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Abraham Ibn Ezra Book of the World: A Parallel Hebrew English Critical Edition of the Two Versions of the Text Abraham Ibn Era's Astrological Writings, Volume 2 by Shlomo Sela (Brill Academic Publishers)

Shlomo Sela is a lecturer in the Departments of Jewish Philosophy and Bible at Bar-Ilan University. His research focuses on Jewish attitudes toward the sciences, with special interest in the history of astrology in the Middle Ages. He has recently published: Abraham Ibn Ezra: The Book of Reasons, A Parallel Hebrew-English Critical Edition of the Two Versions of the Text, Edited, translated, and annotated by Shlomo Sela, Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2007. With this volume he begins the publication of Ibn Ezra’s complete works on astrology. The two treatises presented here were designed by Ibn Ezra to offer reasons, explanations, or meanings of the raw astrological concepts formulated in the introduction to astrology that Ibn Ezra entitled Reshit Hokhmah (Beginning of Wisdom).

The present volume offers the first critical edition of the Hebrew text of the two versions of Ibn Ezra’s Book of the World, accompanied by an English translation and a commentary. These twin treatises represent the first Hebrew work, unique in medieval Jewish science, to discuss the theories and techniques of historical and meteorological astrology that had accumulated from Antiquity to Ibn Ezra’s time, on the basis of Greek, Hindu, Persian, and Arabic sources. This volume also incorporates the first critical edition, translated and annotated, of MāshāÞallāh’s Book on Eclipses, a work dealing with mundane astrology whose Hebrew translation was ascribed to Ibn Ezra, as well as a study of three brief texts in which Ibn Ezra either conveyed his own opinion about mundane astrology. All those interested in the history of astrology, astronomy and mathematics in the Middle Ages, in Jewish philosophy and history in the Middle Ages, in Abraham Ibn Ezra’s scientific work, and biblical exegesis.

Part One: First Version of the Book of the World by Abraham Ibn
Ezra. Hebrew Text and English Translation
Part Two: Notes to the First Version of the Book of the World
Part Three: Second Version of the Book of the World by Abraham
Ibn Ezra. Hebrew Text and English Translation
Part Four: Notes to the Second Version of the Book of the World
Part Five: Related Texts

Abraham Ibn Ezra (ca. 1089-ca. 1161) was born in Muslim Spain. He left there when he was about fifty years old, led the life of an intellectual vagabond in Italy, France and England, and finally vanished from the scene in London after having made a very significant contribution in the field of astrology to both Christian and Jewish readers. For medieval Latin culture, Abraham Avenezra was considered to be mainly an intermediary and transmitter of Arabic science and astrology in twelfth-century Europe. From a Jewish perspective, Abraham Ibn Ezra's contribution was quite different: by incorporating astrological ideas into his influential biblical exegesis he promoted the smooth absorption of astrological content into the hard core of Jewish culture; on the other hand, he created the first comprehensive corpus of Hebrew astrological textbooks that address the main systems of Arabic astrology and provided Hebrew readers with access to astrology. The list of his Hebrew astrological writings has been recently enlarged by new discoveries; today we know of sixteen works. They include the two versions of Sefer ha-`Olam (Book of the World), which deals with "world astrology," the branch of Arabic astrology concerned with the reconstruction, interpretation, and prognostication of political, historical, and religious events, on the one hand, and with weather forecasting, on the other.

The present volume is part of the larger enterprise of producing a crit-ical edition, with English translation and commentary, of all of Abraham Ibn Ezra's astrological writings, a project begun with the two versions of Sefer ha-Te'amim (Book of Reasons). Here I offer the first critical edi-tion of the Hebrew text of the two versions of Ibn Ezra's Sefer ha-'Olam, accompanied by an English translation and a commentary. These twin treatises represent the first Hebrew theoretical work, unique in medieval Jewish science, to discuss the theories and techniques of historical and meteorological astrology that had accumulated from Antiquity to Ibn Ezra's time, on the basis of Greek, Hindu, Persian, and Arabic sources. In addition, because the two versions of Sefer ha-'Olam are not the only place where Ibn Ezra addressed "world astrology," this volume includes a study of four brief texts that are directly concerned with that topic. I decided to incorporate the four here because in them Ibn Ezra either con-veyed his own opinion about world astrology or presented astrological techniques that are not discussed in the two versions of Sefer ha-'Olam.

The phenomenon of two different versions of Sefer ha-'Olam is typical of Ibn Ezra's literary career in general: there are at least two versions of most of his biblical commentaries, scientific treatises, and astrological writings—an artifact of his nomadic existence and a manifestation of the fact that Ibn Ezra supported himself by his pen. He would write a new version of an old work for a new patron when he arrived in a new town, continuing to stimulate the attention and curiosity of readers along his itinerary through Latin Europe.

The two versions of Sefer ha-'Olam circulated widely during the Mid-dle Ages and modern times. Their prospective or actual existence was first made known by Ibn Ezra himself, who announced his intention to write a book on topics related to historical and meteorological astrologi-cal, or referred to it as already written, in various places in his astrological corpus. As a rule he used the name Sefer ha-'Olam to designate both the first version of Sefer ha-'Olam (henceforth 'Olam I) or the second ver-sion of Sefer ha-'Olam (henceforth 'Olam II); in other cases, however, he referred to 'Olam I as Sefer Mishpetei ha-'Olam (Book of the Judgments of the World) or Sefer ha-Mahbarot (Book of Conjunctions). That the title of this work never crystallized in Ibn Ezra's mind is borne out by the fact that in three anticipatory references to 'Olam I in the first version of Sefer ha-Te'amim he designates it by two different names: Sefer ha-'Olam and Sefer ha-Mahbarot; and in the first canticle of 'Olam I he called it as Sefer ha-'Olam we-mahberot ha-mesaretim kullam (Book of the World and of the Conjunctions of all the Planets)."

The most important factor in the spread of 'Olam I and 'Olam II during the Middle Ages and modern era was the repeated copying of manuscripts of these twin works: the earliest surviving copy dates from the fourteenth century, the latest from the nineteenth century. Today we know of at least 34 copies of 'Olam I and of at least 26 copies of 'Olam II. 'Olam I and 'Olam II were also transmitted in the Middle Ages through incorporation by scribes (named and unnamed) into manuscript anthologies of Hebrew texts on astrology and astronomy. Another channel of transmission was provided by the supercommentaries on Ibn Ezra's biblical commentaries, such as Safenat Pa'neah—a supercommentary on Ibn Ezra's commentary on the Pentateuch, written by Joseph ben Eliezer Bonfils (or Tov Elem) at the end of the fourteenth century—in which 'Olam I is either paraphrased or quoted under three different names and Dlam II is also alluded to.

Several factors suggest that the two versions of Sefer ha-'Olam circulated in the Middle Ages and modern era as two distinct treatises rather than as variants of a single text. For one thing, in at least nine manuscript collections of Ibn Ezra's astrological treatises 'Olam I and 'Olam II were copied one after the other—discontinuously in four manuscripts15 and consecutively in the other five—as if they were two dissimilar treatises that should be read separately. In one notable case 'Olam I and 'Olam II were not only copied discontinuously but at different times: 'Olam I in the fourteenth century and 'Olam II in the seventeenth century. In addition, although 'Olam I and 'Olam II share the same central topics, as may be expected of two texts written by the same author on the same astrological genre, they differ sharply in their organization: common topics are addressed in a different order and fashion and sometimes at very different length: a long digression in one version in contrast to a single sentence in the other; some topics covered in 'Olam I are altogether absent from 'Olam II, and vice versa.

