The Third Heaven

Rosa Celeste: Dante and Beatrice gaze upon the...

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The Third Heaven is a spiritual division of the universe within Judeo-Christian cosmology. In some traditions it is considered the abode of God,[1] and in others a lower level of Paradise, commonly one of seven

References to distinct concepts known as “Heaven” (Heb. Shamayim) occur in the very earliest books of the Old Testament.[1] The first use of the word heaven, in Genesis 1:8 and 20 refers to the atmosphere over the earth in which birds fly. The second, mentioned in Genesis 1:14, is the setting for the celestial lights, later identified (Genesis 1:16) as the sun, moon and stars.

A third concept of Heaven, also called shamayi h’shamayim (םשמיה שמי: the “Heaven of Heavens”) is mentioned in such passages as Genesis 28:12, Deuteronomy 10:14 and 1 Kings 8:27 as a distinctly spiritual realm containing (or being traveled by) angels and God Himself.[3]

Due to the ambiguity of the term “Heaven” as it is used in the Old Testament books, and the fact that the word in Hebrew, shamayim, (םשמי) is plural, a number of interpretations have been offered for various texts involving its nature, notably the assumption of the prophet Elijah.

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