Word for Word: Episode 6

וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ

And the earth

The Hebrew word for "earth" is erets (אָֽרֶץ) and has many related meanings. Whereas we might pick up some soil and call it "earth", we don't speak of our homeland or state as "earth". This was not the way it was to the people of antiquity.

Erets could mean the ground as opposed to the sea, or as opposed to the air above it. HaErets is twice as often translated as "the land" rather than "the earth".

So, what are to make of the creation account of erets? It helps a lot if there is a definition right in the context. Verse two will tell us of a place without life and very dark,  deep and wet. On the other hand, we find a special use on day three that names a very dry place "erets".  The confusion is that the word "ground" is supplied. I will return to the use of erets as dry ground when we get to day three.

The narrative before us leads most logically to a sequence. Space was created as a place to put stuff, which scientists from ancient Greece has been understood as the tiny indivisible particles first called atomos. Anglicized to "atom" just in time to be divided, we now have determined that basic particles are about the size of electrons an photons.

This very, very small. They are essentially indescribably small and bouncing a neutron or proton, except for those that escape as electrons, photons and a wide range of energy waves. 

This brings us back to the likely distinction in verse one. If the designation of heaven is space-time, then "the earth" must be matter-energy. The estimated number of atoms is 10 billion trillion trillion trillion trillion. But most of the universe is space--including inside of the atoms. If you take away the space, the remaining particles are so small that bunched together they would be lost inside the period at the end of this sentence.

So, God created enough space to build the stuff of the universe... Well, that will be episode 8. Tomorrow I will summarize verse one.


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