When the Israelites did that wicked deed [constructed and worshipped the golden calf] Moses sought to appease God, who was angry with them. He said, “Lord of the universe! They have made an assistant for You. Why should You be angry with them? This calf will assist You: You will cause the sun to shine and the calf will cause the moon to shine; You will take care of the stars and the calf will take care of the planets; You will cause the dew to fall and the calf will make the winds to blow; You will cause the rain to fall and the calf will cause the vegetation to sprout.” The Holy One, praised be He, said to Moses, “You are making the same mistake that the people are making! This calf is not real!” Moses then replied, “If that is so, why should You be angry with Your children?” — from Exodus Rabbah, 43:6


Rabbi Nehemiah (circa AD 150) was an Israelite rabbi best known for the earliest Hebrew text on geometry — in which he argued against the Biblical definition of pi = 3, based on the description of the great vessel of the Temple (cf. 1 Kings 7:23). His contributions to
midrash — or Hebrew biblical interpretation — survive in the Exodus Rabbah, which was compiled between the 10th and 12th Centuries.

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