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Journal of Creation 35(1):111–116, April 2021

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The ‘windows of heaven’ are figurative

Reading a ‘solid sky’ into a biblical metaphor is a big mistake

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The phrase ‘windows of heaven’ (or ‘windows in heaven’) is used six times in Scripture (Genesis 7:11; 8:2; 2 Kings 7:2,19; Isaiah 24:18; Malachi 3:10). Many scholars insist that the biblical authors believed these ‘windows’ to be literal openings in a solid sky, based on a prescientific cosmology they allege the Israelites to have held. Eleven principles drawn from Scripture are proposed and defended to show that these windows were not meant to refer to literal openings but were intended as metaphors for the regulation of heavenly provisions, including rain from clouds.


Creationists are often accused of taking the Bible too literally. Ironically, though, it is frequently the critics of creationism who mistake the Bible’s metaphors for woodenly literal descriptions, based on a prescientific cosmology they attribute to the ancients. One example of this concerns the ‘windows of heaven’ mentioned twice in the Flood account (Genesis 7:11; 8:2) as well as four other places in Scripture (2 Kings 7:2,19; Isaiah 24:18; Malachi 3:10). According to many liberal scholars and some professing evangelicals like Paul H. Seely,1 Kyle Greenwood,2 and John H. Walton,3 people of the ancient Near East (ANE) universally believed that the sky had a solid ceiling, often thought to be vaulted. Allegedly, multiple cultures of the ANE—including that of the biblical authors—further affirmed that above the vault was a vast cosmic ocean. The biblical ‘windows of heaven’, these scholars say, were considered to be literal openings in the vault (figure 1) which allowed the upper waters to rain down at the time of Noah’s Flood.

When one examines the contexts of these phrases and the entirety of the biblical testimony on the subject, however, it is clear that references to ‘windows’ in heaven were intended as idioms for the control of rain and other heavenly provisions. It is a mistake to think that the biblical authors considered these windows to be literal openings in the sky, as the following 11 principles collectively indicate.4

1. The biblical authors knew that rain came from clouds.

 fig-1-misrepresentation-of-the-biblical-view
Figure 1. “Biblical view of the cosmos” according to Greenwood, K., Scripture and Cosmology, p. 26, 2015. This misrepresentation of the biblical view is typical, erroneously portraying literal ‘windows’ in heaven.

It should be no surprise that people dependent on the weather for their livelihood would have a basic understanding of the connection between rain and clouds. The Bible is filled with references to both clouds and rain which demonstrate this understanding. Here are a few representative examples:

“The clouds poured out water … ” (Psalm 77:17).

“In the light of a king’s face there is life, and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain” (Proverbs 16:15).

“If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves on the earth … ” (Ecclesiastes 11:3).

“Ask rain from the Lord in the season of the spring rain, from the Lord who makes the storm clouds, and he will give them showers of rain, to everyone the vegetation in the field” (Zechariah 10:1).

“He also said to the crowds, ‘When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, “A shower is coming.” And so it happens’” (Luke 12:54).

Furthermore, there are no passages clearly demonstrating that the Israelites believed in a second source of rain—an upper sea—or that the clouds themselves had to be supplied with water from such a sea. All the texts which are alleged to show that rain comes directly or indirectly from an upper sea have more plausible alternative interpretations, as the following principles will show.

2. The Bible speaks interchangeably of rain from clouds and rain from the heavens because these sources of rain are equivalent, not separable.

Just as the Bible states that rain comes from clouds, it also says that rain comes from the heavens (e.g. Psalm 68:8; Isaiah 55:10). Such passages are not describing a second source of rain apart from clouds. Clouds belong to the heavens, so when clouds give rain, the heavens can be said to give rain. Indeed, at least one passage uses poetic parallelism to signify that rain from clouds and rain from the heavens are synonymous descriptions of a single event:5

“ … the earth trembled and the heavens dropped, yes, the clouds dropped water” (Judges 5:4).

3. The Bible uses several man-made objects as metaphors for clouds.

In Job 38:37, God asks who is able to “tilt the waterskins of the heavens”, in context clearly referring to clouds dropping rain. This cannot be taken literally, as the description fits neither clouds nor the supposed vault windows, since neither of these resemble a pouch made of animal hide, nor do they release water by tilting.

