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Title: The Astronomy of the Bible - An Elementary Commentary on the Astronomical References of Holy Scripture
Author: Maunder, E. Walter (Edward Walter), 1851-1928
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Astronomy of the Bible - An Elementary Commentary on the Astronomical References of Holy Scripture" ***

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Transcriber's Notes: Variations in spelling and hyphenation have been
left as in the original. Words italicized in the original are surrounded
by _underscores_. Characters superscripted in the original are enclosed
in {braces}. Some typographical and punctuation errors have been
corrected. A complete list follows the text.


[Illustration: _From the Painting by Sir Edward Burne-Jones in the
Birmingham Art Gallery._


"We have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him."











My helper in this Book
and in all things.


Why should an astronomer write a commentary on the Bible?

Because commentators as a rule are not astronomers, and therefore either
pass over the astronomical allusions of Scripture in silence, or else
annotate them in a way which, from a scientific point of view, leaves
much to be desired.

Astronomical allusions in the Bible, direct and indirect, are not few in
number, and, in order to bring out their full significance, need to be
treated astronomically. Astronomy further gives us the power of placing
ourselves to some degree in the position of the patriarchs and prophets
of old. We know that the same sun and moon, stars and planets, shine
upon us as shone upon Abraham and Moses, David and Isaiah. We can, if we
will, see the unchanging heavens with their eyes, and understand their
attitude towards them.

It is worth while for us so to do. For the immense advances in science,
made since the Canon of Holy Scripture was closed, and especially during
the last three hundred years, may enable us to realize the significance
of a most remarkable fact. Even in those early ages, when to all the
nations surrounding Israel the heavenly bodies were objects for
divination or idolatry, the attitude of the sacred writers toward them
was perfect in its sanity and truth.

Astronomy has a yet further part to play in Biblical study. The dating
of the several books of the Bible, and the relation of certain heathen
mythologies to the Scripture narratives of the world's earliest ages,
have received much attention of late years. Literary analysis has thrown
much light on these subjects, but hitherto any evidence that astronomy
could give has been almost wholly neglected; although, from the nature
of the case, such evidence, so far as it is available, must be most
decisive and exact.

I have endeavoured, in the present book, to make an astronomical
commentary on the Bible, in a manner that shall be both clear and
interesting to the general reader, dispensing as far as possible with
astronomical technicalities, since the principles concerned are, for the
most part, quite simple. I trust, also, that I have taken the first step
in a new inquiry which promises to give results of no small importance.

                                               E. WALTER MAUNDER.

     _St. John's, London, S.E._
         _January 1908._





  Modern Astronomy--Astronomy in the Classical Age--The Canon of
  Holy Scripture closed before the Classical Age--Character of the
  Scriptural References to the Heavenly Bodies--Tradition of
  Solomon's Eminence in Science--Attitude towards Nature of the
  Sacred Writers--Plan of the Book                                   3


  Indian Eclipse of 1898--Contrast between the Heathen and
  Scientific Attitudes--The Law of Causality--Inconsistent with
  Polytheism--Faith in One God the Source to the Hebrews of
  Intellectual Freedom--The First Words of Genesis the Charter of
  the Physical Sciences--The Limitations of Science--"Explanations"
  of the First Chapter of Genesis--Its Real Purposes--The Sabbath   12


  Babylonian Creation Myth--Tiamat, the Dragon of Chaos--Overcome
  by Merodach--Similarity to the Scandinavian Myth--No Resemblance
  to the Narrative in Genesis--Meanings of the Hebrew Word
  _tehom_--Date of the Babylonian Creation Story                    25


  Twofold Application of the Hebrew Word _raqia‘_--Its Etymological
  Meaning--The Idea of Solidity introduced by the "Seventy"--Not
  the Hebrew Idea--The "Foundations" of Heaven and Earth--The
  "Canopy" of Heaven--The "Stories" of Heaven--Clouds and Rain--The
  Atmospheric Circulation--Hebrew Appreciation even of the Terrible
  in Nature--The "Balancings" and "Spreadings" of the Clouds--The
  "Windows of Heaven"--Not Literal Sluice-gates--The Four
  Winds--The Four Quarters--The Circle of the Earth--The Waters
  under the Earth--The "Depths"                                     35


  The Order of the Heavenly Movements--Daily Movement of the
  Sun--Nightly Movements of the Stars--The "Host of Heaven"--
  Symbolic of the Angelic Host--Morning Stars--The Scripture View
  of the Heavenly Order                                             55


  The Double Purpose of the Two Great Heavenly Bodies--Symbolic Use
  of the Sun as Light-giver--No Deification of the Sun or of
  Light--Solar Idolatry in Israel--_Shemesh_ and _Ḥeres_--
  Sun-spots--Light before the Sun--"Under the Sun"--The Circuit of
  the Sun--Sunstroke--"Variableness"--Our present Knowledge of the
  Sun--Sir William Herschel's Theory--Conflict between the Old
  Science and the New--Galileo--A Question of Evidence--A Question
  of Principle                                                      63


  Importance of the Moon in Olden Times--Especially to the
  Shepherd--Jewish Feasts at the Full Moon--The Harvest Moon--The
  Hebrew Month a Natural one--Different Hebrew Words for Moon--
  Moon-worship forbidden--"Similitudes" of the Moon--Worship of
  Ashtoreth--No mention of Lunar Phases--The Moon "for Seasons"     79


  Number of the Stars--"Magnitudes" of the Stars--Distances of the
  Stars                                                             95


  Great Comets unexpected Visitors--Description of Comets--
  Formation of the Tail--Possible References in Scripture to
  Comets                                                           103


  Aerolites--Diana of the Ephesians--Star-showers--The Leonid
  Meteors--References in Scripture--The Aurora Borealis            111


  Vivid Impression produced by a Total Solar Eclipse--Eclipses not
  Omens to the Hebrews--Eclipses visible in Ancient Palestine--
  Explanation of Eclipses--The Saros--Scripture References to
  Eclipses--The Corona--The Egyptian "Winged Disc"--The Babylonian
  "Ring with Wings"--The Corona at Minimum                         118


  The "Seven Planets"--Possible Scripture References to Venus and
  Jupiter--"Your God Remphan" probably Saturn--The Sabbath and
  Saturn's Day--R. A. Proctor on the Names of the Days of the
  Week--Order of the Planets--Alexandrian Origin of the Weekday
  Names--The Relation of Astrology to Astronomy--Early Babylonian
  Astrology--Hebrew Contempt for Divination                        130




  The "Greek Sphere"--Aratus--St Paul's Sermon at Athens--The
  Constellations of Ptolemy's Catalogue--References to the
  Constellations in Hesiod and Homer--The Constellation Figures on
  Greek Coins--And on Babylonian "Boundary-stones"--The Unmapped
  Space in the South--Its Explanation--Precession--Date and Place
  of the Origin of the Constellations--Significant Positions of the
  Serpent Forms in the Constellations--The Four "Royal Stars"--The
  Constellations earlier than the Old Testament                    149


  The Bow set in the Cloud--The Conflict with the Serpent--The Seed
  of the Woman--The Cherubim--The "Mighty Hunter"                  162


  Resemblance between the Babylonian and Genesis Deluge
  Stories--The Deluge Stories in Genesis--Their Special
  Features--The Babylonian Deluge Story--Question as to its
  Date--Its Correspondence with both the Genesis Narratives--The
  Constellation Deluge Picture--Its Correspondence with both the
  Genesis Narratives--The Genesis Deluge Story independent of Star
  Myth and Babylonian Legend                                       170


  Joseph's Dream--Alleged Association of the Zodiacal Figures with
  the Tribes of Israel--The Standards of the Four Camps of
  Israel--The Blessings of Jacob and Moses--The Prophecies of
  Balaam--The Golden Calf--The Lion of Judah                       186


  The Four Serpent-like Forms in the Constellations--Their
  Significant Positions--The Dragon's Head and Tail--The
  Symbols for the Nodes--The Dragon of Eclipse--Hindu Myth
  of Eclipses--Leviathan--References to the Stellar Serpents
  in Scripture--Rahab--Andromeda--"The Eyelids of the
  Morning"--Poetry, Science, and Myth                              196


  Difficulty of Identification--The most Attractive
  Constellations--_Kimah_--Not a Babylonian Star Name--A Pre-exilic
  Hebrew Term--The Pleiades traditionally Seven--Mädler's
  Suggestion--Pleiades associated in Tradition with the Rainy
  Season--And with the Deluge--Their "Sweet Influences"--The Return
  of Spring--The Pleiades in recent Photographs--Great Size and
  Distance of the Cluster                                          213


  _Kesil_--Probably Orion--Appearance of the Constellation--
  Identified in Jewish Tradition with Nimrod, who was probably
  Merodach--Altitude of Orion in the Sky--_Kesilim_--The "Bands" of
  Orion--The Bow-star and Lance-star, Orion's Dogs--Identification
  of Tiamat with Cetus                                             231


  Probably the "Signs of the Zodiac"--Babylonian Creation
  Story--Significance of its Astronomical References--Difference
  between the "Signs" and the "Constellations" of the Zodiac--Date
  of the Change--And of the Babylonian Creation Epic--Stages of
  Astrology--Astrology Younger than Astronomy by 2000 Years--
  _Mazzaroth_ and the "Chambers of the South"--_Mazzaloth_--The
  Solar and Lunar Zodiacs--_Mazzaroth_ in his Season               243


  _‘Ash_ and _‘Ayish_--Uncertainty as to their Identification--
  Probably the Great Bear--_Mezarim_--Probably another Name for the
  Bears--"Canst thou guide the Bear?"--Proper Motions of the
  Plough-stars--Estimated Distance                                 258




  Rotation Period of Venus--Difficulty of the Time Problem on
  Venus--The Sun and Stars as Time Measurers--The apparent Solar
  Day the First in Use--It began at Sunset--Subdivisions of the Day
  Interval--Between the Two Evenings--The Watches of the Night--The
  12-hour Day and the 24-hour Day                                  269


  The Week not an Astronomical Period--Different Weeks employed
  by the Ancients--Four Origins assigned for the Week--The
  Quarter-month--The Babylonian System--The Babylonian Sabbath not
  a Rest Day--The Jewish Sabbath amongst the Romans--Alleged
  Astrological Origin of the Week--Origin of the Week given in the
  Bible                                                            283


  The New Moon a Holy Day with the Hebrews--The Full Moons at the
  Two Equinoxes also Holy Days--The Beginnings of the Months
  determined from actual Observation--Rule for finding Easter--Names
  of the Jewish Months--Phœnician and Babylonian Month Names--
  Number of Days in the Month--Babylonian Dead Reckoning--Present
  Jewish Calendar                                                  293


  The Jewish Year a Luni-solar one--Need for an Intercalary
  Month--The Metonic Cycle--The Sidereal and Tropical Years--The
  Hebrew a Tropical Year--Beginning near the Spring Equinox--Meaning
  of "the End of the Year"--Early Babylonian Method of determining
  the First Month--Capella as the Indicator Star--The Triad of
  Stars--The Tropical Year in the Deluge Story                     305


  Law of the Sabbatic Year--A Year of Rest and Release--The
  Jubilee--Difficulties connected with the Sabbatic Year and the
  Jubilee--The Sabbatic Year, an Agricultural one--Interval between
  the Jubilees, Forty-nine Years, not Fifty--Forty-nine Years an
  Astronomical Cycle                                               326


  The Jubilee Cycle possessed only by the Hebrews--High Estimation
  of Daniel and his Companions entertained by Nebuchadnezzar--Due
  possibly to Daniel's Knowledge of Luni-solar Cycles--Cycles in
  Daniel's Prophecy--2300 Years and 1260 Years as Astronomical
  Cycles--Early Astronomical Progress of the Babylonians much
  overrated--Yet their Real Achievements not Small--Limitations of
  the Babylonian--Freedom of the Hebrew                            337




  METHOD OF STUDYING THE RECORD--To be discussed as it stands--An
  early Astronomical Observation. BEFORE THE BATTLE--Movements of
  the Israelites--Reasons for the Gibeonites' Action--Rapid
  Movements of all the Parties. DAY, HOUR, AND PLACE OF THE
  MIRACLE--Indication of the Sun's Declination--Joshua was at
  Gibeon--And at High Noon--On the 21st Day of the Fourth Month.
  JOSHUA'S STRATEGY--Key to it in the Flight of the Amorites by the
  Beth-horon Route--The Amorites defeated but not surrounded--King
  David as a Strategist. THE MIRACLE--The Noon-day Heat, the great
  Hindrance to the Israelites--Joshua desired the Heat to be
  tempered--The Sun made to "be silent"--The Hailstorm--The March
  to Makkedah--A Full Day's March in the Afternoon--"The Miracle"
  not a Poetic Hyperbole--Exact Accord of the Poem and the Prose
  Chronicle--The Record made at the Time--Their March, the
  Israelites' Measure of Time                                      351


  The Narrative--Suggested Explanations--The "Dial of Ahaz,"
  probably a Staircase--Probable History and Position of the
  Staircase--Significance of the Sign                              385


  The Narrative--No Astronomical Details given--Purpose of the
  Scripture Narrative--Kepler's suggested Identification of the
  Star--The New Star of 1572--Legend of the Well of Bethlehem--True
  Significance of the Reticence of the Gospel Narrative            393

  A TABLE OF SCRIPTURAL REFERENCE                                  401

  INDEX                                                            405


     THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM (_Burne-Jones_)         _Frontispiece_

     THE RAINBOW (_Rubens_)                                     2

     MERODACH AND TIAMAT                                       25

     CIRRUS AND CUMULI                                         47

     A CORNER OF THE MILKY WAY                                 94

     THE GREAT COMET OF 1843                                  102

     FALL OF AN AEROLITE                                      110

     METEORIC SHOWER OF 1799                                  115

     THE ASSYRIAN 'RING WITH WINGS'                           126

     CORONA OF MINIMUM TYPE                                   127

     ST. PAUL PREACHING AT ATHENS (_Raphael_)                 148


     THE CELESTIAL SPHERE                                     156





     HERCULES AND DRACO                                       197


     ANDROMEDA AND CETUS                                      207

     STARS OF THE PLEIADES                                    219

     INNER NEBULOSITIES OF THE PLEIADES                       227

     STARS OF ORION                                           232


     POSITION OF SPRING EQUINOX, B.C. 2700                    246

     POSITION OF SPRING EQUINOX, A.D. 1900                    247


     'BLOW UP THE TRUMPET IN THE NEW MOON'                    268


     BOUNDARY-STONE IN THE LOUVRE                             318

     WORSHIP OF THE SUN-GOD AT SIPPARA                        322

         THE VALLEY OF AJALON'                                350

     MAP OF SOUTHERN PALESTINE                                357

         FROM GIBEON                                          363

[Illustration: _By permission of the Autotype Co. 74, New Oxford
Street, London W.C._

THE RAINBOW (_by Rubens_).

"The bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain."]






Modern astronomy began a little more than three centuries ago with the
invention of the telescope and Galileo's application of it to the study
of the heavenly bodies. This new instrument at once revealed to him the
mountains on the moon, the satellites of Jupiter, and the spots on the
sun, and brought the celestial bodies under observation in a way that no
one had dreamed of before. In our view to-day, the planets of the solar
system are worlds; we can examine their surfaces and judge wherein they
resemble or differ from our earth. To the ancients they were but points
of light; to us they are vast bodies that we have been able to measure
and to weigh. The telescope has enabled us also to penetrate deep into
outer space; we have learnt of other systems besides that of our own sun
and its dependents, many of them far more complex; clusters and clouds
of stars have been revealed to us, and mysterious nebulæ, which suggest
by their forms that they are systems of suns in the making. More lately
the invention of the spectroscope has informed us of the very elements
which go to the composition of these numberless stars, and we can
distinguish those which are in a similar condition to our sun from those
differing from him. And photography has recorded for us objects too
faint for mere sight to detect, even when aided by the most powerful
telescope; too detailed and intricate for the most skilful hand to

Galileo's friend and contemporary, Kepler, laid the foundations of
another department of modern astronomy at about the same time. He
studied the apparent movements of the planets until they yielded him
their secret so far that he was able to express them in three simple
laws, laws which, two generations later, Sir Isaac Newton demonstrated
to be the outcome of one grand and simple law of universal range, the
law of gravitation. Upon this law the marvellous mathematical conquests
of astronomy have been based.

All these wonderful results have been attained by the free exercise of
men's mental abilities, and it cannot be imagined that God would have
intervened to hamper their growth in intellectual power by revealing to
men facts and methods which it was within their own ability to discover
for themselves. Men's mental powers have developed by their exercise;
they would have been stunted had men been led to look to revelation
rather than to diligent effort for the satisfaction of their curiosity.
We therefore do not find any reference in the Bible to that which
modern astronomy has taught us. Yet it may be noted that some
expressions, appropriate at any time, have become much more appropriate,
much more forcible, in the light of our present-day knowledge.

The age of astronomy which preceded the Modern, and may be called the
Classical age, was almost as sharply defined in its beginning as its
successor. It lasted about two thousand years, and began with the
investigations into the movements of the planets made by some of the
early Greek mathematicians. Classical, like Modern astronomy, had its
two sides,--the instrumental and the mathematical. On the instrumental
side was the invention of graduated instruments for the determination of
the positions of the heavenly bodies; on the mathematical, the
development of geometry and trigonometry for the interpretation of those
positions when thus determined. Amongst the great names of this period
are those of Eudoxus of Knidus (B.C. 408-355), and Hipparchus of
Bithynia, who lived rather more than two centuries later. Under its
first leaders astronomy in the Classical age began to advance rapidly,
but it soon experienced a deadly blight. Men were not content to observe
the heavenly bodies for what they were; they endeavoured to make
them the sources of divination. The great school of Alexandria (founded
about 300 B.C.), the headquarters of astronomy, became invaded by
the spirit of astrology, the bastard science which has always
tried--parasite-like--to suck its life from astronomy. Thus from the
days of Claudius Ptolemy to the end of the Middle Ages the growth of
astronomy was arrested, and it bore but little fruit.

It will be noticed that the Classical age did not commence until about
the time of the completion of the last books of the Old Testament; so we
do not find any reference in Holy Scripture to the astronomical
achievements of that period, amongst which the first attempts to explain
the apparent motions of sun, moon, stars, and planets were the most

We have a complete history of astronomy in the Modern and Classical
periods, but there was an earlier astronomy, not inconsiderable in
amount, of which no history is preserved. For when Eudoxus commenced his
labours, the length of the year had already been determined, the
equinoxes and solstices had been recognized, the ecliptic, the celestial
equator, and the poles of both great circles were known, and the five
principal planets were familiar objects. This Early astronomy must have
had its history, its stages of development, but we can only with
difficulty trace them out. It cannot have sprung into existence
full-grown any more than the other sciences; it must have started from
zero, and men must have slowly fought their way from one observation to
another, with gradually widening conceptions, before they could bring it
even to that stage of development in which it was when the observers of
the Museum of Alexandria began their work.

The books of the Old Testament were written at different times during
the progress of this Early age of astronomy. We should therefore
naturally expect to find the astronomical allusions written from the
standpoint of such scientific knowledge as had then been acquired. We
cannot for a moment expect that any supernatural revelation of purely
material facts would be imparted to the writers of sacred books, two or
three thousand years before the progress of science had brought those
facts to light, and we ought not to be surprised if expressions are
occasionally used which we should not ourselves use to-day, if we were
writing about the phenomena of nature from a technical point of view. It
must further be borne in mind that the astronomical references are not
numerous, that they occur mostly in poetic imagery, and that Holy
Scripture was not intended to give an account of the scientific
achievements, if any, of the Hebrews of old. Its purpose was wholly
different: it was religious, not scientific; it was meant to give
spiritual, not intellectual enlightenment.

An exceedingly valuable and interesting work has recently been brought
out by the most eminent of living Italian astronomers, Prof. G. V.
Schiaparelli, on this subject of "Astronomy in the Old Testament," to
which work I should like here to acknowledge my indebtedness. Yet I feel
that the avowed object of his book,[7:1]--to "discover what ideas the
ancient Jewish sages held regarding the structure of the universe, what
observations they made of the stars, and how far they made use of them
for the measurement and division of time"--is open to this
criticism,--that sufficient material for carrying it out is not within
our reach. If we were to accept implicitly the argument from the silence
of Scripture, we should conclude that the Hebrews--though their calendar
was essentially a lunar one, based upon the actual observation of the
new moon--had never noticed that the moon changed its apparent form as
the month wore on, for there is no mention in the Bible of the lunar

The references to the heavenly bodies in Scripture are not numerous, and
deal with them either as time-measurers or as subjects for devout
allusion, poetic simile, or symbolic use. But there is one
characteristic of all these references to the phenomena of Nature, that
may not be ignored. None of the ancients ever approached the great
Hebrew writers in spiritual elevation; none equalled them in poetic
sublimity; and few, if any, surpassed them in keenness of observation,
or in quick sympathy with every work of the Creator.

These characteristics imply a natural fitness of the Hebrews for
successful scientific work, and we should have a right to believe that
under propitious circumstances they would have shown a pre-eminence in
the field of physical research as striking as is the superiority of
their religious conceptions over those of the surrounding nations. We
cannot, of course, conceive of the average Jew as an Isaiah, any more
than we can conceive of the average Englishman as a Shakespeare, yet the
one man, like the other, is an index of the advancement and capacity of
his race; nor could Isaiah's writings have been preserved, more than
those of Shakespeare, without a true appreciation of them on the part of
many of his countrymen.

But the necessary conditions for any great scientific development were
lacking to Israel. A small nation, planted between powerful and
aggressive empires, their history was for the most part the record of a
struggle for bare existence; and after three or four centuries of the
unequal conflict, first the one and then the other of the two sister
kingdoms was overwhelmed. There was but little opportunity during these
years of storm and stress for men to indulge in any curious searchings
into the secrets of nature.

Once only was there a long interval of prosperity and peace; viz. from
the time that David had consolidated the kingdom to the time when it
suffered disruption under his grandson, Rehoboam; and it is significant
that tradition has ascribed to Solomon and to his times just such a
scientific activity as the ability and temperament of the Hebrew race
would lead us to expect it to display when the conditions should be
favourable for it.

Thus, in the fourth chapter of the First Book of Kings, not only are the
attainments of Solomon himself described, but other men, contemporaries
either of his father David or himself, are referred to, as distinguished
in the same direction, though to a less degree.

     "And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much,
     and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the
     seashore. And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the
     children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For
     he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman,
     and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in
     all nations round about. And he spake three thousand proverbs:
     and his songs were a thousand and five. And he spake of trees,
     from the cedar-tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop
     that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and
     of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes. And there came
     of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of
     the earth, which had heard of his wisdom."

The tradition of his great eminence in scientific research is also
preserved in the words put into his mouth in the Book of the Wisdom of
Solomon, now included in the Apocrypha.

     "For" (God) "Himself gave me an unerring knowledge of the
     things that are, to know the constitution of the world, and
     the operation of the elements; the beginning and end and
     middle of times, the alternations of the solstices and the
     changes of seasons, the circuits of years and the positions"
     (_margin_, constellations) "of stars; the natures of living
     creatures and the ragings of wild beasts, the violences of
     winds and the thoughts of men, the diversities of plants and
     the virtues of roots: all things that are either secret or
     manifest I learned, for she that is the artificer of all
     things taught me, even Wisdom."

Two great names have impressed themselves upon every part of the
East:--the one, that of Solomon the son of David, as the master of every
secret source of knowledge; and the other that of Alexander the Great,
as the mightiest of conquerors. It is not unreasonable to believe that
the traditions respecting the first have been founded upon as real a
basis of actual achievement as those respecting the second.

But to such scientific achievements we have no express allusion in
Scripture, other than is afforded us by the two quotations just made.
Natural objects, natural phenomena are not referred to for their own
sake. Every thought leads up to God or to man's relation to Him.
Nature, as a whole and in its every aspect and detail, is the handiwork
of Jehovah: that is the truth which the heavens are always
declaring;--and it is His power, His wisdom, and His goodness to man
which it is sought to illustrate, when the beauty or wonder of natural
objects is described.

     "When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers,
      The moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained;
      What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?
      And the son of man, that Thou visitest him?"

The first purpose, therefore, of the following study of the astronomy of
the Bible is,--not to reconstruct the astronomy of the Hebrews, a task
for which the material is manifestly incomplete,--but to examine such
astronomical allusions as occur with respect to their appropriateness to
the lesson which the writer desired to teach. Following this, it will be
of interest to examine what connection can be traced between the Old
Testament Scriptures and the Constellations; the arrangement of the
stars into constellations having been the chief astronomical work
effected during the centuries when those Scriptures were severally
composed. The use made of the heavenly bodies as time-measurers amongst
the Hebrews will form a third division of the subject; whilst there are
two or three incidents in the history of Israel which appear to call for
examination from an astronomical point of view, and may suitably be
treated in a fourth and concluding section.


[7:1] _Astronomy in the Old Testament_, p. 12.



A few years ago a great eclipse of the sun, seen as total along a broad
belt of country right across India, drew thither astronomers from the
very ends of the earth. Not only did many English observers travel
thither, but the United States of America in the far west, and Japan in
the far east sent their contingents, and the entire length of country
covered by the path of the shadow was dotted with the temporary
observatories set up by the men of science.

It was a wonderful sight that was vouchsafed to these travellers in
pursuit of knowledge. In a sky of unbroken purity, undimmed even for a
moment by haze or cloud, there shone down the fierce Indian sun.
Gradually a dark mysterious circle invaded its lower edge, and covered
its brightness; coolness replaced the burning heat; slowly the dark
covering crept on; slowly the sunlight diminished until at length the
whole of the sun's disc was hidden. Then in a moment a wonderful
starlike form flashed out, a noble form of glowing silver light on the
deep purple-coloured sky.

There was, however, no time for the astronomers to devote to admiration
of the beauty of the scene, or indulgence in rhapsodies. Two short
minutes alone were allotted them to note all that was happening, to take
all their photographs, to ask all the questions, and obtain all the
answers for which this strange veiling of the sun, and still stranger
unveiling of his halo-like surroundings, gave opportunity. It was two
minutes of intensest strain, of hurried though orderly work; and then a
sudden rush of sunlight put an end to all. The mysterious vision had
withdrawn itself; the colour rushed back to the landscape, so
corpse-like whilst in the shadow; the black veil slid rapidly from off
the sun; the heat returned to the air; the eclipse was over.

But the astronomers from distant lands were not the only people engaged
in watching the eclipse. At their work, they could hear the sound of a
great multitude, a sound of weeping and wailing, a people dismayed at
the distress of their god.

It was so at every point along the shadow track, but especially where
that track met the course of the sacred river. Along a hundred roads the
pilgrims had poured in unceasing streams towards Holy Mother Gunga;
towards Benares, the sacred city; towards Buxar, where the eclipse was
central at the river bank. It is always meritorious--so the Hindoo
holds--to bathe in that sacred river, but such a time as this, when the
sun is in eclipse, is the most propitious moment of all for such

Could there be a greater contrast than that offered between the millions
trembling and dismayed at the signs of heaven, and the little companies
who had come for thousands of miles over land and sea, rejoicing in the
brief chance that was given them for learning a little more of the
secrets of the wonders of Nature?

The contrast between the heathen and the scientists was in both their
spiritual and their intellectual standpoint, and, as we shall see later,
the intellectual contrast is a result of the spiritual. The heathen idea
is that the orbs of heaven are divine, or at least that each expresses a
divinity. This does not in itself seem an unnatural idea when we
consider the great benefits that come to us through the instrumentality
of the sun and moon. It is the sun that morning by morning rolls back
the darkness, and brings light and warmth and returning life to men; it
is the sun that rouses the earth after her winter sleep and quickens
vegetation. It is the moon that has power over the great world of
waters, whose pulse beats in some kind of mysterious obedience to her

Natural, then, has it been for men to go further, and to suppose that
not only is power lodged in these, and in the other members of the
heavenly host, but that it is living, intelligent, personal power; that
these shining orbs are beings, or the manifestations of beings; exalted,
mighty, immortal;--that they are gods.

But if these are gods, then it is sacrilegious, it is profane, to treat
them as mere "things"; to observe them minutely in the microscope or
telescope; to dissect them, as it were, in the spectroscope; to identify
their elements in the laboratory; to be curious about their properties,
influences, relations, and actions on each other.

And if these are gods, there are many gods, not One God. And if there
are many gods, there are many laws, not one law. Thus scientific
observations cannot be reconciled with polytheism, for scientific
observations demand the assumption of one universal law. The wise king
expressed this law thus:--

"The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be." The actual
language of science, as expressed by Professor Thiele, a leading
Continental astronomer, states that--

     "Everything that exists, and everything that happens, exists
     or happens as a necessary consequence of a previous state of
     things. If a state of things is repeated in every detail, it
     must lead to exactly the same consequences. Any difference
     between the results of causes that are in part the same, must
     be explainable by some difference in the other part of the

     The law stated in the above words has been called the Law of
     Causality. It "cannot be proved, but must be believed; in the
     same way as we believe the fundamental assumptions of
     religion, with which it is closely and intimately connected.
     The law of causality forces itself upon our belief. It may be
     denied in theory, but not in practice. Any person who denies
     it, will, if he is watchful enough, catch himself constantly
     asking himself, if no one else, why _this_ has happened, and
     not _that_. But in that very question he bears witness to the
     law of causality. If we are consistently to deny the law of
     causality, we must repudiate all observation, and particularly
     all prediction based on past experience, as useless and

     "If we could imagine for an instant that the same complete
     combination of causes could have a definite number of
     different consequences, however small that number might be,
     and that among these the occurrence of the actual consequence
     was, in the old sense of the word, accidental, no observation
     would ever be of any particular value."[16:1]

So long as men hold, as a practical faith, that the results which attend
their efforts depend upon whether Jupiter is awake and active, or
Neptune is taking an unfair advantage of his brother's sleep; upon
whether Diana is bending her silver bow for the battle, or flying
weeping and discomfited because Juno has boxed her ears--so long is it
useless for them to make or consult observations.

But, as Professor Thiele goes on to say--

     "If the law of causality is acknowledged to be an assumption
     which always holds good, then every observation gives us a
     revelation which, when correctly appraised and compared with
     others, teaches us the laws by which God rules the world."

By what means have the modern scientists arrived at a position so
different from that of the heathen? It cannot have been by any process
of natural evolution that the intellectual standpoint which has made
scientific observation possible should be derived from the spiritual
standpoint of polytheism which rendered all scientific observation not
only profane but useless.

In the old days the heathen in general regarded the heavenly host and
the heavenly bodies as the heathen do to-day. But by one nation, the
Hebrews, the truth that--

     "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth"

was preserved in the first words of their Sacred Book. That nation

     "All the gods of the people are idols: but the Lord made the

For that same nation the watchword was--

     "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord."

From these words the Hebrews not only learned a great spiritual truth,
but derived intellectual freedom. For by these words they were taught
that all the host of heaven and of earth were created things--merely
"things," not divinities--and not only that, but that the Creator was
One God, not many gods; that there was but one law-giver; and that
therefore there could be no conflict of laws. These first words of
Genesis, then, may be called the charter of all the physical sciences,
for by them is conferred freedom from all the bonds of unscientific
superstition, and by them also do men know that consistent law holds
throughout the whole universe. It is the intellectual freedom of the
Hebrew that the scientist of to-day inherits. He may not indeed be able
to rise to the spiritual standpoint of the Hebrew, and consciously
acknowledge that--

     "Thou, even Thou, art Lord alone; Thou hast made heaven, the
     heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all
     things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein,
     and Thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven
     worshippeth Thee."

But he must at least unconsciously assent to it, for it is on the first
great fundamental assumption of religion as stated in the first words of
Genesis, that the fundamental assumption of all his scientific reasoning

Scientific reasoning and scientific observation can only hold good so
long and in so far as the Law of Causality holds good. We must assume a
pre-existing state of affairs which has given rise to the observed
effect; we must assume that this observed effect is itself antecedent to
a subsequent state of affairs. Science therefore cannot go back to the
absolute beginnings of things, or forward to the absolute ends of
things. It cannot reason about the way matter and energy came into
existence, or how they might cease to exist; it cannot reason about time
or space, as such, but only in the relations of these to phenomena that
can be observed. It does not deal with things themselves, but only with
the relations between things. Science indeed can only consider the
universe as a great machine which is in "going order," and it concerns
itself with the relations which some parts of the machine bear to other
parts, and with the laws and manner of the "going" of the machine in
those parts. The relations of the various parts, one to the other, and
the way in which they work together, may afford some idea of the design
and purpose of the machine, but it can give no information as to how the
material of which it is composed came into existence, nor as to the
method by which it was originally constructed. Once started, the
machine comes under the scrutiny of science, but the actual starting
lies outside its scope.

Men therefore cannot find out for themselves how the worlds were
originally made, how the worlds were first moved, or how the spirit of
man was first formed within him; and this, not merely because these
beginnings of things were of necessity outside his experience, but also
because beginnings, as such, must lie outside the law by which he

By no process of research, therefore, could man find out for himself the
facts that are stated in the first chapter of Genesis. They must have
been revealed. Science cannot inquire into them for the purpose of
checking their accuracy; it must accept them, as it accepts the
fundamental law that governs its own working, without the possibility of

And this is what has been revealed to man:--that the heaven and the
earth were not self-existent from all eternity, but were in their first
beginning created by God. As the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews
expresses it: "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed
by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of
things which do appear." And a further fact was revealed that man could
not have found out for himself; viz. that this creation was made and
finished in six Divine actings, comprised in what the narrative
denominates "days." It has not been revealed whether the duration of
these "days" can be expressed in any astronomical units of time.

Since under these conditions science can afford no information, it is
not to be wondered at that the hypotheses that have been framed from
time to time to "explain" the first chapter of Genesis, or to express it
in scientific terms, are not wholly satisfactory. At one time the
chapter was interpreted to mean that the entire universe was called into
existence about 6,000 years ago, in six days of twenty-four hours each.
Later it was recognized that both geology and astronomy seemed to
indicate the existence of matter for untold millions of years instead of
some six thousand. It was then pointed out that, so far as the narrative
was concerned, there might have been a period of almost unlimited
duration between its first verse and its fourth; and it was suggested
that the six days of creation were six days of twenty-four hours each,
in which, after some great cataclysm, 6,000 years ago, the face of the
earth was renewed and replenished for the habitation of man, the
preceding geological ages being left entirely unnoticed. Some writers
have confined the cataclysm and renewal to a small portion of the
earth's surface--to "Eden," and its neighbourhood. Other commentators
have laid stress on the truth revealed in Scripture that "one day is
with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day," and
have urged the argument that the six days of creation were really vast
periods of time, during which the earth's geological changes and the
evolution of its varied forms of life were running their course. Others,
again, have urged that the six days of creation were six literal days,
but instead of being consecutive were separated by long ages. And yet
again, as no man was present during the creation period, it has been
suggested that the Divine revelation of it was given to Moses or some
other inspired prophet in six successive visions or dreams, which
constituted the "six days" in which the chief facts of creation were set

All such hypotheses are based on the assumption that the opening
chapters of Genesis are intended to reveal to man certain physical
details in the material history of this planet; to be in fact a little
compendium of the geological and zoological history of the world, and so
a suitable introduction to the history of the early days of mankind
which followed it.

It is surely more reasonable to conclude that there was no purpose
whatever of teaching us anything about the physical relationships of
land and sea, of tree and plant, of bird and fish; it seems, indeed,
scarcely conceivable that it should have been the Divine intention so to
supply the ages with a condensed manual of the physical sciences. What
useful purpose could it have served? What man would have been the wiser
or better for it? Who could have understood it until the time when men,
by their own intellectual strivings, had attained sufficient knowledge
of their physical surroundings to do without such a revelation at all?

But although the opening chapters of Genesis were not designed to teach
the Hebrew certain physical facts of nature, they gave him the knowledge
that he might lawfully study nature. For he learnt from them that nature
has no power nor vitality of its own; that sun, and sea, and cloud, and
wind are not separate deities, nor the expression of deities that they
are but "things," however glorious and admirable; that they are the
handiwork of God; and--

     "The works of the Lord are great,
        Sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.
      His work is honour and majesty;
        And His righteousness endureth for ever.
      He hath made His wonderful works to be remembered."

What, then, is the significance of the detailed account given us of the
works effected on the successive days of creation? Why are we told that
light was made on the first day, the firmament on the second, dry land
on the third, and so on? Probably for two reasons. First, that the
rehearsal, as in a catalogue, of the leading classes of natural objects,
might give definiteness and precision to the teaching that each and all
were creatures, things made by the word of God. The bald statement that
the heaven and the earth were made by God might still have left room for
the imagination that the powers of nature were co-eternal with God, or
were at least subordinate divinities; or that other powers than God had
worked up into the present order the materials He had created. The
detailed account makes it clear that not only was the universe in
general created by God, but that there was no part of it that was not
fashioned by Him.

The next purpose was to set a seal of sanctity upon the Sabbath. In the
second chapter of Genesis we read--

     "On the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and
     He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had
     made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it:
     because that in it He had rested from all His work which God
     created and made."

In this we get the institution of the _week_, the first ordinance
imposed by God upon man. For in the fourth of the ten commandments which
God gave through Moses, it is said--

     "The seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it
     thou shalt not do any work. . . . For in six days the Lord
     made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and
     rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath
     day, and hallowed it."

And again, when the tabernacle was being builded, it was commanded--

     "The children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the
     sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual
     covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel
     for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and
     on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed."

God made the sun, moon, and stars, and appointed them "for signs, and
for seasons, and for days, and years." The sun marks out the days; the
moon by her changes makes the months; the sun and the stars mark out the
seasons and the years. These were divisions of time which man would
naturally adopt. But there is not an exact number of days in the month,
nor an exact number of days or months in the year. Still less does the
period of seven days fit precisely into month or season or year; the
week is marked out by no phase of the moon, by no fixed relation between
the sun, the moon, or the stars. It is not a division of time that man
would naturally adopt for himself; it runs across all the natural
divisions of time.

What are the six days of creative work, and the seventh day--the
Sabbath--of creative rest? They are not days of man, they are days of
God; and our days of work and rest, our week with its Sabbath, can only
be the figure and shadow of that week of God; something by which we may
gain some faint apprehension of its realities, not that by which we can
comprehend and measure it.

Our week, therefore, is God's own direct appointment to us; and His
revelation that He fulfilled the work of creation in six acts or stages,
dignifies and exalts the toil of the labouring man, with his six days of
effort and one of rest, into an emblem of the creative work of God.


[15:1] T. N. Thiele, Director of the Copenhagen Observatory, _Theory of
Observations_, p. 1.

[16:1] T. N. Thiele, Director of the Copenhagen Observatory, _Theory of
Observations_, p. 1.


[_To face p. 25._

Sculpture from the Palace of Assur-nazir-pel, King of Assyria. Now in
the British Museum. Damaged by fire. Supposed to represent the defeat of
Tiamat by Merodach.]



The second verse of Genesis states, "And the earth was without form and
void [_i. e._ waste and empty] and darkness was upon the face of the
deep." The word _tehōm_, here translated _deep_, has been used to
support the theory that the Hebrews derived their Creation story from
one which, when exiles in Babylon, they heard from their conquerors. If
this theory were substantiated, it would have such an important bearing
upon the subject of the attitude of the inspired writers towards the
objects of nature, that a little space must be spared for its

The purpose of the first chapter of Genesis is to tell us that--

     "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."

From it we learn that the universe and all the parts that make it
up--all the different forms of energy, all the different forms of
matter--are neither deities themselves, nor their embodiments and
expressions, nor the work of conflicting deities. From it we learn that
the universe is not self-existent, nor even (as the pantheist thinks of
it) the expression of one vague, impersonal and unconscious, but
all-pervading influence. It was not self-made; it did not exist from all
eternity. It is not God, for God made it.

But the problem of its origin has exercised the minds of many nations
beside the Hebrews, and an especial interest attaches to the solution
arrived at by those nations who were near neighbours of the Hebrews and
came of the same great Semitic stock.

From the nature of the case, accounts of the origin of the world cannot
proceed from experience, or be the result of scientific experiment. They
cannot form items of history, or arise from tradition. There are only
two possible sources for them; one, Divine revelation; the other, the
invention of men.

The account current amongst the Babylonians has been preserved to us by
the Syrian writer Damascius, who gives it as follows:--

     "But the Babylonians, like the rest of the Barbarians, pass
     over in silence the one principle of the Universe, and they
     constitute two, Tavthê and Apasôn, making Apasôn the husband
     of Tavthê, and denominating her "the mother of the gods." And
     from these proceeds an only-begotten son, Mumis, which, I
     conceive, is no other than the intelligible world proceeding
     from the two principles. From them also another progeny is
     derived, Lakhê and Lakhos; and again a third, Kissarê and
     Assôros, from which last three others proceed, Anos and
     Illinos and Aos. And of Aos and Dakhê is born a son called
     Bêlos, who, they say, is the fabricator of the world."[26:1]

The actual story, thus summarized by Damascius, was discovered by Mr.
George Smith, in the form of a long epic poem, on a series of tablets,
brought from the royal library of Kouyunjik, or Nineveh, and he
published them in 1875, in his book on _The Chaldean Account of
Genesis_. None of the tablets were perfect; and of some only very small
portions remain. But portions of other copies of the poem have been
discovered in other localities, and it has been found possible to piece
together satisfactorily a considerable section, so that a fair idea of
the general scope of the poem has been given to us.

It opens with the introduction of a being, Tiamtu--the Tavthê of the
account of Damascius,--who is regarded as the primeval mother of all

     "When on high the heavens were unnamed,
      Beneath the earth bore not a name:
      The primeval ocean was their producer;
      Mummu Tiamtu was she who begot the whole of them.
      Their waters in one united themselves, and
      The plains were not outlined, marshes were not to be seen.
      When none of the gods had come forth,
      They bore no name, the fates (had not been determined)
      There were produced the gods (all of them)."[27:1]

The genealogy of the gods follows, and after a gap in the story, Tiamat,
or Tiamtu, is represented as preparing for battle, "She who created
everything . . . produced giant serpents." She chose one of the gods,
Kingu, to be her husband and the general of her forces, and delivered to
him the tablets of fate.

The second tablet shows the god Anšar, angered at the threatening
attitude of Tiamat, and sending his son Anu to speak soothingly to her
and calm her rage. But first Anu and then another god turned back
baffled, and finally Merodach, the son of Ea, was asked to become the
champion of the gods. Merodach gladly consented, but made good terms for
himself. The gods were to assist him in every possible way by entrusting
all their powers to him, and were to acknowledge him as first and chief
of all. The gods in their extremity were nothing loth. They feasted
Merodach and, when swollen with wine, endued him with all magical
powers, and hailed him--

     "Merodach, thou art he who is our avenger,
      (Over) the whole universe have we given thee the kingdom."[28:1]

At first the sight of his terrible enemy caused even Merodach to falter,
but plucking up courage he advanced to meet her, caught her in his net,
and, forcing an evil wind into her open mouth--

     "He made the evil wind enter so that she could not close her lips.
      The violence of the winds tortured her stomach, and
      her heart was prostrated and her mouth was twisted.
      He swung the club, he shattered her stomach;
      he cut out her entrails; he over-mastered (her) heart;
      he bound her and ended her life.
      He threw down her corpse; he stood upon it."[28:2]

The battle over and the enemy slain, Merodach considered how to dispose
of the corpse.

     "He strengthens his mind, he forms a clever plan,
      And he stripped her of her skin like a fish, according to his

Of one half of the corpse of Tiamat he formed the earth, and of the
other half, the heavens. He then proceded to furnish the heavens and the
earth with their respective equipments; the details of this work
occupying apparently the fifth, sixth, and seventh tablets of the

Under ordinary circumstances such a legend as the foregoing would not
have attracted much attention. It is as barbarous and unintelligent as
any myth of Zulu or Fijian. Strictly speaking, it is not a Creation myth
at all. Tiamat and her serpent-brood and the gods are all existent
before Merodach commences his work, and all that the god effects is a
reconstruction of the world. The method of this reconstruction possesses
no features superior to those of the Creation myths of other barbarous
nations. Our own Scandinavian ancestors had a similar one, the setting
of which was certainly not inferior to the grotesque battle of Merodach
with Tiamat. The prose Edda tells us that the first man, Bur, was the
father of Bör, who was in turn the father of Odin and his two brothers
Vili and Ve. These sons of Bör slew Ymir, the old frost giant.

     "They dragged the body of Ymir into the middle of Ginnungagap,
     and of it formed the earth. From Ymir's blood they made the
     sea and waters; from his flesh, the land; from his bones, the
     mountains; and his teeth and jaws, together with some bits of
     broken bones, served them to make the stones and pebbles."

It will be seen that there is a remarkable likeness between the
Babylonian and Scandinavian myths in the central and essential feature
of each, viz. the way in which the world is supposed to have been built
up by the gods from the fragments of the anatomy of a huge primæval
monster. Yet it is not urged that there is any direct genetic connection
between the two; that the Babylonians either taught their legend to the
Scandinavians or learnt it from them.

Under ordinary circumstances it would hardly have occurred to any one to
try to derive the monotheistic narrative of Gen. i. from either of these
pagan myths, crowded as they are with uncouth and barbarous details. But
it happened that Mr. George Smith, who brought to light the Assyrian
Creation tablets, brought also to light a Babylonian account of the
Flood, which had a large number of features in common with the narrative
of Gen. vi.-ix. The actual resemblance between the two Deluge narratives
has caused a resemblance to be imagined between the two Creation
narratives. It has been well brought out in some of the later comments
of Assyriologists that, so far from there being any resemblance in the
Babylonian legend to the narrative in Genesis, the two accounts differ
_in toto_. Mr. T. G. Pinches, for example, points out that in the
Babylonian account there is--

     "No direct statement of the creation of the heavens and the

     "No systematic division of the things created into groups and
     classes, such as is found in Genesis;

     "No reference to the Days of Creation;

     "No appearance of the Deity as the first and only cause of the
     existence of things."[30:1]

Indeed, in the Babylonian account, "the heavens and the earth are
represented as existing, though in a chaotic form, from the first."

Yet on this purely imaginary resemblance between the Biblical and
Babylonian Creation narratives the legend has been founded "that the
introductory chapters of the Book of Genesis present to us the Hebrew
version of a mythology common to many of the Semitic peoples." And the
legend has been yet further developed, until writers of the standing of
Prof. Friedrich Delitzsch have claimed that the Genesis narrative was
_borrowed_ from the Babylonian, though "the priestly scholar who
composed Genesis, chapter i. endeavoured of course to remove all
possible mythological features of this Creation story."[31:1]

If the Hebrew priest did borrow from the Babylonian myth, what was it
that he borrowed? Not the existence of sea and land, of sun and moon, of
plants and animals, of birds and beasts and fishes. For surely the
Hebrew may be credited with knowing this much of himself, without any
need for a transportation to Babylon to learn it. "In writing an account
of the Creation, statements as to what are the things created must of
necessity be inserted,"[31:2] whenever, wherever, and by whomsoever that
account is written.

What else, then, is there common to the two accounts? _Tiamat_ is the
name given to the Babylonian mother of the universe, the dragon of the
deep; and in Genesis it is written that "darkness was upon the face of
the _deep_ (_tehōm_)."

Here, and here only, is a point of possible connection; but if it be
evidence of a connection, what kind of a connection does it imply? It
implies that the Babylonian based his barbarous myth upon the Hebrew
narrative. There is no other possible way of interpreting the
connection,--if connection there be.

The Hebrew word would seem to mean, etymologically, "_surges_,"
"_storm-tossed waters_,"--"Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of Thy
waterspouts." Our word "_deep_" is apt to give us the idea of
stillness--we have the proverb, "Still waters run deep,"--whereas in
some instances _tehōm_ is used in Scripture of waters which were
certainly shallow, as, for instance, those passed through by Israel at
the Red Sea:--

     "Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath He cast into the sea:
     his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea. The
     _depths_ have covered them."

In other passages the words used in our Authorized Version, "_deep_" or
"_depths_," give the correct signification.

But deep waters, or waters in commotion, are in either case natural
objects. We get the word _tehōm_ used continually in Scripture in a
perfectly matter-of-fact way, where there is no possibility of
personification or myth being intended. Tiamat, on the contrary, the
Babylonian dragon of the waters, is a mythological personification. Now
the natural object must come first. It never yet has been the case that
a nation has gained its knowledge of a perfectly common natural object
by de-mythologizing one of the mythological personifications of another
nation. The Israelites did not learn about _tehōm_, the surging water
of the Red Sea, that rolled over the Egyptians in their sight, from any
Babylonian fable of a dragon of the waters, read by their descendants
hundreds of years later.

Yet further, the Babylonian account of Creation is comparatively late;
the Hebrew account, as certainly, comparatively early. It is not merely
that the actual cuneiform tablets are of date about 700 B.C., coming as
they do from the Kouyunjik mound, the ruins of the palace of Sennacherib
and Assurbanipal, built about that date. The poem itself, as Prof. Sayce
has pointed out, indicates, by the peculiar pre-eminence given in it to
Merodach, that it is of late composition. It was late in the history of
Babylon that Merodach was adopted as the supreme deity. The astronomical
references in the poem are more conclusive still, for, as will be shown
later on, they point to a development of astronomy that cannot be dated
earlier than 700 B.C.

On the other hand, the first chapter of Genesis was composed very early.
The references to the heavenly bodies in verse 16 bear the marks of the
most primitive condition possible of astronomy. The heavenly bodies are
simply the greater light, the lesser light, and the stars--the last
being introduced quite parenthetically. It is the simplest reference to
the heavenly bodies that is made in Scripture, or that, indeed, could be

There may well have been Babylonians who held higher conceptions of God
and nature than those given in the Tiamat myth. It is certain that very
many Hebrews fell short of the teaching conveyed in the first chapter of
Genesis. But the fact remains that the one nation preserved the Tiamat
myth, the other the narrative of Genesis, and each counted its own
Creation story sacred. We can only rightly judge the two nations by what
they valued. Thus judged, the Hebrew nation stands as high above the
Babylonian in intelligence, as well as in faith, as the first chapter of
Genesis is above the Tiamat myth.


[26:1] _Records of the Past_, vol. i. p. 124.

[27:1] _The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records of
Assyria and Babylonia_, by T. G. Pinches, p. 16.

[28:1] _The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records of
Assyria and Babylonia_, by T. G. Pinches, p. 16.

[28:2] _Records of the Past_, vol. i. p. 140.

[28:3] _Ibid._ p. 142.

[30:1] _The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records of
Assyria and Babylonia_, by T. G. Pinches, p. 49.

[31:1] _Babel and Bible_, Johns' translation, pp. 36 and 37.

[31:2] _The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records of
Assyria and Babylonia_, by T. G. Pinches, p. 48.



The sixth verse of the first chapter of Genesis presents a difficulty as
to the precise meaning of the principal word, viz. that translated

     "And God said, Let there be a _rāqiā‘_ in the midst of the
     waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God
     made the _rāqiā‘_, and divided the waters which were under the
     _rāqiā‘_ from the waters which were above the _rāqiā‘_: and it
     was so. And God called the _rāqiā‘_ _Shamayim_. And the
     evening and the morning were the second day."

It is, of course, perfectly clear that by the word _rāqiā‘_ in the
preceding passage it is the atmosphere that is alluded to. But later on
in the chapter the word is used in a slightly different connection. "God
said, Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven."

As we look upward from the earth, we look through a twofold medium. Near
the earth we have our atmosphere; above that there is inter-stellar
space, void of anything, so far as we know, except the Ether. We are not
able to detect any line of demarcation where our atmosphere ends, and
the outer void begins. Both therefore are equally spoken of as "the
firmament"; and yet there is a difference between the two. The lower
supports the clouds; in the upper are set the two great lights and the
stars. The upper, therefore, is emphatically _reqiā‘ hasshamayim_, "the
firmament of heaven," of the "uplifted." It is "in the face of"--that
is, "before," or "under the eyes of," "beneath,"--this higher expanse
that the fowls of the air fly to and fro.

The firmament, then, is that which Tennyson sings of as "the central
blue," the seeming vault of the sky, which we can consider as at any
height above us that we please. The clouds are above it in one sense;
yet in another, sun, moon and stars, which are clearly far higher than
the clouds, are set in it.

There is no question therefore as to what is referred to by the word
"firmament"; but there is a question as to the etymological meaning of
the word, and associated with that, a question as to how the Hebrews
themselves conceived of the celestial vault.

The word _rāqiā‘_, translated "firmament," properly signifies "an
expanse," or "extension," something stretched or beaten out. The verb
from which this noun is derived is often used in Scripture, both as
referring to the heavens and in other connections. Thus in Job xxxvii.
18, the question is asked, "Canst thou with Him _spread out_ the sky,
which is strong as a molten mirror?" Eleazar, the priest, after the
rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram took the brazen censers of the
rebels, and they were "_made broad_ plates for a covering of the altar."
The goldsmith described by Isaiah as making an idol, "_spreadeth it
over_ with gold"; whilst Jeremiah says, "silver _spread_ into plates is
brought from Tarshish." Again, in Psalm cxxxvi., in the account of
creation we have the same word used with reference to the earth, "To him
that _stretched out_ the earth above the waters." In this and in many
other passages the idea of extension is clearly that which the word is
intended to convey. But the Seventy, in making the Greek Version of the
Old Testament, were naturally influenced by the views of astronomical
science then held in Alexandria, the centre of Greek astronomy. Here,
and at this time, the doctrine of the crystalline spheres--a
misunderstanding of the mathematical researches of Eudoxus and
others--held currency. These spheres were supposed to be a succession of
perfectly transparent and invisible solid shells, in which the sun,
moon, and planets were severally placed. The Seventy no doubt considered
that in rendering _rāqiā‘_, by _stereōma_, i. e. firmament, thus
conveying the idea of a solid structure, they were speaking the last
word of up-to-date science.

There should be no reluctance in ascribing to the Hebrews an erroneous
scientific conception if there is any evidence that they held it. We
cannot too clearly realize that the writers of the Scriptures were not
supernaturally inspired to give correct technical scientific
descriptions; and supposing they had been so inspired, we must bear in
mind that we should often consider those descriptions wrong just in
proportion to their correctness, for the very sufficient reason that not
even our own science of to-day has yet reached finality in all things.

There should be no reluctance in ascribing to the Hebrews an erroneous
scientific conception if there is any evidence that they held it. In
this case, there is no such evidence; indeed, there is strong evidence
to the contrary.

The Hebrew word _rāqiā‘_, as already shown, really signifies
"extension," just as the word for heaven, _shamayim_ means the
"uplifted." In these two words, therefore, significant respectively of a
surface and of height, there is a recognition of the "three
dimensions,"--in other words, of Space.

When we wish to refer to super-terrestrial space, we have two
expressions in modern English by which to describe it: we can speak of
"the vault of heaven," or of "the canopy of heaven." "The vault of
heaven" is most used, it has indeed been recently adopted as the title
of a scientific work by a well-known astronomer. But the word _vault_
certainly gives the suggestion of a solid structure; whilst the word
_canopy_ calls up the idea of a slighter covering, probably of some
textile fabric.

The reasons for thinking that the Hebrews did not consider the
"firmament" a solid structure are, first, that the word does not
necessarily convey that meaning; next, that the attitude of the Hebrew
mind towards nature was not such as to require this idea. The question,
"What holds up the waters above the firmament?" would not have troubled
them. It would have been sufficient for them, as for the writer to the
Hebrews, to consider that God was "upholding all things by the word of
His power," and they would not have troubled about the machinery. But
besides this, there are many passages in Scripture, some occurring in
the earliest books, which expressly speak of the clouds as carrying the
water; so that the expressions placing waters "above the firmament," or
"above the heavens," can mean no more than "in the clouds." Indeed, as
we shall see, quite a clear account is given of the atmospheric
circulation, such as could hardly be mended by a modern poet.

It is true that David sang that "the _foundations_ of heaven moved and
shook, because He was wroth," and Job says that "the _pillars_ of heaven
tremble and are astonished at His reproof." But not only are the
references to foundations and pillars evidently intended merely as
poetic imagery, but they are also used much more frequently of the
earth, and yet at the same time Job expressly points out that God
"stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth
upon nothing." The Hebrew formed no ideas like those of the Hindus, who
thought the earth supported by elephants, the elephants by a tortoise,
the tortoise by a snake.

In Scripture, in most cases the word "earth" (_eretz_) does not mean the
solid mass of this our planet, but only its surface; the "dry land" as
opposed to the "seas"; the countries, the dwelling place of man and
beast. The "pillars" or "foundations" of the earth in this sense are the
great systems of the rocks, and these were conceived of as directly
supported by the power of God, without any need of intermediary
structures. The Hebrew clearly recognized that it is the will of God
alone that keeps the whole secure.

Thus Hannah sang--

     "The pillars of the earth are the Lord's,
        And He hath set the world upon them."

And Asaph represents the Lord as saying:--

     "The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved:
        I bear up the pillars of it."

Yet again, just as we speak of "the celestial canopy," so Psalm civ.
describes the Lord as He "who stretchest out the heavens like a
curtain," and Isaiah gives the image in a fuller form,--"that stretcheth
out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell
in." The same expression of "stretching out the heavens" is repeatedly
used in Isaiah; it is indeed one of his typical phrases. Here, beyond
question, extension, spreading out, is the idea sought to be conveyed,
not that of solidity.

The prophet Amos uses yet another parallel. "It is He that buildeth His
stories in the heaven." While Isaiah speaks of the entire stellar
universe as the tent or pavilion of Jehovah, Amos likens the height of
the heavens as the steps up to His throne; the "stories" are the
"ascent," as Moses speaks of the "ascent of Akrabbim," and David makes
"the ascent" of the Mount of Olives. The Hebrews cannot have regarded
the heavens as, literally, both staircase and reservoir.

The firmament, _i. e._ the atmosphere, is spoken of as dividing between
the waters that are under the firmament, _i. e._ oceans, seas, rivers,
etc., from the waters that are above the firmament, _i. e._ the masses
of water vapour carried by the atmosphere, seen in the clouds, and
condensing from them as rain. We get the very same expression as this of
the "waters which were above" in the Psalm of Praise:--

     "Praise Him, ye heavens of heavens,
     And ye waters that be above the heavens;"

and again in the Song of the Three Children:--

     "O all ye waters that be above the heaven, bless ye the Lord."

In the later books of the Bible the subject of the circulation of water
through the atmosphere is referred to much more fully. Twice over the
prophet Amos describes Jehovah as "He that calleth for the waters of the
sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth." This is not
merely a reference to the tides, for the Preacher in the book of
Ecclesiastes expressly points out that "all the rivers run into the sea,
yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come,
thither they return again"; and Isaiah seems to employ something of the
same thought:

     "For as the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven, and
     returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it
     bring forth and bud, and giveth seed to the sower and bread to
     the eater."

Schiaparelli indeed argues that this very passage from Isaiah "expressly
excludes any idea of an atmospheric circulation of waters"[41:1] on the
ground that the water so falling is thought to be transmuted into seeds
and fruits. But surely the image is as true as it is beautiful! The rain
is absorbed by vegetation, and is transmuted into seeds and fruit, and
it would go hard to say that the same particles of rain are again
evaporated and taken up afresh into the clouds. Besides, if we complete
the quotation we find that what is stated is that the rain does not
return _until_ it has accomplished its purpose:--

     "So shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it
     shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that
     which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I
     sent it."

Elihu describes the process of evaporation precisely:--

     "Behold, God is great, and we know Him not;
      The number of His years is unsearchable.
      For He draweth up the drops of water,
      Which distil in rain from His vapour:
      Which the skies pour down
      And drop upon man abundantly."

Throughout the books of Holy Scripture, the connection between the
clouds and the rain is clearly borne in mind. Deborah says in her song
"the clouds dropped water." In the Psalms there are many references. In
lxxvii. 17, "The clouds poured out water;" in cxlvii. 8, "Who covereth
the heaven with clouds, Who prepareth rain for the earth." Proverbs xvi.
15, "His favour is as a cloud of the latter rain." The Preacher says
that "clouds return after the rain"; and Isaiah, "I will also command
the clouds that they rain no rain upon it"; and Jude, "Clouds they are
without water, carried about of winds."

