If tge Genesis scribe is wrong about the firmament… it easier to interpret Gensis 1 and 2 as a misunderstanding.
It is interesting to know that the phrase ‘windows of heaven’, used in Genesis 7:11 and other verses is used in early Jewish and Christian literature (such as 1 Enoch) to refer to holes in the firmament, for example where the sun rises and sets. This usage I’m sure didn’t come from nowhere. I see it as yet more evidence that the sky was considered to be solid in the Bible.
Do you have a good example… just so we can taste the flavor of the Raqia ?
I will also suggest that when the Jahwistic author said Eden was far away in the east, he probably meant the eastern end of the earth, where the heavenly and earthly realms met, based on Mesopotamian and Egyptian parallels. In other words the Jahwistic writer assumed the earth was flat, and small, not extending far past Mesopotamia. Plus the sky was domed shaped, as it actually met the earth on the horizon.
I think only the Egyptians might have been compelled to understand the sky as “domed” since the goddess of the Sky was “arching” over the god fo the Earth (and she was herself plastered with stars).
But on the Babylonian side of things, the layer that kept the water from falling back to earth functioned as a floor as well as a ceiling…
We could explore the perception of “dome-yness” at the highest level of the sky … but I think we have to be more restrained about using the term dome to apply to the first level (or levels) of the firmaments.
George, do you have an opinion about the in-between space that Reggie referenced in the article about the garden of Eden? If no dome in the Hebrew cosmology, wouldn’t that undermine the idea of this in-between space? I’m trying to understand this concept which is new to me.
Some Jewish writings explicitly describe 3 to 7 different “floors” of the sky. As soon as you start building apartment complexes in the sky, you know there are going to heavenly building codes to go by … so, if you
have a layer of firmament into which the stars are afixed… and above that layer is a cosmic ocean… and above that layer there is yet another “floor” or “ceiling”… the only place anyone can fit a “dome” is the very last or top layer, right?
Jonathan Burke found this image of a fairly flat sky even with Egyptian perspectives!:
Here is some more detail from one of my posts:
But, @jasonbourne4, above all, this is my favorite image!!!
[[ Be sure to CLICK on the image for maximum ZOOOM! ]]
I think it’s more linked to the rising of the sun, as it comes out of the underworld and enters the heavens it is the meeting place of heaven, earth and the underworld.
It’s worth noting that the guardian cherub with a flaming sword was placed ‘east’ of Eden, what sense does this make if there was nothing beyond Eden save the sky dome? It seems that the Hebrews (and probably other people of the ANE) did believe there was land beyond the horizon. Still, the fact that the sun had rising and setting places still shows the earth was conceived of as flat.
It turns out that 1st Enoch does not mention the windows of heaven, it does claim that there are holes in the sky however.
Read the Enuma Elish closely and you will realise that their waters above were not clouds:
137 He split her into two like a dried fish:
138 One half of her he set up and stretched out as the heavens.
139 He stretched the skin and appointed a watch
140 With the instruction not to let her waters escape…
47 The foam which Tia-mat [ . . .
48 Marduk fashioned [ . . .
49 He gathered it together and made it into clouds.
50 The raging of the winds, violent rainstorms,
51 The billowing of mist—the accumulation of her spittle—
52 He appointed for himself and took them in his hand.
In other words the waters above are not clouds.
Also, as I have said before, the Raqia was made in the midst of the ‘deep’ of Genesis 1:2, so the waters above must be liquid waters.
Looking forward to the days when you have chewed on most of the difficult parts of the Biblical literature… including Enoch.
I’m not sure you should withdraw your earlier assertion about “windows”. After all, the earlier discussions about “windows” certainly included using these apertures to let the heavenly waters come through the firmament and rain upon the Earth.
In your link, we can see that some curator named the chapter with the term “windows” even though the translation never actually uses the term “windows”. But it DOES use the term “portal” and “portals”… Frequently!
What’s more… these portals… which have to be portals through some “wall” or “floor” which would represent our firmament… are highlighted with the specific role of allowing waters (and winds) to come down from the Heavens onto the Earth.
I think the difference between “portal” and “window” in the different writings might not be a very important distinction! But there is certainly a different kind of design being described here in Enoch: these windows have to be able to let “rain” or “wind” through on any given day. I’m not sure how this would work - - unless there is some fancy/divine “air lock” chambers that lead into the portals!
I have “bolded” the places where RAIN is mentioned in verses 6 to 12:
And through the second portal in the middle comes what is fitting, and from it there come rain and fruitfulness and prosperity and dew; and through the third portal which lies toward the north come cold and drought.
And after these come forth the south winds through three portals…
… 8. And through the middle portal next to it there come forth fragrant smells, and dew and rain, and prosperity and health.
And through the third portal lying to the west come forth dew and rain, locusts and desolation.
And after these the north winds: from the seventh portal in the east come dew and rain, locusts and desolation.
And from the middle portal come in a direct direction health and rain and dew and prosperity; and through the third portal in the west come cloud and hoar-frost, and snow and rain, and dew and locusts.
And after these [four] are the west winds: through the first portal adjoining the north come forth dew and hoar-frost, and cold and snow and frost. And from the middle portal come forth dew and rain, and prosperity and blessing; and through the last portal which adjoins the south come forth drought and desolation, and burning and destruction.
I tend to view the ‘waters above’ as a celestial river, rather than a sea, perhaps the Milky Way.
The hymn to Aten mentions a ‘Nile’ (ie river) in Heaven, as Stanhope notes:
For thou hast set a Nile in heaven,
That it may descend for them and make waves upon the mountains,
It has long been known that the Hymn to Aten is a parallel of Psalm 104. This is interesting because Psalm 104 contains a similar verse:
From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
A similar idea which emphasises God watering the mountains. I suspect then that these waters come from the celestial river.