2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Before I read anything the commentaries have to say about this verse, I looked up the definitions of three of the words on Bible Hub.
without form = waste, formlessness, confusion, unreality, emptiness, desolation
void = emptiness, an undistinguishable ruin
waters = almost always translated “water.” The word is also sometimes used to mean waste, primeval deep, or, figuratively, that which is violent or overwhelming
Two main interpretations have been advanced to explain the expression “without form and void.” The first, which may be called the Original Chaos interpretation, regards these words as a description of an original formless matter in the first state of the creation of the universe. The second, which may be called the Divine Judgment interpretation, sees in these words a description of the earth only, and that in a condition subsequent to its creation, not as it was originally. — Scofield, page 1)
For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who has established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, and there is no other (Isaiah 45:18).
This (Isaiah 45:18) is one of the Scripture passages that suggest the Divine Judgment interpretation of Genesis 1:1-2. This interpretation views the earth as having been created perfect. After an indefinite period of time, possibly in connection with Satan’s sin of rebellion against the Most High (see Isaiah 14:12 and Ezekiel 28:12), judgment fell upon the earth and “it was [became] without form and void.” Another indefinite interval elapsed after which “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” in a re-creation of the earth. Some of the arguments for this viewpoint are: (1) Only the earth, not the universe, is said to have been “without form and void.” (2) The word rendered “was” may also be translated “became,” as indicated above. (3) The Hebrew expression for “without form and void” is used to describe a condition produced by divine judgment in the only other two texts where the two words appear in conjunction (Isaiah 34:11; Jeremiah 4:23). (4) Such a prehistoric divine judgment would throw some light on Satan’s fall and the peculiar relation he seems to sustain to the earth. — Scofield, page 752.
Morris takes the opposite view. He sees verses 1 and 2 as part of the description of Day 1.
In initial creation was not perfect in the sense that it was complete, but it was perfect for that first stage of God’s six-day plan of creation. … When initially created, the earth had no inhabitants; it was “void.” The essential meaning, therefore, is: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth [or space and matter], and the matter so created was at first unformed and uninhabited.
The physical universe, though created, was as yet neither formed nor energized, and light is a form of energy. The absence of physical light means darkness, just as the absence of form and inhabitants means a universe in elemental form, not yet completed. No evil is implied in either case, merely incompleteness…. The picture presented is one of all the basic material elements sustained in a pervasive watery matrix throughout the darkness of space.
The term “face of the waters” is synonymous with “the face of the deep.” Again the word “face” means presence,” and the thought is that the formless waters, like the formless earth, were essentially a “presence” rather than a cohesive body. — Morris, page 50.
the Spirit of God = The Hebrew word for Spirit is also the word for “wind” and “breath.”
The “and,” according to Hebrew usage—as well as that of most other languages—proves that the first verse is not a compendium of what follows, but a statement of the first event in the record. For if it were a mere summary, the second verse would be the actual commencement of the history, and certainly would not begin with a copulative [word connecting words or clauses linked in sense]…. We have, therefore, in the second verse of Genesis no first detail of a general statement in the preceding sentence, but the record of an altogether distinct and subsequent event, which did not affect the sidereal heaven, but only the earth and its immediate surroundings. — Pember, page 25.
Pember does believe that the gap probably contains, not only the fall of Satan, but the laying down of the earth’s strata, and possibly some pre-adamite beings. Again, I think the first, Satan’s fall, may have occurred then, but I do not believe the latter two.
The creation account picks up in 1:1 not with the very first act of creatio ex nihilo (“creation out of nothing,” for which one can refer to any number of other passages, such as Isaiah 44:24a; John 1:3; Hebrews 11:3), but rather at that point when, with the “raw materials” of creation already in place—i.e., darkness (space/black matter[?]), the sphere of the planet with its land and overlaying waters—and the angelic host standing ready to sing God’s praise (Job 38:4-7), He undertakes the first creative act that bears specifically on the good of man (hence the recurring assessment, “and He saw … that it was good”). It is precisely this reading of the first three verses, in fact, that has long been recognized by Jewish interpreters, following simply and naturally from the syntax of the Hebrew text, according to which verses 1-3 constitute one complex sentence, the first two verses being comprised of dependent clauses (i.e., setting up the “background” of the event) and verse 3 comprising the main or independent clause (i.e., describing the “event” itself). Precisely rendered, these three verses thus read: In the beginning of God’s creating the sky and the (dry) land—while the land was (still) uninhabitable and unproductive, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters—God said, “Let there be light.” and there was light. — Wechsler, pages 59-60.
As you can see, Bible scholars land in several very different places regarding these opening verses. All of them are very convinced they are right. Morris, Taylor, and to some extent, Wechsler disregard the Gap Theory mainly to refute those who cram evolution into it. But that’s biased interpretation. I have long disagreed with those who try to hold hands with modern “science,” but I’ve suspected there was a gap.
Wechsler’s view that the Bible gives us the account of creation from the sole viewpoint of what God did for humanity is interesting, and one I haven’t heard before.
I am not convinced that that my surmise, recorded in the previous post, is right. But I still need to account for the fall of Satan, and I’m still reluctant to believe that it happened between the six days of creation and the fall of man. I could be wrong.
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