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New Defender's Study Bible Notes

Introduction to Genesis In a very real sense, the book of Genesis is the most important book in the world, for it is the foundation upon which all the other sixty-five books of God’s written Word have been based. When Jesus Christ, after His resurrection, gave a key Bible study to His disciples on the way to Emmaus, He began with Genesis! “Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27). We would do well to follow His example. If we want to understand the New Testament, we first need to understand Genesis; the New Testament contains at least two hundred direct quotations or clear allusions to events described in Genesis–more than from any other book in the Old Testament. All the great doctrines of Christianity–sin, atonement, grace, redemption, faith, justification, salvation, and many others–are first encountered in Genesis. The greatest doctrine of all–the special creation of all things by the eternal, self-existent God–is revealed in the very first chapter of Genesis, the foundation of all foundations. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the greatest attacks on the Bible have been directed against the integrity and authority of Genesis. Since the only alternative to creation is evolution, these attacks are all ultimately based on evolutionism, the assumption that this complex universe can somehow be explained apart from the infinite creative power of God. The creation account in Genesis is supported by numerous other references throughout the Bible, and this is true for all the later events recorded in Genesis as well. To some degree, archaeological discoveries, as well as other ancient writings and traditions, also support these events, but the only infallibly correct record of creation and primeval history is the book of Genesis. Its importance cannot be over-estimated. Authorship Until about 200 years ago, practically all authorities accepted the fact that Moses wrote Genesis and all the rest of the Pentateuch as well. The first writer to question this seems to have been a French infidel physician, Jean Astruc, about the time of the French revolution. Astruc argued that two writers wrote the two creation accounts in Genesis 1 and 2, on the basis of the different names for God used in the two chapters. Later writers during the 19th century, notably the German higher critic Julius Wellhausen, developed this idea into the elaborate documentary hypothesis of the origin of the Pentateuch. According to this notion, the Pentateuch was written much later than the time of Moses, by at least four different writers or groups of writers, commonly identified now by J, E, D and P (standing for the Jehovist, Elohist, Deuteronomist and Priestly documents, respectively). Although some form of this theory is still being taught in most liberal seminaries and college departments of religion, it has been thoroughly discredited by conservative scholars. This is discussed further in the Introductions to Exodus and other books of the Pentateuch. In any case, there is no valid reason to question the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, except for Genesis itself. For Genesis, however, there is real substance to the documentary idea, though certainly not in the Astruc/Wellhausen form. In fact, it seems very likely that Moses was the compiler and editor of a number of earlier documents, written by Adam and other ancient patriarchs, rather than being the actual writer himself. After all, the events of Genesis took place long before Moses was born, whereas he was a direct participant in the events recorded in the other four books of the Pentateuch. It is reasonable that Adam and his descendants all knew how to write and, therefore, kept records of their own times (note the mention of “the book of the generations of Adam” in Genesis 5:1). These records (probably kept on stone or clay tablets) were possibly handed down from father to son in the line of the God-fearing patriarchs until they finally were acquired by Moses when he led the children of Israel out of Egypt. During the wilderness wanderings, Moses compiled them into the book of Genesis, adding his own explanatory editorial comments where needed. Genesis is still properly considered as one of the books of Moses, since its present form is due to him, but it really records the eye-witness records of these primeval histories, as written originally by Adam, Noah, Shem, Isaac, Jacob and other ancient patriarchs. The respective divisions of Genesis can be recognized by the recurring phrase: “These are the generations of...” The archaeologist P. J. Wiseman has shown that these statements probably represent the “signatures,” so to speak, of the respective writers as they concluded their accounts of the events during their lifetimes. The Hebrew word for “generations” (toledoth) was translated in the Septuagint Greek by the Greek word genesis (used in the New Testament only in Matthew 1:1, there translated “generation”). Thus these divisional notations have indirectly provided the very name for the book of Genesis, which means “beginnings.” It is interesting to note, as an indirect confirmation of this concept of Genesis authorship, that while Genesis is cited at least 200 times in the New Testament, Moses himself is never noted as the author of any of these citations. On the other hand, he is listed at least 40 times in reference to citations from the other four books of the Pentateuch. There are also frequent references to Moses in the later books of the Old Testament, but never in relation to the book of Genesis. In sum, we can be absolutely confident that the events described in Genesis are not merely ancient legends or religious allegories, but the actual eyewitness accounts of the places, events and people of those early days of earth history, written by men who were there, then transmitted down to Moses, who finally compiled and edited them into a permanent record of those ancient times.

