Skeptics often claim that Genesis chapter 1 conflicts with chapter 2. Genesis 2:5 says that no “shrub of the field” was yet in the earth and no “plant of the field” had yet sprouted – for it had not rained and there was no man to be tilling the ground. Skeptics claim this is a contradiction, since plants were created on day three (Genesis 1:11 -12). The shrub-word in Hebrew often refers to a dessert bush. The text explains why there were no desert bushes. Water came out of the ground to water the entire face of the earth. A fully watered world is incompatible with deserts. Evidently, when deserts formed later, God acclimatized plants to their changing environments.
What about the “plants of the field?” Again the text explains there was no man (Hebrew uadm – Adam) for tilling the ground. Genesis 3:18 When God cursed Adam for his disobedience, He used the same phrase “plants of the field.” Adam was to eat the plants of the field – in the sweat of his face he would eat bread. When did God change grasses into grain producing plants? Evidently when Adam could no longer eat the fruits in the garden and had to till the soil for bread. Job 39 explains how God manages and even changes creation. He changed lions from herbivores to carnivores. Millions of parallel changes are required to change a herbivore into a carnivore.
There are 70 Hebrew verbs relating to the events of day-six. Only nine of them (13%) refer to completed commands or actions. Imperfect verbs and participles refer to continuing or repeated actions. They are not equivalent to the past tense, traditionally used in modern translations. Ancient Hebrew had no verb tenses. We should take care not to tailor the text to fit our tensed grammar or our speculations about time.
Genesis 1:24 – 28 Then God continued to say, Let the earth continue to bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind; and it was so. God continued to make the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God continued to see that it was good. Then God continued to say, Let Us continue to create man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them continue to rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that continues to creep (in unbroken continuity) on the earth. God continued to create man in His own image, in the image of God He created (completed action) him; male and female He created them (completed action). God continued to bless them; and continued to say, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
When Elohim (the plural God who uses singular grammar) speaks to Themselves, the speaking continues as though the planning continues. With respect to creating man, only after he made the woman does the text use perfect (completed creation) verbs. Man and woman were both created in the image of God.
Genesis 1:29-31 Then God continued to say, “Behold, I have given you (completion) every plant continually yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. God continued to see all that He made (perfect verb), and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
How long was day six? During Moses day, people could not draw history with equal spacings on a straight line. Ideas about linear time did not come on the scene until 3,000 years later. All ancient people adjusted their dynamic calendars to fit the cycles of the heavens. They tuned their lives to the continually changing cycles of nature and also counted years with the same cycles. Westerners tend to regulate life with ideas about linear clocks and fixed calendars. Westerners force the dynamics observed in nature to fit their linear perspective. However, ancient people had no constants even with respect to days and years. They thought the first people lived for eons and that the earliest days were the longest. Jacob said his days and years were shorter and worse than the days and years of his fathers, Genesis 47:9, which was in keeping with how the ancient poets saw history. To this day, old people notice that days and years speed up as they age.
In the ancient way of thinking, a primordial evening and morning took eons compared to rapid later evenings and mornings. Have you ever wondered why ancient people traveled much farther than we can in a day using the same means of locomotion? (Jacob drove suckling lambs from the Euphrates to the mountains of Gilead in seven days). It would take months to travel the same road in the same manner today. Xenophon and Alexander could march further in a day than modern armies can by the same means.
On days six, the process of examining and naming all the land animals and birds would have taken Adam several modern years. Yet he did it in a fraction of day. Then God put Adam into a continuing deep sleep and took one of his bones and fashioned from it the woman. She was to be his companion, from his side, not his superior or his foot stool.
When Adam met Eve, he continued to say, this is now (pa’am) bone of my bone. Pa’am refers to repetitive things like strokes, hoof-beats and footsteps – used to mark durations. After all that Adam had seen and cataloged on that long day, at last he sees the woman and names her what she was, out of man. Then God established the first law for all generations, that a man should leave his father and mother and cling to his wife and they should be one.
Do you notice life speeding up as you age? Those interested in primordial notions of time and history should read Mircea Eliade’s The Myth of the Eternal Return (Cosmos and History). You should also read ancient poems on how the golden age turned to iron (Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Hesiod’s Works and Days).
The optical parallax to the Sun has continued to decrease since the Greeks first measured it 2300 years ago. It has continued to decrease even over the last 50 years, since clocks and radar canonically defined the AU. We can see the evidence that ancient orbits were much slower than modern ones in the only history that is visible as it occurred, cosmic history. In billions of spiral galaxies at many ranges (eras), the star streams spread outward, the star orbits not closing. Billions of galaxies grew from tiny naked globs into huge, local, growth spirals. Orbits that spread out are by nature accelerating (relative to their previous state).
What we observe in all directions and many ranges, fits what the Bible says began on day four. He continued to form (imperfect verbs) the Sun, Moon and stars and continued to make them into things that spread (the noun raqiya). The text of the Bible plainly denies the western notions of linear time. Why should days and years continue to accelerate? Consider gravity aberration that continually spins up earth rotation while concurrently pushing our orbit outwards. Gravity aberration is the reason why days and years steadily accelerate. You can read about gravity aberration on this web site.
The picture of the Garden of Eden was painted by Jacob Savery in 1601. It shows the garden as a medieval person might imagine it, a highly unlikely scene. The picture is in the public domain.