The firmament in Biblical Genesis – something visible and SOLID – the meaning of raqia

footstool

Acts 7:49 ”Heaven is My throne, and the earth a footstool of My feet”

And God said, Let there be A FIRMAMENT in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters (Gen. 1:6)

(Bible verses further down below.)

Heroic efforts have been made to explain away the firmament which we can read about in the Bible, partly because of the clear implications that it is durable enough to hold waters above it, but still small (and near) enough to enclose the celestial bodies which Genesis talks about. This Biblical information bothers many Christians due to their hard task to try to fit in the moon landings, the ball-shaped earth and heliocentrism – which are believed to be modern truths that must be saved to all costs. The Evolution theory is naturally impossible to save if the earth is not made through a Big Bang billions of years ago because lots of time is required in order to make this theory sound plausible.

It is more honest to read the Bible without trying to save certain theories, even if we are convinced they are true, because it is never a sin to read Biblical texts in its proper context. Even secular people must admit that the Bible has over the years proved to be a highly trustworthy book because of the many details about cities, people, leaders, wars, coins, etc, which have parallels also in other old sources as well as in history and archaeology. It is therefore interesting to see what the Bible says about the firmament – which this blog post is about. If we try to be neutral with no preconceived ideas, what does the Bible really say about it?

Since also theologians can be in error about the Bible, even if it is scarce, the best tools to verify the meaning of a term are:

  1. The Bible itself. How is the same term used elsewhere in the Bible, and what is the context?
  2. Other old trustworthy writings from the same period, particularly those referred to in the Bible (the book of Enoch, the book of Jasher). How do they explain the term?
  3. Old church fathers – the older the better. What quotes do they use, and how do they understand the term? (See here that the church fathers indeed believed in a physical firmament.)

Based on the above tools, it is very hard to come to any other conclusion than that the firmament is a physical object above the sky – the outer edge – and the celestial bodies are placed in it.

The Jewish historian Josephus /Ch.1. The constitution of the world and the disposition of the elements/:

1. — After this, on the second day, he placed the heaven over the whole world, and separated it from the other parts, and he determined it should stand by itself. He also placed a crystalline [firmament] round it, and put it together in a manner agreeable to the earth, and fitted it for giving moisture and rain, and for affording the advantage of dews.  

If the firmament is constructed as the Bible explains, naturally no moon landing couldmark twain ever have taken place. With or without the firmament problem, there is absolutely no evidence that man has ever been to the moon, but there is evidence that NASA has lied to us and faked all moon missions (check out also other NASA lies linked to the ISS, the Hubble telescope, etc). The reason why it is now 2018 and people still believe man has been on the moon, is because they are convinced that NASA would not lie to them, because they believe thousands or millions of people must have been involved (which is totally false), and because they have not seen films such as ”A funny thing happened on the way to the moon” (proves cheating), or Jarrah White’s youtube channel Moonfaker, or Marcus Allen’s moon hoax films or any of the fake moon landing photos on aulis, etc. Instead they rely on mainstream media and that they must avoid alternative news to be good and obedient citizens. It really should be enough to see the press conference right after the first moon landing, where the three astronauts should have danced around the room of joy just for having survived the round trip despite all the radiation impact and other risks, but instead they looked like their favorite dog just died. Surprisingly, they could not even remember if they could see any stars on their trip or not. Michael Collins claimed he could not remember seeing any stars at all (contrary to Neil Armstrong’s claim), but later in his book he mentioned all the beautiful stars he could see.

Bible verses showing the Hebrew verb raqa and the Hebrew noun raqia

The English word ”firmament” is based on the Latin word firmamentum, used in the Vulgate and this term in turn is derived from the Latin root firmus – a cognate with ”firm”. It is a Latinization of the Greek stereōma which appears in the Septuagint version of the Bible.

The original Hebrew noun in the Old Testament is raqia (Strong’s 7549) and can be translated as an extended surface or expanse. Bluletterbible also offers ”a visible arch of the sky”. This noun is used 17 times in the KJV.   

The corresponding Hebrew verb raqa (Strong’s 7554) could be translated into: to beat, beat out, stamp, hammer and spread out thinly, like the process of making a dish by hammering thin a lump of metal. This verb is used 11 times in the KJV.

