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Genesis 1-2: Birth of the Cosmos

Updated on January 24, 2016
Some believe that Ancient Hebrew letters give a code of the creation of the universe.
Some believe that Ancient Hebrew letters give a code of the creation of the universe.
Rabbi Jonah taught that the world was made through the Hebrew letter bet.
Rabbi Jonah taught that the world was made through the Hebrew letter bet.
Midrash teaches that 6 things were created before the universe: Torah, God's throne of glory, the creation of the patriarchs, Israel, the temple, and the name of the Messiah.
Midrash teaches that 6 things were created before the universe: Torah, God's throne of glory, the creation of the patriarchs, Israel, the temple, and the name of the Messiah.
San Marco Mosiac
San Marco Mosiac

Our universe is full of splendor and marvels. There are many wonderful and interesting things found in nature. There are billions of things to know about society, space, time, history, etc. There is a certain order within everything we find in nature such as the orbit of planets, the ecosystem, the water cycle, the study of history and archaeology, and many other things inside this planet inhabited by people and life itself, however within the very first pages of the Bible, there is a history of how everything came to be, regardless of how ancient the book is. We can clearly see God's work of creation in everything.

It is important to identify what kind of literature the Bible is. The Bible should not be seen as a book explaining scientific theories. It is theology, the study of God, not of natural properties. Scriptures will therefore not be as precise as scientific observations. Specific words and phrases should be treated with caution and should not be interpreted literally since the author's wrote it to the best of their ability.

Take note that i will mention some scientific theories, but know that none of these contradict the account of creation since the Bible focuses on the spiritual forces which act upon the universe. We know that everything that was made in the universe was not made from itself (Hebrews 11:3).

Some believe that the creation happened in an instant by God's work which was spoken into existence and that the account in Genesis is a basic construction of the universe, i argue that it is more complex than what we can see in Genesis. Hebrews 1:10 describes God "laying the foundation of the earth."

Job 9:8 "8 He alone spreads out the heavens, And treads on the waves of the sea.."

Canaanite text describes the goddess Ashera walking on the sea in order to subdue it, but God steps on the waves to control the surging sea.

Job 26:7 "7 He stretches out the north over empty space; He hangs the earth on nothing.."

In Hebrew, " talah" is the word for hang which means "to suspend."

Verse 10 "10 He drew a circular horizon on the face of the waters,
At the boundary of light and darkness."

Boundary is translated from the Hebrew word "choq", giving the idea that the horizon on the face of the waters is at a set place chosen by God.

Verse 13 "13 By His Spirit He adorned the heavens.."

adorned comes from the Hebrew word "shiphrah." The root word is "shaphar" which means "to make fair."

Job 37:18 "18 With Him, have you spread out the skies, Strong as a cast metal mirror?"

In Deuteronomy 28:23, a bronze sky symbolizes unremited heat and drought.

Psalm 104:2 "2 Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment, Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain."

Isaiah 40:22 "22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in."

Job 38 explains more on God's creation. God describes the boundaries, limits or the commonly use term "laws" of the universe that he established in the universe.

In verse 14, it says "14 It [the earth] takes on form like clay under a seal, And stands out like a garment."

The clay under the seal could refer to a cylinder seal or a stamp seal. Small cylinder seals were used to sign clay documents by rolling them over the clay. The owner would then wear the seal around his neck on a chord. This could give the analogy of the earth being figurative of a person being clothed to display wondrous craftsmanship of the features in which God bestowed upon it.

Jeremiah 5:22 "22 Do you not fear Me?’ says the Lord.‘Will you not tremble at My presence,
Who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea, By a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass beyond it? And though its waves toss to and fro, Yet they cannot prevail; Though they roar, yet they cannot pass over it."

Jeremiah 51:15 "15 He has made the earth by His power; He has established the world by His wisdom, And stretched out the heaven by His understanding."

Verse 22 "22 Do you not fear Me?’ says the Lord. ‘Will you not tremble at My presence,
Who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea,By a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass beyond it?And though its waves toss to and fro,Yet they cannot prevail; Though they roar, yet they cannot pass over it.

Proverbs 8:29 "29 When He assigned to the sea its limit, So that the waters would not transgress His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth.."

Genesis chapter 1:

Gen. 1:1 "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth." The Hebrew word for beginning is "re'shiyth." This word means "the first in place, time, or rank." In Hebrew, this usually refers to an initial period in time. Beginning refers to the created event God is outside of time and unaffected by it, he always existed. When the universe was created seems to be unknown. What is known is that God formed the universe. The word "heaven" comes from the Hebrew "Shamayim." This is a compound word. The word "Shem" means there. The plural word for waters is "Mayim." In other words, it is translated as "the waters are there."

