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A. References to the sky as a "dome" in the Bible (e.g. in Genesis 1) are due to hellenistic additions to the text of Old Testament scriptures that were introduced in the second century BC during the reign of Antiochus IV, the Seleucid king of Syria. In those days the Greek translation was being prepared in Alexandria, where there was a sizeable colony of Jews who had become hellenized, and had grown up learning the Greek language. This translation is today known as the LXX. In the process of translation the cosmology of the Greeks was introduced. Probably, many cosmological passages in the Hebrew texts were revised to conform with the Greek Bible, or with other hellenistic writings, such as 1 Enoch.
The reference to the "strong sky" in Job 37:18 alludes to the hellenistic idea of a rigid sky, and is clearly a corruption dating from that period. Homer refers to an "iron heaven" [Odyssey 15,329], but later writers such as Pindar said it was bronze, e.g. "for the gods the bronze sky endures as a secure home forever", and "the bronze-floored home of the gods". Homer claims Zeus is stronger than all the other gods combined; he could dangle sun, moon, earth, and sea and the others from a golden chain, but they could not pull him down from heaven [Iliad, Bk 8].
A. Apparently the Hebrew world view envisioned 3 water levels, one being the waters above the firmament, another being the oceans and seas, and a third one beneath the earth, the "deep" or "tehom" that gave rise to flood waters. But of course, this was not original, it occurred due to corruptions introduced into the bible in the hellenistic age.
The Apostle Peter tells us men were "willingly ignorant" of the earth's formation "out of the water and in the water" by which I think he means it enclosed subterranean waters that gave rise to the flood [2 Pet 3:5-6]:
For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
One of the reasons for this willingness to be ignorant about the subterranean waters appears to be that some Jews living in the time of Peter wanted to adapt the cosmology of the Bible to that of the Greeks and Romans. There were probably various editions of the scriptures in those days, as there are today. We have versions that say "expanse" in Genesis 1, where others say "dome" or "firmament". The Romans believed the earth had a fiery interior, and they promoted the belief in Hades as the place of infernal punishment for the souls of the wicked. According to Polybius this was a superstition promoted by the state as a means of controlling the people [Histories VI,56].
The concept of waters above the sky were a consequence of the revision
of the text of Genesis 1 that was initiated by Antiochus IV in the 2nd
century BC, and which was foretold in the prophecy of Daniel 8. The
'raqia' made on day 2 was
identified with the rigid sky of the
geocentric cosmology of the Greeks with the addition of the statement
"And God called the firmament Heaven," which was introduced secretly by
Antiochus and his agents. The 'raqia'
in Genesis 1 was originally the
earth's crust, and the same word 'raqia'
(or one quite similar) is used
in reference to the earth in Isaiah 42:5 "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." The phrase
"spread forth the earth" contains the root of 'raqia' which
supports my conclusion that the original meaning of 'raqia' in Genesis
1 was the earth rather than the rigid sky.
The reference to waters above the heavens in Ps 148:4 was also part of the fraud initiated by Antiochus: "Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens."
There was no rigid sky with upper waters in the original scriptures; these notions are due to corruptions introduced in the hellenistic age. The idea of "windows of heaven" seems to have been unknown before the time of the prophet Elisha [2 Kings 7:2]:
Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.
How come this leader of Israel, who was closely associated with the king, was not aware of the windows in heaven mentioned in Genesis 7:11? Perhaps because the "windows" mentioned in that verse were added later, in the hellenistic age, to support the corruptions that Daniel foretold in his prophecy! It was intended to support the idea of a rigid sky with waters above, which were introduced when the 'raqia' was redefined as the rigid heaven of the Greek cosmology, and to disguise the fraud of Antiochus.
A. Belief in a rigid heaven dominated Greek religion, poetry, and philosophy. The Greeks imposed their beliefs on other cultures, including the geocentric cosmology, and their idea of a rigid heaven, especially during the hellenistic period. This is illustrated by the revision of the cosmology of the scriptures of the Jews.
In the book of Isaiah, God says 'heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool,' which is incompatible with geocentrism. [Isa 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?
