Witness of the Stars
For more than two thousand five hundred years the world was without a written revelation from God. The question is, Did God leave Himself without a witness? The question is answered very positively by the written Word that He did not. In Romans 1:19 it is declared that, "that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse." But how was God known? How were His "invisible things," i.e., His plans, His purposes, and His counsels, known since the creation of the world? We are told by the Holy Spirit in Romans 10:18. Having stated in v. 17 that "Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word (the thing spoken, sayings) of God," He asks, "But I say, Have they not heard? Yes, verily." And we may ask, How have they heard? The answer follows--"Their sound went into all the earth and their words (their teaching, message, instruction) unto the ends of the world." What words? What instruction? Whose message? Whose teaching? There is only one answer, and that is, THE HEAVENS! This is settled by the fact that the passage is quoted from Psalm 19, [one] part of which is occupied with the Revelation of God written in the Heavens, and the part with the Revelation of God written in the Word.
This is the simple explanation of this beautiful Psalm. This is why its two subjects are brought together. It has often perplexed many why there should be that abrupt departure in verse 7--"The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul." The fact is, there is nothing abrupt in it, and it is no departure. It is simply the transition to the second of the two great Revelations which are thus placed in juxtaposition. The first is the Revelation of the Creator, El, in His works, while the second is the Revelation of the Covenant Jehovah in His Word. And it is noteworthy that while in the first half of the Psalm, El is named only once, in the latter half Jehovah is named seven times, the last being threefold (Jehovah, Rock, and Redeemer), concluding the Psalm.
Let us then turn to Psalm 19, and note first--
The Structure* of the Psalm as a whole.
A. 1-4. The Heavens.
B. 4-6. "In them" the Sun.
A. 7-10. The Scriptures.
B. 11-14. "In them" Thy Servant.
In the Key to the Psalms, p. 17, it is pointed out that the terms employed in A and B are astronomical, * while in A and B they are literary Thus the two parts are significantly connected and united.
Ewald and others imagine that this Psalm is made up of two fragments of separate Psalms composed at different periods and brought together by a later editor!
But this is disproved not only by what has been said concerning the structure of the Psalm as a whole, and the interlacing of the astronomical and the literary terms in the two parts, but it is also shown by more minute details.
Each half consists of two portions which correspond the one to the other, A answering to A, and B to B. Moreover, each half, as well as each corresponding member, consists of the same number of lines; those in the first half being, by the caesura, short, while those int he last half are long (or double).
A. 1-4. Eight lines
B. 4-6. Six lines = 14 lines
A. 7-10. Eight lines
B. 11-14. Six lines = 14 lines.
If we confine ourselves to the first half of the Psalm * (A and B, verses 1-6), with which we are now alone concerned, we see a still more minute proof of Divine order and perfection.
The Structure of A and B.
A&B. C. 1. The heavens.
D. 2. Their testimony: incessant. (Pos.)
E. 3. Their words inaudible. (Neg.)
D. 4. Their testimony: universal. (Pos.)
C. 4-6. The heavens.
Here we have an introversion, in which the extremes (C and C) are occupied with the heavens; while the means (D, E and D) are occupied with their testimony.
The following is the full expansion of the above, with original emendations which preserve the order of the Hebrew words and thus indicate the nature of the structure:
C. a. The heavens
b. are telling (1)
c. the glory (2) of God:
c. and the work of his hands
b. is setting forth (3)
a. the firmament.
D. d. Day after day (4)
e. uttereth (5) speech,
d. And night after night
e. sheweth knowledge.
E.f. There is no speech (what is articulate)
g. and there are no words; (what is audible)
g. and without being audible, (what is audible).
f. is their voice (what is articulate).
D. h. Into all the earth (as created)
i. is their line (6) gone forth;
h. And into the ends of the world (as inhabited)
i. Their sayings.
