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

Liz Fried lizfried at
Wed Aug 30 13:40:49 EDT 2000

According to Rashi and the Rabbis:
"If you wish to explain it in its plain sense, explain it thus:

"At the beginning of the creation of heaven and earth when the earth was
without form and void and there was darkness, God said, "Let there be

According to the rabbis and Rashi, bereshit is in the construct state, and
the verb bara must be translated as if it were baro (creating). They give
reasons by citing similar
constructions from the rest of the bible.
Rashi then says:
"IF it is so (that you assert that this verse intends to point out that
heaven and earth were created first) you should be astonished at yourself,
because as a matter of fact the waters were created before heaven and earth,
for, lo, it is written (vs2) The Spirit of God was hovering on the face of
the waters, and scripture had nt yet disclosed when the creation of the
waters took place -- consequently you must learn from this that the creation
of the waters preceded that of the earth. ... Therefore you must needs admit
that the text teaches nothing about the earlier or later sequence of the
acts of Creation."
Rashi concludes that the water had already been created based on the
syntatical rule that when, in a narrative, an imperfect with vau conversive
is followed by a perfect, it has a pluperfect sense,t he action it describes
having taken place previous to the event mentioned immediately before it.
IF the water already existed, then too the earth which it covered.

So Rashi. I learned that when the perfect is SVO, you should say
"meanwhile," or "at that time."  This is also Gesenius.
I didn't make this up, folks.

The NT writers, including the author of Hebrews, read the OT in the LXX.
According to the Greek, you have creatio ex nihilo. The Greek is different.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ben Crick [mailto:ben.crick at]
> Sent: Wednesday, August 30, 2000 1:02 PM
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: RE: Gen 1:1 "When God began to create"?
> On Tue 29 Aug 2000 (22:30:55), lizfried at wrote:
> > The Hebrew Bible does not have creatio ex nihilo.
>  That's a very sweeping statement. Creation /ex nihilo/ is the
> *implication* of
>  Gen 1:1. BaRa' is used of creation /ex nihilo/; `a&aH and YaTSa'
> are possibly
>  used of new creatures made of newly existent raw material.
> B:ReY$iYT implies
>  that there was "nothing there" before the "beginning". Psalm 33:6 and 9
>  clearly imply creation ex nihilo by the Word of the LORD, by his
> breath, his
>  statements, and his commandments. If we may include Hebrews 11:3 in the
>  "Hebrew Bible" (leaving aside all the other relevant parts of the New
>  Testament), "by faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's
>  command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible" MH EK
>  The New Testament leaves us in no doubt; but this is not the
> forum for that
>  discussion.
>  Shalom
>  Ben
> --
>  Revd Ben Crick, BA CF
>  <ben.crick at>
>  232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK)
> ---
> You are currently subscribed to b-hebrew as: lizfried at
> To unsubscribe, forward this message to
> $subst('Email.Unsub')
> To subscribe, send an email to join-b-hebrew at

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list