Arnold Fruchtenbaum, The Book of Genesis (2009): This commentator prefers the view, held by Pember and Schofield. In this view, Genesis 1:1 is viewed as an independent narrative sentence and not a summary of the whole chapter. Verse 1 describes the original perfect creation, which was a creation out of nothing. There are three reasons for holding this view. First, verse 1 has the form of a narrative declarative statement and not merely a superscription or a title. Second, the conjunctive vav connects verse 1 with verse 2, which cannot be if verse 1 is only a heading or a summary statement or a topical statement. Third, verse 2 speaks of the earth as already existing, which must have come into existence in verse 1. Then between verses 1 and 2 there is a gap of time. In this gap of time was the fall of Satan and other angels, resulting in the divine judgment of the earth. More will be said about this in the exposition. Then verse 2 is viewed as an independent narrative sentence containing three subordinate circumstantial clauses describing what the earth looked like some time after Genesis 1:1. Verse 2 thus describes the earth that resulted from the fall of Satan; it contains disjunctive clauses describing a state of chaos. There are two variations to this position. One variation is that Genesis 1:2 is a sequential clause after Genesis 1:1, or Genesis 1:2 is a circumstantial clause with Genesis 1:1. Finally, in this view, verse 3 is an independent narrative sentence describing the first step of the reconstruction and the reformation of a judged earth. The six days of creation actually begin with verse 3. So verses 1 and 2 are not part of the first day of creation; verse 3 describes the first day of creation.
The Chaos - 1:2
And the earth was waste and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
The Hebrew text of the second verse contains a total of fourteen words, which is two times seven. Genesis 1:2 also begins a new subject. In Hebrew, the first word is ve-ha-aretz, meaning “and the world.” In Hebrew grammar, when the subject comes before the predicate, the emphasis is on the subject, to state something new about it. In this case, the subject does come before the predicate, meaning the author wants to say something new about the subject, which is the earth. Genesis 1:2 describes the circumstances of the earth before 1:3 and is not a result of 1:1. The Masoretic Text has a notation called rebhia, indicating that this is a vav disjunctive, which could be translated by the word now to read: “Now the earth,” rather than a vav conjunctive which would read: “And the earth.” What this grammatical point shows is that verse 2 is not sequential to verse 1, and so it is not and then. It shows that verse 2 is not a result or development of verse 1, but the background to verse 3. So the disjunctive argues against the chaos being an intermediate stage in God’s work at the time of creation. The same point is made in Isaiah 45:18. The very fact that the Hebrew text in Genesis 1:2 clearly shows a vav disjunctive rather than a vav conjunctive allows for two possible interpretations. The first is the Initial Chaos View that sees verse 1 as giving the general account and summary and verse 2 as giving a description of chaos at the beginning of creation followed by verse 3 describing the beginning of the work of creation. So the original creation is not found in this account, only a re-creation. Verses 1-3 all describe the work of the first day; and therefore creation is out of something that pre-existed the act of creation described by Genesis. However, according to this view, the starting point of Genesis is not creation, but chaos. The second option is known as the Gap Theory, but it is not an ideal name because of misconceptions about what it teaches. In this view, Genesis 1:1 is the original creation in a perfect state; God created the heavens and the earth in a perfect state. Then between verses 1 and 2 there was a gap of time; and in this gap of time there was the fall of Satan, which resulted in the chaos of verse 2. The chaos of verse 2 is a result of divine judgment. In the Gap Theory, verse 3 marks the beginning of the first day of creation. Therefore, the original creation is in Genesis 1:1, followed by a gap of time in which something happened to cause the original creation to become chaotic. From parallel passages such as Ezekiel 28:11-19, that something was the fall of Satan; and when Satan fell, it caused the chaos of verse 2. Then 1:3 begins with the first day of creation. This is the correct use of the Gap Theory: to explain the chaos of verse 2. The wrong use of the Gap Theory is for “dinosaur space.” It has been a convenient place to dump in the fossil record, the geological ice ages, etc.; and those who have held it for “dinosaur space” have been forced to make it millions, if not billions, of years long. This only results in conforming biblical interpretation to scientific theories, which is never, ever necessary. The Bible clearly teaches that physical death originates with the fall of Adam, so there was no physical death of any kind before the fall of Adam. The gap is there only for the fall of Satan and to explain the chaos of 1:2, but it need not be a very long time at all. It is not known how long it was, but it need not be millions and billions of years.
