Gen 1:1, Rashi

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at
Thu Sep 7 21:02:32 EDT 2000

Dear Bryan,

OK, maybe not so rare. But your analysis is a quite different one, nothing
like Rashi's which had verses 1-2 as clauses dependent on verse 3 as a main
verb. But you are taking verse 1 as an independent sentence. In fact what
you come up with is not very different from the "traditional" understanding
by which I mean "In the beginning God created...", especially since you are
making your regular change of qatal forms to "was a doer".

But how are you actually parsing this sentence? Do you see BARA) as a verb
or as a noun? I don't think it can really be both at the same time, though I
could be persuaded if you can show me other examples of any form acting at
the same time as both a noun at the end of a construct chain and as a finite
verb! (Even in any other language!) I accept that it might be possible to
supply "is" to an otherwise verbless clause, and I suppose that you could
argue that something like that must happen in Isaiah 6:1 (see my separate
posting) if you want to keep the WAYYIQTOL as the start of a new sentence.
But that really does seem forced, much more so than the traditional

Peter Kirk

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bryan Rocine" <brocine at>
To: "Peter Kirk" <Peter_Kirk at>; "Biblical Hebrew"
<b-hebrew at>
Sent: Tuesday, September 05, 2000 9:55 PM
Subject: Re: Gen 1:1, Rashi

> Hi Peter,
> Maybe not so rare.  Maybe just an understanding of the qatal
> form and qatal clauses that is not mainstream thinking
> nowadays.  See my note to Liz.  I am not sure what you mean
> by saying that vayyo'mer is not sentence initial.  I would
> take the qatal clause as an independent sentence, like a
> noun clause.  I would express the notions of the  Gen 1
> clauses as follows:
> a. It was in the beginning that God was Creator of the
> heavens and the earth.
> b.  But the earth had become tohu and bohu.
> c.  At the time, darkness was on the surface of the deep.
> d.  At the time, the Spirit of Elohim was hovering above the
> surface of the waters.
> e.  Then God said...
> you wrote:
> > Maybe I was misled by Liz interpreting Rashi this way. So
> Rashi's
> > interpretation depends on a very rare grammatical
> construction rather than a
> > textual emendation, plus the even rarer
> non-sentence-initial WAYYIQTOL in
> > verse 3.
> >
> > Peter Kirk
> Shalom,
> Bryan
> B. M. Rocine
> Associate Pastor
> Living Word Church
> 6101 Court St. Rd.
> Syracuse, NY 13206
> (office) 315-437-6744
> (home) 315-479-8267

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