So, waters were the first element of the earthly creation. Anyway, when considering cosmogony within the Bible, people sometimes get confused. It’s not so easy to get an immediately clear understanding. You need to have a thorough comprehension of the Scriptures to get a complete image of the cosmic structure you are living inside. By reading this article, my dear reader, you will find a comprehensive explanation of facts relative to the earth morphology on the basis of the Hebrew language used by the Bible writers.
A few main points
- Genesis, chapter 1:1-2 about mayin and shamayim.
- 2 Peter 3:5 about an earth standing compactly out of the water and in the midst of water
- Job 41:13 about Leviathan
- Pr 8:26-29 telling of the Master Worker and the circle on the surface of waters
- Isaiah 40:22 and the circle of the earth
- Job 26: 7, 10 about the earth suspended upon nothing
Water as a dual name
In Genesis, chapter 1:1-2, for the very first time in the Bible, two amazing Hebrew words stand out. The meaning of them: water and heaven. Mayin [water] and shamayim [heaven] both exist only in the plural form. In the Genesis account, immediately after the creation of light, comes up the creation of rā·qî·a‘ as a huge dome that separates the waters of above from those of beneath. Since there are two differently placed oceans (the water of the earthly ocean and the water that is placed in the upper sky) the word employed for water is always in the plural.
The sky as a superlative form of water
At the same time, what appeared to be an immensity of water over the dome was called Shamayim, the superlative form of Mayim. In biblical Hebrew, a pair of an object, for instance, two eyes, is spelled with the distinctive dual form, taking a particular ending (-ayim). So, I would like to notice that the spelling of Mayim (water), in particular, is closely associated with its original meaning as a pair. To support this argument, the Creation story in the Bible has to be examined.
A solid expanse called Shamayim
As reported in Genesis, chapter 1, God said: ‘Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters.’ Thereafter the waters were split into the waters of above and the waters of below by the creation of a solid expanse (rā·qî·a‘ ); later, on the second day, the expanse separating the waters came to be called Shamayim. As a consequence, the waters below the sky rearranged to form sea and dry land. This way, the Bible presents the expanse called Shamayim (sky) as a kind of dome supporting the water above, so that it would not leak or collapse.
Skies coming up from two solid canopies
The literary evidence so far demonstrates that the waters above and below were understood as a pair that was originally one body, but separated later into two. Even the skies went out of two solid canopies. They went into existence in order to seal up the upper waters inside a huge superior heavenly ocean. (Cf. Ge7:6, 2Peter3:5)
An earth standing compactly out of waters and in the midst of waters
2 Peter 3:5 underlines the fact there’s something escaping the general notice: “There were heavens from of old and an earth standing compactly out of the water and in the midst of water by the word of God”. As the general reader of the Bible certainly knows, “the world of that time suffered destruction when it was deluged with waters”.
Something that many believing people don’t want to notice
Peter wrote: “For according to their wish, this fact escapes their notice, that there were heavens from of old and an earth standing compactly out of the water and in the midst of water by the word of God.”
Waters moving the dome from outside
The Greek verb here employed is sunistanò or sunìstemi. It means the heavens and the earth are united, they are made to be compact, just as a solid whole which is holding together. Skies are solid according to Job 37:18. The heavens and the earth are solidly standing in the middle of waters, being surrounded by the primeval oceans. I mean the massive waters standing outside, all around the hemispherical earthly vault. These are the waters moving the dome from outside.
A huge turbine capping the dome
I just can imagine the outer dome as being capped by a huge turbine. Its wheels get moved by the power of waters concentrating into a dreadful whirling dam. Psalm 33:7 reads of God: “He is gathering as by a dam the waters of the sea…”
The upper watery deep is still there
After forty days the flood was ending and Genesis 8:2 makes clear the fact that “the springs of the watery deep and the floodgates of the heavens stopped up, so the rain from the heavens stopped falling.” This makes it clear that the original structure keeping the waters inside was not completely devoided of its water content and it is still there. All the earthly waters are in communication and the upper container didn’t stay long void but got immediately refilled.
