The Dawn of the World, by Father Cornelius Joseph Holland, S.T.L.

The Creation1

In the beginning God created Heaven and earth. And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God moved over the waters.

The Creation of LightAnd God said, “Be light made:” and light was made. And God saw the light that it was good; and He divided the light from the darkness: and He called the light Day, and the darkness Night. And there was evening and morning – one day.

And God said, “Let there be a firmament2 amidst the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” And God made a firmament, and divided the waters that were under the firmament from those that were above3 the firmament; and it was so: and God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and morning were the second day.

God also said, “Let the waters that are under the heaven be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear:” and it was so done. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the water He called Seas: and God saw that it was good. And He said, “Let the earth bring forth the green herb, and such as may seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind, which may have seed in itself upon the earth:” and it was so done. And the earth brought forth the green herb, and such as yielded seed according to its kind, and the tree that bears fruit, having seed each one according to its kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and morning were the third day.

And God said, “Let there be lights made in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day and the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years, to shine in the firmament of heaven and to give light upon the earth:” and it was done. And God made two great lights; a greater light to rule the day and a lesser light to rule the night, and the stars; and He set them in the firmament of heaven to shine upon the earth, and to rule the day and the night, and to divide the light and the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and morning were the fourth day.

God also said, “Let the waters bring forth the creeping creature having life, and the fowl that may fly over the earth under the firmament of heaven;” and God created the great whales, and every living and moving creature, which the waters brought forth, according to their kinds, and every winged fowl according to its kind: and God saw that it was good, and He blessed them, saying, “Increase and multiply, and fill the waters of the sea, and let the birds be multiplied upon the earth.” And the evening and morning were the fifth day.

The Creation of AnimalsAnd God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature in its kind, cattle and creeping things, and beasts of the earth according to their kind;” and it was so done: and God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds, and cattle, and everything that creeps on the earth after its kind; and God saw that it was good. And He said, “Let us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moves on the earth;” and God created man to His own image: to the image of God He created him: male and female He created them; and God blessed them, saying, “Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it: and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth.” And God said, “Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed upon the earth, and all trees that have in themselves seed of their own kind to be your meat: and to all beasts of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to all that move upon the earth, and wherein there is life, that they may have to feed upon”: and it was so done: and God saw all the things that He had made, and they were very good. And the evening and morning were the sixth day.

So the heavens and the earth were finished,4 and all the furniture of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. And He blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God created and made.5

The Fall of Man

And the Lord took man and put him into the Garden of Paradise6 to dress it and keep it. And He commanded him, saying, “Of every tree of Paradise thou shalt eat, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat; for in what day soever thou shalt eat of it thou shalt die the death.”

Now the serpent was more subtle than any of the beasts of the earth which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Why hath God commanded you that you should not eat of every tree of Paradise?”

And the woman answered, “Of the fruit of the trees that are in Paradise we do eat: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of Paradise, God hath commanded us that we should not eat, and that we should not touch it, lest perchance we die.”

And the serpent said to the woman, “No, you shall not die the death; for God doth know that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

And the woman saw that the tree was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold, and she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave to her husband, who did eat. And presently they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the Garden, and they hid themselves from the face of the Lord, amidst the trees of Paradise.

And the Lord God called the man, and said to him, “Where art thou?”

And he said, “I heard Thy voice in Paradise, and I was afraid; and I hid myself.”

And He said, “Thou hast eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou should not eat.”

And Adam said, “The woman whom Thou gave me to be my companion gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”

And the Lord God said to the woman, “Why hast thou done this?”

And she answered, “The serpent deceived me, and I did eat.”

Adam and Eve Driven from ParadiseAnd the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because thou hast done this thing thou art cursed among all cattle and beasts; upon thy breast shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed; she shall crush thy head,7 and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” And to the woman He said, “I will multiply thy sorrows and thy conceptions; in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children; and thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee.” And to Adam He said, “Because thou hast harkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work; with labor and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life; thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herbs of the earth; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth, out of which thou wast taken; for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return.”

