Appendix C: The unspecific meaning of “water” in Genesis and Noah’s flood.
The words firmament and Heaven are important in explaining the rather unspecific meaning of “water” in Genesis. It is clear from the creation story that cloud cover (or fog) and seawater are both called water.
Anyone who has ever watched an approaching thunderstorm while on the beach or at sea can understand why water in cloud form and seawater are both called water. The two are indistinguishable in an approaching storm. The cloud cover looks like an approaching wave. Cloud cover is in fact water.
If one is to understand Genesis Chapters 1-11, the words used in Genesis must be clearly defined. For instance, it makes no difference what the reader means when referring to Heaven. What matters is what the author of Genesis meant with his use of the word Heaven.
One of the more common modern definitions of the word firmament is “expanse.” Expanse is a good but condensed meaning of the word firmament.
More completely defined, the word “firmament” is the name of an ancient process. During the Bronze Age, an artificer would take a lump or uselessly shaped quantity of bronze and smelt it. Then by hammering, the smelted bronze was spread out into a sheet. Finally, the hammered out sheet of bronze was shaped into something useful. Therefore, the process called firmament, was the process whereby something useless was spread out and shaped up into something useful. This process was used when creating shields for military battle, cooking utensils, etc.
As translated into English in biblical creation’s “day 2”, the word “firmament” is used to describe the expansion of clear, or cloud free, lower atmosphere on Earth. The firmament had divided the waters- the cloud cover or steamy fog had lifted away from the sea and was water above the firmament (Genesis 1:7) and seawater was water below the firmament. The firmament, or the expanse, was the extended region of visibility called Heaven (Genesis 1:8). The upper limit of Heaven’s visibility had become high-level cloud cover or overcast sky.
The use of the word “firmament” from ancient technology illustrates the level of technical language, or actually, the lack of technical language available to the author of, and later, the translators of the creation story. At the time of Moses, there was no scientific language.
Ancient historians would attempt to add their explanation to the verses concerning Earth’s atmosphere and would suggest that there were shells surrounding Earth. The shells would be populated with lights on “day 4.” Those same ancient explanations show that the biblical verses were beyond the understanding of the ancients.
The ancients had no rational concept of the universe and could not have fabricated a valid story about space, or about creation for that matter. Any attempt would be obvious mythology today. Yet, the actual biblical creation story makes perfect sense in light of today’s modern science (the topic of GENESIS DECODED). All one need do is look beyond their religious mythology- the only hurdle to a full and factual understanding of Genesis.
The other word critically important to understanding the word “water” in Genesis is the word Heaven. Firmament and Heaven are used together when talking about a division between seawater and cloud cover.
When was Heaven created? Where is Heaven? What is, Heaven?
Heaven was created prior to the chronology of the creation story. In the creation story’s very first words is the statement “In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the Earth, and the Earth was without form and void… “(Gen 1:1, 2). This statement implies that Heaven was already “formed up” or finished at the story’s beginning since only Earth was without form and void.
In the chronological creation story, the eight changes cited over the course of six “days” resulted in an Earth that was, and is, useful or livable for its inhabitants. Two of the eight changes affect the visibility of Heaven from Earth’s surface. The already completed Heaven required no change.
As to its location, Heaven is the space above Earth, from ground or sea level up through Earth’s atmosphere, and includes the entire universe. Heaven is that which one can see through; light passes freely through Heaven. The Sun, Moon, planets, and galaxies are all in the midst of Heaven, as is Earth.
Earth’s changing atmosphere would allow changes in the visibility of Heaven (or through Heaven) from Earth’s surface. As one reads the creation story, the already completed Heaven was first visible from a position at sea level, as only a narrow area of occasional visibility between the sea-covered surface of Earth and Earth’s near sea-level cloud cover.
Back then, at the time of the first creation day’s scene, the existing sea-level cloud cover was steam since Earth was very hot, and although atmospheric pressure was very high, it was rapidly falling; either condition was adequate to cause steam. Together the conditions guaranty steam at Earth’s surface.
Later, on “day 2″of the creation story, the cloud cover of “day 1” had lifted and had expanded the visibility of Heaven to include everything above Earth’s sea covered surface up to a high level of cloud cover or waters above. The biblical waters above the firmament (open expanse) were waters in the atmosphere in the form of cloud cover. Then, Genesis 1:9, clearly states that the water gathered under the firmament is the sea. These points are clear by “day 4” of the creation story. For a time, the full range or height of Heaven was invisible from an earthly perspective due to an overcast sky- a condition that persisted for billions of years.
Finally, as the cloud cover cleared on “day 4,” the place called Heaven or the visibility of Heaven from a position on Earth included the entire universe.
As casually defined, Heaven is that blissful place everyone wishes to go after death. As biblically defined, Heaven is that place where we are now, except we cannot enjoy it because of the indiscretion of Adam and Eve. This understanding answers many questions throughout the Bible including in the New Testament.
There are numerous biblical references implying the location of Heaven. The air that we breathe, and that birds fly in, is part of Heaven. Although not the part of Heaven people commonly talk about, since we all live on the surface of Earth, all people reside in the biblical Heaven even while physically alive- although perhaps at Heaven’s lowest level. The Garden of Eden story explains why the ancients could not fully enjoy the Heaven on Earth or the “Kingdom of Heaven” (Kingdom of God).
The clear definition of the words “firmament” and “Heaven” clarify the broader meaning of water in Genesis. Both seawater and cloud cover are called water without any distinction between the two except for their “above and below the firmament” designations. Cloud cover and seawater are in fact both water. However, if there is a sea level fog, there is no expanse of Heaven dividing the two and there is no distinction to make. Seawater and fog at the sea’s level are both called water.
This explains discrepancies in the biblical account of Noah’s flood and, although not the topic of this book, this clears up absurdities in the chronology of the creation story; absurdities about when the stars and planets were created.