Genesis 1:6-8

  1. Then God said, “Let there be a [c]firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.”
  2. Thus 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.
  3. And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.
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    This simply talks about the water above the sky = clouds; and the water below the sky = rivers and lakes. Nothing fancy here.
    – Dottard
    Nov 26, 2020 at 10:36
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    @Dottard That is not consistent with Biblical cosmology. That is entirely based from extraBiblical secular modern day cosmology. “Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭148:4‬ ‭the Bible has words for clouds, vapor, mist and yet it speaks of water in the sense that everyone understood water to mean a liquid. Nov 26, 2020 at 12:59
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    God made the heavens (plural) and the earth. And water (an allusary reference to multitudinous population) above the heavens. This is deeply spiritual, not technical at all. Plus there is the matter of copious water above, before rain happened, and the protective water canopy above, lost in judgment to expose humanity below.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 26, 2020 at 13:39
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    @Calicoder Don't know if you will see this comment, but it would be good if you could sign-in to Biblical Hermeneutics to see what's going on. If you do could you clarify what you mean by sky and whether you want ancient or modern views. Thanks.
    – Lesley
    Nov 27, 2020 at 9:51
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    I am impressed that so many people have chimed in here. You're all a great community and I value each opinion expressed here. To answer @Lesley, by "sky" I mean the phenomenon of a blue cover for the world. What did the hebrews think it was? From this verse in genesis, it seems their cosmology was, as someone else said, submarine.
    – Calicoder
    Nov 29, 2020 at 22:58

4 Answers 4


The ancient world had a “submarine cosmology.” Looking at the sky, it does seem fluid in the changing of colors and the motion of clouds and rain falling. And whenever they dug down deep enough, they strike water. Hence “waters above” and “waters below.”

For example, in the flood narrative, God undoes creation in Genesis 7:11

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.

In Genesis 1:6

And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”

It is clear that their image of the universe was this way, and it hasn’t changed much since then for all of us. We had the universe filled with aether up until a century or two ago. And today the standard model of physics still views the universe as a kind of bendy fluid grid of potential.

This was the primary cosmology for quite some time. It was certainly the Egyptian take too. Ra literally sailed a boat across the sky.

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    What are your sources on this idea of "submarine cosmology"? That's not a phrase I've ever heard before. Also each culture has its cosmological images, but they don't necessitate that the people actually believed the universe was literally represented by their cosmologies. It can be quite hard to determine to what extent people believed their cultural images were true depictions of reality.
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 27, 2020 at 5:07
  • Just heard it from a rabbi teaching Hebrew Bible at seminary. People believe this stuff. John Calvin thought that the only reason that the earth didn’t sink in the cosmic ocean was because God’s hands literally held back the waters. His aristotelian cosmology said that earth sinks in water unless acted on by an outside force
    – Gus L.
    Nov 28, 2020 at 1:10

No, it does not actually say the sky is made of water, but it does say that God created a “firmament” between the waters under and the waters above the Earth. Genesis 1:20 says that birds fly in the “firmament” (our atmosphere), but it also says (in Genesis 1:14-17) that the sun, moon and stars reside there. I understand the the Hebrew word translated as “firmament” is raqiya. I found an article on the subject, part of which says this:

According to Genesis, before there was air or land or any form of life, the earth was a formless mass of primordial water. On the second day of creation, God created the raqiya, placing it in the midst of the water, thereby separating it into two parts: “the waters above the firmament [raqiya]” and the waters below it. The waters below the raqiya He named “sea” (yam in Hebrew) and the raqiya itself He named “heaven,” “air” or “sky,” depending on your translation of the Hebrew word shamayim. But Genesis does not provide a name for the waters above the raqiya, nor is there any water above our atmosphere today, assuming that raqiya does mean “atmosphere.” [1]

The article goes on to explore “the canopy theory” which speculates that after the flood in Noah’s day water vapour from above the Earth formed the deluge that lasted for five and a half weeks. It also looks at the suggestion that a pre-flood canopy would filter out much of the cosmic radiation that is harmful to humans and cause the lack of rain or rainbows. The article concludes:

In defense of the view that raqiya means “atmosphere,” the reference in Genesis 1:14-17 to the sun, moon and stars residing there may have simply been a phenomenological statement, just as our modern terms “sunset” and “sunrise” are phenomenological descriptions. That is, we know full well that the sun is stationary and doesn’t really “rise” or “set,” despite our usage of terms implying its movement from our earth-bound vantage point. Whatever the case may be, there is no canopy up there today and any suggestion that there was one in the past is speculation because there simply isn’t enough evidence one way or the other, except for the one enigmatic reference to waters above the firmament in Genesis 1:6 and no one claims to know for sure what that means. [1]

An article specifically about the “firmament” says that the word comes from the Latin firmamentum which means “sky” or “expanse”. It is mentioned 17 times in the King James Version of the Bible and refers to the expanse of the heavens above the earth. The “firmament” is called “heaven”; i.e., it is what people see when they stand outside and look up. It is the space which includes the earth’s atmosphere and the celestial realm. In the firmament, we see the sun, moon, and stars; in modern translations the firmament is often called the “expanse” or the “sky.” [2]

The article continues:

Genesis says that the firmament “separated the water under the expanse from the water above it” (Genesis 1:7). Originally, God created the earth with water “under” the sky (terrestrial and subterranean water) and water “above” the sky—possibly a “water canopy” which enwrapped the earth in a protective layer. Or, the waters above the firmament could simply be a reference to clouds. [2]

Does Genesis 6 say that the sky (firmament) was made of water? No, it does not. In spite of various theories and speculation, no one can claim to know for sure what “the waters above the sky” means.




