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

Lisbeth S. Fried lizfried at umich.edu
Mon Apr 17 09:19:31 EDT 2006

Dear Steve, Schmuel, et. al.
I haven't been following this thread, so I apologize if this has already
been said. These verses have been explained by Rashi, and for all his
faults, he was a wonderful grammarian. The significance of the "and" which
begins verse 2 is not important of itself. What is important is that the
"and" is connected not to a verb, but to a noun, vha'aretz haita tohu vbohu.
"Now the earth was at that time astonishingly empty..." (Rashi's
translation.)Rashi states we do not have a description of creation here, the
earth, the water all existed prior to the events described in Gen. 1:1.] 

When the biblical text writes a sentence SVO (subject verb object), then
that verb must be translated into the pluperfect. It is the biblical text's
way of conveying this tense (which is now lost to modern Hebrew). Thus,
sentences which begin "and SVO" do not move the narrative forward at all.
These sentences describe conditions which exist at the same time or which
precede the previous sentence. 
You can see this construction many places. Gen. 3:1, "Now the snake was (at
that time)sneakier than all other animals."
Or "Now Adam had known his wife Hava, and she had conceived and had borne
Cain." Rashi states that Adam and Eve had been having intercourse in the
garden, and that she had conceived and had borne Cain before the expulsion. 
Thus, "and" + VSO moves the narrative. "and" + SVO does not move the
narrative forward and should be translated by the pluperfect.
That is the strict grammar according to Rashi, and I think he's right. Not
all the rabbis agree with him, however, but I think it's theology that makes
them and us want to deviate.
Liz Fried
Ann Arbor
> -----Original Message-----
> schmuel Sent: Wednesday, April 12, 2006 11:28 PM
> #1
> The conjunction 'and' is not in the Hebrew coming from verse one,
> and some folks claim it really should be the adverb
>      'now' -  (At this point in the series of events; then)
> Honestly, I don't have the gist of why they think this 'now' 'is
> significant,
> I think it has something to do with a pre-Adamic race, or a gap theory
> (although how it helps those theories I haven't yet figgered out)
> but that is not the issue anyway.
> --------------------------------------------------------------
> As already said by others, verse 2 does begin with "and".
> The reason the "and" is significant is because it disallows an
> like: "In the beginning, when God was creating the heavens and the earth,
> the earth was without form and void."
> Another understanding that the "and" does not allow is to take verse 1 as
> heading over the chapter, with verse 2 as the 1st action:
> I. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
>    A. The earth was without form and void
>    B. Darkness was over the deep.
>    ....
> The "and" tells us that verse 2 happened after verse 1.
> The "and" serves in lieu of punctuation in Biblical Hebrew, and indicates
> the structure of the text. I do not like translations where the translator
> has given himself the liberty to ignore the "and"s.
> The KJB & Darby respect "and" the most of English translations, which is
> reason I like them the best for OT. From my limited experience with the
> it seems to me that the LXX respects the "and"'s even more.
> An argument in favor of throwing away "and"'s is that the book of Jonah
> begins with "and", and Jonah does not continue any other book. I think
> is still significant there. Jonah is the only book in the OT concerned
> God's mercy to the Gentiles, so it is something additional to the rest of
> the OT revelation.
> "Gap theory" simply stated, without other extraneous theories added in:
> Bible does not say that the heavens and the earth are 6,000 years old.
> years begins with God saying, "Let there be light" in verse 3. But verses
> and 2 happened before that, and the Bible does not tell us when. Mankind
> the present living land animals, however, are 6,000 years old.
> -Steve Miller,
> Detroit
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