Exegetical and Hermeneutical Commentary of Genesis 1:4 – Bible Commentary

Exegetical and Hermeneutical Commentary of Genesis 1:4

And God saw the light, that [it was] good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

4. And God good ] This phrase is repeated ( Gen 1:10 ; Gen 1:12 ; Gen 1:18 ; Gen 1:21 ; Gen 1:25, and in slightly amplified form, Gen 1:31) at each successive creative act, except on the second day ( Gen 1:8, where see note). The purpose of this sentence is to express (1) that the phenomena of the natural world, in their respective provinces, fulfil the will of the Creator, (2) that what is in accordance with His will is “good” in His sight.

and God divided darkness ] By this simple and concrete expression it is implied, that God assigned their own places to “light” and “darkness” respectively, and that, before the moment of separation, the light had been confused and entangled in the darkness. The two elements were now divided, and apportioned to different dwelling places, cf. Job 38:19 quoted above.

Fuente: The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Verse 4. God divided the light from the darkness.] This does not imply that light and darkness are two distinct substances, seeing darkness is only the privation of light; but the words simply refer us by anticipation to the rotation of the earth round its own axis once in twenty-three hours, fifty-six minutes, and four seconds, which is the cause of the distinction between day and night, by bringing the different parts of the surface of the earth successively into and from under the solar rays; and it was probably at this moment that God gave this rotation to the earth, to produce this merciful provision of day and night. For the manner in which light is supposed to be produced, see Ge 1:16, under the word sun.

Fuente: Adam Clarke’s Commentary and Critical Notes on the Bible

He observed with approbation that it was pleasant and amiable, agreeable to Gods purpose and mans use; and made a distinction or separation between them in place, time, and use, that the one should succeed and shut out the other, and so by their vicissitudes make the day and the night.

Fuente: English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

4. divided the light fromdarknessrefers to the alternation or succession of the one tothe other, produced by the daily revolution of the earth round itsaxis.

Fuente: Jamieson, Fausset and Brown’s Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

And God saw the light, that it was good,…. Very pleasant and delightful, useful and beneficial; that is, he foresaw it would be good, of great service, as Picherellus k interprets it; for as yet there were no inhabitants of the earth to receive any advantage by it; see Ec 11:7 besides, it was doubtless good to answer some present purposes, to prepare for the work of the two following days, before the great luminary was formed; as to dispel the darkness of heaven, and that which covered the deep; to rarefy, exhale, and draw up the lighter parts of the chaos, in order to form the wide extended ether, the expanded air, and the surrounding atmosphere, while the Spirit of God was agitating the waters, and separating them from the earthy parts; and which also might serve to unite and harden those which were to form the dry land, and also to warm that when it appeared, that it might bring forth grass, herbs, and fruit trees:

and God divided the light from the darkness: by which it should seem that they were mixed together, the particles of light and darkness; but “by what way is the light parted”, severed and divided from darkness, is a question put to men by the Lord himself, who only can answer it, Job 38:24 he has so divided one from the other that they are not together at the same place and time; when light is in one hemisphere, darkness is in the other l; and the one by certain constant revolutions is made to succeed the other; and by the motion of the one, the other gives way; as well as also God has divided and distinguished them by calling them by different names, as Aben Ezra, and is what next follows:

k In Cosmopoeiam, p. 267. l Milton in the place above referred to says, it was divided by the hemisphere. Paradise Lost, B. 7. l. 243, &c.

Fuente: John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

4 And God saw the light Here God is introduced by Moses as surveying his work, that he might take pleasure in it. But he does it for our sake, to teach us that God has made nothing without a certain reason and design. And we ought not so to understand the words of Moses as if God did not know that his work was good, till it was finished. But the meaning of the passage is, that the work, such as we now see it, was approved by God. Therefore nothing remains for us, but to acquiesce in this judgment of God. And this admonition is very useful. For whereas man ought to apply all his senses to the admiring contemplation of the works of God, (56) we see what license he really allows himself in detracting from them.

(56) “ L’homme devroit estendere tous ses sens a considerer, et avoir en admiration les oeuvres de Dieu.” — “Man ought to apply all his senses in considering and having in admiration the works of God.” — French Tr.

Fuente: Calvin’s Complete Commentary

(4) And God saw.This contemplation indicates, first, lapse of time; and next, that the judgment pronounced was the verdict of the Divine reason.

That it was good.As light was a necessary result of motion in the world-mass, so was it indispensable for all that was to follow, inasmuch as neither vegetable nor animal life can exist without it. But the repeated approval by the Deity of each part and portion of this material universe (comp. Psa. 104:31) also condemns all Manichan theories, and asserts that this world is a noble home for man, and life a blessing, in spite of its solemn responsibilities.

