SPECIAL TOPIC: THE CIRCLE OF THE EARTH (i.e., dome, skin, vault, BDB 295 construct BDB 75)

This is a common Ancient Middle Eastern concept (cf. Isa. 42:5; Job 9:8; Ps. 104:2; Jer. 10:12; 51:15; Zech. 12:1). In the Egyptian Book of the Dead, heaven is described as a "skin." In the Rig Veda heaven is described as "stretched out like a hide." This is simply a metaphorical way of speaking of the vault of the heaven (i.e., the atmosphere of this planet) above the earth. It is the language of metaphor (see G. B. Caird, The Language and Imagery of the Bible, chapter 2, "Metaphor," pp. 131-197).

The term "curtain" (BDB 201) is used in this sense in Isa. 40:22. The word means "to crush" (cf. Isa. 40:15, "fine dust"). Apparently it can also refer to something "thin" (KB 229, i.e., the dome that covers the earth). Remember interpreters try to establish meaning by

1. literary context

2. similar Semitic roots

3. cognate languages

but #1 has priority!

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