(C) 2000 Dr. Russell Jay Hendel
Visit the RashiYomi Main page & Map
This article was presented at the 3rd international conference on Science and Religion

It is planned to publish this article in the second of two issues published by the journal BOR HATORAH--this article should appear within the next 2 years

Those wishing to, may review other Science-Religion articles by BOR HATORAH

This article differs slightly from the version that will be published--it contains almost no Hebrew & Footnotes are at the bottom (but all notes are preceded by the word NOTE so you can use your FIND command to jump back and forth while reading)

In citing this article please treat it the way you would treat any other journal article

This is web VERSION 2, Jan 28, 2001. It should be readable in both Netscape and IE. Acknowledgement to the HebrewComputing Egroup for suggestions on improving format. Further suggestions on readability should be addressed to me, Dr Hendel.


Russell Jay Hendel holds a Ph.D. in theoretical mathematics from M.I.T. and an associateship from the Society of Actuaries. He has been a full time faculty member at half a dozen universities and is presently adjunct professor at Towson University. He has written about 2 dozen articles on number theory, mathematical pedagogy, and the use of technology to enhance education. He currently works for the Health Care Finance Organization of the United States Government in the Department of Health and Human Services. For 7 years Dr Hendel attended the lectures of Rabbi Dr. Joseph B. Soloveitchick whose analytic-logical approach to both Rashi and Talmudic problems has enabled Dr Hendel, in his half dozen Judaica articles, to defend the plausibility of original Talmudic positions on a wide variety of issues. Thus the present article defends the Talmudic position that Genesis 1 describes the creation of prophecy. Dr Hendel currently runs the web-based Rashi Database Project whose goal is to grammatically defend all 8000 Rashis on Chumash.


The purpose of this paper is to offer a new interpretation and perspective on Gen 1-Gen 3.

Traditionally Gen 1-3 has been interpreted as dealing with (a) the creation of the physical world in 7 days, (b) the physical creation of the human life form, and ( c ) the expulsion from Gan Eden. But the assumption that Gen 1 deals with the creation of the physical world immediately leads to the conclusion that both the physical world and man are only about 6000 years old. This conclusion contradicts numerous findings from diverse fields of science that the universe is about 20 billion years old and that man is about 1 million years old. This blatant contradiction has given rise to a vast literature.NOTE 1

By contrast, this paper presents a position that what happened 6000 years ago is not the creation of the physical world, but rather the creation of prophecy. That is, the first human to attain prophetic revelation with God was Adam and this happened 6000 years ago. It is immediately seen that such a position, (while creating new problems, nevertheless) successfully solves the science-religion age problem since there is no longer any problem: The universe is 20 billion years old, the earth is 4 billion years old, man is 1 million years old and prophecy is 6000 years old.NOTE 2




The main thesis of this paper has the following 3 components.

  • THE PROPHETIC INTERPRETATION: Gen 1- Gen 3 describes the creation of prophecy and has no primary bearing on the creation of the physical world or physical human life. What happened 6000 years ago is that the first prophecy occured in a person named Adam.

  • INTERNAL LITERARY SOURCES: The interpretation of Gen 1- 3 as dealing with the creation of prophecy, follows naturally from internal literary evidence using standard methods and requirements of grammatical and symbolic interpretation.

  • RELIGIOUS-SECULAR SOURCES: Besides the internal literary evidence, the interpretation of Gen 1 - 3 as dealing with the creation of prophecy is supported or is consistent with many Talmudic, Midrashic and Biblical commentaries (both rishonim and secular).

