Genesis 1:1-2, 26-27 & 2:1-4
Easter Vigil – A Women’s Lectionary
1:1 In the beginningA when GodB createdC the heavensD and the earth,E
Notes on verse 1:1
A “beginning” = reshith. From rosh (head, captain, or chief; excellent or the forefront; first in position or in statue or in time). This is beginning, first place, highest rank, chief thing.
B “God” = Elohim.
C “created” = bara. This is to create, shape, choose, or select. It is the word used in Genesis 1:1 when God created the heavens and the earth.
D “heavens” = shamayim. Root may mean being lofty. This is sky, the air, or heaven. It is in a dual noun form so this might refer to the part of the sky where the clouds move on the one hand and the part beyond that where the sun, moon, and stars are on the other hand.
E “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
2 the earth wasF a formlessG voidH
Notes on verse 1:2a
F “was” = hayah. This is to be or become, to happen.
G “formless” = tohu. Root may mean a wasteland or desert. This is desolation or waste. Figuratively, it refers to emptiness, chaos, confusion, futility, something worthless or meaningless, or unreality. Used as an adverb, it can mean in vain.
H “void” = bohu. 3x in OT. Root might mean being empty. So, this is void or chaos or ruin.
and darknessI covered the faceJ of the deep,K
Notes on verse 1:2b
I “darkness” = choshek. From chashak (to be or become dark). This is literal darkness is contrast to light. Figuratively, it can be obscurity, sorrow, misery, blindness, wickedness, destruction, death. It can also be hiding places. Additionally, it can mean judgment, mourning, ignorance, evil, or sin.
J “face” = paneh. From panah (to turn, face, appear). This is face in a literal or figurative sense. It could be face, presence, anger, respect. It can also be used of God to indicate divine favor or presence.
K “deep” = tehom. Perhaps from hum (to roar, murmur, cause an uproar, agitate; to defeat in battle, destroy). This is the deep or the abyss. Either understood as a formless empty place of nothingness or as a place of confusion filled with water – the deep the feeds the waters of the earth.
while a windL from God sweptM over the face of the waters.N
Notes on verse 1:2c
L “wind” = ruach. This is breath, wind, air, cool, spirit. This is wind, which resembles the breath and so this can be used figuratively for life itself or being frail/mortal/impermanent. It can refer to the air of the sky or the spirit.
M “swept” = rachaph. 3x in OT. This is to flutter or move or shake. It can also mean to relax or grow soft.
N “waters” = mayim. This is water, waters, or waterway in a general sense. Figuratively, it can also mean juice, urine, or semen.
26 Then God said, “Let us makeO humankindP in our image,Q according to our likeness;R
Notes on verse 1:26a
O “make” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
P “humankind” = adam. Perhaps from adam (to be red, make ruddy); related to adamah (ground, dirt, earth). This is man, humankind, also Adam’s name. It refers to a human individual or humanity.
Q “image” = tselem. 17x in OT. Root may mean to shade. This is a phantom, resemblance, illusion, image, or an idol.
R “likeness” = demuth. From damah (to resemble, liken, compare, consider, think). This is likeness, figure, model, shape, manner, or pattern.
and let them have dominionS over the fishT of the sea,U
Notes on verse 1:26b
S “have dominion” = radah. This is to step down, rule, dominate, have victory over, crumble.
T “fish” = dagah. 15x in OT. From dag (fish, fishing); perhaps from da’ag (to fear, be worried, sorrow, be concerned, be anxious, be sorry). This is fish – perhaps as creatures that move by squirming.
U “sea” = yam. Root may mean to roar. This is the sea, often referring to the Mediterranean. It comes from the root in the sense of the roar of crashing surf. This word is sometimes used for rivers or other sources of water. It can mean to the west or to the south.
and over the birdsV of the air,W and over the cattle,X and over allY the wild animals of the earth, and over everyZ creeping thingAA that creepsBB upon the earth.”
Notes on verse 1:26c
V “birds” = oph. From uph (to fly, flee, shine, be weary, be faint). This is a flying creature.
W “air” = shamayim. Same as “heavens” in v1:1. See note D above.
X “cattle” = behemah. This is animal or cattle. It is often used of large quadrupeds.
Y “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
Z “every” = kol. Same as “all” in v1:26. See note Y above.
AA “creeping thing” = remes. 17x in OT. From ramas (gliding swiftly, moving with quick steps or crawling; to swarm or prowl or move about). This is things that move rapidly or creep such as reptiles.
BB “creeps” = ramas. Related to “creeping thing” in v1:26. 17x in OT. See note AA above.
27 So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
maleCC and femaleDD he created them.
2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished,EE and all their multitude.FF
Notes on verses 1:27 & 2:1
CC “male” = zakar. From zakar (to remember, to mark something so that it can be recalled, to be mindful of, to mention). This is male. Properly, perhaps, it means one who is remembered, which is to say a male.
DD “female” = neqebah. From naqab (to pierce, bore holes, puncture; to make a hole more or less forcefully; also to curse or libel). This is female or woman from an anatomical reference.
EE “finished” = kalah. This is to end, be finished, complete, prepare, consume, spent, or completely destroyed.
FF “multitude” = tsaba. From tsaba (to wage war, serve, assemble, fight, perform, muster, wait on). This is a large group of persons (used figuratively for a group of things). It implies a campaign literally as with army, war, warfare, battle, company, soldiers. Can also be used figuratively for hardship or for worship.
2 And on the seventhGG dayHH God finished the workII that he had done,JJ and he restedKK on the seventh day from all the work that he had done.
Notes on verse 2:2
GG “seventh” = shebii. From sheba (seven – the number of perfection/sacred fullness). This is seventh.
HH “day” = yom. Root may mean being hot. This is the day in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean birth, age, daylight, continually or other references to time.
II “work” = melakah. From the same as malak (messenger, an angel, or a deputy; human messengers literally or for prophets, priests, or teachers as messengers of God; also supernatural messengers i.e. angels). Properly, this is a deputyship or some kind of work. It can also be the product that comes from labor.
JJ “done” = asah. Same as “make” in v1:26. See note O above.
KK “rested” = shabat. This is to rest, stop, repose, cease working. By implication, it is to celebrate.
3 So God blessedLL the seventh day and hallowedMM it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.
4 These are the generationsNN of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
In the day that the LordOO God made the earth and the heavens,
Notes on verses 2:3-4
LL “blessed” = barak. This is to kneel, to bless. It is blessing God as part of worship and adoration or blessing humans to help them. It can be used as a euphemism to say curse God.
MM “hallowed” = qadash. From qodesh (set apart and so sacred; God is different from us and so God is holy/set apart; things we dedicate to God’s service are set apart for God and so they, too, are holy). This is set apart, consecrated, hallowed, sanctified. This is something or someone that is set apart for a holy purpose or use – ceremonially or morally clean.
NN “generations” = toledoth. From yalad (to bear, bring forth; can mean to act as midwife or to show one’s lineage). This is generations descent, family, or history.
OO “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “was” in v1:2. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (see note F above). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
Image credit: “Eve” by dominique boursier, 2011.