Genesis 1
Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
THE Genesis of the World and of the Primitive Time of the Human Race, as the Genesis of the Primitive Religion until the Development of Heathendom, and of its Antithesis in the Germinating Patriarchalism. GENESIS 1–11





The Heaven, the Earth, and Man. The Creation and the World in an Upward series of Physical and Generic Development. Universalistic.


A.—The Antithesis of Heaven and Earth, the Symbol of all Religion

1IN the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.

B.—The Three First Creative Days. The Great Divisions (by means of Light, Heat, and Chemical Affinity), or the Three Living Contrasts: Light and Darkness (or the Dark Spherical Material); the Ætherial Waters (or the Vapor-Form) and the Earthly Waters (or the Fluid Precipitate); the Water Proper and the Land. The nearest Limit of these Divisions: the Vegetable World as a Symbolic of Commencing Life analogous to the Result of the Three Last Creative Days in the Appearing of Man.

2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved [hovered, brooded]1 upon the face of the waters. 3And God said: Let there be light, and there was light. 4And God saw the light [the beauty of the light] that it was good [טוֹב, good and fair; as the Greek καλὸν, fair and good]; and God divided the light from the darkness [made a division between the luminous and the dark element]. 5And God called the light Day and the darkness he called Night [source of day, source of night]. And the evening and the morning were the first day [i.e., by this division is measured one divine day, or day of God—one day here is for first day]. 6And God said: Let there be a firmament [extension, expansion] in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so.2 8And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. 9And God said: Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear; and it was so. 10And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together [combining] of the waters [as water proper] called he Seas; and God saw that it was good [second pause of contemplation]. 11And God said: Let the earth bring forth grass [grow grass], the herb yielding seed, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit after its kind, whose seed is in itself upon the earth; and it was so. 12And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit whose seed was in itself after his kind. And God saw that it was good [third pause of contemplation]. 13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

C.—The Three Last Creative Days. The Three Great Combinings: 1. The Heavenly Luminaries and the Earth generally; 2. the Heavenly Luminaries and Water and Air; 3. the Heavenly Luminaries and the Earth-Soil as a Pre-Conditioning of Individual Formations. Or the Three Parallelisms of the Three First Creative Days.

1st day, The Light;

4th day, The Luminaries;

2d day, The Waters under and above the Firmament;

5th day, The Fishes in the Seas and the Birds of the Heavens;

3d day, The Liberated Earth-Soil, and the Plants upon it;

6th day, The Land-Animals, and over them Man.

14And God said: Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven, to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years. 15And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven, to give light upon the earth. And it was so. 16And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also. 17And God set them in the firmament of the heaven, to give light upon the earth; 18And to rule over the day, and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good [fourth pause of contemplation]. 19And the evening and the morning were the fourth day. 20And God said: Let the waters bring forth abundantly [Lange: Let the waters swarm] the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly [Lange and English marg. rendering: Let fowl fly] above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. 21And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind. And God saw that it was good [fifth pause of contemplation]. 22And God blessed them, saying: Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas; and let fowl multiply in the earth. 23And the evening and the morning were the fifth day. 24And God said: Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind. And it was so. 25And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind. And God saw that it was good [sixth pause of contemplation].

D.—The Limit, Aim, of all the Creative Days (especially of the three last), the Antitype of the Vegetable Creation at the End of the Third Day: which Antitype is Man, the Likeness of God, and the Sabbath, in which God rests from His Work.

26And God said: Let us make man in our image after3 our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowls of the air, and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27So God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28And God blessed them, and God said unto them. Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. 29And God said: Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in the which is the fruitof a tree yielding seed; to you shall it be for meat; 30And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat. And it was so. 31And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good [seventh pause of contemplation] And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Gen 2:1, 2Thus the heavens and the earth were finished and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested [had begun to rest] from all his work which [he as] God created and made [Lange: um es zu machen; English marg.: created to make]. 4


1. See on the Introduction to Genesis, and under the head of Literature, the catalogue of cosmological works that belong here. Compare, especially, the Literature Catalogue given by Knobel and Delitzsch.

2. The passages of Scripture that have a special connection: Job; Ps. 8, 19, and 104; Prov. 8; Is. 40; John 1:1; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2; 11:3; Rev. 21:1

3. This account of the world’s creation evidently forms an ascending line, a series of generations whose highest point and utmost limit is reached in man. The six days’ works arrange themselves in orderly contrast; and in correspondence to this are the sections as they have been distinguished by us: a. The creation of heaven and earth in general, and which may also be regarded as the first constituting of the symbolical opposition of the two; b. the three first creative days, or the three great divisions which constitute the great elementary oppositions or polarities of the world, and which are the conditioning of all creature-life: 1. The element of light and the dark shadow-casting masses, or the concrete darkness, and which we must not confound with the evening and the morning; 2. the gaseous form of the æther, especially of the atmosphere, and the fluid form of the earth-sphere; 3. the opposition between the water and the firm land. In respect to this it must be observed that the waters, of Gen 1:2, are a different thing from the waters of Gen 1:6 and 9, since it still encloses the light and the matter of the earth. Moreover, “the waters” of Gen 1:6 is not yet properly water; since it encloses still the earth material. The first mention of elementary water in the proper sense, is at Gen 1:9. c. The three last creative days, wherein the above parallel is to be observed; d. the limit or aim of creation—man—the sabbath of God.

4. Gen 1:1 and 2, the ground-laying for the creation of the heaven and the earth. Considered cosmologically and geologically.—In the beginning.— The construction maintained by Bunsen and others (Raschi, Ewald, Aben Ezra) is as follows: In the beginning when God created heaven and earth, and when the earth was waste and desolate, and darkness was over the primeval flood, and the breath of God moved upon the waters, then God said, Let there be light, and there was light. This construction is, in the first place, opposed throughout to the language of Genesis, as in its brief yet grand declarations it proceeds from one concluded sentence to another. Secondly, it contradicts the context, in which the creation of light is a significant, yet still an isolated, moment. If we were to follow Bunsen, it would be the introduction of the Persian light-religion rather than the religion of the Old Testament. And, finally, in the third place, it obliterates that distinguishing ground-idea of the theocratic monotheism with which, in the very start, the word of revelation confronts all pagan dualism,—in other words, the truth, that in regard to the manner of creation, God is the sole causality of heaven and earth in an absolute sense. The view of Aben Ezra that בְּרֵאשִׁית is ever in the construct state, and that it means here, “in the beginning of the creation of the heavens and the earth,” etc., is contradicted by the occurrence of the word in the absolute state, Deut. 33:21.—בְּרֵאשִׁית (from רֹאש = רֵאשׁ). The substantive without the article. It is true, this cannot be rendered in the beginning, taken absolutely, so that the beginning should have a significance, or an existence for itself. It would be, moreover, a tautology to say in the beginning of things when God created them, etc., that is, when there was the beginning of things; or else we must take bereshith mystically: in principio, that is, in filio, as Basil, Ambrose, and others (see Leop. Schmid, Explanation of the Holy Scriptures, p. 4), which is not allowable, although it is true that the New Testament doctrine advances at once to the determination that God created all things through the Son (John 1:3, 11; Heb. 1:2; comp. Ps. 33:6). It is not easy to take the word adverbially: originally, or in the first place (Knobel); for the immediately following enumeration of the creative days shows that the author would have time begin with the creation of the world. According to Delitzsch the author does not mean “to express the doctrinal proposition that the world had its beginning in time, and is not eternal, but only that the creation of the heavens and the earth was the beginning of all history.” This interpretation seems arbitrary. Bereshith relates especially to time, or to the old, the first time (Is. 46:10; Job 42:12). It may be further said that בְּ can mean with or through. It is, therefore, the most obvious way to interpret it: in a beginning, and that, too, the first, or the beginning of time, God created the heavens and the earth (with the time the space; the latter denoted through the antitheses of heaven and earth). From that first beginning must be distinguished the six new beginnings of the six days’ works; for the creating goes on through the six days. In a beginning of time, therefore, that lies back of the six days’ works, must that first foundation-plan of the world have been made, along with the creation of the heaven and the earth in their opposition. The first verse is therefore not a superscription for the representation that follows, but the completed ouranology despatched in one general declaration, although the cosmical generation, which is described Gen 1:3 and Gen 1:14, is again denoted along with it. That the sun, moon, and stars are perfected for the earth on the fourth day, is an indication that God’s creating still goes on in the heavens, even as the creating of the periods of development in the earth, after its first condition as waste and desolate, when it went forth from the hand of God as a spherical form without any distinct inward configuration.—בָּרָא, in Piel to cut, hew, form; but in Kal it is usually employed of divine productions new, or not previously existing in the “sphere of nature or history (Ex. 34:10; Num. 16:30, and frequently in the Prophets), or of spirit (Ps. 51:12, and the frequent κτίζειν in the N. T.); but never denoting human productions, and never used with the accusative of the material.” Delitzsch. And thus the conception of creating is akin to that of the miraculous, in so far that the former would mean a creating in respect to initial form, the latter in respect to novelty of production. (On the kindred expressions in the Zendavesta, see Delitzsch.) It is to be noted how בָּרָא differs from עָשָׂה and יִצֶר (Gen 2:2 and Gen 1:7). That in this creating there is not meant, at all, any demiurgical forming out of pre-existing material, appears from the fact that the kind of material, as something then or just created, is strongly signified in the first condition of the earth, Gen 1:2, and in the creation of light. This shows itself, in like manner, in the general unconditioned declaration that God is the creative author, or original, of heaven and earth.—Elohim, see the Divine Names in the Introduction.—הַשָׁמַיִם. According to the Arabic it would denote the antithesis of the High (or the height) to the Lower—that is, the earth. The plural form is significant, denoting the abundance and the variety of the upper spaces.5 This appears still more in the expression, the heaven of heavens (Deut. 10:14, and Ps. 68:34).

5. Gen 1:2–5. Preparation of the geologico-cosmological description of the days’ works. First Creative Day.—תֹּהוּ וָבֹהוּ. The earth was. This is spoken of its unarranged original or fundamental state, or of heaven and earth in general. Thohu Vabohu, alliteratives and at the same time rhymes, or like sounding; similar alliteratives occurring thus in all the Pentateuch as signs of very old and popular forms of expression (Gen. 4:12; Exod. 23:1, 5; Numb. 5:18; Deut. 2:15). We find them also in Isaiah and elsewhere as characteristic features of a poetical, artistic, keen, and soaring spirit. They are at the same time pictorial and significant of the earth’s condition. For, according to Hupfeld and Delitzsch, תֹהוּ passes over from the primitive sense of roaring to that of desolateness and confusion. The last becomes the common sense, or that which characterizes the natural waste (Deut. 32:10) as a positive desolation, as, for example, of a city (Is. 34:11). It is through the conception of voidness, nothingness, that Thohu and Bohu are connected. Delitzsch regards the latter word as related to בהם, which means to be brutal. Both seem doubtful, but the more usual reference to בהה in the sense of void or emptiness is to be preferred. We have aimed at giving the rhyming or similarity of the sounds in our translation (German: öden-wüst and wüsten-öd). The desert is waste, that is, a confused mass without order; the waste is desert, that is, void, without distinction of object. The first word denotes rather the lack of form, the second the lack of content in the earliest condition of the earth. It might, therefore, be translated form-less, matter-less. “Rudis indigestaque moles, in a word, a chaos,” says Delitzsch. It would be odd if in this the biblical view should so cleanly coincide with the mythological. Chaos denotes the void space (as in a similar manner the old Northern Ginnun-gagap, gaping of yawnings, the gaping abyss, which also implies present existing material), and in the next place the rude unorganized mass of the world-material. There is, however, already here the world-form, heaven and earth, and along with this a universal heaven-and-earth-form is presupposed. It is not said that in the beginning the condition of the heavens was thohu and bohu,—at least of the heavens of the earth-world, as Delitzsch maintains; at all events, the earth goes neither out of chaos, nor out of “the same chaos” as the heavens. It is clean against the text to say that the chaos, as something that is primarily the earth, embraces, at the same time, the heaven that exists with and for the earth. For it is very clear that the language relates to the original condition of the earth, although the genesis of the earth may serve, by way of analogy, for the genesis of the universe. וְחשֶׁך, the first condition of the earth was תְהוֹם (from הום, to roar, be in commotion), wave, storm-flood, ocean, abyss. The first state of the earth was itself the Thehom, and over this roaring-flood lay the darkness spread abroad. It is wholly anticipatory when we say that “this undulating mass of waters was not the earth itself in the condition of thohu and bohu, but that it enclosed it; for on the third day the firm land (אָרֶץ) goes forth from the waters.” Delitzsch. Further on, Ps. 104:6 is cited to show that, originally, water proper surrounded the firm earth-kernel, and Job 38:8, according to which the sea breaks forth out of the mother’s womb (the earth)—poetical representations that are true enough, if one does not take them according to the letter; in which case they are in direct contradiction to each other. The waters, of Gen 1:2, is quite another thing than the water proper of the third creative day; it is the fluid (or gaseous) form of the earth itself in its first condition. 2 Pet. 3:5 is not opposed to this; for as the water takes form, the earth breaks out of the water, just as the water comes forth from the earth in consequence of the creative division. The darkness is just the absence of the phenomenal, or the absence of light (for the vision view) in the condition of the earth itself,—in other words, night.—וְרוּחַ, But the spirit of God hovered over (Ang., moved upon). The breath of man, the wind of the earth, and the spirit, especially the spirit of God, are symbolical analogies. The breath is the life-unity and life-motion of the physical creature, the wind is the unity and life-motion of the earth, the spirit is the unity and life-motion of the life proper to which it belongs; the spirit of God is the unity and life-motion of the creative divine activity. It is not a wind of God to which the language here primarily relates (Theodoret, Saadia, Herder, and others), but the spirit of God truly (wherefore the word רחף, Delitzsch; comp. Ps. 33:6). From this place onward, and throughout the whole Scripture, the spirit of God is the single formative principle evermore presenting itself with personal attributes in all the divine creative constitutions, whether of the earth, of nature, of the theocracy, of the Tabernacle, of the church, of the new life, or of the new man. The Grecian analogue is that of Eros (or Love) in its reciprocal action with the Chaos, and to this purpose have the later Targums explained it: the spirit of love. It was מְרַחֶפֶת (hovering) over the waters. The conception of brooding cannot be obtained out of Deut. 32:11 (Delitzsch), for the eagle does not brood over the living young, but wakes them, draws them out (educates), makes them lively.6 The mythological world-egg of the Persians has no place here. Should we adopt any view of this formative energy of the spirit of God (which may have worked upon the unorganized mass through the medium of a great wind of God) it would consist in this, that by its inflowing it differentiated this mass, that is, conformably to its being, called out points of unity, and divisions which fashioned the mass to multiplicity in the contrasts that follow. It separated the heterogenous, and bound together the homogenous, and so prepared the way for the dividing the light from the darkness. It cannot be said, however, that “all the co-energizing powers in the formation of the world were the emanations or determinations of this spirit of God.” For we must distinguish the creative words with בָרָא from יָצַר, or the forming by the spirit of God.7 The object, however, of this forming is not the primitive matter, but the flowing earth-sphere. Just as little can one say that the six days’ works have their beginning in Gen 1:3; for the result of the first day is not the light merely, but also the darkness (see Is. 45:7). Concerning the theosophic interpretation of thohu vabohu as a world in ruins which had come from God’s judgment on the Fall of the Angels (see Gen 1:3).

