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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
There is, says Daubuz, a threefold world, and therefore a threefold heaven- the invisible, the visible, and the political among men, which last may be either civil or ecclesiastical. We shall consider these in the inverse order.
A. Terrestrially and Figuratively regarded. — Wherever the scene of a prophetic vision is laid, heaven signifies symbolically the ruling power or government; that is, the whole assembly of the ruling powers, which, in respect to the subjects on earth, are a political heaven, being over and ruling the subjects, as the natural heaven stands over and rules the earth. Thus, according to the subject, is the term to be limited; and therefore Artemidorus, writing in the times of the Roman emperors, makes Italy to be the heaven: "As heaven," says he, "is the abode of gods, so is Italy of kings." The Chinese call their monarch Tiencu, the son of heaven, meaning thereby the most powerful monarch. And thus, in Matthew 24:30, heaven is synonymous to powers and glory; and when Jesus says, "The powers of the heaven shall be shaken," it is easy to conceive that he meant that the kingdoms of the world should be overthrown to submit to his kingdom. Any government is a world; and therefore, in Isaiah 51:15-16, heaven and earth signify apolitical universe, a kingdom or polity. In Isaiah 65:17, a new heaven and a new earth signify a new government, new kingdom, new people. (See HEAVEN AND EARTH).
B. Physically treated. —
I. Definitions and Distinctions. — The ancient Hebrews, for want of a single term like the κόσμος and the mundus of the Greeks and the Latins used the phrase heaven and earth (as in Genesis 1:1; Jeremiah 23:24; and Acts 17:24, where "H. and E."= "the world and all things therein") to indicate the universe, or (as Barrow, Sermons on the Creed, Works [Oxford ed.], 4:556, expresses it) "those two regions, superior and inferior, into which the whole system of things is divided, together with all the beings that do reside in them, or do belong unto them, or are comprehended by them" (compare Pearson, On the Creed, who, on art. 1 ["Maker of H. and E."], adduces the Rabbinical names of a triple division of the universe, making the sea, יָם, distinct from the יָשׁוּב, ἡ οἰκουμένη. Compare also the Nicene Creed, where another- division occurs of the universe into "things visible and invisible"). Deducting from this aggregate the idea expressed by "earth" (See EARTH); (See GEOGRAPHY), we get a residue of signification which exactly embraces "heaven." Barrow (l. c.) well defines it as "all the superior region encompassing the globe of the earth, and from it on all sides extended to a distance inconceivably vast and spacious, with all its parts, and furniture, and inhabitants not only such things in it as are visible and material, but also those which are immaterial and invisible (Colossians 1:16)."
1. Wetstein (in a learned note on 2 Corinthians 12:2) and Eisenmenger (Entdecktes Judenthunm, 1, 460) state the Rabbinical opinion as asserting seven heavens. For the substance of Wetstein's note, see Stanley, Corinthiun, 1. c. This number arises confessedly from' the mystic: value of the numeral seven; "omnis septenarius dilectus est in saeculumine superis." According to Rabbi Abia, there were six antechambers, as it were, or steps to the seventh heaven, which was the "ταμεῖον in quo Rex habitat"-the very presence-chamber of the divine King himself. Compare Origen, Contra Celsum, 6, 289, and Clemens Alex. Stromlata, 4, 636; 5, 692. In the last of these passages the prophet Zephaniah is mentioned, after some apocryphal tradition; to have been caught up into "the fifth heaven, the dwelling-place of the angels, in a glory sevenfold greater than the brightness of the sun." In the Rabbinical point of view, the superb throne of king Solomon, with the six steps leading up to it was a symbol of the highest heaven with the throne of the Eternal, above the six inferior heavens (1 Kings 10:18-20). These gradations of the celestial regions are probably meant in Amos 9:6, where, however, the entire creation is beautifully described by "the stories [or steps of the heaven," for the empyreal heaven; "the troop [or globular aggregate, the terra firma; see A. Lapide, ad loc.] of the earth," and "the waters of the sea" [including the atmosphere, whence the waters are "poured out upon the face of the earth"]. As for the threesald division of the celestial regions mentioned in the text, Meyer thinks it to be a fiction of the learned Grotius, on the ground of the Rabbinical seven heavens. But this- censure is premature; for
(1) it is very doubtful whether this hebdomadal division is as old as Paul's time;
(2) it is certain that the Rabbinical doctors are not unanimous about the number seven. Rabbi Judah (Chagiga, fol. 12:2, and Aboth Nathan, 37) says there are "two heavens," after Deuteronomy 10:14. This agrees with Grotius's statement, if we combine his nubiferum (רקיע ) and astriferumi (שׁמים ) into one region of physical heavens (as indeed Moses does himself in Genesis 1:14-15; Genesis 1:17; Genesis 1:20), and reserve his angeliferum for the שמי השמים "the heaven of heavens," the supernal region of spiritual beings, Milton's "Empyrean" (P. L. 7:sub fin.). See bishop Pearson's note, On the Creed (ed. Chevallier), p. 91. The learned note of De Wette on 2 Corinthians 12:2 is also worth consulting.
