“You alone are Adonai. You have made the heavens, the earth’s atmosphere, and the heavens beyond the atmosphere with all their myriads, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. Living is from You, given to all of them, and the heavenly myriads bow down before You.”
Beginning With Mashiyach (Messiah):
Before we begin to study the book of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis, we must first familiarize ourselves with the Author. No, I’m not referring to Moshe (Moses), we’ll get to him later. I’m speaking of the Author of all things (including the book of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis), אלוהים יהוה YHVH Elohim, God האב the Father, הבן the Son and רוח הקודש the Holy Spirit. I’m referring to the Author and goal of our faith(Romans 10:4), ישוע המשיח Yeshua Ha-Mashiyach, והחיים האמת הדבר הדרך Ha-Davar, Ha-Derekh, Ha-Emet, v’Ha-Chayim the Word, the Way, the Truth, and the Living.
In regard to Authorship, the illumination that Messiah brings to the creation narrative is of the greatest importance. Why? Because He is the pre-existent creative Word Essence of God through Whom all things come into being. (Ha-besorah al-piy Yochanan [John] 1:1-5; Colossians 1:12-20)
Therefore, we would be remiss if we failed to examine the wider Biblical text as a foundation for understanding the creation accounts of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis chapters 1 through 3. Keeping in mind of course, that there are no chapters and verses in the original text, nor does עברית Hebrew utilize punctuation.
From the Messiah following Hebrew viewpoint there are two books of the Bible that begin at the beginning: the book of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis, and יוחנן Ha-Besorah Al-Piy Yochanan, the book of John’s Gospel.
In Hebrew, both these books begin with the same word, בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, “In the beginning.” It’s interesting to note that the Gospel of John is the first book of the Coptic New Testament canon. Also interesting is the fact that it’s a practice of Jewish tradition to name the books of Scripture after the first word or phrase of the book in question. If this practice had been adopted by the early Church fathers the Gospel of John would be known today as בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit or perhaps the 1st Bereishit that comes second? It seems appropriate that both the TaNaKh (OT) and the Ha-Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT) begin at the beginning.
Beginning with the Gospel of John, let’s examine what the wider canon of Scripture says about the Creator, the Messiah and the unity of the Godhead.
“1In the beginning was the Word Essence (דבר) and the Word Essence (ישוע) was with the God (האלוהים) and the Word Essence (דבר) was God (אלוהים), He was in the beginning with the God (האלוהים). 3All things came into being in Him (ישוע), and apart from Him (ישוע) nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him (ישוע) was living (חיים), and the living (החיים) was the all-existing Light (האור) of humanity (האדם). 5 The Light shines in the darkness (חוֹשֶׁך), and the darkness did not comprehend it. [alt. could not possess it; could not overcome it; is incapable of consuming it.]”
הבשורה על-פי יוחנן 1:1-5
–Ha-Besorah Al-Piy Yochanan (John) 1:1-5 [Author’s translation]
The writer of the gospel of John (Yochanan the talmid), inspired by the Author of Scripture YHVH Ha-Elohim, Adonai Elohim (God) seems intent from the beginning to emphasis the fact that Yeshua the King Messiah (The Word Essence) and the Father God (Ha-Elohim) are echad (a complex unity), Father and Son. Yeshua is Imanu-El, God with us (Isa. 7:14), God the Son and as the Word Essence issuing from God’s mouth (as it were), Yeshua acts out the creative process that brings into existence all things. In one sense, He is the very essence of the mind of God, the communicative language of the universe, intrinsically linked with the breath (Ruach/Holy Spirit), and is the present participant in the mechanism of creation. No other interpretation of either the Greek or Hebrew texts of John’s gospel is tenable.
Yeshua, the Word Essence, was with God and was God (God never ceases to be God). It’s foolish to ask as some do, “Who made God?” after all, a made thing has a beginning but God is without beginning or end, all existing, not made. Note that Yeshua, is before the beginning.
