“Sheshet Yemai Bereshit” – the “Six Days of Creation,” which were followed by the “Seventh Day,” the “Yom HaShabbat,” the “Day” of “Rest.” On these six “Days,” the Universe and all that is in it was brought into being by “E-lohim,” G-d, as described in Bereshit (1:1 – 2:3).
Each “Day” may have been much longer than 24 hours, and could describe an eon or an epoch, but would refer to a unique and separate phase of activity and influence upon the World by the Creator.
In the descriptions of the “Days,” the highly poetic Biblical language and terms are used, and one must appreciate that given our perspective, it is really impossible for us to know what the words refer to precisely. The “Midrash”, and the great Commentators, such as RASHI, whose genius included the selecting of appropriate Midrashim, and the RAMBAN help a lot, but much mystery remains.
The “Days” are:
“Yom Echad” – (m.); the First “Day of Creation,” described in Bereshit 1:1-5
In the beginning, “E-lohim,” G-d created the “Heaven” and the “Earth.” And the “Earth” was formless and void, and the Divine Presence hovered over the “waters.”
G-d said “Let there be ‘light’ ” – and there was “light.” And “E-lohim,” G-d saw the “light,” that it was good and separated between the “light” and the “dark.” And G-d called the “light,” “Day” and the “darkness,” “Night.”
An “Evening” and a “Morning” passed, completing One Day.
Note that a different term is used for “Sunday,” the first day of the week, using the ordinal number, “first” rather than the cardinal number “One;” namely, “Yom Rishon.” Whereas, the first “Day of Creation” is called the “Day of the One,” to emphasize that G-d alone created the Universe and all that is in it.
“Yom Sheni” – (m.); the Second “Day of Creation,” described in Bereshit 1:6-8
And “E-lohim,” G-d said, “Let there be a ‘Rakia,’ a ‘firmament, in the midst of the waters and let it divide between the upper “waters” and the lower “waters.” He called the “Rakia” “Shamayim,” “Heaven.”
An “Evening” and a “Morning” passed, completing the Second Day.
“Yom Shelishi” – (m.); the Third “Day of Creation,” described in Bereshit 1:9-13
“E-lohim,” G-d said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together, and let the dry land be seen;” and it was so. And “E-lohim,” called the dry land “Yabasha,” and the collections of waters he called “Yamim;” and he saw that this was good.
And G-d said, “Let the land bring forth vegetation, grass bearing reproductive capability, and fruit-bearing trees capable of producing fruit of the same type season after season.” And it was so. And the land brought forth vegetation and fruit-bearing trees produced fruit-bearing trees of the same type; and G-d saw that it was good.
And there was Evening and there was Morning, completing the Third Day.
“Yom Revii” – (m.); the Fourth “Day of Creation,” described in Bereshit 1:14-19
And G-d said, “Let there be light-producing heavenly bodies, to divide between the Day and the Night, and to be markers for special times, and for days and for nights. And they should also come to be illuminating bodies in space, to provide light for the Earth. And it was so.
And G-d created the two Great Lights, the Great Light to rule during the Day, and the Smaller Light to rule during the Night, and the Stars.
RASHI cites a Midrash on the above verse, which contains an apparent contradiction. First the verse speaks of two Great Lights. Then it speaks of the Sun as the Great Light and the Moon as the Smaller Light!? Were they equal or unequal? The Midrash comes to teach a moral lesson, that originally the Sun and the Moon were of equal size, but the Moon complained, “Two Kings cannot wear one crown! Both the Sun and I cannot both be Kings!” G-d said, “You’re right; go reduce yourself to be the smaller light.”
Another resolution of the apparent contradiction, with a scientific bent, obtained from “In the Beginning,” by Professor Aviezer, is that the Moon was always much smaller, but it was created by G-d in just the right way that it had the same “apparent size” as the sun. Such that in a solar eclipse, the moon was just the right size and just the right distance away from the Earth to completely block the rays of the sun.
An Evening and a Morning passed, completing the Fourth Day.
“Yom Chamishi” – (m.); the Fifth “Day of Creation,” described in Bereshit 1:20-23
G-d said, “Let the waters swarm with living creatures and the air be filled with winged creatures flying over the Earth. And G-d created the great amphibians (dinosaurs?) and all the living beings that creep that came from the water according to their type, and all the flying birds, according to their type. And G-d saw that it was good. And G-d blessed them, saying “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters of the seas and let the birds fill the land.
An “Evening” and a “Morning” passed, completing the Fifth Day.
“Yom HaShishi” – (m.); the Sixth “Day of Creation,” described in Bereshit 1:24-31
And “E-lohim,” G-d said, “Let the Earth produce living souls: cattle, swarming things and wild beasts, according to their type. And so it was. And G-d made the beasts of the land, and the cattle and the swarming things, each according to their type; and “E-lohim,” G-d saw that it was good.
And G-d said, “Let us make man in our image (RASHI immediately comments on the unexpected usage of ‘us’ and ‘our,’ which gives unbelievers a place to inject their false ideas, and says that here G-d is teaching human beings courtesy, that one should always consult with one’s subordinates (in this case, the Angels, heavenly creations of G-d) before taking action. Even though when it came to the actual creation of the human being, it was only G-d Who was involved, as the verse says ‘And He Created,’ not ‘And they created’). And let him rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and over the cattle and over all of the land, and over everything that swarms from the land.”
And “E-lohim,” G-d created Man in His image, in the image of “E-lohim,” did He Create him, male and female did He create them.
And “E-lohim,” G-d blessed them, and “E-lohim” said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the land, and conquer it; and rule over the fish of the sea and the beats of the land, and the birds of the skies, and over all life that creeps upon the ground.”
And G-d said, “I have given to you all the vegetation of the earth, and all the fruit of the trees, for you to eat.”
“And I have given to every form of life that moves on the Earth or flies in the air, I have given all vegetation to eat.”
And it was so.
And “E-lohim,” G-d saw all that He had done, and behold it was VERY GOOD; and there was an “Evening” and a “Morning,” completing theSixth Day.