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

Liz Fried lizfried at
Wed Aug 30 23:24:10 EDT 2000

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Peter Kirk [mailto:Peter_Kirk at]
> Sent: Wednesday, August 30, 2000 7:53 PM
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: Gen 1:1 "When God began to create"?
> Thank you, Liz, for your detailed explanation of what Rashi
> actually wrote,
> which doesn't quite agree with previous claims of his support for
> different
> interpretations. I will comment here only on the Hebrew grammar involved,
> not on the interpretation drawn from it.
> So Rashi's interpretation is different from any which we have looked at
> before, including the one you proposed. In his interpretation, the first
> main verb is not the HAYETAH of verse 2 but the WAYYO'MER of verse 3, and
> the whole of verses 1 and 2 is a complex adverbial phrase of time. If I
> remember rightly from what we discussed some time ago, it is not
> unprecedented, though rare, for an adverbial phrase to precede a WAYYIQTOL
> verb which it modifies, in which case the W- does not have
> copulative force.

Yes, I think this is right. But this implies that the first positive act
occurs when
God speaks and says let there be light. Everything before that is adverbial
the time when. So, yes, this is Rashi's view.

> (By contrast, your proposal is much less likely as it requires a
> constituent
> order adverbial-phrase W-subject QATAL, which is otherwise unattested or
> very nearly so.) But with Rashi's proposal there is a grammatical problem
> with the HAYETAH, as this cannot be an infinitive or even a
> participle; but
> I suppose the whole of verse 2 could be taken as parenthetical.
I guess it's at the same time as vs 1, but remember, Rashi changes the
bara to an infinite absolute, baro(.
> But I don't understand the part about "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." This doesn't seem to be the
> situation here.
Sorry, I'm incorrect here, I copied this from the wrong place. This applies
to a different verse, sorry. Forget this. I should have checked it more
carefully. Count it as haplography or my getting hungry for dinner or


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