Rahmer, Quaestiones in Genesin, Breslau, 1863. Also von Schrank, Commentarius in Genesin, 1835. Delitzsch, Commentary on Genesis, 3d ed. Leipzig, Franke, 1860. Delitzsch and Keil (see Pentateuch). Wright, the book of Genesis, London, Williams and Norgate, 1859. Leipzig, Hartmann.


See Winer, Theological Literature, p. 115 ff.—Val. Herberger, Beyer, History of the Primal world in Sermons. Leop. Schmid, Explanations of the sacred writings, 3 numbers to Genesis 25:18, Münster, 1834. Heim, Bible lessons (Stuttgart, 1845; see above). Wünsche, Bible lessons, 1st and 2d part (1st part: Genesis, 2d part: Job), Berlin, 1858. Schwenke, Bible lessons on Genesis, 2 vols. Erfurt, 1860. (Dietrich, Old Testament Bible lessons.) Taube, 43 sermons on running texts of Genesis, Breslau, Dülfer, 1858. See Literature of the Old Testament and the Pentateuch.

[To this list of special works on Genesis add the following: English; The Holy Bible, Genesis and Exodus, by CHARLES WORDSWORTH, D.D., Canon of Westminster, London, 1864. A critical and exegetical commentary on the book of Genesis, by JAMES MURPHY, Professor of Hebrew, Belfast, Edinburg, 1863. American: Questions and notes on Genesis, by GEORGE BUSH, 1832. Notes, critical and explanatory on the book of Genesis, from the creation to the covenant, by MELANOHTON W. JACOBUS, New York, 1865. Exegetical Commentary on Genesis, by SAMUEL H. TURNER, D.D., Professor of Biblical Learning, Columbia College, New York.—T. L.]



See the paragraphs of the Introduction on the practical Exposition of the Old Testament. Also “Matthew,” p. 11, DANTZ, p. 313. Winer, 1. p. 200. Joh. Philoponus, in caput 1. Geneseos edit. Corderius, Vienna, 1630. Eichhorn: Primeval History, 2 vols. Altorf, 1790. Hasse: Discoveries in the Field of the Oldest History of Earth and Man, 2 pts. Halle and Leipzig, 1801. Werner, Historical Comprehension of the first three chapters of Genesis; with a Supplement on the Genuineness of Deuteronomy, Tübingen, 1829. HUG: De opere sex dierum, Freiburg, 1827. Beke: Origenes biblicae, or Researches in Primeval History, London, 1834. Buckland: Geology and Mineralogy, considered with reference to Natural Theology, London, 1836. Hitchcock: The Religion of Geology, &c., Glasgow, 1857. Hugh Miller: The Testimony of the Rocks on Geology, Edinburgh, 1857. Reginald Stuart Poole: The Genesis of the Earth and of Man, &c., London, 1860 (see the notice of Zöckler: Periodical of Theol. Literature, N. 5 and 6, 1861). Kalisch: Historical and Critical Commentary of the Old Testament Genesis, London, 1858. Godefroy: La Cosmogonie de Révélation, Paris, 1861. Marcel de Senes: The Cosmogonie of Moses, in German, Tübingen, 1841. Waterkeyn: Kosmos hieros. Quoted by Delitzsch (p. 609): American writings of Hitchcock, Smith, Crofton; especially the Treatise by Means: The Narrative of the Creation in Genesis, in the American Bibliotheca Sacra, with special reference to Guyot’s Lectures on the Harmony of the Mosaic account of the Creation with modern Science, delivered in New York, 1852. Tholuck: What is the result of Science in reference to the primeval world? At the same time a catalogue of the most important writings on this subject. In his miscellaneous writings, 2d part, p. 148 ff. Lange’s Miscellaneous Writings, vol. i. p. 49 ff.; p. 74 ff. Lange: The Land of Glory, with reference to Pfaff: Man and the Stars. Kurtz: The Bible and Astronomy. (Schaden: Theodicy, Karlsruhe, 1842.) Keil: Apologia Mosaicae Traditionis, &c., Dorpat, 1839. O. Heer: Harmony of the Creation, Zürich, 1847. Fred. de Rougemont (see “Matthew,” p. v.): Fragmens d’une Histoire de la terre, d’après la Bible, Neufchatel, 1811. The same: Du monde dans ses rapports avec Dieu, Neufchatel, 1841. Histoire de la terre, 1856, German, by Fabarius Mutzl: The Primeval History of the Earth, Landshut, 1843. Hugo Reinsch: The Creation, 1856. Euen: The History of the Creation, according to the Researches of Modern Science in its Connection with the Faith and the Church, Referat, Stettin, 1855. Flasbar: Whether the astronomical contradicts the Christian View of the World, Berlin, 1857. Ebrard: The Faith in the Holy Writ and the Result of Researches into Nature, Königsberg, 1861. (The writings on this subject by Richers. Wolf: Primeval History of Genesis, 1:6–8.) Jahn: Nature in the Light of Divine Revelation, and the Revelation of God in Nature, Berlin, Schulze. Nature and Revelation, organ for the mediation between natural researches and faith (a periodical), Münster, Aschendorf, 1855 ff. Böhner: 1. The Freely Inquiring Bible Theology and its Opponents, Zürich, Orell, Füssli. 2. Researches of Nature and Civilized Life. 3. Kosmos, Bible of Nature, Hanover, Rümpler, 1862. Zöckler: Theologia naturalis. Plan of a systematic natural Theology, Frankfort on the Main and Erlangen, 1860. Möller: History of the Cosmology in the Grecian Church until Origen, with Special Investigations of the Gnostic Systems, Halle, 1860. Keerl: Man the Image of God. His relation to Christ and the world. An Essay on Primeval History, Basle, 1861. Wisemann: On the Connection between the Results of scientific Investigation and Religion. Pianciani (of the Collegium Romanum): Elucidations of the Mosaic History of the Creation. Von Schrank: Hexaemeron, Augsburg, 1838. Gfrörer: The Primeval History of the Human Race, Schaffhausen, 1855. Reinke: The Creation of the World, 1859. Reusch: Lectures on the Mosaic History and its Relation to the Results of Investigations in Nature, Bonn, Freiburg, 1862. Works on the Creation from the scientific stand-point, by Andreas Wagner (Neptunism), and others. See Delitzsch, p. 110. Schubert: The Structure of the World. Quenstedt: Epochs of Nature, Tübingen, 1860. Pfaff: History of the Creation, Frankfort on the Main, 1855. (Hudson Tuttle: History and Laws of the Process of Creation, German, Erlangen, 1860. A flood of kindred popular writings and periodical articles.) Treatises, see Kurtz, p. 55. Of great merit is the recension of the work of Buckland, Geology and Mineralogy, considered with reference to Natural Theology, by W. Hoffmann in Tholuck’s Literary Advertiser, 1838, Nr. 44 ff. Baer: Which comprehension of animated nature is the just one? Berlin, 1862.


Materialistic: Moleschott, Büchner, Vogt, Czolbe, &c. Mayer in Mentz, Materialism and Spiritualism, Giessen, 1861. Periodicals, Treatises, Articles.

Counter-publications: R. Wagner: Creation of Man and Substance of the Soul. A. Wagner, Liebig, Fabri: Letters against Materialism. Schellwien: Criticism of Materialism. Woysch: Materialism and the Christian View of the World. Ewen, Berlin, 1856. Schaller, Weber: Materialism and the People’s School, Stendal, 1856. Alb. von Gloss (especially against Büchner and Vogt). Michelis: Materialism and Implicit Faith. “Circular to the Representatives of Modern Materialism in Germany. Cotta, Burmeister, Rosmässler, Müller, Uhle, Czolbe.” Baltzer: The new Fatalists of Materialism. Froschamer: Walhalla of German Materialists, Münster, 1861. Bona Meyer: Critical View of materialistic controversial Literature, Evangelical Church Gazette, 1356, June, &c.

Homiletics: Harms: On the Creation, 9 sermons, Kiel, 1834. (Free discursive texts. The treatment of the subject occasionally extravagant.) See the more general collections to Genesis, Deuteronomy, and the General Introduction.



See “Matthew.” The article-Eden in Winer’s Real-Lexicon. Monographs by Huetius, Hopkinson, Schulthess, &c. Bertheau: The Fundamental Geographical Conceptions in the Description of Paradise, Göttingen, 1848.

Comp. Kurtz: History of the Old Covenant, p. 57 ff. K. von Raumer: Palestine. Maydorn: The Gospel of Paradise. Eight Lent-Sermons, Breslan, Dülfer.

Male and female sex. Anthropological Works. Works on marriage.

Unity of the Human Race. See “ Matthew.” Lücken: Unity of the Human Race, Hanover, 1845. See A Catalogue of the Opponents and Defenders of the Unity of Descent, Kurtz, p. 61. Lange’s Positive Dogmatics, p. 330.

Anthropology and Psychology. Hug: The Mosaic History of Man, Frankfort and Leipzig, 1793. Outlines of the Doctrine of the Soul from the Sacred Writ, by Roos. From the Latin Stuttgardt, 1857. Hausmann. Beck: Scriptural Doctrine of the Soul, 2d ed. Zeller: Concise Psychology, 3d ed., Calw, 1857. Delitzsch: Scriptural Psychology, 2d ed. Von Rudloff: The Doctrine of Man, founded on Divine Revelation. Anthropology of Steffens, by J. H. Fichte, Leipzig, 1858. Schubert: History of the Soul. H. A. Hahn: Commentatio Veteris Testamenti de natura hominis exposita. Language. Fr. Schlegel: Philosophy of History, p. 44 ff. Schmitthenner: Primitive Grammar. Herder, Hamann, W. von Humboldt: On the Kavi-Language. Introduction. Jacob Grimm: The Origin of Language, Berlin, 1852. Stövesand: The Mystery of the Language of God in Man, Gotha, Perthes. Immortality. See DANTZ: articles Immortality, Sleep of the Soul, Migration of Souls. Add Supplement, p. 108. Oehler: Veteris Testamenti sententia de rebus post mortem futuris, Stuttgardt, 1846. A. Schumann: The Doctrine of Immortality of the Old and New Testament. Böttcher. Brecher: The Doctrine of Immortality as held by the Jewish People, Leipzig, 1857. Engelbert: The Negative Merit of the Old Testament in Relation to the Doctrine of Immortality, Berlin, 1857. A. Fichte: The Idea of Personality and continued Individual Existence, Elberfeld, 1834. Lange’s Philosophical Dogmatics, p. 243. Weisse: The Philosophical Mystery of Immortality, Dresden, Kori. H. Ritter: Immortality. First volume of Entertaining Instruction, Leipzig, Brockhaus, 1851. Gumposch: The Soul and its Future, St. Gallen, 1849. Schultz. Splittgerber: Death, Life after Death, and Resurrection. A biblical apologetical Essay, Halle, 1862. Religion. See Winer: Theological Literature, i. p. 28. Supplement, p. 45, &c.



Nysa: Philosophic-historical Treatise on Genesis 2d and 3d. Eleutheropolis, 1790. Schelling: Antiquissimi de prima malorum humanorum origine Philosophematis Gen. 3 explicatio, Tübingen, 1792. Writings on the Sin of Man, Krabbe, J. Müller. See also the catalogue in Kurtz: History of the Old Covenant, p. 61. Umbreit: Sin. Supplement to the Theology of the Old Testament, Hamburg, 1853. Bräm: The Fall. Illustration of the 3d chapter of Genesis, Barmen, 1857. Gräber: Sermons on the Lost Paradise.



See Literature, Kurtz, p. 71. On the extension of the Human Race.


On the Macrobians., See Kurtz, p. 73 ff.


Fr. de Rougemont: Le Peuple primitif. Several volumes, Paris and Geneva. H. Kurtz: The Marriages of the Sons of God with the Daughters of Men, Berlin, 1857. The same: The Sons of God, in Genesis 6:1, 4, and the Sinning Angels, in 2 Pet. 2:4, 5, and Jude 1:6-7. Polemic treatise against Hengstenberg, Mitau, 1858. See also Kurtz: History of the Old Covenant, pp. 76 and 77.



Buttmann: On the Myth of the Flood, Berlin, 1812 (’19). Stollberg: History of Religion and the Church, 1 vol. Further literature: Kurtz, p. 80 ff. Cröner: 18 Sermons from the History of the Flood, Erfurt, 1568. Gessner: Noah, Five Addresses to Christians, Basle, 1823.



See Kurtz: History of the Old Covenant, p. 88 ff. A. Feldhoff: The Line of Epochs of the Holy Writ, from Adam to the Pentecost, Frankfort on the Main, 1831. The Genealogical Table of Genesis in its Universal Historical Significance, Elberfeld, 1837. Krücke: Illustrations of the Genealogical Table, Bonn, 1837. Knobel: The Genealogy of Genesis, Giessen, Ricker, 1850. Breiteneicher: Nineveh and Nahum. With reference to the latest discoveries, Munich, 1861. Layard: Popular Report on the Excavations at Nineveh, German by Meissner, Leipsic, Dyk, 1852.



Kurtz, p. 86 ff. Kaulen: Confusion of Tongues at Babel, Mainz, 1861. Niebuhr: Babylon.

Heathendom. Döllinger: Heathendom. Stiefelhagen. Writings of Lasaulx, Nägelsbach, Wuttke, Möhler, and others. See Kurtz, p. 91. Fabri: The Rise of Heathendom and the Problem of Heathen Missions, Barmen, 1869. Lübker: Lectures on Civilization and Christianity, Hamburg, 1863.



See Kurtz, pp. 104 and 116, especially 119 and 129. Heidegger: De historia sacra Patriarcharum, Exercitationes selectae, Amsterdam, 1667. J. J. Hess: History of the Patriarchs, with maps, 2 vols. Zürich, 1776. Mel: The Life of the Patriarchs, 2 parts, Frankfort, 1714 (on the last Chapters of Genesis).

A. Abraham

See Danz: Abraham, p. 14. Winer: Scriptural Real-lexicon. Biblical Dictionary, by Zeller. Herzog: Theological Encyclopedia. So also the following names. Roos: Footsteps of the Faith of Abraham in the Descriptions of the Life of the Patriarchs and the Prophets. Newly published, Tübingen, 1837. Bachmann: Sermons on the History of Abraham. Passavant: Abraham and Abraham’s Children. By the author of Naeman, 2d ed. Basle, 1861. W. Heuser: Abraham’s Doings, in 12 sermons. A parting Gift, Barmen, 1861. Boswinkel: Fourteen Sermons on the Life of Abraham, Barmen, Bertelsman. Bräm: Traits of the Domestic Life of Abraham, Neukirchen and Solingen, 1855.—On the angel of the Lord. Kurtz, p. 144, and the treatise in its respective place. Ishmael. See Kurtz, p. 203.

B. Isaac.

See Kurtz, p. 203 ff. The Talmud accounts of him in Otho: Lexicon Talmud. Passages of the Koran in Hottinger’s Biblioth. Orient.

C. Jacob. The Blessing of Jacob.

See Danz, p. 315. Jacob’s History, by Seeger (in Klaiber’s Studies 1:3:60–81). G. D. Krummacher: Jacob’s Contest and Victory, 4th ed. Elberfeld, 1857. Alting Schilo, Franeker, 1660. Chr. Schmidt, Giessen, 1793. Friedrich, Hoffmann (Andreas Wilhelm), Stähelin, Werlin, Zirkel, Petersen (see Danz: Genesis, and Winer i. p. 199). Diestel: The Blessing of Jacob, Braunschweig, Schwetsche, 1853.

D. Joseph

See Danz, p. 315 and p. 4713. Winer: Biblical Dictionary. Zeller: Biblical Dictionary. Herzog. Felix Herder: The History of Joseph in Sermons, Zürich, 1784. Teachings from the History of Joseph. First part, Frankfort on the Main, 1816.


Under the universo-cosmical point of view, Genesis is divided into two main divisions: the history of the primeval world before the flood (Gen 1–8) and the history of the theocratic primeval period after the flood (Gen 8–1).

Heidegger: Enchiridion; 1. Historia originis rerum omnium, Gen 1:11. 2. Historia mundi prioris, Gen 3–8. 3. Historia posterioris mundi, Gen 9–1. Delitzsch: “If we divide all history into the two great halves of a history of primeval time and a history of the mid-world, separated by the beginning of sin and the plan of redemption going into effect (Cocceius), Genesis embraces the complete history of the early world (Gen 11–3). It also follows the history of the after-world through three periods, whose first extends from the Fall to the Flood (Gen 4–8:14), the second from the covenant with Noah to the dispersion of the human race in nations and languages (Gen 8:15–11), the third from the choosing of Abraham to the settlement of the family of Jacob in Egypt (Gen 12–50). These first three periods are the first three stages of the history of salvation, into which, through divine mercy, the world and the history of nations is shaped.”

In the mean while the theocratic point of view predominates, and under it also Genesis appears to fall firstly into two halves: The history of primal religion, from Gen 1–11, and the history of the patriarchs, Gen 12–50.

Thus Kirchofer: Bibliology, p. 16: “Genesis is consequently divided into general and special history.”

If we look however more closely, there are three main divisions in contrast with each other. 1. The history of the primeval world and earliest period of the human race, as the history of the primal religion (or the Tholedoth of heaven and earth (Gen. 2:4), and the Tholedoth of Adam (Gen 5:1) until the development of heathendom (Gen 12)). 2. The history of the patriarchal faith or the religion of promise, or the Tholedoth of Shem, &c., to the Tholedoth of Jacob, from Gen 12:1–36:43. \\3. The history of the Genesis of the people of Israel in Egypt out of the twelve tribes of Israel: from the Tholedoth of Jacob, Gen 37, to the death of Joseph in Egypt, under the prophetic prospect of the return of Israel to Canaan (Gen 50:26).

Schneider: Compendium of the Christian religion (Bielefeld, 1860): “We would divide Genesis most simply according to its five heroes: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, did it not contain in itself a decimal division (the ten Tholedoth).”

If we keep in view their different relapses into sin and their turning again to redemption, it may be appropriate to distinguish: a. the foundation-laying in creation, Gen 1 and 2; b. the general fall of man, Gen 3–5; c. the fall of the first human race, Gen 6–10; d. the building of the tower of Babel (heathendom and the patriarchal state), Gen 11–36; e. the sin of the brothers of Joseph and its event, Gen 37–50 (Isaac’s error and its event, an episode, Gen 28–36)

If we keep in view their different relapses into sin and their turning again to redemption, it may be appropriate to distinguish: a. the foundation-laying in creation, Gen 1 and 2.; b. the general fall of man, Gen 3–5; c. the fall of the first human race, Gen 6–10; d. the building of the tower of Babel (heathendom and the patriarchal state), Gen 11–36; e. the sin of the brothers of Joseph and its event, Gen 37–50 (Isaac’s error and its event, an episode, Gen 28–36).

The name Genesis, referring to the initial word of the book (בראשית) and to its foundation, may indicate in the first place the origin of the world and the human race. But we can also conclude from the frequent headings “Tholedoth” (תולדות) which mark individual sections, that it is especially chosen in reference to the contents of the entire book, or the human origins in general (origin of sin, of judgment, salvation, final judgment, renewal of the world, heathendom, covenant religion, and the Israelitish nation). Hence Vaihinger (in Herzog’s Real-Lexicon) and Delitzsch in his Commentary have divided Genesis according to the separate Tholedoth, Delitzsch counts ten Tholedoth. 1. Tholedoth of heaven and earth, Gen 1:1–4:26; \\2. Tholedoth of Adam, Gen 5:1–6:8; \\3. Tholedoth of Noah, Gen 6:9–9:29; \\4. Tholedoth of the sons of Noah, Gen 10:1–11:9; \\5. Tholedoth of Shem, Gen 11:10–26; 6. Tholedoth of Terah, Gen 11:27–25:11; \\7. Tholedoth of Ishmael, Gen 25:12–18; 8. Tholedoth of Isaac, Gen 25:19–35:29; \\9. Tholedoth of Esau, Gen 36:10; 10. Tholedoth of Jacob, Gen 37–50.

