[b-hebrew] Question about Gen 1:1-2

Harold Holmyard hholmyard3 at earthlink.net
Thu Jul 23 19:42:23 EDT 2009

>> From: Harold Holmyard
>> Sent: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 11:40 PM
>> HH: Yes, the verb can mean "was" or "became," but the best current
>> scholarly thinking discounts the Gap Theory. One reason for this is that
>> the sentence starts with the noun subject, which suggests that the
>> statement is giving attendant circumstances. The second clause seems
>> clearly to be doing this. It is verbless, implying "and darkness was
>> over the surface of the deep." The third clause is the same way. It,
>> too, is verbless, except for a participle, saying that "the Spirit of
>> God was hovering over the surface of the water." In Hebrew when the
>> clause starts with a noun and is verbless, it often is giving attendant
>> circumstance. Here the attendant circumstances are to the fact that God
>> created the heavens and earth. Since the last two clauses seem to be
>> circumstantial, it is natural if the first clause is also
>> circumstantial: "the earth was empty and void." This general description
>> shows the starting point from which God's actions will develop the
>> world. Other scholars may take a different position, but that is what I
>> understand it to be saying.
> [Steve Miller] When a sentence starts with "and <noun>" as in Gen 1:2, it
> often indicates a break in the narrative as in Gen 2:5; 3:1; 4:1. The vast
> majority of the sentences in narrative begin "and <verb>".

HH: Yes, it's a break that gives circumstantial information, background 

> I thought that the 2nd and 3rd clauses of Gen 1:2 being verbless, just meant
> that they inherit the verb from the 1st clause. I thought this was very
> common in Biblical Hebrew.

HH: There's no need to assume such an inheriting. Verbless clauses are 
standard in Hebrew.

Harold Holmyard

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