We note that just as God is אחד echad (a complex unity), we are made as individuals יחד yachad (from the same root and carrying the same meaning but in the past tense). Iyov, the prophet Job explains this beautifully saying:
What we’ve learned so far:
God, HaShem, Yeshua, Ha-Ruach
Moshe (Moses), with collation and annotation of remaining events completed by Yehoshua (Joshua). It’s interesting to note the meanings of the Hebrew scribes’ names. Moshe (Draw forth) and Yehoshua, Yeshua (Salvation, the Lord’s Salvation). Creation is drawn forth from nothing, through Yeshua, the Lord’s Salvation for the purpose of creation’s redemption.
Approximately 1400 BCE.
Category, Style & Genre:
Historical, Instructional, from the Torah, the five books of Moses (בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis uses pictorial language and the occasional poetic phrase in the same way we use pictorial and poetic language in daily life, for the purpose of conveying factual information).
A Definition of Divine Inspiration and Human Penmanship:
The Word of God (Yeshua), imparted to and through a human being in whom God’s Ruach (Spirit) resides; the product of which is the convergence of truth communicated in both spoken and written form, for the purpose of transmitting to humanity, God’s will and purpose for all creation.
Note: Divine Inspiration is not dictation, channelling, auto-writing or any other form of mindless witchcraft. To the contrary, Divine Inspiration operates in relationship. Unlike the demonic spirits of auto-writing or channelling, God’s Spirit does not take over the wilfully blanked mind of the writer, but instead works in relationship to the writer.
“The רוח Ruach (Spirit) of יהוה HaShem (YHVH) spoke דבר-בי diber-biy in, through me; וּמִלָּתוֹ umilato and His (discourse, word, conversation) was on my tongue.”
שמואל ב 23:2
–2 Samuel 23:2 [Author’s translation]
“לִבְנֵי My leiv (Core being, heart) is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skilful writer.”
–Psalms 45:1 [Author’s translation]
The Basic Thematic Distinctions in Genesis:
• Primeval History
• Patriarchal History
Division of the Days of Creation:
Days of Forming Days of Filling
1) Light אור Or (v3) 4) Luminous Bodies מְאֹרֹת Meorot (v14)
2) Waters שָּׁמַיִם Shamayim, מַיִם Mayim (v7) 5) Every living thing in the sky waters & the earth waters מַיִם Mayim (v21)
3) Dry ground אֶרֶץ eretz (v9-11) 6) Every creature that fills the earth אֶרֶץ eretz, plants for food, humanity (v24-30)
Keeping in mind that in all Scripture interpretation we are reliant on the direction of the Holy Spirit, the illumination of the Rabbi Yeshua and the surrounding fidelity of the Father; we are not afraid of the suppositions presented by science, philosophy, art and so on. Any and every interpretation that agrees with the wider Biblical text of the Messianic Canon (Torah, Neviim, Ketuvim [OT] and Ha-Brit Ha-Chadashah [NT]), may be considered. However, only that which is stated in the plain meaning of the text, or, submits to the plain (p’shat) meaning through hint (remez), comparative meaning/halakhic principal (drash) and Divine mystery (sod), may be accepted as a reliable foundation upon which to build our theology in action (hagadah v’halakhah), the way we tell, the way we walk.
Hebraic Methods of Interpretation (PaRDeS):
P’shat: Plain meaning
Drash: Comparative meaning
Sod: Divine mystery
בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1:1-2:3 conveys the foundational truth that God, Who is all existing, created all that exists from nothing, ex nihilo. This stands in stark contrast to the many theories of the universe that seek to prove accidental creation or the eternal existence of the universe.
In בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1:1-2:3 the creation is described in broad terms but with interesting detail that shows (as one would expect from a divinely revealed text) that God was concerned not only with revealing a pictorial account but also an historical record that would stand up to the honest scientific and literary critique of humanity; not because He requires our affirmation but for the sake of our salvation.
בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis, the first book of the Torah, also begins the literal history of Israel, an ethnic people chosen by God and given a clear lineage that reaches back via Israel’s Patriarchs (Avraham, Yitzchak & Yaakov) to the first man Adam. Though it’s impossible to determine the time span covered by the genealogical listings of the Genesis text, due to the Hebrew practice of listing key figures in ancestral records and the ambiguous nature of the Hebrew, “ben, b’nai”, meaning, Son, Sons, children, grandson, grandsons, grandchild, ancestor etc; what we do know is that this genealogy is intended to be understood as an historical record leading from the inception of all things to the creation of a holy people, who have been chosen by God to transmit the Ketuvim (Writings) of God to future generations of both Jews (Hebrews) and the many other people groups of the world. Ultimately, this was intended to bring the Good News of redemption, which is first mentioned in בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 3:15.
Interpreting The Text:
בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1:1-2:3 (Translated from Hebrew by Yaakov ben Yehoshua)
1:1 In the beginning, creating from nothing בָּרָא bara, אֱלֹהִים Elohim made the waters of the sky, and He made the earth הָאָרֶץ ha’aretz:
Some English translations of Genesis translate the first composite Hebrew word of Genesis 1:1 “בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit” as, “When God began”. Though it’s true to say that in some cases the Hebrew prefix, “בְּ” can mean, “When”, the more common meanings are, “In the, on the”. Also, the better translation using, “When” would be, “When beginning” because the Generic Hebrew noun אֱלֹהִים Elohim (God) is used following the word רֵאשִית reishit (beginning). It seems far too obvious that the translation, “When God began” is attempting to promote an agenda that lends itself to scientific revisionism rather than intellectual honesty.
