Hebrew words are made of three-letter roots composed in turn of two-letter root-cells. There is some evidence that every letter of the Hebrew alphabet is a stand-alone root cell with its own meaning.

Two-letter root cells form three-letter root cells by two major methods. One, combining two two-letter root cells where the second letter of the first cell and the first letter of the second cell are the same: bet-reish (cleanness) + reish-aleph (standing above, thus, seeing) = bet-reish-aleph. Two, adding a third letter to two-letter root cell. The further down the alphabet is the third letter, the lighter is the action: nun-shin + aleph (move), hey (dislocation), iod (loan), caf (bite), lamed (fall), mem (breeze), kuf (kiss), reish (bird), tav (exhale).
Two-letter root cells are semantically meaningful and seem to follow a similar pattern of decreasing intensity the further down the alphabet is the second letter: aleph-vet (to give birth: av—father, aviv—spring, beginning of the year), aleph-gimel (to bind: aguda—wisp, egel—drop), aleph-dalet (to raise: ed—steam, adon—master, the raised one), etc.

The root structure is artificial. Hebrew roots were consciously constructed rather than evolved naturally.

Words in the Torah commonly have multiple meanings. No large extra-religious texts in Hebrew survived from antiquity, and it is often impossible to reconstruct the meanings precisely from various contexts. We know how the sages understood the words at the time they translated the Torah into Greek, but they might not preserve the original meanings.

The correct approach to understanding the Torah is etymological. As long as the root meaning makes sense, it should be used. Whether the sense derived from the root meaning complies with exegetical requirements is unimportant; exegesis should follow etymology. Whenever several meanings are equally plausible etymologically, the most common meaning should be assumed.
The common approach to the Torah is to put exegetical requirements first, and then see if the required meaning of a word is plausible, or even remotely possible. Given the scarcity of ancient texts, a wide range of meanings is at least remotely possible, which often allows for wild exegesis. The etymological approach puts a stop to that misreading.

Consider Genesis 1:1. Bereshit is universally translated as “in the beginning.” The primary meaning of reshit is main, principal.

Several instances of reading reshit as “beginning” are dubious. Genesis 10:10 says, “And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh…” It is odd that several kingdoms are named one beginning. The phrase makes more sense if we substitute principal for beginning: The enumerated towns were the principal places of that land.
Proverbs 8:22-23: “The LORD made me [wisdom] as the beginning of His way, the first of His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.” Such reading presumes that the account of Creation omits the immensely important episode of creating the Wisdom before other things. More plausibly, “The Lord made me [wisdom] his principal way, put forward [distinguished] from his acts of the old. From the old time, anointed from the head, from the eastern [types of wisdom; sf. Is2:6] of the earth.”
Leviticus 23:10: “You shall bring the sheaf of the first-fruits of your harvest to the priest.” Reading reshit as first-fruits makes the commandment counter-productive: the first fruits are the worst. It’s rather, the choice fruits. Similarly, in Deuteronomy 33:21 it means that the ruler receives the best, rather than the first part of the animals.

For ancients, the terms beginning and principal were related. Firstborns were the principal children; antiquity was equated with authority (time-tested and therefore true, in the absence of other tests for truth). The original sense of reshit as principal was extended to beginning.
Bara is usually translated as “created.” It is a rare word with no cognates. The root cell bet-reish relates to cleaning or choosing. The third letter, aleph, being the first letter of the alphabet, suggests the strongest action. The root cell reish-aleph relates to standing above or seeing.
Etymologically, bara doesn’t mean creation ex nihilo, but rather separation or cutting from something. Sort of like Michelangelo releasing his statues from pieces of marble.
The traditional reading “In the beginning, God created” contradicts the context. Every day, God made a single type of work. On the first day, he made the light; there was no beginning before the first day. When therefore was the “beginning,” when God made heaven and earth? Etymological reading does away with that incongruity.

