Hebraic Cosmology

When studying the cosmological perspective of the ancient Hebrews (if anyone dare even show an interest), it becomes very obvious that they did not perceive the world as it is viewed today. They did not believe in "outer space" or a view the world as a planet. Instead, they held to the perspective of the firmament, a common pattern seen in different ancient cultures. Of course, when it comes to this topic, it is really a matter of doing the work properly; unfortunately, some may read modern astronomy back into the Bible, resulting to anachronistic interpolation. Nevertheless, the ancient writings have their own point of view to offer. .

The firmament (רָקִיעַ) mentioned in Genesis 1:6, also called "heavens" and "skies" (Genesis 1:8-9; Jeremiah 51:9) is a solid object1 above the earth (Deuteronomy 11:21). As the Book of Job says: "the skies, strong as a cast metal mirror (Job 37:18).2 The firmament divides waters (Genesis 1:6-7) and is held up by pillars (Job 26:11). In Daniel 12:3 it says that the wise "shall shine like the brightness of the firmament," as Genesis 1:14-17 reveals that God placed lights in the firmament. It basically functions as a ceiling, or a tent (Isaiah 40:22; Psalm 19:4; 78:69) above the earth. This is how they understood the sky.

The earth (אֶרֶץ)? The earth is "dry [land]" Biblically.3 Like it says, waters under the firmament gathered to one place, and dry appeared (Genesis 1:9-10). The waters, or seas (Genesis 1:10) were viewed as the "deep" (Genesis 1:2; Psalm 33:7; 104:6; Proverbs 8:27-28). Thus, the world was a "waters, land, firmament" based model, similar to ancient Egyptian thinking (Sobek, Geb, Nut). Nut, the goddess of the sky (as depicted on a funerary papyrus)contains the stars within her body (the sky), just as Genesis 1:14-17 mentions the stars in the context of in the firmament. Similar to the pillars of heaven (Job 26:11), arms and legs are holding her up. And moreover, unlike the heliocentric model of outer space, the height of the heavens and the depth of the earth are equated in size in the Bible (see Proverbs 25:2).5 Where the stars are located, the birds reside (Genesis 1:20; Obadiah 1:4). The sun and moon, or, "the greater light" and "the lesser light" are in the firmament (Genesis 1:14-16; Psalm 136:8-9).And, at enmity with modern-day perception, the sun (along with the moon) moves above the earth in their view.

Psalm 19:4c-6 In them [i.e. the heavens] he set a tent for the sun. And he as a bridegroom coming forth from his nuptial couch, will rejoice as a strong one to run a way. From the extremity of the heavens his going forth and his circuits upon their extremities and no hiding from his heat. (SLT)
The sun is described as coming forth from the extremity of the heavens. This Psalm describes the sun as circuiting in the heavens. And as Ecclesiastes says repeatedly, "under the sun" is where the earth is located. Further, in Joshua 10:12-13 the sun and moon are seen standing still above areas of the earth. The sun above Gibeon, and the moon above the Valley of Aijalon (Joshua 10:12-13). This describes a nearby sun and moon (also see Habakkuk 3:11). This describes the movement (and lack of in this case) of the sun over the earth.7

Similar to other ancient cultures,the Hebrews held to the concept of the sun and moon being husband and wife, the stars being their children. This is clearly seen in Genesis 37:9-10 as Joseph dreams9 of the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowing down to him, interpreted as his father, mother, and their eleven children in the following passage.10 Also, notice that Psalm 19:5 likens the sun to "a bridegroom coming out of his chamber."11

Further, Acts 2:20 says that before the coming of the day of the Lord, "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood" (cf. Joel 2:31).12 The sun is masculine here (ο ηλιος), and the moon is feminine (η σεληνη). This association of "feminine" with "blood" (αιμα) appears to parallel the woman's menstrual cycle (e.g. Leviticus 15:19; 20:18). Evidently, they viewed a "lunar eclipse" as a periodic occurrence of blood regarding the female moon. And let's not forget, a "lunar eclipse" was not an "eclipse" at all in their view, since they believed that the moon causes it's own light. Isaiah 13:10 speaks of a time where "the moon will not cause its light to shine." Isaiah 30:26 also mentions "light of the moon" (cf. Isaiah 60:19-20; Jeremiah 31:35; Ezekiel 32:7; Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24; Revelation 21:23). They did not believe that the moon merely reflected sun light, but rather, that the moon was it's own light source (Psalm 136:7-9). Thus, it's turning into blood was seemingly viewed as a period.

