Etchings of Marcus van Loopik

Days of creation



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The fifth day of creation

And God said: Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let fowl fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created the great sea-monsters, and every living creature that creeps, wherewith the waters swarmed, after its kind, and every winged fowl after its kind; and God saw it was good. And God blessed them, saying: Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day  (Gen. 1:20-23).(Etching M. van Loopik)


Primeval monsters - evil in the world
On the fifth day sea-animals and birds have been created. On the etching we see a bird,  shellfish, fish and coral - this marvellous structure with its complex branching, to which billions of polyps contributed with their skeleton of lime. A little mountain between the waters above and below reminds us of the third day. The overwhelming blue of the water and the air tells us that creation started with light and the primeval sea.marge1.jpg (4403 bytes)
Even the smallest creatures precede the first man. Just like Adam they are called 'nèphèsh hayim' - living soul. But the Creator breathed an extra breath of life into the nostrils of Adam (Gen. 2:7). Most of the swarming creatures are insignificant if we compare them with their successors of the sixth day, but it does not mean they are superfluous. When, at the end of the sixth day, the Creator says that it was very good, He also refers to the smallest microbe.      
According to the midrash God also created the soul of Adam on the fifth day. Of this remind us the words 'living soul'. The 'nèphèsh' is the impulse to live and to survive. Man shares it with the other living creatures. He possesses bestial instincts as well as the mental power to master his passions and to sublimate the shady side of his being.
In the passage of the fifth day we also read about sea-monsters: And God created the great sea- monsters (Gen. 1:21). According to the Babylonian Talmud they are the monster-fish Leviathan and his female companion. The Creator, however, killed the female monster-fish and salted her to preserve her and to serve her in the future as dinner for the righteous. If Leviathan and his wife would have propagated themselves, the world would not have lasted.
The Creator made the possibility of good and evil, but in His mercy He limited this possibility. In the end He will grant man the victory over his evil inclination. This is a sign of messianic hope. Sin couches at the door of man, but in the end he shall and may rule over it (compare Gen. 4:7).
The story of Leviathan sharpens our consciousness, in order that we know about the threat of chaos, which we have to conquer by listening to the words of Sinai.
The sea symbolizes the endless reservoir of thoughts and intentions, which emerge in our minds. The apocalyptic writers have identified the great sea with the sea of nations, from which terrible monsters emerge, one even more horrible than the other (compare Dan. 7:2-3).


(Etching M. van Loopik)

Sdag6.JPG (15319 bytes)The sixth day of creation

And God said: Let the arth bring forth living creature after its kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after its kind. And it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after its kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground after its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God said: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,  and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing, that creeps upon the earth. And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created Him; Male and female created He them. And God blessed them and God said unto them: Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that creeps upon the earth. And God said : Behold I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed - to you it shall be for food; and every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creeps upon the earth, wherein there is a living soul [I have given] every green herb for food. And it was so. And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day (Gen. 1:24-31).

This etching is inserted as illustration in the 'Lezenaarbijbel',  publiced by the 'Katholieke Bijbelstichting'  ( Roman catholic Bible society ; 's - Hertogenbosch 1998), and provided with the following explanation.

Bridge between heaven and earth

The creation of Adam and Eve. Mankind forms a bridge between heaven and earth. On the sixth day God created man, together with the animals that live on the face of the earth. According to a rabbinical explanation God wished man to be alike the angels. marge3.jpg (10620 bytes)The use of plural-forms in Gen. 1:26 makes clear that God wanted to be advised by the celestial beings, just because of their great resemblance to man: And God said: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness (Gen. 1:26). When we compare this intention of the Creator with the following description of His creative activity, a difference in expression attracts our attention: And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him (Gen. 1:27). Why God did not create man after His likeness as He had initially planned to do?  An old tradition explains the difference between plan and execution as follows: God created man in His image but not after His likeness, because the likeness is given in the power of man (Jalkut Re'ubeni).  Man is unconditionally made in the image of his Creator, but he is not automatically after the likeness of God. Likeness is his assignment and mission. Man shall imitate God in His holiness to become more and more like Him: You shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy (Lev. 19:2).
On the etching you see Adam and Eve, intertwined and as it were forming one being: in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Gen. 1:27). According to an ancient legend at first Adam was a creature, which was half male half female. The story about paradise tells how God loosened Eve - the female part - form Adam - the male part.  Man and wife are dependent on each other. The origin they have in common testifies to their deep solidarity. In a red coloured part of the etching you see the ladder of Jacob, which symbolizes the  ever changing fate of Israel in history. A dark coloured panther represents the predators, which were created on the same day as Adam. Like them man is a nèphèsh hayim, a living creature, which can think and move. But man is more. He also possesses ethical insight in his own behavior. God has given His Torah only to people, and not even to the angels. Because man is flesh and soul, only he can sanctify earthy life and be the bridge between heaven and earth.

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knoppijl.gif (1769 bytes) continuation: day 7 +  8   knoppijlter.gif (1787 bytes) back to day 3 + 4 


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