The word "Create" can mean "to make fat" and it is the unique characteristic of God, but in Hebrew, there is no word used for the sense that something is made from nothing. Based on the context, the correct word should be "fattened." God fattened or filled the universe. How the universe got there, why it's there, or if it was even eternal is unknown. All we know is that God gave the universe shape.

There are many possibilities of the origin of this word. One is that it came from the Hebrew word "Shamah", which means "lofty" in the sense that is high. The word "Shaman" meaning desolate which describes the wind blowing the land, drying it. This would also be translated as "Shamayim" in the plural form.

Water is a very important element in the universe, without it, many of the earth's processes could not function well.

According to the book Starlight and time, it is theorized that there was a sphere of water located within a small point in the universe known as the white hole. It's a region of space-time which cannot be entered from the outside, however light and matter are able to escape through it. God's spirit came through this hole and expanded the universe.

A few notes should be taken when learning about Genesis 1:14-16 "14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also."

* In Biblical Hebrew, the meaning of a specific word is determined by the context.

* Verbs did not have tenses related to time in Biblical Hebrew, only a finished action or an unfinished action. Verbs do not an order or duration of actions. Additions to the root verbs may demonstrate order. The phrases translated as "The earth was without form and void.." Could have been more accurately translated as "The earth became without form and void.."

* The word "Yom" meaning day is rarely used to refer to a 24-hour time period. It's most accurate translation is a period of daylight.

The word "Without form and void" is properly translated as "Desolate and empty." Nevertheless, i believe that it is best described as chaotic matter floating in space. That being said, the earth and heavens were once formless and chaotic, until God made them with order.

The "Deep" refers to the surging mass of primeval chaotic water.

When the Bible says that the the Spirit of God "moved" upon the face of the waters, the Hebrew gives several meanings "Move, shake, fluttered, brooded, hover, and grow soft. Throughout the Bible, the Spirit of God has been in charge of giving life to living things, hence it can then be inferred that the Spirit of God turned the chaotic waters into order.

The "Light" described in the first chapter in Hebrew refer to the luminaries. It is observed that light can be present without the sun and moon, therefore, the light described could have come from energy, stars, and other sources. Light is the revelation of God's creation and work.

The firmament in Gen. 1:6-8 is actually a celestial solid dome. the Sun and Moon were placed within the firmament itself. Pay close attention to what verses support this view. In these verses, the word translated as firmament is the Hebrew word "a visible arch of the sky, an expanse", but coming from the root meaning "raqa'" meaning "to pound the earth with passion, to expand by hammering, to overlay with sheets of metal, beat, spread out, stretch." Psalm 148:4 "4 Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, And you waters above the heavens! 5 Let them praise the name of the Lord, For He commanded and they were created." Rakia in Hebrew suggests a hammered-out slab which was not necessarily arched, but the English architectural term with it's celestial associations was appropriate.

There are waters above the Shamayim, heavens or the sky and space. Gen. 1:6-8 describes the firmament splitting the waters from the waters below.

There are several divisions of the waters':

1. Earth's oceans

2. Atmosphere

3. Firmament separating the physical universe from the spiritual dimension above

4. The third heaven which is the throne of God

This sea above all other firmaments is an impenetrable and unreachable barrier between the physical and temporal universe and the eternal, spiritual dimension of Heaven, the abode place of God. This sea was not called "good", but functioned very much like the veil of the temple between the natural world and the holiness of God's divine and most glorious presence. An example of this is found in the molten sea found in Solomon's temple in 1 Kings 7:23. Paul mentioned this third heaven in 2 Corinthians 12:2

"2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven."

Genesis 1:11-12 "11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so." 12 And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good."

In modern scientific classification, it tends to confuse the kinds of different organisms and plants, but in the Bible, there is only one kind which produces another of it's kind, there is essentially no "new" kind.

Genesis 1:14-18 "14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good."

The sun and moon were then made. In other ancient near eastern religions, the sun and moon were hailed as gods. The exact phrases "Sun" and "moon" were omitted to not confuse them with pagan deities. They possessed the ultimate power of the gods to give light to the earth according to other religious texts. In contrast, God creates other lights which also serve a great purpose, proving that there is only one creator God and everything within the universe belongs to his sovereign hand.

Genesis 1:20-22 "20 Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” 21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”

Comparative Mythology
Comparative Mythology

In a magisterial work, Jaan Puhvel unravels the prehistoric Indo-Euopean origins of the traditions of India and Iran, Greece and Rome, of the Celts, Germans, Balts, and Slavs. Utilizing the methodologies of historical linguistics and archaeology, he reconstructs a shared religious, mytholoigcal, and cultural heritage. Separate chapters on individual traditions as well as on recurrent thees - god and warrior, king and virgin, fire and water - give life to "Comparative Mythology" as both a general introduction and a detaled reference.

