This great question is central to ALL scripture because the answer to it reveals both the Godhead and the most intricate answers to God’s great work of creation by His WORD. In order to sort this out, you need to decipher between the four work “processes” God used during the first six days of history--created, made, formed, and established. All the wild speculation and conspiracies about eons of days of time lapses between day-one and other days of creation flop dramatically and hopelessly by the plain reading of the text of Genesis. I have written a 33 page paper entitled, “God’s Day-One Creation – a Type of the Word of God”, that is entirely dedicated to those very “waters” mentioned in Genesis 1:2. It is not a difficult paper to read, and it contains full scriptural proof of the contents of my abstract, which I will copy here: (NOTE: I am using the KJV throughout this answer)
Scriptural analysis reveals that in the beginning of time God initially created a single bounded body of invisible gaseous waters that filled a single spherically shaped area of deep space. Light was quickly made pursuant to a newly decreed Law of Energy and the timespan named Day was established by decree. On Day-Two God made and established a dividing firmament. That firmament initially was a firm decree made to divide the original single body of invisible gaseous waters into two distinct bodies of waters—face to face—one smaller spherically shaped body in the midst of and at the same time under and adjoining the remaining body. He then immediately named that dividing law, Heaven after only one of the two resulting bodies of invisible gaseous waters. On Day-Three God formed the Earth and made the earth’s Seas from the waters under the firmament to manifest this visible earthly world. On Day-Four God made the heavenly lights, worlds, and all matter between them from the heavenly waters above. These things were each suddenly accomplished by the Word of God and were all plainly and reasonably described by that same Word of God so as to reveal both His power and His Godhead in those things that He made.
Waters; creation; created; made; formed; established; firmament; inspection; ‘eth; ve’et; earth; seas; hope; baptism
It is important to note that the waters existed on day one. In fact, the only matter that is shown to have existed on day one was the waters. Moreover all things seen—visible—were made from those invisible waters. Check it out for yourself by the plain reading of the text.
The Jewish elders did not speculate about this matter. They UNDERSTOOD the truth by reading the plain text showing that waters was the only matter that God created on Day-One and that those waters were invisible gaseous-like in their “state” having no form whatsoever, and void, or full of void. Hebrews 11:3 does not mince words:
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (My emphasis)
Invisible gaseous-like waters were created on Day-One as a single dual body of matter and called "the heaven and the earth.' Visible liquid waters were later--on Day 3--“made”--not created--not formed. Nowhere in scripture will you find that the liquid waters were created or formed. Light, on the other hand, was not created, but rather formed as "energy." That energy was transformed from the invisible waters by the Spirit of God fluttering over the waters in accordance with God's established Law of Energy.
Isa 45:7: I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. (My emphasis)
Both the visible liquid waters and the invisible gaseous-like waters were called “mayim”, a Hebrew dual—inherently two, but always used in the singular sense. Likewise, the noun phrase “the heaven and the earth” of verse one was a single body of matter that held a dual connotation, unlike the earth and the innumerable heavens that were made from those waters.
I will quote from page 7 of my paper to show just how those elders UNDERSTOOD about the waters.
The Hebrew definite direct object flag
The Biblical Hebrew particle ‘eth (or ‘et), has no direct translation to English, but its function was probably derived from the Hebrew ‘owth, which means a sign, mark, or token. ‘Eth, when placed before nouns in Biblical Hebrew, is used to flag or mark those nouns as being intended as definite direct objects of a certain verb. In Genesis 1:1 the Hebrew text shows that תאֵ (‘eth) is placed before the noun shamayim (heavens) and תוְאֵ (ve’et or, and ‘eth) is placed before the noun ‘erets (earth) to flag or mark shamayim and ‘erets as being ‘joint’ definite direct objects of the verb, bara (created). Those direct objects can be viewed in their joint definite context as that very one Creation which consists of all the matter necessary to make and form all the hoped for finished masterpieces of Genesis 2:1, each of which will always be categorized in Scripture as being either heavenly or earthly—one of the two. That One Creation’s name—the heaven and the earth—provides the token identity of its twosome: (1) the heaven and (2) the earth, from which all of the Genesis 2:1 things were later made and formed—including the physical bodies of the fifth and sixth day creations of living fish, fowl, and man.
