Creation of life – God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, herbs…and fruitful trees, bearing fruit after their kind” (Genesis 1:11). Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures… cattle… and beasts” (Genesis 1:24). Why does Scripture say, “Let him bring forth,” and elsewhere, “Let him bring forth”?
… Trees, plants and fruits grow annually, and due to the fact that their seeds every year must remain in the earth and certainly come from it, and it is said: “let the earth bring forth”. As for animals and beasts, they were only once, by the word of Almighty God, born of the earth and are born again not from the earth, but by natural succession from each other. That is why the Creator said about animals: “Let the earth bring forth”, that is, once and for all, let the earth give birth to animals. “And it was so” (Genesis 1:24), says the Scripture. The word of Almighty God came true: the earth was adorned with plants and animals (40, 755).
… Almighty God was pleased to give plants to the earth, but He gave fish and birds to the waters. … Because He first gave life to the universe through the waters, He also commands the waters first of all to produce living nature with the obvious goal that you, beloved, know where the root of life comes from. Saint John Chrysostom (40, 767).
Since the Creator of the world by His nature is Life, He made the very nature of the waters the mother of those who float in them and fly through the air. He commanded the earth to produce a diverse nature of animals and countless types of wild animals. And undoubtedly. He produced everything that He pleased, and is beyond all comprehension. Saint Cyril of Alexandria. Creations, part 4, M., 1886, p. 10-11.
When God said: “Let the earth bring forth” (Genesis 1:24), this does not mean that the earth produces what was already in it, but He who gave the command gave the earth the power to produce (113:157).
“Let the earth bring forth grass” (Genesis 1:11). And the earth, observing the laws of the Creator, starting from a sprout, in a short instant of time carried out all types of growth and immediately brought them to perfection (4, 73).
Just as a ball thrown down an inclined surface rolls down and does not stop until it is on a plane, so living nature, moved by one command, makes uniform transitions of beings from birth to destruction, maintaining a uniform succession of species, until it reaches end. A horse is born from a horse, a lion from a lion, an eagle from an eagle, and each animal, preserved from generation to generation, continues until the end of the universe. No time damages or destroys the properties of animals. On the contrary, their nature, as newly created, exists together with time. Saint Basil the Great (4, 137).
The earth produced everything out of itself with the help of light and waters. Although God could produce everything from the earth without them, however, such was His will and by this He wanted to show that everything created on earth was created for the benefit of man and for his service.
…God… commands the earth to produce cereals, and grass, and various fruit-bearing trees. Cereals appeared in an instant, but immediately became as if they had been growing for months. Likewise, trees, at the time of their creation, arose in one day, but by perfection and by the fruits on the branches, they seemed to be the offspring of many years.
… After the gathering of the waters on the second day, rivers, springs, lakes and swamps appeared, and then the waters scattered throughout the universe, according to the word of God, gave birth to reptiles and fish; in the abyss whales were created, and out of the water at the same time birds flew up into the air. Venerable Ephraim the Syrian. Creations, part 8, M., 1853, p. 256, 264, 267.
Our God Himself, glorified in the Trinity and Unity, created heaven and earth, and everything in them, bringing everything without exception from non-existence into being: one thing from a substance that did not exist before, such as heaven, earth, air , fire, water; the other is from these (elements) that have come from Him, such as animals, plants, seeds. For this, according to the command of the Creator, came from earth and water, and air, and fire.
…So, in the beginning, as the Divine Scripture says (Gen. 1, 2), the earth was covered with waters and was “without form”, that is, devoid of adornment. When God commanded, there were reservoirs of waters and mountains arose, and the earth, according to the Divine command, received its adornment – all kinds of cereals and plants, into which the Divine command put both the power that promotes growth, and the power that nourishes and contains the seed, that is capable of giving birth similar to each of them. At the command of the Creator, the earth also produced various kinds of animals, both reptiles and animals and livestock. All for the sake of timely use on the part of man, but some for his food, such as deer, small cattle, chamois, and the like, while others for serving him, such as camels, oxen, horses, donkeys, and the like. the like, while others for entertainment, such as monkeys, and from birds: like magpies, and parrots, and other similar things. And also from plants and herbs: some the earth produced bearing fruit, others edible, others fragrant and blooming, given to us for enjoyment, such as a rose and other similar things, others to cure diseases. For there is neither a living being, nor a plant, in which the Creator would not put some kind of power suitable for human use. For “he who knows everything before his being” (Dan. 13:42), knowing that a man will arbitrarily violate the Divine commandment and give himself over to perdition, created everything: both what is in the firmament, and what is on the earth, and what is on the waters, so that he enjoyed it.
Before the violation of the Divine commandment, of course, everything was obedient to man. For God has made him ruler over all that is on the earth and in the waters. And also the serpent was friendly to man more than other living creatures, coming to him and conversing with him with his pleasant movements. Therefore, the culprit of evil, the devil, through him offered the most evil advice to the forefathers (Genesis 3:1-5). And on the other hand, the earth itself brought forth fruits, so that living beings subordinate to man could use them; and there was neither rain nor winter on earth. After the crime, when a person became like “animals that perish” (Ps. 48, 13), as soon as unreasonable lust began to control the soul endowed with reason, when he transgressed the commandment of the Lord, the subject creature rebelled against the chief chosen by the Creator, and he was appointed to sweat till the land from which he was taken.
…Moreover, after the crime, thorns grew out of the earth—according to the saying of the Lord, according to which even a beautiful rose has thorns—leading us to the memory of the crime, because of which the earth was condemned to sprout for us thorns and thistles. That this is so, one must believe because the words of the Lord: “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Gen. 1, 28) support the unceasing existence of all that up to the present time.
However, the earth will also pass away and change. Blessed is he who inherits the land of the meek (Matthew 5:5). For the land that receives the saints is immortal. Therefore, who could adequately express the astonishment of the boundless and incomprehensible wisdom of the Creator? Or who could render due thanks to the Giver of such great blessings? Saint John of Damascus. Exact presentation of the Orthodox faith. SPb., 1894, p. 43-74.
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