Gen 2:4

clayton stirling bartholomew c.s.bartholomew at
Tue Aug 15 14:20:08 EDT 2000

on 08/14/00 7:56 AM, Peter Kirk wrote:

> 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


This is a well worn subject but I took the time this morning to look at it

First of all, no one who has studied lexical semantics to any extent is
going to conclude that "yom"  always means one day. So that is a straw man
argument. In Gen 1:5 yom is limited by two significant qualifiers. First
there is )xd which can be used as an cardinal or as an ordinal (less common)
or as a name for God (this last option is questionable, see V. Hamilton on
Gen 1:5 where he quotes C. Gordon). The second qualifier of yom in Gen. 1:5
is wyhy (rb  wyhy bqr. The combination of these two limiting constituents
makes yom in Gen. 1:5 a totally different ball game from byom in Gen. 2:4
which is another idiom as Michael Hildenbrand has pointed out. So it is not
valid to try and pit byom in Gen. 2:4 against yom in Gen. 1:5.

Furthermore one does not need to be a six day creationist to hold that yom
in Gen 1:5 means one calendar day. G. Wenham (Genesis WBC) is not a six day
creationist but he states concerning yom in Gen. 1:5 "There can be little
doubt that here "day" has its basic sense of a 24 hour period." U. Cassuto
appears to agree with this but his statements about it are very brief.

George Bush (1838 or 1860?) reads yom in Gen. 1:5 as an indeterminate
period. I found this humorous since it was counter to my expectations. I
expected George Bush to go with the traditional reading and G. Wehnam to go
with an indeterminate period. Keep in mind that G. Wenham is not defending a
traditional stance of a six day creation but he was able to see through the
fog of the creation debate to a uncluttered analysis of yom in Gen. 1:5.

Does anyone know when George Bush on Genesis was published? Was it pre or
post Darwin? My copy has a preface date of 1838 but a printing date of 1860.
It would be intriguing to know what the exact date was since it would allow
one to place G. Bush in his historical context.

Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

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