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1 ff. ; etc. 3 isa. xlii. 9 ; xliii. 9-12 ; xlvi. 10 ; xlviii. 4 f.

4 Amos iv. 13 ; v. 12 ; Hos. v. 3 ; Zech. ix. 1 ; Job xi. 7-9, 11 ; xxvi.
5 f . ; xxxiv. 21 f . ; Jer. i. 5 ; xi. 20 ; xii. 3 ; xv. 15 ; etc. ; Ezek. xi. 5 ;
Isa. xxxvii. 28 ; 1 Kings viii. 39 ; Pro v. v. 21 ; xv. 3, 11 ; etc.

° Jer. X. 12 ; li. 15 f . ; Isa. xxxi. 2 ; xL 12-14 ; Job ix. 4-10 ; xii.
13, 16 ; xxviii. 12-27 ; xxxviii.-xli. ; Prov. iii. 19 f. ; viii. 22 ff. ; Ps.
xix. ; civ. 24; Gen. i. 31.

6 Haag, Theol. Bibl., p. 312. ' Gen. ii. 4 &-25.


This narrative declares that Jehovah God made the
earth and the heavens.^ On the whole it presents
na'ively, but not unattractively, the early conceptions
of Israel on this subject. It tells us that, before the
creation of man, there were no plants on the earth, be-
cause God had not yet caused it to rain ; 2 that God
formed man of the dust of the earth and breathed into
his nostrils to make him a living being ; ^ that from
the earth he also took the animals.* The formation of
woman from a rib of man is clearly the most original
feature of this whole fragment.^

Except in this narrative, and a few other passages,^
there is little reference to creation and God the Creator
in early Hebrew literature. It is necessary to come
down as far as the time of the Exile to find passages of
any number bearing on this subject.'^ The book of Job
several times refers to it.^ It is also mentioned in the
famous passage, Prov. viii. 22 ff., and especially in a
number of psalms.^ But the most remarkable passage
relating to it is the narrative of creation in document C.^^

Upon comparing this latter narrative with that of
document A, it will easily be perceived that it dates
from a time when religious thought was more developed.
God does not here act after the manner of men, fash-
ioning the clay of the earth into man and animals, get-
ting woman from a rib of man, and watering the earth

1 V. 4. 2 ^. 5, s V. 7. * V. 19. 5 ^^^ 21 f.

^ Gen. xiv. 19, 22 ; Ex. iv. 11 ; Amos iv. 13 ; v. 8 ; Isa. xxix, 16.

' Jer. X. 12 f., 16 ; xxvii. 5; xxxi. 35 ; xxxii. 17 ; li. 15, 19 ; Zech.
xii. 1 ; Isa. xxxvii. 16 ; xl. 28 ; xlii. 5 ; xliv. 24 ; xlv. 9, 12, 18 ; xlviii.
13 ; li. 13 ; Ixvi. 2 ; Jon. i. 9.

8 X. 8 f . ; xxvi. 7 ff. ; xxviii. 25 f. ; xxxvi. 3 ; xxxviii. 4 ff.

^ viii. ; xix. 1 ff. : xxiv. 1 f . ; xxxiii. 6-9 ; etc. 10 Gen, i.


with rain to make the plants grow. He proceeds as a
real creator : " God said : Let the light be ! And light
was." This is also the case with the other acts of crea-
tion, i The simple creative word of God instantly calls
everything into existence. The sublime beauty of this
conception has always been admired. In addition to
the word of God it is the spirit of God that contributes
to the realization of the work of creation. ^ Elsewhere
the spirit,^ the word,* and the wisdom^ of God are
mentioned as the agents of creation.

The question whether the world was produced from
nothing or whether matter existed from all eternity, is
not touched, much less solved, in the canonical books
of the Old Testament. Creation ex nihilo is first taught,
2 Mace. vii. 28, and it is not absolutely certain that
it is the thought of that passage.^ Wisdom says ex-
pressly that God made the world of formless matter,^
probably basing this statement upon Gen. i. 1. The
creation of matter by the almighty word of God,
however, agrees better with the character of Gen. i. than
the opposite conception.^ If the question concerning
creation ex nihilo had been put, or had presented itself,
to the author of document C, he would certainly have
answered it in the affirmative, and what is true of him
is true also of the prophets and the other sacred writers.
There was, from this time onward, too strong a persua-

1 vv. 3, 6, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26. 2 ^. 2.

