‘and a wind from god swept over the face of the waters’

A commentary

January 16th 2016
It is said in the Book of Genesis: ‘In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.’ What do these first lines of the book of Genesis mean? As indicated by the words ‘formless’, ‘void’, ‘darkness’ and ‘deep’, before creation, the universe was an unorganized and dark space. But the spirit of God moved above this chaos. Water represents the original cosmic matter which the spirit of God, the primordial fire, penetrated in order to impregnate it. Contrary to popular belief, earth is not the element that best expresses the properties and qualities of matter. It is water, whose qualities are receptivity, adaptability and malleability. Water thus symbolizes the raw material which received the fertilizing seeds of the spirit. By fertilizing matter, the spirit works on it, and as it does so, new creations appear and it discovers its powers, and gets to know itself. So if you ask me why God created the universe, I will say... to know himself. The Cabbalah teaches that God wanted to know himself through his reflection, and this idea is represented precisely as a stretch of water which reflects his face.