THIS ARTICLE IS A CHAPTER OF A NEW BOOK BY KARNI ZOR, SOON TO BE PUBLISHED
The first Jew, Abraham as the Bible tells us, was told by God to leave his homeland and move to a new one. The old home was in Mesopotamia, and when he left Abraham took the knowledge of the stars with him. He must have used them, as did all travelers of his time, in order to find his way to Canaan, later known as the land of Israel.
But Abraham did not use the stars solely for navigation. One of the first things he was told by the Lord was to look up at the skies for his own destiny. He learned that the future can be better understood by studying the multitude of stars. It is said that Abraham knew the language of the stars and that he was one of the Mesopotamian magi.
The very name Abraham contains a puzzle, for it anagrams to “A Brahma”. Brahma was the creator god in the Hindu (or Brahmin) tradition that rose about the same time as Judaism.
Brahma worked as part of a triad, three gods that held the cosmic principle: positive, negative and neutral. Brahma was the creator, Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the destroyer.
Abraham was part of a triad as well. Together with his two sons, Isaac and Jacob, he was the first of the Three Fathers.
His son, Isaac, was of a good temper. Even his name tells of his pleasant character, as it means literally “he shall laugh”.
Jacob, on the other hand, was a troublemaker. Whilst in his mother’s womb he raveled his twin brother and later on Jacob tricked Esau into giving him the right to inherit from their father. Later on Jacob fought an angel and defeated it, and was renamed by the name Israel, which literally means “the one who confronted god himself and defeated it”.
Could it be that for some reason or another 3000 years ago the wisdom of the three powers, the cardinal, fixed and mutable, spread out of Mesopotamia both East and West, through a person or as an idea?
In the Jewish tradition the cosmic triad was accompanied by a four-fold planetary grouping, embodied in the Four Mothers: Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Lea.
Threefold and fourfold patterns like these are the sort of thing that gladdens the hearts of astrology lovers. The threefold and a fourfold creators here marked the beginning of the Jewish people, but there is more. Exploring further into the esoteric origins of western culture, the unification of the three fathers and the four mothers produced, eventually, a dozen descendants – the 12 sons of Jacob/Israel, who fathered the 12 tribes of Israel.
The Israelites’ connection to the stars continued with Joseph, one of the 12 sons of Jacob. He carried on the family tradition by telling the Pharaoh of Egypt of fore coming celestial events and so became Pharaoh’s closest astrologer and trusted advisor.
It is said that in the Book of Numbers when the number of people in each of the twelve tribes is counted, it actually depicts the relevant number of stars in the associated zodiac constellation. Each of the 12 tribes of Israel is associated with a constellation of the zodiac:
Aries – Gad
Taurus – Ephraim
Gemini – Menashe
Cancer – Issachar
Leo – Judea
Virgo – Naphtali
Libra – Asher
Scorpio – Dan
Sagittarius – Binyamin
Capricorn – Zvulon
Aquarius – Reuven
Pisces – Shimon
The 12 tribes’ gemstones, or the essence of the 12 constellations, appeared on the great priest’s breastplate to guide his way as he led the people.
The bible is filled with riddles, clues and hints of the esoteric meaning behind the 12 tribes.
In Jacob’s blessing to his 12 sons (Genesis 49) he describes Dan (Scorpio) as a snake biting the horse rider’s leg. The snake of course is the symbol of Scorpio, and the rider is Sagittarius. And in fact the part of Scorpio’s constellation that ‘invades’ the realm of Sagittarius is also known as “The Snake”. Further on Jacob depicts Judea as a lion (Leo) and Ephraim as a bull.
Esoteric astrology lovers might be interested in having a look at the description of the locations of the twelve Israelite tribes around the Tabernacle during their voyage to the holy land (Book of Numbers, 2):
To the East: The Camp of Judah – Judah, Issachar and Zebulun;
To the South – The Camp of Reuben – Reuben. Simeon and Gad;
To the West – The Camp of Ephraim – Ephraim, Mannasseh and Benjamin
To the North: The Camp of Dan – Dan, Asher and Naphtali.
Let’s start with the meaningful division to four sets of three.
The leaders of each camp represent the four cardinal signs: Leo (Judah), Aquarius (Reuben), Taurus (Ephraim) and Scorpio (Dan).
When we place the camps we find these sets:
Leo, Cancer and Capricorn
Aqaurius, Pisces and Aries,
Taurus, Gemini and Sagittarius
Scorpio, Libra and Virgo
Aquarius leads its two following signs, Scorpio leads its two preceding signs, and Leo and Taurus lead the two opposing signs that together mark a cross upon the zodiac.
The line of Capricorn and Cancer marks earth’s tilt between the tropic of Capricorn and the tropic of Cancer, and the line between Sagittarius and Gemini is the region of the sky in which our Milky Way galaxy can be seen.
The more observant will also notice that the Old Testament can be read as the story of the passage from the Age of Taurus to the Age of Aries. This transition is well described in the story of the Israelites fleeing from Taurean Egypt and moving into the dominion of the Ram-God. While fleeing Egypt the Israelites marked their houses with the blood of a lamb. In Judaism the sacrifice of a lamb is taken on as day one, when Isaac killed a lamb instead of his son, and even today the holiest days are heralded by blowing a ram’s horn.
While waiting for the Ten Commandments the Israelites could not wait any longer for the word of the new lord, and in their haste they tried to build a golden calf, a little bull that held the essence of their previous, Taurean tradition.
And there is more:
In the description of the twelve tribes, or the twelve constellations, we can almost hear the echo of fear and wonder as they saw the constellation of Taurus slowly disappearing from its known position, and Aries taking its place. For the ancient Jews it must have seemed that the skies themselves were changing.
In the Book of Numbers it is as if the writer is obsessed with counting the numbers of people in each tribe again and again. In some tribes the numbers grow whilst in others they lessen. Maybe what we are reading is the need to constantly check the numbers of stars in each constellation, for as time passed the areas of the skies that used to relate to the known seasons slowly changed with the gradual slippage of the precession of the equinoxes. Ephraim, the Bull, is related to as “a bull with the horns of a ram” as the two constellations started to merge into one another. And maybe the description of the snake biting on the rider’s leg describes the appearance of the end of Scorpio when Sagittarius should have risen?
Sadly, nowadays astrology is considered a sin by orthodox Jews. It is said that the prophecy of the stars is a gentile tradition that has no place in Judaism. But Jewish astrology is far from dead. It prevails in the Jewish esoteric tradition of the Kabala, and threads from the enormous astrological influence upon this rich heritage are still embedded even in the most orthodox writings. Every religious Jew prays once a month to the moon, on full moon nights, and the Jewish lunar months are still closely related to the constellation traditionally seen in them.