1 In the beginning God ([a]Elohim) [b]created [by forming from nothing] the heavens and the earth.2 The earth was [c]formless and void or a waste and emptiness, and darkness was upon the face of the deep [primeval ocean that covered the unformed earth]. The Spirit of God was moving (hovering, brooding) over the face of the waters. 3 And God said, [d]“Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good (pleasing, useful) and[e]He affirmed and sustained it; and God separated the light [distinguishing it] from the darkness.5 And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was [f]evening and there was [g]morning, one day.
6 And God said, “Let there be an [h]expanse [of the sky] in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters [below the expanse] from the waters [above the expanse].” 7 And God made the expanse [of sky] and separated the waters which were under the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so [just as He commanded]. 8 God called the expanse [of sky] heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
9 Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place [of standing, pooling together], and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 10 God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that this was good (pleasing, useful) and He affirmed and sustained it. 11 So God said, “Let the earth sprout [tender] [i]vegetation, [j]plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit according to (limited to, consistent with) their kind, whose seed is in them upon the earth”; and it was so. 12 The earth sprouted and abundantly produced vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, according to their kind; and God saw that it was good and He affirmed and sustained it. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.
Genesis 1:1This is originally a plural form based on el (root meaning: strength), which itself is used to refer to God in compounds like El Shaddai (Almighty God). The word el is also used to refer to false gods, so the context determines whether Elohim means “God” or is better understood as “gods” (elohim).
Genesis 1:1Heb bara. Here and in 1:21, God created from nothing which is something only He can do. In 1:27, God used preexisting materials (man from the dust of the ground; Eve from Adam’s rib); each use of the word bara (“create”) must be considered in its specific context.
Genesis 1:2The Hebrew text here has two rhyming words, tohu and bohu, which have similar meanings of “wasteness” and “emptiness.” The construction is a figure of speech called hendiadys, in which two words are used together to express the same idea. The meaning is that the earth had no clearly discernible features at this point in creation but essentially was a mass of raw materials. This proves to be very important from philosophical and scientific viewpoints, because it documents the fact that the raw matter of the earth—and by extension, of the universe—did not coexist eternally with God, but was created by Him ex nihilo (Latin “out of nothing”).
Genesis 1:3This is not in the imperative mood (the ordinary grammatical form for a command), but God willed these creative events into existence. It is the voluntative mood in Hebrew. This translates, “It is My will that this happen.” English does not have the voluntative mood, which includes the jussive and cohortative forms. When “let” is used in this way, it represents a command not in the imperative mood, but rather an expression of God’s will, the jussive form. God literally commanded (willed) the world into existence.
Genesis 1:4“He affirmed and sustained it” is understood (deduced) from the context. The italic “and” alerts the reader or student of Hebrew that the word or words that follow are amplifications not found in the Hebrew text itself, but implied by it or by contextual factors.
Genesis 1:5The Hebrew word translated “evening” indicates dusk or sunset.
Genesis 1:5The Hebrew word translated “morning” indicates the time when it is getting light (dawn).
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