So what can be deduced from the Hebrew verb as to the creation process? Instantaneous fiat event, or long drawn out process? Or an obscure meaning, indefinite as to time?

  • You might want to cut the parenthetical phrase from the title. It reflects an outdated and erroneous notion concerning verb aspect in Ancient Greek. Apr 21 at 18:09

2 Answers 2


The word involved in Gen 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 29 is simply אָמַר (amar) and means nothing more than that someone said something. In most cases in Gen 1 it is just the very ordinary form of the verb, namely Qal-consecutive, ie, part of a series of events in a narrative of such events.

[The same verb is used to describe human speech as well, eg, Gen 2:23, 3:2, 9, 10, 12, 13, etc.]

However, in the record of Gen 1, it is what follows that is important. In most of these instances of the verb אָמַר, it is immediately followed by the result:

  • V3 - And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light
  • V6 - And God said, “Let there be an expanse..." And it was so.
  • V9 - And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered into one place, so that the dry land may appear.” And it was so.
  • V14, 15 - And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse ..." And it was so.
  • V20, 21 - And God said, “Let the waters teem with living creatures, ..." So God created the great sea creatures
  • etc

That is, while the verb "to speak or say something" is very ordinary, it is the effect of those words, as recorded in Gen 1, that is important. God simply says something and it immediately occurs!! This is again reported in Ps 33:6, 9.

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. ... For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.

The matter of timing of the creation week, whether over seven literal days or long eons, is a matter of interpretation. However, if the text is read literally, as required by the narrative form of the text in Gen 1, then we have as prof Barr (Oxford university) pointed out in a private letter to Mr David C C Watson in Illinois, dated 23 April 1984:

“… probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that:

  • creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience

  • the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story

  • Noah’s flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark.”

This view is based, in Gen 1, on the simple observation that the word for "day" is יוֹם (yom); when this word is preceded by a cardinal or ordinal number, it ALWAYS means a literal day of about 24 hours. Such is the case in gen 1 because we have "day one", "second day", etc.

[Note the word יוֹם can mean long ages but this sense never has a cardinal or ordinal number involved. However., this is another question.]


Yes, the aorist tense in Greek would represent the tense used in Genesis 1:1

The word in the Masoretic Text is אמֶר (amar) - in Qal conjugation, past tense, perfect aspect.

This would be equivalent to the aorist tense in Greek. We see this in the Septuagint, where Genesis 1:1 reads:

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν.

where ἐποίησεν translates אמֶר (or וַיֹּ֥אמֶר). It is in the aorist tense (active indicative).

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