“Astrology” is forbidden both to Jews under the law, and to Christians, because in antiquity it led to worship of the planets and stars as gods, and in our day it has become a method of divining the future without consulting God. We must make a difference in this area of study between a desire to understand the cosmos as described in Creation Week in the Bible, and the study of divination by the constellations according to birthdates, sun signs, and planetary influences.
I have studied astrology enough to see that there is something to it, hence the warning to stay away from it. Most horoscopes are just garbage and generalizations you could apply to anyone, but there are branches of astrology that can provide genuine insight to life in the physical world. If we have died to the world and have been born again in Christ, then the life that the stars might inform us about is dead and buried. Our relationship with the Creator of the stars allows us to enter a spiritual life not determined by fate. In Hebrew, the word for a fate determined by the stars is Mazal. When Jews say Mazaltov! they are saying, Constellations favor you. It is much like our common saying, “Good luck.”
Jewish cosmology places the earth at the center of nine concentric spheres that make up the firmament. They believed the stars and planets to be living creatures with souls, lower in intelligence than angels, but greater in intelligence and authority than humans, and that the Lord’s spiritual light from Day One was filtered through the nine spheres and luminary bodies so that it would be visible to beings made of coarse matter, and not so bright that it destroys us.
The purposes the Lord mentions in Genesis for sun, moon, and stars were
- to give light on the earth
- to rule over the day and over the night
- to divide the light from the darkness
- for signs and seasons, and for days and years
Where seasons, days, and years are concerned, the stars are particularly important. The Jewish sages say that Torah was given in a way that it would be understandable from man’s point of view, so whether the earth orbits the sun or vice versa isn’t important. From man’s point of view, the earth seems stationary, and the visible planets and stars appear to rise in the east and set in the west, passing behind the earth to rise again the following day.
Based on this geocentric point of view, the nearest “planet” is the moon. After that they thought Mercury to be next, then the sun, then Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter. Those were the seven visible planets, reflected in the seven days of the week and seven lamps of the golden lamp stand in the temple.
The sun passes through twelve constellations on its daily rounds. Astronomers have divided space into 88 constellations, but the sun only passes through these twelve. A constellation is not a grouping of stars, it is a segment of space where particular stars can be found. The Hebrew word for constellation or Zodiac is Mazzaroth. In Jewish cosmology, all the stars beyond the seven planets were in the eighth sphere, and angels inhabited the ninth. Space was considered solid, with each sphere able to rotate independently, but with no empty space between the spheres, so that it could be described as a firmament – something that is solid or firm.
The Mazzaroth is first mentioned in Job:
“Do you understand the band of the Pleiades, and have you opened the fence of Orion? Will you open up Mazzaroth in its season, and the evening stars with his rays? Will you guide them? Do you know the movements of heaven or the events which take place together under heaven? – Job 38:31-33, LXX
Our system of time, including months, seasons, calendars, and special holidays or festivals, is calculated on the basis of which constellation is visible in the east just before sunrise. As there are twelve constellations that appear along the track of the sun, there are twelve months in the year, twelve tribes of Israel (even though there are really 13, including Levi), twelve stones upon the high priest’s breastplate, twelve cakes of unleavened bread upon the altar of showbread, the twelve apostles of Jesus, twelve gates and foundations in the New Jerusalem, etc.
In parallel to the unmentioned but annoyingly obvious 13 tribes, Jews follow a solar-lunar calendar for religious purposes under which they must add a thirteenth month on a regular basis. The Hebrew lunar year is about eleven days shorter than the solar year and uses a 19-year cycle to bring it into line with the solar year, with an additional month every two or three years, for a total of seven times per 19 years. The months and constellations are called mazalot if plural, mazal if singular.
In Kabbala and Chasidut, it is explained that the thirteenth mazal transforms the entire set of mazalot into attributes of mercy. This is because numerically, twelve is a closed, rigid, perfect system; reflected in the physicalworld by the twelve lunar months and the twelvesigns of the zodiac; in the Jewish people, by the twelvetribes; in the spiritual realm, by the twelve permutations of the letters of the Divine Name Havaya, and so on. In each of these sets, however, there is a (sometimes hidden) thirteenth element that adds the flexibility and adaptive quality that makes the set alive, pliable and viable. This is perhaps most clearly evident with regard to the twelve lunar months. In the Jewishcalendar, a thirteenth month is added in seven out of every nineteen years in order to align the lunar year with the solar year. Here, the thirteenth lunar month makes the twelve original ones into an empathic system that can coexist with its solar “mate.” Similarly, the thirteenthtribe, Levi, officiates at the Temple, reconciling the twelvetribes of the Jewish people with their “mate,” HaShem.-https://www.betemunah.org/mazaroth.html
I have often wondered about the days in which Jesus walked the earth with the twelve – a company of thirteen – and what that signified. It was a picture of God’s mercy. Thirteen is the unlucky number when you are in the world, but when we walk with God we no longer rely on luck because we have Him. The night of the first Passover was Friday the thirteenth, which has been called unlucky ever since for Egypt, a type of the world. For Israel, the day ended at sunset, so for them it was already Saturday the fourteenth of Nissan, a sabbath.
