christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

genesis 1:1-6:8, annual parashah bereisheet, “in the beginning”

Read Gen 1:1-6:8 at Bible Gateway.

I am in the middle of organizing my notes, admittedly a herculean task as moving and remodeling is not conducive to organization! However I discovered something today in the process that I had not seen before … so here we go:

One of the teaching tools of Torah is the Hebrew paragraph divisions. My article on the teaching tools states:

“God’s paragraph divisions, when He has concluded one topic and is ready to go on to the next, are included in Hebrew Bibles, but not in English translations. There are two kinds – a weak division and a strong division. A weak division indicates another facet of the same theme. A strong division indicates a new theme.

“These paragraph divisions have been preserved through generations by the Hebrew scribes who faithfully copied every letter of Scripture. They were discarded by the English translators. But God has divided His paragraphs the way He has (which admittedly, sometimes do not make sense to human logic) for a reason – He is trying to make a point! He is trying to teach us something! Where the paragraph divisions AREN’T are often just as telling as where they are!”

Usually when I begin to study a new passage of Scripture, the first thing I do is mark the paragraph divisions. Then I read through each paragraph, as God has bounded them (keep in mind that some paragraphs are one verse long, as Gen 3:16, and some paragraphs are chapters long), and meditate on that passage. I ask the Holy Spirit my Teacher, “What is Your topic theme of this paragraph, Father?” When I have an answer, I write it down in my notes. So the first seven paragraphs of Genesis are divided this way:

Gen 1:1-5 p First day of Creation
Gen 1:6-8 p Second day of Creation
Gen 1:9-13 p Third day of Creation
Gen 1:14-19 p Fourth day of Creation
Gen 1:20-23 p Fifth day of Creation
Gen 1:24-31 p Sixth day of Creation
Gen 2:1-3 p Seventh day of Creation

The “p” is a paragraph marker. The “p” is the marker for the strong paragraph division (I use a “p” in my notes because the name for this marker in Hebrew, p’tuchah, begins with a “p” sound). The next paragraph following a “p” marker begins a new topic or theme.

And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 2:9

The next paragraphs of Genesis are divided this way:

Gen 2:4-3:15 s Disobedience to YHVH’s command is sin
Gen 3:16 s Consequence for the woman (painful toil)
Gen 3:17-21 p Consequence for the man (painful toil)

The “s” is the paragraph marker for the weak paragraph division. (I use an “s” in my notes because the name for this marker in Hebrew, stumah, begins with an “s” sound). The next paragraph following an “s” marker usually begins a new facet of the same theme.

You notice that the distance from one strong “p” paragraph marker to the next, is Gen 2:4-3:21. Since Gen 2:4-3:15 ends in an “s” marker, the next paragraph continues the same theme already begun, just a different facet of it. We do not change to a new theme, in God’s way of thinking, until we have come to the next “p” marker. To me that means that Gen 2:4-3:21 can be summarized as a single overarching theme which encompasses all three paragraphs. So in my notes, I add that topic or theme summary:

Gen 2:4-3:15 s Disobedience to YHVH’s command is sin
Gen 3:16 s Consequence for the woman (painful toil)
Gen 3:17-21 p Consequence for the man (painful toil)
– Disobedience is sin, and carries the consequence of painful toil and death

We have already seen that the annual and triennial Torah readings divide from week to week at Hebrew paragraph markers. We have seen that the paragraph markers reveal the chaistic structures. We have seen both the annual and the triennial Torah readings form their own complete larger chiastic structures. We have seen that usually each paragraph itself also forms its own smaller chiastic structure. I have also seen that each separate topic or theme, no matter how many weak paragraphs are within it, also usually forms its own chiastic structure. So woven throughout Scripture is a uniquely elegant pattern of greater and smaller and overlapping chiastic structures, which separate at the Hebrew paragraph markers, the triennial and annual Torah readings, AND the strong “p” paragraph markers. Whew!

That is why I say the symmetry and elegance of the chiastic structures is so amazing, and a thumbprint of the Holy Spirit on the written Word of God. Torah appears to be a straightforward historical narrative at first glance, and yet all of this wisdom, prophetic insight, and symmetry is woven throughout without once disturbing either the narrative or the symmetry and elegance of neighboring passages. It is simply impossible for a human mind and human logic to construct.

So as I was going through my notes for the annual parashah bereisheet, Gen 1:1-6:8, I noticed that while I had completed writing down the theme of each separate paragraph, I had not completed writing down the overarching themes between each “p” division, nor had I completed writing down the overarching theme for each triennial Torah portion or each annual Torah portion.

But finding the single theme for the annual portion, Gen 1:1-6:8, was proving difficult. It just seemed to my own logic that so many different elements were present. It is times like these where I must knock on my Heavenly Teacher’s door, and knock, and knock … and go away, and meditate on the passage, and reread my notes, then come back and knock some more, and keep on knocking, LOL. Didn’t Yeshua tell us that for the one who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door will be opened? Yes He did (Mat 7:7), and it has proved true for me every time.

To help me see the bigger picture, I wrote out the summaries for each of the sections bounded by the “p” markers:

Gen 1:1-2:3 px7 Elohiym is our Creator
Gen 2:4-3:21 s+s+p Disobedience is sin, and carries the consequence of painful toil and death
Gen 3:22-6:4 sx11+p Exile and death follows from sin and walking with the flesh; but life follows from walking with YHVH
Gen 6:5-8 p YHVH will destroy His creation because their wickedness was great, but Noah found grace in His eyes

And what do you know? Another chiastic structure appeared! It’s central axis turned out to be the topic theme of this entire Torah portion!

Gen 1:1-6:8
1a) Gen 1:1-2:3 px7, Elohiym is our Creator;
1b) Gen 2:4-3:21 s+s+p, Disobedience is sin, and carries the consequence of painful toil and death;
central axis) Gen 3:22-6:4 sx11+p, Exile/ death follows from sin/ walking in flesh, but life follows from walking with YHVH;
2b) Gen 6:5-6, YHVH saw man’s wickedness, and was grieved that He had made him;
2a) Gen 6:7-8 p, He will destroy what He had made.

So wow, this is all very esoteric information, but what on earth does it have to do with me? No matter how bad the wickedness of man got or how corrupt the earth became, there was one man who did not suffer because of it: Enoch, the man who walked with God. No matter what is going on around us, walk with God (that does not mean the same thing as God walking with us. It means, find out His path and His program, and set your feet on it and conform yourself to it) and all will be well. :)


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