What is the “firmament” in Genesis 1:6?

Hebrew: רקיע


Brown-Driver-Briggs Definition:

1) extended surface (solid), expanse, firmament

1a) (flat) expanse (as if of ice, compare הַקֶּרַח כְּעֵין), as base, support (WklAltor. Forsch. iv. 347) Eze_1:22-23, Eze_1:25(gloss ? compare Co Toy), Eze_1:26 (supporting ׳י’s throne). Hence (CoEze_1:22)

1b) the vault of heaven, or ‘firmament,’ regarded by Hebrews as solid, and supporting ‘waters’ above it, Gen_1:6-7, (3 t. in verse); Gen_1:8 (called שָׁמַיַם; all P), Psa_19:2 (|| הַשָּׁמַיַם), הָר ׳זֹהַר Dan_12:3; also הַשָּׁמִיִם ׳ר Gen_1:14-15, Gen_1:17, ר ׳עַלמְּֿנֵי ׳הַשּׁ Gen_1:20 (all P). **עֻזּוֺ רְקִיעַ Psa_150:1 (suffix reference to ׳י).

1b1) considered by Hebrews as solid and supporting ‘waters’ above

Part of Speech: noun masculine

A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H7554

Greek: στερέωμα   A “calque” from Hebrew; not a loan word, but a loan translation.

In linguistics, a calque (/kælk/) or loan translation is a word or phrase borrowed from another language by literal word-for-word or root-for-root translation. When used as a verb, “to calque” means to borrow a word or phrase from another language while translating its components, so as to create a new lexeme in the target language. For instance, the English word “skyscraper” led to calques in dozens of other languages.


[in LXX: Gen_1:6 ff., Psa_19:1; Psa_150:1, Eze_1:22-26; Eze_10:1; Eze_13:5, Da LXX, TH Da 3:56, Dan_12:3 (H7549), Deu_33:26 (H7834), Psa_18:2; Psa_71:3 (H5553), Es 9:29, 1Es_8:78 (82), Sir_43:1; Sir_43:8, 1Ma_9:14 *;]

a solid body;

(a) a support, foundation (Arist., al.); metaph., strength (Psa_17:1-15; Psa_70:1-5, 1Mac, ll. c.); steadfastness, firmness: τ. πίστεως, Col_2:5;

(b) the dome of heaven (believed to be a solid canopy), the firmament (LXX).†


solid body, Hp. Flat. 8, Anaxag. ap. Placit. 2.25.9. ἄϋλα ς . immaterial solids, Dam. Pr. 425, cf. 205 .

2. foundation or framework, e.g. the skeleton, on which the body is, as it were, built, Arist. PA 655a22; στερεώματος ἕνεκα τοῦ περιτρήτου to strengthen it, Hero Bel. 95.8: metaph., solid part, strength of an army, LXX 1Ma_9:14; also, ratification, ἐπιστολῆς ib. Esa_9:29; steadfastness, τῆς πίστεως Ep.Col_2:5 .

3. = στεῖρα (of a ship), Thphr. HP 5.7.3 .

4. firmament, i.e. the sky, the heaven above, LXX Gen_1:6, Eze_1:22, al.; τὸν τῶν οὐρανίων ς. δεσπότην Tab.Defix.Aud. 242.8 (Carthage, iii A.D. ).

The NET Bible footnote:

An expanse. In the poetic texts the writers envision, among other things, something rather strong and shiny, no doubt influencing the traditional translation “firmament” (cf. NRSV “dome”). Job 37:18 refers to the skies poured out like a molten mirror. Dan 12:3 and Ezek 1:22 portray it as shiny. The sky or atmosphere may have seemed like a glass dome. For a detailed study of the Hebrew conception of the heavens and sky, see L. I. J. Stadelmann, The Hebrew Conception of the World, 37-60.

Acts chapter 26 verse 4

There is a textual variant in the Greek manuscripts of The Acts of the Apostles chapter 26 verse 4, that affects the accuracy of the translations made from them. The variant is the presence or absence of the word τε, which means “and” or “also.” The NA28 and Tyndale House Greek New Testaments contain the word τε, while the Textus Receptus and the Byzantine Majority Text do not contain it.

Here is how the English text reads in some translations with the word τε in their source text:
NIV: The Jewish people all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem.
DRP: My manner of life since youth therefore, which took place at first in my own country and also in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews.

The problem with the text without τε, is that the translations made from it make it sound like the apostle Paul lived his whole life in Jerusalem, when in fact he was from Tarsus in Cilicia before he lived in Jerusalem.

