Genesis 2:4
These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,
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(4) When they were created.—Heb., in, or upon, their creation.

In the day.—Viewed in its several stages, and with reference to the weekly rest, there were six days of creation, which are here described as one day, because they were but divisions in one continuous act.

The Lord God.—Jehovah-Elohim. (See Excursus at the end of this book.)


The Bereshit Rabba argues that Adam and Eve remained in their original state of innocence for six hours only. Others have supposed that the events recorded in Genesis 2:4 to Genesis 3:24 took place in the course of twenty-four hours, and suppose that this is proved by what is said in Genesis 2:4, that the earth and heavens, with Adam and the garden, were all made in one day, before the end of which they suppose that he fell. This view, like that which in Genesis 1 interprets each creative day of a similar period, really amounts to this: that the narrative of Holy Scripture is to be forced to bend to an arbitrary meaning put upon a single word, and drawn not from its meaning in Hebrew, but from its ordinary use in English. More correctly, we might venture to say that the use of the word day in Genesis 2:4 is a Divine warning against so wilful a method of exposition.

Read intelligently, the progress of time is carefully marked. In Genesis 2:6 the earth is watered by a mist: in paradise there are mighty rivers. Now, mist would not produce rivers; and if there were mist in the morning, and rain in the afternoon, a long period of time would still be necessary before the falling rains would form for themselves definite channels. A vast space must have elapsed between the mist period and that in which the Tigris and Euphrates rolled along their mighty floods.

And with this the narrative agrees. All is slow and gradual. God does not summon the Garden of Eden into existence by a sudden command, but He “planted” it, and “out of the ground He “made to grow” such trees as were most remarkable for beauty, and whose fruit was most suitable for human food. In some favoured spot, in soil fertile and fit for their development, God, by a special providence, caused such plants to germinate as would best supply the needs of a creature so feeble as man, until, by the aid of his reason, he has invented those aids and helps which the animals possess in their own bodily organisation. The creation of full-grown trees belongs to the region of magic. A book which gravely recorded such an act would justly be relegated to the Apocrypha; for the God of revelation works by law, and with such long ages of preparation that human eagerness is often tempted to cry, “How long?” and to pray that God would hasten His work.

And next, as regards Adam. Placed in a garden, two of the rivers of which—the Tigris and the Euphrates—seem to show that the earth at his creation had already settled down into nearly its present shape, he is commanded “to dress and keep it.” The inspired narrator would scarcely have spoken in this way if Adam’s continuance in the garden had been but a few hours or days. We find him living there so long that his solitude becomes wearisome to him, and the Creator at length affirms that it is not good for him to be alone. Meanwhile, Adam is himself searching for a partner, and in the hope of finding one, he studies all the animals around him, observes their ways, gives them names, discovers many valuable qualities in them, makes several of them useful to him, but still finds none among them that answers to his wants. But when we read that “Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowls of the air, and to every beast of the field,” we cannot but see that this careful study of the creatures round him must have continued through a long period before it could have resulted in their being thus generally classified and named in Adam’s mind. At length Eve is brought, and his words express the lively pleasure of one who, after repeated disappointments, had at length found that of which he was in search. “This,” he says, “this time is bone of my bone.”

How long Adam and Eve enjoyed their simple happiness after their marriage is left untold; but this naming of the animals at least suggests that some time elapsed before the fall. Though Adam had observed their habits, yet he would scarcely have given many of them names before he had a rational companion with whom to hold discourse. For some, indeed, he would have found names when trying to call them to him, but only for such as seemed fit for domestication. The rest he would pass by till there was some one to whom to describe them. Thus Eve seems to have known something of the sagacity of the serpent. She, too, as well as Adam, recognised the voice of Jehovah walking in the garden (chap. 3:8); and the girdles spoken of in Genesis 2:7 seem also to indicate, by their elaboration, that the guilty pair remained in Paradise some time after the fall. The indications of time are, however, less numerous and definite after the creation of Eve than before; but certainly Adam was for some considerable period a denizen of Paradise, and probably there was a longer time than is generally supposed spent in innocence by him and his wife, and also some delay between the fall and their expulsion from their happy home.

