Introduction | Table of Contents | Chapter 2
The Witness of the Stars
E. W. Bullinger
The First Book
(His First Coming)
"The sufferings of Christ"
The First Book is occupied with the PERSON of the Coming
One. It covers the whole ground, and includes the conflict and the victory of the Promised
Seed, but with special emphasis on His Coming. The book opens with the promise of His
coming, and it closes with the Dragon cast down from heaven.
The Sign Virgo
The Promised Seed of the woman
1. Virgo (the Virgin)
Here is the commencement of all prophecy in Genesis 3:15,
spoken to the serpent: "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy
seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel." This is
the prophetic announcement which the Revelation in the heavens and in the Book is designed
to unfold and develop. It lies at the root of all the ancient traditions and mythologies,
which are simply the perversion and corruption of primitive truth.
VIRGO is represented as a woman with a branch in
her right hand, and some ears of corn in her left hand. Thus giving a two-fold testimony
of the Coming One.
The name of this sign in the Hebrew is Bethulah,
which means a virgin, and in the Arabic a branch. The two words are
connected, as in Latin--Virgo, which means a virgin; and virga, which
means a branch (Vulg. Isa 11:1). Another name is Sunbul, Arabic, an ear
In Genesis 3:15 she is presented only as a woman; but in
later prophecies her nationality is defined as being of the stock of Israel, the seed of
Abraham, the line of David; and, further, she is to be a virgin. There are two prominent
prophecies of her and her seed: one is connected with the first coming in incarnation,
Isaiah 7:14 (quoted in Matthew 1:23).
"Behold, a virgin shall conceive and
bear a son,
And shall call his name Immanuel."
The other is connected with His second coming, leaping
over the sufferings and this present interval of His rejection, and looking forward to His
coming in glory and judgment, Isaiah 9:6, 7 (quoted in Luke 2:11 and 1 :32, 33).
"For unto us a child is born,
Unto us a son is given; *
And the government shall be upon His shoulder;
And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government there shall be no end.
Upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom,
To order it, and to establish it
With judgment and with justice
From henceforth even for ever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this."
* Here, the fact of His humiliation, together
with this long period of His rejection, is leaped over, and the prophecy
passes on at once--over at least a period of 1893 years--to this "glory which should
It is difficult to separate the Virgin and her Seed in the
prophecy; and so, here, we have first the sign VIRGO, where the name points to her as the
prominent subject; while in the first of the three constellations of this sign, where the
woman appears again, the name COMA points to the child as the great subject.
Virgo contains 110 stars, viz., one of the 1st
magnitude, six of the 3rd, ten of the 4th, etc.
ARATUS thus sings of them:
"Beneath Bootes feet the Virgin seek,
Who carries in her hand a glittering spike.
Over her shoulder there revolves a star
In the right wing, superlatively bright;
It rolls beneath the tail, and may compare
With the bright stars that deck the Greater Bear.
Upon her sholder one bright star is borne,
One clasps the circling girdle of her loins,
One at her bending knee; and in her hand
Glitters that bright and golden Ear of Corn.
Thus the brightest star in VIRGO (a) * has an
ancient name, handed down to us in all the star-maps, in which the Hebrew word Tsemech
is preserved. It is called in Arabic Al Zimach, which means the branch. This
star is in the ear of corn which she holds in her left hand. Hence the star has a modern
Latin name, which has almost superseded the ancient one, Spica, which means, an
ear of corn. But this hides the great truth revealed by its name Al Zimach. It
foretold the coming of Him who should bear this name. The same Divine inspiration has, in
the written Word, four times connected it with Him. There are twenty Hebrew words
translated "Branch," but only one of them (Tsemech) is used exclusively
of the Messiah, and this word only four times (Jer 33:15 being only a repetition of Jer
23:5). Each of these further connects Him with one special account of Him, given in the
* The stars are known by Greek letters and
sometimes by numbers, &c. Alpha (a) denotes a star of the first
magnitude; Beta (b), the second, and so on. This plan was originated by Bayer in
his Uranometria, 1603. The star Alpha, as seen in the New Great Equatorial
Telescope recently set up at Greenwich, is now discovered to be really a double
star, though it had hitherto always appeared to be one.
