In Genesis 1:1, why does “it was good” keep getting repeated?
The word “good” appears seven times throughout the creation narrative in Genesis 1. There is great significance as to why the word appears so much. When there is repetition in the Bible it usually has a great purpose.
When we review the times that it is used we will see a pattern that explains why God evaluates his creation so often and its significance to us.
- Good – The light was good on the first day (Genesis 1:3)
- Good – The land and sees on the third day (Genesis 1:10)
- Good – Vegetation on the land on the third day (Genesis 1:12)
- Good – Sun, moon and stars on the fourth day (Genesis 1:18)
- Good – Fish and birds on the fifth day (Genesis 1:21)
- 6. Good – All land animals on the sixth day (Genesis 1:25)
- Very Good – Human beings on the sixth day (Genesis 1:31)
There’s a pattern as both the third and sixth days received two evaluations. Six times God says his creation is good. The first three days were days of forming the earth to receive life. The next three days were days of filling the earth with life.
God formed the earth by providing light, atmosphere, and land with vegetation already on it. And he filled the waters and sky with fish and birds, the land with animals, and the land with humans. This is the pattern most scholars agree with.
At each step that he evaluates what he has done it is good because it goes toward preparing humanity to dwell in it. Everything leans toward providing the environment and everything that humans need to survive.
The environment of having light and darkness to govern time, the atmosphere to govern weather, and the land and vegetation to provide food was necessary for life. Then God provided birds and fish, as well as land animals to provide further food for humanity. They also provide for other needs humans would have.
Then God created humans in his image to govern over his creation that he gave them as an environment to live in. It’s only this seventh time that God evaluates what he has created that he says it is “very good.”
Everything is just right to house humanity, made in his image. They represent God on the earth and are stewards of all he has entrusted to them. That is why God evaluates his creation so much. This is why many scholars the creation of humanity was the pinnacle of God’s creation. He creates humanity in his image and evaluates his creation to be very good for the first time.
The number seven is the number of perfection or completion in Hebrew literature. It suggests that the seventh time God said creation was good was a sort of seal of completion on it. He was done creating, and the seventh day rest bears that out. Once he had created an environment for humans he rested on the seventh day and inhabited the whole earth.
The idea of rest in Scripture can convey God’s filling the earth with his presence. The same type of rest happens when Solomon’s Temple was dedicated (2 Chronicles 7). Though the word “rest” is not used God does inhabit the Temple to show his pleasure. So there is a completion on the seventh day that is signaled by the sixth day’s evaluation of “very good” for the seventh time in the chapter.