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Genesis 1:20

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Let the waters bring forth abundantly - There is a meaning in these words which is seldom noticed. Innumerable millions of animalcula are found in water. Eminent naturalists have discovered not less than 30,000 in a single drop! How inconceivably small must each be, and yet each a perfect animal, furnished with the whole apparatus of bones, muscles, nerves, heart, arteries, veins, lungs, viscera in general, animal spirits, etc., etc. What a proof is this of the manifold wisdom of God! But the fecundity of fishes is another point intended in the text; no creature's are so prolific as these. A Tench lay 1,000 eggs, a Carp 20,000, and Leuwenhoek counted in a middling sized Cod 9,384,000! Thus, according to the purpose of God, the waters bring forth abundantly. And what a merciful provision is this for the necessities of man! Many hundreds of thousands of the earth's inhabitants live for a great part of the year on fish only. Fish afford, not only a wholesome, but a very nutritive diet; they are liable to few diseases, and generally come in vast quantities to our shores when in their greatest perfection. In this also we may see that the kind providence of God goes hand in hand with his creating energy. While he manifests his wisdom and his power, he is making a permanent provision for the sustenance of man through all his generations.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible
Verses 20-23

- VII. The Fifth Day

20. שׁרץ shārats “crawl, teem, swarm, abound.” An intransitive verb, admitting, however, an objective noun of its own or a like signification.

נפשׁ nephesh “breath, soul, self.” This noun is derived from a root signifying to breathe. Its concrete meaning is, therefore, “that which breathes,” and consequently has a body, without which there can be no breathing; hence, “a breathing body,” and even a body that once had breath Numbers 6:6. As breath is the accompaniment and sign of life, it comes to denote “life,” and hence, a living body, “an animal.” And as life properly signifies animal life, and is therefore essentially connected with feeling, appetite, thought, נפשׁ nephesh denotes also these qualities, and what possesses them. It is obvious that it denotes the vital principle not only in man but in the brute. It is therefore a more comprehensive word than our soul, as commonly understood.

21. תנין tannı̂yn “long creature,” a comprehensive genus, including vast fishes, serpents, dragons, crocodiles; “stretch.”

22. ברך bārak “break, kneel; bless.”

The solitude בהוּ bohû the last and greatest defect in the state of the earth, is now to be removed by the creation of the various animals that are to inhabit it and partake of its vegetable productions.

On the second day the Creator was occupied with the task of reducing the air and water to a habitable state. And now on the corresponding day of the second three he calls into existence the inhabitants of these two elements. Accordingly, the animal kingdom is divided into three parts in reference to the regions to be inhabited - fishes, birds, and land animals. The fishes and birds are created on this day. The fishes seem to be regarded as the lowest type of living creatures.

They are here subdivided only into the monsters of the deep and the smaller species that swarm in the waters.

Genesis 1:20

The crawler - שׁרץ sherets apparently includes all animals that have short legs or no legs, and are therefore unable to raise themselves above the soil. The aquatic and most amphibious animals come under this class. “The crawler of living breath,” having breath, motion, and sensation, the ordinary indications of animal life. “Abound with.” As in Genesis 1:11 we have, “Let the earth grow grass,” (דשׁא תדשׁע tadshē‛ deshe' so here we have, “Let the waters crawl with the crawler,” שׁרץ ישׁרצוּ yı̂shretsû sherets the verb and noun having the same root. The waters are here not the cause but the element of the fish, as the air of the fowl. Fowl, everything that has wings. “The face of the expanse.” The expanse is here proved to be aerial or spatial; not solid, as the fowl can fly on it.

Genesis 1:21

Created. - Here the author uses this word for the second time. In the selection of different words to express the divine operation, two considerations seem to have guided the author‘s pen - variety and propriety of diction. The diversity of words appears to indicate a diversity in the mode of exercising the divine power. On the first day Genesis 1:3 a new admission of light into a darkened region, by the partial rarefaction of the intervening medium, is expressed by the word “be.” This may denote what already existed, but not in that place. On the second day Genesis 1:6-7 a new disposition of the air and the water is described by the verbs “be” and “make.” These indicate a modification of what already existed. On the third day Genesis 1:9, Genesis 1:11 no verb is directly applied to the act of divine power. This agency is thus understood, while the natural changes following are expressly noticed. In the fourth Genesis 1:14, Genesis 1:16-17 the words “be,” “make,” and “give” occur, where the matter in hand is the manifestation of the heavenly bodies and their adaptation to the use of man. In these cases it is evident that the word “create” would have been only improperly or indirectly applicable to the action of the Eternal Being. Here it is employed with propriety; as the animal world is something new and distinct summoned into existence. It is manifest from this review that variety of expression has resulted from attention to propriety.

