“CIRCLE of the earth” – Isaiah 40:22
If you want to prove that the earth is a globe based on the Bible, you must use another verse than Isaiah 40:22 since this verse does not say it. There are at least three main problems with this verse if you want to use it to prove a globe – the circle, the grasshoppers and the tent …
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
Frisbees and dinner plates are shaped like circles, and circles are indeed round. A circle is not the same as a globe, a ball or a sphere, even if a ball can look like a circle if viewed in only one dimension.
“Circle” in the above verse is a translation from the Hebrew noun chug (Strong’s 2329) which means circle, vault or horizon. (Note that it is not translated as ball or sphere.) Apart from the above verse, it is found twice more in the Bible. In Job 22:14 we can read about God walking on the circle/vault of heaven (walking on the firmament of heaven), and in Proverbs 8:27 we can read that this circle was inscribed into the face of the deep. KJV phrases it as “when he set a compass upon the face of the depth”. A ball does not have a side that could be considered “a face”, but a flat earth does. NKJV phrases it as “When He drew a circle on the face of the deep”. It is hard (or rather impossible) to draw a sphere or a globe into something, but it is definitely possible to draw/inscribe a circle into something.
Job 22:14 Thick clouds are a covering to him, that he seeth not; and he walketh in the circuit of heaven. (KJV)
Proverbs. 8:27 When He prepared the heavens, I was there, When He drew a circle on the face of the deep, (NKJV)
Note above that it would not make sense to draw “a globe” on the face of the deep. Compare also:
Job 26:10 “He has inscribed a circle (Strong’s 2328) on the surface of the waters At the boundary of light and darkness. (NASB)
The above noun (chug) is connected to the Hebrew verb with the same name spelling chug (Strong’s 2328), which means to draw around, to make a circle. It is only found in Job 26:10 where we can read that God has inscribed a circle on the surface, or (as in KJV) “compassed the waters”.
Isaiah 40:22 further suggests that when God sits on this circle (the firmament) the inhabitants look like grasshoppers. This requires a certain elevation, which works well with a physical firmament placed high over a round earth. An elevation is also implied in Job 22:12 where we can read: “Surely God is at the zenith of the heavens [shamayim] and looks down on all the stars, high as they are.” Note that it says that God “looks down” on the stars when he sits, or walks around, on the firmament.
The morning star (Lucifer) wanted to exalt his throne above the stars of God, and he is not talking about the top of the universe but above the heights of the clouds. This is where he imagined the throne of God to be – above the clouds. The throne of God is indeed described to be just above the firmament in the sky, and based on the creation account in Genesis the stars were placed in the firmament.
Is. 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Ez. 1:26 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.
Gen. 1:14 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,
The same verse (Is. 40:22) also uses the analogy of the heavens stretched out as a curtain and spread out as a TENT to dwell in – for the inhabitants who look like grasshoppers. It is almost impossible to imagine the picture of a tent placed on a globe where all the inhabitants live in. It is a perfect analogy if we imagine a flat earth with a firmament over it, and especially if we also imagine the tabernacle during the Exodus.
While chug is not a translation for ball, there is however a word for “ball” that Isaiah could have used if this is what he wanted to express, but he did not use it in the above verse. He did, however, use it in Is. 22:18 where ball is a translation from dur (Strong’s 1754):
Is. 22:18 18 He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a BALL into a large country: there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy lord’s house.
Isaiah also describes God as having the earth as a footstool. It is hard to picture God with a constantly moving and spinning ball under his feet, but the analogy works perfectly if we imagine the earth to be flat, with a firmament and with four pillars, plus naturally standing still.
Isaiah 66:1 Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?
Other verses on the same subject
In the Bible the earth is described as immovable, standing on pillars, with a firmament above it, placed in the very center of God’s creation, and not as a moving object such as a spinning ball rotating at 1,000 mph while speeding away faster than a bullet around the sun at 67,000 mph. This is why people who believe the former should at least be respected rather than ridiculed. But does it not also say that the earth hangs upon nothing? How does this fit either model?
Job 26:7 He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.
Other translations use the word “void”, which might make the reader think about the creation account and “the earth was without form and void”. Maybe Job’s description concerns this moment in time when God has just created the earth, hanging it on nothing, proceeding to dividing the waters and connecting it on pillars? This verse does not work very well if we imagine a spinning ball rotating around the sun. Such a constantly moving ball does not hang still on anything and does not need pillars.
Isaiah 13:13 Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.
Ps. 104:5 5 Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.
The Bible speaks about four corners in quite a few verses, both regarding the entire earth and also regarding a particular land of the earth – like Israel. The land of Israel is not formed as a globe but can be imagined as flat. The expression of the four corners could be both real or used as an analogy if the writers want to express an entirety of something. See for example Acts 10:11 and 11:15 where Peter is shown a sheet knit at the four corners containing various beasts. Naturally this sheet must have been rather flat, and everything within the four corners were acceptable for Peter to eat. Likewise, the land of Israel is likened with four corners in Ez 7:2 even if it is not square-shaped as sheets are. Rev. 7:1 seems to be talking about the four corners of the earth as a physical reality, with four angels holding four winds.
Acts 10: 11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: + Acts 11:5
Ez. 7:2 Also, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord God unto the land of Israel; An end, the end is come upon the four corners of the land.
Rev. 7:1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
See also this verse about the four corners, and note the word “breadth” which is interesting:
Rev. 20:8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.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 describes the surface of the earth, and not parts of the earth. The word is a translation from the noun πλάτος/platos (Strong’s 4114) and can be translated as width or broad plain. The corresponding adjective is πλατύς/platus (Strong’s 4116) which can be used as a description of a street as in Matt. 7:13 (flat and stretched out). The corresponding verb is πλάσσω/plassó (Strong’s 4111), which can be translated as form/mould. The French word “plateau” signifies a level portion (or nearly level) of the earth’s surface. The French word derives from platel, which is a description of a flat object, like a plate. In Swedish the word for “flat” is “platt” (similar in other Germanic languages).
The Bible contains parables and analogies and even if they are not descriptions of real things/events (at least not always), they still signify something and are used for a reason. The author would like the reader to get a certain image in his/her head when reading analogies, poetry or parable. This means that we cannot disregard the analogies we do not like and/or highlight the ones we do like. According to the Bible, it seems like a sufficiently tall tree would be visible to the earth’s farthest bounds. Sure, it might be an exaggeration (or a hyperbole) but if the earth is a globe, why would the devil even need to take Jesus up to a high level?
Dan. 4:11 The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth
Matt. 4:8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them
All this does not mean that we have just proven that the earth is flat, but it certainly looks like the Bible claims that it is (with an honest reading), and particularly if we also read the book of Enoch.
Interestingly Wherner von Braun (the German aerospace engineer and space architect hired by NASA) put the the below psalm on his grave stone describing how the psalmist is in awe about God’s creation of the firmament which shows God’s handiwork:
Ps. 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.