And the Lord sent him out of the Garden of Paradise; and He placed before it Cherubim,8 and a flaming sword, turning every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.9

The Flood

After that men began to be multiplied upon the earth. And God seeing that their wickedness was great, and that all the thought of their heart was bent upon evil at all times, said, “I will destroy man whom I have created, from the face of the earth; from man even to beasts; from the creeping things even to the fowls of the air: for it repenteth10 Me that I have made them.” But Noe found grace before the Lord, for he was a just and perfect man in his generation; and he walked with God.

And the Lord said to Noe, “Make thee an ark of timber planks. Behold I will bring the waters of a great flood11 upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, under heaven. But with thee I will establish My covenant; and thou shalt go into the ark, thou and thy sons, and thy wife, and the wives of thy sons with thee. And of every living creature of all flesh, thou shalt bring two of a sort into the ark, that they may live with thee; of the male sex and the female. Of fowls according to their kind, and of beasts in their kind, and of every thing that creepeth on the earth according to its kind, two of every sort shall go in with thee, that they may live. Thou shalt take unto thee of all food that may be eaten, and thou shalt lay it up with thee; and it shall be food for thee and them.” And Noe did all things which God commanded him.

And it came to pass, in the six hundredth year of the life of Noe, in the second month, in the seventeenth day of the month, all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the flood-gates of heaven were opened; and the rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and the waters overflowed exceedingly, and filled all on the face of the earth; and the ark was carried upon the waters. And all flesh was destroyed that moved upon the earth, both of fowl and of cattle, and of beasts, and of all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all men. And Noe only remained, and they that were with him in the ark. And the waters prevailed upon the earth a hundred and fifty days.

Noe Sending Forth the Dove from the ArkAnd after that forty days were passed, Noe, opening the window of the ark, sent forth a raven, which went forth and did not return till the waters were dried up upon the earth. He sent forth also a dove after him, to see if the waters had now ceased upon the face of the earth; but she, not finding where her foot might rest, returned to him into the ark; for the waters were upon the whole earth; and he put forth his hand and caught her, and brought her into the ark. And having waited yet seven other days, he again sent forth the dove out of the ark; and she came to him in the evening, carrying a bough of an olive tree, with green leaves in her mouth. Noe therefore understood that the waters were ceased upon the earth. And he stayed yet another seven days; and he sent forth the dove which returned not any more unto him. And Noe, opening the covering of the ark, looked and saw the face of the earth was dried.

And God spoke to Noe, saying, “Go out of the ark, thou and thy wife, thy sons, and the wives of thy sons with thee; and all living things that are with thee of all flesh, as well in fowls as in beasts, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, bring out with thee; and go ye out upon the earth, and increase and multiply upon it.” And they went forth.

Noe After the DelugeAnd Noe built an altar unto the Lord; and taking of all cattle and fowls that were clean,12 offered holocausts13 upon the altar. And the Lord smelled14 a sweet savor, and said, “I will no more curse the earth for the sake of man; for the imagination and the thought of man’s heart are prone to evil from his youth; therefore I will no more destroy every living soul as I have done. All the days of the earth, seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, night and day, shall not cease.”

And God blessed Noe and his sons. And He said to them, “Increase and multiply and fill the earth. And I will establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall be no more destroyed with the waters of a flood; neither shall there be from henceforth a flood to waste the earth.”

And the sons of Noe, who came out of the ark,15 were Sem, Cham, and Japhet; and from these was all mankind spread over the whole earth.

