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The Firma-what?

Updated: Jul 1, 2023

Friends, have you noticed this?

As part of God’s creation of the world in the book of Genesis, we read,

“And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 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.” Genesis 1:6‭-‬8 KJV

And again, in one more translation,

“God said, ‘Let there be a dome in the middle of the water; let it divide the water from the water.’ God made the dome and divided the water under the dome from the water above the dome; that is how it was, and God called the dome Sky. So there was evening, and there was morning, a second day.” Genesis 1:6‭-‬8 CJB

Huh. What is this “firmament”/”dome” that separates waters below it and above it?

That word in the Bible translated ‘firmament’ in the KJV version of the Bible or ‘dome’ in the CJB and CEV versions is the word ‘raqiya’ in the original Greek:…/hebrew/…/raqiya.html

That word ‘raqiya’ means a solid extended surface, as if beaten out into a particular shape. It was used to describe the “visible arch of the /sky/” — “considered by Hebrews as /solid/ and supporting ‘waters’ above” (as the lexicon definition says in the link I provided above).

Some Bible translations have translated the word ‘raqiya’ as ‘expanse.’ In my opinion, this is only partially accurate. Yes, the raqiya is an expanse, but it’s a /solid/ expanse, as if God were to beat out sheets of metal into a particular shape (see the original root word raqa’ and its definition:…/hebrew/nas/raqa.html ).

To say the raqiya (firmament/dome) is simply an ‘expanse’ seems to me to be akin to translating the Spanish word ‘perro’ as ‘animal.’ Yes, a perro (dog) is an animal — that’s true — but it’s not as /accurate/ as it could be; to be completely accurate and precise, it is a /’dog’/, not merely an ‘animal.’

In the same way, the word raqiya describes a /solid/ structure, not merely a gaseous expanse.

The Jews believed (and I believe the Scriptures also record) that this solid, crystalline, glass-like structure called the firmament is stretched out over the earth like a big tent (Isaiah 40:22, Psalm 19:4, Job 37:18, Proverbs 8:27-29, Ezekiel 1:22-28,10:1-2, Psalm 104:2, Revelation 4:6,15:2, etc.).

The Jews believed that on top of this structure there is water, as God tells us in Genesis 1:6-8 (above) and as David reaffirms in Psalm 148:4. Here’s a quote from Jewish historian Josephus, describing God making the world:

“He also placed a cristalline [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.”

This was also believed by people like the 2nd century Christian, Theophilus, saying things such as (while he was commenting on the 6-Day Creation account in Genesis):

“the creation of the heavens first of all took place, as a kind of /roof/”

“the heaven which God made covering the waters and the earth like a /lid/”


“the heaven, therefore, being like a /dome-shaped covering/”


Even Martin Luther commented on the subject, saying:

“We Christians must be different from the philosophers [i.e. scientists] in the way we think about the causes of these things. And if some are beyond our comprehension (like those before us concerning /the waters above the heavens/), we must believe them and admit our lack of knowledge rather than either wickedly deny them or presumptuously interpret them in conformity with our understanding.” -Martin Luther, Luther’s Works. Vol 1. Lectures on Genesis, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1958), 30…/the-biblical-flat-earth-e…

I’m wondering, have you noticed this dome-like, crystalline structure, which holds waters above it, in your reading of the creation account in Genesis (or in reading elsewhere in the Bible)? It certainly is fascinating and seems rather distinct from our modern perception of a vapor atmosphere surrounding earth which gradually disappears into a spacious vacuum. Where then is the dome-like ceiling that the Scriptures speak of? Where then are the waters above that firmament?

By the way, I’m not at all trying to be argumentative as I say these things. I hope it doesn’t come across that way. I am simply bringing the Scriptures and some historic Jewish and Christian thought in front of your mind, to stimulate thought. You neither have to agree with me nor hear what I am saying.

I am curious, though, what you think about all of this. It certainly has been fascinating to me!

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