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 33:32





"A few ideas differently combined form all the objects of sense, as the letters of the alphabet form words." - Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge.

"Names are pictures of things, each letter having some resemblance to the thing named." - Plato in Cratylus.

The words given as names to the Hebrew alphabet may furnish examples, each letter contributing an idea, and the name thus defining the object.

Constellations NOUN,
Name of the figure of the Letter.
Of the action expressed.
Reference to texts where the root is so used.
Taurus ) Aleph, Bull, Psa 8:7 To Lead Gen 35:15
Gemini b Beth, House, Gen 7:1 To Contain Gen 2:1
Cancer, g Gimel, Camel, Gen 24:11 To Recompense Isa 35:4
Leo d Daleth, Door, Gen 19:6 To Lift Amos 6:3
Virgo h He, Being, Gen 1:28 To Be Exo 3:14
Libra w Vau, Hook, Exo 27:10 To Join Exo 27:10
Scorpio z Zain, Armour, 1 Kings 22:38 To Encompass 1 Kings 22:38
Sagittarius x Cheth, Animal, Gen 1:30 To Live Gen 3:20
Capricornus + Teth, Slain Victim, Isa 53:7 To Sink Down Psa 9:16
Aquarius y Yod, Hand put forth, Exo 7:19 To Send Out (Arab.) Oba 11
Pisces k Caph, Hand grasping, Exo 4:4 To Hold Exo 33:23
Aries l Lamed, Ox-goad, Judges 3:31 To Teach Deut 4:5
Eridanus, the river m Mem, Water, Gen 7:17 To Expand (Arab.), Multiply Eze 7:11
Southern Fish n Nun, Fish (Syriac) To Lengthen Out Psa 72:7
Band of Pisces s Samech, Band holding up, Psa 71:6 To Sustain Isa 63:5
Pleiades ( Ayin, Eyes, Isa 6:5 To Be Acted On Psa 66:7
mouth of Taurus
p Pe, Mouth, Deut 32:1 To Open Lam 3:38
Orion c Zaddi, Coming onwards, Psa 68:7 To Advance Hab 3:12
Belt of Orion q Koph, Band girding, Isa 3:24 To Bind Isa 3:24
Sirius r Resh, Head, Psa 110:7 To Originate, Be First Psa 118:23
Procyon # Shin, Tooth, Gen 49:12 To Repeat, Be Second 1 Kings 18:34
Southern Cross t Thau, Boundary, Gen 49:26 To Bound, Finish, Limit Psa 78:41

There seems no natural reason for the order in which the letters of the alphabet are placed. The order still generally prevalent appears to be derived from the Hebrew. If this order were taken from the previously existing arrangement of the prophetic types in the constellations, a reason is presented. The names of the Hebrew letters, it will be seen, agree in signification with those of the constellations, of which names or descriptive epithets they are the initials.* Most of the Oriental alphabets are similarly arranged; that the ancient Arabic was so may be seen from the numeral powers of the letters. The invention of letters is attributed to the family of Seth by ancient Jewish and Arabic writers,** as well as of the emblems of the sphere.

* "The constellations were formerly denoted by the Hebrew letters, beyond twenty-two to forty-four with two combined, after that, with three; and the letters were instead of animals." (Gaffarelli.)

** References to these authorities may be found in Dr. Gill's Commentary on the Scriptures. These meanings of the names of the letters generally agree with those in Gaffarelli, Curios. Lit., who refers to Reuchlin and Bellarmine, also to Rab. Kapol, mentioned by Southey as having written on the "Astral Alphabet," and said by Gaffarelli to have been the greatest Jewish astronomer.

It is well known that the ancient Jews distinguished the Twelve Signs by the twelve first letters of their alphabet. They are said to have applied the remaining letters to other constellations, probably to those which, as is shown above, agreed with them in meanings and initials. The ancient Persians also marked the Twelve Signs with the twelve first letters: as the modern Persians are said to do. The sixteen Runic characters are said to be named after constellations, and dedicated to divinities.


The Runic character or Runes have sufficient resemblance to the Samaritan and other ancient Oriental alphabets to indicate that they were derived from a common original. Great antiquity is attributed to them. Mallet shows that they were used by northern poets long before the Christian Era. By these ancient authorities they were said to have been invented by Odin. Odin was a title of dignity, as Don in modern times; it was applied to the Supreme Deity from the earliest ages. It was assumed by Sigge, hero, conqueror, and bard; about 70 BC he introduced and used the Runes, and to him the invention is sometimes ascribed; but Olaus Rudbeck believed them to have been communicated by Magog, son of Japheth, to Tuisco, the German chief, about AM 1800. Mallet thinks the name Runes derived from an ancient Gothic word, to cut; but from their admitted antiquity and their use as the vehicle of poetry, it is more probably from ranah or runah, Heb. and Arab, to sing, as in Job 38:7.



It is acknowledged that the Jews brought this beautiful character back with them from the Babylonish captivity, previous to which they seemed, during the reigns of the Kings of Judah, to have used, on their coins at least, a character more nearly resembling the Samaritan. In the remains of the Babylonish empire, in which science and art were cultivated from the earliest period of its settlement, a very different character is now found and read, without any record of its origin other than the universal tradition that Seth was the inventor of alphabetic characters. From Seth, through Noah and Abraham, it seems very easy to trace their existence with the Hebrews, and among all the other children of Noah. In their migrations some tribes perverted, and many finally lost, this most precious invention. The Hebrews even are said greatly to have deteriorated it; whether before or after the time of Moses there appears no decisive evidence. If the original character were used by Moses, if it were traced on the tables of the law, still it is possible that in the sacred books alone it remained in perfection; their ordinary character had perhaps the same resemblance to it that the writing of the illiterate in this country may have to our printing type.

