Damien F. Mackey
There is a false astrology, condemned by the Bible (e.g. Deuteronomy 18:10-12; cf. Leviticus 19:26; Isaiah 47:13-14; Jeremiah 10:2), and a true astrology based on God’s structural design – from the beginning – of the heavenly bodies for “signs and seasons” (Genesis 1:14).
Since everything that God has created through his Wisdom has been effected with marvellous precision and meaning, there must be a profound significance to the structure of the universe.
Wise souls down through the ages have sought to make sense of it all, with the wisest – those prepared to be instructed by the Designer – such as King Solomon, being able to claim, as Solomon did, a ‘sure knowledge’ and an ‘understanding of the structure of the universe’, and of more besides (Wisdom 7:17-21):
He it was who gave me sure knowledge of what exists, to understand the structure of the universe and the action of the elements, the beginning, end and middle of the times, the alternation of the solstices and the succession of the seasons, the cycles of the year and the position of the stars, the natures of animals and the instincts of wild beasts, the powers of spirits and human mental processes, the varieties of plants and the medical properties of roots.
And now I understand everything, hidden or visible, for Wisdom, the designer of all things, has instructed me.
Dr. Ernest L. Martin has concluded, from scrutinising the biblical data, that there was a common Divine pattern regarding the structure of the universe; the Garden of Eden; the Hebrew camp in the wilderness; and the Temple built by King Solomon.
Others have attempted to do the same.
What I like about this sort of approach regarding the universe – whether any given effort be actually correct, or not – is that it is at least a search for a meaning that must surely be there, rather than one’s simply considering the universe as a vast and unintelligible mass.
We read of Dr. Martin’s particular view in Roger Waite’s “The Lost History of Jerusalem” (pp. 37-38): http://www.rogerswebsite.com/articles/TheLostHistoryofJerusalem.pdf
Another way we see this pattern between what is on earth and what is in the heavens is in the comparison between the three general compartments within the Temple and the three heavens noted in scripture.
This is what Ernest Martin writes about the similarities between the three compartments of the Temple and the three heavens:
The Temple and its environs were further patterned after God’s heavenly palace and its celestial surroundings that existed in the north part of the heavens…The Bible shows these “three heavens.”
Numerous texts show that the “first heaven” is the atmosphere where the birds fly and where all weather phenomena take place.
The “second heaven,” however, was beyond the earth’s atmosphere and embraced all the visible planets and stars, including the sun and the moon.
The “third heaven,” that the apostle Paul referred to in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 that he called Paradise, was that of God’s official residence in his heavenly region which was separate from the other two heavens.
These “three heavens” were symbolically pictured in the Temple at Jerusalem. In fact, the three main sections of the Temple were designed to show these three heavens.
When an Israelite entered the main Temple from the east, he or she would first be within the Court of the Israelites. This first section of the Temple (which continued westward up to the eastern portion of the priests’ court in which was the Altar of Burnt Offering) was not covered with a roof. The first section was open to the sky and to all weather phenomena. Birds could also fly within it. This area of the Temple answered in a typical manner with the “first heaven,” which was like our atmosphere surrounding the earth.
The “second heaven” in the Temple in a symbolic sense began at the eastern curtain in front of the Holy Place. Josephus tells us this curtain had the principal stars of the heavens displayed on it in tapestry form. It represented the entrance into the starry heavens beyond our atmosphere.
Josephus tells us that west of this curtain, one could witness the center of the zodiacal circle with the seven [visible] planets displayed on the south side in the form of the Menorah (the seven lamps) with the twelve signs of the Zodiac denoting the twelve months displayed on the north side by the twelve loaves of the Table of Shewbread. This second court of the priests represented all the starry heavens above the earth’s atmosphere. But beyond this “second heaven,” there was yet a “third heaven.”
This “third heaven” was the Heaven of Heavens, or in Temple terminology, the Holy of Holies, which equaled God’s celestial abode where his palace and divine precincts were located which the apostle Paul called Paradise (Temples, p.253).