We turn now to the impact of Sefer ha-Dlam on medieval Latin culture. Henry Bate of Malines (1246-ca. 1310), a student in theology and the arts at the University of Paris, incumbent of several ecclesiastical offices, proficient in astronomy and astrology and an author on these top-ics, organized a translation project that included Ibn Ezra's astrological writings. Bate commissioned a Jewish scholar known as Hagin le Juif to translate them from Hebrew into French, after which he translated them from French into Latin. According to the colophons, in 1281 (or 1292) Bate produced, in Liege and Malines, a Latin version of 'Olam I—De mundo vel seculo—to which he added his own prologue. This trans-lation was printed by Petrus Liechtenstein at Venice in 1507, under the title Liber coniunctionum planetarum et revolutionum annorum mundi qui dicitur de mundo vel seculo, together with the Latin translations of Ibn Ezra's astrological works that Peter d'Abano (ca. 1250-ca. 1315) exe-cuted in 1293 from pre-existing French translations and apparently with-out reference to the Hebrew original.21 De mundo vel seculo was probably known to Peter d'Abano and to Arnoul de Quinquempoix (d. 1321 / 6), a physician at the court of Philip the Fair, who also translated a number of Ibn Ezra's astrological writings, given that neither attempted to revise or duplicate it. But no intermediary French translation of Dlam I has been found, and it has been suggested that Bate learned Hebrew himself and produced the translation of 'Olam I directly from the original. Not only does Bate's translation of 'Olam I belong to the earliest of the four waves of Latin translation of Ibn Ezra's astrological writings, it also antedates any of the surviving Hebrew manuscripts of 'Olam I. 'Olam II remained unknown to medieval Latin culture.

In the modern era, the bibliographer Moritz Steinschneider, in his essay "Zur Geschichte der Uebersetzungen aus dem Indischen ins Arabische und ihres Einflusses auf die arabische Literatur" (1870), unambiguously identified both versions of Sefer ha-Dlam, using a nomenclature that is still in use." In 1937, J.L. Fleischer, who made an important contribution to the elucidation of Ibn Ezra's biography and literary work, edited and published the Hebrew text of 'Olam I on the basis of a single manuscript. Although Fleischer neither commented on the Hebrew text nor explained astrological terms, he accompanied his edition with an introduction in which he offered enlightening information about 'Olam II The Hebrew text of 'Olam II has never been edited or translated into a European language. Renate Smithuis has recently offered new insights and a valuable contribution to the astrological content of 'Olam I and 'Olam particularly concerning the relationship between them and one of the components of Epitome totius astrologiae, a twelfth-century Latin astrological text attributed to John of Seville.

Early-Jewish World Astrology

Abraham Ibn Ezra was by no means the first Jew to be concerned with meteorological and historical astrology. Although he anchored his world astrology in non-Jewish sources, not only was Ibn Ezra aware of previous Jewish contributions in this field, but also took these Jewish traditions into account in important places in his own work. In this section I provide a historical sketch of earlier Jewish contributions to meteorological and historical astrology. There is no explicit mention of astrological beliefs in the Bible, let alone of historical or meteorological astrology; but some verses may be construed as vague references to the influence of the stars in the context of a repudiation of the diviner and the soothsayer, and others as loose allusions to earthquakes, thunderstorms, and solar and lunar eclipses. In the post-biblical and talmudic periods there is evidence of a growing Jewish interest in astrology in general and of an increasing curiosity about historical and meteorological astrology in particular.

The Book of Jubilees (probably written in the second century BCE) depicts Abraham as an astrologer who "sat up throughout the night on the new moon of the seventh month to observe the stars from the evening to the morning, in order to see what would be the character of the year with regard to the rains" (Jub. 12:16-17, in Charlesworth, 1987, p. 933 [trans. R.H. Charles] ). The talmudic sages claimed that Abraham was conversant with astrology or was an astrologer (B Baba Bathra 161); B Shabbat 156a). In a fragmentary Aramaic brontologion (a prediction of ill omens by an interpretation of the sound of thunder on specified days of the month) found at Qumran, the author, after giving an account of the days of each Jewish month in tandem with the Moon's place in the zodiac, makes a prediction of toil for the country, destruction in the royal court, and distress caused by an invasion of foreigners (see Vermes, 1995, p. 371). A tannaitic dictum predicts misfortune for Israel or for the Gentiles, as well as war and famine, depending on whether a solar or lunar eclipse takes place (see T. Sukkah 2:6, quoted in Bar-Ilan, 2.004, p. 2033).

A fundamental talmudic source that molded medieval Jewish views of historical astrology is B Shabbat 156a. In this text two Amoraim, R. 1:lanina and R. Johanan (ca. 18o-ca. 279), discuss the astrological status of the Jews vis-a-vis the stars. The former maintains that the stars give wisdom and wealth and that even Israel stands under the sway of astrological influence; the latter retorts by invoking the famous aphorism "there is no mazzal for Israel:' Ibn Ezra paid attention to this text not only in a strategic passage of Sefer ha-'Olam II but also in his biblical commentaries and in one of his monographs. Samuel, a third-century Babylonian Amora (one of those who agrees that "there is no mazzal for Israel" and who daimed to be as "familiar with the paths of heaven as with the streets of [his hometown of] Nehardea"), maintains that the world would be destroyed were a comet to pass through the constellation Kesil (B Berakoth 5 8b). He also makes statements about how the weather is affected if the vernal equinox or winter solstice takes place in the hour of Jupiter (B Erubin 56a) and about the influence of the constellations Kesil and Kimah (Amos 5:8, Job 9:9, 38:31) on the temperature (B Berakoth 5 8b)."

The fourth chapter of the Baraita de-Shemuel, a Hebrew astronomical-astrological text attributed to the aforementioned Samuel, well known in the Middle Ages in general and by Ibn Ezra in particular," is devoted to a cryptic description of the influence of the planets on the weather at the beginning of the season. From the tenth century, a series of commentaries on Sefer Yesirah (Book of Creation), which speculates about God's creation of the world, offered information about historical or meteorological astrology. In Sefer Hakhmoni, a Hebrew commentary by Shabbetai Donnolo (913-ca. 982), extensive astrological material is accompanied by references to the influence of the planets on weather." In a section on astrology in the Hebrew commentary by Judah b. Barzillai, the leading rabbinic authority of Barcelona in the twelfth century, we also find references to the influence of the planets on weather at the beginning of the seasons; this presumably draws on the aforementioned chapter of the Baraita de-Shemuel.

Following the Islamic conquest of the Mediterranean basin, Jews inte-grated into the ruling society and adopted the Arabic language for their literary and scientific works. Prominent astrologers of Jewish extraction are well known, including Sahl Ibn Bishr, Ibn Saumfiya, Abu Da'ild, and notably Masha'allah a Jew from Basra, in Iraq, who made a significant contribution in meteorological and historical astrology. Their work, however, was no different from that of Muslims or members of other religious communities, neither in contents nor in language. An important and significantly Jewish contribution to historical astrology was made by Saadia Gaon (882 or 892-942) at the hub of the Arab world. In the introduction to his commentary on the book of Daniel, Saadia offered an extremely detailed account of the standard tripartite model of the Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions and went to great length to explain subtleties such as the fact that because astrologers were unable to determine the ascendant at the time of the conjunction they took the ascendant of the whole year. Despite the neutral tone of his account of the technicalities of the Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions, Saadia also expressed a negative opinion about the relationship between astrology and prophecy. Ibn Ezra voiced a similar opinion in his own commentary on Daniel, as we shall see.

