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Stars and Spirits: Heavenly Bodies in Ancient Jewish Aramaic Tradition

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image of Aramaic Studies

This study treats the theme of divine judgement as mediated by heavenly beings, the ‘Watchers’ and the members of the heavenly court in the Aramaic Jewish tradition (Dan. 4, 7.1; En. 14), who are imagined as heavenly bodies and spirits, mediators between the human and heavenly worlds. This tradition is founded upon Mesopotamian scholarly lore. In the Hebrew apocalypse of Dan. 10–12, written in Hellenistic times, a new term, śār, appears, which similarly designates the spirit of a star. These spirits and mediators have a direct role in influencing and determining the fate of territories and kingdoms. The idea of zodiacal spirits is apparent in the physiognomic texts that were found in Qumran.

Affiliations: 1: Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Piliscsaba, Hungary


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