Every where the first character preserves some attempt to represent the horned head of the Bull, the Leader, the Aleph, (the trace of whose name still remains to us in the name of the chief of beasts, the elephant,) though in the Samaritan and Western alphabets it is inverted. The ( of the Hebrew, the O of many other languages, is still to be traced in the name of the eyes, and in the picture which the letter presents of the organ of sight, the Hebrew representing both eyes, most other alphabets only one, either full as O in the Jewish coins, or in profile, as in the Samaritan. The Syriac and modern Arabic, being confessedly more recent inventions or adaptations, like our shorthand, cannot be appealed to as any authority, though their Aleph may represent one horn, their O or Ayin, one eye, as does our European O. In the square characters each is an abbreviated picture of the object from which it takes its name. The Rabbins have preserved the tradition that such was their intention. In the lapse of centuries, and the corruption of Hebrew learning into Talmudical fables, it is possible some slight change has taken place; they have, however, preserved the key that will unlock all; they refer to an Astral Alphabet, perverted indeed to the service of astrology, but pointing to the true origin of the Ancient Alphabet. In some cases, as in the Irish, the wandering tribe had apparently lost all but the tradition that the sounds of the human voice had once been designated by certain marks, and had, therefore, to re-invent them for themselves, and a weak invention we find they lighted on. In Irish it is said to be initial letters of the names of the trees of the country. The Ogham and the Runic, &c., are imperfect substitutes for the original arrangement of the leading ideas of the human mind under the forms of visible objects embodying them, which we find in the ancient or Hebrew character. That those visible objects had previously been selected to express ideas of the same nature in the twelve signs of the Zodiac and ten other constellations closely connected with them, will be seen in the preceding table.*

* The Beth of early alphabets seems to represent a booth; in later ones, as our own, a two-storied house, B; or it might be, a double-roofed one only.

The more nearly any alphabetic character approaches to the picture of the original objects from which the letters are named, the more ancient it should seem to be. If Seth be, as tradition has called him, the father of letters, and the author of the square character, whether preserved by the Hebrews or the Chaldeans, its portraits of the things it names are easily to be accounted for. Adam had been divinely incited to name visible objects by names conveying the ideas those objects were fitted to convey, as may be seen by the ancient Hebrew names preserved in the early books of Scripture.

If the Sinaitic inscriptions be coeval with the Exodus, they show that some letters resembling those of the square character were then used perhaps by that "mixed multitude" who went up with Israel out of Egypt. Since the Babylonish arrow-headed or cuneiform character has been read, all idea of the Jews having learnt the square character in Babylon may be given up.


Sir H. Rawlinson now says that even that character has been originally pictorial; this is not more difficult to imagine than that our modern English character was such, which nevertheless may be shown to be the case. While the Hebrew letter Aleph, ) was always held to represent the head of a Bull, in most languages the likeness is traceable; the European A is the head and horns inverted. One of the Egyptian hieroglyphics read as A is the head of Apis, the Bull, with the globe between the horns.


        Texts where so used.
) Aleph Significat viam, sive institutionem A way, or a beginning* Job 33:33
b Beth Denotat domum A house Job 1:13
g Gimel Retributionem Retribution Gen 50:15
d Daleth Ostium A door Gen 19:6
h He Demonstrationem Demonstration Gen 47:23
w Vau Uncinum retortum A nail bent back Exo 26:32
z Zain Arma Armour 1 Kings 22:38
x Heth or Cheth Terrorem Terror Gen 35:5
+ Teth Declinationem Declination Exo 15:4
y Yod Confessionem laudis Confession of praise Gen 29:35
k Caph Volam Hollow hand Gen 40:11
l Lamed Doctrinam Doctrine Deut 4:1
m Mem Aquas Water Gen 1:6
n Nun Filiationem Filiation Gen 21:23
s Samech Oppositionem Opposition Eze 24:2
( Ayin Oculum An eye Num 14:14
p Pe Os A mouth Exo 4:10
c Tzaddi Latera Sides Gen 6:16
q Koph Circuitum A circuit Psa 19:6
r Resh Paupertatem Poverty Prov 10:15
# Shin Dentem A tooth Exo 21:24
t Thau Signum A sign Eze 9:4

* Aleph is translated "teach," as leading in the way.

Somewhat of a symbolical and even a sacred character seems given to the alphabet by the use made of the allusion to Alpha and Omega in the Apocalypse. Alpha is plainly the Aleph of the original alphabet, as in the ancient Oriental alphabets, the leader, chief, first, the beginning. The Omega of the Greeks supplied the place of Thau, the last letter of the ancient series, originally figures as a cross, like our modern T, t. The word Thau means in those dialects a mark, as in Ezekiel 9:4; a boundary, as in Genesis 49:26. By dropping the prefix Th, it gives the sound of Omega. The Arabic sense of the word Thau is a mark in the form of a cross, with which the Arabs marked their animals.

The first and last letters being thus used symbolically in Scripture, it seems probable that every intermediate letter had some similar purport, agreeing with that of the constellation to which they belong.

Faber says that some of the ancient Rabbins thought the present Hebrew character was the original, called Assurith, "blessed," because God wrote in it the tables of the law. The Jews could not have adopted it from the Chaldeans; for at Babylon, as in Assyria, the arrow-headed character appears to have been exclusively used. Some Arabic writers attribute the invention of the Hebrew character to Seth, as well as many of the ancient Jews.

Plato (in Cratylus) seems to recognize the fact that each letter conveys an idea, as that L is the opposite of hardness, R a rushing on, motion, and that i attenuates, also saying that "a name as well as a painting is an imitation."

In the Hebrew the mother-vowels and other serviles give the ideas in most frequent requisition. The absence of the distinction between servile and radical confuses Plato's argument as to the Greek. In Arabic the distinction is recognized, though apparently seldom mentioned in grammars. It is traceable, with few variations, in all languages, as in English* the vowels and the letters L, M, N, S, T, Y are serviles. The ideas conveyed by the Hebrew serviles, when used as serviles, may be thus expressed. Aleph originates, Beth incloses, He is, Vau connects, Yod individualizes, Caph grasps, Lamed transfers, passes on, Mem adds, increases, Nun diminishes, Shin points out what follows, Thau bounds, confines.

* Athenaeum, August, 1856. Mr. Nasmyth, speaking of a connexion between the Assyrian and English alphabets, Dr. Hincks said it was established that A was the head of a bull and T a cross; Rawlinson said the cuneiform character was a series of pictures. B was a house, and in the Hamite character represented by a square. Barsip, also Hamite, probably "weedy lake." May it not rather be Bars sippa, the tower of the lip, the confusion of the lip, there taking place. Meat, what is eaten, is an instance of m being servile in English.

