God reveals that he has affections and emotions, the Bible describing him as having a “heart.” He is grieved by man’s sinfulness; at the time of the Flood “he felt hurt at his heart,” regretting that men had rejected his righteous rule, making it necessary for God to turn from being their benefactor to become their destroyer. (Gen. 6:6) By contrast, God’s heart ‘rejoices’ when his servant is faithful. (Prov. 27:11) Jehovah will carry out “the ideas of his heart.” (Jer. 30:24) Such a thing as the cruel offering up of humans as burnt sacrifices, practiced by some of the deviating Israelites, never had come up into his heart, showing him to be no God of eternal torment.—Jer. 7:31; 19:5.
CENTER OF A THING
The heart being a central organ of the body, the term “heart” is applied to the center or depth of something, such as the “heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:40) and the “heart of the sea.”—Ex. 15:8; Jonah 2:3.
The symbolic use of “heart” figures in a prophetic way at Daniel 7:4, where the lionlike beast representing the kingdom of Babylon was made to stand on two feet and was given “the heart of a man,” that is, it no longer possessed the courageous “heart of the lion.” (2 Sam. 17:10) It was then defeated by the symbolic “bear,” Medo-Persia.—Dan. 7:5; see BEASTS, SYMBOLIC; MIND.
[Heb., sha·maʹyim; Gr., ou·ra·nosʹ].
The full scope of the physical heavens is embraced by the original-language term. The context usually provides sufficient information to determine which area of the physical heavens is meant.
Heavens of earth’s atmosphere
The “heaven(s)” may apply to the full range of earth’s atmosphere in which dew and frost form (Gen. 27:28; Job 38:29), the birds fly (Deut. 4:17; Prov. 30:19; Matt. 6:26), the winds blow (Ps. 78:26), lightning flashes (Luke 17:24), and the clouds float and drop their rain, snow or hailstones. (Josh. 10:11; 1 Ki. 18:45; Isa. 55:10; Acts 14:17) The “sky” is sometimes meant, that is, the apparent or visual dome or vault arching over the earth.—Matt. 16:1-3; Acts 1:10, 11.
This atmospheric region corresponds generally to the “expanse [Heb., ra·qiʹaʽ]” formed during the second creative period, described at Genesis 1:6-8. It is evidently to this ‘heaven’ that Genesis 2:4; Exodus 20:11; 31:17 refer in speaking of the creation of “the heavens and the earth.”—See EXPANSE.
When the expanse of atmosphere was formed, earth’s surface waters were separated from other waters above the expanse. This explains the expression used with regard to the global flood of Noah’s day, that “all the springs of the vast watery deep were broken open and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.” (Gen. 7:11; compare Proverbs 8:27, 28.) At the Flood, the “vast watery deep” of the waters suspended above the expanse apparently descended as if by certain channels, as well as in rainfall. When this vast reservoir had emptied itself, such “flood gates of the heavens” were, in effect, “stopped up.”—Gen. 8:2.
The physical “heavens” extend through earth’s atmosphere and beyond to the regions of outer space with their stellar bodies, “all the army of the heavens”—sun, moon, stars and constellations. (Deut. 4:19; Isa. 13:10; 1 Cor. 15:40, 41; Heb. 11:12) The first verse of the Bible describes the creation of such starry heavens prior to the development of earth for human habitation. (Gen. 1:1) These heavens show forth God’s glory, even as does the expanse of atmosphere, being the work of God’s “fingers.” (Ps. 8:3; 19:1-6) The divinely appointed “statutes of the heavens” control all such celestial bodies. Astronomers, despite their modern equipment and advanced mathematical knowledge, are still unable to comprehend these statutes fully. (Job 38:33; Jer. 33:25) Their findings, however, confirm the impossibility of man’s placing a measurement upon such heavens, or of counting the stellar bodies. (Jer. 31:37; 33:22; see STAR.) Yet they are numbered and named by God.—Ps. 147:4; Isa. 40:26.
“Midheaven” and the “extremities of the heavens”
The expression “midheaven” applies to the region within earth’s expanse of atmosphere where birds, such as the eagle, fly. (Rev. 8:13; 14:6; 19:17; Deut. 4:11 [Heb., “heart of the heavens”]) Somewhat similar is the expression “between the earth and the heavens.” (1 Chron. 21:16; 2 Sam. 18:9) The advance of Babylon’s attackers from “the extremity of the heavens” evidently means their coming to her from the distant horizon (where earth and sky appear to meet and the sun appears to rise and set). (Isa. 13:5; compare Psalm 19:4-6.) Similarly “from the four extremities of the heavens” apparently refers to four points of the compass, thus indicating a coverage of the four quarters of the earth. (Jer. 49:36; compare Daniel 8:8; 11:4; Matthew 24:31; Mark 13:27.) As the heavens surround the earth on all sides, Jehovah’s vision of everything “under the whole heavens” embraces all the globe.—Job 28:24.
The cloudy skies
Another term, the Hebrew shaʹhhaq, is also used to refer to the “skies” or their clouds. (Deut. 33:26; Prov. 3:20; Isa. 45:8) This word has the root meaning of something beaten fine or pulverized, as the “film of dust” (shaʹhhaq) at Isaiah 40:15. There is a definite appropriateness in this meaning, inasmuch as clouds form when warm air, rising from the earth, becomes cooled to what is known as the “dewpoint,” and the water vapor in it condenses into minute particles sometimes called “water dust.” (Compare Job 36:27, 28.) Adding to the appropriateness, the visual effect of the blue dome of the sky is caused by the diffusion of sun rays by gas molecules and other particles (including dust) composing the atmosphere. By God’s formation of such atmosphere, he has, in effect, ‘beaten out the skies hard like a molten mirror,’ giving a definite limit or clear demarcation to the atmospheric blue vault above man.—Job 37:18.
“Heavens of the heavens”
The expression “heavens of the heavens” is considered as referring to the highest heavens, which, since the heavens extend out from the earth in all directions, would embrace the complete extent of the physical heavens, however vast.—Deut. 10:14; Neh. 9:6.
Solomon, the constructor of the temple at Jerusalem, stated that the “heavens, yes, the heaven of the heavens” cannot contain God. (1 Ki. 8:27) As the Creator of the heavens, Jehovah’s position is far above them all and “his name alone is unreachably high.