Creation – Day Five

Ain Soph – The Unknown God

Chapter 11

Fred Mayers


Genesis I, V. 20 to 23.

In our fourth chapter we discussed the meaning of the word “waters” as the “universal source from which everything that was to constitute the universe”* was to be drawn. We also saw that the creative ideas and purposes with which the first section of Genesis (I-Il, v. 3) deals, included not only what was to be finally realised, but also the various progressive stages of its realisation, and the general principles, underlying the whole “sovereign work” of Elohim, by which everything would be bound together into one vast unity.

We should be able to realise more completely the fact of that unity by considering carefully the implications of our preceding chapter (X, in which it was shown-at least in brief outline-that the whole Divine plan had been symbolically revealed from its beginnings. The whole stellar universe was shown to be so “set” (the word “yittan,” “set,” means “placed,” “preposed,” “purposed,” “established,” etc.) as to be a permanent “index” and “time-table” of the unfolding purposes of God, and of human events. In the “heavens” and upon earth we can see one Will at work. Whatever is willed in the heavens (where, as Dante says: “Will and power are One”) is ever being realised on every plane of existence. Everything begins in the Divine ONE, descends from Him, and will return to Him as the MANY in ONE.

Jacob, in his wonderful, revealing dream of a connecting “ladder” between the heavens and earth, saw “angels,’ i.e., the Active Divine forces, ascending and descending upon it. That “ladder,” had he but known it, was his own subconscious mind (see Chapter IX) -the “link” between the heavens and his personal consciousness. Through it he was perceiving a great spiritual fact which (in the way we have mentioned before) imprinted itself in his consciousness in the form of a visual picture. He realised the spiritual message of the dream sufficiently to grasp the fact that the very ground he lay on, and the very stone which served him as a pillow, were part of the “dwelling-place” of the Eternal One, and that he had been in communion with the Infinite. He realised at the same time the omnipresence of God and the fact that the heavens and the earth were linked together, and that there was continual inter-communication between them. The voice of the needs of earth rose heavenward; the power to supply those needs descended. But there were many stages to be passed through between the great creative dream in the mind of God and the laying of the foundations of the earth ;and there are as many on the upward path to reunion with Him. We have seen, so far, the plan for the foundation-laying and the early stages of the upbuilding. We have seen how the lowest plane of the universe-the entirely material, mineral plane, was to be made the foundation for kingdoms of “living” nature. We saw the link stage between the “non-living” and the “living” in vegetation-the plant world. (We use those words “non-living” and “living” in quite a free way and merely to suggest the apparent relations of the two planes – not in any strictly scientific way) There are infinite degrees of “life.” The plant world has “life” in so far as it has a power of growth, and of propagation of its species. The mineral world has no such power. The passage from the mineral plane to the “plant” plane is a passage from one world to another. The same is true when the animal” world is created; and again when the “human” stage is reached. Each plane has something new added to it in the next higher stage, and this “something new” is the essential characteristic of that stage. At the same time it will be seen that each plane of being includes within itself an infinite number of stages and branches of development. The “new” element in each, in its beginning is scarcely distinguishable enough to show any clearly definable point at which it first enters; and at its highest points of development each plane approaches very closely to exhibiting the qualities which distinguish the next higher plane. Yet there is always a most important and essential difference between plane and plane which science, so far, has no means of explaining. It is this continual stepping up from one state to another that the Genesis story emphasises all through.

*This conception, in various modifications, is found in all the ancient mythologies.