    To further clarify the main thesis we identify the following 4 specific contributions of this paper to the existing literature:

  • PREVIOUS WORLDS-Peshat vs Midrash: There already exist sources indicating that there were "previous worlds" prior to our world.NOTE 3 The contribution of this paper is to demonstrate that this previous world theory is in fact the simple meaning of the Biblical text.NOTE 4

  • SUPERIOR SOUL vs PROPHECY: There exist sources indicating that Adam distinguished himself (possibly from other people) with a "superior soul".NOTE 5 The contribution of this paper is to specifically identify this superiority of soul with the attainment of a prophetic state. Adam was the first person to have an explicit prophetic revelation from God.NOTE 6


    The Bible clearly states that God issued prophetic orders and spoke to AdamNOTE 7 --in other words, he was a prophet. The contribution of this paper is to identify prophecy as the object of creation---in other words it is not the case that Genesis 1 informs us of the creation of the world and incidentally tells us that Adam was a prophet; rather Genesis 1 has as its goal to inform us that it was prophecy that was created.

  • SYMBOLISM: Analytic vs Poetic---A COMPREHENSIVE METHODOLOGY: Many approaches to Gen 1 use symbolic methods. These sources also usually discusscSymbols">= methodology---they analyze cultural occurrences of the symbol and its context in literature.NOTE 8 The contribution of this paper is to consistently use a comprehensive symbolic methodology: What are the universal criteria which require that a literary piece be interpreted symbolically? What are rules governing which of several competing symbolic interpretations should be selected? This in fact is the subject of the next section.

    A further difference between this paper and the literature is that while classically symbols are seen as intrinsically possesing a suggestive vague indefiniteness, a poetic mood that is disengaged from the symbol by a series of decipherings,NOTE 9 our approach emphasizes an operational-descriptive approach to symbols. Perhaps an example will clarify this: PoeNOTE 10; by contrast our approach to the similar"..seeing the thunder (Ex 20:15)" is that the word"seeing " denotes"general awareness ". In other words, while the symbolist is interested in extracting the maximal meaning and emotion from every symbol we are only interested in the minimal interpretation that is necessary. Still another perspective is that while the symbolist is interested in seeing"70 interpretations to every symbol " our approach is to identify the underlying commanality in these 70 interpretations. This underlying commanality can then be thought of as the"true meaning of the symbol " (without necessarily denying the added connotations of other interpretations). As indicated the presentation of this symbolic methodology is the subject of the next section.


    The purpose of this section is to present a comprehensive symbolic methodology. Although many authors have written on the subjectNOTE 11 we find Rav Hirsch'sNOTE 12 exposition the clearest. R Hirsch asked the following:

  • (Q1) What does the word symbol mean?

  • (Q2) Are we ever forced to interpret a Biblical commandment or narrative symbolically?

  • (Q3) What criteria must a literary narrative meet to necessitate symbolic interpretation?

  • (Q4) Given that a certain literary piece is interpreted symbolically what methods should be used

    to implement this symbolic interpretation.

    We now quickly summarize the answers to (Q1)-(Q4). We begin with (Q1), the definition of symbol.

    (Q1) Definition: A symbol is an

    -      activity or

    -      object

    such that the

    -      performance of this activity or

    -      the use of this object

    has as its goal, bringing to memory and awareness

    -       other activities or

    -       other acts.NOTE 13

    (Q2) Symbolic interpretation of Commandments: Rav Hirsch presents 3 classes of commandments which we are forced to interpret symbolically. The examples for these 3 classes are compactly summarized in table 1 which also contains relevant scriptural references.

    Class 1: We must interpret a Biblical commandment symbolically if God explicitly tells us that this commandment is a symbol and explicitly tells us what the symbol symbolizes. For example, observance of the Shabbath is declared to be a symbol; the Shabbath symbol reminds us of Gods creation in 6 days and his resting on the 7th. Similarly Tefillin is explicitly called a symbol whose goal is to remind us of Gods commandments and his saving us from Egypt

    Class 2: We infer from the definition of symbol that if God explicitly tells us that the goal of the performance of a commandment is to remind us of some concept then we must interpret that commandment as symbolic (even if it is not explicitly declared to be symbolic). For example, it is explicitly stated that the goal of Tzitzith is in order that you remember and do all of Gods commandments. Hence Tzitzith is a symbolic commandment.