Genesis 1:2 clearly describes the starting point of Creation: “And the earth, [it] was unformed and void,…. and spirit of God, [it] hovered above the waters.” If God had created the heaven and the earth in Genesis 1:1, how come they are still void in the next verse? Etymological reading makes sense of Genesis 1:1: “Most importantly, God shaped the heaven and the earth.” They were initially without form (Genesis 1:2) and God shaped them—not in the beginning, but in Genesis 1:6-8 and 1:9-10, respectively. (God is external to the World Created rather than permeating it, or he would have had to shape himself.)
Isaiah 65:18 similarly employs bore et with unmistakable sense of re-creation: “For behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing…”
Genesis 1:1 emphasizes the in regards to the heaven and the earth. The Torah makes clear that the universe is not limited to this heaven and this earth

What is the heaven created? Genesis 1:6 describes it as “rakiya inside waters.” Rakiya is often understood as firmament, but it is not. This rare word occurs only in the context of heaven. Lacking a variety of contexts to compare, its meaning can only be reconstructed etymologically. The root cell reish-kuf means “broken, empty.” The immediate cognate reish-kuf-ayn means “to stamp upon,” thus the relevant hiphil flexion, “to spread out.” In Exodus 39:3, the cognate means “to flatten (to empty out),” rather than “to beat [the gold into thin sheets].” That rakiya lacks the sense of firmament is clear from Job 37:18, where the hiphil flexion is joined with dust, or Psalm 150:1, which says, “praise him in the rakiya of his power” instead of “on the rakiya.” Rakiya is a shaped space. The author of Genesis doesn’t espouse the primitive concept of a firm heavenly sphere.
Rakiya is not a heavenly sphere like Aristotle’s spheres. Genesis 1:7: “divided the waters below rakiya from the waters above rakiya.” Rakiya, therefore, spreads from sea surface unto the upper clouds. God created the lower atmosphere.
While Genesis 1:1 insists that the heaven and the earth were shaped, the atmosphere was established (Genesis 1:7). Unlike the other acts of Creation, the formation of the atmosphere lacks the addendum, “And God saw that [it is] good.” A metaphysical explanation is that the heavenly realm is above good and evil. On a practical plane, God is not said to have created heaven, but to have established it from chaos. Only the act of creating something truly new merited the appellation “good.”
The text’s unusual insistence on the prepositions mem and lamed necessitates a stricter reading of Genesis 1:7: “And God established the atmosphere, and divided the waters which are in the deep relative to the atmosphere from the waters which are in the high relative to the atmosphere; and it was so.”
The atmosphere in question is the lower troposphere—the level below the clouds (“the water which is above”). The Bible is clear that clouds are made of water (“water above”) and are very heavy (Job 37:18: “… dust [clouds], strong as molten mirror”). Hebrew etymology of heaven (shamaim) is shm+maim, “there” + “water.”

Wayomer should not be translated as “And he said,” but “And he conceived.”
In Genesis 1:9, ikavu is usually translated, “let them [waters] gather.” In other contexts, kuf-waw-hey always means, “to hope for someone.” Jeremiah 3:17 is properly read, “and all the nations will set hopes onto it [Jerusalem]…” Obviously, the prophet didn’t imagine all nations actually moving into Jerusalem. The waters were directed (“longed”) to a single region. The preposition el also conveys a sense of moving to, rather than statically gathering at.
The ancients thought of the earth as an island surrounded by sea. The land could be called “gathered to one place” but the water was obviously not “gathered in one place”—there are many watery places around.
Makom is not necessarily a geographical place, but rather an area. It is conceivable that waters were directed to heaven in the cycle of evaporation and rain. The water was originally in a chaotic state everywhere—perhaps after a major upheaval—and God first calmed down the atmospheric storms (divided heaven and earth), and later calmed down surface storms, allowing for earth to reappear. Genesis 1:10 disproves this conjecture, explicitly calling the “water gathering,” seas. Genesis 1:10, however, is an interpretative text, employing a newer word, mikveh, which means “pool.”
Genesis 1:9: “And God conceived, ‘The waters under the heaven will be directed to a single area, and dry land will be seen.’ And it was so.”