Graphic representation of the Hebrew conception of the world. God's heavenly
seat rests above the superior waters. Below these waters lies the firmament
or sky which resembles an overturned bowl and is supported by columns.
Through the openings (floodgates) in its vault the superior waters fall down
upon the earth in the form of rain or snow. The earth is a platform resting
on columns and surrounded by waters, the seas. Underneath the columns lie the
inferior waters. This was the same prescientific concept of the universe as
that held by the Hebrews' pagan neighbors.
From "Saint Joseph Edition of the New American Bible (Catholic Bible approved
by Pope Paul VI, 1970)"