Historical-Grammatical Exegesis of Genesis 1-2:1-6

This is a simple, literal and straightforward commentary. The more explanatory and lengthly work is being written. It will start here but expound much more.


Day 1

1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 1:2 Now the earth was without shape and empty, and darkness was over the surface of the watery deep, but the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the water.

The translation assumes that the form translated “beginning” (רֵאשִׁ֖ית - rek-sit, is in the absolute state rather than the construct “when God had created,” or “when God created”). In other words, the clause in v. 1 is the main clause, v. 2 has three clauses that are descriptive and supply background information, and v. 3 begins the narrative sequence properly. The referent of the word “beginning” has to be defined from the context since there is no beginning or ending with God.

The English verb “create” captures well the meaning of the Hebrew term in this context. The verb בָּרָא (bara’) regularly describes the activity of fashioning something new, fresh, and perfect. The verb does not necessarily (but most likely does) describe creation out of nothing (see, for example, v. 27, where it refers to the creation of man); it often stresses forming anew, reforming, renewing (see Ps 51:10; Isa 43:15, 65:17; EBDBHEL, TLOT.)

The phrase "created" is a completed action that can be translated “had created,” or “did create.” If translated “created,” the created must be understood as “created already” to reflect the Hebrew reading. The critical issue here is the word order which places the Hebrew verb second in the sentence. The most common word order in a biblical Hebrew narrative places the verb first and places the subject of the verb second. Verb first word order appears in 28 of the first 31 verses of Genesis.

Placement of the verb as the second word of a sentence is one of the methods by which biblical Hebrew indicates already completed actions which translate in English as the pluperfect. The pluperfect is the English verb form which uses “had.” The verb-second word order is used to

give already completed past information at the beginning of a narrative, and for inserting other already completed information into a narrative as a comment or reminder of events which already transpired.

Reading it this way shows that the original intent was not to date the universe but instead it does not give us a time frame, it gives us an indefinite time frame.

This next part of the verse is critical; we read “שָׁמַי” (samayim) and “אֶ֫רֶץ” (eres, ares) “the heavens and the earth.” In the original Hebrew, it means “the entire universe” (Joel 3:15-16). This phrase is often interpreted as a merism, referring to the entire ordered universe, this would include the celestial stars, planetary objects, and luminaries. In ancient Hebrew thought, the heavens contained three parameters existing of the sky, second heaven (space) and heaven as we commonly find it where God resides. It is important to note here that the frame of reference for this is most undoubtedly that of someone from earth later on (which is backed up further from the dating and author of Genesis).

Notice verse one and two are written out together because of the conjunction "and." This fact immediately tells us that Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 are part of one continuous thought. Two things (1) This shows that it is not a summary but an actual act of creation and (2) If it were a summary, it would not show a creation out of anything. The issue is shown in the next verse following “and” if God only created the earth and not the entire universe as the Hebrew suggests we would see that God did not create matter, but instead it pre-existed. That is what Mormonism would teach, and I do not think any Bible believer wants to be associated in that context.

“without shape, empty and dark” what we now know as “the earth” was an unfilled mass covered by water and darkness. Later תֹהוּ (tohu) and בֹּהוּ (bohu), when used in proximity, describe a situation resulting from judgment (Isa 34:11; Jer 4:23). The Hebrew term תְּהוֹם (téhom, “deep”) refers to the water deep, the abyss and is used almost always in poetic fashion according to the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew —especially the primeval ocean that surrounds and underlies the earth (see Gen 7:11). Now the question, where was God during this?  The Hebrew verb for “moving” has been translated “hovering” or “moving” like a bird over her young, (see Deut 32:11). The Syriac cognate term means “to brood over; to incubate.” The Holy Spirit is hovering over the earth like a mother bird who warms and prepares the soon to be created. It is fascinating to note that we can observe a small idea of what this may have looked like by looking at our neighboring planets as they are covered in an atmosphere that is not dissipated.

1:3 God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light! 1:4 God saw that the light was good, so God separated the light from the darkness. 1:5 God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.” There was evening, and there was morning, marking the first day. 