The clouds, too, were not conceived as being heavy. Nahum says that "the
clouds are the dust of His feet," and Isaiah speaks of "a cloud of dew
in the heat of harvest." The Preacher clearly understood that "the
waters above" were not pent in by solid barriers; that they were
carried by the clouds; for "if the clouds be full of rain, they empty
themselves upon the earth." And Job says of Jehovah, "He bindeth up the
waters in His thick clouds, and the cloud is not rent under them;" and,
later, Jehovah Himself asks:--

     "Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds,
      That abundance of waters may cover thee?

            *       *       *       *       *

      Who can number the clouds by wisdom,
      Or who can pour out the bottles of heaven?"

The Hebrews, therefore, were quite aware that the waters of the sea were
drawn up into the atmosphere by evaporation, and were carried by it in
the form of clouds. No doubt their knowledge in this respect, as in
others, was the growth of time. But there is no need to suppose that,
even in the earlier stages of their development, the Hebrews thought of
the "waters that be above the heavens" as contained in a literal cistern
overhead. Still less is there reason to adopt Prof. Schiaparelli's
strange deduction: "Considering the spherical and convex shape of the
firmament, the upper waters could not remain above without a second wall
to hold them in at the sides and the top. So a second vault above the
vault of the firmament closes in, together with the firmament, a space
where are the storehouses of rain, hail, and snow."[43:1] There seems to
be nowhere in Scripture the slightest hint or suggestion of any such
second vault; certainly not in the beautiful passage to which Prof.
Schiaparelli is here referring.

     "Where is the way to the dwelling of light,
      And as for darkness, where is the place thereof;
      That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof,
      And that thou shouldst discern the paths to the house thereof.

            *       *       *       *       *

      Hast thou entered the treasuries of the snow,
      Or hast thou seen the treasuries of the hail,
      Which I have reserved against the time of trouble,
      Against the day of battle and war?
      By what way is the light parted,
      Or the east wind scattered upon the earth?
      Who hath cleft a channel for the water-flood,
      Or a way for the lightning of the thunder;

           *       *       *       *       *

                Hath the rain a father?
      Or who hath begotten the drops of dew?
      Out of whose womb came the ice?
      And the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it?"

The Song of David, Psalm xviii., clearly shows that its writer held no
fantasy of a solidly built cistern of waters in the sky, but thought of
the "dark waters" in the heavens, as identical with the "thick clouds."
The passage is worth quoting at some length, not merely as supplying a
magnificent word picture of a storm, but as showing the free and
courageous spirit of the Hebrew poet, a spirit more emancipated than can
be found in any other nation of antiquity. It was not only the gentler
aspect of nature that attracted him; even for its most terrible, he had
a sympathy, rising, under the influence of his strong faith in God, into
positive exultation in it.

     "In my distress I called upon the Lord,
      And cried unto my God:
      He heard my voice out of His temple,
      And my cry before Him came into His ears.
      Then the earth shook and trembled,
      The foundations also of the mountains moved
      And were shaken, because He was wroth.
      There went up a smoke out of His nostrils,
      And fire out of His mouth devoured:
      Coals were kindled by it.
      He bowed the heavens also, and came down;
      And thick darkness was under His feet.
      And He rode upon a cherub, and did fly:
      Yea, He flew swiftly upon the wings of the wind.
      He made darkness His hiding place,
      His pavilion round about Him;
      Darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies.
      At the brightness before Him His thick clouds passed,
      Hailstones and coals of fire.
      The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
      And the Most High uttered His voice;
      Hailstones and coals of fire.
      And He sent out His arrows, and scattered them;
      Yea lightnings manifold, and discomfited them.
      Then the channels of waters appeared,
      And the foundations of the world were laid bare,
      At Thy rebuke, O Lord,
      At the blast of the breath of Thy nostrils.
      He sent from on high, He took me;
      He drew me out of many waters.
      He delivered me from my strong enemy,
      And from them that hated me, for they were too mighty for me."

Two other passages point to the circulation of water vapour upward from
the earth before its descent as rain; one in the prophecy of Jeremiah,
the other, almost identical with it, in Psalm cxxxv. 7: "When He
uttereth His voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and He
causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; He maketh
lightnings for the rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of His
treasuries." Here we get a hint of a close observing of nature among
the Hebrews. For by the foreshortening that clouds undergo in the
distance, they inevitably appear to form chiefly on the horizon, "at the
ends of the earth," whence they move upwards towards the zenith.

A further reference to clouds reveals not observation only but acute
reflection, though it leaves the mystery without solution. "Dost thou
know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of Him Which is
perfect in knowledge?" There is a deep mystery here, which science is
far from having completely solved, how it is that the clouds float, each
in its own place, at its own level; each perfectly "balanced" in the
thin air.

     "That mist which lies in the morning so softly in the valley,
     level and white, through which the tops of the trees rise as
     if through an inundation--why is _it_ so heavy? and why does
     it lie so low, being yet so thin and frail that it will melt
     away utterly into splendour of morning, when the sun has shone
     on it but a few moments more? Those colossal pyramids, huge
     and firm, with outlines as of rocks, and strength to bear the
     beating of the high sun full on their fiery flanks--why are
     _they_ so light--their bases high over our heads, high over
     the heads of Alps? why will these melt away, not as the sun
     rises, but as he descends, and leave the stars of twilight
     clear, while the valley vapour gains again upon the earth like
     a shroud?"[46:1]

The fact of the "balancing" has been brought home to us during the past
hundred years very vividly by the progress of aërial navigation.
Balloons are objects too familiar even to our children to cause them any
surprise, and every one knows how instantly a balloon, when in the
air, rises up higher if a few pounds of ballast are thrown out, or sinks
if a little of the gas is allowed to escape. We know of no balancing
more delicate than this, of a body floating in the air.

[Illustration: CIRRUS FROM SOUTH KENSINGTON, 1906, MAY 29.]

[Illustration: CUMULI FROM TUNBRIDGE WELLS, 1906, MAY 20.

(Photographs of clouds, taken by Dr. W. J. S. Lockyer.)

"Dost thou know the balancing of the clouds?"]

"The spreadings of the clouds," mentioned by Elihu are of the same
nature as their "balancings," but the expression is less remarkable. The
"spreading" is a thing manifest to all, but it required the mind both of
a poet and a man of science to appreciate that such spreading involved a
delicate poising of each cloud in its place.

The heavy rain which fell at the time of the Deluge is indeed spoken of
as if it were water let out of a reservoir by its floodgates,--"the
windows of heaven were opened;" but it seems to show some dulness on the
part of an objector to argue that this expression involves the idea of a
literal stone built reservoir with its sluices. Those who have actually
seen tropical rain in full violence will find the Scriptural phrase not
merely appropriate but almost inevitable. The rain does indeed fall like
hitherto pent-up waters rushing forth at the opening of a sluice, and it
seems unreasonable to try to place too literal an interpretation upon so
suitable a simile.

There is the less reason to insist upon this very matter-of-fact
rendering of the "windows of heaven," that in two out of the three
connections in which it occurs, the expression is certainly used
metaphorically. On the occasion of the famine in the city of Samaria,
Elisha prophesied that--

     "To-morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be
     sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in
     the gate of Samaria. Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned
     answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the Lord would
     make windows in heaven, might this thing be?"

So again Malachi exhorted the Jews after the Return from Babylon:--

     "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may
     be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the
     Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven,
     and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room
     enough to receive it."

In neither case can the "windows of heaven" have been meant by the
speaker to convey the idea of the sluice-gates of an actual,
solidly-built reservoir in the sky.

One other cloud fact--their dissipation as the sun rises high in the
heavens--is noticed in one of the most tender and pathetic passages in
all the prophetic Scriptures. The Lord, by the mouth of Hosea, is
mourning over the instability of His people. "O Ephraim, what shall I do
unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? For your goodness is as a
morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away."

The winds of heaven were considered as four in number, corresponding to
our own four "cardinal points." Thus the great horn of Daniel's he-goat
was broken and succeeded by four notable horns toward the four winds of
heaven; as the empire of Alexander the Great was divided amongst his
four generals. In Ezekiel's vision of the dry bones the prophet prays,
"Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain;" and
Jeremiah foretells that "the four winds from the four quarters of
heaven" shall be brought upon Elam, and scatter its outcasts into every

The circulation of the winds is clearly set forth by the Preacher in the
Book of Ecclesiastes.

     "The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the
     north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth
     again according to his circuits."

Of the four quarters, the Hebrews reckoned the east as first. It was to
the east that they supposed themselves always looking. The chief word
for east, therefore, _kedem_, means "that which is before," "the front";
and the word next in use is, naturally, _mizrach_, the rising of the
sun. The west is, as naturally, _mebō hasshemesh_, the going down of
the sun; but as the Mediterranean Sea lay to the westward of Palestine
"the sea" (_yam_) is frequently put instead of that point of the
compass. With the east in front, the south becomes the right, and the
north the left. The south also was _negeb_, the desert, since the desert
shut in Palestine to the south, as the sea to the west. In opposition to
_tsaphon_, the dark or hidden north, the south is _darom_, the bright
and sunny region.

The phrase "four corners of the earth" does not imply that the Hebrews
thought of the earth as square. Several expressions on the contrary show
that they thought of it as circular. The Lord "sitteth upon the circle
of the earth," and in another passage the same form is applied to the
ocean. "He set a compass (_margin_ circle) upon the face of the depth."
This circle is no doubt the circle of the visible horizon, within which
earth and sea are spread out apparently as a plain; above it "the vault
of heaven" (Job xxii. 14; R.V. _margin_) is arched. There does not
appear to be allusion, anywhere in Scripture, to the spherical form of
the earth.

The Hebrew knowledge of the extent of the terrestrial plain was of
course very limited, but it would seem that, like many other nations of
antiquity, they supposed that the ocean occupied the outer part of the
circle surrounding the land which was in the centre. This may be
inferred from Job's statement--

     "He hath described a boundary upon the face of the waters,
      Unto the confines of light and darkness."

The boundary of the world is represented as being "described," or more
properly "circumscribed," drawn as a circle, upon the ocean. This ocean
is considered as essentially one, exactly as by actual exploration we
now know it to be;--"Let the waters under the heaven be gathered
together unto one place;"--all the oceans and seas communicate.

Beneath the earth there are the waters. The Lord hath founded the world
"upon the seas, and established it upon the floods," and (Psalm cxxxvi.
6) "stretched out the earth above the waters." This for the most part
means simply that the water surface lies lower than the land surface.
But there are waters,--other than those of the ocean,--which are, in a
strict sense, beneath the earth; the subterranean waters, which though
in the very substance of the earth, and existing there in an altogether
different way from the great masses of water we see upon the surface,
form a water system, which may legitimately be termed a kind of ocean
underground. From these subterranean waters our springs issue forth, and
it is these waters we tap in our wells. Of the cedar in Lebanon Ezekiel
spoke: "The waters made him great, the deep set him up on high with her
rivers running round about his plants, and sent out her little rivers
(_margin_, conduits) unto all the trees of the field." The "deep,"
_tehōm_, applies therefore, not merely to the restless waters of the
ocean, but to these unseen waters as well; and means, not merely
"surging waters," but depths of any kind. When in the great Deluge the
floodgates of heaven were opened, these "fountains of the great deep
were broken up" as well. And later both fountains and windows were
"stopped." So the Lord asks Job, "Hast thou entered into the springs of
the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?" and in
Proverbs it is said of the Lord, "By His knowledge the depths are broken
up, and the clouds drop down the dew."

The tides upon the sea-coast of Palestine are very slight, but some have
seen a reference to them in Jer. v. 22 where the Lord says, I "have
placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it
cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can
they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it." More
probably the idea to be conveyed is merely that of the restraint of the
sea to its proper basin, as in the passage where the Lord asks Job, "Who
shut up the sea with doors when it brake forth, as if it had issued out
of the womb?" And the writer of Proverbs sums all up:--

     "When He prepared the heavens I [Wisdom] was there: when He
     set a compass upon the face of the depth: when He established
     the clouds above: when He strengthened the fountains of the
     deep: when He gave to the sea His decree, that the waters
     should not pass His commandment: when He appointed the
     foundations of the earth."


[41:1] _Astronomy in the Old Testament_, p. 33 note.

[43:1] _Astronomy in the Old Testament_, p. 32.

[46:1] Ruskin, _Modern Painters_, part vii. chap. i.



As has been already pointed out, the astronomical references in
Scripture are not numerous, and probably give but an inadequate idea of
the actual degree of progress attained by the Hebrews in astronomical
science. Yet it is clear, even from the record which we have, that there
was one great astronomical fact which they had observed, and that it had
made a deep impression upon them.

That fact was the sublime Order of the heavenly movements. First amongst
these was the order of the daily progress of the sun; rising in the east
and moving slowly, majestically, and resistlessly upward to the
meridian,--the "midst" or "bisection" of heaven, of Josh. x. 13,--and
then passing downwards as smoothly and unfalteringly to his setting in
the west.

This motion of the sun inspires the simile employed by the Psalmist in
the astronomical psalm, the nineteenth. He sings--

     "The heavens declare the glory of God.

           *       *       *       *       *

      In them hath He set a tabernacle for the sun,
      Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
      And rejoiceth as a strong man to run his course.
      His going forth is from the end of the heaven,
      And his circuit unto the ends of it:
      And there is nothing hid from the heat thereof."

The night revealed another Order, in its way more majestic still. As the
twilight faded away the bright and silent watchers of the heavens
mustered each in his place. And each, like the sun during the day, was
moving, slowly, majestically, resistlessly, "without haste, without
rest." Each had its appointed place, its appointed path. Some moved in
small circles in the north; some rose in the east, and swept in long
curves over towards their setting in the west, some scarcely lifted
themselves above the southern horizon. But each one kept its own place.
None jostled another, or hurried in advance, or lagged behind. It is no
wonder that as the multitude of the stars was observed, and the unbroken
order of their going, that the simile suggested itself of an army on the
march--"the host of heaven." And the sight of the unbroken order of
these bright celestial orbs suggested a comparison with the unseen army
of exalted beings, the angels; the army or host of heaven in another
sense, marshalled, like the stars, in perfect obedience to the Divine
will. So in the vision of Micaiah, the son of Imlah, the "host of
heaven" are the thousands of attendant spirits waiting around the throne
of God to fulfil His bidding.

     "I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of
     heaven standing by him on His right hand and on His left."

But more frequently it is the starry, not the angelic, army to which
reference is made.

So Jeremiah prophesies--

     "As the host of heaven cannot be numbered,
      Neither the sand of the sea measured:
      So will I multiply the seed of David My servant,
      And the Levites that minister unto Me."

The prophets of Israel recognized clearly, that the starry host of
heaven and the angelic host were distinct; that the first, in their
brightness, order, and obedience formed fitting comparison for the
second; but that both were created beings; neither were divinities.

The heathen nations around recognized also the hosts both of the stars
and of spiritual beings, but the first they took as the manifestations
of the second, whom they counted as divinities. There was often a great
confusion between the two, and the observance or worship of the first
could not be kept distinguished from the recognition or worship of the
other; the very ideogram for a god was an 8-rayed star.

The Hebrews were warned again and again lest, confusing in their minds
these two great hosts of stars and angels, they should deem the one the
divine manifestation of the other, the divinity, not accounting them
both fellow-servants, the handiwork of God.

Thus, in the wilderness, the Lord commands them through Moses--

     "Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves, . . . lest thou
     lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun,
     and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven,
     shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the
     Lord thy God hath divided [distributed] unto all nations under
     the whole heaven."

But the one celestial army continually suggests the other, and the two
are placed in the closest parallelism when reference is made to the time
when the foundations of the earth were fastened, and the corner stone
thereof was laid,

     "When the morning stars sang together,
      And all the sons of God shouted for joy."

So when Deborah sings of the deliverance which the Lord gave to Israel
at the battle of the Kishon, she puts the stars for the angelic legions
that she feels assured were engaged in warring in their support.

                 "They fought from heaven;
     The stars in their courses fought against Sisera."

The "courses" of the stars are the paths which they appear to follow as
they move round the pole of the heavens as the night proceeds, whilst
the stars themselves stand for the heavenly helpers who, unseen, had
mingled in the battle and discomforted the squadrons of Sisera's
war-chariots. It almost reads as if to Deborah had been vouchsafed such
a vision as Elisha prayed might be given to his servant:--

     "Therefore sent the King of Syria thither horses, and
     chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and
     compassed the city about.

     "And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and
     gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with
     horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my
     master! how shall we do?

     "And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more
     than they that be with them.

     "And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray Thee, open his
     eyes that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the
     young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of
     horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha."

The solemn procession of the starry host through the long night--the
rising in the east, the southing, and the setting in the west--is not
the only ordered movement of the stars of heaven that may be recognized.
As night by night brightens to its dawn, if we watch the eastern horizon
and note what stars are the last to rise above it before the growing
daylight overpowers the feeble stellar rays, then we see that some
bright star, invisible on the preceding mornings, shines out for a few
moments low down in the glimmer of the dawn. As morning succeeds morning
it rises earlier, until at last it mounts when it is yet dark, and some
other star takes its place as the herald of the rising sun. We recognize
to-day this "heliacal rising" of the stars. Though we do not make use of
it in our system of time-measuring, it played an important part in the
calendar-making of the ancients. Such heralds of the rising sun were
called "morning stars" by the Hebrews, and they used them "for seasons"
and "for years." One star or constellation of stars would herald by its
"heliacal rising" the beginning of spring, another the coming of winter;
the time to plough, the time to sow, the time of the rains, would all be
indicated by the successive "morning stars" as they appeared. And after
an interval of three hundred and sixty-five or three hundred and
sixty-six days the same star would again show itself as a morning star
for a second time, marking out the year, whilst the other morning stars
would follow, each in its due season. So we read in Job, that God led
"forth the Mazzaroth in their season."

This wonderful procession of the midnight sky is not known and admired
by those who live in walled cities and ceiled houses, as it is by those
who live in the open, in the wilderness. It is not therefore to be
wondered at, that we find praise of these "works of the Lord . . .
sought out of all them that have pleasure therein," mostly amongst the
shepherds, the herdsmen, the wanderers in the open--in the words and
prophecies of Job, of Jacob, Moses, David and Amos.

The thought that each new day, beginning with a new outburst of light,
was, in its degree, a kind of new creation, an emblem of the original
act by which the world was brought into being, renders appropriate and
beautiful the ascription of the term "morning stars" to those "sons of
God," the angels. As the stars in the eastern sky are poetically thought
of as "singing together" to herald the creation of each new day, so in
the verses already quoted from the Book of Job, the angels of God are
represented as shouting for joy when the foundations of the earth were

The "morning star" again stands as the type and earnest of that new
creation which God has promised to His servants. The epistle to Thyatira
concludes with the promise--"He that overcometh, and keepeth my works
unto the end, . . . I will give him the morning star."

The brightest of these heralds of the sun is the planet Venus, and such
a "morning star" for power, glory, and magnificence, the king of
Babylon had once been; like one of the angels of God. But as addressed
in Isaiah's prophecy, he has been brought down to Sheol:--

     "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the
     morning!. . . For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend
     into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God
     . . . I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be
     like the most High."

But the "morning star" is taken as a higher type, even of our Lord
Himself, and of His future coming in glory. St. Peter bids the
disciples, to whom he writes, take heed unto the word of prophecy as
unto a lamp shining in a dark place "until the day dawn, and the Day
star arise in your hearts." In almost the last words of the Bible, the
Lord uses the same image Himself:--

     "I, Jesus, have sent Mine angel to testify unto you these
     things in the Churches. I am the root and the offspring of
     David, the bright and morning star."

In the sublime and ordered movements of the various heavenly bodies, the
Hebrews recognized the ordinances of God. The point of view always taken
in Scripture is the theo-centric one; the relation sought to be brought
out is not the relation of thing to thing--which is the objective of
physical science--but the relation of creature to Creator. We have no
means of knowing whether they made attempt to find any mechanical
explanation of the movements; such inquiry would lie entirely outside
the scope of the books of Holy Scripture, and other ancient Hebrew
literature has not been transmitted to us.

The lesson which the Psalmists and the Prophets desired to teach was
not the daily rotation of the earth upon its axis, nor its yearly
revolution round the sun, but that--

     "If those ordinances depart from before Me, saith the Lord,
     then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation
     before Me for ever."

In the Bible all intermediate steps are omitted, and the result is
linked immediately to the first Cause. God Himself is the theme, and
trust in Him the lesson.

     "Lift up your eyes on high, and see Who hath created these,
     That bringeth out their host by number: He calleth them all by
     name; by the greatness of His might, and for that He is strong
     in power, not one is lacking.

     "Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is
     hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed away from my God.
     Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard? the everlasting God,
     the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not,
     neither is weary; there is no searching of His understanding.
     He giveth power to the faint; and to him that hath no might He
     increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
     and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon
     the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with
     wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall
     walk, and not faint."



     "And God said Let there be lights in the firmament of the
     heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for
     signs, and for seasons and for days, and years: and let them
     be for lights in the firmament of the heaven, to give light
     upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights;
     the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to
     rule the night: He made the stars also. And God set them in
     the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, and
     to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the
     light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the
     evening and the morning were the fourth day."

A double purpose for the two great heavenly bodies is indicated
here,--first, the obvious one of giving light; next, that of time
measurement. These, from the human and practical point of view, are the
two main services which the sun and moon render to us, and naturally
sufficed for the object that the writer had before him. There is no
evidence that he had any idea that the moon simply shone by reflecting
the light of the sun; still less that the sun was a light for worlds
other than our own; but if he had known these facts we can hardly
suppose that he would have mentioned them; there would have been no
purpose to be served by so doing.

But it is remarkable that no reference is made either to the
incalculable benefits conferred by the action of the sun in ripening the
fruits of the earth, or to the services of the moon as a time-measurer,
in dividing off the months. Both these actions are clearly indicated
later on in the Scriptures, where Moses, in the blessing which he
pronounced upon the tribe of Joseph, prayed that his land might be
blessed "for the precious things of the fruits of the sun," so that we
may take their omission here, together with the omission of all mention
of the planets, and the slight parenthetical reference to the stars, as
indicating that this chapter was composed at an exceedingly early date.

The chief purpose of the sun is to give light; it "rules" or regulates
the day and "divides the light from the darkness." As such it is the
appropriate emblem of God Himself, Who "is Light, and in Him is no
darkness at all." These images are frequently repeated in the
Scriptures, and it is only possible to give a few instances. David
sings, "The Lord is my light and my salvation." "The Lord shall be unto
thee an everlasting light," is the promise made to Zion. St. John
expressly uses the term of the Son of God, our Lord: "That was the true
Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." Whilst the
more concrete emblem is used as often. In the eighty-fourth psalm, the
psalm of pilgrimage, we read, "The Lord God is a sun and shield;"
Malachi predicts that "the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with
healing in His wings," and St James, with the same thought of the sun in
his mind, speaks of God as "the Father of lights."

But in none of these or the other parallel passages is there the
remotest approach to any deification of the sun, or even of that most
ethereal of influences, light itself. Both are creatures, both are made
by God; they are things and things only, and are not even the shrines of
a deity. They may be used as emblems of God in some of His attributes;
they do not even furnish any indication of His special presence, for He
is equally present where sun and light are not. "The darkness hideth not
from Thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light
are both alike to Thee."

The worship of the sun and of other heavenly bodies is one of the sins
most unsparingly denounced in Scripture. It was one of the first
warnings of the Book of Deuteronomy that Israel as a people were to take
heed "lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the
sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest
be driven to worship them and serve them," and the utter overthrow of
the nation was foretold should they break this law. And as for the
nation, so for the individual, any "man or woman that hath wrought
wickedness in the sight of the Lord thy God, in transgressing His
covenant and hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them,
either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven" was when
convicted of working "such abomination" unsparingly to be put to death.

Yet with all this, sun-worship prevailed in Israel again and again. Two
of the reforming kings of Judah, Asa and Josiah, found it necessary to
take away "the sun-images;" indeed, the latter king found that the
horses and chariots which his predecessors, Manasseh and Amon, had
dedicated to sun worship were kept at the very entrance to the temple.
In spite of his reformation, however, the evil spread until the final
corruption of Jerusalem was shown in vision to Ezekiel, "Seventy men of
the ancients"--that is the complete Sanhedrim--offered incense to
creeping things and abominable beasts; the women wept for Tammuz,
probably the sun-god in his decline to winter death; and deepest
apostasy of all, five and twenty men, the high-priest, and the chief
priests of the twenty-four courses, "with their backs toward the temple
of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the
sun toward the east." The entire nation, as represented in its chief
members in State, Society, and Church, was apostate, and its ruin
followed. Five years more and the temple was burned and Jerusalem
destroyed, and in captivity and exile the nation learned to abhor the
idolatry that had brought about its overthrow.

Four words are translated "sun" in our Authorized Version. Of these one,
used Job xxxi. 26, should really be "light," as in the margin--"If I
beheld the light when it shined,"--though the sun is obviously meant.
The second word is one used in poetry chiefly in conjunction with a
poetical word for the moon, and refers to the sun's warmth, as the other
does to the whiteness of the moon. Thus the Bride in the Song of Solomon
is described as "fair as the moon, clear as the sun." The third word
has given use to some ambiguity. In the eighth chapter of Judges in the
Authorized Version, it is stated that "Gideon, the son of Joash,
returned from the battle before the sun was up," but in the Revised
Version that he "returned from the battle from the ascent of Heres."
There was a mount Ḥeres, a mount of the sun, in the portion of the
Danites held by the Amorites, but that cannot have been the Ḥeres of
Gideon. Still the probability is that a mount sacred to the sun is meant
here as well as in the reference to the Danites; though _ḥeres_ as
meaning the sun itself occurs in the story of Samson's riddle, for the
men of the city gave him the answer to it which they had extorted from
his wife, "before the sun (_ḥeres_) went down." _Shemesh_, the
_Samas_ of the Babylonians, is the usual word for the sun; and we find
it in Beth-shemesh, the "house of the sun," a Levitical city within the
tribe of Judah, the scene of the return of the ark after its captivity
amongst the Philistines. There was another Beth-shemesh in Naphtali on
the borders of Issachar, and Jeremiah prophesies that Nebuchadnezzar
"shall break also the images of Beth-shemesh, that is in the land of
Egypt," probably the obelisks of the sun in On, or Heliopolis. It was
from this city that Joseph, when vizier of Egypt, took his wife, the
daughter of the high priest there. The images of the sun, and of Baal as
the sun-god, seem to have been obelisks or pillars of stone, and hence
had to be "broken down"; whilst the Asherah, the "groves" of the
Authorized Version, the images of Ashtoreth as the moon-goddess, were
wooden pillars, to be "cut" or "hewn down."

Another "city of the sun" in the land of Egypt is also mentioned by
Isaiah, in his prophecy of the conversion and restoration of the
Egyptians. "Five cities in the land of Egypt shall speak the language of
Canaan, and swear to the Lord of hosts; one shall be called The city of
destruction;" lit. of _Ḥeres_, or of the sun. It was upon the
strength of this text that Onias, the son of Onias the high priest,
appealed to Ptolemy Philometer to be allowed to build a temple to
Jehovah in the prefecture of Heliopolis (the city of the sun), and
obtained his permission to do so, B.C. 149.[68:1]

The epithet applied to the sun in Cant. vi. already quoted, "Clear as
the sun," may be taken as equivalent to "spotless." That is its ordinary
appearance to the naked eye, though from time to time--far more
frequently than most persons have any idea--there are spots upon the sun
sufficiently large to be seen without any optical assistance. Thus in
the twenty years from 1882 to 1901 inclusive, such a phenomenon occurred
on the average once in each week. No reference to the existence of
sun-spots occurs in Scripture. Nor is this surprising, for it would not
have fallen within the purpose of Scripture to record such a fact. But
it is surprising that whilst the Chinese detected their occasional
appearance, there is no distinct account of such an observation given
either on Babylonian tablets or by classical or mediæval writers.

The achievement of the Chinese in this direction is very notable, for
the difficulty of looking directly at the sun, under ordinary
circumstances is so great, and the very largest sunspots are so small as
compared with the entire disc, that it argues great perseverance in
watching such appearances on the part of the Chinese, for them to have
assured themselves that they were not due to very small distant clouds
in our own atmosphere.

It has often been the subject of comment that light is mentioned in Gen.
i. as having been created on the first day, but the sun not until the
fourth. The order is entirely appropriate from an astronomical point of
view, for we know that our sun is not the only source of light, since it
is but one out of millions of stars, many of which greatly exceed it in
splendour. Further, most astronomers consider that our solar system
existed as a luminous nebula long ages before the sun was formed as a
central condensation.

But the true explanation of the creation of light being put first is
probably this--that there might be no imagining that, though gross solid
bodies, like earth and sea, sun and moon might require a Creator, yet
something so ethereal and all-pervading as light was self-existent, and
by its own nature, eternal. This was a truth that needed to be stated
first. God is light, but light is not God.

The other references to the sun in Scripture do not call for much
comment. Its apparent unchangeableness qualifies it for use as an
expression for eternal duration, as in the seventy-second, the Royal,
Psalm, "They shall fear Thee as long as the sun and moon endure;" and
again, "His name shall endure for ever: His name shall be continued as
long as the sun." And again, in the eighty-ninth Psalm, it is said of
David: "His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before

The daily course of the sun from beyond the eastern horizon to beyond
the western gives the widest expression for the compass of the whole
earth. "The mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken, and called the
earth, from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof." "From
the rising of the sun, unto the going down of the same, the Lord's name
is to be praised." The sun's rays penetrate everywhere. "His going forth
is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and
there is nothing hid from the heat thereof." Whilst in the Book of
Ecclesiastes, the melancholy words of the Preacher revert over and over
again to that which is done "under the sun." "What profit hath a man of
all his labour which he taketh under the sun?"

It should be noted that this same Book of Ecclesiastes shows a much
clearer idea of the sun's daily apparent motion than was held by many of
the writers of antiquity. There is, of course, nowhere in Scripture any
mention of the rotation of the earth on its axis as the mechanical
explanation of the sun's daily apparent motion; any more than we should
refer to it ourselves to-day except when writing from a purely technical
point of view. As said already, the Hebrews had probably not discovered
this explanation, and would certainly have not gone out of their way to
mention it in any of their Scriptures if they had.

One passage of great beauty has sometimes been quoted as if it contained
a reference to the earth's rotation, but when carefully examined it is
seen to be dealing simply with the apparent motion of the sun in the
course of the year and of the day.

     "Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days;
      And caused the dayspring to know his place;
      That it might take hold of the ends of the earth,
      That the wicked might be shaken out of it?
      It is turned as clay to the seal;
      And they stand as a garment."

The earth appears to be spoken of as being "turned" to the sun, the
dayspring; and this, we know, takes place, morning by morning, in
consequence of the diurnal rotation. But the last two lines are better
rendered in the Revised Version--

     "It is changed as clay under the seal;
      And _all things_ stand forth as a garment."

The ancient seals were cylinders, rolled over the clay, which, formless
before, took upon it the desired relief as the seal passed over it. So a
garment, laid aside and folded up during the night, is shapeless, but
once again takes form when the wearer puts it on. And the earth,
formless in the darkness, gains shape and colour and relief with the
impress upon it of the morning light.

It is quite clear that the Hebrews did not suppose that it was a new sun
that came up from the east each morning, as did Xenophanes and the
Epicureans amongst the Greeks. It was the same sun throughout. Nor is
there any idea of his hiding himself behind a mysterious mountain during
the night. "The sun," the Preacher tells us, "ariseth and the sun goeth
down, and hasteth to his place where he arose." The Hebrew was quite
aware that the earth was unsupported in space, for he knew that the Lord
"stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth
upon nothing." There was therefore nothing to hinder the sun passing
freely under the earth from west to east, and thus making his path, not
a mere march onward ending in his dissolution at sunset, but a complete
"circuit," as noted by the writer of the nineteenth Psalm.

The fierceness of the sun's heat in Palestine rendered sun-stroke a
serious danger. The little son of the Shunammite was probably so smitten
as he watched his father at work with the reapers. So the promise is
given to God's people more than once: "The sun shall not smite thee by
day." "They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun
smite them." The martyrs who pass through the great tribulation "shall
hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on
them, nor any heat."

There are fewer references in Scripture to the vivifying effects of
sunlight upon vegetation than we might have expected. The explanation is
possibly to be found in the terrible perversion men had made of the
benefits which came to them by means of this action of sunlight, by
using them as an excuse for plunging into all kinds of nature-worship.
Yet there are one or two allusions not without interest. As already
mentioned, "the precious fruits brought forth by the sun" were promised
to the tribe of Joseph, whilst the great modern discovery that nearly
every form of terrestrial energy is derived ultimately from the energy
of the sun's rays gives a most striking appropriateness to the imagery
made use of by St. James.

     "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and
     cometh down from the Father of Lights, with Whom is no
     variableness, neither shadow of turning."

God, that is to say, is the true Sun, the true Origin of all Lights, the
true bestower of every good and perfect gift. The word rendered
"variableness," is a technical word, used by ourselves in modern English
as "parallax," and employed in the Septuagint Version to denote the
revolutions of the heavenly bodies, described in the thirty-eighth
chapter of the book of Job, as "the ordinances of the heavens." With the
natural sun, therefore, there is "variableness," that is to say, real or
apparent change of place; there is none with God. Neither is there with
Him any darkness of eclipse; any "shadow" caused as in the case of the
material sun, by the "turning" of earth and moon in their orbits. The
knowledge of "the alternations of the turning of the sun," described in
the Book of Wisdom as a feature of the learning of Solomon, was a
knowledge of the laws of this "variableness" and "turning"; especially
of the "turning" of its rising and setting points at the two solstices;
and St. James may well have had that passage in his mind when he wrote.
For Science deals with the knowledge of things that change, as they
change, and of their changes, but Faith with the knowledge of Him that
abideth for ever, and it is to this higher knowledge that St. James
wished to point his readers.

Science deals with the knowledge of things that change, as they change
and of their changes. The physical facts that we have learned in the
last years about that changeful body the sun are briefly these:--

Its core or inner nucleus is not accessible to observation, its nature
and constitution being a mere matter of inference. The "photosphere" is
a shell of incandescent cloud surrounding the nucleus, but the depth, or
thickness of this shell is quite unknown. The outer surface--which we
see--of the photosphere is certainly pretty sharply defined, though very
irregular, rising at points into whiter aggregations, called "faculæ,"
and perhaps depressed at other places in the dark "spots." Immediately
above the photosphere lies the "reversing layer" in which are found the
substances which give rise to the gaps in the sun's spectrum--the
Fraunhofer lines. Above the "reversing layer" lies the scarlet
"chromosphere" with "prominences" of various forms and dimensions rising
high above the solar surface; and over, and embracing all, is the
"corona," with its mysterious petal-like forms and rod-like rays.

The great body of the sun is gaseous, though it is impossible for us to
conceive of the condition of the gaseous core, subjected, as it is, at
once to temperature and pressure both enormously great. Probably it is a
gas so viscous that it would resist motion as pitch or putty does. Nor
do we know much of the nature of either the sun-spots or the solar
corona. Both seem to be produced by causes which lie within the sun;
both undergo changes that are periodical and connected with each other.
They exercise some influence upon the earth's magnetism, but whether
this influence extends to terrestrial weather, to rainfall and storms,
is still a matter of controversy.

The sun itself is distant from the earth in the mean, about 92,885,000
miles, but this distance varies between January and June by 3,100,000
miles. The diameter of the sun is 866,400 miles, but perhaps this is
variable to the extent of some hundreds of miles. It would contain
1,305,000 times the bulk of the earth, but its mean density is but
one-quarter that of the earth. The force of gravity at its surface is
27-1/2 times that at the surface of the earth, and it rotates on its
axis in about 25 days. But the sun's surface does not appear to rotate
as a whole, so this time of rotating varies by as much as two days if we
consider a region on the sun's equator or at a distance from it of 45°.
The intensity of sunlight at the surface of the sun is about 190,000
times that of a candle-flame, and the effective temperature of the solar
surface is eight or ten thousand degrees centigrade.

Such are some of the facts about the sun that are received, or, as it
would be technically expressed, "adopted" to-day. Doubtless a very few
years will find them altered and rendered more accurate as observations
accumulate. In a few hundred years, knowledge of the constitution of the
sun may have so increased that these data and suggestions may seem so
erroneous as to be absurd. It is little more than a century since one of
the greatest of astronomers, Sir William Herschel, contended that the
central globe of the sun might be a habitable world, sheltered from the
blazing photosphere by a layer of cool non-luminous clouds. Such an
hypothesis was not incompatible with what was then known of the
constitution of the heavenly bodies, though it is incompatible with what
we know now. It was simply a matter on which more evidence was to be
accumulated, and the holding of such a view does not, and did not,
detract from the scientific status of Sir William Herschel.

The hypotheses of science require continual restatement in the light of
new evidence, and, as to the weight and interpretation to be given to
such evidence, there is continual conflict--if it may so be
called--between the old and the new science, between the science that is
established and the science that is being established. It is by this
conflict that knowledge is rendered sure.

Such a conflict took place rather more than 300 years ago at the opening
of the Modern Era of astronomy. It was a conflict between two schools of
science--between the disciples of Aristotle and Claudius Ptolemy on the
one hand and the disciples of Copernicus on the other. It has often been
represented as a conflict between religion and science, whereas that
which happened was that the representatives of the older school of
science made use of the powers of the Church to persecute the newer
school as represented by Galileo. That persecution was no doubt a
flagrant abuse of authority, but it should be impossible at the present
day for any one to claim a theological standing for either theory,
whether Copernican or Ptolemaic.

So long as evidence sufficient to demonstrate the Copernican hypothesis
was not forthcoming, it was possible for a man to hold the Ptolemaic,
without detracting from his scientific position, just as it is thought
no discredit to Sir William Herschel that he held his curious idea of a
cool sun under the conditions of knowledge of a hundred years ago. Even
at the present day, we habitually use the Ptolemaic phraseology. Not
only do we speak of "sunrise" and "sunset," but astronomers in strictly
technical papers use the expression, "acceleration of the sun's motion"
when "acceleration of the earth's motion" is meant.

The question as to whether the earth goes round the sun or the sun goes
round the earth has been decided by the accumulation of evidence. It was
a question for evidence to decide. It was an open question so long as
the evidence available was not sufficient to decide it. It was perfectly
possible at one time for a scientific or a religious man to hold either
view. Neither view interfered with his fundamental standing or with his
mental attitude towards either sun or earth. In this respect--important
as the question is in itself--it might be said to be a mere detail,
almost a matter of indifference.

But it is not a mere detail, a matter of indifference to either
scientist or religious man, as to what the sun and earth _are_--whether
he can treat them as things that can be weighed, measured, compared,
analyzed, as, a few pages back, we have shown has been done, or whether,
as one of the chief astrologers of to-day puts it, he--

     "Believes that the sun is the body of the Logos of this solar
     system, 'in Him we live and move and have our being.' The
     planets are his angels, being modifications in the
     consciousness of the Logos,"

and that the sun

     "Stands as Power, having Love and Will united."

The difference between these two points of view is fundamental, and one
of root principle. The foundation, the common foundation on which both
the believer and the scientist build, is threatened by this false
science and false religion. The calling, the very existence of both is
assailed, and they must stand or fall together. The believer in one God
cannot acknowledge a Sun-god, a Solar Logos, these planetary angels; the
astronomer cannot admit the intrusion of planetary influences that obey
no known laws, and the supposed effects of which are in no way
proportional to the supposed causes. The Law of Causality does not run
within the borders of astrology.

It is the old antithesis restated of the Hebrew and the heathen. The
believer in one God and the scientist alike derive their heritage from
the Hebrew, whilst the modern astrologer claims that the astrology of
to-day is once more a revelation of the Chaldean and Assyrian religions.
But polytheism--whether in its gross form of many gods, of planetary
angels, or in the more subtle form of pantheism,--is the very negation
of sane religion; and astrology is the negation of sane astronomy.

     "For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the
     world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that
     are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are
     without excuse: because that, when they knew God, they
     glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became
     vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was
     darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
     and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image
     made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted
     beasts, and creeping things."


[68:1] Josephus, _Antiquities_, XIII. iii. 1.



     "The balmy moon of blessed Israel
        Floods all the deep-blue gloom with beams divine:
      All night the splintered crags that wall the dell
        With spires of silver shine."

So, in Tennyson's words, sang Jephthah's daughter, as she recalled the
days of her mourning before she accomplished her self-sacrifice.

It is hard for modern dwellers in towns to realize the immense
importance of the moon to the people of old. "The night cometh when no
man can work" fitly describes their condition when she was absent. In
sub-tropical countries like Palestine, twilight is short, and, the sun
once set, deep darkness soon covers everything. Such artificial lights
as men then had would now be deemed very inefficient. There was little
opportunity, when once darkness had fallen, for either work or

But, when the moon was up, how very different was the case. Then men
might say--

     "This night, methinks, is but the daylight sick;
        It looks a little paler: 'tis a day,
      Such as the day is when the sun is hid."

In the long moonlit nights, travelling was easy and safe; the labours
of the field and house could still be carried on; the friendly feast
need not be interrupted. But of all men, the shepherd would most rejoice
at this season; all his toils, all his dangers were immeasurably
lightened during the nights near the full. As in the beautiful rendering
which Tennyson has given us of one of the finest passages in the

           "In heaven the stars about the moon
     Look beautiful, when all the winds are laid,
     And every height comes out, and jutting peak
     And valley, and the immeasurable heavens
     Break open to their highest, and all the stars
     Shine, and the Shepherd gladdens in his heart."

A large proportion of the people of Israel, long after their settlement
in Palestine, maintained the habits of their forefathers, and led the
shepherd's life. To them, therefore, the full of the moon must have been
of special importance; yet there is no single reference in Scripture to
this phase as such; nor indeed to any change of the moon's apparent
figure. In two cases in our Revised Version we do indeed find the
expression "at the full moon," but if we compare these passages with the
Authorized Version, we find them there rendered "in the time appointed,"
or "at the day appointed." This latter appears to be the literal
meaning, though there can be no question, as is seen by a comparison
with the Syriac, that the period of the full moon is referred to. No
doubt it was because travelling was so much more safe and easy than in
the moonless nights, that the two great spring and autumn festivals of
the Jews were held at the full moon. Indeed, the latter feast, when the
Israelites "camped out" for a week "in booths," was held at the time of
the "harvest moon." The phenomenon of the "harvest moon" may be briefly
explained as follows. At the autumnal equinox, when the sun is crossing
from the north side of the equator to the south, the full moon is
crossing from the south side of the equator to the north. It is thus
higher in the sky, when it souths, on each succeeding night, and is
therefore up for a greater length of time. This counterbalances to a
considerable extent its movement eastward amongst the stars, so that,
for several nights in succession, it rises almost at sundown. These
nights of the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel was rejoicing over
the ingathered fruits, each family in its tent or arbour of green
boughs, were therefore the fullest of moonlight in the year.[81:1]

Modern civilization has almost shut us off from the heavens, at least in
our great towns and cities. These offer many conveniences, but they
remove us from not a few of the beauties which nature has to offer. And
so it comes that, taking the population as a whole, there is perhaps
less practically known of astronomy in England to-day than there was
under the Plantagenets. A very few are astronomers, professional and
amateur, and know immeasurably more than our forefathers did of the
science. Then there is a large, more or less cultured, public that know
something of the science at secondhand through books. But the great
majority know nothing of the heavenly bodies except of the sun; they
need to "look in the almanack" to "find out moonshine." But to simpler
peoples the difference between the "light half" of the month, from the
first quarter to the last quarter through the full of the moon, and the
"dark half," from the last quarter to the first quarter, through new, is
very great. Indian astronomers so divide the month to this day.

In one passage of Holy Scripture, the description which Isaiah gives of
the "City of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel," there is a
reference to the dark part of the month.

     "Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon
     (literally "month") withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be
     thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be

The parallelism expressed in the verse lies between the darkness of
night whilst the sun is below the horizon, and the special darkness of
those nights when the moon, being near conjunction with the sun, is
absent from the sky during the greater part or whole of the night hours,
and has but a small portion of her disc illuminated. Just as half the
day is dark because the sun has withdrawn itself, so half the nights of
the month are dark because the moon has withdrawn itself.

The Hebrew month was a natural one, determined by actual observation of
the new moon. They used three words in their references to the moon, the
first of which, _chodesh_, derived from a root meaning "to be new,"
indicates the fact that the new moon, as actually observed, governed
their calendar. The word therefore signifies the new moon--the day of
the new moon: and thus a month; that is, a lunar month beginning at the
new moon. This is the Hebrew word used in the Deluge story in the
seventh chapter of Genesis; and in all references to feasts depending on
a day in the month. As when the Lord spake to Moses, saying, "Also in
the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings
of your months, ye shall blow with your trumpets over your burnt
offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings." And again
in the Psalm of Asaph to the chief musician upon Gittith: "Blow up the
trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast
day." This is the word also that Isaiah uses in describing the bravery
of the daughters of Zion, "the tinkling ornaments about their feet, and
their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, the chains, and the
bracelets." "The round tires" were not discs, like the full moon, but
were round like the crescent.

Generally speaking, _chodesh_ is employed where either reference is made
to the shape or newness of the crescent moon, or where "month" is used
in any precise way. This is the word for "month" employed throughout by
the prophet Ezekiel, who is so precise in the dating of his prophecies.

When the moon is mentioned as the lesser light of heaven, without
particular reference to its form, or when a month is mentioned as a
somewhat indefinite period of time, then the Hebrew word _yarēach_, is
used. Here the word has the root meaning of "paleness"; it is the
"silver moon."

_Yarēach_ is the word always used where the moon is classed among the
heavenly bodies; as when Joseph dreamed of the sun, the moon, and the
eleven constellations; or in Jer. viii. 2, where the Lord says that they
shall bring out the bones of the kings, princes, priests, prophets, and
inhabitants of Jerusalem, "and they shall spread them before the sun,
and the moon, and all the host of heaven, whom they have loved, and whom
they have served, and after whom they have walked, and whom they have
sought, and whom they have worshipped."

The same word is used for the moon in its character of "making
ordinances." Thus we have it several times in the Psalms: "He (the Lord)
appointed the moon for seasons." "His seed shall endure for ever, and
his throne as the sun before Me. It shall be established for ever as the
moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven." And again: "The moon and
stars rule by night;" whilst Jeremiah says, "Thus saith the Lord, Which
giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of
the stars for a light by night."

In all passages where reference seems to be made to the darkening or
withdrawing of the moon's light (Eccl. xii. 2; Isa. xiii. 10; Ezek.
xxxii. 7; Joel ii. 10, 31, and iii. 15; and Hab. iii. 11) the word
_yarēach_ is employed. A slight variant of the same word indicates
the month when viewed as a period of time not quite defined, and not in
the strict sense of a lunar month. This is the term used in Exod. ii. 2,
for the three months that the mother of Moses hid him when she saw that
he was a goodly child; by Moses, in his prophecy for Joseph, of "Blessed
of the Lord be his land . . . for the precious fruits brought forth by
the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the months." Such a
"full month of days" did Shallum the son of Jabesh reign in Samaria in
the nine and thirtieth year of Uzziah, king of Judah. Such also were the
twelve months of warning given to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon,
before his madness fell upon him. The same word is once used for a true
lunar month, viz. in Ezra vi. 15, when the building of the "house was
finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year
of the reign of Darius the king." In all other references to the months
derived from the Babylonians, such as the "month Chisleu" in Neh. i. 1,
the term _chodesh_ is used, since these, like the Hebrew months, were
defined by the observation of the new moon; but for the Tyrian months,
Zif, Bul, Ethanim, we find the term _yerach_ in three out of the four

In three instances a third word is used poetically to express the moon.
This is _lebanah_, which has the meaning of whiteness. In Song of Sol.
vi. 10, it is asked--

     "Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the
     moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?"

Isaiah also says--

     "Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when
     the Lord of Hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem,
     and before His ancients gloriously."

And yet again--

     "Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the
     sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light
     of seven days, in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach
     of His people, and healeth the stroke of their wound."

It may not be without significance that each of these three passages,
wherein the moon is denominated by its name of whiteness or purity,
looks forward prophetically to the same great event, pictured yet more
clearly in the Revelation--

     "And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as
     the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty
     thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent

     "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the
     marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself

     "And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine
     linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the
     righteousness of saints."

_Chodesh_ and _yarēach_ are masculine words; _lebanah_ is feminine. But
nowhere throughout the Old Testament is the moon personified, and in
only one instance is it used figuratively to represent a person. This is
in the case of Jacob's reading of Joseph's dream, already referred to,
where he said--

     "Behold I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and
     the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me."

And his father quickly rebuked him, saying--

     "What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy
     mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to
     thee to the earth?"

Here Jacob understands that the moon (_yarēach_) stands for a woman, his
wife. But in Mesopotamia, whence his grandfather Abraham had come out,
Sin, the moon-god, was held to be a male god, high indeed among the
deities at that time, and superior even to Samas, the sun-god. Terah,
the father of Abraham, was held by Jewish tradition to have been an
especial worshipper of the moon-god, whose great temple was in Haran,
where he dwelt.

Wherever the land of Uz may have been, at whatever period Job may have
lived, there and then it was an iniquity to worship the moon or the
moon-god. In his final defence to his friends, when the "three men
ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes," Job,
justifying his life, said--

     "If I beheld the sun when it shined,
      Or the moon walking in brightness;
      And my heart hath been secretly enticed,
      And my mouth hath kissed my hand:
      This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judges:
      For I should have lied to God that is above."

The Hebrews, too, were forbidden to worship the sun, the moon, or the
stars, the host of heaven, and disobeyed the commandment both early and
late in their history. When Moses spake unto all Israel on this side
Jordan in the wilderness in the plain over against the Red Sea, he said
to them--

     "The Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye
     heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only
     ye heard a voice. . . . Take ye therefore good heed unto
     yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that
     the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire:

     "Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the
     similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female. . . .
     And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou
     seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host
     of heaven, shouldst be driven to worship them, and serve them,
     which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations under the
     whole heaven."

We know what the "similitude" of the sun and the moon were like among
the surrounding nations. We see their "hieroglyphs" on numberless seals
and images from the ruins of Nineveh or Babylon. That of the sun was
first a rayed star or disc, later a figure, rayed and winged. That of
the moon was a crescent, one lying on its back, like a bowl or cup, the
actual attitude of the new moon at the beginning of the new year. Just
such moon similitudes did the soldiers of Gideon take from off the
camels of Zebah and Zalmunna; just such were the "round tires like the
moon" that Isaiah condemns among the bravery of the daughters of Zion.

The similitude or token of Ashtoreth, the paramount goddess of the
Zidonians, was the _ashera_, the "grove" of the Authorized Version,
probably in most cases merely a wooden pillar. This goddess, "the
abomination of the Zidonians," was a moon-goddess, concerning whom
Eusebius preserves a statement by the Phœnician historian,
Sanchoniathon, that her images had the head of an ox. In the wars in
the days of Abraham we find Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with
him, smiting the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, that is, in the
Ashtoreths "of the horns." It is impossible to decide at this date
whether the horns which gave the distinctive title to this shrine of
Ashtoreth owed their origin to the horns of the animal merged in the
goddess, or to the horns of the crescent moon, with which she was to
some extent identified. Possibly there was always a confusion between
the two in the minds of her worshippers. The cult of Ashtoreth was
spread not only among the Hebrews, but throughout the whole plain of
Mesopotamia. In the times of the Judges, and in the days of Samuel, we
find continually the statement that the people "served Baalim and
Ashtaroth"--the plurals of Baal and Ashtoreth--these representing the
sun and moon, and reigning as king and queen in heaven. When the
Philistines fought with Saul at Mount Gilboa, and he was slain, they
stripped off his armour and put it "in the house of Ashtaroth." Yet
later we find that Solomon loved strange women of the Zidonians, who
turned his heart after Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Zidonians, and he
built a high place for her on the right hand of the Mount of Olives,
which remained for some three and a half centuries, until Josiah, the
king, defiled it. Nevertheless, the worship of Ashtoreth continued, and
the prophet Jeremiah describes her cult:--

     "The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire,
     and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of

This was done in the cities of Judah and streets of Jerusalem, but the
Jews carried the cult with them even when they fled into Egypt, and
whilst there they answered Jeremiah--

     "We will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our
     own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to
     pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and
     our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of
     Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty
     of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. But since we left
     off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out
     drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have
     been consumed by the sword and by the famine."

_Ashtoreth_, according to Pinches[90:1] is evidently a lengthening of
the name of the Assyrio-Babylonian goddess Ištar, and the Babylonian
legend of the Descent of Ištar may well have been a myth founded on
the varying phases of the moon. But it must be remembered that, though
Ashtoreth or Ištar might be the queen of heaven, the moon was not
necessarily the only aspect in which her worshippers recognized her. In
others, the planet Venus may have been chosen as her representative; in
others the constellation Taurus, at one time the leader of the Zodiac;
in others, yet again, the actual form of a material bull or cow.

The Hebrews recognized the great superiority in brightness of the sun
over the moon, as testified in their names of the "greater" and "lesser"
lights, and in such passages as that already quoted from Isaiah (xxx.
26). The word here used for moon is the poetic one, _lebanah_. Of course
no argument can be founded on the parallelism employed so as to lead to
the conclusion that the Hebrews considered that the solar light exceeded
the lunar by only seven times, instead of the 600,000 times indicated by
modern photometric measurement.

In only one instance in Scripture--that already quoted of the moon
withdrawing itself--is there even an allusion to the changing phases of
the moon, other than that implied in the frequent references to the new
moons. The appointment of certain feasts to be held on the fifteenth day
of the month is a confirmation of the supposition that their months were
truly lunar, for then the moon is fully lighted, and rides the sky the
whole night long from sunset to sunrise. It is clear, therefore, that
the Hebrews, not only noticed the phases of the moon, but made regular
use of them. Yet, if we adopted the argument from silence, we should
suppose that they had never observed its changes of shape, for there is
no direct allusion to them in Scripture. We cannot, therefore, argue
from silence as to whether or no they had divined the cause of those
changes, namely that the moon shines by reflecting the light of the sun.

Nor are there any references to the markings on the moon. It is quite
obvious to the naked eye that there are grey stains upon her silver
surface, that these grey stains are always there, most of them forming a
chain which curves through the upper hemisphere. Of the bright parts of
the moon, some shine out with greater lustre than others, particularly
one spot in the lower left-hand quadrant, not far from the edge of the
full disc. The edges of the moon gleam more brightly as a rule than the
central parts. All this was apparent to the Hebrews of old, as it is to
our unassisted sight to-day.

The moon's influence in raising the tides is naturally not mentioned.
The Hebrews were not a seafaring race, nor are the tides on the coast of
Palestine pronounced enough to draw much attention. One influence is
ascribed to the moon; an influence still obscure, or even disputed. For
the promise that--

     "The sun shall not smite thee by day,
        Nor the moon by night,"

quite obvious in its application to the sun, with the moon seems to
refer to its supposed influence on certain diseases and in causing

The chief function of the moon, as indicated in Scripture, is to
regulate the calendar, and mark out the times for the days of solemnity.
In the words of the 104th Psalm:--

     "He (God) appointed the moon for seasons:
      The sun knoweth his going down.
      Thou makest darkness, and it is night;
      Wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.
      The young lions roar after their prey,
      And seek their meat from God.
      The sun ariseth, they get them away,
      And lay them down in their dens.
      Man goeth forth unto his work
      And to his labour until the evening.
      O Lord, how manifold are Thy works!
      In wisdom hast Thou made them all:
      The earth is full of Thy riches."


[81:1] How the little children must have revelled in that yearly

[90:1] T. G. Pinches, _The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical
Records of Assyria and Babylonia_, p. 278.


The "America Nebula": photographed by Dr. Max Wolf, at Heidelberg.]



The stars and the heaven, whose host they are, were used by the Hebrew
writers to express the superlatives of number, of height, and of
expanse. To an observer, watching the heavens at any particular time and
place, not more than some two thousand stars are separately visible to
the unassisted sight. But it was evident to the Hebrew, as it is to any
one to-day, that the stars separately visible do not by any means make
up their whole number. On clear nights the whole vault of heaven seems
covered with a tapestry or curtain the pattern of which is formed of
patches of various intensities of light, and sprinkled upon this
patterned curtain are the brighter stars that may be separately seen.
The most striking feature in the pattern is the Milky Way, and it may be
easily discerned that its texture is made up of innumerable minute
points of light, a granulation, of which some of the grains are set more
closely together, forming the more brilliant patches, and some more
loosely, giving the darker shades. The mind easily conceives that the
minute points of light whose aggregations make up the varying pattern of
the Milky Way, though too small to be individually seen, are also
stars, differing perhaps from the stars of the Pleiades or the Bears
only in their greater distance or smaller size. It was of all these that
the Lord said to Abram--

     "Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able
     to number them: and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be."

The first catalogue of the stars of which we have record was that of
Hipparchus in 129 B.C. It contained 1,025 stars, and Ptolemy brought
this catalogue up to date in the Almagest of 137 A.D. Tycho Brahé in
1602 made a catalogue of 777 stars, and Kepler republished this in 1627,
and increased the number to 1,005. These were before the invention of
the telescope, and consequently contained only naked-eye stars. Since
astronomers have been able to sound the heavens more deeply, catalogues
have increased in size and number. Flamsteed, the first Astronomer
Royal, made one of 3,310 stars; from the observations of Bradley, the
third, a yet more famous catalogue has been compiled. In our own day
more than three hundred thousand stars have been catalogued in the Bonn
Durchmusterung; and the great International Photographic Chart of the
Heavens will probably show not less than fifty millions of stars, and in
this it has limited itself to stars exceeding the fourteenth magnitude
in brightness, thus leaving out of its pages many millions of stars that
are visible through our more powerful telescopes.

So when Abraham, Moses, Job or Jeremiah speaks of the host of heaven
that cannot be numbered, it does not mean simply that these men had but
small powers of numeration. To us,--who can count beyond that which we
can conceive,--as to the Psalmist, it is a sign of infinite power,
wisdom and knowledge that "He telleth the number of the stars; He
calleth them all by their names."

Isaiah describes the Lord as "He that sitteth upon the circle of the
earth, . . . that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth
them out as a tent to dwell in." And many others of the prophets use the
same simile of a curtain which we have seen to be so appropriate to the
appearance of the starry sky. Nowhere, however, have we any indication
whether or not they considered the stars were all set _on_ this curtain,
that is to say were all at the same distance from us. We now know that
they are not equidistant from us, but this we largely base on the fact
that the stars are of very different orders of brightness, and we judge
that, on an average, the fainter a star appears, the further is it
distant from us. To the Hebrews, as to us, it was evident that the stars
differ in magnitude, and the writer of the Epistle to the Corinthians
expressed this when he wrote--

     "There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon,
     and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from
     another star in glory."

The ancient Greek astronomers divided the stars according to their
brightness into six classes, or six "magnitudes," to use the modern
technical term. The average star of any particular magnitude gives about
two and a half times as much light as the average star of the next
magnitude. More exactly, the average first magnitude star gives one
hundred times the light of the average star of the sixth magnitude.

In a few instances we have been able to measure, in the very roughest
degree, the distances of stars; not a hundred stars have their
parallaxes known, and these have all been measured in the course of the
last century. And so far away are these stars, even the nearest of them,
that we do not express their distance from us in millions of miles; we
express it in the time that their light takes in travelling from them to
us. Now it takes light only one second to traverse 186,300 miles, and
yet it requires four and a third years for the light from the nearest
star to reach us. This is a star of the first magnitude, Alpha in the
constellation of the Centaur. The next nearest star is a faint one of
between the seventh and eighth magnitudes, and its light takes seven
years to come. From a sixth magnitude star in the constellation of the
Swan, the light requires eight years; and from Sirius, the brightest
star in the heavens, light requires eight and a half years. These four
stars are the nearest to us; from no other star, that we know of, does
light take less than ten years to travel; from the majority of those
whose distance we have succeeded in measuring, the light takes at least
twenty years.

