בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Paraphrase: When time began, God brought the entire universe into existence. He did not use any preexisting materials. He made everything from nothing as only God can do.
Both extremes are given (i.e. heaven and earth) denoting the entire universe. Kline wants to qualify this and insist on the more literal meaning of heaven (invisible space) and earth (visible space). Kline, God, Heaven and Har Magedon, 230.
The word אֱלֹהִים is appropriate here rather than the word YHWH which is the proper name of Israel’s God. Wenham says that this shows that the Creator is sovereign over all creation and not just over Israel. Genesis, vol 1, p15.
וְהָאָ֗רֶץ הָיְתָ֥ה תֹ֙הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ וְחֹ֖שֶׁךְ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י תְהֹ֑ום וְר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֔ים מְרַחֶ֖פֶת עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הַמָּֽיִם׃
Now the earth was formless and empty and darkness was on the face of the deep and the Spirit of God was hovering on the face of the waters.
Paraphrase: Now after God had brought all things into existence, He did not yet arrange and order everything such that the earth was livable. In fact, the earth was a swirling mass of various elements without any rhyme or reason to it. Neither was there any light; everything was dark and a confused watery mass. (Ps 104:6) In spite of all this, however, God had not abandoned His creation. The Holy Spirit was hovering over this dark, swirling, confused mass waiting for the moment when God would begin to transform this chaos into a cosmos.
cosmos = an ordered universe source
For the issues of translating this and the previous verse, go here.
וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֖ים יְהִ֣י אֹ֑ור וַֽיְהִי־אֹֽור׃
and God said, “Let there be light, and light was.
Paraphrase: The first act of God was to bring order to the darkness. To do this, He spoke, “Let there be light!” and immediately light shone into the darkness and…
The first יְהִי comes from היה but is shortened because it is a jussive; see Gesenius §4. The second יְהִי is also shortened but now because of the vav-conversive. Both a jussive and a vav-conversive will shorten a verb any chance they get.
וַיַּ֧רְא אֱלֹהִ֛ים אֶת־הָאֹ֖ור כִּי־טֹ֑וב וַיַּבְדֵּ֣ל אֱלֹהִ֔ים בֵּ֥ין הָאֹ֖ור וּבֵ֥ין הַחֹֽשֶׁךְ׃
and God saw the light that it was good, and God divided between the light and between the darkness.
Paraphrase: …was clearly distinct from it. God made this separation between light and darkness; and when He finished, He saw it and was pleased. This is how God dealt with the problem of darkness.
כִּי־טֹוב is a noun sentence.
וַיִּקְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים׀ לָהַאֹור֙ יֹ֔ום וְלַהַחֹ֖שֶׁךְ קָ֣רָא לָ֑יְלָה וַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר יֹ֥ום אֶחָֽד׃ פ
and God called the light “day” and the darkness He called “night.” And it was evening and it was morning, day one.
Paraphrase: Then God gave names to both the light and the darkness. The light He called “day” and the darkness He called “night.” By this time, the morning was long past; the evening had come bringing an end to day one.
Macdonald writes; “it [the naming] may have been intended rather to convey the idea of God’s sovereignty and absolute control over all the parts of nature, its ordinances and arrangements; just as afterwards, in token of man’s delegated rule in the lower creation, he was directed by the Creator and Owner of all, to give names to the animals around him, (Gen 2:19, 20.) The idea may be then that expressed by the Psalmist in his address to God, “The day is thine, the night also is thine: thou hast prepared the light and the sun. Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter.” And in reference to the naming of the heavens, the earth, and the seas, (verses 8-10,) it may be that it is said, “Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them. The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine; as for the world, and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them,” source also Wenham, see on Genesis 1:5.
וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֔ים יְהִ֥י רָקִ֖יעַ בְּתֹ֣וךְ הַמָּ֑יִם וִיהִ֣י מַבְדִּ֔יל בֵּ֥ין מַ֖יִם לָמָֽיִם׃
and God said, “Let there be an space in the middle of the waters, and it was a separation between the water to the water.
Paraphrase: The next day, God resumed His creative ordering of the formless and empty mass. This time, He focused on the swirling mass of water which now had light and darkness upon it. He spoke to this mass of water and said, “Let there be space between the waters above and the waters below!” Immediately, the waters separated vertically and a large space was opened between the waters above and the waters beneath. cf Psal. 104:2; Isa. 40:22
Keil writes, “there is nothing in these poetical similes to warrant the idea that the heavens were regarded as a solid mass,” see here.
וַיַּ֣עַשׂ אֱלֹהִים֮ אֶת־הָרָקִיעַ֒ וַיַּבְדֵּ֗ל בֵּ֤ין הַמַּ֙יִם֙ אֲשֶׁר֙ מִתַּ֣חַת לָהַרָקִ֔יעַ וּבֵ֣ין הַמַּ֔יִם אֲשֶׁ֖ר מֵעַ֣ל לָהַרָקִ֑יעַ וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן׃
and God made the sky and separated between the water which was under the sky and between the water which was above the sky, and it was so.
