It interesting to observe בארץ being translated by different English (and non English) translations as either in the earth or on the earth.

This is not limited to this verse by any means.

“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭6:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Most likely* the Biblical cosmology of an enclosed flat-earth covered by an impenetrable firmament at the time, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to use ‘in’ the earth and at the same time not make all earth dwellers cave dweller or living subterraineously. They were living in the earth terrarium.

What is the correct rendering in Hebrew of בארץ (I would argue for in the earth) and should it be changed even if it doesn’t align to secular scientific cosmology?

*requested rewording of the question

  • "Given Biblical cosmology of an enclosed flat-earth covered by an impenetrable firmament at the time" Such is not inarguably the 'Biblical cosmology,' and as such should not be presupposed as a help in understanding the phrase "'ב' the earth." Feb 11, 2019 at 20:07
  • I don’t intend to turn this into a flat earth discussion. Ancient civilizations all had a flat earth dome covering type cosmology. The spherical ball earth is a relatively new concept accepted ~500 years ago and while some Greek philosophers attempted to suggest a ball earth (philosophically and hypothetically) it did not stick as it did in the last 500 years onwards. I’m not presupposing, I’m offering an interpretation for the IN alternative being possible and most likely. I’m not asking you to agree to the Biblical cosmology, which is invariably undeniable from Scripture. Feb 11, 2019 at 20:32
  • Also, if I presuppose the earth is a globe then my language will reflect as much; similarly if the ancients presupposed a flat earth with a firmament cover then the language will reflect as much. So I don’t accept your implied premise that it’s irrelevant or unnecessary. Proper exegesis requires good hermeneutics and imposing modern views on the ancients’ texts, skews the meaning and syntax. I’m trying to be cognizant of the ancients’ worldview to get a most accurate translation/interpretation. Even if it’s highly controversial I can handle exploring/balancing multiple cosmologies just fine. Feb 11, 2019 at 20:41
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    I'm saying don't presuppose either. The ancient world wasn't monolithic; and a round earth is not a 'modern' idea besides. The idea that 'everyone' believed in a flat earth in the ancient world is bogus anyway; and even if 'most' did, this could not be assumed for the Hebrews as you have here. My suggestion that you not include a presupposition in your question which has not been demonstrated is not a 'premise,' it's just common sense. If you want the real truth of a matter, you should always eliminate assumptions, because they will affect the outcome of the data observation. Feb 11, 2019 at 22:01
  • Your response is begging for an avalanche flatearth Bible verses but I’ll refrain by editing the question to say most likely as opposed to given. This despite an overwhelming archeological consensus It is true that the cultures did not agree on the details but in general it had the same common theme. What other cosmology are you aware of in Hebrew archeology? I think it’s a reasonable compromise. The implication of the translation colors the interpretation regardless the cosmology. Your desire to remove it by design tilts the scales in your favor against the facts, by no means is it’s unbiased Feb 11, 2019 at 22:43

2 Answers 2


@Autodidact The correct rendering in modern English is "on the earth" or "upon the earth". If you have Logos Bible Software or if you go to biblegateway.com, you can search for all English translations about Gen 6.5. When I do this search, I can see that most English translations and revisions that use "in the earth" are King James Bible translations, editions and revisions. Most modern translations have "on the earth". The two most recent translations, such as the Lexham English Bible (LEB) and the International Standard Version (ISV) use "upon the earth" and "throughout the earth" respectively. None of this, however, bears upon the understanding of flat-earth vs round-earth debate. Not one bit. Even in English, one could use "on," "in," "upon," "through," in various ways to basically mean the same thing. Prepositions in Hebrew do not have a one-to-one correspondence in English, and even then, English is flexible. So, again, to answer your question: "on the earth" is preferable, but "in," "upon," or "throughout" are not incorrect either.

  • Yes that is the modern English but what’s the ancient Hebrew original? It’s in the earth. It’s no secret that Biblical cosmolgy is flat earth. So the language will reflect as much. It seems that a modern paradigm has been used to reinterpret what the Hebrew language actually says in favor of secular science rather than textual integrity. Thank you for your response +1 and welcome. Click on the tour link at the bottom of this page to familiarize yourself with the site and expectations. Feb 17, 2019 at 4:07
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    @Autodidact......thank you for your recognition. However, your comment that " Yes that is the modern English but what’s the ancient Hebrew original? It’s in the earth " does not follow. The Hebrew is בארץ but there is no one-to-one correspondence in English. It's not my opinion that בארץ and the like in Hebrew can variously mean "on" or "in" or either in different passages. As much as we use different prepositions in English to mean the same thing in the same contexts, the same happens in Hebrew and Greek.
    – XegesIs
    Feb 17, 2019 at 4:21
  • I dont have time to produce extensive exemplary evidence right now. But, you may review scholarly resources on this matter and you will see that (1) Hebrew and English dont work that way, and (2) none of this bears with the flat-earth debate. By number (2), Im not denying the biblical text reflects a flat earth, I know it does. The Bible is not scientific at all. It reflects ancient Near Eastern and greco-roman worldviews--including a flat earth. This is well-known in scholarship. But, again, the preposition itself doesnt prove anything in relation to the flat-earth debate.
    – XegesIs
    Feb 17, 2019 at 4:22
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    @Autodidact....---- Hebrew and English do not work that way. If you take the years to study linguistics and semantics and study word fallacies, you will see that prepositions do not work this way. It's well documented in grammars and linguistic resources with examples that prepositions do not prove much when it comes to these kinds of issues. It's the background and the contexts that you need to pay attention to. Yes, the biblical text reflects a flat-earth--although it's not scientifically flat. But, this is neither proved nor disproved by word prepositions. Understood?
    – XegesIs
    Feb 17, 2019 at 4:57
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    @Autodidact.....Ok, I see. But, your examples are not examples that show nuances or ambiguities. That's the problem. Therefore, you think that it always works that way including, in this case, "in the earth" vs "on the earth." But, that's not necessarily so. So, all Im telling you is do not put too much weight on this, it's a can of worms. It's wrong to accuse -- in this particular case -- translators of mistranslating בארץ. For example, the Hebrew for sky is actually not an expanse (like some modern translations do), but actually a solid dome. But, oh well. We understand.
    – XegesIs
    Feb 17, 2019 at 20:03

1On another day, the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD; and Satan also came with them to present himself before Him. 2“Where have you come from?” said the LORD to Satan. “From roaming through the earth,” he replied, “and from walking back and forth in it.”

There were many ancient underground cities... there are many recently discovered and not yet discovered... And there are many many brand new underground cities and facilities. As it seems useful to hide things now... it was since the beginning.

16And they said to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. 17For the great day of Their wrath has come, and who is able to withstand it?”…

  • משׁוט Is going to and fro. I don’t see the word through represented in the Hebrew. But that would have been a great passage to compare and contrast. I suppose if מנּי were used it could mean through but through how? Literally through the soil or through regions? Feb 18, 2019 at 13:09

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