(Anglo-Saxon, heofon, from heofen, elevated,
THE THREE HEAVENS. (According to the Jewish system.) The word heaven
in the Bible denotes (1) the air, thus we read of “the fowls of
heaven,” “the dew of heaven,” and “the clouds of heaven”; (2) the
starry firmament, as, “Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven”
(Gen. i. 14); (3) the palace of Jehovah; thus we read that “heaven is
My throne” (Isa. lxvi. 1, and Matt. v. 34).
Loosely, the word is used in Scripture sometimes simply to express a
great height. “The cities are walled up to heaven” (Deut. i. 28). So
the builders on Shinar designed to raise a tower whose top should
“reach unto heaven” (Gen. xi. 4).
THE FIVE HEAVENS. (According to the Ptolemaic system.) (1) The
planetary heaven; (2) the sphere of the fixed stars; (3) the
crystalline, which vibrates; (4) the primum mobilë, which communicates
motion to the lower spheres; (5) the empyrean or seat of deity and
angels. (See above.)
Sometimes she deemed that Mars had from above
Left his fifth heaven, the powers of men to prove.
Hoole: Orlando Furioso, book xiii.
THE SEVEN HEAVENS. (According to the Mahometan system.)
The first heaven,
says Mahomet, is of pure silver, and here the stars are hung out
like lamps on golden chains. Each star has an angel for warder. In this
heaven “the prophet” found Adam and Eve.
The second heaven,
says Mahomet, is of polished steel and dazzling splendour. Here
“the prophet” found Noah.
The third heaven,
says Mahomet, is studded with precious stones too brilliant for the
eye of man. Here Azrael, the angel of death, is stationed, and is for
ever writing in a large book or blotting words out. The
former are the names of persons born, the latter those of the newly
dead. (See below, Heaven of heavens.
The fourth heaven,
he says, is of the finest silver. Here dwells the Angel of Tears,
whose height is “500 days' journey,” and he sheds ceaseless tears for
the sins of man.
The fifth heaven
is of purest gold, and here dwells the Avenging Angel, who presides
over elemental fire. Here “the prophet” met Aaron. (See below
The sixth heaven
is composed of Hasala, a sort of carbuncle. Here dwells the
Guardian Angel of heaven and earth, half-snow and half-fire. It was
here that Mahomet saw Moses, who wept with envy.
The seventh heaven,
says the same veritable authority, is formed of divine light beyond
the power of tongue to describe. Each inhabitant is bigger than the
whole earth, and has 70,000 heads, each head 70,000 mouths, each mouth
70,000 tongues, and each tongue speaks 70,000 languages, all for ever
employed in chanting the praises of the Most High. Here he met Abraham.
To be in the seventh heaven.
Supremely happy. The Cabbalists maintained that there are seven
heavens, each rising in happiness above the other, the seventh being
the abode of God and the highest class of angels. (See above
THE NINE HEAVENS. The term heaven was used anciently to denote the
orb or sphere in which a celestial body was supposed to move, hence the
number of heavens varied. According to one system, the first heaven was
that of the Moon, the second that of Venus, the third that of Mercury,
the fourth that of the Sun, the fifth that of Mars, the sixth that of
Jupiter, the seventh that of Saturn, the eighth that of the “fixt” or
firmament, and the ninth that of the Crystalline. (See Nine
HEAVEN (in modern phraseology) means: (1) a great but indefinite
height, (2) the sky or the vault of the clouds, (3) the special abode
of God, (4) the place of supreme felicity, (5) supposed residence of
the celestial gods, etc.
The heaven of heavens.
A Hebrewism to express the highest of the heavens, the special
residence of Jehovah. Similar superlatives are “the Lord of lords,”
“the God of gods,” “the Song of songs.” (Compare our
“Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord's.” —Deut. x. 14.
Animals admitted into heaven.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894