Genesis 2:4. The generations of the heavens — That is, a true and full account of their origin or beginning, and of the order in which the sundry parts and creatures therein were formed.

2:4-7 Here is a name given to the Creator, Jehovah. Where the word LORD is printed in capital letters in our English Bibles, in the original it is Jehovah. Jehovah is that name of God, which denotes that he alone has his being of himself, and that he gives being to all creatures and things. Further notice is taken of plants and herbs, because they were made and appointed to be food for man. The earth did not bring forth its fruits of itself: this was done by Almighty power. Thus grace in the soul grows not of itself in nature's soil, but is the work of God. Rain also is the gift of God; it came not till the Lord God caused it. Though God works by means, yet when he pleases he can do his own work without them; and though we must not tempt God in the neglect of means, we must trust God, both in the use and in the want of means. Some way or other, God will water the plants of his own planting. Divine grace comes down like the dew, and waters the church without noise. Man was made of the small dust, such as is on the surface of the earth. The soul was not made of the earth, as the body: pity then that it should cleave to the earth, and mind earthly things. To God we must shortly give an account, how we have employed these souls; and if it be found that we have lost them, though it were to gain the world, we are undone for ever! Fools despise their own souls, by caring for their bodies before their souls. - Part II. The development

- Section II-- The Man

- X. The Field

4. תולדות tôledôt "generations, products, developments." That which comes from any source, as the child from the parent, the record of which is history.

יהוה yehovâh. This word occurs about six thousand times in Scripture. It is obvious from its use that it is, so to speak, the proper name of God. It never has the article. It is never changed for construction with another noun. It is never accompanied with a suffix. It is never applied to any but the true God. This sacred exclusiveness of application, indeed, led the Jews to read always in place of it אדוני 'adônāy, or, if this preceded it, אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym, to intimate which the vowel points of one of these terms were subscribed to it. The root of this name is חוה chāvâh, an older variety of היה hāyâh, which, as we have seen, has three meanings, - "be" in the sense of coming into existence, "be" in that of becoming, and "be" in that of merely existing. The first of these meanings has no application to God, who had no beginning of existence.

The last applies to God, but affords no distinctive characteristic, as it belongs equally to all objects that have existence. The second is proper to God in the sense, not of acquiring any new attribute, but of becoming active from a state of repose. But he becomes active to the eye of man only by causing some new effect to be, which makes its appearance in the world of sensible things. He becomes, then, only by causing to be or to become. Hence, he that becomes, when applied to the Creator, is really he that causes to be. This name, therefore, involves the active or causative force of the root from which it springs, and designates God in relation with the system of things he has called into being, and especially with man, the only intelligent observer of him or of his works in this nether world. It distinguishes him as the Author of being, and therefore the Creator, the worker of miracles, the performer of promise, the keeper of covenant. Beginning with the י (y) of personality, it points out God as the person whose habitual character it has become to cause his purpose to take place. Hence, אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym designates God as the Everlasting, the Almighty, in his unchangeable essence, as he is before as well as after creation. יהוה .noitaer yehvâh distinguishes him as the personal Self-existent, and Author of all existing things, who gives expression and effect to his purpose, manifests himself thereby as existing, and maintains a spiritual intercourse with his intelligent creatures.

The vowel marks usually placed under the consonants of this word are said to belong to אדוני 'adonāy; and its real pronunciation, which is supposed to be lost, is conjectured to have been יהוה yehovâh. This conjecture is supported by the analogy of the supposed antique third singular masculine imperfect of the verb הוה hāvâh, and by the Greek forms ΙΑΩ IAW and ΙΑΒΕ IABE which are found in certain authors (Diod. Sic. i. 19; Macrob. Saturn i. 18; Theodoret, Quaest. xv. ad Exod.). It is true, indeed, when it has a prefix all its vowels coincide with those of אדדי 'adonāy. But otherwise the vowel under the first letter is different, and the qamets at the end is as usual in proper names ending in the Hebrew letter ה (h) as in others. יהוה yehovâh also finds an anology in the word ירחם yerochām. In the forms ΙΑΩ IAW and ΙΑΒΕ IABE the Greek vowels doubtless represent the Hebrew consonants, and not any vowel points. The Hebrew letter ה (h) is often represented by the Greek letter α (a). From יהוה yaheovâh we may obtain רהוּ yehû at the end of compounds, and therefore, expect יהוּ yehû at the beginning. But the form at the beginning is יהו yehô or יו yô, which indicates the pronunciation יהוה yehovâh as current with the punctuators. All this countenances the suggestion that the casual agreement of the two nouns Yahweh and Adonai in the principal vowels was the circumstance that facilitated the Jewish endeavor to avoid uttering the proper name of God except on the most solemn occasions. יהוה yehovâh, moreover, rests on precarious grounds. The Hebrew analogy would give יהוה yı̂hveh not יהוה yehovâh for the verbal form. The middle vowel cholem (o) may indicate the intensive or active force of the root, but we lay no stress on the mode of pronunciation, since it cannot be positively ascertained.

