The creation of the world to be, to do
‘The earth was astonishingly empty’
G-d created the world as we know it in six days and hallowed it on the seventh. The story of creation is told from a third person perspective recounting the events of the past, describing the process by which we are able to know how our world, and our existence, came to be. It is given in the way of understanding ourselves as originating from a singular source of creation.
This is the story of G-d’s creating. The opening line of the text, “In the beginning of G-d’s creating the heavens and the earth,” puts emphasis on the ‘creating.’ If it read, “In the beginning G-d created the heavens and the earth” the emphasis would be on the final product, the ‘created,’ rather than the ‘how’ of its coming to be, the ‘creating.’ The story of creation is about the process of the formation of the heavens and the earth, and not about their immediate invention. This is the story of emergence, growth, and self-sustenance.
Prior to the start of G-d’s creating, the structure of the universe consisted of three elements: ‘darkness,’ ‘the waters,’ and ‘the Divine Presence.’ Darkness and water were in existence before the events of the first act of creation, as given in the line, “In the beginning of G-d’s creating the heavens and the earth – when the earth was astonishingly empty, with darkness upon the surface of the deep, and the Divine Presence hovered upon the surface of the waters.” (1:1-2) The process of creation does not start with an empty slate but rather the Divine Presence working with these two raw materials from which the world as we know it will emerge. In the condition of this pre-ordering of the universe, both G-d and the darkness are described as being ‘on’ the waters with the difference being that the darkness was on the waters whereas the Divine Presence hovered: the darkness as a physical form touched, made contact, with ‘the deep,’ a description of the waters as itself an abyss of astonishing emptiness, whereas the Divine Presence hovered over, and did not touch, the physical form of the waters, a description of non-contact. Literally, and figuratively, there was no connection to G-d as of yet: emptiness was on emptiness, as in the darkness was on the ‘deep’ of the waters, and the Divine Presence only hovered over the waters. The process of creation, growth, and development had not started. From this structure of the darkness on the waters, G-d as the Divine Presence begins the work of creation. (An additional way we know that darkness and water were in existence prior to the start of the process creation is by their roles in the first and second days: the first and second acts of creation are, respectively, the separation of light from darkness and the division of waters. For these acts to happen, for light to be extracted from darkness and for water to be divided, the elements of darkness and water must already be in existence.)
Throughout the story of creation, G-d’s will acts as the creative spark that transforms the inert non-energies of emptiness and darkness into revealing their inherent potential for growth. Creation, rather than being about ‘something from nothing,’ takes the form of primarily being of bringing forth new elements from within previously existing ones, of revealing entities and qualities that were until then previously contained. And, once these elements are there, they are self sustaining in accordance with the principles of their creation. The “creating of the heavens and the earth” is the process of isolation/extraction/separation, emergence, and self sustenance of the ‘good’ (as it is said) from the empty or inert, as it is from the initial unrefined qualities of emptiness and darkness. It is, here, G-d’s will, the creative spark, that has the world and order of the universe come to be, for the sake of it leading back to the source of its own existence, to do.
On the first day of creation: the separation between light and darkness, and the naming of day and night
The first act in G-d’s creating of the heaven’s and the earth is the separation between light and darkness. This comes to be with a verbal command, “Let there be light” (1:3) and Light is then “separated” (1:4) from darkness. In order for light to be separated from the darkness, or made independent, the two needed to have been previously intermingled. It is the extraction of the light, the work required to make the light emerge as an independent identity, that is the act of creation. It says, “G-d saw that the light was good, and G-d separated between the light and the darkness,” (1:4) which indicates that the dividing factor between light and darkness is G-d, or the energy that causes this separation and the coming to be of light and dark as distinct entities. G-d here exists between the separation of, or as the energy that separates, light and darkness, at that point where light meets darkness and darkness meets light. This becomes the first act of creation. G-d then gives each a name, calling the light “day” and the darkness “night.” The giving of these names provides an additional way in which the light and darkness are to be known. G-d then “sees” this and evaluates it as “good.” The pairs of Day and Night become the first duality in the world, a balanced pair of opposites. To complete this act is the cycle of evening and morning, constituting one full day (it is important to note that the sun and moon have not been created at this point and that the length of a day here is obviously not measured by the setting and rising of the sun as we know it. We have no way of knowing in terms of a quantifiable amount of time what constitutes the actual length of a “day” in regards to the acts of creation. Also, ‘light’ and ‘darkness’ here are therefore not, as we have come to believe, as being generated by the sun or moon, or the presence of the sun or its negative, the absence of the sun. Day and night here is a way of marking the passage of time by means of the balance of this duality.)
