Troublesome Topic: The Heavens Are between Two Quantities of Water

Genesis 1:6


Then ELOHIM said, “Come into being, oh beaten surface

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between the waters, to divide the interval between the waters and the waters.


Then THE CREATOR AND OWNER OF ALL THINGS said, “Oh  vast, strong, thin, arched surface that I see in my mind, I command you to become a physical reality, so you can divide the space between one bunch of water and the other bunch of water.”

Genesis 1:7


Thus ELOHIM made

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the beaten surface, and He divided the interval between the water that was beneath the beaten surface and the water that was above the beaten surface.

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In this way THE CREATOR AND OWNER OF ALL THINGS created the vast, strong, thin, arched surface, and He made a division between the water that was beneath the vast, strong, thin, arched surface and water that was above the vast, strong, thin, arched surface.

Genesis 1:8


And ELOHIM called the beaten surface “the heavens.” And there was evening, and there was morning, the second day.  (See comments below.)


Then THE CREATOR AND OWNER OF ALL THINGS gave the vast, strong, thin, arched surface names that included “sky, space and heaven.” At this point there had been a transition from daylight to darkness, and a transition from darkness to daylight, and since it was ready to commence the next transition, it was obvious that another day, the second day, had elapsed.  (See comments below.)

The Heavens Are between Two Quantities of Water

Not only did God make a quantity of water out beyond the “heavens,” He placed the stars in the heavens, i.e. within the layer of sky or heavens that is between the two quantities of water. This passage is referring to liquid water because the ancients had words for ice and vapor, but neither of those are used here. This sounds strange at best, and science has yet to confirm this statement. Among biblical scholars and among Bible believing scientists there is much debate and little agreement about what this means. I am more inclined to believe God than the scientists. Science continues to expand its knowledge and scientist continue to change what they say; God’s version of the story has not changed. Our understanding of the details of what God did has grown and changed, but God’s telling of it has never changed. I believe a quantity of water is out there beyond the stars, encircling the universe, because God has stated it so clearly in His word. Many other things that God’s word has said about science or history, and were thought to be wrong, have been proven right; it is a bad idea to “bet against” God and His word.

The Hebrew word for “Heavens” (which is always plural), includes in it the word “waters” (which is always plural). What’s more, the ancient Egyptians believed that the earth, sun, moon and stars are a bubble inside a vast quantity of water. Inside our bubble, the sun rises every morning and sets in the evening. They thought there was water below us and water above us. Maybe ancient peoples knew something we have chosen to ignore – that the amount of water surrounding us is much greater than we ever imagined.

What’s more, in the mind of the ancient Hebrews, one of the key symbolic meanings of “waters” is the idea of “abundance.” It can refer to the abundance of almost anything; the context of the passage always determines what type of abundance is being spoken of. If our universe is only a bubble in a vast sea of water, the word water would be the perfect word-picture for the concept of abundance.

The next lesson is:


1: “beaten surface”

The word used here comes from a root meaning “to beat.” It was usually used of precious metals that were beaten with a hammer for covering objects with a thin layer of gold – called gilding. Because it was “something solid that was extended by beating it until it was thin,” it came to mean such things as “expanse, extended surface, firm, solid.” Hence the King James rendering of “firmament.” The surface could be flat, curved, or shaped. Here it is obviously curved.

The use of this word in this context has given headaches to translators for a very long time.

To us it seems silly to think of the sky as something solid. However, I think the sky was described as being solid because whatever was up there did not come crashing down upon us; the things up there stayed up there and the sky was, in a manner of speaking, holding them in place. Thus, among the various emphases possible, the focus here is that it is a layer that is strong and expansive.


This is not the same word for “created” used in Genesis 1:1. This word is more general, and means “to do, to accomplish, to make” and a few other things. The use of this word does not negate the meaning of the word “create” used in 1:1. God did create the heavens; you could also say that He made them, they are both true statements.


This clearly states that there is a layer of water “out there” above or beyond the “heavens.” See my discussion of this issue in the long comment inserted into the text after verse 8.