1:1 God. This opening verse of the Bible is unique, the foundation of foundations, probably the first words, ever written down, either revealed to Adam, or even written directly by God Himself. One who really believes Genesis 1:1 will have no difficulty believing the rest of Scripture. God (Elohim) is eternal, existing before the universe, and is omnipotent, having created the universe. Therefore, nothing is impossible with God, and He alone gives meaning to everything. No attempt is made in this verse to prove God; it was recorded in the beginning when no one doubted God.

1:1 created. No other cosmogony, whether in ancient paganism or modern naturalism, even mentions the absolute origin of the universe. All begin with the space/time/matter universe, already existing in a primeval state of chaos, then attempt to speculate how it might have “evolved” into its present form. Modern evolutionism begins with elementary particles of matter evolving out of nothing in a “big bang” and then developing through natural forces into complex systems. Pagan pantheism also begins with elementary matter in various forms evolving into complex systems by the forces of nature personified as different gods and goddesses. But, very significantly, the concept of the special creation of the universe of space and time itself is found nowhere in all religion or philosophy, ancient or modern, except here in Genesis 1:1. Appropriately, therefore, this verse records the creation of space (“the heaven”), of time (“in the beginning”), and of matter (“the earth”), the Tri-universe, the space/time/matter continuum which constitutes our physical cosmos. The Creator of this tri-universe is the triune God, Elohim, the uni-plural Old Testament name for the divine “Godhead,” a name which is plural in form (with its Hebrew “im” ending) but commonly singular in meaning. The existence of a transcendent Creator and the necessity of a primeval special creation of the universe is confirmed by the most basic principles of nature discovered by scientists: (1) The law of causality, that no effect can be greater than its cause, is basic in all scientific investigation and human experience. A universe comprising an array of intelligible and complex effects, including living systems and conscious personalities, is itself proof of an intelligent, complex, living, conscious Person as its Cause; (2) The laws of thermodynamics are the most universal and best-proved generalizations of science, applicable to every process and system of any kind, the First Law stating that no matter/energy is now being created or destroyed, and the Second Law stating that all existing matter/energy is proceeding irreversibly toward ultimate equilibrium and cessation of all processes. Since this eventual death of the universe has not yet occurred and since it will occur in time, if these processes continue, the Second Law proves that time (and, therefore, the space/matter/time universe) had a beginning. The universe must have been created, but the First Law precludes the possibility of its self-creation. The only resolution of the dilemma posed by the First and Second Laws is that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The so-called big bang theory of the origin of the cosmos, postulating a primeval explosion of the space/mass/time continuum at the start, beginning with a state of nothingness and then rapidly expanding into the present complex universe, contradicts both these basic laws as well as Scripture.

1:2 the earth. In an attempt to accommodate the supposed evolutionary geological ages in Genesis, certain theologians postulated a long gap in time here between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2, in which it was hoped these ages could be pigeon-holed and forgotten as far as Biblical exegesis was concerned. This gap theory, however, requires a worldwide cataclysm at the end of the geological ages, in order to account for the globally inundated and darkened earth described in Genesis 1:2. The cataclysm, in turn, is hypothetically connected with the fall of Lucifer in heaven (Isaiah 14:9-14) and his expulsion to the earth (Ezekiel 28:12-15), though such a cataclysm is nowhere mentioned in Scripture. However, in addition to its obvious contradictions with other important and clear Bible passages (e.g., Genesis 1:31; Exodus 20:11), the gap theory is self-defeating geologically. The geological age system (which is the necessary framework for modern evolutionism) is based entirely on the principle of uniformitarianism, a premise which precludes any such worldwide cataclysm, and requires the interpreting of earth history by the extrapolation of present geological processes into the remote past. The concept of geological ages is based entirely on a uniformitarian explanation of the fossil beds and sedimentary rocks of the earth’s crust, which would all have been destroyed by the postulated pre-Adamic cataclysm. Thus, any attempt to ignore or explain away the supposed great age of the earth by appeal to the gap theory makes an unnecessary and abortive compromise with evolutionism, and displays a lack of understanding of the geological structures and processes to which evolutionists appeal in postulating their long ages. The real answer to the geological ages is not an imaginary pre-Adamic cataclysm, but the very real cataclysm of the Noahic Deluge (see comments on Genesis 6–9), which provides a much better explanation of the fossil beds and sedimentary rocks, eliminating all evidence of geological ages and confirming the Biblical doctrine of recent creation.

