- Christogenea Saturdays
The Flat-Earth Bible?
Tonight we are going to talk about Flat-Earth verses from the Bible. Some of these verses are also used to promote a geocentric view of the universe. So let me first state that Flat-Earth proponents usually also support geocentrism, but geocentrism does not necessarily require a flat earth, so the two concepts are separate. But we do not actually intend to discuss the merits or shortcomings of either of these theories. Here we only plan to discuss many of the Bible verses used to uphold these theories, and interpret what we believe these verses are really saying. It is more important to do this, as it should help to lay a solid foundation for real scriptural understanding.
Quite unfortunately, there is also a hollow-earth theory floating around Christian Identity circles. It is based on a spurious so-called secret diary that claims to be from Admiral Byrd and supposedly records observations he made while crossing the South Pole. Of course, the hollow-earthers in Christian Identity usually fail to mention the German U-boat sailor Karl Unger’s claim to have found “Rainbow Island” in the Hollow Earth at the South Pole, or the story of supposed Air Force Colonel Billie Woodward, that he and his sister were born in the Hollow Earth, and that both of them were hermaphrodites. The Hollow Earth tales are as Kosher as one can get, and when you combine them with the claims of a Flat Earth you rather appropriately end up with a bagel. Being Identity Christians, we should have a greater care to prove what is true, reject Jewish fables, and avoid swallowing such bagels.
To be candid, I will say that I personally do not believe that the earth is flat, and I have a series of photographs which I myself have taken and have posted at the Christogenea Forum which call into question many of the claims of flat-earthers. But that is not our purpose here. Rather, here we are only going to examine certain Biblical passages which flat-earthers use to claim that the Bible teaches that the earth is flat, along with passages used by geocentrists, and show that they certainly do not support those ideas at all.
Furthermore, I also doubt that the earth is the center of the universe, but that is entirely immaterial to our conversation this evening, and neither is it relevant to the Flat-Earth debate. Scripture is certainly the inspired Word of Yahweh our God, but it is written from visions given to men, and it is written from the perspective of men. Even proponents of the heliocentric system may say that the sun moves, or rises, or sets, because that is the perspective which we have as mere men standing on the surface of the earth, regardless of the perceived shape of the earth, or regardless of whether geocentrism is true. So these statements in Scripture cannot be used to prove a thesis on astrophysics.
Before we continue, I must also note that on Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America will be able to witness an eclipse of the sun. Much of the continental United States will be within what is called the path of totality, and will be able to see a total or near-total solar eclipse. This path, where the moon will completely cover the sun, will stretch from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Just outside of this path a partial solar eclipse may be observed, where the moon covers part of the sun's disk. People in southern Canada and New England will see 75 to 90 percent of the eclipse, and people from Southern California to Florida will also see 75 to 90 percent of the eclipse, from the opposite side of the path. But for at least many Flat-Earthers, the eclipse cannot happen, so maybe you should remain indoors on that day and you will be able to remain in denial. The eclipse helps to demonstrate that the sun and moon are not fixed to a solid dome at the top of the sky, and do not reside at the same fixed altitude, among other things.
But I digress, and we are here this evening to talk about the Flat-Earth Bible. In truth, the Bible does not teach that the earth is flat, but neither does it teach that the earth is a sphere. There is little evidence that the Scriptures even reflect a cognizance of the structure of the universe from a scientific viewpoint which is outside of the immediate earthly perception of man, and even the inspired Word of God is written from within man’s perception. The Bible may have an account of Creation, but that account is given as a poetic allegory, and not a scientific manual.
For example, Flat-Earthers maintain that the sun, moon and stars are fixed within a physical dome which is stretched out over the entire earth. They use Genesis 1:14-15 to help establish this claim, where it says “14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.” This is said to have happened on the fourth day of Creation. Then they claim that because the heavens were created after the earth, that the objects in the heavens must be small relative to the size of the earth, and must exist dependent upon the structure of the earth itself.
But there is a problem with their interpretation. Reading this passage by itself, the Flat-Earthers ignore the fact that God had created light and darkness and separated day and night on the first day of Creation, and on the third day we read “11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.”
Now plants cannot possibly exist and grow and multiply without light, and particularly sunlight. The photosynthesis of sunlight is an absolute necessity to plant life, so the existence of the sun is a prerequisite to the creation of the plants. Therefore the description of the creation of the sun and moon and stars on the fourth day cannot be literal. Rather, it is a poetic allegory describing the order of Creation from the perspective of an earthly man, but it is not a literal Scientific account, so it cannot be used to prove or disprove any particular scientific theory.
