And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. (Gen 1:3-4)
Here we see “light” (H216 “or”) being called into existence. Elohim saw that it was good.
Then, Elohim separated (H914 “badal”) the light from (H996 “beyn”) the darkness.
This means He made a distinction between the two.
EDIT 1/11/17 It was recently pointed out to me that “beyn” (H996) appears twice in verse 4. A more proper translation of this verse in the Septuagint would be “And God divided between the light and between the darkness.”
Given this, I don’t know how accurate my previous statement, “This means He made a distinction between the two.”, is. Perhaps it’s that he made distinctions between each: a distinction between the light, and a distinction between the darkness.
Let’s look at what else is “badal beyn” in Scripture…there are only 12 verses that include this phrase.
>> Heaven: Waters Under from Waters Above
Gen 1:6-8 And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
>> Day and Night
Gen 1:14-15 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.
>> Light and Darkness (2nd mention)
Gen 1:17-18 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.
>> The Holy Place and the Most Holy Place
Exo 26:33 And you shall hang the veil from the clasps, and bring the ark of the testimony in there within the veil. And the veil shall separate for you the Holy Place from the Most Holy.
>> The Holy and the Common; The Unclean and the Clean
Lev 10:8-11 And the LORD spoke to Aaron, saying, “Drink no wine or strong drink, you or your sons with you, when you go into the tent of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations. You are to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean, and you are to teach the people of Israel all the statutes that the LORD has spoken to them by Moses.”
Eze 22:26 Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.
Eze 42:20 He measured it on the four sides. It had a wall around it, 500 cubits long and 500 cubits broad, to make a separation between the holy and the common.
>> The Clean and the Unclean Animals
Lev 11:46-47 This is the law about beast and bird and every living creature that moves through the waters and every creature that swarms on the ground, to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean and between the living creature that may be eaten and the living creature that may not be eaten.
Lev 20:25 You shall therefore separate the clean beast from the unclean, and the unclean bird from the clean. You shall not make yourselves detestable by beast or by bird or by anything with which the ground crawls, which I have set apart for you to hold unclean.
>> You and Your God
Isa 59:1-2 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
Given these other mentions, we have a better idea of what it means to have something separated from another or to make a distinction between two things. The light was separated from the darkness, and I have found nothing in Scripture that says it was ever put back together.
EDIT 1/11/17 Upon further inspection, the use of “badal beyn” with the references to the light and darkness, the waters from above and waters from below, and the day and night read differently than all of these other references.
“Beyn” appears before light and before darkness in the Hebrew text; It appears before the waters from above and before the waters from below; and It appears before day and before night.
Whereas “beyn” only appears once before each of the other pairs mentioned in the following verses above. I don’t know why the various translations I’ve read on this don’t reflect all these mentions in English.