Genesis 1:1-2:4a

Genesis 1:1-2:4a
Easter Vigil ABC


1:1 When GodI beganII to createIII the heavensIV and the earth,V 

Notes on verse 1:1

I “God” = Elohim.
II “began” = 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.
III “create” = 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.
IV “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.
V “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.

the earth wasVI complete chaos,VII and darknessVIII covered the faceIX of the deep,X

Notes on verse 1:2a

VI “was” = hayah. This is to be or become, to happen.
VII “complete chaos” = tohu + bohu. Tohu is from a root that 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. Bohu is 3x in OT. Root might mean being empty. So, this is void or chaos or ruin.
VIII “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.
IX “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.
X “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 windXI from God sweptXII over the face of the waters.XIII Then God said, “Let there be light,”XIV and there was light. 

Notes on verses 1:2b-3

XI “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.
XII “swept” = rachaph. 3x in OT. This is to flutter or move or shake. It can also mean to relax or grow soft.
XIII “waters” = mayim. This is water, waters, or waterway in a general sense. Figuratively, it can also mean juice, urine, or semen.
XIV “light” = or. From or (to be or become light). This is light, sun, sunshine, dawn, or daylight. Figuratively, it can refer to light from instruction, light of a face (that is to say one that is cheerful or finds favor). It can refer to prosperity or salvation; a light that guides, a light eternal from Zion.

And God sawXV that the light was good,XVI and God separatedXVII the light fromXVIII the darkness. 

Notes on verse 1:4

XV “saw” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
XVI “good” = tob. From tob (to be pleasing, to be good). This is good, beautiful, pleasant, agreeable, bountiful, at ease. This word is used for goodness as a concept, a good thing, a good person. This can refer to prosperity and welfare as well as joy, kindness, sweetness, and graciousness. So, this is ethically good, but also enjoyably good.
XVII “separated” = badal. This is to divide, distinguish, select, differ, sever. It is to divine in a literal or figurative sense.
XVIII “from” = bayin. From bin (to discern, consider, attend to; distinguishing things in one’s mind or, more generally, to understand). This is among, between, interval.

God calledXIX the light Day,XX and the darkness he called Night.XXI And there was eveningXXII and there was morning,XXIII the firstXXIV day.

Notes on verse 1:5

XIX “called” = qara. This is to call or call out – to call someone by name. Also used more broadly for calling forth.
XX “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.
XXI “Night” = layil. Properly, this refers to light twisting away. It is used for night or midnight. Figuratively, this can mean adversity.
XXII “evening” = ereb. This is night, dusk, or evening.
XXIII “morning” = boqer. From baqar (to seek, plow, break forth, admire, care for). This refers to the break of day. So it is dawn, early, morning, or morrow.
XXIV “first” = echad. Perhaps from achad (to unify, continue on a path; figuratively, to gather one’s thoughts). This is the number one, first, united. It can also be alone, altogether, a certain, a few.

And God said, “Let there be a domeXXV in the midstXXVI of the waters, and letXXVII it separate the waters from the waters.” 

Notes on verse 1:6

XXV “dome” = raqia. 17x in OT. From raqa (to beat the earth in a fit of passion; by analogy to hammer something so that it is spread out or spread thin; by extension, decoratively overlaying something with metal). This is an expanse or extended surface. The dome of the firmament was thought of as metal hammered out and spread thin over the arch of the sky that we can see.
XXVI “midst” = tavek. This is among, middle, in the midst, the center. Perhaps, properly, to sever.
XXVII “let” = hayah. Same as “was” in v1:2. See note VI above.

So God madeXXVIII the dome and separatedXXIX the waters that were underXXX the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so.XXXI God called the dome Sky.XXXII And there was evening and there was morning, the secondXXXIII day.

Notes on verses 1:7-8

XXVIII “made” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
XXIX {untranslated} = bayin. Same as “from” in v1:4. See note XVIII above.
XXX “under” = tachat. This is underneath, below, the bottom, instead of.
XXXI “so” = ken. Perhaps from kun (properly, in a perpendicular position; literally, to establish, fix, fasten, prepare; figuratively, it is certainty, to be firm, faithfulness, render sure or prosperous). This is to set upright. Generally used figuratively to mean thus, so, afterwards, rightly so.
XXXII “Sky” = shamayim. Same as “heavens” in v1:1. See note IV above.
XXXIII “second” = sheni. From shanah (to fold, repeat, double, alter, or disguise). This is double, again, another, second.

And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered togetherXXXIV into oneXXXV place,XXXVI and let the dry landXXXVII appear.”XXXVIII And it was so. 

