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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Does the Bible teach that the earth is flat


Fayetteville Freethinkers

Does the Bible teach that the earth is flat?

Many if not most people are unaware that the Bible teaches the earth is flat. All standard Bible references, all standard mainstream non-fundamentalist Bible scholarship acknowledges this. Like on so many other topics, the Bible simply reflects the primitive and mistaken cosmology of the day.
flat earth
Ancient Israel imagined the earth to be a flat disk (Isa 42.5)

Isaiah 42
5 Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:
resting on a foundation or pillars (Job 9.6).
Job 9
6 Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble.


It is surrounded by the ocean (Pss 24.2; 136.6).

Psalm 24
2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.

6 To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy [endureth] for ever.

It has four corners (Isa 11.12; Ezek 7.2; job 37.3; 38.13)
Isaiah 11
12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

Ezekiel 7
2 Also, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD unto the land of Israel; An end, the end is come upon the four corners of the land.

Job 37
3 He directeth it under the whole heaven, and his lightning unto the ends of the earth.

13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?

and an edge (Isa 24.36)

??
or ends (Isa 40.8; Job 28.4; Ps 48.11; Jer 6.22; 25.32).
Isaiah 40
8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

He must mean this passage:

Isaiah 40
28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, [that] the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? [there is] no searching of his understanding.

4 The flood breaketh out from the inhabitant; [even the waters] forgotten of the foot: they are dried up, they are gone away from men.

11 Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments.

22 Thus saith the LORD, Behold, a people cometh from the north country, and a great nation shall be raised from the sides of the earth.

32 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth.

It also has a center or navel (Ezek 38.12).

Ezekiel 38
12 To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places [that are now] inhabited, and upon the people [that are] gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.

Except for the implication that Jerusalem is the earth’s center, ancient Israel’s view of the world did not differ from that of other ancient Near Eastern peoples.
— Stuhlmueller, Carroll. The Collegeville Pastoral Dictionary of Biblical Theology, p234. (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1996)

[T]he ancient Hebrews considered the universe on a three-leveled structure. The earth was located between the heaven, the upper part, and the underworld, the lowest part of the universe. The earth was regarded as a vast plain, occupied partly by the sea, partly by continents studded with mountains, furrowed by rivers, and dotted with lakes. The horizon encircling the earth quite naturally suggested the idea of a circular shape to the ancient Hebrews.
— Stadelmann, Luis I.J. The Hebrew Conception of the World – A Philological and Literary Study, p126. (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1970)

The Hebrew Universe:
The ancient Hebrews imagined the world as flat and round, covered by the great dome of the firmament which was held up by mountain pillars (Job 26.11; 37.18).
Job 26
11 The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at his reproof.

18 Hast thou with him spread out the sky, [which is] strong, [and] as a molten looking glass?

Above the firmament and under the earth was water, divided by God at creation (Gen 1.6, 7; cf Pss 24.2; 148.4).
Genesis 1
6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which [were] under the firmament from the waters which [were] above the firmament: and it was so.

2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.

4 Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that [be] above the heavens.

The upper waters were joined with the waters of the primordial deep during the Flood; the rains were believed to fall through windows in the firmament (Gen 7.11; 8.2).

Genesis 7
11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.

2 The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained;

The sun, moon, and stars moved across or were fixed in the firmament (Gen 1.14-19; Ps 19.4, 6).
Genesis 1
14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: [he made] the stars also.
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that [it was] good.
19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.


4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
5 Which [is] as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, [and] rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.
6 His going forth [is] from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

Within the earth lay Sheol, the realm of the dead (Num 16.30-33; Isa 14.9, 15).” (339)
Numbers 16
30 But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that [appertain] unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.
31 And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that [was] under them:
32 And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that [appertained] unto Korah, and all [their] goods.
33 They, and all that [appertained] to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.

Isaiah 14
9 Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet [thee] at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, [even] all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.
15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

Firmament:
“The Hebrew term raqia’ suggests a thin sheet of beaten metal (cf. Exod. 39.3; Num 17.3; Jer 10.9; also Job 37.18)
Exodus 39
3 And they did beat the gold into thin plates, and cut [it into] wires, to work [it] in the blue, and in the purple, and in the scarlet, and in the fine linen, [with] cunning work.

Numbers 17
3 And thou shalt write Aaron's name upon the rod of Levi: for one rod [shall be] for the head of the house of their fathers.

9 Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple [is] their clothing: they [are] all the work of cunning [men].

