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THE THIRD CREATION DAY
Genesis 1:9-13 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
9 And God went on to say, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
11 And God went on to say, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
The surface water lowers and the dry ground appears. The atmosphere clears up to allow more yet still diffused sunlight to reach the ground. Some vegetation appears, with new species of vegetation sprouting through the third and following creative days.
- (קָוָה qavah) יִקָּווּ Ni. impf. 3 m.p. (קָוָה II 876) let … be gathered together
הַיַּבָּשָׁה def.art.-n.f.s. (387) the dry land. יָבֵשׁ be dry. בֹּושׁ be abashed.
- דֶּשֶׁא n.m.s. (206) vegetation
עֵשֶׂב n.m.s. (793) plants
מַזְרִיעַ זֶרַע Hi. ptc. (281)-n.m.s. (282) yielding seed. זָרַע sow, sero.
עֵץ פְּרִי n.m.s. (781)-n.m.s. (826) fruit trees. פָּרָה bear, fero, φέρω.
The work of creation on this day is evidently twofold,—the distribution of land and water, and the creation of plants. The former part of it is completed, named, reviewed, and approved before the latter is commenced. All that has been done before this, indeed, is preparatory to the introduction of the vegetable kingdom. This may be regarded as the first stage of the present creative process.
9. “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place. This refers to the yet overflowing deep of waters (v. 2) under the expanse. They must be confined within certain limits. For this purpose, the order is issued, that they are gathered into one place; that is, evidently, into a place apart from that designed for the land.
10. God called the dry land Earth. We use the word ground to denote the dry surface left after the retreat of the waters. To this, the Creator applies the term אֶרֶץ land, earth. Hence, we find that the primitive meaning of this term was land, the dry solid surface of matter on which we stand. This meaning it still retains in all its various applications (see on v. 2). As it was soon learned by experience that the solid ground was continuous at the bottom of the water masses, and that these were a mere superficial deposit gathering into the hollows, the term was, by an easy extension of its meaning, applied to the whole surface, as it was diversified by land and water. Our word earth is the term to express it in this more extended sense. In this sense, it was the meet counterpart of the heavens in that complex phrase by which the universe of things is expressed.
GENESIS 1:10 OTBDC: Is the Hebrew word for “earth” the same here as is used in Genesis 1:1, and do they mean the same thing?
and the waters that were gathered together he called seas. In contradistinction to the land, the gathered waters are called seas; a term applied in Scripture to any large collection of water, even though seen to be surrounded by land; as, the salt sea, the sea of Kinnereth, the sea of the plain or valley, the fore sea, the hinder sea (Gen. 14:3; Num. 34:11; Deut. 4:49; Joel 2:20; Deut. 11:24). The plural form “seas” shows that the “one place” consists of several basins, all of which taken together are called the place of the waters.
The Scripture, according to its manner, notices only the palpable result; namely, a diversified scene of “land” and “seas.” The sacred singer possibly hints at the process in Ps. 104:6–8:
6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
7 At your rebuke they fled;
at the sound of your thunder they hurried away.
8 The mountains rose, the valleys sank down
to the place that you established for them.
This description is highly poetical, and therefore true to nature. The hills are to rise out of the waters above them. The agitated waters dash up the stirring mountains, but, as these ascend, at length sink into the valleys, and take the place allotted for them. Plainly, the result was accomplished by lowering some and elevating other parts of the solid ground. Over this inequality of surface, the waters, which before overspread the whole ground, flowed into the hollows, and the elevated regions became dry land. This is a kind of geological change that has been long known to the students of nature. Such changes have often been sudden and violent. Alterations of level, of a gradual character, are known to be going on at all times.
This disposition of land and water prepares for the second step, which is the main work of this day; namely, the creation of plants. We are now come to the removal of another defect in the state of the earth, mentioned in the second verse,—its deformity, or rude and uncouth appearance.
11. Let the earth sprout. The plants are said to be products of the land because they spring from the dry ground and a margin around it where the water is so shallow as to permit the light and heat to reach the bottom. The land is said to grow or bring forth plants; not because it is endowed with any inherent power to generate plants, but because it is the element in which they are to take root, and from which they are to spring forth.
Vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit. The plants now created are divided into three classes,—grass, herb, and tree. In the first, the seed is not noticed, as not obvious to the eye; in the second, the seed is the striking characteristic; in the third, the fruit, “in which is its seed,” in which the seed is enclosed, forms the distinguishing mark. This division is simple and natural. It proceeds upon two concurrent marks,—the structure and the seed. In the first, the green leaf or blade is prominent; in the second, the stalk; in the third, the woody texture. In the first, the seed is not conspicuous; in the second, it is conspicuous; in the third, it is enclosed in a fruit that is conspicuous. This division corresponds with certain classes in our present systems of botany. But it is much less complex than any of them and is founded upon obvious characteristics. The plants that are on the margin of these great divisions may be arranged conveniently enough under one or another of them, according to their several orders or species.
In which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth. This phrase intimates that like produces like, and therefore that the “kinds” or species are fixed, and do not run into one another. In this little phrase, the theory of one species being developed from another is denied.
12. Here the fulfillment of the divine command is detailed, after being summed up in the words “it was so,” at the close of the previous verse. This seems to arise from the nature of growth, which has a commencement, indeed, but goes on without ceasing in progressive development. It appears from the text that the full plants, and not the seeds, germs, or roots, were created. The land sent forth grass, herb, and tree, each in its fully developed form. This was absolutely necessary if man and the land animals were to be sustained by grasses, seeds, and fruits.
Thus the land begins to assume the form of beauty and fertility. Its bare and rough soil is set with the germs of an incipient verdure. It has already ceased to be “a waste.” And now, at the end of this third day, let us pause to review the natural order in which everything has been thus far done. It was necessary to produce light in the first place because without this potent element water could not pass into vapor and rise on the wings of the buoyant air into the region above the expanse. The atmosphere must in the next place be reduced to order, and charged with its treasures of vapor before the plants could commence the process of growth, even though stimulated by the influence of light and heat. Again, the waters must be withdrawn from a portion of the solid surface before the plants could be placed in the ground, so as to have the full benefit of the light, air, and vapor in enabling them to draw from the soil the sap by which they are to be nourished. When all these conditions are fulfilled, then the plants themselves are called into existence, and the first cycle of the new creation is completed.
Could not the Eternal have accomplished all this in one day? Doubtless, he might. He might have affected it all in an instant of time. And he might have compressed the growth and development of centuries into a moment. He might even by possibility have constructed the stratification of the earth’s crust with all its slips, elevations, depressions, unconformities, and organic formations in a day. And, lastly, he might have carried on to complete all the developments of universal nature that have since taken place or will hereafter take place till the last hour has struck on the clock of time. But what then? What purpose would have been served by all this speed? It is obvious that the above and such like questions are not wisely put. The very nature of the Eternal shows the futility of such speculations. Is the commodity of time so scarce with him that he must or should for any good reason sum up the course of a universe of things in an infinitesimal portion of its duration? May we not, rather, must we not, soberly conclude that there is a due proportion between the action and the time of the action, the creation to be developed, and the time of development. Both the beginning and the process of this latest creation are to a nicety adjusted to the preexistent and concurrent state of things. And the development of that which is created not only displays a mutual harmony and exact coincidence in the progress of all its other parts but is at the same time finely adapted to the constitution of man, and the natural, safe, and healthy ratio of his physical and metaphysical movements. Andrews argues in THE CREATION DAYS OF GENESIS book you see here that speculation is not really necessary, for the scriptures and science are obvious and agree with each other.
By James G. Murphy and Edward D. Andrews
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