Ancient Hebrew Cosmology

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    The preceding description of the world doesn't share the same scientific view that we have, in which the Earth is one planet around one sun in a universe full of suns and planets. The ancient picture of the universe portrays a world in which the Earth is a disc surrounded by water not only on the sides, but underneath and above as well. A firm bowl (the firmament) keeps the upper waters back but has gates to let the rain and snow through. The Sun, Moon, and stars move in fixed tracks along the underside of this bowl. From below the disc, the waters break through as wells, rivers and the ocean, but the Earth stands firm on pillars sunk into the waters like the pillings of a pier. Deep below the Earth is Sheol, the abode of the dead, which can be entered only through the grave.

    As portrayed in the illustration, the biblical cosmos consisted of three basic regions: the heavens, the land, and the underworld. In conclusion, by understanding how biblical writers viewed the cosmos, readers are in a better position to properly interpret the Creation, the Flood, and other biblical stories, and to place them in their proper context. The Bible is not a book of science. It was written in a pre-scientific era and its main purpose was to communicate moral and spiritual lessons. The Children of Israel had no advantage over their neighbors when it came to matters of science. In fact, this erroneous concept of the cosmos was quite common for that era. The Hebrews were inspired by nothing more than their political and religious motivations. Thus, being ignorant of scientific facts, they thought the earth was flat, that sick people were possessed by demons, and that essentially everything was caused by either gods or demons. Unfortunately, many people are still just as ignorant today.

    All Christian sects recognize the Bible as the primary source of revelation. This compiled material was allegedly inspired by God and written by chosen authors to reveal him and his will to man. The Bible, then, is the foundation of the Christian religion. To Christian fundamentalists who believe in verbal inspiration, the Bible is an infallible foundation. They claim that "the Holy Spirit so dominated and guided the minds and pens of those who wrote (the Bible) as to make their writings free from mistakes of any and all kinds, whether it be mistakes of history or chronology or botany or biology or astronomy, or mistakes as to moral and spiritual truth pertaining to God or man, in time or eternity," (Wilbur F. Tillett, "The Divine Elements in the Bible," The Abingdon Bible Commentary).

    © Copyright 2009 Michael Paukner. All Rights Reserved.
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    1. Arturo1147 51 months ago | reply

      Spoffy is spot on.
      How did you decide Sheol is icy cold?
      From the Zohar, or other?

    2. Steven.g 51 months ago | reply

      Great design work! Just a couple of things to take into account. Based on the 2 scriptures below the ancient Hebrews/israelites did have a proper view of the shape of the Earth and that it was held in place by an invisible force.

      Isaiah 40:22 (New International Version) He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth

      Job 26:7 (New American Standard Bible) "He stretches out the north over empty space And hangs the earth on nothing.

      Enjoyed seeing your work, very creative.

    3. mlwebco 51 months ago | reply

      This nice.

    4. iDayDream 51 months ago | reply

      Absolutely amazing. Wonderful job.

    5. chrisgannon 46 months ago | reply

      Lovely graphic - very comforting somehow :)

    6. adelinehei 46 months ago | reply

      it's clean,but meaningful!

    7. Big Fat Baby 43 months ago | reply

      excellent work.
      very pleasing to the eye, and general composition just works great!

      on a more technical note - Judaism does not believe in the concept of heaven and hell.
      Sheol in Hebrew means abyss so it's fairly close to the notion of hell.

      the Jewish people do believe in an afterlife however many streams in Judaism tend to describe it quite differently - so no one belief about that :)

      other than that it's a really good piece of work!

