The Berean Expositor
Volume 34 - Page 169 of 261
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Time and Place.
The Scriptural association of chronology and topography
with doctrine and purpose.
The purpose of the ages implied in Gen. 1: 1.
pp. 11 - 13
The majestic opening words of Holy Scripture describe the first action of all time.
"In the beginning" (B'reshith). The word reshith is the feminine form of rosh, "head",
and while primarily rosh means "head", only incidentally "beginning", reshith on the
other hand, primarily means "beginning", and incidentally "chief", but is never translated
in the A.V. "head". The LXX translated it by the Greek arche, and so is parallel with
John 1: 1. That it is utterly futile to speculate upon what was "before" the beginning, our
very language testifies, for, where time is not, "before" is meaningless.
An examination of the usage of reshith, "beginning", leaves the mind with the
impression that something more than "time" is implied. First we observe that there is no
article ("the"), so that the Hebrew reads "In beginning", and opens the door for the
thought, "With what motive and with what ending?" There are two other occurrences of
reshith in Genesis: the first is,
"And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel . . . . . in the land of Shinar, and he
(Nimrod) went forth out of that land into Assyria (Asshur), and builded Nineveh, etc."
(Gen. 10: 10, 11).
Here we have an illustration of the anticipatory character of reshith. Nimrod began
with Babel, but he went on and added Erech, Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar,
thereafter extending his conquest outside that land, including Nineveh and Calah.
The other reference to reshith is Gen. 49: 3, 4:
"Reuben, thou art my firstborn, and the beginning of my strength . . . . . unstable as
water, thou shalt not excel."
Here again the "beginning of my strength" asks for its sequence, its correspondence,
and the "end" is found to be failure and instability.
This word reshith is translated "firstfruits" eleven times (Lev. 23: 10, etc.), and it is
the very essence of firstfruits that they anticipate a harvest to come. In Job 8: 7 and
42: 12 the "beginning" is related to the "end"; as it is also in Isa. 46: 10.
By this time, most of our readers will have thought of the title given to Christ in the