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Parshah Bereshit - Why is "Luminaries" Singular in Hebrew?

The Fourth Day of Creation Genesis 1:14

By Rabbi Moshe Weiner

The Seasons of the Year


The Fourth Day of Creation

(1:14-19)


14. And God said, “Let there be luminaries in the expanse of the heavens, to separate between the day and between the night, and they shall be for signs and for appointed seasons and for days and years.


15. And they shall be for luminaries in the expanse of the heavens to shine light upon the earth,” and it was so.


16. And God made the two great luminaries: the great luminary to rule the day and the lesser luminary to rule the night, and the stars.


17. And God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.


18. And to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate between the light and between the darkness, and God saw that it was good.


19. And it was evening, and it was morning, a fourth day.



14. Let there be luminaries in the expanse of the heavens, to separate between the day and between the night: “Let there be [luminaries]” in the Hebrew is in the singular, because the luminaries all serve one common purpose: to separate between the day and between the night, in that all the luminaries participate equally, that by means of them the difference between day and night can be noticed on Earth.


The main distinction between day and night is made by the light of the Sun, because as long as the light of the Sun shines upon the Earth [even from daybreak, which is the beginning of the appearance of light in the East, before the rising of the orb of the Sun above the horizon] is daytime, and nighttime is when the Sun is concealed from the Earth when it sets and its light disappears.


Even though Light was created on the First Day, this was Light as an independent existence. On the Fourth Day, God created the luminous bodies and suspended them in the expanse of Heaven, and their purpose is to provide light for the needs of the Earth, and to distinguish between the different time periods.


and they shall be for signs and for appointed seasons: “Signs” means an indicator. And they shall be [in the plural] implies that the sun and the moon cause there to be signs and for appointed seasons and for days and for years. Because from the situating of the luminaries in the heavens and their rotation will be for the benefit of Man and of Nature, in recognizing the passage of time and the ability of Man to determine the time periods. The principal determinant of time in the world is the alternating between day and night, and the revolution of the Moon around the Earth completes a month, and the revolution of the Sun comprises a year. In this way, the dimensions of time - days, months, and years - are derived.


For signs: to measure the time units of (a particular time during) the day. From seeing the location of the Sun in the expanse of Heaven, the time of the day can be known.


And for appointed seasons: The times of the year, the four seasons over the course of the year.


Sources: Bi'ur Torat Moshe - Explanation of the book of Moses - Genesis by Rabbi Moshe Weiner


By Rabbi Moshe Weiner

 

Rabbi Moshe Weiner is the Rabbinical Director of the Academy and the author of the Divine Code of Law for Noahides. He is also the Overseeing Authority of the Legal Noahide Movement.

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