By Hilel ben David (Greg Killian)

   "The Mazzaroth, also known as the zodiac, is the name given to the pattern of stars found on the celestial equator, or ecliptic. The ecliptic is an imaginary zone of the heavens containing the twelve signs within which lie the paths of the principal planets, and through which the sun passes in its annual course.

Mazzaroth is the Hebrew word for constellation. There is a related Hebrew word: mazzaloth.

In this paper I would like to explore the wealth of information that relates to the celestial bodies. I will examine the Scriptures, the oral law, and the wisdom of the Jewish Sages in my quest to understand the purpose of the celestial bodies.

I. Definitions and explanation:

4216 Mazzarah, maz-zaw-raw'; appar. from 5144 in the sense of distinction; some noted constellation (only in the plur.), perh. collect. the zodiac:- Mazzaroth. Comp. 4208.

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5144 nazar, naw-zar'; a prim. root; to hold aloof, i.e. (intrans.) abstain (from food and drink, from impurity, and even from divine worship [i.e. apostatize]); spec. to set apart (to sacred purposes), i.e. devote:- consecrate, separate (-ing, self).

4208 mazzalah, maz-zaw-law'; appar. from 5140 in the sense of raining; a constellation, i.e. Zodiacal sign (perh. as affecting the weather):- planet. Comp. 4216.

Mazzaroth occurs twice in scripture. The first is in:

Iyov (Job) 38:31-33 "Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up [God's] dominion over the earth?

The second time it is in a slightly different form:

II Melakim (Kings) 23:3-5 The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of HaShem--to follow HaShem and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant. The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the priests next in rank and the doorkeepers to remove from the temple of HaShem all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron Valley and took the ashes to Bethel. He did away with the pagan priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense on the high places of the towns of Judah and on those around Jerusalem--those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts.

CONSTELLATION1. For untold thousands of years men have traced the outlines of familiar things among the stars. These patterns in the night sky are called constellations, from Latin words meaning together and stars.

Many of the constellations have names that are very old. The Sumerian shepherds and farmers of Mesopotamia 7,000 years ago may have called the Bull, the Ram, the Lion, and many other constellations by the same names we use. Students of history are sure these names started in Mesopotamia because the choice of animals suggests this. If the names had first been used in Egypt, there should be a hippopotamus or elephant among the stars. If they had started in ancient India, there should be a tiger or crocodile. (See Astronomy)

The later people of Mesopotamia took over the old Sumerian names for the constellations and still later the Greeks adopted them. The Greeks added many names of heroes and demigods to the list of constellations. The Romans used the Greek list but translated the names into Latin.

About AD 150 the Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy listed the 48 constellations known to him in his book the `Almagest'. His list did not cover the entire sky. There were blank spaces between constellations; and there were no constellations at all for the southernmost stars because these could not be seen from the Mediterranean region. In later centuries astronomers added constellations to Ptolemy's list. Some of these later constellations are named for scientific instruments, such as the Sextant, the Compasses, and the Microscope. Others bear the names of birds and beasts in tropical regions (the Giraffe, the Chameleon, the Toucan). Today 88 constellations are recognized by astronomers.

To most people a constellation is a group of bright stars, but to an astronomer it is a definite area in the sky. Thus every star, no matter how dim, lies in one constellation or another, just as any point in the world is in one country. Although all the stars in the same constellation look close together in the sky, they are not necessarily close in space because some may be much farther out in space than others. The boundaries of the constellations used to be very irregular and had many curved lines. In 1928 astronomers straightened them out so that the outline of any constellation includes only straight lines running north and south or east and west. Astronomers use the constellation names to identify most bright stars and all variable stars, so it was important to make the boundaries clear and precise (See Star).

The constellations are useful to astronomers today--not for their connections with ancient myths, but for telling where in the sky different stars can be found. Many of the brightest stars have individual names that come from Greek, Latin, or Arabic, and the navigators of ships and aircraft call them by these names. Astronomers, however, find it more convenient to name them by their constellations, with a Greek letter to distinguish the different stars in each constellation. For example, Polaris, the Pole Star, in the Northern Hemisphere, is the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor, the Little Bear, and the astronomers' name for it is alpha Ursae Minoris.

The path of the sun among the stars is called the ecliptic. The twelve constellations that lie along the ecliptic form the Zodiac, or birth-sign constellations. The other constellations are divided into those north of the Zodiac and those south of it.

From one place on the Earth different constellations are seen at different times of the year. This happens because, as well as turning on its axis, the Earth is always moving around the sun, making one orbit each year. A star that is visible at night during one part of the year may appear close to the sun six months later; it would not then be seen at night.

Some constellations can be seen only from the Northern Hemisphere and some only from the Southern Hemisphere. The constellations of the Zodiac can be seen from both hemispheres.

The equator system2 is based on the concept of the celestial sphere. All the stars and other heavenly bodies can be imagined to be located on a huge sphere that surrounds Earth. The sphere has several imaginary lines and points. One such line is the celestial equator, which is the projection of Earth's equator onto the celestial sphere. Another is the line of the ecliptic, which is the sun's apparent yearly path along this sphere. The celestial equator and the ecliptic intersect at two points, called the vernal equinox and the autumnal equinox. (When the sun is at either point, day and night on Earth are equally long.) The north and south celestial poles are extensions of the North and South poles of Earth along Earth's axis of rotation.

In the equator system, the position of a star is given by the declination and the right ascension. The declination locates the star from the celestial equator, and the right ascension locates the star from the vernal equinox. Since this system is attached to the celestial sphere, all points on Earth (except the poles) are continually changing their positions under the coordinate system.

II. What is God's purpose for the stars, planets, moon, and sun?

Bereshit (Genesis) 1:14-19 And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, And let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. God made two great lights--the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, To govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the fourth day.


4150 mow`ed, mo-ade'; or mo`ed, mo-ade'; or (fem.) mow`adah (2 Chron. 8:13), mo-aw-daw'; from 3259; prop. an appointment, i.e. a fixed time or season; spec. a festival; conventionally a year; by implication, an assembly (as convened for a definite purpose); technically the congregation; by extension, the place of meeting also a signal (as appointed beforehand):-appointed (sign, time), (place of, solemn) assembly, congregation, (set, solemn) feast, (appointed, due) season, solemn (-ity), synagogue, (set) time (appointed).


4910 mashal, maw-shal'; a prim. root; to rule:-(have, make to have) dominion, governor, X indeed, reigh, (bear, cause to, have) rule (-ing, -r), have power.


8141 shaneh (in plur. only), shaw-neh'; or (fem.) shanah, shaw-naw'; from 8138; a year (as a revolution of time):-+ whole age, X long, + old, year (X -ly).

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8138 shanah, shaw-naw'; a prim. root; to fold, i.e. duplicate (lit. or fig.); by impl. to transmute (trans. or intrans.):-do (speak, strike) again, alter, double, (be given to) change, disguise, (be) diverse, pervert, prefer, repeat, return, do the second time.

In the account of the fourth day of creation, the sun and moon are referred to as the "great luminaries", but then, within the same verse, the sun retains that title, but the moon is called the "small luminary". In fact, both descriptions are correct. When considered from our human perspective, both the sun and the moon are large. They are the only two sources of light that appear to the naked eye as more than a point oflight in the sky. (Planets appear as disks only when viewed with telescopes; stars, even giant ones, remain "points" even under very high magnification.) In fact, the sun and the moon appear to be almost exactly the same size, as seen from Earth. This results from the sun having a diameter approx. 400 times that of the moon, while being approx. 400 times as distant. On the other hand, the moon is actually quite small in comparison to the sun. One commentator noted that when the sun and moon are referred to as "M'orot birkiya hashamayim", luminaries in the heavens, the word "M'orot" is spelled "deficiently", without a "vav", indicating that in the heavens, they are not on equal footing. The moon doesn't even provide its own light. There really isonly one (major) luminary in the heavens. However, when the phrase used is "M'orot birkiya hashamayim l'ha'ir al ha-aretz", luminaries to illuminate the Earth, then the word "M'orot" has a "vav", since from our perspective, there are two (major) sources of light in our sky. The Torah speaks (mostly) in terms that fit our perspective.

Compare also:

Tehillim (Psalms) 136:1-9 Give thanks to HaShem, for he is good. <His love endures forever.> Give thanks to the God of gods. <His love endures forever.> Give thanks to the Lord of lords: <His love endures forever.> To him who alone does great wonders, <His love endures forever.> Who by his understanding made the heavens, <His love endures forever.> Who spread out the earth upon the waters, <His love endures forever.> Who made the great lights--<His love endures forever.> The sun to govern the day, <His love endures forever.> The moon and stars to govern the night; <His love endures forever.>

Tehillim (Psalms) 19:1-6 {For the director of music. A psalm of David.} The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, Which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.

The "heavens" seem to be outer space.

Tehillim (Psalms) 97:1-6 HaShem reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side. His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before HaShem, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.

Tehillim (Psalms) 50:1-6 {A psalm of Asaph.} The Mighty One, God, HaShem, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth. Our God comes and will not be silent; a fire devours before him, and around him a tempest rages. He summons the heavens above, and the earth, that he may judge his people: "Gather to me my consecrated ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice." And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for God himself is judge. <Selah>

Notice that the heavens and the earth are witnesses against us.


5046 nagad, naw-gad'; a prim. root; prop. to front, i.e. stand boldly out opposite; by impl. (causat.), to manifest; fig. to announce (always by word of mouth to one present); spec. to expose, predict, explain, praise:-bewray, X certainly, certify, declare (-ing), denounce, expound, X fully, messenger, plainly, profess, rehearse, report, shew (forth), speak, X surely, tell, utter.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 4:14-19 And HaShem directed me at that time to teach you the decrees and laws you are to follow in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You saw no form of any kind the day HaShem spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, So that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, Or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, Or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below. 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 worshiping things HaShem your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven.

The "heavenly array" could also be translated the "heavenly army". This is a military term!

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 4:25-27 After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time--if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of HaShem your God and provoking him to anger, I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed. HaShem will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which HaShem will drive you.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 30:19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 31:24-30 After Moses finished writing in a book the words of this law from beginning to end, He gave this command to the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of HaShem: "Take this Book of the Law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of HaShem your God. There it will remain as a witness against you. For I know how rebellious and stiff-necked you are. If you have been rebellious against HaShem while I am still alive and with you, how much more will you rebel after I die! Assemble before me all the elders of your tribes and all your officials, so that I can speak these words in their hearing and call heaven and earth to testify against them. For I know that after my death you are sure to become utterly corrupt and to turn from the way I have commanded you. In days to come, disaster will fall upon you because you will do evil in the sight of HaShem and provoke him to anger by what your hands have made." And Moses recited the words of this song from beginning to end in the hearing of the whole assembly of Israel:

Do the stars control us? Are we under a mazel?

The "eighth day," the eighth day of the inauguration of the Mishkan. It was on this day that the Divine Presence finally descended and "inhabited" the Mishkan. For, the number eight always alludes to a departure from the "natural" world, and entry into the supernatural world (which is why Chanukah also is eight days long). Therefore, bris milah acts as a threshold of sorts for the new baby, over which he crosses to enter into the world ABOVE mazel.

There is a discussion in the Talmud about whether or not a Jew is subject to mazel, that is, destiny (Shabbos 156a). We believe that, for the most part, events are predetermined as part of a master plan for creation. Within the stars is encoded six thousand years of history, and a true astrologer can peek into the stars and foretell the future, as Avraham did when he told G-d that he saw that he was to remain childless (through his wife Sarah; Hagar bore Yishmael for him).

However, G-d told Avraham that he was not necessarily correct, for, he could by choice rise above his mazel, and beat his destiny, so-to-speak. And as history and the Chumash testifies, Avraham did precisely that with the birth of his son Yitzchak, something, apparently, he could only achieve AFTER he had performed brit milah (first he was commanded to perform brit milah, and after Yitzchak was conceived).

Hence, brit milah is far more than an initiation rite into Judaism; it is a mystical door through which the Jewish nation passes on the way to freedom from nature.

III. Origins

Tehillim (Psalms) 147:1-5 Praise HaShem. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! HaShem builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.

God gives them their names?

Revelation 8:10-11 The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water-- The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.

Yeshayah (Isaiah) 40:25-26 "To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

Iyov (Job) 9:7-10 He speaks to the sun and it does not shine; he seals off the light of the stars. He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.

Iyov (Job) 38:28-33 Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew? From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens When the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen? "Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up [God's] dominion over the earth?

Amos 5:6-10 Seek HaShem and live, or he will sweep through the house of Joseph like a fire; it will devour, and Bethel will have no one to quench it. You who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground (He who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns blackness into dawn and darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land--HaShem is his name-- He flashes destruction on the stronghold and brings the fortified city to ruin), You hate the one who reproves in court and despise him who tells the truth.

IV. Interesting scriptures:

Shoftim (Judges) 5:19-20 "Melakim (Kings) came, they fought; the kings of Canaan fought at Taanach by the waters of Megiddo, but they carried off no silver, no plunder. From the heavens the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera.

Yeshayah (Isaiah) 13:6-10 Wail, for the day of HaShem is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. Because of this, all hands will go limp, every man's heart will melt. Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame. See, the day of HaShem is coming--a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger--to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light.


3685 Keciyl, kes-eel'; the same as 3684; any notable constellation; spec. Orion (as if a burly one):-constellation, Orion.

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3684 keciyl, kes-eel'; from 3688; prop. fat, i.e. (fig.) stupid or silly:- fool (-ish).

Bamidbar (Numbers) 24:15-19 Then he uttered his oracle: "The oracle of Balaam son of Beor, the oracle of one whose eye sees clearly, The oracle of one who hears the words of God, who has knowledge from the Most High, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened: "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the sons of Sheth. Edom will be conquered; Seir, his enemy, will be conquered, but Israel will grow strong. A ruler will come out of Jacob and destroy the survivors of the city."

What does this mean?

V. Star and Constellation Names

Iyov (Job) 9:9 He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south.


5906 `Ayish, ah'-yish; or `Ash, awsh; from 5789; the constellation of the Great Bear (perh. from its migration through the heavens):-Arcturus. Ayath. See 5857.

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5789 `uwsh, oosh; a prim. root; to hasten:-assemble self.

5857 `Ay, ah'-ee; or (fem.) `Aya' (Neh. 11:31), ah-yaw'; or `Ayath

(Isa. 10:28), ah-yawth; for 5856; Ai, Aja or Ajath, a place in Pal.:-Ai, Aija, Aijath, Hai.


