Scientific Facts in the Bible: Round or Flat Earth
In the following, we will explain what one needs to know about the controversial topic of “flat earth”. Is the Earth round or flat? How did the Creator create the planet Earth: flat or round? The issue of round or flat Earth is well known, so here we will only offer a basic outline of what we intend to say.
The old saying, “The language of the Torah is like the language of man”, takes precedent when such a matter as scientific facts in the Bible is discussed. What this saying means is that the Scripture speaks the language of man in order to make him understand.
And indeed, we can imagine how perplexed the prophets would have been, if the Creator had used the scientific language we use today. It is, by way of illustration, that such a complex matter was revealed to them. Some details of the language employed in the verses below also suggest that the terminology carries an enigmatic charge. Faithful readers of Time of Reckoning Ministry need no reminding that the matter discussed below is of a private interpretation. We now return to the text.
While the question of round or flat Earth may appear out of touch with the reality, and although much has been commented on it, there is some room left for our comments. And since this is an article, and not a thesis or essay, we have listed a few examples of scientific facts taken directly from the Bible, and they are:
The pillars of Earth
He who removes mountains, and they do not know it, when He overturns them in His displeasure, who shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble. (Job 9:5-6)
By the “pillars” it is not that the highest mountains of the earth are meant here, as it were the supports of heaven in Job 26:11. The idea that the [flat] earth rests upon the mountains (pillars) would be an absurd to Job. Translating the verse into plain terms, suggest that the author of Job expresses here the lines of force surrounding and supporting the earth, hence “pillars”.
The science would call these “pillars” that support the earth “magnetic field”. The Earth’s crust is not a monolithic entity, but it consists of tectonic plates that move at very slow speed. What keeps the tectonic plates from getting loose is the Earth’s strong magnetic field that act like bands to keep them together.
When the magnetic field is disturbed by the solar eruptions (“its pillars tremble”), the crust starts moving and causes earthquakes, volcanos, and tsunamis (“shakes the earth out of its place”). These heavenly forces and their laws must have been known to the ancients, especially the law of gravitation, long before Newton discovered the gravitational force.
Earth hangs in space
He stretches out the north over the empty space and hangs the earth over nothing. (Job 26:7)
The sky which vaults the earth from the arctic pole, and the earth itself, hang free without support in space.
According to the medieval Hebrew grammarian and halachic scholar Rabbi Malbim (Meïr Leibush ben Yehiel Michel Weisser), the ancients considered the far north to be uninhabited, i.e., that the lower part of the planet, which is covered by the waters of the ocean they called “north”, and there the earth remained in chaos and covered by water as it was at the beginning of creation.
This explanation of Malbim may serve as an illustration. As explained above, in Job 9:6, it is said that He causes the earth to shake from its place (see also Isa 13:13) in space (Job 26:7), and by being thus set in motion by Him, its pillars tremble, i.e., its internal foundations.
He established the earth on its foundations, so that it would not totter forever, … (Psa 104:5)
The poet here speaks of the restraining of the lower waters and the establishing of the dry land standing out of the water. As the earth hangs free in space, it has its internal supports of the magnetic field that radiates from the melted iron in its core. Its internal stability is thus preserved by the magnetic field.
The boundary of light in deep waters
A law of encirclement on the face of the waters until the end of light with darkness. The columns of the heavens tremble and are stunned at His reproof. (Job 26:10-11)
Job 26:10 passes from the waters above in the clouds (in verse 8) to the waters below on the earth.
The first word in the verse is חֹק chok, which means “law”, “decree” but also prescribed limit, boundary. Hence, the word chok denotes a perpetual boundary. The medieval Torah and Talmud commentator Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzhak, best known by the acronym “Rashi”, in his comments on Job 26:10, interprets the verses to mean that the sea will not cross that encirclement until light and dark come to an end”. That “end of light” signifies the extreme boundary the light can reach in deep water. How could have Job known the darkness of the depth of the ocean where the light could not reach?
Gravity: the universal force
Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if you have understanding. Who set its measurements, if you know? Or who stretched the line upon it? (Job 38:4-5)
Malbim regards these verses as referring to Elohim’s creation of the gravitational force (“its measurements”) that holds the universe together and determines the motions of the stars and planets: the more remote the heavenly body, the less the gravity. He writes: “How far the Earth is from each star is determined by the universal attractive force that the spheres (planets) exert on one another, for they all attract the Earth such that it is left hanging between them in its place, as is known from astronomy. But the construction of the Earth itself was done by God Himself”.
Compassing the land and the sea
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you go around the land and the sea to win one convert, and when he is won, you make him a son of GeHinnom twofold more than yourselves. (Mat 23:15)
The Hebrew word for “compass” is savav meaning to circle (to compass) completely around. It is the same word used in Joshua (Jos 6:13-14) to describe the Israelites circling Jericho seven times before the walls fell. Yeshua was saying that Pharisees were compassing the globe seeking converts all over the world.