Notes on verse 1:9

XXXIV “gathered together” = qavah. It can mean to bind or gather together, especially in the sense of twisting together. In that light, it can mean collect. Figuratively, this can mean to wait, await, expect, or tarry.
XXXV “one” = echad. Same as “first” in v1:5. See note XXIV above.
XXXVI “place” = maqom. From qum(to arise, stand, accomplish, establish, abide; rising against, getting up after being sick or asleep, arising from one state to another, becoming powerful, or rising for action; standing in a figurative sense). This is a standing, which is to say a spot or space a place. It can also refer to a locality or a physical/mental condition. HaMaqom is also a Jewish name for God – the place, i.e. the Omnipresent One.
XXXVII “dry land” = yabbashah. 14x in OT. From yabesh (to dry up, be withered, be dry; to be ashamed, confused, or disappointed). This is dry land or dry ground.
XXXVIII “appear” = raah. Same as “saw” in v1:4. See note XV above.

10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered togetherXXXIX he called Seas.XL And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, “Let the earth put forthXLI vegetation:XLII

Notes on verses 1:10-11a

XXXIX “gathered together” = miqveh. Related to “gathered together” in v1:9. 12x in OT. From qavah (see note XXXIV above). This is something collected together, i.e. a pond or pool, a group of people or caravan, a drove. It can also be something that is awaited or hoped for.
XL “Seas” = 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.
XLI “put forth” = dasha. 2x in OT. This is to sprout or grow green.
XLII “vegetation” = deshe. Related to “put forth” in v1:11. 15x in OT. From dasha (see note XLI above). This is grass, a shoot, or a tender herb.

plantsXLIII yieldingXLIV seedXLV

Notes on verse 1:11b

XLIII “plants” = eseb. Root may mean to be green or to glisten. This is grass or some other tender shoot.
XLIV “yielding” = zara. This is to sow or scatter seed, conceive or yield. It can also refer to a sower. Figuratively, this can refer to other forms of dissemination.
XLV “seed” = zera. Related to “yielding” in v1:11. From zara (see note XLIV above). This is seed or sowing. It can, thus, mean a fruit, plant, sowing time, child, offspring, or posterity.

and fruitXLVI treesXLVII of every kindXLVIII on earth that bearXLIX fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forthL vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the thirdLI day.

Notes on verses 1:11c-13

XLVI “fruit” = peri. From parah (to bear fruit, grow, be fruitful, increase; bearing fruit in a literal or figurative sense). This is fruit or reward.
XLVII “trees” = ets. Perhaps from atsah (to shut, fasten, firm up, to close one’s eyes). This is tree or other things related to trees like wood, sticks, or stalks. It can also refer to wood products like a plank or staff or gallows. Additionally, this can refer to a carpenter.
XLVIII “kind” = min. This is kind, sort, or species.
XLIX “bear” = asah. Same as “made” in v1:7. See note XXVIII above.
L “brought forth” = yatsa. This is to go or come out, bring forth, appear. It is to go out in a literal or figurative sense.
LI “third” = shelishi. From shalosh (three, fork, triad). This is third or one-third of something.

14 And God said, “Let there be lightsLII in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signsLIII and for seasonsLIV and for days and years,LV 

Notes on verse 1:14

LII “lights” = maor. Related to “light” in v1:3. 19x in OT. From or (see note XIV above). This is light as an element, something that gives off light, the quality of brightness, or cheerfulness.
LIII “signs” = oth. From avah (to mark, sign, point out); OR from uth (to agree). This is a sign in a literal or figurative sense. It could be a flag or monument. It could be evidence or a mark. It could also be an omen or a miracle. 
LIV “seasons” = moed. From yaad (to appoint, assemble or gather selves, agree). This is a meeting, assembly, fixed time. It can be used for a festival or feast. It can also refer to a meeting place.
LV “years” = shanah. From shana (to change, alter). This is a year, age, old. It can also mean yearly.

