or, The Constellations
by Frances Rolleston

Philologos Religious Online Books

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or, the


"Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season?" — Job xxxviii. 32.




The apparent places and movements of the sun, moon, and planets have always been described by their relation to the fixed stars. From time immemorial these fixed stars have been distinguished into constellations, called by the names of various earthly objects. Few of these constellations appear to the eye as distinct groups, and still fewer have any similitude in form to the things after which they are named. Twelve of these, through which the sun, moon, and planets appear to move, have every where and always been named after the same, or nearly the same, objects. These names have varied according to the dialects of the nations, but are to be traced to the same ideas. Those transmitted by the Hebrews may be taken as the most ancient. From these the Arabic and Syriac little differ. The Coptic have been thought to preserve the ancient Egyptian; the Greek, to have been translated from the Egyptian; the Latin, to have been derived from the Etruscans. The arts and sciences of Etruria being supposed to have come from Assyria, will account for Semitic roots being found in Latin names.

The other thirty-six constellations, called decans, apparently of equal antiquity, comprise the rest of the stars known to the north temperate zone. These have varied more in their names and figures: but Semitic roots appear in the names; and the figures, like those of the signs, will be found used as types by the Hebrew prophets.

The previously unknown stars of the southern hemisphere have been observed since the passage to India by the Cape. Tradition had said that the south polar constellation was in the shape of a cross. So it had been seen in the early ages, and so it was called by those who again beheld it. By the precession of the equinoxes it had disappeared from sight in the north temperate zone about the time of the Christian era [cosmos]; but the memory of it survived among the nations. Subsequently an English astronomer, cotemporary with Newton, but not consulting him, applied to stars, whose relation to the ancient constellations was not recognized, names and figures utterly incongruous with those already existing. With these modern interpolations this examination of the ancient astronomical records has no connexion.

The annexed tables are intended to show that the meanings attributed to the ancient names of the signs, constellations, and stars, are really to be found in them, the proof being sought in the use of those words or their roots in the Hebrew Scriptures, and other Oriental dialects.

The Hebraist will find the roots in the margin of the right-hand column, and in the texts referred to, with occasional allowance for differences in the divisions of the English version. The English reader will find the meanings here assigned to the names in the corresponding texts to which references are given.

In the left-hand column some of the Scripture prophecies are pointed out with which the names and emblems, as here explained, correspond.* The prophecies frequently containing the very words transmitted as the names, an asterisk indicates where they do so.

* The names in use in Arab astronomy may have belonged to the primitive language, as it is said that Al was originally the Hebrew article. (See Moses Stuart's Grammar.)

The tables are also intended to show the marks of design in the arrangement and correspondence of the names and figures, and the adaptation of the decans to the signs, as developing the leading ideas of those signs which they accompany. Those ideas are here shown to be expressed in various prophecies of the Holy Scriptures.

By Plato we are informed that Solon made an investigation, apparently on scientific and theological subjects, into the power of names, and found that the Egyptians, from whom the Greeks derived them, had transferred them from "barbarian" dialects into their own language. According to ancient authorities, the Egyptians had learnt their astronomy from the Chaldeans. The meaning of the names of astronomy transmitted by the Greeks should therefore be sought in the dialect of those from whom the Egyptians received the science. In the Chaldee contained in the Hebrew Scriptures it may be seen that every Chaldee word is explicable by the cognate Hebrew root, to which, therefore, those names are here referred. The early Arabic is thus equally intelligible. The refinements of modern Arabic have scarcely at all affected the names of ancient astronomy. Its descriptive epithets used as synonyms, and its melodious profusion of inserted vowels, ornament and may a little obscure the original idea, but do not alter the sense.

The writers of the Scriptural annunciations of the prophecies had the same divine truths communicated to them as had been revealed to Adam, Abel, Seth, and Enoch. They have delivered them, speaking as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. Those who invented the emblems seem to have desired to perpetuate symbolically the unwritten revelation made to that earliest race. The agreement of the results of the two modes of transmission, the written and the emblematic, will here be seen. In some instances it may appear intentional, in others incidental to the unity of the subject. That subject, the great theme of prophecy in all ages, was in both the seed of the woman who should bruise the serpent's head, the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world, and returning in glory to triumph and to reign.

The prophecies were given of God: the words in which the prophets expressed them were of the Holy Spirit. The names and emblems of astronomy, intended to convey those divine truths, were of man, the efforts of human intellect to aid in extending and perpetuating the knowledge of those prophecies at first orally communicated.

The names are here explained on the supposition that the first language was given by the Creator to the first man, conveying ideas to the mind by sounds, as impressions of form and colour are conveyed by sight. In all languages these sounds are traceable, conveying the same idea. In the dialects of the most ancient and earliest civilized nations they are the most recognizable: in those of the most barbarous the most obscured. This primitive language appears to have been spoken by Noah, from the names given by him to his sons. In the confusion of the lip at Babel, pronunciation, not words or roots, were altered. This may be inferred from the presence of Hebrew roots in the dialects of all nations.

