Sacred, Set-Apart Space


The Creative Activity of Elohim:

Genesis 1 is the description of the creative activity of a being called אֱלֹהִים or “elohim” or, as we commonly put it in English — God.  The creative act of these personages [I favor the plural because “elohim” is a plural noun] is characterized by:

  • acting via speaking
  • creating via “bara” — which is division or separation
  • forming man and woman simultaneously
  • culminating their creation with the separation of Saturday from all other days [Sabbath]

which can be contrasted to the creative activity in Genesis 2 of a being called יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהִים or “YHVH god” — the LORD God, who:

  • acted hands-on — forming from dirt, breathing into things, watering the ground, etc.
  • formed man as His image, and formed woman as an appendage to man

Setting Aside a Sacred Portion or Sacred Period:

It is believed that Genesis 1 was written by/for the priestly class of Israel — where Gods’ creative action [in Genesis 1] consists of dividing, containing, and separating.  The priests believed their role in Israeli society was defined by their separation [קֹדֶשׁ or “kodesh“] from the other tribes — in the same way that the larger nation believed their role in the larger family of nations to be defined through their separation from “the others”, their peculiarity or holiness.

So — when we look through Genesis 1, we see that there is a primordial darkness that exists that the Gods did not create.  Rather, in the text, They contain it.  So that after introducing “Light” — Day is created as a space that’s been cleared within the primeval darkness.  Likewise, “waters” appear in Genesis 1 as a pre-existent element that were not created, but were contained/restrained within certain bounds through the introduction of the ordered “Dry Land” within the chaos that was “The Deep”.  And just as “Light” is a space cleared within the infinitely existing “darkness” — so to is “Time” a space cleared within eternity by Gods’ chronometers:  the sun, moon, planets, and stars.

Regular, everyday existence for people can often feel flat or 1-dimentional when an essence of a separate/sacred ritual space is not present.  A “disenchanted” feeling emerges when we don’t allow space for “sacred” time and “sacred” spaces.  The basic idea of “sacred” — or “holy” — is the idea of an off-limits, walled-off portion that isn’t allowed the same degree of free-access as the “profane” [the regular, the common].

So it is important that we, as the elohim of our own daily narratives and lives, enter into our profane, material existence [into our own darkness and chaotic “troubled waters”] and “bara” us some sacred space and some sacred time — some periods for set-apart activity — some holy habits.

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