The stars and the heavenly signs (Gen chap. 1, vers. 14-19)

“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.”

“The stars are considered as creatures and as dependent on God’s ordering creative will. The expression “lights” or “lamps” is meant to be prosaic and degrading. These created objects are expressly not named “sun” and “moon” so that every tempting association may be evaded …

Their “ruling” is in reality the most sensible service to which as created objects they are commissioned by their creator’s will. In the passage about creation of plants the marked lack of purpose was striking; there was no trace of any ancillary relationship or alliance between this entire domain and the world of man or beast.

Here, however, the relationship is unmistakably clear, in spite of the fact that beasts and men have not yet been created. This is connected with the diligence with which every form of independent godlike astral power here is disputed. To comprehend the significance of these statements, one must remember that they were formulated in a cultural and religious athmosphere that was saturated qith all kinds of astrological false belief.

All Ancient (not Old Testament!) thinking with regard to time was determined by the cyclical course of the stars. Man’s world, down to each individual destiny, was determined by the working of the powers of the stars.

The restraining power necessary to deny them divine veneration is shown on the hand by the solemn warning of Deuteronomy (4:19; cf. Jer 10:2; Job 31,26 f.) and on the other by the severe incursion of the cult of the stars at the later period of the monarchy … (II Kings 23:11 f.) …

“Signs” in Gen 1:14 are perhaps the sights on the heavenly vault which were not normal, as eclipses of the sun; in any case they were fixed astral points for regulating cult and work” (Gehrard Von Rad, Genesis. A Commentary, 1972, pp. 55-56)

Simone Venturini


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