The simple and consistent explanations obtained in this manner often widely differ from those derived in other ways. Plato [in Cratylus] long ago observed that all things possess some quality which is the proper reason of their appellations, and that those names which express things as they exist are the true names. The qualities from whence the things figured in the constellations were named made them suitable types of higher objects in which these qualities, though in a subordinate degree, were also to be found. So the innocence of the lamb suited with the holiness of the Saviour; so the force of the lion, His all-subduing power. But these, though increasing the beauty of the type, do not express the leading ideas as contained in the original names. Taleh, the lamb, is the sent forth, as the lamb from its mother, as He who is our Passover from God. Shur, the bull, from his strength; Thaumim, the twins, from their unitedness; Sartan, the crab or beetle, from its fast holding; Arieh, the lion, from rending the prey; Bethulah, the offspring, as daughter or branch; Mozanaim, the scales, encompassing as in weighing; Akrab, the scorpion, wounding him that cometh; Kesith, the archer sending forth the arrow; Gedi, the cut off, the slain victim; Deli, the pouring forth of water; Dagim, the fish, as multitudes: these are all names that meet Plato's requirement.

NOTE. — The names with Al prefixed in use in Arabic astronomy are now used merely as proper names, their meaning being lost. They may be held to belong to the primitive language. Al is supposed by Stuart, &c., to have been the original Hebrew article.

Asterisks in the first column mark where the word existing as the name occurs in the Hebrew prophecy where the figure is used.

The Hebrew characters are here given without points, for the sake of clearness, as in the titles, &c., of pointed Hebrew Bibles. Two-lettered roots have been used as often as might be, partly because Rawlinson and Layard, and some Egyptologers explain their languages chiefly by them, and partly because some lexicographers prefer them where admissible. Three-lettered roots, made by vau inserted, add the idea of duration; by he postfixed, add the idea of existence; doubling the last radical adds that of intensity. In Arabic two-lettered roots become three-lettered by teshdid, in Hebrew two-lettered roots remain, probably belonging to the primitive language, which many now believe to have been only a less copious Hebrew.


Predictions of fulfilment
The lamb as it
had been slain.
Rev 5:6
Cassiopeia, the Church set free, raised, enthroned. 1 Sam 2:8; Isa 60, 62 Rev 19:7,8, 21:9
Cetus, the serpent bound. Isa 27:1 Rev 20:2
Perseus, the Deliverer, breaking the bonds of the afflicted Church. Micah 2:13 Isa 54:11
The bull, once
a sacrifice, now
Orion, the coming of Him mighty to save. Isa 63:1 Rev 19
Eridanus, the river; converted nations under the type of water. Eze 47
Auriga, the Good Shepherd and his redeemed flock. John 10:11,14 Isa 40:11; Eze 34:23
The Messiah
uniting the Divine
and human nature.
Lepus, the enemy under his feet. Psa 8:6 1 Cor 15:27
Sirius, He that cometh, as the Prince. Isa 9:6 Dan 9:25
Procyon, He that cometh, as the Redeemer. Isa 59:20
The possession,
the reward of his
Ursa Minor, the lesser sheepfold, the Church before the first coming of Christ. Jer 23:3
Ursa Major, the greater sheepfold, the Church after the first coming of Christ. Eze 36:37
Argo, the company of travellers to the heavenly Canaan John 10:16
The Lion of
Judah punishing
the enemy.
Hydra, the serpent, the enemy. Rev 20:2 Isa 27:1
Crater, the cup of the wrath of God resting upon him. Psa 75:8
Corvus, the bird of prey feeding on his flesh. Rev 19:17
The woman with
the branch.
Coma, the desired, the infant held by the woman; the seed. Isa 9:6
The Centaur, the King Messiah offering himself as a sacrifice. John 10:18 Matt 20:28
Bootes, the coming of the Branch as the guardian of the flock. John 10:14
The scales of
The Cross, the finishing of the work of redemption. John 19:30 Dan 9:24
The Victim, of the sacrifice. Dan 9:26; Gen 22:8
The Crown, of his glory. Psa 8:5, 132:18 Rev 19:12
The conflict of
the Messiah.
The Serpent, the enemy with which he contends. Heb 5:7 Gen 3:15
Ophiuchus, the Desired, holding the serpent, his foot on the head of the Scorpion. Hagg 2:7
Hercules, he who bruises, his foot over the head of the Dragon. Psa 91:13 Gen 3:15
The sending forth
of the Gospel.
Lyra, the eagle holding the harp; the triumph. Mark 13:26 Matt 16:27; Rev 19:15
Ara, the altar of the completed sacrifice. Psa 43:4 Heb 13:10
Draco, the enemy who is to be trodden under foot. Psa 91:13
The slaying of
the victim.
Sagitta, the arrow of slaying. Psa 38:2 Isa 53
Aquila, the falling eagle; his dying.
Delphinus, the pouring out of his soul unto death.
The pouring forth
of spiritual
The Southern Fish, the Church drinking in the water of life. John 4:14
Pegasus, the winged horse, going to return again. Zech 6:7; Rev 19:11 John 14:3
Cygnus, the swan, the bird of passage who goes and comes again. Acts 1:11
The multitudes
of the redeemed.
The Band, uniting the Church before and after the first coming of the Lord. John 10:16
Cepheus, the branch, crowned King. Rev 14:14 Jer 23:5
Andromeda, the Church released by the Deliverer, who breaks the bonds of death. Isa 61:1; Rev 20:5


