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

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Thu Apr 13 14:20:02 EDT 2006

Dear Herman,

>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).

HH: If you are claiming that light was the first thing created, you 
are in difficulty with the text, which says that before the light, 
there was darkness over the surface of the deep. There were waters. 
So there were other things in existence prior to light.

Harold Holmyard

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