One Flat-Earth article on the internet, titled The Flat-Earth Bible by Robert J. Schadewald, gives only a partial recounting of the opening “days” of the Genesis creation. Here we will address this and many other aspects of Schadewald's article, as it seems to be a popular source that is fairly representative of the claims for a Flat-Earth Bible. Here is what Schadewald says about the opening verses of the Creation account:
The Genesis creation story provides the first key to the Hebrew cosmology. The order of creation makes no sense from a conventional perspective but is perfectly logical from a flat-earth viewpoint. The earth was created on the first day, and it was “without form and void (Genesis 1:2).” On the second day, a vault the “firmament” of the King James version was created to divide the waters, some being above and some below the vault. Only on the fourth day were the sun, moon, and stars created, and they were placed “in” (not “above”) the vault.
Notice how Schadewald completely ignored the creation of light and darkness, day and night on the first day? Then he also completely ignored the vegetation created on the third day! That vegetation could not have survived without sunlight, but admitting that would interrupt the plan of Schadewald’s agenda. So he is a dishonest interpreter, right from the beginning of his article.
Much ado is also made about Genesis 1:6 where it says “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” So some men even picture an ocean of water beyond the heavens. But as we shall see, the firmament is really only the sky, including the expanse of the heavens, and the waters above the firmament are only the cloud canopy, which the ancients surely perceived as the source of rain-water. If rain-water can fall through the firmament, then the firmament itself is not a solid object. Now as for the firmament, it says in Genesis chapter 1, in verse 8, that “… God called the firmament Heaven.”
So in the next section in his article Schadewald insists that the firmament is a dome in heaven with a solid physical structure. This is what he writes about the firmament:
The vault of heaven is a crucial concept. The word “firmament” appears in the King James version of the Old Testament 17 times, and in each case it is translated from the Hebrew word raqiya, which meant the visible vault of the sky. The word raqiya comes from riqqua, meaning “beaten out.” In ancient times, brass objects were either cast in the form required or beaten into shape on an anvil. A good craftsman could beat a lump of cast brass into a thin bowl. Thus, Elihu asks Job, “Can you beat out [raqa] the vault of the skies, as he does, hard as a mirror of cast metal (Job 37:18)?”
The use of this word vault may cause confusion, as it does not appear in the King James Version, but most people would agree that it sounds as if it is in there. That is because in some Bible translations the word vault appears in place of firmament. Other translations have expanse in place of firmament. So we must know that as they appear in various passages of Scripture, these words are all basically synonyms to one another, they are all used to translate the Hebrew word raqiya, in perhaps seventeen passages of Scripture, and with that we must understand that the vault which Schadewald describes is the firmament of the King James Version, and it is not something separate from or in addition to the firmament.
Schadewald is correct that in the definition of raqiya in Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon (# 7549) that the word comes from raqaʻ (# 7554), which is defined by Strong as “to pound the earth ... by analogy, to expand (by hammering); by implication to overlay (with thin sheets of metal)”. Strong’s also notes that in the King James Version the word is variously translated as beat, make broad, spread abroad, and stretch, among other uses in other contexts. So it is evident that raqiya is only derived from raqaʻ because of the action implied by the word, and not because of the substance which is being spread. It describes the action of spreading something out. For example, another word that is related to raqaʻ is raqiyq (# 7550) which is a thin cake or wafer, where we can imagine pancake batter spreading as it hits the pan, or raqam (# 7551) or riqmah (# 7553) which both refer to embroidery, as we may refer to a bed-spread or to a blanket as a spread. The ultimate root of all of these words is raq (# 7535), which means thin, emaciated or flattened. Embroidered works and pancakes are not metallic objects which are beaten out by hand, so we cannot rightly insist that the firmament, or raqiya, is a metal object beaten out by hand. The writer is confusing the true concept of the meaning of the word.
As we have already mentioned, in Genesis 1:8 the Scripture clearly says that “God called the firmament (the raqiya, or vault in some translations) Heaven”, and therefore the firmament is the expanse of space, or even the expanse of the sky itself. This is readily demonstrable, since we see references to the “birds of heaven” in Scripture. Speaking of the desolation coming upon Jerusalem, Jeremiah (4:25-26) wrote “25 I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. 26 I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger.” In 2 Samuel 21:10 we see a reference to the “birds of the air” and the word for air is shamayim, which is usually translated as heaven in the King James Version and which is the word appearing as Heaven in Genesis 1:8. The same phrase, “birds of the air”, appears several times in the Greek New Testament, where the word for air is οὐρανός (ouranos), a word which usually translated as heaven elsewhere in the King James Version.
So Schadewald errs where he continues and says:
Elihu's question shows that the Hebrews considered the vault of heaven a solid, physical object. Such a large dome would be a tremendous feat of engineering.