AUTHORITIES FOR THE ANTIQUITY OF THE SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC, THEIR NAMES AND FORMS Texts where the word or its root is used in this sense in the Hebrew Bible Hebrew Roots
Greek, Zodiakos, a way having steps*
gone, paces 2 Sam 6:14 d(c
having Job 30:16 wh)
  — Zodion, a sign, or step of the way march Hab 3:12; Psa 68:7 d(c
Hebrew, Mazzaloth, the zodiac. 2 Kings 23:5 flowing Jer 18:14 lzn
Arabic, Mazaloth, the zodiac. Arab. sense, descending.
Sanscrit, Sodi, as Zodiac, way; Mandalam, as Mazaloth, z changed for d.

* Those who derive zodiac from Zao, to live, as composed of living creatures, instead of from the primitive root Zoad, way, going on by steps, not only overlook the balance in Libra, but the vase for Aquarius, and the bow for Sagittarius, of the Eastern nations.
If the correspondence between the meanings of the names of the antediluvian patriarchs with those of the signs be intentional, it afford the earliest evidence of the antiquity of those figures. Surely such a coincidence in such unbroken series cannot be esteemed the work of chance. The co-existence of the signs is to be inferred from the widely diffused ancient tradition that astronomy was invented by the first fathers of mankind, from the date assigned to it by modern astronomers, and from the allowed fact that the science was never known to exist unaccompanied by these figures. The evidence next in antiquity is that of the Chinese records [Nicholl's Outlines of Astronomy]. Modern algebraists confirm these, while they dispute those of India. From those records [Martini, Hist. Sini.] we learn that a winter solstice had been observed in 18o Aquarius 2342 BC; also, that a remarkable conjunction of the four planets, Saturn, Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury, with the moon in Pisces, when the sun was in 20o Aquarius, was observed in China. This conjunction is said by modern astronomers to have taken place 2012 BC. These records were brought to Europe by the learned Jesuit missionaries who visited China in the seventeenth century. The Chinese emperor Yao is there said to have divided the twelve signs by the twenty-eight Mansions of the Moon, but is not said to have invented any of them. An eclipse is there correctly recorded as early as the time of Abraham.

Chaldean astronomical observations for 1900 years back were found, reaching to much the same time as those of the Chinese, at Babylon, when taken by Alexander [Sextus Empiricus, &c. See Montucla.]. To the Chaldeans ancient writers attribute the division of the zodiac, as well as the introduction of astronomy into Egypt. That line of the family of Noah of which Abraham came would be Chaldean. That "the traditions of the Chaldean astronomy seem the fragments of a mighty system fallen into ruin," has been observed by Sir W. Drummond.

Astronomy is found highly cultivated in Egypt in the very earliest times of its history. Ptolemy records, on the faith of Thebaic astronomers, the heliacal rising of Sirius on the fourth day after the summer solstice, 2250 BC. Nouet, a French astronomer, infers that the Egyptian astronomy must have arisen 5400 BC. This date accords with the assertion of Josephus, that astronomy originated with the family of Seth, and with the traditions of the ancient Persians and Arabs, attributing its invention to Adam, Seth, and Enoch. In the notes to Gill's Commentary on Genesis will be found the names of ancient writers, Jewish, Persian, and Arabic, by whom these traditions have been transmitted.

