Flat and Forming: Genesis 1 and 2 Revisited by Yamin Levy – Article Example
Flat and Forming: Genesis 2 Revisited By: Yamin Levy Yamin Levy examines the creation accounts of Bereshit (Genesis) I and II using a literary-theological analysis of Chapters I and II of Genesis. Levy begins by saying that the first two chapters of Bereshit are concerned with the story of creation, but they present different points of view. These views are considered distinct and complementary. The two chapters explain the same issue in different facets and provide different aspects of it. Levy observes that the two stories of creation written in Bereshit are found in two parts: 1:1-2:3 and 2:4-25. The first account of creation ends with Shabbat Bereshit while the second account ends with the appearance of woman.
This article explains that in the first account of creation, man was created last. God’s creations succeed each other, indicating that God had a clear plan and a sense of direction. This orderly and well planned creation begins on the first day and ends on the sixth day in the following order: light and darkness, firmament (rakia), land and sea, vegetation and plants, luminaries, fish and birds, and animals and humankind. There is an ascending order of hierarchy in God’s creation, and each creation was named to enhance mastery of it. Levy argues that the ascendancy in hierarchy from inanimate to animate things is an indication of creation moving from less to more special form of life.
Levy explains that the creation process in the first account of creation exhibits a parallel symmetric fashion. Creation and division of light and darkness on the first day are parallel to the creation of luminaries on the fourth day. The luminaries actually divided day and night. According to Levy (1992), creation and division of the firmament on the second day is also parallel to creation of life in the firmament on the fifth day. Creation of land on the third day also parallels creation of man and animals on the sixth day. Levy also suggests that God put into motion on the fourth, fifth and sixth day what he created on the first, second and third day. This motion represented the beginning of life.
In this first account of creation, God is considered to be creating things by command and orderly fashion. This shows that God is law and justice. The ascendancy and orderly creation also shows that God is omnipotent and omniscient. Furthermore, some words used in Chapter 1 indicate that God operates by immediate command with full knowledge and absolute sovereignty. These words include: vayomer, bara, vayar, vayavdel, asa, and vayikra. These words describe God as a God of law and order. In the first account of creation, God ordains the continuity of creation by man. The world would continue being made thereafter.
Levy goes on to explain that in the second account of creation man was created first. Chapter 2 of Bereshit is concerned with mankind and beginning of human life. There is little about creation of firmament, luminaries, land, and different species. Chapter 2 is about the relationship between man and the environment. Chapter one seems to suggest that everything else was created for man’s functional use, while chapter 2 indicates that man was not created in relationship with the rest of creation. The purpose of man in the second account of creation is stated from the beginning: “there was no man to till the land”.
In the second account of creation, man is created from the dirt of the earth; hence he is part of the earth. On the other hand, man is above the earth in the first account of creation; he is created to become a ruler – almost divine. Chapter 1 of Bereshit presents man in dominion over the earth while in chapter 2 God reminds man that other creations are not inferior to him becomes he comes from the earth. The first account of creation is also seen to be a linear narrative while the second account of creation is a circular narrative. This shows that all other creations in the first account were created to fulfill man’s functional needs while the rest of creation in the second account was created to meet aesthetic needs of man. The first account stories of creation in chapter 1 is characterised by objective hierarchy, law and order. On the other hand, the second account stories of creation is characterised by subjective aesthetic relationship between man and the rest of creation. The Torah presents two different accounts of creation with juxtaposition to each other in order to provide a picture of integration a man’s nature and the complexities of existence.
Levy also argues that the first account of creation presents God as a God of law and order, while chapter 2 presents God as an imminent and caring. In the first account, god creates by command, but in the second account God creates by the work of his hands. Levy suggests that the verb “bara” is used to describe God in chapter 1 as a doer while the verb “Yatzar” was used in chapter 2 to describe God as a creator. Bara represents a sense of decree while Yatzar represents a sense of regard towards the object of creation.
Levy, Yamin. “Flat and Forming: Genesis 1 & 2 Revisited.” Tradition, 27(1), 1992, pp. 22-33.