or, The Constellations
by Frances Rolleston
Notes on Revelation Online Books
Previous | Contents | Next
"Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his* season?"-Job 33:32
* Mazzaroth not being in the masculine gender, "its" would be a better rendering than "his."
The lamented decease of the Writer of "Mazzaroth" took place while Part IV of this work was passing through the Press, the first sixteen pages only having been printed off; the remainder is therefore given to the Public under the disadvantage of not having received the Author's final corrections. Careful search has been made among the various MSS remaining, for additional matter, but very little has been found in a state ready for printing.
On "On the Astronomy of the Ancients" of Part IV three Zodiacs are mentioned as figured in this work, whereas two only are given. The Writer had contemplated having a lithograph made of the Long Zodiac on the portico of the Temple at Dendera. That this intention was relinquished (probably on account of the inconvenient length of the zodiac) is evident from a footnote of "Mizraim," where the reader is referred for this zodiac to Hamilton's Aegyptiaca.
The Editor takes this opportunity of acknowledging the great kindness received from several friends who have assisted in the correction and arrangement of the closing sheets; thanks are especially due to a Clerical Friend of the Writer of "Mazzaroth," who has also furnished a Note on the Smaller Zodiac, and one on the Planet Venus.
The facts on which the explanation of the figures attributed to the Constellations is founded, have been gathered from authorities chiefly ancient, the originals having been examined whenever they could be obtained. The research commenced about 1811, with Hamilton's Aegyptiaca, and books and monuments in the British Museum. Every year has afforded some addition to the materials, and study and meditation have arranged and simplified them, and led to inferences derived from persevering application to the Hebrew and its dialects. Not till after the system had been completely developed did it receive the sanction of any other mind; but great was the satisfaction afforded by finding from Aben Ezra, as quoted by Dr. Hyde, that the ancient Jews had interpreted in the same manner two of the Constellations, and from Albumazer, that the woman had formerly been figured with an infant in her arms; also, that, among the moderns, Humboldt had recognized in Aries the Paschal Lamb of the Hebrews, and that our own great Biblical scholar, Faber, had seen the Messiah to be typified in the human figures of the sphere, with the foot on the serpent's head.
Again, a book that ought to be better known, "Roberts' Letters to Volney," agreed in many of the Oriental derivations, as well as the prophetic references of the figures; but this very interesting contribution to the defence of Christianity, against the French infidelity, is not systematic, nor does it solve all the emblems consistently, therefore perhaps it had so little circulation. The French infidels, however, have done much to establish the explanations that refute their inferences; they show the correspondence between the emblems of ancient astronomy, and the types and prophecies of Revelation; they would derive the prophecies from the emblems, but omit to attempt to account for the existence of those emblems in connexion with the stars. As their leader calls his attack on Christianity "L'Origine des Cultes" (the Origin of Religions), which he considers to be the Constellations of ancient astronomy, the defence, tracing the names and emblems of stellar astronomy to the revelation given to Adam, and transmitted by Noah, may be called "The Origin of the Constellations."
Till every name was solved, every emblem explained and applied, the theory could not be considered complete: those solutions and applications are now brought forward.
The reader is requested to allow for repetitions of the same facts, and even of the same applications, in various places. As in a piece of music the theme with which it begins recurs after each variation, as in the theme itself the melody repeats and closes with the key-note, so with the theme of this inquiry concerning the meaning of the emblems of ancient astronomy: the theme is the correspondence between these emblems and divine revelation as recorded in the Scriptures; the key-note, "The heavens declare the glory of God."*
As objects of microscopic examination are presented first on one side and then on another, with various degrees of amplification, in order to attain a knowledge of their aspect and their uses, which one scrutiny would fail to impart, so are existing facts relative to the constellations here brought forward in many points of view, and under many kinds of investigation.
* The authority of Holy Scripture is established by the fulfillment of the prophecies it contains. That fulfillment is proved by history.
The most important testimonies are also repeatedly adduced as equally essential to the establishment of the different proofs. It has also been intended to make the statement of each subject complete in itself, and therefore including a recapitulation of every circumstance essential to the development of it, so that each might be examined at separate times, and as a separate question.
It was a maxim of the first Napoleon, that repetition was a most important figure of speech. His opinion gives some sanction to that figure as here used.
However desirable it may be to substitute a Christian and rational account of the meanings of the ancient constellations, whether as figured by the Egyptian or Chaldean astronomers, yet scruples may arise as to adopting it, unless there can be shown cause to believe it the true one. A slight sketch of the principal reasons for thinking it so will therefore now be given.
The ancient Jews and Persians held that Seth, the son of Adam, was the inventor of astronomy, as is asserted by the learned Jew Josephus, who lived in the time of the Apostles, in his book on the Antiquities of the Jews, in which he also says that Abraham carried the knowledge of astronomy to the Egyptians.
The Egyptians held that Thoth, or Soth, or Sothus, was the founder of their astronomy; and they made use of the same emblems as the Chaldees for the signs of the zodiac. These emblems were used by all the ancient nations of which we have any records, as the Egyptians, the Indians, the Chinese, the Burmese, the ancient Persians. The Greeks and Romans had both the emblems and the names,* but did not understand either. Their poets record fables about them generally founded on the name and the original meaning of the emblem; these stories chiefly relating to a son of the Supreme Deity, who was often said to be born of a woman, to suffer, and to die, and after death to be taken up into heaven, as a god or constellation: he was almost always said to be the conqueror of a terrible serpent, and sometimes to be wounded in the heel. Their learned men paid no regard to these traditions, but considered the names and meanings of the constellations as things of which no explanation remained, even in their days, two thousand years ago; therefore when modern books explain them of the seasons, a notion which arose among the Romans in later times, we see it is without any authority from those who must have known it, if such had been the original intention. Thus the most ancient writers who gave the names and figures exactly as we now have them, do not profess to know any thing about either their origin or their purpose: they give them as they received them from their forefathers.
These names all have a plain and consistent meaning in the Hebrew* language; they all in some way relate to the promise given to Adam and Eve, of a deliverer to be born of a woman, to receive the wound in his heel, but finally to bruise the serpent's head: to this they add that the same person is to be a shepherd and a king, to have a peculiar people or flock, to be slain as a sacrifice, to rise again, and to come the second time as a conqueror and a king. Seth must have known this first promise well, and the sacrifice of Abel being said to be offered in faith shows that he also had the knowledge that the seed of the woman should be slain as a sacrifice. Enoch, a descendant of Seth, with whom he lived for many years, was, we know, a prophet, and prophesied of the second coming of "the Lord with ten thousand of His saints"; and from him Seth might learn those other particulars as to this great Deliverer who was to come, alluded to in some of the emblems. These same emblems or figures are used by all the later prophets whose prophecies are preserved in the Bible,** most frequently containing the same words which we have as the names of stars or constellations.***
* The Roman names are those we use, the Greek having a similar meaning.