As far as a "solar eclipse" goes, Isaiah 13:10 mentions the sun being darkened (also see Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24). In Luke 23:45 it speaks of this occurring when the veil of the temple was torn in two. Joel 3:15 speaks of the "sun and the moon" both growing dark. In Revelation 6:12 it mentions the sun becoming "black as sackcloth of hair."Yet it also describes the earth being darkened via God making the sun go in at noon in Amos 8:9. The Bible also speaks of God making the stars dark (Ezekiel 32:7-8). Then again, they did not believe in planets, but rather, "the luminaries of light in the heavens" (Ezekiel 32:8). Basically, as Genesis 1:14-16 shows, there is the greater light, the lesser light, and the stars. That is the paradigm. In Jude 13 it mentions "wandering stars", and the Greek words αστερες πλανηται are used. The only "planets" mentioned are "wandering" (planētēs),13 that is, stars. They believed that these were their own light source (like the sun and moon) as well (Psalm 148:3; Isaiah 13:10; Jeremiah 31:35).14

Moreover, as mentioned above, "earth" (אֶרֶץ) is dry [land] in the Bible (e.g. Genesis 1:9-10; Exodus 4:9; Psalm 95:5). That is what the term means. And besides the mentioning of the seas being gathered together, and earth appearing (Genesis 1:9-10), in Proverbs 8:29 it says "He assigned to the sea its limit" and "marked out the foundations of the earth." In 1 Samuel 2:8, "the pillars of the earth" are spoken of followed by, "He has set the world upon them."15 Similarly, Psalm 104:5 speaks of God "Founding the earth upon her bases, she shall not be moved" (SLT), and again in 1 Chronicles 16:30, "it shall not be moved" (also see Psalm 93:1; 96:10).16 They clearly believed that the earth was held up by foundations and pillars,17 and although it is said to not move, Job 9:6 says God "shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble" (cf. Psalm 82:5; Isaiah 24:18-20), seemingly referring to an earthquake (cf. Amos 1:1). With this in mind, the Hebrews appear to have been interpreting their mere local geography as "the earth" as a whole (cf. Ezekiel 34:6; 38:20).18

Daniel 4:10-11 “These [were] the visions of my head [while] on my bed: I was looking, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and its height was great. The tree grew and became strong; its height reached to the heavens, and it could be seen to the ends of all the earth. 
This vision19 describes an axis mundi, in this case a giant tree located in the midst of the earth. It says "the stump and roots" of this tree are "in the earth" (Daniel 4:15). This kind of lore is very parallel to ancient Norse culture, their view of the world likewise involving a central tree (called Yggdrasil), as well as earth among waters.20 In the Norse description, the sea serpent Jormungandr "lies in the midst of the ocean encompassing all the land" (Edda, Gylfaginning). This is interesting because Psalm 74:12 mentions God working salvation in "the midst of the earth," right in the context of Leviathan and sea serpents (Psalm 74:13-14).21

Additionally, the Norse text asserts that "they made the sea, when they had formed and made firm the earth together, and laid the sea in a ring round" (ibid.). With this "ring round" concept in the context of the earth and sea, notice the following passages:
Isaiah 40:22 [It is] He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants [are] like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
This description certainly fits with the Norse kind of cosmology. Notice also that Yahweh is described as a giant in Isaiah 40:22. It says the earth's inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Yahweh sitting above them. This sort of mention parallels Numbers 13:33, as the people there are grasshoppers in size comparison to the giant Nephilim (also see Amos 2:9). In the Norse tale, Odin, Vili and Vé make the world from a giant's body (Ymir). In comparative mythology, this fits the "flip of the script" pattern, as the essence remains parallel, while particular details may appear interchanged.

Further, not only are "pillars of the earth" (1 Samuel 2:8) mentioned in the Bible, but so are "pillars of heaven" (Job 26:11). These pillars of heaven appear to be a reference to mountains (cf. Job 26:11; Jeremiah 4:24; Habakkuk 3:10; Isaiah 13:4-5), which because of their "cloudy reach," could easily have been interpreted as holding up the heavens (Job 35:5; Daniel 7:13 "clouds of heaven"). This can further be compared to Atlas in Greek mythology (associated with the Atlas Mountains), as he was condemned to hold up the heavens (like pillars).22

More than this, there are some who insist that the ancient Hebrews believed in a globe earth and outer space, and will even contend that the Bible teaches this. Such a perspective is a classic case of anachronism. As documented above, the Hebraic tribespeople saw the world in a completely different light (or might we say campfire), understanding their particular surroundings as interpreted through their ground-based point of view.

