Thanks to Jeff for this quote from ]] –
What God created is here called “the heavens and the earth,” a poetic expression (merism) signifying the whole universe. Other examples of this poetic device are “day and night” (meaning all the time) and “man and beast” (meaning all created physical beings). “Heaven and earth” thus indicates not only the heaven and the earth but everything in them. Genesis 2:4 also uses this expression in a restatement of the work of creation throughout the six days.
via Scripture Zealot.
Ross goes on to state (and Jeff links to more scholars at the bottom – scholars of Hebrew) that day (yom) in Genesis 1 actually refers to 24 hours. Walton, I believe, agrees.
Not knowing Hebrew, but knowing how to use certain resources, I tend to agree. Of course, I don’t think that Genesis 1 refers to a 6-day event, but an event celebrated by 6 days of ordering. In other words, while the days are
literal actual days, the text is not referring the beginning of the universe. I realize that this is a difficult concept to grasp, but we have to look at the entire text and how the audience would have received it in order to ascertain the correct meaning.