Into the Void

Formless & Void
Photo Source: Footnotes to Plato

The earth was formless and void… ~Genesis 1:2A

We know that in the beginning the earth was without form, a wasteland, a place most would pass over as useless. We know that God’s Spirit, rather than abandoning the whole mess, hovered there–watching and waiting to make His move. Don’t you ever wonder why the author of the Bible uses two words that seem to mean the same thing: Formless AND Void?

Using the same method as last time (Strong’s Concordance with Hebrew Dictionary), let’s find out just how similar are the words, formless and void.

According to Strong’s, the Hebrew word for void is bohuw (pronounced bo’-hoo). Already I see something interesting. Remember, the Hebrew word for formless is tohuw. Clearly we will find some similarity between the words. In fact, they may be fraternal twins. Let’s find out.

Bohuw comes “from an unused root word meaning to be empty; a vacuity…superficially an undistinguishable ruin.” [1] According to Strong, this word can be translated emptiness or void.

Hmmm…it really isn’t that different from formless, so there is either a subtle and important difference between the two, or the author of this book (most scholars believe it was Moses) wanted to emphasize the very state of things at this crucial point in the beginning.

One thing I might suggest is to click the following word links to find the other occurrences of these Hebrew words in the Old Testament. As you read them, allow what you read to inform the sights and sounds of these beginning stages of earth’s development.

Strong’s Numbers (online source) gives us two other occurrences of bohuw and twenty of tohuw.

Once you’ve taken a look, let me know why you think Moses used both words to describe what God showed him about the beginning.

In Peace & Joy,


[1] James Strong, Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary,* (New Jersey: James Strong, 1890), 19.

*Disclosure: This link is an affiliate link.


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