3685 Keciyl, kes-eel'; the same as 3684; any notable constellation; spec. Orion (as if a burly one):-constellation, Orion.

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3684 keciyl, kes-eel'; from 3688; prop. fat, i.e. (fig.) stupid or silly:- fool (-ish).

Pleiades is the Septuagint translation of:

3598 Kiymah, kee-maw'; from the same as 3558; a cluster of stars, i.e. the Pleiades:-Pleiades, seven stars.

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3558 kuwmaz, koo-mawz'; from an unused root mean. to store away; a jewel (prop. gold beads):-tablet.

II Luqas (Acts) 28:11 After three months we put out to sea in a ship that had wintered in the island. It was an Alexandrian ship with the figurehead of the twin gods Castor and Pollux.

Constellation: Bethulah

Meaning......: Virgin

Star...: Tsemech

Meaning: Branch. Used exclusively of the Messiah. Jer 23:5-6, Zech 3:8, Zech 6:12 Isa 4:2.

Star...: Zavijaveh

Meaning: Gloriously beautiful. Isa 4:2

Constellation: Mozanaim

Meaning......: Scales. Iyov (Job) 31:6, Eze 45:10

VI. The Urim and Tummim

A. Ibn Ezra-Nechemiah (Nehemiah) ( From "The Secret of the Torah", A translation of Abraham ibn Ezra-Nechemiah (Nehemiah)'s Sefer Yesod Mora Ve-Sod Ha-Torah, by H. Norman Strickman.)

The secret of the ephod3 is extremely precious4, for six names5 were inscribed on each one of the two sapphire stones that were on the ephod. One stone was on its right, and one6 was on its left7.

Observe: There was no image on the stones [of the ephod]. This alludes8 [to the twelve sections of the sky]. These sections can be perceived only by the mind9. They correspond to the number of the tribes of Israel.

The breastplate was like the work of the ephod (Shemot (Exodus) 28:15)10. It was square11, corresponding to the four compass points. Each one of its stones12 was therefore13 unlike the other.14 The boxes and the rings that were permanently set in the breastplate15 allude to the celestial equator.

The urim16 are to be taken at face value.17 So is the tummim.18 The tummim corresponds to the cubed number.19 Moses first placed them20 on the breastplate, in accordance with the position of the heavenly bodies21, on the day that he erected the tabernacle. The wise will understand.

B. Talmud

Yoma 73b... And although the decree of a prophet could be revoked, the decree of the 'Urim and Thummim' could not be revoked, as it is said: By the judgment of the Urim. Why were they called 'Urim and Thummim'? 'Urim' because they made their words enlightening.22 'Thummim' because they fulfil their words. ...

Yoma 73b ... in wrong order and received his answer in right order.23 And as soon as he knew that he had asked in wrong order, he asked again in right order, as it is said: Will the men of Keilah deliver up me and my men in to the hand of Saul? And the Lord said.' They will deliver thee up.24 But if the occasion required both questions, both were answered, as it is said: And David inquired of the Lord, saying: Shall I pursue after this troop? Shall I overtake them? And He answered him: pursue; for thou shalt surely overtake them and shalt without fail recover all.25 And although the decree of a prophet could be revoked, the decree of the 'Urim and Thummim' could not be revoked, as it is said: By the judgment of the Urim. Why were they called 'Urim and Thummim'? 'Urim' because they made their words enlightening.26 'Thummim' because they fulfil their words. And if you should ask: Why did they not fulfil their words in Gibeah Benjamin?27 It is because they did not inquire28 [whether the result would be] victory or defeat.29 But at last, when conquered, they [the Urim and Thummim] approved their action, as it is said: And Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, stood before it in those days, saying: 'Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother, or shall I cease?' and the Lord said: Go up, for tomorrow I will deliver him into thy hand.30

How was it effected? - R. Johanan said: [The letters] stood forth.31 Resh Lakish said: They joined each other. But the 'Zade' was missing?32 R. Shmuel (Samuel) b. Isaac said: They contained also the names of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But the 'Teth', too, was missing? - R. Aha b. Jacob said: They contained also the words: The 'tribes'33 of Jeshurun.

An objection was raised: No priest was inquired of who does not speak by means of the Holy Spirit and upon whom the Divine Presence does not rest, for Zadok inquired and succeeded, whilst Abiathar inquired and failed, as it is said: But Abiathar went up until all the people had done passing out of the city?34 - He helped along.35

AND ONE INQUIRED ONLY FOR A KING. Whence do we know these things? - R. Abbahu said: Scripture said, And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire for him by the judgment of the Urim;36 'he' i.e., the king, 'and all the children of Israel with him', i.e., the [priest] Anointed for Battle, 'even all the congregation', that is the Sanhedrin.

* * *

A prophet needs no "tools" to speak the word of God, but I would point out to you that the oracle of Urim and Thummin was used by God's prophets and priests to divine the will of God, dozens of times in the Old Testament. See for example: Shemot (Exodus) 28:30. Interestingly the words Urim and Thummin are of Chaldean origin and translate as "perfects lights"-- Lights could be taken as a reference to the heavenly hosts. Is it mere coincidence that the modern hymn of the 3 wise men sung at Christmas should go "guide us to thy perfect light."?

Ur (same root as Urim) of the Chaldees, birthplace of Abraham, translates "Light of the Astrologers.":

Yirimiyah (Jeremiah) 50:10 And Chaldea shall be a spoil: all that spoil her shall be satisfied, saith HaShem.


3778 Kasdiy, kas-dee' (occasionally with enclitic Kasdiymah, kas-dee'-maw; towards the Kasdites:-into Chaldea), patron. from 3777 (only in theplur.); a Kasdite, or desc. of Kesed; by impl. a Chaldean (as if so descended); also an astrologer (as if proverbial of that people):- Chaldeans, Chaldees, inhabitants of Chaldea.

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3777 Kesed, keh'-sed; from an unused root of uncert. mean; Kesed, a relative of Abraham:-Chesed.

The Urim and Thummin oracle was thought to be two distinct objects fastened to the breastplate of the high priest for discerning God's will. This bares a remarkable resemblance to a legend recalled in the Torah (Ab Zarah 5a) concerning a large astrological tablet which Abraham, the Chaldean, bore on his chest at times when he was consulted as a prophet by kings of the east.

Jacob's son Joseph who is a prophet of God makes use of a prophetic tool called a "cup of divination":

Bereshit (Genesis) 44:1-5 Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house: "Fill the men's sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man's silver in the mouth of his sack. Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one's sack, along with the silver for his grain." And he did as Joseph said. As morning dawned, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys. They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, "Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, 'Why have you repaid good with evil? Isn't this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.'"

And has predictive dreams with what is clearly astronomical meaning. The only way to correctly interpret his dream is my means of astronomy. His father immediately understands Joseph's dream of the sun and the moon being references to himself and his wife:

Bereshit (Genesis) 37:5-10 Joseph had a dream, and when he old it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, "Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it." His brothers said to him, "Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?" And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. "Listen," he said, "I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me." When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, "What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?"

This further suggests that Jacob himself understood astronomy. These predictions of Joseph are fulfilled EXACTLY, see: Bereshit (Genesis) 45:9-12. Joseph is further described in scripture as a "God fearing man" Bereshit (Genesis) 42:18, who receives the blessing of his father Jacob after his prophesy with its astronomical symbolism concerning him comes to pass.

Scripture clearly states that Daniel was "learned" in the knowledge of the Chaldean astrologers and in fact was made "Chief of the astrologers":

Daniel 4:4-9 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in my bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me. So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me. When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me. Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.) I said, "Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you. Here is my dream; interpret it for me.

He was obviously a different kind of prophet from the other royal advisers. At no point does he explicitly condemn Astronomy as such. Only that God alone provides the "inspiration" (ie. Holy Spirit) for correct prophesy. Indeed, He even intervenes to prevent the execution of the pagan astrologers and is kindly towards them.

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 Jewish Midrash supports the notion that Abraham was an astrologer. Biblical evidence of this may be found in Bereshit (Genesis) 17:15 where God 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" new beginning. God 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. "Yeshayah (Isaiah) 46:11.

VII. What did Josephus have to say about the celestial bodies?


7. Over against this table, near the southern wall, was set a candlestick of cast gold, hollow within, being of the weight of one hundred pounds, which the Bereans (Hebrews) call Chinchares ,. if it be turned into the Greek language, it denotes a talent. It was' made with its knops, and lilies, and pomegranates, and bowls (which ornaments amounted to seventy in all); by which means the shaft elevated itself on high from a single base, and spread itself into as many branches as there are planets, including the sun among them. It terminated in seven heads, in one row, all standing parallel to one another; and these branches carried seven lamps, one by one, in imitation of the number of the planets. These lamps looked to the east and to the south, the candlestick being situate obliquely.


7. Now here one may wonder at the ill-will which men bear to us, and which they profess to bear on account of our despising that Deity which they pretend to honor; for if any one do but consider the fabric of the tabernacle, and take a view of the garments of the high priest, and of those vessels which we make use of in our sacred ministration, he will find that our legislator was a divine man, and that we are unjustly reproached by others; for if any one do without prejudice, and with judgment, look upon these things, he will find they were every one made in way of imitation and representation of the universe. When Moses distinguished the tabernacle into three parts, (15) and allowed two of them to the priests, as a place accessible and common, he denoted the land and the sea, these being of general access to all; but he set apart the third division for God, because heaven is inaccessible to men. And when he ordered twelve loaves to be set on the table, he denoted the year, as distinguished into so many months. By branching out the candlestick into seventy parts, he secretly intimated the Decani, or seventy divisions of the planets; and as to the seven lamps upon the candlesticks, they referred to the course of the planets, of which that is the number. The veils, too, which were composed of four things, they declared the four elements; for the fine linen was proper to signify the earth, because the flax grows out of the earth; the purple signified the sea, because that color is dyed by the blood of a sea shell-fish; the blue is fit to signify the air; and the scarlet will naturally be an indication of fire. Now the vestment of the high priest being made of linen, signified the earth; the blue denoted the sky, being like lightning in its pomegranates, and in the noise of the bells resembling thunder. And for the ephod, it showed that God had made the universe of four elements; and as for the gold interwoven, I suppose it related to the splendor by which all things are enlightened. He also appointed the breastplate to be placed in the middle of the ephod, to resemble the earth, for that has the very middle place of the world. And the girdle which encompassed the high priest round, signified the ocean, for that goes round about and includes the universe. Each of the sardonyxes declares to us the sun and the moon; those, I mean, that were in the nature of buttons on the high priest's shoulders. And for the twelve stones, whether we understand by them the months, or whether we understand the like number of the signs of that circle which the Greeks call the Zodiac, we shall not be mistaken in their meaning. And for the mitre, which was of a blue color, it seems to me to mean heaven; for how otherwise could the name of God be inscribed upon it? That it was also illustrated with a crown, and that of gold also, is because of that splendor with which God is pleased. Let this explication (16) suffice at present, since the course of my narration will often, and on many occasions, afford me the opportunity of enlarging upon the virtue of our legislator.

VIII. What did the Book of Jubilees say about the celestial bodies?

Jubilees, Chapter 12:15... And Terah went forth from Ur of the Chaldees, he and his sons, to go into the land of Lebanon and into the land of Canaan, and he dwelt in the land of Haran, and Abram dwelt with 16 Terah his father in Haran two weeks of years. And in the sixth week, in the fifth year thereof, [1951 A.M.] Abram sat up throughout the night on the new moon of the seventh month to observe the stars from the evening to the morning, in order to see what would be the character of the year with regard 17 to the rains, and he was alone as he sat and observed. And a word came into his heart and he said: All the signs of the stars, and the signs of the moon and of the sun are all in the hand of the Lord. Why do I search (them) out?

The Works of Flavius Josephus

Antiquities of the Jews:

Book 1 - Chapter 3:9. Now when Noah had lived three hundred and fifty years after the Flood, and that all that time happily, he died, having lived the number of nine hundred and fifty years. But let no one, upon comparing the lives of the ancients with our lives, and with the few years which we now live, think that what we have said of them is false; or make the shortness of our lives at present an argument, that neither did they attain to so long a duration of life, for those ancients were beloved of God, and [lately] made by God himself; and because their food was then fitter for the prolongation of life, might well live so great a number of years: and besides, God afforded them a longer time of life on account of their virtue, and the good use they made of it in astronomical and geometrical discoveries, which would not have afforded the time of foretelling [the periods of the stars] unless they had lived six hundred years; for the great year is completed in that interval. Now I have for witnesses to what I have said, all those that have written Antiquities, both among the Greeks and barbarians; for even Manetho, who wrote the Egyptian History, and Berosus, who collected the Chaldean Monuments, and Mochus, and Hestieus, and, besides these, Hieronymus the Egyptian, and those who composed the Phoenician History, agree to what I here say: Hesiod also, and Hecatseus, Hellanicus, and Acusilaus; and, besides these, Ephorus and Nicolaus relate that the ancients lived a thousand years. But as to these matters, let every one look upon them as he thinks fit.

