April 18, 2024

Read the table from right to left starting at verse 2 and see if you recognize any words, fixes, or structural concepts from the previous verse. Do you remember their significance or what they mean? 

  1. והארץ is pronounced “WaHaErets” a three-part phrase; ו+ה+ארץ, and the Earth.
  2. היתה, pronounced “Hiyeetah”or “Hi-tah”. It is a three-part phrase; הי+ת+ה, her existence.
    • The ת suffix makes the th/t sound. It acts in the same way as the (י) suffix in that it makes things plural and is indicative of a construct (a set of words that belong together such as “king of Sodom” or “writings of the ancients”). It does this particularly for feminine words, whereas the (י) does the same function for masculine words. More literally it is the ‘existings’ referring to those things that exist.
    • The second suffix here is ה meaning her or she and makes the “uh” or short u sound at the end of a word. In this case, “her existence” are those things that existed that were of the Earth.
  1. תהו, pronounced “Tahu”, meaning a waste. It could also be ת+הו, meaning “she did sigh/disaster”.
  2. ובהו is pronounced “WaBahu”. It is a three-part phrase; ו+ב+הו, and in
  3. וחשך is pronounced “WaChashak”. It’s made of two parts; ו+חשך, and
  4. על is pronounced “Ŏl”. It is a root indicating elevation, something going upward or that is upward. Here it simply means upon.
  5. פני, pronounced “Pani”. It’s a two-part phrase; פנ+י, “face of”.
    • The suffix י (ee or ie) can have one of many implications on a Hebrew phrase.
      • As is the case here, it can indicate a construct. i.e. ‘Something of something else’.
      • It also makes some nouns and titles plural. So, this exact same spelling, ‘פני’, can mean faces in some cases.
    • The י suffix can also mean ‘my’, of me, or ‘me’. So, other possible translations could be, my face, my faces, or turn me or my turn because פנ also means to turn in its verb form.
    • We must look at the context of the text to determine which use is intended. We’ll discuss this more as it comes up in scripture.
  1. תהום is pronounced “Tahowm”, a Hebrew word meaning sea. It could also be translated ת+הום, she will roar or ת+הו+ם, she will destroy them. These alternate translations give us the purpose or character (i.e. the name) of what we now call a “sea”, something that roars and destroys.
  2. ורוח pronounced ‘WaRuach’ is a two-part phrase, ו+רוח, and wind. The base of this phrase, רוח, is usually called a spirit.
  3. אלהים – This time elahim can and is likely an adjective modifying the wind. It’s usually understood that this is the “spirit of God”; however, based on the context, it’s more likely a powerful wind that fluttered across the waters. The position of the term, elahim, tells us that it is most likely an adjective that modifies ruach, wind. Correctly translated it reads “And the wind, powerful ones, fluttered…” This is the standard structure for sentences containing adjectives.


In English, a modifier/adjective comes in front of the thing it modifies. i.e. “The great days”; however, in Hebrew modifiers, including adjectives come after the thing they modify. Therefore, it would be  “The day, great ones” in Hebrew.

Here, the powerful ones is a modifier or adjective of the wind. Thus, “the powerful winds” in English is written in Hebrew as “the winds, powerful ones”.

  1. מרחפת is pronounced “MaRakefet”. It is made of three parts; מ+רחפ+ת, from flutters or fluttering from
  • The prefix מ always means ‘from’ but can be understood as “of” as something that is from something else is of that thing; i.e. Caleb from the tribe of Judah is of the tribe of Judah.
  • It may also be understood as from, as in as opposed to or rather than; i.e. “To the one who caused the head of nations, great ones and mighty ones than from you…”[1]
  1. על is ‘upon’.
  2. פני is the ‘face of’.
  3. המים is pronounced “HaMayeem”. It is a three-part phrase; ה+מ+ים, the waters.
    • Since chemically and scientifically speaking, you can’t really have “a water”(ממ), it is always plural. Thus, the word for water can be simply understood to be מים, pronounced “Mayeem”rather than “Mem”(ממ).

[1] Deuteronomy 4:38

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