The intention of the inventor of these emblems appears to have been to give a memorial of the promise to Adam, and the other prophecies with which he was acquainted. Those prophecies were the same as were afterwards recorded in the Bible, being that the seed of the woman, who should come, should be the Shepherd and the King of His people, that He should be afflicted, pierced, despised, but afterwards come again in glory and triumph; that He should have a peculiar people, or church, or assembly, who should be united to Him and to each other: the names of the emblems that refer to these prophecies are the very words used by Isaiah, Micah, Malachi, and the other prophets who wrote long after the signs and constellations had been made objects of idolatrous worship by the heathen, and who therefore could not borrow them from those nations. It was said by the ancient Jews that Adam and Seth were both prophets; but as this is uncertain, and as we are told in Scripture that Enoch was such, it is safer to attribute the prophecies figured in the constellations to him. The inventor seems to have chosen to divide the whole circle in which the sun appears to move every year into twelve parts because there are always twelve lunations in that time, and to have made them express twelve important truths about the promised Redeemer, and then to have given three more emblems to each, the constellations above and below the zodiac in that place, which should explain and add to them, and also to have given to them appropriate names, in that language given by the Creator to the first of them. These were called Decans.*
* Those who have not studied the Hebrew may be surprised why certain letters are considered as fixing the meaning of the word, and others as of no importance; in that language they are distinguished as radical and servile, a difference which may be traced in all languages. As in English, m, n, t (as th), and s, and all the vowels, are servile, or changeable, modifying, not changing the sense of the word. Thus meat is what we eat, oxen is the plural of ox, they the plural of he, she the feminine of he. The verbs exemplify the changes of the vowels, as sat, set, sit, and sot, one who has sat too long to drink. So of all the Northern dialects. In Arabic, though grammars do not so call them, these letters are used as servile. The Greek affords similar instances; in Latin and all its derived languages, the same usage is obvious. Thus, therefore, in the name Sirius the identity with Seir the Arabic, and Oseir or Osir in the ancient Egyptian, has never been questioned; the English and French Sire, and English Sir, are obvious derivatives from the primitive root of Sirius, which means to rule. Again, in the name Orion, the final n is according to the Arabic usage intensitive, giving force. The word does not perhaps at present exist in this particular form in Hebrew, but is regularly formed by the Hebrew usage, as he who cometh forth, as also by the Arabic, he who cometh. Both these names, however, we have through the Greeks.
** From Graves on the Pentateuch, Introduction xxiii, where it is said,
"I would direct the student particularly to Mr. Maurice's history, where in book iv, he will, I think, find it irrefutably established that immemorial traditions diffused over all the East, and derived from a patriarchal source, concerning the fall of man, the original promise, and a future mediator, had taught the gentile world to expect the appearance of a sacred and illustrious personage about the time of Christ's Advent." Graves here refers to his own vol. ii, from p. 311 to 320. He also, p. 307, quotes from Eusebius, Praep. Ev. 9.8, that Unmenius, the Pythagorean philosopher, said that Jannes and Jambres (Chald. Paraph.) were inferior to none in magic skill, and for that reason chosen by common consent to oppose Mussaeus, for so the Egyptians called Moses.
*** Sir W. Jones says, "I am persuaded that a connexion subsisted between the old idolatrous nations of Egypt, India, Greece, and Italy, long before they emigrated to their respective settlements." These are the "ancients" from whom the Greeks derived their comparatively "modern" notions of astronomy. "The astronomy of the ancients" must be looked for in the Egyptian sculpture and hieroglyphic inscriptions mingled with them, as in the planisphere of Dendera, not in the mangled traditions and idle fables of the imitative Greeks. See Second and Third Parts of this work.
It was as if these patriarchal prophets had said to their descendants, "When ye behold those stars called the Virgin* [Coma, Centaur, Bootes], remember that the Seed of the woman, the Desired, is appointed to come, to be despised, to be pierced, but to be the King, the Shepherd, and the Guardian of His people. When ye look upon those called the Scales,** [Crux, Corona, Victima], remember that He cometh to purchase His redeemed people, that He will finish His work upon the cross, offering up Himself as the sacrifice for sin. In looking at the Scorpion [Serpens, Ophiuchus, Hercules], call to mind the wound He must endure from the serpent-enemy, that He must receive the bruise in His heel, but that He shall bruise the serpent's head. In Sagittarius [Lyra, Ara, Draco] behold the memorial of His going forth as the Sent of God, who shall triumph in the end; though He must be sacrificed like a lamb upon the altar, yet shall He be exalted over all. In Capricornus [Sagitta, Aquila, Delphinus] think of Him as the great atonement slain for us; cut off, but not for Himself, falling, but to rise again, and to raise and save His people from wrath. In Aquarius [Pisces Australis, Pegasus, Cycnus] look to His arising and exaltation, remembering that He shall return in glory, that He cometh quickly, and shall pour out blessings on His people. In looking to the stars of Pisces [Al Risha the band, Cepheus, Andromeda], remember the multitudes of His redeemed people, united to Himself and to one another in the bond of love, that He cometh quickly, rejoicing, to reign as the King who shall rule in righteousness, when His Church shall be set free from bondage and from the power of the enemy. In Aries [Cassiopeia, Cetus, Perseus] see Him that cometh, when all shall look on Him who was pierced that His people might be raised up to His throne, being delivered from the enemy by their Redeemer, who shall break their bonds. In Taurus [Orion, Eridanus, Auriga] think of Him as appointed Ruler, the Prince of princes; the Light of the world giving the water of life, and being the Shepherd of His flock. When you look up to the two bright stars of Gemini [Lepus, Canis Major, Canis Minor], remember that He is to be the Son of God and the Son of Man, that His enemies shall be put under His feet, that He is to be a Prince and a Saviour. In the multitude of small stars in the next sign [Ursa Minor, Ursa Major, Argo], view a figure of the great company of the Lord's people, His possession in all ages and countries, the sheep of His fold, ruled over by Him who is the Mighty One that cometh. In the Lion [Hydra, Crater, Corvus], His final victory over the last enemy when He shall be manifested to have all things put under His feet, the wrath of God resting on the evil one, the great conflict at an end for ever. Behold, the Lord is at hand! Thousands of years may pass before all is finished, but what are they to Eternity?"
* Decan, division, from )kd, to break.
The Egyptian names of the signs and Decans interpreted from the Noetic roots they contain will be found to correspond with the meanings here given, as do the Egyptian figures with the purport of those we have received from the Chaldean astronomy.
* It is to be borne in mind, that when the sun was in Aries, the stars of Virgo would be splendid in the evening sky.
** The Scales of the zodiac are named as of purchase, not, as sometimes supposed, of justice.
From the beginning, their beginning, have these heavens which we now contemplate been declaring the glory of God, not only His power who made them and ruled their motions, but the greatest glory of all His great glories, "He that cometh will come." The sunlight of earth cometh, the starlight cometh, they depart and they return, teaching that the Light from heaven shall come, shall depart, and shall return, in no transitory gleam,a morning without clouds, without an evening, a sunrise without a sunset. The revolution of the heavens so taught the eternal truth developed in time, to shine to all eternity. The sun day by day teaches that He whose type it is comes, goes, and will surely come again. Those who lived before the first coming, lived in a dawning hope of that coming; those who have lived after it, in an evening faith, that He has come and will come again. The faith of the ancient patriarchs was of the early dawn, under a sky brightened by the beams of prophecy, gorgeous, and full of hope; the faith of those who lived while the Sun of righteousness shone on earth, rejoiced in noonday brightness; we who live after its departure, gaze hopefully on the mingled glories of prophecy fulfilled, and prophecy that is splendid with the promise of its return. Those who adapted the ancient zodiac and its accompanying constellations equally to the configuration of the starry heavens and to the revelation of the future destiny of earth then given to them, proclaim from both "He cometh." So daily spake the setting and re-arising of the sun, so proclaimed Orion and Sirius among the stars. So were they named to express first and foremost that all-important truth, He cometh, by those who framed that ancient delineation of the heavens from what they saw and what they had been taught to hope.
The Egyptians chiefly dwelt on His coming to rule, to conquer, to bruise the serpent's head; the Chaldeans more on the equally important and more amazing truth, He shall be bruised. The constellations* transmitted by them show every where the bruised heel, the foot held up as wounded; while in the Egyptian planisphere the foot of the conqueror is on the serpent: thus it is made evident that they were not borrowed from each other, but had some common source, from which both series of emblems were derived, that source being the original prophecy, "He** shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."
* As described from Hipparchus by Ptolemy.