The first phrase in 1:2 is: And the earth was waste and void, showing the earth now becomes the focus. The earth and not the universe is the focus of the remainder of the chapter. The word was in Hebrew is hayetah, which is the feminine form for the word hayah. The normal primary meaning of the word hayah or hayetah is “was.” However, it also has the secondary meaning of “became.” Those who oppose a gap between 1:1 and 1:2 claim that for the word hayah to mean “became” rather than “was” would require the addition of a lamed prefix on the next word to read hayah le____ or hayetah le____. Generally speaking, that is correct, but it is not always true. Even within Genesis, where the word hayah or hayetah clearly means “became,” it is not followed by the lamed prefix. Examples include: Genesis 3:20, Eve became (hayetah) the mother of all living; Genesis 3:22, man has become as one of us; Genesis 21:20, Ishmael became an archer; Genesis 37:20, what would become of Joseph’s dream. So, even within Genesis the word clearly has the meaning of “become” without the lamed prefix; and the same could be true of Genesis 1:2; and the way to translate it is: and the earth became. This harmonizes well with Isaiah 45:18 (quoted below), which clearly states God did not create the earth in the form described by Genesis 1:2.
For thus says Jehovah that created the heavens, the God that formed the earth and made it, that established it and created it not a waste, that formed it to be inhabited: I am Jehovah; and there is none else.
That would mean that whatever happened here in Genesis 1:2 is something that became; it was not originally that way; it became that way. The next phrase in 1:2 is: waste and void. In Hebrew, these are two words, tohu and vohu, connected by a vav conjunctive. These two words used together like this are found twice elsewhere, and in both other places they clearly mean divine judgment. The first place is Isaiah 34:11, which is translated as confusion and emptiness. The second place is Jeremiah 4:23, where they are translated as waste and void, and this usage is used as an antithesis to the Genesis creation account. In the other two places where the two words are used together they clearly describe divine judgment. There is no reason to make Genesis 1:2 the exception to the rule. The second word, vohu, is never used alone and only appears in these three passages: Genesis 1:2, Isaiah 34:11, and Jeremiah 4:23. But the first word, tohu, is found by itself a total of twenty times in the Old Testament: Deuteronomy 32:10, where it is translated as wasteland; I Samuel 12:21 (twice), as vain; Job 6:18, as perish; Job 12:24, as wilderness; Job 26:7, as empty space; Psalm 107:40, as waste; and Jeremiah 4:23, as waste. All the other references are in the Book of Isaiah: 24:10, waste; 29:21, a thing of nought; 34:11, confusion, emptiness; 40:17, nothing; 40:23, nothing; 41:29, confusion; 44:9, vanity or confusion; 45:18 waste; 45:19, vain; 49:4, vain; 59:4, and vanity. Every usage of this term is negative. It is never used in a neutral way, let alone as a positive. While not every passage has divine judgment, some passages do. So by itself, vohu could refer to divine judgment or not, but it is always negative, which argues against its being a neutral term in Genesis 1:2. However, when used together, tohu and vohu do refer to divine judgment. So tohu and vohu, waste and void, or desolate and waste, carry the sense of chaos and desolation. Genesis 1:1-2 contains what is called syntagmes, which refers to words that occur together to denote one unique concept. The phrase in verse 1 heavens and earth emphasizes the totality of an ordered universe; and waste and void in verse 2, the totality of judgment and chaos. This means that the orderly universe and the orderly chaos cannot apply to the same thing at the same time, and so the events of verses 1 and 2 cannot be contemporary, but chronological, one following the other. Verse 2, then, describes the chaos of unformed matter. It is undifferentiated, unorganized, confused, and lifeless. The earth became formless and empty. The next phrase in 1:2 is: and darkness was upon the face of the deep. There are two key elements here: the darkness and the deep. The darkness represents evil and death and is not conducive to life. Like tohu and vohu, darkness was a symbol of divine judgment throughout the Old Testament: Exodus 10:15, the plague of locust darkened the land of Egypt; Exodus 10:21-23, the plague of darkness; I Samuel 2:9, God assigned the wicked into the silence of darkness; Job 3:4, 5, the darkness of death; Psalm 35:6, God will pursue the sinner into darkness; Psalm 105:28, the plague of darkness; Isaiah 8:22, the sinful kingdom will be driven into darkness; Isaiah 13:10, in the Tribulation the sun will be darkened; Isaiah 45:7, God creates darkness and calamity; and Joel 2:2, the Day of Jehovah is a day of darkness. Therefore, throughout the Old Testament, darkness is associated with divine judgment, which again indicates that Genesis 1:2 describes divine judgment. In the New Testament, darkness is also associated with Satan and his demons (Eph. 6:12). The next word in 1:2, the deep, is the Hebrew word tehom. The basic meaning of the Hebrew word is the “salty deep,” the primeval world ocean, or the “abyss.” The primeval world ocean is mentioned in three other places: Psalm 104:6, God covered the earth with the deep like a garment; Proverbs 8:24, God’s wisdom existed before there were any depths; and Isaiah 51:10, the waters of the great deep. In Genesis, the primeval world ocean or deep is without personality and without autonomy. This is in contradiction with the contemporary pagan literature of the time where the deep is associated with the dragon. In pagan theology, the deep was somehow active in creation as is Tiamat of the Babylonian mythology. In the Bible, the deep is also associated with the dragon, but it does not carry the concept of an active, creating agent. Throughout the Scriptures, in connection with the deep and with creation, there is the mention of the dragon, the serpent, the Leviathan, and Rahab; but they only serve as borrowed imagery, not as active creative agents. This motif is found in Job 3:8, the Leviathan; 26:12, 13, Rahab and the serpent; 41:1-34, the Leviathan; Psalm 74:13-17, the serpent and the Leviathan; 89:10, Rahab; 104:25, 26, the Leviathan; Isaiah 27:1, the Leviathan and the serpent; Isaiah 30:7, Rahab; and Isaiah 51:9-10, Rahab and the serpent. The biblical usage of this dragon motif and this watery motif has a past, present, and future focus.
