According to the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) and the Lexham English Septuagint (LES), birds and such seem to be formed from the waters:

God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and birds that fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." (JPS)

And God said, "Let the water bring forth living, creeping things and winged things flying above the land in relation to the firmament of the heaven." And it happened in this way. (LES)

But according to the Lexham English Bible (LEB), the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) and the New Living Translation (NLT), birds don't seem to be formed from the sea.

And God said, "Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly over the earth across the face of the vaulted dome of heaven." (LEB)

And God said, "Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven." (DSS)

Then God said, "Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind." (NLT)

How should the reader understand this verse? What exactly is being illustrated?

  • 1
    and fowl may fly above the earth [KJV] and fowl let fly on the earth [Youngs Literal] and let the birds fly over the earth [Greens Literal] KJV and the Literal Bibles agree that there is no statement of origin, just a freedom to fly.
    – Nigel J
    May 12, 2020 at 7:58
  • In scripture, birds have a particular meaning, spiritually, and I suppose (it is just my conjecture, not an answer) that there is deliberate lack of information in order to facilitate that concept.
    – Nigel J
    May 12, 2020 at 8:01
  • It is indeed possible to interpret the aforementioned passages in this particular manner, but it is not mandatory, if that's what you're asking.
    – Lucian
    May 12, 2020 at 12:20
  • (+1) for highlighting the fact that the origin of winged creatures is not specifically stated in scripture.
    – Nigel J
    May 13, 2020 at 15:59

2 Answers 2


The structure of Gen 1 is very tight. Each day follows the same formula:

  1. Each day follows the strict formula, “And God said, ‘Let…’ …And there was evening and morning – the nth day.” Thus, the first day of creation week begins in Gen 1:3, and the sixth day ends with Gen 1:31. That is, Gen 1:2 is not part of the first day of creation activity.

  2. In all but day 2 we also have the phrase, “And God saw that it was good (Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31) scattered through the text as well.

  3. The two halves of creation week follow the same pattern. The first half mostly concerns the act of separating (eg, waters above from waters below, light from darkness, land from sea, etc.), while the second half mostly concerns populating these separated habitats with living creatures or lights (the sun and moon are not explicitly mentioned).

  4. There are three phases of creation involving light, water, and dry ground. Each required two steps separated by three days. In the case of the land (the third phase of day 3 and day 6), two distinct creation acts are recorded each time, each terminated by the declaration that the result was good: on day 3 it is the separation of dry land from the water and then the creation of vegetation; on day 6 God made the land produce animals, and then the land (or soil Gen 2:7) was made to produce mankind.

Note that it is only the land that "produces" (day 3 and day 6) but different verbs are used on each day as follows (according to BHS):

  • Day 3: earth "bring forth" יָצָא (yatsa) plants
  • Day 4: God made עָשָׂה (asah) lights
  • Day 5: waters "team" שָׁרַץ (sharats) with creatures, and let birds fly in the air
  • Day 6: earth "bring forth" יָצָא (yatsa) animals; and, Let us "make" עָשָׂה (asah) mankind

Thus, only the earth "produces" or "brings forth". The sea is populated by divine edict, at least in Gen 1. In Gen 2:19, God is depicted as forming all the wild animals and the birds from the ground.


The Day-Five creatures are those brought forth by the waters, but formed of the dust of the ground

Genesis 1:20-23 reveals:

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day. (My emphasis)

It must be noted that this is the first mention of God’s creating since Day-One when God created “the heaven and the earth”—that original body of invisible waters from which He later made and/or formed all heavenly and earthly things over the short period of just six days. Upon completing this new Day-Five water creature project—as with every major visibly manifest project—God visually inspected and approved His completed work as we find in Genesis 1:21:

And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. (My emphasis)

In Genesis 1:2 we found:

… And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

God is a living moving Spirit. His movement is voluntary showing His life. The Day-Three plant’s leaves and blossoms may spin and turn using reactive movements to surrounding conditions such as heat and light, but they do not voluntarily move or travel from location to location to see what they can see or to do what they can do. Obviously, the voluntary movement of both of these two new major categories of Day-Five water creatures that have life is a special attribute patterned after the living Spirit of God’s movement. By God’s grace He “created” their life, “formed” their physical bodies, and “made” them to become complex new moving living souls.