** Heb. He.
In the book of Job, by the majority of learned men deemed the most ancient book now extant, and among the first ever written, we find the names of Ash, Chesil, and Chima rendered in the authorized English translation, Arcturus, Orion, and the Pleiades. Near Bootes, sometimes called Arcturus, we still find the name Benet Nash in Ursa Major, the daughters of Ash, or the congregation. Aben Ezra on Job 9:9, interprets Ash the seven congregated stars of the Plough, or Great Bear. Chesil is still found at the foot of Orion; while Chima may be traced in the Pleiades.
Mazzaroth in the 38th chapter, 32nd verse, was held by the ancient Jews to be the circle of the twelve signs, so called from rwz, to bind or put together, as the stars to form a constellation, and the signs to form the zodiac. The word zodiac or zodion, awkwardly derived from the Greek verb to live, as a circle of living things, when one of them is Libra the balance, to which life cannot be attributed, if written in Hebrew letters Nwyd(c,* is a way, and precisely that kind of way which is composed of distinct steps, thus exactly describing the Sun's way through the successive signs of the circle.
That the twelve tribes of Israel bore the twelve signs on their banners in accordance with the command of their father Jacob, as transmitted to us in that earliest of poems, the blessing of Jacob, in the 49th chapter of Genesis, we have undeniable testimony. Josephus informs us that they did so, and the Chaldee Paraphrase, supposed to be of an earlier date, adds that the figure of a man (Aquarius) was on the standard of Reuben; a bull, Taurus, on that of Ephraim, who represented his father Joseph; a lion, Leo, on that of Judah; and an eagle on that of Dan, as recorded by Aben Ezra. It is also said that the Targums attribute to Dan a basilisk, or crowned serpent, representing two of the decans of Scorpio, with which the eagle (in Lyra) comes to the meridian. These four cardinal signs where the two solstices and the two equinoxes took place in ancient times, that is, between BC 4000 and BC 2000, correspond with the four Cherubic faces, and the tribes which bore them were the leaders of the four divisions of the host of Israel, as arranged by divine command in the 2nd chapter of Numbers. Whatever might be done in after times, when the prohibition of the second commandment had been so often disregarded, it seems probable that only the marks representing the chief characteristics of the signs were at first borne on the standards of Israel. Some of the emblems are alluded to in the prophecy of Balaam, Numbers 24, spoken when from the hill-top he saw "Israel abiding according to his tribes, encamped beside his ensigns," as the word +b# may be rendered, in obedience to the divine appointment in Numbers 2. The prophet of Midian uses the very words of the blessing of Jacob as to the lion of the tribe of Judah, and that the tribe of Judah always bore a lion on its standard is an admitted fact. It was then full in view, and when the images of the pouring out of water, of the seed, and of the sending forth of arrows are found in his parable immediately connected with that of the lion, it appears that these emblems also were before his eyes. There they might be seen on the banners of Reuben, who bore Aquarius, Zebulon Virgo, and Asher Sagittarius, and the allusion being to water, not to the man, to the seed, not to the woman, and to the arrow, not to the horse and his rider, thus is confirmed the opinion that they were so borne in their respective characteristic marks, rather than in the entire imagery of the signs (every Almanack supplies these marks).
* With the Arabic nunation, Ny, a way proceeding by steps, Psalm 37:23. This dialectic termination occurs elsewhere among the constellations. Many Hebrew nouns also are thus formed.
"There shall come a star out of Jacob," were the words divinely put into the mouth of the reluctant speaker, thus consecrating to prophecy the image of a star as a type of Him who was to come out of Jacob, under whose sceptre should be gathered together all the children of Seth,* who should have dominion, and destroy the remnant of strife; thus transmitting to distant climes and future ages the prediction of the King of Glory, the Prince of Peace, under the symbol of a star, a symbol expressively typical of the glory of Him who was to come to be a light to lighten the nations.
The prophecy of Balaam is supposed to have been known to the wise men, the Magi,* who saw in the East the star of Him who was born King of the Jews. This knowledge it is thought they derived through the ancient sacred books of Zoroaster,** which contained a prediction that the birth of the expected great one should be announced by the appearance of a star in the figure of a Virgin; the Virgin of the zodiac, bearing the promised infant, the branch or ear of corn, occupying the place now indicated by Coma, vertical over Jerusalem, over Bethlehem: thus if this were indeed the place where the new star appeared, it stood over where the young child was. If according to tradition His birth took place about the winter solstice, this new star would rise after midnight, and shining during the hours of sleep, would be little known, except to those who, as the Magi, watched the starry heavens. Science*** had declined in Egypt, and the shepherd-astronomers of early days had, in Greece, given place to hirelings who knew little of the heavenly bodies. The new star arising in the East might be deemed by many who saw it to be one of the planets in their varying aspects and courses. Those who were watching their flocks by night, under its rays, needed the Angel's voice to tell them its forgotten embassy; but though not recognized when it shone forth, except by the Magi, yet in the traditions of the nations we trace the wide diffusion of the promise of its appearance. Thence probably a star was often an attribute of the Divine and Heroic character. Romulus and the first Caesar among men, the Dioscuri,^ the Twin Deities, among Divinities, were so distinguished.
* The children of Seth included all mankind, none others survived the flood, they could not therefore be all to be destroyed, by the sceptre of the coming Sovereign. The root of rqrq, rendered "destroy," is frequently used as to cause to meet, Genesis 27:20, to gather together as in a city, ryq, Numbers 21:28.
The word ry( in Numbers 24:19, rendered the city, is rendered by the Septuagint, trembling, and "terrors" in Jeremiah 15:8; it is used as stirring up wrath and strife, and evidently has the root of our word war. The resemblance in the Sibylline prediction in Pollio is striking.
The new star seen by Tycho Brahe, in Cassiopeia, which blazed for a short time and then disappeared, sufficiently authorizes us to regard this star as no meteor of our earth or sky, but as one of the heavenly bodies, pre-ordained to the glorious office of heralding, by an increase of its own brightness, the coming in splendour of Him, the true Light, by whom and for whom all things were created (Col 1:16).
* Magi, from h)gm, to be exalted, chief men.
** Zoroaster, called also Zerdusht, may have had his name partly from rc, a stranger, a foreigner: there were at least two great men of the name, the first a king and an astronomer, not long after the deluge, who is said to have originated fire-worship; the second, cotemporary with the prophet Daniel, and supposed to have been one of his disciples, is said to have restored the ancient religion of the Magi, perhaps that patriarchal faith which had preceded the time of the first Zoroaster, and from which the Magi who hailed the new-born Saviour may have learnt to expect and to adore Him.
*** Hipparchus had lived long before, Ptolemy lived long after the Christian Era: probably from the want of any great astronomer at that time, the first appearance of this star was not recorded, and even the noonday darkness of the crucifixion but one or twice. See Part II, The Star of Bethlehem.
^ Plutarch informs us that KuroV (Cyrus) was a Persian name of the Sun, evidently from srx.
The principal stories of all ancient mythology, as well as that of Egypt, have been by great authorities (Horsely, Faber, Gladstone on Homer, &c.) asserted to have originated from the prophecies of the Messiah scattered among the nations, but they have not added that the names and figures attributed to the constellations furnished the connecting link (Maurice). Others have shown the connexion between the fables and the emblems, but have not adverted either to the corresponding names, or to the originating prophecies (Dupuis, Origine des Cultes). Others again, learned and ingenious, but wanting the "one thing needful," without which man's wisdom is but folly, have traced all mythology, all worship, to the figures traditionally attributed to those groups of stars so vague and formless to the eye, the ancient constellations; but they have not sought any reason for these groups being called by the names of visible objects to which* they bear no resemblance. Thus they content themselves with the supposition that causeless effects, motiveless appellations, and meaningless delineations may have produced the mighty consequences of universal delusion, a world-wide veneration of symbols, purposeless and absurd as they receive them, but which nevertheless become important in testimony, and beautiful in adaptation, when derived from, and interpreted by prophecy.