3 Job xxxiii. 4 ; xxxiv. 14 f. ; Ps. xxxiii. 6 ; civ. 29 f. ; comp.
Gen. ii. 7.

* Ps. xxxiii. 6, 9 ; cvii. 20 ; cxlvii. 15, 18 ; cxlviii. 5.

5 Job xxviii. 23 ff. ; Prov. viii. 22 ff.

« Grimm, i. I. "^ xi. 18.

« Schultz, II. pp. 184 ff. ; comp. Reuss, Oeschichte, p. 320.


sion of the omnipotence of God to admit of the least
limitation to it.^ Even document A declares that noth-
ing is impossible with God.^ If the question under
discussion was not answered in the way indicated, it is
because it was not proposed. The prophets generally
said little about creation. It is the present and the
future that engage their attention, not the past, and
what interests them almost exclusively in the past is
the history of their people. As for the sages in Israel,
they gave more attention to practical life than to purely
speculative problems.

In our day the attempts have often been made to
reconcile the first biblical account of creation with the
dicta of science. As for us, we feel ourselves obliged
to oppose such attempts. All who make them are
forced to wrest the meaning of the Scriptures or the
results of science. Thus they are obliged to transform
the six days of which the biblical narrative speaks into
as many periods, comprising innumerable years. Now
one must either imperfectly understand the meaning of
the passage or have a defective exegetical conscience
to venture to defend such an interpretation. Every
impartial exegete admits that reference is here made
merely to six ordinary days followed by a real Israelit-
ish Sabbath. The end of the narrative ^ shows clearly
that, in this document, the institution of the week
and the Sabbath is connected with the work of creation.
It appears also from another passage of the same docu-
ment.* The addition to the decalogue, Ex. xx. 11, —

1 Comp. Bruch, Weisheitslehre der Hebrder, p. 77 ; [Schultz, II. p.
186 f.].

2 Gen. xviii. 14. 3 Qen. ii. 2 f. * Ex. xxxi. 17.


which forms no part of the original text, as is proven
by the parallel text, Deut. v., — is also evidently taken
from this document. In these passages, copied from
Gen. i., there is reference only to six ordinary week-
days, hence it may be concluded that in this last there
is no reference to anything else. Or rather, all these
passages, Gen. i. included, were suggested by the Isra-
elitish week, which existed from the remotest times : a
clear proof that, in this narrative, there is reference
to six real days. Moreover, the narrative itself suffi-
ciently sustains this interpretation by the expression,
six times repeated: "And there was evening, and there
was morning. "1 We mast say that the idea of seeing
anything but six ordinary days in it would never have
occurred to any one, if modern science had not demon-
strated that the work of creation required for its accom-
plishment a series of very long periods. There are,
moreover, other variations between the biblical account
and science. 2

What should one do in such a state of things ? We
must begin by respecting the exact sense of the biblical
text, on the one hand, and the results of science on the
other, and admit that the Bible is not and does not
pretend to be either a scientific manual or a system of
infallible dogmas. Its value is neither theological nor
scientific, but religious. This is true also of the first
chapter of Genesis. An account that says that God
worked six days, a|: the task of creation and rested the
seventh like a laborer, is far from perfect from the theo-
logical as well as for the scientific point of view. But

1 Gen. i. 5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 26.

2 Dillmanu, Genesis, pp. 10 ff. ; [Dods, Book of Genesis, pp. 3 f.].


this simple and naive account has a real religious value,
because it represents to us the world as the work of an
almighty God, who has only to speak to bring every-
thing into existence. The religious soul will always
require such a God ; it will . always thirst for a living
God.i It will, therefore, find ample satisfaction in this
account despite its dogmatic and scientific imperfec-
tions, which shock only those who cherish a false idea
of the Bible.

Most civilized peoples of antiquity have, among their
traditions, accounts of creation, and some of these ac-
counts are very analogous to those of the Bible. ^ They
all seem to rest on a common tradition. The biblical
accounts, however, excel the others, as the religion of
Israel excels the other religions of antiquity. We
therefore fully agree with the conclusion with which
Kiehm closes his article on creation : " Instead of mak-
ing useless and fruitless efforts to reconcile the account
of creation with the results of science, it would be much
better to compare carefully all the cosmogonies of
antiquity for the sake of placing in a clear light the
religious value of the biblical account of creation. "^


It is only necessary to glance through the Old
Testament to be impressed that the dominant idea, re-
curring on every page, is that Jehovah directs every-

1 Ps. xlii. 2 ; Ixxxiv. 2.

2 See Dillmann, Genesis, pp. 10 f. ; [Lenoiinant, Beginnings oj
History, pp. 47 ff.].

2 Handworterhuch, p. UIG ; [Docls, Genesis, pp. 1 f.].


thing in the world and more particularly in the history
of his people. He appears to the first men and to the
patriarchs to regulate all that concerns them. He in-
terferes in histofy, to save his people from Egyptian
slavery, to lead them across the desert, to bring them
into the land of Canaan, to protect them against their
enemies, to reclaim them from their wanderings, to
punish them for their unfaithfulness. He j)laces over
them Moses, to whom he speaks continually, revealing
to him, even to the least details, the laws, civil and re-
ligious, that Israel are to obey. Joshua, who succeeds
Moses by the express command of God, is also divinely
directed in all his undertakings. After Joshua there
are judges, raised up and directed by the spirit of God,
who govern the various tribes of Israel. Then the
kings or anointed ones of Jehovah are placed over the
whole people, also the prophets, those servants of God
par excellence^ who always speak and act under the influ-
ence of divine inspiration. In a word, from the remot-
est antiquity the people Israel felt themselves con-
stantly governed and directed in all things by Jehovah
himself or by powers established and inspired by him.
From this point of view providence becomes identical
with the theocratic government of Israel. For a long
time, doubtless, the Israelites had no other conception
of divine providence.

Afterwards, however, they rose to the idea that Jeho-
vah directs, as sovereign lord, all the peoples of the
earth. 1 Nevertheless, Israel always remained the centre
of the world's history, and the other peoples were, in

1 Amos i. 2, 1 ff. ; ix. 7 ; Zech. ix. 1 ff. ; Mic. iv. 11 ff. ; Isa. xv. ff. ;
Jer. xlvi. ff. ; Ezek. xxv. ff. ; 2 Kings v. 1 ; Deut. ii. 22.


reality, only instruments employed by Jehovah to exe-
cute his purposes toward his chosen people. The nar-
row pai^ticularism, inherent in the whole old covenant,
was only partially outgrown by the proi3hets ; none of
them rose to strict universalism, as more than one con-
sideration will show.

What idea was current in Israel of the relation ex-
isting between divine providence and human freedom ?
It is certain that the Old Testament allows great play
to the freedom of man. The legal regime leaves to each
the choice between life and death, between blessing and
cursing. What Deut. xxx. 15-20 says on this subject
is but an admirable resume of the whole Old Testament.
The efficacy of prayer is also everywhere recognized;
that is to say, it is admitted that the will of man is taken
into consideration by God, that it influences the divine

Though, on the one hand, the Old Testament takes
for granted or asserts the reality of human freedom, on
the other, it teaches just as categorically the absolute
dependence of man with respect to God. According
to this doctrine everything in the history of peoples
and individuals depends upon God and his providential
direction ; there is no place for chance. ^ Nothing hap-
pens except the Lord decrees it.-^ Even when the lot is
cast, the decision comes from God.^ Human actions are
no exception to the general rule. They also are abso-
lutely dependent upon God. Man plans his path, but

1 See especially Gen. xviii. 23 ff. ; Ex. xxxii. 10-14 ; Num.xiv. 12-
20 ; Deut. ix. 25 ff. ; 2 Kings xx. 1-11.

2 Ex. xxi. 13. « Lam. iii. 27.
* Prov. xvi. 33.


it is God who directs his course.^ Man is really in the
hands of God as the clay is in the hands of the potter. ^
Divine providence, in thus directing the events of
history, uses all human actions for the realization of its
purposes. This appears very clearly in the history of
the patriarchs, especially in that of Jacob, and most
clearly in that of Joseph. It is expressly said that the
evil that his brothers sought to do to Joseph was provi-
dential, and that God would and could transform it into
good. 2 The same point of view is maintained in the
later history. The cruel edict of Pharaoh against the
Hebrew children, the exposure of Moses on the Nile,
his education at the Egyptian court, the murder that
he commits, his flight and his sojourn in the desert, — •
everything helps to prepare him for his lofty mission as
deliverer of the children of Israel. All the persecu-
tions directed against David only serve to bring him
more surely to the throne. Balaam is forced to bless
Israel against his will. Jonah seeks in vain to avoid
the mission that God has entrusted to him. The
mighty enemies of Israel, in spite of their ambition and
their proud designs, are only instruments in the hands
of God in fulfilling his will and his decrees, in punish-
ing or delivering his people.^ God, indeed, is able to
do anything, and there are no obstacles to his plans. ^

1 Prov. xvi. 1, 9 ; xix. 21 ; xx. 24 ; xxi. 1 ; Jer. x. 23 ; Isa.
xxvi. 12.

2 Isa. xxix. 16 ; xlv. 9 f. ; Ixiv. 8 ; Jer. xviii. 6.

3 Gen. xlv. 5, 7 f. ; 1. 20.

* Ex. ix. 15 f. ; xi. 9 ; Isa. x. 5 ff. ; xiv. 12 ff. ; xli. 2 ff., 25 ff. ;
xlv. 1 ff. ; Jer. 1. 2 ff., 8 ff., 41 ff. ; li. 11 ff., 20 ff., 27 ff. ; Hab. i.
5 ff. ; Zech. xiv. 2.

^ Job xlii. 2 ; comp. Prov. xxi. ol ; Ps. cxviii. 22 f.


Thus he laughs at the powerful of the earth, who dare
to oppose him, him and his anointed. ^

It appears from the preceding discussion, that God
is the author both of the happiness and the unhappiness
of peoples and individuals. Such is the teaching of the
whole Old Testament, especially of the historical and
prophetical books. But what best shows how far the
Old Testament carries its assertion of the absolute sov-
ereignty of God, is the fact that it represents God as
the author of moral evil. It is he, in fact, Avho hardens
the hearts of Pharaoh ^ and the Egyptians,^ of Sihon*
and the Canaanites ; ^ it is he who excites discord be-
tAveen Abimelech and the citizens of Shechem,^ who
impels the sons of Eli to despise the exhortations of
their father,^ who sends an evil spirit upon Saul,^ who
incites David against the Israelites and leads him to
take a forbidden census;^ finally, it is he who causes
Rehoboam to deny the just demands of the people, ^^ who
deceives the prophets of Israel by a lying spirit, ^^ who
prevents the people from seeing, hearing, understand-
ing his will, lest they should turn,i2 ^\^q [^ ^ stumbling-
block and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, ^^ who
puts into the Egyptian chiefs an erring spirit. ^^

The absolute dependence, then, of man as respects

1 Ps. ii. 1 ff. ; comp. xxxiii. 10.

2 Ex. iv. 21 ; vii. 3 ; ix. 12 ; x. 1, 20, 27 ; xiv. 4, 8.

8 Ex. xiv. 17. 4 Deut. ii. 30. & Josh. xi. 20. e j^d. ix. 23.
7 1 Sam. ii. 25. « 1 Sam. xvi. 14 f . ; xviii. 10 ; xix. 9.

9 2 Sam. xxiv. ; comp. 1 Sam. xxvi. 19.

10 1 Kings xii. 15. n 1 Kings xxii. 19-23.

12 Isa. vi. 9 f . ; comp. xxix. 10-12 ; Ixiii. 17 ; Deut. xxix. 4 ; Job xii.
16 ; xvii. 4. i3 isa. viii. 14.

" Isa. xix. 13 f. ; comp. Job xii. 24 f.


