What does Genesis 1:8 mean?
ESV: And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
NIV: God called the vault 'sky.' And there was evening, and there was morning--the second day.
NASB: God called the expanse 'heaven.' And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
CSB: God called the expanse "sky." Evening came and then morning: the second day.
NLT: God called the space 'sky.' And evening passed and morning came, marking the second day.
KJV: And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
Verse Commentary:
The description of creation given in Genesis follows a poetic but very firm pattern. For each of the first three days of creation, God modifies the world in preparation for some new thing. Then, in each of the corresponding second three days, He creates that new thing and places it in the world. In each case, God observes His work and declares it "good," and the day is given a number.

The previous two verses detail the creation of an expanse between the waters of the sea and some upper layer of waters. Now, in verse 8, God names that space. In Hebrew, the name He gives to it is sā'mā'yim. Bible scholars translate this term as "sky," or "heaven," or "air." In Hebrew, the word can be applied to any of these, based on context. It's not likely that the word means heaven in the sense that we normally think of it in our day. This heaven is very likely "the heavens," or the atmosphere: the "empty" space above the sea.

The primary message is that, on creative day two, God formed an open space and named it. As with other aspects of creation, this counters any claim that the air, wind, or skies are themselves divine. Even the sky and atmosphere around us are an intentional part of God's creation of the earth.
Verse Context:
Genesis 1:1–13 describes the first three days of creation. These follow a common pattern. First, God speaks, then He creates, then names His creation, then declares that creation ''good.'' Finally, the day is numbered. Each of these first three days prepares creation for what God will create in the second three days. Day one creates light, night and day, preparing for the sun and moon on day four. Day two creates the oceans, preparing for sea creatures on day five. Day three creates land and plants, preparing for animals and humans on day six.
Chapter Summary:
Genesis 1 is nothing less than a bare-bones claim that God created the universe. Setting all of the debates on models and interpretations aside, the chapter undeniably insists on one thing: God means to be known as the Creator of all things. Written in the original Hebrew language according to a rigid, poetic structure, the chapter unfolds in a series of patterns and revelations. For those who believe these words, our response should be nothing less than to worship our Maker.
Chapter Context:
Genesis 1 is the first chapter of what came to be known as the Pentateuch: the first five books of the Bible. Likely written by Moses, Genesis 1 begins the story of God and His relationship with His people Israel. The role of God as Creator is not only important for setting up His work in later chapters, but also in His supremacy and authority for all of the other words of the Scriptures. God intends first to be known to all peoples as the Creator of all things—from sun, moon, and stars, to human life itself. And as the Creator, He is owed worship by all He has made, including and especially human beings
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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