Does the Torah ever allude to Earth being a spherical celestial body in space?

2017-04-22 00:13:00

Taken at face value, the instances in which the Heavens and Earth are mentioned in the Torah, it is the Heavens above and Earth below. From what I gather, many secular scholars take from this that the author speaks of a flat earth beneath a heaven.

We of course know that the Earth is a spherical celestial body in space revolving around the sun. That's why I ask, the Torah being the ultimate truth Judaism is based on, whether there is in fact something within it that could allude to the true physical nature of Earth in relation to the Heavens?

Something I came across during the parasha "Va'etchanan", is a moment in chapter 4 verse 32. Moses asks rhetorically whether there has been such an event to occur "from one end of the Heavens to the other". He is speaking about all that has occurred to the nation of Israel and what truths they have been gifted with.

I wonder if perhaps the fact that rather than saying "from one end of the Earth to the other", the Heavens are me

  • I'm not aware of any references in the Chumash itself, but the only two passages in the entire Tana'kh that may be relevant to your question, to my knowledge, are (JPS):

    Yeshayahu 40:22 "It is He that sitteth above the circle of the earth." (Rashi links this verse to 44:13, which speaks of a carpenter using a "compass")

    Iyov 26:7 "He stretcheth out the north over the empty space, and hangeth the earth over nothing." (Rashi: "There is nothing in the foundation because they stand in the air on the strength of the arms of the Holy One")

    Now bear in mind that the issue of whether these passages are actually consistent with modern cosmology of a spherical earth in space, is highly contentious. There is an entire literature on how science and Torah interact (for example this book).

    2017-04-22 00:38:39
  • Quoting Natan Slifkin's essay "The Sun's Path at Night":

    ...from both general history as well as the interpretations of the Geonim and Rishonim, the view of the Sages of Israel was that of ancient Babylonian cosmology. They believed that the earth is a roughly flat disc, and the rest of the universe is a hemispherical solid dome fixed above it.

    The article contains quite an extensive reference of many of the opinions throughout history on this topic - not direct references to the Torah/Tanach (since its hard to find a place in Tanach that discusses this, as pointed out by @Meir Illuination's answer), but the understanding of Rabbanim from the times of the mishna and onwards. Furthermore, although the article is primarily about the sun, it indirectly (and understandably) touches upon the shape of the earth as well.

    2017-04-22 01:03:26
  • When reading such texts just remember that the earth is flat and that the heavens are only 73 miles away. Everything in the Torah then makes the most sense. The Torah is giving you the answer. You can either see the truth with your eyes or believe what you are told.

    2017-04-22 01:25:40