Water creatures sanctified from the earth by the waters

The visible liquid waters brought forth the LORD God’s Day-Five fish of the sea, but the invisible gaseous waters brought forth His Day-Five fowl of the air. Being “brought forth of” and being “formed out of” are two different things. Day-Six man was “formed” out of the dust of the ground (Gen 2:7) . Notice especially in Genesis 2:20 that the fowl were also “formed out of the ground”— out of the earth not out of the waters—just like every beast of the field:

And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. (My emphasis)

Since the fowl were “brought forth” of the air (gaseous waters), but were “formed” out of the ground, what is the difference between being “brought forth” and being “formed?”

Bringing forth does not mean that the water creatures were physically formed of the waters. It simply means that you should expect to find the fowl inhabiting the air and the fish inhabiting the liquid waters. On the other hand, earth-brought-forth plants, creeping creatures, and man were all formed of the earth. Yet God intended for the water creatures and man to be set apart from the earth. The visible liquid waters typify the visible WORD of God in the flesh and the invisible gaseous waters typify the invisible Spirit of the eternal WORD of God. Every man who “believes God’s Word” is sanctified—set apart—from the earth by the WORD of God (John 17:17-23) .

God blessed all the water creatures by speaking

God blessed both liquid water creatures and gaseous water creatures by speaking to them—telling them to be fruitful, and multiply as we see in Genesis 1:22:

And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. (My emphasis)

“Blessed,” is from the Hebrew word, barak which means to cause to prosper as a result of divine favor. “Be fruitful,” from the Hebrew, parah , means to branch off, and bear much fruit. “Multiply,” from the Hebrew, rabah , means to become many. The word, “fill” is from the Hebrew, male’ , which means to fulfil—to make full and be accomplished seemingly rapidly and conclusively.

Fish immediately become inhabitants of the visible liquid waters. Most fish—except for most mammals, etc.—multiply in those waters through mass-birthing or mas-hatching. On the other hand, He told the fowl to multiply in the earth—not in the air—even though they are called the fowl of the air. Their multiplication is not quite so rapidly as fish. Most fish mass-hatch or are born in large schools of young fish. Birds neither hatch in flocks nor are born in large schools. It is important to remember that young fowl must first put their trust in the invisible gaseous waters before they can fly in that open firmament—air—above the earth. (Genesis 1:20, supra, pp 2)

Fish and fowl typify believers of the two dispensations of the Word of God

Waters are typical of the WORD of God. The original invisible gaseous-like waters typify the eternal visible spiritual WORD, whereas the gathered together liquid waters typify the visible Son of man/Son of God in the flesh.

The fish were typical of men who believe that visible Word of God in the flesh while on earth, and concerning His earthly Kingdom of heaven. The fowl typify those who believe the gospel of the invisible heavenly Kingdom of God.

Jesus--the WORD--asked a very small number of disciples (all chosen Jews) to "follow me" and He would make them fishers of men in Mat 4:19:

And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

At that time, they were only to go to the Jews and preach the same message that John, the liquid water baptist preached, that "the (visible earthly) kingdom of heaven is at hand." There has been no fishing of men since Jesus told Peter, in John 13:36:

Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.

Only beginning on that Pentecost--after He was taken up out of their sight"--when they could not follow Him now--were they go to all the world and begin preaching the Salvation gospel of the invisible heavenly Kingdom, of God. As the eternal Son of God Savior, Jesus is depicted as having the face of the eagle according to John's gospel. This invisible heavenly Kingdom is over all things, including the earthly Kingdom of heaven, even as heaven is over all the earth, and numerous other parallels. This small number of apostles were blessed and told to multiply in the earth as adopted sons of God--which they did--with the promise that they would ascent above the earth into the open firmament of heaven after. The original fowl of the air in Genesis were told to multiply in the earth that they may fly above the earth--what a type. Sons of God, typified by the birds of the air, will return with their Savior to rest in the branches of EVEN the earthly kingdom, as we see in Mat 13:31-32:

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. (My emphasis)

This will be fulfilled IN FACT according to Rev 19:14-16:

And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (My emphasis)

And POSSIBLY fulfilled TYPICALLY in the very next two verses, (17-18):

And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.

After the church is taken up, fishing for men into the visible, earthly kingdom of heaven will start in earnest with a hundred, forty-four thousand (again all chosen Jews) will search out believers of the gospel of this earthly kingdom. They will have ONLY three and one-half years to accomplish their expedition, so they will will not be few in number, but rather many fishers (144,000) according to Jeremiah 16:14-16:

Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.

Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.

