Why did God name some things and not others?
Adam was given the task of naming everything else that God had not named.
Interestingly, Adam names those things that we can control…
Update: 2nd March 2023
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The beginning of the world is described in the Bible like this:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.Genesis 1:1-2 NIV
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
God then began to create the detail:
1. God named day
And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.Genesis 1:3-5a NIV
God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.
God called the light ‘day’…”
Mankind can design, create and build amazing things, but we can’t make the sun shine for a few more hours a day!
The Jewish definition of a day
Most of us are used to a day beginning and ending at midnight.
Whereas, a Jewish day goes from sundown to sundown.
So for example, Shabbat which is the Jewish day of rest, the sabbath, starts on Friday evening and ends on Saturday as it gets to dusk.
But most days of fasting start at dawn and end in the evening of the same day, although Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) and Tisha b’Av (the traditional day of mourning for the destruction of the First and Second Temples), does begin at nightfall to the following evening.
Even though the Jewish day does start and end at sunset, some festivals must be performed during daylight hours only.
Nightfall is not a definite point in time with some festivals being set by three stars becoming visible in the sky.
Therefore when a boy is born around sunset, a rabbi should be consulted to determine when the circumcision should be appointed.
A rabbi also has to be called when a person dies near evening time to state the day of death. 1
2. God named night
and the darkness he called ‘night’. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”Genesis 1:5 NIV
We may think that the night-time is just not long enough after an evening of partying and it is time to get out of bed and go to work, but we just can’t slow down the earth’s rotation!
The Bible has a tip for getting the best out of your sleep:
In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for he grants sleep to those he loves.”Psalm 127:2 NIV
A formless ball rotating in space, then light and darkness start, see article: Does Genesis fail scientific study for day 1?
3. God named the sky (Atmosphere)
And God said,Genesis 1:6-8a NIV
‘Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.’
So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it.
And it was so.
God called the vault ‘sky’… “
It may seem strange to separate the water from the water, but the clouds are separate from the rivers, seas and oceans and there is a massive amount of water up there in the sky.
It is amazing how many tons of water fall when it rains.
We can certainly spoil the ozone but if the Earth’s atmosphere started to disappear out into space could we do anything about it – probably not?
4. God named the land
And God said,Genesis 1:9-10a NIV
‘Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.’
And it was so.
God called the dry ground ‘land’…”
The Earth is a beautiful planet with the right conditions for life.
Much of the land contains soil and is fantastic for plants to grow in.
The rocks of the ‘land’ provide us with gold, gems, minerals, oil, coal, etc everything that mankind can utilise.
We would have a problem recreating all these things.
There are huge areas of desert in our world, Wikipedia put it at 32 million square kilometres of land, 2 but we would find it just about impossible to turn all of that into productive regions.
Also, there are often side effects to this:
The use of water is, however, not always without problems.‘Desert greening’ Wikipedia 3
Desert greening by the Helmand and Arghandab Valley Authority irrigation scheme in Afghanistan significantly reduced the water flowing from the Helmand River into Lake Hamun and this, together with drought, was cited as a key reason for the severe damage to the ecology of Lake Hamun, much of which has degenerated since 1999 from a wetland of international importance into salt flats…
Prevention of shifting sand dunes is accomplished through plantations of Vachellia tortilis near Laxmangarh town…”
China has started to reclaim some of the huge Kubuqi deserts successfully, but it can only restore recently degraded land. 4
So again, we see that ‘land’ is another thing that God made and we cannot create it.
The earth’s atmosphere is so important in God’s creation that one whole day is devoted to it and then on day 3 the dry ground appears, see this detailed article: Creation days 2 and 3 – atmosphere and vegetation
5. God named the sea
and the gathered waters he called ‘seas’… ”Genesis 1:10 NIV
Some people have bought a house by the sea and have then found that the sea is eating away the land.
To stop the sea from eroding the land is a relentless and very expensive task. Often it is easier just to walk away from the property!
The residents of tiny Happisburgh (Norfolk, UK) know they are living on borrowed time.‘Norfolk village on the brink of falling into the sea as locals admit ‘nobody can help us’ ‘ by Norfolk Live 6
It is thought that the village will lose around 97 metres during the next 20 years – one of the fastest eroding coastlines in Britain.
