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I was told in this answer to another question: "The Rambam did not take the '6 days' of Bereishis literally, as well as other details." The answer linked to Moreh Nevuchim (link) but I couldn't find on that page where he really said that it wasn't in six days. In fact, it was my understanding that Rambam and others did take Masay Bereishis as happeneing in six 24 hour days, although I don't know a specific source. What does Rambam say on the issue in Moreh Nevuchim and elsewhere?

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sacred-texts.com/jud/gfp/gfp117.htm – sam Jul 18 '13 at 1:21
I think the original answer I referenced should have linked to sacred-texts.com/jud/gfp/gfp116.htm – A L Jul 18 '13 at 1:26
Rav Natan Slifkin wrote a book on this subject called the challenge of creation. – Robert S. Barnes Dec 24 '15 at 20:24
It doesn't take a whole book, he just has a few pages in the book discussing this specific question. – Robert S. Barnes Dec 24 '15 at 20:29
@RobertS.Barnes It sounds like you have the resource to add an answer, if you wish. The existing answer which basically says that it's unclear and possibly he wouldn't have been opposed to a non-literal reading could for sure enjoy the company of what you would have to say. – A L Dec 25 '15 at 0:06
up vote 3 down vote accepted

In a broad sense the answer is no, the Rambam did not take the six days literally: “First, the account given in Scripture of the Creation is not, as is generally believed, intended to be in all its parts literal.” ( Guide for the Perplexed 2:29, Friedlander page 211).

Precisely what he did view is complicated by the fact that he believed the topic was esoteric and under normal circumstances prohibited to be committed to writing.

The Rambam's view, insofar as I can tell, did not necessarily preclude a literal six days or an interpretation that was "literal" in a very broad sense. His interpretation, as I can tell, seems to predicated on a number of key words not being understood as they would be taken on first impression but instead given a philosophical definition. In a sense I think you could make the case that the Rambam did not reject the plain meaning but what he viewed as an over simplistic reading.

Along these lines the Rambam defends the plain meaning against Aristotelian philosophy (2:17) prior to giving his own interpretation. And remember the Rambam explained that, “a mere argument in favour of a certain theory is not sufficient reason for rejecting the literal meaning of a Biblical text.” (Guide for the Perplexed II:25, Friedlander).

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In reference to your last paragraph, I think he meant that a philosophical argument is not sufficient to reject literal meaning. In reference to your first paragraph, all he says is that that some parts aren't literal, he didn't say the days aren't literal, and he didn't want Moreh Nevuchim to be interpreted beyond what it explicitly says. Again, if anyone knows what I'm talking about, I do recall that Rambam does say elsewhere (not in Moreh Nevuchim perhaps) that they were literal 24 hour days. – A L Jul 18 '13 at 1:31
I do not believe that their is any statement from the Rambam that directly relates to the six days being literal but as you note he said SOME parts are not, which is in part why I mentioned that it doesn't necessarily preclude a literal six days. Regarding the last paragraph I think one finds he does not view a philosophical argument as unable to do so theoretically, only practically. His point there is that just 'cause one can interpret non-literally doesn't itself give them license to do so. – Yirmeyahu Jul 18 '13 at 1:36
Moreh 2:30 is generally accepted as saying that the "days" are logical steps, not a chronological sequence at all. See aishdas.org/asp/the-rambam-on-time-during-creation – Micha Berger Oct 9 '15 at 9:50

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