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Feb
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The mystery of the Alpha and Omega in the Bible's first verse SOLVED!

Mark CadwalladerViewpoint of Mark Cadwallader, Creation Moments Board Chairman

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”, Genesis 1:1. Did you know that in Hebrew this opening verse of the Bible contains exactly seven words  in a construction that centers around one little, and seemingly unnecessary word – “et”?

“Barasheet bara Elohim et ha’shamayim v’et  ha’retz” – Genesis 1:1 (transliterated Hebrew).

The word in the middle – which is where the main point in Hebrew sentence structure is usually positioned – is also an untranslatable word. “Et” is used here only to indicate that a direct object of the sentence is next. But is that it’s only for being there? “Et” is formed from the Hebrew letters aleph and tav, the first and the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. In Greek, those letters would be alpha and omega. Remind you of anything … or anyone?

Several years ago I sat next to a young rabbi on a plane flight. He was just returning from a number of years in Israel, and we engaged in conversation the whole way. He asked a lot of questions about the creationist literature I had on my lap. While he wasn’t a Messianic Jew, he was clearly sympathetic to evangelical Christians.

I was all ears, as they say, when he explained to me that Genesis 1:1 is a great example of  how the Hebrew Scriptures are filled with veiled marvels of hidden meaning and wonders that have puzzled rabbis for centuries.

Use of the “et” was puzzling, he said, because it wasn’t needed. The words ha’shamayim (the heavens) and ha’retz (the earth) were already sufficient to know the meaning of the verse, and the sentence would work fine without it. He also talked about how the word “barasheet” – which means “in the beginning” – is a compound word made up of “ba” (meaning “in”) and “sheet” (meaning “six”). “Bara” means “created” and “Elohim”, of course, means “God”, so that within the first half of the verse we can read, “In six God created…”. 

As you probably know, we read in the very last chapter of the Bible the words of Christ in the vision of John, saying, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Revelation 22:13). We also read in John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word…” – such that Jesus Christ is the Living Word in Christian doctrine. So, is the “et” in Genesis 1:1 – the opening verse of God’s Word – a veiled reference to Christ?

The rabbi went on to tell me how supportive the original Hebrew is of the Young Earth Creationist position. Not only does the text teach a six-day creation, but it goes out of its way to do so. The textual construction “And the evening and the morning …” at the end of each creation day (“yom” in Hebrew) indicates that God wants us to know that these days were just like any normal solar day, divided between night-time and daylight.

Moreover, the very first time the phrase is used, in Genesis 1:5, the Hebrew uses the cardinal number “one” (“echad” in Hebrew). In the following uses of the phrase “…the evening and the morning…”, the Hebrew switches to using ordinal numbers – second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth – referring to each day. It is as if God wishes to make it even more clear that each “yom” consists of day and night. Indeed, what we call a “day” consists of a cycle of day-time and night-time divided into 24 hours.

My rabbi friend and I even discussed the Trinity. Did you know that in what is the most important part of Jewish prayer service – the reciting of Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (the “Shema”) – there is another wondrous textual construct that puzzles many rabbis? A direct translation of Deuteronomy 6:4 is: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord, our God, the Lord is one.” Why is the name of the Lord stated three times in this key verse? Why not, for example, just say, “Here, O Israel, the Lord is one”? Here we see a foreshadowing of the Trinitarian nature of God.

Genesis 1:2-3 also arguably contains the Trinity because God, the Narrator of the text, tells of God the Holy Spirit (verse 2) and of God who spoke the word in verse 3, “Let there be light”.

As we saw earlier, the middle word of the opening sentence of the Bible is “et” – a word which adds no meaning to the text, “resting” as a seventh word among six working words. Yet it holds the most sublime message imaginable. It tells us – right there in the Hebrew Scriptures – of Jesus’ activity in creation! Plus, its two letters foreshadows redemption in the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”

At the end of that plane flight and my conversation with the young rabbi, I handed him my business card and suggested we get together. I often wonder about him, marveling and rejoicing at his gentle spirit and the heart-stirring conversation on board that flight! The miraculous wonders of our great Creator are indeed marvelous and beautiful to contemplate, even in the arrangement of characters on a sheet of paper – characters which can impart to us the love, joy and peace of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ!

You know, sharing the love of Christ and the gospel is really job one at Creation Moments. Because of the nature of our radio broadcast and the thousands of biblical creation resources we offer, many people mistakenly think our only goal is teaching the superiority of biblical creation to evolution. Not so! Our primary goal for well over a half century is reaching people for Christ by showing them that the Bible is authoritative and true, beginning at the very first verse.

Won’t you help us continue to proclaim the gospel by praying for us and supporting us financially? Believe me, a  tax-deductible donation of any amount is greatly appreciated! God bless you!