Holman Bible Dictionary 
chaos Isaiah 24:10 Isaiah 34:11 Jeremiah 4:23-26 Deuteronomy 32:10 Job 12:24 Psalm 107:40 Job 6:18 Job 10:21-22
In Hebrew thought, however, the most prominent concept of chaos is that of the primeval disorder that preceded God's creative activity. When “darkness was upon the face of the deep,” God through His word destroyed the forces of confusion ( Genesis 1:2 ).
Throughout the Scriptures, chaos is personified as the principal opponent of God. In ancient Semitic legends, a terrible chaos-monster was called Rahab (the proud one), or Leviathan (the twisting dragon-creature), or Yam (the roaring sea). While vehemently denouncing idolatry and unmistakably proclaiming the matchless power of the One Almighty God, biblical writers did not hesitate to draw upon these prevalent pagan images to add vividness and color to their messages, trusting that their Israelite hearers would understand the truths presented.
God demonstrated His power in creation graphically in the crushing defeat of chaos. He quieted the sea, shattering Rahab, making the heavens fair, and piercing the fleeing serpent ( Job 26:12-13 ). His victory over Leviathan is well-known ( Job 41:1-8; Isaiah 27:1 ); Leviathan and the sea are at His command ( Psalm 104:26 ). In creation He curbed the unruly sea and locked it into its boundaries ( Job 38:1-11 ). He stretched out the heavens and trampled the back of Yam, the sea ( Job 9:8 ).
A second use of the chaos-monster figure involved God's victories at the time of the Exodus, using the term Rahab as a nickname for Egypt. Through His power God divided the sea and crushed Leviathan ( Psalm 74:13-14 ). He calmed the swelling sea and smashed Rahab like a carcass ( Psalm 89:9-10 ). By slaying the monster Rahab, God allowed the people to pass through the barrier-sea ( Isaiah 51:9-10 ). Mockingly, Isaiah called Egypt a helpless, vain Rahab whom God exterminated ( Isaiah 30:7 ). The psalmist anticipated the day when Rahab and Babylon would be forced to recognize God's rule ( Psalm 87:4 ). In Ezekiel 29:3; Ezekiel 32:2 , the Pharaoh of Egypt is called the river-monster that will be defeated at God's will.
Thirdly, the chaos theme is implied, if not used, in the New Testament depicting God's victory in Christ. In the Gospels Christ confidently demonstrated mastery over the sea ( Mark 4:35-41 , Mark 6:45-52; John 6:16-21 ). In Revelation, when the ancient serpent, personified as the satanic dragon, rises out of the sea challenging His kingdom, Christ utterly defeats the adversary forever.
So, beginning with Genesis 1:2 , when God conquered the formless waste, and continuing through all the Scriptures, God's mighty power over chaos is shown repeatedly. Finally, the triumphal note is sounded in Revelation 21:1 , “there was no more sea.” A new heaven and new earth are proof once again that chaos is conquered!
Alvin O. Collins
Charles Buck Theological Dictionary 
The mass of matter supposed to be in confusion before it was divided by the Almighty into its proper classes and elements. It does not appear who first asserted the notion of a chaos. Moses, the earliest of all writers, derives the origin of this world from a confusion of matter, dark, void, deep, without form, which he calls TOHUBOHU; which is precisely the chaos of the Greek and barbarian philosophers. Moses goes no farther than the chaos, nor tells us whence its confused state; and where Moses stops, there precisely do all the rest.
Webster's Dictionary 
(1): (n.) Any confused or disordered collection or state of things; a confused mixture; confusion; disorder.
(2): (n.) An empty, immeasurable space; a yawning chasm.
(3): (n.) The confused, unorganized condition or mass of matter before the creation of distinct and orderly forms.
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature 
in Greek mythology, was the primitive element, the formless, out of which everything arose the deities, as well as heaven, air, earth, and sea, and all their inhabitants. Chaos united with Darkness (Caligo) and produced Ether, Day, Erebus, and Night. The pairs again united, and thus Ether and Day produced Heaven, the Earth, and the Sea. Erebus and Night had as their children, Fate, Age, Death, Sleep, Dreams (Phantasus, Morpheus, Momus); the Parcse, Discord, Misery, Revenge, Sympathy, and finally the Hesperidas (Egle, Hesperia, Arethusa). From the Earth and the Sea there descended a no less numerous offspring, Pain, Crime, Fear, Falsehood, Perjury, Intemperance, the Furies, Pride; also the Ocean, Pontus, Tartarus, Themis and the Titans. It is plain that here are only personified powers or attributes of nature, and that these in the course of production were gradually separated more and more until the Titans and the deities quarreled about the land, which finally was peopled with human beings by Prometheus when he secured the fire from Olympus. (See Cosmogony).