God is asserted in the Old Testament, as well as his
freedom and responsibility. Let no one try to recon-
cile these two contradictor^^ assertions. The eminently
practical character of the religion of Israel made it pos-
sible to forego a solution, which, for that matter, has
never yet been discovered, and which evidently tran-
scends the powers of the human reason. The moral
consciousness will always assert human freedom, and
the religious consciousness the absolute sovereignty of
God. Philosophers and dogmatists may, in turn, deny
the one or the other ; morality will always protest
against the denial of our freedom, and piety against
that of the supreme sovereignty of God, and they will
thus vindicate the general standpoint of the Old Testa-
ment, which in the place of two negations presents two

As God orders and directs absolutely every event in
history, in the lives of peoples and individuals, so also
he governs the world that he has created, and all the
phenomena that appear in it. Men of primitive times,
being destitute of all scientific training, knew nothing
or next to nothing of the laws of nature that regulate
the course and the maintenance of the world. It is
late, therefore, before there appear in the Old Testa-
ment passages in which these laws are mentioned. ^
We know of only one comparatively early passage that
speaks of the regular course of the world ;2 and this
makes it depend directly upon the will of God and not
upon laws established by him. Even in more recent

1 Jer. V. 22 ; xxxi. 35 f. ; xxxiii. 20, 25 ; Job xiv. 5 ; xxxviii. 10 ;
Gen. i. 11, 22, 28 f. ; ix. 1, 8-17 ; Ps. civ. 9 ; cxMii. 6.

2 Gen. viii. 22.


documents the passages that speak of the laws of nature
are rare. The prevailing tendency of the religion of
Israel, not only at the time when the laws of nature
were unknown, but even afterwards, when they were
to some extent recognized, was to overlook these laws
and refer everything that happened to the immediate
action of God. To the Israelite in all ages, the crea-
ture is absolutely and directly dependent upon the Crea-
tor. The spirit, the word, and the wisdom of God, that
called them into existence, can also at any moment
bring them to naught ; God has only to withdraw his
breath, and they die ; or emit it, and everything is re-
newed, i Before the breath, the almighty and creative
spirit of God, all creatures are but flesh, i.e. fragile
beings.2 God is the lord of the spirits of all flesh,
causing life and death. ^

It is God who produces and regulates all the phenom-
ena of animate and inanimate nature, who grants or
denies food to all that lives, who causes plenty or
scarcity.* This side of divine providence is very well
described in a series of psalms,^ and after a magnificent
fashion in the book of Job.^ The book of Jonah also
makes prominent this idea, that God regulates everything

1 Gen. vi. 3 ; Job xxvii. 3 ; xxxiv. 14 f. ; Ps. xxxiii. 9 ; civ. 27-30 ;
cxlvii. 15-18.

2 Gen. vi. 3, 13 ; Isa. xxxi. 3 ; xl. 6-8.

3 Num. xvi. 22 ; iivii. 16 ; 1 Sam. ii. 6 ; Isa. xxxviii.

* Amos iv. 6 ff. ; T. 8 f . ; yiii. 9 ; Hos. ii. 21 ; Zech. x. 1 ; Isa. v.
6 ; xix. 5 ff. ; xxx. 20, 23 ff. ; Neh. i. 4 ; Jer. iii. 3 ; v. 42 ; x. 13 ;
Dent. xi. 13 ff. ; xxviii. 1 ff., 15 ff. ; etc.

Mxv. 9-13; civ. 1 ff., 13 ff., 21, 27 ff. ; cxxxvi. 25; cxlv. 15 f . ;
cxlvii. 9, 15-18.

« xxxvi. 27-31 ; xxxvii. 2-13 ; xxxviii.-xli.


in nature as he pleases. ^ God can make barrenness fruit-
ful. 2 He covers with the waters of the deluge the face
of the earth ; after the deluge he places the rainbow in
the clouds ; he causes it to rain brimstone and fire upon
Sodom and Gomorrah; he sends plagues of every sort
upon Egypt; he gives manna and quails to the people
Israel. More than this, God can transform the entire
universe.^ He has only to speak to attain his pur-
poses; for his word does not return to him without
effect; it executes his will, and fulfils his intentions.^

The best proof that God is not bound by the laws of
nature, but can do whatever he will, is the unlimited
ability to perform miracles attributed to him. On this
point the story of Moses, and that of Elijah and Elisha,
are especially instructive. The Israelites accepted
without hesitation the most extraordinary miracles.
They believed that Balaam's ass spoke,^ that the walls
of Jericho fell at the noise of the trumpets and the
shouts of the people Israel,^ that the sun and the moon
stood still at the command of Joshua,^ that the sun even
retraced its course in answer to the prayer of Isaiah,^
that Elisha made a piece of iron that had fallen into the
water float. ^ They also attributed a degree of miracu-
lous power to the Egyptian magicians, ^^ but a less degree
than that possessed by Moses. ^^ Finally, they thought
that false prophets possessed the gift of working

1 i. 4 ; ii. 1, 11 ; iv. 6-8.

