Friday, 21 January 2011

The meaning of "expanse" in Genesis 1

There has been some debate over the meaning of the word "expanse" in Genesis1. This is of some duration being discussed several hundred years ago. It is claimed by some that a large solid dome or inverted bowl is in view. Recently I discussed this issue with regard to the intrinsic meaning of the word translated expanse.

There are several issues to deal with.
  • Does the meaning of "expanse" include the concept of solidity?
  • Regardless, did the Hebrews and the author of Genesis view the expanse as a solid dome?
The issue is complicated by the use of "firmament" in English translations. This come via the Latin translation of the Bible. English "firmament" is a transliteration of the Latin firmamentum which carries the meaning of "firm" or "solid". Likewise the Septuagint translates Genesis using the term "stereoma" which means firm, though stability, strength, or immobility seems more in view here than hardness.

Compare the Hebrew raqiya` which means expanse, it is derived from raqa` which means to spread out. A question is raised whether the word, while meaning expanse, also implies solid. Ocean means a large body of water. Oceans are blue and wet and large. The word "ocean" carries the meaning "large" though this is not what it primarily means. "Ocean" does not carry the meaning "blue" even though they are normally that colour.

In Genesis the expanse separates, thus a solid object may be in view. Compare divider which is usually an object that separates several items. However a road can have a divider that is solid (barrier wall) or non-solid (a large space between the opposite lanes). Rivers divide up tracts of land. So even though most dividers are solid, it is difficult to claim that solidity is part of the meaning of the word "divider". The Hebrew raqiya` does not need to correspond to English "divider" or "expanse". But the existence of a solid raqiya` does not intrinsically imply that part of the meaning of raqiya` is solid. It may be consistent with it, but does not prove it. There are biblical reasons to suspect that raqiya` was not thought of as solid and I will come back to this.


  1. Here's how I see Job:

    Here's how to read Job 38:17...

    Hast thou with him spread out
    רקע raqa` (h7554)
    the clouds,
    שחק shachaq (h7834)
    which spread out strongly,
    חזק chazaq (h2389)
    like a molten
    יצק yatsaq (h3332)
    looking glass?
    ראי rĕ'iy (h7209)

  2. I have not come to any conclusions about that verse. See here for one suggestion.

  3. Sorry, I think I got a little carried away with some other topic there .. thanks for the link, but. Interesting stuff.

    Do you think you could explain your cosmology quickly for us? :)

  4. 2 Peter 3:5-7 (New King James Version)

    5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water,

    6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.

    7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

  5. 2 Peter 3:5-7

    Tells us that there were a "heavens of old"; a time when the earth was submerged in water - "earth standing out of water and in the water"

    The Flood in verse 6 is not Noah's Flood as the flood goes beyond the earth into the Cosmos. The earth was partially submerged in the water like a ball in a pool of water.

    This is the Flood in Genesis.

  6. Genesis verse 1 - God created the Heavens and the Earth.

    But in Genesis verse 2 - The earth was in a destructive form - There was also a Flood of cosmic proportion which later God created the FIRMAMENT which separates the waters above the FIRMAMENT and the waters below it.

    1. I understand the waters below the FIRMAMENT but I cannot understand the waters above the FIRMAMENT !!!

  7. This FIRMAMENT is the cosmos/outer space(VACUUM) where the Stars, planets, solar system etc etc

    the bible also called it Second Heaven.

    Genesis 2:4 - This is the generations of the heavens.......(KJV) God created Heavens(plural)............The universe is the second Heaven.

  8. Why was there a Flood in Genesis 1:2?

    This is called Satan's Flood where satan was judged for his rebellion.

    Genesis verse 1 and 2 could be millions of years apart.

  9. Job 1:6-7 (New King James Version)

    6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan[a] also came among them.

    7 And the LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?”
    So Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”

  10. Satan's activities in Job 1:6-7 "going to and fro from earth into God's Presence" is actually also what he did in the beginning (before the flood in gen verse 2)

    satan was shuttling to and fro from earth to third heaven(God's throne and presence)

  11. 2 Peter 3:5-7

    tells us that there was an "old HeavenS" and the "Heavens and earth that is NOW".

    The "world" that existed then perished(destroyed) by flood in which the earth was partially submerged in water (cosmic flood)

    Old and NOW Heavens and Earth suggest something has been recreated because it is not the same Heavens - differentiated by Old and NOW.

