I have been pondering Genesis 1:3 lately and just wanted to jot down some of the things I have been thinking about.
The Holeman illustrated Bible Dictionary says this about the Shekinah of God – “Transliteration of Hebrew word not found in the Bible but used in many of the Jewish writings to speak of God’s presence. The term means “that which dwells,” and is implied throughout the Bible whenever it refers to God’s nearness either in a person, object, or His glory.” Another way to express the Shekinah of God is the visible manifestation of the presence of God the Father.
When we come to Genesis 1:3 and see the phrase “Let there be light” there are 2 words that are used in this passage that are of great interest. The Hebrew word “haya” and the word “or”. Later in Genesis 1 we see a different word used for light, that is the Hebrew word meorot. So why in Genesis 1:3 did the writer use “or”
A quick study on the use of the word “or” (light) in the Old Testament reveals some interesting facts to think about. It is used 109 times in the OT. Only 16 times is it used in the Pentateuch with the majority of the use of the word found in the Poetical and Prophetic books. The highest use is found in Job, Isaiah, and the Psalms.
The Bible Knowledge commentary says this about the Psalms – “The Psalms are the inspired responses of human hearts to God’s revelation of Himself in law, history, and prophecy.” So it is not hard to understand why light is frequently used in reference to God’s presence or the reflection of His presence from his people.
Looking at the root for the word “or” it can mean “to be, cause or make luminous and enlighten” and can also mean illumination. The word is used throughout scripture in both a literal and metaphorical ways.
So it is not hard to see this word “or” (light) as a expression of God’s presence or of His Glory, even possibly in Gen 1:3 the revelation of God’s glory for the first time.
It is also interesting that God formed the light out of the darkness, possibly meaning that because of the darkness, light had to be revealed. Light overcoming darkness becomes a pattern that is mirrored frequently in the physical realm. This could be why day follows night and why night and day are considered “one day.” The Biblical timetable reveals this concept with each new day beginning with darkness then followed by light — and ending just before the following sunset. Light Shining forth from the darkness then becomes a common recurrent theme throughout scripture.
So to better understand the word for light we must also evaluate the word here for darkness: The Theological Wordbook of the OT say that darkness is the opposite of light, that it is the word that was used to describe the darkness that was over Egypt as a plague, that it can have figurative meanings like ignorance, evil, hiddenness
, blindness, and judgment. Man is said to be in darkness without the revelation of God and His salvation.
Delving into the other important word found in Genesis 1:3, we find the word “haya” (let there be) which literally means “let be.” The word “there” does not appear in the original Hebrew but has been added by the translators for clarification. In fact, the Hebrew actually means “let be” and is a masculine form therefore referring to “him” rather than “it.” So Hebrew could possibly be translated as “Let Him be Light.” In this way, God is revealed in the original Hebrew words!
Now let’s look at some verses that may reveal a bit more of what may be going on right in the beginning of Genesis:
John 1:1–5 (ESV) 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 12:44–46 (ESV) 44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.
2 Corinthians 4:6 (ESV) 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 1:1–3 (ESV) 1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
John 1:3–5 (ESV) 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Revelation 21:22–25 (ESV) 22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.
Is it possible then that the light revealed in Gen 1:3 is the first revelation of the Glory of God in our Savior Yeshua the Christ and a first glimpse of redemption before sin even enters the world.
Food for thought.