In cuneiform writings this lunar phenomenon is designated by the sign NA or na (it is not clear whether it is a Sumerian term or an abbreviation of an Akkadian word), and constitutes part of the "Lunar Six," a set of data observed in ancient Babylonia at least from the early sixth century b. ce.9 Lis Brack-Bernsen demonstrated how this data can be useful for routine calendar reckoning. 10 A similar usage to this JBA phrase may be adduced from the Qumranic Hebrew astronomical text 4Q317, where the phrase ... "thus it sets during the day," recurrently describes the setting of the moon during daytime throughout the waning phase of each lunation.11 However, the present statement by Rav Nahman can be also be taken in a more literal sense, with the / construed as simple accusative: "the moon completes the day." Here the astronomer is unable to supply the king with an accurate prediction of the solar eclipse, and suggests instead that, since the king finds himself in the open field, he may have better conditions for observation himself: 19 Since it is (now) a month in which a solar eclipse is liable to occur, and since the king is (at present) in the open country (sru), I have written to the king: "let the king be attentive, whether it occurs or not."
Neo-Assyrian Astronomical Terminology in the Babylonian Talmud
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