5. שׂדה śādeh "plain, country, field," for pasture or tillage, in opposition to גן gan, "garden, park."

7. נשׂמה neśāmâh "breath," applied to God and man only.

We meet with no division again in the text till we come to Genesis 3:15, when the first minor break in the narrative occurs. This is noted by the intervening space being less than the remainder of the line. The narrative is therefore so far regarded as continuous.

We are now entering upon a new plan of narrative, and have therefore to notice particularly that law of Hebrew composition by which one line of events is carried on without interruption to its natural resting-point; after which the writer returns to take up a collateral train of incidents, that are equally requisite for the elucidation of his main purpose, though their insertion in the order of time would have marred the symmetry and perspicuity of the previous narrative. The relation now about to be given is posterior, as a whole, to that already given as a whole; but the first incident now to be recorded is some time prior to the last of the preceding document.

Hitherto we have adhered closely to the form of the original in our rendering, and so have made use of some inversions which are foreign to our prose style. Hereafter we shall deviate as little as possible from the King James Version.

The document upon which we are now entering extends from Genesis 2:4 to Genesis 4. In the second and third chapters the author uses the combination אלהים יהוה yehovâh 'ĕlohı̂ym "the Lord God," to designate the Supreme Being; in the fourth he drops אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym "God," and employs יהוה yehovâh "the Lord," alone. So far, then, as the divine appellation is concerned, the fourth chapter is as clearly separable from the second and third as the first document is from the present. If diversity of the divine name were a proof of diversity of authorship, we should here have two documents due to different authors, each of them different also from the author of the first document. The second and third chapters, though agreeing in the designation of God, are clearly distinguishable in style.

The general subject of this document is the history of man to the close of the line of Cain and the birth of Enosh. This falls into three clearly marked sections - the origin, the fall, and the family of Adam. The difference of style and phraseology in its several parts will be found to correspond with the diversity in the topics of which it treats. It reverts to an earlier point of time than that at which we had arrived in the former document, and proceeds upon a new plan, exactly adapted to the new occasion.


4. These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth—the history or account of their production. Whence did Moses obtain this account so different from the puerile and absurd fictions of the heathen? Not from any human source, for man was not in existence to witness it; not from the light of nature or reason, for though they proclaim the eternal power and Godhead by the things which are made, they cannot tell how they were made. None but the Creator Himself could give this information, and therefore it is through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God (Heb 11:3). i.e. These things mentioned in Ge 1 are a true and full relation of their generations, i.e. of their original or beginnings.

In the day; not strictly so called, but largely taken for the time, as it is Genesis 2:17 Ruth 4:5 Luke 19:42 2 Corinthians 6:2.

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth, when they were created,.... That is, the above account, delivered in the preceding chapter, is a history of the production of the heavens and earth, and of all things in them; the creation of them being a kind of generation, and the day of their creation a sort of birthday; see Genesis 5:1.

in the day that the Lord God made the earth, and the heavens; meaning not any particular day, not the first day, in which the heavens and the earth were created; but referring to the whole time of the six days, in which everything in them, and relating to them, were made. Here another name is added to God, his name "Jehovah", expressive of his being and perfections, particularly his eternity and immutability, being the everlasting and unchangeable "I am", which is, and was, and is to come: this name, according to the Jews, is not to be pronounced, and therefore they put the points of "Adonai", directing it so to be read; and these two names, "Jehovah Elohim", or "Adonai" and "Elohim", with them make the full and perfect name of God, and which they observe is here very pertinently given him, upon the perfection and completion of his works.

