Back to Articles
Astrology and the Bible
by Joseph J. Dewey
1. Astrology and the Old Testament
The first question to ask is why, in the first place, do many Bible believers think that Astrology is either evil or condemned by God? There are several scriptures that present a problem. Let us examine a popular one.
There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. Deuteronomy 18:10
For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do. Deuteronomy 18:14
Let us translate this from the Concordant version which I believe to be the most accurate overall.
There shall not be found among you one causing his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or one divining divinations, or consulting clouds, auguring or enchanting? Deuteronomy 18:10 (Concordant)
For these nations in whose place you are tenanting, they hearken to cloud consulters and diviners. As for you Yahweh your Elohim does not allow you to do so. Deuteronomy 18:14 Concordant)
The main item in question here comes from the phrase "observers of times" which most believe refers to astrology. The phrase comes from the Hebrew ANAN which literally means "to cover." This comes from ANAWN which is the Hebrew for cloud.
Interestingly ANAN is used in the following verse after the flood of Noah:
And it shall come to pass, when I bring (ANAN) a cloud (ANAWN) over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: Genesis 9:14
Because the earliest use of ANAN is associated with the motion of clouds we can see why the Concordant version translates it in Deuteronomy as one who consults or interprets patterns in clouds, a quite different art than that of astrology. ANAN corresponds more closely with a tea leaf reader than an astrologer.
Another questionable verse comes from Daniel:
And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them (Daniel and his friends) ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm. Daniel 1:20
The word "magicians" comes from the Chaldean CHARTOM which is interpreted as "magician" because of its context throughout the Bible but more than likely merely refers to a "keeper of permanent records," probably hieroglyphics of hidden or occult knowledge. Because they possessed hidden knowledge, it is quite possible this led to them being seen as magicians.
The Concordant Version translates this word as "sacred scribes."
"Astrologers" comes from ASHSHAPH and seems to be of mysterious origin. It is generally translated as "astrologer."
The meaning here is probably the same as the Greek "Magi" or "Magos," the title of the astrologers who visited Jesus as a child. This is evidenced by the fact that the earliest known Greek manuscript of Daniel translates ASHSHAPH as "Magi." The Concordant Version agrees and translates the word also as Magi.
According to historical evidence the magi could have indeed been astrologers as part of their work, but they were also philosophers, counselors and interpreters of the signs of the times.
The idea that Daniel and his friends were "ten times" wiser is misleading. In the original language the term was a unit of measurement. It was more like saying that Daniel was "miles ahead" of his competition. So Daniel was "head and shoulders" above the Babylonian astrologers and record keepers "in all matters of wisdom and understanding." This indicates to us that the Babylonian Magi were more than just astrologers but also philosophers.
When the king found that none of the astrologers could interpret his dream he decided to have them all killed. The interesting thing is, that included in this group of wise astrologers to be destroyed, was Daniel and his friends. Daniel was then concerned when he learned that the "wise men" including himself would be killed so he petitioned to God for knowledge that he and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men (magi/astrologers) of Babylon.
Then, as we know, Daniel received knowledge from God about the meaning of the dream which truly impressed the King. The scripture reads:
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 of Babylon. Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king. Daniel 2:48-49
Daniel, who was clearly named as one of the wise men (another name for the magi/astrologers), was appointed "governor" over all the magi. Obviously Daniel was an astrologer/magi himself if he was identified as such by the king when they were targeted for death and later as their leader when they were allowed to live.
Therefore, if astrology is evil, Daniel and his friends were evil.
There are several other scriptures which are used to discredit astrology. A popular one is in Deuteronomy 4:16-19:
Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth: 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, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven. Deuteronomy 4:16-19
This scripture is against the making or worshiping of engraven images. This no more condemns people for studying the influence of the stars than it does the study of psychology, or the influence of one person upon another. The scripture commands the people to not make an image in the "likeness of male or female." Does this then make all males and females evil?
