The Astronomy of the Bible - An Elementary Commentary on the Astronomical References - of Holy Scripture

The Astronomy of the Bible - An Elementary Commentary on the Astronomical References - of Holy Scripture


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Project Gutenberg's The Astronomy of the Bible, by E. Walter MaunderThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and withalmost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away orre-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.netTitle: The Astronomy of the BibleAn Elementary Commentary on the Astronomical Referencesof Holy ScriptureAuthor: E. Walter MaunderRelease Date: April 8, 2009 [EBook #28536]Language: English*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE ASTRONOMY OF THE BIBLE ***Produced by Curtis Weyant, Jeannie Howse, Lisa Reigel, andthe Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from imagesgenerously made available by Case Western Reserve UniversityPreservation Department Digital Library)Transcriber's Notes: Variations in spelling and hyphenation have been left as in the original. Some typographicaland punctuation errors have been corrected. A complete list follows the text. Underlined letters indicate diacriticalmarks and special characters that may not be visible in all browsers. Position your mouse over the line to see anexplanation. Click on the page number to see an image of the page.THE ASTRONOMYOF THE BIBLETHE STAR OF BETHLEHEM.From the Painting by Sir Edward Burne-Jones in the Birmingham Art Gallery.THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM."We have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him."ToList[Frontispiece ...



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Project Gutenberg's The Astronomy of the Bible, by E. Walter Maunder This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Title: The Astronomy of the Bible An Elementary Commentary on the Astronomical References of Holy Scripture Author: E. Walter Maunder Release Date: April 8, 2009 [EBook #28536] Language: English *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE ASTRONOMY OF THE BIBLE *** Produced by Curtis Weyant, Jeannie Howse, Lisa Reigel, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by Case Western Reserve University Preservation Department Digital Library) Transcriber's Notes: Variations in spelling and hyphenation have been left as in the original. Some typographical and punctuation errors have been corrected. A complete list follows the text. Underlined letters indicate diacritical marks and special characters that may not be visible in all browsers. Position your mouse over the line to see an explanation. Click on the page number to see an image of the page. THE ASTRONOMY OF THE BIBLE THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM. From the Painting by Sir Edward Burne-Jones in the Birmingham Art Gallery. THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM. "We have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him." ToList[Frontispiece.] THE ASTRONOMY OF THE BIBLE AN ELEMENTARY COMMENTARY ON THE ASTRONOMICAL REFERENCES OF HOLY SCRIPTURE BY E. WALTER MAUNDER, F.R.A.S. AUTHOR OF 'THE ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH: ITS HISTORY AND WORK,' AND 'ASTRONOMY WITHOUT A TELESCOPE' WITH THIRTY-FOUR ILLUSTRATIONS NEW YORK MITCHELL KENNERLEY Richard Clay & Sons, Limited, BREAD STREET HILL, E.C., AND BUNGAY, SUFFOLK. To MY WIFE My helper in this Book and in all things. PREFACE Why should an astronomer write a commentary on the Bible? Because commentators as a rule are not astronomers, and therefore either pass over the astronomical allusions of Scripture in silence, or else annotate them in a way which, from a scientific point of view, leaves much to be desired. Astronomical allusions in the Bible, direct and indirect, are not few in number, and, in order to bring out their full significance, need to be treated astronomically. Astronomy further gives us the power of placing ourselves to some degree in the position of the patriarchs and prophets of old. We know that the same sun and moon, stars and planets, shine upon us as shone upon Abraham and Moses, David and Isaiah. We can, if we will, see the unchanging heavens with their eyes, and understand their attitude towards them. It is worth while for us so to do. For the immense advances in science, made