Page images




In the Mosaic account of the Creation, there is an orderly arrangement of the objects of Natural History, perfectly simple, yet sufficiently systematic; rising from inert matter to vegetation, animal life, up to intellectual being. It is thus disposed in triads.

[blocks in formation]

I. THE PRODUCTIONS OF THE EARTH, or vegetables, are arranged in three classes.

1. GRASS, YwT, DESHA, BOTAVY XONTOU; which clothes the surface of the ground with verdure. This includes the smaller herbs, which were generally thought by the ancients to be produced spontaneously, without seed. “A natura tribus modis oriuntur; sponte sua, semine fortuito, et radice.”

- " aliæ, nullis hominum cogentibus, ipsæ
Sponte sua veniunt, camposque et flumina late
Curva tenent.
Pars autem posito surgunt de semine."

2. HERBAGE. WY OSHEB, “herbs yielding seed." The larger plants, the seeds of which are conspicuous; plants rising higher than the grass : including esculent vegetables; all whose stalk is not ligneous, and probably of annual growth. i

3. TREES. MY OTJ. Large trees of every description and species, including shrubs. Perennials. “Fruit bearing, whose seed is in them,” that is, in the fruit: whether the fruit, or nut, be proper for the use of man or animals, or not. And these “according to their kinds;" so that every seed or nut should invariably produce a tree resembling the parent stock.

II. THE AQUATIC ANIMALS, that is to say, creatures originating from the water, residing in it, or occasionally frequenting it, are also arranged in three classes.

1. ANIMALCULÆ. PW SHERETZ. “ The moving crea. ture that hath life.” By these are meant all sorts of creatures which creep in the water, in opposition to such as creep on the earth, called ground reptiles, v. 251. It designates every animal capable of motion, which either has no feet, or those so short that it rather creeps than walks. I find it difficult to give a generic name to this class; it may include all the “ creeping things,” in the sea, which are very numerous, such as worms, polypi, lobsters, crabs, shrimps, &c.

2. AMPHIBIA and FISHES. « Great whales (or rather crocodiles), and every living thing that moveth in the waters.” The word 'IN TANINIM, in this place, cannot denote the whale kind only, following our translation, nor merely the crocodile, as it is most generally supposed to mean; but must be understood rather as a general than a particular term, comprising all the great aquatic animals : :

“maris immensi proles, et genus omne datantum.”

3. BIRDS. DI OUPH. “ Flying creatures.” The historian of the creation represents birds as having the same origin as fishes. Gen. i. 20. He says nothing of fowls on the sixth day, where he relates the production of terrestrial creatures, verses 24, 25; in the recapitulation of the works of the fifth day, verse 21, he says “ God created fishes, which the waters brought forth abundantly after their kind, and all winged fowls, according to their species ;” and he says that God blessed what he had created the fifth day, and said, “ to the fishes, multiply, and fill the waters of the seas; and to the fowl, multiply on the earth.”

IV. TERRESTRIAL ANIMALS, are also divided into three classes.

1. CATTLE. 1972 BEHEMAH. Bellua. By which all animals capable of being domesticated, of the larger kind, seem to be designated.

2. WILD BEASTS. 1717 CHIAH. Feræ. · Beasts of prey; such as roam in the forests; carnivorous animals, such as live on flesh, in contradistinction to domestic animals, which are graminivorous, feed on grass and other vegetables..

3. REPTILES. W2) REMES. ' Reptilia. All sorts of less animals which creep on the ground; vermin; all the different genera of worms, serpents, and such creatures as have no feet, or numerous small feet; comprehending not only all the serpentine class, but all the smaller sort of animals that seem to creep rather than to walk.

I « Reptilia animantia.” Vulg. “ Reptilia dicuntur quæcunque pedibus carent, aut quæ breves ad modum pedes habent, ita ut pedes illi non sunt apti ad gradiendum in terra. Sunt autem reptilia terrestria et aquatilia.” Dr. GEDDES says, he translates the Hebrew word“ reptiles,” because he could not find a better term.

V. INTELLECTUAL BEING. DTX ADAM. “Man.” The head and lord of the creation.

The classification of Moses, in Deut. iv. 16. is somewhat similar; only, being there engaged in prohibiting idolatry, he says nothing about plants and trees, which he was not much afraid would be worshiped, if other idolatry was unknown. It stands thus :


5. FISHES. This order is followed in Levit. xi. where, I. Beasts are distinguished into those with a solid hoof, and those with a cloven hoof or foot; ruminating animals, &c. II. Birds, into (1) those of the land ; (2,) those of the air, or “flying fowl;" and (3) those of the water which are not web-footed: the birds of prey being classed into (1,) those that feed on living game of all kinds ; (2) those that feed on dead prey; and (3) those that feed on fish. III. REPTILES; and IV. FISHEs, such as have scales, and such as have not.

The system of Solomon, 1 Kings, iv. 33, was of Trees down to the lesser vegetables; Beasts, BIRDS, REPTILES, and Fishes.



the Lord of Genesis, ir

every for


In the 19th and 20th verses of the second chapter of Genesis, it is recorded, that “ out of the ground, the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, and brought them unto Adam, to see what he would call them; and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field.”