The Hebrew verb, בָּרָא bara (create from nothing: used only of God’s creative work) is singular, denoting the intense rather than plural nature of the first use of אֱלֹהִים Elohim (God).
The Hebrew, שָּׁמַיִם sh’mayim combines sky and waters. Although this is a clear reference to the heavens, it’s important that the components that make up this composite word are illuminated in order to show the legitimate truth of the elemental beginnings of the created order. In the context of Bereishit chapter 1 the Hebrew, הָאָרֶץ ha’aretz speaks of the entire mass of the earth.
This first verse begins a rhythm of God’s creative intention followed by His, for lack of a better phrase, hands on moulding of those elements created in הדבר ha-Davar the Word Essence of יהוה HaShem (John 1:1-2).
1:2 And the earth came into existence, desolate תֹהוּ tohu and vacant בהוּ bohu, and darkness חֹשֶׁךְ choshekh was over the face of deep, surging, subterranean waters, and רוּחַ Ruach the Spirit, Wind, Breath of אֱלֹהִים Elohim brooded (Like a mother eagle), relaxing, over the face of the waters.
At God’s command, and through His בָּרָא bara (creative action of God), all things come into existence. Some have suggested that there is a gap between verses 1 and 2 of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1, in which a heavenly catastrophe took place, a battle between good and evil that resulted in the newly created earth descending into chaos at the hands of an evil devil or monster. This has much in common with Near Eastern mythology but has little in common with the Hebrew text or the theme of the book of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis.
The Hebrew, בהוּ bohu, rightly translated “empty, void, vacant” is mistranslated as “chaos” by those who want to make a link between the Biblical account and ancient Near Eastern mythology. However, the word, בהוּ bohu is found in only three other places in the Hebrew Scriptures (Isaiah 34:11; 45:18; Jeremiah 4:23) and does not describe chaos but desolation and emptiness.
In fact it’s impossible for the fall of Satan to have happened prior to the creation of humanity because elsewhere Scripture explains that Satan was a guardian cherub of Eden (Ezekiel 28:10-14) before he fell (Isaiah 14:12-14; Luke 10:18). In addition to this at the end of the creation week of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1 and 2, God calls everything (this would include the created being Lucifer [not yet known by the name Satan]) “exceedingly good” (Gen. 1:31). Therefore, at some point after the creation of Eden and the end of the creation week, Satan fell, tempted Adam through Chayah [Eve] (Genesis 3:1-14), and as a result of humanity’s sin choice, sin entered the world and death with it (Romans 5:12). This chronology doesn’t allow for the possibility of the chaos myth or the, Gap theory. Both of which contradict the inspired Hebrew text of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis.
Jewish tradition (Targum Yonatan) also rejects the Gap theory, claiming that the מלאכים malakhim (angels/messengers) were created on the second day and therefore could not have participated in a cosmic conflict which took place between the first and second days. The text itself does not tell us when the מלאכים malakhim were created. However, we do know that they are created beings (Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 148:2, 5; Colossians 1:16-17):
“Praise Him, all His מלאכים malakhim (angels, messengers): praise Him, all His hosts… Let them praise the name of יהוה HaShem: for He commanded וַיֹּאמֶר vayomer, and they were created.”
תהילים 148:2, 5
–Psalms 148:2, 5 [Author’s translation]
The phrase, תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ tohu v’bohu “desolate and vacant”, may also be translated, “formless and empty”. This phrase sets up the rhythm of the subsequent creation days. During the first three days God distinguishes and then gathers, thus giving form, and on the remaining three days He makes and fills the form, which had once been empty/vacant.
It’s suggested by some, that חֹשֶׁךְ choshekh (darkness) is not subject to a creative act and therefore always existed. This is easily refuted by the wider Scriptural text.
“I form the light וּבוֹרֵ֣א uvorei (from בָּרָא bara) and create (from nothing) חֹשֶׁךְ choshekh darkness,”
–Isaiah 45:7 [Author’s translation]
“Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.”
1:1-5 הבשורה על-פי יוחנן
–Ha-Besorah Al-Piy Yochanan (John) 1:3 [Author’s translation]
Some, in misunderstanding the genre of teaching used by John in his gospel, mistakenly see the darkness of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1:2 as being in and of itself evil. This is nonsense. The words of John’s opening chapter are a drash (a comparative teaching) on the creation narrative that is intended to convey the pre-existent nature of the Messiah (The Word Essence of God) and the battle that John’s generation were unable to see, the war between God and the darkness of the fallen world. A battle in which the fallen darkness (an allusion to spiritual blindness resulting from the fall of both Lucifer and humanity) is unable to comprehend or overcome the Light that emanates from Yeshua. We know that the darkness of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1 is called “exceedingly good” because God says so (Gen. 1:31). Contrary to popular belief, darkness is not the absence of light. God is light and all things exist in Him, therefore the darkness exists in Him.