Besides the headings Tholedoth, Gen 2:3; 5:1; 6:9, &c., the fact, that the Bible throughout has the point of view of the personal life, and that the Tholedoth as generations seem to correspond to it, would especially favor this division. But in that case we should not, at least, speak of the Tholedoth of heaven and earth before the Tholedoth of Adam, as Delitzsch does. And it is just this Genesis of heaven and earth, which cannot properly be designated by the word Tholedoth, that has, nevertheless, mainly given to the book its name. We ought also to distinguish between the documentary genealogical foundations of Genesis, its ideal unitary composition, and the ideal construction which proceeds from it. Therefore we seek such a division of Genesis as results from the actual distinction of its principal periods, and the essential arrangements of these periods.


History of the primeval world, of the earliest period of the human race as history of the earliest religion till the development of heathendom and its contrast in the budding patriarchdom, Gen 1–11.

I. DIVISION. The Genesis of the world, of the contrast between heaven and earth, and of the first man, Gen 1 and 2.

1st Section. Heaven, earth, and man. The physico-genetical creation and world development, Gen 1:1–2:3.

2d Section. Man, Paradise, the pair, and the institutions of Paradise. The reversed principial development, proceeding from man. The symbol of the Tree of Life, Gen 2:4–25.

II. DIVISION. The Genesis of the world-history, of the temptation, of the sin of man, of the judgment, of death, of salvation, of the contrast between a divine and worldly direction in humanity, of the common ruin. The anomism of antediluvian sin, Gen 3:1–6:7.

1st Section. The Lost Paradise, Gen 3.

2d Section. Cain and Abel. The Cainites. The ungodly, secular first culture, Gen 4:1–24.

3d Section. Adam and Seth. The Sethites or Macrobians. The living worship and the blessing of renewed life in the line of the sons of God, Gen 4:25–5:32.

4th Section. The universal godless ruin in consequence of the mixture of both lines, Gen 6:1–7.

III. DIVISION. The Genesis of the judgment of the world and its renewing by means of the separating flood. The flood and the drowned race. The ark and the saved humanity. (The ark a type of the pious house, of the pious state, of the church.) The first typical covenant, Gen 6:8–11:19.

1st Section. The calling of Noah and the ark, Gen 6:8–7:10.

2d Section. The flood and the judgment of death, Gen 7:7–24.

3d Section. The ark, the saved and renewed humanity, Gen 8:1–19.

4th Section. The first typical covenant. The original moral law (commandments of Noah). The symbol of the rainbow, Gen 8:20–11:19.

IV. DIVISION. Genesis of the new world-historical human race; of the contrast between the new sin and the new piety, as they respectively appear, between curse and blessing. The Genesis of the contrast between the blessing of Shem (worship, germinating theocracy) and the blessing of Japheth (culture, humanism), of the contrast between the dispersion of nations and the Babylonian union of nations, between the Babylonian dispersion of nations, or the mythical heathendom, and the united symbolical faith in God or patriarchdom, Gen 11:20–11:32.

1st Section. The revelation of sin and piety in Noah’s house. The curse and the blessing of Noah. The double blessing and the blessing in the curse itself, Gen 11:24–29.

2d Section. The genealogical table, Gen 10:1–22.

3d Section. The building of the tower of Babel, the confusion of tongues, and the dispersion of nations, Gen 11:1–9.

4th Section. The history of Shem, and the wandering, commenced and interrupted, of Terah to Canaan. The Genesis of the contrast between heathendom and the budding patriarchdom, Gen 11:10–32.


The Genesis of the patriarchal faith in promise, and the covenant religion; of the hostile contrast between faith in promise and heathendom; of the friendly contrast between the patriarchs and the humanity of the heathen world. Patriarchal religion and patriarchal custom, Gen 12:1–36:43.


1st Section. Abraham’s journey to Canaan. His call. The first promise of God. His fellowship with Lot. First appearance of God in Canaan, and first homeless alienage in the promised land. Abraham in Egypt, Pharaoh, Gen 12.

2d Section. Abraham as a testimony of God in Canaan, and his self-denying separation from Lot. New promise of God. His altar in the plains of Mamre, Gen 13.

3d Section. Abraham and his war of deliverance for Lot against heathen robbery. The

victorious warrior of the faith and his greeting to the prince of peace Melchisedek. His bearing towards the king of Sodom and his confederates, Gen 14.

4th Section. Abraham the tried warrior of the faith, and God his shield. His longing for an heir, and his thought of adoption. The great promise of God. Abraham’s faith in view of the starry heaven. The symbol of the starry heaven. The righteousness of faith, the covenant of the faith, and the repeated promise, Gen 15.

5th Section. Abraham’s yielding to Sarah’s impatience. Abraham and Hagar. Hagar’s flight. The angel of the Lord. Hagar’s return and Ishmael’s birth, Gen 16.

6th Section. Abraham and the repeated promise of God. The name Abram changed to Abraham. The personal covenant of faith now a covenant institution for him, his house and his name. Circumcision. The name Sarai changed to Sarah. Not Ishmael but Isaac the promised one, Gen 17.

7th Section. Abraham in the plains of Mamre and the three heavenly men. Hospitality of Abraham. The distinct announcement of the birth of a son. Sarah’s doubt. The announcement of the judgment on Sodom connected with the promise of the heir of blessing. The angel of the Lord, or the friend of Abraham, and the two angels of deliverance for Sodom. Abraham’s intercession for Sodom. Sodom’s fall. Lot’s deliverance. Lot and his daughters. Moab and Ammon, Gen 18 and 19.

8th Section. Abraham and Abimelech of Gerar. His and Sarah’s renewed exposure through his human calculating foresight, as in Egypt in the presence of Pharaoh. Divine preservation. Abraham’s intercession for Abimelech, Gen 20.

9th Section. Isaac’s birth. Ishmael’s expulsion. The covenant of peace with Abimelech at Beer Sheba, Gen 21.

10th Section. Sacrifice of Isaac. The sealing of the faith of Abraham. The completion and sealing of the divine promise, Gen 22:1–19.

11th Section. Abraham’s family joy and suffering. News of birth in the home land. Sarah’s death. Her burial at Hebron; the germ of the future acquisition of Canaan, Gen 22:20–23:20.

12th Section. Abraham’s care for the marriage of Isaac. Eleazer’s wooing of Rebecca for Isaac. Isaac’s marriage, Gen 25.

13th Section. Abraham’s second marriage. Keturah and her sons. His death and burial, Gen 25:1–10.


1st Section. Isaac and Ishmael, Gen 15:11–18.

2d Section. Jacob and Esau, Gen 25:19–34.

3d Section. Isaac in the territory of Abimelech at Gerar. Appearance of God and confirmed promise. His constrained imitation of the maxims of his father. Exposure of Rebecca. His yielding to the injustice of the Philistines, Gen 26:1–22.

4th Section. Isaac in Beer Sheba. Treaty of peace with Abimelech, Gen 26:23–33.

5th Section. Isaac’s sorrow at Esau’s marriage with the daughters of Canaan, Gen 26:34 and 35.

6th Section. Isaac’s prepossession in favor of the first-born, Esau. Rebecca and Jacob deprive him of the theocratic blessing. Esau’s blessing. Esau’s hostility to Jacob. Rebecca’s preparation for the flight of Jacob and his journey with a view to a theocratic marriage. Isaac’s commands for the journey of Jacob (counterpart to the dismissal of Ishmael). Esau’s pretended correction of his injudicious marriages, Gen 27–28:9.


1st Section. Jacob’s journey to Mesopotamia and the ladder of heaven at Bethel, Gen 28:10–22.

2d Section. Jacob and Rachel, Laban’s younger daughter. First and second treaty with Laban. His involuntary consummation of marriage with Leah. The double marriage. Leah’s sons. Rachel’s dissatisfaction. The strife of the two women. The concubines. Jacob’s blessing of children, Gen 29:1–30:24.

3d Section. Jacob’s thought of returning home. New treaty with Laban. His closely calculated proposition. (Prelude to the method of acquiring possession of the Egyptian vessels.) God’s command to return home, Gen 30:25–31:3.

4th Section. Jacob’s flight. Laban’s persecution. The alliance between both on the mountain of Gilead. Departure, Gen 31:4–55.

5th Section. Jacob’s journey home. The appearance of the hosts of angels (as on his setting out). Fear of Esau. His wrestling in the night with God. The name Israel. Meeting and reconciliation with Esau, Gen 32:1–33:16.

6th Section. Jacob’s settlement in Canaan. At Succoth. At Sichem. Dinah. Simeon and Levi. The first appearance of Jewish fanaticism. Jacob’s reproof, and departure for Bethel, Gen 33:17–35:15.

7th Section. Journey from Bethel to beyond Bethlehem. Benjamin’s birth. Rachel’s death, Gen 35:18–21.

8th Section. Reuben’s transgression. Jacob’s sons. His return to Isaac at Hebron. (Rebecca no more among the living.) Isaac’s death. Burial of him by Esau and Jacob, Gen 35:22–29.

9th Section. Esau’s family record and the Horites, Gen 36.


The Genesis of the people of Israel in Egypt from the twelve tribes of Israel, or the history of Joseph and his brothers. Joseph, the patriarch of the faith-guidance, through humiliation to exaltation, Gen 37–50.

1st Section. Jacob’s error in respect to Joseph. Joseph’s dreams. The envy of the brothers. Joseph sold into Egypt, Gen 37.

2d Section. Judah’s transient separation from his brothers (probably in dissatisfaction at their deed). His sons. Tamar, Gen 38.

3d Section. Joseph in the house of Potiphar and in prison, Gen 39.

4th Section. Joseph as interpreter of the dreams of his fellow-prisoners, Gen 40.

5th Section. Joseph as interpreter of the dreams of Pharaoh. He is advanced and cared for, Gen 41.

6th Section. The famine, and the first journey of the sons of Jacob to Egypt, Gen 42.

7th Section. Second journey. With Benjamin. Joseph makes himself known to his brethren. Their return. Jacob’s joy, Gen 44–45.

8th Section. Israel goes with his house to Egypt. He settles in the land of Goshen. Jacob before Pharaoh. Joseph’s political economy. Jacob’s arrangement for his burial in Canaan, Gen 46 and 47.

9th Section. Jacob’s sickness, his blessing of his grandchildren, Joseph’s sons, Gen 48.

10th Section. Jacob’s blessing on his sons. Judah and his brethren. Jacob’s last charge. His burial in Canaan. His end, Gen 49.

11th Section. Joseph’s mourning. Jacob’s funeral in Canaan. The fear of Joseph’s brethren and his word of peace and faith concerning them and his history. Joseph’s last charge; provision for his return to Canaan in death, similar to the provision of his father, Gen 50.





As there is no chapter in the Bible more important than the First of Genesis, so also may it be said that there is no one whose interpretation is more likely to be affected by the prejudgments, popular, scientific, or philosophical, which the reader brings with him. Dr. Lange is remarkably full and clear on this portion of Holy Writ, but as its great subject has given rise to much discussion in this country, the American Editor has deemed it no disparagement to the learned author of this commentary to present a few general and fundamental ideas by way of special introduction to the American reader.

It has been found convenient to divide it into five parts.



Essential Ideas of Creation. Creation as the origin of matter. As the giving form to matter. Relative importance of the two ideas. Question in relation to the principium mentioned in Genesis. Whether to be regarded as the absolute or a particular beginning. Opinions of Jewish interpreters. Is the creation mentioned in the first verse intra sex dies?


The Hexaëmeron. Nature and duration of the days. The distinction of Augustine. The account self-interpreting. The Light, the Darkness. The word Day. The Morning and the Evening. Each Day an Appearing. Each Day a Beginning, but its work continuing in those that follow. Ps. 139:15, 16.


Helps in the interpretation of the First of Genesis to be derived from other portions of scripture. The Fourth Commandment. Proverbs 8. Micah 5:1. Psalm 104. Job 38., 28., &c.


The Ideas of Law, of Nature, and the Supernatural, as found in the Bible. Distinction between the Idea of a Law and its Science. Distinction between the Supernatural and the Miraculous. “The Finger of God.” The Great Natural.


How was the creative account revealed? Its Grandeur and Simplicity. Other Cosmogonies copies. This an Original Picture. The Vision theory. Internal Evidence. Compared with the Apocalypse. Objective and Subjective Revelation. Vision of the Past analogous to Prophecy, or Vision of the Future.



He who made one world in space, made all worlds in space. He who made one world in time, made all worlds in time. He who gave matter its forms, gave it its origination, or that which is the ground of all its forms.

These truths are so inseparably linked together by the laws of our thinking, that the revelation of one is the revelation of the rest; since we cannot believe one speculatively without believing all the rest, or deny one logically without losing our faith in all the rest. Whatever view, then, a true exegesis may most favor,—whether the account in Genesis be found to have in view, mainly or solely, a universal or a partial creation, whether the principium there mentioned be the particular beginning of the special work there described, or the principium principiorum, the beginning of all beginnings,—the Bible is, in either case, a protest againt the dogma of the eternity of the world, or of the eternity of matter. In the fact clearly revealed and believed that a personal divine power was concerned in the creation, even of a plant, we have the essential faith. As a dogma merely, the great truth might have been here expressed in a single sentence: “God made all things to be, and without him there was nothing made that is”—even as it is given to us in John 1:2. Why then this most graphic and detailed account of the creative work? It is the same design, we answer, that appears in the other historical revelations that are made to us in the Scripture. It is to impress us with the glory of the creator, to make the thought something more than a speculative belief, to give it strength and vividness so as to become a living power in our souls. Whatever exegesis has the greatest tendency to do this, is most likely to be true in itself, and is the most favorable to the absolute verity.

The best Jewish commentators, such as Aben Ezra and Rabbi Schelomo, attach much importance to the fact that ראשית, Gen. 1:1, is grammatically in the construct state, and therefore limited by something of which it is the beginning. It really is so in form here, and in actual regimen everywhere else, except in Deut. 33:21, which Lange cites. Even there, however, the construct form has its limiting meaning: וירא ראשית לו “and he provided the chief part for himself”—that is, the chief part of the territory. It was no poverty of language that compelled the choice of ראשית. A word used absolutely, and of the undoubted absolute form, such as דאשונה or בראשונה, might have been employed to denote an absolute principium, unlimited, ante omnes res alias, unconditioned by any other things or times,—first, and first of all. The construct form (since there is nothing arbitrary in language) must denote, or would best denote, the beginning of a creation, or of some creation, or some assumed point of commencement in it, which is determined by the context. Thus these learned Jewish commentators here, although of all theists the most free from any tinge of pantheism, or belief in the eternity of matter, interpret this account as setting forth simply the creation of our world and heaven, regarded too as commencing with them in a certain unformed condition. So that by these writers creation (the Mosaic creation) is regarded as formation rather than as primal origination of matter.

In accordance with this view of ראשית, Rabbi Schelomo (Raschi) interprets the whole passage: בראשית בריאת שמים וארץ וֹגו, “In the beginning of the creation of the heavens and the earth, when the earth was tohu and bohu, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the spirit was brooding over the waters, then God said, Let there be light,” &c. Or, “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was, &c., God said;” that, according to them, was the beginning with which we here have to do. All before is descriptive and determinative of it. Rabbi Schelomo compares it to Hosea 1:2, תחלת דבר יהוה, “In the beginning of God’s speaking by Hosea,” or literally (for דִּבֶּר is the preterit and not the infinitive), “The beginning God spake,” that is, which he spake, or when, he spake.10 So also Exodus 6:28, ביום דבר יהוה, “in the day when the Lord spake,” where the construct state of the noun may be regarded as in like manner put in regimen with the verb. Aben Ezra supports the same view of ראשית being grammatically in regimen with the verb ברא, or rather with the whole following context, by the example of Isaiah 29:1, קרית חנה דוד, where the construct קרית seems to stand in precisely the same relation to the verb חנה as ראשית to ברא.

But the word ברא, it is maintained, denotes primal origination, and some would even contend, in defiance of etymology, that such is its primary and radical idea. It is certain, however, that everywhere else in this account it must mean something quite different. It is constantly afterwards used of divine acts or works which could only have been the giving form to matter that already is. In all the dividings, the gatherings, the evolutions of the plants and animals, the ordaining and disposing of the heavenly lights, the firmament, and even the making of the human body, there is no new matter. This is well represented by Aben Ezra in his comment on the word ברא. “There are those,” he says, “who maintain that בריאה, creation, is (etymologically) the bringing out of nothing, and they refer to Numb. 16:30, אם בריאה יברא יהוה, ’if the Lord make a new thing’ (literally create a creation, &c.), but they forget how it is said here that God created the great monsters (Ang. whales), and how it is said three times in one verse (27), God created man, and how also it is said, He creates the darkness (Isai 45:7, בורא חשך), though the darkness is only the negation of light, which is the real existing thing.” Commentary on Gen. 1.

All these are constructions, formations, dispositions of matter; and this is certainly creation, whilst there is no evidence, except an assumption (not exegetical but rationalizing), of its meaning something else quite different in the first verse. It does indeed denote, as its most usual sense, a divine supernatural act, such as man, or any nature of itself, could not do,—although in the distinct piel form, and in its primary sense of cutting, it is sometimes applied to human works, as in Joshua 17:15. It is the divine supernatural making of something new, and which did not exist before. But new forms, especially as divinely established, are new things; and this, in fact, is the only proper sense in which they become things, res, realities, manifestations of something, vehicles of ideas, by which alone any material object becomes an object of thought, that is, a thing. The opposite notion is born of the prejudice which would make the forms of matter lower things than the formless matter itself,—if that can be called a thing instead of a substratum, power, or capacity for receiving forms, and thus becoming things.

Besides, this idea of primal origination of matter could have been otherwise well expressed in Hebrew. Such language as we have, Psalms 33:9, “He commanded and it was” (though that also may be used of formal creation), would have been better adapted to such a purpose. By contrast, at least, with the decided structural or formative style that succeeds, it might have made it less doubtful whether the creation mentioned in the first verse was really and essentially different from that of the verses following. So also the language, Isaiah 48:13, “I call to them, they stand up,” which probably was intended to express this very idea of primal origination; though in the context it may be taken as simply a reference to these Mosaic formations: “They stand up together” (יחדו or at once, ἅμα as the LXX. render it, Vulgate simul), or it may mean the whole creation, from first to last, as brought into being by the divine command, represented as one and instantaneous, though running through a vast chain of sequences. Just before this, however, the prophet’s language is in the highest degree formative and structural: “My hand laid the foundations of the earth, my right hand spanned the heavens.”

It may be admitted that the author of the account in Genesis probably regarded himself as describing the creation of the all, since to his knowledge our immediate earth and heaven, with the phenomenal luminaries appearing as fixed in it, and belonging to it, were the all; but that he meant to tell us of the first matter, even of this, or of its coming out of nothing, cannot be certainly determined by any etymology of words, or by any infallible exegesis of the passage. There are certainly some things that look the other way. The implication, however, of the great fact is enough for us, even though the bare words of Moses might be thought to confine themselves to a more limited sphere. So Lange holds to the creation in the Bible being the absolute first origination, yet, from some things he has said, he seems to be content with the idea last mentioned as answering the theological inquiry, without enlarging the words in Genesis by any exegetical strain which they may not be able to bear. This is shown particularly in what he says, p. 165, about “the earth-light, or the earth becoming light,” as being the analogue wherein is presented the primal origination of light, just as in the creation of man there is symbolized the creation of a spirit-world collectively. The argument or implication is: He who made light to be at one place or time, made it to be at all times, even at that time which was the absolute beginning of its existence; He who made the human spirit must have made all spirit, whether coeval with or immeasurably more ancient than man.

