Genesis 1:2
New International Version
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

New Living Translation
The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

English Standard Version
The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Berean Study Bible
Now the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

New American Standard Bible
The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

King James Bible
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.

Christian Standard Bible
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

Contemporary English Version
The earth was barren, with no form of life; it was under a roaring ocean covered with darkness. But the Spirit of God was moving over the water.

Good News Translation
the earth was formless and desolate. The raging ocean that covered everything was engulfed in total darkness, and the Spirit of God was moving over the water.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

International Standard Version
When the earth was as yet unformed and desolate, with the surface of the ocean depths shrouded in darkness, and while the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters,

NET Bible
Now the earth was without shape and empty, and darkness was over the surface of the watery deep, but the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the water.

New Heart English Bible
Now the earth was formless and empty, and darkness was on the surface of the watery depths. And God's Spirit was hovering over the surface of the waters.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep water. The Spirit of God was hovering over the water.

JPS Tanakh 1917
Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters.

New American Standard 1977
And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

Jubilee Bible 2000
And the earth was without order, and empty; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

King James 2000 Bible
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.

American King James Version
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.

American Standard Version
And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

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

Douay-Rheims Bible
And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved over the waters.

Darby Bible Translation
And the earth was waste and empty, and darkness was on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

English Revised Version
And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Webster's Bible Translation
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.

World English Bible
Now the earth was formless and empty. Darkness was on the surface of the deep. God's Spirit was hovering over the surface of the waters.

Young's Literal Translation
the earth hath existed waste and void, and darkness is on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God fluttering on the face of the waters,
Study Bible
The Creation
1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2Now the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. 3And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.…
Cross References
2 Corinthians 4:6
For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Deuteronomy 32:11
As an eagle stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, He spread His wings to catch them; He carried them on His pinions.

Job 38:9
when I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its blanket,

Psalm 104:6
You covered it with the deep like a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.

Psalm 104:30
When You send Your Spirit, they are created, and You renew the face of the earth.

Psalm 136:6
He spread out the earth upon the waters. His loving devotion endures forever.

Psalm 148:7
Praise the LORD from the earth, all great sea creatures and ocean depths,

Proverbs 8:24
When there were no watery depths, I was brought forth, when no springs were overflowing with water.

Isaiah 31:5
Like birds hovering overhead, so the LORD of Hosts will protect Jerusalem. He will shield it and deliver it; He will pass over it and preserve it."

Isaiah 40:13
Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or who has given Him counsel?

Isaiah 40:14
Whom did He consult to enlighten Him, and who taught Him the paths of justice? Who imparted knowledge to Him and showed Him the way of understanding?

Isaiah 45:18
For thus says the LORD--He who created the heavens; He is God; He formed the earth and fashioned it; He established it; He did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited--"I am the LORD, and there is no other.

Jeremiah 4:23
I looked at the earth, and it was formless and empty; I looked to the heavens, and they had no light.

Treasury of Scripture

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.

without.

Job 26:7
He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.

Isaiah 45:18
For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.

Jeremiah 4:23
I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light.

Spirit.

Job 26:14
Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?

Psalm 33:6
By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

Psalm 104:30
Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.







Lexicon
Now the earth
וְהָאָ֗רֶץ (wə·hā·’ā·reṣ)
Conjunctive waw, Article | Noun - feminine singular
Strong's Hebrew 776: Earth, land

was
הָיְתָ֥ה (hā·yə·ṯāh)
Verb - Qal - Perfect - third person feminine singular
Strong's Hebrew 1961: To fall out, come to pass, become, be

formless
תֹ֙הוּ֙ (ṯō·hū)
Noun - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 8414: A desolation, desert, a worthless thing, in vain

and void,
וָבֹ֔הוּ (wā·ḇō·hū)
Conjunctive waw | Noun - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 922: A vacuity, an undistinguishable ruin

and darkness
וְחֹ֖שֶׁךְ (wə·ḥō·šeḵ)
Conjunctive waw | Noun - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 2822: The dark, darkness, misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness

was over
עַל־ (‘al-)
Preposition
Strong's Hebrew 5921: Above, over, upon, against

the surface
פְּנֵ֣י (pə·nê)
Noun - common plural construct
Strong's Hebrew 6440: The face

of the deep.
תְה֑וֹם (ṯə·hō·wm)
Noun - common singular
Strong's Hebrew 8415: An abyss, the deep

