C o n s i d e r i n g . the . I m a g e

The Sand Images | The Beatitudes | - | The Ultimate Purpose of Stewardship | - | 'Bara' - Hebrew | Waters ~ Genesis 1 | Alphabets | Why Did God Create? | Ten Commandments | About Me | Favorite Links | Contact Me
Waters ~ Genesis 1

Waters   Mayim  -  unknowns



When referring to water in English, ‘water’ is normally used - not ‘waters’ plural as is found in the creation story.  Hebrew makes the difference.  Unlike the normal English singular ‘water’, the translation of Hebrew mayim is the plural ‘waters’.  The -ayim part of ‘mayim makes ‘waters’ a dual-form word.  ‘Dual-form’ applies to plurality of two things, such as two eyes or ears, etc.  


In Genesis, dual-form mayim is an essential part of the story flow.  Prior to considering the story flow, the etymological source and meaning of  ‘waters’ in its context is helpful.  Genesis 1:2, And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.  Proto-Sinaitic picto-symbolic script reveals etymology of waters: 

        ‘Waters’  /  Mayim  /מ  י ם / webassets/Mayim.jpg,


‘Waters – mayim’ has the root ‘What’ - Mah [1], מה, webassets/Mah.jpgIts first Proto-Sinaitic letter mem /\/\/\  is ocean waves.  From its use in various words, it associates to ideas of the ‘unknown, chaos, mighty, fluid (like blood)’.   All three meanings are characteristics of the ocean.  The word ‘What’ - Mah is an interrogatory about an unknown.  Ocean waters were the great unknown.  Another similar Hebrew mem letter formed interrogatory word is mi, meaning ‘who’.  It is again something about an unknown. 

And mem often has to do with the idea of ‘fluid’, found it words like blood - ב  ם  dam, a fluid, of which the name of Adam 

א ב ם   is formed from a similar word meaning reddish. 

The second consonant of the word ‘what – mah’ is the letter hey, a ‘man with arms raised’ webassets/Hey.jpgand means:  look, breath, reveal.

 [ note: the ‘construct state’ of waters - mayim is also ‘mi’.  In its context, it is not the word mi translated ‘who’, e.g. Gen 7:7, “... mi hammannul.” is “waters of the deluge”. ]


In Egyptian hieroglyphs, webassets/water-hieroglyph-no-n.jpgwas sounded in earlier Egypt as /m/ .   The sound for webassets/water-hieroglyph-no-n.jpg was eventually replaced with /n/ in hieroglyphs.   Although Egyptian vowel association to consonants is largely lost, later Semitic language developed from hieroglyphs fits the ‘a’ vowel well with ‘m’, thus the possibility of hieroglyphs with a ma sound relating to later Hebrew ‘mah – what’ and ‘mayim – waters’.  For vowels, later Hebrew Masoretic-era text from about the 600 – 900’s A.D. ascribed Hebrew niqqud markings for vowels, thus better knowledge of vowel associations was retained for the Hebrew Semitic language. 

[  A paper on Hieroglyphs gives some basic functions and a slight overview. ]


Waters’ - dual form – plural:

 ‘Waters’ as the “unknowns’ or ‘whats’, not bodies of water, develop in the creation storyline to become separated to two areas, first given in the Gen 1:1 summary heading as the two areas of ‘heavens and the earth’.  The phrase means ‘universe’, and is grammatically a merism.[2]  Hebrew does not have a word for universe as does Greek with cosmos.  The introductory creation story heading at Gen. 1:1 - 2 has an abundance of meaning for the full creation story, for many good reasons, the main of which is that the creation story has a ‘dual form’ progression.  This twp-form progression is common to other ancient cosmologies, especially many Egyptian forms.

[ Another essential word is the first verb in the Bible, ‘bara’ – meaning to ‘separate a space’, not to ‘create’.   See accompanying paper.]


Word roots – e.g., heavens

Similar or like-kind roots of words reveal similar characteristics.  In the Genesis creation story, a word developed from a common root in a word used earlier not only has similar characteristics, but also shows that the later thing developed from the earlier. 


In day two at verse 8, waters above the ‘firmament’, are ‘called’ ‘Heavens – shamayim’  webassets/Shamayim.jpgwebassets/Shamayim.jpg webassets/Shamayim.jpg(right to left).  The word is formed from mayim by the addition of one letter ‘shin’  ש to mayim.  In roots and the creation story, it is seen that the heavens (dual form plural) developed from first ‘waters – unknowns’, dual form plural.  The heavens ‘above’ will beget the earth in the waters ‘below’.  At Gen 1:8, and verses 9 - 10, heavenly waters beget the earth in waters at the lower part of the firmament – Heavens; to next be ‘called’ the Earth and Seas.  Anything ‘called’ is completed to the degree that it functions for its intended purpose, and is readied to be the support for developing the next level of creation.  The ‘upper’ [not ‘above’ the firmament] part of the ‘firmament – Heavens’ are the ‘unknowns - waters’ that coalesced from primal matter – to become stars, galaxies, and supernova, etc.  The ‘shamayim – heavens’ [dual form] came from the mayim [dual form].  The earth developed from the heavens, especially from the area named the ‘lower’ part of the firmament [not ‘under’ the firmament].  Hebrew relates spacial things to the viewpoint of a person in their context, here, above and under – the resulting heaven above and what became of it as the earth under the person.   The need for retranslation of the creation story and other Old Testament passages is long overdue, due to better knowledge of word values.


