[b-hebrew] Sky (from Rolf Furuli)

TedBro at aol.com TedBro at aol.com
Sat Sep 1 08:49:26 EDT 2012

Dear Ted, 

Something strange is happening at the ibiblio.org. at the  moment. My posts 
do not go through, and the same is true for others. Moreover, I  do not get 
all the posts that are sent to the list. If you have access, please  send 
my attached post to the list.

Best regards,

Rolf  Furuli

Dear Ted,

There are several  interesting observations in your post. I would like to 
look more closely at the  term "metaphor."

One definition of this term is: "A metaphor is a word  which is used to 
show the resemblance between things of some similar character.  Metaphor 
compares two things so that one thing is called as the other thing  without the 
use of words like or as which are used for comparison in the case of  simile."

Your example of metaphors from Deuteronomy is excellent, and it  fits the 
definition above—one thing is called as the other one. But what about  the 
"foundations" in Psalm 104:5 (NIV): "He set the earth on its foundations  
(MKWN); it can never be moved."? Is this a metaphor? We can compare these words  
with Psalm 89:15 (NIV): "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of 
your  throne." From the last quote we learn that the word MKWN needs not refer 
to  something that is solid, but still it is used in the sense of a support 
of  something. Therefore, I am inclined to take MKWN in a literal sense in 
Psalm  104:5. In no way would I say that the writer of this Psalm held the 
modern view  of our solar system. Nevertheless, our earth can be said to have 
a MKWN, because  gravity keeps it in its orbit. So, Psalm 104:5 needs not 
refer to literal  pillars or to a solid foundation, but it simply may show 
that the earth stands  in a fixed position by the power of God. From this 
point of view MKWN is not a  metaphor.

In a similar vay I would argue about RQY( in Genesis 1:6-8.  When it is 
said that the heavens will become brass, the one thing (the sky) is  called 
like the other one (brass). Thus, "brass" is a metaphor. But I do not see  the 
same in the use of RQYA, because this word need not always refer to  
something that is solid. I see no reason to conclude that the writer does not  
describe what happened during each "day" in a literal way. He tells that the  
RQY( was formed, and that there was water below and above this RQY(. Later the 
 writer tells that the water above the RQY( fell down in the days of Noah. 
Again  the writer uses a literal language—one thing is not called the other 

When we entertain a clear distinction between literal language,  metaphor, 
and simile, we may avoid several problems. For example, we have the  word 
YWM that is used several times. This word is used with three different  
temporal references in Genesis 1 and 2, and a literal understanding of the word  
needs not require that we believe that each day lasted 24 hours.

Best  regards,

Rolf  Furuli

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