    Class 3: Suppose a commandment meets the following two criteria

    (a) it deals with very deep and basic human emotions

    (b) it uses objects and procedures which throughout the Bible have clear and explicit symbolic meaning

    Then such a commandment is considered symbolic even if the Bible does not explicitly say it is symbolic and even if the Bible does not explicitly say that its goal is to bring about emotional states.

    As an example the sacrificial procedures

    (a) deal with very deep and basic human emotions such as guilt, atonement, satisfaction,NOTE 14 and

    (b) the sacrifices use objects and procedures that have clear symbolic meanings in the rest of the Bible such as blood (representing the soul), 5 animal types (representing 5 basic personality types NOTE 15 ) etc

  • Class

    Examples from commandments

    Examples from narratives

    How is symbolic nature indicated


    Circumcision (Gen 17:1-14), Tefillin (Ex 13:9,16), Sabbath(Ex 31:13))

    Like a panting Gazelle, I yearn for God (Ps 42:2)

    The Bible explicitly calls it a symbol (in Hebrew OTH) or uses the Hebrew letter CAPH , meaning like.


    Tzitzith (Nu 15:37-41)

    The almond vision (Jer 1:11-12) (The Almond ( ) symbolizes quickness ( ))

    Bible explicitly links an object with an activity. This linkage may be (a) linguistic or by (b) function ( c ) form or (d) other Biblical symbolic associations.



    Eccl 12 (Old age)

    A chapter contains a central theme and a host of many apparently unrelated activities. However these unrelated activities can be related to this central theme via (a) function (b) form ( c ) other Biblical symbolic associations

    The Vine in the Lily Psalm (Ps80)

    Animal coexistence vision (Isa 11)

    Table 1: Summary of the 3 classes of commandments or Biblical narrative that are interpreted symbolically. Further details may be found in the text.

    (Q3) Symbolic intepretation of narrative: Just as there are 3 classes of symbolic interpretation of commandments so too there are 3 classes of symbolic interpretation of narrative.

    Class 1: If a verse explicitly compares two objects using the Hebrew Letter prefix CAPH meaning "like" then we are forced to interpret the verse(s) symbolically. For example the verse Like a panting gazelle on streamlets so does my soul pant for you, God, clearly uses the panting for water of the gazelle as a symbol for the yearning for God by man. Using our definition of symbol we see that this symbolic association demands enriching our ordinary conception of yearning for God with all the characteristics of panting gazelles.NOTE 16

    Class 2: If the Bible mentions an object or procedure and then abruptly changes to a new topic with an associational or linguistic link to the first mentioned object or procedure then we are justified in interpreting the first mentioned object or procedure as symbolic of the second (even if the Bible did not explicitly use the Hebrew letter prefix, CAPH, For example, God showed Almond blossoms (The Hebrew Root ShKayD) to Jeremiah and then says to him,"you have seen well for I am hastening(( The Hebrew Root ShKayD)) to bring my prophecies. " The abrupt change from Almonds to a statement of hastening coupled with the linguistic association of almonds and hastening (both are meanings of the same root (The Hebrew Root ShKayD)) necessitates a symbolic interpretation.

    Class 3: If a Biblical chapter meets the following two criteria

    (a) the chapter indicates some central theme

    (b) the chapter then presents a sequence of statements using objects and procedures most of which have clear symbolic associations with the central theme via

    - linguistic associations

    - other symbolic associations elsewhere in the Bible

    - known basic facts about the objects and procedures mentioned (function and form).

    Then the chapter as a whole should be interpreted symbolically even though there is no explicit declaration of symbolic linkage and even though the object and central theme aren t explicitly related.

    Class 3 will be used to justify the assertion that Gen 1 must be interpreted symbolically. Therefore we carefully explore several examples.

