Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Earth is Flat and the Heaven supported above us?

There is a misconception that the bible states the world is a sphere.  There is no evidence for this misconception.  However, some interpret Isiah 40:22 to mean the bible says the Earth is a sphere, but that scripture does not say this.  In fact, that scripture makes other false statements about the nature of our world and the Universe.

From the King James Version:
"It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:"
First, a circle is not a sphere.  Second, it makes reference to the heavens as being a curtain stretched over the Earth as a tent.  This is actually in line with the beliefs at the time.  The surface of the Earth was viewed as flat, and the heavens were assumed to be stretched out over it, like a bowl turned over being placed on top a support, or like a tent covering. Many scriptures refer to the heavens in this manner. Check out Genesis 1:8, 2:4, 11:4, 28:12, just for starters.

In fact, some translations of the first creation account in Genesis 1:8 describes god as calling into existence the firmament of the heaven.  A firmament is a support or pillar.  To extend the simile of Isiah 40:22, it is the tent pole upon which heaven is held up above the Earth.  This is intended as literal, not poetic.  This was the literal belief about the nature of heaven used throughout the Bible's Old Testament.  It is a holdover from Egyptian mythology which stated that a large mountain was arisen from the sea to support the heaven.[1]

To further the bowl reference, this word firmament is an interesting derivative.  In the Hebrew, the word used for firmament is raqiya which means an extended solid surface or flat expanse.  Raqiya is derived from the Hebrew word raqa, which means beaten out or to spread material by beating, hammering, or stamping.  This is a reference to the process of making a metal bowl by hammering metal flat.  Thus in Job 37:18 we read about Elihu asking Job "Can you beat out [raqa] the vault of the skies, as he does, hard as a mirror of cast metal." (From the Kings James Version: "Hast thou with him spread out the sky which is strong, and as a molten looking-glass?")  Additionally, Job 22:14 makes reference to the "vault of heaven", sometimes translated as "vault of the sky" or "arch of heaven" in the context of discussing where god resides.[2][3][4]

To get back to the idea of the Earth being flat, many scriptures make references to the Earth being built upon a foundation. Note Job 38:4, Zechariah 12:1, Hebrews 1:10, Revelations 13:8 and Revelations 17:8.  The Earth is also described as being fixed in place in scriptures such as 1 Chronicles 16:30.

All of these promote the idea that the ancients had false concepts about the nature of Earth being flat and heaven being placed over the Earth and supported somehow so that is does not fall.  It shows that the the writers of the bible showed an acceptance and believed in these false concepts.

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Though not used as a resource for this article, I also recommend reading The Three-Story Universe.

1 comment:

Jason Hughes said...

Very well said! I've actually never considered "flat earth" versus "round earth" when it came to the ancient stories... I had considered the implications of the earth being the center of the known world as implied in scripture, but I do suppose that is a separate discussion...