The section (Genesis I, v. 20 to 23) may be looked upon as -a further development of the creative idea from the stage depicted as “Day Three.” That “day” included the conception of the physical, material plane, the furthest point to be reached in the polarisation of “Spirit-Matter.” It also included the first upward link movement: vegetation-that which “lives” but without sensation or consciousness. The Bible makes a sharp distinction between that kind of “life” and life which has consciousness, sensation, and the power to move Animal Kingdom. The “animal” kingdom includes all animated beings below “man,” whether the are of the water, the air, or the earth. It is with the “life- forms” of this animal kingdom that we now deal. In verses 20 to 23 we see the “waters” called upon to produce, in infinite variety. “life-forms,” or what the Mosaic writer calls “nephesh chaiah”- “souls of life” or “living soul.” There are many words in the passage that require explanation to make their full meaning clear. We have mentioned several times the way in which the writer of Genesis continually associates noun and verb by using words built on the same root for each; par. ex. the earth was to “vegetate vegetation”; the plants to “seed seed”; fruit trees to “fruit fruit,” etc. We might in just the same way translate verse 20: “Let the “waters” “swarm swarms of “life soul.” That would be correct as far as it goes, but it would miss a great part of the meanings of the original words, which suggest, not only great numbers of these life forms, but also their nature; and especially their type of movement. The words are: “ishertzou sheretz.” The word “sheretz” is a compound of the root “shr,” which denotes ‘‘emission,’’ ‘‘liberation,’’ ‘‘swarm,’’ etc., and “rtz,” a root that suggests anything “undulating,” “vibratory,” “prolific,” “propagation by division,” etc. The word “sheretz” is commonly used of reptiles on account of their movements, but it is broad enough in meaning to cover many kinds of creatures. Delitzsch says “it can apply to any kind of animated beings which move about amongst each other in swarms.” The verb which accompanies the noun “sheretz” is “ishertzou,” which one can see instantly is the same word verbalised. It contains exactly the same ideas of abundance and of manner of movement, etc. It thus makes the “bringing forth” correspond precisely with what is brought forth. We mentioned in our first chapter that “nothing can be brought into existence except by a direct, sufficient, and strictly relevant cause.’ Surely, precision of wording in relating cause to effect could go no farther than the author of Genesis carries it by means of this expedient.

We can scarcely fail to notice, also, in this account of the origin of “life forms,” how completely it all agrees with the findings of modern science.

Another point that is worthy of special notice is that the writer has quite a system of his own in his classification of various animate beings: he classes them all, from infusoria to men, according to their mode of movement-wriggling, creeping, crawling, dragging, gliding, swimming, flying, walking on feet, or on feet and hands, and finally, the upright walk of man.

He evidently saw “life” with a very broad vision as something moving-and moving towards a goal. Therefore, he saw in every form of movement a suggestive “correspondence” with some phase of spiritual activity. And so may we.

The life souls which the “waters” were to “swarm swarms of are the “nephesh chaiah.” The word “nephesh” is a combination of three abbreviated roots: “nph,” “pha,” and “ash.” The root “nph” denotes inspiration, infusion, in-breathing, etc.; “pha” expresses reaction, expansion, effusion, out-breathing (in a very restricted sense it means voice, speech,” etc.); “ash” signifies life-force, energy (what was associated with the “Fire” element in Chapter X). The word “chaiah” means quite simply “life,” or “living.” It is quite clear from the analysis of the word “nephesh” that it describes the “soul” or “life centre” in all animated beings. But, as with other things with which we have been dealing, there are many grades of “soul.” There is as great a difference between the “worm soul and the “human” soul as between worm and human intelligence. It must also be pointed out that the text does not in any way either say or infer that every individual creature, every single fish or bird, every single worn’ or fly, whale or shrimp, fox or elephant, has an individual soul. The possession of an individual soul is reserved for human beings only. In the animal kingdom the “soul” is that of the genus or species it is a “group soul.” No animal thinks or acts except in accordance with the soul of its particular “kind.” Close observation of animals, -birds, fishes, insects, etc., will confirm the truth of that statement. Thus far verse 20 appears to have been concerned with creatures of the “water” element, but now it goes on to say that from the same source are also to be produced creatures of the “air” element to fly “above the earth,” in the open firmament of heaven. If what has already been said in reference to the “elements” and the “firmament” is borne in mind, no difficulty should arise in understanding the narrative. The “Air” creatures are described as “whuph whupheph.” (“wh” in this transliteration represents the Hebrew letter “ayin” a very soft sound not used in English) The word “whuph” denotes an easy, swift, gliding, floating, soaring movement. It is obviously an onomatopoetic word suggested by the sound of the swift flying movement of a bird. It is used to denote the “flying kind” of creature in general. The word “whupheph” is, as usual, merely a modification of the root word to describe the movements instead of the mover; it means “flying.” If we narrowed the significance of the words to a merely materialistic surface meaning, “flying fowl that fly” would suffice, but we should then lose their broader applications, as the English translation does. We have purposely chosen the broader interpretation in order that the reader may not for one moment lose sight of the fact that we are dealing with a spiritual book, and with spiritual activities that are “universal” in their expression. It is easy, if we deal only with their application on the physical plane, to forget their corresponding activities on other planes. The serpentine, up and down, insinuating, movements of the “sheretz” creatures, for instance, have their counterparts in the busy workings of human feelings and emotions. The “flying ,kind” of creatures have their counterparts in the swift and varied movements of human thoughts.