(3) The Targum on 2 Chronicles 6:18 (as quoted by Dr. Gill, Comment. 2 Corinth. 1. c.), expressly mentions the triple distinction of supreme, middle, and lower heavens. Indeed, there is an accumulation of the threefold classification. Thus, in Tseror lansamsor, fol. 1, 4, and 3:2,3, and 82, 2, three worlds are mentioned. The doctors of the Cabbala also hold the opinion of three worlds, Zohar, Numbers fol. 66, 3. And of the highest world there is further a tripartite division, of angels, עוֹלָם הִמִּלְאָכַים; of souls, נְפָשׁוֹת; and of spirits, הָרוּחַים עוֹלָם . See Buxtorf's Lex Rabbin. col. 1620, who refers to D. Kimchi on Psalms 19:9. Paul, besides the well-known 2 Corinthians 12:2, refers again, only less pointedly, to a plurality of heavens, as in Ephesians 4:10. See Olshausen (ed. Clark) on the former passage.
2. Accordingly, Barrow (p. 558, with whom compare Grotius and Drusius on 2 Corinthians 12:2) ascribes to the Jews the notion that there are three heavens: Coelum nubiferum, or the firmament; Ccelum astriferum, the starry heavens; Coelum angeliferum, or "the heaven of heavens," where the angels reside, "the third heaven" of Paul. This same notion prevails in the fathers. Thus St. Gregory of Nyssa (Hexaem., 42) describes the first of these heavens as the limited space of the denser air (τὸν ὅρον τοῦ παχυμερεστέπου ἀἐρος), within which arrange the clouds, the winds, and the birds; the second is the region in which wander the planets and the stars (ἐνῳ δὲ πλανῆ ται τῶν ἀστέρων διαπορεύοται), hence aptly called by Hesychius κατηστρισμένον , locum stelliferum; while the third is the very summit of the visible creation (τὸ ο῏υν ἀκρότατον τοῦ αἰσθηροῦ κόσμου), Paul's third heaven, higher than the aerial and stellar world, cognizable [not by the eye, but] by the mind alone (ἐν στασίμ῎ῳ καὶ νοητῇ φύσει γενόμενος), which Damascene calls the heaven of heavens, the prime heaven beyond all others (οὐρανὸς τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, ὸ πρῶτος οὐρανός, Orthod. Fid. lib. 2, c. 6:p. 83); or, according to St. Basil (In Jesaiarm, visione 2, tom. 1, 813), the throne of God (θρόνος θεοῦ), and to Justin Martyr (Quaest. et Resp. ad Graecos, ad ult. Quaest. p. 236), the house and throne of God (οϊ v κος καὶ θρόνος τοῦ θεοῦ ).
II. Scripture Passages arranged according to these Distintions. — This latter division of the celestial regions is very convenient and quite Biblical.