(1) Jeremiah 23:5 --"Behold, the days come, saith the
LORD, That I will raise unto David a righteous BRANCH (i.e., a Son), And a KING shall
reign and prosper." The account of His coming as King is written in the Gospel
according to Matthew, where Jehovah says to Israel, "Behold thy KING." (Zech
9:9; Matt 21:9)
(2) Zechariah 3:8--"Behold I will bring forth my
SERVANT the BRANCH." In the Gospel according to Mark we find the record of Jehovah's
servant and His service, and we hear Jehovah's voice saying, "Behold my
SERVANT." (Isa 42:1)
(3) Zechariah 6:12--"Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts,
saying, Behold the MAN whose name is the BRANCH." In the Gospel according to Luke we
behold Him, presented in "the MAN Christ Jesus."
(4) Isaiah 4:2--"In that day shall the BRANCH of
JEHOVAH be beautiful and glorious." So that this Branch, this Son, is Jehovah
Himself; and as we read the record of John we hear the voice from heaven saying,
"Behold your GOD." (Isa 40:9)
This is the Branch foretold by the star Al Zimach
in the ear of corn.
The star b is called Zavijaveh, which means the
gloriously beautiful, as in Isaiah 4:2. The star e, in the arm bearing the
branch, is called Al Mureddin, which means who shall come down (as in Psa
72:8), or who shall have dominion. It is also known as Vindemiatrix, a
Chaldee word which means the son, or branch, who cometh.
Other names of stars in the sign, are--
Subilah, who carries. (Isa 46:4)
Al Azal, the Branch. (As in Isa 18:5)
Subilon, a spike of corn. (As in Isa 17:5)
The Greeks, ignorant of the Divine origin and teaching of
the sign, represented Virgo as Ceres, with ears of corn in her hand.
In the Zodiac in the Temple of Denderah, in Egypt, about
2000 BC (now in Paris), she is likewise represented with a branch in her hand, but
ignorantly explained by a false religion to represent Isis! Her name is called Aspolia,
which means ears of corn, or the seed, which shows that though the woman is
seen, it is her Seed who is the great subject of the prophecy.
Passing to the three constellations anciently assigned to
the sign VIRGO, we come to what may be compared to three sections of the chapter,
each giving some further detail as to the interpretation of its teaching.
COMA (The Woman and Child)
The desired of all nations
2. Coma (the Desired)
The first constellation in VIRGO explains that this coming
"Branch" will be a child, and that He should be the "Desire of all
The ancient name of this constellation is Comah, the
desired, or the longed for. We have the word used by the Holy Spirit in this
very connection, in Haggai 2:7--"The DESIRE of all nations shall come."
The ancient Zodiacs pictured this constellation as a woman
with a child in her arms. ALBUMAZAR * (or ABU MASHER), an Arabian astronomer of the eighth
century, says, "There arises in the first Decan **, as the Persians, Chaldeans, and
Egyptians, and the two HERMES and ASCALIUS teach, a young woman whose Persian name
denotes a pure virgin, sitting on a throne, nourishing an infant boy (the boy, I
say), having a Hebrew name, by some nations called IHESU, with the signification IEZA,
which in Greek is called CHRISTOS."
* A Latin translation of his work is in the
British Museum Library. He says the Persians understood these signs, but that the Indians
perverted them with inventions.
** The constellations are called Decans.
The word means a part, and is used of the three parts into which each sign is
divided, each of which is occupied by a constellation.
But this picture is not found in any of the modern
maps of the stars. There we find today a woman's wig! It appears that BERENICE, the wife
of EUERGETES (PTOLEMY III), king of Egypt in the third century BC, when her husband once
went on a dangerous expedition, vowed to consecrate her fine head of hair to Venus if he
returned in safety. Her hair, which was hung up in the Temple of Venus, was subsequently
stolen, and to comfort BERENICE, CONON, an astronomer of Alexandria (BC 283-222), gave it
out that Jupiter had taken it and made it a constellation!
This is a good example of how the meaning of other
constellations have been perverted (ignorantly or intentionally). In this case, as in
others, the transition from ancient to more modern languages helped to hide the meaning.
The Hebrew name was COMA (desired). But the Greeks had a word for hair, Co-me.
this again is transferred to the Latin coma, and thus "Coma Berenice"
(The hair of Berenice) comes down to us today as the name of this constellation,
and gives us a woman's wig instead of that Blessed One, "the Desire of all
In this case, however we are able to give absolute proof
that this is a perversion.
The ancient Egyptian name for this constellation was Shes-nu,
the desired son!
