Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Biblical Interpretation

The Mayim of Creation

By Jeff A. Benner


Abstract: The creation account concludes with, "Such is the story of heaven and earth when they were created" (Genesis 2:4 NJPS), yet many who have read the account come to the conclusion that it describes the restoration of heaven and earth rather than their actual creation. Is the conclusion of this story a misprint? Have we not been told the whole story as some conclude? Was יהוה (Yahweh/LORD) referring to a different six days of creation when He told Moses that the seventh day of the week is holy because, "...in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He ceased from work and was refreshed" (Exodus 31:17 & 20:11 NJPS)? The misconception that the creation account is an account of the restoration of heaven and earth stems, in part, from a misinterpretation of a key ancient Hebrew word used throughout the account. The ancient Hebrew word which is misinterpreted is (מַיִם mayim/waters). This article will analyze the creation account and show that it does not use מַיִם to refer to physical water as many down through the ages have tried to interpret it.

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