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The account of the first six days of creation as found in Genesis 1 is highly stylized, though with variations. For instance, each day ends, "And there was evening, and there was morning—the (n)th day."

One variation that jumps out pertains to the statement, "And God saw that it was good." This phrase is present on each of the first six days, except that it is peculiarly absent on the second day. I do note that on the third day this statement appears twice, with its first appearance being after what feels like a continuation of the separation of waters begun on the second day. It's absence is conspicuous enough, though, that it feels intentional on the part of the author. But what was the author trying to convey here? Why omit this otherwise repeated refrain?

  • 5
    It might be of interest that the words “and God saw that it was good” do occur in the Greek version (LXX) of Gen. 1:8 (καὶ ἴδεν ὁ Θεὸς ὅτι καλόν), and also in the Old Latin version (et vidit deus quia bonum est). It is possible that, like you, the Greek translator felt that something was missing here. – fdb Sep 29 '14 at 17:01
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    Could you post and include the exact text that you are talking about, in the body of the question you ask, so everyone can see the days and what is said about each day, as we read your question and comments, so we are all on the same page, so to speak? – Hello Sep 30 '14 at 3:52
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The Distribution

You should notice as well that the declaration of "good" varies as to when it is said within a day in Genesis 1 (all references unless otherwise noted are to chapter 1).

Day 1 - it is stated once right after the creation of light (v.4a) while the earth was still without form (v.2-3), but before the dividing of light and dark (v.4b-5).

Day 2 - it is left unstated during the day (as your question notes), a day in which division of water and firmament (or expanse) is made (v.6-8).

Day 3 - it is stated twice: first, after the gathering together of seas and appearing of the dry land (v.9-10); second, after the plants emerged from the earth to reproduce itself (v.11-12), which appears to be at the end of the day (v.13).

Day 4 - it is stated once, after the luminary bodies are formed in the sky to divide the light from the dark in traceable cycles (v.14-18), which appears to be at the end of the day (v.19). NOTE: this completes the division of light and dark from day one, a division that did not merit a "good" statement from God.

Day 5 - it is stated once, after the creation of the sea and air creatures (v.20-21), but prior to the blessing of them (v.22), which blessing occurred at the end of the day (v.23).

Day 6 - it is stated twice, once after the creation of land creatures (v.24-25), and once after the creation of mankind, along with the responsibilities and blessings (v.26-30), at the final culmination of His creative work, at which point the whole is called "very good" (v.31).

The Significance

It is only upon the completion of elements for the sustaining of human life that the notation of being good is made.

There end up being seven total "completion" segments, which after Jack Douglas posted his observations regarding a pattern of the relationships, I then realized these seven segments formed a specific pattern themselves, and have thus edited my answer along those lines (still keeping my base argument about completion segments). Using the same "was so"/"was good" parallels noticed by Jack, along with my maintaining the key completion statement as being the "was good" statements rather than the end of day statements, then we observe the following.

Segments 1 & 4: Light itself was needed in contrast to the dark for the sustaining of material life on day 1 (v.5; completion segment #1), but the division of light and dark was not good until God made the division understandable to mankind by the creation of the luminous bodies on day 4 (v.18; completion segment #4). The "was [light/]so"1 (v.3 & 15)/"was good" (v.4 & 18) are in each segment in a parallel relation to the corresponding segment.

Segments 2 & 5: The division of heaven, water, and land was not good until the land had appeared, where man would dwell, early day 3 (v.10; completion segment #2). The plant life that would be food for mankind (v.29) was good after it was in place to reproduce itself and be available for man to eat from, late day 3 (v.12; completion segment #5). The "was so" statements are both found in segment #2, and the "was good" are split, one at end of #2 and one at end of #5 (of course, since "was good" is our key for something being completed). Between the corresponding segments, however, the relationship is not directly parallel, but rather a chiastic/parallel relation:

  • (A) "was so" (day 2, v.7)
  • (a) "was so" (day 3, v.9)
  • (a') "was good" (day 3, v.10)
  • (A') "was good" (day 5, v.21)

Chiastic in that a/a' completes the bounding of the seas (to create land), whereas A/A' completes the purpose of the seas' creation to house its lifeforms. Parallel, in that the wording is the same (A = a/a' = A').

