The Creation

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1, ASV)

While this passage may appear to be a clear cut case for Elohim creating the heavens and the earth, the Hebrew text allows for multiple translations. Here is the Hebrew text with a literal letter for letter transliteration below it.

 בראשית ברא אלהים את השמים ואת הארץ

 B.R.A.Sh.Y.T  B.R.A  A.L.H.Y.M  A.T  H.Sh.M.Y.M  W.A.T  H.A.R.Ts

About 1,000 years ago, the Masorites, a sect within Judaism, added vowel pointings, called nikkudot, to the text to standardize pronunciation and meanings of these words. Here is how this verse appears with the nikkudot along with a transliteration of the passage incorporating the vowel pointings.

 בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ׃

 b'reshiyt bara Elohim et hashamayim v'et ha'erets.

With the text written in this way, the translation would be "in the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth." But this translation is solely based on the nikkudot that has been inserted into the text.

The wordבראשית  (b'reshiyt) is the nounראשית  (reshiyt) meaning "beginning" with the prefixב  (b) meaning "in"-in [the] beginning. Rashi, a well respected Rabbi in Orthodox Judaism, points out that the wordראשית  (reshiyt) is a construct, meaning a noun must follow it and suggests that the verbברא should be pointed asבֶּרֹא  (bero, the infinitive form, turning it into a noun of sorts) and notבָּרָא  (bara, an active verb). If we now read the beginning of Genesis 1:1 in this way we have "in the beginning of creation."

There is another possible interpretation of this phrase. If the verbברא  is pointed as בֹּרֵא  (borey, the participle form, also turning it into a noun of sorts) we can now read the beginning of this verse as "in the beginning of creating."

The next word is the word אלהים  (Elohim), a word that we have already looked at in detail.

The next word is the wordאת  (et). There are several meanings of this word. The first and most common is that it is used as a marker to identify the object of the verb, what is being created, and is therefore untranslatable in English. In the structure of the text, the word שמים  (shamayim, heaven) would be the object of the verb, what was being created.

A second meaning of the wordאת  (et) is a plowshare, but this has no connection with the context of this verse so we can disregard this meaning in this verse.

The third meaning of the word את  (et) is "with." We can see this application of the word being used in Genesis 5:22 where it says that "Enoch walked with God."

The next word isהשמים , which is the noun שמים  (shamayim) with the prefixה  (ha) meaning "the." While שמים  (shamayim) is usually translated as "heaven" or "heavens," it’s more literal and concrete meaning is "sky."

The next word is ואת, which is the word את, the word previously discussed, with the prefixו  (ve) meaning "and."

The last word in this verse is הארץ, which is the nounארץ  (erets) with the prefixה  (ha) meaning "the." Whileארץ  (erets) is usually translated as "earth," it’s more literal and concrete meaning is "land."

Now that we have examined this verse in detail from the Hebrew, we find that there are several possible translations into English.

In the beginning Elohim created the sky and the land.

In the beginning of Elohim's creation of the sky and the land.

In the beginning of creating Elohim with the sky and the land.

It is this last possible translation that begins our investigation of Elohim being "a part" of the creation instead being "apart" from the creation. Remember that we previously discussed the masculine and feminine qualities of Elohim? We see this very same concept in this verse as the Hebrew word for sky is masculine and the Hebrew word for land is feminine, and Elohim was created with both, the feminine sky and the masculine land.