C. j. For the sun He hath set a tent (an abode) in them;
k. l. and he as a bridegroom (comparison)
m. is going forth from his canopy, (motion: its rising)
l. he rejoiceth as a mighty one (comparison)
m. to run his course. (Motion: its rapid course.)
k. n. From the end of the heavens (egress)
o. is his going forth, (egress)
o. and his revolution (regress)
n. unto their ends: (regress)
j. and there is nothing hid from his head (i.e. from him (7))
Surely there is something more referred to here than a mere wonder excited by the works of the Creator! When we read the whole passage and mark its structure, and note the words employed, we are emphatically told that the heavens contain a revelation from God; they prophesy, they show knowledge, they tell of God's glory, and set forth His purposes and counsels.
It is a remarkable fact that it is in the Book of Job, which is generally allowed to be the oldest book in the Bible, * if not in the world, that we have references to this Stellar Revelation. This would be at least 2,000 years before Christ. In that book the signs of the Zodiac and the names of several stars and constellations are mentioned, as being ancient and well-known.
In Isaiah 40:26 (RV) we read:--
We have the same evidence in Psalm 147:4 (RV).
Here is a distinct and Divine declaration that the great Creator both numbered as well as named the stars of Heaven.
The question is, Has he revealed any of these names? Have any of them been handed down to us?
The answer is Yes; and that in the Bible itself we have the names (so ancient that their meaning is a little obscure) of Ash (a name still connected with the Great Bear), Cesil, and Cimah.
They occur in Job 9:9: "Which maketh Arcturus (RV the Bear), Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south." (Marg., Heb., Ash, Cesil, and Cimah.)
Job 38:31,32: "Canst thou bind the sweet influences (RV cluster) of the Pleiades (marg., the seven stars, Heb. Cimah), or loose the bands of Orion (marg. Heb. Cesil)? Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth (marg., the twelve signs. RV, "the twelve signs": and marg., the signs of the Zodiac) in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons (RV, the Bear with her train; and marg., Heb., sons)."*
* Note the structure of this verse:
A. The seven stars,
A. The twelve signs,
Amos 5:8: "Seek him that maketh the seven stars (RV, the Pleiades) and Orion."
Then we have the term "Mazzaroth," Job 38:32, and "Mazzaloth," 2 Kings 23:5. The former in both versions is referred to the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac, while the latter is rendered "planets," and in margin, the twelve signs or constellations.
Others are referred to by name. The sign of "Gemini," or the Twins, is given as the name of a ship: Acts 28:11, Castor & Pollux.
Most commentators agree that the constellation of "Draco," or the Dragon (between the Great and Little Bear), is referred to in Job 26:13: "By His Spirit He hath garnished the heavens; His hand hath formed the crooked serpent (RV swift. Marg. fleeing or gliding. See Isaiah 27:1, 43:14)." This word "garnished" is peculiar. The RV puts in the margin, beauty. In Psalm 16:6, it is rendered goodly. "I have a goodly heritage." In Daniel 4:2, it is rendered, "I thought it good to show," referring to "the signs and wonders" with which God had visited Nebuchadnezzar. It appears from this that God "thought it good to show" by these signs written in the heavens the wonders of His purposes and counsels, and it was by His Spirit that He made it known; it was His hand that coiled the crooked serpent among the stars of heaven.
Thus we see that the Scriptures are not silent as to the great antiquity of the signs and constellations.
If we turn to history and tradition, we are at once met with the fact that the Twelve Signs are the same, both as to the meaning of their names and as to their order in all the ancient nations of the world. The Chinese, Chaldean, and Egyptian records go back to more than 2,000 years BC. Indeed, the Zodiacs in the Temples of Denderah and Esneh, in Egypt, are doubtless copies of Zodiacs still more ancient, which, from internal evidence, must be placed nearly 4,000 BC, when the summer solstice was in Leo.
Josephus hands down to us what he gives as the traditions of his own nation, corroborated by his reference to eight ancient Gentile authorities, whose works are lost. He says that they all assert that "God gave the antediluvians such long life that they might perfect those things which they had invented in astronomy." Cassini commences his History of Astronomy by saying "It is impossible to doubt that astronomy was invented from the beginning of the world; history, profane as well as sacred, testifies to this truth." Nouet, a French astronomer, infers that the Egyptian Astronomy must have arisen 5,400 BC!
