Gen 1:2 LXX2012

But the earth was unsightly and unfurnished, and darkness was over the deep, and the Spirit of God moved over the water.

Darkness was over the deep

The Spirit of God was Over the Waters

If deep and waters are the same then does it mean that the Spirit of God was over the darkness which was over the waters?

  • 1
    Darkness was on the face of the deep. Therefore the depths were obscure. The Spirit of God 'fluttered' (or hovered) - reluctant to rest, yet agitated to do so. There is a wealth of profundity in these words. The earth was bohu and tohu : inglorious and markedly so. Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 19:32

6 Answers 6


To complement what has already been written here, I'd like to share my thoughts on this question.

There is more contrast than similarity in Genesis 1:2. Darkness does not equate Spirit, nor does deep equate waters. Rather, darkness and deep form one analogous pairing, while Spirit and waters form another, contrasting, set of concepts. Characterized by darkness, the depths of the ocean is a place where light does not easily penetrate and life struggles to exist. Water, on the other hand, is essential to the creation and existence of life and is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, the source of life-giving light.

With regard to the OP’s question, though deep and waters are not the same, the similarities in the parallel construction invite us to find connection. The extraordinary beauty of the words themselves, words that ironically depict darkness and desolation, leads me to consider how everything is created by one hand and mind. This thought brings with it the realization that, as the OP’s question suggests, God’s Spirit is present over every created thing from the very beginning - over the heavens and the earth, with the coming light, but also the darkness that preceded it.

The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating disaster; I am the Lord who does all these things. – Is 45:7

Even darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. – Psalm 139:12

  • 2
    Nhi, Great point you made here: "God’s Spirit is present over every created thing from the very beginning - of the heavens and the earth, of the coming light, but also the darkness that preceded it." Romans 11:33-36 0h,the depth of riches, both of wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and untraceable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor?” For from Him and through Him and unto Him are all things. Behind His judgments He is still is a God of love… And his ways are certainly beyond our understanding.
    – Sherrie
    Commented Nov 2, 2021 at 15:50
  • 2
    @Sherrie Thank you. I especially like the tie-in with Romans. My “answer” is more feeling/impression than interpretation, so I am very happy to find someone who appreciates it. I will add that the darkness here is different from the spiritual darkness that is defined by the absence of God's presence and light.
    – Nhi
    Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 15:14

Gen 1:2 consists of three sentences in the Hebrew. Here is my literal translation:

A: And the earth/land was formless and empty

B: and darkness [was] over the face of the deep תְּהוֹם (tehom)

C: and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters

The word תְּהוֹם (tehom) almost always refers to the depths of waters or ocean - see appendix below; thus it also does here as can be seen from the unmistakable parallelism above in B & C.

Now, the fact that "over the deep" is parallel to "hovering over the face of the waters" does not necessarily imply that "darkness" is parallel to "Spirit of God" (although that is not precluded). The literary function here is more profound - the important idea in Gen 1:2 is about the "tohu and bohu" = "formless and empty".

That is, we have a picture of a formless and empty world with a churning sea/ocean described by the "deep" from the root meaning surging chaos. BUT, by complete contrast, the Spirit of God is described using a verb used of a mother bird hovering above the nest as she feed her young.

Thus, the literary intent of Gen 1:2 is to contrast the chaos of the earth with the approaching presence of God, whose first act (V3) is dispel darkness. Thus, "Spirit of God" cannot imply darkness.

APPENDIX - BDB entry for תְּהוֹם (tehom)

1. deep, of subterranean waters, Genesis 49:25 (poem in J; opposed to שָׁמַיִם), Deuteronomy 33:13 (opposed to id.); ׳רַבָּה מַעְיְנוֺת ת Genesis 7:11; Genesis 8:2 (P; "" אֲרֻבֹּת הַשָּׁמַיִם), ׳עִינוֺת ת Proverbs 8:28 ("" שְׁחָקִים), Job 28:14; Job 38:16 (both "" יָם); תְּהוֺם רַבָּה Amos 7:4 (probably), רַבָּה ׳מִשְׁמָּטֶיךָ ת Psalm 36:7 (opposed to אֵל צִדְקָֽתְךָ כְּהַרְרֵי), Isaiah 51:10 (perhaps); so plural תְּהֹמוֺת, Proverbs 8:24 ("" מַעְיָנוֺת), Proverbs 3:20 (opposed to שְׁחָקִים), and probably Psalm 33:7 ("" מֵי הַיָּם), Psalm 135:6 ( + יַמִּים).

2. (deep) sea, overwhelming Tyre Ezekiel 26:19 ("" הַמַּיִם הָרַבִּים), roaring at theoph. Habakkuk 3:10; in General, "" יָם, Job 38:30 (׳מְּנֵי ת); "" מַיִם Jonah 2:6; alonE Job 41:24; figurative, קוֺרַא ׳אֶלתֿ ׳ת Job 42:8 ("" מִשְׁבָּרִים, גַּלִּים; but possibly here of Jordan, compare (4); in plural = abysses of sea, Exodus 15:5,8 (of Red Sea, so) Isaiah 63:13 "" Psalm 106:9; Psalm 77:17; also Psalm 78:15 (in simile), Psalm 107:26 (poetic of hollows of great waves, opposed to שָׁמַיִם); vaguely, כָּלתְּֿהֹמוֺת Psalm 135:6; Psalm 148:7.

3. primaeval ocean, deep, in Hebrew cosmogony, ׳מְּנֵי ת Genesis 1:2 (P; "" מְּנֵי הַמַּיִם), Proverbs 8:27 ("" שָׁמַיִם), Psalm 104:6. — (compare, further, GunkSchöpfung u. Chaos 21 ff. O C Whitehouse Hast. DB COSMOGONY ZimKAT3. 492 f., 509 f., 585).

4. deep, depth, of river Ezekiel 31:4 (Nile; "" מַיִם, + נַהֲרוֺתֶיהָ), Ezekiel 31:15 ("" id.); plural of bursts of water fertilizing Canaan, יוצאים בבקעה ובהר Deuteronomy 8:7 ( + עֲיָנֹת, נַחֲלֵי מַיִם). — On Psalm 42:8 see 2.

5. abyss (si vera lectio): תְּהוֺמוֺת הָאָרֶץ = Shejôl, Psalm 71:20, but Ol We תַּחְתִיּוֺת.


Let's see the parallelism, NIV Genesis 1:2b

darkness                 was over            the surface of the deep, 
and the Spirit of God    was hovering over   the waters.

If deep and waters are the same then does it mean that the Spirit of God was over the Darkness which was Over the Waters?

Not exactly. The following is a better way to express this idea:

darkness || Spirit of God
deep || waters

It says the Spirit of God parallels the darkness. It does not exactly say that the Spirit of God was over the Darkness. In the sense of parallelism, the darkness itself refers to the Spirit of God.

Exodus 20:

21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.

Deep and waters are they one and same?

Yes, in the sense of parallelism.

  • Thanks Tony The darkness refers to the spirit of God? Away from parallelism can we say this? And does parallelism undermines the information two separate but conjuncting statement can mean? Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 15:38
  • Slow down :) Ask just one question slowly :)
    – user35953
    Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 16:01
  • Pace up :) proceed to answering the both questions taking one at a time :) Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 16:17
  • The trouble is that I don't understand what you are asking :)
    – user35953
    Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 16:19
  • Lol no wonder. I will wait for other answers then Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 16:53

Don't really have a definite answer just more questions.

The submerged chaos, the abyss, are things that I think are somehow related to the deep. The earth became chaotic and void and darkness was as upon the deep.

The jurisdiction of darkness seems to have come in to play.

Did God submerge the abyss under the earth?


The earth was a mass of minerals not a sphere. It existed in what we regard as Space. The Space i.e. The Deep,was dark.
The Holy Spirit moved over the the shapeless mass of minerals and water awaiting God's act of Creating a new planet. Day 1, Light in all its forms was given. (A whole new study.) it was formed into a sphere, revolving on its axis to its starting point in space during 24 hours. The sun was not visible ,and evening and morning was an expression of the 24 hour period later spoken of. Verses 14 - 19. It was illuminated by the Presence of God and was covered in water. From space it would have had the appearance of a beautiful blue sphere. (Another study is regarding Space and Planets etc)

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    – Community Bot
    Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 2:11

Short answer: "Yes". Long answer: The water was not yet physical, but was in gaseous shape in the form of a thick atmosphere. The dark constituted the next step up, called outer space.

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