New Defender's Study Bible Notes
1:20 open firmament. Both the “lights” (Genesis 1:15) and the “fowl” are said to be in the “firmament of heaven.” However, the fowl were to be in the “open” (Hebrew pene) firmament of heaven, or better, “the face of the firmament of heaven.” Thus, birds fly only in the lower reaches of the vast spaces of the heavens. Or, it may be that there are two different “firmaments of heaven.”
1:21 great whales. Fish and other marine organisms were created simultaneously with birds and other flying creatures, in obvious contradiction to the sequence imagined by evolutionists. The “moving creature” (Hebrew sherets) of Genesis 1:20 is elsewhere always translated “creeping thing,” and here evidently refers to marine invertebrates and marine reptiles, as well as the fishes. The word translated “great whales” (Hebrew tannin) is elsewhere the regular word for “dragons,” and most probably refers to the great marine reptiles often called dinosaurs.
1:21 living creature. It is significant that the word “create” (Hebrew bara) is applied to the introduction of animal life, but not to plant life. Plants are highly complex replicating chemical systems, as are animals, with reproductive programs based in the remarkable DNA molecule in both cases. However, animals possess another entity–that of consciousness–which plants do not possess, and this required a second act of true creation (the first was in Genesis 1:1, the creation of the basic space/mass/time universe). Such “consciousness” is the essential meaning of the Hebrew word nephesh, commonly translated “soul,” but in Genesis 1:20 (its first occurrence) translated “life,” and then in Genesis 1:21 “living creature.” In Genesis 2:7, referring to man, it is rendered “living soul.” Thus, both men and animals possess the specially-created nephesh.