Here, I will systematically breakdown the first scripture in the book of Genesis. I’ve always had a fascination with this scripture, and I want to deconstruct and attempt to understand all of the knowledge and information, implicit and explicit, that is mentioned here. Read along, and please leave a comment if you disagree or think something should be expanded upon.
In the beginning
The first concept we are introduced in Genesis is the concept of time from the phrase “In the beginning”. Time is one of the fundamental signs of order and structure.
This phrase is spelled ‘ray-sheeth’. Read this article for a full dress down of this word.
If you didn’t read the article, the synopsis of it is this; perhaps the root of ‘ray-sheet’, which is roshe means “The principle part of”, and the pictograph for that word is a man’s head.
So perhaps this verse isn’t indicating a stark striking of time, but perhaps this word plays into the next word, “GOD”, and gives it a greater deference by symbolizing importance and should begin, “Most importantly”.
I don’t think so, mostly because the primary function of this portion of scripture is not to indicate the greatness of God, but is focused on the construction of the World and how it was brought into life. The theme doesn’t seem to fit this word usage.
In the beginning God
God is the second concept that is introduced in scripture. Notice how different this verse would be without the first portion. If it did not have this portion, it would simply begin “God”. Then, this would suggest that God works within the limits of time. Everything that he is going to do, is constrained by time.
In a more granular inspection, we could question, “What is God?”.
Suppose we were aliens, reading this book for this first time. How could we understand the notion of God?
Instantly, we can understand that God was at the beginning. But did God come before or after the beginning? Was God brought into being by the beginning? What is the interaction between time and God?
Here we can draw a conclusion about how this is being written. This is not an expository account of the nature of God. Rather, it is written for the reader, who may or may not ever know the limitations of God. And it does not matter if he does understand the limitations of God, because this book is intended to deal with the reader in his time, in his realm of reality, and to expound how God relates to him in this time.
In the beginning God created
This is the third of three consecutive words that deal with order and construction.
First, we have the beginning, which implicitly marks the end of something, and the creation of something new.
Second, we have God. God is understood, generally, to be the highest ideal man must strive for and that which everyone is subservient towards.
Third, we have the word created.
The word created denotes that there was already material to create something.
To get very “woo-woo” here, perhaps this material was not necessarily a physical thing, but a state of being. This state of being could be chaos.
So far, we can draw that something came to an end, and THEN there was a beginning. In general, when things come to an end, this is typically because of a chaotic force, whether that be an unknown conqueror invading a nation state (a chaotic force invading a structured society) or a hurricane touching down on a city. Perhaps all that remains of something, is a chaotic state of being.
Knowing that God represents structure and order, it seems poetic and very YING-YANG like to assume that he created order out of chaos.
Additionally, we are beginning to get a sense of this story. This is a story of structure, idealism and order in the face of chaos or perhaps nothing.
Finally, we can understand that word created indicates skill and ability in the capacity of God. It is also a testament to his character, as someone who can master something and form it in a way that he sees fit.
To some extent, we could even conclude that so far, this is God imposing himself upon the chaotic nature that he chose to work within. And maybe, this is the moment described earlier as “the beginning”. God created, and so there was a beginning. We understand that the Hebrews worked in an event derived version of time, ie; Something significant occurs, which then marks a significant occasion. It then seems likely that this is the case. Time is hedged on the marker of creation, and without the
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
The final portion of this verse deals with the subject of the creation of God. Finally, we begin to see what God is doing.
Notably, the heaven is noted first. Most interpret this as referencing the galaxy, and I disagree. I’m probably wrong, but then why would God create the firmament and then name it Heaven (1:8)? It seems that this version of heaven (1:1) encompasses the following meaning.
The first, I assert, is as a demarcation between God and man. God is understood to be the inhabit the highest order, while man is stuck in a chaotic structure where he strives to become worth of the highest ideal.
Second, there seems to be an implicit difference between Heaven and Earth, by the description of Earth in the next scripture, and the devotion of the entire chapter to God’s work on Earth. If heaven was in disarray, then it seems likely that God would work on Heaven, as much as he did heaven, but we have no record of that occurring. Instead, we see how God works to make the Earth a place worth inhabiting. This suggests to me a furthering of the ideal discussed earlier; simply Heaven is the highest order, and Earth is a place in need of structure.
The final thing I will say is this; meaning is more complicated than originally perceived. When we dive into understanding the most basic concepts, they are deeply rooted in understandings and concepts that need to broken down in order to understand the entirety of the meaning.