Where does the idea of ​​the seven heavens come from? Is the idea of ​​a seventh heaven biblical? (2023)

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The mythology of the seven heavens is ancient, at least as old as ancient Babylon. Originally, the number may have been taken from the closest celestial bodies to Earth, including the planets visible to the naked eye: the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, the Sun, Jupiter, and Saturn. In later mythologies, the heavens seem to represent different levels of paradise for people who have attained increasing levels of piety. Of course, the idea that there are seven heavens is not universal; the Maori have between two and fourteen heavens; Polynesians have nine. And some cultures that started at seven later expanded.

The seven heavens of ancient Babylon

Unlike the flat earths in many creation myths, the earth in Babylonian mythology is believed to be a hollow hemisphere, much like a bowl or bowlKufaBoat - sit upside down. Above is the "lower firmament" or atmosphere. Then the kingdom of the planets, also called "sheep", "wanderers" or "observers", as well as lightning and thunder. Wanderers also have corresponding rulers:

Per month:Sünde (AKA: Nanna, Su'en)

Mercury:Nabu (Heaven from Isaiah 46:1)

Venus:Ishtar (AKA: Astarte, Aphrodite, Artemis,Asherahfrom 1 Samuel 31:10)

Marte:Nergal (2 Reyes 17:30)

Sonne:Shamash (aka Samas)

Jupiter:Marduk (guardian deity of the city of Babylon, see Jeremiah 50:2)

Saturn:Ninib (possibly Nimrod from Genesis 10:8-9)

Keep in mind that conceptions of the gods have changed quite a bit depending on the time, region and local customs of worship. For example, Nergal is sometimes associated with a certain aspect of the sun. These seven gods were given the authority to determine fate. The Spirit of Heaven dwells on their planets. Even further away is the "Great Celestial Ocean" which is the home of the Zodiac. Eventually, the "Great Chaotic Crystalline Sea" will consume everything.

(Video) The Seven Heavens in Scripture and Symbol

Below the hemisphere of the earth's surface are reflections of the seven wanderers, representing the underworld inhabited by spirits and the king of the dead. It is to these lower realms that people go when they die. There is no indication that dead people were destined to ascend to heaven.

The seven Hindu heavens

The Hindu text Puranas also teaches that there are seven upper worlds (Vyahrtisor heaven) and seven underworlds. Contrary to Babylonian mythology, all worlds are destined for man after death. After death, the god of death, Yama, counts a person's life and determines how long he will remain in which of the upper and lower worlds according to the karma he acquired during his last incarnation. Once the required sojourns are completed, the soul reincarnates on Earth. The Hindu heavens are:

Satyaloka:the abode of Brahma (he can live over Satyaloka) and the greatest sages

Tapaloka:the place of the second greatest sages in recognition of their impeccable observance of rituals

Janaloka:the world for lifelong celibates

Maharloka:the place for those who have voluntarily gone through a period of celibacy

Svarloka:a group of planets housing minor deities, bards, and other divine beings

Bhuvarloka:the earth's atmosphere; Home to spirits and spirits trapped in Limbo before being reborn

Bhurloka:the earth and other planets with similar properties; the only place where people can accumulate good or bad karma

Some believe that a person could spend time in both heaven and hell; For example, when a lifelong celibate person did something wrong that needed to be corrected. When enough good karma is earned, the soul can finally break the cycle and attain nirvana.

The Seven Heavens of Judaism

The Hebrew word for heavenShamayimis always plural. Different traditions have different numbers of heavens; The Jewish mystical text, the Zohar, states that there are 390 heavens and 70,000 worlds. As science advances, the understanding of the seven heavens becomes less literal and more allegorical as a description of how God interacts with His creation.

Mystical Judaism says that devotees can find their way through heaven if they pass certain tests and know the names of the guardian angels. At each level the mystic may receive a certain wisdom. Some Jewish scholars say that Paul's journey to the "third heaven" is an example of this (2 Corinthians 12:2-4). According to legend, when Moses went to Mount Sinai, God opened all the heavens and let the Israelites see (Exodus 19:10-11).

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The characteristics of the seven heavens vary by source and have been debated by Talmud rabbis for centuries. The Apocrypha 2 of Enoch (written perhaps just before the fall of the Temple in AD 70) contains many details. But the book cannot be a true account since it was written almost 4,000 years after God took the biblical Enoch. The story may have been adopted by Zoroastrianism.