In another example, God’s authority in heaven is asserted by asking, rhetorically, “Who has gathered the wind in his fists?”, and “Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?” (Proverbs 30:4). It is easy to see this as a poetic description of clouds, since clouds consist of waters gathered in heaven as if bundled by a cloak. Rather than postulate that the biblical authors invoked a multiplicity of physical mechanisms to control rain, it is better to acknowledge that they simply employed picturesque analogies to describe clouds. Metaphors such as these suggest that texts mentioning ‘windows of heaven’ might likewise be speaking figuratively. To make this determination, one must also consider the immediate contexts of those passages, which will be addressed below.6

4. The Flood account suggests that clouds were the source of the Flood’s rain.

In the Flood narrative, clouds are not mentioned by name when “the windows of the heavens were opened” and rain fell for 40 days and nights (Genesis 7:11–12). Neither are they mentioned at the time when “the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained” (Genesis 8:2). But after Noah came out of the Ark God set His rainbow “in the cloud” as a symbol of His promise never to Flood the world again (Genesis 9:13). Most significantly, He promised to remember His covenant in the future, specifically: “When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds” (Genesis 9:14). The point of mentioning future gatherings of clouds and the choosing of a sign situated in the clouds was that it was likely to reassure Noah and his descendants that they need not fear that future storm clouds might cause another great Flood. This suggests that storm clouds were a significant cause of the Flood just experienced. Hence, there is good reason to think that the author of the account expected readers to understand that the Flood’s rain came from clouds, not from actual physical windows. (See principle 9 for additional evidence based in part on the Flood narrative that clouds were responsible for this rain.)

5. The Bible never states that clouds are supplied with water from an upper sea.

No biblical passages demonstrate, or even hint, that clouds are fed from higher waters. Clouds are not said to descend from a vault or catch water that drips from the windows of heaven. Apart from the windows mentioned in the Flood account and generic references to the heavens giving rain (both already addressed above), solid-sky advocates have little to offer here. The best they can do to connect rain with an upper sea is point to Psalm 104:13 and similar texts, which speak of God sending rain from His heavenly dwelling place—located just above heavenly ‘waters’ (cf. Psalm 29:3–10; Amos 9:6). Both Walton7 and Greenwood8 assume these texts portray God’s residence perched atop a celestial ocean, and that these are the waters God sends as rain. Sadly, they are reading their preconceived views into these passages. For example, the relevant part of Psalm 104:13 simply says, “From your lofty abode you water the mountains”.

There is nothing in this text to lead one to believe that God’s abode is located in an alleged ‘upper heavens’ above the sky roof and on top of a celestial sea. On the contrary, the beginning of this chapter explains where God’s ‘lofty abode’ is to be found:

“Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent. He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on the wings of the wind; he makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire” (Psalm 104:1–4).

The imagery here involves an oft repeated motif in Scripture, in which the visible heavens are portrayed as God’s tent, house, or temple. As pictured, God is clothed in the light of heaven (and in similar texts He is surrounded by the sun and stars—cf. Job 22:12; 37:21–22; 1 Kings 22:19; Isaiah 14:13–14). The supporting rafters for the upper story of God’s house are laid on ‘waters’ (v. 3). What waters are these? A vaulted ocean? No, they are clouds, as the text immediately goes on to reveal. It depicts God’s presence in clouds and amid other atmospheric phenomena, just as the Old Testament frequently does elsewhere. There are numerous passages in which God is portrayed as walking on, or riding through, the clouds as on a chariot or a cherub.9 The table below reveals how pervasive this portrayal of God is throughout the Old Testament.

