We read:

“God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them be signs to indicate seasons and days and years, and let them serve as lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” It was so.” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:14-15‬ ‭

“It was so”, sounds instantaneous.

Q: Does Genesis 1:14-15 indicate God making the light (stars) instantaneously shine on the Earth?

NOTE: I’m not necessarily asking for a scientific method here, but doesn’t the text indicate that God made the light shine on earth immediately, from the stars?

  • 1
    Up-voted +1. Creating the stream of light (in the entirety of its path) would be a much lesser accomplishment than creating the star itself (and the space in which the star exists). I assume, as you do, that the 'was so' indicates instantaneous. I look forward to an hermeneutic proof of it, though.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 20:30
  • 3
    I fail to understand why that is important at all: It's commonsense that Genesis is not scientific from today's perspective. Naturally no-one could understand "God created the universe" at the time the text was written.
    – U. Windl
    Commented Jul 19, 2022 at 10:24
  • 1
    In which version of ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:14-15‬ ‭ did God said that? What makes you think “It was so”, sound instantaneous? Commented Jul 19, 2022 at 18:16
  • 1
    @Cork88 So now you have two unspecified variants, one of Genesis‬ ‭1:14-15 and the other of Genesis‬ ‭1:15but in which Bibles? How long should we play that game, before you first state which versions you're using? What, exactly, is given in the different versions you're not quite citing here? How does that not work for you? Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 21:29
  • 1
    @Cork88 Can you Post details how anyone might guess what "an inflated view" meant? Who did you think didn't know different translations might make passages more clear by comparison? Do you think it was for their own amusement that others chided you for not looking? So, that said, if you meant to quote NKJV why did you not say so? What seems to stop you remembering correctly… or do you not care? If the difference is between “it was so” & “and it was so” why do you think either sounds instantaneous? More usefully, what makes you think they mean the same? Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 23:57

5 Answers 5


I'd like to elaborate a little on Dottard's good answer

Questions of Instantaneous and completeness of works

Genesis is ambiguous. In Gen 1.1, "God created the heavens and the earth". If that was completed, then why did God create light in verse 3? And why was the earth "without form" and void? That doesn't appear like a completed work.

Some say that between Gen 1.1 and Gen 1.2, a number of events happened, for example Satan fell, there was war, and the end of that age was a formless and chaotic earth that had to be rebuilt. The issue isn't whether this is true or not, but that this is a common interpretation in rabbinical traditions suggests that the language of Genesis allows this reading. Maybe it was completed in 1.1 or maybe the subsequent versus contain the completion of the work outlined in 1.1 -- both interpretations are reasonable.

As another point, a pattern in Genesis is

  1. God says
  2. God does (or someone does)
  3. God names (often translated as "calls")

For example:

  • (v 3) "Let there be light"
  • (v 4) "God divided the light from the darkness"
  • (v 5) "God named the light 'Day'"

A lot of people put emphasis on the "yehi", which means "and it was". But you have the yehis all over:

God said, "Yehi light"

Light yehi.


And God named the light day and the darkness he named light.

yehi evening

yehi morning

Evening and Morning only get an "it was so" after they are named. Each yehi is a completion in some sense.

Now what's strange is how could God see the light if it was still mixed in with darkness and not yet divided from it? Well, let's say in God's eyes he could see it - God can see the light mixed in with darkness - but man could not yet see it.

But then in what sense is the work of creation of light "completed" in verse 3? In God's sense, it's completed. But then perhaps not in man's sense.

But now we get to verse 14:

"And God said, [Let there be] lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and [let them be] for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:"

The "let there/them be" is the same yehi as "Let there be light".

So grammatically, there is no distinction between "let there be" in verse 1, except the word for "lights" is meoroth -- light sources. Like lamps. As opposed to light as a category.

So did God create the category in verse 3 and the actual lamps that provide a source of light in verse 14? Or did God create the lamps in verse 3 and they were only seen on earth in verse 14? Or did God create everything in verse 1, and God wanted to rekindle the light in verse 3 and then make it visible on earth in verse 14?

Moreover it is only in verse 14 that we see that darkness is divided from light. Was darkness divided from light as a category in verse 4, and then realized in verse 14, or was the work of dividing light from darkness only completed in verse 14? Or is God still dividing light from darkness even now, just in different places?

For example, say this separation in day 4 refers to the atmosphere clearing up so that the sun and stars could be seen, and this clearing up of the atmosphere is as a result of oxygen produced by green vegetation in day 3 -- then this would be an example of the separation that was declared among categories in verse 3 being realized on earth in verse 14.