  12. Uh .. M .. perhaps you'll want to write this all down on your own website and simply link to it?

  13. M, I think the word limit for comments is quite high, about 3000 characters?

    I am not convinced about the gap theory and Satan's Flood. I don't believe it solves any problems, moreover it proposes death antedates the Fall. Further, it removes the fossil evidence for the Noachian Flood by suggesting many fossils come from an earlier flood. posted on this today.

  14. Hi bethyada,

    1) Death did occur before the Fall of man and even before creation of man.

    Lucifer and one-third of angels that rebelled against God lost their eternal life and inherited Eternal Death BEFORE the creation of man.

    he came to tempt the first man and woman to sin when they were created and given authority over the earth.

    Thus DEATH occurs before the Fall.

    2) Fossils - If you are referring to dinosaurs, if they do exist; they might indeed not come from Noah's Flood. No doubt there were other land and sea animals, and people that died during noah's flood. But not the dinosaurs. Unless God created them along with adam...

    (Why should the fossils be exclusively from noah's flood or satan's flood? The fossils findings could come from both floods depending on the Creatures and when they were created.)

    If dinosaurs do exist, then it is another strong evidence that there were life forms on earth before the Creation that we know from Genesis verse 3 onwards.............

  15. 1) Satan's rebellion was actioned by tempting Adam and Eve.

    2) All fossils post-date Noah because that event was a whitewash of the entire crust of the earth.

  16. 1) Angels were already created before the formation of the earth. They were rejoicing and singing when earth was created in:

    Job 38:4–7

    4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?

    Tell me, if you understand.

    5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!

    Who stretched a measuring line across it?

    6 On what were its footings set,

    or who laid its cornerstone—

    7 while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

    Satan was Lucifer then - the anointed Cherubim(A type of angels)

    2) Satan rebelled against God before he tempted adam and eve. Satan was already evil at the time he tempted eve and adam.........(Satan rebelled somewhere between the time when angels were 1st created and the time he tempted adam and eve)

    satan wanted God's throne...
    Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:12-18.

  17. The fact that the angels were created is no evidence that they rebelled before satan tempted Adam.

    You're going to have to come up with something more compelling than that.

  18. M. By no death before the Fall I mean physical death. This is the minimum that Genesis 3 states. So death of air-breathing creatures prior to the Fall contradicts Genesis. Debates about whether or not Satan died do not change this point, neither does the debate over when the angels were created or when they fell. These may be interesting questions, but the death of man came after the curse of man. I suspect that the death of animals followed this pattern.

    Further, thorns are found in the fossil record and thorns clearly postdate the fall of man. So these fossil thorns are from Noachian flood.

  19. stripe,

    okay, will get back to you again. regard satan rebellion with his agents against the almighty God which resulted in the judgment of God. There are also two floods in the bible - one receded gradually; the other was rebuke by God and receded; 2 floods with 2 different characteristics..........Will give you the Evidence again.

    The bible talks about ages and ages to come in ephesians........there are also before.......Humanity is not the beginning of everything and also not the end of everything......

    Will write again........

  20. bethyada,

    didn't how we got into deaths and fossils; wasn't talking about gap theory...going back to the Word.

    basically was just saying that in Genesis, the FIRMAMENT(which is called Heaven in verse 8 which has the stars and sun and moon etc verse 14-17) separates the Waters; those Under became SEAS (verse 10)

    The FIRMAMENT is Space where the planets are.

  21. Hey, M.

    You don't have to convince me there were two floods. I agree with you. The difference we have is only that I do not understand why you place so much emphasis on the first.

    As recorded by Genesis, the first flood is simply a part of the creation process. There is nothing in scripture that indicates it was designed to do anything bad to anyone.

  22. PS. The latest post on my blog might explain better what I think about Noah's flood. :)

  23. didn't how we got into deaths and fossils; wasn't talking about gap theory...going back to the Word.

    I don't think there was a global flood prior to Noah. This idea about Satan's flood is related to proponents of the gap theory for some. Disproving the gap theory removes evidence for Satan's flood. The earth when it was created was covered in water. This is not what is usually meant by flood.

    basically was just saying that in Genesis, the FIRMAMENT(which is called Heaven in verse 8 which has the stars and sun and moon etc verse 14-17) separates the Waters; those Under became SEAS (verse 10)

    The FIRMAMENT is Space where the planets are.

    Agreed, and the atmosphere.