The existence of the earth as desolate and vacant denotes a foundation that is to be built upon and filled up. In fact the first three days are devoted to the foundational elements of creation. These elements, which include water and earth, are brooded over by the Ruach (Spirit) of HaShem.
The Hebrew, מְרַחֶפֶת merachephet, meaning, “brood, relaxed”, is used elsewhere in Scripture to convey the protective nurturing actions of the mother eagle over her young, even prior to their birth (Deuteronomy 32:11). This brooding is motivated by the knowledge of future purpose.
Every beginning has a goal, and the goal of The Beginning is Yeshua (Salvation). In a similar way to that of a mother eagle, who instinctively knows that her chicks will hatch and grow to learn how to glide on the wind, the Ruach (Spirit) of HaShem broods over the elements that will act as the beginnings of creation and more specifically, the מָּיִם mayim (waters) of the הָאָרֶץ ha’aretz (earth), which will soon be moulded into an image/likeness/representation of God, to form humanity. Our purpose is made certain, long before we ever came into being.
“Like an eagle that breaks up her nest,
That broods and relaxes over her young,
He spread His wings and caught them,
He carried them on His pinions.”
--Devarim (Deuteronomy) 32:11 [Author’s translation]
The intimate Hebrew description, עַל־פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם al p’neiy ha-mayim (Over the face of the waters) illuminates the action of the Holy Spirit as He hovers over the surface of the earth’s waters. The Ruach, breath of HaShem broods and breathes upon the waters that are representative of חיים chayim (living), both practically and spiritually. This is a picture of the relationship between created חיה chayah (life) and the life Giver. His breath moving against the water, and its deep, surging response.
What becomes clear from the wider Scripture, is that while God ceased for the period of the seventh day, He continues to sustain and purpose His creation. He continues to make (asah) each one of us into who we’re purposed to be in Him.
“The רוּחַ Ruach (Spirit) of אֵ֥ל El (God), has made עָשָׂ֑תְנִי asat’niy me, and the breath נִשְׁמַת neshmat of שַׁדַּי Shaddai (The Almighty) has given me life חַי chay.”
–Job 33:4 [Author’s translation]
After healing a man on the Shabbat Yeshua had this to say:
“My Father continues to work hence forward, and I work.”
5:17 הבשורה על-פי יוחנן
–Ha-Besorah Al-Piy Yochanan (John) 5:17 [Author’s translation]
1:3 And commanded וַיֹּאמֶר vayomer, אֱלֹהִים Elohim, “Be light אוֹר Or”, and light אוֹר Or was:
This verse begins a literary rhythm that uses a trifold pattern to convey the process of creation and the way it continues to unfold in our daily lives.
1. God commands וַיֹּאמֶר (vayomeir)
2. God Sees/Observes וַיַּרְא (vaiy’re: from ראה ra’ah)
3. God Proclaims/Calls/Name וַיִּקְרָא(vayikra)
God commands creation, He sees that it’s good and He gives all created entities unique names and roles in the order of the universe. From the view of humanity, God has created us in love, observes us with pleasure and imparts to each of us a unique and fulfilling identity and purpose in Him.
The light which is commanded in 1:3 is essential to the remainder of creation. John’s Gospel understands this light to be the product of the Father through the Word Essence (Yeshua), it illuminates the formless and empty elements and acts as an ignition for both the inanimate matter and the living souls which are to come.
1:4 And saw, אֱלֹהִים Elohim, the light האוֹר Or, that it was טוֹב tov good, whole, complete, and made a distinction, אֱלֹהִים Elohim, between the light האוֹר Or and the darkness הַחֹשֶׁךְ hachoshekh:
Before distinguishing between light and darkness, God sees that the light is good. The light is a representation of all that is good.
Distinctions are made throughout the creative process of God. In Hebrew thought the distinguishing of things is not the same as the separation of things. As mentioned previously, darkness is not the absence of light, rather it is a creation of The Light of God:
“If I say, ‘surely the חֹשֶׁךְ choshekh (darkness) shall cover me’; even the לילה laylah (night, spiralling darkness) shall beאור Or (light) surrounding me.”
–Psalms 139:11 [Author’s translation]
1:5 And proclaimed וַיִּקְרָ֨א Vayikra אֱלֹהִים Elohim, the light, “day” יוֹם yom, and the darkness הַחֹשֶׁךְ choshekh, אֱלֹהִים Elohim proclaimed, “night, spiralling darkness” לָיְלָה laylah and it was evening עֶרֶב erev and there was morning בֹקֶר boker, day יוֹם yom one אֶחָד echad. [אֶחָד echad is a cardinal masculine Hebrew number that is also the Hebrew root meaning, “complex and intense unity”].
The light and darkness are named for identity and purpose. They are the first to be distinguished between and the naming of them establishes a foundation for the days of creation. We note that light is named first, followed by darkness, however the days are recorded in terms of evening and morning. This is a Hebrew format for measuring days that understands the evening as the beginning of the first 12 hours of a day and the morning as the beginning of the second 12 hours, thus it’s a Hebraic formula for a 24 hour day.
