I study the Torah every year using the teaching tools of Scripture. (Why?)
Today is the 1st Sabbath of the annual Torah cycle: parashah (Torah portion) Bereisheet / In the beginning, Gen 1:1-6:8. Read Genesis 1:1-6:8 at Bible Gateway.
I can see that this parashah forms a chiastic structure, and can even see the complex bookends of it, but I have not seen its middle or its central axis yet. I am posting what I have so that others might take up the ball and run with it:
Gen 1:1-6:8, annual cycle bereisheet (in the beginning)
1A) Gen 1:1-2:3, The LORD’s pleasure in the goodness of His creation;
1) Gen 1:1-2, God created the heavens and the earth + Spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters;
2) Gen 1:3-2:1, Six days of creation + God saw everything that He had made, and it was very good;
3) Gen 2:2-3, Rest on the seventh day;
2A) Gen 6:1-8, The LORD’s grief in the wickedness of His creation;
1) Gen 6:1-4, Spirit of God shall not strive with flesh forever:
1a) Gen 6:1, Daughters of men born;
1b) Gen 6:2, Sons of God took them for wives;
CENTRAL AXIS) Gen 6:3, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he is also flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years;”
2b) Gen 6:4a, Children of the sons of God;
2a) Gen 6:4b, That the daughters of men bore to them.
2) Gen 6:5-7, God saw man’s wickedness, and was grieved + destroy what He had made;
3) Gen 6:8, Noah (“comfort, rest”) found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
The 1A and 2A elements each are composed of a list of three matching ordered elements (three is a sign of Messiah in Torah; in fact, all of this history is preaching the gospel of grace). The first ordered element in the 2A element itself forms a smaller chiastic structure.
The middle section is bookended with God’s warning of mortality for disobedience, in Gen 2, and the repeating list of the mortality of Adam’s generations in Gen 5. Then there are three exiles as a consequence of sin (three is a sign of Messiah in Torah): Adam and Eve’s exile from God’s presence and Eden (Gen 3); Cain’s exile from his family (Gen 4); and mankind’s exile from life (Gen 5).
We cannot miss the glaring lesson of Gen 5: Torah establishes the pattern ad nauseam that the end of every man is death, but then it breaks the pattern with Enoch, who walked with God and did not die. This is the gospel of grace!
I suspect that part of the difficulty in working out the chiastic structure of this section, lies in the fact that there are numerous smaller structures within it, and the larger structure will reveal itself as the smaller structures are worked out.
This is why I can study the same passage of Scripture year after year and never become bored with it or come to the end of the treasure it contains!