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rector," as Pliny expresses it; it has, with the moon, the dominion (memshalah) over day and night: the light is independent of the sun, and days are earlier than that luminary. Lastly, the Deity is described as if bound to time and space: he creates portion by portion, like an architect whose power is limited; and, having examined how his work has succeeded, he reposes after his labour.
Verily he who restricts himself to the letter of this cosmogony, and applies to it Herschel's discoveries or Buffon's hypothesis,-he who with Michaelis calculates, according to Euler, how long the fixed stars must have been created before the first man could have perceived them,—who with Frayssinous, speaks of latent heat, or a central terrestrial fire, as necessary in order that plants should grow,—or of another light than that of the sun,—to such a man, not only is all sense for poetry and antiquity closed, but also, to speak plainly, all feeling for the pious and elevating object of the writer. But still more is there an absence of poetical and classical taste in him who derives each step of the narrative through inspiration from the Deity, in order that this cosmogony “may far exceed everything that we know from the wise men of the ancient world.”
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,
Verse 1.—This verse is closely connected with the following one, and is by no means a complete and independent act of creation; nor is it, as some imagine, a summary of the whole, hut merely a general phrase connected by the conjunction, and, which we would render thus :- When God in the beginning formed the heaven and the earth,” &c.; as in verse 4, “ When God saw ... then he divided,” and frequently in other passages.
Jarchi has remarked that the Hebrew word ré’shyth, an abstract denominative from ro'sh, and meaning the beginning, never stands absolute, but is always accompanied by another noun as its nominative': we have however no need to change biro' into the infinitive, with Jarchi and others, but simply to supply hakkól “in the beginning,' i. e. 'of things. The simplest meaning by which we could render it would be that of “time of yore' or 'primitive time?' According to the allegorical explanation of some Rabbins, which the Targum of Jerusalem follows, in translating it bichokma, ré’shyth has a philosophical meaning, as if it signified the Principle or the Divine Wisdom as the aider in creation; and therefore the ancient Christians referred it to the Logos, which from the beginning created the world with Gods. The Valentinians explained John i.1, thus :—"The Logos was in the Principle, i.e. in Christ;" and thus it came to pass that, from the time of Augustine, the Trinity has been sought for both in this word and in the plural Elohim*,
an interpretation which we may justly leave to the Rabbins. The Hebrew words Shamáyim and 'Ereç (translated heaven and earth) stand opposed,—the latter signifying the low, (Arab. Ardz), and the former signifying the high, (Arab. Sama), as also they should be here translated, for God does not name them until afterwards. Aben Esra conceived the true derivation of the word Shamáyim; but Kaiser, on the contrary, takes the same ground as Jarchi, who regards it as a compound of Shém and Máyim. The word is
1 Gen. x. 10; xlix. 3. Jerem. xxvi. 1 ; xxviii. 1. Prov. viii. 22. 2 Isaiah xlvi. 10.
3 Clemens Alex. p. 759, Potter. 4 See Introduction, p. 143.
2 and the earth was
a waste and void, and darkness
rally.considered an old plural form, but Hartmann' has recently, and perhaps correctly, attributed the same force of the dual to words of a similar termination, because a certain duality is everywhere manifested.
[Professor Tuch observes, in his Commentary on Genesis, p. 18, that the Hebrews here used the expression 'heaven and earth,' according to the etymology of the high and the low,' to signify the universe, for which they had no corresponding word. Thus heaven and earth are spoken of in Deut. xxxii. 1, Isaiah i. and other places; and the glory of the Lord is described as above the earth and heaven,' Psalm cxlviii. 12.]
Verse 2.--Thóhu va bóhu [a waste and void) are abstract words, and form a proverbial phrase, in order to designate a chaotic mass, in a superlative sense. This expression is particularly frequent in the later writers, as in the prophecied judgement against Edom?, in Psalm cvii. 4; Jerem. iv. 23; Job xii. 24 ; Deut. xxxii. 10. We must here give a caution, that some Pietists have hazarded the translation, against the language and the context, that "the earth became waste and void,”-in order to find an allusion to the fall of man !-Thihóm, of the roaring of the flood, is constantly applied by the poets to the sea, as well as to the ocean of the heavens3; and the ásúooos of the Septuagint would disturb the picture. Earth and sea are here conceived, just as in the Egyptian cosmogony in Diodorus*, to be mingled turbidly; for in verse 9, the dry earth first appears raised up, when the waters have been separated.
