Genesis 1:21
And God created great whales, and every living creature that moves, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
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(21) God created great whales.—Whales, strictly speaking, are mammals, and belong to the creation of the sixth day. But tannin, the word used here, means any long creature, and is used of serpents in Exodus 7:9-10 (where, however, it may mean a crocodile), and in Deuteronomy 32:33; of the crocodile in Psalm 74:13, Isaiah 51:9, Ezekiel 29:3; and of sea monsters generally in Job 7:12. It thus appropriately marks the great Saurian age. The use, too, of the verb bârâ, “he created,” is no argument against its meaning to produce out of nothing, because it belongs not to these monsters, which may have been “evolved,” but to the whole verse, which describes the introduction of animal life; and this is one of the special creative acts which physical science acknowledges to be outside its domain.

After their kind.—This suggests the belief that the various genera and species of birds, fishes, and insects were from the beginning distinct, and will continue so, even if there be some amount of free play in the improvement and development of existing species.

Genesis 1:21. Great whales — The Hebrew word here rendered whales is sometimes put to signify great dragons of the wilderness; (see Jeremiah 9:11; Jeremiah 14:6; Malachi 1:3;) but it undoubtedly here means some very large inhabitants of the waters, and probably what we call whales, whose astonishing bulk and prodigious strength are amazing proofs of the power and glory of the Creator.1:20-25 God commanded the fish and fowl to be produced. This command he himself executed. Insects, which are more numerous than the birds and beasts, and as curious, seem to have been part of this day's work. The Creator's wisdom and power are to be admired as much in an ant as in an elephant. The power of God's providence preserves all things, and fruitfulness is the effect of his blessing.Created. - Here the author uses this word for the second time. In the selection of different words to express the divine operation, two considerations seem to have guided the author's pen - variety and propriety of diction. The diversity of words appears to indicate a diversity in the mode of exercising the divine power. On the first day Genesis 1:3 a new admission of light into a darkened region, by the partial rarefaction of the intervening medium, is expressed by the word "be." This may denote what already existed, but not in that place. On the second day Genesis 1:6-7 a new disposition of the air and the water is described by the verbs "be" and "make." These indicate a modification of what already existed. On the third day Genesis 1:9, Genesis 1:11 no verb is directly applied to the act of divine power. This agency is thus understood, while the natural changes following are expressly noticed. In the fourth Genesis 1:14, Genesis 1:16-17 the words "be," "make," and "give" occur, where the matter in hand is the manifestation of the heavenly bodies and their adaptation to the use of man. In these cases it is evident that the word "create" would have been only improperly or indirectly applicable to the action of the Eternal Being. Here it is employed with propriety; as the animal world is something new and distinct summoned into existence. It is manifest from this review that variety of expression has resulted from attention to propriety.

Great fishes. - Monstrous crawlers that wriggle through the water or scud along the banks.

Every living, breathing thing that creeps. - The smaller animals of the water and its banks.

Bird of wing. - Here the wing is made characteristic of the class, which extends beyond what we call birds. The Maker inspects and approves His work.

Ge 1:20-23. Fifth Day. The signs of animal life appeared in the waters and in the air.

20. moving creature—all oviparous animals, both among the finny and the feathery tribes—remarkable for their rapid and prodigious increase.

fowl—means every flying thing: The word rendered "whales," includes also sharks, crocodiles, &c.; so that from the countless shoals of small fish to the great sea monsters, from the tiny insect to the king of birds, the waters and the air were suddenly made to swarm with creatures formed to live and sport in their respective elements.

God created, i.e. produced out of most unfit matter, as if a man should out of a stone make bread, which requires as great a power as that which is properly called creation.

Great whales; those vast sea monsters known by that name, though elsewhere this word be applied to great dragons of the earth.

