Heavenly Jerusalem?

Shai Heijmans shaih at post.tau.ac.il
Tue Dec 31 14:42:40 EST 2002

Dear Bill,

you wrote:

> Is there any reference to such a "heavenly Jerusalem" in rabbinic or other
early literature?

As far as I know, the origin of "heavenly Jeruslem" is a midrashic
commentary woven into Targum Jonatan on Is. 6:1-6: the words "al kise ram
ve-nisa" are translated as "on a high and exaulted chair IN THE SKY"
("bishmey meroma").

Later it is explained, that God has not only a chair, but a whole temple,
and later a whole city-of-Jerusalem, in the sky. And this heavenly Jerusalem
is situated exactly above the earthly Jerusalem. See for example Bavli
Taanit 5b, "amar lo rab Nahman" etc. There are hundreds of citations like
that in the rabbinic literature.

A thorough analysis of the gradual development "heavenly chair > heavenly
temple > heavenly city" according to rabbinical sources can be found in
Aptowitzer's artice in Tarbiz 5 (1930/1), pp. 137-153, 257-287.


Shai Heijmans

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