Ancient Hebrew Cosmology

Ancient Hebrew Cosmology March 4, 2017

Ben Stanhope shared the following image he made depicting how ancient Hebrews understood their physical world:


I might quibble about minor details – for instance, I think that when Genesis talks about the waters gathering together into one place called “seas,” it has in mind the Mediterranean and adjoining seas in the midst of the land, and not oceans as yet unexplored around the edges. But on the whole, I appreciate this artistic rendering.

See also other depictions of ancient Hebrew cosmology that I have shared in the past.

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  • John MacDonald

    The graphic seems like an excellent tool to use with students that are more “visual learners,” rather than students with primarily “linguistic” and “mathematical/logical” aptitudes who may benefit from the same information being presented verbally in a lecture or essay (although, we are all primarily visual learners anyway, so the graphic should be beneficial to most students).

    Actually, if there are any instructors out there in web land who are not familiar with the work of those like Dr. Barrie Bennett and Dr. Carol Rolheiser on providing visual options for student products (beyond just having them take tests and write essays for evaluation,) here is a quick video example of “Concept Maps” that students can produce that instructors can evaluate with criteria/rubrics:

    It truly is the dawn of the age of differentiated instruction and differentiated assessment/evaluation! Listen to me, I sound like a federal education auditor sent to see that “one size fits all” instruction and assessment become things of the past. lol

  • Brandon Roberts


  • David Evans

    That graphic immediately makes me think “Do the waters above and below extend infinitely to either side, or are they contained?”. In one of your other graphics the whole of creation is contained in a sphere, with Heaven above (and presumably all around as well). Do we know if the Israelites had any concept of infinite space?

    • Michael Wilson

      I don’t get the impression the Israelites contemplated infinite space or believed that there was a boundary. The world beyond what is experienced in the mundane is a topic of speculation

    • The Israelites did not have a concept of infinite space, at least at this time.

      This online piece explores the relationship between Ptolemaic and earlier cosmologies as the Rabbis navigated the shift: