Genesis 1:2 – The brooding wife

1:2 “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (ESV).

Why did God begin the creation with this form and void? What is especially interesting is the Spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters. Again, let’s have some lexical fun. The word “Spirit” is commonly known as “ruach” (Hebrew) or “pneuma” (Greek), the first meaning “wind/breath”, whilst the latter (as we can immediately see the LXX’s theological imposition of translating “wind”) is more specifically spirit or an exhaled breath. This ‘wind/breath’ of God was hovering over the face of the waters as the ESV suggests. However, this word “hovering” is quite interesting – the original Hebrew ( מְרַחֶ֖פֶת ), “rachaph” seems to lean towards “brood” rather than “hover”. This is one brooding wind! Not only that, but the Greek for rachaph, επεφερετο”, in the lexicon referred to as “φερω” suggests “bearing” (like a mother “bearing” a child). For what other reason does the feminine ruach of God (which, although in the Greek is a singular neuter, but in the Hebrew is feminine – a detail we should not overlook) bear/brood over the face of the waters? Perhaps the next verse will reveal much, but let’s gather out thinking.

1:2b therefore states that (my translation): “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the (female) wind/breath of God was brooding/bearing over the face of the waters”. More on the person of the Spirit later, and why his paradoxical femininity (as a role) is quite significant.

Let me ask… why did God create the earth like this? Why did he not create everything in a different procedure? Or perhaps made man first before the animals? Why did he not cut from Christ a world of life – but rather, he cut from Christ a world that is ‘without form and void, and dark’? This formless water which constitutes the make-up of the entire earth at that point, with much semblance to the Global Hydro-Punishment in Noah’s time – what does it mean? Jeremiah 4:19-28 provides the intra-biblical context – the earth that was without form and void shall be seen as “desolation” (4:27), a punishment in response to Israel’s foolishness and rebellion against the Christ.

Yet we can start putting the puzzles together – a world that is desolate is a world without Christ – yet didn’t I just say in the previous post that the heavens and the earth was cut from Christ? Rightly so, and it was cut and detached from the head (Christ), just like the Israelites who were cut off from the richness of the olive tree (Romans 11:21-22). For how can a formless world without the breath of God, made through Christ, have life?

And we can see that in a manner of these few words, we see the gospel being preached. God displayed the utter fallen nature of a world without Christ – a nation without Christ – a person without Christ. To Him, the non-Christians are the living dead, mere dry bones waiting for His breath to enter the dead bones to lay sinews, give flesh, cover with skin and put His breath inside for the sake of life – predestined as a Christian to know that He is the LORD (Ezekiel 37:5-6; Romans 8:26-30). So also, God created life by the Spirit in the Virgin’s womb, a barren womb of darkness through which Old Testament saints like Isaac, and the incarnate Christ was born in the life of the Spirit with the Spirit in Him so that he knows that the LORD is his Father, and gaining Godly wisdom by the Spirit (Luke 2:52;1 Corinthians 2:9-16). Simply put, without the Spirit, there can be no life in Him (John 3:5; Romans 8:26-30) – life not defined by what the eyes see, but what the LORD recognises (Isaiah 6:9-10).

Now that we understand the work of the Spirit, who is the Spirit, referred to as the third Person of the Trinity? A “him” whom we can grieve as in Ephesians 4:30, yet given a feminine role in the Hebrew? He indeed is a separate Person who speaks (Ezekiel 11:5), seen in visible form as a dove at Christ’s physical baptism.

Gender is something we should never underplay in the entirety of Scripture. For evangelical liberals and feminists, with their twisting of gender interpretation by their progressive philosophies have opened a pandora’s box of biblical eisegesis, subsuming Ephesians 5 and 1 Corinthians 11 under the banner of Galatians 3:28 for egalitarianism. Yet, gender role is exactly what God mandates for the sake of gospel-preaching, as if anything we do in life has any significance besides (1) worship of Him, and (2) evangelism by our worship of Him. Our human marriages, our ecclesiastical structures, our family-units, if following the pattern which the Pauline epistles exposed, can only be redeemed if the Triune nature of our God is preached. Without these gender roles, then we lose much of the delight which Scripture reveals about the Three Persons, and at once we are presented with a sweeping water-brush, diluting the role of the Three Persons, immediately making them inter-changeable and substitutional.

The pattern is obvious – the Son plays a feminine role to the Father, as the wife plays a feminine role to the husband. So the feminine “earth”, γη, הָאָֽרֶץ׃ which was without form or void, in direct contrast to the male “heavens”, ουρανος, הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם – that all things on earth submit to our God in the heavens; that the Son submits to the Father; that the wife submits to the husband — and following from the logic, that the feminine Spirit submits to the Father as the excellent wife (Proverbs 31:10), providing wisdom for Christ and Christians, and giving life to the formless earth as we shall see from v. 3 onwards.