It is said by Alfred Jones on proper names: "The Jews considered Enoch as the inventor of letters, and that Noah had in the ark a book of 'visions and prophecies' of Enoch."

Names are not mere arbitrary combinations of letters. In the original language they expressed the nature of their subject, an idea by each letter. The names recorded in the earliest chapters of Genesis prove that the first given names were intended to describe that to which they were given. Cadmus is said to have brought sixteen letters from Phoenicia, probably Hebrew consonants, omitting the Shin, sh, a sound unknown to Greece. To Cadmus, whose name means the man of the East, it is confessed Europe owes the alphabet. In the ancient Cufic, as in the modern Arabic, and in the Greek and Roman characters, some resemblance may be traced to the Hebrew and Samaritan.

Silvestre de Sacy places the existence of the Arabic alphabet now in use two hundred years earlier than the usual date, about 325 of the Hegira. "The passage from the Cufic to the Neshki seems not to have been sudden, and before the Cufic was a character resembling both." Forster infers that the Neshki or modern Arabic character, like the Hamayarite, belonged to a prior and primitive alphabet, and that selection, not invention, was the office of alphabet-makers of after times. - Forster's One Primitive Language. The Hamayarites are said to have had an alphabetic character as early as the time of Job. (Univ. Hist.)

Bonomi says that Rawlinson is of opinion that "all the signs of Assyrian inscriptions had once a syllabic value, as the names of the objects they represented, but to have been subsequently used, usually in the initial articulation, to express a mere portion of a syllable; also, that the Babylonian and Assyrian languages are decidedly Semitic." (Bonomi's Nineveh.)

Col. Mure considers the Greek alphabet* of Phoenician Semitic origin, as proved by the analogy of the four first letters with Aleph, Beth, Gimel, Daleth. (Ancient Greek Language and Literature.)

* Forster's One Prim. Lang. says, "The Celtiberian alphabet resembles the Semitic." The alphabet of man, like his language and his religion, was originally one.



This remarkable constellation is said to suggest to every one the idea of a cross, particularly when in attaining the meridian its upper and lower star are perpendicularly on it. Though now no longer visible in the north temperate zone, it was seen there from the time of Adam and Seth to that of the Christian era. It seems impossible that a constellation of such brilliancy and distinctness should have been omitted in the early arrangement of the emblems, though gradually declining in altitude from a considerable elevation, till the topmost star disappeared under the horizon of the latitude of Jerusalem, about the time of the awful sacrifice it prefigured. This fact, and this alone, reasonably accounts for the ancient tradition, that whenever the south polar constellation should be discovered, it would be found to be in the form of a cross (Dupuis, &c.). The ancient Persians celebrated a feast of the cross a few days before the sun entered Aries, when this constellation would be brilliant among the stars of night. Its disappearance may be thus briefly explained. Owing to the greater thickness of the earth at the equator, that part of the earth comes every year a little sooner to what are called the equinoxes, the points where the ecliptic crosses the equator; consequently the north pole moves every year a little farther on in the circle it describes in the northern sky. Thus it has gradually receded from the Southern Cross. This movement being known to be about 50" in a year, the place of the stars in ancient times can be ascertained by it (Humboldt's Cosmos, Herschel, &c.).

It is well known that the cross was a sacred emblem in the Egyptian mythology. The Arabians and Indians also, before the coming of Christ, venerated this emblem. There is in the British Museum a large silvery cross, taken from the mummy of an Egyptian priest. Sozomenes, AD 443, relates that "there was found in the temple of Serapis the sign of the cross, surrounded by hieroglyphics, which meant the life to come." The last letter in the Hebrew alphabet, thau, was originally in the form of a cross; and its name means boundary, limit, finishing (as in Genesis 49:26), as of the Messiah's work, as when He said, "It is finished."

When this constellation began to sink below the horizon in the north temperate zone, and its form was no longer apparent, its memory seems there to have been lost, and its place among the decans to have been supplied by the division of some other emblem. Ptolemy substituted the half-horse, to make up the number of the constellations to forty-eight: an injudicious contrivance still preserved on our globes. Others, by reckoning as separate constellations the Pleaides and Southern Crown, and making the number forty-nine or more, threw into confusion the original arrangement of three decans to each sign.

Dante, who was a great astronomer as well as poet, supposes himself at the antipodes of Jerusalem, and describes what he would have certainly seen there, these "four stars never beheld but by the early race of man." Humboldt conjectures he had seen them on Arabian globes: but at the time he wrote southern voyagers had brought the report of them, though as yet they had seen but four.

"In the fourth century the Christian anchorites in the Thebaid would see the Southern Cross at an altitude of 10o." "It will again appear in the northern latitudes, but after the lapse of thousands of years" (Humboldt).

In a recent letter from Australia, a working man writes home with much admiration of the Southern Cross, calling it "our constellation," "the constellation of Australia." May the omen be fulfilled!

Still, it should be borne in mind that even this emblem, so dear to the heart of the Christian, has been, like the brazen serpent of old, made an object of almost idolatrous veneration. That serpent must have been lifted up on a cross, no other form would support it, even as our Lord Himself was lifted up, that whoso looketh on Him may live: but when the people offered incense to it, it must be broken, as Nehushtan (2 Kings 18:4), a mere piece of brass. To this resplendent starry symbol no desecrating honours appear to have been offered. Regarded as a memorial of our faith, it may be very precious to our expatriated brethren, and remind them that the crucified Saviour will be present, according to His promise, where "two or three" of them are gathered together in His name, in those Australian wilds, as He has been to their northern ancestors from whose sky its splendours have so long departed.

From the calculations of modern astronomy we learn that the constellations of our sky, at least the principal ones, if we were transported to the nearest fixed star, would be seen in the same grouping as from the earth. This fact is peculiarly interesting as to the Southern Cross. May not the sacrifice offered on earth upon the cross extend to the universe of starry worlds? it should seem so from what St. Paul says, "Making peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself, by Him, whether things in earth or things in heaven."


"The cross was the symbol of worship of the highest antiquity in Egypt and Syria, said to signify the life to come. Champollion interprets it support, or Saviour." "It is among the ruins of Palenque with a child held up to it in adoration." (Prescott's Mexico.)


