I was talking with a friend of mine and he told me that he wanted to learn more about the Scripture of the Tanakh (he calls it Old Testament still but we are working on it). So I asked where he wanted to start and he said, "Genesis". Well if you are going to start somewhere that is the best place to start.
Translation is Everything
1In the beginning of God's creation of the heavens and the earth.
2Now the earth was astonishingly empty, and darkness was on the face of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the water. Bereshit 1:1-2
Now I know that may look different for some but this is the Translation to English from the Chabad.org Torah which is what is read and has been read for at least 2500 years if not longer. Here is the ESV Translation:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
What we need to point out is that the first part of verse 2 is very different and can really change the context. The difference is "being empty" verses "formless and void". other translations will go as far as saying "without form". So what is the contextual difference?
Being empty, eludes to the earth was formed and present but in a state of flux and without life or the means to sustain it. Gd was refining the earth. Without form and void can be taken so many ways. Yes, Gd created all things but the Hebrew text is specifically about the earth after chaos because that is about us. We cannot go back any further than that which is what other translations try to do.
The earth has been around for millions of years and we are not the first inhabitants. The writers of the Hebrew text knew this. The Bible is talking about our current circumstance of the last nearly 6000 years. There have been calamity after calamity on this earth that changed the face numerous times and Gd has had to start over each time. We even have one written in Genesis (the Flood).
When we read and study Scripture, the worst thing to do is read through whole sections in one sitting. Take the creation story, we read chapters one and two and say we were created but what does he mean by just good. Isn't Gd's creation perfect? No, we are co- creators with Gd working towards perfection but that is a story for another time.