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GEOMANCY ():

Divination by means of points made in sand, or by means of pebbles or grains of sand placed on a piece of paper. Some Moslem writers attribute the science of geomancy to Enoch, others to Daniel. It originated in northern Africa about the ninth century, and from there it penetrated into Jewish literature. It is referred to by Maimonides in his commentary to the Mishnah ('Ab. Zarah iv.), by Naḥmanides in the introduction to his commentary on the Pentateuch, and by Nissim b. Moses ("He-Ḥaluẓ," vii. 124). Aaron b. Joseph, the Karaite Biblical commentator, gives "yidde'oni" (Deut. xviii. 11, et al.) the meaning of "he who casts lots by means of points." Joseph Albo, too, speaks of geomancy ("'Iḳḳarim," iv. 4), calling it "goral ha-ḥol" (the lot by sand) or "ḥokmat ha-neḳuddot" (the science of points). According to Jacob Koppelmann in "Ohel Ya'aḳob," his commentary on the "'Iḳḳarim," "ḥokmat ha-neḳuddot" is used because the geomancer takes a handful of sand and makes points in it. Albo (l.c.) calls the upper point and the lower one . There are several works entitled "Sefer ha-Goralot" which are treatises on the casting of lots as based on geomancy. One is attributed to Ahithophel ha-Giloni, one to Saadia Gaon, another to Abraham ibn Ezra, and there are several anonymous treatises. Although in all these works answers to questions are obtained by means of calculation, the calculation itself is based on the principle of geomancy. There is also an anonymous treatise entitled "Goralot ha-Ḥol," which is attributed to one of the Geonim. It is arranged according to the twelve constellations of the zodiac and the seven planets, and is based on Shab. 129b.

Bibliography:
  • Steinschneider, Hebr. Uebers. pp. 855-857;
  • idem, Hebr. Bibl. xvii. 128, xix. 100;
  • idem, in Z. D. M. G. xxxi. 762;
  • Monatsschrift, 1883, p. 466.
J. M. Sel.
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