of Creation: Preliminary Darkness
1:2. The Preliminary
Condition of the Earth When First God Created It.
over the surface of the deep”
Darkness (choshek) is the absence of light.
Those who espouse the Gap Theory or some variation thereof
seize upon darkness as proof of something evil and sinful that must
have happened after Genesis 1:1 to corrupt the earth (see,
for example, Ross, p. 28). 1 John 1:5 states that “God is Light,
and in Him there is no darkness at all.” But to import a later concept
of darkness into the second verse in the Bible constitutes a deficient hermeneutic. An appropriate response
to the notion that darkness symbolizes evil is, as Constable ("Arguments and Responses,
Point #4) has stated, “This is true in some cases in
Scripture, but not always (Psa. 104:19-24).
evening was part of the days God declared good.” The truth of the
matter is that the word darkness (choshek) is used only four times
in Genesis, and only in chapter 1 (Gen.
1:2, 4, 5, 18).
There is no trace of moral evil in any one of these uses. The light
that God created (in Gen. 1:3-4) and separated from the
darkness was good (tob).
But the darkness was never called evil. Rather, God named it. He called
the light "Day" and the darkness "Night." Together, the evening and the
morning comprised “Day One” (Gen. 1:5).
Later, God would create two great lights, one to govern the day, and
the second to govern the night. These along with the stars, would “give
light on the earth,” govern the day and the night,” and “separate the
light from the darkness” (Gen. 1:16-18).
Far from being evil, this darkness, balanced by light, became part of
that which God saw was good (Gen. 1:18)!
So much for darkness being evil in Gen. 1! So the earth that God
created on Day One existed in a state of darkness. That darkness was
not evil. Nor yet could it be labeled good. Rather it was a
characteristic that, on Day One, contributed toward the earth’s being tohu, unsuitable for human,
animal, or even plant habitation. Darkness would be the first
unsuitable characteristic that God would rectify. He would do so, not
by eliminating it, but by adding light. Ultimately light-bearers (sun,
moon and stars) would balance off that characteristic of darkness which
makes it unsuitable for viewing anything, but which makes it a
wonderful condition in which animals and man could refresh themselves
in rest. The data in the text, not some imported theory, must drive exegesis.
was over the surface of the deep” – On Day One of creation, it was
said that “darkness was over the surface of the deep” (Gen. 1:2).
The word surface translates the Hebrew word for faces (panim, plural of paneh).
“Surface” is an acceptable translation, even though panim occurs in the plural. It
is worth noting that paneh always appears in the
plural (panim) in the OT, even when one
person’s face is in view (see Gen.
4:5, 6, where panim is translated as a
reference to Cain’s countenance). It is equally true that the clause
could be accurately translated, "and darkness was over the surfaces of the deep" (emphasis
The word deep (tehom) refers to the waters
which evidently covered the entire surface of the earth when first God
created it. Unfortunately, some conservative commentators give the word
deep (tehom) a sinister connotation in
this passage. For example, Constable
states, “In the Old Testament tehom refers to the ocean, which
the ancient world regarded as symbolic of chaos and evil that needed
overcoming and which Yahweh overcame.” Fortunately, Constable
himself from that interpretation of tehom in Genesis 1:2. That
sinister interpretation is certainly an
inaccurate characterization of tehom in the book of Genesis,
it is driven, I believe, by the misguided Chaos
Theory of Interpretation of Genesis 1:2.
four uses of tehom in the book of Genesis:
7:11; 8:2; 49:25.
In Genesis 1:2 there is no inherent evil
whatever associated with “the deep.” Quite to the contrary, in fact,
“the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” In Genesis 7:11, “the fountains of the
great deep burst open,” not because tehom was evil, but because the
people of the world were evil, and God was compelled to destroy all but
eight of them. Here tehom is an instrument of God
for judgment. The same can be said for Genesis 8:2, where “the fountains of
the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed…” The fact that God
had used tehom to judge evil people does
not make tehom, in and of itself, evil.
49:25, the last
occurrence in Genesis, “the deep” is part of a blessing from God
bestowed by Jacob upon his son Joseph: “…blessings of heaven above,
blessings of the deep that lies beneath.” We conclude that in Genesis tehom is morally neutral, and
God uses tehom for judgment and for
What was the makeup of tehom, the deep? The text does
not tell us. We know that tehom consists of water. We are
told that in Genesis
1:2. On the
third day, God commanded the waters to be gathered together into one
place, and for the dry land to appear (Gen. 1:9).
Was that which became “dry land” a solid land mass underneath the
surface of the water prior to that? Or were water and soil all mixed
together? We cannot know for certain, for this text does not say. All
we can know from this text is that prior to Genesis 1:9, there was soil underneath
that was not dry, and there was water on the surface. I believe it is
safe to say that tehom, the deep, as it existed
by the end of the third day of creation (Gen. 1:9-13),
was significantly different from what it is today. Prior to the Flood
of Noah’s day, an enormous portion of tehom existed beneath the
surface of the earth, and possibly under great pressure. In Genesis 7:11 “the fountains of the
great deep (tehom) burst open”;
simultaneously, “the floodgates of the sky were opened.” It may well be
that the greater
contributors to the Flood that
engulfed the entire globe were “the
fountains of the great deep.” Once the “fountains of the deep and the
floodgates of the sky were closed” (Gen. 8:2) after a period of 150
the water began to recede from the earth (Gen. 8:3).
Over the next 221 days God apparently used the same process for
uplifting the land masses from the ocean that He had done in one day at
104:6-9 cf. Gen. 1:9-10).
there is no reason to suppose that God did not use the
same process to uplift the land masses to end Noah’s Flood that He had
used to form dry land at Creation,
only at a much slower rate in order
to protect the inhabitants of the ark. God raised the land masses and
mountains upward, and He sank the ocean floors and valleys downward.
After Noah’s Flood,
“the fountains of the deep” no longer held the
enormous volume of water that they once had. That volume had been
largely emptied into the global sea of today’s Earth. Today we have
aquifers underneath the surface of the earth, but they evidently
contain only a fraction of the volume of water that they once did prior
to Noah’s Flood.
Massive caves such as the Carlsbad Caverns and Mammoth Cave give fragmentary, but
powerful testimony to possible former reservoirs of tehom. Today, of course, the
great bulk of tehom resides in the ocean
depths. Today, water covers seventy per cent of the earth’s surface. Tehom continues to provide a
massive influence upon life and climate upon earth.