IX. The Number Ten

The following text is quoted from: Abraham Ibn Ezra-Nechemiah (Nehemiah)'s Sefer Yesod Mora Ve-Sod Ha-Torah

Ten is the foundation of all sums,37 for all sums that follow ten38 are made up of a part39 or parts of ten,40 or one come into being by doubling ten,41 multiplying ten42 or by a combination of the two.43 Furthermore, it is well known that wind and fire form one sphere, and water and earth a second sphere.44 There is indisputable proof that these spheres are circled by eight other spheres.45 All of this clearly adds up to ten. The yod46 therefore has the shape of the periphery of a circle that encompasses everything in it.47

The word yod means a gathering.48 It comes from the same root49 as the words todah [company50 and todot [companies]51 in And the other company (Ezra-Nechemiah (Nehemiah)-Nechemiah (Nehemiah) 12:38)

Now if one starts counting the spheres from the first sphere,52 then the first sphere is the holy sphere.53 On the other hand, if one starts the count of the spheres from the lunar sphere,54 then the tenth sphere is the holy sphere. Both the firstborn and the tenth born are there fore holy.55

However, from another point of view, the integers end with nine.56 For ten is the first of the tens, and one is not considered a number. There are thus only eight numbers.57 Four of them-namely, two, three, five, and seven-are prime numbers.58

When we add one, which is a root, and a square, a foundation59 and a cube, to the square of the first of the even numbers,60 we get five61 If we add one to the square of the first of the odd numbers,62 we get ten.63

We thus have the revered name of God.64 If we add one to the square of five, we get the sum of God's entire name.65 The same is also the case if we add up the letters that spell out yod, heh.66 If we add one to the square of seven, we get fifty, [which alludes to] the holy jubilee year67 and the day when the festival of Shavuot is observed.68

X. Interesting Talmud Passages:

Berachoth 58b   OVER SHOOTING-STARS [ZIKIN]. What are ZIKIN? Shmuel (Samuel) said: A comet.69 Shmuel (Samuel) also said: I am as familiar with the paths of heaven as with the streets of Nehardea, with the exception of the comet, about which I am ignorant. There is a tradition that it never passes through the constellation of Orion, for if it did, the world would be destroyed. But we have seen it pass through? - Its brightness passed through, which made it appear as if it passed through itself. R. Huna the son of R. Yahoshua (Joshua) said: Wilon70 was torn asunder and rolled up,71 showing the brightness of Rakia.72 R. Ashi said: A star was removed from one side of Orion and a companion star appeared on the other side, and people were bewildered and thought the star had crossed over.73

Shmuel (Samuel) contrasted two texts. It is written, Who maketh the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades.74 And it is written elsewhere, That maketh Pleiades and Orion.75 How do we reconcile these? Were it not for the heat of Orion the world could not endure the cold of Pleiades; and were it not for the cold of Pleiades the world could not endure the heat of Orion. There is a tradition that were it not that the tail of the Scorpion has been placed in the Stream of Fire,76 no one who has ever been stung by a scorpion could live. This is what is referred to in the words of the All-Merciful to Iyov (Job): Canst thou bind the chains of Pleiades or loose the bands of Orion?77

What is meant by Kimah [Pleiades]?6 Shmuel (Samuel) said: About a hundred [ke'me-ah] stars. Some say they are close together; others say that they are scattered. What is meant by ''Ash [the Bear]'?6 - Rab Judah said: Jutha. What is Jutha? - Some say it is the tail of the Ram; others say it is the hand of the Calf.78 The one who says it is the tail of the Ram is more probably right, since it says: 'Ayish will be comforted for her children .79 This shows that it lacks something, and in fact it looks like a piece torn off;80 and the reason why she follows her is because she is saying to her: Give me my children. For at the time when the Holy One, blessed be He, wanted to bring a flood upon the world, He took two stars from Kimah and brought a flood upon the world. And when He wanted to stop it, He took two stars from 'Ayish and stopped it. But why did He not put the other two back? - A pit cannot be filled with its own clods;81 or another reason is, the accuser cannot become advocate. Then He should have created two other stars for it? - There is nothing new under the sun.82 R. Nahman said: The Holy one, blessed be He, will one day restore them to her, as it says: and 'Ayish will be comforted for her children.83

Shabbath 146a the serpent came upon Eve he injected a lust into her:84 [as for] the Israelites who stood at Mount Sinai, their lustfulness departed; the idolaters, who did not stand at Mount Sinai, their lustfulness did not depart.85 R. Aha son of Raba asked R. Ashi. What about proselytes? Though they were not present, their guiding stars86 were present, as it is written, [Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath], but with him that standeth here with us this day before the Lord our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day.87 Now he differs from R. Abba b. Kahana, for R. Abba b. Kahana said: Until three generations the lustful [strain] did not disappear from our Patriarchs: Abraham begat Ishmael, Isaac begat Esau, [but] Jacob begat the twelve tribes in whom there was no taint whatsoever.88

Rosh HaShana 11b R. Yahoshua (Joshua) and R. Eliezer are herein consistent [with views expressed by them elsewhere], as it has been taught: 'In the sixth hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month.89 R. Yahoshua (Joshua) said: That day was the seventeenth day of Iyar, when the constellation of Pleiades sets at daybreak and the fountains begin to dry up, and because they [mankind] perverted their ways, the Holy One, blessed be He, changed for them the work of creation and made the constellation of Pleiades rise at daybreak and took two stars from the Pleiades and brought a flood on the world. R. Eliezer said: That day was the seventeenth of Marheshvan, a day on which the constellation of Pleiades rises at daybreak, and [the season] when the fountains begin to fill , and because they perverted their ways, the Holy One, blessed be He, changed for them the work of creation, and caused the constellation of Pleiades to rise at daybreak and took away two stars [from it] and brought a flood on the world'.90

Baba Bathra 16b The Lord had blessed Abraham in all things91 [ba-kol].What is meant by 'in all things'? R. Meir said: In the fact that he had no daughter; R. Judah said: In the fact that he had a daughter. Others say that Abraham had a daughter whose name was ba-kol. R. Eliezer the Modiite said that Abraham possessed a power of reading the stars92 for which he was much sought after by the potentates of East and West.93

Shabbath 156a It was stated. R. Hanina said: The planetary influence gives wisdom, the planetary influence gives wealth, and Israel stands under planetary influence. R. Johanan maintained: Israel is immune from planetary influence.94 Now, R. Johanan is consistent with his view, for R. Johanan said: How do we know that Israel is immune from planetary influence? Because it is said, Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the nations, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the nations are dismayed at them:95 they are dismayed but not Israel.96 Rab too holds that Israel is immune from planetary influence. For Rab Judah said in Rab's name: How do we know that Israel is immune from planetary influence? Because it is said, and he brought him forth from abroad.97 Abraham pleaded before the Holy One, blessed be He, 'Sovereign of the Universe! one born in mine house is mine heir.'98 'Not so,' He replied, 'but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels.'99 'Sovereign of the Universe!' cried he, 'I have looked at my constellation and find that I am not fated to beget child.' 'Go forth from [i.e., cease] thy planet [gazing], for Israel is free from planetary influence. What is thy calculation?

Shabbath 156a R. Hanina said to then, [his disciples]: Go out and tell the son of Levi, Not the constellation of the day but that of the hour is the determining influence. He who is born under the constellation of the sun100 will be a distinguished101 man: he will eat and drink of his own and his secrets will lie uncovered; if a thief, he will have no success. He who is born under Venus will be wealthy and unchaste [immoral]. What is the reason? Because fire was created therein.102 He who is born under Mercury will be of a retentive memory and wise. What is the reason? Because it [Mercury] is the sun's scribe. He who is born under the Moon will be a man to suffer evil, building and demolishing, demolishing and building. eating and drinking that which is not his and his secrets will remain hidden: if a thief, he will be successful.103 He who is born under Saturn (Shabbtai) will be a man whose plans will be frustrated.104 Others say: All [nefarious] designs against him will be frustrated. He who is born under Zedek [Jupiter] will be a right-doing man [zadkan] R. Nahman b. Isaac observed: Right-doing in good deeds. 'He who is born under Mars will be a shedder of blood. R. Ashi observed: Either a surgeon, a thief, a slaughterer, or a circumciser. Rabbah said: I was born under Mars.105 Abaye retorted: You too inflict punishment and kill.106

Shabbath 156b Because Zedek [Jupiter]107 stands in the West?108 I will turn it back and place it in the East.' And thus it is written, Who hath raised up Zedek from the east?109 He hath summoned it for his sake.110

Midrash Rabbah - Bamidbar (Numbers) X:8 Wine and intelligence have been compared to Kimah111 and to Scorpio. Whenever Kimah is visible in the sky, Scorpio is invisible, and as soon as Scorpio appears Kimah goes out of sight. So wine is like Scorpio and knowledge is like Kimah. As the scorpion injures with its tail so wine injures in the end; as it says, At the last it biteth like a serpent (ib. XXIII, 32). And as Kimah ripens the fruit and gives it flavour, so intelligence imparts fragrance and relish to a man's words. When the wine goes in intelligence takes its leave. Wherever there is wine there is no intelligence. 'When the wine enters, the secret (sod) comes out'; the numerical total of wine (yayin) is seventy2 and the total of sod (secret) is seventy.3

XI. Relationship to the twelve tribe:

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 32:1-9 Listen, O heavens, and I will speak; hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. I will proclaim the name of HaShem. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he. They have acted corruptly toward him; to their shame they are no longer his children, but a warped and crooked generation. Is this the way you repay HaShem, O foolish and unwise people? Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you? Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you. When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. For HaShem'S portion is his people, Jacob his allotted inheritance.

(The stars too were bounded according to the number of the sons of Israel.)

Midrash Rabbah - Bamidbar (Numbers) II:7 7. ACCORDING TO THE ENSIGNS (II, 2).112 There were distinguishing signs for each prince; each had a flag and a different color for every flag, corresponding to the precious stones on the breast113 of Aaron. It was from these that governments114 learned to provide themselves with flags of various colors. Each tribe had its own prince and its flag whose color corresponded to the color of its stone. [In Aaron's breast-plate]

Reuben's stone was ruby and the color of his flag was red; and embroidered thereon were mandrakes.115

Simeon's was topaz and his flag was of a green color; the town of Shechem was embroidered thereon.116

Levi's117 was smaragd and the color of his flag was a third white, a third black, and a third red; embroidered thereon were the Urim and Thummim.118

Judah's was a carbuncle and the color of his flag was something like the heavens; embroidered on it was a lion.119

Issachar's was a sapphire and the color of his flag was black like stibium, and embroidered thereon was the sun and moon, in allusion to the text, And of the children of Issachar, men that had understanding of the times120 (I Chron. XII, 33).

Zebulun's was an emerald and the color of his flag was white,121 with a ship embroidered thereon, in allusion to the text, Zebulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea (Gen. XLIX, 13).

Dan's was jacinth and the color of his flag was similar to sapphire,122 and embroidered on it was a serpent, in allusion to the text, Dan shall be a serpent in the way (Gen. XLIX, 17).

Gad's123 was an agate and the color of his flag was neither white nor black but a blend of black and white; on it was embroidered a camp, in allusion to the text, Gad124, a troop shall troop upon him (ib. 19).

Naphtali's was an amethyst and the color of his flag was like clarified wine of a not very deep red; on it was embroidered a hind, in allusion to the text, Naphtali is a hind let loose (ib. 21).

Asher's was a beryl and the color of his flag was like the precious stone with which women adorn themselves; embroidered thereon was an olive-tree, in allusion to the text, As for Asher, his bread shall be fat (ib. 20).

Joseph's was an onyx and the color of his flag was jet black; the embroidered design thereon for both princes, Ephraim and Manasseh, was Egypt, because they were born in Egypt.

On the flag of Ephraim was embroidered a bullock, in allusion to the text, His firstling bullock (Deut. XXXIII, 17), which applies to Yahoshua (Joshua)125 who came from the tribe of Ephraim.

On the flag of the tribe of Manasseh was embroidered a wild ox, in allusion to the text, And his horns are the horns of the wild-ox (Deut. XXXIII, 17), which alludes to Gideon son of Joash who came from the tribe of Manasseh.126

Benjamin's was jasper and the color of his flag was a combination of all the twelve colors; embroidered thereon was a wolf, in allusion to the text, Benjamin is a wolf that raveneth (Gen. XLIX, 27). The reason, then, why it is said, ACCORDING TO THE ENSIGNS is because each prince had his own distinguishing sign.

Midrash Rabbah - Esther VII:11 With Kislev came the merit of Hanukah,127 with Tebeth the merit of Ezra-Nechemiah (Nehemiah), as it says, And the children of the captivity did so. And Ezra-Nechemiah (Nehemiah) the priest... were separated... in the first day of the tenth month... and they were finished with all the men that had married foreign women, etc. (Ezra-Nechemiah (Nehemiah) X, 16 f.). With Shebat came up the merit of the Men of the Great Synagogue; for on the twenty-third of that month all Israel gathered together to take counsel about the concubine of Gibeah and the graven image of Micah.128 When the month of Adar came up, he found no merit in it and he began to rejoice. He then turned to examining the signs of the Zodiac. In the sign of the Lamb129 he found the merit of Passover, as it says, Every man a lamb, according to their fathers' houses (Ex. XII, 3). In that of Taurus (ox) was found the merit of Joseph who was called ox, as it says, His firstling bullock, majesty is his (Deut. XXXIII, 17); and also the merit of the offering, as it says, When a bullock, or a sheep, or a goat is brought forth, etc. (Lev. XXII, 27). In Gemini (twins) was found the merit of Peretz and Zerach130 who were called twins, as it says, Behold, twins were in her womb (Gen. XXXVIII, 27). In Leo (lion) was found the merit of Daniel who was from the tribe of Judah which is called lion, as it says, Judah is a lion's whelp (ib. XLIX, 9). In Virgo (virgin) there was the merit of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, who were like a maiden that knows no man except her husband; so they did not change their God or their law and clung to their Judaism. Libra (scales) is Iyov (Job), as it says, O that my vexation we weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances (Iyov (Job) VI, 2). Scorpio is Yechezkel (Ezekiel), as it says, Thou dost dwell among scorpions (Ezek., 6).131 Sagittarius (bowman) is Joseph, as it says, But his bow abode firm (Gen. XLIX, 24). Capricornus (kid) is Jacob, as it says, And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands (ib. XXVII, 16). Aquarius (water-carrier) is Moses, as it says, And moreover he drew water for us (Ex. II, 19).132 On reaching the sign of Pisces (fishes) which shines in the month of Adar, he found no merit in it and rejoiced saying, 'Adar has no merit, its sign has no merit, and what is more, in Adar Moses their master died.' He, however, did not know that on the first133 of Adar Moses died and on the first of Adar he was born. He said: 'Just as fishes swallow one another, so I will swallow them.' Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to him: ' Wretch! Fishes sometimes swallow and sometimes are swallowed, and now it is you who will be swallowed.' Said R. Hanan: The same thing is intimated by the verse, Whereas it was turned to the contrary, that the Jews had rule over them that hated them (Est. IX, 1). R. Tanhuma said: And the Lord said not that He would blot out the name of Israel (II Melakim (Kings) XIV, 27), but what He said was, For I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek (Ex. XVII, 14)

Midrash Rabbah - Vayikra (Leviticus) XXIX:8 8. R. Hiyya b. Abba in the name of R. Levi opened his discourse with the text, Sons of Adam134 are vanity, and sons of man135 are a lie; if they be laid in the balances, they are together from nothingness (Ps. LXII, 10).136 In the ordinary way, what do people say? Such-and-such a man shall marry such-and-such a woman; but 'Sons of Adam are vanity'; such-and-such a woman shall be married to So-and-so, but 'Sons of man are a lie; they are together from nothingness'.137 R. Hiyya explained this to mean that while they are still composed of nothing in the womb of their mother they are united. R. Nahman explained the verse to mean: In spite of all the vanities and lying acts which the children of Abraham our father commit in this world, he is sufficiently worthy to make atonement for them all. Hence it is written, He was the greatest man among the Anakim (Josh. XIV, 15).138 If they be laid in the balances'-- (be-moznayim): they are granted atonement during 'moznayim'; that is to say, in the month whose constellation is Libra (moznayim). Which month is that? It is the month of Tishri, which signifies: Mayest Thou dissolve (tishre), pardon, and atone for the sins of Thy people. When? IN THE SEVENTH MONTH. Another exposition: It is called 'the seventh (hashebi'i) month' because it is full139 (mesubba') of everything; in it the wine-vats are full, in it there are blessings, there is atonement in it, there is the festive booth, the palm-branch and the willow' in it.