But how does this work, if Isaiah believed heaven to be a rigid sphere on which God sits? Did the divine legs poke down through holes in the firmament to the earth? Those must have been amazingly long legs!
And if Isaiah supposed the heaven was rigid, and revolves about the earth, as in the geocentric cosmology, what king rotates his throne about his footstool every day?
Also, if Isaiah were aware of 3 water levels in Genesis 1, below the earth's crust (tehom), oceans and seas, and the upper waters above the rigid heaven, did he imagine that God sits partly submerged, as if he were taking a perpetual bath? Was Isaiah really so unaware of the implications of a rigid heaven with water above, that whirled about the earth every day?
The answer, of course, is that the idea of a rigid heaven revolving about the earth was not present in the Bible in Isaiah's time, it was introduced later, in the hellenistic age, by the Seleucid king Antiochus IV, as foretold by the prophet Daniel.
A. I suggest the word 'raqia' originally referred to the earth, and its association with the rigid sky was only acquired in the 2nd century BC as a result of the cosmological corruptions introduced by the Seleucid king Antiochus IV, that had been foretold by the prophet Daniel. Before, the word 'raqia' in Genesis 1 referred to the earth's crust which God made on the 2nd day in the midst of the waters. The Apostle Peter refers to this event, Peter 3:5-6:
For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.
Apparently Peter believed the Jews were "willingly ignorant" about the formation of the earth's crust on day 2 in the midst of the primeval waters, and instead accepted a creation story that was corrupted by the addition of statements that God had assigned names to Day, Night, Heaven, Earth, and Sea. Josephus adds Evening and Morning to the list of things that were assigned names. If God indeed named these things, surely there would be some verses in the Psalms saying what fine names he had chosen for them!
A. The word 'raqia', translated "firmament" in Genesis 1 in the KJV, suggests a rigid, rotating heaven. The word comes from Jerome's Latin translation which uses the word "firmamentum" meaning a prop or support. The first chapter of Genesis is heavily overloaded with the term; the word "firmament" occurs nine times (in the KJV) in this one chapter. The reason the word "firmament" is prominent in the first chapter of Genesis, although it is rare elsewhere, is because of corruptions introduced into the OT in the hellenistic period, that were foretold in the prophecies of Daniel.
Before the revision of the Bible's cosmology, the creation account
in Genesis 1 described the
of a submerged "solid layer" [raqia]
in the primeval waters on day 2.
were waters above, and waters below. It separated these waters into two
levels. On day 3 this "solid layer" became the dry land as it rose
the waters. The upper waters became the oceans and seas, while the
waters were the subterranean waters. This two layer scheme was altered
so that the statement "and God called the firmament Heaven" was added
1:8, which re-defined the 'raqia'
or the "solid layer" that
had referred to the earth's rocky crust. Other changes were made to
the corruption that Antiochus introduced such as statements about God
names to Day, Night, Earth, and Sea, all prominent deities of the
Related Web links:
Report on the Firmament by Douglas Cox [http://www.sentex.net/~tcc/firma1.html].
Is the raqiya‘ (‘firmament’) a solid dome? by James Patrick Holding [http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/4169.asp]
A. Here is a story about some of the Israelites going up the mountain with Moses, and getting a look at God, and the rigid heaven, which is the color of sapphire, blue like the sky. But the upper waters are missing! [Ex 24:9-11]:
Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.
Why isn't God sitting in the upper waters up to his neck? Where are the "waters above the firmament" in this picture? Clearly, they were overlooked; when the agents of Antiochus IV added the above story to support the rigid sky, with God sitting upon it as if he were Zeus, they forgot to mention the waters that are supposed to be above the heavenly firmament!
And of course, in the NT, John twice shows the story is false, for he says "No man has seen God at any time." In John 1:18:
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
And in 1 John 4:12:
No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
A. The story of the sun standing still for Joshua was a tall tale introduced in the hellenistic period to support geocentrism, and was not part of the original Hebrew scriptures. [Joshua 10:12-13]:
Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.