In subsequent centuries, the scrutiny of horoscopes at the vernal equinoxes of years in which Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions take place remained the main macro-astrological doctrine applied by Jewish thinkers for his-torical astrological predictions, much as in the Islamic world. From Ibn Ezra's long commentary on Daniel 1.1:31. we know that Solomon Ibn Gabirol (ca. 1021-l058) and Abraham Bar Hiyya (ca. 1062 -ca. 1140) wanted to link the Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions to computation of the advent of the Messiah, an activity for which they were sharply criticized by Ibn Ezra. In fact, the most significant Jewish contribution to histor-ical astrology prior to Ibn Ezra, and the most important medieval Jewish work in the literary genre of astrological histories, is the fifth chapter of Abraham Bar Hiyya's Megillat ha-Megalleh (Scroll of the Revealer). This chapter, an impressive astrological work in its own right, was meant to provide a Jewish and general astrological history as well as an astrological prognostication of the coming of the Messiah." This was accomplished by means of three main astrological techniques: the historical signification of the various cycles of Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions; an analysis of the horoscopes cast at the vernal equinoxes, particularly for years in which Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions took place; and the procedure of directions, which consists in setting an imaginary pointer in motion at a certain speed and analyzing its trajectory across the zodiac. Ibn Ezra was acquainted with the fifth chapter of Megillat ha-Megalleh, but he never tried to emulate Bar Hiyya by writing an astrological history. He did refer to these three astrological techniques in three different treatises and coined a different terminology for world astrology.

Although conjunctionalism continued to appeal to medieval Jewish society until the dawn of the modern era, I will conclude this sketch with two developments that took place a few years after the end of Ibn Ezra's career. A study of a Hebrew prognostication based on the "small" conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in 1166, taken as a sign of the strength-ening of the Christian kingdoms and waning of Muslim power in the Iberian peninsula, shows that its anonymous author employed certain astrological terms characteristic of Abraham Ibn Ezra, alongside others  typical of Bar Hiyya. In his Epistle to Yemen, composed between 1167 and 1173 and Maimonides (1135-1204), a staunch opponent of astrology, provides a detailed account of the standard tripartite model of conjunctionalism. He also refers to "one of our ingenious fellows in Andalusia," who applied astrology to reckon the coming of the Messiah but whose prediction came to naught: instead of the messianic manifestation, what appeared was "the rebel from the Maghrib who decreed the forced apostasy." This "ingenious fellow in Andalusia" was probably Ibn Gabirol, who, according to Ibn Ezra, "intended to connect the reckoning of the End of Days to the great conjunction of the two upper planets:' It could not have been Abraham Bar Hiyya, since the latter predicted that the Messiah would come in 1448 or 1468.

Main Sources, Theories and Doctrines in 'Olam I and 'Olam II

The content of the two versions of Sefer ha-`Olam, like that of all medieval treatises on world astrology, is an accumulation of sources and doctrines that go back to the very beginnings of the astrological literature. In con-trast to other medieval treatises, however, 'Olam I and 'Olam II provide rich information about previous sources and doctrines concerned with world astrology. When Ibn Ezra presents some astrological doctrine or scientific theory, and notably when he explicitly addresses his sources, he adopts as a rule an eclectic approach: either he invokes the authority of a specific prominent scientist or refers collectively to a group of scientists, by their area of specialization, their geographical and national affiliation, or the age in which they flourished. Here I want to survey Ibn Ezra's major sources and their most important doctrines as he conceived of them. We should keep in mind that in no few cases his information is rooted in legendary traditions.

The presentation of the relevant material will proceed chronologically, except for the last period, to conform to Ibn Ezra's own explicit categorizations of his sources: (a) the ancient period; (b) the Hellenistic period; (c) Indian and Persian contributions; (d) contributions by astrologers working in the Muslim world; and (e) connections with twelfth-century Latin work on world astrology. These divisions are not absolute; in 'Olam I and 'Olam II it is not uncommon to see some astrological theory being elaborated gradually through the ages, or some scientist of one of these historical periods cooperating with another scientist of another period. Nor is this section intended to be exhaustive; for a more detailed treat-ment of the sources and doctrines, in close connection to the texts of 'Olam I and 'Olam II, readers are invited to consult the notes on the English translations.

The Ancient Period

This layer, which incorporates the ancient biblical, Egyptian, and Baby-lonian traditions, is embodied in Enoch, a legendary figure who derives from the god incarnate Hermes Trismegistus (who represents the Egyptian god Thoth and is also viewed as the author of philosophical, scientific, and magic works) and was taken up in the Muslim world divided into the triple Hermes. It was probably Abu Ma`shar who was responsible for the creation and dissemination of this myth. Ibn Ezra follows closely in Abu Ma`shar's footsteps and refers to the triple Enoch in three separate sections of 'Olam I. The common denominator of Ibn Ezra's three Enochs—the "Ancient Enoch," "Enoch the First," and "Enoch the Egyptian"—is that they did not make astrological predictions in the usual form of protases and apodoses; instead, they issued "lists" establishing correspondences between planets or pairs consisting of a single planet and a single zodiacal sign, on the one hand, and various groups of people or geographical zones, on the other.

The "Ancient Enoch"—probably the same as the "first Hermes," who, according to Abu Ma`shar is identical with the biblical Enoch, was the  first to speak of heavenly things from the motions of the stars, studied medicine, lived in Egypt before the flood, and built the pyramids—is cited in 'Olam I as the author of the rule that the seven planets give indications about categories of people in accordance with their age, gender, or profession. "Enoch the First"—possibly identical with the "second Hermes," who, according to Abu Ma`shar, was a Babylonian skilled in medicine, philosophy, and numerology and reinvented these sciences after their obliteration by the flood in Babylon—is cited in 'Olam I as the author of a list in which various geographical zones are under the sway of pairs consisting of a single planet and a single zodiacal sign. Finally, "Enoch the Egyptian"—probably the same as the third Hermes, who, according to Abu Ma`shar, lived in the "city of Egypt" (probably Alexandria), wrote about various sciences in Egypt, taught alchemy, passed on his wisdom to Asclepius, and corresponds to the Hermes of the Corpus Hermeticum—is cited in 'Olam I as the author of another list that associates various regions of Earth with pairs consisting of a single planet and a single zodiacal sign.

'Olam I also invokes "Enoch," with no accompanying epithet; this is how Enoch is frequently referred to in Ibn Ezra's oeuvre, usually in an approving tone. Ibn Ezra quotes from the Book of Secrets by Enoch and mentions the dodecatemoria, which divide each of the zodiacal signs into twelfths. This doctrine is frequently mentioned in introductions to astrology; here Ibn Ezra stresses its importance for predictions related to world astrology and points out that it may be applied in two different versions. One of these two versions—that the degrees of a certain sign are successively and recurrently assigned to the 12 signs—is ascribed to Enoch by Abu Ma`shar and, following him, by Ibn Ezra as well.

Hellenistic Period

This period is represented by two sources. One of them is Dorotheus of Sidon, a first-century Hellenistic astrologer who wrote a didactic poem on horoscopic astrology, known in Greek as the Pentateuch (five books); Ibn Ezra knew him as Doronius, a misnomer caused by a faulty pointing of the Arabic. That Ibn Ezra was acquainted with the Arabic translations of Dorotheus' work, which were contaminated with Sasanian material and references to Hermes and other astrologers, is suggested by the fact that in both 'Olam I and 'Olam II he is referred to as a king, just as in the translation of Dorotheus' work. What is more, 'Olam I has Dorotheus quoting from the aforementioned Book of Secrets by Enoch,69 while 'Olam II assigns to him a list of correspondences between single planets and single zodiacal signs, on the one hand, and various countries, on the other, just like "Enoch the First" and "Enoch the Egyptian."

