Genesis 1:9
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
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(9) Let the waters be gathered together.—The verb, as Gesenius shows, refers rather to the condensation of water, which, as we have seen, was impossible till the surface of the earth was made cool by the radiation of heat into the open expanse around it.

Unto one place.—The ocean bed. We must add the vast depth of the ocean to the height of the mountains before we can rightly estimate the intensity of the forces at work on the third day. Vast, too, as the surface of the ocean may appear compared with the dry land, it is evidently only just sufficient to supply the rain necessary for vegetation. Were it less, either the laws of evaporation must be altered, with painful and injurious effects, or much of the earth’s surface would be barren.

Let the dry land appear.—Simple as this might appear, it yet required special provision on the part of the Creator; for otherwise the various materials of the earth would have arranged themselves in concentric strata, according to their density, and upon them the water would have reposed evenly, and above it the air. But geologists tell us that these strata have been broken up and distorted from below by volcanic agencies, while the surface has been furrowed and worn by the denuding power of water. This was the third day’s work. By the cooling of the crust of the earth the vast mass of waters, which now covers two-thirds of its surface, and which hitherto had existed only as vapour, began to condense, and pour down upon the earth as rain. Meanwhile the earth parted with its internal heat but slowly, and thus, while its crust grew stiff, there was within a mass of molten fluid. As this would be acted upon by the gravity of the sun and moon, in just the same way as the ocean is now, this inner tidal wave would rupture the thin crust above, generally in lines trending from northeast to south-west. Hence mountain ranges and deep sea beds, modified by many changes since, but all having the same final object of providing dry land for man’s abode.

Genesis 1:9-10. God said, &c. — From the production, or separation from gross matter, of light and air, and the assigning them their proper places and uses in the creation, God proceeds, on the third day, to separate, put in order, and control the clement nearest to them in quality and use, fluid like them, comparatively simple, and pure, and although not elastic, yet of great power. Let the waters be gathered into one place — The abyss in the bowels of the earth, Genesis 7:11, and the hollows connected therewith. Thus, instead of the confusion which existed when the earth and the water were mixed in one great mass, there was now order; and by such a separation, both were rendered useful: the earth was prepared for the habitation and support of man, and various orders of land animals, and the waters for the still more numerous tribes of living creatures, formed to abide and seek their sustenance in the seas, lakes, and rivers.

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. - V. The Third Day

9. קוה qāvâh "turn, bind, gather, expect."

יבשׁה yabāshâh "the dry, the ground." יבשׁ yabēsh, "be dry." בושׁ bôsh, "be abashed."

11. דשׁא deshe', "green thing, grass."

עשׂב ‛ēśāb, "herb."

זרע zēra‛, "seed." זרע zāra‛, "sow," sero.

פרי perı̂y, "fruit." ברה pārâh, "bear"; φέρω pherō.

The work of creation on this day is evidently twofold, - the distribution of land and water, and the creation of plants. The former part of it is completed, named, reviewed, and approved before the latter is commenced. All that has been done before this, indeed, is preparatory to the introduction of the vegetable kingdom. This may be regarded as the first stage of the present creative process.

Genesis 1:9

Let the water be gathered to one place; let the ground appear. - This refers to the yet overflowing deep of waters Genesis 1:2 under "the expanse." They must be confined within certain limits. For this purpose the order is issued, that they be gathered into one place; that is, evidently, into a place apart from that designed for the land.

Ge 1:9-13. Third Day.

9. let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place—The world was to be rendered a terraqueous globe, and this was effected by a volcanic convulsion on its surface, the upheaving of some parts, the sinking of others, and the formation of vast hollows, into which the waters impetuously rushed, as is graphically described (Ps 104:6-9) [Hitchcock]. Thus a large part of the earth was left "dry land," and thus were formed oceans, seas, lakes, and rivers which, though each having its own bed, or channel, are all connected with the sea (Job 38:10; Ec 1:7).

