A rhythmic introduction of God as Creator
The Genesis 1:1-2:4a creation account is not just a perspective from a Hebrew scribe on how the world and humans in this world were created. It is one of the most essential parts of Christian theology; that a Creator created the heavens and the earth and everything that lives in it and on it. It is a narrative about how a Creator ordered chaos, a Creator, who created us in his own image, Imago Dei. Genesis 1:1-2:4a is about your and my identity in relation to the Creator.
1בְּרֵאשִׁ֖יתa בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃
In the beginning, Elohim created the heavens and the earth
In almost poetic fashion, the Hebrew scribe, accounts that Elohim (the Hebrew word used to refer to the Creator God) created order out of chaos and Elohim did so through the spoken word. Yes, it is true that this ‘Priestly’ account of creation compiled his narrative from Babylonian (Enu Elish), Assyrian as well as Egyptian sources. He used creation traditions from ancient near-eastern societies to compile his own version of how the Hebrew God created the world. What is unique is the fact that the Hebrew God (Elohim) created through the spoken word: Wajomer Elohim. Elohim effortlessly created chaos into order in a rhythmic and systematic manner. A second unique characteristic is that after Elohim created, He looked at his creation and He was pleased. A third characteristic was that the priestly scribe structured his account of Elohim’s creation in rhythmic days to substantiate the Sabbath as practice. Remember, the scribe is compiling this account during the 6th century BCE, while some the elite were taken into exile by the Babylonian empire. Naturally they adopted religious practices that was foreign to Israelite religion and with that failed to uphold the Sabbath. The scribe masterfully ensured that through his account on how Elohim created, the Israelites in exile would again honour the Sabbath.
Elohim created the known universe because he had the desire to create
And then a decision of the priest to write about how Elohim created beings in his own image: Read Genesis 1:26-28 in Hebrew and repeat in English. Human beings, you and me, male and female were created in the image of God. It is not important how we should understand what exactly created in the Imago Dei implies. What is important is to know that in our very being we resemble / reflect in essence Elohim as creator and with this comes responsibility for creation as a whole.
Elohim created you and me in his image, man and woman he created us
A brilliant device from the priestly scribe to substantiate and legitimize the importance of the Sabbath for the Israelites. The elite who was taken into exile were not only reminder of the fact that the Hebrew God is the Creator, but with creation comes a certain daily rhythm and structure… And Elohim rested on the 7th day. This had to make them reconsider not to neglect honouring the Sabbath, even though they are miles away from Jerusalem and the temple.
In Genesis 1:1:2-4a we are introduced to God who created the known universe because he wanted to. He created you and me in his image so that we can take care of his creation. God rested after he created and we should too, because we will need it. It is indeed a massive responsibility to be stewards of God’s creation and while being stewards reflect something of God as the creator.