Yeshua is האור HaOr, the all-existing light. בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1:4 tells us that God made a distinction between האור Or, light and חוֹשֶׁך choshekh darkness. The light that Yeshua creates in the nothingness of the beginning of creation is one of the first things described in the initial Genesis creation account. The light commanded by God the Word (Yeshua) in Genesis 1:3 is a product of Yeshua Himself, God with us. This light is unique and precedes the Sun and moon. This light is a manifest representation of the כבוד יהוה kavod Ha-Shem, glory of God. This is why Rav Shaul HaShaliach (Paul the Apostle) writes in the letter to the Colossian believers 1:19, “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness (of God) to dwell in Him (Yeshua).”
Yeshua is החיים Ha-Chayim (The living, life everlasting), His light, האור Ha-Or, is the means by which all things exist. The life that is provided by Yeshua is manifest as האור Ha-Or, (the light, soul seed) for humanity’s existence.
Finally, we learn that חוֹשֶׁך choshekh darkness (a created thing) has no authority over or the ability to comprehend האור Ha-Or, the all-existing light, a manifestation produced by the Word Essence ישוע Yeshua.
It’s logical to conclude, as the talmid Yochanan has, that the created thing is subject to the Creator. Darkness, the created thing is therefore, subject to the all-existing Light of the Creator. The light of God being an emanation of His glory.
It’s important to understand that created light on the other hand, which exists in and of Yeshua, is nonetheless, not Yeshua, but rather an emanation of Yeshua. In the same way God is light, but light is not God.
The text of John 1 affirms the understanding that Yeshua is God the Son, all-existing, the Creator.
It’s interesting to note that the Jewish esoteric philosophy Kabbalah, teaches a similar concept to that of John 1 when it speaks of the Ketvi (written word) as being the essence of all created things. Let me be clear, I am not validating Kabbalah, I am simply alluding to the very Jewish nature of these comparative ideas and the way they understand creation.
In Hebrew the verb usually precedes the subject, indicating the subject’s authority over the verb. In the first sentence of John 1 the preposition being, “in the”, and the noun, “beginning” and the past tense verb form of being, “was”, are all subservient to the subject. The subject is the Word Essence (Yeshua). The Word Essence (Davar) is the Lord of all words, written or otherwise (Ketuvim: plural of ketvi). Therefore, Yeshua is not only the Creative Word Essence of the mind of God (Davar), He is also the Author of all written Scripture (Ketuvim) in unity with The Father God by the Holy Spirit. I said, Author, not literal penman.
The Scriptures teach that creation was made by, through, and for Yeshua:
“15He (Yeshua) is the image of the invisible God, the first begotten (born of God) over all creation. 16 For in Him (Yeshua) all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him (Yeshua) and for Him (Yeshua). 17 He (Yeshua) is before all things, and in Him (Yeshua) all things hold together. 18 He (Yeshua) is also head (Rosh) of the body, the Community of believers; and He (Yeshua) is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He (Yeshua) Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s (YHVH, Elohim) good pleasure for all the fullness (of God) to dwell in Him (Yeshua), 20 and through Him (Yeshua) to reconcile all things to Himself (God the Father), having made peace through the blood of His (Yeshua) cross; through Him (Yeshua), I say, whether things on earth or things in the heavens.”
–Rav Shaul’s Letter to the Colossians 1:15-20 [Author’s translation]
Yeshua is עִמָּנוּ אֵל Imanu-El (Isa. 7:14), God with us v.15 He is the image of the invisible God (the Father). He is the firstborn over all creation because He is not created but begotten (born) of the Father, just as the Word of the Father’s mind is begotten (born) of the Father’s mouth. This is a poetic way of saying that Yeshua is God with us v.15. Yeshua, being the manifest revelation of the person of God with us, is all-existing, He is God the Son.
