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These are the generations

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of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day

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that the YHVH ELOHIM (read Adonai Elohim) made the earth and the heavens.   (See comment below.)


What follows is the account of what happened with the heavens and the earth after they were created, starting from the time when THE PERSONAL AND ETERNAL GOD who is also THE CREATOR AND RULER OF ALL THINGS made the earth and the heavens.  (See comment below.)



The term “generations,” according to more than one noteworthy scholar, is not about origins but about the subsequent history of that person or thing. It is used ten times in Genesis and all of them precede the section they describe. Thus this is not a summary of what was just written, it is an introduction of what is to come. Besides, the summary of the creation narrative has already been given in 2:1-3, so this is looking forward, not backward. The account of Noah that begins with the words “These are the generations of Noah,” makes no reference to his birth, for that has already been recorded. The narrative following that title statement begins by indicating that Noah was a righteous man. It is intended as a history of what he did and a short description of those who followed him. In the same way, the statement about creation, “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth,” is intended to tell us what happened next starting from the point of their creation.


The ancient peoples sometimes used the word “day” to indicate “that time” when something happened, whether it was a 24 hour period or not. The creation account itself is very specific that creation did happen in 6 ordinary days; the statement here in 2:4 is general and means only “the time.”


This is the first use of YHVH, the other common name for God in the Old Testament, and the first use of the combination YHVH ELOHIM. The name YHVH was never pronounced by the Israelites because it was too sacred to pronounce. For that reason we do not know for sure how it would have been pronounced had they spoken it, and therefore, in the text on the left you will only find the consonants (Hebrew only has the consonants anyway; it is assumed the reader knows which vowels are required), and the meaning in the right hand column. When the Hebrews were reading out loud and came across the name YHVH they always substituted the name Adonai. That is why, apart from the discussion of names in these three paragraphs, you will see that I have added the words (read Adonai), to remind you of the substitution the Israelites would have made.

ELOHIM was the general name for God, pointing to His power, his awe-inspiring characteristics, and His authority based on the fact that He is the creator; YHVH pointed toward His personal connection to each of us, and His eternal quality since He is the “ever-living-one,” the “I am that I am” (Ex 3:14). Although YHVH was the most revered name of God among the Israelites, it was also very personal. The emphasis of ELOHIM seems to be on ruling, while the emphasis of YHVH seems to be on being, and part of God’s being or existence is to be close to us, to be involved and engaged in our lives.

It is very fitting that this first use of the combination YHVH ELOHIM is found at the beginning of the passage that turns the focus on man. Earlier God is presented as the creator who rules over what He created. But now that man is the center of attention, another set of characteristics of God is introduced. Throughout the entire Old Testament we gather a full picture of who YHVH is. He is eternal while we are finite (especially so after man fell into sin); but He is close, He is interested and engaged, He is trustworthy. This most elevated, revered name of God was also the most personal and intimate. I believe this is a key element that is lacking in other religions; they all have a god that shows his power, but not a god that shows love. I know of no religion, outside of Judaism and Christianity, which teaches a God of awe and love together, a God who wants to be close to us.