Exegetical and Hermeneutical Commentary of Genesis 1:6 – Bible Commentary

Exegetical and Hermeneutical Commentary of Genesis 1:6

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

6 8. The Firmament of the Heaven

6. Let there be waters ] The work of the “second day” is the creation of the so-called “firmament” of heaven. The Hebrews had no conception of an infinite ethereal space. The vault of heaven was to them a solid arched, or vaulted, structure, resting upon the pillars of the earth (Job 26:11). On the top of this dome were the reservoirs of “the waters above the heaven,” which supplied the rain and the dew. Beneath the earth were other reservoirs of waters, which were the sources of the seas, lakes, rivers and springs. After the creation of light the next creative act was, according to the Hebrew cosmogony, the division of the primaeval watery abyss, by means of a solid partition which is here denoted by the word rendered “firmament.” The waters are above it and below it.

a firmament ] This word reproduces the Lat. firmamentum; LXX . The Hebrew rqa denotes (see Heb. Lex.) “extended surface, (solid) expanse” (as if beaten out; cf. Job 37:18). For the verb raq‘a=beat, or spread, out, cf. Exo 39:3, Num 17:4, Jer 10:4, Eze 1:22, “and over the head of the living creatures there was the likeness of a firmament stretched forth over their heads above.” Compare Job 37:18, “canst thou with him spread out ( tarqi‘a) the sky which is strong as a molten mirror?” See Psa 19:1; Psa 150:1, Dan 12:3, where “firmament” = sky.

A diagram representing the Semitic conception of the Universe.

From Dr Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible, by kind permission of Messrs T. & T. Clark.

For the solidity of the heaven according to this conception, cf. Amo 9:6, “it is he that buildeth his chambers in the heaven, and hath founded his vault upon the earth.” The fall of rain was regarded as the act of God in opening the sluices of heaven, cf. Gen 7:11, 2Ki 7:2; 2Ki 7:19, Psa 78:23; Psa 148:4, “ye waters that be above the heavens.”

The LXX adds at the end of this verse, “and it was so.” This formula, which appears in Gen 1:11 ; Gen 1:15 ; Gen 1:24, in each case after the words of Divine fiat, seems more suitable here than at the close of Gen 1:7, as in the Hebrew text.

Fuente: The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

– IV. The Second Day

6. raqya, expanse; stereoma, raqa, spread out by beating, as leaf gold. This expanse was not understood to be solid, as the fowl is said to fly on the face of it Gen 1:21. It is also described as luminous Dan 12:3, and as a monument of divine power Psa 150:1.

7. asah work on, make out of already existing materials.

The second act of creative power bears upon the deep of waters, over which the darkness had prevailed, and by which the solid crust was still overlaid. This mass of turbid and noisy water must be reduced to order, and confined within certain limits, before the land can be reached. According to the laws of material nature, light or heat must be an essential factor in all physical changes, especially in the production of gases and vapors. Hence, its presence and activity are the first thing required in instituting a new process of nature. Air naturally takes the next place, as it is equally essential to the maintenance of vegetable and animal life. Hence, its adjustment is the second step in this latest effort of creation.

Gen 1:6

Let there be an expanse in the midst of the water. – For this purpose God now calls into existence the expanse. This is that interval of space between the earth on the one side and the birds on the wing, the clouds and the heavenly bodies on the other, the lower part of which we know to be occupied by the air. This will appear more clearly from a comparison of other passages in this chapter (Gen 1:14, Gen 1:20).

And let it be dividing between water and water. – It appears that the water in a liquid state was in contact with another mass of water, in the shape of dense fogs and vapors; not merely overhanging, but actually resting on the waters beneath. The object of the expanse is to divide the waters which are under it from those which are above it. Hence, it appears that the thing really done is, not to create the space that extends indefinitely above our heads (which, being in itself no thing, but only room for things, requires no creating), but to establish in it the intended disposition of the waters in two separate masses, the one above, and the other below the intervening expanse. This we know is effected by means of the atmosphere, which receives a large body of water in the state of vapor, and bears up a visible portion of it in the form of clouds. These ever-returning and ever-varying piles of mist strike the eye of the unsophisticated spectator; and when the dew is observed on the grass, or the showers of rain, hail, and snow are seen falling on the ground, the conclusion is obvious – that above the expanse, be the distance small or great, is laid up an unseen and inexhaustible treasury of water, by which the earth may be perpetually bedewed and irrigated.

The aqueous vapor is itself, as well as the element with which it is mingled, invisible and impalpable; but when condensed by cold it becomes apparent to the eye in the form of mists and clouds, and, at a certain point of coolness, begins to deposit itself in the palpable form of dew, rain, hail, or snow. As soon as it becomes obvious to the sense it receives distinguishing names, according to its varying forms. But the air being invisible, is unnoticed by the primitive observer until it is put in motion, when it receives the name of wind. The space it occupies is merely denominated the expanse; that is, the interval between us and the various bodies that float above and hang upon nothing, or nothing perceptible to the eye.

The state of things before this creative movement may be called one of disturbance and disorder, in comparison with the present condition of the atmosphere. This disturbance in the relations of air and water was so great that it could not be reduced to the present order without a supernatural cause. Whether any other gases, noxious or innocuous, entered into the constitution of the previous atmosphere, or whether any other ingredients were once held in solution by the watery deep, we are not informed. Whether any volcanic or plutonic violence had disturbed the scene, and raised a dense mass of gaseous damp and fuliginous matter into the airy region, is not stated. How far the disorder extended we cannot tell. We are merely certain that it reached over all the land known to man during the interval between this creation and the deluge. Whether this disorder was temporary or of long standing, and whether the change was effected by altering the axis of the earths rotation, and thereby the climate of the land of primeval man, or by a less extensive movement confined to the region under consideration, are questions on which we receive no instruction, because the solution does not concern our well-being. As soon as human welfare comes to be in any way connected with such knowledge, it will by some means be made attainable.

The introduction of the expanse produced a vast change for the better on the surface of the earth. The heavy mass of murky damp and aqueous steam commingling with the abyss of waters beneath is cleared away. The fogs are lifted up to the higher regions of the sky, or attenuated into an invisible vapor. A leaden mass of clouds still overshadows the heavens. But a breathing space of pure pellucid air now intervenes between the upper and lower waters, enveloping the surface of the earth, and suited for the respiration of the flora and fauna of a new world.

Let it be noted that the word be is here again employed to denote the commencement of a new adjustment of the atmosphere. This, accordingly, does not imply the absolute creation on the second day of our present atmosphere: it merely indicates the constitution of it out of the materials already at hand, – the selecting and due apportionment of the proper elements; the relegation of all now foreign elements to their own places; the dissipation of the lazy, deadening damps, and the establishment of a clear and pure air fit for the use of the future man. Any or all of these alterations will satisfy the form of expression here adopted.

Gen 1:7

Then made God the expanse. – Here the distinction between command and execution is made still more prominent than in the third verse. For the word of command stands in one verse, and the effect realized is related in the next. Nay, we have the doing of the thing and the thing done separately expressed. For, after stating that God made the expanse, it is added, and it was so. The work accomplished took a permanent form, in which it remained a standing monument of divine wisdom and power.

Gen 1:8

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 2Co 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.

Fuente: Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Gen 1:6-8

Let there be a firmament

The atmosphere



1. Gathers up the vapours.

2. Throws them down again in rain, snow, or dew, when needed.

3. Modifies and renders more beautiful the light of the sun.

4. Sustains life.


1. The atmosphere is necessary for the transmission of sound. If there were no atmosphere, the bell might be tolled, the cannon might be fired, a thousand voices might render the music of the sweetest hymn, but not the faintest sound would be audible. Thus all commercial, educational, and social intercourse would be at an end, as men would not be able to hear each other speak. We seldom think of the worth of the atmosphere around us, never seen, seldom felt, but without which the world would be one vast grave.

2. The atmosphere is necessary for many purposes related to the inferior objects of the world. Without it the plants could not live, our gardens would be divested of useful vegetables, and beautiful flowers. Artificial light would be impossible. The lamp of the mines could not be kindled. The candle of the midnight student could never have been lighted. The bird could not have wended its way to heavens gate to utter its morning song, as there would have been no air to sustain its flight.


1. To be thankful for the air we breathe. How often do we recognize the air by which we are surrounded as amongst the chief of our daily blessings, and as the immediate and continued gift of God? How seldom do we utter praise for it.

2. To make the best use of the life it preserves. To cultivate a pure life. To speak golden words. To make a true use of all the subordinate ministries of nature. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)

Uses of the atmosphere

1. The atmosphere is the great fund and storehouse of life to plants and animals; its carbonic acid is the food of the one, and its oxygen the nourishment of the other; without its carbonic acid the whole vegetable kingdom would wither, and without its oxygen the blood of animals, which is the life thereof, would be only serum and water.

2. It is a refractor of light. Without it the suns rays would fall perpendicularly and directly on isolated portions of the world, and with a velocity which would probably render them invisible; but by means of the atmosphere they are diffused in a softened effulgence through the entire globe.

3. It is a reflector of light. Hence its mysterious, beautiful, and poetical blue, contrasting and yet harmonizing with the green mantle of the world.

4. It is the conservator and disperser and modifier of heat. By its hot currents constantly flung from the equatorial regions of the world, even the cold of the frigid zones is deprived of its otherwise unbearable rigour; while the mass of cold air always rushing from about the poles towards the equator quenches half the heat of tropical suns, and condenses the vapour so needful to the luxuriant vegetation.

5. It is the great vibratory of sound, the true sounding board of the world, and without it the million voices and melodies of this earth would all be dumb; it would be a soundless desert, where an earthquake would not make a whisper. By its pressure the elastic fluids of animal bodies are prevented from bursting their slender vessels and causing instantaneous destruction. Its winds propel our ships, its electricity conveys our messages. By the aid of its warm gales and gentle dews the desert can be made to blossom as the rose. (John Cobley.)

The composition of the atmosphere

But the atmosphere with which the Creator has surrounded the earth is wonderful also in its composition. The two elements of which it chiefly consists–oxygen and nitrogen–are mixed in definite proportions, as 20 to 80 in 100 parts. If this proportion were but slightly altered, as nitrogen destroys life and extinguishes flame, the result of any perceptible increase of it would be that fires would lose their strength and lamps their brightness, plants would wither, and man, with the whole animal kingdom, would perform their functions with difficulty and pain. Or if the quantity of nitrogen were much diminished, and the oxygen increased, the opposite effect would be produced. The least spark would set anything combustible in a flame; candles and lamps would burn with the most brilliant blaze for a moment, but would be quickly consumed. If a house caught fire, the whole city would be burnt down. The animal fluids would circulate with the greatest rapidity, brain fever would soon set in, and the lunatic asylums would be filled. A day is coming when the elements shall melt with fervent heat. God has but to subtract the nitrogen from the air, and the whole world would instantly take fire; such is the activity and energy of the oxygen when left uncontrolled. (Brewer.)

Interesting illustrations of design in the atmosphere

Vast quantities of oxygen are daily consumed by animals, and by combustion. Carbonic acid gas is evolved instead. But this gas is so injurious that when the air is charged with only one-tenth part of it, it is wholly unfit for animals to breathe, and is unsuitable to the support of fires. The vegetable kingdom meets the whole difficulty. It gives out oxygen and takes in carbonic acid in amply sufficient measure to balance the disturbance created by the animals. Thus every breath we draw instructs us to admire the wisdom of Him who doeth all things well. (Brewer.)

Again, oxygen is a little heavier and nitrogen a little lighter than common air. Had it been otherwise, had nitrogen been a little heavier, and carbonic acid gas been a little lighter, we must have breathed them again, so that, instead of breathing wholesome air, we should have been constantly inhaling the very gases which the lungs had rejected as offal. The consequences would have been most fatal. Life would have been painful; diseases ten times more prevalent than they now are; and death would have cut us off at the very threshold of our existence. (Brewer.)

