GENESIS 1:16 – EARTH WITHOUT A MOON?
When via internet you look for the name Velikovsky you will find, besides a list of published titles, also the Velikovsky Archive with (as yet) unpublished writings.
Long before Google came into existence I read, in the years sixty and seventy of the 20th century, a number of Velikovsky’s books, while I also subscribed to a Student Magazine called Pensée, which was almost completely dedicated to him.
In Volume 3, number 1, Winter 1973, I read an article by Velikovsky entitled “Earth without a Moon”. Only recently I discovered via Google that this article was part of a more extensive treatment of the subject which can be found in Velikovsky’s Archive.
In that article Velikovsky wrote that some Greek authors from antiquity, e.g. Aristotle, Democritus and Anaxagoras, passed on that some tribes dated their origin in times when there was not yet a moon to be seen in the sky. I remember that indeed I found such a reference in Aristotle’s writings.
However, what interested me in particular was Velikovsky’s opinion that also in the Bible indications about this are to be found. He referred for this to Job 25:5 and Psalm 72:5. Alas, Velikovsky added the following words: “Of course, it is of no use to counter this psalm with the myth of the first chapter of Genesis, a tale brought down from exotic and later sources”
Instigated by this additional remark I studied these Bible-references and sent the result of this in a letter to the editor of Pensée. This letter was (except for the last part of it) published in Volume 4, number 2, Spring 1974. Some time later I received a letter from the editor informing me that Dr. Velikovsky could not reply to my letter (for a reason which I do not remember with certainty but which probably had to do with the approaching “death” of the magazine).
My letter to the editor read, a bit shortened, as follows.
Although I fail to see how (also in view of the context), Job 25:5 can be translated “before (there was) a moon”, it is especially Psalm 72:5 which clearly cannot be referred to for support.
Velikovsky translates “before (the time of) the moon”. In Hebrew the word libnay is used, which literally means “in the face of”, “in front of”, and so primarily means “before” in a local sense.
It is indeed sometimes used in a temporal sense also, but this is not the common use. Now in Psalm 72:17 the same word is used in connection with the Sun and should, if Dr. Velikovsky’s translation of verse 5 is correct, be translated there the same way. This would mean that there has also been a historical period of time when the Earth was without a Sun. Psalm 72 therefore does not support Dr. Velikovksky’s thesis.
It is a pity, however, that Dr. Velikovsky dismisses the first chapter of Genesis as a myth, a tale brought down from exotic and later sources. Dr. Velikovsky, in doing this, follows the lead of Bible-critics of the uniformitarian-evolutionist school. It was students of this school who also dismissed Dr. Velikovsky’s discoveries as exotic and mythical. Yet Genesis 1 leaves room for Dr. Velikovsky’s thesis that the earth has been without a moon in historical times.
Although most commentaries explain Genesis 1:16 as referring to the creation of the Sun and the Moon, this is not necessarily so. Genesis 1:16 in the King James Version reads: “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”.
Most Bible-interpreters deem it obvious that the lesser light must be the moon; however, the words “the stars also” could very well be rendered this way: “namely the stars”.1 Then with the lesser light the stars are meant, and no moon is mentioned.
There is good reason to read it this way, because of verse 14. Here we read: “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.” It is remarkable that seasons and days and years are mentioned, but that months are omitted. And the month derives its meaning and its name from the moon.
In Genesis the moon is for the first time mentioned by Joseph. See Genesis 37:9. Mention of months is made for the first time in Genesis 7:11, in connection with the Flood of Noah.
All this does not prove of course that before that time there was no moon and, consequently, no months either. If, however, I am correct in saying that the Bible does not necessarily state in Genesis 1 that on the fourth day of Creation also the moon appeared as the earth’s moon, this gives room for some speculation.
The Flood began on the seventeenth day of the second month (Genesis 7:11). Could perhaps the capture of the moon by earth have been instrumental in causing the Flood? If so, the first appearance of the moon (or the first month) may have been the sign to Noah to build the ark. Perhaps on the tenth day of the second month the moon was so close to the earth that as a sign of the impending Flood Noah was urged to go into the ark (Genesis 7:1-10). Then, on the seventeenth day of the second month, the moon perhaps exerted its catastrophic influence to cause the Flood on earth.
If indeed capture of the moon by the earth caused the Flood (which of course is a matter of speculation based on sources apart from the Bible), it explains that since then time was also divided into months, while this was not done as yet before that time, in Genesis 1:14.
Whether indeed there has been a historical time in which the earth did not yet have a moon is in itself an interesting question; however, it is not that important for our understanding of the message of the Bible! Nevertheless, thanks to Velikovsky’s writing about it we are stimulated to exert ourselves in reading carefully and exactly what the Lord tells us in the Bible about His works of Creation – in this case the creation of the heavenly bodies. This is certain, that the moon is not clearly as such mentioned in Genesis 1.2
Moreover, this is not all! What also follows is this: we should not too fast get impressed when learned scholars call God’s revelation about His works of Creation a myth, and in doing so believers make to appear as lunatics. No, they are not lunatics, but those who are wise; they shall shine as the stars for ever and ever (Daniel 12:3).
1. Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti Libros, ed. Ludwig Koehler und Walter Baumgartner (Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1953), page 245 under 5: wau-erläuternd, wau-explaining: und zwar, that is.
2. Claus Westermann, in Biblischer Kommentar Altes Testament I/1 Genesis (Neukirchener Verlag), says on page 182 with verse 16: “daß diese Anfügung ʻund die Sterneʼ nachklappt und wenig organisch ist, hat man oft bemerkt; ein durchschlagender Grund dafür is m.W. noch nicht gefunden worden.”
And Peter Morant, in Die Anfänge der Menschheit (Verlag Räber & Cie, Luzern), says on page 54 about the description of the creation of the heavenly bodies in verse 16: “Merkwürdigerweise werden sie auch in der Beschreibung nicht mit den Namen ʻSonneʼ und ʻMondʼ genannt, sondern fast abschätzend als ʻLichterʼ oder ʻLampenʼ zusammengefaszt; der Reichtum der Sternenwelt, über den man doch damals manches wußte, wird nur mit dem einzigen Wort ʻSterneʼ knapp erwähnt”.