Exegetical and Hermeneutical Commentary of Genesis 1:5 – Bible Commentary

Exegetical and Hermeneutical Commentary of Genesis 1:5

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

5. And God called ] That God should give names to things is to our minds a strange and almost unintelligible thought. To the Hebrews, on the contrary, it seemed a natural feature of the story. To them the Hebrew language was that in which the Divine Will was expressed; and, to their minds, the Hebrew name and the thing which it designated had been rendered inseparable by Divine Decree on the day of its creation.

Observe that the names “Day” and “Night” are given to “light” and “darkness,” although the heavenly bodies are not made until the fourth day.

and there was ] The “day” with the Hebrews began in the evening. It was reckoned from 6 p.m. to 6 p.m. The Israelite writer, therefore, in speaking of the days of Creation, describes them as ordinary days with their succession of evening and morning. There is no need to suppose, as some have done, that the “evening” in this verse refers to the pre-existent darkness of Gen 1:2, and that “morning” denotes the period of light before the creative work of the second day. In the mention of the days, the Hebrew story of Creation is perfectly simple and natural. With childlike faith, it told how the Creator completed His work in a time corresponding to six earthly days, each consisting of evening and morning. The hallowing of the seventh day, in chap. Gen 2:2-3, presupposes the literal character of the previous six days.

Suggestions have frequently been made in the course of the last half century, that each of the six days is to be understood as a period of indefinite duration. But it is important to remember that the facts, with which modern science has familiarized us, respecting the antiquity of the earth, as shewn by geology, and our solar system, as shewn by astronomy, were wholly unknown until quite recent times. We must be careful, therefore, not to read back such notions into the minds of the writer and of those for whom he wrote this chapter. The assumption that the inspired record must be literally accurate has led to much misinterpretation of Scripture as well as to great mental confusion and religious distress.

The difficulties, which have been felt with regard to the mention of “days,” have arisen from the natural wish to reconcile the plain and childlike language of ancient unscientific Semitic story, which accounted for the origin of the world, with the abstruse and dazzling discoveries of modern Physical Science. The two must be kept absolutely distinct.

one day ] So the Hebrew, not “the first day”; but “one day,” LXX , Lat. dies unus.

Fuente: The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Gen 1:5

And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night:–

Light, natural and spiritual

The Holy Ghost mysteriously quickens the dead heart, excites emotions, longings, desires.

DIVINE FIAT: God said, Let there be light, and there was light. The Lord Himself needed no light to enable Him to discern His creatures. He looked upon the darkness, and resolved that He would transform its shapeless chaos into a fair and lovely world.

1. We shall observe that the work of grace by which light enters the soul is a needful work. Gods plan for the sustaining of vegetable and animal life, rendered light necessary. Light is essential to life. It is light which first shows us our lost estate; for we know nothing of it naturally. This causes pain and anguish of heart; but that pain and anguish are necessary, in order to bring us to lay hold on Jesus Christ, whom the light next displays to us. No man ever knows Christ till the light of God shines on the cross.

2. Next observe it was a very early work. Light was created on the first day, not on the third, fourth, or sixth, but on the first day; and one of the first operations of the Spirit of God in a mans heart is to give light enough to see his lost estate, and to perceive that he cannot save himself from it but must look elsewhere.

3. It is well for us to remember that light giving is a Divine work. God said, Let there be light, and there was light.

4. This Divine work is wrought by the Word. God did not sit in solemn silence and create the light, but He spake. He said, Light be, and light was. So the way in which we receive light is by the Word of God. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Christ Himself is the essential Word, and the preaching of Christ Jesus is the operative Word. We receive Christ actually when Gods power goes with Gods Word–then have we light. Hence the necessity of continually preaching the Word of God.

5. While light was conferred in connection with the mysterious operation of the Holy Spirit, it was unaided by the darkness itself. How could darkness assist to make itself light? Nay, the darkness never did become light. It had to give place to light, but darkness could not help God. The power which saves a sinner is not the power of man.

6. As this light was unassisted by darkness, so was it also unsolicited. There came no voice out of that thick darkness, Oh God, enlighten us; there was no cry of prayer. The first work of grace in the heart does not begin with mans desire, but with Gods implanting the desire.

7. This light came instantaneously.

8. As it is instantaneous, so it is irresistible. Darkness must give place when God speaks.

DIVINE OBSERVATION. And God saw the light. Does He not see everything? Yes, beloved, He does; but this does not refer to the general perception of God of all His works, but is a something special. God saw the light–He looked at it with complacency, gazed upon it with pleasure. A father looks upon a crowd of boys in a school and sees them all, but there is one boy whom he sees very differently from all the rest: he watches him with care: it is his own child, and his eye is specially there. Though you have come here sighing and groaning because of inbred sin, yet the Lord sees what is good in you, for He has put it there. Satan can see the light and he tries to quench it: God sees it and preserves it. The Lord watches you, and He sees the light. He has His eye always fixed upon the work of grace that is in your soul.

DIVINE APPROBATION. God saw the light, that it was good. Light is good in all respects.

1. The natural light is good. Solomon says, It is a pleasant thing to behold the sun; but you did not want Solomon to inform you upon that point. Any blind man who will tell you the tale of his sorrows will be quite philosopher enough to convince you that light is good.

2. Gospel light is good. Blessed are the eyes which see the things which ye see. You only need to travel into heathen lands, and witness the superstition and cruelty of the dark places of the earth, to understand that gospel light is good.

