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Table of Contents



  Chapter  1
  Chapter  2
  Chapter  3
  Chapter  4
  Chapter  5
  Chapter  6

  Appendix I
  Appendix II
  Appendix III
  Appendix IV
  Appendix V
  Appendix VI
  Appendix VII
  Appendix VIII
  Appendix IX
  Appendix X
  Appendix XI
  Appendix XII
  Appendix XIII
  Appendix XIV
  Appendix XV
  Appendix XVI
  Appendix XVII
  Appendix XVIII
  Appendix XIX
  Appendix XX
  Appendix XXI

  Biblical References

General Bibliography






(Reference: p.78)


Meaning of Descriptive Terms Found in Genesis 1.2.


Four descriptive terms are used: tohu, bohu, ghoshek, and te-

hom, translated respectively in the AV as "without form", "void",

"darkness", and "deep". The following are the occurrences of tohu

with their AV, RV, Berkeley, and RSV renderings (in that order).

Deut. 32.10:                        Psa. 107.40:

waste                                  wilderness

wilderness                           waste

in a .... waste                       pathless wastes

in a .... waste                       trackless wastes

I Sam. 12.21:                      Isa. 24.10:

vain things                           confusion

vain                                    confusion

mere nothings                      desolate

vain                                    chaos

Job 6.18:                             Isa. 29.21:

to nothing                            a thing of nought

into a waste                         thing of nought

wastes                                 empty

the waste                             empty

Job 12.24:                           Isa. 34.11:

a wilderness                         confusion

wilderness                            confusion

in a jungle                            chaos

a pathless waste                   confusion

Job 26.7:                            Isa. 40.17:

empty place                         vanity

empty place                         confusion (m.)

empty place                         worthlessness

the void                               as emptiness


pg 1 of 3      

Isa. 40.23:                          Isa. 45.19:

vanity                                  not in vain

as in a waste                        as in a waste

like nothing                          in vain

as nothing                            in chaos

Isa. 41.29:                          Isa. 49.4:

confusion                            for nought

confusion                            for nought

waste                                  for nothing

empty                                 for nothing

Isa. 44.9:                            Isa. 59.4:

vanity                                 in vanity

confusion (m.)                    vanity

in vain                                in confusion

nothing                               empty pleas

Isa. 45.18:                           Jer. 4.23:

not in vain                          without form

a waste                              waste

 in vain                              formless

 a chaos                             waste

In the LXX the words Tohu and Bohu are rendered   and

   , the first being found also (and only) in Isa.45.3

where it is translated in the AV as "hidden", and in II Macc. 9.5

where it is rendered in the RV as "invisible" (an invisible plague!).

The second is found only in Gen. 1.2 in the LXX and is not again

used.   In no passage where Hebrew employs the word tohu does

the Septuagint use the word Chaos (  ), though the word does

appear twice elsewhere in the LXX, ie. , in Mic.1.6 and Zech.14.4,

in both of which it is clearly employed to indicate a dramatic dis-

ordering - not a Chaos in the classical sense of being merely as yet

un-ordered. If the idea of something unformed or incomplete were

the author's intent in Gen. 1.2, it seems that the authors of the LXX

could still not appropriately have used the Greek word   , since

to them, evidently, (on the basis of Mic. 1.6 and Zech. 14.4) it did

not mean what was meant by the term in Classical Greek.   It is

hard to know what term they could have used to convey the idea of

something yet incomplete - if that is what the original means.   At

any rate they avoided the word  as perhaps being ambiguous.


     pg.2 of 3     

In the New Testament the opposite term  is used

frequently, always with the sense of "furnishing", "making ready",

"adorning".   Unfortunately, the New Testament does not use the

antonym chosen by the LXX for bohu so that one cannot be sure in

what sense it was employed in Gen. 1.2, whether as un-formed or

de-formed. That they did not use the term  might be taken as

some slight indication that the idea of something un-formed was not

considered the meaning of the original.   But the evidence is in-

conclusive in this respect.

By contrast, I do not think that the Hebrew word tohu can possibly

be viewed as a word normally implying something yet incomplete.

It is much more frequently, almost overwhelmingly, employed as a

term descriptive of something that is, in the view of both men and

God, under judgment or in disfavour, worthless or desolated rather

than not yet to be made valuable or not yet put in order.

With reference to the word bohu, James Strong in his Dictionary

gives the meaning (sub entry #922) as "an indistinguishable ruin",

though he states that the root (an unused one) means merely "to be

empty".   The noun occurs only in Gen. 1.2 and Jer.4.23.   BDB

favours the sense of bohu as something destroyed, not something-

being built.   Of tohu in Gen. 1.2, they also support strongly the

concept of "land reduced to primeval chaos" (my emphasis).

The word "darkness" is in Scripture frequently associated with

something under judgment: but it is not always so. The word can

be used merely for the absence of light, as during the night. Either

interpretation of the term in Gen. 1.2 would be equally allowable.

Of the term tehom, it is difficult to speak without becoming in-

volved also in such words from extra-biblical sources as the Assyrian

Tiamtu, etc.   In the Bible it means "the abyss" or simply, "the

deep sea". If one is to argue for a picture of a nebulous first-stage

in the process of creation, it is hard to see how a deep sea, an ocean,

or at least "waters" (verse 3), could already be in existence. In a

number of other passages in Scripture where the word occurs (as for

example: Psa.36.7 (Heb.); 71.20; 106.9 , there is a suggestion of

judgment or distress, but not always. The "deep" is often an agent

of destruction, as at the time of the Flood, but in itself it seems to

signify no more than the mystery of a great body of water whose

depths are unfathomable, as it were. Once again, the evidence is

inconclusive. But it does not seem unlikely that deep oceans could

be thought of as existing when the earth was still part of a nebula as

some have viewed Gen. 1.2.


     pg.3 of 3     


  Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved


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