This first day also introduces the senses of sound and vision and the way in which they function in the process of creation. Sound takes the form of G-d’s speaking (“and G-d said…”) and calling (the naming of the light and the darkness), and vision takes the form of G-d “seeing” the work which was done. This establishes a pattern: sound is primarily responsible for causing and creating change, as in ‘G-d speaks’ and the new act occurs, rather than a more tactile ‘G-d built’ or ‘G-d touched;’ the act comes into existence from a verbal command, and the vibrations(?) from speaking or calling set the process in motion. Vision tends to be reserved for evaluation; by seeing the result after the changes have occurred, then it is to know what is the condition or status of the work, and that it is good.
On the second day of creation: the division of the waters to create the Firmament and the naming of it ‘Heaven’
From the darkness on the first day, attention is now, on the second day, given to the waters, the material over which the Divine Presence hovered. G-d splits the waters (the “waters” I envision as a singular collection of groups of many waters) into two separate parts, water and water, leaving an empty space between them as the divider. This empty space, the Firmament, is the creation of the second day. This Firmament is then called, by G-d, “Heaven.” Heaven, here, is the empty space which serves as a partition for the original waters which are now split into two, referred to as the waters that exist above the Firmament and the waters which exist below the Firmament. And, what could exist in this space that separates the waters? I believe it to be the creation from the first day. As “the Darkness once rested upon the surface of the deep,” this empty space separating the waters is now filled by Light and Darkness. As the water gets divided, the void is filled by Darkness and Light. And, like in the creation of the first day, it says here that G-d is the force that separates between water and water, indicating that the link between the now divided waters is G-d. This gives the sense that the Divine energy that caused the separation is also the way to knowing unification in that same way. In the act of separation there is simultaneously created the energy that brings union.
Why would G-d, the initiator of creation, separate the waters into two with a dividing marker of empty space between them? What is the purpose of the formation of the Firmament? For the waters to reveal their purpose they needed to be divided. The division of the waters by way of the creation of the Firmament, like the separation of the Light from the Darkness, creates a balanced pair of opposites. The entity of the waters below the Firmament and the entity of the waters above are now each given a distinct independent identity, linked by the Firmament. And the point is to create an energy that reflects this process, like and like separated from the same source, and functioning to reveal their balance, the work of G-d’s creative will. Heaven, as the Firmament, becomes a connection between the two worlds of the waters, by way of an empty space, a blank slate, and serves as the place for the interplay of light and darkness to exist. That which is in ‘darkness’ is there to reveal its ‘light’ and that which is of ‘light’ functions as a guide for that which is of ‘darkness.’ That which is of the waters below the Firmament strives to be re-united with the waters above and that which is of the waters above serves its function as the beacon for that which is of the waters below.
I regard the waters that exist above the Firmament to be a second ‘Heaven.’ From the events on the third day of creation we know that the waters below the Firmament bring forth the emergence of dry land, the Earth. There is no further explicit mention of what becomes of the waters above the Firmament, the waters now existing on the other side of “Heaven,” as that space is called. What form could the waters take on the other side of “Heaven,” the Firmament? It could be a second Heaven, possibly the realm for the Angels. In the very first verse of the text, it states, “In the beginning of G-d’s creating the Heavens and the Earth…” (1:1) Here, Heaven is plural and Earth is singular, implying that G-d creates more than one Heaven and only one Earth. In the entire story of creation there is mention of only one Heaven, this one that is created here on the second day, the Firmament, the empty space that resulted from the division of the waters. Where, then, is the second Heaven, if it is not explicitly mentioned? As the second day is the day of the formation and establishment of Heaven, I believe the second Heaven is created on this day also and it is the waters that exist above the firmament. The Firmament (the “Heaven” that we know perhaps more familiarly as ‘outerspace’) is a link between the waters below, from which the Earth later emerges, and the waters above, possibly a divine manifestation of Earth which can be regarded as second form of Heaven, as we know it. From Earth, in the space of the Firmament, the interplay of “Day” and “NIght,” “Light and “Darkness,” serves as a guide that connects to the waters that are in existence above and beyond the Firmament. A new topography of the universe has now been formed.