And the Spirit
וְר֣וּחַ (wə·rū·aḥ)
Conjunctive waw | Noun - common singular construct
Strong's Hebrew 7307: Wind, breath, exhalation, life, anger, unsubstantiality, a region of the sky, spirit

of God
אֱלֹהִ֔ים (’ĕ·lō·hîm)
Noun - masculine plural
Strong's Hebrew 430: gods -- the supreme God, magistrates, a superlative

was hovering
מְרַחֶ֖פֶת (mə·ra·ḥe·p̄eṯ)
Verb - Piel - Participle - feminine singular
Strong's Hebrew 7363: To brood, to be relaxed

over
עַל־ (‘al-)
Preposition
Strong's Hebrew 5921: Above, over, upon, against

the surface
פְּנֵ֥י (pə·nê)
Noun - common plural construct
Strong's Hebrew 6440: The face

of the waters.
הַמָּֽיִם׃ (ham·mā·yim)
Article | Noun - masculine plural
Strong's Hebrew 4325: Water, juice, urine, semen
(2) And the earth.--The conjunction "and" negatives the well-meant attempt to harmonise geology and Scripture by taking Genesis 1:1 as a mere heading; the two verses go together, and form a general summary of creation, which is afterwards divided into its several stages.

Was is not the copula, but the substantive verb existed, and expresses duration of time. After creation, the earth existed as a shapeless and empty waste.

Without form, and void.--Literally, tohu and bohu, which words are both substantives, and signify wasteness and emptiness. The similarity of their forms, joined with the harshness of their sound, made them pass almost into a proverb for everything that was dreary and desolate (Isaiah 34:11; Jeremiah 4:23). It expresses here the state of primaeval matter immediately after creation, when as yet there was no cohesion between the separate particles.

Darkness.--As light is the result either of the condensation of matter or of vibrations caused by chemical action, this exactly agrees with the previous representation of the chaos out of which the earth was to be shaped. It existed at present only as an incoherent waste of emptiness.

The deep.--T?hom. This word, from a root signifying confusion or disturbance, is poetically applied to the ocean, as in Psalm 42:7, from the restless motion of its waves, but is used here to describe the chaos as a surging mass of shapeless matter. In the Babylonian legend, Tiamat, the Hebrew t?hom, is represented as overcome by Merodach, who out of the primaeval anarchy brings order and beauty (Sayce, Chaldean Genesis, pp. 59, 109, 113).

The Spirit of God.--Heb., a wind of God, i.e., a mighty wind, as rendered by the Targum and most Jewish interpreters. (See Note on Genesis 23:6.) So the wind of Jehovah makes the grass wither (Isaiah 40:7); and so God makes the winds His messengers (Psalm 104:4). The argument that no wind at present existed because the atmosphere had not been created is baseless, for if water existed, so did air. But this unseen material force, wind (John 3:8), has ever suggested to the human mind the thought of the Divine agency, which, equally unseen, is even mightier in its working. When, then, creation is ascribed to the wind (Job 26:13; Psalm 104:30), we justly see, not the mere instrumental force employed, but rather that Divine operative energy which resides especially in the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. But we must be upon our guard against the common error of commentators, who read into the text of these most ancient documents perfect doctrines which were not revealed in their fulness until the Gospel was given. It is a marvellous fact that Genesis does contain the germ of well-nigh every evangelical truth, but it contains it in a suggestive and not a completed form. So here this mighty energising wind suggests to us the thought of the Holy Ghost, and is far more eloquent in its original simplicity than when we read into it a doctrine not made known until revelation was perfected in Christ (John 7:39).

Moved.--Heb., fluttered lovingly. (See Deuteronomy 32:11.) This word also would lead the mind up to the thought of the agency of a Person. In Syriac the verb is a very common one for the incubation of birds; and, in allusion to this place, it is metaphorically employed, both of the waving of the hand of the priest over the cup in consecrating the wine for the Eucharist, and of that of the patriarch over the head of a bishop at his consecration. Two points must here be noticed: the first, that the motion was not self-originated, but was external to the chaos; the second, that it was a gentle and loving energy, which tenderly and gradually, with fostering care, called forth the latent possibilities of a nascent world.