Further, if the air had possessed an odour, such as that of phosphuretted hydrogen, it would have interfered not only with the perfume of flowers, but also with our faculty of discriminating wholesome foods by their smell. If it had been coloured like chlorine gas, or a London fog, we should have seen only the thick air, and not the objects around us. Had it been less transparent than it now is, it would have obstructed the rays of the sun, diminished their light and warmth, and abridged our power of distant vision. (Brewer.)

The air is the great means of life, not only to man, but to all living things. It is also essential to combustion. Without it no fire would burn, and all our industries which depend on the use of fire would necessarily be at a standstill. By the heat of the sun an immense quantity of water in the form of vapour is daily carried up from the earth, rivers, and seas–amounting, indeed, to many millions of gallons! In the course of a year it is not less than forty thousand cubic miles! But if there were no atmosphere this circulation could not exist. There would be no rain, rivers, or seas, but one vast desert. Neither could the clouds be buoyed up from the surface of the earth, nor could the winds blow to disperse noxious vapours, and produce a system of ventilation among the abodes of men. (Brewer.)

The influence of sin seen in its deterioration

There is something in the earths atmosphere that blights and injures. It is not the same healthful, genial, joyous firmament that it was when God created it. (H. Bonar.)

Genesis of the sky


1. Ancient conception of the sky. To the ancient Hebrew the sky seemed a vast, outstretched, concave surface or expansion, in which the stars were fastened, and over which the ethereal waters were stored. (See Pro 8:27; Heb 1:12; Isa 34:4; Isa 40:22; Job 22:14; Job 37:18; Psa 148:4.) Ah, all this, you tell me, is scientifically false; the sky is not a material arch, or tent, or barrier, with outlets for rain; it is only the matterless limit of vision. Neither, let me again remind you, is there any such thing as sunrise or sunset. To use such words is to utter what science declares is a falsehood. And yet your astronomer, living in the blaze of science, fresh from the discovery of spectrum analysis and satellites of Mars, and knowing too that his words are false, still persists in talking of sunrise and sunset. Will you, then, deny to the untutored Moses, speaking in the child-like language of that ancient infarct civilization, the privilege which you so freely accord to the nineteenth-century astronomer?

2. Panorama of the emerging sky. Everywhere is still a shapeless, desolate chaos. And now a sudden break is seen. A broad, glorious band or expanse glides through the angry, chaotic waste, separating it into two distinct masses–the lower, the heavy fluids; the upper, the ethereal vapours. The band, still bearing upward the vapour, swells and mounts and arches and vaults, till it becomes a concave hemisphere or dome. That separating, majestic dimension we cannot to this day call by a better name than the expanse. And that expanse God called heavens. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.


1. The heavens suggest the souls true direction–it is upward. To express moral excellence by terms of altitude is an instinct. How naturally we use such phrases as these: Exalted worth, high resolve, lofty purpose, elevated views, sublime character, eminent purity! How naturally, too, we use opposite phrases: Low instincts, base passions, degraded character, grovelling habits, stooping to do it! Doubtless here, too, is the secret of the arch, and especially the spire, as the symbol of Christian architecture: the Church is an aspiration. Even the very word heaven itself, like the Greek Ouranos, means height, and, according to the etymologists, is an Anglo-Saxon word, heo-fan; meaning what is heaved up, lifted, heav-en–heaven. Well, then, may the vaulting sky stand as a symbol of human aspiration. The true life is a perpetual soaring and doming; or rather, like the mystic temple of Ezekiels vision, it is an inverted spiral, forever winding upward, and broadening as it winds (Eze 41:7). The souls true life is a perpetual exhalation; her affections evermore evaporating from her own great deep, and mounting heavenward in clouds of incense.

2. As the heavens suggest human aspirations, so do the heavens suggest their complement, Divine perfections. It is true, e.g., in respect to Gods immensity. Nothing seems so remote from us, or gives such an idea of vastness, as the dome of heaven. Climb we ever so high on mountain top, the stars are still above us. Again: It is true in respect to Gods sovereignty. Nothing seems to be so absolutely beyond human control or modification as the sun and stars of heaven. Again: It is true in respect to Gods spirituality. Nothing seems so like that rarity of texture which we instinctively ascribe to pure, incorporeal spirit, as that subtile, tenuous ether which, it is believed, pervades the clear, impalpable sky, and, indeed, all immensity. And in this subtile ether, so invisible to sight, so impalpable to touch, so diffused throughout earth and the spaces of the heavenly expanse, we may behold a symbol of that invisible, intangible, ever-omnipresent One who Himself is Spirit; and who, accordingly, can be worshipped only in spirit and truth (Joh 4:24). Again: it is true in respect to Gods purity. Nothing is so exquisite an emblem of absolute spotlessness and eternal chastity, as the unsullied expanse of heaven, untrodden by mortal foot, unswept by aught but angel wings. Again: It is true in respect to Gods beatitude. We cannot conceive a more perfect emblem of felicity and moral splendour than light. Everywhere and evermore, among rudest nations as well as among most refined, light is instinctively taken as the first and best possible emblem of whatever is most intense and perfect in blessedness and glory. And whence comes light–the light which arms us with health, and fills us with joy, and tints flower and cloud with beauty, and floods mountain and mead with splendour–but from the sky? Well, then, may the shining heaven be taken as the elect emblem of Him who decketh Himself with light as with a robe (Psa 104:2), who dwelleth in light which no man can approach unto (1Ti 6:16), who Himself is the Father of lights (Jam 1:17). (G. D.Boardman.)

The atmosphere

The word atmosphere indicates, in general, its character and its relation to the earth. It is compounded of two Greek words, one signifying vapour and the other sphere, and, taken together, they denote a sphere of vapour enveloping or enwrapping the whole earth. The ancients regarded the air, as children do now, as nothing at all. A vessel filled only with air, had nothing in it. As light as air is a proverbial expression, but a very false one, to denote nothingness. We may not be aware of it, but yet it is true that the breathing of the air yields us three-quarters of our nourishment, while the other quarter only is supplied by the food, solid and liquid, of which we partake. The principal parts of this food are oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbonic acid, and these, too, are the constituent elements of the atmosphere. There is a sense, therefore, in which we may truly say of the air, what the apostle and the old Greek poet before him said of God, In it we live and move and have our being. The weight of the atmosphere is so great that its pressure upon a man of ordinary size has been computed to be about fourteen or fifteen tons. A man of large frame would have to carry one or two tons additional. But as the airs pressure is lateral as well as vertical, and equal upon all sides and parts of every body, it not only does not crush or injure the frailest flower, but actually feeds and nourishes it. There are other than atmospheric burdens, and those which consciously press more heavily, which yet a man may find a great blessing ill carrying with a cheerful face and courage. The atmosphere is tenanted by myriad forms of life, vegetable and animal. A French naturalist of great eminence, M. Miquel, writing upon Living Organisms of the Atmosphere, has found numberless organisms dancing in the light of a single sunbeam. The atmosphere, moreover, is the great agent by which nature receives the wonderful colours which are her most beautiful adorning. It is owing to the reflection of the suns rays that the sky and the distant horizon assume that beautiful azure hue which is subject to endless variations. It is owing to the refraction of these rays as they pass obliquely through the aerial strata, that we have the splendours of the morning and evening twilight, and that we seem to see the sun three or four minutes before he actually rises above the eastern horizon, and three or four minutes after he actually disappears below the western horizon. If it were not for the atmosphere, the light would instantaneously disappear as the sun sank below the horizon, and leave the world in utter darkness, while at his rising in the morning the world would pass in an instant from complete darkness into a flood of dazzling and blinding light. Such daily and sudden shocks to vision would be painful, and probably destructive to sight. Without the atmosphere there would have been no place in the universe for the dwelling place of man, because without it the waters would have prevailed. But as by the atmosphere the waters below were, on the second day of the creative week, divided from those above, a place was provided suitable for the abode of man. Without the air, which gathers the moisture in the clouds and sends it down again upon the earth, there could be no precipitation of rain or snow. Without the atmosphere there could be no purifying winds, which are but air in motion, no medium to transmit and diffuse the light and heat of the sun, no agent to modify and make surpassingly beautiful the light of the sun, and no possibility of respiration for plants or animals, without which it would be impossible to maintain any form of organic life. The atmosphere, too, is indispensable for all the practical purposes of life. If by some miraculous intervention it should be made possible for human life to exist without the air, it would be useless and vain. The air is necessary for the transmission of sound. Without it, the bell might be tolled, the cannon might be fired, a great multitude of voices might unite to render the music of the sweetest hymn, but not the faintest sound would be audible either to the performers or to the listeners. In the worship of God we should need no tune books, no organ, no choir, no preacher, for there is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard, and the voices of none of these could be heard. You might breathe or even loudly speak your words of love into the very ear of some dear one, and yet not one of your words would be heard without the presence of air in the ear to empower its wondrous mechanism for hearing. As light is indispensable for seeing, so in exactly the same way is the air necessary for hearing, and without it the ear would be a perfectly useless organ, instead of being, as now, a wonderful organ to minister to our joy and delight. And since without the atmosphere we could not hear each other speak, it follows that all commercial, educational, and social intercourse would be at an end, and the earth would become one vast grave.

1. Let us learn from the air a lesson–and it is a most impressive one–as to the inestimable value of our common mercies, which we enjoy every moment, without a thought and without an emotion of gratitude to the great Giver of them.

2. Let us learn from the atmosphere a lesson as to how to overcome our difficulties. The dove in the fable was irritated because the wind ruffled its feathers and opposed its flight. It foolishly desired to have a firmament free from air, through the empty spaces of which it vainly thought it could fly with the speed of lightning. Silly bird! It did not know that without the air it could not fly at all, nor even live. And just so it is with the difficulties we encounter. Without them and without conquering them, a high Christian manhood or character is unattainable.

3. Let us learn from the atmosphere a lesson of thankfulness. It is amongst the chief of our daily blessings, and is the immediate and continuous gift of God, to whom our praises are continually due.

4. Let us learn from the atmosphere to make the best use possible of the life it nourishes and preserves. As in itself the air is sweet, wholesome, and life-giving, let us be taught by it to live pure and noble lives which shall yield for others wholesome and helpful and not poisonous and corrupt influences. Our example makes a moral atmosphere for others to breathe, which is wholesome or noxious, according as the example is good or bad. (G. C.Noyes, D. D.)