The waters under the heaven; both the great abyss, or deep of water which is shut up in the bowels of the earth, Gen 7:11 Psa 24:2 Psa 33:7 Psa 136:6; as also the sea and rivers, all which are here said to be gathered together into one place, because of their communication and mixture one with another.

Let the dry land appear; for hitherto it was covered with water, Gen 1:2 2Pe 3:5.

And God said, let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place,.... Which are before called the waters under the firmament; and which were either on the surface of the earth, or in the bowels of it, or mixed with it, which by the compressure of the expanse or air were separated from it and these, by apertures and channels made, were caused to flow as by a straight line, as the word (e) used signifies, unto the decreed place that was broke up for them, the great hollow or channel which now contains the waters of the ocean: this was done by the word of the Lord, at his rebuke; and when it seems there was a clap thunder, and perhaps an earthquake, which made the vast cavity for the sea, as well as threw up the hills and mountains, and made the valleys; seeJob 38:10,

and let the dry land appear: clear of the waters, dried by the expanded air, hardened by the fiery light, and as yet without any herb or tree upon it:

and it was so; immediately done, the waters were drained off the earth, directed to their proper channels, and caused to run as by line to their appointed place; and the solid parts of the earth became dry, and appeared in sight.

(e) "congregentur tanquam ad amussim et regulam", Fagius; "recto et equabili cursu contendant et collineant", Junius.

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
9–13. The Third Day—Two Creative Acts. (1) The Separation of Sea and Earth (Genesis 1:9-10). (2) The Creation of the Vegetable World (Genesis 1:11-13)

9. Let the waters … appear] In this verse the dry land is rendered visible by the removal of the waters, that were under the Heaven, into their special place. The account reads as if the Earth had existed previously, but had been submerged in the water. It is not stated that God made the earth at this juncture; but only that He now caused it to become visible. The description of the formation of the earth, like other details of the old Hebrew cosmogony, has been omitted either for the sake of brevity, or in order to free the account from materials which were out of harmony with its general religious teaching.

unto one place] According to the Hebrew conception the Earth was supposed to have a flat surface, surrounded on all sides by the ocean; while the ocean was connected by subterranean channels with vast reservoirs of water that lay under the earth and fed the springs and rivers. Cf. Psalm 24:2, “for he hath founded it (the world) upon the seas, and established it upon the floods”; Psalm 139:9, “if I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea.” In the story of the Flood we read that “all the fountains of the great deep” (Genesis 7:11 P) were broken up.

Instead of “place,” the LXX reads “gathering,” συναγωγήν, the word which is reproduced in the familiar term “synagogue.” It has been suggested that this may very possibly represent the original reading; and that, at any rate, the less usual word מִקְוֶה, miqveh = “gathering,” was more likely to be altered in transcription into the common word מָקוֹם, maqom = “place,” than vice versa. On the other hand, the word מִקְוֶה, miqveh, occurs in the following verse (Genesis 1:10), “the gathering together of the waters” (τὰ συστέματα τῶν ὑδάτων), in a slightly different sense, and a copyist may have introduced the word here by accident and given rise to the LXX rendering.

the dry land] That is, the surface, or crust, as it would now be called, of the earth, consisting of soil, sand, and rock. Christian tradition, until the beginning of the 19th or the end of the 18th century, was satisfied that the Hebrew narrative, attributing the origin of the earth’s crust to the work of a single day, adequately met the requirements of terrestrial phenomena, and did justice to the conception of Divine omnipotence. The rise of the science of Geology, in the last century and a half, has totally transformed educated opinion. It is recognized that the Hebrew cosmogony is devoid of scientific value (see p. 4). Geologists are agreed that the cooling process, by which the surface of the glowing and molten body of our planet came to be sufficiently solidified to support the weight of vast seas, must have extended over long ages to be reckoned by millions and millions of years. The subsequent geological ages, Palaeozoic, Mesozoic, Cainozoic, and Quaternary, which account for the gradual formation of the rocks as we know them, have been demonstrated to have covered a similarly stupendous length of time. The thicknesses of the successive geological strata furnish the means of estimating the relative durations of the periods. The infinite tracts of time and space, which modern science has in an increasing degree revealed to be in relation to one supreme and all embracing harmony, testify to the omnipotence of the Divine Will and Wisdom even more impressively than did the brief and intermittent acts of Creative Power, which in the legends of the ancient world accounted for the origin of earth and sea and stars.

