This is a synopsis of our main conclusions on this passage until a fuller treatment can be given.
Can you, like him, spread out the skies, hard as a molten mirror?
(Job 37:18, NRSV)
תַּרְקִיעַ עִמּוֹ לִשְׁחָקִים חֲזָקִים כִּרְאִי מוּצָק
This passage is consistently used as one of the primary supporting texts for the ‘sky is a solid vault’ concept, and understandably so. The context of this passage is greatly important. It is a lengthy description of a storm which culminates with the theophany of God from the midst of an intense storm or tornado (seʿārâ, 38:1). Verse 15 speaks of God “causing the light of his cloud to shine forth.” The next two verses continue:
Do you know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of the one whose knowledge is perfect, 17 you whose garments are hot when the earth is still because of the south wind? (NRSV)
Strikingly, our verse comes immediately after that verse, in which the clouds of the sky were the intense focus, as well as other quite local atmospheric phenomena, namely the hot blasting wind from the desert. A couple verses later we have this:
Continue reading ‘The Skies, Hard as a Molten Mirror’? – Job 37:18 (Synopsis)
The number of texts in the bible that have been interpreted as referring to a firmament must have credible alternative explanations if this work is to stand. There is no way to summarize the problems and solutions to these different passages in a unified way, as they are unique to each passage.
This article will continually be expanded as we add more posts that address each of these passages in a separate post. The plan is to add links to each of these articles as they are added, perhaps with a short synopsis for each one.
… forthcoming …
In light of the consensus view on ‘the firmament’ that we just laid out, I present the following alternative view: Not only did the Hebrews not believe in any such ‘firm sky’ notion, apparently, neither did their ancient contemporaries. In short, there has never been any wide-spread ‘firmament’ notion in antiquity. What there has been is a confluence of cultural and linguistic misunderstandings and misreadings of ancient texts. In the case of the Hebrews, these misunderstandings started early in the history of biblical interpretation.
Many will read these claims with incredulity. But this is true in large part because most people have only been familiar with the evidence at a distance, being influenced mostly from popular level summary views on the purported ‘Hebrew Conception of the Universe.’ Most of these depictions, even if we were to accept the firmament notion, are highly selective with the evidence, giving the impression that the cosmic vault of the sky notion could be found on every other page of the ancient source material, when the direct opposite is the case. In the vast majority of cases, when the Bible or when other ancient peoples spoke of the sky, they spoke of it as a spacious region which could be inhabited: by birds, by the cosmic bodies, and then most importantly, by God himself (by ‘the gods’ for the non-Hebrews). The actual ratio might be closer to 1,000 to 1.
As such, these common depictions Continue reading Neither the Hebrews nor Ancient Man Ever Believed in a ‘Firmament,’ But Both Believed in a Spacious Heavens