Did Genesis 1:2 start when the earth was the water world?

Genesis 1:2
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.

I was wondering as I watched some documentaries that the earth was probably a water world during the early years. If that is true, can we say that Genesis 1:2 actually pointing to a time when there was no land formation and only water.

What you guys think?


In genesis 1, which is a different creation story than Genesis 2, it does open up with a formless void of water and darkness. Though it’s not necessarily a water world. They imagined the world as a flat disc with a dome around it. So space and what is earth, was all darkness and water. Tohu wabohu. “Bible Project “ podcast by Tim Mackie goes into this pretty deeply.

So everything was darkness and chaotic. Light separated the light and darkness. Then the water of the cosmos was separated from the waters of the earth. Then land rose up out of the waters of the earth. The dome kept the space water away.


yep i agree with this…note what Genesis 1:1 says…

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Then it goes on to that statement of Genesis 1:2.

So the logical sequence is that when God first created this earth at the end of Genesis 1:1, it was entirely covered by water.

I know that this is a highly argued topic, however for me, the opening statement of Genesis 1:1 is not problematic for either YEC or TEists.

I would advise that one doesnt focus entirely on podcasts. I have no problem reading widely, however, there are really well known scholarly works written about the theology of creation and i would urge that you ensure you cross reference any theological claims using a bible concordance

If we dont cross reference with well known scholarly approved bible concordances, its easy to be lead up the garden parth by dimwits and their unpublished writings that have not been peer reviewed! (podcasts being point and example)

I do like Tim Mackie btw, I am a subscriber to his youtube channel. I think he is a great preacher and a learned man. It is definately worth listening to this guy, but always check with a bible concordance what he claims because he has some significant theological issues in his beliefs.

For example, Tim thinks that God gave Israel the 613 laws in order to set them apart from the other nations around…that these were not Gods own moral standards. The problem with that claim by Tim is that he stuffs this the minute he includes the 10 commandments with those other 603 bylaws!

Anyone who googles 10 commandments will immediately recognise the stuff up Tim makes…the 10 commandments are the moral law. They clearly fill out the statement Christ made when he commanded “love God and love your neighbour as yourself”. Those principles Christ outlined are a summary of the two categories of the 10 commandments (first 4 are loving God and last 6 are loving thy neighbour as thyself)

  • *The favorite Greek “scientist” of an acquaintance was Thales, precisely because Thales is reported by Aristotle to have: ‘… declared that the earth rests on water’." Aristotle defined wisdom as knowledge of certain principles and causes (Metaph. 982 a2-3). He commenced his investigation of the wisdom of the philosophers who preceded him, with Thales, the first philosopher, and described Thales as the founder of natural philosophy (Metaph. 983 b21-22). He recorded: ‘Thales says that it is water’. ‘it’ is the nature, the archê, the originating principle. For Thales, this nature was a single material substance, water. Despite the more advanced terminology which Aristotle and Plato had created, Aristotle recorded the doctrines of Thales in terms which were available to Thales in the sixth century B.C.E., Aristotle made a definite statement, and presented it with confidence." [Source: Thales of Miletus (c. 620 B.C.E.—c. 546 B.C.E.)]
1 Like

Amazingly, if this Genesis came as a vision to the writer of the book of Genesis, then Gen 1:2 was recording something that happened after the formation of Galaxy, the formation of our solar system, the epic collision of the earlier earth to mars size planet that created the moon. In a word, the sun and the moon and the star was already there, but was not visible in the vision because the atmosphere was blocking all that from the vision on earth.

I still like what some ancient scholars, one of whom lived before Charlemagne, found in the opening of Genesis: that the universe started out smaller than a grain of mustard (i.e. the smallest possible), that it was filled with fluid (waters), that it expanded rapidly beyond comprehension, that as it expanded the fluid thinned at at some point got thin enough that light could move, at which point God commanded light to be; that the universe is ancient beyond measure, and that the Earth itself is ancient beyond counting.

Though some gave numbers for these, they tended to be symbolic; one given for the universe was a million times a million, one for the Earth was ten thousand times ten thousand. The first is 1000^4 or 10^{12}, i.e. a trillion; the second works out to a hundred million. Both of these figures diverge from what science yields, but they weren’t doing science, they were doing theology via numbers – 1,000 is 10 x 10 x 10; ten stood for a task done, and raising it to the third power indicated something superbly well done, then raising that to the fourth power indicated it as divinely well done. “Ten thousand times ten thousand” works out similarly.

Numbers aside, those ancient scholars, purely based on the Hebrew described what much later got dubbed 'the Big Bang" just by studying Genesis – their description corresponds to Genesis 1:1-3.

