(Related podcast: Why a Jewish Rabbi wondered that Sun in Hebrew not named Eretz? (Podcast) ).
Comment: This post is based on an excerpt from my book “Coincidences in the Bible and in Biblical Hebrew” (Shore, 2012, 2nd Ed.), Section 8.1.
As reported in Jewish written sources, the name Earth in biblical Hebrew was the subject of much debate and puzzlement over the ages.
The source for these was the fact that the name for Earth in biblical Hebrew resembles the word for… “run”— namely, “move fast” (Earth in Hebrew Eretz; run is ratz).
A Geo-centric world view, according to which all heavenly bodies are rotating around Earth, was dominant for over 1500 years, until the late 16th century and onward, when it was replaced by the Helio-centric model of modern science (Wikipedia, Geocentric Model).
Living in the geocentric world view, Jewish scholars over the ages were puzzled about this resemblance of Eretz and Ratz (same philological root). They explained that this similarity is most probably due to the “fact” that the moon and the sun and all stars are “running” around the earth.
Rabbi Don Yitzchak Abarbanel (1437– 1508), a well-known commentator of the Bible, did not accept this interpretation. In his commentary to Genesis, he explained that “since the earth is a still center, it would have been appropriate that the wheel [meaning sun] should be called Eretz, and not the still center around which it revolves.”
Obviously, living prior to the historic shift towards the heliocentric worldview, Jewish sages have tried to fit their interpretations to the scientific knowledge of the time. Abrabanel rejected their explanations, based on pure logic.
The Jewish rabbi was obviously unaware that not many years later, Copernicus (1473–1543), in his book published not long prior to Copernicus death, would start the heliocentric revolution.
This resolved the quandary, raised by the Jewish rabbi, about a single biblical Hebrew word, Eretz, which to this day is used in Hebrew and in other languages (Earth),
describing accurately what planet Earth is actually doing, namely,
“running” around the sun.
2 replies on “Why a Jewish Rabbi wondered that Sun in Hebrew not named Eretz (Earth)?”
Reblogged this on Tikvah Shua's Place and commented:
Very interesting and compelling to say the least…
Thank you so much for your comment. Agree with it wholeheartedly…
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