creatio ex nihilo

Jonathan D. Safren yon_saf at
Sat Feb 3 04:00:15 EST 2001

I can't find my Machzor Kol-Bo, but Shlomo Tal, _Rinat Yisrael High Holiday
Prayer Book_, interprets the verse "only according to God's command". I too
have always understood the verse the way you did, and maybe that is the
correct interpretation, but in the 3rd line of the piyyut (medieval
liturgical poem), we read: hu' sax wayyehxi, wetsivvah wenivra'u, "He spoke
and it came to be, and he commanded and they were created", which is a
reiteration of the Rabbinic doctrine of beria'ah bema'amar, "creation by the
word", equivalent to creatio ex nihilo. Actually both hemistichs are taken
from Psalm somewhere.

Jonathan D. Safren
Dept. of Biblical Studies
Beit Berl College
44905 Israel
----- Original Message -----
From: "Lewis Reich" <LBR at>
To: "Biblical Hebrew" <b-hebrew at>
Sent: Saturday, February 03, 2001 5:55 AM
Subject: Re: creatio ex nihilo

> On 2 Feb 01, at 20:46, Jonathan D. Safren wrote:
> > Creatio ex nihilo also appears in Jewish tradition. "creation by word"
> > (beri'ah be-ma'amar) is one way of putting it; "Hanging the world on
> > nothing "(toleh erets al belimah) is another.
> I've never happened to look at the commentaries on that phrase, but I've
> somehow always assumed that "hanging the world on nothing" meant that
> the world was neither hung from nor supported by any other material object
> (e.g. neither Atlas nor a turtle undernearth, no string suspending it from
> something above).  How is the phrase interpreted to support ex nihilo?
> Lewis Reich
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