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Some Questions on Gen. 1

Discussion in 'Judaism DIR' started by Tumah, Nov 29, 2016.

  1. Tumah

    Tumah Veteran Member

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    I thought it would be interesting to show how some commentators approach studying Tanach.
    The following is a list of questions on the first chapters asked by three Jewish commentators (the Abarbanel, the Malbi"m and the Gr"a.) edited out for duplicates and other sundry reasons. I chose these three, because they happen to start their commentary by asking a number of questions and then go on to answer them over the chapter.

    1. Why is the first word, "In the beginning of" and not, "in the beginning" or "at the start"?
    2. What's the point of first stating that G-d created the heavens and the earth and then itemizing all the things that were created?
    3. Psa. 33:6 indicates that the heavens and earth were created with G-d's word, where is the "And G-d said let there be heavens and earth"?
    4. Why doesn't the verse start "G-d created at the beginning" to reinforce the concept of G-d doing the creation and not the creation appearing on its own?
    5. Why are the creation of the angels of G-d never mentioned?
    6. Why does the chapter keep switching between, "created", "formed" and "made"?
    7. Why is the Tetragrammaton never mentioned?
    8. Why does the verse here say, "the heavens and the earth" instead of the way it chose at the end of 2:4 without the two "the"?
    9. Why is the nature of the earth (v2) mentioned before the actual creation of the earth (v9)?
    10. Similarly the creation of wind/spirit, water, tohu and bohu are never mentioned.
    11. Why is the earth called "AReTZ" in verses 1 and 2 but "EReTZ" in verse 10?
    12. Why does it say that the heavens were created on the first day, but the firmament was created on the second day?
    13. Similarly, why does G-d call the firmament "heavens" when the heavens had already been created on the first day?
    14. Why does it never say, "and G-d made the light" like it does by the other creations?
    15. Why only by light does it say, "and G-d saw the light, that it was good" while other days it simply says, "and G-d saw that it was good"?
    16. Why does the verse choose to say, "and it was evening and it was morning" instead of "and it was night and it was day" or something more general?
    17. Why does it say that "light" was called "day"? You can get light even during the night.
    18. Why does the verse indicate that the separation of light and dark was a result of G-d seeing that the light was good?
    19. What does it mean to "separate" between light and darkness anyway - its not like they can be mixed together?
    20. Why does the first day end with "one day" instead of sequential counting, "the first day" as the rest of them do?
    21. Why does verse 6 says, "between water to the water", yet verse 7 says, "between the water... and between the water?
    22. Why doesn't it say, "And G-d saw that it was good" on the second day?
    23. Why does it only say, "Let there be" by the light, the firmament and the luminaries?
    24. Why does G-d call the light, "day", the firmament "heavens", and the dry land "earth"?
    25. What's the purpose of stating, "it was so" anyway?
    26. Why does it say by vegetation "that seeds forth seeds" but by trees it says, "that its seeds are in it"?
    27. Why doesn't it say, "to its kind" in the command verse by vegetation as it does by trees, but by the actual creation it says it by both?
    28. Why does it say in the command verse "a fruit tree that makes fruit" but in the creation verse "a tree making fruit"?
    29. When it says "a fruit tree" why does it need to add "that makes fruit"?
    30. If verse 11 says "and it was so", what's the point of verse 12? The same for verses 24 and 25.
    31. Why is the creation of the luminaries sandwiched between the creation of the vegetation and the creatures?
    32. Why is the moon called a "great luminary" when the stars are much bigger than it?
    33. What does the phrase "in the firmament of the heavens" mean?
    34. Why does verses 17-18 not include "for signs and season and days and years" as it says in verse 15?
    35. Why does verse 15 have to tell us that "they should be for luminaries in the firmament of the heaven" when verse 14 already said, "there should be luminaries in the firmament of the heaven"?
    36. If it already repeated twice that the luminaries would be in the firmament of the heavens and there was a "and it was so", what's the point of repeating a third time, "and G-d put them in the firmament of the heavens"?
    37. Why does the verse only single out "stars" out of all the luminaries?
    38. Why by the command does it say, "to separate between the day and between the night" but by the creation it says, "to separate between the light and between the dark"?
    39. If light was created on the first day, what are the luminaries doing here on day 4?
    40. Why does the verse first mention the "two great luminaries" and then call them "the great luminary and the small luminary"?
    41. Why does verse 20 says, "the water should swarm forth with swarming living creatures", but by the animals it says, "the earth should bring forth living creatures."
    42. What's with the phraseology in "all the living creatures that creep that were swarmed forth [by the] water"?
    43. Why does it never say, "and it was so" after any of the creations of the fifth day?
    44. What's with the extra word "saying" in the verse "And G-d blessed them saying, 'be fruitful and multiply'"?
    45. And why by man does it say, "and G-d blessed them and G-d said to them" as opposed to the format above?
    46. Why are the animals of the sea blessed but not the animals of the land?
    47. Why is the blessing to be fruitful written in the imperative form?
    48. What's with the phrase "let us make man"?
    49. Why does verse 26 say man will have dominion over animals of the land but that's not mentioned in the blessing of verse 28?
    50. Why does verse 27 have to repeat, "and G-d created man in His shadow" and "in the shadow of G-d He created him"?
    51. Why does verse 27 switch from "him" to "them".
    52. Verse 29 starts off with "And G-d said" and ends with "and it was so" as all the other creationary verses do, but no new creation was indicated in that verse.
    53. What's with the phrase, "greens vegetation" in verse 30 (both of which essentially mean the same thing)?
    54. Why does it keep mentioning "vegetation that seeds" but never says "greens that seed"?
    55. Why does it never say "and G-d saw that it was good" by man, but instead says the more general "and G-d saw everything that He did and behold it was very good"?
     