The “great deep” of “the face of the deep” is תְה֑וֹם (teh-home), “t’hom”, which is endless water and endless darkness. With endless water, there was no room anywhere for land.
As ‘royal chronicle’, the Creation account is about a great king’s mighty accomplishment. In this case, the first move is commanding light into existence, denying the supremacy of darkness, which is seen as having substance, not just as the absence of light. The second is giving the two opposing entities names – “day” and “night”. Having the name of something in that ancient worldview meant having power over it, so besides having broken the dominance of darkness YHWH-Elohim now commands both darkness and light, which leaves the waters and their chaos.
His next move is to open a space in the midst of the t’hom; by creating a raqia, a “firmament”, and pushing the waters apart, YHWH-Elohim beats the t’hom and establishes His own realm which He names “heaven”.
Next into the space He has made, which could be called a “water world” even though it isn’t really a world yet, God gathers up the waters at the bottom of the raqia dome and pushes them aside to raise up dry land – and again He names the two things, the water and the land, establishing His authority over them.

In one way it’s a typical ancient near eastern creation story, starting with the t’hom and going on to have dry land, but there’s a big difference: in the typical ANE story, the gods have to fight to defeat the great deep, exerting themselves; here, we see a battle but not a fight, or at least not the same kind of fight – YHWH-Elohim does battle by sheer creation and command and naming, not so much winning as just declaring His supremacy.

Most translations have some bias, and their word choices always have bias, which means that using a concordance for your theology us a good way to get led down one path or another by default.

“Moral law” is a human invention; the Torah knows no divisions between moral, religious, or secular, there is just Torah. And in context, the Ten Words are a covenant code, the basic provisions for how to remain faithful to the covenant. So in context, Tim is probably right, though he’s also perhaps wrong (I’d have to review the video) because the 603 are applications of the Ten.

This needs the qualifier “within the covenant context”. They’re neither exhaustive nor universal but are given for the situation of tribal people under a society founded on a specific covenant.

That said, the Ten Words are pretty darned comprehensive, covering about all the possible legal ground no matter what your system happens to be.

1 Like

I regularly find it amazing how much of the ancient near eastern worldview can be found in the early Greeks due to the two being treated as totally separate and independent cultures in history classes – despite being right next door to each other and Greeks establishing colonies on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean. But this overlap is why despite the Hellenization of the entire ancient world known to the Hebrews that ancient near eastern worldview subsists right up to the time of Christ: the Hebrews saw the overlap and interpreted what didn’t overlap to fit their existing worldview.

1 Like

I think All the laws in the OT are basically application of the love commandment which is the greatest commandment in the Bible.

1 Like

A concordance is just an index of the English words used in a particular translation so isn’t really “scholarly approved.” Which, of the many possible, English translations do you use? Your theology is being guided by a human, fallible translation if I understand you correctly.

When God sends someone a vision we are told that.

And while that is fun speculation, it’s still speculation and we should be very careful not to try to fit literature from a very, very different society with its own quite alien worldview into terms of our own worldview(s).

Exactly. It is impossible to have a translation that isn’t biased in some way just by the word choices made, so any concordance based on a translation will lead a person astray.

If using a concordance based on the original languages personal bias comes into play: most people think they can just pick one of the words used to translate the original word, and that is an open door to make verses read the way you want. But that’s not how translation works; you have to take all the offered translations and understand the concept they all belong to in the original word. A great example of this happened here recently: someone took the word for “generations” (תּוֹלְדָה), found one place where it was translated as “births” and stuck that word into the passage about "the ‘generations’ of Adam as though he somehow had two births. But that passage where it is rendered as “births” is an outlier – it’s a weak translation not because of a bad word choice by translators but because there are no good word choices in English! It should really be translated “generations” there as well, with a footnote to explain how that applies – and it would be a great example of how Hebrew and English have very different concepts about things . . . a lesson that is hard to get across to people who insist on treating other languages as “English in disguise” and translation as looking up words in a lexicon.

Then how the writer of the book of Genesis wrote as the third person as if he was watching the creation unfolding right before his very eyes.

While I agree that we have to be very careful to fit the story of Genesis to our present understanding of the cosmos, it does not mean that we can not try to see if the story fit even with our modern understanding of science. Will not that even more amazing?

I believe Gen 1:2 points to a time before the earth was a water world about 4.5 billion years ago. The deep is the magma core and mantle and as the earth cooled the surface solidified and shrouded the light from within and the surface then became dark (besides light from sun) and void, similar to how the moon looks now.

Then God hovered over the deep and faced down the darkness. This was when Theia impacts Earth and forms the moon.

Day 1 then begins about 4.4 billion years ago, with God saying let light be!