To get some conception of what a "light-year" means, let us remember
that light could travel right round the earth at its equator seven times
in the space of a single second, and that there are 31,556,925 seconds
in a year. Light then could girdle the earth a thousand million times
whilst it comes from Alpha Centauri. Or we may put it another way. The
distance from Alpha Centauri exceeds the equator of the earth by as much
as this exceeds an inch and a half; or by as much as the distance from
London to Manchester exceeds the hundredth of an inch.

Of all the rest of the innumerable stars, as far as actual measurement
is concerned, for us, as for the Hebrews, they might all actually lie on
the texture of a curtain, at practically the same distance from us.

We have measured the distances of but a very few stars; the rest--as
every one of them was for the Hebrew--are at a greater distance than any
effort of ours can reach, be our telescopes ever so great and powerful,
our measuring instruments ever so precise and delicate. For them, as for
us, the heaven of stars is "for height," for a height which is beyond
measure and therefore the only fitting image for the immensity of God.

So Zophar the Naamathite said--

     "Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?
      It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do?"

and Eliphaz the Temanite reiterated still more strongly--

     "Is not God in the height of heaven?
      And behold the height of the stars, how high they are."

God Himself is represented as using the expanse of heaven as a measure
of the greatness of his fidelity and mercy. The prophet Jeremiah

     "Thus saith the Lord; if Heaven above can be measured, and the
     foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also
     cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done,
     saith the Lord."

As if he were using the figure of a great cross, whose height was that
of the heavens, whose arms stretched from east to west, David testifies
of the same mercy and forgiveness:--

     "For as the heaven is high above the earth,
      So great is His mercy toward them that fear Him.
      As far as the east is from the west,
      So far hath He removed our transgressions from us."

[Illustration: THE GREAT COMET OF 1843.

"Running like a road through the constellations" (_see_ p. 105).]



Great comets are almost always unexpected visitors. There is only one
great comet that we know has been seen more than once, and expect with
reasonable certainty to see again. This is Halley's comet, which has
been returning to a near approach to the sun at somewhat irregular
intervals of seventy-five to seventy-eight years during the last
centuries: indeed, it is possible that it was this comet that was
coincident with the invasion of England by William the Conqueror.

There are other small comets that are also regular inhabitants of the
solar system; but, as with Halley's comet, so with these, two
circumstances are to be borne in mind. First, that each successive
revolution round the sun involves an increasing degradation of their
brightness, since there is a manifest waste of their material at each
near approach to the sun; until at length the comet is seen no more, not
because it has left the warm precincts of the sun for the outer
darkness, but because it has spent its substance. Halley's comet was not
as brilliant or as impressive in 1835 as it was in 1759: in 1910 it may
have become degraded to an appearance of quite the second order.

Next, we have no knowledge, no evidence, that any of these comets have
always been members of the solar family. Some of them, indeed, we know
were adopted into it by the influence of one or other of the greater
planets: Uranus we know is responsible for the introduction of one,
Jupiter of a considerable number. The vast majority of comets, great or
small, seem to blunder into the solar system anyhow, anywhere, from any
direction: they come within the attractive influence of the sun; obey
his laws whilst within that influence; make one close approach to him,
passing rapidly across our sky; and then depart in an orbit which will
never bring them to his neighbourhood again. Some chance of direction,
some compelling influence of a planet that it may have approached, so
modified the path of Halley's comet when it first entered the solar
system, that it has remained a member ever since, and may so remain
until it has ceased to be a comet at all.

It follows, therefore, that, as to the number of great comets that may
be seen in any age, we can scarcely even apply the laws of probability.
During the last couple of thousand years, since chronicles have been
abundant, we know that many great comets have been seen. We may suppose,
therefore, that during the preceding age, that in which the Scriptures
were written, there were also many great comets seen, but we do not
know. And most emphatically we are not able to say, from our knowledge
of comets themselves and of their motions, that in the days of this or
that writer a comet was flaming in the sky.

If a comet had been observed in those ages we might not recognize the
description of it. Thus in the fourth year of the 101st Olympiad, the
Greeks were startled by a celestial portent. They did not draw fine
distinctions, and posterity might have remained ignorant that the
terrifying object was possibly a comet, had not Aristotle, who saw it as
a boy at Stagira, left a rather more scientifically worded description
of it. It flared up from the sunset sky with a narrow definite tail
running "like a road through the constellations." In recent times the
great comet of 1843 may be mentioned as having exactly such an

So we cannot expect to find in the Scriptures definite and precise
descriptions that we can recognize as those of comets. At the most we
may find some expressions, some descriptions, that to us may seem
appropriate to the forms and appearances of these objects, and we may
therefore infer that the appearance of a comet may have suggested these
descriptions or expressions.

The head of a great comet is brilliant, sometimes starlike. But its tail
often takes on the most impressive appearance. Donati's comet, in 1858,
assumed the most varied shapes--sometimes its tail was broad, with one
bright and curving edge, the other fainter and finer, the whole making
up a stupendous semi-circular blade-like object. Later, the tail was
shaped like a scimitar, and later again, it assumed a duplex form.

Though the bulk of comets is huge, they contain extraordinarily little
substance. Their heads must contain some solid matter, but it is
probably in the form of a loose aggregation of stones enveloped in
vaporous material. There is some reason to suppose that comets are apt
to shed some of these stones as they travel along their paths, for the
orbits of the meteors that cause some of our greatest "star showers" are
coincident with the paths of comets that have been observed.

But it is not only by shedding its loose stones that a comet diminishes
its bulk; it loses also through its tail. As the comet gets close to the
sun its head becomes heated, and throws off concentric envelopes, much
of which consists of matter in an extremely fine state of division. Now
it has been shown that the radiations of the sun have the power of
repelling matter, whilst the sun itself attracts by its gravitational
force. But there is a difference in the action of the two forces. The
light-pressure varies with the surface of the particle upon which it is
exercised; the gravitational attraction varies with the mass or volume.
If we consider the behaviour of very small particles, it follows that
the attraction due to gravitation (depending on the volume of the
particle) will diminish more rapidly than the repulsion due to
light-pressure (depending on the surface of the particle), as we
decrease continually the size of the particle, since its volume
diminishes more rapidly than its surface. A limit therefore will be
reached below which the repulsion will become greater than the
attraction. Thus for particles less than the 1/25000 part of an inch in
diameter the repulsion of the sun is greater than its attraction.
Particles in the outer envelope of the comet below this size will be
driven away in a continuous stream, and will form that thin, luminous
fog which we see as the comet's tail.

We cannot tell whether such objects as these were present to the mind of
Joel when he spoke of "blood and fire and pillars of smoke"; possibly
these metaphors are better explained by a sand- or thunder-storm,
especially when we consider that the Hebrew expression for the "pillars
of smoke" indicates a resemblance to a palm-tree, as in the spreading
out of the head of a sand- or thunder-cloud in the sky. The suggestion
has been made,--following the closing lines of _Paradise Lost_ (for
Milton is responsible for many of our interpretations of Scripture)

                     "High in front advanced,
     The brandished sword of God before them blazed,
     Fierce as a comet,"

--that a comet was indeed the "flaming sword which turned every way, to
keep the way of the tree of life." There is less improbability in the
suggestion made by several writers that, when the pestilence wasted
Jerusalem, and David offered up the sacrifice of intercession in the
threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, the king may have seen, in the
scimitar-like tail of a comet such as Donati's, God's "minister,"--"a
flame of fire,"--"the angel of the Lord stand between the earth and the
heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem."

The late R. A. Proctor describes the wanderings of a comet thus:--

     "A comet is seen in the far distant depths of space as a
     faint and scarcely discernible speck. It draws nearer and
     nearer with continually increasing velocity, growing
     continually larger and brighter. Faster and faster it rushes
     on until it makes its nearest approach to our sun, and then,
     sweeping round him, it begins its long return voyage into
     infinite space. As it recedes it grows fainter and fainter,
     until at length it passes beyond the range of the most
     powerful telescopes made by man, and is seen no more. It has
     been seen for the first and last time by the generation of men
     to whom it has displayed its glories. It has been seen for the
     first and last time by the race of man itself."[108:1]

     "These are . . . wandering stars, to whom is reserved the
     blackness of darkness for ever."


[108:1] R. A. Proctor, _The Expanse of Heaven_, p. 134.

[Illustration: FALL OF AN AEROLITE.

"There fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp." (_see_
p. 116).]



Great meteorites--"aerolites" as they are called--are like great comets,
chance visitors to our world. Now and then they come, but we cannot
foretell their coming. Such an aerolite exploded some fifteen miles
above Madrid at about 9{h} 29{m}, on the morning of February 10, 1896:--

     "A vivid glare of blinding light was followed in 1-1/2 minutes
     by a loud report, the concussion being such as not merely to
     create a panic, but to break many windows, and in some cases
     to shake down partitions. The sky was clear, and the sun
     shining brightly, when a white cloud, bordered with red, was
     seen rushing from south-west to north-east, leaving behind it
     a train of fine white dust. A red-tinted cloud was long
     visible in the east."

Many fragments were picked up, and analyzed, and, like other aerolites,
were found to consist of materials already known on the earth. The outer
crust showed the signs of fire,--the meteoric stone had been fused and
ignited by its very rapid rush through the air--but the interior was
entirely unaffected by the heat. The manner in which the elements were
combined is somewhat peculiar to aerolites; the nearest terrestrial
affinity of the minerals aggregated in them, is to be found in the
volcanic products from great depths. Thus aerolites seem to be broken-up
fragments from the interior parts of globes like our own. They do not
come from our own volcanoes, for the velocities with which they entered
our atmosphere prove their cosmical origin. Had our atmosphere not
entangled them, many, circuiting the sun in a parabolic or hyperbolic
curve, would have escaped for ever from our system. The swift motions,
which they had on entering our atmosphere, are considerably greater on
the average than those of comets, and probably their true home is not in
our solar system, but in interstellar space.

The aerolites that reach the surface are not always exploded into very
small fragments, but every now and then quite large masses remain
intact. Most of these are stony; some have bits of iron scattered
through them; others are almost pure iron, or with a little nickel
alloy, or have pockets in them laden with stone. There are hundreds of
accounts of the falls of aerolites during the past 2,500 years. The
Greeks and Romans considered them as celestial omens, and kept some of
them in temples. One at Mecca is revered by the faithful Mohammedans,
and Jehangir, the great Mogul, is said to have had a sword forged from
an iron aerolite which fell in 1620 in the Panjab. Diana of Ephesus
stood on a shapeless block which, tradition says, was a meteoric stone,
and reference may perhaps be found to this in the speech of the
town-clerk of the city to appease the riot stirred up against St. Paul
by Demetrius the silversmith and his companions:--

     "Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there who knoweth not how
     that the city of the Ephesians is temple-keeper of the great
     Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter?"

Aerolites come singly and unexpectedly, falling actually to earth on
land or sea. "Shooting stars" come usually in battalions. They travel
together in swarms, and the earth may meet the same swarm again and
again. They are smaller than aerolites, probably mere particles of dust,
and for the most part are entirely consumed in our upper atmosphere, so
that they do not actually reach the earth. The swarms travel along paths
that resemble cometary orbits; they are very elongated ellipses,
inclined at all angles to the plane of the ecliptic. Indeed, several of
the orbits are actually those of known comets, and it is generally held
that these meteorites or "shooting stars" are the _débris_ that a comet
sheds on its journey.

We can never see the same "shooting star" twice; its visibility implies
its dissolution, for it is only as it is entrapped and burnt up in our
atmosphere that we see it, or can see it. Its companions in a great
meteoric swarm, are, however, as the sand on the sea-shore, and we
recognize them as members of the same swarm by their agreement in
direction and date. The swarms move in a closed orbit, and it is where
this orbit intersects that of the earth that we get a great "star
shower," if both earth and swarm are present together at the
intersection. If the swarm is drawn out, so that many meteorites are
scattered throughout the whole circuit of its orbit, then we get a
"shower" every year. If the meteor swarm is more condensed, so as to
form a cluster, then the "shower" only comes when the "gem of the ring,"
as it is termed, is at the intersection of the orbits, and the earth is
there too.

Such a conjunction may present the most impressive spectacle that the
heavens can afford. The Leonid meteor shower is, perhaps, the most
famous. It has been seen at intervals of about thirty-three years, since
early in the tenth century. When Ibrahim ben Ahmed lay dying, in the
year 902 A.D., it was recorded that "an infinite number of stars were
seen during the night, scattering themselves like rain to the right and
left, and that year was known as the year of stars." When the earth
encountered the same system in 1202 A.D. the Mohammedan record runs that
"on the night of Saturday, on the last day of Muharram, stars shot
hither and thither in the heavens, eastward and westward, and flew
against one another, like a scattering swarm of locusts, to the right
and left." There are not records of all the returns of this meteoric
swarm between the thirteenth century and the eighteenth, but when the
earth encountered it in 1799, Humboldt reported that "from the beginning
of the phenomenon there was not a space in the firmament equal in extent
to three diameters of the moon that was not filled every instant with
bolides and falling stars;" and Mr. Andrew Ellicott, an agent of the
United States, cruising off the coast of Florida, watched this same
meteoric display, and made the drawing reproduced on the opposite page.
In 1833 a planter in South Carolina wrote of a return of this same
system, "Never did rain fall much thicker than the meteors fell towards
the earth; east, west, north, south, it was the same." In 1866 the
shower was again heavy and brilliant, but at the end of the nineteenth
century, when the swarm should have returned, the display was meagre and

[Illustration: METEORIC SHOWER OF 1799, NOVEMBER 12.

Seen off Cape Florida, by Mr. Andrew Ellicott.]

The Leonid system of meteorites did not always move in a closed orbit
round our sun. Tracing back their records and history, we find that in
A.D. 126 the swarm passed close to Uranus, and probably at that time the
planet captured them for the sun. But we cannot doubt that some such
similar sight as they have afforded us suggested the imagery employed by
the Apostle St. John when he wrote, "The stars of heaven fell unto the
earth, even as a fig-tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken
of a mighty wind. And the heavens departed as a scroll when it is rolled

And the prophet Isaiah used a very similar figure--

     "All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens
     shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall
     fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a
     falling fig from the fig-tree."

Whilst the simile of a great aerolite is that employed by St. John in
his description of the star "Wormwood"--

     "The third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from
     heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third
     part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters."

St. Jude's simile of the "wandering stars, to whom is reserved the
blackness of darkness for ever," may have been drawn from meteors rather
than from comets. But, as has been seen, the two classes of objects are
closely connected.

The word "meteor" is sometimes used for any unusual light seen in the
sky. The Zodiacal Light, the pale conical beam seen after sunset in the
west in the spring, and before sunrise in the east in the autumn, and
known to the Arabs as the "False Dawn," does not appear to be mentioned
in Scripture. Some commentators wrongly consider that the expression,
"the eyelids of the morning," occurring twice in the Book of Job, is
intended to describe it, but the metaphor does not in the least apply.

The Aurora Borealis, on the other hand, seldom though it is seen on an
impressive scale in Palestine, seems clearly indicated in one passage.
"Out of the north cometh golden splendour" would well fit the gleaming
of the "Northern Lights," seen, as they often are, "as sheaves of golden



We do not know what great comets, or aerolites, or "star-showers" were
seen in Palestine during the centuries in which the books of the Bible
were composed. But we do know that eclipses, both of the sun and moon,
must have been seen, for these are not the results of chance
conjunctions. We know more, that not only partial eclipses of the sun,
but total eclipses, fell within the period so covered.

There is no phenomenon of nature which is so truly impressive as a total
eclipse of the sun. The beautiful pageants of the evening and the
morning are too often witnessed to produce the same effect upon us,
whilst the storm and the earthquake and the volcano in eruption, by the
confusion and fear for personal safety they produce, render men unfit to
watch their developments. But the eclipse awes and subdues by what might
almost be called moral means alone: no noise, no danger accompanies it;
the body is not tortured, nor the mind confused by the rush of the
blast, the crash of the thunder-peal, the rocking of the earthquake, or
the fires of the volcano. The only sense appealed to is that of sight;
the movements of the orbs of heaven go on without noise or confusion,
and with a majestic smoothness in which there is neither hurry nor

This impression is felt by every one, no matter how perfectly
acquainted, not only with the cause of the phenomenon, but also with the
appearances to be expected, and scientific men have found themselves
awestruck and even overwhelmed.

But if such are the feelings called forth by an eclipse now-a-days, in
those who are expecting it, who are prepared for it, knowing perfectly
what will happen and what brings it about, how can we gauge aright the
unspeakable terror such an event must have caused in ages long ago, when
it came utterly unforeseen, and it was impossible to understand what was
really taking place?

And so, in olden time, an eclipse of the sun came as an omen of terrible
disaster, nay as being itself one of the worst of disasters. It came so
to all nations but one. But to that nation the word of the prophet had

     "Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the
     signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them."

God did not reveal the physical explanation of the eclipse to the
Hebrews: that, in process of time, they could learn by the exercise of
their own mental powers. But He set them free from the slavish fear of
the heathen; they could look at all these terror-striking signs without
fear; they could look with calmness, with confidence, because they
looked in faith.

It is not easy to exaggerate the advantage which this must have given
the Hebrews over the neighbouring nations, from a scientific point of
view. The word of God gave them intellectual freedom, and so far as they
were faithful to it, there was no hindrance to their fully working out
the scientific problems which came before them. They neither worshipped
the heavenly bodies nor were dismayed at their signs. We have no record
as to how far the Hebrews made use of this freedom, for, as already
pointed out, the Holy Scriptures were not written to chronicle their
scientific achievements. But there can be no doubt that, given the
leisure of peace, it is _a priori_ more likely that they should have
taught astronomy to their neighbours, than have learnt it even from the
most advanced.

There must have been numberless eclipses of the moon seen in the ages
during which the Canon of Holy Scripture was written. Of eclipses of the
sun, total or very nearly total over the regions of Palestine or
Mesopotamia, in the times of the Old Testament, we know of four that
were actually seen, whose record is preserved in contemporaneous
history, and a fifth that was nearly total in Judæa about midday.

The first of the four is recorded on a tablet from Babylon, lately
deciphered, in which it states that on "the 26th day of Sivan, day was
turned into night, and fire appeared in the midst of heaven." This has
been identified with the eclipse of July 31, 1063 B.C., and we do not
find any reference to it in Scripture.

The second is that of Aug. 15, 831 B.C. No specific record of this
eclipse has been found as yet, but it took place during the lifetime of
the prophets Joel and Amos, and may have been seen by them, and their
recollection of it may have influenced the wording of their prophecies.

The third eclipse is recorded on a tablet from Nineveh, stating the
coincidence of an eclipse in Sivan with a revolt in the city of Assur.
This has been identified with the eclipse of June 15, 763 B.C.

The fourth is that known as the eclipse of Larissa on May 18, 603 B.C.,
which was coincident with the final overthrow of the Assyrian Empire,
and the fifth is that of Thales on May 28, 585 B.C.

The earth goes round the sun once in a year, the moon goes round the
earth once in a month, and sometimes the three bodies are in one
straight line. In this case the intermediate body--earth or
moon--deprives the other, wholly or partially of the light from the sun,
thus causing an eclipse. If the orbits of the earth and moon were in the
same plane, an eclipse would happen every time the moon was new or full;
that is to say, at every conjunction and every opposition, or about
twenty-five times a year. But the plane of the moon's orbit is inclined
to the plane of the earth's orbit at an angle of about 5°, and so an
eclipse only occurs when the moon is in conjunction or opposition and is
at the same time at or very near one of the nodes--that is, one of the
two points where the plane of the earth's orbit intersects the moon's
orbit. If the moon is in opposition, or "full," then, under these
conditions, an eclipse of the moon takes place, and this is visible at
all places where the moon is above the horizon at the time. If,
however, the moon is in conjunction, or "new," it is the sun that is
eclipsed, and as the shadow cast by the moon is but small, only a
portion of the earth's surface will experience the solar eclipse. The
nodes of the moon's orbit are not stationary, but have a daily
retrograde motion of 3´ 10·64´´. It takes the moon therefore 27{d} 5{h}
5{m} 36{s} (27·21222{d}) to perform a journey in its orbit from one node
back to that node again; this is called a Draconic period. But it takes
the moon 29{d} 12{h} 44{m} 2·87{s} (29·53059{d}) to pass from new to
new, or from full to full, _i. e._ to complete a lunation. Now 242
Draconic periods very nearly equal 223 lunations, being about 18 years
10-1/3 days, and both are very nearly equal to 19 returns of the sun to
the moon's node; so that if the moon is new or full when at a node, in
18 years and 10 or 11 days it will be at that node again, and again new
or full, and the sun will be also present in very nearly its former
position. If, therefore, an eclipse occurred on the former occasion, it
will probably occur on the latter. This recurrence of eclipses after
intervals of 18·03 years is called the Saros, and was known to the
Chaldeans. We do not know whether it was known to the Hebrews prior to
their captivity in Babylon, but possibly the statement of the wise king,
already quoted from the Apocryphal "Wisdom of Solomon," may refer to
some such knowledge.

Our calendar to-day is a purely solar one; our months are twelve in
number, but of purely arbitrary length, divorced from all connection
with the moon; and to us, the Saros cycle does not readily leap to the
eye, for eclipses of sun or moon seem to fall haphazard on any day of
the month or year.

But with the Hebrews, Assyrians, and Babylonians it was not so. Their
calendar was a luni-solar one--their year was on the average a solar
year, their months were true lunations; the first day of their new month
began on the evening when the first thin crescent of the moon appeared
after its conjunction with the sun. This observation is what is meant in
the Bible by the "new moon." Astronomers now by "new moon" mean the time
when it is actually in conjunction with the sun, and is therefore not
visible. Nations whose calendar was of this description were certain to
discover the Saros much sooner than those whose months were not true
lunations, like the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.

There are no direct references to eclipses in Scripture. They might have
been used in the historical portions for the purpose of dating events,
as was the great earthquake in the days of King Uzziah, but they were
not so used. But we find not a few allusions to their characteristic
appearances and phenomena in the books of the prophets. God in the
beginning set the two great lights in the firmament for signs as well as
for seasons; and the prophets throughout use the relations of the sun
and moon as types of spiritual relations. The Messiah was the Sun of
Righteousness; the chosen people, the Church, was as the moon, which
derives her light from Him. The "signs of heaven" were _symbols_ of
great spiritual events, not _omens_ of mundane disasters.

The prophets Joel and Amos are clear and vivid in their descriptions;
probably because the eclipse of 831 B.C. was within their recollection.
Joel says first, "The sun and the moon shall be dark;" and again, more

     "I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood,
     and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into
     darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the
     terrible day of the Lord come."

This prophecy was quoted by St. Peter on the day of Pentecost. And in
the Apocalypse, St. John says that when the sixth seal was opened, "the
sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood."

In these references, the two kinds of eclipses are referred to--the sun
becomes black when the moon is "new" and hides it; the moon becomes as
blood when it is "full" and the earth's shadow falls upon it; its deep
copper colour, like that of dried blood, being due to the fact that the
light, falling upon it, has passed through a great depth of the earth's
atmosphere. These two eclipses cannot therefore be coincident, but they
may occur only a fortnight apart--a total eclipse of the sun may be
accompanied by a partial eclipse of the moon, a fortnight earlier or a
fortnight later; a total eclipse of the moon may be accompanied by
partial eclipses of the sun, both at the preceding and following "new

Writing at about the same period, the prophet Amos says--

     "Saith the Lord God, I will cause the sun to go down at noon,
     and I will darken the earth in the clear day,"

and seems to refer to the fact that the eclipse of 831 B.C. occurred
about midday in Judæa.

Later Micah writes--

     "The sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be
     dark over them."

Isaiah says that the "sun shall be darkened in his going forth," and
Jeremiah that "her sun is gone down while it was yet day." Whilst
Ezekiel says--

     "I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not
     give her light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make
     dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord

But a total eclipse is not all darkness and terror; it has a beauty and
a glory all its own. Scarcely has the dark moon hidden the last thread
of sunlight from view, than spurs of rosy light are seen around the
black disc that now fills the place so lately occupied by the glorious
king of day. And these rosy spurs of light shine on a background of
pearly glory, as impressive in its beauty as the swift march of the
awful shadow, and the seeming descent of the darkened heavens, were in
terror. There it shines, pure, lovely, serene, radiant with a light like
molten silver, wreathing the darkened sun with a halo like that round a
saintly head in some noble altar-piece; so that while in some cases the
dreadful shadow has awed a laughing and frivolous crowd into silence, in
others the radiance of that halo has brought spectators to their knees
with an involuntary exclamation, "The Glory!" as if God Himself had made
known His presence in the moment of the sun's eclipse.

And this, indeed, seems to have been the thought of both the
Babylonians and Egyptians of old. Both nations had a specially sacred
symbol to set forth the Divine Presence--the Egyptians, a disc with long
outstretched wings; the Babylonians, a ring with wings. The latter
symbol on Assyrian monuments is always shown as floating over the head
of the king, and is designed to indicate the presence and protection of
the Deity.


We may take it for granted that the Egyptians and Chaldeans of old, as
modern astronomers to-day, had at one time or another presented to them
every type of coronal form. But there would, no doubt, be a difficulty
in grasping or remembering the irregular details of the corona as seen
in most eclipses. Sometimes, however, the corona shows itself in a
striking and simple form--when sun-spots are few in number, it spreads
itself out in two great equatorial streamers. At the eclipse of Algiers
in 1900, already referred to, one observer who watched the eclipse from
the sea, said--

     "The sky was blue all round the sun, and the effect of the
     silvery corona projected on it was beyond any one to describe.
     I can only say it seemed to me what angels' wings will be


Drawing made by W. H. Wesley, from photographs of the 1900 Eclipse.]

It seems exceedingly probable that the symbol of the ring with wings
owed its origin not to any supposed analogy between the ring and the
wings and the divine attributes of eternity and power, but to the
revelations of a total eclipse with a corona of minimum type. Moreover
the Assyrians, when they insert a figure of their deity within the ring,
give him a kilt-like dress, and this kilted or feathered characteristic
is often retained where the figure is omitted. This gives the symbol a
yet closer likeness to the corona, whose "polar rays" are remarkably
like the tail feathers of a bird.

Perhaps the prophet Malachi makes a reference to this characteristic of
the eclipsed sun, with its corona like "angels' wings," when he

     "But unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of Righteousness
     arise with healing in His wings."

But, if this be so, it must be borne in mind that the prophet uses the
corona as a simile only. No more than the sun itself, is it the Deity,
or the manifestation of the Deity.

In the New Testament we may find perhaps a reference to what causes an
eclipse--to the shadow cast by a heavenly body in its revolution--its

     "Every good gift and every perfect boon is from above, coming
     down from the Father of Lights, with Whom can be no variation,
     neither shadow that is cast by turning."


[129:1] _The Total Solar Eclipse of May, 1900_, p. 22.



The planets, as such, are nowhere mentioned in the Bible. In the one
instance in which the word appears in our versions, it is given as a
translation of _Mazzaloth_, better rendered in the margin as the "twelve
signs or constellations." The evidence is not fully conclusive that
allusion is made to any planet, even in its capacity of a god worshipped
by the surrounding nations.

Of planets, besides the earth, modern astronomy knows Mercury, Venus,
Mars, many planetoids, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. And of
satellites revolving round planets there are at present known, the moon
which owns our earth as primary, two satellites to Mars, seven
satellites to Jupiter, ten to Saturn, four to Uranus, and one to

The ancients counted the planets as seven, numbering the moon and the
sun amongst them. The rest were Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and
Saturn. They recognized no satellites to any planet. We have no evidence
that the ancient Semitic nations considered that the moon was more
intimately connected with the earth than any of the other six.

But though the planets were sometimes regarded as "seven" in number,
the ancients perfectly recognized that the sun and moon stood in a
different category altogether from the other five. And though the
heathen recognized them as deities, confusion resulted as to the
identity of the deity of which each was a manifestation. Samas was the
sun-god and Baal was the sun-god, but Samas and Baal, or Bel, were not
identical, and both were something more than merely the sun personified.
Again, Merodach, or Marduk, is sometimes expressly identified with Bel
as sun-god, sometimes with the divinity of the planet Jupiter. Similarly
Ashtoreth, or Ištar, is sometimes identified with the goddess of the
moon, sometimes with the planet Venus. It would not be safe, therefore,
to assume that reference is intended to any particular heavenly body,
because a deity is mentioned that has been on occasions identified with
that heavenly body. Still less safe would it be to assume astronomical
allusions in the description of the qualities or characteristics of that
deity. Though Ashtoreth, or Ištar, may have been often identified
with the planet Venus, it is ridiculous to argue, as some have done,
from the expression "Ashteroth-Karnaim," Ashteroth of "the horns," that
the ancients had sight or instruments sufficiently powerful to enable
them to observe that Venus, like the moon, had her phases, her "horns."
Though Nebo has been identified with the planet Mercury, we must not see
any astronomical allusion to its being the nearest planet to the sun in
Isaiah's coupling the two together, where he says, "Bel boweth down,
Nebo stoopeth."

Isaiah speaks of the King of Babylon--

     "How art thou fallen from Heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!"

The word here translated Lucifer, "light-bearer," is the word _hēlel_
from the root _halal_, and means _spreading brightness_. In the
Assyrio-Babylonian, the planet Venus is sometimes termed _Mustēlel_,
from the root _ēlil_, and she is the most lustrous of all the
"morning stars," of the stars that herald the dawn. But except that her
greater brilliancy marks her as especially appropriate to the
expression, Sirius or any other in its capacity of morning star would be
suitable as an explanation of the term.

St. Peter uses the equivalent Greek expression _Phōsphorus_ in his
second epistle: "A light that shineth in a dark place, until the day
dawn and the day-star" (light-bringer) "arise in your hearts."

Isaiah again says--

     "Ye are they that forsake the Lord, that forget My holy
     mountain, that prepare a table for that Troop, and that
     furnish the drink offering unto that Number."

"Gad" and "Meni," here literally translated as "Troop" and "Number," are
in the Revised Version rendered as "Fortune" and "Destiny." A reference
to this god "Meni" has been suggested in the mysterious inscription
which the King of Babylon saw written by a hand upon the wall, which
Daniel interpreted as "God hath numbered thy kingdom, and brought it to
an end." By some commentators Meni is understood to be the planet Venus,
and Gad to be Jupiter, for these are associated in Arabian astrology
with Fortune or Fate in the sense of good luck. Or, from the similarity
of Meni with the Greek _mēnē_, moon, "that Number" might be identified
with the moon, and "that Troop," by analogy, with the sun.

It is more probable, if any astrological deities are intended, that the
two little star clusters--the Pleiades and the Hyades--situated on the
back and head of the Bull, may have been accounted the manifestations of
the divinities which are by their names so intimately associated with
the idea of multitude. The number seven has been held a sacred number,
and has been traditionally associated with both the little star groups.

In one instance alone does there seem to be any strong evidence that
reference is intended to one of the five planets known to the ancients,
when worshipped as a god; and even that is not conclusive. The prophet
Amos, charging the Israelites with idolatry even in the wilderness,

     "Have ye offered unto Me sacrifices and offerings in the
     wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? But ye have borne
     the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star
     of your god, which ye made to yourselves."

But the Septuagint Version makes the accusation run thus:--

     "Ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch and the star of your god
     Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them."

This was the version which St. Stephen quoted in his defence before the
High Priest. It is quite clear that it was star worship to which he was
referring, for he prefaces his quotation by saying, "God turned and gave
them up to serve the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the

The difference between the names "Chiun" and "Remphan" is explained by a
probable misreading on the part of the Septuagint translators into the
Greek, who seemed to have transcribed the initial of the word as "resh,"
where it should have been "caph"--"R" instead of "K,"--thus the real
word should be transliterated "_Kaivan_," which was the name of the
planet Saturn both amongst the ancient Arabs and Syrians, and also
amongst the Assyrians, whilst "_Kevan_" is the name of that planet in
the sacred books of the Parsees. On the other hand, there seems to be
some difficulty in supposing that a deity is intended of which there is
no other mention in Scripture, seeing that the reference, both by Amos
and St. Stephen, would imply that the particular object of idolatry
denounced was one exceedingly familiar to them. Gesenius, therefore,
after having previously accepted the view that we have here a reference
to the worship of Saturn, finally adopted the rendering of the Latin
Vulgate, that the word "Chiun" should be translated "statue" or "image."
The passage would then become--

     "Ye have borne the booth of your Moloch and the image of your
     idols, the star of your god which ye made for yourselves."

If we accept the view that the worship of the planet Saturn is indeed
referred to, it does not necessarily follow that the prophet Amos was
stating that the Israelites in the wilderness actually observed and
worshipped him as such. The prophet may mean no more than that the
Israelites, whilst outwardly conforming to the worship of Jehovah, were
in their secret desires hankering after Sabæism--the worship of the
heavenly host. And it may well be that he chooses Moloch and Saturn as
representing the cruellest and most debased forms of heathenism.

The planet Saturn gives its name to the seventh day of our week,
"Saturn's day," the sabbath of the week of the Jews, and the coincidence
of the two has called forth not a few ingenious theories. Why do the
days of our week bear their present names, and what is the explanation
of their order?

The late well-known astronomer, R. A. Proctor, gives the explanation as

     "The twenty-four hours of each day were devoted to those
     planets in the order of their supposed distance from the
     earth,--Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, and
     the Moon. The outermost planet, Saturn, which also travels in
     the longest period, was regarded in this arrangement as of
     chief dignity, as encompassing in his movement all the rest,
     Jupiter was of higher dignity than Mars, and so forth.
     Moreover to the outermost planet, partly because of Saturn's
     gloomy aspect, partly because among half-savage races the
     powers of evil are always more respected than the powers that
     work for good, a maleficent influence was attributed. Now, if
     we assign to the successive hours of a day the planets as
     above-named, beginning with Saturn on the day assigned to that
     powerful deity, it will be found that the last hour of that
     day will be assigned to Mars--'the lesser infortune,' as
     Saturn was 'the greater infortune,' of the old system of
     astrology--and the first hour of the next day to the next
     planet, the Sun; the day following Saturday would thus be
     Sunday. The last hour of Sunday would fall to Mercury, and the
     first of the next to the Moon; so Monday, the Moon's day,
     follows Sunday. The next day would be the day of Mars, who, in
     the Scandinavian theology, is represented by Tuisco; so
     Tuisco's day, or Tuesday (Mardi), follows Monday. Then, by
     following the same system, we come to Mercury's day
     (Mercredi), Woden's day, or Wednesday; next to Jupiter's day,
     Jove's day (Jeudi), Thor's day, or Thursday; to Venus's day,
     Vendredi (Veneris dies), Freya's day, or Friday, and so to
     Saturday again. That the day devoted to the most evil and most
     powerful of all the deities of the Sabdans (_sic_) should be
     set apart--first as one on which it was unlucky to work, and
     afterwards as one on which it was held to be sinful to
     work--was but the natural outcome of the superstitious belief
     that the planets were gods ruling the fates of men and

This theory appears at first sight so simple, so plausible, that many
are tempted to say, "It must be true," and it has accordingly gained a
wide acceptance. Yet a moment's thought shows that it makes many
assumptions, some of which rest without any proof, and others are known
to be false.

When were the planets discovered? Not certainly at the dawn of
astronomy. The fixed stars must have become familiar, and have been
recognized in their various groupings before it could have been known
that there were others that were not fixed,--were "planets," _i. e._
wanderers. Thus, amongst the Greeks, no planet is alluded to by Hesiod,
and Homer mentions no planet other than Venus, and apparently regarded
her as two distinct objects, according as she was seen as a morning and
as an evening star. Pythagoras is reputed to have been the first of the
Greek philosophers to realize the identity of Phosphorus and Hesperus,
that is Venus at her two elongations, so that the Greeks did not know
this until the sixth century before our era. We are yet without certain
knowledge as to when the Babylonians began to notice the different
planets, but the order of discovery can hardly have been different from
what it seems to have been amongst the Greeks--that is to say, first
Venus as two separate objects, then Jupiter and Mars, and, probably much
later, Saturn and Mercury. This last, again, would originally be
considered a pair of planets, just as Venus had been. Later these
planets as morning stars would be identified with their appearances as
evening stars. After this obscurity had been cleared up, there was a
still further advance to be made before the astrologers could have
adopted their strange grouping of the sun and moon as planets equally
with the other five. This certainly is no primitive conception; for the
sun and moon have such appreciable dimensions and are of such great
brightness that they seem to be marked off (as in the first chapter of
Genesis) as of an entirely different order from all the other heavenly
bodies. The point in common with the other five planets, namely their
apparent periodical movements, could only have been brought out by very
careful and prolonged observation. The recognition, therefore, of the
planets as being "seven," two of the seven being the sun and moon, must
have been quite late in the history of the world. The connection of the
"seven planets" with the seven days of the week was something much later
still. It implies, as we have seen, the adoption of a particular order
for the planets, and this order further implies that a knowledge had
been obtained of their relative distances, and involves a particular
theory of the solar system, that which we now know as the Ptolemaic. It
is not the order of the Babylonians, for they arranged them, Moon, Sun,
Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars.

There are further considerations which show that the Babylonians could
not have given these planetary names to the days of the week. The order
of the names implies that a twenty-four hour day was used, but the
Babylonian hours were twice the length of those which we use; hence
there were only twelve of them. Further, the Babylonian week was not a
true week running on continuously; it was tied to the month, and hence
did not lend itself to such a notation.

But the order adopted for the planets is that current amongst the Greek
astronomers of Alexandria, who did use a twenty-four hour day. Hence it
was certainly later than 300 B.C. But the Greeks and Egyptians alike
used a week of ten days, not of seven. How then did the planetary names
come to be assigned to the seven-day week?

It was a consequence of the power which the Jews possessed of impressing
their religious ideas, and particularly their observance of the sabbath
day, upon their conquerors. They did so with the Romans. We find such
writers as Cicero, Horace, Juvenal and others remarking upon the
sabbath, and, indeed, in the early days of the Empire there was a
considerable observance of it. Much more, then, must the Alexandrian
Greeks have been aware of the Jewish sabbath,--which involved the Jewish
week,--at a time when the Jews of that city were both numerous and
powerful, having equal rights with the Greek inhabitants, and when the
Ptolemies were sanctioning the erection of a Jewish temple in their
dominions, and the translation of the Jewish Scriptures into Greek. It
was after the Alexandrian Greeks had thus learned of the Jewish week
that they assigned the planets to the seven days of that week, since it
suited their astrological purposes better than the Egyptian week of ten
days. That allotment could not possibly have brought either week or
sabbath into existence. Both had been recognized many centuries earlier.
It was foisted upon that which had already a venerable antiquity. As
Professor Schiaparelli well remarks, "we are indebted for these names to
mathematical astrology, the false science which came to be formed after
the time of Alexander the Great from the strange intermarriage between
Chaldean and Egyptian superstitions and the mathematical astronomy of
the Greeks."[139:1]

There is a widespread notion that early astronomy, whether amongst the
Hebrews or elsewhere, took the form of astrology; that the
fortune-telling came first, and the legitimate science grew out of it.
Indeed, a claim is not infrequently made that no small honour is due to
the early astrologers, since from their efforts, the most majestic of
all the sciences is said to have arisen.

These ideas are the exact contrary of the truth. Mathematical, or
perhaps as we might better call it, planetary astrology, as we have it
to-day, concerns itself with the apparent movements of the planets in
the sense that it uses them as its material; just as a child playing in
a library might use the books as building blocks, piling, it may be, a
book of sermons on a history, and a novel on a mathematical treatise.
Astrology does not contribute, has not contributed a single observation,
a single demonstration to astronomy. It owes to astronomy all that it
knows of mathematical processes and planetary positions. In astronomical
language, the calculation of a horoscope is simply the calculation of
the "azimuths" of the different planets, and of certain imaginary points
on the ecliptic for a given time. This is an astronomical process,
carried out according to certain simple formulæ. The calculation of a
horoscope is therefore a straightforward business, but, as astrologers
all admit, its interpretation is where the skill is required, and no
real rules can be given for that.

Here is the explanation why the sun and moon are classed together with
such relatively insignificant bodies as the other five planets, and are
not even ranked as their chief. The ancient astrologer, like the modern,
cared nothing for the actual luminary in the heavens; all he cared for
was its written symbol on his tablets, and there Sun and Saturn could be
looked upon as equal, or Saturn as the greater. It is a rare thing for a
modern astrologer to introduce the place of an actual star into a
horoscope; the calculations all refer to the positions of the _Signs_
of the Zodiac, which are purely imaginary divisions of the heavens; not
to the _Constellations_ of the Zodiac, which are the actual star-groups.

Until astronomers had determined the apparent orbits of the planets, and
drawn up tables by which their apparent places could be predicted for
some time in advance, it was impossible for astrologers to cast
horoscopes of the present kind. All they could do was to divide up time
amongst the deities supposed to preside over the various planets. To
have simply given a planet to each day would have allowed the astrologer
a very small scope in which to work for his prophecies; the ingenious
idea of giving a planet to each hour as well, gave a wider range of
possible combinations. There seems to have been deliberate spitefulness
in the assignment of the most evil of the planetary divinities to the
sacred day of the Jews--their sabbath. It should be noticed at the same
time that, whilst the Jewish sabbath coincides with the astrological
"Saturn's Day," that particular day is the seventh day of the Jewish
week, but the first of the astrological. For the very nature of the
reckoning by which the astrologers allotted the planets to the days of
the week, implies, as shown in the extract quoted from Proctor, that
they began with Saturn and worked downwards from the "highest
planet"--as they called it--to the "lowest." This detail of itself
should have sufficed to have demonstrated to Proctor, or any other
astronomer, that the astrological week had been foisted upon the already
existing week of the Jews.

Before astrology took its present mathematical form, astrologers used
as their material for prediction the stars or constellations which
happened to be rising or setting at the time selected, or were upon the
same meridian, or had the same longitude, as such constellations. One of
the earliest of these astrological writers was Zeuchros of Babylon, who
lived about the time of the Christian era, some of whose writings have
been preserved to us. From these it is clear that the astrologers found
twelve signs of the zodiac did not give them enough play. They therefore
introduced the "decans," that is to say the idea of thirty-six
divinities--three to each month--borrowed from the Egyptian division of
the year into thirty-six weeks (of ten days), each under the rule of a
separate god. Of course this Egyptian year bore no fixed relation to the
actual lunar months or solar year, nor therefore to the Jewish year,
which was related to both. But even with this increase of material, the
astrologers found the astronomical data insufficient for their
fortune-telling purposes. Additional figures quite unrepresented in the
heavens, were devised, and were drawn upon, as needed, to supplement the
genuine constellations, and as it was impossible to recognize these
additions in the sky, the predictions were made, not from observation of
the heavens, but from observations on globes, often very inaccurate.

Earlier still we have astrological tablets from Assyria and Babylon,
many of which show that they had nothing to do with any actual
observation, and were simply invented to give completeness to the tables
of omens. Thus an Assyrian tablet has been found upon which are given
the significations of eclipses falling upon each day of the month
Tammuz, right up to the middle of the month. It is amusing to read the
naïve comment of a distinguished Assyriologist, that tablets such as
these prove how careful, and how long continued had been the
observations upon which they were based. It was not recognized that no
eclipses either of sun or moon could possibly occur on most of the dates
given, and that they could never occur "in the north," which is one of
the quarters indicated. They were no more founded on actual observation
than the portent mentioned on another tablet, of a woman giving birth to
a lion, which, after all, is not more impossible than that an eclipse
should occur in the north on the second day of Tammuz. In all ages it
has been the same; the astrologer has had nothing to do with science as
such, even in its most primitive form; he has cared nothing for the
actual appearance of the heavens upon which he pretended to base his
predictions; an imaginary planet, an imaginary eclipse, an imaginary
constellation were just as good for his fortune-telling as real ones.
Such fortune-telling was forbidden to the Hebrews; necessarily
forbidden, for astrology had no excuse unless the stars and planets were
gods, or the vehicles and engines of gods. Further, all attempts to
extort from spirits or from inanimate things a glimpse into the future
was likewise forbidden them. They were to look to God, and to His
revealed will alone for all such light.

     "When they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have
     familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter:
     should not a people seek unto their God?"

The Hebrews were few in number, their kingdoms very small compared with
the great empires of Egypt, Assyria, or Babylon, but here, in this
question of divination or fortune-telling, they stand on a plane far
above any of the surrounding nations. There is just contempt in the
picture drawn by Ezekiel of the king of Babylon, great though his
military power might be--

     "The king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the
     head of the two ways, to use divination: he shook the arrows
     to and fro, he consulted the teraphim, he looked in the

And Isaiah calls upon the city of Babylon--

     "Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of
     thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth; if
     so thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail.
     Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels: let now the
     astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators stand
     up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon

Isaiah knew the Lord to be He that "frustrateth the tokens of the liars
and maketh diviners mad." And the word of the Lord to Israel through
Jeremiah was--

     "Thus saith the Lord. Learn not the way of the heathen, and be
     not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are
     dismayed at them."

It is to our shame that even to-day, in spite of all our enlightenment
and scientific advances, astrology still has a hold upon multitudes.
Astrological almanacs and treatises are sold by the tens of thousands,
and astrological superstitions are still current. "The star of the god
Chiun" is not indeed openly worshipped; but Saturn is still looked upon
as the planet bringing such diseases as "toothache, agues, and all that
proceeds from cold, consumption, the spleen particularly, and the bones,
rheumatic gouts, jaundice, dropsy, and all complaints arising from fear,
apoplexies, etc."; and charms made of Saturn's metal, lead, are still
worn upon Saturn's finger, in the belief that these will ward off the
threatened evil; a tradition of the time when by so doing the wearers
would have proclaimed themselves votaries of the god, and therefore
under his protection.

Astrology is inevitably linked with heathenism, and both shut up spirit
and mind against the knowledge of God Himself, which is religion; and
against the knowledge of His works, which is science. And though a man
may be religious without being scientific, or scientific without being
religious, religion and science alike both rest on one and the same
basis--the belief in "One God, Maker of heaven and earth."

That belief was the reason why Israel of old, so far as it was faithful
to it, was free from the superstitions of astrology.

     "It is no small honour for this nation to have been wise
     enough to see the inanity of this and all other forms of
     divination. . . . Of what other ancient civilized nation could
     as much be said?"[145:1]


[136:1] R. A. Proctor, _The Great Pyramid_, pp. 274-276.

[139:1] G. V. Schiaparelli, _Astronomy in the Old Testament_, p. 137.

[145:1] G. V. Schiaparelli, _Astronomy in the Old Testament_, p. 52.

[Illustration: _By permission of the Autotype Co._

_74, New Oxford Street, London, W.C._


"As certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also His





The age of Classical astronomy began with the labours of Eudoxus and
others, about four centuries before the Christian Era, but there was an
Earlier astronomy whose chief feature was the arrangement of the stars
into constellations.

The best known of all such arrangements is that sometimes called the
"Greek Sphere," because those constellations have been preserved to us
by Greek astronomers and poets. The earliest complete catalogue of the
stars, as thus arranged, that has come down to us was compiled by
Claudius Ptolemy, the astronomer of Alexandria, and completed 137 A.D.
In this catalogue, each star is described by its place in the supposed
figure of the constellation, whilst its celestial latitude and longitude
are added, so that we can see with considerable exactness how the
astronomers of that time imagined the star figures. The earliest
complete description of the constellations, apart from the places of the
individual stars, is given in the poem of Aratus of Soli--_The
Phenomena_, published about 270 B.C.

Were these constellations known to the Hebrews of old? We can answer
this question without hesitation in the case of St. Paul. For in his
sermon to the Athenians on Mars' Hill, he quotes from the opening verses
of this constellation poem of Aratus:--

     "God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that
     He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made
     with hands; neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though
     He needed anything, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath,
     and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men
     for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined
     the times before appointed, and the bounds of their
     habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they
     might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from
     every one of us: for in Him we live, and move, and have our
     being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are
     also His offspring."

The poem of Aratus begins thus:--

     "To God above we dedicate our song;
      To leave Him unadored, we never dare;
      For He is present in each busy throng,
      In every solemn gathering He is there.
      The sea is His; and His each crowded port;
      In every place our need of Him we feel;

Aratus, like St. Paul himself, was a native of Cilicia, and had been
educated at Athens. His poem on the constellations came, in the opinion
of the Greeks, next in honour to the poems of Homer, so that St. Paul's
quotation from it appealed to his hearers with special force.

The constellations of Ptolemy's catalogue are forty-eight in number.
Those of Aratus correspond to them in almost every particular, but one
or two minor differences may be marked. According to Ptolemy, the
constellations are divided into three sets:--twenty-one northern, twelve
in the zodiac, and fifteen southern.

The northern constellations are--to use the names by which they are now
familiar to us--1, _Ursa Minor_, the Little Bear; 2, _Ursa Major_, the
Great Bear; 3, _Draco_, the Dragon; 4, _Cepheus_, the King; 5, _Boötes_,
the Herdsman; 6, _Corona Borealis_, the Northern Crown; 7, _Hercules_,
the Kneeler; 8, _Lyra_, the Lyre or Swooping Eagle; 9, _Cygnus_, the
Bird; 10, _Cassiopeia_, the Throned Queen, or the Lady in the Chair; 11,
_Perseus_; 12, _Auriga_, the Holder of the Reins; 13, _Ophiuchus_, the
Serpent-holder; 14, _Serpens_, the Serpent; 15, _Sagitta_, the Arrow;
16, _Aquila_, the Soaring Eagle; 17, _Delphinus_, the Dolphin; 18,
_Equuleus_, the Horse's Head; 19, _Pegasus_, the Winged Horse; 20,
_Andromeda_, the Chained Woman; 21, _Triangulum_, the Triangle.

The zodiacal constellations are: 1, _Aries_, the Ram; 2, _Taurus_, the
Bull; 3, _Gemini_, the Twins; 4, _Cancer_, the Crab; 5, _Leo_, the Lion;
6, _Virgo_, the Virgin; 7, _Libra_, the Scales,--also called the Claws,
that is of the Scorpion; 8, _Scorpio_, the Scorpion; 9, _Sagittarius_,
the Archer; 10, _Capricornus_, the Sea-goat, _i. e._ Goat-fish; 11,
_Aquarius_, the Water-pourer; 12, _Pisces_, the Fishes.

The southern constellations are: 1, _Cetus_, the Sea-Monster; 2,
_Orion_, the Giant; 3, _Eridanus_, the River; 4, _Lepus_, the Hare; 5,
_Canis Major_, the Great Dog; 6, _Canis Minor_, the Little Dog; 7,
_Argo_, the Ship and Rock; 8, _Hydra_, the Water-snake; 9, _Crater_, the
Cup; 10, _Corvus_, the Raven; 11, _Centaurus_, the Centaur; 12,
_Lupus_, the Beast; 13, _Ara_, the Altar; 14, _Corona Australis_, the
Southern Crown; 15, _Piscis Australis_, the Southern Fish.

Aratus, living four hundred years earlier than Ptolemy, differs only
from him in that he reckons the cluster of the Pleiades--counted by
Ptolemy in Taurus--as a separate constellation, but he has no
constellation of _Equuleus_. The total number of constellations was thus
still forty-eight. Aratus further describes the Southern Crown, but
gives it no name; and in the constellation of the Little Dog he only
mentions one star, _Procyon_, the Dog's Forerunner. He also mentions
that the two Bears were also known as two Wagons or Chariots.

Were these constellations, so familiar to us to-day, known before the
time of Aratus, and if so, by whom were they devised, and when and

They were certainly known before the time of Aratus, for his poem was
confessedly a versification of an account of them written by Eudoxus
more than a hundred years previous. At a yet earlier date, Panyasis,
uncle to the great historian Herodotus, incidentally discusses the name
of one of the constellations, which must therefore have been known to
him. Earlier still, Hesiod, in the second book of his _Works and Days_,
refers to several:--

     "Orion and the Dog, each other nigh,
      Together mounted to the midnight sky,
      When in the rosy morn Arcturus shines,
      Then pluck the clusters from the parent vines.

           *       *       *       *       *

      Next in the round do not to plough forget
      When the Seven Virgins and Orion set."

Much the same constellations are referred to by Homer. Thus, in the
fifth book of the _Odyssey_,--

     "And now, rejoicing in the prosperous gales,
      With beating heart Ulysses spreads his sails:
      Placed at the helm he sate, and marked the skies,
      Nor closed in sleep his ever-watchful eyes.
      There view'd the Pleiads and the Northern Team,
      And great Orion's more refulgent beam,
      To which around the axle of the sky
      The Bear, revolving, points his golden eye."

Thus it is clear that several of the constellations were perfectly
familiar to the Greeks a thousand years before the Christian era; that
is to say, about the time of Solomon.

We have other evidence that the constellations were known in early
times. We often find on Greek coins, a bull, a ram, or a lion
represented; these may well be references to some of the signs of the
zodiac, but offer no conclusive evidence. But several of the
constellation figures are very unusual in form; thus the Sea-goat has
the head and fore-legs of a goat, but the hinder part of a fish; and the
Archer has the head and shoulders of a man, but the body and legs of a
horse. Pegasus, the horse with wings, not only shows this unnatural
combination, but the constellation figure only gives part of the
animal--the head, neck, wings, breast, and fore-legs. Now some of these
characteristic figures are found on quite early Greek coins, and yet
earlier on what are known as "boundary stones" from Babylonia. These are
little square pillars, covered with inscriptions and sculptures, and
record for the most part the gift, transfer, or sale of land. They are
dated according to the year of the reigning king, so that a clear idea
can be formed as to their age. A great many symbols, which appear to be
astronomical, occur upon them; amongst these such very distinguishing
shapes as the Archer, Sea-goat, and Scorpion (_see_ p. 318). So that,
just as we know from Homer and Hesiod that the principal constellations
were known of old by the same names as those by which we know them
to-day, we learn from Babylonian boundary stones that they were then
known as having the same forms as we now ascribe to them. The date of
the earliest boundary stones of the kind in our possession would show
that the Babylonians knew of our constellations as far back as the
twelfth century B.C., that is to say, whilst Israel was under the

We have direct evidence thus far back as to the existence of the
constellations. But they are older than this, so much older that
tradition as well as direct historical evidence fails us. The only
earlier evidence open to us is that of the constellations themselves.

A modern celestial globe is covered over with figures from pole to pole,
but the majority of these are of quite recent origin and belong to the
Modern period of astronomy. They have been framed since the invention of
the telescope, and since the progress of geographical discovery brought
men to know the southern skies. If these modern constellations are
cleared off, and only those of Aratus and Ptolemy suffered to remain, it
becomes at once evident that the ancient astronomers were not acquainted
with the entire heavens. For there is a large space in the south, left
free from all the old constellations, and no explanation, why it should
have been so left free, is so simple and satisfactory as the obvious
one, that the ancient astronomers did not map out the stars in that
region because they never saw them; those stars never rose above their


Thus at the present time the heavens for an observer in England are
naturally divided into three parts, as shown in the accompanying
diagram. In the north, round the pole-star are a number of
constellations that never set; they wheel unceasingly around the pole.
On every fine night we can see the Great Bear, the Little Bear, the
Dragon, Cepheus and Cassiopeia. But the stars in the larger portion of
the sky have their risings and settings, and the seasons in which they
are visible or are withdrawn from sight. Thus we see Orion and the
Pleiades and Sirius in the winter, not in the summer, but the Scorpion
and Sagittarius in the summer. Similarly there is a third portion of the
heavens which never comes within our range. We never see the Southern
Cross, and hardly any star in the great constellation of the Ship,
though these are very familiar to New Zealanders.


                                * *

                                * *       North Pole
                               *    Stars  /
            .                   *     Always
              .                        Visible
                .                       /
                  . Visible            /
                    .   Hemisphere    /
                      .              /
                        .           /
                          .        /
                            .     /
              (Earth surface) .  /  (Earth surface)
     South --------------------------------------- North
                               /  .    Celestial
                              /     . / Equator
                       Invisible      .
                            /           .
                           / Hemisphere   .
                          /                 .
                  Stars  /                    .
                     Never                      .
                       / Visible

                        THE CELESTIAL SPHERE.]

The outline of this unmapped region must therefore correspond roughly to
the horizon of the place where the constellations were originally
designed, or at least be roughly parallel to it, since we may well
suppose that stars which only rose two or three degrees above that
horizon might have been neglected.

From this we learn that the constellations were designed by people
living not very far from the 40th parallel of north latitude, not
further south than the 37th or 36th. This is important, as it shows that
they did not originate in ancient Egypt or India, nor even in the city
of Babylon, which is in latitude 32-1/2°.[157:1]

But this vacant space reveals another fact of even more importance. It
gives us a hint as to the date when the constellations were designed.

An observer in north latitude 40° at the present time would be very far
from seeing all the stars included in the forty-eight constellations. He
would see nothing at all of the constellation of the Altar, and a good
deal of that of the Centaur would be hidden from him.

On the other hand, there are some bright constellations, such as the
Phoenix and the Crane, unknown to the ancients, which would come within
his range of vision. This is due to what is known as "precession;" a
slow movement of the axis upon which the earth rotates. In consequence
of this, the pole of the heavens seems to trace out a circle amongst the
stars which it takes 25,800 years to complete. It is therefore a matter
of very simple calculation to find the position of the south pole of the
heavens at any given date, past or future, and we find that the centre
of the unmapped space was the south pole of the heavens something like
4,600 years ago, that is to say about 2,700 B.C.

It is, of course, not possible to fix either time or latitude very
closely, since the limits of the unmapped space are a a little vague.
But it is significant that if we take a celestial globe, arranged so as
to represent the heavens for the time 2,700 B.C., and for north latitude
40°, we find several striking relations. First of all, the Great Dragon
then linked together the north pole of the celestial equator, and the
north pole of the ecliptic; it was as nearly as possible symmetrical
with regard to the two; it occupied the very crown of the heavens. With
the single exception of the Little Bear, which it nearly surrounds, the
Dragon was the only constellation that never set. Next, the Water-snake
(see diagram, p. 200) lay at this time right along the equator,
extending over 105° of Right Ascension; or, to put it less technically,
it took seven hours out of the twenty-four to cross the meridian. It
covered nearly one-third of the equatorial belt. Thirdly, the
intersection of the equator with one of the principal meridians of the
sky was marked by the Serpent, which is carried by the Serpent-holder
in a very peculiar manner. The meridian at midnight at the time of the
spring equinox is called a "colure,"--the "autumnal colure," because the
sun crosses it in autumn. Now the Serpent was so arranged as to be shown
writhing itself for some distance along the equator, and then struggling
upwards, along the autumnal colure, marking the zenith with its head.
The lower part of the autumnal colure was marked by the Scorpion, and
the foot of the Serpent-holder pressed down the creature's head, just
where the colure, the equator, and the ecliptic intersected (_see_
diagram, p. 164).

It is scarcely conceivable that this fourfold arrangement, not suggested
by any natural grouping of the stars, should have come about by
accident; it must have been intentional. For some reason, the equator,
the colure, the zenith and the poles were all marked out by these
serpentine or draconic forms. The unmapped space gives us a clue only to
the date and latitude of the designing of the most southerly
constellations. We now see that a number of the northern hold positions
which were specially significant under the same conditions, indicating
that they were designed at about the same date. There is therefore
little room for doubt that some time in the earlier half of the third
millennium before our era, and somewhere between the 36th and 40th
parallels of north latitude, the constellations were designed,
substantially as we have them now, the serpent forms being intentionally
placed in these positions of great astronomical importance.