Segments 3 & 6: The creatures coming out of the waters, over which mankind would have dominion (v.28), were good after they could reproduce themselves, day 5 (v.21; completion segment #3). The creatures coming out of the land, over which mankind would also have dominion (v.28), were good after they could reproduce themselves, early day 6 (v.25; completion segment #6). The "was so"(v.11 & 24)/"was good"(v.12 & 25) are in each segment in a parallel relation to the corresponding segment, just as segments 1 & 4.

Segment 7: Adam was not good alone (Gen 2:18), but once able to have help and reproduce with Eve (Gen 2:22-25), then together they could be fruitful, fill and subdue the earth, and have dominion over the creatures (v.28), at which point creation was culminated by the introduction of the created caretakers, and all could be declared "very good" (v.31; completion segment #7). This statement is both a statement about mankind, but also about all of creation, since mankind was the culmination for which creation was made. This "was so" (v.30)/"was [very] good"(v.31) stand alone as the culminating statements, and have no corresponding parallel to any others.

An Observation

This factor of various parts of creation coming to completion for the sustaining of God's ultimate creature, His image bearer that is like Him (v.26-27), mankind, is a major argument against gap creation theory, which relies heavily on believing that God could not create anything "without form and void" (KJV, v.2) because such would not be good. Such a view fails to recognize that during the creation days, there were only points at which it was good--between those points, each stage was not yet in place to be habitable by mankind, and so it was not good until each phase was complete.

Conclusion

The declarations of goodness are not intrinsically aligned to the period of time during which the creation is occurring (i.e. the days themselves), but rather tied to the completion of various aspects of creation: (1) Light, (2) Land (as related to Sea and Heavens), (3) Plants, (4) Light and Darkness division for time keeping, (5) Air and Sea animals, (6) Land animals, (7) Mankind as God's image bearer (and totality of creation).


NOTES

1 Also assuming, along with Jack, that

we are happy to count the slightly anomalous "and there was light" in day 1 as "and it was so"

  • Yes, I was just about to state the same thing when you beat me to it.... I found Keil & Delitzsch's Commentary said,"division of the waters was not complete till the separation of the dry land from the water had taken place, and therefore the proper place for the expression of approval is at the close of the work of the third day." Since the author is not writing to angels, but rather to men, the completion of the separation of the waters doesn't occur until the 3rd day.(+1) – Tau Sep 29 '14 at 13:49
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One variation that jumps out pertains to the statement, "And God saw that it was good."

There is another very significant variation that points to another pattern in the structure of Genesis 1 and explains the omission in day 2: day 5 is the only day that lacks the parallel phrase "and it was so"1.

The reason why this is significant and connected with the question is the cross-linking between the first three days of creation with the last three. The creative acts they contain are complementary, with the earlier day broadly responsible for the 'arena' and the latter for the 'population':

  • Days 1+4 = light + "lights"
  • Days 2+5 = firmament/waters + air/sea creatures
  • Days 3+6 = land/veg + land animals/humans

table 1

I've colour-coded the table to highlight the thematic correspondence between the days—which is even more pronounced if you exclude 'sub-ordinate' uses of the theme words (eg in/of/on/upon/above/over/under/across the X):

table 2

When considered from the angle of three pairs of days, the pattern then becomes:

  • Day pair 1+4: Two occurrences of "and it was so"/"and God saw that it was good"
  • Day pair 2+5: One occurrence of "and it was so"/"and God saw that it was good"
  • Day pair 3+6: Four occurrences of "and it was so"/"and God saw that it was good"

This linkage lends itself to the interpretation that it is the "and God saw that it was good" in day 5 that completes the pattern started in day 2, and not that in day 3. I further conclude that this abbreviated pattern is an indication of the greater priority of the foundational work in day 1 (continued in day 4), and the pinnacle of God's creative work in day 6 (which continues the work of day 3). The relative brevity2 of the accounts of days 2 and 5 give further support to this conclusion and of course the prosaic need for these linking phrases is reduced in shorter sections that do not need to be broken up.



