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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Leupold Genesis part 47 verse 16

16. And God made the two great luminaries, the greater luminary to rule the day and the lesser luminary to rule the night--and also the stars.

The previous verse closes the initial command of the work to be done on the fourth day with the customary notice that "it was so," that is, what God commanded came into being. According to the almost invariable rule of this chapter we should now expect an account in detail as to how God actually wrought what He had ordained, beginning like all the others with either wayyss'as, "and He made," or with wayyibhra', "and He created." This is just what we have with the usual situation that the account of how the original order was carried out affords sufficient variety of form to serve as a commentary upon the first statement of v. 14, 15. Stereotyped repetition would be both mechanical and wearisome. However, critics fail to see this clear situation in a number of instances. Skinner brings an indictment against the account: "The laboured explanation of the purposes of the heavenly bodies is confused, and suggests overworking (the difficult 14b and 15a a). The functions are stated with perfect clearness in v. 16-18." Yet we have found both v. 14 and 15 perfectly simple and plain. The only difference between the initial command v. 14, 15 and the account of its being done v. 16-18 is that of the supplementary but entirely harmonious statements of purpose, the first gives greater prominence to the secondary purpose of serving for "signs, seasons," etc.; the second stresses particularly the primary function of controlling day and night and giving light.

So v. 16 is supplementary in mentioning for the first time the chief luminaries--"chief" as far as the earth is concerned. They are "the two great luminaries, in reference to the earth and also in view of how they appear to man. Naturally, a simple account such as this will not attempt to give to man the useless information as to which of the heavenly bodies are the largest in the absolute sense. Besides, in the very nature of the case the expression, "the great luminary," must be understood as a comparative, "the greater." Likewise "the small" (haqqaton) means the smaller (K. S. 308 a). Because the definite and very specific use of "the stars" in reference to the earth is very much inferior to that of sun and moon, they may well be added as a kind of afterthought, "and also the stars." Now man at least knows how important they are and how they originated--a type of account which is the complete negative of all astrological conceptions. So as a whole v. 16 is seen to be a very helpful commentary upon what preceded.

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