Some even suggest that Isaiah 40:22 teaches a globe, arguing that "circle" (חוּג) in fact means "sphere."23 This is absurd however, as it completely dismisses the term "above" (עַל) as well as the concept of "tent to dwell in" (כָּאֹ֖הֶל לָשָֽׁבֶת) mentioned. The portrayal is a tent based heaven with people inside of it (on the floor). They are the circle of the earth's inhabitants, and they are the context of "dwell in." The Hebrew words עַל (over, above) and הָאָרֶץ (the earth) are also used in Psalm 103:11, placing the heavens "above the earth." They are also used for the birds who fly "above the earth" (Genesis 1:20). Above has meaning in the Bible (e.g. Exodus 25:22), and it is no different for the heavens (Hag 1:10). A sphere in Isaiah 40:22 makes all of this meaningless, especially since "earth" refers to "land" Biblically, and the continents (lands) are not spheres. The backwards view here changes the Hebraic term for earth (land) into "globe" and "planet." Such exemplifies the ridiculousness involved with reading modern astronomy back into a wilderness dwelling huntsmen's culture. As mentioned, they believed the earth and the heavens were equal in size (Proverbs 25:3). 

Also, besides the mention of "the circle of the earth" (Isaiah 40:22), the Bible also speaks of "the circle of heavens" in Job 22:14. God is described as walking the circle of heavens (Job 22:14). Elsewhere, God is placed "over many waters" (Psalm 29:3), apparently referring to "waters above the heavens" (Psalm 148:4) since the "waters" is in a sky context in Psalm 29 ("thunders" 29:3). And, Psalm 29:10 says that God "sits enthroned over the flood." Evidently the firmament (heaven) was viewed as a "circle shape," the Lord seemingly walking through waters above it, his feet touching the circle part of heaven ("walking the circle of heavens"). Notice also Job 9:8, "Stretching out the heavens by Himself, and treading on the heights of the sea" (cf. Amos 5:8). Also, Job 26:10 says: "
He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness," and some may assume that this speaks of the earth, yet it is actually found written in a heavenly/above context (Job 26:8-11). Keep in mind, there is also water "above" Biblically, and not just below (Genesis 1:6-7). This also fits, "the heavens, I [was] there, when He drew a circle on the face of the deep (Proverbs 8:27). Now compare Job 22:14 ("the circle of heavens"). 

Moreover, the Bible also speaks of heaven being "rolled up like a scroll" in Isaiah 34:4. In Revelation 6:14, "the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up". A scroll implies a cylinder shape (which at the top or bottom fits a circle). Interestingly, "four ends of heaven" are mentioned in Jeremiah 49:36, but that does not necessarily exclude a circle or a cylinder shape, since four directions appears to be the indication given. Notice Psalm 19:6, it describes the sun in a circuit (circle) from one end of heaven to the other. This "direction" concept (like a pie) could theoretically be cut up into two (one to the other) or four (one, to one, to one, to the other). It all depends on which part is viewed as an "end" in direction (also see Deuteronomy 4:32; Isaiah 13:5).

Additionally, the "four winds" are also mentioned in Jeremiah 49:36 (also see Ezekiel 37:9; Daniel 7:2; 8:8; 11:4; Zechariah 2:6). In the New Testament, Matthew 24:31 describes the location of the four winds as "from one end of heaven to the other." In Mark 13:27, they are "from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven."
Revelation 7:1 After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree.
Here it mentions "the four corners of the earth," saying that these four angels are holding the four winds. What about "the circle of the earth" (Isaiah 40:22)? How is there corners on a circle? It actually appears that the "four corners" statements (Revelation 7:1; 20:8) are more in the context of direction (like it says, "from the farthest part of the earth"), while "circle of the earth" is in the context of physical shaped structure (e.g. "a tent"). However, it is possible that by the time of the New Testament, they changed their view to a shape of four corners. Both ideas nevertheless being opposed to modern-day globe cosmology.