Verse 2. - And the earth. Clearly the earth referred to in the preceding verse, the present terrestrial globe with its atmospheric firmament, and not simply "the land" as opposed to "the skies" (Murphy); certainly not "the heavens" of ver. 1 as well as the earth (Delitzsch); and least of all "a section of the dry land in Central Asia" (Buckland, Pye Smith). It is a sound principle of exegesis that a word shall retain the meaning it at first possesses till either intimation is made by the writer of a change in its significance, or such change is imperatively demanded by the necessities of the context, neither of which is the case here. Was. Not "had become." Without form and void. Literally, wasteness and emptiness, tohu vabohu. The words are employed in Isaiah 34:11 and Jeremiah 4:23 to depict the desolation and desertion of a ruined and depopulated land, and by many have been pressed into service to support the idea of a preceding cosmos, of which the chaotic condition of our planet was the wreck (Murphy, Wordsworth, Bush, &c). Delitzsch argues, on the ground that tohu vabohu implies the ruin of a previous cosmos, that ver. 2 does not state specifically that God created the earth in this desolate and waste condition; and that death, which is inconceivable out of connection with sin, was in the world prior to the fall; that ver. 2 presupposes the fall of the angels, and adduces in support of his view Job 38:4-7 ('Bib. Psychology,' sect. 1, p. 76; Clark's 'For. Theol. Lib.') - a notion which Kalisch contemptuously classes among "the aberrations of profound minds," and "the endless reveries" of "far-sighted thinkers." Bush is confident that Isaiah 45:18, in which Jehovah declares that he created not the earth roan, is conclusive against a primeval chaos. The parallel clause, however, shows that not the original state, but the ultimate design of the globe, was contemplated in Jehovah's language: "He created it not tohu, he formed it to be inhabited;" i.e. the Creator did not intend the earth to be a desolate region, but an inhabited planet. There can scarcely be a doubt, then, that the expression portrays the condition in which the new-created earth was, not innumerable ages, but very shortly, after it was summoned into existence. It was formless and lifeless; a huge, shapeless, objectless, tenantless mass of matter, the gaseous and solid elements commingled, in which neither organized structure, nor animated form, nor even distinctly-traced outline of any kind appeared. And darkness (was) upon the face of the deep. The "deep," from a root signifying to disturb, is frequently applied to the sea (Psalm 42:8), and here probably intimates that the primordial matter of our globe existed in a fluid, or liquid, or molten form. Dawson distinguishes between "the deep" and the "waters," making the latter refer to the liquid condition of the globe, and the former apply to "the atmospheric waters," i.e. the vaporous or aeriform mass mantling the surface of our nascent planet, and containing the materials out of which the atmosphere was afterwards elaborated ('Origin of the World,' p. 105). As yet the whole was shrouded in the thick folds of Cimmerian gloom, giving not the slightest promise of that fair world of light, order, and life into which it was about to be transformed. Only one spark of hope might have been detected in the circumstance that the Spirit of God moved (literally, brooding) upon the face of the waters. That the Ruach Elohim, or breath of God, was not "a great wind," or "a wind of God," is determined by the non-existence of the air at this particular stage in the earth's development. In accordance with Biblical usage generally, it must be regarded as a designation not simply "of the Divine power, which, like the wind and the breath, cannot be perceived" (Gesenius), but of the Holy Spirit, who is uniformly represented as the source or formative cause of all life and order in the world, whether physical, intellectual, or spiritual (cf. Job 26:13; Job 27:3; Psalm 33:6; Psalm 104:29; Psalm 143:10; Isaiah 34:16; Isaiah 61:1; Isaiah 63:11). As it were, the mention of the Ruach Elohim is the first out-blossoming of the latent fullness of the Divine personality, the initial movement in that sublime revelation of the nature of the Godhead, which, advancing slowly, and at the best but indistinctly, throughout Old Testament times, culminated in the clear and ample disclosures of the gospel The special form of this Divine agent's activity is described as that of" brooding" (merachepheth, from raehaph, to be tremulous, as with love; hence, in Piel, to cherish young - Deuteronomy 32:11) or fluttering over the liquid elements of the shapeless and tenantless globe, communicating to them, doubtless, those formative powers of life and order which were to burst forth into operation in answer to the six words of the six ensuing days. As might have been anticipated, traces of this primeval chaos are to be detected in various heathen cosmogonies, as the following brief extracts will show: -

1. The Chaldean legend, deciphered from the creation tablet discovered in the palace of Assurbanipal, King of Assyria, 2. c. 885, depicts the desolate and void condition of the earth thus: -

"When above were not raised the heavens,
And below on the earth a plant had not grown up;
The abyss also had not broken up their boundaries;
The chaos (or water) tiamat (the sea) was the producing-mother of the whole of them," etc. ('Chaldean Genesis,' p. 62.)

2. The Babylonian cosmogony, according to Berosus (B.C. 330-260), commences with a time "in which there existed nothing but darkness" and an abyss of waters, wherein resided most hideous beings, which were produced of a twofold principle... The person who presided over them was a woman named Omoroea, which in the Chaldean language is Thalatth, in Greek Thalassa, the sea, but which might equally be interpreted the moon" ('Chaldean Genesis,' pp. 40, 41).

3. The Egyptian account of the origin of the universe, as given by Diodorus Siculus, represents the heaven and earth as blended together, till afterwards the elements began to separate and the air to move. According to another idea, there was a vast abyss enveloped in boundless darkness, with a subtle spirit, intellectual in power, existing in the chaos (Macdonald, 'Creation and the Fall,' p. 49).