When formation of earth and seas were finished in creation day 3, water in the story is what we normally think, H2O, and from whence the Proto-Sinaitic al-bet symbol mem  /\/\/\ was itself humanly formed.  From day three, the creation story refers to such as ‘seas’, not waters, and ‘waters’ are henceforth understood as such.  This new Earth and Seas of the lower waters developed from the heavens, of the dual form two ‘waters - unknowns’ presented in Gen. 1:1 – 2 as the heading to the story. “… the heavens and the earth” are the two parts of the waters, developed in that order in the creation story.  The ‘unknowns’ were formed to become ‘knowns’, the material surroundings to which people could fully relate their understanding.




Other Biblical examples of both ‘mah  – what’ and ‘mayim – waters’


 Other key Biblical verses contain words ‘firmament – raqiya’, and ‘heavenly stretch – natah’, etc.  Therein, they also use mah for ‘nothing’, and also associate to such use of mah to ‘waters’.

One verse is –


Job 26:7 He stretcheth [ natah ] out the north over the empty place [tohu], (and) hangeth the earth upon nothing [ beli-mah = ‘no-thing (be-li)’ - what (mah)]. 

The Adam Clarke commentary states that in the Chaldee, in the last portion of the verse reads “….  He lays the earth upon the waters, nothing sustaining it.  Question:  how does earth lay upon ‘nothing’ [English translation from Hebrew], or upon waters [English translation from Chaldee], therein as an object free from something to sustain it? 

It must be seriously considered how the Hebrew ‘beli-mah’ = ‘no-thing - what’ relates to the Chaldee ‘waters, nothing’, specifically with themah – what’ part being treated as ‘waters - mayim’, itself the dual form of ‘mah - what’.  Thus, in this verse, the mayim - unknowns- ‘what – is considered heavenly space and the ‘unknowns’ from which the Earth and Seas developed in Gen 1.  Biblical Genesis cosmogony should not follow a historically later concoction which claims Hebrew cosmogony to have H2O fluid waters in hidden depths of the earth, or underneath it.

There are many additional comparative OT verses for creation and waters, including NT verses showing the proper Hebrew usage of OT scripture by use of Greek.  A NT verse on waters is given in the following section.




A New Testament verse uses the proper Greek for Hebrew meaning of waters.


2 Peter 3:5, “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:”.  Although here I will not go into its extensive consideration, two words ‘dia & ‘ek are in relation to ‘sunestosa’ and ‘hudatos’.  The phrase “out of the water” (ἐξ ὕδατος  - ex hudatos) refers to the origin of the earth.  It was formed “from,” or out of, that ‘waters – unknowns’ mass.  The phrase “in the water” (δἰ ὕδατος  di' hudatos) more properly means “through” or “by.”  It was “through” or “by means of” that vast mass of ‘waters – unknowns’ that the earth was made as it was.  The dual form of Hebrew ‘mayim – waters’ is therein preserved [likely better understood here if having read the attached paper ‘Waters’].  The word standing  in Greek:  συνεστῶσα  sunestōsa, when used in an intransitive sense as here, i.e., w/o a direct object, means -

- “to stand with,” or “together;”

- then topically, “to place together,”

- to constitute, place, bring into existence - Robinson.

- Margin notes of scribes, “consisting.”

- συνεστῶσα -  sunestōsa = cohering  - Concordant Literal Version


It is material from the ‘waters – unknowns’, and ‘cohering’ as material.  Hebrew is preserved in the NT.  It helps to ‘understand’ that which ‘stands under’. 



Concepts  travel  over  time;  through  other  languages 


Amarigna from the general locality of Eritrea [officially replaced by Southern Ethiopian Amaric in 1958], and Tigrigna [improperly, Tigrinya] from the general area of Ethiopia, both seem to bring two ancient language groups together into one region.  Ethiopia - Amarigna is inland with ancient trade to Egypt via the head of the Nile River – inland, with words common to Semitic languages flowing from Egypt.  Tigrigna - Eritrea is coastal with words which associate to the Arabian Peninsula and Hittite, etc., via Red Sea water trade routes.   It also has Egyptian influences.  These joined inland and coastal areas seem to bring two ancient language groups together into one region which are largely linguistically preserved due to lack of significant colonialism in their regional histories. 


The Sumerian "šamû" ("heaven") is equivalent to the Amarigna and Tigrigna [A – T] word for "sky/heaven," "semay" (se-may) –  Note that in Tigrigna, the similar "may" (ma-y) means "water", though in Amarigna used nearer the Red Sea - water is "whe" (w-he); and both are abundantly written in hieroglyphs.  The Amarigna "whe" has sound more similar to Hittite which is ‘Indo-European’, too, as seen in - water = ‘ua-a-atar’ or ‘wa-a-tar’ or ‘wa-a-dar’ .  Did trade via inland Nile river and by coastal Red Sea bring two main ‘concept’ words for water geographically close to each other?


