Unveiling the Hidden—Anticipating the Future

Divinatory Practices Among Jews Between Qumran and the Modern Period


In Unveiling the Hidden—Anticipating the Future: Divinatory Practices Among Jews Between Qumran and the Modern Period, Josefina Rodríguez-Arribas and Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum collect ten studies based on primary sources ranging from Qumran to the modern period and covering Europe and the Mediterranean basin. The studies show Jews practising divination (astrology, bibliomancy, physiognomy, dream requests, astral magic, etc.) and implementing the study and practice of the prognostic arts in ways that allowed Jews to make them "Jewish," by avoiding any conflict with Jewish law or halakhah. These studies focus on the Jewish components of this divination, providing specific firsthand details about the practices and their practitioners within their cultural and intellectual contexts—as well as their fears, wishes, and anxieties—using ancient scrolls and medieval manuscripts in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Judaeo-Arabic.

Contributors are Michael D. Swartz, Helen R. Jacobus, Alessia Bellusci, Blanca Villuendas Sabaté, Shraga Bar-On, Josefina Rodríguez-Arribas, Amos Geula, Dov Schwartz, Joseph Ziegler, and Charles Burnett.

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Josefina Rodríguez-Arribas (Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität, Münster) has written articles and chapters on medieval astronomy and divination. She is the author of El cielo de Sefarad: los judíos y los astros (El Almendro 2011) and co-editor of Astrolabes in Medieval Cultures (Brill 2017 and 2019).
Dorian Gieseler Greenbaum (University of Wales Trinity Saint David) is the author of The Daimon in Hellenistic Astrology: Origins and Influence (Brill 2016) and has written numerous articles on the history, theory and practice of astrology, divination, and ancient medicine.
"This is a groundbreaking collection of papers on different aspects of divination in the Jewish world that provide vivid testimony to the popularity of divination among Jews and excellent starting points for the study of the social locations of diviners within Jewish society. Thus, this book seeks to establish Jewish divination as an important field of study, and does so in a remarkably successful manner."– Gideon Bohak, Tel Aviv University
"This collection of excellent studies written by outstanding scholars intheir fields fills a real gap and sheds new light on both the history of divination as practiced by Jews (and as documented in texts partly edited for the first time in this volume), and on the intricate religious, legal, philosophical and epistemological problems that arise from it on the theoretical scale." – Reimund Leicht, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
List of Figures and Tables
Table for the Transliteration of the Hebrew Characters
Table for the Transliteration of the Arabic Characters
Notes on the Contributors

Introductory Essay: Divination in Jewish Cultures—Some Reflections on the Subject of This Book
Josefina Rodríguez-Arribas

1 Divination as Transaction: Rhetorical and Social Dimensions of Ancient Jewish Divination Texts
Michael D. Swartz

2 Aramaic Calendars and the Question of Divination in Late Second Temple Judaism
Helen R. Jacobus

3 Jewish Oneiric Divination: From Daniel’s Prayer to the Genizah Šeʾelat Ḥalom
Alessia Bellusci

4 Dream Interpretation Reinterpreted in the Light of Judaeo-Arabic Fragments Attributed to Ḥai Gaon
Blanca Villuendas Sabaté

5 If You Seek to Take Advice from the Torah, It Will Be Given—Jewish Bibliomancy through the Generations
Shraga Bar-On

6 Judah bar Barzillai and His Role in Abraham bar Ḥiyya’s Letter on Astrology
Josefina Rodríguez-Arribas

7 Abraham bar Ḥiyya’s Letter to Judah bar Barzillai—Translation
Josefina Rodríguez-Arribas and Amos Geula

8 Maimonides on Magic, Astral Magic and Experimental Science
Dov Schwartz

9 On the Various Faces of Hebrew Physiognomy as a Prognostic Art in the Middle Ages
Joseph Ziegler

10 Inscriptio characterum: Solomonic Magic and Palaeography. With an Appendix on the Making of the Grimoire by Nicholas Pickwoad
Charles Burnett

Index of Names (People, Places, and Texts)
Index of Quotations and Citations of Biblical, Pseudepigrapha, Qumran, and Rabbinic Texts
Index of Subjects
All interested in Jewish cultural history, especially in its intersections with religion, intellectual history, law, politics, Biblical and Talmudic studies, as well as prognostication, divination, and hidden or esoteric knowledge.
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