There will be some Jews who will not believe this earthly kingdom gospel , but God, in His grace, has promised at that time to bring them all back, every one of them. So AFTER the fishers fish for believers, hunters will search them out and bring them back. This last group that are brought back will be those promised in Zec 12:10:

And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

This is only a tiny sample of proof that the fowl of the air were--like men--created as living living moving creatures, formed of the dust of the ground, and made living souls who are to multiply on earth as sons of God--as little eagles--so that they may afterward fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven by putting their trust in the invisible waters--the air--a type of the invisible WORD of God.

ADDENDUM TO SHOW MAYIM (WATERS) IS USED AS BOTH GASEOUS WATERS AND LIQUID WATERS In response to questioning whether I used scripture, or modern science to arrive at my understanding.

Scriptural evidence for mayim being used for both gaseous waters and liquid waters

In Genesis 1:20-21—on God’s fifth workday—at that time when seas and rivers were already in place upon this fully formed earth under a stretched out heaven filled with heavenly worlds and lights—God inspired Moses to use the word mayim to describe both liquid waters and gaseous waters:

And God said, Let the waters (mayim—the dual) bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters (mayim) brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.(My insertion)

On Day-Five, mayim—in perfect context—graciously brought forth two major categories of living creatures,(1) the fish of liquid waters and (2) the fowl of gaseous waters. Liquid waters (mayim) brought forth (became the habitat of) the fish of the earthly seas, rivers, etc. Gaseous waters (mayim) brought forth (became the habitat of) the heavenly fowl of the air.

Those fowl were brought forth by the waters, but they were also described in Genesis 2:19 as being formed of the dust of the ground. So those fowl were not formed of the waters but rather they were—and are—associated with the waters because the waters are their habitat just like waters are also the habitat of the fish. Fowl are sanctified (set apart) from the earth by those invisible gaseous waters (air) that they are associated with and Fish are sanctified from the earth by the visible liquid waters that they are associated with. In contrast, the earth brought forth the grass, herb, and fruit tree (Genesis 1:11) as well as the beast, cattle and creeping thing (Genesis 1:24)—all of which are associated with the earth.

Another example of Moses using mayim to indicate both liquid and gaseous waters is found in Genesis 8:1-3:

And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged; The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained; And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.

At the time of the Flood the earth’s surface was covered with earthly subterranean waters and earthly surface sea and river waters, together with much rainwater from heaven above the earth. That Flood’s rainwater is clearly distinguished as having come down from heaven (above) and not up from the earth (under) as some claim. God, who inspired Moses’ writings, knows “up”from “down”. Moses used the term, “mist from the earth”in Genesis 2:5-6 while showing us exactly how Genesis8:2 would have been worded if that rain had come up from the earth rather than down from heaven:

. . .for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.But there went up a mist from the earth,and watered the whole face of the ground.(My emphasis)

Notice in Genesis 8:1-3,supra--after the flood—that God made a wind to pass over the earth. Some of those flood waters (mayim)—no doubt—remained upon or below the surface of the earth in the seas, rivers, fountains, etc. However,what is especially relevant here is that the rain waters (mayim) evaporated with the aid of that wind and returned to their gaseous state and to their lofty heavenly location—from off the earth—where they previously had been converted to the rain that had fallen, but those gaseous waters still retained their identity as mayim.

Jeremiah 10:13 confirms this by explaining that there is a multitude of waters (mayim) in the heavens that are replenished by the ‘vapours’ (gaseous waters) ascending from the earth, and that the LORD makes lightening with rain from those waters, and brings forth the wind from His treasures.

When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain,and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures

In Psalm 104:1-4 the Psalmist also agrees with Moses and with Jeremiah:

Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind: Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:

The inspired Psalmist describes howthat the LORD walks upon the wings of the wind which consists of the same gaseous waters that brought forth the winged fowl of the air. He says that the clouds are the LORD’s chariots.The LORD lays the beams of His heavenly chambers in the gaseous heavenly waters (mayim) upon which He walks, upon which His chariots ride, and upon which the Day-Five fowl of the air put their trust in to fly above the earth.

Therefore, according to Genesis 1:20 and 8:1-3, and that inspired prophetin Jeremiah 10:13,and that inspired psalmist in Psalm 104:1-4, gaseous waters and liquid waters are both substantive waters that are both described as mayim in Scripture.Since these passages each describe gaseous waters, then mayim might also describe gaseous waters in other places in Scripture—especially in Genesis 1:2, 1:6, 1:7, etc.

