What is the firmament the Bible talks about?
The King James Version of the Bible refers to the firmament 17 times. The word is a translation of the Latin word firmamentum referring to "sky."
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The first occurrences of this word are found in Genesis 1:6-8 (KJV) that reads, "And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day." These verses call the firmament "heaven," the Hebrew word meaning "sky" or "heaven." Modern translations render this word as "sky" or "expanse" as it refers to the visible area above the earth.
Genesis 1:2-5 indicates God created light on the first day and that water already existed on or by day one. Day two adds the creation of sky to divide the waters. Some also believe there continued to be "water above the sky" that in some way contributed to the long age spans of people living before the flood in Noah's time. However, this is not necessary as the passage describes the dividing of a watery world rather than sky between two bodies of water. This division of the water continued on the third day as the water, now separated from the sky, was then gathered into bodies of water called "seas." This reference to "seas" was likely concerning all large bodies of water.
In Genesis 1:16-17, God placed the sun, moon, and stars in this "firmament." Similar to other ancient writings, Genesis 1 groups stars, sun, moon, and planets together at times, referring to the "heavenly beings" that are seen in the sky. Sky from the Jewish perspective could refer to everything a person could see above the land.
Interestingly, this power to divide or control the waters is later seen in interesting ways. God floods the Earth with water in the Flood of Noah's time (Genesis 6—9). Later, He divides the Red Sea to allow Moses and the Israelites an opportunity to escape Egypt. Joshua, Elijah, and Elisha would each divide the waters of the Jordan River by God's power. Jesus would later calm the stormy waters (Mark 4:35-41) and even walk on water to prove His divine power (Matthew 14:22-33).
The word "firmament" is seen again in the Book of Psalms. Psalm 19:1 (KJV) states, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork." Psalm 150:1 (KJV) says, "Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power." Both the prophets Ezekiel and Daniel use this word, each time referring to "sky," the word usually used in modern translations.
The firmament was an Old English translation of sky used in the King James Version and other older translation of the English Bible. It could refer to the sky or to the larger "sky" that included what could be seen by the human eye, including sun, moon, stars, and planets.
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