Halley’s Bible Handbook

Excerpts from a survey of Genesis chapter 1

Halley’s exposition is in harmony with an undated original creation of the universe and mineral base earth, a relatively recent formation of this planet for life (a young biosphere), and the creation of all living things: “First Day: Light, [Genesis] 1:2-5. The heavens and the earth were created by God in the beginning — sometime in the dateless past. All was dark, empty, and formless until God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light…” – ed.

1. The “Creation Hymn,” Genesis 1:1 to 2:3

A poetic description, in measured, majestic movement, of the successive steps of creation, cast in the mold of the oft-recurring biblical number seven. In all literature, scientific or otherwise,there is no more sublime account of the origin of things…

How did the writer know what happened before man appeared? No doubt God revealed the remote past, as later the distant future was made known to the prophets.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be
fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. ” — Genesis 1:27-28…

If the Bible is God’s Word, as we believe it is, and if God knew from the beginning that He was going to use the Bible as a main instrument in the redemption of humanity, why should it be difficult to believe that God Himself gave the germ and nucleus of that Word?


“In the beginning” God created the universe. What follows, in the “seven days,” is a description of the forming of substance already created in preparation for the creation of Adam

Gen. 1:2-2: 3 THE SEVEN DAYS

Whether the seven days were days of 24 hours, or long, successive periods, we do not know. The word “day” has variable meanings. In 1:5 it is used as a term for light. In 1 :8 and 1:13 it seems to mean a day of 24 hours. In 1:14 and 1:16 it seems to refer to a 12-hour day. In 2:4 it seems to cover the whole period of creation. In passages such as
Joel 3:18, Acts 2:20, and John 16:23, “that day” seems to mean the whole Christian era. In passages such as 2 Timothy 1:12 the expression seems to refer to the era beyond the Lord’s Second Coming. And in Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.”

Note that the six days form three pairs (days 1 and 4; 2 and 5; 3 and 6). In the first of each pair the realm is created that is later populated by the objects or beings that are created in the second.

Day 1: Light and dark
Day 2 : Sea and sky
Day 3 : Fertile earth
Day 4: Lights of day and night
Day 5 : Creatures of water and air
Day 6 : Creatures of the land; land animals; humans’ provision of food


1 . Announcement “and God said”

2. Command “let there be,” “let [them] be
gathered,” etc.

3. Report “and it was so”

— a descriptive phrase telling what God did
— a word of naming or blessing

4. Evaluation “it was good”

5. Temporal statement “there was evening, and there was morning: the __day”

First Day: Light, 1:2-5

The heavens and the earth were created by God in the beginning — sometime in the dateless past. All was dark, empty, and formless until God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. We see that God’s creative power is manifested by simply speaking. His first creative word called forth light in the midst of darkness.

In John 1:1—2 we learn that the “Word” (Jesus) was in the beginning, and that the “Word” was with God and was God. John further tells us that “through him [the Word] all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made”(1:3).

God did not just make a physical universe: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very
good” (Genesis 1:31). Whatever God makes is very good indeed, because the Word through which He created all things is the very essence of goodness, beauty, and light: “In him [Jesus] was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness” (John 1:4), now as it did at the very beginning of creation.

Creation and Re-creation?

While most Bible students believe that Genesis is an account of creation, some believe that Genesis gives us an account of both creation and re-creation. In the case of the latter, v. 1 tells of the original creation, while v. 2, “Now the earth was [became] formless and empty,” tells of a time subsequent to the initial creation when God re-created the heavens and the earth after they had become formless and void, perhaps due to some catastrophic event. The Hebrew word for “was” used here in the original text is translated “became” where it appears elsewhere in the Bible. [This is commonly known as the Gap Theory.]

Second Day: The Expanse, 1:6-8

The expanse (firmament), called “sky,” is the atmosphere, or layer of air between the water-
covered earth and the clouds above, made possible by the cooling of the earth’s waters.

