Why do I need “and the earth” [et ha’aretz]? To teach that heaven preceded earth in the order of Creation. The next verse states: “And the earth was unformed and void” (Genesis 1:2). The Gemara asks: After all, the Bible began with heaven first; what is different about the second verse? Why does the Bible recount the creation of earth first in the second verse? The Sage of the school of Rabbi Yishmael taught: This can be explained by a parable of a flesh-and-blood king who said to his servants: Rise early and come to my entrance. He arose and found women and men waiting for him. Whom does he praise? Those who are unaccustomed to rising early but yet rose early, the women. The same applies to the earth: Since it is a lowly, physical sphere, we would not have expected it to be created together with heaven. Therefore, it is fitting to discuss it at greater length. ״אֵת הָאָרֶץ״ לְמָה לִי — לְהַקְדִּים שָׁמַיִם לָאָרֶץ. ״וְהָאָרֶץ הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ״, מִכְּדִי בְּשָׁמַיִם אַתְחֵיל בְּרֵישָׁא, מַאי שְׁנָא דְּקָא חָשֵׁיב מַעֲשֵׂה אֶרֶץ? תָּנָא דְּבֵי ר׳ יִשְׁמָעֵאל: מָשָׁל לְמֶלֶךְ בָּשָׂר וָדָם שֶׁאָמַר לַעֲבָדָיו: הַשְׁכִּימוּ לְפִתְחִי. הִשְׁכִּים וּמָצָא נָשִׁים וַאֲנָשִׁים. לְמִי מְשַׁבֵּחַ — לְמִי שֶׁאֵין דַּרְכּוֹ לְהַשְׁכִּים וְהִשְׁכִּים.
§ It is taught in a baraita: Rabbi Yosei says: Woe to them, the creations, who see and know not what they see; who stand and know not upon what they stand. He clarifies: Upon what does the earth stand? Upon pillars, as it is stated: “Who shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble” (Job 9:6). These pillars are positioned upon water, as it is stated: “To Him Who spread forth the earth over the waters” (Psalms 136:6). These waters stand upon mountains, as it is stated: “The waters stood above the mountains” (Psalms 104:6). The mountains are upon the wind, as it is stated: “For behold He forms the mountains and creates the wind” (Amos 4:13). The wind is upon a storm, as it is stated: “Stormy wind, fulfilling His word” (Psalms 148:8). The storm hangs upon the arm of the Holy One, Blessed be He, as it is stated: “And underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27), which demonstrates that the entire world rests upon the arms of the Holy One, Blessed be He. תַּנְיָא, רַבִּי יוֹסֵי אוֹמֵר: אוֹי לָהֶם לַבְּרִיּוֹת, שֶׁרוֹאוֹת, וְאֵינָן יוֹדְעוֹת מָה רוֹאוֹת. עוֹמְדוֹת, וְאֵין יוֹדְעוֹת עַל מָה הֵן עוֹמְדוֹת. הָאָרֶץ עַל מָה עוֹמֶדֶת — עַל הָעַמּוּדִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״הַמַּרְגִּיז אֶרֶץ מִמְּקוֹמָהּ וְעַמּוּדֶיהָ יִתְפַלָּצוּן״. עַמּוּדִים, עַל הַמַּיִם — שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״לְרוֹקַע הָאָרֶץ עַל הַמָּיִם״. מַיִם, עַל הֶהָרִים — שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״עַל הָרִים יַעַמְדוּ מָיִם״. הָרִים, בְּרוּחַ — שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״כִּי הִנֵּה יוֹצֵר הָרִים וּבוֹרֵא רוּחַ״. רוּחַ, בִּסְעָרָה — שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״רוּחַ סְעָרָה עוֹשָׂה דְבָרוֹ״. סְעָרָה, תְּלוּיָה בִּזְרוֹעוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא — שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וּמִתַּחַת זְרוֹעוֹת עוֹלָם״.
