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Extraterrestrial Life

Do a search on the Internet under UFO and you will find myriads of links directing you to websites that are entirely devoted to the subject of UFO’s and extraterrestrial phenomena. You might even come across statements that support the existence of extraterrestrial life from some pretty reliable sources. Astronaut Gordon Cooper has been quoted as saying that he believed UFOs do exist and that the “truly unexplained ones are from some technologically advanced civilization.” Former President Jimmy Carter has even gone on record as saying that he can’t laugh at people who say they’ve seen them as he’s seen one himself.

Talmud Titbits A Russian physicist in 1960 claimed the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were bombarded by an apocalyptic alien atomic blast.

Are we truly not so alone on this earth? Have we already been visited by aliens from other planets? Does scripture or the Talmud provide fresh “Biblical Manna” to support these life-in-outer-space speculators? Let’s take a look. Historically, legends about alien intelligence mostly enshrined in myth, extend from the Far East to the lands of the Mayans, and from North America to the Dead Sea. A UFO-like object even appears on an ancient Roman coin. Some people, most notably author Erich von Daniken, have even reinterpreted certain Biblical occurrences as indications of extraterrestrial life. In his 1961 book, Return to the Stars, von Daniken postulated that the Prophet Ezekiel’s vision of the Divine Chariot, found in Chapter 1 of the Book of Ezekiel, was perhaps a spaceship, maybe even a “scout” vehicle. (Maybe someone was spying on the ancient Israelites going out to battle.) Although mainstream scientists have discredited much of von Daniken’s theories, there’s no denying that there’s a preponderance of evidence pointing to the possibility that we’re not alone in the universe, and some of the most brilliant minds have dedicated years of their lives in research to discover if there’s fire behind all that smoke.

What do the sages of the Talmud have to say about all this?

The fourteenth-century Spanish Rabbi Chasdai Crescas was one of the first Talmud scholars to discuss the possibility of extraterrestrial life. In his magnum opus Or Hashem, or “Light of God,” he concluded that there is nothing in Jewish religious writings or theology to deny the existence of extraterrestrials. As support, Crescas cites a well-known Talmudic passage where a sage, in answer to the question as to what God “does” during the night responds, “He flies through 18,000 worlds on His chariot …” (Avodah Zarah 3a) Assuming that these worlds also require God’s supervision, it stands to reason that there is intelligent life inhabiting them.
The late Talmudic scholar and physicist Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, quoting the teachings of the Arizal, suggested that this is not an absolute proof, as the sages could easily be speaking about 18,000 spiritual worlds. He even discards the notion that King David alluded to this in his Psalms “Your kingdom is a kingdom of all universes,” (145:13) for this scripture too, maybe speaking about spiritual worlds.

Let’s Get Talmudic

The Tikunei Zohar writes that every righteous person will rule over a star, and therefore, have a “world unto himself.” The earliest Jewish source, however, to give us some indisputable proof that the sages of Israel believed there was life in the cosmos comes from the Zohar. In the Talmud, there is a teaching on the significance of the number seven that states that there are seven earths. These seven, according to the Zohar, are all separated by a firmament and contain inhabitants. Some Talmud experts suggest that, based on Kabbalistic teachings, these “earths” are not inhabited by humans, but that some form of intelligent life can be found on them. The sole Talmudic source suggesting intelligent life on other planets besides Earth is found in tractate Moed Katan 16a. The sage Ulla, basing his words on the Song of
The three Hebrew letters comprising the
name Meroz: Mem, Reish, Zayin, without their vowels, can be pronounced as “Mars.” Deborah in the Book of Judges (5:23)—“Cursed is Meroz … cursed are its inhabitants,” posited that Meroz is a star (or planet) and its inhabitants are intelligent beings. Thus, Deborah, speaking on behalf of her husband/general Barak, is essentially essentially cursing these beings for not assisting him in his war against the Assyrian leader Sisera. There is a mystical teaching that while the earthy armies of Israel and Syria were having it out, their corresponding celestial hosts were engaged in battle as well. This is a very strong indication that the Talmudic sages believed there is extraterrestrial life out there.

Parry, Aaron. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Talmud (Complete Idiot’s Guides (Lifestyle Paperback)) (p. 294). DK Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Guides (Lifestyle Paperback)) (p. 294). DK Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Talmud
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Talmud : Wisdom of the Ages About Law, Religion, Science, Mathematics, Philosophy, and Mo