Genesis Chapters 1 – 5 Overview
Genesis 1:1. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The author uses seven words in Hebrew to draw us into the narrative. The author naturally wants us to ask several questions. He provides us the vital information that there is a God. But not just a God, but Gods. As in more than one, for the word Elohym, pronounced El-o-heem, is the plural form of the word God.
Hebrew, like Greek, places the point of emphasis at the beginning of the sentence. Therefore, the sentence focuses on the fact that there is a beginning and that beginning happened when God, in the plural form, did something. What did they do? They created the heavens and the earth. Therefore, the text says, “There was a beginning. That beginning happened when God in the plural form worked together. What is it they did together? They made or created something. What is it that they created? The heavens and the earth.
Therefore, the author is boldly wanting us to see and ask the following:
- Something began. There was a beginning.
- That God in the plural, meaning more than one God worked together. (More on this in another study)
- They worked together to do something.
- What was it they did?
- They created something (more on what they created in another study).
- That the something being created or made was the heavens and the earth.
- They, as in El-o-heem, are asking you to do the following.
- To accept by faith or trust that there is more than one God.
- They existed before the beginning of what they created or made because if they didn’t exist before then, they could not have created or made it.
- That they created the heavens and the earth.
- And the author naturally arouses your curiosity to ask, “what was the earth’s condition before they began creating?” (See verse 2)
- How do they know the heavens and earth’s condition? (See verse 2)
- How did they create the earth? (See verses 3 – 31)
That is a lot packed with these seven Hebrew words. Those seven Hebrew words are poorly translated into English, using ten words to create the text we are familiar with. “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the earth.” In Hebrew, it looks like this. “Be-shit El-o-heem Bara eth Shamayim eth Erets.” God makes a bold statement. “There was a beginning. At that beginning, We (plural form of God) created. What did we create? The heavens and the earth.
Then God asks a question which is an implied question, but nevertheless a question. The author asks us the implied question: “Will you trust that We (God in the plural form) created the heavens and the earth?” Why is this important? Because the theme of trust will be asked again and again throughout the creation story.
By the way, the actual creation story is found in Genesis chapters 1 – 5, with a natural break in the narrative at Genesis 2:4a. Some Bible commentators will end the creation story with chapter 3 and others with chapter 4. But the actual creation story ends when the family of Adam is listed. Why is this? Because that marks the end of Adam’s story, preparing us for the next story. The question of trust or faith will be repeated throughout the rest of sacred scriptures and Biblical history.
In our following study, we will continue with verse two.