During the flood, waters went out not only from above but also from the watery deep or subterranean fountains. So, the Bible makes it clear that the upper watery deep is still there in the skies and the dome over us is always the same.
A solid mirror
In a thorough confirmation, Job 37:18 points out the central fact the skies are solid as a mirror. “Can you, with him, spread out the skies as solid as a metal mirror?” How could it be possible, otherwise, to seal the heavenly ocean without a solid canopy? This is why Peter could speak of “an earth standing compactly out of the water and in the midst of water”.
How to describe the solidity of the heavens? You could imagine an inverted bowl made up of different glassy, crystal layers, something like the layers of an onion. The strata are divided centrally by an interlayer sealing the heavenly waters. This is the heavenly ocean, the place where the light of the stars originates by means of billions of bioluminescent creatures, both fish or algae.
The army of the heavens will rot away
Isaiah describes the army of the skies by saying: “And all those of the army of the heavens will rot away. And the heavens must be rolled up, just like a book roll; and their army will all shrivel away, just as the leafage shrivels off the vine and like a shriveled [fig] off the fig tree. (Isaiah 34:4) By reading Job chapters 40 and 41 one can have a detailed description of the earth, depicted as Behemoth, and of the sky portrayed as Leviathan. Job describes the canopy containing the waters of above as Leviathan’s double jaw. (Job 41:13,14) This corresponds to the double structure of the stationary dome and the moving, external, part of it. It’s the one dragging the movement of the stars. So, Job is giving a poetic description of the heavenly dome. It has the appearances of a watery monster called Leviathan.
A double coat of armor
Job, among other, describes it this way: “Who can strip off its outer coat? And who can penetrate its double coat of armor? Who dares open the doors of its mouth, ringed about with fearsome teeth?” So, the dome, as ancient astronomers always postulated, is pictured as being characterized by the presence “of two jaws with fearsome teeth all around”.
Moreover, in order to describe the sense of movement, Job adds: ” His underparts are like sharp potsherds; It spreads out like a threshing-sled on the mire. He makes the depths boil like a pot; it makes the sea like a jar of ointment. Behind him he makes a wake to shine; One would think the deep to be gray-haired…” Job 41:30-32
A poetic metaphor
Not surprisingly at all, the name Leviathan is believed to come from a root word that means coil, twist or wind. Job 3:8-9 approaches the name of the monster with images of light and darkness, the stars and the rays of dawn: Deeply grieved by his calamity, Job goes on cursing “…those who are able to awaken Le·viʹa·than.” Then he adds: “Let the stars of its twilight grow dark; Let it wait in vain for daylight, And let it not see the rays of dawn.” Leviathan thus appears to signify some form of an aquatic creature of great proportions and strength. It is a poetic metaphor representing the wreathed dome. And stars in the upper waters.
Bible students sometimes wonder whether the Bible gives any further reliable account of the physical shape of the earth. When discussing the theme, a passage in Pr 8:26-29 comes easily to the mind. It’s a powerful report about creation made by the lips of Wisdom, the Master Worker. First, a consideration of the chronological context of the passage proves to be necessary. At that time earth “had not yet been made”, it was not visible, in the sense that the dry land had not appeared so far. Earth still did not exist.
Only waters everywhere
Pr 8:26 reads: “When as yet he had not made the earth and the open spaces and the first part of the dust masses of the productive land…”. Only waters appeared everywhere, unlimited. It was the time when Wisdom was acting as a Master Worker and heavens were being prepared. The creation of heavens evidently preceded the creation of the earth. Genesis states it: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Now the Master is talking about several different moments of his activity. Which was the order to follow to achieve the wanted schedule?
The dry earth appeared
Heavens were in progress; according to the starting verses of the Bible in Genesis, the early element had been water; from water, heavens raised up. Later on, during the third creative day, the dry earth appeared. As far as the vault of heavens was reaching a more defined shape and achieving solidity, the boundless waters separated and collected together into a more restricted area, now worth of the name of the sea.
