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Genesis 1:16-18

Context
1:16 God made two great lights 1  – the greater light to rule over the day and the lesser light to rule over the night. He made the stars also. 2  1:17 God placed the lights 3  in the expanse of the sky to shine on the earth, 1:18 to preside over the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. 4  God saw that it was good.

1 sn Two great lights. The text goes to great length to discuss the creation of these lights, suggesting that the subject was very important to the ancients. Since these “lights” were considered deities in the ancient world, the section serves as a strong polemic (see G. Hasel, “The Polemical Nature of the Genesis Cosmology,” EvQ 46 [1974]: 81-102). The Book of Genesis is affirming they are created entities, not deities. To underscore this the text does not even give them names. If used here, the usual names for the sun and moon [Shemesh and Yarih, respectively] might have carried pagan connotations, so they are simply described as greater and lesser lights. Moreover, they serve in the capacity that God gives them, which would not be the normal function the pagans ascribed to them. They merely divide, govern, and give light in God’s creation.

2 tn Heb “and the stars.” Now the term “stars” is added as a third object of the verb “made.” Perhaps the language is phenomenological, meaning that the stars appeared in the sky from this time forward.

3 tn Heb “them”; the referent (the lights mentioned in the preceding verses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

4 sn In days one to three there is a naming by God; in days five and six there is a blessing by God. But on day four there is neither. It could be a mere stylistic variation. But it could also be a deliberate design to avoid naming “sun” and “moon” or promoting them beyond what they are, things that God made to serve in his creation.



TIP #08: Use the Strong Number links to learn about the original Hebrew and Greek text. [ALL]
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