3. As for spiritual light, those that have received it long for more of it, that they may see yet more and more the glory of heavens essential light! O God, Thou art of good the unmeasured Sea; Thou art of light both Soul, and Source, and Centre.

(1) It must be good from its source. The light emanates from God, in whom is no darkness at all, and, as it comes absolutely and directly from Him, it must be good.

(2) It is good, again, when we consider its likeness. Light is like to God. It is a thing so spiritual, so utterly to be ungrasped by the hand of flesh, that it has often been selected as the very type of God. Ignatius used to call himself, Theophorus, or the God bearer. The title might seem eccentric, but the fact is true of all the saints–they bear God about with them. God dwelleth in His saints as in a temple.

(3) It is good, also, in its effect. It is good for a man to know his danger–it makes him start from it. It is good for him to know the evil of his sin–it makes him avoid it, and repent of it.

(4) It is good, moreover, because it glorifies God. Where were Gods glory in the outward universe without light? Could we gaze upon the landscape? Spiritual light shows us our emptiness, our poverty, our wretchedness, but it reveals in blessed contrast His fulness, His riches, His freeness of grace. The more light in the soul, the more gratitude to God.

(5) Let me say of the work of God in the soul as compared to light, that it is good in the widest possible sense. The new nature which God puts in us never sins: it cannot sin, because it is born of God. What! say you, does a Christian never sin? Not with the new nature; the new nature never sins: the old nature sins. It is the darkness which is dark: the light is not darkness; the light is always light.

DIVINE SEPARATION. It appears that though God made light there was still darkness in the world: And God divided the light from the darkness. Beloved, the moment you become a Christian, you will begin to fight. You will be easy and comfortable enough, as long as you are a sinner, but as soon as you become a Christian, you will have no more rest.

1. One part of the Divine work in the soul of man is to make a separation in the man himself. Do you feel an inward contention and war going on? Permit me to put these two verses together–O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. How can these two things be consistent? Ask the spiritual man: he will tell you, The Lord divideth between light and darkness.

2. Whereas there is a division within the Christian, there is certain to be a division without. So soon as ever the Lord gives to any believer light, he begins to separate himself from the darkness. He separates himself from the worlds religion, finds out where Christ is preached, and goes there. Then as to society, the dead, carnal religionist can get on very well in ordinary society, but it is not so when he has light. I cannot go to light company, wasting the evening, showing off my fine clothes, and talking frivolity and nonsense.

DIVINE NOMINATION. Things must have names; Adam named the beasts, but God Himself named the day and the night. And God called the light day, and the darkness called He night. It is a very blessed work of grace to teach us to call things by their right names. The spiritual aspirations of Gods people never can be evil. Carnal reason calls them folly, but the Lord would have us call them good. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Lessons from the night

1. One of the first lessons which God intends us to learn from the night is a larger respect for wholesome renovation. Perhaps this may not show itself in any great lengthening of our bodily life, but rather in a more healthy spirit, less exposed to that prevailing unrest which fills the air and which troubles so many minds.

2. The night is the season of wonder. A new and strangely equipped population, another race of beings, another sequence of events, comes into and fills the world of the mind. Men who have left their seal upon the world, and largely helped in the formation of its deepest history–men whose names stand up through the dim darkness of the past, great leaders and masters, have admitted that they learned much from the night.

3. The next thought belonging to the night is that then another world comes out, and as it were, begins its day. There is a rank of creatures which moves out into activity as soon as the sun has set. This thought should teach us something of tolerance; senses, dispositions, and characters are very manifold and various among ourselves. Each should try to live up to the light he has, and allow a brother to do the same.

4. Such extreme contrasts as are involved in light and darkness may tell us that we have as yet no true measure of what life is, and it must be left to some other conditions of existence for us to realize in anything like fulness the stores, the processes, the ways of the Kingdom of the Lord which are provided for such as keep His law.

5. Let us learn that, whether man wake or sleep, the universe is in a state of progress, the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together.

6. Let us learn to use day rightly and righteously, to accept the grace and the forces of the Lord while it is called today, and then the night shall have no forbidding, no repulsive significance.

The evening and the morning were the first day

The first day

THINK OF THE DAYS BEGINNING. Evening came before morning. Light issued out of darkness. The first goings of creative power were in obscurity.

THE DAYS CHARACTER–Evening and morning. In all life are alternations of darkness and light–shadow and sunshine. Rest is the condition of labour, and labour of rest.

THE DAYS RELIGION. There was a morning and an evening sacrifice.

THE DAYS END. That which began in darkness is followed by darkness, which ushers in a new day. The night cometh. (The Preachers Monthly.)

