Creation | Interpreting Genesis
This is an article about creation in the Scriptures; Interpreting Genesis
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SEE NOTES AND SKETCH : Genesis 1:1-2
Exegetical Patterns and Emphasis in this Doctrine:
- There are no exegetical tags for this doctrine yet.
Chaos and wasteland are together too pejorative/strong to aptly translate tohuvabohu (but not as far off as many would think)
Elohim is conjugated in the singular
How is tohu (and rarely bohu) translated elsewhere in the Tanach?
**lemma:תֹּ֫הוּ (The Lexham English Bible Lexham Hebrew Bible )**
Now the earth was formless and empty, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
וְהָאָ֗רֶץ הָיְתָ֥ה תֹ֙הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ וְחֹ֖שֶׁךְ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י תְה֑וֹם וְר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֔ים מְרַחֶ֖פֶת עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הַמָּֽיִם׃
He found him in a desert land, and in a howling, desert wasteland; he encircled him, he cared for him, he protected him like the apple of his eye.
יִמְצָאֵ֙הוּ֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִדְבָּ֔ר וּבְתֹ֖הוּ יְלֵ֣ל יְשִׁמֹ֑ן יְסֹֽבְבֶ֙נְהוּ֙ יְב֣וֹנְנֵ֔הוּ יִצְּרֶ֖נְהוּ כְּאִישׁ֥וֹן עֵינֽוֹ׃
1 Sam 12:21
And do not turn aside after the triviality, which have no value and cannot deliver, for they are triviality.
וְלֹ֖א תָּס֑וּרוּ כִּ֣י׀ אַחֲרֵ֣י הַתֹּ֗הוּ אֲשֶׁ֧ר לֹֽא־יוֹעִ֛ילוּ וְלֹ֥א יַצִּ֖ילוּ כִּי־תֹ֥הוּ הֵֽמָּה׃
The paths of their way wind around; they go up into the wasteland, and they perish.
יִ֭לָּ֣פְתוּ אָרְח֣וֹת דַּרְכָּ֑ם יַעֲל֖וּ בַתֹּ֣הוּ וְיֹאבֵֽדוּ׃
He strips away the insight of the heads of the earth’s people, and he makes them wander in a pathless wasteland.
מֵסִ֗יר לֵ֭ב רָאשֵׁ֣י עַם־הָאָ֑רֶץ וַ֝יַּתְעֵ֗ם בְּתֹ֣הוּ לֹא־דָֽרֶךְ׃
He stretches out the north over emptiness; he hangs the earth over nothing.
נֹטֶ֣ה צָפ֣וֹן עַל־תֹּ֑הוּ תֹּ֥לֶה אֶ֝֗רֶץ עַל־בְּלִי־מָֽה׃
he pours contempt on princes and causes them to wander in a trackless waste.
שֹׁפֵ֣ךְ בּ֭וּז עַל־נְדִיבִ֑ים וַ֝יַּתְעֵ֗ם בְּתֹ֣הוּ לֹא־דָֽרֶךְ׃
The city of emptiness is broken; every house is shut so that no one can enter;
נִשְׁבְּרָ֖ה קִרְיַת־תֹּ֑הוּ סֻגַּ֥ר כָּל־בַּ֖יִת מִבּֽוֹא׃
those who mislead a person into sin with a word and set a trap for the arbitrator in the gate and guide away the righteous by emptiness.
מַחֲטִיאֵ֤י אָדָם֙ בְּדָבָ֔ר וְלַמּוֹכִ֥יחַ בַּשַּׁ֖עַר יְקֹשׁ֑וּן וַיַּטּ֥וּ בַתֹּ֖הוּ צַדִּֽיק׃
But the large bird and the hedgehog shall take possession of it, and the owl and the raven shall live in it. And he shall stretch the measuring line of confusion out over it, and the plumb line of emptiness.
וִירֵשׁ֙וּהָ֙ קָאַ֣ת וְקִפּ֔וֹד וְיַנְשׁ֥וֹף וְעֹרֵ֖ב יִשְׁכְּנוּ־בָ֑הּ וְנָטָ֥ה עָלֶ֛יהָ קַֽו־תֹ֖הוּ וְאַבְנֵי־בֹֽהוּ׃
All the nations are like nothing before him; they are counted by him as nothing and emptiness.
כָּל־הַגּוֹיִ֖ם כְּאַ֣יִן נֶגְדּ֑וֹ מֵאֶ֥פֶס וָתֹ֖הוּ נֶחְשְׁבוּ־לֽוֹ׃
the one who brings princes to nothing; he makes rulers of the earth like nothing.
הַנּוֹתֵ֥ן רוֹזְנִ֖ים לְאָ֑יִן שֹׁ֥פְטֵי אֶ֖רֶץ כַּתֹּ֥הוּ עָשָֽׂה׃
Look! All of them are deception; their works are nothing; their images are wind and emptiness.
הֵ֣ן כֻּלָּ֔ם אָ֥וֶן אֶ֖פֶס מַעֲשֵׂיהֶ֑ם ר֥וּחַ וָתֹ֖הוּ נִסְכֵּיהֶֽם׃
All those who form an idol are nothing, and their delightful things do not profit. And their witnesses do not see or know, so they will be ashamed.
