Genesis 1:4
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) And God saw.—This contemplation indicates, first, lapse of time; and next, that the judgment pronounced was the verdict of the Divine reason.

That it was good.—As light was a necessary result of motion in the world-mass, so was it indispensable for all that was to follow, inasmuch as neither vegetable nor animal life can exist without it. But the repeated approval by the Deity of each part and portion of this material universe (comp. Psalm 104:31) also condemns all Manichæan theories, and asserts that this world is a noble home for man, and life a blessing, in spite of its solemn responsibilities.

And God divided . . . —The first three creative days are all days of order and distribution, and have been called “the three separations.” But while on the first two days no new thing was created, but only the chaotic matter (described in Genesis 1:2) arranged, on day three there was the introduction of vegetable life. The division on the first day does not imply that darkness has a separate and independent existence, but that there were now periods of light and darkness; and thus by the end of the first day our earth must have advanced far on its way towards its present state. (See Note, Genesis 1:5.) It is, however, even more probable that the ultimate results of each creative word are summed up in the account given of it. No sooner did motion begin, than the separation of the air and water from the denser particles must have begun too. The immediate result was light; removed by a greater interval was the formation of an open space round the contracting earth-ball; still more remote was the formation of continents and oceans; but the separations must have commenced immediately that the “wind of Elohim” began to brood upon and move the chaotic mass. How far these separations had advanced before there were recurrent periods of light and darkness is outside the scope of the Divine narrative, which is not geological, but religious.

Genesis 1:4. God saw the light, &c. — He beheld it with approbation, as being exactly what he designed it to be, pleasant and useful, and perfectly adapted to answer its intended end. God divided — Made a separation between the light and the darkness, as to time, place, and use, that the one should succeed and exclude the other, and that by their vicissitudes they should make the day and the night. Though the darkness was now scattered by the light, it has its place, because it has its use: for as the light of the morning befriends the business of the day, so the shadows of the evening befriend the repose of the night. God has thus divided between light and darkness, because he would daily impress upon our minds that this is a world of mixture and changes. In heaven there is perpetual light and no darkness; in hell, utter darkness and no light: but in this world they are counter-changed, and we pass daily from the one to the other, that we may expect the like vicissitudes in the providence of God.1:3-5 God said, Let there be light; he willed it, and at once there was light. Oh, the power of the word of God! And in the new creation, the first thing that is wrought in the soul is light: the blessed Spirit works upon the will and affections by enlightening the understanding. Those who by sin were darkness, by grace become light in the Lord. Darkness would have been always upon fallen man, if the Son of God had not come and given us understanding, 1Jo 5:20. The light which God willed, he approved of. God divided the light from the darkness; for what fellowship has light with darkness? In heaven there is perfect light, and no darkness at all; in hell, utter darkness, and no gleam of light. The day and the night are the Lord's; let us use both to his honour, by working for him every day, and resting in him every night, meditating in his law both day and night.Then saw God the light that it was good. - God contemplates his work, and derives the feeling of complacence from the perception of its excellence. Here we have two other archetypal faculties displayed in God, which subsequently make their appearance in the nature of man, the understanding, and the judgment.

The perception of things external to Himself is an important fact in the relation between the Creator and the creature. It implies that the created thing is distinct from the creating Being, and external to Him. It therefore contradicts pantheism in all its forms.

The judgment is merely another branch of the apprehensive or cognitive faculty, by which we note physical and ethical relations and distinctions of things. It comes immediately into view on observing the object now called into existence. God saw "that it was good." That is good in general which fulfills the end of its being. The relation of good and evil has a place and an application in the physical world, but it ascends through all the grades of the intellectual and the moral. That form of the judgement which takes cognizance of moral distinctions is of so much importance as to have received a distinct name, - the conscience, or moral sense.

Here the moral rectitude of God is vindicated, inasmuch as the work of His power is manifestly good. This refutes the doctrine of the two principles, the one good and the other evil, which the Persian sages have devised in order to account for the presence of moral and physical evil along with the good in the present condition of our world.

Divided between the light and between the darkness. - God then separates light and darkness, by assigning to each its relative position in time and space. This no doubt refers to the vicissitudes of day and night, as we learn from the following verse:

4. divided the light from darkness—refers to the alternation or succession of the one to the other, produced by the daily revolution of the earth round its axis. He observed with approbation that it was pleasant and amiable, agreeable to God’s purpose and man’s use; and made a distinction or separation between them in place, time, and use, that the one should succeed and shut out the other, and so by their vicissitudes make the day and the night. And God saw the light, that it was good,.... Very pleasant and delightful, useful and beneficial; that is, he foresaw it would be good, of great service, as Picherellus (k) interprets it; for as yet there were no inhabitants of the earth to receive any advantage by it; see Ecclesiastes 11:7 besides, it was doubtless good to answer some present purposes, to prepare for the work of the two following days, before the great luminary was formed; as to dispel the darkness of heaven, and that which covered the deep; to rarefy, exhale, and draw up the lighter parts of the chaos, in order to form the wide extended ether, the expanded air, and the surrounding atmosphere, while the Spirit of God was agitating the waters, and separating them from the earthy parts; and which also might serve to unite and harden those which were to form the dry land, and also to warm that when it appeared, that it might bring forth grass, herbs, and fruit trees:

and God divided the light from the darkness: by which it should seem that they were mixed together, the particles of light and darkness; but "by what way is the light parted", severed and divided from darkness, is a question put to men by the Lord himself, who only can answer it, Job 38:24 he has so divided one from the other that they are not together at the same place and time; when light is in one hemisphere, darkness is in the other (l); and the one by certain constant revolutions is made to succeed the other; and by the motion of the one, the other gives way; as well as also God has divided and distinguished them by calling them by different names, as Aben Ezra, and is what next follows:

(k) In Cosmopoeiam, p. 267. (l) Milton in the place above referred to says, it was divided by the hemisphere. Paradise Lost, B. 7. l. 243, &c.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. And God … good] This phrase is repeated (Genesis 1:10; Genesis 1:12; Genesis 1:18; Genesis 1:21; Genesis 1:25, and in slightly amplified form, Genesis 1:31) at each successive creative act, except on the second day (Genesis 1:8, where see note). The purpose of this sentence is to express (1) that the phenomena of the natural world, in their respective provinces, fulfil the will of the Creator, (2) that what is in accordance with His will is “good” in His sight.

and God divided … darkness] By this simple and concrete expression it is implied, that God assigned their own places to “light” and “darkness” respectively, and that, before the moment of separation, the light had been confused and entangled in the darkness. The two elements were now divided, and apportioned to different dwelling places, cf. Job 38:19 quoted above.Verse 4. - And God saw the light, that it was good. The anthropomorphism of this verse is suggestive, as teaching that from the first the absolute and all-sufficient Elohim was an intelligent Spectator of the operation of his own laws and forces, and was profoundly interested in the results which they achieved - an amount and degree of interference with the vast machine of nature which would satisfy any rational theist of today. God saw, i.e. examined and judged the newly-finished product, investigated its nature and its properties, contemplated its uses, admired its excellences, noted its correspondence with his own Divine idea; and in all these respects he pronounced it good. Afterwards it is the particular arrangement effected, or condition induced, by the creative word that evokes the Divine commendation; here it is the creature itself - "perhaps as the one object in nature which forms the fittest representation of the Creator himself, who is Light, and in whom is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5), and of the true Light, which lighteth every man (John 1:9)" (Macdonald). And God divided between the light and the darkness. The celestial, bodies not having been constituted light-holders for the earth until the fourth day forbids the supposition that the luminous matter, on being eliminated from the chaotic mass, was forthwith transported towards and concentrated in the sun. The sun itself, it is now well known, is "a solid mass of highly igneous matter engirt by a bed of dense clouds, on the top of which there lies, encircling all, a floating phosphorescent or luminous atmosphere, the lower part of it splendid, but the upper of luster altogether dazzling, from which streams the flood of light that enlivens all surrounding spheres" (Nichol's 'Cyclopedia,' art. Sun). "If, therefore, with Laplace, we may assume that the physical history of the sun was the archetype of that of the various planetary bodies that compose our system, we must think of them also, in the process of condensation, developing luminous atmospheres, which would continue encircling them, and in fact making them suns, until, through their further condensation, those phosphorescent bands were broken up, and, becoming disengaged from their parent globes, were attracted towards, and subsequently centralized in, the photosphere of the sun. So far as our earth is concerned, that happened on the fourth day. On the first day the light would either ensphere it in a radiant cloud, or exist apart from it, like a sun, though always in the plane of its orbit" (Delitzsch). If the former, then manifestly, though revolving on its axis, the earth would not experience the vicissitude of day and night, which some conjecture was not at this time established; if the latter, then the same succession of light and darkness would be begun as was afterwards rendered permanent by the fourth day's work. The chief reasons for the latter alternative are the supposed necessity of understanding the term day as a period of twenty-four hours, and the apparent impossibility of explaining how the light could be divided from the darkness otherwise than by the diurnal revolution of the earth. The Hiphil of בָּדַל, however, means to disjoin what was previously mixed, and may simply refer to the separation of the luminous particles from the opaque mass. By that very act the light was divided from the darkness. It was henceforth to be no more commingled. "The light denotes all that is simply illuminating in its efficacy, all the luminous element; the darkness denotes all that is untransparent, dark, shadow-casting; both together denote the polarity of the created world as it exists between the light-formations and the night-formations - the constitution of the day and night" (Lange). The expression in Genesis 1:4, "God saw the light that it was good," for "God saw that the light was good," according to a frequently recurring antiptosis (cf. Genesis 6:2; Genesis 12:14; Genesis 13:10), is not an anthropomorphism at variance with enlightened thoughts of God; for man's seeing has its type in God's, and God's seeing is not a mere expression of the delight of the eye or of pleasure in His work, but is of the deepest significance to every created thing, being the seal of the perfection which God has impressed upon it, and by which its continuance before God and through God is determined. The creation of light, however, was no annihilation of darkness, no transformation of the dark material of the world into pure light, but a separation of the light from the primary matter, a separation which established and determined that interchange of light and darkness, which produces the distinction between day and night.
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