twelve-fold division of the zodiac, as first developed by the Chaldean
astronomers, spread to the West about the beginning of the Christian
era. There is no mention of the zodiac in the Talmud; only R. Johanan
mentions it in, and in a negative vein, in the Babylonian Talmud (Shabbat
156a): "Israel is immune from planetary influence," basing
his view on the verse in Jeremiah 10:2, "Thus said the Lord,
learn not the way of the nations and be not dismayed at the signs
of the heavens...."
zodiac is first mentioned in Jewish sources in Sefer Yezirah
(the earliest extant Hebrew text of systematic, speculative thought,
with discussions of a distinctively mystical nature; written sometime
between the 3rd and 6th centuries), where the names given to the 12
signs are direct Hebrew translations of the Latin names. A later publication,
the Yalkut Shimoni (best known and most comprehensive anthology
of midrashim, dating somewhere around the 12th-13th century)
associates the 12 signs of the zodiac with the 12 tribes of Israel.
In a medieval Midrash on the festivals of the year (Pesikta Rabbati),
a passage occurs which explains the names of the signs homiletically
in accordance with Jewish history.
the 15th century we find the zodiac signs illustrating hymns related
to the Prayer for Rain recited on Shemini Azeret, these hymns were
excluded from most modern mahzorim (special holiday prayer
books). Today, the only Jewish context where we find the signs of
the zodiac is in calendars.