And God divided . . . The first three creative days are all days of order and distribution, and have been called the three separations. But while on the first two days no new thing was created, but only the chaotic matter (described in Gen. 1:2) arranged, on day three there was the introduction of vegetable life. The division on the first day does not imply that darkness has a separate and independent existence, but that there were now periods of light and darkness; and thus by the end of the first day our earth must have advanced far on its way towards its present state. (See Note, Gen. 1:5.) It is, however, even more probable that the ultimate results of each creative word are summed up in the account given of it. No sooner did motion begin, than the separation of the air and water from the denser particles must have begun too. The immediate result was light; removed by a greater interval was the formation of an open space round the contracting earth-ball; still more remote was the formation of continents and oceans; but the separations must have commenced immediately that the wind of Elohim began to brood upon and move the chaotic mass. How far these separations had advanced before there were recurrent periods of light and darkness is outside the scope of the Divine narrative, which is not geological, but religious.

Fuente: Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

‘And God saw the light, that it was good, and God separated the light from the darkness, and God called the light day and the darkness he called night. And there was evening and there was morning one day.’

“The light, that it was good”. It is not that God was in any doubt about the outcome of His word. These words are just to confirm that His word achieved what He wanted to achieve. He saw that it was as good as He knew it would be. His creation was in perfect harmony with His desires.

Now He separates light from darkness so that there will be periods of both, and the periods of light He calls ‘day’ ( yom) and the periods of darkness He calls ‘night’. So the term ‘yom’ is used in this sentence with two meanings. In the one it describes the periods of light, in the other it describes the whole first period of creation. This reminds us that even today long periods of light in the Arctic are called an ‘Arctic day’. The term ‘day’ is not quite so circumscribed as some suggest, even in our scientifically oriented era.

The truth is that this verse presents a problem for any ‘natural day’ view (see introduction in book comments). Not only is ‘ yom ’ shown to be capable of different meanings, and therefore not quite as specific a word as some would suggest, but also total darkness, where there is no light, and never has been, is called ‘evening’. This is a strange and unnatural use of the term evening. Surely evening, in its natural meaning, is the gloaming going into night, not the total darkness before there was light? Evening was the time for rest and relaxation, but when morning came it was the time for action. So in creation’s story, having created all things, God rested and relaxed and then He acted. So in each yom, evening is the time before God acted.

Furthermore, are we then to assume that having created the heavens and the earth He waited the length of a so-called ‘natural night, before saying ‘let there be light’, and then produced a ‘day’ of ‘normal’ length? Surely not. God works in His own time. This ‘day’ is certainly extraordinary. At first, light pervades the darkness, and then God acts to separate them so as to form periods of light and darkness (of ‘days’ and ‘nights’) which are not said to be of any determinate length. Light is made the basic yeast of the universe and of the world, and then it becomes something which contrasts with the darkness. Is this a natural day? It is rather the principle of light and darkness, and its fluctuation, that is established here. He made the process. There is no suggestion that it is formulated into time cycles. That is something that he stresses happened on ‘day four’, when the sun specifically determines the length of a day.

So we are asked by some to assume that God, for the first three ‘days, artificially made light appear according to the time span that will be fixed on day four. If this is the natural meaning of the words it appears a little strange. Surely the truth is that we are meant by the writer to see these first periods as being accomplished in God’s time, and thus within the time span of His days? And thus that the ‘evening and the morning’ of the first ‘day’, and of each ‘day’, is simply the use of a man-oriented description to indicate start and finish and to describe a completed time period, the length of which we do not know, indicating the completion of the first stage of God’s purposes. God’s nights results in God’s days. This is not pandering to science, but simply using God-given intelligence in considering the narrative. What the writer is saying is that God is laying the basis for what is to follow, in His own way. If ‘evening’ is not used in its ‘natural meaning’, why should ‘day’ be?

“There was evening and there was morning one day.” The Hebrew day was measured from sunset to sunset, and this thus indicated the passing of a ‘day’. But on this first day there had been no evening, unless we see it as merely a period of waiting and relaxing in readiness for the next act. And it had not resulted from a sunset, for there was no light. The phrase is metaphorical describing an evening and morning of God’s activity expressed as a day of God, concerning which a thousand years is but a watch in the night (Psa 90:4).

Fuente: Commentary Series on the Bible by Peter Pett

Gen 1:4. That it was good The word tob, signifies not only what is goodly and pleasant in itself, but what is useful and fit for the end to which it is designed. And surely it could not be more properly applied than at the first, to that light, which, as Cowley calls it, is,

“Active Nature’s watchful life and health, Her joy, her ornament, and wealth.”
The world, which now is a palace, would have been a dungeon without it. Truly light is sweet, says Solomon: it rejoiceth the heart. And if the light be so good, how good must he be who is the fountain of it, from whom we receive it, and to whom we owe all praise for it, and all the services we do by it.