Ancient Persian and Arabian traditions ascribe its invention to Adam, Seth, and Enoch. Josephus asserts that it originated in the family of Seth; and he says that the children of Seth, and especially Adam, Seth, and Enoch, that their revelation might not be lost as to the two coming judgments of Water and Fire, made two pillars (one of brick, the other of stone), describing the whole of the predictions of the stars upon them, and in case the brick pillar should be destroyed by the flood, the stone would preserve the revelation (Book 1, chapters 1-3).
This is what is doubtless meant by Genesis 11:4, "And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower whose top may reach unto heaven." The words "may reach" are in italics. There is nothing in the verse which relates to the height of this tower. It merely says, and his top with the heavens, i.e. with the pictures and the stars, just as we find them in the ancient temples of Denderah and Esneh in Egypt. This tower, with its planisphere and pictures of the signs and constellations, was to be erected like those temples were afterwards, in order to preserve the revelation, "lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth."
This is corroborated by Lieut.-Gen. Chesney, well known for his learned researches and excavations among the ruins of Babylon, who, after describing his various discoveries, says, "About five miles S.W. of Hillah, the most remarkable of all the ruins, the Birs Nimroud of the Arabs, rises to a height of 153 feet above the plain from a base covering a square of 400 feet, or almost four acres. It was constructed of kiln-dried bricks in seven stages to correspond with the planets to which they were dedicated: the lowermost black, the colour of Saturn; the next orange, for Jupiter; the third red, for Mars; and so on. * These stages were surmounted by a lofty tower, on the summit of which, we are told, were the signs of the Zodiac and other astronomical figures; thus having (as it should have been translated) a representation of the heavens, instead of 'a top which reached unto heaven.'"
This Biblical evidence carries us at once right back to the Flood, or about 2,500 years BC.
This tower or temple, or both, was also called "The Seven Spheres," according to some; and "The Seven Lights," according to others. It is thus clear that the popular idea of its height and purpose must be abandoned, and its astronomical reference to revelation must be admitted. The tower was an attempt to preserve and hand down the antediluvian traditions; their sin was in keeping together instead of scattering themselves over the earth.
Another important statement is made by Dr. Budge, of the British Museum (Babylonian Life and History, p. 36). He says, "It must never be forgotten that the Babylonians were a nation of stargazers, and that they kept a body of men to do nothing else but report eclipses, appearances of the moon, sunspots, etc., etc."
"Astronomy, mixed with astrology, occupied a large number of tablets in the Babylonian libraries, and Isaiah 47:13 refers to this when he says to Babylon, 'Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now thy astrologers (marg. viewers of the heavens), the star-gazers, the monthly prognosticators stand up.' The largest astrological work of the Babylonians contained seventy tablets, and was compiled by the command of Sargon of Agade thirty-eight hundred years before Christ! It was called the 'Illumination of Bel.'"
"Their observations were made in towers called 'ziggurats'" (p. 106).
"They built observatories in all the great cities, and reports like the above [which Dr. Budge gives in full] were regularly sent to the King" (p. 110).
"They were able to calculate eclipses, and had long lists of them." "They found out that the sun was spotted, and they knew of comets." "They were the inventors of the Zodiac." (?) There are fragments of two (ancient Babylonian) planispheres in the British Museum with figures and calculations inscribed upon them. "The months were called after the signs of the Zodiac" (p. 109).
