- In the beginning [of]…
The first word is b’reishit, or Bereishit ( בְּרֵאשִׁית ). Its elements are:
- be- (“at / in”)
- -reish / rosh- (ראש, “head”)
- -it ית, a grammatical marker implying “of”.
The definite article (i.e., the Hebrew equivalent of “the”) is missing, but implied. The complete word literally means “at [the] head [of]”, or more colloquially, “in [the] beginning [of]”. The same construction is found elsewhere in the Hebrew bible, usually dealing with the beginning of a reign.
- [he] created/creating…
The second word is the Hebrew verb bara (ברא). It is in the masculine form, so that “he” is implied. (English verbs do not distinguish between he, she, and it.) A peculiarity of this verb is that it is always used with God as its subject, meaning that only God can “bara”; it is the characteristic verb for God’s creative activity in Genesis 1. “Bara” is also used in Genesis 2 verses 3 and 4. Many conservative Biblical scholars believe that “bara” in this verse means “to create ex nihilo“, but other scholars, such as Walton, argue that the meaning of “bara” is not “create” in the modern sense, but to differentiate/separate and to allocate roles – e.g., in the creation of Adam and Eve, God allocates gender roles to “male and female”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genesis_1:1#Bereishit