In the next 30 or so years, it is also predicted that this Grade I-listed church, a 16th-century pub and many homes will be lost to the sea, as the Norfolk coast is swallowed up.
The old village is predicted to be gone before 2105, but some people think it will go long before that.
Clive Stockton, 71, and his wife Sue have lived in the village and the historic Hill House for 30 years.
Since then, he has witnessed coastal erosion claim 36 homes, three businesses, the lifeboat, the coastguard hut, the beach car park and the public toilets…”
Can we believe that the world came about by constant changes from simple, single-cell organisms to hugely complex creatures and that sexual reproduction evolved?
We need to ask the question: ‘In the beginning was there a Big Bang or did God design and create all this?
6. God names the stars
He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.”Psalm 147:4 NIV
Even now astronomers are finding more and more stars, there just seems to be an infinite number.
You can even name your star; for example, one is named ‘Lisa’s smile’. 7
But we are told that God has already named them and knows them all by name:
To whom will you compare me?Isaiah 40:25-26 NIV
Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing*.
Some might say this; “Hang on a minute, stars die so how can it be said that ‘not one of them is missing’ ?”
So what does the original word mean?
* עָדַר (a.dar) ‘to lack’. The Hebrew word also means ‘lacking’. Perhaps, by looking at where else the same word is used, we can work out what the word means:
The word is used in Isaiah 34:16 and it is talking about the wild creatures: “None of these will be missing*”
Obviously, it doesn’t mean that they will never die, because each one of us, all creatures and all created things will have their end.
What it is saying is that wildlife will go on, they will have young ones, they find food and as a generalisation, they will lack nothing, they will not be missing from the Earth.
The previous verses put it into context:
wild goats will bleat to each other;Isaiah 34:14-15 NIV
there the night creatures will also lie down and find for themselves places of rest.
The owl will nest there and lay eggs, she will hatch them,
and care for her young under the shadow of her wings;
there also the falcons will gather, each with its mate.
We know that these creatures and stars in their time will die, but when we look at these things in nature they are there – lacking nothing.
See an article detailing ‘According to their kinds – Does science threaten Genesis?‘
Even to early tribes, the idea that the creation of the sun didn’t happen first, would seem illogical, but God states that this happened on day 4. See a detailed article on: ‘Creation of the sun moon and stars – Is Genesis scientific?‘
7. Adam gives names to everything else
Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky.Genesis 2:19-20 NIV
He brought them to the man to see what he would name them;
and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.
So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found…”
So why had God named the day, night, sky, land, sea and stars, and then given the task to Adam of providing names for everything else?
Perhaps God wanted to call attention to the things he had created, to emphasise their importance and to show His unique power over them.
We have got no control over the day and night sequence, nor the weather, nor land or sea, nor the stars.
Whereas man named the trees, fruit, fish, birds, and animals because he has the power to cultivate and organise these and to rule over them.
In fact, God tells mankind to do so:
‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.‘Genesis 1:26-29 NIV
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them,
‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.
Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’
Then God said,
‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it.
They will be yours for food.’ “
Does that mean that God was giving the thumbs up to killing off all the animals and locking them up in small cages, etc…?
No! The Lord wants mankind to care for all the animals, fish and the environment.
The verse below hints at this:
The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.”Proverbs 12:10 NIV
We all have a responsibility to care for this world, and to look after our environment and animals.
That doesn’t mean we have to be Vegans or Vegetarians, because the Lord said to Noah after the flood:
Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.Genesis 9:3-4 NIV
But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.”
Before Noah’s flood humans and creatures only ate plants and not flesh:
And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food. And it was so.”Genesis 1:30 NIV
But after Noah’s flood, the Lord said we can eat meat.
We can choose to eat a vegan or vegetarian diet, but God has said that we can eat meat – provided we look after the animals.