Schadewald is trying to prove that the “vault of heaven” is a separate object from the heaven itself, which is the expanse of the sky. He has not one verse that supports his thesis. Moreover, notice the switch he is trying to pull without his readers’ notice. Genesis says that the vault, or firmament, is the heaven, and Schadewald is describing a vault in the heavens, which the Scriptures do not describe. This is disingenuous, since the Scripture says in Genesis 1:8 that the firmament, or raqiya, is the heaven, or the expanse of the sky. Schadewald wants it both ways, but the Bible does not give it to him both ways. But let us see once more the passage which he cites, which is Job 37:18: “Can you beat out [raqa] the vault of the skies, as he does, hard as a mirror of cast metal?” For this, the King James Version reads: “18 Hast thou with him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as a molten looking glass?” The translation of the Greek by Brenton in his edition of the Septuagint reads: “Wilt thou establish with him foundations for the ancient heavens? they are strong as a molten mirror.” The New American Standard Bible has it to say “Can you, with Him, spread out the skies, Strong as a molten mirror?” In any case, the word for strong may have been rendered as mighty or powerful. Again we see the concept of something molten, which spreads when it is poured. But Schadewald chose a translation which lent the most credibility to his theory. In any case, since he can not rightly unequate his vault to the heavens, as Yahweh equates them in Genesis, how do birds fly around in or how does rain pass through a solid object? In truth, Schadewald’s assertions are ludicrous.
In truth, in this passage of Job, the verb raqaʻ better fits the context when it is rendered as spread, not as beat, as the word bears either sense. Elihu was making a poetic allegory, and used a play on words, employing both raqaʻ and raqiya, something which poets often do, and Biblical poets are no exception – rather, they pioneered the technique. Other poetic allegories of the creation of the same heavens help to further prove this point. In Psalm 104, speaking of Yahweh, David says “2 Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain”. Here the words for stretch and curtain are from Hebrews words totally unrelated to either raqaʻ or raqiya. Then in Isaiah chapter 40 we read “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”. We will discuss this passage again later, in reference to the “circle of the earth”, however where it says “stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain”, we see a similar statement to which David had used, but the word curtain is from yet another Hebrew word.
If in the Book of Job Elihu is describing a solid metal object, then David and Isaiah are liars, the heavens were not stretched out like curtains. The description of Creation by Elihu, as Schadewald interprets it, is contrary to the descriptions by David and Isaiah. This is the foolishness of insisting that a poetic allegory must describe a literal truth. In reality, interpreting raqaʻ in its alternate sense, to spread, and raqiya as something which is spread out, as we have demonstrated in the citations we have just provided, then Elihu, David and Isaiah are all in perfect agreement, although they chose to use different poetic allegories to describe an aspect of Yahweh’s creation from the perspective of men. [Schadewald is a perfect example of why I have so much despite for Flat-Earthers.]
So in the very next lines of his paper, Schadewald goes on to somehow prove his point with a list of verses that do not even contain the same language that Elihu had used, where he himself uses a pun, employing the word hammered, and he says:
The Hebrews (and supposedly Yahweh Himself) considered it exactly that, and this point [that the vault, or firmament of heaven, is a metallic dome] is hammered home by five scriptures:
Job 9:8, “...who by himself spread out the heavens [shamayim]...” [King James Version: “Which alone spreadeth out the heavens...”]
Right here, the use of the word natah (Strong’s # 5186), which is spreadeth out in the King James Version and in the version Schadewald cites, also proves that in the words of Elihu the verb raqaʻ should be interpreted in the sense of spreading an object. This word natah is also the verb used of the stretching of the heavens as curtains in Psalm 104 and Isaiah 40.
Psalm 19:1, “The heavens [shamayim] tell out the glory of God, the vault of heaven [raqiya] reveals his handiwork.” [King James Version: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” So we again see that the vault is the firmament, which Yahweh says in Genesis 1:8 is the Heaven itself.]
The reference to the heavens and the firmament here are not to two different objects. Rather, this is a Hebrew parallelism, both phrases describing the same object in different ways. The Psalm cannot be interpreted so as to force a conflict with Genesis 1:8. Continuing with Schadewald's list:
Psalm 102:25, “...the heavens [shamayim] were thy handiwork.” [King James Version: “...the heavens are the work of thy hands.”]
- Isaiah 45:12, “I, with my own hands, stretched out the heavens [shamayim] and caused all their host to shine...” [King James Version: “I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.”]
Again, the verb for stretch is natah, and not raqaʻ. According to Strong’s, the word natah is to stretch or spread out, and that is how raqaʻ should also be interpreted in the words of Elihu. One passage of Scripture does not make a theses on astrophysics. But all of these other passages employed by Schadewald prove our point, that he is wrong about the words of Elihu.
