To use all functions of this page, please activate cookies in your browser.
With an accout for my.chemeurope.com you can always see everything at a glance – and you can configure your own website and individual newsletter.
- My watch list
- My saved searches
- My saved topics
- My newsletter
Firmament is a name for the sky or the heavens, generally used in the context of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. In the Hebrew Old Testament, the word used for "firmament" is "raqiya`" (pronounced rä·kē'·ah) meaning an extended solid surface or flat expanse, considered to be a hemisphere above the Earth. The word is derived from the Hebrew raqa, meaning "beaten out" or to spread material by beating/hammering/stamping, e.g. the process of making a metal bowl by hammering metal flat, or "to make a spreading (of clouds)". Thus, in the Bible, Elihu asks Job “Can you beat out [raqa] the vault of the skies, as he does, hard as a mirror of cast metal (Job 37:18)?” In the Vulgate, the word firmamentum is used, which in Classical Latin means a strengthening or support. For Jewish and Christian astronomers familiar with Greek astronomy, the firmament was the eighth sphere carrying the fixed stars and surrounding the seven spheres of the planets in the geocentric model.
Additional recommended knowledge
The word is mentioned in the Bible, in the course of the creation story of (Genesis 1:6–8):
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 the evening and the morning were the second day.
The Jewish Encyclopaedia describes the Firmament as follows:
The book of Genesis goes on to mention lights being placed in the firmament (Genesis 1:14-17):
And God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth": and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: the stars also.
The Sun and Moon were thought to move in and out of the Firmament dome through a series of openings (reflecting the apparent movement of their rising and setting points throughout the year). This is explained in considerable detail in the Book of Enoch (the following is an excerpt):
Biblical references to this cosmology (specifically, the notion of a solid Firmament with Heaven above it) include the creation of the Firmament in Genesis 1:6; God opening windows in the Firmament in Genesis 7:11 to let water rain down, and closing them again in Genesis 8:2; the construction of a tall tower to reach Heaven in Genesis 11:4; celestial warehouses for snow and hail in Job 38:22, the sky as a strong crystalline material in Job 37:18 and Ezekiel 1:22; the sky as a tent in Isaiah 40:22; stars as small objects attached to the Firmament (which can fall off) in Daniel 8:10, Matthew 24:29, Mark 13:25, Revelation 6:13, Revelation 8:10, Revelation 9:1 and Revelation 12:4 (it is sometimes claimed that these "falling stars" are meteors, but the swipe of a dragon's tail dislodges "one-third of all the stars in the sky" in Revelation 12:4).
The heavens are "rolled back like a scroll" in Revelation 6:14: however, as stars are apparently still being knocked off the Firmament in subsequent verses, it's unclear which layer is being removed at this point.
The Book of Baruch elaborates on the Tower of Babel story, with the builders reaching the Firmament and attempting to pierce it:
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Firmament". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|