ben.crick at argonet.co.uk
Tue Jan 5 12:53:39 EST 1999
I posted this private response to Jane; but she asked if I would forward
it to y'all. Here it is, for better or for worse:
On Sat 2 Jan 99 (20:39:40), janegc at aol.com wrote:
> This is actually a question about Hebrew not Greek, but I thought I'd
> ask since so many of you know both. In Amos (5:8) it says, "Seek him
> that made the Pleiades and Orion". Now I can understand if that is what
> is says in LXX (of which I have no copy), But surely this isn't what
> the Hebrew says. Were there constellations in ancient Hebrew culture?
> What sorts of figures were they? Were the ancient Jews astonomers?
What an interesting question! The LXX won't help at all I'm afraid;
Amos 5:8 LXX ducks the clause [Seek him that maketh the seven stars and
Orion] and substitutes [hO POIWN PANTA KAI METASKEUAZWN], ktl.
The context is about seasonal changes; part of a hymn to the "transforming
God" hO METASKEUAZWN. The "seven stars" is a fairly certain reference to
the Pleiades, KiYMaH in Hebrew; "Orion" is Ke:SiYL in Hebrew, a word which
can mean "fool", or any "constellation", or the best-known constellation,
Orion the Hunter. These two constellations become prominent in the sky in
turn as the seasons change from summer to winter and back.
Ke:SiYL recurs in Isaiah 13:10 as Ke:SiYLeYTeM, "and their constellations".
The LXX has hOI GAR ASTERES TOU OURANOU KAI hO WRIWN KAI PAS hO KOSMOS TOU
OURANOU, ktl.; seemingly adding Orion as a free example of one of the
constellations (PAS hO KOSMOS TOU OURANOU).
The names of the 1st-magnitude stars were known to the Greeks; e.g.
Job 9:9 LXX, hO POIWN PLEIDA KAI hESPERON KAI ARKTURON, KAI TAMEINA NOTOU.
Pleiades, Hesperus, Arcturus we know; perhaps the "Chambers of the South"
refers to the southern-hemisphere constellations, not visible from the
eastern Mediterranean. In Job 38:31-32 we again meet Pleiades and Orion;
also MAZOURWQ EN KAIRWi AUTOU. The Hebrew MaZZaRoT (plural) means "the
12 signs of the Zodiac" according to Strong's 04216; from the Hiphil
participle of NAZAR, to consecrate. Some connection here with astrology
and idolatry. After Creation, the "morning stars sang together, and all
the sons of God shouted for joy" (Job 38:7). These morning stars and sons
of God are thought to mean the Angels; with Lucifer their chief (Isaiah
14:12). Lucifer is hEWSFOROS , light-bearer, in the LXX; taken to be the
planet Venus. One of the titles of Christ is "the bright and morning star"
Astrology was a no-no for the children of Israel; hence the ignorance of
the Scribes in Jerusalem when the Magi came asking about the star why had
seen in the East (Matthew 2). Even so, young Moses, as putative heir to the
throne, was instructed in all the secrets of the Egyptians in the
prestigious Scribal School and Military Academy (Josephus, /Antiquities/,
2.9.5-7). The Great Pyramid had its "skysight" aligned on Sirius when it
was constructed in 2200 BC; the Dog Star played an important part in the
Pharaoh cultus. Also Daniel and his friends were schooled in the "learning
and language of the Chaldeans" (Daniel 1:4). The ancients knew all about
the Metonic Cycle of 19 years, after which the Sun and Moon return to
approximately the same relative positions in the sky as when they started.
This 19-year cycle is not accurate enough; 315 years is a more accurate
figure for this "Sanctuary Cycle". The oft mentioned periods of 1260 solar
years in Daniel ("Time, Times, and half a Time") are periods of four exact
Revd Ben Crick, BA CF
<ben.crick at argonet.co.uk>
232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK)
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