In Paul’s letter to Timothy talking about the ‘end times’ where false teachers will stop marriage and will tell people to abstain from certain foods, Paul tells us about marriage and food:
…God created to be received with thanksgiving…”1 Timothy 4:3 NIV
So if Adam named all the animals and other things, could Adam have had the ability to be able to read and write from the very beginning? See a detailed article on: ‘Could early man write? Oral traditions passed on?‘
See an article: The Garden of Eden. A parable or real?
Also see a detailed article covering: ‘Scientific inaccuracies, and other supposed Bible errors‘
References open in new tabs:
‘The Jewish Day’ chabad.org ↩
‘China’s Greening of the Vast Kubuqi Desert is a Model for Land Restoration Projects Everywhere’ Time. ↩
Photo Credit: Les Chatfield Flickr cc. ↩
‘Norfolk village on the brink of falling into the sea as locals admit ‘nobody can help us’ ‘ by Norfolk Live ↩
One response to “God named day, night, sky, land, sea and stars but not others – why?”
The ANE pagan stories tend to present their deities as obsessively favoring power and will, even violently. Those stories tend to justify the vindictiveness and tyranny of their deities and political leaders. Genesis 1 is radically unlike this. It affirms the Creator purely in terms of life-benevolent values and sensibilities of the Natural Order. Specifically, it affirms humans’ everyday values for life and the ecological Earth. Genesis 1 presupposes God’s unique transcendence. And it implies that the main way in which God shows to us that He exists, and that He loves us, is by His having designed all natural things such that those things meet our natural needs for things outside ourselves. That design is what often is called ‘Divine’ Design. But the term ‘divine’, in this case, is not simply the idea of something which is ‘from God’. It specifically is of something which, by its design, affirms our creaturely needs for things ‘outside’ ourselves. Each atom of our bodies have natural need of things outside themselves. And, everything together which we physically are is a being which has natural need of things outside that being. All that boils down to our having a natural need centrally for the ecological Earth, specifically for a planet which, to begin with, has a water cycle (Proverbs 12:10).
Genesis 1 reports that God gives five names to as many things (vv. 5, 8, 10). I think the things God names here were understood by the account’s original readers to be the three most basic physical, Earthly factors of Earth’s water cycle, that is, excluding the energy input from the Sun:
Factor 1: binary cyclically distributed thermal regulation ( ‘day’ and ‘night’, v. 4-5 );
Factor 2: radiologically mediative atmosphere ( ‘shamayim’, (NOT ha-shamayim) vs. 6-8 );
Factor 3: binary thermal surface distribution system ( ‘land’ and ‘seas’, vs. 9-10 )
I liken this proposed affirmation of the water cycle to a list of the basic parts of a woman, as such. Specifically, of such a list as does NOT spell out what it is of which it is a list. So, if only one knows what a woman, as such, is, one ought to recognize that the list’s author is, thereby, intending to be describing a woman.
It commonly is assumed that, of the six days of the Creation Workweek, it is to the actual work of Day Two that there is no Divine esteem of ‘good’. But, we must ask, What is it of which that work merely is a part? Answer: The water cycle.
So, the land and sea of the first half of Day Three easily is not alone that which God calls ‘good’ at that point of Day Three. For, the land and the sea are mere subsystems of the Earth’s water cycle, and so is the atmosphere (Day Two).
It is only upon the establishment of land and sea that the account’s possible concern for the physical factors of the water cycle is completed. The reason the ‘light’ of v. 3 is called ‘good’ may be because the ‘light’ is not part of the physical Earth. There is no such report associated directly from ‘day’ and ‘night’ of vs. 4-5, nor for the work of Day Two. The next time the account reports that God calls something good, this is in the first part of Day Three, when, regardless of the reading, the physical water cycle would have been completed by the establishment of the binary thermal surface exchange.
So, that which God calls ‘good’ on the first half of Day Three seems to be a combination of the five factors mentioned above. After all, Genesis 1 is mainly about an actual process, miraculous as it was, of creating and assembling the actual ecology of the actual Earth.
In short, the narrative is NOT to be seen as a mere list of ‘items’. For, if it really is about only distinct items, then the work of Day Two is not in any way even part of the ‘good’ of any of the work of any of the other days. In fact, to effectively reduce the account to a mere list of ‘items’ would mean it could just as well be about a process of assembling a cardboard diorama.