*Marcia Montenegro is a former professional certified astrologer and astrology teacher, former chairperson of the Atlanta Board of Astrology Examiners, and former President of the Atlanta Astrological Society
This article touches on these topics:
☑️ Are the Names Orion and Pleiades in the Bible?
☑️ Is Mazzaroth the Zodiac?
☑️ Do the Heavens Declare the Gospel? A Look at Psalm 19
☑️ The Bible and the Stars: Is There A Gospel in the Stars?
Overview: Common Misconceptions And Brief Responses
▪️ That English Bibles refer to Orion and the Bear supposedly suggests that there is meaning to constellations like the zodiac.
Response: The words Orion and the Bear are in English translations of Scripture, but are they there in the Hebrew?
▪️ The Mazzaroth refers to the zodiac.
Response: This was a widespread idea that has lost credibility and most scholars and commentators think it refers to an unnamed constellation.
▪️ Is the Gospel in the stars (zodiac)?
Response: The false and debunked Gospel in the Stars is promulgated in the church by many. This GIS (Gospel in the Stars) posits that there are theories that “the zodiacal constellation is an ancient display of God’s redemptive plan,” teaching, for example, that Leo is the Lion of Judah and Virgo is the Virgin Mary. The original teaching of this theory is that God gave Adam and Eve the meaning of the zodiac signs as related to the gospel.
However, The gospel is special revelation and is not found in creation. Moreover, reading a hidden meaning in creation, such as the planets or constellations, is divination, a practice God strongly denounces. God would not teach something that he himself condemns.
Orion, the Bear, and the Pleiades
Many mistakenly believe Job 9:9 originally uses “Orion” and “Pleiades” in the Hebrew text because that is what we see in the English translations. Supporters of the false Gospel in the Stars are especially keen on pointing this out.
“He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and the constellations of the south.” Job 9:9
We should look at lexicons and parallel translations to see the Hebrew terms. In actuality, other words are used. Not only that, but to this day translators are not positive it was these constellations being referred to, though some speculate that it was. But it is speculation.
“Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades; literally, which maketh ‘Ash Kesil and Kimah. The rendering of the LXX. (ὁ ποιῶν Πλειάδα καὶ Ἕσπερον καὶ Ἀρκτοῦρον), supported, as it is, by most of the other ancient versions and by the Targums, has caused the stellar character of these names to be generally recognized; but the exact meaning of each term is, to some extent, still a matter of dispute. On the whole, it seems most probable that ‘Ash or ‘Aish (Job 38:32), designates “the Great Bear,” called by the Arabs Nahsh while Kesil is the name of the constellation of Orion, and Kimah of that of the Pleiades. The word ‘Ash means “a litter,” and may be compared with the Greek ἅμαξα and our own” Charles’s Wain,” both of them names given to the Great Bear, from a fancied resemblance of its form to that of a vehicle. Kesil means “an insolent, rich man” (Lee); and is often translated by “fool” in the Book of Proverbs 14:16; Proverbs 15:20; Proverbs 19:1; Proverbs 21:20, etc. It seems to have been an epitheton usitatum of Nimrod, who, according to Oriental tradition, made war upon the gods, and was bound in the sky for his impiety – the constellation being thenceforth called “the Giant” (Gibbor)’ or “the insolent one’ (Kesil), and later by the Greeks “Orion” (comp. Amos 5:8; and infra’ Job 38:31). Kimah undoubtedly designates “the Pleiades.” It occurs again, in connection with Kesil in Job 38:31, and in Amos 5:8 The meaning is probably “a heap,” “a cluster” (Lee); which was also the Greek idea: Πλειάδες, ὅτι πλείους ὁμοοῦ κατὰ μίαν συναγωγήν” — From commentary on Bible Hub
It is the same story for other passages referring to constellations (Job 38, Amos 5):
Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades,
Or loose the cords of Orion?
