.. been applied. In some occasion, we found that the story told in Genesis was speaking again some concept in Canaanites or Babylonia religions, the creation story was one of the examples. We have seen in Section B that in Canaanites religion, there was struggle between Baal and Yam in the creation story. It seemed to tell us that Yam had power comparable to the creator Baal.
The implication was that although Baal was the creator, he did not seize supreme power. However, in Genesis 1: 2, we found a divine wind sweeping over the waters. When one read through chapter one, one could find that God did divided the waters under the vault and above the vault, made the water under heaven to become a single mass and created different kinds of animals and plants living in waters, we could hardly find an evidence to show that waters was directly created by God. However, the main different from Baal’s creation story was that God did have power over the water. Instead of a struggle with the waters, God’s wind sweeping over the waters which revealed His supreme power. The text seemed to tell us that the waters were actually co-exist with God before the world was created. One may doubt that should the waters created by God.
However, in the concept of the readers at that time, the sea represent evil which existed before creation and hence the story presented in such a way could be easily accepted and understood by the Israelites at that time. The writer believes that the author was trying to stress the supreme power over the waters as against Baal’s story. The waters were actually under God’s rule and control. Another point must be noted is that in the creation story in Genesis, we could find that God caused plants to grow, which revealed that fertility was in the hands of God. The sun, the moon and the stars were just creation of God and were not gods as presented in Canaanites religion.
Throughout the creation, all kind of creature was made by God’s word. The word of God was powerful in the creation so does his promise to the Israelites. It was an encouragement towards the Israelites in the post-exilic period that God would remember them as he had promise and brought about salvation. In section B we found that the gods in Babylonia religion needed man’s sacrifices. The gods repent for sending flood because they were hungry and needed sacrifice. Utanapishtim in the story acquired eternal life only for the sake of the gods.
We could find similar account in Noah’s flooding story. However, at the end of the story, it recorded that when Yahweh smelt the pleasing smell of the sacrifice from Noah He promised that He would never curse the earth and destroyed all living thing in such a way again because humans’ heart contrives evil from their infancy. In other words, God’s promise was due to His mercy that He understood the weakness of man and not a need of sacrifice! Through the creation story and Noah’s story, we could find Yahweh is the one who owned supreme power. He was the Lord of the whole land and has authority over all creatures. He did not share some power with other gods as in Canaanites and Babyonia religions.
(F) Man—As Image of God God created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. The Bible used only one verse to describe the nature of man. This verse also reveals the importance of man in God’s creation plan. The purpose of man’s being created is also explained. In this section, we are going to discuss the rights of man as God’s image and his limitations. As we have mentioned in Section B, a creation story in Babylon gave definition to man as gods’ slave and mankind was created due to the laziness of God. People living in ancient Near East believe that gods would use them to serve their own needs, for instance, offering to them, to fight for them etc.
The author at the beginning of his witness gave a new understanding of God’s view towards mankind. The purpose was clear—to correct their attitude about the relationship between God and mankind. First of all, let us look at what actually mean for the word the image of God.Michael D. Guinan explained in his book The Pentateuch that the living God of Israel can be imaged only by living beings who do what God does. The writer agreed to his explanation due to the following reasons. Firstly, we could hardly find any sound argument to support if we treat the image of God as really physical appearance like God.
In the concept of the Israelites, they believed that they would die when they saw God. Hence no one should have seen God and recognized that man was actually had God’s appearance. Secondly the verse following 1: 27 gave some support to Guinan’s argument. God blessed them, saying to them, Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven and all living creatures that move on the earth. Fertility and being master of creatures were originally what God did. At that very moment people were told to do what God should do.
In other words, mankind should cooperate with God and take part in creation of God. This also explained the purpose of creating man. We could find an example to see how mankind participates in the creation of God. Yahweh allowed man to name all sort of animal. Naming throughout the Old Testament usually revealed one’s situation and character.
For example, Moses named his son Gershom which mean he was an alien in a foreign land, Gideon named one of his sons Abimelech meaning his father was king in certain degree revealing his hope to become a king. In Genesis, naming of animals means fixing their character —- God allow man to fix the character of animals which should be a part of God’s creation. God’s love and concern of human could be seen as he would go to find mankind in Eden but not leaving them on their own. When man sinned against God, his gracious love and grace was presented in the clothes he made for them. Yahweh loved and concerned man but not treating man as his slave as those gods in Babylonia religion.
One point must be noted was that being image of God does not mean being identical to God. In the creation plan of God, man had his own limitations. We must accept and recognize ourselves being image and that God had power and authority over us. Moreover, we should live in God’s purposes of creating man (Gen. 1: 28) Mankind was forbidden to eat the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as well as the tree of life that were also limitations to mankind.
The writer believed that it did not mean man should not have the ability to judge right and wrong but that man did not have the power to fix the rule of which things were good which were bad. For example, we all know that murder is something wrong according to the rules that originally set in our heart. However, we have no authority to set rules to say that murder is something good. Moreover, in God’s plan man did not have eternal life in his physical body (but not the spirit). These two were what God preserved for himself. However, mankind was not willing to accept his limitation imposed by God. In other words, they wanted to become God themselves thus sinned again God. We will go into detail on man’s failure in the next section. (G) Mankind’s Failure and God’s Reaction Throughout the history one may find that human being would try to explain the imperfection and suffering of man.
