Jonathan D. Safren yon_saf at
Fri Feb 2 11:33:27 EST 2001

The question of creation ex nihilo doesn't seem yo me to be related. Aside
from which, from the first few verses, we learn that there was already
matter, but it was all mixed up (tohu wa-vohu)  and after God "Turns on the
light" so that he can see to work, the first thing he does is to separate
between the water and the dry land, I.e., the materials already exist. The
Rabbis in the Aggadah, sensing the difficulty here, claimed that God had
created many worlds and destroyed them (Ithinkm can't exactly remember that
last part) before finally creating this one.
In any caase, creatio ex nihilo seems to be out of the question.
And, in any case, "In the beginning of God's creating" and "When God began
to create" don't necessarily point to different primordial states.
Jonathan D. Safren
Dept. of Biblical Studies
Beit Berl College
44905 Israel
----- Original Message -----
From: "Ashley Crane" <acrane at>
To: "Biblical Hebrew" <b-hebrew at>
Sent: Friday, February 02, 2001 4:38 PM
Subject: Re: begin-title/end-title

> Hi Jonathan
> It all depends on if one sees BARA as the same as ex-nilo ...
> Ashley
> > Same thing, no?
> > Jonathan D. Safren
> > >
> > > Others have it - In the beginning of God's creating...
> > > > in Gen. 1:1. There, the first words should be understood as "When
> > > began to create. So already Rashi, later Umberto Cassuto and many
> moderns.
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