What exactly happens when the Spirit gives life?

We already saw it in Ezekiel 37:5-6 pertaining to the conversion of a non-Christian to being born-again, prophesying what will happen to us (should we fall asleep in Him before the great Day) on His Second Coming; we already saw what he can do with the barren wombs of the likes of Sarah and the Virgin; and so also, the darkness of the world will continue to linger on in our pitiful souls had we not accepted the Spirit’s regeneration into our hearts. That the pit, the abyss, the deep where the fallen angels dwell, where darkness is but a shadow of eternal second death, and light is a shadow of eternal communion with Him (Revelation 21:22-27), the Light of lights. Lest we fall into the trap of Persian Zoroastrianism which worships the dualism of light and darkness, the diminished cult is yet again a mere shadow of Christ conquering Satan – and much like the sorrow of the religions in this world, they touch upon the gospel of Christ preached by God’s creation (Romans 1:20), yet take away God’s glory and honour by using the shadows as the focal point of their worship, making unfounded conjectures and twisting the symbolism of light and darkness to their own theology.

So also, the Spirit, as the excellent brooding ‘wife’ (in submission and in relation) to the Father, is much like a mid-wife, hovering, brooding, bearing – in anticipation for action, expectant of his participation in life bursting out of darkness through Christ.

The final translation is thus:

“The (feminine) earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep/abyss/pit. And the (feminine) breath of (masculine) God was brooding/bearing over the face of the waters.”

And so, in the same way, let us not forget that creation indeed pours out the truth of evening being inevitably conquered by the morning, the darkness being inevitably conquered by light, not because of some philosophical mish-mash, but simply because it preaches the anti-God inevitably being overcome by the Father, fulfilled in Christ and applied by the Spirit. Let us wake up everyday and remember the Spirit’s work in brooding over the void, the deep, and His work in response to the Father’s command to give the seal of eternal life to all things who love him and are called according to his purpose in the Sent One.

Genesis 1:2 – The brooding wife

Genesis 1:1 – In Christ, God cut the heavens and the earth

Now the constantly misunderstood beauty of Genesis 1-4 is its poetic undertone, which should not necessarily be made a purely analogical fare, given the anthropological Darwinian influence of these latter days. The Hebrew for “day”, “yom“, has been consistently used to display a day from evening to morning, as the Old Testament Jewish tradition displayed – not an eon, not a generation, not a day = 1000 days (and even then old earth/theistic evolution/evolution/progressive creationists prefer not to see the latter half of 1000 days = 1 as well!).  I’ve heard people say that since the sun and moon were not created until day 4, it is likely that time was measured differently before day 4.  I can’t help but feel that these bible interpretations are, again, an attempt to mold theology to our contemporary scientific understanding of the universe.  If our theology is culturally/socially/scientifically defined, then we’re opening a gate whereby the Bible is not given the objective context it is due.  Here, God himself states that it is a day, from ‘evening to morning’ – nothing to do with moon or sun.  This phrase pops up first with the separation of light and darkness on Day 1 – so we can safely assume that God (there is a mutually constituting relationship between time and eternity; it is not as if God was eternal, and THEN he created everything to be played out in time), when he says ‘evening and morning’ did not suddenly change his definition in day 4, when evening and morning should be self-explained on Day 1.  Should we wish to bend to the majority of our scientific counterparts’ interpretations and say that these evenings and mornings must have lasted some many tens of millions of years, then we might as well learn the new art of Scriptural-bending. For when analogy, prophecy and symbolism is used throughout Scripture, God never makes it vague and always provides the context like here – and just because the first chapter starts like a poem, it does not immediately follow that the description of ‘day’ must be merely poetic – as if ‘poem’ is a license for heresy.

Without any necessity to rely on extra-biblical evidence (as if it is ever our highest authority… haha), God himself reveals to Moses that “there was evening and there was morning, the first day”, and this stanza He repeats continually (1:5; 1:8; 1:13; 1:19; 1:23; 1:31; 2:2). By 2:2, the poetic undertone changes, the stanza no longer repeats, and we switch straight into the narrative — “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation”.

What’s this business about blessing the seventh day? Were the previous days not blessed? Why the sudden switch from poetic to narrative, and the exclusion of the stanza “there was evening and there was morning, the ___ day”? For the everlasting Day, the eternal Sabbath and Jubilee, needs no evening, nor morning — for there will only be capital D-ay, the light that was and is and will be good (v.4). More on this when we look at the verse in detail.