It is with an appreciation of this ambiguity that we have to be careful when saying "in which verse did something happen?", as this is observer dependent, and so we need to pay attention whether the observer is God or creation generally, or man. Was the light seen by God, or in the universe, or on earth, or even in us? These are different notions of completeness for when God says "Let there be light".

  • The verb in verse 14 indicates a transformation, not a creation. The stars could have been created billions of years before (in verse 1), with the days of creation, starting in verse2, being literal days in which things were transformed or completed. See my Creation Verbs in Genesis. Commented Jul 19, 2022 at 1:28
  • @RayButterworth I don't think this is quite correct. See, for example, the TDOT entry on hayah. This is one of those situations where people claim clear and simple distinctions -- such as the difference between phileo and agapeo - that don't actually exist.
    – Robert
    Commented Jul 19, 2022 at 1:32
  • @Robert That was a lot of questions, I think the better hermeneutic would be to distinguish the light from Gen 1:3 as a Light that God made that was neither the Sun(greater light) nor the stars. And Genesis 1:1 may just refer to space (heavens) and the earth(formless and void before God starts working on it via the 6 days). Seems more simplified. As far as your answer goes, it leaves me wondering.
    – Cork88
    Commented Jul 19, 2022 at 2:19

"and it was so" occurs a number of times throughout Gen 1, such as V7, 9, 11, 15, 24, 30, etc. It each case, an act of creation is brought to its completion/fullness.

In the case of the fourth day, we need to be careful and observe that the record in Gen 1 is entirely phenomenological - it is described from the point of view of an observer on planet earth simply watching and recording what happens without any attempt whatever to understand the cause, apart from Divine working.

Now, let me offer my literal translation of Gen 1:14-17 to see what the passage is saying:

14 And God said, let there be light in the firmament of the heavens to divide between the day and the night - and let them be for signs and seasons, for days and years. 15 And let them lights in the firmament of the heavens to shine upon the earth and it was so.

16 And God [had?] made two great lights - the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night, and the stars. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to shine upon the earth.

We observe several things about this remarkable passage:

  • While Hebrew has perfectly good words for sun and moon, both are assiduously avoided in the passage - it is only the light from the sun and moon that is discussed.
  • the "firmament" here is, according to V6, 7 the space between the waters above (clouds etc) and the waters beneath (rivers, lakes and seas). This firmament is defined as "the heavens" in V8. It is also the space where birds fly, V20. That is, the "firmament" is what we now call the sky or atmosphere.
  • According to V14-16, the light is placed in this firmament of the sky. Now we know that the Sun and Moon do NOT exist in our atmosphere but are actually situated well beyond it, but their light fills the atmosphere giving a blue color during the day and and a deep, dark blue during the night.
  • There is nothing here in Gen 1 that actually says that God created the stars in day 4, only that the light from the stars would help to rule the night; or possibly that the moon's light would rule (outshine) the stars, which is obviously true.


There is nothing in Gen 1 demanding that the sun, moon and stars were created in Day 4, simply that their light became/was made visible on day 4. The actual heavenly bodies could have been created at some previous time by God and that their light in the terrestrial atmosphere became visible then.

APPENDIX - Starlight and Time

Many creationists have been troubled by the creation of the Sun, Moon and Stars on Day four (despite the Gen 1 record not saying this) precisely because the closest star is more than 4 light-years away and thus, its light could not have reached earth in less than 24 hours. Most stars, even in our Milky-Way Galaxy are many tens of thousands of light-years away.

So, did God create "light in transit" to enable starlight to appear on earth on Day 4? He is certainly capable of doing this. However, I believe this is unlikely for two reasons:

  1. Those listed above - the record does not actually say this
  2. It makes great difficulties with a number of things we actually observe.

Here is a simple example - SN1987A is a supernova (star explosion) in the large Magellanic cloud observed briefly in 1987. It was at a distance of 168,000 light-years from earth; that is, the light we observed has taken 168,000 years to reach earth and the event we thus observe actually occurred 168,00 years ago. If we assume that all the stars were created in day 4 with "light in transit", this supernova explosion would have been part of that "light in transit".

We have the same "problem" with all the other phenomena (including thousands of other supanovas), suggesting that these events did not occur but are the result of God creating fictitious events with "light in transit".