Joshua spoke to the sun, which is referred to as the Lord or Yahweh. This suggests it is a corruption introduced by supporters of the pagan god Apollo, who wanted to identify Yahweh with Apollo, the god of prophecy, who was identified with the sun in the hellenistic period. Apollo was worshipped by some Jews at the time of Antiochus IV, as indicated by the coins of the period.
The promise of God to Noah after the flood was that there would never be any interruption of the regular sequence of day and night, which would be one of the consequences of the sun failing to go down for a whole day. Obviously Joshua would have been aware of this and so would know better than to try to command the sun to "stand still". [Gen 8:20-22]:
And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
Just as this covenant with Noah precludes the sun standing still for Joshua, the covenant mentioned by Jeremiah does also; Jeremiah obviously thought the sun's regular rising and setting had never been violated when he wrote the following [Jer 33:20-21]:
Thus saith the LORD; If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; Then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers.
Similarly the author of Hebrews, when he listed some of the heroes of faith from the OT, never mentions Joshua telling the sun to stand still, which suggests that he considered it a mere fable and not genuine scripture, if indeed he was even aware of it.
For more information see: If the Earth Stopped...
A. In the LXX version of Psalms 19:1-2 [Benton's translation] we find this:
In the sun he has set his tabernacle; and he comes forth as a bridegroom out of his chamber: he will exult as a giant to run his course. His going forth is from the extremity of heaven, and his circuit to the [other] end of heaven: and no one shall be hidden from his heat.
It appears here that the writer thought of God as a huge giant who lives in the sun. Certainly it was not David. Was the scribe who added this bit of cosmology thinking of the doctrine of the stoic philosopher Cleanthes, who taught that God lived in the sun? Or was he a hellenized Jew who venerated the Greek deity Apollo? Apparently, in the second century BC, many of the Jews identified Yehweh with Apollo. This passage, and its implied geocentricism, probably dates from the hellenistic period.
A restored version of Psalm 19 is available here.
A. The scientific revolution was probably the most significant event in man's history, since the resurrection of Jesus. Is it mentioned in the Bible? Yes, in Daniel's prophecies. He wrote about the heavens, God's sanctuary, being "set right" or "justified" in Daniel 8:14. The 2,300 "days" or "evening mornings," representing 2,300 years, begin when the angelic messenger spoke his words. About 2,300 years after Daniel saw his vision, the prophecy was fulfilled, when Isaac Newton's discoveries became known. That was in the mid eighteenth century. The heaven, or universe was "set right" by the scientific revolution. The old cosmology was abandoned, with its rigid firmament and planetary spheres, and a true understanding of the laws of the universe was possible.
Another prophetic scripture, which I think depicts the revolution in astronomy which came about after Newton's time, is found in Isaiah 34:4:
The heavens will be rolled together like a scroll, and all the stars shall fall like leaves from a vine, or dry fruit from the fig tree.
When a scroll is rolled together, it suddenly stops. The heavens, which had been viewed as rolling around the earth, suddenly stopped their rotation; this was the scientific revolution in astronomy. The sky was no longer seen as revolving around the earth, but the earth rotated instead. So a scroll being rolled together (which inevitably must stop) also pictures the scientific revolution.
In Newton's theory of universal gravitation, all the stars are understood to be "falling", like a fig or a leaf falls to the earth. Newton used the falling apple to illustrate the pull of gravity upon the moon, but Isaiah long ago wrote of falling figs, which of course is equally valid.
A. Actually the mention of "sacrifice" in Daniel 8:11-13 is a gloss or a mistranslation, and is not part of the text in the original language, as can be seen by the use of italics in the KJV. Italics are used to indicate words added by translators in their attempt to make sense of the text. In this case, the addition of "sacrifice" probably obscures the real meaning. Some scholars prefer to use the word "Constant" in place of "daily sacrifice." I think this is much better, as it allows one to see what the prophecy actually says, rather than blindly follow someone else's interpretation.
Why would Daniel be interested in a ritual temple sacrifice, when there was no temple in his time? Would it make any sense for God be so upset about the lapse of a ritual sacrifice of the Jews for a few years, that meant the survival of a few thousand lambs, which would otherwise have been slaughtered? Of what cosmic significance would it be, that those lambs survived? How is it important for us to know about it at the end time?
