Academic journal article Jewish Bible Quarterly

Did the Earth Rebel against God on the Third Day of Creation?

Academic journal article Jewish Bible Quarterly

Did the Earth Rebel against God on the Third Day of Creation?

Article excerpt

In the account of creation, the earth is commanded by God to bring forth vegetation, specifically fruit trees yielding fruit, and the verse concludes with it was so (Gen. 1:11). The next verse continues by saying that the earth did bring forth vegetation, but instead of fruit trees yielding fruit the verse says trees yielding fruit (Gen. 1:12). It seems that the trees were supposed to be fruit trees, meaning the entire tree down to its bark was to be fruit, but instead the trees only yielded fruit and did not become fruit trees.

This conclusion is based on the superfluous adjective fruit in Genesis 1:11, modifying the noun trees. This would lead one to conclude that the trees were intended to be actual "fruit trees", but the earth disobeyed God and produced only trees bearing fruit.

This is in fact what the Midrash teaches in Genesis Rabbah 5:9, quoted by Rashi in his commentary to Genesis 1:11. The earth was supposed to produce trees that all taste like fruit; however, the earth disobeyed God, and for that reason the earth was punished along with Adam in Genesis 3:17-18.

Why did God say it was so, which would imply that what He commanded came to pass in verse 11, and then conclude in verse 12 it was good, if the earth was in rebellion? Does God say rebellion is good? Maimonides (Guide for the Perplexed 3:13) writes that it was good means that it is in accordance with God's plan, meaning that all this was in some way part of God's grand design.

Maharal, in his Gur Aryeh commentary on Genesis 1:11, gives an interesting and complicated explanation of this rebellion. …

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