Imagery of God’s relationship to clouds Old Testament references
Enthroned upon clouds Psa 29:3–10; 97:2–6; Isa 14:13–14; Dan 7:9, 13
Walks upon clouds 2 Sam 22:7–15; Job 22:12–14; Psa 18:9–14; Nah 1:3
Rides upon clouds Deut 33:26; 2 Sam 22:7–15; Psa 18:9–14; 68:4, 33–34; 104:1–4, 13; Isa 19:1
Surrounds Himself with clouds 2 Sam 22:7–15; Job 37:2–22; Psa 18:9–14; 97:2–6; Lam 3:44
Resides in a structure composed of, or built upon, clouds 2 Sam 22:7–15; Job 36:27–33; Psa 18:9–14; 68:33–35; 104:1–4, 13; Amos 9:6
Speaks through thunder (often associated with clouds since it occurs during rainstorms) Exo 19:19; 2 Sam 22:14; Job 37:2–5; 40:9; Psa 18:13; 29:3–10; 68:33–34; 104:7

Psalm 104, consistent with the rest of the Old Testament, uses these devices to depict God as though He lives in the physical, observable heavens. He is bathed in the light of the visible heavens and He waters the mountains from His loft in the visible clouds. An invisible upper sea far above this realm is not indicated, and thus is not presented as a source of rain.

6. Rather than acquiring water from an upper sea, the Bible indicates that clouds arise from seawater below.

If they are not supplied by a heavenly ocean, does the Bible say how clouds do accumulate water? Admittedly, Scripture is not terribly specific about cloud formation. Yet several passages seem to be relevant. In a few places, gathering clouds are said to rise from the sea or from distant parts of the earth.

“He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from his storehouses” (Psalm 135:7).

“And at the seventh time he said, ‘Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.’ And he said, ‘Go up, say to Ahab, “Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.”’ And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain” (1 Kings 18:44–45).

“When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses” (Jeremiah 10:13; cf. 51:16).

These descriptions could be purely phenomenal. That is, they may only describe the fact that clouds ‘rise’ by appearing ‘low’ on the horizon and ‘high’ when overhead, despite maintaining a fairly constant altitude throughout their approach. Nevertheless, it seems likely that the biblical writers believed and expressed here the idea that mists and clouds do physically rise up from the sea and ascend vertically into the sky. They had experience with low clouds and fog (Job 38:9; Ezekiel 38:9, 16), and could have witnessed the behaviour of clouds at different elevations in the sky. The Israelites surely could have observed mists rising—coming off puddles and other bodies of water, as in the phenomenon of ‘steam fog’ (figure 2). They were undoubtedly familiar with steam travelling upward from boiling water, too, and they would have noticed that this diminished the water in their cooking pots.10 It would not require any advanced scientific knowledge of evaporation and condensation to realize that water can ascend in the form of mists or vapours. Although it’s not exactly clear how much the biblical writers understood about these subjects, the above passages give prima facie evidence that they at least associated cloud formation with rising, if not drawing water from seas and other bodies of water on earth.

wikipedia.orgfig-2-steam-fog-on-atlantic-ocean
Figure 2. Steam fog on the Atlantic Ocean

Intriguingly, two passages in Amos portray God specifically calling waters up out of the sea in order to pour them back down as rain:

“… who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth …” (Amos 5:8; cf. 9:6).

To my knowledge, no one has suggested that the ‘sea’ in these verses refers to a liquid ocean above the sky roof rather than the sea on earth. The Hebrew term for ‘sea’ (yam) is never used anywhere else in Scripture to refer to waters in heaven—not even as a figure for clouds, let alone a celestial ocean. Also, the action of pouring in the second line of the couplet requires the water to be coming from above as rain, not merely coming from the sea and flooding onto the land. Therefore, Amos apparently understood that clouds are formed by waters ascending from earthly seas.

Psalm 33:7 may also speak of God collecting water from the sea to form clouds. The ESV translates it thus:

“He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses.”

If ‘heap’ is the correct rendering, this would refer to God piling up the water in the ocean. But the NRSV has it thus:

“He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle; he put the deeps in storehouses.”

If the NRSV is correct, this verse likely depicts God lifting waters out of the sea to form clouds—as though clouds were containers made of animal hide, similar to the way they are portrayed as ‘waterskins’ in Job 38:37. The difference between the two translations is due to the (uninspired) vowel pointing of one Hebrew word. Without the vowels, which were added by interpreters, the word could be read as either ned (a heap) or nod (a skin bottle). This term does refer to heaps of water elsewhere (Exodus 15:8; Joshua 3:13, 16; Psalm 78:13), but these verses all speak of water that was miraculously piled up when God parted the Red Sea and the Jordan River. It is less clear whether a ‘heap’ is a fitting way to describe the waters of the sea in their natural state.