Isaiah 48:13, “...with my right hand I formed the expanse of the sky [shamayim]...” [King James Version: “and my right hand hath spanned the heavens:”]
It is not the “expanse in the sky”, it is the “expanse of the sky”. In other words, the sky itself is the expanse, just as Genesis 1:8 informs us that “God called the firmament Heaven”, using that same word, shamayim.
From these passages I cannot determine how the author insists that the “vault” of the heavens, called the firmament in the King James Version, must be “a solid, physical object”. That the birds are called the “birds of heaven” shows that the heaven – which is the firmament – is an empty expanse, and not a solid physical dome. Schadewald cannot have it both ways, because the Scripture itself informs us that they are one and the same. None of these passages prove his position, except by his own misunderstanding of the word raqiya as he insists that it be related to metalwork, where it only relates to the concept of something spread out, as we have demonstrated in its relations to terms for embroidery and cake-making as well as to the pounding out of metals, and as we have demonstrated here in many passages using different terms but describing the same act of Creation.
We will critique more of Schadewald’s paper, which is representative of many of the claims of Flat-Earthers, but first we shall discuss the Hebrew word for earth. There are actually four words which are translated as earth in the King James Version of the Old Testament, which are ʼerets, (Strong’s # 776), which is actually land, adamah (# 127), which is soil, yabbesheth (# 3007), which may refer to dry ground, and ʻaphar (# 6083) which is earth in the context of dust, clay, dirt or mud. We will focus upon ʼerets at length here.
This Hebrew word for earth simply refers to the land, and the Hebrew word which is often translated as world does not refer to the planet, as we shall soon see. First we may see that in the King James Version of the Bible, the word earth appears in Hebrew Scriptures of the Old Testament 794 times in 736 verses [according to the Bible Works software]. Then, opening a Strong’s Concordance to the word earth, we may see that on most of the occasions where the word appears, it is from the Hebrew word ʼerets, Strong’s # 776, which primarily means land.
In Genesis chapter 1, in verse 1, we see this word appear where earth is distinguished from heaven, but in verse 10 we see that the dry land is called earth, or ʼerets, and it is distinguished from the sea, although the sea is clearly part of the planet. Therefore it does not necessarily describe the entire planet, but only the portion of it which is not in the sea. So we cannot assume that wherever we see the word earth, it refers to the planet (whether the planet be flat or a sphere is irrelevant to these facts). The word land appears in the King James Version of the Old Testament nearly 1,700 times in 1,442 verses, and except for a few dozen occasions it is from the same word, ʼerets, Strong’s # 776. It is completely arbitrary as to whether the King James Version translators rendered it as earth or as land in any particular passage, and in the original Hebrew earth and land are equivalent in Scripture, and do not necessarily refer to the entire planet.
So here I am going to discuss a passage which is not mentioned by Schadewald, but which I have seen cited by both geocentrists and Flat-Earthers alike. That passage is found in 1 Samuel chapter 2: “7 The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. 8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD'S, and he hath set the world upon them. 9 He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. 10 The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.”
The simple-minded read verse 8 here and insist that the earth, meaning the planet, has literal pillars which hold it in place. But is that what is actually being said here? We read that “the pillars of the earth are Yahweh’s, and he hath set the world upon them”, but should this really be accepted so literally? First, the pillars are “of the earth”, and the “world” is set upon them, but not necessarily the earth, and world and earth are two entirely different things. The word for earth is ʼerets, or land, and the word for world is tebel, (Strong’s # 8398).
According to Strong’s Concordance, tebel means “the earth (as moist and therefore inhabited); by extension the globe; by implication its inhabitants; specifically a particular land, as Babylonia”, and Strong informs us that in the King James Version the word is translated as “habitable part” or “world”. Looking beyond Strong’s definitions to a more complete source, Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament further explains that tebel, # 8398, refers to the inhabitable parts of the earth, and only to the entire earth in certain given contexts. Strong’s definition suggests this as well where he says “specifically a particular land”. So where in 1 Samuel chapter 2 we see the word ʼerets, and tebel in the clause “the pillars of the earth are Yahweh’s, and he hath set the world upon them”, we must interpret these as a reference first to the whole land, and second to the inhabitable parts of the land – meaning the parts which the children of Israel were able to inhabit. This is made evident in the text of verse 9 where it says that “He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness” and “the adversaries of Yahweh shall be broken to pieces”. This is not a scientific treatise, but rather it is an assurance to the children of Israel of peace in their land, in spite of the other nations of the earth.
