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"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 let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: [he made] the stars also.
And God set them in the firmament of the heaven 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 the evening and the morning were the fourth day."

Genesis 1:14-19

There is of course an ongoing debate between mainstream science and Bible Fundamentalists as to the age of the earth. The majority of the latter accept the date of creation as being in the vicinity of that proposed by Archbishop Ussher (1581-1656) as around 4,004 BC.

The above quotation from Genesis casts at least some doubt on that proposition as many Orthodox Jewish Kabbalists have long proclaimed. The question centers of course around the nature and length of a "day" before the "Fourth Day" of creation.

If there were no lights in the firmament to divide day from night before this time and God placed them there as a sign for seasons, days, and years, on day four, then why would one take for granted that the length of a "day" was the same before day four as after it?

One of the great Jewish writers of this century in his commentary on the Sefer Yetzirah (The Book of Creation) which is the oldest and most mysterious of all Kabbalistic texts, states:-

"Some early sources state that these Seven Universes are the seven thousand years that the world is supposed to exist. The first six parallel the six weekdays, while the seventh thousand years is the 'day when all will be Sabbath.'

Others relate the Seven Universes to the Kabbalistic doctrine of Sabbaticals. This states that there are seven distinct periods of creation, each lasting seven thousand years. According to some Kabbalists, the present creation is the second, while others state that it is the sixth or seventh. In any case there are seven cycles, each seven thousand years long. This means that the universe as we know it will last 49,000 years.

According to the master Kabbalists, Rabbi Isaac of Acco, (Yitzchak De-Min Acco 1250-1340) when counting the years of these cycles, one must not use an ordinary physical year, but rather a divine year. The Midrash says that each divine year is a thousand years basing this on the verse 'A thousand years in Your sight are as but yesterday' (Psalm 90:4). Since each year contains 365 1/4 days, a divine year would be 365,250 years long.

According to this, each cycle of seven thousand divine years would consist of 2,556,750,000 earthly years. This figure of two-and-a-half billion years is very close to the scientific estimate as to the length of time life has existed on earth.

If we assume that the seventh cycle began with the Biblical account of creation, then this would have occurred when the universe was 15,340,500,000 year old. This is very close to the scientific estimate that the expansion of the universe began some fifteen billion years ago."

pp. 185/6

Recently the Hubble telescope enabled scientists to make their most recent estimate for the age of the Universe from the time of the Big Bang. Astoundingly they confirm the calculations of an Old Rabbi who lived some 700 years ago. 15 Billion it is.

Montage of the most distant galaxies yet seen by the Hubble Space Telescope

The question is what sort of "creation" took place 6,000 years ago. We will investigate that subject later.

In the meantime let the debate begin on the above controversial aspect of the creation/evolution debate.

© Michael S. Sanders
Irvine, CA
March 14, 1998


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