Hamilton, in his Ægyptiaca, remarks the rudeness and imperfection of the mechanical instruments of the Egyptians. He asks, How was this compatible with their knowledge of the sublimer sciences? It may be suggested in reply, that they would derive their knowledge of astronomy from Noah, of the line of Seth, while the workers in metals, the mechanicians, the children of Cain, had perished in the deluge. Josephus not only transmits the traditions of his Hebrew ancestors, but also refers for corroboration to eight ancient writers of other nations whose works are totally lost, as well as to others of whom some fragments remain. These all, he says, asserted that they of the first world lived a thousand years; also, that "God gave the antediluvians such long life, that they might perfect those things which they had invented in astronomy." As the great year or period of 600 years. This period has been examined and verified by the celebrated French mathematician. Cassini, who gives it as his opinion that nothing but the observation of a life of that duration could have sufficed to its discovery. From Noah the Egyptians and the Chinese would derive their early scientific knowledge, as would those others of his descendants who are found to possess it. Montucla, another well-known mathematician and astronomer, attributes the origin of astronomy to the antediluvians. Cassini thus commences his History of Astronomy: "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." He refers to Philo for the assertion that "Terah, the father of Abraham, who lived more than a hundred years with Noah, had much studied astronomy, and taught it to Abraham," who is said by Josephus to have taught it to the Egyptians. That people, however, had probably from their ancestor Noah the same knowledge of it which Sir Wm. Jones considers all the early nations possessed. Abraham may have added the superior science which all antiquity attributes to the Chaldeans. Bailly and others have asserted that astronomy must have been invented when the summer solstice was in the first degree of Virgo, and that the solar and lunar zodiacs were of a similar antiquity. This would have been about 4000 years before the Christian era. They suppose this science to have originated with an ancient and highly civilized people, who lived at that time in about lat. 40o, and that they were swept away by some sudden destruction, leaving, however, traces of their knowledge behind them. This people may have been the antediluvians, and their destruction the flood. Bailly attributes the invention of both zodiacs to Hermes. Hermes is said by Manetho to be antediluvian.

Equally ancient authority may be derived from the book of Job, in which is found Mazzaroth, the constellations (the twelve signs according to the margin of the English Bible), with names of stars still to be traced among those now in use. Jobab, in Genesis 10:29, third in descent from Eber, is by some supposed to be Job, living before the time of Abraham, who was the sixth from their common ancestor. If so, the call of Abraham being about 1980 BC, the time of Job would not be later than 2000 BC, approaching to that of the Chinese and Babylonish records. The book of Job speaks of Ash, the assembled, still to be traced in Ursa Major; Chima, the accumulated, mentioned by Aben Ezra; and Chesil, the bound, at the foot of Orion. The voice from heaven superadded Mazzaroth, the separated, set apart, divided, as the signs in the circle of the zodiac, the constellations in the starry heavens.

The English Version, Septuagint, and Vulgate thus render these words:-

JOB 9:9   JOB 38:31, 32
Heb. E. V. Sept. Vulg.   Heb. E. V. Sept. Vulg.
Ash, Arcturus, Pleiades, Arcturus.   Chima, Pleiades, Pleiades, Pleiades.
Chima, Pleiades, Arcturus, Hyades.   Chesil, Orion, Orion, Arcturus.
Chesil, Orion, Hesperus, Orion.   Ash, Arcturus, Hesperus, Vesperus.
  Mazzaroth, Mazzaroth, Mazzaroth, Lucifer.

Hadri Teman, the chambers of the south, chapter 9, seems equivalent to Mazzaroth, chapter 38. The ancient translations, as if by tradition, refer all these names to stars, but seem quite uncertain as to what stars they mean. The English version follows sometimes the one, sometimes the other, sometimes neither.

If, as some have thought, the book of Job was brought by Moses from the land of Midian, it must have been Job's own relation of his trials, either left by him in writing, or orally transmitted as other ancient poems have been. As it contains prophecies of the coming Redeemer, it must have been composed under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Moses is supposed to have prefixed the two first chapters and added the last. The difference in the style of those three chapters from the rest, and its likeness to that of the narrative parts of the Pentateuch, has been pointed out. The highly poetical style of the intermediate part of the book of Job does not resemble that of the sublime and imaginative song of Moses. The difference may be perceived even in translations, much more in the originals.

Whatever age is assigned to the book, it will be seen that these names are mentioned as of familiar objects, great works of God, which He alone can bring forth in their season. They were from of old, ancient even when spoken of in this most ancient record.

Sir W. Drummond writes in 1824: "The fact is certain, that at some remote period there were mathematicians and astronomers who knew that the sun is in the centre of our system, and that the earth, itself a planet, revolves round it," &c. He refers to his Essay on the Science of the Egyptians and Chaldeans for his authorities. He also says: "Origen tells us that it was asserted in the book of Enoch, that in the time of that patriarch the constellations were already named and divided." Origen is thought to allude to a book of Enoch, not that now known as such.

El Macinus, Abulfaragius, and other Arabic writers call Enoch Edris, or the glorious, saying he was skilled in astronomy and other sciences, and that he was the same with Hermes Trismegistus. The Jews (as in the Targum of Jonathan) call him the great scribe, and say that he was the first who composed books of astronomy. So Eupolemus, who says he was the first inventor of astrology, and not the Egyptians.

Ricciolus thought the ancient Arab names of stars and constellations were antediluvian.

