Whenever we desire to seriously study a Bible passage it is usually best to read the passage over several times and mediate upon it, and as we stated before, it is also helpful to read this text from other translations.
6. Then God said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters."
7. And God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse, and it was so.
8. And God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
On the first day the earth was predominantly a watery mass. Here as we enter the second day we hear God's command, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters".
Verse 6 tells us that this expanse was formed in the midst of the waters, for there was water both above and below the expanse.
In verse 7 we see that God separated the waters from below the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse.
The existence of these two groupings of waters will play a very important role in our understand of the Flood.
It is also important to our understanding of this phase of creation to point out that there was no rain yet on the earth. See Genesis 2:5-6.
5. Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground.
6. But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.
Nor was there yet a rainbow, which there would have been from time to time if there was rain and sun shine. This did not occur until after the Flood. See Genesis 9:13.
13. I set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign for a covenant between Me and the earth.
The waters above were therefore above the expanse, or atmosphere, far enough to have no effect on the weather, as we know it today.
It is doubtful that there were even towering clouds at this time before the Flood, for that would have drawn up dust particles into the atmosphere, causing the moisture to condense into rain. Nor was there likely any high overcast, for that would have blocked out the sunlight.
There was more than likely, a thick haze, or the haze coupled with an upper water layer, which is even more likely. The world was being created much like a greenhouse.
The waters above had to be like a giant canopy around the earth.
Now let's assume that what we have just said is true, then we would also expect the following conditions to exist:
The atmospheric pressure would be much greater than it is now, perhaps several times as great, for the weight of the water would be added to the weight of the air.
The air would be more dense, as the weight of the waters above would compress the atmosphere.
There would be no wind, or very little wind, except perhaps at the zone between light and darkness as the earth rotated, and consequently not dust particles in the air on which the moisture could condense, thus no rain.
The watering of the ground would be by mist, or dew, or from the ground itself by capillary action.
There would be very little radiation coming into the earth, thus less illness, and longer life.
What we are seeing is against the physical laws of nature, as they exist today. In the formation, an air layer could not exist in the midst of two water layers. The air would rise to the surface. Even if the water were in the form of vapor it would mix with the air, and would eventually condense or freeze into clouds at the appropriate altitude, which would in turn block the sun light. What we are seeing can only be the actual formation of the spiritual into the visible and physical world. It is being held in place by the power of God.
Before leaving this portion of our study, we should take a look at the Hebrew words for water and heaven.
The word for water is mah-yeem, which is always written in the plural form, for we cannot picture a single water molecule, but many. It is interesting that the Hebrew expresses this idea thousands of years before we even understood that molecules existed.
The word for heaven is shaw-mah-yeem, which means "carry water" or "there is water". But if we look further into the word structure it can mean a combination of fire and water aysh (fire) mah-yeem (water). The eleventh century Jewish commentator Rashi says that God mixed the fire and water together and made the heavens.
From a scientific point of view, a water molecule is made of two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen. If hydrogen is burned in the presence of oxygen, the by-product is water.
Also from a scientific point of view, we can look at fire as being in the fusion process of the sun, where intense heat fuses hydrogen into helium and other elements. Many scientists believe that this is the way that all of the elements came into being. This is even more interesting when viewed along side Rashi's comments.
It is little things like this in the Bible that convince me that the hand of God (the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) was present in its writing, for the scientific understanding of the word structure was not evident at the time of the writing. But as we look back with our scientific knowledge at this word structure, we come face to face with a spiritual understanding of the creation process as much as with a physical understanding.
Also in verse 8, note that we are told that "there was evening and there was morning, a second day." This is a true day of one rotation of the earth. But, we also must remember, that since most of the water of the earth is in the canopy, the rotation of the earth would be slower. This can be visually observed with an ice skater doing a point spin. When the skater's arms are extended, they rotate at one speed, but when they tuck in their arms, they spin with much greater speed. This is because the center of gravity is closer to the center of spin.
Thus the earth's rotation would be slower, and the days longer than they are today, and this leads us to all kinds of other possibilities, without changing scripture.
Take for example, Methuselah, the oldest man recorded in the Bible, and note what we are told in Genesis 5:27.
27. So all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years, and he died.
Note that it says, "all the days"; could it not also be that if the days were twice as long as they are today, that he could have actually been twice as old?
Allow Scripture to expand your mind, and not limit it. As God is without limit, so is what He gives us. The only limitation to our thought and imagination is that all must be in harmony, as is all of God's work and word.
l Morris, Henry B., The Genesis Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings, (Grand Rapids, Baker Book House, 1976), 59-61.