Paraphrase: This is how the sky came to be and this large space which exists between the waters above and the waters below the earth. God spoke, and it came to be.
וַיִּקְרָ֧א אֱלֹהִ֛ים לָֽהַרָקִ֖יעַ שָׁמָ֑יִם וַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר יֹ֥ום שֵׁנִֽי׃ פ
and God called the sky “heaven” and it was evening and it was morning, the second day.
Paraphrase: Then God named this space “sky”. At this, the second day came to a close.
וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים יִקָּו֨וּ הַמַּ֜יִם מִתַּ֤חַת הַשָּׁמַ֙יִם֙ אֶל־מָקֹ֣ום אֶחָ֔ד וְתֵרָאֶ֖ה הַיַּבָּשָׁ֑ה וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן׃
וַיִּקְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים׀ לַהַיַּבָּשָׁה֙ אֶ֔רֶץ וּלְמִקְוֵ֥ה הַמַּ֖יִם קָרָ֣א יַמִּ֑ים וַיַּ֥רְא אֱלֹהִ֖ים כִּי־טֹֽוב׃
וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים תַּֽדְשֵׁ֤א הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ דֶּ֗שֶׁא עֵ֚שֶׂב מַזְרִ֣יעַ זֶ֔רַע עֵ֣ץ פְּרִ֞י עֹ֤שֶׂה פְּרִי֙ לְמִינֹ֔ו אֲשֶׁ֥ר זַרְעֹו־בֹ֖ו עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן׃
וַתֹּוצֵ֨א הָאָ֜רֶץ דֶּ֠שֶׁא עֵ֣שֶׂב מַזְרִ֤יעַ זֶ֙רַע֙ לְמִינֵ֔הוּ וְעֵ֧ץ עֹֽשֶׂה־פְּרִ֛י אֲשֶׁ֥ר זַרְעֹו־בֹ֖ו לְמִינֵ֑הוּ וַיַּ֥רְא אֱלֹהִ֖ים כִּי־טֹֽוב׃
וַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר יֹ֥ום שְׁלִישִֽׁי׃ פ
וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים יְהִ֤י מְאֹרֹת֙ בִּרְקִ֣יעַ הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם לְהַבְדִּ֕יל בֵּ֥ין הַיֹּ֖ום וּבֵ֣ין הַלָּ֑יְלָה וְהָי֤וּ לְאֹתֹת֙ וּלְמֹ֣ועֲדִ֔ים וּלְיָמִ֖ים וְשָׁנִֽים׃
וְהָי֤וּ לִמְאֹורֹת֙ בִּרְקִ֣יעַ הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם לְהָאִ֖יר עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן׃
\וַיַּ֣עַשׂ אֱלֹהִ֔ים אֶת־שְׁנֵ֥י הַמְּאֹרֹ֖ת הַגְּדֹלִ֑ים אֶת־הַמָּאֹ֤ור הַגָּדֹל֙ לְמֶמְשֶׁ֣לֶת הַיֹּ֔ום וְאֶת־הַמָּאֹ֤ור הַקָּטֹן֙ לְמֶמְשֶׁ֣לֶת הַלַּ֔יְלָה וְאֵ֖ת הַכֹּוכָבִֽים׃
וַיִּתֵּ֥ן אֹתָ֛ם אֱלֹהִ֖ים בִּרְקִ֣יעַ הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם לְהָאִ֖יר עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃
וְלִמְשֹׁל֙ בַּהַיֹּ֣ום וּבַהַלַּ֔יְלָה וּֽלֲהַבְדִּ֔יל בֵּ֥ין הָאֹ֖ור וּבֵ֣ין הַחֹ֑שֶׁךְ וַיַּ֥רְא אֱלֹהִ֖ים כִּי־טֹֽוב׃
וַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר יֹ֥ום רְבִיעִֽי׃ פ
וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֔ים יִשְׁרְצ֣וּ הַמַּ֔יִם שֶׁ֖רֶץ נֶ֣פֶשׁ חַיָּ֑ה וְעֹוף֙ יְעֹופֵ֣ף עַל־הָאָ֔רֶץ עַל־פְּנֵ֖י רְקִ֥יעַ הַשָּׁמָֽיִם׃
and God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarming living animals and [let] fliers fly above the earth, on the face of the sky of heaven.
Paraphrase: On the fifth day, God filled the sky and the water. Again He did this by speaking. “Let the rivers, seas, and oceans swarm with all different kinds of animals! Let the sky also be filled with birds and other flying animals who fly above the surface of the earth and fill the sky which I created on the second day.