The atmosphere

The atmosphere, like an ocean, overlies the whole surface of the earth; in fact, it is an ocean; and it is literally true, that, like crabs and lobsters, we live and move and spend our days at the bottom of a sea–an aerial sea. This atmospheric ocean rises far above us, and, like that of waters, has its waves, its currents, and its tides. It is found to grow more rarified, as well as colder, as we ascend towards its upper limit, which is supposed to be about forty-five miles above the level of the sea. Barometrical observations, however, show that on ascending to the height of three and a half miles (nearly that of Cotopaxi), we leave behind us, by weight, more than one-half the whole mass of the atmosphere. And from the experience of aeronauts, it is believed that there is no such air as man can breathe at an elevation of eight miles; probably death would be the certain consequence of exceeding seven, though some, of late, at great risk and suffering, have ascended to nearly that height. On the summit of Mont Blanc, which is a trifle under three miles, the sensations of those who make the ascent are very painful, owing to the levity of the air; the flesh puffs out, the head is oppressed, the respiration is difficult, and the face becomes livid; whilst the temperature is cold almost past endurance. This ocean of air, like that of water, has also its weight and pressure. People, in general, are not aware, because they are not conscious, of any weight resting upon them from the atmosphere; yet reliable experiments prove that at the sea level it presses with a force equal to fourteen and three-fifths pounds on every square inch, or 2,100 pounds on every square foot, or 58,611,548,160 pounds on every square mile; or on the whole surface of the earth with a weight equal to that of a solid globe of lead sixty miles in diameter! How few reflect that they live under an ocean of such stupendous weight! But to bring this fact more sensibly before the mind, we may state that the atmospheric pressure on the whole surface of a medium sized man is no less than fourteen tons–a weight that would instantly crash him, as hollow vessels collapse when sunk deep in the ocean, but for the elasticity and equal pressure of the air on every part without, and the counterbalancing pressure and elasticity of the air within. The air encompassing the earth is a compound substance, made up of two gases, mixed in the proportion of twenty-one parts of oxygen to seventy-nine parts of nitrogen, by measure; mixed with these is a small proportion of carbonic acid gas, which does not exceed one two-thousandth part of the whole volume of the atmosphere. Whether the air is taken from the greatest depths, or the most exalted heights which man has ever reached, this proportion of the oxygen and nitrogen gases is maintained invariably. Considering the vast and varied exhalations that constantly ascend from sea and land, together with the incessant agitation of winds and tempests, this stands before us a most astonishing fact, indeed! But it is not more wonderful than it is important. No possible change could be made in the composition of the air, without rendering it injurious both to animal and vegetable life. If the quantity of nitrogen were but a little increased, all the vital functions of man would be performed with difficulty, pain, and slowness, and the pendulum of life would soon come to a stand. If, on the other hand, the proportion of oxygen were increased, all the processes of life would be quickened into those of a fever, and the animal fabric would soon be destroyed, as it were, by its own fires. (H. W. Morris, D. D.)


1. On the mass of the atmosphere. Vast an appendage as this is to our globe, its dimensions and density have been adapted with the utmost exactness to the constitution of all organized existences. Any material change in its mass would require a corresponding change in the structure of both plants and animals, and, indeed, in the whole economy of the world. If its mass were considerably reduced, all the difficulties experienced by travellers on the summits of lofty mountains, and by aeronauts at great elevations above the earth, would ensue; on the other hand, if much increased, opposite and equally disastrous results would follow. If the atmosphere had been twice or three times its present mass, currents of air would move with double or triple their present force. With such a change nothing on sea or land could stand against a storm. But how happily do we find all things balanced as now constituted. And how obvious, that, ere ever God had breathed forth the fluid air, in His all-comprehending Mind, its mass was measured and weighed, and the strength and wants of all living creatures duly estimated before one of them had been called into being. All the works of God have been done according to a determinate counsel and infallible foreknowledge.

2. On the pressure of the atmosphere. Contemplating the enormous weight of the air, resting upon all things and all persons, who but must devoutly admire both the wisdom and the goodness of the Creator, in so adjusting all the properties of the firmament, that under it we can breathe and walk and act with ease, unconscious of weight or oppression, while in fact we are every moment under a load, which, when reduced to figures, surpasses both our comprehension and belief.

3. On the composition of the atmosphere. How very wonderful is this! When we reflect upon the proportions and combinations of its constituent elements, we cannot but look up with adoring reverence to its Divine Author. What wisdom, what power, what benevolence, have been exercised in arranging the chemical constitution and agencies of this world, to adapt them unfailingly to the strength and wants of animals and of plants, even the most delicate and minute! How very slightly the atmosphere of life differs from one that would produce instant and universal death How trifling the change the Almighty had need make in the air we hourly breathe, to lay all the wicked and rebellious sons of men lifeless and silent in the dust! (H. W. Morris, D. D.)

A type of prayer and its answer

In the natural world, the sun pours down its light and heat, and diffuses his genial influences over all; yet warming and animating, in a special degree, those fields and hillsides turned more directly towards him, and drawing upward from them a proportionally greater amount of vapour; this vapour, as we have seen, in due time, returns in showers, refreshing and beautifying all nature. So in the world of Christian devotion. Under the benignant beams of the Sun of Righteousness, the exhalations of prayer and praise are drawn upwards to the heavenly throne, more abundantly, as in nature, from those more completely under His gracious influences; and these exhalations of the heart, through a Saviours mediation, are made to return in richer showers, even showers of grace, to refresh and strengthen those souls to bring forth fruit unto everlasting life. Again: As the earth, without showers, would soon become parched and barren and dead; so, without the rain and dew of Divine grace, the moral earth would become as iron, and its heavens as brass; every plant of holiness, every flower of piety, and every blade of virtue, would soon droop and die. Nor does the parallel end here: as in the physical world, the greater the quantity of vapours drawn up from sea and land, the greater will be the amount of rain that sooner or later will come down on plain and mountain; so in the spiritual, the more abundant the exhalations of prayer and supplication from the children of men, the more copious the showers of grace that will be poured out in return. Let prayer, therefore, daily ascend as the vapours from the ends of the earth, and rise as clouds of incense before the throne, and this wilderness shall yet blossom as the rose, flourish as the garden of the Lord, and bloom with all the beauties of an unblighted paradise. (H. W. Morris, D. D.)

Atmospherical adjustments

The atmosphere constitutes a machinery which, in all its complicated and admirable adjustments, offers the most striking displays and convincing proofs of this. This vast and wonderful appendage of our globe has been made expressly to meet the nature and wants of the living creatures and growing vegetation that occupy its surface; and all these plants and animals have been created with distinct reference to the properties of the atmosphere. Throughout design and mutual adaptation are most manifest. The atmosphere has been composed of those elements, and composed of them in just the proportions that are essential to the health and nurture of all living creatures. The atmosphere has been made for lungs; and lungs have been made for the atmosphere, being elaborately constructed for its alternate admission and expulsion. And how beautiful that adjustment by which animals breathe of the oxygen of the air, and set carbonic acid free for the use of plants, while plants absorb carbonic acid, and set oxygen free for the benefit of animals! The atmosphere and the ear have also been formed one for the other. This organ is so constructed that its use depends entirely upon the elastic properties of the air. In like manner the atmosphere and the organs of speech have been formed in mutual adaptation. The whole mouth, the larynx, the tongue, the lips, have been made with inimitable skill to form air into words. Equally evident is the mutual adaptation of the atmosphere and the organs of smell, as the latter can effect their function only in connection with the former. In one word, all the parts of all animal organizations, even to the very pores of the skin, have been contrived with minute nicety in adaptation to the constituent elements and elastic properties of the atmosphere. Add to all the foregoing, its admirable qualities for disseminating h, at evaporating moisture, equalizing climate, producing winds, forming clouds, and diffusing light–and we behold in the Firmament of heaven a concourse of vast contrivances, that constitute a sublime anthem to the Creators praise! The various elements composing the atmosphere, its gases, and vapours, and electricity, are, indeed, as if instinct with life and reason. Animated by the solar beams, they are everywhere in busy and unerring activity,–sometimes acting singly, sometimes in combination, but always playing into each others hands with a certainty and perfection which might almost be called intelligence, and which nothing short of Infinite Wisdom could have devised. Thus, by their manifold and beneficial operations, the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork. (H. W. Morris, D. D.)

The firmament

The use of it was to divide the waters from the waters: that is, the waters on the earth from the waters in the clouds, which are well known to be supported by the buoyant atmosphere. The division here spoken of is that of distribution. God having made the substance of all things, goes on to distribute them. By means of this the earth is watered by the rain of heaven, without which it would be unfruitful, and all its inhabitants perish. God makes nothing in vain. There is a grandeur in the firmament to the eye; but this is not all: usefulness is combined with beauty. Nor is it useful only with respect to animal subsistence: it is a mirror, conspicuous to all, displaying the glory of its Creator, and showing His handiworks. The clouds also, by emptying themselves upon the earth, set us an example of generosity; and reprove those who, full of this worlds good, yet keep it principally to themselves. (A. Fuller.)

The second day

The second days work is the forming of an expanse or heaven in the creature, by which the hitherto unbounded waters are divided from the waters. God then names the expanse. At this stage the state of the creature, that it is drowned in waters, begins to be perceived. Such is the second state or stage in the new creation. In the midst of the waters a heaven is formed in the once benighted creature. That unstable element, so quickly moved by storms, is the well-known type of the restless desires of the heart of fallen man; for the wicked are like the troubled sea, which cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. Before regeneration, unquiet lusts everywhere prevail: the whole man or creature is drowned and buried in them. In the progress of the new creation, these waters are not at once removed: indeed, they are never wholly removed till that other creation comes, when there is no more sea. They are first divided by a heaven; then bounded on the third day, when the dry land rises up out of them. This heaven represents the understanding opened, as the rising earth upon the third day shows us the will liberated. For till now, the understanding has been darkened; nay, it is written of the natural man that he has no understanding. But now the heaven is stretched. Christ opens the understanding of those who before this had been His disciples. And thus another precious gift, once hid with Christ in God, now by Christ is wrought in us also. A heaven is formed within the creature; a heaven into which darkness may return, and through which clouds shall pour as well as bright sunshine; a heaven which for sin may be shut up and become like brass, but which was made to be the home and treasure house of sweet and dewy showers; a heaven like Israels path through the sea of old, sorely threatened by dark and thick waters, but, like that same path, a step to resurrection power, and worthy to be called heaven, even by God Himself; influencing the earth in untold ways, here attracting, there repelling; the great means after light of arranging and disposing all things. (A. Jukes.)

Fuente: Biblical Illustrator Edited by Joseph S. Exell

Verse 6. And God said, Let there be a firmament] Our translators, by following the firmamentum of the Vulgate, which is a translation of the of the Septuagint, have deprived this passage of all sense and meaning. The Hebrew word rakia, from raka, to spread out as the curtains of a tent or pavilion, simply signifies an expanse or space, and consequently that circumambient space or expansion separating the clouds, which are in the higher regions of it, from the seas, c., which are below it. This we call the atmosphere, the orb of atoms or inconceivably small particles but the word appears to have been used by Moses in a more extensive sense, and to include the whole of the planetary vortex, or the space which is occupied by the whole solar system.

Fuente: Adam Clarke’s Commentary and Critical Notes on the Bible

A firmament; or, an extension, or a space or

place extended or stretched out, and spread abroad like a tent or curtain, between the waters, though not exactly in the middle place; as Tyrus is said to sit, or be situated in the midst of the seas, Eze 28:2, though it was but a little space within the sea. But of these things see more in Gen 1:7.

Fuente: English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

6. firmamentan expanseabeating out as a plate of metal: a name given to the atmosphere fromits appearing to an observer to be the vault of heaven,supporting the weight of the watery clouds. By the creation ofan atmosphere, the lighter parts of the waters which overspread theearth’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; andthis being the apparent use of it, is the only one mentioned,although the atmosphere serves other uses, as a medium of life andlight.

Ge1:9-13. THIRD DAY.

Fuente: Jamieson, Fausset and Brown’s Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

And God said, let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters,…. On which the Spirit of God was sitting and moving, Ge 1:2 part of which were formed into clouds, and drawn up into heaven by the force of the body of fire and light already produced; and the other part left on the earth, not yet gathered into one place, as afterwards: between these God ordered a “firmament to be”, or an “expanse” v; something stretched out and spread like a curtain, tent, or canopy: and to this all those passages of Scripture refer, which speak of the stretching out of the heavens, as this firmament or expanse is afterwards called; see

Ps 104:2 and by it is meant the air, as it is rendered by the Targum on Ps 19:1 we call it the “firmament” from the w word which the Greek interpreter uses, because it is firm, lasting, and durable: and it has the name of an expanse from its wide extent, it reaching from the earth to the third heaven; the lower and thicker parts of it form the atmosphere in which we breathe; the higher and thinner parts of it, the air in which fowls fly, and the ether or sky in which the sun, moon, and stars are placed; for all these are said to be in the firmament or expanse, Ge 1:17. These are the stories in the heavens the Scriptures speak of, Am 9:6 and the air is divided by philosophers into higher, middle, and lower regions: and so the Targum of Jonathan places this firmament or expanse between the extremities of the heaven, and the waters of the ocean. The word in the Syriac language has the sense of binding and compressing x; and so it is used in the Syriac version of Lu 6:38 and may denote the power of the air when formed in compressing the chaos, and dividing and separating the parts of it; and which it now has in compressing the earth, and the several parts that are in it, and by its compression preserves them and retains them in their proper places y:

and let it divide the waters from the waters; the waters under it from those above it, as it is explained in the next verse; of which more there.

v “expansio”, Montanus. Tigurine version; “extensio”, Munster, Fagius, Vatablus, Aben Ezra; “expansum”, Junius, Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius, Schmidt, Sept. “firmamentum”, V. L. w Id. x Vid. Castell. Lex. col. 3647. Fuller. Miscell. Sacr. l. 1. c. 6. y Vid. Dickinson. Physica “vetus et vera”, c. 7. sect. 13, 14. p. 88, 89.