The past: Describes God’s creative work in the prehistoric past (Gen. 1:2).
The present: Deals with God’s victory over Pharaoh and Egypt (Isa. 30:7, 51:9-10).
The future: Is used of the final victory over Satan (Isa. 27:1; Rev. 12:1-17, 20:1-3).
All this imagery again indicates that the chaos of verse 1:2 is a description of the judgment resulting from the fall of Satan. If this is connected with Ezekiel 28:11-16, it teaches that the created earth of Genesis 1:1 became the abode of Satan; and he was the guardian over the earth in its original form. Originally, the earth had no oceans and no seas. It was a beautiful mineral garden covered by the various precious stones listed in Ezekiel 28:13. They exuded light and so are also called the stones of fire in verse 14. During this time, Satan was able to walk up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. When God judged Satan, He also judged that which was under Satan’s authority, which at that time included the earth. So the original earth, which was a beautiful mineral garden with no oceans, no seas, and with precious stones called the stones of fire which were exuding light, now became formless and empty. The earth was now totally covered by salt water with the precious stones and dry land no longer visible. The stones of fire no longer exuded light. Now darkness was upon the face of the deep. That was the nature of the original earth and its destruction in Genesis 1:2. When the Book of Revelation discusses the new earth in Revelation 21:1 through 22:5, it states that the new earth, which will be the eternal abode of all believers of all time for all eternity, is going to be a return to the original condition. The new earth will have no oceans and no seas and will again be covered by these same types of precious stones mentioned in Ezekiel 28:13. In other words, the new earth, the eternal abode of the believer, will look like this earth once looked before the fall of Satan. The last phrase in 1:2 is: The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. Three key things should be noted here about each part of this phrase: the Spirit of God, moved, and upon the face of the waters. The Spirit of God. In the second verse of the Bible is the introduction of the Third Person of the Trinity. In rabbinic theology, the Spirit is the Spirit of King Messiah.11 The Hertz Siddur, the Sabbath Prayer Book, states that this is “the mysterious, unseen, irresistible of the Divine Being.” The role of the Son is given in John 1:1-3: It is by means of the Son or through the Son that all things were created. Moved. The Hebrew word for moved in 1:2 is merachephet, which means “to hover,” “to brood,” “to flutter,” or “to fly.” It is used two other times in the Hebrew Bible: Deuteronomy 32:11, where it is used as an eagle hovering over her young; and Jeremiah 23:9, where it is translated by the word “shaken,” all my bones are shaken. The concept of merachephet is a concept of caring and protecting, as a mother bird cares for and protects her eggs. The concept of “fluttering” provides substance. The concept of “hovering” is in preparation for the hatching of the eggs. Here, the Spirit, like a mother bird, is hovering over the deep, waiting for the hatching of the dry land through the deep. So, clearly, the Holy Spirit was actively involved in the work of creation. This is affirmed twice elsewhere: in Job 26:13, By his Spirit [He adorned] the heavens; and Psalm 104:30, you sent forth your Spirit, they are created; And you renew the face of the earth. So the formlessness and foreboding darkness was being kept in check by the Spirit of God. Upon the face of the waters. The Hebrew word for water in 1:2 is mayim, the life-giving water, not the chaotic abyss of the deep. The water itself is lifeless, but the Spirit of God now quickens and transforms it. The unformed, lifeless mass of watery earth was under the watchful care of the divine Spirit Who hovered over it, guaranteeing its future development. The Jerusalem Targum, an Aramaic translation, translates 1:2 as follows: The earth was vacancy and desolation. [sic] Solitary of the sons of men and void of every animal, and darkness was on the face of the abyss and the Spirit of Messiah from before the Lord brooded upon the face of the waters.