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Chap. x., with Commentary. Genealogy of Ancient
FROM THE CREATION OF THE WORLD TO THE AGE OF
ABRAHAM, THE HEBREW PATRIARCH.
dominion over the whole is given. At the conclusion of the work of creation, the Deity hallows the seventh day, and sets it apart as a day of rest.
Thus light and the lights of heaven, the upper and lower waters with the birds and fish, and the dry land with its inhabitants, correspond with a symmetry which is not the result of chance; and an ascending gradation is designedly observed, from an imperfect state of things up to organic beings and especially to man, whose dignity is rendered prominent by these philosophical views.
Above all, the origin of the day of rest is connected in a truly pious manner with the Deity, that man may be the more impressed with its sanctity and its purpose of high meaning. The later date of the cosmogony in Genesis depends upon the institution of the sabbath, and on its origin as an appointment subsequent to Moses; and that this appointment was also foreign, and probably from Mesopotamia, is clear from the nature of all the myths before Abraham which bear the name of Elohim; even if the monotheism, strictly adhered to by the narrator and only occasionally lost sight of, did not bespeak a more advanced period, in which for the first time, at the awakening of thought, the question was started respecting the origin of the creation of the world, and answered according to the existing degree of culture or the national views of the narrator. We must look for such problems of creation among all nations of antiquity, and we find them particularly in the literature of the philosophizing Hindoos, which is so rich in metaphysical speculations, gradually passing from the highest elevation which the human mind can reach, down to the wildest offshoots of an irregulated fancy2. Here too the variety of the views presented would afford a ready means of comparison,-were it not a sort of treason to compare an independent myth with similar imaginative works, with a view to prove either its defects or superiority, its originality or derivation.
I See Introduction, vol. i. p. 218.
2 See infra, note on verse 2. 1 Comment. in Physicas Auscult., Aristot. viii. 268. 2 "Οτι μυθικη τις εστίν παράδοσης και από μύθων Αιγυπτίων είλκυσμένη.
Simplicius, even in his early time', attempted to derive the Bible cosmogony from the Egyptiansa; but the scanty fragments of Egyptian views given by Diodorus Siculus cannot be supposed to confirm this opinion; and a later myth of creation in seven cycles by Hermes Trismegistus is rather derived from Jewish or Persian sources, which in the centuries immediately preceding the birth of Christ introduced a sort of ferment into philosophy. The GræcoPhænician remains in the work called Sanchoniathon approach much nearer, through metaphysical productions of time, love and desire, to the Greek and Hindoo systems of philosophy; and, in spite of the Hebrew words which belong to the Semitic stem, they manifest, through their rude religion of nature, only this one fact with certainty, that they were independent of the influence of Genesis. Still less can the cosmogony of Menu, with its discursive character, be taken into serious consideration; and the comparison of this with Genesis by Johannsen, although carried through with ingenuitys, necessarily loses itself in an hypothesis of emanation, by endeavouring to make the agreement more perfect.
But the most intimate relationship may be observed between the myth of Genesis and the Zend representation of creation, which was composed near the same locality and has a similar outline and succession of developments. The universe is created in six periods of time by Ormuzd, in the following order: the heaven and the terrestrial light between heaven and earth; the water, which fills the deep as the sea and ascends up on high as clouds; the earth, whose seed was first brought forth by Albordj; trees and plants; animals, and lastly man; whereupon the Creator rested, and connected the divine origin of the festivals with these periods of the creation'. We must remember, however, that Zoroaster had taken the old Magian system as the foundation of his reform, and had modified it to suit his purposes; that consequently his cosmogony is the old Chaldæan, which very probably spread from the times of the Assyrians into western Asia, as it appears in fact to have been handed down through the Phænicians to the Etruscans?; and we may also expect to find the same type in our seven days of creations. But the Bible narrative, apart from this common basis, far surpasses the description of the Zendavesta in simple dignity, and possesses a high intrinsic value in itself.
3 Kosmogonische Ansichten der Inder und Hebräer (Cosmogonic views of the Hindoos and Hebrews). Altona, 1833.
Let us not however strive, as many naturalists and geologists have done to wearisomeness, to verify minutely a simple and childlike myth, but rather let us seek to comprehend and understand the meaning of the whole. The idea of the structure of the universe is as obvious to the senses of our author as it was to the rest of Asia in general: the earth is the centre of the whole creation; the stars are hung as lights in the vault of heaven; they serve as signs (verse 14.), and the sun is the ruler of the heaven, “caeli
1 See the Zendavesta, i. 19, 24; i. 150; üi. 59, &c. 2 See Suidas, under Tyrrhenia. 3 See Link, Urwelt (Primitive World), i. 301.