The Zodiac in the Temple of Denderah, in Egypt, going back
at least 2000 years BC, has no trace of any hair, but it has the figure of a woman and
Even Shakespeare understood the truth about this
constellation picture, which has been so long covered by modern inventions. In his Titus
Andronicus he speaks of an arrow being shot up to heaven to the "Good boy in
The constellation itself is very remarkable. Others
contain one or two stars of the first or second magnitude, and then a greater or less
variety of lesser stars; but this is peculiar from having no one very bright star, but
contains so many stars of the 4th and 5th magnitudes. It contains 43 stars altogether, ten
being of the 4th magnitude, and the remainder of the 5th, 6th, etc.
It was in all probability the constellation of Coma
in which "the Star of Bethlehem" appeared. There was a traditional prophecy,
well-known in the East, carefully preserved and handed down, that a new star would appear
in this sign when He whom it foretold should be born.
This was, doubtless, referred to in the prophecy of
Balaam, which would thus receive a double fulfilment, first of the literal
"Star," and also of the person to whom it referred. The Lord said by Balaam (Num
"There shall come * a star out of
And a sceptre shall rise out of Israel."
* I.e., come forth (as in the RV). At
is rendered in Genesis 3:24 "There shall come forth a star at or over the inheritance
or possessions of Jacob," thus indicating the locality which would be on the meridian
of this star.
Thomas Hyde, an eminent Orientalist (1636-1703), writing
on the ancient religion of the Persians, quotes from ABULFARAGIUS (an Arab Christian
Historian, 1126-1286), who says that ZOROASTER, or ZERDUSHT, the Persian, was a pupil of
Daniel the Prophet, and that he predicted to the Magians (who were the astronomers of
Persia), that when they should see a new star appear it would notify the birth of a
mysterious child, whom they were to adore. It is further stated in the Zend Avesta
that this new star was to appear in the sign of the Virgin. Some have supposed that this
passage is not genuine. But whether it was interpolated before or after the event, it is
equally good evidence for our purpose here. For if it was written before the event,
it is evidence of the prophetic announcement; and if it was interpolated after
the event it is evidence of the historic fact
The Book of Job shows us how Astronomy flourished in
Idumea; and the Gospel according to Matthew shows that the Persian Magi, as well as
others, were looking for "the Desire of all nations."
New stars have appeared again and again. It was in 125 BC
that a star, so bright as to be seen in the day-time, suddenly appeared. It was this that
caused HIPPARCHUS to draw up his catalogue of stars, which has been handed down to us by
PTOLEMY (150 AD).
This new star would show the latitude, passing at
that time immediately overhead at midnight, every twenty-four hours; while the prophecy
would give the longitude as the land of Jacob. Having these two factors, it would
be only a matter of observation, and easy for the Magi to find the place where it would be
vertical, and thus to locate the very spot of the birth of Him of whom it was the sign,
for they emphatically called it "His Star." There is a beautiful tradition which
relates how, in their difficulty, on their way from Jerusalem to find the actual spot
under the Zenith of this star, these Magi sat down beside David's "Well of
Bethlehem" to refresh themselves. There they saw the star reflected in the clear
water of the well. Hence it is written that "when they saw the star they rejoiced
with exceeding joy," for they knew they were at the very spot and place of His
appearing whence He was to "come forth."
There can be little doubt that it was a new star.
In the first place a new star is no unusual phenomenon. In the second place the tradition
is well supported by ancient Christian writers. One speaks of its "surpassing
brightness." Another (IGNATIUS, Bishop of Antioch, AD 69) says, "At the
appearance of the Lord a star shone forth brighter than all the other stars."
IGNATIUS, doubtless, had this from those who had actually seen it! PRUDENTIUS (4th century
AD) says that not even the morning star was so fair. Archbishop TRENCH, who quotes these
authorities, says "This star, I conceive, as so many ancients and moderns have done,
to have been a new star in the heavens."
One step more places this new star in the constellation of
COMA, and with new force makes it indeed "His star"--the "Sign" of His
"coming forth from Bethlehem." will it be "the sign of the Son of Man in
heaven" (Matt 24:30) when He shall "come unto" this world again to complete
the wondrous prophecies written of Him in the heavenly and earthly Revelations? *
* It ought also to be noted that in the
preceding year there were three conjunctions of the planets Jupiter and Saturn, at the end
of May and October, and at the beginning of December. Kepler (1571-1631) was the first to
point this out, and his calculations have been confirmed by the highest authorities. These
conjunctions occurred in the sign of PISCES: and this sign, according to all the ancient
Jewish authorities (Josephus, Abarbanel, Eliezer, and others), has special reference to Israel.
The conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, they hold, always marked the occurrence of some
even favourable to Israel; while Kepler, calculating backwards, found that this
astronomical phenomenon always coincided with some great historical crisis, viz.: the
Revelation to Adam, the birth of Enoch, the Revelation to Noah, the birth of Moses, the
birth of Cyrus, the birth of Christ, the birth of Charlemagne, and the birth of Luther.
Thus does the constellation of COMA reveal that the coming
"Seed of the woman" was to be a child born, a son given.
But He was to be more: He was to be God and man--two
natures in one person! This is the lesson of the next picture.
2. CENTAURUS (The Centaur)
The despised sin-offering
3. Centaurus (the Centaur)
It is the figure of a being with two natures. Jamieson, in
his Celestial Atlas, 1822, says, "On the authority of the most accomplished
Orientalist of our own times, the Arabic and Chaldaic name of this constellation is Bezeh."
Now this Hebrew word Bezeh (and the Arabic Al Beze) means the despised.
It is the very word used of this Divine sufferer in Isaiah 53:3, "He is DESPISED and
rejected of men."
The constellation contains thirty-five stars. Two of the
1st magnitude, one of the 2nd, six of the 3rd, nine of the 4th, etc., which, together with
the four bright stars in the CROSS make a brilliant show in southern latitudes.
The brightest star, a (in the horse's fore-foot),
has come down to us with the ancient name of Toliman, which means the heretofore
and hereafter, marking Him as the one "which is, and which was, and which is to
come--the Almighty" (Rev 1:8). Sir John Herschell observed this star to be growing
rapidly brighter. It may be, therefore, one of the changeable stars, and its name may be
taken as an indication of the fact that it was known to the ancients.
Another name for the constellation was in Hebrew, Asmeath,
which means a sin-offering (as in Isaiah 53:10).
The Greek name was Cheiron, which means the
pierced, or who pierces. In the Greek fables Cheiron was renowned for
his skill in hunting, medicine, music, athletics, and prophecy. All the most distinguished
heroes of Greece are described as his pupils. He was supposed to be immortal, but he
voluntarily agreed to die; and, wounded by a poisoned arrow (not intended for him) while
in conflict with a wild boar, he transferred his immortality to Prometheus; whereupon he
was placed amongst the stars.
We can easily see how this fable is the ignorant
perversion of the primitive Revelation. The true tradition can be seen dimly through it,
and we can discern Him of whom it spoke,--the all-wise, all-powerful Teacher and Prophet,
who "went about doing good," yet "despised and rejected of men,"
laying down His life that others might live.
It is one of the lowest of the constellations, i.e. the
farthest south from the northern centre. It is situated immediately over the CROSS, which
bespeaks His own death; He is seen in the act of destroying the enemy.
Thus these star-pictures tell us that it would be as a child
that the Promised Seed should come forth and grow and wax strong in spirit and be
filled with wisdom (Luke 2:40); and that as a man having two natures He should suffer and
die. Then the third and last section in this first chapter of this First Book goes on to
tell of His second coming in glory.
BOOTES (The Coming One)
4. Bootes (the Coming One)
This constellation still further develops this wondrous
He is pictured as a man walking rapidly, with a spear in
his right hand and a sickle in his left hand.
The Greeks called him Bo-o-tes, which is from the
Hebrew root Bo (to come), meaning the coming. It is referred to in
"For He cometh,
For He cometh to judge the earth;
He shall judge the world in righteousness,
And the people with His truth."
It is probable that his ancient name was Arcturus *
(as referred to in Job 9:9), for this is the name of the brightest star, a (in the
left knee). Arcturus means He cometh. **
* The ancient name could not have been Bootes!
though it is derived from, and may be a reminiscence of the Hebrew.
** ARATUS calls him Arctophylax, i.e., the guardian
of Arctos, the flock of the greater fold, called today the Great Bear:
"Behind, and seeming to urge on the
Arctophylax, on earth Bootes named,
Sheds o'er the Arctic car his silver light."
By some moderns he is mistakenly called The Waggoner.
Hence the allusion of Thompson:
"Wide o'er the spacious regions of the
Bootes urges on his tardy wain."