Understanding this, we must also understand that Hebrew writers commonly used parallelisms, whereby the same object or entity is described in two different ways consecutively. Where in verse 7 it speaks of the poor being lifted up and set amongst princes, it is speaking of the men whom God would have appointed as leaders among the children of Israel. These are also the “pillars of the earth” upon which the habitable world would rest: the leaders of Israel who Yahweh would use to ensure the living-space of His people! If we interpret this passage literally, the planet may be perceived to resemble a multi-tiered structure, sort of like a wedding cake rather than a bagel. Yet in Job it says that Yahweh “hangeth the earth upon nothing”, so it evidently does not need a literal foundation or literal pillars.
But if we interpret this allegorically, the passage makes perfect sense in the context in which it is found: as an assurance to the people of God that their society would have stability, and He would see to that through the appointment of men as pillars of that society. As for the phrase “pillar of society”, that term came into our language because at one time educated men knew exactly what Samuel was talking about.
With all of this in mind, we will return to Schadewald’s paper. It must be said that Schadewald correctly distinguishes between Flat-Earthers and geocentrists. However the passages he cites while making this distinction, found at the beginning of his paper, are cited frequently by Flat-Earthers because many Flat-Earthers are also geocentrists. So we will discuss those as well. From the second paragraph of his paper, Schadewald says:
Except among Biblical inerrantists, it is generally agreed that the Bible describes an immovable earth. At the 1984 National Bible-Science Conference in Cleveland, geocentrist James N. Hanson told me there are hundreds of scriptures that suggest the earth is immovable. I suspect some must be a bit vague, but here are a few obvious texts:
1 Chronicles 16:30: “He has fixed the earth firm, immovable.”
Psalm 93:1: “Thou hast fixed the earth immovable and firm ...”
Psalm 96:10: “He has fixed the earth firm, immovable ...”
Psalm 104:5: “Thou didst fix the earth on its foundation so that it never can be shaken.”
Isaiah 45:18: “...who made the earth and fashioned it, and himself fixed it fast...”
Suffice to say that the earth envisioned by flat-earthers is as immovable as any geocentrist could desire. Most (perhaps all) scriptures commonly cited by geocentrists have also been cited by flat-earthers. The flat-earth view is geocentricity with further restrictions.
Now we must challenge whether these passages which Schadewald has listed actually can be used to prove geocentricity, or whether they are actually saying something other than the common literal interpretations perceived when they are removed from their context. So we shall examine them one at a time, but we will read a more complete pericope of each passage so as to get the complete sense of what is being expressed.
From 1 Chronicles chapter 16: “29 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. 30 Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved. 31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, The LORD reigneth. 32 Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof: let the fields rejoice, and all that is therein. 33 Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the LORD, because he cometh to judge the earth.”
Here once again we see earth and world, ʼerets, and tebel, in the phrase “fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable”. Then where it says “let the sea roar” but “the fields rejoice” and “the trees of the wood sing”, neither can any of those phrases be taken literally. Rather, as we generally interpret such allegories from Genesis to Revelation, the sea is the general mass of the people, and here the fields and the trees, evidently referring to the people of Israel and the wider Adamic race, should rejoice at the coming judgement of God. The Adamic race is depicted as a forest of trees and the children of Adam as a planting of wheat in many other poetic allegories which are found in the prophets and the Gospel. So just as it was in 1 Samuel chapter 2, the land, or earth, is all of the land where the world is that part inhabited by the children of Israel. So all the earth is beckoned to fear Yahweh, but the world, or the inhabited earth occupied by the people of God, shall be stable – because Yahweh shall ensure that His people are safe. This we read just a couple of verses later where it says “35 And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, and glory in thy praise.”
Now from Psalm 93 we read: “1 The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved. 2 Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting. 3 The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves. 4 The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea. 5 Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thine house, O LORD, for ever.”
In the Psalm, if the floods are literal waters, the Psalmist should have no fear, as Yahweh had promised in Genesis chapter 9 never again to destroy man with a flood of water. But if the floods are all of the alien peoples, the Psalmist appeals to Yahweh with a prayer of stability for the people of Israel in spite of the other races and says “the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved. 2 Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting.” The world, the land inhabited by the children of Israel, is established, and Yahweh the God of Israel will rule, in spite of the floods, which are the other peoples of the earth.
From Psalm 96 we read: “9 O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth. 10 Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously. 11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof.” And once again, the Pslam should be interpreted as an appeal to God, that the land of Israel would be stable, that the Israelite society would be stable, and it has nothing to do with the physical structure of the entire planet. It is simply a poetic allegory which makes a prayer that the people of God would have peace in their habitation, in spite of the roaring of the sea.
From Psalm 104, again speaking of Yahweh: “3 Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind: 4 Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire: 5 Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever. 6 Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains. 7 At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away. 8 They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them. 9 Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.”
