Let the Waters Wait

As it turns out, there’s a big clue to what’s really going on in Genesis 1, and it’s been obscured in the traditional translation of a certain word (qavah) in Genesis 1:9.  Here’s the passage below in various translations.  Note the widespread agreement as to how it should be translated, and then after these passages, I’ll show you how the word is translated quite differently from this in every one of the other 48 times it appears in the Old Testament! :

And God said, “Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so.

And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place [of standing, pooling together], and let the dry land appear”; and it was so.
And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be collected into one place [of standing], and let the dry land appear. And it was so.
¶ And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
Then God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so.
God said, “Let the waters under the sky come together into one place so that the dry land can appear.” And that’s what happened.
God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let dry land appear,” and that is how it was.
God said, “I command the water under the sky to come together in one place, so there will be dry ground.” And that’s what happened.
And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together to one place, and let the dry [land] appear. And it was so.
God also said: Let the waters that are under the heaven, be gathered together into one place: and let the dry land appear. And it was so done.
Then God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered together so that the dry land will appear.” And it happened.
And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so.
And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so.
Then God said, “Let the water under the ·sky [heavens] be gathered together so the dry land will appear.” And it happened.
¶ God said again, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
Then God said, “Let the water under the sky come together in one area, and let the dry land appear.” And so it was.
Then God commanded, “Let the water below the sky come together in one place, so that the land will appear”—and it was done.
Then God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so.
Then God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered together so the dry land will appear.” And it happened.
Then God said, “Let the water beneath the sky come together into one area, and let dry ground appear!” And that is what happened:
¶ And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear; and it was so.
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God said, “Let the waters under heaven be gathered to one place, and let the dry ground appear.” And it was so.
Then God said, “Let the water beneath the sky be gathered into oceans so that the dry land will emerge.” And so it was. Then God named the dry land “earth,” and the water “seas.” And God was pleased.
God spoke: “Separate! Water-beneath-Heaven, gather into one place; Land, appear!” And there it was. God named the land Earth. He named the pooled water Ocean. God saw that it was good.
Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so.
Then Elohim said, “Let the water under the sky come together in one area, and let the dry land appear.” And so it was.
Then God said: Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin, so that the dry land may appear. And so it happened: the water under the sky was gathered into its basin, and the dry land appeared.
Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so.
Then God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered together so the dry land will appear.” And it happened.
God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place and let dry ground appear.” It was so.
God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered into one place. Let dry ground appear.” And that’s exactly what happened.
And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so.
And God said, ‘Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.’ And it was so.
Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so.
Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered into one place. Let the dry land be seen.” And it was so.
Then God said, “Let the waters beneath the sky flow together into one place, so dry ground may appear.” And that is what happened.
And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so.
And God said, ‘Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so.
And God said, ‘Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so.
And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so.
And Elohim said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the yabashah (dry land) appear; and it was so.
And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so.
And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so.
Then God said, “Let the water below the sky be gathered to one place. Let the dry ground appear.” And it happened so.
God: Let the waters below the heavens be collected into one place and congregate into one vast sea, so that dry land may appear. It happened just as God said.
God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together to one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so.
Forsooth God said, The waters, that be under (the) heaven(s), be gathered into one place, and a dry place appear; and it was done so.
And God saith, `Let the waters under the heavens be collected unto one place, and let the dry land be seen:’ and it is so.
JPS
Let the water below the sky be gathered into one area.
The word in question is qavah (קָוָה).  You can read all about it here.  The word occurs 49 times in 45 verses in the Old Testament, and not counting this present passage (Genesis 1:9), only once is qavah not  translated as to wait, expect, look for, etc.   The one exception is Jeremiah 3:17 (in red below).  Here are those passages, all in the KJV, where that usage is quite obvious:

Gen 49:18  I have waitedfor H6960 thy salvation, O LORD.

Job 3:9  Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark; let it look H6960for light, but have none; neither let it see the dawning of the day:

Job 6:19  The troops of Tema looked, the companies of Sheba waited H6960for them.

Job 7:2  As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow, and as an hireling looketh H6960for the reward of his work:

Job 17:13  If I waitH6960 the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness.

Job 30:26  When I looked H6960for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for light, there came darkness.

Psa 25:3  Yea, let none that wait H6960on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.

Psa 25:5  Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait H6960 all the day.

Psa 25:21  Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait H6960on thee.

Psa 27:14Wait H6960on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, H6960 I say, on the LORD.

Psa 37:9  For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait H6960upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.

Psa 37:34Wait H6960 on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.

Psa 39:7  And now, Lord, what wait H6960 I for? my hope is in thee.

Psa 40:1  [[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.]] I waited H6960 patiently H6960 for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.

Psa 52:9  I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait H6960on thy name; for it is good before thy saints.

Psa 56:6  They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, they mark my steps, when they wait H6960for my soul.

Psa 69:6  Let not them that wait H6960on thee, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel.

Psa 69:20  Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked H6960for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.

Psa 119:95  The wicked have waited H6960for me to destroy me: but I will consider thy testimonies.

Psa 130:5  I wait H6960for the LORD, my soul doth wait, H6960 and in his word do I hope.

Pro 20:22 Say not thou, I will recompense evil; butwait onH6960 the LORD, and he shall save thee.

Isa 5:2  And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked H6960 that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.

Isa 5:4  What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked H6960 that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?

Isa 5:7  For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked H6960for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.

Isa 8:17  And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look H6960for him.

Isa 25:9  And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited H6960for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited H6960 for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

Isa 26:8  Yea, in the way of thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited H6960for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee.