The other and far more important source from the Hellenistic period is Claudius Ptolemy. The persona known to Ibn Ezra, however, is not the historical scientist of classical antiquity but a compound of legends and myths. In 'Olam I Claudius Ptolemy is designated Batalmiyas, that is, Ptolemy in an Arabic accent; but in 'Olam II he is referred to as king Talmai, the post-biblical or talmudic Hebrew equivalent of king Ptolemy. Ibn Ezra, drawing on Abu Ma`shar, created a new and mythical King Ptolemy who initiated the translation of the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, in order to purloin the astrological secrets concealed in the Pentateuch. Claudius Ptolemy is Ibn Ezra's most important astrological and scientific source, to whom he refers in his entire work more frequently than to any other scientist or astrologer. This holds for 'Olam I and 'Olam II as well, in which Ptolemy is not only the most frequently cited source but is also credited with a number of significant cosmological patterns, methodologies, and astrological doctrines, as follows.

1. Solar and Lunar Eclipses

The most prominent tool for making world predictions originating in the Hellenistic period, and the main astrological doctrine for which Ibn Ezra is indebted to Ptolemy, is the astrological theory of solar and lunar eclipses, addressed by two sizeable sections of 'Olam I and 'Olam II Ptolemy, whom Ibn Ezra repeatedly and explicitly cites as his main source, set out in the Tetrabiblos (II:4-8) a well-organized chapter on solar and lunar eclipses, which is structured under four main headings: (a) the places affected by the eclipse, based on an analysis of the region of the zodiac where it took place; (b) the time of the beginning, duration, and climax of the predicted event, which is based on the analysis of the horoscope cast at the moment of the eclipse; (c) the class of the predicted event, based on the form of the zodiacal sign where the eclipse takes place and where the heavenly bodies that govern the sign of the eclipse and the cardo following it are located; (d) the quality of the class of the event, namely, whether it is productive of good fortune or misfortune, which is based on analysis of the nature of the activity of the planets that rule the dominant places of the eclipse. Ibn Ezra follows Ptolemy's approach in broad strokes but employs only scattered elements of Ptolemy's theory and does not refer explicitly to these four headings. Moreover, Ptolemy's opinion is combined with that of other ancient and modern scientists; in some cases ideas that cannot be found in the Tetrabiblos are ascribed to him. This suggests that Ibn Ezra, although he explicitly invokes the authority of the Tetrabiblos, drew on some secondary source that referred to that work, explicitly or implicitly. This could have been the twenty-fourth aphorism of Pseudo-Ptolemy's Centiloquium, well known to Ibn Ezra, or sections 5 and 7 of Masha'allah's Book on Eclipses!'

2. The 120 Conjunctions of the Seven Planets

The "120 conjunctions of the seven planets: that is, the sum of the
combinations of two, three, four, five, six, and seven planets, is the first topic addressed in both versions of Sefer ha-'Olam, though the treatments are very different: a lengthy and detailed discussion in 'Olam 1, as opposed to a single laconic statement in 'Olam 11.79 1bn Ezra borrowed this numerical-cosmological pattern from the fiftieth aphorism of what he called Sefer ha-Peri (Book of the Fruit)," a short work organized in 100 statements that during the Middle Ages was considered to be a compendium of the Tetrabiblos and an authentic work by Ptolemy. It was called Kitab al-Tamara in the Arabic world and later became known as the Centiloquium in Latin Europe. In the tenth century Abmad Ibn Yasuf, a mathematician active in Egypt, composed a commentary on the Centiloquium; it has been plausibly argued nonetheless that he was the author of the Centiloquium as well. At the beginning of the thirteenth century Qalonymus ben Qalonymus translated both the compendium of the 100 statements, which he called Sefer ha-Peri, and Ahmad Ibn Yasuf's commentary into Hebrew.

Ibn Ezra, who believed that Sefer ha-Peri was by Ptolemy," was the first to introduce it into medieval Jewish educated circles." A reading of the fiftieth aphorism of Sefer ha-Peri makes clear why the 120 conjunctions of the seven planets, which have hardly any practical significance in world astrology, feature at the very top of Ibn Ezra's agenda in 'Olam I and 'Olam II: "Ptolemy said: do not be oblivious to the 120 conjunctions of the planets, because from them comes the knowledge of almost everything that occurs in the world of generation and corruption."

The lengthy explanations of the 120 conjunctions in 'Olam I consti-tute a significant mathematical contribution: rather than a mere quote, they constitute Ibn Ezra's original attempt to provide a mathematical demonstration of each of the partial combinations of two, three, four, five, six, and seven planets as given in the tenth century by Abmad Ibn Yasuf in his commentary on the fiftieth aphorism of the Centiloquium.

3. Syzygies

In 'Olam I Ptolemy is also credited with an astronomical theory (elabo-rated, in Ibn Ezra's account, with the collaboration of the Indian, Egyp-tian, and Persian scientists, as well as Dorotheus) which holds that, because it is impossible to determine the sign of the ascendant at the hour of the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, the astrologer should observe the moment of the luminaries' conjunction or opposition, whichever occurs last before the Sun enters Aries. This is because its timing may be precisely determined "without approximation" and because from it the astrologer can know "all the judgments of the world." Ptolemy does indeed refer to the importance of observing the syzygies of the sun and moon at new and full moon in a number of places in the Tetrabiblos, notably in the first chapter of the second book, which addresses general astrology," but he never refers to the conjunctions of Saturn and Jupiter as a tool for historical predictions. For the presentation and justification of this theory Ibn Ezra embarks on a long excursus" (his favorite explanatory tool in his biblical commentaries and in the two versions of Sefer ha-Te'amim), converts himself into Ptolemy's analyst, and briefly puts forward a number of astronomical theories and find-ings propounded by Ptolemy in Almagest. But Ibn Ezra is also critical of Ptolemy: he states that Ptolemy's value for the arc of the Sun's inclina-tion is not exact enough and that Ptolemy's astronomical tables are of no use in his own days."

4. The Musical Tones of the Planets

In 'Olam I Ibn Ezra credits Ptolemy with the following statement: "the ratio of Jupiter to Saturn is not as noble as the ratio of Jupiter to Venus: That Ibn Ezra uses the expression "noble ratio" in the same context where he quotes Ptolemy's reference to the ratio of one planet to another sug-gests that this statement depends on the theory, of Pythagorean origin, that each of the seven planets (as well as the fixed stars) have numbers that correspond to the musical tones produced by the rotation of their orbs. Ibn Ezra explicitly ascribes this theory to Ptolemy in both versions of Sefer ha-Te'amim, where he assigns a number to each of the seven planets and explains that a planet is considered to be benefic if its number has a "noble" or harmonious ratio to the number of another planet. This ascription is vouched for by other sources as well. The same numbers given by Ibn Ezra are found in the Canobic Inscription, an early work by Ptolemy, predating the Almagest, which contains a list of parameters of his mathematical astronomy. Ptolemy may have expounded this theory in chapter 3.14 of the Harmonics (entitled "By which least numbers the fixed tones (notes) of the perfect system may be compared to the primary spheres in the universe"), whose contents are by now lost. But Ibn Ezra probably derived his information on this theory from the Epistle on Music of the Ikhwan al-Safa', which incorporates a full account of the theory and an explanation of the notion of a "noble ratio.'

Persian and Indian Contributions

Ibn Ezra is well aware of a Persian and Indian layer in world astrology. In 'Olam I and 'Olam II he explicitly mentions the scientists of Persia and the scientists of India in a variety of astrological doctrines, as well as the astronomical tables of the latter. In other cases, the Persian and Indian contribution is encapsulated in quotations from the work of astrologers writing in Arabic after the emergence of Islam. From other sources we know that the Persians of the Sassanian period, combining the Hellenistic ideas of anniversary horoscopes and prorogation with Indian theories of vast chronological cycles containing integer numbers of rotations of the planets, invented historical astrology, which reconstructs the history or foretells the fate of nations, religions, dynasties, prophets, and individual kings. Here we shall focus attention on two doctrines of Persian origin with a bearing on historical astrology—the conjunctions of Saturn and Jupiter and the fardar—and two doctrines of Indian origin with a bear-ing on meteorological astrology—the "opening of the door" and the 28 mansions of the Moon.

