This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.
- 1 Summary
- 2 Discussion
- 2.1 Entire chapter
- 2.2 v.1:1-5: Day 1: Light
- 2.3 v.1:6-8: Day 2: Firmament to divide the waters
- 2.4 v.1:9-13: Day 3: Dry land and plant life
- 2.5 v.1:14-19: Day 4: Lights in the sky: sun, moon, and stars
- 2.6 v.1:20-23: Day 5: Fish and birds
- 2.7 v.1:24-31: Day 6: Land animals and mankind
- 2.8 v.2:1-3: Day 7: Sabbath rest
- 3 Points to ponder
- 4 I have a question
- 5 Resources
- 6 Notes
This heading should be brief and may include an outline of the passage. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →
The bigger picture, The relationship of Chapter 1 to the rest of Chapters 1-11 is discussed at Genesis 1-11.
Outline and Story. The Genesis creation story can be outlined as follows:
- ● "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth ..." (1:1)
- A. The creation (Chapter 1)
Relation to Moses 2 and Abraham 4. The creation story related in Genesis 1 is repeated in both Moses 2 (the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 1) and Abraham 4. Comparison of the differences between these accounts is useful, but much of that discussion is best suited for the pages that address Moses 2 and Abraham 4.
This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →
- Chapter break. In Genesis, the phrase "These are the generations [or descendants] of ..." consistently marks the beginning of a new unit of thought. This can be seen in the complete outline of Genesis. Here the seven days of the creative period are introduced with a similar phrase in verse 1, and in verse 2:4 the next unit of Genesis begins with that phrase.
- Verses 2:1-3 conclude the story of the creation. Thus, while they are not part of the first chapter, they are part of the story told in the first chapter. The original text did not include chapter and verse breaks, nor paragraph breaks (¶). These were all added during about the 1500's. CITE. This is one of many examples where chapter breaks might be better placed in a different location.
- Parallel structure. On the first day, light is created; on the fourth day, the lights are created. On the second day, the sea and the heavens are created; on the fifth day, fish and birds are created. On the third day, the earth (and vegetation) are created; on the sixth day, the animals and humans are created. What is the author suggesting through this parallel structure for the first six days of the creative period? Notice that the seventh day is different. This idea is pursued in Moshe Kline's "The Creation Weave" and in RobertC's summary of Kline's points.
- "Day." The word "day" here comes from the Hebrew "yom" and need not refer to a 24-hour period. See Rodney Whitefield, Ph.D., "The Hebrew Word “Yom” Used with a Number in Genesis 1" for an essay on how the Hebrew word for "day" is used and its ability to refer to an unspecific time period.
- Verse 1: Introductory phrasing. We can read the first verse as an introductory clause rather than as a separate sentence: "At the beginning of the creation of the heavens and the earth, the earth was without form, and void . . . ."
- Verse 1: In the beginning of what? It seems ironic that the opening words of Genesis could also be among the most theologically significant, yet also among the most ambiguous passages in the Bible. There are four generally accepted ways to interpret the Bible's first few verses. Translating verse one with the King James Version, it could be the title of what follows, or it could be the first act of creation itself. The latter interpretation means God created the world from nothing, whereas the former has no such implication. Others translate the first verse as a temporal clause ("In the beginning, when God created the heaven and earth . . ." or "When God began to create . . . "). In either of these cases, the earth already existed as a vast wasteland of chaotic matter.
- All these interpretations have their academic defenders, though admittedly creation ex nihilo is the traditional Christian interpretation of the first verse of Genesis. It should also be noted that, though the Hebrews probably did not think in such terms, they probably would say God had the power to create the world from nothing. Nevertheless, as Joseph Smith indicated, defending ex nihilo on the basis of the Hebrew word translated "created" cannot be sustained. The word is only used for acts of creation by God, and seems applicable to something only God can do. Beyond that, little else can be said.
- The strength of creation from pre-existing matter comes from parallels in Israel's cultural background at the time the account took its final shape. Genesis 2:5-9 is similarly constructed, and there is no doubt matter already existed when God created the world. Isaiah 45 refers to God's creative action in a way that is foreign neither to the pagan tales of creation nor to Genesis 1. It should be noted that Moses 2:1-2 seems to favor the idea God created the heaven and earth from nothing. However, Moses 1:35 introduces a certain amount of ambiguity on the issue. If Moses is ambiguous when it comes to creation ex nihilo, then the Book of Abraham certainly is not.
