Genesis 1:3-5 ‘then’ setting, ‘then’ daybreak, day ONE

1:3 Then the Almighty said: This is the first waw consecutive in Scripture. It is a conjunction of utmost importance to understanding and interpretation. The scholarly world is not agreed on its precise meaning and function. One of the main reasons for the MISB is that this translator has deciphered what that meaning is, and how to figure it out using the context.

The waw consecutive has the meaning of the English word “then.” This is to be distinguished from a simple waw conjunctive which means “and”; the Hebrew text has a morphological difference between waw consecutive and waw conjunctive. A conjunctive waw is spelled וְ, and pronounced: . The waw consecutive is spelled: וַ, and pronounced: wa. Modern readers pronounce vǝ and va respectively. A further distinguishing feature is that the waw consecutive is always attached to an imperfect verb, the accent is moved forward in the verb, and the verb is often shortened.

evening and morning

The word “then” in English is employed to mean what comes next: then next. The word “then” is also used to mean what happened at a remote time in the past, or will happen in the future, i.e. “Then, farmers used to use horses for plowing” or “Someday fusion may be used to generate power. Then, energy will be cheaper and more abundant. Then, it will be clean and not polluting.” Another use of “then” is to draw a conclusion: “Jack was a professional thief; then he planned his thefts carefully.” The sense used here is “Therefore.” A logical connection is being made with what was said before.

This being said, I translate waw consecutive three different ways in order to show which of the English meanings of “then” is meant by the Hebrew. 1. Then (for then next) 2. Then, (with a comma for “at that time”, 3. Then: (with a colon to indicate “therefore.” Each of the three senses has to be justified from the context. Firstly, #1: “then (next)” is by far the most common usage. It therefore needs no other justification than that it should be tried first, and where it makes good sense, no other sense should be sought. Secondly, #2 “At that time” is used where it is obvious that the statement is at the same time as the preceeding statement, or is simply remote with respect to the narrator, usually in the past. Thirdly, #3, “Therefore” must be justified in that temporal succession would be contradictory, and also “at that time” (i.e. simultaneous with the preceeding, or remote to the narrator) would be contradictory, and further, that there really is a logical connection with the preceding narrative, i.e. there is a conclusion to be drawn, or a cause to be noted. For further explanation see note 1:7¹. The translation is according to the first sense that makes logical sense going in order of priority for the senses. However, in some cases two of the senses may apply, i.e. the “Therefore” sense in addition to one of the other two. 1. “Then next, therefore:” or “At that time, therefore.

1:3² ^ This is the first use of the imperfect tense in Scripture. The term imperfect means incompleted. The Hebrew imperfect includes the present tense, the future tense, and the future subjunctive. The imperfect is used for past narrative as a historical present. Therefore all the imperfects translated simple past in English are in fact presents in Hebrew: “then the Almĭghty says, “Let there be light.” Then there is light. Then the Almĭghty sees the light, that it is good. Then the Almĭghty makes a divide between the light and between the darkness.” English discourse uses the simple past for past narrative. Sometimes it might use the present for dramatic reasons, and this use is called the historical present. All translations, this one included, except for an ultra literal translation like Young’s literal, which is hopelessly outdated, and virtually unreadable in ordinary English, use the simple past for the imperfect. Young used the archaic English present to translate the imperfect, terms like: saith, seeth, separateth. In contemporary English these would become: says, sees, separates.

The EHSV however, is virtually the only translation (besides Young) for which the reader can figure out which verbs are imperfect from the English translation. So, if one wants to read the text for dramatic effect, then every verb in the simple past that is preceeded by “Then,” may be converted to the simple present tense.

1:3³ ^ The very first thing that he made was light, “Let there be light.” The presence of light is necessary before there can be “setting” ‘erev̱ (עֶרֶב) or “daybreak” v̱oqer (בֹקֶר). This observation will prove crucial in relation to Messiah´s death and resurrection. See vs. 5.

1:3† ^In the beginning of the Almĭghty’s creating the heavens and the earth, 2 (and when the earth had been unformed and nothing, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the Spĭrit of the Almĭghty was making a fluttering to be upon the face of the waters), 3 then the Almĭghty said, “Let there be light.”†

Genesis 1:1-3a forms one long sentence with a long ( ) giving the setting. The structure may be simplified like this: “In the beginning of the Almĭghty’s creating the heavens and the earth, (…) then the Almĭghty said, ‘Let there be light.’” The creation of light was the first act of creation mentioned in the Scripture. Light was the first component of the heavens and the earth that said to be created. The water was already there. What goes in the ( ) is the setting, or state of affairs, when he began creating. In the setting the existence of the earth is denied. The existence of waters is asserted, and the Spĭrit’s relationship to the waters is noted. Where the waters came from is not stated. We are merely left to assume that they were made by the Almĭghty at some point.

