Gen 2:4

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at
Mon Aug 14 10:56:20 EDT 2000

This verse is a key one for those of us who seek to argue against six day
creationism while also holding to the authority of the Bible. If "yom"
always means one day, which is a key part of the creationist argument, then
2:4 contradicts chapter 1. But as creationists also generally hold to the
infallibility of the Bible text, they have to insist that in 2:4 "yom" means
something other than one day, which then undermines their own arguments that
the six days of creation are literal 24 hour periods. (Any creationists out
there prepared to answer this argument?)

But I think we will find that there are many places in the Hebrew Bible
where "beyom" means "at the time" in a fairly general sense when the
reference is to more than a single day. For example Gen. 35:3: Jacob's
distress did not last just one day, and this cannot refer to the vision at
Bethel being literally on the same day as Jacob fled from Esau as Bethel is
more than one day's journey from Beersheba (28:10,11) and anyway a new day
began at sunset. In Leviticus 14:2 "beyom" precedes a description of
ceremonies which take eight days.

Peter Kirk

----- Original Message -----
From: "Tony Costa" <tmcos at>
To: "Biblical Hebrew" <b-hebrew at>
Sent: Monday, August 14, 2000 12:40 PM
Subject: Gen 2:4

> Dear Friends,
>   I was wondering about Gen 2:4 in relation to Gen 1. Gen 1 gives the
> chronological sequence of the creation account as six days. Gen 2:4 makes
> reference to "in the day" (BYoM) that God created the heavens and the
> It seems to capsulize the whole creation into one day. I also noticed a
> number of translations render the phrase "In the day" as "at the time"
> (Goodspeed, Moffatt, Jerusalem Bible) Is the contrast between 6 days in
> 1 and the mention of "in the day" (singular) a result of the dual
> of Gen 1 as the work of the Elohist editor and the Gen 2:4 reference the
> work of the Priestly editor or simply an acceptable literary device? Any
> comments would be appreciated. Many thanks.
>                                            Tony Costa, B.A.
>                                            University of Toronto
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