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  2. Kirran

    Kirran
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    Taking @Revoltingest's thing

    ===Non-Moderator Notice===

    This is the Judaism DIR. Only people self-identifying as Jewish can post here, with the exception of respectful questions ONLY from non-Jews.

    If you want to discuss this topic among people of a variety of faiths, feel free to start your own thread in another area of the forums.
     
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  3. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    *** Official Moderator Notice ***
    :D

    Yup. Rule 10 is a thing, folks. What Kirran said. We cleaned up some stuff in this thread in the meantime; let's not see more mess after this post, eh?
     
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  4. Akivah

    Akivah Well-Known Member

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    I like this post. I gives an inkling as to how our scholars study the bible. A change of a single word can make a huge difference.

    My rabbis taught me that the first word is "A beginning".

    What is tohu and bohu in #10?
     
  5. Tumah

    Tumah Veteran Member

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    There are a few translation given. Onkelos translates them both as synonyms for empty. Rashi says tohu is derived from a word meaning astounding and bohu as empty. Ibn Ezra cites Deut. 32:10, "and in a desolate (tohu) howling wasteland" to mean desolate.

    The Talmud brings Isa. 34:11, "And He stretched over it a line of tohu and stones of bohu" to indicate they are nouns rather then adjectives.
    Nachmanides and many other commentaries translate tohu as hyle and bohu as form (see here for more info) and explain that Talmudic passage accordingly.

    I'm not sure which of the three mentioned this question, so I have to check to see how they explain it.
     
  6. Koldo

    Koldo Incredible Member

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    Is 'overthinking' taken into consideration when studying the text ?
     
  7. Tumah

    Tumah Veteran Member

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    We see it as a Divine text. Its meant to teach you things. If you can demonstrate an anomaly, then its a valid question.
     
  8. Koldo

    Koldo Incredible Member

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    Considering the degree of detail that some of your questions involve I wonder if you consider, in given cases, the alternative that perhaps there is no real reason for a particular sentence structure or word being chosen other than the author's preference as the way to express himself, i.e. there is no hidden meaning behind it.
     