1. The Conjunctions of Saturn and Jupiter

The most prominent Persian doctrine received by the Arabic world, and later bequeathed to Hebrew and Latin culture, is the use of the cycles of the conjunctions of Saturn and Jupiter for world predictions or historical analysis. In its standard form these conjunctions are divided into three types or cycles: the "small" conjunction, with a period of 2o years between two successive conjunctions; the "middle" conjunction, with a period of 24o years between two shifts from one triplicity to another; and the "great" conjunction, with a period of 96o years between two conjunctions in the head of Aries. This theory of Persian origin gained great popularity in late eighth- and ninth-century Islam, when it was employed to interpret the history of Islam by Theophilus of Edessa (d. 785), Pseudo-Stephanus of Alexandria as preserved by Achmat the Persian, Masha'allah (d. ca. 815) in his Book of Religions and Dynasties as preserved in the Kitab al-Mughni of Ibn Hibinta (composed after 928), (Umar b. al-Farrukhan al-Tabari (fl.ca. 800) in his Kit ab al-Qiranat wa-tahwil as-sinin, Kanakah al-Hindi (early Abbasid period) in his large and small Kitab al qiranat (Book of conjunctions), Aba Ma`shar in his Kitab al-milal wad-duwal, and others. From the tenth and particularly during the twelfth century, as we have seen, Jewish intellectuals, building on Arabic astrology, began putting conjunctionalism to good use for re-interpreting Jewish history.

The closest Ibn Ezra comes to mentioning the Persian provenance of this theory is in Te'amim I, where he speaks of a series of cycles, including the three types of Saturn-Jupiter conjunCtions, as the product of the "opinion of the scientists of Persia and India:' In 'Olam I Ibn Ezra repeatedly refers to Masha'allahm4 and once to Al-Andruzagar, two figures whom the Arabs associated with Persian astrology, as his explicit sources for predictions in which the Saturn-Jupiter conjunction are involved. Ibn Ezra devotes two substantial sections in 'Olam I and 'Olam II to the exposition of the tripartite model of conjunctionalism, but his main innovation lies in a novel Hebrew terminology. After this parallel presentation, the treatment of the conjunctions is scattered throughout the two texts in passages where other astrological agents are dealt with as well.

As a rule, in 'Olam I and 'Olam II the Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions play the relatively modest role of shaping the history of cities, signifying war, high or low prices, famine, and drought or plenty. But in 'Olam I we read that the great conjunction "signifies that a prophet will come to found a nation"; and in a remarkable passage of 'Olam II Ibn Ezra provides a succinct but comprehensive picture of how the conjunctions of Saturn and Jupiter brought about the emergence of the three monothe-istic religions. In this account the births of Jesus Christ and Muham-mad were foreshadowed by two Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions in Leo and Scorpio. Ibn Ezra maintains that Aquarius is the Jews' zodiacal sign,

although he implicitly refers to a Saturn-Jupiter conjunction in Aquarius. In the same passage Ibn Ezra addresses the Jews' dual astrological status vis-a-vis the stars—sometimes immune to astrological influence and sometimes subject to it—a topic on which he expands in his biblical commentaries.

A comprehensive picture of the historical weight of conjunctionalism is offered in another remarkable passage of 'Olam II. The three types of Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions, together with the annual horoscopes cast at the revolution of the year, hierarchically mark the rhythm of human history at almost all its levels. The length of their periods (960 years, 240 years, 20 years, one year) is not only commensurate with the time intervals in which the dominance of each of those astrological agents continues to be felt, it is also directly proportional to the historical significance of each of those four astrological agents: the great Saturn-Jupiter conjunction gives an indication "about every nation," the middle conjunction "about the kings of every nation," the small conjunction "about an increase or decrease in the kingdom," and the horoscope at the revolution of the year signifies "events that come as if were by chance, and they wane quickly."

2. The fardar

Ibn Ezra also explicitly mentions the Persian contribution apropos of the fardar. This Persian term, which appears in Arabic, Hebrew, and Latin texts, is used in both historical astrology and nativities as a period of 75 years. Aba Ma`shar, in Kitab al-Ulaf, expands the range of the term in historical astrology to include four types offardar. Only the last of these, the small fardar with a period of 75 years, is the sense in which the term fardar is used in two fairly large sections of `0/am I and 'Olam II, as well as in Abu Ma'shar's Book of Religions and Dynasties. As we shall see, the fardar is used in this sense in the tenth chapter of Reshit Hokhmah, too; but there Ibn Ezra refers to it as one of a number of methods of direction or prorogation applied in world astrology.

The mechanism for the distribution of fardarships to the planets and the two lunar nodes in the order of their exaltations is explained in similar terms in 'Olam I and 'Olam II, along much the same lines as in other introductions to astrology. But a peculiarity is that Ibn Ezra attempts to accommodate the calculations for finding the planet that rules the fardarship of some year to two different calendars—in 'Olam I to the reckoning of the Persians and in 'Olam II to the Hebrew calendar— and that in 'Olam I the discussion of the fardar lead to a digression, based on a statement of Sefer Yesirah, about whether every cycle of 75 years is the same as the previous ones.

3. "Opening of the Door"

'Olam II credits the Indian scientists with an astrological procedure according to which "if you want to know about rain, observe the place of the conjunction and the opposition of the luminaries each month and (determine) which (planet) is the lord of the sign of the ascendant. If the planet aspects the lord of the seventh place (after it), then (this) is called an 'opening of the door:" "Opening of the door" is defined in Al-Qabisi's Introduction to Astrology as the condition "when an infe-rior planet applies (i.e., it is in conjunction to or aspects) to a superior planet and their houses are in opposition"; Al-Qabisi's definition is echoed in Tractatus pluviarum and Apertio Portarum, two closely related twelfth-century Latin texts. Although Ibn Ezra's definition in 'Olam II is similar, it diverges from the others in that (a) it explicitly mentions the Indian scientists as the originators of this doctrine; (b) it establishes that the procedure should be carried out every month at the con-junction or opposition of the luminaries; and (c) it states that one of the two participating planets is the lord of the ascendant at this precise moment. 

In 'Olam I Ibn Ezra offers an analogous although by no means identical exposition of the same doctrine. Instead of ascribing it to the Indian
scientists, he traces it to "Ibn Sariq," who may be plausibly identified with
Ya`gab ibn Prig, one of the earliest Arabic astronomers and astrologers
(late eighth century) involved in the transmission of Indian science to
Arabophone civilization. Instead of the "opening of the door", he speaks of a planet that is a "key" to another: "the lord of the seventh place (counting) from the (house of an) upper planet is always its key." This suggests that 'Olam I and 'Olam although referring to the same doctrine, are following different sources. In addition, 'Olam I and 'Olam II offer a full account of the "12 keys of the Moon"-12 phases of the Moon that are considered to have influence on the weather, particularly on rain—and connect them to the aforementioned proce-dure for forecasting rain, in which a planet is a "key" to another, or link the "12 keys of the Moon" to the "opening of the door." This link is vouched for in a number of sources, such as Kitab mukhtasar al-masa'il by `Umar b. al-Farrukhan al-Tabari, Kitab Ial-Bari by `Ali ibn etc.'