    Example 1: Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:1 explicitly presents the following theme: Avoid doing what you want in your youth because you will pay for it(eventually). Therefore, because of this central theme, all commentators interpret Ecc 12:2-6 as referring to a symbolic description of old age. Thus the ceasing of flour grinders refers to loss of teeth, doors that can t open refers to constipation, shaking beams refers to bone problems, etcNOTE 17

    Example 2: The beautiful Lily Psalm (80) is a masterful example of a required symbolic interpretation without explicit symbolic declaration. In Ps 80:1-8 the Psalmist asks for Divine help for the nation. Then abruptly in Ps 80:9-12 the Psalmist speaks about the Egyptian vine that God planted. Finally in Ps 80:13-17 the Psalmist entreats God to save this vine which everyone is trampling. We are never explicitly told that the Egyptian vine symbolizes the Jews that God saved from Egypt; we also have no explicit linguistic link between the initial request to save the nation and the final request to save the vine. However, the central theme coupled with the description of a flowering vine that was trampled is clearly symbolic of Jewish history and necessitates symbolic interpretation.

    Example 3: The famous animal coexistence vision mentioned in the Isaiah-11-Messianic-prophecies clearly is a symbolic support of the central theme of peace in the Messianic times and necessitates symbolic interpretation of all the animals as representing types of nations, a frequent symbolic theme in the Bible.

    (Q4) How do we interpret symbols: Reviewing the examples presented in table 1 we see that if we have chosen to interpret a commandment or Biblical narrative symbolically then the method of implementing this symbolic interpretation is to use those

    -explicit symbolic associations found elsewhere in the Bible (e.g. Blood=soul;animal=personality)

    -linguistic associations (e.g. the Hebrew root ShKaYD means both Almond and quickly)

    -the object s function (e.g. flour grinders symbolize teeth, whose function is to grind)

    -the object s form( (e.g.shaking beams symbolize bone problems)

    In other words we use the Bibles own metaphors and the symbolism inherent in the Hebrew Language to interpret a Biblical symbol.

    In conclusion:: We have discussed a variety of methods by which to recognize the necessity of symbolic interpretation. The Biblical examples presented--the Lily Psalm, Ecclesiastes 12 and the animal coexistence messianic vision---clearly point to a need for underlying systematic methodology in understanding symbols. The above principles shed light on basic approaches to symbolic phenomena.


    Having established criteria for when symbolic interpretation is required let us now examine Genesis 1 using purely internal literary analysis (The contribution of commentators will be reviewed later). There are 3 primary stages in this analysis.

    Stage 1: In stage 1 we review about half a dozen phrases in Gen 1-6 which deter us from interpreting Gen 1 literally and require us to interpret Gen 1 as dealing with the creation of prophecy. These phrases are listed in Table 2 which should be self explanatory: Example a) the phrase "SPIRIT OF GOD" occuring in the verse (Gen 1:2) occurs 3 dozen times in the Bible and exclusively refers to a prophetic spirit of a person. By contrast the word "SPIRIT" can mean prophetic spirit or physical wind. Example b) The fact that the snake spoke suggests that the snake was human. Example c) The cities Kayin built for people suggests that other (non prophetic) people already existed. Other proofs presented in Table 2 are less forceful but are brought down for completeness: Example d) It is plausible to interpret Gen 2:19 as stating that God brought non prophetic women before Adam who had affairs with them but was unsatisfied till he met a prophetic woman. Example e) Had Gen 1 been describing a sequence of 7 days of creation of the physical world then it should have described these days using ordinal numbers---1st, 2nd, 3rd. Since however it uses the cardinal numbers ---day 1,2,3---it follows that the Bible is describing a set of days without any sequence being intrinsic to them. This is consistent with the viewpoint that half a dozen skill competencies are prerequisite to becoming a prophet and these skill competencies are presented in Gen 1. Although it is not clear what all these half a dozen skill competencies are we can easily recognize some of them such as (i) separation of one spiritual and physical lives(Monday)(ii) the capacity to endure the fire visions of prophecy(Wednesday) (iii) awareness of the herd type nations like Egypt that are against individuality (Thursday) Further details are exhibited in Tables 2 and 3.

