Parashah 1: B'resheet “In the beginning”
B'resheet (Genesis) 1:1-6:8
Yesha'yahu (Isaiah) 42:5-43:10
by Messianic Teacher Dr. Daniel Boley
The High Holidays conclude with the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) and Simchat Torah, which means “Joy of the Torah.” Torah is often translated “law” but it is also “instruction” – in other words, Simchat Torah is really finding joy in God's Word. We rejoice in the written Word that the Living God has given us; the Word of Truth from the God of Truth. And we rejoice in the Personified Word of God: Yeshua Mashiach (Jesus Christ).
During the Simchat Torah service the Torah scrolls that are read from each week are rewound to the beginning. So the parashah for this week is B'resheet “In the beginning.”
Genesis is probably the most debated book in Scripture. As times change, the nature of the arguments change. The names and the faces change. But the goal is the same: to sow doubt, discredit God's Word, and discredit the God of this Word.
God, however, is not bound by time and space as we know them, and is unaffected by their puny arguments. As Psalm 2 puts it:
Why are the nations in an uproar, the peoples grumbling in vain? 2 The earth's kings are taking positions, leaders conspiring together, against the LORD and His anointed. 3 They cry, “Let's break their fetters! Let's throw off their chains!”
4 He Who sits in heaven laughs; the LORD looks at them in derision. 5 Then in His anger He rebukes them, terrifies them in His fury. 6 “I Myself have installed My King on Tziyon, My holy mountain.”
What about God's Word itself? 1 Peter 1, beginning with verse 22:
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth, so that you have a sincere love for your brothers, love each other deeply, with all you heart. 23 You have been born again not from some seed that will decay, but from one that cannot decay, through the living Word of God that lasts forever. 24 For [quoting from Isaiah 40,] all humanity is like grass, and its glory is like a wildflower – the grass withers, and the flower falls off; 25 but the Word of the LORD lasts forever. Moreover, this Word is the Good News which has been proclaimed to you.
The world, with its propaganda campaigns and political correctness, will tell us almost anything to get us off track with God.
But you, 2 Timothy 3:14 says, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, recalling the people from whom you learned it; 15 and recalling too how from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which can give you the wisdom that leads to deliverance through trusting in Yeshua the Messiah. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living; 17 thus anyone who belongs to God may be fully equipped for every good work.
While partaking of various discoveries and teachings might be helpful, it should always be with the understanding that while worldly theories may come and go, the Word of the LORD abides forever.
“Genesis” is a Greek word meaning “source,” or “birth.” Following the Hebrew tradition of using the first word, or words, to name a book, passage or psalm, this book is called בְּרֵאשִׁית [beh-reh-shiyt] from the first word:
בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ
“In the beginning created God the heavens and the earth.”
Like our English “B,” בּ is the second letter of the Hebrew aleph-bet; the first being א. The sages tell us that it makes perfect sense that God's Word begins with the second letter of the alphabet rather than the first.
Even the “beginning” is God's creation: the beginning of time,
the beginning of space, the beginning of matter as we know them.
The beginning of God's creation, action and interaction with mankind.
All of these are rooted in this “beginning” that starts with something that is second.
Remember that the creator of any thing is by nature outside of, and greater than, the thing created. This is the case with the time, heavens and earth that God created. Things we are reminded of by the fact that “beginning” starts with the second letter, whereas
אֱלֹהִים / אֵל = El / Elohim (God) and
אֲדֹנָי = Adonai (Lord, Master) start withא, the first and foremost letter in the Hebrew alphabet; as do
אֵל שַׁדַּי = El Shaddai (God Almighty)
אֵל עוֹלָם = El Olam (God of Eternity)
אֵל עֶלְיוֹן = El Elyon (Most High God)
אֵל הַגָּדֹל = El Ha-Gadol (the Great God)
אֱלֹהֵי הָאֱלֹהִים = Elohai Ha-Elohim (God of the gods) and
אֲדֹנֵי הָאֲדֹנִים = Adonai Ha-Adonim (Lord of the lords)
בְּרֵאשִׁית [beh-reh-shiyt], “in the beginning” – more literally this should be “in the beginning of” so that we read, “In the beginning of God's creating ….” a number of conditions, “God said, 'Let there be light.'”
When did the LORD do this? Using what is referred to in John 7:15 as the “study of letters,” we find a clue looking at the letters of בְּרֵאשִׁית : those same letters spell א בְּתִשְׁרֵי – the first of Tishrei – that's the month of the Hebrew lunar calendar that just started. That's why this week's parashah is בְּרֵאשִׁית “in the beginning of” Genesis.
