Two of the last words of Genesis 1 and two of the first words of Genesis 2 each begin with a letter of the Holy Name: Yod, Hey, Vav, Hey.Together, these letters form a name sometimes written like this: YHWH. The rabbis reckoned it as the personal name for God: “The One who brings into being all that is” (Exodus 3:14). It became so important that eventually no one would say the name out loud, and some information was forgotten somewhere along the way. Theologically speaking, Yahweh is a best guess.

Genesis 1 closes with half the consonants of the divine name and an end to acts of creation.“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning–the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31). Genesis 2 opens with the other two consonants and with God commencing to rest. “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work” (Genesis 2:1-2).

In Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah), the way chapter 1 ends and chapter 2 opens has two decisive applications for practical, everyday living. One, like the words of chapters 1 and 2, God’s name has been separated in human reality, and that’s why human life tends to seem so weird. Only by reflection and devotion does God begin to make sense again. “Thy word have I hid in my heart” (Psalm 119:11). Two, in the gradual reuniting of God’s name in human experience, the two halves of human life also become unified. Work and rest. Toil and play.

There is another rabbinic notion that Sabbath is not only a day of the week but a spiritual quality. The ultimate goal of human life becomes a journey to experience genuine enjoyment. A union with all around us. Just like GOD.

Ideas inspired by the book “Five Cities of Refuge.”

The Rev. Eugene Stockstill is pastor of Ebenezer United Methodist Church and Myrtle United Methodist Church in Union County.

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