Gen 1:1. Kermess

Joe Baker joebaker at
Wed Sep 6 08:36:53 EDT 2000

I have been following this discussion and really learning quite a bit from
it. I do not have the expertise that most of the participants have in
Biblical Hebrew but I would like to make a contribution.

I take Genesis 1:1 as an introduction (complementing the conclusion in
Genesis 2:1) which serves to set the stage for what was about to happen.

Somewhere along the way the use of br)$yt in Jer 26:1 was brought into the
discussion. (It is alao found in Jer 27:1, 28:1 and 49:34 - I agree with
those who see LXX Jeremiah as superior to MT Jeremiah. The only original
entry was at Jer 26:1 with the other references being added by the later MT
redactors - incorrectly in the case of Jer 27-28 as these chapters record
events of Zedekiah's 4th year, but correctly in dating Jer 49:34).

Similar terms occur in contemporary Babylonian texts as re$ $arrutu and in
Aramaic documents from Persian times as r)$ mlwkt). Today we call it the
accession year - a sort of year zero, in effect some part of the year
preceding the first year. (Some part, as it could extend from one day to a
whole year).

So in late monarchy time the passing of time was recorded as
br)$yt mmlkt, first [regal] year, second [regal] year, etc.,

So what is the significance of Genesis 1 recording the passing of time as
br)$yt, first day, second day. etc.,

Could the opening of Genesis be paraphrased
On the "day" before the first day of God creating the Heavens and the Earth
[the state of the universe was as follows -] the earth was.....

I use "day" in the sense that days (ie time) existed before the first day of
God's creation (and they were the usual "24 hours" in length), just as
previous years existed before the first year of a king's reign (and they
were the usual 12 or 13 lunar months in length).

The condition of the universe on that "day" appears to be a mixture of
earth, water, air and darkness with no indication as to whether these
already existed or had been created during day zero.  But it is possible
they already existed as a medium of habitation for God and the other divine
beings (whose existence is subsequently implied in the narrative).

Day one (as measured by day and night) began when God created light and then
separated light from darkness so as to divide the day into two separate
parts. But it wasn't until the fourth day that he created the moon and sun
to co-ordinate the appearance of each part.

Interestingly Ian in several posts has insisted that Genesis 1 starts the
day with the morning. IMO the story clearly starts the day with the evening.
That is each day begins with the evening and extends through the morning (to
the next evening). That is God creation efforts extended throughout the
entire "24 hour" day. That is on day X there was the following sequence
evening, [night], morning, [day]. The sixth day finished after the evening
and the morning of that day. God then rested on the seventh day - that is
beginning with the evening following the sixth morning.

The idea that the creation of light must heralded the morning is not implied
in the narrative where initially light and darkness were somehow "mixed" as
they had to be subsequently separated from one another.

Joe Baker ===========\
Perth                |
Western Australia ===/


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