While in captivity in Egypt prior to the revelation of God’s Word at Sinai, the Israelites witnessed the worship of the Sun god Ra at the dawn of each day as the Sun rose and in the evening of each day as it set. As a counterpoint to this the text of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis given months after Israel’s escape from Egypt, shows the days as being subject to God and their rhythm follows the order of creation, “Darkness and light” in order to remind the Israelites of God’s sovereignty over all creation.
Some suggest that day one of creation is not the first day of creation but merely a first day of creation. They seek to affirm the misreading, “When God began to create”, however this position becomes untenable when we note that the Hebrew, אחד echad is the masculine cardinal number rather than the masculine ordinal Hebrew form used for the remaining five days of creation. This makes day one unique and establishes it as the first day of God’s creating.
The Hebrew, אחד echad is also the Hebrew root meaning, “complex and intense unity”. This same word is used to describe a single bunch of grapes or an army going out as, “one man” (Numbers 14:15). It is also used to describe the complex unity of God in the Shema (Deut. 6:4), the central prayer of the Jewish faith. While we cannot say that this first day is longer than 24 hours (Evening & morning), we can say that in some mysterious way, this day is a complex and intense unity.
1:6 And commanded וַיֹּאמֶר vayomer אֱלֹהִים Elohim, “Be, atmosphere, the visible arch of the sky” by severing the waters and becoming distinct between the waters and from the waters.
Thus the trifold rhythm of command, see and name, continues. This verse describes the vault of the sky as seen from the earth in an arch over the globe. Job 37:8 refers to the sky as being as, “hard as a mirror” and the prophet Isaiah notes that it’s like, “a tent (ohel)” (Isaiah 40:22).
This dividing of the waters foreshadows HaShem’s deliverance of Israel (red sea) and the nations (baptism/immersion of Yeshua). The distinguishing between the waters also conveys a sense of the clear boundaries set in place in order to produce the ideal environment for life on earth.
As a mirror, the sky reflects our actions back to us, as a tent, it reminds us that we’re dwelling under the loving protection of God, and in the dividing of the waters we see that God, knowing the end from the beginning, had already prepared our escape from sin, just as He had already prepared Israel’s escape from captivity in Egypt through the divided waters of the red sea.
1:7 And made וַיַּעַשׂ vaya’as אֱלֹהִים Elohim, the atmosphere, the visible arch of the sky, and distinguished it between the waters that were below the atmosphere and the waters that were above, and the atmosphere came into existence (stood upright).
God, made/moulded/fashioned, the sky. The Hebrew וַיַּעַשׂ vaya’as (and constructing from something) is used here rather than the Hebrew בָּרָא bara (to create from nothing), why? Because God acts in His creation to form it in relationship to Himself. Those who claim a hands off approach by the Creator are hard pressed to refute the plain meaning of the text. We are told that God not only made the elements for the creation of things from that which did not exist, He also fashioned the elements into completed things. This has a great deal to say to us as followers of Messiah and children of HaShem. From the beginning, in the very process of His creation, He shows us the foundation of our security in Him by promising to complete that which He has begun in us.
“Being confident of this, that He who began a טוב goodהעבודה work in you will carry it on to ישלים completion, perfecting until the יום day of המשיח ישוע Ha-Mashiyach Yeshua (The Messiah Jesus).”
–Philippians 1:6 [Author’s translation]
The writer of the letter to the Philippians understood the rhythm of creation and its relationship to the life of the individual believer and the community of faith. Note that God will complete, perfect the work He has begun, just as He did in the creation. In addition we see the correlation presented by the terms, יום yom and טוב tov.
Just as the sky, when complete, stood upright; all things were created for the purpose of standing upright.
1:8 And proclaimed וַיִּקְרָ֨א Vayikra אֱלֹהִים Elohim, the atmosphere, “Sky waters”, and it was evening עֶרֶב erev and there was morning בֹקֶר boker, day יוֹם yom two שֵׁנִי sheiniy [Hebrew masculine ordinal number].
Some pay a great deal of attention to the fact that the Masoretic Hebrew text of this verse does not include the phrase, “God saw that it was good”. The Septuagint (Greek Manuscript translated by Jewish Rabbis in the 3rd century BCE) includes the phrase, however, even if it were not included, in the end the result is the same, “God saw all that He had made and that it was exceedingly good” (Gen. 1:31).
Rashi (RAbbi SHlomo Itzhaki the 11th Century Jewish Rabbi and Scholar) in his commentary on the Torah (Chumash) explains that in the case of the בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis account there is a profound correlation between the Hebrew, טוב tov (good) and the Hebrew, טמים tamiym (complete, perfect, innocent, without blemish). He explains further that the reason the Hebrew text of verse 8 does not include the phrase, “Elohim saw that it was good (complete)”, is because the waters (atmosphere included) were begun on the second day but weren’t completed until the third day, at which time the text says, “and saw Elohim, it was good.” Therefore the completion of each proclamation is sealed by the naming of the created entities and the statement, “and saw Elohim, it was good (complete, perfected, without blemish).”
