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Monday, February 1, 2010

Leupold Genesis part 26B verse 1

A thought by Procksch should be noted here: "It so happens very appropriately that the first named subject of Genesis as well as of the Bible is `God'."

The verb describing God's initial work is "created" (bara'). This verb is correctly defined as expressing the origination of something great, new and "epoch-making," as only God can do it, whether it be in the realm of the physical or of the spiritual. The verb bara' does not of itself and absolutely preclude the use Of existing material; cf. Isa. 65:18b: "Behold I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy." Also note v. 27 of this chapter. However, when no existing material is mentioned as to be worked over, no such material is implied. Consequently, this passage teaches creatio ex nihilo, "creation out of nothing," a doctrine otherwise also clearly taught by the Scriptures; (Ro 4:17; Heb 11:3); cf. also (Ps 33:6, 9; Am 4:13). The verb is never used of other than DIVINE activity.

The bero', which Kit proposes in the margin in conformity with the claims of many, for bara', i.e. the infinitive for the finite verb, and which yields the translation, "in the beginning of God's creating," etc., is not only entirely unnecessary but unfortunately, leads to an involved and confused sentence structure in place of a simple and a clear one. Besides, such a change is born entirely out of the desire to make room for a particular interpretation, viz. the interpretation that claims long ages of the earth's existence prior to the creative work here to be described. To use this change of vowels is the equivalent of substituting a confused road for a straight and a simple one.

The object of God's creation was "the heavens and the earth." We should have said, He created: "the universe." Since the Hebrew has no word for the universe and can at best say: "the all" cf. (Jer 10:16; Isa 44:24; Ps 103:19; 119:91; Ec 11:5), certainly the far more colourful "heavens and earth" is to be preferred. Besides, there is a deeper truth involved. In reality the world is bipartite; it is not a unit as far as we are concerned. The two parts constituting the world or the universe were originally in perfect harmony with one another. Now there exists a deep breach between the two. The term shamssyim signifies the "upper regions" (K. W.) and is a plural form, a plural of intensity (K. C.), pointing to the heavenly spheres or regions which rise one above the other. This explanation is to be preferred to the other (e. g. K. S.) which makes this a dual in reference to the two halves of the heavens which stretch each from the zenith to the horizon. The word for "earth," 'erets, bears a meaning which may be "that which is lower," des Niedere.

Over against the claim that "the heavens and the earth" may well be the equivalent of "the universe" it is contended that "heavens" here can only mean the "firmament," as in v. 8, and "earth" can only refer to the "dry land," as in v. 10. But then the very proper question arises: why single out "heaven and earth" in this sense at all and mention their creation in v. 17 Besides, in this creation account another word is used in a broader and in a narrower sense; cf. "day" in 5a with "day" in 5b with "day" in 2:4--actually three meanings.