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Thread: A firmament between waters

  1. #1 A firmament between waters 
    Time Lord
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    Does the creation part of Genesis originate in flood legend earlier than the Noah account?

    The Earth begins apparently covered in water, as "darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." Note this is prior to God creating anything tangible.

    God goes on to make "a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters." Note that firmament in Hebrew is "spreading" or "expanding", and could suggest the beating out of a metal bowl i.e. the dome of Heaven. God names the firmament Heaven. I don't get why God needed half an ocean covering the back yard of Heaven. It sounds more like he made a heavenly isthmus or river bar. I'd guess isthmus, since He fills the seas with fish.

    SO then we have "dry land" and a "gathering together of seas" although below Heaven in particular the waters are "gathered together unto one place" perhaps as rivers gather downstream to form one sea? Well there's a lot of emphasis put on the rearrangements of land and water, and no telling what geographic or time scale we're looking at except that it isn't really all the Earth forever.

    The Bible states that there was no rain to wet the soil and newly rooted plants but "there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground." That looks like marshlands in drought to me, or maybe a floodplain. The lushest and perhaps most strategic spot was a garden within the area of Eden: "a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads..." which are then listed as completely isolated river systems. I won't even try to locate this Heaven/land/Eden region on a map. It's said to be to the east of whoever's telling this, but then after Adam and Eve venture out God blocks their return on the east side of Eden, and again expels Cain to the land of Nod ("land of wandering") east of Eden.

    The flood of Noah follows shortly in Genesis, and I'm guessing this another version or reinterpretation of the creation. The scene is set with apparently two hominid populations having mingled, and become great, but the Noah folk who are "perfect in their generations" will survive impending doom. The Earth is covered in water (again?) flooding "from under heaven" and also "all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened". That sounds like rising sea or lake, or perhaps if Heaven is a highlands it is draining rivers. Glacier dam burst?

    The Noah folk settle in the land of Ararat, between the Black Sea and the Caspian. Again we get rapid ecological succession and baby boom. They migrate west from that place, which at least is geographically possible.

    Make sense of it?



    One solution I imagine is that Genesis is a tangle of two traditions, recounting a shared cause of migrations that forced both peoples together. Merged, they may have blossomed culturally and technologically... and that would be a juncture to formalize their origin traditions. This would explain how they came from one place, and also another. And perhaps also who those prehistorically mixed children of God and children of Noah are: they're the descendants of two tribe leaders, overlaying their perceptions of each other. Plainly one tribe enslaved the other!


    Mostly I just want to know what people make of all that water.


    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard SkinWalker's Avatar
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    The flood myths and "water" of creation found in biblical mythology has it origins in earlier Akkadian and even earlier Sumerian mythology. Gilgamesh and the Enuma Elish are among these sources. Interestingly enough, the Noachian myth is a nearly word-for-word borrowing of the Gilgamesh story's section on the flood. There are several flood myths that predate the Hebrew myths and are documented in clay tablets, written in cuneiform script.

    My personal suspicion is that these myths originate from the relatively sudden inundation of the Persian Gulf over 10,000 years ago. There is geologic evidence in the form of bathymetry, sounding, core sampling, etc. that shows the Persian Gulf basin was once a lush, fertile land with plenty of fresh water, flora and fauna for the hunter-gathering pre-agriculturalist. Its very likely that a civilization thrived in the region.

    The fresh water is still there, with undersea plumes of "sweetwater" off and on the coast of Baharain. The civilization of Sumeria, a linguistic isolate, came from unknown lands -all that is known is that they migrated to the region in prehistoric times, establishing the culture now known as Sumeria in historic times (and they probably invented writing over 5,000 years ago, starting historic times).

    By the way, I say "relatively sudden inundation" because it probably filled quickly -a few feet per day- certainly fast enough to force migration but not a wall of water moving across the valley / basin in a few minutes. Though there was likely a large fall of water near the point of origin.


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  4. #3  
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    I'd better re-read Gilgamesh. All I cared for then was the forestry, though that happens to be relevant to this discussion because it shows how long term process witnessed by generations, may be mythically condensed into one superhuman deed (Gilgamesh the original weekend warrior personally chopped the forests of Lebanon and hauled the lumber to build a city).

    A few feet per day? You must mean horizontally... but even so this is devastating, as on the small scale it would creep and rush, creep and rush; and broad swaths of vegetation would perish suddenly as salt water rose to the roots.

    If the Strait of Hormuz is the open floodgate of Heaven then we might look for a relatively advanced (recalled as godlike) trading & slaving civilization at the strategic mouth, where once a river flowed out. Maybe they evicted our (relatively savage) Adam tribe from some nice island in the valley below. 'Cause the savages were pilfering from their fruit trees?