It will have been noticed that Ptolemy makes the Ram the first
constellation of the zodiac. It was so in his days, but it was the Bull
that was the original leader, as we know from a variety of traditions;
the sun at the spring equinox being in the centre of that constellation
about 3000 B.C. At the time when the constellations were designed, the
sun at the spring equinox was near Aldebaran, the brightest star of the
Bull; at the summer solstice it was near Regulus, the brightest star of
the Lion; at the autumnal equinox it was near Antares, the brightest
star of the Scorpion; at the winter solstice it was near Fomalhaut, the
brightest star in the neighbourhood of the Waterpourer. These four stars
have come down to us with the name of the "Royal Stars," probably
because they were so near to the four most important points in the
apparent path of the sun amongst the stars. There is also a celebrated
passage in the first of Virgil's _Georgics_ which speaks of the white
bull with golden horns that opens the year. So when the Mithraic
religion adopted several of the constellation figures amongst its
symbols, the Bull as standing for the spring equinox, the Lion for the
summer solstice, were the two to which most prominence was given, and
they are found thus used in Mithraic monuments as late as the second or
third century A.D., long after the Ram had been recognized as the
leading sign.

It is not possible to push back the origin of the constellations to an
indefinite antiquity. They cannot at the very outside be more than 5000
years old; they must be considerably more than 4000. But during the
whole of this millennium the sun at the spring equinox was in the
constellation of the Bull. There is therefore no possible doubt that
the Bull--and not the Twins nor the Ram--was the original leader of the

The constellations, therefore, were designed long before the nation of
Israel had its origin, indeed before Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees.
The most probable date--2700 B.C.--would take us to a point a little
before the Flood, if we accept the Hebrew chronology, a few centuries
after the Flood, if we accept the Septuagint chronology. Just as the
next great age of astronomical activity, which I have termed the
Classical, began after the close of the canon of the Old Testament
scriptures, so the constellation age began before the first books of
those scriptures were compiled. Broadly speaking, it may be said that
the knowledge of the constellation figures was the chief asset of
astronomy in the centuries when the Old Testament was being written.

Seeing that the knowledge of these figures was preserved in Mesopotamia,
the country from which Abraham came out, and that they were in existence
long before his day, it is not unreasonable to suppose that both he and
his descendants were acquainted with them, and that when he and they
looked upward to the glories of the silent stars, and recalled the
promise, "So shall thy seed be," they pictured round those glittering
points of light much the same forms that we connect with them to-day.


[157:1] Delitzsch is, therefore, in error when he asserts that "when we
divide the zodiac into twelve signs and style them the Ram, Bull, Twins,
etc. . . . the Sumerian-Babylonian culture is still living and operating
even at the present day" (_Babel and Bible_, p. 67). The constellations
may have been originally designed by the _Akkadians_, but if so it was
before they came down from their native highlands into the Mesopotamian



As we have just shown, the constellations evidently were designed long
before the earliest books of the Old Testament received their present
form. But the first nine chapters of Genesis give the history of the
world before any date that we can assign to the constellations, and are
clearly derived from very early documents or traditions.

When the constellations are compared with those nine chapters, several
correspondences appear between the two; remarkable, when it is borne in
mind how few are the events that can be plainly set forth in a group of
forty-eight figures on the one hand, and how condensed are the
narratives of those nine chapters on the other.

Look at the six southern constellations (_see_ pp. 164, 165) which were
seen during the nights of spring in that distant time. The largest of
these six is a great Ship resting on the southern horizon. Just above, a
Raven is perched on the stretched-out body of a reptile. A figure of a
Centaur appears to have just left the Ship, and is represented as
offering up an animal on an Altar. The animal is now shown as a Wolf,
but Aratus, our earliest authority, states that he did not know what
kind of animal it was that was being thus offered up. The cloud of
smoke from the Altar is represented by the bright coiling wreaths of the
Milky Way, and here in the midst of that cloud is set the Bow--the bow
of Sagittarius, the Archer. Is it possible that this can be mere
coincidence, or was it indeed intended as a memorial of the covenant
which God made with Noah, and with his children for ever?--"I do set My
bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between Me
and the earth."

Close by this group was another, made up of five constellations. Towards
the south, near midnight in spring, the observer in those ancient times
saw the Scorpion. The figure of a man was standing upon that venomous
beast, with his left foot pressed firmly down upon its head; but the
scorpion's tail was curled up to sting him in the right heel. Ophiuchus,
the Serpent-holder, the man treading on the Scorpion, derives his name
from the Serpent which he holds in his hands and strangles; the Serpent
that, as we have seen in the preceding chapter, marked the autumnal
colure. The head of Ophiuchus reached nearly to the zenith, and there
close to it was the head of another hero, so close that to complete the
form of the two heads the same stars must be used to some extent twice
over. Facing north, this second hero, now known to us as Hercules, but
to Aratus simply as the "Kneeler," was seen kneeling with his foot on
the head of the great northern Dragon. This great conflict between the
man and the serpent, therefore, was presented in a twofold form. Looking
south there was the picture of Ophiuchus trampling on the scorpion and
strangling the snake, yet wounded in the heel by the scorpion's sting;
looking north, the corresponding picture of the kneeling figure of
Hercules treading down the dragon's head. Here there seems an evident
reference to the word spoken by God to the serpent in the garden in
Eden: "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy
seed and her Seed; It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His


These two groups of star-figures seem therefore to point to the two
great promises made to mankind and recorded in the early chapters of
Genesis; the Promise of the Deliverer, Who, "Seed of the woman," should
bruise the serpent's head, and the promise of the "Bow set in the
cloud," the pledge that the world should not again be destroyed by a


One or two other constellations appear, less distinctly, to refer to the
first of these two promises. The Virgin, the woman of the zodiac,
carries in her hand a bright star, the ear of corn, the seed; whilst,
immediately under her, the great Water-snake, Hydra, is drawn out at
enormous length, "going on its belly;" not writhing upwards like the
Serpent, nor twined round the crown of the sky like the Dragon.

Yet again, the narrative in Genesis tells us that God "drove out the
man" (_i. e._ Adam), "and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden
the cherubim, and the flame of a sword which turned every way, to keep
the way of the tree of life." No description is given of the form of the
cherubim in that passage, but they are fully described by Ezekiel, who
saw them in vision when he was by the river Chebar, as "the likeness of
four living creatures." The same beings were also seen in vision by St.
John, and are described by him in the Apocalypse as "four living
creatures" (_Zōa_). "The first creature was like a lion, and the
second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face as of a
man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle." Ezekiel gives a
fuller and more complex description, but agreeing in its essential
elements with that given by the Apostle, and, at the close of one of
these descriptions, he adds, "This is the living creature that I saw
under the God of Israel by the river of Chebar; and I knew that they
were cherubim"--no doubt because as a priest he had been familiar with
the cherubic forms as they were embroidered upon the curtains of the
Temple, and carved upon its walls and doors.

The same four forms were seen amongst the constellation figures; not
placed at random amongst them, but as far as possible in the four most
important positions in the sky. For the constellations were originally
so designed that the sun at the time of the summer solstice was in the
middle of the constellation _Leo_, the Lion; at the time of the spring
equinox in the middle of _Taurus_, the Bull; and at the time of the
winter solstice, in the middle of _Aquarius_, the Man bearing the
waterpot. The fourth point, that held by the sun at the autumnal
equinox, would appear to have been already assigned to the foot of the
Serpent-holder as he crushes down the Scorpion's head; but a flying
eagle, _Aquila_, is placed as near the equinoctial point as seems to
have been consistent with the ample space that it was desired to give to
the emblems of the great conflict between the Deliverer and the Serpent.
Thus, as in the vision of Ezekiel, so in the constellation figures, the
Lion, the Ox, the Man, and the Eagle, stood as the upholders of the
firmament, as "the pillars of heaven." They looked down like watchers
upon all creation; they seemed to guard the four quarters of the sky.

If we accept an old Jewish tradition, the constellations may likewise
give us some hint of an event recorded in the tenth chapter of Genesis.
For it has been supposed that the great stellar giant Orion is none
other than "Nimrod, the mighty hunter before the Lord," and the founder
of the Babylonian kingdom; identified by some Assyriologists with
Merodach, the tutelary deity of Babylon: and by others with Gilgamesh,
the tyrant of Erech, whose exploits have been preserved to us in the
great epic now known by his name. Possibly both identifications may
prove to be correct.

More than one third of the constellation figures thus appear to have a
close connection with some of the chief incidents recorded in the first
ten chapters of Genesis as having taken place in the earliest ages of
the world's history. If we include the Hare and the two Dogs as adjuncts
of Orion, and the Cup as well as the Raven with Hydra, then no fewer
than twenty-two out of the forty-eight are directly or indirectly so
connected. But the constellation figures only deal with a very few
isolated incidents, and these are necessarily such as lend themselves to
graphic representation. The points in common with the Genesis narrative
are indeed striking, but the points of independence are no less
striking. The majority of the constellation figures do not appear to
refer to any incidents in Genesis; the majority of the incidents in the
Genesis narrative find no record in the sky. Even in the treatment of
incidents common to both there are differences, which make it impossible
to suppose that either was directly derived from the other.

But it is clear that when the constellations were devised,--that is to
say, roughly speaking, about 2,700 B.C.,--the promise of the Deliverer,
the "Seed of the woman" who should bruise the serpent's head, was well
known and highly valued; so highly valued that a large part of the sky
was devoted to its commemoration and to that of the curse on the
serpent. The story of the Flood was also known, and especially the
covenant made with those who were saved in the ark, that the world
should not again be destroyed by water, the token of which covenant was
the "Bow set in the cloud." The fourfold cherubic forms were known, the
keepers of the way of the tree of life, the symbols of the presence of
God; and they were set in the four parts of the heaven, marking it out
as the tabernacle which He spreadeth abroad, for He dwelleth between the



Beside the narrative of the Flood given to us in Genesis, and the
pictorial representation of it preserved in the star figures, we have
Deluge stories from many parts of the world. But in particular we have a
very striking one from Babylonia. In the _Epic of Gilgamesh_, already
alluded to, the eleventh tablet is devoted to an interview between the
hero and Pir-napistim, the Babylonian Noah, who recounts to him how he
and his family were saved at the time of the great flood.

This Babylonian story of the Deluge stands in quite a different relation
from the Babylonian story of Creation in its bearing on the account
given in Genesis. As we have already seen, the stories of Creation have
practically nothing in common; the stories of the Deluge have many most
striking points of resemblance, and may reasonably be supposed to have
had a common origin.

Prof. Friedrich Delitzsch, in his celebrated lectures _Babel and Bible_,
refers to this Babylonian Deluge story in the following terms:--

     "The Babylonians divided their history into two great periods:
     the one before, the other after the Flood. Babylon was in
     quite a peculiar sense the land of deluges. The alluvial
     lowlands along the course of all great rivers discharging into
     the sea are, of course, exposed to terrible floods of a
     special kind--cyclones and tornadoes accompanied by
     earthquakes and tremendous downpours of rain."

After referring to the great cyclone and tidal wave which wrecked the
Sunderbunds at the mouths of the Ganges in 1876, when 215,000 persons
met their death by drowning, Prof. Delitzsch goes on--

     "It is the merit of the celebrated Viennese geologist, Eduard
     Suess, to have shown that there is an accurate description of
     such a cyclone, line for line, in the Babylonian Deluge
     story. . . . The whole story, precisely as it was written
     down, travelled to Canaan. But, owing to the new and entirely
     different local conditions, it was forgotten that the sea was
     the chief factor, and so we find in the Bible two accounts of
     the Deluge, which are not only scientifically impossible, but,
     furthermore, mutually contradictory--the one assigning to it a
     duration of 365 days, the other of [40 + (3 x 7)] = 61 days.
     Science is indebted to Jean Astruc, that strictly orthodox
     Catholic physician of Louis XIV., for recognizing that two
     fundamentally different accounts of a deluge have been worked
     up into a single story in the Bible."[171:1]

The importance of the Babylonian Deluge story does not rest in anything
intrinsic to itself, for there are many deluge stories preserved by
other nations quite as interesting and as well told. It derives its
importance from its points of resemblance to the Genesis story, and from
the deduction that some have drawn from these that it was the original
of that story--or rather of the two stories--that we find imperfectly
recombined in Genesis.

The suggestion of Jean Astruc that "two fundamentally different
accounts of a deluge have been worked up into a single story in the
Bible" has been generally accepted by those who have followed him in the
minute analysis of the literary structure of Holy Scripture; and the
names of the "Priestly Narrative" and of the "Jehovistic Narrative"
have, for the sake of distinctness, been applied to them. The former is
so called because the chapters in Exodus and the two following books,
which treat with particular minuteness of the various ceremonial
institutions of Israel, are considered to be by the same writer. The
latter has received its name from the preference shown by the writer for
the use, as the Divine name, of the word _Jehovah_,--so spelt when given
in our English versions, but generally translated "the LORD."

There is a very close accord between different authorities as to the way
in which Genesis, chapters vi.-ix., should be allotted to these two
sources. The following is Dr. Driver's arrangement:--

          Chap.     Verse.      |        Chap.   Verse.
  Genesis vi.       9-22.       |Genesis vii.    1-5.
          vii.      6.          |                7-10.
                    11.         |                12.
                    13-16a.     |                16b.
                    17a.        |                17b.
                    18-21.      |                22-23.
                    24.         |        viii.   2b-3a.
          viii.     1-2a.       |                6-12.
                    3b-5.       |                13b.
                    13a.        |                20-22.
                    14-19.      |
          ix.       1-17.       |

The Priestly narrative therefore tells us the cause of the Flood--that
is to say, the corruption of mankind; describes the dimensions of the
ark, and instructs Noah to bring "of every living thing of all flesh,
two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with
thee; they shall be male and female." It further supplies the dates of
the chief occurrences during the Flood, states that the waters prevailed
above the tops of the mountains, that when the Flood diminished the ark
rested upon the mountains of Ararat; and gives the account of Noah and
his family going forth from the ark, and of the covenant which God made
with them, of which the token was to be the bow seen in the cloud.

The most striking notes of the Jehovistic narrative are,--the incident
of the sending out of the raven and the dove; the account of Noah's
sacrifice; and the distinction made between clean beasts and beasts that
are not clean--the command to Noah being, "Of every clean beast thou
shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts
that are not clean by two, the male and his female." The significant
points of distinction between the two accounts are that the Priestly
writer gives the description of the ark, the Flood prevailing above the
mountains, the grounding on Mount Ararat, and the bow in the cloud; the
Jehovistic gives the sending out of the raven and the dove, and the
account of Noah's sacrifice, which involves the recognition of the
distinction between the clean and unclean beasts and the more abundant
provision of the former. He also lays emphasis on the Lord's "smelling a
sweet savour" and promising never again to smite everything living,
"for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth."

The chief features of the Babylonian story of the Deluge are as
follows:--The God Ae spoke to Pir-napistim, the Babylonian Noah--

     "'Destroy the house, build a ship,
      Leave what thou hast, see to thy life.
      Destroy the hostile and save life.
      Take up the seed of life, all of it, into the midst of the ship.
      The ship which thou shalt make, even thou.
      Let its size be measured;
      Let it agree as to its height and its length.'"

The description of the building of the ship seems to have been very
minute, but the record is mutilated, and what remains is difficult to
translate. As in the Priestly narrative, it is expressly mentioned that
it was "pitched within and without."

The narrative proceeds in the words of Pir-napistim:--

     "All I possessed, I collected it,
      All I possessed I collected it, of silver;
      All I possessed I collected it, of gold;
      All I possessed I collected it, the seed of life, the whole.
      I caused to go up into the midst of the ship,
      All my family and relatives,
      The beasts of the field, the animals of the field, the sons of the
          artificers--all of them I sent up.
      The God Šamaš appointed the time--
      Muir Kukki--'In the night I will cause the heavens to rain
      Enter into the midst of the ship, and shut thy door.'
      That time approached--
      Muir Kukki--In the night the heavens rained destruction
      I saw the appearance of the day:
      I was afraid to look upon the day--
      I entered into the midst of the ship, and shut my door

           *       *       *       *       *

      At the appearance of dawn in the morning,
      There arose from the foundation of heaven a dark cloud:

           *       *       *       *       *

      The first day, the storm? . . . .
      Swiftly it swept, and . . . .
      Like a battle against the people it sought.
      Brother saw not brother.
      The people were not to be recognized. In heaven
      The gods feared the flood, and
      They fled, they ascended to the heaven of Anu.
      The gods kenneled like dogs, crouched down in the enclosures.

           *       *       *       *       *

      The gods had crouched down, seated in lamentation,
      Covered were their lips in the assemblies,
      Six days and nights
      The wind blew, the deluge and flood overwhelmed the land.
      The seventh day, when it came, the storm ceased, the raging flood,
      Which had contended like a whirlwind,
      Quieted, the sea shrank back, and the evil wind and deluge ended.
      I noticed the sea making a noise,
      And all mankind had turned to corruption.

           *       *       *       *       *

      I noted the regions, the shore of the sea,
      For twelve measures the region arose.
      The ship had stopped at the land of Nisir.
      The mountain of Nisir seized the ship, and would not let it pass.
      The first day and the second day the mountains of Nisir seized the
          ship, and would not let it pass.

           *       *       *       *       *

      The seventh day, when it came
      I sent forth a dove, and it left;
      The dove went, it turned about,
      But there was no resting-place, and it returned.
      I sent forth a swallow, and it left,
      The swallow went, it turned about,
      But there was no resting-place, and it returned.
      I sent forth a raven, and it left,
      The raven went, the rushing of the waters it saw,
      It ate, it waded, it croaked, it did not return.
      I sent forth (the animals) to the four winds, I poured out a
      I made an offering on the peak of the mountain,
      Seven and seven I set incense-vases there,
      In their depths I poured cane, cedar, and rosewood (?).
      The gods smelled a savour;
      The gods smelled a sweet savour.
      The gods gathered like flies over the sacrificer.
      Then the goddess Sîrtu, when she came,
      Raised the great signets that Anu had made at her wish:
      'These gods--by the lapis-stone of my neck--let me not forget;
      These days let me remember, nor forget them for ever!
      Let the gods come to the sacrifice,
      But let not Bêl come to the sacrifice,
      For he did not take counsel, and made a flood,
      And consigned my people to destruction.'
      Then Bêl, when he came,
      Saw the ship. And Bêl stood still,
      Filled with anger on account of the gods and the spirits of
      'What, has a soul escaped?
      Let not a man be saved from the destruction.'
      Ninip opened his mouth and spake.
      He said to the warrior Bêl:
      'Who but Ae has done the thing?
      And Ae knows every event.'
      Ae opened his mouth and spake,
      He said to the warrior Bêl:
      'Thou sage of the gods, warrior,
      Verily thou hast not taken counsel, and hast made a flood.
      The sinner has committed his sin,
      The evil-doer has committed his misdeed,
      Be merciful--let him not be cut off--yield, let not perish.
      Why hast thou made a flood?
      Let the lion come, and let men diminish.
      Why hast thou made a flood?
      Let the hyena come, and let men diminish.
      Why hast thou made a flood?
      Let a famine happen, and let the land be (?)
      Why hast thou made a flood?
      Let Ura (pestilence) come, and let the land be (?)'"[176:1]

Of the four records before us, we can only date one approximately. The
constellations, as we have already seen, were mapped out some time in
the third millennium before our era, probably not very far from 2700

When was the Babylonian story written? Does it, itself, afford any
evidence of date? It occurs in the eleventh tablet of the _Epic of
Gilgamesh_, and the theory has been started that as Aquarius, a watery
constellation, is now the eleventh sign of the zodiac, therefore we have
in this epic of twelve tablets a series of solar myths founded upon the
twelve signs of the zodiac, the eleventh giving us a legend of a flood
to correspond to the stream of water which the man in Aquarius pours
from his pitcher.

If this theory be accepted we can date the _Epic of Gilgamesh_ with much
certainty: it must be later, probably much later, than 700 B.C. For it
cannot have been till about that time that the present arrangement of
the zodiacal signs--that is to say with Aries as the first and Aquarius
as the eleventh--can have been adopted. We have then to allow for the
growth of a mythology with the twelve signs as its _motif_. Had this
supposed series of zodiacal myths originated before 700 B.C., before
Aries was adopted as the leading sign, then the Bull, Taurus, would have
given rise to the myth of the first tablet and Aquarius to the tenth,
not to the eleventh where we find the story of the flood.

Assyriologists do not assign so late a date to this poem, and it must be
noted that the theory supposes, not merely that the tablet itself, but
that the poem and the series of myths upon which it was based, were all
later in conception than 700 B.C. One conclusive indication of its early
date is given by the position in the pantheon of Ae and Bêl. Ae has not
receded into comparative insignificance, nor has Bêl attained to that
full supremacy which, as Merodach, he possesses in the Babylonian
Creation story. We may therefore put on one side as an unsupported and
unfortunate guess the suggestion that the _Epic of Gilgamesh_ is the
setting forth of a series of zodiacal myths.

Any legends, any mythology, any pantheon based upon the zodiac must
necessarily be more recent than the zodiac; any system involving Aries
as the first sign of the zodiac must be later than the adoption of Aries
as the first sign, that is to say, later than 700 B.C. Systems arising
before that date would inevitably be based upon Taurus as first

We cannot then, from astronomical relationships, fix the date of the
Babylonian story of the Flood. Is it possible, however, to form any
estimate of the comparative ages of the Babylonian legend and of the two
narratives given in Genesis, or of either of these two? Does the
Babylonian story connect itself with one of the Genesis narratives
rather than the other?

The significant points in the Babylonian story are these:--the command
to Pir-napistim to build a ship, with detailed directions; the great
rise of the flood so that even the gods in the heaven of Anu feared it;
the detailed dating of the duration of the flood; the stranding of the
ship on the mountain of Nisir; the sending forth of the dove, the
swallow, and their return; the sending forth of the raven, and its
non-return; the sacrifice; the gods smelling its sweet savour; the vow
of remembrance of the goddess by the lapis-stone necklace; the
determination of the gods not to send a flood again upon the earth,
since sin is inevitable from the sinner. To all these points we find
parallels in the account as given in Genesis.

But it is in the Priestly narrative that we find the directions for the
building of the ship; the great prevalence of the flood even to the
height of the mountains; the stranding of the ship on a mountain; and
the bow in the clouds as a covenant of remembrance--this last being
perhaps paralleled in the Babylonian story by the mottled
(blue-and-white) lapis necklace of the goddess which she swore by as a
remembrancer. There is therefore manifest connection with the narrative
told by the Priestly writer.

But it is in the Jehovistic narrative, on the other hand, that we find
the sending forth of the raven, and its non-return; the sending forth of
the dove, and its return; the sacrifice, and the sweet savour that was
smelled of the Lord; and the determination of the Lord not to curse the
earth any more for man's sake, nor smite any more every living thing,
"for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth." There is,
therefore, no less manifest connection with the narrative told by the
Jehovistic writer.

But the narrative told by the writer of the Babylonian story is one
single account; even if it were a combination of two separate
traditions, they have been so completely fused that they cannot now be
broken up so as to form two distinct narratives, each complete in

"The whole story precisely as it was written down travelled to
Canaan,"--so we are told. And there,--we are asked to believe,--two
Hebrew writers of very different temperaments and schools of thought,
each independently worked up a complete story of the Deluge from this
Gilgamesh legend. They chose out different incidents, one selecting what
the other rejected, and _vice versa_, so that their two accounts were
"mutually contradictory." They agreed, however, in cleansing it from its
polytheistic setting, and giving it a strictly monotheistic tone. Later,
an "editor" put the two narratives together, with all their
inconsistencies and contradictions, and interlocked them into one, which
presents all the main features of the original Gilgamesh story except
its polytheism. In other words, two Hebrew scribes each told in his own
way a part of the account of the Deluge which he had derived from
Babylon, and a third unwittingly so recombined them as to make them
represent the Babylonian original!

The two accounts of the Deluge, supposed to be present in Genesis,
therefore cannot be derived from the Gilgamesh epic, nor be later than
it, seeing that what is still plainly separable in Genesis is
inseparably fused in the epic.

On the other hand, can the Babylonian narrative be later than, and
derived from, the Genesis account? Since so many of the same
circumstances are represented in both, this is a more reasonable
proposition, if we assume that the Babylonian narrator had the Genesis
account as it now stands, and did not have to combine two separate
statements. For surely if he had the separate Priestly and Jehovistic
narratives we should now be able to decompose the Babylonian narrative
just as easily as we do the one in Genesis. The Babylonian adapter of
the Genesis story must have either been less astute than ourselves, and
did not perceive that he had really two distinct (and "contradictory")
narratives to deal with, or he did not consider this circumstance of the
slightest importance, and had no objection to merging them inextricably
into one continuous account.

It is therefore possible that the Babylonian account was derived from
that in Genesis; but it is not probable. The main circumstances are the
same in both, but the details, the presentment, the attitude of mind are
very different. We can better explain the agreement in the general
circumstances, and even in many of the details, by presuming that both
are accounts--genuine traditions--of the same actual occurrence. The
differences in detail, presentment, and attitude, are fully and
sufficiently explained by supposing that we have traditions from two, if
not three, witnesses of the event.

We have also the pictorial representation of the Flood given us in the
constellations. What evidence do they supply?

Here the significant points are: the ship grounded upon a high rock; the
raven above it, eating the flesh of a stretched-out reptile; a sacrifice
offered up by a person, who has issued forth from the ship, upon an
altar, whose smoke goes up in a cloud, in which a bow is set.

In this grouping of pictures we have two characteristic features of the
Priestly narrative, in the ship grounded on a rock, and in the bow set
in the cloud; we have also two characteristic features of the Jehovistic
narrative, in the smoking altar of sacrifice, and in the carrion bird.
There is therefore manifest connection between the constellation
grouping and _both_ the narratives given in Genesis.

But the constellational picture story is the only one of all these
narratives that we can date. It must have been designed--as we have
seen--about 2700 B.C.

The question again comes up for answer. Were the Genesis and Babylonian
narratives, any or all of them, derived from the pictured story in the
constellations; or, on the other hand, was this derived from any or all
of them?

The constellations were mapped out near the north latitude of 40°, far
to the north of Babylonia, so the pictured story cannot have come from
thence. We do not know where the Genesis narratives were written, but if
the Flood of the constellations was pictured from them, then they must
have been already united into the account that is now presented to us in
Genesis, very early in the third millennium before Christ.

Could the account in Genesis have been derived from the constellations?
If it is a double account, most decidedly not; since the pictured story
in the constellations is one, and presents impartially the
characteristic features of _both_ the narratives.

And (as in comparing the Genesis and the Babylonian narratives) we see
that though the main circumstances are the same--in so far as they lend
themselves to pictorial representations--the details, the presentment,
the attitude are different. In the Genesis narrative, the bow set in the
cloud is a rainbow in a cloud of rain; in the constellation picture, the
bow set in the cloud is the bow of an archer, and the cloud is the
pillar of smoke from off the altar of sacrifice. In the narratives of
Genesis and Babylonia, Noah and Pir-napistim are men: no hint is given
anywhere that by their physical form or constitution they were marked
off from other men; in the storied picture, he who issues from the ship
is a centaur: his upper part is the head and body of a man, his lower
part is the body of a horse.

As before, there is no doubt that we can best explain the agreement in
circumstance of all the narratives by presuming that they are
independent accounts of the same historical occurrence. We can, at the
same time, explain the differences in style and detail between the
narratives by presuming that the originals were by men of different
qualities of mind who each wrote as the occurrence most appealed to him.
The Babylonian narrator laid hold of the promise that, though beast, or
famine, or pestilence might diminish men, a flood should not again sweep
away every living thing, and connected the promise with the signets--the
lapis necklace of the goddess Sîrtu that she touched as a remembrancer.
The picturer of the constellations saw the pledge in the smoke of the
sacrifice, in the spirit of the words of the Lord as given by Asaph,
"Gather My saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with
Me by sacrifice." The writer in Genesis saw the promise in the
rain-cloud, for the rainbow can only appear with the shining of the sun.
The writer in Genesis saw in Noah a righteous man, worthy to escape the
flood of desolation that swept away the wickedness around; there is no
explanation apparent, at least on the surface, as to why the designer of
the constellations made him, who issued from the ship and offered the
sacrifice, a centaur--one who partook of two natures.

The comparison of the Deluge narratives from Genesis, from the
constellations, and from Babylonia, presents a clear issue. If all the
accounts are independent, and if there are two accounts intermingled
into one in Genesis, then the chief facts presented in both parts of
that dual narrative must have been so intermingled at an earlier date
than 2700 B.C. The editor who first united the two stories into one must
have done his work before that date.

But if the accounts are not independent histories, and the narrative as
we have it in Genesis is derived either in whole or in part from
Babylonia or from the constellations--if, in short, the Genesis story
came from a Babylonian or a stellar myth--then we cannot escape from
this conclusion: that the narrative in Genesis is not, and never has
been, two separable portions; that the scholars who have so divided it
have been entirely in error. But we cannot so lightly put on one side
the whole of the results which the learning and research of so many
scholars have given us in the last century-and-a-half. We must therefore
unhesitatingly reject the theory that the Genesis Deluge story owes
anything either to star myth or to Babylonian mythology. And if the
Genesis Deluge story is not so derived, certainly no other portion of
Holy Scripture.


[171:1] _Babel and Bible_, Johns' translation, pp. 42-46.

[176:1] T. G. Pinches, _The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical
Records of Assyria and Babylonia_, pp. 102-107.



The earliest reference in Scripture to the constellations of the zodiac
occurs in the course of the history of Joseph. In relating his second
dream to his brethren he said--

     "Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and
     the moon, and the eleven stars made obeisance to me."

The word "_Kochab_" in the Hebrew means both "star" and "constellation."
The significance, therefore, of the reference to the "eleven stars" is
clear. Just as Joseph's eleven brethren were eleven out of the twelve
sons of Jacob, so Joseph saw eleven constellations out of the twelve
come and bow down to him. And the twelve constellations can only mean
the twelve of the zodiac.

There can be no reasonable doubt that the zodiac in question was
practically the same as we have now, the one transmitted to us through
Aratus and Ptolemy. It had been designed quite a thousand years earlier
than the days of Joseph; it was known in Mesopotamia from whence his
ancestors had come; it was known in Egypt; that is to say it was known
on both sides of Canaan. There have been other zodiacs: thus the
Chinese have one of their own: but we have no evidence of any zodiac,
except the one transmitted to us by the Greeks, as having been at any
time adopted in Canaan or the neighbouring countries.

There is no need to suppose that each of the brethren had a zodiacal
figure already assigned to him as a kind of armorial bearing or device.
The dream was appropriate, and perfectly intelligible to Jacob, to
Joseph, and his brethren, without supposing that any such arrangement
had then been made. It is quite true that there are Jewish traditions
assigning a constellation to each of the tribes of Israel, but it does
not appear that any such traditions can be distinctly traced to a great
antiquity, and they are mostly somewhat indefinite. Josephus, for
instance, makes a vague assertion about the twelve precious stones of
the High Priest's breast-plate, each of which bore the name of one of
the tribes, connecting them with the signs of the zodiac:--

     "Now the names of all those sons of Jacob were engraven in
     these stones, whom we esteem the heads of our tribes, each
     stone having the honour of a name, in the order according to
     which they were born. . . . And for the twelve stones whether
     we understand by them the months, or whether we understand the
     like number of the signs of that circle which the Greeks call
     the Zodiac, we shall not be mistaken in their meaning."[187:1]

But whilst there is no sufficient evidence that each of the sons of
Jacob had a zodiacal figure for his coat-of-arms, nor even that the
tribes deriving their names from them were so furnished, there is
strong and harmonious tradition as to the character of the devices borne
on the standards carried by the four divisions of the host in the march
through the wilderness. The four divisions, or camps, each contained
three tribes, and were known by the name of the principal tribe in each.
The camp of Judah was on the east, and the division of Judah led on the
march. The camp of Reuben was on the south. The camp of Ephraim was on
the west. The camp of Dan was on the north, and the division of Dan
brought up the rear. And the traditional devices shown on the four
standards were these:--For Judah, a lion; for Reuben, a man and a river;
for Ephraim, a bull; for Dan, an eagle and a serpent.

In these four standards we cannot fail to see again the four cherubic
forms of lion, man, ox and eagle; but in two cases an addition was made
to the cherubic form, an addition recalling the constellation figure.
For just as the crest of Reuben was not a man only, but a man and a
river, so Aquarius is not a man only, but a man pouring out a stream of
water. And as the crest of Dan was not an eagle only, but an eagle and a
serpent, so the great group of constellations, clustering round the
autumnal equinox, included not only the Eagle, but also the Scorpion and
the Serpent (_see_ diagram, p. 189).

There appears to be an obvious connection between these devices and the
blessings pronounced by Jacob upon his sons, and by Moses upon the
tribes; indeed, it would seem probable that it was the former that
largely determined the choice of the devices adopted by the four great
divisions of the host in the wilderness.

The blessing pronounced by Jacob on Judah runs, "Judah is a lion's
whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he
couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?" "The
Lion of the tribe of Judah" is the title given to our Lord Himself in
the Apocalypse of St. John.


The blessing pronounced upon Joseph by Moses bears as emphatic a
reference to the bull. "The firstling of his bullock, majesty is his;
and his horns are the horns of the wild-ox."

Jacob's blessing upon Joseph does not show any reference to the ox or
bull in our Authorized Version. But in our Revised Version Jacob says of
Simeon and Levi--

     "In their anger they slew a man,
      And in their self-will they houghed an ox."

The first line appears to refer to the massacre of the Shechemites; the
second is interpreted by the Jerusalem Targum, "In their wilfulness they
sold Joseph their brother, who is likened to an ox." And in the blessing
of Joseph it is said that his "branches (_margin_, daughters), run over
the wall." Some translators have rendered this, "The daughters walk upon
the bull," "wall" and "bull" being only distinguishable in the original
by a slight difference in the pointing.

Of Reuben, his father said, "Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel;"
and of Dan, "Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path,
that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward."

These two last prophecies supply the "water" and the "serpent," which,
added to the "man" and "eagle" of the cherubic forms, are needed to
complete the traditional standards, and are needed also to make them
conform more closely to the constellation figures.

No such correspondence can be traced between the eight remaining tribes
and the eight remaining constellations. Different writers combine them
in different ways, and the allusions to constellation figures in the
blessings of those tribes are in most cases very doubtful and obscure,
even if it can be supposed that any such allusions are present at all.
The connection cannot be pushed safely beyond the four chief tribes, and
the four cherubic forms as represented in the constellations of the four
quarters of the sky.

These four standards, or rather, three of them, meet us again in a very
interesting connection. When Israel reached the borders of Moab, Balak,
the king of Moab, sent for a seer of great reputation, Balaam, the son
of Beor, to "Come, curse me Jacob, and come, defy Israel." Balaam came,
but instead of cursing Jacob, blessed the people in four prophecies,
wherein he made, what would appear to be, distinct references to the
standards of Judah, Joseph and Reuben.

     "Behold the people riseth up as a lioness,
      And as a lion doth he lift himself up."

Then again--

     "He couched, he lay down as a lion,
      And as a lioness; who shall rouse him up?"

And in two passages--

     "God bringeth him forth out of Egypt;
      He hath as it were the strength of the wild ox."

The wild ox and lion are obvious similes to use concerning a powerful
and warlike people. These two similes are, therefore, not sufficient by
themselves to prove that the tribal standards are being referred to. But
the otherwise enigmatical verse--

     "Water shall flow from his buckets,"

appears more expressly as an allusion to the standard of Reuben, the
"man with the river," Aquarius pouring water from his pitcher; and if
one be a reference to a standard, the others may also well be.


It is surely something more than coincidence that Joseph, who by his
father's favour and his own merit was made the leader of the twelve
brethren, should be associated with the bull or wild ox, seeing that
Taurus was the leader of the zodiac in those ages. It may also well be
more than coincidence, that when Moses was in the mount and "the people
gathered themselves unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods,
which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us
up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him," Aaron
fashioned the golden earrings given him into the form of a molten calf;
into the similitude, that is to say, of Taurus, then Prince of the
Zodiac. If we turn to St. Stephen's reference to this occurrence, we
find that he says--

     "And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice
     unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.
     Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of

In other words, their worship of the golden calf was star worship.

It has been often pointed out that this sin of the Israelites, deep as
it was, was not in itself a breach of the first commandment--

     "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."

It was a breach of the second--

     "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any
     likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in
     the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
     thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them."

The Israelites did not conceive that they were abandoning the worship of
Jehovah; they still considered themselves as worshipping the one true
God. They were monotheists still, not polytheists. But they had taken
the first false step that inevitably leads to polytheism; they had
forgotten that they had seen "no manner of similitude on the day that
the Lord spake unto" them "in Horeb out of the midst of the fire," and
they had worshipped this golden calf as the similitude of God; they had
"changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass."
And that was treason against Him; therefore St. Stephen said, "God
turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven;" the one sin
inevitably led to the other, indeed, involved it. In a later day, when
Jeroboam, who had been appointed by Solomon ruler over all the charge of
the house of Joseph, led the rebellion of the ten tribes against
Rehoboam, king of Judah, he set up golden calves at Dan and Bethel, and
said unto his people, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem:
behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of
Egypt." There can be little doubt that, in this case, Jeroboam was not
so much recalling the transgression in the wilderness--it was not an
encouraging precedent--as he was adopting the well-known cognizance of
the tribe of Joseph, that is to say, of the two tribes of Ephraim and
Manasseh, which together made up the more important part of his kingdom,
as the symbol of the presence of Jehovah.

The southern kingdom would naturally adopt the device of its predominant
tribe, Judah, and it was as the undoubted cognizance of the kingdom of
Judah that our Richard I., the Crusader, placed the Lion on his shield.

More definitely still, we find this one of the cherubic forms applied
to set forth Christ Himself, as "The Root of David," Prince of the house
of Judah--

     "Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David,
     hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals


[187:1] Josephus, _Antiquities of the Jews_, III. vii. 5-7.



There are amongst the constellations four great draconic or serpent-like
forms. Chief of these is the great dragon coiled round the pole of the
ecliptic and the pole of the equator as the latter was observed some
4600 years ago. This is the dragon with which the Kneeler, _Hercules_,
is fighting, and whose head he presses down with his foot. The second is
the great watersnake, _Hydra_, which 4600 years ago stretched for 105°
along the celestial equator of that day. Its head was directed towards
the ascending node, that is to say the point where the ecliptic, the
sun's apparent path, crosses the equator at the spring equinox; and its
tail stretched nearly to the descending node, the point where the
ecliptic again meets the equator at the autumn equinox. The third was
the Serpent, the one held in the grip of the Serpent-holder. Its head
erected itself just above the autumn equinox, and reached up as far as
the zenith; its tail lay along the equator. The fourth of these draconic
forms was the great Sea-monster, stretched out along the horizon, with a
double river--_Eridanus_--proceeding from it, just below the spring

[Illustration: HERCULES AND DRACO.]

None of these four figures was suggested by the natural grouping of the
stars. Very few of the constellation-figures were so suggested, and
these four in particular, as so high an authority as Prof. Schiaparelli
expressly points out, were not amongst that few. Their positions show
that they were designed some 4600 years ago, and that they have not been
materially altered down to the present time. Though no forms or
semblances of forms are there in the heavens, yet we still seem to see,
as we look upwards, not merely the stars themselves, but the same snakes
and dragons, first imagined so many ages ago as coiling amongst them.

The tradition of these serpentine forms and of their peculiar placing in
the heavens was current among the Babylonians quite 1500 years after the
constellations were devised. For the little "boundary stones" often
display, amongst many other astronomical symbols, the coiled dragon
round the top of the stone, the extended snake at its base (_see_ p.
318), and at one or other corner the serpent bent into a right angle
like that borne by the Serpent-holder--that is to say, the three out of
the four serpentine forms that hold astronomically important positions
in the sky.

The positions held by these three serpents or dragons have given rise to
a significant set of astronomical terms. The Dragon marked the poles of
both ecliptic and equator; the Watersnake marked the equator almost from
node to node; the Serpent marked the equator at one of the nodes. The
"Dragon's Head" and the "Dragon's Tail" therefore have been taken as
astronomical symbols of the ascending and descending nodes of the sun's
apparent path--the points where he seems to ascend above the equator in
the spring, and to descend below it again in the autumn.

The moon's orbit likewise intersects the apparent path of the sun in two
points, its two nodes; and the interval of time between its passage
through one of these nodes and its return to that same node again is
called a Draconic month, a month of the Dragon. The same symbols are
applied by analogy to the moon's nodes.

  Indeed the "Dragon's Head," ☊, is the general sign for the ascending
  node of any orbit, whether of moon, planet or comet, and the "Dragon's
  Tail," ☋, for the descending node. We not only use these signs in
  astronomical works to-day, but the latter sign frequently occurs,
  figured exactly as we figure it now, on Babylonian boundary stones
  3000 years old.

But an eclipse either of the sun or of the moon can only take place when
the latter is near one of its two nodes--is in the "Dragon's Head" or in
the "Dragon's Tail." This relation might be briefly expressed by saying
that the Dragon--that is of the nodes--causes the eclipse. Hence the
numerous myths, found in so many nations, which relate how "a dragon
devours the sun (or moon)" at the time of an eclipse.


The dragon of eclipse finds its way into Hindoo mythology in a form
which shows clearly that the myth arose from a misunderstanding of the
constellations. The equatorial Water-snake, stretching from one node
nearly to the other, has resting upon it, _Crater_, the Cup. Combining
this with the expression for the two nodes, the Hindu myth has taken
the following form. The gods churned the surface of the sea to make the
Amrita Cup, the cup of the water of life. "And while the gods were
drinking that nectar after which they had so much hankered, a Danava,
named Rahu, was drinking it in the guise of a god. And when the nectar
had only reached Rahu's throat, the sun and the moon discovered him, and
communicated the fact to the gods." Rahu's head was at once cut off,
but, as the nectar had reached thus far, it was immortal, and rose to
the sky. "From that time hath arisen a long-standing quarrel between
Rahu's head and the sun and moon," and the head swallows them from time
to time, causing eclipses. Rahu's head marks the ascending, Ketu, the
tail, the descending node.

This myth is very instructive. Before it could have arisen, not only
must the constellations have been mapped out, and the equator and
ecliptic both recognized, but the inclination of the moon's orbit to
that of the sun must also have been recognized, together with the fact
that it was only when the moon was near its node that the eclipses,
either of the sun or moon, could take place. In other words, the cause
of eclipses must have been at one time understood, but that knowledge
must have been afterwards lost. We have seen already, in the chapter on
"The Deep," that the Hebrew idea of _tehōm_ could not possibly have
been derived from the Babylonian myth of _Tiamat_, since the knowledge
of the natural object must precede the myth founded upon it. If,
therefore, Gen. i. and the Babylonian story of Creation be connected,
the one as original, the other as derived from that original, it is the
Babylonian story that has been borrowed from the Hebrew, and it has
been degraded in the borrowing.

So in this case, the myth of the Dragon, whose head and tail cause
eclipses, must have been derived from a corruption and misunderstanding
of a very early astronomical achievement. The myth is evidence of
knowledge lost, of science on the down-grade.

Some may object that the myth may have brought about the conception of
the draconic constellations. A very little reflection will show that
such a thing was impossible. If the superstition that an eclipse is
caused by an invisible dragon swallowing the sun or moon had really been
the origin of the constellational dragons, they would certainly have all
been put in the zodiac, the only region of the sky where sun or moon can
be found; not outside it, where neither can ever come, and in
consequence where no eclipse can take place. Nor could such a
superstition have led on to the discoveries above-mentioned: that the
moon caused eclipses of the sun, the earth those of the moon; that the
moon's orbit was inclined to the ecliptic, and that eclipses took place
only near the nodes. The idea of an unseen spiritual agent being at work
would prevent any search for a physical explanation, since polytheism is
necessarily opposed to science.

There is a word used in Scripture to denote a reptilian monster, which
appears in one instance at least to refer to this dragon of eclipse, and
so to be used in an astronomical sense. Job, in his first outburst of
grief cursed the day in which he was born, and cried--

     "Let them curse it that curse the day,
      Who are ready (_margin_, skilful) to rouse up Leviathan.
      Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark
      Let it look for light, but have none;
      Neither let it behold the eyelids of the morning."

"_Leviathan_" denotes an animal wreathed, gathering itself in coils:
hence a serpent, or some great reptile. The description in Job xli. is
evidently that of a mighty crocodile, though in Psalm civ. leviathan is
said to play in "the great and wide sea," which has raised a difficulty
as to its identification in the minds of some commentators. In the
present passage it is supposed to mean one of the stellar dragons, and
hence the mythical dragon of eclipse. Job desired that the day of his
birth should have been cursed by the magicians, so that it had been a
day of complete and entire eclipse, not even the stars that preceded its
dawn being allowed to shine.

The astronomical use of the word _leviathan_ here renders it possible
that there may be in Isa. xxvii. an allusion--quite secondary and
indirect however--to the chief stellar dragons.

     "In that day the Lord with His sore and great and strong sword
     shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan
     that crooked serpent; and He shall slay the dragon that is in
     the sea."

The marginal reading gives us instead of "piercing," "crossing like a
bar"; a most descriptive epithet for the long-drawn-out constellation of
_Hydra_, the Water-snake, which stretched itself for one hundred and
five degrees along the primitive equator, and "crossed" the meridian
"like a bar" for seven hours out of every twenty-four. "The crooked
serpent" would denote the dragon coiled around the poles, whilst "the
dragon which is in the sea" would naturally refer to _Cetus_, the
Sea-monster. The prophecy would mean then, that "in that day" the Lord
will destroy all the powers of evil which have, as it were, laid hold of
the chief places, even in the heavens.

In one passage "the crooked serpent," here used as a synonym of
_leviathan_, distinctly points to the dragon of the constellations. In
Job's last answer to Bildad the Shuhite, he says--

     "He divideth the sea with His power,
      And by His understanding He smiteth through the proud. (R.V.
      By His spirit He hath garnished the heavens;
      His hand hath formed the crooked serpent."

The passage gives a good example of the parallelism of Hebrew poetry;
the repetition of the several terms of a statement, term by term, in a
slightly modified sense; a rhyme, if the expression may be used, not of
sound, but of signification.

Thus in the four verses just quoted, we have three terms in each--agent,
action, object;--each appears in the first statement, each appears
likewise in the second. The third statement, in like manner, has its
three terms repeated in a varied form in the fourth.


     His power  = His understanding.
     Divideth   = Smiteth through.
     The sea    = _Rahab_ (the proud).


     His spirit      = His hand.
     Hath garnished  = Hath formed.
     The heavens     = The crooked serpent.

There can be no doubt as to the significance of the two parallels. In
the first, dividing the sea, _i. e._ the Red Sea, is the correlative of
smiting through _Rahab_, "the proud one," the name often applied to
Egypt, as in Isa. xxx. 7: "For Egypt helpeth in vain, and to no purpose:
therefore have I called her Rahab that sitteth still." In the second,
"adorning the heavens" is the correlative of "forming the crooked
serpent." The great constellation of the writhing dragon, emphatically a
"crooked serpent," placed at the very crown of the heavens, is set for
all the constellations of the sky.

There are several references to _Rahab_, as "the dragon which is in the
sea," all clearly referring to the kingdom of Egypt, personified as one
of her own crocodiles lying-in-wait in her own river, the Nile, or
transferred, by a figure of speech, to the Red Sea, which formed her
eastern border. Thus in chapter li. Isaiah apostrophizes "the arm of the

     "Art Thou not It that cut Rahab in pieces,
        That pierced the dragon?
      Art Thou not It that dried up the sea,
        The waters of the great deep;
      That made the depths of the sea a way for the redeemed to pass

And in Psalm lxxxix. we have--

     "Thou rulest the raging of the sea;
        When the waves thereof arise Thou stillest them.
      Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces as one that is slain,
        Thou hast scattered Thine enemies with Thy strong arm."

So the prophet Ezekiel is directed--

     "Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh, king of Egypt,
     and say unto him, thou wast likened unto a young lion of the
     nations: yet art thou as a dragon in the seas."

In all these passages it is only in an indirect and secondary sense that
we can see any constellational references in the various descriptions of
"the dragon that is in the sea." It is the crocodile of Egypt that is
intended; Egypt the great oppressor of Israel, and one of the great
powers of evil, standing as a representative of them all. The serpent or
dragon forms in the constellations also represented the powers of evil;
especially the great enemy of God and man, "the dragon, that old
serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan." So there is some amount of
appropriateness to the watery dragons of the sky--_Hydra_ and
_Cetus_--in these descriptions of _Rahab_, the dragon of Egypt, without
there being any direct reference. Thus it is said of the Egyptian
"dragon in the seas," "I have given thee for meat to the beasts of the
earth, and to the fowls of the heaven;" and again, "I will cause all the
fowls of the heaven to settle upon thee," just as _Corvus_, the Raven,
is shown as having settled upon _Hydra_, the Water-snake, and is
devouring its flesh. Again, Pharaoh, the Egyptian dragon, says, "My
river is mine own, and I have made it for myself;" just as _Cetus_, the
Sea-monster, is represented as pouring forth _Eridanus_, the river, from
its mouth.

[Illustration: ANDROMEDA AND CETUS.]

But a clear and direct allusion to this last grouping of the
constellations occurs in the Apocalypse. In the twelfth chapter, the
proud oppressor dragon from the sea is shown us again with much fulness
of detail. There the Apostle describes his vision of a woman, who
evidently represents the people of God, being persecuted by a dragon.
There is still a reminiscence of the deliverance of Israel in the Exodus
from Egypt, for "the woman _fled into the wilderness_, where she hath a
place prepared of God, that there they may nourish her a thousand two
hundred and threescore days." And the vision goes on:--

     "And the serpent cast out of his mouth, after the woman water
     as a river, that he might cause her to be carried away by the
     stream. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened
     her mouth, and swallowed up the river which the dragon cast
     out of his mouth."

This appears to be precisely the action which is presented to us in the
three constellations of _Andromeda_, _Cetus_, and _Eridanus_. Andromeda
is always shown as a woman in distress, and the Sea-monster, though
placed far from her in the sky, has always been understood to be her
persecutor. Thus Aratus writes--

     "Andromeda, though far away she flies,
      Dreads the Sea-monster, low in southern skies."

The latter, baffled in his pursuit of his victim, has cast the river,
_Eridanus_, out of his mouth, which, flowing down below the southern
horizon, is apparently swallowed up by the earth.

It need occasion no surprise that we should find imagery used by St.
John in his prophecy already set forth in the constellations nearly
3,000 years before he wrote. Just as, in this same book, St. John
repeated Daniel's vision of the fourth beast, and Ezekiel's vision of
the living creatures, as he used the well-known details of the Jewish
Temple, the candlesticks, the laver, the altar of incense, so he used a
group of stellar figures perfectly well known at the time when he wrote.
In so doing the beloved disciple only followed the example which his
Master had already set him. For the imagery in the parables of our Lord
is always drawn from scenes and objects known and familiar to all men.

In two instances in which _leviathan_ is mentioned, a further expression
is used which has a distinct astronomical bearing. In the passage
already quoted, where Job curses the day of his birth, he desires that
it may not "behold the eyelids of the morning." And in the grand
description of _leviathan_, the crocodile, in chapter xli., we have--

     "His neesings flash forth light,
      And his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning."

Canon Driver considers this as an "allusion, probably to the reddish
eyes of the crocodile, which are said to appear gleaming through the
water before the head comes to the surface." This is because of the
position of the eyes on the animal's head, not because they have any
peculiar brilliancy.

     "It is an idea exclusively Egyptian, and is another link in
     the chain of evidence which connects the author of the poem
     with Egypt. The crocodile's head is so formed that its highest
     points are the eyes; and when it rises obliquely to the
     surface the eyes are the first part of the whole animal to
     emerge. The Egyptians observing this, compared it to the sun
     rising out of the sea, and made it the hieroglyphic
     representative of the idea of sunrise. Thus Horus Apollo says:
     When the Egyptians represent the sunrise, they paint the eye
     of the crocodile, because it is first seen as that animal
     emerges from the water."[209:1]

In this likening of the eyes of the crocodile to the eyelids of the
morning, we have the comparison of one natural object with another. Such
comparison, when used in one way and for one purpose, is the essence of
poetry; when used in another way and for another purpose, is the essence
of science. Both poetry and science are opposed to myth, which is the
confusion of natural with imaginary objects, the mistaking the one for
the other.

Thus it is poetry when the Psalmist speaks of the sun "as a bridegroom
coming out of his chamber"; for there is no confusion in his thought
between the two natural objects. The sun is like the bridegroom in the
glory of his appearance. The Psalmist does not ascribe to him a bride
and children.

It is science when the astronomer compares the spectrum of the sun with
the spectra of various metals in the laboratory. He is comparing natural
object with natural object, and is enabled to draw conclusions as to the
elements composing the sun, and the condition in which they there exist.

But it is myth when the Babylonian represents Bel or Merodach as the
solar deity, destroying Tiamat, the dragon of darkness, for there is
confusion in the thought. The imaginary god is sometimes given solar,
sometimes human, sometimes superhuman characteristics. There is no
actuality in much of what is asserted as to the sun or as to the wholly
imaginary being associated with it. The mocking words of Elijah to the
priests of Baal were justified by the intellectual confusion of their
ideas, as well as by the spiritual degradation of their idolatry.

     "Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is
     pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth,
     and must be awakened."

Such nature-myths are not indications of the healthy mental development
of a primitive people; they are the clear signs of a pathological
condition, the symptoms of intellectual disease.

It is well to bear in mind this distinction, this opposition between
poetry and myth, for ignoring it has led to not a little misconception
as to the occurrence of myth in Scripture, especially in connection with
the names associated with the crocodile. Thus it has been broadly
asserted that "the original mythical signification of the monsters
_tehôm_, _livyāthān_, _tannim_, _rahâb_, is unmistakably evident."

Of these names the first signifies the world of waters; the second and
third real aquatic animals; and the last, "the proud one," is simply an
epithet of Egypt, applied to the crocodile as the representation of the
kingdom. There is no more myth in setting forth Egypt by the crocodile
or leviathan than in setting forth Great Britain by the lion, or Russia
by the bear.

The Hebrews in setting forth their enemies by crocodile and other
ferocious reptiles were not describing any imaginary monsters of the
primæval chaos, but real oppressors. The Egyptian, with his "house of
bondage," the Assyrian, "which smote with a rod," the Chaldean who made
havoc of Israel altogether, were not dreams. And in beseeching God to
deliver them from their latest oppressor the Hebrews naturally recalled,
not some idle tale of the fabulous achievements of Babylonian deities,
but the actual deliverance God had wrought for them at the Red Sea.
There the Egyptian crocodile had been made "meat to the people
inhabiting the wilderness" when the corpses of Pharaoh's bodyguard, cast
up on the shore, supplied the children of Israel with the weapons and
armour of which they stood in need. So in the day of their utter
distress they could still cry in faith and hope--

     "Yet God is my King of old,
      Working salvation in the midst of the earth.
      Thou didst divide the sea by Thy strength:
      Thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters.
      Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces,
      And gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness.
      Thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood:
      Thou driedst up mighty rivers.
      The day is Thine, the night also is Thine:
      Thou hast prepared the light and the sun.
      Thou hast set all the borders of the earth:
      Thou hast made summer and winter."


[209:1] P. H. Gosse, in the _Imperial Bible-Dictionary_.



The translators of the Bible, from time to time, find themselves in a
difficulty as to the correct rendering of certain words in the original.
This is especially the case with the names of plants and animals. Some
sort of clue may be given by the context, as, for instance, if the
region is mentioned in which a certain plant is found, or the use that
is made of it; or, in the case of an animal, whether it is "clean" or
"unclean," what are its habits, and with what other animals it is
associated. But in the case of the few Scripture references to special
groups of stars, we have no such help. We are in the position in which
Macaulay's New Zealander might be, if, long after the English nation had
been dispersed, and its language had ceased to be spoken amongst men, he
were to find a book in which the rivers "Thames," "Trent," "Tyne," and
"Tweed" were mentioned by name, but without the slightest indication of
their locality. His attempt to fit these names to particular rivers
would be little more than a guess--a guess the accuracy of which he
would have no means for testing.

This is somewhat our position with regard to the four Hebrew names,
_Kīmah_, _Kĕsīl_, _‘Ayish_, and _Mazzaroth_; yet in each case there are
some slight indications which have given a clue to the compilers of our
Revised Version, and have, in all probability, guided them correctly.

The constellations are not all equally attractive. A few have drawn the
attention of all men, however otherwise inattentive. North-American
Indians and Australian savages have equally noted the flashing
brilliancy of Orion, and the compact little swarm of the Pleiades. All
northern nations recognize the seven bright stars of the Great Bear, and
they are known by a score of familiar names. They are the "Plough," or
"Charles's Wain" of Northern Europe; the "Seven Plough Oxen" of ancient
Rome; the "Bier and Mourners" of the Arabs; the "Chariot," or "Waggon,"
of the old Chaldeans; the "Big Dipper" of the prosaic New England
farmer. These three groups are just the three which we find mentioned in
the earliest poetry of Greece. So Homer writes, in the Fifth Book of the
_Odyssey_, that Ulysses--

     "There view'd the Pleiads, and the Northern Team,
      And Great Orion's more refulgent beam,
      To which, around the axle of the sky,
      The Bear, revolving, points his golden eye."

It seems natural to conclude that these constellations, the most
striking, or at all events the most universally recognized, would be
those mentioned in the Bible.

The passages in which the Hebrew word _Kīmah_, is used are the

     (God) "maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades (_Kīmah_), and
     the chambers of the south" (Job ix. 9).

     "Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades (_Kīmah_),
     or loose the bands of Orion?" (Job xxxviii. 31).

     "Seek Him that maketh the seven stars (_Kīmah_) and Orion"
     (Amos v. 8).

In our Revised Version, _Kīmah_ is rendered "Pleiades" in all three
instances, and of course the translators of the Authorized Version meant
the same group by the "seven stars" in their free rendering of the
passage from Amos. The word _kīmah_ signifies "a heap," or "a cluster,"
and would seem to be related to the Assyrian word _kimtu_, "family,"
from a root meaning to "tie," or "bind"; a family being a number of
persons bound together by the very closest tie of relationship. If this
be so we can have no doubt that our translators have rightly rendered
the word. There is one cluster in the sky, and one alone, which appeals
to the unaided sight as being distinctly and unmistakably a family of
stars--the Pleiades.

The names _‘Ash_, or _‘Ayish_, _Kĕsīl_, and _Kīmah_ are peculiar to the
Hebrews, and are not, so far as we have any evidence at present, allied
to names in use for any constellation amongst the Babylonians and
Assyrians; they have, as yet, not been found on any cuneiform
inscription. Amos, the herdsman of Tekoa, living in the eighth century
B.C., two centuries before the Jews were carried into exile to Babylon,
evidently knew well what the terms signified, and the writer of the Book
of Job was no less aware of their signification. But the "Seventy," who
translated the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, were not at all clear as
to the identification of these names of constellations; though they made
their translation only two or three centuries after the Jews returned to
Jerusalem under Ezra and Nehemiah, when oral tradition should have still
supplied the meaning of such astronomical terms. Had these names been
then known in Babylon, they could not have been unknown to the learned
men of Alexandria in the second century before our era, since at that
time there was a very direct scientific influence of the one city upon
the other. This Hebrew astronomy was so far from being due to Babylonian
influence and teaching, that, though known centuries before the exile,
after the exile we find the knowledge of its technical terms was lost.
On the other hand, _kīma_ was the term used in all Syriac literature to
denominate the Pleiades, and we accordingly find in the Peschitta, the
ancient Syriac version of the Bible, made about the second century A.D.,
the term _kīma_ retained throughout, but _kesil_ and _‘ayish_ were
reduced to their supposed Syriac equivalents.

Whatever uncertainty was felt as to the meaning of _kīmah_ by the early
translators, it is not now seriously disputed that the Pleiades is the
group of stars in question.