Concerning day two, we are again faced with the debate regarding the Hebrew word, יום yom and the numbering of the days. While it is true that the word יום yom can sometimes be used to refer to periods of indefinite length (Joshua 13:1; 24:31; 1 Samuel 14:18; Job 32:7), it is not the common meaning, nor would it have been understood this way by the Hebrews who received the proto-Hebrew text (not hieroglyphic but alphabetic) at Sinai. Furthermore, the phrase, “Evening and morning”, as previously stated, is understood by the Hebrew to refer to the division of two 12 hour time periods that make up a standard 24 hour day יום yom.
We now note, that day two uses an ordinal, rather than cardinal Hebrew number, שֵׁנִי sheiniy. This gives the original Hebrew reader the sense of the weekly rhythm that comes with counting off the days. In fact this is still the way we count the days of the week. With the exception of the first day (which uses the cardinal number אחד echad), the remainder of the creation week uses the same ordinal numbering as modern Hebrew, “Yom sheiniy, yom sh’lishiy, yom re’vi’iy, yom chamishiy, yom shiyshiy, Shabbat”.
Therefore both the ancient and modern Hebrew reader understand the days, as read literally, to refer to 24 hour days making up the same week, devoid of any intermediary gaps of time or undetermined lengths of time. This refutes the claim by some that the days of creation are ordinal with gaps between them and denies the possibility of the days being of great length.
It’s worth noting that although days 1 through 6 are masculine, the Hebrew Seventh (called Shabbat in Exodus 20:11) is feminine. The creation account begins with the feminine presence of God’s Ruach (Spirit), brooding and relaxed like a mother eagle over creation and ends with the feminine Shabbat (rest, ceasing) of God being imparted to creation as a gift purchased by His work. With this in mind we can understand creation to have both begun and been completed in the rest, wholeness, completeness, well-being of God.
It seems abundantly clear that Moshe understood these days as literal days that connected the rest of God to the rest of His people Israel. A sign that continues to this day, as we read from our siddurim (prayer books) on the eve of every Shabbat:
“For in six days יָמִים yamim HaShem made עָשָׂה asah the sky waters הַשָּׁמַיִם and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and on the seventh day He ceased and rested: wherefore HaShem blessed the Shabbat day, and made it holy.”
–Exodus 20:11 [Author’s translation]
“The children of Israel shall keep the Shabbat, to observe the Shabbat throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days HaShem made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he ceased, and was refreshed.”
–Exodus 31:16-17 [Author’s translation]
1:9 And commanded וַיֹּאמֶר vayomer אֱלֹהִים Elohim, “bind together the waters below the sky waters, uniting them in one place, appearing, the dry ground existed, it was so (stood upright).
This is a pictorial way of describing the formation of the seas into which the waters of the rivers and lakes flow. Water plays a key part in the creation. We are reminded elsewhere that the earth was formed out of water (2 Peter 3:5) and “founded… on the seas” (Psalm 24:2), and that the waters are not to cross the boundaries set for them (Psalm 104:7-9; Jeremiah 5:22).
1:10 And proclaimed וַיִּקְרָ֨א Vayikra אֱלֹהִים Elohim, the dry ground, “Earth” אֶרֶץ eretz, and the וּלְמִקְוֵה mikveih (gathering together) of the waters הַמַּיִם ha-mayim, He proclaimed, “Seas” יַמִּים yamiym, and saw אֱלֹהִים Elohim, it was טוֹב tov good, whole, complete.
The proclamation of God names the earth and the seas with a calling and purpose far beyond the days of creation. The אֶרֶץ eretz (earth) will one day be walked upon by One Who will be of the עם הארץ Am Ha-aretz (common people of the land), and the waters, which are being gathered מִקְוֵה mikveih, are a foreshadowing, not only of Israel’s escape through the red sea but also of the Biblical and now modern immersion ritual of tevilah in the mikveih (immersion pool).
When we are immersed into Yeshua (Jesus) in the mikveih of His immersion, we are participating in the gathering of the waters that He participated in from the beginning.
1:11 And commanded וַיֹּאמֶר vayomer אֱלֹהִים Elohim, “Sprout forth from the earth הָאָרֶץ ha’aretz vegetation, glistening shoots bearing fertile seed and fruit trees with fruit פְּרִי p’riy, bearing fruit according to their species (kind) on the earth,” existing, it was so (stood upright). 1:12 And breaking out of the land, vegetation, glistening shoots, fertile seed and fruit according to their species (kind), and trees bearing fruit with fertile seed according to their species (kind), and seeing, אֱלֹהִים Elohim perceived that it was טוֹב tov good, whole, complete. 1:13 And it was evening עֶרֶב erev and there was morning בֹקֶר boker, day יוֹם yom three שְׁלִישִֽׁי shliyshiy [Hebrew masculine ordinal number].
Day three sees the climatic provision of plant life and food in preparation for the inhabitants of the earth that will soon come. It’s interesting to note that while the text of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1 is a general overview of creation, it none the less takes time to give certain details, like the fact that the plant life is created, brought into existence according to its kind/species. This is one of the many aspects of the בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis account that makes the position held by theistic evolutionists untenable nonsense. The order of creation aside, there is no room in the text for the evolution of species because the species are created complete according to their kind. They break forth from the earth, seeded by God, Who has made (asah) them, forming them and participating in their unique structure and growth.