God’s use of the earth itself as an example of gaseous waters

Obviously on that first day—beforethe waters were divided—those waters must necessarily have been undivided by any material difference. Otherwise, the waters would have already been divided by that or those differences and there would have been no need fora dividing firmament. Therefore, the pre-divided waters must have all been one and the same.They must have been one body of evenly distributed waters throughout that entire deep of Genesis 1:2.

If we compare the properties of the Genesis 1:1 created earth with those of the very familiar completely made earth, we should be better able to understand the created earth’s original state and type of matter. This appears to be the precise reason that God inspired Moses to 11instructively single out and describe the Day-One earth—one day before the waters were even divided—two days before the earth was even formed. Genesis 1:2: describes that earth as being without form and void.

And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was ...

Solid, liquid, and gas have been defined:

Solid: A state of matter in which the relative motion of the molecules is restricted and they tend to retain a definite fixed position relative to each other. A solid may be said to have a definite shape and volume.

Liquid: A state of matter in which the molecules are relatively free to change their positions with respect to each other, but restricted by cohesive forces so as to maintain a relatively fixed volume.

Gas:A state of matter in which the molecules are practically unrestricted by cohesive forces. A gas has neither a definite shape, nor volume.

In Genesis1:2, the phrase,“without form” is translated from the Hebrew word tohuw which means: formlessness, confusion, unreality, emptiness, nothingness, empty space. The word, void, translated from the Hebrew bohuw, means emptiness, void, and waste.The word, wind that God used to evaporate the rain waters of the Flood in Genesis 8:1, supra, is translated from the Hebrew, ruwach, a noun described as: 1) of heaven; 2) quarter of wind, side; 3) breath of air; 4) air, gas; 5) vain, empty thing. So the earth being vain and empty in Genesis 1:2 does not mean merely,“desolate of life”,as some claim. Rather, it additionally means that any attempt to identify the earth apart from the heaven would have been futile—vanity—like searching for a world made of invisible air in a universe made of the same kind of invisible air. The earth’s matter would have been some where in the cosmos,but locating it would have been impossible. You would not have been able to see the earth or to have been able to identify it as an individually positioned object separate from the heaven.

Without form, and void

Without form and void plainly and simply describes the original created earth as consisting of an elementary foundational equally distributed building material which had neither shape nor measureable volume. At that time you could neither stake out the earth’s shape nor measure its volume. Earth was clearly neither liquid nor solid. Rather, according to Hebrews 11:1-3,it was understood through faith in God’s Word by the Jewish elders who studied Moses to have been the same type and state of original invisible Day-One substance that was used to make all the visible worlds that were hoped for:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (My emphasis)

Therefore, we understand that the LORD made the visible earth entirely of some invisible gaseous type substance such as air or some other form of a non-liquid and non-solid matter. Moreover, Moses clearly described that invisible matter as the waters even prior to the time when He gathered together those invisible gaseous waters to make theseveral visible liquid water Seas and to form that visible dry land Earth. Notice also that the writer of Hebrews above used this invisible matter as a type of God’s Word by which all things are framed (formed).

  • There are no gaseous waters, had the Hebrew wanted to say vapor, mist, cloud, et cetera it has words for what one would equate to “gaseous waters” but instead it says waters, understood to be liquid in form. They according the the Bible continued even after the flood Psa148 and according to NT are still there today. You seem to be imposing secular modern understanding into Biblical cosmology. If you remove gaseous, your response would read better May 23, 2020 at 2:50
  • Waters are both in scripture. The fowl of the air (gaseous waters) were brought forth of the mayim. Jesus told you, "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind (gaseous waters) bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. May 23, 2020 at 19:01
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    See addendum to answer for proof, Nihil Sine Deo. May 23, 2020 at 20:16
  • Day 5 doesn’t indicate that any of the biological life came from waters unless you are arguing from certain English translations that read “waters bring forth” but the Hebrew doesn’t indicate this nor the LXX. ישׁרצו shall move, abound (with), swarm, increase (with), the waters did not produce the fish nor the birds Gen 2:19 says they all came from the ground, which makes sense because so did man. They are all made from the ground. Also where is there gaseous water clearly outlined? Book chapter and verse is enough. May 24, 2020 at 5:13
  • Born of water and spirit... if spirit is gaseous water then it’s born of water and water. But spirit/ruach/wind is not water. It’s not convincing and seems forced to be honest. May 24, 2020 at 5:17

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