The evening and the morning

Let us reflect on what is Gods way of estimating THE PERIODS OF HISTORY. I do no unjust disparagement to the common way of recording the course of human history, when I say that it takes the form of a record of failures and catastrophes coming down upon splendid beginnings of empire. It is the morning and the evening that make the day; not the evening and the morning. For one Motley to tell the story of the Rise, there be many Gibbons to narrate the Decline and Fall. History, as told in literature, is a tragedy, and ends with a death. So human history is ever looking backward; and the morning and the evening make the day. But it is not so that God writes history. The annals of mankind in the Holy Book begin in the darkness of apostasy; but the darkness is shot through with gleams of hope, the first rays of the dawn. The sentence of death is illuminated with the promise of a Saviour: and the evening and the morning are the first day. There is night again when the flood comes down and the civilization and the wickedness of the primeval world are whelmed beneath it. But the flood clears off with a rainbow, and it is proved to have been the clearing of the earth for a better progress, for the rearing of a godly race, of whom by and by the Christ shall come according to the flesh: and the evening and the morning are the second day. And again the darkness falls upon the chosen race. They have ceased from off the land of promise. They are to be traced through a marvellous series of events down into the dark, where we dimly recognize the descendants of heroic Abraham and princely Joseph in the gangs and coffles of slaves, wearing themselves out in the brickyards of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage. And this–is this the despairing evening of so bright a patriarchal age as that gone by? No, no! it is so that men reckon, but not God. This is the evening, not of yesterday, but of tomorrow. The elements of a new civilization are brooding there in that miserable abode of slavery: of a civilization that shall take the learning of the Egyptians and infuse into it the spirit of a high and fraternal morality, that shall take its religious pomps and rituals and cleanse them of falsehoods and idolatries and inform them with the spiritual worship of the one invisible God. The holy and priestly civilization of David and Solomon, of the sons of Asaph and the sons of Korah, is to come forth out of that dark chaos of Egyptian slavery. And the evening and the morning shall be the fourth day. We need not trace the history of humanity and of the Church on through all its pages. We have only to carry the spirit of this ancient story forward into later times, and the dark places of history become irradiated, and lo! the night is light about us. We behold the decline and fall of the Roman Empire–that awful convulsion of humanity; nation dashing against nation; civilization, with its monuments and records, its institutions and laws, going down out of sight, overwhelmed by an inrushing sea of barbaric invasion, and it looks to us, as we gaze, like nothing but destruction and the end, ruin and failure. So it seems to us at this distance: so it seemed to that great historian, Gibbon. But in the midst of the very wreck and crash of it sat that great believer, Augustine, and wrote volume after volume of the Civitas Dei–the city of God, the city that hath foundations, the kingdom that cannot be moved. This awful catastrophe, he tells the terrified and quaking world, is not the end–it is the beginning. History does not end so. This is the way its chapters open. The night was a long night, but it had an end: and now we look back and see how through all its dark and hopeless hours God was slowly grinding materials for the civilization of modern times. So long, so long it seemed: but the morning came at last. And the evening and the morning made the day. And we, today, are only in the morning twilight, after just such another convulsion and obscuration of the world. I have spoken to you now of this principle of the divine order, which begins the day with the evening, as illustrated, first in creation, and then in history; and now, can I safely leave it with you to make the more practical application of it–

TO THE COURSE OF HUMAN LIFE? For this is where you most need to know and feel it, and where, I suspect, you most fail to see it. It has been such a common blunder, from the days of Job and his friends down to the days when Christ rebuked the Pharisees, and from those days again down to ours–the blunder of supposing that the evening goes with the day before, and not with the day after–that the dark times of human life are a punishment for what is past, instead of being, as they always are to them that love God, a discipline and preparation for what is coming. There are many and many such eventides in life–times of enforced repose; hard times, when business stagnates or runs with adverse current; times of sickness, pain, seclusion; times of depression, sorrow, bereavement, fear. Such are the night times of life; and blessed are they who at such times have learned to look forward, and not back; to say, not, What have I done, that this thing should befall me? but, rather, What is God preparing for me, and for what is He preparing me, that thus He should lovingly chasten and instruct me in the night season? Then lift your heads, ye saints, and answer: No, no! this is not the end; this is the beginning. The evening is come, and the morning also cometh; and the evening and the morning are the day. Look! look at the glory of the evening sky. It shall be fair weather in the morning, for the sky is red. So shall it come to pass that at evening time it shall be light. (L. W. Bacon.)

