Genesis 1:1 Bible Study
These are notes I made to study Genesis 1:1 in a session with other believers.
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Hebrew transliterated with verbs
Genesis 1:1 in Hebrew reads: "Bereishit bara Elohim et hashamayim ve'et ha'aretz."
The verb bara [translated made] indicates third person singular masculine. For a plural, it would have been baru. Thus, it reads "Elohim...made" -- singular subject not plural.
The heaven of the first verse is actually a plural – the heavens.
Beginning. reshiyt, the "head-part, beginning" of a thing, in point of time (Genesis 10:10), or value (Proverbs 1:7). Its opposite is achariyth Isaiah 46:10. (re'shiyth).
"In the beginning," is always used in reference to time. Here only is it taken absolutely.
1:1 Message-ONE GOD CREATOR
The major literary tradition bearing witness to monotheism began in the Hebrew Bible. It was established in the clearest form by the first verse of the Bible, Genesis 1:1. The tradition continued throughout the Old Testament, and carried over into the foundational writings of Christianity, the New Testament, and also into Islam's Qur'an. http://creationwiki.org/Monotheism
Geisler - 1:1 message is Monotheism
Of the same view is the article entiled PRIMITIVE MONOTHEISM by Norman L. Geisler, Ph.D., found in the Christian Apologetics Journal, Volume 1, No.1 (Spring 1998) at page 1
http://www.ses.edu/Portals/0/journal/articles/1.1Geisler.pdf Here is an excerpt:
The Bible teaches that monotheism was the earliest conception of God. The very first verse of Genesis is monotheistic: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). All the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, reflect an early monotheism (Gen. 12-50). This reveals one God who created the world and who, therefore, is prior to, more than, and different from the world. These are the essential elements of theism or monotheism. Likewise, long before Moses, Joseph clearly believed in a moral monotheism. His refusal to commit adultery was because it would be a sin against God. While resisting the temptation of Potiphar's wife he declared: "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" (Gen. 39:9).
The other book in the Bible that reflects an ancient pre-Mosaic period, Job, clearly has a monotheistic view of God. There is good evidence that the book of Job was set in pre-Mosaic patriarchal times (see below). It speaks of an "almighty" (see 5:17; 6:14; 8:3, etc.) personal God (cf. 1:7-8) who created the world (38:4) who is sovereign over it (42:1-2).
No other Creator
Isaiah 44:24Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;
Jesus - greatest command - Lord is ONE
American Standard Version
Mark 12:29-30. Jesus answered, The first is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one:." [Jesus is quoting verse, Deut 6:4, saying "Yahweh is one." It did not get translated well there.]
Barnes commentary on Jesus’s remarks:
Barnes' Notes on the Bible
Hear, O Israel! - This was said to call the attention of the Jews to the great importance of the truth about to be proclaimed. See Deuteronomy 6:4-5.
The Lord our God ... - Literally, "Yahweh, our God, is one Yahweh." The other nations worshipped many gods, but the God of the Jews was one, and one only. Yahweh was undivided; and this great truth it was the design of the separation of the Jewish people from other nations to keep in mind. This was the "peculiar" truth which was communicated to the Jews, and this they were required to keep and remember forever.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Jesus answered him, the first of all the commandments is,.... Christ replied at once, without taking any time to consider of it, that the chief and principal of all the commands of the law, and what is of the greatest importance is, hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. The Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions read, "one God"; but the Syriac, and Ethiopic render it, "one Lord"; and that rightly, agreeably to the Greek text, and to Deuteronomy 6:4, from whence this is taken. This passage of Scripture, to the end of the ninth verse, is the first of the sections which were put into their phylacteries; See Gill on Matthew 23:5; and was repeated twice every day, morning and evening; which is by the Jews called from the first word , "the reading of the Shema":
Wikipedia on Elohim
Elohim is a plural formation of eloah, the latter being an expanded form of the Northwest Semitic noun il el ). It is the usual word for "god" in the Hebrew Bible, referring with singular verbs both to the one God of Israel, and also in a few examples to other singular pagan deities. With plural verbs the word is also used as a true plural with the meaning "gods".
