Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The World to the Ancient Hebrews


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The above is a map of the cosmos according to the Ancient Hebrews (from the Saint Joseph Edition of The New American Bible). The map, while a modern creation, teaches one much about the cosmoslogical/geographical outlook of long ago.

The first striking thing I noticed was the lay of the land was not of primary importance. What mattered was the heavens and the underworld's relationship to the earth. Water encompassed everything (water being the "end" of everything for non-sea fearing people).

The Universe from Top-down goes:
  • The highest point of the universe is the divine seat (Heaven) where God lives.
  • Below that is an ocean where precipitation falls while being controlled by floodgates. The gates are connected to walls which connect to the earth by a mountainous wall.
  • In the middle is the earth.
  • Below the earth is Sheol. Sheol is the home of the dead both righteous and wicked.
  • The world is supporting by pillars which sit upon the abyss.
  • The abyss has had several interpretations. It has been viewed as the ocean the earth emerged from, the original choas before God created order, and even Hell (the Book of Relevation tells the Beast will come from the Abyss). What ever it is in cosmology one thing is certain - you do not want to go down there!

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