Since then it is very difficult to make the fair verbal exegesis speak decidedly either way, may we not infer from this that we overrate the importance of one aspect of the question as compared with the other. Besides the clear implication aforesaid, which would make the recognition of a structural creation at some particular time inseparable from the recognition of an absolute first origination of matter in its own time or times, there may be a question as to which is really the greater work, or more worthy of revelation, or which ought to have the greatest place in our minds,—this bare origination of the first matter, or the giving form to that matter. The first, many would say, unhesitatingly; the second, they would regard as the lower, the less important, the less manifestive of the divine power and glory, or, in a word, as the easier work. Our philosophical thinking, in which we so much pride ourselves, and which we would fain ascribe to God, whose “ways are so far above our ways and his thoughts above our thoughts,” leads to this. It is favored by certain metaphysical notions which are not recognized, or but little recognized, in the usual style of the Scriptures. This first matter, hyle, force, heat, nebular fluid, world-dust, call it what we will, goes beyond all our sense conceptions, and, therefore, we think it must be something greater, more important, more difficult, requiring more of power and wisdom, and therefore higher in the divine estimation, than that informing, structural, architectural, idealizing, systematizing, developing work which builds up, and builds out, this first matter, force, &c., into glorious forms for the contemplation, and magnificent worlds for the indwelling, of rational, spiritual beings. If we do not greatly mistake, both the style and the manifested interest of the Scriptures are the other way. The Bible does not talk to us, like Plato, of the hyle, the mother of matter, the substance that has none of the properties of matter yet is capable of receiving them all, or of matter itself as something distinct from body; it does not speak to us in the language of Aristotle about the first motion, the first mover, and the first moved, nor does it, after the more modern manner, have much to say of the first cause and the first causation, throwing all causality after it into the inferior place, or burying it in a godless nature. On the other hand, its high design is to impress us with the superior greatness of this latter outbuilding (κτἰζειν, Eph. 3:9, κατηρτίσθαι, Heb. 11:3) as the peculiar work of the Logos, or Word, which gives form and life, and, in this sense, its higher or more real being, to this conceptionless first matter, or first force. This was the great work, if we may judge by the importance the Scripture attaches to it; this was pre-eminently the work of creation as carried on by the artistic Wisdom, Prov. 8:22–32; and to this well corresponds what is said, John 1:3, 4, according to the old patristic division and interpretation of the passage, ὃ γέγονεν ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, “that which was made (or originated) in Him was life”—became life in Him. It is easy to see what is prominent in the Bible. It is not God the first motion, or the first force, or the first cause, or even as the originator of force and matter, but God the Great Architect; this is the idea which the Scripture language aims to impress so as to make it a living and controlling power in the soul, giving life and value to the other ideas, and preventing them from becoming mere scientific abstractions on the one hand, or dead naturalistic or pantheistic notions on the other. The abstract notion is ever assumed in the Bible as included in its creative representations, whilst it makes vivid the other and greater thought as the quickening power of all personal theistic conceptions.

The only notion we can form of matter in its lowest or primal entity is that of resistance in space, or the furnishing bare sensation to a supposed sentiency, without anything beyond it, either as form for the intellect, or as qualifying variety for the sense. The manner of putting this forth, we may not know, but that does not give it the higher rank. Taken as a fact it is the lowest thing in the scale of the divine works, if we may be allowed to make any relative comparisons among them. It is simply an exercise of the divine strength. On the other hand, the giving form to matter, which is so clearly and sublimely revealed as the true creative stage, is the work of the Divine Wisdom, and might be supposed worthy of God, as an exercise of his infinite intelligence, even if it had no other than an artistic end. The carrying these forms into the region of the moral, or the impressing moral designs upon them—in other words, building the world as the abode of life and the residence of moral and spiritual beings capable of witnessing and declaring the glory of the Creator—is the work of the divine Love. In reversing this scale of dignities, the actually lower work comes to be regarded as the higher and the greater merely because it is the more remote from us. Nothing but some such feeling as this could have led to the strong desire, in modern times, of finding here a revelation of the metaphysical, as though this alone were creation proper, or as though the divine power and wisdom were not even more sublimely manifested in the creative evolution and formation of the physical. The painting is a much greater and higher creation than the canvas, even though the making of both were admitted as belonging to the same artist.

In discussing these questions exegetically much also depends on the correct interpretation of the substantive verb היתה (and was) in the second verse. Does it denote a time cotemporaneous with the verb ברא in the first verse, or does it denote something succeeding, either as state or event,—namely, that the earth and heaven which had been created by a distinct and separate act there related, was afterwards (whether as having been left so, or as having become so by some cause or causes not mentioned) tohu and bohu? Or does it mean (as the Jewish authorities maintain) that this condition, whose time is denoted by היתה, was the beginning of the creation described, or the chronological date when this creation (called the Mosaic) began? In other words, can the expression והארץ היתה denote, grammatically, a succeeding instead of a cotemporaneous event? Certainly the far more usual form, if an after event, or an after state, had been intended, would have been נתְּהִי, with ו conversive, as in all the steps following, each distinctly marking succession, or one event coming out of and after another, as —ויבדל—ויהי ויאמר—ויעש—וירא—ויקרא, and so throughout. The usage in this very chapter is sufficient to establish the rule, even if it were not so common everywhere else when a series of successive acts are thus laid down.

Another question arises. Was all the creation that Moses intends to describe intra sex dies, within six days, or was that part mentioned in the first verse extra dies, as it must be if the six days chronologically began in the evening, that is, in the tohu and bohu, or when darkness was upon the face of the deep? But such exclusion would seem to be in the face of the express declaration in the fourth commandment: “in six days (within six days) God created the heavens and the earth.” If, then, there was anything extra dies, or before the chronological beginning of the first day, which is so distinctly marked by its evening, it could not be intended here as part of this account; for, from the time God began this creative work (whatever it might include) until he rested in the evening after the sixth, there were six days, be they long or short, and no more. The reasoning is plain. The six days began with the evening of the tohu, followed by the יאמר, or command for the shining of the light, which was the first act in the formation of the heavens and the earth afterwards described. If, then, the first verse denotes a beginning before this, it must have been extra sex dies. If we would bring it within, then it must be regarded as caption to the whole account, or as a summary of the process afterwards in detail set forth. If it is without, then what is meant by the heavens and the earth (especially the earth) therein mentioned? Or it might be asked (and it would be very difficult to answer the question) what part of the first day, or how are we to get any part of the first day, or first night, between the ברא of the first verse and the היתה of the second?

Again—in the expression והארץ היתה, it is to be noted that the subject stands before the verb, which makes it emphatic, or is designed to call attention to it as being the very same earth mentioned before, and whose creation is now going to be more particularly described: and as for the earth (or, but as for the earth, as there is abundant authority for rendering the particle י), it was so and so,—in such a condition, as though to separate it from the heavens (the earth heavens) which is not created, that is, divided from the general mass, until the second day, when God first named it historically by calling the firmament heaven.

But can we conclusively rest on such a grammatical exegesis? Certainly not. The usual law of the Hebrew tenses, though strongly favoring it (aided as it is by the other considerations mentioned), is not sufficiently fixed and without exceptions, seeming or real, to warrant any interpreter in speaking positively from such data alone; but certainly this applies with still greater force to those who would be dogmatically positive in maintaining the other view. Grammatical exegesis, even when most thoroughly pursued, may fail of reaching the absolute truth, for that truth may be in itself ineffable. It is, however, the true way, and the only way, of getting at the order of the conceptions as they existed, or as they arose, in the mind of the writer; and this is of the utmost value, even though it may have to be determined by the bare collocation of a word or a particle. Still, the conception is itself but a species of language representing the idea even as it is itself represented by the words. It is the last thing in language to which we can reach, and we must take it as standing most immediately, if not most infallibly, for the truth that lies still behind it.

“And darkness was upon the face of the deep,” the תהום, or formless waste. Darkness is nothing of itself, yet still it denotes something more than a mere negation, or a mere absence. It indicates rather the obstruction of something that already is. As its Hebrew name implies (with the slightest etymological variation חשׂך for חשׁך), it is a holding back, like the Latin tenebrœ from teneo (the m in umbrœ, embrœ, being phonetically lost in its kindred labial b, as in lambda, labda), and the Greek σκότος with the same ultimate radix (SK=HSK). This darkness was chronologically the first or commencing night of the Hexaëmeron, just as the light that follows is, beyond all question, the first morning of the first day. It was even then the shadow of something coming (its skadus, Gothic, or shade, same as Greek SK, σκότος). During all this night it was the obstruction of a power, or the sign of such obstruction, until the brooding spirit loosed its σειρὰς ζόφου, or “chains of darkness” (2 Pet. 2:4), and the voice of the Word was heard commanding that power to come forth. Nothing is more certain than that in the Mosaic account the light there mentioned comes phenomenally, and historically, after the darkness, and even after the water of the tehom, whether we regard it as gas-form or liquid-form, that is, water proper, according to Lange’s distinction. What a most serious difficulty is this for those who say that the Mosaic account in its first mention of light has respect to its primal original, or first being,—whether it be the material or dynamical entity merely, or that glorious form of power which is called God’s garment (Ps. 104:2), and in which he is said to dwell (1 Tim. 6:16) as in an element most real yet unapproachable by human vision! Can we doubt that light was even then a latent power in the tehom before it was commanded “to shine out of darkness,” ἐκ σκότους (2 Corinth 4:6), and upon the darkness, and that it had existed before this earthly morning, and that, too, not as a formless hyle merely, or first matter, but in forms ineffably bright and glorious,—not as a mere force or dynamical entity which never before had had visibility, but as recognized by the angels and sons of God who shouted for joy (Job 38:7) at this its new form, and that first appearance upon the earth which God called day?



What mean these days, says the great father Augustine, long before geology was born—these strange sunless days: quid volunt dies transacti sine luminaribus? An ista dierum enumeratio ad distinctionem valet inter illam naturam quœ non facta est, et eas quœ factœ sunt, ut mane nominarentur propter speciem, vespera vero propter privationem: “does the enumeration of days and nights avail for a distinction between the nature that is not yet made (not yet formed or brought into form) and those which are made, so that they should be called morning, propter speciem (i. e., in reference to manifestation, coming out, receiving form, or species) and evening propter privationem (i. e., their want of form, or formlessness, total or comparative).” De Genesi ad Literam, Lib. ii. Gen 14. Hence he does not hesitate to call them naturœ, natures, births or growths, also morœ, delays, or solemn pauses, in the divine work. They are dies ineffabiles; their true nature cannot be told,—dies cujusmodi sunt, aut perdifficile nobis aut etiam impossibile est cogitare, quanto magis dicere. Hence they are called days as the best symbol by which the idea could be expressed. They are God-divided days and nights, inter quœ divisit Deus, in distinction from the sun-divided, inter quœ dixit ut dividant luminaria. Common solar days, he says, are mere vicissitudines cœli, mere changes in the positions of the heavenly bodies, and not spatia morarum or evolutions in nature belonging to a higher chronology, and marking their epochs by a law of inward change instead of incidental outward measurements. As to how long or how short they were he gives no opinion, but contents himself with maintaining that day is not a name of duration; the evenings and the mornings are to be regarded not so much in respect to the passing of time (temporis prœteritionem), as to their marking the boundaries of a periodical work or evolution, per quendam terminum quo intelligitur quousque sit naturœ proprius modus, et unde sit naturœ alterius exordium. This is not a metaphorical, but the real and proper sense of the word day—the most real and proper sense, the original sense, in fact, inasmuch as it contains the essential idea of cyclicity or rounded periodicity, or self-completed time, without any of the mere accidents that belong to the outwardly measured solar or planetary epochs, be they longer or shorter: ac sic unus est dies (one day, a day by itself) non istorum dierum intelligendus quos videmus circuitu solis determinari atque numerari, sed alio quodam modo.

It is sometimes said, if Moses did not intend the common solar day here, why did he not give us some intimation to that effect? The devout, scripture-loving and scripture-revering Augustine saw such intimations in abundance, saw them on the very face of the account. There was no doubt-raising science then, nor anything in philosophy, that drove this most profound yet most humble and truth-seeking mind to such conclusions. He could not read the first of Genesis and think of ordinary days. It was the wondrous style of the narrative that affected him, the wondrous nature of the events and times narrated; it was the impression of strangeness, of vastness, as coming directly from the account itself, but which so escapes the notice of unthinking, ordinary readers. Wonderful things are told out of the common use of language, and therefore common terms are to be taken in their widest compass, and in their essential instead of their accidental idea. It is the same feeling that affects us when we contemplate the language of prophecy, or that which is applied to the closing period, or great day of the world’s eschatology. No better term could be used for the creative morœ, pauses, or successive natures, as Augustine styles them; and so no better words than evening and morning could be used for the antithetical vicissitudes through which these successions were introduced. See Augustine wherever the subject comes up, in his books De Genesi ad Literam, Contra Manichœos, and De Civitate Dei.

Carrying along with us these thoughts of the great father, we get a mode of exegesis which is most satisfactory in itself, and which need not fear the assaults of any science. It transcends science; it cannot possibly have any collision with it, and can, therefore, never have any need of what is called reconciliation. It treats of origins or beginnings in nature,—things to which science can never reach. It is a mode of exegesis most satisfactory as being most exclusive,—that is, from the very nature of the things related, based directly on the account itself as mainly and necessarily self-interpreting. Notions in science, notions in philosophy or in theology, that stand outside of it, and even etymologies or modes of naming that become fixed in language at later periods, may suggest ideas, but they are not to control the interpretation of a document so isolated from all other writings and of such exceeding antiquity.

As with the account as a whole, so is it, in great measure, with each part. It interprets itself. Thus in the first day: each name is so connected with the others as to present little or no difficulty in determining their general meaning in such relation, though on a scale which, of itself, separates them from their ordinary use in other applications. Keep within the account and there is light; the obscurity and the difficulty increase when we resort to helps outside of it. If we seek for the meanings of yom, ereb, boqer, day, evening, and morning, we find them in the very order, and mutually interpreting significance, of the facts presented. These are clear as facts, however ineffable in their comparative magnitude and evolving causalities.

“And the earth was tohu and bohu.” What was that? It was the opposite of the form-assuming conditions and evolutions immediately afterwards described. תּהוּ occurs, besides this, eighteen times in the Old Testament, but the general idea, to which we are led by the context and contrasts here, furnishes the best exposition of their special applications elsewhere. It is a striking illustration of what may seem a paradox to some minds, but which is, nevertheless, a fundamental law of language, that the general precedes the particular in the naming of things. The word is applied to a desolate city, Isai. 24:10; 34:11, to a desert in which the waters evaporate and disappear, Job 6:18, to a wilderness in which there is no way, תהו לא דרך, Job 12:24, Psalms 107:40, to the earth and heavens going back to ruin, as seen in the prophetic vision, Jerem. 4:23: “I saw the mountains, and they were trembling, and all the hills were moving fast; I looked and behold there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were gone; I beheld the earth, it was tohu and bohu; I looked to the heavens, there was no light.” Hence its moral applications, Isaiah 41:29; 29:21; and especially Isaiah 44:9; idolatry is moral confusion, an obliteration of all moral forms and distinctions. These places, instead of being necessary to explain Gen. 1:2, get their meaning from it. The first is lexically the key passage. The words, however, that immediately follow are, to some extent, an exegesis of these names. And darkness was upon the face of the deep. It was formlessness in its two modes of invisibility and indivisibleness. It was an undistinguishable wasteness. There was no light whereby to see, and there was a want of that division and separation into distinct objects, without which there is no true visibility, even if the light were present. Hence the LXX. well renders תהו ובהו ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατασκεύαστος, invisible and unformed. Next, we have the first mention of the separating, form-giving power.—“The Ruah Elohim, the Spirit of God, was brooding upon the waters.” Then comes the Word, and morning breaks. Light is the first separation. It is divided from the darkness, which shows that it had before existed in the tohu, and in combination with it. And God calls it day whilst the former state he calls night. It is his own naming, and we must take it as our guide in the interpretation of the words. It is not any duration, but the phenomenon, the appearing itself, that is first called day. Then the term is used for a period, to denote the whole event, or the whole first cycle of events, with its two great antithetical parts. And there was an evening and there was a morning, one day. We look into the account to see what corresponds to this naming. What was the night? Certainly the darkness on the face of the waters. What was the morning? Certainly the light that followed the brooding spirit and the commanding word. How long was the day? How long the night, or the darkness? The account tells us nothing about it. There is something on its face which seems to repel any such question. The whole spirit and style of the account are at war with the narrowness and arbitrariness of any such computation. Where are we to get twelve hours for this first night? Where is the point of commencement, when darkness began to be on the face of the waters? All is vast, sublime, immeasurable. The time is as formless as the material. It has indeed a chronology, but on another scale than that which was afterwards appointed (Gen 1:14) to regulate the history of a completed world with its sky-gazing human inhabitant. One who thinks seriously on the difficulty of accommodating this first great day to twenty-four hours, as we now measure them, needs no other argument. And yet the decision here settles the whole question. This first day is the model, in this respect, for all the rest. There is certainly no determined time here, unless we assume that a fixed duration, as now measured by the sun, is not merely an incident, but the essential and unchangeable idea of the word day, never departing from it, whatever may be the condition and circumstances to which it is applied. And for this, neither the essential laws of language, nor the usages of language, give us any authority, whilst everything looks the other way. All is indefinite except the fact of the great separation accomplished, with its two contrasted states and one completed period, to which the names ereb, boqer, yom, evening, morning, day, are respectively given. Our English translation of the closing formula is deficient. It fails to present the reason of its own introduction, and the relation it bears to what preceded: “And the evening and the morning were,”—there is no article to justify this; there is no mention of evening and morning before to which it might be supposed to refer. The evening and the morning may indeed be said to have made the day quantitively, but that is not what is here expressed; otherwise the verb should have been plural, as in Gen 2:24, היו לכשר אחד, “they shall be one flesh.” Neither is day the predicate after ויהי, but stands by itself as the time when. The Hebrew, to correspond to the English as given in our version, would be ויהיו הערב והבקר יום אתד. The true rendering is: “and there was an evening, and there was a morning, the first day.” So the Syriac and the Septuagint: καὶ ἐγένετο ἑσπέρα καὶ ἐγένετο πρωί. In like manner Maimonides: “and there was an evening and there was a morning of the first day.” But why is the assertion made here, and what is its force? It is not a mere tautology, such as our English version would seem to make it. It is exegetical; it is designed to give us an intimation of something strange and peculiar in the language, and to explain its application. This ante-solar day, marked by no sunrising or sunsetting, or any astronomical measurement, and without any computed duration, had still an evening and a morning of its own, and might, therefore, be justly called a day. What this evening and morning were, is left for the reader to discover in the account itself. As applied to a supposed ordinary day, the assertion, especially as it reads in our version, would have little or no discoverable force. On the other supposition, it has a most emphatic meaning, and this we may regard as the reason of its formal utterance, and its solemn repetition at the close of each similar period. In a similar manner they all had an evening and a morning, however strange it might seem, without a shining sun. Each is marked by the same great antithetical distinction; each has a new appearing; but as this is somewhat different in each creative stage, so is there a demand in each for the same essential announcement. And there was an evening, and there was a morning, second day,—third day,—fourth day, and so on.

The clear apprehension of the first day opens up all the rest. The same exegesis would bear repetition in every one. “And God said: ‘Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and led it be a dividing between the waters and the waters, &c.;’ and it was so; and God called the firmament heaven; and there was an evening, and there was a morning, day second.” We look back to find them. Where was the morning here? It was this second dividing and the appearing of this new glory as its result. It is the sky, the atmosphere, with its auroral light. It is the causality represented in this purely phenomenal language by which Moses describes it, according to the conceptions he had of it, and which no more guarantees any vulgar notion, than it does any science or philosophy, perfect or imperfect, that might be brought to explain it. The more clear determines that which is less so. The new appearing of the firmament being the morning, that from which it had been divided, or that preceding state in which the earth had been left after the separation of the light, and in which the fluid masses of air and water yet remained in their chaotic formations, is the night. And so, as the formula seems to imply, each time it is repeated; in this way there was also an evening and there was a morning, second day,—in this way, or the only way that exegesis will allow; for there was no visible sunrising or sunsetting, no astronomical measurements to make a morning and an evening of any other kind. The appearing of the dry land as it rose out of the waters, and the quick growth of blooming vegetation that covered it, was the third morning. And then that scene of glory, the first appearing of the sun, moon, and stars in the firmament, now prepared for their revelation,—this was the fourth great morning to which the name is given, and not to any particular rising of the sun in the east as the beginning of a common day. As there had been a commencement of light, of life, so now there is a commencement of astronomical time with its subordinate periods of sun-divided days, not to be confounded, as Augustine says, with the great God-divided days of which the fourth was one as well as the rest. Life moving in the waters, and soaring in the air, this was the fifth appearing; and so, according to the ever-preserved analogy, the fifth great morning of the world.