Furthermore, when we compare Luk 17:34-36 with Mat 24:40-41, we see that at the instant of the return of Messiah two will be lying in the bed (Luk 17:34-36) while two will be at work in the field and two will be grinding in the mill (Mat 24:40-41). This can be only true if the Earth is round. In other words, the ancient Hebrews were well aware of the round shape of the Earth and that is night and day on different sides of the planet at the same time.
King Solomon ahead of Magellan
For the king had at sea a navy of Tarshish with the navy of Chiram; once every three years came the navy of Tarshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks. (1Ki 10:22 JPS)
Intriguingly, 1Kings speaks of the great city “Tarshish”. This is the same city, Yonah the prophet sailed to from the port of Yaffa to escape from Elohim.
There was another great city called “Atlantis”, which like Tarshish, was powerful, wealthy, and possessing a great fleet. But what is even more intriguing is that both cities seem to have disappeared suddenly without trace.
The voyage to Tarshish lasted three years. See also Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, Book 8, Chapter 7. Is it not remarkable that it took three years (from 1519 to 1522) for Ferdinand Magellan to circumnavigate the globe? Or, Sir Francis Drake to do the same (1577-1580)?
Did Columbus discover anything?
Upon the third day thou didst command that the waters should be gathered in the seventh part of the earth: six parts hast thou dried up, and kept them, to the intent that of these some being planted of God and tilled might serve thee. (2Es 6:42 KJVA)
Today no one questions that the Earth has six dry landmasses (six dry parts): Eurasia, two Americas, Africa, Australia, Antarctica, and the seventh part mentioned in the apocryphal book is the world ocean. But how could Ezra have known this simple scientific fact?
Columbus must have quoted 2 Esdras and 1Kings to Queen Isabella of Spain in order to obtain financial support for his voyage; hardly, he had shown the gentiles King Solomon’s navigational maps. But was there a “voyage” or he was escaping first Spain then Portugal with fellow Jews to another land? Columbus is commonly regarded as the discoverer of America (there is a national holiday in U.S.A. named after him), even though he only “discovered” what is now known as the Caribbeans.
Little is known about the real Columbus. The Italians and Spaniards still argue over his nationality: the Italians call him Christophoro Colombo. But was he sent to discover a new land for the queen? Or he exodused Europe after the expulsions of the Jews from Spain and Portugal?
Anyway, after the “discovery”, his curriculum vitae was redacted to look Christian. But they missed one thing; they forgot to change his wife’s Jewish name. Back then, we know that no Christian would have married a Jew, and this is the only hint left for us about his real identity.
The circle of the Earth
Did you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in, (Isa 40:21-22)
The absolute essence of the Eternal One, who is above all created things, is something which may be either deduced by the means of reasoning, or learned by the means of studying. The Creator is knowable through His creation, and His creation is understandable by learning.
We have here four questions rhetorically arranged. The first two questions refer to what is possible: “Did you not know? Have you not heard?”. The other two refer to what is an actual fact: “Has it not been declared to you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?”
This is the meaning of the four questions: “Have you not obtained knowledge of the foundations of the earth, and how they were laid from the beginning?”
Ibn Ezra comments on Isa 40:22: “Here it is stated that the earth is round and not square, though no verse is required for the support of this statement; for it is known by convincing proofs”. This is Ibn Ezra’s concise language. What he says is that the expression “from the four corners of the earth” used in Isa 11:12 and Eze 7:2 is not to be taken literally, as if the earth is a cube or flat. Hence, the statement “from the four corners of the earth” is to be understood as “from the four directions of the earth”.
A few verses later, the same questions are asked: “Did you not know? Have you not heard? “
Did you not know? Have you not heard? The everlasting Elohim, Yehovah, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. (Isa 40:28)
“Yehovah, the Creator of the ends of the earth” means YHVH the Eternal Elohim, who possesses and manifests the power which He had displayed in the creation, is He who created the earth from one end to the other, so that nothing is beyond the range of His vision and domain. It cannot be taken literally that the earth has ends beyond which Columbus’ ships would have fallen into the abyss.
According to Ibn Ezra, “the ends of the earth” simply denotes the horizon, which is not a real boundary, i.e., end.
The circuit of the heavens
He who has for His throne the circle of the heavens in Job 22:14, which arches over the earth,
And you have said, “What does El know? Would He judge through the dark cloud? Clouds screen Him, so that He does not see, and He walks in the circuit of the heavens”. (Job 22:13-14)
He who has spread out the sky like a transparent garment and stretched it out above the earth like a tent for dwelling, in which the inhabitants of the earth seem to Him as grasshoppers (see again Isa 40:22), is He who walks around the circle of the heavens, the circle that vaults the earth.
Having now completed our exposition in detail, by now, the observant reader should have noticed how often we have used the Book of Job, Psalms, and Isaiah, to find the scientific facts that prove the planet Earth is round, not flat. And these are only those referring to the subject of this study: the round or flat Earth. And indeed, these books (in that order) are the richest books of scientific facts in the Bible.
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