Here in Psalm 104 it seems to refer to the planet where it says in verse 5 “laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever”, but that is not so. It cannot be so because in verses 6 and 7 it contrasts the earth with the seas and it says, speaking of the same earth, “6 Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains. 7 At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.” So what we actually see in this Psalm is a comparison of the land covered by the flood of Noah to the waters which covered that land. After the flood of Noah, there was a promise never to flood the land with water again, recorded at Genesis 9:11. The reference to the “foundations of the earth” must therefore be a reference to the time of Noah, where Yahweh said in Genesis 9:13 “I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.”
The word for foundations in Psalm 104 is from the Hebrew makown (Strong’s # 4349) which means a fixture or a basis as well as a place or an abode. So the foundations are not great cement or stone blocks upon which the planet rests, as the flat-earthers and geocentrists may insist. Rather, the foundations are only the basis in God’s word that the land would not again be flooded and all mankind destroyed. This is evident where it is speaking of the waters in verses 8 and 9 and it says “Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.”
Finally, we read in Isaiah chapter 45: “18 For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.”
Now where the King James Version has “established”, the version which Schadewald cites has “fixed it fast”, and again he selected the Bible translation best suited to support his peculiar opinions. But the word for established is kuwn (Strong’s # 3559), and it does not imply that something cannot move, or even that something is “fixed fast”, as if with a hammer and nails. Strong’s says that the word properly means “to be erect (i.e. stand perpendicular); hence (causatively) to set up, in a great variety of applications, whether literal (establish, fix, prepare, apply), or figurative (appoint, render sure, proper or prosperous).” He then gives a wide array of translations for the word which were employed in the King James Version in various different contexts.
The context of Isaiah 45:18 is salvation for Israel and the establishment of Creation for the certainty of the promises made to them. The context is not astronomy and the nature of the universe. So it is in all of the other verses which Schadewald mentions here. The Flat-Earthers, and in these cases even the geocentrists, are completely deceptive in their interpretations of each of these passages.
We cannot address every aspect of Schadewald’s paper in one podcast and we may not even bother to continue to read it all, as we believe we have already destroyed his major premises. However here is what he says under the heading “The Shape of the Earth”:
Disregarding the dome, the essential flatness of the earth's surface is required by verses like Daniel 4:10-11. In Daniel, the king [meaning Nebuchadnezzar] “saw a tree of great height at the centre of the earth...reaching with its top to the sky and visible to the earth's farthest bounds.” If the earth were flat, a sufficiently tall tree would be visible to “the earth's farthest bounds,” but this is impossible on a spherical earth. Likewise, in describing the temptation of Jesus by Satan, Matthew 4:8 says, “Once again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world [cosmos] in their glory.” Obviously, this would be possible only if the earth were flat. The same is true of Revelation 1:7: “Behold, he is coming with the clouds! Every eye shall see him...”
Now here once again Schadewald takes it for granted that by earth and world, the entire planet is being referenced. However the word κόσμος in Greek is only a reference to the order of the οἰκουμένη, or the inhabited earth – the parts of the earth inhabited by men of the Greco-Roman society. This is evident where Luke wrote in chapter 2 of his Gospel “that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.” Yet the Roman writers clearly knew of many parts of the world that Caesar had no power to tax, such as India and Parthia and the lands of the Scythians or sub-Saharan Africa, so they were not really a part of the world to which Luke referred.
Likewise, in Daniel chapter 4, in the interpretation of that same vision which Schadewald tries to use to prove the planet is flat, Daniel speaks of the tree and what it represents and he says “22 It is thou, O king, that art grown and become strong: for thy greatness is grown, and reacheth unto heaven, and thy dominion to the end of the earth.” This is how Daniel interpreted the part of the vision which says in the King James Version that “The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth….” Now it is well known from both Scripture and history that the rule of the Babylonian empire under Nebuchadnezzar never extended very much beyond Mesopotamia and the Middle and Near East. King Nebuchadnezzar never ruled over China, or the Americas, or most of Europe or Africa. So the beasts from those places never had shadow under the branches of his allegorical tree, meaning that they never partook in the benefits of Nebuchadnezzar’s government.
Therefore the word earth in Daniel chapter 4 cannot possibly be a reference to the entire planet, and the vision of the tall tree does not prove that the planet is flat. This is another ludicrous argument presented by Schadewald, and he has not yet presented a single sound proof that the earth is flat, or that the firmament is a solid metallic dome over the sky.
In Isaiah chapter 40 we see a reference to the phrase “circle of the earth”. The word for circle is chuwg (Strong’s # 2329), and is generally defined as a circle, circuit, or compass. In this instance we must interpret compass in the archaic sense, which is to go around something in a circular course. Similarly we see a phrase in Job 16:13: “His archers compass me round about”, and many other such phrases in the King James Version of Scripture. There are other words which mean circle, encircle, or compass, but none of them are relevant to this passage in Isaiah.
