Genesis 1:16

16 God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars.

Genesis 1:16 Meaning and Commentary

Genesis 1:16

And God made two great lights
This was his own work which he himself did, and not by another; and may be particularly observed to express the folly of idolaters in worshipping these luminaries which were the creations of God, and were placed by him in the heaven to serve some purposes on earth beneficial to men, but not to be worshipped. These two "great lights" are the sun and the moon; and they may well be called great, especially the former, for the diameter of the sun is reckoned to be about eight hundred thousand miles. According to Mr. Derham F9 its apparent diameter is computed at 822,145 English miles, its ambit at 2,582,873 miles, and its solid contents at 290,971,000,000,000,000: the lowest account makes the sun a hundred thousand times bigger than the earth; and according to Sir Isaac Newton it is 900,000 bigger. The moon's diameter is to that of the earth is about twenty seven per cent, or 2175 miles, its surface contains fourteen hundred thousand square miles F11: it is called great, not on account of its corporeal quantity, for it is the least of all the planets excepting Mercury, but because of its quality, as a light, it reflecting more light upon the earth than any besides the sun. The greater light to rule the day:
not to rule men, though the heathens have worshipped it under the names of Molech and Baal, which signify king and lord, as if it was their lord and king to whom they were to pay homage; but to rule the day, to preside over it, to make it, give light in it, and continue it to its proper length; and in which it rules alone, the moon, nor any of the other planets then appearing: this is called the "greater" light, in comparison of the moon, not only with respect to its body or substance, but on account of its light, which is far greater and stronger than that of the moon; and which indeed receives its light from it, the moon being, as is generally said, an opaque body: and the lesser light to rule the night;
to give light then, though in a fainter, dimmer way, by reflecting it from the sun; and it rules alone, the sun being absent from the earth, and is of great use to travellers and sailors; it is called the lesser light, in comparison of the sun. Astronomers are of opinion, as Calmet F12 observes, that it is about fifty two times smaller than the earth, and four thousand one hundred and fifty times smaller than the sun; but these proportions are otherwise determined by the generality of modern astronomers: however, they all agree that the moon is abundantly less than the sun; and that it is as a light, we all know. [He made] the stars also;
to rule by night, ( Psalms 136:9 ) not only the planets, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Venus, but the vast numbers of stars with which the heavens are bespangled, and which reflect some degree of light upon the earth; with the several constellations, some of which the Scriptures speak of, as Arcturus, Orion, Pleiades, and the chambers of the south, ( Job 9:9 ) ( Job 38:31-32 ) ( Amos 5:8 ) though some restrain this to the five planets only. Ed. Contrast the foolishness of modern cosmology with the writings of the early church father, Theophilus when he states F10:

``On the fourth day the luminaries came into existence. Since God has foreknowledge, he understood the nonsense of the foolish philosophers who were going to say that the things produced on earth came from the stars, so that they might set God aside. In order therefore that the truth might be demonstrated, plants and seeds came into existence before stars. For what comes into existence later cannot cause what is prior to it.''


F9 Astro-Theology, B. 1. c. 2. & B. 6. c. 2.
F10 Cited from Impact 251. ICR "Acts and Facts" (May 1994); Theophilus, "To Autolycus" 2. 4, Oxford Early Christian Texts, as cited in Louis Lavalle, "The Early Church Defended Creation Science" Impact 160. ICR "Acts and Facts" (October 1986): ii.
F11 Chambers's Dictionary in the word "Moon".
F12 Dictionary in the word "Moon".

Genesis 1:16 In-Context

14 And God said, "Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years,
15 and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth." And it was so.
16 God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars.
17 God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth,
18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.