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The First Book of MOSES,
THIS is, undoubtedly, the most ancient book in the world.
almost universally agreed, that the author of this and the four following books, commonly called the Pentateuch, was MOSES; a man of a very extraordinary character, who was educated in the court of an Egyptian prince, and acquainted with all the branches of learning taught in the schools of Egypt.
Considering how long the Patriarchs lived, the history of facts which he relates came down to him through so few hands, as to leave no room to suspect their authenticity. On these accounts, this book claims peculiar attention, separate from the consideration of the writer's being under the influence of the Holy Spirit, without which, the true history of the creation could never have been known.
This book, though doubtless intended for the general information of mankind, seems to have been written more particularly for the instruction and advantage of the Jewish people; to prevent their complying with the idolatry of other nations, and preserve their entire obedience to the divine law; as well as to lower that pride and vanity which they were ever prone to indulge, on account of their being the peculiar people of God; in which views many things in it appear peculiarly beautiful.
Genesis, which is the name it bears in the Greek Septuagint translation, signifies generation;* and it is so called, because it relates the history of the generation or beginning of the heavens and the earth, the production of man, and the genealogies of the patriarchs.
This history begins about 4000 years before Christ, and contains a period of 2365 years, or thereabouts. The account of the creation, with which it commences, cannot reasonably be supposed, as it hath been by some, to relate to the universe at large, but, at most, to the solar system, and principally to our world. And though it be granted that the Bible was not intended to teach men natural philosophy, we must suppose, if we believe its divine inspi ration, that what it relates is agreeable to truth and the nature of things.
CHAP. I. Verse 1-25.
Contains the History of the Creation of the World, with its appen• dages and inhabitants, in the space of six days; and of the work of each day.
N the beginning God created the heaven and the earth; He made out of nothing, the common matter of which the 2 heavens and the earth were afterwards formed.* And the earth was without form and void; without order, beauty, or furniture; the stamina, or principles of future productions, being all blended together; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep waters which surrounded the solid mass, occasioned by the thick vapours which rested upon them. And the Spirit of God, or his infinite wisdom and power, moved upon the face of the waters, made a violent agitation in order to expel those vapours, and separate the fluid and solid matter, of which, together with luminous and fiery particles, this chaos seems to have been 3 compounded. And God said, Let there be light': and there was light; the gross particles were dispelled, and the dark 4 earth was illuminated. And God saw the light, that [it was] good; agreeable to his great design: and God equally divided the light from the darkness, by giving the earth its diurnal mo5 tion. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night, that is, he appointed they should be so called. And the evening and the morning were the first day.‡
And God said, Let there be a firmament, an expansion or atmosphere, in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the 7 waters in the clouds, from the waters upon the earth. And accordingly God made the firmament, and divided the waters which [were] under the firmament, and designed for seas and rivers, from the waters which [were] above the firmament, in the clouds; and it was so ; part of the waters ascended in va8 pours into the air. And God called the firmament Heaven; including the space where the birds fly, the clouds gather, and the stars appear to move. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven, which at first equally overspread the earth, be gathered together unto one place, and be kept within their appointed channels; and let the dry [land] appear in continents and islands and it was so
Here the agency of the blessed God is asserted in the formation of all things: and in the New Testament we are told, he made all things by Jesus Christ, John i. 3. Eph. ifì. Heb. i. 10. Philosophers have had great debates about the formation of the world; come asserting its eternity, others forming the most ridiculous notions of its being made by chance, or a concourse of atoms: but this first verse of our Bible clears up all the dif ficulty.
Some suppose, that the fiery particles which contained light and heat, were separated from the rest of the mass. and collected into distinct bodies or globes of light, which moved round and caused a kind of day to some parts of the earth, while other parts were in darkness. But if we suppose that the Sun was first created, then the earth was illu minated by the Sun's rays. Longinus mentions this verse as an instance of the true sublime. The evening is mentioned first, because the Jewish sacred days begun from the
10 as God commanded. (Psalm civ. 5-8.) And God called the dry [land] Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that [it was] good. This clause is not added to the second day's work, because the work which was then begun (the separation of the waters) was not perfect11 ed till now.* And God said, Let the earth receive power to bring forth tender grass itself, without being sown, the herb yielding seed, [and] the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, its own peculiar kind, whose seed [is] in itself, upon the earth, f2 so that it shall propagate its own species: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, [and] herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed [was] in itself, after his kind : and God saw that [it was] good; every tree and plant was adapted to answer some useful purpose. 13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.