1 assuming we are happy to count the slightly anomalous "and there was light" in day 1 as "and it was so"

2 assuming we consider the extreme brevity of day 1 as a special case again (days 2 and 5 are the two next shortest)

  • Interesting. Two things: (1) highlight "sea(s)" along with "waters", just as "land/earth"; (2) You organized by "day" (understandable), but it might be better as "completion" segments--it looks like the first part of day 3 should move up to join with day 2, as the "waters" are still being dealt with (to expose the land), and this puts day 3's 1st "good" statement parallel to day 5's (chiastic relation "was so"/"was so"/"was good"/"was good"), leaving day 3's 2nd "was so/good" to parallel the 1st "was so/good" of day 6, and the 2nd "was so/good" as the overall summary of all days (as it reads). – ScottS Nov 18 '14 at 16:14
  • The completion segment organization (keying on "was good") then has the pattern of 1/4 - 2 occurrences parallel, 2/5 - 2 occurrences chiastic, 3/6 - 2 occurrences parallel, 7 - 1 occurrence culmination (mankind)/summary (totality). It seems significant that this works out to 7 as the final lone statement. This also, of course, happens to fit my answer's argument better (cheesy grin), and your thoughts have helped me to expand mine in seeing this pattern emerge. Thanks. – ScottS Nov 18 '14 at 16:14
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    You are welcome :) The reason why I don't feel comfortable with any other division than 'day' is that the one unbroken pattern in the entire account is the day completion formula "and there was evening and there was morning the X day". To my way of thinking (constrained by this logic), the 'waters' (the 'arena' for the sea creatures) are already complete at the end of day 2. The action of gathering the waters together does not complete that creation, but begins the creation of the 'land' arena in preparation for the animals and ultimately humans on day 6. – Jack Douglas Nov 18 '14 at 16:22
  • Thanks for pointing out the 7 - unlikely to be coincidence I think. I wonder if other 7s in the Bible are 2+1+4. – Jack Douglas Nov 18 '14 at 16:24
  • I would argue the waters were not yet complete on day 2, as they were "unbounded," and were not yet "good" precisely because they were still covering land that was needing to be made dry (which is, of course, what I do argue in my answer). I'm actually taking my observations from your observations and incorporating that into my answer. – ScottS Nov 18 '14 at 16:28
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Rashi simply explains that the work begun on Day 2 was not completed until the middle of the third day. Hence, an uncompleted piece of work could not properly be pronounced as "good." At verse 11, during Day 3, God proclaims His creation to that point "good," and moves on and puts plants and trees into the earth he just created, also calling it good.

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    Hey Bruce, glad to see your answer! :) Would you mind checking out What would be the best way to present ancient Jewish sources? We've clarified what we're looking for in Jewish citations a little more, as this will help all participants. Thanks! – Dan Sep 30 '14 at 22:34
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    I just realized it was your question initially ;) – Dan Sep 30 '14 at 22:35
  • @majnemɪzdæn I inserted a link -- Rashi's easy to do that; others are harder, especially if you want English. – Bruce James Oct 1 '14 at 18:58
  • thanks! Although note that linking to the Hebrew is also fine. Generally speaking, an expert in Biblical Studies likely can read Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and often also French and German. – Dan Oct 2 '14 at 16:01
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    to an extent, it is always helpful to translate or find English resources. My point is that if you only have a Hebrew source and translating all but the relevant parts would be tangential to an answer, don't hesitate to link to the Hebrew text. Make no mistake about it, our goal is to build a site for experts - it's ok to require prerequisite knowledge (most other SE sites do). – Dan Oct 2 '14 at 16:29
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According to the Canopy Theory, day two was the creation of the canopy from which the waters came during the Flood. Since God knew the canopy would eventually be used to flood the Earth, He could not call it good.

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

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1. Question Restatement:

Why is the observation that “it was good” missing on the second day?


2. Objections to Another Answer, Some Clarifications:

Another Answer, (also Rashi): It is only upon the completion of elements for the sustaining of human life that the notation of being good is made.

