Barry Newman's Blog

February 28, 2011

Science and Genesis 2: 4 – 3: 24 (part IV)

Filed under: Genesis,Science — barrynewman @ 4:15 am

Genesis 2: 4 – These are the generations of the heavens and the earth … (cont)

The reference to the “Lord God”

Indeed another very noteworthy “oddity” that is found in 2: 4ff is the repeated reference to God as the “Lord God” (strictly: “Yahweh Elohim”).  These “heavens and earth” were created – “the earth and the heavens” were made by Yahweh Elohim.  Without at all subscribing to a source theory that strictly assigns various sections of Genesis and following to discreet authors the reference to “Yahweh Elohim”, some 20 times in chapters 2 and 3, without any prior reference being made, is striking.  Its use seems to bring the personhood of God, together with his majesty to the fore in the events of these chapters, as well as perhaps suggesting some different source material used by the author.  Whatever we make of this extraordinary feature, we cannot escape the very personal encounters between God and mankind as described in 2: 4 – 3: 24.

The word “day” in 2: 4

Finally, what should be understood by the use of the word, “day” (Hebrew: yom) in the phrase, “in the day that Yahweh Elohim made the earth and the heavens?”  One could maintain that here is a reference to God having created the world in one day.  However given that this meaning would create a stark contrast between the six day account of creation and what follows one could argue that here “day” is more likely to have the meaning of  something like “occasion”.  Alternatively if what follows comes from a different source then the editor might have been content to leave it as it is even if a 24 hour day was intended.  I think the first alternative is more likely but who could be sure?



  1. I find this series very stimulating, Barry.
    In regard to the use of yom in the phrase “in the day” I’ve always understood it to be simply an adverbial phrase meaning no more than the English “back in the day”. As such I don’t think that it can bear the weight of creation in a single day that some exegetes propose.
    On a completely different topic – are you related to the Newman family that originally hailed from Gunning, NSW?

    Comment by Pr Mark Henderson — April 5, 2011 @ 11:19 pm | Reply

  2. Thanks Mark for the comment. Understanding “in the day” as meaning something like “back in the day” is not too dissimilar from “on the occasion” which is what I was trying to indicate was a possibility. I like your “back in the day” though.

    Hope you continue to find the blog interesting. I realise that some of it will be quite controversial. One really can’t avoid that. One tries to be reflective and honest while recognising one’s own ignorance.

    PS Fairly sure I am not related to the Newman family that originally hailed from Gunning. A great grandfather, a Dane, jumped ship in Adelaide and he may have adopted the name, “Newman” as a name to cover his tracks!


    Comment by barrynewman — April 6, 2011 @ 8:06 am | Reply

  3. Yes, I’m in agreement with you on that interpretation, Barry.

    Re the Newman surname – I just thought I saw a family resemblance in your pic!

    Looking forward to reading the whole series, and also looking into your reflections on the sacraments.

    Comment by Pr Mark Henderson — April 6, 2011 @ 10:59 pm | Reply

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