The setting in which the creation story was written will be followed by the creation story author’s perspective. The setting described herein is completely consistent with the biblical Exodus tradition. It provides insight into why one should expect that the creation story is meticulously accurate and devoid of politics and compromise. In addition, the simple perspective outlined proves completely consistent with the wording of the creation story.
Please note, although credited with having written the first five books of the Bible, Moses was often overburdened and had been encouraged to delegate all he could to others. He perhaps had people writing under his instruction- each with a slightly different writing style. This may explain what many theologians see as subtle evidence for multiple accounts in the Genesis stories. It is also possible that added stories concerning creation were Midrashim (added stories to fill in gaps) from Moses, or at least approved by Moses. In addition, except for the chronological creation story, other handed down personal accounts likely existed; such as personal accounts from Adam about Eve. For instance, Adam may have been the source of the story about the creation of Eve and their eventual expulsion from their paradise. If that was the case, even though they sound different or use different writing styles, they are equally accurate.
Moses was the key human figure during the biblically recorded Exodus. Many modern questions arise from the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt. The Hebrews had to accept many changes including new worship rituals and harsh laws.
During their exodus from Egypt, and during the writing of Genesis, why would God require the Hebrews to sacrifice animals almost continuously in their portable desert camps? What possible good is an animal sacrifice to God? Can’t God have all the animals he wants, dead or alive? Why did the Hebrew people suddenly have strict religious rituals? Why was burning the correct incense in their desert tabernacle so important? Why were the Hebrews required to wander in the desert for forty years? Was it God’s intention to re-enslave the Hebrews after freeing them from Egypt?
Moses wrote the creation story during the exodus (departure) of the enslaved Hebrew people from Egypt- while they wandered in the desert. As recorded in the book of Exodus, after Egypt had endured a series of God imposed plagues aimed at securing the Hebrews’ release, the Egyptian pharaoh relented and let the enslaved Hebrews go free. Moses was the leader of the exodus.
Once they were free, Moses had the incredible task of keeping the Hebrews together while acting as their judge, jury, and ultimately their leader in every way. He served as the liaison between God and the Hebrews and he dealt with the Hebrew‘s complaints continuously. This was not a pleasant desert resort vacation with air-conditioned motel rooms. The Hebrews, Moses included, were miserable day and night. They were often out of water before it was provided. Even their food was strictly limited. A few times and because of their transgressions, the Hebrews had to endure their own plagues; plagues such as poisonous snakes.
To appreciate the problems the Hebrews had brought upon themselves, one must read the Old Testament’s book of Exodus. Exodus is easy reading and it spells out clearly the plight and failures of the Hebrews. In addition, the book of Exodus offers many perspectives of God that are not found elsewhere in the Bible.
Nevertheless, the Hebrew’s exodus from Egypt was partial fulfillment of a promise made by God to the long deceased Abraham. God had promised Abraham that he would make his descendants into a great nation. Abraham’s promised descendants were ultimately made up of Jacob’s children’s families that had dwelt freely in Egypt for a time. Other descendants of Abraham were excluded from the Promised Land including Ishmael and his family, and then Isaac’s first born son Esau- the red hairy child and his family.
Several generations after Abraham, Jacob and his sons had sought relief from starvation in Egypt. Once there, they stayed. Then, after several generations in Egypt, the Egyptians enslaved Jacob’s descendants as successive pharaohs became fearful of the Hebrews’ growing population.
Moses, one of Abraham’s descendants several generations removed, was the reluctant leader of the exodus and he interacted with God regularly. The account of Moses begins at his birth. His life and his upbringing had rendered him especially suited for the task he would be given. The Egyptians had educated him. Yet, Moses had no desire to be a king or to be in charge of the Hebrews. He did not desire power nor did he wish to be in control of the exodus. Perhaps his lack of desire for power and control were his best qualities. Nevertheless, as per God’s request, Moses was to lead the people of the bloodline beginning with Abraham, then Isaac, then Jacob, and finally Jacob’s enslaved descendants, out of Egypt and into the promised-land. Jacob had been renamed Israel and so the Hebrew people are the children of Israel.