Some theories would refer the fables of Grecian and Oriental mythology to Noah's flood, but do not seem to have carried conviction with them. Noah and the Ark, and the wickedness and destruction of the old world, are indeed to be traced in the traditions of all nations, but they do not afford the pervading theme of mythology; that theme is ever found to be the Virgin-born, the suffering and dying, the beneficent rejected and finally triumphant Deliverer, Hercules, Prometheus, Krishnu, Balder, or whatever else may be the name under which is designated the subject of all prophecy, the suffering seed of the woman, the king Messiah.
* The Crown and the Cross may here be considered exceptions.
The name of the Ark of Noah and the infant Moses, was Theba. The word ark, used by the Latin translators, misleads those who, not knowing the original name, would connect the ark with the fabulous ship Argo, as to which, whether there be any foundation in fact is very doubtful. The word Argo would mean the company*; what company is meant is declared by the name of the chief star, Canopus,** the possession of Him who cometh; a very similarly sounding word signifies long,*** the frequent epithet of the vessel Argo, which is said to have been the first long ship. This word is used in Genesis 6:15, as to the length of the Ark of Noah. Sephina, the multitude^ or abundance, is a name yet remaining in Argo; a similarly sounding word being used as ship,^^ might assist in the formation of the story, and give rise to the modern appellation.^^^
The Mexicans, like the Chinese, appear to have lost their astronomy for a time (probably during their migration from Asia), and like them, attempting to revive it from memory, displaced the signs; they remembered the figure of the Fish, the Goat in Capricornus, and perhaps the name, calling it Cipactli; they had the water for Aquarius, and the tiger for Leo; they had also the woman, the scorpion, the archer, the ram, the twins, giving them, however, wrong relative positions. It is generally admitted that the date of a system of astronomy is to be ascertained from the place among the signs from which the beginning of its year is reckoned. As the Mexicans began theirs from Capricorn, it is to be inferred that the winter solstice had passed into that sign at the time of their emigration, which is supposed to have been from Egypt. The records of the Persian and other Oriental nations indicate a far earlier origin, beginning their year from Taurus, so referring to the time when the vernal equinox was in that sign. Above all in antiquity is to be ranked the Jewish year, which primitively began in Virgo, when the summer solstice took place about the time assigned as the era of the creation of Adam, as deduced from the book of Genesis.
* xr), the company.
** )b) Nq, Him who cometh, a flock.
^ h(p#, company or multitude.
^^ hnyps, a ship, Jonah 1:5.
^^^ At Thebes, in Egypt, are still found walls covered with the figure of a long ship, which we are told was there worshiped, this corroborating the testimony of the name to the tradition of the Ark of Noah, called Theba,* that which cometh.Again, we find Thebes in Boeotia connected with the tradition of a deluge, and the reign of a king named Ogyges, said to have married Thebe, the daughter of Jupiter, whose name, Ogyges,* is from a word meaning to overflow, to rise as water. Ogygian was used as an epithet expressive of remote and obscure antiquity, so uncertain was all connected with his history.
* )b (t).Traditions on the subject of the deluge exist in the mythology of various nations; in that of China there were stories and pictures of a great inundation, from which eight persons were saved; in that of Mexico* was found the deluge of Cos Cos.
* hg), to overflow, rise, as water.
* In an Italian comment on a Mexican picture, it is said, "these two figures are the first man and woman," and that the knife between them showed that "death came into the world from their transgression." "When the sign of the rabbit, Aries, arrived, they fasted on account of the fall of the first man."
A great similarity has been observed between the Mexican and the Tartar constellations, the solar and lunar zodiacs being traced in both. The Mexicans have a cycle of such wonderful accuracy, as to indicate that they received it from a nation, probably Egypt, more deeply versed in science than themselves. The Toltec tribes, to whom is attributed 500 years' priority to the Astec, are also said to preserve great similarity in their computations of time, and in the signs of the zodiac, with Tartar and Buddhist astronomy, thus indicating a common origin, as from their ancestor Noah. The Mexicans have a tradition of the deluge, and of a patriarchal family, saved in a bark, adding that when the Great Spirit Tescalipoca ordered the waters to withdraw, he sent out first a vulture that did not return, and then a humming-bird, which brought back a sprig of leaves. After the deluge, men were said to be dumb till tongues were distributed among them by a bird, in the shape of leaves: we find here an evident allusion to the confusion at Babel; and in the scarcity of traces of primitive roots, in these far western dialects, it may be noticeable that the similarity of sound in a leaf, ala, and a word, milla,* may be a reason for this metaphor or hieroglyphic. The Mexicans had small temples for the astronomical emblems, the tiger or lion, the serpent, the eagle, and the wolf; although the serpent and its sanguinary rites had eventually superseded their former and purer worship, they seem originally, like the Peruvians, to have adored the Sun alone, for in wishing to express or fix an hour, they were accustomed to point to that part of the sky where the Sun would then appear, and say Itzi Teotl, "there will be God."**
* hl(, hlm.
** In this apparently most ancient phrase, the Noetic root, to come or go forth, may be traced in the first word, and in the second, a resemblance to Theos, a Greek name of God, allowed to be from hwhy.
Champollion read on the zodiac of Dendera the title of Augustus Caesar, on that of Esneh the name of Antoninus. Such may have been the dates of the buildings, or of their repairs. But the headless horse, the ascending node, being placed beyond where Aquarius joined on Pisces, shows a much earlier era for the invention of the zodiac. Dupuis, who calculated the date of the planisphere from 4000 BC, appears best to have understood it. The zodiac now used is that of Ptolemy's time, rather later than that of Augustus: but as has been observed, Canterbury Cathedral and other buildings on which our ancestors inscribed it are not therefore of that age; so this temple need not be referred to the era indicated by the solstice in Aquarius. The Egyptians depicted the ancient patriarchal zodiac as it had come down to them, adding emblems that belonged to their own times, as did Ptolemy in one instance (the second, or half-horse), and Flamstead most rashly in many others.
Hieroglyphics are said to be of three kinds:1. Phonetic, when the hieroglyphic stands for a letter. Champollion says that this letter is the initial of the name in the language of the country. 2. Emblematic or symbolic, of the thing represented. 3. Figurative, of the object itself. "The Chinese," probably of the same origin, "present to the eye the same object or quality." So the Hebrew alphabet, according to many authorities.
Champollion gives it as his matured opinion that the three kinds are often combined in the same phrase. He assimilates them with the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin characters.
The interpretation here given to the names of the constellations, whether of those hieroglyphic names found on the Dendera planisphere or astronomy, as transmitted to us from time immemorial, with very slight variations in the Chaldean, Indian, and Burmese, is founded on the principle that the language given by the Creator to Adam differed but little from the Hebrew of the book of Genesis, that difference where it seems to exist, chiefly consisting in the use of some roots more according to the idiom of the dialectic languages, Chaldee, Syriac, Arabic, than to that of the Biblical Hebrew; as for instance, a root only found in the Scriptures as a verb, may be rendered as a noun on the probability that such a noun was once in use, though not occurring in the sacred books.
A proof that the language given to Adam was radically Hebrew, may be found in the fact that the names Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, Seth, are pure Hebrew words, explained as such in the account of their origin. Another strong presumption is that the names of living creatures in Hebrew are remarkably significant of their distinguishing qualities, indeed, may be said to offer the best definition of them. Again, the names of places given before the confusion of tongues are equally significant, as Eden, the happy place, the land of Nod, of going forth or wandering; it is well known that the confusion is, in the original, said to be of the lip, or pronunciation, which accounts for the existence of Hebrew roots in every language.
The meanings here presented of the twelve signs and the other constellations are conveyed in their yet extant names; the agreement between the Arabic, Coptic, and Latin names, when written in Hebrew letters, is remarkable, the Greek appearing to have been merely translations of the original names.