The LXX adds at the end of the verse, “And the water that was under the heaven was gathered together into their gatherings (συναγωγὰς αὐτῶν), and the dry land appeared,” which looks like a gloss. But αὐτῶν implies a Heb. original (i.e. the plural form הַמַּיִם, “the waters,” not the sing. τὸ ὕδωρ).

Verse 9. - Day three. The distribution of land and water and the production of vegetation on this day engaged the formative energy of the word of Elohim. And God said, Let the waters under heaven be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear. To explain the second part of this phenomenon as a consequence of the first, the disclosure of the solid ground by the retirement of the waters from its surface, and not rather vice versa, is to reverse the ordinary processes of nature. Modern analogy suggests that the breaking up of the hitherto universal ocean into seas, lakes, and rivers was effected by the upheaval of the land through the action of subterranean fires, or the subsidence of the earth's crust in consequence of the cooling and shrinking of the interior mass. Psalm 104:7 hints at electric agency in connection with the elevation of the mountains and the sinking of the ocean beds. "At thy rebuke they (the waters) fled: at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away (were scattered). The mountains rose, the valleys sank (ἀναβαίνουσιν ὄρη καὶ καταβαίνουσι πεδία ( LXX.; ascendunt montes, et descendunt campi - Jerome) to the place which thou hadst established for them" (Perowne). The gathering of the waters into one place implies no more than that they were, from this day forward, to be collected into one vast body, and restrained within bounds in a place by themselves, so as to admit of the exposure of the earth's soil. The "place founded for them" was, of course, the depths and hollows in the earth's crust, into which they were immediately withdrawn, not through direct supernatural agency, but by their own natural gravitation. The configuration of the dry land is not described; but there is reason to believe that the original distribution of land and water was the same, or nearly the same, as it is at present. Physical geographers have observed that the coast lines of the great continents and the mountain ranges generally run from north-east to south-west, and that these lines are in reality parts of great circles, tangent to the polar circle, and at right angles to a line drawn from the sun's center to the moon's, when these bodies are either in conjunction or in opposition. These circles, it has further been remarked, are "the lines on which the thin crust of a cooling globe would be most likely to be ruptured by its internal tidal wave." Hence, though considerably modified by the mighty revolutions through which at successive periods the earth has passed, "these, with certain subordinate lines of fracture, have determined the forms of continents from the beginning" (Dawson, 'O.W.,' p. 184; cf. 'Green's Geology,' p. 512). And it was so. Though the separation of the dry land from the waters and the distribution of both were effected by Divine agency, nothing in the Mosaic narrative obliges us to think that these works were instantaneously completed. "There is truly no difficulty in supposing that the formation of the hills kept on through the succeeding creative days" (Lange). "Generally the works of the single creative days consist only in laying foundations; the birth process that is introduced in each extends its efficacy be, yond it" (Delitzsch). "Not how long, but how many times, God created is the thing intended to be set forth" by the creative days (Hoffman). Scripture habitually represents the world in an aspect at once natural and supernatural, speaking of it as natura and creatura, φύσις and κτίσις (cf. Marten, sen's 'Dogmatics,' § 63); and although the latter is the view exhibited with greatest prominence, indeed exclusively, in the Mosaic cosmogony, vet the frowner is not thereby denied, Not immediateness, but certainty of execution, is implied in the "it was so" appended to the creative fiat. Genesis 1:9The Third Day. - The work of this day was twofold, yet closely connected. At first the waters beneath the heavens, i.e., those upon the surface of the earth, were gathered together, so that the dry (היּבּשׁה, the solid ground) appeared. In what way the gathering of the earthly waters in the sea and the appearance of the dry land were effected, whether by the sinking or deepening of places in the body