Gen 1:3. Let there be light.—Here begin the geologico-cosmical creative periods. This new beginning, therefore, must be distinguished from that first creation of the heavens and the earth which is to be regarded as having no creative beginning before it. Henceforth the treatment is that of a sacred geology, yet regarded in its biblical sense as geologico-cosmological. Hence, in Gen 1:3, the creation of the light-heaven; Gen 1:8, the creation of the air-heaven; Gen 1:14, the creation of the star-heaven; Gen 1:26, the creation of the heavenly core of the earth itself.8And God said.—“Ten times is this word, וַיּאֹמֶר, repeated in the history of the seven days.” The omnipotence of the creative word, Ps. 33:9: He spake and it was done, he commanded and it stood (Rom. 4:17). The creative-word in its deeper significance: Ps. 33:6; Is. 40:26; John 1:1–3; Heb. 1:2; 11:3; Col. 1:16. The light, the first distinct creative formation, and, therefore, the formation-principle, or the pre-conditioning for all further formations. Of this formative dividing power of light, physical science teaches us. It is now tolerably well understood, that the light is not conditioned by perfected luminous bodies, but, on the contrary, that light bodies are conditioned by a preceding luminous element. Thus there is set aside the objection taken by Celsus, by the Manichæans, and by rationalism generally, namely, the supposed inversion of order in having first the light and afterwards the luminous body. And yet the light without any substratum is just as little conceivable as the darkness. The question arises, how the author conceived the going forth of the light, whether out of the dark bosom of the earth-flood, or out of the dark bosom of the forming heaven? As the view of the heavenly lights (light bodies) Gen 1:14, is geocentric, so may the same view prevail here of the heaven-light itself. By this is meant that in the fact of the first illumination of the earth the author presents the fact of the birth of light generally in the world, without declaring thereby that the date of the genesis of the earth’s light is also the date of the genesis of light universally. But we may well take the birth of light in the earth (or the earth becoming light) as the analogue whereon is presented the birth of light in the heaven, just as in the creation of man there is symbolized the creation of the spirit-world collectively. We let alone here the question whether the light is an emanation (an outflowing) of a luminous element, or an undulation from a luminous body; only it may be remarked that sound goes on all sides, and may, therefore, be supposed to undulate in sonorous waves, whilst the ray of light, on the other hand, goes directly, for which reason the application to it of such an undulation of sonorous waves would seem unsuitable. The idea of an ætherial vibration may make a medium between emanation and undulation. Without doubt, however, the meaning here is not merely a light-appearing which goes forth out of the heaven-ground,9 and breaks through the dark vapor of the earth, or from heavenly clouds of light (such as the primary form of the creation may have appeared to be), but an immediate lighting up of the luminous element in the earth itself, something like what the Polar night gives rise to in the northern aurora; enough that it is said of the contrast presented between the illuminating and the shade-producing element. The light goes, however, in the first place, out of the dark world-forms (not the mere world material) after that the spirit of God, as formative principle, has energized in them. The spirit of God is the spiritual light that goes out from God; therefore its working goes before the creation of the outer light; and therefore, too, it is that this light is the symbol, and its operation similar to the operation, of the spirit—that is, the formation and the revelation of beauty.—And there was light.—The famed sublimity of this expression as given by Longinus (in a somewhat doubtful text) and others, is predicated on the pure simplicity and confidence with which it sets forth the omnipotence of the creative word.—And God saw the light that it was good.—The first beauty is the light itself. For the Hebrew טוֹב denotes the beautiful along with the good, even as the Greek καλὸν denotes the good along with the beautiful. The sense: that it was good, does not seem easy; and therefore Tertullian (and more lately Neumann) have accepted the quia of the Itala. On the other hand, Delitzsch remarks: “The conclusion is that to God each single work of creation appears good.” The conclusion lies, perhaps, in the pause of solemn contemplation, out of which, at the end, goes forth the perfect sabbath. It is because the religious human soul recognizes the fair and the good in the event of the appearing, that there is therein reflected to it the fountain of this spiritual ethical satisfaction, namely the contemplation of God Himself. Still the contemplation of God does not regard the object as though captivated by it because it is fair, but it rejoices therein that it is fair; or we may say that, in a certain manner, it is the very efficacy of this contemplation that it becomes fair.—And God divided between the light and the darkness.—Although it is farther said that God named the light day and the darkness night, still it must not be supposed that here there is meant only the interchange between day and night as the ordaining of the points of division between both, namely morning and evening. Although light and darkness, day and night, are called after their appearing, yet are they still, all the more, very day and night, in other words, the very causalities themselves. The light denotes all that is simply illuminating in its efficacy, all the luminous element; the darkness denotes all that is untransparent, dark, shadow-casting; both together denote the polarity of the created world, as it exists between the light-formations and the night-formations—the constitution of the day and night. “One sees,” says Delitzsch, “how false is the current and purely privative conception of darkness; as when, for example, a mediæval interpreter (Maxima Bibl. Lugd. vi. p. 868) says: sicut silentium nihil est, sed ubi vox non est silentium dicitur, sic tenebrœ nihil sunt, sed ubi lux non est tenebrœ dicuntur.” It is true, there must be presupposed for the daylight an illuminating source or fountain of light, and so for the darkness a shadow-casting causality (Jas. 1:16); but it would be quite wrong to say that light and darkness are two principles (according to the course of the earlier theosophists: Jacob Böhm, and a later school: Baumgarten and others). If it is farther said that the darkness has not the witness טוֹב (good), it may be replied that it certainly has it mediately, Gen 1:31. It is indeed said still earlier: “We do not read that the tohu and bohu, that the tehom with the darkness lying over it originated in the divine call into being (fiat), therefore they had their origin in some other way.” This is a very unwarranted conclusion; so also, then, must the heavens have originated in some other way. The heaven, however, has its origin in the word of the Lord (Ps. 33), and so also the night and the darkness (Is. 45:7) as well as the abyss (Ps. 104:8). It is, therefore, a hard inconsequence when Delitzsch, following the mythological views, regards the thohu wabhohu as the chaos enclosing even the heaven in its birth (p. 93), and still farther regards it theosophically as the ruined habitation of condemned demons. In the historical derivation of the last opinion (p. 105) Delitzsch appears to have confounded two distinct views: the scholastic, that God had formed the human world for the purpose of filling up the void that arose in heaven after the fall of the angels, and the theosophic, that the terrestrial region of the world was, in the earlier time, the abode of Lucifer and his companions, which afterwards, through their guilt, became a thohu vabhohu out of which God laid the foundation of a new world. In this view the thohu vabhohu is “the glowing material mass into which the power of God’s wrath had melted the original world after it had become corrupted by the fall of the spirits (pp. 105 and 114 below),—or it was the rudis indigestaque moles into which God had compressed and precipitated that spiritual but now ungodly world condemned to the flames in consequence of its materializing, and this for the purpose of making it the substratum of a new creation which had its beginning in the fact that God had placed the chaos of this old fire-invaded world wholly under water.” One might well ask: shall the fire-brand itself (the old burnt-up earth) be the chaos, or the divine reaction through the quenching in water? Was the fire-brand the work of the demons, or did it come through God’s judgment and counteraction? All such resolutions of the difficulty are in a state of mutual confusion. And this is no wonder, for a certain theosophic hankering after dualism with its two principles can only veil itself in dark and fantastic phrases. In opposition to these gnosticising representations of matter, the demands of a pure monotheism require of us an acquiescence in the idea that matter too is good, because it is from God,—in so far, indeed, as we can speak of pure matter in general terms. The more particular fountain of this view—after certain older preludes and popular representations (Delitzsch, p. 106) derived from Gnostic traditions—is Jacob Böhm (Myst. Magn. p. 67) and the Gnostic teachers that arose after him, Friedrich von Meyer, Baumgarten (Genesis), and others. With peculiar zeal hath Kurtz also taken part in these theosophic phantasies, as also in those other of the miscegenations or sexual confusions between the angels of heaven and the daughters of earth (Gen. 6). The grounds presented by Delitzsch, in opposition to his earlier contrary view (as given in the first two editions of his Commentary), are the following: 1. In the interpretation aforesaid one would, to be sure, expect וַתְּהִי instead of וְהָיְתָה, but the conscious connection need not lie precisely in the consciousness of the writer; he relates simply a matter of fact. And yet he must have been more enlightened in respect to the nature of things than our scientific man. A blind narration of facts would here be as inconsistent as a pure indication of a theosophic sense in thohu vabhohu. 2. Thohu has, indeed, a predominating privative character; it arises, however (Is. 34:11; 24:10; Jer. 4:23), from a positive destruction. But how natural was it to apply the pictorial thohu vabhohu to such a condition. What more purely privative than the word nothing? and yet we say it of positive states of destruction. According to Delitzsch, in the methods of its construction (world-brand, quenching-water) must Plutonism and Neptunism have reached their deepest grounding. The grounds that follow are in no respects better (p. 104). What have rendered the hypothesis suspicious from its beginning hitherto are its apocryphal or popular origin (Delitzsch, p. 105), its Gnostic coloring, and its affinity to that other scholastic phantasma that God had created men to fill up the vacuum in the fallen angel-world. It must, however, become very evident that the representation of an “overcoming of the darkness,” in the physical sense in which it here presents itself, is utterly foreign to the holy text; it is like the mingling of conceptions, namely of a physical and an ethical darkness. The representation, then, of Gen 1:2 will be clearly a picturing of the primitive condition of the earth, as it became in consequence of the first general creation, Gen 1:1. Besides, this hypothesis obliterates that line which everywhere else appears between the angelic and human regions and natures. Finally, Gen 1:2, as a representation of the flowing, form-receptive condition of the earth-mass gives the bases for all farther ascending formations. Add to this that, in such case, the region of Lucifer would have been visited by the fire-judgment earlier than Lucifer himself—a representation which runs counter to the usual order of things—not to say, that, on such a supposition, Lucifer himself should have been rightly banished from the whole extent of the earth-region. Or, can it be that God has built the new house of humanity upon the foul beams of a demoniac power? But it is not worth our while to dwell more fully upon a representation which is so characterized by its own sharp contradictions.—And there was evening and there was morning.—Here, in the first place, we must not suppose that the evening and the morning were merely the sequence of the preceding darkness and of the light that followed it, notwithstanding that the first evening and morning so fittingly append themselves to such a contrast. Still less are we to think of the usual evening and morning, since the earth had not yet been astronomically arranged. Evening and morning denote rather the interval of a creative day, and this is evidently after the Hebrew mode of reckoning; the day is reckoned from sunset. The morning that follows stands for the second half of the day proper. In the same manner was the day reckoned by the Arabians, the Athenians (νυχθήμιρον), the Germans, and the Gauls. It is against the text for Delitzsch to put as the ground here the Babylonish reckoning of the day, namely from the dawning of the morning. The earlier theological representation, that by the creative periods were to be understood the usual astronomical days, is now only held by individuals (Baumgarten, Calwer Handbuch, Keil’s Genesis). It is opposed to this, in the first place, that the creative days are already numbered before the determination of the astronomical relation of the earth to the sun, although on other grounds must we hold that the days from the fourth onward were not astronomical; there are in the way, secondly, the idea of the first day whose evening had its beginning in that dark thohu vabhohu which had no evening before it, as well as the idea of the seventh day, the day of God’s rest, which is not defined by an evening and a morning, but runs on through the ordained course of the world; there is, thirdly, the idea of the day of God as it is given to us in the 90th Psalm, which is traditionally ascribed to Moses (Gen 1:4). That this time-determination of a thousand years does not denote an exactly measured chronological period, but still a period defined by essential marks of time, appears from the converse of Ps. 90. in 2 Pet. 3:8 (a thousand years as one day, and one day as a thousand years), and also from the thousand years of the judgment-time as the transition period from the present state of the world to that which lies beyond (Rev. 20). This comprehensive significance has the divine day (God’s day) or the judgment-day pre-eminently in the Old Testament (Is. 2:12; Joel 1:15; Ezek. 13:5). Delitzsch, who also holds that the creative days are periods, reckons, as another argument, that in Gen. 2:4 the six days are denoted as one day. Add to this the very usual mode of speech, according to which, day in the Old Testament often denotes a longer duration of time, for example, in the formula even to this day. We are not, however, to conceive of the evening and morning of the single creative days as merely symbolic intervals of the day of God. According to the analogy of the first day, the evening is the time of a peculiar chaotic fermentation of things, whilst the morning is the time of that new, fair, solemn world-building that corresponds to it. With each evening there is also indicated a new birth-travail of things, a new earth-revolution which elevates the old formation that went before it—a seeming darkening, a seeming sunset or going down of the world; and so later with this same appearance came on the flood; and so, too, in ZaGen 14:7, the day of the commencing judgment is, with the highest significance, denoted an evening. No less significant is it in the eschatological words of our Lord: and the sun shall withdraw its light, Matt. 24:29. With each morning, on the contrary, there is a new, a higher, a fairer, and a richer state of the world. In this way do the evening and morning in the creative periods have the highest significance for an agreement of the sacred geology with the results of the scientific geology. The meaning would seem to be incorrectly taken by Delitzsch when he says: “With each effort of the divine creating is it morning, with each remission it is evening” (p. 106). The most peculiar work of God, we may rather say, would appear to be each of those stormy revolutions, in which the spirit of God hovers like an eagle over the chaotic fermentations; in the creative mornings, on the contrary, come in the holy rests when God surveys the new work and sees how good it is. (Comp. VON ROUGEMONT, History of the Earth, p. 7: “Evening: a dark return of chaos.” Doubtless the designation lacks propriety in all respects, and yet it may lead to the right.)

[NOTE ON THE RELATION OF THE FIRST VERSE OF GEN. 1. TO THE REST OF THE CHAPTER.—Among all the interpretations of Gen. 1., the most difficult as well as the most unsatisfactory is that which regards the first verse as referring to a period indefinitely remote, and all that follows as comprised in six solar days. It is barely hinted at by some of the patristic writers, but has become a favorite with certain modern commentators, as furnishing them with a method of keeping the ordinary days, and yet avoiding the geological difficulty, or seeming to avoid it, by throwing all its signs of the earth’s antiquity into this chasm that intervenes between the first and second verses. The objections to it may be thus stated:

(1) Besides the peculiar difficulties that attend any view of ordinary solar days, such as a morning and evening without a sun, or the language of succession, of growth, and of a seeming nature, without any consistent corresponding reality, there is another and greater incongruity in connecting this with a former and very different state of things, or mode of proceeding, with which, after all, it has no real connection either in the realm of nature or of divine providence.

(2) It is a building of this world on the ruins of a former, without any natural or moral reasons therefor. The states preceding, as understood by this hypothesis, were in no sense preparatory. The catastrophe which makes way for it seems entirely arbitrary, and in no sense resembles the pauses described in Genesis, each one of which is in the upward order, and anticipatory of the work that follows.

(3) It is evidently brought in as a possible escape from the difficulties of geology, and would never have been seriously maintained had it not been for them.

(4) It has to make the heavens of the first verse a different heavens from that of the eighth, without any exegetical warrant therefor. This is a rationalizing interpretation, carrying with it a conception of our modern astronomy, and almost wholly unknown to the Scriptures, which everywhere speaks of the heavens and the earth therein mentioned as one system. It is the heavens of our earth, built upon it as described in Gen. 1:6, 8; Ps. 104; 1 Sam. 2:8, etc., and always taken in connection with it; not a far-off astronomical heavens, though the rudiments of such an idea come afterwards into the Hebrew. Thus in predictions, whether of destruction or of renovation, the heavens and the earth go together. “I create new heavens and a new earth,” Is. 66:22; Ps. 102:27, and other passages. The language is exactly parallel to that of Gen. 1:1, and yet we cannot suppose that there is included here the astronomical heaven of stars and planets, at least according to the conceptions of our modern astronomy. It is a renewal of the earth, in some way, together with those celestial or sky phenomena that are in connection with it, as parts, in fact, of the tellurian system. It is the same language, the same mode of conceiving, as late down in Scripture as the 2d Epistle of Peter 3:5–7—the “earth and heavens” that were of old before the flood are put in contrast with “the earth and heavens that are now,” and which are to be changed for “a new earth and heavens” “according to the promise (Gen 1:13) to which we look.” It is the same language that occurs repeatedly in the Revelations (21:1), and which, whatever we may think of its prophetic meaning, shows the fixedness of the conception down to the latest times of the scriptural canon.

(5) It violates the principles of a rational and grammatical exegesis, in making a separation between the first and second verses, of which there is no trace or reason in the language itself. If used in the same way in narrating historical events, in any other part of the Bible, no one would have thought of the verb בָּרָא, in the first, and הָיְתָה, in the second verse, otherwise than as cotemporaneous or, in direct continuation at least, with no chasm of time between them long or short. It would have been interpreted like the precisely similar sentence, Job 1:1: “There was a man in the land of Uz, and the man was, etc., הָיָה אִישׁ בְאֶרֶץ־עוּץ וְהָיָה הָאִישׁ. Who would think of separating the second הָיָה here from the first, or sundering the evident continuity? If it be said that the context in Job controls, and the very nature of the subject, so should it also in Genesis, unless we make a new context after our own imaginations, especially as there are clear ways in Hebrew of expressing such a parting of the terms, had it been designed to do so.

Besides this, it is opposed to the usual force of the conjunction ו. Taken even as a mere copulative, it would not allow of such a sharp and remote severance. But ו is much more than this in Hebrew. It is seldom without a time sense, or an inferential sense, showing a connection, not only of mere event, but also of reason and causality. So here it shows the reason for the use of בָּרָא in the preceding verse. “In the beginning God created,” formed, fashioned, the earth; for it was formless and void, or when it was formless and void, etc. Let one take Noldius’ Concordance of the Hebrew Particles, and see how often (in the great majority of cases, we may say) the conjunction wau has this close-joining inferential sense. It is much more usual than its bare copulative force, but even this is out of harmony with the hypothesis of severance as commonly presented. See also Introd. to Gen. 1. pp. 129, 130.—T. L.]

6. Gen 1:6–8. Second Creative Day.—Let there be a firmament.—Rakia (from רָקַע, to stretch, spread out, beat out) an extension or expansion, rendered in the LXX and by others, στερέυμα, and in the Vulgate firmamentum,—names which are more material than רָקִיעַ. KNOBEL: “The heaven was to the Hebrews a material substance (Exod. 24:10), a fixed vault established upon the waters that surrounded the circle of the earth (Prov. 8:27), firm as a molten mirror (Job 37:18), and borne up by the highest hills, which are therefore called the pillars and foundations of the heaven (2 Sam. 22:8; Job 26:11); openings or doors are ascribed to it (Gen 7:11; 28:17; Ps. 78:23). There are the same representations elsewhere.” But we must not forget that Hebrew modes of expression for objects that have a religious bearing, do ever contain a symbolical element which disdains the literal pressure. Therefore the stars which in Gen. 1:17 are fixed in the heaven, can nevertheless, according to Isaiah 40:26, set themselves in motion as a host of God; and hence it is that the one heaven expands itself into a heaven of heavens. And thus the heavens bends down to the earth (Ps. 18:10); or is spread out like tapestry (Ps. 104:2), or its beams are waters (Gen 1:3), whilst the same heaven again is called the footstool of God.—In the midst of the waters.—We must beware here of thinking of a mass of elementary water; quite as little could a fluid mass which is yet identified with the light be elementary, and just as little can it be a flood, or collection of water, which consists of the three factors air, earth, and water. At this point then is completed the second division. The true standpoint of contemplation would seem to be the view, that in the azure welkin of the sky the clouds appear to give out their evaporation, and to withdraw themselves behind the blue expanse like a supercelestial gathering of water (Ps. 104:3, 13). It follows from this, however, that the visible clouds and the rain may be assigned to the lower collection of waters, and that there is meant here the gaseous water as it forms a unity with the air, and so makes an ethereal atmosphere (not “the water-masses that hover over the air-strata of the atmosphere”). Delitzsch here mistakes the symbolical element. “It must be admitted,” he says, “that in this the Old Testament is chargeable with a defect, for a physical connection between the descending rain-waters and the heavenly waters, which is also indicated in the New Testament (Rev. 4:6) cannot be maintained.” Indeed, it is with the actual physical connection between the invisible collection of water (the gas-formed) and the visible, that the contrast is established; it is the polaric tension which even the phenomenological extension brings to view. But why should the Septuagint correct the text here with the addition, Gen 1:8: And God saw, whilst the Hebrew text has it not? Had the prophetic author some anticipation that the blue vault of heaven was merely an appearance, whilst the savans of the Septuagint had no such anticipation, and, therefore, proceeded to doctor the passage? There may, indeed, be an exaggeration of this conception of the upper waters, since Philoponus and the other church fathers understand by the same the ether that is beyond the earth’s atmosphere; nevertheless, their view would seem to be more correct than that which refers the expression to a proper cloud-formed atmospheric water.—And God named the firmament heaven, שָׁמָיִם. See Gen 1:1. Delitzsch: Here is meant the heaven of the earth-world; Gen 1:1, on the contrary, refers to the heaven and the heaven of heavens. But if the firmament is “the immeasurable far-reaching height,” there is a failure, or falling short, in the limiting of the conception. A main point appears to be, that the rakia is presented to view as the symbolic dividing of the super-earthly heaven, a phenomenal appearance of that house of God to which all who pray to God look up. For the later cosmological interpretations of the upper waters, see Delitzsch, p. 108.

7. Gen 1:9–13. Third Creative Day.

Gen 1:9. Let the waters be gathered together.—The bringing the earth into form and the creation of the vegetable world.—That the physical dividing of the earth-mass and of the water-mass is here presented, is clear. There would appear, however, to be signified a preceding chemical separation of both elements, which had withdrawn themselves from the inner or under core of the earth. The expression יקָּווּ הַמַּיִםdenotes properly not merely an outward assembling, but an intensive close combining (see Gesenius, קָוָה). Upon the formation of the water proper, as it is now introduced, is conditioned the firm underlying of the earth. The completing of this division, however, has for its consequence that flowing together of the water into its peculiar place, with which immediately the self-forming earth-soil now comes into visibility. It is thereby implied that the elevations and depressions of the earth’s surface—the hills and vales, the highlands and the ocean-depths—are here formed, just as it is so precisely set forth, Ps. 104:6–8 (with which compare Prov. 8:24). And so, too, the creation of the hills is here only indicated, or rather presented, as a consequence of the creation of the sea (see Ps. 90:2; Deut. 33:15; Habak. 3:3). Thus much is clear: as long as the water and the earth-mass are not divided, there can be no mention of any origination of the hills. With the sea-life, however, must begin also the earth-life, that is, the working of the inner earth-fire that causes the up-heavings. It is a wrong apprehension of the waters of Gen 1:2 and Gen 1:6, when one takes the story of cretion as favoring a one-sided Neptunism (Wagner). The volcanic action of the earth in the formation of the earth, is not expressed, indeed, but it is throughout freely implied; it would appear to be indicated, Ps. 104:8. There is truly no difficulty in supposing that the formation of the hills kept on through the succeeding creative days. In respect to this, Delitzsch expresses himself better than Hofmann: “Generally,” says he, “the works of the single creative days consist only in laying foundations; the birth-process that is introduced in each, extends its efficacy beyond it, and, in this sense we say with Hofmann (i. p. 278): ‘Not how long, but how many times, God created is the thing intended to be set forth.’ ” Much more have we to distinguish between the distinct creative acts and the creative evolutions. Even after the creative division of the first day the evolving of light may still go on, and the same thought holds good of the efficacy of the succeeding acts of each of the other days. The act itself means the introduction of a new principle out of the word of God, which, as such, has the form of an epoch-creating event.

Gen 1:10. And God named the dry earth land, that is, earth-soil in the narrower sense, and, therefore, it is that אֶרֶץ has no article.—And the water named he sea.—Properly seas, “or rather ocean; for it is more intensive than a numerical plural, and is therefore (as in Ps. 46:4) construed in the singular.” Delitzsch. On the other hand, Knobel would make prominent the singleness of the seas in the rendering Weltmeer, or world-sea, main sea, or ocean.—And God saw.—Now has the earth-formation come into visibility, though only in its first outlines, or, according to the idea of the naturalist, as an insular appearing of the land-region as it unfolds itself to view.—Let the earth bring forth (sprout, germinate).—It is agreeable to the nature of the earth as well as of the plant that both are together as soon as possible. The earth has an inclination to germinate, the plant to appear. In truth, its origination is a new creative act. In the proper place is this creation narrated; for the plant denotes the transformation of the elementary materials, earth, air, water, which are now present in organic life through the inward working of the light. It forms the preconditioning, as the sign or prognostic, of the awaiting animal creation. And though it has need of the light too in some measure, it does not yet want the sunshine in its first subordinate kinds. The question now arises, whether we must distinguish three kinds of plants: דֶּשֶׁא, tender green;עֵשֶׁב, herbs and shrubs, vegetables and grain (or the smaller growths generally), and עֵץ כְּרִי, fruit-tree, according to the view of Knobel, embracing all trees inasmuch as they all bear seed. Delitzsch, as well as Knobel, assumes this threefold division. Farther on, however, we see that the more general kinds precede (lights, water-swarmings), in order that they may become more or less specific. And here דֶּשֶׁא may present the universal conception of all vegetable life in its first germination (although including along with it the more particular kinds of cryptogamic and the grasses), whilst in this way the contrast between the herbaceous plants and the trees becomes more prominent (Umbreit, Ewald). Thence, too, it appears that the sign of seed-formation, of propagation, and of particular specification, is ascribed to all plants. Closer observations in respect to single particulars may be found in Knobel. We must protest against the exposition of Delitzsch: “Its origination follows in that way which is unavoidable to a creative beginning, and which is to it essentially what is called a generatio equivoca; that is, it does this in measure as the earth, through the word of the divine power, receives strength to generate the vegetable germ.” The sentence contains a contradiction in so far as the question still relates to the divine word of power; but this divine word of power creates not merely a strength, or force, in general;10 each new and distinct creative word introduces a new and distinct principle into the already existing sphere of nature—a principle which hitherto had not been present in it. Along with the various species and seeds, along with the determinate propagation of plants, each after its kind, there clearly and distinctly comes in that conception of nature which is already announced in the great contrasts. The words: upon the earth, עַל־הָאָרְץ (Gen 1:11), are interpreted by Knobel of the high growth of the trees (over the earth) in contrast with the plants which cleave closer to the ground, and which are regarded by Delitzsch as a present clothing of the earth. With respect to Gen 1:20, we may assume that Knobel is right. In the contemplation of the young world, this majestic rising above the earth in the case of the tall trees, as in that of the birds, has a peculiar excitement for the imagination. With the plants there appears the first thing that is distinctly symbolic of life as well as of their individual beauty.