Notice that every thought has begun with a conjunction, so we know that all of this is part of the continuing action. The text says that there were day and night on the earth on the first day. This tells us that the light that was shining on the earth was directional in its source. We know that God created the Sun, Stars and other planetary things on day one. Therefore, “let there be light” can be seen as the removal of clouds. If it were God creating light - it would say as the previous verses state “God had created.” The argument, not from a textual standpoint, that there was merely universal light shining would not make sense from the frame of reference at earth (the one writing this down). If there were a universal, non-sun, light, this would not allow for evening or morning.

[Interesting NOTE: Ten times in the chapter the decree of God in creation will be so expressed. It introduces the Law, the words and commandments from the Lord that must be obeyed. The ten decrees of God in this chapter anticipate the ten words in the Decalogue (Exod 20:2–17).]

The Hebrew word for “Let there be light,” is “הָיָה” hāyâ. Note the contrast from bara which means to “come into existence from nothing” this light already exists because God already “bara” in the previous verses — furthering the point that the entire universe was created day one. Significant. God had created real light “in the beginning” when he brought the cosmos into existence. (See Below).

The word אֹור ʾôr light there is defined as “light” as diffused in nature, light of day Gn 1:3, 4, 5; Jb 3:9; 38:19 and light of the heavenly luminaries; א׳ הַלְּבָנָה, || א׳ הַחַמָּה moonlight & sunlight Is 30:26; כּוֹכְבֵי אוֹר stars of light; מְאוֹרֵי אוֹר luminaries of light Ez 32:8; עֲלֵי־אוֹר in sunshine Is 18:4; the sun itself Jb 31:26. Further, it is read as “body of light or lamp” which plays a massive role in the subsequent reading of when the sun is spoken of in later verses (TLOT; BDAG).

“There was evening and morning, one day.” The translation “one day” is without a definite article, which according to the most rigorous of scholarship shows that it is an indefinite time frame. It, as we have pointed out in another article, is a unique way of writing and reading. That is to say, on the purpose of the author.

Day 2

1:6 God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters and let it separate water from water. 1:7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. It was so. 1:8 God called the expanse “sky.” There was evening, and there was morning, a second day.

To start, the Hebrew word [רָקִיע ; expanse] refers to an expanse of air pressure between the surface of the sea and the clouds, separating water below from water above [regarded by Hebrews as the solid sky, and supporting ‘waters’ above it - BDB ]. In v. eight it is called “sky.” This sets up the earth water cycle which is necessary for life. [NOTE: God, logically, is setting up for abundant life. To meet the needs of an abundance and diversity of species, the rainfall must vary from one geographical region to another. The range must fall between the extremes of about 2 inches and 600 inches per year—not just for a few millennia, but for a few billion years. A water cycle that meets such exacting requirements demands a problematic balancing of multiple factors: the physical characteristics of the Sun and Earth;  atmospheric composition, temperature, and pressure;  wind velocities; and the changing values of all these atmospheric characteristics at various distances out from Earth’s surface.  As precisely fine-tuned as these environmental factors must have been to transform Earth’s atmosphere from opaque to translucent, they required even more precise regulation to permit a stable, life-sustaining water cycle and God did this. Another issue for YEC - YEC must eliminate some fine-tuning factors]

God, now separating water from water, is incredibly interesting. The standard reading of this text would ponder us as a child; we would have thought “God is separating water…from water?”. However, reading this in Hebrew we see that God’s expanse is a word that is used to describe “water above” which we noted is the atmosphere. The atmosphere at any time contains 37.5 million billion gallons of water invisible in the vapor. That is enough to cover the entire earth with 1-inch of rain (or as we see later, the world-wide flood that takes place).

God uses existing material to do all these acts in verses 6-8. The word עָשָׂה literally means to “command” “make happen” “orchestrate.” This word tells us that God took existing material and orchestrated to do something else. Here we see God using the supernaturally made material (now natural) to command and orchestrate more natural happenings. This is vital reading for anyone attempting to understand the methods God used to create the earth and its functions.

That concludes a day.


1:9 God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place and let dry ground appear.” It was so. 1:10 God called the dry ground “land” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” God saw that it was good.