Originally 2 Enoch mentions seven heavens; it was later changed to ten, possibly by the Eastern Orthodox Church in the 7th century. What each of the heavens contains or represents varies by narrator. The story claims that Enoch went through the heavens with the angels, returned to earth and told his family, and then was assumed back into heaven (Genesis 5:24). The heavens he visited were:

Vilon ("curtain"):a curtain rolled over the earth at night to shield the sun (Isaiah 40:22); contains the atmosphere, satellite stars, snow and dew; home of Adam and Eve; ruled by Gabriel; calledcoulisseÖVelobecause it obscures or conceals the other six levels; represented by the moon

Racks/Raks ("Erweiterung", "Pavilion"):possibly referring to the frozen canopy over the earth before the Flood (Genesis 1:7-8; Deuteronomy 11:11); Moses visited Paradise here to receive the Ten Commandments; fallen angels are imprisoned here for marrying human women (Genesis 6:4); Residence of souls awaiting judgment, including "renowned men", apostates, tyrants; calledrenewalbecause that is where the sun and the planets dwell (Genesis 1:14, 17); represented by Mercury

Shehakim/Shehakim/Shehakim ("Clouds"):Eden and the tree of life, the mill that produces manna; also includes Paradise and Hell/Hades (Psalm 78:23-24); represented by Venus

Zebul ("residence"):stratosphere, sun, moon and "big four stars" including celestial mechanics; abode of the winds; calledZimmerbecause there stands the New Jerusalem with its temple (Isaiah 63:15); represented by the sun

Ma'on ("Refuge"):home of "Grigori", fallen angels who mourn their brothers in Raqi'a; Hell/Gehenna; Michael or possibly Samael presides; full of ministering angels singing at night; calledrefugebecause that is where most of the angels dwell; represented by Mars

Makhon/Mahon/Makon ("city", "settled place"):Home of angels responsible for the cycles of nature and good systems of government in the world; angels who write the deeds of men in books; ruled by Samael, a dark servant of God; repository of rain, snow, and hail (Deuteronomy 28:12); calledCitybecause the city of angels resides there; represented by Jupiter

Araboth/Aravot ("Forsaken"):also known as the tenth heaven; The throne of glory and God dwell here, as well as the unborn human souls, seraphim, cherubim, righteousness, righteousness, souls of the righteous, and light unspeakable (Psalm 68:5); calledDesertbecause it has no moisture or air; God also said to be in seventh heaven; represented by Saturn

Judaism's belief in multiple heavens may have been influenced by Zoroastrianism, but it is unclear how Zoroastrianism influenced Judaism or if it was vice versa. Jews who were exiled to Babylon and did not return to Jerusalem would have been exposed to Zoroastrian laypeople. Judaism may have had the idea of ​​multiple heavens at the time. In fact, the word "paradise," one of many words used to reflect the sky, comes from Persian and means "enclosed park or garden."

Judaism may also have been influenced by ancient Babylonian tales. Perhaps Abraham brought the mythology of Ur with him, the parallel belonging to the celestial bodies indicates a closer kinship with the Babylonian than with the Zoroastrian stories.

The seven heavens of Islam

Islam adopted the idea of ​​the seven heavens from the apocryphal Jewish scriptures. In Islam the word heaven is garden. It is a place where all desires are fulfilled. The levels are separated by doors that can be opened when the person observes certain rituals on earth, such as jihad, almsgiving, fasting, and pilgrimage to Mecca.

The Qur'an briefly mentions Muhammad's journey through the seven heavens, but the hadith literature describes the story in more detail. Muhammad was half asleep in the Holy Mosque of Mecca when the angel Gabriel appeared with Buraq, the heavenly steed of the prophets. Buraq took Muhammad to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, where Muhammad prayed and was tested. Once he passed the tests, Gabriel and Buraq took him on a tour of the skies. Muhammad claimed he met several people on different levels: 1. Adam, 2. Jesus and John the Baptist, 3. Joseph, son of Jacob, 4. the Muslim prophet Idris, 5. Aaron the priest, 6. Moses, 7. Abraham. In the seventh heaven he also saw the Nile and the Euphrates and possibly the tree of life.