Let us start with the Bible verses with the verb form, so that we can easier understand what the noun might mean thanks to the details. The most interesting verse is Job 37:18 which could be translated as God beating out the skies as strong as metal. 

Can you, with Him, spread out the skies, Strong as a molten mirror? (NASB)

Can you, like him, spread out the skies, hard as a cast metal mirror? (ESV)

Below, the verb use in the KJV This verb is for example used when we read about beating gold into thin plates, plates being made broad to cover an altar, goldsmiths spreading out gold over graven images, silver spread into plates, and God stretching out the earth (most importantly, when he spreads out the sky which is strong as molten looking-glass).

Job 37:18 Hast thou with him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as a molten looking glass?

Ex. 39:3 And they did beat the gold into thin plates, and cut it into wires, to work it in the blue, and in the purple, and in the scarlet, and in the fine linen, with cunning work.

Num. 16:39 And Eleazar the priest took the brasen censers, wherewith they that were burnt had offered; and they were made broad plates for a covering of the altar:

2 Sam. 22:41 Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies, that I might destroy them that hate me.— 43 Then did I beat them as small as the dust of the earth, I did stamp them as the mire of the street, and did spread them abroad.

Ps. 136:6 To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Is. 40:19 The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains.

Is. 42:5 5 Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein

Is. 44:24 24 Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;

Jer. 10:9 Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men.

Ez. 6:11 Thus saith the Lord God; Smite with thine hand, and stamp with thy foot, and say, Alas for all the evil abominations of the house of Israel! for they shall fall by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence.

Ez. 25:6 For thus saith the Lord God; Because thou hast clapped thine hands, and stamped with the feet, and rejoiced in heart with all thy despite against the land of Israel

Below, the noun use in the KJV – this noun is for example used to show something visible, solid, with a certain color (crystal) and brightness, and strong enough to hold water above it. There is water both below this firmament (on the earth) as well as above. We know from films of stars that they indeed look like they are placed behind a layer of water. The firmament is also called ”heaven” but is specifically explained as ”the firmament of the heaven”. The celestial bodies (the lights) are placed in this firmament and not above it. The lights are there specifically to give light upon the earth, and to be used as signs for the inhabitants of the earth. The birds were created to fly in the open firmament of heaven”. Based on psalms, this firmament is still in existence to show the glory of God. The firmament is stretched forth over our heads and Ezekiel describes the firmament to be rather near, because the odd-looking creatures with wings will be close by this firmament with their voices heard from it. The context of Ezekiel requires a literal vault or dome.

Gen. 1:6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters 7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.— 14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

Ps. 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Ps. 150:1 Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.

Ez. 1:15 Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces.— 22 And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above. 23 And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies.25 And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings.26 And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.

Ez. 10:1 Then I looked, and, behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubims there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne.

Dan. 12:3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

Other versesearth

Other equivalent verses about the firmament which looks like a tabernacle or tent. A rotating globe circling around the sun naturally does not need a ”foundation”, nor any pillars to stand on. Spreading out the firmament/vault/tabernacle as a tent over the earth, for the inhabitants to dwell in, would be hard to imagine on a ball.

Is. 40:22 It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: 

Job 9:1 Then Job answered and said —6 Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble.7 Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars.8 Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.9 Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south. 

Job  36:29 Also can any understand the spreadings of the clouds, or the noise of his tabernacle?30 Behold, he spreadeth his light upon it, and covereth the bottom of the sea.

Job 38:44 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?— 13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?14 It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment. 

Job 26:7 He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.8 He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them.9 He holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his cloud upon it.10 He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end.11 The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at his reproof. 

Psalm 104:2 Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:3 Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind:4 Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:5 Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.6 Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.

Psalm 148:4 Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens.

1 Chronicles 16:30: “He has fixed the earth firm, immovable.” 

Stars can fall from the skies according to Daniel 8:10 and Matthew 24:29, as well as Revelations.

Rev. 6:13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 1And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb

Rev: 8:10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.

Rev. 12:4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

Ps. 147:4 He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.

