Ancient Heavens and Earth

In the ancient creation myths the cosmos was commonly described as having a tripartite structure expressed in various ways as the separation of heaven-earth-heaven a), water above-firmament-water below, water-dry land-water such as cited respectively in Genesis 1.1, 1.6 and 1.9. In the ancient Egyptians and Sumerian, the cosmic structure was represented through personification of gods such as Nut-Shu-Geb  in Egypt and An-Enlil-Ki in Sumerian.

Metaphorically, the similar tripartite structure can be easily visualized from the daily phenomenon i.e. the separation of oil-water system:  oil-interface-water. This bold teaching on how the creation may take place b) can be traced back far remote in time to a respectable Babylonian king under the name of Enmenduranki as the seventh ruler in the Mesopotamian dynasties reigning before the Flood 1).

Some scholars claimed that En-mendur-anki was the historical character of Enoch. He was believed to become the source of all human knowledge after having learned all the secrets of divination in heaven. The legend tells that while he ascended to heaven he was shown in the middle of divine assembly how to observe oil on water 2).

This divine demonstration had nothing to do with the secret medical receipt revelation as many scholars thought. What Enmenduranki actually wanted to show us was the daily phenomenon about the natural creation of the interface in the separation process of two immiscible liquids such as oil and water (Figure-1A). The tripartite structure generated as the outcome of  separation process was the general model adopted by the ancients.

Following this pattern, the text of Genesis 1.1 about the creation of heavens c) and earth may be interpreted as implicitly narrates about the separation of preexisting-heaven d) to generate a tripartite structure of heaven-earth-heaven (Figure-1B). Genesis 1.6 similarly describes about the separation of primordial water to generate a cosmic structure of water above-firmament-water below (Figure-1C). Genesis 1.9 describes the separation to create the material universe structure of water-dry land-water (Figure-1D).

Nobody was aware that Genesis implicitly describes a series of separations generating multi-heavens.

It is interesting to note that Genesis implicitly shows various physical phases of the creations’ substances e). The first creation (Genesis 1.1) doesn’t point out to specific substances. However, by considering the next verses it can be interpreted as the separation of air-water system. The second creation (Genesis 1.6) explicitly refers to the separation of water-water substance generating water-watery interface-water, whilst the third (Genesis 1.9) refers to the separation of solid-water, of which the solid (dry land) is the final objective of the creation, the material world where our physical body lives in (Figure 2).

This lowest heaven is valso implicitly expressed in the root of the Genesis’ word raqia 3)  as a thin solid gold leaf or tin leaf in Sumerian cosmology which indicate the solidity of this lowest material heaven.

It may be correlated to the creation of Seven Heavens that Genesis-1 may not explicitly narrate. The existence of these heavens are quoted  in some ancient stories and stated explicitly in several verses in the Koran. The Genesis’ seven days of creations may also be correlated to the different time dimensions that those Seven Heavens individually possesses.

The Koran extensively employs the expression “heaven and earth” and “heavens and earth” over 200 times. The pairing of the two terms and their conceptual interrelationship make it practically impossible to mention one without the other. The Koran states explicitly that the heavens and earth existed together in an undifferentiated state before creation.

The basic meaning of the word sama’ (heaven) in Arabic is the higher, upper, highest or uppermost in addition to sky, clouds, and rain. The word ard (earth) is the ground, anything that is low.

When mentioning heaven [or heavens] and earth, the Koran often adds the expression “everything between the two” thus giving the tripartite structure “heaven-everything in between-earth, which is a little bit different from the other tripartite structures.  The pair of heaven and earth denotes a specific type of relationship that of giving and receiving, and  “everything between the two” refers to the result of the relationship 4).

This relationship between the tripartite is analogous to that of the tripartite cosmic structure derived from the   finalized relativity theory which includes the symmetry breaking phenomenon.


a). The term heavens is the translation of the Hebrew word samayim, related to the Akkadian term samu and has analog in Arabic (Koranic) samawi. This term typically signifies things that occur naturally in pairs or plural. Some scholars wrongly suggested to interpret this plural form as expressing the vastness or expanse 2).

b). Naturally the dimensions of the cosmos model should be projected to higher dimensional reality. We should think that such a two-dimensional interface represents the space (technically may be called 3-hypersurface or 3-brane) whilst [three-dimensional] oil and water represent parts of the four-dimensional [split] world (technically called 4-spacetime).

c). Some versions use singular form to this notion as people wrongly think this as the creation of the sky surrounding the planet earth. The heavens and earth here are discussed in the context of multiverse and used in correlative terms in which heaven is identified with everything high and earth with everything low.

d). The beginning in Genesis 1.1 is not absolute. It is the translation of Hebrew word “beresith” which is interpreted as a relative beginning. As such there could be pre-existing bodies (heavens) before Genesis beginning. The Genesis creations of heavens and earth could be thought as the continuation of a long series of separations prior to Genesis beginning.

e). The ancients referred to four fundamental substances (pillars) from which grand cosmos was built. We may interpret this as the outcome of successive grand separations of cosmos’ elements in descending degree of its dimensions and energy from the hottest substance, fire,  into air, water down to the cold solid (material universe) as depicted in Fig-3A.

The lowest heaven of the Seven heavens resides  within the sphere of solid which itself embedded in the water sphere where the higher heavens reside. These two spheres together with the seven heavens inside often called the World of the Kingdom. Beyond are the embedding larger (higher dimensional) sphere of air which itself embedded  in the  even higher dimensional sphere of fire. These outer spheres are often called The World of the Dominion (Fig. 3B)


1. Barmachi, Faraj: Treasures of the Iraq Museum, Iraq Ministry of Information, Baghdad, 1976.

2. Wright, J.E.: The Early History of Heaven, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2000.

3. Friedman, R.E.: Commentary on the Torah, Harper San Francisco, New York, 2001

4. Murata S. : “The Tao of Islam”‘, State University of New York Press”, 1992, p. 119

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