The heavenly city can be seen in the section of sky shown above. Image: Stellarium.org
Virtually every story in the ancient scriptures that we call the Bible can be shown to be based upon celestial metaphor.
The stories do not describe literal, terrestrial history. The events described in these ancient texts take place in the heavens above -- and can be seen there to this very day.
When we look into the heavens, we are gazing into infinity. Therefore, it is quite appropriate that the world's ancient myths, scriptures and sacred stories use the motions of the stars and the heavenly realms to give visual form to truths regarding the Infinite Realm.
This Infinite Realm -- the Invisible Realm, the Other World, the realm of spirit, the realm of the gods -- is very real. It is in fact the source and fountain of everything we see here in this seemingly material realm which we traverse during this incarnate life. The ancient text of the Tao Te Ching, for instance, describes the unfolding of the "myriad things" (or the "myriad creatures," or "myriad forms") in the section traditionally numbered as the first section:
The ways that can be walked are not the eternal Way;
The names that can be named are not the eternal name.
The nameless is the origin of the myriad creatures;
The named is the mother of the myriad creatures.
(Translation by Victor H. Mair, page 59).
Similarly, in Black Elk Speaks, the Lakota Holy Man Hehaka Sapa (Black Elk) says that the spirit realm is the source and origin of everything we see in this realm. When Black Elk's father, who was cousins with the father of the famous warrior and leader Tashunke Witko (Crazy Horse), explained the vision of Crazy Horse, he told Black Elk that:
Crazy Horse dreamed and went into the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things. That is the real world that is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that world.
This is very similar to the worldview found in the Tao Te Ching, in which the myriad forms or myriad things we see in this world arise out of the infinite realm, which cannot even be expressed or contained within a name.
Similarly, in the text known as the epistle of Paul to the Galatians, the author describes Abraham's two sons, one by a bondmaid and one by a freewoman, and then states directly and plainly: "Which things are an allegory" (in other words, declaring that these stories and characters are allegorical -- Galatians 4: 24).
He then goes on to explain that there is a Jerusalem which is above, in Galatians 4: 26, where he writes:
But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
I would argue that this verse is expressing an identical teaching to that proclaimed in the Tao Te Ching and in the sacred traditions preserved in the record of Black Elk's words: we all unfold into this world from the Infinite Realm, which is pictured for us in the infinite heavens, and which is made comprehensible to us in the sacred myths which use the heavens to convey to us the reality of that Infinite Realm (which is invisible and cannot be seen with our physical sight).
This realm is "the mother of us all." Everything and everyone in this material realm has its origin and genesis in that Infinite Realm.
Those ancient Biblical texts do not have to do with a terrestrial landscape. All of the episodes in those ancient scriptures can be shown to take place in the heavens. They picture for us spiritual truths -- one of the most fundamental of which being the truth that everything and everyone in this material realm is in fact connected to that spiritual realm which is our fount and origin, "the mother of us all." It should be obvious that this truth connects all of us to one another as well, and teaches us that we must recognize that each and every person we meet is a spiritual being and not merely a physical being -- and that to debase or degrade another, and to deny that they are anything more than their physical being, is a lie.
It is a denial of a fundamental truth -- and when we deny that someone else is connected to and originated in the spiritual realm, we are (consciously or not) denying the truth which also informs our own connection to that realm, and the truth that we ourselves are more than just our physical being (a truth which we all know deep inside, no matter how much others try to convince us otherwise).
To use those very scriptures to try to falsely excuse or justify the taking away of the innate rights of others is thus a gross inversion of the actual teaching of those ancient texts and their ancient wisdom. To use them to try to falsely excuse or justify the taking away of the innate rights of others based on their ethnicity or outward physical form is obviously an even more heinous inversion of those ancient texts and their ancient wisdom.
The ancient texts are not describing literal lines of descent from a "bondmaid" and a "freewoman" -- as Galatians 4: 24 tells us quite plainly, "these things are an allegory -- they are allegorical."
Likewise, they are describing a Jerusalem which is above. To use those texts to try to justify the denial of the rights of men and women here in the terrestrial sphere is a misappropriation of those texts and their teachings. Like the texts of the Tao Te Ching, they are describing the endless unfolding of spirit into this realm and its folding back into spirit again from matter, and folding and unfolding again and again in a constant interplay.
Tragically, the texts of the ancient scriptures we call the Bible were deliberately re-interpreted as being primarily literal during a crucial watershed in history, probably about 1700 years ago -- despite the overwhelming evidence that they are actually esoteric celestial metaphor, as are virtually all of the other ancient myths and sacred traditions around the world. When that happened, their teachings were inverted -- an inversion which led to centuries of oppression and the violation of the rights of men and women on a horrific scale.
Literalistic mis-interpretation continues to be employed in an attempt to falsely "justify" terrible injustice, right up to this very moment. Until it is realized that what is taking place today is a direct continuation of that deliberate inversion, the roots of the present trauma will not be properly understood.