Of course not, but by the same reasoning neither is astrology evil. Here is another one:
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 thee. Isaiah 47:13
This was not a condemnation of the astrologers, but of the kingdom of Babylon for its "wickedness" in enslaving the Israelites and self-serving attitude, among other things. To say that the astrologers could not save Babylon because of her misdeeds is like saying a doctor cannot save a patient because he has abused his body. Such line of reasoning is neither a condemnation of astrologers or doctors.
The interesting thing is that, even if we confront the literalists at their own game, we can win the scriptural battle, but there is another angle to consider here. That is, what is deemed taboo or evil in one age can be a benefit in another. There is a time and season for every purpose under heaven.
The God of the Old Testament commanded the people not to eat pork, shellfish and many other items, yet God in the New Testament told the people it was all right to eat these things.
The God of the Old Testament commanded the people to put witches, gays, Sabbath breakers and disobedient children to death. Fortunately, we are wise enough in this age to not follow such instructions in a black and white manner, but to use good judgment over scripture.
If we are willing to trust our judgment rather than go by Old Testament commands in civil matters then why not also judge astrology for what it is, looking at the subject with an open mind? If it works and is useful then use it; but if it has no value then do not use it.
We are not under condemnation if we sincerely follow the highest we know.
Contrary to condemning astrology the Bible is actually quite supportive. For instance, the prophetess Deborah tells us that the stars "fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera." (Judges 5:20)
He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. Psalms 147:4
A name in ancient Hebrew was suggestive of different characteristics similar to modern astrological descriptions of the planets.
Jeremiah tells us the power of the ordinances of heaven:
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, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: 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. Jeremiah 31:35
One of the most powerful evidences is found in the very beginning of the scriptures:
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. Genesis 1:14
The lights in the firmament are of course the stars and planets and these are to be used for "signs," a concise endorsement of astrology if there ever was one.
The translation "seasons" is quite misleading. It makes it sound like the celestial orbs are there so we can tell the four seasons, but the original meaning was quite different. "Seasons" comes from the Hebrew MOWADAH which literally means "appointment" or "fixed time." It is not a literal word for the four seasons. It only has meaning for words translated from it (such "seasons" or "festivals") as they relate to fixed times.
One of the best ways to get a feel of the word is to examine how it is used in other scriptures:
But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear (a child) unto thee at this set time (from MOWADAH) in the next year. Genesis 17:21
Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed (from MOWADAH) I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. Genesis 18:14
Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance (the Passover) in his season (from MOWADAH) from year to year. Exodus 13:10
The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time (from MOWADAH) of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt. Exodus 34:18
In addition to this MOWADAH is oddly translated as "congregation" when the scriptures speak of the "Tabernacle of the Congregation." "Tabernacle" comes from OHEL ("dwelling place") which comes from the root AHAL which "to be clear or shine." Not only does this root relate the tabernacle to the stars but within the tabernacle was a lamp stand called a menorah which held seven lighted candles. These are mentioned several times in the Bible:
And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it. Exodus 25:37
And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon. Zechariah 4:2
Now the interesting thing is that the famous Jewish historian, Josephus, who had available many ancient manuscripts that are now lost, tells us that each lamp represented a planet and the seventh candle was symbolic to the Jews of the planet Saturn as well as the seventh day. Of further interest is the fact that the tabernacle was portable and moved from place to place. It is also quite possible that it was called the Tabernacle of MOWADAH because each new location of the tabernacle was set by the stars and was also a place for study to keep track of astrological positions and signs.