XII. Miscellaneous Thoughts

The word Mazal does not literally mean "luck." "Mazal" is literally associated with the 12 signs of the Zodiac, which are called the "Mazalot," but we use the word in a way which means more than just the Zodiac. Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzatto explains that there is a multi-leveled conceptual system through which HaShem interacts with the physical Creation. In other words, "energy" which originates with HaShem travels through this system and eventually reaches us. At some point along the way, this energy is said to pass through the Mazalot, the stars and the planets, which then transfer it to the rest of Creation. This explains how people trained in astrology may know what will happen to an individual in the future. They are "reading," through the configuration of the Mazalot, the energy that is yet to be delivered. However, we are actually forbidden to engage in the prediction of the future via astrology even though it may work. The source of this prohibition is, "You shall be tamim (pure, perfect, simple) with the HaShem your G-d."

Mazal ("sign," pl. mazalot):

1. a spiritual conduit of Divine beneficence (from the Hebrew root "to flow" [nozel]).


2. specifically, the thirteen tufts of the "beard" of Arich Arpin.


3. a physical embodiment of such a spiritual conduit, such as a star, planet, constellation, etc.


4. specifically, the twelve constellations of the zodiac.


5. According to our sages, the Jewish People are not under the influence of the mazalot (Shabbat 156a).

God chose not to give the Torah in Nisan or Iyar, for the mazal of Nisan is a lamb and the mazal of Iyar is a bull and neither is capable of singing praise. Rather, He gave the Torah in Sivan, for the mazal of Sivan is twins, who have hands with which to clap and legs with which to dance.140

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 physical world by the twelve lunar months and the twelve signs of the zodiac; in the Jewish people, by the twelve tribes; 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 Jewish calendar, a thirteenth month is added in 7 out of every 19 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 thirteenth tribe, Levi, officiates at the Temple, reconciling the twelve tribes of the Jewish people with their "mate," HaShem.

What do we mean when we say "Mazel Tov"? We are saying a brief prayer at this time which is strongly influenced by the Mazalot, that Hashem will ensure that the "energy" that is sent will be only for good.

* * *

By Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein and Bereshit (Genesis), '97

To Rashi, the meaning of the verses becomes: "If you will struggle diligently in Torah study in order to guard and perform the commandments, I will give rain in its season the earth will give forth its produce and the tree will yield its fruit..."

The reward is difficult to understand... for keeping the commandments there will be tangible reward in this material world? Didn't the Talmud say: "The reward for mitzvos is not in this world?" (Kidushin 39b)

Similarly, the Talmud states (Moed Koton 28a): "Children, Length of days and wealth are not dependent on merit [alone] but on 'mazal' (fortune)."

However, the Tosafot commentary there mentions that "a great mitzvah is different," and can change one's "mazal." The legal commentary Elya Rabba explains that this is Rashi's meaning here, as well. Amailos Batorah -- diligent application to Torah studies -- is a "great mitzvah" that can help inspire a change in one's 'mazal.

Indeed, Torah study is unlike any other study. In Medrash Tanchuma to Parshas Noach, the Rabbis describe to what lengths the Torah Scholars must go: "The people who walked in darkness -- saw a great light," refers to them, because they deny themselves sleep, struggling over obscure passages in the Talmud -- until the great light of understanding comes. They deny themselves food and drink and pleasures in this world, instead spending their time toiling, struggling to understand the Torah.

Mishlei (Proverbs) 16 "The soul of the working man works for him, for his mouth forces him." The soul of the man striving for Torah works for him, for while he works in one area of Torah study, his soul strives for him in another area. (Sanhedrin 99b).

The Elya Rabba explains: One who constantly reviews his learning -- it will become orderly for him. This is the meaning of the prayer (in the daily blessings over Torah study): "Please, G-d, make the words of Your Torah sweet in our mouths... so that we... may all know Your name and learn Torah for Your name's sake..."

"So that we may all know Your name:" All the Torah is the Name of G-d. Another explanation: The Zohar states (like Rashi and Tosaphot quoted above), that diligent study of Torah can change a heavenly decree. Therefore, we will know G-d's name, and not the name of the "mazal" (literally, a constellation).

(c) Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein and Bereshit (Genesis), '97

* * *

The Egyptians worshiped Capricorn (toleh) which was the "first-born" of the zodiac. When the Israelites saw that Capricorn had fallen, they assumed that the sign of Taurus (shor), which comes after Capricorn, was now foremost and had conquered Capricorn. Because of this error they made the Calf, which parallels the sign of Taurus. Therefore, whatever they did, they learned from the Egyptians. It is not surprising that they followed what they were accustomed to.

[Hakham Yitschaq Magriso (Constantinople, 1746) of blessed memory and form part of the Yalkut MeAm Lo'ez (Comentario delPueblo Ladinador)]

* * *


Parshas Vayechi 5758 - '98

Outline Vol. 2, # 11

by Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein

Chodshei Hashanah Vol. 2 # 4

Kiddush Hachodesh: The Mitzvah for Each Person

Each person who is able, has a mitzvah to be familiar with the workings of the Jewish Calendar (Shabbos, 75a). There are several points of view as to the extent of the obligation, including the following:

To Rashi and Maharsha, each person is required -- according to ability -- to study astronomy in connection with the calendar, but that the calculations required to determine the months are only the duty of the High Court. The Yerei'im taught that each person is required to be able to calculate the months, not only the Beis Din!

According to the Rambam, the Talmud required a basic knowledge of astronomy (see Magid Harakiah pp. 17-21).

Determining the Calendar: Review of Kiddush Hachodesh

We began our discussion regarding Kiddush Hachodesh last year (Outline Vol. 1, # 12):

In determining the Jewish lunar month, three elements must be taken into account: The "molad" (calculated conjunction), the actual conjunction and the visual sighting of the witnesses (corresponding to the moon's first phase).

The "molad" is the conjunction between the sun and the moon, when the moon is centered between the sun and the earth, and cannot be seen. However, the Torah says that... the moon... [must be] spotted by witnesses, and this only occurs hours later, at the beginning of the moon's first phase. This stage is referred to as "chiduso shel lavana" -- the renewal of the moon's cycle.

One of our readers asked whether it is the crescent moon which determines the months, or the molad.

The Calculation in Ancient Times

Today, the calculation determines the (average) molad, not the actual crescent.

However, there is a great dispute as to how the calendar was fixed in ancient times.

Previously, we cited Rebbenu Bachaye and the Rashba, who held that the determination was not based on the observation of witnesses, but was entirely based on the calculation.

However, Magid Harakiah concludes that the two authorities -- Rebbenu Bachaye and the Rashba -- have differing views. Although both agree that a calculation is the sole determining factor, they have slightly different calculations: Rebbenu Bachaye understood that the calculated molad determines the new month. According to the Rashba, however, additional hours must be added to insure that witnesses could possibly see the moon. In other words, although it was not necessary for witnesses to see the moon, the calculation must yield the time of the moon's first phase (the crescent), rather than the molad (conjunction).

The opinion of the Rashba fits in well with another discussion of ours.

Use of Telescopes in Kiddush Hachodesh (From Outline Vol. 1,12)

Moadim Uzmanim relates a contemporary debate: The visual sighting in ancient days was performed, of course, without aid of instruments. If the power of the court were resumed today, would the witnesses use telescopes to arrive at a closer determination of the conjunction?

1. The Chazon Ish would allow the telescope.

2. The Brisker Rav, however, would not: From Rashi's commentary to the Torah the six hours between the actual molad and the sighting of the witnesses is an eternal "shiur" (legally binding measurement).

The meaning of this obscure passage [from the Brisker Rav] would seem to be the following: The sanctification of the moon is not determined by the actual molad (conjunction), but by the appearance of the moon's first phase. Therefore, the fact that by use of telescope the molad can be detected earlier, has no affect on the determination of the month. It is still several hours before the first phase of the moon is detected here on earth...

The Brisker Rav's thinking coincides with the Rashba's: the determining factor should be the first phase of the moon, not the conjunction.

Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein

Kollel of Kiryas Radin

11 Kiryas Radin

Spring Valley, NY 10977

Phone: (914) 362-5156


Good Shabbos!

Text Copyright (c) '98 Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein and Project Bereshit (Genesis), Inc.

* * *

Chodshei Hashanah (Part Fifteen)

Adar Sheni -- The Second Month of Adar (Based on the work Chodesh B'chodsho, p. 116)

The Jewish Leap Year has thirteen months, while an ordinary year has twelve months. There is a hidden connection between the twelve months, and the twelve tribes -- the twelve sons of Yaakov/Yisrael (Jacob/Israel). If so, what is the significance of thirteen months?

Yoseif (Joseph) was of such vital importance to the family that he is sometimes thought of as a tribe, sometimes as one of the Fathers. The word "Yoseif" comes from the root "to add," "to be extra." Yaakov's blessing to Yoseif was that Yoseif's own sons would be counted as Yaakov's sons, as tribes themselves (Beraishis [Bereshit (Genesis)] 48:5). Yoseif is the one who has added to the tribes, and he himself disappears, converting into a patriarch -- a father of tribes.

The two tribes emanating from Yoseif make thirteen. Thus, an ordinary year corresponds to the twelve original sons; the leap year, to thirteen tribes, counting the added sons of Yoseif. (Sefas Emes, Beis Yisrael).

Good fortune comes to the Jewish People during Adar (Talmud, Ta'anis 29b). Evil forces have no effect on someone born during the Second Month of Adar, for no sign of the zodiac corresponds to the thirteenth month. Thus, the Second of Adar is essential to Israel and its faith, for it is said: Ein Mazal B'yisrael -- Israel is not bound by the astrological signs (or by scientific laws of determinism). (Chidah)

The miracle of Purim occurred during the Second Adar (Talmud Yerushalmi Megilah, chapter 1, halachah five).

* * *

The Camp: Bamidbar (Numbers) 2:2 "The Israelites are to camp around the Tent of Meeting some distance from it, each man under his standard with the banners of his family."


The camp of Reuben                                                  The Camp of Ephraim

Reuben     46,500                      |   Bull    |                Ephraim    40,500
Simeon     59,300                      |           |                Manasseh   32,200
Gad        45,600                      |     E     |                Benjamin   35,400
           ------                      |     P     |                           ------
          151,400                      |     H     |                          108,100
                                       |     R     |                
Numbers 2:10-16                        |     A     |                Numbers 2:18-24
                                       |     I     |
                                       |     M     |
                                       |           |
                       --------------  -------------  --------------  
                       |            |  |  L E V I  |  |            |
The Camp of Levi       |   Man      |  |L  -----  L|  |    Eagle   |     
Numbers 1:44-53        |            |  |E  | * |  E|  |            |     
                   S   |   REUBEN   |  |V  |   |  V|  |    DAN     |    N
                       |            |  |I  -----  I|  |            |
                       |            |  |  L E V I  |  |            |
                       --------------  -------------  --------------
                                       |           |
                                       |   Lion    |
                                       |           |
The Camp of Judah                      |           |                 The Camp of Dan
                                       |           |
Judah     74,600                       |     J     |                 Dan        62,700
Issachar   4,400                       |           |                 Naphtali   53,400
Zebulon   57,400                       |     U     |                 Asher      41,500
          ------                       |           |                            ------
         186,400                       |     D     |                           157,600
                                       |           |                 
 Numbers 2:3-9                         |     A     |                 Numbers 2:25:31
                                       |           |
                                       |     H     |
                                       |           |
                                       |           |
                                       |           |
                                       |           |
                                       |           |
                                       |           |
                                       |           |
Yechezkel (Ezekiel) 1:4-13 I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north--an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, And in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man, But each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had the hands of a man. All four of them had faces and wings, And their wings touched one another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved. Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out upward; each had two wings, one touching the wing of another creature on either side, and two wings covering its body. Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went. The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it. The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning.

Constellation order, birth order, numerical order, and alephbet order:

Month-4k Years Greek Tribe -4K Years Hebrew Hebrew  Letter Value
Nisan Taurus Reuben Shaur Toleh Hay 5
Iyar Gemini Simeon Teomaim Shaur Vav 6
Sivan Cancer Levi Sartan Teomaim Zayin 7
Tammuz Leo Judah Arieh Sartan Het 8
Av Virgo Zebulon Bethulah Arieh Tet 9
Elul Libra Issachar Meoznaim Bethulah Yod 10
Tishrei Scorpio Dan Aqurav Meoznaim Lamed 30
Cheshvan Sagitarius Gad Qashot Aqurav Nun 50
Kislev Capricorn Asher Ghedi Qashot Samnkh 60
Tevet Aquarius Napthali Deli Ghedi Ayin 70
Shevat Pisces Joseph Dagim Deli Tzadi 90
Adar Aries Benjamin Toleh Dagim Koph 100

 Mazzorah according to Rabbi Yoel (Joel) C. Dobin:

(in Massaroth order and in birth order)

Reuben Taurus
Simeon Gemini
Levi Cancer
Judah Leo
Zebulon Virgo
Issachar Libra
Dan Scorpio
Gad Sagitarius
Asher Capricorn
Napthali Aquarius
Joseph Pices
Benjamin Aries

Dobin also says that "Magen" as in "Magen David" is a technical term meaning the "position of the stars at a fixed point in time".