since the Canon of Holy Scripture was closed, and especially during the last three hundred years, may enable us to realize the significance of a most remarkable fact. Even in those early ages, when to all the nations surrounding Israel the heavenly bodies were objects for divination or idolatry, the attitude of the sacred writers toward them was perfect in its sanity and truth. Astronomy has a yet further part to play in Biblical study. The dating of the several books of the Bible, and the relation of certain heathen mythologies to the Scripture narratives of the world's earliest ages, have received much attention of late years. Literary analysis has thrown much light on these subjects, but hitherto any evidence that astronomy could give has been almost wholly neglected; although, from the nature of the case, such evidence, so far as it is available, must be most decisive and exact. I have endeavoured, in the present book, to make an astronomical commentary on the Bible, in a manner that shall be both clear and interesting to the general reader, dispensing as far as possible with astronomical technicalities, since the principles concerned are, for the most part, quite simple. I trust, also, that I have taken the first step in a new inquiry which promises to give results of no small importance. E. Walter Maunder. St. John's, London, S.E. January 1908. CONTENTS BOOK I THE HEAVENLY BODIES Chapter I. The Hebrew and Astronomy Modern Astronomy—Astronomy in the Classical Age—The Canon of Holy Scripture closed before the Classical Age—Character of the Scriptural References to the Heavenly Bodies—Tradition of Solomon's Eminence in Science—Attitude towards Nature of the Sacred Writers—Plan of the Book 3 Chapter II. The Creation Indian Eclipse of 1898—Contrast between the Heathen and Scientific Attitudes—The Law of Causality— Inconsistent with Polytheism—Faith in One God the Source to the Hebrews of Intellectual Freedom—The First Words of Genesis the Charter of the Physical Sciences—The Limitations of Science—"Explanations" of the First Chapter of Genesis—Its Real Purposes—The Sabbath 12 Chapter III. The Deep Babylonian Creation Myth—Tiamat, the Dragon of Chaos—Overcome by Merodach—Similarity to the Scandinavian Myth—No Resemblance to the Narrative in Genesis—Meanings of the Hebrew Word tehom— Date of the Babylonian Creation Story 25 Chapter IV. The Firmament Twofold Application of the Hebrew Word raqia‘—Its Etymological Meaning—The Idea of Solidity introduced by the "Seventy"—Not the Hebrew Idea—The "Foundations" of Heaven and Earth—The "Canopy" of Heaven —The "Stories" of Heaven—Clouds and Rain—The Atmospheric Circulation—Hebrew Appreciation even of the Terrible in Nature—The "Balancings" and "Spreadings" of the Clouds—The "Windows of Heaven"—Not Literal Sluice-gates—The Four Winds—The Four Quarters—The Circle of the Earth—The Waters under the Earth—The "Depths" 35 Chapter V. The Ordinances of the Heavens The Order of the Heavenly Movements—Daily Movement of the Sun—Nightly Movements of the Stars—The "Host of Heaven"—Symbolic of the Angelic Host—Morning Stars—The Scripture View of the Heavenly Order 55 Chapter VI. The Sun The Double Purpose of the Two Great Heavenly Bodies—Symbolic Use of the Sun as Light-giver—No Deification of the Sun or of Light—Solar Idolatry in Israel—Shemesh and Ḥeres—Sun-spots—Light before the Sun—"Under the Sun"—The Circuit of the Sun—Sunstroke—"Variableness"—Our present Knowledge of the Sun—Sir William Herschel's Theory—Conflict between the Old Science and the New—Galileo—A Question of Evidence—A Question of Principle 63 Chapter VII. The Moon Importance of the Moon in Olden Times—Especially to the Shepherd—Jewish Feasts at the Full Moon—The Harvest Moon—The Hebrew Month a Natural one—Different Hebrew Words for Moon—Moon-worship forbidden—"Similitudes" of the Moon—Worship of Ashtoreth—No mention of Lunar Phases—The Moon "for Seasons" 79 Chapter VIII. The Stars Number of the Stars—"Magnitudes" of the Stars—Distances of the Stars 95 Chapter IX. Comets Great Comets unexpected Visitors—Description of Comets—Formation of the Tail—Possible References in Scripture to Comets 103 Chapter X. Meteors Aerolites—Diana of the Ephesians—Star-showers—The Leonid Meteors—References in Scripture—The Aurora Borealis 111 Chapter XI. Eclipses of the Sun and Moon Vivid Impression produced by a Total Solar Eclipse—Eclipses not Omens to