Daniel 8:10 mentions stars, and the host of heaven, which includes various astronomical objects. The "host of heaven" refers to the sun and moon, and planets, and galaxies, constellations, and other celestial things. So if it is not a ritual "daily sacrifice" that was taken away in vs 11, what could it be? I think it means the knowledge of the earth's diurnal rotation, that was stamped out by Antiochus IV. What is more "constant," after all, than the earth's rotation?
Daniel's prophecy shows that the idea of a rigid, rotating heaven is foreign to the Bible, and identifies statements supporting it in the Old Testament as corruptions dating from the time of Antiochus IV in the hellenistic period. The notion of a rigid sky, a closed shell centered on the earth, was dominant in the hellenistic age. It is a concept typical of the ancient Greeks, and in fact the idea of a solid sky and geocentricism was the focus of their religion and philosophy. The idea of a solid sky can be traced back to the poems of Homer. Since the scientific revolution, everyone now knows there is no rigid shell or firmament centered on the earth.
Daniel foretold in symbolic language the revolution in astronomy which came 23 centuries after his time, in Daniel 8:14. After 2,300 "days," or "evening mornings," (which I take to represent 2,300 years) the heavenly "sanctuary" would be cleansed or justified. God's sanctuary is heaven, or the universe. I suggest this refers to the old concept of a rigid rotating firmament, and the system of planetary spheres centered on the earth, being abandoned as a result of scientific discoveries, in the mid eighteenth century.
Man's view of the heavens was "set right" in the eighteenth century, 23 centuries after Daniel's vision. This was the heavenly sanctuary being "set right" as foretold in Daniel 8:14.
A. In both verses quoted below, the italicised text which says the world cannot be moved seems out of place, and these may be examples of cosmological changes made during the hellenisation campaign initiated by Antiochus IV.
The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved. Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting.
Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously.
Daniel 8:11 says the little horn takes away the "constant", indicating Antiochus IV stamped out knowledge of the earth's diurnal rotation. It may have been a reaction to the discoveries of the astronomers like Seleucus about the nature of the universe. If there were no rigid sky, belief in Zeus was threatened, because Zeus was identified with the rigid sky that held the stars. Adding statements that the earth is fixed in sacred texts would help dispell doubts about the geocentric system.
A. Perhaps God had other ways of conveying the information that he intended for us, free of distortion or errors. Although there has obviously been a certain amount of "noise" introduced in the process of transmission of the text of the Bible, down through the centuries, due to translation, or other textual editing, and insertion of various glosses and corruptions, there are error detection and correction mechanisms built into the Bible, that enable us to identify most of these flaws and eliminate them, and so receive the information God originally intended without any errors. One of the most obvious techniques which helps to achieve this is built-in redundancy. We find that many things are repeated in the Bible. Themes from Genesis, and other books, are found repeated in the Psalms. Bits and pieces of the OT are found quoted in the New; there are four gospel accounts, etc. The use of symbols, which summarize various biblical themes, also helps to convey the information error free. Evidently, God knew something about information theory before Claude Shannon thought of it.
In order to eliminate the "noise" in the scriptures we need to become aware of it, and God provides us with detailed information about the most significant corruptions that have been introduced into the Bible by means of the prophecies of Daniel, which reveal that the cosmology of the OT was modified in the hellenistic period, in the 2nd century BC, by Antiochus IV, who initiated changes in Genesis 1 that identified the "raqia" made of day 2 with heaven. Previously the "raqia" referred to the earth's crust that was formed in the primeval waters. The revision of many of the cosmological passages in the OT, which continued for many years, was intended to make the cosmology of the OT fit hellenistic ideas about cosmology including geocentricism, a stationary earth, and a rigid rotating heaven or 'firmament' that the Greeks identified with Zeus.
A. The Letter of Aristeas, which many scholars think was written about 150 BC, claims that the old Hebrew manuscripts of the Bible were corrupted, and needed to be restored to their "pure form." Of course, this was probably simply a ruse, a fictional excuse for producing a Greek version which differed from the old Hebrew original. In what way would the Greek version likely be different? Most likely, in its cosmology. The original creation account of Genesis said nothing about a rigid heavenly shell or firmament holding up the stars, and the hellenists wanted the Bible's cosmology to be updated.