Great fishes. - Monstrous crawlers that wriggle through the water or scud along the banks.

Every living, breathing thing that creeps. - The smaller animals of the water and its banks.

Bird of wing. - Here the wing is made characteristic of the class, which extends beyond what we call birds. The Maker inspects and approves His work.

Genesis 1:22

Blessed them. - We are brought into a new sphere of creation on this day, and we meet with a new act of the Almighty. To bless is to wish, and, in the case of God, to will some good to the object of the blessing. The blessing here pronounced upon the fish and the fowl is that of abundant increase.

Bear. - This refers to the propagation of the species.

Multiply. - This notifies the abundance of the offspring.

Fill the waters. - Let them be fully stocked.

In the seas. - The “sea” of Scripture includes the lake, and, by parity of reason, the rivers, which are the feeders of both. This blessing seems to indicate that, whereas in the case of some plants many individuals of the same species were simultaneously created, so as to produce a universal covering of verdure for the land and an abundant supply of aliment for the animals about to be created - in regard to these animals a single pair only, at all events of the larger kinds, was at first called into being, from which, by the potent blessing of the Creator, was propagated the multitude by which the waters and the air were peopled.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
God commanded the fish and fowl to be produced. This command he himself executed. Insects, which are more numerous than the birds and beasts, and as curious, seem to have been part of this day's work. The Creator's wisdom and power are to be admired as much in an ant as in an elephant. The power of God's providence preserves all things, and fruitfulness is the effect of his blessing.
Ellen G. White
Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 13

I am instructed that we are to carry the minds of our students higher than is now thought to be possible. Heart and mind are to be trained to preserve their purity by receiving daily supplies from the fountain of eternal truth. The education gained from a study of God's word will enlarge the narrow confines of human scholarship, and present before the mind a far deeper knowledge to be obtained through a vital connection with God. It will bring every student who is a doer of the word into a broader field of thought, and secure to him a wealth of learning that is imperishable. Without this knowledge it is certain that man will lose eternal life; possessing it, he will be fitted to become a companion of the saints in light. CT 13.1

The divine mind and hand have preserved through the ages the record of creation in its purity. It is the word of God alone that gives to us an authentic account of the creation of our world. This word is to be the chief study in our schools. In it we may learn what our redemption has cost Him who from the beginning was equal with the Father, and who sacrificed His life that a people might stand before Him redeemed from everything earthly, renewed in the image of God. CT 13.2

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Ellen G. White
Education, 128-9

Since the book of nature and the book of revelation bear the impress of the same master mind, they cannot but speak in harmony. By different methods, and in different languages, they witness to the same great truths. Science is ever discovering new wonders; but she brings from her research nothing that, rightly understood, conflicts with divine revelation. The book of nature and the written word shed light upon each other. They make us acquainted with God by teaching us something of the laws through which He works. Ed 128.1

Inferences erroneously drawn from facts observed in nature have, however, led to supposed conflict between science and revelation; and in the effort to restore harmony, interpretations of Scripture have been adopted that undermine and destroy the force of the word of God. Geology has been thought to contradict the literal interpretation of the Mosaic record of the creation. Millions of years, it is claimed, were required for the evolution of the earth from chaos; and in order to accommodate the Bible to this supposed revelation of science, the days of creation are assumed to have been vast, indefinite periods, covering thousands or even millions of years. Ed 128.2

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Ellen G. White
Education, 215

As a rule, the exercise most beneficial to the youth will be found in useful employment. The little child finds both diversion and development in play; and his sports should be such as to promote not only physical, but mental and spiritual growth. As he gains strength and intelligence, the best recreation will be found in some line of effort that is useful. That which trains the hand to helpfulness, and teaches the young to bear their share of life's burdens, is most effective in promoting the growth of mind and character. Ed 215.1