The word _kīmah_ means, as we have seen, "cluster" or "heap," so also
the word _Pleiades_, which we use to-day, is probably derived from the
Greek _Pleiones_, "many." Several Greek poets--Athenæus, Hesiod, Pindar,
and Simonides--wrote the word _Peleiades_, i. e. "rock pigeons,"
considered as flying from the Hunter Orion; others made them the seven
doves who carried ambrosia to the infant Zeus. D'Arcy Thompson says,
"The Pleiad is in many languages associated with bird-names, . . . and I
am inclined to take the bird on the bull's back in coins of Eretria,
Dicæa, and Thurii for the associated constellation of the
Pleiad"[217:1]--the Pleiades being situated on the shoulder of Taurus
the Bull.

The Hyades were situated on the head of the Bull, and in the Euphrates
region these two little groups of stars were termed together,
_Mas-tab-ba-gal-gal-la_, the Great Twins of the ecliptic, as Castor and
Pollux were the Twins of the zodiac. In one tablet _’Îmina bi_, "the
sevenfold one," and _Gut-dûa_, "the Bull-in-front," are mentioned side
by side, thus agreeing well with their interpretation of "Pleiades and
Hyades." The Semitic name for the Pleiades was also _Têmennu_; and these
groups of stars, worshipped as gods by the Babylonians, may possibly
have been the _Gad_ and _Meni_, "that troop," and "that number,"
referred to by the prophet Isaiah (lxv. 11).

On many Babylonian cylinder seals there are engraved seven small discs,
in addition to other astronomical symbols. These seven small stellar
discs are almost invariably arranged in the form :::' or:::· much as we
should now-a-days plot the cluster of the Pleiades when mapping on a
small scale the constellations round the Bull. It is evident that these
seven little stellar discs do not mean the "seven planets," for in many
cases the astronomical symbols which accompany them include both those
of the sun and moon. It is most probable that they signify the Pleiades,
or perhaps alternatively the Hyades.

Possibly, reference is made to the worship of the Pleiades when the
king of Assyria, in the seventh century B.C., brought men from Babylon
and other regions to inhabit the depopulated cities of Samaria, "and the
men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth." The Rabbis are said to have
rendered this by the "booths of the Maidens," or the "tents of the
Daughters,"--the Pleiades being the maidens in question.

Generally they are the Seven Sisters. Hesiod calls them the Seven
Virgins, and the Virgin Stars. The names given to the individual stars
are those of the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione; thus Milton terms
them the Seven Atlantic Sisters.

As we have seen (p. 189), the device associated expressly with Joseph is
the Bull, and Jacob's blessing to his son has been sometimes rendered--

     "Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well;
     _the daughters walk upon the bull_."

That is, "the Seven Sisters," the Pleiades, are on the shoulder of

Aratus wrote of the number of the Pleiades--

     "Seven paths aloft men say they take,
      Yet six alone are viewed by mortal eyes.
      From Zeus' abode no star unknown is lost,
      Since first from birth we heard, but thus the tale is told."

[Illustration: STARS OF THE PLEIADES.]

Euripides speaks of these "seven paths," and Eratosthenes calls them
"the seven-starred Pleiad," although he describes one as
"All-Invisible." There is a surprisingly universal tradition that they
"were seven who now are six." We find it not only in ancient Greece and
Italy, but also among the black fellows of Australia, the Malays of
Borneo, and the negroes of the Gold Coast. There must be some reason to
account for this widespread tradition. Some of the stars are known to be
slightly variable, and one of the fainter stars in the cluster may have
shone more brightly in olden time;--the gaseous spectrum of Pleione
renders it credible that this star may once have had great brilliancy.
Alcyone, now the brightest star in the cluster, was not mentioned by
Ptolemy among the four brightest Pleiads of his day. The six now visible
to ordinary sight are Alcyone, Electra, Atlas, Maia, Merope and Taygeta.
Celoeno is the next in brightness, and the present candidate for the
seventh place. By good sight, several more may be made out: thus
Maestlin, the tutor of Kepler, mapped eleven before the invention of the
telescope, and in our own day Carrington and Denning have counted
fourteen with the naked eye.

In clear mountain atmosphere more than seven would be seen by any
keen-sighted observer. Usually six stars may be made out with the naked
eye in both the Pleiades and the Hyades, or, if more than six, then
several more; though with both groups the number of "seven" has always
been associated.

In the New Testament we find the "Seven Stars" also mentioned. In the
first chapter of the Revelation, the Apostle St. John says that he "saw
seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks
one like unto the Son of Man, . . . and He had in His right hand seven
stars." Later in the same chapter it is explained that "the seven stars
are the angels of the seven churches; and the seven candlesticks which
thou sawest are the seven churches." The seven stars in a single compact
cluster thus stand for the Church in its many diversities and its
essential unity.

This beautiful little constellation has become associated with a foolish
fable. When it was first found that not only did the planets move round
the sun in orbits, but that the sun itself also was travelling rapidly
through space, a German astronomer, Mädler, hazarded the suggestion that
the centre of the sun's motion lay in the Pleiades. It was soon evident
that there was no sufficient ground for this suggestion, and that many
clearly established facts were inconsistent with it. Nevertheless the
idea caught hold of the popular mind, and it has acquired an amazing
vogue. Non-astronomical writers have asserted that Alcyone, the
brightest Pleiad, is the centre of the entire universe; some have even
been sufficiently irreverent to declare that it is the seat of heaven,
the throne of God. A popular London divine, having noticed a bright ring
round Alcyone on a photograph of the group, took that halo, which every
photographer would at once recognize as a mere photographic defect, as a
confirmation of this baseless fancy. Foolishness of this kind has
nothing to support it in science or religion; it is an offence against
both. We have no reason to regard the Pleiades as the centre of the
universe, or as containing the attracting mass which draws our sun
forward in its vast mysterious orbit.

R. H. Allen, in his survey of the literature of the Pleiades, mentions
that "Drach surmised that their midnight culmination in the time of
Moses, ten days after the autumnal equinox, may have fixed the Day of
Atonement on the 10th of Tishri."[221:1] This is worth quoting as a
sample of the unhappy astronomical guesses of commentators. Drach
overlooked that his suggestion necessitated the assumption that in the
time of Moses astronomers had already learned, first, to determine the
actual equinox; next, to observe the culmination of stars on the
meridian rather than their risings and settings; and, third and more
important, to determine midnight by some artificial measurement of time.
None of these can have been primitive operations; we have no knowledge
that any of the three were in use in the time of Moses; certainly they
were not suitable for a people on the march, like the Israelites in the
wilderness. Above all, Drach ignored in this suggestion the fact that
the Jewish calendar was a lunar-solar one, and hence that the tenth day
of the seventh month could not bear any fixed relation either to the
autumnal equinox, or to the midnight culmination of the Pleiades; any
more than our Easter Sunday is fixed to the spring equinox on March 22.

The Pleiades were often associated with the late autumn, as Aratus

     "Men mark them rising with Sol's setting light,
      Forerunners of the winter's gloomy night."

This is what is technically known as the "acronical rising" of the
Pleiades, their rising at sunset; in contrast to their "heliacal
rising," their rising just before daybreak, which ushered in the spring
time. This acronical rising has led to the association of the group with
the rainy season, and with floods. Thus Statius called the cluster
"Pliadum nivosum sidus," and Valerius Flaccus distinctly used the word
"Pliada" for the showers. Josephus says that during the siege of
Jerusalem by Antiochus Epiphanes in 170 B.C., the besieged wanted for
water until relieved "by a large shower of rain which fell at the
setting of the Pleiades." R. H. Allen, in his _Star-Names and their
Meanings_, states that the Pleiades "are intimately connected with
traditions of the flood found among so many and widely separated
nations, and especially in the Deluge-myth of Chaldæa," but he does not
cite authorities or instances.

The Talmud gives a curious legend connecting the Pleiades with the

     "When the Holy One, blessed be He! wished to bring the Deluge
     upon the world, He took two stars out of Pleiades, and thus
     let the Deluge loose. And when He wished to arrest it, He took
     two stars out of Arcturus and stopped it."[223:1]

It would seem from this that the Rabbis connected the number of visible
stars with the number of the family in the Ark--with the "few, that
is, eight souls . . . saved by water," of whom St. Peter speaks. Six
Pleiades only are usually seen by the naked eye; traditionally seven
were seen; but the Rabbis assumed that two, not one, were lost.

Perhaps we may trace a reference to this supposed association of
_Kīmah_ with the Flood in the passage from Amos already quoted:--

     "Seek Him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, . . . that
     calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon
     the face of the earth: the Lord is His name."

Many ancient nations have set apart days in the late autumn in honour of
the dead, no doubt because the year was then considered as dead. This
season being marked by the acronical rising of the Pleiades, that group
has become associated with such observances. There is, however, no
reference to any custom of this kind in Scripture.

What is the meaning of the inquiry addressed to Job by the Almighty?

     "Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades?"

What was the meaning which it possessed in the thought of the writer of
the book? What was the meaning which we should now put on such an
inquiry, looking at the constellations from the standpoint which the
researches of modern astronomy have given us?

The first meaning of the text would appear to be connected with the
apparent movement of the sun amongst the stars in the course of the
year. We cannot see the stars by daylight, or see directly where the sun
is situated with respect to them; but, in very early times, men learnt
to associate the seasons of the year with the stars which were last seen
in the morning, above the place where the sun was about to rise; in the
technical term once in use, with the heliacal risings of stars. When the
constellations were first designed, the Pleiades rose heliacally at the
beginning of April, and were the sign of the return of spring. Thus
Aratus, in his constellation poem writes--

     "Men mark them (_i. e._ the Pleiades) rising with the solar ray,
        The harbinger of summer's brighter day."

They heralded, therefore, the revival of nature from her winter sleep,
the time of which the kingly poet sang so alluringly--

     "For, lo, the winter is past,
        The rain is over and gone;
      The flowers appear on the earth;
        The time of the singing of birds is come,
      And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;
        The fig-tree ripeneth her green figs,
      And the vines are in blossom,
        They give forth their fragrance."

The constellation which thus heralded the return of this genial season
was poetically taken as representing the power and influence of spring.
Their "sweet influences" were those that had rolled away the gravestone
of snow and ice which had lain upon the winter tomb of nature. Theirs
was the power that brought the flowers up from under the turf; earth's
constellations of a million varied stars to shine upwards in answer to
the constellations of heaven above. Their influences filled copse and
wood with the songs of happy birds. Theirs stirred anew the sap in the
veins of the trees, and drew forth their reawakened strength in bud and
blossom. Theirs was the bleating of the new-born lambs; theirs the
murmur of the reviving bees.

Upon this view, then, the question to Job was, in effect, "What control
hast thou over the powers of nature? Canst thou hold back the sun from
shining in spring-time--from quickening flower, and herb, and tree with
its gracious warmth? This is God's work, year by year over a thousand
lands, on a million hills, in a million valleys. What canst thou do to
hinder it?"

The question was a striking one; one which must have appealed to the
patriarch, evidently a keen observer and lover of nature; and it was
entirely in line with the other inquiries addressed to him in the same

     "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?"

The Revised Version renders the question--

     "Canst thou bind the _cluster_ of the Pleiades?"

reading the Hebrew word _Ma‘anaddoth_, instead of _Ma’adannoth_,
following in this all the most ancient versions. On this view, Job is,
in effect, asked, "Canst thou gather together the stars in the family of
the Pleiades and keep them in their places?"

The expression of a chain or band is one suggested by the appearance of
the group to the eye, but it is no less appropriate in the knowledge
which photography and great telescopes have given us. To quote from Miss
Clerke's description of the nebula discovered round the brighter stars
of the Pleiades--Alcyone, Asterope, Celœno, Electra, Maia, Merope and

     "Besides the Maia vortex, the Paris photographs depicted a
     series of nebulous bars on either side of Merope, and a
     curious streak extending like a finger-post from Electra
     towards Alcyone . . . Streamers and fleecy masses of cosmical
     fog seem almost to fill the spaces between the stars, as
     clouds choke a mountain valley. The chief points of its
     concentration are the four stars Alcyone, Merope, Maia, and
     Electra; but it includes as well Celœno and Taygeta, and is
     traceable southward from Asterope over an arc of 1° 10´. . . .
     The greater part of the constellation is shown as veiled in
     nebulous matter of most unequal densities. In some places it
     lies in heavy folds and wreaths, in others it barely qualifies
     the darkness of the sky-ground. The details of its
     distribution come out with remarkable clearness, and are
     evidently to a large extent prescribed by the relative
     situations of the stars. Their lines of junction are
     frequently marked by nebulous rays, establishing between them,
     no doubt, relations of great physical importance; and masses
     of nebula, in numerous instances, seem as if _pulled out of
     shape_ and drawn into festoons by the attractions of
     neighbouring stars. But the strangest exemplification of
     this filamentous tendency is in a fine, thread-like process,
     3´´ or 4´´ wide, but 35´ to 40´ long, issuing in an easterly
     direction from the edge of the nebula about Maia, and
     stringing together seven stars, met in its advance, like beads
     on a rosary. The largest of these is apparently the occasion
     of a slight deviation from its otherwise rectilinear course. A
     second similar but shorter streak runs, likewise east and
     west, through the midst of the formation."[229:1]


Photographed by Dr. Max Wolf, Heidelberg.]

Later photographs have shown that not only are the several stars of the
Pleiades linked together by nebulous filaments, but the whole cluster is
embedded in a nebulous net that spreads its meshes far out into space.
Not only is the group thus tied or bound together by nebulous clouds, it
has other tokens of forming but a single family. The movements of the
several stars have been carefully measured, and for the most part the
entire cluster is drifting in the same direction; a few stars do not
share in the common motion, and are probably apparent members, seen in
perspective projected on the group, but in reality much nearer to us.
The members of the group also show a family likeness in constitution.
When the spectroscope is turned upon it, the chief stars are seen to
closely resemble each other; the principal lines in their spectra being
those of hydrogen, and these are seen as broad and diffused bands, so
that the spectrum we see resembles that of the brightest star of the
heavens, Sirius.

There can be little doubt but that the leaders of the group are actually
greater, brighter suns than Sirius itself. We do not know the exact
distance of the Pleiades, they are so far off that we can scarcely do
more than make a guess at it; but it is probable that they are so far
distant that our sun at like distance would prove much too faint to be
seen at all by the naked eye. The Pleiades then would seem to be a most
glorious star-system, not yet come to its full growth. From the
standpoint of modern science we may interpret the "chain" or "the sweet
influences" of the Pleiades as consisting in the enfolding wisps of
nebulosity which still, as it were, knit together those vast young suns;
or, and in all probability more truly, as that mysterious force of
gravitation which holds the mighty system together, and in obedience to
which the group has taken its present shape. The question, if asked us
to-day, would be, in effect, "Canst thou bind together by nebulous
chains scores of suns, far more glorious than thine own, and scattered
over many millions of millions of miles of space; or canst thou loosen
the attraction which those suns exercise upon each other, and move them
hither and thither at thy will?"


[217:1] _Glossary of Greek Birds_, pp. 28, 29.

[221:1] R. H. Allen, _Star Names and their Meanings_, p. 401.

[223:1] _Berachoth_, fol. 59, col. 1.

[229:1] _The System of the Stars_, 1st edit., pp. 230-232.



_Kĕsīl_, the word rendered by our translators "Orion," occurs in an
astronomical sense four times in the Scriptures; twice in the Book of
Job, once in the prophecy of Amos, and once, in the plural, in the
prophecy of Isaiah. In the three first cases the word is used in
conjunction with _Kīmah_, "the Pleiades," as shown in the preceding
chapter. The fourth instance is rendered in the Authorized Version--

     "For the stars of heaven and the constellations
     (_Kĕsīlim_) thereof shall not give their light."

The Hebrew word _Kĕsīl_ signifies "a fool," and that in the general
sense of the term as used in Scripture; not merely a silly, untaught,
feckless person, but a godless and an impious one. Thus, in the Book of
Proverbs, Divine Wisdom is represented as appealing--

     "How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? the
     scorners delight in their scorning, and _fools_ hate

[Illustration: THE STARS OF ORION.]

What constellation was known to the ancient Hebrews as "the fool"? The
Seventy who rendered the Old Testament into Greek confess themselves at
fault. Once, in Amos, both _Kīmah_ and _Kĕsīl_ are left
untranslated. Instead of "Him that maketh the seven stars and Orion," we
have the paraphrase, "That maketh and transformeth all things." Once, in
Job, it is rendered "Hesperus," the evening star; and in the other two
instances it is given as "Orion." The tradition of the real meaning of
the word as an astronomical term had been lost, or at least much
confused before the Septuagint Version was undertaken. The Jews had
not, so far as there is any present evidence, learned the term in
Babylon, for the word has not yet been found as a star-name on any
cuneiform inscription. It was well known before the Exile, for Amos and
Isaiah both use it, and the fact that the author of Job also uses it,
indicates that he did not gain his knowledge of the constellation during
the Babylonian captivity.

The majority of translators and commentators have, however, agreed in
believing that the brightest and most splendid constellation in the sky
is intended--the one which we know as Orion. This constellation is one
of the very few in which the natural grouping of the stars seems to
suggest the figure that has been connected with it. Four bright stars,
in a great trapezium, are taken to mark the two shoulders and the two
legs of a gigantic warrior; a row of three bright stars, midway between
the four first named, suggest his gemmed belt; another row of stars
straight down from the centre star of the belt, presents his sword; a
compact cluster of three stars marks his head. A gigantic warrior, armed
for the battle, seems thus to be outlined in the heavens. As Longfellow
describes him--

     "Begirt with many a blazing star,
      Stood the great giant, Algebar,
      Orion, hunter of the beast!
      His sword hung gleaming by his side,
      And, on his arm, the lion's hide
      Scattered across the midnight air
      The golden radiance of its hair."

In accord with the form naturally suggested by the grouping of the
stars, the Syrians have called the constellation _Gabbārā_; and the
Arabs, _Al Jabbār_; and the Jews, _Gibbōr_. The brightest star of the
constellation, the one in the left knee, now generally known as _Rigel_,
is still occasionally called _Algebar_, a corruption of _Al Jabbār_,
though one of the fainter stars near it now bears that name. The meaning
in each case is "the giant," "the mighty one," "the great warrior," and
no doubt from the first formation of the constellations, this, the most
brilliant of all, was understood to set forth a warrior armed for the
battle. There were _gibbōrim_ before the Flood; we are told that after
"the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare
children to them, the same became mighty men (_gibbōrim_) which were of
old, men of renown."

But according to Jewish tradition, this constellation was appropriated
to himself by a particular mighty man. We are told in Gen. x. that--

     "Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one (_gibbōr_) in
     the earth."

and it is alleged that he, or his courtiers, in order to flatter him,
gave his name to this constellation, just as thousands of years later
the University of Leipzic proposed to call the belt stars of Orion,
_Stellæ Napoleonis_, "the Constellation of Napoleon."[234:1]

There was at one time surprise felt, that, deeply as the name of Nimrod
had impressed itself upon Eastern tradition, his name, as such, was
"nowhere found in the extensive literature which has come down to us"
from Babylon. It is now considered that the word, Nimrod, is simply a
Hebrew variant of Merodach, "the well-known head of the Babylonian
pantheon." He was probably "the first king of Babylonia or the first
really great ruler of the country." It is significant, as Mr. T. G.
Pinches points out, in his _Old Testament in the Light of the Records
from Assyria and Babylonia_, that just as in Genesis it is stated that
"the beginning of his (Nimrod's) kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and
Accad, and Calneh," so Merodach is stated, in the cuneiform records, to
have built Babel and Erech and Niffer, which last is probably Calneh.
The Hebrew scribes would seem to have altered the name of Merodach in
two particulars: they dropped the last syllable, thus suggesting that
the name was derived from _Marad_, "the rebellious one"; and they
prefixed the syllable "Ni," just as "Nisroch" was written for "Assur."
"From a linguistic point of view, therefore, the identification of
Nimrod as a changed form of Merodach is fully justified."


The attitude of Orion in the sky is a striking one. The warrior is
represented as holding a club in the right hand, and a skin or shield in
the left. His left foot is raised high as if he were climbing a steep
ascent, he seems to be endeavouring to force his way up into the zodiac,
and--as Longfellow expresses it--to be beating the forehead of the
Bull. His right leg is not shown below the knee, for immediately
beneath him is the little constellation of the Hare, by the early Arabs
sometimes called, _Al Kursiyy al Jabbār_, "the Chair of the Giant,"
from its position. Behind Orion are the two Dogs, each constellation
distinguished by a very brilliant star; the Greater Dog, by _Sirius_,
the brightest star in the heavens; the Lesser Dog, by _Procyon_, i.e.
the "Dog's Forerunner." Not far above Orion, on the shoulder of the
Bull, is the little cluster of the Pleiades.

There are--as we have seen--only three passages where _Kīmah_, literally
"the cluster" or "company,"--the group we know as the Pleiades,--is
mentioned in Scripture; and in each case it is associated with _Kĕsīl_,
"the fool,"--Orion. Several Greek poets give us the same association,
likening the stars to "rock-pigeons, flying from the Hunter Orion." And
Hesiod in his _Works and Days_ writes--

                "Do not to plough forget,
     When the Seven Virgins, and Orion, set:
     Thus an advantage always shall appear,
     In ev'ry labour of the various year.
     If o'er your mind prevails the love of gain,
     And tempts you to the dangers of the main,
     Yet in her harbour safe the vessel keep,
     When strong Orion chases to the deep
     The Virgin stars."

There is a suggestion of intense irony in this position of Orion amongst
the other constellations. He is trampling on the Hare--most timid of
creatures; he is climbing up into the zodiac to chase the little company
of the Pleiades--be they seven doves or seven maidens--and he is
thwarted even in this unheroic attempt by the determined attitude of the
guardian Bull.

A similar irony is seen in the Hebrew name for the constellation. The
"mighty Hunter," the great hero whom the Babylonians had deified and
made their supreme god, the Hebrews regarded as the "fool," the "impious
rebel." Since Orion is Nimrod, that is Merodach, there is small wonder
that _Kĕsīl_ was not recognized as his name in Babylonia.[238:1]

The attitude of Orion--attempting to force his way upward into the
zodiac--and the identification of Merodach with him, gives emphasis to
Isaiah's reproach, many centuries later, against the king of Babylon,
the successor of Merodach--

     "Thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I
     will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also
     upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
     I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like
     the Most High."

In the sight of the Hebrew prophets and poets, Merodach, in taking to
himself this group of stars, published his shame and folly. He had
ascended into heaven, but his glittering belt was only his fetter; he
was bound and gibbeted in the sky like a captive, a rebel, and who could
loose his bands?

In the thirteenth chapter of Isaiah we have the plural of
_kĕsīl_--_kĕsīlim_. It is usually understood that we have here Orion, as
the most splendid constellation in the sky, put for the constellations
in general. But if we remember that _kĕsīl_ stands for "Nimrod" or
"Merodach," the first proud tyrant mentioned by name in Scripture, the
particular significance of the allusion becomes evident--

     "Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and
     fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy
     the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heavens and
     the constellations"--(that is the _kĕsīlim_, the Nimrods or
     Merodachs of the sky)--"thereof shall not give their light:
     the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon
     shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the
     world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I
     will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay
     low the haughtiness of the terrible."

The strictly astronomical relations of Orion and the Pleiades seem to be
hinted at in Amos and in Job--

     "Seek Him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth
     the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark
     with night."

In this passage the parallelism seems to be between the seven stars, the
Pleiades, with sunrise, and Orion with sunset. Now at the time and place
when the constellations were mapped out, the Pleiades were the immediate
heralds of sunrise, shortly after the spring equinox, at the season
which would correspond to the early part of April in our present
calendar. The rising of Orion at sunset--his acronical rising--was early
in December, about the time when the coldest season of the year begins.
The astronomical meaning of the "bands of Orion" would therefore be the
rigour in which the earth is held during the cold of winter.

It is possible that the two great stars which follow Orion, _Sirius_ and
_Procyon_, known to the ancients generally and to us to-day as "the
Dogs," were by the Babylonians known as "the Bow-star" and "the
Lance-star"; the weapons, that is to say, of Orion or Merodach. Jensen
identifies Sirius with the Bow-star, but considers that the Lance-star
was Antares; Hommel, however, identifies the Lance-star with Procyon. In
the fifth tablet of the Babylonian Creation epic as translated by Dr. L.
W. King, there is an interesting account of the placing of the Bow-star
in the heavens. After Merodach had killed Tiamat--

     75. "The gods (his fathers) beheld the net which he had made,
     76. They beheld the bow and how (its work) was accomplished.
     77. They praised the work which he had done [ . . . ]
     78. Then Anu raised [the . . .] in the assembly of the gods.
     79. He kissed the bow, (saying), 'It is [ . . . ]'!
     80. And thus he named the names of the bow, (saying),
     81. '_Long-wood_ shall be one name, and the second name [shall
             be . . . ],
     82. And its third name shall be the _Bow-star_, in heaven [shall
             it . . . ]!'
     83. Then he fixed a station for it."

Dr. Cheyne even considers that he has found a reference to these two
stars in Job xxxviii. 36--

     "Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts (Lance-star),
      Or who hath given understanding to the heart (Bow-star)."

But this interpretation does not appear to have been generally accepted.
The same high authority suggests that the astronomical allusions in Amos
may have been inserted by a post-exilic editor, thus accounting for the
occurrence of the same astronomical terms as are found in Job, which he
assigns to the exilic or post-exilic period. This seems a dangerous
expedient, as it might with equal reason be used in many other
directions. Further, it entirely fails to explain the real difficulty
that _kīmah_ and _kĕsīl_ have not been found as Babylonian constellation
names, and that their astronomical signification had been lost by the
time that the "Seventy" undertook their labours.

Quite apart from the fact that the Babylonians could not give the name
of "Fool" to the representation in the sky of their supreme deity, the
Hebrews and the Babylonians regarded the constellation in different
ways. Several Assyriologists consider that the constellations, _Orion_
and _Cetus_, represent the struggle between Merodach and Tiamat, and
this conjecture is probably correct, so far as Babylonian ideas of the
constellations are concerned, for Tiamat is expressly identified on a
Babylonian tablet with a constellation near the ecliptic.[241:1] But
this means that the myth originated in the star figures, and was the
Babylonian interpretation of them. In this case, Cetus--that is
Tiamat--must have been considered as a goddess, and as directly and
immediately the ancestress of all the gods. Orion--Merodach--must have
been likewise a god, the great-great-grandson of Tiamat, whom he

The Hebrew conception was altogether different. Neither Merodach, nor
Tiamat, nor the constellations of Orion and Cetus, nor the actual stars
of which they are composed, are anything but creatures. Jehovah has made
Orion, as well as the "Seven Stars," as "His hand hath formed the
crooked serpent." By the mouth of Isaiah He says, "I form the light, and
create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord, do all these
things." The Babylonian view was of two divinities pitted against each
other, and the evil divinity was the original and the originator of the
good. In the Hebrew view, even the powers of evil are created things;
they are not self-existent.

And the Hebrews took a different view from the Babylonians of the story
told by these constellations. The Hebrews always coupled Orion with the
Pleiades; the Babylonians coupled Orion with Cetus--that is, Merodach
with Tiamat.

The view that has come down to us through the Greeks agrees much better
with the association of the constellations as held amongst the Hebrews,
rather than amongst the Babylonians. The Hunter Orion, according to the
Greeks, chased the Pleiades--the little company of Seven Virgins, or
Seven Doves--and he was confronted by the Bull. In their view, too, the
Sea-monster was not warring against Orion, but against the chained
woman, Andromeda.


[234:1] But the fact that Napoleon's name was thus coupled with this
constellation does not warrant us in asserting that Napoleon had no
historical existence, and that his long contest with the great sea-power
(England), with its capital on the river Thames (? _tehom_), was only a
stellar myth, arising from the nearness of Orion to the Sea-monster in
the sky--a variant, in fact, of the great Babylonian myth of Marduk and
Tiamat, the dragon of the deep.

It seems necessary to make this remark, since the process of
astrologizing history, whether derived from the Bible or from secular
writers, has been carried very far. Thus Dr. H. Winckler writes down the
account of the first three Persian kings, given us by Herodotus, as
myths of Aries, Taurus, and Gemini; David and Goliath, too, are but
Marduk and Tiamat, or Orion and Cetus, but David has become the Giant,
and Goliath the Dragon, for "Goliath" is claimed as a word-play on the
Babylonian _galittu_, "ocean." Examining an Arabic globe of date 1279
A.D.--that is to say some 4,000 years after the constellations were
devised,--Dr. Winckler found that Orion was represented as left-handed.
He therefore used this left-handed Orion as the link of identification
between Ehud, the left-handed judge of Israel, and Tyr, the left-handed
Mars of the Scandinavian pantheon. Dr. Winckler seems to have been
unaware of the elementary fact that a celestial globe necessarily shows
its figures "inside out." We look up to the sky, to see the actual
constellations from within the sphere; we look down upon a celestial
globe from without, and hence see the designs upon it as in the

[238:1] Dr. Cheyne says, in a note on p. 52 of _Job and Solomon_, "Heb.
_K’sīl_, the name of the foolhardy giant who strove with Jehovah. The
Chaldeo-Assyrian astrology gave the name _Kisiluv_ to the ninth month,
connecting it with the zodiacal sign Sagittarius. But there are valid
reasons for attaching the Hebrew popular myth to Orion." So Col. Conder,
in p. 179 of _The Hittites and their Language_, translates the name of
the Assyrian ninth month, _Cisleu_, as "giant." Now Sagittarius is in
the heavens just opposite to Orion, so when in the ninth month the sun
was in conjunction with Sagittarius, Orion was in opposition. In
_Cisleu_, therefore, the giant, Orion, was riding the heavens all night,
occupying the chamber of the south at midnight, so that the ninth month
might well be called the month of the giant.

[241:1] Dr. L. W. King, _Tablets of Creation_, appendix iii. p. 208.



We have no assistance from any cuneiform inscriptions as to the
astronomical significance of _‘Ayish_, _Kīmah_, and _Kĕsīl_, but the
case is different when we come to _Mazzaroth_. In the fifth tablet of
the Babylonian Creation epic we read--

     "1. He (Marduk) made the stations for the great gods;
      2. The stars, their images, as the stars of the zodiac, he fixed.
      3. He ordained the year, and into sections (_mizrāta_) he
             divided it;
      4. For the twelve months he fixed three stars.
      5. After he had [. . .] the days of the year [. . .] images
      6. He founded the station of Nibir to determine their bounds;
      7. That none might err or go astray.
      8. He set the station of Bēl and Ea along with him."

In the third line _mizrāta_, cognate with the Hebrew _Mazzārōth_, means
the sections or divisions of the year, corresponding to the signs of the
zodiac mentioned in the second line. There can therefore be little doubt
that the translators who gave us our English versions are practically
correct in the rendering of Job xxxviii. 32 which they give in the
margin, "Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth (or the twelve signs) in his

The foregoing extract from the fifth tablet of Creation has no small
astronomical interest. Merodach is represented as setting in order the
heavenly bodies. First of all he allots their stations to the great
gods, dividing to them the constellations of the zodiac, and the months
of the year; so that the arrangement by which every month had its
tutelary deity or deities, is here said to be his work. Next, he divides
up the constellations of the zodiac; not merely arranging the actual
stars, but appropriating to each constellation its special design or
"image." Third, he divides up the year to correspond with the zodiac,
making twelve months with three "stars" or constellations to each. In
other words, he carries the division of the zodiac a step further, and
divides each sign into three equal parts, the "decans" of the
astrologers, each containing 10° (_deka_) of the ecliptic.

The statement made in line 4 refers to an important development of
astronomy. The _constellations_ of the zodiac, that is, the groups made
up of the actual stars, are very unequal in size and irregular in shape.
The numerous theories, ancient or modern, in which the constellations
are supposed to owe their origin to the distinctive weather of the
successive months, each constellation figure being a sort of hieroglyph
for its particular month, are therefore all manifestly erroneous, for
there never could have been any real fixed or steady correlation between
the constellations and the months. Similarly, the theories which claim
that the ancient names for the months were derived from the
constellations are equally untenable. Some writers have even held both
classes of theory, overlooking the fact that they mutually contradict
each other.

But there came a time when the inconvenience of the unequal division of
the zodiac by the constellations was felt to be an evil, and it was
remedied by dividing the ecliptic into twelve equal parts, each part
being called after the constellation with which it corresponded most
nearly at the time such division was made. These equal divisions have
been called the _Signs_ of the zodiac. It must be clearly understood
that they have always and at all times been imaginary divisions of the
heavens, that they were never associated with real stars. They were
simply a picturesque mode of expressing celestial longitude; the
distance of a star from the place of the sun at the spring equinox, as
measured along the ecliptic,--the sun's apparent path during the year.

The Signs once arranged, the next step was an easy one. Each sign was
equivalent to 30 degrees of longitude. A third of a sign, a "decan," was
10 degrees of longitude, corresponding to the "week" of ten days used in
Egypt and in Greece.

This change from the constellations to the Signs cannot have taken place
very early. The place of the spring equinox travels backwards amongst
the stars at the rate of very little more than a degree in 72 years.
When the change was made the spring equinox was somewhere in the
constellation _Aries_, the Ram, and therefore Aries was then adopted as
the first Sign, and must always remain such, since the Signs move
amongst the stars with the equinox.

[Illustration: POSITION OF SPRING EQUINOX, B.C. 2700.]

We cannot fix when this change was made within a few years, but it
cannot have been _before_ the time when the sun at the spring equinox
was situated just below _Hamal_, the brightest star of the Ram. This was
about 700 B.C. The equal division of the zodiac must have taken place
not earlier than this, and with it, the Bull must have been deposed from
the position it had always held up to that time, of leader of the
zodiac. It is probable that some direct method of determining the
equinox itself was introduced much about the same time. This new system
involved nothing short of a revolution in astronomy, but the Babylonian
Creation story implies that this revolution had already taken place
when it was composed, and that the equal division of the zodiac was
already in force. It is possible that the sixth and seventh lines of the
poem indicate that the Babylonians had already noticed a peculiar fact,
viz. that just as the moon passes through all the signs in a month,
whilst the sun passes through only one sign in that time; so the sun
passes through all the signs in a year, whilst Jupiter passes through
but one sign. _Nibir_ was the special Babylonian name of the planet
Jupiter when on the meridian; and Merodach, as the deity of that planet,
is thus represented as pacing out the bounds of the zodiacal Signs by
his movement in the course of the year. The planet also marks out the
third part of a sign, _i. e._ ten degrees; for during one-third of each
year it appears to retrograde, moving from east to west amongst the
stars instead of from west to east. During this retrogression it covers
the breadth of one "decan" = ten degrees.

[Illustration: POSITION OF SPRING EQUINOX, A.D. 1900.]

The Babylonian Creation epic is therefore quite late, for it introduces
astronomical ideas not current earlier than 700 B.C. in Babylonia or
anywhere else. This new development of astronomy enables us also to
roughly date the origin of the different orders of systematic astrology.

Astrology, like astronomy, has passed through successive stages. It
began at zero. An unexpected event in the heavens was accounted
portentous, because it was unexpected, and it was interpreted in a good
or bad sense according to the state of mind of the beholder. There can
have been at first no system, no order, no linking up of one specific
kind of prediction with one kind of astronomical event. It can have been
originally nothing but a crude jumble of omens, just on a level with the
superstitions of some of our peasantry as to seeing hares, or cats, or
magpies; and the earliest astrological tablets from Mesopotamia are
precisely of this character.

But the official fortune-tellers at the courts of the kings of Nineveh
or Babylon must speedily have learned the necessity of arranging some
systems of prediction for their own protection--systems definite enough
to give the astrologer a groundwork for a prediction which he could
claim was dependent simply upon the heavenly bodies, and hence for which
the astrologer could not be held personally responsible, and at the same
time elastic enough to enable him to shape his prediction to fit in with
his patron's wishes. The astrology of to-day shows the same essential

This necessity explains the early Babylonian tablets with catalogues of
eclipses on all days of the month, and in all quarters of the sky. The
great majority of the eclipses could never happen, but they could be,
none-the-less, made use of by a court magician. If an eclipse of the sun
took place on the 29th day and in the south, he could always point out
how exceedingly unpleasant things might have been for the king and the
country if he, the magician, had not by his diligence, prevented its
happening, say, on the 20th, and in the north. A Zulu witch-doctor is
quite equal to analogous subterfuges to-day, and no doubt his Babylonian
congeners were not less ingenious 3,000 years ago. Such subterfuges were
not always successful when a Chaka or a Nebuchadnezzar had to be dealt
with, but with kings of a more ordinary type either in Zululand or
Mesopotamia they would answer well enough.

Coming down to times when astronomy had so far advanced that a catalogue
of the stars had been drawn up, with their positions determined by
actual measurement, it became possible for astrologers to draw up
something like a definite system of prediction, based upon the
constellations or parts of a constellation that happened to be rising at
any given moment, and this was the system employed when Zeuchros of
Babylon wrote in the first century of our era. His system must have been
started later than 700 B.C., for in it Aries is considered as the leader
of the zodiac; the constellations are already disestablished in favour
of the Signs; and the Signs are each divided into three. A practical
drawback to this particular astrological system was that the aspect
presented by the heavens on one evening was precisely the same as that
presented on the next evening four minutes earlier. The field for
prediction therefore was very limited and repeated itself too much for
the purpose of fortune-tellers.

The introduction of the planets into astrology gave a greater diversity
to the material used by the fortune-tellers. An early phase of planetary
astrology consisted in the allotment of a planet to each hour of the day
and also to each day of the week. It has been already shown in the
chapter on "Saturn and Astrology," that this system arose from the
Ptolemaic idea of the solar system grafted on the Egyptian division of
the day into twenty-four hours, and applied to the week of seven days.
It probably originated in Alexandria, and arose not earlier than the
third century before our era. Mathematical astrology--the complex system
now in vogue--involves a considerable knowledge of the apparent
movements of the planets and a development of mathematics such as did
not exist until the days of Hipparchus. It also employs the purely
imaginary signs of the zodiac, not the constellations; and reckons the
first point of Aries as at the spring equinox. So far as we can
ascertain, the spring equinox marked the first point of the
constellation Aries about B.C. 110.

All these varied forms of astrology are therefore comparatively recent.
Before that it was of course reckoned ominous if an eclipse took place,
or a comet was seen, or a bright planet came near the moon, just as
spilling salt or crossing knives may be reckoned ominous to-day. The
omens had as little to do with observation, or with anything that could
be called scientific, in the one case as in the other.

It is important to realize that astrology, as anything more than the
crude observance of omens, is younger than astronomy by at least 2,000

_Mazzārōth_ occurs only once in the Bible, viz. in Job xxxviii.
32, already so often quoted, but a similar word _Mazzālōth_ occurs
in 2 Kings xxiii. 5, where it is said that Josiah put down the
idolatrous priests, "them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the
sun, and to the moon, and to the planets (_Mazzālōth_), and to all
the host of heaven." The context itself, as well as the parallel passage
in Deuteronomy--"When thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars,
even all the host of heaven, shouldst be driven to worship them,"--shows
clearly that celestial luminaries of some kind are intended, probably
certain groups of stars, distinguished from the general "host of

Comparing Job ix. 9, with Job xxxviii. 31, 32, we find _‘Ash_, or
_‘Ayish_, _Kīmah_ and _Kĕsil_ common to the two passages; if we take
_‘Ash_ and _‘Ayish_ as identical, this leaves the "chambers of the
south" as the equivalent of _Mazzaroth_. The same expression occurs in
the singular in Job xxxvii. 9--"Out of the south (_marg._ chamber)
cometh the whirlwind." There need be but little question as to the
significance of these various passages. The correspondence of the word
_Mazzārōth_ with the Babylonian _mizrātā_, the "divisions" of the year,
answering to the twelve signs of the zodiac, points in exactly the same
direction as the correspondence in idea which is evident between the
"chambers of the south" and the Arabic _Al manāzil_, "the mansions" or
"resting-places" of the moon in the lunar zodiac.

Mazzaroth are therefore the "divisions" of the zodiac, the "chambers"
through which the sun successively passes in the course of the year, his
"resting-place" for a month. They are "the chambers of the south," since
that is their distinctive position. In Palestine, the sun, even at
rising or setting at midsummer, passes but little to the north of east
or west. Roughly speaking, the "south" is the sun's quarter, and
therefore it is necessarily the quarter of the constellation in which
the sun is placed.

It has been made an objection to this identification that the Israelites
are said to have worshipped _Mazzālōth_, and we have no direct
evidence that the signs or constellations of the zodiac were worshipped
as such. But this is to make a distinction that is hardly warranted. The
Creation tablets, as we have seen, distinctly record the allocation of
the great gods to the various signs, Merodach himself being one of the
three deities associated with the month Adar, just as in Egypt a god
presided over each one of the thirty-six decades of the year.

Again, it is probable that the "golden calf," worshipped by the
Israelites in the wilderness, and, after the disruption, at Bethel and
at Dan, was none other than an attempt to worship Jehovah under the
symbol of Taurus, the leader of the zodiac and cognizance of the tribe
of Joseph; regarded as a type of Him Who had been the Leader of the
people out of Egypt, and the Giver of the blessings associated with the
return of the sun to Taurus, the revival of nature in spring-time. It
was intended as a worship of Jehovah; it was in reality dire rebellion
against Him, and a beginning of the worship of "_Mazzālōth_ and
the heavenly host;" an idolatry that was bound to bring other idolatries
in its train.

A three-fold symbol found continually on Babylonian monuments, "the
triad of stars," undoubtedly at one time set forth Sin, the moon-god,
Samas, the sun-god, and Ištar, in this connection possibly the planet
Venus. It has therefore been suggested by Prof. Schiaparelli that
_Mazzālōth_ is the planet Venus; and, since the word is plural in
form, Venus in her double capacity;--sometimes an evening, sometimes a
morning star. The sun and the moon and _Mazzālōth_ would then set
forth the three brightest luminaries, whilst the general congress of
stars would be represented by the "host of heaven." But though Venus is
sometimes the brightest of the planets, she is essentially of the same
order as Jupiter or Mars, and is not of the same order as the sun and
moon, with whom, on this supposition, she is singled out to be ranked.
Moreover, if Ištar or Ashtoreth were intended in this passage, it
does not appear why she should not be expressly named as such;
especially as Baal, so often coupled with her, is named. The "triad of
stars," too, had originally quite a different meaning, as will be seen

Moreover, the parallelism between Job ix. and Job xxxviii. is destroyed
by this rendering, since the planet Venus could not be described as "the
chambers of the south." These are therefore referred by Professor
Schiaparelli to the glorious mass of stars in the far south, shining in
the constellations that set forth the Deluge story,--the Ship, and the
Centaur, much the most brilliant region of the whole sky.

Another interpretation of _Mazzaroth_ is given by Dr. Cheyne, on grounds
that refute Professor Schiaparelli's suggestion, but it is itself open
to objection from an astronomical point of view. He writes--

     "_Mazzaroth_ is probably not to be identified with _Mazzaloth_
     (2 Kings xxiii. 5) in spite of the authority of the Sept. and
     the Targum. . . . _Mazzaroth_ = Ass. _Mazarati_; _Mazzaloth_
     (i.e. the zodiacal signs) seems to be the plural of
     _Mazzāla_ = Ass. _Manzaltu_, station."[254:1]

Dr. Cheyne therefore renders the passage thus--

     "Dost thou bring forth the moon's watches at their season,
      And the Bear and her offspring--dost thou guide them?
      Knowest thou the laws of heaven?
      Dost thou determine its influence upon the earth?"

_Mazzaloth_ are therefore "the zodiacal signs," but _Mazzaroth_ "the
watches or stations of the moon, which marked the progress of the
month;"[254:2] or, in other words, the lunar zodiac.

But the lunar and the solar zodiac are only different ways of dividing
the same belt of stars. Consequently when, as in the passage before us,
reference is made to the actual belt of stars as a whole, there is no
difference between the two. So that we are obliged, as before, to
consider _Mazzaroth_ and _Mazzaloth_ as identical, and both as setting
forth the stars of the zodiac.

So far as the two zodiacs differ, it is the solar and not the lunar
zodiac that is intended. This is evident when we consider the different
natures of the apparent motions of the sun and the moon. The sun passes
through a twelfth part of the zodiac each month, and month by month the
successive constellations of the zodiac are brought out, each in its own
season; each having a period during which it rises at sunset, is visible
the whole night, and sets at sunrise. The solar _Mazzaroth_ are
therefore emphatically brought out, each "in its season." Not so the
lunar _Mazzaroth_.

The expression, "the watches or stations of the moon which marked the
progress of the month," is unsuitable when astronomically considered.
"Watches" refer strictly to divisions of the day and night; the
"stations" of the moon refer to the twenty-seven or twenty-eight
divisions of the lunar zodiac; the "progress of the month" refers to the
complete sequence of the lunar phases. These are three entirely
different matters, and Dr. Cheyne has confused them. The progress of the
moon through its complete series of stations is accomplished in a
siderial month--that is, twenty-seven days eight hours, but from the
nature of the case it cannot be said that these "stations" are brought
out each in his season, in that time, as a month makes but a small
change in the aspect of the sky. The moon passes through the complete
succession of its phases in the course of a synodical month, which is in
the mean twenty-nine days, thirteen hours--that is to say from new to
new, or full to full--but no particular star, or constellation, or
"station" has any fixed relation to any one given phase of the moon. In
the course of some four or five years the moon will have been both new
and full in every one of the "lunar stations."

     "Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven?
      Canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?"

He, who has lived out under the stars, in contact with the actual
workings of nature, knows what it is to watch "Mazzaroth" brought "out
in his season;" the silent return to the skies of the constellations,
month by month, simultaneous with the changes on the face of the earth.
Overhead, the glorious procession, so regular and unfaltering, of the
silent, unapproachable stars: below, in unfailing answer, the succession
of spring and summer, autumn and winter, seedtime and harvest, cold and
heat, rain and drought. If there be but eyes to see, this majestic
Order, so smooth in working, so magnificent in scale, will impress the
most stolid as the immediate acting of God; and the beholder will feel
at the same a reverent awe, and an uplifting of the spirit as he sees
the action of "the ordinances of heaven," and the evidence of "the
dominion thereof in the earth."

Dr. Cheyne, however, only sees in these beautiful and appropriate lines
the influence upon the sacred writer of "the physical theology of
Babylonia";[256:1] in other words, its idolatrous astrology, "the
influence of the sky upon the earth."

But what would Job understand by the question, "Canst thou bring forth
Mazzārōth in his season?" Just this: "Canst thou so move the
great celestial sphere that the varied constellations of the zodiac
shall come into view, each in their turn, and with them the earth pass
through its proper successive seasons?" The question therefore embraced
and was an extension of the two that preceded it. "Canst thou bind the
sweet influences of the Pleiades? Canst thou prevent the revival of all
the forces of nature in the springtime?" and "Canst thou loose the bands
of Orion; canst thou free the ground from the numbing frosts of winter?"

The question to us would not greatly differ in its meaning, except that
we should better understand the mechanism underlying the phenomena. The
question would mean, "Canst thou move this vast globe of the earth,
weighing six thousand million times a million million tons, continually
in its orbit, more than 580 millions of miles in circuit, with a speed
of nearly nineteen miles in every second of time, thus bringing into
view different constellations at different times of the year, and
presenting the various zones of the earth in different aspects to the
sun's light and heat?" To us, as to Job, the question would come as:

     "Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven?
      Canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?"

It is going beyond astronomy, yet it may be permitted to an astronomer,
to refer for comparison to a parallel thought, not couched in the form
of a question, but in the form of a prayer:

          "Thy will be done,
     As in heaven, so in earth."


[254:1] Rev. T. K. Cheyne, M.A., _Job and Solomon_, p. 290.

[254:2] _Ibid._, p. 52.

[256:1] Rev. T. K. Cheyne, M.A., _Job and Solomon_, p. 52.



In two passages of the Book of Job a word, _‘Ash_ or _‘Ayish_, is used,
by context evidently one of the constellations of the sky, but the
identification of which is doubtful. In our Authorized Version the first
passage is rendered thus:--

     (God) "Which maketh Arcturus (_‘Ash_), Orion, and Pleiades,
     and the chambers of the south";

and the second:--

     "Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades,
      Or loose the bands of Orion?
      Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season?
      Or canst thou guide Arcturus (_‘Ayish_) with his sons?
      Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven?
      Canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?"

The words (or word, for possibly _‘Ayish_ is no more than a variant of
_‘Ash_) here translated "Arcturus" were rendered by the "Seventy" as
"Arktouros" in the first passage; as "Hesperos" in the second passage;
and their rendering was followed by the Vulgate. The rendering Hesper or
Vesper is absurd, as "the sons" of Hesper has no meaning. "Arktouros"
is not improbably a misrendering of "Arktos," "the north," which would
give a free but not a literal translation of the meaning of the passage.
In another passage from Job (xxxvii. 9) where the south wind is
contrasted with the cold from another quarter of the sky, the
"Seventy"--again followed by the Vulgate--rendered it as "cold from
Arcturus." Now cold came to the Jews, as it does to us, from the north,
and the star which we know as Arcturus could not be described as
typifying that direction either now or when the Septuagint or Vulgate
versions were made. The Peschitta, the Syriac version of the Bible, made
about the second century after Christ, gives as the Syriac equivalent
for ‘Ash, or ‘Ayish, the word _‘iyūthā_, but it also renders _Kĕsīl_ by
the same word in Amos v. 8, so that the translators were evidently quite
at sea as to the identity of these constellations. We are also in doubt
as to what star or constellation the Syrians meant by _‘Iyūthā_, and
apparently they were in some doubt themselves, for in the Talmud we are
told that there was a disputation, held in the presence of the great
teacher Rabbi Jehuda, about 150 years after Christ, whether _‘Iyūthā_
was situated in the head of the Bull, or in the tail of the Ram.
Oriental scholars now assign it either to Aldebaran in the head of the
Bull, the "sons" being in this case the other members of the Hyades
group of which Aldebaran is the brightest star; or else identifying it
with the Arabic _el-‘aiyūq_, the name of the star which the Greeks call
_Aix_, and we call Capella, the "sons" on this inference being the three
small stars near, called by the Greeks and by ourselves the "Kids." The
word _‘Ash_ is used several times in Scripture, but without any
astronomical signification, and is there rendered "moth," as in Isaiah,
where it says--

     "Lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth (_‘Ash_)
     shall eat them up."

This literal significance of the word does not help, as we know of no
constellation figured as a "moth" or bearing any resemblance to one.

But the word _‘ash_, or _‘ayish_ does not differ importantly from the
word _na‘sh_, in Hebrew "assembly," in Arabic "bier," which has been the
word used by the Arabs from remote antiquity to denote the four bright
stars in the hind-quarters of the Great Bear; those which form the body
of the Plough. Moreover, the three stars which form the "tail" of the
Great Bear, or the "handle" of the Plough have been called by the Arabs
_benāt na‘sh_, "the daughters of na‘sh." The Bear is the great
northern constellation, which swings constantly round the pole, always
visible throughout the changing seasons of the year. There should be no
hesitation then in accepting the opinion of the Rabbi, Aben Ezra, who
saw in _‘Ash_, or _‘Ayish_ the quadrilateral of the great Bear, whose
four points are marked by the bright stars, Alpha, Beta, Gamma and
Delta, and in the "sons" of _‘Ayish_, the three stars, Epsilon, Zeta,
and Eta. Our Revised Version therefore renders the word as "Bear."

In both passages of Job, then, we get the four quarters of the sky
marked out as being under the dominion of the Lord. In the ninth chapter
they are given in the order--

     The Bear, which is in the North;

     Orion, in its acronical rising, with the sun setting in the

     The Pleiades, in their heliacal rising, with the sun rising in
     the East;

     And the Chambers of the South.

In the later passage they are given with fuller illustration, and in the

     The Pleiades, whose "sweet influences" are given by their
     heliacal rising in spring time, with the sun rising in the

     Orion, whose "bands" are those of winter, heralded by his
     acronical rising with the sun setting in the West;

     Mazzaroth, the constellations of the zodiac corresponding to
     the Chambers of the South, which the sun occupies each in its

     The Bear with its "sons," who, always visible, are unceasingly
     guided round the pole in the North.

The parallelism in the two passages in Job gives us the right to argue
that _‘Ash_ and _‘Ayish_ refer to the same constellation, and are
variants of the same name; possibly their vocalization was the same, and
they are but two divergent ways of writing the word. We must therefore
reject Prof. Schiaparelli's suggestion made on the authority of the
Peschitta version of the Scriptures and of Rabbi Jehuda, who lived in
the second century A.D., that _‘Ash_ is _‘Iyūthā_ which is Aldebaran,
but that _‘Ayish_ and his "sons" may be Capella and her "Kids."

Equally we must reject Prof. Stern's argument that _Kīmah_ is Sirius,
_Kĕsīl_ is Orion, _Mazzārōth_ is the Hyades and _‘Ayish_ is the
Pleiades. He bases his argument on the order in which these names are
given in the second passage of Job, and on the contention of Otfried
Müller that there are only four out of the remarkable groups of stars
placed in the middle and southern regions of the sky which have given
rise to important legends in the primitive mythology of the Greeks.
These groups follow one after the other in a belt in the sky in the
order just given, and their risings and settings were important factors
in the old Greek meteorological and agricultural calendars. Prof. Stern
assumes that _kĕsīl_ means Orion, and from this identification deduces
the others, neglecting all etymological or traditional evidences to the
contrary. He takes no notice of the employment of the same names in
passages of Scripture other than that in the thirty-eighth chapter of
Job. Here he would interpret the "chain," or "sweet influences" of
_Kīmah_ = "Sirius the dog," by assuming that the Jews considered that
the dog was mad, and hence was kept chained up. More important still, he
fails to recognize that the Jews had a continental climate in a
different latitude from the insular climate of Greece, and that both
their agricultural and their weather conditions were different, and
would be associated with different astronomical indications.

In the 9th verse of the 37th chapter of Job we get an antithesis which
has already been referred to--

     "Out of the south cometh the whirlwind: and cold out of the

The Hebrew word here translated "north" is _mezarīm_, a plural word
which is taken literally to mean "the scatterings." For its
interpretation Prof. Schiaparelli makes a very plausible suggestion. He
says, "We may first observe that the five Hebrew letters with which this
name was written in the original unpointed text could equally well be
read, with a somewhat different pointing, as _mizrim_, or also as
_mizrayim_, of which the one is the plural, the other the dual, of
_mizreh_. Now _mizreh_ means a winnowing-fan, the instrument with which
grain is scattered in the air to sift it; and it has its root, like
_mezarim_, in the word _zarah_, . . . which, besides the sense
_dispersit_, bears also the sense _expandit_, _ventilavit_."[263:1]


If Prof. Schiaparelli is correct in his supposition, then the word
translated "north" in our versions is literally the "two winnowing
fans," names which from the form suggested by the stars we may suppose
that the Jews gave to the two Bears in the sky, just as the Chinese
called them the "Ladles," and the Americans call them the "Big Dipper"
and the "Little Dipper." The sense is still that of the north, but we
may recognize in the word employed another Jewish name of the
constellation, alternative with _‘Ash_ or _‘Ayish_, or perhaps used in
order to include in the region the Lesser as well as the Greater Bear.
We should not be surprised at finding an alternative name for this great
northern constellation, for we ourselves call it by several different
appellations, using them indiscriminately, perhaps even in the course of
a single paragraph.

What to Job did the question mean which the Lord addressed to him:
"Canst thou guide the Bear and his sons?" To Job it meant, "Canst thou
guide this great constellation of stars in the north, in their unceasing
round, as a charioteer guides his horses in a wide circle, each keeping
to his proper ring, none entangling himself with another, nor falling
out of his place?"

What would the same question mean to us, if addressed to us to-day? In
the first place we might put it shortly as "Canst thou turn the earth on
its axis regularly and continuously, so as to produce this motion of the
stars round the pole, and to make day and night?" But modern astronomy
can ask the question in a deeper and a wider sense.

It was an ancient idea that the stars were fixed in a crystal sphere,
and that they could not alter their relative positions; and indeed until
the last century or two, instruments were not delicate enough to measure
the small relative shift that stars make. It is within the last seventy
years that we have been able to measure the "annual parallax" of certain
stars,--that is, the difference in the position of a star when viewed by
the earth from the opposite ends of a diameter of the earth's orbit
round the sun. Besides their yearly shift due to "annual parallax," most
stars have a "proper" or "peculiar motion" of their own, which is in
most cases a very small amount indeed, but can be determined more easily
than "annual parallax" because its effect accumulates year after year.
If, therefore, we are able to observe a star over a period of fifty, or
a hundred or more years, it may seem to have moved quite an appreciable
amount when examined by the powerful and delicate instruments that we
have now at our disposal. Observations of the exact positions of stars
have been made ever since the founding of Greenwich Observatory, so that
now we have catalogues giving the "proper motions" of several hundreds
of stars. When these are examined it is seen that some groups of stars
move in fellowship together through space, having the same direction,
and moving at the same rate, and of these companies the most striking
are the stars of the Plough, that is _‘Ayish_ and his sons. Not all the
stars move together; out of the seven, the first and the last have a
different direction, but the other five show a striking similarity in
their paths. And not only are their directions of movement, and the
amounts of it, the same for the five stars, but spectroscopic
observations of their motion in the line of sight show that they are all
approaching us with a speed of about eighteen miles a second, that is to
say with much the same speed as the earth moves in her orbit round the
sun. Another indication of their "family likeness" is that all their
spectra are similar. A German astronomer, Dr. Höffler, has found for
this system a distance from us so great that it would take light 192
years to travel from them to us. Yet so vast is this company of five
stars that it would take light seventy years, travelling at the rate of
186,000 miles in every second of time to go from the leading star,
_Merak_--Beta of the Bear--to _Mizar_--Zeta of the Bear--the final
brilliant of the five. So bright and great are these suns that they
shine to us as gems of the second magnitude, and yet if our sun were
placed amongst them at their distance from us he would be invisible to
the keenest sight.

Dr. Höffler's estimate may be an exaggerated one, but it still remains
true that whilst the cluster of the Pleiades forms a great and wonderful
family group, it is dwarfed into insignificance by the vast distances
between these five stars of the Great Bear. Yet these also form one
family, though they are united by no nebulous bands, and are at
distances so great from each other that the bonds of gravitation must
cease to show their influence; yet all are alike, all are marshalled
together in their march under some mysterious law. We cannot answer the
question, "By what means are _‘Ayish_ and his sons guided?" much more
are we speechless when we are asked, "Canst thou guide them?"


[263:1] _Astronomy in the Old Testament_, p. 69.






There is a difference of opinion at the present day amongst astronomers
as to the time in which the planet Venus rotates upon her axis. This
difference arises through the difficulty of perceiving or identifying
any markings on her brilliantly lighted surface. She is probably
continually cloud-covered, and the movements of the very faint shadings
that are sometimes seen upon her have been differently interpreted. The
older observers concurred in giving her a rotation period of 23{h}
21{m}, which is not very different from that of the earth. Many
astronomers, amongst them Schiaparelli, assign a rotation period of 225
days, that is to say the same period as that in which she goes round the
sun in her orbit. The axis on which she rotates is almost certainly at
right angles to the plane in which she moves round the sun, and she has
no moon.

We do not know if the planet is inhabited by intelligent beings, but
assuming the existence of such, it will be instructive to inquire as to
the conditions under which they must live if this view be correct, and
the rotation period of Venus, and her revolution period be the same.

Venus would then always turn the same face to the sun, just as our moon
always turns the same face to us and so never appears to turn round.
Venus would therefore have no "days," for on her one hemisphere there
would be eternal light, and on the other eternal darkness. Since she has
no moon, she has no "month." Since she moves round the sun in a circle,
and the axis through her north and south poles lies at right angles to
her ecliptic, she has no "seasons," she can have no "year." On her
daylight side, the sun remains fixed in one spot in the sky, so long as
the observer does not leave his locality; it hangs overhead, or near
some horizon, north, south, east, or west, continually. There are no
"hours," therefore no divisions of time, it might be almost said no
"time" itself. There are no points of the compass even, no north, south,
east or west, no directions except towards the place where the sun is
overhead or away from it. There could be no history in the sense we know
it, for there would be no natural means of dating. "Time" must there be
artificial, uncertain and arbitrary.

