Did God rest on the seventh day or the eighth?

This is a follow up to my earlier post, A Genesis editing error? Separating the second and third days of Creation. The earlier post argued that with the exception of the second day, God declares at the end of each day’s work that “it was good.” On the second day, the expression is missing but on the third day it is used twice, in the middle and at the end. I suggested that thematically, the activities occurring in the first part of the third day fit better with the second day’s activities than the third’s, and suggested that there was an editing error in which the second day’s activity should have included that part of the third day’s activities that occur prior to the first of the two notices that “it was good,”, and that notice originally signaled the end of the second day.

If correct, that would leave us with six days each including the phrase “it was good.” But the sixth day also includes two separate claims that the day’s activities were good. The first part of the day brings forth the animals “And God saw that it was good.” Then God created “man.” Several translations substitute “humankind” for “man” but the underlying Hebrew uses Adam, meaning “man.”

The problem here is that if the phrase “it was good” is used to mark off a day’s activities, as it does for five of the six days (and all six days per my analysis of the second day), then we should consider that the double use of “it was good” should indicate that there were two separate days of activities combined into one day. The creation of the animals happened on the sixth day, as the text indicates, but the creation of Adam, after the first statement that “it was good” should have occurred on the seventh day. If this is the case, then God rested on the eighth day, and we have the Sabbath traditions all wrong.

  1. Kiersten Smeal

    Just spent about five weeks on the creation story in my Old Testament class, so I enjoy seeing something we didn’t really focus on in the class… I think it’s does raise the question, “what is a day?” We base our days off the sun, but the moon sun and stars weren’t created on the first day… so, either way I think we have our sabbath celebrations off.

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