old testament

new testament

versions

about & help

search

my membership

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

And God said, let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven,.... In the upper part of it, commonly called the starry heaven: some writers, both Jewish and Christian, and even modern astronomers, understand this only of the appearance of them, and not of the formation of them; they suppose they were made on the first day, but did not appear or shine out so clearly and visibly as now on the fourth day: but it seems rather, that the body of fire and light produced on the first day was now distributed and formed into several luminous bodies of sun, moon, and stars, for these were
מארת, "from light"; lights produced from that light, or made out of it; or were instruments of communicating and letting down that light upon the earth {h}, which was collected and put together in them, especially in the sun: and the uses of them were

to divide the day from the night; which is the peculiar use of the sun, which by its appearance and continuance makes the day, and by withdrawing itself, or not appearing for a certain time, makes the night; as the light by its circular motion did for the first three days, or the diurnal motion of the earth on its axis, then and now:

and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years; for "signs" of good and bad weather; for the times of ploughing, sowing, reaping, c. and for the "seasons" of summer and winter, spring and autumn for "days" by a circular motion for the space of twenty four hours; and for "years" by annual motion for the space of three hundred sixty five days and odd hours. The Targum of Jonathan is,

"and let them be for signs and the times of the feasts, and to reckon with them the number of days, and, sanctify the beginnings of the months, and the beginnings of the years, and the intercalations of months and years, the revolutions of the sun, and the new moons, and cycles.''

And so Jarchi interprets "seasons" of the solemn festivals, that would hereafter be commanded the children of Israel; but those uses were not for a certain people, and for a certain time, but for all mankind, as long as the world should stand.

{h} אור "significat lucem illam primam per sese lucentem";
מאור "vero corpus per quod lux illa prima splendorem suum demittit". Nachmanides, apud Fagium in loc.