If one star let alone all the stars in the sky fell on the earth, no one would be able to either hide or speak since the earth would burn up long before this happened.

The book of Enoch – a flat earth bookflat earth 5

Numerous manuscripts of 1 Enoch have  been found in Ethiopian monasteries, and they have also been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran. The book of Enoch and the book of Jasher are both quoted in the Bible. This means that we should not view the text lightly, but rather with the assumption that they likely contain valid descriptions of our past.

The punishment of the fallen angels described in 2 Peter seems to resemble the book of Enoch, as does much of the wording in Revelation. The Epistle of Jude does not only reveal that Genesis should be taken literally (Enoch is in the 7th generation from Adam), but also supports the book of Enoch when it comes to the punishment of the angels – even if the book of Enoch contains many more details. By attributing prophecy to Enoch, Jude gives much support to the validity of his book.

Jude 14 6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.—And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

The book of Enoch contains too many descriptions of the sun, moon, stars and angels, etc, to cover here, but here are some quotes:

1 Enoch 1:1. The words of the blessing of Enoch, wherewith he blessed the elect and righteous, who will be living in the day of tribulation, when all the wicked and godless are to be removed. 2. And he took up his parable and said–Enoch a righteous man, whose eyes were opened by God, saw the vision of the Holy One in the heavens, which the angels showed me, and from them I heard everything, and from them I understood as I saw, but not for this generation, but for a remote one which is for to come.

1 Enoch 18:1. I saw the treasuries of all the winds: I saw how He had furnished with them the whole creation and the firm foundations of the earth. 2. And I saw the corner-stone of the earth: I saw the four winds which bear [ the earth and ] the firmament of the heaven. 3. And I saw how the winds stretch out the vaults of heaven, and have their station between heaven and earth: these are the pillars of the heaven . 4. I saw the winds of heaven which turn and bring the circumference of the sun and all the stars to their setting. 5. I saw the winds on the earth carrying the clouds: I saw the paths of the angels. I saw at the end of the earth the firmament of the heaven above. —9. And I saw a flaming fire. And beyond these mountains 10. is a region the end of the great earth:there the heavens were completed.  — 15. And the stars which roll over the fire are they which have transgressed the commandment of the Lord in the beginning of their rising, because they did not come forth at their appointed times. 

1 Enoch 21:1. And I proceeded to where things were chaotic. 2. And I saw there something horrible: I saw neither a heaven above nor a firmly founded earth, but a place chaotic and horrible. 3. And there I saw seven stars of the heaven bound together in it, like great mountains and burning with fire. 4. Then I said: ‘For what sin are they bound, and on what account have they been cast in hither?’ 5. Then said Uriel, one of the holy angels, who was with me, and was chief over them, and said: ‘Enoch, why dost thou ask, and why art thou eager for the truth? 6. These are of the number of the stars of heaven, which have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and are bound here till ten thousand years, the time entailed by their sins, are consummated.’ 7. And from thence I went to another place, which was still more horrible than the former, and I saw a horrible thing: a great fire there which burnt and blazed, and the place was cleft as far as the abyss, being full of great descending columns of fire: neither its extent or magnitude could I see, nor could I conjecture. 8. Then I said: ‘How fearful is the place and how terrible to look upon!’ 9. Then Uriel answered me, one of the holy angels who was with me, and said unto me: ‘Enoch, why hast thou such fear and affright?’ And I answered: ‘Because of this fearful place, and because of the spectacle of the pain.’ 10. And he said unto me: ‘This place is the prison of the angels, and here they will be imprisoned for ever.’

1 Enoch 33:2. And to the east of those beasts I saw the ends of the earth whereon the heaven rests, and the portals of the heaven open. 3. And I saw how the stars of heaven come forth, and I counted the portals out of which they proceed, and wrote down all their outlets, of each individual star by itself, according to their number and their names, their courses and their positions, and their times and their months, as Uriel the holy angel who was with me showed me. 