The first day

The evening and the morning were the first day. The evening came first. Gods glorious universe sprang into existence in obscurity. There was the hiding of His power. It is very remarkable that the creation work and the redemption work of God were both alike shrouded in darkness. When God spake, and the worlds were made, it is said, darkness was upon the face of the deep. When Christ hung upon the cross, having finished His work of love, it is said, There was a darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. What a lesson does this teach us! The glory was so exceeding that it needed to be overshadowed: for us the veil was thrown over Jehovahs brightness; the light would have been too strong for mortal eyes; the diadem of the King of kings would have been too dazzling to meet our gaze, had it not been dimmed for our sakes. Nevertheless, hidden as He is in unapproachable majesty, His secret is with them that fear Him; and while the evening lasts, they wait with longing expectation for that morning when they shall see no longer through a glass darkly, but rather face to face. The evening and the morning were the first day. It was the alternation of light and shade which constituted this first day; and is it not so with the spiritual days of a Christian? Darkness and light succeed each other. If, then, thou art one who, ass child of God, art sitting in darkness, there is comfort in this word for thee. If it is evening now, the sunlight shall arise again. Even the record of Gods creation speaks to thee of consolation: there is in it a promise of joy to come; thy day would not be perfect, if there were not a morning to succeed thy night. But if thou art one with whom there is the brightness of sunshine in providence and in grace, this sentence speaks to thee in warning. Although now thou canst look up to an unclouded sky, and there is light in thy dwelling and in thine heart; remember the evening shadows. The longest day has its sunset. God hath ordained the alternation of light and darkness. As it is with individuals, so it is with the whole Church of Christ; and now it is peculiarly with her the night time, the deepest night she has ever known, and, blessed be God, the last night. She standeth now beneath the darkened sky of that tribulation which is to issue in the millennial brightness of her coming Bridegrooms kingdom. How often does she inquire, Watchman, what of the night? and the answer is, The morning cometh, still as yet there will be night: if ye inquire already, yet must ye return; come and inquire again (Isa 21:12, Geneva version). It shallbe darker yet with her, ere the breaking morn appeareth: but how glorious will be the dawn of that light, when the Sun of Righteousness Himself shall arise with healing in His beams. Truly, said David, when he saw the glory of the King of kings and spake of Him–He shall be as the light of the morning when the sun ariseth, even a morning without clouds. Even so, Saviour, come quickly, The evening and the morning were the first day. I cannot help noticing another thing in the consideration of this subject. The evening of a natural day is the season of rest from labour: Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening. In the darkness of the night, the various occupations of busy men are laid aside, and the world is hushed in silence, waiting the returning morning. Is there nothing of this in the Christians experience? Can he work when the night sets in upon his soul? Does not he, too, wait and long for sunrise? The evening and the morning were the first day. There is yet another lesson in these words, which I would notice. What is it which constitutes the evening of a natural day? It is not that the position of the sun is changed; but that the inhabitants of the earth are turned from Him. Let us not forget that it is so with the evening of the soul. There are some in the religious world, who seem to be just like the philosophers of a former day, who believed and taught that the sun moved round our planet; they speak as if the light of the Christian were caused by some change in Christ, the eternal Sun of Righteousness. Nay, it is not so. Our Saviour God is ever the same, in the glory of His salvation, in the brightness of His redemption; but we alas I turn away our faces from Him, and are in darkness, it is sin which causes it to be evening with us; it is our iniquity which has made it dark. There is one thought connected with the evening and the morning, which is so precious to me, that I cannot pass it over. There was, under the law, a sacrifice appointed both for the morning and the evening. Ah! when it is daylight with thee, Christian, and thou goest into the sanctuary, having boldness to enter into the very holiest, having free access unto the Father; thy soul can there offer its sacrifice of willing, loving praise. But the evening cometh, and then thou dost shrink back from saying aught to God, from bringing thine offering with so heavy a heart. Still, go even then; and pleading the blood of that richer sacrifice which never faileth to bring down a blessing, lay the tribute of thy broken heart beside it, and ask thy God, for His sake not to despise it. He will not do so, for, in the provisions of His temple service, there was a sacrifice for the evening too. (The Protoplast.)

The record of the first day of creation reminds us of the first day of human life

How rapidly do the few days which succeed the first evening and morning in the life of man, pass away. I think I have somewhere read of a philosopher who was seen in tears, and on being asked, Why weepest thou? answered, I weep because there is so much for me to do, and my life is too short to do it in. Whether the philosopher said so or not, I am sure my own heart has said it oftentimes, and so, I doubt not, have the hearts of others. Sorrow and sickness are the two great means by which many a young heart has become aged; the mind is early matured, and the stranger wondering says, How old such an one is in character! Yet every day of natural life has its burden, as foreordained of God. There is one thought connected with the day, that is a very solemn one. The evening and the morning will succeed each other, without break or change, year after year; but a day will come upon us, the evening of which we shall never see; a sun will rise that we shall never see go down; the morning will come and find us in a body of sin and suffering, and before the evening we shall have passed away. (The Protoplast.)

Fuente: Biblical Illustrator Edited by Joseph S. Exell

It is acknowledged by all, that the

evening and the morning are not here to be understood according to our common usage, but are put by a synecdoche each of them for one whole part of the natural day. But because it may be doubted which part each of them signifies, some understand by

evening, the foregoing day; and by

the morning, the foregoing night; and so the natural day begins with the morning or the light, as it did with the ancient Chaldeans. Others by

evening understand the first night or darkness which was upon the face of the earth, Gen 1:2, which probably continued for the space of about twelve hours, the beginning whereof might fitly be called

evening; and by

morning the succeeding light or day, which may reasonably be supposed to continue the other twelve hours, or thereabouts. And this seems the truer opinion,

1. Because the darkness was before the light, as the

evening is put before the

morning, Gen 1:5,8, and afterwards.

2. Because this best agrees both with the vulgar and with the Scripture use of the terms of

evening and morning.

3. Because the Jews, who had the best opportunity of knowing the mind of God in this matter by Moses and other succeeding prophets, begun both their common and sacred days with the evening, as is confessed, and may be gathered from Lev 23:32.

Were the first day; did constitute or make up the first day; day of being taken largely for the natural day, consisting of twenty-four hours: these were the parts the first day; and the like is to be understood of the succeeding days. Moreover, God, who could have made all things at once, was pleased to divide his work into six days, partly to give us occasion more distinctly and seriously to consider God’s works, and principally to lay the foundation for the weekly sabbath, as is clearly intimated, Gen 2:2-3; Exo 20:9-11.

Fuente: English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

5. first daya natural day, asthe mention of its two parts clearly determines; and Moses reckons,according to Oriental usage, from sunset to sunset, saying not dayand night as we do, but evening and morning.

Ge1:6-8. SECOND DAY.