Yochanan (John) begins his eye witness report of the Good News with these same words, “In the beginning …”:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 All things came to be through Him, and without Him nothing made had being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not suppressed it.
14 The Word became a human being and [tabernacled] lived with us, and we saw His glory, the glory of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth.
– another reminder of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, which just ended
Something else I find interesting about this word בְּרֵאשִׁית involves the paleo- or ancient Hebrew meanings of the letters themselves. Although there may be different ways of looking at the same combination of letters, there is one that stands out.
Picture Character Literal Meaning Letter Sound
house / building; household B / V
ר a person; the head; the highest R
א strength; leader; first Silent
שֹ ֹש to devour;
to consume S / Sh
י to work;
to make Y
ת to seal; to make a covenant T
How does this relate to the word בְּרֵאשִׁית ?
בַּר , the first two letters, is a Hebrew word for “son” – the word picture tells us that a son is “the house man,” or “the man from within the house,” so one message pictured in בְּרֵאשִׁית is that:
through the י work of the ת cross, the covenant
the א first / preeminent בַּר Son will destroy
what would otherwise consume שׁ us from within
1 John 3:8 tells us, “... It was for this very reason that the Son of God appeared, to destroy the works of the Adversary.”
showing us that from the beginning of “the beginning” God already had a plan involving a covenant, a cross, destroying the destroyer, and his works
The Hebrew word, עָשַׂה [ah-sah], is used when we say someone did or made something. But the word used in Genesis 1:1 is בָּרָא [bah-rah]. With rare exception, in Scripture this word is used in reference to an act of God because בָּרָא is to shape or form something out of nothing.
Man can put things together or reshape material that already is, but only God can create something out of nothing.
The word translated “God” here is אֱלֹהִים which is literally “Gods” – plural. In Scripture we read about the אֱלֹהִים of the Canaanites (Deut 6:14), the Moabites (Ruth 1:15), the Philistines (1 Sam 17:43), and of other nations. But in every instance all of the accompanying verbs are also plural.
In the case of the אֱלֹהִים of Israel, however, all of the accompanying verbs are always singular. In the case of the one true God, אֱלֹהִים is like a collective noun indicating plurality within the one.
The word “band” in the phrase “a band of musicians” and the word “jury” in the phrase “a jury of his peers” are both singular words indicating more than one. In referring to the one true God, אֱלֹהִים is a plural word indicating One; and yet more than one.
Just what did God create out of nothing?
First listed is הַשָּׁמַיִם [ha-sha-ma-yim]: the heavens. הַשָּׁמַיִם is used in Scripture in several ways:
הַשָּׁמַיִם is where the birds fly; we might call this the lower atmosphere. (Deut 4:17; 2 Sam 18:9; 1 Cor 21:16)
Another use represents an area farther from earth's surface where frost (Job 38:29), snow (Isa 55:10), fire (Gen 19:24), dust (Deut 28:24), hail (Josh 10:11), and rain (Gen 8:2) all come from.
Much of this makes sense when we look closely at the term הַשָּׁמַיִם:
-הַ is the definite article “the” so the word “heavens” is really שָּׁמַיִם
three-fourths of which is “waters” מַיִם
הַשָּׁמַיִם can also refer to where the sun, moon, and stars are; stars being both the gaseous balls of fire and the “wandering stars” we now call planets (Gen 1:14)
שָּׁמַיִם can also refer to the spiritual realm of the presence of God (Ps 2:4 [cf Deut 4:39], Deut 26:15; Deut 10:14)
And the phrase “heavens and earth” is used to denote the entire creation, as we see here in Genesis 1:1.
The second thing listed that the LORD created is הָאָרֶץ – “the earth,” which verse 2 tells us was at that time “without form.” Some of our Bibles say it was “formless.” It was “unformed” in that it had not yet been shaped or moulded by the hand of God.
The earth was also “void” – it was empty – and covered by darkness.
How telling! Before and without the touch of the Master's hand the earth was void, empty, and covered with darkness.
The same goes for man who was made from the earth!
3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So there was evening, and there was morning, one day.
The “light” that God created is אוֹר [ōr] in Hebrew. This word refers to the light of day and of the heavenly luminaries as we might expect, but also the light of
daybreak – dawn – lightning
of a lamp – of life – of prosperity
of instruction – (figuratively) of one's face and
the LORD Himself as Israel's Light
God saw that the light was good and God made a separation, a division, between the light and the darkness.