One point in favour of the NRSV rendering is that the Septuagint (ancient Greek version of the Old Testament) translated the term in question as askos (skin bottle). Furthermore, the term ‘storehouses’ in the second line is only used elsewhere in reference to heavenly treasuries. Heaven’s storehouses are said to contain atmospheric phenomena like rain, snow, hail, and wind (Job 38:22; Psalm 135:7; Jeremiah 10:13; 51:16), yet the term is never applied to storage in the sea. So, while it’s not beyond question, Psalm 33:7 at least arguably adds further weight to the several passages that portray God as drawing water from the sea to make clouds.11

7. The opening of the heavens can refer to ordinary seasonal rain from clouds.

“The Lord will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands” (Deuteronomy 28:12).

The term ‘windows’ is not used in this passage, but the heavens are likened to a ‘treasury’ that can ‘open’, resulting in rain. Greenwood takes the reference to the treasury as a literal storage area for rainwater,12 but this cannot be. For one thing, a treasury, or storehouse, is a space in which one stockpiles valuable goods like food or money, not typically a large body of water. This suggests the treasury is figurative. Furthermore, in the Hebrew, the terms ‘treasury’ and ‘heavens’ are each preceded by the accusative particle ’et, marking them both as direct objects of the same verb. This means the idea being communicated is not the opening of a treasury in the heavens, but the opening of a treasury; namely, the heavens. Heaven itself is the treasury, which is observably not literal.

This verse also implies the operation of clouds. Clouds are not mentioned by name, but, given principles 1–3 above and principle 10 below, they were undoubtedly viewed as the means by which rain came. The text specifically identifies this rain as that which would be given “in its season” and the term for rain is matar, which is often used of seasonal rain (Deuteronomy 11:14; Job 29:23).13 Seasonal rain was surely understood to come from clouds as the pattern would have been familiar to anyone paying attention. Ergo, the ‘treasury’ is a metaphor for heaven’s abundant supply of rain from clouds to grow crops. Its ‘opening’ has nothing to do with windows in a solid sky. Plus, given the similarity in concepts, this is further evidence that the opening of the ‘windows of heaven’ in the Flood account (Genesis 7:11) has nothing to do with a solid sky either.

Interestingly, unlike Greenwood14 and Walton,7 who characterize the biblical view of precipitation as regulated by sky windows, Seely does not attribute ordinary rain to the windows or to the upper sea. In his view, the Bible depicts the windows of heaven being opened only during Noah’s Flood, not thereafter. He claims that “the waters above the firmament are excluded from the normal everyday universe” and that “they only entered this world one time: at the time of Noah’s flood—something God promised never to do again”.15 But, in effect, this concedes that the opening of the heavens, as expressed in Deuteronomy 28:12, must be a metaphor for rain from clouds. Seely’s position is inconsistent. Why take the opening of the heavens to be literal in one case and not the other? More examples of heaven’s opening and shutting will be considered below.

8. The opening of the heavens can deliver other things besides water, including intangibles.

If all of the passages which mention the opening of the heavens and storehouses in the heavens are to be taken literally, there must be quite a few separate storage units above the vault, making it a complex and crowded place. After all, solid-sky proponents must not only posit compartments for various forms of precipitation (rain, snow, hail) and other atmospheric phenomena (wind), they also need a garage full of manna.

“Yet he commanded the skies above and opened the doors of heaven, and he rained down on them manna to eat and gave them the grain of heaven” (Psalm 78:23–24).

Are we to believe the Israelites thought there were literal chambers full of manna up above the vault, somehow kept dry and stored alongside all the other bins next to, or within, the heavenly sea? Some solid sky proponents seem to believe so, because if the windows of heaven are literal, then the doors must be as well.16 Nonsense. This is clearly metaphorical language.

Moreover, this psalm specifically connects the opening of heaven’s doors with God’s command to the ‘skies’ (Hebrew shehaqim). The term shehaqim often means ‘clouds’ (e.g. Job 38:37) and may carry that meaning in this instance. It is translated as ‘clouds’ in this passage by the HCSB, NASB, NET, and NKJV. But even when shehaqim does not refer to clouds, it typically refers to open skies.

