Genesis 1:7

ויעש אלהים את־הרקיע ויבדל בין המים אשר מתחת לרקיע ובין המים אשר מעל לרקיע ויהי־כן׃

And God made the firmament, and divided between the waters which were under the firmament and between the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so.

The word translated in this verse as "created" is ויעש, a form of the verb עשה. The verbs עשה and ברא appear often in the Genesis 1 creation account, and they seem almost interchangable. So, why did the Author use the 3MS vav-consecutive imperfect of עשה instead of the 3MS vav-consecutive of ברא?

Some observations

Day 1: Neither עשה nor ברא is used in describing creation of the light, but instead we have yehi owr wa-yehi owr ('Light shalt exist.' And light existed.)

Day 2: עשה is used to describe creation of the firmament

Day 3: Neither verb is used for God's creation of plants, but instead the earth "sprouts" (דשא) the vegetation. The verb עשה, however, is used to describe the tree "bearing" fruit (perhaps, in its own way, "creating" fruit?)

Day 4: עשה is used to describe creation of the luminaries

Day 5: ברא is used to describe creation of the sea-animals and sky-animals

Day 6: עשה is used to describe creation of the land-animals. עשה is also used when God says, "Let us create man in our image." But then, we have ברא used 3 times when God says "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."

In these observations, however, I fail to see a pattern which might explain the use of עשה on Day 2.


Can't find related articles - yet i'm sure someone said that before me in the past 2000 years:

In biblical Hebrew, whn we read ברא it means to create from nothing, and when we read עשה it means to create something from something.

So as for your question: both water on the ground and water on the sky are made from the same thing - water. Since Genesis won't say that God created the water, the writer use עשה root to say that God made the sky and the sea. How? He "just" seperate the water...

  • This verse does not describe the creation of sky and sea. It describes the creation of a firmament, which can hold up the pre-exisisting waters. – Keelan Aug 1 '18 at 18:28
  • on the second day God separate the pre existing water and made with (some of) them the firmament. – A. Meshu Aug 1 '18 at 19:53
  • @A.Meshu If your theory is correct, that ברא means creation from nothing and עשה means creation from something, why would ברא be used for the sea-creatures and the fowls but עשה be used for the land animals? – Pascal's Wager Aug 1 '18 at 21:28
  • I guess it's like in evolution - all life started from sea. So God create the sea creatures and after a "day" made the land animals from them. – A. Meshu Aug 2 '18 at 3:49
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    . . . and if either of you are actually God, be sure to write a book about it. Also, please make it short and at a level that ordinary people can understand. ;-) – Dieter Sep 30 '18 at 21:25

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