Fuente: Commentary on the Holy Bible by Thomas Coke

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Several sweet thoughts arise here. God’s approbation of his work.

The light was good: Jas 1:17 . And how good and precious is Jesus who cometh to us from the Father, and who is the light and the life of men. God divided the light from darkness. Yes: there is an everlasting separation, as in the natural world so in the spiritual, between light and darkness. 2Co 6:14 . The first day of the world was a day of light: so the first day in the spiritual world, in the new life in Jesus, is light indeed from the dead. Thus there is a beautiful correspondence in both. Hail, thou holy Lord! As the sons of God shouted for joy when the light at creation sprung out of darkness: so angels celebrated thy victory when, by the glories of thy resurrection, life arose from the dead. And how ought thy people to adore thee, who are interested in this great salvation?

Fuente: Hawker’s Poor Man’s Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Gen 1:4 And God saw the light, that [it was] good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

Ver. 4. And God saw the light that it was good. ] – Moveover he foresaw , so one renders it. a He saw this long before, but he would have us to see it; he commends the goodness of this work of his to us. Good it is surely, and a goodly creature: “sweet,” saith Solomon; Ecc 11:7 “comfortable,” saith David. Psa 97:11 Which when one made question of – “That’s a blind man’s question,” said the philosopher. b What is it then to enjoy him that is light essential? The Platonists (who were blind in divinis , and could not see afar off) could say that he was a blessed man, who enjoyed God, as the eye doth enjoy the light. c

And God divided the light, &c. ] – Let not us confound them, 2Co 6:14 1Th 5:5-7 and so alter God’s order by doing deeds of darkness, in a day of grace, in a land of light. What make owls at Athens? or such “spots,” , among saints, as “count it pleasure to riot in the daytime?” 2Pe 2:13 It was a shame that it should be said, There was never less wisdom in Greece, than in the time of the seven wise men of Greece. d It was a worse “shame,” that it should be said to the Corinthians, that “some of them had not the knowledge of God”; 1Co 15:34 and that such fornication was found among them as was not heard of among the heathen. 1Co 5:1 For what fellowship hath light with darkness? 2Co 6:14 Surely none. Our morning shadows fall as far as they can toward the west, evening toward the east, noonday toward the north, &c. Alexander having a soldier of his name, that was a coward, he bade him either abandon the name of Alexander, or be a soldier. e

a praeviderat autem – Zaberellus

b , Aristotle

c Beatum esse moninem Deo fruentem, sicut occulus luce. Augustine, De Civitate Dei , l. 3.

d Lactant.

e Plutarch

Fuente: John Trapp’s Complete Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

saw. Occurs 7 times in Introduction. App-5.

good = beautiful (Ecc 3:11).

divided. Occurs twice. App-5. Each day’s work called “good”, except the 2nd, because nothing created on that day: only division made.

Fuente: Companion Bible Notes, Appendices and Graphics

that: Gen 1:10, Gen 1:12, Gen 1:18, Gen 1:25, Gen 1:31, Ecc 2:13, Ecc 11:7

the light from the darkness: Heb. between the light and between the darkness

Reciprocal: Gen 2:4 – the generations Job 38:19 – the way Psa 104:20 – makest Joh 9:5 – I am

Fuente: The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Gen 1:4. God saw the light, &c. He beheld it with approbation, as being exactly what he designed it to be, pleasant and useful, and perfectly adapted to answer its intended end. God divided Made a separation between the light and the darkness, as to time, place, and use, that the one should succeed and exclude the other, and that by their vicissitudes they should make the day and the night. Though the darkness was now scattered by the light, it has its place, because it has its use: for as the light of the morning befriends the business of the day, so the shadows of the evening befriend the repose of the night. God has thus divided between light and darkness, because he would daily impress upon our minds that this is a world of mixture and changes. In heaven there is perpetual light and no darkness; in hell, utter darkness and no light: but in this world they are counter-changed, and we pass daily from the one to the other, that we may expect the like vicissitudes in the providence of God.

Fuente: Joseph Bensons Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Darkness was not a creation like light but the absence of light (cf. Gen 1:2). Darkness (Heb. hosek) in Scripture often connotes evil (cf. Exo 10:21-23; 1Sa 2:9; Job 3:4-5; Psa 35:6; Joe 2:2).

Moses presented God as knowing what was good for man (wise) and as providing that for him (loving). This not only reveals aspects of the Creator’s character, but it also prepares the reader for the tragedy of the Fall (ch. 3).

Fuente: Expository Notes of Dr. Constable (Old and New Testaments)