christine's bible study

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

genesis 1:1-2:3, bereisheet, according to its kind

Read Genesis 1:1-2:3 at Bible Gateway.

I study the Torah every year using the teaching tools of Scripture, (Why?) especially the Hebrew paragraph divisions and chiastic structures. The paragraphs marked by an “s” at their close are weak paragraphs, which indicate a change of facet but not a change of theme or topic. The paragraphs marked by a “p” at their close are strong paragraphs, which indicate the completion of a theme or topic. The paragraph divisions reveal the chiastic structures: narratives which zero in on the main point of the narrative at its center, like a bull’s eye at the center of a target. The main point is revealed, because the narrative elements before the main point (or central axis) are repeated after the central axis, in reverse order, while the central axis itself is not repeated.

The Hebrew paragraph divisions are:

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 parashah forms its own chiastic structure:

1a) Gen 1:1, In the beginning God (Elohiym) created the heavens and the earth;
1b) Gen 1:2, Earth without form/ void of life + darkness on deep + Spirit of God hovered over waters;
1c) Gen 1:3-8 p+p, God created light + firmament of the heavens on 1st, 2nd days;
1d) Gen 1:9-10a, God caused the dry land to appear;
central axis) Gen 1:10b, God saw that it was good;
2d) Gen 1:11 -13 p, God filled dry land with grass + herbs + fruit bearing trees on 3rd day;
2c) Gen 1:14-19 p, God filled heavens with lights to rule over/ divide light from darkness on 4th day;
2b) Gen 1:20-30 p+p, God filled waters + earth with living creatures on 5th, 6th days;
2a) Gen 2:1-3 p, God rested from His work of creation on 7th day.

The structure teaches us that God first formed the universe, which was void, saw that it was good, then filled the universe that He had prepared. Once He began filling, everything living was made after its kind. Grass, herbs, fruit bearing trees, sea creatures … all the way to the beasts of the field. Torah goes out of its way to establish a pattern, one of the teaching tools of Torah. But then when God creates man, He seems to break the pattern, for nothing is said of “according to its kind” for the first time. Everything is “according to its kind” up until this point. But then:

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;” Gen 1:26.

Man is made also according to his kind, which is according to God’s own “kind!” In other words, man is an eternal spiritual being, made to be the seed or children of God from the beginning! Oh my goodness …


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