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Time Tensions – Part 3

The Sixth Day – General Activities

On the sixth day, God created animals. We are not told how that happened whether slow or fast. Presumably it was fast (possibly immediate). God also created man. If there is anything to the order from chapter one, then man was created after the animals. We are told more about the creation of man. Specifically, God formed him from the dust of the ground. The term “formed” comes from the Hebrew Yatsar which is used of potters and of forming in 1 Chron 4:23 and Isa 29:16. It is used of the making of an idol in Isa 44:9-10. This would normally communicate a process of a certain amount of time. Certainly God could have done it quicker, but he could also have inspired different words that did not indicate a process. The most reasonable interpretation is that the creation of man did take some time. Once man has been formed, God breathes life into him, plants a garden, and places man into the garden giving his the command to “work it and keep it.” It is possible that Adam did not obey but simply waited for God to give him a different task. However, it seems more reasonable to believe that Adam actually obeyed and worked the garden. Depending on one’s garden, this is a task that will require several hours a day for many days. That need not be the view however, since it seems that the context is one “day.” Still there would be some passage of time in this activity (hours?).

The next task that God gave to man was to name the animals. In Genesis 1 were are told that God created the plants and the animals according to their “kinds.” The word “kind” translates the Hebrew term Miyn. It is hard to know just how broad the categorization of “kind” was. In Leviticus 11, God is giving directions on what animals Israel was to consider as clear or unclean.

“And these you shall detest among the birds; they shall not be eaten; they are detestable: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, 14 the kite, the falcon of any kind, 15 every raven of any kind,16 the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind, 17 the little owl, the cormorant, the short-eared owl, 18 the barn owl, the tawny owl, the carrion vulture, 19 the stork, the heron of any kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.

20 “All winged insects that go on all fours are detestable to you. 21 Yet among the winged insects that go on all fours you may eat those that have jointed legs above their feet, with which to hop on the ground. 22 Of them you may eat: the locust of any kind, the bald locust of any kind, the cricket of any kind, and the grasshopper of any kind. (Leviticus 11:13-22, ESV)

Looking at this list which uses Miyn to refer to these animal’s “kind” we can see at some level how broadly Israel understood the term Miyn or kind. Verse 17 lists 4 kinds of owls. We could look for other classifications, but it seems that the term “kind” roughly corresponds to what we would understand as species. We ought not read our taxonomy back into the text, but there is a rough correspondence between our classification level “species” and their classification level “kinds.”

We have approximately 10,000 species of birds in the world. Mammals hover around 5500 species. If we include all animal species, we are looking at 8.7 million species, but given that Genesis only mentions what appear to be birds and mammals, our number would be closer to 15,000 species. In a 24 hour period, Adam would have to name more than 10 species every minute. It is unlikely that Adam was trying to identify animals in the dead of night, so his available time is closer to 12 hrs. This makes for 20 “kinds” every minute.

After Adam is done naming the animals and it is clear that there is no one for him, God puts Adam into a deep sleep. God certainly could have done this with Adam while he was awake with no pain, but God chose to put him to sleep.

So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:21-23, ESV)

These are a lot of activities to squeeze into one day. It strains credibility to suggest these were accomplished in one day. Some suggest that before the fall Adam had superhuman abilities. But that is nowhere to be found into the text. It is something that has to be added in order to make it work.

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