Walton has a peculiar view that shehaqim refers to multiple solid barriers separating different levels of heaven,17 but this is untenable. In Deuteronomy 33:26 God is said to ride both the ‘heavens’ and the shehaqim. The preposition is not supplied in the Hebrew, but it could mean that God rides in, on, across, or through these things. In any case, God is not riding around on multiple solid floors of heaven beyond where the Israelites could see. His practice of riding through the sky is a common motif in Scripture, and He is always depicted as riding in the visible heavens—through the air on wind, clouds, and flying cherubim (see table and discussion in section 5). So, shehaqim, in both Deuteronomy 33:26 and Psalm 78:23–24, would have been understood by God’s people as either ‘clouds’ or ‘spacious skies’, not solid dividers between various heavens. Hence, it is most natural to understand the doors of heaven metaphorically.

Besides that, other passages using the exact phrase ‘windows of heaven’ outside of the Flood account reveal that these windows can deliver intangible things like ‘a blessing’ (Malachi 3:10) or various kinds of judgment (Isaiah 24:18). Also, when “the heavens were opened” in Ezekiel 1:1, God could be seen. Invisible and intangible things like these cannot be kept in storage rooms above a solid vault and accessed through physical openings, as the Israelites well knew. Once again, all indications point to the metaphorical nature of heaven’s windows.

9. When the heavens are ‘shut up’, all rain ceases.

The Bible not only refers to the heavens being opened, but also shut.18 If solid-sky advocates were consistent, they would see these as references to the closing of literal sky hatches, not the prevention of rain from clouds per se. In that case, clouds would still be able to drop the water they had stored up before their supply from above was cut off. Furthermore, if clouds were known to accumulate water without help from an upper sea as some of the above principles argued, then there is even less reason to think they would be affected by the sealing up of that alleged sky sea. Yet the Bible makes clear that the shutting of the sky entails that all rain ceases.

“The fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained …” (Genesis 8:2).

“… then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the Lord is giving you” (Deuteronomy 11:17).

“When heaven is shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against you, if they pray toward this place and acknowledge your name and turn from their sin, when you afflict them …” (1 Kings 8:35; cf. 2 Chronicles 6:26).

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain …” (2 Chronicles 7:13).

The rain stopped altogether because, to say that ‘heaven is shut up’ or that ‘the windows of the heavens were closed’ just meant that clouds would no longer give rain. Actual trap doors in a sky roof were never intended.

10. When clouds do not rain, all rain ceases.

In Isaiah 6, God tells a parable about a vineyard which represents Israel and Judah. He speaks words of judgment against the vineyard, including this statement:

“I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it” (Isaiah 5:6).

The implication is that the vineyard would receive no rain at all. To accomplish this goal, God only issued a command to the clouds. He did not also command the windows of the sky to close in order to prevent rain from this alleged second source. But this is not because the sky windows were permanently closed since the Flood, as Seely would have it. We have already seen that Seely’s proposal is hopelessly inconsistent with all the other references to the heavens being open and shut at other times. Rather, the most natural conclusion is that God uttered no separate command to sky windows because there was no need. The Israelites knew that rain comes from clouds alone.

11. Counterfactual statements about the creation of heavenly windows shows they were not believed to actually exist.

One remaining passage that speaks explicitly of windows in heaven actually argues against their literal existence. The following question is put to Elisha:

“If the Lord himself should make windows in heaven, could this thing be?” (2 Kings 7:2; cf. 2 Kings 7:19).

Solid-sky advocates cite this passage as evidence for their view.19 But if ancient readers thought that the sky already contained windows, then it makes little sense to consider a hypothetical scenario in which God might have to create windows in order to shower down blessings from above. Rather, this passage militates against the idea of literal sky windows. The speaker took it for granted that currently there were no windows in heaven, and even the hypothetical ones he entertained could be non-literal. It would be like saying, ‘If God would drill some holes through these clouds, we could see the sun.’ Such a statement would neither prove that clouds already had holes drilled, nor that clouds are made of a solid substance capable of being drilled. The statement is meant to be a vivid word-picture and nothing more. So it is with windows in heaven.

