The Separation of Light from Darkness
Image source: Jorge Valenzuela A, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. ...
And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day." (Genesis 1:1-5)
The end of the quote reads a bit differently in the Hebrew Bible:
"And there was evening and there was morning, one day."
"One day" - not "day one". In the 11th century,
the great sage Rashi provided an explantion for this peculiar word order:
the first day is the day of the One, when nothing else existed yet.
Michelangelo spent his early years at the court of the Medici,
an influential familycof bankers in Florence during the first half
of the 15th century. The artist's tutors at the Medici Palace
were all fascinated with Rashi's teachings. Therefore, Michelangelo
certainly had good knowledge of the sage's commentaries on the Hebrew Bible,
as evidenced by the artistic approach he chose for this panel, described below.
In the scene from the first day of the Creation Michelangelo depicted only the figure of God.
From the three panels on this topic, this is the only one lacking any imagery of angels.