A boundary for waters
As a consequence, a limit to the watery deep established. Up to then, waters were simply unlimited, but now, finally, they had certain boundaries to respect. A ceiling having appeared in the form of a dome, water vapors could condensate into clouds. The water cycle went into existence. Only at the end of a long process, I mean the building of the dome, the foundations of the earth could be set. (Ps102:25; Job 38:4-6)
A circle on the surface of waters
Thus, considering the contest, the Master accomplished the whole building of the sky, marking a circle on the surface of the waters. Then he was not certainly giving shape to a spherical globe. This is because the earth platform, in the sense of a huge “water basin”, had been created before. And the water was the first element, when all the earth was totally unseen, immersed in the darkness.
Hug or the vault of heavens
Then “God’s active force was moving to and fro over the surface of the waters.” (Cf. Ps 24:2; 136:6) These are the reasons why the casting of a circle on the surface of the waters should be understood as the building of the heavenly vault over the waters. The Hebrew word used here is Hug and the Brown-Driver-Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon, translates it only as “vault of the heavens”.
The vault of the heavens
Albert Barnes (1798–1870), an American scholar who is best known for his extensive Bible commentaries, about this subject wrote: “The circle of the earth – Or rather, “above” (על ‛al) the circle of the earth”. The word rendered circle (chug) denotes “a circle, sphere, or arch”; and is applied to the arch or vault of the heavens, in Pr 8:27; Job 22:14.
“The phrase ‘circle,’ or ‘circuit of the earth,’ here seems to be used in the same sense as the phrase Orbis Terrarum by the Latins; not as denoting a sphere, or not as implying that the earth was a globe, but that it was an extended plain surrounded by oceans and mighty waters. The globular form of the earth was then unknown; and the idea is, that God sat above this extended circuit, or circle; and that the vast earth was beneath his feet.” (Barnes’ Notes)
The circle of the earth
So lets me kindly introduce a similar point of view. The Bible never says God is dwelling on the earth but it always indicates the heavens are his abode and the earth is his footstool. The Bible has many descriptions of God’s throne, for instance, Eze 1:26 reads: “Above the expanse that was over their heads was what looked like a sapphire stone, and it resembled a throne…It was like the appearance of the glory of Jehovah. ”
God’s throne above the expanse
So, according to Ezekiel’s description, God’s throne is above the expanse and not below it. Considering Isaiah 40:22, the One dwelling upon the circle of the earth, the Creator, is not One dwelling on the ground of the earth, but, of course, on the vault of the heaven. The meaning is that the circle of the earth is an expression meaning the vault of the heaven. There’s no alternative.
Suspended upon nothing
Another of the verses quoted to support the theory of the globular concept of the earth is Job 26:7. It reads: “He stretches out the northern sky over empty space, Suspending the earth upon nothing.” This Bible verse is a superb example of the poetic style in the Bible. The most important formal element in Hebrew poetry is parallelism achieved by logical thought. Here “empty space” and “nothing” are the two corresponding, equal plates of the balance and they convey the same meaning. In addition, I have to examine the Hebrew language used to express “empty space”. The word you can find is to.hu, the same used in Genesis 1:2.
The northern sky is the heaven or the earth dome. In antithetic parallelism, each line expresses contrary thoughts. You could examine Psalm 89:11-12 where a parallelism appears between the heavens and the earth. On the other side, the north and the south are opposite. You will certainly remark that the north is in correspondence with the heaven. So, there’s antithesis between the heaven and the earth and both stretch upon the primeval waste, the watery deep, to.hu. The verse is another confirmation of the meanings I have just discussed. Earth stretches on the huge abyssal waters extending everywhere, inside and outside the dome.
A boundary between light and darkness
To conclude, there’s still a passage to consider. It’s Job 26:10 which is reading: “He marks out the horizon on the surface of the waters; He makes a boundary between light and darkness”. “He has described a circle upon the face of the waters to where light ends in darkness.” This verse has a verb, chug, which basically means to make a circle. The outstanding concept is that here, in Job 26:10, as well as in Pr 8:27, a circle appears on waters and not on earth. Inside the boundaries of the vault, the dome over the earth, the light appeared, outside there was only deep darkness.