8. Gen 1:14–19. Fourth Creative Day. Beginning of the second triad.—The preconditions of the now expectant animal and human life, are the lights of heaven, the stars, or heavenly bodies, partly as physical quickening powers, and partly as signs of the division of time for the human culture-world. It is theirs, in the first place, to make the distinction between day and night, between light and darkness, and to rule over the day and night—to make that great contrast upon which the human developments, as well as the animal nature-life, are essentially conditioned, such as sleep, waking, generation, diversities in the animal world—animals of the day and animals of the night, etc. It agrees well with the text, that again, whilst it makes a more special mention of the ordinance of the heavenly bodies, it gives the chief prominence to their spiritual or humane appointment: let them be for signs and for festivals, and for days, and for years. The question arises here, whether these appointments are to be taken as four (Luther, Calvin, Delitzsch, Knobel); or that three are meant: namely, for signs of times, for days, and for years (Rosenmüller, Eichhorn, De Wette, Baumgarten); or only two: for signs, for times, including in the latter both days and years (Schumann, Maurer). For the first view, indeed, there speaks the simple series of the appointments, but there is, too, the consideration that the spiritual (or ecclesiastical) appointments of the heavenly bodies are not exhausted in the chronological. The sign אוֹת has oftentimes in the Old Testament a religious significance. Thus the rainbow is established for the sign (אוֹת) of the covenant between Jehovah and Noah, together with his sons (Gen. 9:12). Later, Abraham receives in the starry heaven a sign of the divine promise. But when it is said (Jer. 10:2): Ye must not be afraid of the signs of heaven, there is not reprobated therein the meaning of the signs of heaven in their right significance, but only the heathenish misconception of them. The primitive religion was throughout symbolic; it was a contemplation of the invisible deity through symbolic signs, and the most universal of them were sun, moon, and stars. It was thus that the primitive symbolic religion became heathenish; the religious symbolic degenerated into an irreligious mythical; the glory of God was suffered to pass away in the form of transitory signs; it became identified with them, whilst men utterly lost the consciousness of the difference. The true representatives of the primitive religion on its light-side held fast this consciousness, as in the example of Melchizedek; but they reverenced God as such under the name El Elion (God Most High). It is an improper inference when Knobel here would refer this to the unusual phenomena of the heaven, such as the darkening or eclipse of the sun and moon, the red aspect of the latter (in an eclipse), the comets, the fiery appearances, etc. Moreover, we cannot find indicated here, as Delitzsch does, an astrological importance of the heavenly bodies, on which he remarks: “This ancient universally accepted influence is undeniable, a thing not to be called in question in itself considered, but only in its extent.” The question refers to the signs of the theocratic belief, such as are celebrated Ps. 8. and Ps. 19, from which the culture-signs of agriculture, navigation, and travel, must not be excluded. Thence, by right consequence, must be added the festival signs, מוֹעֲדִים. Moed, it is true, denotes, in general, an appointed time, but it comes in close connection with the word Jehovah before the festival seasons. The significant time-sections of the Israelites were, moreover, religious sabbaths, new moons (Ps. 104:19), and yearly festivals which were likewise regulated by the moon. Upon the two religious appointments of the heavenly bodies (signs of belief, signs of worship) follow the two ethical and humane: the determination of the days and therewith of the days-works—the determination of the years and therewith the regulation of life and its duration. Hereupon follows the more common determination of the heavenly lights for the animal life in general.—To give light upon the earth.—With the light of the sun there is also determined its vital warmth. Thus the text speaks first of the appointment of the heavenly bodies for the earth-world (Gen 1:14, 15), and then of the creation of the luminaries in their variety and distinct appointments, in which the stars form a special class, Gen 1:16. After this there is mention of their location and their efficacy; their place is the firmament; their primary operation is to give light; next follows their government, that is, that peculiar determination of the day and night that is necessary for the preservation of life. The third thing is the division between light and darkness, the instituting of the vicissitude of day and night. For here must the dividing of light from darkness denote something quite different from that of Gen 1:4; it is not the division of the luminous and the shadowy, but of the day-light and the night-shadow themselves. But now arises the question: How comes it that the first mention of the creation of the heavenly bodies is on the fourth day? It follows from the fundamental cosmical laws that the earth, before the sun, was not prepared for bringing forth the plants. It is saying too little to affirm that this place must only be understood phenomenally, or that the earlier created heavenly bodies make their first appearance on the fourth day along with the clearing-up of the atmosphere. But, on the other hand, surely, it is saying too much, when we assume that the formation of the starry world, or even of our own solar and planetary system, had its beginning in the fourth creative period. This representation is inorganic, abnormal. It is just as little supported by any sound cosmogony as demanded by the scriptural text. As little as the text requires that in general the first light of the universe should have its origination cotemporaneous with the light out of the thohu vabhohu of the earth, just as little does the place before us demand that we should date the absolutely first formation of the heavenly bodies from the fourth creative day. This, however, agrees well with our text, that both the appearing of the starry world, and the development and operation of the solar system, were first made ready for the earth on that same day in which the earth became ready for the sun. On the fourth creative day, therefore, there is completed the cosmical regulation of the world for the earth, and of the earth for the world. See more under the Theological and Ethical.

9. Gen 1:20–23. Fifth Creative Day.—Corresponding then to the second day (of the first triad) we have here (on the second day of the second triad) the animation of the water and the air in the marine and winged creatures. The creation of the marine animals begins first. It is not only because they are the most imperfect creatures, but because the water is a more quickening and a more primitive conditioning of life than the earth. The like holds true of the air. It is clear, moreover, that the land-animals in their organization stand nearer to men than the birds; nevertheless they are not, in all respects, more perfect than the birds; and of these latter, as of the trees, it is emphatically said that they hover high over the earth. Indeed, as birds of the heaven, they are assigned to the heaven, as the fish to the water, as the land-animals to the earth, and so far correctly, since they not merely soar above the earth, and have their proper life in the air, but also because they are in part water-fowl and not merely land-birds. This graphic nature-limning is, moreover, to be noticed here in the formation of the fishes and the birds, as at an earlier stage in the formation of the plants. The first animals are now more carefully denoted as living souls, נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּח (soul of life). On this Delitzsch remarks: “The animal does not merely have soul, it is soul; since the soul is its proper being, and the body is only its appearing.” That might hold in respect to men, but it could hardly be said of the animal (see Ps. 104:29, 30). It is true, the beast is animated; it has an animal principle of sensation and of motion which is the ground of its appearing, but as soul it is inseparably connected with all animal soul-life,11 that is, the life of nature. Knobel translates: Let the waters swarm a swarm. This conception is still more lively and pictorial than that of our translation (es sollen wimmeln die Wasser vom Gewimmel, let the water swarm with or from a swarm); nevertheless we hold the latter to be more correct, since the causality of the swarm cannot lie in the water itself,12 but in the creative word.—And let birds fly and fly (fly about).—The strong sense of the Hebrew conjugation Pilel (יְעוֹפֵף) cannot be expressed by the simple words let fly. The element of the formation, the air, is not here given; for it is clear that they are not referred to the water in their origin.13 One might think here in some way of the upper waters; but the birds are under the firmament. Their element is the very firmament of heaven, just where the two waters are divided. On its underside, or that which is turned towards the earth (עַל־פְּנֵי), must the birds fly. They belong just as much to the earth as to the water and the air; therefore are they assigned to no special district, Gen 1:21. The great water-animals (תַּנִּין, long-extended), a word which is elsewhere used of the serpent, the crocodile, the marine monsters, but not specially of fishes. “These, with the insects that live in the water, worms, etc., are all here to be understood under נֶפֶשׁ הַיָּה (soul of life).” Knobel. That the animal creation had its beginning mainly with the water-animals we learn from natural science; but whether with the vertebrated animals? (Delitzsch.) All birds of wing, translates Knobel. We would rather take כָּנָף as a more general designation: winged, which would also include the insects. Delitzsch correctly rejects the old view, which is restored by Knobel, namely that the author meant to represent God as having always created each species of animals in one pair; for one pair cannot swarm, and with a swarm the animal creation begins. With good ground, however, does Delitzsch maintain that for the animals there were determined central points of creation, p. 117. None the more, however, can we approve what he says of the generatio æquivoca of the water and air-animals out of water and earth; since we must throughout acquiesce in the opinion that the creative word establishes something new—new life-principles, and here also the respective animal-principles, in water and air.

Gen 1:22. And God blessed them, and said.—We must hold as scholastic the question started and debated by Chateaubriand and others, whether God blessed also the animals that were buried in the hills. The special consecration to fertility, in the case of the fishes and birds, carries back a fact of the nature-life to the divine causality; we refer to their infinitely abundant multiplication. Besides, it suits well the fifth day, or the number five, that the symbols of mightiest life-motion, the fishes and the birds, are created on this day. The animals of lesser physical motion, but of more intensive individual sensation, come after them.

10. Gen 1:24, 25. Sixth Creative Day. First half.—The creation of the land-animals stands in parallelism with the creation of the firm land on the third day. On the third day, remarks Delitzsch, וַיֹּאמֶר (and he said) is repeated only twice, but on the sixth day four times. “Truly is this day thereby denoted as the crown of the others (the crown of all is the sabbath). The sixth day’s work has its eye on man. In advancing nearness to him are the animals created.” The general creation of נֶפֶשׁ הַיָּה (soul of life, or living soul) divides itself here, 1. into cattle (בְּהֵמָה from בָהַם), the tame land-animals (not utterly dull or stupid; for the horse is less dull than the sloth) to whom in their intercourse with men speech appears wanting; 2. into the reptile that crawls upon the soil (whether it be the footless or the thousand-footed) and the other animals that move about upon the earth as the birds fly about in the heaven; 3. beasts of the earth, or the wild beasts that roam everywhere through the earth.—Let the earth bring forth: That is, in the formative material of the earth, in the awakened life of the earth, the creative word of God brings forth the land-animals. According to the older opinions (see Knobel) it was the greater power of the sun that woke up this new animal life; according to Ebrard it was the volcanic revolutions of the earth. Delitzsch disputes this, p. 119. We must distinguish, however, between a volcanic commotion of the earth’s crust and its partial eruptions. At all events, the land-animals presuppose a warm birth-place. And yet the Vulcanism, or volcanic power, must have been already active at a far earlier period, on the third day at least, and as long as the water was not water (proper) must the creative power of fire have been in the water itself.

11. Gen 1:26–31. Sixth Creative Day. Second half. The Creation of Man.—Wherefore does the creation of man and of the land-animals fall on one and the same creative day? It is because man, as to his bodily appearance, has his being from the earth in common with the animals, and because the formations of the sixth day correspond to that formation of the earth which took place on the third day From this it follows that on the third day the formation of the earth was the main thing rather than that of the sea. At all events, there comes here between the two creative acts a solemn pause resembling a creative evening. God, as it were, stays his hand, and holds a special counsel before he goes on with the work; whereas he had always, until now, immediately uttered the creative word. The idea of man becomes the clear decree for his creation.—We would (or, We will) make man.—It must not be read as though it were a rousing of Himself: Let us make man. But why the plural? There are various explanations: 1. The plural is without meaning (Rosenmüller, and others); 2. it is a self-challenging (Tuch); 3. the three persons of the Trinity (church-fathers, Paschasius, and others in the middle ages; Calvin, Gerhard, etc.). That the Old Testament knows nothing of a divine tri-unity, as Knobel will have it, is not true; yet the trinitarian idea only unfolds itself germinally in the Old Testament, and here it had not yet come to its development. 4. God’s taking counsel with the angels (Targum of Jonathan, the Jewish interpreters;14 Delitzsch, with reference to the Babylonian and Persian myths; yet the passage must not be so understood that the angels take part in the creation except by way of communication; God communicates to them his resolution). Of angels, however, the text has no trace, and the places cited by Delitzsch, Ps. 8; Heb. 2:7; Luke 20:36, prove nothing. Although the angels are called spirits and sons of God, yet the Scriptures accurately distinguish between the angelic and the human nature, and there seems to be an impropriety in the mingling of the divine and the angelic image. Moreover, from this human creation it is that we have the first disclosure of the existence of any spirit-world in general. 5. Pluralis majestaticus, or pluralis intensivus (Grotius, Gesenius, Neumann, Knobel). It must be noted that the plural is carried into the word בצלמנו (in our image), etc. This appears to go beyond the pluralis majestaticus, and to point to the germinal view of a distinction in the divine personality, directly in favor of which is the distinction of Elohim and Ruah Elohim, or that of God and his Wisdom, as this distinction is made, Prov. 8, with reference to the creation. Although צלם and דמות, as well as the particles בְּ and כְּ, are used promiscuously (Knobel, Delitzsch), yet still the double designation does not serve merely to give a stronger emphasis to the thought (Knobel). In that case the stronger expression צלם ought to come last. צלם is the shadow of the figure, the shadow-outline, the copy, and therefore also the idol. דמות is the resemblance, the comparison, the example, the appearance. And whilst בּ denotes the near presence of an object, as in, or within, close to or in it, into, whether in a friendly or a hostile sense, near by, etc., כְּ expresses the relation of similarity or likeness, as as, in some degree, like as, instead of, etc. The former preposition denotes the norm, the form, mass, number, and kind of a thing; the latter its relation, similarity, equality, proportion, in reference to some other thing. According to this, in our image means, after the principle, or the norm of our image; but as our likeness means, so that it be our likeness. The image denotes the ideal, and therefore also the disposition, the being, the definition; the likeness denotes the actuality, the appearing. As the likeness of God, man is set (placed, appointed); but the image of God he is made to become (fit, factus est) through his most interior assimilation, his ideal formative impulse (or that tendency that forms him to the idea).15 For the dogmatic treatment of this, see farther below. Knobel and Delitzsch, following the Syriac Version, are of opinion that חַיַּת (beast) has fallen out before הָאָרֶץ (the earth); but wherefore should the dominion of man be limited merely to the animal-world? Through his lordship can man domesticate the wild beast; he may also rule over the plant-world, and over the earth absolutely. This, in its widest acceptation, is set forth, Gen 1:28. In this divine viceroyship must his possession of the image first reveal itself; it must be the likeness of his higher and more intense conformity.

Gen 1:27. Very explicitly is this divine-imaged nature of man presented, in a twofold manner along with his creation.—As man and woman.—Properly, as male and female created he them. Rightly does Umbreit remark: “The language here soars to a most concise song of triumph, and we meet, for the first time, with the parallelism of members.” In three parallel members, and therefore in the highest poetical form, does the narrative celebrate the creation of man. Concerning the derivation of men from one pair, see below.

Gen 1:28. And God blessed them (אוֹתָם, them, not אוֹתוֹ, him, according to the Septuagint) and said to them.—“God blesses, too, the new created man but with two blessings. For besides the power of propagation which they have in common with the beasts (Gen 1:22), they hold moreover the dominion over them. The same is enlarged after the flood.” Knobel. “The striving after the rhythmical-poetical parallelism presents itself in these words:

and Elohim blessed them,

and Elohim said unto them.” Delitzsch.

Yet the blessing sounds hardly “like a summons to the subjection of hostile powers.” The relation of the soul to the outer world, especially “the feature of self-hood in all creature-life,” was not originally adverse, as is held by Bellarmin, or even by Zwingli. And thus is man first pictured to us, and then his calling, to which it belongs that he must rule his own proper sensual nature, as he rules all living, or all that is animal in the earth—the word being taken here in its most universal sense. The laborer is worthy of his reward. The ruler of the earth is himself conditioned. He needs nourishment, and, therefore (Gen 1:29), there is pointed out to him his sustenance.—Behold, I have given you (Lange’s translation: I have appointed for you).—Together with the nourishment of man (Gen 1:29) there is appointed the nourishment of the beasts (Gen 1:30). What is common to both is the appointment of the use of vegetable food; the distinction is that man shall have the use of the herb with its seed, that is in itself, and of the fruit-tree, whilst the beast, on the other hand, has the green of the herb. The meaning of this is, that for man there is the corn (or core) of nature, for the beast the shell or husk. “According to the Hebrew view, therefore, men, at first, lived only upon vegetables, and at a later time there first came in the. use of flesh (Gen 9:3). The rest of antiquity agreed with this.” Knobel. For the citations from Plato, Plutarch, etc., that belong here, see p. 20. According to Delitzsch, this is not a mere view of antiquity, but farther, he says, “God did not originally will the violent breaking up of the life of one living thing by another for the purpose of enjoying its flesh, since that would be utterly against his clearly expressed will in their creation.” Oerstedt (in his “Spirit in Nature”) avers “that we have clear proofs that corporeal evil, ruin, sickness, and death, were older than the fall.” Delitzsch characterizes this “as a shout of triumph which ever becomes clearer in favoring the grossest materializing atheism.” And so also he says, with A. Wagner (in his “Primitive World”), that as the body of man after his fall underwent an essential alteration in its material ground, so likewise there must have gone before an analogous change and transformation in the animal-world. We see not how a naturalist can think of such a transformation of organic nature; still less how we can call in question the fact of a death that had come upon all species of animals before the fall of Adam, without taking along with it the theosophic interpretation of the thohu vabhohu as a Golgotha of the Devil’s kingdom. On this supposition, too, it is not easy to explain the difference of the cattle and the wild creature in our chapter—just as little, too, the fact that immediately after the fall the skins of animals are at hand for the clothing of man; or that it is the pious Abel who brings the animal sacrifice to the altar, and not Cain. Again, it will help us very little to call in aid, as Delitzsch does, the Brahmanic and the Buddistic laws, and the Pythagorean doctrines (p. 125). In truth, there is still a great chasm between the tenable supposition that the paradisaical man put to death no animal, or could do so, and the arbitrary inference that even within the animal-world itself everything was so disposed that no beast even ate another. Moreover, in this view, the representation of death itself is not wholly freed from the fear of death. The consequence of this same theory would be, that even an insect that had once lived could never die. But shall a natural death, so called, as when an old hind expires from want of air, or from hunger, be regarded as any more natural than the death which takes place under the jaws of the lion? In this all too gentle representation there lacks the heroic power—the spirit of sacrifice. May one suppose that the first specimens of the beasts had not been disorganized like the later animal, and that they did not experience any important transformations, still a literal change of a grass-eating into a flesh-eating lion must be regarded as a radical transformation. As for the rest, our text denotes only the basis of the law of nourishment for the animal existence, and this basis is for man the fruit, the herb, the grain, for the cattle the pasturage and the fodder. In indulging our idealizing view of the primitive world, that it was wholly without death, we should not overlook the fact that it was an ill habit of the old heathenism, in its view of the world, to confound sin with death, or even with the natural unfolding of life. Thus the poems that Knobel too makes mention of, and according to which even the ravenous beasts originally lived upon vegetable food.

Gen 1:31. And, behold, it was very good.—At the seventh time it is said not merely good, but very good, because in man the keystone of creation is reached. The possibilities of the ruin of man and of the world are for the pure paradisaical state curæ posteriores, just as the destinies of manhood are for the thinking of the child. For the theosophic view, the undivine lay only bound under the new order of things. That in general the demoniac evil was already in the world is not denied, but the six days’ work, taken as the world in general, or as God had made it, was very good, that is, perfect; κόσμος, κάλλιστον (Thales).16


1[Gen 1:2.—Brooded (מְרַחֶפֶת). Lange has here in brackets belebend, vivifying, though he afterwards rejects the metaphor of incubation.—T. L.]

2[Gen 1:7.—And it was so. Lange: Und es ward also, rather better than our translation, since also differs from our so as denoting more of reason and consequence. Both, however, fail of the full force of the Hebrew כֵּן. This, to be sure, is most commonly a particle, ita, οὕτως, etc., but it never loses the other or adjective sense of firmness, rightness, soundness (integer), as more allied to the primary sense of the verb כון which becomes the Arabic verb for being. And it was firm; the word was accomplished; the firmament stood just as commanded. It was the beginning of a nature. Compare Ps. 33:9: “He commanded and it was, he spake and it stood.” So Maimonides on the passage: “And why does he add: יְהִי־כֵן? It is equivalent to saying that it was to be so continually all the days of the world as cohering with that which comes after it.” It takes its fixed place in the system. So also the verb כון itself, in the Pilel form, is used as a word of creation. See Deut. 32:6: הוּא עָשְׂךָ וַיְכֹנְנֶך, He made thee and established thee.—T. L.]

