The most used verse in the Bible to try and prove that God created the Universe and the earth out of nothing is Genesis 1:1. Though we as believers do believe that God can create out of nothing, does this verse really teach and say that? We need to examine the Hebrew of the passage and consider that the idea of creating out of nothing has more of a traditional view when looking at this verse then a real biblical view that Moses intended. Lets look at the more literal Hebrew word for word of Genesis 1:1 below.
“In a beginning he filled and formed, God, the skies and the land”
The first thing you will notice is that there is no definite article “the” after In and that is because there is no article in the Hebrew either. The Hebrew Berisheet literally means “In (bet) resheet (first, chief, summit, beginning) with no article “hey” in Hebrew. The next Hebrew word that follows is “bara” and this word in its ancient form literally means to “form, shape and fill” The idea to create out of nothing derives from the Greek and Latin tradition. “Bara” is in the third person singular and means that Elohim filled and formed\shaped the skies and the land. We know this because the next verse in the passage reads as follows,
“And the land was without form and empty;”
Genesis 1:1 was not written to be used as a scientific explanation of how things came to be but was written to tell us how things are without question. At some point in time God shaped, formed and filled the skies and the land in 6 literal days. Let us look at more evidence of this ancient Hebraic understanding. As you continue reading Genesis we see the dividing, filling and forming.
1. Day one is the dividing of the light and the darkness. 4. Day four is the filling of the sun and the moon
2. Day two is the dividing of the sky and the waters. 5. Day five is the filling of the fish and the birds
3. Day three is the dividing of the water and the land. 6. Day six is the filling of the plants and animals\fish
On day six, Genesis 1:27, we also have the “bara” of man which is NOT the creating out of nothing but the shaping and forming of man from the dust of the ground. God then filled man with the breath of life. “Bara” is used to describe creating man and is the same Hebrew word as in Genesis 1:1. We must keep everything in its Hebrew context and not a Greek and Latin one. Genesis 1:1 is telling us what God did and not how and why.
Al Garza PhD
The Hebrew Institute.com