Darkness on the Face of the Deep

Ain Soph – The Unknown God

Chapter 5

Fred Mayers

Genesis I, v. 2.

“And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (English Revised Version.)

So far we have been pointing out meanings of the words of our Bible which go deeper and farther than the meanings of the same words have when used in the everyday language of a simple. ancient people. We have tried to show that these deeper meanings are actually bound up with the original significations of letters and roots. It is quite easy in most cases to perceive how words containing deep and wide significance come to be applied to the simple objects and purposes of everyday life. What we call a “literal” translation of the text is one that takes the words of the original in the concrete meaning which they have in ordinary everyday language and does not attempt to go deeper. These simple, everyday meanings, as far as they go, are true and they are intelligible to everybody; they do not, however, in any way destroy or annul the deeper meaning. It will be seen, also, that the simplest, most concrete significance of a word in daily use always reveals some correspondence or analogy of idea with the deeper and more spiritual meanings.

This fact is taken advantage of in all spiritual literature. It enables deep spiritual truth to be communicated in very simple representative” language. Anyone possessed of spiritual perception can always to some extent “sense” the spiritual message that underlies the simplest narrative hence we have “fables,” “parables,” “myths.” etc. How much we can learn in this depends. of course, upon our perceptive powers. But in the case of the Hebrew language, the spiritual basis of its simplest elements and construction, makes it possible, not only for the deeper truth to be perceptible through analogy, but for it also to be actually expressed in the words themselves. We can “see through” a “literal” translation – but we “see” only as “through a glass darkly”; when we have the clues to the inner nature of the original, we see plainly. The whole history of the Bible throughout the ages is sufficient proof of the immense value of even the simplest and most commonplace rendering. Far be it from us to undervalue the attempts that have been made to translate the Bible “literally.” But, equally far from us – be the blindness of those who would have us consider the “literal” word as the whole. Translators of all times have worked hard to give us a true and satisfactory “literal” translation, but the difficulties of the task are greater than many people realise. Try as they would, they found in many cases that no “literal” rendering would “make sense,” and then they have floundered about very badly. It was difficult enough even with words that were in current use in everyday language, or on which light could be thrown from cognate words in allied languages; but occasionally the writer of Genesis goes out of his way deliberately to use words that were not of a nature ever to enter into the ordinary language of the people; words that throughout the whole Bible, never appear again unless they happen to be quoted. It is obvious that the real meanings of such words must be found in the words themselves, or not at all. The words in Gen. I, v. 2, which are translated by “without form and void,” or “waste and void” are examples of such exceptional words.

Let us try to arrive at the true meaning of the Hebrew words: “Thohou wa bohou.” As has just been said, they are very unusual words, and none of the translators seem to have been able to satisfy themselves as to their meaning.

Let us see what the words themselves have to say. We will quote what one great Hebrew scholar, d’Olivet, has to say about them : “The Hebrew words ‘Thohou wa bohou’ are of the type that sages create in learned language, and that the vulgar never understand. We will examine their figurative and hieroglyphic meaning. We know that the sign ‘H’ is the sign of ‘life.’ We have seen also that when this sign is doubled, it forms the essential ‘living’ root ‘HH’ or ‘HoH’ which, by the insertion of the verbal sign ‘O’ becomes the verb ‘HoH’ ‘to be being.’ But suppose now that we wish to express, not an existence in actuality, but only in ‘potentiality,’ we reduce the verbal root to only one sign of life, and that we lower the luminous verbal sign ‘0’ to make it the ‘conversive’ sign ‘oo,’ we shall then have a contracted root in which ‘being’ will only be latent, or, so to speak, in germ. Such exactly is the root ‘boo.’ This root, composed of the sign of ‘life’ ‘H’ and the sign ‘oo’ which we know serves as a bond between ‘nothingness’ and ‘being,’ expresses marvellously well that incomprehensible state of a thing when it does not yet exist, but is none the less in potentiality of existing. Now Moses takes this root and, prefixing to it the sign of mutual reciprocity ‘th,’ makes it into the word ‘Tho – hoo’ by which he expresses ‘a contingent and potential existence.’ He then proceeds to modify the word by omitting the ‘Th’ and inflecting the root with the prepositional article ‘B’ – ‘in’ – ‘bo-hoo.’ Thus, by the combination of the two words, the phrase means ‘a contingent and potential existence.’ The above quotation may be rather technical for many readers, but it clearly gives an explanation of the two difficult words, which quite removes the absurdities and self – contradictions of the old renderings. It is also clearly in complete harmony with all we have said in previous pages, or that we shall have to say later.