And God said, Let there be lights, luminous bodies appearing in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, or marks of distinction between one portion of time and another, and for seasons, to produce and distinguish spring and summer, and autumn and winter, and for days, and years; by their several motions, to make the days longer and shorter; to distinguish between day and day, month and month, year and year; and to show how to com15 fute time accordingly: And let them be for lights in the fir
mament of the heaven to give light upon the earth and it 16 was so. And God made, or rather, Now God had made, two great lights; the greater light, the sun, to rule the day, and the lesser light the moon, to rule the night, [he made] the 17 stars also. And God now set them, caused them to appear, in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,t 18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that [it was] good. 19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
And God said, Let the waters, together with the earth, bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl [that] may fly above the earth in the open firmament of hea21 ven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw 22 that [it was] good. And God blessed them all, saying, I bestow this blessing or power upon you to multiply your kind, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let 23 fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morn24 ing were the fifth day. And God said, Let the earth bring
• Dr. Kennicott observes that the words are found in the Greek version at c. 8. Edit. The moon is mentioned first, to denote its peculiar usefulness to us above the other planets.
Mr. Whiston well observes, Moses seems to have given an account of things as they would have appeared to an observing spectator, had such an one been here upon earth during the creation: when the Sun, on his first appearing, would seem to have been at that instant created. Whiston's Theory, pref. p. 40.
The original word is often rendered dragens, and crocodiler; see Ezek. xxix. 3. xxxii. 2. But here it seems to be put for large fish in general. Edit.
forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, for the use of man, and the creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his 25 kind and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that [it was] good.
ET us adore the infinite majesty of God, as displayed in all his works, both in heaven and on earth. The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all those who have pleasure therein. What can we see but displays of power and wisdom in all the works of his hands! What are the nicest, or the greatest performances of human skill, when compared with His, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working! The meanest animal, the least vegetable or insensible being, declares his eternal power and Godhead. What skill, beauty, and harmony appear in all his works! What reason have we after such a survey as this chapter affords, to adopt the devout rapture of David, O Lord, how manifold are thy works, in wisdom thou hast made them all!
2. Let us be daily sensible of the divine goodness in all the works of his hands; that he hath provided so richly, not only for the support, but the comfort of all his creatures, and their agreeable entertainment. That he hath given the vegetable world, in particular, such beauty and grandeur. The earth is full of his riches; so is the great and wide sea. All his works praise him; and his rational creatures, especially, should bless his holy name. They alone are capable of admiring his works, and they should constantly do so.
3. We learn to use all the creatures for the honour of that God by whom they were made. They are not our own; are not produced by our wisdom or power. Let us use them as the creatures of God. We are stewards of his manifold gifts, therefore let us not abuse them; let none make unnecessary waste of them, or tyrannize over the brute creation, over which God hath given us dominion. A merciful man is merciful to beasts and insects. Every degree of cruelty is unworthy a rational creature. Let us set God, the great creator of all, continually before us, and seriously consider what use of these things will be most pleasing to him, and advantageous to ourselves; that whether we eat, or drink, or whatever we do, we may do all to the glory of God, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
CHAP. I. 26, to the end. CHAP. II. 1-3. Of the creation of man, and the institution of the sabbath. God hav ing finished the inanimate and brutal creation, proceeds to the nobler production of man; and here, to add dignity and solemnity to this, his last and greatest work, He calls a council and advises; not to signify any doubt, deliberation, or want of skill or power in himself, but to show the dignity of the creature he was to form, and the amazing wisdom of the product.
ND God said, speaking to his son, or spirit, or both, or his attendant angels, Let us make man in our image, a reasonable being, after our likeness in moral perfections and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, with its various productions, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, so as to use them for their 27 pleasure and benefit. So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; this is repeated as worthy peculiar attention; male and female created he them. Both were made this day, though the manner of the woman's cre28 ation is more fully related, ch.ii. 18, &c. And God blessed
them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, dress and manage it, so as to make it fruitful; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth, which are designed to subserve the wants and conveniences of mankind.
And God further said to them, Behold, I have given you likewise every herb bearing seed, which [is] upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in the which [is] the fruit of a 30 tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein [there is] life, [I have given] every green herb for meat and it was so till after the fall, when beasts and birds of prey, and fishes, did 31 eat and devour one another. And on the conclusion of the whole, on a survey of his works, God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, [it was] very good; exactly fitted for the use and end for which they were designed; and adorned with such perfections as were suitable to their natures; and all conducing to the glory of God. And the evening and the morn ing were the sixth day.
CHAP. II. Thus, as before related, the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them, their ornaments and apparatus.
the seventh day God had ended his work which he
had made ;t and he rested on the seventh day from all his
she flood, at least not till after the fall. See Cradock's History of the Old Testament, p. 4. 5bs are only mentioned; animal food not being allowed, as some think, before God of observes, that the Samaritan text with the Greek and Syriac versions
zad, Gidded his querk on the sixth day.