On the night side of Venus, if her men can see the stars at all for
cloud, they would perceive the slow procession of stars coming out, for
Venus turns continually to the heavens--though not to the sun.
_Mazzaroth_ would still be brought out in his season, but there would be
no answering change on Venus. Her men might still know the ordinances of
heaven, but they could not know the dominion thereof set upon their

This imaginary picture of the state of our sister planet may illustrate
the fourteenth verse of the first chapter of Genesis:--

     "And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the
     heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for
     signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years."

The making of the calendar is in all nations an astronomical problem: it
is the movements of the various heavenly bodies that give to us our most
natural divisions of time. We are told in Deuteronomy:--

     "The sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of
     heaven, . . . the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations
     under the whole heaven."

This is the legitimate use of the heavenly bodies, just as the worship
of them is their abuse, for the division of time--in other words, the
formation of a calendar--is a necessity. But as there are many heavenly
bodies and several natural divisions of time, the calendars in use by
different peoples differ considerably. One division, however, is common
to all calendars--the day.

The "day" is the first and shortest natural division of time. At present
we recognize three kinds of "days"--_the sidereal day_, which is the
interval of time between successive passages of a fixed star over a
given meridian; _the apparent solar day_, which is the interval between
two passages of the sun's centre over a given meridian, or the interval
between two successive noons on a sundial; and _the mean solar day_,
which is the interval between the successive passages of a fictitious
sun moving uniformly eastward in the celestial equator, and completing
its annual course in exactly the same time as that in which the actual
sun makes the circuit of the ecliptic. The mean solar days are all
exactly the same length; they are equal to the length of the average
apparent solar day; and they are each four minutes longer than a
sidereal day. We divide our days into 24 hours; each hour into 60
minutes; each minute into 60 seconds. This subdivision of the day
requires some mechanical means of continually registering time, and for
this purpose we use clocks and watches.

The sidereal day and the mean solar day necessitate some means of
registering time, such as clocks; therefore the original day in use must
have been the apparent solar day. It must then have been reckoned either
from sunset to sunset, or from sunrise to sunrise. Later it might have
been possible to reckon it from noon to noon, when some method of fixing
the moment of noon had been invented; some method, that is to say, of
fixing the true north and south, and of noting that the sun was due
south, or the shadow due north. Our own reckoning from midnight to
midnight is a late method. Midnight is not marked by the peculiar
position of any visible heavenly body; it has, in general, to be
registered by some mechanical time-measurer.

In the Old Testament Scriptures the ecclesiastical reckoning was always
from one setting of the sun to the next. In the first chapter of Genesis
the expressions for the days run, "The evening and the morning," as if
the evening took precedence of the morning. When the Passover was
instituted as a memorial feast, the command ran--

     "In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at
     even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and
     twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be
     no leaven."

And again, for the sabbath of rest in the seventh month--

     "In the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even,
     shall ye celebrate your sabbath."

The ecclesiastical "day" of the Jews, therefore, began in the evening,
with sunset. It does not by any means follow that their civil day began
at this time. It would be more natural for such business contracts as
the hiring of servants or labourers to date from morning to morning
rather than from evening to evening. Naturally any allusion in the
Scriptures to the civil calendar as apart from the ecclesiastical would
be indirect, but that common custom was not entirely in agreement with
the ecclesiastical formula we may perhaps gather from the fact that in
the Old Testament there are twenty-six cases in which the phrases "day
and night," "day or night" are employed, and only three where "night"
comes before "day." We have a similar divergence of usage in the case of
our civil and astronomical days; the first beginning at midnight, and
the second at the following noon, since the daylight is the time for
work in ordinary business life, but the night for the astronomers. The
Babylonians, at least at a late date in their history, had also a
twofold way of determining when the day began. Epping and Strassmaier
have translated and elucidated a series of Babylonian lunar calendars of
dates between the first and second centuries before our era. In one
column of these was given the interval of time which elapsed between the
true new moon and the first visible crescent.

     "Curious to relate, at first all Father Epping's calculations
     to establish this result were out by a mean interval of six
     hours. The solution was found in the fact that the Babylonian
     astronomers were not content with such a variable instant of
     time as sunset for their calculations, as indeed they ought
     not to have been, but used as the origin of the astronomical
     day at Babylon the midnight which followed the setting of the
     sun, marking the beginning of the civil day."

It may be mentioned that the days as reckoned from sunset to sunset,
sunrise to sunrise, and noon to noon, would give intervals of slightly
different lengths. This would, however, be imperceptible so long as
their lengths were not measured by some accurate mechanical
time-measurer such as a clepsydra, sandglass, pendulum, or spring clock.

The first obvious and natural division of the whole day-interval is into
the light part and the dark part. As we have seen in Genesis, the
evening and the morning are the day. Since Palestine is a sub-tropical
country, these would never differ very greatly in length, even at
midsummer or midwinter.

The next subdivision, of the light part of the day, is into morning,
noon and evening. As David says in the fifty-fifth Psalm--

     "Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray."

None of these three subdivisions were marked out definitely in their
beginning or their ending, but each contained a definite epoch. Morning
contained the moment at which the sun rose; noon the moment at which he
was at his greatest height, and was at the same time due south; evening
contained the moment at which the sun set.

In the early Scriptures of the Old Testament, the further divisions of
the morning and the evening are still natural ones.

For the progress of the morning we have, first, the twilight, as in

     "Let the stars of the twilight thereof be dark;
      Let it look for light but have none;
      Neither let it see the eyelids of the morning."

Then, daybreak, as in the Song of Solomon--

     "Until the day break (literally, breathe) and the shadows flee

where the reference is to the cool breezes of twilight. So too in
Genesis, in Joshua, in the Judges and in Samuel, we find references to
the "break of day" (literally, the rising of the morning, or when it
became light to them) and "the dawning of the day" or "about the spring
of the day."

The progress of the morning is marked by the increasing heat; thus as
"the sun waxed hot," the manna melted; whilst Saul promised to let the
men of Jabesh-Gilead have help "by that time the sun be hot," or, as we
should put it, about the middle of the morning.

Noon is often mentioned. Ish-bosheth was murdered as he "lay on a bed at
noon," and Jezebel's prophets "called on the name of Baal from morning
even unto noon."

We find the "afternoon" (lit. "till the day declined") mentioned in the
nineteenth chapter of the Judges, and in the same chapter this period is
further described in "The day draweth toward evening (lit. is weak),"
and "The day groweth to an end" (lit. "It is the pitching time of the
day," that is to say, the time for pitching tents, in preparation for
the nightly halt).

As there was no dividing line between the morning and noontide, neither
was there any between the afternoon and evening. The shadows of the
night were spoken of as chased away by the cool breezes of the morning,
so the lengthening shadows cast by the declining sun marked the progress
of the evening. Job speaks of the servant who "earnestly desireth the
shadow;" that is to say, the intimation, from the length of his own
shadow, that his day's work was done; and Jeremiah says, "The shadows of
the evening are stretched out." Then came sundown, and the remaining
part of the evening is described in Proverbs: "In the twilight, in the
evening, in the black and dark night."

In a country like Palestine, near the tropics, with the days not
differing extravagantly in length from one part of the year to another,
and the sun generally bright and shining, and throwing intense shadows,
it was easy, even for the uneducated, to learn to tell the time of day
from the length of the shadow. Here, in our northern latitude, the
problem is a more complex one, yet we learn from the _Canterbury Tales_,
that Englishmen in the time of the Plantagenets could read the position
of the sun with quite sufficient accuracy for ordinary purposes. Thus
the host of the Tabard inn, though not a learned man--

           "Saw wel, that the brighte sonne
     The ark of his artificial day had ronne
     The fourthe part, and half an houre and more;
     And though he was not depe experte in lore,
     He wiste it was the eighte and twenty day
     Of April, that is messager to May;
     And saw wel that the shadow of every tree
     Was as in lengthe of the same quantitee
     That was the body erect, that caused it;
     And therfore by the shadow he toke his wit,
     That Phebus, which that shone so clere and bright,
     Degrees was five and fourty clombe on hight;
     And for that day, as in that latitude,
     It was ten of the clok, he gan conclude."[277:1]

In the latter part of the day there is an expression used several times
in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers "between the two evenings" which has
given rise to much controversy. The lamb of the Passover was killed in
this period; so also was the lamb of the first year offered daily at the
evening sacrifice; and day by day Aaron was then commanded to light the
seven lamps and burn incense. It is also mentioned once, in no
connection with the evening sacrifice, when the Lord sent quails to the
children of Israel saying, "At even (between the two evenings) ye shall
eat flesh." In Deuteronomy, where a command is again given concerning
the Passover, it is explained that it is "at even, at the going down of
the sun." The Samaritans, the Karaite Jews, and Aben Ezra held "the two
evenings" to be the interval between the sun's setting and the entrance
of total darkness; _i. e._ between about six o'clock and seven or
half-past seven. A graphic description of the commencement of the
sabbath is given in Disraeli's novel of _Alroy_, and may serve to
illustrate this, the original, idea of "between the two evenings."

     "The dead were plundered, and thrown into the river, the
     encampment of the Hebrews completed. Alroy, with his principal
     officers, visited the wounded, and praised the valiant. The
     bustle which always succeeds a victory was increased in the
     present instance by the anxiety of the army to observe with
     grateful strictness the impending sabbath.

     "When the sun set the sabbath was to commence. The undulating
     horizon rendered it difficult to ascertain the precise moment
     of his fall. The crimson orb sunk below the purple mountains,
     the sky was flushed with a rich and rosy glow. Then might be
     perceived the zealots, proud in their Talmudical lore, holding
     the skein of white silk in their hands, and announcing the
     approach of the sabbath by their observation of its shifting
     tints. While the skein was yet golden, the forge of the
     armourers still sounded, the fire of the cook still blazed,
     still the cavalry led their steeds to the river, and still the
     busy footmen braced up their tents, and hammered at their
     palisades. The skein of silk became rosy, the armourer worked
     with renewed energy, the cook puffed with increased zeal, the
     horsemen scampered from the river, the footmen cast an
     anxious glance at the fading light.

     "The skein of silk became blue; a dim, dull, sepulchral,
     leaden tinge fell over its purity. The hum of gnats arose, the
     bat flew in circling whirls over the tents, horns sounded from
     all quarters, the sun had set, the sabbath had commenced. The
     forge was mute, the fire extinguished, the prance of horses
     and the bustle of men in a moment ceased. A deep, a sudden, an
     all-pervading stillness dropped over that mighty host. It was
     night; the sacred lamps of the sabbath sparkled in every tent
     of the camp, which vied in silence and in brilliancy with the
     mute and glowing heavens."

In later times, on account of ritualistic necessities, a different
interpretation was held. So Josephus says: "So these high-priests, upon
the coming of their feast which is called the Passover, . . . slay their
sacrifices, from the ninth hour till the eleventh."[279:1] And the
Talmud made the first evening to begin with the visible decline of the
sun and the second with sunset, or "the two evenings" to last from three
till about six. Schiaparelli gives the first evening from sunset until
the time that the newly visible lunar crescent could be seen in the
twilight sky, or about half an hour after sunset, and the second evening
from that until darkness set in, basing his argument on the directions
to Aaron to light the lamps "between the two evenings," since, he
argues, these would not be made to burn in the daylight. Probably in the
days of Moses and Aaron the period could not be defined as accurately as
this would imply, as the opportunity of seeing the new moon could only
come once a month, and we have no evidence of any mechanical
time-measurer being then in use with them.

For shorter spaces of time we have the word "moment" or "instant" many
times mentioned. The words may mean, the opening or winking of the eye,
"the twinkling of an eye," spoken of by St. Paul, in his Epistle to the
Corinthians, and do not describe any actual duration of time, or
division of the day.

The only time-measurer mentioned in the Bible is the dial of Ahaz, which
will form the subject of a later chapter. It need only be noted here
that, as it depended upon the fall of the shadow, it was of use only
whilst the sun was shining; not during cloudy weather, or at night.

As the day had three main divisions, so had also the night. There were
three "watches," each, like the watches on ship-board, about four hours
in length. So in the Psalms, "the watches" are twice put as an
equivalent for the night.

The ancient Hebrews would have no difficulty in roughly dividing the
night into three equal parts, whenever the stars could be seen. Whether
they watched "Arcturus and his sons,"--the circumpolar constellations
moving round like a vast dial in the north--or the bringing forth of
Mazzaroth, the zodiacal constellations, in the south, they would soon
learn to interpret the signs of night with sufficient accuracy for their

The first watch of night is mentioned in the book of Lamentations.

     "Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches
     pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord."

It was "in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly
set the watch," that Gideon and his gallant three hundred made their
onslaught on the host of the Midianites.

It was in the third, the morning watch, that "the Lord looked unto the
host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and
troubled the host of the Egyptians" as they pursued Israel into the
midst of the Red Sea. In this watch also, Saul surprised the Ammonites
as they besieged Jabesh-Gilead, and scattered them, "so that two of them
were not left together."

In the New Testament, the Roman method of dividing the night is adopted;
viz. into four watches. When the disciples were crossing the Sea of
Galilee in their little boat, and they had toiled all night in rowing
because the wind was contrary, it was in "the fourth watch of the night"
that Jesus came unto them.

There is no mention of any mechanical time-measurer in the Old
Testament, and in only one book is there mention in the English version
of the word "hour." Five times it is mentioned in the Book of Daniel as
the rendering of the Chaldean word _sha‘ah_, which literally means "the
instant of time."

No mention either is made of the differing lengths of the days or nights
throughout the year--at midsummer the day is 14-1/4 hours long, and the
night 9-3/4. Job speaks, however, of causing "the day-spring to know its
place," which may well refer to the varying places along the eastern
horizon at which the sun rose during the course of the year. Thus in
mid-winter the sun rose 28° south of the east point, or half a point
south of E.S.E. Similarly in midsummer it rose 28° north of east, or
half a point north of E.N.E.[282:1]

The Babylonians divided the whole day interval into twelve _kasbu_, or
"double hours." Those again were divided into sixty parts, each equal to
two of our minutes; this being about the time that is required for the
disc of the sun to rise or set wholly. The Babylonian _kasbu_ was not
only a division of time, but a division of space, signifying the space
that might be marched in a _kasbu_ of time. Similarly we find, in the
Old Testament, the expression "a day's journey," or "three days'
journey," to express distance, and in the New Testament we find the same
idea applied to a shorter distance in the "sabbath-day's journey," which
was about two miles. But the Jews in New Testament times adopted, not
the Babylonian day of twelve hours, but the Egyptian of twenty-four. So
we find, in the parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard, mention made
of hiring early in the morning, and at the third, sixth, ninth, and
eleventh hours; and since those hired latest worked for but one hour, it
is evident that there were twelve hours in the daylight. Our Lord
alludes to this expressly in the Gospel according to St. John, where he

     "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the
     day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this
     world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because
     there is no light in him."


[277:1] _The Man of Lawe's Prologue_, lines 4421-4434.

[279:1] Josephus, _Wars_, VI. ix. 3.

[282:1] See the diagram on p. 363.



The present chapter has little, if anything, to do with astronomy, for
the week, as such, is not an astronomical period. But the sabbath and
the week of seven days are so intimately connected with the laws and
customs of Israel that it is impossible to leave them out of
consideration in dealing with the "times and seasons" referred to in the

The day, the month and the year are each defined by some specific
revolution of one of the great cosmical bodies; there is in each case a
return of the earth, or of the earth and moon together, to the same
position, relative to the sun, as that held at the beginning of the

The week stands in a different category. It is not defined by any
astronomical revolution; it is defined by the return of the sabbath, the
consecrated day.

A need for the division of time into short periods, less than a month,
has been generally felt amongst civilized men. Business of state,
commercial arrangements, social intercourse, are all more easily carried
out, when some such period is universally recognized. And so, what we
may loosely term a "week," has been employed in many ancient nations.
The Aztecs, using a short month of 20 days, divided it into four
quarters of 5 days each. The Egyptians, using a conventional month of 30
days, divided it into 3 decades; and decades were also used by the
Athenians, whose months were alternately of 29 and of 30 days.

Hesiod tells us that the days regarded as sacred in his day were the
fourth, fourteenth and twenty-fourth of each month.

     "The fourth and twenty-fourth, no grief should prey
      Within thy breast, for holy either day.

           *       *       *       *       *

      Pierce on the fourth thy cask; the fourteenth prize
      As holy; and, when morning paints the skies,
      The twenty-fourth is best."

The Babylonians divided the month somewhat differently; the seventh,
fourteenth, nineteenth, twenty-first and twenty-eighth days being
regarded as "sabbaths."[284:1]

The sabbath enjoined upon the Hebrews was every seventh day. The week as
defined by it was a "free" week; it was tied neither to month nor year,
but ran its course uninterruptedly, quite irrespective of the longer
divisions of time. It was, therefore, a different conception from that
underlying the usages of the Greeks or Babylonians, and, it may be
added, a more reasonable and practical one.

Four origins have been assigned for the week. There are those who
assert that it is simply the closest possible approximation to the
quarter-month; the mean month being 29-1/2 days in length, a
quarter-month would be 7-3/8 days, and since fractions of a day cannot
be recognized in any practical division of time for general use, the
week of seven days forms the nearest approach to the quarter-month that
could be adopted. This is undeniably true, but it is far more likely
that such an origin would give rise to the Babylonian system than to the
Jewish one, for the Babylonian system corrected the inequality of
quarter-month and week every month, and so kept the two in harmony;
whilst the Hebrew disregarded the month altogether in the succession of
his weeks.

Next, it is asserted that the Hebrew sabbath was derived from the
Babylonian, and that "it is scarcely possible for us to doubt that we
owe the blessings decreed in the sabbath or Sunday day of rest in the
last resort to that ancient and civilized race on the Euphrates and

There are two points to be considered here. Did the Babylonians observe
their "sabbaths" as days of rest; and, were they or the Hebrews the more
likely to hand on their observances to another nation?

We can answer both these questions. As to the first, a large number of
Babylonian documents on tablets, preserved in the British Museum, have
been published by Father Strassmaier, and discussed by Prof.
Schiaparelli. In all there were 2,764 dated documents available for
examination, nearly all of them commercial and civil deeds, and
covering practically the whole period from the accession of
Nebuchadnezzar to the twenty-third year of Darius Hystaspes. This number
would give an average of 94 deeds for each day of the month; the number
actually found for the four "sabbaths," _i. e._ for the 7th, 14th, 21st
and 28th days, were 100, 98, 121 and 91 respectively. The Babylonians
evidently did not keep these days as days of rest, or of abstinence from
business, as the Jews keep their sabbath, or Christian countries their
Sunday. They cannot even have regarded it as an unlucky day, since we
find the average of contracts is rather higher for a "sabbath" than for
a common day.

The case is a little different with the 19th day of the month. This, as
the 49th day from the beginning of the previous month, was a sabbath of
sabbaths, at the end of a "week of weeks." In this case only 89
contracts are found, which is slightly below the average, though twelve
common days show a lower record still. But in most cases the date is
written, not as 19, but as 20-1; as if there were a superstition about
the number 19. On the other hand, this method of indicating the number
may be nothing more than a mode of writing; just as in our Roman
numerals, XIX., one less than XX., is written for 19.

The Babylonians, therefore, did not observe these days as days of rest,
though they seem to have marked them in the ritual of temple and court.
Nor did they make every seventh or every fifth a rest-day, for Prof.
Schiaparelli has specially examined these documents to see if they gave
any evidence of abstention from business either on one day in seven or
on one day in five, and in both cases with a purely negative result.

When we inquire which nation has been successful in impressing their
particular form of sabbath on the nations around the case is clear. We
have no evidence of the Babylonians securing the adoption of their
sabbatic arrangements by the Persians, Greeks and Parthians who
successively overcame them. It was entirely different with the Jews. The
Jewish kingdom before the Captivity was a very small one compared with
its enemies on either side--Assyria, Babylon and Egypt; it was but a
shadow even of its former self after the Return. And imperial Rome was a
mightier power than Assyria or Babylon at their greatest. If ever one
state was secure from influence by another on the score of its greater
magnitude and power, Rome was safe from any Jewish impress. Yet it is
perfectly well known that the impression made upon the Romans by the
Jews in this very matter of sabbath-keeping was widespread and deep.
Jewish influence was felt and acknowledged almost from the time that
Syria, of which Judæa was but a petty division, became a Roman province,
and a generation had not passed away before we find Horace making
jocular allusion to the spread of the recognition of the Jewish sabbath.
In his ninth satire he describes himself as being buttonholed by a bore,
and, seeing a friend pass by, as begging the latter to pretend business
with him and so relieve him of his trouble. His friend mischievously
excuses himself from talking about business:--

     "To-day's the thirtieth sabbath. Can you mean
        Thus to insult the circumcised Jews?"

Persius, in his fifth satire, speaks of those who--

     "Move their lips with silence, and with fear
      The sabbath of the circumcised revere."

Juvenal, in his fourteenth satire, describes how many Romans reverence
the sabbath; and their sons, bettering the example, turn Jews

     "Others there are, whose sire the sabbath heeds,
      And so they worship naught but clouds and sky.
      They deem swine's flesh, from which their father kept,
      No different from a man's. And soon indeed
      Are circumcised; affecting to despise
      The laws of Rome, they study, keep and fear
      The Jewish law, whate'er in mystic book
      Moses has handed down,--to show the way
      To none but he who the same rites observes,
      And those athirst to lead unto the spring
      Only if circumcised. Whereof the cause
      Was he, their sire, to whom each seventh day
      Was one of sloth, whereon he took in hand
      No part in life."

Ovid, Tibullus, and others also speak of the Jewish sabbath, not merely
as universally known, but as largely observed amongst the Romans, so
that it obtained almost a public recognition, whilst the success of
Judaism in making proselytes, until Christianity came into rivalry with
it, is known to every one.

As to the general influence of Judaism in securing the recognition of
the week with its seventh day of rest, the testimony of Josephus is

     "The multitude of mankind itself have had a great inclination
     of a long time to follow our religious observances; for there
     is not any city of the Grecians, nor any of the barbarians,
     nor any nation whatsoever, whither our custom of resting on
     the seventh day hath not come, and by which our fasts and
     lighting up lamps, and many of our prohibitions as to our
     food, are not observed; they also endeavour to imitate our
     mutual concord with one another, and the charitable
     distribution of our goods, and our diligence in our trades,
     and our fortitude in undergoing the distresses we are in, on
     account of our laws; and, what is here matter of the greatest
     admiration, our law hath no bait of pleasure to allure men to
     it, but it prevails by its own force; and as God Himself
     pervades all the world, so hath our law passed through all the
     world also."[289:1]

Philo, the Jew, bears equally distinct testimony to the fact that
wheresoever the Jews were carried in their dispersion, their laws and
religious customs, especially their observance of every seventh day,
attracted attention, and even secured a certain amount of acceptance.
The Jews, therefore, even when, as a nation, they were ruined and
crushed, proved themselves possessed of such vital force, of such
tenacity, as to impress their conquerors with interest in, and respect
for, their sabbatic customs. Of their tenacity and force in general, of
their power to influence the nations amongst whom they have been
scattered, the history of the last two thousand five hundred years is
eloquent. It is not reasonable, nor scientific, to suppose that this
nation, steel since it returned from its captivity in Babylon, was wax

But the third suggestion as to the origin of the week of seven
days,--that it was derived from the influence of the planets,--makes the
matter clearer still. This suggestion has already been noticed in the
chapter on "Saturn and Astrology." It is sufficient to say here that it
presupposes a state of astronomical advancement not attained until long
after the sabbath was fully known. The Babylonians did observe the seven
planets, but there is no trace of their connection with the Babylonian
week. But when the Greek astronomers had worked out that system of the
planetary motions which we call after Ptolemy, and the planets had been
fitted by the Alexandrian observers to the days of the Jewish week and
the hours of the Egyptian day, then the Babylonian astrologers also
adopted the mongrel combination. Thus indirectly Babylon received the
free week from the Jews, and did not give it.

     "The oldest use of the free and uniform week is found among
     the Jews, who had only a most imperfect knowledge of the
     planets. The identity of the number of the days in the week
     with that of the planets is purely accidental, and it is not
     permissible to assert that the former number is derived from
     the latter."[290:1]

     "Carried by the Jews into their dispersion, adopted by the
     Chaldæan astrologers for use in their divinations, received by
     Christianity and Islam, this cycle" (the free week of seven
     days), "so convenient and so useful for chronology, has now
     been adopted throughout the world. Its use can be traced back
     for about 3,000 years, and there is every reason to believe
     that it will last through the centuries to come, resisting the
     madness of useless novelty and the assaults of present and
     future iconoclasts."[290:2]

The fourth account of the origin of the week is that given us in the
Bible itself.

     "In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all
     that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the
     Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it."

The institution of the sabbath day is the crown of the work of creation,
the key to its purpose. Other times and seasons are marked out by the
revolutions and conjunctions of the heavenly bodies. This day is set
apart directly by God Himself; it is His express handiwork,--"the day
which the Lord hath made."

The great truth taught in the first chapter of Genesis is that God is
the One Reality. All that we can see above or around was made by Him. He
alone is God.

And His creative work has a definite goal to which its several details
all lead up--the creation of man, made in the image of God.

As such, man has a higher calling than that of the beasts that perish.
The chief object of their lives is to secure their food; their
aspirations extend no further. But he is different; he has higher wants,
nobler aspirations. How can they be met?

The earth was created to form an abode suitable for man; the varied
forms of organic life were brought into existence to prepare the way for
and minister to him. For what was man himself made, and made in the
image of God, but that he might know God and have communion with Him?
To this the sabbath day gave the call, and for this it offered the

     "For what are men better than sheep or goats,
      That nourish a blind life within the brain,
      If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer?"


[284:1] This is learnt from a single tablet of a Babylonian Calendar
(preserved in the British Museum), which unfortunately contains one
month only.

[285:1] _Babel and Bible_, Dr. Fried. Delitzsch, Johns' Translation, pp.
40, 41.

[289:1] _Flavius Josephus against Apion_, book ii. 40.

[290:1] Schiaparelli, _Astronomy in the Old Testament_, p. 135.

[290:2] _Ibid._, p. 133.



The shortest natural division of time is the day. Next in length comes
the month.

As was pointed out in the chapter on the Moon, the Hebrews used two
expressions for month--_Chodesh_, from a root meaning "to be new"; and
_Yerach_, from the root meaning "to be pale."

_Chodesh_ is the word most commonly employed, and this, in itself, is
sufficient to show that the Hebrew calendar month was a lunar one. But
there are, besides, too many references to the actual new moons for
there to be any doubt on the question.

Every seventh day was commanded to be held as a sabbath of rest, and on
it were sacrificed four lambs, instead of the two offered up, the one at
the morning and the other at the evening sacrifice of the six working
days. But the new moons are also mentioned as holy days, and are coupled
with the sabbaths. The husband of the Shunamite asked her why she wished
to go to Elisha, as "it is neither new moon, nor sabbath." Isaiah,
speaking in the name of the Lord, says--

     "The new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I
     cannot away with; . . . your new moons and your appointed
     feasts My soul hateth"; and again, "From one new moon to
     another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come
     to worship."

Amos speaks of degenerate Israel, that they say--

     "When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and
     the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat?"

As late as Apostolic times, St. Paul refers to the feasts of the new
moons, saying, "Let no man therefore judge you . . . in respect . . . of
the new moon."

The ordinances respecting the observance of the new moons--the
"beginnings of months"--were explicit. Trumpets were blown over the
burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of the peace offerings, and the
nature of these offerings is given in detail in the twenty-eighth
chapter of the Book of Numbers. The ordinances were reiterated and
emphasized in the days of David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Ezekiel, Ezra and
Nehemiah. Amongst the Jews of the present day the trumpets are not blown
at new moons; extra prayers are read, but the burnt and peace offerings
are of necessity omitted.

Beside the "new moons" and the sabbaths, the ancient Hebrews had three
great festivals, all defined as to the time of their celebration by the
natural months.

The first was the Feast of the Passover, which lasted a week, and began
with the killing of a lamb "between the two evenings"; on the 14th day
of the month Abib, the first month of the year--that is to say, on the
evening that the first moon of the year became full. This feast
corresponded to our Easter. The second was that of Pentecost, and was
bound to the Feast of the Passover by being appointed to occur seven
weeks after the consecration of the harvest season by the offering of
the sheaf on the second day of the Passover. We still celebrate the
Feast of Pentecost, or Whitsunday, keeping it in remembrance of the
birthday of the Christian Church. This feast lasted but a single day,
and did not occur at either the new or the full of the moon, but nearly
at first quarter.

The third festival was threefold in its character. It began with special
sacrifices besides those usually offered at the new moon:--

     "In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall
     have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a
     day of blowing of trumpets unto you."

This then was especially dependent on the new moon, being on the first
day of the month.

On the 10th day of the month was the Day of Atonement, when the people
should afflict their souls. On the 15th day of the month began the Feast
of Tabernacles, which commenced on the night that the moon was full, and
lasted for a week.

We have no special religious seasons in the Christian Church to
correspond with these.

We thus see that with the Hebrews all the days of the new moons, and two
days of full moon (in the first and in the seventh months), were days
for which special ordinances were imposed. And there is no doubt that
the beginnings of the new months were obtained by direct observation of
the moon, when weather or other conditions permitted, not by any rule of
thumb computation. The new moon observed was, necessarily, not the new
moon as understood in the technical language of astronomy; _i. e._ the
moment when the moon is in "conjunction" with the sun, having its dark
side wholly turned towards the earth, and being in consequence
completely invisible. "The new moon" as mentioned in the Scriptures, and
as we ordinarily use the term, is not this conjunction, but the first
visible crescent of the moon when it has drawn away from the sun
sufficiently to be seen after sunset for a short time, in the twilight,
before it sets; for the moon when very slender cannot be seen in
daylight. It may, therefore, be first seen any time between about 18
hours and 40 hours after its conjunction with the sun; in other words,
it may be first seen on one of two evenings. But for the ecclesiastical
rites it was necessary that there should be an authoritative declaration
as to the time of the commencement of the month, and, moreover, the
great feasts were fixed for certain days in the month, and so were
dependent on its beginning.

During the period of the Jewish restoration, up to the destruction of
Jerusalem by Titus, the Sanhedrim used to sit in the "Hall of Polished
Stones" to receive the testimony of credible witnesses that they had
seen the new moon. If the new moon had appeared at the commencement of
the 30th day--corresponding to our evening of the 29th--the Sanhedrim
declared the previous month "imperfect," or consisting only of 29 days.
If credible witnesses had not appeared to testify to the appearance of
the new moon on the evening of the 29th, the next evening, _i. e._ that
of the 30th--according to our mode of reckoning--was taken as the
commencement of the new month, and the previous month was then declared
to be "full," or of 30 days.

Early in the Christian era, it was enacted that no testimony should be
received from unknown persons, because, says the Talmud, the Baithusites
wished to impose on the Mishnic Rabbis, and hired two men to do so for
four hundred pieces of silver.

It is clear, therefore, that about the time of the Christian era the
beginnings of the months were determined astronomically from the actual
observation of the new moons, and we may safely conclude that it was the
same also from the earliest times. It was the actual new moon, not any
theoretical or fictitious new moon, that regulated the great festivals,
and, as we have seen, there was often some considerable uncertainty
possible in the fixing of the dates. The witnesses might give
conflicting testimony, and the authoritative date might be proved to be
in fault. We have an instance of such conflicting authority in the
different dating, on one occasion, of the Day of Atonement by the Rabbi
Yehoshua, and Rabbon Gamaliel, the president of the Sanhedrim, grandson
of the Gamaliel at whose feet Paul sat.

According to a statement in the Mishna, dating from the second century
of our era, the appearance of the new moon at Jerusalem was signalled to
Babylonia during the century preceding the destruction of the Holy City
by Titus, and perhaps from earlier times. The dispersion of the Jews
had therefore presented them with an additional difficulty in fixing the
beginning of their months. The problem is much more intricate to-day,
seeing that the Jews are dispersed over the whole world, and the new
moon, first visible on one evening at Jerusalem, might be seen the
evening before, according to the reckoning of places west of Jerusalem,
or might be invisible until the following evening, according to the
reckoning of places east of it. We have the same problem to solve in
finding the date of Easter Sunday. The Prayer Book rule for finding it
runs thus:--

     "Easter day is always the first Sunday after the full moon
     which happens upon, or next after, the 21st day of March; and
     if the full moon happens on a Sunday, Easter day is the Sunday

But the "moon" we choose for the ecclesiastical calendar is an imaginary
body, which is so controlled by specially constructed tables as to be
"full" on a day not differing by more than two or three days at most
from the date on which the actual moon is full. This may seem, at first
sight, a very clumsy arrangement, but it has the advantage of defining
the date of Easter precisely, without introducing any question as to the
special meridian where the moon might be supposed to be observed. Thus,
in 1905, the moon was full at 4{h} 56{m} Greenwich mean time on the
morning of March 21. But Easter Day was not fixed for March 26, the next
Sunday following that full moon, but a month later, for April 23. For
the calendar moon, the imaginary moon, was full on March 20; and it may
be added that the actual moon, though full on March 21 for European
time, was full on March 20 for American time. There would have been an
ambiguity, therefore, if the actual moon had been taken, according to
the country in which it was observed, an ambiguity which is got rid of
by adopting a technical or imaginary moon.

The names given to the different months in Scripture have an interest of
their own. For the most part the months are simply numbered; the month
of the Passover is the first month, and the others follow, as the
second, third, fourth, etc., throughout the year; examples of each
occurring right up to the twelfth month. There is no mention of a
thirteenth month.

But occasionally we find names as well as numbers given to the months.
The first of these is Abib, meaning the month of "green ears." This was
the first month, the month of the Passover, and it received its name no
doubt from the first green ears of barley offered before the Lord during
the feast that followed the Passover.

The second month was called Zif, "splendour"; apparently referring to
the splendour of the flowers in full spring time. It is mentioned
together with two other names, Ethanim, the seventh month, and Bul, the
eighth month, in the account of the building and dedication of Solomon's
Temple. The last two are certainly Phœnician names, having been found
on Phœnician inscriptions; the first is possibly Phœnician also. Their
occurrence in this special connection was no doubt a result of the very
large part taken in the building of the Temple and the construction of
its furniture by the workmen of Hiram, king of Tyre. The Phœnician
names of the months would naturally appear in the contracts and accounts
for the work, side by side with the Hebrew equivalents; just as an
English contractor to-day, in negotiating for a piece of work to be
carried out in Russia, would probably take care to use the dating both
of the Russian old style calendar, and of the English new style. The
word used for month in these cases is generally, not _chodesh_, the
month as beginning with the new moon, but _yerach_, as if the chronicler
did not wish them to be understood as having been determined by Jewish
authorities or methods. In one case, however, _chodesh_ is used in
connection with the month Zif.

The other instances of names for the months are Nisan, Sivan, Elul,
Chisleu, Tebeth, Sebat, and Adar, derived from month names in use in
Babylonia, and employed only in the books of Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, and
Zechariah, all avowedly post-exilic writers. The month word used in
connection with them is _chodesh_--since the Babylonian months were also
lunar--except in the single case where Ezra used a month name, terming
it _yerach_. The other post-exilic writers or editors of the books of
Holy Scripture would seem to have been at some pains to omit all
Babylonian month names. These Babylonian month names continue to be used
in the Jewish calendar of to-day.

In four places in Scripture mention is made of a month of days, the word
for month being in two cases _chodesh_, and in two, _yerach_. Jacob,
when he came to Padan-aram, abode with Laban for "the space of a
month," before his crafty uncle broached the subject of his wages. This
may either merely mean full thirty days, or the term _chodesh_ may
possibly have a special appropriateness, as Laban may have dated Jacob's
service so as to commence from the second new moon after his arrival.
Again, when the people lusted for flesh in the wilderness, saying, "Who
shall give us flesh to eat?" the Lord promised to send them flesh--

     "And ye shall eat. Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor
     five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days, but even a whole
     month. . . . And there went forth a wind from the Lord, and
     brought quails from the sea."

     "He rained flesh also upon them as dust,
      And feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea."

The "whole month" in this case was evidently a full period of thirty
days, irrespective of the particular phase of the moon when it began and

Amongst the Babylonians the sign for the word month was xxx, expressing
the usual number of days that it contained, and without doubt amongst
the Hebrews that was the number of days originally assigned to the
month, except when the interval between two actually observed new moons
was found to be twenty-nine. In later times it was learned that the
length for the lunation lay between twenty-nine and thirty days, and
that these lengths for the month must be alternate as a general rule.
But in early times, if a long spell of bad weather prevented direct
observation of the new moon, we cannot suppose that anything less than
thirty days would be assigned to each month.

Such a long spell of bad observing weather did certainly occur on one
occasion in the very early days of astronomy, and we accordingly find
that such was the number of days allotted to several consecutive months,
though the historian was evidently in the habit of observing the new
moon, for _chodesh_ is the word used to express these months of thirty

We are told that--

     "In the six hundreth year of Noah's life, in the second month,
     the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the
     fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of
     heaven were opened."

And later that--

     "After the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were
     abated. And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the
     seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat."

The five months during which the waters prevailed upon the earth were,
therefore, reckoned as of thirty days each. If all the new moons, or
even that of the seventh month, had been actually observed, this event
would have been ascribed to the nineteenth day of the month, since 150
days is five months and two days; but in the absence of such
observations a sort of "dead reckoning" was applied, which would of
course be corrected directly the return of clear weather gave an
opportunity for observing the new moon once again.

A similar practice was followed at a much later date in Babylon, where
astronomy is supposed to have been highly developed from remote
antiquity. Thus an inscription recently published by Dr. L. W. King
records that--

     "On the 26th day of the month Sivan, in the seventh year, the
     day was turned into night, and fire in the midst of heaven."

This has been identified by Mr. P. H. Cowell, F.R.S., Chief Assistant at
the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, as the eclipse of the sun that was
total at Babylon on July 31, B.C. 1063. The Babylonians, when bad
weather obliged them to resort to dead reckoning, were, therefore, still
reckoning the month as precisely thirty days so late as the times of
Samuel and Saul, and in this particular instance were two, if not three,
days out in their count. Had the new moon of Sivan been observed, or
correctly calculated, the eclipse must have been reckoned as falling on
the 28th or 29th day of the month.

The Athenians in the days of Solon, five hundred years later than this,
adopted months alternately twenty-nine and thirty days in length, which
gives a result very nearly correct.

The Jews after the Dispersion adopted the system of thus alternating the
lengths of their months, and with some slight modifications it holds
good to the present day. As will be shown in the following chapter, the
ordinary years are of twelve months, but seven years in every nineteen
are "embolismic," having an extra month. The names employed are those
learned during the Babylonian captivity, and the year begins with the
month Tishri, corresponding to September-October of our calendar. The
lengths of most of the months are fixed as given in the following
table, but any adjustment necessary can be effected either by adding one
day to Heshvan, which has usually twenty-nine days, or taking away one
day from Kislev, which has usually thirty--

                    ORDINARY YEAR             EMBOLISMIC YEAR
                         DAYS                       DAYS
     Tishri               30                         30
     Heshvan              29 +                       29 +
     Kislev               30 -                       30 -
     Tebeth               29                         29
     Shebat               30                         30
     Adar                 29                         30
     Ve-adar             ...                         29
     Nisan                30                         30
     Yiar                 29                         29
     Sivan                30                         30
     Tamuz                29                         29
     Ab                   30                         30
     Elul                 29                         29

The Jewish month, therefore, continues to be essentially a true lunar
one, though the exact definition of each month is, to some extent,
conventional, and the words of the Son of Sirach still apply to the
Hebrew calendar--

     "The moon also is in all things for her season,
      For a declaration of times, and a sign of the world.
      From the moon is the sign of the feast day;
      A light that waneth when she is come to the full."

For so God--

     "Appointed the moon for seasons."



The third great natural division of time is the year, and, like the day
and the month, it is defined by the relative apparent movements of the
heavenly bodies.

As the Rabbi Aben Ezra pointed out, _shanah_, the ordinary Hebrew word
used for year, expresses the idea of _annus_ or _annulus_, a closed
ring, and therefore implies that the year is a complete solar one. A
year, that is purely lunar, consists of twelve lunations, amounting to
354 days. Such is the year that the Mohammedans use; and since it falls
short of a solar year of 365 days by 10 or 11 days, its beginning moves
backwards rather rapidly through the seasons.

The Jews used actual lunations for their months, but their year was one
depending on the position of the sun, and their calendar was therefore a
luni-solar one. But lunations cannot be made to fit in exactly into a
solar year--12 lunations are some 11 days short of one year; 37
lunations are 2 or 3 days too long for three years--but an approximation
can be made by giving an extra month to every third year; or more nearly
still by taking 7 years in every 19 as years of 13 months each. This
thirteenth month is called an intercalary month, and in the present
Jewish calendar it is the month Adar which is reduplicated under the
name of Ve-Adar. But, though from the necessity of the case, this
intercalation, from time to time, of a thirteenth month must have been
made regularly from the first institution of the feast of unleavened
bread, we find no allusion, direct or indirect, in the Hebrew Scriptures
to any such custom.

Amongst the Babylonians a year and a month were termed "full" when they
contained 13 months and 30 days respectively, and "normal" or
"incomplete" when they contained but 12 months or 29 days. The
succession of full and normal years recurred in the same order, at
intervals of nineteen years. For 19 years contain 6939 days 14-1/2
hours; and 235 months, 6939 days 16-1/2 hours; the two therefore
differing only by about a couple of hours. The discovery of this cycle
is attributed to Meton, about 433 B.C., and it is therefore known as the
Metonic cycle. It supplies the "Golden Numbers" of the introduction to
the Book of Common Prayer.

There are two kinds of solar years, with which we may have to do in a
luni-solar calendar--the tropical or equinoctial year, and the sidereal
year. The tropical year is the interval from one season till the return
of that season again--spring to spring, summer to summer, autumn to
autumn, or winter to winter. It is defined as the time included between
two successive passages of the sun through the vernal equinox, hence it
is also called the equinoctial year. Its length is found to be 365 days,
5 hours, 49 minutes, and some ancient astronomers derived its length as
closely as 365 days, 6 hours, by observing the dates when the sun set at
exactly the opposite part of the horizon to that where it rose.

The sidereal year is the time occupied by the sun in apparently
completing the circuit of the heavens from a given star to the same star
again. The length of the sidereal year is 365 days, 6 hours, 9 minutes.
In some cases the ancients took the sidereal year from the "heliacal"
risings or settings of stars, that is from the interval between the time
when a bright star was first seen in the morning just before the sun
rose, until it was first so seen again; or last seen just after the sun
set in the evening, until it was last so seen again.

But to connect the spring new moon with the day when the sun has
returned to the equinox is a more difficult and complicated matter. The
early Hebrews would seem to have solved the problem practically, by
simply watching the progress of the growing grain. If at one new moon in
spring time it appeared clear that some of the barley would be ready in
a fortnight for the offering of the green ears at the feast of
unleavened bread, then that was taken as beginning the new year. If it
appeared doubtful if it would be ready, or certain that it would not be,
then the next new moon was waited for. This method was sufficient in
primitive times, and so long as the nation of Israel remained in its own
land. In the long run, it gave an accurate value for the mean tropical
year, and avoided all the astronomical difficulties of the question. It
shows the early Hebrews as practical men, for the solution adopted was
easy, simple and efficient. This practical method of determining the
beginning of the year amongst the early Hebrews, does not appear to have
been the one in use amongst the Babylonians either early or late in
their history. The early Babylonians used a sidereal year, as will be
shown shortly. The later Babylonians used a tropical year dependent on
the actual observation of the spring equinox.

To those who have no clocks, no telescopes, no sundials, no instruments
of any kind, there are two natural epochs at which the day might begin;
at sunrise, the beginning of daylight; and at sunset, the beginning of
darkness. Similarly, to all nations which use the tropical year, whether
their calendar is dependent on the sun alone, or on both sun and moon,
there are two natural epochs at which the year may begin; at the spring
equinox, the beginning of the bright half of the year, when the sun is
high in the heavens, and all nature is reviving under its heat and
light; and at the autumn equinox, the beginning of the dark half of the
year, when the sun is low in the heavens, and all nature seems dying. As
a nation becomes more highly equipped, both in the means of observing,
and in knowledge, it may not retain either of these epochs as the actual
beginning of its year, but the determination of the year still rests
directly or indirectly upon the observation of the equinoxes.

At the exodus from Egypt, in the month Abib, the children of Israel were
commanded in these words--

     "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it
     shall be the first month of the year to you."

This command may have abolished and reversed the previously existing
calendar, or it may have related solely to the ecclesiastical calendar,
and the civil calendar may have been still retained with a different
epoch of commencement.

An inquiry into the question as to whether there is evidence in
Scripture of the use of a double calendar, shows that in every case that
the Passover is mentioned it is as being kept in the first month, except
when Hezekiah availed himself of the regulation which permitted its
being kept in the second month. Since the Passover was a spring feast,
this links the beginning of the year to the spring time. Similarly the
feast of Tabernacles, which is an autumn festival, is always mentioned
as being held in the seventh month.

These feasts would naturally be referred to the ecclesiastical calendar.
But the slight evidences given in the civil history point the same way.
Thus some men joined David at Ziklag during the time of his persecution
by Saul, "in the first month." This was spring time, for it is added
that Jordan had overflowed all its banks. Similarly, the ninth month
fell in the winter: for it was as he "sat in the winter-house in the
ninth month, and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him" that
king Jehoiakim took the prophecy of Jeremiah and "cut it with the
penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth." The same
ninth month is also mentioned in the Book of Ezra as a winter month, a
time of great rain.

The same result is given by the instances in which a Babylonian month
name is interpreted by its corresponding Jewish month number. In each
case the Jewish year is reckoned as beginning with Nisan, the month of
the spring equinox.

In one case, however, two Babylonian month names do present a

In the Book of Nehemiah, in the first chapter, the writer says--

     "It came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year,
     as I was in Shushan the palace, that Hanani, one of my
     brethren,  came"--

and told him concerning the sad state of Jerusalem. In consequence of
this he subsequently approached the king on the subject "in the month
Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king."

If the twentieth year of king Artaxerxes began in the spring, Nisan,
which is a spring month, could not follow Chisleu, which is a month of
late autumn. But Artaxerxes may have dated his accession, and therefore
his regnal years, from some month between Nisan and Chisleu; or the
civil year may have been reckoned at the court of Shushan as beginning
with Tishri. It may be noted that Nehemiah does not define either of
these months in terms of the Jewish. Elsewhere, when referring to the
Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, he attributes it to the seventh month, in
accord with its place in the Mosaic calendar. An alteration of the
beginning of the year from the spring to the autumn was brought about
amongst the Jews at a later date, and was systematized in the Religious
Calendar by the Rabbis of about the fourth century A.D. Tishri begins
the Jewish year at the present day; the first day of Tishri being taken
as the anniversary of the creation of the world.

The Mishna, "The Law of the Lip," was first committed to writing in 191
A.D., and the compilation of the Babylonian Talmud, based on the Mishna,
was completed about 500 A.D. In its commentary on the first chapter of
Genesis, there is an allusion to the year as beginning in spring, for it
says that--

     "A king crowned on the twenty-ninth of Adar is considered as
     having completed the first year of his reign on the first of
     Nisan" (_i. e._ the next day). "Hence follows (observes some
     one) that the first of Nisan is the new year's day of kings,
     and that if one had reigned only one day in a year, it is
     considered as a whole year."[311:1]

It is not indicated whether this rule held good for the kings of Persia,
as well as for those of Israel. If so, and this tradition be correct,
then we cannot explain Nehemiah's reckoning by supposing that he was
counting from the month of the accession of Artaxerxes, and must assume
that a civil or court year beginning with Tishri, _i. e._ in the autumn,
was the one in question.

A further, but, as it would seem, quite an imaginary difficulty, has
been raised because the feast of ingathering, or Tabernacles, though
held in the seventh month, is twice spoken of as being "in the end of
the year," or, as it is rendered in the margin in one case, "in the
revolution of the year." This latter expression occurs again in 2 Chron.
xxiv. 23, when it is said that, "at the end of the year, the host of
Syria came up"; but in this case it probably means early spring, for it
is only of late centuries that war has been waged in the winter months.
Down to the Middle Ages, the armies always went into winter quarters,
and in the spring the kings led them out again to battle. One Hebrew
expression used in Scripture means the return of the year, as applied to
the close of one and the opening of another year. This is the expression
employed in the Second Book of Samuel, and of the First Book of
Chronicles, where it is said "after the year was expired, at the time
when kings go forth to battle," implying that in the time of David the
year began in the spring. The same expression, no doubt in reference to
the same time of the year, is also used in connection with the warlike
expeditions of Benhadad, king of Syria, and of Nebuchadnezzar, king of

It is admitted that the Feast of Tabernacles was held in the autumn, and
in the seventh month. The difficulty lies in the question of how it
could be said to be "in the end of the year," "at the year's end,"
although it is clear from the cases just cited that these and similar
expressions are merely of a general character, as we ourselves might
say, "when the year came round," and do not indicate any rigid
connection with a specific date of the calendar.

We ourselves use several years and calendars, without any confusion. The
civil year begins, at midnight, on January 1; the financial year on
April 1; the ecclesiastical year with Advent, about December 1; the
scholastic year about the middle of September, and so on. As the word
"year" expresses with ourselves many different usages, there is no
reason to attribute to the Jews the extreme pedantry of invariably using
nothing but precise definitions drawn from their ecclesiastical

The services of the Tabernacle and the Temple were--with the exception
of the slaying of the Paschal lambs--all comprised within the hours of
daylight; there was no offering before the morning sacrifice, none after
the evening sacrifice. So, too, the Mosaic law directed all the great
feasts to be held in the summer half of the year, the light half; none
in the winter. The Paschal full moon was just after the spring equinox;
the harvest moon of the Feast of Tabernacles as near as possible to the
autumn equinox. Until the introduction, after the Captivity, of the
Feast of Purim in the twelfth month, the month Adar, the ecclesiastical
year might be said to end with those seven days of joyous "camping-out"
in the booths built of the green boughs; just as all the great days of
the Christian year lie between Advent and the octave of Pentecost,
whilst the "Sundays after Trinity" stretch their length through six
whole months. There is, therefore, no contradiction between the command
in Exod. xii., to make Abib, the month of the Passover, the first month,
and the references elsewhere in Exodus to the Feast of Ingathering as
being in "the end of the year." It was at the end of the agricultural
year; it was also at the end of the period of feasts. So, if a workman
is engaged for a day's work, he comes in the morning, and goes home in
the evening, and expects to be paid as he leaves; no one would ask him
to complete the twenty-four hours before payment and dismissal. It is
the end of his day; though, like the men in the parable of the Labourers
in the Vineyard, he has only worked twelve hours out of the twenty-four.
In the same way the Feast of Tabernacles, though in the seventh month,
was in "the end of the year," both from the point of view of the farmer
and of the ordinances of the sacred festivals.

The method employed in very early times in Assyria and Babylonia for
determining the first month of the year was a simple and effective one,
the principle of which may be explained thus: If we watch for the
appearance of the new moon in spring time, and, as we see it setting in
the west, notice some bright star near it, then 12 months later we
should see the two together again; but with this difference, that the
moon and star would be seen together, not on the first, but on the
second evening of the month. For since 12 lunar months fall short of a
solar year by 11 days, the moon on the first evening would be about 11
degrees short of her former position. But as she moves about 13 degrees
in 24 hours, the next evening she would practically be back in her old
place. In the second year, therefore, moon and star would set together
on the second evening of the first month; and in like manner they would
set together on the third evening in the third year; and, roughly
speaking, on the fourth evening of the fourth year. But this last
conjunction would mean that they would also set together on the first
evening of the next month, which would thus be indicated as the true
first month of the year. Thus when moon and star set together on the
third evening of a month, thirteen months later they would set together
on the first evening of a month. Thus the setting together of moon and
star would not only mark which was to be first month of the year, but if
they set together on the first evening it would show that the year then
beginning was to be an ordinary one of 12 months; if on the third
evening, that the year ought to be a full one of 13 months.

This was precisely the method followed by the Akkadians some 4000 years
ago. For Prof. Sayce and Mr. Bosanquet translate an old tablet in
Akkadian as follows:--

     "When on the first day of the month _Nisan_ the star of stars
     (or _Dilgan_) and the moon are parallel, that year is normal.
     When on the third day of the month _Nisan_ the star of stars
     and the moon are parallel, that year is full."[315:1]

The "star of stars" of this inscription is no doubt the bright star
Capella, and the year thus determined by the setting together of the
moon and Capella would begin on the average with the spring equinox
about 2000 B.C.

When Capella thus marked the first month of the year, the "twin stars,"
Castor and Pollux, marked the second month of the year in just the same
way. A reminiscence of this circumstance is found in the signs for the
first two months; that for the first month being a crescent moon "lying
on its back;" that for the second month a pair of stars.

The significance of the crescent being shown as lying on its back is
seen at once when it is remembered that the new moon is differently
inclined to the horizon according to the time of the year when it is
seen. It is most nearly upright at the time of the autumn equinox; it is
most nearly horizontal, "lying on its back," at the spring equinox. It
is clear from this symbol, therefore, that the Babylonians began their
year in the spring.


This method, by which the new moon was used as a kind of pointer for
determining the return of the sun to the neighbourhood of a particular
star at the end of a solar year, is quite unlike anything that
commentators on the astronomical methods of the ancients have supposed
them to have used. But we know from the ancient inscription already
quoted that it was actually used; it was eminently simple; it was bound
to have suggested itself wherever a luni-solar year, starting from the
observed new moon, was used. Further, it required no instruments or
star-maps; it did not even require a knowledge of the constellations;
only of one or two conspicuous stars. Though rough, it was perfectly
efficient, and would give the mean length of the year with all the
accuracy that was then required.


(From a photograph by Messrs. W. A. Mansell.)]

But it had one drawback, which the ancients could not have been expected
to foresee. The effect of "precession," alluded to in the chapter on
"The Origin of the Constellations," p. 158, would be to throw the
beginning of the year, as thus determined, gradually later and later in
the seasons,--roughly speaking, by a day in every seventy years,--and
the time came, no doubt, when it was noticed that the terrestrial
seasons no longer bore their traditional relation to the year. This
probably happened at some time in the seventh or eighth centuries before
our era, and was connected with the astronomical revolution that has
been alluded to before; when the ecliptic was divided into twelve equal
divisions, not associated with the actual stars, the Signs were
substituted for the Constellations of the Zodiac, and the Ram was taken
as the leader instead of the Bull. The equinox was then determined by
direct measurement of the length of the day and night; for a tablet of
about this period records--

     "On the sixth day of the month Nisan the day and night were
     equal. The day was six double-hours (_kasbu_), and the night
     was six double-hours."

So long as Capella was used as the indicator star, so long the year must
have begun with the sun in Taurus, the Bull; but when the re-adjustment
was made, and the solar tropical year connected with the equinox was
substituted for the sidereal year connected with the return of the sun
to a particular star, it would be seen that the association of the
beginning of the year with the sun's presence in any given constellation
could no longer be kept up. The necessity for an artificial division of
the zodiac would be felt, and that artificial division clearly was not
made until the sun at the spring equinox was unmistakably in Aries, the
Ram; or about 700 B.C.

The eclipse of 1063 B.C. incidentally proves that the old method of
fixing Nisan by the conjunction of the moon and Capella was then still
in use; for the eclipse took place on July 31, which is called in the
record "the 26th of Sivan." Sivan being the third month, its 26th day
could not have fallen so late, if the year had begun with the equinox;
but it would have so fallen if the Capella method were still in vogue.

There is a set of symbols repeated over and over again on Babylonian
monuments, and always given a position of eminence;--it is the so-called
"Triad of Stars," a crescent lying on its back and two stars near it.
They are seen very distinctly at the top of the photograph of the
boundary-stone from the Louvre, given on p. 318, and also immediately
above the head of the Sun-god in the photograph of the tablet from
Sippar, on p. 322. Their significance is now clear. Four thousand years
before the Christian era, the two Twin stars, Castor and Pollux, served
as indicators of the first new moon of the year, just as Capella did two
thousand years later. The "triad of stars," then, is simply a picture of
what men saw, year after year, in the sunset sky at the beginning of the
first month, six thousand years ago. It is the earliest record of an
astronomical observation that has come down to us.


How simple and easy the observation was, and how distinctly the year was
marked off by it! The month was marked off by the first sight of the new
thin crescent in the evening sky. The day was marked off by the return
of darkness, the evening hour in which, month by month, the new moon was
first observed; so that "the evening and the morning were the first
day." The year was marked off by the new moon being seen in the evening
with a bright pair of stars, the stars we still know as the "Twins;" and
the length of the year was shown by the evening of the month, when moon
and stars came together. If on the first evening, it was a year of
twelve months; if on the third, one of thirteen. There was a time when
these three observations constituted the whole of primitive astronomy.

In later days the original meaning of the "Triad of Stars" would seem to
have been forgotten, and they were taken as representing Sin, Samas, and
Istar;--the Moon, the Sun and the planet Venus. Yet now and again a hint
of the part they once played in determining the length of the year is
preserved. Thus, on the tablet now in the British Museum, and shown on
p. 322, sculptured with a scene representing the worship of the Sun-god
in the temple of Sippar, these three symbols are shown with the
explanatory inscription:--

     "The Moon-god, the Sun-god, and Istar, dwellers in the abyss,
      Announce to the years what they are to expect;"

possibly an astrological formula, but it may well mean--"announce
whether the years should expect twelve or thirteen months."

As already pointed out, this method had one drawback; it gave a sidereal
year, not a tropical year, and this inconvenience must have been
discovered, and Capella substituted for the Twin stars, long before the
giving of the Law to Israel. The method employed by the priests of
watching the progress of the ripening of the barley overcame this
difficulty, and gave a year to Israel which, on the average, was a
correct tropical one.

There is a detail in the history of the flood in Gen. vii. and viii.
which has been taken by some as meant to indicate the length of the
tropical year.

     "In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second
     month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all
     the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of
     heaven were opened."

     "And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, . . .
     in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the
     month, was the earth dried."

The interval from the commencement of the deluge to its close was
therefore twelve lunar months and ten days; _i. e._ 364 or 365 days.
The beginning of the rain would, no doubt, be sharply marked; the end of
the drying would be gradual, and hence the selection of a day exactly
(so far as we can tell) a full tropical year from the beginning of the
flood would seem to be intentional. A complete year had been consumed by
the judgment.

No such total interruption of the kindly succession of the seasons shall
ever occur again:--

     "While the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest, and cold
     and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not

The rain is no longer for judgment, but for blessing:--

     "Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it,
      Thou greatly enrichest it;
      The river of God is full of water:
      Thou providest them corn, when Thou hast so prepared the earth.
      Thou waterest her furrows abundantly;
      Thou settlest the ridges thereof:
      Thou makest it soft with showers;
      Thou blessest the springing thereof.
      Thou crownest the year with Thy goodness."


[311:1] P. I. Hershon, _Genesis with a Talmudical Commentary_, p. 30.

[315:1] _Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society_, vol. xxxix.
p. 455.



The principle of the week with its sabbath of rest was carried partially
into the month, and completely into the year. The seventh month of the
year was marked out pre-eminently by the threefold character of its
services, though every seventh month was not distinguished. But the
weekly sabbath was expressed not only in days but in years, and was one
both of rest and of release.

The sabbath of years was first enjoined from Mount Sinai, in the third
month after the departure from Egypt, certainly within a day or so, if
not on the actual day, of the second great feast of the year, variously
known to the Hebrews as the Feast of Firstfruits, or the Feast of Weeks,
and to us as Pentecost, that is Whitsuntide. It is most shortly given in
Exod. xxi. 2, and xxiii. 10, 11:--

     "If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and
     in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing."

     "Six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the
     fruits thereof: but the seventh year thou shalt let it rest
     and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what
     they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner
     thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard."