- Verse 1: Elohim. The Hebrew word translated as "God" is elohim, which is plural in form (-im is a plural ending) but is followed here by a singular verb.
- Verse 1: Created.' The Hebrew word translated as "created" is bara. Just as the English word, it can mean to fashion from something that already exists as well as to make something entirely new. The use of this word contradicts neither the Catholo-Protestant view of creation ex nihilo nor the Latter-day Saint view of creation from preexisting matter.
- Verse 1: Earth. Translated from the Hebrew 'erets meaning earth, land, solid ground. Used over 2500 times in the Old Testament, most often translated land, earth, country, or ground. Here it seems to mean the dry land as separated from the heavens and seas.
- Verses 2-4: "God saw the light, that it was good." There is a general pattern that the verses in this chapter follow. First God says "let" followed by some creative act and then later we see the phrase "and God saw that it was good." In this pattern, the "it" in the phrase "it was good" doesn't clearly refer to any specific item. Instead, it refers more generally to the results of the creation at that stage. This is clear in verses 10, 12, 18, 21, and 25.
- It is often noted that God's last creation, the creation of man, is different from God's other creations in that this creation is not followed with the statement "and God saw that it was good." Interestingly, God's first creation also doesn't quite fit the pattern. In this first case only is the reader told specifically what is good. "God saw the light, that it was good." Further, in this case only, the "it was good" is moved up so that it immediately follows the "let there be" statement. If it were to fall in its normal spot, the statement would fall at the end of verse 5.
- It may be that the reason for these differences is similar to the reason for treating the last creative act differently. Man, collectively, is both good and bad. It is not right to say man is good. In the same way light and darkness are not both good. Light is good, darkness is not.
- Verse 3: Light. D&C 88 also addresses the significance of light. John 1 and several other scriptural passages also speak of Christ as the light of the world.
- Verses 1:6-8: "Firmament." In verses 14, 15, 17 the lights in the sky - sun, moon, and stars - are placed "in the firmament of the heaven." In verse 20 the birds are to fly "in the open firmament of heaven." It thus appears that firmament is used to include everything - whether part of earth's atmosphere or out in space - that is up in the sky or above the surface of the earth - whether that surface is water, land, or both.
- Verses 11-12: "Grass." The word translated "grass" (dsh) means "vegetation."
- Verses 11-12: "Fruit tree." The term "fruit tree" is broader than our modern term. It includes not only what we would call fruit and nut trees (those trees whose fruits are edible), but all trees.
v.1:14-19: Day 4: Lights in the sky: sun, moon, and stars
- Verses 14-19: Creation of lights in the sky. These verses can be read to mean that the sun, moon and stars were not created until this time. Or, they can be read to mean that, in the process of forming the earth, rain had finally cleared the atmosphere sufficiently of volcanic ash, etc. so that the sun, moon, and stars could be seen in the sky from earth's surface.
- Verse 16: "He made the stars also." Does the fact that the phrasing is different for God's creation of the sun and moon on the one hand, and the stars on the other hand, suggest that the stars may have been created at a different time?
- Verse 16: "He made the stars also." This phrase reads like an afterthought, almost an intrusion into the narrative flow. If we would like to translate it in more colloquial terms, we might say, "Oh, by the way, God made the stars too."
- When this creation account was set down in writing, the cultures surrounding Israel worshiped the sun, moon, and stars as gods. One reason the author avoids using the normal names for the sun and moon is because they are also the names of gods. Thus, the author uses the somewhat cryptic terms “greater light” and “lesser light.” The creation of the stars gets tacked on here just for good measure.
