Isaiah 40:22 - Circle of the earth

Jack Kilmon jkilmon at
Thu Jul 18 11:54:43 EDT 2002

----- Original Message -----
From: "Lisbeth S. Fried" <lizfried at>
To: "Biblical Hebrew" <b-hebrew at>
Sent: Thursday, July 18, 2002 9:57 AM
Subject: RE: Isaiah 40:22 - Circle of the earth

> >
> > <Liz>
> > >>Perhaps you mean the land of ISRAEL here.
> >
> > <Bill>
> > I'm not sure of what the proper term is. I mean, what was is
> > the generic
> > name for the area, regardless of political control? In other
> > words, when
> > Abraham was a stranger in "the land", what was it called?
> > That is why I
> > chose the word Palestine, hoping I had chosen the word that
> > referred to
> > it as a region, not as a Jewish holding.
> Then it was Canaan.
> However, Deutero-Isaiah referred to the God of Israel,
> and to the Land of Israel.
> If we're talking about Isaiah, and if we're talking about
> the *Biblical* writers, it should surely be called Israel.
> If you refer to particular areas, you could distinguish
> Judah and Samaria. If you refer to "Palestine" then you
> refer to the coastal areas, controlled by the Philistines
> during the 11th century.
> And if Lemche objects, he has not shown that Herodotus,
> writing in the 5th century, refers to more than the coast
> when he refers to Palestine. If you refer to the land under
> the Persians, you could refer to the province of Yehud,
> or the satrapy of Beyond the River. If under the Romans,
> you could refer to Coele-Syria (All or Greater Syria).
> However, if you refer to the *modern* state, then it is still
> Israel, it has not yet been partitioned.

I think a good handle on the 8th century BCE ANE image of the cosmos sheds
light on Isaiah 40:22.

[It is] he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants
thereof [are] as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain,
and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

ol chug ha-aretz is the encircled or encompassed land.  Turn around and look
in all directions and all of the land is covered by a dome..a vault..a
Raqiya that is a solid, hammered out structure and above which are waters
that "leak out" as rain and under which are hung the lights of the stars,
moon, sun, etc.  The concept of the heavens shemayim is all of
creation...not a cozy cloud in the sky relete with harps.  God sits above
all this and looks down at us as if we were grasshoppers.  This was not a
geo-political referent.


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