Here God brings forth dry land. This dry land already exists, but the sea covered it. In the beginning, the water covered the whole earth; now the water was to be restricted to an area to form the ocean. We see this tied to the creation account found in Psalm 104 (NOTE: Genesis is but one of the creation accounts.) The words above in verse 9 “appear” in Hebrew mean to “reveal, from underneath.”

104:6 The watery deep covered it like a garment; the waters reached above the mountains. 104:7 Your shout made the waters retreat; at the sound of your thunderous voice they hurried off— 104:8 as the mountains rose up, and the valleys went down— to the place you appointed for them. 

God uses some form of tectonic shifting here and moves the waters to reveal the mountains, the valleys and the hills. (This is where we see the conflict in time periods. Did God do this instantly? or did He move everything with supernatural force?). Either way, we know that all that is being used in verses 9-10 have already existed since prior days.

1:11 God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: plants yielding seeds according to their kinds, and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.” It was so. 1:12 The land produced vegetation—plants yielding seeds according to their kinds, and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. God saw that it was good. 1:13 There was evening, and there was morning, a third day. 

Note here, that the Hebrew construction uses a cognate accusative, that is where the nominal object (“vegetation”) derives from the verbal root employed. It stresses the abundant productivity that God created. The Hebrew “תַּדְשֵׁא” means to “let her [earth] sprout forth,” and in that, we see that God is allowing the earth to do what it was designed to do - bring forth vegetation. (This would imply a long period for grass to grow - hence the saying “watch the grass grow”). We also see the word “זֶ֫רַע” which is used repeatedly for “the dropping of seed” which means the plants were coming forth from seed, exactly how we see it today. This would be another indicator of how God is using the design of the earth during Creation.

Please note something significant in Day 3: The Bible does not say “God created vegetation” or “God brought forth the seed.” The Bible is evident in its choice of language and purpose. Hebrews were very articulate about their wording. God allowed His creation from prior days to bring forth more creation. Again, God created the natural by supernatural means to allow the natural to produce more natural things.

This concludes a day. NOTE: “a day” more about that later.


1:14 God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night and let them signs to indicate seasons and days and years, 1:15 and let them serve as lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” It was so. 1:16 God made two great lights—the greater light to rule over the day and the lesser light to rule over the night. He made the stars also. 1:17 God placed the lights in the expanse of the sky to shine on the earth, 1:18 to preside over the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw that it was good. 1:19 There was evening, and there was morning, a fourth day. 

Here we get into some amazing and incredible features of Creation. In verse 14 we read that God (again using the same action of pre-existing material) uses existing light to fill a different material object. Scholars note: Light itself was created before the light-bearers. The order would not seem strange to the ancient Hebrew mind that did not automatically link daylight with the sun (note that dawn and dusk appear to have light without the sun). The word in Hebrew “מְאֹרֹת” relates to a lamp or furniture. This would indicate that God is turning the light switch on pre-existing luminaries within these celestial objects [luminary]. He gives them a primary cause of signs for season changes, day and years. This further implies the ability upon humans to look to the stars in the sky and be able to get rationale information from them. The second duty of the stars is to bring light to the earth in the subset to the primary source of light.

Verse 16. God “asah” “וַיַּעַשׂ,” i.e., to fashion or create an object, usually implying the use of existing materials (Ge 1:26) (DBL Hebrew). I double reference this because I know this might raise objections, but the word is what the word is. Early in the first day, we see God create from nothing and there is a specific word for that. Here we see God create using existing material (an empty, unlit star that is close to earth) and the moon; the Hebrew literally says “the big, the big ones.” He fashions them with two incredible purposes and would fill many pages, but the primary is the source for the sun to rule over the day and moon to rule over the night. Afterward, He continues to make stars in the sky that serve no other purpose than to glorify His creation. NOTE: If, as some mistakingly believe, God created the Sun, moon, and stars on the fourth day, then He did not really create the heavens {luminary objects, the universe (as we showed in Hebrew Day 1) in verse one. So, the 24-hour day interpretation suffers a contradiction between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:16.

