Israel’s Sons and the Zodiac

We would guess that many of our readers are already familiar with the subject of the following article, so for you it serves as a refresher course. For those readers to whom this is new, we expect you will find great delight in learning of this ancient knowledge. You will shout hallelu-Yah” and amen” as you find your mind and spirit agreeing with the opening line—the quotation of Psalm 19:1.

This article was published in the March 2000 issue in our collection of the now defunct Kingdom Digest magazine. But the article was originally written probably about 120 years ago.

(We still carry Bishop Allen’s classic study of the lost tribes of Israel,” Judah’s Sceptre and Joseph’s Birthright, a hardback of 377 pages. Available from us for $24, plus $7 s & h.)

Israel’s Sons and the Zodiac

By Rev. Bishop J. H. Allen

Said the Psalmist, The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork” (Ps. 19: 1). In this text of Scripture we have two clauses, the second telling us that the firmament shows or reveals the handiwork of God; or, in other words, that when we look upon the glittering heavens on a dark night there is revealed to us, who dwell upon the earth, the handiwork of God.

David was so lost in wonder at the stupendousness of it all, he, together with all mankind, seeming such mere atoms, that he exclaimed:

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?” (Ps. 8: 3-4).

The first part of the sentence does not tell us that the heavens show or reveal the glorious handiwork of God, but that they declare something, and this is the truth that we desire to consider and to which we wish to call your thoughtful attention — that the heavens, as well as showing the handiwork of God, also declare His glory. Now, the heavens, in order to declare, state, or tell anything, must have some way of making it known to us; and this is just what the Psalmist meant when he said:

Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” (Ps. 19: 2-4).

Therefore, since Holy Writ tells us that the heavens have power to declare the glory of God, we are led to understand that the heavens have somehow, in some way, been endowed with the power of speech, or language, by which they may declare these things; and that their voice and their words have gone out through all the earth.

For nothing can be declared without speech, language, words or voice, to proclaim that which is to be made known. We must, then, endeavor to learn the language in order to understand what the heavens declare. Why were the stars and the other lights in the firmamental heavens created?

One reason is, of course, that they should be for lights to divide the day from the night. Yet four other reasons are found in the following verse, Let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years” (Gen. 1:14).

To take the last of these reasons, for years”, we find that Mazzaroth, or the twelve signs of the zodiac, is the apparent path of the sun on the wall of the sky, as viewed from the earth, while it is making its annual revolution around the sun.

The earth’s progress is, or may be, computed nightly by the twelve constellations or star groupings through which it passes month by month as it makes a yearly trip in 365 and a fraction days.

As to the third reason, `for days”, in the 89th Psalm concerning, the covenant promises to David regarding the perpetuity of his seed and his throne, we have the following:

His seed also will I make to endure.for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven

His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon. (Ps. 89: 29; 36­-37.)

Herein are three expressions used in connection with for ever”: (1) as the days of heaven,” (2) as the sun”, (3) as the moon.” They are all astronomic phrases; the sun is the light of the earth by day; the moon, its light by night; the days of heaven” are produced by the diurnal motion of the earth on its axis — days tolled off by heavenly or celestial motion, time itself being only a record of astronomic motion.

The lights in the firmament of the heaven were also for seasons,“ dividing the year into spring, summer, autumn and winter. These are determined by the period of time it takes for the earth to move through three constellations of the zodiac.

But, first, the lights in the firmament were for signs” — and as soon as we learn the signs, we shall be able to understand what the heavens declare. What!” cries someone, learn the signs?” Yes, learn the signs. People say, I can read music.” But, we ask, how can they read music except they first learn the signs?

It is impossible to read it any other way; signs such as a treble and a bass clef, various notes and rests must all be understood by the reader of music. For example, we are communicating with you now by signs. The very letters on this page are a set of arbitrary signs, word signs, to convey our thoughts to you.

In the same way the stars in the heavens are for signs. The names of the constellations show forth the glory of God in that they declare, as we purpose to show, the same general and fundamental facts which are found recorded in the Bible.

The name Mazzaroth, if it had been translated instead of being transferred, would have read the twelve signs” (Job 38: 32). The twelve constellations which form the circle of the zodiac appearing in the visible heavens in their seasons have been called throughout the ages by all nations everywhere, the twelve signs.”

These twelve signs correspond to and are perfectly analogous with the twelve sons of Jacob — the twelve patriarchs or heads of the twelve tribes of Israel. The name of each sign is connected in some way with one of the tribes of Israel.

In some instances the name of the constellation contains the meaning of the name of a tribe, or it refers to some special historic fact or prophetic utterance concerning one of the tribal heads, in such a manner as to identify it with one or the other of the twelve sons of Jacob.

Thus, of Reuben, the firstborn of Leah and Jacob, it is said:

Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then defilest thou it” (Gen. 49: 4).

Reuben is identified with Aquarius, the waterman. The name Reuben means Behold the man,” or, as Leah said at his birth, See, a man,“ but he proved himself to be a man unstable as water. Aquarius, the waterman, literally means, poured out like water,” and the sign is always represented as a man pouring out water. Reuben, the man unstable as water, thus becomes the waterman.

Another one of these twelve signs is called Gemini, and is defined as meaning brethren joined.” It is a remarkable fact that when Levi, the third son of Jacob and Leah, was born, his mother said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have borne him three sons” (Gen. 29: 34). Therefore, she called his name Joined” or Levi”— for Levi means joined, as the marginal reading shows.

But it is also a fact that while Leah, who felt that she was hated, was greatly pleased at the birth of Simeon, the second son, she could not feel that her husband was really joined in heart to her until Levi was born. Another notable feature concerning these two sons is found in the following:

Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. 0 my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man …. Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel” (Gen. 49:5-7).

These brethren correspond to the constellation Gemini.

Of Judah, the fourth son of Jacob and Leah, it is said: 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? (Gen.49: 9.)

There is a constellation in the zodiac called Leo, which means the lion.” In the charts or maps of the celestial heavens, Leo is always represented by the figure of a great rampant lion, standing on his hind feet, and leaping forth with one of his forepaws lifted ready to strike a writhing serpent.

The family ensign of Judah has always been a lion, and it was under this standard that the tribes of Issachar and Zebulun, with Judah, gathered and camped, and by the side of which they marched throughout the forty years of their wanderings in the wilderness.

Paul says, It is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah” (Heb. 7: 14), in consequence of which he is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah.”

Of Zebulun it is written:

Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships” (Gen. 49:13).

The counterpart of Zebulun is the constellation or sign of Cancer, meaning the crab, dweller of the sea, not a deep-sea dweller, but an inshore dweller, a dweller in the havens or harbors. This sign Cancer also limits the sun’s course northward in summer.

Hence, it is the sign of the summer solstice that, when reached, is like the haven or harbor, the point at which the sailor must turn and go back again. Argo, which means a ship, is one of the decans or side pieces of the constellation of Cancer — the sea dweller.

Ships and their crews are ever going to and fro from the havens of the sea. Thus is emphasized the fact that the star signs in the sky corroborate the prophecy, Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships.”

Dan,” it is declared:

Shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward” (Gen. 49: 17).

In the margin we have arrow-snake” instead of adder.” Also, in the heavens, among the twelve signs, there is one called Scorpio, the Scorpion. One of the decans of the constellation of Scorpio is Hercules, the strong man wounded in the heel; and also Ophiuchus, the one battling with the serpent, is stung in one heel. Woe to him who goes to war with Dan, for he and Scorpio are figuratively one and the same.

The forty-ninth chapter of Genesis says of Gad:

A troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last” (Gen. 49: 19).

And in Deuteronomy we read, Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad” (33: 20). Take the name Gad and reverse it as the Hebrew does, in reading from right to left, and you have Dag, which is the Hebrew for fish. Among the twelve constellations we have Pisces, the fishes, which is always represented by two fishes in the act of swimming, one to the northward and one along the ecliptic.

Concerning Joseph, it is prophesied:

Joseph is a fruitful bough … whose branches run over the wall: the archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: but his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob” (Gen. 49: 22-24).

Joseph corresponds to Sagittarius, the Bowman. The conquering bowman in the sky has found his complement in Joseph, the conquering bowman of God’s chosen people. The bow of Joseph abode in strength, and the arms, his fighting strength, his munitions of war, the arms of his hands which hold the bow and place the arrow are made strong by the mighty God of Jacob:

Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep [the ocean], that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: the blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills; they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren” (Gen. 49: 25-26).

To be a descendant of the House of Joseph is to enjoy all the blessings. Joseph had two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, whose mother was an Egyptian princess, the daughter of a Prince of On, as the margin reads.

When Joseph went to visit his dying father, God revealed to him that the sons of Joseph were to inherit the Abrahamic birthright blessing, the blessing of the firstborn in place of Reuben. In consequence, these sons of Joseph, born in Egypt, were fully adopted by Jacob:

And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine” (Gen. 48: 5).

Now the sons of Reuben, the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn); but, forasmuch as he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph, the son of Israel”(I Chron. 5: 1).

And in transferring the birthright to the sons of Joseph, Jacob said: God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name (Israel) be named on them, and the name of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac; and let them

grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth …. He (Manasseh) also shall become a people (a separate nation), and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations. And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel (the rest of the tribes) bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim, and as Manasseh; and he set Ephraim before Manasseh” (Gen. 48: 15-20).

Further corroboration of this transfer of the birthright is found in Jeremiah 31: 9, I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.” Birthright and firstborn are the same word in the Hebrew original.

Now, with these points clear, we come to the subject of another constellation, which finds its complement in the whole house of Joseph-Israel. Taurus is represented in the illustrated planispheres by the head, horns, shoulders and forefeet of a powerful bull, charging and pushing forward with masterful energy:

His glory is like the firstling (birthright) of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns (the wild ox): with them he shall push the people (nations) together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.” (Deut. 33. 17).

The bull was the tribal ensign, standard, or heraldic banner of Ephraim: I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus …. I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke” (Jer 31: 18).

Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me” (Ps. 22: 12).

Bashan was a part of the territory belonging to the land inherited by Ephraim:

Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria (both the country and capital city of Ephraim, or Joseph-Israel, were called Samaria), which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink The Lord God hath sworn by his holiness, that, lo, the days shall come upon you, that he will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fishhooks. And ye shall go out at the breaches, every cow at that which is before her.” (Amos 4: 1-3.)

Though thou, Israel (the ten tribes), play the harlot, yet let not Judah (the Jews) offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bet haven (the house of vanity), nor swear, The Lord liveth. For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer: now the Lord will feed them as a lamb in a large place. Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone” (Hosea 4: 15-17).

The idols, to which Ephraim-Israel (the ten-tribed kingdom) were joined, were the two golden calves, which the first king of the ten tribes, Jeroboam, an Ephraimite of the House of Joseph, set up, one in Bethel and one in Dan, for them to worship. The calf, or ox, was the emblem on the standard of Ephraim under which that tribe marched for forty years in the wilderness.

As there were two tribes for Joseph, Manasseh having his tribal lot as well as Ephraim (see Joshua 17: 1), and there being only twelve divisions or lots in the land of their inheritance, one tribe, Levi, had no portion in the land. Levi was, therefore, joined with Simeon.


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