Whatever the case, we have evidence here that a prime purpose of the stars and planets in relation to humanity is to reveal to us appointed and fixed times that are "signs" of things to come. In addition to the lights in the firmament being for "signs" we are told they have influence just as taught in astrology:
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 with his sons? Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? Job 38:31-33
"Loose the bands of Orion" could be translated as "make way for the salvation of Orion," again teaching that heavenly orbs have influence. The word "Mazzaroth" is from an ancient Babylonian word for the signs of the Zodiac. Concerning this word The New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible defines it as:
"A feature of the starry heavens" (Job 38:32). The margin of the Authorized Version and the Revised Version of the Bible interprets it as the sign of the zodiac, equivalent to Hebrew MAZZALOTH (II Kings 23:5, RSV, "constellations"). The Hebrew word is of Babylonian origin. It goes back to the old Akkad, MANZAZTU which became MANZALTU, MAZZALTU (station, position of the planet in the zodiac). In late Hebrew MAZZAL, Aramaic MAZZALA came to mean "constellation of the zodiac, or planet." New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible, pages 599-600
Another authority reads:
Mazzaroth therefore ... clearly signifies the twelve constellations of the zodiac through which the sun appears to pass in the course of the year, poetically likened to the "inns, ... in which the sun successively rests during the several monthly stages of his annual journey." The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. I, p. 312
Mazzaroth then is another word for "Zodiac." Zodiac comes from a primitive Hebrew root Sodi, or "the way" in Sanskrit. This is very interesting since that was the first name given to Christianity. (see Acts 9:2; 19:9,23; 24:14,22)
Thus we have "The Way" a basic identification for Christian salvation as having the same meaning as the word "Zodiac." This adds much more meaning to Job's mentioning of the "salvation of Orion."
These twelve signs are the same in all ancient nations of the world and in all ages, from ancient chronologies of China, Chaldea, and India. Zodiacs are in the Temples of Denderah and Esneh in Egypt. Traditions of the zodiac are found in the islands of the South Sea. Traces of them are discerned most clearly among the most ancient and earliest civilized nations. In the remains of Assyria they are recognized; in those of Egypt they are perfectly preserved; in those of Etruria and Mexico they are recognizable.
The scripture ends with "Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven?" (Job 38:33) "Ordinances" comes from the Hebrew CHOQ which implies "appointed times" again acknowledging the clockwork of the heavens.
Books have been written about astrology in the Bible, but I will finish up this section by mentioning just a few more points from the Old Testament.
The number of the signs of the Zodiac keep showing up again and again. Legend has it that the twelve tribes of Israel are representative of the twelve signs.
There were twelve stones of the breastplate just as there are twelve stones representing the twelve signs.
In addition twelve repeats itself many times in various ordinances and of course, we cannot overlook the "twelve disciples" of the New Testament.
A fascinating but little known link of the Zodiac with Israel is revealed in the Sepher Yetzirah, a kabbalistic text attributed to Abraham. This indicates that symbols of the signs of the zodiac and the origins of the Hebrew alphabet are linked. Critics may be surprised to learn that the knowledge of the very Bible they read is delivered to mankind through astrological correspondences.
It is also interesting that a mysterious astrological configuration is called a "Yod," after the tenth letter in the Hebrew Alphabet and also the first letter of the name of God (Yahweh YHVH). The Yod within a natal chart is made up of three planets. Two of these planets are 60 degrees from each other, forming a sextile, and both are quincunx, 150 degrees, to a 3rd planet. It forms an elongated triangle when looking at the aspect wheel.
It is said to lead a native on his/her life journey by creating an environment of frustration and adjustment, directing us to hear the call; to reach inside, and sacrifice all that we've learned on earth, and challenge us to remember what our soul already knows.
The fact that this "finger of God" configuration is very ancient gives evidence that it was originated by the Hebrews themselves, perhaps even Daniel the prophet.
But this is not all. Phases of the moon were important to the worship of the ancient Jews.
Behold, I build a house to the name of the LORD my God, to dedicate it to him, and to burn before him sweet incense, and for the continual shewbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the sabbaths, and on the NEW MOONS, and on the solemn feasts of the LORD our God. This is an ordinance for ever to Israel. II Chronicles 2:4
Numerous times in the Old Testament is the mention of the festivals of the New Moons along with the importance of keeping the Sabbath. At the time of the new moon they offered animal sacrifice and the exact time of this occurrence was so important that watchers were placed on the hills around Jerusalem and signaled the news of the exact time of the new moon to distant cities.
Much more could be written but this should suffice for the Old Testament. Readers may want to refer back to my articles on the linkage of ancient Israel to the planet Saturn for more evidence. [see The Mystery of Jehovah]
After contemplating the scriptures one must exclaim:
The (study of the) heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Psalms 19:1
2. Astrology and the New Testament
2.1 Signs of Pisces and Aquarius
Just as the symbols of astrology abound in the Old Testament, even so do they fecundate the New. Perhaps the most obvious Biblical astrological symbol is on display by the born-again anti-astrology Christians driving about in their cars. Who has not seen the symbol of the fish on the bumpers of devotees?