Again a solemn pause, with nature left to its repose, how long or short is not revealed, and the sixth morning breaks. It is the latter portion of the sixth day. Now man appears, whether in its earlier or later stage. He is surrounded by the animal world, over which he is to exercise his more immediate dominion. The seventh is the morning of the divine rest. The evening that precedes is not named in the first chapter, but perhaps we may find it in the supplementary account of the second, where there are mentioned two remarkable evolutions that seem to have no other period to which they can be assigned. They are the naming of things, or the divine aiding the human in the development of language, and that mysterious sleep of humanity (was it long or short?) in which by a process most concisely symbolized, but utterly ineffable in respect to the manner, the female human is brought out as the closing work, and man awakes complete in the likeness of God. “In the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

It may be said that such a representation seems to make the days run into each other. This may be admitted without regarding it as any valid objection. The darkness still left is the remains, gradually diminishing, of the primeval chaos. Each night is a daughter of the ancient NOX, whilst each new morning is a rising into a higher light. In other words, the evening to each day, though still a disorder and a darkness, is a diminution of the darkness that went before, whilst the positive light of each new morning continues on, adding its glory to the mornings that follow, and “shining more and more unto the נכוך היום, the perfect day,” or perfection of the day (Prov. 4:18), the finished and finishing day—the all-including day, mentioned Gen. 2:4, as the day when God made the heavens and the earth. And so, as Lange observes (and it is a most important remark, both for the scientific and scriptural view), each is “a glory that excelleth,” but still a building on, and a carrying on, the energies that preceded. Each is a new swell of the mighty organ, combining all the former tones, and raising them to a higher and still higher chorus, until

The diapason closes full on man.

Each day is a new beginning, bringing out a new state of things to be blessed, or called good, but it is not necessarily a finishing of that work until the “heavens and earth are finished with all their hosts,” and there is pronounced that closing benediction (טוכ מאד, all good, “very good”) which ushers in the sabbath. Each day, as a beginning by itself, contains the incipient powers and elements of its peculiar work, but does not exhaust those energies. The light is still evolving in the second day; the fluids are still parting in the third; the firmament, though having its auroral light before, is becoming still brighter in the fourth; vegetable and animal life are coming to still greater perfection in the fifth and sixth.

May not the same be said of man? On the sixth day, his “bringing into the kosmos” becomes complete; the divine allocution, “Let us make man,” receives its accomplishment, and the process by which his material and physical structure is educed from the earth is finished; but may we not suppose that the preparation for this last and crowning work, and so the work itself, runs through all the previous cycles? “Thine eyes did see my substance yet unfinished, and in thy book all my (members) were written, the days they were fashioned, when there was not one in them,” Ps. 139:16. This remarkable passage may apply primarily to the individual generation; it doubtless includes it; and yet there is something about it which seems to indicate a wider and a deeper application to the origin of our generic physical humanity, and to its first germ or material, as it lay in the formlessness of the chaos.

The Septuagint has rendered גלמי (Ps. 139:16) by a word very similar to that by which it describes the tohu, ἀκατέργαστόν μου, my unformed or unwrought—Vulgate: imperfectum meum, my unmade. But the most striking resemblance is suggested by the ימים, the days, which our translators have rendered “in continuance,” thereby greatly impairing the force and significance of the language. “Thine eyes saw it then unfinished,” during all the days in which it was receiving formation, ימים יערו, when they were being formed, or written down in thy book, ולא אחד כהם. These last words have puzzled all the commentators. If the passage may be referred to the primal formation of humanity, then it would be, not only a fair view, but even the most legitimate one, grammatically, to refer אחד, as also the pronoun in בהם to ימים just preceding—“during the days they were formed, and even when there was no one (no first day) among them.” “Even before the day” (compare Isaiah 43:13) God was writing or preparing this book of the human record; it dates from the very foundation of the world—Eph. 1:4, Heb. 4:3, Rev. 13:8.

The full formation of man in the sixth day does not oppose the idea that the powers and evolutions of matter that were finally sublimated into the imperishable germ of the human body, and the types from lower forms that finally went into the human physical constitution, were being prepared during all the days. This was his being formed out of the earth, that is, out of nature in its evolving series. Here, too, it may be said (though with the diffidence that becomes every exegetical attempt to penetrate these creative mysteries), we have some light upon that dark and puzzling language, “when I was made in secret and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth,” Ps. 139:15—in inferioribus terrœ,—in profundissimis naturœ. The common explanation that refers this language to the maternal womb does not satisfy, and it has no exegetical authority in any similar use of such a metaphor in the Bible Hebrew. It becomes more easy, if we regard it as the womb of nature, the earth out of which the Lord God formed man. In the language, too, of the thirteenth verse תְּסֻכֵּנַי (compare Ezek. 28:14, 16—הסוכך כרוכἐπισκιάσει, Luke 1:35), “thou didst overshadow me in my mother’s womb,” there is a striking resemblance to the image of the spirit brooding or hovering over the formless tehom. It is not strange that the author of this most sublime Psalm should have had in view, either primarily or suggestively, this remoter generation. Man, generically, in his appointment to dominion, is clearly the subject of Psalm 8:4, 5, 6; why should his generic origination be thought too remote an idea for the profound and contemplative 139th?



The most clear and direct is found in the Fourth Commandment, Exod. 20:11: “Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work, for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth.” This language is held to be conclusive evidence of the latter having been ordinary days. They are of the same kind, it is said, or they would not have been put in such immediate connection. There could not be such a sudden change or rise in the meaning. This looks plausible, but a careful study shows that there is something more than first strikes us. It might be replied that there is no difference of radical idea—which is essentially preserved, and without any metaphor in both uses—but a vast difference in the scale. There is, however, a more definite answer furnished specially by the text itself, and suggested immediately by the objectors’ own method of reasoning. God’s days of working, it is said, must be the same with man’s days of working, because they are mentioned in such close connection. Then God’s work and man’s work must also be the same, or on the same grade for a similar reason. The Hebrew word is the same for both: “In six days shalt thou labor and do (עשיח) all thy work; for in six days the Lord made (עשה, made, wrought) heaven and earth.” Is there no transition here to a higher idea? And so of the resting: “The seventh shall be to thee a sabbath (שכת, a rest), for the Lord thy God rested (וינח) on the seventh day,”—words of the same general import, but the less solemn or more human term here applied to Deity. What a difference there must have been between God’s work and man’s work,—above all, between God’s ineffable repose and the rest demanded for human weariness. Must we not carry the same difference into the times, and make a similar ineffable distinction between the divine working-days and the human working-days,—the God-divided days, as Augustine calls them, and “the sun-divided days,” afterwards appointed to us for “signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years,” of our lower chronology? Such a pointing to a higher scale is also represented in the septennial sabbath, and in the great jubilee period of seven times seven. They expand upwards and outwards like a series of concentric circles, but the greatest of them is still a sign of something greater; and how would they all collapse, and lose their sublime import, if we regard their antitype as less than themselves, or, in fact, no greater than their least! The other analogy, instead of being forced, has in it the highest reason. It is the true and effective order of contemplation. The lower, or earthly, day is made a memorial of the higher. We are called to remember by it. In six (human) days do all thy work; for in six (divine) days the Lord made heaven and earth. The juxtaposition of the words, and the graduated correspondence which the mind is compelled to make, aid the reminiscence of the higher idea. An arc of a degree on the small earthly circle represents a vastly wider arc as measured on the celestial sphere. A sign of our swiftly passing times corresponds to one ineffably greater in the higher chronology of world-movements, where one day is a thousand years, and the years are reckoned from Olam to Olam (Ps. 90:2), whilst the Olams themselves become units of measurement (αἰῶνες τῶν αἰώνων) to the Malcuth col Olamim,11 or “kingdom of all eternities,” Psalm 144:13, and 1 Tim. 1:17. There is a harmony in this which is not only sublimely rational, but truly Biblical. It is the manner of the Scriptures thus to make times and things on earth representatives, or under-types, of things in the heavens,—ὑποδείγματα τῶν ἐν τοῖς ὀυρανοῖς, Heb. 9:23. Viewed from such a standpoint these parallelisms in the language of the Fourth Commandment suggest of themselves a vast difference between the divine and the human days, even if it were the only argument the Bible furnished for that purpose. As the work to the work, as the rest to the rest, so are the times to the times.

But what was the impression on the ancient Jewish mind? It is important to understand this, if we can. Had the Jews commonly conceived of these creative days as being of the ordinary kind, could the fact have been so utterly unnoticed in the frequent references we find to the account of creation, and the frequent use of its imagery, in the Hebrew poetry. Almost all the other wonders of the narrative are alluded to in Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, Amos, and such passages in the historical books as Nehemiah 9:6. Every other striking feature of the account is dwelt upon but this wondrous brevity, the greatest marvel of them all, as it would impress itself upon the more human imagination picturing it on its sense-scale. All creation begun and finished in six solar days! The earth, the air and seas, with all their swarming spheres of life, the hosts of heaven, sun, moon, and stars, angels and men, all called from non-existence, from nothingness we may say, and their evolution completed in one week, such weeks as those that are now so rapidly passing away!—a week measured, as to extent, by our present time-scale, though the index of that scale—and this adds still to the wonder—had not yet been set in its commencing stages. It is hard to believe this. Not the fact itself, we mean, of such a creation,—for there is nothing repugnant to reason either in its shortness or its instantaneousness, if God had so willed it—but the utter silence respecting such a wonder in every other part of the Bible. There must have been something in the most ancient conceptions of time, especially of æonic or world-times, that led to this. It is shown by their use of the great Olamic plurals before referred to, and the transfer of the same usage to the æons of the New Testament. Our most modern thought of eternity is that of blank, undivided duration, ante-mundane and post-mundane, with only a short week (measured, too, on the scale of the thing yet uncreated), and the brief secular human history intervening like a narrow isthmus between two unmeasured and immeasurable oceans. Without our saying which is the true view, it may with great confidence be maintained that a mode of thinking and conceiving, so blank in the one aspect, and so narrow in the other, would never have given rise to such an Olamic language (if we may call it so) as we actually find in our Hebrew Bible, even in its most ancient parts. The very fact that our modern translation everywhere avoids expressing, or covers up these Olamic and æonic plurals, shows the change in the modern conception. Our authorized version is more defective here than the old Wickliffe, which being made from the Vulgate, resembles more in this the old versions.

The Jewish mind, prophetical, contemplative, and poetical, seems always to have conceived of creation as vast, indefinite, and most ancient. We see this especially in that sublime passage Prov. 8:22: “The Lord possessed me,” says the eternal Logos, or Wisdom, מקדמי ארץ “from the antiquities of the earth,”—as though that, instead of being about three thousand years and one week over, were the remotest conception to which the human mind could reach. I was with Him, יוםיום,—day—day—day after day, even with “the Ancient of days,” before each of his “works of old.” Before the tehom, before the springing of the fountains, before the mountains were settled, before the hills arose, before the יאש עפרות חבל, or primeval dust of the world,—when he was preparing the heavens, when he was setting a compass upon the face of the deep, when he made the rakia, or established the clouds to stand above, when he made strong the fountains of the deep, and put his law upon the sea; during all this time I was there, yom, yom; I was the Architect (the Mediator, ὁ καταρτιστὴρ, as אמוך should be rendered, see Heb. 11:3), rejoicing always before Him. But the greatest joy of the Logos was in the human creation, “My delight was in the Sons of Adam,”—he “loved us before the foundations of the world.” How it fills the mind to overflowing with its ever-ascending, ever-expanding climaxes, its mighty preparations, and preparations for preparations! How it goes continually back to the more and more remote! How it seems to tax language to convey a conception of vast and ineffable antiquities! What a chain of sequences! If we would fix it still more impressively on the mind, in one all-embracing declaration, turn to Hebrews 11:3: “By faith we understand that the worlds were formed (κατηρτίσθαι τοὺς αἰῶνας) by the Word of God.” How has it escaped so many commentators here, that the word for worlds is not κόσμους, worlds of space, and never used thus in the plural, but αἰῶνας, corresponding to the Hebrew עלמים, and presenting an idea unknown to its classical usage, or worlds in time? “By faith we understand that the ages, the eternities, the sæcula, or great world-times, were mediated (κατηρτίσθαι), or put in order, by the Word of God.”

There is an allusion to the creative days in Micah 5:1, although it is unnecessarily obscured in our English version: “And thou Bethlehem Ephratah,—out of thee shall He come forth whose goings forth have been of old, from the days of eternity”—or “from the days of the world”: מימי עולם, ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς ἐξ ἡμερῶν αἰῶνος, Vulg.: egressus ejus ab initio, a diebus eternitatis. Both of these expressions, מקדם and מימי, may denote an ancient time generally in the history of the earth, or of the chosen people, as in Isaiah 63:9, 11, Micah 7:20; but here, if the passage refers to the Logos, as it is understood by all Christian commentators, the reference to the still greater antiquity of the creative times, or the creative days, is unmistakable. It is the contrast between the humble going forth at Bethlehem, and those ancient outgoings of the Word, which are recorded each day in the First of Genesis, from the first emphatic ויאמר of Gen 1:3, until the crowning one, Gen 1:26, where the plural is used in the solemn allocution ויאמר אלהים נעשה אדם, “and God said, Let us make man.” Thus regarded, the parallelism between it and Prov. 8 and Hebrews 11:3, seems very clear. We need only revert to the well-known fact, that the ancient Targumists or paraphrasts explain these declarations by the מימרא (Mimra), or Verbum Dei, which is doubtless the same with what is intended by the Logos in John 1:1, 2. The language of Prov. 8:22 ff. and the ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς of the LXX. in Micah 5:1, are sufficient to explain the origin of the phraseology in John 1:1, Heb. 11:3, and Colossians 1:16, without the aid of any Platonic or Philonic suggestion. So Rabbi Schelomo (Rashi) interprets Micah 5:2, of the Messiah, and explains מקדם, and מימי עולם, by a reference to Psalm 72:17, לפני שמש יניך שמו, which the Chaldaic interpreter renders, “before the sun his name was preordained.” מימי עולם “from the days of eternity; from everlasting was I anointed (נסכחי see the same word Ps. 2:6), from the beginning, or ever the earth was.”

The manner in which, the creative days appear in Psalm 104 has drawn the attention of commentators ancient and modern. It is noticed by Steir, Hengstenberg, and Ewald. It is dwelt upon by Geier and Kimchi. It is expressly admitted by Hupfeld, one of the most rationalizing of German interpreters. The author of the Psalm seems to have had it in mind throughout, though he does not present the days in the formal methodical order, but gives much more prominence to some parts than to others. It colors his conceptions, and give much of its sublimity to his pictorial language. Here are the creative days in all the greatness of their evolutions, but no mention of the brevity, no hint of any such impression on the mind of the writer, nothing to suggest anything of the kind to the mind of the reader. There is the feeling of vastness, power, immensity. We recognize great works and great processes, but without any signs of measurement or computation, such as could hardly have been kept out by one who carried with him all along the limited time-conception of one ordinary week, or of six ordinary solar days. There is no wonder expressed, no sense of the difficulties that we experience in the attempt to reduce the first great movements to such a scale,—i. e., to think of measurement without a measure, or of solar days without a sun. From the Psalm itself, certainly, if we carried nothing else into the interpretation, no such impression of brevity would be obtained. All is the other way. There is the formless abyss, the light taking the place of darkness upon the face of the waters, the building of the upper chambers, the separation of the air, the spreading out of the sky, the establishment of the firmament12 with the clouds therein, the calling into ministerial agency of the new forces of nature, the making the winds his messengers, his servant the flaming fire. There is the going forth again of the mighty Word, “the thunder of his power,” in the dividing and gathering of the waters that before had stood above the mountains, or the places where they afterwards appeared. The abyss had covered them as a garment, but now the hills emerge, the valleys sink, the process goes on until they reach the “places formed for them.”13 Then comes the era of life, and it should be remembered that they are not Promethean plastic formations here celebrated, but life in its long-settled habits and locations; the beasts of the fields are drinking of the waters that run in the valleys, the wild asses are roaming the desert, the birds are flying in the air and singing between the branches. It is a most vivid picture of the luxuriant growth of the early species, both animal and vegetable, with the rich provisions for its support, Psalm 104:13–18. Again, there is the appointment of the moon for seasons, the giving to the sun his law for rising and setting (Psalm 104:19), and at last man going forth to the work and labor of humanity. Throughout it all there is the one animating life, the Ruah Elohim, from whose quickening power proceed all these lower orders of vitality, and at whose withdrawal they gasp (יִגְוָעוּך), and return again to their dust, Psalm 104:29. The creative doxology too is not omitted: “How great are thy works, O Lord! in Wisdom (or by Wisdom בחכמה, through the eternal Logos) hast thou made them all.” (See John 1:2, Coloss. 1:17, τὰ πάντα ἐν αὐτῷ συνέστηκε.) It is but the repetition of the דנה טיב מאד, the “good, lo, very good,” of Gen. 1:31: “The glory of the Lord is forever, the Lord rejoices in his works.”14

There is no mistaking here the outline of the creative picture, and of the creative times, yet the impression is not one of brevity. There is order here, succession and evolution on a vast scale; but no intimation of a crowding into times out of harmony with the conception of the works, or the scale of duration which the conceptual truthfulness of the picture demands. If we had nothing but this passage, no one would think of solar days in connection with its great transitions. Now, what we want to get at is the thought of the writer, the subjective state out of which arose such language and such a mode of conceiving. We study him as a very old interpreter of Gen. 1, who is the best witness to us of the ancient feeling. Rationalizing commentators recognize here the creative days, but they somehow fail to see that the writer’s conception of the work, and his manner of setting forth the vastness and sublimity of its successions, are not easily reconciled with the notion of common solar days,—a meaning these commentators are determined to fasten on Gen. 1, for the obvious reason that it discredits the account, and seems to give them some ground for calling it a myth. It was a similar blindness that led Rosenmüller to derive the Bible cosmogony from the Persians, whilst at the same time contending for the interpretation of short 24-hour days. According to his own showing the Persians (Zendavesta) held that the world was generated in six periods (sex temporibus), or times, left altogether indefinite. If the Mosaic account must be traced to a Persian paternity, let it at least have the Persian width.

There is the same grandeur of power and causality in the creation-pictures we find in the latter part of Job; and if we had nothing ab extra to give us a different thought there would be the same impression of vastness in the times. How utterly different this early style from the later Talmudic and Mohammedan trifling about the times and imagined incidents of creation! The old impression had been lost, and there took its place the petty wonder which grows out of the narrow conception; just as in modern times every kind of fanciful hypothesis has been resorted to to account for the first three days, and their morning and evening phenomena, so puzzling, so inexplicable, it may be said, on the supposition of their being ordinary solar days. There is nothing of this trifling in Job. In a style of highest poetry it gives us ideas and suggestions that yet transcend any discoveries in science: “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Who appointed its measures, and stretched the line upon it? Upon what are its pillars settled, and who laid the corner-stone thereof? when the stars of the morning sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy. Or who shut up the sea with doors in its gushing forth, when it issued from the womb? when I made the darkness its robe, and thick darkness its swaddling-band; when I brake15 upon it my law, and set bars and doors, and said, Here shalt thou come, and no farther, and here shalt thou stop in the swelling of thy waves. Hast thou given command to the morning? hast thou caused the dawn to know its place? Knowest thou the way where light dwelleth? Understandest thou the path to its house? Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow or the hail? Hath the rain a father? and who hath begotten the drops of the dew?” Job 38. Ancient as these challenges are, science has not yet answered them, probably never will fully answer them. Congelation is not yet understood in its essential mystery; there is a store of unrevealed science in the snow-drop, and as for light, though it has been shining on us for 6000 years, we do not yet “know the path to its house.”