Furthermore, others may claim that Job 26:7 is in support of a globe.
Job 26:7 He stretches out the north over empty space; [He] hangs the earth on nothing.
This obviously says nothing about an earth shape, but the globe sort of usage is based on a "hanging" in outer space notion. The truth of the matter is, while this passage places the earth "on nothing," ironically, the Bible elsewhere places the earth "on the seas" and on the "waters" (Psalm 24:1-2).24 Further "hangs the earth on nothing" phrase is used in connection with "over empty space," but it is more exactly the term "chaos" (תֹּהוּ). This word is also used in Genesis 1:2, "As for the earth, it came to be chaos and vacant".  Additionally, the "stretches out the north" is evidently a reference to "spreading out the earth" (Isaiah 44:24) in that particular (north) direction, over (עַל) the chaos below it. That is, not a "north" towards the sky, but north in relation to east, west, and south in regards to land direction (e.g. Genesis 28:14; Psalm 107:3). Thus, the "over empty space" or "over chaos" links to "over nothing" (Job 26:7). They are the same concept, that which the earth is over (or above). And as Genesis 1:2 exemplifies with the earth, that "nothing" can be something, only as desolation or chaos. Jeremiah 4:23 basically parallels the earth being chaos (i.e. "nothing") with the heavens having no light. Similarly, Genesis 1:2 describes darkness on the face of the deep (i.e. the waters). Thus, the "hangs the earth over nothing" and "over chaos" in Job 26:7 fits "over the waters" below the earth (Psalm 24:1-2; 136:6; Exodus 20:4; Deuteronomy 4:18; 5:8).25

What's more, the Bible mentions "four wings of the earth"  in Isaiah 11:12 and Ezekiel 7:2. Someone might argue that since the sun is also used with "wings" (Malachi 4:2), that this supports a globe earth. Yet besides the Hebrew term (כָּנָף) also being associated with human beings and their clothing (Numbers 15:38; Deuteronomy 22:12, 30; 27:20; 1 Samuel 15:27; 24:4, 11; Jeremiah 3:24; Ezekiel 5:3; Haggai 2:12; Zechariah 8:23), the concept of "wing" (כָּנָף) is placed in a water context in the Bible (e.g. Isaiah 8:6-8). The prophet Isaiah speaks of "The king of Assyria" as waters, and says:
Isaiah 8:8 He will pass through Judah, he will overflow and pass over, he will reach up to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings will fill the breadth of Your land, O Immanuel.
Why the mention of wings with water? 
Isaiah 18:1 Woe, land of the winged boat, Which is across the streams of Cush, (CLV)
This passage in the Septuagint reads: "land of boats of wings beyond [the] rivers" (γης πλοιων πτερυγες επεκεινα ποταμων).26 These passages have "wings" in context of the sea and waters (Isaiah 18:2). Thus, the "wings of the earth" (Isaiah 11:12; 24:16; Ezekiel 7:2; Job 37:3; 38:13) appears to tie into this sort of context, as the earth is upon waters (Psalm 24:1-2). The concept of "wings of the earth" also seems to be spoken of in the same way as "ends of the earth" (e.g. Isaiah 41:9; 43:6; Jeremiah 16:9; 31:8; 50:41). You not only have the "gathering from" sort of language (cf. Jeremiah 31:8 and Isaiah 11:12), but again, a water correlation. Also compare Job 37:2-3 LXX with 1 Samuel 2:10 for a "ends of the earth" and "wings of the earth" parallel.
Isaiah 42:10 Sing to the LORD a new song, [And] His praise from the ends of the earth, You who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, You coastlands and you inhabitants of them!
The ends of the earth are the coastlands.27 In light of Isaiah 8:6-8 (water coming upon them, mention of wings) and the coastlands being the same as the wings of the earth, this evidently connects waves into the depiction as well (Job 38:11). Due to the movement of the tides at the coast, this may have initiated the "wings" understanding, as Isaiah 18:1 mentions "the winged boat" (this may be due to rowing), and thus movement in the water (like waves). The coastlands touching where the waves come in, perhaps became "wings of the earth" due to such parallelism.
Going back to the "earth and sun comparison" (in regards to wings) mentioned above, notice also that while the sun is above in the heavens (Genesis 1:16-17; Joshua 10:23; Ecclesiastes "under the sun"), the earth is below (1 Kings 8:23). They are two distinct ideas. The "planet earth" point of view places the earth with the sun above. With this in mind, "wings of the earth" can be seen as having nothing to do with "above", for it is "below" in it's location. And moreover, Matthew 24:29 says "the stars will fall from heaven." Mark 13:25 says, "the stars of heaven will fall." This clearly does not describe an outer space model.
Revelation 6:13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. (also see Revelation 8:10-11) 
With the stars falling to earth like a fig tree dropping figs, it becomes very apparent that the ancient view of cosmology is primitive, and utterly at odds with today's thinking.