Third Day: Land and Vegetation, 1:9-13

Up to this point, the earth’s surface seems to have been entirely covered with water. God commanded the water to gather in one place that He called “seas.” We envision that the earth’s crust, as it became cooler and thicker, began to buckle, and islands and continents began to appear. There was as yet no rain, but dense mists watered the newly formed land, which was still warm by its own heat. A tropical climate was everywhere, and vegetation must have grown rapidly and in gigantic proportions.

Fourth Day: Sun, Moon, and Stars, 1:14-19

Sun, Moon, and Stars. They must have been created ‘in the beginning.’ On the ‘first day’ their light must have penetrated the earth’s mists (Gen.1:3), while they themselves were not visible. But now, due to the lessened density of the clouds, as a result of further cooling of the earth [and intervention of the Creator] they became visible on earth. Seasons came when the earth’s surface ceased to receive heat from within, and became dependent on the Sun as its only source of heat. [Bracketed phrase added]

In v.16 we learn that the “greater light” rules the day and the “lesser light” rules the night. These sources of light have three primary functions (vv. 17-18): they give light to the earth, they govern the day and night, and they separate light from darkness.These passages are beautiful examples of how God has manifested His image, His divine characteristics, in all of His creation. [This paragraph is part of a re-write of Fourth Day. The previous paragraph is found in editions 1-24.]

Fifth Day: Sea Animals and Birds, 1:20-25

By God’s blessing and with His command, “be fruitful and increase in number,” the sea creatures and birds filled the waters and increased on the earth.

The Universe God Created

Astronomers estimate that the Milky Way, the galaxy to which our earth and solar system
belong, contains over 30 billion suns. Many of these suns are immensely larger than our sun, which is a million and a half times larger than the earth. The Milky Way is shaped like a thin watch; its diameter from rim to rim is 200,000 light-years. (A light-year is the distance that light travels in a year at the rate of 186,00 miles per second.) There are at least 100,000 galaxies like the Milky Way, some of them millions of light-years apart. All this may be only a tiny speck in what is beyond in the seemingly infinite, endless reaches of space.

Note the progression: inanimate things on the first and second days, plant life on the third day, and animal life on the fifth day

Sixth Day: Land Animals and Man, 1: 24-3 1

The earth was at last ready for animals and, ultimately, man. God reveals that each living
creature on the land is created “according to their kind.” This refutes the notion that all species of animals evolved from a single, common, primeval organism. It supports the scientific evidence that living creatures have adapted over time to their environment, while there is no convincing evidence that one species of animal has evolved into another.

God created Adam and Eve in His own image. God’s divine blessing and benediction for male and female together was to flourish and multiply so as to fill the earth and exercise rulership (stewardship) over all creation. God’s universal reign is reflected in the rulership that He commissions humanity to carry out over all earthly creation. In a sense, God has created the earth as man’s training camp, where He is preparing us for our eternal destiny where we will rule and reign with Christ over all the universe (2 Timothy 2:12;
Revelation 3:21).

God saw everything that He had made, and it was “good” (1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). But soon the picture darkened. God must have known beforehand that it would, and He must have regarded his whole work of the creation of humanity as but a step toward the glorious world that will yet emerge from it, as is told in the closing chapters of the book of Revelation.

It is interesting to note that God declared all that he had made on the sixth day “very good” perhaps to stress the relative significance of this day in comparison to the prior days.

Seventh Day: God Rested, 2: 1-3

God did not rest in an absolute sense (John 5:17), but from this particular creative work. This was the basis of the Sabbath (Exodus 20:11). The “Sabbath rest” is also an image of heaven (Hebrews 4:4, 9).

Colored and bracketed content added – JBW

Courtesy of https://archive.org/stream/HalleysBibleHandbookHenryH.Halley/Halley%27s%20Bible%20Handbook-%20Henry%20H.%20Halley_djvu.txt