Fuente: John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

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 ( ) in the midst of the waters, and divided them into upper and lower waters. .s , from 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 (Psa 54:2), a curtain (Isa 40:22), a transparent work of sapphire (Exo 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 , or or , such as Greek poets describe. The (rendered Veste by Luther, after the of the lxx and firmamentum of the Vulgate) is called heaven in Gen 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 Rev 4:6; Rev 15:2; Rev 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” (Gen 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 (Gen 7:12), but as the water of the clouds. Vid., Gen 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 (Gen 7:11-12; Psa 78:23, cf. 2Ki 7:2, 2Ki 7:19; Isa 24:18). It is in (or with) the upper waters that God layeth the beams of His chambers, from which He watereth the hills (Psa 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. Gen 8:2), it is evident that it must be regarded as above the vault which spans the earth, or, according to the words of Psa 148:4, “above the heavens.”

(Note: In Gen 1:8 the lxx interpolates (and God saw that it was good), and transfers the words “and it was so” from the end of Gen 1:7 to the close of Gen 1:6: two apparent improvements, but in reality two arbitrary changes. The transposition is copied from Gen 1:9, Gen 1:15, Gen 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.)

Fuente: Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

The Creation.

B. C. 4004.

      6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.   7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.   8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

      We have here an account of the second day’s work, the creation of the firmament, in which observe, 1. The command of God concerning it: Let there be a firmament, an expansion, so the Hebrew word signifies, like a sheet spread, or a curtain drawn out. This includes all that is visible above the earth, between it and the third heavens: the air, its higher, middle, and lower, regions–the celestial globe, and all the spheres and orbs of light above: it reaches as high as the place where the stars are fixed, for that is called here the firmament of heaven (Gen 1:14; Gen 1:15), and as low as the place where the birds fly, for that also is called the firmament of heaven, v. 20. When God had made the light, he appointed the air to be the receptacle and vehicle of its beams, and to be as a medium of communication between the invisible and the visible world; for, though between heaven and earth there is an inconceivable distance, yet there is not an impassable gulf, as there is between heaven and hell. This firmament is not a wall of partition, but a way of intercourse. See Job 26:7; Job 37:18; Psa 104:3; Amo 9:6. 2. The creation of it. Lest it should seem as if God had only commanded it to be done, and some one else had done it, he adds, And God made the firmament. What God requires of us he himself works in us, or it is not done. He that commands faith, holiness, and love, creates them by the power of his grace going along with his word, that he may have all the praise. Lord, give what thou commandest, and then command what thou pleasest. The firmament is said to be the work of God’s fingers, Ps. viii. 3. Though the vastness of its extent declares it to be the work of his arm stretched out, yet the admirable fineness of its constitution shows that it is a curious piece of art, the work of his fingers. 3. The use and design of it–to divide the waters from the waters, that is, to distinguish between the waters that are wrapped up in the clouds and those that cover the sea, the waters in the air and those in the earth. See the difference between these two carefully observed, Deu 11:10; Deu 11:11, where Canaan is upon this account preferred to Egypt, that Egypt was moistened and made fruitful with the waters that are under the firmament, but Canaan with waters from above, out of the firmament, even the dew of heaven, which tarrieth not for the sons of men, Mic. v. 7. God has, in the firmament of his power, chambers, store-chambers, whence he watereth the earth,Psa 104:13; Psa 65:9; Psa 65:10. He has also treasures, or magazines, of snow and hail, which he hath reserved against the day of battle and war,Job 38:22; Job 38:23. O what a great God is he who has thus provided for the comfort of all that serve him and the confusion of all that hate him! It is good having him our friend, and bad having him our enemy. 4. The naming of it: He called the firmament heaven. It is the visible heaven, the pavement of the holy city; above the firmament God is said to have his throne (Ezek. i. 26), for he has prepared it in the heavens; the heavens therefore are said to rule, Dan. iv. 26. Is not God in the height of heaven? Job xxii. 12. Yes, he is, and we should be led by the contemplation of the heavens that are in our eye to consider our Father who is in heaven. The height of the heavens should remind us of God’s supremacy and the infinite distance there is between us and him; the brightness of the heavens and their purity should remind us of his glory, and majesty, and perfect holiness; the vastness of the heavens, their encompassing of the earth, and the influence they have upon it, should remind us of his immensity and universal providence.

Fuente: Matthew Henry’s Whole Bible Commentary

Verses 6-8:

“Firmament” is hashamayim, “uplifted waters.” This evidently refers to the atmosphere surrounding Earth, and it shows how the atmosphere was formed. In its chaotic state (verse 2), waters completely covered Earth. On Day Two God separated these waters, moving a portion of them into space above Earth and leaving a portion to cover the surface. Between these masses of water was the “firmament,” the visible heavens in which the clouds form and the birds fly. This sketch illustrates how this could have happened. GRAPHIC HERE IN HARDBOUND COMMENTARY.

The division of. waters and forming of the atmosphere enveloping Earth are the extent of God’s restoration activity on Day Two.

Fuente: Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

6 Let there be a firmament (58) The work of the second day is to provide an empty space around the circumference of the earth, that heaven and earth may not be mixed together. For since the proverb, ‘to mingle heaven and earth,’ denotes the extreme of disorder, this distinction ought to be regarded as of great importance. Moreover, the word רקיע ( rakia) comprehends not only the whole region of the air, but whatever is open above us: as the word heaven is sometimes understood by the Latins. Thus the arrangement, as well of the heavens as of the lower atmosphere, is called רקיע ( rakia) without discrimination between them, but sometimes the word signifies both together sometimes one part only, as will appear more plainly in our progress. I know not why the Greeks have chosen to render the word ςτερέωμα, which the Latins have imitated in the term, firmamentum ; (59) for literally it means expanse. And to this David alludes when he says that ‘the heavens are stretched out by God like a curtain,’ (Psa 104:2.) If any one should inquire whether this vacuity did not previously exist, I answer, however true it may be that all parts of the earth were not overflowed by the waters; yet now, for the first time, a separation was ordained, whereas a confused admixture had previously existed. Moses describes the special use of this expanse, to divide the waters from the waters from which word arises a great difficulty. For it appears opposed to common sense, and quite incredible, that there should be waters above the heaven. Hence some resort to allegory, and philosophize concerning angels; but quite beside the purpose. For, to my mind, this is a certain principle, that nothing is here treated of but the visible form of the world. He who would learn astronomy, (60) and other recondite arts, let him go elsewhere. Here the Spirit of God would teach all men without exception; and therefore what Gregory declares falsely and in vain respecting statues and pictures is truly applicable to the history of the creation, namely, that it is the book of the unlearned. (61) The things, therefore, which he relates, serve as the garniture of that theater which he places before our eyes. Whence I conclude, that the waters here meant are such as the rude and unlearned may perceive. The assertion of some, that they embrace by faith what they have read concerning the waters above the heavens, notwithstanding their ignorance respecting them, is not in accordance with the design of Moses. And truly a longer inquiry into a matter open and manifest is superfluous. We see that the clouds suspended in the air, which threaten to fall upon our heads, yet leave us space to breathe. (62) They who deny that this is effected by the wonderful providence of God, are vainly inflated with the folly of their own minds. We know, indeed that the rain is naturally produced; but the deluge sufficiently shows how speedily we might be overwhelmed by the bursting of the clouds, unless the cataracts of heaven were closed by the hand of God. Nor does David rashly recount this among His miracles, that God layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters, (Psa 104:31😉 and he elsewhere calls upon the celestial waters to praise God, (Psa 148:4.) Since, therefore, God has created the clouds, and assigned them a region above us, it ought not to be forgotten that they are restrained by the power of God, lest, gushing forth with sudden violence, they should swallow us up: and especially since no other barrier is opposed to them than the liquid and yielding, air, which would easily give way unless this word prevailed, ‘Let there be an expanse between the waters.’ Yet Moses has not affixed to the work of this day the note that God saw that it was good: perhaps because there was no advantage from it till the terrestrial waters were gathered into their proper place, which was done on the next day, and therefore it is there twice repeated. (63)

(58) “ Sit extensio.” In the next verse he changes the word to “ expansio ”. “ Fecit expansionem.” — “He made an expanse.”

(59) See the Septuagint and Vulgate, which have both been followed by our English translators. Doubtless Calvin is correct in supposing the true meaning of the Hebrew word to be expanse; but the translators of the Septuagint, the Vulgate, and our own version, were not without reasons for the manner in which they rendered the word. The root, רקע, signifies, according to Gesenius, Lee, Cocceius, etc., to stamp with the foot, to beat or hammer out any malleable substance; and the derivative, רקיע, is the outspreading of the heavens, which, “according to ordinary observation, rests like the half of a hollow sphere over the earth.” To the Hebrews, as Gesenius observes, it presented a crystal or sapphire-like appearance. Hence it was thought to be something firm as well as expanded — a roof of crystal or of sapphire. The reader may also refer to the note of Johannes Clericus, in his commentary on Genesis, who retains the word firmament, and argues at length in vindication of the term. — Ed

(60) Astrologia. This word includes, but is not necessarily confined to that empirical and presumptuous science, (falsely so-called,) which we now generally designate by the term astrology. As the word originally means nothing but the science of the stars, so it was among our own earlier writers applied in the same manner. Consequently, it comprehended the sublime and useful science of astronomy. From the double meaning of the word, Calvin sometimes speaks of it with approbation, and sometimes with censure. But attention to his reasoning will show, that what he commends is astronomy, and what he censures is astrology in the present acceptation of the word. — Ed.

(61) The following are the words of Pope Gregory I: “Idcirco enim pictura in ecclesiis adhibeter, ut hi qui literas nesciunt, saltem in parietibu videndo legant quae legere in codicibus non valent.” Epis. cix. ad Lerenum.

(62) “ Capitibus nostris sic minari, ut spirandi locus nobis relinquant.” The French is more diffuse: “ Nous menacent, comme si elles devoyent tomber sur nos testes; et toutesfois elle nous laissent ici lieu our respirer.” “They threaten us, as if they would fall upon our heads; and, nevertheless, they leave us here space to breathe.”

(63) The Septuagint here inserts the clause, “God saw that it was good;” but, as it is found neither in the Hebrew nor in any other ancient version, it must be abandoned. The Rabbis say that the clause was omitted, because the angels fell on that day; but this is to cut the knot rather than to untie it. There is more probability in the conjecture of Picherellus, who supposes that what follows in the ninth and tenth verses all belonged to the work of the second day, though mentioned after it; and, in the same way, he contends that the formation of the beasts, recorded in the 24 verse, belonged to the fifth day, though mentioned after it. Examples of this kind, of Hysteron proteron, are adduced in confirmation of this interpretation. See Poole’s Synopsis in loco. — Ed.