Robert Anthony



1. The term רָקִיעַ (firmament) clearly describes a solid object. Besides the fact that it is used for separating waters, not only does Psalm 19:1 use it in the context of a "tent", but Isaiah 40:22 describes the firmament (heavens, Gen 1:8) as being stretched out like a curtain, as well as "like a tent to dwell in" (also see Psalm 78:69). Additionally, the term רָקִיעַ is from רָקַע, which in Numbers 16:39 (for instance) is used for bronze censers being "hammered [וַיְרַקְּעוּם] out as a covering on the altar."

Also, some may argue that the ancient Hebrews interpreted the "blue sky" as water. There is simply no documentation to substantiate this. The heavens are also described with "blackness" (Isaiah 50:3). Also, both the heavens and the clouds are described as pouring out water (Judges 5:4), so the "waters" above are not limited to clouds (like some may argue). There is "windows of heaven' mentioned (Genesis 7:11; 8:2; Malachi 3:10), and they are not identified as clouds. One may suggest that Psalm 78:23 uses "clouds above" and "doors of heaven" synonymously, yet they also might be distinct concepts used side by side (like in Proverbs 8:28).

2. The skies, referring to the firmament (cf. Genesis 1:8; Jeremiah 51:9).

3. Although water can be poured on to it (e.g. Exodus 4:9), it is still considered "dry" in definition. The context being in Genesis 1:9-10, that it is distinct from the waters.

4.  Funerary papyrus of Djedkhonsouefankh (Cairo Egyptian Museum). Sky goddess Nut depiction also contained on ceiling of the tomb of Ramses VI. 

5. Also see Amos 9:2.

6. Ecclesiastes 12:1 mentions "the sun and the light" along with the distinct concepts of "the moon and the stars." In Psalm 74:16, "the light and the sun" are mentioned. In Genesis 1:3-5, God creates light and calls it day (the first day). The sun is not created until day four (Genesis 1:14-19). They apparently viewed the sun as an additional "greater light" distinct from light (as opposed to darkness, Isaiah 45:7). The greater and lesser light are also said to be for signs and seasons (Genesis 1:14; Psalm 104:19). Also see Isaiah 30:26; Jeremiah 31:35

Moreover, "grass, the herb [that] yields seed, [and] the fruit tree" were also created before the sun, on day three (Genesis 1:11-13). What about photosynthesis? Oh well. Besides, the creation accounts contained in the Bible (chapters 1 and 2) do not harmonize very well.

7. Passages speaking of the sun rising (e.g. Genesis 32:31; Exodus 22:3; Judges 9:33; 2 Samuel 23:4; 2 Kings 3:22; Job 9:7; Psalm 104:22; Ecclesiastes 1:5; Jonah 4:8; Nahum 3:17; Malachi 4:2) use the Hebrew word זָרַח, and this can be understood as "radiating" instead of rising. For instance, in 2 Kings 3:22 "the sun was radiant over the waters" (CLV). The term is also used for leprosy "breaking out" on the forehead (2 Chronicles 26:19), which can be connected with sun rays "flashing forth" (radiating). However, the Septuagint does use the term ἀνατέλλω which depicts a "rise" in the definition. However, Psalm 19 describes the sun as going out, so they may have understood it as going forth in a circuit, as well as rising and going down in this process (cf. Ecclesiastes 1:5). The sun is clearly described as coming forth (e.g. Isaiah 13:10) as a child in birth (Numbers 12:12). In Job 1:7, the sun not radiating parallels Isaiah 13:10, as there it is still coming forth, just in a "darkened" form (cf. Revelation 8:12; 9:2; Job 3:9).

8. For instance, see Sun Lore of All Ages, ch. 2; Native American Myths and Legends, p. 161-162; Myths & Legends, William G. Doty & Jake Jackson, p. 24 (The Sun and the Moon)

9. Someone might argue that this was a mere dream. Yes, it is, and it is in this dream that the Hebrews found room for a common motif shared by other civilizations of the world. Also, "dreams" (and "visions") are what Yahweh speaks to prophets in according to Numbers 12:6. The ancients evidently took dreams very seriously (e.g. Genesis 20:3-10; 1 Kings 3:5-15).

