I have read that Maimonides described the universe in a geocentric fashion, but I have not been able to find the specific passages to which they refer.

What does Maimonides say about geocentrism?

1 Answer 1


Rambam, Hilchos Yesodei Hatorah Chapter 3. From Chabad.org

Halacha 1
The spheres are called the heavens, the firmament, the habitation, the skies.

There are nine spheres. The closest sphere is the sphere of the moon. The second sphere, which is above it, is the sphere which contains the planet Kochav (Mercury). The third sphere, which is above it, contains [the planet] Noga, (Venus). The fourth sphere contains the sun. The fifth sphere contains [the planet] Ma'dim (Mars). The sixth sphere contains the planet Tzedek. (Jupiter). The seventh sphere contains [the planet] Shabbtai (Saturn). The eighth sphere contains all the stars which are seen in the sky. The ninth sphere is the sphere which revolves each day from the east to the west. It surrounds and encompasses everything.


Halacha 4
All these [nine] spheres which surround the world are spherical like a ball, and the Earth is suspended in their midst.

  • Why do they translate kochav as mercury and noga as venus? Shouldn't the order be switched since mercury is closer to the sun than venus? The geocentric model is anyway difficult to understand but if we would put things in "order" depending on their orbit then seemingly the 2 should be switched?
    – Yehoshua
    Mar 15, 2016 at 0:17
  • @Yehoshua The order in the Rambam is consistent with the Ptolemaic Geocentric Model. I'm not certain the ancients had an accurate enough method to compare the distances between celestial bodies. In fact, Plato put the Sun closest to Earth, followed by Venus and then Mercury.
    – HodofHod
    Mar 15, 2016 at 15:10
  • see this he.wikipedia.org/wiki/… Mercury is called "chamah"! So then what should kochav be translated as according to this? Unless you'll say that this is accurate as "kochav chamah" (and just to call it kochav) and the sun is plain "chamah"
    – Yehoshua
    Mar 15, 2016 at 15:34

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