The setting for the story was the court of Ptolemy Philadelphus in Alexandria. The Letter of Aristeas attributes discrepancies between the Greek version, and the older Hebrew text, as due to the translators "correcting" the flaws in the old. The "Memorandum of Demetrius" explains the proposal to translate the Hebrew scriptures into Greek for the library. It is contained in the Letter of Aristeas, and says in part:
Books of the Law of the Jews, with some few others, are wanting. For it happens that these books are written in the Hebrew script and language, but, according to the evidence of the experts, have been somewhat carelessly committed to writing and are not in their original form; for they have never had the benefit of royal attention. It is important that these books, duly corrected, should find a place in your library, because this legislation, in as much as it is divine, is of philosophical importance and of innate integrity.
Obviously, the claim that the original Hebrew text had been "carelessly" written is suspect. How could the pagan Greek scholars know this? Why would Jews have been careless in the way they transmitted their sacred scriptures? The Letter of Aristeas does not say in what way the original text was defective, but this document indicates discrepancies must have existed between the Hebrew originals and the new Greek translation. The prophecy of Daniel 8:10-14 indicates this affected primarily cosmology. The cosmological ideas of the Hellenistic Greeks were included in the Bible, by means of corruptions. The Letter of Aristeas included fanciful stories of divine guidance for the translators, and warns against future changes or corrections: "....the priests and the elders and some of the corporate body and the leaders of the people rose up and said, 'Inasmuch as the translation has been well and piously made and is in every respect accurate, it is right that it should remain in its present form and that no revision of any sort take place.' When all had assented to what had been said, they bade that an imprecation be pronounced, according to their custom, upon any who should revise the text by adding or transposing anything whatever in what had been written down, or by making any excision; and in this they did well, so that the work might be preserved imperishable and unchanged always." [From The Other Bible, edited by Willis Barnstone, Harper Collins, 1984, p. 249]
The use of an imprecation or curse suggests that there was some argument or controversy at the time about the validity of some aspects of the new version, or there would have been no need to proclaim the "inerrancy" of the Greek translation. It probably had a completely different cosmology than the original Hebrew text. Apparently the Hebrew was then modified to conform to the Greek. In the process, it seems that the Hebrew scroll had no room for the words "And God saw that it was good" after the account of the events of day 2, in Genesis 1:8, which is found in the LXX; perhaps these words were erased in the Hebrew to make room for the insertion of "And God called the firmament Heaven."
Even though the Letter of Aristeas is legend and fiction, it is clear that its purpose was to promote the authority of the LXX over the Hebrew and other translations. The document shows the influence of hellenistic style philosophy amongst the Jews of Alexandria in the second century BC. It also proposes identifying Yehweh with Zeus, which was apparently common at that time.
A. The promises of God to Abraham are the heart of the gospel. Christians have faith that God will reward those who seek him. They believe God's promises will be kept. If we can't rely on what God says about the nature of the universe, how can we rely on the promises of the gospel? After all, God would certainly have known what is up in heaven, and whether it is a rigid firmament revolving about the earth.
Since we now know there is no rigid firmament, how should we explain the defective cosmology of the Old Testament?
The answer is that it is due to "noise" accumulated during the transmission of the messages of God from ancient times to the present. The cosmological passages in the Bible have been corrupted, and this was foretold in the prophecy of Daniel.
Because the nature of the "noise" that was introduced is now known, the original information can be restored. We can identify the "noise" present in the Bible because it has characteristics of the hellenistic cosmology. The rigid sky, waters above the heavens, the sun represented as a god, going round the earth, and the earth at rest are all features of the hellenistic cosmology. Any statements in the Old Testament supporting these notions are suspect. Identifying these corruptions validates the message of the Bible and should help people to believe the promises of God in the gospel.