10. Also see Revelation 12 for more astrotheological writings. 

11. The sun is found in both the masculine (e.g. Isaiah 13:10) and feminine (e.g. Psalm 104:22; Malachi 4:2) gender in the Bible. The moon is found in the masculine (Ezekiel 32:7 Hb) as well as the feminine (Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24; Ezekiel 32:7 LXX). When it comes to Sun and Moon Mythology, the genders may be reversed depending on the culture and context.

12. Some might argue that while the "Old Testament" writings contain primitive cosmology, the "New Testament" is more like the modern point of view (e.g. globe, space, etc.). For instance, Richard Carrier basically argues that they were no longer following the "Old Testament" model of the cosmos (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUYRoYl7i6U1:07:13-1:09:41). Such an assertion is ridiculous in light of the New Testament evidence however. Not only does the NT cosmology have the moon as it's own light source (Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24; Revelation 21:23), along with it turning to blood (Acts 2:20) like in Joel 2:31, but it also describes the stars as falling from heaven (Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:25) to the earth, as a fig tree drops its figs (Revelation 6:13; Matthew 2:9). Simply compare this to the Old Testament thinking (e.g. Isaiah 34:4; Daniel 8:10).

13. The KJV says "planets" in 2 Kings 23:5, but such a translation can be seen as anachronistic. The Hebrew (וְלַמַּזָּלֹות) can be compared to מַזָּרֹות used in Job 38:32, which is in the context of constellations (38:31). There, the KJV says "Mazzaroth".The Septuagint has Μαζουρώθ [Mazuroth] (4 Kings 23:5 LXX) and Μαζουρώθ [Mazuroth] (Job 38:32). 2 Kings 23:5 gets translated "the constellations" (e.g. NKJV, SLT) or "zodiac" (e.g. CLV). Moreover, Isaiah 13:10 has "the constellations", but the Hebrew (וּכְסִילֵיהֶם) which is plural here, is elsewhere (singular) understood as "Orion" (e.g. Job 9:9; 38:31; Amos 5:8). Thus, it appears to be implying a "noticeable constellations" meaning.

14. The "constellations" (Isaiah 13:10, וּכְסִילֵיהֶם) are spoken of in the writings, yet interpretations may vary. Just what is "Osh, Kesil, and Kimah" (Job 9:9 YLT)? Usually these are understood as "the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades" (NKJV). They are all mentioned in the context of "the stars" (Job 9:7; also see Amos 5:8). In Job 38:31 it mentions "Mazzaroth" (מַזָּרֹות, apparently an obscure Hebrew term), followed by "the Great Bear with its cubs" (NKJV), or more literally, "Aysh for her sons" (YLT; וְ֝עַ֗יִשׁ עַל־בָּנֶ֥יהָ ). If the Great Bear refers to Ursa Major, just what are the "sons"? The same Hebrew term for "her sons" (בָּנֶיהָ) is found in reference to the ostrich's "young" (Job 39:13, 16). This describes a "nearby" association in meaning (her cubs, her young, her children). The Septuagint reads: "the evening star with his rays"" (LXXE) or more literally, "Hesperus with his hair" (εσπερον επι κομης αυτου, LXX). In Greek mythology, Hesperus is the evening star, typically understood as "Venus," yet also fits "Jupiter" (which is likewise visible in the evening). His "hair" (κομης) mentioned here apparently refers to the rays, or brightness, but what about the constellation connection? Hesperus is also mentioned in the context of the Pleiades (πλειαδα) and Arcturus (αρκτουρον) [Boötes] in Job 9:9, and the Pleiades (Πλειάδος) and Orion (Ωρίωνος) in Job 39:12. Is the Great Bear in fact, Arcturus and the constellation Boötes? It appears large in comparison to the other stars of that constellation.

15. The world, or habitance (CLV). In Psalm 19:4, it is used with the earth.

16. Some might argue that "shall not be moved" is not literal here, and may attempt to apply some sort of spiritual referencing a passage like Psalm 16:8. Truthfully, Psalm 104:5 speaks in the physical context of the earth, saying it will not be moved from it's bases.