And the Rabbis say: The earth stands on twelve pillars, as it is stated: “He set the borders of the nations according to the number of the children of Israel (Deuteronomy 32:8). Just as the children of Israel, i.e., the sons of Jacob, are twelve in number, so does the world rest on twelve pillars. And some say: There are seven pillars, as it is stated: “She has hewn out her seven pillars” (Proverbs 9:1). Rabbi Elazar ben Shammua says: The earth rests on one pillar and a righteous person is its name, as it is stated: “But a righteous person is the foundation of the world” (Proverbs 10:25). וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים: עַל שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר עַמּוּדִים עוֹמֶדֶת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״יַצֵּב גְּבוּלוֹת עַמִּים לְמִסְפַּר בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל״. וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים: שִׁבְעָה עַמּוּדִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״חָצְבָה עַמּוּדֶיהָ שִׁבְעָה״. רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן שַׁמּוּעַ אוֹמֵר: עַל עַמּוּד אֶחָד, וְצַדִּיק שְׁמוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וְצַדִּיק יְסוֹד עוֹלָם״.
§ Rabbi Yehuda said: There are two firmaments, as it is stated: “Behold, to the Lord your God belongs the heaven and the heaven of heavens” (Deuteronomy 10:14), indicating that there is a heaven above our heaven. אָמַר רַב יְהוּדָה: שְׁנֵי רְקִיעִים הֵן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״הֵן לַה׳ אֱלֹהֶיךָ הַשָּׁמַיִם וּשְׁמֵי הַשָּׁמָיִם״.
Reish Lakish said: There are seven firmaments, and they are as follows: Vilon, Rakia, Sheḥakim, Zevul, Ma’on, Makhon, and Aravot. The Gemara proceeds to explain the role of each firmament: Vilon, curtain, is the firmament that does not contain anything, but enters at morning and departs in the evening, and renews the act of Creation daily, as it is stated: “Who stretches out the heavens as a curtain [Vilon], and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in” (Isaiah 40:22). Rakia, firmament, is the one in which the sun, moon, stars, and zodiac signs are fixed, as it is stated: “And God set them in the firmament [Rakia] of the heaven” (Genesis 1:17). Sheḥakim, heights, is the one in which mills stand and grind manna for the righteous, as it is stated: “And He commanded the heights [Sheḥakim] above, and opened the doors of heaven; and He caused manna to rain upon them for food, and gave them of the corn of heaven” (Psalms 78:23–24). רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ אָמַר: שִׁבְעָה, וְאֵלּוּ הֵן: וִילוֹן, רָקִיעַ, שְׁחָקִים, זְבוּל, מָעוֹן, מָכוֹן, עֲרָבוֹת. וִילוֹן — אֵינוֹ מְשַׁמֵּשׁ כְּלוּם, אֶלָּא נִכְנָס שַׁחֲרִית וְיוֹצֵא עַרְבִית, וּמְחַדֵּשׁ בְּכׇל יוֹם מַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״הַנּוֹטֶה כַדּוֹק שָׁמַיִם וַיִּמְתָּחֵם כָּאֹהֶל לָשָׁבֶת״. רָקִיעַ — שֶׁבּוֹ חַמָּה וּלְבָנָה כּוֹכָבִים וּמַזָּלוֹת קְבוּעִין, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וַיִּתֵּן אוֹתָם אֱלֹהִים בִּרְקִיעַ הַשָּׁמָיִם״. שְׁחָקִים — שֶׁבּוֹ רֵחַיִים עוֹמְדוֹת וְטוֹחֲנוֹת מָן לַצַּדִּיקִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וַיְצַו שְׁחָקִים מִמָּעַל וְדַלְתֵי שָׁמַיִם פָּתָח. וַיַּמְטֵר עֲלֵיהֶם מָן לֶאֱכוֹל וְגוֹ׳״.

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Zevul, abode, is the location of the heavenly Jerusalem and the heavenly Temple, and there the heavenly altar is built, and the angel Michael, the great minister, stands and sacrifices an offering upon it, as it is stated: “I have surely built a house of Zevul for You, a place for You to dwell forever” (I Kings 8:13). And from where do we derive that Zevul is called heaven? As it is written: “Look down from heaven and see, from Your holy and glorious abode [Zevul]” (Isaiah 63:15). זְבוּל — שֶׁבּוֹ יְרוּשָׁלַיִם וּבֵית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ, וּמִזְבֵּחַ בָּנוּי, וּמִיכָאֵל הַשַּׂר הַגָּדוֹל עוֹמֵד וּמַקְרִיב עָלָיו קׇרְבָּן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״בָּנֹה בָנִיתִי בֵּית זְבוּל לָךְ מָכוֹן לְשִׁבְתְּךָ עוֹלָמִים״. וּמְנָלַן דְּאִיקְּרִי שָׁמַיִם, דִּכְתִיב: ״הַבֵּט מִשָּׁמַיִם וּרְאֵה מִזְּבוּל קׇדְשְׁךָ וְתִפְאַרְתֶּךָ״.