– text and illustrations taken from The Divine Twilight: Old Testament Stories in Scripture Language, Separated Out, Set in Connected Order, and Edited with Notes, by Father Cornelius Joseph Holland, S.T.L., 1913; Imprimatur: Bishop Matthew Harkins, Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, 1913


  1. The Dawn of the World, (B. C. 4004-2348) Summary. In the Bible there are seventy-three books. Of these the first forty-six have for their chief purpose to tell the story of Israel as a covenant people. By covenant people is meant a people between whom and God there exists a special agreement. The agreement which existed of old between God and Israel was to the effect that He should be, in a most intimate way, their God, and they should be, in a very peculiar sense, His representatives to the other nations of the world. Another and a more familiar word for covenant is testament. That is why the books of the Bible in which the covenant is recorded are called the books of the Old Testament, or just simply, The Old Testament. Now although the Old Testament has for its chief purpose to tell the story of Israel as a covenant people, it does not wait for that nation to be formed before starting its narrative, but it goes back to the very beginning of things and tells, as it were by way of introduction, all the events that happened at the dawn of the world. Of these events, the three most important are known as the Creation, the Fall, and the Flood; and these only are told in this chapter. From the story of Creation we shall learn, step by step, how all things were made by God, in the beginning, out of nothing. In the account of the Fall we shall see how our first parents, having disobeyed their Creator, were driven out of Paradise, but not before they had received from Him the promise that one day there should come One, born of woman, who would repair the evil of their sin. Finally, from the record of the Flood we shall learn how mankind having become utterly sinful, was all destroyed, save Noe and his family.
  2. Firmament: The atmosphere which surrounds our earth and looks to our eyes like a blue dome.
  3. By waters under the firmament are meant rivers, lakes, etc.; by those above, the clouds.
  4. Revelation itself tells us nothing regarding the real space of time that the formation of the world required. There are however many opinions. The old and largely accepted one is that the days of creation were real days of twenty-four hours each. A more recent opinion is that, in the beginning, the alternating periods of light and darkness were much longer than they are now, so that each day may have been thousands and even millions of years. But, be the space of time what it may, two truths are clear from the story, namely: that the creation of the universe was one progressive and harmonious plan, and that each and every portion of it was the work of Almighty God.
  5. The magnitude, beauty, order and harmony of the universe declare in a way that man cannot but understand, the might, and goodness, and wisdom, and glory of God.
  6. The exact location of the earthly paradise here spoken of is not known, but many suppose it to have been the country lying between the highlands of Armenia and the Persian Gulf.
  7. She shall crush thy head: In these words God made it clear that through the instrumentality of woman, the evil wrought by satan was to be undone. And this promise was finally accomplished in the Blessed Virgin. For, in giving birth to the Savior, who saved the world from sin, she may be truly said to have put an end to Satan’s power, i. e., crushed his head. Hence the Blessed Virgin is often represented as standing on a globe, having under her foot the head of a serpent who holds an apple in his mouth.
  8. Cherubim: Angels of one of the higher degrees.
  9. No event in the entire history of mankind should be more calculated to teach us the great evil of sin, or fill us with greater dread of committing it, than the fall of man. What an evil, indeed, sin must be in God’s sight, when for a single act of disobedience so unspeakable woe has come upon the whole world. If a single sin has merited such a punishment, what may not be expected by those who frequently and flagrantly fly in the face of the Almighty!
  10. It repenteth me: This and other like expressions to be found in the Bible are merely a human way of making God speak. In this case, the sacred writer uses the expression to convey in a forceful manner how great was man’s ingratitude towards God.
  11. Flood traditions are found among many people besides the Hebrews, the most important being that of the Babylonians. They all bear testimony to the truth of the original event.
  12. Clean: Clean beasts were those fed on herbage, such as cows, sheep, etc.; the rest were classed as unclean. Only clean beasts could be offered in sacrifice.
  13. Holocaust: A kind of sacrifice in which the animal was first killed and then wholly burnt.
  14. Smelled: A human way of speaking of God, signifying that the act was acceptable.
  15. The ark is a type of the Catholic Church. It was established by the will of Almighty God, preserved from shipwreck, and designed to save those who entered into it.