3[Gen 1:26.—Lange renders here, als unser Gleichniss, as our likeness, and in a sentence in brackets denies the correctness of the other rendering, after our likeness. The Hebrew כ in כְּדְמוּתֵנוּ may give either shade of meaning. The difference may seem slight; and yet it may be a question of some theological importance, whether man is the image of God, primarily, or made after that image—the word image per se being reserved for Him who is called, Heb. 1:3, the express image, χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως, the image of the substance; Col. 1:15, the eikon, or image of the invisible God, εἰκὼν τοῦ Θεοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου (compare 1 Cor. 11:7; 2 Cor. 4:4), and who is styled, John 1:9, the light that lighteth every man. If we regard Him as pre-eminently the image, or eikon, in this high and perfect sense, as carrying with it the very substance or being of that which was imaged, then it would be more reverent as well as more in accordance with the text, we think, to say (with our English version) man was made after that image; his light is a reflection from that eternal mirror, or the ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης, the “Brightness of Glory,” the “Outbeaming of Glory,” as it is called, Heb. 1:3.—T. L.]

4Gen 2:3.—The farther words: these are the genealogies [Ang., generations] of the heavens and the earth, are not the conclusion of the first piece (as held by Delitzsch, Bunsen, etc.), but the commencement of the one that follows, as is also shown by the use of the name Jehovah Elohim.

5 [There must have been something more definite in the early conception that gave rise to this form of the word. It looks like a dual, and this would suggest that the thought of the heavens, out of which it arose, may have been that of a hemi-sphere, and of the whole mundus as having a spherical form. The phenomenal shape of the sky would give the idea of a counterpart. The roundness of the mundus, and, as a necessary inference, the roundness, or two-sidedness of the earth, must have been a conception much more ancient than we imagine. It must have occurred to a thoughtful mind every time there was witnessed the phenomena of the sun setting (the sun going under) and the sun rising (its coming up from the world or sky below the earth). Comp. Ps. 19:5; Eccles. 1:4; Job 26:7. Such a notion, however, would be more for the reflexive thought than for the sense; but its early existence is perfectly consistent with other language drawn from the more direct and near appearance of the earth as an extended plane. A dual idea may also have been suggested by that of the waters above and waters below (Gen. 1:7), thus giving the notion of a double heavens divided by the rakia.

The word, however, is more probably a plural. This appears from some of its connections, and from a comparison of its form in all the ether Shemitic languages. The י is in the place of the ׳ה as it appears in the root שָׁמָה, to be high. Since there is nothing arbitrary in language, especially in early language, this plural form must represent the notion that would very early arise, of something above the רָקִיעַ, or that the rakia itself was merely an optical appearance in which were shown the forms of things that were really at vast and vastly varying distances beyond it. Such a thought was earlier in the Hebrew mind than in the Greek, though the latter, as usual, when they came to entertain it, made much more of the idea in the way of definiteness, number, and locality,—treating it with less reverence, and giving it up more to the license of the imagination. So was it with the idea of a spirit-world. It was older in the Shemitic than in the Javanic mind; but the Greeks gave it more of topography and scenery, whilst upon the Hebrew thought there seems to have been ever thrown a holy reserve, or rather, a providential restraint upon the imagination, until the coming of Him who was the Resurrection and the Life. In both cases the latter were content with the general thought, namely, another life, especially for the people of God who “is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Matt. 22:32; Exod. 3:15), and other heavens beyond that which primarily presents itself to the sense.

We may, therefore, ascribe this early plural form to that vivida vis animi which first pierces through the seen into the unseen. From the single appearing rakia, or expanse, above, came the thought of a heaven over that, and of a “heaven of heavens” higher still, from which God looks down to “behold the things that are in heaven (the near heavens) and the earth.” Ps. 113:5: Who dwelleth so high (מַגְבִּיהִי לָשָׁבֶת), who stoopeth so low (מַשְׁפִּילִי), even to look down into these lower earth heavens (בַּשָּׁמַיִם לִרְאית), as though immensely remote as seen from so superlative a height. The very anthropopathism adds to the grandeur of the conception. He “stoopeth down to look,” as though not only the earth and man, but the heavens that surround them, were so far off, or so far below, as to be hardly visible to the divine eye.

[From such a germ the conception grew in the Hebrew mind, until, there came out of it a number of other words denoting different supposed departments of the great spaces above. Still later the Jewish Rabbins got from these their notion of the Gilgallim, or seven heavens (regarded as wheels, Ezek. 1:16, or spheres), and to which they give distinct names having, most of them, some philological and conceptual ground in the old scriptures. They are thus reckoned by them: וילון ,רקיע ,שׂחקים ,זבול ,מעון ,מכון ,ערבות, Vilon, Rakia, Shehakim, Zebul, Maon, Makon, Aráboth. The first of these is the only one not found in the Bible. It is a Rabbinical word from the Latin velum. It is used for the very lowest heavens, or the supposed sphere below the rakia. It is the veil, or sky of clouds which intercepts the light but permits the heat to pass through, and in this sense Jarchi alludes to it in his interpretation of Ps. 19:7: “there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.” So also Rabbi Jehoshuah says, Berach 58, 1: “the וילון is that space or sphere through which, when broken and rolled away, there appears the light of the open expanse.” All the rest of those names belong to the old Hebrew, and are found in the Old Testament Scriptures in such connections as to justify the Rabbins in regarding them as denoting different regions, to say the least, in the upper spaces or heavens. See Ps. 57:11; 36:6; Job 38:37; 37:18; Ps. 89:7; Hab. 3:11; Ps. 33:13, 14; Isaiah 58:15; Ps. 68:6; Deut. 26:15; 2 Chron. 30:27; Ps. 90:1; Isaiah 63:15. The word עֲרָבוֹת, Ps. 68:5, is rendered heavens in our version: To Him who ridcth upon Araboth in his name Jah, Jehovah; rideth upon the highest or outer heaven, according to the Jewish scale. Almost all the modern commentators give it a different sense here, and with apparently fair reasons. Our English translation, however, is countenanced by the old versions, besides being fully sustained by the traditional rendering of all the Jewish commentators and translators, ancient and modern. According to them, it is the highest sphere corresponding to the δεδεμμένη of the Greeks, or the fixed sphere, where all is immovable, whilst everything below is undergoing change. It is where God specially dwells, שׁכֵן עַד, inhabiting eternity, sedens in perpetuum, Is. 57:15. Hence they render it, not riding, though that would give a most sublime image if we regarded this great sphere as rolling, but sitting, like one throned, and that corresponds well to the primary sense of רכב in all the Shemitic tongues, which is not motion, a meaning which it never has, unless demanded by something else in the context, but super-position. Comp. with Is. 40:22, הַיּשֵׁב עַל־חוּג אָרֶץ, “He that sitteth upon the orb of the earth,” though so high that “the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers.” The other words are also used to denote the divine throne or the divine dwelling. This Rabbinical astronomy may be said to have its germ in the Scriptures, though its expansion and arrangement are to be ascribed to the later imagination. It was the natural outgrowth of that mode of thinking and conceiving that first gave rise to the plural שָׁמַיִם. Comp. also the word מְזָלוֹת, 2 Kings 23:5, as used for the heavenly spheres or houses (from נזל with its Arabic sense of dwelling), and מזרות, Mazzaroth (which is the same word etymologically), Job 38:32. See also the Arabian tradition of the seven heavens as given in the Koran, Surat 17:46; more fully, Surat 41:11; also 23:17, with Alzamakshari’s comment on the upper stories or gradations of the heavens. These Arabian traditions have every appearance of being ancient, and of having aided the Rabbinical scheme, rather than of having been derived from it. The Shemitic languages are certainly peculiar in these plural words for heaven. The New Testament οὐρανοὶ is a pure Hebræism. The Shemitic word excels also in its radical significance. Οὐρανος (ὅρος οὖρος) has simply the idea of limit. It is the vertical horizon, or the horizon above. The. Latin cœlum is simply concavity (τὸ κοῖλον); so is the Saxon heaven (heave arch). In the Hebrew, the natural image is height, and this reduplicated and carried upward by the plural form. In this respect the Hebrew words for the great spaces are like the great time pluralities to which we have referred in the Introduction to the First Chapter of Genesis. The heavens and heavens of heavens, the שמים and שמי שמים, are like the שולם and the עלמים, the olam, and olam of olams, so frequent in the Old Testament, yet so obscured in the translations. There is another Shemitic plural equally suggestive, and which is not found in other families of languages. It is the word for life (חיים, lives), denoting a plurality in this idea as well as in the words for heaven and eternity. Instead of being despatched as a mere usus loquendi, this, and other peculiarities of the earliest tongues are well worthy our deepest attention. The plurality of life, of the great spaces, and the great times, seem all to have come from a way of viewing the works of God which has no parallel in the representations of other human languages.—T. L.]

6[Still the conception of brooding, cherishing (fovens), is fundamental in the word רחף. Its primary sense is a vibrating, throbbing motion, most emblematic of the beginning of life—especially as traced in the egg-form—the first beginning of heat and pulsation. Its primary significance is onomatopical—rahap, to flutter (regular pulsatile motion). Hence it becomes very early one of the verbs of loving, being closely allied, both in sound and sense, to the Hebrew רחם. In Syriac it is the common word for loving, warming, cherishing. In the Arabic the middle guttural has softened down to aleph, and we have رَأَفَ, denoting intense and cherishing love. No word could have been better adapted to the idea, intended in this place, of an inward, life-giving power, rather than a mere mechanical outward motion, such as is given by the translation “blew” or “moved upon.” Nowhere else in all the usage of the Hebrew or Syriac is רחף ever employed in the sense of blowing. The Piel form here makes the inward sense of throbbing the more intensive. We see no harm to the Scriptures from the supposition that this idea of the cherishing spirit was the origin of the fable of Eros, or of the mythological World-egg, whether regarded as Persian or Greek. See Aristophanes, Aves, 694.—T. L.]

7 [The word יָצַר is more formative than בָרָא, but not less creative. The latter is used more of the primary divisions, if not of the primary matter itself. The former denotes generally the more artistic or architectural work, the handy work, מַעֲשַׁה יָדָיו, Ps. 19:2, or מַעֲשֵׁה אֶצְבְעוֹתֶיךָ, Ps. 8:4, “the work of thy fingers.” It is, according to one view we may take of creation (see Introd. to Gen. 1. p. 128), the higher work, the greater work of the divine artistic wisdom as distinguished from the mere divine power. In its most outward primary applications, יִצֶר denotes the elaborate shaping formations, such as that of a statue, or idol, Hab. 2:18; Is. 44:9, 10. Hence it becomes the appropriate word to express inward formation—form in the more interior sense—law, structure, constituting state—in a word, idea in distinction from idolon. As a word of physical creative constitution, it is variedly and impressively used to denote the appointed arrangements in the seasons, as Ps. 74:17, קַיִץ וָהרֶף אַתָּה יְצַרְתָּם, “summer and winter thou hast formed them”—Is. 45:7, יוֹצֵר אוֹר וּבוֹרֵא חשֶׁך, “who formed the light and created darkness” (the light the more ideal or artistic creation). “He made the sea, עֹשֶׂה, and his hands formed, יִצְרוּ, the dry land,”—gave it its greater variety and beauty of form. So Amos 4:13, “who created the wind, or air (וּבֹרֵא), who formed the mountains” (יוֹצֵר). It is used to denote the formation of a people by law and providential guidance: Is. 43:21, עַס-זוּ יְצַרְתִּי לִי, “this people that I have formed for myself.” Is. 45:18, בֹּרֵא is used of the heavens, and לצֵר of the earth. This might seem opposed to the distinction we have made, but the context that follows shows why the more ideal or formative word is thus used of the earth—כוֹנְנָהּ לֹא־תֹהוּ—“who formed the earth and made it, who established it (gave it a nature, Syr. כינא) that it might not be a tohu (a formless waste), who made it to be inhabited.” It is used of the human body, or rather of the whole human physical constitution. Gen. 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man,” (Gen 1:8) “and he put the man whom he had formed.” It is, in like manner, most impressively applied to the most exquisite and divine processes in the human structure. Ps. 94:9: אִם יוֹצֵר עַיִן הַלֹא יַבִּיט, “He that formed the eye, shall he not see?” Hence, in a more interior sense still, it is used of the very constitution of the soul: ZaGen 12:1, “who stretcheth out the heavens, and foundeth the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him,” בְּקִרְבּוֹ, in interioribus ejus. Deeper still, it is used of the heart, or the moral constitution: Ps. 33:15, הַיּוֹצֵר יַחַד לְבָּם, “that forms their heart alike.” It carries the same idea as a noun, and this gives rise to its use as denoting the forming or imaging faculty of the soul, as in the striking passage, Gen. 6:5: וְכָל-יֵצֶר מַחְשְׁבוֹת לִבּוֹ, “and every imaging of the thoughts of his heart.” יֵצֶר is the form of the thought, as the thought is the form of the emotion, or of the deep heart that lies below all.

One of the most noteworthy uses of the verb יצר is its application to the human generative process; it is also to be observed how this is ascribed directly to God, as though, in every case of the individual gestation in the womb, there was something of a creative power and process: see Jer. 1:5, בְּטֶרֶם אֶצָרְךָ בַבֶּטֶן, “before I formed thee in the womb.” Compare Eccles. 11:5, where this formative process is presented as one of the deep mysterious things known only to God, and especially Ps. 139:13–16, whether the language there denotes the individual or generic formation, or both—“when I was curiously wrought,” etc.; “and in thy book all ray members were written, יָמִים יֻצָּרוּ, the days they were being formed” (see remarks in Introd. to Genesis, p. 135).

[If the Hebrew had developed itself into a philosophical language, from this root would have come their name for formal cause, causa formalis, that which gives idea to anything, or makes it what it is, in distinction from the causa finalis, or causa efficiens. In fact, it is in this very way that such a term has been formed in Arabic, and in the Rabbinical Hebrew, only they have employed for this purpose the kindred צור, which connects the idea of formation with that of binding or inward unity.—T. L.]

8[Man is thus called by Lange as the causa finalis of all the other earth formations.—T. L.]

9[Himmelsgrunde. We fail in translating this to get any better word to represent the frequent German Grund (in composition) than our word ground. Foundation presents an incongruity of figure which is less in the more general term ground. Plane would be too indefinite.—T. L.]

10 [The argument from exegesis here would depend very much upon the view taken of the words מַזְרִיעַ זְרַצ. They are rendered by the LXX. σπεῖρον σπέρμα. The Vulgate, faciens semen, and our translation, yielding seed, are better, since the Hiphil form seems to demand a causative or producing sense. The rendering of the LXX. would do for the other form זוֹרֵעַ זֶרַע, which occurs Gen 1:29, representing the plant, after it was made, as casting its seed upon the earth. If we take it in the causative or seminative sense, there is still the question, whether it is merely descriptive of the plant in general as distinguished from other created things, or whether it sets forth something in the very creative or first generative process. If it were the former, it would seem to demand the article, הַמַּזְרִיעַ, the plant that bears or seminates seed. As it stands, however, the whole force of the word (as emphatic) and of the context, would favor the latter idea: “Let the earth bring forth the plant as geminating,” or in its semination, that is, as growing from a seminal power in the very beginning. It may not be easy to understand, conceptually, how this can be without a previous material seed (seed-vessel) or a previous plant from which the seed came, but still, as a fact, it may be clear, and clearly stated. The opposite notion is, that the plant was outwardly and mechanically formed with its stem, leaves, limbs, seed-vessel, etc., all perfect, and then, in some way, connected with the ground, which, after all, has nothing to do with its first production. Or it might be thought that merely the seed (seed-vessel) was thus mechanically made (that is, by a force acting on the outside of it), and then this seed placed in the ground to grow. Either of these latter views is attended with great difficulties, increasing ever the more they are contemplated, though as a mere conceptual view it might seem at first the easiest. It may be said, too, that they are not favored by the language which assigns to the earth an important part in the process, and seems to make the very semination an original act. We gain nothing by regarding it as the mechanical creation of the seed-vessel, since that is not, in itself, the seminating power, any more than the entire plant, but only the seat of its nearer residence, or its more interior wrapper as it may be called. Every plant that now grows springs from an immaterial power (and that not a blank force, but conditioned by an idea) brought in certain relations to the earth. This power is not the seed as seed-vessel, for that dies (dissolves) in the process (see John 12:24), and by such dissolution sets free the immaterial life to work again, as at first, in gathering from the flowing outward conditions the material for its new manifestation, and arranging such flowing material in the fixed order commanded and demanded by its unchanging מִין, species, εἶδος, law, or idea. In the beginning the command of the Logos places it in immediate connection with such outward conditions. There is no need of any protoplast whether in the form of plant or seed. The tree, regarded materially, or as φαινόμενον, is as much a flowing thing as a river, although it flows much more slowly. It is, therefore, alike irrational to think of God’s making either of them outwardly, or immediately, instead of the causation from which they respectively proceed. In the case of things that are intended to reproduce themselves, this primitive seminal power is afterwards deposited in a seed-vessel from whence to come forth for all future manifestations; but it is the same power—the same that was first created—the same species (unum in multis) in the myriad manifestations outwardly existing at the same time, and in all succeeding times as long as the power lasts, or is able to find the conditions under which it appears. It may be regarded too, with all reverence, as the same process, except that at each intermediate beginning it starts with its liberation from the holding seed-vessel to work anew in building itself a new house, but in the same manner, after such liberation, as when it first issued from the divine fiat. For a moment, too, may this immaterial power be said to become disembodied, as in the instant of passing from the old perishing organization into the commencing new—each being successively its work, deriving from it structure, form, and outward species. It is not made by the organization—for then chemistry might find it. It is before the organization, thus making the latter a real organism produced, as at first, by a force and a law working from within, and building around itself, instead of an artificial semblance having its idea outwardly or mechanically introduced into the matter after the way of human art. We may say, therefore, that it is the same original life, the going forth of the same unspent energy, the prolonged utterance of the same Word sounding on in nature, and obeyed now, each time, with the same alacrity as when it first felt the pulsations of the voice that said: תַּדְשֵׁא הָאָרֶץ, “Let the earth germinate,” let the earth bring forth. It is mother-earth that gives the plant its body, its outward manifestation, so far as that alone may be called the plant, but not its idea, its law, or even its immaterial power. And it is this which makes it something quite different from the generatio equivoca of some naturalists, and to which Delitzsch unfortunately compares it. The very term implies a blank, blind, and doubtful force that might produce one thing as well as another. But here there is a conditioning power bringing out the plant לְמִינֵהוּ according to its species. It is God’s word appearing (speaking) through the earth; it is “the Lord hearing the heavens, and the heavens hearing the earth, and the earth hearing the corn, the wine, and the oil,” Hosea 2:22, 23. Hence the exceeding significance as well as beauty of one of the Hebrew names for plants. They called them אוֹרוֹת, lights, manifestations, see Is. 26:19, טל אוֹרוֹת, the “dew of herbs,” to which is compared the resurrection-power (or “resurrection-rain” as the Jewish Rabbins call it), which shall revive the bodies “sown” in the earth.

[Whatever difficulty there may be in such views of the original growth, it is far less than that which attends the mechanical notion, if we push it to all its consequences. It would follow that the earth did not really bring forth the first plants (as Scripture expressly says it did), unless we take it in some more magical sense, or think of some sudden starting out of the earth independent of any nexus of physical causation. We must also, in that case, give up the idea of the species determining the construction instead of the construction the species. But the strongest argument for the commentator is that the exegesis will not bear it. In such an outward mechanical view the words מַזְרִיעַ ,תַּדְשֵׁא lose all their causative force, and thus become merely redundant cyphers in the account. The language of causation where there is in reality no causative process is simply magical and unmeaning. Had מַזְרִיעַ here meant nothing more then casting or sowing seed, as the LXX. interpret it, there would only have been need of the present Kal participle זוֹרֵעַ, as in Gen 1:29, where the plant is spoken Of after its erection, and as carrying on its processes of reproduction. Had “yielding seed” been the sense intended, there are other words that would have better expressed it. This Hiphil form occurs only in one other place in the Hebrew Scriptures, namely Lev. 12:2, where it evidently bears exclusively the conceptive or seminating sense. Its choice here, therefore, shows that the writer had something else in view than an outward construction, either of the plant as a whole, or of the seed-vessel whether regarded as separate from, or as contained in, the plant.—T. L.]

11[Thierseelenleben. Lange evidently forms this German word with reference to the peculiar Hebrew phrase נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה, nephesh hayya, or soul of life, rendered in our English Version living soul. We use the word animal, in translating, from an aversion to the English word beast, which has fallen much below the German Thier.—T. L.]

