The First Creation Story Genesis 1:1-2:3 – Part 1

Firstly, the Bible (βίβλος ), meaning Book or Bible is like a library a  Βιβλιοθήκη (adjective)containing bookcases or shelves βιβλιοθήκη (Noun) within which are the various forms of literature contained in the Bible. There are 6 Types of Literature in the Bible

These are:

  1. Law. When God set Israel apart as His people, He gave them commands for how to live, worship, and govern.
  2. History. Historical literature relates actual events. …
  3. Poetry. Poetry may seem dry as dirt in a drought. …
  4. Prophecy. God chose to speak warning and make promises to His people through His prophets. …
  5. Genealogy. …

Since we are looking at the first Story of Creation, we are dealing with poetry within a Book which is part of the 5 books of the Torah – the Law.

There are two creation stories in the book of Bereishit (Genesis) The First Creation Story Genesis 1:1-2:3 and the second one: Genesis 2:4-end.

The First Creation Story Genesis 1:1-2:3

The first one, (Genesis 1:1-2:3) a general story of the orderly manner in which god Shaped the world and the second,(2:4-end) earlier story concerning the specific Creation of Adam and Eve and expulsion from the Garden

Scholars tell us that the first Creation story was the later of the two, the priestly authors of Genesis 1, who wrote approximately 500–400 BCE, were more concerned with the establishing of destiny than with the beginnings of matter (the substance that God fashioned into the habitable cosmos).  This was still the case in the early second century CE, though early Christian scholars began to see a tension between the idea of world-formation and God’s omnipotence, but by the beginning of the third century, this tension had been resolved, world-formation had been overcome, and creation ex nihilo had become a fundamental tenet of Christian theology. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genesis_1:1

This first account is also known for its similarity to an Akkadian Creation Story discovered at Nineveh: Archaeologists were excavating King Ashurbanipal’s (668-627 B.C.) library in the ancient city of Nineveh in the mid-nineteenth century. They unearthed thousands of clay tablets written in Akkadian, an ancient language (a distant and much older cousin to Hebrew). These tablets included legislation, administrative documents, and literature. It was like opening a time capsule to observe what life was like 3,000 to 4,000 years ago in the ancient Near East.

A Babylonian creation narrative known today as Enuma Elish was discovered among the remains. It’s the story of a severely dysfunctional divine family at the dawn of time who are embroiled in a tremendous power struggle. The story’s heart is where the god Marduk kills his rival Tiamat and then splits her body in half, creating the sky from one half and the earth from the other. As a result, Marduk claims the throne as the pantheon’s high deity.

Enuma Elish has been dubbed the “Babylonian Genesis” by scholars. The reason for this is that both stories contain several instantly obvious elements. Read at Genesis 1 and a Babylonian Creation Story – Articles – BioLogos

When I was studying Scripture at University, we were taught that in literary style, this first account, forms a poem of 7 verses, each beginning “And God said, “Let there…and ending “And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.” Finishing with an epilogue “2Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so, on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” ( the following link takes us to a document which utilises the Hebrew literary/grammatical format of both accounts xgen1_1-2_3.PDF (inthebeginning.org), referring to the 7 as paragraphs and emphasising the significance of the numeral 7, later in our studies we will deal with Hebrew sentence forms and Gematria(alphabetical numerology.)

Now we’ll look at some of the Scripture:

Most importantly we are not dealing with Science but Poetical Narrative:

1In the beginning of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth. ( Read Universe)

2Now the earth was astonishingly empty, and darkness was on the face of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the water.

“In the beginning’ is the word” ‘Bereishit’ from which the book takes its name. The state of the earth was a shapeless mass, dark, empty with god’s spirit hovering above the water. (Chabad) uses the word ‘astonishingly’ Similes: ‘amazingly, surprisingly, astoundingly, shockingly, bewilderingly)’, as though there ought to have been something there, other than chaos?

There was – [ and the spirit of God was hovering: The Throne of Glory was suspended in the air and hovered over the face of the water with the breath of the mouth of the Holy One, blessed be He and with His word, like a dove, which hovers over the nest, acoveter in Old French, to cover, hover over. Rashi]

3. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4. And God saw the light that it was good, and God separated (He saw it that it was good, and it was unseemly that it [light] and darkness should serve in confusion; so He established for this one its boundary by day, and for that one its boundary by night. Rashi ) between the light and between the darkness.5. And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night, and it was evening and it was morning, one day.

6. And God said, “Let there be an expanse (Let there be an expanse: Let the expanse be strengthened, for, although the heavens were created on the first day, they were still moist, and they solidified on the second [day] from the rebuke of the Holy One, blessed be He, when He said, “Let there be an expanse.” This is what Scripture says (Job 26:11): “The pillars of the heavens trembled” the entire first day, and on the second day: “They were astonished by His rebuke,” like a person who stands in astonishment because of the rebuke of the one who frightens him. [Genesis Rabbah 12:10] in the midst of the water, (in the midst of the water: In the middle of the water (Targum), for there is a separation between the upper waters and the expanse, as there is between the expanse and the waters that are on the earth. Behold you have learned that they are suspended by the word of the King. — [Gen. Rabbah 4:3]) and let it be a separation between water and water.” 7And God made the expanse and it separated between the water that was below the expanse and the water that was above the expanse, and it was so. [Now why does it not say, “that it was good” on the second day? Because the work involving the water was not completed until the third day, although He commenced it on the second day, and an unfinished thing is not in its fullness and its goodness; and on the third day, when He completed the work involving the water and He commenced and completed another work, He repeated therein “that it was good” twice (sic): once for the completion of the work of the second day and once for the completion of the work of that [third] day. — [Gen. Rabbah 4:6] 8. And God called the expanse Heaven, and it was evening, and it was morning, a second day.