Accordingly, those waters provide us with a mere type, or a mere shadow of the WORD of God, not the very WORD Himself. The visible body of that WORD would come later—at a point in time—this day have I begotten thee—Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, the Son of man, the eternal WORD of God.
Per request of @NihilSineDeo An ADDENDUM to my answer show that the Genesis 1:2 Deep was (at least generally) “spherically” shaped
As mentioned above, Gen. 1:1 sets up the entire creation as existed on Day-one.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
That one creation consisted entirely of “mayim” (waters) a Hebrew “duality but ALWAYS used in a “singular” sense.” On Day-One, there was no dry-land earth and were no liquid-water seas. Moreover, there were no (plural) “heavens” such as our sun, moon, stars, etc.—ONLY WATERS. Those waters would later be used to MAKE (NOT FORM) the numerous liquid seas, TO FORM (NOT CREATE) the dry land areas of the earth, and TO FORM (in some cases) and TO MAKE (in other cases) all the heavenly bodies we now see in the heaven, together with all the atmospheres associated with each heavenly body. Accordingly, some early, careful, and attentive transcribers of Hebrew to English text chose to NOT use the term, “heavens” (plural) in verse 1. The Hebrew duality of the word, mayim, that is always used in a singular sense, simply does not allow a plural heavens to make sense.
If you fail to adhere to the WORD of God’s perfect word usage of the terms, “created”, “made”, “formed”, and “established”, you will never, arrive at the truth as to God’s creative acts. He both did it, and He said it the way it actually happened. Yet careless application of the word “create” in the place of God’s select usage of “formed”, or the careless application of the word “create” erroneously used instead of God’s select usage of “made”, will only confuse your understanding of the ONE TRUE God’s perfect description of His creative masterpieces, and how they relate to His own “power and Godhead”, as we see in Romans 1:18-20:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (My emphasis)
Such disregard for God’s express word usage of the word, “made”, yields the untenable claim that God either created or formed the seas, which, of course, were not “created” as such, and do not have any “form” whatsoever. Also, God never claimed ANYWHERE that “liquid water” seas or liquid water bodies were “created”. This is not an attempt to push modern science through scripture. Much of our so-called science only continually amounts to kicking and screaming against the perfect precepts and words of Scripture. For example, there is a huge difference between “creating” man’s spirit, and “forming” man’s physical body. Yet many casual slackers continue to say, or infer that God “created” man out of the dust of the ground. Even in the answers to this OP’s question there are many instances of rampant disregard for God’s express terms of created, made, formed, and established.
So, were the waters created on Day-One? Well, Genesis 1:1 does not explicitly say that they were. Of course, Scripture does not explicitly say that Melchizedek was created or born either. Yet Hebrews 5:1-4 demands that Melchizedek had to have been a “man” in order to be the “priest of the most high God,” as is claimed in Gen 14:18:
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
However, Melchizedek king of Salem was never said to be like Jesus--without sin. He was never said to have been God, or the Son of God. Moreover, Melchizedek was never shown to actually be an “eternal” high priest who offered up his own blood for the sins of the people. He serves ONLY as a type of Christ—continually abiding as priest and king, but not Christ Himself. His beginning of days and end of years was purposely withheld from any record of mankind for the specific purpose of setting the type of the “order” only of Christ’s eternal priesthood, as shown in Psalm 110:4:
The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. (My emphasis)
Nowhere does he ever show up again to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. Every “type” that has been established upon its unique grounds to set that type will be shown to be flawed so as to preclude mistaking the type for the real thing. This was also the case with the flawed King David as a type of the real King of kings. His kingdom passed on to others. Therefore, the waters likewise were created and shall pass away, along with the entire creation of the heaven and the earth, as we see in Mat. 24:35; Mark 13:31; and Luke 16:17, but His words remain UNFLAWED:
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
… together with Acts 14:15:
And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: (My emphasis)
… and also Rev. 21:1:
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. (My emphasis)
Notice that the singular usage term, heaven and the singular usage term, earth, are used here in both of the above scriptures just as in Genesis 1:1-2. The sea, and all things therein are included with the heaven and the earth just so that no one gets confused into thinking that “waters” are eternal—that they were not created as being “without form and void” and then “made” liquid waters under the dividing firmament.
Therefore, even though mayim is a beautiful Hebrew dual word that is always used in the singular sense to typify the both the invisible WORD of God that is spirit and life, and the visible WORD of God in the flesh as the Son of God/Son of man, it is finally shown to be just that—a mere type—not the actual thing—not the Eternal Living Waters that we know as Jesus, the Christ.
Everything that God “made” was made from the waters.
You must trace the entire creation backward from its completion on Day-6, back to Day-One’s creation to find out that everything that God “made” was made from the Day-One-created waters, just as all things were made by the WORD. First there was one—and only one body--of waters. That is clearly described just as there is only ONE WORD of God, also clearly described. The waters were not yet divided on Day-One, exactly as the “spirit” WORD of God was not “made” flesh from the beginning. They were both “made” something new—at a later point in time—this day have I begotten thee—even as the seas were only “made” liquid at a later point in time—on Day-Three. Since there was no division of those waters yet on Day-One, THEY MUST HAVE BEEN BOTH ONE AND THE SAME STATE AND TYPE OF MAYIM THROUGHOUT THE DEEP—one body of identical waters.
Some contend that the single body of waters was a mixture of murky earthy matter and liquid water. That cannot be the case according to scripture because the waters would not have been void as God insisted that they were. Others contend that the earth existed on Day-One in a horrid state—uninhabitable and desolate—waste. That assumption is a day dream—a wild imagination--not supported by scripture. By any measure, you cannot establish proof by Scripture of a desolate earth on Day-One—two days before the earth even “made”—one day before the waters were even “divided”.
The deep and the waters were two distinctly different entities of God’s Day-One Creation.
That single Day-One body of waters had to take up space. That space had to be created just as the mayim filling that space was created. The word, “tehowm” is transliterated as “deep.” It was well understood that the tehowm is often associated with mayim, and Gen 1:2 is clearly that case:
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Some claim that the deep was merely “the plentiful body of liquid waters”. That idea must be rejected here in verse two because the deep and the mayim each had a distinctly different paniym (face). “The deep” is clearly used to describe the area of space that the waters filled. The face of the waters and the face of the deep must have been line upon line on Day-One because they properly revealed that there was no portion of the deep that did not have waters in them and that there was no part of the waters existing outside of the face of that deep filled with its waters. This description screams out that there was only ONE body of mayim having its duality of purpose contained within ONE area of deep space to be used as the very substance from which the WORD of God would later “make” all things that could be seen—heavenly things or earthly things—one of the two. This description of the tehowm and the mayim, each having its own unique face, respectively, clearly demands our attention and our acceptance of their individual identities. God not only created the waters, but He also created the space that the waters filled.
How are we to behold these two faces? – How does Scripture describe their shape?
Again, we have to trace backward from God’s Day-Two heaven-and-earth configuration to fully understand just how it was before He divided that ONE body of liquid waters within that ONE body of deep space into two bodies, each within its own designated space. Genesis 1:6-8 boldly and instructively declares:
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. (My Emphasis)
Only the great Author of Words—the WORD of God—could possibly state so much fact using so few words with such exacting impact as this portion of Scripture. Notice first of all that unlike any of God’s other five work days in which He “made” things, He did not inspect the raqiya`—the firmament—that He “made” on the second day. This demands attention and answers to these two questions:
- What is a raqiya`? and,
- Why didn’t God inspect and approve that raqiya` like he did for other things that He “made”?