The singular forms eloah and el are used as proper names or as generics, in which case they are interchangeable with elohim.
In Hebrew the form of the word Elohim, with the ending -im, which normally indicates a masculine plural, however with Elohim the construction is usually grammatically singular, (i.e. it governs a singular verb or adjective) when referring to the Hebrew God, but grammatically plural (i.e. taking a plural verb or adjective) when used of pagan divinities (Psalms 96:5; 97:7).
Psalm 96:5 = Example of Elohim with plural verb to signify false gods
For all the gods of the peoples are idols; But Jehovah made the heavens. (ASV)
Cross-reference of Hebrew for Gods in Psalm 96
http://biblos.com/psalms/96-5.htm inks to
Strongs on Elohim
Phonetic Spelling: (el-o-heem')
Short Definition: God
pl. of eloah
NASB Word Usage
divine (1), divine being (1), exceedingly (1), God (2326), god (45), God's (14), goddess (2), godly (1), gods (204), great (2), judges (3), mighty (2), rulers (1), shrine* (1).
angels, exceeding, God, very great, mighty
Plural of 'elowahh; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative -- angels, X exceeding, God (gods)(-dess, -ly), X (very) great, judges, X mighty.
see HEBREW 'elowahh
Hebrew Matthew usage of Elohim
Matthew ch. 16
(16) And Simon called Petros / Peter answered and said, Thou art the Messiah, that is the Kristo / Christ the Son of the living God (Ben-Elohim-Chai’m) who has come into this world.
(26) And Jesus looking upon them said to them, With men the matter is difficult /
this is impossible; but with God (Elohim) all things are easy / possible.
(21) They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Return /
Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and unto God (Elohim) the things that are God's (Elohim’s).
(32) “I Yahweh am the Elohim / God of Abraham, and the Elohim / God of Isaac, and the Elohim / God of Jacob”? If so, God (Elohim) is not the God (Elohim) of the dead, but of the living.
(37) And he said unto him, Thou shalt love Yahweh, your Elohim
the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Elohim is similar to a uniplural noun. A uniplural noun can be used to indicate an object in the singular or plural sense. Example: The word sheep can be used to describe one sheep or many sheep. Example: Deer. One deer was at the lake. Many deer are in the woods. Even though Elohim is the plural form of the word, it is ALWAYS translated in the singular form when used in reference to the one true God.
Verb "created" - plural or singular?
In http://www.israelofgod.org/elohim1.htm, we learn:
In Hebrew, a numerically plural noun has three characteristics:
It receives a plural suffix;
It receives a plural verb;
It receives a plural adjective
So the first thing we must check about Elohim is whether it gets a plural adjective and plural verb, because this will tell us whether or not it is a numerical plural denoting multiplicity. In the very first verse of the Torah we read ... "Elohim (he) created". Were Elohim a numerical plural, the verse would have to say ... "Elohim (they) created". Indeed, the word Elohim appears in its plural form over 2000 times throughout the Hebrew Scriptures and in virtually every instance it has a singular verb. It is always "And Elohim (he) spoke to Moses " and never "And Elohim (they) spoke to Moses ". The same thing can be found with the adjective. The adjective for Elohim is singular, not plural. Thus we find "righteous (sg) Elohim" (Ps 7:10) and not "righteous (pl) Elohim".
It is worth noting that the word Elohim is not always a majestic plural. When referring to the pagan gods, the term Elohim is usually a numerical plural. For example, the second commandment forbids us to worship "other (pl) gods". In this phrase, not only does Elohim have the plural suffix, but it receives a plural adjective "other (pl)." This tells us that in the second commandment Elohim is used not as an majestic plural but as a numerical plural denoting multiplicity. The prohibition is not against a specific "other (sg) god" but against any "other (pl) gods"
Other references in Genesis to God/El/Elohim
Genesis 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God (El- -singular); Genesis 17:3 And Abram fell on his face: and God (Elohim- -plural) talked with him. God (El- -singular) appeared to Abram. Only one individual appeared in Genesis 17:1, but in 17:3, that same individual, God (Elohim- -plural), appeared to Abram.