    Another consequence of the ice melt, was a belt of inland seas and wetlands through central Asia. Those are still drying up. There were probably some flood events as meltwater reservoirs spilled through constraining glaciers or weak barriers. That would disrupt and dislocate big game hunters, who one assumes were capable of retreating great distances i.e. into the Middle East. They may have adapted briefly to life on rafts and canoes. Wildly different origin from Eden Valley but quite possibly settled among other displaced populations who had their own flood stories.

    My own (unique I think) hypothesis about constricted waterways during glacier retreat, is that large volumes of icebergs tended to crowd straights where there is net inflow. They create an ice dam that lasts years, centuries, or longer, so water level in the evaporative Mediterranean or Persian Gulf etc. gradually drops. That drop wouldn't be catastrophic or perceptible. When the dam breaks, water gushes in.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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    I've wondered about the 'waters above and waters below' myself. I've never come to a satisfactory conclusion about it.

    I am what passes in most places for a 'Bible Thumper'. I do believe the Bible is God's message to mankind about Who He is, who we are and how to from a proper relationship between Him and us. However, in some 'Thumper' circles, I am considered somewhat suspect. I do not believe the Bible says the Universe was created in seven twenty-four hour periods about 6,000 years ago. It's not that I don't believe what the Bible says, I do not believe the Bible says that. (Bishop Ussher said it in the 17th Century and it has been absorbed into orthodoxy.) I also have a burning passion for Cosmology and such. Finally, in introduction, I do not believe that anything I or any human can learn or decipher challenges God's authority or sovereignty in the least. In other words, God isn't afraid any of us will figure it all out and render Him obsolete.

    The wording of the first eleven chapters of Genesis are rather obviously oral tradition coming from the Chaldean and prior - Sumerian and Akkadian - civilizations. It is obviously attuned to a late Stone Age - early Bronze Age intellect and world view. By the way, I have no problem with the Enuma Elish containing similarities to the Bible. If such an event happened - the Flood for instance - would not oral traditions and writings of those involved record the event? I find it more of a verification of the Biblical account than a disproof. The Enuma Elish also records a fight in 'heaven' between good and evil; much in parallel to Lucifer's rebellion against the Almighty's authority.

    Based on my knowledge of the Almighty, I believe the Bible is the closer truth to the actual history of the world than any of the other texts. (Interestingly, the Bible begins with God 'creating' all things and the Enuma Elish begins with a retinue of gods who make the Earth almost accidentally from stuff they already had lying around. No creation from nothing.) I understand my belief does not overwhelm anyone else's, but that's not my problem.

    Well, waters and waters. Hmmm. Nearly all creation stories from all civilizations seem to begin with water. The Norse posit a giant ice-field melting to expose a cow.

    Some of the traditional Bible scholars believe the 'water above' was what fell to Earth to cause the Flood of Noah. Prior to that the water had been in suspension - mist, ice crystals or something of the sort - in a orbit shaped 'sphere' around the Earth. I'm not sure I can support that. The asteroid that putatively killed the dinosaurs would have passed through it some several million years prior to it's collapse. (On the other hand, I still haven't figured out how anyone could take Karl Marx seriously, either. So my preference has little to do with it.) At any rate, it seems the Flood story is part of the same oral tradition outlining the origin of the Earth and humanity.

    Every civilization on Earth has a 'Flood myth'. Which tells me it happened.

    Skinwalker relates the theory of the Persian Gulf. There are similar theories involving what is now the Black Sea and what is now the Mediterranean Sea. If all the people on Earth at the time of the incident lived in those areas, then the flood was 'global' in the sense everyone was involved. Even if the water didn't get to Mt. Rainier or Kilimanjaro. One also notes the reasons for the Flood are pretty much all the same: the people involved had deteriorated in conduct and displeased God - or the gods. Or Karma.

    So what about the waters above and below? I still don't know. I think it could just refer to the huge amount of water vapor in the air at any one time; not a strong argument, just a 'could be'. I think it might have meant more to a primitive society than it does to us. Frankly, in the overall subject of the Bible it doesn't mean much. If it did, it would get more press, so to speak. There would be a couple chapters about it instead of just one line. There are much more important concepts in the Bible to confront.
    The universe is a real place. However, you can't see it, you have to imagine it. Like it or not, God designed, built and sustains the Universe. Deal with it.
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  7. #6  
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    Every civilization on Earth has a 'Flood myth'. Which tells me it happened.
    Many of them having hardly any resemblance, nor for certain, due to considerable Western cultural contamination before objective study of native cultures and their stories were done. Lastly floods and development of agriculture, , with a few exceptions, go hand-in-hand because we tend to grow crops and develop early cities on flat, fertile, and flood-prone river valleys and deltas.

    There are similar theories involving what is now the Black Sea and what is now the Mediterranean Sea.
    You can scratch the Med...that last time it flooded was well before humans, some 5+ million years ago.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
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