Okay-it will be tedious to proceed this way, yet what we have noticed is that, because of the Nature of the Hebrew, there is more commentary than Scripture. And Hebrew like Arabic delights in grammar.

I think it important to copy in the entry regarding the luminaries because the exact timing of light and illumination are often misunderstood, and some are won’t to say that Night and Day were not created until the fourth day.

And God said, “Let there be luminaries in the expanse of the heavens, to separate between the day and between the night, and they shall be for signs and for appointed seasons and for days and years.

Let there be luminaries, etc.: They were created on the first day, and on the fourth day, He commanded them to be suspended in the sky, and likewise, all the creations of heaven and earth were created on the first day, and each one was fixed in its proper place on the day that was decreed upon it. That is why it is written: “with the heavens (אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם) to include their products,” and with the earth (וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ),” to include its products. — [Gen. Rabbah 1:14]

Let there be luminaries: Heb., יְהִי מְאֹרֹת It [the word, מְאֹרֹת is written without a“vav,” [thus, the word can be מְאֵרֹת meaning curses] because it [the fourth day] is a cursed day when children become ill with croup. This is what we learned (Ta’anith 27b): “on the fourth day [of the week], they [the men of the ma’amad] would fast so that children should not become ill with croup.”

to separate between the day and between the night: (This happened) after the first light was hidden away, but during the seven (another reading: during the three) days of Creation, the primordial light and darkness served together, both by day and by night. — [Medrah Yelammedenu , as quoted in Yalkut Shim’oni] According to the Ramban and early editions of Rashi , it appears that the reading, “during the seven days of Creation,” is the authentic reading. Ramban , however quotes the Genesis Rabbah , which states that the original primordial light served only during the first three days, until the sun and the moon were suspended in the sky. After that, the primordial light was hidden away, as in Rashi to verse 4. Note also that several early manuscripts and printed editions of Rashi read: “but in the seven days of Creation, the primordial light and darkness served, this one by day and this one by night.” This is also the reading of Mizrachi, and it appears more accurate than our reading, because, in fact, the light and the darkness did not serve together, as Rashi explains in verse 4.]

and they shall be for signs: When the luminaries are eclipsed, it is an unfavorable omen for the world, as it is said (Jer. 10:2): “and from the signs of the heaven be not dismayed, etc.” When you perform the will of the Holy One, blessed be He, you need not fear retribution. — [from Succah 29a]

and for appointed seasons: This refers to the future when the Israelites are destined to be commanded concerning the festivals and they [the festivals] are reckoned from the first phase of the moon. — [from Gen. Rabbah 6:1].and for days: The sun serves for half a day, and the moon for half of it, so that you have a full day.

and years: At the end of 365 days (other editions: and a 1/4 of a day) they complete their revolution through the twelve constellations of the zodiac, which serve them, and that constitutes a year. (Other editions read: and that is 365 and 1/4 days), and they return and start a second time to revolve on the sphere like their first revolution.

Proceeding to complete the account I believe I discover an orderly, account of blank verse wherein humanity, enters stage right at verse 26:

And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and they shall rule over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the heaven and over the animals and over all the earth and over all the creeping things that creep upon the earth.”

27And God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (N.B. At this time humanity bears both the image and likeness of God – this is important-both male and female are equal in the eyes of God, both bear God’s image and likeness)

28And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the sky and over all the beasts that tread upon the earth. “(to be Viceroys or Caretakers)

29And God said, “Behold, I have given you every seed bearing herb, which is upon the surface of the entire earth, and every tree that has seed bearing fruit; it will be yours for food. (Initially humanity and fauna were vegetarian – no blood of any kind was shed)

30And to all the beasts of the earth and to all the fowl of the heavens, and to everything that moves upon the earth, in which there is a living spirit, every green herb to eat,” and it was so.

31And God saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good, and it was evening and it was morning, the sixth day.

Now the heavens and the earth were completed and all their host. ( The Universes now exist in completion all set to progress for God did not create or shape a static entity, but, as the Priests stress Matter with a future

2And God completed on the seventh day His work that He did, and He abstained on the seventh day from all His work that He did.

3And God blessed the seventh day and He hallowed it, for thereon He abstained from all His work that God created to do. (Is God still resting? We are still in that seventh day, what does it speak to us of the relationship between hard work and rest?)

Scripture and Commentary from:

Bereishit – Genesis – Chapter 1 (Parshah Bereishit) – Tanakh Online – Torah – Bible (chabad.org)

Bereishit – Genesis – Chapter 2 (Parshah Bereishit) – Tanakh Online – Torah – Bible (chabad.org)

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