1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had ceased to exist, and the sea existed no more. 2 And I saw the holy city—the new Jerusalem—descending out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Look! The residence of God is among human beings. He will live among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more—or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist.”
Chagigah 12bBabylonian Talmud
§ Rabbi Yehuda said: There are two firmaments, as it is stated: “Behold, to the Lord your God belongs the heaven and the heaven of heavens” (Deuteronomy 10:14), indicating that there is a heaven above our heaven. Reish Lakish said: There are seven firmaments, and they are as follows: Vilon, Rakia, Sheḥakim, Zevul, Ma’on, Makhon, and Aravot. The Gemara proceeds to explain the role of each firmament: Vilon, curtain, is the firmament that does not contain anything, but enters at morning and departs in the evening, and renews the act of Creation daily, as it is stated: “Who stretches out the heavens as a curtain [Vilon], and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in” (Isaiah 40:22). Rakia, firmament, is the one in which the sun, moon, stars, and zodiac signs are fixed, as it is stated: “And God set them in the firmament [Rakia] of the heaven” (Genesis 1:17). Sheḥakim, heights, is the one in which mills stand and grind manna for the righteous, as it is stated: “And He commanded the heights [Shehakim] above, and opened the doors of heaven; and He caused manna to rain upon them for food, and gave them of the corn of heaven” (Psalms 78:23–24). Zevul, abode, is the location of the heavenly Jerusalem and the heavenly Temple, and there the heavenly altar is built, and the angel Michael, the great minister, stands and sacrifices an offering upon it, as it is stated: “I have surely built a house of Zevul for You, a place for You to dwell forever” (I Kings 8:13). And from where do we derive that Zevul is called heaven? As it is written: “Look down from heaven and see, from Your holy and glorious abode [Zevul]” (Isaiah 63:15).
Notes and References
"... A description of the celestial Temple appears in the Babylonian Talmud, Hagigah 12b, where the Palestinian sage Resh Lakish lists the seven firmaments of heaven. In the fourth firmament, named Zevul, resides the heavenly Jerusalem, Temple, and altar ..."
Mandel, Paul The Sacrifice of the Souls of the Righteous upon the Heavenly Altar: Transformations of Apocalyptic Traditions in Medieval Ashkenaz (pp. 49-72) Liverpool University Press, 2018
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