We stand in awe of such language; we recognize it as superhuman speaking. There are no narrow computations here, no petty fancies, or ingenious hypotheses. Neither is there any filling up of what is left blank in the great outline given by Moses, except that we have occasionally the intimation of a law or process when the other gives us only the bare fact expressed in the plainest phenomenal language which was adapted to be the vehicle of its conception. Thus also in another passage, Job 28:25, 26, God is represented as determining the quantity and force of the elemental powers, and appointing the method of their physical action. It is another of the Scriptural allusions to the Creative Wisdom: “God knew the place thereof when he made for the winds their weight, and fixed for the waters their measure, when he made a law for the rain, and a way for the thunder flames:” Vulgate: viam procellis sonantibus, a passage for the sounding storms.

In this connection no portion of Scripture is more worthy of attention than Psalm 90. It is especially important as being, on the best authority, ascribed to that same Moses who gives us, whether through direct authorship or tradition, the account of creation: “O Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations.” The words בדר ודר here evidently refer to old historical times upon the earth, but it is equally clear that what follows carries us back to the creative or ante-creative periods. He was “his people’s dwelling-place,” they were “chosen in Him before the foundations of the world.” “Before the mountains were born, before the earth and the tebel were brought forth מעולם ועד עולם אתה אל, from Olam to Olam, from world16 to world, thou art God,” or “thou art, O God.” תהולל here is wrongly rendered by the second person. It is the third feminine, and has for its collective subject ארץ ותבל, earth and the world, or earth and the orbis terrarum. Both ילדו and תחולל denote a generative process,—both words, as remarked in another place, presenting the same radical etymological conceptions of birth, growth, parturition, with the Latin natus, natura, and the Greek φύω, φύσις, γεννάω, γίνομαι, γένεσις.17 For this parturitive sense of תחולל see such passages as Isaiah 51:2, Job 15:7, Prov. 8:25, Ps. 51:7, Isaiah 66:8, where this word (in Hophal) and ילד come together, היוחל ארץ ביום אחד אם יולד נוי פעם אחת, numquid parturiet terra, the Vulgate renders it; but it is passive, “shall earth be brought forth in a day, shall a nation be born at one time?” It is used of one of the common generative processes of nature, as Prov. 25:23, “the north-wind generates (תחולל) rain” (verb in the active conjugation). It is applied to Deity, Deut. 32:18, and in connection again with ילד: “Wilt thou forget, צור ילדך, the Rock that begat thee” (Deum qui te genuit. Vulg.) אל מחוללך, who bore thee, literally who travailed with thee in birth. The expression may seem a harsh one, but it denotes the tender love and care manifested in the formation and culture of the divine people. So when applied, in its more literal sense to natural or creative movements, it denotes a travailing in nature, strong processes, indicative of convulsions, violence, and opposition, in passing from one form of matter, or from one stage of life, to another. We dwell upon this, because the power and significance of such words have been so slighted in our translation, and are, therefore, so overlooked by the reader. It amounts to nothing to say that they are figures, even if this were true. They are certainly not fancy figures or rhetorical figures merely, but used because no other language could so well convey their vast and tremendous import. When the Scriptures use poetry it is not for the sake of ornament, but from necessity; it is because all other language fails. But it may be said that the poetry here is in the style and in the collocation of ideas. The words themselves meet us in their most literal etymological conceptions; just as such words, and such primitive conceptions have formed the roots of all philosophical and scientific language, as it has been developed in other tongues.

“Before the mountains were born, and the earth brought forth,”—before creation was finished, and brought to its full birth,—מעולם ועד עולם “from Olam to Olam, from world to world, ἀπὸ αἰῶνος καὶ ἕως τοῦ αἰῶνος (a sœculo et usque in sœculum), thou art, O Mighty El.” אדני in the first verse is the name of administration; אל is the older name of power and causality. “From everlasting unto everlasting,” says our translation, as though both expressions made merely a general phrase for eternal duration, regarded as blank continuity, to the entire neglect of the plurality and the transition. Some might fancy it the idea of a past and a future eternity, but this past had its divisions. It was before the creation, or before the completion of the creation, that El existed thus from Olam to Olam, from æon to æon, a sœculo in sœculum, from world to world; just as our word world is used as a time-word in the oldest English. See Wickliffe’s translation of 1 Tim. 1:17 “kynge of worldis, βασιλεὺς τῶν αἰώνων.” It is intended here to mark most emphatically the contrast between God’s times and our times, the brevity of which is so affectingly set forth in Psalms 90:9-10 below: “The days of our years are three-score years and ten.” We live from year to year; God lives from Olam to Olam.18 The times of our history are reckoned as annual, centennial, millennial; God’s times are Olamic or æonian,—αἰώνιος being an adjective whose unit of measurement is αἰών (i. e., time measured by æons), just as annual is time measured by years. The divine life-time (not in itself, but as given to our conceptions) is reckoned by worlds, and worlds of worlds, until, through their mighty reduplications, rather than by any conceptionless abstract or negative terms, we approach, as near as the human imaging faculty can approach, to the thought of an absolute eternity. All this is confirmed, as sober and rational exegesis, by that remarkable declaration in this Psalm (Psalms 90:4), which furnishes the key of interpretation for all passages that speak of the greater chronology, whether it be the immense past as intimated in the pluralities of the Old Testament, or the unknown periods of the Olamic eschatology as referred to in the New (see 2 Pet. 3:8, 2 Thess. 2:2, Heb. 10:37): “For a thousand years in thine eyes are as a day (כיים), as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.”19 How slow to us, and yet how sublimely the faith of this איש אלהים, or man of God, waits and watches for the day (Psalms 90:14): “O satisfy us (בבקר) in the morning with thy mercy.” בקר here may very easily mean an ordinary morning, if one is contented with it, or chooses to render it adverbially (as our translation does: “O satisfy us early,”) but certainly there is much in this wonderful Psalm, and in the general scale of its language, that points to the higher idea and to the higher day. The most careless reader can hardly fail to see that it abounds in great contrasts: “We spend our years as a sigh,”20 but thou art from Olam to Olam.” “Our life is as a watch in the night compared with thy millennial day.” “We are as a sleep.” “O satisfy us in the morning with thy mercy;” then “make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, the years wherein we have seen evil.” So in another place, Ps. 30:6: “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy (רנה a shout of jubilee) cometh in the morning.” “I shall behold thy face in righteousness, I shall be satisfied when I awake, with thy likeness,” Ps. 17:15. The rationalist may interpret all these on the lower scale and give consistent reasons for his philology. Let him be content with it, but there is nothing to prevent, there is much to favor, that higher and wider view which the ever-ascending style of Scripture (even when it seems to speak of temporal things) and the ever-expanding power of Hebrew words, offer to the spiritual mind. Again, there is “the morning (Ps. 49:15) in which the righteous shall have the dominion.” How frigid is the comment of the rationalist here! and how far it falls short of all the ideas suggested by the context! “לבקר, mox subito,” says Rosenmüller; and then he refers to Ps. 46:6 (God shall help her, the Church, the civitas Dei, למנות בקר, at the turning of the morning), which he has in like manner to diminish from the higher scale before it will answer his purpose. So Hupfeld: “Superstites sunt.” According to him, all this striking imagery, and this strong word ירדו, mean no more than that good men shall survive the wicked; they shall visit their graves the morning after they have been buried.

The morning, in Ps. 49:15, when “the righteous shall reign,” is the great dies retributionis, so prominent in Scripture, and acknowledged too (like the conception of great times) in the earliest language and thinking of the race.21 Such an interpretation may seem forced to one who looks at it from the lowest stand-point, and feels the need of nothing higher. It was otherwise with the early, musing, meditative mind. The more dim and indefinite their faith in another world, the more vast their conception of its times and its parallelisms (in these respects) with the present vicissitudes of our being. To such minds, even without revelation, the idea rose naturally out of the most obviously suggested contrasts. The brevities of our present state gave birth to the idea of the eternities. From this there grew a corresponding language which in modern times we have failed justly to interpret. The shortness of the human life was more thought of in the earliest days than it is now, although men then lived longer. Hence that wailing language respecting it, we find in Job and in the Psalms. Away back in the patriarchal times, when, as some say, this world was all they knew, men confessed more readily and more feelingly than they do now, that they were pilgrims and sojourners on earth. Nothing, therefore, was more natural for such souls than the attempt to transfer these brevities and the language that represented them, to the higher scale. Their very despondency in respect to their having any share themselves in this higher chronology, would the more strongly suggest to the mind its vast durations. Hence the שׁנוה עלמים, “the years of the eternities,” Psalm 77:6, the שנות ימין עליון, “the years of the right hand of the most High,” Psalm 77:11. Hence the thought of the æon, or higher world-time, of a greater day, of a more glorious morning. Messiah’s throne is to be כימי שמים, “like the days of Heaven,” Psalm 89:30, “his kingdom,” מלכות כל עלמים, “a kingdom of all Olams.” Hence, too, the ancient cyclical ideas of great times when all things should come round again, and that belief in a future renovation of the earth and heavens that Pareau has shown to have belonged to the early Arabians and Egyptians,22 and which, though in another form, is not obscurely alluded to and sanctioned in the Scriptures themselves.

This latter idea is plainly enough presented by the Prophet: “Behold, I create new heavens,” or rather “I create the heavens new, בורא שמים חדשים, and the earth anew;” חדש denoting rather the idea of renewal23 than that of an origination de novo. We find it elsewhere, all the stronger because it comes in incidentally, as a thing firmly believed. Thus Ps. 102:26, which Paul, it should be noted, applies to the creative Logos, Heb. 1:10: “Of old didst thou lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens (the atmosphere, the rakia, the sky,) are the work of thy hands. They perish (it is not a prediction, but a description in the present),” they flow or change; there is no stability in nature, whatever science may say; it is necessarily finite in time as well as in space. “But thou standest (תעמד, permanes, abidest through); yea, all of them wax old as doth a garment, and as a garment thou shalt renew them, and they shall be renewed,” תחליף; it is ever in such connection the change of renewal, of regermination, of reviviscence. Passing, or succession, is the radical idea of the root in all the Shemitic tongues; it is one thing, or one state, taking the place of another, but it is ever a passing from death to life, from loss to gain, from decay to vigor, from torpor to activity. See such passages as Psalm 90:5: בבקר כהציר יחלף, “in the morning like grass it groweth up,” Job 14, אם יכרת ועוד יחלף, “if it be cut down it shall sprout again,” and Job 14:14, where the noun from the same verb, just before applied to the regerminating plant, is used by Job to denote his own renewal: “O that thou wouldst lay me up in Hades;” “all the days of my set time would I wait until my halipah come.” Compare also Isaiah 9:9, and the places where it is used of the renewal or change of raiment, Gen. 41:14, 35:2, and others,—also of moral or spiritual renovation, as Isai. 40:31–41:1

There is no mistaking these Scriptural analogies of the past and the future. Earth shall be rehabilitated; nature shall put on her new robe; there shall be a new creative day, a new light, a new atmosphere, a new firmament, a new glory in the sun and stars, a new Adam, Prince of a new life, a new human kind over whom death shall reign no more, a new Eden-world, “wherein dwelleth righteousness.”


THE IDEAS OF NATURE AND THE SUPERNATURAL AS P‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏‏RESENTED IN THE SCRIPTURES.

THE idea of law in nature is given in the Bible in its own peculiar language, but it is as distinctly to be found there as in Newton’s “Principia.” The details were unknown, as they are yet in their vast extent unknown to our best science, but both the idea and the fact were none the less firmly held. “For ever, O Lord, thy Word is settled in the heavens” (Psalm 119:89), that is, in the remotest or highest space; “from age to age is thy truth” (thy truthfulness), i. e., throughout all time. That the language has reference to natural things may be seen by comparing it with Psalm 33:6, “By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth” (רוח פיו), the utterance of his month, that is, the originating Word, and its going forth or prolonged sounding in the nature originated, the λόγος προφορικός of Coloss. 1:17, ἐν ᾧ τὰ πάντα συνέστηκε, “in whom all things consist,” or stand together. So here, Psalms 119:89, דבר is the word of God, giving law, as it gave origin, to nature; אמונה is the divine faithfulness in the preservation of that law, and the constant execution of that word. The numerical ratios of this hok olam, or cosmical ordinance, were undetermined by the early mind; it was not known whether its energizings were according to the squares or the cubes of the distances, but of such a harmony existing in the heavens there was no doubt. “Their line had gone out into all the world;” the author of the 19th Psalm was as sure of this as Kepler, who derived his scientific inspiration from it. A mighty law, a universal law, was there. That was known to David as well as to Newton. The same idea appears in what follows: “Thou also hast founded the earth,” כוננת statuisti; thou hast given it an order, a genesis, an establishment. Hence, from this same root, the Syriac ܒܝܖ (ke-yo-no) natura, conditio naturalis. Again, in the verse following (Psalm 119:91), “they stand (that is, things stand) according to thine ordinances; for are they not all thy servants?” This is not a mere figure to denote a mere mechanical forcing; there is a real law, and a real natural obedience. “He constituteth the wind his minister, the flaming fire (the lightning) his servants,” Ps. 104:4. “Thou sendest them forth; they go and return to thee, saying, Behold us, here we are.” Job 38:35. Poetical as the language may be, there is something more than a fact represented, or a phenomenon. There is an abiding nature, an obedience to law, a command and a response,—not a capricious movement, but an invariable doing. “He appointeth the moon for seasons, the sun knoweth his going down.”

Our modern science has discovered much in respect to the manner, but has revealed nothing new in respect to the essence of the idea. We have similar language, Job 28:25: “He made a weight for the winds” (fecit ventis pondus),—he determined the gravity of the most seemingly imponderable substances,—“he established (תכן, regulated) the waters in their measure,” their proportions, their relations, their quality, as well as their quantity. “When he made a law for the rain, חק למ‬טר, (quando ponebat pluviis legem) and a way (דרך a constant course, an immutable rule) for the lightning and its voice.” It is the same idea in that most sublime declaration, Job 25:2, עשה שלום במרומיו), “He maketh peace in his high places,” concordiam in sublimibus suis, he hath established a harmony in the heavens. Compare Ps. 19:5; Hos. 2:22, 23.

It was this style of thought and language that led to nature’s being called a covenant, whether such covenant or law was regarded as made with nature, or with man, and for man’s sake. See Jeremiah 33:20. It is God’s “covenant of the day and night;” they are expressly called חקות שמים וארץ, the statutes, “the laws of the heaven and earth,” in their relations to each other, as compared with the higher covenant of the Messiah. One of the most invariable things in the physical world is the rainbow, ever appearing when the sun shines forth after a storm; and it is this beautiful phenomenon that is made the symbol of nature’s constancy,—not as a new thing, when pointed out to Noah, but chosen, from the very fact of its invariableness, as the best representative of the great idea thus grounded on the eternal promise.

There is a twofold idea in creation which the mind cannot separate, and which the Bible does not separate. It is the giving form by the immediate operation of the Word, and then the infixing that form as a permanent principle working on until the whole is finished, and afterward remaining as an unchanging law. The rudimentary expression for this we find in that repeated formula of Gen. 1. ויהי־כן, rendered, “and it was so.” That would simply denote the fact; but it is more than this. The particle כן (or the adjective rather) never loses the primary idea of fixedness, establishment, order, that is everywhere prominent in the verb כון, from which, as before remarked, comes the earliest Shemitic word for nature, unless we may regard it as represented by the Hebrew תולדה. “And it was so,”—rather, “and it became firm, fixed, established.”

Another germ of the same thought we find in the ממשלת of Gen. 1:16, the rule or law of the heavenly bodies in the regulation of the seasons, and their general influence upon the earth. It appears still more clearly in Job 38:33: “Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven; canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth.” Here we have again the חקות שמים, the statutes or laws of the heavens (Vulgate, ordinem cœli, LXX. τροπὰς οὐρανοῦ, the turnings or tropics of the heavens). משׁטר is a still more significant word than ממשלת. It denotes a canon, a rule, a marked series or ordo. Taken in connection with what is said above of the influence (or bands) of Pleiades, it might seem to refer to the old belief in astrology; but this had in it nothing of the magical. Whatever scientific errors it involved, it was precious as containing the idea of the unity of the Kosmos, or of a whole, in which each part had an influence upon the whole and upon every other part.

This faith in nature which the old Shemitic mind possessed, was all the stronger, it may be said, in proportion to the want of exact knowledge. David, and Isaiah, and Moses, had a belief in the constancy of nature, founded on better grounds than that of the sceptical naturalist. It was, too, more truly a recognition of law than that generalization of mere inductive science which can only regard nature as simply that which is, or appears, and law as nothing more than a state of present facts, or relative sequences, that might have been any other state of facts, or any other order of sequences, and which would still have been nature, still have been law, from the mere fact of its being so. The natural law of the Bible, on the other hand, was a real causative power, a real ruling or dominion in itself, though inseparable from the will and wisdom of a lawgiver.

The true notion of the natural cannot be held without the complementary idea of the supernatural, since nature can have no beginning in itself (the thought involving a contradiction), and, therefore, demands a power older than itself, beyond and above itself. It is thus that the Scripture not only gives, but necessitates, the idea of the supernatural, although there is no parade of philosophical language in setting it forth. There are also to be found therein the specific diversities of the idea. The supernatural, as origin, is described as the Word going forth. It is thus all through creation acting pari passu with the natures it originates. When it is referred to among post-creative acts it is characterized as “making something new upon the earth” (כריאה); see Numb. 16:30; Jerem. 31:22; though this, as before remarked, denotes a new event, a new form of things, rather than new matter. As a change, interruption, or metamorphosis in nature, in distinction from a permanent new power introduced into it, it becomes simply the idea of the miraculous. For this there is a peculiar expression. It is called “the finger of God,” intimating that the merest touch of Deity can cause a deflection in nature, though nothing in nature is really broken or destroyed. See Exodus, 8:15, the language of the baffled magicians, who thereby confessed that their art, whatever it might be, was not the finger of God,—that is, had nothing of the supernatural about it. See also Exod. 31:18; Deut. 9:10. Sometimes the figure contained in the expression is applied to some great natural event of the more sudden and stupendous kind, as to the volcano, Psalms, 104:32: “He touches the mountains and they smoke,”—the lightness of the effort implying the mightiness of the power.

The single term, however, for the miraculous, or wonderful, is פֶלֶא, whose primary idea is that of a thing, or an act, separate and standing by itself, out of the chain of causation, though the term is sometimes applied rhetorically to a stupendous natural event.24 And this leads us to the main thing we wish here to remark, that though, in idea, the Scriptural distinction between the natural and the supernatural is clear, there is not, in practical speech, that sharp line drawn between them that distinguishes our modern thinking. In celebrating the praises of God עשה פלא, “who doeth wonders” (Ex. 15:11), the Bible writers are as apt to take one class of acts as another, though one or the other may predominate in certain books in consequence of the peculiar connections. In the Law, and in the Prophets, the supernatural is more dwelt upon; it is the passage of the Red Sea, the fire and voice from Sinai, the smiting of the rock in the Wilderness, &c.; in Job, it is the great natural as exhibited in the elements, the storm, the thunder, and the marvellous productions of the animal world. So also often in the Psalms—see especially Ps. 29. One class of events is regarded as much the work of God as the other. In both representations, moreover, is there a mingling of the two ideas. In the supernatural displays, such as that of the flood, the crossing of the Red Sea, the Egyptian plagues, the providing food in the Wilderness, there is more or less of natural intervention linked in and distinctly mentioned as forming a part, at least, of the process. And then again the great natural is so described in Job and the Psalms, that the awe of the supernatural is upon us, and we receive the impression of a divine presence as distinctly as though it had been all miracle.

