Genesis 1:8
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) God called the firmament (the expanse) Heaven.—This is a Saxon word, and means something heaved up. The Hebrew probably means the heights, or upper regions, into which the walls of cities nevertheless ascend (Deuteronomy 1:28). In Genesis 1:1, “the heaven” may include the abysmal regions of space; here it means the atmosphere round our earth, which, at a distance of about forty-five miles from the surface, melts away into the imponderable ether. The work of the second day is not described as being good, though the LXX. add this usual formula. Probably, however, the work of the second and third days is regarded as one. In both there was a separation of waters; but it was only when the open expanse reached the earth’s surface, and reduced its temperature, that water could exist in any other form than that of vapour. But no sooner did it exist in a fluid form than the pressure of the atmosphere would make it seek the lowest level. The cooling, moreover, of the earth’s surface would produce cracks and fissures, into which the waters would descend, and when these processes were well advanced, then at the end of the third day “God saw that it was good.”

1:6-13 The earth was emptiness, but by a word spoken, it became full of God's riches, and his they are still. Though the use of them is allowed to man, they are from God, and to his service and honour they must be used. The earth, at his command, brings forth grass, herbs, and fruits. God must have the glory of all the benefit we receive from the produce of the earth. If we have, through grace, an interest in Him who is the Fountain, we may rejoice in him when the streams of temporal mercies are dried up.Then called God to the expanse, heaven. - This expanse is, then, the proper and original skies. We have here an interesting and instructive example of the way in which words expand in their significance from the near, the simple, the obvious, to the far and wide, the complex and the inferential: The heaven, in the first instance, meant the open space above the surface in which we breathe and move, in which the birds fly and the clouds float. This is the atmosphere. Then it stretches away into the seemingly boundless regions of space, in which the countless orbs of luminous and of opaque surfaces circumambulate. Then the heavens come to signify the contents of this indefinitely augmented expanse, - the celestial luminaries themselves. Then, by a still further enlargement of its meaning, we rise to the heaven of heavens, the inexpressibly grand and august presence-chamber of the Most High, where the cherubim and seraphim, the innumerable company of angels, the myriads of saints, move in their several grades and spheres, keeping the charge of their Maker, and realizing the joy of their being. This is the third heaven 2 Corinthians 12:2 to the conception of which the imaginative capacity of the human mind rises by an easy gradation. Having once attained to this majestic conception, man is so far prepared to conceive and compose that sublime sentence with which the book of God opens, - "In the beginning God created 'the heavens' and the earth."

The expanse, or aerial space, in which this arrangement of things has been effected, having received its appropriate name, is recognized as an accomplished fact, and the second day is closed.

Ge 1:6-8. Second Day.

6. firmament—an expanse—a beating out as a plate of metal: a name given to the atmosphere from its appearing to an observer to be the vault of heaven, supporting the weight of the watery clouds. By the creation of an atmosphere, the lighter parts of the waters which overspread the earth's surface were drawn up and suspended in the visible heavens, while the larger and heavier mass remained below. The air was thus "in the midst of the waters," that is, separated them; and this being the apparent use of it, is the only one mentioned, although the atmosphere serves other uses, as a medium of life and light.

And God called the firmament heaven,.... Including the starry and airy heavens: it has its name from its height in the Arabic language, it being above the earth, and reaching to the third heaven; though others take the word "shamaim" to be a compound of two words, "sham" and "maim", that is, there are waters, namely, in the clouds of heaven:

and the evening; and the morning were the second day; these together made up the space of twenty four hours, which was another natural day; the body of light, created on the first day, having again moved round the chaos in that space of time; or else the chaos had turned round on its own axis in that time, which revolution produced a second day; and which, according to Capellus, was the nineteenth of April, and according to Bishop Usher the twenty fourth of October. It is an observation that everyone may make, that the phrase,

and God saw that it was good, is not used at the close of this day's work, as of the rest: the reason some Jewish writers give is, because the angels fell on this day; but it is a much better which Jarchi gives, and that is, because the work of the waters was not finished; it was begun on the second day, and perfected on the third (d); and therefore the phrase is twice used in the account of the third day's work: the Septuagint version adds it here indeed, but without any foundation.

(d) Vid. Maimon. Moreh Nevochim, par. 2. c. 30.

And God called the firmament {g} Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

(g) That is, the region of the air, and all that is above us.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. God called the firmament Heaven] It is clear therefore that what the Hebrews meant by “Heaven,” was neither the clouds and mist, nor the empty space of the sky. It was a solid arch, to which, as we shall see in Genesis 1:14, the luminaries of the sky could be attached.

At the close of the description of the work on the other days, we find the formula “And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:10; Genesis 1:12; Genesis 1:18; Genesis 1:21; Genesis 1:25; Genesis 1:31). The omission of it here, at the close of the second day, is probably due to textual error.

LXX adds after the word “Heaven,” “and God saw that it was good.” It is more probable that the words have fallen out accidentally from the Hebrew text, than that the formula was intentionally omitted because, “the waters under the firmament” not having yet received their place, the Divine work upon the waters of the deep was regarded as still incomplete.Verse 8 - And God called the firmament heaven. Literally, the heights, shamayim, as in ver. 1. "This," says Principal Dawson, "may be regarded as an intimation that no definite barrier separates our film of atmosphere from the boundless abyss of heaven without;" and how appropriate the designation "heights" is, as applied to the atmosphere, we are reminded by science, which informs us that, after rising to the height of forty-five miles above the earth, it becomes imperceptible, and loses itself in the universal ether with which it is surrounded. And the evening and the morning were the second day. For the literal rendering of this clause see on ver. 5, It is observable that in connection with the second day's work the usual formula, "And God saw that it was good," is omitted. The "καὶ εἰδεν ὁ θεος ὅτι καλόν of the Septuagint is unsupported by any ancient version. The conceit of the Rabbis, that an expression of the Divine approbation was omitted because on this day the angels fell, requires no refutation. Aben Ezra accounts for its omission by making the second day's work terminate with ver. 10. Lange asks, "Had the prophetic author some anticipation that the blue vault was merely an appearance, whilst the sarans of the Septuagint had no such anticipation, and therefore proceeded to doctor the passage?" The explanation of Calvin, Delitzsch, Macdonald, and Alford, though declared by Kalisch to be of no weight, is probably the correct one, that the work begun on the second day was not properly terminated till the middle of the third, at which place, accordingly, the expression of Divine approbation is introduced (see ver. 10).