By the time of the exodus, the Egyptian civilization, and the Hebrews, knew how to make metal tools, gadgets, armaments, and work with gold to make jewelry, statues with gold overlay, etc… In addition, they knew how to cut, carve, and polish stones, and how to use cut stones to build large monuments and buildings. They were very crafty. Yet there was no semblance of modern science. The incredible success of the Egyptians surrounded the Hebrews. The Egyptian life was enviable to the Hebrews.
The Egyptians had a great many religions- each with its god or gods, and all of which were an influence on the Hebrews. The stars and constellations were worshipped by the Egyptians and were thought to provide divine information. In addition, they worshiped animals- the animals that provided their sustenance (cattle, sheep, etc…). Given the many (over 600 by some estimations) and varied gods and religions of the Egyptians, it would seem that some Egyptians had discovered a means of gaining power over people that, in some cases, may have even rivaled the power of the pharaohs. They found the power they desired in the formation of religions based on gods of their own design.
On the other hand, the Hebrews knew relatively little about their god- the god of the Bible. The Hebrews in general did not even know God’s name. Their beliefs existed primarily due to the handed down beliefs from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and his brothers, and then handed down through the several generations that had lived in Egypt’s eventual bondage. Although there were a few yearly festivals and occasional sacrifices, God had never mandated a rigorous worship ritual, nor had the Hebrews invented one. God mostly just interacted from time to time with those willing and worthy to hear from him. Why would God mandate a worship ritual?
While in captivity, the Hebrews had grown accustomed to the Egyptian worship rituals, their great statues of gods, and their fancy polished-stone centers of worship. Many had come to appreciate the worship of idols and animals. They felt that some, or all, of the Egyptian gods were legitimate, although perhaps inferior to their one traditional god. The Egyptian manner of worship had become mostly acceptable to the Hebrews; after all, the Egyptians were a very successful people; mustn’t their gods be real?
Perhaps the Hebrews believed that the fanciness of their own traditional god would be revealed in time. They, perhaps, expected that their own religion, once revealed, would be similar to the Egyptian religions and with similar rituals. They had learned to envy the awesome Egyptian culture and dreamed of being part of their own culture like it. They had also heard the creation stories of the Egyptian religions. Wouldn’t their true god, if really the true god, have something even fancier and better in store for them? Their exposure to the customs of the Egyptians would prove to be an overwhelming problem for the Hebrews.
As the exodus was first underway, much effort had been made by God to demonstrate his superiority over the major Egyptian gods. There had already been several profound demonstrations of power by God. All the plagues against the Egyptians and the ultimate destruction of the Egyptian army had been orchestrated to teach the Hebrews that God was (and is) the one true god. The plagues had directly targeted the authority of several of the more prevalent Egyptian gods. The plagues proved those gods false.
After the exodus had begun, part of the Hebrew’s journey from Egypt to the Promised Land required that they walk across the Sinai desert. As their journey was underway, Moses left the Hebrew group, climbed onto a mountain alone, and awaited word from God. He was not made aware of why he was summoned to the mountain, and then required to wait. By design, his wait on the mountain lasted long enough for the Hebrews to party like a people suddenly released from their prison sentences. In the absence of authority, they had taken the liberty to do all that was imaginable; they had followed their every lust. However, it would seem unjust to punish the Hebrews before they had committed the wrongful acts- hence the required waiting time for Moses.
Moses would ultimately receive the first installment of laws from God while on the mountain- the commandments. The negative attitudes, beliefs, and actions of the Hebrews were reflected in the new laws. Contrary to God’s demonstrations of superiority over the Egyptian gods, while Moses was away on the mountain, the Hebrews had made and worshiped idols; they were actively violating every law presented to Moses.
The Hebrews’ commandments, as received by Moses on the mountain, were rules that added to them the responsibilities of freedom and would guaranty their success as a free people. Under the commandments, people were subservient to God only, not to some king, dictator, government, or religion. Religious laws would be added later.