Kennicott thought that "instruments of cruelty in their habitations" (Gen 49:5) related prophetically to the cross of Christ: the nails, the scourge, and spear might be included. The cross occurs here as the third decan or accompanying constellation of Libra. On the breastplate of the high priest the name of Levi and the sign Libra appear to have been engraven on the same stone. In the third decan of Libra the Persians, according to Albumazer, had the name Arbedi, one sense of which is "to cover," as in Proverbs 30:22. This might well be derived from the traditionary revelation, that on the cross the charity, the love, the sacrifice of the Redeemer should cover a multitude of sins. The Southern Cross is immediately below the victim, the atoning sacrifice.


Should any one wish to follow, on the modern celestial globe, the position assigned to this constellation in former ages, it will be necessary to reckon back the precession of the equinoxes to the time required, as altering the boundaries of the signs, the position of the colures and of the pole of the earth. While the pole of the ecliptic, in reference to which the stars are divided, is fixed, the pole of the equator has a motion in consequence of that of the equinoxes. About 6000 years since it would point to the brightest star in the tail of the dragon, which must be considered as the pole-star, in trying to rectify the globe for that time. This must be done for N. lat. 36o or thereabouts, which the traces of ancient astronomy have been thought to indicate as that where the earliest observations were made. Such being the situation of the sources of the river Euphrates, this supposition agrees with what is said in Genesis 2 as to the original habitation of mankind, the fountains at least of great rivers apparently not having been altered by the deluge. The Southern Cross will then be found to rise about 16o above the horizon when on the meridian; this altitude gradually lessening, its highest star will be seen to have disappeared from the latitude of Jerusalem about the time of the crucifixion of our Lord.


"In consequence of the precession of the equinoxes the starry heavens are continually changing their aspect from every portion of the earth's surface. The early races of mankind beheld in the North the glorious constellation of the Southern Hemisphere rise before them, which, after remaining long invisible, will again appear in these latitudes after the lapse of thousands of years. At Berlin, and in the northern latitudes, the stars of the Southern Cross, as well as a and b Centauri, are receding more and more from view. The Southern Cross began to become invisible in 52o 30' north latitude, 2900 years before our era. According to Galle it might previously have reached an altitude of more than 10o...I am indebted to the communications of my friend Dr. Galle, by whom Le Verrier's planet was first discovered in the heavens, for all the calculations respecting the visibility of southern stars in northern latitudes." (Humboldt, Cosmos.)

"The constellation of the Southern Cross has acquired a peculiar character of importance from the beginning of the sixteenth century, owing to the religious feelings of Christian navigators and missionaries who have visited the tropical and southern seas, and both the Indies. The four principal stars are mentioned in the Almagest, and were regarded in the time of Adrian and Antoninus Pius as parts of the constellation of the Centaur. At the time of Claudius Ptolemaeus the beautiful star at the base of the Southern Cross had still an altitude of 6o 10' at its meridian passage at Alexandria, whilst in the present day it culminates there several degrees below the horizon. In order, at this time (1847), to see a Crucis at an altitude of 6o 10' it is necessary, taking the refraction into account, to be 10o south of Alexandria in the parallel of 21o 43' north latitude. In the fourth century the Christian anchorites in the Thebaid desert might have seen the Cross at an altitude of 10o. Dante says in the celebrated passage in the Purgatorio:

'Io mi volse a man destra, e posi mente
All' altro polo, e vidi quattro stelle,
Non viste mai fuor ch' alla prima gente.'

And Amerigo Vespucci, who at the aspect of the starry skies of the South, first called to mind this passage on his third voyage, boasted that he now looked on the four stars never seen till then by any but the first human race."

This constellation is mentioned by Christian missionaries and navigators as "a wonderful cross more glorious than all the constellations in the heavens."

Acosta mentions that in the Spanish settlements of tropical America the first settlers were accustomed, as is now done, to use the Southern Cross as a celestial clock, reckoning the hour from its vertical or inclined position.

Humboldt says, "the Persian, Kaswini, and other Mahomedan astronomers took pains to discover crosses in the Dolphin and the Dragon." This has probably been to account for the feast of the Cross observed in ancient Persia.

Humboldt says of the Divina Commedia, "The philosophical and religious mysticism which vivifies the grand composition of Dante assigns to all objects besides their real existence an ideal one, it seems almost as if we beheld two worlds reflected in one another." "The ideal world is a free creation of the soul, the product of poetic inspiration."



Prophecies &c., corresponding with the names
Texts where the word is used in this sense in the Hebrew Bible Hebrew Roots
Gen 1:14
Mal 4:2
Heb., Shemish, minister (as of light) sun Isa 60:20 #m#
Rom 15:8
Heb 8:2
Heb., (Chald. and Syr.) ministered Dan 7:10  
Isa 18:4
Jer 31:35
  — Chres, giving heat sun
Judge 8:13
Deut 28:22
Acts 26:13
1 Cor 15:41
  — Chamah, causing motion. Arab. sense, troubling
hot displeasure
Song 6:10
Deut 9:19
Psa 72:5
Psa 84:11
Arab., Shemish, Chres, Chamah, as above
Psa 19:4
Psa 89:36
Psa 136:8
Copt., Pi-othiri,* the sender forth of heat, as Ra
Egypt, Ra, giving out heat. Arab. sense, heat, kindled
Deut 7:4 hrh
  Sansc., Suraya, as Ra. Aditta, glorious glory Hab 3:3 dwh
  — Heli, shining shined Job 31:26 lh
Cingalese, Irida, as Ra
1 Cor 15:41 Scandinavian, Sonne, shining, Arab. sense scarlet Josh 2:18 yn#
  Gr., Helios, as Heli
Lat., Sol, which shines, with s prefixed shine Job 41:18 lh
Irish,** Sam, as Shemish
  — Greian, as Chres
  — Re, as Ra
  — Sol, as Sol
Deut 33:14
Psa 8:3
Heb., Yareah, sent forth as rain
Hosea 10:12
Joshua 10:12
Isa 60:19
Isa 30:26
  — Lebana, white white
Exo 16:31
Song 6:10
Psa 72:7
Psa 104:10
Psa 89:37
Arab., Al Kamar, the red moon, Arab. sense
  — Lebana, as above, white
Job 16:16
Job 31:26 Copt, Pi-cochos, who circles, Arab sense circle Isa 40:22 gwh
Psa 121:6 Egypt, Aah, connected brother Job 30:29 x)
  Sansc., Chandra, from Chadi, shines, Arab. sense, shoot out Jer 50:14 hdy
  — *** Hima and Soma, associated, (s) with Gen 18:23 M(
Persian, Mah, as Aah
Cingalese, Handou, as Chandra
Scand., Mone, Mond, Monat, numbering Dan 5:26 )nm
Gr., Mane, as Mone; Selene, which shines, (s) shineth Job 25:5 lh
Lat., Luna and Lunus, as Lebana (Levana)
Irish, Luan, as Lebana
Gen 1:10 Heb., Aretz, broken, bruised brakest Psa 74:14 Ccr
Gen 6:11,13
Gen 18:18
Chald., Arya, the same bruised Isa 42:3
Deut 32:22 Arab., Aradt, the same
Job 38:4,6 Egypt?
Prov 8:31 Sansc., Gauh, broken brake Job 38:8 xg
Psa 102:25 Scand., Hertha and Erde, as Aretz
Isa 45:2 Gr., Ge, as Gauh
Jer 51:15   — Era, as Arya
Hosea 2:22 Lat., Terra, as Arya
Hab 2:14
Matt 5:5
2 Peter 3:10
Rev 20:11