יִשְׁרְצוּ = jussive
וַיִּבְרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֔ים אֶת־הַתַּנִּינִ֖ם הַגְּדֹלִ֑ים וְאֵ֣ת כָּל־נֶ֣פֶשׁ הַֽחַיָּ֣ה׀ הָֽרֹמֶ֡שֶׂת אֲשֶׁר֩ שָׁרְצ֨וּ הַמַּ֜יִם לְמִֽינֵהֶ֗ם וְאֵ֨ת כָּל־עֹ֤וף כָּנָף֙ לְמִינֵ֔הוּ וַיַּ֥רְא אֱלֹהִ֖ים כִּי־טֹֽוב׃
And God created the great sea creatures and every living and moving creature which swarms the waters according to their kind and every bird with wings according to its kind, and God saw that it was good.
Paraphrase: As God spoke, the creatures He called into existence began to appear. The gigantic animals in the sea along with the tiniest fish which swarm in the waters came into existence and filled the rivers, seas, and oceans. The birds which swoop and climb in the sky also came into being as God spoke. Each animal appeared according to its specific kind. Again, God saw what He had done and was pleased.
וַיְבָ֧רֶךְ אֹתָ֛ם אֱלֹהִ֖ים לֵאמֹ֑ר פְּר֣וּ וּרְב֗וּ וּמִלְא֤וּ אֶת־הַמַּ֙יִם֙ בַּהַיַּמִּ֔ים וְהָעֹ֖וף יִ֥רֶב בָּהַאָֽרֶץ׃
and God blessed them saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the water in the seas and let the birds multiply in the earth.
Paraphrase: Then God laid His hand on the creatures He had created and blessed them. “Do you see all this empty space in the rivers, seas, and oceans? all this empty space in the sky above? This is now your home. I call on you to fill these waters and to fill this sky! Let these spaces be filled with your young. Multiply abundantly and then again and again; rejoice in this home with your young ones and let it be filled with your joy and delight in My creation.
Note the repetition of the u sound in פְּרוּ וּרְבוּ וּמִלְאוּ. more
וַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר יֹ֥ום חֲמִישִֽׁי׃ פ
and it was evening and it was morning; the fifth day.
Paraphrase: Then the morning was past and the evening was come; so passed the fifth day.
וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים תֹּוצֵ֨א הָאָ֜רֶץ נֶ֤פֶשׁ חַיָּה֙ לְמִינָ֔הּ בְּהֵמָ֥ה וָרֶ֛מֶשׂ וְחַֽיְתֹו־אֶ֖רֶץ לְמִינָ֑הּ וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן׃
and God spoke, “Let the earth cause a living creature to go forth according to its kind livestock, crawlers, and living creatures of the earth according to her kind, and it was so.
Paraphrase: On the morning of the sixth day, God focused on the dry land which was still empty. He spoke again, “Let there go out onto this dry land all different kinds of land animals. Let there be domestic animals as well as creepy-crawlies, and every different kind of creature that lives on land. As God spoke, it happened.
וַיַּ֣עַשׂ אֱלֹהִים֩ אֶת־חַיַּ֨ת הָאָ֜רֶץ לְמִינָ֗הּ וְאֶת־הַבְּהֵמָה֙ לְמִינָ֔הּ וְאֵ֛ת כָּל־רֶ֥מֶשׂ הָֽאֲדָמָ֖ה לְמִינֵ֑הוּ וַיַּ֥רְא אֱלֹהִ֖ים כִּי־טֹֽוב׃
and God made the living creatures of the earth according to her kinds and livestock according to her kinds and every animal that crawls on the land according to its kind, and God saw that it was good.
Paraphrase: Again, as God spoke, the different kinds of land animals began to appear and to take their place. From large cattle to tiny animals that crawl on the ground, they all entered into God’s magnificent creation. God looked at it all and was pleased.
Assuming the truth of Darwinian evolution, it’s difficult to understand why there are any species at all. God teaches us here that He created לְמִינָהּ. Darwin set himself the task of finding the Origin of the Species; contemporary scholarship doesn’t appear to be any closer to a naturalist explanation of species.
וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֔ים נַֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה אָדָ֛ם בְּצַלְמֵ֖נוּ כִּדְמוּתֵ֑נוּ וְיִרְדּוּ֩ בִדְגַ֨ת הַיָּ֜ם וּבְעֹ֣וף הַשָּׁמַ֗יִם וּבַהַבְּהֵמָה֙ וּבְכָל־הָאָ֔רֶץ וּבְכָל־הָרֶ֖מֶשׂ הָֽרֹמֵ֥שׂ עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃
and God said, “Let us make human in our image, according to our likeness and he will rule over the fish of the sea and over the bird of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over all crawling animals which are crawling on the earth.
