Texts must be read in their original language. A Muslim will always insists that if you want to understand the Koran, you have to read it in Arabic-which is true for any text.
Things get lost in translation. Always.
The Christian English bible is full of translation errors. In fact, the strongest argument for Christianity being a false religion in my view, is the fact that the entire dogma is based on a foreign translation – and things always do indeed get lost in translation. Conclusions are derived from the mistranslation, and dogma is established.
Christianity is famous for this. Moreover are the countless quotes from the old testament which Christians say allude to Jesus- ALL of them misquotations, taken completely out of context.
There's a great book on the subject:
Jesus and Christ: A Lawyer's Commentary by Obadiah Shoher
But Christianity isn't alone. The fact is, that even the Hebrew of the bible is NOT the original Hebrew used in ancient times. What we recognize today as Hebrew is actually a cross breed between ancient Hebrew and Aramaic, which the Hebrews adopted during the Babylonian exile.
The Hebrew bible today is a translation of the original ancient Hebrew, that while we have no known surviving bible written in it, it is clear – we can identify translation mistakes.
And there's a great example of this in none other than the Genesis account.
Everyone knows the English: " In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."
Is that what it says in Hebrew? Nope.
בְּרֵאשִׁית, בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים, אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם, וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ.
" In the beginning God created the sky and land."
'Heaven' and 'earth' are literary tools used by the author to describe more eloquently what HE thought the text means.
Let's carry on with the Hebrew(English into correct Hebrew):
"Now the land was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the abyss;
and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters…."
Did you notice anything strange there? God created sky and land, but later we're informed that water is already there… is the water eternal? Was it not created by god?
And God said: 'Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.' And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. And God called the firmament sky.
Hold on – God already created the sky in verse 1.
What's going on here?
Answer, the original Hebrew is itself a mistranslation of the original ancient Hebrew.
You see – Water in Hebrew is מים – Ma'iim
Sky in Hebrew is - שמיים Shama'iim.
Shama'iim (sky ) literally means – "WATER ABOVE".
The story of Genesis can make perfect sense if you realize that in verse 1, the translator got mixed up. He wrote Shamaiim (sky) instead of Maiim (water), an honest mistake.
Let's read again in the corrected fashion, as it most likely appeared in the ancient original Hebrew:
" In the beginning God created the water and land…The land was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the abyss; and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the water…. And God said: 'Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters… And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. And God called the firmament sky.
Suddenly everything adds up.
Now in order to further understand what exactly is being described to us, we need to understand how the ancient Hebrews thought the world operated.
While Greeks believed the world was carried by a giant, some thought it was flat, others said it was carried on the back of a giant turtle – the ancient jews had a rather peculiar view of the world.
They believed the world was flat, and more importantly that the sky was actually a dome shaped barrier fitted like a flipped bowl- which kept the water from above from falling to earth (hence -the "firmament").
The dome was fitted with several hundred windows through which the sun - a tiny ball of light, passed in and out of every day. Come morning the sun would enter through one of the windows into the dome, and at night it would exit through the windows.
This view of the world is widely expressed in the Mishna and Talmud, the most important books in Judaism, which are considered to have been handed to moses in Sinai along with the old testament.
An excellent link to the ancient jewish perspective of the world structure:
It is important to note that the Talmud, expressing this structure, must be read in conjunction with Genesis, as the two sources reinforce each other.