2 Gen. xviii. 9 ff. ; xvii. 17 ff. ; xxi. 1 f. ; xxv. 21 ; xxx. 2, 8.

8 Ps. cii. 26. * Isa. Iv. 11. ^ Num. xxii. 28. ^ josh. vl.
7 Josh. X. 12 f. 8 2 Kings xx. 8-11.

9 2 Kmgs vi. 6. lo Ex. vii. 11 f., 22 ; viii. 3.
11 Ex. viii. 14 ; ix. 11. 12 Deut. xiii. 2 ff.


On the other hand, it must not be forgotten that the
Israelites saw miracles in the ordinary course of nature
and history. The same term that denotes wonders of
nature also denotes miracles properly so called. ^

Oehler, therefore, could justly say that, from the
standpoint of the Old Testament, "miracles do not
differ qualitatively from the customary operations of
God in nature and history. "^ The Israelite saw too
clearly everywhere the direct activity of God to make
an essential distinction between the wonders of nature
and miracles in the strict sense of this term.


The God of Israel is an absolutely transcendent God.
The Israelites did not have the idea of the immanence
of God. Jehovah hovers over the earth ; he is perfectly
distinct from it, therefore he is essentially holy; holi-
ness, when applied to God, denotes his exaltation, his
transcendence. Hence God cannot enter into direct
relations with the world; he needs mediators. Neither
is he able to make himself known to men in his glori-
ous essence and majesty; he can reveal himself to them
only in part.

Though the possibility and the reality of a continued
revelation of God was believed in Israel, they did not
claim to possess a perfect and adequate knowledge of
him. Moses himself, though peculiarly blessed in this
respect, in that God shows himself to him and speaks

1 Comp. Job V. 9 f. ; Ps. Ixxxix. 5 ; cvii. 8 f., 23 f. ; cxxxix. 13 f.,
with Ex. iii. 20 ; xv. 11 ; xxxiv. 10 ; Josh. iii. 5 ; Jud. vi. 13.


to him more directly than to any other prophet, ^ is not
allowed to see God face to face; he can see him only
from behind ; ^ in fact, none among men can see the face
of God and live.^ This view, which dates from the
first period, is maintained in the periods following.*
Man could not, then, fully see, know, comprehend
God.^ Even the God revealed remains a God more or
less hidden.^ Though the things revealed are for man,
there are also hidden things that God alone knows. ''^ A
distinction must, then, be made between the unfathoma-
ble essence of God and what a frail mortal can know
of him, between God in himself and his appearance in
the world.

I. The Glory ^ the Name^ the Face^ the Malakh of G-od.

1. The Glory of God. — What man may know of
God is his glory. The glory of God is precisely the
side of divinity that is accessible to man, that is re-
vealed to him. It may justly be said that the holiness
of God is his glory hidden, and the glory of God his
holiness revealed.^ It might also be said that the holi-

1 Num. xii. 6-8 ; Ex. xxxiv. 28-35 ; xxxiii. 11 ; xxiv. 2, 12-18 ; xix.
20 ff.

2 Ex. xxxiii. 20-33.

3 Ex. xxxiii. 20 ; xx. 19 ; xix. 21-24 ; iii. 6 ; Jud. vi. 22 f . ; xiii. 22 ;
1 Sam. vi. 19 f. ; 2 Sam. vi. 6 ff.

4 Isa. vi. 5 ; Deut. iv. 33 ; v. 23 ff. ; xviii. 16 ; Lev. xvi. 2, 13 ; comp.
Ex. xxviii. 35 ; xxx. 21 ; Num. iv. 19 f .

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