  • 1
    I’ve heard of these explanations of “false events” potentially happening. Given the Horizon Problem (if I understand it) it makes me wonder if God had excelled the age of the universe in the outer regions of space. Who knows. I wonder if general or special relativity are at play. I’m quite confused with such concepts. Yet, Exodus 20:11 is pretty clear.
    – Cork88
    Commented Jul 19, 2022 at 15:37
  • @Cork88 - Ex 20:11 alludes to Gen 1 which discusses terrestrial events only. Neither say anything about the age of the universe. How does one explain supernavas in Andromeda, 2.5 million light-years away? I have checked out the supposed general relativity claims such as white holes, but these do not make physical sense because they require time to run backwards and the universe now exist inside a black hole - the whole is rather messy that is not accepted.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jul 19, 2022 at 20:51

In Genesis 1:15, Ken כֵן = "So" indicates that actions already occurred like in [Genesis 6:22] Ken Asah כֵּן עָשָׂה = "So he-did". | When reading Bereshit 1:15, Va-Yehi Ken וַ-יְהִי כֵן (And-[It]-was So) as a phrase indicates the infinitive action לְהָאִיר Le-Ha'ir (To-Illuminate) occurred after the command "Let there be" יְהִי Yehi caused the luminaries to start shining during the timespan of יוֹם רְבִיעִי day four as affirmed in Genesis 1:19 by הוּא צִוָּה וְנִבְרָאוּ, in [Psalm 148:5].


The text plainly implies that the light from all three of these sources (sun, moon and stars) had reached the earth before the end of the fourth day of creation. "It was so" implies that the sun had begun ruling the day, etc. On the fifth day God moves on to other things. Within that we may make our own individual suppositions. I do not find it necessary to analyze the Hebrew to reach this conclusion.

The initial phase of the moon is not given in the text, nor is the relative order in which the sun, moon and stars were created made explicit. The Hebrew simply joins their clauses with 've-et' ('and') in verse 16. They could have appeared in any order or simultaneously without falsifying the text.

Because each day of creation begins with evening, we may imagine that the light from the stars would have been visible everywhere on the earth before the sun was placed within the expanse - if they were actually created in that order. Since we now know moonlight to be reflected sunlight, it stands to reason that if the moon were created first, it would have been fully dark until the sun was placed. Possibly we might infer that initially the moon was actually giving off light, therefore it was not initially at zero phase. And we might infer that some parts of the earth received no light other than from the stars and possibly the moon on the fourth day, if the previous light was withheld that did not come from these natural sources. But there was no man or animal alive yet to see any of this light, so these minor questions are purely academic.

The events of the third day also transpire in far less time than the natural order would normally permit. So it should not be any greater surprise to us that the light from the stars would reach the earth on the same day the stars were created. Many kinds of trees grow to full maturity and bear fruit on the third day itself:

The earth brought forth vegetation: seed-bearing plants of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that this was good.

More noteworthy to me is the absence of any specific mention of the five visible planets (the 'wandering stars'). All the modern scholars who try to explain the Torah as an organic outgrowth of Egyptian, Sumerian or other pagan cultures must be scratching their heads. The wandering stars are just stars, not gods, not natural forces or elements, and not of enough significance to deserve special mention in the creation narrative.

Let us not get hung up on trying to find any correspondence to modern cosmological fashions. We have "evening and morning" for one full day before the 'firmament' or 'expanse' was created (the waters [mayim] initially covering the entire earth somehow not being set apart from the 'waters above' [shamayim] where the stars now dwell), and three full days before the sun was created.

We have dry land and flourishing plant life on day three; the sun, moon and stars on day four; aquatic animals and birds on day five; and the first land animals and insects on day six, along with man. Even the relative time order, much less the time scale, of the two cosmologies are completely divergent.

Nor should we pretend that the ancient Jewish people had substantially less reason than we do to see this narrative as totally differing from the natural order we experience every day. Trees do not sprout from the earth, reach maturity and bear fruit containing seeds in a single day, but Genesis says they did. The sun was created on the fourth day, so how was there light on the previous three? If there was no sun, how could there be alternating evening and morning? What does it mean for the earth [ha-aretz] to be "formless and void", and to still be the earth? How exactly did the scribe learn any of this? These are obvious questions for us, and would have been equally obvious and puzzling to the ancient people. That they believed it anyway should be informative in itself.

The six days of creation are exceedingly miraculous events. We should neither seek to explain them away through natural process, nor be troubled at our own inability to explain or imitate them through our own understanding.