15 and let them be lightsLVI in the dome of the sky to give lightLVII upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made the twoLVIII greatLIX lightsLX

Notes on verses 1:15-16a

LVI “lights” = maor. Same as “lights” in v1:14. See note LII above.
LVII “give light” = or. Related to “light” in v1:3 & “lights” in v1:14. See note XIV above.
LVIII “two” = shenayim. Related to “second” in v1:8. From sheni (see note XXXIII above). This is two, both, second, couple.
LIX “great” = gadol. From gadal (to grow up, become great, become wealthy – to advance. The root meaning may be to twist in the sense of the process of growing). This is great, high, bigger, noble, old, marvelous. It can also refer to someone who is powerful or distinguished.
LX “lights” = maor. Same as “lights” in v1:14. See note LVI above.

the greater lightLXI to ruleLXII the day and the lesserLXIII lightLXIV to rule the night—and the stars.LXV 

Notes on verse 1:16b

LXI “light” = maor. Same as “lights” in v1:14. See note LVI above.
LXII “rule” = memshalah. 14x in OT. From mimshal (dominion, ruler, authority); from mashal (to rule, reign, govern, have authority, wield). This is to rule, govern, a ream, ruler, authority, dominion, forces.
LXIII “lesser” = qaton. From qut (to cut off, be grieved; figuratively to detest). This is small, young, least, not important. It could be a small quantity, size, age, or importance.
LXIV “light” = maor. Same as “lights” in v1:14. See note LVI above.
LXV “stars” = kokab. Perhaps from the same as kavah (to prick, blister, burn, scorch). This is a star as shining, stargaze. Figuratively, can mean prince.

17 God setLXVI them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, 18 to ruleLXVII over the day and over the night, and to separate the lightLXVIII from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourthLXIX day.

Notes on verses 1:17-19

LXVI “set” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
LXVII “rule” = mashal. Related to “rule” in v1:16. See note LXII above.
LXVIII “light” = or. Same as “light” in v1:3. See note XIV above.
LXIX “fourth” = rebii. From the same as arba (four); perhaps from raba (to make something square). This is fourth or square-shaped.

20 And God said, “Let the waters bring forthLXX swarmsLXXI of livingLXXII creatures,LXXIII and let birdsLXXIV flyLXXV above the earth acrossLXXVI the dome of the sky.” 

Notes on verse 1:20

LXX “bring forth” = sharats. 14x in OT. This is to swarm, creep, abound, breed a lot, wriggle.
LXXI “swarms” = sherets. Related to “bring forth” in v1:20. 15x in OT. From sharats (see note LXX above). This is things that teem or swarm – insects, moving creatures.
LXXII “living” = chay. From chayah (to live or keep alive literally or figuratively). This is alive, living, lifetime. It can also be used to describe someone’s age. It can refer to animals, plants, water, or a company or congregation of people. It is life in a very broad sense.
LXXIII “creatures” = nephesh. Related to naphash (to refresh or be refreshed). This is soul, self, person, emotion. It is a breathing creature. Can also refer to appetites and desires.
LXXIV “birds” = oph. From uph (to fly, flee, shine, be weary, be faint). This is a flying creature.
LXXV “fly” = uph. Related to “birds” in v1:20. See note LXXIV above.
LXXVI {untranslated} = paneh. Same as “face” in v1:2. See note IX above.

21 So God created the great sea monstersLXXVII and everyLXXVIII living creature that moves,LXXIX of every kind, with which the waters swarm and every wingedLXXX bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. 

Notes on verse 1:21

LXXVII “sea monsters” = tannin. From the same as tan (jackal, dragon, whale). It may stem from a root meaning elongate. It is some kind of monster of land or sea like a jackal or a sea serpent.
LXXVIII “every” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
LXXIX “moves” = ramas. 17x in OT. This is gliding swiftly, moving with quick steps or crawling. It is to swarm or prowl or move about.
LXXX “winged” = kanaph. This is wing, edge, corner, extremity. It can also be a flap or fold of a garment or the pinnacle of a building.

22 God blessedLXXXI them, saying, “Be fruitfulLXXXII and multiplyLXXXIII and fillLXXXIV the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifthLXXXV day.

Notes on verses 1:22-23

LXXXI “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.
LXXXII “be fruitful” = parah. Related to “fruit” in v1:11. See note XLVI above.
LXXXIII “multiply” = rabah. This is increasing in any aspect whether quantity, authority, size, quality, greatness, etc.
LXXXIV “fill” = male. This is fill, satisfy, replenish, accomplish, fulfill, confirm, or consecrate. It is fill in a literal or figurative sense.
LXXXV “fifth” = chamishi. From chamesh (five). This is fifth or one-fifth.