 

Sea creatures then came from the oceans. Interestingly, the concept of a sea creature comes from the Canaanite epic Enuma elisha. The sea creature Tiamat was a chaotic monster of the sea. She gave birth to many other gods, but in this sense, God uses Tiamat as nothing more than a giant sea creature to show that he can use creatures thought as monstrous to display his glory.

Genesis 1:24-25 "24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good."

Land animals were then created after the sea creatures. This word cattle does not necessarily refer to livestock. but can also mean dumb beasts or animals. The phrase "beast of.." or hayto denotes wild beasts in the archaic construct form, but here, this form is not used.

Genesis 1:26-31

"26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion [radah] over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Radah is not the normal Hebrew verb for "rule." It is reflected by "dominion" and in most contexts, it suggests an absolute or fierce execution of mastery over God's creation.

29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. 31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day."

Make in the Hebrew sense does not mean to create in the context of nothing, but it comes from the ancient word "to do."

Originally, animals and humans were vegetarian. Animals were meant to eat of the plants living on the earthly soil. In Leviticus 17:11, the life is in the blood, therefore plants are not classified as living in the Biblical sense. They function as the substance which sustains the life of animals and men.

After all of creation, man was created and given the divine authority from God who dwells in the third heaven to rule over everything in the earth below.

Now, In chapters 1 and 2, they seem to present contradictory viewpoints of the creation. Some will argue that the first chapter is merely a summary of the whole process creation, while the second is a more detailed perspective, but this does not explain the slight differences and chronology of events between the two, so why does it seem to conflict with each other? I will argue that the first two chapters are in reality two different accounts written by two different authors, God and Adam. I will provide an explanation of this using evidence.

The authorship of Genesis 1 and 2:

The account of the creation is assumed to be written by God himself. This is true for the first chapter, however i believe that there is a more precise detailed account as to why human civilization behaves the way it does now. Genesis gives us many explanations and details on the relationship between God and man as a father is to a son. Many times, we as humans tend to think because of culture and science that we are independent of God, we developed language, we evolved from simpler organisms, and we will determine the outcome of our existence. I will explain how God in his wisdom gave Adam the authority to write to the earliest stage of humanity.

P.J wiseman was a british officer who found in Mesopotamia ancient narrative tablets with colophon endings, consisting of a specific format. He found that there are similarities between these ancient tablets and the narrative in the book of Genesis.

1) "This has been the history/genealogy of.."

2) The name of the person who owned the tablet

3) The date

He noticed that there are certain phrases containing this colophon format. They have been identified as the "toledoth." The book of Genesis is divided into several sections into toledoth phrases. He presented evidence that the colophons showed that Genesis had originally been a set of narrative cuneiform clay tablets, just like the tablets seen when Moses had edited the single document on parchment. Therefore, Adam is the author of Genesis chapter 2.

Therefore, God gave Man the ability to write and preserve the history of the creation of the world.

Genesis chapter 2:

Genesis chapter 2 is focused on Adam's perspective on God's creation.

Genesis 2:2-3 " 2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made."

God rested because all of his work had been completed and sanctified the seventh day for humanity's benefit.

Genesis 2:5-6 "5 before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; 6 but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground."

Notice that in chapter 1, God had already created plants and herbs, but they had not yet grown. It is chapter 2 that he made a mistake come up from the earth and watered the whole ground.

Genesis 2:7 "7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being."

"Form" in Hebrew, comes from the word "yatsar." It gives the idea of molding into form as a potter molds clay into pottery. God did not make man from nothing, but just as he brought chaos into order, he took the earth and molded it in the image of man as a potter does when he forms pottery. God had made man in the first chapter, he set the framework for man's creation, but he had formed him in the second chapter.

Isaiah 64:8

"8 But now, O Lord,
You are our Father;
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all we are the work [product] of Your hand."

The Hebrew word for dust is "`aphar." In this context, the best rendering of this word is "mud." Man became a living soul, a being with a body, mind, heart, intelligence, emotions, feelings, and a conscience.

Genesis 2

This would explain the more detailed account of the creation of man and differences between the chronology of events in both chapters.

Genesis 2:8-9

8 "The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. 9 And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."

The Hebrew meaning of Eden is "Paradise." Man was made to enjoy the many blessings that God, the father has bestowed upon him. There was no death, no sorrow, no pain, no agony or grief in the beginning, only harmony, peace, joy, and a dwelling place with God. Interestingly, there were two trees put in the middle of the garden, the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life.

Genesis 2:10-14

10 "Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates."

These rivers exist and have found to this day. The precise location of Eden has not yet been found.

