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Exercise for Key 1 of the Biblical Hebrew course. Unlock Bible Meaning with 7 Keys to Master Biblical Hebrew.

Light and darkness divided—another understatement

It was good. Dark and light divided. These are inadequate translations that do not carry the message their Author intended. Find out what it is.

It was good. Dark and light divided. These are inadequate translations that do not carry the message their Author intended. Find out what it is.

Our reading habits, and especially our mind-associations, cause us to attribute definitive meanings to certain words automatically. When we read, “God divided the light from the darkness.” (Gen. 1:4) we limit ourselves solely to a physical understanding. We skim the word divided along with some of the most common words in English like day, night, light, dark, evening, morning. We experience each of these words every 24 hours. They are such common phenomena that we give them a cursory glance and think nothing more of it.

Sam’s Reflections

This blog post is Key 1 lesson 5 from the course Unlock Bible meaning with 7 Keys to Master Biblical Hebrew. If you are new to this teaching, please revise prior lessons to gain an oversight. Links to former lessons are in the right column, Recent Posts, or via the Previous Post or Next Post links on the left and right side of each Post. Thanks for reading to bring yourself up-to-date.


Keeping in mind Key 1, Biblical Hebrew words have multiple meanings this is a monumental error, but unavoidable in English. The Biblical Hebrew opens whole new vistas.

We’re focusing on divided in this exercise.

  • Look up an English dictionary definition.
  • Check out some quotes if you like to get a better feel for the word.
    • Here are a couple to think about
    • “As every divided kingdom falls, so every mind divided between many studies confounds and saps itself.”
      ― Leonardo da Vinci
      “A divided kingdom cannot defend itself from its adversaries. A divided person cannot face life in a dignified way.”
      ― Paulo Coelho, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept
  • Interesting quotes, see how the poetry and philosophy draw our attention away from the essential lesson?

Back to divided in Biblical Hebrew and the separation of light from darkness.

  • Go over to
  • Do a Word and Phrase Search for divided.
  • Switch to Strong’s Concordance. The image below is what you will find.

Divided in Genesis 1:4. The deeper meaning of the Biblical Hebrew.

If you want, you can count up the number of times words display in the Bible. Do a computer search on the Strong’s results (ctrl-F). There are about 50 appearances in the OT and 20 in the NT.

Of primary interest in our study is Genesis 1:4.

  • Notice divided in Gen. 1:4 and the Strong’s number immediately to its right.
  • Click and Strong’s information will display in the right column
  • Read and analyze that. This is where you’ll find deeper meaning in the other translations for H914. What are they?

There are two further points to note.

  1. If you scroll down the left column, all the verses with divided, you’ll see that there are different numbers than H914 to the right of divided. This indicates that other Biblical Hebrew words have also been translated with the SAME English word. Realize that as a Hebrew word can have multiple translation into English, similarly multiple Hebrew words can have the same English translation. I’m not trying to complicate your life. You just need to be aware of the translations you’re reading and realize that there’s more to it than meets the eye.

  2. Notice in Genesis 1:4, following H914, there’s an *H996. The * means there’s a word missing in the English translation. Yes, the translators deemed the word unnecessary for translation and simply omitted it. This obviously has an effect on the meaning. At the beginning of Genesis 1:4 click on the reference to open up all of Genesis 1. Then switch to the Interlinear Bible to verify this missing word.

Genesis 1:4 missing world, H996, visible in the Interlinear Bible

The above image is what you will see

  • Notice H914, our translated word
  • Notice H996, the UNtranslated word. Note the translators omitted it, not once, but twice! That merits an exclamation mark, as you’ll discover.
  • Click on H996 to open Strong’s information in the right column

Now that you have put the tools through their paces and have all the information, it’s study time.

Check H914 and H 996 and draw your own conclusion. What does divided mean? And especially, what does this verse mean?


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