What the author 0 the original meant was clearly that the “earth had been ‘created’ as a spiritual ideal, bat it was not yet existing in actual reality,” (By a curious coincidence, immediately after writing the above passage, the present writer picked up the “Daily Telegraph,” 8th May, 1943, and reading through the leading article, came upon The following sentence: “Though it” (the Dunkirk incident) “was a military disaster of the first order, There was a deliverance within the disaster, and . . a victory – that of the R.A.F. over the Luftwaffe – within the deliverance.” There we have an excellent illustration of “a contingent potential existence within another potential existence.”)

The narrative continues : “and darkness was upon the face of the deep (or abyss,)” The only two words needing any explanation are darkness” and “deep?’ or “abyss.” We will take the word “deep” first because it happens to be very closely related to the two words just discussed. The Hebrew word for the “deep” or the “abyss” is “Tho-hom.” It has the same root exactly as the words “Tho-hoo” and “bo-hoo” with another little modifying change of a letter: it now ends with the “universal” sign “M” final, it denotes “all the potentialities of things to be, universally.” What these “potentialities” were did not yet appear. Everything was veiled in “darkness,” invisible, incognisable. It is perhaps superfluous to mention that “darkness” and “ignorance” have always been synonyms spiritually.

The ideas contained in the Hebrew word “‘hosheck” were of anything that “closes in on one, bringing a feeling of helpless ignorance, of being lost, etc. But “Chaos” was not to remain. Already, the “breath” or “Spirit” of Elohim was “moving” over it. The word “rouch” means equally “breath,” “Spirit” or “Wind.” The root of the word expresses the ideas of “extension,” “expansion,” “exaltation,” “animation,” “spiritualisation.” The word translated “moved” (merache-pheth) is based on the same root and covers the same ideas, (It is worth noting in passing, that this practice of using together nouns and verbs which are built on the same root, is an out – standing peculiarity of the author of Genesis. One comes across it constantly, on every page. Frequently it is quite obvious that a word has been specially “coined” for the purpose. The waters “swarm swarms”; the plants “seed seeds”; the “breath” of God “breathes” life, breath, into, etc., etc. It is a curious literary trait. One may wonder whether the “Higher Critics” who have spent so many years of patient study – (utterly useless, spiritually, by the way) – in the attempt to attribute The writing of Genesis to a number of different authors, have ever noticed this little peculiarity of style!

We noted in an earlier chapter, the close correspondence of O.T. “Elohim” with the N.T. “Word,” In this second verse of Genesis, we have undoubtedly, in the expression “rouch ha Elohim – “Spirit of God” a similar’ correspondence with the “Holy Spin ‘ of the N.T.; the third aspect of the Triune God – God the “Life giver” and “Indweller.” “Elohim” – “God the Creator” – creates the principles, the “Mother ideas” of the Universe, and He works on throughout endless ages for their complete realisation.

The “Spirit of God” breathes “Life” into everything, He makes “ideas” into living forces. He is, cosmically, the “Lord and Giver of Life.” He breathes the “divine” into human beings as individuals – giving them “Life” – “Life “Eternal” as their own individual possession – restoring to man the immortality lost in “Eden.”

There is really, no insoluble “mystery” in the doctrine of the “Trinity, nothing which defies understanding and must just be believed” blindly. God does not ask That kind of belief” from any creatures made “in His likeness.” The simple fact is that God and man are Mike Trinities, and can never be understood except as trinities. Probably the theological use of the word “persons” is responsible for making a perfectly intelligible fact into a “mystery.” Yet the word is really quite correct, if properly understood. If God were not a “personal” God, no one created in His image could have any “personality,” and “personality” – conscious personality, is the very essential of Man. Being personal, all God’s “Self expression” must have a personal nature also. All self – expression, whether of God or man, is personal; it shows that quality in everything it produces. And what God the Holy Spirit breathes into any human being is a personal “life.” When He enters a human soul, religion becomes no longer a matter of creed or ceremonial, but of life.

All that we are told in these early statements of the Bible may seem at first as if they belong to an inconceivably distant “past.” “Time” has nothing to do with them. There was no “time” while all was spiritual. Every process of “Creation” was an internal process. – All that ever was, ever is. We are dealing with processes that have no before or after, they are eternal and universal, and they just as much enter into the processes of present day human thought and action as they do throughout God’s creative work. This will be dealt with later.

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