the Hebrews—Eclipses visible in Ancient Palestine—Explanation of Eclipses—The Saros—Scripture References to Eclipses—The Corona —The Egyptian "Winged Disc"—The Babylonian "Ring with Wings"—The Corona at Minimum 118 Chapter XII. Saturn and Astrology The "Seven Planets"—Possible Scripture References to Venus and Jupiter—"Your God Remphan" probably Saturn—The Sabbath and Saturn's Day—R. A. Proctor on the Names of the Days of the Week—Order of the Planets—Alexandrian Origin of the Weekday Names—The Relation of Astrology to Astronomy—Early Babylonian Astrology—Hebrew Contempt for Divination 130 BOOK II THE CONSTELLATIONS Chapter I. The Origin of the Constellations The "Greek Sphere"—Aratus—St Paul's Sermon at Athens—The Constellations of Ptolemy's Catalogue— References to the Constellations in Hesiod and Homer—The Constellation Figures on Greek Coins—And on Babylonian "Boundary-stones"—The Unmapped Space in the South—Its Explanation—Precession— Date and Place of the Origin of the Constellations—Significant Positions of the Serpent Forms in the Constellations—The Four "Royal Stars"—The Constellations earlier than the Old Testament 149 Chapter II. Genesis and the Constellations The Bow set in the Cloud—The Conflict with the Serpent—The Seed of the Woman—The Cherubim—The "Mighty Hunter" 162 Chapter III. The Story of the Deluge Resemblance between the Babylonian and Genesis Deluge Stories—The Deluge Stories in Genesis—Their Special Features—The Babylonian Deluge Story—Question as to its Date—Its Correspondence with both the Genesis Narratives—The Constellation Deluge Picture—Its Correspondence with both the Genesis Narratives—The Genesis Deluge Story independent of Star Myth and Babylonian Legend 170 Chapter IV. The Tribes of Israel and the Zodiac Joseph's Dream—Alleged Association of the Zodiacal Figures with the Tribes of Israel—The Standards of the Four Camps of Israel—The Blessings of Jacob and Moses—The Prophecies of Balaam—The Golden Calf—The Lion of Judah 186 Chapter V. Leviathan The Four Serpent-like Forms in the Constellations—Their Significant Positions—The Dragon's Head and Tail—The Symbols for the Nodes—The Dragon of Eclipse—Hindu Myth of Eclipses—Leviathan— References to the Stellar Serpents in Scripture—Rahab—Andromeda—"The Eyelids of the Morning"— Poetry, Science, and Myth 196 Chapter VI. The Pleiades Difficulty of Identification—The most Attractive Constellations—Kimah—Not a Babylonian Star Name—A Pre-exilic Hebrew Term—The Pleiades traditionally Seven—Mädler's Suggestion—Pleiades associated in Tradition with the Rainy Season—And with the Deluge—Their "Sweet Influences"—The Return of Spring— The Pleiades in recent Photographs—Great Size and Distance of the Cluster 213 Chapter VII. Orion Kesil—Probably Orion—Appearance of the Constellation—Identified in Jewish Tradition with Nimrod, who was probably Merodach—Altitude of Orion in the Sky—Kesilim—The "Bands" of Orion—The Bow-star and Lance-star, Orion's Dogs—Identification of Tiamat with Cetus 231 Chapter VIII. Mazzaroth Probably the "Signs of the Zodiac"—Babylonian Creation Story—Significance of its Astronomical References—Difference between the "Signs" and the "Constellations" of the Zodiac—Date of the Change— And of the Babylonian Creation Epic—Stages of Astrology—Astrology Younger than Astronomy by 2000 Years—Mazzaroth and the "Chambers of the South"—Mazzaloth—The Solar and Lunar Zodiacs —Mazzaroth in his Season 243 Chapter IX. Arcturus ‘Ash and ‘Ayish—Uncertainty as to their Identification—Probably the Great Bear—Mezarim—Probably another Name for the Bears—"Canst thou guide the Bear?"—Proper Motions of the Plough-stars— Estimated Distance 258 BOOK III TIMES AND SEASONS Chapter I. The Day and its Divisions Rotation Period of Venus—Difficulty of the Time Problem on Venus—The Sun and Stars as Time Measurers —The apparent Solar Day the First in Use—It began at Sunset—Subdivisions of the Day Interval—Between the Two Evenings—The Watches of the Night—The 12-hour Day and the 24-hour Day 269 Chapter II. The Sabbath and the Week The Week not an Astronomical Period—Different Weeks employed by the Ancients—Four Origins assigned for the Week—The Quarter-month—The Babylonian System—The Babylonian Sabbath not a Rest Day— The Jewish Sabbath amongst the Romans—Alleged Astrological Origin of the Week—Origin of the Week given in the Bible 283 Chapter III. The Month The New Moon a Holy Day