Isa 33:2  O LORD, be gracious unto us; we have waited H6960for thee: be thou their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.

Isa 40:31  But they that wait H6960upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Isa 49:23  And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait H6960for me.

Isa 51:5  My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait H6960upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust.

Isa 59:9  Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait H6960for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.

Isa 59:11  We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look H6960for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us.

Isa 60:9  Surely the isles shall wait H6960for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the LORD thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee.

Isa 64:3  When thou didst terrible things which we looked H6960 not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence.

Jer 3:17 At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered H6960unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.

Jer 8:15  We looked H6960for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble!

Jer 13:16  Give glory to the LORD your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look H6960for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.

Jer 14:19  Hast thou utterly rejected Judah? hath thy soul lothed Zion? why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing for us? we looked H6960for peace, and there is no good; and for the time of healing, and behold trouble!

Jer 14:22  Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait H6960upon thee: for thou hast made all these things.

Lam 2:16  All thine enemies have opened their mouth against thee: they hiss and gnash the teeth: they say, We have swallowed her up: certainly this is the day that we looked forH6960 we have found, we have seen it.

Lam 3:25  The LORD is good unto them that wait H6960for him, to the soul that seeketh him.

Hos 12:6  Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait H6960on thy God continually.

Mic 5:7  And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth H6960 not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men.

Now, perhaps you think I am cherry picking by showing you only the King James for this qavah passages.  So let’s do some spot checking to see how the other translations handle a few of these passages similarly to the KJV.  This is a tedious exercise, so to save space, I’m just going to give you hyperlinks for the first five passages on the list above so that you can see the various translations at BibleGateway.com

Genesis 49:18

Job 3:9

Job 6:19

Job 7:2

Now, regarding the use of qavah in Genesis 1:9, we should check how it is rendered in the Septuagint.  Here it is.

1:9 καὶ εἶπεν ὁ θεός συναχθήτω τὸ ὕδωρ τὸ ὑποκάτω τοῦ οὐρανοῦ εἰς συναγωγὴν μίαν καὶ ὀφθήτω ἡ ξηρά καὶ ἐγένετο οὕτως καὶ συνήχθη τὸ ὕδωρ τὸ ὑποκάτω τοῦ οὐρανοῦ εἰς τὰς συναγωγὰς αὐτῶν καὶ ὤφθη ἡ ξηρά

The word here is συναγωγὴν.  It’s root will look familiar when transliterated:  synagōgē.  It’s the word we know as “synagogue” from these passages in the New Testament.  (Scroll down at that link to find all the passages wherein the word is used.)

Some, of course, will look no further than this Septuagint rendering of qavah as synagogue to argue that the translation of qavah in Genesis 1:9 as “gathered together” is perfectly reasonable.  They will offer as additional support the common rendering of Jeremiah 3:17 as “be gathered” or “come to”, etc.  They will say that that makes two instances in which the idea of gathering is the proper one.  But should the idea of waiting be completely dismissed from qavah in these two instances?  That is, should we discount the other 47 times it is used–in which it obviously means “to wait for”?

Indeed, were not the synagogues supposed to be “waiting for” the Messiah?  Was not Jesus’ ekklesia “waiting for” his return?  Is not “wait for the Lord” a common idea, both in the scriptures and in the Christian experience/practice?  Yes, on all counts.

Now, regarding the exception of Jeremiah 3:17, and how qavah is rendered as “gathered together” there, I note that what was to be gathered was people.  And that, of course, is what I think was “gathered together into one place” in Genesis 1:9.  It was beings—of what sort we are not told.  They were figuratively called “waters” and they were set aside to make room for “the dry land”.  They were set aside to wait—and that assembly of them was called “Sea” or “Seas”.  And at the end of the story, we see that “the see was no more.”

Revelation 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

I contend that those beings who were called the “sea” were made to “wait” from Genesis 1:9, until they would eventually be put away by God for good.  The following passage, I believe, shows what they had been waiting for:

Revelation 20:13  And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

These were, I believe, the spirits of beings that died at or prior to the events of Genesis 1, and who were made to “wait” for their judgment.  That waiting should not surprise us much, for humans were also forced to wait after their deaths in Sheol/Hades, until such time as they, too, would be judged and granted their eternal reward, whether good or bad.  In the case of humans, their bodies did not go to Sheol/Hades, but their spirits.  And that is what I believe is being described in Genesis 1 regarding these beings, these “waters below”.  They had to wait for their judgment.  And they were not the only ones, for even Jesus had to wait for it:

Hebrews 10:12  But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.

AM I ALONE?

Am I the only one ever to notice this “waiting” idea of Genesis 1:9?  No.
Here’s an author quoting the Midrash thus:
The Midrash (Bereshith Rabbah 5:1) says that the verse…Let the waters be gathered (Genesis 1:9) also means Let the waters wait.
You can read that discussion here.  This idea of the waters waiting has been explicitly on the record, therefore, since the Midrash was written (circa 300-500 AD).  Interestingly, in the link provided at the beginning of this paragraph, you’ll see a discussion of those waters waiting, not for their judgment, but to be poured out as a judgment upon the world—and not just once.  That’s outside the scope of this present post, mind you, but it’s worth mentioning as it most certainly broadens the scope of this subject.  That is, if God’s view of those waters from the very beginning was not merely one of creating the world’s oceans to do what oceans do, but of creating an impending catastrophe to be unleashed on unruly mankind (or on the Nephilim), then this is yet another reason to snatch our view of Genesis 1 away from that tired tradition of the creation of the Universe into that of a riveting chapter that  not only follows a major cataclysm of some sort, but that foreshadows more of the same.

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