4. The 28 Mansions of the Moon

'Olam I and 'Olam II also ascribe the 28 mansions of the Moon to the scientists of India. Throughout history, various civilizations have divided the zodiac into 28 parts that bear on weather forecasting and astrology. The Indians divided the ecliptic into 28 divisions associated with diverse deities and called naksatra. In pre-Islamic times, the Arabs distinguished 28 fixed stars, each of them a naw' (plural anwa), whose rising and settings divided the solar year of 365 days into roughly 28 periods of thirteen days, each with it own characteristic weather. Also ascribed to the Indi-ans and the Arabs are the 28 lunar mansions (Arab. manazil al-qamar), which have a special bearing on rainfall. Because the lunar month has approximately 28 days, each lunar mansion was taken to be the place where the Moon "lodges" on one day of the lunar month. In Arabic sources the anwa are related to the lunar mansions. Texts attributed to Hermes Trismegistus prescribe the activities to be undertaken when the Moon is located in each of these 28 constellations. Al-Biruni points out that the anwa are associated with rain because the times of their occurrence are related to the setting of the mansions in the west in the morning. The lunar mansions are frequently mentioned, catalogued, and described in Arabic (mainly translated into Hebrew and Latin) and Latin sources, generally in close connection with weather or rain forecasting.

The 28 lunar mansions feature prominently throughout Ibn Ezra's oeuvre. In his commentary on Ecclesiastes 3:1 and the long commentary on Exodus 26:2 he harshly criticizes anonymous (presumably Jewish) commentators who associated the 28 lunar mansions with the 28 varieties of time enumerated in Ecclesiastes 3:2-8 and with the 28 cubits of the cur-tains of the sanctuary (Ex. 26:2). In the introduction to his short com-mentary on the Pentateuch, however, Ibn Ezra notes without comment that the 28 letters of the Hebrew alphabet correspond to the 28 lunar mansions. In his scientific treatises, Ibn Ezra devoted complete chapters to the 28 lunar mansions in Keli ha-Nehoshet I (Book of the Astrolabe), where he invokes the authority of the Ancients, as well as in Keli ha-Nehoshet II, where he refers instead to the Arabs. In those two chapter he defines the lunar mansions, provides instructions for finding the Moon in the mansions with respect to the place of the Sun at the beginning of the month, and offers a complete catalogue of the 28 lunar mansions, including their Arabic names, translation into Hebrew, and the number and size of the stars thereof; in Keli ha-Nehoshet II he adds the graphical representation of each asterism. As for his astrological work, in addition to relevant passages in 'Olam I and 'Olam II, in the sixth "place" of the recently discovered Sefer ha-Mivharim III Ibn Ezra pro-vides a complete list of the 28 lunar mansions and, citing the author-ity of the scientists of India and of Dorotheus, enumerates the actions it is worthwhile to undertake (i.e., taking a medicine, getting married, embarking on a sea voyage, etc.) when the Moon "lodges" in each of its mansions.

Arabic Contributions

As a rule, Ibn Ezra speaks in highly favorably terms about the contributions of Arab astronomers. Thus, in 'Olam I, in an account of the controversy about the arc of the Sun's inclination, after presenting the values given by the Indian scientists, Ptolemy, and Hipparchus, Ibn Ezra con-cludes that "the Arab scientists were more precise than everyone else and agreed that the arc of inclination is 23°35', except Yahya ben Abi Mansur and Abraham al-Zarcial, who were even more precise and said that it is 23°33'. He also refers approvingly to the astronomical tables compiled by Arab astronomers—referring to them collectively as "scientists who rely on experience"—or specifically to the tables of al-Battani, and does not fail to mention the contribution of Arab builders of astronomical instruments, as the Barna Shakir.

By contrast, Ibn Ezra unleashes a harsh attack on Abu Ma`shar, the most prominent astrologer of the Middle Ages. In the very first sentence of 'Olam I Ibn Ezra enjoins readers neither to like nor to trust Abil Ma`shar's Book on the Conjunction of the Planets, because it relies on the mean motion for the planetary conjunctions; later, readers are warned not to trust Abu Ma`shar's book because a certain prediction regard-ing rain was not borne out by experience."° Ibn Ezra's negative attitude towards Abu Ma`shar is a puzzle, notably because elsewhere in his astrological corpus he depends heavily on Abu Ma`shar's work or refers to him approvingly. But this ambiguity is not unusual; Ibn Ezra is in the habit of attacking prominent scholars (Jews too) on whose work he relies."2 As a rule, however, Ibn Ezra frequently mentions the work of prominent astrologers in the Islamic world, though he does not credit them with specific astrological doctrines or theories, and restricts himself to invoking them as repositories of astrological lore that is usually of pre-Islamic origin. Thus Masha'allah is repeatedly invoked in applications of the con-junctions of Saturn and Jupiter, a doctrine of Persian provenance."' Ibn Ezra also refers to the innovative work of Arab astrologers apropos of the secular or religious history of Islam, as in the case of the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter that foreshadowed Muhammad's birth, predictions related to the "kingdom of the Muslims," and observations made by the "scientists of Spain" regarding the signs of cities in the Iberian peninsula.

Links to Twelfth-Century Latin Works on World Astrology

'Olam I and especially 'Olam II display close links to two twelfth-century Latin works on world astrology attributed to John of Seville: the Liber primus de gentibus, regibus, civitatibus, aeris mutatione, fame et mortalitatel' and the Tractatus pluviarum et aeris mutationis, which is largely a portion of the latter work. These links were first identified by Charles Burnett, who also focused attention on the Tractatus Pluviarum, and have recently been fleshed out by Renate Smithuis, who found striking paral-lels between various parts of Ibn Ezra's astrological oeuvre and the Epit-ome totius astrologiae, such as the use of Hebraisms that are translations of Ibn Ezra's neologisms, the formulation of doctrines, and the organiza-tion of the material."9 The present edition, while focusing exclusively on the links between 'Olam I and 'Olam II, on the one hand, and the Liber primus de gentibus and Tractatus Pluviarum, on the other, fully corrob-orates these findings. These connections will be treated separately in the notes to the English translation of 'Olam I and 'Olam II and en bloc in Appendix E. Here three examples can serve as an illustration.

The first example relates to the motif of the 120 planetary conjunctions, which is the first topic addressed in both versions of Sefer ha-'Olam. Interestingly enough, although it does not occur in Arabic astrological literature, let alone in works about world astrology, the motif of the 120 planetary conjunctions appears in the very first paragraph of the Liber primus de gentibus, just before the presentation of the diverse types of Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions, just as in 'Olam I and 'Olam

The second example relates to a list of cities and their corresponding zodiacal signs, which appears in 'Olam II, on the one hand, and in the Liber primus de gentibus and Tractatus Pluviarum, on the other. The list in 'Olam II contains two outstanding features: (i) Rome, Pisa, and Lucca are recorded in this order, which corresponds to what we know about Ibn Ezra's peregrinations; (ii) information is given about the author's own observations to determine the zodiacal sign of the city. Interestingly enough, virtually the same information is given in the Liber primus de gentibus and Tractatus Pluviarum.1 The third example refers to four consecutive sections of `Olam II, whose common denominator is the attempt to quantify astrological influence by assigning portions of powers to the planets and to the 12 keys of the Moon (according to the precedence of their dignities, their position in the horoscopic places, and their various conditions with respect to the Sun). As it happens, virtually the same information is offered in a long passage of the Liber primus de gentibus.

World Astrology in Other Parts of Abraham Ibn Ezra's Oeuvre

The two versions of Sefer ha-'Olam are no doubt Ibn Ezra's longest, most concentrated, and most substantial contribution in world astrology, but they are by no means his only achievement in this field. To complete the picture, we should examine the contents of three additional short texts, provided in Hebrew, English translation, and commentary, in Part Five, below. These texts, which are directly concerned with word astrology, are: (a) the tenth chapter of Reshit Hokhmah (Beginning of Wisdom), where Ibn Ezra presents a series of cycles related to world astrology, a topic virtually ignored in 'Olam I and 'Olam II; (b) the astrological section of the exegetical excursus in the long commentary on Exodus 3 3:21, where Ibn Ezra inserts material on world astrology into his biblical commentary, notably, the pattern of the 120 con-junctions of the seven planets, the tripartite model of the Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions, and the Jews' dual astrological status vis-a-vis the stars; (c) the introduction to Sefer ha-Moladot (Book of Nativities), where Ibn Ezra juxtaposes world astrology and the doctrine of nativities and presents a series of original ideas about world astrology.