It seems, at first, very extraordinary that the Latin names should so coincide with the import of the emblems and the oriental names, but it may be thus accounted for: the oldest of the Greek writers report that Zeus, the Jupiter of the Greeks, had expelled from the sovereignty of heaven the more ancient deity called by them Kronos, the powerful, by the Latins, Saturn, the hidden. Italy, from him called Saturnia Tellus, was called also by the equivalent name of Latium, the place of hiding; here then we might well expect to meet with traces of the patriarchal religion, there lingering long, as it has been often supposed to have done, after it was driven from the East by the worship of the new divinities; and here, accordingly, we find the Supreme Deity called Jov, an evident corruption of the sacred name Jehovah, and Jupiter, of Jah-pater.* Other names of the gods of the Romans, wholly different from those of the Greeks, are also traceable to Hebrew roots agreeing with their attributes; it is allowed that the Romans derived them, with other words of their language, from the Etruscans, whose high civilization is now attracting the attention of antiquarians. From this ancient people, then, it should seem that they also derived their names for the constellations, so widely differing in sound, though agreeing in meaning with the Greek**; therefore as the ancient Coptic are considered to preserve the old Egyptian, so the Latin appears to transmit the Etruscan appellations, if from different Hebrew roots, still equally applicable to the universally recognized symbols to which they are applied.
If each and all are found to correspond with the predictions of the Hebrew prophets, the same figures being employed, mostly clothed in words derived from the same roots, as the yet extant names of these emblems, may it not safely be inferred that they relate to the same subject? And that subject we know to be the Desire of all nations, He who was to come, revealed to the first man under the figurative expression of the seed of the woman. In many ancient zodiacs we find the woman with an infant in one hand, and an ear of corn in the other; in the Egyptian, with the ear of corn, the seed only; in the planisphere of Dendera another female figure holds the infant below. A star in the place once occupied by the infant, is still called Al-Mureddin, He who is to descend. In the earnest apostrophe of the prophet Isaiah,* "O that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down!" the same root occurs in the same sense, applied to the same person; of that infant it is recorded by Albumazer, the Arabian astronomer, that He had a Hebrew name which was by many nations called Issa or Jesus; by the Greeks Christ. That in every sign similar analogies exist has been previously shown.
* r+p, Arabic sense, Creator.
** The very name Etruria confirms this supposition; in Hebrew signifying very rich, abundant, fertile.
"The surest and best characteristic of a well-founded and extensive induction is, when verifications of it spring up, as it were, spontaneously into notice, from quarters where they be least expected, or from among instances of that very kind which were at first considered hostile to them. Evidence of this kind is irresistible, and compels assent with a weight that scarcely any other possesses" (Herschell on Nat. Philos. p. 170).
* Isaiah 54 English, 63 Hebrew. Compare John 6:33, and 12:24.
Such evidence seems to abound for the "induction" here advocated, namely, that ancient astronomy affords proof of ancient revelation, and of the purport of it.
Albumazer, in the ninth century, said: "Of the Decans, and their houses, according to the Persians, Babylonians, and Egyptians.
"Here follow the Decans, which the Arabs in their language call faces, which we will arrange according to the order used by the Persians, Chaldeans, and Egyptians. They are three to each sign of the way, which are called steps. They begin from Aries."
In c. 13, he speaks of the Decans according to the Indians. (Albumazer, Flores Astrologiae, c. 12, B.M.)
Aben Ezra, in the thirteenth century, says on Albumazer's enumeration of the constellations, that "according to Albumazer none of these forms from their first invention have varied in coming down to us, nor one of their words (names) changed, not a point added nor diminished."*
The Indians have them under different names and various emblems, but assign to them stars which identify them with those of the Arabs. (See Le Gentil.)
* Astrology, according to Lucian, was the work of the first kings who existed.
Ricciolus says that it appears from Arab astronomy that it was as old as Adam, and the names preserved by them antediluvian.
That in the earliest ages of mankind God had spoken is shown by the ancient emblems of Egyptian astronomy; for the prophetic annunciation recorded in the book of Genesis, that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, and receive a bruise in His heel, is reflected in them; but in them was also indicated the time when He should come, and receiving the bruise in the heel, be offered as was the Lamb which typified Him, the great atoning sacrifice. In Aries the Lamb, the Ammon of Egypt, it was foreshown that when the sun, the prophetic and scriptural type of Him who, like the sun, was to come, to go away and to return, should come to the spring equinox, at that place in the starry heavens, then the Lamb of God should literally and visibly shed that blood which taketh away sin. God alone, who seeth the end from the beginning, could so appoint the emblematic sacrifice of the Mosaic passover fifteen hundred years beforehand, and gradually and yearly approaching the emblem figured in it, and the star whose ancient and well-known appellation, Al Natik, explained it. In the earliest records of Arab astronomy, before the birth of Christ, that sign was so described, and that star so named. In the darkness of the crucifixion that star would be seen, on the Lamb prefigured by the sign it shone.
Such then was the first sign, the Lamb of sacrifice; when the spring equinox reached that sign, the Lamb of God should be slain, the great atonement completed. The next, also a sacrificial animal, emblematic likewise of dominion, and one of the divinely appointed cherubic forms. The union of the two natures, divine and human, in Him who should come, was figured in the third. The multitudes of His purchased people were represented in the fourth. In the fifth, another of the cherubic forms, His final victory. In the sixth, at the traditional anniversary of the creation of man, the Seed of the woman, the head of the new creation. The work of His redemption in the seventh. In the eighth, the predicted bruising of His heel, above which another of the cherubic forms, the eagle ascending and again descending from heaven. In the ninth, the going forth, conquering and to conquer. In the tenth, giving His life, as a sacrifice for sin. In the eleventh, the man, also a cherubic form, arising, pours forth blessings on His people. In the twelfth, the uniting and supporting the multitudes of His redeemed are shown forth. So was filled up the circle, the chief points of which were distinguished according to the divinely ordained similitudes before the gate of Eden.*
On the first discovery of the planisphere of Dendera, some of the learned of that day, perceiving the great antiquity indicated by the position of the solstice, claimed that antiquity for the temple wherein it was found. But for this there was no foundation. The zodiac according to Ptolemy as sculptured on the Norman porch of St. Margaret's Church at York, and also in Canterbury Cathedral, does not thus indicate that the buildings were as ancient as that zodiac.
* Richer, a recent French writer, has repeatedly said, that in the constellations might be traced the whole primitive revelation; but beyond the woman, the seed, and the serpent, he did not attempt to explain them. Roberts, an English Clergyman, wrote "Letters to Volney," in which he laid down the same principle, but went much further, tracing the bruising of the serpent's head in Scorpio. G. S. Faber also has said, wherever the figure of a man occurs in the sphere, it represents the Messiah, and recognized the serpent as subdued by Him. Still none of these perceived that the whole sphere was a system of symbolized prophecy, nor had the present writer seen their works till far more than they recognized had been deciphered.
The zodiacs of Dendera and of Esne contain internal marks of the utmost antiquity in their common origin, apparently referring to a time when the winter solstice, 4000 BC, was quitting Pisces to enter Aquarius. In the signs, the fish, inhabitants of the deep, are followed by the streams of water in Aquarius, and those by the figure half-fish, half-quadruped, to which the solstice had receded in the time of Ptolemy. The figure in the Dendera zodiac over the junction of the kid and fish in Capricorn, might be inserted to show that at the time of the building of that temple the solstice had arrived there; but the headless horse (as other headless figures, a well-known emblem of the ascending node) marks that the place where the sun began to re-ascend had previously been where Pisces joined with Aquarius. That the summer solstice was then in Leo is indicated by the figure under the lion pouring out water from two vases, as representing the inundation of the Nile, always commencing at the summer solstice, and thus perhaps figuring two sources of the Nile.
