Thursday, July 26, 2012

When Genesis 1:9 and Culture Collide

Genesis 1:9: Let the Waters Under the Skies Be Collected to One Place

וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים יִקָּו֨וּ הַמַּ֜יִם מִתַּ֤חַת הַשָּׁמַ֙יִם֙ אֶל־מָקֹ֣ום אֶחָ֔ד וְתֵרָאֶ֖ה הַיַּבָּשָׁ֑ה וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן׃

“Then God said, ‘Let the waters under the skies be collected to one place, and let the dry ground be visible.’ And it was so.”

Brief explanatory introductory note: You might have noticed that last time I translated שָׁמָיִם (shamayim) as “sky,” but in Genesis 1:1 and here, I translated it as “skies.” The translation “skies” (or “heavens”) is because of the –ayim (dual) ending of this word. I translated the occurrence of this word in Genesis 1:8 as “sky” because it was occurring in a context in which a singular object was being named: the “dome.” I thought it would be strange to say in English, “And he named the dome ‘skies.’” But that would have been the most literal translation.

I think it’s interesting that here we first encounter the term יַבָּשָׁה (yabashah, “dry ground”). It shows up only 15 times in the entire Old Testament (and only twice in Genesis). We come across it again tomorrow, so keep this in mind. There is a reason this word is being used. (Hint: Just as the word “dome” was used only to be later defined as “sky,” so the word “dry ground” is being used to be later defined in verse 10 as ________. Don’t cheat. Look back at Genesis 1:1 and see if you can notice a pattern.)

At this point in the creation account, we’ve finally come across the point at which God has created the part of the world on which all of life—including humanity—is eventually going to dwell.

Lend Me Your Thoughts

What do you make of the language of the waters being “collected to one place”?

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