Illustration © John and Lynn Harrison
Genesis 1:6-8 World English Bible (WEB) 6. "God said, 'Let there be an expanse in the middle of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.' 7. God made the expanse, and divided the waters which were under the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. 8. God called the expanse 'sky.' There was evening and there was morning, a second day."
In the next few verses, 6-8, we see the word 'firmament' used five times. This is an old English word that has fallen out of usage, except in the Bible and for the discussion of this Biblical topic. It is usually understood to mean 'sky.' It may also be translated 'arch.' I like this translation, because of the meanings that go with it. An arch symbolizes the expansiveness of the sky. In Jewish culture, the arch symbolizes the future home in which the bride and groom will begin their family. In a Jewish wedding ceremony, the Jewish couple stands under a canopy called a chuppah, which is a blanket, or 'protection.' So then, with this in mind, God is creating the future home in which Adam and Eve will live and start their family. The arch will be their blanket, or protection.
Unfortunately, this understanding of the word also led people to adopt an early, and mostly now abandoned, way of thinking that there was a solid dome above the Earth, that the Earth was flat, that at the edges of the Earth stood huge pillars which supported the arch, the Earth did not move, that the dome was impenetrable, and that we lived inside a 'snow globe.' Most serious scientists, especially geologists, and usually people who have been up to any height in a plane, do not hold to these ideas, in my understanding, although this writer acknowledges that some people do hold to these beliefs.
As a student of geology, and one who is studying the book of Genesis, I believe that this arch protected Adam and Eve from the harmful radiation of the sun and enabled them to live to be hundreds of years old. I also have a theory that this protection was removed, or destroyed, during, and as a cause of, the flood, causing the aging of man and ages to gradually decrease until the limit of 120 years was reached. This will be discussed further and later on in our study.
Therefore, God created the firmament, or arch, or sky, which separated the waters below from the waters above the Earth.
Further, God created... and it was so. This is the first mention of a phrase that we will see repeated, 'and it was so.' God spoke, by words coming forth from His mouth, out of nothing, and it was so. There is power in spoken words. They are spoken, not only by God, but also by us, and it is so. We need to be careful concerning the words that we speak. They shall be so.
And God called the firmament 'Heaven.' This is the second of 3 heavens, the first being Earth. They are different and separate from the third Heaven, that spiritual realm in which God exists, dwells, and has His Being.
And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. The pattern is repeated, with a day starting in the evening. See the previous discussion on this concept.
Next up will be the gathering together of the waters.