The Second Day. - When the light had been separated from the darkness, and day and night had been created, there followed upon a second fiat of the Creator, the division of the chaotic mass of waters through the formation of the firmament, which was placed as a wall of separation (מבדּיל) in the midst of the waters, and divided them into upper and lower waters. רקיע .s, from רקע to stretch, spread out, then beat or tread out, means expansum, the spreading out of the air, which surrounds the earth as an atmosphere. According to optical appearance, it is described as a carpet spread out above the earth (Psalm 54:2), a curtain (Isaiah 40:22), a transparent work of sapphire (Exodus 24:10), or a molten looking-glass (Job 37:18); but there is nothing in these poetical similes to warrant the idea that the heavens were regarded as a solid mass, a σιδήρεον, or χάλκεον or πολύχαλκον, such as Greek poets describe. The רקיע (rendered Veste by Luther, after the στερέωα of the lxx and firmamentum of the Vulgate) is called heaven in Genesis 1:8, i.e., the vault of heaven, which stretches out above the earth. The waters under the firmament are the waters upon the globe itself; those above are not ethereal waters

(Note: There is no proof of the existence of such "ethereal waters" to be found in such passages as Revelation 4:6; Revelation 15:2; Revelation 22:1; for what the holy seer there beholds before the throne as "a sea of glass like unto crystal mingled with fire," and "a river of living water, clear as crystal," flowing from the throne of God into the streets of the heavenly Jerusalem, are wide as the poles from any fluid or material substance from which the stars were made upon the fourth day. Of such a fluid the Scriptures know quite as little, as of the nebular theory of La Place, which, notwithstanding the bright spots in Mars and the inferior density of Jupiter, Saturn, and other planets, is still enveloped in a mist which no astronomy will ever disperse. If the waters above the firmament were the elementary matter of which the stars were made, the waters beneath must be the elementary matter of which the earth was formed; for the waters were one and the same before the creation of the firmament.) But the earth was not formed from the waters beneath; on the contrary, these waters were merely spread upon the earth and then gathered together into one place, and this place is called Sea. The earth, which appeared as dry land after the accumulation of the waters in the sea, was created in the beginning along with the heavens; but until the separation of land and water on the third day, it was so completely enveloped in water, that nothing could be seen but "the deep," or "the waters" (Genesis 1:2). If, therefore, in the course of the work of creation, the heaven with its stars, and the earth with its vegetation and living creatures, came forth from this deep, or, to speak more correctly, if they appeared as well-ordered, and in a certain sense as finished worlds; it would be a complete misunderstanding of the account of the creation to suppose it to teach, that the water formed the elementary matter, out of which the heaven and the earth were made with all their hosts. Had this been the meaning of the writer, he would have mentioned water as the first creation, and not the heaven and the earth. How irreconcilable the idea of the waters above the firmament being ethereal waters is with the biblical representation of the opening of the windows of heaven when it rains, is evident from the way in which Keerl, the latest supporter of this theory, sets aside this difficulty, viz., by the bold assertion, that the mass of water which came through the windows of heaven at the flood was different from the rain which falls from the clouds; in direct opposition to the text of the Scriptures, which speaks of it not merely as rain (Genesis 7:12), but as the water of the clouds. Vid., Genesis 9:12., where it is said that when God brings a cloud over the earth, He will set the rainbow in the cloud, as a sign that the water (of the clouds collected above the earth) shall not become a flood to destroy the earth again.)

beyond the limits of the terrestrial atmosphere, but the waters which float in the atmosphere, and are separated by it from those upon the earth, the waters which accumulate in clouds, and then bursting these their bottles, pour down as rain upon the earth. For, according to the Old Testament representation, whenever it rains heavily, the doors or windows of heaven are opened (Genesis 7:11-12; Psalm 78:23, cf. 2 Kings 7:2, 2 Kings 7:19; Isaiah 24:18). It is in (or with) the upper waters that God layeth the beams of His chambers, from which He watereth the hills (Psalm 104:13), and the clouds are His tabernacle (Job 36:29). If, therefore, according to this conception, looking from an earthly point of view, the mass of water which flows upon the earth in showers of rain is shut up in heaven (cf. Genesis 8:2), it is evident that it must be regarded as above the vault which spans the earth, or, according to the words of Psalm 148:4, "above the heavens."

(Note: In Genesis 1:8 the lxx interpolates καὶ εἶδεν ὁ Θεὸς ὅτι καλόν (and God saw that it was good), and transfers the words "and it was so" from the end of Genesis 1:7 to the close of Genesis 1:6 : two apparent improvements, but in reality two arbitrary changes. The transposition is copied from Genesis 1:9, Genesis 1:15, Genesis 1:24; and in making the interpolation, the author of the gloss has not observed that the division of the waters was not complete till the separation of the dry land from the water had taken place, and therefore the proper place for the expression of approval is at the close of the work of the third day.)

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