God Says Earth Spins like a…. Seal?

No, not the animal, but a seal to press into clay. Check it out:

Sumerian Cylinder Seal, Flickr, Steve Harris

Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place;
That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?
It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment. Job 38:12-14

If you read these verses in other versions, you’ll read something quite different. They say the earth was changed like clay under a seal. But King James’ translators tried to be super honest with the Hebrew even if something seemed odd. They just translated each word into English as best they could and left us to puzzle why God would say things the way he did.

Let’s see what we can solve using modern archaeology:

Mesopotamian Cylinder Seals:

Ancient Mesopotamians.com says: Cylinder seals, small stone cylinders covered with a design were the oldest form of art in Mesopotamia. Cylinder seals were used as ownership stamps for the people. They were also used as jewellery or magical amulets. Cylinder seals were related with the cuneiform system of writing because they were used to authenticate cuneiform documents.

These seals differ in sizes, designs and shapes. It was from the 3rd millennium BC that they began to be prevalent. They were used extensively by the government officials in various occasions such as sealing the closure of the door of a storeroom, confirmation of receipt etc. Cylinders were used as signatures in contracts and other documents.

Cool, huh?

How does this fit our verses? Verses 12 and 13 are easy enough; God is talking about the morning and how bad guys can’t hide once the sun comes up. Then He says, “It is turned as clay to the seal”. What is “it”? Not the earth, but the morning. The morning is compared to clay getting stamped by one of these cylinder seals.

“Morning” isn’t a thing like the sun or moon. It’s the name we have for the time of day when sunlight first starts shining onto us. When we put verse 14 together, it sure looks like God is talking about the atmosphere. “And they stand as a garment makes a lot of sense when you think of how the air wraps around the earth like a skin or clothes.

But what could God be talking about with “it” being turned or pressed like clay in one of those seals? I decided to check around to see if the atmosphere changes shape when morning comes. Here’s what NASA has to say about it:

Since air is gaseous, it is compressible. This means that the air pressure nearer the surface of the Earth is greater than the air pressure in the stratosphere. . . .

The page goes on and on about how temperature affects an airplane’s flying power. Air pressure also messes with the instruments telling pilots how high they are above sea level. Temperature gets higher every morning.

It isn’t easy to find out if the whole atmosphere changes shape; most people just want to talk about its “average height”. But, I kept looking and check out what I found:

Federation of American Scientists: Understanding the Atmosphere: The tropopause is a thin zone of transition between the troposphere [where we live] and the stratosphere. Obviously, the tropopause height varies directly with the troposphere thickness and depends largely on geographical location, season, and other factors.

Could the tropopause change height in the morning? I found a super eye-crossing paper saying, yes it does. About an hour after sunrise, the height starts changing. This study didn’t come out until the end of 2008AD, but God told us it happened 1,000s of years ago.

Once more we see God knows what He’s talking about. Our job is to remember how smart He is and watch for ways to check it out.

BTW, there’s one cylinder scroll creationists find extra interesting. You can read more about it on Creation Ministries International: Mesopotamian monsters in Paris

Long necked creature seal, Louvre, wikimedia

“Lions”?!!! Are you sure?

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