0

On Day 2 the dry land was uncovered. It had formerly been under salt water. And on the same day God "brought forth vegetation, plants...trees...":

Gen 1:9 And God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so. Gen 1:10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Gen 1:11 And God said, "Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth." And it was so. Gen 1:12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Gen 1:13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

In Genesis 2:6 there is reference to a mist coming up from the land that watered the land, but nothing was growing:

Gen 2:5 When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, Gen 2:6 and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— Gen 2:7 then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

My question is, does providing as a reason for no vegetation that there was a mist that did the watering make any sense? Wouldn't the mist germinate the seeds (if we assume God only made seeds in Gen 1:11, even though verse 12 has the vegetation, plants and trees appearing)? And does it imply a period of prolonged stagnation?

2

Church Fathers who comment on Genesis 1:11-13 - Basil, Ephraim the Syrian, Gregory of Nyssa - maintain that the vegetation brought forth appeared whole and mature in one instant; it was not simply latent in seeds waiting to germinate.

The translation of this passage chooses to render the underlying Hebrew word as "sprout", which implies that some kind of growth process will need to occur, but I don't think this is quite accurate. The word that appears, for example, in Job 14:7 (If it be cut down, that it will sprout again ...) or in Psalm 90:5 (... they are like grass which groweth up) is not the same word which appears in Genesis 1:11. This is also the case in the Septuagint. The words ἀνθέω or ἐπανθέω are used when referring to plants growing up, whereas the word describing the process in Genesis 1:11 is βλαστάνω.

Regarding Genesis 2:5-7, I think verse 4 should also be included, yielding the complete passage:

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,

5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.

6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

The statement for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, is not explaining some reason for there being no vegetation, but rather is there to emphasize the fact that God created all of the things mentioned previously out of nothing.

John Chrysostom explained this in one of his Homilies on Genesis, written in the 4th century:

[He teaches] us the order of created things - what was created first and what second - and the fact that from the earth in compliance with the Lord's word and direction the earth produced plants and was stirred into pangs of fertility, without depending on the sun for assistance (how could it, after all, the sun not yet being created?) nor on the moisture from showers, nor on human labor (human beings, after all, not having been brought forth) (Homily XII).

2

Genesis 2:5-7 actually shows a lack of any substantial passage of time.

and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. -Genesis 2:5 (KJV)

The emphasis is on the fact that nothing had grown as it normally does now. The reasons being that there was 1) no rain yet and 2) no man to till the ground. The current vegetation that was created on the third day in Genesis 1:9-13 was created in a fully developed and mature state, and did not require any growth period to reach maturity. Any new additional plants or herbs other than the ones originally created by God would first require the current plants' and herbs' seeds to disperse, and then those seeds would require time to germinate.

As anyone who would be reading Genesis would be familiar with, the natural process of growth for new vegetation requires rain, but God had not sent any rain yet. Additionally, growing new vegetation can sometimes be performed without the natural process of seeds being dispersed and then germinating, but that requires someone to cultivate them (root cutting) and there was no man to till/cultivate the ground.

Whedon's commentary on verse 5 attests to this:

Literally this verse reads: And every shrub of the field not yet was ( יהיה, future form, involving the idea of becoming, arising, growing) in the land, and every herb of the field not yet was sprouting.... The future form יהיה, will be, taken in connexion with the future יצמח, will sprout, shows that a process of growth is contemplated, not the simple fact of existence. Hence the meaning is, (not that there was yet no plant or herb existing in the land, but,) none of the plants or herbs of the fields of Eden had as yet entered upon the processes of growth. A reason for this is given in the statement that rain had not yet fallen. The dry ground had been made to appear, (Genesis 1:9,) and grass and herb had been produced by the Almighty fiat, (Genesis 1:11-12,) but the ground was not yet watered with rain, and the processes of vegetation were not yet in progress.

As does John Gill in his commentary:

And every plant of the field, before it was in the earth, &c.] That is, God made it, even he who made the heavens and the earth; for these words depend upon the preceding, and are in close connection with them; signifying that the plants of the field, which were made out of the earth on the third day, were made before any were planted in it, or any seed was sown therein from whence they could proceed, and therefore must be the immediate production of divine power:

and every herb of the field before it grew: those at once sprung up in perfection out of the earth, before there were any that budded forth, and grew up by degrees to perfection, as herbs do now:

And Thomas Coke in his commentary:

And every plant of the field, before it was in the earth— That is, God when he made the heavens and the earth, made also, by his immediate power, every plant in its state of perfection, with its seed in it; before the several plants, thus produced, grew and increased in the natural and regular method by which they now grow and increase: and which method he appointed for that end, when things were regularly constituted, when the sun was appointed to shine, and the rain to fall upon the earth; and man was formed to cultivate the earth, and its produce. As yet it was otherwise: the vegetables were created and sustained by his power exerting itself in a peculiar manner: especially by causing a mist, vapour, or steam, to arise from the earth to water them. The sacred writer, by remarking that yet there was no man to cultivate the ground, nor any rain to water it, both which are necessary to the produce of vegetables, assures us, that vegetables were not, at first, produced in the ordinary method.

The plants and herbs were created on the third day (Genesis 1:9-13), and man was created on the sixth day (Genesis 1:24-31). So there was a period of three days after the plants were created until the creation of man. But since there was no rain yet, Genesis 2:6 shows that none of the current vegetation suffered any thirst due to this lack of rain:

But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. -Genesis 2:6 (KJV)

Then God creates man:

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. -Genesis 2:7 (KJV)

God has now created the man, with the rest of Genesis 2 detailing what else God did after man's creation on the sixth day.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy