What is Seventh Heaven?
Lucky is the person who is in seventh heaven, a state of absolute bliss and contentment or extreme joy. Though the phrase is often used specifically to mean heaven on earth, being in seventh heaven has specific religious meanings for certain groups, and reference to it even exists in the writing of ancient astronomers. From an astronomical standpoint, the seven bodies of the heavens were numbered. Prior to the advent of the telescope, the farthest body viewed was Saturn, and it was literally the seventh heaven, where people believed the souls of the dead met with God.
In some sects of Judaism, heaven is viewed as being split into seven parts. The seventh heaven is called Araboth. It is home to the Cherubim, Seraphim, and the Seven Archangels. An archangel supervises each heaven, and Cassiel leads Araboth. There is some relationship to the colloquial phrase and the characteristics of Cassiel. He is associated with luck, wisdom, and overwhelmingly positive feelings. Therefore, in a way, the use of the phrase does suggest a little mental convening with the attributes of Cassiel. A statement like: “I’d be in seventh heaven if I won the lottery,” draws on Cassiel’s association with luck, even if the speaker is not aware of the connection.
Islam also splits heaven into seven levels, referring to the seventh and highest level as al-Wasilah. According to Islamic thought, only one person may reach this seventh heaven, and that honor is usually reserved for Muhammad. In Muhammad’s spiritual journeys, he describes each of the heavens and is allowed a brief glimpse of al-Wasilah.
Christianity also takes a multi-level view of heaven, though many Christians likewise contend it’s virtually impossible to understand exactly what heaven will be like. Saint Paul refers to Christ in the third heaven, and then there is Dante’s interpretation of the levels of heaven, hell and purgatory. Dante describes nine circles of hell, seven terraces of purgatory, and nine spheres of heaven.
There have been numerous interpretations of why the number seven gets associated with heaven still. People who study the symbolic aspect of numbers look at seven as especially important. Seven is the days of the week. It is also the sum of three and four, numbers traditionally ascribed to the masculine and feminine or animus and anima, as Carl Jung called them. A marriage between masculine and feminine to create seven is considered whole and perfect. Jung and Joseph Campbell point out numerous incidences of seven being used in various mythologies to indicate that a person has made a full hero’s journey and is now “complete” or individuated. Thus to be in seventh heaven is the bliss that Campbell advocates we attempt to follow and find.
Paul only went to the third heaven.
It is interesting to note that the biblical significance of "a time, times, and half a time," equals 3.5, which is half of seven. This was the number of days Christ is said to have been in the tomb. Half a week is a significant meme in Hebrew belief.
Jung's image of the unity of masculine and feminine is as one which creates completeness and new life. Obviously, this kind of union is what generates birth, but there is also a deep psychological and even metaphysical aspect to it. Seven is wholeness and completeness, and a complete whole is necessary for perfect death and rebirth. This is why this number applies well to Christ.
The Bible often uses things in sevens to describe a godlike state. 777 is God's number, God does things in 7 days. Seven symbolizes completeness and wholeness, and God's ultimate rest. This is why we have the week, and the Sabbath was normally celebrated on Saturday.
St. Paul refers to an instance of a man he knows who was caught up into the "seventh heaven." This man was actually Paul himself, who didn't want to boast, but nevertheless clearly implied that he had an out of body experience of the highest level. Buddhists might call this "nirvana," and Paul recognized the immense significance of reaching that level. It was a great encouragement to him and gave him a profound sense of destiny and hope for life after death through the risen hero Christ.
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