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

And God called the light day, and the darkness he called night,…. Either by the circulating motion of the above body of light, or by the rotation of the chaos on its own axis towards it, in the space of twenty four hours there was a vicissitude of light and darkness; just as there is now by the like motion either of the sun, or of the earth; and which after this appellation God has given, we call the one, day, and the other, night:

and the evening and the morning were the first day: the evening, the first part of the night, or darkness, put for the whole night, which might be about the space of twelve hours; and the morning, which was the first part of the day, or light, put also for the whole, which made the same space, and both together one natural day, consisting of twenty four hours; what Daniel calls an “evening morning”, Da 8:26 and the apostle , a “night day”, 2Co 11:25. Thales being asked which was first made, the night or the day, answered, the night was before one day m. The Jews begin their day from the preceding evening; so many other nations: the Athenians used to reckon their day from sun setting to sun setting n; the Romans from the middle of the night, to the middle of the night following, as Gellius o relates; and Tacitus p reports of the ancient Germans, that they used to compute not the number of days, but of nights, reckoning that the night led the day. Caesar q observes of the ancient Druids in Britain, that they counted time not by the number of days, but nights; and observed birthdays, and the beginnings of months and years, so as that the day followed the night; and we have some traces of this still among us, as when we say this day se’nnight, or this day fortnight. This first day of the creation, according to James Capellus, was the eighteenth of April; but, according to Bishop Usher, the twenty third of October; the one beginning the creation in the spring, the other in autumn. It is a notion of Mr. Whiston’s, that the six days of the creation were equal to six years, a day and a year being one and the same thing before the fall of man, when the diurnal rotation of the earth about its axis, as he thinks, began; and in agreement with this, very remarkable is the doctrine Empedocles taught, that when mankind sprung originally from the earth, the length of the day, by reason of the slowness of the sun’s motion, was equal to ten of our present months r. The Hebrew word , “Ereb”, rendered “evening”, is retained by some of the Greek poets, as by Hesiod s, who says, out of the “chaos” came “Erebus”, and black night, and out of the night ether and the day; and Aristophanes t, whose words are,

“chaos, night, and black “Erebus” were first, and wide Tartarus, but there were neither earth, air, nor heaven, but in the infinite bosom of Erebus, black winged night first brought forth a windy egg, &c.”

And Orpheus u makes night to be the beginning of all things.

(Hugh Miller (1802-1856) was the first person to popularise the “Day-Age” theory. In his book, “Testimony of the Rocks”, that was published in the year after his untimely death, he speculated that that the days were really long ages. He held that Noah’s flood was a local flood and the rock layers were laid down long periods of time. v This theory has been popularised by the New Scofield Bible first published in 1967. See Topic 8757. Editor.)

m Laert. in Vita Thaletis. p. 24. n Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 2. c. 77. o Noct. Attic. l. 3. c. 2. p De Mor. German. c. 11. q Commentar. l. 6. p. 141. r Vid. Universal History, vol. 1. p. 79. s ‘, &c. Hesiod. Theogonia. t &c. Aristophanes in Avibus. u Hymn. 2. ver. 2. v Ian Taylor, p. 360-362, “In the Minds of Men”, 1984, TEV Publishing, P.O. Box 5015, Stn. F, Toronto, Ontario, M4Y 2T1.

Fuente: John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

5. And God called the light That is, God willed that there should be a regular vicissitude of days and nights; which also followed immediately when the first day was ended. For God removed the light from view, that night might be the commencement of another day. What Moses says however, admits a double interpretation; either that this was the evening and morning belonging to the first day, or that the first day consisted of the evening and the morning. Whichever interpretation be chosen, it makes no difference in the sense, for he simply understands the day to have been made up of two parts. Further, he begins the day, according to the custom of his nation, with the evening. It is to no purpose to dispute whether this be the best and the legitimate order or not. We know that darkness preceded time itself; when God withdrew the light, he closed the day. I do not doubt that the most ancient fathers, to whom the coming night was the end of one day and the beginning of another, followed this mode of reckoning. Although Moses did not intend here to prescribe a rule which it would be criminal to violate; yet (as we have now said) he accommodated his discourse to the received custom. Wherefore, as the Jews foolishly condemn all the reckonings of other people, as if God had sanctioned this alone; so again are they equally foolish who contend that this modest reckoning, which Moses approves, is preposterous.

The first day Here the error of those is manifestly refuted, who maintain that the world was made in a moment. For it is too violent a cavil to contend that Moses distributes the work which God perfected at once into six days, for the mere purpose of conveying instruction. Let us rather conclude that God himself took the space of six days, for the purpose of accommodating his works to the capacity of men. We slightingly pass over the infinite glory of God, which here shines forth; whence arises this but from our excessive dullness in considering his greatness? In the meantime, the vanity of our minds carries us away elsewhere. For the correction of this fault, God applied the most suitable remedy when he distributed the creation of the world into successive portions, that he might fix our attention, and compel us, as if he had laid his hand upon us, to pause and to reflect. For the confirmation of the gloss above alluded to, a passage from Ecclesiasticus is unskilfully cited. ‘He who liveth for ever created all things at once,’ (Sir 18:1.) For the Greek adverb κοινὣ which the writer uses, means no such thing, nor does it refer to time, but to all things universally. (57)

(57) So the English translation: “He that liveth forever made all things in general.”