(I.) Under the first head, caelum nubiferum, the following phrases naturally fall —
(a) "Fowl," or "fowls of the heaven, of the air," see Genesis 2:19; Genesis 7:3; Genesis 7:23; Genesis 9:2; Deuteronomy 4:17; Deuteronomy 28:26; 1 Kings 21:24; Job 12:7; Job 28:21; Job 35:11; Psalms 8:8; Psalms 79:2; Psalms 104:12; Jeremiah 7:33 et passim; Ezekiel 29:5 et passim; Daniel 2:38; Hosea 2:18; Hosea 4:3; Hosea 7:12; Zephaniah 1:3; Mark 4:3 (τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ); Luke 8:5; Luke 9:58; Luke 13:19; Acts 10:12; Acts 11:6 in all which passages the same original words in the Hebrew, Chaldee, and Greek Scriptures (שָׁמִיַן שָׁמִיַם . οὐρανίο) are with equal propriety rendered indifferently "air" and "heaven" — similarly we read of "the path of the eagle in the air" (Proverbs 30:19); of "the eagles of heaven" (Lamentations 4:19); of "the stork of the heaven" (Jeremiah 8:7); and of" birds of heaven" in general (Ecclesiastes 10:20; Jeremiah 4:25). In addition to these zoological terms, we have meteorological facts included under the same original words; e.g.
(b) "The dew of heaven" (Genesis 27:28; Genesis 27:39; Deuteronomy 33:28; Daniel 4:15 et passim; Haggai 10 Zechariah 8:12):
(c) "The clouds of heaven" (1 Kings 18:45; Psalms 147:8; Daniel 7:13; Matthew 24:30; Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62):
(d) The frost of heaven (Job 38:29):
(e) The winds of heaven (1 Kings 18:55; Psalms 78:26; Daniel 8:8; Daniel 11:4; Zechariah 2:6; Zechariah 6:5 [see margin]; Matthew 24:31; Mark 13:27):
(f) The rain of heaven (Genesis 8:2; Deuteronomy 11:11; Deuteronomy 28:12; Jeremiah 14:22; Acts 14:17[οὐρανόθεν ὑετούς ]; James 5:18; Revelation 18:6):
(g) Lightning, with thunder (Job 37:3-4; Luke 17:24).
(II.) Celum astriferum. The vast spaces of which astronomy takes cognizance are frequently referred to: e.g.
(a) in the phrase "host of heaven," in Deuteronomy 17:3; Jeremiah 8:2; Matthew 24:29 [δυνάμεις τῶν οὐρανῶν]; a sense which is obviously not to be confounded with another signification of the same phrase, as in Luke 2:13 (See ANGELS)
(b) Lights of heaven (Genesis 1:14-16; Ezekiel 32:8):
(c) Stars of heaven (Genesis 22:17; Genesis 26:4; Exodus 32:13; Deuteronomy 1:10; Deuteronomy 10:22; Deuteronomy 28:62; Judges 5:20; Nehemiah 9:23; Isaiah 13:10, Nahum 3:16; Hebrews 11:12).
(III.) Calum angeliferums. It would exceed our limits if we were to collect the descriptive phrases which revelation has given us of heaven in its sublimest sense, we content ourselves with indicating one or two of the most obvious:
(a) The heaven of heavens (Deuteronomy 10:14; 1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 2:6; 2 Chronicles 2:18; Nehemiah 9:6 Psalms 115:16; Psalms 148:4 :
(b) The third heavens (2 Corinthians 12:2):
(c) The high and lofty [place] (Isaiah 47:15): (d) The highest (Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:10; Luke 2:14, compared with Psalm 168:1). This heavenly sublimity was graciously brought down to Jewish apprehension in the sacred symbol of their Tabernacle and Temple, which they reverenced (especially in the adytum of "the Holy of Holies") as "the place where God's honor dwelt" (Psalms 26:8), and amidst the sculptured types of his celestial retinue, in the cherubim of the mercy-seat (2 Kings 19:15; Psalms 80:1 : Isaiah 37:16). III. Meaning of the Terms used in the Original. —
