[b-hebrew] Fwd: nevi

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Mon Aug 22 21:10:35 EDT 2005

The following was intended for the list, but it is not apparent if it came 
through. It's not in the
archives. So for the benefit of the list, I am resending this to the list. I 
have some comments
but I'm saving them until I look up an article in the bibliography of Meir 
Bar Ilan's article.

Yitzhak Sapir

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: JP vd Giessen 
Date: Aug 21, 2005 9:22 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] nevi
To: Yitzhak Sapir 
Cc: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org


First of all I have studied astronomy and specific archeo-astronomy. The 
Hebrew language is more a tool for understanding the sources, so I'm not a 
professional in it. 

I quoted it partly because these practices are wellknown for all astrologers 
(or a better definition magacians) in the Middle East. Further I gave this 
website as 
reference because it is one of the best articles understandable for 

In answer of your question, Bilaam was not only observing the stars and 
planets (=astronomy), he was searching for the will of gods 
(=astrology/astrolatry). Observing the planets was mostly done at sunset or 
sunrise, because one of the most important things was determing the heliacal 
rising/setting of the stars/planets. The planets where representing the gods 
and a conjunction of the planets with eachother or with a star in a certain 
constellation could be an answer of the gods (think about the star of 
Bethlehem). In Numb 24:1 you can read this: "to meet with enchantments". I 
think the word *nehasim *(נְחָשִׁים) means "omens," or possibly "auguries". 
It was normal that after the observation, they make sacrifices in the early 
morning for the gods (See also Ex 7: 15: "Get thee unto Pharaoh in the 
morning" What was Pharoah doing so early in the morning at the Nile? I think 
sacrificing for the gods). 
So I think it is normal Bilaam was doing this rituals in the morning, as a 
'heathen' he is using the same rituals for God as for his own gods (or at 
least trying this), but without using the omens because 'his eye was opened' 
(=singular! not "his eyes"), he has seen/understood the vision or omen, in 
Numb 24:2 we read "who heareth the words of God" i.e. he is interpreting the 
omen by doing the rituals. 

At last there is an interesting text about Bilaam found in the neigbourhood 
of *Deir 'Alla* which describes some of these rituals: 
[TITLE of Inscription] 
   Inscription of Balaam son of Beor, 
   the seer-man of the gods.

   Behold, the gods came to him at night, 
   and [spoke to] him according to these words, 
   and they said to [Balaa]m son of Beor thus: 
   "The [Light] has shone its last; 
   the Fire for [judgement] has shone."

   And Balaam arose in the morning, 
   [] days, 
   [] , 
   and cou[ld not eat], 
   and he wept bitter tears. 
   And his people came up to him 
   and they [said] to Balaam son of Beor: 
   "Why are you fasting and why are 
   you weeping?"

   And he said to them: 
   "Return! I shall tell you what 
   the Shaddayin are [. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .] 
   Go on, consider the doings of the gods."

   The gods have gathered together, 
   and the Shaddayin have met in assembly, 
   and they have said to Sh[am]sh : 
   "Sew up, bolt shut the sky with your cloud! 
   Let darkness be there, and not brightness, 
   gloom and not radiance; 
   Yes, strike terror with the cloud of darkness, 
   and do not remove it ever:

   hawk, swift, bat, 
   eagle, and pelican, vultures, 
   ostrich, stork, young of falcons, 
   and owl, chicks of heron, dove, 
   bird-of-prey, pigeon and sparrow.

(J. Hoftijzer and D. Van der Kooij, *The Balaam text from Deir 'Alla 
re-evaluated*, [1991], p. 295) 
Other references about this text (on the web) are: 
Hackett, chap. 2c-2f of *"The Balaam Text from Deir 'Alla"*,
files/NWSemitic/Hackett Balaam Deir
Weippert, *"The Balaam Text from Deir 'Alla and the Study of the Old 
Testament"*, www.nelc.ucla.edu/Faculty/Schniedewind files/NWSemitic/Weippert 
Balaam Deir Alla Study

Jan Pieter van de Giessen 

On Sat, 20 Aug 2005 21:27:57 +0000, Yitzhak Sapir wrote 
> On 8/20/05, Jan Pieter van de Giessen wrote: 
> > See the article from Meir Bar-Ilan "Astronomy and Astrology Among the 
Jews in 
> > Antiquity" (

> > for more details about this subject. 
> > 
> Thanks! I find that he says "Therefore, though Bilaam's practices 
> (Num. 22-23) seem to be connected to Astrology, they are more like 
> propitiatory rituals 
> (namburbis) to seven different Aramaic Gods (such as Ba'al), that 
> may be called 'pre'-Astrology" which you apparently seem to quote. 
> Do you have any idea why Bilaam's practices are considered 
> astrological? He does all of this rituals in the morning, so that 
> claim seems odd to me. In any case, it is interesting to me because 
> in the Balaam inscription, he is referred to as a "xzh )lhn" and the 
> root xzh is applied to Bilaam in Num 24:4. 
> Yitzhak Sapir 
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