Parashat Beresheet (In the Beginning)
Beresheet (Genesis) 1:1–6:8
Once again, the annual cycle of reading the Torah (also known as the “Books of Moses” or the first five books of the Bible) begins. My aim in writing these commentaries is to continue following the weekly portions as they are read in synagogues throughout the world and to write short commentaries on them, as we have done during the past three years.
I would like to encourage you to read my past blogs on the same portions as I am always receiving new understanding from the LORD about His Word. This is one of the things I love most about God’s Word; it is living and breathing, bringing us new revelation every time we read it!
This week we read the famous first verses from God’s Word:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
Beresheet (Genesis) 1:1–5
There is much that can be said about these five verses. However, I would like to focus on a very important point that connects to sin, which I see in the above verses. I pray that God Himself will remove the blindness from the eyes of my people as they read this specific parasha this week.
In verse two, the earth specifically is described as “תֹ֨הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ” or “Tohu VaBohu”. I find it interesting that there are a few translations to these words, such as “emptiness, lack of order, mass, chaos, confusion, dark”, among others. I believe the most compelling translation of this phrase is that the condition of the earth was chaotic, empty, and dark. In the midst of all of this chaotic darkness, the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the water. It was at this point that God said, “Let there be light” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, which although the text does not explicitly say, was in direct opposition to the darkness, and therefore was bad. Perhaps this is why He saw fit to separate the light from the darkness. We see that already at the time of Creation, God brought a separation between the two.
This causes me to think about the reality of sin, which although there were hints of it at the time of Creation (darkness being the opposite of good), came to full fruition with the decision of Adam and Eve to eat from the fruit of the tree of good and evil. Think about it, when God created human beings (Adam and Eve), they were in a perfect place with everything that they needed, full of light and godly order, yet they made a poor choice and brought us to where we are today.
However, let’s not give ourselves permission to blame Adam and Eve for our own sin! We still face a choice today, to walk in darkness or light. In Isaiah Chapter 9, we find a very similar description of darkness, which reminds me in some way of our story from Genesis:
The people who walk in darkness, saw a great (big) light; Those who live in the land that reflects the shadow of death, the light will shine (touch) on them.
Isaiah 9:2 (verse 1 in Hebrew)
The darkness that is described here is that of sin, which carries the same connotation as in Genesis: big empty massive chaos. Yet, in the midst of that darkness, we find that those who were walking in it saw a great light that even touched them.
We know that from the beginning the Word of God was present; we know that He was the light and that He is the only one that can bring us the opposite of the chaos that was in the beginning, which is fullness, richness, order, peace and light. How wonderful to know that His presence can reach us no matter how deep we are in sin! His light reaches to the depth of the darkest parts of our lives and cannot be overcome:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.