Most people who have tried to get a deeper insight on the basic concept of the ancient cosmology either from a general scientific or philosophical point of view are doubtful about the truthfulness of such knowledge and regard them as simply superstitious or fairy tales. This general attitude is amplified as modern physics posits its own version which differs significantly from those of the ancient.
The mainstream physicists regard the universe as a four-dimensional continuum instead of classically three. They give, however, no rationalization on why the nature of dimensions are so different from one (time) to the other (space). This may happen if and only if the symmetry of such continuum was broken. The ignorance of this very basic conception brings modern physics into trouble as we see today.
The ancient people were fully aware of the important role of this symmetry breaking and put it as the central theme of their cosmogony. It might be expressed in various ways, but the theme was always the same i.e. the split of a primordial (preexisting) body into a tripartite cosmic structure.
The Bible, or Torah to be more precise, provided a means to demonstrate the trustworthiness of its contents. It made use of the world creation story, Genesis 1, placed on its preamble as a test for anybody to challenge the Book’s credibility. As Genesis technically describes a universal conception about the origin of the world, it can be challenged anytime as science progresses. Once this part of Genesis was scientifically refuted, the whole content of the Book would be at stake of being turned down as rubbish.
Genesis depictions of the cosmic creation is parallel to that of the mainstream ancient cosmologies on the creation of tripartite cosmic structures as the outcome of the separation or series of separations of the preexisting body. The successive creation of the tripartite structures are expressed as heaven-earth-heaven a) (Genesis 1.1), water above-firmament-water below (Genesis 1.6), and water-dry land-water (Genesis 1.9).
This tripartite concept can be traced back 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). 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.
Nobody is able to comprehend the teaching properly and many anthropologists have misinterpreted that as a secret receipt of oil-containing medicine. And so this fundamental heaven knowledge remains buried in secret for thousands of years. What he handed down was more technical i.e. the tripartite structure of an oil-water mixture, where a boundary (interface) in the midst of the oil and water divides the water which is under the interface from the oil which is above the interface.
If we refer to Genesis 1.6-1.7, there is complete parallel between these verses with the Enmenduranki’s separation of oil and water:
“And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament”.
The notions of Enmenduranki’s oil and water interface and Genesis’ firmament are so closely related which in this context representing the space. As the interface and the firmament are 3-dimensional, Enmenduranki’s oil and water and Genesis’ waters are four-dimensional continuum.
In modern physics, we may correlate those interface and firmament to a mathematical entity called hypersuface or a “flat” manifold called brane in physics which may have higher number of dimensions.
The word firmament or firmamentum in Latin is the translation of the Hebrew word of “raqia” which root means gold leaf which goldsmith hammers it very thin analogous to the thinness of the oil and water interface 2).
In the other ancient cosmologies 3) the tripartite cosmic structure was personified such as Ancient Egypt’s Nut-Shu-Geb or Summerian’s An-Enlil-Ki , comparable to Enmenduranki’s physical oil-interface-water or the Genesis’ water above-firmament-water below. The cosmos tripartite structure resulted from the separation of the pre-existing heaven seemed to be the mainstream of the ancient cosmology school of thoughts.
The Summerians used the word tin to describe the earth (firmament). The ancients whether they were Summerians, Babylon or Hebrews used a similar representation of the space i.e. something very thin such as thin interface, gold leaf (raqia) or a tin leaf.
The use of thin heaven metals instead of the interface of waters to represent the firmament indicates that the earth (lowest heaven) was in the solid phase different from the higher heavens which may be in either the phase of water, air or fire.
As stated previously the “solid” firmament in the ancient cosmology can be correlated to the idea of brane in modern physics. The brane, which mathematically equivalent to the hyper-surface may have two, three or much higher dimensions depending on the dimensions of the bulk it is embedded.
Sooner or later, the Big Bang theory, the current mainstream cosmology which is based on the creation out of nothing b) will be replaced by a creation theory based on separation or series of separations as our ancients adopted thousands of years ago.
a) The expression of heaven and earth should be interpreted as correlative terms. Heaven should be identified with everything high and earth with everything low. In the context of multiverse, a specific universe could stand for the earth if it is correlated to a higher universe, but stand for heaven if correlated to another universe which is lower.
b). The nothingness exists only in human mind; it has no physical reality. The spacetime (cosmos) is not an independent reality, it is a geometrical structure of energy or action (aeon). There could be no empty spacetime (no matter and no energy) exists in nature as some physicists assumed in their theory, otherwise there would be no spacetime at all.
1. Barmachi, Faraj: Treasures of the Iraq Museum, Iraq Ministry of Information, Baghdad, 1976.
2. Friedman, R.E.: Commentary on the Torah, Harper San Francisco, New York, 2001
3. Wright, J.E.: The Early History of Heaven, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2000.