Paraphrase: Having seen all the animals created and settled in their places, God now set about the work which He had been aiming at all along. In the eternal mystery of His Trinitarian Godhead, He announced with great delight that it was now time to create humans. These human persons will take charge of everything I have created, but this is not all. The really incredible thing that will happen on this day, is that we will create something entirely unique and different from all the other animals I have created. Humans will be like us in many important respects. None of the other animals did I create to be like us. With humans, we will be able to communicate and fellowship. They will be able to think and make free choices just as we do. We will be able to invite them to join us (Jn 17:24) in our eternal relationship of joy and gladness. (Prov 8:30)
See here for the image of God.
וַיִּבְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים׀ אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙ בְּצַלְמֹ֔ו בְּצֶ֥לֶם אֱלֹהִ֖ים בָּרָ֣א אֹתֹ֑ו זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה בָּרָ֥א אֹתָֽם׃
and God created the human in His image, in the image of God, He created him male and female He created them.
Paraphrase: Then God did it. He spoke and called into existence the first human person. Unlike all the other creatures, this person was created to be a person similar to God Himself. Neither did God stop here, but He went on to create women as well. Both genders are equally made to be like God and are able to fellowship with Him in gladness and joy.
Just as v1 gave us a general statement of God creating and then the following verses fill in the details, so here we have a general statement of the creation of humans in both genders and chapter 2 follows with more detail.
וַיְבָ֣רֶךְ אֹתָם֮ אֱלֹהִים֒ וַיֹּ֨אמֶר לָהֶ֜ם אֱלֹהִ֗ים פְּר֥וּ וּרְב֛וּ וּמִלְא֥וּ אֶת־הָאָ֖רֶץ וְכִבְשֻׁ֑הָ וּרְד֞וּ בִּדְגַ֤ת הַיָּם֙ וּבְעֹ֣וף הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וּבְכָל־חַיָּ֖ה הָֽרֹמֶ֥שֶׂת עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃
and God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue her and rule over the fish of the sea and over the bird of the heavens and over all living animals crawling on the earth.
Paraphrase: Then just as God had blessed all the other animals which He had made, so God blessed the humans. He gave them the same mandate He had given to the animals. “This is now your land,” God announced. “Make the earth your home; fill it with children and let your growing families rejoice in all that I have created. Take the earth and put it to work for your needs. Rule over the animals and use them to advance your pleasure and to make the world a better place. This is why I created you in My image; so that you could take My creation and continue what I’ve started. I want you to create beautiful things with what I have given you.
וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים הִנֵּה֩ נָתַ֨תִּי לָכֶ֜ם אֶת־כָּל־עֵ֣שֶׂב׀ זֹרֵ֣עַ זֶ֗רַע אֲשֶׁר֙ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י כָל־הָאָ֔רֶץ וְאֶת־כָּל־הָעֵ֛ץ אֲשֶׁר־בֹּ֥ו פְרִי־עֵ֖ץ זֹרֵ֣עַ זָ֑רַע לָכֶ֥ם יִֽהְיֶ֖ה לְאָכְלָֽה׃
and God said, “Behold, I give to you all plants seeding seeds which are on the face of all the earth and all trees which are on it, fruit trees seeding seed. To you it will be for food.
Paraphrase: “Now look,” said God to the first humans, “I have set you in the midst of a beautiful garden. Here are plants of all kinds growing and producing seeds which will make even more plants. Furthermore, see these trees which are also bearing edible fruits and which produce their own seed such that you never need to worry about losing this food source. New plants and new trees will always be growing. Now all these plants will supply an abundance of food for your sustenance and enjoyment.
Note the lamed of advantage on לְאָכְלָה.
וּֽלְכָל־חַיַּ֣ת הָ֠אָרֶץ וּלְכָל־עֹ֨וף הַשָּׁמַ֜יִם וּלְכֹ֣ל׀ רֹומֵ֣שׂ עַל־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־בֹּו֙ נֶ֣פֶשׁ חַיָּ֔ה אֶת־כָּל־יֶ֥רֶק עֵ֖שֶׂב לְאָכְלָ֑ה וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן׃
and to all the living animals of the earth and to all bird of the heavens and to all animals who crawl on the earth which are on it, living creatures, all green plants for food and it was so.
Paraphrase: The same applies to the animals. They too will find an abundance of good food in the plants and trees which I have created.
וַיַּ֤רְא אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשָׂ֔ה וְהִנֵּה־טֹ֖וב מְאֹ֑ד וַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר יֹ֥ום הַשִּׁשִּֽׁי׃ פ
and God saw what He made and behold, it was very good, and it was evening and it was morning the sixth day.
Paraphrase: God stepped back and looked over what He had made. This time, He was very pleased. The morning of the sixth day was now long past and the evening had come. marking the close of the sixth day.