But it is in the creative account that this blending becomes most remarkable. The young nature, though strictly a nature, seems as near to God as the supernatural. Still are they clearly distinguishable. Two false notions have warped our thinking here. It may be said, too, that they are as anti-biblical as they are false. All in creation we have been accustomed to regard as supernatural; all since creation as the uninterrupted natural, with the exception, here and there, of a few interspersed miraculous events. An excessive naturalism on the one hand has been the counterpart to an excessive supernaturalism on the other. Now the more thoroughly we study Gen. 1. the more it will be found that the strictly supernatural is in the beginnings, or rather in the mornings, of each day, whilst the carrying on, or the completion of each process, is strictly nature, the mora, as St. Augustine calls it, the pause, quiescence, or evening in creation. There is in each of these days, or these mornings, whether we regard them as following or preceding the repose, a word going forth, and then a process of obedience to a new law. Thus each word is a new power dropped into the stream of a previous nature which had, in like manner, a word for its beginning. Hence creation is a succession of growths, generations, תלדות. This word is derived from ילד, to give birth, just as natura from nascor, φύσις from φύω, or genesis (γένεσις) from γίγνομαι. Had the old Hebrew become a philosophical language this would have been the order of development. Lange intimates that toledoth, as applied to the generations of the earth and heavens, was taken retroactively from the human genealogies after mentioned. We cannot think so. It would seem to be a starting or model name for all generative successions. First the genesis of the heavens and earth, then of the human race, as involving ever in their reproductions the same mingling of the natural and the supernatural.

We find a nature in the very beginnings of life. It is all prepared and waiting for the word, but it is nature when it moves. “Let the earth bring forth”—“let the waters bring forth.” The first plants grow, whether slowly or suddenly. They are a production from the earth. They are brought forth according to their species, with their order or law in them. As תולדח corresponds to φύσις and natura, so does the Hebrew מין to the Greek εἶοδος, ἰδέα, and the Latin species. This is etymologically clear in the derivative תמונח. It is the outward form, as representative of and produced by the inward form which is the real idea, or species. Thus it is law from the start, producing organization, and not law as a mere name for, and life as a mere result of, an outward mechanically formed organic structure. That would be sheer materialism. The process presented in the Scriptures, however difficult to be understood conceptually, is the opposite of the idea of mechanical formation. As Cudworth forcibly though quaintly expresses it in his distinction between human and divine art, God does not stand on the outside like a human artist, and moliminously, by means of shaping tools and processes, introduce his idea into the work. It is the word and the idea working from within. The outward material organization is its product instead of its cause.

It matters not that this is in another place spoken of as a making. That is merely a summary of the manner of making as here set forth in the more detailed account. God’s making a thing intends every step in its production. Thus the whole creation of the heavens and earth is set forth as a making (Gen. 2:4), and a making in one day; yet the whole of the first chapter is occupied with the six great days, or successions, that intervene between the darkness and the chaos on the one side, and man and paradise on the other.

Again, there are cases which might seem the reverse of this, where God is represented as making, forming, &c., in processes which are not only natural—so supposed to be—but ordinary. Thus not only the generic production of humanity, but the individual generation is ascribed to him, just as though it were a creative process; and in fact we do not see how the idea of their being the creative or the supernatural somewhere in each individual human generation can be denied by those who condemn traducianism. “Before I formed thee in the womb,” Jer. 1:5; it is that same word יצר which has been regarded as peculiarly employed of direct outward or mechanical formation, as the artist forms a statue or a picture. It is so only when applied to human works, where the artist, as Cudworth says, stands on the outside, but as used of God it is ever the inward formation, the εἶδος, or idea, of which the outward shape is but the image or εἴδωλον, the mere representative of the unseen. See also Isaiah 44:2, 24; Isaiah 43:1, where it is used as synonymous with ‏‏‏ברא. See especially Ps. 139:16: ימים יצרו, “the days they were formed when there was not one in them,” which carries the same idea, whether it refers to the generic or the individual formation. Had there been no other place in the Bible where the human generation is spoken of than the one cited from Jerem. 1:5, it might have been thought (if we follow the mode of interpretation which some will insist upon applying to Genesis) that the prophet was directly and mechanically created. Hence the idea as well as the interpretation is capable of reversal. If it means a process, as it undoubtedly does when thus used of the individual gestation, it may denote, and probably does denote, an analogous process in the creative account, where it is used of man, just as עשה and ברא, with no more of the outward or mechanical in the one case than in the other.

Only let us keep to the old Hebrew modes of thinking and speaking, and we need not be afraid of naturalism. It is God’s nature that we read of in Genesis: If life is said to come from the waters, let us remember that it was upon these same waters the Spirit brooded in the first mysterious night of creation. If it is naturalism, it is the naturalism of the Bible; and the wonder is that such plain declarations of birth, growth, succession, law, generation—one thing coming out of another—should have been so much overlooked. It is because the Scripture doctrine of the Word, or Logos, in nature, has so fallen out of our theology, that we dread so much the appearance of naturalism. In proportion as we have lost that true Scriptural idea of supernaturalism, which sees no inconsistency in such blendings, are we driven to the dogmatic or arbitrary supernaturalism to defend Our religious ideas from the equally dogmatic and arbitrary naturalism of modern science. We have endeavored to be brief, but the reader is requested to compare the hints here given, with the unmistakable language of the Scripture. Instantaneous creations there might have been, for anything our reason could say to the contrary; but the actual creation in the Bible is set forth as a succession. It is a series of תלדות, or generations, each one revealing those unseen things of God from which are made the things that do appear. The other mode would have been to us the revelation of a fact or facts alone. As we have it given unto us, it is a revelation of something more and higher,—of law, of process,—of artistic beauty,—of architectural wisdom. It is not the power alone, but the very mind of God, that is shown to us. The one would have been a creation simply in space; God has seen fit to reveal to us a creation in time, as well as in space, and this is inseparable from the ideas of succession, series, causation—in a word, of nature, beginning in the supernatural, yet having its law given to it, and capable of yielding obedience to that law.



HOLINESS, sublimity, truthfulness,—these are the impressions left upon the mind of the thoughtful reader of the First of Genesis. There is meant by this its subjective truthfulness. It is no invention. The one who first wrote it down, or first spoke it to human ears, had a perfect conscious conviction of the presence to his mind of the scenes so vividly described,—whether given to him in vision or otherwise,—and a firm belief in a great objective reality represented by them. It is equally evident, too, that it is the offspring of one conceiving mind. It never grew like a myth or legend. It is one total conception, perfect and consistent in all its parts. It bears no evidence of being a story artificially made to represent an idea, or a system of ideas. There is, in truth, nothing ideal about it. It presents on its very face the serious impression of fact believed, and given forth as thus believed, however the original representation may have been made to the first human soul that received it. Myths and legends are the products of time; they have a growth; we can, in general, tell how and whence they came, and after what manner they have received their mythical form. Thus, other ancient cosmogonies, though bearing evidence of derivation from the one in Genesis, have had their successive accretions and deposits of physical, legendary, and mythological strata. This stands alone in the world, like the primeval granite of the Himalaya among the later geological formations. It has nothing national about it. It is no more Jewish than it is Assyrian, Chaldæan, Indian, Persian, or Egyptian. It is found among the preserved Jewish writings, but there is nothing, except its pure monotheistic aspect, which would assign it to that people rather than to any other. If the Jews derived it from others, as is often affirmed, then is it something very wonderful, something utterly the reverse of the usual process, that they should have so stripped it of all national or sect features, and given it such a sublime aspect of universalism, so transcending, apparently, all local or partial history.

It is no imitation. Copies may have been made from it, more or less deformed, but this is an original painting. The evidence is found in its simplicity, unity, and perfect consistency; whilst in all others the marks of the traditional derivation are to be detected. Overloaded additions, incongruous mixtures, inharmonious touches, all prove that the execution and the original design, the outline and the deformed or crowded filling up, are from different and very dissimilar sources. Take the Scriptural representation of the original formlessness, the primeval darkness, the brooding spirit, the going forth of the light, or the first morning, the uprising of the firmament, the emerging of the land from the waters, and compare it with the Greek fables derived from the Egyptian, and which Hesiod has given as the traditional cosmogony. How is all this sublime imagery transformed and deformed in the mythical genealogy that tells us how from Chaos (the yawning abyss) were born Night and Erebus, and how from them arose the Æther and the Day, and how afterwards Earth was born, from whom, and “like to itself on all sides surrounding,” came “starry Ouranos!” There is enough to show that the Greek or Egyptian cosmogony had its origin in this ante-historical, ante-mythical account, but no less clear is it that the pure, the holy, the consistent, the sublimely monotheistic narrative was the most ancient, and that these deformities grew out of the nature-worship, whether pantheistic or polytheistic, which, in the course of human depravity, succeeded the earlier, more grandly simple, and less assumingly philosophic idea of the world and its one creator.

It is greatly in favor of the Bible account that it has no philosophy, and no appearance of any philosophy, either in the abstract form, or in that earlier poetical form which the first philosophy assumed. Its statements of grand facts have no appearance of bias in favor of any class of ideas. Its great antiquity is beyond dispute; it is older, certainly, than history or philosophy. It was before the dawning of anything called science, as is shown by the fact that everything is denoted by its simplest phenomenal or optical name. There is no assigning of non-apparent causations, except the continual going forth of the mighty Word. It is impossible to discover any connection between it and any mythical poetry. The holy sublimity that pervades it is at war with the idea of direct and conscious forgery, designed to impose on others, and the thought of it as a mere work of genius, having its interest in a display of inventive and descriptive talent, is inconsistent with every notion we can form of the thinking and aims of that early youth of the human race. It was not the age then, nor till long after, of literary forgeries or fancy-tales. We are shut up to the conclusion of its subjective truthfulness, and its subjective authenticity. At a very early day, to which no profane history or chronology reaches, some man who was not a philosopher, not a poet, not a fable-maker, but one who “walked with God,” and was possessed of a most devout and reverent spirit—some such man, having a power of conception surpassing the ordinary human, or else inspired from above, had present to his soul in some way, and first wrote down, or uttered in words, this most wonderful and sublime account of the origin of the world and man. He believed, too, what he wrote or uttered. He was conscious of some source, whether by words or vision, whence he had received it, and he had no doubt of its relation to an outward objective truth which it purported to set forth.

Even as a mere subjective reality, such a picture, in such a soul, and at such an early day presents a question of deepest interest. But whence came it? Not simply, who first wrote it? but who or what first put into the human mind the wondrous ideas contained in that early writing בראשית ברא אלהים את השמים ואת הארץ, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth?” To ascribe it to tradition amounts to nothing. It is only going back upon our steps, to come at last to one who first gave it as a whole; for, as before remarked, there is no appearance of growth about it. No knowledge of it could have come from tradition. Other parts of Scripture either fall within historical times, or they narrate events whose story might have come down from eye-witnesses. This could have had no witnesses, and could appeal to none. It relates to things transcending all human experience, all possible human knowledge. The very assuming to narrate is a claim to inspiration, or of knowledge believed to have been obtained in some divine or præternatural way. As something thought out by the human soul alone, even in the highest exercise of its highest genius, it could have commanded no respect. It would immediately have been met by the challenge, Job 38:4: “Where wast thou when God laid the foundations of the earth? Knowest thou it because thou wast then born, or because the number of thy days is great?”

We are driven then to the same supposition that is indulged in respect to prophecy. If that is vision in the future, this is vision in the past. It was an impression made upon the soul, whether regarded as wholly subjective, or as connected with some outward vocal causality. Viewing it as a revelation, there comes strongly to us the conviction that it must have been something more than a message in bare words. Without the vision conceptions which they call up, words are powerless, and, though necessary in the ordinary transmission to other minds, would have been an inferior medium for the first conveyance of the ideas or images to the first conceiving human soul. We are always to remember, too, that the image or conception is itself a language representing the remoter fact, or the remoter idea, even as it is itself represented to others by understood words. In ordinary historical revelation, words, articulated or suggested, may be first, since the conceptions linked with them are familiar and easily follow; though in this case it would still be revelation, still entitled to the name inspiration, even if the higher divine author employed merely the truthful memory of holy truthful men. In considering, however, the case of the original presentation of facts utterly unknown, and of which the human mind had previously no types or conceptions, the question assumes a new aspect. It comes to us in this form: Will revealing words, merely, call up the most vivid picture (for in either method it is only a picture that the mind has), or will revealing pictures, on the other hand, necessarily suggest the best words as the only medium of transmission to other minds? Will word-painting give the most distinct conceptions of this terra incognita, or will vision-painting call out the best language wherewith to describe it? If the latter view seems the most rational, as well as more in analogy with the style of the prophetic Scriptures, then may we believe that creation was thus presented to this prophet of the past, this SEER of the unknown, or rather of the utterly unknowable, ante-creative history. We may go farther than this. It may well be doubted whether, without vision in the first place, or as dependent solely on naked words, it would not have given the dimmest images to the first imaging mind, if it had not, rather, failed to impart any conception.

Behind this picture, or this vision representation, lay the ineffable ideas; and, therefore, the bare facts in their grand outline, or the bare succession, are thus vividly limned, as best representing what words, without such successive scenes, would have much less adequately conveyed. Or we may suppose it presented subjectively to both senses. There were vision voices as well as vision sights. Certain awful words were heard, and the callings and the namings, about which there has been so much speculation, and which, when regarded as actual parts of creation, have given rise to so much difficulty, were as subjectively real (that is, real parts of the vision), as the gatherings and the dividings. They were heard as John “heard a great voice out of heaven,” or as Daniel heard “the speaking between the banks of Ulai,” or as Ezekiel heard “the noise of the cherubic wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of speech, the voice of the Almighty.” So Balaam “heard the words of God and saw the visions of El Shaddai;” he “beheld that which was not nigh, and saw that which was not now.” Remote time and remote space were brought together upon the canvas. May we not believe this of the greater and holier prophet of creation, in his vision of the ineffable past?

If the theory may be indulged, then may we also reverently endeavor to imagine something of the process in this creative representation, as we may gather it from the language in which it has been described. The vision opens with what the SEER can only paint in words as a thohu wabhohu, a void and formless earth. The terms themselves, though well translated, show the imperfection of language, and yet they are, doubtless, the best that could have been employed. They are inspired language, too, because most directly suggested by the inspired vision. The SEER was in that state of initial contemplation to which the prophet Jeremiah is carried back in the reversed picture, where he sees the earth returning again to the primeval desolation: “I beheld the earth, and lo, it was without form and void, תהו וכהו; and I looked to the heavens, and they had no light,” Jerem. 4:23. This is the beginning. It is a vision of darkness resting on a formless abyss. There is something, whether sound or vision, or both combined, that gives the impression of a Spirit hovering over the waters, or breathing upon their vast surface, or commencing the pulsations of life in their deep interior. It is the beginning of nature. And now he hears a mighty voice saying: “Let there be light.” Obedient to the Word the light comes forth (έκ σκότους, says the Apostle in his interpretation of this pictorial language, 2 Cor. 4:6) out of the darkness. The first elemental division is seen taking place. It is a dividing of the light from the darkness.

Again, a voice that calls it good, and is heard giving the names לילה יום, yom, la-y-la, Day, Night, to this first creative contrast. A solemn pause succeeds. One creative period, one great time succession, is past, and again goes forth the Word. And now a sky, a heaven, presents itself, though all is fluid still. It is a phenomenon as strange as it is beautiful and sublime. There is an appearance of waters above and waters below, with an optical firmament, like the Revelation sea of glass, seeming to divide them from each other. We may regard it as a phenomenal, or optical, representation of the atmosphere with the clouds sailing in it, and the rain mysteriously suspended in the upper spaces,—a matter which even now science finds it difficult to understand.25 Or, with Lange and others, we may interpret it as denoting the separation between the lower waters proper and the upper æthereal fluid. In either case, that which is beheld is the actual appearance, or the optical word representing the fact, or state in nature, lying back of it, conceived according to the science, real or supposed, of the SEER, and expressed in articulate or written words according to such conception. Thus we may take “waters above and waters below” as simply the expression of such conception, the grand fact revealed being the production, on the second day, or period, of that natural state of things which is actually represented by the sky and atmosphere. Or we may take it without such explanation as denoting a nature or state of things long gone, and which has little or nothing corresponding to it in any present aspect of the world. The “waters above and waters below” may have been an actual condition, an actual stage in the creative process thus revealed in vision, as no science could ever have revealed it—an “old heavens,” in fact, that passed away at or before the introduction of the “new heavens” and new firmament of the fourth day. For it seems clear that in the SEER’S view, and according to the very consistency of the account itself, this vision of “waters above” would not be in harmony with the firmamental phenomena of that later period. Should any one, in the name of science, declare this to be impossible, or deny that there could ever have been any reality in nature, or in the history of our planet, represented by such a conception, let him take one of the largest telescopes and turn it to the rings of Saturn. Why might not such a phenomenon have been exhibited by our “earth and heavens” in that early semi-chaotic state to which Saturn, according to our best science, now bears so close a resemblance? How are these rings supported, whether liquid or aërial? If liquid, the state of things would correspond exactly to the language of the text, and, if so, the possibility of our earth having once presented a similar appearance would not be unworthy the attention either of the Biblical student or the man of science.

But to return to the creative scene; at this stage again there comes in the imago vocis.—“And God called the firmament heaven” (שמיס, heights). There is another naming, another voice of benediction, another solemn pause; the second vision closes, and thus “ there is an evening and a morning, day second.”

And now a third command is heard, like the voices that attest the opening of the Revelation seals, and a new earth appears emerging from the waters. It should be remarked that there is no time here,—time, we mean, as estimated or measured duration; for there is nothing whereby to measure it outside of the events themselves. There is no fixed index of movement, whether constant or changing, or of any constant or varying rate of change. It is time only as succession, or rather the successions are themselves the times,—the great dividings, the solemn pauses, the new appearings, making the evenings and the mornings of the numbered days. It is “from Olam to Olam” (Ps. 90: 2), from age to age. The unit of measurement is the change in nature produced by the “Word, and the number and order of these changes and successions is the great matter of revelation. “Not how long,” as Delitzsch well says, “but how many times God created,” is the essential idea intended to be set forth. There is no absolute standard either of time or space. An hour, regarded as blank duration, has no more reality than an unrelated inch or foot. Since, then, an outside measured time is one of the things created, it cannot be the measure of creation itself.