Albumazer refers for the ancient Persian sphere to the two Hermes and Ascalius. Hermes, meaning great, Ascalius, the skilful, are probably only epithets: and on the Arab authority, Enoch may be meant by "the first Hermes" to whom ancient writers so often attribute the origin of human science.

Albumazer, describing Virgo, says that the Persians, Chaldeans, and Egyptians all agree as to the figure of the young woman (puella, maiden) holding an infant, and also refers for it to "two of the name of Hermes."

Mantho is referred to as saying the first Hermes was antediluvian. A work called Pimander is attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, in which the zodiac is called a tabernacle (Psa 19). If Pi is taken as the Egyptian article, Mander may mean by its primitive root, devoted, consecrated: a religious work.

It is said by Achilles Tatius, that the Egyptian and Chaldean signs were the same as every where else, but differently named.

Dupuis, tracing all mythologies to the constellations, says, "All astronomers agree that the origin of astronomy is not to be found in history."

Bailly says, "The Persians in their books assert, that in remote periods four stars were so placed as to form the four colures." They are considered to be Al Debaran in Taurus, Regulus in Leo, Antares in Scorpio, and Fom al Haut in the Southern Fish, in Aquarius. Humboldt adds, "These four, called royal stars, are celebrated throughout Asia." This position of the colures could only be in antediluvian times.

In a modern astronomical work, "The Orbs of Heaven," it is said, "Allusions to the constellations of the zodiac in the old Hebrew Scriptures, and in the works of all ancient writers, sufficiently attest their extreme antiquity. From these allusions may be corroborated many of their forms as delineated on Egyptian, Assyrian, and Indian monuments. The most ancient are those of the Hebrew Scriptures."

"When Virgil says, The white bull with golden horns opens the year, this not being true in his day, must be the record of an ancient tradition that once it did so, as it had done 4000 years before his time."

"Eratosthenes, the Greek philosopher who accompanied Alexander in his Eastern conquests, sent to Aristotle a series of observations made at Babylon nineteen centuries before that time." This date remounts to the time of Noah, whether according to the Jewish or modern chronology.

Thatles and Pythagoras were both acquainted with the Saros or sacred period of the Chaldees. Both were instructed by the Chaldeans. Ptolemy afterwards used the calculations of the Chaldeans. Saros is root, foundation, in Job 28:9.

Mrs. Somerville says, "La Place disputes the antiquity of the Indian lunar tables," but adds, "Every circumstance concurs in showing that astronomy was cultivated in the highest ages of antiquity."

Sir W. Drummond, in his Essay on the Zodiacs of Esne and Dendera, says of these zodiacs, "It seems generally agreed that they represent the havens at the commencement of a Sothaic period (1460 years), which might be 2782 BC." These temples are now known to have been built about the Christian era; but the zodiacs, like our own, might have been of much earlier date. That now in use is as we have it from Ptolemy. The Sothaic period would thus commence during the antediluvian studies of astronomy attributed to the family of Seth, from whom it might take its name.

In the planisphere of Dendera, a headless figure, apparently a horse, is placed over Aquarius, marking the place of the ascending node. The winter solstice was in that sign before and after the time usually assigned to the deluge. A figure of Osiris, or the sun, standing on the figure of Capricorn, would seem intended to show that the precession of the equinoxes had removed the solstice thither.

In these, as in other ancient monuments, Egyptian and Oriental, the order of the signs is that which Ptolemy (AD 150) transmits from Hipparchus (130 BC) as of unquestioned authority, unknown origin, and unsearchable antiquity. As such it has descended to us. Aries has always and every where been the first of the signs: no natural cause can be alleged why it should have been so. Not till about the time of the Christian era did equinox or solstice take place in that sign.

The Sabian Arabs began their year from Aries. The Chinese, and other ancient nations who began their year from Aquarius, still reckoned Aries the first of the signs: there, too, the Lunar Zodiacs always commenced.

Astronomy never having been known to exist without the signs, testimonies to the antiquity of the science include that of these emblems. Still some more direct evidence may be adduced.

Montucla refers to Malalas as saying that "Seth himself divided the sky into constellations."

The Chinese emperor Yao, BC 2317, divided the twelve signs by the twenty-eight mansions of the moon.

It is said by Dupuis that the Persian magi made much use of the signs.

Jewish writers are agreed that the tribes of Israel carried the twelve signs on their standards in the wilderness; also, that Jacob in his farewell blessing speaks of them in connexion with those sons whose descendants so bore them.

It is well known that the ancient tribes of Arabia called themselves by the names of various constellations, probably after the example of their brethren of Israel. In course of time these were idolatrously worshipped. Mahomet abolished the idolatry; but some of the tribes still call themselves by those names.

