Search This Blog

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Leupold Genesis part 36 verse 6 Day 2

Now follows in v. 6-8 the creative work of the second day, the creation of the firmament or the lower heavens (Erdhimmel).

6. And God said: Let there be a firmament in middle of the waters, and let it be causing a division between waters and waters.

Again a creative word having the same power as the one of the first day, in reference to which Luther said: "God does not speak grammatical words but real things that actually exist." The "firmament" that results is called raqia'. It comes from the root meaning "to hammer" or "to spread out." Therefore, by some the word is rendered "expanse." Our "firmament" is from the translation of the Vulgate, firmamentum, which involves the idea of something that firmly put in place. The Greek sterewma conveys same idea. Yet the raqia' is the vault or dome of the heavens, or "that immense gaseous ocean, called the atmosphere, by which the earth is encircled" (Whitelaw). That so widely differing definitions as "dome" and "gaseous ocean" can be given in one breath is due to the fact, that whole set of physical laws is involved which makes the lower heavens possible: an air space encircling the earth, evaporation of waters, rising of gaseous vapours, etc. For the purpose of the firmament is declared to be that it be "in the middle of the waters" and "causing a division between waters and waters." Apparently, before this firmament existed, the earth waters on the surface of the earth and the cloud waters as we now know them were contiguous without an intervening clear air space. It was a situation like a dense fog upon the surface of the waters. Clear vision of all except the very nearest objects must have been impossible. Free activity unhampered by the fog blanket would have been impossible. Man would not have had an appropriate sphere for activity, nor could sunlight have penetrated freely to do its beneficent and cheering work. Now the physical laws that cause clouds and keep them suspended go into operation. These clouds constitute the upper waters. The solid masses of water collected upon earth constitute the lower waters. He who has observed that the heavens may pour down unbelievable quantities of waters will not hesitate to call these upper lighter cloud masses "waters" also. The languages familiar to us have the same viewpoint as v. 8, which calls this firmament "heavens." The cloud heaven is the one we mean. The English word "heaven" is from the root "to heave" or "lift up."

Very queer constructions have been put upon this raqia'. A. Jeremias wrapped up in his speculations on Babylonian mythology and the great importance the signs of the zodiac played in Babylonian thought, identifies the raqia' with the zodiac (Tierkreis). A sober reading of the definition v. 6-8 gives of the "firmament" ought to make such an attempt impossible. Far more common is that view which imputes singular crudities to the Biblical narrative at this point. Let Dillmann furnish the picture: The raqia'" was in olden times conceived of as made out of more or less solid matter, firm as a mirror of glass, ... supported by the highest mountains as by pillars ... having openings," namely the windows of heaven through which rain might be dropped upon the earth. But in spite of passages like (Re 4:6; 15:2; 22:1) there is no doctrine of the Scriptures to the effect that there were "ethereal waters," and though the "windows of heaven" are referred to (Ge 7:11; Ps 78:23; 2Ki 7:2; Isa 24:18), these purely figurative expressions (also e. g. (Job 26:11)) are such as we can still use with perfect propriety, and yet to impute to us notions of a crude view of supernal waters stored in heavenly reservoirs would be as unjust at it is to impute such opinions to the writers of the Biblical books, The holy writers deserve at least the benefit of the doubt, especially when poetic passages are involved. Again: the view expressed in this verse is not crude, absurd, or in any wise deficient. Its simple meaning has been shown above.

The expression wihi mabhdil, "and let it be causing a division," presents a very strong case where the participle is used to express duration or permanence of a certain relationship (K. S. 239 b; G. K. 116 r). Yehi is repeated to make the separate parts of the process stand out more distinctly (K. S. 370 s).

No comments: