Astrology and the Bible, Part 4
The Magi and the Star
Perhaps the most stark, but positive, presentation of astrology in the Bible is the story of the wise men, or magi, who were guided by a star to find the Messiah. Let us examine the scripture on this:
Matt 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
Matt 2:2 Saying, 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.
Matt 2:3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
Matt 2:4-5 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is
written by the prophet,
Matt 2:6 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.
Matt 2:7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
Matt 2:8 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.
Matt 2:9 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.
Matt 2:10-11 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
Matt 2:12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
The word “wise men” is a euphemistic translation to water down the meaning of the Greek word MAGOS. A few translations more accurately render the word “magi,” but most still use the term “wise men” to avoid any connection with the occult or astrology.
This word is also translated as “sorcerer” in Acts 13:6-8. This particular magi was called a “false prophet” and if this was all the scripture we had where this word was used then all fundamentalists would indeed be proclaiming that all magi are evil, just as they proclaim that equivalent Hebrew terms are spawned from hell.
But that fact that there was an evil magi in Acts 13 does not mean that there cannot be a good magi. And indeed the Bible does teach that there is such a thing as good magi for it indeed speaks of the “wise men” (MAGOS) on positive terms. It tells us (1) they recognized the Messiah, (2) they brought him gifts and (3) God recognized their virtue by warning them of danger in a dream (Matt 2:12).
The question now arises as to who or what these magi were and why were they awaiting a messiah?
As stated earlier the term comes from the Greek MAGOS, which Strong’s defines as “a magician, or sorcerer.”
The Blue letter Bible states that it is the name given by the Babylonians (Chaldeans), Medes, Persians, and others, to the wise men, teachers, priests, physicians, astrologers, seers, interpreters of dreams, augers, soothsayers, sorcerers etc.
The New Catholic Encyclopedia says this about the magi:
“The Magi were specialists in interpreting the signs in the heavens. According to the dialogue “Alcibiades”, ascribed to Plato, the Persian Magi practiced a form of spiritual mysticism which was their religion. .
“The word ‘Magi’ is the plural form of the word ‘magus’ (from old Persian ‘magu’) which designates a member of an ancient Near Eastern priestly caste.
“Catholics celebrate the visit of the Magi with the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6th). There is no mention of the number of the Magi who came to pay homage to Christ. The idea that the Magi were three in number may have grown from the number of gifts (gold, frankincense and myrrh) offered to the infant Christ.”
Other legends claim there were twelve magi in all and one of the special gifts they brought to the Christ was an ancient scroll written by Seth, the son of Adam. This scroll was said to contain prophesies of the Messiah and the signs which would appear at his birth.
This brings up an interesting question. Why would these supposed heathen magicians have an interest in the Jewish Messiah? And if they had ancient Jewish scrolls why would they have taken them seriously?
The answer to this is a startling one that you will never hear in Sunday School.
After Daniel saved the lives of the Astrologers of Babylon by interpreting the kings dream we read:
“Then the king made Daniel a great man, and gave him many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and CHIEF OF THE GOVERNORS OVER ALL THE WISE MEN (magi/astrologers) OF BABYLON.” Daniel 2:48
So who became the chief magi/astrologer and lead teacher of all the astrologers in Babylon?
None other than Daniel; the prophet.
What do you suppose Daniel taught the Babylonian astrologers as their leader?
If he had the scrolls of Seth and other prophesies of the Messiah he would have indeed taught them about these. If he was aware of certain planetary configurations which would portend the birth of Christ he would have surely taught them about these.
And because Daniel saved their lives they undoubtedly would have listened to and respected his teachings.
The Syrian scholar Abu’l Faragius (1226-1286) tells us that when Zoroaster was in Babylon he became a pupil of Daniel and taught some of his astrological teachings when he founded his great religion in Persia.
It is indeed interesting to note that legend has it that there were twelve magi in the East who’s job it was to search the skies for signs of the Messiah and when one died another took his place until the looked for configuration appeared.
So what was this new star which appeared?
Actually between 7BC-1BC there were numerous “signs” in the heavens that a person of destiny was about to arrive. For one thing the age of Pisces was solidly over the threshold, yet no new Moses or Saviour of the new age of Pisces had yet arrived. In the minds of astrologers of the day the time of his coming could not be delayed much longer.