    Stage 2: If we accept the implication of Table 2, then Gen 1 is speaking about the central theme, creation of prophecy. The many other verses in Gen 1 talk about a variety of topics and seem to be unrelated. But the presence of--- (a) a central theme and (b) a diverse collection of other unrelated items--- are precisely the criteria that Class 3 of Table 1 requires in order to impose a symbolic interpretation. In other words, our requirement to interpret Gen 1 symbolically is similar in methodology to our requirement to symbolically interpret the description of old age (Eccl12), the vine of the Lily Psalm or the animal coexistence Messianic vision.

    Stage 3: Having established a central theme of prophecy and a need to interpret Gen 1-3 as symbolic we need to create a symbol dictionary which takes key words in Gen 1 and interprets them symbolically in terms of prophecy. We have summarized the main results with supportive arguments in Table 3. Using Table 3 we could translate Gen 1 as follows:

    (1) Because of the choicest aspects of man God created (both) the spiritual and physical worlds, (2) But the physical world , had been (till now) confusing and annoying, darkness over an (emotional) jungle with however a pre-prophetic spirit hovering over (Adam s) emotions . (3) So God said,"Let there be the lights of prophecy ", and it was so..... (6)And God said let man separate his spiritual and physical urges . ..(7).and God helped man to separate his spiritual and physical emotions .....(14) And God said let there be the fire visions of prophecy...

    In the interests of space we have only translated a few selected verses with the kernel ideas presented in table 3. As already indicated the consequence of this symbolic interpretation is that Genesis 1 outlines the prerequisites for prophecy (each day gives one prerequisite)


    Biblical Phrase

    Why this phrase indicates creation of prophecy vs physical creation

    Spirit of God (Gen 1:2)

    The Biblical phrase "SPIRIT OF GOD"occurs 3 dozen times in Tnach & always refers to prophecy (unlike the Biblical word "SPIRIT" which can refer to physical wind)

    Speaking snake (Gen 3:1)

    Since the snake could speak we infer he was human (snake is symbolic of a slimy personality--animals frequently symbolize personalities in Tnach (cf Gen 49))

    Cities for people(Gen 4:17)

    This city of Kayin was apparently settled by non prophetic people.

    Use of the past perfect (Gen 1:2,5,10)

    The world had aleady been formless and void (Gen 1:2); God had already called the darkness night(Gen 1:5); God had already called the gatherings of water, seas(Gen 1:10)

    Creation of monsters(Gen 1:21)

    Rashi says (Gen 1:21) this refers to the Leviathan(Rashi learns this from the use of the verb !9" in Gen 1:21, a verb only used for highly spiritual creations (like the leviathan which is preserved for the messianic era)). If the monsters were just animals then the verbs %*% or %:3 should have been used as in the rest of the chapter

    Days 1,2,3 vs 1st Day,2nd Day ,3rd Day (cf Gen 1:5,8,12,19..)

    If Gen 1 described the sequence of creation in 7 days it should have used the language 1st, 2nd, 3rd..(cf Gen 32-17:19, Num 7-12:83, 2Chr25:9-31, Lev 23:1-44) Since however Gen 1 uses the language day 1,2,3 we infer that it perceives the 7 days of creations as a set of non sequential tasks that are prerequisites for the creation of prophecy (cf Ex 28:17-20,

    Gen 2:11-14, Gen 1:1-35 for use of the style one, two, three to refer to a set)

    Adams affairs

    From the language this time I finally found it (Gen 2:23 Rashi) we infer that Adam had affairs with non prophetic women (called animals). Similarly the language and Adam knew his wife again (Gen 4:25) suggests a period of separation during which he liasoned with non prophetic women

    Table 2: A list of phrases in Gen 1-4 that are more naturally interpreted symbolically as dealing with the creation of prophecy and the previous existence of humans Further examples may be found in the text.