- The author was probably not very concerned with the exact timing when God created the stars. Instead, he wanted to place the sun, moon, and stars in their proper place. They are merely creatures made by God to serve a purpose. God explains their purpose in verses 14 and 15; they act as timekeepers and illuminate the earth. That is it. They have no special powers over people, and they are certainly not gods.
v.1:20-23: Day 5: Fish and birds
- Verse 21: Great whales. The term "great whales" means "large sea creatures."
v.1:24-31: Day 6: Land animals and mankind
- Verses 26-27: "Image" and "likeness" of God. These terms appear to be used interchangeably in Genesis. Compare Gen. 5:1,3], also Moses 2:26. In Gen. 1:27, "God created man in his own image." In Gen. 5:1, man was made "in the likeness of God." In Gen. 1:27 God proposes to "make man in our image, after our likeness." In Gen. 5:3 Adam produces a child "in his own likeness, after his image." It seems more likely that "in our image, after our likeness" is a repetition for emphasis rather than a reference to different things. Such repetition, saying the same thing twice in slightly different ways, is common throughout the Old Testament. Trying too hard to find slight shades of difference in meaning between the two similar and repeated items will often cause one to miss the point, which is usually the similarity between the two items.
- The word translated "image" is used ten times in the Hebrew Bible outside Genesis. In all but two cases, it refers to a physical object. This includes six times where this term is used for an idol. The word translated "likeness" is used nineteen times outside Genesis. Most of the time, it denotes an object that bears some resemblance to another thing, though the correspondence need not be exact. Ezekiel seems fond of the term, using it thirteen times. It can mean something like a pattern or blueprint (2 Kgs. 16:10). The word can be used metaphorically, as in Psalm 58:4. See the Bible Study Tools lexicon entries for tselem (translated here as "image") and demuth (translated here as "likeness"), which have links to every verse in which each term is used.
- An argument could be made that "image" and "likeness" in Genesis refers to something more than physical resemblance. Presumably, the author thought of God, Adam, and Seth as beings who possessed qualities beyond mere physical existence. Whether he meant to include those qualities within the terms "image" and "likeness" is another question. The author doesn't make any explicit statement either way. The terms aren't otherwise used this way in the Hebrew Bible. With regard to the author's intent, saying "image" and "likeness" means something besides physical resemblance is an argument from silence.
- Both men and women are created in the image of God.
- Verse 28: Subdue, replenish, dominion. Like mankind, fish and birds were blessed to be fruitful and to multiply. Only mankind, however, is blessed to subdue and replenish the earth. Mankind is also unique in being given dominion over all the animals.
- "Dominion." The root of the Hebrew word translated dominion (rdd) means literally "to tread down or subjugate." It can connote both treading down (dominion) and going down (descent). In other words, it can connote both dominion over something and descent below it. For other Old Testament uses of the same Hebrew word, see Numbers 24:19, Judges 5:13, 1 Kings 4:24, Nehemiah 9:28, and Psalms 49:14 and 72:8.
- For discussions of dominion outside the Old Testament, see Matthew 20:25; Romans 6:9 and 14, and 7:1; 2 Corinthians 1:24; Ephesians 1:21; 1 Peter 4:11 and 5:11; Jude 1:8 and 25; Revelation 1:6; 1 Nephi 14:11 and 22:24; Alma 5:50 and 12:15; D&C 1:35; 76:91, 95, 111, 114, and 119; 109:77; and, especially, 121:4, and 37-46; and Moses 5:1 and 6:15.
- Verses 29-30: "Meat." The term "meat" means "food."
- Verse 31: "All is very good." At the end of each previous creative period, God said that the things created were good. This also happens in verse 25 partway through day 6 after the creation of land animals. But after mankind is created and given charge over the earth, the entire whole is very good.
- Verse 2:3: Blessed and sanctified. In previous verses, when God blesses something, the content of the blessing is immediately explained. In verse 1:22 regarding fish and birds, he "blessed them, saying. be fruitful and multiply." In verse 1:28 he blessed mankind, telling them to be fruitful, etc. Now in verse 2:3 God "blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it." Either the blessing is unspecified, in which case we can hardly be held responsible for knowing the content of the blessing, or as in previous verses the blessing is the same thing as the sanctification.
- Verses 2:1-3: The Seventh Day of Creation by Janet Lisonbee
“On the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” [Gen. 2:2-3]
I have often wondered whether God really rested after He had created the earth and all things in it. It isn’t logical to me, because after He had created man, it appears His work really got started! He, Himself, stated, “This is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” [Moses 1:39] Is it possible that the account of the creation of the world was an overview of the plan of God and that the seventh day has yet to occur?
Enoch was told that the “day of the Lord” [Moses 6:45] would come in the last days and that the righteous would be gathered unto Zion, “which shall come forth out of all the creations which I have made; and for the space of a thousand years the earth shall rest.” [vs. 64] It is interesting to note that the Lord included Zion as part of His creations and then the rest comes.
Additionally, Enoch, in the vision, he heard a voice from the bowels of the earth saying: “Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me? When will my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face?” [Moses 7:48]
Enoch wept and cried unto the Lord, saying “When shall the earth rest? [7:58] The next verse records that he saw Jesus Christ ascend to the Father. Enoch cried unto the Lord saying, “Wilt thou not come again upon the earth?” [7:59]
In answer to those two questions, Jesus Christ answered, “As I live, even so will I come in the last days, in the days of wickedness and vengeance, to fulfill the oath which I have made unto you…and the day shall come that the earth shall rest, but before that day the heavens shall be darkened…and the heavens shall shake, and also the earth; and great tribulations shall be among the children of men, but my people will I preserve.” [7:61] “And it came to pass that Enoch saw the day of the coming of the Son of Man, in the last days, to dwell on the earth in righteousness for the space of a thousand years.” [7:65]
If the “seventh day“ has not occurred yet, then we are still in the “sixth day” of creation in God’s plan. John S. Welch also supports this idea. He wrote, “I first turn to the idea that our creation by God, described in Genesis and the Book of Moses, is, in an important sense, still ongoing. By seeing that the earth’s creative cycle has not ended and that we are still in its sixth creative day, we can situate God’s omnipotence in this temporal world.” [BYU Studies, “Why Bad Things Happen at All” June 18, 2007, p. 77] He explained that chapter two of the Book of Moses is an account of a spiritual creation and that chapter three is the account of the physical creation of the world and of Adam and Eve. The Book of Moses continues on into the history of mankind; stopping with the story of Noah. Welch says, “It is significant, however, that the Book of Moses, never describes or mentions day seven a second time. The book ends, not with the completion of humanity and God resting from His labors, but with the commandment to have faith, repent, be baptized, and receive the Holy Ghost, an invitation to become perfected and completed in the future…Day seven in the physical creation is yet to come in the millennial or celestial age.” [IBID, pg. 80]
The Sabbath Day or the Day of the Lord, was instituted for two reasons: to commemorate God’s day of rest in regards to the creation and also the redemption of the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage. “Remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm; therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day.” [Deut. 5:15] It is interesting to note that Paul told the Colossians that the Sabbath Day was a “shadow of things to come.” [Colossians 2:16-17] Hence the Sabbath Day could be designed to be a type and a shadow of the great Millennium where the righteous enter into the rest of the Lord, and the deliverance of the righteous from the “prince of darkness”, for Satan will be bound a thousand years.
The scriptures are clear that the Lord’s rest is to enter into His presence. In the Millennium, the Lord will personally rule and reign. Alma taught that we must repent and do works of righteousness in order that we might enter into the rest of the Lord. The righteous who enter into the rest of the Lord, after this life, are in a state of paradise where they rest from all their sorrow, troubles, and cares. [Alma 40:12] The Millennium is also day of rest from strife, pestilence, war, sickness and sin.
However, the seventh day starts out in darkness. Several scriptural references illustrate this, for example in Joel 2:1-3, “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness.” Amos also recorded, “The day of the Lord is darkness and not light.” [Amos 5:18]
Why would the “day of the Lord” or the Lord’s Day be darkness? It is interesting to note that in the scriptural account of the creation, each segment or “day” was written as “and the evening and the morning was the first day.” [or second or third day, etc.] In other words, the day started at night! This is why the Jews start the new day at sunset. It seems likely that the Lord would be consistent and start His day symbolically and literally with darkness.