Fuente: Calvin’s Complete Commentary

(5) God called the light Day . . . Night.Before this distinction of night and day was possible there must have been outside the earth, not as yet the sun, but a bright phosphorescent mass, such as now enwraps that luminary; and, secondly, the earth must have begun to revolve upon its axis. Consequent upon this would be, not merely alternate periods of light and darkness, but also of heat and cold, from which would result important effects upon the formation of the earths crust. Moreover, in thus giving day and night names, God ordained language, and that vocal sounds should be the symbols of things. This law already looks forward to the existence of man, the one being on earth who calls things by their names.

And the evening and the morning.Literally, And was an evening and was a morning day one, the definite article not being used till Gen. 1:31, when we have day the sixth, which was also the last of the creative days.

The word evening means a mixture. It is no longer the opaque darkness of a world without light, but the intermingling of light and darkness (comp. Zec. 14:6-7). This is followed by a morning, that is, a breaking forth of light. Evening is placed first because there was a progress from a less to a greater brightness and order and beauty. The Jewish method of calculating the day from sunset to sunset was not the cause, but the result of this arrangement.

The first day.A creative day is not a period of twenty-four hours, but an on, or period of indefinite duration, as the Bible itself teaches us. For in Gen. 2:4 the six days of this narrative are described as and summed up in one day, creation being there regarded, not in its successive stages, but as a whole. So by the common consent of commentators, the seventh day, or day of Gods rest, is that age in which we are now living, and which will continue until the consummation of all things. So in Zec. 14:7 the whole Gospel dispensation is called one day; and constantly in Hebrew, as probably in all languages, day is used in a very indefinite manner, as, for instance, in Deu. 9:1. Those, however, who adopt the very probable suggestion of Kurtz, that the revelation of the manner of creation was made in a succession of representations or pictures displayed before the mental vision of the tranced seer, have no difficulties. He saw the dark gloom of evening pierced by the bright morning light: that was day one. Again, an evening cleft by the light, and he saw an opening space expanding itself around the world: that was day two. Again darkness and light, and on the surface of the earth he saw the waters rushing down into the seas: that was day three. And so on. What else could he call these periods but days? But as St. Augustine pointed out, there was no sun then, and it is very difficult for us to imagine what sort of days these could be (De Civ. Dei, xi. 6, 7). It must further be observed that this knowledge of the stages of creation could only have been given by revelation, and that the agreement of the Mosaic record with geology is so striking that there is no real difficulty in believing it to be inspired. The difficulties arise almost entirely from popular fallacies or the mistaken views of commentators. Geology has done noble service for religion in sweeping away the mean views of Gods method of working which used formerly to prevail. We may add that among the Chaldeans a cosmic day was a period of 43,200 years, being the equivalent of the cycle of the procession of the equinoxes (Lenormant, Les Origines de lHistoire, p. 233).

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

5. God called the light Day By whatever means or method God caused “the light to shine out of darkness,” (2Co 4:6,) it is important to observe that he called that light Day. Why now should we take it on ourselves to say, as so many expositors have ventured to do, that “day” in the first chapter of Genesis means a vast cosmogonic period or age? Shall we permit the sacred historian to define his own terms, as he most certainly assumes to do, or foist into his words the speculative theories of modern times? “The Hebrew word yom, (day,)” says Professor Guyot, “is used in this chapter in five different senses, just as we use the word day in common language: 1. The day, meaning light, without reference to time or succession. 2. The cosmogonic day, the nature of which is to be determined. 3. The day of twenty-four hours, in the fourth cosmogonic day, where it is said of the sun and moon, ‘Let them be for days, and for seasons, and for years.’ 4. The light part of the same day of twenty-four hours, as opposed to the night. 5. In Gen 2:4, the week of creation, or an indefinite period of time . ” Creation, or the Biblical Cosmogony, pp . 50, 51 .

Could any thing be more uncritical, arbitrary, and dogmatic than this deliverance of a Christian scientist? If we may put five different meanings upon one simple word, when the writer himself so definitely gives his own meaning, what may we not make the Bible say? The definition No. 4 above is the one which we adopt, (not, however, limiting it to twenty-four hours,) as being that of the sacred writer himself, and this, we believe, will be sufficient to meet the demands of this entire narrative of creation. The length of this day is not told. It was the period of light, whether twelve hours or a much greater length of time. So far as mere length of time is here denoted, there may have been but one day and one night in a year of our time. This would accord with Professor Warren’s hypothesis of the beginning of human life within the Arctic circle. (See his Paradise Found; the Cradle of the Human Race at the North Pole. Boston, 1885.)

And the evening and the morning were the first day Better, And there was evening and there was morning, one day. That is, the first day had its evening and its morning. We are not to understand the morning as equivalent to the day, and the evening to the night, nor are we to construe one day as grammatically in apposition with evening and morning. The simplest meaning is, that this first day, like all other days, had an evening and a morning. Evening was probably mentioned before morning in accordance with the ancient custom of reckoning days from evening to evening; not to indicate that the primeval darkness constituted the first evening.

Fuente: Whedon’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Gen 1:5. God called the light day, and the darkness he called night He gave them names as Lord of both, for the day is his, the night also is his. He is the Lord of time, and will be so till day and night shall come to an end, and the stream of time be swallowed up in the ocean of eternity. Let us then acknowledge him in the constant succession of day and night, and consecrate both to his honour, by working for him every day, and resting in him every night, and meditating in his law day and night.

