choshech - darkness


A reference to the elemental fire which is dark (compare Shemot Rabbah 2:10 - This recalls the statement of our Sages that the Torah was written with black fire on white fire.) It is listed ahead of the second element ruach (wind), seeing that fire is a more comprehensive element than wind. The wind precedes water, i.e., "the wind [spirit] of G-d hovered above the surface of the water." This is because wind is a more comprehensive element than water. Water, on the other hand, is a more comprehensive element than earth (dust).


We find this order of the basic elements both in Kohelet and in Iyov. Just as the Torah in this instance began its detailed description with nekudah, the "point" when it wrote, "and the earth was unformed and desolate (chaotic)," so Sefer Kohelet begins with this "point" describing it as something which remains in place forever (1:4). Next, Shlomo mentions the element fire when he wrote "the sun shone and the sun set" (Kohelet 1:5). After the fire Shlomo mentions the wind in Kohelet 1:6 "the wind goes round and round." `


In Sefer Iyov (28:24) the description of creation also beings with the "point," i.e. earth, or "dust," when the author wrote, "for He sees to the ends of the earth, observes all that is beneath the heavens." The reference to the heavens is reference to fire. The text continues, "when He fixed the weight of the winds, set the measure of the waters." The elements are listed in the same order as in Kohelet and in Bereishit. The reason for this is that all these three Books concern themselves with some degree of research, and its words are based on our knowledge of nature.


Here the Torah informed us that the earth assumed a shape, that the darkness which is the fire, spread out above the mixture of dust and water. This mixture is called tehom (the deep) in the Torah. It describes the ocean which has earth dissolved in it. (Compare Yonah 2:6 "the deep surrounds me.")


The wind was blowing, entering the darkness and hovering above the water.