Mazzorah according to A.E. Partridge141:

Reuben Aquarius Shevat
Simeon Pisces Adar
Levi Judah Leo Av
Zebulon Capricorn Tevet
Issachar Cancer Tammuz
Dan Scorpio / Eagle Heshvan
Gad Aries Nisan
Asher Libra Tishrei
Napthali Virgo Elul/Tree with goodly branches
Joseph Taurus Iyar
Benjamin Gemini Sivan
Manasseh Sagitarius Kislev

Babylonian Cuniform from before 500 B.C.:142

Month Sign Meaning
Nisan Agaru (Aries) The messenger of the new year
Iyar Temennu (Plieiades) The fountain
Alap-same (Taurus) The bull of heaven
Sivan Ri-u-but-same (Orion) The shephard
Tuame (Gemini) The Spirit of Heaven
rabuti (Gemini) The great twins
Tammuz Namgaru (Cancer) The Crab
Nagar-asurra Workman of the river bed.
Av Aru rabu (Leo) The Great Lion
Elul Siru (Spica) The ear of corn
Tishri Ziba [lacuna] (Libra) The claws
Heshvan Aqrabu (Scorpio) The Scorpion
Kislev Qesheth[bow] (Sagitarius) Winged Fire-head
Tevet Enzu (Capricorn) The Goat
Shevat Ka-d (Aquarius) The Urn
Adar Riksu (Pisces) The Cord

Zodiacal Guardians and their symbols: 1

Mazzaroth Tribe Symbol
Aries Gad Tent
Taurus Issachar Ass
Gemini Simeon/Levi Sword and Pitcher
Cancer Benjamin Wolf
Leo Ephraim Bull/ox or grapes
Virgo Asher Olive branch or cup
Libra Manasseh Palm tree or vine
Scorpio Dan Serpent or apple
Sagitarius Judah Lion Capricorn
Naphtali African deer Aquarius
Reuben Man or a Sunburst above water Pisces
Zebulon Ship Candle Box


Tribe Symbol
Gad Tents
Issachar Sun with eight stars
Simeon Castle
Benjamin Wolf
Joseph Sheaf of wheat
Asher Tree
Levi Breastplate
Judah Lion
Naphtali African deer
Reuben Branch with flowers
Zebulon Sailing Ship with oars

The Mazzaroth according to E.W. Bullinger:

Mazzaroth Tribe Scripture
Taurus Joseph(Ephraim and Manasseh) Devarim (Deuteronomy) 33:17
Gemini Benjamin Sagitarius Asher
Scorpio Dan
Capricorn Naphtali
Cancer (Ass)
Issachar Leo
Judah Virgo
Zebulon Pices
Simeon Aquarius
Reuben Aries
Gad Libra

The Mazzaroth according to the Jewish Encyclopedia:

Sun Enters
Hebrew Name Approximate Date First of Hebrew Month Approximate Hebrew Date  
Aries Toleh March 21Nisan March 27
Taurus Shor April 21 Iyar April 26
Gemini Teomim May 22 Sivan May 25
Cancer Sartan June 22 Tammuz June 24
Leo Aryeh July 23 Av July 23
Virgo Bethulah August 24 Elul August 23
Libra Moznayim September 24 Tishrei September 22
Scorpio Akrab October 24 Cheshvan October 22
Saggitarius Keshet November 23 Kislem November 19
Capricorn Ghedi December 22 Tevet December 18
Aquarius Deli January 20 Shevat January 16
Pisces Dagim February 19 Adar February 15

The Mazzaroth according to the Encyclopedia Judaica, Volume 3, page 798




























The encyclopedia Judaica also indicates that there is a relationship between the mazzaroth and the tribes that is detailed in:  

Yal., Ex.418; Yal., I Melakim (Kings) 185

The Encyclopedia Judaica indicates that "mazalot" in 2 Melakim (Kings) 23:5 indicates "planets".

II Melakim (Kings) 23:5 He did away with the pagan priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense on the high places of the towns of Judah and on those around Jerusalem--those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts.

The planets as mentioned in scripture:

Shabbtai - Saturn (Kevan - ?????) is found in:

Amos 5:26. But you shall carry Sikuth your king, and iyun, your images, your star-god, which you made for ourselves.

The planet that influences Tevet, Shabbtai (Saturn), symbolizes the power of contemplation which characterizes the Shabbat experience: Refraining from the mundane, the world of the transcendent is revealed... (Seasons of the Moon - Tevet)

Venus - (????   ???Nogah, Meleket haShamayim -???????????? the queen of heaven). This is understood from from the fact that cakes are baked for her. Among the Assyro-Babylonians the cake-offerings were called "the bread of Ishtar" (Venus).143 This usage is found in:

Yirimiyah (Jeremiah) 7:18. The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.

Jupiter - (??????Zedek Gad - ??? "fortune"). This is a supposition. It is found in:

Yeshayah (Isaiah) 65:11 "But as for you who forsake HaShem and forget my holy mountain, who spread a table for Fortune and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny,

There is some speculation that "Destiny", in the above verse refers to Venus.

Planet Names

Greek           Hebrew  Transliteration
Saturn          ?????           Shabbtai
Jupiter         ???             Zedek
Mars            ?????           Madim
Sun             ???             Chamah
Venus           ????            Nogah           
Mercury ????            Kokah
Moon            ????            Lavanah

(Sefer Yetzirah)


Saturn Poverty, destruction, internal injury, and sickness
Mars Blood, wickedness, strife, external injury, war, hatred, and jealousy
Jupiter Life, peace, good, prosperity, religious feelings, joy, wealth, and political advance
Venus Grace, love, lust, children, and fruitfulness
Mercury Wisdom, skill, writing, and language
Sun Light, darkness, work, accomplishment, travel, and exile
Moon Holds keys to heaven and earth, surrogate for good and evil

(Sefer Yetzirah)

Mars, Madim, is not to be found in the Bible. The root, though, is found144. The root is Edom:

123 'Edom, ed-ome'; or (fully) 'Edowm, edome'; from 122; red [see Gen. 25:25]; Edom, the elder twin-brother of Jacob; hence the region (Idumaea) occupied by him:-Edom, Edomites, Idumea.

This word means: (very) red or (very) mad. The red connection with Mars is obvious. The use of this root in the understanding of "mars" is in:

Yeshayah (Isaiah) 63:1-6 Who [is] this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this [that is] glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore [art thou] red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people [there was] none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance [is] in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and [there was] none to help; and I wondered that [there was] none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.

Dobin says: "Mars is the planet of intense energy, and the word takes it's meaning from astrological understanding of the nature of the planet, Mars. Both intensity of action and redness are implied in the Hebrew name of the planet. Mars was known to be the planet which causes strife and war..."

Dobin's translations:
Chavakkuk (Habakkuk) 3:11 Sun and moon stood still in the heavens at the glint of your flying arrows, at the lightning of your flashing spear.

Should be:
Chavakkuk (Habakkuk) 3:11 The sun and the moon stand still in their habitation; Thine arrows go towards the Sun, Thy glittering spear towards the Moon.

Chavakkuk (Habakkuk) 3:2-4 HaShem, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, HaShem. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. <Selah> His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth. His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden.

Should be translated:

Chavakkuk (Habakkuk) 3:2-4 O Lord, I have heard the report of Thee, and am afraid; O Lord, Thy work has its life in the midst (or by means of) of the years, It shall be known by means of the years. God cometh from (the direction of) Capricorn-Aquarius, And the Holy One (from the direction of) Mount Paran. Selah. And the Moon (or Venus), like the sun, will be rays at His side, and therein will lie the secret of His power.

Bamidbar (Numbers) 24:17 "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the sons of Sheth.

Should be translated (TaNaKh):

Bamidbar (Numbers) 24:17 What I see for them is not yet, What I behold will not be soon; A star rises from Jacob, a meteor comes forth from Israel, It smashes the brow of Moab, The foundation of all the children of Seth.

                * * *

Bereshit (Genesis) 11:27-32 This is the account of Terah. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth. Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram's wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor's wife was Milcah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milcah and Iscah. Now Sarai was barren; she had no children. Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there. Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Haran.

"Ur of the Chaldeans" literally means "Light of the Astrologers".

* * *

12 signifies "perfection of government".

Jacob had twelve sons who became the twelve tribes.                             Bereshit (Genesis) 35:22-26
There were twelve apostles.     Matityahu (Matthew) 10:1-4
Ishmael was the father of twelve rulers.                               Bereshit (Genesis) 17:20
There were twelve springs at Elim.                                Shemot (Exodus) 15:27
There were twelve stones in the breastplate of the High Priest.                         Shemot (Exodus) 28:21
There were twelve loaves of show bread.
There were twelve spies.        Devarim (Deuteronomy) 1:23
Solomon had twelve district governors.                                1 Melakim (Kings) 4:7


Bereshit (Genesis) 1:14-19 And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, And let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. God made two great lights--the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, To govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the fourth day.


226 'owth, oth; prob. from 225 (in the sense of appearing); a single (lit. or fig.), as a flag, beacon, monument, omen, prodigy, evidence, etc.:- mark, miracle, (en-) sign, token.

------------- Dictionary Trace ---------------

225 'uwth, ooth; a prim. root; prop. to come, i.e. (impl.) to assent:- consent.

Lets look at all of the way this word is used in scripture:

Bereshit (Genesis) 4:9-16 Then HaShem said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?" HaShem said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth." Cain said to HaShem, "My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me." But HaShem said to him, "Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over." Then HaShem put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from HaShem'S presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

Shemot (Exodus) 4:6-9 Then HaShem said, "Put your hand inside your cloak." So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was leprous, like snow. "Now put it back into your cloak," he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh. Then HaShem said, "If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first miraculous sign, they may believe the second. But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground."

Shemot (Exodus) 8:20-23 Then HaShem said to Moses, "Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he goes to the water and say to him, 'This is what HaShem says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. If you do not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies on you and your officials, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians will be full of flies, and even the ground where they are. "'But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, HaShem, am in this land. I will make a distinction between my people and your people. This miraculous sign will occur tomorrow.'"

Shemot (Exodus) 13:5-10 When HaShem brings you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Jebusites--the land he swore to your forefathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey--you are to observe this ceremony in this month: For seven days eat bread made without yeast and on the seventh day hold a festival to HaShem. Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders. On that day tell your son, 'I do this because of what HaShem did for me when I came out of Egypt.' This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that the law of HaShem is to be on your lips. For HaShem brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand. You must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year.

Shemot (Exodus) 31:12-17 Then HaShem said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, 'You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am HaShem, who makes you holy. "'Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people. For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to HaShem. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days HaShem made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.'"

Bamidbar (Numbers) 2:2 "The Israelites are to camp around the Tent of Meeting some distance from it, each man under his standard with the banners of his family."

Bamidbar (Numbers) 14:20-24 HaShem replied, "I have forgiven them, as you asked. Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of HaShem fills the whole earth, Not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times-- Not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.

Bamidbar (Numbers) 16:35-40 And fire came out from HaShem and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense. HaShem said to Moses, "Tell Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, to take the censers out of the smoldering remains and scatter the coals some distance away, for the censers are holy-- The censers of the men who sinned at the cost of their lives. Hammer the censers into sheets to overlay the altar, for they were presented before HaShem and have become holy. Let them be a sign to the Israelites." So Eleazar the priest collected the bronze censers brought by those who had been burned up, and he had them hammered out to overlay the altar, As HaShem directed him through Moses. This was to remind the Israelites that no one except a descendant of Aaron should come to burn incense before HaShem, or he would become like Korah and his followers.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6:4-9 Hear, O Israel: HaShem our God, HaShem is one. Love HaShem your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6:20-23 In the future, when your son asks you, "What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws HaShem our God has commanded you?" Tell him: "We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but HaShem brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Before our eyes HaShem sent miraculous signs and wonders--great and terrible--upon Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household. But he brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land that he promised on oath to our forefathers...Shemot (Exodus) 10:21-23 Then HaShem said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt--darkness that can be felt." So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 11:1-7 Love HaShem your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of HaShem your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm; The signs he performed and the things he did in the heart of Egypt, both to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his whole country; What he did to the Egyptian army, to its horses and chariots, how he overwhelmed them with the waters of the Red Sea as they were pursuing you, and how HaShem brought lasting ruin on them. It was not your children who saw what he did for you in the desert until you arrived at this place, And what he did to Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab the Reubenite, when the earth opened its mouth right in the middle of all Israel and swallowed them up with their households, their tents and every living thing that belonged to them. But it was your own eyes that saw all these great things HaShem has done.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 11:16-21 Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. Then HaShem'S anger will burn against you, and he will shut the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land HaShem is giving you. Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, So that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that HaShem swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 12:29 - 13:4 HaShem your God will cut off before you the nations you are about to invade and dispossess. But when you have driven them out and settled in their land, And after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, "How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same." You must not worship HaShem your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things HaShem hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods. See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it. If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, And if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," You must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. HaShem your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is HaShem your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 28:45-47 All these curses will come upon you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey HaShem your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you. They will be a sign and a wonder to you and your descendants forever. Because you did not serve HaShem your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity.

Tehillim (Psalms) 74:1-4 {A <maskil> of Asaph.} Why have you rejected us forever, O God? Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture? Remember the people you purchased of old, the tribe of your inheritance, whom you redeemed--Mount Zion, where you dwelt. Turn your steps toward these everlasting ruins, all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary. Your foes roared in the place where you met with us; they set up their standards as signs.

II Melakim (Kings) 20:5-11 "Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people, 'This is what HaShem, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of HaShem. I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.'" Then Yeshayah (Isaiah) said, "Prepare a poultice of figs." They did so and applied it to the boil, and he recovered. Hezekiah had asked Yeshayah (Isaiah), "What will be the sign that HaShem will heal me and that I will go up to the temple of HaShem on the third day from now?" Yeshayah (Isaiah) answered, "This is HaShem'S sign to you that HaShem will do what he has promised: Shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or shall it go back ten steps?" "It is a simple matter for the shadow to go forward ten steps," said Hezekiah. "Rather, have it go back ten steps." Then the prophet Yeshayah (Isaiah) called upon HaShem, and HaShem made the shadow go back the ten steps it had gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.

Yirimiyah (Jeremiah) 10:1-2 Hear what HaShem says to you, O house of Israel. This is what HaShem says: "Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them.

Tehillim (Psalms) 65:1-9 {For the director of music. A psalm of David. A song.} Praise awaits you, O God, in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled. O you who hear prayer, to you all men will come. When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions. Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple. You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas, Who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength, Who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations. Those living far away fear your wonders; where morning dawns and evening fades you call forth songs of joy. You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it.

There are many more signs in the Prophets, but, these should serve as representative examples.

Signs cause us to remember what God has said...

