English Standard Version
The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
New American Standard Bible
And the earth was a formless and desolate emptiness, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
New International Version
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
King James Bible
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Revised Standard Version
And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
1:2 describes a chaos: there was waste and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep. The clauses in verse 2 are apparently circumstantial to verse 3, telling the world’s condition when God began to renovate it. It was a chaos of wasteness, emptiness, and darkness. Such conditions would not result from God’s creative work (bārā’); rather, in the Bible they are symptomatic of sin and are coordinate with judgment. Moreover, God’s Creation by decree begins in verse 3, and the elements found in verse 2 are corrected in Creation, beginning with light to dispel the darkness. The expression formless and empty (ṯōhû wāḇōhû) seems also to provide an outline for chapter 1, which describes God’s bringing shape and then fullness to the formless and empty earth.
Some have seen a middle stage of Creation here, that is, an unfinished work of Creation (v. 2) that was later developed (vv. 3–25) into the present form. But this cannot be sustained by the syntax or the vocabulary.
Others have seen a “gap” between the first two verses, allowing for the fall of Satan and entrance of sin into the world that caused the chaos. It is more likely that verse 1 refers to a relative beginning rather than the absolute beginning (Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament. 2 vols. Chicago: Moody Press, 1981, 1:5). The chapter would then be accounting for the Creation of the universe as man knows it, not the beginning of everything, and verses 1–2 would provide the introduction to it. The fall of Satan and entrance of sin into God’s original Creation would precede this.
It was by the Spirit that the Lord God sovereignly created everything that exists (v. 2b). In the darkness of the chaos the Spirit of God moved to prepare for the effectual creative word of God.
Bible Knowledge Commentary (BKC)