Although only a first installment of what would be many laws, the commandments were essential guidance prohibiting the Egyptian polytheistic and dictatorial culture. Their new laws were to re-align the Hebrews with their true god, and with freedom.
Slavery within Egypt had become the only known way of life for the Hebrews. Moses was the only Hebrew that had not grown up as a slave. A transformation, by necessity, had to occur to the Hebrew people while they wandered in the desert. They were unfit for freedom.
Once in the desert and free of Egypt, the Hebrews had repeatedly complained about their living conditions. They complained about their leader/prophet Moses, and they complained about God. The entire promise of freedom and of a promised land was a let down to the Hebrews. Their new lives were not what they had anticipated and their attitudes had not gone unnoticed. The Hebrew people were a disappointment to God. Had it not been for the pleas of Moses, all the Hebrews except for Moses and his family would have been destroyed by God in the desert.
The Hebrews’ problems were deep seeded. People who have lived their lives imprisoned or enslaved learn to be content with a life where they know exactly what to expect. They had become content with the rigid, life or death rules of their en slavers. As slaves, they knew they would have food to eat, and a place to sleep; all the essentials were available and they knew what to expect every day. They had reason and right to privately complain, and they took solace in that right. Personal failures for the captive Hebrews had become non-existent since success was not allowed. Slavery had become their obvious excuse for all misery and failure. People love having an excuse for their failures. Once free, all they felt they had was the uncertainty of their newfound freedom. Many would scatter to other lands. Others wanted to return to Egypt and offer themselves back as slaves.
A large number of Hebrews were killed for idol worship after Moses returned from the mountain with the commandments. For the rest, instead of walking straight through, they were required to wander in the desert for 40 years. They were forced to wander in the desert until all the adults were deceased- except for a very select few who would continue to lead the new generation into the Promised Land.
In addition to the commandments, over six hundred rules and laws were added as a burden to the Hebrews’ lives. Since they seemed to miss their past life of slavery, they were re-enslaved by religious laws; they were re-enslaved by religion. The administrative hierarchy of their new religion enforced the laws and their judgments were harsh.
The Hebrews’ lives while in the desert, and their form of worship with their ritual animal sacrifices, were all tailored to end their desire to be like the Egyptians while they were being taught that their true god could, and would, take care of their every need. They were forced to be completely reliant on God. The Hebrews’ new desert worship ritual was tailor made to teach them about the superiority of the one true god, and about the futility of the other beliefs they had been exposed to in Egypt. Their desert existence was designed to wean them, and their future generations, off the Egyptians’ false god culture.
While they wandered in the desert, the sacrifice of animals was intended to show the Hebrews the futility of Egyptian animal worship. The Hebrews sacrificed animals almost continuously in their desert camps. In fact, a rigid system of animal sacrifice for the atonement of sins was the primary purpose for the large herds of animals they kept with them in the desert. The ritual sacrifices were of the same type animals held in godly esteem by the Egyptians. They served as atonement for the Hebrews’ lesser legal transgressions. Death was the penalty for anything major.
While in the desert, they ate only that which God provided in the form of manna, and later quail. The herds of animals they kept were largely a burden to the Hebrews. Clearly, it was better to destroy animals than it was to worship them- the intended lesson perhaps.
In addition, the Hebrews often built alters to God in the desert, but contrary to the Egyptian’s polished stones, alters had to be made of rough stone. They stacked up rough stones into a sort of small pyramid shape. God had made those stones rough and contrary to Egyptian culture, the Hebrew people were not allowed to cut, polish, or otherwise modify them. The Hebrews could not impress God by working hard to cut and polish a piece of stone.
The Hebrew people were required to look different from the Egyptians as well. They were not allowed to shave as the elite of Egypt did. The most stylish of Egyptian culture was disallowed. Again, they were being weaned off the Egyptian culture that they admired.
Finally, the wandering Hebrew people were required to take one day off in seven- one of the commandments (the Sabbath). They were not allowed to do any work on this weekly day of rest. Even though that might have sounded good to a slave that had worked lifelong with seldom, if ever a day off, because they were being punished by the law, the desert-imposed law strictly limited their Sabbath activities. The Hebrews had to gather-up and save enough food (manna) the day before if they were to eat on the Sabbath. With that one minor exception, they could not store up any food.
