The Firmament of Heaven

The Firmament of Heaven

The Vault of Heaven

The vault of heaven is a crucial concept. The word “firmament” appears in the King James version of the Old Testament 17 times, and in each case it is translated from the Hebrew word raqiya, which meant the visible vault of the sky. The word raqiya comes from riqqua, meaning “beaten out.” In ancient times, brass objects were either cast in the form required or beaten into shape on an anvil. A good craftsman could beat a lump of cast brass into a thin bowl. Thus, Elihu asks Job, “Can you beat out [raqa] the vault of the skies, as he does, hard as a mirror of cast metal (Job 37:18)?”

Elihu’s question shows that the Hebrews considered the vault of heaven a solid, physical object. Such a large dome would be a tremendous feat of engineering. The Hebrews (and supposedly Yahweh Himself) considered it exactly that, and this point is hammered home by five scriptures:

Job 9:8, “…who by himself spread out the heavens [shamayim]…”

Psalm 19:1, “The heavens [shamayim] tell out the glory of God, the vault of heaven [raqiya] reveals his handiwork.”

Psalm 102:25, “…the heavens [shamayim] were thy handiwork.”

Isaiah 45:12, “I, with my own hands, stretched out the heavens [shamayim] and caused all their host to shine…”

Isaiah 48:13, “…with my right hand I formed the expanse of the sky [shamayim]…”

If these verses are about a mere illusion of a vault, they are surely much ado about nothing. Shamayim comes from shameh, a root meaning to be lofty. It literally means the sky. Other passages complete the picture of the sky as a lofty, physical dome. God “sits throned on the vaulted roof of earth [chuwg], whose inhabitants are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the skies [shamayim] like a curtain, he spreads them out like a tent to live in…[Isaiah 40:22].” Chuwg literally means “circle” or “encompassed.” By extension, it can mean roundness, as in a rounded dome or vault. Job 22:14 says God “walks to and fro on the vault of heaven [chuwg].” In both verses, the use of chuwg implies a physical object, on which one can sit and walk. Likewise, the context in both cases requires elevation. In Isaiah, the elevation causes the people below to look small as grasshoppers. In Job, God’s eyes must penetrate the clouds to view the doings of humans below. Elevation is also implied by Job 22:12: “Surely God is at the zenith of the heavens [shamayim] and looks down on all the stars, high as they are.”

This picture of the cosmos is reinforced by Ezekiel’s vision. The Hebrew word raqiya appears five times in Ezekiel, four times in Ezekiel 1:22-26 and once in Ezekiel 10:1. In each case the context requires a literal vault or dome. The vault appears above the “living creatures” and glitters “like a sheet of ice.” Above the vault is a throne of sapphire (or lapis lazuli). Seated on the throne is “a form in human likeness,” which is radiant and “like the appearance of the glory of the Lord.” In short, Ezekiel saw a vision of God sitting throned on the vault of heaven, as described in Isaiah 40:22.

 

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About revealed4you

First and foremost I'm a Christian and believe that the Bible is the inspired word of Yahweh God. Introducing people to the Bible through the flat earth facts.
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