I have notices that there are several images within the bible that keep repeating, yet in a somewhat altered state. To begin, let us compare the first image of the Spirit hovering over the water in Genesis 1:2, and the image of the flood of Genesis 7:18

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 (KJV).

And later on:

And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters (KJV).

Here we have two very similar images of the Spirit of God and the Ark moving on the face of the waters. Given that the flood seems to be the beginning of a new phase in history, it thus may be understood as a type of creation story, where people and animals will have a new begining.

From comparing different versions of the bible it has come to my attention that the “spirit of God” moving on the face of the waters, in the original Hebrew, is portrayed as something akin to the flapping of bird wings. This again seems to be included in the Flood Story as the first “life” to be let out of the Ark was a bird, that is sent to fly over the face of the waters in search for land. Are there more insights into these two images if one compares them in the original Hebrew?

Of course these same images repeat several more times, especially in the New Testament.

  • 1
    Another possibiity is that you're being misled by an over-literal translation. In Segal & Dagut's dictionary, the word פנים (panim) is glossed as "face; front; surface". So these cases may both be unremarkably moving over the surface of the water, and your image is straightforward and literal.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Mar 9, 2021 at 23:14
  • The ark is a containment. 'Kaphar' the 'gopher' with 'kopher' all conveys watertight containment. (By means of 'atonement'.) There are, of course, similarities. But one will need to dig deep, and discern with precision, to draw conclusive connections. (Upvoted +1 in hope.)
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 0:03

2 Answers 2


This is a very important concept and is part of what is known as the creation archetype: that is, creation is both a metaphor and motif that often appears, in some areas, pervades the stories of Scripture demonstrating its unity.

in this case we have for the creation narative:

  • Spirit hovering - creation is about to begin
  • darkness become light
  • waters above separated from waters below - covering waters diminished
  • water and land separated
  • vegetation created
  • light of heaven visible
  • land animals that breathe created
  • mankind created

In the case of the flood story, read it carefully and you will notice the exact reveral of events. The underlying message is that the flood is the undoing of creation so that the world can be re-created.

Thus, since the creation story of Gen 1 begins with a world that formless void and dark and by adding light form and purpose, God ends up pronouncing it very good, we have a salvation archetype.

There is a similar these in the flood story - the world was so corrupt that only destruction could save it and thus, the world is recreated.


There is another archetype in the flood story as well - the concept of the miraculously saved remnant but that is another theme entirely.

  • Yes the flood is very much a moment of re-creation. And I think other depictions like Psalm 104 are deliberately ambiguous as to whether they refer to the original creation or the flood.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Mar 9, 2021 at 23:56
  • The re-creation is not first. First, there is judgment. As it was by by water, so shall it be by fire.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 0:07

YES, there are several Hebrew phrases repeated between Genesis 1 and the various chapters in the Flood narrative, so much so that I think the Flood narrative is consciously referencing Genesis 1.

The first parallel is actually an anti-parallel; everything God creates in Genesis 1 is "טוֹב" (good) and the people on earth in Genesis 6 are "רעע/רעה" (evil).

Also, as Dottard stated, you have a lot of parallels in thematic material between the two stories, including the same set of events in reverse.

But there are some specific parallels in language which go a bit beyond thematic parallels or the parallels you highlight in your question. Here are the most important ones to me:

"וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהוָ֗ה אֶמְחֶ֨ה אֶת־הָאָדָ֤ם אֲשֶׁר־בָּרָ֙אתִי֙ מֵעַל֙ פְּנֵ֣י הָֽאֲדָמָ֔ה מֵֽאָדָם֙ עַד־בְּהֵמָ֔ה עַד־רֶ֖מֶשׂ וְעַד־ע֣וֹף הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם כִּ֥י נִחַ֖מְתִּי כִּ֥י עֲשִׂיתִֽם" (Genesis 6:7) 'So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”' (NIV)

There are specific Hebrew words for animals in this verse: First, "בהםה" ("Beast," "cattle," or "livestock"), second, "רםשׂ" ("creeping thing"), third, "עוֹף השּׁמים" ("birds of the air"), and fourth, "אדם" ("man," as in "human being," not an animal. Also the name of Adam). These are the word used to describe the creation of humans and animals in Genesis 1. All of these words, for instance, appear in Genesis 1:26 when Adam/humanity is given dominion over this exact set of animals (plus the fish of the sea, which obviously aren't going to be destroyed by a flood):

"וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֔ים נַֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה אָדָ֛ם בְּצַלְמֵ֖נוּ כִּדְמוּתֵ֑נוּ וְיִרְדּוּ֩ בִדְגַ֨ת הַיָּ֜ם וּבְע֣וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֗יִם וּבַבְּהֵמָה֙ וּבְכָל־הָאָ֔רֶץ וּבְכָל־הָרֶ֖מֶשׂ הָֽרֹמֵ֥שׂ עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ" 'Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”' (Genesis 1:26, Hebrew/NIV)

"בהםה" additionally appears in Genesis 1:24-25 along with "רםשׂ", you get "עוֹף" in Genesis 1:20-22, and of course "אדם" in Genesis 1:26. These all occur again in Genesis 1:30 along with another significant Hebrew parallel, the "breath of life" ("נפשׁ חיה"/"רוּח חיים"). See here for a better description of this as it applies to these passages, but tl;dr the two phrases, the first of which occurs in Genesis 6 and the second in Genesis 1, are synonyms which both mean "breath of life".

I think the "Spirit of God hovering over the waters" ("וְר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֔ים מְרַחֶ֖פֶת עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הַמָּֽיִם") in Genesis 1:2 is best paralleled by Genesis 8:1: "God... sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded." ("וַיַּעֲבֵ֨ר אֱלֹהִ֥ים ר֙וּחַ֙ עַל־הָאָ֔רֶץ וַיָּשֹׁ֖כּוּ הַמָּֽיִם") The word "רוּחַ" used in both these verse can be translated "breath", "wind," or "spirit."

Finally, God commands every animal that survives the flood to "be fruitful and multiply" ("וּפָר֥וּ וְרָב֖וּ עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ"), Genesis 8:17, echoing the same language in Genesis 1:28 ("פְּר֥וּ וּרְב֛וּ וּמִלְא֥וּ אֶת־הָאָ֖רֶץ") "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth."

  • Yes, my idea is that these images are recycled consciously in these two “creation” and “(re)creation” narratives. To me it's as though a certain set of symbols, however they may first have emerged or been borrowed, were considered good/excellent for explaining the great mysteries involved in creation, so they were reused many times when new beginning was at hand. Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 5:06

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