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The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

The Heavens Declare

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The Glory of God

Psalm 19:1[2h] (BHS)

The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament sheweth his handiwork
(Psalm 19:1)

Within the earliest Jewish traditions, groups of scholars counted the number of times each letter appeared in the Scriptures (as well as the number of words, verses, paragraphs, etc.). These textual specialists were called Soferim (counters). The Soferim ensured that Torah scrolls (and the other books of the Tanakh) were identical, noting any unusual words and spellings and replicating them exactly through their scribal arts. Many Jews believe that Ezra the Scribe instituted many of the practices of the Soferim.

Jewish Soferim
The Moon (from hubble)

In this verse, we are told that the heavens are "recounting" the glory of God – the word mesaperim comes from the same Hebrew root as does soferim. Every detail of the universe, from great cosmic events to the bloom of a lily in the field, recounts the glory of God and is carefully written in His book – ma'aseh vereshit – the works of creation.

Parallel to this idea, the heavenly expanse (raki'a) is "telling" of the work of God's hands – the Hebrew word maggid means to explain or declare something in a conspicuous or obvious way, such as plainly telling the solution of a riddle. In Jewish tradition, the part of the Passover seder where the story of the Exodus from Egypt is clearly explained to the children at the table is called the Maggid.

Just as the order, precision, and enormous complexity of the physical universe reveals the glory and excellencies of the Creator, so the vast heavenly expanse conspicuously displays the work of God's hands. And though mankind may suppress this constant narrative through willful ignorance, they are forever without excuse, "for what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For the invisible attributes of God, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, are clearly perceived in the things that have been made" (Romans 1:18-20).


Psalm 19:1 transliterated

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