  • interesting ideas and answer, you also said: “ The sun was created on the fourth day, so how was there light on the previous three? If there was no sun, how could there be alternating evening and morning?” I think the obvious answer is Genesis 1:3, God made a temporary light to rule the evening and morning before the Sun(greater light) took over. That’s my guess.
    – Cork88
    Commented Jul 19, 2022 at 22:12


The stars as part of the heavens were created in Genesis 1:1 not in 1:14-15.

If the earth was created in Genesis 1:1 itself in the beginning, how can we assume that the stars (as part of the heavens) were created on the fourth day? That would be a wrong assumption.

But the stars shone instantaneously on the earth on the fourth day.

Explanation 1

The following reasons made me convinced that the earth became without form (tohu) and void (bohu):

  1. Isaiah 45:18:

“For thus said YHWH, Creator of the heavens, He is God, Former of earth, and its Maker, He established it—He did not create it empty (tohu), For He formed it to be inhabited: “I am YHWH, and there is none else”.

God never created the earth as formless and void. As is His usual manner, God creates perfectly. He does not create anything partial or incomplete. God originally created the earth as a habitable place.

  1. Job 38:4, 7:

“Where were you when I founded the earth?........ when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”

When God originally created the earth, it was so breathtakingly beautiful that the angels sang together praising God and shouted for joy. This would not have happened at the establishment of the earth if it had originally been formless and void in darkness.

  1. The word “was” (hayetah) in the clause “the earth was formless and void” can also be translated as “became” as in the following verses:

“And the man called the name of his wife, Eve; because she became (hayetah) the mother of all living” (Gen 3:20; LITV).

“And there was hail, and fire flashing in the midst of the hail, very heavy, which never had been in all the land of Egypt since it became (hayetah) a nation” (Exo 9:24).

Thus, it is also possible to translate Gen 1:2 as:

“and the earth became (hayetah) without form and empty”.

  1. Psalms 104:30:

“You send out Your Spirit, they (the living things) are created, And You renew the face of the earth (ground)”.

This is exactly what happened in Genesis first chapter. God’s Spirit was moving (Gen 1:2) and God renewed the face of the ground of the earth and its atmosphere.

So we could say fairly well that the earth “became” formless and void due to some catastrophes. All the while the Sun, the Moon and stars were in existence already.

Explanation 2

After the great catastrophe, the atmosphere was so thick and dusty that the sun light couldn’t penetrate it. But God “renewed” it so that the light came down on earth when He said, “Let there be light”.

Day and night started when “God divided between the light and between the darkness” (verse 4; Biblehub interlinear).

Was it “perfect” (as was the usual case with the Creator)?

Yes, of course, because God saw “that it was good” (same verse).

A Problem

Here is a problem:

God has already “divided between the light and between the darkness” in verse 4. But in verse 18, God made a great luminary and a lesser one and stars in the expanse “to divide between the light and between the darkness” again!

Was God so crazy to repeat the same event which already was so good a second time without any use?

The answer is “no”!

The Solution

We have already seen that the stars, as part of the heavens, were created in Gen 1:1 already. But then why is the same repeated here in verses 14 to 19 on the fourth day?

A clear answer is given in verse 14:

The great luminary and the lesser one with the stars are made (appointed) to provide “”for signs and for seasons, and for days and years”.

[The Hebrew word for “made” is “asah” (H6213) which also means “appointed” or “ordained”]

Yes, God was creating a calendar year with seasons of winter, autumn, spring etc.

This was especially after the creation of trees and plants with their seeds and fruits. But we know that the trees and plants do not carry the seeds and fruits throughout the year. They depend on seasons and years to do that and God was providing for that.

What are the “signs”?

“Can you arrange stars in groups such as Orion and the Pleiades? Do you control the stars or set in place the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper?” (Job 38:31-32; CEV).

What are the seasons?

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Gen 8:22).

What are days?

“Blow the ram's horn when there is a New Moon, when there is a full moon, on our festival day” (Psalms 81:3).

What are years?

“But the seventh year is to be a Sabbath of rest for the land—a Sabbath for the LORD. You are not to plant your field or prune your vineyard” (Lev 25:4).


In Genesis, the first few chapters are not giving a detailed “scientific” description of what happened in the beginning. They are a “historical” narration of the beginning of many things from the perspective of God for man.

I have never come across any other authentic historical record that explains the beginning of human race with all of its peculiarities.

Only this Book explains why man, among all the living things, on one hand, is super intelligent that he can send satellites into deep space with so much precision, and yet, on the other hand, why he is helpless before his problems with his fellow human beings that begin at home and culminate in international war and terrorism.

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