    8. projectprobe20 41 months ago | reply

      If the ancient Hebrews really believed that the firmament was a great solid dome held up by mountain pillars as Michael Paukner would have us believe then I suppose they also believed that the earth under their feet was made of iron (Deut. 28: 23) and that when God dug its foundations he used a plumb line and even laid a cornerstone in its construction (Job 38: 4-6)! My point is ignorance of the use of metaphor in the Bible will lead to many erroneous conclusions about ancient Hebrew cosmology. The use of metaphors like “foundations” and “pillars” put word pictures in the minds of the ancient Hebrews to describe what we today call gravity which firmly holds the earth in its orbit around the sun in space which on one hand seems like a nothingness upon which the earth is suspended as Job 26: 7 says: "He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing." Yet on the other hand as Geophysicist Dr. Larry Vardiman and Physicist Dr. Russell Humphreys point out “Both science and Scripture strongly imply that space is a solid material [translated “firmament” in the KJV from the Hebrew “raqia”] that we cannot see or feel, though quantum field theory suggest it is extremely dense. We move freely through it and it moves freely through us.”

      As for the waters above the heavens there is probably more truth to this than has been previously understood or considered. Physicist Dr. Russell Humphreys has developed a cosmological model based on a straight forward reading of the Genesis account of creation in conjunction with Albert Einstein's theory of Relativity. Known as White hole cosmology it offers a better explanation for several things in or universe than does Big Bang cosmology. Paramount to this cosmology is that the universe is bounded i.e. it has an edge and a center (just as the Bible implies) whereas in the Big Bang cosmology the universe is unbounded; it has no edge or center.

      In light of Albert Einstein's theory of Relativity a bounded universe that has expanded from a smaller size to what we now observe would produce some startling effects.

      Readers can check it out at the following links
      creationwiki.org/White_hole_cosmology
      www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/magazines/ tj/docs/v17n...
      creation.com/new-time-dilation-helps-creation -cosmology

    9. nageljr 36 months ago | reply

      Is there a way I can have permission to show this in a YouTube video on Noah's Flood?

    10. majicdragon1 30 months ago | reply

      the sun is the large and the moon is the small Magellanic Cloud; the earth is the Milky Way.

      Adam was a race of men created upon the Milky Way Galaxy:

      Genisis 5 2 :
      Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

      Eve was also male and female,

      see it now!, i command you. hehe.

    11. majicdragon1 30 months ago | reply

      with god, a day is as 1000 years...; it's a puzzle....

      so we take the days of Adam's life and multiply by one thousand years.

      and darkness becomes light.

    12. majicdragon1 30 months ago | reply

      now we see a 2.5 billion year history of man upon the Milky Way Galaxy; this picture is from ancient Hebrew knowledge and understanding. it's time for our spiritual evolution revolution, babes... yeah!

    13. majicdragon1 30 months ago | reply

      ...or not, it's all up to you not me.

    14. Τ 29 months ago | reply

      Superb graphical design of a superbly stupid concept. :o)

    15. f_joshy 27 months ago | reply

      but, in many of your postings you wrote about how they used technology that we don't even have today to build structures and move 440 ton stones and calculate astronomy using mechanical machines hundreds to thousands of years before us so how can you say that the hebrews lived in a time where they were scientifically and mathematically ignorant? you're contradicting yourself just to prove your own selfish beliefs.

    16. f_joshy 27 months ago | reply

      and are you ignorant enough to believe that when they say a pillar holds up the sky they literally mean a physical pillar? I'm loving your graphic design and stuff but man you are just trying to find doubt in other peoples beliefs what the fuck is wrong with someone being religious? You contradict yourself and close your eyes to what you don't want too see so you're not proven wrong. you are sad.

    17. t_man_2009 19 months ago | reply

      Every question has an answer, and I know everyone has a longing to know the truth about things. If you would, please consider some of the links below, I think you will be surprised at how many scientific findings have been responded to by intelligent, realistic, and Jesus loving Christians. And by all means, be the judge of these presentations. If their position isn't supported by their evidence, then you can write off their arguments.

      video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8463129851563631666
      www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/does-starlight-prove

      ~ I think its also important to consider this question. Is "the ancient hebrew conception of the universe" the same thing as "the scriptural conception of the universe"? The text and the author's intention always stand independent of the audience's perception. The text means what it says, but it does not say what is illustrated above.

    18. mapsgal1 9 months ago | reply

      Michael, I was wondering if you would be willing to give me permission to publish this image of yours in my forthcoming book on Ways of Seeing Maps? Pls let me know. thanks!

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