1:2 was without form, and void. The verb “was” in Genesis 1:2 is the regular Hebrew verb of being (hayetha) and does not denote a change of state unless the context so requires. It only rarely is translated “became,” as the gap theory postulates here. Neither does the phrase tohu waw bohu need to mean “ruined and desolated,” as the gap theory requires. The King James translation “without form and void” is the proper meaning.

1:2 was upon the face of the deep. The universe as first called into existence by Elohim was in elemental existence, still “unformed” and unenergized, not yet ready for habitation, “void” (see notes on Psalm 33:6-9; Proverbs 8:22-31; Isaiah 45:18; II Peter 3:5). It would not be perfect (i.e., finished) until the end of creation week, when God would pronounce it “very good” and “finished” (Genesis 1:31–2:3). The “earth” material was suspended in a matrix of water (the “deep”) completely static and therefore in “darkness.”

1:3 God said. As the “Spirit” of God “moved” (Genesis 1:2), so now the Word of God speaks in Genesis 1:3. The result is light, the energizing of the vast cosmos through the marvelous electro-magnetic force system which maintains all structures and processes in matter. These varied energies include not only visible light, but also all the short-wave radiations (ultra-violet, x-rays, etc.) and the long-wave radiations (infra-red, radio waves, etc.), as well as heat, sound, electricity, magnetism, molecular inter-actions, etc. “Light,” the most basic form of energy, is mentioned specifically, but its existence necessarily implies the activation of all forms of electro-magnetic energies. Light was not created, since God Himself dwells in light. On the other hand, He created darkness (Isaiah 45:7). The existence of visible light prior to the establishment of the sun, moon and stars (Genesis 1:16) emphasizes the fact that light (energy) is more fundamental than light givers. God could just as easily (perhaps more easily) have created waves of light energy as He could construct material bodies in which processes function which generate light energy. The first is direct (since God is light!), the second indirect. For the creation of such light generators, see note on Genesis 1:14.

1:5 Day. The use of “day” (Hebrew yom) in Genesis 1:5 is its first occurrence in Scripture, and here it is specifically defined by God as “the light” in the cyclical succession of light and darkness which has, ever since, constituted a solar day. Since the same word is used in defining all later “yoms” as used for this “first” yom, it is incontrovertible that God intends us to know that the days of creation week were of the same duration as any natural solar day. The word yom in the Old Testament almost always is used in this natural way, and is never used to mean any other definite time period than a literal day. This becomes especially clear when it is combined with an ordinal (e.g., “first day”) or with definite bounds (e.g., “evening and morning”), neither of which usages in the Old Testament allow non-literal meanings. It is occasionally, though rarely, used symbolically or in the sense of indefinite time (e.g., “the day of the Lord”), but such usage (as in English or other languages) is always evident from the context itself. Thus the so-called day-age theory, by which the days of creation are assumed to correspond to the ages of geology, is precluded by this definitive use of the word in its first occurrence, God Himself defining it!

1:7 above the firmament. The “waters which were above the firmament” are clearly not the clouds or the vapor which now float in the atmosphere. The Hebrew word al, definitely requires the meaning “above.” Furthermore, the absence of rain (Genesis 2:5) and the rainbow (Genesis 9:13) is not only explained but required by a vapor canopy, not by an atmosphere like that of the present. Furthermore, these waters extending far out into space eventually condensed and fell back to the earth at the time of the Great Deluge, providing the source of the worldwide rainstorm that contributed to the Flood. Although the exact extent and structure of this canopy is still being researched by computer simulations, there are no insuperable scientific problems with the concept.

1:9 dry land. The work of the third day began with the laying of the foundations of the earth (see notes on Job 38:4; Proverbs 8:29; Psalm 33:7) by the power of God’s spoken Word. The waters “under the firmament” apparently still contained all the material elements of the earth in solution or suspension until the energizing Word initiated a vast complex string of chemical and physical reactions, to precipitate, combine and sort all the rock materials and metals comprising the solid earth. The “earth” (Hebrew eretz) thus formed was the same “earth” which had initially been “without form” (the same word eretz is used in Genesis 1:1,2,10), but it was now “dry land,” no longer mixed in the initial watery matrix.

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