9. Moses partook evidently of the most primitive beliefs concerning cosmogony. Like many of his time, he believed in the solidity of the celestial vault, and of superior reservoirs for water. This thought has been expressed without allegory or ambiguity in this passage (verses 6 and 7): And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water. So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it.” And it was so. (See chap. V, “Systems of Ancient and Modern Worlds,” n° 3 to 5).
An ancient belief made the water an element, the generative primitive element. Moses does not speak of the creation of waters, which seems to have existed previously to the first creation, according to his theory. “The darkness covered the deep;” i.e.; the depths of space that the imagination vaguely depicted as dark watery wastes, before the creation of light. That is why the Spirit of God, according to Moses, moved upon the waters. The Earth’s being formed in the midst of water necessitated its isolation. It was supposed that God made the firmament a solid vault, separating the waters above from those under the Earth.
In order to comprehend certain parts of Genesis, it is necessary to place ourselves at that point of view from which we can watch the reflection of the ideas entertained on cosmogony at that time.