There are other instances regarding the Lord’s second coming starting off in darkness. The Lord has likened Himself as the Bridegroom and the Church as the Bride. In the parable of the ten virgins, the Lord states, “And at midnight, was a cry made, Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him.” [Matthew 25:6] Likewise, Peter declared, “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” [2 Peter 3:10]
The scriptures state that the darkness and destruction are a prelude to His actual coming. “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.” [Joel 2:31] “The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord: the mighty men shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness.” [Zephaniah 1:14-15]
The Nephites also experienced great darkness and destruction before Jesus actually appeared to them. “And there was not any light seen, neither fire, nor glimmer, neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars, for so great were the mists of darkness which were upon the face of the land.” [3 Nephi 8:22] President Ezra Taft Benson stated, “The record of the Nephite history just prior to the Savior’s visit reveals many parallels to our own day as we anticipate the Savior’s second coming. [Ensign, May 1987]
The righteous Nephites/Lamanites were watching for the darkness that would precede the Lord‘s coming. “The thirty and third year had passed away; and the people began to look with great earnestness for the sign which had been given by the prophet Samuel, the Lamanite, yea, for the time that there should be darkness for the space of three days over the face of the land.” [3 Nephi 8:2-3] There is no record if there was any preparation for those days of darkness, whether the righteous had gathered to escape the great destructions, whether they stored up food or any other precautions. The Lord did say that the more righteous were spared, however.
All of this darkness and destruction is aimed at the wicked. The earth will be cleansed before the Lord comes to reign. “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay down the haughtiness of the terrible.” [2 Nephi 23:9-11]
Paul, however, counseled the Saints, “For ye yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night… But ye brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are the children of light, and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” [1 Thessalonians 5:2-6]
Likewise, the Lord told Joseph Smith, “And again, verily I say unto you, the coming of the Lord draweth nigh, and it overtaketh the world as a thief in the night---therefore, gird up your loins, that you may be the children of light, and that day shall not overtake you as a thief.” [D & C 106:4-5]
Just as the light of the morning follows the darkness of the night, so shall the second coming of Jesus Christ. In the Pearl of Great Price, we read: “For as the light of the morning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, and covereth the whole earth, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.” [JST Matthew 1:26]
The effect of Jesus Christ’s visit to the Americas was so great that these people lived in a state of happiness for many years. “And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people. And there were no envying, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.” [4 Nephi 15-16] Imagine how wonderful it will be when Christ reigns for a thousand years! “For I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory, with all the hosts thereof, and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand.” [Doc. & Cov. 29:11]
“Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” [Rev. 20:4-5]
The Sabbath Day should be our day of rest in that we strive to have the Lord’s Spirit with us, that we rest from our temporal labors and concerns, and that we remember the Lord’s great deliverance of our souls from the bondage of sin in preparation for the great Millennium yet to come.
Joseph Smith recorded, “We are to understand that as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth, even so, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things, and shall redeem all things, except that which he hath not put into his power, when he shall have sealed all things, unto the end of all things.” [Doctrine and Covenants 77:12]
[For further study on the Sabbath day, see the article, “Shabbat Hamalka - The Sabbath Queen”, by Janet Lisonbee, Meridian Magazine]
Points to ponder
This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →
- Verses 1:26, 28: God's charge to mankind. How do we comply appropriately with the charge: (1) to be fruitful and multiply (a charge also given to animals), (2) to replenish and subdue the earth (a charge unique to mankind), and (3) to have dominion over all of creation?
I have a question
This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →
- Entire chapter: Relation of Genesis, Moses, and Abraham accounts. Why have we been given so many accounts of creation? What is the focus or point of each? What is the significance of the differing sequence in Abraham?
- Creation What does this term mean? What is really being "created" in this account? Is the purpose of this account to give us a scientific understanding of the origin of the universe or planet, or is there some other purpose? What is the value of this account given our modern scientific understanding?
- Spiritual then physical creation? With a similar account in Gen 2:1-5, is this speaking of a spiritual creation prior to the physical creation? Compare Abr 4:1-5 and Moses 2:1-5.
- Why is creation the first thing we read about in the Old Testament? Is it because that is what happened first, or is there some more important reason?
- What does the phrase "in the beginning" mean? What does it mean that God created heaven and earth "in the beginning" but heaven wasn't created until the second day (vs. 8) and the earth wasn't created until the third day (vs. 9-10)?
- What is "the heaven" and what is "the earth"? Are we being told about the creation of what we would consider the planet earth, or is this something else?
- What is the significance of dividing creation into two parts, heaven and earth? Why not begin, instead, "God created everything"?
- Who is "God" of creation referred to here?
- What does it mean to create?
- What does it mean that "the earth was without form, and void" if the earth wasn't created until the third day (vs. 9-10)?