Here are some signs:
7 BC Jupiter and Saturn conjuncted in Pisces three times during a six month period. May 29, Oct 3 (The Jewish day of Atonement) and Dec 4. This even happens once every 900 years.
April 17th 6 BC The Moon eclipsed Jupiter in the Constellation of Aries. It went retrograde Aug 23 and Dec 19.
Feb 6, 6 BC A Triple Planetary Conjunction Jupiter, Saturn and Mars in Pisces. This only occurs once every 900 years.
The Chinese reported a super nova in March and April of 5 BC
Ancient Korean and Chinese texts both agree that a comet appeared around March of 5 BC and was visible for 70 days.
Feb 20, 5 BC The moon passed close to Jupiter while Saturn and Mars were conjuncting. All this was in Pisces.
Thus we see that astrologers watching for signs during this time period had plenty of anomalies to behold that seemed to portend a great event on the horizon. Surely the people of that time were living in a period of great expectation.
Does the scripture give us any additional clues about the event? Let us take a closer look:
“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men (magi/astrologers) from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, 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. Matt 2:1-2
Here we learn that these particular magi were definitely astrologers for they were followers of the stars.
A phrase of interest here is “we have seen his star in the east.” “In the east,” here comes from EN TE ANATOLE. When the singular “anatole” is used it’s meaning is more than a literal “east” but in reference to a star takes on special astrological implications. The literal translation would be close to “star at the rising” or “Morning Star.”
It is interesting that “at the rising” is a definite astrological term and would indicate the last star visible on the ascendant. The last star or planet visible in the morning was also called the “Morning Star.”
Notice that the magi call the star “his star.” Why would they call the Morning star “his (Christ’s) star?”
The answer is quite simple. Jesus said:
“I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” Rev 22:16
It is also interesting that Luke identifies Jesus using the word ANATOLE:
“Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring (ANATOLE – rising or morning star) from on high (from HUPSOS – heavenly place) hath visited us.” Luke 1:78
The morning star is “his star” because he is the “morning star” for us. He is the light that guides us to the heart of the Sun. Apparently the magi knew this even before the birth of Christ.
Whereas Venus usually takes the title of “the morning star,” Jupiter is also called this at times because it is sometimes a the brightest (and last) object visible in the morning sky.
Therefore when the magi spoke of “his star” they were either referring to Venus or Jupiter, or even possibly both of them in conjunction with each other or other planets. Venus and Jupiter conjuncted August 12, 3 BC, June of 2 BC and August 21, 1 BC. Because of their brightness a conjunction would have produced a super star that may have even been visible after the sun came up.
Some scholars say this was not the star of Bethlehem because it is out of sink with the death of Herod who is said to have died in early 4 BC. However, there is some dispute on this because the source of this may have been based on misinformation supplied by his sons and a possible transcribing error by Josephus. Nevertheless, mainstream historians and coin experts stick with 4 BC as his death date
If Herod did die in early 4 BC this means the great sign had to first appear 6 BC or earlier for the scripture tells us that “he had diligently enquired of the wise men” to discover “what time the star appeared.” Afterwards in an attempt to kill the messiah he had all children under the age of two years killed. This would indicate that the sign appeared as far back as two years before the visit of the magi which would have been 6 BC or earlier.
The most spectacular sign in the heavens involving a “morning star in this time period was the triple planetary conjunction on Feb 6, 6 BC of Jupiter (a morning star), Saturn and Mars in Pisces. This only occurs once every 900 years.
Another lesser known celestial event is supported by a book called The Star of Bethlehem: The Legacy of the Magi by Michael R. Molnar. Molner contends that even though the age of Pisces was on the horizon the constellation of Aries was of supreme importance for the Jews. He writes:
“In the spring of 1990 I purchased a lovely bronze coin from ancient Antioch which portrayed the zodiacal sign, Aries the Ram looking back at an overhead star. I bought the coin for $50. But the coin turned out to be priceless because I found that this was the sign of the zodiac that represented King Herod’s kingdom. The so-called “bible of astrology” the Tetrabiblos of Claudius Ptolemy explained that Aries the Ram controlled the people of “Judea, Idumea, Samaria, Palestine, and Coele Syria” – lands ruled by King Herod. I think the coin was issued by the Romans of Antioch to commemorate their takeover of Judea in AD 6.”