The Egyptian’s extensive storage of food had been the Hebrews’ reason for dwelling amongst the Egyptians initially. The family and herds of Jacob had been near starvation. They sought relief from starvation in Egypt and were helped by Joseph, a son of Jacob and friend of the Egyptian pharaoh. Therefore, food storage was not allowed for the Hebrews while in the desert.
One might ask, why would God have allowed Jacob and his family to fall into this predicament? Unknown to Jacob, Jacob’s sons had jealously sold their brother Joseph into slavery. That same Joseph had eventually earned an elite position in Egypt.
The Hebrew people were required to wander in the desert under this intense do or die training regimen until all the adult generations that had known Egyptian culture had perished (40 years). Only then were the remaining descendants of the bloodline of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob allowed to cross over into the Promised Land. Never having been exposed to slavery or Egyptian culture, their remaining descendants could then appreciate freedom and God. They would know that God would take care of them if they acted appropriately. That was the plan at least. God had made his presence and superiority clearly known.
Who among the Hebrews would allow their thoughts to drift toward the old Egyptian beliefs? However, many still did. False god worship would always plague the ancient people of Israel and would later divide them against themselves. They would be overrun by their enemies and scattered repeatedly.
Only the prophesied coming of a Messiah would eliminate the desert-imposed punishments and the many burdens of religion the Hebrews had endured. The Messiah would end their captivity in sin- their captivity in religious law. The Messiah would restore the people to complete and enjoyable freedom (among other things). People could again live the good life much like Abraham had.
Now, consider that while the Hebrew people were wandering in the desert under very strict conditions, Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible beginning with the creation story. Moses wrote the creation story at a time when precise adherence to, not just the commandments, but the many new rules of ritualized worship, were rigidly required. Their rules of worship were extensive and non-negotiable. It was not a time of politics and compromise. A rule infraction as seemingly minor as burning the wrong incense in the tabernacle carried a penalty of death. The burden of their new religious rituals was overwhelming. Complete long-term compliance with the rules was impossible, and when an individual transgressed a minor rule, he had to sacrifice an Egyptian god as atonement- he had to sacrifice an animal at the tabernacle.
Ironically, or perhaps by design, the number of added rules the Hebrews were subjected to was about equal to the number of false gods worshiped in Egypt (613). Even their weekly “day off,” the Sabbath, had been turned into a burden that carried harsh penalties.
One day off in seven and the seven-day week was new to the Hebrews. At the time of the exodus, Egypt used a ten-day week (probably without a day off for the Hebrew slaves) although shorter weeks were known in other countries. In fact, the seven day week far predated the exodus and the creation story author‘s life, and was first used by the Babylonians and Sumerians as much as a thousand years prior- it was the best even division of the lunar cycle. However, the seven-day week’s use in the creation story set the stage for what is now the entire world’s seven-day week.
As will be seen, a ten-day week may have fit the creation story better than a seven day week since instead of six; there were eight separate creation scenes. To make the seven-day week official, God used a seven-day week in the conveyance of the creation story. God set an example by making the seventh day a day of rest. This will be seen as evident from the wording of the creation story. Not much more significance should be paid to the six creation days than that God chose that timing to impart details about his creation; God likely spent much less than a week, in total, on creation. The creation story author, Moses, recorded the timing of each of the creations (completions) as they were revealed to him. They were revealed to him in six days followed by a day off. The seven days were completely valid in Moses’ perspective. This is my opinion and it is not supported or discredited by anything that I have seen or read.
Clearly, Moses did not exist at the time of the actual creation, so what he was shown was a replay of past events. Although God rested on the seventh day, does anyone really believe that God, the creator of everything, needed a break on the seventh day of showing Moses the creation? The seven days were clearly at least somewhat symbolic and for the reasons described. In addition, it will be seen as evident that the method used by God to convey the creation story to Moses (that is over the course of a few days) was the only reasonable method to use; no other method makes much sense for an ancient or even a modern human’s understanding. The method used was essential- not just expedient.