  24. Hi Stripe and Bethyada,

    When God 1st created Heavens and the earth, the Universe was not created.

    Satan was the one that was in charge of earth. He was the one in charge of the garden of eden and not adam - Ezekiel 28:13-15.

    Satan had one third of the angels under his charge REV 12:4

    Satan was shuttling between earth and Heaven(where God's throne is)just like in Job 1:6,7. before creation of man.

    Until Pride was found in him, Isa 14:12-14, Eze 28:15. Satan was removed from his place.

    What was on living on earth then I do not know. whether there were living beings then we do not know for sure as the bible didn't say much about that age. It was a different age. It is a previous age. It is not the age of adam/mankind.

    After Satan fell, Isa 14:12, God created Adam and put him now in charge of earth. This was previously satan's job and position. Certainly satan was enraged.

    What exactly happened and why was there a flood before creation of adam the bible did not mention but
    there was a flood 2 Pet 3:5-7, Gen 1:2, Psalm 104.

    This flood only receded when God rebuke or scolded it in Psalm 104 as opposed to Noah's flood which receded gradually after a certain time.

    Why was there a flood and what purpose it serve and whether anything died, the bible did not say. What was living then on earth, is not clear too. The bible did not say satan did anything as well.

    Just like we say noah's flood but noah didn't do anything to cause the flood. Likewise, satan's flood does not mean satan did anything. Or at least it is not clearly mentioned in the bible. It is just a name given to that flood.

    The Universe was created later in Gen 1:6-8 which God called this firmament or Universe Heaven Gen 1:8

    The Universe was created to separate the waters Gen 1:6 but it also separates mankind or earth from Third Heaven where God is. Heaven is God's throne and earth His footstool.

    There is now the Third Heaven (where God is and where apostle paul was taken up in the spirit to visit 2 Cor 12:2)

    There is also the second heaven or the Universe (this is where the fallen angels dwell just like the prince of Persia that resisted angel gabriel. These are the spiritual hosts of of wickedness in the heavenly places)

    There is also the 1st Heaven which is the earth's atmosphere or sky.

    When satan fell, one third of his angels left with him. Thus there are always spiritual warfare in the heavenlies. There will be great wars in the time of Tribulation Rev 12:9, Rev 12:4

    The WORD of God is above science or theories science and theories are limited. Limited by our understanding and facts discovered and interpretation of facts.

    “Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD's thy God” (Deuteronomy 10.14 KJV bible), “But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee” (2nd Chronicles 6.18 KJV bible), “He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.” (Ephesians 4.10 KJV bible).

  25. The flood before Noah's was the state the world was created in. Day 1 the Earth was covered in water. Day 3 the waters were gathered into one place, revealing dry land.

    All things living were created after that.

  26. Yes. That was the state of the world before creation of man. Because something happened......

    Its just like japan's earthquake and people begin rebuilding japan. Maybe it might look better or be better after rebuilding. But still it was in ruins to begin with before they rebuild.

    It was not the state of the world or God 1st created Flood or God 1st created ruins and then begin building something good out of it.........

    2 Pet 3:5- told us that there was the old Heavens, and how the Earth was submerged in water(not just in the surface but going beyond the earth as described in Gen 1:2-7. The waters were separated by the Universe; see how massive that flood was?) and that the World that then existed perished. The previous age and world perished.

    In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the earth.....

    God did not create ruins, flood, formless and void earth..........something happens..........

    God did not 1st create RUINS and then change His mind and decide to create something beautiful.......

    There was an age before age of mankind. or may be more than one age, we do not know. There are many ages and ages to come.......

    After age of grace, tribulation, age of millienial reign of Christ(Kingdom of Christ 1000 years), Great white throne judgment, Age of the Eternal State of God(Kingdom of God)..........after that many, many ages to come which the bible did not specifically say what those ages are about........