The migrated question asks specifically about “the sky”, a word lacking a direct equivalent in the Hebrew, the closest being heaven, and secondly asks “if the Bible...”, which excludes by extension the opinions of modern secular experts or doctrines of accommodations including John Calvin’s (Luigi Piccardi, W. Bruce Masse, Myth and geology, p. 40) much later reinterpretation of firmament to mean clouds. The text cannot be gently nor violently forced to say what it did not say the first time to the intended audience, no matter how much cognitive dissonance it produces to a modern reader or conflicts with accepted norms of secular modern cosmology.


The quoted text speaks of the firmament dividing the waters from the waters. This puts emphasis on the firmament לרקיע and on the waters. This divider is explained and described in numerous other passages of Scripture. It’s derived from the word רקע which means to beat out into a thin sheet. This is exactly the same idea seen numerous places in Scripture that the heavens are spread out.

“who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:22‬

The heaven and firmament being one and the same based on the quoted text

“And God called the firmament Heaven” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:8‬

Liquid Waters

With regards to the waters. Waters being divided by necessity must be the same water below and as the waters above the firmament divider. It cannot be physical liquid water below and immaterial “spiritual” water above. It likewise cannot be alluding to a myriad of people, symbolism, for then there must likewise be people below and above the firmament divider. Not neglecting the fact that Adam the first man was not yet even created.

The authority of Scripture over claims of scientific facts

What is remarkable is the willingness to divert from what is written in the Biblical text to what is presumed to be true in modern cosmology in an effort to mash the two incompatible paradigms and corresponding axioms together. This is most unfortunate and improper. Whatever one chooses to believe about secular modern cosmology becomes irrelevant to the ancient text because the text was not addressed to a modern audience. Therefore the cosmology of the ancient audience must be understood and read into the ancient text. Hermeneutics demands it be so.

Biblical text is not assisted by extraBiblical opinions. It doesn’t require assistance and it cannot be overruled by extraBiblical opinions. Meaning no extraBiblical explanations should, will or can stand as an authority over the written text, especially a much later idea created by men and entirely uninspired. Even at the expense of nullifying the entire Scripture as erroneous, uninspired and fallacious the text must not be tampered with.

The text states what it states and either it is true or false, accept or rejected, believed or discarded but it cannot be improved, tweaked or helped by modern opinion. The text must mean what it was intended to mean to the audience of that day when the text was written and to whom it was addressed. This is plainly, basic hermeneutical prerequisites. If the text is modified, then it has been corrupted.

While extraBiblical passages from the same time period can shine light on the meaning of the firmament רקיע in Hebrew, στερεωμα in the Greek, there are sufficient texts within the OT to show and describe what it is. A hard beaten out structure dividing and holding up immense volumes of water above.

The waters above the firmament in the heavens are liquid in form. The Hebrew and the Greek have words for clouds, mists, vapor, rain and yet the word for water is explicitly and intentionally used. As for example by the psalmist after the world wide flood during Noah’s day. This nullifies the bizarre theory of layer of water prior to the flood but not also afterwards. In fact the same psalm later speaks of mist, showing that there is a difference between what the psalmist meant when he said water above the heavens and not mist, clouds or steam.

“Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!

Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭148:4, 7-8‬ ‭

Concluding remarks

In answering the question asked in the title, no the Bible does not say the sky has water in it, it says the heavens above the firmament has water in them. The sky as understood today contains water in the form of gaseous water droplets, and condensed together they would equate to a sea of water but the text quoted specifically speaks of liquid water. The hard structure expanse has liquid water below and above it, not just below it.


My understanding is: A mist like in a rain forest covered the earth till the flood. Thus the rainbow which apparently had never appeared till after. A nice question but obeying Gods commandments and the faith of Jesus is more important than... " My Lord of lords, KING of kings, Why did you only live 33 years? Did it take the serpent 33 years to deceive?" Imagine Adam, living 900 years of regret over one choice of disobeying. They lost BOTH of their first born sons.

  • “...for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground—” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:5-6‬ The text you are alluding to merely states that the earth was so brand new that there was no seedlings yet, no rain had fallen yet and man had not worked the land yet either. Unless man didn’t work the land until the flood there is no reason to believe there was no rain until the flood either. Nov 29, 2020 at 2:13

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