The second day has to do with the creation of the firmament. The
primitive concept involved in the word "firmament" is: "beaten out,
stamped (as of metal), suggesting a thin sheet stretched out to form,
the vault of the sky" (Speiser, 1964, p 6). Liberals take pleasure in
pointing this out as an indication of the Hebrews' "pre-scientific view
of the universe" (Murray and Buffaloe, 1981, p 10). This view, it is
alleged, involves a belief that the sky was a solid structure which
rested upon the mountains. This notion is based upon the very
troublesome assumption that the word "firmament" was intended (by
Moses) to convey the meaning the liberals have assigned to it; but the
Hebrew word may be better translated "expanse" (Wilson, p 166). In his
typically concise way, W.E. Vine stresses:
While this English word is derived from the Latin
`firmamentum' which signifies firmness or strengthening
...the Hebrew word, `raqia', has no such meaning, but
denoted the "expanse," that which is stretched out.
Certainly the sky was not regarded a s a hard vault in
which the heavenly orbs were fixed.... There is therefore
nothing in the language of the original to suggest that
the writers [of the Old Testament---BTB] were influenced
by the imaginative ideas of heathen nations (1981, p 67).
Moses elaborates by stating one of the functions of the firmament.
It was intended to serve as a divider between the atmospheric and the
terrestrial waters. Here too, the liberals suppose they have grist for
their mills. In their minds, Genesis reads like a pagan myth. Murray
and Buffaloe allege: "The Genesis account explains that there is a vast
reservoir of water collected above the dome (`firmament'), which of
course is how ancient peoples accounted for rainfall" (p 10). The
question must be raised as to where Genesis "explains" anything
concerning a "vast reservoir of water." The text simply states that a
division was accomplished between the waters above and below the sky
(firmament). Water vapor is an important component of the atmosphere,
and there is nothing in Moses' words to suggest that he necessarily had
reference to any more than that. Some scholars have suggested that a
canopy of water vapor enveloped the antediluvian world and caused a
globally temperate climate to prevail (e.g., Bixler, 1986). While the
Vapor Canopy Theory is not inconsistent with the phrase "waters above,"
other passages would have to be considered in order to support the
theory. With these acts of creation finished, evening falls and morning
returns---completing day two.