The world wants us to believe
that “good” is “bad,” and “bad” is “good”
that “black” is “white,” and “white” is “black”
that it is all relative and doesn't really make a difference
a synonym for black is dark
a synonym for dark is shady
a synonym for shady is dim
a synonym for dim is pale
a synonym for pale is white
so, according to the world “black” really is “white”
But, according to the LORD, there is a difference
We are all familiar with John 3:16-17 …
For God so loved the world that He gave His only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in Him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but rather so that through Him, the world might be saved.
but many stop reading there. The passage continues …
18 Those who trust in Him are not judged; those who do not trust have been judged already, in that they have not trusted in the One Who is God's only and unique Son. 19 Now this is the judgement: the Light has come into the world, but people loved the darkness rather than the Light. Why? Because their actions were wicked. 20 For everyone who does evil things hates the Light and avoids it, so that his actions won't be exposed. 21 But everyone who does what is true comes to the Light, so that all may see that his actions are accomplished through God.
God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So there was evening, and there was morning, one day.
This is why the Jews recon time from evening to evening, rather than following the Roman custom of using midnight to midnight.
6 God said, “Let there be an expanse in the middle of the water; let it divide the water from the water.” 7 God made the expanse and divided the water under the dome from the water above the expanse; that is how it was, 8 and God called the expanse heaven. So there was evening, and there was morning, a second day.
9 God said, “Let the water under the heaven be gathered together into one place, and let dry land appear,” and that is how it was. 10 God called the dry land Earth, the gathering together of the water He called Seas, and God saw that it was good.
Notice that the passage mentions “an expanse in the middle of the water” dividing “the water from the water.” It then says the water under heaven was gathered together and called Seas.
What about the other water, the water over heaven?
Over the years many have supposed that to be a water canopy that was broken up during Noah's flood.
While I do believe there was a water canopy before the flood, I don't think it is mentioned here because in just a few verses God creates the stars and planets in that same expanse that is between the waters above and below.
11 God said, “Let the earth put forth grass, seed-producing plants, and fruit trees, each yielding its own kind of seed-bearing fruit, on the earth”; and that is how it was. 12 The earth brought forth grass, plants each yielding its own kind of seed, and trees each producing its own kind of seed-bearing fruit; and God saw that it was good. 13 So there was evening, and there was morning, a third day.
There is so much life and power in the Word of the LORD that the process continues to this day!
14 God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of heaven to divide the day from the night; let them be for signs, seasons, days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the expanse of heaven to give light to the earth”; and that is how it was. 16 God made the two great lights – the larger light to rule the day and the smaller light to rule the night – and the stars. 17 God put them in the expanse of heaven to give light to the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. 19 So there was evening, and there was morning, a fourth day.
There are some that argue that since יוֹם [yōm], the Hebrew word for “day,” can be used in a number of ways
we have no way of knowing whether each “day” of Creation is a 24-hour day or billions of years
יוֹם is used several ways in Scripture, e.g.:
day, as opposed to night (Gen 8:22)
24 hours periods (Gen 38:10)
in its plural form, יָּמִים [ya-miym], it can represent “year” (Ex 13:10), and
יוֹם can refer to an unspecified period of time (Gen 4:3)
BUT, if we compare Scripture with Scripture, (part of what we call “context,”) we find the answer
Exodus 20:8 Remember the yom Shabbat [the Sabbath day], to set it apart for God. 9 You have six days (six “yoms”) to labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh [yom] is a Shabbat for the LORD your God. On it, you are not to do any kind of work ….
Why? By what authority? By what example or precedence?
Verse 11 For [or because] in six days, the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them; but on the seventh day He rested. This is why the LORD blessed the yom Shabbat [the Sabbath day], and separated it for Himself.
Applying the tool of “common sense” we see that if יוֹם in the Creation week refers to anything other than six literal 24 hour periods we are in trouble and God's example of what we are to follow breaks down to impossible nonsense!
If יוֹם refers to years, then we are commanded to work for six years, or six years of years, before we get a rest!
If יוֹם refers to unspecified periods of time we are in even more trouble!
If יוֹם there refers to millions or billions of years … !!
Genesis 1:24 God said, “Let the earth bring forth each kind of living creature – each kind of livestock, crawling animal and wild beast”; and that is how it was. 25 God made each kind of wild beast, each kind of livestock and every kind of animal that crawls along the ground; and God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in Our image, in the likeness of Ourselves; and let them rule over the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the animals, and over all the earth, and over every crawling creature that crawls on the earth.” 27 So God created humankind in His Own image; in the image of God He created him: male and female He created them.
As different as men and women are, both were created in the image of God.
Each bears the image of the invisible God
But alone, each is limited in their ability to reflect God's image
Together, each helps to complete was is lacking. Together, each is better able to fully be who God created them to be, and are better able to accurately reflect the love and character of God
28 God blessed them: God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea, the birds in the air and every living creature that crawls on the earth.” 29 Then God said, “Here! Throughout the whole earth I am giving you as food every seed-bearing plant and every tree with seed-bearing fruit. 30 And to every wild animal, bird in the air and creature crawling on the earth, in which there is a living soul, I am giving as food every kind of green plant.” And that is how it was. 31 God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So there was evening, and there was morning, a sixth day.
2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, along with everything in them. 2 On the seventh day God was finished with His work which He had made, so He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. 3 God blessed the seventh day and separated it as holy; because on that day God rested from all His work which He had created, so that it itself could produce.
7 Then the LORD God formed a person [אָדָם (adam)] from the dust of the ground [אֲדָמָה (adamah)] and breathed into his nostrils the breath of lifes, so that he became a living being. 8 The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in 'Eden, and there He put the person whom He had formed.
According to Jewish tradition, this took place in was to become Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount.
So, in John 9, when Jesus healed a man born blind, He created working eyes using dirt from the Temple Mount.
This not only an act of mercy, but a dramatic demonstration of Who He was: the Creator incarnate.
Genesis 2:15 The LORD God took the person and put him in the garden of 'Eden to cultivate and care for it. 16 The LORD God gave the person this order: “You may freely eat from every tree in the garden 17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You are not to eat from it, because on the day that you eat from it, it will become certain that you will die.”
18 The LORD God said, “It isn't good that the person should be alone. I will make a companion suitable for helping him.” 19 So from the ground the LORD God formed every wild animal and every bird that flies in the air, and He brought them to the person to see what he would call them. Whatever the person would call each living creature, that was to be its name. 20 So the person gave names to all the livestock, to the birds in the air and to every wild animal. But for Adam there was not found a companion suitable for helping him.
The LORD declared that is was not good that Adam was alone
then He created every land animal and bird, which would have included
bringing all these pairs of animals to Adam; it became obvious that something was lacking
each of the animals had a mate that corresponded to, complimented, and completed them
but none of them would do for Adam
this whole process would bring the need into focus, and flame the desire for someone to correspond to, compliment, and complete him
the companion God was preparing to make for Adam would be his עֵזֶר [eh-zer]
in Hebrew Word Pictures, Dr. Frank Seekins writes:
In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve, or men and women, were created to make the other person whole. One without the other was missing what it takes to conquer and rule in life. The misunderstanding of Eve's role has limited many men and women since them. Proverbs 31 and 1 Peter 3:7 make it clear that through understanding and trusting her that the husband's prayers will be answered and that he will not lack for spoils (will win the battles of life). Here is the original Hebrew meaning of the word used in the Bible for Eve as Adam's help.
The Hebrew word עֵזֶר e-zer or help (Strong's 5828) is often mistaken in English for a helper or a servant when it is used for Eve (and women) who was the help meet for Adam.
Although this may seem to make sense in English, it is in conflict to the Hebrew meaning. עֵבֶד e-ved is the word for a servant as in, 'the servant of God,' [describing Moses in 1 Ch 6:49; 2 Ch 24:9, etc.] but עֵזֶר e-zer means an ally, as in 'God is my help' [e.g. Ps 54:6 (אֱלֹהִים עֹזֵר) and its abbreviated form as the name El'azar (אֱלֹהִים - עֹזֵר = אֶלְעָזָר )]. God is obviously not my servant and the same word tells us that Eve was created to be a military ally, a rescuer, a defender and not a servant. [I.e. the one who is designed, ordained, anointed, and commissioned by the LORD to “watch the back” of her husband.] (Adapted from Dr. Frank T. Seekins, Hebrew Word Pictures; How does the Hebrew alphabet reveal prophetic truths? 2012, p. 124.)
Genesis 2:21 Then God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man; and while he was sleeping, He took one of his ribs and closed up the place from which He took it with flesh. 22 The rib which the LORD God had taken from the person, He made a woman; and He brought her to the man. 23 The man said, “At last! This is bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh. She is to be called Woman (אִשָּׁה [i-sha]), because she was taken out of Man (אִישׁ [ish]).”
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any wild animal which Adonai, God, had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, 'You are not to eat from any tree in the garden'?”
one of the first things the enemy does is question authority
2 The woman answered the serpent, “We may eat from the fruit of the trees of the garden, 3 but about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said, 'You are neither to eat from it nor touch it, or you will die.'”
we don't know why Eve added “nor touch it”
Adam may have told her, “Don't eat from it. In fact don't even touch it,” as an added protection
we need to be careful about adding to God's Word – that is called legalism
the intention may be to provide additional “safeties” and “guard rails”
but they become unbearable burdens
this was precisely what Jesus fought against
in Luke 11:46 He said, Woe to you, experts in the Law! You load people down with burdens they can hardly bear, and you won't lift a finger to help them!
the problem was not with the Law, but with legalism
In Matthew 5:17, Jesus said, Don't think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete / to fulfill.
