In the Hebrew text, there are three equivocal words in addition to = elohim which is translated by us as the Shining Ones.
Reading from right to left, in the Hebrew manner, these equivocations are:
1. ø usually transliterated as bara with three principal meanings
(i) = 'to create'; but, strangely, this meaning is only used with the term elohim (or its equivalent) as the subject;
(ii) = 'to clear ground' (for agriculture) including 'felling timber';
(iii) = 'fatten oneself' ø a meaning which cannot be ignored because, in paronomastic terms, it could have associations with both (i) and (ii).
But can also be transliterated as bera'a, which can mean 'to look with pleasure [or approval] upon'.
This latter use is clearly illustrated in Psalm 59:10, part of which Holladay translates as "God shall let me look with pleasure on my enemies defeated".
Consequently, the Shining Ones may have 'created', in the sense of producing something new ø of an agricultural nature; or they may have 'felled timber and cleared ground' for agricultural purposes; or they may, in time, have 'fattened themselves' on their produce - after an initial lean period in the land in which they were about to settle; and they may have 'looked with pleasure' upon the chosen area.
Here, we can take note of the cleverness of the use of paronomasia in a developing Middle Eastern language. The text may well have been intended to indicate all four meanings by the use of one word.
2. ø is transliterated as ha 'shemim which has achieved a popular meaning of the 'the heavens', or 'the air', or 'the sky'. It is the plural of shem which is another ancient word, like el . It has a widespread, geographical association with 'plants' and 'agriculture' (and it occurs in the name of the leader of the Watchers, Shem-jaza, who was recorded as being a teacher of horticulture).
In Sumerian, it was closely associated with li = 'cultivation' and had a similar ancient pictogram of a plant in a pot In the later, Semitic Akkadian, it was used for 'grass' or 'pasture'. The Akkadian sham urqitu meant'green grass'.
ha 'shemim , therefore, carries the implications of both 'heights' and 'plants'; and we believe that it was a term used, originally, for the 'cultivated Highlands' ø or, alternatively, for the 'Highland pastures'. After the destruction of Kharsag, as the language changed, it became the 'Highlands', then the 'Heights', and finally the 'Heavens'.
3. ø is transliterated as arez meaning 'ground', 'land' or 'territory'. In the context of its opposition to shemim, it should have meant 'low ground' or the 'Lowlands'.
With the above explanation we can now lay out our preferred alternative translation for the opening verse of the Book of Genesis beside the commonly accepted version of the Jerusalem Bible:
|jerusalem bible||(alternative genesis)|
In the Beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
In the Beginning, the Shining Ones looked (down) with pleasure upon the Highland pastures and the Lowlands.