Word for Word: Episode 10

וְחֹ֖שֶׁךְ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י תְהֹ֑ום
And darkness on the face of the deep
Before there was light, there was darkness, חֹ֖שֶׁךְ, all across the universe. The consolidation of the particles into one place was a noisy event of high energy waves far shorter than visible light. The fact that no one but God was there to see any of this shows that it is by revelation.
The darkness is said to be "on the face" (פְּנֵ֣י) of "the deep" (תְהֹ֑ום). The versatile preposition עַל (`al) is used in the sense of over or above. The word פְּנֵ֣י derived from the verb and unused noun פָּנָה which means to turn. The phrase עַל־פְּנֵ֣י often is translated with the sense of "in the presence of". In other words, the primal darkness was as dark as is possible.
Since "God is light", the original darkness is sometimes thought to be a metaphor. A literal reading, though, can easily render support to a gravitational black hole the size of the known universe of today!


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