Isaiah 45:21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God (Elohim, plural) else beside me; a just God (El, singular) and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Verse 22: Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God (El, singular) and there is none else.
Created. ba¯ra¯', "create, give being to something new." It always has God for its subject. Its object may be anything: matter Genesis 1:1; animal life Genesis 1:21; spiritual life Genesis 1:27. Hence, creation is not confined to a single point of time. Whenever anything absolutely new - that is, not involved in anything previously extant - is called into existence, there is creation Numbers 16:30. Any thing or event may also be said to be created by Him, who created the whole system of nature to which it belongs Malachi 2:10. The verb in its simple form occurs forty-eight times (of which eleven are in Genesis, fourteen in the whole Pentateuch, and twenty-one in Isaiah), and always in one sense.
Phonetic Spelling: (baw-raw')
Short Definition: choose
choose, create creator, cut down, dispatch, do, make fat
A primitive root; (absolutely) to create; (qualified) to cut down (a wood), select, feed (as formative processes) -- choose, create (creator), cut down, dispatch, do, make (fat).
The heaven of the first verse is actually a plural – the heavens.
cfr. verse 8: heaven is different word in Hebrew:
Gen 1: 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
Patrick 1695 Commentary
A commentary upon the first book of Moses, called Genesis By Simon Patrick
(1695) at 1.
Verse 1. In the beginnings The World is not eternal, but had a beginning, as all Philosophers acknowledged before Aristotle. So he himself informs us, L. 1. de Cœlo, cap. 2. ( speaking of the ancient Opinions concerning the Original of the World). They all say it had a. beginning : But some thought it might have no End others judged it to be Corruptible.
God created. He who is Eternal gave a Being to this great Fabrick of Heaven and Earth, out of Nothing. It is observed by Eusebius (in the beginning of his Book De Prœpar. Evang. p. a I, & 25. Edit. Paris.) That neither the ancient Historians, nor the Philosophers, do so much as mention God, No, not so far as to name him, when they write of the beginning of the World. But this Divine Law-giver, designing to hang the whole Frame of his Polity, upon Piety towards God, and to make the Creator of all, the Founder of his Laws, begins with him. Not after the manner of the Egyptians and Phœnicians, who bestowed this adorable Name, upon a great Multitude : But puts in the Front of his Work, the Name of the sole Cause of all things the Maker of whatsoever is seen or unseen. As if he had told the Hebrew Nation, That he who gave them the Law contained in these Books, was the Ring and Law-giver of the whole World: Which was,like a great City, governed by him. Whom therefore he would have them look upon, not only as the Enacter of their Laws; but of those also which all Nature obeys. See L. VII. De Pr<epar. Evang. c. 9,10. L. XII. c. 16. <
The Heaven and the Earth. The Hebrew Particle Eth, put before both Heaven and Earth , signifies as much as with, if Maimonides understood it aright; and makes the Sense to be this: He created the Heavens, with all things in the Heavens, and the Earth with all things in the Earth as his Words are in More Nevochim , P. II. cap. 30. Certain it is these two words, Heaven and Earth, comprehend the whole visible World. Some would have the Angels comprehended in the word Heaven particularly Epiphanius, Hære£ LXV. n. 45. But others of the Fathers are or a different Opinion, as Petavius there observes. It is a pretty Conceit of Theophilus Antiochenus, L. 2. ad Autolycum, That the Heavens are mentioned before the Earths to show that God's Works are not like ours: For he begins at the top, we at the bottom : That is, he first made the fixed Stars and all beyond them, (so I take the word Heaven here to signifie) for they had a beginning, as well as this lower World , though they do not seem to be comprehended in the fix,days Work,, which relates only to this Planetary World, as I may call it, which hath the Sun for its Center. And thus Philo understood the first word Berefchith, in the beginning, to respect the order wherein things were created. God began his Creation with the Heaven, as the most noble Body, and then proceeded to the Earth $ an account of which follows.