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Does the Bible Really Teach that the Earth is Flat?
(written by Robert Marino; February 5th, 2011)
In my discussions with many atheists and evolutionists on YouTube, they are constantly criticizing God's Word of being a lie and they try to cite Isaiah 40:22 as a verse that shows the Bible teaches the Earth is flat. They cite the word "circle" as being 2-dimensional.
The sphericity of the earth was accepted by all educated Greeks and Romans by 100 A.D. and the Book of Job goes way back beyond that time period by at least 1,000 years and portrays a spherical Earth that was hung on nothing. The word gravity had not been thought up till about 2,500 plus years later but here we have a reference in scripture to it in the book of Job.
Job 26:7  He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.

There are many Biblical verses that talk about many things that modern science has taken hundreds and sometimes thousands of years to even notice. Modern science (real science) actually proves the Bible to be a supernaturally written book. It comes down to this - how could have the writers way back then have known this stuff unless they were truly inspired by an intelligence beyond our capabilities? Think about it. They were limited in some areas of science. The electron microscope was around yet and cosmology was in its infancy as far as what we know today.
If you have read any of my writings, I use some systematic theology, exegesis, some Greek and Hebrew break-downs along with some etymology research but there is one other thing I like to hold in my arsenal and I am going to coin the term now - Common Sense Exegesis. CSE is when you take your God-given common sense when looking at something and then expounding on it. So here we go.
Let's go to the verse that most Bible-illiterates like to use to try to disprove the Bible's accuracy and the easily observable fact of creation.  Isaiah 40:22 is a verse many try to use to say the Bible teaches the Earth is flat. We will have to look at the structure of the verse.
It is he (God) that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:
-     Isaiah 40:22
I will give the non-believer this. The word for circle in the Hebrew is chug and it only gives us these meanings.
From H2328: chu?g; khoog; a circle: - circle, circuit, compassive

1)     My first "common sense" argument is circle doesn't necessarily have to mean a flat circle but can also mean a sphere as I will now show below:

A synonym for circle is sphere so circle does not have to be rendered as two-dimensional but can definitely be rendered as three-dimensional. My opponents cannot use that as their argument for this reason. The King James Version chose to use the word circle out of the three possible Strong's Hebrew/Greek/Aramaic Dictionary definitions of this verse. The word "circuit" could have been used without taking away from the context of the scripture so let's look at it.

The word circuit has some interesting synonyms like `route', `course', `track', `trail', `path', `trip', and `tour'. So this verse can also be rendered as such, "God sits upon the path, trail, route, or course of the Earth." This definition may have actually been a more accurate rendition of the scripture verse and could have meant that God sits upon the Earth's revolutionary path around the sun. There is no way to know that. The King James translators had to pick one of the Hebrew definitions and they chose `circle'.

Now we come to the word compassive. Compassive is a very antiquated English word that was derived from classical Latin. I could not even bring it up with Merriam-Webster's Online dictionary so I had to do some etymology work. Both the word "com" and "passive" are from Latin but it still didn't bring any real understanding or sense to the verse and that is probably why the King James translators didn't use that definition. It is most possible that "compassive" may have had another meaning back in the time that is very difficult to find now and could be why Webster's Dictionary did not even have a meaning for it.

2)     My second "common sense" argument deals with how the scripture verse is written:
Something to remember is that the Book of Isaiah is written in prose and poetic form so there will be a lot of figurative language, metaphors, analogies, et cetera within the chapters of this book. He is even called The Shakespeare of the Bible by many because of this.

So what is a metaphor? It is a figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity or it is the expression of an understanding of one concept in terms of another concept, where there is some similarity or correlation between the two. Here is an example of a metaphor: We use the phrase "a blanket of snow" to describe a snowfall that covers the ground evenly, as if the snow were a fabric. Of course snow isn't a fabric but one easily understands what the person is trying to explain to them by describing it this way.

Figurative speech seems to paint a picture (hence the word figure) for the listener to help them better understand what one is trying to teach. It gives them a word picture. How does that old saying go? A picture is worth a 1,000 words.

An analogy is a comparison of certain similarities between things which are otherwise totally different. In education, teachers commonly use analogies to introduce something new to students. They compare the new material to something the students already know and understand. An example of an analogy would be a street light is like a star. Both provide light at night, both are overhead, and both serve no function in the daytime.

So now that we have a little more insight, let's look at the verse again.
It is he (God) that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:
-     Isaiah 40:22
First of all, Orthodox Jews and Fundamentalist Bible-believing Christians know that God is a Spirit and doesn't need to sit anywhere so it is obvious that Isaiah wrote this poetically. This is figurative language and simply means that God is King over His creation and He owns it all. This is very simple logic if you have read and studied the whole Bible in its context. Secondly, as we stated above, `circle' can also mean sphere and `circuit' can also be used in this verse and still be in context with what Isaiah is saying.  
Knowing this, let's now go on. There is actually a metaphor within a metaphor in this verse. Notice the part that says, "…the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers;…" This is obviously a metaphor and is backed by four other sections of scripture. One example is when the twelve spies of the children of Israel went out to spy out the land that flowed with milk and honey (Canaan) and when they came back the ten spies said that the children of Israel were as grasshoppers (meaning small in stature) compared to the inhabitants of Canaan. According to Numbers 13:33, Judges 6:5, Judges 7:12, Isaiah 40:22, Jeremiah 46:23, grasshoppers just means `small, an innumerable amount or both small and innumerable'. Scripture always interprets scripture. You just have to do a word study to find this out.
Okay, so the verse itself is a metaphor written poetically and also includes another metaphor within it. That's creative writing if you ask me.
My final conclusion and analysis of the matter:
So to say and use this Bible verse to say that the Bible teaches that the Earth is flat just shows that one has not studied it out, read the Bible as a whole, read this particular verse in its context, or the reader just chooses to remain in ignorance on the subject.  From what I have seen, most people who say this are just parroting what they have heard from someone else and many times it is a college professor who disdains the Word of Almighty God. I have watched about twenty or so creation vs. evolution debates and in every single one that I have watched, when the evolutionist has noticeably lost the debate, they revert to bashing the Bible saying it is full of contradictions and every single time they have done that I researched the verse they brought up and they misinterpreted it every time or it has said something totally different and they lied to the students further. If you can't win the debate, maybe something is seriously wrong with the teaching and the theory. That's my final word on it.