In general, “Very good” is relative, i.e. better than “good” but not as good as “very, very good.” Certainly not absolute, i.e. “perfect.” Even if “very good” did mean “perfect” that could mean that creation including Adam was "fit for purpose".

What specifically does "very good" mean in Genesis 1:31:

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. ESV

4 Answers 4


The word “good” is “tov” which means to be in harmony with God. So throughout Gen 1, Elohim sees His creation as Tov; harmonizing with Him. But after creating man, we read in “Genesis 2:18: “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him." In Hebrew Ezer k'negdo. Note, when he created the seas, He said that it was “good” in harmony with him, the animals, He saw were good, the sun and stars were good, but he does not see that man was good when He created him.The only time the word “tov” is used in relationship to man is in Gen 2:18 saying he was not good or in harmony with God !! It doesn’t mean he was sinful, just not in a state of perfect harmony with God. God pointed out all that he created and explained to man that it was good. Having a free will separated man from perfect harmony with God but so long as he, by act of his free will partook of all that was in harmony with God he would then be in harmony with God (1:31). A man would look to a woman to guide him in spiritual things. This is why the enemy tempted Eve and not Adam because he knew Adam would follow Eve’s guidance.

The word for a female is “yaldah.” The sages point out the word begins with a “yod’ and ends with a “he” which spells the word ‘Yah” the short form for the name of God. The “yod” represents a messenger from heaven; the lamed, prayer; the daleth, a gateway; and the he, the presence of God. A female is a messenger from heaven who through prayer will be a doorway to the presence of God. And then Elohim says creation is Tov Me'od - Very good!!

  • You say, "Having a free will". But the will of man is not free of its need for God's grace, strength and enabling if it is to obey Him. If God withheld His grace to Adam to demonstrate this- then disobedience to God does not prove man had free will.
    – C. Stroud
    Jun 22, 2021 at 12:10

“Very good” (טוֹב מְאֹד) seems to suggest that everything was made fit for its purpose, as you say. In Jer. 24;3, when Jeremiah describes some figs, he says “the good figs are very good” (הַתְּאֵנִים הַטֹּבוֹת טֹבוֹת), “and the “bad [figs] are very bad” (וְהָרָעוֹת רָעוֹת מְאֹד). More importantly, those “very bad” figs, he says, “you shall not eat of the evil” (לֹא תֵאָכַלְנָה מֵרֹעַ), but figs were among those trees God created “good to eat” (טוֹב לְמַאֲכָל).1 In other words, what is “very evil” is no longer fit for its purpose.


1 Gen. 2:9


The Hebrew word 'towb' is translated as 'good', but it's often also translated as 'best', so it seems unlikely that 'meod' would be applied here to mean 'very' good, in a relative sense.

In each of the previous occasions in Genesis, when God saw that it was good, 'it' refers specifically to the next stage in Creation. This last one, however, refers to 'everything that God had made'. So the addition of meod would more likely have a meaning of 'abundance', when you consider just how much it's referring to all at once.

Here, God sees that everything he made is all good in its abundance. Therefore no 'evil' exists, from His comprehensive perspective of Creation.


2896 towb טוב pleasant, agreeable, good

While 2896 could refer to "fit for purpose" (in the sense of "agreeable"), it seems to be a stretch. More likely, it simply means that Elohim was satisfied with his accomplishments. There isn't anyone else around to say "good job", so he says it himself. Notably, 2896 is the same word used in Genesis 3:6 to describe the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil as "good for food" – agreeable for eating – not poisonous.

3966 meod מאד muchness, force, abundance

Genesis 1 is poetry with a lot of repetition and alliteration. The "very" comes near the end. Each of the preceding elements was "good", so in aggregate, they're "very good" – or abundantly/exceedingly good – the sum is greater than its parts?

It's not prudent to place too much theological emphasis on specific readings of particular words and phrases. Otherwise, it would mean that Elohim literally pounded out a solid, physical barrier between earth and heavens to keep the waters above and below separate (Gen 1:7). Although modern translations tend to hide this view, there have been, and still are, major disagreements between astronomy and religious cosmologies.

7549. raqia: an extended surface, expanse
7554. raqa: to beat, stamp, beat out, spread out

A primitive root; to pound the earth (as a sign of passion); by analogy to expand (by hammering); by implication, to overlay (with thin sheets of metal) -- beat, make broad, spread abroad (forth, over, out, into plates), stamp, stretch.

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