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.
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.
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