[b-hebrew] Fwd: nevi
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.
---------- 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
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,
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
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.
[END OF TEXTS]
(J. Hoftijzer and D. Van der Kooij, *The Balaam text from Deir 'Alla
re-evaluated*, , 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
> > 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
> b-hebrew mailing list
> b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
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