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Friday, October 1, 2010

Leupold Genesis part 41 verse 11

11. And God said: Let the earth produce grass, and herbs yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind whose seed is in them upon the earth; and it was so.

The second half of the work of the third day is here recorded. This work attaches itself quite naturally to the preceding work the dry land just formed is at once to bring forth all forms of vegetation. The work of this half of the day is not immediate creation in the sense of the works preceding. For in the instances that went before the word was spoken and the result followed. In this instance the earth is the mediate agent, being bidden to produce whatever vegetation is necessary by a process of highly accelerated growth. Such a work is neither of a higher nor of a lower character than are the other works. Upon closer reflection this verse is seen to answer a question often asked, whether the plant preceded the seed, or the seed the plant. Since the seed is not bidden to bring forth but the earth is, and since, the things brought forth are first to produce seed, and since nothing indicates the prior creation of seed, the only possibility left open to us is to believe that plants and herbs came first. This still leaves room for the possibility that the Spirit in His hovering implanted the potentialities that here unfold themselves.

How do the things produced by the earth differ from one another? The three orders mentioned are (1) grass, (2) herbs, (3) trees. Some put the three items down as independent classes in an ascending scale (e. g. Delitzsch). Some make (2) a genitive dependent on (1), having as a result a pair of doubles "grass of herb" and "tree of fruit," as the Greek version botanhn cortu and eulon carpimon. Still others make (1) the general term covering all and (2) and (3) subdivisions of (1). We feel that the first point of view alone is correct and does justice to the meaning of the words employed. "Grass" represents the word deshe', whose root signifies "to be damp." Whatever grows in a well-watered spot will be of a fresh green, therefore the word is rendered frisches Gruen. Since, no doubt, these three classes aim to cover all vegetation in so far as it is of interest to man, the word deshe' may well be said to include such things as mosses and other plants designed to carpet the earth. The second term, "herbs," is a singular collective noun 'esebh, also translated "herbage." That the word is really distinct from deshe' in meaning appears first from its use in passages like (2Ki 19:26) and (Isa 37:27) where in an enumeration both are mentioned separately. Again the characteristic mark ascribed to it in this verse is noteworthy: mazria' zera', literally, seeding seed, therefore "yielding seed." Grasses, for that matter, yield seed too, but if specific mention of the seed is made only in the second class, apparently this refers to something like seed-bearing pods which make the seed more prominent as a separate feature. According to scriptural usage man eats 'esebh; see 1:29 and 3:18. So do cattle, (De 11:15). This being a broad class name, it must include things such as vegetables, or at least, generally speaking, everything between grass and trees and, without a doubt, the various grains.

So, too, the last term must be used in a very broad sense. "Fruit-bearing trees," again a singular collective 'ets peri, must include both trees that bear fruit as well as trees yielding nuts and cones and, surely, all bushes yielding berries. For the expression translated literally means only "tree of fruit." Two other marks, however, are appended to this class: first, these fruit trees bear fruit "after their kind," a peculiar and definite limitation, which all those understand best who have seen how the "kind" sets limitations upon all who would mix kinds and cross them. Nature itself here is seen to have definite limits fixed which appear as constant laws or as insurmountable barriers. The last mark stamped upon this third class of vegetable growth is "whose seed is in them upon the earth." The seed needed for the propagation of the particular kinds is seen to be in the fruit. So whether the fruit be edible or not, as long as it has seed qualities, it meets the requirements of this mark. The concluding phrase for this mark, "upon the earth," might perhaps better have been rendered as "above the ground." For to try to make this phrase modify the verb tadhshe' at the beginning of the sentence certainly removes it far from the word modified. Besides, the characteristic thing about this "fruit-bearing seed" is that it usually hangs at some distance above the ground. Then, too, 'erets does mean "ground," and 'al does mean "above."

These three broad classes of vegetation may not coincide with botanical distinctions as science now makes them. But, assuredly, they are seen to be a general and a very appropriate type of division as far as man's use of them is concerned, and in some ways the distinctions made are seen to be very apt. The lines of demarcation drawn at creation are just as sharp now as they were then.

This verse closes with an, "and it was so," to indicate again how immediate was the fulfilment of the thing commanded.

Tadshe' is, of course, a jussive or a yakteel elevatum (K. S. 189), and deshe' and zera' are cognate objects.

We should yet draw attention to the fact that the things mentioned in 2:5 are not to be included in the above classification, and so reservations must be made in reference to our use of the terms "vegetables" and "bushes" in the above discussion.

If above in v. 7 the "and it was so" stood after it had been reported that the individual things to be created had actually come into being, here in v. 11 the "and it was so" precedes this latter statement, (K. S. 369b).

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