Fuente: Calvin’s Complete Commentary


Gen. 1:6. Firmament] Or: expanse; prop. something beaten out. expanded.



The word here translated firmament more properly means expanse; it comes from a Hebrew verb meaning to spread out. It is literally Let there be something spread out between the waters Let us review the uses of the atmosphere.

I. It is necessary to the possibility of human life. Had not the waters been divided by the atmosphere, human life could not have existed. There would have been no chamber in the great universe for the occupation of man. The waters would have prevailed. Whereas by the atmosphere the waters below were divided from those above, and space was left for the residence of man. The Lord stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in, Isa. 40:22. Thus in the work of the second day we have abundant evidence that God was preparing the world for the habitation of man. The atmosphere.

1. Gathers up the vapours.

2. Throws them down again in rain, snow, or dew, when needed.

3. Modifies and renders more beautiful the light of the sun.

4. Sustains life.

II. It is necessary for the practical purposes of life. Suppose that by some miraculous intervention human life was rendered possible without the existence of the atmosphere, yet it would be useless and vain, totally incapable of occupation.

1. The atmosphere is necessary for the transmission of sound. If there were no atmosphere, the bell might be tolled, the cannon might be fired, a thousand voices might render the music of the sweetest hymn, but not the faintest sound would be audible. Thus all commercial, educational and social intercourse would be at an end, as men would not be able to hear each other speak. We seldom think of the worth of the atmosphere around us, never seen, seldom felt, but without which the world would be one vast grave.

2. The atmosphere is necessary for many purposes related to the inferior objects of the world. Without it the plants could not live, our gardens would be divested of useful vegetables, and beautiful flowers. Artificial light would be impossible. The lamp of the mines could not be kindled. The candle of the midnight student could never have been lighted. The smoke of the winter fire would not have ascended into the sky. The bird could not have wended its way to heavens gate to utter its morning song, as there would have been no air to sustain its flight.

III. Let us make a practical improvement of the subject.

1. To be thankful for the air we breathe. How often do we recognise the air by which we are surrounded as amongst the chief of our daily blessings, and as the immediate and continued gift of God? How seldom do we utter praise for it. It is unseen; often unheard; hence, almost forgotten. Were it visible or audible it might the more readily and frequently inspire us with gratitude. The gift is daily. It is universal. It should evoke the devotion of the world.

2. To make the best use of the life it preserves. To cultivate a pure life. To speak golden words. To make a true use of all the subordinate ministries of nature.


Gen. 1:6. That the heaven above is understood by the firmament is evident, because God set the sun, moon and stars therein (Gen. 1:14). And that it includes the air also, is evident from the fact that birds are to fly in it (Gen. 1:20).

God gathered the water below into one channel that the earth might be dry and habitable: however in His wisdom and providence he hath so ordered it, that waters issuing out from the seas by secret passages, and breaking out into fountains, and rivers, may thereby make fruitful the valleys and lower parts of the earth; yet we know that they reach not to the higher grounds, much less to the tops of the hills. It was, therefore, needful that some water should be carried on high above the hills; that from thence they might distil in showers upon the higher places of the earth to moisten them, that no part thereof might remain unfruitful [J. White].

The sky according to optical appearance:

1. Carpet (Psa. 104:2).

2. A Curtain (Isa. 40:22).

3. A transparent work of sapphire (Exo. 24:10).

4. A molten looking glass (Job. 37:18).

The water:

1. Once boundless.
2. Once useless.
3. Now fruitful.
4. Now traversed.

The gathering together of the waters

1. Some think that the earth was a plain without hills, that the waters might the more speedily run together; and that the present inequality in the land began after the flood.
2. That the waters were dried up by the fervent heat of the sun.
3. That the earth was dried up by a mighty wind, as after the deluge.
4. That it was done by the direct command of God.

Gods speaking is His making. Word and power go together with Him.

Gen. 1:7. We must acknowledge both the rain and the fruitfulness of the earth as from God.

1. By seeking them at His hand (Jas. 5:17).

2. By returning thanks to Him for them, as blessings of inestimable value, the want of which would ruin the world in one year.

The firmament is a partition between waters and waters.
The firmament doth its duty at Gods command, admirably to preserve creatures, and abides.

Gen. 1:8. God who gives being best gives the name to things. Their natures are well known to Him The second day is Gods creature as the first Work and day should lead us more to know God their Maker.

Day and night continue

1. Because the same power that created continues them.
2. Because God is neither capable of error or inconstancy.
3. Learn to regard the Divine Being as immutable.

I. The speaking.
II. The dividing.
III. The naming.


Heaven! Gen. 1:8. Look above you, and in the over-arching firmament read the truth of an all-pervading Providence. Yon sky, says Gill, is Gods outspread hand, and the glittering stars are the jewels on the fingers of the Almighty. Do you not see that His hand closes round you on all sides? you cannot go where universal love shines not? As Luther remarked: I was at my window, and saw the stars, and the sky, and that vast and glorious firmament in which the Lord has placed them. I could nowhere discover the columns on which the Master has supported His immense vault, and yet the heavens did not fall. I beheld thick clouds hanging above us like a vast sea, and I could perceive neither ground on which they reposed, nor cords by which they were suspended, and yet they did not fall upon us. Why? Because

There is a power,

Unseen, that rules the illimitable world,
That guides its motion from the brightest star
To the least dust of this sin-tainted mould.Thomson.

Mountains! Gen. 1:9. Fancy the mountains brought down to the level of a uniform plane. Conceive no peaks soaring aloft into the regions of perpetual snowno declivities, leading the wanderer in a few hours from Arctic colds to the genial mildness of an Italian sky. Picture no precipitous streams, whose foaming waters as they bound along first reflect the dark pine in their crystal mirror, then the sturdy oak, then the noble chestnut, or the graceful laurel. How monotonous would be the landscape! how uniform the character of organic life over vast tracts of country, where new vegetationthanks to the perpetual changes of elevation and aspect of the soilis seen revelling in endless multiplicity of forms. But what if earth

Be but the shadow of heaven, and things therein,
Each to other like, more than on earth is thought.

Fuente: The Preacher’s Complete Homiletical Commentary Edited by Joseph S. Exell

Day Two: The Atmosphere (Gen. 1:6-8)

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

1. These verses precipitate us into the very core of the problems incidental to the origin of the celestial (astronomical) universe. They mark the end of cosmological reference and point to the beginnings, respectively, of the geological and the biological. As heretofore stated, the content of this section of the text has reference primarily, it seems, to our solar system, as explained from the viewpoint of a terrestrial inhabitant. However, it can be just as readily applied to the various units (galaxies, stellar systems, supernovae, etc.) of the entire cosmos. We shall now examine these verses rather carefully because of the importance of the subject-matter involved.
2. Progressive Revelation. Many eminent authorities have held that the Genesis Cosmogony as a whole is a record of the Creation couched in the language of the commonality and presented from the viewpoint of ordinary human experience and common sense: in a word, in conformity with what is designated the law of accommodation. We find this law exemplified in the instances of poetic imagery and anthropomorphism occurring throughout the Old Testament, and especially the book of Genesis. Because of the limitations of human vocabulary, its inadequacy as a vehicle for the communication of Divine thought, the most God could do for man was to supply him with an anthropomorphic image of Himself (Joh. 1:18), that is, until He could supply the real, and far more adequate image, in the person of His Only Begotten Son (Joh. 14:6-11). Hence, it follows that revelations given to the infancy of the race were necessarily more anthropomorphic, and stated in simpler terms, than those made in subsequent ages as men advanced in their ability to understand the significance of what was being revealed. Gods revelation to men of Himself and His Eternal Purpose was a progressive revelation, and the record of that revelation and its meaning for us was set down, from age to age, by men who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2Pe. 1:21), precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little, etc. (Isa. 28:10; Isa. 28:13; cf. Mar. 4:28). Failure to recognize this aspect of the Divine method leads to absurd distortions of Scripture teaching in the form of half-truths which are often more deceptive than complete error.

3. The Law of Accommodation. This is clearly stated by Marcus Dods (EBG, 45) as follows: Accepting this chapter [the first chapter of Genesis] then as it stands, and believing that only by looking at the Bible as it actually is can we hope to understand Gods method of revealing Himself, we at once perceive that ignorance of some departments of truth does not disqualify a man for knowing and imparting truth about God. In order to be a medium of revelation a man does not need to be in advance of his age in secular learning. Intimate communion with God, a spirit trained to discern spiritual things, a perfect understanding of and zeal for Gods purpose, these are qualities quite independent of a knowledge of the discoveries of science . . . Had the writer of this book (Genesis) mingled with his teaching regarding God an explicit and exact account of how this world came into existencehad he spoken in millions of years instead of speaking of daysin all probability he would have been discredited, and what he had to say about God would have been rejected along with his premature science. But speaking from the point of view of his contemporaries, and accepting the current ideas regarding the formation of the world, he attached to these the views regarding Gods connection with the world which are most necessary to be believed. . . . Here then instead of anything to discompose us or to excite unbelief, we recognize one great law or principle on which God proceeds in making Himself known to man. This has been called the Law of Accommodation. It is the law which requires that the condition and capacity of those to whom the revelation is made must be considered. If you wish to instruct a child, you must speak in language that a child can understand. Strong (ST, 393394) writes that what he calls the pictorial-summary view of the Genesis Cosmogony holds that the account is a rough sketch of the history of creation, true in all its essential features, but presented in graphic form suited to the common mind and to earlier as well as later ages. While conveying to primitive man as accurate an idea of Gods work as man was able to comprehend, the revelation was yet given in pregnant language, so that it could expand to all the ascertained results of subsequent physical research. This general correspondence of the narrative with the teachings of science, and its power to adapt itself to every advance in human knowledge, differences it from every other cosmogony. current among men. There is a world of truth in these statements. What was necessary in the primitive world to save men from groveling in polytheism and idolatry was the knowledge that there is a living and true God; that He is one, not many; that He is just, holy, and good; that He made the world and all that therein is (Act. 17:24-28); that the crowning achievement of His handiwork was the creation of man in His own image, to be lord tenant of earth. All these truths are expressly set forth in Genesis. The scientific account of the Creation has been written by the finger of God upon the crust of the earth and in the natures of living species; the religious account was incorporated by inspiration of the Spirit of God in the graphic panoramic affirmations of the Genesis Cosmogony.

4. The Mythologizing of the Radical Critics. The radical critics have developed fantastic pseudo-Biblical cosmologies by reference to alleged Babylonian mythological source-material. In so doing they have created a cosmological mythology of their own. Perhaps the radical critics point of view is best expressed by Harry Emerson Fosdick (MUB, 4647) as follows: In the Scriptures the flat earth is founded on an underlying sea; it is stationary; the heavens are like an upturned bowl or canopy above it; the circumference of this vault rests on pillars; the sun, moon, and stars move within this firmament of special purpose to illumine man; there is a sea above the sky, the waters which were above the heavens, and through the windows of heaven the rain comes down; within the earth is Sheol, where dwell the shadowy dead; this whole cosmic system is suspended over vacancy; and it was all made in six days with a morning and an evening, a short and measurable time before. This is the world view of the Bible. An examination of the Scriptures cited as the basis on which this cosmic view was formulated shows that they are not necessarily subject to the interpretation put upon them by these critics; that in fact protagonists of this view fail to distinguish between poetic imagery and propositional truth. (The Scriptures cited are the following: Psa. 136:6; Psa. 24:1-2; Gen. 7:11; Job. 37:18; Gen. 1:6-8; Isa. 40:22; Job. 26:11; Psa. 104:3; Gen. 1:7; Psa. 148:4; Isa. 14:9-11; Psa. 93:1; Psa. 104:5; Psa. 104:2; Gen. 1:14-18; Psa. 78:23; Gen. 7:11; Job. 26:7.)