As in the divinely ordained cherubic forms there was the face of a man, the Sethites would not scruple to include human figures in the constellations. When the prohibition in the second commandment was issued, it has been thought that the Jews discontinued them, substituting the palm-branch in Gemini, the ear of corn in Virgo, the bow and arrow in Sagittarius, the vase in Aquarius. It is well known that the ancient Arabs did so, assigning as a reason the command from Sinai. Among the Brahmans and other easterns who appear to have learnt from them, this scruple did not exist. If they were, as is supposed, the descendants of Abraham by Keturah, it should seem not to have been known to the astronomy of that patriarch, who, deriving the science through Noah, from the family of Seth, appears to have followed the original Sethite delineations, in the form of the man typifying the human nature of the Messiah, and the woman typifying His Church. The Christian Arabs in later times are said to have used the figure of the woman and the infant.

"It is certain that the Chaldeans knew the mean motions of the moon with great exactness. Ptolemy refers often to them by the name of Chaldeans, Aristotle by that of Babylonians" (Cosmos).

Humboldt says, "The Greek zodiac was probably taken from the Dodecatamora of the Chaldeans," and also attributes to the Arabian astronomy a Chaldean origin.

It is supposed that Hipparchus and Ptolemy followed the Greek sphere. Clemens Alexandrinus quotes from an ancient author, that "Chiron delineated the scheme of heaven." This does not imply that he invented, but that he drew a plan or map of it. Sir Isaac Newton considers Chiron to have been a great astronomer. He places him about 937 BC, but others much earlier. Cleostratus, a Greek philosopher, 536 BC, wrote concerning the constellations, particularly Aries and Sagittarius; but what, is not known.

As the movements of the sun, moon, and planets have always been described by their position in the zodiac, the ancient observations of the Chinese and Chaldeans establish the coeval antiquity of the signs.

It may be asked on what authority the figures of the constellations are drawn as we now have them. The earliest enumerations of the stars speak of them as this in the head, that in the shoulder, body, arm, leg, or foot, thus determining their positions. Some of these stars are reckoned twice over, as El Nath, once in the horn of Taurus, again in the heel of Auriga, thus determining their connexion. They are thus distinguished by Hipparchus, BC 150, and again by Ulugh Beigh, AD 1420.

F. Bailly says, "The origin of astronomy ascends beyond the period of authentic history"; Smythe, that "there can be little doubt that astronomy was nearly coeval with the world" (Celest. Cyc.)


Prophecies corresponding in word or type with the figures and the names ARIES
Texts where the word or its root is used in this sense in the Hebrew Bible Hebrew Roots
Gen 22:8 Hebrew name, Taleh, the lamb Isa 40:11 l+
Exo 4:13 sent forth cast 1 Sam 20:33 l+
Isa 16:1 Arabic, Al Hamal, the sheep, gentle, merciful Gen 19:16 lmx
Gen 4:4 Syriac, Amroo, the lamb. Syr. NT John 1:29 Ezra 6:9 rm)
Rev 5:6 Coptic, Tametouris Ammon, reign of Ammon
Gen 22:13 Greek, Krios, the ram. Sept. lamb, Gen 22:13 Deut 32:14 rk
Hosea 6:3 Isa 16:1
Isa 61:1
Micah 5:2
Latin, Aries, the ram. Coming forth, Gen 22:13, Vulg. goeth Job 34:8 xr)
Names in the Sign
Isa 27:1
Rev 20:2
Heb., Mesartim, the bound, or binding Gen 49:11 rs)
Psa 22:16 Arab., b Al Sheratan, the bruised, wounded cut Lev 19:28 +r#
Dan 9:26   — a El Nath, or El Natik, wounded, slain cut Lev 8:20 xtn
Isa 53:7, 6:1 Heb., Shalisha, the triangle over the head of Aries, exalted, chief Psa 30:1 #l#
Num 24:7 captains 1 Kings 9:22
Isa 52:13 Arab., a Ras al Thalitha, head of the triangle head Gen 49:26 #)r
Psa 118:22 Gr., Deltoton, triangle, high (Arab., lifted up) drew up Exo 2:16 hld
First Decan
Cassiopeia, The Throned Woman
Psa 45:9
1 Sam 2:8
Heb., Cassiopeia, the enthroned, beautiful throne 1 Sam 2:8 )sk
    beauty Psa 45:11 hpy
 — a Shedar, the freed liberty Isa 61:1 rd
Isa 60:21  — Caph, the branch, in the hand Job 15:23 Pk
  Chald. and Arab., Dat al Cursa, the set, enthroned Dan 5:20 )srb
Arab., Ruchba, the enthroned, or seated Jer 22:4 bkr
Second Decan
CETUS, The Sea-monster, Leviathan, the bound Serpent
Psa 104:25 twyx
Isa 27:1 Ntywl
Isa 27:1 Heb., a Menkar, the bound or chained enemy chain Dan 5:7 Knm
  enemy Psa 139:20 r(
  — Mira, the changeable star in the neck, the rebel Hosea 13:16 hrm
Rev 20:2   — b Diphda, overthrown thrust down Job 32:13 Pdn
Third Decan
PERSEUS, an armed man holding a head with serpents
Psa 2:9
Psa 72:4
Heb., Perseus, the breaker Micah 2:13 Crp
Micah 2:13   — Athik, who breaks Judg 16:9 qtn
    — a Mirfak, who assists leaning on Song 8:5 qpr
Arab., g Al Genib, who carries away Job 21:18 bng
Pers., Bershaush, as Perseus
In the Head, carried by Perseus
Gen 3:15
Isa 27:1
Heb., Medusa, the trodden under foot Job 39:15 h#d
Psa 68:21   — Rosh Satan, the head of the enemy head Psa 74:14 #)r
    — Al Oneh, the subdued, weakened Psa 102:23 hn(
Rom 16:20 Arab., Al Ghoul, the evil spirit wicked Job 18:21 lw(
The changeable Star in the Head
  Arab., b Al Gol, coming and going, rolling round (Heb., head) rolled Gen 29:10 ln
  Num 1:2 tlgln