Genesis 2:15-17

"15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

God gave Man the free will to choose between life and death.

Genesis 2:18-20

"18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him."

The act of naming things denotes the character, purpose, and destiny of a particular person or thing, in this situation, animals. Throughout all of creation, the act of naming exhibits the ownership of the particular thing being named by person giving the name. This shows that Man was never meant to be alone throughout his existence. Man has a desire to have a companion just as there were pairs of animals throughout the world.

Genesis 2:21-25

21 "And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

23 And Adam said:

“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed."

This passage is the only complete account of the creation of man and woman in all of near-eastern literature. Comparing the creation account of Genesis and other accounts in terms of literacy, Genesis provides the most objective and honest depiction of creation.

Ancient Hebrew concept of the universe is quite different from modern scientific viewpoints.
Ancient Hebrew concept of the universe is quite different from modern scientific viewpoints.

The context of words seems to be obscure, however, i believe that the chronology of events in the creation of the universe observed by science shed some light in the biblical creation.


The universe was originally a very hot and energetic, that particles did not exist. The forces that are in existence merged together, forming one unified force. Space expanded because of the immense energies involved and over time, these energies cooled down. Forces then condensed into one status then another repeatedly and finally, particles formed. A universe of matter then formed. Large-scale clusters such as stars and galaxies emerged.

This was primeval earth in it's earliest form. Our planet was one an inhospitable and uninhabitable rock full of volcanic activity. Earth was rich in sulphides that stopped advanced organisms from forming, such as fish and mammals.

It's creation began probably began when the violent death of a star called a supernova occurred. During this gigantic explosion, most of it's dying matter blasted into space. The expansion compressed molecules of gas and microscopic grains of dust nearby, forming a gigantic rotating cloud called the solar nebula. The gravitational pull between the molecules and grains made the cloud contract and as the nebula contracted, it spun faster and formed into a disk. Most of the material in the solar nebula went towards the center. This central mass grew dense and hot enough to for hydrogen atoms to begin fusing to helium atoms, the basis of nuclear fusion. The central mass became a star and sun. Dust gathered together with gas material, later forming a cluster of rocks and ultimately, forming the planet earth.

Scientists believe that after the earth formed, it crashed into a planet. The impact sent a cloud of vaporized rock out of it's surface and around it's orbit. The cloud cooled and formed a ring of small bodies when then struck together, creating the moon. The immense heat would have destroyed the earth and the moon, however many years afterwards, the earth would be as hot as the sun for 10,000 years. Both the earth and moon cooled to the point where light silicate rocks formed on earth's surface, thus forming the earth's crust. volcanoes formed and debris constantly hit the earth. A magma ocean was then made. Gases in the atmosphere emerged.

Some suggest that the comets brought frozen gases to the earth and formed the earth's atmosphere transported by water.

Water is likely to have been frozen and the earth contained little oxygen.

Stromatolites can tell us clues on the history of earth's ancient history.
Stromatolites can tell us clues on the history of earth's ancient history.

Our planet was so hot, every single drop of water would be vaporized. there are various theories as to how water formed on the earth. Life then began in the ocean.

The most accepted theory is that elements of volcanoes brought water to the earth.

It is believed that life originated in the seas and then evolved into more complex life forms which left the seas and became land animals. As we can see, there is a consistent pattern between both science and the Bible within the creation of the universe.

It is not known what the origin of light is, but the most commonly accepted theory is that it came into substance after the big bang.

The sun was formed from deaths of stars. Waves of energy traveled, gravity spun, and particles drew together. Clouds flattened into a disc. A protostar was then formed. Over time, it began to increase in heat.

Life then evolved into more complex organisms in the sea and eventually were able to live on land because of more suitable environmental conditions.



Ancient caveman drawing.
Ancient caveman drawing.

Finally, after the extinction of the dinosaurs and climate change, we humans and mammals came into being. We evolved from an "ape-like" ancestor whom is most likely identified as Adam provided the theory of Evolution is right.

In conclusion, our universe is full of God's beauty and glory. We must never ignore the scientific evidence and discoveries made to explain God's nature. Our universe is full of seemingly endless wonders that we humans cannot grasp in our limited minds. Although Adam and Eve are long dead, we can still observe all that God has made. Our God has the power to create order within the universe out of the nothingness of a chaotic primordial substance. The structure of the universe itself displays the limits of our understanding and state of being. God is the highest of all and dwells in a higher dimension than that of the physical realm. We as Christians should rejoice in his creation and hope for the new one that is to come after evil is ultimately defeated.

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      saisarannaga 4 years ago from Chennai in Tamilnadu, India.

      I appreciate the detailed description of the various verses vs the scientific views today. The photos add luster to the hub. A meticulous work and i thank you for the effort!