Ma’on, habitation, is where there are groups of ministering angels who recite song at night and are silent during the day out of respect for Israel, in order not to compete with their songs, as it is stated: “By day the Lord will command His kindness, and in the night His song is with me” (Psalms 42:9), indicating that the song of the angels is with God only at night. מָעוֹן — שֶׁבּוֹ כִּיתּוֹת שֶׁל מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת, שֶׁאוֹמְרוֹת שִׁירָה בַּלַּיְלָה וְחָשׁוֹת בַּיּוֹם, מִפְּנֵי כְבוֹדָן שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״יוֹמָם יְצַוֶּה ה׳ חַסְדּוֹ וּבַלַּיְלָה שִׁירֹה עִמִּי״.
With regard to the aforementioned verse, Reish Lakish said: Whoever occupies himself with Torah at night, the Holy One, Blessed be He, extends a thread of kindness over him by day, as it is stated: “By day, the Lord will command His kindness,” and what is the reason that “by day, the Lord will command His kindness”? Because “and in the night His song,” i.e., the song of Torah, “is with me.” And some say that Reish Lakish said: Whoever occupies himself with Torah in this world, which is comparable to night, the Holy One, Blessed be He, extends a thread of kindness over him in the World-to-Come, which is comparable to day, as it is stated: “By day, the Lord will command His kindness, and in the night His song is with me.” אָמַר רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ: כׇּל הָעוֹסֵק בְּתוֹרָה בַּלַּיְלָה — הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מוֹשֵׁךְ עָלָיו חוּט שֶׁל חֶסֶד בַּיּוֹם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״יוֹמָם יְצַוֶּה ה׳ חַסְדּוֹ״. וּמָה טַעַם ״יוֹמָם יְצַוֶּה ה׳ חַסְדּוֹ״ — מִשּׁוּם ״וּבַלַּיְלָה שִׁירֹה עִמִּי״. וְאִיכָּא דְּאָמְרִי, אָמַר רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ: כׇּל הָעוֹסֵק בַּתּוֹרָה בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה שֶׁהוּא דּוֹמֶה לְלַיְלָה, הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מוֹשֵׁךְ עָלָיו חוּט שֶׁל חֶסֶד לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא שֶׁהוּא דּוֹמֶה לְיוֹם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״יוֹמָם יְצַוֶּה ה׳ חַסְדּוֹ וּבַלַּיְלָה שִׁירֹה עִמִּי״.
With regard to the same matter, Rabbi Levi said: Anyone who pauses from words of Torah to occupy himself with mundane conversation will be fed with the coals of the broom tree, as it is stated: “They pluck saltwort [maluaḥ] with wormwood [alei siaḥ], and the roots of the broom tree [retamim] are their food” (Job 30:4). The exposition is as follows: Those who pluck, i.e., pause, from learning Torah, which was given upon two tablets, luḥot, which sounds similar to maluaḥ, for the purpose of siaḥ, idle chatter, are punished by having to eat coals made from “the roots of the broom tree.” And from where do we derive that Ma’on is called heaven? As it is stated: “Look forth from Your holy Ma’on, from heaven” (Deuteronomy 26:15). אָמַר רַבִּי לֵוִי כׇּל הַפּוֹסֵק מִדִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה וְעוֹסֵק בְּדִבְרֵי שִׂיחָה — מַאֲכִילִין אוֹתוֹ גַּחֲלֵי רְתָמִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״הַקּוֹטְפִים מַלּוּחַ עֲלֵי שִׂיחַ וְשֹׁרֶשׁ רְתָמִים לַחְמָם״. וּמְנָלַן דְּאִיקְּרִי שָׁמַיִם — שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״הַשְׁקִיפָה מִמְּעוֹן קׇדְשְׁךָ מִן הַשָּׁמַיִם״.
Makhon, dwelling place, is where there are storehouses of snow and storehouses of hail, and the upper chamber of harmful dews, and the upper chamber of drops, and the room of tempests and storms, and the cave of mist. And the doors of all these are made of fire. How do we know that there are storehouses for evil things? For it is stated: “The Lord will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens” (Deuteronomy 28:12), which indicates the existence of a storehouse that contains the opposite of good. מְכוֹן — שֶׁבּוֹ אוֹצְרוֹת שָׁלֶג וְאוֹצְרוֹת בָּרָד, וַעֲלִיַּית טְלָלִים רָעִים, וַעֲלִיַּית אֲגָלִים, וְחַדְרָהּ שֶׁל סוּפָה [וּסְעָרָה], וּמְעָרָה שֶׁל קִיטוֹר. וְדַלְתוֹתֵיהֶן אֵשׁ — שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״יִפְתַּח ה׳ לְךָ אֶת אוֹצָרוֹ הַטּוֹב״.
