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6072Re: [ANE-2] What happened at the first of ELOHIM creating the skies and the land?

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  • Ariel L. Szczupak
    Sep 16, 2007
      At 07:52 PM 9/16/2007, Peter T. Daniels wrote:

      >No, and although it occupies a full decorated page, it ends with a
      >comma; the passage continues.
      >"when the earth was wild and waste, / darkness over the face of
      >Ocean, / rushing spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters--
      >God said: Let there be light! And there was light."
      >(No main verb until v. 3.) He has a note on "At the beginning" but
      >not one on why he does not take bara' as a finite verb form.

      Since I deal more with non-biblical inscriptions than with biblical
      texts, i.e. texts that don't have the phonetics provided by something
      like the masoretic tradition, I have to point out that there is
      potential way to read Gen 1:1 as meaning "in the beginning of god
      creating the ..."

      Without the traditional phonetics, the "raw" text, "BR)$YT BR)
      )LHYM", can be interpreted phonetically both as "bereshit bara
      elohim" (the traditional reading, "in the beginning god created ...")
      and "bereshit bro elohim" ("in the beginning of god creating ...").

      In this potential reading ("bro" instead of "bara") 1:1 is an
      incomplete sentence and 1:2 has to be appended to complete it. It
      seems that's how the translators interpret the text because there is
      no capital letter at the beginning of 2:1.

      However ...

      First, that is not the traditional phonetic reading or division into
      sentences. Since there is a tradition, the Occam's Razor approach is
      to assume the tradition is correct, not mistaken. And this is the
      very first sentence, the one everyone hears before drifting into
      happy thoughts or light sleep - it is harder for a mistake to creep in.

      Second, if 1:1 and 1:2 were a single sentence, I'd expect 1:2 to
      start with "vehayta ha'arets" instead of "veha'arets hayta" (e.g Gen 9:13).

      Third, the semantics, and the semantic difference between the two
      versions, 1:1 then 1:2 vs. 1:1-2, is subtle.

      The creation of the skies is complete in 1:8 and the creation of the
      land in 1:10, when the created entities are named.

      In the traditional interpretation 1:1 is a generic description with
      1:2 through 1:10 providing the details. Specifically 1:2 describes
      the conditions before god started doing anything.

      In an interpretation that sees 1:1-2 as a single sentence, 1:2 would
      describe something related to the beginning of the creation process.
      But it is clear that the specific actions start at 1:3 with the
      creation of light, and 1:2 describes something before that.

      It hinges on the correct interpretation of "breshit bro elohim" (if
      this potential reading is not ruled out) and it's not simple (for me)
      to illustrate the difference in English:

      If it means "in the beginning of the creation process ...", a 1:1-2
      interpretation is possible and you can append "the pre-creation
      conditions were so and so".

      But if it means "as god actually started creating ...", appending
      "the pre-creation conditions were so and so" doesn't work since his
      very first action changed those conditions.

      Did I manage to convey the difference? It's like "there was darkness
      when god created light" works, but "god created light and there was
      darkness" doesn't.

      My understanding of "breshit bro" is that it refers to the initial
      actions and excludes the pre-action initial conditions. E.g. I'd
      expect a similar expression with the verb to walk, "breshit halokh",
      to mean something that refers to, at the earliest, the first step. If
      the pre-action conditions were to be included, another form would be
      more appropriate "bereshit bri'at".

      I see no reason why this potential reading (if the phonetics of
      masoretic tradition are ignored) should be adopted over the
      traditional one, and I see reasons why it shouldn't.


      [100% bona fide dilettante ... delecto ergo sum!]

      Ariel L. Szczupak
      AMIS-JLM (Ricercar Ltd.)
      POB 4707, Jerusalem, Israel 91401
      Phone: +972-2-5619660 Fax: +972-2-5634203
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