2.1. But, God DID make something necessary for "human life" on the Second Day:

NASB, Genesis 1:7 - God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. 8 God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

No matter if you interpret "Heaven" (שָׁמָ֑יִם) as "Sky", "Space", "Atmosphere", etc - every one of those interpretations do not undermine the necessity that Humanity needed that separation, (especially for air and dry land).

Therefore - any conclusion which is contingent on the premise that this "expanse" is unnecessary for Human life is immediately invalid.

2.2. All intermediary works of God are not necessarily required to be imputed with a "Good" truth value - even if everything God does cannot be "Bad".

2.3. Since there are no rational requirements that all intermediary works of God "Must be Good", then a better question is: "What made this act any different from the others?"

2.4. No Day (as a whole) was ever declared "Good". It is NOT written:

Not in Genesis 1 - Then God labored, and then it was evening, and then morning, making another day - and God said, "It [that day] is Good".


3. Another Answer - It was not God's Ideal to be Separated from Mankind:

It is plausible, and even probable, that God did not judge his own work on the second day as "good" because of something very specific that happened that "Second Day":

Genesis 1:7-8 - God made the expanse (הָרָקִיעַ֒) God called the expanse (הָרָקִיעַ֒) heaven.

From Hermeneutics.SE, What is the likely way in which ancient Hebrews would have understood “raqiya” in Gen 1:6? - While nowhere does the Bible explicitly state that the 'raqia' is solid or firm, there was a longstanding and well established belief regarding cosmology in antiquity which implies it. Furthremore, the the firm nature of the firmament is inherent in the word רָקִ֖יעַ itself.

Specifically, "Spiritually" - "Cosmologically", "רָקִ֖יעַ" denotes a "firm barrier", "intended to be impassable", or "foundation" that is "between" two different things.

NASB, Ezekiel 1:22-26 - Now over the heads of the living beings there was something like an expanse, like the awesome gleam of crystal, spread out over their heads. 25 And there came a voice from above the expanse that was over their heads; 26 Now above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne ... on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man.

Given solutions - in both Judaism and Trinitarian Christianity - that an identity separate from "The Father" was walking in the Garden with Adam, (Jesus, Metatron, etc.), there would still remain the question of where "The Most High" was dwelling.

In this sense, although it may have been necessary to separate the presence of the "Most High" from "Mankind" ... it seems fairly consistent in Scripture that this was never the "ideal" relationship that God had in mind.

So, although it was not necessarily "bad" that there had to be a firm separation between the realms of God and Man, it was probably a necessary circumstance that God might not have desired, "in his heart" - even if God, eschatologically, intended to remove this barrier in the future.

All of the other declarations in Genesis 1 DO speak of increasing life - notwithstanding this one, and only one - deterrent - to "infinite, intimate, and divine life".

Conclusion:

This answer is in no way "Conclusive", but only intended to establish the plausibility of another answer - rendering a conclusive answer "unknowable" - (apart from divine authority).

0

Why is there no 'good' in the Day Two portion of Genesis 1?

Because the water cycle was not completed until the planet's surface had both land and water.

This implies that the account sees a general and a special subject:

(A) Earth as a life support system (general),

(B) life (special).

.

This general/special theme runs throughout the account, and begins in v. 1. For life, there are three such pairings:

(1). flora & fauna,

(2). sea and land fauna,

(3). general fauna and humans.

.

So there are two most basic mutual answers to the question:

(Y) The general answer is that the Earth is a life-support system.

(X) The special answer is how humans are related to that system as itself is the special member of the cosmos.



So, too, Earth-as-a-life-support-system has two mutually necessary parts:

(a) geophysical (general) is begun with light upon its surface, (God names them "day" and "night", v. 5), and completed with the land/seas (God names them, too, v. 10), and a globally covering mediator, the atmosphere (God names it, v. 8)

and

(b) biological (special)


.

  • So the light thereon is the first thing that is 'good'.

.



But the total completed Earth system is irreducibly complex, which is why, in its own created terms, it had to take days, not eons.

  • Can you please remove any unnecessary vertical white-space? "Less is more." ;) – elika kohen Jun 21 '17 at 2:10

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