- What is "the face of the deep"? Is this the same as "the face of the waters?"
- What is "the Spirit of God" and how does it move?
- Some say this verse should read: "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. But the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters." If changing "and" to "but" is correct, what does this verse tell us?
- What is the significance of God saying "let there be light"? Is he creating light, or somehow just allowing it to shine? Where was the light when his Spirit was moving upon the face of the waters?
- Notice how terse this sentence is in each version of the creation story. Does that terseness show us anything?
- Light and darkness. God calls the light "good." What does that mean. How can light be either good or bad?
- Why does he not call the darkness "good?"
- Does the darkness mentioned here have any meaning symbolically as evil?
- Moses 4:4 differs significantly from this verse. What does that difference tell us?
- Among many ancient people, including those in the Near East, the name of a thing was identical to its essential nature and existence. As a result, to name a thing was to bring it into being. This may have a great deal to do with the emphasis on naming in this ancient account. How does understanding the significance of naming help us understand the significance of those related beliefs and practices?
- What is the "firmament" in the midst of the waters?
- Verses 6-7: Waters. What are the waters? Why waters rather than water? How can their be waters below and above the firmament?
- It appears that the writer is using an ancient view of the universe, with "waters above" and "waters below," and the land on which we live in between. Is that relevant to understanding this chapter? If so, how?
- How is heaven a firmament? Why is Heaven capitalized here?
- How are the waters under heaven gathered together? What does it mean that they are together in "one place"?
- What is the dry land? Why are we just told that it appears, rather than how it appears?
- Many ancient people believed that the sea was a divine power, and some portrayed the creation as a battle between the sky god and the sea god. To those people, this is a rebuke: the waters recede because God commands them to do so; there is no battle between God and the elements and God is in complete control. But we no longer think of the sea that way, so there's no point in rebuking us. Are these verses still meaningful? Assuming that they are, what might these verses say to us?
- Why is it that the land and the sea only now receive a name? Didn't they already exist?
- To what lights are these verses referring?
- How does this creation differ from that we saw in verses 3 through 5?
- In what ways do the lights in the heavens separate the day from the night?
- In what ways are the lights signs? In what ways do they mark the seasons?
- What do learn about our Father and his creation from these divisions?
- The evening and the morning. Notice that each of the creative periods ends with the statement that "the evening and the morning were the X day." Why is it not instead the morning and the evening?
- Does this verse and the next teach that God thinks of himself principally as a ruler and that he created us in his image so that other creatures would be subservient to us?
This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →
Verse 1: In the beginning
- Verse 1: Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith's comments on the first word of the Bible are here.
- Verse 1: Bet before aleph. See RobertC's creation subpage for a discussion of Jewish lore on why the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, bet, is the first letter of Genesis, as opposed to the first letter, aleph.
- Ex nihilo creation. Blake Ostler has written about ex nihilo creation from a Mormon perspective in a response to Copan and Craig in The New Mormon Challenge. Ostler's essay, "The Doctrine of Creation Ex Nihilo was Created out of Nothing: A Response to Copan and Craig, Part 1: The Scriptural Argument, argues that ex nihilo creation is not consistent with scripture or science.
- The construct form. Rav Micahel Hattin describes in his essay "In the Beginning" discusses a grammatical problem with the traditional translation of verse 1. A more correct translation might be "In the beginning of the Lord's creating of heaven and earth". Theological implications are also considered.
- With wisdom. The Targum Yerushalmi translates "In the beginning" as "With wisdom". Implications of this reading can be found here.
- Analysis of other scriptures. See the thread Targum: Genesis 1:1 at et-ha'adam's blog for alternate texts and scriptures talking about the beginning of creation.
Heaven and Earth
- See Seely, Paul H., The Geographical Meaning of Earth and Seas in Genesis 1:10, Westminster Theological Journal 59: 231-55.
- Seely, Paul H., The Firmament and the Water Above, Westminster Theological Journal 53:227-40.
- Seely, Paul H., The Firmament and the Water Above: Part II, Westminster Theological Journal 54:47-63.
- Verses 9-13: Seely, Paul H., The Geographical Meaning of Earth and Seas in Genesis 1:10, Westminster Theological Journal 59: 231-55.
Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.