Monday, October 23, 2006

Dissolving an Unmade Universe

Genesis/Bereishit chapter 1:

First of all, God created the heavens and the earth.

And the earth had been welter and waste, and darkness on the face of the Deep — and a wind of God fluttering on the face of the water.

And then God said, "Let there be light!" — and then light was...

And then God said, "Let there be a solid sheet within the water, and let it separate water from water."

And then God made the solid sheet, and separated the water below the solid sheet from the water which was above the solid sheet...

And then God said, let the water collect under the heavens in one place, and let the dry land appear..."
So what do we have here, in this sketch of the primordial universe?

We have Water. Tehom. The Deep.

And then the Water is split by the Solid Sheet, the Raqia‘.

And the solid sheet, like a translucent dome, separates the Water Above from the Water Below.

And then the Water Below condenses, precipitating out Dry Land or draining into the hollows of a Land that may have already existed, hidden under or within the Deep.

Over the next few days, God filled the world with life.

Bereishit/Genesis 6:

...And then the earth became destructive before God's face — and the earth became full of petty theft...

"...And me, behold I bring the Dissolving — water on the earth — to destroy all flesh which has within it a wind of life, from under the heavens..."

Bereishit/Genesis 7:

In the six-hundredth year of Noahh's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month — on that day, all the springs of the great Deep were broken through and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.
Imagine what's going on here — the first practical stage of creating a habitable world was when God separated the Upper Water from the Lower Water by means of the Solid Sheet, opening up a space between them in which life could exist. In order to wipe out that life now, God releases the Dissolving by going back and unmaking Creation. The Raqia‘ holding up the Water Above is opened up, and the earth holding down the Water Below is broken through, allowing the waters to flood back into the 'middle' Earth. The world has to be remade from scratch, and so God is pressing 'rewind' on God's heavenly DVD.


Blogger Elie said...

Interesting point! Seems so obvious in retrospect, but I've never seen it put in focus that way before.

Question: Is the translation above yours, or from a published English chumash? My personal favorite translation is Living Torah's. My 2nd-to-least favorite is Artscroll. In my estimation it's almost as bad as KJV, just in the opposite direction.

10/24/2006 12:06 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

The translation is mine, except for the phrase "welter and waste" for תוהו ובוהו which is from Robert Alter.

10/24/2006 1:33 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

תהו ובהו = tzazye ve-reikanye

10/24/2006 4:03 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...

= Irrsal und Wirrsal (Buber/Rosenzweig)

10/25/2006 2:11 AM  
Blogger Knitter of shiny things said...

Middle Earth!!! (Yay for Tolkein references, whether intentional or not.)

10/25/2006 11:02 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

of course intentional!

10/25/2006 11:28 AM  
Anonymous habib of kiwijewpundit said...

In te Reo, it is translated thus:

"kahore he ahua o te whenua, i takoto kau"

10/25/2006 6:46 PM  
Anonymous habib of kiwijewpundit said...

Here is the link, btw.

10/25/2006 6:47 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Cool, thanks Habib!

Any idea how to parse it out?

I'm going to guess something like...

tohu and bohu was the earth, on tehom darkness

(based solely on my knowledge of "te") :-P

10/25/2006 7:18 PM  
Anonymous habib of kiwijewpundit said...

kähore -- no, not
he -- intensifier
ähua -- form, nature, appearance
whenua* -- land, Earth
takoto -- lying down
kau -- alone, unique

So something like "lacking was the form of the Earth, and existing alone"

Here is a good basic online dictionary:

*(interestingly, whenua also means placenta, or afterbirth).

10/25/2006 8:06 PM  
Blogger thanbo said...

I have a problem with the whole story; see here

10/29/2006 8:33 AM  

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