Thursday, May 17, 2012

Gravity and the Shape of the Earth

As is well known, many ancient peoples believed the Earth to be a broad, flat surface supported by immense, mythical creatures - such as four giant elephants standing on the back of an immense turtle, itself swimming in an infinitely large ocean.  Regardless of which animals were doing the work, ancient peoples believed that earthquakes occurred when one of these ungainly creatures moved.  The idea that the world was round was considered not only highly unlikely but ridiculously illogical.

 CAUTION:  This is just a representation and not an actual NASA photo taken from space.

It was only in a much later period that some Greek philosophers began to claim that the world was round. Even so, for many hundreds of years, the majority of humankind believed that the Earth was flat, or at best, dome-shaped.

After Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492, while travelling west in search of a shortcut to India, many individuals became motivated to set out on similar voyages of discovery. More and more of these travellers came to the conclusion that the Earth was indeed round, in opposition the firmly held opinion of the masses.

Slowly but surely, though, increasing numbers of people began to understand that the Earth is indeed round.  Today, every schoolboy knows the truth, and has seen photographs from space of the spherical globe upon which we all live. Nowadays, the flat Earth theory, complete with supporting whales or elephants, evokes in us only a smile.  But we must remember that the only relevant evidence available to the ancient civilizations was what they saw in their immediate surroundings - the fields, the valleys, the endless ocean stretching out before them. They had no good reason to take the leap of the imagination required to think that the Earth was round. In addition, before Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) discovered the laws of gravity, there was no logical reason to suggest that the world populated by humans, animals and myriad objects was round.  How could creatures standing on the opposite side of the world, head down, not fall off the planet?!

 Once again, the Zohar,' written over 2,000 years ago has something to tell us on this subject. In this instance, it quotes a book written even earlier, by Rabbi Hamnuna Saba in Second Temple times:
"The entire world and those upon it, spin round in a circle like a ball,' both those at the bottom of the ball and those at the top.  All God's creatures, wherever they live on the different parts of the ball, look different (in color, in their features) because the air is different in each place, but they stand erect as all other human beings.
Therefore there are places in the world where, when some have light, others have darkness; when some have day, others have night.
There is a place in the world where the day is long and night is but a short time. It is written: 'I acknowledge You, for I am awesomely, wondrously fashioned,
wondrous are Your works and my soul knows it well' (Psalms 139:14).
And this secret has been passed on to men of wisdom - the wisdom of the Torah.

This short, incisive segment in the Zohar contains some very important pieces of information. Its author knew that:
  1. The world is shaped like a ball, and is not flat, as was then understood by humankind.
  2. The Earth is not fixed permanently in one place, but spins and turns on its own axis.
  3. Human beings live on both sides of the planet, top and bottom.
  4. Humans live on one side of the globe, with their feet on the ground,  in exactly the same way as they do on the other side.  This points to an understanding of the force of gravity (even though gravity was discovered by Newton a mere 300 years ago).
  5. When it is daytime in one half of the earth, it is night in the other and vice versa.
  6. There is a place where it is almost constantly light, and night-time is very short (such as the arctic regions, due to the angle of the Earth to the Sun).
Torah sages realized that the information at their disposal was not known to the scientists of their times and would seem strange to themif not bizarre.  Thusthe Zohar concludes that this information is a secret.  It also tells us that this information was not gathered through researchbut had been handed down to Torah sages over the generationswho declare: "And this secret has been passed on to men of wisdom the wisdom of the Torah."  The source of this knowledge is not naturalit is in the Torah.  It is brought down that Adam was shown the entire world and the fact that it was a ball.

A World Hanging in Space

As mentioned earlier, in the past people believed that the world was a flat surface supported by immense creatures, floating on an endless sea.  They imaged that the sky was the roof over the world and the stars were hanging in the space above the Earth like lamps in a vast hall. The floor of that hall was the world in which we live.  But what supports that roof?  The conclusion they reached was that there were four columns supporting it, one at each corner of the great "hall."  This theory might seem strange to us today, but was perfectly logical from the viewpoint of those ancient civilizations.  So far as they were concerned, the roof of such a vast hall had to be supported by something and one column at each corner was an excellent solution.
 Rashi similarly writes: "Blimah means without any foundation, because they stand in the air" (referring in this context to empty space).  How must the words of the Torah have sounded to people thousands of years ago, and how do they sound to us today?

What did the Torah say at the time?  In Jewish tradition, the following verse is considered to have been made with prophetic inspiration (as is true for all the other verses in the Bible):
"He suspends the Earth on nothingness." (Job 26:7) This means exactly what it says - there were no supports. Rabbis David and Yechie1 Altshuler, father and son authors of the 18th century Scriptural commentary, Metzudat Zion, explain that the Hebrew word for nothingness - blimah - is comprised of two syllables - bli and mah, which in this form mean, "without anything."

This was another example of how the people who did not open the "Handbook of the Universe" were so uninformed; while those who have and study Torah have and live by the Absolute Truth (love that expression).


  1. nice article, where is this written in the Zohar Hakadosh?

    1. Notes and Sources:
      l. Zohar 3:10a.
      2. See more about the shape of the Earth in Zohar 1:15: "Rabbi Yossi said: We have already learned from the Heads of our Academies that the world is round like a ball. Clear statements about the world's round shape also appear in Bamidbar Rabbah 13, BT Avodah Zara 41a (in the explanation given in the Tosefta), and JT Avodah Zara 18b.

    2. excellent post, thank you

  2. There are serious problems with this thesis. The horizon is always appears flat, at eye level and rises with the observer. This is not explainable with currently promoted "globe" model of shape of Earth. Many NASA alleged photos of the Earth are CGI, Photoshoped and/or faked using fisheye lenses, etc. No experiment has ever detected any movement of the earth. There has been much speculation, error, illusion, deception and fraud around this subject since at least the times of Pythagoras. The globe model has serious anomalies and flaws. Now go and learn.

    1. There are problems with your analysis. Did you ever go to the beach and look over an ocean? Did you ever climb a mountain? Did you ever fly in an airplane? There are more examples, but in each case, the visual horizon was curved, not flat.

      Have you noticed that the sun, the moon, the planets are all shaped as a globe and not flat surfaces? Then there are satellite images which definitely show that the Earth is shaped as a globe. Go to:

      As an Electronic Engineer, I have worked on driving satellites in space. I worked on testing millions of lines of software code used to drive a military satellite in a geosynchronous Earth orbit. I guarantee all our mathematics could not have worked dealing with a flat Earth. I also was involved in the development of the US's ICBM back in the 1960's. This was a missile system that went into Earth orbit and release separate re-entry vehicles to do the damage. That required that the Earth was shaped as a globe.

      But, the best proof of all is that there are many, many places in scriptures, which was written by the One Who created the ball we call Earth and the accuracy is exact. As an example, since we use the Lunar Calendar, we needed a measurement of the lunar month. At Mount Sinai we were given the length of the lunar month to a part of a second. When NASA calculated the lunar month in the 1960's in preparation for the first lunar landing, they were off by six millionths of a month difference from scriptures. In the 1990's they sent a satellite to the moon and were now only 1/5 th of a second different from what Hashem told us. NASA is catching up as they get much, much more sophisticated in their measuring capabilities. I guarantee that we have much more accurate data in scriptures from the Creator of everything, than science could ever decipher. The shape of the Earth and its gravitational situation is only one example.

      All of science and mathematics is in scriptures. After all the One Who created the Laws of Physics, Chemistry and Biology is the Same One Who created scriptures.