A. Many of the cosmological statements in the Old Testament appear to be anachronistic; cosmological ideas characteristic of the hellenistic age occur in Biblical writings that are many centuries older. The cosmology was revised, and the Bible scholars and critics missed it. The corruption of the Bible's cosmology in the hellenistic period is understood from an interpretation of the cryptic language of Daniel's vision described in chapter 8, which indicates that the main revisions in the Bible's cosmology were initiated by Antiochus IV. His identification of the "raqia" or "firmament" of Genesis 1 with heaven was the source of the strange idea of "waters above the heavens." Previously, the "raqia" referred to the earth's rocky crust.
Exposing the fraud of Antiochus IV, and identifying the statements supporting hellenistic cosmology, does not kill the credibility of the Bible. But why have the Bible scholars missed them? They failed to recognize these hellenistic corruptions, which once identified, appear as conspicuous as a moustache on the Mona Lisa. The presence of sophisticated error identification and correction mechanisms in the Bible, such as we have in the prophecy of Daniel chapter 8, enhances the credibility of the Bible; Daniel's prophecy identified the character of the "noise" that was introduced in another age. The flawed cosmological statements in scripture, such as the references to "waters above the heavens" [Psalms 148:4] and the "strong sky" [Job 37:18] etc., can now be dismissed as "noise" introduced by scribes in the hellenistic period. When this "noise" is eliminated, the information that was intended for us can be more clearly understood.
"Day" and "Night" were among the things given names in
1. They were represented in the parade of all the pagan
known to man, in the great festival of hellenism at
Daphne that Antiochus hosted, described by Polybius. This was the year
following his Egyptian campaign in which he was turned back from
by the threat of Roman intervention given him by C. Popilius Laenas,
and his subsequent attack
A. Some critical scholars have suggested the wheels in the vision of God's throne described in the first chapter of Ezekiel have been inserted by later editors. For example, Ralph Klein writes [Klein, Ralph W. 1988. Ezekiel: The prophet and his message, University of South Carolina Press. p. 18]:
The most serious question about the integrity of the chapter deals with the account of the wheels ... someone, presumably early in the traditional history of the book, found it appropriate to add wheels to the visionary scenery.
The enormous wheels may be allusions to planetary spheres, such as
those proposed by Eudoxus
of Cnidus. Probably the editing and introduction of "wheels"
occurred in the hellenistic period. It is also notable that this vision
omits any mention of waters
the heavenly firmament.
The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament comments as
follows on "firmament."
In pre-Christian Egypt confusion was introduced into biblical cosmology when the LXX, perhaps under the influence of Alexandrian theories of a 'stone vault' of heaven, rendered 'rakia' by 'stereoema,' suggesting some firm, solid structure. This Greek concept was then reflected by the Latin 'firmamentum,' hence KJV 'firmament.' To this day negative criticism speaks of the 'vault, or "firmament," regarded by Hebrews as solid, and supporting "waters" above it' (BDB, p. 956); cf. the rendering of Job 37:18, 'The skies, strong (uzim) as a molten mirror' (cf Psa 150:1) their 'mighty expanse', changed by the RSV to read, 'the skies, hard.' Babylonian mythology recounts how Marduk used half of Tiamat's carcass to from the heavens (shamamu) held in place by a crossbar (!). In the OT, however, Isaiah insists that God 'stretches out the heavens [lit.] like gauze (doq, Isa 40:22).'
[R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, and Bruce Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Moody Publishers, 1980]
Julian Morgenstern concluded in 1920 that "firmament of heaven" (raqiya
shamayim) in Gen. 1:6, 1:8, 1:14, and 1:19 has been interpolated.
[Morgenstern, Julian. 1920. The Sources of the Creation Story--Genesis
1:1-2:4. The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures,
Vol. 36, No. 3.
(Apr., 1920), pp. 169-212.]
The second chapter of the 2nd century BC Book of Jubilees contains a paraphrase of the events of the creation week. It was written by a Pharisee, who was possibly also a priest, who was opposed the hellenization which was being promoted by many of the priests in the period after Antiochus IV. R.H. Charles wrote:
His work constitutes an enlarged Targum on Genesis and Exodus, in which difficulties in the biblical narrative are solved, gaps supplied, dogmatically offensive elements removed, and the genuine spirit of later Judaism infused into the primitive history of the world. His object was to defend Judaism against the attacks of the hellenistic spirit that had been in the ascendant one generation earlier and was still powerful, and to prove that the law was of everlasting validity.