The Encyclopedia Judaica indicates that 1 Divrei HaYamim (Chronicles) 12:33 indicates that the tribe of Issachar were the astronomers of Israel:

1 Divrei HaYamim (Chronicles) 12:33 of the Issacharites, men who knew how to interpret the signs of the times, to determine how Israel should act; their chiefs were 200, and all their kinsmen followed them;145

The blesssing of Bereshit (Genesis) 24:1 is interpreted as the gift of astronomy - Tosefta Kid. 5:17.

Bereshit (Genesis) 24:1 Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and HaShem had blessed him in every way.

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7794 showr, shore; from 7788; a bullock (as a traveller):-bull (-ock), cow, ox, wall [by mistake for 7791].

----------------- Dictionary Trace ---------------------

7788 shuwr, shoor; a prim. root; prop. to turn, i.e. travel about (as a harlot or a merchant):-go, sing. See also 7891.

7791 shuwr, shoor; from 7788; a wall (as going about):-wall.


8380 ta'owm, taw-ome'; or ta'om, taw-ome'; from 8382; a twin (in plur. only), lit. or fig.:-twins.


738 'ariy, ar-ee'; or (prol.) 'aryeh, ar-yay'; from 717 (in the sense of violence); a lion:-(young) lion, + pierce [from the marg.].


1330 bethuwlah, beth-oo-law'; fem. pass. part. of an unused root mean. to separate; a virgin (from her privacy); sometimes (by continuation) a bride; also (fig.) a city or state:-maid, virgin.



Dr. Ernest L. Martin

And at this time, when he is taken forward, Yochanan (John), into this Day of the Lord, he hears this voice like a trumpet... "...And [I] turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks (as it is in the King Yaaqov (James))..."

It means seven "lamps." It means that he saw seven lamps all pinched together in one, and we call it today the "menorah," that is, that's the Hebrew name for this, and it's a Hebrew symbol because it was in the temple that they had in the Holy Place, just to the south of the altar of golden incense. They had positioned there, the seven lamps in the temple. Also in the tabernacle, which was made by Moses, also that was made by Solomon, and that also which was made and reconstructed by Herod in the time of Jesus.

Now we find that Josephus described the menorah, or the seven lamp stands, and I might say right at the very beginning here, he said that those seven lamps represented, among other things, the seven wandering stars, the seven planets. Because that portion of the temple in which these seven lights were housed, represented the external heavens to us. Not the heavens where the birds fly, and the clouds are, but the heavens where the sun happens to be, the moon, and the planets, and the stars. And the next compartment of the temple was the Holy of Holies. That's the farthest to the west, and there was a curtain separating that from this area here, and that's the third heaven, that's God's throne. That's beyond the physical heaven.

But Josephus said that these seven lamps in the temple represented, amongst other things, the seven planets, including the moon, the sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter, and of course, there would be Saturn. Now the Earth is not included in here, because you see the Earth is from this vantage point you're seeing these things, these seven.

Now there are more planets than that that have been discovered in later times, but the only ones that could be seen by the naked eye back at this time were those seven that I just gave you, and they were known as wandering stars.

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Now it's up to you and me to properly interpret these Scriptures so that you and I might be able to understand them. And as I've shown in the last few years, and particularly last year in September of 1993, I gave some information to show that these seven ekklesias here, and the messages to them, may begin to have a relevance starting with the year 2000 AD, and with a particular date in 2000 AD. It homes in on May the 5th, through the 6th, of the year 2000 AD, and that may begin, at that time -- now I'm not sure, I'm not a prophet, but I'm just giving you what is in the heavens, and it's right there, and the astronomers know it's happening, and going to happen. And it occurs very near a set of stars in the heaven, and right here we've been talking about stars, which are seven in number. And not only do these seven stars represent the seven wandering stars, but there's also a group of seven stars, which is in the constellation of Taurus that are very important on this, and we're going to talk about this in the "B" section. And what we need to do is to understand the modern relevance of these events.

May 6, 2000 - Iyar 2, 5760

Now these seven churches in closing. In May 5, 2000 AD, about five and a half years from now, the sun, the moon, and the other planets are coming together like on the menorah, right in the middle of Aries and Taurus, all together in a massing of the planets, which are right next to Pleiades, the Seven Sisters, which anciently could be connected with these seven churches here. And May 5th, of 2000 AD, we find these planets coming together as they have existed in the first century, on the menorah, just to the south of the altar of golden incense, that Josephus said represented the planets, you'll find them coming together on May 5th, 2000 AD. Could that be -- and I put it as a question -- the beginning of the end for this period of time? Could that be the time we ought to look for some signs to occur that these seven churches, and these angels, these seven spirits and the messages to them, coming to fruition, and beginning at that time? We should look to the heavens. But more important than that, look to the Bible. Compare the Scripture with what He has in the astronomy for the future, and I think we're going to see some things that are going to be most interesting for this world. Keep your eyes on that Holy Scripture, and upon God, because some exciting times are just on the horizon to us today.

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Josephus gives us more insight into this massing of the planets. In Antiquities of the Jews, chapter VII:7 he writes:

Now here one may wonder at the ill-will which men bear to us, and which they profess to bear on account of our despising that Diety which they pretend to honour; for if any one do but consider the fabric of the tabernacle, and take a view of the garments of the high priest, and of those vessels which we make use of in our sacred ministration, he will find that our legislator was a divine man, and that we are unjustly reproached by others: for if any one do without prejudice, and with judgement, look upon these things, he will find that they were every one made in way of imitation and representation of the universe. When Moses distinguished the tabernacle into three parts, and allowed two of them to the priests, as a place accessible and common, he denoted the land and the sea, these being of general access to all; but he set apart the third division for God, because heaven is inaccessible to men. And when he ordered twelve loaves to be set on the table, he denoted the year, as distinguished into so many months. By branching out the candlestick into seventy parts, he secretly intimated the decani, or seventy divisions of the planets; and as to the seven lamps upon the candlesticks, they referred to the course of the planets, of which that is the number. The veils, too, which were composed of four things, they declared the four elements; for the fine linen was proper to signify the earth, because the flax grows out of the earth; the purple signified the sea, because that color is dyed by the blood of a sea shell-fish; the blue is to signify the air; and the scarlet will naturally be an indication of fire. Now the vestment of the high priest being made of linen, signified the earth; the blue denoted the sky , being like lightning in it's pomegranates, and in the noise of the bells resembling thunder. And for the ephod, it showed that God had made the universe of four [elements]; and for the gold interwoven, I suppose it related to the splendor by which all things are enlightened. He also appointed the breastplate to be placed in the middle of the ephod, to resemble the earth, for that has the very middle place of the world. And the girdle which encompassed the high priest round, signified the ocean, for that goes around about and includes the universe. Each of the sardonyxes declare to us the sun and the moon; those, I mean, that were in the nature of buttons on the high priest's shoulders. And for the twelve stones, whether we understand by them the months, or whether we understand the like number of the signs of that circle which the Greeks call the Zodiac, we shall not be mistaken in their meaning. And for the mitre, which was of blue color, it seems to me to mean heaven; for how otherwise could the name of God be inscribed upon it? That it was also illustrated with a crown, and that of gold also, is because of that splendour with which God is pleased. Let this explication suffice at present, since the course of my narration will often, and on many occasions, afford me the opportunity of enlarging upon the virtue of our legislator.

Gematria of the Week


"Twelve constellations have I created in the firmament, and for each constellation I have created thirty hosts, and for each host I have created thirty legions, and for each legion I have created thirty cohorts, and for each cohort I have created thirty maniples, and for each maniple I have created thirty camps, and to each camp I have attached three hundred and sixty five thousands of myriads of stars ..." (Tractate Berachos 32a) This passage of the Talmud is mysterious. Is this the number of stars in the Universe? The number of stars stated in the Talmud is 1.06434 X 10^18. The number of stars in the Universe estimated by modern science in somewhere between 10^18 and 10^20.

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When the cosmographer Rabbi David Gans showed to Tycho Brahe the account in tractate Pesachim of how the sages of Jerusalem yielded to the scholars of Alexandria as to whether the galgalim move and the mazalot are stationary, or v.v., he exclaimed: "Those sages were wrong to submit to the Greeks..." (Nechmad V'Nayim 25). All research confirms the Biblical-Tychonic schema, with the planets of the solar system (except the Earth, which is not a "planet", the word meaning a "wanderer") in epicyclic retinue about the sun, and this coherent unit, plus the whole steller array-- space, and everything in it-- orbiting the Earth and subordinate to it (see Maharal's Be'er HaGola 6)... The authority of Scripture and our sages support the geocentric paradigm (e.g. Rambam's M.T., Y.H. 3; YF: but we don't learn science from Torah, per Rambam & Co.)...

Marx and Darwin openly acknowledged their gratitude to Copernicus, w/o whom their obnoxious theories would never have gotten off the ground to hijack human minds. Historians have shown that many social woes today are directly attributable to the rise of Copernican heliocentrism and relativistic acentrism: i.e., Biblical criticism, evolution (!!-- Rav Kook approved), Nietszche, Freudian psychology (!-- Rav J. Soloveichik appreciated Freud's genius), communism, moral relativism, Nazism, atheism, existentialism, humanism (!!!-- cf. The Mussar Movement), hedonism, anarchism and despair. No wonder Ma'aseh Tuviya referred to Nicholas Copernicus as the `first born of Satan'. M.T. is a 1707 encyclopedia of science compiled by Dr. Tobias Cohn of Metz, one of the greatest physicians of his time; his father fled there from the Polish Chmielnicki Cossacks; he died in Jerusalem about 1729, after serving as physician to Turkish Sultan Ahmad III. He openly disavows supernatural agencies, yet occasionally concedes that certain maladies may be attributable to magical and diabolical influences

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THE WEEKLY PUBLICATION FOR EVERY JEWISH PERSON Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.
Feb 26, 1992 Parshas - Trumah 5 Adar 5753

Good ole Charles Osgood on CBS radio each morning brought this little tidbit of information to his listeners' attention: You can fax a prayer, request, plea to an organization in the Holy Land that will take your message to the Western Wall--the kotel--in Jerusalem. For the same money they will also stick it into the crevices of the stones at the wall. Dubbed by Osgood as a "direct fax to G-d" the novel entrepreneurial, yet spiritual endeavor makes one stop and contemplate the fax machine, or any high-tech mechanism for that matter! Today, fax machines are being used to relay prayers to the Wall and Jewish educational material to eager students. Computer software is available that allows children to play Jewish educational computer games or that makes it easier to keep track of some of the more detailed Jewish marriage laws. Satellites are used to hook up Jews and non-Jews all over the world to celebrate Chanuka internationally. OCR scanners are simplifying and expediting the reprinting of ancient scholarly Jewish texts. Answering machines and telephones bring listeners dozens of mini-classes on subjects such as the weekly Torah portion, Talmud, Jewish law and Moshiach as well as Shabbat candle-lighting times around the world or the Jewish calendar date of birthdays, yartzeits and anniversaries.* And beepers are, as many have read in The New York Times... well that's a whole other article. Our Sages describe this phenomenon aptly in a short explanation about why gold exists. They taught that, though in general the world would not use gold properly, it exists because it was necessary for use in the Holy Temple. When we consider this comment from our Sages we get a whole new perspective to our high-tech age. Look around you and you can easily see how everything can potentially be used, or is already being used, for a higher purpose than its original, mundane intent. Look around you, open your eyes, see everything for what it truly is--or can be. *For a weekly mini-class about Moshiach dial 1-800-4-MOSHIACH. For a daily lesson call (718) 953-6168.

****************************************LIVING WITH THE TIMES THE WEEKLY TORAH PORTION ****************************************

This week's Torah reading, Teruma, opens with G-d's command to the Jews to donate to the Sanctuary: "And you shall give an, silver, and brass." At first glance it seems odd that G-d should list gold first. Would it not have been more appropriate to begin with brass, an item that could be given freely by all, and then work up to the silver and gold, which only wealthy Jews could afford to donate? Although we know that when the Jewish people left Egypt they were inundated with gifts by the Egyptians anxious for them to leave, and that the Jews amassed great wealth during the splitting of the Red Sea, there were always differences in personal wealth between them. In fact, we find that in actuality, much more brass and silver were donated to the Sanctuary than gold. Why then is gold mentioned first? Furthermore, since the Sanctuary was intended to establish a dwelling for G-d in this world, would it not have made more sense for it to be fashioned only through the service of the most elevated and sophisticated among the Jews? In reality, however, every single Jew, without exception, was allowed to contribute to its erection. By way of explanation, Chasidic philosophy teaches that a Jew shares an intrinsic connection to gold. Every Jew, as he exists within the material world, is "G-d's only son," and as such, is by nature rich. The Jew has the potential to give generously, and to give gold. The very Hebrew word for "gold"--zahav--reflects a Jew's tendency to give to others, for our Sages interpret this word as an acronym for the phrase, "He who gives while healthy," that is, a person who gives not to ward off any unfavorable influences, but as a natural expression of his inner self. To emphasize this attribute, the first item asked of the Jewish people was gold. A Jew is connected to his spiritual source, even within the context of the material world. He is in essence rich, and his inner spiritual wealth should be reflected in actual material wealth. If this is not openly apparent, it is only because G-d desires that the Jew reveal this wealth through his own efforts, that he transform the darkness into light. This, in turn, will draw down an abundance of Divine blessing into the world. This is especially true in the present time, when the Jewish people have completed all the spiritual tasks demanded of them, and all that is necessary is to actually accept Moshiach. At this time, each and every member of the present generation, the last generation of exile and the first generation of Redemption, is surely worthy of abundant material wealth, which, as Maimonides explains, enables a Jew to devote himself to the study of Torah and the observance of mitzvot in a more complete manner, and to give more charity. This will lead to the construction of the Third Holy Temple, towards which every Jewish man, woman and child will donate, speedily in our days. Adapted from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, shlita.

