Day 4: Creating, but No Naming or Blessing

day 4 creation

Genesis 1:14-19 covers the fourth day of the Creation epic. As we read through Genesis 1, we see some patterns – many in triad – occurring in the text. What I find interesting, though, is that the triads are not always grouped in line with the “first three days” (form, reversing tohu) and “second three days” (function, reversing bohu) as strictly as we might expect.

In each of the first three days, Adonai first creates, then names (ויקרא) His Creation. In days 5, 6, and 7 – the pattern is that Adonai first creates and then blesses (ויברך) His creation. Neither naming nor blessing, however, occurs in the day 4 account. Why?

It may have to do with what is being created here – things that would come to be worshipped as “gods”: the sun, moon, and stars. The Hebrew word for sun is shemesh (שמש), which is also the name of the Canaanite sun goddess. One of the Hebrew words for moon is yareach (ירח) – a close cognate to the name of the Canaanite moon deity yarich (ירח). For Adonai to name these inanimate creations in Hebrew could be interpreted as legitimizing these Canaanite false deities. The constellations of stars, of course, would become associated with astrology, which Adonai explicitly condemns (Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:10-12; Isaiah 47:13-14; Jeremiah 10:2; Zephaniah 1:4-5). I suspect that this is why day 4 not only omits the names of these luminaries but also leaves out any blessing upon them.

Consider this passage in light of the command found in Exodus 23:13 (the context of which is prohibition of idolatry)…

וּבְכֹל אֲשֶׁר-אָמַרְתִּי אֲלֵיכֶם, תִּשָּׁמֵרוּ וְשֵׁם אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים לֹא תַזְכִּירוּ, לֹא יִשָּׁמַע עַל-פִּיךָ

Pay attention to everything I have said to you: do not recall the name of other gods or even let them be heard from your mouth.

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