Many of these Christians would be surprised if they discovered that this symbol originated as a sign among early Christians that represented Jesus as the Messiah who was ushering in the age of Pisces. The fish or fishes was indeed the secret sign for the early Christians. A commonly-used icon in the early Christian churches is the "Vescica Piscis" (Latin for "mouth of the fish") - that shape which also resembles a human eye or a fish without a tail. You can see it in the shape of stained glass windows in many churches and cathedrals.
Fred Gettings, who did an exhaustive study of Christianity and astrology wrote in his book, The Secret Zodiac:
The true books of the esoteric astrology of the mediaeval era are not to be found in manuscripts, but in stone and marble of the mediaeval cathedrals and churches. The Secret Zodiac: The Hidden Art in Mediaeval Astrology, Fred Gettings
Many of these ancient Christian monuments have astrological symbols in them with emphasis on Pisces represented by the sign of the fish.
It is also of great interest that Jesus himself was associated with the fish. The phrase "Jesus Christ, Son of God and Savior" in the Greek reads Iesous Christos Theou Uios Soter. The capital letters from this phrase spells ICHTHUS which is the Greek word for "fish." Because of persecution a Christian would secretly communicate his belief in Christ with another Christian by merely drawing or making the sign of the fish.
The constellation Pisces is formed by a set of dim and scattered stars that trace the images of two widely separated fish joined by a knotted cord. One fish, swimming upward, faces east toward Aries, while the other fish swims westward toward Aquarius along the plane of the ecliptic. The directions of motion of the two fish form a cross, the symbol of the Christian religion, the upright line of the cross representing spirit and the horizontal line signifying matter.
Thus the evolution of the Christian tradition from making the sign of the fish to the sign of the cross was merely a simplification of the sign of the fish in Pisces. Around 800 AD the Church of Rome began to distance itself from astrology and to drop the connection of the Christian church, or Jesus, with Pisces, or even the fish, and only kept the sign of the cross. Even though this sign still had a connection with Pisces, and there were short revivals of interest, few realized the connection after this time period. It is only of recent date that Christians have revived the sign of Pisces and proudly (but unknowingly) wear it on their bumpers.
Notice that almost all of the fish symbols used by Christians today face to the left, a symbol of the past on to which they are holding, instead of advancing on to the consciousness of Aquarius.
Just as Moses said the stars were given for signs, (Genesis 1:14) even so did Jesus acknowledge that the stars would indeed bear signs:
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring. Luke 21:25
"Stars" is usually translated from the Greek ASTER, but in this case it comes from ASTRON which is more correctly translated as "constellations." This could imply the standard constellations as we know them, in particular the twelve constellations making the twelve signs of the zodiac, or it could refer to certain alignments of planets and stars which have been seen as signs from ancient times. For instance a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn with another planet in the constellation of Pisces was seen as an important sign in the days of Jesus.
What constellation do we look to today for signs of the coming of the son of Man? As we leave Pisces and enter the age of Aquarius, it is only logical that this sign of the zodiac has many portends for us. This is verified again by Jesus:
And then (as the coming of Christ draws near) shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Matthew 24:30
In past writings I have given one interpretation of this scripture, but, as I have said, scripture has at least three levels of meaning which are correct. Let us now look at the astrological level.
Before Christ comes there will "appear the sign of the Son of man (literally mankind) in heaven."
The word "heaven" comes from the Greek OURANOS. What is significant about this? This is the word that the planet Uranus is derived from. What is significant about Uranus? It is very significant because it rules the sign of Aquarius which we are now entering.
Note that the scripture reads literally in the Greek as the Sign of the Son of Mankind. Aquarius is the sign most representative of mankind as a whole.