1. By far the most frequent designation of heaven in the Hebrew Scriptures is שָׁמִיַם, shama'yim, which the older lexicographers [see Cocceius, Lex. s.v.] regarded as the dual, but which Gesenius and Fü rst have restored to the dignity, which St. Jerome gave it, of the plural of an obsolete noun, שָׁמִי as (גּוֹרַם . plur. omf גּוֹי and מִיַם from מִי ). According to these recent scholars, the idea expressed by the word is height, elevation (Gesenius, Thes. p. 1453; Furst, Hebr. Wort. 2, 467). In this respect of: its essential meaning it resembles the Greek obpavoi [from the radical 6 p, denoting height] (Pott, Etymol. Forsch. 1, 123, ed. 1). Pott's rendering of this root op, by "sich erheben," reminds us of our own beautiful word heaven, which thus enters into brotherhood of signification with the grand idea of the Hebrew, Chaldee, and Greek.. Professor Bosworth, in his Anglo-Sax. Dict. under the verb hebban, to raise or elevate, gives the kindred words of the whole Teutonic family, and deduces there from the noun heofon or heofen, in the sense of heaven. — And although the primary notion of the Latin caelum (akin to κοῖλος and our hollow) is the less sublime one of a covered or vaulted space, yet the loftier sense of elevation has prevailed, both in the original (see White and Riddle, s.v. Caelum) and in the derived languages (comp. French ciel, and the English word ceiling)
2. Closely allied in meaning, though unconnected in origin with שָׁמִיַם, is the oft-recurring מָרוֹם, mardm'. This word is never Englished heaven, but "heights," or "high place," or "high places." There can, however, be no doubt of its celestial signification (and that in the grandest degree) in such passages as Psalms 68:18 [Hebr. 19]; 93:4; 102:19 [or in the Hebr. Bib. 20, where ַמְּרוֹם קָדנְשׁו ֹ is equal to the מַשָּׁמִיַם of the parallel clause]; similarly, Job 31:2; Isaiah 57:15; Jeremiah 25:30. Dr. Kalisch (Genesis, Introd. p. 21) says "It was a common belief among all ancient nations that at the summit of the shadow of the earth, or on the top of the highest mountain of the earth, which reaches with its crest into heaven the gods have their palace or hall of assembly," and he instances "the Babylonian Albordsh, the chief abode of Ormuzd, among the heights of the Caucasus; and the Hindoo Meru; and the Chinese Kulkun (or Kaen-lun); and the Greek Olympus (and Atlas); and the Arabian Caf; and the Parsee Tireh." He, however, while strongly and indeed most properly censuring the identification of Mount Meru with Mount Moriah (which had hastily been conjectured from "the accidental resemblance of the names"), deems it improbable that the Israelites should have entertained, like other ancient nations, the notion of local height for the abode of him whose "glory the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain;" and this he supposes on the ground that such a notion "rests essentially on polytheistic ideas." Surely the learned commentator is premature in both these statements.
(1.) No such improbability, in fact, unhappily, can be predicated of the Israelites, who in ancient times (notwithstanding the divine prohibitions) exhibited a constant tendency, to the ritual of their בָּמוֹת, or "high places." Gesenius makes a more correct statement when he says [Hebr. Lex. by Robinson, p. 138], "The Hebrews, like most other ancient nations, supposed that sacred rites performed on high places were particularly acceptable to the Deity.. Hence they were accustomed to offer sacrifices upon mountains and hills, both to idols and to God himself (1 Samuel 9:12 sq.; 1 Chronicles 13:29 sq.; 1 Kings 3:4; 2 Kings 12:2-3; Isaiah 45:7); and also to build there chapels, fanes, tabernacles (בָּתְּי הִבָּמוֹת, 1 Kings 13:32; 2 Kings 17:29), with their priests and other ministers of the sacred rites (כֹּהֲנֵי הִבָּמוֹת, 1 Kings 12:32; 2 Kings 17:32). So tenacious of this ancient custom were not only the ten tribes, but also all the Jews, that, even after the building of Solomon's Temple, in spite of the express law of Deuteronomy 12, they continued to erect such chapels on the mountains around Jerusalem."