with the Hebrews—The Full Moons at the Two Equinoxes also Holy Days—The Beginnings of the Months determined from actual Observation—Rule for finding Easter—Names of the Jewish Months—Phœnician and Babylonian Month Names—Number of Days in the Month—Babylonian Dead Reckoning—Present Jewish Calendar 293 Chapter IV. The Year The Jewish Year a Luni-solar one—Need for an Intercalary Month—The Metonic Cycle—The Sidereal and Tropical Years—The Hebrew a Tropical Year—Beginning near the Spring Equinox—Meaning of "the End of the Year"—Early Babylonian Method of determining the First Month—Capella as the Indicator Star—The Triad of Stars—The Tropical Year in the Deluge Story 305 Chapter V. The Sabbatic Year and the Jubilee Law of the Sabbatic Year—A Year of Rest and Release—The Jubilee—Difficulties connected with the Sabbatic Year and the Jubilee—The Sabbatic Year, an Agricultural one—Interval between the Jubilees, Forty-nine Years, not Fifty—Forty-nine Years an Astronomical Cycle 326 Chapter VI. The Cycles of Daniel The Jubilee Cycle possessed only by the Hebrews—High Estimation of Daniel and his Companions entertained by Nebuchadnezzar—Due possibly to Daniel's Knowledge of Luni-solar Cycles—Cycles in Daniel's Prophecy—2300 Years and 1260 Years as Astronomical Cycles—Early Astronomical Progress of the Babylonians much overrated—Yet their Real Achievements not Small—Limitations of the Babylonian— Freedom of the Hebrew 337 BOOK IV THREE ASTRONOMICAL MARVELS Chapter I. Joshua's Long Day Method of Studying the Record—To be discussed as it stands—An early Astronomical Observation. Before the Battle—Movements of the Israelites—Reasons for the Gibeonites' Action—Rapid Movements of all the Parties. Day, Hour, and Place of the Miracle—Indication of the Sun's Declination—Joshua was at Gibeon— And at High Noon—On the 21st Day of the Fourth Month. Joshua's Strategy—Key to it in the Flight of the Amorites by the Beth-horon Route—The Amorites defeated but not surrounded—King David as a Strategist. The Miracle—The Noon-day Heat, the great Hindrance to the Israelites—Joshua desired the Heat to be tempered—The Sun made to "be silent"—The Hailstorm—The March to Makkedah—A Full Day's March in the Afternoon—"The Miracle" not a Poetic Hyperbole—Exact Accord of the Poem and the Prose Chronicle —The Record made at the Time—Their March, the Israelites' Measure of Time 351 Chapter II. The Dial of Ahaz The Narrative—Suggested Explanations—The "Dial of Ahaz," probably a Staircase—Probable History and Position of the Staircase—Significance of the Sign 385 Chapter III. The Star of Bethlehem The Narrative—No Astronomical Details given—Purpose of the Scripture Narrative—Kepler's suggested Identification of the Star—The New Star of 1572—Legend of the Well of Bethlehem—True Significance of the Reticence of the Gospel Narrative 393 A Table of Scriptural Reference 401 Index 405 ILLUSTRATIONS PAGE The Star of Bethlehem (Burne-Jones) Frontispiece The Rainbow (Rubens) 2 Merodach and Tiamat 25 Cirrus and Cumuli 47 A Corner of the Milky Way 94 The Great Comet of 1843 102 Fall of an Aerolite 110 Meteoric Shower of 1799 115 The Assyrian 'Ring With Wings' 126 Corona of Minimum Type 127 St. Paul Preaching at Athens (Raphael) 148 The Ancient Constellations South of the Ecliptic 155 The Celestial Sphere 156 The Midnight Constellations of Spring, b.c. 2700 164 The Midnight Constellations of Winter, b.c. 2700 165 Ophiuchus and the Neighbouring Constellations 189 Aquarius and the Neighbouring Constellations 192 Hercules and Draco 197 Hydra and the Neighbouring Constellations 200 Andromeda and Cetus 207 Stars of the Pleiades 219 Inner Nebulosities of the Pleiades 227 Stars of Orion 232 Orion and the Neighbouring Constellations 236 Position of Spring Equinox, b.c. 2700 246 Position of Spring Equinox, a.d. 1900 247 Stars of the Plough, as the Winnowing Fan 263 'Blow up the Trumpet in the New Moon' 268 Position of the New Moon at the Equinoxes 316 Boundary-stone in the Louvre 318 Worship of the Sun-God at Sippara 322 'Sun, stand Thou still upon Gibeon, and Thou Moon in the Valley of Ajalon' 350 Map of Southern Palestine 357 Bearings of the Rising and Setting Points of the Sun from Gibeon 363 The Rainbow By permission of the Autotype Co. 74, New Oxford Street, London W.C. THE RAINBOW (by Rubens). ToList"The bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain." THE ASTRONOMY OF THE BIBLE