HEAVEN (O. Eng. hefen, heofon, heofone; this word appears in O.S. hevan; the High. Ger. word appears in Ger. Himmel, Dutch hemel; there does not seem to be any connexion between the two words, and the ultimate derivation of the word is unknown; the suggestion that it is connected with " to heave, " in the sense of something " lifted up," is erroneous), properly the expanse, taking the appearance of a domed vault above the earth, in which the Sun, moon, planets and stars seem to be placed, the firmament; hence also used, generally in the plural, of the space immediately above the earth,' the atmospheric region of winds, rain, clouds, and of the birds of the air. The heaven and the earth together, therefore, to the ancient cosmographers, and still in poetical language, make up the universe. In the cosmogonies of many ancient peoples there was a plurality of heavens, probably among the earlier Hebrews, the idea being elaborated in rabbinical literature, among the Babylonians and in Zoroastrianism. The number of these heavens, the higher transcending the lower in glory, varied from three to seven. Heaven, as in the Hebrew shamayim, the Greek o&pawfc, the Latin caelum, is the abode of God, and as such in Christian eschatology is the place of the blessed in the next world (see ESCHATOLOGY and PARADISE).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)