1 Enoch 72:2-5. This is the first commandment of the luminaries: The sun is a luminary whose egress is an opening of heaven, which is (located) in the direction of the east, and whose ingress is (another) opening of heaven, (located) in the west. I saw six openings through which the sun rises and six openings through which it sets. The moon also rises and sets through the same openings, and they are guided by the stars; together with those whom they lead, they are six in the east and six in the west heaven. All of them (are arranged) one after another in a constant order. There are many windows (both) to the right and the left of these openings. First there goes out the great light whose name is the sun; its roundness is like the roundness of the sky; and it is totally filled with light and heat. The chariot in which it ascends is (driven by) the blowing wind. The sun sets in the sky (in the west) and returns by the northeast in order to go to the east; it is guided so that it shall reach the eastern gate and shine in the face of the sky,

According to this description, stars that rise and set do so through openings in the dome, just like the sun and moon. Enoch describes the sun and the moon as being of the same size. Most stars belong in certain star constellations, but there are also wandering stars who do not follow the order. They are the ones which have transgressed the commandments of God because they do not arrive punctually (1 Enoch 18:14-15). Like the Bible, 1 Enoch typically depicts stars, and the ”sons of God” as living, anthropomorphic beings. This is consistent with Job 38:7, which says that when the earth’s cornerstone was laid “the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted aloud.”

Also King David describes the sun as a male, and just like Enoch and David too speaks about chambers, running a race, etc:

Ps. 19: 1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.6 His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

Job  9:1 Then Job answered and said,2 I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God?— 6 Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble.7 Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars.8 Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.9 Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south.

FE 4No need to fear the flat earth movement and their arguments

The last thing that Satan would do is to push people straight into the arms of God, but this is exactly what the flat earth movement is doing. For this reason there is no reason to be upset with people who have come to the conclusion that the earth if flat based on the Biblical information (others have of course come to this conclusion regardless of the Bible), and who do what they can to refute Big Bang, Evolution, heliocentrism, a global earth, etc. If they are wrong, it is better to explain why and present better arguments. Satan does not even want people to believe in God in the first place, so flat-earthers are certainly not his best friends. Not all flat earthers are Christians, but they still inadvertently highlight the existence of a Creator and that the earth, with its inhabitants, is the absolute center of his creation and with everything revolving around it. This is far from the naturalistic and materialistic world – with no room for a Creator – which we are brought up to believe in.

The Bible explains that our Creator can be detected through his creation, by the things that are made. Naturally then Satan would like to do all he can to hide this divine creation from the people of the earth, and he also offers other an alternative which does not require a Creator to start with.

Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the THINGS that are MADE, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse

Satan’s presentation of our existence includes Big Bang and Evolution in order to deceive people to turn their backs on a Creator, but heliocentrism is also a piece of this puzzle (and the idea that the earth is a planet among other planets) since it reduces the earth into a tiny little speck circling the sun in a vast universe which likely contains more ”earths” with living creatures since the earth is far from unique. This in turn reduces human being into brief parentheses in time, with no purpose, without a God who loves them, with no value whatsoever and particularly with no future. In Satan’s world, the earth is far from placed in the center, but is rather mere dust which came about by chance.

The Biblical creation account is the exact opposite. In the Bible we can read that the earth is the center of God’s world, is his footstool, hangs on nothing, is immovable, is placed on four pillars, human beings on it are the crown of his creation, has a firmament/dome/vault/arch over it which is stretched out like a tent to dwell in, stars are small enough to fall on earth, etc. Flat-earthers would even say that the Bible straight out says that the earth is flat.

Revelation 20:9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 

The word ”breadth” above is a description of the shape of the earth, and not certain parts of the earth. The word is a translation from the noun πλάτος/platos, Strong’s 4114, which means broad, something stretched out, flat, wide, like a street, sometimes interpreted as ”broad plain” = NASB. The adjective is πλατύς, Strong’s 4116, which can be used as a description of a street. The origin comes from the verb πλάσσω/plassó, Strong’s 4111, which can be defined as ”forming/spreading/flattening out”. NE provides the information that it is connected to the French word plateau, of platel, which is a flat object.  

This is no proof for that the earth is flat, but rather that the Biblical authors believed it was. If you want to learn why people believe in the flat earth, I recommend Mark Sargent’s Flat earth clues or the youtube channel ”Celebrate truth” (the latter from a Christian perspective).

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