Each one of the twelve tribes of Israel had a zodiacal sign associated with it. “Moses positioned each of the twelve tribes of Israel as representing a particular zodiacal sign in its regular astronomical order”.
We read the following in Roger Waite’s “The Lost History of Jerusalem” (p. 28): http://www.rogerswebsite.com/articles/TheLostHistoryofJerusalem.pdf
In addition to the symbolism of the three compartments of the tabernacle and Temples, according to Ernest Martin, there was also an astronomical pattern in the design of the camp in the wilderness and where each of the tribes of Israel were placed in relation to the tabernacle. This pattern was also established around the environs of Jerusalem itself. Ernest Martin writes the following about the position of the tribes around the tabernacle:
Though the Holy Scriptures in other areas utterly condemn the use of Astrology as conceived by the Gentiles and when the celestial motions are used for wrong purposes (Isaiah 47:11-13), the placement of the twelve tribes of Israel around the Tabernacle was intended by Moses to provide the authorities in Israel with a knowledge of God’s plan for the nation of Israel .…The Gentiles actually corrupted the prophetic teaching found in the design of the “Camp of Israel” and placed on it a hodgepodge of heathen interpretations that completely obliterated the true prophetic meaning that God gave to Moses…
So, what about this astronomical design of the “Camp”? The outer boundary of this zodiacal design was an imaginary circle positioned by the Jewish authorities to be 2000 cubits (a radius of about 3000 feet) from that central point in the Holy Place of the Temple. It is important to realize that the outer boundary of this circle denoted the limits of the “Camp.”
Moses positioned each of the twelve tribes of Israel as representing a particular zodiacal sign in its regular astronomical order.
The tribe of Judah was given the prime position in this zodiacal design by being located directly east of the entrances to the Tabernacle and the later Temples. Let me explain. Four principal tribes were selected to denote each of the four seasons of the year. Judah was first, Dan was second, Reuben was third and Ephraim was fourth. The positions of these four prime tribes were arranged 90 degrees from each other (within a 360 degrees circle) to accord with those four seasons of the year. Judah was selected to be the tribe directly east of the Tabernacle and it was given first place…
The zodiacal story is a prophetic account that actually centers on the Messiah of Israel who was destined to come from the tribe of Judah. For this reason, Judah was reckoned as the chief tribe and it was located in Moses’ arrangement of the “Camp” directly east of the Temple.
The tribe of Judah had for its tribal symbol the Lion (called Leo today). Judah had a subsidiary tribe of Israel located on each of its sides. As the chief tribe, Judah (Leo) and its sign was positioned to dominate the summer season in prophetic and calendar matters…The twelve tribes in their arrangement in the encampment also represented the twelve months of the year.
The next pivotal tribe proceeding counterclockwise around this zodiacal design of this “Camp of Israel”… was Dan with a subsidiary tribe of Israel located on each of its sides. It was positioned on the north side of the Temple and Jerusalem as a venomous creature, sometimes displayed as an eagle with a snake in its talons (called Scorpio, the venomous scorpion today). It dominated the autumn season in the prophetic calendar of Israel.
Reuben…with a subsidiary tribe of Israel located on each of its sides was placed on the west side of the Temple and Jerusalem in the original arrangement. Reuben was connected with water, as a Man bearing water (called Aquarius today), and it dominated the winter season in the original prophetic calendar….