17. The foundations of the earth are actually described as "mountains" in Micah 6:2, and what's more is that these mountains are spoken of as being in the water below. As it says, "the channels of the sea were seen, the foundations of the world were uncovered" (2 Samuel 22:16; Psalm 18:15). Elsewhere it says that God founded the earth "upon the seas" (Psalm 24:1-2), and Jonah, underwater speaks of going  "down to the cuttings off of the mountains" (Jonah 2:6).

18. The Hebrews viewed the earth as that which is inhabited. This is seen by the use of תֵּבֵל (i.e. habitance, dwelling) in the context of the earth (e.g. Psalm 19:4; 24:1; 33:8). And although they describe the heavens and the earth as a circle of earth within a tent (Isaiah 40:22), that earth being upon the face of the waters (Proverbs 8:27), they appear to be interpreting their local scenery as the entire world. The mention of earthquakes (e.g. Amos 1:1) seem to fit their description of the foundations of the earth being moved (Psalm 82:5; Isaiah 24:18-20). There is also the mention of the axis mundi  in Daniel 4:10-11, which "could be seen to the ends of all the earth." Such fits the concept of localized cartography. Typically, a great mountain or tree (in different cultures) gets placed at the center of what they understand to be the world. The Hebrews fit into this pattern. They also appear to interpret "the ends of heaven" as "mountains" (e.g. Isaiah 13:4-5). This may be due to limitation in traveling by foot, mountains slowing down the reach of distance. That is, as far as a tribe can make it in traveling, may be where they mark the end of the world. In a rough mountain range, this could make it difficult to continue, and thus, it was the limit (their own people being the focus). They also viewed the coastlands as the ends of the earth (e.g. Isaiah 41:5; 42:10). Considering the scale of land, the Atlas Mountains are actually located near the coast (Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean).

Additionally, the earth (אֶרֶץ) gets broken up into regions in the Bible (e.g. "land of Havilah" [Gen 2:11]; "land of Cush" [Gen 2:13]; "land of Nod" [Gen4:16]; "land of Egypt" [Ex 4:20; cf. 10:12-15 "whole earth"]), but all of these regions apparently make up what the Hebrew writings call "the earth" in Genesis 1:1 ("dry" 1:10).

19. See footnote #9.

20. You may come across assertions that a picture or illustration of the Norse world should not be viewed in a geographical context (e.g. The Heroes of Asgard). However, however, the quotations given above from Gylfaginning are right out of Edda, clearly describing the sea as encircling the earth ("ring round"). Despite what the intentions may be behind illustrations of the Norse world, the text speaks for itself regarding the cosmological perspective. The painting above is merely used as an illustration in this paper. The source material listed is what the argumentation is based on however.

21. The purpose in noting such parallelism ("comparative religion"), at least with my work, is not so much to give a "this culture stole it from this culture" idea. Rather, it is a Biblical concept. In Acts 17, the "Apostle Paul" speaks to the people of an Athenian religious context (Acts 17:22). He quotes one of their "own poets" as saying "For we are also His offspring" (Acts 17:28). His context is to quote the "idolatrous poet" as speaking a truth, one parallel with his own religion, as he says in the following passage, "Therefore, since we are the offspring of God . . ." (Acts 17:29). Thus, according to the Bible itself, a completely separate other religion can contain "truth" which may shed light on its own context.

In quoting other mythology, poems, writings, we may just be able to understand the Biblical context. Some (namely of the Sola Scriptura sort) may have a problem with this, only viewing the Bible itself as the source of truth. Such a perspective is unbiblical however (see Is The Bible Biblical?).

Moreover, some who involve themselves with comparative mythology may rely on dating methods in their work. I do not use this form of argumentation. Whether one religion dates later or not, parallelism may be relevant, and worth noting therefore. With Norse in particular, there is quite strong parallelism. The God Odin of course hangs from a tree, wounded via a spear, offered to himself on the tree (The Poetic EddaHávamál, 139). This is very parallel to Christ in the Bible (e.g. Galatians 3:13; John 19:34, 37). Thus, other parallels may indeed be worth studying in understanding Biblical details (in this case above, cosmology).

