Without Form

"Conception" copyright Victor Bregeda. All rights reserved.

Last time, I introduced Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. Did you go out and buy your copy? If so, pick it up with me and find “formless” with me. If not, no need to fret. You can jump over to Strong’s website and find it.

In the NASB, the translators chose the words “formless” and “void” to describe the state of earth at the beginning; whereas, the KJV rendering uses the words “without form” and “void.” Since I have Strong’s based on KJV, I look up the word “form” and find the number 8414.

Now that we have the number, we can look it up in the Hebrew dictionary. Again, if you don’t have a hard copy, Strong’s website offers an abbreviated list of definitions.

When I look up the number, I find the Hebrew primitive root word tohuw, (pronounced to’-hoo). Root words are the trunk from which word families grow. With this word, we cut right to the source.

At this point, it’s important to look at the definitions and translatable synonyms within the context of the passage we’re interrogating. One way to do this is to read the passage several times before looking up the words. Another way is to use your imagination to place yourself in the scene.

In this case, imagine again the Spirit of God hovering over the earth in its preformed state. Remember as you read the following list, we’re on a quest to find the richest words, the sounds, the feel of the moment:

To lie waste; a desolation (of surface); i.e. a desert; figuratively a worthless thing.

Immediately a picture forms. This is an abandoned place. This is the outback…a place where no one goes unless they’ve been called to go there. Very few people will notice anything of value here. I can hear the developers now:

“Can’t build here. Nothing will grow. No one will buy.”

Juxtaposed to this scene, we have God who sees something entirely different. Rather than abandoning it, He chooses to hover over like a mother hen watches over her nest of eggs. What does He see that the others cannot see?

That alone is sufficient cause to worship. Let’s see what else we can discover by digging deeper into the word. Here is a list of translatable synonyms:

confusion, empty place, without form, nothing, (thing of) nought, vain, vanity, waste, wilderness

This list reminds me of my own thoughts today. Confusion feels bad to me. I like to know exactly what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. I don’t like aimless wondering and wandering, yet many of my days feel exactly like the nothingness described in this list.

What a relief it is to know that when God encounters wilderness, He hovers there and dreams (Isaiah 35). He hovers over the vast wasteland of my purpose, my destiny, my mundane moments. And my mind returns once again to center: To the sounds of children happily playing in the other room, to the birdsong floating in through the open window, to the steady clacking of keys spelling out words.

And with this image firmly rooted in my mind, I breathe in peace.

Will you take a minute to let me know which word in this list allows you to breathe in peace today?

In Peace & Joy,



Strong’s Concordance

"Press Papier" Copyright Vladimir Kush. All Rights Reserved.

Let’s talk about words for a few minutes, since that is what it is all about anyway! The original text of Genesis springs forth from the rich language of the Hebrew people. Hebrew is a beautiful and fascinating language. Though I would never profess to be a Hebrew scholar on any level, I do frequently use Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible*, one of my all-time favorite study tools, to look deep into the ancient language to find greater depth and understanding of the words in the Bible.

I have what I believe is the original version (or near to it), which is navy blue and includes the Hebrew, Chaldee, and Greek Dictionaries. I found this at a yard sale for $5 several years ago, and it has become one of my greatest treasures. However, if you are new to studying the Bible in the ways I will be teaching, I recommend purchasing one of the newer versions, as my version has a few formatting issues and cuts off the numbers sometimes.

In addition, the older version is heavy and cumbersome, and it is keyed to the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, which is not ideal for in-depth study. The King James Version (KJV) of the Bible is primarily a poetic rendering (version) of the text, and most of the Bible scholars I’ve met or read, including Kay Arthur, recommend using the New American Standard Bible (NASB) for study, as it is a more literal word-for-word translation.

Strong’s has a website, which does include the numbers for every word in the Old and New Testaments, as well as abbreviated Hebrew and Greek dictionaries. However, having been spoiled by my full dictionaries, I’m rarely satisfied with the definitions they offer on their site. The only time I refer to them is when the numbers aren’t printed in my hardcover version. Once I get the number, I return to my hardcover Strong’s Dictionary to look it up. However, just like Blue Letter Bible, Strong’s does offer a search function which allows you to search for words in the Biblical texts across many different translations, and I do often use it for word studies.

In coming posts, I will demonstrate how to use Strong’s Concordance to mine the depths of the Hebrew words in Genesis 1.

Until then, I leave you with these words to ponder:

Formless and Void

I’d love to hear what images these words evoke for you. Leave me a comment with your thoughts.

In Peace & Joy,


*I have an associative account with Amazon, so if you would like to purchase one of the books I recommend, I would very much appreciate if you would consider doing so through the links I provide on my post. Amazon will share a little of their profits with me, and I will be able to put food on the table with my passion for writing.