It is then after this that late heavy bombardment turns earth into a water world about 4.1 to 3.8 billion years ago. Day 2 begins when God starts forming the earths crust (firmament). Here is an interesting article on the late heavy bombardment:

He didn’t – that’s a misperception based on assuming that the kind of literature you think you are reading in English is what it really is rather than stopping to ask what kind of literature it really is – what the author meant it to be.

In actuality the author was brilliant because he told three stories at once – a ‘royal chronicle’, a temple inauguration, and a polemic that could be summed up as telling the Egyptians “all your gods are belong to YHWH!”

Why Egyptian? Because that first Creation account pretty much lifted the Egyptian creation story but changed it: it starts with the same “great deep” of water and darkness and systematically demotes every major Egyptian deity to the status of created things – my favorite part being the sun and the moon; the writer doesn’t even name them, just describes their functions. It was a serious body-slam to Egyptian mythology/theology.

Why would he do that? It fits the time of Moses perfectly; the Hebrews had been living among the Egyptians and would have known the Egyptian variations of the creation story, and the writer was in essence communicating that the Egyptian gods weren’t – weren’t in charge of anything, that is, weren’t even close to being on the same level as YHWH-Elohim because He made them – a way of saying, in case you misunderstood, here’s the deal, here’s how it really is.

At the same time it’s a temple inauguration. I’ll just touch on two details from that: First, the last thing installed in an ancient near eastern temple was the image of the deity, which was there to remind everyone of what that deity was like, to represent the deity to everyone – so when YHWH-Elohim made us in His image, that tells us who we are and what we are to be doing, namely we are His representatives to show everyone what He is like, where “everyone” includes all living things . . . we are meant to treat them the way God would. Second, the last thing to make a temple actually a temple was that the deity whose temple it was would come “take up his/her rest” in the temple, bestowing thereby divine approval and blessing and watching it all work properly, i.e. be “good”.

Last is the ‘royal chronicle’ (I put the semi-quotes because that’s the name I learned for it but scholarship seems to have renamed it to something else). A royal chronicle tells of a mighty accomplishment of a great king, generally conquest of enemies and/or establishing his kingdom, and from that perspective Genesis 1 reads like a battle report.

The ancient Hebrews would have recognized all of these and understood that Yahweh is King of all, that this world was made as His temple, that we are His representatives, and last that the gods of Egypt were created.

The “fit” with science that I find amazing comes from back before Charlemagne when astronomy was the foremost science and it consisted of watching the sky with the human eyeball and some charts, as well as showing up again a bit before Galileo made his first telescope. Some solid Hebrew scholars who grew up with the language concluded from the opening of Genesis that the universe started out “smaller than a grain of mustard” (idiom for “the smallest thing possible”), that it was filled with fluid (i.e. “waters”), that it expanded rapidly beyond comprehension and that as it did the fluid got thinner and thinner until light could shine, at which point God ordered light into existence; that the universe is unimaginably old and the Earth itself is old beyond counting.

It is mind-boggling that this explanation came from the text and did so more than a millennium before a Jesuit priest published his findings and his conclusion got called “the Big Bang”.

= - = + = - = = - = + = - =

BTW don’t ask me to explain it; the only part I grasp from the Hebrew is why they considered the Earth truly ancient and the universe older still: since God was the only one present to measure anything, they concluded that the "days’ had to be divine days and thus incredibly long.

1 Like

Once again, this is sheer science fiction with no basis in the text. It is not interpretation because it relies on changing the meanings of words. Given the kinds of literature the opening Creation account is, this is actually a denial of what the text says.

I believe my interpretation works within the meaning of the words and lines up with science. There is no need to rehash our previous discussion here, but for the benefit of @Miekhie and anyone else that missed it here is the link:

Are you saying that the God of the OT was not able to give vision to Moses (or the writer of the Genesis) and Moses needed to copy the eqyptian creation story (which was quite different actually with all the allegory & mystical stuff)? Of all the writers of the Bible, Moses was the one who did spent a lot of time at mount Sinai and I am sure that he was privy to many secrets of the cosmos. Instead of just writing that off hand, we could just take Genesis 1:1-11 literally as the sequences of creation witnessed by the writer (or revealed to the writer) who was probably Moses. I know some physicists who interpreted Gen 1:1-11 just like that, and I don’t see anything wrong with that especially if we can explain how that sequences fit with our modern understanding of science.

I believe that when God gives someone a vision it is not like a movie playing in their mind showing them things the y are not even going to understand, but rather draws up their experiences and impresses upon them. Even our dreams will draw upon experiences. So Moses is going to think of things based on his own world view, what he sees in nature, what he has learned including Egyptian mythology when God impresses upon or inspires him to write Genesis. As an example, with the creation of Adam, God has him think of the smallest thing possible and Moses thinks of dust and then writes that down. God really meant microorganisms but dust works. He knew that we would understand it someday.