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Parashat Bereshit

פרשת בראשית

ספר בראשית

"[When,] in the beginning [of]"

The first portion of the readings of the Pentateuch takes its title from the first verse: “When, in the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth... In this portion we find the creation of the world and of the humans, their relation with God, the events regarding the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the exile from the Paradise, Hevel’s death by the hands of his brother Kain, the continuity of Adam's offspring through Shet, the iniquity of people and Noach, who finds favor in the eyes of the Creator.

What does it mean, Bereshit?

Bereshit has been rendered "in the begining" for a long time, but this sentence doesn't really gives away the right meaning. The best way to translate it is "In the begining of God's creation of heaven and earth" or "When God began creating heaven and earth".

Comparative literature

The whole biblical myth of creation echoes the literature of the Ancient Near East. Tehom might be a reminiscent of Tiamat, Mesopotamian goddess of the sea who is defeated by Marduk. The flood is depicted all across the globe and a story very close to the biblical one can be read in Sumerian, where the main character's name is Ziusudra and Atra-Hasis or Utnapishtim in early and late Akkadian respectively.

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