****************************************SLICE OF LIFE ****************************************

SPIRITED CONFERENCE CALL Rabbis Leible Morrison and Israel Rubin by Paul Grondahl It is 6:25 a.m. on a Friday, an hour when others might still be sleeping or groggily shuffling toward a hot shower. But for the participants of Talmudic Telephone, it's a spiritual wake-up call they seek. Today's discussion: a metaphorical examination of the Israelites as flexible reeds vs. rigid trees. On the receiving end of Rabbi Israel Rubin's explication of the 2,000-year-old code of Jewish law and lore is a handful of men who forgo extra shut-eye to study the Talmud before leaving for work. They range in age from their 20's to 60's and stretch from Albany to Saratoga, but they're linked by conference call and sound as if they're all in the same living room, kibitzing. Participants include a Schenectady architect, a mathematics graduate student in Saratoga, a doctor and a lawyer in Albany, a food inspector in Columbia County and a researcher for General Electric Co. who lives in Troy. The Talmudic Telephone hook up is conducted both at 6:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. A total of about two dozen individuals take part. "We used to have our Talmud class meeting in one place, but as people got more spread out and more and more busy, it became very hard to get everyone together at the same place and the same time," Rubin says. And so Talmudic Telephone came to pass. "We're applying modem technology to the study of a 2,000-year-old text," says Ruvain Kudan of Albany, an associate system planner with the state Public Service Commission who has participated in the phone network since its inception in June. "Since the technology exists, why not use it to further our spiritual growth?" The Talmudic Telephone concept is believed to be a first for New York, perhaps the nation. Rubin, a rabbi who is the executive director of Chabad Outreach Centers of the Capital District, knows of taped Talmud phone lines and there are 900-number Jewish teaching services. "But it's not the same thing," Rubin says. "I think we're the only one where there is interaction, questions, debate and socializing." Participants tap into Talmudic Telephone by purchasing a simple teleconference option on their phone service that costs a few dollars a month. As many as a dozen people can listen in to the same discussion simultaneously. The hookup is made by one caller dialing the next in a form of telephone tag. Rubin is a lively teacher, making the ancient Talmud text come alive. This Friday morning session begins with a mention of a bullrush. "What's a bullrush?" someone asks. "It's like a reed, a plant that grows on the edge of a pond," Rubin replies, before getting back to the Hebrew in his flowing, mesmerizing reading style. Trees are tall and strong and are useful in the making of all manner of implements, someone interjects. But the bullrushes are flexible and will bend and snap back, counters another student, whereas the tree will break and fall to the ground. Plus, a reed is hollow and can be filled with ink and used to write the Torah. "So, the bullrush could really be a blessing in disguise?" Morrison asks in summation. "Exactly," Rubin says. "Turn the page now," the rabbi continues. A faint shuffling of pages is heard as the students follow along with their own Talmud. Later, Rubin explains that the Talmud is written in a Hebrew-Aramaic hybrid. The Talmud is essentially the oral Jewish law committed to prose, and was written 2,000 years ago in what today is Iraq, where Aramaic was spoken. Much of the Talmud is technical and legalistic, but there also are sections that deal with everything from history to ethics to meteorology. The Talmud is 2,100 pages long and the phone group covers on average 11/2 pages per week. When they complete a tractate, they throw a communal siyum, or party. "This is having a ripple effect by bringing more people into the study of Talmud and making it part of a community celebration," Rubin says. The Talmud appeals to a similar sense of discipline and detail that has made Matityahu (Matthew) Granovetter of Ballston Lake a national champion bridge player and, beginning a few weeks ago, a member of the Talmudic Telephone crew. "We got interested in Judaism through bridge," says Granovetter, whose wife, Pamela, converted to Judaism along with their two children. "They're both about discussion and arguing and intellectual detective work. They're both fun, too." Fun, but strict, stresses Granovetter, who has recently become observant of Jewish law. "When my wife and I teach bridge, we say the only way to learn the game is to go by the book," Granovetter says. "If you start breaking the rules at the beginning, your bridge game just flounders. We take the same approach to Judaism. The only way to learn it properly is to go by the book." Granovetter, a professional bridge player, also co-publishes with his wife a magazine called Bridge Today and self-publishes murder mysteries with a bridge subplot. Back to fact instead of fiction, "I'm turning the page," Rubin says and the others follow suit. The discussion about reeds vs. trees comes to its conclusion and Rubin spends a few moments discussing Maimonides' laws concerning the Messianic Era. Then, a man named Zev asks participants for a moment's silence to read from "From Day to Day"--pithy teachings compiled by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. "One who is lowly and crass does not understand his lowliness and crassness." Says Granovetter, "I like that lesson in humility. I'm going to use it in my bridge magazine." Reprinted from The Times Union.

****************************************WHAT'S NEW ****************************************

MIRACLE BABY An unusual birth certificate is in the possession of a family in Jerusalem, Israel. When the expectant mother was informed by the doctors that she would need to have a Caesarian she refused. She explained that she had received a blessing from the Rebbe for a regular delivery and that everything would go well. While the doctors were away conferring she gave birth without any complications. The birth certificate (pictured), dated 11/13/92, from Sha'arei Tzedek Hospital, has a special note written on it by the doctors which translates: "One should note that the delivery was regular (without a Caesarian operation) in the merit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe."


INSIGHTS ****************************************

WITH A LITTLE EFFORT From a letter of the Lubavitcher Rebbe The merit of your observance of our sacred traditions--which I was gratified to note in your letter--will surely stand you and yours in good stead in all of the above, including your continued advancement in all matters of Torah and mitzvot. For, although this is a "must" for its own sake, in compliance with G-d's Will, this is also the "channel and vessel" to receive additional Divine blessings in all needs, both material and spiritual. The above is a particularly timely message now that we are about to celebrate Purim, the highlight of which is the reading of the Megila evening and morning. It is noteworthy and significant that although--as the Megila tells us--both Mordechai and Esther were instrumental in bringing about the miracle of Purim and saving our people, the Megila is not named after both of them jointly, nor after Esther and Mordechai in that order, but solely after Esther--"Megilat Esther." Here is a pointedly emphatic message for every Jewish woman about her unique role in Jewish life. To be sure, no one can compare to the stature of Queen Esther, but what is emphasized is the extraordinary potential of every loyal Jewish daughter to shape the future of her family, and the far-reaching consequences implicit for her environment and even for the entire Jewish people. If this seems farfetched and mystical, the following episode will illustrate what even a comparatively small effort can accomplish. You may have heard that many of our senior Lubavitch students volunteer their summer vacations to travel to distant places in order to reach out to fellow-Jews in need of encouragement in strengthening their identity with, and commitment to, our people and the Torah way. In the course of this program it so happened that one of the students visited a small, isolated town where he found only a few Jewish families, and, as he later reported, he was disappointed to have accomplished nothing there. But a number of months later, our Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch, which sponsors this program, received a letter from one of the families in that town. The writer, a woman, related that one summer day she happened to be standing by her front window when she saw a bearded young man, wearing a dark hat, his tzitzit showing, approaching her door. She confessed that when she admitted the young man and learned of the purpose of his visit, she was not responsive, for she and her family were not prepared at that moment to change their life style. Yet for a long time after that encounter, the appearance of the young man haunted her. He reminded her of her grandfather and had refreshed her memories of the beautiful Jewish life she had seen in her grandparents' home, though the material circumstances were incomparably more modest than she had come to know in her married life. Finally--the letter went on--she decided to make the change. She made her home kosher, and the family began to observe Shabbat and Yom Tov, and she began to give her children a Jewish education. Since then her home was filled with such contentment and serenity that she decided to write to the Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch and express her profound gratitude. Now, if all that was the result of a brief encounter with that young man, though he was unaware of this lasting impact, how much more can be achieved by an American Jewish family, whose influence is not limited to a few minutes of conversation, but serves as a shining example of the kind of daily life and conduct that should be the privilege and blessing of every Jewish family. Needless to say, if in maintaining the proper Jewish standards there may be some difficulties to overcome (many of which may even be more imaginary than real), surely such difficulties should be of no significance in comparison to the infinite benefits. Moreover, the effort required is a personal one, while the benefits are for the many.

****************************************CUSTOMS ****************************************

Who was the Baal Shem Tov? The man who was to be known as the Baal Shem Tov, the Master of the Good Name, was born Israel, the son of Eliezer and Sarah on Elul 18, 1698. His teachings, which stressed the worth of every Jew in the eyes of G-d, lifted the depressed spiritual state of the Jews of his time and encouraged them in their spiritual growth. He also attracted some of the greatest spiritual giants of his age to his doctrine of Chasidut. Two of his main principles are: to love every Jew regardless of his status; and everything that happens in the world is a result of Divine Providence.


IT HAPPENED ONCE ****************************************

Pharaoh's chief ministers had been hurriedly summoned to the royal court. They sat and listened intently as the king related his terrifying dream. In it he was sitting on his throne and an old man approached holding a huge scale in one hand. As Pharaoh watched he hung the scale in front of the monarch, reached out and seized all the nobles of the court, bound them, and placed them on one side of the scale. Then he took a little white lamb and laid it on the other side. To Pharaoh's surprise the little lamb was able to tip the scale in its favor. Pharaoh awoke in a panic, wondering what evil this strange dream foretold for him and his people. Pharaoh's advisors were all famous men, and offered their differing opinions. Finally it was Bilaam whose advice was accepted. "This dream is telling you that a Jewish child will destroy Egypt, Your Majesty," he said. "I will tell you how to destroy them. Fire and swords have been tried, but their G-d saved Avraham from the fiery furnace and Yitzhak from his father's knife. The only weapon which will succeed is water. I suggest that you take all their newborn baby boys and throw them into the Nile. Then you will be assured that this terrible prophecy will never come true." All the Children of Israel were in turmoil. Pharaoh's horrible decree had been announced throughout Egypt. The sound of wailing women and children echoed through the encampments, and the men were filled with despair. Soldiers appeared without warning and tore tiny babies from the arms of their grief-stricken mothers. News of the decree reached the leader of the generation, Amram, and he pondered long and hard on what tactic to adopt. Amram, the leader of the tribe of Levi was universally held in great esteem; his word would be followed by everyone. Finally, with a heavy heart, he spoke: "I have decided for the good of the people to divorce my wife." The rest of the men followed suit and separated from their wives. Only Amram's little daughter, Miriam, objected to his decision. "Father, Pharaoh is sentencing only the boys to death, but you have sentenced the girls as well." Miriam's argument prevailed. Amram remarried his wife, as did the other men. On the 7th of Adar Yocheved bore a son and named him Yekutiel. He was an unusual child from the start. He was born circumcised, and with his birth, the house filled with a holy light. Amram and Yocheved were sure that he was the redeemer of the Jews that Pharaoh so feared. Yocheved managed to outsmart the Egyptian soldiers for the first three months, but as time went on it became more difficult. Seeing it was futile, Yocheved built a water-tight container for the baby. She carried it to the Nile and put it near the shore, leaving Miriam to watch the infant. Yocheved hoped that with her baby in the river, the astrological signs would change to indicate that the redeemer had perished. That is exactly what happened. Pharaoh's astrologers notified him that the child had drowned. At once his decree was nullified. The Jewish babies were safe. That day Batya, Pharaoh's daughter, came with her maids near the shore. Looking out into the distance, she noticed a little basket floating in the river. "Get me that basket," she instructed her maids, but they suspected it was a Jew, and were afraid to violate her father's will. Batya tried to reach it herself, but couldn't. She was about to give up when G-d caused the baby to cry and Batya's heart was filled with mercy. She reached out her arm and a miracle occurred: her arm lengthened and she was able to grasp the basket. When she opened it, a light shone from the child. "This must be a holy child," she thought. She decided to keep him and prophetically called him Moshe--"he who draws out," signifying that just as he was drawn out of the water, so would he draw out the Jews from their servitude. G-d was pleased and responded: "Because you adopted a child that was not your own and called him your son, I will call you My daughter--Batya--the daughter of G-d." She was further honored by her "son" being known by the name she gave him. Batya brought many Egyptian women to the palace to care for her new baby, but Moshe, who was destined to speak face-to-face with G-d, refused to nurse from any of them. Miriam quickly recommended her mother, and so, G-d rewarded Yocheved by returning her beloved child to her care for the first two years of his life. After that she brought Moshe to the palace. Little Moshe was a great favorite at court. Even Pharaoh enjoyed the charming little boy. Then, one day in the presence of the royal family and their ministers the child rose, took the crown from Pharaoh's head and set it on his own. Shock filled the silenced room. Bilaam spoke up once again, "This child will grow up to be a traitor!" he cried. But Pharaoh was unwilling to condemn his favorite so quickly. Instead, he agreed to an experiment. A burning coal and a diamond would be set before the child. If he seized the diamond, it would be clear that he had intelligent intent. If he took the coal, it would prove he was like any other child, drawn to glittering objects. Moshe reached toward the diamond, but an angel caused him to take the coal instead. He put the glowing object to his mouth, and was burned. After that, he never again spoke clearly. Moshe's speech impediment served a holy purpose. For when he spoke as the man, Moshe's speech was difficult to understand, but when he transmitted G-d's word, his speech was com-pletely clear, leaving no doubt that he was speaking in a prophetic state.

****************************************THOUGHTS THAT COUNT ****************************************

And they shall take for Me an offering (Ex. 25:2) The word "offering" has two meanings: something set aside for a special purpose and that which is picked up and raised. An offering made to G-d achieves both of these objectives. Setting aside one's money to do a mitzva elevates the actual physical object that is bought with that money, transforming the material into holiness, as it says in Tanya: "G-d gives man corporeality in order to transform it into spirituality." (Likutei Sichot) Of a talent of pure gold shall it be made (Ex. 25:39) Man's purpose in life is to illuminate his surroundings with the light of Torah and mitzvot. This responsibility holds true no matter what the individual's circumstances or mood may be. The numerical equivalent of the Hebrew word for talent, "kikar," is 140--the same as the numerical equivalent of "mar" (bitter), and "ram" (lofty). No matter what our situation, our task remains the same. (Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe) Two and one-half cubits its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height (Ex. 25:10) The ark was measured in fractions, not whole numbers, teaching us that to achieve spiritual growth, one must first "break down" and shatter one's negative characteristics and bad habits. (Sefer Hamamarim U'Kuntreisim)

****************************************A THOUGHT ABOUT MOSHIACH

****************************************Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld regularly included in his evening discourse a discussion about yearning for Moshiach's coming. A student mentioned the saying of our Sages that Moshiach will only come b'hesech hada'at--when not expected. Rabbi Sonnenfeld responded, "Unfortunately, in spite of my discourses, there is still hesech hada'at when it comes to Moshiach. As we see clearly, if a trustworthy person informed you that Moshiach is in Jerusalem, wouldn't we hesitate, if even for a moment, before running to greet him? ****************************************Published by Lubavitch Youth Organization 770 Eastern Parkway Brooklyn NY 11213 (718) 953-1000, 778-6000 Rabbi Dovid Raskin - Chairman Rabbi Shmuel Butman - Director Rabbi Kasriel Kastel - Program Director Rabbi Shlomo Friedman - Administrator Yehudis Cohen - Editor Esther Altmann, Mordechai Staiman - Copy Editors Rabbi B. Bell, Basha Majerczyk - Contributing Editor Rabbi Nissen Mangel - Chairman Editorial Committee Rabbi Zalman I. Posner - Consultant All contents (c) 1991 by L.Y.O. ISSN 1050-0480 Permission is granted for BBS distribution, provided no changes are made and that it be complete with all credits to L.Y.O. and L'Chaim BBS. The name of this publication is an acronym for L'zecher Chaya Mushka ****************************************

Mazzaroth (The Constellations)

The very first place in the Torah that we find the word mazzaroth, it is spelled out every seven letters in Bereshit (Genesis) 4:26 through Bereshit (Genesis) 5:1. What did Josephus say about Seth and his offspring? (EXPAK Note: see above, the Jewish historian, Jospehus, attributes the origin of astrology to Seth, the offspring of Adam. (Antiquties of the Jews, Chapter 2:3).)