And finally there is Ephraim…with a subsidiary tribe of Israel located on each of its sides. He was on the south side of the Temple and Jerusalem as a bullock (called Taurus today). It was positioned to dominate the spring season in a prophetic and calendar sense. And, of course, if one continued…another 90 degrees, one would then return to Judah (Leo) for the start of another calendar or prophetic year…
Another form of this astronomical arrangement surrounding the Temple and Jerusalem (and patterned after God’s abode in heaven) was the four sides of the cherubim mentioned by Ezekiel (1:4-14) and the Book of Revelation (4:6-7). The cherubim were reckoned by the biblical writers as encompassing the throne of God in heaven. These angelic cherubim also had the four zodiacal signs representing the seasons of the year associated with them (Lion, Eagle, Man, Bullock which are today called Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius, Taurus and they were analogous to the four principal tribes of Israel: Judah, Dan, Reuben and Ephraim)….
The above view is supported by what we read in the following intriguing article (http://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/lds/meridian/2005/12sons.html),
Twelve Sons, Twelve Constellations
There is a strong Hebrew tradition that each of the twelve tribes of Israel was associated with one of the twelve constellations of the zodiac. The precise identification of which constellation goes with which of Jacob’s sons has only been known with certainty for four of the tribes. Each of the twelve carried a banner or flag, and the many of those flags are believed to have displayed one of the zodiac symbols. Thus, those figures came to symbolize the entire tribe to a large degree, much as the eagle represents the United States. This article proposes a correspondence of each of those tribes to one of the zodiac emblems, based on proposed dates for the birth of each. Knowing those dates then leads to greater understanding of the holy days on the Hebrew Calendar, and testifies of the Lord’s foreknowledge of all things and of his great plan of salvation.
What does the zodiac have to do with the twelve tribes of Israel? Aren’t the zodiac signs the basis of astrology, and isn’t that a false belief system? Wasn’t Israel admonished over and over not to worship the hosts of heaven? Why would Israel put zodiac figures on their flags?
It is not surprising if these are your first questions as you read this article, especially if this is the first you’ve read on the subject. As has been pointed out in numerous earlier articles, the Book of Enoch records that an angel revealed the constellation figures to the prophet Enoch some 5,000 years ago, and many scholars claim they symbolize the key features of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Last month’s article proposed that each of the twelve constellations of the zodiac, through which the sun appears to travel during the year, represents one of the twelve principal roles of the Savior.
Satan twists truth and perverts it for his own purposes, which he has clearly done with the zodiac signs. That causes many to avoid the entire subject, but the symbolism of these figures is so rich that it would be a tragedy not to learn of the beauty of their meaning, and the clarity of their symbolism. So my articles on the subject attempt to ignore the perversions and focus on the good. My position is that the sun, moon, and planets are like the hands on a huge clock, with the twelve zodiac constellations through which they move being the 12 numbers on the clock face. The Lord uses his clock to time key events in world history. But when Israel began to worship the hands on the clock, as did the pagan nations, then they were told they had missed the whole point, and to desist. Similarly today, if someone believes the planets are controlling his life, rather than merely keeping time, then Satan could falsely convince him that he is not responsible for his actions.
Having that disclaimer in mind, let us look at the evidence, even from the Bible itself, that the twelve sons of the prophet Jacob were each identified with a different sign of the zodiac.
First, consider the dream of Jacob’s son Joseph, of the sun, moon and 11 stars (11 constellations?). He dreamed that they all bowed down to him (Gen. 37:9). When he told the dream to his family, they immediately knew that the 11 stars referred to his 11 brothers. Was that just because of the number eleven, or what it also because they already knew that each was associated with a different zodiac constellation? Evidence for answering this question affirmatively comes from noting that most of their names have close ties to the zodiac constellations, as discussed below.
Secondly, when the tribes received blessings under the hands of their father Jacob and many years later by Moses, many unmistakable references were made to zodiac constellations. Moreover, visions such as those of Ezekiel and John, describe figures with the heads of a man, lion, ox, and eagle, which just happen to match the four “cornerstone” constellations (Ezek. 1:10, Rev. 4:7). It is precisely these four key figures which are the most easily matched with the four principal sons of Israel because each is mentioned in the blessings. Reuben is compared to a man and to water, Judah is compared to a lion, Dan to a serpent (counterpart of the eagle), and Joseph’s two sons to the horns of the wild ox. Those link to the constellations of the Water Bearer, the Lion, the Scorpion, and the Bull, respectively (Gen. 49: 4, 9, 17; Deut. 33:17). Those four sons are each also assigned to four directions (Num. 2:3, 10, 18, 25), and those four constellations are evenly spaced around the circle, as are the four points of a compass. And even non-Israelite prophets, such as Balaam, have used the same figures to represent the tribes (Num. 24:7-9). All of this has been discussed in detail in earlier articles, and is summarized here only as review and to make it clear that the Lord himself uses the symbolism. There is something very profound going on here, and it is certainly seems worth investigating.
Until now, the identification of the constellations associated with the other eight tribes has not been known with any degree of confidence. The other references to the zodiac are sketchy, and different scholars have proposed a variety of associations based on scriptural clues. But historical evidence of exactly what emblems were shown on which flags has been weak, and is based mostly on tradition. Thus, the information about the zodiac associations has been lost. This article proposes a correlation based on the “brute force” method of actually determining the birth dates of the twelve sons, and then looking at which constellation the sun was in at their birth. ….
“Jesus was born of Judah … Leo the Lion … and the first sign in a counterclockwise direction that anyone within the camp would encounter would be Virgo, the Virgin … . And certainly, Jesus was accepted by Christians as being born of a virgin”.
We read the following in Roger Waite’s “The Lost History of Jerusalem” (p. 28): http://www.rogerswebsite.com/articles/TheLostHistoryofJerusalem.pdf
In fact, the design of the biblical Zodiac that the tribes of Israel displayed in their encampment prefigured the history of the Messiah of Israel as certainly interpreted by the early Christians…
Jesus was born of Judah (Leo the Lion, the month of Ab) and the first sign in a counterclockwise direction that anyone within the camp would encounter would be Virgo, the Virgin (Elul, the 6th Hebrew month). And certainly, Jesus was accepted by Christians as being born of a virgin.
Then, in the New Testament narrative, Jesus at the start of his ministry then met Satan for his temptation as shown by Dan (the sign of the venomous serpent or scorpion). He later came into deep waters (e.g. Psalm 124:4) through his apprehension, trial and crucifixion at Jerusalem (which is symbolized by Reuben, the sign of the Water Bearer a man carrying water).
But then comes the Springtime (as indicated by the Joseph tribes, particularly Ephraim, Taurus the Bull) and this represented the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
Finally, one returns in this circular (or celestial) journey within the camp to the first part of the tribe of Judah (Leo the Lion, back to the first fifteen degrees of the month of Ab) where the chief star called Regulus the King Star is located (which happens to be the closest star in the heavens to the ecliptic, the path of the Sun), and this represents the Christ being crowned King of Kings and sitting on the right hand of the Father, whom the Sun represents (Malachi 4:2).
The four cherubim which represent the four seasons (and the four principal tribes) are the primary actors in this zodiacal or celestial design of the fortunes of the Messiah within the Camp of Israel. It is reflected in the story found in Psalm 19 where the Sun comes forth as a bridegroom and begins to tell a prophetic history that Israel can understand. Indeed, the apostle Paul quoted Psalm 19 (Romans 10:18) and referred it to Jesus and his message as going forth like the messages in the sun, moon and stars into all the world. The early Christians saw the astronomical message found in the zodiacal arrangement of the tribes of Israel within their encampment as giving highlights of the career of Jesus in his role as the Christ of God (Secrets of Golgotha [referred from here on as Golgotha], p.53-60).
E.W. Bullinger in his book “Witness of the Stars” has gone into much detail about how the plan of God can be seen in the various constellations in the heavens. One can’t help but wonder about that and the evidence of design in the heavens when one sees the Southern Cross. Two of the brightest stars, Alpha and Beta Centauri, point to it and seem to highlight how Christ died on the cross to pay for our sins.