“Six things preceded the creation of the world; some of them were actually created, while the creation of others was already contemplated. Torah and the Throne of Glory were created. Torah, as is written, [In remote eons I was shaped, at the start of the first things of earth.] I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, before the earth was (Proverbs 8:22–3). The Throne of Glory, as is written, Your throne stands firm from old (Psalms 93:2)….
Israel arose in thought, as is written, Remember Your cohort You took up of old (Psalms 74:2)….
Rav Huna and Rabbi Yirmeya in the name of Rabbi Shemu’el son of Rabbi Yitsḥaq, they said: The thought to create Israel preceded everything else. This is like: A king who was married to a certain lady, and had no son by her. On one occasion the king was found going through the marketplace and giving orders: ‘Take this ink, inkwell, and pen for my son,’ at which people remarked: ‘He has no son: what does he want with ink and pen? Strange indeed!’ Subsequently they concluded: ‘The king is an astrologer, and has actually foreseen that he is destined to beget a son!’ Thus, had not the blessed Holy One foreseen that after twenty-six generations Israel would receive the Torah, He would not have written therein, Charge the Israelites (Numbers 28:2)” (Bereshit Rabbah 1:4).
“Israel is the kernel of the world; Israel arose in thought. Other nations, who are the shell, preceded, as is written: These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the Children of Israel (Genesis 36:31)” (Zohar 2:108b, Sifra di-Tsni’uta).
וַיְהִי עֶרֶב וַיְהִי בֹקֶר יוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי וַיְכֻלּוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ וְכָל צְבָאָם וַיְכַל אֱלֹהִים בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה וַיִּשְׁבֹּת בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה וַיְבָרֶךְ אֱלֹהִים אֶת יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי וַיְקַדֵּשׁ אֹתוֹ כִּי בוֹ שָׁבַת מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים לַעֲשׂוֹת
And it was evening and it was morning the sixth day. Then the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their array. And God completed on the seventh day the task He had done, and He ceased on the seventh day from all the task He had done. And God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, for on it He had ceased from all His task that He had created to do (Genesis 1:31–2:3)—יִשְׂרָאֵל (yisra’el), Israel.
“Resh Laqish said, ‘Why is it written: There was evening and there was morning, יוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי (yom ha-shishi), the sixth day (Genesis 1:31)? Why the extra letter ה (he)? [the definite article ה (he) appears only in connection with the sixth day]. This teaches that the blessed Holy One stipulated a condition with the works of Creation, saying to them: ‘If Israel accepts Torah [given at Mount Sinai on the sixth day of Sivan], you will endure. If not, I will return you to welter and waste (ibid. 1:2)’” (BT Shabbat 88a, cf. BT Avodah Zarah 2b–3b; Zohar 1:47a; 2:63b).
“Rabbi Shim‘on said, ‘Whatever the blessed Holy One does is intended to revolve revolutions to fulfill the covenant of existence’” (Zohar 1:196a).