Abraham Ibn Ezra’s Introductions to Astrology

A Parallel Hebrew-English Critical Edition of the Book of the Beginning of Wisdom and the Book of the Judgments of the Zodiacal Signs. Abraham Ibn Ezra’s Astrological Writings, Volume 5


The present volume offers a critical edition of the Hebrew texts, accompanied by English translation and commentary of Reshit Ḥokhmah (Beginning of Wisdom) and Mishpeṭei ha-Mazzalot (Judgments of the Zodiacal Signs) by Abraham Ibn Ezra (ca. 1089–ca. 1161). The first, the summa and by far the longest of his astrological works, the target of the most cross-references from the rest of that corpus and the most influential, enjoyed the widest circulation among Jews in the Middle Ages and after. The second, by contrast, is the most obscure. It is never referred to elsewhere by its author and is the only work for which Ibn Ezra’s authorship must be substantiated. Reshit Ḥokhmah and Mishpeṭei ha-Mazzalot were written in order to explain concepts common to the various branches of astrology that Ibn Ezra addressed elsewhere and to elucidate the worldview that underlies astrology. These two treatises are the richest and most varied with regard to the astrological information they present. Reshit Ḥokhmah and Mishpeṭei ha-Mazzalot also exemplify the close collaboration between astronomy and astrology in medieval science and are the two components of Ibn Ezra’s astrological corpus with the most extensive, comprehensive, and significant astronomical content.
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Biographical Note

Shlomo Sela is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Jewish Thought 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. With this volume, he continues the publication of Abraham Ibn Ezra’s complete works on astrology.

Table of contents

Genenral Introduction
Organization and Contents
Arabic to Hebrew Translations
The Introductions
Zodiacal Signs and Planetary Dignities
The Astronomical Content of Mishpeṭei ha-Mazzalot and Reshit Ḥokhmah
Authorship, Date, and Place of Composition
Ibn Ezra’s Other Introductions to Astrology
Transmission of the Texts
Manuscripts Used for the Critical Editions of Reshit Ḥokhmah and Mishpeṭei ha-Mazzalot
Editorial and Translation Principles
Editorial Changes with Respect to the Previous Editions
Part One: Book of the Beginning of Wisdom by Abraham Ibn Ezra
Hebrew Text and English Translation
Part Two: Notes to the Book of the Beginning of Wisdom
Part Three: Book of the Judgments of the Zodiacal Signs by Abraham Ibn Ezra
Hebrew Text and English Translation
Part Four: Notes to the Book of the Judgments of the Zodiacal Signs
Part Five: Appendices
1. Manuscripts
2. Abū Maʿshar — Kitāb al-mudkhal al-kabīr
3. Kitāb al-mudkhal (Al-Qabīṣī) and Kitāb al-thamarah (Centiloquium)
4. Planets and Horoscopic Places
5. The lots of the Twelve Places
6. Hebrew-Arabic Technical Glossary
7. English-Hebrew Glossary (Reshit Ḥokhmah)
8. English-Hebrew Glossary (Mishpeṭei ha-Mazzalot)
9. Hebrew-English Index to the English-Hebrew Glossaries
10. Authorities and Sources (Reshit Ḥokhmah)
11. Authorities and Sources (Mishpeṭei ha-Mazzalot)
12. Index of Technical Terms and Biographical Notes


Those interested in the history of science in general and medieval history of science in particular, history of astrology and astronomy among Jews in the medieval period, Jewish history, Jewish philosophy and biblical exegesis.


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