Passing on to verse 21, we find that God, having expressed His will for the production universally of the “life” element, created, as the English Authorised Version renders it- “great whales.” The “Revised Version” uses the expression: “great sea-monsters.” Both renderings are attempts to give a materialistic interpretation of the original, and both fail to give its true meaning. The Hebrew word is “tanninim.” The word is based on the root “NN.” The “n” is the sign of “individual existence” or “produced being.” When this letter is at the end of a word it denotes “augmentation” or “extension” of the significance of the word. The root “NN” denotes the “continuity of existence by generation” – one individual being producing others and forming a continual chain of individual beings of the same species. “Nun,” a verbal form of the root, denotes “abundant propagation.” “Nin” denotes any extension of lineage, family, or race. With the “th” (hard) prefixed, the word “TNN” gives the idea of extension or amplification-either of bodies, number, or volume. The “M” final completing the word “tanninim is simply the plural ending. There is, therefore, quite clearly, nothing in the word which makes it applicable any more especially to a fish than to any other creature of water, air or earth. What the word denotes is that God created the living souls for extensive groups or species of beings, so that they could become “fruitful, and multiply” after their own “kind,” through the individual creatures in their groups. A “species” or “genus”‘ as such, of course, could not multiply. Every distinct class, group type, or species had its “soul.” Within the limits of each group there was left room for free modification of detailed characteristics to make individuals

F adaptable to special conditions. For instance, the wild horse of the prairie may be developed either towards the type of the swift, elegant, Arab racer, or towards the type of the heavy wagon horse-but it can never be made into anything but a “horse.” It can never pass out of the “horse” species into that of the bull, bear, or tiger. It is the “life soul” that makes every species what it is-and keeps it such. Having thus “created’ the great types of life soul-from their beginning to their ending,, (“eth”) and every soul-of-life that moves, which the “waters swarmed forth after their kinds-the creeping kind and the flying kind-God considered it all and saw that it was good; and in verse 22 He passes a “blessing” upon them.

How many and varied are the interpretations which have been put upon the word “to bless.” D’Olivet, in this case, simply agrees with the common acceptance of the word as meaning “an extension of the hands in a paternal, benevolent way”- (an interpretation which would appear to have little meaning, for instance, in such a verse as “Bless the Lord, 0 my soul).” For once, Delitzsch seems to see a little farther; he says: “Here, where God blesses, or better, perhaps, pronounces a blessing, the wishing word is at the same time the imparting deed, the bestowal of generative power.” The Hebrew word is “barech.” The root “BR,” as in the word “bara” – “he created,” denotes any internal movement tending to express itself outwardly. The final letter of the word, “ch,” gives the suggestion of the hand shaping; forming; transferring some spiritual influence; or of imparting some creative “power.” It is like the work the potter does in moulding clay that it may fulfil some purpose he has in mind. The word is more than an expression of “goodwill,” and in any case it is obvious that no 4’blessing” given by God would be a mere word; it would be a word conveying some benefit or power. In this case, God wills the “souls-of-life’ to be “fruitful and multiply”-and, “seeing” that purpose to be “good,” he imparts to them the power to fulfil it.

So with the introduction of “life” into the universe, and the creation of the “group souls” ends the fifth “day.”

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