Vs. 2 has given us a setting with waters, and nothing is said about these waters being created then. We don´t know when they were created. Vs. 2 presents the water as the starting substance of creation. The doctrine of creation out of nothing (ex nihilo) is often suggested as the meaning of “create,” br’ (ברא), but this has nothing to do with the word. The doctrine of creation is correctly derived from the nature of the Almĭghty rather than the word bɘrō. Later we see that woman was created from a starting substance of man’s rib. In vs. 2 we are given the starting substance of all creation: water. So ברא does not mean to make out of nothing. We may guess that the spirit he put into the woman was created out of nothing we can identify as material, but her body had the rib as a precursor.

Whenever the Almĭghty used something already made as a precursor, we must understand that there is no infinite regression of precursors. The chain ends with initial matter (the text does not say if the water is initial matter or not). The Almĭghty creates initial matter out of His Word. What this really means is that He sets the definitions of the reality we live in by his word using the logic and wisdom that is an eternal part of his nature. The ability to turn logical thought into an external matter is a transcendent ability comprehended only by the Almĭghty. What matter really is, is a set of definitions turned into reality. Even more amazing is that the Almĭghty can create from his Word spiritual persons in his own likeness who have the ability to organize the matter He made to create things after him. So we see that ultimate creation is not truly out of nothing, unless we mean by this material substance. It is out of nothing in that sense. But there is something, namely the laws of logic on a transcendent plane in the mind of the personal and spiritual Almighty.

The attribute of Gŏd’s creative nature raises the question of other universes. What these are is not revealed, but the correllary of infinite time in the past combined with Gŏd’s creative nature leads to the conclusion that an infinite number of universes exist, and like time the present new universe was added to the already existing infinite set existing before. Only Gŏd can relate to the whole pre-existing infinite set. These other universes are mostly one’s where sin never happened, but if it did, Gŏd pursued a solution for it consistent with his character.

To summarize the idea in vss. 1-3a. by analogy, I can say, “In the beginning of building my house, when the house was unformed, then I said to the builders, ‘lay the foundation.’” Now it is clear that the foundation was the first thing built. The mention of the house before the foundation does not imply its existence. This is how the structure of the Hebrew goes. It corresponds exactly to this analogy.

1:5¹ ^ The word day is given its most literal definition here, which is daylight, occuring from dawn to dusk.

1:5² ^ The “then(s)” indicate movement down the narrative timeline, however in verse five the narrative is interrupted by a waw conjunctive and a change in tense. The perfect tense is used to provide background information that is not part of the sequence. It stands in ( ) because it is not the tense English chooses for background information. English tells a sequential story using the simple past tense, and then when it wants to interrupt it does so with the present tense. In Hebrew, the convention is to interrupt with the perfect. For example: Dave woke up. Dave ate breakfast. (Dave hates bacon and eats only eggs and toast.) Dave went to work. Hebrew would put the parenthetical background statement in the perfect: (Dave has hated bacon and has eaten only eggs and toast.)

Thus the ‘night is not mentioned in sequence, however, it is easy to figure that it occurs between the setting and the daybreak at the end of the verse. The order of the narrative starts with the day, follows with a setting of the light, and then follows with a daybreak. It is precisely at this point that we must ignore the traditions of Jews and Christians in favor of what the text actually says. The day comes first and then it is followed by a night. Both Judaism and Christainity, therefore, are backwards when they claim that a “Genesis Day” begins with the setting. It is quite evident that “day” defined as “the light” begins at daybreak, and ends at dusk, and that if it is extended to a complete cycle (till a return of the light), then the night following is part of the cycle until daybreak again. The Genesis day error is the foundational assumption of many a chronological error, however none less than Jacob Milgrom (JPS Torah Commentary) and Franz Delitszch (Kiel and Delitszch Commentary) beg us to disagree with Jewish and Christian tradition here.

1:5† ^Then there was setting. Then there was daybreak. The waw consecutive here (translated then) shows that the “evening”, or more literally “setting” in Hebrew, follows next in time after the day: Then there was…. Thus, the setting of each day is always after the creative acts of the day. On the waw consecutive see notes 1:3¹ and 1:7¹. The setting and the daybreak mark the boundaries of the night that follows the day.