While the creation story timing, as recorded by Moses, may have served a symbolic purpose, it was in fact the true timing as seen by Moses. He was perfectly honest and accurate in recording seven days. However, a universal view of the timing of all events is essential to the progression of science. Similarly, Galileo’s Sun centered view of the motion of celestial bodies (planets) was necessary to science and, as was previously explained, does not contradict the Bible. It took several hundred years, but now this different perspective on the motion of celestial bodies is accepted by all religions in general. One should wonder why it took so long!
5.2 The perspective.
How did Moses see the creation? It is clear that Moses, like watching a multi segment television documentary, was shown a narrated replay of the creation events in a vision or dream. Similar to a modern day presentation narrated by God, Moses was shown key creation events as they were at their time of completion. For six days, and on a daily basis, Moses was told by God in the form of a narrative just what specific changes he should expect to see and note. Then he was shown a brief vision or short replay, one or two each day, of the completed creations. He then recorded precisely what he had heard, and then in his own words, what he had witnessed. The views he was shown were not accelerated, but were real time daylong views. On the seventh day of his vision, he heard no narration and saw no change.
Each view shown to Moses was just what he would have seen had he been back in time and at Earth’s ground or sea level. Consistent with this perspective, the brief daylong periods Moses viewed are identifiable. As has been shown, those views are in order with respect to science.
Often perspective seems so obvious it is not mentioned. For instance, if one claims to have seen an airplane fly by, their perspective seems apparent. Ground level looking up is automatically assumed. Ground level is now, and always has been the common perspective for all people. If one were to witness creation and record what he had seen for all people, his only reasonable perspective is everyone’s common perspective- ground level. It is so reasonable and obvious that it need not be mentioned.
How else could Moses have witnessed a multi-billion year time span? Had he been shown the entire creation in an accelerated view (as with time lapsed photography with one frame per one hundred or even one thousand years), it would have been a useless blur. At best, Moses would have been able to discern first light and then land. Even views of those creations would have been terribly distorted. It would not have been a true account of creation since things did not likely happen in an accelerated fashion. Therefore, to be shown creation in less than about 4-1/2 billion years, there had to be gaps. There are large gaps. He was only shown the most significant parts of “creation” in short, daylong, real time views; and as they were at their time of completion.
One cannot devise a better, more accurate creation story!
Each vision, or view, seen by Moses, was a brief, ground level window into the distant past. The brief ground level views were separated by as much as several billion years. The views were/are correctly ordered. At the end of each day, Moses recorded what he had heard from God (or from one of God’s emissaries), and then what he had seen. Each day’s view was selected to show what still exists, even today. For life, Moses was not shown the beginning, but instead, the after extinction completion of each of life‘s categories.
What sense would there be in recording things that no longer exist? People would have considered dinosaurs mythological until a few hundred years ago.
Had Moses been taught science, at what level should he have been taught? There was no serious attempt on the part of Moses to explain anything he saw in terms of what would have been the science of the day. Even if taught a level of science known today, he would look ignorant at what will be known a thousand years from now. A few hundred years ago, our modern day level of science would have sounded fanciful and would not have been understood or believed by the scientists of the day. The story would have sounded mythological just as the ancient Egyptian creation stories do today. So what level of science should Moses have used?
The creation story, quite simply, was done the best way possible. Select parts of the creation were witnessed by Moses, and then recorded as witnessed. There are no technical explanations. There is no science. As written, the story is accurate for all time and at any level of science! One’s understanding can only improve as science is improved.
Moses was completely honest and accurate about what he saw. He saw exactly what the reader would have seen at not six, but actually eight different select periods in the geologic history of Earth. Moses witnessed the events for everyone, for all time, and could publicly attest to that fact. He was precisely accurate about the timing and expressed in writing what he saw with very little adornment. He was an excellent witness.