The word chuwg only appears four times in Scripture, in Job 22:14, “the circuit of heaven”, Job 26:10, “He compassed the waters with bounds”, Proverbs 8:27, “he set a compass upon the face of the depth”, and in this passage in Isaiah in reference to the “circle of the earth”. So we see that this verse in Isaiah cannot honestly be used to prove that the earth is a sphere, since it only means to go around, or to be in the general shape of a circle. Observing the way the Constellations are drawn out in the night sky, even they form a circle or circuit around the horizon, the “circuit of heaven” of the Proverbs. Another word exists, duwr (Strong’s # 1754), which can also mean a circle, circuit or revolution, but which is translated as ball in the context of Isaiah 22:18, where it clearly refers to a ball. However even if duwr were the word used in Isaiah 40:22, it would not be proof enough to assert that the Bible proves that the earth is a sphere. So as we said in the beginning of this presentation, the Bible cannot be used to prove that the earth is flat, and it cannot be used to prove that the earth is a sphere.
Referring back to Daniel chapter 4, where we saw the phrase “end of all the earth” we are led to discuss another common phrase in Scripture, the “ends of the earth”. Many Flat-Earthers read this phrase and insist that the planet has a definite edge, and must therefore that it must be flat. If that were the case, perhaps where it says that the patriarch Joseph would “push the people together to the ends of the earth”, by now someone would be able to publish a picture of the edge of the flat planet for us. Since all of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh must be there by now.
If that statement sounds stupid, that is because it is stupid, but that is how Flat-Earthers interpret the Bible. But if Ephraim and Manasseh occupy the extremities of the West, and became a great nation and a company of nations in the isles and coasts of the sea, as they were promised throughout Scripture, then we see that the phrase “ends of the earth” is only an allegory for distant lands, and it is. As Paul attested in Romans 10:18, the Word of God had already gone out to “all the world” and the “ends of the world” by his own time, simply meaning that the Gospel had reached Europe and the other parts of Eurasia where the children of Israel had long been scattered. Later, in the prophetic books, the “ends of the earth” is only an allegory for wherever the children of Israel had been scattered.
So we read in Isaiah chapter 43 of the scattered children of Israel: “5 Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; 6 I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth...” So the phrase “ends of the earth” is also allegorical, referring to distant lands and nations, and cannot be used to prove that the earth is flat.
Last year I ran into a clown, a Jewish clown pretending to be a Christian and pushing the Flat Earth as his principle doctrine. His name is Ernest Pierce, but he goes by several aliases, just like the typical Chicago rabbi. When he insisted that the phrase “circle of the earth” in Isaiah 40:22 proved that the planet was a flat disc, I asked him about the phrase “four corners of the earth” in Revelation chapter 7, and how that can be made to agree with his interpretation of Isaiah. He immediately posted a meme depicting a disc-shaped earth sitting in a square box of ice, so that the presumed ice surrounding the flat earth had four corners. I asked him if he really thought the earth was created at Toys ‘R Us, because what he proposed certainly looked like a board game for children. Unfortunately this is the level of thought I see in many of the Flat-Earthers I encounter. I do not mean to mock or insult or disparage them all, but as a group Identity Christians can certainly do better.
But this level of childish thought also evidently appears on the part of those who believe the earth is a sphere. Schadewald exhibits this in relation to Revelation 7:1 and says: “Another less-than-conclusive argument that the Bible is a flat-earth book is its references to the earth's ‘corners.’ For example, ‘After this, I saw four angels stationed at the four corners [gonia] of the earth holding back the four winds’... Spherical apologists are quick to point out that the Greek gonia can refer to regions rather than points. Most translations of the Bible opt for points (the King James version says ‘on the corners of the earth’), implying that the writer viewed the habitable earth as a four-cornered area.” But neither could Schadewald answer this himself, and struggling he only says that “The modern flat-earth model doesn't have literal corners…. The corners could, however, be those regions at the ends of the earth referred to by Jeremiah: ‘[H]e brings up the mist from the ends of the earth, he opens rifts for the rain and brings the wind out of his storehouses (Jeremiah 51:16).’”
Why could they not see that the reference to “four corners” is only a poetic allegory, representing the fact that the angels would stand on every side of the area affected by the prophecy? It can certainly be demonstrated, and we have done that in part here, that the Bible rarely treats the entire planet, but only that portion of the planet inhabited by the Adamic race, or by the children of Israel, or by only a portion of the children of Israel, depending upon the context of the greater passage. The context of Revelation chapter 7 is in the descriptions prophesying the fall of the Roman empire which precede it, and the captivity of the children of Israel in relation to it. Romans 7 therefore has nothing to do with most of the planet, and the four corners do not prove anything about the shape of the earth as a planet.
