New Defender's Study Bible Notes
1:6 firmament. The “firmament” is not a great vaulted dome in the sky, as liberals have interpreted it, but is simply the atmospheric expanse established between the waters above and below. The Hebrew word, raqiya, means “expanse” or perhaps better, “stretched-out thinness.” Since God specifically identified it with “Heaven,” it also can be understood simply as “space.” Thus, on the second day, God separated the primeval deep into two deeps, with a great space between. The waters below the space retained the elemental earth materials which would be utilized on the following day to form the land and its plant cover. The waters above the firmament had apparently been transformed into the vapor state in order to be separated from the heavier materials and elevated above the atmosphere, where it could serve as a thermal blanket for the earth’s future inhabitants.
Such a vapor canopy would undoubtedly have provided a highly efficient “greenhouse effect,” assuring a perennial spring-like climate for the entire earth. Water vapor both shields the earth against harmful radiations from space and also retains and spreads incoming solar heat. A vapor canopy would thus provide an ideal environment for abundant animal and plant life and for longevity and comfort in human life. Water vapor is invisible, and thus would be translucent, allowing the stars to be seen through it. This would not be the case with a liquid water or ice canopy.
1:7 above the firmament. The “waters which were above the firmament” are clearly not the clouds or the vapor which now float in the atmosphere. The Hebrew word al, definitely requires the meaning “above.” Furthermore, the absence of rain (Genesis 2:5) and the rainbow (Genesis 9:13) is not only explained but required by a vapor canopy, not by an atmosphere like that of the present. Furthermore, these waters extending far out into space eventually condensed and fell back to the earth at the time of the Great Deluge, providing the source of the worldwide rainstorm that contributed to the Flood. Although the exact extent and structure of this canopy is still being researched by computer simulations, there are no insuperable scientific problems with the concept.