The Fourth Day – The Creation of the Luminaries By Prof. Dr. Eli E. Lasch
“And God said: let there be luminaries in the firmament of the heaven ( Rakia ha’shamajim, the basis of realization, see above) to separate THE day from THE night (or to differentiate between them ) and they shall (in the Hebrew original) become otot and moadim, yamim and shanim (Let them designate signs and seasons, days and years). In order to illuminate /shine upon the Earth. And it was so.” And God made two luminaries; the greater one to govern the day and the lesser one to govern the night; he made the stars also. And God set them in the Rakia ha’shamajim to give light upon the earth. And to rule over the day and over the night and to divide the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. And it was evening, and it was morning – the fourth day.” According to the classical tradition, the sun and the moon were created in order to illuminate the Earth. At the same time, they were seen as signs (Otot) for the holidays (Moadim) as well as for the years (Shanim) and days (Yamim). In this tradition the author of the Torah tries to make it clear and to convince us that the sun and the moon aren’t Gods, they are nothing but luminaries which were created by the God who brought Israel out of Egypt. That shows that YHVH is superior to the Egyptian sun god Ra who, according to this view, doesn’t exist. Wasn’t He -YHVH- victorious over Egypt and its (non-existent) Gods?
When we now go back to the record of creation, we see that this happened on the fourth day, in other words: after the plants had come into being on the third day. It is only in the biblical system that the sun doesn’t appear before, but after the appearance of the plants. This is specific for the biblical system and appears only there. In all the other systems, whether scientific or mystical, the opposite is considered as true. It seems that the Torah wants to emphasize that the sun is not in the center of or maybe even the origin of our “solar” system. As I understood meanwhile, the information which exists in the Bible is reliable. I wondered whether it wasn’t possible that the principle of life which realized itself in the form of vegetation had created the sun so that the plants had something to orientate themselves. This is exactly what every plant does. Even plants which had been replanted in caves where there exists only a diffuse light, orient their growth towards the position of the sun. It’s not a phototropism, but a “sun”tropism following the position of the sun.
At the beginning of the book, I mentioned the notion of timeline. This implies that creation follows a program, not only in space, but also in time – a development from chaos to order. Let us re-examine at this place again the words describing the creation of light on the first day: And God said: Let there be light. After the appearance of the light, he separated between the light and the darkness. How does the fourth day start? And God said: “Let there be luminaries in the basis of realization …” And the Torah uses exactly the same verb, jehi, which it used during the creation of light, and again it uses the singular mode. And where does it happen? Exactly in the place where everyone can see it: in the sky. The purpose of the sun is not what people usually believe: to provide energy and heat or to illuminate the Earth. The real purpose is to differentiate between the day and the night and to provide all the information needed for living beings. As we have already seen in the chapter dealing with the creation of light, the light that comes from the Sun probably contains all the information necessary for the creation and its upkeep – the blueprint of creation. Here the Torah uses exactly the same words, as she used for the description of the first day – with the sole difference that there the Torah speaks about the differentiation between light and darkness. A new cycle has now started, and, exactly as in the first one, the first to be created was given the task of differentiation.
But in this case, the Torah speaks about luminaries. According to the Torah, the luminaries were created in order to differentiate between day and night. But let us remember that this differentiation is exactly what had happened already on the first day”, and God called the light day and the darkness He called night.” But the moon can be seen also in the daytime. The Torah however doesn’t speak here about day and night as such, but about THE day (ha’yom) and THE night (ha’laila) and in order to emphasize the difference, it uses the prefix ? – h, pronounced ha. Here we aren’t simply talking about day and night, but about the divine attribute of the conscious differentiation between the two. Not about light and darkness any more, but about the day and the night as symbols for good and evil. And the Torah continues: “… and they shall become otot and moadim, yamim and shanim.” Otot is usually considered as the plural of ot, in Hebrew sign. But the meaning of the word ot is not the only sign. It also designates a letter of the alphabet, a consonant, thus a building block of our universe. At the same time the word ot, written out, is a combination of the first and the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet, the aleph and the tav. This word thus contains everything, the beginning and the end, the completion of everything. This insight enables us to see the first sentence of Genesis from a different angle.
“In the beginning, God created “et hashamaim” a sign,(aleph tav, read as et or ot) the sky, and then “et ha’aretz” another sign, the Earth.” The first buds and beginnings of realization. If the luminaries are supposed to be signs, the question is: signs of what? And the Torah continues: of the moadim. The word doesn’t mean holidays, but periods and segments of time. The plants needed something by which they could orient themselves, not only in space, but also in time. This is regulated by the Sun and the Moon, and we call it the natural rhythm, day and night summer and winter, the circle of nature that always recurs. They are not always exactly regular, but always similar. Every sunset is followed by a sunrise, every year has the same rhythm, spring, summer, autumn and winter, and even eclipses of the sun and the moon can be calculated centuries in advance. On this level, our world really seems to behave like a well regulated clockwork. Plants, insects and all the other animals also have internal biological clocks similar to ours, also dependent on the light of the sun and on its’ “cycle” and we are usually talking about a cycle of 24 hours.
Women have another cycle, the one of fertility and menstruation with a duration of 28 days, similar to that of the moon. In other words: The sun and the moon were created in order to take over a task, the task of governing the rhythms of the Earth. That’s why the Torah speaks about “governing” – a government exists after all to keep order. As already mentioned above, the evolvement and upkeep of life, the antipole to chaos and entropy, is only possible, as long as there is order. This can be kept only, if one can differentiate, if there exists something to orient oneself. In order to create a reliable rhythm, something is needed which always exists, always recurs. According to the Torah, the primary task of the sun is thus not to furnish energy, but to create and keep up order.
Let us now go back to the primary question of this chapter: Why were the plants created before the Sun? This leads us to the central philosophy of the Torah. As I already showed several times, the Torah is not a compilation of ancient myths and/or laws, but a textbook, THE textbook of wisdom, of survival in dignity, using parables and allegories (so-called midrashim) in order to clarify its teaching to the people of the ancient Orient – and to us. It’s not a coincidence that this book is known as the Torah which means “teaching”. According to these teachings, there exists neither coincidence nor senselessness, neither in the creation nor in human life. It’s our task to discover this meaning and act accordingly. If we complete our pensum we will, to speak with Hawking, understand the Creator. Or, as a child once told me, we’ll move up one grade or become teachers. If we follow this concept, there was no necessity for the Sun to exist before it was needed. For the textbook we call Torah, it is totally irrelevant, if the Sun existed before the plants or not. What the Torah wants to teach us is that the Sun came into existence only when it was needed, and that it was only needed after life took form – for the creation and for the upkeep of order. In case of total entropy, this function would become superfluous; the Sun would change into a nova and disappear. It would simply dissolve. As this conception claims that the principle of life is counter-acting the development of entropy, it is also the principle of life which had created the Sun and guarantees its further existence (could this be the explication for super-novas to come into existence?). Here again, the Torah and modern physics come together, but this time in a form in which the sense and the question of why play a central role.