Notes by Autumn Light

On Hebrew, English, translation, editing, and more—by Jonathan Orr-Stav

Does the text in Genesis indicate literal or figurative “days” of creation?

1 Comment

It would nice, of course, to reconcile the biblical account of Creation with the modern scientific one—and the idea that the biblical “day” there was not really a day as we know it, but something much longer, like, say, an eon, is the most common method for doing so.

The real problem with such an interpretation is the basic assumption that the authors of the Book of Genesis—or more to the point, the original conceivers of the Creation legend, which probably dates back to Mesopotamia, thousands of years before the Hebrew Bible was written—somehow had an authoritative knowledge of how the world was created. And there’s no reason to think that—unless, of course, you believe that they had a “direct line” to the Creator Himself. Which, of course, is the crux of the argument between believers and non-believers, and not an argument that we can hope to resolve here, or anywhere else.

But based purely on the Hebrew wording itself—no, there is nothing to suggest that a “day” in Gen. Chap 1 is anything other than a day as we know it. On the contrary, the story is intended to explain why days and nights came about, not just the world, and to demonstrate the magnificence of God for achieving all this within only seven days and nights.

(Originally written in reply to a question at Quora.com)

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Author: יונתן אור-סתיו | Jonathan Orr-Stav

Hebrew-English translator, editor, author. מתרגם עברית–אנגלית, עורך באנגלית, וסופר.

One thought on “Does the text in Genesis indicate literal or figurative “days” of creation?

  1. I initially balked at the hefty ‘hatz’a’ot machir’ (project-bid) I was faxed from ‘Supreme Being, Ltd’ for ‘creating the known Universe’. After all, 30,000 shekels, not including VAT is not ‘inyon sh’mah’b’khach’ (something trivial)
    Thinking I made the right decision though, looking back: his outfit did a perfect job, finished it, as promised ‘before the hag’im’ in only One Week, and handed me and my wife the keys, there in the parking lot in Jaffa where he stores left-over materials. I’m now busy giving names to all the animals and plants I got for my hard-earned money.
    Only one bitch: ‘Hezi’, the supervisor, told me there’d be signs on the trees sayin’ which ones are good to eat. Ha, no signs, as of , like, the last 5000 years I been waiting. Typical Israeli ‘cablan’ (contractor). My wife made fruit salad from one tree there in the new Garden, and ever since I’ve spent my free time mainly ‘shopping for clothes’. Oh, and sms-ing the town-council to come and catch the snakes.
    Oh well; reading the net-stuff on physics and Cosmology, the job shoulda taken about 3 billion years, if I’d have gone with the ‘Standard Model’ competition. So yeah, I lucked out, ‘tachliss’.
    Seriously (in a hard transition, ha), a nice answer to the Question here, guy.

    Liked by 1 person

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