There are many verses in the Talmud, Midrash and Siddur that state that the sun and moon rise and set through gates in the firmament. This would imply that there are no time-zones. To this world view the sun & the moon rises and sets everywhere in the world at the same time. I'm looking for a refutation.

(I dont think that this section of in Shabbat 118b is such an example:

Said R. Yossi: Might my portion be among those who receive the Shabbat in Tibberias and close it on Zippori"

Rashi states on the spot that Tibberias is low-land and Zippori is in the top of a mountain, so the light there is brighter and they wait more in closing the Shabbat. Thus, this passage recognizes the effects of elevation, not longitude.)

Is there any discussion in the Talmud (Tanaim and Amoraim only) that takes the concept of longitude-based differences in local time into account?

  • 1
    Welcome to Mi Yodeya, Ronen. I see a few interesting bits of information in here, but no concrete question. Could you please edit to clarify what exactly your question is?
    – Scimonster
    Mar 26, 2015 at 8:25
  • @Ronen This relates to height and not time zones which are a longitude variation. Zippori is not far enough away from Tiberias for there to be a significant difference in solar time.
    – Epicentre
    Mar 26, 2015 at 11:24
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    Ronen, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for this fascinating question! I've added a concluding question to satisfy @Scimonster's request that I believe is consistent with your intent; please edit if it isn't. You might be interested in this related question about the concept of a Halachic International Date Line. I look forward to seeing you around.
    – Isaac Moses
    Mar 26, 2015 at 13:19
  • Ronen, thanks for the clarifications. Please note that the question, at the end, should read as a cohesive document, so parts shouldn't be labeled "edit" or "from a moderator." (I'm not one, FTR.) If you disagree with an edit, you can edit more and/or comment about it to discuss what should be there.
    – Isaac Moses
    Mar 27, 2015 at 14:55
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    Now I'm wondering what the earliest evidence there is in any literature for understanding of the concept that the sun will be in different places in the sky in different parts of the world, at the same time. It would probably have been predicted in theory before it was ever observed in practice, since the latter requires either long-distance near-instantaneous communications or some sort of sun-independent clock that you can bring from place to place.
    – Isaac Moses
    Mar 27, 2015 at 15:01

1 Answer 1


In Talmud Bavli Rosh Hashanna 20b, R' Zeira quotes R' Nachman as saying:

כ"ד שעי מכסי סיהרא לדידן שית מעתיקא ותמני סרי מחדתא לדידהו שית מחדתא ותמני סרי מעתיקא

For 24 hours, the [moon] light is covered: For us [in Babylon] - 6 of the old [month] and 18 of the new [month]; for them [in Jerusalem] - 6 of the new and 18 of the old.

(Translation mine, with help from Rashi)

Exactly how to understand this passage is the matter of much discussion by commentators from the Rishonim to the present day. Readers who are interested in this topic are welcome to study these commentaries and edit this answer to add more detailed explanations of how this passage may relate to the concept of time zones. I may do this myself at some point.

Suffice it to say that on its face, this passage appears to acknowledge that Babylon and Jerusalem observe astronomical phenomena at different times, due to their being at different longitudes.

  • Perfect! I was thinking of the same part of the Gemarah. FYI, @Romen (and others), the Arts Scroll Gemarah Rosh Hashanah has a fascinating article that discusses the Halachic "International" date line. It is based, mainly on this section of M. Rosh Hashanna. Not easy reading for most, but extremely thought provoking and well-worth reading.
    – DanF
    Mar 26, 2015 at 14:18

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