(2.) Neither from the character of Jehovah, as the God of Israel, can the improbability be maintained, as if it were of the essence of polytheism only to localize Deity on mountain heights. "The high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy," in the proclamation which he is pleased to make of his own style, does not limit his abode to celestial sublimities; in one of the finest passages of even Isaiah's poetry, God claims as one of the stations of his glory the shrine of "a contrite and humble spirit" (Isaiah 57:15). His loftiest attributes, therefore, are not compromised, nor is the amplitude of his omnipresence compressed by an earthly residence. Accordingly, the same Jehovah who "walketh on the high places, בִּמוֹת, of the earth" (Amos 4:13); who "treadeth on the fastnesses, בָּמוֹת, of the sea" (Job 9:8); and "who ascendeth above the heights, בָּמוֹת, of the clouds," was pleased to consecrate Zion as his dwelling-place (Psalms 87:2), and his rest (Psalms 132:13-14). Hence we find the same word, מָרוֹם, which is often descriptive of the sublimest heaven, used of Zion, which Ezekiel calls "the mountain of the height of Israel," הִר מְרוֹם יַשְׂרָאֵל (Ezekiel 17:23; Ezekiel 20:40; Ezekiel 34:14).
3. גִּלְגֵּל , galgal'. This word, which literally meaning a wheel, admirably expresses rotatory movement, is actually rendered "heaven" in the A.V. of Psalms 77:18 : "The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven," בִּגִּלְגִּל [Sept. ἐν τῷ τροχῷ; Vulg. in rota]. Luther's version agrees with the A. Vers. in Himmel; and Dathe renders per orbem, which is ambiguous, being as expressive, to say the least, of the globe of the earth as of the circle of heaven. The Targum (in Walton, vol. iii) on the passage gives; בּגלגלא(il rota), which is as indeterminate as the original, as the Syriac also seems to be. De Wette (and after him Justus Olshausen, Die Ps erklä rt, 1. c.) renders the phrase "in the whirlwind." Maurer, who disapproves of this rendering, explains the phrase "rotated." But, amidst the uncertainty of the versions, we are disposed to think that it was not without good reason that our translators, in departing from the previous version (see Psalter, ad loc., which has, "the voice of thy thunder was heard round about"), deliberately rendered the passage in the heaven, as if the גלגל were the correlative of תֵּבֵל, both being poetic words, and both together equalled the heaven and the earth. In James 3:6, the remarkable phrase, τὸν τροχὸν τῆς γενέσεως, the course, circuit, or wheel of nature, is akin to our גלגל . (The Syriac renders the τροχόν by the same word, which occurs in the psalm as the equivalent of גִּלְגּל, Schaaf's Lex. Syr.; and of the same indefiniteness of signification.) That the general sense "heaven" best expresses the force of Psalms 77:18, is rendered probable, moreover, by the description which Josephus gives (Ant. 2, 16, 3) of the destruction of Pharaoh's host in the Red Sea, the subject of that part of the psalm, "Showers of rain descended from heaven, ἀπ, οὐρανοῦ, with dreadful thunders and lightning, and flashes of fire; thunderbolts were darted upon them, nor were there ‘ any indications of God's wrath upon men wanting on that dark and dismal night."
4. As the words we have reviewed indicate the height and rotation of the heavens, so the two we have yet to examine exhibit another characteristic of equal prominence, the breadth and expanse of the celestial regions. These are שִׁחִק, shach'ak (generally used in the plural) and רָקַיע . They occur together in Job 37:18 : "Hast thou with him spread out (תִּרַקַיע ) the sky or expanse of heaven?" — (לַשְׁחָקַים, where ל is the sign of the objective). We must examine them separately. The root שָׁחִק is explained by Gesenius to grind to powder, and then to expand by rubbing or beating. Meier (Hebr. Wurzelw. — b. p. 446) compares it with the Arabic shachaka, to make fine, to attenuate (whence the noun shachim, a thin cloud). With him agrees Furst (Hebrew. — b. 2, 433). The Heb. subst. is therefore well adapted to designate the sky region of heaven with its cloud dust, whether fine or dense. Accordingly, the meaning of the word in its various passages curiously oscillates between sky and cloud. When Moses, in Deuteronomy 33:26, lauds Jehovah's "riding in his excellence on the sky;" and when, in 2 Samuel 22:12, and repeated in Psalms 18:11 (12), David speaks of "the thick clouds of the skies;" when Job (Job 37:18) asks, "Hast thou with him spread out the sky?" when the Psalmist (Psalms 77:17 [18 ]) speaks of "the skies sending out a sound," and the prophet (Isaiah 