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,
4. These are the generations … created] These words, as they stand here, seem to form a summary of the preceding account of the Creation. Elsewhere, however, the phrase “These are the generations, &c.” is the formula employed in P as a heading, title, or superscription, to introduce the passage that follows. Cf. Genesis 5:1, “The generations of Adam,” Genesis 6:9 (Noah), Genesis 10:1 (The Sons of Noah), Genesis 11:10 (Shem), 27 (Terah), Genesis 25:12 (Ishmael). The conjecture has been made that the formula “These are the generations, &c.” originally stood at the beginning of ch. 1, and was transferred to its present place, either, in order that the book might begin with the word b’rêshîth (= “In the beginning”), or to obtain a sentence which would serve both as an epitome of the opening section and as a link with the one that follows.

generations] Heb. tô-l’-dôth = “successions by descent,” usually meaning “the chronicles,” or “genealogies,” of persons and families, is here metaphorically applied to “the heaven and the earth” in the sense of the “history” of their origin and their offspring. LXX, therefore, gives an explanatory rendering, αὕτη ἡ βίβλος γενέσεως οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς.

It is quite a different word from that found, e.g. in Genesis 15:16, “in the fourth generation” (Heb. dôr, LXX γενέα).

created] This word closes the first section of the book, and there should be a full stop after it. The next section, giving another narrative, at of the creation of man and of Paradise, opens with the words “In the day that.”

The first section has been derived from the materials of the Priestly Code (P), the second is from the Prophetic Writing (J). The styles which characterize the two sources offer a marked contrast.

4b–7. The Creation of Man

4. in the day that] There is no allusion here to the Days of Creation. It is simply the vivid Hebrew idiom for “at the time when.”

the Lord God] The Hebrew words “Jahveh Elohim” are used in this section for the Almighty. On the Sacred Names, see Introduction. The use of JHVH, the Name of the God of Israel (Exodus 3) which the Jews in reverence forbore to pronounce, and which received, in the 16th century, the wholly erroneous pronunciation of “Jehovah,” is one of the characteristics of the writing of J. In the previous section, Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:4 a, the Sacred Name is “Elohim” = “God”; and the use of “Elohim” is prevalent in the P Narratives of Gen. In the present section, Genesis 2:4 b–3:24, the Sacred Name is a combination of Jahveh and Elohim, i.e. Jehovah (= Lord) and “God.” In the next section, the story of Cain and Abel, Jehovah alone is used; throughout the rest of Genesis we find either Jehovah or Elohim alone. The combination of the two Sacred Names is elsewhere of exceedingly rare occurrence. How to account for it in the present passage, is a problem to which no certain answer can be given. The theory that “God” (Elohim) is used for the God of Nature, and Lord (Jehovah) for the God of Revelation, in unsupported by the facts: e.g. “God” (Elohim) is the name used of the Deity in ch. 17 at the establishment of the covenant of circumcision: the Lord (Jahveh) is the name used at the destruction of the cities or the Plain (Genesis 19:1-28, see note on Genesis 19:29). There seems no reason to assign any doctrinal ground for the exceptional usage.

It should most probably be attributed to the handiwork of the compiler. On the first occasion in which the sacred title of the God or Israel was used, he wished to emphasize the fact that Jehovah and the Elohim of Creation were one and the same.

Another suggestion has been made, that the Paradise Narrative was current in two versions, in one of which the Sacred Name was Jahveh, in the other Elohim, and that the compiler who was acquainted with both versions left a trace of the fact in the combined names. But the compiler has not resorted to any such expedient elsewhere.

earth and heaven] An unusual order of words, found only in Psalm 148:13.