18 Hast thou with him spread out the sky, [which is] strong, [and] as a molten looking glass?

… Job 26.13 depicts God’s breath as the force that calmed (or ‘spread’, ‘smoothed’) the heavens.

Job 26
13 By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent.

Luminaries were set in the firmament on the fourth day of creation (Gen 1.14-19).

Genesis 1
14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: [he made] the stars also.
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that [it was] good.
19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

Rains were believed to fall through sluices or windows in its surface (cf. Gen 7.11).” (338-339)
Genesis 7
11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.


— Achtemeier, Paul J (Ed). The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. (New York: HarperCollins, 1996)
Hebrew Cosmology:
To the ancient Hebrews the earth was the centre of the universe. Above it were the sky and the heavens, and below it were the Underworld, or Sheol, and the waters (eg. Exod 20.4; Ps 24.2; 136.6).
Exodus 20
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth:

2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.

6 To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy [endureth] for ever.

(Though at times the Hebrews did cite only heaven and earth as composing the universe (eg. Ps 124.8),
Psalm 124
8 Our help [is] in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.


actually they held to this tripartite concept (eg. Phil 2.10).
Philippians 2
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth;

The earth, with Canaan at its centre (Ps 74.12),
Psalm 74
12 For God [is] my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.

was believed to be one mass of land (cf the ‘ends of the earth’ (Ps 65.5)
Psalm 65
5 [By] terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation; [who art] the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off [upon] the sea:

or its ‘four corners’ (Isa 11.12))
Isaiah 11
12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.


surrounded by an ocean. It rested on pillars (1 Sam 2.8; Job 9.6; Ps 75.3)
1Samuel 2
8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, [and] lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set [them] among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth [are] the LORD'S, and he hath set the world upon them.

6 Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble.

3 The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved: I bear up the pillars of it. Selah.

or on firm foundations (Ps 104.5; but cf Job 26.7).” (298)
Psalm 104
5 [Who] laid the foundations of the earth, [that] it should not be removed for ever.

Job 26
7 He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, [and] hangeth the earth upon nothing.

Firmament:
(Heb raqia; Vulg Lat firmamentum, from LXX Gk stereoma ‘foundation’). The expanse of sky or heaven (Gen 1.8)
Genesis 1
8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.


separating the water below (rivers, seas, subterranean waters) from the waters above (precipitation). In ancient Israelite cosmogony the firmament may have been viewed as a dome or curtain (cf Ps 104.2)
Psalm 104
2 Who coverest [thyself] with light as [with] a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:

of beaten metal (cf Heb rq ‘beat out’; Job 37.18)
Job 37
18 Hast thou with him spread out the sky, [which is] strong, [and] as a molten looking glass?

from which were suspended the stars and planets (Gen 1.14-17).
Genesis 1
14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: [he made] the stars also.
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

Rain and other heavenly blessings could pour down upon the earth through windows in the firmament (7.11; 2 Kings 7.2; Ps 78.23-24).” (p. 383)
Genesis 7
11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.

2Kings 7
2 Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, [if] the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see [it] with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.

Psalm 78
23 Though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven,
24 And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven.


— Myers, Allen C (Ed). The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987)
Hebrew cosmology pictured a flat earth, over which was a dome-shaped firmament, supported above the earth by mountains, and surrounded by waters. Holes or sluices (windows, Gen 7.11)
Genesis 7
11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.
allowed the water to fall as rain. The firmament was the heaven in which God set the sun (Ps 19.4)
4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
and the stars (Gen 1.14) on the fourth day of the creation.
Genesis 1
14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

There was more water under the earth (Gen 1.7) and during the Flood the two great oceans joined up and covered the earth; sheol was at the bottom of the earth (Isa 14.9; Num 16.30.” (136)
Isaiah 14
9 Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet [thee] at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, [even] all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.



Numbers 16
30 But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that [appertain] unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.


— Browning. WRF Dictionary of the Bible. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996)
On the whole, Israel shared the world view of the ancient Near East. The earth was perceived as a flat expanse, seen either in the image of a disk or circle upon the primeval waters (Isa 40.22; Job 26.10; Prov 8.27; cf. ‘circle of the heavens’. Job 22.14)
Isaiah 40
22 [It is] he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof [are] as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

Job 26
10 He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end.

27 When he prepared the heavens, I [was] there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:

14 Thick clouds [are] a covering to him, that he seeth not; and he walketh in the circuit of heaven.

or of an outstretched garment spanning the void (Job 26.7; 38.13).
Job 26
7 He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, [and] hangeth the earth upon nothing.


