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Sunday, September 14, 2008

K-D: Genesis Commentary Part 8

Genesis 2:1-3

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
The Sabbath of Creation. - "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them." tsaabaa' (OT:6635) here denotes the totality of the beings that fill the heaven and the earth: in other places (see especially Ne 9:6) it is applied to the host of heaven, i.e., the stars (Dt 4:19; 17:3), and according to a still later representation, to the angels also (1 Ki 22:19; Isa 24:21; Ne 9:6; Ps 148:2). These words of v. 1 introduce the completion of the work of creation, and give a greater definiteness to the announcement in vv. 2, 3, that on the seventh day God ended the work which He had made, by ceasing to create, and blessing the day and sanctifying it. The completion or finishing (kilaah (OT:3615)) of the work of creation on the seventh day (not on the sixth, as the LXX, Sam., and Syr. erroneously render it) can only be understood by regarding the clauses vv. 2 b and 3, which are connected with wykl by w consec. as containing the actual completion, i.e., by supposing the completion to consist, negatively in the cessation of the work of creation, and positively in the blessing and sanctifying of the seventh day.

The cessation itself formed part of the completion of the work (for this meaning of shaabat (OT:7673) vid., Ge 8:22; Job 32:1, etc.). As a human artificer completes his work just when he has brought it up to his ideal and ceases to work upon it, so in an infinitely higher sense, God completed the creation of the world with all its inhabitants by ceasing to produce anything new, and entering into the rest of His all-sufficient eternal Being, from which He had come forth, as it were, at and in the creation of a world distinct from His own essence. Hence ceasing to create is called resting (nuwach) in Ex 20:11, and being refreshed (yinaapeesh) in Ex 31:17. The rest into which God entered after the creation was complete, had its own reality "in the reality of the work of creation, in contrast with which the preservation of the world, when once created, had the appearance of rest, though really a continuous creation" (Ziegler, p. 27).

This rest of the Creator was indeed "the consequence of His self-satisfaction in the now united and harmonious, though manifold whole;" but this self-satisfaction of God in His creation, which we call His pleasure in His work, was also a spiritual power, which streamed forth as a blessing upon the creation itself, bringing it into the blessedness of the rest of God and filling it with His peace. This constitutes the positive element in the completion which God gave to the work of creation, by blessing and sanctifying the seventh day, because on it He found rest from the work which He by making (la`asowt (OT:6213) faciendo: cf. Ewald, §280 d) had created. The divine act of blessing was a real communication of powers of salvation, grace, and peace; and sanctifying was not merely declaring holy, but "communicating the attribute of holy," "placing in a living relation to God, the Holy One, raising to a participation in the pure clear light of the holiness of God." On qaadowsh (OT:6918) see Ex 19:6.

The blessing and sanctifying of the seventh day had regard, no doubt, to the Sabbath, which Israel as the people of God was afterwards to keep; but we are not to suppose that the theocratic Sabbath was instituted here, or that the institution of that Sabbath was transferred to the history of the creation. On the contrary, the Sabbath of the Israelites had a deeper meaning, founded in the nature and development of the created world, not for Israel only, but for all mankind, or rather for the whole creation. As the whole earthly creation is subject to the changes of time and the law of temporal motion and development; so all creatures not only stand in need of definite recurring periods of rest, for the sake of recruiting their strength and gaining new power for further development, but they also look forward to a time when all restlessness shall give place to the blessed rest of the perfect consummation.

To this rest the resting of God (hee (NT:3588) kata'pausis (NT:2663)) points forward; and to this rest, this divine sabbatismo's (NT:4520) (Heb 4:9), shall the whole world, especially man, the head of the earthly creation, eventually come. For this God ended His work by blessing and sanctifying the day when the whole creation was complete. In connection with Heb 4, some of the fathers have called attention to the fact, that the account of the seventh day is not summed up, like the others, with the formula "evening was and morning was;" thus, e.g., Augustine writes at the close of his confessions: dies septimus sine vespera est nec habet occasum, quia sanctificasti eum ad permansionem sempiternam. But true as it is that the Sabbath of God has no evening, and that the sabbatismo's (NT:4520), to which the creature is to attain at the end of his course, will be bounded by no evening, but last for ever; we must not, without further ground, introduce this true and profound idea into the seventh creation-day.

We could only be warranted in adopting such an interpretation, and understanding by the concluding day of the work of creation a period of endless duration, on the supposition that the six preceding days were so many periods in the world's history, which embraced the time from the beginning of the creation to the final completion of its development. But as the six creation-days, according to the words of the text, were earthly days of ordinary duration, we must understand the seventh in the same way; and that all the more, because in every passage, in which it is mentioned as the foundation of the theocratic Sabbath, it is regarded as an ordinary day (Ex 20:11; 31:17). We must conclude, therefore, that on the seventh day, on which God rested from His work, the world also, with all its inhabitants, attained to the sacred rest of God; that the kata'pausis (NT:2663) and sabbatismo's (NT:4520) of God were made a rest and sabbatic festival for His creatures, especially for man; and that this day of rest of the new created world, which the forefathers of our race observed in paradise, as long as they continued in a state of innocence and lived in blessed peace with their God and Creator, was the beginning and type of the rest to which the creation, after it had fallen from fellowship with God through the sin of man, received a promise that it should once more be restored through redemption, at its final consummation.