After his kind; in such manner as is declared in the first note upon Genesis 1:20. See Poole on "Genesis 1:20". And God created great whales,.... Which the Targums of Jonathan and Jarchi interpret of the Leviathan and its mate, concerning which the Jews have many fabulous things: large fishes are undoubtedly meant, and the whale being of the largest sort, the word is so rendered. Aelianus, from various writers, relates many things of the extraordinary size of whales; of one in the Indian sea five times bigger than the largest elephant, one of its ribs being twenty cubits (r); from Theocles, of one that was larger than a galley with three oars (s); and from Onesicritus and Orthagoras, of one that was half a furlong in length (t); and Pliny (u) speaks of one sort called the "balaena", and of one of them in the Indian sea, that took up four aces of land, and so Solinus (w); and from Juba, he relates there were whales that were six hundred feet in length, and three hundred sixty in breadth (x) but whales in common are but about fifty, seventy, eighty, or at most one hundred feet. Some interpret these of crocodiles, see Ezekiel 29:3 some of which are twenty, some thirty, and some have been said to be an hundred feet long (y) The word is sometimes used of dragons, and, if it has this sense here, must be meant of dragons in the sea, or sea serpents, leviathan the piercing serpent, and leviathan the crooked serpent, Isaiah 27:1 so the Jews (z); and such as the bishop of Bergen (a) speaks of as in the northern seas of a hundred fathom long, or six hundred English feet; and who also gives an account of a sea monster of an enormous and incredible size, that sometimes appears like an island at a great distance, called "Kraken" (b); now because creatures of such a prodigious size were formed out of the waters, which seemed so very unfit to produce them; therefore the same word is here made use of, as is in the creation of the heaven and the earth out of nothing, Genesis 1:1 because this production, though not out of nothing, yet was an extraordinary instance of almighty power,

And every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly after their kind; that is, every living creature that swims in the waters of the great sea, or in rivers, whose kinds are many, and their numbers not to be reckoned; see Gill on Genesis 1:20.

and every winged fowl after his kind; every fowl, and the various sorts of them that fly in the air; these were all created by God, or produced out of the water and out of the earth by his wonderful power:

and God saw that it was good; or foresaw that those creatures he made in the waters and in the air would serve to display the glory of his perfections, and be very useful and beneficial to man, he designed to create. (Some of the creatures described by the ancients must refer to animals that are now extinct. Some of these may have been very large dinasours. Ed.)

(r) Hist. Animal. l. 16. c. 12. (s) Ib. l. 17. c. 6. (t) Ibid. (u) Nat. Hist. l. 9. c. 3.((w) Polyhistor. c. 65. (x) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 32. c. 1.((y) See Thevenot's Travels, par. 1. c. 72. p. 246. Harris's Voyages, &c. vol. 1. p. 287, 485, 759. (z) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 74. 2.((a) History of Norway, p. 199. (b) Ibid. p. 210, &c.

And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the {q} waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

(q) The fish and fowls had both one beginning, in which we see that nature gives place to God's will, in that the one sort is made to fly about in the air, and the other to swim beneath in the water.

21. And God created] Observe the use of the word “create” (Heb. bârâ). It signalizes a new departure of the Divine work, when the principle of animal life (nephesh) is first communicated on earth, and living animals are formed: cf. note on Genesis 1:1.

The writer does not directly speak of fish; but the water animals are described under two main classes, which would include all marine and fresh-water creatures.

the great sea-monsters] Better, “the great monsters.” The word in the Hebrew is applied to monsters, or creatures of strange and monstrous size, such as occur in mythological and poetical pictures, e.g. the Dragon, Behemoth, and Leviathan; cf. Psalm 74:13; Psalm 148:7, Isaiah 27; Isaiah 51:9. It was also used of the crocodile (cf. Ezekiel 29:3), and of snakes (Exodus 7:9). The Hebrew did not know of the megatherium, ichthyosaurus, iguanodon, &c. But the expression here used is singularly appropriate to them.

The translation of the A.V., “great whales,” was based upon the versions LXX τὰ κήτη τὰ μεγάλα, Vulg. cete grandia; but the word is used of any animals of vast size. Moreover, there is no probability that the warm-blooded marine animal, which we call a “whale,” was known to the Israelites.

every living creature] Literally, “and all the living soul that moveth with which the waters swarmed.” This is the second main class of water animals, viz. all the things in which is the principle of animal life, and with which the waters teem. They are further described by their motion, “that moveth.” The Hebrew word denotes the gliding, swift movement of the fish for which there is no adequate English equivalent.

The LXX, πᾶσαν ψυχὴν ζώων ἑρπετῶν, gives too restricted a sense and suggests only lizards and reptiles: while the Vulg. omnem animam viventem atque motabilem, like the R.V., is too general.

which … brought forth abundantly] Better, “with which the waters teemed” or “swarmed.”

after their kinds] Cf. Genesis 1:11-12; the expression has reference to the great variety of species of water animals.

and every winged fowl] or “and every winged flying thing”: LXX πᾶν πετεινὸν πτερωτόν. The actual word “bird” is not used, doubtless intentionally, in order that the class may comprehend as many varieties as possible of winged creatures.