Abraham was born and educated in Ur of the Chaldees, which means, Light of the Astrologers. He was studying the stars when the Lord appeared to him and declared his seed would be as great as the number of stars he could see. Jewish tradition holds that Abraham’s knowledge of the stars was such that his advice was sought out by many of the great men of his day, for it was known that the patriarchs had lived long lives in which they accumulated great wisdom about the heavens and the earth.
First century historian of the Jews, Herodias asserts that the Patriarch Abraham was the inventor of astrology. There is widespread misconception that Astrology started solely with the “pagan” Greeks when it actually started with the Chaldeans. The Midrash supports the notion that Abraham was an astrologer. Biblical evidence of this may be found in Bereshit (Genesis) 17:15 where HaShem orders Abraham to change this wife’s name from Sarai to Sarah in order that she conceive a child. It is a Jewish custom that changing or adding a name blesses that person with a “new” beginning. HaShem has supreme knowledge of the future because he is the first cause in creation, and hence has complete knowledge of all subsequent beginnings following from that as it is written “declaring the end from the beginning. “Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 46:11.-ibid.
Christian students of the Mazzaroth are less interested in Jewish cosmology than in the way the Hebrew and Arabic names for the constellations and stars prophetically tell the story of Messiah in advance. The real value of this study for believers is to see how the Lord hid prophesy in the names of the stars long before Christ appeared, even before Genesis was written. The names of stars are very old indeed, going back before the days of Abraham.
The following chart gives the current names of the constellations, not their Hebrew or Arabic names, but they are translated correctly from the Hebrew or Arabic. Each constellation is accompanied by three associated ones, called decans for a total of 36. This means a new decan arises in the east about every 10 days. Sometimes the names of the brightest stars are also translated to add details to the typology each month shows us about Christ.
The First Book. The Redeemer. “The sufferings of Christ.”
- VIRGO The virgin, holding a branch. The prophecy of the promised seed.
- COMA. (= The desired). A virgin upon a throne suckling a baby.
- CENTAURUS (with two natures). The despised sin-offering.
- BOOTES. The coming One with branch.
- LIBRA The scales of justice. The Redeemer’s atoning work.
- CRUX. The Cross endured.
- LUPUS. The Victim slain.
- CORONA. The Crown bestowed.
- SCORPIO The scorpion. The Redeemer’s conflict.
- SERPENS. Assaulting the man’s heel.
- OPHIUCHUS. The man grasping the serpent.
- HERCULES. The mighty man victorious.
- SAGITTARIUS The bow. The Redeemer’s triumph.
- LYRA. Praise prepared for the Conqueror.
- ARA. Fire prepared for His enemies.
- DRACO. The dragon cast down.
The Second Book. The Redeemed.
- CAPRICORNUS The scapegoat. The result of the Redeemer’s sufferings.
- SAGITTA. The arrow of God sent forth.
- AQUILA. The smitten One falling.
- DELPHINUS. The dead One rising again.
- AQUARIUS The bucket. The Blessings assured.
- PISCIS AUSTRALIS. The blessings bestowed.
- PEGASUS. The blessings quickly coming.
- CYGNUS. The Blesser surely returning.
- PISCES The fish. The Blessings in abeyance.
- THE BAND. The great enemy, “Cetus.”
- ANDROMEDA. The redeemed in bondage.
- CEPHEUS. The Deliverer coming to loosen.
- ARIES The lamb. The Blessings consummated.
- CASSIOPEIA. The captive delivered.
- CETUS. The great enemy bound.
- PERSEUS. The “Breaker” delivering.
The Third Book. The Redeemer. “The glory that should follow.”
- TAURUS The bull. Messiah coming to rule.
- ORION. The Redeemer breaking forth as Light.
- ERIDANUS. Wrath breaking forth as a flood.
- AURIGA. Safety for His redeemed in the day of wrath.
- GEMINI The twins. Messiah as Prince of princes.
- LEPUS. The enemy trodden under foot.
- CANIS MAJOR. The coming glorious Prince.
- CANIS MINOR. The exalted Redeemer.
- CANCER The crab. Messiah’s redeemed possessions.
- URSA MINOR. The lesser sheepfold.
- URSA MAJOR. The fold and the flock.
- ARGO. The pilgrim’s arrival at home.
- LEO The Lion of Judah. Messiah’s consummated triumph.
- HYDRA. The old serpent destroyed.
- CRATER. The cup of wrath poured put.
- CORVUS. The birds of prey devouring.