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Names of things that we commonly know today often originated in a roundabout way. The English word Genesis is derived from a Greek word meaning origin, or beginning. The Greek word is itself a translation of the Hebrew word (pronounced) ray-sheeth which also means origin, or beginning. The first usage of ray-sheeth is the "In the beginning" of Genesis 1:1 - from the Hebrew word for beginning came the Greek equivalent for it, from which came the English word (today's English language has only existed for about 1,000 years, having evolved from earlier Germanic languages, while Hebrew and Greek have existed far longer) that is used, by English speaking people, for the entire first book of the Bible.


Hebrew and Greek The first usage of ray-sheeth was Genesis 1:1 (the Bible was not originally written with verse numbers either - those were added much later):

"In the beginning [i.e. ray-sheeth] God created the heaven and the earth." (Genesis 1:1 KJV)

The same word that is translated as "in the beginning" in Genesis 1:1 is also used to refer to the beginning of man's kingdoms. The first usage of that was for Nimrod who founded a kingdom in Mesopotamia, an area that corresponds to today's Iraq:

"And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before The Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before The Lord. And the beginning [i.e. ray-sheeth] of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar." (Genesis 10:8-10 KJV)

Jacob, who God renamed Israel (see Children of Jacob), used ray-sheeth in describing his firstborn son as "the beginning of my strength":

"Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning [i.e. ray-sheeth] of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power" (Genesis 49:3 KJV)

The word ray-sheeth is even used for things like the beginning of the year (see also Bible Calendar and Bible Months):

"A land which The Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of The Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning [i.e. ray-sheeth] of the year even unto the end of the year." (Genesis 11:12 KJV)

The Lord is the ray-sheeth, the genesis, of worthy wisdom and knowledge:

"The fear of The Lord is the beginning [i.e. ray-sheeth] of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His Commandments [see The First Commandment, The Second Commandment, The Third Commandment, The Fourth Commandment, The Fifth Commandment, The Sixth Commandment, The Seventh Commandment, The Eighth Commandment, The Ninth Commandment and The Tenth Commandment]: his praise endureth for ever." (Psalm 111:10 KJV)

"The fear of The Lord is the beginning [i.e. ray-sheeth] of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction." (Proverbs 1:7 KJV)

Fact Finder: In the beginning, where was The "Word" of God?
John 1:1-3
See also The Logos

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