The word עֶרֶב is derived from the verbal root ערב, which means “go down,” “grow dark,” “set” (HALOT, BDB, Holladay). This Hebrew verb, by regular rules, is formed into a noun. It is important to note that עֶרֶב means “going down,” “setting,” or “growing dark.” Everett Fox, translator of the Schocken Bible, renders “There was setting, there was dawning: one day” (Gen. 1:5, The Five Books of Moses). My translation is even more literal than his, because I have preserved the waw consecutive, “Then there was setting. Then there was daybreak.” The sequence is established, first setting, then daybreak.

The King James Version mistranslates, “And the evening and the morning were the first day.” The KJV deletes the verb twice, turning it into two noun phrases, and then inserts the verb at the end of the sentence where it does not belong. The effect is to form an equation: evening + morning = 1 day. The first phrase in the KJV “And the evening” is a noun phrase, and the second clause “and the morning” is also a noun phrase. Noun phrases in Hebrew only take waw conjunctive. In Hebrew the words are verb phrases, “Then there is setting. Then there is daybreak: one day.” Verb phrases in Hebrew take the waw consecutive, and such is the case here. Where the KJV inserts the word “were” in “were the first day,” there is no verb at all in the Hebrew. The mistranslation is so atrocious to anyone knowing Hebrew that the only sound conclusion is that the KJV translators interest was not in getting it accurate, but in maintaining the tradition that a Scriptural calendar day is from sunset to sunset. And choosing tradition above the words and commandments of Gŏd is not faithfulness.

How does setting and daybreak occur when the only other matter in the universe is water? We only need to speculate as much as needed to satisfy the text. Water is matter, and as such we should expect it to form into a spherical shape in empty space. It stands to reason that the light source was close to the Almĭghty or even coming from him. And this was over the waters. The point of view given in the text is an observation point fixed on the surface of the waters. The text presents the Spĭrit as moving, and if the light moves with him, we may expect a setting and a dawning to occur with respect to the observation point on the surface of the waters. At this point it does not matter if the Almĭghty is going round the waters, or the waters rotating. The effect is visually the same. And all the physics can be explained from either point of view. For more on this, I recommend Starlight and Time, by Russel Humphreys, and the books by John Hartnett, such as Starlight, Time and the New Physics.

How much time may we expect to pass? The time from the creation of light, to its setting, to its dawning anew makes the first calendar day. And this time is divided up into 24 parts, which are called hours. Now no one is claiming that these hours are exactly hours measured by the current rotation rate of the earth. Measuring a clock rate against the rate of physics, as far as we know, is related to the depth of the gravitational well created by the mass of waters. I would make two observations. First for definitional purposes, the Scripture states the days before the creation of the sun and moon as having a setting and a daybreak. And second that proleptic retro-calculation of the first year and the first month bring their beginning points to the exact moment of the creation of light using our current earth-local time standard irrespective of gravitational well effects on the rest of the Universe.

1:5‡ ^Then¹ the Almĭghty ²said, “Let there be ³light.”† Then there was light. 4 Then the Almĭghty saw the light, that it was good. Then the Almĭghty made a divide between the light and between the darkness. 5 Then the Almĭghty called the light ‘day,¹’ (and² ḋarkness he has been calling ‘night.’) Then there was setting. Then there was daybreak.† One day.‡ The summation “one day” here is giving a second definition of day, which we call a calendar day, or twenty-four hour period, which begins with the statement, “Then there was light” in the middle of vs. 3. It is most obvious that the twenty-four hour days of Genesis 1 are timed from day break to daybreak. They are a day and a night, in that order. The King James Version renders, “And the evening and the morning were the first day.” That translation is utterly corrupt. Two verbs were removed from their proper location, and a third was added where it does not occur. The result is a false predication that a day starts with evening. The false doctrine that flows from misunderstanding the Genesis day is everywhere. The Hebrew literally goes, “Then there is setting; then there is daybreak.”

This only leaves the question as to why this monumental error in religous thinking has occured. The answer is that it suits Judaism to take away the keys to understanding Messiah´s death and resurrection, and it suits Christianity to go along with it, because they then get to believe in a chronology that has a little to do with Torah as they can make it. The “three days and three nights” (Mat12v40) are counted from daybreak to daybreak, and not from setting to setting. The later is often justified by appeal to the traditional claims about the Genesis day.

We also find that the temple service for sacrifices follows a daybreak to daybreak schedule (cf. Lev. 7:15; Lev. 6:9-10). This, and the Genesis day are two good reasons why we should view the days of Messiah´s suffering, death, and resurrection in the same way. In reality only Sabbath rests are counted from the night before the day.

Credits & Translation of Genesis by Daniel Gregg

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