Biblical Astronomy: The Hebrew Mazzaroth
This page is my little introduction to some resources on Biblical astronomy. This is not to be confused with astrology, which is the study that assumes and attempts to interpret the influence of the heavenly bodies on human affairs. Biblical astronomy recognizes that God created the heavens and they are for signs to us. They are also the origin of our marking of time.
Most people today have grown up with the names of the 12 signs of the Zodiac as their only education on the naming of stars and constellations. In reality, the names remain the same today as ancient cultures called them before the flood. In fact each name carries a meaning that, when put together in the constellation, tells a story. Curious what that story is? Read on...
There’s some truly amazing “coincidences” that happen in the stars. In reality, I don’t believe in coincidences like these. I would recommend a background understanding of the Hebrew Mazzaroth. Chuck Missler has a great mp3 download for $7.95 called Signs in the Heavens where he goes over some of these ancient constellations that spell out the plan of salvation in the stars starting with what we call Virgo (representing the virgin birth of the Messiah) and end with Leo (the Lion of the tribe of Judah).
by Lyuben Piperov: Sofia, Bulgaria (June 2001)
The Lord Jesus said that in the time of the end there will be a sign in the sky, “the sign of the Son of man in heaven” (Matthew 24:30), the Greek word translated ‘heaven’ here being used both for the abode of God and the celestial firmament. There are two ways of interpreting such prophecies, the figurative/metaphorical way and the literal/physical way. In the last few centuries more attention has been paid to the former method than to the latter, but I would like to share with readers a recent discovery I have made of a literal fulfillment of the prophecy.
The link between the Lord Jesus and the fish is well known. In the Gospels we read that some of the disciples of Jesus were fishermen, that Jesus fed thousands of hungry people with bread and fish miraculously multiplied, and that he caused large numbers of fish to be caught by miraculous means. Later the fish became a symbol of Christianity, because in Greek the initial letters of the statement ‘Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior’ make the Greek word for fish. There is a remarkable astronomical link with this fact, which we will now explore.
The constellations are arbitrarily divided areas of the sky in which are stars that may be quite different from each other in brightness, spectral class and distance from the earth. There are eighty-eight of them today. Some were named by Europeans less than 500 years ago during expeditions into the southern hemisphere. The twelve constellations of the Zodiac, through which the sun makes its annual course (as it appears to us), have long been identified as such, the identification of some constellations being traceable back to the Babylonians or even to more ancient Near East civilizations. The constellation known as Pisces has been known as such since the first century A.D., and, together with Venus as the Bright Morning Star, played a major role in East Mediterranean astrology.1
During the era of the great geographical discoveries, when the oceans were widely explored, there arose a need for a unified method of naming stars, the only navigational aids in the open seas. The German astronomer Johannes Bayer (1572-1625) introduced, in his 1603 stellar atlas Uranometria Nova, the practice of designating the brightest stars in the constellations by the letters of the Greek alphabet. Today it is not the only method of denoting stars, but, apart from the individual names given to the brightest stars, it is the most convenient one.
Usually the brightest star in a constellation is designated alpha (α), the first letter in the Greek alphabet, but this is not so in the case of the constellation Pisces. Here the star designated omega (ω), the last letter of the Greek alphabet, is slightly brighter than alpha and much brighter than the star beta (β), the second letter. It is in fact the third brightest star, after eta (η) and gamma (γ), among the approximately seventy-five stars in Pisces visible to the naked eye. The reason for this change from the normal way of designating stars in a constellation remains a puzzle.
At this point, let me remind you of what the Lord Jesus says of himself in the book of Revelation: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Revelation 22:13; cf. Revelation 1:8,17; Revelation 2:8; Revelation 21:6). In the same chapter he refers to himself as “the bright and morning star” (Revelation 22:16).