Verse 17-18Here God “וַיִּתֵּן” put them in their purpose, the text reiterates their purpose, and in Verse 19 we see that God saw that it was good.

This was a fourth day.

Day 5

1:20 God said, “Let the water swarm with swarms of living creatures and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” 1:21 God created the great sea creatures and every living and moving thing with which the water swarmed, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. God saw that it was good. 1:22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the water in the seas and let the birds multiply on the earth.” 1:23 There was evening, and there was morning, a fifth day. 

v20The author records a specific language here once again “swarm with swarms” the Hebrew again uses a cognate construction to emphasize the abundant fertility. The idea of the verb is one of swift movement back and forth, literally swarming. This verb is used in Exod 1:7 to describe the rapid growth of the Israelite population in bondage. v21 For the first time in the narrative proper the verb “create” (בָּרָא, bara’) appears. Here we gather “bara” again meaning that God, most likely from nothing, created the sea creatures of the world that we see. Note the logic here: The earth is not capable of bringing forth sea creatures by natural means post-creation. God uses His supernatural creativity to “bara” these creatures. The word בָּרָא directly signifies divine activity in the Hebrew language and is used specifically and on purpose here. Something interesting arises here when we read “וַיִּבְרָא אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הַתַּנִּינִם הַגְּדֹלִים” the use of the word “big ones” is here again but it is coupled with “substance like water” and “dragons.” For those wondering if God created large creatures, I think that this rather solidifies that. Whether these are dragons as we know them to be in say, “How to Train Your Dragon” is speculative, but we know these are large sea creatures. The verse concludes as God “surveyed and concluded” that it was good.

v22Here we see God “blesses” the birds and creatures to fulfill their purpose which is to reproduce in all of the world. He sets the course of the creatures He created to take on their God-given purpose. The word “בָּרַךְ” is used here for bless can actually mean “kneel,” and it gives the picture that God is (for a more visual display for readers) “knighting” the creation with an endowed purpose and calling. Moreover, there was a fifth day.

Day 6

1:24 God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: cattle, creeping things, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” It was so. 1:25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the cattle according to their kinds, and all the creatures that creep along the ground according to their kinds. God saw that it was good. 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness, so they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move on the earth.” 1:27 God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them. 1:28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it! Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that moves on the ground.” 1:29 Then God said, “I now give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the entire earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 1:30 And to all the animals of the earth, and every bird of the air, and to all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” It was so. 1:31 God saw all that he had made—and it was very good! There was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day. 

v24-25Here we have the word “יָצָא” which means “to relocate, to go out into a new location.” This indicates that either God used existing “creation material” to form the living creatures of the land which would make sense in terms of how they would survive - sharing the DNA of the produce they would eat [which allows them to survive]. This is further backed up by the use of “יָצָא” in the next verse where we have shown that this is creating something out of an existing matter. The reason presented a few sentences ago could be the reason as to why God chose to do it this way (which is further reasoned out in the next verse where animals are given green food to eat), or it could be for another reason God did not share with us. v26God reveals His intent to create Humans now. This is an incredible moment and one that sets us up for the rest of the Biblical Narrative. However, staying within the realm of this text the question arises: “Why does God use asah in the verse here but bara when He actually makes humans?” That is explained in the Hebrew grammar here where “asah” “נַעֲשֶׂה” is used in a different form that we have seen before, and it denotes the cohortative form which means that God desires and will bring them into being. It is not the same active bringing into existence from the material as we saw before.

Humankind is referenced here with the Hebrew word is אָדָם (’adam), which can sometimes refer to man, as opposed to woman. The term refers here to humankind, comprised of male and female. This is deduced further by seeing the reference in the next verse and later consistent verses in the Narrative. v27 God “bara”humankind; Hebrew text has the article prefixed to the noun (הָאָדָם, ha’adam). The article does not distinguish man from woman here (“the man” as opposed to “the woman”) but rather indicates the previous reference (see v. 26, where the noun appears without the article). It has the same function as English “the before mentioned.”