The importance of the coming sign of Aquarius was indicated at the last supper:
And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. Luke 22:9-13
This mysterious man "bearing a pitcher of water" led the disciples to the "last supper." It is not a coincidence that the main symbol of Aquarius is a man bearing a pitcher of water. This symbol indicates the servant of God who pours forth the waters of life to humankind, thirsty for the words of life.
The fact that the Aquarian symbol shows up at the last supper of the Christ in Pisces is a symbol of the work of Christ in the coming age, that in the Age of Aquarius the service of Christ and his servants will have its true fulfillment.
The Constellation Aquarius
Now, let us examine the meaning of the scripture in Matthew 24.
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man (the servant giving the waters of life) in heaven (Aquarius): and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn. Matthew 24:30
Did the peoples of the earth mourn as Aquarius began to rise on the horizon?
Indeed they did. As Pisces was passing into Aquarius we had the manifestation of World Wars I and II. We are not yet fully into Aquarius for the transition period between the ages lasts from 100-200 years so we still have a point of tension or two to come. If the Lights of the earth do their part, however, the worst will be over.
The fact is that the time between the ages is always highlighted by a point of tension. For instance, the transition from Taurus (the worship of the bull) to Aries (the sacrifice of the ram) was highlighted by the conflict between Moses and Pharaoh as the Israelites escaped Egypt.
The greatest point of tension in this age was the conflict between Nazi Germany (strong authority - Pisces) and the Allied nations (freedom of the human spirit - Aquarius). It is of interest that World War II was very close to the midway point between Pisces and Aquarius. This battle just resurfaced on a lesser scale with the conflict between terrorists who seek rule by the strong authority of the Piscean energy and the free world following after Aquarian energy. Future threats of those seeking to establish strong authority are doomed to failure for the changing energies are mounting against them and the old ways are like a waning moon. Only those movements which increase the freedom of the human spirit are in alignment with the coming age.
The founders of the United States Constitution realized this when on June 20, 1782 they approved the Great Seal of the United States bearing the Latin words: NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM which means "a new order of the ages."
Great Seal of the United States, Reverse Side
These men inwardly realized that a new age was on the horizon, but little did they understand that they were manifesting one of the signs of the Son of Man in Aquarius.
The last part of the verse reads:
... and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Matthew 24:30
What does this have to do with the age of Aquarius? Very much. Aquarius is an air sign and all astrologers attribute the development of air and space travel as a sign that this age is coming into manifestation.
One of the messages Jesus was giving out here was this: As we enter into the sign of Aquarius, before his return to us, we would see sons of men traveling in the air with the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Those who pioneered such Aquarian achievements did indeed achieve power and glory. Such people were the Wright Brothers, Charles Lindbergh and Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, the greatest Aquarian achievement in and above the air so far.
And I will shew wonders in heaven above (air and space flight), and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke. (World Wars I & II and conflicts yet to come) Acts 2:19
Indeed, there have been many signs in the heavens and earth, and all the while Christians have been looking for signs yet future.
The words of Jesus are yet true today:
He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times. Matthew 16:3
2.2 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:
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, 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. 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 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. 7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 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. 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. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
11 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. 12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. Matthew 2:1-12
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 the 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 speaks of the "wise men" on positive terms. It tells us:
The question now arises as to who are 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 king?s 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.
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 whose job it was to search the skies for signs of the Messiah and when one died another took his place until the sought-after 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 arrived. In the minds of astrologers the day of the time of his coming could not be delayed much longer.
Here are some signs:
Lesser but significant signs appeared later:
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. Matthew 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 its meaning means 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. Revelation 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 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 in 3 BC, June of 2 BC and August 21 in 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 sync with the death of Herod, who is said to have died in early 4 BC. However, there is some dispute about 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 "[Herod] inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared." (Mattnew 2:7) 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. Molnar 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 at: http://www.eclipse.net/~molnar/
Molnar 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. Matthew 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 a transition period before going retrograde. It is seen to be standing still in the heavens, or a "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 appear not 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. Revelation 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 signifies fixed intent, persistence, reliability and firmness - that which can be depended upon. This gave the early saints three messages:
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. Isaiah 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." (Revelation 4:6) "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." (Revelation 4:8)
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.
© Valentino Salvato 2007