We may form some idea of what this "representation of the heavens" was from the fifth "Creation Tablet," now in the British Museum. It reads as follows:
Coming down to less ancient records: Eudoxos, an astronomer of Cnidus (403 to 350 BC), wrote a work on Astronomy which he called Phainomena. Antigonus Gonatas, King of Macedonia (273-239 BC), requested the Poet Aratus to put the work of Eudoxus into the form of a poem, which he did about the year 270 BC. Aratus called his work Diosemeia (the Divine Signs). He was a native of Tarsus, and it is interesting for us to note that his poem was known to, and, indeed, must have been read by, the Apostle Paul, for he quotes it in his address at Athens on Mars's Hill. He says (Acts 17:28) "For in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring." Several translations of this poem have been made, both by Cicero and others, into Latin, and in recent times into English by E. Poste, J. Lamb, and others. The following is the opening from the translation of Robert Brown, jun.:
Then Aratus proceeds to describe and explain all the Signs and Constellations as the Greeks in his day understood, or rather misunderstood, them, after their true meaning and testimony had been forgotten.
Moreover, Aratus describes them, not as they were seen in his day, but as they were seen some 4,000 years before. The stars were not seen from Tarsus as he describes them, and he must therefore have written from a then ancient Zodiac. For notwithstanding that we speak of "fixed stars," there is a constant, though slow, change taking place amongst them. There is also another change taking place owing to the slow recession of the pole of the heavens (about 50" in the year); so that while Alpha in the constellation of Draco was the Polar Star when the Zodiac was first formed, the Polar Star is now Alpha in what is called Ursa Minor. This change alone carries us back at least 5,000 years. The same movement which has changed the relative position of these two stars has also caused the constellation of the Southern Cross to become invisible in northern latitudes. When the constellations were formed the Southern Cross was visible in N. latitude 40o, and was included in their number. But, though known by tradition, it had not been seen in that latitude for some twenty centuries, until voyages to the Cape of Good Hope were made. Then was seen again The Southern Cross depicted by the Patriarchs. Here is another indisputable proof as to the antiquity of the formation of the Zodiac.
Ptolemy (150 AD) transmits them from Hipparchus (130 BC) "as of unquestioned authority, unknown origin, and unsearchable antiquity."
Sir William Drummond says that "the traditions of the Chaldean Astronomy seem the fragments of a mighty system fallen into ruins."
The word Zodiac itself is from the Greek zoidiakos, which is not from zoe, to live, but from a primitive root through the Hebrew Sodi, which in Sanscrit means a way. Its etymology has no connection with living creatures, but denotes a way, or step, and is used of the way or path in which the sun appears to move amongst the stars in the course of the year.
To an observer on the earth the whole firmament, together with the sun, appears to revolve in a circle once in twenty-four hours. But the time occupied by the stars in going round, differs from the time occupied by the sun. This difference amounts to about one-twelfth part of the whole circle in each month, so that when the circle of the heavens is divided up into twelve parts, the sun appears to move each month through one of them. This path which the sun thus makes amongst the stars is called the Ecliptic. *
Each of these twelve parts (consisting each of about 30 degrees) is distinguished, not by numbers or by letters, but by pictures and names, and this, as we have seen, from the very earliest times. They are preserved to the present day in our almanacs, and we are taught their order in the familiar rhymes:--
These signs have always and everywhere been preserved in this order, and have begun with Aries. They have been known amongst all nations, and in all ages, thus proving their common origin from one source.
The figures themselves are perfectly arbitrary. There is nothing in the groups of stars to even suggest the figures. This is the first thing which is noticed by every one who looks at the constellations. Take for example the sign of Virgo, and look at the stars. There is nothing whatever to suggest a human form; still less is there anything to show whether that form is a man or a woman. And so with all the others.
The picture, therefore, is the original, and must have been drawn around or connected with certain stars, simply in order that it might be identified and associated with them; and that it might thus be remembered and handed down to posterity.
There can be no doubt, as the learned Authoress of Mazzaroth conclusively proves, that these signs were afterwards identified with the twelve sons of Jacob. Joseph sees the sun and moon and eleven stars bowing down to him, he himself being the twelfth (Gen 37:9). The blessing of Jacob (Gen 49) and the blessing of Moses (Deut 33) both bear witness to the existence of these signs in their day. And it is more than probable that each of the Twelve Tribes bore one of them on its standard. We read in Numbers 2:2, "Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own STANDARD, with the ENSIGN of their father's house" (RV "with the ensigns of their fathers' houses"). This "Standard" was the Degel on which the "Sign" (oth) was depicted. Hence it was called the "En-sign." Ancient Jewish authorities declare that each tribe had one of the signs as its own, and it is highly probable, even from Scripture, that four of the tribes carried its "Sign"; and that these four were placed at the four sides of the camp.