12[This reasoning seems doubtful. There is no more need of such an argument to avoid naturalism here than in interpreting the similar language תַּדְשֵׁא הָאָרֶץ, Let the earth bring, Gen 1:11. The causality here, as there, is double, but there is certainly a secondary causality in the earth which justifies us in giving its obvious active transitive meaning to the denominative verb שָׁרַץ: Let the waters swarm a swarm. The verb is evidently made from the noun שֶׁרֶץ, reptilia, the lowest and most prolific kind of animals. So the Jewish-Arabic translator renders it by a similar denominative verb made from ضَبَّة, a lizard الماء ضبيب يضبب, Let the water bring forth lizards, or swarm with lizards.—T. L.]

13[This is not so clear as Dr. Lange may think, although he has on his side most of the modern commentators. The Hebrew words וְעוֹף יְעוֹפֵף, as they stand connected, cannot, we think, be properly rendered in any other way than as we find it in our English Version: and birds that fly, and in all the ancient Versions; LXX.: πετεινὰ πετόμενα; Vulgate: producant aquæ reptile et volatile; the Syriac is exactly like the Hebrew in its construction, and can have but one possible sense, birds that fly. So Luther: es errege sich das Wasser mit Thieren und mit Gevögel das fliege. The valuable translation, Arabs Erpenianus, has it يطير وطايرا, which can only be rendered, in the connection, birds that fly. The idiom of the Hebrew seems fixed, requiring us in such a case to regard the future as descriptive, like participle or an adjective. In the Arabic the corresponding usage is so established as to put any other translation out of the question. It occurs frequently in the Koran with the same subject, and in just such a connection as we have it here. The other rendering, and let birds fly, would require a different order of the words, וַיְעוֹפֵף הָעוֹף, as just before ישְׁרְצוּ הַמַּיִם let the waters swarm. The more modern rendering has come from the fear of what would seem gross naturalism, namely the eduction of the birds from the water; but we know nothing here except as we are taught. There is nothing more incredible in such an eduction than there would be in affirming it of any other form of that unknown and wonderful thing we call life. It may be very far back, this coming of the bird-nature out of the waters, but the naturalist finds the fish-type in the birds, all of which may have been originally water-fowl, and this would seem to be in harmony with the declaration of the text, strange as it may sound to us. Dr. Conant, we find, translates as Lange does; but with all our respect for that excellent Hebrew scholar, we are compelled to think him wrong. So Bush, Jacobus, and others.—T. L.]

14 [Among the Jewish interpreters the view of Maimonides is peculiar and noteworthy, though it may at first strike us as strange and irreverent. It is God, he thinks, speaking to the earth, or rather, to the nature already brought into being by the previous utterances of the word, and which, in the commands preceding, had been addressed in the imperative third person: “Let the earth bring forth,” etc. Now, when man is to be made, there is a change to the first person imperative, that is, nature is addressed more as an associate than as a servant: “Let us make man,” the higher work in which both co-operate—God directly and sovereignly, nature mediately and obediently through the divine word. From the one comes his body, his physical, from the other his diviner life and image. “In regard to the lower animal and vegetable life,” says this great critic, philosopher, and theologian, “the language (המאמר, the word) was תּוֹצֵא הָאָרֶץ, let the earth bring forth; but in respect to man it is changed to נַעֲשֶׂה, let us make man,’ that is to say, ‘I and the earth,’—let the latter bring forth his body from the earthly elements, even as it did in the case of the lower things that preceded him. For this is the meaning of that which is written (Gen 2:7): ‘Jehovah Elohim formed man (וַיִּצֶר, see note, p. 164) from the dust of the earth, but he gave him a spirit from the mouth of the Most High;’ as it is written, ‘He breathed into man,’ etc., and said, moreover, ‘in our image, according to our likeness,’ meaning that he should be like to both, that is, in the composition of his body a likeness of earth (or nature) from which he was taken, and in his spirit like to the higher order of being in that it is incorporeal and immortal. And so in what follows, he says, in the image of God (alone or unassociated) created he him, to set forth the wonderful distinction (פּלא, the miracle) by which man is distinguished from the rest of the creatures; and this is also the interpretation that I have found given by Rabbi Joseph Kimchi.” Maimon. Comm. in locum.

Of all these views the pluralis majestaticus has the least support. It is foreign to the usus loquendi of the earliest language; it is degrading instead of honoring to Deity, and Aben Ezra shows that the few seeming examples brought from the Hebrew Scriptures, such as Num. 22:6; Dan. 2:36, do not bear it out—the latter, moreover, being an Aramaic mode of speech. If we depart at all from the patristic view of an allusion to a plurality of idea in the Deity, the next best is that of Maimonides. In fact, if we regard nature as the expression of the divine Word from which it derives its power and life, the opinion of the Jewish Doctor approaches the patristic, or the Christian, as near as it could come from the Jewish stand-point.—T. L.]

15 [We have found it difficult to express the thought of Lange here, and especially to give the force intended in the German werden. “The image,” he says, “is the ideal, die Anlage, das Wesen.” So Maimonides here calls צֶלֶם the specific form, צירה המינית the species determining form, or that which makes a thing inwardly what it is, in distinction from הצורה האומנית, the architectural form. The manner in which the two words are used would warrant the interpretation that צֶלֶם (image) is to man what מִין is to the vegetable and animal species, or rather, that in man, as created after this higher idea, the צֶלֶם (image) is the מִין (species). This is most important in respect to the question: in what consists the unity of the human race? Oneness of physical origin and physical life (מִין) undoubtedly belongs to the idea of species, but in a much higher sense is this unity conserved by the צֶלֶם, the higher species, the one spiritual humanity in all men. It is on proofs of this, and not on facial angles or length of heels that the argument should be built. Of the animals it is said, לְמִינֵהוּ, each one according to his kind. This is never said of man, but instead of it, it is בְּצַלְמֵניּ, in our image. In the next verse it is said God created man בְּצַלְמוֹ, “in his image”—that is, God’s image, though some of the Jewish interpreters, as referred to by Aben Ezra, would make the pronoun in צַלִמוֹ relate to man (his image, man’s image), but still that which God had specifically given as his divinely distinguishing idea. So also in the צַלְמֵנוּ, our image, they interpret it, the image that we have given, as in Gen. 6:3, רוּחי, my spirit, is the spirit or life that I have given. So in Ps. 104:29, 30: “Thou gatherest in, רוּחָם, their spirit”—again: “Thou sendest forth, רוּהֲךָ, thy spirit,” the life that thou hast given. It is the same spirit in both verses.

There is in מִין, also, the radical sense of image, as we see in the derivative תְּמוּנָה, Ps. 17:15, joined, too, with a pronoun referring to God, תְּמוּנָתֶךָ, “thy image.” “I shall be satisfied when I awake, thy likeness.” So in a fearful passage directly the reverse of this, צֶלֶם seems to be used for the bad image, or the stamp of the Evil One in wicked men, as in Ps. 73:20: “As a dream when one awaketh, so, O Lord, in the awaking (not “thy awaking,” for which there is no pronoun and no warrant whatever), in the great awaking (בָּעִיר), in the arousing (the dies retributionis), thou wilt reject their image,” צַלְמָם תִּבְזֶה.

In what this image consists, and whether lost, or to what extent lost, by the fall, are mainly questions of theology instead of interpretation, but that there is still in man what in a most important and specific, or constituting, sense, is called “the image of God,” most clearly appears from Gen. 9:6, where it is made the ground in the divine denouncement of the atrocity of murder.

The reasons are strong for interpreting “man from the earth,” as we interpret, the fish and the reptile from the waters. If the formative word יָצַר is used in the one case, so is בָּרָא, which some regard as the more directly creative, employed in the other: “And God created the great whales, and the moving thing which the waters swarmed,” that is, all the marine animals from the greatest to the least. The one language is no more inconsistent with the idea of a process than the other. There is nothing then to shock us as anti-scriptural in the thought that man, too, as to his physical and material, is a product of nature. As such physical being he has his מִין (physical species), and may be said to be לְמִינֵהוּ, as well as the other animals. But he is also a metaphysical, a supernatural, a spiritual being, and here it may be questioned whether he can be said to be לְמִינֵהוּ. To describe him in this respect there is used the higher word צֶלֶם, the image, the image of God, in distinction from his male and female conformations which belong wholly to the physical. We are expressly taught that this latter does not belong to angels, or any purely spiritual beings. They have no sex, and it may be doubted whether they can properly be said to have species, unless it may be affirmed of bad spirits who are greatly mingled with the physical, and whose deformed image God despises or rejects, Ps. 73:20. That there is specific variety, or species, among such may be inferred from our Saviour’s language, Matt. 17:21: “This kind (τὸ γένος) goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”

The image of God the distinguishing type of man: Hold fast to this in all its spirituality as the mirror of the eternal ideas, and we need not fear naturalism. Many in the church are shivering with alarm at the theories, which are constantly coming from the scientific world, about the origin of species, and the production of man, or rather the physical that may have become man, through the lower types. The quieting remedy is a higher psychology, such as the fail interpretation of the Bible warrants, when it tells us that the primus homo became such through the inspiration (the inbreathing) and the image of God lifting him out of nature, and making him and all his descendants a peculiar מִין, species, by the possession of the צֶלֶם, or image of the supernatural.—T. L.]

16 [טוֹב מְֹאד: “Good exceedingly.” It would seem to be not merely a benediction, but an expression of admiration, as we may say without any fear of the anthropopathism—euge, bene, præclare! It suggests a declaration in the Timæus of Plato so remarkable that it is no wonder that some should have regarded it as a traditional echo of this old account. At the completion of the great cosmical ζῶον, the animated universe, with its body and soul (its nature), both of which Plato represents as the work of God, He (God) beholds it moving on in its beautiful constancy, an image of the eternal powers, or ideas. At the sight of this the everlasting Father (ὁ ἀΐδιος πατήρ) is filled with joy and admiration, εὐφρανθεὶς ἠγάσθη—the strongest term to express such an emotion that could be found in the Greek language, ἄγαμαι, ἀγάομαι. There seems, too, to be implied in both expressions, the Hebrew and the Greek, the emotion of love, and this, as it were, reciprocal—the kosmos responding and moving on through a principle of attraction rather than of projection, or outward mechanical force. Κινεῖ ὡς ἐρώμενον, he moves it (or, it moves it) as being loved; such are the words of Aristotle (Metaph. xi. (xii.) c. 7), describing the first principle of motion in the heavens as it proceeds from the First Mover. This language is truly wonderful in itself, and all the more so when we consider its author, the dry and rigid Aristotle, the lumen siccum, or pure abstract intellect, as he has been called. Nature, the kosmos, moving on through love of the First Fair and the First Good—drawn, rather than impelled—it has a Platonic richness of conception which seems strange in the more purely logical writer. Of both, however, it may be said that they produce less impression upon us than the pure grandeur and simplicity of the Bible language: “And God beheld everything that He had made, and, lo, it was good, exceeding good.” With all the splendor of Plato’s language in the Timæus, there is still lurking about it his besetting inconsistency—the thought of something evil, eternal in itself, and inseparable from matter and from nature.

It may be said, too, that this great problem of evil seems to haunt some of our best commentators in their exegesis of this passage. They find here an implied reference to future evil. All is yet good, they would have it to mean, and so they regard it as a Verwahrung, or defence of God against the authorship of evil. See Delitzsch, p. 126. But this mars the glory of the passage. It is simply a burst of admiration and benediction called out by the Creator’s surveying His works. The anthropopathism is for us its power and its beauty, which are lessened by any such supposed hint or protestation.—T. L.]

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

The race of Shem. The Commenced and Interrupted Migration of Terah to Canaan. The Genesis of the Contrast between Heathendom and the germinal Patriarchalism

CHAPTER 11:10–32

1. Genealogy of Shem—to Terah.

10These are the generations of Shem: Shem was a hundred years old and begat 11Arphaxad10 [Knobel: probably, highland of Chaldæa] two years after the flood. And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. 12And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah [sending]: 13And Arphaxad lived after he begat Salah four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters. 14And Salah lived thirty years and begat Eber11 [one from the other side, pilgrim, emigrant]. 15And Salah lived after he begat Eber four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters. 16And Eber lived four and thirty years, and begat Peleg [division]: 17And Eber lived after he begat Peleg four hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters. 18And Peleg lived thirty years, and begat Reu [friendship, friend]: 19And Peleg lived after he begat Reu two hundred and nine years, and begat sons and daughters. 20And Reu lived two and thirty years, and begat Serug12 [vine-branch]: 21And Reu lived after he begat Serug two hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters. 22And Serug lived thirty years, and begat Nahor [Gesenius: panting]: 23And Serug lived after he begat Nahor two hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. 24And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terah [turning, tarrying]: 25And Nahor lived after he begat Terah a hundred and nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters. 26And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram [High father], Nahor [see Gen 11:2], and Haran [Gcsenius: Montanus].

2. Terah, his Race and Emigration (Gen 11:27–32).

27Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah bagat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot [veil, concealed]. 28And Haran died before [the face of] his father Terah, in the lend of his nativity, in Ur [light; flame] of the Chaldees (כשדים). 29And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai [princess]; and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah [Queen], the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah13 [spier, seeress]. 30But Sarai was barren; she had no child. 31And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran, his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees to go unto the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran and dwelt there. 32And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years; and Terah died in Haran.


This genealogy of the Shemites is really an appendage to that of the Sethites, Gen 5, and in this way forms a genealogical series extending from Adam to Abraham. It is continued on the line of Nahor (Gen 22:20–24), on that of Keturah (Gen 25:1–4), of Ishmael (Gen 25:12, etc.), of Esau (Gen 36:1, etc.), on the line of Jacob (Gen 46:8–27), etc. (See the article: “Genealogical Register,” in HERZOG’S Real Encyclopœdie.) According to Knobel this table has the character of an element of fundamental Scripture (p. 129); we are satisfied to designate it as elohistic universalistic, since it embraces not only Abraham’s race, but also the nearest branches of it that at a later period became heathen. The table of the Shemites embraces ten generations, as does the table of the Sethites. The first (conformably to the number ten) denotes a perfect development, which runs out in Abraham, the “father of the faithful,” representing, as he does, a numberless race of the believing out of all humanity. Abraham must be reckoned here with the tenth, as Noah in Gen 5. It is clear, too, that this table is designed to indicate the growth, or establishment of the patriarchal faith, together with its previous history. Most distinctly is this expressed in the migrations of Terah,—and in the individual names of the patriarchs. In the son of Arphaxad, Salah, there is announced a sending, or mission, in Eber the emigration, in Peleg the division of the theocratic line from the untheocratic, in Reu the divine friendship, in Serug the entangling or the restraint of the development, in Nahor a conflict or a striving, in Terah a setting out from the heathen world which in his tarrying comes to a stop. And so is the way prepared for Abraham’s departure. We cannot maintain, with Knobel, that these Shemitic patriarchs must have been all of them first-born. They are, throughout, the first-born only in the sense of the promise. Bunsen interprets the name Eber as one who comes over the Tigris. But in a wider sense Eber may also mean pilgrim. The names Reu and Serug he interprets of Odessa and Osroëne. As coming, however, in the midst of personal names, these also must have been expressed as personal names, from which, indeed, the names of countries may have been derived. On the interpolation of Cainan in the Septuagint, and which is followed by Luke (Gen 3:36), compare Knobel, as also on the varying dates of the ages, as given in the Samaritan text and in the Septuagint. The numbers we have here are 600, 438, 433, 464, 239, 239, 230, 148, 205, and 175 years. Here, too, as in the case of the Sethites, we can get no symbolical significance from the respective numbers, although Knobel is unwilling to recognize their historical character. In connection, however, with the general gradual diminution of the power of life, there is clearly reflected the individual difference; Eber lives to a greater age than both his forefathers, Arphaxad and Salah. Nahor, the panting (the impetuous), dies earliest. According to Knobel, the genealogical table advances from the mythical to the legendary period; at least we have no sufficient grounds, he thinks, to deny to Abraham and his brothers an historical existence. The same must hold true, also, of his fathers, whose names, with their theocratic characteristics, must have belonged, without doubt, to the most lasting theocratic reminiscences. The table before us is distinguished from the Sethitic by being less full, in that it divides the life-time of each ancestor into two parts, by the date of the theocratic first-born, whilst it leaves the summing up of both numbers to the reader. “In Gen 11:26 this genealogy, just like the one in Gen 5:32, concludes with the naming of three sons of Terah, since all these have a significance for the history to come: namely, Abram as the ancestor of the elect race, Nahor as the grandfather of Rebecca (comp. Gen 11:29 with Gen 22:20–23), and Haran as the father of Lot (Gen 11:27).” Keil. The table in DELITZSCH gives us a good view of the series of Shemitic families (p. 324). According to Bertheau the Septuagint is right in its interpolation of Cainan. DELITZSCH disputes this; comp. p. 322. “The Alexandrian translators inserted this name because the Oriental traditions have so much to say of him as the founder of astronomical science; and, therefore, they were unwilling to leave out so famous a name. There may have been a brother of Salah, through whom the main line was not propagated.” Lisco. Delitzsch gives a reason for its not being called the tholedoth, or generations of Abraham, from the fact that the author makes the history of Abraham himself a large and principal part. That, however, would not have prevented the setting forth of Abraham’s genealogical history. But in such a representation there might have been, perhaps, an obscuring of the idea that the seed of Abraham in the natural sense goes through the whole Old Testament, whilst, in a spiritual sense, it pervades the New (see Rom. 4 cf. Gen. 15).


1. Gen 11:10–26.—Shem was a hundred years old.—See the computations of Knobel and Keil.—Two years after the flood.—This must be understood of the beginning of the flood.—And begat sons and daughters.—See the ethnological table; also, Gen 11:17. “For the sake of tracing the line of the Joktanides the author had already given, in Gen 10:21–25, the patriarchal series from Shem to Peleg; he repeats it here, where he would lay down fully the line from Shem to Abraham, with the addition of the ages.”—Arphaxad.—Arrapachitis, “in northern Assyria, the original seat of the collective Chaldæan family.” Knobel. “It was the home of the Χαλδαῖοι and Καρδοῦχοι mentioned by Xenophon and Strabo, as well as of the modern Kurds.” The same writer refers the names that follow to cities or territories, to which we attach no special importance, since in any case the districts here would be themselves derived from the names of persons.