* Pi is the masculine article, Egyptian and Coptic, appearing in the Greek names.

** The Irish are on the authority of Thaddeus O'Connellan.

*** The Chinese character for the moon, reduplicated, forms that for companion, associate.



Prophecies &c. corresponding with the names
Texts where the word is used in this sense in the Hebrew Bible Hebrew Roots
  Burman, Rahi, Rahini, failing, Arab. sense. afraid Isa 44:8 hhr
Heb 4:1-9
Deut 12:10
Isa 11:10
Heb., Sabbatei, resting.
rest Gen 2:2 tb#
Isa 58:12
Eze 16:53
  — Sabbath, dwelling dwell Deut 12:10  
  — Sabbath, restoring restoreth Psa 23:3
Isa 58:12
Exo 33:14 Arab., Zohal, hiding, sheltering shadow Judg 9:15 lc
Isa 58:12   — Refan, resting slack Josh 10:6  
Mal 4:2
Deut 32:39
Copt., Refe, Refan, Remphan, restoring
healeth Exo 15:26 )pr
Isa 53:5 Egypt., Seb, as Sabbatei
Acts 1:6 Sansc., Aspujat, as Sabbatei
    — Sani, Arab. sense, hiding, defending shield 1 Sam 17:7 hnc
  Persian, Kivon Chiun Amos 5:26 Nwyk
Psa 31:20
Isa 16:3
Scandinavian, Satur, hiding protection Deut 32:38 rts
Exo 34:7 Gr., Phainon, covering, hiding. (Arab. sense, rest.) forgive Gen 50:17 )n)
    — Kronos, quiet cool Prov 17:27 rq
Psa 17:8 Lat., Saturn, hiding, as Satur
Jer 23:6
Acts 3:14
Acts 7:52
Heb., Zedek, just, Isa 45:21
Heb., Zedek, true, Isa 41:26
Isa 53:11
Num 24:19
Deut 1:15
Arab., Al Moshtari, having dominion Job 38:33 r+#m
    — Gad, good fortune
Micah 5:2 Copt., Picheus, glorious, Arab. sense.
Jer 10:10
John 14:6
Egypt., Ammon, true truth Isa 65:16 Nm)
Col 1:15 Sansc., Brahaspati, originating
Sansc., Brahaspati, revealing, as below
Gen 1:1
Eph 5:23   — Urishaspiti, chief, head first Exo 13:13 r+p
  Scand., Thor, who breaks or bruises; cut, Arab. razor Num 6:5 r(t
Psa 22:28
Acts 5:31
Gr., Pheton, or Phaeton, coming came Isa 41:5 )h)
  — Dis,* second. Chald., du, two
Exo 3:14
John 8:58
Lat., Jupiter, who is
Lat., Jupiter, revealing, interpreting
Psa 68:4
Gen 40:8
Exo 12:22
Isa 63:2
Heb., Adom, red, bloodshedding blood Josh 20:3 Md
Rev 19:13   — Madim, made like blood, Arab. sense wounded  
  Arab., Melekh, as Melokh
Pers., Azar, blood-flowing, Arab. sense distress Gen 35:3 hrc
Gen 3:15 Copt., Melokh, broken, bruised.
wring Lev 1:15 qlm
Isa 53:4,5
Zech 13:6
Egypt, Khons, wounded. (Hercules) smitten Isa 53:4 hkn
Matt 28:18 Sansc., Khonda, as Khons
    — Angareka, wounded stricken Isa 53:4 (gn
  — Mangala, the same
Isa 49:25 Scand., Tuisco, striving strove Gen 26:20 q#(
    — Tyr, Tys, as Mars
Heb 12:3 Gr., Pirois, bruising or bruised Isa 42:3 Ccr
    — Puroeis, fire colour
  — Ares, as Mars
Lat., Mars, bruised or breaker brakest Psa 74:14
Isa 60:19 Heb., Nogah, bright shining Isa 4:5 (gn
Song 6:10   — Hillel, very bright Lucifer Isa 14:12 llh
Rev 20:11
Rev 21:5
Arab., Al Zoharah, bright shine Dan 12:3 rhz
Isa 14:12 Copt., Surath, morning twilight morning Song 6:10 rx#
    — Athor, coming or bringing light light 2 Sam 23:4 rw)
Isa 60:3 Egypt., Athyr, as Athor
Song 1:5
Song 6:10
Sansc., Sikra, dawn, twilight dawning Josh 6:15 rx#
    — Sivah, bright brightness Dan 2:31 wyz
Song 4:1-7 Scand., Freya or Frigga, fair, bright glorified Isa 60:9 r)p
  Gr., Heosphorous, Hesperus, beautiful garnished Job 26:13 rp#
Psa 97:11   — Phosphorus, light-bringer or beautiful
    — Aphrodite, who is fruitful
  — Hera, who bears
Lat., Lucifer, light-bringer. Vesper, as Hesperus
Song 4:10
Eph 5:27
  — Venus, lovely grace Prov 1:9 Nh
Job 23:6
Psa 24:8
Psa 98:9
Heb., Catab, powerful, strong
Heb., Catab, who cometh
Num 14:17
Psa 96:13
John 14:3
Acts 1:11
  — Cochab, coming as in a circle star Num 24:17 bkwk
Psa 2:8
Psa 72:8
Rev 19:15
Arab., Otared, coming to have dominion Num 24:19 hdr
Rev 1:7 Copt, Thaut, coming
come Deut 33:2 )h)
Psa 113:4   — Pi-ermes, that cometh moveth Gen 9:2 #md
Hab 2:3
Heb 10:37
Egypt., Thoth, as Thaut Isa 6:1 Mr
2 Thess 2:1,8 Sansc., Bouta, or Budha, coming coming Mal 3:2 )b
Psa 110:2 Scand., Woden, coming passed Job 28:8 hh(
Rev 1:14 Gr., Stilbon, who is bright
white Dan 12:10 Nbl
    — Hermes, as Pi-ermes above
Mark 8:38
John 14:3
Jude 14
2Thess 2:8
Rev 22:20
Lat., Mercurius, strong, Arab. sense Lord Dan 2:47 )rm
Lat., Mercurius, coming again, recurring, circling, Arab. sense