At another point later in his paper, Schadewald writes:
Speaking of foundations, Gerardus Bouw, in an undated paper entitled “The Form of the Earth,” cites a barrage of scriptures about the foundations of the earth or world as evidence for sphericity. All (or nearly all) of these verses have traditionally been used by flat-earthers to prove the earth flat. If one views the earth as an architectural structure with floor, curtain walls, and a roof, it is natural to assume it has foundations (and, I might add, a cornerstone). Why a sphere would have foundations escapes me. Bouw's argument that these scriptures refer to the earth's core seems strained at best. Also strained is Bouw's interpretation of “the ends of the earth” as the points most distant from Jerusalem, and his identification of the Chukchi Peninsula of the Soviet Union, Alaska, Cape Horn, and the south-eastern tip of Australia as the “four corners” of the earth.
In truth, both sides of Schadewald’s illustrations are childish, his own side and that of Gerardus Bouw, or the people he claims interpret the Greek word γωνία as a region rather than as a corner. However now we shall see that Schadewald has a very poor understanding of Biblical idioms, metaphors and allegories in general, and not only those which he thinks somehow prove the shape of the earth.
Later in his paper, under the subtitle “The Stars”, Schadewald discusses some of the instances where stars are mentioned in Scripture. He also refers to 1 Enoch, which we are not going to address here. The only Enoch literature which I accept as canonical are those Enoch scriptures found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Ethiopic Enoch has suffered many interpolations and chapter additions and cannot be entirely trusted. Schadewald says:
Like the Bible, 1 Enoch typically depicts stars as living, anthropomorphic beings. The Sons of the Gods are also dealt with in 1 Enoch, and they are associated with stars. This is consistent with Job 38:7, which says that when the earth's cornerstone was laid “the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted aloud.”
As mentioned earlier, Matthew 24:29 and Revelation 6:13 deal with stars that fall to earth. The image comes from Enoch, but Matthew and John omit some details. In 1 Enoch 88:1, a star that fell from the sky is seized, bound hand and foot, and thrown into an abyss. A few verses later, other stars “whose sexual organs were like the organs of horses” are likewise bound hand and foot and cast “into the pits of the earth (1 Enoch 88:3).”
Now Schadewald describes stars in 1 Enoch which are punished for tardy rising and “transgressing the commandments of the Lord” for not following the designated astronomical schedule, and we will not comment on that specifically, but what comments we do make apply to Schadewald’s assessment of canonical Scripture as well as to 1 Enoch.
Rather than understand that certain people are described in Scripture as stars, Schadewald makes the inane comment that the Bible “typically depicts stars as living, anthropomorphic beings.” This alone should demonstrate that his understanding when reading the Scripture is entirely backwards from what it should be. For instance, where in Judges chapter 5 the prophetess Deborah says “They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera”, by stars she is referring to the children of Israel who participated in the battle against the Canaanites. In Matthew 24:29 where Christ says “after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken”, He is referring to the worldly governments ordained by Yahweh God (the sun) the administrative establishments of man (the moon), and the people of God on earth (the stars). So it is also in Revelation chapters 6, 8 and 12 where similar allegories are used to describe the plight of the children of Israel. Stars are not people, as Schadewald insists, but certain people are being described in poetic allegories as stars.
This has nothing to do with the Flat Earth, but it has everything to do with the faulty, backwards method by which one prominent writer on the topic of the Flat Earth Bible interprets Scripture. But in truth, there is no Flat Earth Bible, because none of the verses which supposedly prove the earth is flat, or even that the universe is geocentric, actually prove any such thing.
For my part, my understanding that the earth is a sphere does not rely on Scripture. Neither does it rely on NASA or any government agency, or on Freemasons, Illuminati, Jews, Television, or any other of the childish accusations levelled at me by Flat-Earthers. Rather it relies solely on my own inferences derived from observations of the natural world. It is my own observations of the natural world which have led me to the conclusion that ancient Greeks such as Eratosthenes and Strabo of Cappadocia and others were correct, that the planet is a sphere.
But as I said before, I did not make this presentation to argue the merits and shortcomings of Flat Earth. I am really only here to discuss the Bible passages which are abused and taken out-of-context by people who think that the Bible proves the earth is flat, and this evening I think that I have accomplished that, at least to a great extent. Even if the earth were flat, or round, or inside out, or in the shape of a cube, that is not proven by the Scripture. You cannot use Scripture to prove the earth is flat, so stop misrepresenting the Word of God with your childish and out-of-context interpretations.