2. Gen 11:27–32. The family line of Terah. According to Keil, this superscription must embrace the history of Abraham, so that the tholedoth of Ishmael, Gen 25:12, and of Isaac, Gen 25:19, correspond with it. But then, in the spiritual relation, Abraham would be subordinate to Terah, which cannot be supposed.—And Haran begat.—“According to the constant plan of Genesis, it is here related of Haran, the youngest son of Terah, that he begat Lot, because Lot went with Abraham to Canaan (ch, 12:4), and Haran died before his father Terah, whereby the band which would have retained Lot in his father-land was loosed.” Keil.—Before his father Terah.—Properly, in his presence, so that he must have seen it; it does not, therefore, mean simply in his life-time. The first case of a natural death of a son before the death of his father, is a new sign of increasing mortality.—Ur of the Chaldees.—This must either be sought in the name Ur, which Ammianus calls Persicum Castellum, between Patra and Nisibis, not far from Arrapachitis, or in Orhoi (Armenian, Urrhai), the old name of Edessa, now called Urfa (see KIEPERT and WEISSENBORN: ‘Nineveh and its Territory,’ p. 7).” Keil. Delitzsch, correctly perhaps, decides for the castle Ur mentioned by Ammianus, although, doubtless, the Ur in our text has a more general, territorial, and, at the same time, symbolical meaning. “The old Jewish and ecclesiastical interpretation reads ‘out of אור’ (fire), meaning that Abraham, as an acknowledger of the one God, and a denier of the gods of Nimrod, was cast into the fire, but was miraculously preserved by God.” Delitzsch. The same writer finds therein the idea that Abraham was plucked as a brand from the fire of heathendom, or from its heathenish fury. We would rather suppose, on the contrary, that by Ur is meant a region in Chaldæa, where the ancient monotheistic symbolical view of the heavenly lights and flames had passed over into a mythical heathenish worship of the stars, as a worship of Light and Fire; wherefore it is that the starry heaven was shown to Abraham as a symbol of his believing progeny (Gen 15), whilst, for the heathen Chaldæans, it was a region of divine (or deified) forces. Knobel explains the word as meaning Mount of the Chaldœans. Rawlinson holds to the reading אוּר as equivalent to עִיר (city). The interpreting it of light and fire is both etymologically and actually the more correct. “The family of Terah had its home to the north of Nimrod’s kingdom (in northeastern Mesopotamia), and worshipped strange gods; as is clear from Josh. 24:2.” Delitzsch.—Iskah.—By Josephus, the Talmud, the Targum of Jonathan, and others, this name is held to be one with Sarah. On the other hand, Knobel properly remarks that according to Gen 20:12, Sarah was the daughter of Terah, and, according to Gen 17:17, only ten years younger than Abraham; she could not, therefore, have been a daughter of Abraham’s younger brother. It is probably the case that the Jews, in deference to their later law, sought by means of this hypothesis to weaken as much as possible Abraham’s kinsmanship to Sarah. Delitzsch assumes the possibility that Haran was a much older half-brother of Abraham, and that Abraham, as also Nahor, had married one of his daughters. According to a conjecture of Ewald, Iscah is mentioned because she became Lot’s wife. But it may be that Iscah was thought worthy to be incorporated in the theocratic tradition because she was a woman of eminence, a seeress like Miriam, according to the signification of her name. Knobel alludes to the fact that Abraham bad his sister to wife, without calling to mind that she was a half-sister (Gen 20:12), or might even have been his adopted sister. So also he says that Nahor married his niece, and that in like manner Isaac and Jacob did not marry strangers, but their own kindred. He accounts for this on the ground of a peculiar family affection in the house of Terah (Gen 24:3, 4; 26:35; 27:46; 28:1); just as at the present day many Arabian families ever marry in their own, and do not permit one to take a wife from any other (SEETZEN: “Travels,” iii. p. 22). The ground, however, of such kindred marriage in the house of Terah and Abraham, is a theocratic one, and thus far are the children of Abraham placed in a condition similar to that of the children of Adam. As for the latter, there were, in general, no “daughters of men,” out of their own immediate kindred, so for the sons of the theocracy there were no spiritual daughters of like birth with themselves, that is, of monotheistic or theocratic faith, out of the circle of nearest natural affinity. In this respect, however, they did not venture to tread in the foot-steps of the Sethites (Gen. 6); for it was theirs to propagate a believing race through consecrated marriage.—But Sarah Was barren.—A prelude to the history that follows.—And Terah took Abram his son.—Without doubt has this removal a religious theocratic importance. At all events, this divinely accomplished withdrawal from Ur of the Chaldees must mean more than a mere providential guidance, as Keil supposes.—And they went forth with them.—The word אִתָּם (rendered, with them) makes a difficulty. It may be easiest understood as meaning with one another. On the other hand, Delitzsch reminds us that the suffix may have a reflex sense, instead of a reciprocal (Gen 22:3). This is the very question, as otherwise the sentence would be indefinite; the expression, therefore, must mean not only with one another, but by themselves; that is, they withdrew as one united, exclusive community. Besides this, there are two modes of taking it. Keil understands only Lot and Sarah as the subject of the verb, and, therefore, refers אִתָּם to Terah and Abraham. There are three things in the way of this: 1. The withdrawing (or going forth) would be separated from the previous introductory expression: Terah took Abraham, etc., which will not do; 2. it would be a withdrawing from that which leads, and the accompanying would become the principal persons; 3. Abraham would have to be regarded as a co-leader, which is contrary to what is said: Terah took Abraham. Moreover, Abraham, regarded as an independent leader, would have been bound in duty to go further on when Terah broke off from his pilgrimage in Mesopotamia. Delitzsch, on the other hand, together with Jarchi, Rosenmuller, and others, refers the words they went forth to the members of the family who are not named, namely, they went forth with those named; but this is clearly against the context. By the expression with them, it would be more correct to understand, with those, namely, with the first-named (Terah, etc.), went forth those just previously mentioned, or named immediately after them. Later, is Haran denoted as the city of Nahor (Gen 24:10 as compared with Gen 27:43; 29:4 and 31:53). For other interpretations see Knobel.—And they came unto Haran.—Terah intended to go from Ur to Canaan, but he stops in Haran, wherefore he also retains his people there. According to Knobel, the mention of Canaan is an anticipation of the history that follows.—Haran.—Carra, Charran, lay in northwestern Mesopotamia (Padan Aram, xxv. 20), ten leagues southeast from Edessa, in a fertile region, though not abounding in water. The city now lies in ruins. It was the capital of the Gabians, who had here a temple of the Moon goddess, which they referred back to the time of Abraham. In its neighborhood Crassus was slain by the Parthians. More fully on the subject, see in SCHRÖDER, p. 520; also in Knobel and Delitzsch.—And Terah died in Haran.—Terah was two hundred and five years old. If Abraham, therefore, was seventy-five years old when he migrated from Mesopotamia, and Terah was seventy years old at his birth, then must Abraham have set forth sixty years before the death of Terah. And this is very important. The emigration had a religious motive which would not allow him to wait till the death of his father. As Delitzsch remarks, the manner of representation in Genesis disposes of the history of the less important personages, before relating the main history. The Samaritan text has set the age of Terah at one hundred and forty-five, under the idea that Abraham did not set out on his migration until after the death of Haran. The representation of Stephen, Acts 7:4, connects itself with the general course of the narration.


See above: The significance of the genealogical table of the Shemites.

1. The decrease in the extent of human life. In the manifold weakenings of the highest life-endurance, in the genealogy of Shem, there are, nevertheless, distinctly observable a number of abrupt breaks: 1. From Shem to Arphaxad, or from 600 years to 438; 2. from Eber to Peleg, or from 464 years to 239; 3. from Serug to Nahor, or from 230 years to 148; beyond which last, again, there extend the lives of Terah with his 205, and of Abraham with his 175 years. Farther on we have Isaac with 180 years, Jacob 147, and Joseph 110. So gradually does the human term of life approach the limit set by the Psalmist, Ps. 90:10. Moses reached the age of 120 years. The deadly efficacy goes on still in the bodily sphere, although the counter-working of salvation has commenced in the spiritual. Keil, with others, finds the causes of this decrease in the catastrophe of the flood, and in the separation of humanity into various nations.

2. Chaldœa and the Chaldœans.—See the Theological Real Lexicons, especially HERZOG’S Encyclopœdie, The Fragments of the Chaldæan Author, Berosus, as found in the Chronicon of Eusebius, and the Chronographia of Syncellus. This people seem to have been early, and, in an especial sense, a wandering tribe. The priestly castes of Chaldæans in Babylonia must have come out of Egypt. Strabo and others transfer the land of the Chaldæans to a region in lower Babylonia, in the marshy district of the Euphrates near the Persian Gulf; the same author, however, finds also, as others have done, the seat of the Chaldæans in the Chaldæan Mountains, very near to Armenia and the Black Sea. The proper home of the Chaldæans was, therefore, at the head waters of the Tigris.

3. Ur in Chaldæa. See above.

4. On the indication of a great yet gradual provision for the variance that was to take place between the race of Eber and the heathen, see the Exegetical and Critical. The later Biblical accounts of Terah and the forefathers of Abraham appear, in general, to owe their form to the reciprocal influence of Israelitish tradition and the Israelitish exegesis of the passage before us. According to the language of Stephen, Acts 7:2, Abraham was already called at Ur in Chaldæa. We must, therefore, regard him as the proper author of the migration of his father, Terah. The passage, Josh. 24:2, according to which Abraham’s forefathers, and Terah especially, dwelt beyond the river (the Euphrates), and served other gods, has special relation to this fact of Terah’s suffering himself to be detained in Haran.—This, then, is to be so understood, that in consequence of the universal infection, idolatry began to take up its abode very near to the adoration of the one God, as still maintained in Terah’s family (see Gen 29:32, 33, 35; 30:24, 27; and to this belongs what is said, Gen 31:34, about the teraphim of Laban). We may well suppose that Joshua, from his stern, legal stand-point, judged and condemned that mingling of worships, or that image worship, as strongly as Moses did the setting up of the golden calf. The little group of wanderers, Gen 11:31, appears to have originated from a similarity of feeling which, after long conflicts in the line of Eber, was finally to tear itself away from this conjectural capital of the Light and Fire worship in Chaldæa, and, in that way, from heathenism altogether. Their aim was Canaan, because there, partly from their decidedly foreign state, partly by reason of their antagonism to the Hamitic race, they would be protected from the contagion. But Terah cannot get beyond Haran, and to this not only does Joshua refer, but also the later Jewish tradition respecting Terah. To this place, where he settles down, Terah seems to have given the name of his dead son, in loving remembrance, and it may have been this name, as well as the fair land and apparent security, that bound him there. The circumstance that Abraham, according to Gen 11:32, does not appear to have departed before the death of Terah (with which, however, the history otherwise does not agree), has been interpreted by Syncellus and others as implying that Terah was spiritually dead. A like untenable Jewish hypothesis, which Hieronymus gives us, assumes that the 75 years which are ascribed to Abraham, Gen 12:4, are not to be dated from his natural birth, but from the time of his deliverance from the furnace of fire, which was like a new birth. But that Abraham tore himself away before his father’s death has, at all events, the important meaning that, in the strife between filial piety and the call of faith, he obeyed the higher voice. The family group in Haran, however, is thus distinctly denoted, because it now forms the provisional earthly homestead of the wandering patriarchs, and because, also, as the later history informs us, it was to furnish wives of like theocratic birth for their sons.

5. Legends concerning the migration of Abraham. See RAHMER, “The Hebrew Traditions” (Breslau, 1861, p. 24). According to a Hebrew Midrash (Rabba 38, in Hieronymus), Abraham, at Ur, was cast into a furnace of fire, because he would not adore the fire which the Chaldæans worshipped, but was miraculously preserved by God. His brother Haran, on the contrary, was consumed, because he was unresolved whether to adore the fire or not. It was Nimrod who had him cast into the furnace. Here belongs, also, the Treatise of BEER, entitled “The Life of Abraham, according to the Jewish traditions.” Leip., 1859.


As Abraham’s life of faith develops itself in his posterity, so did it have its root in the life of his forefathers.—How the life of all great men of God rests upon a previous hidden history.—Comparison of the two lines of faith, that of Seth to Noah, and from Shem to Abraham: 1. outwardly, ever less (at last reduced to one point); 2. inwardly, ever stronger (attaining at last to the one who makes the transition). [Thus Noah passed through the corrupted race and through the flood; thus Abraham made the transition through heathenism.]—Terah’s migration to Canaan: 1. its spirited beginning; 2. its failure to go on.—Abraham and his kinsmen: 1. He was probably the author of their movement; 2. they, probably, the cause of his tarrying in Haran.—The death of children before the eyes of their parents (Gen 11:28).—Sarah’s barrenness, the long and silent trial in the life of Abraham.

STARKE: The Sethites, among whom the true church is preserved.—God’s remembrance of the righteous abides in his blessing.—OSIANDER: A Christian when he is called, must, for the sake of God, leave joyfully his fatherland; he must forsake all that he loves, all that is pleasing to him in the world; he must follow God obediently, and only where He leads.

[EXCURSUS ON THE CONFUSION OF LANGUAGES.—That there was here a supernatural intervention the language of Scripture will not permit us to doubt. We need not, however, trouble ourselves with the question how far each variety of human speech is connected with it, or regard, as essentially affecting the argument, the greatness or smallness of the number of languages now spoken upon the earth. There is, doubtless, many a local jargon, the result of isolation, or of unnatural mixtures, that has but little, if anything, to do with an inquiry in respect to this most ancient and world-historical event. It is so difficult to determine what is a language in distinction from a dialect, or mere local variety of idiom and pronunciation, that such lists as those of Balbi and others can have but little philological value. For all essential purposes of such inquiry, therefore, there is no need to extend our view beyond that district of earth in which languages now existing, either as spoken or in their literature, can be historically or philologically traced to peoples connected with the earliest known appearances of the human race. We give this a very wide sweep when we include in it Southern and Middle Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa. Here philological science, though yet very imperfect, has found great encouragement in its inquiries, and within this district has it begun to make out, with some clearness, what must have been the earliest divisions of language. The result thus far, as stated by some of the latest and best writers, has been the recognition of three general families or groups. In giving names to these, there has also been recognized, to some extent, the ethnological division supposed to be made from the sons of Noah; and hence some have been inclined to call them the Japhethic, Shemitic, and Hamitic (Bunsen, Khamism and Semism). It was early perceived, however, that the ethnologic and linguistic lines do not exactly correspond even in the Shemitic; and there is still more of aberration and intersection within the supposed limits of the two others. The first group has therefore been called the Indo-Germanic, and of late the Arian. In the third the term Hamitic has been generally dropped for that of Turanian. The general correspondence, however, gives much countenance to the first ethnological naming. But whatever method be adopted, it does not affect the main characteristics belonging to each of the three. These may be thus stated. The Shemitic is the smallest, the most unique, both in its matter and its form, the most enduring, the most easily recognized, and having the least diversity in its several branches. The group termed Arian, Indo-Germanic, or Japhethan, is less marked in all these characteristics, though retaining enough of them to make clear the family relationship in all the best-known branches. The third is so different from both these, it seems so utterly broken up, that Pritchard, and other philologists, have given it, as a whole, the name Allophylian, using it simply as a convenience of nomenclature. There exist, however, marks of affinity that show it to be something more than a mere arbitrarily separated mass (see MAX MÜLLER “Languages of the Seat of War,” pp. 88, 90, and RAWLINSON: “Herodotus,” vol. i. 524). To make use of geological analogies, as Bunsen has done, the Shemitic may be likened to the primitive rocks, the Arian to the stratified formations, broken, yet presenting much clearness of outline and direction, the Turanian to confused volcanic masses projected from some force unknown, or solitary boulders scattered here and there in ways inexplicable, yet showing marks of the localities from whence they came, and evidence of some original correspondence in the very irregularities of their fracture. Or we may compare them, the first, to a temple still entire in its structural form, though presenting tokens of catastrophes by which it has been affected; the second, to wide-spread ruins, where whole architectural rows and avenues still show a clear coherence, whilst even the broken arches, fallen columns, displaced capitals, give evidence by which we are enabled to make out the original plan; the third, to scattered mounds of rubbish, in which shattered slabs, obscurely stamped bricks, and faint marks of some joining cement, alone testify to a structure having once a local unity at least, though now exhibiting little of inward plan and harmony. To drop all such figures, it may be said that the Shemitic has preserved what was most enduring of the original form, the Arian what was most permanent of the original matter, whilst in the Turanian has fallen all that was most frangible in the one, or most easily deformed or defaced in the other.

Now to account for such a condition of things in language, especially in its earliest appearance, is equally difficult, whether we hypothesize the primitive movement as a tendency to gregariousness and to a consequent unity of speech, or as a tendency in the opposite direction, or as being both combined in an attractive and repulsive polarity. The phenomena in each and all are at war with every such induction. There is in the one family a strangely preserved unity. There is in another a totally different peculiarity of form stamped upon it from times that precede all historical memory; it is full where the first seems to be scant, free where the other is tense; sometimes just the reverse,14 having as a whole a look so exceedingly foreign as never to be mistaken, yet with an equally unmistakable familiarity, or family likeness, of its own, within which the many dissimilitudes among its different branches never efface the strong and seemingly ineradicable affinities. There is a third so marked by an almost total dissolution that its very looseness would seem to make its only classifying feature, were it not that certain indices found in every branch (such as the numerals and some pronominal forms), point to a community of origin, whilst appearances of correspondence, even in its fractures, suggest a common disorganizing catastrophe. Viewing these three families in their relations to each other, we find that there is not only separation, and that of long standing, but great diversity of separation. The original cleaving dates from a most ancient period, before which nothing is known, and in its general aspect remains unaffected by time. The Hamitic, or Turanian, seems to have been confused and tumultuous from the beginning. Such is said to be its appearance on the early trilingual inscriptions made to accommodate the incongruous peoples in the Assyrian empire who had, in some way, been here and there wedged between the Arian and Shemitic portions. See RAWLINSON’S “Herodotus,” i. 527. Again, the Shemitic, though oftentimes in close contiguity, has put on none of the essential features of the Arian, nor the Arian of the Shemitic. The German and Arabic are as distinct in modern times, as anciently the Greek and Hebrew. The minor specific divisions in each family have varied more or less, but the great generic differences have remained the same from age to age, still showing no signs of blending, or of mutual development into some common comprehending genus, according to the process which Bunsen supposes to have produced such changes in the antehistorical times. What has stamped them with features so ancient and so diverse? Nothing of any known natural development, either of one from the other, or of all from a common antecedent stock, can account for it. If Sinism, or Chinesian (the name given to this hypothetical beginning of human speech), developed Khamism, and Khamism Semism, and Semism Arianism, how is it that we find nothing like it as actual fact in historical times, and no marks of any transition-period in the ages before? Surely, if Bunsen’s favorite comparisons be good for anything, we ought to find in language, as geologists do in the rocks, the visible marks of the process, or if we are compelled to adopt a theory of sudden or eruptive breakings in the one case (whether we call them supernatural or extraordinary matters but little to the argument) why should a similar idea be regarded as irrational in the other. Thus there are no linguistic marks in Greek and Hebrew (regarded as early representatives of two great families), or in Syriac and Sanscrit, showing that at any time they were a common language,15 or any beginning of mutual divergency as traced downwards, or any evidences of convergency as we follow them up the stream of time. In fact, they stand in most direct contrast in their earliest stages; even as the fresh geological rupture must present, doubtless, a more distinct breakage than is shown after ages of wear and abrasion. When history opens, these languages stand abruptly facing each other. This may be said with some degree of confidence, for our knowledge here is not scanty. We have the Shemitic all along from the very dawn of history to our latest times. The Arabic of the present day, copious as it has become in its derivative vocabulary, is as rigid in its Shemitic features as the oldest known Hebrew. There is some reason for regarding it as retaining even still more of the primitive type. The Greek was in its perfection in the days of Homer, and as Homer found it. It has never been surpassed since in all that makes the glory of language as a spiritual structure, in its classifications16 of outward things, in its still higher classification of ideas, in its precision and richness of epithet, in the profound presentation of moral and æsthetic distinctions,—in this respect ever in advance of the people who used it—in the elements it contained for the expression of philosophic thought whenever its stores should be required for that purpose, and, withall, in the melodiousness, the flexibility, and the exuberance of its vocal forms. The Thucydidian Greek falls below it in all these respects. Certainly it had not risen above it. It is the tendency of language, when left to itself, to decline in the attributes mentioned. The assertion may be hazarded that the evidence of this fact is exhibited in most modern tongues. More copious are they doubtless, better adapted to a quick political, social, or commercial intercourse, or to certain forms of civilization in which a greater community of action, or of understood conventional proceedings, makes up for the want of pictorial and dialectical clearness as inherent in the words themselves—but everywhere, in their old worn state, presenting a lack of that vividness, that exquisite shading of ideas, that power of emotion, which astonishes us in the early languages just mentioned. The tendency, in fact, is towards Sinism, or a language of loose arbitrary symbols, not away from it. As savagism is the dregs of a former higher civilization, so Sinism is the remains of language, bearing evidence of attrition and fracture; and this, however copious it may be, or however adapted it may be to a mere worldly civilization, such as that in which the Chinese have long been stationary, or slowly falling, and to which a godless culture, with all its science, is ever tending. There is in language accretion, addition, looseness, decay; but we rarely find, if we ever find, in any speech that has long been used, what may be truly called growth in the sense of organic vigor, or inward structural harmony.17 That young and vigorous constitution which is discovered in the earliest Arian and Shemitic speech, they must have received in some way for which it is very difficult to account on any natural or ordinary grounds. Convention will not explain it, as Plato saw long ago in the very dawn of philological inquiry; onomatopic theories fail altogether to account for the first words, to say nothing of grammatical forms; development is found to be mere cant, giving no real insight into the mystery. If the originating processes fall wholly within the sphere of the human, then must we suppose some instinctive logic, some sure intelligence working below consciousness, and somehow belonging to the race, or races, rather than to the individual. If this is difficult to conceive, or to understand, then there remains for us that which hardly surpasses it in wonder, whilst it falls short of it in mystery, namely, the idea of some ab extra supernatural power once operating on the human soul in its early youth—whether in the first creation, or in some subsequent early stages of remarkable development,—and now comparatively unknown.18

When we study language on the map, the difficulty of any mere development theory bringing one of these families from the other, or from a common original stock, is greatly increased. Whilst the Arian and Shemitic present, in the main, certain geographical allotments tolerably distinct, this Hamitic or Turanian conglomerate is found dispersed in the most irregular manner. It is everywhere in spots throughout the regions occupied by the more organic families; sometimes in sporadic clusters, as in parts of Western Asia, sometimes driven far off to the confines as is the case with the Finnic and Lap language, or, again, wedged into corners, like the Basque language in Spain, lying between two branches of the Arian, the Roman and the Celtic.

