ABYSS, Abyssus, a profound, and as it were, bottomless Gulph, or Cavern. See GULF.

The Word is Greek, ἄβυσσος; compounded of the Privative α, and βυθός, I enter, reach - q. d. something impenetrable, or not to be fathomed.

In Scripture, the Word Abyss, ἄβυσσος, is used by the Septuagint, for the Waters which God created at the Beginning with the Earth, which encompass'd it round; and which our Translators render the Deep. Thus it is that Darkness is said to have been on the Face of the Abyss. — The same Word is also used for that immense Cavern in the Earth where God collected all these Waters on the third Day; which in our Version is render'd the Sea; and elsewhere the Great Deep.

Dr. Woodward has let some Light into this great Abyss, in his Natural History of the Earth. He asserts, That there is a mighty Collection of Waters inclosed in the Bowels of the Earth; consisting a huge Orb in the interior or central Parts of it; and over the Surface of this Water, he supposes the Terrestrial Strata to be expanded. — This, according to him, is what Moses calls the great Deep, and what most Authors render the great Abyss.

That there is such an Assemblage of Waters lodged in the Depths of the Earth, is confirmed by abundance of Observations. See EARTH, DELUGE, etc.

The Water of this vast Abyss, he asserts, does communicate with that of the Ocean, by means of certain Hiatuses, or Chasms passing betwixt it and the bottom of the Ocean:And this and the Abyss he supposes to have one common Centre, around which the Water of both is placed; but so, that the ordinary Surface of the Abyss is not level with that of the Ocean, nor at so great a distance from the Centre as the other, it being for the most part restrained and depressed by the Strata of Earth lying upon it; but wherever those Strata are broken, or so lax and porous that Water can pervade them, there the Water of the Abyss doth ascend, fills up all the Clefts and Fissures into which it can get admittance; and saturates all the Interstices and Pores of the Earth, Stone, or other Matter all around the Globe, quite up to the Level of the Ocean. See STRATA, FOSSIL, &c.