KJV: My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;
NKJV: My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know.
EMTV: Therefore my way of life from my youth, which from the beginning was spent among my own nation in Jerusalem, all the Jews know,

Here is the list of the readings of the manuscripts:
 txt εν τε 𝔓⁷⁴ ℵ A B E 181 1175 2464 syr-h-ms SBL TH NA29 {\} εν C H L P Ψ 049 056 33 1611 1739 1891 Byz vg syr-h-ms Chrys TR RP lac 𝔓²⁹ 𝔓¹¹² 048 096.

GA 059 Uncial New Testament

Variant Mark 15 verse 34

Here is an other Greek textual variant not found in apparatuses, because it is not terribly important, but it is a difference between the texts nevertheless. In Mark 15:34 in my text, the Nestle-Aland 28th Edition, it says “at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, Eloi, Eloi, why have you forsaken me?” But in the Textus Receptus from which the King James Version was translated, and in the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine textform, which many call “the majority text,” it says “at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, why have you forsaken me?”

The difference is the presence or absence of the word λεγων, which means “saying.” The readings of the earliest manuscripts are shown below. The Society for Biblical Literature (SBL) edtion, the Tyndale House edition (TH) and the Nestle-Aland 28th edition (NA28), do not have the word λεγων after the word μεγαλη, “great, loud,” while the Textus Receptus and the Robinson-Pierpont editions do have λεγων.

15:34a txt μεγαλη ℵ B D L 059 083 it-ff²,k,u cop SBL TH NA28 {\} μεγαλη λεγων A C E N P Σ 0233 it-l vg syr arm Eus TR RP lac W 0184. 

I list the witnesses 8th century or earlier only. The manuscript we are going to look at today is Gregory-Aland number 059, or GA 059, which is a 5th century Uncial or Majuscule, that is, it is in all capital letters, prior to the cursive style used later. In the attached image of 059, in the middle of the 2nd line, the word ΦωΝΗ (voice) is clearly seen, then MEGALH (loud) faintly, and after that there is clearly not enough room for the word ΛΕΓωΝ at the end of the third line, before the fourth line begins with HλEI HλEI. (My God, my God.)

The footnote apparatus in the NA28 does list the readings of various manuscripts that read Eloi versus Elei. ELOI would represent the Hebrew for “my god,” while ELEI as in this manuscript would represent the Aramaic for “my god.”

The image of 059 for this verse can be found at the Austrian National Library, and here is the link: http://digital.onb.ac.at/RepViewer/viewer.faces?doc=DTL_183233&order=1&view=SINGLE.

Manuscript GA 059, Mark 15:34

Mark 15 verse 30 variant

As I am making a Robinson-Pierpont edition of Mark’s gospel, I am adding many more textual variant footnotes to all my Mark documents. Some of the data you will not find anywhere else, such as the readings for some variants not footnoted in the NA28 or others, and for manuscripts not collated yet for those variants. For example, the majuscules / uncials 059, 083, 0233 and 0250.

Here is a new footnote on a variant in Mark 15:30. It is not a big difference in meaning, but I am footnoting most of the meaningful differences between the NA28 and the Byzantine text stream. In Mark 15:30, the NA28 text says “Save yourself by coming down from the cross.” The Byzantine says “Save yourself and come down from the cross.”

 txt καταβας ℵ B D L 059vid 083 it-k,l,n vg cop-bo SBL TH NA28 {\} και καταβα A C Σ it-d,ff² TR RP και και καταβα E και καταβηθι P 0233vid  lac N W 0184 0250.  The papyrus 059 is damaged here, but it looks like there is not room enough for the longer Byzantine reading, and it looks like there is a C (sigma) before the visible ΑΠΟ. Below is an image of 059, with the variant being in the middle of the second line. You can download my latest edition of Mark here.

General Epistles Robinson-Pierpont

I have revised my translations of the General Epistles translated from the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform 2018 Greek text. The footnotes I augmented some, and improved the accuracy of the translation some. I have uploaded a new PDF of the document, as well as published a new printed edition on Amazon. The printed book has 194 pages, and was newly published June 26, 2022.

Cover of the book, General Epistles Robinson-Pierpont Majority Text
Gospel of Luke Robinson-Pierpont

Gospel of Luke Printed Editions

I have published new printed editions of my translation of the gospel of Luke, with the Greek text alternating verse by verse with my English translation thereof; one edition with an eclectic Greek text, and another of the Robinson-Pierpont 2018 text which I received by email directly from Dr. Maurice A. Robinson.

There are a few minor improvements since the previous publication: I added the Tyndale House reading to many of the TC footnotes, using the abbreviation TH, and I corrected a few typographical errors. The Table of Witnesses is now more full, giving the full names and dates of the major manuscripts and versions.

The eclectic edition is $11.95, ISBN: 978-1-958612-01-9

The RP edition is $12.90, ISBN: 978-1-958612-02-6

Kindle edition also available for the Robinson-Pierpont edition, $0.99, and the eclectic edition for Kindle, $0.99.