At present the sun is in Pisces at the time of the vernal (spring) equinox.2 However, due to a slight wobbling of the earth on its axis, the position of the sun within the twelve constellations of the Zodiac gradually moves backwards over the years, the whole process being calculated as taking 26,000 years before it is back in the same position again.3 As there are twelve Zodiac constellations, this means that the sun remains in a particular constellation of the Zodiac at the time of the spring equinox for just over 2,000 years. The sun moved into the constellation of Pisces, the Fishes—representative, as shown above, of the Lord Jesus Christ—shortly before his birth, and is calculated to leave Pisces and enter Aquarius, the Water Carrier, in the next 100 years. The present age is therefore sometimes referred to as the Age of Pisces.
We now need to consider the concept of the meridian. This is an imaginary line running from the horizon due north of an observer through the heavens to the horizon due south of an observer. The meridian at the vernal equinox is called the zero meridian, and it runs through the constellation of Pisces in which the sun is situated. At the time of the birth of Jesus Christ the nearest visible star in Pisces to the zero meridian would have been that designated alpha (α). However, due to the slow movement of the sun through the Zodiac, mentioned above (the precession of the equinoxes), the nearest star in Pisces to the zero meridian, in fact the nearest of all the 1,800 brightest stars as listed in a star catalogue, is now that designated omega (ω). It is calculated that it will be exactly on the zero meridian early in 2012.
It is surely significant that, in the constellation with a name that is particularly identified with the Lord Jesus, a star designated alpha by astronomers was closest to the zero meridian at the time of His birth, and a star designated omega is closest to the zero meridian at the time when we expect him to return. This is especially so when, as explained above, astronomers have departed from their normal convention and designated one of the brightest stars in the constellation omega.
But there is more. I mentioned above the fact that the planet Venus was referred to as the Bright Morning Star by the ancients,4 a title used of the Lord Jesus in Revelation 22, in close proximity to the reference to him as “Alpha and Omega”. On 30 March Venus became the ‘Morning Star’ and will remain so till the end of 2001. Moreover, for the period 24 January to 10 June (137 days) it was situated in the constellation of Pisces, a rare astronomical event. Such a long sojourn in one constellation was only possible because, instead of moving straight on through the heavens, the path of Venus in our skies performed a loop within the constellation of Pisces. Also, on 11 and 12 April Venus passed very close to the star omega (ω) in Pisces, probably the closest for millennia.
Whatever might be the figurative application of Matthew 24:30, these remarkable astronomical phenomena surely provide a literal fulfillment of “the sign of the Son of man in heaven”, and warn us that the day of his return is near.
The First Book. The Redeemer. “The sufferings of Christ.”
The Hebrew Mazzeroth By Chuck Missler
In the Torah, we are told that astrology is not simply a superstition, but a capital crime - punishable by death! Many people tend to get astronomy and astrology mixed up, however no astronomer takes astrology seriously, there is simply no feasible basis for it. For example, a French statistician sent the horoscope for one of the worst mass-murderer’s in history to 150 people and asked how well it fit them, 94% thought they recognized themselves in the description. An Australian researcher reversed the readings of 22 people and 95% identified themselves in those readings. Two astronomers tracked and published predictions of some well-known astrologers and astrological organizations for 5 years, and out of 3000 predictions, only 10% came to pass. Astronomers have posed some rather pointed questions and statements for astrologers to consider:
A number of people scoff at the above Psalm, because it sounds like the Psalmist is saying the sun goes around the earth, and everyone since Copernicus knows that the earth revolves around the sun, and the sun is still. so obviously the Psalmist is a little confused. However that’s myopia on the part of the critic because while we rotate on our axis and revolve around the sun in orbit, the sun appears is on an orbit of it’s own and revolves around our whole galaxy! So it’s interesting to note that the Psalmist is actually so much broader in his horizon that we would have thought possible - particularly in the time of David.
The band of stars on both sides of this path which is known toady as the Zodiac is called the Mazzeroth in Hebrew. The names of these stars, Virgo, Pisces, Capricorn, Leo etc., are familiar to us today, because they are used by astronomers and navigators to designate various areas of the sky. Sadly they have also been exploited by astrologers for occultic purposes which are so very far from the truth. The 12 signs have nothing to say about man, however they do have a great deal to say about God’s plan of redemption for mankind - from the virgin birth (Virgo) to the triumph of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Leo)!
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Be not overcome
of evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21
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