* The Greeks seem to have mistaken dis, the second planet, for Dis, the God.


Burmese, Sir W. Drummond, &c. Hebrew, Buxtorf, Seb. Munster, Gaffarelli, &c. Arabic, Freytag's and Wilmet's Lexicons, &c. Coptic or Egyptian, Montucla, Histoire des Mathematiques; Bunsen's Egypt, &c. Sanscrit, Wilson's Lexicon, Sir W. Jones, &c. Scandinavian, Verstegon, &c. Greek and Latin, various poets and astronomers. Recently discovered Egyptian names, Mr. W. Ellis. D is always rendered by T in Egyptian: the other slight changes in thus referring these names to Semitic roots are according to Bunsen's Vocabulary, &c.

"Some tablets have recently (1856) been discovered in Egypt, containing planetary inscriptions in the demotic character. These tablets were discovered by Mr. Stobart, and examined by Mr. Brugsch, of Berlin." From this account are taken the annexed names of the planets. Mr. Ellis, of the Greenwich Observatory, has ascertained that the tablets contained planetary positions according to the Egyptian calendar, extending from AD 105 to AD 132.

    Texts where the root occurs Hebrew Roots
1. SATURN Hor-ka, Hor, planet
Hor-ka, Hor, Ka, slow
2 Sam 12:4
Isa 61:3
2. JUPITER Hor-sat, or Hor-p-sat, Hor, planet
Hor-sat, or Hor-p-sat, Hor, Sat, just, true, Arab. Sadak, as Zedek
3. MARS Hor-tos, or Hor-tas, bruising thresh Isa 28:28 #d
4. VENUS Pe-neterti,* bright, fair, Song 4:1 glorious Exo 15:6 rd)n
5. MERCURY Sewek, or Sowek, coming quickly run Isa 33:4 q#

* According to Bunsen's vocabulary, Pe was an Egyptian name or epithet for heaven, the fair, the bright, the beautiful, like the Greek Ouranos, the place of light. But the Hebrew and Arabic Shamayim, the set up, Exodus 40:8, as in order, well ordered, gives a higher and more scientific definition of the nature of those heavens whose order and wonderfully balanced regularity are brought to light by the researches of modern astronomy, and yet seem taken for granted in this most ancient appellation. Pe-neterti would be the glorious, or glory of heaven.

The names in the previous Tables were conjecturally given by Bunsen, Birch, and other Egyptologers, but rather as names of planetary deities than of the planets; still when they resemble the ancient Hebrew, Coptic, or Sanscrit, it may be supposed they also were names applied to the planets at different times and in different places, especially as the leading idea of the other names is contained in them. The affinity between the ancient Egyptian and the Semitic dialects seems admitted. Bunsen says, "The cradle of Egyptian mythology and language is Asiatic."

Diodorus Siculus says, "The motions and periods and stations of the planets were well known to the ancient Egyptians."

Edinburgh Review on Delambre's Ancient Astronomy

"We find five of the planets mentioned so early as the time of Eratosthenes, more than a century before the Christian Era. He speaks of 'Jupiter or Phainos, large. Phaethon, not large. The third is Mars, or Puroeides, the colour of fire, not large. Phosphorus or Venus, of a white colour, and the largest of all the stars. The fifth Mercury, or Stilbon, brilliant but small.' Phaethon, says M. Delambre, can only be Saturn.

"Achilles Tatius, who wrote a commentary on Aratus about 300 years BC, speaks thus of the names and order of the planets among the Egyptians. 'It is by euphemism that the Egyptians call Saturn Phainon, apparent, seeing it is the most obscure of the planets; the Egyptians also call it Nemesis. The second planet is Jupiter, which the Greeks call Phaethon, and the Egyptians Osiris. The third is Mars, which among the Greeks is Puroeis, and among the Egyptians the star of Hercules. The fourth is Mercury, Stilbon among the Greeks, and the star of Apollo among the Egyptians. The fifth is the planet Venus, which the Greeks call Heosphorus.'

"Here it is observable that Eratosthenes and Achilles Tatius interchange the names of Jupiter and Saturn. Cicero calls Saturn, Phainon; Jupiter, Phaethon; Mars, Puroeis; Mercury, Stilbon; and Venus, Phosphorus and Lucifer.

"Aristotle de Coelo, says, 'Those Italians who are called Pythagoreans affirm that Pyr is in the centre, and that the earth being itself one of the stars circling or revolving about that centre produces night and day.'

"Plutarch considered Pyr as synonymous with Helius, and mentions Pythagorean teachers as maintaining that the earth revolved round the sun.

"Mene was an early Greek name of the moon.

"The star which is called at once by the names of Phainon and Kronos occupies always as its place the one next to this; next, that bearing the name of Phaethon, called also by the title of Zeus; then Pyrois, which is called both by the names of Heracles and Ares; and next Stilbon, whom some call sacred to Hermes, but others to Apollo; after whom the star called Phosphorus, whom some call the star of Aphrodite, and others the star of Hera." - From the Treatise (falsely) ascribed to Aristotle. De Mundo, Cap. ii.



