Jupiter, the largest of the Solar System planets, is called in Hebrew ‘Tze•dek,’ which means ‘justice’. The name Tze•dek appears in the Old Testament, but not in reference to the planet, although this visible planet was known in the Biblical era. It is mentioned in the New Testament in Hebrew as ‘Bel,’ and in its Roman name, Jupiter.
“And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker”
Jupiter was the Roman head god, the mythological parallel of the Greek god, Zeus (Father of gods and men), who was also in charge of law and order. Perhaps this is the reason for the Hebrew name Tze•dek, Justice. It is somewhat embarrassing that Hebrew had to borrow words from pagan mythology, but facts are facts.
In the next few days, we’ll look at earth from high above − we’ll cover the Hebrew names of the planets and the stars that were known in ancient times and are still in use today. The planets were roughly divided in ancient times (and nowadays by the IAU, the International Astronomical Union) into two types: the Fixed stars and the Moving stars. The moving stars category includes our seven Solar System planets. They are called in Hebrew (in plural form) Koch•vey Le•chet. The singular is Ko•chav Le•chet. The word ‘le•chet’ means ‘going’ or ‘walking.’ In Biblical Hebrew, ‘le•chet’ is considered an Infinitive Absolute − the very basic, nucleus form of a word or concept. It is, hence, the core word for ‘moving.’ In fact, the mere English name ‘planet’ comes from the Greek name, πλανήτης (planetes), which means ‘moving about’ (something like ‘moving back and forth’).
The other group was named by the IAU ‘the Fixed Stars.’ In Hebrew, they are called Koch•vey She•vet. The singular is Ko•chav She•vet. The word ‘she•vet’ means ‘sitting’ or ‘being settled.’ In Biblical Hebrew ‘she•vet’ is also considered an Infinitive Absolute − the very basic, nucleus form of a word or concept. It is, hence, the core word for ‘stationary.’ Of course, our current understanding is that nothing is really fixed in outer space, but because of the great distance of these stars from Earth (A•retz) they look as though they were stationary (She•vet).
The IAU indeed, changes its definitions from time to time as the science of Astronomy develops, but we still count seven planets in our Solar System and still call them ‘moving stars’ both in Hebrew and English since from the Biblical era to today.
Some of the planets perhaps were not known during the biblical era and do not have Hebrew names (Uranus and Neptune).