Verse 4. - These are the generations is the usual heading for the different sections into which the Book of Genesis is divided (vial. Genesis 5:1; Genesis 6:9; Genesis 10:1; Genesis 11:10, 27; Genesis 25:12, 19; Genesis 36:1; Genesis 37:2). Misled by the LXX., who render toldoth by ἡ βίβλος γενέσεως, Ranks, Title, Havernick, Tuch, Ewald, and Stahelin disconnect the entire verse from the second section, which says nothing about the origination of the heavens and the earth, and append it to the preceding, in which their creation is described. Ilgen improves on their suggestion by transferring it to the commencement of Genesis 1, as an appropriate superscription. Dreschler, Vaihingel Bohlen, Oehler, Macdonald, et alii divide the verse into two clauses, and annex the former to what precedes, commencing the ensuing narrative with the latter. All of these proposals are, however, rendered unnecessary by simply observing that toldoth (from yaladh, to bear, to beget; hence begettings, procreations, evolutions, developments) does not describe the antecedents, but the consequents, of either thing or Person (Rosen., Keil, Kalisch). The toldoth of Noah are not the genealogical list of the patriarch's ancestry, but the tabulated register of his posterity; and so the generations of the heavens and the earth refer not to their original production (Gesenius), but to their onward movements from creation downwards (Keil). Hence with no incongruity, but with singular propriety, the first half of the present verse, ending with the words when they were created, literally, in tier creation, stands at the commencement of the section in which the forward progression of the universe is traced. The point of departure in this subsequent evolution of the material heavens and earth is further specified as being in the day that the Lord God (Jehovah Elohim) made the earth and the heavens; not the heavens and the earth, which would have signified the universe (cf. on Genesis 1:1), and carried hack the writer s thought to the initial act of creation; but the earth and the atmospheric firmament, which indicates the period embracing the second and (possibly) the third creative days as the terminus aguo of the generations to be forthwith recorded. Then it was that the heavens and the earth in their development took a clear and decided step forward in the direction of man and the human family (was it in the appearance of vegetation?); and in this thought perhaps will be found the key to the significance of the new name for the Divine Being which is used exclusively throughout the present section - Jehovah Elohim. From the frequency of its use, and the circumstance that it never has the article, Jehovah may be regarded as the proper Personal name of God. Either falsely interpreting Exodus 20:7 and Leviticus 24:11, or following some ancient superstition (mysterious names of deities were used generally in the East; the Egyptian Hermes had a name which (Cic. 'de Natura Deorum,' 8, 16) durst not be uttered: Furst), the later Hebrews invested this nomen tetra. grammaton with such sanctity that it might not bepronounced (Philo, Vit. Mosis, 3:519, 529). Accordingly, it was their custom to write it in the sacred text with the vowel points of Adonai, or, if that preceded, Elohim. Hence considerable doubt now exists as to its correct pronunciation. Etymologically viewed it is a future form of havah, an old form of hayah; uncertainty as to what future has occasioned many different suggestions as to what constituted its primitive vocalization. According to the evidence which scholars have collected, the choice lies between

(1) Jahveh (Gesenius, Ewald, Reland, Oehler, Macdonald, the Samaritan),

(2) Yehveh or Yeheveh (Furst, W. L. Alexander, in Kitto's 'Cyclopedia'), and

(3) Jehovah (Michaelis, Meyer, Stier, Hoelmann, Tregelles, Murphy). Perhaps the preponderance of authority inclines to the first; but the common punctuation is not so indefensible as some writers allege. Gesenius admits that it more satisfactorily accounts for the abbreviated syllables יִהו and יו than the pronunciation which he himself favors. Murphy thinks that the substitution of Adonai for Jehovah was facilitated by the agreement of their vowel points. The locus classicus for its signification is Exodus 3:14, in which God defines himself as "I am that I am," and commands Moses to tell the children of Israel that Ehyeh had sent him. Hengstenberg and Keil conclude that absolute self-existence is the essential idea represented by the name (cf. Exodus 3:14; ὁ ὤν, LXX.; Revelation 1:4, 8; ὥν καὶ ὁ ἠν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος, vd. Furst, 'Lex. sub nora.'). Baumgarten and Delitzsch, laying stress on its future form, regard it as = the Becoming One, with reference to the revelation, rather than the essence, of the Divine nature. Macdonald, from the circumstance that it was not used till after the fall, discovers a pointing forward to Jehovah as ὁ ἑρχόμενος in connection with redemption. Others, deriving from a hiphil future, take it as denoting "he who causes to be, the Fulfiller," and find in this an explanation of Exodus 6:3 (Exell). May not all these ideas be more or less involved in the fullness of the Divine name? As distinguished from Elohim, Deus omnipotens, the mighty One, Jehovah is the absolute, self-existent One, who manifests himself to man, and, in particular, enters into distinct covenant engagements for his redemption, which he in due time fulfils. In the present section the names are conjoined partly to identify Jehovah with Elohim, and partly because the subject of which it treats is the history of man. Genesis 2:4The historical account of the world, which commences at the completion of the work of creation, is introduced as the "History of the heavens and the earth," and treats in three sections, (a) of the original condition of man in paradise (Genesis 2:5-25); (b) of the fall (Genesis 3); (c) of the division of the human race into two widely different families, so far as concerns their relation to God (Genesis 4).