It’s important to understand the difference between something begotten (born) and something made, as it pertains to God, Yeshua and creation. A person’s words are begotten (born) of the mind and mouth, whereas a person makes a book to record them in. In the case of God, Yeshua is the Word of God, and creation itself is the book. The difference between these two examples is that a human being requires the base matter of wood pulp, glue, pen, ink etc. in order to make a book, God on the other hand created the universe ex-nihilo from nothing. Simply put, man creates from something, God creates from nothing.
In, and by Yeshua, all things were created and they have been created through Yeshua and for Yeshua v.16.
Yeshua is before all things, that is, He is God the Son, all-existing. All things continue to be held together in Him (The Davar[H]/Logos[G]/Memra[RA]/Miltha[A] Word essence of God) v.17.
NB: H = Hebrew, G = Greek, RA = Rabbinical Aramaic, A = Aramaic
Not only did Yeshua participate in the first creation, He is also the head (beginning) and the first begotten (born) from the dead, that is, the Instigator and Word Essence of the New Creation that extends to life everlasting. Hence, in John 1:1-5 He is called the Chayim (living/eternal life) which is light to humanity. The hope of eternity, the New Creation, were purchased, through the ransom of Yeshua’s blood v.18.
With regard to the Hebrew text, the words beginning and head are synonymous, in fact the Hebrew reishit, beginning, comes from the root rosh, head. Messiah Yeshua is both the Head of creation and the head of the new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) v.18.
It was God’s will for all the fullness of His glory to dwell in the Son Yeshua v.19.
Before creation, God planned to reconcile all things to Himself through His Son v.20. This is symbolized in האור Ha-Or (the light) of Genesis 1:3 which is created through Yeshua as a symbol of the gospel which cannot be overcome or comprehended by darkness, either literally or metaphorically. God’s Mercy precedes His judgement and through Yeshua is also the result of it.
Outside of Genesis, John and Colossians, what does the Bible say about the Creator & His creation?
The book to the Hebrews speaks of Yeshua, the Builder:
“1 Therefore, set apart fellow Jews, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider ישוע Yeshua, השליח the Shaliach (Sent One) and כהן הגדול Cohen Ha-Gadol (High Priest) of our confession; 2 He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, just as Moshe (Moses) also was in all His house. 3 For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moshe, in the same way that the builder of the house has more honour than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.”
–Hebrews (Probably written by Bar-Navi [Barnabas] the Levite) 3:1-4 [Author’s translation]
In this portion of Hebrews, Yeshua, the Builder, is compared to God, the Builder of all things.
The book to the Hebrews goes on to speak of Yeshua, the Word:
“In faith we understand that the worlds were prepared in הדבר the Word Essence of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”
–Hebrews 11:3 [Author’s translation]
Therefore, we understand creation through faith in God through the Word Essence of God.
NB: There’s no reason to disregard sound science or fight over minor details regarding the text, however, we don’t understand creation through the lens of science, rather we understand creation through faith in God.
Creation was always intended to be inhabited. Isaiah the prophet writes:
“For thus says יהוה Ha-Shem, Who created the heavens,
He is האלוהים the God who formed the earth and made it,
He established it and did not create it a waste place (tohu),
but formed it to be inhabited,
‘I am יהוה Ha-Shem, and there is no other.’”
–Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 45:18 [Author’s translation]
The prophet Isaiah tells us that God formed the earth to be inhabited. We were in His mind as the glory of His creation. He designed creation like a loving father who designs and builds a wonderful room of discovery and adventure for His child to live in.
God is eternal; past, present and future, all-existing.
“Before the mountains were born
Or You gave birth to the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are Elohim.”
–Tehilim/Psalms 90:2 [Author’s translation]
God is eternal, all-existing, not bound by time and space, outside of all things and at work in all things.