The Egyptian astronomers have always represented the serpent-enemy in a state of humiliation, except it be in Scorpio. The dragon enveloping the pole, so well known from China to Scandinavia, they superseded by the emblems of Him who was to come, the seed, the enthroned conqueror. In the planisphere of Dendera this will be seen.
In Aries the conqueror is twice typified. In Cetus the head of the enemy is under the foot of "Him who cometh." In Perseus He is named the enemy or conqueror of the serpent.
In Taurus He comes in triumph, and treads under foot His enemy.
In Gemini they have typified the two natures, divine and human, by a youth with divine attributes leading a feminine form, expressing the human nature, including male and female.
In Scorpio, the scorpion is of a most disproportionate size, perhaps to make him a fitting antagonist of the conqueror.
In Cancer the passing of the summer solstice, from Leo in which tradition recorded its earlier position, is denoted by the revered Egyptian emblem of the sun, the sacred Scarabaeus, from which figure the Greeks derived that of the crab, both creatures holding fast their young, their "possession."
In Leo, no alteration is seen; in each sphere the victor-lion has his foot on the serpent-enemy.
In Virgo, the woman of prophecy bears the seed, the ear of corn; below, the human mother holds the infant, showing forth "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given."
In Libra, a youth with the finger pointing to the lip emblematizes "He shall bruise and be bruised."*
In Sagittarius, the Divine and kingly conqueror rides in triumph. Under the horse's foot there appears to be the serpent.
* hp#, the lip; Pw#, to bruise.
In Capricornus, the victor is the victim, but is named the conqueror of the serpent.
In Aquarius, He pours forth the water of life on the fish, emblem of His people, and there is said "He returneth from afar."
In Pisces, the two fishes united by a band are held by a female figure, called as in Aries, the appointed. It is remarkable that the hieroglyphic name of Set, the appointed, should thus be given both to the first and to the last of the decans, to the lamb and to the woman.
The authority of Holy Scripture is established by the fulfillment of the prophecies it contains. That fulfillment is proved by history, those prophecies are emblematized in this planisphere.
That the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head, and it should bruise His heel, is the foundation on which is constructed the whole of this delineation of the starry heavens, with those of the Indians, Persians, Arabs, or, as in fact these all are, the Chaldean. Abraham was a Chaldean, and traditional history has said a great astronomer. Chaldean astronomy is continually appealed to as the original of the science. It has been supposed that Melchisedek, the righteous king, was Shem in person, who must have known all that Noah knew on the subject, and Noah must have known what Adam, Seth, and Enoch are traditionally said to have established as to the names and positions of the stars. But with the Chaldean astronomy, which is in fact ours, the Egyptian does not always agree. The Egyptians had derived their science from Noah before Abraham came among them, and in this planisphere we have the record of it. The number and purport of the emblems are the same, and similar meanings are traceable in their names by the aid of the roots preserved in the Hebrew Scriptures. In the subsequent tables, the names that have been obtained are so explained, and references given to the parts of the Hebrew Scriptures where the Noetic roots are used in the sense here given to them.
It has been well observed in an essay on the antiquities of Egypt, that the number of coincidences, separately perhaps of little importance, gives them weight and value in the aggregate. This remark introduces evidence giving much support to the foregoing explanations. A small edifice was attached to every Egyptian temple, the entrance to which was through the sanctuary. It was called "the birth-place": in it are found reliefs and paintings representing the birth of the third person of the triad of divinities to whom the temple is dedicated. This triad is of father, mother, and son. They are sometimes figured with the countenances of the Pharaoh who erected the temple, his queen, and son, as in the temple at Harmonthis, which is said to represent the birth of the god Harphre (meaning He who cometh, the offspring), and also of Ptolemy Caesarion, son of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra. The great hope and end which this superstition held forth to its votaries, as the consummation of their religion, was the birth of a god. When we compare these newly recovered evidences with the assertion of the ancient writers on Egypt, that the Egyptian priests copied the figures of their divinities from the constellations, the proofs of the reference of these emblems to the coming of the Redeemer are much corroborated.
In the same work it is shown that the assertions of Dupuis and others, of the great antiquity of the temples of Dendera and Esne, are confuted by inscriptions bearing the name and date of Augustus Caesar. These assertions were founded on marks of antiquity in the place of the equinox in the zodiac. The figures of the zodiacs may be ancient, though that identical carving of them might be recent, as in the almanacks of our own time, the sun, moon, and planets are designated by marks of the greatest antiquity, the sun in particular by the very Egyptian hieroglyphic now so deciphered in the most ancient inscriptions. So no one disputes that the figures of the twelve signs on modern celestial globes are at least as old as Hipparchus and Ptolemy, though that globe is of recent construction. The greater antiquity of the original from which this planisphere must have been taken may be seen from the summer solstice, as has been previously shown, denoted by the inundation of the Nile, being shown as under Leo, in accordance with the ancient tradition that once it was there, and also by the headless figure, the well-known Indian mark of the ascending node, being more immediately over Aquarius, where the winter solstice had been, as in China, previously observed. That antiquity belongs to its first formation, and in no way to the date of the erection of the temple. Some later emblems may have been introduced, as those modern ones of Flamstead among the constellations described by Ptolemy. Or as the representations of the zodiac in the Cathedral of Canterbury, and on the porch at St. Margaret's at York, have no reference to the time of the construction of those buildings (the Saxon or Norman architect was not astronomer enough to decipher the age of those figures, nor did he intend by the use of them to give the date of his building, to which they have never been supposed to have the slightest reference); so the Greek, Roman, or Egyptian architect of the temple used these ancient emblems to give a religious sanction to his erection, but with no purpose of exalting its claim to antiquity by their adoption. Their cotemporaries understood not, but they worshiped. Unhappily these records had become instruments of idolatry, as man has too often perverted well-intended memorials to evil purposes.
All authorities, ancient and modern, agree in attributing the origin of the science of astronomy to Chaldea, to "Chaldean shepherds." When Babylon (Isa 13:19), the chief city of Chaldea, was taken by Alexander, records were there found of observations of astronomical phenomena referring back nineteen hundred years, two thousand years and more before the Christian era, thus remounting nearly to the date of the confusion of tongues, of which Babylon was the scene and centre. At that time, about 2000 BC, the summer solstice had receded from Leo, its earliest recorded position, into Cancer. This position of the solstice is indicated in this and the other zodiacs, as may be seen by the figure of the Scarabaeus, afterwards corrupted into that of the Crab, where Leo terminates and the following sign or division of the zodiac commences. Any earlier position of the solstice would indicate observations in antediluvian times, and possibly transmitted by Noah. But no Egyptian monument yet found is without the Scarabaeus in the sign Cancer, though in the planisphere of Dendera the summer solstice, once in Leo, is commemorated by the pouring out of water, as in the inundation of the Nile.*
* The "ancients" referred to are not those treated of in Sir G. C. Lewis' work "On the Astronomy of the Ancients," the early Greeks and Romans, but their remote ancestors the Chaldees, Assyrians, and Egyptians.
A memorial of the position of the summer solstice, consistent with the dates usually assigned to the creation of Adam, will, however, be seen in all three of the zodiacs here figured.
* In an earlier enumeration of the signs, in Genesis 49, there is no trace of Scarabaeus or Crab; but an allusion to the primitive roots of the word Cancer (Kan, cattle, Kir, gained) exists in the yet extant names, the Asselli, asses or cattle, in this position.
In the circular one, the planisphere of Dendera, under Leo is a female figure with vases, as of the pouring out of water. When the solstice took place in Leo, the inundation of the Nile there commenced, and that annual phenomenon of nature has followed and will follow the recession of the solstice while sun and earth endure in their present relations. An earlier winter solstice than that in Capricorn is indicated by the headless horse, the emblem of the ascending node of the solar circuit, being placed over Aquarius. A hawk-headed figure, considered to symbolize the sun, over Capricorn, has been explained as marking that the sun at the winter solstice was there, as it would be when the summer solstice was in Cancer; but in this zodiac it stands in the centre of the sign, where the body of the fish joins the fore-part of the kid, and may have a different signification.