The words, "these are the tholedoth of the heavens and the earth when they were created," form the heading to what follows. This would never have been disputed, had not preconceived opinions as to the composition of Genesis obscured the vision of commentators. The fact that in every other passage, in which the formula "these (and these) are the tholedoth" occurs (viz., ten times in Genesis; also in Numbers 3:1; Ruth 4:18; 1 Chronicles 1:29), it is used as a heading, and that in this passage the true meaning of תולדות precludes the possibility of its being an appendix to what precedes, fully decides the question. The word תולדות, which is only used in the plural, and never occurs except in the construct state or with suffixes, is a Hiphil noun from הוליד, and signifies literally the generation or posterity of any one, then the development of these generations or of his descendants; in other words, the history of those who are begotten or the account of what happened to them and what they performed. In no instance whatever is it the history of the birth or origin of the person named in the genitive, but always the account of his family and life. According to this use of the word, we cannot understand by the tholedoth of the heavens and the earth the account of the origin of the universe, since according to the biblical view the different things which make up the heavens and the earth can neither be regarded as generations or products of cosmogonic and geogonic evolutions, nor be classed together as the posterity of the heavens and the earth. All the creatures in the heavens and on earth were made by God, and called into being by His word, notwithstanding the fact that He caused some of them to come forth from the earth. Again, as the completion of the heavens and the earth with all their host has already been described in Genesis 2:1-3, we cannot understand by "the heavens and the earth," in Genesis 2:4, the primary material of the universe in its elementary condition (in which case the literal meaning of הוליד would be completely relinquished, and the "tholedoth of the heavens and the earth" be regarded as indicating this chaotic beginning as the first stage in a series of productions), but the universe itself after the completion of the creation, at the commencement of the historical development which is subsequently described. This places its resemblance to the other sections, commencing with "these are the generations," beyond dispute. Just as the tholedoth of Noah, for example, do not mention his birth, but contain his history and the birth of his sons; so the tholedoth of the heavens and the earth do not describe the origin of the universe, but what happened to the heavens and the earth after their creation. בּהבּראם does not preclude this, though we cannot render it "after they were created." For even if it were grammatically allowable to resolve the participle into a pluperfect, the parallel expressions in Genesis 5:1-2, would prevent our doing so. As "the day of their creation" mentioned there, is not a day after the creation of Adam, but the day on which he was created; the same words, when occurring here, must also refer to a time when the heavens and the earth were already created: and just as in Genesis 5:1 the creation of the universe forms the starting-point to the account of the development of the human race through the generations of Adam, and is recapitulated for that reason; so here the creation of the universe is mentioned as the starting-point to the account of its historical development, because this account looks back to particular points in the creation itself, and describes them more minutely as the preliminaries to the subsequent course of the world. הבראם is explained by the clause, "in the day that Jehovah God created the earth and the heavens." Although this clause is closely related to what follows, the simplicity of the account prevents our regarding it as the protasis of a period, the apodosis of which does not follow till Genesis 2:5 or even Genesis 2:7. The former is grammatically impossible, because in Genesis 2:5 the noun stands first, and not the verb, as we should expect in such a case (cf. Genesis 3:5). The latter is grammatically tenable indeed, since Genesis 2:5, Genesis 2:6, might be introduced into the main sentence as conditional clauses; but it is not probable, inasmuch as we should then have a parenthesis of most unnatural length. The clause must therefore be regarded as forming part of the heading. There are two points here that are worthy of notice: first, the unusual combination, "earth and heaven," which only occurs in Psalm 148:13, and shows that the earth is the scene of the history about to commence, which was of such momentous importance to the whole world; and secondly, the introduction of the name Jehovah in connection with Elohim. That the hypothesis, which traces the interchange in the two names in Genesis to different documents, does not suffice to explain the occurrence of Jehovah Elohim in Genesis 2:4-3:24, even the supporters of this hypothesis cannot possibly deny. Not only is God called Elohim alone in the middle of this section, viz., in the address to the serpent, a clear proof that the interchange of the names has reference to their different significations; but the use of the double name, which occurs here twenty times though rarely met with elsewhere, is always significant. In the Pentateuch we only find it in Exodus 9:30; in the other books of the Old Testament, in 2 Samuel 7:22, 2 Samuel 7:25; 1 Chronicles 17:16-17; 2 Chronicles 6:41-42; Psalm 84:8, Psalm 84:11; and Psalm 50:1, where the order is reversed; and in every instance it is used with peculiar emphasis, to give prominence to the fact that Jehovah is truly Elohim, whilst in Psalm 50:1 the Psalmist advances from the general name El and Elohim to Jehovah, as the personal name of the God of Israel. In this section the combination Jehovah Elohim is expressive of the fact, that Jehovah is God, or one with Elohim. Hence Elohim is placed after Jehovah. For the constant use of the double name is not intended to teach that Elohim who created the world was Jehovah, but that Jehovah, who visited man in paradise, who punished him for the transgression of His command, but gave him a promise of victory over the tempter, was Elohim, the same God, who created the heavens and the earth.