The Gemara asks a question: With regard to these things listed above, are they located in heaven? It is obvious that they are located on the earth. As it is written: “Praise the Lord from the earth, sea monsters and all depths, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind, fulfilling His word” (Psalms 148:7–8). The verse seems to indicate that all these things are found on the earth. Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: David requested mercy with regard to them, that they should not remain in heaven, and He brought them down to earth. He said before Him: Master of the Universe, “You are not a God that has pleasure in wickedness, evil shall not sojourn with You” (Psalms 5:5). In other words, You are righteous, O Lord. Nothing evil should sojourn in Your vicinity. Rather, it is better that they remain close to us. And from where do we derive that this place is called “heaven”? As it is written: “And You shall hear in heaven, the Makhon of Your dwelling” (I Kings 8:39). הָנֵי בִּרְקִיעָא אִיתַנְהוּ? הָנֵי בְּאַרְעָא אִיתַנְהוּ! דִּכְתִיב: ״הַלְלוּ אֶת ה׳ מִן הָאָרֶץ תַּנִּינִים וְכׇל תְּהוֹמוֹת אֵשׁ וּבָרָד שֶׁלֶג וְקִיטוֹר רוּחַ סְעָרָה עוֹשָׂה דְבָרוֹ״! אָמַר רַב יְהוּדָה אָמַר רַב: דָּוִד בִּיקֵּשׁ עֲלֵיהֶם רַחֲמִים, וְהוֹרִידָן לָאָרֶץ. אָמַר לְפָנָיו: רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם, ״לֹא אֵל חָפֵץ רֶשַׁע אָתָּה לֹא יְגוּרְךָ (בִּמְגוּרְךָ) רָע״. צַדִּיק אַתָּה ה׳, לֹא יָגוּר בִּמְגוּרְךָ רָע. וּמְנָלַן דְּאִיקְּרִי ״שָׁמַיִם״ — דִּכְתִיב: ״וְאַתָּה תִּשְׁמַע הַשָּׁמַיִם מְכוֹן שִׁבְתֶּךָ״.
Aravot, skies, is the firmament that contains righteousness; justice; righteousness, i.e., charity; the treasuries of life; the treasuries of peace; the treasuries of blessing; the souls of the righteous; the spirits and souls that are to be created; and the dew that the Holy One, Blessed be He, will use to revive the dead. The Gemara proves this statement: Righteousness and justice are found in heaven, as it is written: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne” (Psalms 89:15); righteousness, as it is written: “And He donned righteousness as armor” (Isaiah 59:17); the treasuries of life, as it is written: “For with You is the source of life” (Psalms 36:10). And the treasuries of peace are found in heaven, as it is written: “And he called Him the Lord of peace” (Judges 6:24), implying that peace is God’s name and is therefore found close to Him. And the treasuries of blessing, as it is written: “He shall receive a blessing from the Lord” (Psalms 24:5). עֲרָבוֹת — שֶׁבּוֹ צֶדֶק מִשְׁפָּט וּצְדָקָה, גִּנְזֵי חַיִּים וְגִנְזֵי שָׁלוֹם וְגִנְזֵי בְרָכָה, וְנִשְׁמָתָן שֶׁל צַדִּיקִים, וְרוּחוֹת וּנְשָׁמוֹת שֶׁעֲתִיד[וֹת] לְהִיבָּרְאוֹת, וְטַל שֶׁעָתִיד הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְהַחֲיוֹת בּוֹ מֵתִים. צֶדֶק וּמִשְׁפָּט — דִּכְתִיב: ״צֶדֶק וּמִשְׁפָּט מְכוֹן כִּסְאֶךָ״. צְדָקָה — דִּכְתִיב: ״וַיִּלְבַּשׁ צְדָקָה כַּשִּׁרְיָן״. גִּנְזֵי חַיִּים — דִּכְתִיב: ״כִּי עִמְּךָ מְקוֹר חַיִּים״. וְגִנְזֵי שָׁלוֹם — דִּכְתִיב: ״וַיִּקְרָא לוֹ ה׳ שָׁלוֹם״. וְגִנְזֵי בְרָכָה — דִּכְתִיב: ״יִשָּׂא בְרָכָה מֵאֵת ה׳״.