Many authorities, including distinguished Semitio-Scholars have taken these mythologizers to task for imposing on the Bible a stilted, artificial cosmology that is nowhere clearly and systematically taught in Scripture. A striking example of the far-fetched inferences of these critics is found in the alleged association of the Hebrew word tehom, the deep, with the Babylonian Tiamat, the she-dragon of chaos. However, this connection, if it actually existed, simply proves the Hebrew account to have been the original, because the natural object, tehom, surely preceded the mythological personification of it. (Cf. Psa. 136:6; Psa. 24:2.) For a thoroughgoing and conclusive treatment of this important phase of our subject, for which we have not available space here, the student is advised to read Bernard Ramm (CVSS, 96102), who concludes as follows: The best we can do is to (i) indicate the freedom of the Bible from mythological polytheistic or grotesque cosmologies, (ii) note the general hostility of the Bible to cosmologies which are antitheistic, and (iii) clearly present the theocentric view of the Bible towards Nature. (I call attention here to the thesis of the excellent book by Yehezkel Kaufmann, recently published, The Religion of Israel. This distinguished Jewish scholar writes, obviously, with but one end in view, namely, to establish the fact that Hebrew monotheism was definitely not an evolution from surrounding pagan mythologies and traditions, but was in fact a complete revolution against such systems.) The Fosdick interpretation, as quoted above, is a reading into the first few chapters of Genesis a mass of conjecture that simply cannot be validated without unjustifiable distortion of fact.

Similarities between the Babylonian Cosmogony and the Hebrew Narrative of the Creation: (1) Both know of a time when the earth as such did not exist. (2) In Genesis, light dispels darkness, and order follows chaos. In the Babylonian record, Marduk, a sun-god (like the Sanscrit Dyaus pitar, the Greek Zeus patr, the Latin lu piter, meaning father of light) overthrows the she-dragon of darkness, Tiamat. (3) In Genesis, the dry land appears after a time, in obedience to Divine decree. In the Babylonian tablets, Marduk creates the earth out of one part of the corpse of the slain Tiamat. (4) In Genesis, the sun, moon, and stars are set in the heavens, again by the decree of Elohim. In the Babylonian record, Marduk creates them to serve as mansions for the gods. (5) In Genesis, God brings into existence the lower species, again by the operation of His ordinances. In the Babylonian record, the assembly of the gods creates them. (6) In Genesis, God creates mankind. In the Babylonian record, Marduk fashions the first man out of the blood of the slain Kingu who had been Tiamats consort. Finegan (LAP, 53): The sequence of events in the creation also is the same in the two stories, in that the following happenings take place in the same order: the creation of the firmament, the creation of dry land, the creation of the luminaries, and the creation of man. Both accounts begin with the watery chaos and end with the gods or the Lord at rest. (Incidentally, in the Genesis account, there is no reason for assuming that the creation of the celestial luminaries took place on the fourth day, as we shall see later.)

The Contrasts between the Babylonian Cosmogony and the Hebrew Account of Creation. These unlikenesses are tremendous. (1) Genesis reveals God as the Creator of all things. The Babylonian record brings in a number of deities. (2) Genesis pictures an original darkness, abyss, deep, etc. The Babylonian account personifies them, and the earth, the sky, the sea, and the heavenly bodies as well. (3) Genesis reveals a God without a female counterpart; in fact the Hebrews had no word in their language to express the idea of a goddess. The Babylonian records give to almost every great deity a female counterpart: indeed this was a feature of all pagan polytheisms. (4) Genesis is purely spiritual in character. The Babylonian account is shot through with base passions, jealousies, hates, plots, wars, and like evils. (5) Genesis is purely monotheistic, whereas the Babylonian record is grossly polytheistic. The gods of all the ancient polytheisms were anthropomorphic personifications of natural forces (in particular, of the sun-father and the earth-mother). The God of Hebrew and Christian monotheism is pure personality.

Did the writer of Genesis borrow his account from Babylonian sources? Although this view prevails today in certain academic circles, it is, to a great extent, absurd and unwarranted. A comparison of the religious teaching of the two accounts should be sufficient to settle this question in the mind of anyone not blinded by preconceived opinion. Clay (LOTB, 73); Upon the differences of the two stories we need not dwell. The crude polytheistic grotesqueness of the Babylonian, with its doctrine of emanation or evolution from chaos to order, which makes the gods emerge from this chaos, or brings the firmaments out of a carcass, put it altogether in another class; and it is in no respect to be compared with the dignified and sublime conception of the beginning of things, with God as the supreme Creator, who called all things into existence. The theory frequently advanced that the prophets of Israel took these Babylonian traditions and purified them by the subtraction of their grosser elements, for the purpose of making them the vehicle for teaching the impressive truths of Gods personality, unity, and relationship to Israel (H. L. Willett), is, in McGarveys language (BC, 389) about as sensible as to say that the parable of the prodigal son was derived from Peoks Bad Boy, or from Mark Twains Tom Sawyer.

Did the Babylonian account (known as Enuma Elish, from its two opening words, meaning when on high) have its origin from Genesis? This is improbable, but not at all impossible. Or, are the few likenesses between them due to a common Semitic inheritance, each handing on from age to age records concerning the early history of the race? Granting that this hypothesis be acceptable, how are we to account for the fact that the Genesis narrative remained pure, the least uncolored by the extravagances of all these ancient traditions? The history of the Hebrew people began with Abraham. How did Abraham or his immediate successors come into possession of such an idealistic religious account of the Creation? How can we account for the pure conceptions embodied in the Genesis account on any other basis than that of supernatural origin and oversight. Granting that the account was a revelation from an early age, what prevented it from becoming steeped in mythological accretions as did the creation stories of all other ancient peoples?

I am not willing to admit that the Mosaic narrative is an embodiment of traditions, when it has all the earmarks of a special divine revelation. This is true regardless of the time in which it may have originated. Why omit all consideration of the Spirit of God in dealing with this problem? Does not special revelation include special inspiration, and vice versa? Why could not the Holy Spirit have revealed these truths to some ancient patriarch who gave them down through his descendants to Moses? Why could not the Holy Spirit have embodied them in a revelation directly to Moses himself? Orif the critics would insist that it be soto an inspired writer in the ages following Moses? Our claim here is that Divine inspiration is the only basis on which anyone can account for the pure conceptions of the Genesis Cosmogony. These simply cannot be explained away as figments of the human imagination. Orr (ISBE, V, 3107): No stronger proof could be afforded of the truth and sublimity of the Biblical account of the origin of things than is given by the comparison of the narrative of creation in Gen. 1:1 to Gen. 2:4, with the mythological cosmogonies and theogonies found in other religions. Ramm (CVSS, 102): It is typical of radical critics to play up the similarity of anything Biblical with the Babylonian, and to omit the profound differences or gloss over them. When the Biblical account is set side by side with any other cosmology its purity, its chasteness, its uniqueness, its theocentricity are immediately apparent. Again (ibid., 102, n.43): Conservative Christianity explains Babylonian and Biblical parallels by the theory of cognateness (not of dependence, nor of purification.

5. The Firmament. The Waters under the Firmament, and the Waters above the Firmament. (1) The word rakia, translated firmament, means literally, stretched out, hence expanse, and by necessary inference, alludes to the atmosphere. Obviously, this is the space above the earth, in general what we call the sky, the habitat of the winds and clouds, and the space in which the celestial bodies of our solar system move in their courses. Hence, Gen. 1:5 God called the firmament Heaven. Not the heavens of the entire cosmos, referred to in Gen. 1:1, but the celestial heaven which is in close proximity to the earth, the heaven of the earth-world (Delitzsch). (2) Does this passage refer to a separation of the heavenly waters, described as held back by a solid arched firmament to which the heavenly bodies were attached, from the watery abyss below, on which the flat earth was supposed to restthe customary explanation built on the theory of a borrowing from Babylonian cosmology? Not necessarily. It has been stated above that the customarily accepted theory of an adaptation of Babylonian source material to the Hebrew account, is built on the failure of, the critics to recognize the poetic imagery of the Hebrew Scriptures and to differentiate this imagery from astronomical fact.

(3) We accept the interpretation here that is presented by Arnold Guyot, in his excellent little book, Creation; though published as far back as 1884, like many other works of earlier vintage, it gives us a far more sensible understanding of the Genesis Cosmogony than those appearing on the market since the turn of the century, a period in which textual criticism in all areas has been characterized by sheer conjectural extravagances. The word translated waters, Guyot tells us, being the best afforded by the Hebrew language to express the idea of fluidity (nebulousness), is used here to designate the primordial cosmic material, the amorphous world-stuff, the molten mass (now heated to intense degrees by the energizing of Divine Power) of the undifferentiated sun, planets, satellites, etc., of our solar system. (Psalms 148 seems to have this same meaning, where we read of the waters that are above the heavens (Gen. 1:4)waters which are distinguished from the deeps below (Gen. 1:7) and the vapor above (Gen. 1:8). Hence, the separation of the earth from the parent mass, and the development of it into an independent sphere, answers, according to Guyot, to the dividing of the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. That is to say, the waters which were under the firmament (the detached earth in its most primitive state as such) became divided from the waters which were above the firmament (the parent molten mass, which apparently became a sun) by the intervening expanse. Moreover, after having become detached from the parent mass, naturally the earth began to cool at its surface, as it whirled through space; and as this process of cooling continued, the gases were thrown off which formed the atmosphere. And no doubt the entire earth-mass became enshrouded in dense vapors at this stage, these vapors thus obscuring for a time the light of the parent sun from which the planet had been detached. Guyot writes (Cr, 6667): One fact admitted by all is the work of separation, of individualization, which must have preceded the present combination of the heavenly bodies, and this is indicated as the special work of the second cosmogonic day . . . thus we follow the gradual concentration from a gaseous state to a compact and well-defined body . . . We see how a family of planets has been detached from a vast central body which holds them in bondage in their orbits by the power of its mass. That is to say, the entire process by which the earth was detached and developed as a separate planet could well have been duplicated in the detachment and separate development of all the celestial bodies from their respective central suns. This all occurred on Day Two. Thus under the impulsion of the brooding of the Spirit of God, the cosmos began to march into being. And so there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

(4) Note the remarkable correspondence between the foregoing interpretation of Gen. 1:6-8 and current scientific hypotheses of the origin of our solar system. In general, these are two, namely, the monoparental and the biparental hypotheses. According to the former, as envisioned especially in the nebular hypothesis of Laplace (17491827), the huge primordial mass of nebulous matter, revolving in space with sufficient velocity and gradually condensing from an intensely high degree of heat, may have eventually, by throwing off successive rings of nebulae, set the stage for the development of all the celestial bodies, moving in their respective orbits, which make up our planetary system. The biparental hypothesis, on the other hand, first suggested by the French naturalist Buffon (17071788), pictures the formation of our planetary system as the result of a violent collision between the sun (which in more recent terms is thought of as having become a nova or supernova in the far distant past) and some other celestial body, which he called a comet, by which he apparently meant, however, another star of comparable size. Although some of the fragments caused by this collision must have been lost forever in interstellar space, others, Buffon thought, held in check by the gravitational pull of the central mass (sun), were forced to continue revolving around it in the form of separate planets. This biparental hypothesis has been modified in recent years by the Chamberlin-Moulton theory in which the notion of direct physical collision has been abandoned for the tidal wave theory, namely, that the planets were first formed when a giant tidal wave of nebulous matter was raised on the surface of the sun by the gravitational attraction of an intruding star which passed by the sun at a distance of several solar diameters. This tidal wave theory has been further elaborated by Sir James Jeans. The theory has also been implemented by the planetesimal hypothesis, that these separate planetary masses subsequently grew by accretion of smaller compact masses of nebulae (each surrounding a nucleus) called planetesimals. This tidal action hypothesis has been chosen, instead of that of direct collision, we are told, on the ground that the close passing of two great stars is much more probable than a direct collision. However, it is interesting to note that the British geophysicist, Jeffreys, has suggested recently that the hypothetical stellar encounter must have been much closer than was assumed in the tidal theory, that in fact the passing star must literally have brushed the surface of the sun, in order to tear away masses of solar matter. If this view should be the right one, we are back to the original form of Buffons hypothesis. Note the following pertinent comments from Gamow (BE, 29): We must conclude that the solid crust of the Earth must have been formed from previously molten material about two million years ago. Thus we can picture the Earth two billion years ago as a completely molten spheroid, surrounded by a thick atmosphere of air, water-vapors, and probably other volatile substances. The Genesis Cosmogony thus speaks for itself in the many features in which it is in harmony with current scientific thinking about the origin of our planetary system.