Had we found rocks lying in such strange ways, it would at once have been said: no slow depositing, no long attrition, no gradual elevation or depression, has done all this. They may have exerted a modifying influence; but they are not alone sufficient to account for what appears. Here has been some eruptive or explosive force, some ab extra power, whether from above or beneath, sudden and extraordinary in its effect, however generated in its causality, and however we may style that causality, whether natural or supernatural, simply inexplicable, or divine. Such eruptive forces are not confined to rocks and strata, or to sudden changes in material organization. They have place also in the spiritual world, in the movements of history, in the souls of men, in remarkable changes and formations of language. There are spiritual phenomena, if the term may be used, for which we cannot otherwise easily account. The evidence here of any such intervening power may be less striking, because less startling to the sense, but to the calm and reverent reason they may be even more marked than anything analagous to them in the outer world of matter. Great confusion has arisen in our theological reasoning from confining this word miraculous solely to some supposed breakage or deflection in the natural sphere.

To say the least, therefore, it is not irrational to carry this view into the history of man regarded as under the influence of supernatural, as well as natural, agencies. And thus here, as we contemplate the remarkable position of the early languages of the world, and especially of the three great families, some force from without, sudden, eruptive, breaking up a previous movement, extraordinary to say the least, would be the causal idea suggested, even if the Scripture had said nothing about it. A primitive formation has been left comparatively but little affected; all around it, east and west, are linguistic appearances presenting the most striking contrasts to the first, and yet the most remarkable family likenesses to each other; elsewhere, as a third class of elements show, the eruptive or flooding force has broken everything into fragments, and scattered them far and wide. Philology cannot account for it; but when we study the tenth and eleventh of Genesis in what they fairly imply as well as clearly express, we have revealed to us an ancient causation adequate, alone adequate, we may say, to the singular effect produced. The language of the account is general, as in other parts of Scripture where a mighty change is to be described, universal in its direct and collateral historical effect, without requiring us to maintain an absolute universality in the incipient movement. From some such general terms in the commencement of chapter 11 it might seem, indeed, as though every man of the human race was in this plane of Shinar, and directly engaged in the impious undertaking described. Taking, however, the two chapters together—and it is too much to say, as most commentators do, in the very face of the arrangement, that the eleventh chapter is wholly prior to the tenth—we must conclude that one line, at least, of the sons of Shem, that of Arphaxad, the ancestor of the Chaldæans, and of Eber, the more direct progenitor of the Hebrews, remained in the upper country of the Euphrates. It is fairly to be inferred, too, that the Joktan migration to Arabia had commenced, carrying with it the Shemitic element of speech to modify or transform the Cushite, whether introduced before or after it. Some of the sons of Japheth may have already set off, west and east, in their long wanderings (to Greece and India perhaps), whilst Sidon, a descendant of Ham, had even at this early day, founded a maritime settlement, and ventured upon the seas. It is not easy to understand why the narration of the tenth chapter should have had its place before that of the eleventh, unless a portion, at least, of the movements there recorded, had been antecedent in time. It is commonly said that the tenth is anticipatory in respect to what follows, but this is not altogether satisfactory. As the story of the greater scattering comes after the ethnological divisions in the order of narration, it may be consistently maintained that it was subsequent to some of them, at least, in the order of time, whilst the seeming universality of the language may be explained on the ground of the magnitude of the later event, and its world-wide effect in the human history. A close examination, however, shows that, even in the diction, this universality is not so strict as some interpretations would make it. After these earlier departures, as we may supply from chapter 10, it proceeds to say, “the whole earth (land country) was (yet) of one language and one speech.” It had not been broken up, though it may have begun to be affected by causes which would naturally produce changes of dialect. “And in their journeying,” or “as they journeyed onward (מִקֶדֶם), they found a plain in the land of Shinar.” “As they journeyed,” that is, as men journeyed onward, or migrated more and more. Who or how many they were is not said, and these indefinite pronouns give us no right to say that every man of the human race, all of Noachian kind, were in this plain of Shinar. There is the strongest proof to the contrary. We cannot believe that Noah was there, although he lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood, or that Shem was there, who lived one hundred and fifty years later, and even in the days of Abraham. The idea is abhorrent that one so highly blessed of God, and in “whose tents” God had promised “to dwell”—Shem, the Name, the preserver of the holy speech, and the direct antithesis of that false “name” which these bold rebels sought to make unto themselves—should have had any participation, even by his presence, in so unholy a proceeding. As little can we believe it of any of the line from which came Abraham, or even of their not remote consanguinèi, the Joktanite Arabians. The same feeling arises when we think of the pious fathers of Melchizedek, king of Salem, king of righteousness, and who had consecrated him a priest to El Elion, that Most High God of the Heavens (see Gen. 14:18), who is here so blasphemously defied.19 Who were they, then, that composed this strange assemblage on the plain of Shinar? A vast multitude doubtless, a majority of Noah’s descendants perhaps, yet still, as is most likely, a colluvies gentium, a gathering of the bad, the bold, the adventurous, from every family, but with the Hamitic character decidedly predominant.20 Nimrodian, perhaps, might they be called with more propriety, if we take the constant Jewish tradition that Nimrod was their leader in rebellion. The nobler sons of Ham are to be distinguished from these Babylonian Hamites. The founder of the Egyptian monarchy, and, perhaps, the Arabian Cushites, had in all probability gone to their respective settlements. The very name, Nimrod, shows a difference between them. It is not the name of a country, or of a family of descendants, like the others mentioned Gen. 10:8; a fact of which Maimonides takes notice (see marg. note, p. 349) when he calls attention to the manner in which Nimrod is mentioned irregularly, as it were, or out of the line, after the other sons of Cush had been disposed of. He was not, like them, a “father of a people,” a patriarch, or ancestor, but a bold adventurer, a “mighty hunter of men before the Lord,” or in defiance of the Lord, who gathered together, out of every people, those who were like himself, not to settle the world, but to prevent its peaceful settlement by engaging in bold and reckless enterprises of an opposite nature. He may be said to have represented the empire-founding, instead of the planting or colonizing, tendency. He was the postdiluvian Cain, and there would seem to be a significance not to be disregarded in the fact that here there is given to this rebellious multitude that same name, בְּנֵי הָאָדָם, “sons of men,” which, in its feminine form, is used Gen. 6:4 (בְּנוֹת הָאָדָם) to denote the godless in distinction from the more pious. The line here indicated, between the sons of God and the “sons of men,” was less distinct, perhaps, than that which was drawn between the Sethites and the Cainites, yet it still existed to some extent, making a division between the better branches of the Shemites, with some from both the other lines, and this vast rabble of the sensual and ungodly. The grammatical form of the name Nimrod (which is very unusual for such a purpose) shows that it had a popular, instead of a family, origin. It is the first person plural future jussive, נִמְרֹד, “come let us rebel.” It was the watchword of the impious leader, afterwards given to him as a title by his applauding followers: “Let us break Jehovah’s bands, let us cast his cords from us,” let us build a tower that shall reach Him in the Heavens.21

On this impious host of Nimrod, predominantly, although not solely, Hamitic, fell especially the scattering and confounding blow, like the bolts from heaven aimed at the rebellious Titans; and hence this rabble of tongues called Hamitic or Turanian, or these allophylic conglomerates which philologists find so remarkable as compared with the enduring unity of the Shemitic, and the diversified, yet unmistakable Arian relationship. These two were, doubtless, affected by the shock; one of them may have had much of its subsequent modification, if not its origin, from it; but on the Hamitic host fell the stone that ground them to powder. “For there22 Jehovah confounded the language of all the earth” (land or country). This Nimrodian Babel of tongues wrought more or less of confusion everywhere, making the universality in the effect rather than in the immediate causality—a view perfectly consistent with the soberest interpretation of the artless language of Holy Scripture.

The causative influence, we may believe, was primarily a spiritual one. It was a confounding not only of their purposes (מַחְשְׁבוֹת לֵב, Gen. 6:5)—thus introducing confusion, madness,23 and discord, into their camp—but also of their ordinary thinkings and conceivings, τῶν ἐνθυμήσεων καὶ ἐννοιῶν καρδίας, Heb. 4:12, “reaching to the dividing line of soul and spirit,” ψυχῆς τε καὶ πνεύματος, holding back the divine gift of reason, and thus introducing disorder into the sense and the utterance through a prior confusion in the spirit. It deranged their word-formations by a previous derangement of their thoughts.

The difficulty attending the mere outer view, here, arises from a fundamental error which may be found, even in acute treatises of philology. Words do not represent things, as outer existences merely, according to the common notion, but rather what we think about things. They are in truth symbols of our own inner world as affected by the outer world of things around us. They translate to us our own thoughts as well as help us to make them known to others. The animal has no such inner world, and therefore it is that he cannot use speech to represent it to himself or to other animals. This would be readily admitted in respect to words representative of thought alone; but it is true also of that large class that seem to stand directly for outward sensible things per se. Here, too, the word called the name represents only remotely the thing named, but nearly and primarily, some thinking, conceiving, or emotion, in our souls, connected with the thing, and giving rise to its name.24 As proper names are last of all, so these names of outward objects must have come after words denoting action or quality, and from which their own naming, unless supposed to be purely arbitrary, could alone have been derived. Originally they must have been all descriptive, that is, they had a meaning beyond their mere sign significance. In proportion as such primary meanings have faded out in modern languages, have words lost vividness and emotive power, though still remaining as a convenient classifying notation. Thus in early speech the names of animals, for example, were all descriptive. We find it so even now, as far as we can trace them in the significance of their roots. They invariably denote something which the animal does, or suffers, or is, or is supposed to do, to suffer, or to be—thus ever implying some judgment of the human mind respecting it; and tins corresponds to what is said in the Scripture of the animals being brought before Adam to see (לראות for Adam to see, judge, decide) what name should be given to each one. This name is ever taken from something more general, and the name of that from something more general still, and so back from the concrete to the more and more abstract, until we are lost in the mystery, and compelled to admit that there is something in ourselves, and in language, which it is not easy to understand. We may be sure, however, that in all these primary names of animals there was something descriptive, though in many it may have been long lost. In some cases it still shines dimly through the wear of time and usage, enabling us to infer it universally. Thus bird, we may be certain, means something more than bird, and dog than dog, even as fowl, fugel, vogel, still carries with it some faint image of flying, and chien, hund, κύων, canis (cano, canorus, קִינָה), suggests the clear, ringing, houndlike sound that denoted the animal in the earliest Arian speech.25 Connected with this there is another thought that has importance here. The first impression is that nouns, or the names of things, must be older in language than verbs. Examination, however, shows just the contrary as a fact, and then we see that it must be so, if names are not arbitrary, but ever imply some action or quality of the thing, and so an antecedent naming of that action or passion. But not to pursue this farther, it is enough to show that the spring of language is in the thought, the conceiving, the affection, as the source of names for things, and for the relations of things. Confusion here is confusion throughout, and this would be much more operative in a multitude thus affected than in an individual. Break up the community of thought and the community of language is broken up, or begins to break up along with it. It affects not only the matter but the form, the soul, the grammatical structure.26 Going still deeper, it changes the mode of lexical derivation, or the process through which secondary senses (as they exist in almost all abstract words) come from the primary—the inward etymologies, as they may be called, which are of more importance in determining the affinities of languages than the outward phonetic etymologies on which some philologists almost exclusively insist, and which are so easily lost—all the more easily and rapidly when the more spiritual bonds are loosed. So, on the other hand, the maintaining secure against mutation the higher ideas that dwell in a language, especially its religious ideas, is most conservative both of its matter and form. Thus may we account, in some degree, for the way in which the Shemitic endured the shock that left all around it those masses of fragments which philologists call the Hamitic or Turanian. The great name of God was in it in fulfilment of the promise. Those other remarkable appellations of Deity, El, Allah, Eloah, Elohim, Adonai, El Shaddai, El Elion, El Olam, παντοκράτωρ, ὕψιστος, ἀιώνιος, have been to it like a rock of ages, giving security to its other religious ideas, whilst these again have entered extensively into its proper names, its common nouns and verbs, conserving it against the corruption and degeneracy of those who spoke it, and giving even to its Arabic and Syriac branches a holy and religious aspect beyond anything presented in any ancient or modern tongue. Well and worthily have the Jewish Rabbis called it לשון הקודש, the holy tongue. Truly it is so, whether we regard it as the original Noachian speech, or something later preserved entire from the wreck of the Babel confusion.27

How this extraordinary breaking up of language took place we may not easily know, though maintaining its possibility, and its strong probability, as a fact, aside from the express Scriptural declaration. There is no department of human inquiry in which we so soon come to the mysterious and inexplicable as in that of language. Some have maintained its onomatopic origin, as has been lately done in a very clear and able treatise by Prof. Whitney. If this, however, is confined to vocal resemblances in the names of sounds themselves, it accounts for only an exceedingly small number of words; if carried farther, to supposed analogies between the names of certain acts, or efforts, and the effort of the organs in pronouncing them, it takes in a very few more; beyond this it would be that idea of some inherent fitness in sounds which has been already considered in the note, p. 377, and to which the name onomatopic may be given in its widest sense; though then, instead of being the easiest, it would be the least explicable of all. So the philologist may endeavor to find the beginning of speech, especially in the names of animals, in the imitation of animal sounds; or he may absurdly trace it to a conventional naming, overlooking the truth that for the initiation of such a proceeding language itself is required—or he may deduce it from accident, or, give him time enough—and a past eternity is very long—he may fancy it coming out of inarticulate or merely interjectional sounds, making its random “natural selections,” until, after ages of chaos, a light inexplicable begins to gleam, an intelligence somehow enters into the process, and thus, at last, language comes into form, as a vehicle of rational, that is, of logical28 thought. But for human minds, λόγος, speech, and logos, reason, are one; and the serious thinker, who cannot separate them, takes but a few steps in this mysterious search before he is forced, either to acknowledge something superhuman, or to admit that in the birth and growth of language, the instrument of all reasoning, there must be some strange generic intelligence, if such a thing can be conceived, that we utterly fail to discover in the individual logic. In other words, men as a race, or races, do what the individual singly never does, something of which he is wholly unconscious, and which he cannot understand. The thought of divine intervention is the less strange; it presents the less difficulty, and is, therefore, the more rational. We are not to be unnecessarily introducing a divine agency into the world’s drama, but here, surely, it is a nodus vindice dignus, a knot which a divine intelligence can alone unbind. There is not in all nature anything like that spiritual mystery which meets us on the very threshold of an inquiry into the origin and development of human speech.

Leaving these more abstruse regions, and descending again to the clearer field of inductive observation, there still meet us those geographical difficulties to which some attention has already been given as inexplicable on any theory of gradual or mutual development. Allusion was before made to the appearances presented by those broken allophylic tongues to which has been given the common name Turanian—showing themselves among the other families, sometimes in contiguous beds, and then again as lying far away and far apart in space, even as they indicate a remote location in time. In such cases everything indicates the sudden projection of an early people, and of an early speech, entire. Succeeding waves of migration have pressed upon their shores, but changed no feature of their language. That seems to have had its form fixed in the beginning, and to defy mutation. Its isolated state, though surrounded by hostile elements, has only rendered it more unyielding in this respect. It will perish rather than change into anything else. There may be pointed out another geographical anomaly on a larger scale, and only explicable, too, on the ground of some early intervention to change the course of what might otherwise have been the ordinary historical development. A little less than a century ago, the learned began to perceive a striking resemblance between the Greek and the ancient language of India; a resemblance both in matter and form. They are both of the Arian or Indo-Germanic family, and yet we have no right to say that one has been derived from the other. From a period transcending all history they have been widely parted, territorially, from each other. They stood in the days of Alexander as distinctly separate as at any time before or after. In all the antecedent period there is no record or tradition of any colonizing on either side, of any military expedition, of any commercial or literary intercourse, that could have produced any assimilating effect. All this time, and for long after, there lay directly between them a territory and a people, or peoples, having nothing, socially or politically, in common with either, and speaking a language, of all others, the most directly foreign to both, or to any common language of which they both could be considered as branches. From Southern Arabia to Northern Syria, or the head waters of the Euphrates nearly, there was the continuous strip of the Shemitic, unbroken and unaffected during all that time. This, as has before been remarked, was, and is, the most tenacious and enduring of all linguistic families. It is still a wide living speech, although Greek and Sanscrit have both died, and been embalmed in their common and Sacred literature, and although this parting language, until comparatively modern times, had no literature except the scanty and most secluded Biblical writings. A branch of the Shemitic, if we may not rather call it the Shemitic itself, continuous and unchanged, is still living, strong and copious. Notwithstanding the addition of many new words, and many new senses that have attached themselves to the old, the Bedouin still talks in a manner that would have been recognized as familiar in the days of Abraham. Could we suppose the patriarch now listening to it, he would hear some strange words mingled with the great body of its earliest roots, and some few later forms, but in its pronouns, its prepositions, its tenses, its conjugations, its logical and rhetorical particles, in the nerves and sinews as well as in the bones of the language, it would strike him as substantially the same kind of talk that had passed between him and his sons Isaac and Ishmael.29 This most enduring ancient speech has suffered nothing that could be called development from anything on either side of it; and there has been no development across it from one parted shore to the other. Such theories as that of Bunsen, by which he gets Khamism out of Sinism, and Semism out of Khamism, and so on, would never explain this. The difficulty clears up somewhat if we bring in the extraordinary, and suppose some early supernatural cleaving and transformation, leaving one primitive type standing in its place, another, greatly changed, to be carried east and west by one people suddenly parted, and meeting again historically after ages of separation, whilst another type, broken into fragments, is dispersed far and wide to remote portions of the earth. This may be called cutting or breaking the knot, rather than untying, but even if the Bible had been silent, it is better than any hypothesis called natural, yet found to be wholly inadequate to explain the extraordinary phenomena to which it is applied. It is true, give a theorist time enough, and hypothetical conditions enough, and he may seem to develop almost anything out of anything else. Grant him enough of “natural selections,” and he may show us how to make worlds and languages by producing, at last, seeming congruities, falling into place after infinite incongruities. But then, such a method of proceeding, supposed to be inherent in the nature of things, cannot stop (if it goes right on without cycles) until it has abolished all things seemingly incongruous or extraordinary, and introduced a perfect level of congruity everywhere, in the physical, social, and philological world. Only take time enough, or rather suppose, as some do, a past eternity of such working, and the only conceivable result is a perfect sameness; all disorders must long since have been gone, all species must have become one, and that the highest or the lowest, all languages must have become one, and that the best or the poorest—something rising in its linguistic architecture far above the Greek and Sanscrit, or sinking in its looseness below anything called Turanian or Sinitic. The extraordinary, now and then, would be not only the easier conception, but an actual relief from the weariness of such a physical monotony.

But we have a more sure word of testimony. The great Bible-fact for the believer is, that, in order to prevent a very evil development of humanity, at a very early day, God interfered with men and confounded their language. There is nothing irrational in this if we believe in a God at all. The manner of doing it is not told us. What is said in Gen. 11 may not wholly explain the linguistic phenomena so early presented, and even now so remarkable; but it may be safely affirmed that far greater difficulties oppose themselves to any other solution that has been, or may yet be offered.—T. L.]


10[Gen 11:1.—אַרְפַּכְשָׁד. Arphaxad,—pronunciation derived from the LXX., Αρφαξαδ; according to the Hebrew pointing, Arpakshad. It is a compound, evidently, of which the principal part is כשד, from which the later כשדים, Chaldæans. It would appear, on these accounts, to be the name of a people transferred to their ancestor, as in many other cases. Among the early nations names were not fixed, as they are with us in modern times. The birth name was changed for something else—some deed the man had done, or some land he had settled, and that becomes his appellation in history. Sometimes the early personal name is given to the country, and then comes back in a changed form as a designation of the ancestor. Thus Josephus speaks of the five primitive “Shemitic people, the Elamites (or Persians), the Assyrians, the Aramites (or Syrians), the Lydians (from Lud), and the Arphaxadites, now called Chaldæans.”—T. L.]

11[Gen 11:14.—עֵבֶר. The line of Shem in Arphaxad seems to have remained along time after the flood in the upper country; and it may be doubted whether this branch of the Shemites, from whom Abraham was directly descended, were with the great multitude of the human race in the plain of Shinar, or had much, if any thing, to do with building the tower of Babel (see remarks of Lange, p. 367). Eber’s descendants came over the river, and began the first migrations to the south. The word עבר may mean over in respect to either side, and so it might be applied to one that went over, or to one that remained. This passing over being a memorable event, the naming would come very naturally from it, whether as given to the ancestor who stayed, or to the descendants who left the old country. Each side would be transeuphratensian to the other, and so truly עִבְרִים עִבְרִי, or Hebrews. It would be very much as we speak, or used to speak, of the old countries as transatlantic, on the other side of, or over the Atlantic; the Hebrew עבר having every appearance of being etymologically the same with the Greek ὑπέρ, German über, and our Saxon over. Compare Gen. 14:13, where אַבְרָם הָעִבְרִי, Abram the Hebrew, is rendered ’Αβρὰμ ὁ περάτης, Abram the passenger.—T. L.]