    Thus far we have used a purely internal literary approach. We quickly review the opinions of major commentators. Rashi in about half a dozen placesNOTE 18 explicitly uses the prophetic symbolism idea. The Rambans emphasis on Gen 1:1 as dealing with the creation the Divine emanations or prophecy is well known. The Talmud refers to Gen 1 as the Works of Creation which according to several Rishonim refers to Gods great name (prophetic matters).NOTE 19 Maimonidees in his great legal code explicitly identifies the Work of Creation with prophecy and the commandments to love and fear God. Although Rambam s commentary on the Mishnah seems to contradict this the suggestion has been made that Rambam did not literally believe in Greek science but used the language of Greek science metaphorically to speak about spiritual matters.NOTE 20

    Day of Week

    What was created


    References supporting the symbolism

    Related terms with similar meanings




    Isa 66:22

    above the firmament



    Isa 66:22

    dust, earth


    fire visions

    Ps4:7,104:2,Prv 6:23,Isa 60:19

    light, fire, sun, stars


    no dreams







    Types of emotions

    Isa 57:20, Ps 124:5,

    higher emotions (above firmament);lower(physical) emotions


    plant world

    Variety of people

    Ps80, Dt 20:20,(also the Lulav and ethrog symbolically represent types of people)





    Fire visions

    Ez1:13, Dt4:24

    light, fire, sun, stars



    Herd like nations






    Non prophetic man










    Masculine personality






    Female personality





    Table 3: A list of terms in Genesis 1 which must be interpreted symbolically in order to implement the symbolic interpretation of Genesis 1. Some of the above associations, such as the symbolism of prophecy by fire, are strong. By contrast, eg the symbolism of personality types by plants may be considered a weak association. Nevertheless our surety on the symbolic nature of Genesis 1 is not marred by our inability to interpret all items in Genesis 1. An analogy would be Ecclesiastees 12 (Class 3 of table 1). Just as all commentators agree that Ecclesiastees 12 is symbolic even though there is no concensus on how each item should be interpreted so too we can have surety on the symbolic nature of Genesis 1 even though there is no surety on how each item should be interpreted.



    The orthodox-conservative dialog: Besides aiding the interpretation of Gen 1, creation-of-prophecy is a useful concept in understanding many other commandments: a) sacrifices with their rich fire symbolism can be seen as a means of achieving prophecy (cf Bilam s use of sacrifices in Nu 23), b) the aspirations for the Messiah include the request for renewal of prophecy, c) even the blessings of the shma can be seen as a request to renew the the lights of prophecy vs the darkness of raw phyicality. Such a perspective allows a new dialog between the orthodox and conservative/reform. For example, sacrifices when viewed as a means to achieving prophecy would allow non orthodox movement to praying for the renewal of prophecy and related procedures.

    The science religion dialog of today: Currently religion s tone is one of assertive defense: Although science has proven that the world is 20 billion years nevertheless it is possible to make this consistent with Genesis 1. By contrast I am suggesting a new, vigorous non-defensive tone: Science has shown the richness in the physical universe which is 20 billion years old. By contrast religion has shown us the existence of prophecy that lies outside of time, space and the universe. The Bible is helping us achieve a Messianic world where prophetic status will be commonplace.

    Future directions of research: It is possible to apply the symbolic methodology of this article to other difficult Judaic areas such as the symbolic interpretation of many Agaddic Talmudic passages. Such an approach should yield many productive insights.

    The fundamental tenets of faith: Gen 1:1 explicitly states that God created both the spiritual and physical worlds. Hence even if we interpret Gen 1 symbolically it is still a fundamental tenet of faith that God created and owns the physical world

    Renewal of Prophecy: Although I do not expect an immediate renewal of prophecy nevertheless Genesis 1 contains a collection of skill competencies needed for renewal of prophecy. Some of these skill competencies, such as the separation of the physical and spiritual (Day 2) can benefit everybody independent of achieving prophetic status.

    Why has this approach been overlooked? What happens to the existing literature?: I would speculate that the post Galileo science-religion conflict created an atmosphere which necessitated science to deliberately disagree with religion in order for science to achieve independence. Perhaps this atmosphere biased peoples thinkings towards interpretations of Genesis 1 that conflicted with science. Nevertheless the existing Gen-1-science literature is relevant to (a) appreciating God grandeur, (b) understanding Gods promise to Abraham to multiply his progeny like the stars, ( c ) gaining insights into mystical references to the Big Bang theory, (d ) understanding our roots.



