Hi, I'm Tim Coombs, co-pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Scotia, NY and a member of the network of biblical storytellers. To learn more about its mission, go to nbsint.org
In the beginning, when God created the world, the world was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep. And the spirit of God hovered over the face of the water. That is the beginning of the creation story of Genesis 1. People say that the creation occurs in six days, and God rested on the seventh day, but a good Jewish notion is that your work is not complete until you've rested on the Sabbath. So it is fitting to say that creation occurs in seven days.
Now notice in that first line of the story that before God created, everything was chaotic. And in the story of the creation, the seven days of creation, God will bring order to the chaos. And that's partly what it's all about. As you read Genesis 1, you'll notice a rhythm in the creation stories. God looks, and God sees what needs to be done. And then God says, and the creation for that day begins. And then, when it's done, God says in English, ""It is good."" But the Hebrew word is kitove, which is a word that means ""utter satisfaction."" A satisfaction that lingers. It's kind of like after you've eaten a Thanksgiving dinner and you're full and you have to undo your belts and ahhhh. That's when you would say kitove. The memory lingers with you. And so that's what creation is all about.
Now the other thing that I will tell you about creation is that the story is somewhat influenced by the Babylonian myth, ""Enuma Elish"" because the Jews lived in Babylon in exile, and they set their stories against the Babylonian stories. The Babylonian story begins with creation as a struggle, and then it improves based on Babylonian work. But notice in this story, creation begins good, kitove good. But as Genesis continues, we'll find that it continues to deteriorate, a little bit by a little bit. So that's the beginning, the story of creation in Genesis 1.