abortion (8) absurdity (1) abuse (1) accountability (2) accusation (1) adultery (1) advice (1) afterlife (6) aid (3) alcohol (1) alphabet (2) analogy (5) analysis (1) anatomy (1) angels (1) animals (10) apologetics (46) apostasy (4) apostles (1) archaeology (23) architecture (1) Ark (1) Assyriology (12) astronomy (5) atheism (14) audio (1) authority (4) authorship (12) aviation (1) Babel (1) baptism (1) beauty (1) behaviour (4) bias (6) Bible (40) biography (4) biology (5) bitterness (1) blasphemy (2) blogging (12) blood (3) books (2) brain (1) browser (1) bureaucracy (3) business (5) calendar (7) cannibalism (2) capitalism (3) carnivory (2) cartography (1) censorship (1) census (2) character (2) charities (1) children (14) Christmas (4) Christology (8) chronology (54) church (4) civility (2) clarity (5) Classics (2) classification (1) climate change (39) coercion (1) community (3) conscience (1) contentment (1) context (2) conversion (3) copyright (5) covenant (1) coveting (1) creation (5) creationism (39) criminals (8) critique (2) crucifixion (14) Crusades (1) culture (4) currency (1) death (5) debate (2) deception (2) definition (16) deluge (9) demons (3) depravity (6) design (9) determinism (27) discernment (4) disciple (1) discipline (2) discrepancies (3) divinity (1) divorce (1) doctrine (4) duty (3) Easter (11) ecology (3) economics (28) education (10) efficiency (2) Egyptology (10) elect (2) emotion (2) enemy (1) energy (6) environment (4) epistles (2) eschatology (6) ethics (36) ethnicity (5) Eucharist (1) eulogy (1) evangelism (2) evil (9) evolution (13) examination (1) exegesis (22) Exodus (1) faith (22) faithfulness (1) fame (1) family (5) fatherhood (2) feminism (1) food (3) foreknowledge (4) forgiveness (4) formatting (2) fraud (1) freewill (29) fruitfulness (1) gematria (4) gender (5) genealogy (11) genetics (6) geography (3) geology (2) globalism (2) glory (6) goodness (3) gospel (4) government (18) grace (9) gratitude (2) Greek (4) happiness (2) healing (1) health (7) heaven (1) Hebrew (4) hell (2) hermeneutics (4) history (23) hoax (5) holiday (5) holiness (5) Holy Spirit (3) honour (1) housing (1) humour (36) hypocrisy (1) ice-age (2) idolatry (4) ignorance (1) image (1) inbox (2) inerrancy (17) infinity (1) information (11) infrastructure (2) insight (2) inspiration (1) integrity (1) intelligence (4) interests (1) internet (3) interpretation (87) interview (1) Islam (4) judgment (20) justice (25) karma (1) kingdom of God (12) kings (1) knowledge (15) language (3) lapsology (7) law (20) leadership (2) libertarianism (12) life (3) linguistics (13) literacy (2) literature (21) logic (33) love (3) lyrics (9) manuscripts (12) marriage (20) martyrdom (2) mathematics (10) matter (4) measurement (1) media (3) medicine (11) memes (1) mercy (4) Messiah (6) miracles (4) mission (1) monotheism (2) moon (1) murder (5) names (1) nativity (7) natural disaster (1) naval (1) numeracy (1) oceanography (1) offence (1) orthodoxy (3) orthopraxy (4) outline (1) paganism (2) palaeontology (4) paleography (1) parable (1) parenting (2) Passover (2) patience (1) peer review (1) peeves (1) perfectionism (2) persecution (2) perseverance (1) pharaohs (5) philanthropy (1) philosophy (34) photography (2) physics (18) physiology (1) plants (3) poetry (2) poison (1) policing (1) politics (31) poverty (9) prayer (2) pride (2) priest (3) priesthood (2) prison (2) privacy (1) productivity (2) progress (1) property (1) prophecy (7) proverb (1) providence (1) quiz (8) quotes (613) rebellion (1) redemption (1) reformation (1) religion (2) repentance (1) requests (1) research (1) resentment (1) resurrection (5) revelation (1) review (4) revival (1) revolution (1) rewards (2) rhetoric (4) sacrifice (4) salt (1) salvation (30) science (44) self-interest (1) selfishness (1) sermon (1) sexuality (19) shame (1) sin (16) sincerity (1) slander (1) slavery (5) socialism (4) sodomy (1) software (4) solar (1) song (2) sovereignty (15) space (1) sport (1) standards (6) statistics (13) stewardship (5) sublime (1) submission (5) subsistence (1) suffering (5) sun (1) survey (1) symbolism (1) tax (3) technology (12) temple (1) testimony (5) theft (2) toledoth (2) trade (3) traffic (1) tragedy (1) translation (19) transport (1) Trinity (2) truth (27) typing (1) typography (1) vegetarianism (2) vice (2) video (10) virtue (1) warfare (7) water (2) wealth (9) weird (6) willpower (4) wisdom (4) work (10) worldview (4)