If the Lion were appropriated
to Judah, then the other three would be thus fixed, and would be the same four
that equally divide the Zodiac at its four cardinal points. According to Numbers
2 the camp was thus formed:--
If the reader compares the above with the blessings of Israel and Moses, and compares the meanings and descriptions given below with those blessings,
the connection will be clearly seen. Levi, for example, had no standard, and he needed none, for he kept "the balance of the Sanctuary," and had the charge of that brazen altar on which the atoning blood outweighed the nation's sins.
The four great signs which thus marked the four sides of the camp, and the four quarters of the Zodiac, are the same four which form the Cherubim (the Eagle, the Scorpion's enemy, being substituted for the Scorpion). The Cherubim thus form a compendious expression of the hope of Creation, which, from the very first, has been bound up with the Coming One, who alone should cause its groanings to cease.
But this brings us to the Signs themselves and their interpretation.
These pictures were designed to preserve, expound, and perpetuate the one first great promise and prophecy of Genesis 3:15, that all hope for Man, all hope for Creation, was bound up in a coming Redeemer; One who should be born of a woman; who should first suffer, and afterwards gloriously triumph; One who should first be wounded by that great enemy who was the cause of all sin and sorrow and death, but who should finally crush the head of "that Old Serpent the Devil."
These ancient star-pictures reveal this Coming One. They set forth "the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow." Altogether there are forty-eight of them, made up of twelve SIGNS, each sign containing three CONSTELLATIONS.
These may be divided into three great books, each book containing four chapters (or Signs); and each chapter containing three sections (or Constellations).
Each book (like the four Gospels) sets forth its peculiar aspect of the Coming One; beginning with the promise of His coming, and ending with the destruction of the enemy.
But where are we to begin to read this wondrous Heavenly Scroll? A circle has proverbially neither beginning nor end. In what order then are we to consider these signs? In the heavens they form a never-ending circle. Where is the beginning and where is the end of this circle through which the sun is constantly moving? Where are we to break into this circle? and say, This is the commencement. It is clear that unless we can determine this original starting point we can never read this wondrous book aright.
As I have said, the popular beginning today is with Aries, the Ram. But comparing this Revelation with that which was afterwards written "in the Volume of the Book," Virgo is the only point where we can intelligently begin, and Leo is the only point where we can logically conclude. Is not this what is spoken of as the unknown and insoluble mystery--"The riddle of the Sphinx"? The word "Sphinx" is from to bind closely together. It was therefore designed to show where the two ends of the Zodiac were to be joined together, and where the great circle of the heavens begins and ends.
The Sphinx is a figure with the head of a woman and the body of a lion! What is this but a never-ceasing monitor, telling us to begin with Virgo and to end with Leo! In the Zodiac in the Temple of Esneh, in Egypt, a Sphinx is actually placed between the Signs of Virgo and Leo...
Beginning, then, with Virgo, let us now spread out the contents of this Heavenly Volume, so that the eye can take them in at a glance. Of course we are greatly hindered in this, in having to use the modern Latin names which the Constellations bear today. * Some of these names are mistakes, others are gross perversions of the truth, as proved by the pictures themselves, which are far more ancient, and have come down to us from primitive times.
After the Revelation came to be written down in the Scriptures, there was not the same need for the preservation of the Heavenly Volume. And after the nations had lost the original meaning of the pictures, they invented a meaning out of the vain imagination of the thoughts of their hearts. The Greek Mythology is an interpretation of (only some of) the signs and constellations after their true meaning had been forgotten. It is popularly believed that Bible truth is an evolution from, or development of, the ancient religions of the world. But the fact is that they themselves are a corruption and perversion of primitive truth!