Gen 1:1 "When God began to create"?

Liz Fried lizfried at
Tue Aug 29 22:30:55 EDT 2000

 -----Original Message-----
> From: Peter Kirk [mailto:Peter_Kirk at]
> Sent: Tuesday, August 29, 2000 6:56 PM
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: Gen 1:1 "When God began to create"?

> Here is an attempt to recreate the Hebrew ambiguity in English, in an
> over-simplified way. A ridiculously over-literal translation of
> 1:1-2 could
> go something like:
> In the beginning of God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth
> was/became formless and void...
May I suggest:
At the beginning of God's creating skies and land the land was unpopulated
and a wind from God soared over the ocean.

I'd like to point out (tho no one has disputed this as yet) that the land
and sea were already there prior to the beginning of God's creative
The phrase "veha(aretz hayita tohu ve bohu" is in the pluperfect.
In narrative Hebrew, if the verb comes before the subject (VSO), the
narration is moved along. If the subject comes first (SVO), then the action
of that clause comes *before*
the action of the main clause. This was pointed out by Rashi and also
The Hebrew Bible does not have creatio ex nihilo.

Also, I think the use of the phrase in Jeremiah indicates that "unpopulated"
is a better translation of tohu ve bohu than "unformed and void."


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