The assignment of the creation of birds and fishes to the second day after that of vegetation is probably due to the view that an ascending scale of vitality is represented by plants, heavenly bodies, fish, and birds. Clearly the Israelite drew a very sharp line of distinction between the vegetable and the animal world. Modern science has shewn how infinitely fine is this line; and geology has shewn that, in the earliest rock formations which contain fossils, it is difficult to decide whether vegetable or animal life recedes into the most distant antiquity.Verse 21. - And God created (bara, is in ver. 1, to indicate the introduction of an absolutely new thing, viz., the principle of animal life) great whales. Tanninim, from tanan; Greek, τείνω; Latin, tendo; Sansc., tan, to stretch. These were the first of the two classes into which the sheretzim of the previous verse were divided. The word is used of serpents (Exodus 7:9; Deuteronomy 32:33; Psalm 91:13; Jeremiah 51:34), of the crocodile (Ezekiel 29:3; Ezekiel 32:2), and may therefore here describe "great sea monsters" in general: τὰ κ´τη τὰ μεγάλα (LXX.); "monstrous crawlers that wriggle through the water or scud along the banks (Murphy); whales, crocodiles, and other sea monsters (Delitzsch); gigantic aquatic and amphibious reptiles (Kalisch, Macdonald). And every living creature (nephesh chayyah) which moveth. Literally, the moving, from ramas, to move or creep. This is the second class of sheretzim. The term remes is specially descriptive. of creeping animals (Genesis 9:2), either on land (Genesis 7:14) or in water (Psalm 69:35), though here it clearly signifies aquatic tribes. Which the waters brought forth abundantly after their kind. The generic terms are thus seen to include many distinct orders and species, created each after its kind. And every winged fowl after his kind. Why fowls and fish were created on the same day is rot to be explained by any supposed similarity between the air and the water (Luther, Lyra, Calvin. etc. or any fancied resemblance between the bodily organisms of birds and fishes, but by the circumstance that the firmament and the waters were separated on the second day, to which it was designed that this day should have a correspondence. And God saw that it was good. As in every other instance, the productions of this day approve themselves to the Divine Creator's judgment; but on this day he marks his complacency by a step which he takes for the first time, viz., that of pronouncing a benediction on the newly-created tribes. Nothing could more evince the importance which, in the Creator's judgment, attached to this day's work. The Fifth Day. - "God said: Let the waters swarm with swarms, with living beings, and let birds fly above the earth in the face (the front, i.e., the side turned towards the earth) of the firmament." ישׁרצוּ and יעופף are imperative. Earlier translators, on the contrary, have rendered the latter as a relative clause, after the πετεινὰ πετόμενα of the lxx, "and with birds that fly;" thus making the birds to spring out of the water, in opposition to Genesis 2:19. Even with regard to the element out of which the water animals were created the text is silent; for the assertion that שׁרץ is to be understood "with a causative colouring" is erroneous, and is not sustained by Exodus 8:3 or Psalm 105:30. The construction with the accusative is common to all verbs of multitude. שׁרץ and שׁרץ, to creep and swarm, is applied, "without regard to size, to those animals which congregate together in great numbers, and move about among one another." חיּה גפשׁ, anima viva, living soul, animated beings (vid., Genesis 2:7), is in apposition to שׁרץ, "swarms consisting of living beings." The expression applies not only to fishes, but to all water animals from the greatest to the least, including reptiles, etc. In carrying out His word, God created (Genesis 1:21) the great "tanninim," - lit., the long-stretched, from תּנן, to stretch-whales, crocodiles, and other sea-monsters; and "all moving living beings with which the waters swarm after their kind, and all (every) winged fowl after its kind." That the water animals and birds of every kind were created on the same day, and before the land animals, cannot be explained on the ground assigned by early writers, that there is a similarity between the air and the water, and a consequent correspondence between the two classes of animals. For in the light of natural history the birds are at all events quite as near to the mammalia as to the fishes; and the supposed resemblance between the fins of fishes and the wings of birds, is counterbalanced by the no less striking resemblance between birds and land animals, viz., that both have feet. The real reason is rather this, that the creation proceeds throughout from the lower to the higher; and in this ascending scale the fishes occupy to a great extent a lower place in the animal economy than birds, and both water animals and birds a lower place than land animals, more especially the mammalia. Again, it is not stated that only a single pair was created of each kind; on the contrary, the words, "let the waters swarm with living beings," seem rather to indicate that the animals were created, not only in a rich variety of genera and species, but in large numbers of individuals. The fact that but one human being was created at first, by no means warrants the conclusion that the animals were created singly also; for the unity of the human race has a very different signification from that of the so-called animal species. - (Genesis 1:22). As animated beings, the water animals and fowls are endowed, through the divine blessing, with the power to be fruitful and multiply. The word of blessing was the actual communication of the capacity to propagate and increase in numbers.
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