BHS (Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia): וְר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֔ים מְרַחֶ֖פֶת עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הַמָּֽיִם׃

ESV (English Standard Version): And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

NLT (New Living Translation): And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.


LXX (Septuagint): καὶ πνεῦμα Θεοῦ ἐπεφέρετο ἐπάνω τοῦ ὕδατος.

BETS (Brenton English translation Septuagint): and the Spirit of God moved over the water.

NETS (New English Translation Septuagint): And a divine wind was being carried along over the water

OSB (Orthodox Study Bible): The Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the water.


VUL (Latin Vulgate): et spiritus Dei ferebatur super aquas

DRB (Douay Rheims Bible): and the spirit of God moved over the waters.

NAB: (New American Bible): while a mighty wind swept over the waters.


English Translations with variant readings:

NASB (New American Standard Bible): and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters

Darby: the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters

AMP: The Spirit of God was moving (hovering, brooding) over the face of the waters

TM: God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss

NJB (New Jerusalem Bible): with a divine wind sweeping over the waters..


Observations & Discussions

  1. The Hebrew word מְרַחֶ֖פֶת is defined as to “tremble or hover.” The BHS is the only one of three languages that includes the idea of “the face of the waters” instead of just the waters. This leads me to believe that the OSB wasn’t totally dependent upon the Septuagint. These translators must have considered the MT. None of the Catholic versions contain “the face of” when talking about the waters probably because it’s mostly based on the VUL which has no reference to “the face.”
  2. The NETS tranlastion is extremely loose and seems to render this translation more like the NLT or some other non-literal translation. A “divine wind” is incredible. I would think if you were going to use “wind” in the translation you would make it “the wind of God.” God is definitely in all the original languages as a noun and not an adjective.
  3. The latin word ferebatur has no mystery according to the www resources. It simply means “moved.” I don’t know if that’s a bad translastion of the Hebrew or Greek or if the Hebrew and Greek words have been exaggerated. The NAB translation of “swept over” is graphic but not literal.
  4. I like the THG comment: “the word translated was moving is sometimes rendered “brooded…”[1] Brooded carries the idea of concern and care for. It’s used in Deuteronomy to refer to how Eagles look after their young. Moses refers to how God cares for and protects his people as an eagle “broods” over her chicks. In the ESV, Deuteronomy 32:10-11 says, “He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness; he encircled him, he cared for him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions…”


CLV (Chuck Larsen Version): A wind from God brooded over the abyss’ darkness

CLV In the beginning God created heaven and earth but the earth was invisible and incomplete. And darkness covered the abyss. The spirit of God brooded over the abyss’ darkness

[1] William David Reyburn and Euan McG. Fry, A Handbook on Genesis, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1998), 32.