1:14 And commanded וַיֹּאמֶר vayomer אֱלֹהִים Elohim, “Exist luminous bodies, in the expanse (space) above the sky waters, distinguishing between the day יוֹם yom and the night לָיְלָה laylah and become signs for the seasons of holy gatherings מוֹעֲדִים moadim, and for days, and years.”
Notice that the command and purpose of the luminaries are intrinsically linked. Their purpose is so important that it is stated within the names given to the periods they govern (1: 5). In fact the luminaries themselves are not named. This is because they were worshipped by Israel’s contemporaries (at the time of her escape from Egypt) as masculine and feminine deities. In the Genesis creation account therefore, they remain nameless as servants of HaShem.
1:15 And they came into existence to serve in the expanse (space) above the sky waters, to give the light over the earth, existing, it was so (stood upright).
Not only do these luminaries serve HaShem, they also serve the earth and its inhabitants. This doubling of servitude seems intended to make clear their subordinate position as created entities rather than deities.
1:16 And making וַיַּעַשׂ vaya’as אֱלֹהִים Elohim, the two luminous bodies which were large, He made the light that was greater to govern the day, and the light that was smaller to govern the night and the stars, rolling, round, pin pricks, blazing, shining.
We note yet again that God, יַּעַשׂ yaas made the two luminous bodies out of the elements He has בָּרָא bara (created from nothing). This affirms His active and continuing, “hands on” role in the creative process. As alluded to earlier this simple Hebrew word, עשה asah refutes presumptuous ontological arguments that suggest a hands off, non-participatory approach from God following the creation of the original elements.
1:17 And gave them, אֱלֹהִים Elohim, to be the light in the expanse, visible arch of the sky, above the sky waters, to be light over the earth.
We now observe the giving of the luminaries as light sources for the earth.
1:18 And to govern in the day and in the night, and to distinguish between the light and the darkness, seeing, אֱלֹהִים Elohim, that it was טוֹב tov good, whole, complete. 1:19 And it was evening עֶרֶב erev and there was morning בֹקֶר boker, day יוֹם yom four רְבִיעִי reviy’iy [Hebrew masculine ordinal number].
The luminaries, having been defined by servitude, are now gifted as governors of day and night and as signs of the distinct nature of light and darkness. God sees that this is good.
1:20 And commanded וַיֹּאמֶר vayomer אֱלֹהִים Elohim, “Breed in the waters small creatures, with souls נֶפֶשׁ nefesh that are living, and let birds that fly be over the earth on the face of the expanse in the sky waters.
It’s at this point that the English understanding of the word, “soul” needs to be revised to meet the Hebrew understanding. Where Hebrew uses the word, נֶפֶשׁ nefesh (soul) it is speaking, not of the indefinable part of the human existence but of the centre of every living being. It does not in and of itself indicate consciousness or intellect. The נֶפֶשׁ nefesh (soul) of an animal is the convergence of all its parts, however, this does not indicate intellect or consciousness as it does in the sense of the human נשמה neshamah (soul/breath). The difference is clarified in the second chapter of Genesis by the very specific action of God in directly breathing His Spirit into humanity, something He did not do in the case of plant or animal life.
Thus when we read of the creation of water creatures and birds who have soul life נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה nefesh chayah, we understand that they are the sum of their parts, but that there parts do not equal the parts of the human being.
1:21 And creating from nothing בָּרָא bara, אֱלֹהִים Elohim made sea creatures that were large, and all soul life כָּל־נֶ֣פֶשׁ הַחַיָּה kol-nefesh hachayah that glides, which wriggles and breeds in the waters, according to their species (kinds), and all birds with wings according to their species (kinds), and seeing, אֱלֹהִים Elohim, perceived that it was טוֹב tov good, whole, complete.
It's worth noting that these creatures are being created from nothing בָּרָא bara. This is another problem for evolutionary theory which requires microorganisms to pre-exist. Organisms that are somehow, without being self-aware, able to evolve and form into ordered, autonomous life forms. Utter nonsense!
Again, each creature is created according to its own species/kind, completed at the hand of God, unique and suited to their environments. Any form of adaption that happens following this does not qualify as evolution except in the case where modern science calls adaption “micro-evolution”, which is simply a manipulative term used by evolutionary theory to replace the more accurate term. This change in terminology seems to have come about in order to try and bring some credibility back to the now untenable position of macro-evolution.
1:22 And blessing them, אֱלֹהִים Elohim said, “Bear fruit, increase, fill the waters of the sea and birds increase in the earth. 1:23 And it was evening עֶרֶב erev and there was morning בֹקֶר boker, day יוֹם yom five חֲמִישִׁי cha’mishiy [Hebrew masculine ordinal number].
The blessing to increase and be fruitful is pronounced over the animal life first as a foundation for the blessing that the creatures of the earth will be to humanity. It’s interesting to note that this blessing relates to sexual procreation. It has not been pronounced over vegetative plant life but over living חיה chayah souls נֶפֶשׁ nefesh.
1:24 And commanded וַיֹּאמֶר vayomer אֱלֹהִים Elohim, “Break out on the earth, souls living according to species (kind) as non-speaking beasts and reptiles and strong beasts of the earth according to their species (kind), existing, it was so (stood upright).
