[b-hebrew] Genesis 1:2 - And the earth was without form, and void

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Sat Apr 15 18:26:41 EDT 2006

Dear Dave,

>On Saturday 15 April 2006 12:17, Karl Randolph wrote:
>>  My evidence is Tanakh.
>King David was actually a 3-legged duck with no bill and sky blue pink
>feathers.  My evidence is Tanakh.
>Easy to say, not so easy to back up.  A statement like this is nothing but a

HH: What Karl said is a well-known fact; I think he assumed we were 
familiar with it. I have seen it in many sources. Here's one on-line, 
arguing against some opposing views:

1. yom + numerical = 24-hr day

The first argument is that yom + numerical always refers to a normal 24-hr day.

Don Stoner (A New Look at an Old Earth, pp. 46-48) however, claims 
that this is not true. He cites Zech 14:7 as an example.

Zech 14:7 states: "It will be a unique day, without daytime or 
nighttime--a day known to the LORD. When evening comes, there will be 

The day mentioned here is obviously the same day mentioned in vv. 1, 
4 and 6. Since "a text without a context, is a pretext" we need to 
examine the immediate context of these verses.

It should be abundantly clear from v. 5 that on "that day" the Lord 
will come. It describes a time-space _EVENT_ in the future. How can 
the coming of the Lord take a long period of time? It is an event: at 
one moment on that day, He is not here - the next moment He has 

Don, however, believes it refers to the New Jerusalem, the eternal 
state. But if the "day" refers to the eternal state - an indefinite 
period of time - it could hardly be called "unique"!

Therefore, the "unique day" does indeed refer to a literal 24-hr day.

HH: There are two ways of looking at Zech 14:8 that seem suitable to 
Karl's understanding. First, "in that day" in 14:8 could refer more 
generally to the time period. "In that day" occurs throughout the 
Bible of a particular time in view. The phrase occurs 208 times, so 
we can see plainly how it's used, and it often indicates a period. 
So, in that period of the specific day of the Lord's return and 
following, the water will run in summer and winter.  Or we can see 
the water beginning to flow on that very day of the Lord's return and 
continuing to flow in summer and winter afterwards. The on-line 
writer goes on:

Others have suggested Hosea 6:2 as an exception:
"After two days he will revive us;  on the third day he will restore 
us,  that we may live in his presence."

However, this verse is set in poetic parallelism - and parallelism of 
a specific kind. This parallelism is a common Semitic device which 
takes the form X // X + 1 (see Job 5:19; Proverbs 6:16; 30:15, 18; 
Amos 1:3, 6, 9 for more examples). Given that these instances are 
part of a well defined Semitic device, they must be interpreted in 
accordance with that device. In this case, the use of "two days" and 
"three days" communicate that the restoration mentioned in the 
previous verse, will happen quickly and surely (See Cohen/Vandermey, 
Hosea & Amos, Epositors Bible Commentary). Therefore, these instances 
must refer to normal days as opposed to long periods, otherwise the 
device would lose its meaning ie. the restoration would _not_ be 
quick and sure if the days were long periods of time. There may also 
be a subtle prophetic allusion to the restoration of humanity after 
the death and resurrection of Christ - especially since virtually all 
the content of Hosea serve to prophetically illustrate future events. 
Again, this demands that the days be taken as 24-hr days.

Bradley and Olsen ("The Trustworthiness of Scripture in Areas 
Relating to Natural Science" in Hermeneutics, Inerrancy, and the 
Bible, Radmacher and Preus, eds. [Zondervan, 1984]) also object to 
this line of reasoning:
"There is no other place in the Old Testament where the intent is to 
describe events that involve multiple and/or sequential, indefinite 
periods of time. If the intent of Genesis 1 is to describe creation 
as occurring in six, indefinite time periods, it is a unique Old 
Testament event being recorded. Other descriptions where "yom" refers 
to an indefinite time period are all for a single time period. Thus, 
the absence of the use of "yamim" for other than regular days and the 
use of ordinals only before regular days elsewhere in the Old 
Testament cannot be given an unequivocal exegetical significance in 
view of the uniqueness of the events being described in Genesis 1 
(i.e, sequential, indefinite time periods)."

The first problem here is that they assume what they are trying to 
prove ie. that the authors intent was to describe sequential 
indefinite periods of time. Secondly, "yom" by itself does not refer 
to an indefinite period of time. It only has this extended meaning 
when it is modified by a preposition such as "be" (eg. Gen 2:4). 
However, none of the instances in Genesis 1 are modified in this way. 
In addition, Numbers 29:12-35 also describes a numbered sequence of 
days which are clearly literal 24-hr days.

Thus the pattern of yom + numerical = 24 day does indeed hold.

HH: Here's another on-line source for the ideas Karl presented:

In the process of embracing the day age view, Ross rejects some 
strong exegetical evidence
favoring interpreting the creation days as ordinary days. For 
example, the words "morning and
evening" are combined with the word day ("yom") 38 times outside of 
Genesis 1. In each
instance, such a combination always refers to a literal 24-hour day 
meaning. Moreover, in every
other instance in the Old Testament where the word day is used with a 
numerical ordinal
modifier it represents a normal day. This holds true in at least 358 
of the 359 times that day is
used with a numerical modifier outside of Genesis 1. (5)

(5) The only possible deviation is in Hosea 6:2. However, the Hebrew 
grammar of Hosea 6:2 shows
that this passage is meant as a rhetorical device. See Mark Van 
Bebber and Paul S. Taylor, Creation and Time, 2d ed. (Gilbert, AZ: 
Eden Communications, 1994), 74-76. Interestingly, despite the 
rhetorical nature of Hosea
6:2, some scholars still see the possibility for the days in this 
verse to be understood as ordinary days. See Charles
Ryrie, Basic Theology (Chicago: Moody, 1999), 211.

Harold Holmyard

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