Creation was not instantaneous. The wording of the story is evidence that creation was a long-term process. For those who thought each day’s creations were instantaneous, atmospheric changes occurred over the course of four creation story days and could not have been instantaneous. This should help ease one’s tension as it becomes obvious from the creation story that life evolved, albeit under God’s control.
With the addition of a little modern science, understanding this simple perspective of Moses eliminates all apparent inaccuracies in the creation story. Not knowing this perspective (and the science) has led many to think the biblical creation story is just simple mythology and others to think that modern science is evil.
As it turns out, the only modern mythology surrounding the creation story stems from modern religion and from religious misinterpretations.
As outlined, this simple and obvious perspective of Moses agrees completely with the wording of the creation story. It shows why Moses specified seven days and in his own words. It explains why Moses quoted God’s comments each day followed by a brief description, in his own words, of what he was shown. In addition, it shows why Moses did not see that which could not be seen in a short view or snapshot view. This simple perspective is consistent throughout the chronological creation story.
Both time travel for Moses and the simple dictation of the story directly to Moses are easily ruled out as will be shown. There are no other obvious possibilities.
5.3 Why not time travel?
Had Moses been transported back in time to see creation, he would have faced a poisonous, crushing atmosphere, and deadly temperature extremes. He would likely have mentioned something about the extremes and the protection he had from them. Consistent with watching an event replayed on television, the only apparent senses available to Moses were sight and hearing. Note that while time distortion, or dilation, is a scientific reality, time travel is not- certainly not for a human.
A time travel scenario for Moses is baseless and ridiculous- at least within the realm of what is known. It is not reasonable to think that Moses engaged in time travel or somehow physically went back in time to view creation, but even if he had, the story would be the same. One really should look for the simplest means by which the creation could be witnessed by Moses. Visions and dreams were (and are) commonly used to impart information.
Could the entire story have been dictated to Moses?
5.4 How do we know the story wasn’t dictated to Moses?
Was the story simply handed to, or dictated to, Moses? A major theme of the exodus story is that the Egyptians had educated Moses, and he had the rare ability to write. His education was clearly one of the reasons for his choice as author of Genesis and leader of his people. In fact, his education may have been arranged for this purpose. He was not picked because of his speaking ability since he, at least in his own opinion, had a speech impediment. He was picked for his role because he had the education and ability to write the Torah himself. Nevertheless, if it were God who dictated the story to Moses, instead of the repeated passage in the creation story “and God said”, it would properly read “and I said” were “I” is of course God. Therefore, the wording of the creation story rules out the dictation of the story to Moses and leads us back to a series of narrated visions recorded by Moses.
A series of narrated visions makes perfect sense while no other conceivable method of the story’s conveyance makes much sense at all. Having witnessed the creation, the leader of the Hebrew people, Moses, could honestly testify as to the events of creation. His testimony was not second hand. He was a true witness even in a legal sense.
5.5 A summary point.
No matter whether time travel, the simple dictation of the story, a vision, or other means of transmittal, who could have both known a true creation story and been able to show, or tell, Moses the story billions of years after creation- God? If not God, then at least some infinitely higher intelligence; an intelligence that either knows upcoming and past cosmological, geological, and biological events and uses them to suit his purpose, or causes those events to suit his purpose, or both. This intelligent being also established rules to guarantee the success of individuals and the societies in which they live. We all have an ingrained sense of what these rules are, as did Abraham, even before Moses wrote them down. So what must this purpose be- success of individuals and societies? This speaks well of the integrity and intent of this much higher form of intelligence.
The deeper one looks, the clearer it becomes- God is in the details!
A word for word reprint of the biblical creation story with explanations supplemented by science follows. The biblical text used is the King James Version or translation.
I had, beginning at this point, originally covered science’s “creation story” first. Science’s coverage is, though, very detailed and loaded with unfamiliar terminology. It is difficult to absorb and retain short of long-term study. I know this to be true because I put this manuscript away after having worked years on it. When I picked it back up for a re-read and edit, I found myself struggling to follow what I myself had written. The experience has left ingrained in me an appreciation for the perfection and brilliance of the short and concise biblical creation story.
Science’s “creation story” has been relegated to the appendix.