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Visible and invisible thing (Genesis chap. 2, verse 1)

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array

“The use of the word “tsabà” (“host”) to include all the elements and living creatures that fill the cosmos (Ps. 103.21) is unusual. Perhaps it is a technical term in the [author’s] classification. (Compare Num. 4.3; 8.24) But perhaps the writer was thinking of the chief beings who, according to the ancient Israelite view, surround God’s domain and occasionally mediate between him and the man (I Kings 22.19; Josh. 5.14; etc.) (From G. von Rad, Genesis, a Commentary, p. 63)

These few words are the Gerhard von Rad’s commentary on Genesis. Indeed the expression “in all their vast array” is enigmatic. According to my opinion, “tsabà” are not only the “chief beings that surround God’s” i.e. the angels. I think that “the heavens and all their vast array” is the entire world of God, with all its (invisible) beings. “The earth and all their vast array” is instead the entire human world. “World” has not the same meaning of “earth”.

World is “a inner and outer dimension”, i.e. what there is inside men and what there is outside men. Perhaps this verse is best translated by the Creed’s words: “maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible”.

So it will be not surprising to find the mention of an angel (one of the cherubim) at the end of Genesis’ chapter 3.  God creates all that exists (Gen 1:1), namely “all visible and invisible things”. So the first verse of chapter two is the conclusion of the first version of the creation’s account.

Simone Venturini


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