The Tenth Chapter of Reshit Hokhmah

Aba Ma`shar elected to provide a separate account of the two main doc-trines of historical astrology employed in his day: he wrote about the conjunctions of Saturn and Jupiter and other related topics in Kitab al-Qiranat (Book of Conjunctions);'" but cyclical world astrology, a complex system of cycles that determine the dominant planetary or zodiacal influences at various points of time, was rigorously excluded from that work and dealt with in Kitcib al-Ulaf (Book of Thousands). As it hap-pens, Ibn Ezra followed Abu Ma`shar's lead: conjunctional astrology is discussed mainly in the two versions of Sefer ha-`Olam, while cyclical world astrology is dealt with almost exclusively in the tenth chapter of Reshit I-Jokhmah, an introduction to astrology that is considered to be the zenith of Ibn Ezra's astrological work.

The tenth chapter of Reshit klokhmah has three sections. The first discusses the calculation of the astrological aspects, particularly the technicalities of the procedure of "directions:' This is because Ibn Ezra characterizes all of the cycles presented in the next two sections as "directions." As he explains, "direction means that you direct some planet or degree to the body of some planet or to the aspect of its ray in order to know how many years there are between them." Interestingly enough, Ibn Ezra uses neither the word "directions" nor collocations thereof in the two versions of Sefer ha-'Olam. The procedure of direction is often used in nativities, but in our text it is applied in world astrology, as explained by Ibn Ezra, to "know all good and evil that befalls kings, and (the transfer of) the conduct of the realm from one nation to another, and the alterations that occur in the world affecting general and private affairs, from evil to good and from good to evil." The aspects are used in all the branches of astrology, of course, but here they are applied specifically to world astrology.

The second section enumerates five cycles, all of them characterized as "directions," as follows: (i) "thousands," which move one zodiacal sign every thousand solar years; (ii) "hundreds," which move one sign every century; (iii) "tens," which move one sign every ten years (iv) the fardar, a period of 75 years distributed to the seven planets and to the Head and Tail of the Dragon in the order of their exaltations; and (v) "units," which move one sign each year. Ibn Ezra's source for these doctrines seems to be Abu Ma`shar's Kitab al-UlCif, which collects previous Persian sources and reports on five cycles that are virtually identical with Ibn Ezra's five "directions." The same cycles are echoed in

Kitab al-Tafhim.1 Commenting in Te`amim I on this section of Reshit Ijokhmah, Ibn Ezra refers neither to Abu Ma`shar nor to Al-Biruni and writes that "this is the opinion of the scientists of Persia and India, but Ptolemy laughs at them.

The third section presents four additional directions, three of them intimately related to (although not identical with) the three well-known types of Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions. The "great," "middle," and "small" conjunctions of Saturn and Jupiter, however, are not addressed as con-junctions per se with their own specific type of historical signification (as in the standard form of conjunctionalism), but as initial and final points of cycles of 960, 240 and 20 years in the framework of three additional types of directions, each of which moves 36o° in each of their respective cycles.'" Al-Biruni, too, considers the Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions to be directions, but not the same as those cited by Ibn Ezra. These three are complemented by a fourth type of direction that moves one degree a year.

2. The Long Commentary on Exodus 33:21

A main feature of Ibn Ezra's working method as a biblical commentator is the exegetical excursus, an independent article inserted into the running biblical commentary. In these he took the liberty of deviating from the close reference to the words of the biblical text to add new perspectives on some burning exegetical issue (particularly when he was concerned with unfolding the secret meanings of the Tetragrammaton) and display his knowledge of astronomy, mathematics, cosmology, Hebrew grammar, logic, and particularly astrology. A telling example is found in the long commentary on Exodus 33:20

The astrological section of this exegetical excursus consists of a concise two-layer account of astrological influence on the world, in general, and of the Jews' dual astrological status, in particular. The first layer begins with the fixed stars, which are divided into the classical 48 constellations of Ptolemy and held to be responsible for the fixity of the species,174 the same as in the introduction to Sefer ha-'O1am II. Before turning to the planetary layer Ibn Ezra, in a remarkable digression, construes an ostensibly historical talmudic narrative as a plot in which King Ptolemy—whom Ibn Ezra imagines to be no other than Claudius Ptolemy the astronomer—on the pretext of sponsoring a Greek translation of the Pentateuch, planned to "steal" the astrological arcana embedded in the Torah. The core of these secrets is Deuteronomy 4:19, which, in Ibn Ezra's interpretation, indicates that "it is known by experience that each and every nation has a specific planet and zodiacal sign, and so too each and every city. God has granted Israel a most-favored status, in that He determines their future, and not a star. Thus Israel is the portion of God." In other words, Deuteronomy 4:1.9 cloaks the essentials of historical astrology about nations and cities as well as about the Jews' privileged astrological status vis-a-vis the stars, the two main topics on which he proceeds to expand in the exegetical excursus.

The layer of the planets is treated in two stages; in both Ibn Ezra incorporates topics and ideas that appear in the two versions of Sefer ha-'01am. In the first stage the planets are treated collectively, through the motif of the 120 conjunctions of the seven planets—much the same as in a remarkable digression of 'Olam I. There are, however, two striking differences between the two parallel accounts. (a) Whereas 'Olam I begins with a discussion of the method for solving the combinatorial problem and then gives a detailed solution of each partial result,182 readers will search the excursus in vain for any hint about the method employed by Ibn Ezra or how he obtained the partial results. (b) Whereas 'Olam I presents the partial results of the combinations in the expected ascending consecutive order (two, three, four, five, six, and seven stars), in the biblical excursus Ibn Ezra follows a totally different and apparently incoherent order (seven, two, five, three, four, and finally six stars).

The second stage focuses on the Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions by means of a stock account of the tripartite model of conjunctionalism, as in the two versions of Sefer ha-'O1am It must be borne in mind, however, that this account is embedded in a biblical commentary (not in an astrological treatise) and that it contains a strong warning against turning a blind eye to the rigid Aristotelian separation between the super- and sublunary domains (because of the possibility of assigning physical qualities of sublunary matter to the fiery, airy, watery, and earthy triplicities) and an injunction against perverting astrology into astral idolatry.

In the last part of the excursus Ibn Ezra is concerned with the Jews' dual status vis-a-vis the stars: sometimes the Jewish nation is immune to astrological influence and sometimes is subject to it. He proceeds in three stages. In the first, he presents a "significant parable" about a com-munity that turns to God and cleaves to Him and is saved by a prophet, even though an inexorable disaster takes place, as predetermined by the stars. The same message underlies the second parable, which tells of a blind man who is about to be run over by horses, but is saved because he relies on a sighted person who knows how the horses run. The lesson of the two parables is revealed in the third stage, where Ibn Ezra expounds the Jews' dual astrological status vis-a-vis the stars: on the one hand, he enlists the famous talmudic dictum "there is no mazzal for Israel" to buttress the idea that the Jewish nation is immune to astrological influence "as long as they keep the Torah"; on the other hand, he maintains that "if they do not keep the Torah then the zodiacal sign rules over them." Because he is aware of what "has been proven by experience" he places Jewish history under the sway of a conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in Aquarius, which is responsible for the Jews' abject condition. The same pair of contradictory ideas, along with a clearer reference to Israelites' exodus from Egypt under the direction of Moses, recurs in a remarkable passage of 'Olam II.