The two names may be distinguished thus: Elohim, the plural of אלוהּ, which is only used in the loftier style of poetry, is an infinitive noun from אלהּ to fear, and signifies awe, fear, then the object of fear, the highest Being to be feared, like פּחד, which is used interchangeably with it in Genesis 31:42, Genesis 31:53, and מורא in Psalm 76:12 (cf. Isaiah 8:12-13). The plural is not used for the abstract, in the sense of divinity, but to express the notion of God in the fulness and multiplicity of the divine powers. It is employed both in a numerical, and also in an intensive sense, so that Elohim is applied to the (many) gods of the heathen as well as to the one true God, in whom the highest and absolute fulness of the divine essence is contained. In this intensive sense Elohim depicts the one true God as the infinitely great and exalted One, who created the heavens and the earth, and who preserves and governs every creature. According to its derivation, however, it is object rather than subject, so that in the plural form the concrete unity of the personal God falls back behind the wealth of the divine potencies which His being contains. In this sense, indeed, both in Genesis and the later, poetical, books, Elohim is used without the article, as a proper name for the true God, even in the mouth of the heathen (1 Samuel 4:7); but in other places, and here and there in Genesis, it occurs as an appellative with the article, by which prominence is given to the absoluteness of personality of God (Genesis 5:22; Genesis 6:9, etc.).

The name Jehovah, on the other hand, was originally a proper name, and according to the explanation given by God Himself to Moses (Exodus 3:14-15), was formed from the imperfect of the verb הוה equals היה. God calls Himself אהיח אשׁר אהיה, then more briefly אהיה, and then again, by changing the first person into the third, יהוה. From the derivation of this name from the imperfect, it follows that it was either pronounced יהוה or יהוה, and had come down from the pre-Mosaic age; for the form הוה had been forced out of the spoken language by היה even in Moses' time. The Masoretic pointing יהוה belongs to a time when the Jews had long been afraid to utter this name at all, and substituted אדני, the vowels of which therefore were placed as Keri, the word to be read, under the Kethib יהוה, unless יהוה stood in apposition to אדני, in which case the word was read אלהים and pointed יהוה (a pure monstrosity.)

(Note: For a fuller discussion of the meaning and pronunciation of the name Jehovah vid., Hengstenberg, Dissertations on the Pentateuch i. p. 213ff.; Oehler in Herzog's Cyclopaedia; and Hlemann in his Bibelstudien. The last, in common with Stier and others, decides in favour of the Masoretic pointing יהוה as giving the original pronunciation, chiefly on the ground of Revelation 1:4 and Revelation 1:5, Revelation 1:8; but the theological expansion ὁ ὤν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος cannot be regarded as a philological proof of the formation of יהוה by the fusion of הוה, הוה, יהי into one word.)

