THEME: This is an intricate word study that seeks to biblically unravel mysteries concerning the creation of (layered) heavens. This will include the possibility that the Raqia [“firmament”] was possibly layered in such a way as to allow for divisions of water below the earth as well as above the mantle of earth based on the Torah definition of the Raqia as “that which divided” waters into portions below the Raqia and above the Raqia. (Genesis 1:6 seq.) There is much speculation in this devotion, but it is for the purpose of seeking a Biblical basis for current scientific understanding of Earth as it exists within the Solar System and the Cosmos.
The contemplation concerns the idea of layered “Skies” (the Hebrew term will be studied to postulate that concept). First will be the ordinary reference to “Sky” (Earth’s enveloping atmosphere); second will be a reference to “Space” (that part of the cosmos that contains the Stars, etc. beyond the atmosphere of Earth but which are viewed by humanity through the atmosphere); third will be a reference to the Raqia as possibly having a non-obvious reference to the miles-thick mantle of Earth that (theoretically) separated surface water from pre-Flood, sub-surface reservoirs of water that erupted in the Great Flood of Genesis.
The “definition” of Raqia in Genesis 1 as that which “separated waters above from waters below” is the basis for the layered concept. If one is able to accept the dual / plural term “Shamaim” as indicating that “Heavens” were layered as delineated here, then it will give credibility to Dr. Walt Brown’s “Hydroplate Theory” which is dealt with in my book DESIGNED LIFE: Reflections of a Theologian, Hebraic Heritage Christian Press, 2021. That theory answers many questions about the contrast of evolutionary Uniformitarian Geology with creationist Catastrophic Geology.
THERE ARE TWO PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS for this devotion, both of which are necessary for the “layered” interpretation of “heavens” and “firmament” to be acceptable in both biblical and scientific terms. Those two considerations are:
FIRST that the Hebrew word “Shamaim” is both a dual and a plural word. The singular form is “Shamai” (Deuteronomy 33:28, “Shamaiv”, “his heaven” (sky), BDB).
The dual / plural form of the word for “heavens” contains a possible implication that “heaven” is layered (heavens). This is a notable concept when it is considered that in the opening sentence of Genesis “Shamaiim” (Heavens) as a plural (or dual) is in contrast with “Aretz” (Earth) which is a singular. It is the dual / plural form of the Hebrew word “Shamaiim” that is used consistently throughout the Biblical record (with the one exception in Deuteronomy 33:28, as far as I know). The ordinary understanding of the plural Hebrew term is “the atmosphere that surrounds the earth” (STONE Tanakh commentary). But the thesis of this devotion is that there are two other possible meanings of the term*: “Space” (beyond the atmospheric water of Earth], and the “Rock Mantle of Earth” (the “firm, flat thing” that “separated” (from the surface waters) the pre-Flood subterranean reservoirs that erupted in the Genesis account of the Flood in the form of geysers that shot into the atmosphere and then gathered into the surface waters of the original seas. This event significantly enlarged both the seas and the original (relatively-low) “mountains” of earth due to the violent tectonics of the Great Flood. That event resulted in the division of the early unified land mass of earth (“Pangea”) into the continents that we now have on the planet.
[*Shamaiim. There is another, mystical meaning of the term that should be considered: “heavens” also contains in it a metaphysical reference to the Transcendent realm of spirit in which God in His essential manifestation dwells (John 4:24) and in which there exist interdimensional beings such as the angels as well as the spirits and souls of departed humans.]
It should be noted that oil drillers consistently encounter salt water in sub-surface layers of the Earth and that such a routine phenomenon gives substance to Dr. Brown’s Hydroplate Theory and to the concept of the Raqia as a “firm, flat thing” that separates surface and sub-surface waters of Earth.
SECOND that the Hebrew word “Firmament” is properly understood as a “firm, flat thing” (to quote my Hebrew Professor at Perkins Seminary at SMU, Dallas, Texas USA, Dr. Roy Heller). Thus, BDB (p. 956) comments, “2. the vault of heaven, or ‘firmament,’ [was] regarded by Hebrews as solid, and supporting ‘waters’ above it, Gn 1:6, 7, 7, 7, 8 (called SHAMAIIM, all plural”) [Owens, dual: the spellings of dual and plural are identical and the interpretation is contextual].
These two concepts when taken together in the manner described above allow for a contemporary scientific understanding of the Biblical record that harmonizes with the biblical record. Then the Hydroplate Theory of Dr. Brown postulates that the Great Flood is explained by this means in simple geological terms—internal heating of the earth’s core increasing until the stability of the inner water systems of Earth erupted and produced the phenomenon I have described above. The tectonics of the Flood were then resolved into the scarred, marred, overturned, uplifted and divided condition of the earth that we see today (for instance, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA and the presence of fossils on the tops of mountains world-wide). This was accomplished naturally by the simple working of the law of gravity. Dr. Brown comments that his theory answers all geological questions without the many anomalies involved in Uniformitarian Geology.
TO SUMMARIZE: The bible contains within it all the core knowledge we need to unravel the scientific conundrums of our time. We must simply dig out the potential that is in the Hebrew Bible along with the conditions we observe on Earth to unite both Human Science and Divine Revelation into a cohesive whole.