The souls of the righteous are found in heaven, as it is written: “And the soul of my master shall be bound in the bundle of life with the Lord, your God” (I Samuel 25:29). Spirits and souls that are to be created are found there, as it is written: “For the spirit that enwraps itself is from Me, and the souls that I have made” (Isaiah 57:16), which indicates that the spirit to be released into the world, wrapped around a body, is located close to God. The dew that the Holy One, Blessed be He, will use to revive the dead is found in heaven, as it is written: “A bountiful rain You will pour down, God; when Your inheritance was weary, You confirmed it” (Psalms 68:10). נִשְׁמָתָן שֶׁל צַדִּיקִים — דִּכְתִיב: ״וְהָיְתָה נֶפֶשׁ אֲדוֹנִי צְרוּרָה בִּצְרוֹר הַחַיִּים אֵת ה׳ אֱלֹהֶיךָ״. רוּחוֹת וּנְשָׁמוֹת שֶׁעֲתִיד[וֹת] לְהִיבָּרְאוֹת — דִּכְתִיב: ״כִּי רוּחַ מִלְּפָנַי יַעֲטוֹף וּנְשָׁמוֹת אֲנִי עָשִׂיתִי״. וְטַל שֶׁעָתִיד הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְהַחְיוֹת בּוֹ מֵתִים — דִּכְתִיב: ״גֶּשֶׁם נְדָבוֹת תָּנִיף אֱלֹהִים נַחֲלָתְךָ וְנִלְאָה אַתָּה כוֹנַנְתָּהּ״.
There, in the firmaments, are the ofanim, the seraphim, the holy divine creatures, and the ministering angels, and the Throne of Glory. The King, God, the living, lofty, exalted One dwells above them in Aravot, as it is stated: “Extol Him Who rides upon the skies [Aravot], Whose name is God” (Psalms 68:5). And from where do we derive that Aravot is called “heaven”? This is learned by using a verbal analogy between two instances of “rides” and “rides”: Here, it is written: “Extol Him Who rides upon the skies [Aravot],” and there, it is written: “Who rides upon the heaven as your help” (Deuteronomy 33:26). שָׁם אוֹפַנִּים וּשְׂרָפִים וְחַיּוֹת הַקֹּדֶשׁ, וּמַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת, וְכִסֵּא הַכָּבוֹד, מֶלֶךְ אֵל חַי רָם וְנִשָּׂא שׁוֹכֵן עֲלֵיהֶם בָּעֲרָבוֹת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״סוֹלּוּ לָרוֹכֵב בָּעֲרָבוֹת בְּיָהּ שְׁמוֹ״, וּמְנָלַן דְּאִיקְּרִי ״שָׁמַיִם״? אָתְיָא ״רְכִיבָה״ ״רְכִיבָה״, כְּתִיב הָכָא: ״סוֹלּוּ לָרוֹכֵב בָּעֲרָבוֹת״ וּכְתִיב הָתָם: ״רוֹכֵב שָׁמַיִם בְּעֶזְרֶךָ״.
And darkness and clouds and fog surround Him, as it is stated: “He made darkness His hiding place, His pavilion round about Him; darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies” (Psalms 18:12). The Gemara asks: And is there darkness before Heaven, i.e., before God? But isn’t it written: “He reveals deep and secret things, He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him” (Daniel 2:22), demonstrating that only light, not darkness, is found with God? The Gemara answers: This is not difficult. This verse, which states that only light dwells with Him, is referring וְחֹשֶׁךְ וְעָנָן וַעֲרָפֶל מַקִּיפִין אוֹתוֹ — שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״יָשֶׁת חֹשֶׁךְ סִתְרוֹ סְבִיבוֹתָיו סוּכָּתוֹ חֶשְׁכַת מַיִם עָבֵי שְׁחָקִים״. וּמִי אִיכָּא חֲשׁוֹכָא קַמֵּי שְׁמַיָּא? וְהָכְתִיב: ״הוּא גָּלֵא עַמִּיקָתָא וּמְסַתְּרָתָא יָדַע מָה בַחֲשׁוֹכָא וּנְהוֹרָא עִמֵּהּ שְׁרֵא״! לָא קַשְׁיָא: הָא