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What we can learn from the first three sentences in the Book of Genesis


You can't have order unless there is disorder. The primordial state of this universe is disorder.


This is my translation of the first three sentences in the Book of Genesis; it's very challenging translating those almighty words from the Hebrew origin. For me those few sentences encapsulate the awe and attraction I have to the Bible and the reason why I read it every day.


Genesis – chapter 1

  1. At first God created the skies and the earth.

  2. And the land was in topsy-turvy and darkness, an abyss, God's spirit hovering on the water.

  3. God ordered 'let there be light' and there was light.


Those first three sentences of the Bible hold a great and unresolved mystery. I'll try to summarize it in the following questions:


What was the origin of our known universe?


What is the first known matter from which planets and galaxies evolved?


Is our universe a onetime phenomenon or a part of cyclic cosmic events?


What for?  What could be a divine goal in creating the universe and human beings?


Those are eternal questions asked by humanity from first known recorded history. A huge amount of books were written about the Book of Genesis and its exegetics, the question is why do I bother to add more to this abundant subject?


I hope the answer will be clarified in the end of this short essay.


The Hebrew word that initiates the Bible is 'Bereshit'. The translation ‘at first’ diminishes the meaning of this unique word as it is not only the first action but the origin of all beginnings.


The easiest escape is accepting the God creation, no explanation needed. God as the supreme metaphysics metaphor with omnipotent powers decided and created this universe. Science and the big bang theory are out of the equation.


If at first God created the skies was he doing something before that? And if skies, where? The Genesis story is not the story of Planet Earth only, but the creation of the universe we live in, so where could the skies – the first element created by God- be located if there are no planets or Earth to host it.


The Dalai Lama had a great answer when he was asked, from where our universe emerged. His answer was from another universe.


So this is a perpetual question, what was the first note that ignited it all?


Two words appear in the second sentence of the original Hebrew that are unique only in this chapter, they are ‘Tohu Vavohu’. I translated it into topsy-turvy as the closest interpretation to total chaos I could find. The scenario is a totally darkened world (the Sun, stars and Moon were created on Wednesday) in which there is constant movement of God spirit that is in the midst of the creation process. There is another question to ponder - there is no introduction of this God. God, or Elohim in Hebrew, is the third word in the Bible. God appears as if he was in our minds forever, no explanation needed. God created the world we live in, issued a set of rules we should obey and from this point on we are alone in this game.


The third sentence is for me the most amazing one in the Bible – let there be light and there was light.


What kind of light exactly? The Sun and stars were created on Wednesday, so from where did this light come? This is the third creation:

First – skies

Second - earth

Third - light


There are scholars who claim the light is the fourth creation and that the third is water which is mentioned in the second sentence.


In twenty-seven words (in the original Hebrew version) the chaos starts to take shape, no more darkness and a clear division between up and down, Earth and Sky.


This is the Bible story which I read over and over again; the more I delved into the Genesis story the more it was obvious to me that it is an allegory.


Orthodox Jews would severely refute my theory, for them the Bible is the most sacred book of humanity and was transmitted by God itself to Moses on Mount Sinai. For me it is the first description of the primordial forces at play that are the archetypes of all that determines human life since then. There is matter at this stage of the universe, and what started it all is an ignition in the void. The light is energy that has several forms of appearance as magnetism or matter.


Those three sentences describe the journey from disorder to order, there can’t be order if there was no disorder before and there can’t be a mountain without a pit.


The most amazing fact about the third creation, light, is that it was created for God's eyes only; there was no one else to witness this magic, no human beings, no other living creatures and no stars as witnesses.


It was God that approved every day’s creation and decided to continue.

The human being is created on Friday. I have a different, special essay for this day as well but for this first day, where everything began, we might consider a different type of reading.


The earth, water and skies are but three levels of condensed energy like gas-liquid-matter.


And the light is the energy source. God in this sense is light and order against the primordial state of abyss and disorder.


This is the human journey, just like an energetic combustion of sperm and ovum creates life that grows and develops clear borders against the outside chaos, till the spirit leaves the body to join the light that ignited it all.


Have magic in your life.


Ted Barr

Yom Kippur October 12, 2016

Ramat Hasharon


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