These laws are given at greater length and with fuller explanation in
the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Leviticus. In addition there is
given a promise of blessing for the fulfilment of the laws, and, in the
twenty-sixth chapter, a sign to follow on their breach.

     "If ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold,
     we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase: then I will
     command My blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall
     bring forth fruit for three years. And ye shall sow the eighth
     year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year: until her
     fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store."

     "Ye shall keep My sabbaths . . . and if ye walk contrary unto
     Me . . . I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw
     out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and
     your cities waste. Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as
     long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies' land;
     even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths. As long
     as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in
     your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it."

In the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy this sabbatic year
is called a year of release. The specific injunctions here relate to
loans made to a Hebrew and to a foreigner, and to the taking of a Hebrew
into bondage. The laws as to loans had direct reference to the sabbath
of the land, for since only Hebrews might possess the Holy Land,
interest on a debt might not be exacted from a Hebrew in the sabbatic
year, as the land did not then yield him wherewith he might pay. But
loans to foreigners would be necessarily for commercial, not
agricultural, purposes, and since commerce was not interdicted in the
sabbatic year, interest on loans to foreigners might be exacted.
Warning was given that the loans to a poor Hebrew should not be withheld
because the sabbatic year was close at hand. The rules with respect to
the Hebrew sold for debt into bondage are the same as those given in the
Book of the Exodus.

In Deuteronomy it was also enjoined that--

     "at the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year
     of release, in the Feast of Tabernacles" (that is, in the
     feast of the seventh month), "when all Israel is come to
     appear before the Lord thy God in the place which He shall
     choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their

We find no more mention of the sabbatic year until the reign of
Zedekiah, the last king of Judah. He had made a covenant with all the
people which were at Jerusalem, to proclaim liberty unto them, that
every Hebrew bondservant should go free, but the princes and all the
people caused their Hebrew bondservants to return and be in subjection
to them. Then Jeremiah the prophet was sent to remind them of the
covenant made with their fathers when they were brought out from the
land of Egypt, from the house of bondmen; and in the Second Book of
Chronicles it is said that the sign of the breaking of this covenant,
already quoted from the Book of Leviticus, was being accomplished. The
Captivity was--

     "to fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah,
     until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she
     lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil three-score and ten

After the exile, we find one reference to the sabbatic year in the
covenant sealed by the princes, Levites, and priests and people, in the
Book of Nehemiah:--

     "That we would leave the seventh year, and the exaction of
     every debt."

Just as the Feast of Weeks was bound to the Feast of the Passover by
numbering seven sabbaths from the day of the wave-offering--"even unto
the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days:"--so
the year of Jubilee was bound to the sabbatic year:--

     "Thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven
     times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of
     years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. Then shalt thou
     cause the trumpet of the Jubile to sound on the tenth day of
     the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the
     trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow
     the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the
     land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a Jubile
     unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession,
     and ye shall return every man unto his family."

In this year of Jubilee all land, and village houses, and the houses of
the Levites were to revert to their original owners. These, in other
words, could be leased only, and not bought outright, the price of the
lease depending upon the number of years until the next Jubilee. A
foreigner might not buy a Hebrew outright as a bondslave; he could but
contract with him as a servant hired for a term; this contract might be
abolished by the payment of a sum dependent on the number of years until
the next year of Jubilee, and in any case the Hebrew servant and his
family must go out free at the year of Jubilee. In the last chapter of
the Book of Numbers we get a reference again to the year of Jubilee, and
indirect allusions to it are made by Isaiah, in "the acceptable year of
the Lord" when liberty should be proclaimed, and in "the year of the
redeemed." In his prophecy of the restoration of Israel, Ezekiel
definitely refers to "the year of liberty," when the inheritance that
has been granted to a servant shall return again to the prince.

The interpretation of the sabbatic year and the year of Jubilee has
greatly exercised commentators. At what season did the sabbatic year
begin? was it coterminous with the ecclesiastical year; or did it differ
from it by six months? Was the year of Jubilee held once in every
forty-nine years or once in every fifty? did it begin at the same season
as the sabbatic year? did it interrupt the reckoning of the sabbatic
year, so that a new cycle commenced immediately after the year of
Jubilee; or was the sabbatic year every seventh, irrespective of the
year of Jubilee? did the year of Jubilee always follow immediately on a
sabbatic year, or did this only happen occasionally?

The problem will be much simpler if it is borne in mind that the Law, as
originally proclaimed, was eminently practical and for practical men.
The period of pedantry, of hair-splitting, of slavery to mere
technicalities, came very late in Jewish history.

It is clear from what has been already said in the chapter on the year,
that the only calendar year in the Old Testament was the sacred one,
beginning with the month Abib or Nisan, in the spring. At the same time
the Jews, like ourselves, would occasionally refer vaguely to the
beginning, or the end, or the course of the year, without meaning to set
up any hard and fast connection with the authorized calendar.

Now it is perfectly clear that the sabbatic year cannot have begun with
the first day of the month Abib, because the first fruits were offered
on the fifteenth of that month. That being so, the ploughing and the
sowing must have taken place very considerably earlier. It is not
possible to suppose that the Hebrew farmer would plough and sow his land
in the last months of the previous year, knowing that he could not reap
during the sabbatic year.

Similarly, it seems hardly likely that it was considered as beginning
with the first of Tishri, inasmuch as the harvest festival, the Feast of
the Ingathering, or Tabernacles, took place in the middle of that month.
The plain and practical explanation is that, after the Feast of
Tabernacles of the sixth year, the farmer would not again plough, sow,
or reap his land until after the Feast of Tabernacles in the sabbatic
year. The sabbatic year, in other words, was a simple agricultural year,
and it did not correspond exactly with the ecclesiastical or with any
calendar year.

For practical purposes the sabbatic year therefore ended with the close
of the Feast of Tabernacles, when the Law was read before the whole
people according to the command of Moses; and it practically began a
year earlier.

The year of Jubilee appears in the directions of Lev. xxv. to have been
most distinctly linked to the sabbatic year.

     "The space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee
     forty and nine years, . . . and ye shall hallow the fiftieth
     year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all
     the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a Jubile unto you."

It would seem, therefore, that just as the week of days ran on
continuously, uninterrupted by any feasts or fasts, so the week of years
ran on continuously. And as the Feast of Pentecost was the 49th day from
the offering of the first-fruits on the morrow of the Passover, so the
Jubilee was the 49th year from the "morrow" of a sabbatic year; it
followed immediately after a sabbatic year. The Jubilee was thus the
49th year from the previous Jubilee; it was the 50th from the particular
sabbatic year from which the original reckoning was made.

Actually the year of Jubilee began before the sabbatic year was
completed, because the trumpet of the Jubilee was to be blown upon the
Day of Atonement, the 10th day of the seventh month--that is to say,
whilst the sabbatic year was yet in progress. Indeed, literally
speaking, this trumpet, "loud of sound," blown on the 10th day of the
seventh month, _was_ the Jubilee, that is to say, the sound of
rejoicing, the joyful sound. A difficulty comes in here. The Israelites
were commanded--

     "Ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself
     in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed. For
     it is the Jubile; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the
     increase thereof out of the field."

This would appear to mean that the Jubilee extended over a whole year
following a sabbatic year, so that the land lay fallow for two
consecutive years. But this seems negatived by two considerations. It is
expressly laid down in the same chapter (Lev. xxv. 22) that the
Israelites were to sow in the eighth year--that is to say, in the year
after a sabbatic year, and the year of Jubilee would be always a year of
this character. Further, if the next sabbatic year was the seventh after
the one preceding the Jubilee, then the land would be tilled for only
five consecutive years, not for six, though this is expressly commanded
in Lev. xxv. 3. If, on the contrary, it was tilled for six years, then
the run of the sabbatic years would be interrupted.

The explanation of this difficulty may possibly be found in the fact
that that which distinguished the year of Jubilee was something which
did not run through the whole circuit of the seasons. The land in that
year was to return to its original owners. The freehold of the land was
never sold; the land was inalienable, and in the year of Jubilee it
reverted. "In the year of this Jubile ye shall return every man unto his

It is quite clear that it could not have been left to the caprice of the
owners of property as to when this transfer took place, or as to when
such Hebrews as had fallen through poverty into slavery should be
liberated. If the time were made optional, grasping men would put it off
till the end of the year, and sooner or later that would be the general
rule. There can be no doubt that the blowing of the trumpet on the 10th
day of the seventh month was the proclamation of liberty throughout all
the land and to all the inhabitants thereof; and that the transfer of
the land must have taken place at the same time. The slave would return
to the possession of his ancestors in time to keep, as a freeman, the
Feast of Tabernacles on his own land. The four days between the great
day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles were sufficient for this
change to be carried out.

The term "Year of Jubilee" is therefore not to be taken as signifying
that the events of the Jubilee were spread over twelve months, but
simply, that it was the year in which the restoration of the Jubilee was
accomplished. We speak of the king's "coronation year," though his
coronation took place on but a single day, and the meaning that we
should attach to the phrase would depend upon the particular sense in
which we were using the word "year." Whilst, therefore, the Jubilee
itself was strictly defined by the blowing of trumpets on the 10th day
of the seventh month, it would be perfectly correct to give the title,
"year of Jubilee," to any year, no matter in what season it commenced,
that contained the day of that proclamation of liberty. It is also
correct to say that it was the fiftieth year because it was placed at
the very end of the forty-ninth year.

The difficulty still remains as to the meaning of the prohibition to sow
or reap in the year of Jubilee. The command certainly reads as if the
land was to lie fallow for two consecutive years; but it would seem an
impracticable arrangement that the poor man returning to his inheritance
should be forbidden to plough or sow until more than a twelvemonth had
elapsed, and hence that he should be forbidden to reap until nearly two
full years had run their course. It also, as already stated, seems
directly contrary to the command to sow in the eighth year, which would
also be the fiftieth. It may therefore be meant simply to emphasize the
prohibition to sow and reap in the sabbatic year immediately preceding
the Jubilee. The temptation would be great to a grasping man to get the
most he could out of the land before parting with it for ever.

In spite of the strong array of commentators who claim that the Jubilees
were to be held every fifty years as we moderns should compute it, there
can be no doubt but that they followed each other at the same interval
as every seventh sabbatic year; in other words, that they were held
every 49 years. This is confirmed by an astronomical consideration.
Forty-nine years make a convenient luni-solar cycle, reconciling the
lunar month and the tropical solar year. Though not so good as the
Metonic cycle of 19 years, it is quite a practical one, as the following
table will show:--

      3 years =  1095·73 days  :  37 months =  1092·63 days
      8   "   =  2921·94  "    :  99   "    =  2923·53  "
     11   "   =  4017·66  "    : 136   "    =  4016·16  "
     19   "   =  6939·60  "    : 235   "    =  6939·69  "
     49   "   = 17896·87  "    : 606   "    = 17895·54  "
     60   "   = 21914·53  "    : 742   "    = 21911·70  "

The cycle of 49 years would therefore be amply good enough to guide the
priestly authorities in drawing up their calendar in cases where there
was some ambiguity due to the interruption of observations of the moon,
and this was all that could be needed so long as the nation of Israel
remained in its own land.

The cycle of 8 years is added above, since it has been stated that the
Jews of Alexandria adopted this at one time from the Greeks. This was
not so good as the cycle of 11 years would have been, and not to be
compared with the combination of the two cycles in that of 19 years
ascribed to Meton. The latter cycle was adopted by the Babylonian Jews,
and forms the basis of the Jewish calendar in use to-day.



The cycle of 49 years, marked out by the return of the Jubilee, was a
useful and practical one. It supplied, in fact, all that the Hebrews, in
that age, required for the purposes of their calendar. The Babylonian
basic number, 60, would have given--as will be seen from the table in
the last chapter--a distinctly less accurate correspondence between the
month and the tropical year.

There is another way of looking at the regulations for the Jubilee,
which brings out a further significant relation. On the 10th day of the
first month of any year, the lamb was selected for the Passover. On the
10th day of the seventh month of any year was the great Day of
Atonement. From the 10th day of the first month of the first year after
a Jubilee to the next blowing of the Jubilee trumpet on the great Day of
Atonement, was 600 months, that is 50 complete lunar years. And the same
interval necessarily held good between the Passover of that first year
and the Feast of Tabernacles of the forty-ninth year. The Passover
recalled the deliverance of Israel from the bondage of Egypt; and in
like manner, the release to be given to the Hebrew slave at the year of
Jubilee was expressly connected with the memory of that national

     "For they are My servants, which I brought forth out of the
     land of Egypt: they shall not be sold as bondmen."

The day of Jubilee fell in the middle of the ecclesiastical year. From
the close of the year of Jubilee--that is to say, of the ecclesiastical
year in which the freeing, both of the bondmen and of the land, took
place--to the next day of Jubilee was 48-1/2 solar years, or--as seen
above--600 lunations, or 50 lunar years, so that there can be no doubt
that the period was expressly designed to exhibit this cycle, a cycle
which shows incidentally a very correct knowledge of the true lengths of
the lunation and solar year.

This cycle was possessed by no other nation of antiquity; therefore the
Hebrews borrowed it from none; and since they did not borrow the cycle,
neither could they have borrowed the ritual with which that cycle was

That the Hebrews possessed this knowledge throws some light upon an
incident in the early life of the prophet Daniel.

     "In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah
     came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and
     besieged it. . . . And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master
     of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children
     of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes;
     children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and
     skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and
     understanding science, and such as had ability in them to
     stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the
     learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. . . . Now among
     these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah,
     Mishael, and Azariah: unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave
     names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and
     to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to
     Azariah, of Abed-nego. . . . As for these four children, God
     gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom; and
     Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. Now at the
     end of the days that the king had said he should bring them
     in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before
     Nebuchadnezzar. And the king communed with them; and among
     them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and
     Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. And in all
     matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of
     them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians
     and astrologers that were in all his realm."

The Hebrew children that king Nebuchadnezzar desired to be brought were
to be already possessed of knowledge; they were to be further instructed
in the learning and tongue of the Chaldeans. But when the four Hebrew
children were brought before the king, and he communed with them, he
found them wiser than his own wise men.

No account is given of the questions asked by the king, or of the
answers made by the four young Hebrews; so it is merely a conjecture
that possibly some question bearing on the calendar may have come up.
But if it did, then certainly the information within the grasp of the
Hebrews could not have failed to impress the king.

We know how highly the Greeks esteemed the discovery by Meton, in the
86th Olympiad, of that relation between the movements of the sun and
moon, which gives the cycle of nineteen years, and similar knowledge
would certainly have given king Nebuchadnezzar a high opinion of the
young captives.

But there is evidence, from certain numbers in the book which bears his
name, that Daniel was acquainted with luni-solar cycles which quite
transcended that of the Jubilees in preciseness, and indicate a
knowledge such as was certainly not to be found in any other ancient
nation. The numbers themselves are used in a prophetic context, so that
the meaning of the whole is veiled, but astronomical knowledge
underlying the use of these numbers is unmistakably there.

One of these numbers is found in the eighth chapter.

     "How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice,
     and the transgression of desolation, to give both the
     sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said
     unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall
     the sanctuary be cleansed."

The twelfth chapter gives the other number, but in a more veiled form:--

     "And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the
     waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his
     left hand unto heaven, and sware by Him that liveth for ever
     that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he
     shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy
     people, all these things shall be finished."

The numerical significance of the "time, times and an half," or, as it
is expressed in the seventh chapter of Daniel, "until a time, and times,
and the dividing of time," is plainly shown by the corresponding
expressions in the Apocalypse, where "a time and times and half a time"
would appear to be given elsewhere both as "forty and two months" and
"a thousand, two hundred and three-score days." Forty-two conventional
months--that is of 30 days each--make up 1260 days, whilst 3-1/2
conventional years of 360 days--that is twelve months of 30 days
each--make up the same period. The word "times" is expressly used as
equivalent to years in the eleventh chapter of Daniel, where it is said
that the king of the north "shall come on at the end of the times, even
of years, with a great army and with much substance." Then, again in the
vision which Nebuchadnezzar had previous to his madness, he heard the
watcher and the holy one cry concerning him:--

     "Let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart
     be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him."

It has been generally understood that the "seven times" in this latter
case meant "seven years." The "time, times and an half" are obviously
meant as the half of "seven times."

The two numbers, 2,300 and 1,260, whatever be their significance in
their particular context in these prophecies, have an unmistakable
astronomical bearing, as the following table will show:--

      2,300 solar years  = 840,057 days, 1 hour.
     28,447 lunar months = 840,056  "   16 hours.
              difference =               9  "
      1,260 solar years  = 460,205  "    4  "
     15,584 lunar months = 460,204  "   17  "
              difference =          "   11  "

If the one number 1,260 stood alone, the fact that it was so close a
lunar cycle might easily be ascribed to a mere coincidence. Seven is a
sacred number, and the days in the year may be conventionally
represented as 360. Half the product of the two might, perhaps, seem to
be a natural number to adopt for symbolic purposes. But the number 2,300
stands in quite a different category. It is not suggested by any
combination of sacred numbers, and is not veiled under any mystic
expression; the number is given as it stands--2,300. But 2,300 solar
years is an exact number, not only of lunations, but also of
"anomalistic" months. The "anomalistic month" is the time occupied by
the moon in travelling from its perigee, that is its point of nearest
approach to the earth, round to its perigee again. For the moon's orbit
round the earth is not circular, but decidedly elliptical; the moon
being 31,000 miles nearer to us at perigee than it is at apogee, its
point of greatest distance. But it moves more rapidly when near perigee
than when near apogee, so that its motion differs considerably from
perfect uniformity.

But the period in which the moon travels from her perigee round to
perigee again is 27 days, 13 hours, 18 minutes, 37 seconds, and there
are in 2,300 solar years almost exactly 30,487 such periods or
anomalistic months, which amount to 840,057 days, 2 hours.

If we take the mean of these three periods, that is to say 840,057 days,
as being the cycle, it brings into harmony the day, the anomalistic
month, the ordinary month, and the solar year. It is from this point of
view the most perfect cycle known.

Dr. H. Grattan Guinness[343:1] has shown what a beautifully simple and
accurate calendar could have been constructed on the basis of this
period of 2,300 years; thus:--

     2,300 solar years contain 28,447 synodic months, of which 847
     are intercalary, or epact months. 2,300 years are 840,057

     27,600 {13,800 non-intercalary mths. of 29 d. each  =  400,200
            {13,800  "    "           "   "  30     "    =  414,000
           847 {423 intercalary months of 30 days each   =   12,690
               {424   "          "     "  31  "     "    =   13,144
                 23 days additional for the 23 centuries =       23

The Jewish calendar on this system would have consisted of ordinary
months, alternately 29 and 30 days in length. The intercalary months
would have contained alternately 30 or 31 days, and once in every
century one of the ordinary months would have had an additional day. Or,
what would come to very much the same thing, this extra day might have
been added at every alternate Jubilee.

By combining these two numbers of Daniel some cycles of extreme
astronomical interest have been derived by De Cheseaux, a Swiss
astronomer of the eighteenth century, and by Dr. H. Grattan Guinness,
and Dr. W. Bell Dawson in our own times. Thus, the difference between
2,300 and 1,260 is 1,040, and 1,040 years give an extremely exact
correspondence between the solar year and the month, whilst the mean of
the two numbers gives us 1,780, and 1,780 lunar years is 1,727 solar
years with extreme precision. But since these are not given directly in
the Book of Daniel, and are only inferential from his numbers, there
seems no need to comment upon them here.

It is fair, however, to conclude that Daniel was aware of the Metonic
cycle. The 2300-year cycle gives evidence of a more accurate knowledge
of the respective lengths of month and year than is involved in the
cycle of 19 years. And the latter is a cycle which a Jew would be
naturally led to detect, as the number of intercalary months contained
in it is seven, the Hebrew sacred number.

The Book of Daniel, therefore, itself proves to us that king
Nebuchadnezzar was perfectly justified in the high estimate which he
formed of the attainments of the four Hebrew children. Certainly one of
them, Daniel, was a better instructed mathematician and astronomer than
any Chaldean who had ever been brought into his presence.

We have the right to make this assertion, for now we have an immense
number of Babylonian records at our command; and can form a fairly
accurate estimate as to the state there of astronomical and mathematical
science at different epochs. A kind of "quasi-patriotism" has induced
some Assyriologists to confuse in their accounts of Babylonian
attainments the work of times close to the Christian era with that of
many centuries, if not of several millenniums earlier; and the times of
Sargon of Agadé, whose reputed date is 3800 B.C., have seemed to be
credited with the astronomical work done in Babylon in the first and
second centuries before our era. This is much as if we should credit
our predecessors who lived in this island at the time of Abraham with
the scientific attainments of the present day.

The earlier astronomical achievements at Babylon were not, in any real
sense, astronomical at all. They were simply the compilation of lists of
crude astrological omens, of the most foolish and unreasoning kind. Late
in Babylonian history there were observations of a high scientific
order; real observations of the positions of moon and planets, made with
great system and regularity. But these were made after Greek astronomy
had attained a high level, and Babylon had come under Greek rule.

Whether this development of genuine astronomical observation was of
native origin, or was derived from their Greek masters, is not clear. If
it was native, then certainly the Babylonians were not able to use and
interpret the observations which they made nearly so well as were Greek
astronomers, such as Eudoxus, Thales, Pythagoras, Hipparchus and many

But it must not be supposed that, though their astronomical achievements
have been grossly, even ludicrously, exaggerated by some popular
writers, the Babylonians contributed nothing of value to the progress of
the science. We may infer from such a tablet as that already quoted on
page 320, when the equinox was observed on the 6th day of Nisan, since
there were 6 _kasbu_ of day and 6 _kasbu_ of night, that some mechanical
time-measurer was in use. Indeed, the record on one tablet has been
interpreted as noting that the astronomer's clock or clepsydra had
stopped. If this be so, then we owe to Babylon the invention of clocks
of some description, and from an astronomical point of view, this is of
the greatest importance.

Tradition also points to the Chaldeans as the discoverers of the
_Saros_, the cycle of 18 years, 10 or 11 days, after which eclipses of
the sun or moon recur. The fact that very careful watch was kept every
month at the times of the new and of the full moon, at many different
stations, to note whether an eclipse would take place, would naturally
bring about the discovery of the period, sooner or later.

The achievements of a nation will be in accordance with its temperament
and opportunities, and it is evident from the records which they have
left us that the Babylonians, though very superstitious, were a
methodical, practical, prosaic people, and a people of that order, if
they are numerous, and under strong rule, will go far and do much. The
discovery of the _Saros_ was such as was within their power, and was
certainly no small achievement. But it is to the Greeks, not to the
Babylonians, that we trace the beginnings of mathematics and planetary

We look in vain amongst such Babylonian poetry as we possess for the
traces of a Homer, a Pindar, a Sophocles, or even of a poet fit to enter
into competition with those of the second rank in the literature of
Greece; while it must remain one of the literary mysteries of our time
that any one should deem the poetry of the books of Isaiah and Job
dependent on Babylonian inspiration.

There were two great hindrances under which the Babylonian man of
science laboured: he was an idolater, and he was an astrologer. It is
not possible for us in our freedom to fully realize how oppressive was
the slavery of mind, as well as spirit, which was consequent upon this
twofold superstition. The Greek was freer, insomuch that he did not
worship the planets, and did not become a planetary astrologer until
after he had learnt that superstition from Chaldea; in learning it he
put an end to his scientific progress.

But the Hebrew, if he was faithful to the Law that had been given to
him, was free in mind as well as in spirit. He could fearlessly inquire
into any and all the objects of nature, for these were but things--the
work of God's Hands, whereas he, made in the image of God, having the
right of intercourse with God, was the superior, the ruler of everything
he could see.

His religious attitude therefore gave him a great superiority for
scientific advancement. Yet there was one phase of that attitude which,
whilst it preserved him from erroneous conceptions, tended to check that
spirit of curiosity which has led to so much of the scientific progress
of modern times. "What?" "How?" and "Why?" are the three questions which
man is always asking of nature, and to the Hebrew the answer to the
second and third was obvious:--It is the power of God: It is the will of
God. He did not need to invent for himself the crass absurdities of the
cosmogonies of the heathen; but neither was he induced to go behind the
appearances of things; the sufficient cause and explanation of all was

But of the appearances he was very observant, as I trust has become
clear in the course of this imperfect review of the traces of one
particular science as noticed in Holy Scripture.

If he was faithful to the Law which had been given him, the Hebrew was
free in character as well as in mind. His spirit was not that of a
bondman, and Nebuchadnezzar certainly never met anything more noble,
anything more free, than the spirit of the men who answered him in the
very view of the burning fiery furnace:--

     "O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this
     matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver
     us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out
     of thine hand, O king. BUT IF NOT, be it known unto thee, O
     king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden
     image which thou hast set up."


[343:1] _Creation centred in Christ_, p. 344.







There are three incidents recorded in Holy Scripture which may fairly,
if with no great exactness, be termed astronomical miracles;--the "long
day" on the occasion of Joshua's victory at Beth-horon; the turning back
of the shadow on the dial of Ahaz, as a sign of king Hezekiah's recovery
from sickness; and the star which guided the wise men from the east to
the birthplace of the Holy Child at Bethlehem.

As astronomy has some bearing on each of these three remarkable events,
it will be of some interest to examine each of them from the point of
view of our present astronomical knowledge. It does not follow that this
will throw any new light upon the narratives, for we must always bear in
mind that the Scriptures were not intended to teach us the physical
sciences; consequently we may find that the very details have been
omitted which an astronomer, if he were writing an account of an
astronomical observation, would be careful to preserve. And we must
further remember that we have not the slightest reason to suppose that
the sacred historians received any supernatural instruction in
scientific matters. Their knowledge of astronomy therefore was that
which they had themselves acquired from education and research, and
nothing more. In other words, the astronomy of the narrative must be
read strictly in the terms of the scientific advancement of the writers.

But there is another thing that has also to be remembered. The narrative
which we have before us, being the only one that we have, must be
accepted exactly as it stands. That is the foundation of our inquiry; we
have no right to first cut it about at our will, to omit this, to alter
that, to find traces of two, three, or more original documents, and so
to split up the narrative as it stands into a number of imperfect
fragments, which by their very imperfection may seem to be more or less
in conflict.

The scientific attitude with regard to the record of an observation
cannot be too clearly defined. If that record be the only one, then we
may accept it, we may reject it, we may be obliged to say, "We do not
understand it," or "It is imperfect, and we can make no use of it," but
we must not alter it. A moment's reflection will show that a man who
would permit himself to tamper with the sole evidence upon which he
purports to work, no matter how profoundly convinced he may be that his
proposed corrections are sound, is one who does not understand the
spirit of science, and is not going the way to arrive at scientific

There is no need then to inquire as to whether the tenth chapter of the
Book of Joshua comes from two or more sources; we take the narrative as
it stands. And it is one which has, for the astronomer, an interest
quite irrespective of any interpretation which he may place upon the
account of the miracle which forms its central incident. For Joshua's

     "Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon;
      And thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon,"

implies that, at the moment of his speaking, the two heavenly bodies
appeared to him to be, the one upon or over Gibeon, the other over the
valley of Ajalon. We have therefore, in effect, a definite astronomical
observation; interesting in itself, as being one of the oldest that has
been preserved to us; doubly interesting in the conclusions that we are
able to deduce from it.

The idea which has been most generally formed of the meaning of Joshua's
command, is, that he saw Gibeon in the distance on the horizon in one
direction with the sun low down in the sky immediately above it, and the
valley of Ajalon in the distance, on the horizon in another direction,
with the moon low down in the sky above it.

It would be quite natural to associate the sun and moon with distant
objects if they were only some five or six degrees high; it would be
rather straining the point to do so if they were more than ten degrees
high; and if they were fifteen or more degrees high, it would be quite

They could not be both in the same quarter of the sky; both rising or
both setting. For this would mean that the moon was not only very near
the sun in the sky, but was very near to conjunction--in other words, to
new moon. She could, therefore, have only shown a slender thread of
light, and it is perfectly certain that Joshua, facing the sun in such a
country as southern Palestine could not possibly have perceived the thin
pale arch of light, which would have been all that the moon could then
have presented to him. Therefore the one must have been rising and the
other setting, and Joshua must have been standing between Gibeon and the
valley of Ajalon, so that the two places were nearly in opposite
directions from him. The moon must have been in the west and the sun in
the east, for the valley of Ajalon is west of Gibeon. That is to say, it
cannot have been more than an hour after sunrise, and it cannot have
been more than an hour before moonset. Adopting therefore the usual
explanation of Joshua's words, we see at once that the common idea of
the reason for Joshua's command to the sun, namely, that the day was
nearly over, and that he desired the daylight to be prolonged, is quite
mistaken. If the sun was low down in the sky, he would have had
practically the whole of the day still before him.


Before attempting to examine further into the nature of the miracle, it
will be well to summarize once again the familiar history of the early
days of the Hebrew invasion of Canaan. We are told that the passage of
the Jordan took place on the tenth day of the first month; and that the
Feast of the Passover was held on the fourteenth day of that month.
These are the only two positive dates given us. The week of the Pascal
celebrations would have occupied the time until the moon's last quarter.
Then preparations were made for the siege of Jericho, and another week
passed in the daily processions round the city before the moment came
for its destruction, which must have been very nearly at the beginning
of the second month of the year. Jericho having been destroyed, Joshua
next ordered a reconnaissance of Aï, a small fortified town, some twenty
miles distant, and some 3400 feet above the Israelite camp at Gilgal,
and commanding the upper end of the valley of Achor, the chief ravine
leading up from the valley of the Jordan. The reconnaissance was
followed by an attack on the town, which resulted in defeat. From the
dejection into which this reverse had thrown him Joshua was roused by
the information that the command to devote the spoil of Jericho to utter
destruction had been disobeyed. A searching investigation was held; it
was found that Achan, one of the Israelite soldiers, had seized for
himself a royal robe and an ingot of gold; he was tried, condemned and
executed, and the army of Israel was absolved from his guilt. A second
attack was made upon Aï; the town was taken; and the road was made
clear for Israel to march into the heart of the country, in order to
hold the great religious ceremony of the reading of the law upon the
mountains of Ebal and Gerizim, which had been commanded them long
before. No note is given of the date when this ceremony took place, but
bearing in mind that the second month of the year must have begun at the
time of the first reconnaissance of Aï, and that the original giving of
the Law upon Mount Sinai had taken place upon the third day of the third
month, it seems most likely that that anniversary would be chosen for a
solemnity which was intended to recall the original promulgation in the
most effective manner. If this were so, it would account for the
circumstance, which would otherwise have seemed so strange, that Joshua
should have attacked two cities only, Jericho and Aï, and then for a
time have held his hand. It was the necessity of keeping the great
national anniversary on the proper day which compelled him to desist
from his military operations after Aï was taken.

We are not told how long the religious celebrations at Shechem lasted,
but in any case the Israelites can hardly have been back in their camp
at Gilgal before the third moon of the year was at the full. But after
their return, events must have succeeded each other with great rapidity.
The Amorites must have regarded the pilgrimage of Israel to Shechem as
an unhoped-for respite, and they took advantage of it to organize a
great confederacy. Whilst this confederacy was being formed, the rulers
of a small state of "Hivites"--by which we must understand a community
differing either in race or habits from the generality of their Amorite
neighbours--had been much exercised by the course of events. They had
indeed reason to be. Aï, the last conquest of Israel, was less than four
miles, as the crow flies, from Bireh, which is usually identified with
Beeroth, one of the four cities of the Hivite State; and the Beerothites
had, without doubt, watched the cloud of smoke go up from the burning
town when it was sacked; and the mound which now covered what had been
so recently their neighbour city, was visible almost from their gates.
That was an object-lesson which required no enforcement. The Hivites,
sure that otherwise their turn would come next, resolved to make peace
with Israel before they were attacked.


Amorite Cities, _thus_: HEBRON. Hivite Cities: _BEEROTH_.

Places taken by the Israelites: _Jericho_.

Conjectural line of march of Joshua: ...................]

To do this they had to deceive the Israelites into believing that they
were inhabitants of some land far from Canaan, and this they must do,
not only before Joshua actually attacked them, but before he sent out
another scouting party. For Beeroth would inevitably have been the very
first town which it would have approached, and once Joshua's spies had
surveyed it, all chance of the Hivites successfully imposing upon him
would have vanished.

But they were exposed to another danger, if possible more urgent still.
The headquarters of the newly formed Amorite league was at Jerusalem, on
the same plateau as Gibeon, the Hivite capital, and distant from it less
than six miles. A single spy, a single traitor, during the anxious time
that their defection was being planned, and Adoni-zedec, the king of
Jerusalem, would have heard of it in less than a couple of hours; and
the Gibeonites would have been overwhelmed before Joshua had any inkling
that they were anxious to treat with him. Whoever was dilatory, whoever
was slow, the Gibeonites dared not be. It can, therefore, have been, at
most, only a matter of hours after Joshua's return to Gilgal, before
their wily embassy set forth.

But their defection had an instant result. Adoni-zedec recognized in a
moment the urgency of the situation. With Joshua in possession of Gibeon
and its dependencies, the Israelites would be firmly established on the
plateau at his very gates, and the states of southern Palestine would be
cut off from their brethren in the north.

Adoni-zedec lost no time; he sought and obtained the aid of four
neighbouring kings and marched upon Gibeon. The Gibeonites sent at once
the most urgent message to acquaint Joshua with their danger, and Joshua
as promptly replied. He made a forced march with picked troops all that
night up from Gilgal, and next day he was at their gates.

Counterblow had followed blow, swift as the clash of rapiers in a duel
of fencers. All three of the parties concerned--Hivite, Amorite and
Israelite--had moved with the utmost rapidity. And no wonder; the stake
for which they were playing was very existence, and the forfeit, which
would be exacted on failure, was extinction.


The foregoing considerations enable us somewhat to narrow down the time
of the year at which Joshua's miracle can have taken place, and from an
astronomical point of view this is very important. The Israelites had
entered the land of Canaan on the 10th day of the first month, that is
to say, very shortly after the spring equinox--March 21 of our present
calendar. Seven weeks after that equinox--May 11--the sun attains a
declination of 18° north. From this time its declination increases day
by day until the summer solstice, when, in Joshua's time, it was nearly
24° north. After that it slowly diminishes, and on August 4 it is 18°
again. For twelve weeks, therefore--very nearly a quarter of the entire
year--the sun's northern declination is never less than 18°. The date of
the battle must have fallen somewhere within this period. It cannot have
fallen earlier; the events recorded could not possibly have all been
included in the seven weeks following the equinox. Nor, in view of the
promptitude with which all the contending parties acted, and were bound
to act, can we postpone the battle to a later date than the end of this
midsummer period.

We thus know, roughly speaking, what was the declination of the
sun--that is to say, its distance from the equator of the heavens--at
the time of the battle; it was not less than 18° north of the equator,
it could not have been more than 24°.

But, if we adopt the idea most generally formed of the meaning of
Joshua's command, namely, that he saw the sun low down over Gibeon in
one direction, and the moon low down over the valley of Ajalon in
another, we can judge of the apparent bearing of those two heavenly
bodies from an examination of the map. And since, if we may judge from
the map of the Palestine Exploration Fund, the valley of Ajalon lies
about 17° north of west from Gibeon, and runs nearly in that direction
from it, the moon must, to Joshua, have seemed about 17° north of west,
and the sun 17° south of east.

But for any date within the three summer months, the sun in the
latitude of Gibeon, when it bears 17° south of east, must be at least
56° high. At this height it would seem overhead, and would not give the
slightest idea of association with any distant terrestrial object. Not
until some weeks after the autumnal equinox could the sun be seen low
down on the horizon in the direction 17° south of east, and at the same
time the moon be as much as 17° north of the west point. And, as this
would mean that the different combatants had remained so close to each
other, some four or five months without moving, it is clearly
inadmissible. We are forced therefore to the unexpected conclusion that
_it is practically impossible that Joshua could have been in any place
from whence he could have seen, at one and the name moment; the sun low
down in the sky over Gibeon, and the moon over the valley of Ajalon_.

Is the narrative in error, then? Or have we been reading into it our own
erroneous impression? Is there any other sense in which a man would
naturally speak of a celestial body as being "over" some locality on the
earth, except when both were together on his horizon?

Most certainly. There is another position which the sun can hold in
which it may naturally be said to be "over," or "upon" a given place;
far more naturally and accurately than when it chances to lie in the
same direction as some object on the horizon. We have no experience of
that position in these northern latitudes, and hence perhaps our
commentators have, as a rule, not taken it into account. But those who,
in tropical or sub-tropical countries, have been in the open at high
noon, when a man's foot can almost cover his shadow, will recognize how
definite, how significant such a position is. In southern Palestine,
during the three summer months, the sun is always so near the zenith at
noon that it could never occur to any one to speak of it as anything but

And the prose narrative expressly tells us that this was the case. It is
intimated that when Joshua spoke it was noon, by the expression that the
sun "hasted not to go down about a whole day," implying that the change
in the rate in its apparent motion occurred only in the afternoon, and
that it had reached its culmination. Further, as not a few commentators
have pointed out, the expression,--"the sun stood still in the midst of
heaven,"--is literally "in the bisection of heaven"; a phrase applicable
indeed to any position on the meridian, but especially appropriate to
the meridian close to the zenith.

This, then, is what Joshua meant by his command to the sun. Its glowing
orb blazed almost in the centre of the whole celestial vault--"in the
midst of heaven"--and poured down its vertical rays straight on his
head. It stood over him--it stood over the place where he was--Gibeon.

We have, therefore, been able to find that the narrative gives us, by
implication, two very important particulars, the place where Joshua was,
and the time of the day. He was at Gibeon, and it was high noon.

The expression, "Thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon," has now a very
definite signification. As we have already seen, the valley of Ajalon
bears 17° north of west from Gibeon, according to the map of the
Palestine Exploration Fund, so that this is the azimuth which the moon
had at the given moment. In other words, it was almost exactly midway
between the two "points of the compass," W.b.N. and W.N.W. It was also
in its "last quarter" or nearly so; that is, it was half-full, and
waning. With the sun on the meridian it could not have been much more
than half-full, for in that case it would have already set; nor much
less than half-full, or it would have been too faint to be seen in full
daylight. It was therefore almost exactly half-full, and the day was
probably the 21st day of the month in the Jewish reckoning.


But the moon cannot be as far as 17° north of west in latitude 31° 51´
N. on the 21st day of the month earlier than the fourth month of the
Jewish year, or later than the eighth month. Now the 21st day of the
fourth month is about seven weeks after the 3rd day of the third month;
the 21st day of the fifth month is eleven weeks. Remembering how close
Gilgal, Gibeon and Jerusalem were to each other, and how important was
the need for promptitude to Israelite and Amorite alike, it can scarcely
be disputed that eleven weeks is an inadmissible length of time to
interpose between the reading of the Law and the battle; and that seven
weeks is the utmost that can be allowed.

The battle took place, then, on or about the 21st day of the fourth
month. But it could only have done so if that particular year began
late. If the year had begun earlier than April 1st of our present
calendar, the moon could not have been so far north on the day named.
For the Jewish calendar is a natural one and regulated both by the sun
and the moon. It begins with the new moon, and it also begins as nearly
as possible with the spring equinox. But as twelve natural months fall
short of a solar year by eleven days, a thirteenth month has to be
intercalated from time to time; in every nineteen years, seven are years
having an extra month. Now the 21st day of the fourth month must have
fallen on or about July 22 according to our present reckoning, in order
that the moon might have sufficient northing, and that involves a year
beginning after April 1; so that the year of the battle of Beth-horon
must have been an ordinary year, one of twelve months, but must have
followed a year of thirteen months.

Summarizing all the conclusions at which we have now arrived, Joshua's
observation was made at Gibeon itself, almost precisely at the moment of
noon, on or about the 21st day of the fourth month, which day fell late
in July according to our present reckoning; probably on or about the
22nd. The sun's declination must have been about 20° north; probably, if
anything, a little more. The sun rose therefore almost exactly at five
in the morning, and set almost exactly at seven in the evening, the day
being just fourteen hours long. The moon had not yet passed her third
quarter, but was very near it; that is to say, she was about half full.
Her declination did not differ greatly from 16° north; she was probably
about 5° above the horizon, and was due to set in about half an hour.
She had risen soon after eleven o'clock the previous evening, and had
lighted the Israelites during more than half of their night march up
from Gilgal.


These conclusions, as to the place and time of day, entirely sweep away
the impression, so often formed, that Joshua's victory was practically
in the nature of a night surprise. Had it been so, and had the Amorites
been put to flight at daybreak, there would have seemed no conceivable
reason why, with fourteen hours of daylight before him, Joshua should
have been filled with anxiety for the day to have been prolonged. Nor is
it possible to conceive that he would still have been at Gibeon at noon,
seven hours after he had made his victorious attack upon his enemy.

The fact is that, in all probability, Joshua had no wish to make a
night surprise. His attitude was like that of Nelson before the battle
of Trafalgar; he had not the slightest doubt but that he would gain the
victory, but he was most anxious that it should be a complete one. The
great difficulty in the campaign which lay before him was the number of
fortified places in the hands of the enemy, and the costliness, both in
time and lives, of all siege operations at that epoch. His enemies
having taken the field gave him the prospect of overcoming this
difficulty, if, now that they were in the open, he could succeed in
annihilating them there; to have simply scattered them would have
brought him but little advantage. That this was the point to which he
gave chief attention is apparent from one most significant circumstance
in the history; the Amorites fled by the road to Beth-horon.

There have been several battles of Beth-horon since the days of Joshua,
and the defeated army has, on more than one occasion, fled by the route
now taken by the Amorites. Two of these are recorded by Josephus; the
one in which Judas Maccabæus defeated and slew Nicanor, and the other
when Cestius Gallus retreated from Jerusalem. It is probable that
Beth-horon was also the scene of one, if not two, battles with the
Philistines, at the commencement of David's reign. In all these cases
the defeated foe fled by this road because it had been their line of
advance, and was their shortest way back to safety.

But the conditions were entirely reversed in the case of Joshua's
battle. The Amorites fled _away from_ their cities. Jerusalem, the
capital of Adoni-zedec and the chief city of the confederation, lay in
precisely the opposite direction. The other cities of their league lay
beyond Jerusalem, further still to the south.

A reference to the map shows that Gilgal, the headquarters of the army
of Israel, was on the plain of Jericho, close to the banks of the
Jordan, at the bottom of that extraordinary ravine through which the
river runs. Due west, at a distance of about sixteen or seventeen miles
as the crow flies, but three thousand four hundred feet above the level
of the Jordan, rises the Ridge of the Watershed, the backbone of the
structure of Palestine. On this ridge are the cities of Jerusalem and
Gibeon, and on it, leading down to the Maritime Plain, runs in a
north-westerly direction, the road through the two Beth-horons.

The two Beth-horons are one and a half miles apart, with a descent of
700 feet from the Upper to the Lower.

The flight of the Amorites towards Beth-horon proves, beyond a doubt,
that Joshua had possessed himself of the road from Gibeon to Jerusalem.
It is equally clear that this could not have been done by accident, but
that it must have been the deliberate purpose of his generalship.
Jerusalem was a city so strong that it was not until the reign of David
that the Israelites obtained possession of the whole of it, and to take
it was evidently a matter beyond Joshua's ability. But to have defeated
the Amorites at Gibeon, and to have left open to them the way to
Jerusalem--less than six miles distant--would have been a perfectly
futile proceeding. We may be sure, therefore, that from the moment when
he learned that Adoni-zedek was besieging Gibeon, Joshua's first aim was
to cut off the Amorite king from his capital.

The fact that the Amorites fled, not towards their cities but away from
them, shows clearly that Joshua had specially manœuvred so as to cut
them off from Jerusalem. How he did it, we are not told, and any
explanation offered must necessarily be merely of the nature of surmise.
Yet a considerable amount of probability may attach to it. The
geographical conditions are perfectly well known, and we can, to some
degree, infer the course which the battle must have taken from these,
just as we could infer the main lines of the strategy employed by the
Germans in their war with the French in 1870, simply by noting the
places where the successive battles occurred. The positions of the
battlefields of Mars-la-Tour, Gravelotte, and Sedan would show clearly
that the object of the Germans had been, first, to shut Bazaine up in
Metz, and then to hinder MacMahon from coming to his relief. So in the
present case, the fact that the Amorites fled by the way of the two
Beth-horons, shows, first, that Joshua had completely cut them off from
the road to Jerusalem, and next, that somehow or other when they took
flight they were a long way to the north of him. Had they not been so,
they could not have had any long start in their flight, and the
hailstorm which occasioned them such heavy loss would have injured the
Israelites almost as much.

How can these two circumstances be accounted for? I think we can make a
very plausible guess at the details of Joshua's strategy from noting
what he is recorded to have done in the case of Aï. On that occasion, as
on this, he had felt his inability to deal with an enemy behind
fortifications. His tactics therefore had consisted in making a feigned
attack, followed by a feigned retreat, by which he drew his enemies
completely away from their base, which he then seized by means of a
detachment which he had previously placed in ambush near. Then, when the
men of Aï were hopelessly cut off from their city, he brought all his
forces together, surrounded his enemies in the open, and destroyed them.

It was a far more difficult task which lay before him at Gibeon, but we
may suppose that he still acted on the same general principles. There
were two points on the ridge of the watershed which, for very different
reasons, it was important that he should seize. The one was Beeroth, one
of the cities of the Hivites, his allies, close to his latest victory of
Aï, and commanding the highest point on the ridge of the watershed. It
is distant from Jerusalem some ten miles--a day's journey. Tradition
therefore gives it as the place where the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph
turned back sorrowing, seeking Jesus. For "they, supposing Him to have
been in the company, went a day's journey," and Beeroth still forms the
first halting-place for pilgrims from the north on their return journey.

Beeroth also was the city of the two sons of Rimmon who murdered
Ishbosheth, the son of Saul. When it is remembered how Saul had
attempted to extirpate the Gibeonites, and how bitter a blood feud the
latter entertained against his house in consequence, it becomes very
significant that the murderers of his son were men of this Gibeonite

Beeroth also commanded the exit from the principal ravine by which
Joshua could march upwards to the ridge--the valley of Achor. The
Israelites marching by this route would have the great advantage that
Beeroth, in the possession of their allies, the Gibeonites, would act as
a cover to them whilst in the ravines, and give them security whilst
taking up a position on the plateau.

But Beeroth had one fatal disadvantage as a sole line of advance. From
Beeroth Joshua would come down to Gibeon from the north, and the
Amorites, if defeated, would have a line of retreat, clear and easy, to
Jerusalem. It was absolutely essential that somewhere or other he should
cut the Jerusalem road.

This would be a matter of great difficulty and danger, as, if his
advance were detected whilst he was still in the ravines, he would have
been taken at almost hopeless disadvantage. The fearful losses which the
Israelites sustained in the intertribal war with Benjamin near this very
place, show what Joshua might reasonably have expected had he tried to
make his sole advance on the ridge near Jerusalem.

Is it not probable that he would have endeavoured, under these
circumstances, to entice the Amorites as far away to the north as
possible before he ventured to bring his main force out on the ridge? If
so, we may imagine that he first sent a strong force by the valley of
Achor to Beeroth; that they were instructed there to take up a strong
position, and when firmly established, to challenge the Amorites to
attack them. Then, when the Israelite general in command at Beeroth
perceived that he had before him practically the whole Amorite
force--for it would seem clear that the five kings themselves, together
with the greater part of their army, were thus drawn away--he would
signal to Joshua that the time had come for his advance. Just as Joshua
himself had signalled with his spear at the taking of Aï, so the firing
of a beacon placed on the summit of the ridge would suffice for the
purpose. Joshua would then lead up the main body, seize the Jerusalem
road, and press on to Gibeon at the utmost speed. If this were so, the
small detachment of Amorites left to continue the blockade was speedily
crushed, but perhaps was aware of Joshua's approach soon enough to send
swift runners urging the five kings to return. The news would brook no
delay; the kings would turn south immediately; but for all their haste
they never reached Gibeon. They probably had but advanced as far as the
ridge leading to Beth-horon, when they perceived that not only had
Joshua relieved Gibeon and destroyed the force which they had left
before it, but that his line, stretched out far to the right and left,
already cut them off, not merely from the road to Jerusalem and Hebron,
but also from the valley of Ajalon, a shorter road to the Maritime Plain
than the one they actually took. East there was no escape; north was the
Israelite army from Beeroth; south and west was the army of Joshua.
Out-manœuvred and out-generalled, they were in the most imminent danger
of being caught between the two Israelite armies, and of being ground,
like wheat, between the upper and nether millstones. They had no heart
for further fight; the promise made to Joshua,--"there shall not a man
of them stand before thee,"--was fulfilled; they broke and fled by the
one way open to them, the way of the two Beth-horons.

Whilst this conjectural strategy attributes to Joshua a ready grasp of
the essential features of the military position and skill in dealing
with them, it certainly does not attribute to him any greater skill than
it is reasonable to suppose he possessed. The Hebrews have repeatedly
proved, not merely their valour in battle, but their mastery of the art
of war, and, as Marcel Dieulafoy has recently shown,[372:1] the earliest
general of whom we have record as introducing turning tactics in the
field, is David in the battle of the valley of Rephaim, recorded in 2
Sam. v. 22-25 and 1 Chron. xiv. 13-17.

     "The several evolutions of a complicated and hazardous nature
     which decided the fate of the battle would betoken, even at
     the present day, when successfully conducted, a consummate
     general, experienced lieutenants, troops well accustomed to
     manœuvres, mobile, and, above all, disciplined almost into
     unconsciousness, so contrary is it to our instincts not
     to meet peril face to face. . . . In point of fact, the
     Israelites had just effected in the face of the Philistines a
     turning and enveloping movement--that is to say, an operation
     of war considered to be one of the boldest, most skilful, and
     difficult attempted by forces similar in number to those of
     the Hebrews, but, at the same time, very efficacious and
     brilliant when successful. It was the favourite manœuvre of
     Frederick II, and the one on which his military reputation

But though the Amorites had been discomfited by Joshua, they had not
been completely surrounded; one way of escape was left open. More than
this, it appears that they obtained a very ample start in the race along
the north-western road. We infer this from the incident of the
hailstorm which fell upon them whilst rushing down the precipitous road
between the Beth-horons; a storm so sudden and so violent that more of
the Amorites died by the hailstones than had fallen in the contest at
Gibeon. It does not appear that the Israelites suffered from the storm;
they must consequently have, at the time, been much in the rear of their
foes. Probably they were still "in the way that goeth up to Beth-horon";
that is to say, in the ascent some two miles long from Gibeon till the
summit of the road is reached. There would be a special appropriateness
in this case in the phrasing of the record that "the Lord discomfited
the Amorites before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at
Gibeon, and _chased_ them along the way that goeth up to Beth-horon, and
smote them to Azekah and unto Makkedah." There was no slaughter on the
road between Gibeon and Beth-horon. It was a simple _chase_; a pursuit
with the enemy far in advance.

The Israelites, general and soldiers alike, had done their best. The
forced march all night up the steep ravines, the plan of the battle, and
the way in which it had been carried out were alike admirable. Yet when
the Israelites had done their best, and the heat and their long
exertions had nearly overpowered them, Joshua was compelled to recognize
that he had been but partly successful. He had relieved Gibeon; the
Amorites were in headlong flight; he had cut them off from the direct
road to safety, but he had failed in one most important point. He had
not succeeded in surrounding them, and the greater portion of their
force was escaping.


It was at this moment, when his scouts announced to him the frustration
of his hopes, that Joshua in the anxiety lest the full fruits of his
victory should be denied him, and in the supremest faith that the Lord
God, in Whose hand are all the powers of the universe, was with him,

     "Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon,
      And thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon!"

So his exclamation stands in our Authorized Version, but, as the
marginal reading shows, the word translated "stand still" is more
literally "be silent." There can be no doubt that this expression, so
unusual in this connection, must have been employed with intention. What
was it that Joshua is likely to have had in his mind when he thus spoke?

The common idea is that he simply wished for more time; for the day to
be prolonged. But as we have seen, it was midday when he spoke, and he
had full seven hours of daylight before him. There was a need which he
must have felt more pressing. His men had now been seventeen hours on
the march, for they had started at sunset--7 p.m.--on the previous
evening, and it was now noon, the noon of a sub-tropical midsummer. They
had marched at least twenty miles in the time, possibly considerably
more according to the route which they had followed, and the march had
been along the roughest of roads, and had included an ascent of 3400
feet--about the height of the summit of Snowdon above the sea-level.
They must have been weary, and have felt sorely the heat of the sun,
now blazing right overhead. Surely it requires no words to labour this
point. Joshua's one pressing need at that moment was something to temper
the fierce oppression of the sun, and to refresh his men. This was what
he prayed for; this was what was granted him. For the moment the sun
seemed fighting on the side of his enemies, and he bade it "Be silent."
Instantly, in answer to his command, a mighty rush of dark storm-clouds
came sweeping up from the sea.

Refreshed by the sudden coolness, the Israelites set out at once in the
pursuit of their enemies. It is probable that for the first six miles
they saw no trace of them, but when they reached Beth-horon the Upper,
and stood at the top of its steep descent, they saw the Amorites again.
As it had been with their fathers at the Red Sea, when the pillar of
cloud had been a defence to them but the means of discomfiture to the
Egyptians, so now the storm-clouds which had so revived them and
restored their their strength, had brought death and destruction to
their enemies. All down the rocky descent lay the wounded, the dying,
the dead. For "the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them,
unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones
than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword."

     "The might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
      Had melted like snow in the glance of the Lord."

Far below them the panic-stricken remnants of the Amorite host were
fleeing for safety to the cities of the Maritime Plain. The battle
proper was over; the one duty left to the army of Israel was to overtake
and destroy those remnants before they could gain shelter.

But the narrative continues. "The sun stayed in the midst of heaven, and
hasted not to go down about a whole day." This statement evidently
implies much more than the mere darkening of the sun by storm-clouds.
For its interpretation we must return to the remaining incidents of the

These are soon told. Joshua pursued the Amorites to Makkedah,
twenty-seven miles from Gibeon by the route taken. There the five kings
had hidden themselves in a cave. A guard was placed to watch the cave;
the Israelites continued the pursuit for an undefined distance farther;
returned to Makkedah and took it by assault; brought the kings out of
their cave, and hanged them.

     "And it came to pass at the time of the going down of the sun,
     that Joshua commanded, and they took them down off the trees,
     and cast them into the cave wherein they had hidden
     themselves, and laid great stones on the mouth of the cave,
     unto this very day."

All these events--the pursuit for twenty-seven miles and more, the
taking of Makkedah and the hanging of the kings--took place between noon
and the going down of the sun, an interval whose normal length, for that
latitude and at that time of the year, was about seven hours.

This is an abnormal feat. It is true that a single trained pedestrian
might traverse the twenty-seven and odd miles, and still have time to
take part in an assault on a town and to watch an execution. But it is
an altogether different thing when we come to a large army. It is well
known that the speed with which a body of men can move diminishes with
the number. A company can march faster than a regiment; a regiment than
a brigade; a brigade than an army corps. But for a large force thirty
miles in the entire day is heavy work. "Thus Sir Archibald Hunter's
division, in its march through Bechuanaland to the relief of Mafeking,
starting at four in the morning, went on till seven or eight at night,
covering as many as thirty miles a day at times." Joshua's achievement
was a march fully as long as any of General Hunter's, but it was
accomplished in less than seven hours instead of from fifteen to
sixteen, and it followed straight on from a march seventeen hours in
length which had ended in a battle. In all, between one sunset and the
next he had marched between fifty and sixty miles besides fighting a
battle and taking a town.

If we turn to the records of other battles fought in this neighbourhood,
we find that they agree as closely as we could expect, not with Joshua's
achievement, but with General Hunter's. In the case of the great victory
secured by Jonathan, the gallant son of Saul, the Israelites smote the
Philistines from Michmash to Ajalon;--not quite twenty miles. In the
defeat of Cestius Gallus, the Jews followed him from Beth-horon to
Antipatris, a little over twenty miles, the pursuit beginning at
daybreak, and being evidently continued nearly till sundown. The pursuit
of the Syrians under Nicanor by Judas Maccabæus seems also to have
covered about the same distance, for Nicanor was killed at the first
onslaught and his troops took to flight.

It is not at all unusual to read in comments on the Book of Joshua that
the "miracle" is simply the result of the dulness of the prose
chronicler in accepting as literal fact an expression that originated in
the poetic exuberance of an old bard. The latter, so it is urged, simply
meaning to add a figure of dignity and importance to his song
commemorating a great national victory, had written:--

     "And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed,
      Until the nation had avenged themselves of their enemies,"

but with no more expectation that the stay of the moon would be accepted
literally, than the singers, who welcomed David after the slaying of
Goliath, imagined that any one would seriously suppose that Saul had
actually with his own hand killed two thousand Philistines, and David
twenty thousand. But, say they, the later prose chronicler, quoting from
the ballad, and accepting a piece of poetic hyperbole as actual fact,
reproduced the statement in his own words, and added, "the sun stayed in
the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day."

Not so. The poem and the prose chronicle make one coherent whole.
Working from the poem alone, treating the expressions in the first two
lines merely as astronomical indications of time and place, and without
the slightest reference to any miraculous interpretation, they lead to
the inevitable conclusion that the time was noonday. This result
certainly does not lie on the surface of the poem, and it was wholly
beyond the power of the prose chronicler to have computed it, yet it is
just in the supposed stupid gloss of the prose chronicler, and nowhere
else, that we find this fact definitely stated: whilst the "miracle"
recorded both by poem and prose narrative completely accords with the
extraordinary distance traversed between noon and sunset.

Any man, however ignorant of science, if he be but careful and
conscientious, can truthfully record an observation without any
difficulty. But to successfully invent even the simplest astronomical
observation requires very full knowledge, and is difficult even then.
Every astronomer knows that there is hardly a single novelist, no matter
how learned or painstaking, who can at this present day introduce a
simple astronomical relation into his story, without falling into
egregious error.

We are therefore quite sure that Joshua did use the words attributed to
him; that the "moon" and "the valley of Ajalon" were not merely inserted
in order to complete the parallelism by a bard putting a legend into
poetic form. Nor was the prose narrative the result of an editor
combining two or three narratives all written much after the date. The
original records must have been made at the time.

All astronomers know well how absolutely essential it is to commit an
observation to writing on the spot. Illustrations of this necessity
could be made to any extent. One may suffice. In vol. ii. of the _Life
of Sir Richard Burton_, by his wife, p. 244, Lady Burton says:--

     "On the 6th December, 1882 . . . we were walking on the Karso
     (Opçona) alone; the sky was clear, and all of a sudden my
     niece said to me, 'Oh, look up, there is a star walking into
     the moon!' 'Glorious!' I answered. 'We are looking at the
     Transit of Venus, which crowds of scientists have gone to the
     end of the world to see.'"

The Transit of Venus did take place on December 6, 1882; and though
Venus could have been seen without telescopic aid as a black spot on the
sun's disc, nothing can be more unlike Venus in transit than "a star
walking into the moon." The moon was not visible on that evening, and
Venus was only visible when on the sun's disc, and appeared then, not as
a star, but as a black dot.

No doubt Lady Burton's niece did make the exclamation attributed to her,
but it must have been, not on December 6, 1882, but on some other
occasion. Lady Burton may indeed have told her niece that this was the
Transit of Venus, but that was simply because she did not know what a
transit was, nor that it occurred in the daytime, not at night. Lady
Burton's narrative was therefore not written at the time. So if the
facts of the tenth chapter of Joshua, as we have it, had not been
written at the time of the battle, some gross astronomical discordance
would inevitably have crept in.

Let us suppose that the sun and moon did actually stand still in the sky
for so long a time that between noon and sunset was equal to the full
length of an ordinary day. What effect would have resulted that the
Israelites could have perceived? This, and this only, that they would
have marched twice as far between noon and sunset as they could have
done in any ordinary afternoon. And this as we have seen, is exactly
what they are recorded to have done.