[Professor Tuch remarks on thóhu va bóhu, that these Hebrew words properly mean 'a waste and void,' (a desert and nothings, Aq.). The first word thóhu means a pathless wilderness,' (as in Psalm cvii. 40; Job xii. 24, vi. 18, and Deut. xxxii. 10), and the Tragedians describe the wilderness in a similar manner,
363. 3 See note on Gen. vii. 11. 5 κένωμα και ουδέν. Αq.
2 Isaiah xxxiv. 11.
[was] upon the surface of the deep, but the breath of God
as a pathless desert', untrodden and uninhabited by mortals. In Arabic it is called tih.—The second word bóhu (Arab. buhi) means 'the void,' and is always placed near thóhu repeated, apparently from this passage, in Jerem. iv. 23, “Lo it [the earth] was waste and void," (Luther's translation); and again in Isaiah xxxiv. 11,
“He [the Lord] shall stretch over it (the land of Idumæa) a measuring-line, that it shall be waste, and a plummet, that it shall be void.” (Luther's translation.) Thóhu and bóhu are used together as words having a similarity of sound in their ter. mination, just as sho'ah umesho'ah, in Job xxx, 3, and shemamah umeshammah, in Ezek. vi. 14. See Gesenius, Lehrg. p. 857.]
Rúach Elohim (breath of God] is not a thick mist, as Johannsen interprets it ; and still less is it, as Philo and many ancient expositors ? imagine, a strong wind, sent to dry the earth, but it means the creating and vivifying power of God conceived as breath3: and agreeably to this sense the verb is chosen, for rachap signifies to waver, to move gently; in the Syr. it is to brood or flutter over, as it is applied in Deut. xxxii. 11, to the eagle; and in this latter sense it is understood by the Syrians, the Arabians, and Jarchi, as a dove over the nest. Undoubtedly the very widely diffused idea of a world-egg, (which we must not introduce into Genesis) lies at the foundation of this conception*; supposing the Deity to have brooded over the chaotic matter. The old question, whether the previous existence of chaos is here generally admitted, or a creation out of nothing is taught, is one which we can only reply to with Burnet”, that it cannot be proved from any
data that the Mosaic chaos proceeded at that time out of mere nothing;” and again, (i. 7) that the doctrine of the creation of material substances out of nothing appears to have first made its appearance in Christian theology." No ancient cosmogony, in speculating philosophically upon the origin of things, has been able
1 άβατος ερημία, βροτοίς άστειπτος, ουδ' οικουμένη. (Eschylus,Prom. Vinc.) 2 Compare Von Lengerke, De Ephraem. Syri Arte hermen. p. 32. 3 Job xxvi. 13; Psalm civ. 29; Gen. ii. 7, and elsewhere. 4 See Alt. Indien, i. 162.
5 Archæol. Telluris, ii, 9.
3 moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let
to rise to this abstract idea ; but some cosmogonies (among which the earlier are the most unconstrained) have left chaos unmentioned, as the Zendavesta and Menu, which begins like Genesis “This (idam) was dark, unknown, in undetermined being, indistinguishable,” &c. The philosopher first demands the existence of matter, and the Hindoo speculations especially, as Wagner' justly remarks, have “ exhausted, in a multiplicity of cosmogonies, all forms which other times and peoples appropriated singly to them. selves.” Abulfadhl was acquainted with no less than eighteen Hindoo speculations, (without reckoning the single modifications to which each sect attaches importance), and these are divided, to use the expression of modern science, into Vulcanists and Neptunists. At one time Chaos is dissipated into primitive atoms, and the atomical doctrine is taught; at another time, an eternal, motionless matter is placed at the side of the Deity; but most frequently the doctrine of emanation is propounded, according to which the Creator produces everything, thinking, speaking, in playful mood, or self-absorbed in perfect tranquillity. Johannsen is inclined to ascribe also such an emanative production to Genesis, and with this view he gives an ingenious derivation of Bara, from the root bhri, comparing Bar, ‘son,' &c., and giving to it the sense of begetting, instead of that of polishing. But Bara has long lost this sensuous signification, and is invariably the most abstract verb for the causing to be produced, as in Isaiah xliii. 1, speaking of the people of Israel, and generally for forming and causing?; nor is the choice of the verb to be urged, for the Hindoos also use the word 'to milk' (duh) in speaking of the production of the Vedas, and even srij, emittere,' is of a sensuous nature.
This idea of emanation however is, above all, contradicted by the whole of the description in Genesis, since the rude and shapeless matter assumes form at God's command; and we shall probably be nearest to the truth in attributing to the author the thought, that the first existing element consisted of the waters
Allgem. Mythol. p. 88.
Compare Jerem. xxxi. 22.