Fuente: College Press Bible Study Textbook Series

(6) A firmament.This is the Latin translation of the Greek word used by the translators of the Septuagint Version. Undoubtedly it means something solid; and such was the idea of the Greeks, and probably also of the Hebrews. As such it appears in the poetry of the Bible, where it is described as a mighty vault of molten glass (Job. 37:18), upheld by the mountains as pillars (Job. 26:11; 2Sa. 22:8), and having doors and lattices through which the Deity pours forth abundance (Gen. 7:11; Psa. 78:23). Even in this Hymn of Creation we have poetry, but not expressed in vivid metaphors, but in sober and thoughtful language. Here, therefore, the word rendered firmament means an expanse. If, as geologists tell us, the earth at this stage was an incandescent mass, this expanse would be the ring of equilibrium, where the heat supplied from below was exactly equal to that given off by radiation into the cold ether above. And gradually this would sink lower and lower, until finally it reached the surface of the earth; and at this point the work of the second day would be complete.

Fuente: Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)


6. Let there be a firmament Hebrews, ; Sept . , ; Vulg . , firmamentum . The Hebrew word properly means something spread out; mar gin, expansion . It means the expanse, the open space above the surface of the land through which an observer looks away to what appears a vast concave surface above him . This open sky is metaphorically called the “firmament;” but we are not to suppose that the ancients, any more than the moderns, believed in a solid metallic firmament . The poetical language of Job 37:18; Isa 40:22; Psa 78:23, etc . , no more implies such a belief than similar metaphors in the poetry of the present day.

In the midst of the waters Between the waters below and the waters above, as is immediately explained.

Let it divide Let it serve as a divider of the waters below, (namely, the deep,) and the waters that float in cloudy masses above the face of the deep. Psa 148:4.

Fuente: Whedon’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

‘And God said “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’

Up to this time there has been no atmosphere, for creation is seen as being one blanket of ‘primeval water’. All is ‘liquid’; all is primeval, unshaped, formless matter, but now given body by ‘light’. And now God acts to produce an atmosphere with ‘water’ below and clouds above.

The word for ‘expanse’ or ‘firmament’ is raqia which originally indicated ‘something trodden on and stamped out’, and then ‘to make thin like a piece of metal beaten into shape’, and thus ‘to spread out, to expand’.

The ancients saw the water come down through the atmosphere from the heavens, but we know from later descriptions that they recognised that this came from the clouds (e.g. Deu 11:11; Jdg 5:4; 2Sa 22:12 ; 1Ki 18:45; Job 36:27). And people then as now had climbed mountains and found themselves above the clouds and above the rain (we must stop thinking of them as stupid).

Thus the writer is not suggesting that there is a physical cupola somehow holding up the water. He is using a vivid metaphorical description to describe a reality, water held above by something ‘stretched out’ by God, and water below. He does not pretend to understand the mechanics of it, he does not try to explain it. He simply describes what he sees. He just knows that God has made some way of holding the water up. He sees that it is so, and He knows that it is so at the behest of God.

The Bible writers give many descriptions of this ‘firmament’. It is described in terms of being like a transparent work of sapphire stone (Exo 24:10), in terms of a molten mirror (Job 37:18), in terms of the curtains of a tent (Isa 40:22; Isa 54:2), but all were vividly descriptive, not an attempt to explain the universe.

We must not over-literalise the descriptions of poetic minds and make them hold views that they did not hold, however simple minded we make them to be. They saw things as an artist sees them, not a scientist. Their very ‘simplicity’ and practicality of mind prevented them from trying to formulate scientific theories, but that did not prevent their ideas from being profound. This writer was not investigating world phenomena, he was taken up with what God was doing. He was not analysing ‘how’, he was asking ‘Who?’ and ‘Why?’, profounder questions far. The how he left to God.

Fuente: Commentary Series on the Bible by Peter Pett

The Second Day of Creation Gen 1:6-8 gives us the account of the second day of Creation. We read how God separated the waters into two bodies; the lower body consisted of liquid and solid, while the upper body consisted of vapor. He called space between these two gathering of elements by the name “heaven.”

The Creation Story in the Book of Jubilees – The Book of Jubilees (2.4) tells us that the division of the firmament divided waters above from below. It says that half of the waters ascended above the firmament and half of the waters descended below upon the face of the earth. We could say that as the light penetrated this earth, it created energy and heat. This began to separate the vapor from the liquid water. The water vapor rose into the atmosphere and formed a dense mass of cloud cover over the earth while the remaining liquids and solids formed below. Between these two bodies that formed is the air that we breathe, which the Scriptures call the firmament. The liquids mixed with the solid below this firmament would explain why God needed to divide the liquid water from the dry land on the third day of creation.

Gen 1:6  And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

Gen 1:6 Word Study on “firmament” The BDB says that the Hebrew word “firmament” ( ) (H7549) means, “extended surface (solid), expanse, firmament, or an expanse (flat as base, support), firmament (of vault of heaven supporting waters above).” Strong says it comes from the primitive root word ( ) (H7554), which means, “to pound the earth (as a sign of passion), to expand, to overlay.” We could say that a firmament was a vast expanse of area between the clouds and the sea. Today, we would call it the sky.

Comments – Gen 1:6 tells us that there was a layer of water above the firmament, or sky, and a layer of water below the sky, which was called the seas in Gen 1:10. Therefore, this fits with the picture of many scholars and creationists that believe that the entire earth was like a giant greenhouse, with the cloud covering blocking out ultraviolet rays from the sun.

The original earth must have looked something like the planet Jupiter in that it was a large mass of outer gases with increased density as one moved towards the interior of the planet. At some point, these gases would become liquid and finally form solid mass due to density. On the second day, God’s destiny for the earth was to make a separation between the gases and the liquids so that He would have a realm in which life could exist. This space created between the clouds and the open seas is now called the sky, or the atmosphere next to the earth. It is this atmosphere that most of life on earth lives in.

Gen 1:7  And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

Gen 1:8  And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

Gen 1:8   “And the evening and the morning were the second day” – Comments God ends the second day having fulfilled His purposes and plan for that day. God is at work in each of our lives, helping us fulfill daily plans. In other words, we are given a daily destiny to fulfill, upon which we should focus, so that we do not become anxious about tomorrow (Mat 6:34).

Mat 6:34, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Fuente: Everett’s Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

The Creation of the Firmament

v. 6. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. God’s almighty word continued to create on the second day. He caused a firm extension, or expansion, to be fixed in the midst of the waters, in the chaos where liquid and vapor were intermingled with the more solid substances. The purpose of this firmament was to keep separate the waters from the waters, as the text next explains.

v. 7. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so. Although there is no concrete, visible vault of the sky, yet there is an invisible dividing-wall above the earth, which under ordinary conditions holds back the masses of water in gaseous form which are high above the visible clouds. Cf Gen 7:11.

v. 8. and God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. God Himself applied the name heaven, or heavens, to the invisible dividing-wall which separates the waters below from the waters above. Thus the work of the second day was accomplished.

Fuente: The Popular Commentary on the Bible by Kretzmann


Gen 1:6

Day two. The work of this day consisted in the formation of that immense gaseous ocean, called the atmosphere, by which the earth is encircled. And God said, Let there be a firmament (rakiya, an expand, from rakah, to beat out; LXX; ; Vulgate, firmamentum) in the midst of the waters. To affirm with Knobel, Gesenius, and others that the Hebrews supposed the atmospheric heavens to be a metallic substance (Exo 24:10), a vault fixed on the water-flood which surrounds the earth (Pro 8:27), firm as a molten looking-glass (Job 37:18), borne by the highest mountains, which are therefore called the pillars and foundations of heaven (2Sa 22:8), and having doors and windows (Gen 7:11; Gen 28:17; Psa 78:23), is to confound poetical metaphor with literal prose, optical and phenomenal language with strict scientific statement. The Vulgate and English translations of rakiya may convey the idea of solidity, though it is doubtful if (LXX.) does not signify that which makes firm as well as that which is made firm (McCaul, Wordsworth, W. Lewis), thus referring to the well-known scientific fact that the atmosphere by its weight upon the waters of the sea keeps them down, and by its pressure against our bodies keeps them up; but it is certain that not solidity, but expansiveness, is the idea represented by rakiya (cf. Scottish, tax, to stretch; Job 37:18; Psa 104:2; Isa 40:22).

“The firmament, expanse of liquid, pure,
Transparent, elemental air, diffused
In circuit to the uttermost convex Of this great round.”

(Milton, ‘Par. Lost,’ Bk. 7.)

And let it divide the waters from the waters. What these waters were, which were designed to be parted by the atmospheric firmament, is explained in the verse which follows.

Gen 1:7

And God made the firmament. How the present atmosphere was evolved from the chaotic mass of waters the Mosaic narrative does not reveal. The primary intention of that record being not to teach science, but to discover religious truth, the thing of paramount importance to be communicated was that the firmament was of God’s construction. This, of course, does not prevent us from believing that the elimination of those gases (twenty-one parts of oxygen and seventy-nine of nitrogen, with a small proportion of carbonic acid gas and aqueous vapor) which compose our atmosphere was not effected by natural means; and how far it may have been assisted by the action of the light upon the condensing mass of the globe is a problem in the solution of which science may legitimately take an interest. And divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. The upper waters are not the material of the stars (Delitzsch, Wordsworth), although Jupiter is of the same density as water, and Saturn only half its density; but the waters floating about in the higher spaces of the air. The under waters are not the lower atmospheric vapors, but the oceanic and terrestrial waters. How the waters are collected in the upper reaches of the atmosphere, Scripture, no less than science, explains to be by means of evaporation (Gen 2:6; Job 36:27; Job 37:16). These latter passages suggest that the clouds are balanced, suspended, upheld by the buoyancy of the air in exact accordance with scientific principles. And it was so. Six times these words occur in the creation record. Sublimely suggestive of the resistless energy of the Divine word, which speaks, and it is done, commands, and it standeth fast, they likewise remind us of the sweet submissiveness of the creature to the all-wise Creator’s will, and, perhaps, are designed as well to intimate the fixed and permanent character of those arrangements to which they are attached.

Gen 1:8

And God called the firmament heaven. Literally, the heights, shamayim, as in Gen 1:1. “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 Gen 1:5, 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 ” ” 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 verse 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 verse 10).


Gen 1:7

The atmospheric firmament.


1. From God it received its being (Gen 1:7). Not here alone, but in other parts, Scripture declares the firmament to be the Divine handiwork (Psa 19:1; Psa 104:2). Whence we may note

(1) That not it, the creature, should receive our worship, but he, its Maker, who is God over all, blessed forever.

(2) That since the firmament was made by God, it must belong to him. If at the present moment it is the special abode of the prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:2), it must be a usurped dominion. The air with all its beams and showers, quite as much as the earth with all its trees and flowers, is God’s property (Gen 14:22; Psa 24:1, &c.).

(3) That in all its movements it only carries out the will of its Creator. The air does nothing of itself. Under the reign of law as all created things are, the law that reigns is itself beneath the rule of God. The Hebrew mind never mistook things for persons, or creatures for the Creator (Psa 148:8); it is only modern science that degrades the Creator from his throne, and puts the creature in his seat.

