Genesis 1:11 MEANING

Genesis 1:11
(11) Let the earth bring forth grass.--This is the second creative act. The first was the calling of matter into existence, which, by the operation of mechanical and chemical laws, imposed upon it by the Creator, was arranged and digested into a cosmos, that is, an orderly and harmonious whole. These laws are now and ever in perpetual activity, but no secondary or derived agency can either add one atom to the world-mass or diminish aught from it. The second creative act was the introduction of life, first vegetable, and then animal; and for this nothing less than an Almighty power would suffice. Three stages of it are enumerated. The first is deshe, not "grass," but a mere greenness, without visible seed or stalk, such as to this day may be seen upon the surface of rocks, and which, when examined by the microscope, is found to consist of a growth of plants of a minute and mean type. But all endogenous plants belong to this class, and are but the development of this primary greenness. Far higher in the scale are the seed-bearing plants which follow, among which the most important are the cerealia; while in the third class, vegetation reaches its highest development in the tree with woody stem, and the seed enclosed in an edible covering. Geologists inform us that cryptogamous plants, which were the higher forms of the first class, prevailed almost exclusively till the end of the carbonaceous period; but even independently of this evidence we could scarcely suppose that fruit-trees came into existence before the sun shone upon the earth; while the cerealia are found only in surface deposits in connection with vestiges of man. Vegetation, therefore, did not reach its perfection until the sixth day, when animals were created which needed these seeds and fruits for their food. But so far from there being anything in the creative record to require us to believe that the development of vegetation was not gradual, it is absolutely described as being so; and with that first streak of green God gave also the law of vegetation, and under His fostering hand all in due time came to pass which that first bestowal of vegetable life contained. It is the constant rule of Holy Scripture to include in a narrative the ultimate as well as the immediate results of an act; and moreover, in the record of these creative days we are told what on each day was new, while the continuance of all that preceded is understood. The dry land called into existence on the third day was not dry enough to be the abode of terrestrial animals till the sixth day, and not till then would it bear such vegetation as requires a dry soil; and the evidence of geology shows that the atmosphere, created on the second day. was not sufficiently free from carbonic acid and other vapours to be fit for animals to breathe, until long ages of rank vegetation had changed these gases into coal. When, then, on the third day, "God said, Let the earth bring forth grass . . . herb yielding seed . . . tree." He gave the perfect command, but the complete fulfilment of that command would be gradual, as the state of the earth and the necessities of the living creatures brought forth upon it required. For in God's work there is always a fitness, and nothing with Him is hurried or premature.

Verse 11. - And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. Three terms are employed to describe the vegetation here summoned into existence. Kalisch regards the first as a generic term, including the second and the third; but they are better understood as distinct classes: -

(1) grass, deshe, first sprouts of the earth, tender herb, in which the seed is not noticed, as not being obvious to the eye; "tenera herha sine semine saltem conspicuo" (Rosenmüller); probably the various kinds of grasses that supply food for the lower animals (cf. Psalm 23:2);

(2) "the herb (eseb) yielding seed," the more mature herbage, in which the seed is the most striking characteristic; the larger description of plants and vegetables (cf. Genesis 9:3); and

(3) "the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon (or above) the earth." The first clause describes its specific nature - "fruit-bearing;" the second, its peculiar characteristic - enclosing the seed in its fruit; the third, its external appearance - rising above the ground. "This division is simple and natural. It proceeds upon two concurrent marks, the structure and the seed. In the first the green blade is prominent; in the second, the stalk; in the third, the woody texture. In the first the seed is not conspicuous; in the second it is conspicuous; in the third it is enclosed in a fruit which is conspicuous" (Murphy). The phrase "after his kind, appended to the second and third, seems to indicate that the different species of plants were already fixed. The modern dogma of the origin of species by development would thus be declared to be un-biblical, as it has not yet been proved to be scientific. The utmost that can be claimed as established is that "species," qua species, have the power of variation along the line of certain characteristics belonging to themselves, but not that any absolutely new species has ever been developed with power indefinitely to multiply its kind.

1:6-13 The earth was emptiness, but by a word spoken, it became full of God's riches, and his they are still. Though the use of them is allowed to man, they are from God, and to his service and honour they must be used. The earth, at his command, brings forth grass, herbs, and fruits. God must have the glory of all the benefit we receive from the produce of the earth. If we have, through grace, an interest in Him who is the Fountain, we may rejoice in him when the streams of temporal mercies are dried up.And God said, let the earth bring forth grass,.... Which had been impregnated by the Spirit of God that moved upon it when a fluid; and though now become dry land, it retained sufficient moisture in it, and was juicy and fit to produce vegetables; and especially as it had the advantage of the expanded air about it, and the warmth of the primordial light or fire; though all this would have been insufficient to produce plants and trees at full growth, with their seed in them, and fruit on them, without the interposition of almighty power: this seems to intend the germination or budding out of the tender grass, and the numerous spires of it which cover the earth, and by their verdure and greenness give it a delightful aspect, as well as afford food for the creatures:

the herb yielding seed; this is distinct from the former; that denotes herbage in general, which grows up of itself without being sown or manured, and is the food of beasts; this in particular, herbs and plants for the use of man, which yield a seed which either falling from it sows itself again, or is taken from it and sown on purpose to reproduce it, being useful or delightful:

and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind; as apples, pears, plums, apricots, nectars, peaches, oranges, lemons, &c,

whose seed is in itself upon the earth; each of which produce a seed according to the nature of them, which being sown produce the like, and so there is a continuance of them upon the earth:

and it was so; as God commanded it should, as appears from the following verse.

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