On Day-One, God “made” the first “Day”. He did not create that first day. That day was not a physical thing. It was an edict—a law of God. He declared that edict in order to define the time span called, “Day.” His law firmly “established” (see kuwn – H3559) as preparation for all time the stable and consistent timespan He named, “Day”. It consisted of two parts. First, the evening which consisted of darkness, followed up by a morning consisting of a period of light lasting until the next period of would darkness begin.
The sovereign God NEVER inspects or approves His own plans, laws, or promises.
His inspections only occurred upon the COMPLETION of something physical that was “made” of the waters, or made of things that were themselves made of the waters. For example, He did not inspect or approve of “the heaven and the earth” on Day-One—the day that He created the heaven and the earth. Why not? The individual heaven and the individual earth were NOT completely “made” of the waters on Day-One. In fact, the waters were not yet even divided on Day-One. On that first day, God only inspected and approved the energy, “Light” that He “formed” of the waters and completed on Day-One. His inspection and approval of the Earth, together with its several Seas, had to wait until Day-Three—the day when the global earth was completed. Similarly, the inspection and approval for the heavenly bodies and their atmospheres that were also made of the waters—had to wait until they were completed on Day-Four.
Raqiya’ (H7549) was an extended SURFACE (a new “paniym’, or face) solidly supporting the heavenly portion of waters above the earth. Raqiya’ is from raqa` (H7554) which means, to beat, stamp, beat out, spread out, stretch—like a hammered-out-thin piece of metal such as gold leaf. It is stretched out extremely thin providing no more than a new very thin “surface” or “face” that was firmly established and made in the midst of the waters to divide the waters under that new surface from the waters above that new surface. This new face is truly remarkable in that it was established in the midst of the (then single) body of waters, but it divided the waters “below” the new face from the waters “above” the new face. Now that is a remarkable statement. The waters above the firmament were accordingly firmly and solidly positioned above all the waters that were placed and segregated in its midst. Everywhere in the waters below, or on the face of the waters below was under the waters above, even though they were in the midst of those waters above. Think about that for a few moments.
That new hammered-out-thin face was not named “Heaven” until AFTER it was place in the midst of the waters. It was initially just a new “paniym”—a new face. God called that new face, “Heaven” after only ONE of the TWO newly resulting bodies of mayim—the TWO new parts of the originally created dual purposed waters. That dividing face was not named, “Earth”, but rather Heaven, showing God’s preference of Heaven over Earth. Heaven was clearly placed “above” the earth—its heavenly bodies RULED over the earth, and even RULED over the day and over the night.
God uses BOTH of His divisions—the division of Day and Night mentioned earlier, and the division of Heaven and Earth—to show His preference of Day over Night, and Heaven over Earth. Both of these NAMES arise out of God’s covenants and ordinances, not out of His creative acts. The first on Day-One being the “covenant” with Day and Night and the other on Day-Two being the “ordinances” of Heaven and Earth, as we see in God’s promise to Israel in Jeremiah 33:25-26:
Thus saith the LORD; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them. (My emphasis)
Accordingly, the day dreamers and imaginers who claim that on Day-Two God created an imagined expanse for the birds fly in or for the clouds, sun, moon, and stars travel in, are caught completely off base because God says that He “made”—completed—only the firmament, and it still stands unchanged today as the infamous “ordinances of heaven and earth” that provide a new dividing face for both the Heaven above, and the Earth below. That raqiya` was “hammered-out thin then, and it is hammered-out-thin today, enabling the territorial abutment of the Heaven and the Earth. A bird flying one-sixteenth of an inch above the ground is flying in the “open firmament of heaven”.
The raqiya` was not a physical thing requiring an inspection and approval. It was simply a law, or ordinance, that was named after only one of the two resulting bodies of waters after the single body was DIVIDED, just like the timespan, Day, was named after only one of the two resulting light conditions when God DIVIDED the light from the darkness—LINE UPON LINE, LINE UPON LINE, HERE A LITTLE AND THERE A LITTLE. No third intervening body such as an atmosphere was expressly said to have been created or made, THEREFORE: NO INSPECTION AND APPROVAL WAS REQUIRED—AND NONE WAS GIVEN.