Representations of the twelve signs of the zodiac, such as here given in the planisphere of Dendera, are found on many other ancient monuments of Egypt, and in the oldest records of the Brahmins. Wherever there is any tradition as to their invention, it is attributed to the first fathers of mankind, and where a name is mentioned it is Seth, Soth, or Thoth; among the ancient Persians, Adam and Enoch being also named. In Egypt the twelve signs had each a temple where they were worshiped. Many of the tribes of Arabia, some earlier, some later than Ishmael, took one of the stars for their distinguishing emblem. One tribe is still called Beni Sohail, the sons of Sohail, or Canopus.
From Noah the earlier tribes, from Abraham the later ones, had heard of the promised Messiah (Soheil, the Desired); to Him therefore the homage was originally paid, which afterwards was corrupted into the first form of idolatry, Sabianism, or the worship of the host of heaven.
Other nations speedily sunk into a coarser kind of idolatrous worship, the living creatures whose figures are to be found in the twelve signs being those every where adopted as idols. The stories told of these false gods may be traced to the forms and the most ancient of the names of the constellations, thus showing that originally they had some reference to religion, the first universal religion of mankind, the revelation to Adam and Enoch. Every where we find among the traditions of the nations, that a Son of God, Himself a God, should come, should be the friend of the human race, should suffer, and should die, and should rise again to heavenly glory.
Such were the stories of Hercules among the Greeks and Romans, of Osiris and Hours among the Egyptians, and Krishna among the Brahmins. Balder, the benign son of Odin, beloved of all, yet doomed to die, among our northern ancestors, and the Mexican deity born of a woman, are again remarkable instances of the same fact.*
Sir William Jones has pointed out that the most ancient nations, in the earliest periods of their history, were acquainted with astronomy, which he considers they received from Noah and his descendants; but their traditions, though often referring to Noah and the deluge, still attribute the invention of astronomy to one who lived before him, to whom they frequently give the name of Seth, Soth, or Thoth.
* The names of these false gods of the heathens bear testimony to their origin. Hercules means, in the Oriental dialects, He who cometh to labour and to suffer; Osiris, the prince or ruler; Hours, He who cometh forth as light; Krishna, the sun.
The worship of the sun might have begun from his glorious appearance and usefulness to man; but we cannot so account for the worship of the twelve signs, which are none of them such remarkable constellations as Orion and the bear, for in some of them there is not even one bright star. But if all the children of Noah had been taught the names and the meaning of the emblems, this would account for the same early astronomy, and the same early religion being found every where. Wherever they went they saw the same stars, which reminded them of the promise to Adam, and of the other prophecies which were given by Enoch.
Though these wandering tribes had traditions of the deluge, there is not among the starry emblems any reference to it. The water in Aquarius is poured out by a human figure from an urn, and is received into the mouth of a fish; that of Eridanus passes under the figure of the sea-monster, called Cetus, but not like the deluge among and over the creatures of the earth. Argo has been thought to refer to Noah's ark, but as Noah's vessel was called Thebah, the name cannot be so derived; and as the other names in that constellation mean the desired, the seed, the branch, and the possession of Him that cometh, some other meaning must have originally belonged to it. One name, Sephina,* means a multitude; but a word very like it is applied to a ship, and thus may have originated the interpretation of Argo as a ship. There is no reference in any of the starry emblems to the prophecy of Noah, so wonderfully fulfilled, and still fulfilling, as to the future destiny of his three sons; none to the drowning of the human race, or the rainbow. Consequently it would appear that they were invented before the flood, even if the traditions of the nations had not told us that they were so.
From the first beginning of idolatry, in the foundation of Babylon by Nimrod, horoscopes were drawn. Every one is born when the sun seems to be passing through some one of the twelve signs; and according to the purport of that sign, along with the places of the planets, and other circumstances, was predicted what should happen to that person. All the signs which show the humiliation, the sufferings, and the death of the promised seed of the woman, were said to have an unlucky effect; while those that show His second coming in glory were reckoned fortunate. So taught the science of astrology, still referred to in old-fashioned almanacks.
* (p#, Heb. and Syr., hnyps, Arab., Job 1:5 (once), whence our word ship.
"According to the Cabalists, the ancient Hebrews represented the stars severally and collectively by the letters of the Alphabet; to read the stars, therefore, was more than a metaphorical expression with them. And an astral alphabet for genethliacal purposes was published near the close of the fifteenth century, at Cracow, by Rabbi Kapol Ben Samuel, in a work entitled 'The Profundity of Profundities.'
"But as this would rest upon an insecure foundation,for who could be assured that the alphabet had been accurately made out?it has been argued that the heavens are repeatedly in the Scriptures called a book, whence it is to be inferred that they contain legible characters; that the first verse of the first chapter of Genesis ought to be translated 'In the beginning God created the letter or character of the heavens,' and that in the nineteenth Psalm we should read 'their line' instead of 'their sound has gone forth into all lands,' this referring to their arrangement in the firmament like letters upon a roll of parchment. Jews, Platonists, and Fathers of the Church, are shown to have believed in this celestial writing. And there can be no question but that both the language and the characters must be Hebrew, that being the original speech, and those the original characters, and both divinely communicated to man, not of human invention. But single stars are not to be read as letters, as in the astral alphabet. This may be a convenient mode of noting them in astronomical observations; the elements of this celestial science are more recondite in proportion as the science itself is more mysterious. An understanding eye may distinguish that the stars in their groups form Hebrew letters, instead of those imaginary shapes which are called the signs of the zodiac. But as the stars appear to us only as dots of light, much skill and sagacity are required for discovering how they combine into the complex forms of the Hebrew alphabet. The astral scholar reads them as antiquaries have made out inscriptions upon Roman buildings, by the marks of the nails, when the letters themselves had been torn away by rapacious hands for the sake of the metal. Indeed it is not unlikely that the Abbe Barthelemi took the hint from the curiously credulous work of his countryman Gaffarel, who has given examples of this celestial writing from the Rabbis Kapol, Chomer, and Abindan. In these examples the stars are represented by white spots upon the black lines of the Hebrew letter. The Abbe, when he writes upon this subject to Count Caylus, seems not to have known that Peiresc had restored ancient inscriptions by the same means; if, however, he followed the example of Peiresc without choosing to mention his name, that omni-erudite man himself is likely to have seen the books from whence Gaffarel derived his knowledge." (The Doctor, vol. iii. page 208.)
"In Egypt every month was supposed to be under the care of three Decans,* or directors, for the import of the word must be found in the neighbouring language of the Hebrews and Syrians. There were thirty-six of these, each superintending ten days; and these decans were believed to exercise the most extensive influence over the human frame. Astrological squares calculated upon this mythology are still in existence. St. Jerome called it the opprobrium of Egypt." (Ibid., page 115.)
"Professor Mitchell in his lectures on astronomy, said that not long since, he had met in the city of St. Louis, in Missouri, a man of great scientific attainments, who for 40 years had been engaged in Egypt deciphering the hieroglyphics of the ancients. This gentleman stated to him that he had lately unravelled the inscriptions on the coffin of a mummy, now in the British Museum, and that by the aid of previous observation, he had discovered the key to all the astronomical knowledge of the Egyptians. The Zodiac, with the exact position of the planets, was delineated on the coffin, and the date to which they pointed was the autumnal equinox in the year BC 1722, or nearly 4000 years ago. Professor Mitchell employed his assistants to ascertain the exact position of the heavenly bodies belonging to our solar system on the equinox of that year, 1722 BC, and sent him a correct diagram of them, without having communicated his object in so doing; the calculations were made, and to his astonishment, on comparing the result with the statements of his scientific friend already referred to, it was found that on the 7th October, 1722 BC, the moon and planets had occupied the exact positions in the heavens marked upon the coffin in the British Museum."* (Times, December 31, 1859.)