  THE EIGHT GODS OF THE FIRST ORDER Texts where the word or its root is used. Hebrew Roots
SUN Ra (Helios), raying forth light and heat. Arab. sense hry
MOON Neith, sent forth, caused to come came Deut 33:21 )t)
MERCURY Aroeris, coming and coming again traveller 2 Sam 12:4 xr)
VENUS Mut, the mother; Leto and Latona, who brings forth hdly
  Buto, the daughter daughter   tb
MARS Khem, red, angry. (Pan, as wrathful? or brown, hairy?) fury
Gen 27:44
Gen 30:32
JUPITER Sat, now ascertained to be a name of Jupiter
SATURN Kneph, or Ka, slow heaviness Isa 61:3 hhk
URANUS Amun, concealed, as frequently unseen

The mythology of the Egyptians had the same source as that of the other nations, the primitive revelation, which in the figures of the constellations was perverted first into Sabianism, and thence into idolatry. Osiris, the man, the prince; Isis, the woman; Horus, the promised seed, He who cometh. These primary objects of prophecy, with what was there said of them, originated the various forms of Egyptian divinities and all their many names; the serpent, not worshipped, was continually figured as an accompaniment. "He shall bruise and be bruised," was the distinction of the expected Great One. The word Saph,* to bruise or wound, is nearly related to Sapha, a lip. An Egyptian divinity,** generally a child, is represented with the finger on the lip, the promised offspring who shall bruise and be bruised. Others, to the utter mystification of all explainers, have a pestle and mortar, implements of bruising, on their heads; the woman, as well as the man having them, as the mother of Him who should be bruised and shall bruise the serpent's head. Many carry a flail, the instrument with which "bread-corn is bruised." The plough-share is an Egyptian emblem, it occurs near the Pole in the planisphere of Dendera. The Heb. name of it is Ath (Isa 2:4), meaning which comes, from Atha, to come; also, it bruised the ground, as expressed in the word charash, to plough, to crush the ground.

* Doubts as to this word seem to be set aside by Romans 16:20, the Vulgate of Genesis 3:15, and two Arabic senses of it, to wound and to bite.

** Generally named Harpocrates, which may be rendered who cometh, who is to be cut off; from ara, who cometh, as in, 2 Samuel 12:4, and carath, cut off, Jeremiah 11:19, with the masculine article, Pi, inserted.

The head of the ram (or male lamb of sacrifice) is frequent on the body of a man or a lion, a corruption of the Cherubic forms.*

* The cherubic heads predominate in the forms of the Egyptian idols, but the ibis-headed Mercury is frequently seen. Ibis means he shall come: the bird called ibis came after the inundation, and was the foe of the serpent, for which it has been supposed that it was venerated, but also probably originally as a symbol of Him who was to come to be the conqueror of the serpent. Ibis is written in hieroglyphics Ib or Eb, without the Greek termination is, thus nearer to iba, he shall come. The hawk, substituted for the eagle, apparently unknown in Egypt, the lion, the bovine face, often of a calf or cow, and the high plumes on the heads representing the wings, are evidently derived from the cherubic figures.

Dupuis says, "The Egyptians worshipped the hawk for the sun, the ibis for the moon.

"Astronomy was the soul of all their religious system.

"The Egyptian priests gave the designs for the statues of the gods from the spheres, the astronomical figures of the heavens." (Orig. des Cultes.)

"Chaeremon and the most learned priests of Egypt were of opinion with the ancient Egyptians that the only gods were the sun, moon, and planets, and also the other stars which compose the Zodiac, and all those which by their rising or setting mark the divisions of the signs, their sub-divisions, the horoscope and the stars which preside over it, which they call powerful chiefs of heaven; these ancient Egyptians also regarded the sun as a great god, architect and ruler of the universe, explaining all their religious fables by the stars." (Dupuis.)

Lucian says that the Egyptian religion was entirely founded on the sky.

In the mythology of Egypt is thus to be traced the universal tradition of the woman who should bear the seed, and her Infant, the God who should be born, and who as man should suffer and die. We learn from Herodotus that Isis and Osiris were the only gods worshipped in Egypt, Horus appearing to have been worshipped in Osiris; but he also says the Egyptians had three orders of divinities, of course inferior to those who were alone worshipped. The first order, of eight, of which he only says that Pan and Latona were among them; the second order, of twelve, of which Hercules was one, and which had some connexion with the twelve months of the year; he does not say of how many the third order consisted. These orders are said to be planetary and astral. As Plato says that the Egyptians confessed that they did not originate but adopted the names they used, and that they attributed their astronomy to the Chaldeans, in that dialect, or its cognate Hebrew and Arabic, the meanings of those names should be sought.


  THE TWELVE GODS OF THE SECOND ORDER Texts where the word or its root is used in this sense in the Hebrew Bible Hebrew Roots
ARIES Sebak, who subdues, Egyptian [Bunsen], most anciently with a ram's head, who takes captive, as Mesartim, the bound, in Aries. Gen 14:14 hb#
TAURUS Mau, Mu, or Mui, sometimes with a bull's head, and called victorious, strong. Sometimes called En-pe, leader of heaven, perhaps when the spring equinox was in Taurus. steady Exo 17:12 s)
GEMINI Atmu, or Atum, with a youthful human head, the twin.
He is called Nefer and Nefru, the branch
Gen 25:24
Isa 5:24
CANCER Pecht, a goddess with a cat-head, called Mut, mother, and Menhi, many (Arab. sense) number Dan 5:26 hnm
LEO Tefnu, the lion-headed goddess smiting Nahum 2:8 Ph
VIRGO Nutphe, the mother of the gods, the mistress of heaven, represented as suckling a child infant Gen 34:29 P+
LIBRA Ma, truth, justice truth Isa 65:16 M)
SCORPIO Khunsu, called Hercules, sometimes holding a palm-branch. Chons, Copt. strength
SAGITTARIUS Muntu, Mandulis, hawk or eagle-headed. The constellation of the Eagle is in the sign Sagittarius, sending forth, as arrows shoot Jer 50:14 hdy
CAPRICORNUS Tet, Thout, Hermes, ibis-headed. A human figure with ibis-head stands on Capricorn in the Dendera zodiac. He shall come, he cometh came Gen 49:10
Deut 33:2
AQUARIUS Seb, a human figure, with a goose on his head, perhaps referring to the water, who turns, returns, as the solstice returned Gen 8:3 b#
PISCES Hather, Athor, Aphrodite, the fruitful, abundant. A goddess with a cow's head. abundance Isa 15:7 rty

"The Egyptians divided the year into twelve parts. In this they affirm the stars to have been their guides. They first invented the names of the twelve gods, and from them the Greeks borrowed them." Herodotus.