According to HH Schmidt (THAT 1.230-31), these two images, present also in Mesopotamia, derive from different but compatible conceptions of the cosmos which are intertwined without tension in the OT. References to the earth’s (four) corners/rims/hems (‘arba’ kanepot ha’ares; Isa 11.12; Job 37.3; 38.13; cf Isa 24.16_,
Isaiah 11
12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

Job 37
3 He directeth it under the whole heaven, and his lightning unto the ends of the earth.

13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?

16 From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, [even] glory to the righteous. But I said, My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me! the treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; yea, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously.

its end(s), border(s), edges (qeselqesot; Job 28.24; Ps 135.7; Isa 5.26; 40.28; 41.5, 9; Jer 10.13; 51.16),
Job 28
24 For he looketh to the ends of the earth, [and] seeth under the whole heaven;

7 He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries.

26 And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly:

28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, [that] the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? [there is] no searching of his understanding.

5 The isles saw [it], and feared; the ends of the earth were afraid, drew near, and came.
9 [Thou] whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou [art] my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.

13 When he uttereth his voice, [there is] a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.

16 When he uttereth [his] voice, [there is] a multitude of waters in the heavens; and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth: he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.

combinations of these images (Jer 49.36; also Ps 48.11 – Eng 48.10; 65.6 – Eng 65.5),
Jeremiah 49
36 And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come.

Psalm 48
11 Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments.

its ends (where it ceases: ‘apse [ha]’ares; Deut 33.17; 1 Sam 2.10, etc)
Deuteronomy 33
17 His glory [is like] the firstling of his bullock, and his horns [are like] the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they [are] the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they [are] the thousands of Manasseh.

1Samuel 2
10 The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.

its boundaries (Ps 74.17),
Psalm 74
17 Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter.

or its remotest parts (Jer 6.22; 25.32; 31.8; 50.41)
Jeremiah 6
22 Thus saith the LORD, Behold, a people cometh from the north country, and a great nation shall be raised from the sides of the earth.

32 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth.

8 Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, [and] with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither.

41 Behold, a people shall come from the north, and a great nation, and many kings shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth.

depict the vast expanse of the earth and its outer limits, rather than a firm conception of its shape. T Boman (1960: 157-59), has pointed out that naming the outer limits of any area includes the whole area, so that the above terms function almost as synonyms for ‘earth’, ‘world’.
The modern concept of an infinite or open-ended universe was not known in the OT; on the contrary, heaven and earth were though to be sealed together at the rim of the hoirzon to prevent the influx of the cosmic waters (Stadelmann 1970:43).
In contrast to this preoccupation with the earth’s outer limits, a center or navel of the earth (Heb tabbur) is mentioned only once (Ezek 38.12; cf Judg 9.37; Jub 8.19).

Ezekiel 38
12 To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places [that are now] inhabited, and upon the people [that are] gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land.

37 And Gaal spake again and said, See there come people down by the middle of the land, and another company come along by the plain of Meonenim.

19 Behold, this [is] the joy of his way, and out of the earth shall others grow.

L Stadelmann (1970:147-54) suggests that Jerusalem (cf Ezek 5.5),
Ezekiel 5
5 Thus saith the Lord GOD; This [is] Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries [that are] round about her.

and possibly Bethel at an earlier time (cf Gen 28.10-12, 17-18),
Genesis 28
10 And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran.
11 And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put [them for] his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.
12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.

were considered in this light, in keeping with the views of many ANE and other peoples that their central sanctuary or capital city represented such a center. However this theme is not prominent in the Old Tetsament; that Jerusalem, as the center of worship of the universal God, held a position of central prominence (Isa 2.2-3 = Mic 4.1-2) is a theological rather than a cosmological observation.
Isaiah 2
2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, [that] the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Micah 4
1 But in the last days it shall come to pass, [that] the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.
2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Over the earth and its surrounding sea(s) arches the firm vault (or firmament. Heb raqia’ (Gen 1.6)) of (the) heaven(s).

Genesis 1
6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

Together, heaven and earth make up what we would call world, universe, cosmos (Gen 1.1; 2.1, 4; Exod 31.17; Ps 102.26 – Eng 102.25; Isa 48.13; 51.13, 16 and often).

Genesis 1
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
4 These [are] the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,

17 It [is] a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for [in] six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.

25 Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens [are] the work of thy hands.
26 They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed:

13 Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: [when] I call unto them, they stand up together.

13 And forgettest the LORD thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where [is] the fury of the oppressor?
16 And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou [art] my people.