This verse explains that the beasts being created are without higher intellect and have not had the Ruach (Spirit) directly imparted to them. They are souls, the sum of their parts, but they do not have the same standing in the order of creation as humanity will have. In fact, with regard to the order of creation, these beasts, like the plant life before them, are intended for the service of humanity. We note again that they are created according to their kinds, ready for the environment that has been provided for them prior to their existence.
1:25 And made וַיַּעַשׂ vaya’as אֱלֹהִים Elohim, alive on the earth, according to their species (kind) animals; הַבְּהֵמָה habehemah (strong mammals) according to their species (kind), and all reptiles and things that creep on the land הָאֲדָמָה ha-adamah according to their species (kind), and seeing, אֱלֹהִים Elohim perceived it was טוֹב tov good, whole, complete.
The verb יַּעַשׂ yaas (make), is again used to show God’s moulding of these creatures, which include הַבְּהֵמָה habehemah, strong, large animals. For the first time we see the distinction made that the reptiles and crawling species are on הָאֲדָמָה ha-adamah (the land), rather than הָאָרֶץ ha’aretz (the earth), the earth being the globe and the land being the dry ground spoken of previously.
1:26 And commanded וַיֹּאמֶר vayomer אֱלֹהִים Elohim, “Let us make humanity אָדָם adam in our image (to resemble us), shaped, modelled on us, having authority to rule, (subjugate, tread down) over the fish in the sea and the bird life of the sky waters and over all of the dumb, mute, non-speaking creatures without higher intellect, of the earth הָאָרֶץ ha’aretz, and all the reptiles and creeping, gliding, creatures on the earth.
The voice of God now speaks using the plural phrase, “Let us make עשה asah”. Some attempt to attribute this to the heavenly court, angels/messengers, who are also created beings (Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 148:2, 5; Colossians 1:16-17), though they are not mentioned specifically in בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1. However, we read in the following verse that the creation of humanity is a בָּרָא bara (creating from nothing) act, which can only be performed by God Himself. Therefore the phrase, “Let us make humanity in our image” can only refer to the God-head. The, “us, our” refers to the Father יהוה, the Son הבן and רוח הקודש The Holy Spirit. All of Whom are present in the first two verses of Genesis 1.
1:27 And creating from nothing בָּרָא bara, אֱלֹהִים Elohim made the specific singular human אֶת־הָאָדָם et ha’adam in His image (to resemble him), in the image of אֱלֹהִים Elohim He created from nothing, him (humanity); male and female, He created from nothing, them.
The structure of this verse is both poetic and precise. The Hebrew בָּרָא bara (creating from nothing) is used three times. It is a singular verb whose subject is the Singular God of the universe. He, Who is three persons (distinct but not separate) creates, humanity, male and female.
It’s important to understand that human beings, who are made from nothing via the soil (adamah), which we will examine in the next chapter, are like God in many ways, however, we are not God. We are elohim (judges, rulers, gods in a comparative sense regarding the other entities in creation), but we are not האלוהים Ha-Elohim, the God. God is invisible, we are not, God is all existing past, present and future, we are not, God is sovereign over all things, and we are not, and so on.
So how are we to understand being made in the image of God? There are many things that reflect God’s image, likeness, form, in us:
a.) We have a unity of Spirit, Intellect and Body, God is Father, Son and Spirit.
b.) We have been given authority over the creation, God is Sovereign over all things.
c.) We are creative by nature, God is The Creator.
d.) We are drawn to relationship with one another, God existed in relationship before the creation of the universe.
The list goes on and on. Since human beings are made in the likeness of God there are certain truths that follow. Being in God’s image we have great worth and honour in His creation. We are neither to be murdered (Genesis 9:6, not the same as killed) nor cursed (James 3:9).
Image and likeness are synonymous terms and allude to a number of characteristics inherent in human beings:
a.) Righteousness/Holiness (Ephesians 4:24)
b.) Knowledge (Colossians 3:10)
We further note that just as God is אחד echad (a complex unity), we are made as individuals יחד yachad (from the same root and carrying the same meaning but in the past tense). Iyov, the prophet Job explains this beautifully saying:
“Your hands have shaped me through suffering, fashioned me as יחד yachad a complex unity…”
The Lamb of God slain before the creation of the world (Rev. 13:8) reveals God’s suffering on our behalf long before the problem of sin existed. This is a transcendent expression of the resurrected and therefore trans-locational Son of God.
The prophet Job is speaking of his own suffering in the context of the verse I’ve quoted, however, Job later came to understand that God had suffered with him and in him throughout his ordeal. As followers of Messiah we are grateful for both His suffering and His victory (Romans 6:4-5). We are more than conquerors in Him (Romans 8:37), and He continues to share in our temporal suffering (Heb. 4:15; 1 Peter 2:21).
While we were created holy and without sin, as a result of the fall we now need to be conformed to the image of Messiah Yeshua, the second Adam (Romans 8:29). And will one day be fully like Him, returning to the state of our beginning (1 John 3:2).