22. Sometimes, Atlas is depicted as holding up a globe, but such a portrayal is excessively anachronistic. He clearly is said to uphold heaven, standing at the borders of the earth (The Theogony of Hesiod, ll. 507-543). The "sphere" depiction seen with sculptures has to do with the celestial sphere (an interpretation of the heavens), not a globe. Moreover, this story appears to be quite widespread. Besides the Gandharan art of Atlas upholding a Buddhist monument (Hadda, Afghanistan), the Chinese mythology of Pan Gu indicates a similar concept, as he is seen pushing the earth and sky apart (Myths & Legends, p. 134). There is also the association of Atlas with the mountains in Morocco. As is said in the myth regarding Perseus and Atlas:
Atlas, with all his bulk, was changed into stone. His beard and hair became forests, his arms and shoulders cliffs, his head a summit, and his bones rocks. Each part increased in bulk till be became a mountain, and (such was the pleasure of the gods) heaven with all its stars rests upon his shoulders.
Besides the parallelism seen with Pan Gu (e.g. his "head became the mountain ranges" ibid.), notice what is said in Isaiah:
The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like that of many people! A tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together! The LORD of hosts musters the army for battle. They come from a far country, from the end of heaven–The LORD and His weapons of indignation, to destroy the whole land. (Isaiah 13:4-5, bold added)
The Septuagint reads "from the extremity of the foundation of the heaven" (απ ακρου θεμελιου του ουρανου). This foundation of heaven is in the context of the mountains afar off (earth at a distance, LXX). As said above, the pillars of heaven in the Bible (Job 26:11) appear to be a reference to mountains (cf. Job 26:11; Jeremiah 4:24; Habakkuk 3:10). And where is Atlas in these myths? At the borders of the earth. He was changed to stone, became a mountain.

Additionally, aside from Morocco, there is also a west African (Ghana) myth entitled "God Abandons the Earth" (see Myths & Legends, p. 22). In this story, at one point the sky was low enough (towards the earth) for the people to reach, but eventually, God becomes angry, pushes upwards against the sky, and casts it far into the distance.

23. Closest word to "sphere" Biblically is דּוּר (dûr), used in Isaiah 22:18 ("ball" KJV). It is never used for an earth shape in the Bible.

24. Apparently, "the earth" includes its pillars and foundations as part of it. They are the pillars and foundations of the earth (1 Samuel 2:8; Micah 6:2). Basically like how the supports are part of the cart itself in 1 Kings 7:34. Or, regarding the altar, how it's horns are "one piece with it" (Exodus 27:2). Speaking of the earth, God asks Job, "To what were its foundations fastened?" (Job 38:6). Apparently, "upon the seas" (Psalm 24:2), because that is what it says he founded it upon. The same Hebrew term for founded in Psalm 24:2 (יְסָדָהּ) is used in Job 38:4 for the foundations [בְּיָסְדִי] of the earth. The term in Job 38:6 is אֲדָנֶיהָ, but it is used to speak of the same concept of 38:4. It has to do with columns (e.g. Exodus 39:40), or in other words, the foundations. The waters however are distinct from the earth (e.g. Genesis 1:8-10).

25. The chaos reference in Job 26:7 can be translated as a past tense action. The Concordant Literal Version has "He stretched out the north over the chaos, hanging the earth upon nothingness." Notice, he stretched (past), hanging the earth. Why would this be past tense? Isaiah 45:18 uses the "chaos" term (i.e. תֹּהוּ) in opposition to "inhabited." The Bible mentions creatures under the earth (Revelation 5:3, 13; Philippians 2:10; Exodus 20:4; Deuteronomy 4:18; 5:8). This makes it sound like the waters under the earth (Deuteronomy 4:18) are inhabited after all. Yet "chaos" implies uninhabited in Isaiah 45:18. Yet, taking it back to the past, the waters in Genesis 1:9-10 are uninhabited, chaos, desolate (like in Jeremiah 4:23). Thus, God stretching the north over the chaos and hanging the earth upon nothingness back then, fits the waters (Psalm 24:1-2). It is in the same context of Job 26:10 which says "He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters." That is back at the creation of the world (Proverbs 8:27).

26. Some translations have "buzzing wings" (e.g. NKJV; NET). The NLT has "fluttering sails". Some may suggest "swarming with insects" (CEV), arguing that Cush was a land of many insects. Yet the focus of the context is the traveling in the sea seen in the passage after, "sends ambassadors by sea, even in vessels of reed on the waters" (Isaiah 18:2). This fits "boats" and "sails" better. Even "buzzing wings" would still be in the context of traveling (movement) in the water.

27. See Isaiah 41:5 and 42:10. Also see Isaiah 24:15; 60:9; Jeremiah 51:16; Ezekiel 27:3; Job 28:24-25.

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