Astronomy of the Hebrews
The Hebrew astronomical tradition that shall be surveyed in this essay is that tradition recorded in the Hebrew alphabet dealing with the motions of the heavenly bodies and the structure of the heavens. These writings utilize principally the Hebrew language, but include texts in languages such as Aramaic and Arabic that can be written out in Hebrew script. Topics of specifically Jewish interest, such as calendar computations and doctrinal matters, occupy only a minor portion of this literature. For the most part, the Hebrew astronomical tradition differs little from contemporary writings belonging to the traditions with which Jews found themselves in immediate contact at any given age and place. To the extent that these other traditions may be classified as non‐Western, the Hebrew tradition may be by and large considered such.
The earliest substantive materials are found in the Talmud and Midrash. Most of the discussions center upon the structure and physics of the heavens. Of...
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