    NOTE 1 Some recent and classical references on this subject are a)Rabbi David Brown, The Mysteries of Creation. (Nanuet-Jerusalem: Targum Press-Feldheim, 1997) b)Gerald L Schroeder, Genesis and The Big Bang: The Discovery of Harmony Between Modern Science and the Bible. (NY: Bantam Books, 1990) c) Leo Levi, Torah and Science: Their Interplay in the World Scheme (pp 101-119). (Jerusalem-New Jersey: Feldheim, 5743 (1982)) d) Judah Landau, Torah and Science (pp 263-350) (Hoboken New Jersey: Ktav Publishing Company, 1991) e) Nathan Aviezer, In the Beginning: Biblical Creation and Science (Hoboken New Jersey: Ktav Publishing House, 1990)

    NOTE 2 The thesis that Genesis 1 speaks about the creation of Prophecy, not the creation of the world, was first introduced and extensively discussed on the E-mail group, Torah Forum, part of Project Genesis at, hosted by Rabbis Menkin, Lobel and Dr. Tendler. This thesis was first suggested by me in Volume 3, Number 56 (August 7, 1997), and reposted in Volume 4, Number 11( May 26, 1998). Several of the ideas in this paper were developed in the discussion that took place in Volume 4, Numbers 24-65, (August-1998 thru February 1999).

    NOTE 3 Gen Rabbah 3:7 "God created and destroyed worlds, none of which he liked, till he found this one (which he liked) "

    NOTE 4 The Soncino Translation to the Zohar 16a (London: Soncino Press, 1978) derives this from the continuous use of the past perfect in Genesis 1:1-5-- "But the world had already been formless and void....and He called the light day but he darkness he had already called night... " As far as I can tell this grammatical observation is not in the original Zohar.

    NOTE 5 The Ramban on Gen 1:26-27 seems to suggest the "superior soul " theory. This superior-soul theory can be combined with the previous-world theory to suggest that other people existed but Adam distinguished himself with a superior soul.

    NOTE 6 This will be thoroughly discussed later in the paper. For the moment we note that a strong proof that Gen 1 talks about the creation of prophecy comes from the Biblical Phrase "SPIRIT OF GOD" (Gen 1:2) which always refers to prophecy in the Bible.

    NOTE 7: Gen 2:16, Gen 3:9

    NOTE 8 (a) For a recent Jewish symbolic approach to Gen 1 see Shubert Spero, "The Biblical Stories of Creation Garden of Eden and the Flood, History or Metaphor " in Tradition 33 (1999), pages 5-18. Spero acknowledges that one must supply reasons or justification for doing so(using symbolism) but does not use a comprehensive methodology. However his basic arguments justifying the use of symbolism are often anecdotal. e.g. If the fruit bestows knowledge of good and evil it is not real or Torah is a book of instruction; if it does not instruct but mystifies and obfuscates then one should look beyond the literal. (b) A classical Christian symbolic work is Emanuel Swedenborg(Anita S Dole Translator), Bible Study Notes, Genesis, (West Chester ,PA: TheSwedenborg Foundation, 1999) (Available in English at

    NOTE 9 Eg a)Lloyd Austin, Poetic Principles and Practice: Occasional papers on Baudelaire, Mallarme and Valery, pages 67-98. (NY, CambridgeShire: Cambridge University Press, 1987) or b) Arthur Symons, Symbolist Movement in Literature, 2nd Edition. (London: Constable, 1911)

    NOTE 10 Cf Edmund Wilson, Axel s Castle: A Study in the Imaginative Literature of 1870-1930. Pages 1-25 (NY London: C Scribners Sons, 1931)

