1:6 God said, “Let there be an expanse 1 in the midst of the waters and let it separate water 2 from water. 1:7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. 3 It was so. 4 1:8 God called the expanse “sky.” 5 There was evening, and there was morning, a second day.
1:14 God said, “Let there be lights 6 in the expanse 7 of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them be signs 8 to indicate seasons and days and years, 1:15 and let them serve as lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” It was so.
sn 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 (AnBib), 37-60.
2 tn Heb “the waters from the waters.”
3 tn Heb “the expanse.”
4 tn This statement indicates that it happened the way God designed it, underscoring the connection between word and event.
5 tn Though the Hebrew word can mean “heaven,” it refers in this context to “the sky.”
6 sn Let there be lights. Light itself was created before the light-bearers. The order would not seem strange to the ancient Hebrew mind that did not automatically link daylight with the sun (note that dawn and dusk appear to have light without the sun).
7 tn The language describing the cosmos, which reflects a prescientific view of the world, must be interpreted as phenomenal, describing what appears to be the case. The sun and the moon are not in the sky (below the clouds), but from the viewpoint of a person standing on the earth, they appear that way. Even today we use similar phenomenological expressions, such as “the sun is rising” or “the stars in the sky.”
8 tn The text has “for signs and for seasons and for days and years.” It seems likely from the meanings of the words involved that “signs” is the main idea, followed by two categories, “seasons” and “days and years.” This is the simplest explanation, and one that matches vv. 11-13. It could even be rendered “signs for the fixed seasons, that is [explicative vav (ו)] days and years.”
sn Let them be for signs. The point is that the sun and the moon were important to fix the days for the seasonal celebrations for the worshiping community.