Some have observed that the names here given to the two grand divisions of the day, are proofs of the expressiveness of the Hebrew language; jom, the day, expressing the tumult and business which attends it: and lilah, the night, being derived from a word signifying the howling and yelling of the wild beasts, which then appear.

The evening and the morning It is acknowledged by all, that each of these is put by a synecdoche for one half of the natural day. The darkness of the evening, or night, was before the light of the morning: it served as a foil to it, to set it off, and make it shine the brighter. It was on the ground of this and similar passages, that the Jews began both their common and sacred days with the evening. But this was not only the first day of the world, but the first day of the week. I observe it to the honour of that day, because the new world began likewise on the first day of the week in the Resurrection of Christ, as the Light of the world, early in the morning. In him the day-spring from on high hath visited the world; and happy are we if that day-star arise in our hearts.

Fuente: Commentary on the Holy Bible by Thomas Coke

Gen 1:5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Ver. 5. And God called the light day, &c. ] He taught men to call them so; day , from the noise and hurry; night , from the yelling of wild beasts. Darkness he created not, but only by accident; and yet not that, without some notable use. Much less that darkness of affliction which he is said to “create”. Isa 45:7 “Unto the upright there ariseth light in darkness,” Psa 112:4 yea, light by darkness, as to Paul, whose bodily blindness opened the eyes of his mind. Luther said that God’s works are effected usually by contraries. a Opera Dei sunt in mediis contrariis

And the evening and the morning, &c. ] Thales, one of the seven sages, had learned this truth by going to school in Egypt. For being asked whether was first, the day or the night? he answered, that the night was sooner by one day: b as who should say, afore God had created the light, it must needs be confessed that out of him there was nothing but darkness. Evening separates by darkness, morning by light; so the one disjoins day from night, the other night from day. Only this first evening separated not, because light was then uncreated. Yet it was of God appointed, even then, to stand between light and darkness. In the first evening was heaven and earth created, and in the first morning the light, both which make the civil day called by the apostle. 2Co 11:25 And this (which doubtless is the natural order of reckoning the day, from evening to evening), was in use among the Athenians, c and is to this day retained by the Jews, Italians, Bohemians, Silesians, and other nations. Our life likewise is such a day, and begins with the dark evening of misery here; but death is to saints the daybreak of eternal brightness. Mourning lasteth but till morning. Psa 30:5 Nay, not so long; for, “Behold at eventide trouble, and before the morning he is not.” Isa 17:14 It is but a “moment,” yea, a very little moment, and the indignation will pertransire , be overpast, saith the prophet; Isa 26:20 so “little a while” as you can scarce imagine, saith the apostle. , Heb 10:37 If it seem otherwise to any of us, consider:

1. That we have some lucida intervalla , some respires, interspiriates, breathing whiles. And it is a mercy that the man is not always sweating out a poor living, the woman ever in pangs of childbirth, &c. Gen 3:16-19

2. That this is nothing to eternity of extremity, which is the just hire of the least sin. Rom 6:23

3. That much good accrues unto us hereby. Heb 12:10 Yea, this “light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh out unto us that far more excellent and eternal weight of glory.” 2Co 4:17 Oh, pray, pray “that the eyes of our understanding being enlightened by that Spirit of wisdom and revelation, we may know what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,” &c. Eph 1:17-18

a Laertius.

b D – Nazianz .

c Pliny, l. 2. c. 7.

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

called. Occurs 5 times. App-5.

evening . . . morning. Figure of speech Synecdoche (of the Part), App-6. Put for a full day. The beginning and end of anything is put for the whole of it. Compare Ecc 3:11; Ecc 10:13; Ecc 11:6. Psa 92:2. Isa 41:4; Isa 44:6; Isa 48:12. Rev 1:8, Rev 1:11, Rev 1:17; Rev 2:8; Rev 21:6; Rev 22:13.

first. For spiritual significance see App-10.

first day = day one. The word “day” may refer to a prolonged period when used without any qualifying words. But when qualified with a numeral (cardinal or ordinal) it is defined and limited by it to a day of 24 hours. It is further limited here by its boundaries “evening and morning”, as well as by the 7th day. Compare Exo 20:9, Exo 20:11. See App-11.

Fuente: Companion Bible Notes, Appendices and Graphics


The word “day” is used in Scripture in three ways:

(1) that part of the solar day of twenty-four hours which is light Gen 1:5; Gen 1:14; Joh 9:4; Joh 11:9.

(2) such a day, set apart for some distinctive purpose, as, “day of atonement” (Lev 23:27); “day of judgment” Mat 10:15.

(3) a period of time, long or short, during which certain revealed purposes of God are to be accomplished, as “day of the Lord.”


The use of “evening” and “morning” may be held to limit “day” to the solar day; but the frequent parabolic use of natural phenomena may warrant the conclusion that each creative “day” was a period of time marked off by a beginning and ending.

Fuente: Scofield Reference Bible Notes

and: Gen 8:22, Psa 19:2, Psa 74:16, Psa 104:20, Isa 45:7, Jer 33:20, 1Co 3:13, Eph 5:13, 1Th 5:5

And the evening and the morning were: Heb. And the evening was, and the morning was, Gen 1:8, Gen 1:13, Gen 1:19, Gen 1:23, Gen 1:31

Reciprocal: Exo 27:21 – evening Job 2:13 – seven days Job 38:12 – commanded Dan 8:14 – days Mar 14:30 – this day

Fuente: The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge


God called the light day, and the darkness He called night.

