Genesis 1:2 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 1:2, NIV: "Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters."

Genesis 1:2, ESV: "The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters."

Genesis 1:2, KJV: "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."

Genesis 1:2, NASB: "And the earth was a formless and desolate emptiness, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters."

Genesis 1:2, NLT: "The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters."

Genesis 1:2, CSB: "Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters."

What does Genesis 1:2 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Genesis 1:1 announced that God created everything: "the heavens and the earth." Verse 2 begins to describe the process of that creation.

According to this text, the earth was empty and literally in chaos. The Hebrew words used here are tōhu and bōhu, translated as "formless" and "void." Segments of Bible scholarship disagree about whether this "formlessness" was the state of the earth immediately after the initial creation, or the result of some events between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. In either case, at this point in the story, the earth is covered with deep waters. A darkness was over the surface, and the Spirit of God was over the waters.

Why darkness? Light will not be created until the following verse. There can be only darkness at this point. Still, God's Spirit is moving in this darkness. God is preparing to speak, to act with great power to bring order and light to this chaos.