The First Day of Creation (1:2)
“Now the earth was astonishingly empty, and darkness was on the face of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the water.”
Now the Earth was etc: The text tells us that the Creation started with the creation of the Earth. “Earth” here is an all-inclusive term meaning the entire creation (of the world, and not dry earth alone). Only on the second day did God divide the Heavens from the Earth. (And the fact that it mentions In the beginning God created the heavens, does not mean to say that the creation of Heaven preceded the creation of Earth, but rather that it was completed earlier, since the work of the creation of the Heavens was completed on the Second Day, whereas the work of creating the Earth was completed on the Third Day.] Thus it says (Chapter 2:4) “on the day that the Lord God made Earth and Heaven”—indicating that the creation of the Earth was first.
Astonishingly empty: emptiness [Rashi explains “astonishingly” as bewilderment and desolation – a situation in which a person is bewildered at the degree of desolation present there; “empty” implies puzzling over “what is in it?] and darkness was on the face of the [waters of the] deep, because the waters encompassed the entire world, and Light had not yet been created.
And the spirit of God was hovering: And a “wind” from before God was “hovering over the water” – the wind [air] was hovering over the water.
And the verse further informs us that the beginning of the Divine Creation appeared as a concealed thing that was not at all comprehensible, in which there was no order, but rather appeared as astonishingly empty and dark, and that the Godly intent that is hinted at in the phrase spirit of God was hovering – that is, transcendent and concealed. Only afterwards, And God said, “Let there be light” – in order to perceive the essence and reason for everything, and there was light.
And this is a great ethical principle that we should be aware of, that the beginning of every issue, whether in world events or in human endeavors, at first appears confused, unorganized and not understood, as it says in the Talmud (Shabbat 77): “Like the Creation of the world: at first darkness, and then light”. Because the Godly intent is not at all clear at first – and only after man’s toil does it become apparent that there is a “Godly light” in the matter.
By Rabbi Moshe Weiner, on “Biur Torat Moshe”.
(Explanations of Moses Torah for Noahides – first part available soon)