Gen 1:5

(I.) One of the first lessons which God intends us to learn from the night is a larger respect for wholesome renovation. Perhaps this may not show itself in any great lengthening of our bodily life, but rather in a more healthy spirit, less exposed to that prevailing unrest which fills the air and which troubles so many minds.

(II.) The night is the season of wonder. A new and strangely equipped population, another race of beings, another sequence of events, comes into and fills the world of the mind. Men who have left their seal upon the world, and largely helped in the formation of its deepest history,men whose names stand up through the dim darkness of the past, great leaders and masters, have admitted that they learned much from the night. (III.) The next thought belonging to the night is that then another world comes out and, as it were, begins its day. There is a rank of creatures which moves out into activity as soon as the sun has set. This thought should teach us something of tolerance; senses, dispositions, and characters are very manifold and various among ourselves. Each should try to live up to the light he has, and allow a brother to do the same. (IV.) Such extreme contrasts as are involved in light and darkness may tell us that we have as yet no true measure of what life is, and it must be left to some other conditions of existence for us to realise in anything like fulness the stores, the processes, the ways of the Kingdom of the Lord which are provided for such as keep His law. (V.) Let us learn that, whether men wake or sleep, the universe is in a state of progress, the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together. (VI.) Let us learn to use day rightly and righteously, to accept the grace and the forces of the Lord while it is called to-day, and then the night shall have no forbidding, no repulsive significance.

Rev. H. Jones.


(1) Light in verse 3 is not the same word as is rendered lights (ver. 14, etc.), to describe light-giving bodies or lamps. There is light in nature quite apart from the sun or stars. The dividing of light from darkness, and their naming as day and night are difficult to explain apart from a possible anticipation (by no means surprising in a Hebrew author) of the subsequent events (ver. 14 to 19), but may refer to facts beyond our present knowledge. It is believed, on good scientific grounds, that the earth had light and heat for vast ages before any differences of climate existed such as are produced by sunlight, and this accords with the general teaching of Genesis.

(2) The heretofore dark mass began to give lightat first poor in quality, but improving as condensation went onuntil our planet attained the temperature of our sun, and then the light was good for all its present uses. This completion of the evolution of good light occurred before the earth was covered with a dark crust, and by its opaque body divided the light on the sun side from the darkness on the other.

(3) Take the reference to the appointment of sun and moon, the great light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. Again the purpose of the narrative is not scientific but religious. In the teeth of an all but universal worship of sun, moon, and stars, it declares them the manufacture of God, and the ministers and servants of man. As Calvin puts it, with characteristic shrewdness and good sense, Moses, speaking to us by the Holy Spirit, did not treat of the heavenly luminaries as an astronomer, but as it became a theologian, having regard to us rather than to the stars.

Fuente: Church Pulpit Commentary

Gen 1:5. God called, &c. God distinguished them from each other by different names, as the Lord of both. The day is thine, the night also is thine. He is the Lord of time, and will be so till day and night shall come to an end, and the stream of time be swallowed up in the ocean of eternity. The evening Including the following night, and the morning, including the succeeding day, were the first natural day, of twenty-four hours. Some, indeed, by evening understand the foregoing day as being then concluded, and by the morning the preceding night: but the Jews, who had the best opportunity of understanding Moses, who here declares the mind of God in this matter, began both their common and sacred days in the evening, see Lev 23:32. The darkness of the evening, preceding the light of the morning, sets it off and makes it shine the brighter.

Fuente: Joseph Bensons Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

God named things as well as creating them. Having a name equals having existence, in biblical thought, and the act of giving a name meant the exercise of a sovereign right (cf. Gen 41:45; 2Ki 24:17; Dan 1:7). In this chapter naming or blessing follows some act of creation seven times. The Hebrews regarded the number seven as connoting a complete, divine act, as will become clear later.

The terms day, night, evening, and morning imply the beginning of the earth’s rotation on the first day. [Note: See my further comments on 2:3.] The use of the Hebrew word ’ehad ("one" day, cf. "second day," "third day," etc.) as an ordinal number also supports this view. [Note: See Andrew E. Steinmann, "’ehad as an Ordinal Number and the Meaning of Genesis 1:5," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 45:4 (December 2002):577-84. Ordinal numbers express order (e.g., first, second, third, etc.) whereas cardinal numbers are used in counting (e.g., one, two, three, etc.).] The Jews reckoned the beginning of a day with the evening rather than the morning.

"A few years ago in England some Christians became excited about the Big Bang theory, thinking that it favored Christianity. But they really missed the point-either the point of Scripture or the Big Bang theory or both. The simple fact is that what is given in Gen 1:1 has no relationship to the Big Bang theory-because from the scriptural viewpoint, the primal creation goes back beyond the basic material or energy. We have a new thing created by God out of nothing [Lat. ex nihilo] by fiat, and this is the distinction." [Note: Frances Schaeffer, Genesis in Time and Space, pp. 28-29.]

Nevertheless, though it is not the same, "The Big Bang theory sounds very much like the story that the Old Testament has been telling a long time." [Note: Lance Morrow, Time (Feb. 5, 1979), p. 149.]

From the beginning God made divisions. He later divided the clean from the unclean, the holy from the profane, the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies, and Israel from the nations. This shows His sovereignty (i.e., ultimate authority).

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