Now let us turn to look @ verse by verse:

1:1-2 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters”.

“εν αρχη εποιησεν ο θεος τον ουρανον και την γην”

Now, the LXX translates αρχη (arxh) as beginning, origin, outset, prime, principle, start, threshold – and undoubtedly many translations, and the more reliably literal ones such as ESV, KJV and NASB opt for “beginning”. Yet, much like the OT saints, apostolic and reformed fathers, the LXX is much like the NIV of our time – common, loose and possibly biased with the translator’s theology (or at least interpreted by men with their own theological agenda). The same word is this, in the original Hebrew: בְּרֵאשִׁית

Bereishit bara Elohim, “bereishit” being the same αρχη and בְּרֵאשִׁית referred to earlier. What does this mean? Both the Greek arxh, and the Hebrew word bereishit, if split into its root combinations (be, reish, it — reish, which is “rosh” without vowels, meaning “head”). If reish of bereishit gives the literal translation: “At the head”, we are thus given more exegetical insight. For who is the head of the heavens and the earth? Colossians 1:16-18 is a big give-away: “For in (as the footnote suggests) him all things were created, in heaven and on earth…And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head (using the same arxh in the Greek) of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” And Hebrews 1:2: “…he (the Father) has spoken to us by the Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he (the Father) created the world.”

And the word “God”, as Elohim ( אֱלֹהִ֑ים )? A singular noun which is a plural of “El” – God – yet maintaining His Oneness. For our Lord God is one as Moses muses in Deuteronomy 6:4 (footnotes of ESV): “The LORD is our God, the LORD is one”. Why this term of expression? The LORD is our God, the LORD is one — sounds somewhat redundant. Who else can play the role of kurios, when the modern day Jews assume the Unitarian nature of “God” throughout the entire Old Testament? And yet this LORD is the same LORD who brought them out of Egypt, the same LORD who brought the Israelites to the Promised Land. Did the LORD contradict himself? Surely it was the Angel of the Lord who fulfilled that role, not the LORD himself? Judges 6:11-18, Exodus 3:5. No – we are not to assume that the modern day Jews are to hold some sort of theological hierarchy over us post-apostolic Christians. For what does non-second born Jewish theologians have in common with Old and New Testament Christians? Nothing, save a platform for persuasion that the Angel of the LORD is the LORD – the angel, ‘malak’, the messenger, the sent one from the second Lord on Mt. Sinai. He is no Metatron or given some unbiblical name as the Talmudic writings suggest — within its own right, Gideon, Joshua, Moses, just to name a few saints, knew the Angel as the LORD. And Moses rightfully defends the Trinitarian nature of ONE God to prevent the pluralistic idolatry in Exodus 32:4, a perversion of the one Angel in the pillar of cloud and fire, who brought the Israelites through the Baptism of the separation of the waters to meet the second Lord, the first person of the Trinity.

Finally, the word ‘bara‘ ( בָּרָ֣א ) – which is translated into ‘create’ in the English, but more accurately it means ‘cut’ as it has been commonly used in the instance of cutting covenants. Quoting Leon Sim in his sermon on Hebrews 10:

This is what Berkhof says about this word. “Its original meaning is to split, to cut, to divide… The word itself does not convey the idea of bringing forth something out of nothing.” Now here’s a bit of irony for you – this quote is taken from a section entitled “Creation as an act by which something is brought forth out of nothing”.

I guess I can see the irony too. Ex nihilo? More like Ex Christos. Poor Athanasius in his “On the Incarnation of the Word” – his tangential point in this classic theological piece would have had that much more focus on the alpha of Christ if God had created all things out of Christ, therefore the universe finding its only meaning in Christ alone. Rather, ex nihilo preaches a doctrine of nothingness, that we are to return to nothingness – to dust. But that is not what the Bible teaches – for all things will be recreated, and all unbelievers and believers arisen from their sleep on the Day. Is the teleology of the universe therefore nothingness? No – the teleology, the omega, of all things is also Christ. Whether all creatures and men find their timeless eternity in Christ, however, is something only the Christian men and beasts can take part in, much to the dismay of the rest of the God-rebelling creation.

Now, with the aid of the LXX and the Hebrew Scriptures, we can translate it sensitive to its intra-biblical context with the theological oomph:

“At the head (Christ) God (the Father) cut the heavens and the earth (by the Spirit)”. These are my theological add-ons in the bracket – and by no means is it forceful to understand the first two verses in the Bible with Trinitarian spectacles, for our Triune LORD was, is and will always be ONE. What better way therefore to start the Scriptures than with the Holy Family?

Genesis 1:1 – In Christ, God cut the heavens and the earth