|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:14-19 In the fourth day's work, the creation of the sun, moon, and stars is accounted for. All these are the works of God. The stars are spoken of as they appear to our eyes, without telling their number, nature, place, size, or motions; for the Scriptures were written, not to gratify curiosity, or make us astronomers, but to lead us to God, and make us saints. The lights of heaven are made to serve him; they do it faithfully, and shine in their season without fail. We are set as lights in this world to serve God; but do we in like manner answer the end of our creation? We do not: our light does not shine before God, as his lights shine before us. We burn our Master's candles, but do not mind our Master's work.
Verse 19. - And the evening and the morning were the fourth day. The Scripture references to this day's work are both numerous and instructive (cf. Job 9:9; 37:31; Psalm 8; Psalm 19; Psalm 104; Psalm 147.). The Hebrew writers supply no information as to the astronomical theories which were prevalent in their time; yet "from other sources we have facts leading to the belief that even in the time of Moses there was not a little practical astronomy in the East, and some good theory. The Chaldeans at a very early period had ascertained the principal circles of the sphere, the position of the poles, and the nature of the apparent motions of the heavens as the results of revolution on an inclined axis. The Egyptian astronomers, whom we know through Thales, , taught the true nature of the moon's light, the sphericity of the earth, and the position of its five zones. Pythagoras, , knew, in addition, the obliquity of the ecliptic, the identity of the evening and morning star, and the earth's revolution round the sun" (Dawson, 'O.W.,' p. 207). Modern astronomy, though possessed of highly probable theories as to the formation of the universe, is still unable to speak with absolute precision with regard to this fourth day's work. Yet them are not wanting indirect corroborations of the truth of the Mosaic narrative from both it and geology. According to the sacred writer, the presently existing atmosphere, the distribution of land and water, the succession of day and night, and the regular alternation of the seasons, were established prior to the introduction of animal life upon the earth; and Sir Charles Lyell has demonstrated nothing more successfully than the dominion of "existing causes" from the Eozoic era downwards, and the sufficiency of these causes to account for all the changes which have taken place in the earth's crust. Again, geology attests the prevalence on our globe in prehistoric times of a much more uniform and high temperature than it now possesses, so late as the Miocene era a genial tropical climate having extended up beyond the Arctic circle, and in the earliest eras of the history of the globe, in all probability, the entire sphere bring so favored with excessive heat. Different causes have been suggested for this phenomenon; as, e.g., the greater heat of the cooling globe (the earliest geologists), a different distribution of land and water (Lyell), variations in the eccentricity of the earth's orbit (Herschell and. Croll), changes in the earth's axis (Evans, Drayson, Bell), and the greater intensity of the sun's heat; Sir W Thomson, 'Trans. Geolog. Soc.,' Glasgow, 1877). The Biblical narrative, by distinctly teaching that the sun was perfected on the fourth day, renders it intelligible that his influence on the surface of the earth was then at its greatest, causing tropical climates to prevail and tropical vegetation to abound, both of which have gradually disappeared from the polar regions in consequence of the sun's diminished heat. It remains only to note that the Chaldean Genesis preserves a striking reminiscence of this day's work; the obverse of the fifth creation tablet reading -
1. It was delightful, all that was fixed by the great gods,
2. Stars, their appearance (in figures) of animals he arranged.
3. To fix the year through the observation of their constellations.
4. Twelve months (or signs) of stars in three rows he arranged.
5. From the day when the year commences unto the close.
6. He marked the positions of the wandering stars (planets) to shine in their courses.
12. The god Uru (the moon) he caused to rise out, the night he overshadowed,
13. To fix it also for the light of the night, until the shining of the day.
19. When the god Shamas (the sun) in the horizon of heaven in the east.
20. formed beautifully and . .
21. to the orbit Shamas was perfected. "It appears that the Chaldean record contains the review and expression of satisfaction at the head of each tablet, while the Hebrew has it at the close of each act" ('Chaldean Genesis,' pp. 69-73).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the evening and the morning were the fourth day. Made by the rotation of the earth on its own axis, in the space of twenty four hours: this according to Capellus was the twenty first of April, and according to Bishop Usher the twenty sixth of October; or, as others, the fourth of September: and thus, as on the fourth day of the creation the sun was made, or appeared, so in the fourth millennium the sun of righteousness arose on our earth.
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