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אֱלֹהִ֑ים .... בָּרָ֣א ... בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית

In the beginning ... created ... God

In the Greek text of John 1:1, ('In the beginning' ... 'with God') there is no article with 'beginning' (arche) but there is an article with 'God' (Theos). But, of course, no article on the occasion when 'God' refers to 'Logos'.

What is the situation with the Hebrew in Genesis ? I have pasted what I assume to be the Masoretic text from Biblehub, but the word processor has forced the words, on this page, into English word order, for some reason.

Does 'beginning' in the Hebrew of Genesis 1:1 have an article ?

Does 'God' (Elohim) have an article in the Hebrew of Genesis 1:1 ?

I notice that Robert Young's Literal Translation has :

In the beginning of God's preparing ...

which I assume to be a recognition of the absence of an article to 'beginning', but Green's Literal conforms to the KJV 'In the beginning God created ...'

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There are only two articles in Gen 1:1 in the Hebrew:

  • הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם = THE heavens
  • הָאָֽרֶץ = THE earth

The other two nouns, "beginning" and "God" do NOT have articles.

This situation leads directly to the translations such as: "Originally, when God created the heavens and the earth, (v2) and the earth was formless and void ...", etc.

The literature on the translation of this first verse of the Bible is HUGE! Essentially, adherents can be divided into two groups:

  • Those who translate: "in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth". This version is heavily influenced by the translation of the LXX.
  • Those who translate something like, "Originally, when God created the heavens and the earth, (v2) and the earth was formless and void ..." This group believe (with linguistic arguments) that this first clause is a dependent temporal clause introducing the second clause of V2.

Both cases are well backed with good scholarship which should not concern us here. [My personal view is a preference for the first translation but I can see clearly why the second are convinced.]

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  • Up-voted +1 and if no further, superior contributions are forthcoming I will accept this, in due course, as the answer. – Nigel J Dec 17 '20 at 10:45
  • Does אֱלֹהִ֑ים ever have the article? The article isn't with אֱלֹהִ֑ים all through the first of Genesis. Too many occurrences to check the entire Tanakh. – Perry Webb Dec 17 '20 at 14:02
  • אֱלֹהִ֑ים occurs 2602 times in the MT. I don't know how to search for אֱלֹהִ֑ים with the article when I can't find an occurrence. – Perry Webb Dec 17 '20 at 14:46
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    @Dottard You suggest that there is a binary choice, "In the beginning", or "Originally" and that either choice resulted in a plural "heavens." Of course, that is a loaded choice, particularly when the plural heavens were not made and formed as visible bodies until Day-four. Can you explain why you feel that "created", and "made" or "formed" can be swapped without totally changing the meaning of the original text--especially with the import of the definite direct objects saddling "heaven" and "earth" being tied to the very associated verb, "created"? – Bill Porter Dec 17 '20 at 17:59
  • @BillPorter - The interpretation of the rest of the chapter is not the subject of this question. I only wanted to give a "flavor' of the debate raging around the translation of the V1. I agree that the "heavens" were created in day #2 and the earth on day #3 and lights in the heavens on day #4 which leaves open the question about what V1 means. – Dottard Dec 17 '20 at 20:17
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"Beginning" is singular, therefore only one beginning. As to the phrase, "the heaven" (singular per KJV) as being part of a joint direct object phrase, linked to the word, "created", and inseparable from "the earth, both being saddled with joining articles and having the form of a Hebraic duality with singular usage that points to the very "gaseous like" description of the Gen 1:2 "deep" and the "waters" filling that deep. Those waters (mayim) are indeed a Hebraic duality treated as one body.

There is no room for more than one beginning, but rather, only one beginning of a single body of gaseous-like waters--without form, and void.

Those bookend particles amazingly vanish the references to plural heavens in KJV and other meticulous translations after God "made" and "formed" the innumerable "heavens" from the above and at the same time, outer portion of that previously undivided "the heaven and the earth". Yet, once again, quite naturally, "the heaven and the earth" become a duality when referring to the entire physical universe, both in the Hebrew and the Greek, such as "heaven and earth will pass away".

Gen. 1:1-2 describes an event which happened five days before man ever existed. That totally eliminates the notion that this writing is dependent upon man's understanding at that time, and certainly during the last two thousand years, or more when man made such fools of themselves using their vain imaginations chasing their imaginary god's across the sky.

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