Is there any evidence in the ancient Sources that the Talmudic rabbis were aware of the existence of America?

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    This article has the zohar and Rashi implying knowledge of 7 continents: hidabroot.com/article/67713/… – Josh K Sep 6 '19 at 19:36
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    @joshk it counted Asia and Europe separately? That's an absolute miracle! – Double AA Sep 8 '19 at 1:23
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    1) Is this on topic? 2) What leads you to think they were or were not aware of America? – Lee Sep 8 '19 at 20:00

There are no sources which speak of the Americas. At best the Zohar (not an ancient source) maybe attributes one or two continents out of the seven but there is no indication that any of these refer to the Americas.

In any event, the rabbis put their emphasis on Halacha. They were honest to admit that most of their knowledge about astronomy derived from the pagan Greeks. I do not think the rabbis were even aware that the earth was spherical, much less about a new continent.

Anyways there’d be no practical reason to know of its existence. The Catholic Church disputes’ with Columbus[1] weren’t centered around the shape of the earth. They refused to fund Columbus because they didn’t think they’d be a new continent. And the only reason they left Europe was for trade. A practical reason.

At best we can say the rabbis might have known something about the earth from the Greeks but were ignorant in what new continents lay ahead.

[1] According to the media news outlet CNN Christopher Columbus may have been part Jewish.

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    "There are no sources which speak of the Americas." How do you know? That is what is the OP is looking for but I assume he wants more than your personal opinion. Are there sources that support your claim? If not none of the above answers the question – mbloch Sep 9 '19 at 3:36
  • @mbloch The rabbis were honest and would not lie. So we can believe them when they give reason to reject, for example, Jesus. Since they did not mention Jesus in the Talmud we should assume that they did not believe in him. Similarly, since they did not speak of the Americas, we should acknowledge that they were probably ignorant of that matter. But their focus was on Halacha. There was no practical reason to know about another continent. It also didn't matter (halachically) what exact rivers flowed through Britain, so too it doesn't matter how many continents they are. – Shmuel Sep 9 '19 at 16:16

although i dont know if the sages of the talmud knew about america, i assume they did, because adam harishon did know about it. ''every land upon which adam decreed settlement was settled; every land upon which adam did not decree about was not settled'' [berachos 31b] how would they know this if they didn't hear about america

  • Your answer is an assertion without evidence. On the contrary, there is no evidence that the Talmudic rabbis knew of the Americas. Why assume when there is no evidence? this reminds me of the Mormons who believe that Native Americans descended from the Jews. When asked to provide evidence for such assertions, they replied with faith. – Turk Hill Sep 9 '19 at 22:16
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    It's learned from a derasha so it seems that it's not really a proof of independent knowledge of America in particular – b a Sep 9 '19 at 22:17

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