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Genesis 1:10

And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
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Basil the Great

AD 379
Why does Scripture say above that the waters were gathered together unto one place, and that the dry earth appeared? Why does it add here the dry land appeared, and God gave it the name of earth? It is that dryness is the property which appears to characterize the nature of the subject, while the word earth is only its simple name. Just as reason is the distinctive faculty of man, and the word man serves to designate the being gifted with this faculty, so dryness is the special and peculiar quality of the earth. The element essentially dry receives therefore the name of earth, as the animal who has a neigh for a characteristic cry is called a horse. The other elements, like the earth, have received some peculiar property which distinguishes them from the rest, and makes them known for what they are. Thus water has cold for its distinguishing property; air, moisture; fire, heat. But this theory really applies only to the primitive elements of the world. The elements which contribute to ...

Basil the Great

AD 379
What trouble you have given me in my previous discourses by asking me why the earth was invisible, why all bodies are naturally endued with colour, and why all colour comes under the sense of sight. And, perhaps, my reason did not appear sufficient to you, when I said that the earth, without being naturally invisible, was so to us, because of the mass of water that entirely covered it. Hear then how Scripture explains itself. Let the waters be gathered together, and let the dry land appear. The veil is lifted and allows the earth, hitherto invisible, to be seen. Perhaps you will ask me new questions. And first, is it not a law of nature that water flows downwards? Why, then, does Scripture refer this to the fiat of the Creator? As long as water is spread over a level surface, it does not flow; it is immovable. But when it finds any slope, immediately the foremost portion falls, then the one that follows takes its place, and that one is itself replaced by a third. Thus incessantly they ...

Basil the Great

AD 379
3. Let the waters be gathered together. It was ordered that it should be the natural property of water to flow, and in obedience to this order, the waters are never weary in their course. In speaking thus, I have only in view the flowing property of waters. Some flow of their own accord like springs and rivers, others are collected and stationary. But I speak now of flowing waters. Let the waters be gathered together unto one place. Have you never thought, when standing near a spring which is sending forth water abundantly, Who makes this water spring from the bowels of the earth? Who forced it up? Where are the store-houses which send it forth? To what place is it hastening? How is it that it is never exhausted here, and never overflows there? All this comes from that first command; it was for the waters a signal for their course. In all the story of the waters remember this first order, let the waters be gathered together. To take their assigned places they were obliged to flow, a...

Basil the Great

AD 379
4. To say that the waters were gathered in one place indicates that previously they were scattered in many places. The mountains, intersected by deep ravines, accumulated water in their valleys, when from every direction the waters betook themselves to the one gathering place. What vast plains, in their extent resembling wide seas, what valleys, what cavities hollowed in many different ways, at that time full of water, must have been emptied by the command of God! But we must not therefore say, that if the water covered the face of the earth, all the basins which have since received the sea were originally full. Where can the gathering of the waters have come from if the basins were already full? These basins, we reply, were only prepared at the moment when the water had to unite in a single mass. At that time the sea which is beyond Gadeira and the vast ocean, so dreaded by navigators, which surrounds the isle of Britain and western Spain, did not exist. But, all of a sudden, God crea...

Basil the Great

AD 379
5. And God said: Let the waters be gathered together unto one place and let the dry land appear. He did not say let the earth appear, so as not to show itself again without form, mud-like, and in combination with the water, nor yet endued with proper form and virtue. At the same time, lest we should attribute the drying of the earth to the sun, the Creator shows it to us dried before the creation of the sun. Let us follow the thought Scripture gives us. Not only the water which was covering the earth flowed off from it, but all that which had filtered into its depths withdrew in obedience to the irresistible order of the sovereign Master. And it was so. This is quite enough to show that the Creator's voice had effect: however, in several editions, there is added And the water which was under the heavens gathered itself unto one place and the dry land was seen; words that other interpreters have not given, and which do not appear conformable to Hebrew usage. In fact, after the assertion...

Basil the Great

AD 379
Why does Scripture say above that the waters were gathered together unto one place, and that the dry earth appeared? Why does it add here the dry land appeared, and God gave it the name of earth? It is that dryness is the property which appears to characterize the nature of the subject, while the word earth is only its simple name. Just as reason is the distinctive faculty of man, and the word man serves to designate the being gifted with this faculty, so dryness is the special and peculiar quality of the earth. The element essentially dry receives therefore the name of earth, as the animal who has a neigh for a characteristic cry is called a horse. The other elements, like the earth, have received some peculiar property which distinguishes them from the rest, and makes them known for what they are. Thus water has cold for its distinguishing property; air, moisture; fire, heat. But this theory really applies only to the primitive elements of the world. The elements which contribute to ...

Basil the Great

AD 379
Scripture does not merely wish to say that a pleasing aspect of the sea presented itself to God. It is not with eyes that the Creator views the beauty of His works. He contemplates them in His ineffable wisdom. A fair sight is the sea all bright in a settled calm; fair too, when, ruffled by a light breeze of wind, its surface shows tints of purple and azure,— when, instead of lashing with violence the neighbouring shores, it seems to kiss them with peaceful caresses. However, it is not in this that Scripture makes God find the goodness and charm of the sea. Here it is the purpose of the work which makes the goodness. In the first place sea water is the source of all the moisture of the earth. It filters through imperceptible conduits, as is proved by the subterranean openings and caves whither its waves penetrate; it is received in oblique and sinuous canals; then, driven out by the wind, it rises to the surface of the earth, and breaks it, having become drinkable and free from its ...

Ephrem The Syrian

AD 373
After these two things had occurred, He commanded the earth to bring forth at dawn " grass and herbs [ Gen1:11 ] of every kind and all the various fruit-bearing trees. Although the grasses were only a moment old at their creation, they appeared as if they were months old. Likewise, the trees, although only a day old when they sprouted forth, were nevertheless like [ trees ] years old as they were fully grown and fruits were already budding on their branches. The grass that would be required as food for the animals who were to be created two days later was [ thus ] made ready. And the new corn that would be food for Adam and his descendants, who would be thrown out of Paradise four days later, was [ thus ] prepared. ...

Tertullian of Carthage

AD 220
And so, when it afterwards attains its perfection, it ceases to be accounted void, when God declares, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed after its kind, and according to its likeness, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit, whose seed is in itself, after its kind." [Against Hermagenes 29] ...
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Thomas Aquinas

AD 1274
And God called the dry land, Earth: According to Augustine (De Gen. Contr. Manich. i), primary matter is meant by the word earth, where first mentioned, but in the present passage it is to be taken for the element itself. Again it may be said with Basil (Hom. iv in Hexaem.), that the earth is mentioned in the first passage in respect of its nature, but here in respect of its principal property, namely, dryness. Wherefore it is written: "He called the dry land, Earth." It may also be said with Rabbi Moses, that the expression, "He called," denotes throughout an equivocal use of the name imposed. Thus we find it said at first that "He called the light Day": for the reason that later on a period of twenty-four hours is also called day, where it is said that "there was evening and morning, one day." In like manner it is said that "the firmament," that is, the air, "He called heaven": for that which was first created was also called "heaven." And here, again, it is said that "the dry land,"...

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. - 2 Peter 1:20

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