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Friday, January 15, 2010

Leupold Genesis part 26A verse 1

1. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

The phrase "in the beginning" (bereshith) refers to the absolute beginning of created things, to the Uranfang. This fact is supported by the following arguments in the face of many and strong claims to the contrary. 1. The corresponding phrase in Greek, en arch, which the Septuagint translators used here and which appears at the beginning of John's Gospel, is plainly a reference to the absolute beginning. 2. The noun reshith appears without the article, appearing in use practically as a proper noun, Absolute Beginning (K. S. 294g). The Greek Hexapla of Orion supports this, for its transliteration with few exceptions gives bohsin, seldom baohshn. 3. The rendering which takes the expression as referring to the absolute beginning of things makes for a simple, natural progression of thought and avoids that peculiar periodic sentence structure, which shall presently be discussed as highly unnatural.

Because this noun bereshith is without the article, that does not allow for its being taken as a genitive or construct case, viz. "in the beginning of God's creating," etc., for with that rendering attention is at once centred on the second verse and no reason appears for mentioning "the beginning" at all.

Here, then, at the opening statement of sacred Scripture we are taken back to that point to which the human mind naturally will revert and in reference to which it asks: "What was the beginning of things?" This solemn and pithy statement gives man the information: the beginning was made by God in His creation of heaven and earth. As far as this world is concerned, it simply had no existence before this time.

He that did the creative work is said to be God, 'elohim. This Hebrew name is to be derived from a root found in the Arabic meaning "to fear" or "to reverence." It, therefore, conceives of God as the one who by His nature .and His works rouses man's fear and reverence. It is used 2,570 times (KTAT-(K) p. 144). This name is not a characteristic mark of a particular source as E, or in a measure also P, as Old Testament criticism is in the habit of claiming. It is used by Moses in accordance with its meaning. The work recorded in chapter one in a very outstanding way sets forth God's mighty works of power and majesty. God's omnipotence outshines all other attributes in this account. Omnipotence rouses man's reverence and holy fear rather than his love. In other words, it brings the Creator to man's notice rather as 'Elohim than from any other point of view. In stressing this we are not blind to the fact that this chapter also shows forth God as Yahweh, the faithful, merciful one. The claim, however, , that Yahweh might just as Well be employed as 'Elohim, if the meaning of these names is to be considered, really ignores the facts we have just emphasized above --facts which criticism, by the way, gives heed to far less carefully than conservative writers give attention to the arguments in favour of the various sources, E, J, P, D, etc.

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