2. From God it received its function (Gen 1:6),to divide between the upper and the lower waters,which was

(1) Simple, i.e. in the sense of not being complex. Though its uses are manifold, they are all contained in this, that it floats up and sustains the vapors rising from the earth at a sufficient distance from the terrestrial waters.

(2) Necessary. Without a clear body of atmospheric air between the waters, human life could not have existed. And equally without the watery clouds swimming in the atmosphere, both vegetable and animal life would perish. “Were the air absolutely dry, it would cause the water in plants to evaporate from their leaves more rapidly than it could be supplied to them by the soil and the roots. Thus they would speedily become flaccid, and the whole plant would droop, wither, and die.” Similarly, “were the air which man draws into his lungs entirely free from watery fluid, he would soon breathe out the fluids which fill up his tissues, and would dry up into a withered and ghastly mummy”.

(3) Beneficent. Collecting the vapors of the earth in the form of clouds, it is thus enabled to throw-them down again in the shape of rain, snow, or dew, according as it is required.

3. From God it received its name.

(1) Suitable. “Heights,” significant of the reality.

(2) Suggestive. The love, the power, the majesty of God, his thoughts, his ways, his purposes when compared with man’s, are set forth to us by the height of the heaven above the earth.”


1. Indispensable. Without the air, man could not live. His physical being would perish without its oxygen. Without its pressure his bodily structure would fall to pieces.

2. Valuable. The uses of the atmosphere to man as a resident on earth are manifold. It supports animal and vegetable life around him. It conveys, refracts, and decomposes light. It transmits sound. It draws up noxious vapors from the soil, and disperses them by its winds. It assists him in a variety of his mechanical, chemical, commercial, and scientific enterprises.

3. Willing. Great as are its powers of service and its capacities of rebellion when excited with tempest, for the most part it is meek and docile, ever ready to acknowledge man as its master, and to execute his slightest wish.

4. Unwearied. Eve, since it received its appointment from God to minister to the happiness of man is has unrestingly performed that task, and betrays no more signs of weariness to-day than it did at the first.

5. Gratuitous. It gives its services, as its great Creator gives his blessings, without money and without price.

Let us learn

1. To be thankful for the air we breathe.

2. To admire God’s wisdom in the wonderful adjustments of the air.

3. To make the best use we can of that life which the air supports and subserves.

Fuente: The Complete Pulpit Commentary

Gen 1:6. Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters After having given an account of the generation of light, the sacred writer goes on to inform us of the generation of the air, or of that expansive element which fills the space between the earth and the highest regions, and which goes under the general name of the heavens. This air, in its first created state, was intermixed with the other elements in the chaotic mass; upon which a motion having been impressed by the divine energy, and the light having emerged, the Almighty next directs the air, according to its nature, to operate amidst the waters; and by its expansive and compressing power, to carry some of these waters aloft with it, and to keep the rest in their due station below on the earth. This I take to be the meaning of the present verse; to which not only the words, but the nature of things, correspond. For rekiang (), as our translators observe in the margin, (though, after the Vulgate and LXX, they have rendered it firmament,) signifies expansion; or rather the air or heaven in a state of expansion; for expansion necessarily implies an agent to expand, and here an agent is expressed, which was to divide or separate the waters; which agent is called, Gen 1:8 heaven. As the light, which makes the day, is called day; and the darkness, night: so, that which makes the heaven, i.e.. the air, is called heaven. Those who understand the properties of the air, which is peculiarly elastic, and therefore expansive and compressing, will see the great propriety of the original, rechio, which is derived from the verb recho, to stretch forth, extend, distend, expand every way. And nothing but our being accustomed immediately to annex the idea of the regions of supernal bliss to the word heaven, when we hear or read it, could make it appear strange to us, that this agent is called heaven or heavens; since the whole space we see, and commonly call heaven, is nothing more than the air. How far this air or heaven may rise and extend, I cannot determine. But it seems to me most probable (and I have Sir Isaac Newton’s authority, or at least supposition on my side) that the whole planetary space is filled with a fine and subtle ether; which, it is probable, grows finer and finer as it approaches the central fire, the sun, and becomes grosser, and grosser the nearer it approaches the center of our planet. By the firmament, therefore, I would understand all that immense space which every way surrounds our earth, and extends to the limits of our system, and which I conceive to be filled with ether, denser or finer, in proportion to its proximity to, or distance from, the sun.

Fuente: Commentary on the Holy Bible by Thomas Coke

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

And God said, Let us pause over this verse; and in confirmation that the creation of man is the result of the Sacred Three, see Ecc 12:1 where the word Creator, (Heb. Creator’s), being in the plural number, means Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: so again, Job 35:10 where the word Maker, is Makers; see also Isa 54:5 ; Col 1:16 ; Eph 4:24 .

Fuente: Hawker’s Poor Man’s Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Gen 1:6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

Ver. 6. Let there be a firmament. ] Yet not so firm, but it shall be dissolved. 2Pe 3:11 That it is not presently so; that those windows of heaven are not opened, as once in the deluge, having no better a bar than the liquid air, and we suddenly buried in one universal grave of waters; see a miracle of God’s mercy, and thank him for this powerful word of his, “Let there be a firmament.” Bartholinus a tells us, that in the year of Christ 1551, a very great multitude of men and cattle were drowned by a terrible tempest, the clouds suddenly dissolving, and the waters pouring down amain with such a strange stupendous violence, that the massy walls of many cities, various vineyards, and fair houses were utterly destroyed and ruined. Clouds, those bottles of rain, are vessels as thin as the liquor which is contained in them. There they hang and move, though weighty with their burdens. How they are upheld, saith a reverend divine, b and why they fall here and now, we know not, and wonder. Job 26:8 They water our lands, as we do our gardens, and are therefore called our heavens. Deu 33:28

a Barthol. l. 2. De Meteoris

b D. H. Contemp.

Fuente: John Trapp’s Complete Commentary (Old and New Testaments)


6Then God said, Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters. 7God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. 8God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

Gen 1:6 This verse has two Qal JUSSIVES (Let…) From the verb be (BDB 224, KB 243). The same construction is in Gen 1:14 and Gen 1:22.


JPSOAan expanse




This term (BDB 956, KB 1290) could mean to hammer out or to stretch out as in Isa 42:5. This refers to the earth’s atmosphere (cf. Gen 1:20) depicted metaphorically as an air vault or inverted bowl above the surface of the earth (cf. Isa 40:22).

waters Fresh water and salt water are important elements in extra-biblical creation accounts, but in the Bible they are controlled by God. There is no distinction in Genesis 1 made between salt water and fresh water. The water in the atmosphere is divided from the water on the earth. Analysis of Genesis 1 shows that God separates several things as a process to an inhabited earth (light from dark, water above from water below, water below from dry land, sun time from moon time).

Gen 1:7 separated the waters God is in control of watery chaos (BDB 95, KB 110, Hiphil PARTICIPLE). He sets their boundaries (cf. Job 38:8-11; Psa 33:6-7; Isa 40:12).

and it was so Whatever God willed occurred and occurs (cf. Gen 1:9; Gen 1:11; Gen 1:15; Gen 1:24; Gen 1:30).

Fuente: You Can Understand the Bible: Study Guide Commentary Series by Bob Utley

firmament = expanse. Something spread out.

Fuente: Companion Bible Notes, Appendices and Graphics

Sky, Earth, Seasons

Gen 1:6-19

There were successive stages in creation. The days probably represent long periods. It is so with the new creation in our hearts. See 2Co 5:17. In nature the clouds that float above us are separated from the waters at our feet so in Christian experience we must seek to quench our thirst not only from below, but from above. See Col 3:1-4. Our wells must be filled from Heaven. Notice how in creation there are repeated separations, as between Day and Night, Seas and Lands; so as we live in the Spirit, we are quicker to distinguish not only between white and black, but the different shades of gray. The test of plant-life is the power of reproducing their kind; we are always reproducing ourselves in others, and sowing wheat or poppies. If God maintains suns and planets in bright and ordered beauty, He can keep us, Isa 40:26-27.

Fuente: F.B. Meyer’s Through the Bible Commentary

firmament Lit. expanse (i.e. of waters beneath, of vapour above).

Fuente: Scofield Reference Bible Notes

Let there: Gen 1:14, Gen 1:20, Gen 7:11, Gen 7:12, Job 26:7, Job 26:8, Job 26:13, Job 37:11, Job 37:18, Job 38:22-26, Psa 19:1, Psa 33:6, Psa 33:9, Psa 104:2, Psa 136:5, Psa 136:6, Psa 148:4, Psa 150:1, Ecc 11:3, Jer 10:10, Jer 10:12, Jer 10:13, Jer 51:15, Zec 12:1

firmament: Heb. expansion

Reciprocal: Job 9:8 – Which Psa 148:5 – for he 2Pe 3:5 – by the word Rev 14:6 – in

Fuente: The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Gen 1:6. Let there be a firmament This term, which is an exact translation of the word used by the Septuagint, or Greek translation of the Old Testament, by no means expresses the sense of the word used by Moses, , rakiang, which merely means extension or expansion. And as this extension or expansion was to be in the midst of the waters, and was to divide the waters from the waters, it chiefly, if not solely, means the air or atmosphere which separates the water in the clouds from that which is in and upon the earth. Thus the second great production of the Almighty was the element which is next in simplicity, purity, activity, and power, to the light, and no doubt was also used by him as an agent in producing some subsequent effects, especially in gathering the waters into one place. It is true, we afterward read of the sun, moon, and stars being set in the firmament of heaven: but the meaning seems only to be that they are so placed as only to be visible to us through the atmosphere.

Fuente: Joseph Bensons Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Gen 1:6-8. When, on the second morning, light resumes the sway which had been interrupted by the night, God begins the task of evolving order out of chaos. First He makes a firmament, by which is meant a solid vault over-arching the earth. Then the waters of the abyss are divided into two portions, one of which is placed above this firmament, to constitute the waters of the upper or heavenly ocean, the other left where it was, to form the deep that coucheth beneath (Gen 49:25). This, it must be understood, is not identical with the ocean, though the ocean issued from it (Job 38:8-11); it is beneath both sea and land. It feeds the sea through openings in the bed of the ocean, the springs of the sea (Job 38:16*) or the fountains of the great deep (Gen 7:11). In the vault of the sky there are windows (Gen 7:11) or sluices (the channel for the waterflood, Job 38:25 *); when these are opened the waters of the heavenly ocean stream down on the earth in the form of torrential rain. The representation of the division of the waters of the abyss probably goes back to the Babylonian account of the division of the corpse of Tiamat by Marduk after that deity had vanquished her. We are told that he split her in two like a flat fish, and made one half a covering for the heaven; then he fixed a bar and set a watchman, bidding them not let her waters escape. The other half of the corpse is said by Berossus (third century B.C.) to have been made into the earth; and we can hardly doubt that, though this is not explicitly stated in our cuneiform sources, it correctly represents the authentic Babylonian view. The formula and it was so has been accidentally transferred from its proper place at the end of Genesis 6, where the LXX reads it, to the end of Genesis 7. The omission of the clause and God saw that it was good may be accidental, the LXX reads it after heaven.

Fuente: Peake’s Commentary on the Bible

The second day 1:6-8

Fuente: Expository Notes of Dr. Constable (Old and New Testaments)

The "expanse" refers to the heavenly vault above the earth. Moses called it the "firmament" (AV) or "sky" (NIV). God placed the sun, moon, and stars in it (Gen 1:16-17). The ancients grouped the stars and planets together referring to the former as fixed stars and the latter as wandering stars (cf. Jud 1:13).

Fuente: Expository Notes of Dr. Constable (Old and New Testaments)