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forthLXXXVI living creatures of every kind: cattleLXXXVII and creeping thingsLXXXVIII and wild animalsLXXXIX of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind and the cattle of every kind and everythingXC that creepsXCI upon the groundXCII of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

Notes on verses 1:24-25

LXXXVI “bring forth” = yatsa. Same as “brought forth” in v1:12. See note L above.
LXXXVII “cattle” = behemah. This is animal or cattle. It is often used of large quadrupeds.
LXXXVIII “creeping things” = remes. Related to “moves” in v1:21. 17x in OT. From ramas (see note LXXIX above). This is things that move rapidly or creep such as reptiles.
LXXXIX “wild animals” = chay. Same as “living” in v1:20. See note LXXII above.
XC “everything” = kol. Same as “every” in v1:21. See note LXXVIII above.
XCI “creeps” = remes. Same as “creeping things” in v1:24. See note LXXXVIII above.
XCII “ground” = adamah. From the same as adam (man, humankind); perhaps from ‘adom (to be red). This is ground, earth, soil as red, or land.

26 Then God said, “Let us make humansXCIII in our image,XCIV according to our likeness,XCV and let them have dominionXCVI over the fishXCVII of the sea

Notes on verse 1:26a

XCIII “humans” = adam. Related to “ground” in v1:25. See note XCII above.
XCIV “image” = tselem. 17x in OT. Root may mean to shade. This is a phantom, resemblance, illusion, image, or an idol.
XCV “likeness” = demuth. From damah (to resemble, liken, compare, consider, think). This is likeness, figure, model, shape, manner, or pattern.
XCVI “have dominion” = radah. This is to step down, rule, dominate, have victory over, crumble.
XCVII “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.

and over the birds of the airXCVIII and over the cattle and over allXCIX the wild animals of the earth and over every creeping thing that creepsC upon the earth.”

27 So God created humans in his image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    maleCI and femaleCII he created them.

Notes on verses 1:26b-27

XCVIII “air” = shamayim. Same as “heavens” in v1:1. See note IV above.
XCIX “all” = kol. Same as “every” in v1:21. See note LXXVIII above.
C “creeps” = ramas. Same as “moves” in v1:21. See note LXXIX above.
CI “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.
CII “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.

28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdueCIII it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 29 God said, “See,CIV I have givenCV you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.CVI 

Notes on verses 1:28-29

CIII “subdue” = kabash. 14x in OT. This is to subdue, tread down, trample, disregard, violate, assault, or conquer.
CIV “see” = hinneh. From hen (lo! Behold! If, though; an expression of surprise). This is to draw attention, show suddenness or surprise, or to emphasize the importance of the coming statement. See! Lo! Behold!
CV “given” = natan. Same as “set” in v1:17. See note LXVI above.
CVI “food” = oklah. 18x in OT. From okel (food, prey, meat, eating); from akal (to eat, devour, burn up, or otherwise consume; eating in a literal or figurative sense). This is food, eating, fuel, meat, consume.

30 And to every beastCVII of the earth and to every bird of the air and to everything that creepsCVIII on the earth, everything that has the breathCIX of life, I have given every greenCX plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw everything that he had made, and indeed,CXI it was veryCXII good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixthCXIII day.

Notes on verses 1:30-31

CVII “beast” = chay. Same as “living” in v1:20. See note LXXII above.
CVIII “creeps” = ramas. Same as “moves” in v1:21. See note LXXIX above.
CIX “breath” = nephesh. Same as “creatures” in v1:20. See note LXXIII above.
CX “green” = yereq. 6x in OT. Perhaps from yaraq (to spit). This is something green. It could be pallor or some kind of vegetation.
CXI “indeed” = hinneh. Same as “see” in v1:29. See note CIV above.
CXII “very” = meod. Perhaps from the same as uwd (firebrand, a poker). This is very, greatly, exceedingly. It can also mean vehemence, force, abundance.
CXIII “sixth” = shishshi. From shesh (six; figuratively, a surplus since it is one more than the number of fingers on the hand). This is sixth.

2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finishedCXIV and all their multitude.CXV On the sixth day God finished the workCXVI that he had done,CXVII and he restedCXVIII on the seventhCXIX day from all the work that he had done. 

Notes on verses 2:1-2

CXIV “finished” = kalah. This is to end, be finished, complete, prepare, consume, spent, or completely destroyed.
CXV “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.
CXVI “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.
CXVII “done” = asah. Same as “made” in v1:7. See note XXVIII above.
CXVIII “rested” = shabat. This is to rest, stop, repose, cease working. By implication, it is to celebrate.
CXIX “seventh” = shebii. From sheba (seven – the number of perfection/sacred fullness). This is seventh.

So God blessed the seventh day and hallowedCXX it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

These are the generationsCXXI of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

In the day that the LordCXXII God made the earth and the heavens,

Notes on verses 2:3-4

CXX “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.
CXXI “generations” = todedot. 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.
CXXII “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “was” in v1:2. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (see note VI 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: “The Creation” by James Tissot, between 1896 and 1902.

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