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Thursday, August 28, 2008

K-D: Genesis Commentary Part 5

Genesis 1:20-23

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
The Fifth Day. - "God said: Let the waters swarm with swarms, with living beings, and let birds fly above the earth in the face (the front, i.e., the side turned towards the earth) of the firmament." yishªrªtsuw (OT:8317) and yª`owpeep (OT:5774) are imperative. Earlier translators, on the contrary, have rendered the latter as a relative clause, after the peteina' (NT:4071) peto'mena (NT:4072) of the LXX, "and with birds that fly;" thus making the birds to spring out of the water, in opposition to Ge 2:19. Even with regard to the element out of which the water animals were created the text is silent; for the assertion that shrts (OT:8317) is to be understood "with a causative colouring" is erroneous, and is not sustained by Ex 8:3 or Ps 105:30. The construction with the accusative is common to all verbs of multitude. sherets (OT:8318) and shaarats (OT:8317), to creep and swarm, is applied, "without regard to size, to those animals which congregate together in great numbers, and move about among one another." chayaah (OT:2416) nepesh (OT:5315), anima viva, living soul, animated beings (vid., Ge 2:7), is in apposition to sherets (OT:8318), "swarms consisting of living beings."

The expression applies not only to fishes, but to all water animals from the greatest to the least, including reptiles, etc. In carrying out His word, God created (v. 21) the great "tanninim," - lit., the long-stretched, from taanan, to stretch-whales, crocodiles, and other sea-monsters; and "all moving living beings with which the waters swarm after their kind, and all (every) winged fowl after its kind." That the water animals and birds of every kind were created on the same day, and before the land animals, cannot be explained on the ground assigned by early writers, that there is a similarity between the air and the water, and a consequent correspondence between the two classes of animals. For in the light of natural history the birds are at all events quite as near to the mammalia as to the fishes; and the supposed resemblance between the fins of fishes and the wings of birds, is counterbalanced by the no less striking resemblance between birds and land animals, viz., that both have feet.

The real reason is rather this, that the creation proceeds throughout from the lower to the higher; and in this ascending scale the fishes occupy to a great extent a lower place in the animal economy than birds, and both water animals and birds a lower place than land animals, more especially the mammalia. Again, it is not stated that only a single pair was created of each kind; on the contrary, the words, "let the waters swarm with living beings," seem rather to indicate that the animals were created, not only in a rich variety of genera and species, but in large numbers of individuals. The fact that but one human being was created at first, by no means warrants the conclusion that the animals were created singly also; for the unity of the human race has a very different signification from that of the so-called animal species. - (v. 22). As animated beings, the water animals and fowls are endowed, through the divine blessing, with the power to be fruitful and multiply. The word of blessing was the actual communication of the capacity to propagate and increase in numbers.