    NOTE 11 Eg a) Tzvetan Todorov (Catherine Porter, Translator), Symbolism and Interpretation. (Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press, 1982). This book has certain strategms not explicitly mentioned by Rav Hirsch such as emphasis (in symbolism) on nouns, number and technical nouns or the hierarchy of meaning.. However most of the other methods mentioned--the rule of pertinence, contradiction, discontinuity, superfluity, implausibility, inappropriateness, ambiguity (syntanctic, semantic, pragmatic), logical structure, evocation, unity, concordance etc occur in Hirsch. b)Maurice Farbridge, Biblical and Semitic Symbolism. (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, and Trubner & Co. Ltd, 1923).This book emphasizes linguistic methods and cultural meanings of acts

    NOTE 12 Rav Hirsch s essay, "Grundlinien Einer Judischen Symbolik", first appeared in German, in his Gesammelte Schriften, edited by J Kauffmann, Frankfurt on Maine,1902. For an English Translation see Jacob Breuer, "Groundlines for a Jewish Symbolism" in TimeLess Torah, An Anthology of the Writings of Rabbi S.R.Hirsch. (NY: Samson Raphael Hirsch Publication Society, Feldheim, 1957). The complete collected works have also been translated into English in , Collected Writings of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Volume 3, pp 3-61, (NY: Samson Raphael Hirsch Publication Society, Feldheim, 1984)

    NOTE 13: For purposes of this essay we avoid discussing the fascinating issue of the difference between sign, symbol, parable, and myth. As already indicated our definition of symbol is operational and as such we avoid the issues of emotion, evocation and ambiguity raised so beautifally by the symbolist school (See the referenc

    NOTE 14 Eg Lev 4:26,31,35 (atonement emotions) Lev 5:5,18-19 (guilt emotions), Lev 7:12 (Thanksgiving emotions)

    NOTE 15 Eg See Lev 17:14 (blood=soul), Gen 49 (Animals=Personality types).

    NOTE 16 Since our symbolic goals are minimal interpretation we therefore suffice with the observation that we yearn for God the same way a Gazelle yearns for water. By contrast a symbolist (or midrashist) might add to this minimal interpretation various facets about how actual gazelles seek water which would enrich our understanding of the symbol (and of our religiousity).

    NOTE 17 The careful reader may have doubts about classifying this interpretation as "the true simple meaning of the text" . However our real point is that what is true and simple is that "Eccl 12 talks symbolically about old age; each of the events mentioned--non opening doors, ceasing of grinders..--refers to some obvious cessation of body function". I believe this approach will cause no difficulty.

    NOTE 18 cf. especially Gen 1:1, 1:4, 1:21, 1:31, 2:6, 3:1 A more thorough treatment would require analyzing those Rashis that seem to speak about the creation of the physical world. We however suffice with the above. Further details may be found on the Rashi Website at which is updated regularly with new verses.

    NOTE 19 Talmud Chagigah 11b. See the Tosafoth thereon which identifies Genesis 1 with the Divine name of 42 letters. Rav Ovadia of Bartenura and the Tifereth Yisrael(Mishnaic commentaries) interpret similarly. The Meiri however interprets the Works of Creation as "natural law"

    NOTE 20: Although in his commentary on the Mishnah Rambam interprets "work of creation"(in Chagigah 11b) "as natural law" nevertheless in the Mishneh Torah, Foundations of Torah Chapters 1-4 the Rambam clearly identifies the Work of Creation and Chariot as dealing with "spiritual commandments to Love and Fear God" (cf 4:10,11,13). Rambam also in 3:9, 4:9 explicitly follows R Saadya Gaon and others in asserting that the stars are angelic like beings who do not die (e.g. Like Serach daughter of Asher). For a harmonizing of Rambams 2 views see Rabbi Eliyahu Touger (Translator), Mishneh Torah, Hilcoth Yesodei HaTorah, (Brooklyn NY: Moznaim Publishing Corporation, 1989) "The Rambam is describing "Maaseh Bereshit" which is as the Kabbalists maintain the knowledge of the mystic forces invested within creation. However following the principle that the Torah spoke in the language of man he explains these mystic concepts in terminology which resembles but is not identical to the scientific terminology which was current in his time (ie Greek Science)"