The youth need to be taught that life means earnest work, responsibility, care-taking. They need a training that will make them practical—men and women who can cope with emergencies. They should be taught that the discipline of systematic, well-regulated labor is essential, not only as a safeguard against the vicissitudes of life, but as an aid to all-around development. Ed 215.2

Notwithstanding all that has been said and written concerning the dignity of labor, the feeling prevails that it is degrading. Young men are anxious to become teachers, clerks, merchants, physicians, lawyers, or to occupy some other position that does not require physical toil. Young women shun housework and seek an education in other lines. These need to learn that no man or woman is degraded by honest toil. That which degrades is idleness and selfish dependence. Idleness fosters self-indulgence, and the result is a life empty and barren—a field inviting the growth of every evil. “The earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.” Hebrews 6:7, 8. Ed 215.3

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Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 84

Let us never lose sight of the fact that Jesus is a wellspring of joy. He does not delight in the misery of human beings, but loves to see them happy. Christians have many sources of happiness at their command, and they may tell with unerring accuracy what pleasures are lawful and right. They may enjoy such recreations as will not dissipate the mind or debase the soul, such as will not disappoint, and leave a sad after influence to destroy self-respect or bar the way to usefulness. If they can take Jesus with them, and maintain a prayerful spirit, they are perfectly safe. FE 84.1

The Psalmist says: “The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple.” As an educating power the Bible is without a rival. No scientific works are so well adapted to develop the mind as a contemplation of the great and vital truths and practical lessons of the Bible. No other book has ever been printed which is so well calculated to give mental power. Men of the greatest intellects, if not guided by the word of God in their research, become bewildered; they cannot comprehend the Creator or His works. But set the mind to grasp and measure eternal truth, summon it to effort by delving for the jewels of truth in the rich mine of the word of God, and it will never become dwarfed and enfeebled, as when left to dwell upon commonplace subjects. FE 84.2

The Bible is the most instructive and comprehensive history that has ever been given to the world. Its sacred pages contain the only authentic account of the creation. Here we behold the power that “stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth.” Here we have a truthful history of the human race, one that is unmarred by human prejudice or human pride. FE 84.3

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Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 44-51

“By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.” “For He spake, and it was;” “He commanded, and it stood fast.” Psalm 33:6, 9. He “laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed forever.” Psalm 104:5. PP 44.1

As the earth came forth from the hand of its Maker, it was exceedingly beautiful. Its surface was diversified with mountains, hills, and plains, interspersed with noble rivers and lovely lakes; but the hills and mountains were not abrupt and rugged, abounding in terrific steeps and frightful chasms, as they now do; the sharp, ragged edges of earth's rocky framework were buried beneath the fruitful soil, which everywhere produced a luxuriant growth of verdure. There were no loathsome swamps or barren deserts. Graceful shrubs and delicate flowers greeted the eye at every turn. The heights were crowned with trees more majestic than any that now exist. The air, untainted by foul miasma, was clear and healthful. The entire landscape outvied in beauty the decorated grounds of the proudest palace. The angelic host viewed the scene with delight, and rejoiced at the wonderful works of God. PP 44.2

After the earth with its teeming animal and vegetable life had been called into existence, man, the crowning work of the Creator, and the one for whom the beautiful earth had been fitted up, was brought upon the stage of action. To him was given dominion over all that his eye could behold; for “God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over ...all the earth.... So God created man in His own image; ...male and female created He them.” Here is clearly set forth the origin of the human race; and the divine record is so plainly stated that there is no occasion for erroneous conclusions. God created man in His own image. Here is no mystery. There is no ground for the supposition that man was evolved by slow degrees of development from the lower forms of animal or vegetable life. Such teaching lowers the great work of the Creator to the level of man's narrow, earthly conceptions. Men are so intent upon excluding God from the sovereignty of the universe that they degrade man and defraud him of the dignity of his origin. He who set the starry worlds on high and tinted with delicate skill the flowers of the field, who filled the earth and the heavens with the wonders of His power, when He came to crown His glorious work, to place one in the midst to stand as ruler of the fair earth, did not fail to create a being worthy of the hand that gave him life. The genealogy of our race, as given by inspiration, traces back its origin, not to a line of developing germs, mollusks, and quadrupeds, but to the great Creator. Though formed from the dust, Adam was “the son of God.” PP 44.3

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