[b-hebrew] Genesis 1:2 - And the earth was without form, and void

Herman Meester crazymulgogi at gmail.com
Thu Apr 13 05:44:39 EDT 2006

Hello Schmuel,
A completely different viewpoint, but imho a very legitimate one
(there's been a nice controversy about this on this forum before) is
to reanalyse the syntax of Gen 1,1-3.
I don't think we should go over the entire discussion, but I'll just
give here a translation that represents the syntactic viewpoint of
Rashi, Ibn Ezra, the Stone Chumash, quite a few scholars I know in
Leiden, Alter's translation, etc.

"In the beginning of God's creating the heavens and the earth - when
the earth was astonishingly empty, with darkness upon the surface of
the deep, and the Divine Presence hovered upon the surface of the
waters - God said,  "Let there be light," and there was light.

As far as Hebrew syntax is concerned, this is, I think, the most
plausible analysis.
The result is that the first actual verb (as a predicate, not in a
circumstantial clause) is "[God] said". As we know, in Jewish
"theology" the simple act of God "speaking" is what creates, this is
the nicest analysis of this passage. The words "[b-reshit] bara" can't
really be the first predicate of the Tora, because it's a perfect (in
smichut), not an "imperfect consecutive"- form. The idea that "light",
rather than "heaven(s) and earth" was created first
is of course very symbolic, and a great image. It is actually a
scientific fact, too (for those who like to reconcile the biblical
account with the science of astronomy).

Rotterdam, NL, EU

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