This was a common idiom. “To abolish” God's Word was to interpret, teach, and / or apply it wrongly; whereas “to complete” or “fulfill” God's Word was to interpret, teach, and / or apply it correctly.
it is incumbent on each of us to know God's Word for ourselves: don't take anyone's word for it
a “scholar” is someone who is very knowledgeable in a particular subject; but a “scholar” is also a student of a particular subject
the safest place for any Bible teacher or preacher to be is in a room full of Bible scholars
it is safety for the one teaching or preaching, and for every one who hears them
if I get something wrong in my theology or doctrine, it will affect me
if I teach something un-scriptural it will affect everyone else too
4 The serpent said to the woman, “It is not true that you will surely die;
Knowing there was an addition to what the LORD had said, I wonder if the serpent was touching, maybe even caressing the fruit as he said this
5 because God knows that on the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it had a pleasing appearance and that the tree was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her; and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together to make themselves loincloths.
Verse 6 says that she saw that the tree was good for food, that it had a pleasing appearance …
even in Hebrew it says the tree was good for food – the tree itself, not just the fruit
the Jewish sages tell us this was the etrog tree
even the bark of the etrog tree is good and sweet to eat
and has beautiful flowers; a pleasing appearance
the etrog represents our heart, desires, the fruit of our lives, and remembrance: things that only the LORD can heal, restore, and bring to fruition
Part of the temptation was that Havah (Eve, see Gen 3:20) would “be like God, [intuitively] knowing good and evil.”
In essence that she would have the “mind of God”: seeking to elevate self
but this is impossible for mankind
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways,” says Adonai. 9 “As high as the sky is above the earth are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa 55:8-9)
however, in Philippians 2, we see something very different in Messiah …
Therefore, if you have any encouragement for me from your being in union with the Messiah, any comfort flowing from love, any fellowship with me in the Spirit, or any compassion and sympathy, 2 then complete my joy by having a common purpose and a common love, by being one in heart and mind. 3 Do nothing out of rivalry or vanity; but, in humility, regard each other as better than yourselves – 4 look out for each other's interests and not just for your own. 5 Let your attitude toward one another be governed by your being in union with the Messiah Yeshua: 6 Though He was in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God something to be possessed by force. 7 On the contrary, He emptied Himself, in that He took the form of a slave by becoming like human beings are. And when He appeared as a human being, 8 He humbled Himself still more by becoming obedient even to death – death on a stake as a criminal! 9 Therefore God raised Him to the highest place and gave Him the name above every name; 10 that in honor of the name given Yeshua, every knee will bow – in heaven, on earth and under the earth – 11 and every tongue will acknowledge that Yeshua the Messiah is Adonai – to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1-11, emphasis added)
James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.
1 Pet 5:6-7 Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that at the right time He may lift you up. 7 Throw all your anxieties upon Him, because He cares about you.
What is impossible with man is possible with God through the work of Christ.
One last thought …
Genesis 3:8 They heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, so the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees in the garden.
Many of our English translations say “in the cool of the day.”
the Hebrew says: לְרוּחַ הַיּוֹם [leh-rū-akh ha-yōm] => “in / toward the breeze of the day”
Tradition says that is at 3 pm (15:00).
Twelve o'clock being when they sinned, 15:00 when the LORD confronted them and provided atonement;
the same three hour interval the High Priest would be in the Holy of Holies, on the Day of Atonement, interceding for the people,
and the same three hour interval of darkness when Yeshua was on the stake.
Ah-dahm and Havah (Adam and Eve), and in them, all of mankind, sinned.
They tried to hide from the LORD, and tried to cover their own sins
the Levitical sacrificial system provided endless “promissory notes” to atone for sin; looking forward to the perfect sacrifice
which Yeshua provided, not to cover or atone for our sins, but to wash away every stain and give us new hearts
Some application points:
In the בְּרֵאשִׁית [beh-reh-shiyt] “in the beginning of” whatever I am about, am I keeping אֲדֹנָי [Adonai] א ?
Am I consistently asking the LORD for discernment in telling what is “black” and “white” in the world around me?
Am I a careful student of God's Word, prayerfully seeking to “fulfill” rather than “abolish” it?
Am I living in all the newness of life that Jesus purchased for me?