45:8), figuratively, of their "pouring down righteousness;" when, finally, Jeremiah 51:9, by a frequently occurring simile [comp. Revelation 18:5, ἠκολοῦθησαν αὐτῆς αἱ ἁμαρτίαι ἄχρι τοῦ οὐρανοῦ], describes the judgment of Babylon as "lifted up even to the skies," in every instance our word שְׁחָקים in the plural is employed. The same word in the same form is translated "clouds" in Job 35:5; Job 36:28; Job 37:21; Job 38:37; in Psalms 36:5 (6); 57, 10 (11); Psalms 68:34 (35) [margin, "heavens"]; Psalms 78:23; in Proverbs 3:20; Proverbs 8:28. The prevalent sense of this word, we thus see, is a meteorological one, and falls under our first head of caelum nubiferum: its connection with the other two heads is much slighter. It bears probably an astronomical sense in Psalms 89:37 (38), where "the faithful witness in heaven" seems to be in apposition to the sun and the moon (Bellarmine, ad loc.), although some suppose the expression to mean the rainbow, "the witness" of God's covenant with Noah; Genesis 9:13 sq. (see J. Olshausen, ad loc.). This is perhaps the only instance of its falling under the class caelum astriferum; nor have we a much more frequent reference to the higher sense of the coehln angeliferum (Psalms 89:6 containing the only explicit allusion to this sense) unless, with Gesenius, Thes. s.v. we refer Psalm 58:35 also to it. More probably in Deuteronomy 33:26 (where it is parallel with שָׁמִיַם, and in the highly poetical passages of Isaiah 45:8, and Jeremiah 51:9, our word שְׁחָקַים may be best regarded as designating the empyreal heavens.
5. We have already noticed the connection between שְׁחָקַים and our only remaining word רָקַיע, raki'a, from their being associated by the sacred writer in the same sentence (Job 37:18); it tends to corroborate this connection that, on comparing Genesis 1:6 (and seven other passages in the same chapter) with Deuteronomy 33:26, we find רָקַיע of the former sentence, and שְׁחָקַים of the latter, both rendered by the Sept. οτερέωμα and firmamentum in the Vulg., whence the word "firmament" passed into our A.V. This word is now a well-understood term in astronomy, synonymous with sky or else the general heavens, undivested by the discoveries of science of the special signification which it bore in the ancient astronomy. (See FIRMAMENT).
For a clear exposition of all the Scripture passages which bear on the subject, we may refer the reader to professor Dawson's Archaia, especially chap. 8, and to Dr. M'Caul on The Mosaic Record of Creation (or, what is substantially the same treatise in a more accessible form, his Notes on the First Chapter of Genesis, sec. 9:p. 32-44). We must be content here, in reference to our term רָקַיעִ, to observe that, when we regard its origin (from the root רָקִע, to spread out or expand by beating; Gesen. s.v.; Fuller, Misc. Sacr. 1, 6; Furst, Hebr. — w. — b. s.v.), and its connection with, and illustration by, such words as שְׁחָקַים, clouds, and the verbs טָפִח (Isaiah 48:13, "My right hand hath spread out the heavens") and נָטָה (Isaiah 40:22, ‘‘ Who stretcheth out the heavens like a curtain" [literally, like fineness], "and spreadeth them out as a tent"), we are astonished at certain rationalistic attempts to control the meaning of an intelligible term, which fits in easily and consistently with the nature of things, by a few poetical metaphors, that are themselves capable of a consistent sense when lcell subordinate to the plainer passages of prose. The fuller expression is רְקַיִע הִשָּׁמִיַם (Genesis 1:14 sq.). That Moses understood it to mean a solid expanse is clear from his representing it as the barrier between the upper and lower waters (Genesis 1:6 sq.), i.e. as separating the reservoir of the celestial ocean (Psalms 104:3; Psalms 29:3) from the waters of the earth, or those on which the earth was supposed to float (Psalms 136:6). Through its open lattices (אֲיֻבּוֹת, Genesis 7:11; 2 Kings 7:2; 2 Kings 7:19; compare κόσκινον, Aristophanes, Nub. 373) or doors (דַּלָתִיַם, Psalms 78:23) the dew, and snow, and hail are poured upon the earth (Job 38:22; Job 38:37, where we have the curious expression "bottles of heaven," "utres caeli"). This firm vault, which Job describes as being "strong as a molten looking-glass" (Job 37:18), is transparent, like pellucid sapphire, and splendid as crystal (Daniel 12:3; Exodus 24:10; Ezekiel 1:22; Revelation 4:6), over which rests the throne of God (Isaiah 66:1; Ezekiel 1:26), and which is opened for the descent of angels, or for prophetic visions (Genesis 28:17; Ezekiel 1:1; Acts 7:56; Acts 10:11). In it, like gems or golden lamps, the stars are fixed to give light to the earth, and regulate the seasons (Genesis 1:14-19); and the whole magnificent, immeasurable structure (Jeremiah 31:37) is supported by the mountains as its pillars, or strong foundations (Psalms 18:7; 2 Samuel 22:8; Job 24:11). Similarly the Greeks believed in an οὐρανὸς πολύχαλκος (Hom. II. 5, 504), or σιδήρεος (Horn. Od. 15, 328), or ἀδάματος (Orph. Hymn. ad Coelum), which the philosophers called οτερέμνιον or κρυσταλλοειδές (Empedocles, ap. Plut. de Phil. plac. 2, 11; Artemid. ap. Sen. Nat. Quaest. 