Conclusion

The foregoing arguments should make it clear that Scripture’s ‘windows of heaven’ must be understood contextually as metaphors for the regulation of heavenly provisions, including rain from clouds. When one interprets the Bible through a prejudicial ‘ancient cosmology’ filter, one winds up distorting the Bible’s true meaning. Turning the windows into physical objects over-complicates the biblical picture of the heavens and undermines the plain sense of its many colourful references to clouds and weather. The biblical authors were not advancing bogus ANE perspectives in their usage of idioms, so scholars should stop accusing them of being so naive. As far as the ‘windows of heaven’ go, the Bible’s use of the phrase is an example of literary artistry, and it is perfectly consistent with everything man has since discovered to be true about the structure and behaviour of the cosmos.

Posted on homepage: 8 July 2022

References and notes

  1. Seely, P.H., The Firmament and the Water Above, part II: the meaning of “The Water above the Firmament” in Genesis 1:6–8, WTJ 54:31, 1992. Return to text.
  2. Greenwood, K., Scripture and Cosmology, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, pp. 55, 82–85, 95–97, 2015. Return to text.
  3. Walton, J.H., Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI, pp. 168–170, 2006. Return to text.
  4. See also similar points admirably made by Poythress, V.S., Interpreting Eden, Crossway, Wheaton, IL, ch. 9, 2019, and my review: Halley, K., Keen insights into Genesis 1–3 flawed by analogical days approach, J. Creation 33(3):14–18, December 2019. Return to text.
  5. Isaiah 45:8 likely furnishes a second example. The ESV renders this: “Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down righteousness.” It is true that this Hebrew term for ‘clouds’ (shehaqim) can also be translated as ‘skies’ in some contexts. Yet the primary meaning of the term is ‘clouds’ and the context of Isaiah 45:8 favours that option. Walton argues against the translation of shehaqim as clouds, but I address his view under principle 8. Return to text.
  6. The few references to the ‘windows of heaven’ occur more frequently in narrative passages than poetic ones, but it is the particulars of the immediate context that favour a figurative meaning, not the genre of the text as a whole. Return to text.
  7. Walton, ref. 3, p. 170. Return to text.
  8. Greenwood, ref. 2, pp. 96, 117. Return to text.
  9. This symbolism may even have had a polemical purpose against various weather gods of antiquity, like Ba’al, who are similarly described in contemporary pagan literature with epithets such as ‘Rider of the Clouds’. Return to text.
  10. They also knew that bodies of water could dry up (Isaiah 19:5; Nahum 1:4). Return to text.
  11. Job 36:27 may also allude to water ascending from earth to become clouds, if it is meant to convey the idea that God “draws up the drops of water” (ESV). Though that is a possible rendering, the term ‘up’ is not present in the Hebrew. The verb means ‘withdraw’. Given the parallel line which speaks of distilling (filtering), I think the more likely meaning here is that God draws raindrops out of a cloud, not up into one. Return to text.
  12. Greenwood, ref. 2, p. 96. Return to text.
  13. Stadelmann, L.I.J., The Hebrew Conception of the World, Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome, pp. 115–116, 1970. Return to text.
  14. Greenwood, ref. 2, pp. 95–97. Return to text.
  15. Seely, ref. 1, p. 34. But there is tension even within this paper as Seely later cites some rabbis who speculated that clouds received water from the upper sea (p. 37). Presumably, Seely would reject this supposition. Return to text.
  16. Stadelmann, ref. 13, p. 125. Return to text.
  17. Walton, J.H., Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake, IN, pp. 155–161, 2011. Return to text.
  18. The Hebrew verb atsar ( רָצָע ), which is used in 4 out of 5 passages cited here, has the primary meaning of ‘hold back’, but can also mean ‘close, shut up’. Botterweck, G.J., Ringgren, H., and Fabry, H. (Eds.), Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, vol. 11, Eerdmans, Cambridge, UK, p. 311, 2000. Return to text.
  19. Greenwood, ref. 2, p. 97. Return to text.

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