Going back to original Hebrew texts where possible, what is the most basic understanding of the firmament (the substance/realm/space that God supposedly stuck between heaven from earth)? I've read a lot of literature theorizing about the antediluvian world, creationist texts and such, postulating (guessing about) different natures for the "firmament". But looking only at the texts, what could be learned about the Biblical/ancient-Hebrew understanding of the stuff?

  • also interested in if there are related concepts in other ancient middle eastern mythologies, in the same way that there are analogs for angels, demons, flood stories, etc.
    – zipquincy
    Sep 4 '11 at 23:28
  • Related stories wouldn't discredit anything if that's what you're looking to do. Flood stories, angels, demons they would just add to additional evidence. Sep 5 '11 at 0:38
  • not looking to discredit, just looking for other angles on the concept. but i don't think that would add additional evidence anymore than multiple cultures having elf/trolls or dragons adds evidence to those tales.
    – zipquincy
    Sep 5 '11 at 1:00

The word "firmament" denotes something firm and strong, referring to the "dome of the heavens" that was believed to make up the top of the sky in King James's day. It's a rather poor translation of the Hebrew raqiya, meaning "expanse".

Raqiya is derived from the root raqa, which refers to stretching or spreading something out; the term was used in reference to the creation of gold leaf, for example. The idea is that God put something thin and spread out (the atmosphere) over the surface of the earth.

  • Raqiya also seems as if it might speak to the idea that the universe is expanding.
    – user32
    Sep 5 '11 at 3:44

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