4. The Phoenician cosmogony says, "The first principle of the universe was a dark windy air and an eternal dark chaos. Through the love of the Spirit to its own principles a mixture arose, and a connection called desire, the beginning of all things. From this connection of the Spirit was begotten mot, which, according to some, signifies mud, according to others, a corruption of a watery mixture, but is probably a feminine form of too, water. From this were developed creatures in the shape of an egg, called zophasemin (Macdonald, p. 50).

5. The Indian mythology is very striking in its resemblance to the Mosaic narrative." The institutes of Menu affirm' that at first all was dark, the world still resting in the purpose of the Eternal, whose first thought created water, and in it the seed of life. This became an egg, from which issued Brahma, the creative power, who divided his own substance and became male and female. The waters were called nara, as being the production of Nara, or the Spirit of God, who, on account of these being his first ayana, or place of motion, is named Naray-na, or moving on the waters. A remarkable hymn from the Rig Veda, translated by Dr. Max Muller, also closely approximates to the Scriptural account: -

"Nor aught nor naught existed; yon bright sky
Was not, nor heaven's broad woof out-stretched above.
The only one breathed breathless by itself;
Other than it there nothing since hath been.
Darkness there was, and all at first was veiled
In gloom profound - an ocean without light."


(Vid. Macdonald's 'Creation,' etc., p. 51.)

6. The description of chaos given by Ovid is too appropriate to be overlooked: -

"Ante mare et tellus, et, quod tegit omnia, caelum,
Unus erat toto naturae vultus in orbe,
Quem dixere chaos; rudis indigestaque moles quia corpere in uno
Frigida pugnabant calidis, humentia siccis,
Mollia cum duris, sine Pendere habentia pondus"


(Metamor.,' lib, 1:1). Yet not more remarkable are these indirect confirmations of the truthfulness of the Biblical cosmogony than the direct corroborations it derives from the discoveries of modern science.

(1) The nebular hypothesis of Laplace, which, though only a hypothesis, must vet be admitted to possess a high degree of probability, strikingly attests its authenticity. That eminent astronomer demonstrated that a huge chaotic mass of nebulous matter, revolving in space on its own axis with a sufficient velocity, and gradually condensing from a high degree of heat, would eventually, by throwing off successive rings from the parent body, develop all the celestial orbs that presently compose our planetary system. Though for a long time regarded with suspicion by Biblical scholars, and at the first only tentatively thrown out by its author, Kant, yet so exactly does it account for the phenomena of our solar system as disclosed by the telescope, that it may now be said to have vindicated its claim to be accepted as the best solution science has to give of the formation of the universe; while further and more dispassionate reflection has convinced theologians generally, that so far from conflicting with the utterances of inspiration, it rather surprisingly endorses them.

(2) The researches of physical philosophy in connection with hydrodynamics have successfully established that the present form of our earth, that of (the solid of revolution called) an oblate spheroid, is such as it must necessarily have assumed had its original condition been that of a liquid mass revolving round its own axis.

(3) Geological science likewise contributes its quota to the constantly accumulating weight of evidence in support of the Mosaic narrative, by announcing, as the result of its investigations in connection with the earth's crust, that below a certain point, called "the stratum of invariable temperature," the heat of the interior mass becomes greater in proportion to the depth beneath the surface, thus leading not unnaturally to the inference that "the earth has assumed its present state by cooling down from an intensely heated, or gaseous, or fluid state" (Green's 'Geology,' p. 487.).

1:1,2 The first verse of the Bible gives us a satisfying and useful account of the origin of the earth and the heavens. The faith of humble Christians understands this better than the fancy of the most learned men. From what we see of heaven and earth, we learn the power of the great Creator. And let our make and place as men, remind us of our duty as Christians, always to keep heaven in our eye, and the earth under our feet. The Son of God, one with the Father, was with him when he made the world; nay, we are often told that the world was made by him, and nothing was made without him. Oh, what high thoughts should there be in our minds, of that great God whom we worship, and of that great Mediator in whose name we pray! And here, at the beginning of the sacred volume, we read of that Divine Spirit, whose work upon the heart of man is so often mentioned in other parts of the Bible. Observe, that at first there was nothing desirable to be seen, for the world was without form, and void; it was confusion, and emptiness. In like manner the work of grace in the soul is a new creation: and in a graceless soul, one that is not born again, there is disorder, confusion, and every evil work: it is empty of all good, for it is without God; it is dark, it is darkness itself: this is our condition by nature, till Almighty grace works a change in us.
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