Given the Scripturally proven fact that God, by law, established the new face in the midst of the original waters for the Heaven and for the Earth, together with the Scripturally proven fact that the Day-One waters had all originally been contained within the “face of the deep”, The question remains, ”What was the general shape of the deep at the time of Genesis 1:2 and where is the Scriptural proof of its shape?”
The deep--the tehowm (H8415) means: deep, depths, deep places, abyss, the deep, sea. As stated earlier, the deep is often associated with water. It provides as connotation of having a great third dimension rather than just a flat length and width. For example, I could use a very large compass to draw a very large “circle” on a very large flat surface, but neither that circle, nor any of the surface area contained within that circle, has been, nor could be, deemed as being either “deep”, or “the depth”.
Sometimes, the deep is used as an alternate expression of a sea or other large body of water. In that case, that body of water is assumed to have a great depth, not just wide and/or long. A long wide shallow stream could not properly be called the “deep”. This would be just like a tall thin man may well be called “slim” as an alternate expression to his name, but if a police report were to contain the description of “a slim” being on the other side of the fence at a certain time, that would probably cause an officer to be upbraided in any policeman’s precinct. The word tehowm is always used with the dimension of deep, or depth in mind, often in relation with waters.
Just because tehowm is often used in relation with waters, does not mean that they are physical waters. Throughout scripture, waters and deep, or depth, are treated as distinctly separate things.
(Ex. 15:8): And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea. (My emphasis)
(Deu. 8:7): For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; (My emphasis)
(Psa. 33:7): He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses.
… and, of course, even showing that they have different faces for us to behold in Gen. 1:2:
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
The Gen. 1:2 deep, paniym is a plural (but always used in the singular) of an unused noun, panah, which means to turn; by implication, to face.
The Spherically shape “face of the deep”
Proverbs 8:22-23 reveals that The LORD possessed Wisdom before His works of old—before the works of creation even started:
The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
Verses 24-26 continue to speak about that time before His works of old pertaining to His works of making, forming and establishing the heavens and the earth with its seas, fountains, and dry land:
When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.
Wisdom then tells of continuing to be “by him", as one brought up "with” the LORD during those works of making, forming, and establishing, in verses 27-29:
When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: (My emphasis)
NOTICE: The first work accomplished by the LORD along with Wisdom was the preparation of the heavens by setting the outer limitation of the “depth” of the entire body of created waters—that ONE body of invisible gaseous-like waters by which “all things seen” were “made”. Verse 27 emphasizes that the LORD first dealt with the face of that very Gen. 1:2 depth of the created waters from which all things were made by giving them a rounded face setting a compass upon the face of the depth. At this point, there still were none of the things yet “made” that are listed in verses 24-26. This was the first step in preparation of the heavens. It would establish the limits of the outer boundaries of God’s soon to be completed entire creation because the heavens were to become its outer extents. The compass was not used upon a flat surface, but rather upon a three dimensional area of space.
The word, set, translated from the Hebrew, chaqaq, can mean: to decree, inscribe, trace, mark out, engrave, portray or govern. A sphere is a three dimensional shape having breadth, depth, and height, but only one face. Accordingly, the Word of God, using few select words compared to my frail attempt to explain, Tells us that he established the face of the deep as being (at least generally) spherically shaped using a compass, before he made, formed, and established the heavens (plural) and the earth. Looking back, were not all the worlds also spherically shaped, whether they be solid matter, or gaseous matter? Is not the face that turns also spherically shaped? Does it not now make sense that the spherically shaped earth in the midst of heaven—the remainder of the deep—demand that we at least consider the WORD of God, as is clearly spoken, concerning the tool He used to set or inscribe the shape of the depth?