3. 'The Introduction to Sefer ha-Moladot

Why should the introduction of a treatise on individual astrology, such as Sefer ha-Moladot, be relevant for learning about Ibn Ezra's view of world astrology, which is concerned with broad classes of people as well as their history, fate, and natural environment? One reason is that in the opening lines of this introduction Ibn Ezra, drawing on Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos, maintains that the astrological judgments that include human beings in larger social and geographical units take precedence over the astrological judgments that limit individuals to their own personal destiny. The second reason is that this introduction consists of eight remark-able ways by which Ibn Ezra demonstrates the correctness of the foregoing statement. We should pause to look at the gist of these eight ways, in which Ibn Ezra not only proclaims the supremacy of world astrology over the doctrine of nativities, thereby giving a clear indication of the great importance he attaches to the former, but also conveys a series of ideas that reveal his opinion about the significance of world astrology

The first way, in which Ibn Ezra transforms the native's national or religious affiliation into a powerful macro-astrological principle, draws on two astrological agents. The first is the "great" conjunction of Sat-urn and Jupiter, which is made responsible for the ongoing exile of the Israelite nation, the main feature of Jewish history as Ibn Ezra himself knew it in his day. Consequently an Israelite whose personal horoscope destines him to be crowned a king (even though he belongs to a nation without territory or self-government) will never be more than a courtier. This makes it clear that, ultimately, the decrees of macro-astrology over-ride those of micro-astrology. The function played by the Saturn-Jupiter conjunction in the first way is very close to that assigned to the Saturn-Jupiter conjunction "when Aquarius is in an evil configuration" in the long commentary on Exodus 3 3:23 It is also strongly reminiscent of the role of the sign of Aquarius in 'Olam II, § 14:2, except that in the introduction to Sefer ha-Moladot Ibn Ezra does not allow the Jews any privileged status vis-a-vis the stars, thereby suggesting that the baneful sway of this Saturn-Jupiter conjunction is the prevalent and permanent astrological condition of the Jewish nation.

The second macro-astrological agent is the malefic Saturn, which, in the context of the first way, plays the unexpected role that a Jew will not commit apostasy despite an unfortunate natal horoscope. Underlying this passage is an implicit reference to Saturn as the planet in charge of the Jews." Although this is not a novel idea, Ibn Ezra is the first Jewish thinker to N concerned with the astrological elements of the problematic association between Saturn and the Jews. Greek and Arabic astrology considered Saturn to be the most malignant of the seven planets;" the natural inference is that the Jews, too, astrologically governed by Saturn, ought to be contaminated by the planet's malignant and wicked nature.

Ibn Ezra did not try to blur the uneasy connection between Saturn and the Jews or cover up the extremely unfavorable attributes of that planet. Instead, he removed the sting of this embarrassing linkage by stressing that Saturn is conducive to a Jew's religious faith. Another way in which he palliated the association was to place Judaism on the same footing as the other monotheistic religions: the very planet that favors the members of its assigned religious congregation bodes ill for the members of other creeds. 

The second way in the introduction to Sefer ha-Moladot converts the terrestrial climates into a macro-astrological factor. Ibn Ezra writes that astrological influence is not uniform on earth but varies significantly as a function of these seven bands, to the extent that the climate of an individual's birth is more important than his or her natal chart. This aspect is completely neglected in 'Olam I and 'Olam II but plays a prominent role in other parts of Ibn Ezra's oeuvre, including his biblical commentaries. To explain the macro-astrological properties of the climates on Earth, Ibn Ezra applies the Hippocratic-Galenic theory of the four humors. According to this second way, those born in Ethiopia, even if favored by the planet Mercury, cannot be as wise as people born in other climates. He explains this succinctly by the argument that the Ethiopians' temperament is not balanced because of the intense heat prevailing in their country. 

The third and fourth ways are the only ones in which two classical astrological agents work as macro-astrological principles. In the third way, the "great" conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter appears again as a macro-astrological principle in its own right (and not merely as an illustrative tool, as in the first way). Now it plays the ostensibly less spectacular role of holding power over every city (in contrast to the more stupendous task of causing the Jews' ongoing exile, as in the first way). This suggests that in the third way the Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions play what Ibn Ezra deemed to be their standard and most frequent role, whereas the function assigned to them in the first way is exceptional. This is corroborated by the fact that in 'Olam I and 'Olam II, too, the Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions generally play the less dramatic role of molding the political history of cities and causing high or low prices.

In the fourth way Ibn Ezra presents the "revolution of the world" as a macro-astrological principle that causes the inhabitants of a city to succumb to a plague even though their natal horoscopes do not indicate such an outcome. The "revolution of the world" is a special horoscope cast every year, when the Sun enters Aries, to forecast world affairs during the next year; the peculiar name of this astrological agent evokes the creation of the world, which, according to Indian cosmology, occurred when all the planets met in conjunction in the head of Aries. But the expression "revolution of the world" is never used in either version of Sefer ha-'O1am, where the same astrological factor is cited, instead, as the "revolution of the year" to forecast the fortunes of cities and kingdoms, even in years of a Saturn-Jupiter conjunction, or in a hierarchical arrangement of the three types of Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions, taken along with the revolution of the year, according to the lengths of their periods.

The fifth way is concerned with the social rank of the family; the sixth, with the authority of the king. These are two seemingly non-astrological factors whose societal application may be taken as the antithesis of the obviously astrological character of the agents of the third and fourth wayS. But the fifth and sixth ways provide a window into the socio-political mindset and awareness of an astrologically minded intellectual of the twelfth century: instead of conceiving of social status arising from family standing or political power as sociological factors created by a combination of structural and anonymous traits of society, or as personal factors determined by the free will of individuals, Ibn Ezra converts them into macro-astrological factors that control human social mobility. 'This is evident in the case of a king, whose natal chart, in Ibn Ezra's interpretation (if it indicates that the king will drag many people into war), overrides the indications of the natal charts of his subjects.

The seventh way focuses on a classic scenario of the Mediterranean basin (where sailing in winter is an extremely dangerous venture) and converts astrological influence on weather into a powerful macroastrological principle. This concept is pithily denoted here by the Hebrew word toledet, an idiosyncratic neologism seldom used with this mean-ing.221 In this particular case, Ibn Ezra contrasts the stars' sway over the weather with the uselessness for predicting disaster of a horoscope cast according to the doctrine of elections (which aims to find the most propitious moment for beginning a particular activity). Ibn Ezra theatrically proclaims that the fury of the elements has the power to doom a thou-sand persons, even though their natal horoscopes have reassured them that they will survive this year.

In stark contrast to the utter fatalism of the seventh way (as well the third and fourth ways), the eighth way brings to the fore the possibility of salvation from the stars. Here Ibn Ezra converts "the power of the soul, whose power resides in wisdom," into a macro-astrological principle able to cancel out the decrees of the natal chart. He is referring to the "superior soul", the highest component of the tripartite soul (the vegetative or appetitive soul; the animal or locomotive soul; and the wise or superior soul), and, in Ibn Ezra's view, also the most significant means by which human beings can evade the decrees of the stars.224 Following in the footsteps of Sherira Gaon (d. 1006) and Hai Gaon (d. 1038), Ibn Ezra presents two significantly different ways by which the wise human soul can overcome the bodily injuries indicated by the individual horoscope. The first way is embodied in the astrologer, who epitomizes a rational and manifestly scientific methodology that allows him to remedy some of the physical injuries inflicted upon him by the stars. The second way is personified by the righteous person, who blends sublime godly devotion with the scholar's characteristics and is described by Ibn Ezra as being completely saved, thanks to divine intervention, from the injuries ordained in his personal horoscope.




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