Why is the Second Day of Creation not Described as Good?

Question of the week:

After each day of creation, God says it was good. All except day 2. Is it because on day 2 he created the (firmament, sky, atmosphere, air) and it wasn’t good because satan is called the prince of the air?

Kenneth P.

Dear Kenneth,

We hesitated to highlight your question because it is too much of a softball. It is like the reporter asking President Biden what his favorite flavor of ice-cream is (while the United States collapses around them). The president can’t wait to answer.

In other words, we applaud your excellent question and we imagine that you also would like to know why God saw that the sixth day was ‘very good’ while the other days were plain, old good.

In fact, we go into your question in detail in Lesson 7 of Scrolling through Scripture Unit 1. We discuss how the idea of separation is mentioned twice on the second day (Genesis 6-8) and explore why separation has negative connotations. However—and this is a big however—astute Bible students will note that Day One also involves a separation (Genesis 1:4) and that day is called good.

As a short summary of how we resolve our dilemma, we note that on Day One, God is separating between two different things, light and darkness. On the second day, He is separating between two similar things, water and water. Like everything else in Creation, we are not being given a lesson in “how to build a world in 10 easy steps.” Rather, we are being given principles with which humans can best build our most successful lives on this planet that God created.

Much of our world demands having the ability to properly separate. Here are three examples. We must be able to distinguish one letter from another in order to read; we must distinguish between male and female in order to thrive; and we must labor to distinguish good from evil. Yet, that ability to separate is easily abused when we put barriers and separations between those things that should go together. An example might be when science decides that the life of a full-term, biologically average baby has value while the life of a baby born with Down syndrome does not.

Kevin, we called your question a softball because we put many hours of love and labor into creating Scrolling through Scripture.

Questions like yours that jump off the pages of the Bible, as well as other questions that are hidden, are why we did so.

Keep studying,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin


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