"Herodotus expressly states that twelve, the number of these gods, was sacred, probably taken from the twelve months of the solar year." (Bunsen's Egypt.) Bunsen attributes to them "an astral import."

According to ancient lexicons, the Egyptian name of Hercules was Khons. The constellation Hercules is in Scorpio.


As Herodotus reports that Isis and Osiris alone were worshipped all over Egypt, the multitudes of other names and figures called divinities, which perplex modern investigators, were only deified attributes, or these two deities under different aspects. Isis, the woman, she who should bear the promised Seed; Adam had named the woman Isha or Isa, whence Isis; Virgo was called Isis in the time of Eratosthenes. Osiris, the Prince, the Ruler, who was to die and rise again; he was sometimes called the spouse, sometimes the brother of Isis. The infant held by Virgo, when considered as the offspring of Isis, was called Horus, he that cometh, a divine person, born of the woman. Such was the early tradition of the Egyptians of this ancient patriarchal faith, the religion of their ancestor Noah. Then followed the deification of the first order of eight gods, apparently the sun, moon, and six planets; then the second order of twelve, the signs of the Zodiac; after these the third, of seven, which might be the sun, moon, and five planets, after the Uranus was forgotten.



What were the gods of the third order seems very uncertain. If they were the planets, or rather, as is said, guardian genii of the planets in the order of the days of the week, said to be of Egyptian origin, they may be thus arranged:

  THE THIRD, CALLED THE OSIRIS ORDER Texts where the word or its root is used in this sense in the Hebrew Bible Hebrew Roots
SUN Osiris, as the sun-god, the Ruler chief Gen 21:22 r#
MOON Isis, as "mistress of the moon," the woman Gen 2:23 h#)
MARS Harpocrates, who cometh, the cut-off wayfarer
cut off
Judg 19:17
Dan 9:26
MERCURY Aroeris, or Hor-her, or Hours, hawk-headed, coming and returning, as the eagle
JUPITER Set, Sat, as Zedek, just, true
VENUS Nephthys, sister of Isis, opening, bringing the morning break forth Jer 1:14 htp
SATURN Anupu, or Anubis, resting, Gen 5:20
Exo 23:12
Psa 96:13

These seven are said by Herodotus to proceed from the first order (the eight). The five great gods of this order, not the sun and moon, but the five planets, are said to have been born on five successive days, discovered in that order and on those days. When the days of the week were named the Uranus was forgotten.

"Sirius the Egyptians called Anubis, and worshipped him under the form of a dog or Schachal." Warning like the barking of a dog, one sense of the root being to bark ("Latrator Anubis," Ovid.), foreshowing, warning.

The hawk, the Egyptian substitute for the eagle, was an emblem of the sun as ascending and descending in heaven. The Ibis became an emblem of the moon, as coming, returning, )by.

Here may be traced the rise of Sabaism, the worship of the host of heaven, and the gradual perversion into the gross forms of idolatry for which Egypt became a proverb among the nations. The sun was identified with Osiris, the moon with Isis, the prophetic types of Him who was to come to be the light of the world, and His Church the assembly of the called, His bride, also called His sister-spouse, thus accounting for the confusion in the relationship of Isis and Osiris, like that of the Jupiter and Juno of the Greeks.*

* The Egyptians gave to every deity a consort, hence the multiplicity of goddesses.

With regard to the great antiquity by some writers, ancient and modern, attributed to the monarchy of Egypt, nature, interpreted by geology, seems to bring it within the bounds of that claimed for other ancient nations. The French scientific men who accompanied Buonaparte, believed they had ascertained from the depth of the silt or deposit of the inundation, that the Nile had flowed rather less than 6000 years. Beneath that deposit is the sand of the neighbouring desert, and beneath that again marine formations; though Wilkinson and Newbold seem to have assigned greater depth to the deposits of the inundation, yet Hugh Miller (Testimony of the Rocks) speaks of this "chronology" as in "legitimate connexion with the recent introduction of the human species." All geologists seem now agreed that there are no earlier traces of mankind (typical forms, &c.). The theory that derives the Egyptian mythology from prophecy, refers it to the revelation to Adam, from whom few now dispute that the whole human race descended. One proof among many others being the similar tradition among all nations of the seed of the woman, the conqueror of the serpent.

"Chaeremon sought to command the Genii in the name of him who is seated on the Lotus, carried in a ship, who appears different in each sign of the Zodiac." In the Egyptian planisphere of Dendera some figures with mystic attributes are seated on the Lotus, and others are as coming in boats. The Brahma of Indian mythology sits on the Lotus. The word Lotus, from its Semitic root, would mean concealed, as the water-lily beneath the water, the flower in the bud, the promised Deliverer not yet come.

"Champollion read on the Zodiac of Dendera the title of Augustus Caesar, on that of Esneh the name of Antoninus." Such may have been the dates of the buildings, as the figure of the Ibis-headed Mercury, or Capricorn, where the head of the goat joins the body of the fish, may indicate; but the headless horse, as the ascending node of the ecliptic (the wintry solstice) is figured, being placed beyond, shows a much earlier era for the Zodiac.

Dupuis, who calculated the date of the planisphere from 4000 BC, appears best to have understood it. The Zodiac now used is that of Ptolemy's time, rather later than that of Augustus; but Canterbury Cathedral and other buildings on which our ancestors inscribed it are not therefore of that age. The Egyptians* depicted the ancient Patriarchal Zodiac as it had come down to them, adding emblems that belonged to their own time.

* Sir G. Wilkinson says, "We do not see them in their infancy as a nation." "Of this we may be certain, that neither the Hindoos borrowed from the Egyptians, nor the Egyptians from the Hindoos." "The Asiatic origin of the Egyptians accounts for any analogy with the Oriental nations." Reviewer adds, "Nothing has ever yet been discovered to illustrate the position of the Egyptians when they emigrated into the valley of the Nile."

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