7, 13; quoted by Gesenius, s.v.). It is clear that very many of the above notions were metaphors resulting from the simple primitive conception, and that later writers among the Hebrews had arrived at more scientific views, although, of course, they retained much of the old phraseology, and are fluctuating and undecided in their terms. ‘ Elsewhere, for instance, the heavens are likened to a curtain (Psalms 104:2; Isaiah 40:22). (See COSMOGONY).
IV. Metaphorical Application of the Visible Heavens. — A door opened in heaven is the beginning of a new revelation. To ascend up into heaven signifies to be in full power. Thus is the symbol to be understood in Isaiah 14:13-14, where the king of Babylon says, "I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of God." To descend from heaven signifies, symbolically, to act by a commission from heaven. Thus our Savior uses the word "descending" (John 1:51) in speaking of the angels acting by divine commission, at the command of the Son of man. To fall from heaven signifies to lose power and authority, to be deprived of the power to govern, to revolt or apostatize.
The heaven opened. The natural heaven, being the symbol of the governing part of the political world, a new face in the natural, represents a new face in the political. Or the heaven may be said to be opened when the day appears, and consequently shut when night' comes on, as appears from Virgil (AEn. 10, 1), "The gates of heaven unfold," etc. Thus the Scripture, in a poetical manner, speaks of the doors of heaven (Psalms 78:23); of the heaven being shut (1 Kings 8:35); and in Ezekiel 1:1, the heaven is said to be opened. Midst of heaven may be the air, or the region between heaven and earth; or the middle station between the corrupted earth and the throne of God in heaven. In this sense, the air is the proper place where God's threatenings and judgments should be denounced. Thus, in 1 Chronicles 21:16, it is said that David saw the angel of the Lord stand between the earth and the heaven as he was just going to destroy Jerusalem with the pestilence. The angel's hovering there was to show that there was room to pray for mercy, just as God was going to inflict the punishment: it had not as yet done any execution.
C. Spiritual and Everlasting Sense, i.e. the state and place of blessedness in the life to come. Of the nature of this blessedness it is not possible that we should form any adequate conception, and, consequently, that any precise information respecting it should be given to us. Man, indeed, usually conceives the joys of heaven to be the same as, or at least to resemble, the pleasures of this world; and each one hopes to obtain with certainty, and to enjoy in full measure beyond the grave, that which he holds most dear upon earth-those favorite employments or particular delights which he ardently longs for here, but which he can seldom or never enjoy in this world, or in the enjoyment of which he is never fully satisfied. But one who reflects soberly on the subject will readily see that the happiness of heaven must be a very different thing from earthly happiness. In this world the highest pleasures of which our nature is capable satiate by their continuance, and soon lose the power of giving positive enjoyment. This alone is sufficient to show that the bliss of the future world must be of an entirely different kind from what is called earthly joy and happiness, if we are to be there truly happy, and happy brever. But since we can have no distinct conception of those joys which never have been and never will be experienced by us here in their full extent, we have, of course, no words in human language to express them, and cannot therefore expect any clear description of them even in the holy Scriptures. Hence the Bible describes this happiness sometimes in general terms, designating its greatness (as in Romans 8:18-22; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18), and sometimes by various figurative images and modes of speech, borrowed from everything which we know to be attractive and desirable.
