Biblical Cosmology: Sun, Moon and Stars

It is surprising to see there are some flat-earthers even today. There are endless debates about how scientific the Biblical cosmology is. Every Christian must understand that the Bible is written for a people who believed a different cosmology, though unscientific, they are valid even today to understand the true meaning of it.

Ancient Hebrew Conception of the Universe. Source: Logos Bible Software

In other words, one must put themselves in the shoes of ancient Hebrews to fully understand the message from God, even though they may be unscientific.

Viewpoint

And the LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are–northward, southward, eastward, and westward;

Gen 13:14

To understand the cosmology of ancient Hebrews, we need to understand how they viewed their landscapes or maps. The clue comes from the meaning of the directions themselves.

  • north [H6828 צָפוֹן tsaphown] = hidden/dark
  • south [H5045 נֶגֶב negeb] = drought/parched
  • east [H6924 קֶדֶם qedem] = front
  • west [H3220 יָם yam] = sea

As we can see, an ancient Israelite will always face east while describing things with the Mediterranean sea behind them. As we can see in these simple terminology, they describe them from their viewpoint.

Perspective

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

Matt 2:1-2

We discussed in a previous post regarding how Matthew 2 is wrong about the birth of Jesus Christ and why I believe Luke’s account is more accurate. Irrespective of it, the above verse clearly shows how an ancient Israelite viewed the cosmos. They believe that the star moved from one place to another in the sky, guiding the wise men from the east to Bethlehem.

Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon; And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”

Josh 10:12

The same concept is also found in the book of Joshua, where the sun and moon are moving above a flat plane, a perspective from the viewer.

Sun, Moon and Hosts of Heaven

He appointed the moon for seasons; The sun knows its going down.

Ps 104:19

According to the ancient Hebrews, sun, moon and the stars in the sky (or hosts of heaven) are all living. This is why the ancient writer writes that the sun knows it’s going down. Today we know that the sun is not going down anywhere but simply a perspective from the viewer because of the rotation of the earth.

Then the moon will be disgraced And the sun ashamed; For the LORD of hosts will reign On Mount Zion and in Jerusalem And before His elders, gloriously.

Isa 24:23

This is also why the ancient prophets can write about Moon being disgraced and the sun ashamed, thinking that they are all living.

And [take heed,] lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and [when] you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the LORD your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage.

Deut 4:19

The word hosts [H6635 צָבָא tsaba’] means mass of people and Moses in his speech considers them to be living as we can see in the above verse. We can see several passages in Scripture that these non-living things worships God as in Nehemiah 9:6.

God’s Viewpoint and Perspective

Nearly all incorrect cosmology in Scripture are not spoken by God but prophets or scribes in their prayers or praises or in their poems and songs. God, on the other hand, uses the same incorrect understanding of the ancient Israelite people to convert them into an allegory and declare His judgments or His message in a way they can relate and understand.

All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, And the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll; All their host shall fall down As the leaf falls from the vine, And as [fruit] falling from a fig tree. For My sword shall be bathed in heaven; Indeed it shall come down on Edom, And on the people of My curse, for judgment. The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, It is made overflowing with fatness, With the blood of lambs and goats, With the fat of the kidneys of rams. For the LORD has a sacrifice in Bozrah, And a great slaughter in the land of Edom.

Isa 34:4-6

In the above example, when God is describing the host of heaven being dissolved and the heavens rolled up like a scroll, He is not destroying any heavens but using the same understanding of how the ancient Hebrews understood cosmology to deliver a message of judgment to the land of Edom.

Behold, the day of the LORD comes, Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, To lay the land desolate; And He will destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine. … Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, Who will not regard silver; And [as for] gold, they will not delight in it. … And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, The beauty of the Chaldeans’ pride, Will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.

Isa 13:9-10,19

When God speaks about the destruction of Babylon, He again uses the sun, moon and stars to proclaim His message which the ancient Hebrews understood but makes no sense if we view them scientifically.

As we can clearly see, neither the hosts of heaven or stars fell on earth during the destruction of Edom, nor did the sun, moon and stars stopped giving light when Babylon was destroyed.

Conclusion

Biblical cosmology is incorrect and often unscientific because every incorrect statements were from prophets and scribes used for praises, prayers and narrations. But, when God says about their incorrect cosmological views, He always converts them into allegorical representation to deliver His message to His people in a way they can understand.