of the globe, into which the water was drawn off, or by the elevation of the solid ground, the record does not inform us, since it never describes the process by which effects are produced. It is probable, however, that the separation was caused both by depression and elevation. With the dry land the mountains naturally arose as the headlands of the mainland. But of this we have no physical explanations, either in the account before us, or in the poetical description of the creation in Psalm 54:1-7. Even if we render Psalm 54:8, "the mountains arise, and they (the waters) descend into the valleys, to the place which Thou (Jehovah) hast founded for them," we have no proof, in this poetical account, of the elevation-theory of geology, since the psalmist is not speaking as a naturalist, but as a sacred poet describing the creation on the basis of Genesis 1. "The dry" God called Earth, and "the gathering of the waters," i.e., the place into which the waters were collected, He called Sea. ימּים, an intensive rather than a numerical plural, is the great ocean, which surrounds the mainland on all sides, so that the earth appears to be founded upon seas (Psalm 24:2). Earth and sea are the two constituents of the globe, by the separation of which its formation was completed. The "seas" include the rivers which flow into the ocean, and the lakes which are as it were "detached fragments" of the ocean, though they are not specially mentioned here. By the divine act of naming the two constituents of the globe, and the divine approval which follows, this work is stamped with permanency; and the second act of the third day, the clothing of the earth with vegetation, is immediately connected with it. At the command of God "the earth brought forth green (דּשׁא), seed yielding herb (עשׂב( breh ), and fruit-bearing fruit-trees (פּרי עץ)." These three classes embrace all the productions of the vegetable kingdom. דּשׁא, lit., the young, tender green, which shoots up after rain and covers the meadows and downs (2 Samuel 23:4; Job 38:27; Joel 2:22; Psalm 23:2), is a generic name for all grasses and cryptogamous plants. עשׂב, with the epithet זרע מזריע, yielding or forming seed, is used as a generic term for all herbaceous plants, corn, vegetables, and other plants by which seed-pods are formed. פרי עץ: not only fruit-trees, but all trees and shrubs, bearing fruit in which there is a seed according to its kind, i.e., fruit with kernels. הארץ על (upon the earth) is not to be joined to "fruit-tree," as though indicating the superior size of the trees which bear seed above the earth, in distinction from vegetables which propagate their species upon or in the ground; for even the latter bear their seed above the earth. It is appended to תּדשׁא, as a more minute explanation: the earth is to bring forth grass, herb, and trees, upon or above the ground, as an ornament or covering for it. למיגו (after its kind), from מין species, which is not only repeated in Genesis 1:12 in its old form למיגהוּ in the case of the fruit-tree, but is also appended to the herb. It indicates that the herbs and trees sprang out of the earth according to their kinds, and received, together with power to bear seed and fruit, the capacity to propagate and multiply their own kind. In the case of the grass there is no reference either to different kinds, or to the production of seed, inasmuch as in the young green grass neither the one nor the other is apparent to the eye. Moreover, we must not picture the work of creation as consisting of the production of the first tender germs which were gradually developed into herbs, shrubs, and trees; on the contrary, we must regard it as one element in the miracle of creation itself, that at the word of God not only tender grasses, but herbs, shrubs, and trees, sprang out of the earth, each ripe for the formation of blossom and the bearing of seed and fruit, without the necessity of waiting for years before the vegetation created was ready to blossom and bear fruit. Even if the earth was employed as a medium in the creation of the plants, since it was God who caused it to bring them forth, they were not the product of the powers of nature, generatio aequivoca in the ordinary sense of the word, but a work of divine omnipotence, by which the trees came into existence before their seed, and their fruit was produced in full development, without expanding gradually under the influence of sunshine and rain.
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