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Creation Day 2: Firmament

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Black Smoker, consisting of supercritical water. This vindicates the Hydroplate Theory.

On Creation Day 2, God made a “firmament among waters,” to “divide waters from waters.” Where was this? Perhaps not in space, but on earth. But what about the “firmament of the heavens” on Creation Day Four? That was a different firmament.

What is a firmament?

The Hebrew word raqia (רקיע) means a thin sheet, usually of hammered metal. This is the actual word that appears in the account of Creation Day Two (and Day Four). As a metaphor, it stands for a thin sheet that someone shapes and molds. The word firmament, in the Authorized (King James) Version, comes from the Latin word firmamentum. St. Jerome used that word to translate the Greek word stereoma that Ptolemy’s Seventy Translators substituted for the Hebrew raqia. Stereoma connotes firmness or strength. Raqia connotes flexibility and workability. And while the “firmament” of Creation Day Two might be relatively firm, people forget that God worked it to His liking.

The Genesis account mentions raqia prominently in the account of Creation Day Two (Genesis 1:6-8). It mentions that word again at Creation Day Four (Genesis 1:14-19). This time it adds the phrase “of the heavens” or “of the skies,” hence “hammered sheet of the skies” (raqia shemayim). Why add the qualifier on Day Four but not on Day Two? God has one of two reasons for the different use of the word shemayim:

  1. The hammered sheet is always in the sky, and He first uses that word to define something new.
  2. God means to describe two different hammered sheets, one on earth and one in space.

The first choice leads to an obvious problem: why does God speak of separating water from water in the sky? That implies liquid water in outer space. Astronomers have found large amounts of water surrounding far-off objects. But this would imply an unbroken wall or shell of water at the edge of the universe. Astronomers have guessed at such a thing, but no one has found it yet.

Some creation advocates, beginning with Isaac Newton Vail in 1874 and continuing with men like Carl Baugh today, believe that the expanse was a canopy that surrounded the earth’s atmosphere but was several hundreds of miles above and beyond it. Vail and others thought this canopy was filled with water; Baugh thinks it was filled with metallic hydrogen. The physical problems with such a theory are formidable alone. But more to the point, this cannot fit the description of an expanse dividing water from water.

The formation of the earth's crust on Creation Day Two and Three

Diagrams of the earth’s crust as the expanse or “firmament” of the earth, as it existed on Days Two and Three of creation. Figures not drawn to scale. Credit: Walter T. Brown/Center for Scientific Creation

The second choice leads to a slight confusion. Why does God say, “God called the hammered-sheet sky” (Genesis 1:8)? That depends on what He meant by the word sky (shemayim). That could mean either:

  1. Anything that we normally call “sky,” including where the birds fly, and the outer space beyond that, or:
  2. Where God lives.

Walt Brown reminds us that God did live on earth before the Fall of Man. So perhaps God meant to say, “This is where I shall live.”

Two firmaments

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So the Bible here describes two different firmaments, or expanses, or “hammered sheets.” One is the “expanse of the sky” that holds the sun, the moon, the stars, and all the planets. The other is on the earth, and a part of it. But what could it be? Brown gives a surprising answer: the earth’s crust.

Creation Day Two and the firmament of the earth

The Bible first mentions “the waters” in Creation Day One. Water was not the one thing that made up the earth. But water covered the earth on Day One. Then, on Day Two, the Bible describes a hammered-sheet-like expanse “in the middle of the waters” and “dividing waters from waters.”

Brown begins his description here, and continues it here. Briefly, the hammered sheet, or expanse, is the original earth’s crust. On this Day it was completely submerged, and also covered about half the water that God gave the earth. This water beneath the crust became the subcrustal ocean that would later, tragically, break out and cause a Flood. The water above the crust continued as the first surface oceans and other bodies of water.

But God was not finished with the crust, when He made it on Day Two. The Creation Day Two account does not say that “God saw that it was good.” This word good (Hebrew tov) here means “finished” and “meeting Divine approval.” So the crust was in place, but the shaping and molding would come later, during Creation Day Three.

Still, “God called the expanse heaven.” Meaning that God said that He would live there, once He finished His work.

Related:

Creation Day 1: Light

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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Kenneth

So far so good! Excellent little series you got going here. These articles will make for nice handouts, especially with the nice imagery to illustrate.

God Bless

James K

Terry, I have a serious question and hopefully you’ll see fit to publish it and provide a considered answer.

Now the premise behind YEC is that God created everything in 7 days. Now, I find it strange that creation scientists feel the need to come up with all sorts of convoluted theories to explain away events that happened in the Bible. (It’s much like Andrew Schlafly reducing Jesus’ miracles to quantum events).

By assigning a natural cause to the flood, aren’t you removing God from the equation? According to the hydroplate theory, God had nothing to do with it, and Noah was lucky enough to read the signs and build a boat. Surely if God, who did after all create the universe in 7 days, wanted to wipe out mankind, He could summon the rain to fall and cause the flood?

Why the need to explain away God from what happened?

James K

Thank you for your reply. However, please do not lump me in with with people asking for goddidit responses and things like “your side.” That kind of mindless antagonism is unfounded and unwarranted, especially as you do not know me, not do you know my personal beliefs. But be that as it may.

Now, unfortunately, I must reject the rest of what you said out of hand. To use your own words back at you “make up your mind which policy you prefer”. By attributing a natural cause to the Flood – which you are – you remove God from the equation. You cannot on one hand claim He effortlessly created the universe and on the other say He had to resort to a massively complex mechanism to wipe out a small race of beings. It is illogical and nonsensical.

I also reject Brown’s “brutal economy of miracles” which serves to remove God from most of the Creation process, in essence reducing Him to a form of Big Bang, from whence everything else originated. It is a form of apostasy that I find very distasteful. You complain that science denies God – from what I read here, Brown – and by supporting him, yourself – are doing exactly the same.

I shall pray for you.

[…] Creation Day 2: Firmament […]

[…] Creation Day 2: The Firmament […]

Fergus Mason

“this would imply an unbroken wall or shell of water at the edge of the universe. Astronomers have guessed at such a thing”

No they haven’t.

[…] Creation Day 2: Firmament […]

[…] Isaac Vail, in 1874, first suggested such a canopy. He read the account of Creation Day Two, about the “expanse in the middle of the waters.” But he completely misread that. That […]

[…] Reprinted from Conservative News and Views. […]

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