Wise Men HeaderStars.

By Rev. Phil Greetham. © Copyright 1996. This Version, 2012.

2: Stars in the Old Testament.
There was one part of the world where, officially at least, the art of Astrology was condemned and ridiculed. Just one tiny part of the known world rejected astrology, its predictions and those who made them. That place was Israel. The name of the religion? Judaism.
Judaism was almost unique in the then known world. While most everyone else worshipped a whole host of rocks, trees, fable heros, stars, idols & people, the Jews believed in one, invisible, all powerful God. He created everything and he is the supreme source of revelation.
The most important form of that revelation is the Jewish writings of the Law, Wisdom and the Prophets. It might be useful at this point to examine what Judaism says about Astrology, and stars in general.

Deuteronomy 4:19
And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars - all the heavenly array - do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshipping things the LORD your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven.

This warns the Israelites not to be tempted to worship objects in the sky. Nothing bars them from being observers of the sky; just that when they do observe the sky they are not to worship what they see. The heavenly bodies are not national gods of various countries but their purpose goes beyond that and benefits all nations.

Isaiah 47 13 - 15 compares Astrology with sorcery.
All the counsel you have received has only worn you out! Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you. Surely they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame. Here are no coals to warm anyone; here is no fire to sit by. That is all they can do for you - these you have laboured with and trafficked with since childhood. Each of them goes on in his error; there is not one that can save you.

Astrologers, whom Isaiah defines as 'stargazers who make predictions, month by month', are condemned. Their predictions have their hearers running around trying to respond to what they have heard. They only succeed in wearing themselves out. Astrologers are in error and are condemned.
Despite this warning, the Israelites pay little account of this for we are told in Jeremiah chapter 8 that God believes that the bones of past kings of Israel should be dug up and put out in the open. The reason being that since they loved, served, followed, consulted & worshipped the Sun, Moon and stars so much, they should be exposed to their sight! A good example of this is King Manasseh, whom, we are told in 2Chr 33:3, built alters to the starry hosts. This acceptance of astrology and star worship by the Jews is partly due to the mysticism of the sky. There is a thin dividing line between being in awe, and worshipping. It is also due in part to the importing of foreign cultures, the bane of the Jewish religion. Jeremiah 43:13 tells us that the Sun is worshipped by other nations. Amos 5:26 tells us of the Egyptian god, Rephan, or the Assyrian equivalent, Kaiwan, both identified as the planet Saturn. Archaeology reveals to us that celestial worship was common place. It is not surprising then, that the Israelites were tempted to follow this foreign enthusiasm for starry gods.

From all this it might appear that stars have a bad press in the Old Testamen, or that the ancient Hebrews had little interest in the night's sky. This is far from true. Stars first appear in Genesis 1:14, where God explains that the purpose of Sun, Moon and stars are to serve as signs, to mark off the seasons, days and years. The scientific application of celestial observation is thus encouraged . The Sun moon and stars are signs; but signs to define the calendar and for time keeping.
In addition to this there are many examples of stars and constellation names mentioned in the Bible showing that astronomy was a Jewish interest. ( the "seven stars" and "Pleiades," "Orion,", "Arcturus," the "Great Bear" #Am 5:8 Job 9:9 Job 38:31 "the crooked serpent," Draco #Job 26:13 the Dioscuri, or Gemini, "Castor and Pollux" #Ac 28:11 ) The use of star and constellation names in the Bible reflect God's greatness and ability. (#Ps 8:1 ff #Ps 19:1-6 Is 51:6 etc.) Stars are also used in a metaphorical sense to represent certain people. Hebrew astronomy may have led to all kind of Biblical imagry. See here for some examples
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