* Decan, the name there given to the Constellations, referred to a Semitic or Noetic root, from hkd, to break, means divisions.
Mr. Tudor in his work on Egyptian history refers to an ancient zodiac in which the autumnal equinox is placed so as to refer to 1743 BC.
* On such a coffin in the British Museum may be seen the twelve signs, and their resemblance to those on the Dendera zodiac observed.
|Names of Chaldee Months, with the Signs under which they occurred about BC 1743|
|Capricornus||December||Tebeth, tb+||(Chaldee) to swell, as floods, &c.|
|Pisces||January||Schebat, xb#||(Chaldee or Persic) turning, as the new year|
|Aries||February||Adar, rd)||(Chaldee) brightening|
|Taurus||March||Nisan, N#n||second or reduplicate, being the thirteenth month in every second year, by which the Jewish passover, &c., were kept right|
|Cancer||May||Sivan, N#||(Chaldee) heat|
|Leo||June||Tammuz, zmt||completion, of the length of the day|
|Virgo||July||Ab, b)||going away|
Tisri, r# (t)
ruling, the first, or ruling month. Jewish new year, supposed to be the anniversary of the creation of Adam
|Scorpio||October||Marchesvan, Nwcxrm||by Chaldee change of c, wet, rainy, into (|
|Sagittarius||November||Chisleu or Kisleu wlsk||cold, or frosty, hard|
|Capricornus||December||Tebeth, (as above), tb+||floods|
Astrology is man's corruption of astronomy, as idolatry is man's corruption of religion: both originated from the truths they perverted, and testify to the beauty and reality of that which they distort.
If God had led Abraham forth to look for instruction to the stars of heaven, man knelt and worshiped them. If divine truths were set forth in the forms of the cherubim, man made an imperfect copy in gold of one of them, and cried, "These are your Elohim, O Israel" (see Part II, On The Cherubic Forms, &c.).
If Adam, Seth, and Enoch had desired to impress on the memories of their descendants the promise that had been as life from the dead to themselves, by the names they annexed to the lights placed in heaven for signs as well as for seasons, too many of those descendants would attempt to turn the prophetic emblems in heaven of the sufferings and triumphs of the Messiah into foreshadowings of their own destinies on earth. If the stars foretell of Him, said they, why not of us? And accordingly those signs that figured His future glories they held to promise good to themselves; those that figured His sufferings, calamity. There seemed one link between those far-off luminaries and themselves: each had been born when the sun's place was with some of them. That link they seized, and distributed their predictions accordingly. Thus from those signs foreshowing the triumphant reign of the Messiah they anticipated good to the persons born under them; from those which indicate His sufferings they predicted evil.
Aben Ezra, a learned Jew who wrote much concerning the stars in the thirteenth century, records that the ancient Jews called one of the constellations the Shepherd, and another the head of Satan, or the evil one; and Albumazer, an Arabian astronomer in the ninth century, has said that the Virgin held in her arms an infant, called by a name having a meaning which the Hebrews understood of the Messiah, and the Christians of Christ.* On such authority may we not look to the starry heavens as indeed "declaring the glory of God?"
Astrology affords a remarkable evidence of the meanings anciently given to the twelve signs, and of the importance of which those meanings were considered to be to mankind. But in modern times people are said to be born under one sign, while in reality they are born under another, because the sun is now seen among different stars at the equinoxes, and consequently in all other months, from what he was when the globes and maps that modern astrologers use were first made.* Therefore all now said must be wrong, calling a person born under Aries, who really was born when the sun was to be seen among the stars of Pisces,two signs to which astrologers give very different meanings.** This kind of fortune-telling is spoken of in the Bible (Isa 47:13; Deut 10:10) as false, and to be punished. It was much cultivated among the Egyptians, and it has been said that among the figures of the planisphere of Dendera may be traced the horoscope of Cesarion, the son of Cleopatra. If this were so, it could not affect the high antiquity attributed from the positions of the solstices, to this zodiac.
* See Part II, Virgo, &c.
It must be kept in mind that these emblems only representations, the human figure no more representing the person of Christ than the figures of the eagle or lion. By confounding the action with the figure used to express it, the first step to idolatry seems to have been taken. It will be seen that the names of the emblems and of the named stars always express an action, foretold to be performed by the seed of the woman, or His enemy;* an action, not a person.**
* The Penny Cyclopaedia, on astronomy, says, "Astrologers do not allow for the precession of the equinoxes, their Aries being the first thirty degrees of the ecliptic, not the constellation."
** Aries they call a fiery, Pisces a watery sign, and predict accordingly.
* "Aphophis, or Apop, is the name given to the serpent, of which Hours is the destroyer. The destruction of the serpent by the god, who standing in a boat,* pierces its head with a spear, forms a frequent subject on the monuments." "So the Scandinavian Thor with his mace bruises the head of the great serpent." "So Apollo, four days after his birth, slew the serpent Python, the enemy of his mother." "In the Persian traditions and in the Zendavesta, there is a God-given conqueror sent to destroy a mighty serpent. The same hero appears in the Vedas as a divine being, and is named Trita." D. M'Donald. Is Trita "one of the Three?" from the Persian it might be.* Boat, which cometh, t)r.** These actions are expressed in the names in the sense which they bear in Hebrew and Arabic. We have received them through the Arabs, whose language has undergone great changes: still by referring to the most ancient and simplest words in Arabic lexicons the same meaning will be found which is here given by referring to the places in the Hebrew Bible where the words are so used, and almost always so translated in the English version. The Hebrew has undergone no change, though some extension, from the first chapter of Genesis to the end of Malachi, consequently the reference to the Hebrew is not only the most feasible, but the most satisfactory. By a reference to Lee's Hebrew Lexicon and many others, it will be seen that the same root exists in both these languages, originally derived from Noah, and probably through Abraham, by his two sons Ishmael and Isaac, from whom descended the Hebrews and many of the Arab tribes. In what is now known of the ancient Egyptian dialect the same Noetic roots are traceable, as will be perceived in the meanings thus attached to the Egyptian names of the decans, which when explained by the cognate Hebrew roots are referable to the same prophetic import which their figures convey.
"They (the Decans) are personified stellar influences, and classed with krataioi hgemoneV of the Greek authors, who mention them in explaining Egyptian star-lore. As such they answer to ounastaV, i.e. personified powers. They were thirty-six in number and extra-zodiacal so far, that in the Egyptian planisphere they formed an outer circle to the signs of the zodiac, above each of which three were placed, and each again divided into two parts of five degrees, making up the three hundred and sixty. They had a strong astrological element, more so than the planets generally; but though their names are known, on what principle they were combined is not known. Cassiopeia was certainly supposed by the Egyptians to have a remarkable virtue (Coleridge's Wallenstein)." (C. H. Cottrell).
Since this was written, most of the names of the Decans have been read, and are explained from the Hebrew, on the accompanying planisphere (see next section: Mizraim; or, Astronomy of Egypt). When words written in hieroglyphics are rendered into Hebrew characters, they contain Hebrew, or rather Noetic roots, having the consistent meaning and application. This is first traced in the still extant, but ancient Coptic names of the Twelve Signs, and afterwards in those most ancient and only lately ascertained names of the thirty-six Decans, or accompanying constellations. By the planisphere it will be seen that the figures of these constellations, if some at first appear to differ, are all reconcilable with the acknowledged import of those of the Chaldean or Shemite astronomy, and indicated in these recently discovered appellations.
Previous | Contents | Next
Notes on Revelation | Judeo-Christian Research