12[Gen 11:20.—שְׂרוּג). Some would resort to the primary sense of שרג or סרג to get the meaning entangled (verwickkelter), to make it correspond to some other derivations which are fancied here as denoting either the advance, or the retarding, of this early Shemitic movement. But besides the faintness and uncertainty of such derivations, the names they seem to indicate could only have been given long afterwards, when the facts on which they are supposed to be grounded had acquired a historical importance. Gesenius would render it palmes, a young vine-shoot (from שרג, to wind, twist). No name-giving could be more natural and easy than this. Compare שָׂרִוֹגִים, Gen. 40:10, 12; Joel 1:7; and what is said in the blessing of Joseph, Gen. 49:22, פֹּרָת יוֹסֵף בֵּן פֹּרָת, fruitfulness Joseph, son of fruitfulness—our translation, a very fruitful bough.—T. L.]

13[Gen 11:29.—יִסְכָּה, Iscah. The Jewish interpreters, generally, say that Iscah and Sarah were the same. Thus Rashi—“Iscah, that is, Sarah, so called because she was a seeress (סוכה) by the Holy Spirit, and because all gazed upon her beauty,” for which he refers to Gen. 12:14. The root סכה (see, gaze upon) is quite common in the Syriac, the oldest branch of the Shemitic, though it does not come in the Hebrew. It is revived, and becomes frequent, in the Rabbinical. It is equivalent to the Hebrew חוֹזֶה, Prophet or Seer. Aben Ezra has the same interpretation.—T. L.]

14[Thus the Shemitic greatly excels in the number of what are called its conjugations, or ways of modifying the primary sense of the verb. Otherwise its form may be characterized as the very grandeur of simplicity, suggesting the comparison of the majestic palm, whilst the Greek and Sanscrit may be likened to the branching oak. And so, again, in some of its aspects, the Shemitic presents a surprising bareness. In the Hebrew and Syriac, for example, there is the least show, or rather, only the rudimentary appearance of any optative or subjunctive modality, that is, in outward modal form, since all the subjective states may be clearly and effectively expressed by particles, or in some other way. It is the same, even now, in the Arabic, only that this embryotic appearance is a little more brought out. Three thousand years, and, within the last third of that time, a most copious use (philosophic, scientific, and commercial, as well as colloquial), have given it nothing, in this respect, that can be called structural growth, nothing that can be regarded as an approach to the exuberant forms of modality to be found in the Greek and Latin even in their earliest stages. It has kept to the mould in which it was first run. So also in the expression of time, the Shemitic still preserves its rigidness. It keeps its two tenses unmodified in form, though it has ways of denoting all varieties of time, relative or absolute, that any other language can express. Compare it with the Greek and Sanscrit copiousness of temporal forms; how early born are they, and how fruitful, in the one case, how unyielding, how stubbornly barren, we may say, in the other! Surely, one who carefully considers such phenomena as these, must admit that there is in the birth and perpetuity of language some other power—either as favoring or resisting—than that of mutual development, or reciprocal change, however long the periods that may be assumed for it as a convenience to certain theories.—T. L.]

15[This is said more especially in reference to the form, or what may be called the soul of each language respectively. Of the matter, or vocalized material, as it may be styled, there is a good deal that is common. There are many roots in the Arian that are evidently the same with the Shemitic, whether coming from a common original stock of sounds, or from a later borrowing from each other. Words pass from one language to another, or original vocal utterances are broken up, in an immense variety of ways; but the structural forms are unyielding. In this resides the characterizing principle of perpetuity; so that it is no paradox to affirm a generic identity in language, in which the greater part, or even all the articulated sounds had been changed, or have given place to others. When we consider the great facility of mere phonetic changes, through cognate letters or those of the same organ, through transition letters, by whose intervention there is a passage from one family into another (as i and y make a transition from the dentals to the gutturals, and w or v from the gutturals to the labials), or through nasal combinations, such as ng, nd, mb, which, on dissolution, may carry the syllable in the new direction of either element with all its affinities, thus making, as it were, a bridge between them—when we bear in mind how sounds wear out in the beginning or at the end of words, entirely disappearing, or easily admitting in their attenuated state the substitution of others belonging to a different organ, or how, in the middle of words, the compression of syllables bringing together harsh combinations, crushes out letters in some cases (especially if they be gutturals), or introduces a new element demanded by euphony—we cease to wonder at the great variety and extent of vocal changes. It is seen how in various ways any one letter almost, or syllabic sound, may pass into almost any other, and how the same word, as traced through its phonetic changes, presents an appearance in one language that neither the eye nor the ear would recognize in another. To take one example that may stand for an illustration of some of the most important of such changes, who, by the sight or sound alone, or by any outward marks, would recognize the Latin dies in the French jour, or the English tear (teaghr, δάκρυ) in the Latin lacr, lacrima, or the English head in the Latin caput and the Greek κεφαλή, though nothing can be more certain than their relationship as traced by the phonetic laws. The real wonder is that the changes in this department have not been greater than they are found to be. It is the soul of language, the unyielding rigidity of its form, that, by its association, prevents the utter dissolution and mutation of the material. Its conservatism, in this respect, is shown in, the case of languages that are merely spoken. It has its most complete effect in those that have a written and printed literature.—T. L.]

16[The arrangement, in the mind, of things to be named, belongs to the formation of language, as much as the naming, if it may not rather he said to be the most important part of the naming itself. Things, thus regarded, may be divided into three general classes: 1. Outward sensible objects; 2. actions, qualities, etc., as the ground of their naming, and themselves, therefore, demanding an antecedent naming; 3. mental acts and states, thoughts, thinkings, emotions, etc., regarded as wholly spiritual. In respect to the first, it may, indeed, be said that nature makes the classification, but the mind must recognize it, more or less correctly, before it can give the names. The second lies in both departments; since acts (doings, sufferings) must be the source whence direct names are drawn for the first, and figures, pictures, or spiritual representatives, for the third, as is shown in that large class of words that are said to have secondary meanings, or abstract ideas denoted by something material or sensible in the root. The third classification is wholly spiritual or within, though its namings are thus drawn from without. We find all this work done for us when we are born. The earliest languages have it as vividly as the latest, more vividly, we may say, if not carried to so wide an extent in the classification of outward objects, more profound, as analysis would show, in the distinctions of moral and æsthetical ideas. Whence came it? We must ascend to the very taproot of humanity to find an answer, if we are not to seek still farther in some divine teaching or inspiration. The phenomena lie ever before us; their commonness should not diminish our wonder at the mystery they present.—T. L.]

17[We may thank God that some of the noblest languages (Greek, Hebrew, Sanscrit, Latin) died long ago, or in their comparative youth. They have thus been embalmed, preserved from decay, made immortal, ever young,—their expressive words and forms still remaining as a reserve store for the highest philosophical, theological, and even scientific use. They are called “the dead languages;” but that which some would make an objection to what has long and justly been deemed their place in education, is the very ground of their excellence.—T. L.]

18[It is not extravagant to suppose something like this still lying at the ground of that mysterious process which we witness without wonder, because so common,—the rapid acquisition of language by the infant mind. It is not the mere learning to speak the names of outward, sensible, individual things—there is nothing much more strange in that than in teaching a parrot to talk,—but the quick seizing of those hidden relations of things, or rather of thought about things (ideas of the soul’s own with which it clothes things), and which it afterwards tasks all our outward logic to explain. How rapidly does this infant mind adapt words, not merely to chairs and tables, but to the relational notions of number, case, substance, attribute, qualifying degree, subjective modality, time relative and absolute, time as past, present, and future, or time as continuous and eventual, knowing nothing indeed of these as technical names, but grasping immediately the ideas, and seeing, with such amazing quickness, the adaptability to them of certain forms of expression, a mere termination, perhaps, or the faintest inflection, and that, too, with no outward imitative indices from the sense, such as may aid in the learning of the names of mere sensible objects. This indeed is wonderful, however common it may be. We never do it but once. All other acquisition of languages, in adult years, is by a process of memory, comparison, and conscious reasoning—in other words, a strictly scientific process, however certain abbreviations of it may be called the learning of a foreign tongue by “the method of nature” and of infancy. Something in the race analogous to this process in the individual infant soul, may be, not irrationally, supposed to have characterized the earliest human history of language. The failure of every system of artificial language, though attempted by the most philosophical minds, aided by the highest culture, shows that neither convention nor imitation had anything to do with its origin.—T. L.]

19[Thus Rashi interprets their הָבָה, “Go to, now let us climb the firmament and make war upon the most High.” Melchizedek and his forefathers were, in all probability, Canaanites. There might be piety and faith even among these, as is instanced, afterwards, and in a time of still greater corruption, in the case of Rahab, who was a direct ancestress of our Lord! What Paul says (Heb. 7:3) of Melchizedek’s being ἀπάτωρ and ἀμήτωρ, “without father and without mother,” is not intended to deny his having any earthly lineage.—T. L.]

20[The opinion that the men in the plain of Shinar were not the whole human race, but predominantly Hamites, or followers of Nimrod, is maintained by Augustine, and, among modern authorities, by Luther and Calvin. See also the account of JOSEPHUS (“Ant.” i. 4). who makes Nimrod the great leader of the whole rebellious movement.—T. L.]

21[It was a thought exceedingly wicked, yet having in it a kind of terrific sublimity. Neither could the idea of reaching the heavens, or sky, be called irrational, or absurd, however unscientific. They reasoned inductively, Baconianly, we may say, from sense and observation. Their limited experience was not against it. It showed a vast ambition. It was not an undertaking of savages, but of men possessed with the idea of somehow getting above nature, and having much of that spirit which, even at the present day, characterizes some kinds of scientific boasting (see remarks, p. 355). It was not the success merely of the undertaking (from which we are yet as far as ever), but the impious thought, that God meant to confound, and to strike down, whenever it arose in the minds of men. History is full of overthrown Babels; and it is still to be tested whether our excessive modern boasting about what is going to be achieved by science, progress, and democracy, will form an exceptive case.—T. L.]

22[כִּי שָׁם; for there. It may denote fact or circumstance as well as place. For there—in that event, or in that confusion. Compare Ps. 133:3, where this particle, שָׁם, is used in just the same way to denote the opposite condition of brotherly love, and the opposite effect: כִּי שָׁם צִוֶּה יְהוָֹה, “for there Jehovah commanded the blessing, even life forever more;” not in “Mount Hermon,” or “the mountains of Zion,” merely, but as belonging to this holy affection of brotherly love. Compare 1 John 3:14.—T. L.]

23 [For a notable example of this, see 2 Chron. 20:23, where the hosts of Ammon, of Moab, and of Mount Seir, who rose up against Jehoshaphat, are suddenly turned against each other. Profane history records such events as taking place, now and then, in great armies; cases of sudden and irretrievable confusion, giving rise to hostility as well as flight. They are called panics, whether the term means simply universal disorder, or what was sometimes called “the wrath of Pan” (Πανὸς ὀργή, see EURIP. “Medea,” 1169), bringing madness upon an individual or a multitude; it denotes something inexplicable, even if we refuse to call it supernatural. See POLYÆNUS: De Strateg., Gen 1; also a very striking passage in the “Odyssey,” xx. 346, which shows, at all events, the common belief in such sudden madness falling upon multitudes of men, whatever may be the explanation of it:

μνηστῆρσι δὲ Παλλὰς ’Αθήνη

ἄσβεστον γέλω ὦρσε παρέπλαγξεν δὲ νόημα.

Among the suitors Pallas roused

Wild laughter irrepressible, and made

Their mind to wander far.

Even where there is nothing startling to the sense, how many examples are there—they can be cited even from very modern times—where the minds of assemblies, composed sometimes of those who claim to be most shrewd and intelligent, seem strangely confounded, and, without reason, and against all apparent motive, they do the very thing which is the destruction of all their schemes. They seem seized with a sudden fatuity, and act in a manner which is afterwards unaccountable to themselves. We may explain it as we will; but so strong is the conviction of an ab extra power somehow operating in such cases, that it has passed into one of the most common of proverbs, quos Deus vult perdere prius dementat—“those whom God would destroy, he first makes mad.”—T. L.]

24 [The first thing denoted in outward language must have been something purely inward; a conscious state of soul, a thought or an emotion, which demanded an outward sign in some articulated sound representing it, not arbitrarily, nor accidentally, but by a conscious fitness for it, such as other sounds do not possess, and of which there can no more be given an explanation than of the correspondence between a thought, or an emotion, and an outward look. It is as real, and, at the same time, as inexplicable, as the harmony which is felt to have place between a feeling, or an idea, and a musical modulation. From the primary roots representing these most interior states, and which must be comparatively few in number, comes the next order of names, namely, those of qualities and actions of outward things regarded as affecting us. From these, in the third place, come the names of outward things themselves, as having such qualities or actions, and as denoted by them. Later, indeed, though still very early, there arise metaphorical words, or words derived from the second and third classes, with secondary tropical senses intended to represent mental states as pictured in some outward thing, scene, or act; but these do not belong to the prime elements of speech, which must begin with radical sounds supposed to represent something inward by a real or imagined fitness. That there is some such primary fitness seems to be assumed by some of the best philological writers, as by Kaulen in his Sprachverwirrung, and William Von Humboldt, in his work on the Kawi language, although they are unable to explain it. It is not likely that philology will ever penetrate the mystery. The great argument, however, for the reality of such a correspondence between articulated sound and thought, is, that, on the reverse theory, language is arbitrary throughout, which we cannot believe it to be. The denial brings more difficulty than the assumption, however inexplicable the latter may be.

On this deeper psychology of language we have a hint, it may be reverently said, in what is told us, 1 Cor. 14., concerning the mysterious “gift of tongues.” It teaches us an important fact, though revealing nothing of its nature or mode. Although miraculous, it must be founded on something in the essential human spiritual constitution. There was a real language here. It is a profane trifling with a most sacred matter to treat it as a mere thaumaturgic babble, designed only to astonish or confound the unbelieving beholders. It was the true outward expression of an elevated inward state. The words uttered must have been not only articulate (that is, formod of vowels and consonants) but truly representative. They were none of them ἄφωνοι (Gen 11:10), or mere φθογγοί, sounds, or noises. They had a real δύναμις τῆς φωνῆς (Gen 11:11), a true “power of voice,” and this could be nothing else than an inherent fitness in the utterance to represent the entranced state, not generally, merely, but in its diversities of ecstatic idea or emotion. They were not understood by the hearers, because, in their ordinary state, there was nothing within them corresponding to it. Even the utterers could not translate it into the common logical language of the νοῦς (Gen 11:14), or understanding. They were spoken ἐν πνεύματι, in the spirit, and only in the spirit could they be understood, like the words that Paul heard in his entranced state, “whether in the body, or out of the body, he could not tell.” Paul certainly does not mean to deny, or disparage, the greatness of the spiritual gift in what he says, Gen 11:19, but only to set forth the greater outward usefulness of the prophetic charisma. “I thank God,” he says (Gen 11:18) “I speak with tongues more than you all.” He was often in the state that demanded this language to express itself to itself. In respect to the connection of this peculiar case with the general argument, the analogy holds thus far, namely, that these ecstatic utterances were real representative words. They represented an inward spiritual state of thought, or emotion, or both, from a real inherent fitness to do so. We may, therefore, rationally conclude that a similar correspondence between words and ideas was at the beginning of all human speech. Had man remained spiritual, this connection would have continued as something intuitively perceived, and leading ever to a right application of articulate sounds to the things or acts signified, as it seems to have guided the first humanity in the naming of animals from some spiritual effect their appearance produced. This primitive gift or faculty of intuition became darkened by sin, sensuality, and earthliness turning the mind outward, and thus tending, more and more, to make words mere arbitrary signs. With all this, there is evidence that in the earliest speech of men there was more of vividness, more of a conscious living connection between words and that which they signified, than afterwards existed when languages became more copious and more mixed. In this way may we suppose that the early roots, though comparatively few in number, had more of a self-interpreting power, and that, in proportion as this continued, there was the greater security against the changes and diversities which a lower spiritual state must necessarily bring into language. A total loss of it among this rebellious Hamitic host may have led to a more rapid confounding of words and forms, and, of consequence, a greater ruin of language than ever came from any other event in human history. There are examples enough to show how soon the best language becomes a jargon in a community of very bad men, such as thieves and evil adventurers. Here was a similar case, as we may conceive it, only on a vastly larger scale.—T. L.]

25[The name given to an animal could never, of course, be a full description. It is the selection of some predominant trait, action, or habit, as the distinguishing or naming feature. This may vary among different people. In one tongue the same animal may be denoted by his color, if it has something peculiar, in another by his manner of movement, in another by a burrowing property, or by his method of seizing his prey. These different conceivings may give rise to different names; and yet if the actions so represented by these names have the same or similar verbal roots they may be indicative of a remoter unity.—T. L.]

26[If our modes of conceiving individual sensible objects have such an effect upon language, much more important, in this respect, are the more abstract conceptions, such as those of time, relative or absolute. The conserving power thus arising may receive an illustration from the scanty, yet most tenacious, Shemitic tenses, as compared with the Greek. In the Hebrew, time is conceived of as reckoned from a moving present, making all that comes after it, future, although it may be past to the absolute present of the narrator or describer, and all before it, past. It need not be said how much more of a subjective character this imparts to the language, especially in its poetry. It has had, besides, the effect of giving a peculiar form to the two tenses, and of making these, deficient as they may seem in number, denote all the varieties of time that are expressed in other languages, but in a more graphic manner. Whilst dispensing with an absolute present form, which would make it fixed and rigid, it has a flowing presence which may become absolute whenever the narration or description demands it. In the Indo-Germanic tongues, on the other hand, there is a fixed present and a fixed form for it, which will not allow a departure from the absolute time, except as sometimes implied in the assumption of a poetical style. Hence a much greater number of tense forms are demanded, not only for the past, present, and future, simply, but for a past and future to the past and future respectively, besides an indefinite or aorist form. Thus there is a wide machinery performing these offices—accurately, indeed, though with little more precision than is found in the Shemitic—whilst there is a loss of pictorial and dramatic power. There is no time, relative, or absolute, denoted by the Greek tense forms, that may not, in some way, be expressed in the Arabic; whilst the manner in which the latter shifts its present, as we may say, by hanging it on a particle, or making it depend upon its place before or after, gives a greater vividness of narration. It is astonishing how such scantiness of mode and tense escapes confusion and ambiguity; and yet there is a comparative test of this which is conclusive. The Arabic is written and read without anything like capital letters or italics, without any grammatical or logical punctuation, of any kind, making any division of paragraphs, sentences, or clauses. From the beginning of a book to the end, there are none of these helps to relieve deficiencies of expression, whether the result of carelessness, or coming from unavoidable looseness in the language. In English this could not be done. Without such outward helps, the most accurate writer, take he ever so much pains, would be full of grammatical constructions that might be taken in different ways, and not a few unsolvable logical ambiguities.—T. L.]

27[This is on the supposition that the Shemitic (for any difference here between the earliest Hebrew, Arabic, and Syriac, is of little consequence) was the primitive Noachian speech that came out of the ark. The best argument for it is that there is no good argument to the contrary. If no other has any better claim on inward philological grounds, the Bible history greatly favors the idea, to say the least, that this language of the ark continued the purest in the line of Shem. Kaulen, however, in his Sprachverwirrung zu Babel, presents a philological argument that certainly seems to have weight, though, in itself, it may not be deemed conclusive. He insists upon the fact that throughout this family, the most important modifications of the verbal idea are made by vowel changes in the root itself, and not merely by additions more or less loosely made to a fixed root, growing only by agglutination. Thus from one root, k-t-l (as written without vowels), we have katal, katel, kotel, katol, katul, kittel, kattel, kuttal, ktal, ktel, ktol, etc., all presenting distinct though varying ideas. The modification of the idea is in the root, not attached to it, as in the Indo-Germanic languages, by a modal or tense letter or syllable, taken from something without. The author connects this with a view he maintains, that the vowels, as distinct from the consonants, represent the more spiritual element in language. For the argument in its detail the reader is referred to the very able work above named, p. 73.—T. L.]

28[See the distinction that Plato makes in the Dialogue de Legibus, p. 895, D, between the thing, its spiritual word or λόγος (which is, in fact, the reason of the thing, or that which makes it what it is for the mind, its constituting idea), and the ὄνομα, the vocal name representative of the spiritual word itself.—T. L.]

29[This would especially be the case in respect to subjects falling into the Scriptural or Koranic style. In Reckendorf’s Hebrew translation of the Koran (Leip., 1857), there are, sometimes, whole verses in which the Arabic and Hebrew are almost wholly identical, both in the roots and in the forms.—T. L.]

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

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bible Hub
Revelation 22
Top of Page
Top of Page