Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Spirit and the Dove

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.
Genesis 1:2

"The rabbinic interpretation of Genesis 1:2 was that the Spirit of God moved (or brooded) upon the face of the waters “like a dove.” With the Jewish mindset already associating the Holy Spirit with a dove, it was quite natural for God to use that motif in the revelation of the Holy Spirit.

The spiritual Jewish thought of that day would immediately draw a connection between the Spirit descending like a dove upon the Son (as the Gospels describe Jesus' baptism) and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, as depicted in Isaiah 61:1-3."



  1. Donna - Yesterday I posted on Belemnites and Thunderbolts which included a quote by Hugh W. Nibley on Genesis 1:2. Specifically, he wrote: "He tells the assembly that he is about to send a flood and that all things, are to return to the primal ḥuḥu of the great waters of Nun, even as it was before the creation, in the beginning. Ḥuḥu is the primordial chaos, the tōhû-wā-bōhû of Genesis 1:2."

    In this quote, I assume he is referring to the phrase "face of the deep" and/or "the face of the waters" mentioned above.

    I know that chaos is often associated with bodies of water. Is it correct then that the Spirit of God was an organizing agent? Just a question I had when I read your post. Thanks,


  2. I would certainly think that "organizing agent" is a good way to put it. I have seen several Hebrew commentaries that compare the Spirit of God in the creation story of Genesis to a mother bird brooding over her eggs in order to bring them to full life and development. Kind of a different image than you'd expect for a "water" verse, but it works on a symbolic level.