The Human Writer of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis:
There is no reason to discount the traditional Jewish view that Moshe (Moses, the drawn out, resurrected one) penned the book of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis. This view sees Moshe as the scribe who recorded the words of HaShem and Israel’s history prior to his death, at which point his successor Yehoshua (Joshua, YaH is Salvation) collated, annotated and completed the text. The Scriptures themselves attest to this view:
“Moshe wrote down all the words of HaShem. Then he arose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel.”
–Shemot/Exodus 24:4 [Author’s translation]
“So, Moshe wrote this Torah and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi who carried the ark of the covenant of HaShem, and to all the elders of Israel.”
–D’varim/Deuteronomy 21:9 [Author’s translation]
“Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Torah of Moshe and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fully filled.’”
–Luke 24:44 [Author’s translation]
“Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moshe, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moshe, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”
–Yochanan/John 5:45-47 [Author’s translation]
In modern times the majority view of scholars has been that of the redaction theory which attempts to prove multiple writers and narratives which have been later redacted and joined in an effort to produce a fluid document.
One of the greatest mistakes of the redaction theory is that it attempts to place human motivation at the center of Biblical interpretation. Each writer and the subsequent redactor are said to be from various sects, tribes and time periods of Israel’s history, this in turn is said to illuminate the motivation behind certain instructions and narratives in the Biblical text.
After thoroughly examining the redaction theory and its unconvincing proofs I have concluded that it is utterly unreliable, untenable, nonsense and should be regarded as presumptuous conjecture at best, abhorrent apostasy at worst.
However, even if it were conclusively proven to be true and the references in Scripture sighting Moses as human author are simply allusions to his authority over the tradition passed down (a claim of the foolish redaction theorists), as followers of Messiah we must remember that God inspired His word and that the motivations of its earthly recorders cannot cloud the ultimate meaning of the text. God is the source of the text regardless of how it was physically transmitted to us. We trust in the inerrant God of creation and not in the potentially errant human writers.
In fact, as we have seen from the Biblical text itself, there is far greater textual evidence for a Mosaic authorship completed by the collation and postscript work of Joshua. The text was then meticulously copied by devote scribes and passed down through the ages as a God inspired historical account of the events spanning from the creation to the death of Moses and Israel’s preparation to enter the promised land.
Leave Your Baggage at the Door:
All those who undertake the study of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis bring baggage with them. One of the greatest obstacles to the modern student in seeking to understand בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis is the wealth of secular scientific misinformation and the false premises that often support scientific theory. We should ask ourselves, “Am I allowing the text to direct my understanding of science or do I require the text to submit to my understanding of science?”
For far too long scholars have perpetuated the practice of (so called) enlightened textual criticism, passing judgement on the text rather than discerning its meaning. We have foolishly neglected to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit Who says, “It is the text that critiques you and finds you wanting.” Rather than critiquing the text we should allow ourselves to be critiqued by the Author of the text (Yeshua, HaDavar HaEmet). What follows are some important questions that every follower of Messiah should ask when studying the Genesis account of creation:
1. Do I believe that the Bible text in its original languages is the inspired and inerrant word of God? (The Bible being defined as the TaNaKh (OT) and Ha-Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT) including so called scribal error and qualifying texts being understood as part of God’s intended transmission of Scripture). In other words, even the perceived errors are inerrant.
2. Does my interpretation accept God (Father, Son & Spirit) alone (all-existing) as Creator?
3. Does my interpretation submit to the p’shat, plain meaning of the text?
4. Would my interpretation agree with the historical Hebrew reader’s understanding?
5. Am I willing to consider the possibility that scientific theory may be incorrect when it contradicts the p’shat, plain meaning of the text?
6. Do I accept that God actively participated in the creation of all things?
7. Do I accept that what has been created is created ex-nihilo (from nothing)?
8. Does my interpretation agree that there was no death prior to the fall of humanity (Romans 5:12)?
9. Do I accept that the book of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis is historically accurate?
If you have answered, “no” to any of these questions your interpretation is most certainly in error.
© Yaakov (Brown) Ben Yehoshua 2023
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.