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Midrash Tehillim 90:13 says that God created and destroyed 974 worlds before this one. What exactly does that mean?

I've heard it used in defense of a modern understanding of evolution and cosmology but don't really get why God would create a universe and destroy it 600 times, then create a universe and destroy it a couple hundred more times with our solar system, and then create it and destroy it another couple hundred times with slight variations of animal life. And then do the one final creation of everything again. I don't grasp the logic behind that interpretation.

So what exactly does it mean to create and destroy 974 worlds?

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    Very related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/15156/759 – Double AA Jul 4 '13 at 5:13
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    @DoubleAA That seems to bring up something in Chagiga that it refers to generations that never were that are scattered out throughout history. Is this the same thing? If so why would anyone point to it as a way of explaining the age of the universe and the presence of fossils? – A L Jul 5 '13 at 3:31
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    this is also brought in midrash raba bereishis. with God saying this is not pleasing to Me before destroying it. which is quite puzzling given that He knows the future. – ray Apr 11 '16 at 20:21
  • sheviras hakelim – michael Dec 30 '18 at 22:05
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I think this by use of 974 this Medrash confused/conflated another teaching how we received Torah 974 generations early. in 26 vs 1000 = 974 see ' the recent complex creation framework' and 'Abraham until the Exodus'

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    Roger, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for your first answer! If you haven’t done so already, you should take a look at the tour. I hope you'll look around and find other Q&A of interest and stay learning with us. – mbloch Apr 11 '16 at 18:45
  • It's not "Medrish," its Midrash. The phrase "the Medrish says" is incorrect also since there is no one single version of Midrash, most of them differ. – Turk Hill 5 hours ago
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Maimonides explains in his essay to the introduction called Chelek that Midrashim are parables designed to teach people about proper behavior, not literal facts. People need to mine Midrashim for moral lessons. True, there are many midrashim that invented all kinds of imaginative tales about G-d creating other cultures before the present one and destroying them, a kind of science fiction. But this is not meant to be taken literally.

Additionally, it is almost insulting to say (as the Zohar does) that G-d created an imperfect world with defects or that G-d is incapable of creating man in his perfect form. G-d is not like an insufficiently trained plumber who needs to return from time to time to repair former work. G-d created the world once, as the Bible says, "Very good."

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    As I've told you in the past, Rambam has no essay called Chelek – robev 5 hours ago
  • Let’s grant that the Midrash is science fiction. Have explained what it means to create and destroy 974 worlds, as the question asked? – Alex 4 hours ago
  • @Turk Hill the essay is an introduction to Perek Chelek of Sanhedrin, not that the essay itself is called Chelek. – Harel13 2 hours ago
  • Than you for your comments. I will edit my answer. :) – Turk Hill 2 hours ago

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