So after some thinking I've reverted back to my original view of the Raqi'a. That it was a solid structure holding back waters, most likely hemispherical due to the fact that the sun and moon are placed in it, and it would be hard for them to set if they were embedded in a flat plate. My evidence is as follows:
- The word Raqi'a is derived from the verb used to beat out metal. There are so many better words that could have been used.
- The word Asah used for the creation of the Raqia is often used for manufacturing something out of pre-existent material.
- The Raqi'a declares the work of God's hands in Psalm 19:1
- These facts converge and suggest the Raqi'a was something crafted out of metal, similar to the views of the sky of the Israelites' Egyptian captors.
- The Raqia is created to hold back water and has apertures for letting water through.
- Birds do not necessarily fly in the Raqi'a as 'Al Peney' can also be translated as 'upon the face of'.
I have also made some interesting observations today after reading Biologos blog post on Noah's Ark. The Raqi'a, whilst it was likely believed to be a literal thing by Ancient Israelites, like with all ancient peoples, also seems to possibly be symbolic of the power of God holding back the forces of chaos. Psalm 150:1 calls it the firmament of God's power, indicating that it is representative of God's power. The Raqi'a in Genesis 1 is holding back the primordial waters of chaos in Genesis 1:2 and preventing them from disturbing the order of God's creation. In my opinion the Raqi'a is the subject of Job 26:10. It is the boundary between the good creation of God in Genesis 1:31 (light) and the dark chaotic waters of Genesis 1:2 (darkness). In Genesis 7:11 God lets the one thing holding back the forces of chaos to falter as a punishment for the wickedness of men.