The Ram or Lamb is figured as the first sign wherever sheep are found. In some parts of India an animal like a small dog is substituted; in others, an antelope; in Mexico, a white rabbit, called "the emblem of suffering innocence." Aratus places the triangle over the head of Aries. Cetus, in Greek fable, was the enemy of Andromeda; Perseus, the breaker of her bonds.


Prophecies corresponding in word or type with the figures and the names TAURUS,
Texts where the word or its root is used in this sense in the Hebrew Bible Hebrew Roots
Deut 33:17 Hebrew name, Shur, the Bull, coming bullock Deut 33:17 rw#
Gen 22:17 Arabic, Al Thaur, the same. ruling step Job 31:7 r#)
Num 24:8,19 Syriac, the same. rule Isa 32:1 r#
Psa 72:2,8 Coptic, Isis, who saves mightily salvation Hab 3:13 (#y
Micah 5:2   — Apis, who cometh pass Exo 12:23 xsp
    — Station of Horus, coming wayfaring 2 Sam 12:4 xr)
2 Sam 23:3,4 Greek, Tauros, the Bull. Sept. Deut 33:17
  Latin, Taurus, the same. Vulg. the same
Names in the Sign
  Heb., Chima, the heap, accumulation (Arab.). Pleiades Job 9:9 hmyk
Gen 49:10   — Pleiades, congregation of the judge, or ruler Lev 4:13 hd(
  Job 31:11 llp
Psa 22:22   — Hyades, the congregated congregation Num 16:3 hd(
Psa 89:5
Psa 107:32
  — Palilicium, belonging to the judge judge Job 31:11 lylp
Isa 60:5-7 Arab., Wasat, centre, or foundation Psa 11:3 t#
    — Al Thuraiya, the abundance Isa 15:7 rty
Lat., Vergiliae, the centre (Arab. vertex) turned on, rolled round Gen 29:10 lg
Names of Stars in the Sign
  Chald., a Al Debaran, the leader, governor counsellor Dan 3:24 rbd
subduing Psa 47:3
Dan 9:26 Arab., b El Nath, in the northern horn, as in Aries
    — h Al Cyone, in the Pleiades, the centre base 1 Kings 7:29,30
foundation Psa 104:5 Nyk
established Psa 89:38
First Decan
ORION, a human figure walking
Micah 5:2 Heb., Orion, coming forth, as light Gen 1:17 ry)
  Isa 60:1
Hab 2:3
Heb 10:37
Arab., Al Giauza, the branch stem Isa 11:1 (zg
Isa 60:1   — Al Gebor, the mighty Psa 24:8 rb
    — Al Mirzam, the prince, the ruler Psa 2:2 Nzr
  — Al Nagjed, the prince Dan 9:26 dgn
  — d Al Nitak, the wounded cut Lev 1:6 xtg
  — a Betelguez, coming, Mal 3:2, of the branch stock Isa 40:24 (zg
  — b Rigol, the foot, or who treadeth under foot Job 39:15 lgr
Psa 91:13   — Al Rai, the bruising bruise Dan 2:40 (r
    — g Bellatrix, hastily coming haste Ezra 4:23 lhb
treadeth Job 9:8 Krd
  — d Mintaka, dividing, the belt cut Lev 8:20 xtn
Chald., Heka, coming brought Ezra 6:5 Kh
  — Niphla, the mighty giants Gen 6:4 lpn
Heb., Meissa, coming forth Micah 1:3 )cy
  — Nux, the strong Psa 24:8 z(
  — Thabit, treading on (Arab.) kick 1 Sam 2:29 +(b
Gen 3:15   — k Saiph, in the foot, bruised Gen 3:15 P#
    — Chesil, bound together, the nebula Constellations Isa 13:10 lsk
Gr., Orion, anciently Oarion. Sept. Job 38:31
Lat., Orion. Vulg. Job 9:9
Second Decan
Isa 66:12
Eze 47:9
Heb., Eridanus, river of the judge, or ruler streams Isa 33:21 r)y
  judge Gen 15:14 Nd
Gen 49:16   — Cursa, bent down stoopeth Isa 46:1 srq
Psa 46:4   — a Achernar, after part of the river after Gen 33:2 rx)
  river Gen 2:10 rhn
Rev 22:1   — Phaet, mouth (of the river) Exo 4:11 hp
    — Theemin, the water Gen 1:6 My
  — Ozha, the going forth Gen 2:10 )cy
Isa 41:18 Arab., Zourak, flowing sprinkle Lev 1:5 qrz
Third Decan
AURIGA, a human figure holding a goat
Psa 23:1
Psa 80:1
Isa 40:11
Heb., Auriga, the shepherd Isa 40:11 (r
  Arab., Aiyuk, wounded in the foot lame 2 Sam 4:4 hbn
Micah 5:4   — El Nath, wounded in the heel, also reckoned in the horn of Taurus, as in Aries cut Lev 8:20 xtn
Eze 34:23   — Maaz, flock of goats Lev 16:10 z(
  Chald., Menkalinon, band or chain of the goats, or ewes chain Dan 5:7 Knm
John 10:4,11 hinds 2 Sam 22:34 ly)
  Heb., Gedi, the kids (following Auriga) Song 1:8 ydn
  — Alioth, she-goat, or ewe Psa 78:71 tl(
Lat., a Capella, the she-goat (capra), atonement Lev 16:10 rpb