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But it is doubtful that the Mohammed story is original. In a Zoroastrian story that predates Islam by more than 1,000 years, the priest Arta Viraf is said to have traveled to heaven to converse with Ormazd, the great deity of the entire universe.

Heaven by Dante

In the third part ofThe Divine Comedy, “Paradiso”, Dante Alighieri also narrates different planes of heaven, albeit always with the intention of being metaphorical. The celestial bodies represent virtues that increase in quality over time. Then there are the three theological virtues and the three cornerstones. Taken together, they closely resemble Babylonian mythology.

Per month:incomplete strength; the fickle one who broke vows and whose faith waxed and waned

Mercury:incomplete justice; those who coveted earthly treasures more than divine justice, though the value of their treasure is nothing compared to the glory of God, as Mercury is hard to see so close to the sun

Venus:incomplete self-control; those who loved another more than God

Sonne:Wisdom; those who gave light to others with their wisdom; Home of great Christian scholars

Marte:Strength; martyrs of Christianity

Jupiter:Justice; Rulers and kings who administered justice

Saturn:Moderation; Monks who lived a contemplative life

The fixed stars:divided into three levels containing those who have mastered faith, hope and love; includes Adam, the Virgin Mary, and also the apostles as "representatives" who did Christ's will on earth

The Triumphant Church:Mankind cleansed by the blood of Christ

Erstes Handy ("first movement"):Angels and other creatures never defiled by original sin

Der Empyrean:technically it is not a plane of heaven as it is not material; God's dwelling

(Video) The 7 Heavens & Their Rulers: Angels Of Jewish Lore (Part 3): Angelology

The Bible

But does the Bible mention seven heavens? Not as the Talmud claims. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:2 that he was taken up into the "third heaven." Although it appears to be the place of spiritual beings, it is no longer spoken of. The biblical examples of the seven heavens in the Old Testament are careful attempts to confirm extra-biblical teachings.

But the concept of heaven is complicated by the limitations of the English language. When it comes to "good places that people go after they die," the Bible mentions several, and some are called "heaven." That doesn't mean it's layers on top of each other that we can aim for.

The atmosphere on earth:Genesis 1:1 says that God created heaven and earth. As mentioned, the Hebrew word here,Shamayim, distinct from the word used for the place where souls go after death. It's also plural, which is heartburning to interpret. It can mean heaven, space, or God's dwelling place, but here it's pretty obvious that it means heaven, since verse 28 mentions birds living there.

The temporary paradise to which Old Testament Christians and followers of God go after death:This is called paradise (2 Corinthians 12:3; Revelation 2:7; Luke 23:43), "Abraham's bosom" (Luke 16:19-31), orseol(Hebrew) thehell(Greek), these are generic terms for the place after death.

The place where God now dwells:this is alsoShamayimin the Old Testament. When John visited heaven in Revelation, it was the GreekUranus, which has the same ambiguous meaning. It seems that heaven is a metaphor for God's dwelling place. Since he is spirit and not bound to linear time, he could not literally "live" in heaven.

The new heaven and the new earth:After the great war at the end of the millennium, God will destroy and make new the earth and heavens (Revelation 21-22). If he does that, he will dwell with his people. All of God's people will live there for eternity. The “heaven” here is also the GreekUranus. When people talk about living forever in "heaven," they really mean the New Heaven and New Earth.

The only place the Bible mentions more than one heaven is 2 Corinthians 12:2: “I know a man in Christ who was caught up in the third heaven fourteen years ago; whether in the body or out of the body I don't know You know, God knows." And I know that this man was raptured into paradise, whether in the body or out of the body I don't know, God knows: "This should not teach multiple levels of heaven like other religions show. Instead, it distinguishes between the atmosphere of the earth, outer space, and the spiritual abode of God. When the Scriptures say that God lives in heaven, using the same words as heaven, it does not mean that God lives with the clouds or the stars, but rather that He is above us spiritually and not by the limitations of earthly creatures is burdened . . .


Originally, the idea of ​​seven heavens probably came from the seven celestial bodies that are closest to us. How mythology came to Judaism is unknown; Abraham may have brought it from Ur, but it is not supported in the Bible. There is no biblical support for the idea that God created seven heavens.

Related Truth:

Is heaven real?

Is there really life after death?

What happens after death?

How can I be sure that I will go to heaven after I die?

(Video) The Seven Heavens | Mike Mazzalongo | BibleTalk.tv

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