a term taken from the Greek mythology, according to which Chaos was the first existence and the origin of all subsequent forms of being (Hesiod, Theogon. 116; Ovid, Metatmorph. 1:5). The word itself (in Gr. Χάοζ , immeasurable Space) signifies the vast void, or the confused mass of elements from which it was supposed by the ancient philosophers that the world was formed. It has been employed in later times to denote the unformed mass of primeval matter described by the sacred historian in Genesis 1:2, corresponding to the Hebrews words תֹּהוּ , to ´ hu, and בֹּהוּ , Bo ´ Hu, A Waste Void, A Desert, A Waste Solitude, rendered in the Sept. Ἀόρατος Καὶ Ἀκατασκεύαστος , Invisible And Without Order. These two words, combined for the sake of the paronomasia into the phrase תֹּהוּ וָבֹהוּ , in which the repetition of similar terms is a Hebrew method of designating intensity or superlativeness, signify simply Utter Desolation. The description which Ovid (1. c.) gives of Chaos itself, and of the formation of the world from the chaotic mass, is very remarkable. The following is a literal version:
Ere sea, or land, or sky, that covers all, Existed, over all of nature's round One face there was, which men have Chaos named — A rude, unfathomed mass, with naught save weight; And here were heaped the jarring elements Of ill-connected things. No sun as yet His rays afforded to the world; the moon Filled not afresh her horns by monthly growth; Nor hung the globe in circumambient air, Poised by its balanced weight; nor had the sea Reached forth its arms along the distant shore. Where'er was earth, there also sea and air; No land to stand upon, no wave to swim, And rayless air. Nothing preserved its form: Each thing opposed the rest; since in one frame The cold with hot things fought, the moist with dry, The soft with hard, and light with heavy things. This strife the God and kind? Nature quelled, By cleaving sky from land, and land from sea, And parting liquid sky from thicker air. These thus evolved and from the blind mass drawn, Disjoined in space, were tied in friendly peace: The fiery force of heaven's weightless arch Leaped forth, and chose the topmost point its seat; The air comes next in gravity and place; The denser earth drags down the bulky parts, Crushed with its weight; the water, flowing round, The outskirts held, and bound the orb entire.
"This statement bears so many striking resemblances to the Mosaic account of the creation that one can scarcely fail to regard it as having been derived by tradition from the same source. There is, however, this great difference between the scriptural and the heathen cosmogonies — that the former sets out with the emphatic declaration that the unformed mass was the creation of God; while the latter speaks of it as the already existing materials out of which he formed the world, or even as itself the cause and author of all things. Most interpreters, who have been ignorant of geological phenomena, have at once decided that the chaos of which Moses speaks was the form in which matter was first created. Some have even declared that there cannot have been any such interval as we have spoken of (Prof. Stuart, in Bib. Relpos. No. 21, Jan. 1836). But, on the other hand, the world gives intimations, in the rocks which compose its crust, of various and long-continued changes both of condition and of inhabitants. Hence we conclude:
(1) that the world has existed during some long period Before the Mosaic record of creation in six days;
(2) that during that period it was the abode of animals differing in organization and structure from those now found on its surface; and
(3) that it has been exposed to various convulsions and reorganizations, more or less general. A favorite mode of explaining the Mosaic account, a few years back, was to take the six days of creation for unlimited periods, during which the changes we are speaking of took place. This ground has, however, been almost completely abandoned, both because the account, so understood, does not agree with the physical phenomena, and because such an interpretation is, to say the least, hardly admissible on exegetical principles. The first sentence of the inspired record may therefore be regarded as the majestic declaration of a fact, which the world had lost sight of, but which it deeply concerned men to know. What occurred subsequently, until the earth was to be furnished for the abode of man, is to be gathered, not from the written word, but from the memorials engraven on the tablets of the world itself. The succeeding verse of the Mosaic account then relates to a state of chaos, or confusion, into which the world was thrown immediately before the last reorganization of it. Nor is such a chaos opposed to geological phenomena, which plainly tell of 'critical periods' and of 'revolutions of organic life' (Phillips's Geology, in Cab. Cyclop. 2:264). Whether the chaos of which we are now speaking was universal, or was confined to those regions which formed the cradle of the human race, is a distinct question. The latter supposition has been adopted by Dr. Pye Smith, in his lectures On the Relation between the holy Scriptures and some Parts of Geological Science. To these lectures, as well as to the articles by Prof. Hitchcock, in the Biblical Repository (Nos. 17,18, 20, and 22), and to various papers which have appeared at different times in the Christian Observer, the reader is referred for a fuller discussion of this and kindred questions" (Kitto, Cyclop. s.v.). The difficulty advanced by some that geology (q.v.) gives no intimation of any such total break in the chain of organized beings as is implied in a chaotic condition of the globe just prior to man's introduction upon it, is hardly consistent with truth; for although the rocky tablets of the earth's crust do indeed exhibit a continued series of organized life, yet they also record great changes of species, and even wholesale demolitions of imperfect orders, not now extant, while they contain few, if any, specimens identifiable with those that inhabit the present surface of our planet. See also Hitchcock's Religion of Geology (Boston, 1855). (See Creation).
Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature 
Cha´os, a term taken from the Greek mythology, and employed to denote the unformed condition of the world. Our present object is to inquire what the Chaos was of which Moses speaks (). Was it the first form in which matter was created? and do the succeeding operations described relate to the very beginning of material order and animal life? Or was it merely a condition preparatory to the re-organization of the world, which had already been the abode of living beings?—in other words, is the first verse of the inspired record to be dissociated from the succeeding, and to be understood only as a declaration of the important truth, that the visible universe was not made from anything already existing (); while the confusion and darkness which are described in the succeeding verse, relate to a state long subsequent to the 'beginning,' and were introductory to a new order of material existence, of which man is the chief and lord? The first of these opinions is not only in accordance with the ancient notions of chaos to which we have referred, but is that which would be naturally maintained, unless cause be shown to the contrary. No one would gratuitously assume a long interval, where it must be admitted there is no intimation of such an interval having occurred. Accordingly, most interpreters, who have been ignorant of geological phenomena, have at once decided that the chaos of which Moses speaks was the form in which matter was first created. Some have even declared that there cannot have been any such interval as we have spoken of. But, on the other hand, the world gives intimations, in the rocks which compose its crust, of various and long-continued changes both of condition and of inhabitants. Those who have carefully examined these different forms of being, and have attentively studied the circumstances in which their remains are now found, have been forced to the conviction, that in many cases the rocks have been gradually formed by deposition at the bottom of an ocean, which has been successively the habitation of races differing alike from each other and from those now existing; that the coeval land likewise has had its distinct races of inhabitants, and that the land and water have changed places many times in the history of the world. It is impossible to do more than barely glance at these geological facts; but it will be seen that they lead to these three conclusions—(1) That the world has existed during some long period before the Mosaic record of creation in six days—(2) That, during that period, it was the abode of animals differing in organization and structure from those now found on its surface—and (3) that it has been exposed to various convulsions and reorganizations, more or less general. In the face of these facts it appears impossible to hold the ordinarily received opinion that the universe was created only just before the creation of man; and the question then is, how are these facts to be reconciled with the Mosaic narrative? Not by denying the evidence of our senses, nor, on the other hand, by treating the Mosaic account as an allegorical representation, but surely by reexamining the interpretation we have put on the words of Scripture, and by seeking to ascertain whether the discrepancy does not arise from our view of the narrative. A favorite mode of explaining the Mosaic account, a few years back, was to take the six days of creation for unlimited periods, during which the changes we are speaking of took place. This ground has, however, been almost completely abandoned, both because the account so understood does not agree with the physical phenomena, and because such an interpretation is, to say the least, hardly admissible on exegetical principles. If we keep in mind that the revelation of God to man is not intended to teach physical science—that it never speaks the language of philosophy, but of appearances—and that it tells of these only so far as they relate to the human race, we obtain a clue by which we may be safely guided through these difficulties. We shall not then wonder that no notice should be taken of previous conditions and inhabitants of this earth, supposing such to have existed. The first sentence of the inspired record will then be regarded as the majestic declaration of a fact, which the world had lost sight of, but which it deeply concerned men to know. What occurred subsequently, until the earth was to be furnished for the abode of man, is to be gathered not from the written word, but from the memorials engraven on the tablets of the world itself. The succeeding verse of the Mosaic account then relates to a state of chaos, or confusion, into which the world was thrown immediately before the last reorganization of it. Geologists are not indeed at present (if ever they may be) in a condition to identify the disruption and confusion of which we suppose Moses to speak with any one of these violent convulsions, of which geological phenomena plainly tell; but that events which might be described in his language have taken place in the world's history, over considerable portions of its surface, seems to be fully established. Whether the chaos of which we are now speaking was universal, or was confined to those regions which formed the cradle of the human race, is a question on which we do not feel it needful to enter. We do not regard the evidence which geology furnishes as complete enough to decide such a point.
The Nuttall Encyclopedia 
A name in the ancient cosmogomy for the formless void out of which everything at first sprang into existence, or the wide-spread confusion that prevailed before it shaped itself into order under the breath of the spirit of life.