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The Planets, The Jews And The Beginnings Of “Jewish Astrology”

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Chapter Summary

In contrast to biblical times and Second Temple Judaism, some basic knowledge about planets and their role in astrology becomes ubiquitous in traditional Jewish learning in Late Antiquity and in the Middle Ages. From the whole period preceding the destruction of the Second Temple, we possess not a single piece of evidence from Jewish culture testifying to a more intimate knowledge of planetary astronomy or astrology. Many aspects of the development of the present Jewish calendar prior to its implementation traditionally associated with Hillel II in 358/59 CE remain obscure. Through the halakhic practice of calendar reckoning by the planets, the outcasts of the Second Temple period tacitly passed over in the earlier sources, found entrance into the cultural world of the rabbis, and with them a halakhically legitimate practice of astrology came into being.

Keywords: astrology; Jewish calendar; Late Antiquity; Middle Ages; Second Temple period



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