The greater part of these images were already common among the Jewish contemporaries of Christ; but Christ and his apostles employed them in a purer sense than the great multitude of the Jews. The Orientals are rich in such figures. They were employed by Mohammed, who carried them, as his manner was, to an extravagant excess, but who at the same time said expressly that they were mere figures, although many of his followers afterwards understood them literally, as has been often done in a similar way by many Christians.
The following are the principal terms, both literal and figurative, which are applied in Scripture to the condition of future happiness.
a. Among the literal appellations we find ζωή, ζωὴ ηἰθ῎νιος, which, according to Hebrew usage, signify "a happy life," or "eternal well-being," and are the words rendered "life," "eternal life," and "life everlasting" in the A. Vers. (e.g. Matthew 7:14; Matthew 19:16; Matthew 19:29; Matthew 25:46): δόξα, δόξα τοῦ θεοῦ , ‘‘ glory," "the glory of God" (Romans 2:7; Romans 2:10; Romans 5:2); and εἰρηνη,," peace" (Romans 2:10). Also αἰώνιον βάρος δόξης , "an eternal weight of glory" (2 Corinthians 4:17); and σωτηρία, σωτηρία αἰώνιος, "salvation," "eternal salvation" (Hebrews 5:9), etc.
b. Among the figurative representations we may place the word "heaven" itself. The abode of departed spirits, to us who live upon the earth, and while we remain here, is invisible and inaccessible, beyond the bounds of the visible world, and entirely separated from it. There they live in the highest well being, and in a nearer connection with God and Christ than here below. This place and state cannot be designated by any more fit and brief expression than that which is found in almost every language, namely, "heaven" — a word in its primary and material signification denoting the region of the skies, or the visible heavens. This word, in Heb. שָׁמִיַם, in Gr. οὐρανός, is therefore frequently employed by the sacred writers, as above exemplified. It is there that the highest sanctuary or temple of God is situated, i.e. it is there that the omnipresent God most gloriously reveals himself. This, too, is the abode of (rod's highest spiritual creation. Thither Christ was transported: he calls it the house of his Father, and says that he has therein prepared an abode for his followers (John 14:2).
This place, this "heaven," was never conceived of in ancient times, as it has been by some modern writers, as a particular planet or world, but as the wide expanse of heaven, high above the atmosphere or starry heavens; hence it is sometimes called the third heaven, as being neither the atmosphere nor the starry heavens. Another figurative name is "Paradise," taken from the abode of our first parents in their state of innocence, and transferred to the abode of the blessed (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 12:4; Revelation 2:7; Revelation 22:2).
Again, this place is called "the heavenly Jerusalem" (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 3:12), because the earthly Jerusalem was the capital city of the Jews, the royal residence, and the seat of divine worship; the "kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 25:1; James 2:5); the "heavenly kingdom" (2 Timothy 4:18); the "eternal kingdom" (2 Peter 1:11). It is also called an "eternal inheritance" (1 Peter 1:4; Hebrews 9:15), meaning the possession and full enjoyment of happiness, typified by the residence of the ancient Hebrews in Palestine. The blessed are said "to sit down at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," that is, to be a sharer with the saints of old in the joys of salvation; "to be in Abraham's bosom" (Luke 16:22; Matthew 8:11), that is, to sit near or next to Abraham [see BOSOM]; "to reign with Christ" (2 Timothy 2:11), i.e. to be distinguished, honored, and happy as he is to enjoy regal felicities, to enjoy "a Sabbath," or "rest" (Hebrews 4:10-11), indicating the happiness of pious Christians both in this life and in the life to come.
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Heaven'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/h/heaven.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
the Third Sunday after Epiphany