  9. Tumah

    Tumah Veteran Member

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    One of the three rabbis mentioned here, has a list of a few hundred rules of grammatical structure in the Torah, through which he demonstrates (among other things) that certain sentence structures or words are only used in specific cases. Then he shows how the Talmud based Scripturally derived teachings off anomalies to these rules.

    We believe that G-d dictated the Torah to Moses. G-d doesn't have a personality with which to prefer expression. The book is called "teaching" not "history". Our entire concept of what the Torah is, its source and what its made up of, is completely different than what Christians see it as.
     
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  10. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    As a dissenter from traditional orthodoxy (maybe the understatement of the century thus far), let me just say that there's evidence that Torah was not from a single source, nor does it appear that all the books and segments of books were written in the same time period. Because of the language used, a great many scholars believe that a Moses-figure did not likely write any of the texts, but it certainly it is hypothetically possible that oral traditions based from him and some others may well have advanced forward and inspired others in later generations to write down what they heard or read from other sources.

    A large part of this concept comes from the study of glottochronology, namely the study of how languages evolve. Along with that there are references in Torah sometimes seem to match later time periods than those supposedly covered in the text (the Jewish Study Bible by JPS does what I believe is an excellent job, imo, at pointing out at least some of these discrepancies).

    So, the bottom line to me is that we really should look at these texts as being pretty difficult to dissect, which is not to say we shouldn't try. Hey, where would be as Jews if we didn't have something to argue about?

    Shabbat shalom
     
  11. Akivah

    Akivah Well-Known Member

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    The Torah is G-d's direct dictation to Moses. Since it comes straight from G-d, we believe that it is layered with meaning. And since it is Eternal, the Torah never stops being relevant. Most Jews consider it very important to understand G-d's teachings to us and have put a lot of effort into it over the past several thousand years. And most Jews continue to do so.
     
    #11 Akivah, Dec 2, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2016
  12. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    You should be careful with the word "we" since this is not an orthodox forum. "We" are not all on the same page with this.
     
  13. Akivah

    Akivah Well-Known Member

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    Fixed
     
  14. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    Better, but then I could throw in the caveat that "most Jews" are not orthodox-- but I won't do that.:rolleyes:

    Shabbat shalom :)
     
  15. Koldo

    Koldo Incredible Member

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    How does the end of this sentence follow logically from its start ?
     
  16. Akivah

    Akivah Well-Known Member

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    I was going to say "Most educated Jews", but I didn't do that either.

    Shabbat Shalom
     
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  17. Koldo

    Koldo Incredible Member

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    How did you reach this conclusion ?

    Can you elaborate on this ?
     
  18. Akivah

    Akivah Well-Known Member

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    Akivah said:
    Since it comes straight from G-d, we believe that it is layered with meaning.

    It's logical. G-d dictated it to Moses several thousand years ago. It is the only direct written words from G-d. As G-d was transmitting it to Moses at that particular time, G-d knows everything in time including the human future. So He was also speaking to future generations with the words that He used with Moses. So it is incumbent upon us to apply G-d's words to facts and circumstances that didn't exist in Moses' time and understanding.

    For example, G-d told Moses that we are to do no work on Shabbat. Moses had no inkling of electric light switches, but G-d knows that such things will be invented in our human future. So we look at the layered meaning within G-d's words to Moses to understand whether G-d included flipping a switch as being defined as forbidden work on Shabbat.
     
  19. Tumah

    Tumah Veteran Member

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    Maybe "we" as in "those who subscribe to the commentators in the OP"?
     
  20. Tumah

    Tumah Veteran Member

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    Its the inevitable conclusion of G-d's infinite oneness.

    A little. For Orthodox Jew (as those mentioned in the OP), the Torah is not just a dictation of words from G-d to Moses, but an entity that is the physical manifestation of an aspect of the dimension we call the Will of G-d. Its more common to hear the phrase "Moses brought down the Torah" rather than "Moses transcribed the Torah" among us.
     
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