Bill, I wanted to provide a Hebrew exegesis reminder to the scriptures you cited in relation to “The earth does not move”:
And that is my interest as well: What did these verses mean to the original audience?
If we look up these two verses in the Hebrew Bible, you will notice the key words ERETZ and TEBEL. I have already made the point on many occasions that ERETZ primarily means “land”, “nation”, “region” and sometimes even works like “the ground” in English. TEBEL has sometimes been called “the poetic equivalent of ERETZ” [which can sometimes confuse the issue, IMHO, though I see the point], but it too should not be automatically assumed to refer to planet earth.
I compare the Hebrew word TEBEL to the Greek word KOSMOS in the New Testament. KOSMOS was often used to refer to the inhabited world while GE in Greek often referred to the entire planet of rocks and continents. Thus, 2Peter 3 refers to the Noahic flood judgment by water as destroying the KOSMOS, inhabited world of people, while the future judgment by fire will destroy the GE, the entire planet earth. And when God so loved the WORLD in John 3:16, he loved the people of that world, not the rocks and continents (in which case the Greek text would have used GE instead of KOSMOS.)
[KOSMOS is also used at times to refer to the entire order of things in the universe. A lexicographic commentary on KOSMOS gets quite complicated, but it is very difficult to discuss any of the English Bible scriptures involving the words “earth” or “world” without first checking to see what is behind the translation in the Hebrew or Greek original texts.]
We are reminded of how the ancient Hebrews thought of the TEBEL when the Psalmist says:
Ps 97:4 His lightnings lighted up the world [TEBEL]; the earth [ERETZ] saw, and trembled.
Notice that “planet earth” doesn’t really make a great equivalent for TEBEL here (nor for ERETZ, for that matter, without providing a translation footnotes and a bit of commentary.) Is the Bible claiming in Psalm 97:4 that God’s individual lightning strikes are visible throughout the planet? No. Is the passage claiming that every region of the planet experiences lightning? No. What we must keep in mind that when the ancient Hebrews talked about TEBEL and ERETZ, they were basically thinking about their daily experience----where the above was the HASHAMAYIM (the heavens) and the below was the ERETZ (the land.) Indeed, for them, “the heavens and the earth”, as in Genesis 1:1, was a kind of idiom for our words “the universe.” Yet, both TEBEL and ERETZ were usually viewed as a “personal phenomenon” they experienced because it referred to where they lived: the land, that is, their world.
So my caution is as before, when people today say “The Bible claims that the earth cannot be moved”, they assume that that means “The Bible claims that planet earth doesn’t move.” But that is not at all what was on the minds of the Hebrews. They were saying something far more obvious: We live on solid ground, and even if earthquakes and mudslides happen at times, we plant our feet on solid ground. We build houses on stable foundations which will still be here tomorrow. Other things move around all the time and can even be moved by people. But only YHWH can move the ERETZ----because God established the ERETZ and it cannot be moved by others! Only God has that power.
The moment people today make statements like “The Bible says that planet earth doesn’t move.”, they’ve already started falling into an anachronistic fallacy hole. I’m NOT saying that the ancient Hebrews had a scientifically sound cosmology. They did not. They had lots of wrong views. Yet, I’m emphasizing that they weren’t trying to make the kinds of scientific statements or even the emphasis upon cosmological statements which many people today imagine.
Frankly, I wish all English Bible translations of the Hebrew Old Testament would stop using the word EARTH. Too many English readers will automatically assume that EARTH means “planet earth”, when that is an anachronistic label which wouldn’t have made sense in that culture. [Of course, “the circle of the earth” that is often gleefully cited by many popular apologetics website is NOT an ancient reference to the earth being a sphere. That is so wrong that it makes me nauseous. “The circle of the ERETZ/land” refers to the horizon and the disk of land on which every person with eyes knows that they live. We all live on an ERETZ which you observe every time you step outside: you see a disk of land extending to the horizon in all directions no matter where you look! That is exactly what the ancient Hebrews were talking about—and it is also an entirely valid “scientific description” of one’s world.
Bill, you might find interesting my impromptu translations/paraphrases of the two verses you quoted:
Psalm 104:5 He established THE GROUND WE WALK UPON and its foundations, So that it will not totter forever and ever.
Psalm 93:1 The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: THE INHABITED WORLD also is stablished, that it cannot be moved.
In this manner, we generally side-step any implication that the Psalmist was describing the shape and absolutely motionlessness of planet earth.
This is also a good illustration of why Bible translator have a really hard job.