But again the vision changes, and lo, a new heavens and a new earth. The old rakia has passed away, and a new firmament appears, with its sun, moon, and stars. They are lights in the heavens (מאודות). So the SEER calls them,—lights of greater and of lesser splendor. He does not speak of them as globes, or solid bodies, according to the ideas derived from our modern astronomy, of which he had no knowledge, no conception, and, if we may trust the simplicity and silence of the account, no revelation. They were to him simply lights in the firmament, and nothingmore; even as to us, with all our science, they are still but images in our near heavens,—optical appearances comparatively close by us, though made by a far-off causality. Such a statement may not seem easy or natural to some minds affected by certain scientific pre-judgments ; but that does not prevent its being literal fact. The sun we see is simply an appearance. These heavenly lights, as they are reflected and refracted in our near atmospherical sky, or rakia, are just as much images as the spectrum that is artifically cast in the astronomer’s observatory. Their ruling or dominion, as mentioned Gen. 1:16, is not, primarily, a physical or dynamical power (though this may be included in the language when science discovers it), but a time-regulating, and, in this way, a life-regulating dominion. As lights to this earth, the only point of view in which they are earliest regarded, the aeonic date of their appearance is all that is given in this creative vision, whilst their antecedent materiality in time, as well as their remote causality in space, are left to the inference of human reason, and the discoveries of human science. The one of these ideas, namely, that the material origin of the sun and stars dates from the earliest creative period, antecedent, remotely antecedent, perhaps, to their appearance in our terrene firmament, is commonly received without difficulty, and seems to be demanded by the literal consistency of the account itself. It has never been maintained that the matter of the sun was created, or even organized, on the fourth day. This being so held in respect to the remote time origin of this firmamental light, there is really no more difficulty in regarding in a similar manner that distant power, or entity, in space with which the phenomenon is connected. Both are extra visionem; both lay equally on the outside in this account of the fourth day having relation only to the phenomenal changes which took place in our earth or its near surrounding atmospherical heavens. The connection between this light in the celestial mirror, and a vast body 95,000,000 miles distant, was left to the progress in knowledge to be made by the human faculties which God meant should be exercised in such discoveries. “We see in this a reason, it may be reverently said, why the time element, especially as order of succession, enters so much more into the creative account than any revelation in space. The relative distances and magnitudes of the worlds lie more within the range of human knowledge; the ages or periods of the kosmos, involving as they do the supernatural, are almost wholly beyond it. “By faith we understand that the worlds (the αἰῶνεζ or time worlds) were framed (put in order, κατηρτίσθαι) by the Word of God,” Heb. 11:3. Science can never get out of the natural as a fixed course of things once established and now continuing, of which it may be said ויהי כן, “and it was so,” or became firm. She can never attain to the supernatural, and therefore it is that she has ever had more to do with the space than with the time process, with things as they are, than as they came to be. The ten times repeated way-yomer (and God said), the mighty utterances of “Him whose outgoings are of old, from the days of eternity” (Mic. vvv. 1), the six great evolutions in the earth’s genesis, no science could ever determine, or hope to determine; although, “from the things that are yet seen,” or from footprints that are left of those “outgoings,” she might infer, in general, that the earth had a vast antiquity, immeasurable by any computations drawn from present astronomical arrangements.

And so we might proceed through all the subsequent pictorial stages in the supposed vision process, but reverence would require us to stop with what is sufficient to give an intimation of the probable method of revealing. It closes with the appearance of man, the divine presence in the contemplation of the completed work, and the solemn benediction, as it is now heard rising to the superlative in the utterance: “all good,” טוב מאד, “exceeding good.” Thus “the Heavens and the Earth are finished, with all their hosts,” as these appeared in the optical firmament that bounded the SEER’S view, as it does, in strictness, all human vision. Science claims to have pierced beyond it,—to have thrown back the fiammanita mænia mundi, and to have brought the far-off nigh. All that she has yet discovered, however, is relative distance, magnitude, motions, dynamical laws, and mathematical ratios. She has constructed a splendid orrery in the heavens; but in all that relates to life, and rationality, and spiritual being, the skies are as silent as of old. They still shut us in,—our earth and near surrounding optical heavens. Of their real hosts we know no more than God has seen fit to reveal to us in other ways. , Of anything above man, or beyond man, we have, from science, no greater facilities of conception than belonged to David, or Daniel, or Pythagoras. Number, motion, space relations, optical changes, serving as diagrams for the exposition of mathematical ideas,—these are all we see in the heavens, all we know. It is indeed much, scientifically, but it adds little or nothing to our knowledge of substantial being. For this, in all beyond our earth, we are as much dependent on revelation, or on the imagination, as the first recipients of the creative vision.

It is generally admitted that the language used in reference to the fourth day is phenomenal, but a careful study, we think, will discover that this feature exists, more or less, throughout, making it all the more easy to receive the vision theory of its inspiration. It is “ by faith in the things unseen,” as defined in a later Scripture (Heb. 11:1, 3), or faith in the νοούμενα, as distinguished from the Φαινόμενα, “that we understand (νοοῦμεν, perceive intellectually) that the worlds (the αἰῶνεζ) were put in order by the Word of God, so that the things that are seen (phenomena) were made from things that do not appear” (ex invisibilibus visibilia fierent). But the earlier revelation in Genesis is made through the sense, and to the sense, primarily, leaving to the later faith, and to science as employed by it, to divine a priori, or to discover by induction, the more interior causalities, or the more remotely distant powers which these primary universal phenomena represent.

“With the science, however, of this old narrator we have little to do. For the purposes of interpretation all that is necessary to be maintained is the subjective truthfulness and consistency of the picture. It was not a theory, not a fancy, or a guess,—much less a designed forgery. Such sights were seen, such voices were heard, by some one in the early time, and he has most faithfully and graphically narrated them to us. The style bears the strongest testimony to this. It carries the internal evidence that it is a telling from the eye, whether the outward or the inward eye, rather than from the ear. Calling it a dream, or a vision, does not detract from its significance or its glory. But we are not concerned with that here. The view taken of the probable subjective process is simply in aid of interpretation, which is nothing more nor less than getting at the true conception of the writer from the language employed, whether that language was the effect or the cause of such conception. The absolute truthfulness of the account, or of that which it represents, presents another question. This is connected with the absolute verity of the Holy Scripture in general, as grounded upon its whole external and internal evidence.

We have already alluded to the analogy of prophecy. If the vision theory is in harmony with the best view of prophetical inspiration, as sanctioned by so many passages of Scripture, it is still more demanded in the present case; since the future is not so sharply divided from the present, as the present and the future both from the ante-creative past. In both the prophetic and the creative representation words may form a part of the vision, as res gesta, whilst the general narrating language is that which is prompted by the vision. In such case, though called the writer’s own language, it is none the less the language of revelation, and none the less may the Scripture that records it be said to be verbally inspired. The sights seen, the voices heard, the emotions aroused, are just those adapted to bring out the very words the SEER actually uses, and, in both cases, the very best words that could have been used for such a purpose. Hence we may truly say it is the language of the divine inspirer as well as that of the human narrator. The description being given from the bare optical, rather than from any reflexive scientific standpoint more or less advanced, becomes, on this very account, the more vivid as well as the more universal. It is a language read and understood by all. What lies behind it will be conceived according to the state of knowledge, true or false. We may confess the inadequacy of such language, not because better could have been employed, or other words could have done as well, but because the best words which the inspired mind can use, or the uninspired mind receive, necessarily fall short even of the vividness of the vision reality, and still farther short of the ineffable truth which that vision represents. Any use of scientific language, whether the Ptolemaic, or the Newtonian, or that of a thousand years hence, would be still remote from this ineffable truth, whilst it would be a seeming endorsement of its absolute accuracy. Indeed, the language may be rightly said to be inspired, though no words at all are used, or even when the inspiration itself may be pure vision, or even pure emotion elevating the thoughts and conceptions. In either case, the words which are the result are God’s words, the last best product of the inspiring power, all the more vivid and emotional in the reader from the very fact of their having come through such a process of spiritual chemistry (as we may call it) in the real human life and human emotion of the inspired medium. In this way all the words of the Holy Scripture are inspired words,—“pure words, as silver tried, purified seven times,” Ps. 12:7.

Whatever be the human faculty employed as the medium, whether it be the understanding elevated and purified by a divine emotion, or a vivid imaging power supernaturally aroused in a state of trance or ecstasis, or simply a holy and truthful human memory, the words resulting have passed through a refining process in which they carry with them the divine truth, not as a

mere mechanical massage, but in all the vividness and fulness of the human conception. Thus they are divine words, although at the same time, most human. We may therefore study them with confidence. They are not arbitrary, and open to disparaging criticism, except as to their textual accuracy. Human as the language of the Bible is, it is still God’s medium, and we can never exhaust its meaning. The process of learning from it, therefore, must be the reverse of that by which it is communicated. It is a going back, up the stream, and towards the fountain-head. Through the words of the inspired writer we get at his images, from these we ascend to his thoughts and their inspiring emotions, and in these, again, the soul draws nigh to that higher life and verity of which the inspired conception is the best human representative.

Words suggesting images, or images suggesting words: the first would be called the objective method (whether such words were miraculously articulated to the ear, or whispered to the mind), and yet it is not easy to see why it would not be, to a certain extent, as subjective as the other,—since in both cases, the imperfect human conception, whether of words or things, or of words or images, must make a necessary part of the revealing process. In this objective view there remains, in all its force, the great difficulty arising from those passages in which God is represented as speaking, calling, naming, &c. We are compelled to take it as an internal articulate speaking, in the Hebrew, or in some other language, or else to hold that there is in the account a mixture of the figurative and the literal style. In the subjective, or vision view, the difficulty vanishes; and this is a great argument in its favor. In vision, one part is as real, that is, as much seen and heard by the SEER, as the other. A great power dividing, a great voice speaking, a great presence surveying the effects produced and pronouncing it good, are all represented to his ecstatic consciousness, and he relates it just as it was beheld and heard. Thus, too, there vanishes all that difficulty which so much perplexes Delitzsch (see p. 86) in respect to the particular language employed. It was the SEER’S own language, whether the Hebrew, or any older tongue.

If it be said that speech or Word, as thus used, denotes something more than mere articulate language, it may readily be admitted. This is, in fact, the substance of the distinction made by Pareus (Comment. Gen. p. 91) and many others, ancient and modern, between the verbum essen-tiale, and the sonus evanidus ex ore Dei non procedens. It is, however, something more real than a comparison. Nature as a motion, a pulsation, a continued throbbing energy in time and space, may well be called an utterance, and the primal power by which it is commenced and prolonged, a Word going forth. Without any figure, it is an articulating voice in the great cosmical medium, even as our human voice sounds through the prolonged undulations of the terrestrial atmosphere. It may be conceived as spoken, and at the same time as continually responding to the primal utterer, thus constituting the verbum essentiale of which the vision voice (imago vocis, Heb. בת קל), as uttered in human language,26 may be regarded as the representative. It is like the essential day, or cycle, of which the phenomenal solar cycle is the type. If such a mode of interpretation is good for the one case, what right has any one to deny its fitness in the other ? Whatever be the smaller scale of representation, there must be harmony and analogy in the things represented. There must not be a transcending vastness in the one direction, and a narrowness out of all proportion in the other. The ineffable voice, the ineffable work, the ineffable rest, demand as their fitting accompaniment the ineffable evening and morning, making the ineffable day.

Thus regarded, Gem i. is an apocalypse of the great past, even as the revelation to John in Patmos is an apocalypse of the great future. Had the latter not used the first person in stating what he saw and heard, we should none the less have regarded it as a vision. It has the vision style in its mystic numbers, its solemn repetitions, its regular successions of voices, seals, and vials. There is not so much of this in Genesis, but there is a great deal that reminds us of it in the regular dividings and namings, in the sublime enunciations, in the parallelism of day and night successions so constantly given in the same language, in that rhythmical movement which ever seems more or less an accompaniment of the ecstatic condition,27 in the heraldic announcement of an established order (ויה־כן), like a responsive amen succeeding each new going forth of the Word, and in the solemn benediction at each close, until the great finale, where it is all declared good,—“very good.” Another resemblance is in the time aspect. In Genesis as in Revelation there is the same impression of a strange chronology that cannot be measured by any historical or scientific scale out of its own movement. It is like distance in a picture. It is there, but we cannot bring it either into miles or inches. It has succession; height appears beyond height, but there is no estimating the valleys, the immense valleys, it may be, that lie between. In view of all this, it might be said, on the other hand, that had the author of Gen. i. used, like John, the first person directly, It would have made little or no difference in the style of the narrative, or in the pictorial effect produced by it.ְ

This analogy between the opening and closing portions of Scripture may be carried throughout. As the scenic or vision view in the prophetic picture does not warrant us in regarding it as scene merely, or do away with the idea of a great reality lying behind, so neither does such a vision theory of the creative account detract, in the least, from a like reality in the great past, and of which such vision was the most fitting representative to our limited powers of conception as well as to our ever imperfect science regarded as ever falling short of the ultimate facts of origin, whether called creative or purely physical. We may suppose it, therefore, chosen on this very account, as not merely the best, but the only way in which the ineffable facts might be made shadowly conceptual to the human soul. Still, the fact, whether we rightly conceive it or not, is in the representation, and he who takes the two as in all respects identical, or reduces them to the same measurement, has the essential faith, only he should not condemn as heretical or unscriptural the one who preserves the same ultimate facts but interprets the representation of them on the vaster and remoter scale.

In most cases, however, it is not difficult to separate between what we have called the mode of representation and the ineffable truth (believed, though in a great degree unknown,) that lies back of it. We read, for example, in Genesis, that God “formed man in his own image.” Now, none but the grossest gnosticizing heretics have regarded this as a plastic formation of clay into an outward molded likeness. So also when we are told that ” God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life,” the representation is most clear and perfect; we have a distinct image of a divine mouth breathing into the as yet inanimate human nostril; there is something very tender in it, denoting, as Lange poetically says, the Father of Spirits awaking man to existence with a kiss of love; but, after all, the mind goes back of the representation in both these cases. The mere language is transcended even by the mystery of the human physical life as expressed in the one instance, much more so by that of the rational or spiritual life as set forth in the other. Now there is nothing to forbid—in fact, there is everything to require—a similar mode of interpretation when it is said “God formed man from the earth,” or out of the dust of the earth. The image is similar to that employed in the other cases, and we may suppose that the SEER beheld, even as the reader conceives, a plastic formation, a mold, shaped but inanimate, beginning to move under a pneumatic inspiration; but the thoughtful mind, again, goes back to something beyond it. It is helped by this picture, but it does not rest in it. It finds little or no difficulty in taking this coming “from the earth,” or this being “formed from the earth,” as denoting a divine process in nature, resembling the other processes similarly represented in this wonderful account (see Remarks, p. 135 on Ps. 139:15). It is a mode of setting forth the contrast between sole and body, between the physical and the rational, the animal and the pneumatical,—one from the divine life and the divine spirit, the other from nature,—“from the earth earthy” (ἐκ γῆζ χοϊκὸζ, 1 Cor. 15:47), even as the plants and the animals came originally from the earth and the waters. Time is not given us here, whether long or short. All that we have is the fact that by some process (necessarily involving some idea of causality, succession, and duration,) the human body was brought from the earth,—or that thus the human physical, coming from the lower physical (from the lowest parts of the earth, Ps. 139:15), and through the connecting links, types, or molds, as carried upwards by the divine formations, was at last brought into the state in which it was prepared to receive that divine inspiration which alone constitutes the species, and makes it man. Thus the true creation of man, as man, was an inspiration. The primus homo was the first man thus inspired, and who became the progenitor of the species. The first Adam was made by the divine life raising the physical or animal into the rational. The second Adam represents a higher inspiration, elevating the rational human to a closer union with the divine. Such is the analogy of the Apostle. Christ elevates the human, even as the first human, “ by the inspiration of the Almighty,” is the uplifting of the merely animal or physical that lay below. The second mystery is the greatest, and our belief in it should take away any wonder or difficulty that may attend the first.

Again, in that mysterious account, Gen. 2:21, had it been said: “And I saw the man cast into a deep sleep, and lo, the Lord God took from him a rib,” &c, we would have recognized the vision style, and separated immediately between the representation and the ineffable fact involving the ineffable process through which the female nature was originally divided from the one generic humanity. All this is intimated in that mysterious language of the first chapter (Gen. 2:27) of which this may be regarded as the scenic representation, or filling out of the picture: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him, male and female created he them”. The him and the them, the אֹתוֹ and the אֹתָס, are one generic being, one creation. This is given to us in the first language. There is, however, necessarily a derivation in the process, not mentioned in the first, but represented to us in the second and more graphic picture. Here, too, if any one is inclined, or feels himself compelled to take the fact and the scenic representation of it as identical, he has the essential faith, and the essential dogma, woman derived from man; but why should we find difficulty in adopting, in this case, a mode of interpretation which we not only find easy but even regard as demanded in the two first-mentioned cases of the image and the inbreathing ?

Again—let us take Gen. 2:19: “And out of the ground God formed every beast of the field, &c, and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them, &c.; and Adam gave names to all cattle, and to every fowl, and to every beast of the field.” This has nothing of the mythical in its style. As literal narration it has a difficulty, but this consists chiefly in its strangeness, which is wholly a matter of sense conception, whilst there is nothing in it, even as thus taken, to offend the reason or a rational faith. That God should thus teach the first man by bringing suggestive objects before him, even as a father teaches his child the letters of the alphabet, is in perfect harmony with the best view we can form of the providential and the supernatural, if these ideas are to be admitted at all. When the account, however, is regarded as a vision, or a picture, all difficulties vanish, whether in regard to the style or the matter. As an objective narration, it would seem to represent a second creation of animals for this special purpose; as something given in vision, it sets itself wholly free from the necessity of any such inference. It becomes similar to the trance vision of the animals as seen by Peter, Acts, 11:5, 6. It is the method of revealing to us that there is an ineffable mystery in language, that man was led into it by the divine guidance, or that the superhuman is demanded to account for its origin as the significant naming of things and ideas in distinction from those mere animal cries of the sense from which some would derive it. Language is required for the invention of language, if regarded as merely human, and that involves a paradox. Some divine or supernatural power, therefore, must have helped man in his first namings and classifyings. Such is the conclusion of the profoundest philological science, and such is the teaching of the Scriptures.

How far this is to be carried must be determined by intrinsic evidence. “We are not to resort to it merely to escape difficulties. The sober question is, whether the scenic representation, or the vision theory, is in harmony with the style of Scripture as employed in other cases where transcendent facts are set forth, and whether there is that in the very thought and aspect of the passage which favors the idea. “We know that the great future transition from the present world, αἰὼν or Olam, to the αἰὼν or world to come, is thus set forth, and it may he deemed in accordance with the analogy of Scripture, that the origines or great beginnings of the present Olam, as it proceeds from those that are past (ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων, Eph. 3:9; Col. 1:26; 1 Cor. 2:7), should be given to us in a similar apocalyptic form.



1[The Hebrew phrase for the ten commandments, עֲשֶׁרֶת הַדְּבָרִים, Exodus 34:28.—T. L.]

2We make cursory mention of the criticism of Sörensen, who, with his Commentary on Genesis, forms a parallel to the assertions of Bruno Bauer on the gospels of the New Testament. See KURTZ: History of the Old Covenant, pp. 46 and 53.

3The silence about Korah, Deut. 11:6, is explained as forbearance towards the remaining children of Korah, the devout Korahites, who afterwards appear so prominently as psalm-singers.

4[This remark, and the thought with which it is pregnant, are abundantly sufficient to do away all the reasons presented just above for assigning the book of Deuteronomy to the literature of the Solomonic period. What is said about the connection of Deut. 12th with the founding of Solomon’s temple, and of Deut. 17th with the law respecting the royal office, and other things of a similar kind, would, if true, show something more than a mere recension with occasional scholia. The remark of Lange, that Moses towards the close of his life wrote and spoke in the prophetic spirit, which, whether real or imagined, is most evident from the style of the last part of Deuteronomy, fully accounts for all this to one who receives the Bible as containing the prophetic and supernatural. What is said, too (p. 97), of the absence of Messianic allusions in Deuteronomy, though intended to prove, as it does most conclusively, that the writing of it could not have been as late as the express prophetic period, would also exclude it from the Davidic or Solomonic. That the Messianic idea had then come in is evident from such passages as 2 Sam. 7:13–16, the last words of David, 2 Sam. 23:5, together with 1 Kings 2:4, 23. It was, at least, the idea of a Messianic kingdom and of a never-ending royal succession. If the book of Deuteronomy had been written, or even compiled and corrected, in the time of Solomon, or later, such an idea would never have been omitted, or left without any trace.—T. L.]

5 [The importance of this remark cannot be overrated. The Old Testament is a unity of designed falsehood throughout, or it is a unity of historical truth. The patched-up legendary view of mingled traditions, subjective fancies, pure errors, and later compilations made from them, cannot account for it. The idea of an entire and continued forgery might theoretically explain its existence, were it not for one thing, namely, its utter incredibility beyond any of the marvellous contained in it. It would require a superhuman power of inventive falsehood. The supposition of a forged Pentateuch, at whatever time made, demands a forged history following it, a forged representation of a consistent national life growing out of it, a forged poetry commemorative of it and deriving from it its most constant and vivid imagery, a forged ethics grounded upon it, a forged series of prophecy continually referring to it, and making it the basis of its most solemn warnings. There must have been a specific forgery of an incredible number of minute events, episodes, incidental occurrences, having every appearance of historical truth, of countless proper names of men and places, far too many to be carried down by any tradition,—a forgery of proverbs, national songs, memorials, apothegms, oath-forms, judicial and religious observances, &c., &c., all made to suit. It is incredible. No human mind, or minds, were ever capable of this. There is no place for it to begin or end, unless we come square up to an admitted time of an existing, historical, well-known people, for whom all this is forged, and who are expected to receive it, and who do receive it, as their own true, veritable history, antiquity, and national life-development, although they had never before known or heard of it.

The idea of compilations from the legendary and the mythical explains well those early fabulous, indefinite, and unchronological accounts of other nations, which are sometimes spoken of as parallel to what is called the mythical, of the Hebrews. Nothing, however, could show a greater overlooking of what is most peculiar in the Hebrew Scriptures. The statistical and strictly chronological character of the Old Testament utterly forbids the parallel. It shuts us up to the conclusion of its entire forgery, or its entire truthfulness and authenticity. If the first is incredible, as even the Rationalists are compelled to acknowledge, the second must be true. There may be points, here and there, where such a general view may be supposed to be assailable, but the mind that once fairly receives it in its most general aspect, must find in it a power of conviction that cannot easily be disturbed. It compels us to receive what may be called the natural facts of the Bible history, and then the supernatural cannot be kept out. Such a people and such a book lying in the very heart of history, and regarded in its pure human aspect, or simply in its natural and historical-marvellous, demands the supernatural as its most fitting, and we may even say, its most natural, accompaniment and explanation.—T. L.]

6For the art of writing among the Hebrews, compare HENGSTENBERG: “Authenticity of the Pentateuch,” i. p. 415; WINER: “Article: the Art of Writing;” DELITZSCH, pp. 20, 21 (especially against Von Bohlen and Vatke). The Egyptians had at that time already a priestly and secular literature.

7 [The subjective derivation of אלהים, which connects it with the ideas of fear, or terror, has an interest for some interpreters, because it reduces the old Hebrew feeling to the level of the heathenish δεισιδαιμονία, or superstition, which is so different a thing from the יראת יהֹוה the loving reverence, or “fear of the Lord,” of the Old Testament. The connection with the Arabic aliha is far-fetched. It is the same root, doubtless, but worship, or religious service, in alaha, and terror in aleha, are later and secondary senses; just as that of swearing is a later or derived meaning both in the Hebrew and the Arabic usage. The idea of creative power is most fundamental in the word: a great being dwelling in the Heavens above, and who made and rules the world. With this are easily associated adoration and awe, but the idea of terror is foreign to every conception that Genesis gives us of the Sethitic and patriarchal life. Enoch’s “walking with God,” the calm, holy communion of Abraham and Jacob! nothing could be more opposed to the idea and the feeling of the Greek δεισιδαιμονία.

Power, greatness, vastness, height, according as they are represented by the conceptions of the day, carried to the farthest extent allowed by the knowledge of the day; this is the idea of El and Elohim, as seen in the etymological congruity of the epithets joined to them in Genesis. There are three especially that Lange has mentioned and which thus denote power or greatness in its three conceivable dimensions of space, time, and sublimity (or rank): אל שדי (El Shaddai), Deus omnipotens, or Deus sufficiens, אל עולם (El Olam), Deus eternitatis, אל עליוך (El Elion), Deus altissimusπαντοκράτωρ—κράτιστος, αἰώνιος, ὕψιστος. Our terms infinite, absolute, &c., add nothing to these in idea, though modern science may be said (and yet even that may be doubted) to have enlarged the attending conceptions of the sense or the Imagination.

For the derivations of Allah by Arabic writers and philologists, see SPRENGER: “Leben und Lehre des Mohammed,” Vol. 1. p. 286.—T. L.

8[The names to which Dr. Lange here refers are all Hebrew futures in form, יבין ,ישראל ,יצקב, but it is not easy to see how any inference could be drawn from them in respect to the divine name. The letter י in some of them may be merely prosthetic—in others it may merely indicate something hopeful or prophetic in the naming.—T. L.]

9 [There may be a question whether it is strictly a plural at all, as thus frequently used, and not a very early euphonic abbreviation of the construct phrase אל־אלהים, as we find it occurring in all its emphatic fulness, Ps. 1. אל אֱלֹהִים יִהוָֹה God of Gods Jehovah (El-Elohim Jehovah) God of all superhuman powers, or of all that may be called Gods. The easy doubling of the ל, of which the Hebrew furnishes such plain examples, and its being, from its peculiar liquidity, pronounced as one, would be in favor of such an idea. It is thus in the word הללו־יה, which is pronounced hallelujah, if we give to the לּ its double sound, though it is written חַלְלוּ־יָה, as though it were to be pronounced ha-lelu-jah. The regular piel-form would be הַלְּלו hal-le-lu. An analogous case is furnished by the manner in which the divine name has come to be written and pronounced in the Arabic. It is in full الاله Al-elah or Al-alah, with the article, and so it is understood etymologically, whilst it is not only pronounced, but written, الله Allah. So אֵל אֱלֹהִים El-Elohim, by vowel changes easily explained, might come to be pronounced rapidly אֵלּלֹהים El-llo-him, then El-lo-him, and finally Elohim, so as to become identical in appearance with the simple plural form of אֱלֹהַ. We are reminded here of that unusually solemn invocation Josh. 22:22, twice repeated, אל אלהים יהוה, El Elohim Jehovah—El Elohim Jehovah. The question is whether the two first are to be taken as separate, or to be read together as one name, Deus deorum. Raschi and Kimchi take the latter view, though Michaelis thinks it is forbidden by the accent pisik, which is very slightly disjunctive. We need not, however, pay much attention to it when it is thus disregarded by the best Jewish commentators. This was the solemn pronunciation, resorted to on very solemn occasions; but this does not forbid (it rather favors) the idea, that the ordinary pronunciation was but a rapid abridgment of the formula. The name אל צליוז El-Elion might have suffered the same abridgment, but for two reasons: it is much less common, and the more indelible guttural צ stands in the way. There is something like it in the joining of יה with יהיה or יהוה, so as to make it Jah-jah-vah, as we find it in a few places of more solemn and emphatic import.

The fact that plural verbs or plural adjectives, as in Josh. 24:19, are in a few cases joined with אלהים, where it undoubtedly denotes the One God, does not militate seriously against this view. The phrase by such abbreviation having got the form and sound of a plural, grammatical cuphony might, in a few cases, produce its syntactical connection with a plural verb or adjective.

[The idea of there being anything polytheistic in this common use of Elohim, even if we regard it as a plural, is not only at war with the whole spirit of Genesis, but also with the inference to be derived from all the Shemitic languages. Allah in the Arabic, Eloha in the Syriac, are singular, like the Hebrew Eloah, and there is to be found, neither in their earlier or their later usage, any trace of a plural as thus used. Surely the religion of Abraham, as given through the Arabic by Mohammed, is not more monotheistic than as given through the Hebrew by the author of Genesis.—T. L.]

10In the same way the Judaico-Arabian translator, Arabs Erpenianus, as he is commonly called, السها والارض, “The beginning of God’s creating the heavens and the earth”—or the first creating of the heavens and the earth which God created.

11 מלכות כל עלמים, Ps. 145:13. Our translators have rendered this, everlasting kingdom. It is a specimen of the manner in which these mighty Hebrew pluralities are covered up, and their vast significance obscured, by vague and conceptionless terms.

12All this, it is true, is expressed in optical language in respect to space, but there is no conceptual limit in regard to time. The reason of this may be inferred from the very position of the ancient mind. Their want of outward science limited their space conceptions, but time belonging mainly to the inner sense, there was not only no conceptual hindrance, but an actual freedom of thought leading on to those vast Olamic ideas which are a characteristic of the Hebrew language. And thus it is that the space conceptions of the Bible fall greatly behind those of science, whilst its time ideas went so far beyond them. This was the case, at least until quite lately, or since certain discoveries of the world’s antiquities have given us a new impression of the Olams and Æons, the ages and ages of ages, or the αἰῶνες τῶν αἰώνων, of the Scriptures.

13 Nothing can more clearly denote a process extending far beyond a solar day than this kind of language: זה יסדה להם, the very places they now occupy, and which were of old appointed for them. There is the same significance in the “settling of the mountains,” Prov. 8:25, בטרם הרים הטבעו. Ascendunt montes, descendunt campi. Our version, which is the opposite of all the ancient, and directly opposed to the Hebrew (יעלו הרים ירדז בקעות), could only have come from an erroneous prejudgment that this language referred to the flood. Even in that case it would have been false to the optical conception.

14It might not do to rely upon it alone, but after such a clear reference to creation and the creative days in other parts of the Psalm, it does not seem forced if we regard Gen 1: 33, 34 as suggested by the thought of the creation-sabbath, and filled with the emotion it would naturally inspire: “I will sing unto the Lord; I will rejoice in the Lord; and my meditation shall be sweet,”—יערב, it shall be like the evening time, the hour of calm yet joyous feeling.

15 Some would give אֶשְׁבֹּר here the sense of appointment or decision merely, as that idea, in most languages, is secondary to that of cutting. But שבר is never so used in Hebrew, although such general idea suits the passage. The strength of the word, and the vividness of the imagery, are lost in what is after all but a smooth tautology. There is indicated a conflict of forces. There was a terrible disturbance in the old nature of the tehom before the sea became obedient, and the waters quietly settled to their established bound. “There is something hard about it,” says Umbreit, “if we give it the usual Hebrew sense;” but this is the very reason for preferring the literal image. The word is emphatic, and there is an importance in its choice as showing the real conception in the mind of the writer.

16The sense world, given to this word עולם, it is said, belongs to the later Hebrew, but there are quite a number of passages in the Old Testament, besides Eccles. 3:11, where this sense is the most apposite (see Ps. 145:13, 106:48), and the later usage (if it may be so called, for it is undoubtedly most ancient in the Syriac ܠܠܘܠܐ) grows directly out of the primitive conception. The Rabbinical usage differs in this, that it is employed for space-worlds (κόσμος) and thus perverted from that original idea of a time-world which it has given to the New Testament αἰών.

17 Hence, from ילד the noun תולדות, used in Gen. 2:4, of “the generations (γενεσεις, naturae) of the heavens and the earth.” The idea of the earth as a growth, birth, or generation, did not shock either the Jewish or Patristic feeling, as is shown by the reception of the LXX. word Genesis as a name for the first book of Moses. Gen. 1. abounds in this kind of generation language. The earth brings forth (תוצא), the waters breed (שרצו) (swarm with life), the grass germinates (תדשא), and the trees and plants seminate (מזריע), each after its genus or species (מין), which is the result of the generative law or process. Nature is everywhere, but God over all, the Logos in all, commencing a new nature, changing, modifying, or elevating an old one. The Hebrew writers employ such terms without scruple, and without any dread of naturalism. The natural and supernatural were not so sharply drawn as in modern times. Nature had its supernatural, and the supernatural showed itself in nature. These are the literal meanings; but they would have been the germs of a philosophical and scientific language had the Hebrew been ever so developed.

18 Whether such language is used of mundane, ante-mundane, or post-mundane ages, or of all together, must he determined by the context; the word עולם being in itself wholly indefinite. It is distinguished simply from ordinary astronomically computed time. Here, in Ps. 90:2, it can have no other than a creative or ante-creative reference. In Ps. 103:17, however, the primary thought would be Olams of this present Olam, or what would be called mundane ages: חסד יהוה מעולם ועד עולם, “the mercy of Jehovah is from Olam to Olam upon them that fear him.” Though even here it will be according to the reader’s faith. This precious promise may take in the αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων, the ages of the ages, the eternities of the eternities, to come. There is the same contrast in Ps. 103:17, as in Ps. 90:2—our fleeting days and the duration of Him who liveth from Olam to Olam. See the verses above.

19The idea is found in the Koran, and is applied to creation. See Surat xxxii. 4, “the day whose length is a thousand years such as ye reckon.” Compare also Surat 70:3, 4, “the degrees by which the angels and the Spirit ascend to Him, each a day in which there is 50,000 years. They are the intervals between the going forth of the word (the ruah or spirit, as it is called) in creation.” There is no reason for supposing that Mohammed got this notion from the Scriptures. It belonged to the ancient oriental thinking, and seems to have come down, in its own way, from the earliest ages, when men had little science or knowledge of worlds in space, but vast conceptions of times.

20 כמו הגה. Like a low murmuring sound,—like a long-drawn sigh, commencing with the first inhalation and ending with the last gasp of the departing breath. So the Syriac, ܐܰܝܟ ܓܘܰܘܓܐ as it should be pointed aik gu-wo-go; like a groan, like a murmur.

21 The use of the word morning for the great day of light and retribution is very marked in the early Arabian poets, before the time of Mohammed and the Koran. It has no appearance of having been invented by them, but carries the evidence of long-established usage,—a mode of speech which no one thought of explaining because of any obscurity or novelty in it. There is no reason why we may not suppose it as ancient as any phrase in the language, and to have gone back to the days of Job, as well as many other Arabic expressions, which the Neologists always find in abundance for that time when it suits other purposes they may have in view. Thus Lokman, as quoted in the Kitab ul-agany: “O my son, despise not small things; for they shall be great in the morning.” So also the old poet and orator Koss, as given by Sharastani 437 (Cureton’s Ed.) الله اله واحل اعاد وابد ى واليه الباب غل ا “God is one; He began (life); He causes it to come back (from death); to Him is the returning in the morning.” See also Sprenger’s “Leben des Mohammed,” vol. i. p. 97.

For examples in the Koran, see Surat lix. 18: “O believers, fear God, and let every soul see to it what it sends before it for the morning” (or the morrow, in posterum diem). It is used as an ancient and settled phrase for “the day of judgment,” according to that frequent Koranic idea that a man’s sins are sent on before him, and that they will be all there to meet him in the morning of retribution, or the dies irœ. See also the commentary of Al-zamakhshari on the passage: “It is the day of the resurrection,” he says, “called the morning, to impress us with a sense of its nearness.”

Hariri uses the same ancient form of speech, not merely as a chance poetical phrase, but as having place among the settled idioms of the language. The vagrant Abu Zeid is represented as saying of the man who will give him a robe to cover his nakedness, that in return for it he shall be well clad in the morning,—that is, both in this world and in the day of retribution that is to come.

سَيَاتَسىِ اليَوْمَ ثَناىِ ونى

غَلٍ سياْسَى سنلسَ اكَنٌة

“He shall be covered to-day (that is, in this world) with my grateful praise, and in the morning (or the morrow) shall he be enrobed with the silk of paradise.” Hariri Séance, xxv. p. 300, ed. of De Sacy.

The idiom, traced in this way from the earliest Arabian poets, shows the antiquity of the language and of the idea.

22 Johannis Henrici Pareau, theol. Doct. et Ling. Orient. in Acad. Harderv. Commentatio de Immortalitatis ac Vilœ futurœ notitiis ab antiquissimo Jobi Scriptore. Daventriæ MDCCCVII. A most rare yet valuable work.

23 This is the piel sense almost exclusively (the word not occurring in Kal). Hence it furnishes a name for the moon and the month, the renewal. It is almost wholly in this sense that it is used by the Rabbinical writers. Creation is renewal, though, when the necessities of the reasoning require, it is used for absolute origination.

24 There is another Hebrew term, of a very peculiar kind, used to denote the bringing about an event, special and remarkable, by a series of causes strictly natural or moral, or mainly such, yet continually deflected, or turned round, to the production of a certain result. There has been nothing startling, or sudden, but the finger of God has been upon the series all the way. It is called סִבָּה (Sibbah), the etymology itself being its clearest definition. It is a bringing about or around (from סבב) a causality, yet with a constant deviation produced by other causes, physical and moral. For examples, see the story of Rehoboam, 1 King, 12:25, also 2 Chron. 10:15, and other passages. In Arabic the primary sense of סבב is lost, and the secondary idea of causation, thus derived, becomes predominant.

25 “Understandest thou the balancings of the clouds?” Job 37:16,—the law of gravity in the clouds, מפלשי עב, librationes nubium, the weighings or suspensions of the clouds,—how they are supported in the air, and how their contents are condensed and poured upon the earth? See Umbreit; also Gen 36:27: “When he maketh small the drops of water, and for vapor they distil rain.” There is something yet to be learned before this ancient challenge is fully answered.

26 Metaphors in other writings are for ornaments or for rhetorical impression. Such language in Scripture has a higher use. It is to express ineffable truths (or vivid emotions in view of such truths), for which other modes of speech are inadequate. “ Their line hath gone out to the ends of the world,” Ps. 19:5. קַוָּם—the LXX. have rendered it their voice, (φθόγγος) their sound, whether reading קולם, or regarding קו here as equivalent to it in the expression of prolonged utterance. Symmachus, ῆ̓χος; Vulgate, sonus. It suggests the old idea set forth in the Orphic or Pythagorean myths of the music of the spheres, and which appears in the Hieronomian or Vulgate Version of Job 38:37, concenlum cœli (the song or harmony of heaven), where נבל is taken in its other and more usual sense of cithara or harp. קו, in Ps. 19:6, may be also rendered a measuring line, or even a writing (Linien = Schriftzüge), according to Calvin and Cocceius (see Hupfeld). This would correspond to the opening language of the Psalm, שמים מספרים, “the heavens are telling,” which may also be rendered picturing, describing (ספר, primary sense, scalpsit, scripsit), “and the firmament declareth (מגידּ) his handy work” literally the work of his fingers. What follows is in exquisite harmony with the same idea: “Day unto Day (we think of the great days) uttereth speech (poureth it out), and night unto night showeth knowledge,”—יחַוֶּהיְ, primary sense, efflavit—whence the sense pronuntiavit, fortasse proprie, as Gesenius says, de rebus arcanis—that is, breathes forth knowledge, whispers knowledge, (compare שמץ דבר, Job 26:14), and hence the sense of the cognate Arabic وحى to reveal mysteries. It is a transcending or ineffable voice: “No speech—no voice (that is, no audible voice)—and yet their line has gone out to the ends of the world.” It vibrates through all space.

Compare also Hosea 2:22, where there are the same thoughts and images. Nature, through all her departments, is represented as listening for the divine voice, and responding to it, whilst God is represented as listening to its petitions : “I will hear, saith the Lord, I will hear the heavens (the skies or clouds), and the heavens shall hear the earth, and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil, and they shall hear Jezreel.” It describes the ordinary course of his providence as one continuous chain of utterances and responses. God listens to the heavens petitioning for the rain, that they may send it down upon the petitioning earth, that the earth may transmit its influence to the petitioning corn and oil, that they, in turn, may supply the wants of Jezreel. So the Chaldee Targum, with Rashi and the Jewish commentators generally: “I will hear and command the heavens,” &c. It is not a breach of nature, like the miracle used as a sign or attestation, but the divine proceeding in the general providence made up of all particular providences. It is the constant living Word, ̔Ο Δόγος ζῶν καὶ ἐνεργὴς, “the quick and powerful word,” penetrating all the recesses of nature, yet breaking no law, passing over no link. It is all law, all nature still, through all the length of the mighty chain, and yet the Word of God, as distinct and sovereign as when it first went forth in creation. Science is atheistical until she acknowledges this doctrine of the Logos in nature, not as a metaphor merely, but as the most vital and most important of all physical truths.

27 See this exemplified in the Visions of Balaam, Numb. 23, 24, and in the prophetical Scriptures generally. It may not be easy to explain, but it is a fact of deep significance, that, in all high or ecstatic states of soul, there is this tendency to rhythmical motion and utterance.

Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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