Se-may ~ = sha-mayim [Heb] = heavens; both with S prefixes to the root of water(s).


Budge shows "semay" on page 602, column A, 2nd word down, although he mistakenly transcribes the word as "shadow." This is because the word is followed by an umbrella, so he thinks the umbrella to be the actual word without having realized the reality of the word.  [Gebts 2 - overview basics by author - water – heaven]


Perhaps the bushy historic lingual line of Germanic < early Greek < Proto-Sinaitic language should also be thought of as very influenced from Afro-Asia; not mainly Asia.  German ‘wasser’ = water, with its root ‘was’ = what.  The what-water concept is preserved.  Perhaps English ‘water’, through its Germanic etymology, should be stated ‘whater’!  Latin ‘aqua’ = water, with its root ‘ua’ is used with words of unknowns, often in combination with ‘q’.  Scandinavian languages [subset of North Germanic languages] are comprised of Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish.  They are similar in What/Water relations:  Nor. hva/vann,  Dan. hvad/vand, Swed. vad/vatten.


‘Waters - What – unknowns’ with its conceptual relationships travel through many languages.  Many basic concepts are traceable from Egyptian hieroglyphs through connected languages, found within roots of words and their sounds.  When such is traced to Egypt, amazingly, the Bible becomes more knowable, understandable, represents nature well, current to science; all of which informs us well about the omniscient God.  To understand the Bible well, it is essential to understand early historic sourcing and their imprints upon civilization, including their imprints upon Hebrew. 


Thus in a slight ‘overview – review’ given here, 1. - Latin of the Italic languages - which included Romance languages derived from it, and 2. - Germanic languages - which likely have a bush of origins rather than a more direct tree - but seemingly has its main diffusion from Greek; itself from a disseminated language:  are 1. + 2. - two main European language disseminations which serve as examples of ‘water ~ what = unknowns’ coming from a hieroglyphic concept – through Proto-Sinaitic – and onward to various languages.  Its etymology also interconnects with other Hebrew word values in Genesis creation accounts.



A  small  note  on  other  basic  creation  words  shared  with  early  Egypt –


Dual words tohu v’vohu at Gen 1:2 are often translated ‘without form and void’.   They, too, are crafted to identify the dual nature of the early universe and its creation process: heavens leading to an earth.  See the separate paper which addresses their dual nature and setting in the creation story.  They have direct connection with early Egyptian creation cosmogony, especially from the cities of On and Memphis.  The paper also addresses the proper exegesis of the two words in their other Biblical passages.  And in addition, tohu v’vohu in Gen 1:2 have common characteristics with words ‘tehomdeep’ and ‘mayimwaters’ found in the same verse.  Primary root and concept relatedness are common in the creation story.  To understand the creation story well, we must understand meanings of words from their origins, and their interconnections which serve to reveal the process of the progressive story. 


Most Genesis creation words are not isolated in their concepts to the few verses in which they occur – as is wrongly considered the norm.  Word meanings and interrelations of the creation story interconnect storyline processes throughout its six creation days, including Genesis chapter 2.  Biblical exegesis becomes better simplified and more congruent.  Egypt’s hieroglyphic provenance for many Semitic languages and many concepts helps to guide understanding of the progression of creation well - and allows better translation.


Many common concepts and words exist in the first and second creation accounts, at Gen 1:1 – 2:3 and Gen 2:4 – 25 respectively.  The second account is a more detailed account of creation day six, and as such, the second account especially affects understanding of context and setting for day six in the first account, but also the better understanding of the context of the whole first account.


SHalom,  Steve Huffey



Notes -

[1] “The Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible,” Jeff A. Benner. ISBN 1-58939-776-2,  page 27, Mah.


 [2]  Merism < Greek, meros - "part",  is a single thing which is enumerated by several of its parts.

For example, ‘lock, stock, and barrel’ originally referred to parts of a gun, and words searched ‘high and low’ – for everywhere.  The phrase, “the heavens and the earth” is the upper and lower waters of the firmament, the high and low of the universe, and what a reader or hearer sees when looking up and looking down in relation to self. [webassets/Hey.jpg, selah.]

Gen 1:1 is sometimes referred to as a hendiadys, but it is not.  A hendiadys is a Latinized form of the Greek phrase ἓν διὰ δυοῖν, "one through two".  It is a figure of speech used for emphasis, using two words which similarly apply to each other.  For example, at the hendiadys of Gen 23:4 when Abraham asked the Hittites for permission to bury his wife in the land, he said two words for emphasis that similarly apply, “I am a stranger and a sojourner with you:  give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.  Because a hendiadys has similar elements, it can be adjectivally related.  The example above can be rearranged to a “sojourning stranger.” 

The merism ‘heavens and earth’ does not have similar elements, nor is it adjectivally interchangeable.  Its elements are parts making up one thing; in this case, the universe.

Enter supporting content here

|      |     |    |   |  | | ~  I m a g e  ~ | |  |   |    |     |      |