Different nation has different explanation towards such kind of problems. In ancient Near East, as discussed before, man may blame their national god for his lack of ability in protecting them when they got lost before their enemies. Concerning about the imperfection of man such as deaf, blind and lame, people usually thought that that was due to their sin or simply blame the creation god that his creation was imperfect. For instance, in the creation story of Canaan, imperfection of man was because of El Elyon who was drunk during his creation and creating some people who were blind, deaf and lame. The author was trying to defense for Yahweh and correct the wrong concept of the Israelites about God.
In Gen. 1 – 11, one may have an impact after reading that Yahweh is a God owned all sort of power and authority and work following his own will. The author tried to explain the poor experience of Israelites was due to their owned sin and not the disability of Yahweh to bring about salvation. Moreover, although there were punishments God was still love and concern His chosen people as he usually did in the story in Genesis. First of all, the Bible used the word very good to describe God’s creation.
The word very good in Hebrew actually means perfect. Hence the imperfection of man was clearly not of God’s fault in creation. However, the author did not give a clear explanation about the imperfection which did really existed. Nevertheless, implication of suffering due to man’s failure to serve as God’s image could be found in Gen. 3: 16ff The consequence of failure of being God’s image was recorded in Genesis.
The instruction from Yahweh was that man would die if they ate the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. One may misunderstand that God is telling a lie as Adam lived for 930 years but not died immediately as God said after eating the tree. Guinan explained that in God’s creation everything existed in right relationships. Death means breaking and collapse of such relationships. Such an explanation was valid as we can see different relationships were broken after man’s failure.
For instance, the partnership of God and man in creation (Gen. 2), the relationship between humans themselves (the story of Cain and Abel), the relationship between animals and humans (offspring of woman and snake) as well as the relationship between men and women were all broken due to man’s failure. In other words, they did died under this explanation. Despite the provision of clothes when God drove them away from Eden, we may find many other vocations that God’s grace came upon following the punishments. When Cain killed Abel, God’s judgement came upon him that he should became a restless wanderer but Yahweh promised that no one could killed him as whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance . Due to mankind’s corruption and immorality, Yahweh decided to destroy the generation at that time by sending a flood.
However, God’s grace could be seen through Noah’s salvation and the covenant that made with Noah after the flood that he would never destroy human beings and other creatures in such a way. Such a witness was important to the people in the post-exilic period under the circumstances that many people doubted the ability of Yahweh in protecting them as mentioned in section D. Not only it was remind to them that their poor experience was their own fault but not Yahweh’s disability but also the hope of salvation that even at that moment God did not cast out his people. Instead Yahweh was an infinite patient and forgiveness God and waiting for the repentance of Israel. The Israelites at that very moment should trust in God who was the origin of all power and authority instead of turning to other gods. Following the punishment God’s grace would come upon. (H) Creation—A Continuing Process God saw all he had made, and indeed it was very good. Evening came and morning came: the sixth day.
Thus heaven and earth were completed with all their array. On the seventh day God had completed the work he had been doing. He rested on the seventh day after all the work he had been doing. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day he rested after all his work of creating. In God’s creation plan, every creature was perfect and that the seventh day would come after his perfect creation.
As we have seen due to man’s failure to act as am image of God, relationships between God and mankind has been broken. In other words, the perfection of the creation has been broken. This leads to a question that whether the creation has been finished? Whether the seventh day has come? From the Bible, it seems to tell us that the creation of God has been finished. However, the purpose of which, i.e. the perfection of the creation, seemed has not been attained. Furthermore, we could see that God continued to participate in the history of man from Old Testament to New Testament and even until now.
God has never took a rest! If we take perfection as God’s final purpose for his creation, the creation is clearly still in process. We are now still in the sixth day of creation. God would really take a rest when the creation work is really finished i.e. every thing returned to the perfect situation when world has been created. The coming of the seventh day is under God’s plan and so it must come after every thing returned to order.
Actually, creation is a process through which formless become having order. Throughout the history, God has used different methods try to return the situation to perfect. He chose a people Israel for himself and hope that through creation of that particular nation can bring all other nations back to the original relationships. Seeing the corruption of the Israelites, it seemed that through humans themselves can make no help to complete his creation, he himself walked into the history by sending his son Jesus Christ becoming flesh. Through him the relationship between God and man is repaired. Through acceptance to be image of God, we could become partners of God in creation, by bringing people back to the Lord.
The Lord will come and that all creation would have been completed and then the seventh day arrives. (I) Conclusion Genesis 1 – 11 sometimes is classified as prologue of the Pentateuch. More than that it contains much valuable message that reminded and encouraged the Israelites in the post-exilic period. The center of which is in the creation story. The failure of mankind is a result of unwillingness to accept our position as image of God.
Adam and Eve behaved in such a way, the ancient Israelites behaved in such a way and even people nowadays behave in such a way when they are self-centered. The message is clear that God is the one who owned power and authority and he loves and concerns and waiting us to return. There is nothing new under the sun The message is for the post-exilic reader as well as all of us today. Bibliography (1) Helmer Ringgren. Religions of the Ancient Near East. London : The Camelot Press Ltd., 1973.
(2)Isaac Mendelsohn. ed. Religions of the Ancient Near East : Sumero-Akkadian Religious Texts and Ugaritic Epics. New York : The Liberal Arts Press, 1955. (3)R.
Norman Whybray. Introduction to the Pentateuch. Michigan : Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.,1995. (4)Michael D. Guinan. The Pentateuch.
The United state of America: The Liturgical Press, 1990. (5).