He further writes about a significant astrological event around the morning star of Jupiter:
“The second occultation (eclipse) on April 17 coincided precisely when Jupiter was “in the east,” a condition mentioned twice in the biblical account about the Star of Bethlehem. In August of that year Jupiter became stationary and then “went before” through Aries where it became stationary again on December 19, 6 BC. This is when the regal planet “stood over.” – a secondary royal portent also described in the Bible. In particular, there is confirmation from a Roman astrologer that the conditions of April 17, 6 BC were believed to herald the birth of a divine, immortal, and omnipotent person born under the sign of the Jews, which we now know was Aries the Ram. Furthermore, the coins of Antioch and ancient astrological documents show that there was indeed a Star of Bethlehem as reported in the biblical account of Matthew.” Quotes from the author’s web page now inactive.
Molner mentions Jupiter standing over the young Jesus. He is referring to this scripture:
“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.” Matt 2:9
From this believers conjure up the idea that some magical light from the heavens shined some type of laser beam before the magi until they arrived at Jesus’ address.
This fanciful thinking dissipates when one sees the astrological meaning in the verse.
“Went before” comes from PROAGO which means to “lead forth” or “to go before.”
“Stood over” comes from the Greek HISTEMI EPANO which is more accurately translated as “stopped above.”
Any amateur astrologer knows that when a planet stops in the above sky it is in transition period to go retrograde. It is seen to be standing still in the heavens, or “stationary direct.”
Of course, the planets do not really stand still but because the orbits of each of the planets differ in length and distance an illusion is created from the vantage point of the earth and during the stationery direct period a visible planet will not appear to move in the sky.
This tells us that during the visit of the magi to Bethlehem that either Venus or Jupiter went retrograde and stood still in the heavens for a time. The planet apparently went stationary direct at the same time they entered Bethlehem and the Magi took this as a sign from God that they had found the place of destiny.
Even though books could be (and have been) written on astrology and the Bible I will limit myself to one more – the four beasts of Revelation:
“And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
“And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” Rev 4:6-8
The most obvious thing of interest here is that these four beasts are symbols of the fixed cross of the zodiac. The first beast was the lion, the symbol of Leo, the second a calf for Taurus, the third a man, a symbol of Aquarius and the fourth a flying eagle, one of the symbols of Scorpio.
Each sign of the zodiac is in one of the three crosses, the mutable, the fixed and the cardinal. The fact that all four of these signs are in one cross shows that the astrological connection is no coincidence, but an important message is embedded therein through symbolism.
The meaning of the fixed cross fixed intent, persistence, reliability and firmness – that which can be depended upon.
This gave the early saints three messages. (1) You can depend on God to stand by you and (2) he who endures to the end shall be saved. (3) a symbol of the cross whereon the Son of God was fixed between heaven and earth.
Each of the beasts has six wings. Isaiah calls these beasts Seraphim
“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” Isa 6:1-3
Searaphim comes from the Hebrew SARAPH and means “burning or fiery ones.” This is translated as “fiery serpents” in Numbers 21:6 & 8 and as a “fiery flying serpent” in Isaiah 14:29
The fact that these four beasts are associated with serpents (a symbol of wisdom) tells us that there is much wisdom to be gained through an understanding of the fours signs of the fixed cross. The fact that they are fiery before the throne of God is a sign that enlightenment can come through the contemplation of God’s handiwork in the heavens.
The six wings are a symbol of the six worlds of creation with the seventh being the throne of God. Four wings cover the fiery light and only two are in use which tells us that average humanity cannot see (wings covering the face) or work (wings covering the feet) in the higher worlds. They are limited to two worlds – the physical and emotional. When the “mark of the beast” is removed two more wings shall be free and cause the seeker to gain greater power of flight to the world of the mind and intuition or higher love.
The four beasts were “full of eyes before and behind.” “Before” is a symbol of a vision of the future and “behind” a symbol of the past. The beasts speak of that “which was, and is, and is to come.”
This tells us that when we uncover the secrets of the throne of God (the stars of heaven) that we can decode the secrets of the past, present and future. This is the destiny of the science of astrology which is yet in its infancy as far as the general understanding of humanity is concerned.
Copyright By J J Dewey
Feb 16, 2002
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