Occasionally, earth alone seems to enhance the whole cosmos (eg. Isa 6.3; 54.5; Zeph 1.2-3, 18(?)).
Isaiah 6
3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, [is] the LORD of hosts: the whole earth [is] full of his glory.

Isaiah 54
5 For thy Maker [is] thine husband; the LORD of hosts [is] his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.

2 I will utterly consume all [things] from off the land, saith the LORD.
3 I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the LORD.
18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.

The vault of heaven rests on the earth (Amos 9.6; cf. 2 Sam 22.8: ‘the foundations of the heavens’ = the earth)
Amos 9
6 [It is] he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, and hath founded his troop in the earth; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD [is] his name.

8 Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth.


which in turn is firmly set on pillars (1 Sam 2.8)
1Samuel 2
8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, [and] lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set [them] among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth [are] the LORD'S, and he hath set the world upon them.

or foundations (Isa 24.18; 40.21; Jer 31.37; Mic 6.2, etc).
Isaiah 24
18 And it shall come to pass, [that] he who fleeth from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake.

Isaiah 40
21 Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?

37 Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.

The foundations are associated with the ‘heavens’ (2 Sam 22.8)
8 Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth.
or the ‘world’ (Heb tebel; 2 Sam 22.16 – Ps 18.16 – Eng 18.7).
2Samuel 22
16 And the channels of the sea appeared, the foundations of the world were discovered, at the rebuking of the LORD, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.

7 Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth.
16 He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.

The verb yasad ‘to found’ is used with reference to God’s founding of the earth (Job 38.4; Ps 24.2; 102.26 – Eng 102.25, etc).
Job 38
4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.

Psalm 24
2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.

25 Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens [are] the work of thy hands.
26 They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed:

Somewhat ambivalent is the structure in the place of the sea(s) or water(s), the deep, and the underworld. The seas can be spoken of as a familiar reality, in which the fish and other water creatures swarm (Gen 1.20, 22, 26, etc)
Genesis 1
20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl [that] may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.


and on which humans move in ships (Ps 104.25-26; 107.23; Prov 30.19; Ezek 27.9).
Psalm 104
25 [So is] this great and wide sea, wherein [are] things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.
26 There go the ships: [there is] that leviathan, [whom] thou hast made to play therein.

Psalm 107
23 They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;

19 The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.

9 The ancients of Gebal and the wise [men] thereof were in thee thy calkers: all the ships of the sea with their mariners were in thee to occupy thy merchandise.

As such, the sea forms part of the earth, i.e., the flat surface below juxtaposed to the heavens above. A transitional position between earth and the surrounding sea is occupied by the islands or coastlands (Heb ‘iyyim; Isa 24.14-16; 41.5; 42.4, 10).
Isaiah 24
14 They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing for the majesty of the LORD, they shall cry aloud from the sea.
15 Wherefore glorify ye the LORD in the fires, [even] the name of the LORD God of Israel in the isles of the sea.
16 From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, [even] glory to the righteous. But I said, My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me! the treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; yea, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously.

5 The isles saw [it], and feared; the ends of the earth were afraid, drew near, and came.

4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.
10 Sing unto the LORD a new song, [and] his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof.

Elsewhere in the OT the sea(s) or water(s) take on the character of a third cosmic realm in addition to heaven earth, the extension of the cosmic chaos waters surrounding everything… The underworld is often spoken of as part of the earth, a lower cavern, grave, pit (called in Heb Sheol) where the dead lead a shadowy existence; it can even be referred to simply as ‘earth’ (1 Sam 28.13; Ps 71.20; 106.17; Isa 29.4).
1Samuel 28
13 And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.

Psalm 71
20 [Thou], which hast shewed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth.

17 The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram.

4 And thou shalt be brought down, [and] shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.

In other texts, Sheol is treated as a separate cosmic realm besides heaven and earth (Job 26.5; Ps 139.8; Amos 9.2).
Job 26
5 Dead [things] are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof.

8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou [art] there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou [art there].

2 Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down:

The OT conception of the world, then, is basically bipartite (heaven and earth), variously extended to a tripartite cosmos (heaven-earth-sea, or heaven-earth-underworld). Although certain later books and sections (Job, Proverbs 8, several postexilic Psalms, Isaiah 24-27; 40-55) are more explicit in their cosmological descriptions than the earlier documents, the general view of the cosmos does not show any significant change or development throughout the OT period.” (245-246)
— Freedman, David Noel (Ed). The Anchor Bible Dictionary. (New York: Doubleday, 1992)

For further information, visit http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/febible.htm andhttp://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/fe-scidi.htm as well as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_earth.

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