[b-hebrew] THW WBHW was Question about Gen 1:1-2

James Read J.Read-2 at sms.ed.ac.uk
Thu Jul 23 18:36:16 EDT 2009

Hi Karl,

interesting stuff Karl.

> Part of the argument for the gap theory comes from the meaning of THW WBHW
> תהו ובהו . BHW is used only three times in Tanakh, and always with THW.

Yeah. I already knew this. Could this not be indicative that THW WBHW  
as a phrase represents a very specific idiom that is not completely  
dictated by the full semantic range of meaning of its individual  

> THW does not mean “formless”, as it is used describe carved idols which are
> anything but formless Isaiah 44:9. That and a few other places where people
> put their trust on that which is THW with the context implying that they are
> idols indicates that what is meant is lifeless (idols are lifeless, unable
> to act) and not “formless”. In contrast, YHWH is the living God, who acts
> into history.

Interesting. I wonder if in Hebrew the semantic domains of lifeless  
and formless have some kind of overlap. We could compare how man was  
made in God's image.

> As far as I can tell, BHW refers to stillness, contrasted with the hubbub of
> a crowd.

What makes you think that? Have you come across any contexts which use  
such a contrastive sense?

What do you think about the value of the LXX and the vulgate translations?:

inanis et vacua
ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατασκεύαστος

I suppose we could argue that LXX is a bad translation and that Jerome  
was just copying it, not being as familiar with Hebrew as he claimed.  
But still, it's evidence we can't ignore completely.

Does anybody know how the Peshitta translates this?

James Christian

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