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The firmament is the sky. It is debated on whether the term can be interpreted to mean expanse or whether it should be translated to mean a solid dome.[1] Many modern translations translate the Hebrew word as "expanse," but the King James Bible translates the word as firmament.[1] According to Genesis in the KJV version, God created the firmament to separate the "waters above" the earth from those below: "And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters."[2] The word is anglicized from Latin firmamentum, which appears in the Vulgate. This, in turn, is a Latinization of the Greek stereōma, used in the Septuagint.

Hebrew name
Hebrew רָקִיעַ
Romanization raqiya`
Strong number H7549
Greek name
Greek στερέωμα
Romanization stereōma
Strong number G4733

Nearly all pre-scientific peoples believed that the sky was a solid dome.[1] "Firm is the sky and firm is the earth," according the Rig Veda, an Indian scripture.[3]

Augustine wrote that too much learning had been expended speculating on the nature of the firmament.[4] John Calvin proposed that firmament be interpreted as clouds. But he did not commit himself to this explanation: "As it became a theologian, [Moses] had to respect us rather than the stars."[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Is the raqiya‘ (‘firmament’) a solid dome? Equivocal language in the cosmology of Genesis 1 and the Old Testament: a response to Paul H. Seely by James Patrick Holding
  2. Genesis 1:6
  3. "The Firmament and the Water Above", Westminster Theological Journal, 53 (1991), 232–233.
  4. Grant, Edward, Planets, stars, and orbs: the medieval cosmos, 1200-1687. p. 335.
  5. Calvin, comment on verse 1:15.