The only measure of time, available to the Israelites, independent of
the apparent motion of the sun, was the number of miles marched. Indeed,
with the Babylonians, the same word (_kasbu_) was used to indicate three
distinct, but related measures. It was a measure of time--the double
hour; of celestial arc--the twelfth part of a great circle, thirty
degrees, that is to say the space traversed by the sun in two hours; and
it was a measure of distance on the surface of the earth--six or seven
miles, or a two hours' march.

If, for the sake of illustration, we may suppose that the sun were to
stand still for us, we should recognize it neither by sundial nor by
shadow, but we should see that whereas our clocks had indicated that the
sun had risen (we will say) at six in the morning, and had southed at
twelve of noon; it had not set until twelve of the night. The register
of work done, shown by all our clocks and watches, would be double for
the afternoon what it had been for the morning. And if all our clocks
and watches did thus register upon some occasion twice the interval
between noon and sunset that they had registered between sunrise and
noon, we should be justified in recording, as the writer of the book of
Joshua has recorded, "The sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and
hasted not to go down about a whole day."

The real difficulty to the understanding of this narrative has lain in
the failure of commentators to put themselves back into the conditions
of the Israelites. The Israelites had no time-measurers, could have had
no time-measurers. A sundial, if any such were in existence, would only
indicate the position of the sun, and therefore could give no evidence
in the matter. Beside, a sundial is not a portable instrument, and
Joshua and his men had something more pressing to do than to loiter
round it. Clepsydræ or clocks are of later date, and no more than a
sundial are they portable. Many comments, one might almost say most
comments on the narrative, read as if the writers supposed that Joshua
and his men carried stop-watches, and that their chief interest in the
whole campaign was to see how fast the sun was moving. Since they had no
such methods of measuring time, since it is not possible to suppose that
over and above any material miracle that was wrought, the mental miracle
was added of acquainting the Israelites for this occasion only with the
Copernican system of astronomy, all that the words of the narrative can
possibly mean is, that--

     "the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to
     go down about a whole day,"

according to the only means which the Israelites had for testing the
matter. In short, it simply states in other words, what, it is clear
from other parts of the narrative, was actually the case, that the
length of the march made between noon and sunset was equal to an
ordinary march taking the whole of a day.

If we suppose--as has been generally done, and as it is quite legitimate
to do, for all things are possible to God--that the miracle consisted in
the slackening of the rotation of the earth, what effect would have
been perceived by the Hebrews? This, and only this, that they would have
accomplished a full day's march in the course of the afternoon. And what
would have been the effects produced on all the neighbouring nations?
Simply that they had managed to do more work than usual in the course of
that afternoon, and that they felt more than usually tired and hungry in
the evening.

But would it have helped the Israelites for the day to have been thus
actually lengthened? Scarcely so, unless they had been, at the same
time, endowed with supernatural, or at all events, with unusual
strength. The Israelites had already been 31 hours without sleep or
rest, they had made a remarkable march, their enemies had several miles
start of them; would not a longer day have simply given the latter a
better chance to make good their flight, unless the Israelites were
enabled to pursue them with unusual speed? And if the Israelites were so
enabled, then no further miracle is required; for them the sun would
have "hasted not to go down about a whole day."

Leaving the question as to whether the sun appeared to stand still
through the temporary arrest of the earth's rotation, or through some
exaltation of the physical powers of the Israelites, it seems clear,
from the foregoing analysis of the narrative, that both the prose
account and the poem were written by eye-witnesses, who recorded what
they had themselves seen and heard whilst every detail was fresh in
their memory. Simple as the astronomical references are, they are very
stringent, and can only have been supplied by those who were actually

Nothing can be more unlike poetic hyperbole than the sum of actual
miles marched to the men who trod them; and these very concrete miles
were the gauge of the lapse of time. For just as "nail," and "span," and
"foot," and "cubit," and "pace" were the early measures of small
distance, so the average day's march was the early measure of long
distance. The human frame, in its proportions and in its abilities, is
sufficiently uniform to have furnished the primitive standards of
length. But the relation established between time and distance as in the
case of a day's march, works either way, and is employed in either
direction, even at the present day. When the Israelites at the end of
their campaign returned from Makkedah to Gibeon, and found the march,
though wholly unobstructed, was still a heavy performance for the whole
of a long day, what could they think, how could they express themselves,
concerning that same march made between noon and sundown? Whatever
construction we put upon the incident, whatever explanation we may offer
for it, to all the men of Israel, judging the events of the afternoon by
the only standard within their reach, the eminently practical standard
of the miles they had marched, the only conclusion at which they could
arrive was the one they so justly drew--

     "The sun stayed in the midst of heaven and hasted not to go
     down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before
     it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a
     man: for the Lord fought for Israel."


[351:1] Revised and reprinted from the _Sunday at Home_ for February and
March, 1904.

[372:1] Marcel Dieulafoy, _David the King: an Historical Enquiry_, pp.



The second astronomical marvel recorded in the Scripture narrative is
the going back of the shadow on the dial of Ahaz, at the time of
Hezekiah's recovery, from his dangerous illness.

It was shortly after the deliverance of the kingdom of Judah from the
danger threatened it by Sennacherib king of Assyria, that Hezekiah fell
"sick unto death." But in answer to his prayer, Isaiah was sent to tell

     "Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have
     heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal
     thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the
     Lord. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will
     deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of
     Assyria; and I will defend this city for Mine own sake, and
     for My servant David's sake. And Isaiah said, Take a lump of
     figs. And they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered.
     And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the
     Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up into the house of
     the Lord the third day? And Isaiah said, This sign shalt thou
     have of the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing that He hath
     spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back
     ten degrees? And Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for
     the shadow to go down ten degrees: nay, but let the shadow
     return backward ten degrees. And Isaiah the prophet cried unto
     the Lord: and He brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by
     which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz."

The narrative in the Book of Isaiah gives the concluding words in the

     "So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone

The narrative is complete as a record of the healing of king Hezekiah
and of the sign given to him to assure him that he should recover;
complete for all the ordinary purposes of a narrative, and for readers
in general. But for any purpose of astronomical analysis the narrative
is deficient, and it must be frankly confessed that it does not lie
within the power of astronomy to make any use of it.

It has been generally assumed that it was an actual sundial upon which
this sign was seen. We do not know how far back the art of dialling
goes. The simplest form of dial is an obelisk on a flat pavement, but it
has the very important drawback that the graduation is different for
different times of the year. In a properly constructed dial the edge of
the style casting the shadow should be made parallel to the axis of the
earth. Consequently a dial for one latitude is not available without
alteration when transferred to another latitude. Some fine types of
dials on a large scale exist in the observatories built by Jai Singh.
The first of these--that at Delhi--was probably completed about 1710
A.D. They are, therefore, quite modern, but afford good illustrations
of the type of structure which we can readily conceive of as having been
built in what has been termed the Stone Age of astronomy. The principal
of these buildings, the Samrat Yantra, is a long staircase in the
meridian leading up to nothing, the shadow falling on to a great
semicircular arc which it crosses. The slope of the staircase is, of
course, parallel to the earth's axis.

It has been suggested that if such a dial were erected at Jerusalem, and
the style were that for a tropical latitude, at certain times of the
year the shadow would appear to go backward for a short time. Others,
again, have suggested that if a small portable dial were tilted the same
phenomenon would show itself. It is, of course, evident that no such
suggestion at all accords with the narrative. Hezekiah was now in the
fourteenth year of his reign, the dial--if dial it was--was made by his
father, and the "miracle" would have been reproduced day by day for a
considerable part of each year, and after the event it would have been
apparent to every one that the "miracle" continued to be reproduced. If
this had been the case, it would say very little for the astronomical
science of the wise men of Merodach-Baladan that he should have sent all
the way from Babylon to Jerusalem "to inquire of the wonder that was
done in the land" if the wonder was nothing more than a wrongly mounted

Others have hazarded the extreme hypothesis, that there might have been
an earthquake at the time which dipped the dial in the proper direction,
and then restored it to its proper place; presumably, of course, without
doing harm to Jerusalem, or any of its buildings, and passing unnoticed
by both king and people.

A much more ingenious theory than any of those was communicated by the
late J. W. Bosanquet to the Royal Asiatic Society in 1854. An eclipse of
the sun took place on January 11, 689 B.C. It was an annular eclipse
in Asia Minor, and a very large partial eclipse at Jerusalem, the
greatest phase taking place nearly at local noon. Mr. Bosanquet
considers that the effect of the partial eclipse would be to practically
shift the centre of the bright body casting the shadow. At the beginning
of the annular phase, the part of the sun uncovered would be a crescent
in a nearly vertical position; at mid eclipse the crescent would be in a
horizontal position; at the end of the annular phase the crescent would
again be in a vertical position; so that the exposed part of the sun
would appear to move down and up in the sky over a very small distance.
It is extremely doubtful whether any perceptible effect could be so
produced on the shadow, and one wholly fails to understand why the
eclipse itself should not have been given as the sign, and why neither
the king nor the people seem to have noticed that it was in progress. It
is, however, sufficient to say that modern chronology shows that
Hezekiah died ten years before the eclipse in question, so that it fell
a quarter of a century too late for the purpose, and no other eclipse is
available to take its place during the lifetime of Hezekiah.

But there is no reason to think that the word rendered in our Authorized
Version as "dial" was a sundial at all. The word translated "dial" is
the same which is also rendered "degrees" in the A.V. and "steps" in the
R.V., as is shown in the margin of the latter. It occurs in the prophecy
of Amos, where it is rendered "stories" or "ascensions." It means an
"ascent," a "going up," a "step." Thus king Solomon's throne had six
_steps_, and there are fifteen Psalms (cxx.-cxxxiv.)--that are called
"songs of degrees," that is "songs of steps."

We do not know how the staircase of Ahaz faced, but we can form some
rough idea from the known positions of the Temple and of the city of
David, and one or two little hints given us in the narrative itself. It
will be noted that Hezekiah uses the movement of the shadow downward, as
equivalent to its going forward. The going forward of course meant its
ordinary direction of motion at that time of day; so the return of the
shadow backward meant that the shadow went up ten steps, for in the Book
of Isaiah it speaks of the sun returning "ten degrees by which degrees
it was gone down." It was therefore in the afternoon, and the sun was
declining, when the sign took place. It is clear, therefore, that the
staircase was so placed that the shadow went down the stairs as the sun
declined in the sky. The staircase, therefore, probably faced east or
north-east, as it would naturally do if it led from the palace towards
the Temple. No doubt there was a causeway at the foot of this staircase,
and a corresponding ascent up the Temple hill on the opposite side of
the valley.

We can now conjecturally reproduce the circumstances. It was afternoon,
and the palace had already cast the upper steps of the staircase into
shadow. The sick king, looking longingly towards the Temple, could see
the lower steps still gleaming in the bright Judean sunshine. It was
natural therefore for him to say, when the prophet Isaiah offered him
his choice of a sign, "Shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or back
ten steps?" that it was "a light thing for the shadow to go down ten
steps: nay, but let the shadow return backward ten steps." It would be
quite obvious to him that a small cloud, suitably placed, might throw
ten additional steps into shadow.

It will be seen that we are left with several details undetermined. For
the staircase, wherever constructed, was probably not meant to act as a
sundial, and was only so used because it chanced to have some rough
suitability for the purpose. In this case the shadow will probably have
been thrown, not by a properly constructed gnomon, but by some building
in the neighbourhood. And as we have no record of the direction of the
staircase, its angle of inclination, its height, and the position of the
buildings which might have cast a shadow upon it, we are without any
indication to guide us.

When the queen of Sheba came to visit king Solomon, and saw all his
magnificence, one of the things which specially impressed her was "his
ascent by which he went up unto the house of the Lord." This was "the
causeway of the going up," as it is called in the First Book of
Chronicles. We are told of a number of alterations, made in the Temple
furniture and buildings by king Ahaz, and it is said that "the covered
way for the sabbath that they had built in the house, and the king's
entry without, turned he unto (_margin_, round) the house of the Lord,
because of the king of Assyria." That is to say, Ahaz considered that
Solomon's staircase was too much exposed in the case of a siege, being
without the Temple enclosure. This probably necessitated the
construction of a new staircase, which would naturally be called the
staircase of Ahaz. That there was, in later times, such a staircase at
about this place we know from the route taken by the triumphal
procession at the time of the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem under

     "At the fountain gate, which was over against them, they went
     up by the stairs of the City of David, at the going up of the
     wall, above the house of David, even unto the water gate

In this case there would be a special appropriateness in the sign that
was offered to Hezekiah. The sign that he would be so restored, as once
again to go up to the house of the Lord, was to be given him on the very
staircase by which he would go. He was now thirty-eight years old, and
had doubtless watched the shadow of the palace descend the staircase in
the afternoon, hundreds of times; quite possibly he had actually seen a
cloud make the shadow race forward. But the reverse he had never seen.
Once a step had passed into the shadow of the palace, it did not again
emerge until the next morning dawned.

The sign then was this: It was afternoon, probably approaching the time
of the evening prayer, and the court officials and palace attendants
were moving down the staircase in the shadow, when, as the sick king
watched them from above, the shadow of the palace was rolled back up the
staircase, and a flood of light poured down on ten of the broad steps
upon which the sun had already set. How this lighting of the ten steps
was brought about we are not told, nor is any clue given us on which we
can base a conjecture. But this return of light was a figure of what was
actually happening in the life of the king himself. He had already, as
it were, passed into the shadow that only deepens into night. As he sang
himself after his recovery--

     "I said, In the noontide of my days I shall go into the gates of
          the grave:
      I am deprived of the residue of my years.
      I said, I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord in the land of
          the living:
      I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world."

But now the light had been brought back to him, and he could say--

     "The living, the living, he shall praise Thee, as I do this day:
      The father to the children shall make known Thy truth.
      The Lord is ready to save me:
      Therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments
      All the days of our life in the house of the Lord."



No narrative of Holy Scripture is more familiar to us than that of the
visit of the wise men from the East to see Him that was born King of the
Jews. It was towards the end of the reign of Herod the Great that they
arrived at Jerusalem, and threw Herod the king and all the city into
great excitement by their question--

     "Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen
     His star in the east, and are come to worship Him."

Herod at once gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people
together, and demanded of them where the Messiah should be born. Their
reply was distinct and unhesitating--

     "In Bethlehem of Judæa: for thus it is written by the Prophet,
     And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least
     among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a
     Governor, that shall rule My people Israel. Then Herod, when
     he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them
     diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to
     Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young
     Child; and when ye have found Him, bring me word again, that
     I may come and worship Him also. When they had heard the king,
     they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east,
     went before them, till it came and stood over where the young
     Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with
     exceeding great joy."

So much, and no more are we told of the star of Bethlehem, and the story
is as significant in its omissions as in that which it tells us.

What sort of a star it was that led the wise men; how they learnt from
it that the King of the Jews was born; how it went before them; how it
stood over where the young Child was, we do not know. Nor is it of the
least importance that we should know. One verse more, and that a short
one, would have answered these inquiries; it would have told us whether
it was some conjunction of the planets; whether perchance it was a
comet, or a "new" or "temporary" star; or whether it was a supernatural
light, like the pillar of fire that guided the children of Israel in the
wilderness. But that verse has not been given. The twelve or twenty
additional words, which could have cleared up the matter, have been
withheld, and there can be no doubt as to the reason. The "star,"
whatever its physical nature, was of no importance, except as a guide to
the birthplace of the infant Jesus. Information about it would have
drawn attention from the object of the narrative; it would have given to
a mere sign-post the importance which belonged only to "the Word made

We are often told that the Bible should be studied precisely as any
other book is studied. Yet before we can criticize any book, we must
first ascertain what was the purpose that the author had in writing it.
The history of England, for instance, has been written by many persons
and from many points of view. One man has traced the succession of the
dynasties, the relationships of the successive royal families, and the
effect of the administrations of the various kings. Another has chiefly
considered the development of representative government and of
parliamentary institutions. A third has concerned himself more with the
different races that, by their fusion, have formed the nation as it is
to-day. A fourth has dealt with the social condition of the people, the
increase of comfort and luxury. To a fifth the true history of England
is the story of its expansion, the foundation and growth of its colonial
empire. While to a sixth, its religious history is the one that claims
most attention, and the struggles with Rome, the rise and decay of
Puritanism, and the development of modern thought will fill his pages.
Each of these six will select just those facts, and those facts only,
that are relevant to his subject. The introduction of irrelevant facts
would be felt to mark the ignorant or unskilful workman. The master of
his craft will keep in the background the details that have no bearing
on his main purpose, and to those which have but a slight bearing he
will give only such notice as their importance in this connection

The purpose of the Bible is to reveal God to us, and to teach us of our
relationship to Him. It was not intended to gratify that natural and
laudable curiosity which has been the foundation of the physical
sciences. Our own efforts, our own intelligence can help us here, and
the Scriptures have not been given us in order to save us the trouble of
exerting them.

There is no reason for surprise, then, that the information given us
concerning the star is, astronomically, so imperfect. We are, indeed,
told but two facts concerning it. First that its appearance, in some way
or other, informed the wise men, not of the birth of _a_ king of the
Jews, but of _the_ King of the Jews, for Whose coming not Israel only,
but more or less consciously the whole civilized world, was waiting.
Next, having come to Judæa in consequence of this information, the
"star" pointed out to them the actual spot where the new-born King was
to be found. "It went before them till it came and stood over where the
young Child was." It may also be inferred from Matt. ii. 10 that in some
way or other the wise men had for a time lost sight of the star, so that
the two facts mentioned of it relate to two separate appearances. The
first appearance induced them to leave the East, and set out for Judæa;
the second pointed out to them the place at Bethlehem where the object
of their search was to be found. Nothing is told us respecting the star
except its work as a guide.

Some three centuries ago the ingenious and devout Kepler supposed that
he could identify the Star with a conjunction of the planets Jupiter and
Saturn, in the constellation Pisces. This conjunction took place in the
month of May, B.C. 7, not very long before the birth of our Lord is
supposed to have taken place.

But the late Prof. C. Pritchard has shown, first, that a similar and
closer conjunction occurred 59 years earlier, and should therefore have
brought a Magian deputation to Judæa then. Next, that the two planets
never approached each other nearer than twice the apparent diameter of
the moon, so that they would have appeared, not as one star, but as two.
And thirdly, if the planets had seemed to stand over Bethlehem as the
wise men left Jerusalem, they most assuredly would not have appeared to
do so when they arrived at the little city. Ingenious as the suggestion
was, it may be dismissed as unworthy of serious consideration.

Another suggestion shows upon what slight foundations a well-rounded
legend may be built. In the year 1572 a wonderful "new star" appeared in
the constellation Cassiopeia. At its brightest it outshone Venus, and,
though it gradually declined in splendour, it remained visible for some
sixteen months. There have been other instances of outbursts of bright
short-lived stars; and brief notices, in the annals of the years 1265
and 952 may have referred to such objects, but more probably these were
comets. The guess was hazarded that these objects might be one and the
same; that the star in Cassiopeia might be a "variable" star, bursting
into brilliancy about every 315 or 316 years; that it was the star that
announced the birth of our Lord, and that it would reappear towards the
end of the nineteenth century to announce His second coming.

One thing more was lacking to make the legend complete, and this was
supplied by the planet Venus, which shines with extraordinary
brilliance when in particular parts of her orbit. On one of these
occasions, when she was seen as a morning star in the east, some hazy
recollection of the legend just noticed caused a number of people to
hail her as none other than the star of Bethlehem at its predicted

There is no reason to suppose that the star of 1572 had ever appeared
before that date, or will ever appear again. But in any case we are
perfectly sure that it could not have been the star of Bethlehem. For
Cassiopeia is a northern constellation, and the wise men, when they set
out from Jerusalem to Bethlehem must have had Cassiopeia and all her
stars behind them.

The fact that the "star" went before them and stood over where the young
Child lay, gives the impression that it was some light, like the
Shekinah glory resting on the Ark in the tabernacle, or the pillar of
fire which led the children of Israel through the wilderness. But this
view raises the questions as to the form in which it first appeared to
the wise men when they were still in the East, and how they came to call
it a star, when they must have recognized how very unstarlike it was.
Whilst, if what they saw when in the East was really a star, it seems
most difficult to understand how it can have appeared to go before them
and to stand over the place where the young Child lay.

I have somewhere come across a legend which may possibly afford the
clue, but I have not been able to find that the legend rests upon any
authority. It is that the star had been lost in the daylight by the time
that the wise men reached Jerusalem. It was therefore an evening star
during their journey thither. But it is said that when they reached
Bethlehem, apparently nearly at midday, one of them went to the well of
the inn, in order to draw water. Looking down into the well, he saw the
star, reflected from the surface of the water. This would of course be
an intimation to them that the star was directly overhead, and its
re-observation, under such unusual circumstances, would be a sufficient
assurance that they had reached the right spot. Inquiry in the inn would
lead to a knowledge of the visit of the shepherds, and of the angelic
message which had told them where to find the Babe born in the city of
David, "a Saviour, Which is Christ the Lord."

If this story be true, the "Star of Bethlehem" was probably a "new
star," like that of 1572. Its first appearance would then have caused
the Magi to set out on their journey, though it does not appear how they
knew what it signified, unless we suppose that they were informed of it
in a dream, just as they were afterwards warned of God not to return to
Herod. Whilst they were travelling the course of the year would bring
the star, which shone straight before them in the west after sunset
every evening, nearer and nearer to the sun. We may suppose that, like
other new stars, it gradually faded, so that by the time the wise men
had reached Jerusalem they had lost sight of it altogether. Having thus
lost it, they would probably not think of looking for it by daylight,
for it is no easy thing to detect by daylight even Venus at her greatest
brilliancy, unless one knows exactly where to look. The difficulty does
not lie in any want of brightness, but in picking up and holding
steadily so minute a point of light in the broad expanse of the gleaming
sky. This difficulty would be overcome for them, according to this
story, by the well, which acted like a tube to direct them exactly to
the star, and like a telescope, to lessen the sky glare. It would be
also necessary to suppose that the star was flashing out again with
renewed brilliancy. Such a brief recovery of light has not been unknown
in the case of some of our "new" or "temporary" stars.

I give the above story for what it is worth, but I attach no importance
to it myself. Some, however, may feel that it removes what they had felt
as a difficulty in the narrative,--namely, to understand how the star
could "stand over where the young Child lay." It would also explain,
what seems to be implied in the narrative, how it happened that the Magi
alone, and not the Jews in general, perceived the star at its second

For myself, the narrative appears to me astronomically too incomplete
for any astronomical conclusions to be drawn from it. The reticence of
the narrative on all points, except those directly relating to our Lord
Himself, is an illustration of the truth that the Scriptures were not
written to instruct us in astronomy, or in any of the physical sciences,
but that we might have eternal life.



     | Page. |   Book.       | Chap. and Verse.      |
     |  9    | I. Kings      | v. 29-34              |
     | 10    | Wisdom        | vii. 17-22 (R.V.)     |
     | 11    | Psalm         | viii. 3, 4            |
     | 15    | Eccl.         | i. 9                  |
     | 17    | Gen.          | i. 1                  |
     |  "    | I. Chron.     | xvi. 26               |
     |  "    | Deut.         | vi. 4                 |
     |  "    | Mark          | xii. 29               |
     |  "    | Neh.          | ix. 6                 |
     | 19    | Heb.          | xi. 23                |
     | 20    | II. Pet.      | iii. 8                |
     | 22    | Psalm         | cxi. 2-4 (R.V.)       |
     |  "    | Gen.          | ii. 3                 |
     | 23    | Exod.         | xx. 10, 11            |
     |  "    |  "            | xxxi. 16, 17          |
     |  "    | Gen.          | i. 14                 |
     | 25    |  "            | i. 1                  |
     | 32    | Exod.         | xv. 4, 5              |
     | 35    | Gen.          | i. 6-8                |
     |  "    |  "            | i. 14                 |
     | 36    |  "            | i. 20                 |
     |  "    | Job           | xxxvii. 18 (R.V.)     |
     |  "    | Num.          | xvii. 39              |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | xl. 19                |
     | 37    | Jer.          | x. 9                  |
     |  "    | Psalm         | cxxxvi. 6             |
     | 38    | Heb.          | i. 3                  |
     | 39    | II. Sam.      | xxii. 8               |
     |  "    | Job           | xxvi. 11              |
     |  "    |  "            | xxvi. 7               |
     |  "    | I. Sam.       | ii. 8                 |
     | 40    | Psalm         | lxxv. 3               |
     |  "    |   "           | civ. 2                |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | xl. 22                |
     |  "    | Amos          | ix. 6                 |
     |  "    | Num.          | xxxiv. 4              |
     |  "    | II. Sam.      | xv. 30                |
     | 41    | Psalm         | cxlviii. 4            |
     |  "    | Song of Three |                       |
     |       |   Children    | 38                    |
     |  "    | Amos          | v. 8                  |
     |  "    |  "            | ix. 6                 |
     |  "    | Eccl.         | i. 7                  |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | lv. 10 (R.V.)         |
     | 42    |   "           | lv. 11                |
     |  "    | Job           | xxxvi. 26-28          |
     |       |               |   (R.V.)              |
     |  "    | Judges        | v. 4                  |
     |  "    | Psalm         | lxxvii. 17            |
     |  "    |   "           | cxlvii. 8             |
     |  "    | Prov.         | xvi. 15               |
     |  "    | Eccl.         | xii. 2                |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | v. 6                  |
     |  "    | Jude          | 12                    |
     |  "    | Nahum         | i. 3                  |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | xviii. 4              |
     | 43    | Eccl.         | xi. 3                 |
     |  "    | Job           | xxvi. 8               |
     |  "    |  "            | xxxviii. 34-37        |
     | 44    |  "            | xxxviii. 19-29        |
     |       |               |   (R.V.)              |
     |  "    | Psalm         | xviii. 6-17 (R.V.)    |
     | 45    | Jer.          | x. 13 (R.V.)          |
     |  "    | Psalm         | cxxxv. 7              |
     | 46    | Job           | xxxvii. 16            |
     | 49    |  "            | xxxvi. 29             |
     |  "    | Gen.          | vii. 11               |
     | 50    | II. Kings     | vii. 1, 2             |
     |  "    | Mal.          | iii. 10               |
     |  "    | Hos.          | vi. 4                 |
     |  "    | Dan.          | viii. 8               |
     |  "    | Ezek.         | xxxvii. 9             |
     | 51    | Jer.          | xlix. 36              |
     |  "    | Eccl.         | i. 6                  |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | xi. 12                |
     |  "    |   "           | xl. 22                |
     |  "    | Prov.         | viii. 27              |
     | 52    | Job           | xxii. 14 (R.V.        |
     |       |               |   margin)             |
     |  "    |  "            | xxvi. 10 (R.V.)       |
     |  "    | Gen.          | i. 9                  |
     |  "    | Psalm         | xxiv. 2               |
     |  "    |   "           | cxxxvi. 6             |
     | 53    | Ezek.         | xxxi. 4               |
     |  "    | Gen.          | vii. 11               |
     |  "    |  "            | viii. 2               |
     |  "    | Job           | xxxviii. 16           |
     |  "    | Prov.         | iii. 20               |
     |  "    | Jer.          | v. 22                 |
     | 54    | Job           | xxxviii. 8            |
     |  "    | Prov.         | viii. 27, 29          |
     | 55    | Josh.         | x. 13                 |
     |  "    | Psalm         | xix. 1-6 (R.V.)       |
     | 56    | I. Kings      | xxii. 19              |
     | 57    | Jer.          | xxxiii. 22            |
     |  "    | Deut.         | iv. 15, 19            |
     | 58    | Job           | xxxviii. 7            |
     |  "    | Judges        | v. 20                 |
     |  "    | II. Kings     | vi. 14-17             |
     | 60    | Job           | xxxviii. 52 (R.V.)    |
     |  "    | Psalm         | cxi. 2                |
     |  "    | Rev.          | ii. 26, 28            |
     | 61    | Isaiah        | xiv. 12-14            |
     |  "    | Rev.          | xxii. 16              |
     | 62    | Jer.          | xxxi. 36              |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | xl. 26-31 (R.V.)      |
     | 63    | Gen.          | i. 14-19              |
     | 64    | Deut.         | xxxiii. 14 (R.V.)     |
     |  "    | I. John       | i. 5                  |
     |  "    | Psalm         | xxvii. 1              |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | lx. 19                |
     |  "    | John          | i. 9                  |
     |  "    | Psalm         | lxxxiv. 11            |
     |  "    | Mal.          | iv. 2                 |
     | 65    | James         | i. 17                 |
     |  "    | Psalm         | cxxxix. 12            |
     |  "    | Deut.         | iv. 19                |
     |  "    |  "            | xvii. 2, 3            |
     | 66    | II. Kings     | xxiii. 11             |
     |  "    | Ezek.         | viii. 11              |
     |  "    |  "            | viii. 16              |
     |  "    | Job           | xxxi. 26              |
     |  "    | Cant.         | vi. 10                |
     | 67    | Judges        | viii. 13              |
     | 67    | Judges        | xiv. 18               |
     |  "    | Jer.          | xliii. 13             |
     | 68    | Isaiah        | xix. 18               |
     |  "    | Cant.         | vi. 10                |
     | 69    | Psalm         | lxxii. 5              |
     |  "    |   "           | lxxii. 17             |
     | 70    |   "           | lxxxix. 36            |
     |  "    |   "           | l. 1                  |
     |  "    |   "           | cxiii. 3              |
     |  "    |   "           | xix. 6                |
     |  "    | Eccl.         | i. 3                  |
     | 71    | Job           | xxxviii. 12-14        |
     |  "    |   "           | xxxviii. 14 (R.V.)    |
     |  "    | Eccl.         | i. 5                  |
     | 72    | Job           | xxvi. 7               |
     |  "    | Psalm         | xix. 6                |
     |  "    | II. Kings     | iv. 19                |
     |  "    | Psalm         | cxxi. 6               |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | xlix. 10              |
     |  "    | Rev.          | vii. 16               |
     |  "    | Deut.         | xxxiii. 14            |
     | 73    | James         | i. 17                 |
     |  "    | Job           | xxxviii. 33           |
     |  "    | Wisdom        | vii. 18               |
     | 78    | Rom.          | i. 20-23              |
     | 79    | John          | ix. 4                 |
     | 80    | Psalm         | lxxxi. 3              |
     |  "    | Prov.         | vii. 20               |
     | 82    | Isaiah        | lx. 20                |
     | 83    | Num.          | x. 10                 |
     |  "    | Psalm         | lxxxi. 3              |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | iii. 18               |
     | 84    | Gen.          | xxxvii. 9             |
     |  "    | Jer.          | viii. 2               |
     |  "    | Psalm         | civ. 19               |
     |  "    |   "           | lxxxix. 36, 37        |
     |  "    |   "           | cxxxvi. 9             |
     |  "    | Jer.          | xxxi. 35              |
     |  "    | Eccl.         | xii. 2                |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | xiii. 10              |
     |  "    | Ezek.         | xxxii. 7              |
     |  "    | Joel          | ii. 10, 31            |
     |  "    |  "            | iii. 15               |
     |  "    | Hab.          | iii. 11               |
     |  "    | Exod.         | ii. 2                 |
     | 85    | Deut.         | xxxiii. 13, 14        |
     |  "    | II. Kings     | xv. 13                |
     |  "    | Dan.          | iv. 29                |
     |  "    | Ezra          | vi. 15                |
     |  "    | Neh.          | i. 1                  |
     |  "    | I. Kings      | vi. 1, 37, 38         |
     |  "    |   "           | viii. 2               |
     |  "    | Cant.         | vi. 10                |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | lxxiv. 23             |
     | 86    |   "           | xxx. 26               |
     |  "    | Rev.          | xix. 6-8              |
     |  "    | Gen.          | xxxvii. 9             |
     | 87    |   "           | xxxvii. 10            |
     |  "    | Job           | xxxi. 26-28 (R.V.)    |
     | 88    | Deut.         | iv. 12, 15, 16, 19    |
     |  "    | Judges        | viii. 21              |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | iii. 18               |
     |  "    | II. Kings     | xxiii. 13             |
     | 89    | Gen.          | xiv. 5                |
     |  "    | I. Sam.       | xxxi. 10              |
     |  "    | II. Kings     | xxiii. 13             |
     | 89    | Jer.          | vii. 18               |
     | 90    |   "           | xliv. 17, 18          |
     | 91    | Isaiah        | xxx. 26               |
     |  "    |   "           | lx. 20                |
     | 92    | Psalm         | cxxi. 6               |
     |  "    |   "           | civ. 19-24 (R.V.)     |
     | 96    | Gen.          | xv. 5                 |
     | 97    | Psalm         | cxlvii. 4             |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | xl. 22                |
     | 98    | I. Cor.       | xv. 41                |
     | 99    | Prov.         | xxv. 3                |
     |  "    | Job           | xi. 7, 8              |
     |  "    |   "           | xxii. 12              |
     |  "    | Jer.          | xxxi. 37              |
     | 100   | Psalm         | ciii. 11, 12          |
     | 107   | Joel          | ii. 30                |
     |  "    | Gen.          | iii. 24               |
     |  "    | Heb.          | i. 7                  |
     |  "    | I. Chron.     | xxi. 16               |
     | 108   | Jude          | 13                    |
     | 113   | Acts          | xix. 35 (R.V.)        |
     | 116   | Rev.          | vi. 13                |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | xxxiv. 4              |
     |  "    | Rev.          | viii. 10              |
     |  "    | Jude          | 13                    |
     | 117   | Job           | iii. 9 (margin)       |
     |  "    |   "           | xli. 18               |
     |  "    |   "           | xxxvii. 22 (R.V.)     |
     | 119   | Jer.          | x. 2                  |
     | 122   | Wisdom        | vii. 18               |
     | 123   | Amos          | i. 1                  |
     |  "    | Zech.         | xiv. 5                |
     |  "    | Gen.          | i. 14                 |
     | 124   | Joel          | ii. 10                |
     |  "    |    "          | ii. 30, 31            |
     |  "    | Acts          | ii. 19, 20            |
     |  "    | Rev.          | vi. 12                |
     |  "    | Amos          | viii. 9               |
     | 125   | Micah         | iii. 6                |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | xiii. 10              |
     |  "    | Jer.          | xv. 9                 |
     |  "    | Ezek.         | xxxii. 7, 8           |
     | 129   | Mal.          | iv. 2                 |
     |  "    | James         | i. 17 (R.V.)          |
     | 131   | Gen.          | xiv. 5                |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | xlvi. 1               |
     | 132   |   "           | xiv. 12               |
     |  "    | II. Peter     | i. 19                 |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | lxv. 11               |
     |  "    | Dan.          | v. 26 (R.V.)          |
     | 133   | Amos          | v. 25, 26             |
     |  "    | Acts          | vii. 43               |
     | 143   | Isaiah        | viii. 19              |
     | 144   | Ezek.         | xxi. 21 (R.V.)        |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | xlvii. 12, 13         |
     |  "    | Jer.          | x. 2                  |
     | 150   | Acts          | xvii. 24-28           |
     | 163   | Gen.          | ix. 13                |
     | 164   |   "           | iii. 15               |
     | 166   |   "           | iii. 24               |
     |  "    | Ezek.         | i. 5                  |
     |  "    | Rev.          | iv. 7 (R.V.)          |
     |  "    | Ezek.         | x. 20                 |
     |  "    | I. Kings      | vi. 29, 32            |
     | 167   | Gen.          | x. 9                  |
     | 169   | Psalm         | lxxx. 1               |
     | 173   | Gen.          | vi. 19                |
     |  "    |  "            | vii. 2                |
     | 184   | Psalm         | l. 5                  |
     | 186   | Gen.          | xxxvii. 9             |
     | 189   |  "            | xlix. 9               |
     |  "    | Rev.          | v. 5                  |
     | 190   | Deut.         | xxxiii. 17 (R.V.)     |
     |  "    | Gen.          | xlix. 6 (R.V.)        |
     |  "    |  "            | xlix. 4, 17           |
     | 191   | Num.          | xxiii. 7, 24 (R.V.)   |
     |  "    |  "            | xxiv. 9 (R.V.)        |
     |  "    |  "            | xxiv. 8 (R.V.)        |
     |  "    |  "            | xxiv. 7 (R.V.)        |
     | 193   | Exod.         | xxxii. 1              |
     |  "    | Acts          | vii. 41, 42           |
     |  "    | Exod.         | xx. 3                 |
     |  "    |  "            | xx. 4, 5              |
     | 194   | Deut.         | iv. 15                |
     |  "    | Psalm         | cvi. 20               |
     |  "    | Acts          | vii. 42               |
     |  "    | I. Kings      | xii. 28               |
     | 195   | Rev.          | v. 5                  |
     | 203   | Job           | iii. 8, 9 (R.V.)      |
     |  "    |  "            | xli.                  |
     |  "    | Psalm         | civ. 25               |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | xxvii. 1              |
     | 204   | Job           | xxvi. 12, 13          |
     | 205   | Isaiah        | xxx. 7 (R.V.)         |
     |  "    |   "           | li. 9, 10 (R.V.)      |
     |  "    | Psalm         | lxxxix. 9, 10         |
     | 206   | Ezek.         | xxxii. 2 (R.V.)       |
     |  "    | Rev.          | xx. 2                 |
     |  "    | Ezek.         | xxxii. 4 (R.V.)       |
     |  "    |  "            | xxix. 3, 5            |
     | 207   | Rev.          | xii. 6 (R.V.)         |
     | 208   |  "            | xii. 15, 16 (R.V.)    |
     | 209   | Job           | iii. 9 (R.V.)         |
     |  "    |  "            | xli. 18 (R.V.)        |
     | 210   | Psalm         | xix. 5                |
     | 211   | I. Kings      | xviii. 27             |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | xxx. 31               |
     | 212   | Psalm         | lxxiv. 12-17          |
     | 215   | Job           | ix. 9                 |
     |  "    |  "            | xxxviii. 31           |
     |  "    | Amos          | v. 8                  |
     | 217   | Isaiah        | lxv. 11               |
     | 218   | II. Kings     | xvii. 30              |
     |  "    | Gen.          | xlix. 22              |
     | 220   | Rev.          | i. 12, 13, 15         |
     |  "    |  "            | i. 20                 |
     | 223   | I. Peter      | iii. 20               |
     |  "    | Amos          | v. 8                  |
     |  "    | Job           | xxxviii. 31           |
     | 224   | Cant.         | ii. 11-13 (R.V.)      |
     | 225   | Job           | xxxviii. 4            |
     |  "    |  "            | xxxviii. 31 (R.V.)    |
     | 231   |  "            | ix. 9                 |
     |  "    |  "            | xxxviii. 31           |
     |  "    | Amos          | v. 8                  |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | xiii. 10              |
     |  "    | Prov.         | i. 22                 |
     | 234   | Gen.          | x. 8                  |
     | 235   |  "            | x. 10                 |
     | 238   | Isaiah        | xiv. 13, 14           |
     | 239   |   "           | xiii. 9-11            |
     |  "    | Amos          | v. 8                  |
     | 241   | Job           | xxxviii. 36           |
     | 242   |  "            | xxvi. 13              |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | xlv. 7                |
     | 243   | Job           | xxxviii. 32           |
     | 251   |  "            | xxxviii. 32           |
     |  "    | II. Kings     | xxiii. 5              |
     |  "    | Deut.         | iv. 19                |
     |  "    | Job           | ix. 9                 |
     |  "    |  "            | xxxviii. 31, 32       |
     |  "    |  "            | xxxvii. 9             |
     | 252   | Exod.         | xxxii.                |
     |  "    | I. Kings      | xii.                  |
     | 253   | II. Kings     | xxiii. 5              |
     |  "    | Job           | ix., xxxviii.         |
     | 257   |  "            | xxxviii. 33           |
     |  "    | Luke          | xi. 2                 |
     | 258   | Job           | ix. 9                 |
     |  "    |  "            | xxxviii. 31-33        |
     | 259   |  "            | xxxvii. 9             |
     | 260   | Isaiah        | l. 9                  |
     | 262   | Job           | xxxvii. 9             |
     | 271   | Gen.          | i. 14                 |
     |  "    | Deut.         | iv. 19                |
     | 273   | Exod.         | xii. 18, 19           |
     |  "    | Lev.          | xxiii. 32             |
     | 275   | Psalm         | lv. 17                |
     |  "    | Job           | iii. 9 (margin)       |
     |  "    | Cant.         | ii. 17                |
     |  "    | Gen.          | xxxii. 24, 26         |
     |  "    | Josh.         | vi. 15                |
     |  "    | Judges        | xix. 25               |
     |  "    | II. Sam.      | ii. 32                |
     | 276   | Gen.          | xxxii. 31             |
        "    | Exod.         | xvi. 21               |
     |  "    | I. Sam.       | xi. 9                 |
     |  "    | II. Sam.      | iv. 5                 |
     |  "    | I. Kings      | xviii. 26             |
     |  "    | Judges        | xix. 8, 9             |
     |  "    | Job           | vii. 2                |
     |  "    | Jer.          | vi. 4                 |
     |  "    | Prov.         | vii. 9                |
     | 277   | Exod.         | xii. 6                |
     |  "    |  "            | xvi. 12               |
     |  "    |  "            | xxx. 8                |
     |  "    | Levit.        | xxiii. 5              |
     |  "    | Num.          | ix. 3                 |
     |  "    |  "            | xxviii. 4             |
     | 278   | Deut.         | xvi. 6                |
     | 279   | Exod.         | xxx. 8                |
     | 280   | I. Cor.       | xv. 52                |
     |  "    | Psalm         | lxiii. 6              |
     |  "    |   "           | cxix. 148             |
     |  "    | Lam.          | ii. 19                |
     | 281   | Judges        | vii. 19               |
     |  "    | Exod.         | xiv. 24               |
     |  "    | I. Sam.       | xi. 11                |
     |  "    | Matt.         | xiv. 25               |
     |  "    | Mark          | vi. 48                |
     |  "    | Dan.          | iii. 6, 15            |
     |  "    |  "            | iv. 19, 33            |
     |  "    |  "            | v. 5                  |
     |  "    | Job           | xxxviii. 12           |
     | 282   | Acts          | i. 12                 |
     |  "    | Matt.         | xx.                   |
     |  "    | John          | xi. 9, 10             |
     | 291   | Exod.         | xx. 11                |
     |  "    | Psalm         | cxviii. 24            |
     | 293   | II. Kings     | iv. 23                |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | i. 13, 14             |
     | 294   | Isaiah        | lxvi. 23              |
     |  "    | Amos          | viii. 5               |
     |  "    | Col.          | ii. 16                |
     |  "    | Num.          | xxviii.               |
     |  "    | I. Chron.     | xxiii.                |
     |  "    | II. Chron.    | ii.                   |
     |  "    |  "            | xxix.                 |
     |  "    | Ezek.         | xlv.                  |
     |  "    | Ezra          | iii.                  |
     |  "    | Neh.          | x.                    |
     | 295   | Num.          | xxix. 1               |
     |  "    |  "            | xxix. 7               |
     |  "    |  "            | xxix. 12              |
     | 299   | Deut.         | xvi. 1                |
     |  "    | I. Kings      | vi. 1, 37             |
     |  "    |    "          | vi. 38                |
     |  "    |    "          | viii. 2               |
     | 300   | Esther        | ii. 16                |
     |  "    |   "           | iii. 7, 13            |
     |  "    |   "           | viii. 9, 12           |
     |  "    |   "           | ix. 1, 17, 19, 21     |
     |  "    | Ezra          | vi. 15                |
     |  "    | Neh.          | i. 1                  |
     |  "    |  "            | ii. 1                 |
     |  "    | Zech.         | vii. 1                |
     |  "    | Deut.         | xxi. 13 (yerach)      |
     |  "    | II. Kings     | xv. 13     "          |
     |  "    | Gen.          | xxix. 14    (chodesh) |
     | 301   | Num.          | xi. 18-20, 31   "     |
     |  "    | Psalm         | lxxviii. 27           |
     | 302   | Gen.          | vii. 11               |
     |  "    |  "            | viii. 3, 4            |
     | 304   | Ecclus.       | xliii. 6, 7           |
     |  "    | Psalm         | civ. 19               |
     | 308   | Exod.         | xii. 2                |
     | 309   | I. Chron.     | xii. 15               |
     |  "    | Jer.          | xxxvi. 22, 23         |
     |  "    | Ezra          | x. 9                  |
     | 310   | Neh.          | i. 1, 2               |
     |  "    |  "            | ii. 1                 |
     |  "    |  "            | viii. 14              |
     | 311   | Exod.         | xxiii. 16             |
     |  "    |  "            | xxxiv. 22             |
     |  "    | II. Chron.    | xxiv. 23              |
     | 312   | II. Sam.      | xi. 1                 |
     |  "    | I. Chron.     | xx. 1                 |
     |  "    | I. Kings      | xx. 26                |
     |  "    | II. Chron.    | xxxvi. 10             |
     | 313   | Exod.         | xii. 2                |
     |  "    |  "            | xxiii. 16             |
     |  "    |  "            | xxxiv. 22             |
     | 321   | Gen.          | i. 5                  |
     | 322   |  "            | vii. 11               |
     |  "    |  "            | viii. 13, 14          |
     | 325   |  "            | viii. 22              |
     |  "    | Psalm         | lxv. 9-11 (R.V.)      |
     | 326   | Exod.         | xxi. 2                |
     |  "    |  "            | xxiii. 10, 11         |
     | 327   | Lev.          | xxv. 20-22            |
     |  "    | Lev.          | xxvi. 2, 21           |
     |  "    |  "            | xxvi. 33-35           |
     |  "    | Deut.         | xv. 1                 |
     | 328   |  "            | xxxi. 10, 11          |
     |  "    | Jer.          | xxxiv.                |
     |  "    | Lev.          | xxvi. 32-35           |
     |  "    | II. Chron.    | xxxvi. 21             |
     | 329   | Neh.          | x. 31                 |
     |  "    | Lev.          | xxv. 8-10             |
     | 330   | Num.          | xxxvi. 4              |
     |  "    | Isaiah        | lxi. 2                |
     |  "    | Ezek.         | xlvi. 17              |
     | 332   | Lev.          | xxv. 8, 10            |
     |  "    |  "            | xxv. 11, 12           |
     | 333   |  "            | xxv. 22               |
     |  "    |  "            | xxv. 3                |
     |  "    |  "            | xxv. 10               |
     | 338   |  "            | xxv. 42               |
     |  "    | Dan.          | i. 1, 3, 4, 6, 7,     |
     |       |               |   17-20               |
     | 340   |  "            | viii. 13, 14          |
     |  "    |  "            | xii. 7                |
     |  "    |  "            | vii. 25               |
     |  "    | Rev.          | xii. 14               |
     | 341   |  "            | xiii. 5               |
     |  "    |  "            | xi. 2, 3              |
     |  "    |  "            | xii. 6                |
     |       | Dan.          | xi. 13 (margin)       |
     |  "    |  "            | iv. 16                |
     | 348   |  "            | iii. 16-18            |
     | 353   | Josh.         | x. 12                 |
     | 355   |  "            | iv. 19                |
     |  "    |  "            | v. 10                 |
     |  "    |  "            | vii. 2-5              |
     |  "    |  "            | vii. 1, 21            |
     |  "    |  "            | viii.                 |
     | 356   |  "            | viii. 30-35           |
     |  "    | Exod.         | xix. 1, 11            |
     | 362   | Josh.         | x. 13                 |
     | 369   | Luke          | ii. 44                |
     | 371   | Josh.         | x. 8                  |
     | 373   |  "            | x. 10                 |
     | 374   |  "            | x. 12                 |
     | 375   |  "            | x. 11                 |
     | 376   |  "            | x. 27 (R.V.)          |
     | 378   |  "            | x. 13                 |
     | 382   |  "            | x. 13                 |
     | 384   |  "            | x. 13, 14             |
     | 385   | II. Kings     | xx. 5-11              |
     | 386   | Isaiah        | xxxviii. 8            |
     | 387   | II. Chron.    | xxxii. 31             |
     | 389   | Isaiah        | xxxviii. 8            |
     | 390   | II. Kings     | xx. 9 (R.V.)          |
     |  "    | I. Kings      | x. 5                  |
     |  "    | I. Chron.     | xxvi. 16              |
     |  "    | II. Kings     | xvi. 18 (R.V.)        |
     | 391   | Neh.          | xii. 37               |
     | 392   | Isaiah        | xxxviii. 10, 11       |
     |  "    |  "            | xxxviii. 19, 20       |
     | 393   | Matt.         | ii. 2, 5-10           |
     | 396   |  "            | ii. 10                |
     | 399   | Luke          | ii. 11                |
     | 400   | John          | xvii. 3               |


  Aben Ezra, Rabbi, 260, 278, 305

  Abib (month of green ears), 299

  Acronical rising, 223, 246, 261

  Adar, month, 85, 300, 304

  Aerolites, 111, 112, 113

  Ahaz, Dial of, 385-392

  Alexandria, Museum of, 5, 6, 138, 139, 290

  Algebar, star-name, 233, 234

  Allen, R. H., 221, 222

  "Alroy", 278

  Aratus, 149, 150, 152, 154, 162, 163, 186, 208, 218, 222, 224

  Arcturus (_see_ ‘Ash), 258-266

  Aristotle, 76, 105

  ‘Ash, 214, 215, 216, 243, 251, 258, 259, 260, 261, 264-266

  Asherah ("groves"), 67, 88

  Ashtoreth, 67, 88, 89, 90, 131

  Astrology, 5, 77, 78, 130-145, 248

  Astruc, Jean, 171, 172

  Atmospheric circulation, 41-45

  Aurora Borealis, 117

  ‘Ayish, _see_ ‘Ash

  Baal, or Bel, 67, 89, 131, 176, 178, 210, 253

  Bear, the (_see_ Arcturus), 152

  Benetna‘sh, 260

  Bethlehem, Star of, 393-400

  Bosanquet, J. W., 388

  Bosanquet, R. H. M., 315

  "Boundary-stones", 153, 154, 198, 318, 320

  Bow-star, the, 240

  Bradley, third Astronomer Royal, 96

  Bul, month, 85, 299

  Burton, Lady, 379

  "Canterbury Tales", 277

  Cardinal points, 50, 51

  Carrington, R., 220

  Causality, Law of, 15, 16, 18, 78

  "Chaldean Account of Genesis", 27

  Cherubim, 166, 169, 188, 190

  Cheyne, Dr., 238, 240, 254, 255, 256

  Chisleu, month, 85, 238, 300, 304, 310

  Chiun, 133, 134, 144

  Clouds, 42, 43, 44, 46, 54
    the balancings of the, 46
    the spreadings of, 49

  Colures, the, 159

  Comets, 103-108
    Donati's, 105, 107
    Halley's, 103, 104

  Conder, Col. C. R., 238

  Constellations, list of, 151-152
    origin of, 149-161

  Copernicus, 76

  Cowell, P. H., 303

  Creation, 12-24
    story of, Babylonian, 26, 170, 178, 240, 242, 246, 252
              Hebrew, 25
              Scandinavian, 29

  Cycles, Astronomical, of Daniel, 337-348

  Cylinder seal, 71, 217

  Damascius, 26, 27

  Daniel, Cycles of, 337-348

  Dawson, Dr. W. Bell, 343

  Day and its divisions, 269-282

  Days, different kinds of, 271, 272

  "Dayspring", 71, 281

  Decans, 142, 244, 245, 248

  De Cheseaux, 343

  Deep (_tehōm_), 25-34, 53, 201, 210, 211, 234
    fountains of, 52-54

  Delitzsch, Prof. Fr., 31, 157, 170, 171, 285

  Deluge, 49, 53, 83, 161, 165, 168, 170-185, 254

  Denning, W. F., 220

  Dial of Ahaz, 385-392

  Diana of the Ephesians, 112

  Dieulafoy, Marcel, 372

  Disraeli, 278

  Drach, 221

  Draconic period, 122

  Dragon's Head and Tail, 198, 199

  Driver, Dr., 172, 209

  Earth (_eretz_), 39
    corners of, 51
    foundations of, 39, 58
    pillars of, 39, 40

  East (_kedem_, front), 51
    (_mizrach_, rising), 51

  Eclipses, 118-129

  Edda, prose, 29

  Ellicott, Andrew, 114

  Epicureans, 71

  Epping, Dr., 274

  Equuleus, 152

  Eratosthenes, 218

  Ethanim, month, 85, 299

  Eudoxus, 5, 6, 37, 152, 345

  Euripides, 218

  Eusebius, 88

  Evenings, between the two, 277-279

  "Eyelids of the Morning", 117, 209, 210

  "False Dawn", 117

  Firmament (_raqia‘_), 35-38
    (_stereoma_), 37

  Flamsteed, first Astronomer Royal, 96

  Flood, _see_ Deluge

  _Gad_, 132, 217

  Galileo, 3, 4, 76

  Gamaliel, Rabbon, 297

  Genesis and the Constellations, 162-169

  Gesenius, 134

  Gilgamesh, Epic of, 167, 170, 177, 180

  Gosse, P. H., 209

  Groves, _see_ Asherah

  Guinness, Dr. H. Grattan, 343

  Heaven (_shamayim_), 35, 36, 38
    "bisection of", 55, 362
    foundations of, 39
    host of, 56, 57, 65
    pillars of, 39
    stories of, 40
    windows of, 49, 50, 53

  Heliacal rising, 59, 222, 224, 261

  Herschel, Sir W., 75, 76

  Hershon, P. I., 311

  Hesiod, 136, 152, 154, 216, 218, 237, 284

  Hesperus, 137, 232, 258

  Hipparchus, 5, 96, 250, 345

  Höffler, Dr., 266

  Hommel, Dr., 240

  Homer, 136, 153, 154

  Horace, 287, 288

  Hour (_sha‘ah_), 281
    double- (_kasbu_), 282, 320, 345, 381

  Humboldt, 114

  Hyades, 133, 217

  Ibrahim ben Ahmed, 114

  Iliad, 80

  Istar, 90, 131, 253, 323, 324

  Jehuda, Rabbi, 261

  Jensen, 240

  Josephus, 68, 187, 222, 279, 288, 289

  Joshua's Long Day, 351-384

  Jubilee, the, 326-336

  Jupiter, 104, 131, 132, 137, 247, 396
    (_Nibir_), 243, 247

  Juvenal, 288

  Karaite Jews, 278

  Kepler, 4, 96, 396

  _Kĕsīl_, 214-216, 231-232, 237-243, 251, 261, 262

  _Ketu_, 201

  _Kimah_, 214-216, 223, 231-232, 237, 241, 243, 251, 261, 262

  King, Dr. L. W., 240, 241, 303

  Kouyunjik mound, 27, 33

  Lance-star, 240

  Leonid meteors, 114, 116

  Leviathan, 196-212

  Longfellow, 233, 236

  Lucifer, 132

  Mädler, 220

  Maestlin, 219

  Mazzaroth (or Mazzaloth), 130, 214, 243-257, 270, 280

  _Meni_, 132, 217

  Mercury, 131, 137

  Merodach, 28, 29, 33, 131, 167, 178, 210, 234-242, 247, 252

  Meteors, 111-117

  Metonic Cycle, 306, 335, 336, 339, 344

  Milton, 107

  Mishna, the, 297, 311

  Mithraic cult, 160

  Month, 293-304 anomalistic, 342

  Months, Hebrew names for, 304

  Moon, 79-92
    blindness, 92
    -god (Sin), 87, 253, 323, 324
    harvest, 81
    new, 123
    phases of, 80, 91

  Müller, Otfried, 262

  Newton, 4

  Nisan, month, 300, 304, 310, 311, 315, 320

  Node, 121, 122

  North (_mezarim_), 262, 263
    (_tsaphon_), 51

  Onias, 68

  Orion, 231-242

  Ovid, 288

  Palestine Exploration Fund, map, 360, 362

  Panyasis 152

  Parallax, 73, 98, 265

  Persius, 288

  Peschitta, 259, 261

  Philo, 289

  Phosphorus, 132, 137

  Pinches, T. G., 27, 28, 30, 31, 90, 176, 235

  Pleiades, 133, 152, 213-230

  Precession, 158

  Pritchard, Prof. C., 397

  Proctor, R. A., 107, 108, 135, 141

  Procyon, 152, 240

  Ptolemy, Claudius, 5, 76, 96, 149-154

  Ptolemy Philometer, 68

  Pythagoras, 137, 345

  _Rahab_ (the proud one), 204-206, 211

  _Rahu_, 201

  Rain, 42-45, 49

  "Records of the Past", 26, 28

  _Remphan_, 133, 134

  Ring with wings, 88, 126, 129

  Ruskin, 46

  Sabbath, 22-24, 283-292

  Sabbatic Year and the Jubilee, 326-336

  Samaritans, 278

  Samas (sun-god), _see_ Sun

  Sanchoniathon, 88

  _Sanhedrim_, 296

  Saros, the, 122, 123, 346

  Saturn and Astrology, 130-145

  Sayce, A. H., 33, 315

  Schiaparelli, G. V., 7, 41, 43, 139, 145, 198, 253, 254, 261-263, 269,
      279, 285, 286, 290

  Septuagint Version, 37, 133, 134, 161, 215, 231, 241, 258, 259

  Sin (moon-god), _see_ Moon

  Sirius, 98, 240

  Sivan, month, 303, 320

  Smith, George, 27, 30

  South (_darom_, bright), 51
    (_negeb_, desert), 51

  Star of Bethlehem, 393-400

  Stars, 75, 95-100
    morning, 59-61
    royal, 160
    shooting, 113
    Triad of, 253, 320

  Statius, 222

  Stern, Prof., 261, 262

  Strassmaier, 274, 285

  Sun, 55, 63-78
    -god (Samas), 67, 131, 174, 253, 323, 324
    -stroke, 72

  Talmud, 222, 279, 297, 311

  Tammuz, 66

  Targum, the Jerusalem, 190

  Tavthê, _see_ Tiamat

  _Tehōm_, _see_ Deep

  Tennyson, 36, 79, 80

  Thales, 345

  Thiele, Prof., 15, 16

  Tiamat, or Tiamtu, 27-29, 32, 34, 201, 210, 234-235, 240-242

  Tibullus, 288

  Tides, 41, 53, 92

  Tribes of Israel and the Zodiac, 186-195

  Tycho Brahé, 96

  Venus, 90, 131, 132, 136, 137

  Virgil, 160

  Vulgate, 258, 259

  Week and the Sabbath, 283-292

  West (_mebō hasshemesh_, going down of the sun), 51
    (_yam_, the sea), 51

  Winckler, Prof. H., 235

  Winds, 50, 51

  Wormwood, the star, 116

  Xenophanes, 71

  Year, 305-325
    (_shanah_), 305

  Yehoshua, Rabbi, 297

  Zeuchros, 142, 249

  Zif, month, 85, 299

  Zodiac, constellations of, 141, 151, 152
    sections of (_mizrata_), 243, 251
    signs of, 141, 245, 249

  Zodiacal Light, 117


Transcriber's Notes:

Ellipses match the original except in poetry quotations where a row of
asterisks represent an ellipses.

The following corrections have been made to the text:

     Page 27: shows the god Anšar[original has An[)s]ar]

     Page 29: not a Creation myth at all.[period missing in

     Page 89: representing the sun[original has son] and moon

     Page 140: place of an actual star into a horoscope;[semi-colon
     missing in original]

     Page 176: gods and the spirits of heaven.[period missing in

     Page 176: '[quotation mark missing in original]What, has a
     soul escaped?

     Page 176: '[original has double quote]Thou sage of the gods,

     Page 206: "[quotation mark missing in original]I have given
     thee for meat

     Page 260: "tail" of the Great Bear[original has extraneous
     quotation mark]

     Page 374: and it was now noon,[comma missing in original] the

     Page 389: fifteen Psalms (cxx.-cxxxiv.)[original has

     Page 405: Allen, R. H. 221,[comma missing in original] 222

     Page 405: "Alroy" 278[original has 221]

     Page 407: Hommel[original has Hömmel], Dr. 240

     Page 410: Tavthê[original has Tavthé], _see_ Tiamat

The following words use an oe ligature in the original:


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