What Is the Expanse in Genesis 1:6–8?

Question of the Week: How do you explain what Genesis 1:6-8 means in regard to water being in the expanse?

My Answer: The Hebrew word translated as expanse is raqia’. Previous to 1970, all English translations of the Bible translated raqia’ as expanse or firmament. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament defines raqia’ as “expanse” or the “broad expanse of heaven. Since 1970, new translations of the Bible translate raqia’ as expanse, sky, space, horizon, canopy, vault, or dome. The translation as vault or dome is based on the myth that the ancient peoples surrounding Israel believed that a solid dome was fixed over a flat earth with a reservoir of water above the solid dome. This online paper refutes the claim that ancient peoples held such a belief: https://digitalcommons.andrews.edu/auss/vol49/iss1/7/  Note, too, that in Genesis 1:8 God called the raqia’ sky.

I believe Genesis 1:6-8 is best understood as a brief comment on how relative to Earth’s surface there is water above (in the troposphere) and water below (in the oceans and lakes). Job 37–38 provides a much more detailed description of what happened on creation day 2. These two chapters describe in detail Earth’s water cycle, mentioning multiple forms of liquid water falling from the troposphere and multiple forms of frozen water likewise falling from the sky above Earth’s surface. See my book, Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job, for much more.