This custom, which sprang from a misinterpretation of Leviticus 24:16, appears to have originated shortly after the captivity. Even in the canonical writings of this age the name Jehovah was less and less employed, and in the Apocrypha and the Septuagint version ὁ Κύριος (the Lord) is invariably substituted, a custom in which the New Testament writers follow the lxx (vid., Oehler).

If we seek for the meaning of יהוה, the expression אהיה אשׁר אהיה, in Exodus 3:14, is neither to be rendered ἔσομαι ὃς ἔσοαι (Aq., Theodt.), "I shall be that I shall be" (Luther), nor "I shall be that which I will or am to be" (M. Baumgarten). Nor does it mean, "He who will be because He is Himself, the God of the future" (Hoffmann). For in names formed from the third person imperfect, the imperfect is not a future, but an aorist. According to the fundamental signification of the imperfect, names so formed point out a person as distinguished by a frequently or constantly manifested quality, in other words, they express a distinctive characteristic (vid., Ewald, 136; Genesis 25:26; Genesis 27:36, also Genesis 16:11 and Genesis 21:6). The Vulgate gives it correctly: ego sum qui sum, "I am who I am." "The repetition of the verb in the same form, and connected only by the relative, signifies that the being or act of the subject expressed in the verb is determined only by the subject itself" (Hoffmann). The verb היה signifies "to be, to happen, to become;" but as neither happening nor becoming is applicable to God, the unchangeable, since the pantheistic idea of a becoming God is altogether foreign to the Scriptures, we must retain the meaning "to be;" not forgetting, however, that as the Divine Being is not a resting, or, so to speak, a dead being, but is essentially living, displaying itself as living, working upon creation, and moving in the world, the formation of יהוה from the imperfect precludes the idea of abstract existence, and points out the Divine Being as moving, pervading history, and manifesting Himself in the world. So far then as the words אהיה אשר אהיה are condensed into a proper name in יהוה, and God, therefore, "is He who is," inasmuch as in His being, as historically manifested, He is the self-determining one, the name Jehovah, which we have retained as being naturalized in the ecclesiastical phraseology, though we are quite in ignorance of its correct pronunciation, "includes both the absolute independence of God in His historical movements," and "the absolute constancy of God, or the fact that in everything, in both words and deeds, He is essentially in harmony with Himself, remaining always consistent" (Oehler). The "I am who am," therefore, is the absolute I, the absolute personality, moving with unlimited freedom; and in distinction from Elohim (the Being to be feared), He is the personal God in His historical manifestation, in which the fulness of the Divine Being unfolds itself to the world. This movement of the person God in history, however, has reference to the realization of the great purpose of the creation, viz., the salvation of man. Jehovah therefore is the God of the history of salvation. This is not shown in the etymology of the name, but in its historical expansion. It was as Jehovah that God manifested Himself to Abram (Genesis 15:7), when He made the covenant with him; and as this name was neither derived from an attribute of God, nor from a divine manifestation, we must trace its origin to a revelation from God, and seek it in the declaration to Abram, "I am Jehovah." Just as Jehovah here revealed Himself to Abram as the God who led him out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give him the land of Canaan for a possession, and thereby described Himself as the author of all the promises which Abram received at his call, and which were renewed to him and to his descendants, Isaac and Jacob; so did He reveal Himself to Moses (Exodus 3) as the God of his fathers, to fulfil His promise to their seed, the people of Israel. Through these revelations Jehovah became a proper name for the God, who was working out the salvation of fallen humanity; and in this sense, not only is it used proleptically at the call of Abram (Genesis 12), but transferred to the primeval times, and applied to all the manifestations and acts of God which had for their object the rescue of the human race from its fall, as well as to the special plan inaugurated in the call of Abram. The preparation commenced in paradise. To show this, Moses has introduced the name Jehovah into the history in the present chapter, and has indicated the identity of Jehovah with Elohim, not only by the constant association of the two names, but also by the fact that in the heading (Exodus 3:4) he speaks of the creation described in Genesis 1 as the work of Jehovah Elohim.

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