If the flatterers of Nimrod (like those of Napoleon I) tried to devote the stars of Orion to his glory, still it will be seen that in the names in the constellation there is no trace of that of the man, while the wounded, the bruised, or the branch, could not apply to Nimrod. Of the Latin Auriga, which in Hebrew is the shepherd, it may be asked, Why should a charioteer carry a goat and be followed by kids? Their band or leash may have suggested reins.


  • Hebrew, Buxtorf's Rabbinical Lexicon, &c.
  • Arabic, Freytag's Arabic Lexicon, Ulugh Beigh, &c.
  • Syriac, Hyde's Syntagma and Comment. &c.
  • Coptic, Montucla, Hist. des Mathematiques, from Ulugh Beigh.
  • Greek, Aratus, Ptolemy, &c.
  • Latin, Cicero, Virgil, Ovid, &c.


    Hyde de Vet. Pers. Rel. for Chaldee, Persian, and other names; also for Rosh Satan, Al Oneh, and Auriga, from Aben Ezra. Arabic names of stars are from Ulugh Beigh, and catalogues in various other astronomical works, in which, though the spelling is frequently corrupted, the primitive root is still evident. Greek names may be found in Hesiod and Homer, also in Aratus, who lived about 300 BC. St. Paul is supposed to quote from his poem on Astronomy, Acts 17:28. Latin, in Cicero, Hyginus, Macrobius, and the poets. The book of Job contains the three most ancient names: Ash, Chima, and Chesil. Aben Ezra has said that Ash is the Great Bear, where the word is still found in Benet Naish. He has also said that Chima and Chesil were opposite constellations. The Pleiades and Orion are on opposite sides of the ecliptic and equator. The Septuagint and Vulgate, in Job 9:9 and 38:32, seem to recognize Chima as the Pleiades, and Chesil as Orion. Chesil is still found at the foot of Orion, as in Adam's globes. As it occurs in Isaiah 13:10 in the plural, it cannot apply to the figure Orion, of which there is only one, but may well mean the Nebulae, of which there are many. The Arabic name Wasat, the centre, transmitted by Ulugh Beigh as of the Pleiades, and Al Cyone, the ancient Greek name of their brightest star, both indicate primeval knowledge of the late announcement of modern science, that in this group is the centre round which circles the galaxy or astral system to which our sun belongs. (See Orbs of Heaven, &c.)

    AD 1252, an astronomical congress was held at Toledo, under Alfonso, king of Castile, in which a Jewish rabbin, Isaac Hazen, took an important part. He is spoken of by Cornelius Agrippa as a great astronomer. About that time Rabbi Judas interpreted the treatise in which Avicenna had named the 1022 fixed stars, till then unknown to our western parts. Avicenna was an Arab physician at Bagdad, AD 1030.

    On Adam's large globes names will be found which are omitted on the more recent. Many are there given in Arabic characters, from which those misspelt in modern catalogues may be corrected, as also from Ulugh Beigh.

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