Our common translation here seems to intimate, that the animals were now first made; that the birds as well as beasts were formed out of the ground; that they were all brought before Adam on the day in which he was created, to be named; and that he actually gave names to every living creature; while the 18th verse suggests that the reason of this presentation of the animals, was that he might select a partner; and the 20th verse that he did not find one meet for him.

Now, from the previous history, we learn that the animals had been created before, the beasts from the earth, and the FOwls from the water: and may hence infer that the design of the historian was merely now to state, that God having created the living creatures, Adam gave names to such as were brought before him; and that he perceived that the creatures were paired, whereas he had no mate.

Understanding the passage literally, however, some commentators have insisted that all the animals came to present themselves before Adam, both in acknowledgment of his supremacy, and to receive from him a name; and that this was all done at one time, or in the course of a natural day. But it is not necessary to multiply miracles; nor to suppose as PEYPERUS cavils [Systemat. theol. præadamit. hypoth. P.i. l. iii. c. 2. p. 154], that the elephants were to come from the remote parts of India and Africa, the bears from the polar regions, the sloth from South America, together with the various animals, the several kinds of birds, and the innumerable species of reptiles and insects, to say nothing of the tenants of the waters, to receive names from Adam which could be of no use to them, and very little to him, who might never see one of a thousand of them again, or, if he did, be able to recollect the name which he had given. It is enough to suppose, that the animals inhabiting the district in which he dwelt, received from him names; and not that the numerous tribes of living creatures were paraded before him, and that he made a nomenclature of the appellation he saw fit to give to each. Far less is it necessary to suppose that all the beasts and birds appeared before Adam at once, or even on one and the same day. Though the transaction is related in a few words, we ought not therefore to conclude that it took up only the space of a few hohirs. If we attend to the circumstances, we should rather infer that this was a work of considerable time. Indeed, the words of the historian do not require us to believe that Adam now gave names to all the living creatures, but are rather a remark, that the names which they had were given by him; not all at once, in the space of one day, for that would have been too much for him, but that he named them, some at one time, and some at another in the course of his life, · as they came within the sphere of his observation, or incidents happened to give occasion for his so doing.

There are not wanting instances in scripture, where as general expressions as this of 56 every living creature," admit of great limitation?. So Ezek. xxxi. 6. “All the fowls of heaven made their nests in its boughs, and under its branches did all the beasts of the field bring forth their young, and under its shadow dwelt all great nations.” Thus when it is said, that Noah took all the animals into the ark, it is to be understood that he took pairs or more, as directed, of those which had become domesticated, or particularly belonged to the region in which he dwelt; and the

[ocr errors]

destruction of all the other animals must mean of that country or places adjacent; for I adopt the hypothesis that the flood was as extensive only as human population 3. Nor is the expression in Gen. vi. 47, “ all flesh under heaven," contrary to this interpretation. Comp. Deut. ii. 25.

The difficulty on this subject will be greatly relieved by an attention to the original of the passage. Our English version says, “the Lord God brought them unto Adam, to see what he would call them :" but the word “them” has no authority from the Hebrew text; the pronoun is in the singular number, not plural; and the next sentence expresses this more fully, the words being, not as rendered in our version, " whatsoever Adam called every living creature,” [there is no word in the text for “every,"] but, whatsoever Adam called the living creature, that was the name of it.

“In this way,” as Dr. SHUCKFORD suggests [Account of the Creation, &c. p. 38), “God was pleased to instruct and exercise Adam in the use of speech, to show him how he might use sounds of his own to be the names of things; calling him to give a name to one creature, and then another; and hereby putting him upon seeing how words might be made for this purpose. Adam understood the instruction, and practised according to it:" and accordingly, in the progress of his life, as the creatures came under his observation, he used this ability, and gave names to them all.

After he had been called to this trial and exercise of his voice, we find him able to give name to the woman, and likewise to all other things as his occasions required.

Moreover, the giving names seems to imply examination, or at least time and opportunity to mark their respective characters, so as to give them distinctive appellations. Thus the original Hebrew names of many of the beasts and birds of that region are apparently formed by onomatopæia, or in imitation of their natural cries or notes : so the general names given to the tamer animals, sheep and kine, was nan BEME, in which sound the lowing of the one, and the bleating of the other, seem to be imitated; so the name of the common ass 777 ORUD, and of the wild ass 7 PRA, resembles their braying. The name of the raven, any ones, was doubtless taken from its hoarse croaking; of the sparrow, 194 TSIPPOR, from its chirping; of the partridge, $72 QUERA, from the note she uses in calling her young; and the murmur of the turtle-dove, is exactly expressed by its Hebrew name, 717 TUR, and evidently gave rise to it. Many other instances of the kind might be produced; but these are sufficient to show, at least the great probability, that some of the first

3 Those who feel any hesitation in admitting this, may have their objections removed by consulting STILLINGFLEET's Origines Sacræ, book iii. ch. iv. vol. ii. and SOLLIÝAN's View of Nature, vol. ii. p. 258.

« PreviousContinue »