THE SEVEN DAYS OF GENESIS

by IM

This story of creation, of God creating the world in six days and resting on the seventh, is one that has endured nearly 3000 years. Originating as a Hebrew text, Christians still believe the same as the Jews; that the world was created in seven days.

 

The Christian creation story is often the most common topic to be debated, not only between believers and non-believers, but within the Christian community itself. Now that we have scientific theories for the origins of the universe and the world, it could be said that cracks have started to appear in the time-old tale.

 

The Hebrew word for ‘day’ is yom. The literal meaning of Yom is more accurately translated as a period of time with a beginning and an end. This revelation suddenly brings a whole different side to the story. Yes, it is very unlikely that the world was created, from a void to a fruitful paradise, in seven periods of 24 hours. Seven periods of time, whether these are thousands or tens of millions of years, could be made to fit the creation story of the Old Testament. The use of yom in the first book of the Pentateuch or Hebrew Bible can be supported by the way it is used in the subsequent books; Moses uses the term yom to describe not only a period of time but also ‘forever’.

 

The Biblical account sticks to an order that, for the most part, science has backed up. When the earth was created, it was completely inhospitable to start with ‘Now the earth was formless and empty.’ Then as the moon was formed and the earth tilted to rotate on an axis, the distinction between day and night were created. And God said, "Let

The first lines of the Book of Genesis in Hebrew.

there be light," and there was light.  God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning - the first day.

 

During the next yom, the earth developed a thick crust over its volcanic and magma-filled surface, allowing for water to collect in vast seas, with dry land in between them.  And God said, "Let the water under the sky be

gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas”.

 

Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it. Once the surface of the earth had become stable enough, and there was carbon dioxide being produced in the atmosphere; plants started to appear. On the fourth day God says "Let the water teem with living creatures” We know from studies on evolution that the first living creatures were formed in the sea, and then later evolved to be able to breathe upon dry land and become the mammals and insects and other animals we know and live with. And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind."

 

The basic order of the Hebrew story does not stray far from what science has shown us. Does this show that modern scientists have been tainted by years of an unquestioned story passed down through the generations? Creationism is a topic that sparks controversy between whoever talks about it. If taken literally, as many Creationist Christians do,  the story could seem quite farfetched to some readers, however on applying some basic knowledge of Hebrew translation issues it can be read in a way that roughly sticks with what we know through science, remarkably accurate for some nomadic desert wanders three millennia ago.