“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light. God saw that the light was good. God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness he called night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”
This first line of the first chapter of the first book of the Torah, Genesis, the beginnings, reminds us that we are all created. This fifth century BCE priestly source talks about a clear structure to the world. There is poetry in this story as each day begins with ‘And God said,’ the powerful creative God speaks and it happens, after which it was good. The ‘logos’ theology will develop from this idea. God lights up the dark void of waters. From the beginning we have a flat earth concept of a lighted heaven as above and a dark watery earth as down here. Opposition is everywhere, light and darkness, day and night, water and earth.
“And God said, ‘Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome sky or heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.”
The dome separates earth from heaven or the skies. The further evolution of life on earth appears at each mythical day.
“And God said, ‘Let the waters under the sky or heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so. God called the dry land earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, ‘let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.’ And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.”
Seeds are very important as the source of future life. The world, and everything in it, is wonderful with a very ecological biological evolutionary approach to life. In this evolutionary creation mythical week story, first water, then earth emerge from the nothingness or empty abyss, followed by vegetation and later by animals, and then finally humans.
“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.”
The heavenly lights were the sun for the day and the moon for the night. This seven day week idea can be traced to the Babylonians and their lunar speculation of a month, about 700 BCE. The establishment of the seven day week as opposed to a five or ten day week did not dominate until late in the fourth century BCE. The idea of seven days and seven nights is a difficult concept since the sun and the moon do not fall or set as envisioned by these ancient authors from 2500 year ago. Thus a literal day and night is impossible, because this is a human perspective, but humans only appear on the sixth day.
“And God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.’ So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’ And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.”
After vegetation appeared, the growth of living animals on land, sea, and air developed. Organic biological life began to expand with the various species of animals. In fact, God speaks to them as if they could hear. Living creatures seem to have more value than vegetation.
“And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.’ And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.”
Interesting enough, there is not a special day for the large animals, whether they are domestic or wild. Instead, they are bunched in with the creation of humans as if they are somehow related.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them. Male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”
At the pinnacle of creation, God created humans in his image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them. Both men and women were created equal in God’s image. Thus, we humans are in charge of this earth to dominate all that lives here. All is available as our food. Every society has its own creation story. This story may have some resemblance to ancient Babylonian creation stories. Anyway, no one was there to record this activity and man does not appear on earth until nearly 50,000-100,000 years ago, while the earth is millions of years old.
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and their entire multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.”
The work of creation was done. Now humans must continue it as co-creators. As the institution of the Sabbath was common to these authors, they made God rest on the seventh day, just like themselves.