This is the only day of creation in which there is no “and it was good” spoken by G-d after evaluating the work. A possible explanation is that there are no new entities that come to be on this day, only the reordering of preexisting material. The waters are divided, separating like from like, whereas on the first day Light is separated from Darkness, establishing two distinct entities. The Firmament, called Heaven, is an empty space, which is there to be a divider, like a vacuum, only there to be filled by light and darkness, and, later, the celestial beings. Perhaps, the “goods” are reserved for newly created perceptible material, or, maybe, Heaven (or the Heavens) can already be considered “good” as it is of the Divine Presence and it would be redundant to deem it as such. The emphasis here is on the process of creation, the creating. Creation becomes an act of emergence that results in bringing forth an essence that is previously unrealized; it is for the purpose of isolating and purifying these elements that are otherwise latent within an inert ‘astonishingly empty.’ From one to the next we find the process that ultimately leads back to itself, which comes to be as a result of the creative energy G-d’s will.
On the third day of creation: the gathering of the waters into one area, the emergence of dry land, and the sprouting of vegetation upon this dry land.
Now, on the third day, G-d turns attention to those waters that are below the Firmament (“Heaven”). There are three acts of creation on this day which are commanded into existence by two different ‘saids’ as in “And G-d said let there be…” The first two acts are grouped together in the same sentence by one ‘said’ as a singular event of coming to be by G-d’s ‘speaking.’ Following that is the third act, which is given its own ‘said.’
The first two acts of creation on this day are the gathering of these waters below the Firmament into one area and, once that is done, for dry land to emerge. The collective area that comes as a result from the gathering of these waters is “called” “the seas,” implying that many seas are assembled to share a specifically designated space. Here, boundaries are defined (structurally, this could possibly be the formation of the shape of the planet- picture the earth as a big ball of water with no dry land). The significance of the waters being gathered into one area is that they then become all united and connected. They are then therefore all subject to further acts of creation in the same way, and what becomes established by G-d’s will as the case for one is the same for all. With “the seas” gathered into place, the next step is for the appearance of dry land from beneath these waters. This dry land is “called” “Earth.” The Earth “appears from the waters…” as if it had been hidden within the waters, emerging from the deep in which it was previously concealed. Here, we have the prevailing theme of the extraction of a “good” from an “empty.” It is the separation and extraction of one element which was previously contained, dormant, within another. Like light from darkness, the appearance of dry land from water is the process of isolating two elements with distinct qualities, giving each element a chance to have its own identity and function in a balanced and sustainable relationship with it’s pair. Each pair works together in a way that reflects the force of change that caused it to come to be (being spoken into existence by the word and will of G-d.) Creation, as an act, is the energy, or process, that caused the Earth to emerge from the depths of the sea and the creation, as an object, is that which emerges from the emerging.
With “the Earth” emerged from “the seas,” there then comes the second “said” commanding into being the day’s third creation, the sprouting of vegetation on the dry land. This act of creation is given its own “said” as it marks the first instance of life with the ability to reproduce. It starts with the action “Sprout,” and the vegetation emerges from the dry land, and its identity is established. With the sprouting of the vegetation, herbage, and fruit trees, is also their ability to yield seed, and this point gets repeated mention. The “seed” functions in the continual process of creation from this initial point as it enables these elements to reproduce on their own accord. Creation now becomes a self-generative and self-sustaining process, with the objects of creation bestowed with the ability to ‘re(or pro)create.’ These creations and pro-creations are of the same source, which is G-d’s creative will. The phrase, “each after its own kind,” (1:11-12) is another form of establishing boundaries, like in the gathering of the seas, for the purpose that the laws of creation to follow all apply in the same way, and as they develop in their linear progression they are still of the same source.
Up until this point, creation dealt with its foundational structural elements, this being the separation of Light from Darkness, the separation of the waters and the establishment of “Heaven,” the gathering of the waters below Heaven, the emergence of the “Earth” from within these seas, and the emergence of vegetation from this Earth. These elements came to be through a process of isolation, extraction, separation, and emergence, requiring only a generative spark, a creative will for this process to begin. This is the first central theme of creation. Now, at the end of the third day, is the introduction of a second central theme of creation, that specific creations, those of the earth bearing seed, are bestowed with the ability to recreate on their own. The model is set in place that once this creative formula of division and emergence, emergence and division, gets going, it continues to go on its own. (I keep picturing cellular division and from these cells branches grow and from these branches more branches appear. The cells continue to divide themselves, multiplying, and on these cells is the continual growth of more and more branches yet all stemming from the same original source.) The ideas of emergence and procreation both function here in the process to bring forth the “good” that is inherent within the “empty” “deep,” and have it be self-sustaining. Ultimately, this process leads to the original creative energy that was its source for it coming to be in the first place.