“Can you lead forth a constellation in its season,
And guide the Bear with her satellites? Job 38:31-32
Note that “bear” was originally a bier carrying a dead body:
The Septuagint renders it, Πλειάδα Pleiada – the Pleiades. Jerome, Arcturum. The Hebrew word usually means a moth, Job 4:19; Job 13:28; Job 27:18. It also denotes the splendid constellation in the northern hemisphere, which we call Ursa Major, the Great Bear, Arcturus, or the Wain; compare Niebuhr, Des. of Arabia, p. 114.
The word עשׁ ‛ayı̂sh does not literally mean a bear, but is made by aphaeresis from the Arabic nas, by the excision of the initial n – as is common in Arabic; see Bochart, Hieroz. P. II. Lib. I. c. xvi. p. 113, 114. The word in Arabic means a bier, and is the name given to the constellation which we denominate Ursa Major, “because,” says Bochart, “the four stars, which are a square, are regarded as a bier, on which a dead body is borne. The three following (the tail of the bear) are the daughters or sons which attend the funeral as mourners. – From same link to Bible Hub as previous
Are we to focus on the names of any stars or constellations? These terms merely are a tool pointing to the Creator! The above passage is part of a series of questions from God to Job that continue through chapter 39. In chapter 40, God makes his point:
“Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty?
Let him who reproves God answer it.” Job 40:1
This is the focus of the passage, God’s sovereignty over creation and how challenging God is foolish. Job responds by admitting there is nothing he can say to God. God continues with aseries of questions and declarations about his power over creation in the rest of chapter 40 through chapter 41, and at the end of that, Job retracts what he has said and repents in dust and ashes. To make the names of the stars a focus or doctrine is to ignore or downgrade the point of the passage about God as the creator and his sovereignty over it, as well as reading something into the text that is not there.
How about the Book of Amos and Orion?
In the book of Amos, we read:
“He who made the Pleiades and Orion
And changes deep darkness into morning,
Who also darkens day into night,
Who calls for the waters of the sea
And pours them out on the surface of the earth,
The Lord is His name.” Amos 5:8
In Hebrew, as in the Job passages, “Orion” is “kesil.” The Hebrew word for the Pleiades (seven stars) means “heap” or “cluster.”
The Heb. is kěsîl, which also signifies ‘fool.’ It is not improbable that the name preserves an allusion to some ancient mythological idea, according to which the brilliant and conspicuous constellation was originally some fool-hardy, heaven-daring rebel, who was chained to the sky for his impiety. – From Commentary on Amos 5:8 on Bible Hub goo.gl/FDb4XQ
So God did not use the words “Orion” or “Pleiades” in the Hebrew text. God is not giving the green light to see the constellations or man-constructed zodiac as a vehicle for the gospel or for any other message aside from convenient references. It is apparent that there is no evidence that Mazzaroth refers to the zodiac belt as we know it.
Moreover, whatever these terms may refer to, the point of this passage and the others is to emphasize that God is Creator of the stars and heavenly bodies; that he is the true God over the pagan gods who were often associated with the stars and planets at the time. The emphasis is that God created the heavenly bodies.
This is a polemic against the pagan worship of the stars as gods, just as it is with God not naming the sun or moon in Genesis 1:16, where he calls them the “greater” and “lesser” lights. This was a polemic against the pagan sun and moon gods.
Is Mazzaroth the Zodiac?
“Mazzaroth” appears only once in Scripture (whether it is related to a word in 2 Kings 23:5 is not known).
“Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? The context implies that ‘Mazzaroth’ is a constellation on a par with the Pleiades, Orion, and the Bear (Kimah, Kesil and ‘Aish). This makes it impossible to accept the meaning, so generally assigned, of ‘the twelve signs of the Zodiac.’ Again, the plural form is fatal to the conjecture that ‘Mazzaroth’ designates a single star or planet, as Jupiter, Venus, or Sirius (Cook). The word is derived probably from the root zahar, “to shine,” “to be bright,” and should designate some especially brilliant cluster of stars Whether it is to be regarded as a variant of Mazzaloth (2 Kings 23:5) is uncertain.” From Pulpit Commentary on Job 38:32
Mazzaroth refers to a group of stars. There is nothing to indicate it refers to the zodiac. The names in the Zodiac, such as Virgo, Leo, Gemini, Pisces, etc., did not even exist when Job was written because those words are Latin names for gods derived from the Greek gods. To say in any way the astrological signs give the gospel story (which is the claim of proponents of GIS) is rendered null and void by the fact that those names did not exist before Roman times.
Points to Consider
There are good reasons why Mazzaroth does not indicate the zodiac signs. Notice from images of constellations that constellations are:
1) that figures such as Leo the lion, Taurus the bull, Aries the ram, etc. are arbitrarily drawn by connecting certain stars together and leaving millions of other stars out. You could pour out a box of cornflakess on a table and then outline a figure using some of those cornflakes, but not most, and get the same result. Does that mean there is a message in the box of cornflakes? (Of course, you also have to interpret the figure, another problem)
2) leave out millions of other stars that could be included
3) do not look like anything recognizable
4) could be made into anything one wants to see
Most importantly, the gospel is not given in creation, which is general revelation. The gospel only comes through special revelation.
Is the Gospel in the Stars? A Look at Psalm 19
In Romans 10:18, Paul quotes David in Psalm 19:4, ‘Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world’ in which David is referring to the “heavens.”
Is this the gospel of Jesus Christ going out via the stars or the heavens, which is how many present it? The gospel is special revelation and is always in words, which is clear in the preceding verses of Romans 10:
“How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!’” (vv. 14-17)
Creation is general revelation and reveals a Creator, making every person accountable to God. Going back to Romans, we read:
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” Romans 1:20
Psalm 19 is poetry that begins with general revelation, how creation reflects the glory of God; creation came by God’s word and is his “speech.” The sun is part of that creation, and is shown not as a god but as under the control of the one living God.
In them He has placed a tent for the sun,
Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;
It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.
Its rising is from one end of the heavens,
And its circuit to the other end of them;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.
Then the Psalm moves from creation to God’s specific revelation through his law and the effects on man of God’s laws, which are always good. Psalm 19 ends with David’s conviction of God’s power and holiness, and how this causes him to realize his faults and his need for forgiveness (see remaining verses).
In conclusion, Psalm 19 begins with general revelation, moves into special revelation of God’s words, and the need for man’s forgiveness in light of this. Romans 10 encapsulates and expands on this idea, commending the need for the proclamation of the gospel and those who bring it.
Stars Are Stars Not the Gospel
According to the false gospel in the stars, God told Adam and Eve the gospel by explaining the constellations. Right away, we see a hallmark of Gnostic secret teachings with that idea.
Looking at the groups of stars in the zodiac tells us nothing. We cannot even tell that one is a woman, an archer, or a ram. I could easily make some stars into a camel or giraffe or a whale. How are these stars supposed to convey the gospel?
The names and meanings of these come from pagan beliefs, not from God. To read a meaning into stars or planets, or creation at all, is divination at the very least. Getting a message from the stars or planets is the definition of astrology.
We do not get the gospel from general revelation, only from special revelation. General revelation makes everyone accountable (see Romans 1:18-32).
The only message is that the heavens declare the glory of God and reveal a Creator. God created the heavenly bodies for light and timing (Genesis 1:14-18; Psalms 74:16, 104:19). It is creation reflecting a Creator. Is it not good enough to have such a beautfiul sky giving evidence for a Creator? Must man chase after a secret meaning amidst God’s bounteous beauty? There are so many stars and galaxies that astronomers cannot count them and do not even know the existence of all of them. That vastness shows the vastness of an infinite God.
Refutation of Gospel in the Stars by Danny Faulkner, Christian astrophysicist
By Charles Strohmer, former professional astrologer