This work makes no mention of the naming of Day, Night, Heaven, Earth, and Sea, that is found the Genesis account. This is an indication that the statements about God assigning these names were not present in the original account, but were added at a late date. Either the Book of Jubilees was written before the text of Genesis 1 was changed, or its author considered those statements to be hellenistic corruptions and omitted mention of them. They are included in the account Josephus provides, and he also adds that evening morning were named.
Here is the account of the first 3 days of creation from the Book of Jubilees, [Chapter 2, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, by R.H. Charles, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913]:
1. And the angel of the presence spake to Moses according to the word of the Lord, saying: Write the complete history of the creation, how in six days the Lord God finished all His works and all that He created, and kept Sabbath on the seventh day and hallowed it for all ages, and appointed it as a sign for all His works.
2. For on the first day He created the heavens which are above and the earth and the waters and all the spirits which serve before him -the angels of the presence, and the angels of sanctification, and the angels [of the spirit of fire and the angels] of the spirit of the winds, and the angels of the spirit of the clouds, and of darkness, and of snow and of hail and of hoar frost, and the angels of the voices and of the thunder and of the lightning, and the angels of the spirits of cold and of heat, and of winter and of spring and of autumn and of summer and of all the spirits of his creatures which are in the heavens and on the earth, (He created) the abysses and the darkness, eventide <and night>, and the light, dawn and day, which He hath prepared in the knowledge of his heart.
3. And thereupon we saw His works, and praised Him, and lauded before Him on account of all His works; for seven great works did He create on the first day.
4. And on the second day He created the firmament in the midst of the waters, and the waters were divided on that day -half of them went up above and half of them went down below the firmament (that was) in the midst over the face of the whole earth. And this was the only work (God) created on the second day.
5. And on the third day He commanded the waters to pass from off the face of the whole earth into one place, and the dry land to appear.
6. And the waters did so as He commanded them, and they retired from off the face of the earth into one place outside of this firmament, and the dry land appeared.
7. And on that day He created for them all the seas according to their separate gathering-places, and all the rivers, and the gatherings of the waters in the mountains and on all the earth, and all the lakes, and all the dew of the earth, and the seed which is sown, and all sprouting things, and fruit-bearing trees, and trees of the wood, and the garden of Eden, in Eden and all plants after their kind.
In the account of the first 3 days, there is no identification of the "firmament" with the heavens; the phrase "firmament of heaven" does not occur, and the mention of the word "firmament" in connection with the events of day 3 seems to imply it refers to the earth rather than the sky.
Creation of a subterranean place of suffering for the souls of the dead is not mentioned in the creation account of Genesis 1, and is nowhere taught in the Bible. Polybius (c.200-after 118 BCE) claimed this belief was a superstition introduced by rulers as a means of controlling the people. He wrote [Histories VI,56]:
I feel that there was nothing random or irresponsible in the policy of our forefathers when they introduced among the masses the conceptions of Religion and the notions regarding Hell, and that it is far more irresponsible and irrational of the present generation to expurgate these ideas.
The author of 1 Enoch imagined the dead were assigned to one of 3 locations. The souls of the impious and sinners suffer torment in a chasm, from which there is no hope of escape, which resembles the teaching that became current in Christian tradition. 1 Enoch 22:9-13:
At that time therefore I inquired respecting him, and respecting the general judgment, saying, Why is one separated from another? He answered, Three separations have been made between the spirits of the dead, and thus have the spirits of the righteous been separated. Namely, by a chasm, by water, and by light above it. And in the same way likewise are sinners separated when they die, and are buried in the earth; judgment not overtaking them in their lifetime. Here their souls are separated. Moreover, abundant is their suffering until the time of the great judgment, the castigation, and the torment of those who eternally execrate, whose souls are punished and bound there for ever. And thus has it been from the beginning of the world.
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