1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2Now the earth was formless and void, and darkness was on the surface of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
THESE are the opening words of B'reisheet (Genesis), the first book of the Bible. This book is also the first of the five books of the Torah, commonly translated as "Law," but more accurately translated as "Instructions." These five books lay the foundations for everything that comes later in the Scriptures.
The first two chapters of Genesis (esp. the first chapter) bear witness to the fact that God created the Universe, including the creatures, and of course including man. By the seventh day, God rested from His work of Creation, and "blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made." I don't believe He rested because He was exhausted! He rested as an example to us, to also rest on the seventh day (Shabbat or Sabbath), which begins at sunset on Friday and ends at sunset on "Saturday." When we honor this day, we bear witness to the fact of Creation, that we did not evolve from pond scum.
Rashi's commentary is often quoted in the Chumash. Maimonides (also known as the Rambam) also did a commentary on the Torah, as did Nachmanides (also known as the Ramban). I am not a great fan of Maimonides; he admired much of Greek philosophy. In his commentaries, he often tried to blend Greek philosophy with the Scriptures. This sort of syncretism also occurs in Christian commentaries, and does not belong in Jewish commentaries. Torah and Greek philosophy do not mix; it is like trying to mix oil and water! However, for some strange reason, Maimonides is highly revered in Judaism.
Nachmanides was born in Spain in 1194. He won in a Disputation ("debate") against a Catholic scholar in 1263. This permitted him and the Jews of Barcelona to remain in Judaism. However, Nachmanides was expelled from Spain as a punishment. He migrated to Israel, where he died in 1270.
Nachmanides was both a Talmudist and a Kabbalist. I am not defending everything he wrote. However, he did have some very interesting insights into the Scriptures. Just from reading the first chapter of Genesis, he understood that there are ten dimensions. He said that four of the dimensions are knowable, and six are unknowable.
I can understand the first four dimensions. We basically function in three dimensions: Length, width, and height. We also function partially in the forth dimension: Time. We can go forward in time, but (unfor-tunately) we cannot go backward in time to undo our mistakes. I can't begin to understand the other six dimensions. However, Nachmanides said the same thing that many physicists today are saying: that there are ten dimensions. How did he know that? And how did he know that just from reading the first chapter of Genesis?
If we had the ability to see into these other dimensions, we would probably be able to peer into the spirit world which is beyond our normal senses. Each atom contains a tiny nucleus surrounded by tiny electrons circulating in orbits around the nucleus. About 99.9 percent of each atom is nothing! It is conceivable that "alternate universes" could co-exist side-by-side without knowledge of each other. (Curiously, my math teacher in high school also mentioned such things way back in 1965, long before more recent scientists came to understand that there were additional dimensions.)
This might all sound a bit bizarre to you. However, we read in 2 Cor. 4:18 about the things which are seen and the things which are unseen, "for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." The "unseen" things are actually the greater reality. The seen things are temporal. The unseen things would include the spiritual beings, both for good and evil. Occasionally, we read in the Scriptures about someone getting a glimpse into the eternal. For instance, Balaam's donkey was able to see the Angel of the Lord in Numbers 22. Isaiah had a glimpse into the heavenlies in Isaiah 6, as did Ezekiel in Ezekiel 1. The spirit world is the greater reality, and perhaps operates in some of the six "unknowable" dimensions.
There is much happening in Genesis chapter 1 that escapes most people. Verse 1 says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." This is foundational for everything that happens later. If someone doesn't understand this, then he (or she) will have a poor understanding of the rest of the Bible. Yes, as a non-believer, I believed in evolution. Even as a new believer, I continued to believe in evolution. To not believe in evolution was to not believe in science, according to my way of thinking. However, as I learned later, the theory of evolution is just that: a theory, nothing more. Also, this theory is not even good science. There are many holes in this theory. This universe we live in is very carefully designed, from the tiny atom, to the biggest galaxies. It also indicates a designer.
In the beginning of verse 2, we read, "2And the earth was formless and void." The word translated was is the Hebrew word haita. The shoresh (root word) could be translated became, as in Genesis 19:26, where Lot's wife "became a pillar of salt." We could read the beginning of verse 2 as, "And the world became formless and void." I say this, because Isaiah told us that the world was not created "formless and void." Quoting Isaiah 45:18, "For thus saith HaShem (YHWH), who created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He has established it, He did not create it formless and void. He formed it to be inhabited." The words used in both Genesis 1:2 and Isaiah 45:18 for "formless and void" are "tohu v'vohu." I happen to believe that Isaiah was correct, that the earth was not created "formless and void." I also happen to believe from Genesis 1:2 that the earth "became formless and void."
This is the foundation for what is known as the "Gap Theory." There is a large unspecified gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. This is not a brand new theory. The Rev. Thomas Chalmers popularized this theory in the early 1800s. He died in 1847, 12 years before Darwin published On the Origin of the Species in 1859. Chalmers did not believe in evolution, and did not promote the Gap Theory to support evolution. Evolution is a damnable heresy in my humble opinion.
Genesis 1:3 to 1:31 is describing the re-creation that occurred after the earth became formless and void in Gen. 1:2. These are literal days, as each day is described as "evening and morning." The entire process took six literal days. In six days, there is no time for all the critters to "evolve" into their present condition.
We see in chapter 3 of Genesis that HaSatan - the Adversary - was already a fallen being in Gan Eden (Garden of Eden). He was the one who tempted Chava (Eve). If there was no gap between verses 1 and 2, where did Satan suddenly come from?
The Koran is certainly not authoritative in any way, shape or form. However, it is interesting to note that the Koran teaches an earlier creation in which earth was inhabited by Jinns ("devils") and angels.
However, I do believe that Jeremiah is authoritative. Jeremiah 4:23-26 says, "I beheld the earth, and lo, it was formless and void, and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved to and frp. I beheld, and lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the Lord, and by His fierce anger. For thus hath YHWH said, 'The whole land shall be desolate; yet I will not make a full end." Jeremiah seems to be describing an earlier creation that was destroyed.
More importantly, many of the Rabbis teach that there were earlier creations (yes, creations, plural), of unknown quantity, perhaps two, perhaps up to seven. Ibin Ezra (1092 to 1167) claimed that all matter (including the planet we live on!) is co-eternal with God. I don't believe that. However, this shows that some Rabbis believed that the earth could be considerably older than 6000 years. What was the purpose of these earlier creations? I don't know. I also don't know how big the gap is between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. It could be centuries, or it could be millions of years. There remains some geologic and fossil evidence of an earlier creation to this day.
Many theologians agree that Isaiah’s words to the king of Babylon are addressed not only to the earthly king of Babylon, but also to the spiritual entity who was over the king of Babylon, namely Satan: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cast down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For you have said in your heart, ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit” (Isaiah 14:12-15).
Here we see the transformation of Lucifer, an anointed cherub, into HaSatan. Satan ruled over a kingdom on this planet below the clouds, not in the heavenlies, as Lucifer sought to "ascend above the heights into the clouds." HaSatan ruled over an earlier creation that was destroyed during this 'gap' between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. The angels of God also existed before the Genesis creation, per Job 38:6.