יֹֽצְרֵי־פֶ֤סֶל כֻּלָּם֙ תֹּ֔הוּ וַחֲמוּדֵיהֶ֖ם בַּל־יוֹעִ֑ילוּ וְעֵדֵיהֶ֣ם הֵ֗ׄמָּׄהׄ בַּל־יִרְא֛וּ וּבַל־יֵדְע֖וּ לְמַ֥עַן יֵבֹֽשׁוּ׃
For thus says Yahweh, who created the heavens, he is God, who formed the earth and who made it. He himself established it; he did not create it as emptiness— he formed it for inhabiting. “I am Yahweh and there is none besides me.
כִּ֣י כֹ֣ה אָֽמַר־יְ֠הוָה בּוֹרֵ֨א הַשָּׁמַ֜יִם ה֣וּא הָאֱלֹהִ֗ים יֹצֵ֨ר הָאָ֤רֶץ וְעֹשָׂהּ֙ ה֣וּא כֽוֹנְנָ֔הּ לֹא־תֹ֥הוּ בְרָאָ֖הּ לָשֶׁ֣בֶת יְצָרָ֑הּ אֲנִ֥י יְהוָ֖ה וְאֵ֥ין עֽוֹד׃
I have spoken not in secrecy, in a place, a land, of darkness, I have not said to the descendants of Jacob, ‘Seek me in vain!’ I, Yahweh, am speaking righteousness, declaring uprightness.
לֹ֧א בַסֵּ֣תֶר דִּבַּ֗רְתִּי בִּמְקוֹם֙ אֶ֣רֶץ חֹ֔שֶׁךְ לֹ֥א אָמַ֛רְתִּי לְזֶ֥רַע יַעֲקֹ֖ב תֹּ֣הוּ בַקְּשׁ֑וּנִי אֲנִ֤י יְהוָה֙ דֹּבֵ֣ר צֶ֔דֶק מַגִּ֖יד מֵישָׁרִֽים׃
But I myself said, “I have labored in vain; I have used up my strength for nothing and vanity! Nevertheless, my justice is with Yahweh, and my reward is with my God.”
וַאֲנִ֤י אָמַ֙רְתִּי֙ לְרִ֣יק יָגַ֔עְתִּי לְתֹ֥הוּ וְהֶ֖בֶל כֹּחִ֣י כִלֵּ֑יתִי אָכֵן֙ מִשְׁפָּטִ֣י אֶת־יְהוָ֔ה וּפְעֻלָּתִ֖י אֶת־אֱלֹהָֽי׃
There is nobody who pleads with justice, and there is nobody who judges with honesty. They rely on nothing and speak vanity. They conceive trouble and beget iniquity;
אֵין־קֹרֵ֣א בְצֶ֔דֶק וְאֵ֥ין נִשְׁפָּ֖ט בֶּאֱמוּנָ֑ה בָּט֤וֹחַ עַל־תֹּ֙הוּ֙ וְדַבֶּר־שָׁ֔וְא הָר֥וֹ עָמָ֖ל וְהוֹלֵ֥יד אָֽוֶן׃
I looked at the earth, and behold, it was wasteland and emptiness, and to the heavens, and they were without their light.
רָאִ֙יתִי֙ אֶת־הָאָ֔רֶץ וְהִנֵּה־תֹ֖הוּ וָבֹ֑הוּ וְאֶל־הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ין אוֹרָֽם׃
Page . Exported from Logos Bible Software, 6:11 AM January 22, 2019.
Let's try to translate these verses
Genesis 1:1–2 (LHB)
1 בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃
2 וְהָאָ֗רֶץ הָיְתָ֥ה תֹ֙הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ וְחֹ֖שֶׁךְ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י תְה֑וֹם וְר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֔ים מְרַחֶ֖פֶת עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הַמָּֽיִם׃
1 in/at beginning/head he created (3rd masculine singular) elohim (subject of verb created) the heavens and the earth/land.
2 and/now the earth/land it was trackless/uninhabited and disordered/unordered and darkness was on the face of the Deep and Spirit/spirit of elohim it was brooding/hovering/fluttering-back-and-forth on the face of the waters.
Questions about Genesis 1:1-2
Does Genesis 1:1 read in the beginning God or the gods or a god created the heaven(s) and the earth?
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It's a linguistics question
In Genesis 1:2 could the 2 words translated "void and without form" be translated as "chaotic and a wasteland" instead?
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Like are these words more pejorative in the Hebrew than they are typically presented in English translations?
In Genesis 1:2 does it begin with the word "And" or the word "But"?
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Like, which conjunction is proper here contextually?
When we come to the word "was" in Genesis 1:2 (now the earth was...), is it properly translated "was"? Could it mean "became" or "came to be"?
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Like does the tense imply that creation is a "do-over"?
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Creation | Interpreting Genesis : Notes and Sketch
- Walton, John H. Creation in Genesis 1:1-2:3 and the Ancient Near East: Order out of Disorder after Chaoskampf. www.michaelsheiser.com/TheNakedBible/Creation%20in%20Gen%201%201%20to%202%203%20and%20the%20ANE%20Order%20out%20of%20DIsorder%20after%20Chaoskampf%20Walton.pdf.