The word “צֶ֫לֶם “ means to mold, to cut out of. This signifies the massive implications that man is a unique creation separate from others, “shaping a piece from, in the image of” (rDB-Hebrew). This clearly flies in the face of present evolutionary theory. For more on this see the article: Imago Dei and Evolution.v28God endows or “knights” mankind with their purpose to rule over the living creatures and reproduce to fill the earth. This calling is one that God also gave to non-human creatures, but the replication process that God endows humanity with is far more significant for they contain “soul” by which is produced through humans and not animals.

God concludes this in dramatic language; the Hebrew text uses הִנֵּה (hinneh) for the sake of vividness. It is a particle that goes with the gesture of pointing, calling attention to something. That it was “good!”. We now read “there was evening, and there was morning, THE sixth day."

This brings us into Chapter 2 which at the beginning of this article I did not intend on indulging, but I feel it necessary for logical and exegetical consistency. Lucky for us, Genesis 2 reveals even more fantastic truth.

Day 7

2:1 The heavens and the earth were completed with everything that was in them. 2:2 By the seventh day God finished the work that he had been doing, and he ceased on the seventh day all the work that he had been doing. 2:3 God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it he ceased all the work that he had been doing in creation. 

V1 we read that God completed creating everything in the heavens and the earth.  Heb “and all the host of them.” Here the “host” refers to all the entities and creatures that God created to populate the world.

V2 reads literally: “On or In” the seventh day. In the Hebrew term שָׁבַּת (shabbat) it can be translated “to rest” (“and he rested”). This is not a rest from exhaustion; it is the cessation of the work of creation. The final verse (v3) is where we see something significant, in terms of our Theology. The Piel verb קִדֵּשׁ (qiddesh) means “to make something holy; to set something apart; to distinguish it.” Literally, the phrase means that God made this day different. However, within the context of the Law, it means that the day belonged to God; it was for rest from ordinary labor, worship, and spiritual service. The day belonged to God. Here we have a representation of God’s future command to rest on the seventh day of the week. He is continuing the analogy for the Hebrew readers here.

Here we get into the thick of it. This is the exciting part of Chapter 2 for those wondering the mysteries of Genesis. Up until this point, we have shown conclusively, in my opinion of course, that a literal reading of Genesis 1 allows for non-consecutive 24-hour day periods. We have also flipped the common Christian mistake of the creation of the sun, stars, and earth. This is why reading the Bible in the original language is so vital but more about that later.

2:4 This was the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created—when the Lord God made the earth and heavens. 2:5 Now no shrub of the field had yet grown on the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. 2:6 Springs would go well up from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. 2:7 The Lord God formed the man from the soil of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. 

v4 The Hebrew phrase אֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת (’elle tolédot) is traditionally translated as “these are the generations of” because the noun was derived from the verb “beget.” Genesis 2 is seen as the summary of “what came to happen” in terms of God’s creation.

v5 The first term, שִׂיחַ (siakh), most likely refers to the wild, uncultivated plants (see Gen 21:15; Job 30:4, 7); whereas the second, עֵשֶׂב (’esev), refers to cultivated grains. It is a way of saying: “back before anything was growing.” “for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground.” This is highly significant to the purpose of understanding the order of creation. 24-Hour proponents insist that creation was fully formed within the 24 hours already and sprung and fully functional. We have established this was not the case from the first day. We see the sun being formed and GIVEN light. Here we see that God did not just form plants and trees and shrubs but rather allowed nature to cultivate it is own course (how it was designed) and grow when rain and water came. We see springs would eventually form in v6 causing the earth to produce water in order to help the plants grow. This text is critical - it proves that God allowed His specifically designed nature to work fully and accurately from the start of all creation. God once again uses ordinary providence, that is the natural producing the natural.

The story continues from here that man was created and God gave man the ability to cultivate and rule over what God had created. There are many more essential verses that we could embark on that would provide further proof that a literal reading of Genesis does not require consecutive 24-hour periods.

We have seen that God supernaturally creates the natural and allows the natural to form other natural things. This means that a literal reading of Genesis does not necessarily fit a 24-hour consecutive period theology. There will be an edit to this article in the coming days that will provide a summary of each day of the essential linguistic understandings we have gone over.