1:28 And blessing them, אֱלֹהִים Elohim, said to them אֱלֹהִים Elohim, “Be fruitful, increase, and fill the earth and rule, (subjugate, tread down) over the fish in the sea and the bird life of the sky waters and over all of the non-speaking creatures of the earth הָאָרֶץ ha’aretz, and all the reptiles and creeping, gliding, creatures on the earth.
As the pinnacle of creation, humanity is blessed to rule over it. We are physical representatives of the invisible God, created to represent Him in relationship to other creatures. We were created in the image of the King of the universe and have therefore received the privilege of kingship from Him.
1:29 And said אֱלֹהִים Elohim, “Behold הִנֵּה hineih now, listen, pay attention, be prepared, I give you every glistening shoot, seed bearing plant and vegetable which is on the face of all the earth, all the trees that bear fruit and the plants that produce seed are yours, to be food (eating) for you.
This verse seems to indicate that prior to sins entry into the world, human beings were vegans. It seems impossible that humans ate animal flesh prior to the fall because it would have involved death, which we are told was not present until after the fall (Romans 5:12).
1:30 And all the animals of the earth and all the birds of the sky waters, and all the creatures that glide, creep and crawl on the earth, and soul life, all of it, to them I give the glistening shoots and young grassy vegetation to devour as food, existing, it was so (stood upright).
For the same reasons stated above, it seems that all animal life was also sustained by vegetation prior to the entry of sin into the world.
1:31 And seeing, אֱלֹהִים Elohim, that all which He had made עָשָׂה asah was וְהִנֵּה־ט֖וֹב מְאֹד v’hineih tov meod behold, now, exceedingly good, whole, complete, and it was evening עֶרֶב erev and there was morning בֹקֶר boker, day יוֹם yom the sixth השִּׁשִּי hashiyhiy [Hebrew masculine ordinal number with the definite article].
Having completed His creation week God looks upon His creation and sees that all He has made is וְהִנֵּה־ט֖וֹב מְאֹד v’hineih tov meod behold, now, exceedingly good, whole, complete.
We note that the Sixth day is no “a day” but “the sixth day”. The Hebrew text uses the definite article “ה” for day six and the determiner “את” for day seven. Therefore, while they are ordinal days they are very specific in nature and hence require a definite article and determiner respectively.
These days are emphasized because they are the days on which God created humanity and then ceased and rested with humanity prior to the unfolding of the chronology of time. All parents might learn a valuable lesson from the Creator here. It’s while our children are young that we are to take pause and invest in the founding of godly relationship to our children. Let’s choose to send them out into the world fuelled with the love and justice of God, the in filling of His Spirit through Yeshua and the guide book for life, the Bible.
2:1 And all the sky waters and the earth, everything was completed and vast. 2:2 And everything אֱלֹהִים Elohim, in the day seven, finished, from the work He had been making עָשָׂה asah, and He ceased His work in the day seven, from all the works which He had made עָשָׂה asah.
God ceased from His work and rested because all that was formless had been formed and all that was empty had been filled. He rested as an example to the crowning glory of His creation, humanity.
The rhythm of work and rest is imparted to creation from the beginning. Work is not striving for the unreachable and rest is not laziness, to the contrary, there is joy in the work of God and peace in His rest.
We note that prior to God setting us to work in creation He gives us rest (the Shabbat). Rest is not the solution to overwork, rather it is the foundation for work. Rest is the beginning of work intended as a time of strengthening and fuelling rather than an ambulance at the bottom of that all too familiar fall from a cliff called “burnout”. God was at rest in Himself prior to His beginning to create. Once again, He is the example of how we should walk.
Yeshua alludes to the intention of God from the beginning when He says:
“The Shabbat was made for human beings, not human beings for the Shabbat.”
–Mark 2:27 [Author’s translation]
This final day of the creation week is called, אֶת־י֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י et yom hashviyiy “The day the seventh”, from the Hebrew root, שבע sheva seven, which denotes abundant blessing, fullness and completion.
The determiner “את” is employed for day seven rather than the definite article “ה” because day seven is to be distinguished from day six even while sharing specificity in common with it. Day six was a day of work, whereas day seven is a day for rest and the strengthening of relationship.
“For in six days HaShem made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them and rested on the seventh day: wherefore HaShem blessed the Shabbat day, and made it holy.”
–Exodus 20:11 [Author’s translation]
2:3 And blessing, אֱלֹהִים Elohim, made it, the specific day the seventh אֶת־י֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י et yom hashviyiy, a holy day וַיְקַדֵּשׁ vakadeish, because on the Shabbat שָׁבַת He ceased from all the works created from nothing בָּרָא bara which אֱלֹהִים Elohim had made לַעֲשׂוֹת la’asot.
So as to leave no doubt as to the hands on participation of the Creator, this concluding verse explains that God ceased from creating from nothing, all the works that He had made.
The בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1:1-2:3 account begins and ends in the brooding, relaxing, rest, wholeness, well-being, and peace of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
©2023 Yaakov (Brown) Ben Yehoshua
Yaakov (Brown) Ben Yehoshua, founder and spiritual leader of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community, presents a series of in depth studies of books of the Bible. Yaakov approaches the text from a Messianic Jewish perspective, revealing seldom considered translational alternatives and unique insights into the timeless nature of the Word of God as it applies to the redemptive work of the King Messiah Yeshua.