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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Leupold Genesis part 29 verse 2

2. And now, as far as the earth was concerned, it was waste and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was hovering upon the face of the waters.

Of the two parts of the universe mentioned the author abandons the first, "the heavens," as lying outside of the sphere of the present investigation, for of its creation we need not know or perhaps could not understand its details. Moses definitely limits himself to the second of the two parts by emphatically setting "the earth" first in the sentence. This yields a shade of thought which our translation above tries to reproduce by saying: "And now, as far as the earth was concerned." Or one might render: "Now this earth," etc. As has been remarked, from this point onward the point of approach may be said to be geocentric.

By an outstanding double expression (cf. for similar combinations 18:27 and 21:23) an almost onomatopoeic effect is secured to describe the utmost of an unformed and unshapen mass: "waste and void" --tohu wavohu. Tohu is really a noun used as an emphatic adjective (K. S. 306 r), as is also, of course, bohu. The verb "it was," hayethah, cannot bear the emphasis in a sentence where two such significant predicates follow (K. S. 326 b). It must merely serve as a copula (K. S. 338 q). Consequently, all attempts to put into this verb some thought like: the earth then was there, or lay thus for quite a time, are grammatically quite inadmissible. Now tohu as such means originally unformedness (K. W.) and so can come to mean a "waste" only in the sense of being not yet put into shape, not in the sense of having been laid waste by some catastrophe, as all those would postulate who try at every point to make room for geologic periods of development. All later usage of the word points in the same direction. It occurs once again with bohu, (Jer 4:23). In (De 32:10) the parallel thought is "wilderness." Isaiah uses it to describe the unreality of idols. In (Isa 41:29), where it is rendered "confusion," its parallel is "wind," and similar terms are "vanity" and "nought." Similarly, (Isa 40:17) offers as parallels: "nothing" and "less than nothing." Cf. also (Isa 40:23; 49:4; 1Sa 12:21). The passage (Je 4:23) is not at variance with these claims, for though it pictures a state of desolation by the quotation of the whole phrase tohu wavohu, it evidently means that the land is again to be reduced to a state like unto the primeval chaos. (Isa 24:10) is analogous. Bohu is derived from a root "to be empty," therefore "emptiness." It is applicable to a region without inhabitants of any kind. Its thought is clearly distinct from tohu. Both terms together then indicate two directions in regard to which the newly created world will undergo further changes: first, it must be shaped and formed into definite molds; secondly, it must be peopled with all kinds of inhabitants or beings.

The next sentence, "and darkness was upon the face of the deep," indicates the last two deficiencies or incompletenesses characteristic of this newly formed earth--"deficiencies" being here taken not in the sense of a positive defect but negatively as mere want of those things which in the purpose of God were consecutively to be supplied. The verb "was" carries over from the preceding clause and need not be repeated here. All of what had thus far come into being was wrapped in complete and absolute darkness. This is the first deficiency. The second touched upon in this sentence is that which lay under the darkness was "the deep." Yet even here the expression used is not merely "upon the deep" but "upon the faces of the deep." This "deep" had a variety of aspects, "faces." In fact, since "deep," tehom, from the root hum, "to resound," signifies the surging, raging primeval waters, the term implies anything but a monotonous peace and uniformity. Besides, the absence of the article stamps the word as a kind of proper noun, viz. that one and only primeval deep. Whether now this original form is characteristic cf the whole earth or merely of its surface; whether it involved an earth that had, as it were, a solid kernel but merely a disturbed surface; or whether solid matter and water were originally churned up into one vast conglomerate neither solid nor liquid, no investigation on our part will ever determine.

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