In the six hundredth year of Noah`s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. (ASV)
Response to "Con" piece: While isolated occurrences of such phrases could be dismissed as "metaphorical", it is important to note that the Hebrews actually believed that the Earth was flat and covered by a solid dome. This is the worldview referred to consistently throughout the Bible, from Genesis right through to Revelation, and in extra-Biblical texts too. This is the worldview they inherited from the Sumerians. Thus, it is entirely reasonable to suppose that such remarks were intended literally in Genesis and other early books (though, as Revelation is apparently an entirely allegorical story relating to the contemporary Roman Empire, the use of metaphor is quite plausible there). --Robert Stevens 07:41, 14 Nov 2005 (CST)
Two verses will illustrate the effect that PRO fails to understand.
You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side... (Genesis 6:16)
In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. (Genesis 7:11; second use in 8:2)
The Hebrew word used in the first verse (6:16) is that used to describe the opening in a house or wall in which a window is placed that allows a person to look through to the outside. The word is used consistently in this fashion.
The Hebrew word used in the second verses (7:11; 8:2) is a different word and is used rarely in the Old Testament. Some of the instances in which it is used seem to draw on the metaphor used in these verse (2 Kings 7:2,19; Isaiah 24:18; Malachi 3:10). It also is used to refer to a person's eyes (Ecclesiastes 12:3), of the lattices in which doves might roost (Isaiah 60:8), and of a chimney through which smoke pours (Hosea 13:3).
From the unique use of the different Hebrew words, the reader gets the picture of the rain falling as though it is pouring through a lattice with many openings rather than a solid stream as from a window in the house. The author clearly chooses not to use the illustration of a window in a house, or the ark as in 6:16. The illustration is that of a lattice from which water pours from many openings.
The author of Genesis is not concerned here with the shape or texture of the firmament but with the nature and quantity of the rain that pours down. The author writes as one who experiences the downpour and uses language to show that it is not isolated to one area but encompasses the whole landscape, as far as can be seen, and is a heavy downpour. The reader easily visualizes that which the author experiences.
Do you have similar problems with every poetical or metaphorical expression, or just with the claim that there are such in the Bible? --jjmarkka 09:13, 11 Nov 2005 (CST)
Response to Pro: To assume that the Bible reflects the opinion of the Hebrews is not illogical, but one has to consider places that it doesn't, mainly along religious dissention. Of course, this is a whole different category, mixed with, if an errantist position is assumed, political and religious motives, whereas metaphysical principles would have little need to be changed/disagreed with. However, it simply shows that the former is not impossible.
Second, it is arguable as to how a flat Earth can be believed by ancients to support itself on "nothing" (Job 26:7), and the fact that the flat-earth cosmology (Job 38:13) is clearly used as a metaphor (Job 38:37).
Edit this section to note miscellaneous facts.