Tag Archives: Genesis

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.