In the Beginning

In the beginning    (an in depth look)

The traditional translation of the first verse of Genesis is: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

In Hebrew it reads “bereshit bara elohim et hashamayim v’et ha’aretz.” The very first word ‘bereshit’ is unusual in Hebrew as it literally means – in the beginning of. Of what? It is not grammatically correct. This leads us to ask why? The scholar Rashi points out that the word should be understood spiritually, not grammatically. In other words the world was created but has never stopped being created. There is something else that is very unusual about this word.

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The first letter of ‘bereshit’ is enlarged and has been for as long as the rabbis of old knew. It was the subject of intense debate as every nuance of Hebrew was. Hebrew has never had capital letters and every letter follows a similar height. After long discussions the conclusion they came to was that as the letter was a ‘beit’ (the second letter of the alphabet) and there was a word which was also ‘beit’ meaning house that what God was doing in creation was building a house in order for Him to come down to dwell amongst His people. It was highlighted so that someone could devise the meaning. The second letter, however, is a ‘reish’ and in Hebrew you can legitimately seek other words within a word to enhance meanings. Placing a ‘beit’ and a ‘reish’ together forms the word ‘bar’ which means son. Could it be that actually God was creating a place/house for His son to come down to dwell amongst His people. This would seem to tie in with Jesus coming back to reign on the earth in the Millenium.


The second word is ‘bara’ which actually means to create out of nothing and the third word is ‘Elohim’ which is the first name of God revealed in Scripture. Elohim is a plural word and is associated with God as a covenant keeping God.


The little word ‘et’ has no meaning but is a preposition to a noun that is the object of a sentence. The other small word ‘v’et’ is the same but preceded by and. Hashamayim is an unusual word. It is translated as heavens but literally means ‘the waters above’ Mayim means water. Creation scientists believe that a canopy of water surrounded the earth in the early years. ‘Ha ‘aretz’ is literally the earth.


The whole sentence is 7 words long. This, in Hebrew, is significant. It indicates that the sentence is complete in itself. In other words it is completely complete and nothing actually follows on from it otherwise it would not be a complete statement. It means that verse 2 is not just following on but forms a new thought. This understanding is corroborated by Derek Prince who was an expert in Biblical Hebrew and Greek.


Verse 2 reads, in Hebrew, ‘v’haaretz haytah tohu v’bohu v’khoshekh al-p’nei t’hovm v’ruakh elohim m’rakhefet al-p’nei hamayim.’ The first four words here are usually translated ‘and the earth was without form and void.’ It easily sounds as if it just carries on from the previous verse but in ancient Hebrew there is something deeper here. The phrase ‘tohu v’bohu’ literally means a scene of devastation causing the earth to look like it was a waste place. Isaiah 45 v 18 says: ‘Thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it., who has established it, who did not create it in vain (or a mess)..’ Here God says He did not form the earth like it is being described in verse 2. The phrase tohu v’bohu literally means a formless chaotic mess, emptiness and desolation, a howling waste, utter disarray. God then sets about re-making it. What caused the earth to be in such a state?


Does scripture give us any clues? Ezekiel 28 v 12 to 19 speaks of a word to the King of Tyre but the word is not to a human king. No human king was an anointed cherub.  Most experts now believe this passage is about Lucifer and who he was . He appeared to be ‘the anointed cherub who covers’. He was the worship leader on God’s holy mountain. In verse 13 it says he was in Eden, the garden of God but then he sinned. Verse 16 says he was filled with violence within and he was cast out of God’s mountain. It seemed that the earth and the garden were his abode .Could the iniquity of Lucifer have been the cause of God having to cleanse the earth at that time and wreak destruction on everything that Lucifer had touched. We cannot be certain but it does give some explanation whay the earth could have been in the state it was in.


Verse 2 also states that ‘darkness was on the face of the deep. The word for deep can be also translated as abyss but then in verse 3 God said ‘Let there be light.’ So began the restoration of all that was good in God’s creation. Restoration became the theme and God has been restoring ever since. He is the God of restoration. He created us in Hid image.


Dave Lings

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