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An Interpretive Translation of Genesis 1

Here's a translation of Genesis 1 by the late Hebrew scholar John Sailhamer. I must clarify that he is not accommodating modern science to the text, but rather allowing the text to speak for itself (especially on how an ancient Israelite would parse the grammatical rules of the text). For us in the 21st century, it clearly doesn't contradict modern science, and instead perfectly aligns with our understanding of Earth's natural history over the last 4.5662 ± 0.0001 billion years:

1 Long ago God created the world. He created the sun, the moon, and the stars, as well as all the creatures which inhabit the earth. He created all of them out of nothing—not in a single instant of time, but over a vast period of time.

2 God’s world, however, was not complete. He had not yet created human beings and the land where He intended to put them was not yet suitable for them. It was covered by a deep ocean and the sun could not penetrate the dense fog which covered the waters. God’s Spirit, however, was already present over the waters covering the land.

3 One day God set out to prepare the land for human beings. First, while the darkness of night still hung over the vast surface of the waters, God spoke, calling on the sun to rise and break through the dense fog. At His command, the daylight broke through the darkness.

4 God saw that, now, the land was on its way to becoming a very good place for the man and woman to dwell.

5 God named the sunlight “day,” and the darkness He named “night.” When the sun broke through the darkness that morning, it showed that a special work of God had begun.

6 On the second day of that week, God again spoke. This time He commanded the fog to lift up from upon the waters to form clouds over the land.

7 In that way God filled the sky over the land with clouds.

8 He also named the area where the clouds floated overhead, the “skies.”

9 On the third day of that week, God spoke again, commanding the waters upon the land to gather into lakes, rivers, and streams so that there would be dry land for human beings and water for the beautiful garden He was preparing for them.

10 When they had obeyed His command, He named the dry areas the “land,” and the lakes, rivers, and streams where the waters now gathered He named the “seas.” God saw that the dry land was now good for human beings.

11 On that same day, God spoke a second time, commanding the land to sprout fruit trees.

12 The land obeyed and was immediately covered with trees bearing all sorts of fruit. This too God saw was good for human beings.

13 That was the end of the third day.

14 As He had done on each of the preceding days, God spoke on the fourth day to issue a decree that the heavenly bodies were to serve a particular purpose for those who were to dwell on the land. They were to remind God’s creatures of His power and grace, and they were to mark the arrival of the great feast days when His people were to worship Him in the land.

15 Such special purposes for the heavenly bodies were in addition to their natural function as sources of light upon the land.

16 So we see that God had a purpose in mind when long ago He created the sun and the moon, as well as the stars. They were to provide a time frame for those who dwell on the land.

17 God also put them in the sky to provide bright light in the daytime

18 and faint light in the night—this was good for human beings.

19 So ended the fourth day.

20 On the fifth day, God spoke again. He commanded the fish and water creatures to fill the lakes, rivers, and streams in the land and the birds to fill the skies over the land.

21 On that same day God created sea creatures and birds of all sizes to dwell in the land.

22 Moreover, God blessed them so that they might abundantly increase throughout the land and skies.

23 That was the end of the events of the fifth day.

24 Once more God spoke. This time on the beginning of the sixth day, He commanded the land to bring forth various kinds of animal life: small creatures, domesticated creatures, and wild animals.

25 So it was God who made those creatures for the land. These, He saw, would be good for man.

26 On that same day, God spoke again. He said, “Let us make human beings. Let us make them persons like ourselves. And let them rule over all the other creatures in the land, those in the skies, the seas, and the dry land.”

27 So God created human beings. He made them persons—male and female.

28 Then He spoke once again. This time He blessed the human beings with the promise of having children and families in the land He had just prepared for them.

29 Then, for the tenth and last time, God spoke again. “See all the fruit trees I have made in this land,” He said. “I put them there for your nourishment.

30 Also, the animals may eat the other vegetation which will grow in the land.”

31 Finally, God saw that all He had made in the land was very good for the man and the woman.

2:1 The world which God had made was now complete.

2 So, on the seventh day, God ceased working.

3 He blessed and sanctified the seventh day as the time to cease from one’s work and worship God.

4 That is the story of the creation of the world.

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