* * *

Humans, Stars and Pyramids


Enoch , who was the 7th from Adam, wrote that each star represented a living being. Enoch's words echo those of EXPAK pages (Biblical Patriarchs) on the setting of star days. (The Book of Enoch, Chapter 81:9-10). This influence can still be seen in the story of Joseph and his brethren. (Sefer Ha Yasher 53:18, also see Bereshit (Genesis) 43:33). We see it again in the Book of Iyov (Job). He was a contemporary of Moses (see his references to "reed boats" and dwelling among monuments with buried kings) and even served as an advisor to Pharaoh. The book of Iyov (Job) mentions the very constellations that may have aided in the building of the Pyramids. Note his language: the chains of the Pleiades.....and the cords of Orion.....the ordinances of heaven. Take note of the constellation Pleiades, it will figure heavily in the story of the Flood.

* * *

Noah, Methuselah, The Flood


I wanted to pass along a few relevant things about the Flood. In EXPAK, Generations of the Bible (Biblical Patriarchs), the constellation Pleiades figures prominently in Methuselah's setting. The Talmud tells us that the Flood started when Heaven's sluices were opened by "removing two of the Pleiades." This is a phrase loaded with all kinds of implications. Could this be why it was common knowledge, among No'ach and his ancestors, that this event was foretold in the heavens? Could this be an explanation of an actual cosmic event that shook the earth's very foundations? And how did No'ach know exactly when to enter the Ark? His grandfather's name was a prophesy. The Hebrew word for death is met. The word for judgment is selah. Methuselah literally means, "at his death is judgment".


No'ach's Ark


During the disaster that followed, No'ach and his family braved the watery cataclysm in their large reed craft. It was not gopher wood (there is no such thing). It was sealed with gophre, the Hebrew word for pitch or tar. The rabbinical sources reveal that its interior was lit by a marvelous blue sapphire that contained all knowledge. This same idea is expressed in the works of the Babylonian priest Berosus. He says that the story is in the sacred book called Sippar.

Note of some very intriguing facts:

The Hebrew word for book is Sefer.

The Hebrew word for sapphire is Sapir.

The Hebrew letter fey is changed to a pey by adding a dot in the middle of the letter. It changes an "f" sound to a "p" sound. Say the words (sefer and sapir) and interchange the "p" with the "f" and they are almost indistinguishable. In Hebrew, the word for a scribe is sofer.

19th century sailing vessels used a sapphire shaped prism, flat on one end, built into its deck to light below decks. (I have a replica of this ship's prism on my mantle).

And what is even more fascinating......some Jewish scholars have long held that the Torah itself, given to Moses on Mount Sinai, was engraved on two blocks of pure sapphire. So, is the Hebrew word for book, sefer, derived from safir or sapphire?

* * *

The astrological sign for the month of Shevat is Aquarius, the water bearer, or as it is called in Hebrew, "D'li," "the pail." The pail draws water from its source, and brings the water to where it is used. We find the comparison between water and Torah often in the writings of our Sages. In Shevat, we are supposed to recognize that our task is to act as the "Torah bearer" and to draw from the Torah so that the Torah is properly used. The fact the New Year for Trees falls under this sign is of course no coincidence. Most obviously, trees need water for their survival, and the needed delivery of water to the trees so that fruit forms is a focus on the New Year for Trees. The deeper significance arises from the comparison made in the Torah (Devarim 20:19) of "for the trees of the field are like man." Man, like trees, needs "water" for sustenance. Just as physical water enables a tree to bring forth fruit, so too does the Torah, spiritual water, enable man to bring forth fruit. As we mentioned before, this requires work and toil. So that we remember that we have help in our task, we celebrate the New Year for Trees on the 15th day of the month. Until the 15th day, the moon has been growing in light. The 15th day is typically the day of the full moon. It signifies the completeness and fullness that we have right when we are born - we have been taught the entire Torah. We start our toil realizing that G-d was there to help us, to plant a seed within us.

The 15th day of Shevat is a day on which we pray that growth should begin. Trees should get the water they sorely need so that they bear fruit. Man should properly immerse himself in Torah so that he reaches his full potential. The 15th day of Shevat is a day on which we recognize that G-d is there to help us with our endeavors. He provides us with what we need to be successful, although our success depends on our efforts as well. Tu B'Shvat should be the start of a truly fruitful year for all of us.

(Based on Sefer B'nai Yesaschar)

(More insights on Shevat may be found in the Tu B'Shevat study.)

Appendix A Other Sources

Sefer Yezirah - more material on mazzorim.

Frances Rolleston "Mazzaroth" or "The Constellations" . In London by Rivingtons, 1876.

Joseph A. Seiss "The Gospel in the Stars" . In Philadelphia by J.B.Lippincott, 1885.

Admon, Bo'smat Sefer Mishpete Kokhavim: Astrologyah lefi ha-Yahadut (Hod ha Sharon: Astrolog, 1996)

Bakal, Meir, (ed.) Seder 12 ha-Mazalot (Jerusalem: Hotsa`at Bakal, 1994)

Erlanger, Gad, Signs of the Times: the Zodiac in Jewish Tradition (New York, NY:        Feldheim, 2001)

Glazerson, Matityahu, Above the Zodiac: Astrology in Jewish Thought (Northvale, NJ: J. Aaronson, 1997)

Glazerson, Matityahu, En Mazal le-Yisrael (Israel: M. Glazerson, 1980, 1985)

Ibn Ezra, Abraham ben Meir Le Livre des fondements astrologiues: (precede de) Le        Commencement de la sapience des signes [introduction, traduction et notes de Jacques Halbronn] (Paris, Retz, 1977)

Megilat Ta'anit: Baraita de-13 midot de-Rabi Yishma`ek.  Baraita di-Shmu'el Yarhina'ah. `Inyan ha-Tekufot (Israel: 1980)

Solomon ben Isaac, Shene Sefarim Niftahim: Isur ver-Heter le-Rashi (1973)

Altmann, A., "Astrology," Encyclopedia Judaica (Jeruslaem: Keter, 1973), vol. 3, pp.    788-795

Blau, L., & Kohler, K., "Astrology," Jewish Encyclopedia (NY: Fink & Wagnells, 1901-1905), vol. 2, pp. 241-245

Sarfatti, G.B., "An Introduction to 'Barayta de-Mazzalot'," Bar-Ilan Yearbook 3 (1965), 56-82 [Heb]

Dobin, Joel C., The Astrological Secrets of the Hebrew Sages: to Rule Both Day and Night (New York, NY: Inner Traditions International, 1983)

Dobin, Joel C., To Rule Both Day and Night: Astrology in the Bible, Midrash, and Talmud (New York, NY: Inner Traditions International, 1977)

Dobin, Joel C., Kabbalistic Astrology: the Sacred Tradition of the Hebrew Sages (Rochester, NY: Inner Traditions, 1999)

Levy, R., Astrological Works of Abraham ibn Ezra (Baltimore, Md., Paris, Johns Hopkins University Press; Les Presses Universitaires, 1927)

Jospe, Raphael, "The Torah and Astrology According to Abraham ibn Ezra," World Congress of Jewish Studies 11, C2 (1994), pp. 17-24

This study was written by Hilel ben David

(Greg Killian).

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1 Compton's Living Encyclopedia

2 Compton's Living Encyclopedia

3 Exodus 28:6-12

4 According to I.E., the ephod was an astrological instrument that the High Priest used to predict the future. See I.E. on Exodus 28:6 and Nahmanides on Exodus 28:6.

5 Corresponding to the twelve constellations.

6 Lit. and one also.

7 The twelve names on the two stones of the ephod correspond to the twelve constellations, six of which are found in the northern part of the sky and six in the southern part of the sky. The twelve names on the ephod are divided into two groups.

8 Lit., corresponds

9 Lit., to thought. The sky is divided into twelve sections containing the twelve constellations. The lines marking off these sections can not be seen by the eye. They can be conceived only by the mind.

10 It had similiar astrological significance. Its function, however, was not identical to that of the ephod. For heavenly beneficence descended upon Israel through the breastplate and not through the ephod. See I.E. on Exodus 28:6

11 Exodus 28:16

12 Exodus 28:17-20

13 Because heavenly beneficence descended upon Israel through the breastplate.

14 For each one of the twelve tribes was unique.

15 Exodus 28:23-25

16 Exodus 28:30

17 The word Urim means "lights" and corresponds to the sun and moon.

18 They too allude to heavenly bodies. For the Tummim see Exodus 28:30.

19 Five. Tummim means "whole" or "complete". All numbers, with the exception of five, disappear when cubed or squared. For example 22 = 4; 52 = 25; 23 = 8; 53 =125. Hence five is a whole number. The tummim corresponds to the number five and alludes to the five moving stars (planets). It should be noted that the ancients were aware of only the five visible planets, namely, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury.

20 The urim and tummim.

21 The constellations.

22 Etym. 'Urim'- lights. 'Thummim'-tam-to be complete, perfect; here true, fulfilled.

23 He should have asked first: Will Saul come down? Then, Will they deliver me up?

24 I Sam. XXIII, 12.

25 Ibid. XXX, 8.

26 Etym. 'Urim'- lights. 'Thummim'-tam-to be complete, perfect; here true, fulfilled.

27 Judg. XX.

28 [The text of cur. edd. is not clear and the rendering follows the reading of MS.M. Rashi, on the basis of the present text, explains: They (the Urim and Thummim) did not state clearly, etc.].

29 The single question was who should lead them.

30 Judg. XX, 28.

31 The names of the twelve sons of Jacob were inscribed on the Urim and Thummim. The answer always came through the letters which stood in relief.

32 The names of the twelve sons did not include that letter.

33 The Hebrew of which includes a teth.

34 II Sam. XV, 24. [This is explained, that he retired from the priesthood because he received no reply from the Urim and Thummim. This in turn would indicate that it is the Holy Spirit resting on the priest that gives that reply and not the letters of the Oracle].

35 By the priests' merit the oracle came forth.

36 Num. XXVII, 21.

37 The ten numbers are the foundation of all sums.

38 Thus, there are really no new numbers beyond ten.

39 For example 15 = 10 + 10 / 2

40 For example 17 = 10 + 10 / 2 + 10 / 5

41 20 is 10 x 2.

42 According to Creizenach.

43 Multiplying ten and adding a part or parts of ten to it. Thus: 65 = 6 x 10 + 10 / 2; 68 6 x 10 + 10 / 2 + 10 / 10

44 According to Aristotle, the sublunar world consists of four elements: earth, water, wind (air), and fire.

45 The sphere of the moon, the sphere of the sun, the spheres of each of the five planets, and the sphere of the constellations. I.E. omits the diurnal sphere and the sphere of the active intellect because they do not contain any body.

46 The yod is numerically equivalent to ten.

47 According to the Pythagoreans, the number ten was sacred. It was symbolized by the dotted triangle, the tatractys, "source and root of everlasting nature." See Encyclopedia of Philosophy, vols. 7 and 8, p. 38.

48 For it encompasses and gathers everything into one company.

49 Hence, it has a similar meaning.

50 From the root yod, dalet, heh.

51 The plural of todah.

52 From the sphere of the active intellect. There are ten spheres surrounding the earth, namely, the lunar sphere, the solar sphere, the five spheres of the planets, the sphere of the constellations, the ninth sphere-which moves all of the above-mentioned spheres-and the sphere of the active intellect.

53 The sphere of the active intellect is known as the kisse ha-kavod, God's glorious throne, and is thus holy.

54 Lit. its counterpart.

55 They allude to the sphere of the active intellect, which is both the first and the tenth sphere.

56 Rather than with ten. Lit. There are nine ones.

57 That is two through nine.

58 A prime number is a number that can be evenly divided only by itself and by one.

59 Another word for root. One is the root and square of one and the root and cube of one.

60 Two.

61 That is, 1 + 22 = 5

62 Three.

63 That is, 1 + 32 = 10

64 The numbers making up the divine name Yah, spelled yod, heh. Yod = 10, heh = 5.

65 YHVH comes to 26. For yod = IO, heh = 5, and vav = 6.

66 The divine name Yah. Yah is spelled yod, heh. Yod is enuciated yod, vav, dalet. Heh is sounded heh, alef,. Yod, vav, dalet, heh, and alef = 26. Lit. The same is also the case if we add the sum of the two letters.

67 The iftieth year. See Leviticus 25:10-12

68 Which falls fifty days from the day on which the Omer is brought. See Leviticus 23:15, 17.

69 Kokeba di-Shabi Lit., 'Star that draws'. What exactly is meant is a matter of dispute. Rashi explains as 'shooting-stars'.

70 The lowest of the seven firmaments, which is a kind of 'Veil' to the others.

71 Rashi and Tosaf. omit 'and rolled up'.

72 Lit., 'firmament'. The next of the seven firmaments.

73 I.e., mere error of perspective, v. on the passage Brodetsky, Jewish Review July, 1909, p. 167 ff.

74 Job IX, 9.

75 Amos V, 8. The order is here reversed.

76 Mentioned in Dan. VII, 10, denoting probably the Milky Way.

77 Job. XXXVIII, 31.

78 This constellation follows that of the Ram.

79 Ibid. 32. E.V. 'or canst thou guide the Bear with her sons'.

80 And then stuck on artificially.

81 V. supra, p. 10, n. 1.

82 Eccl. 1, 9.

83 Job. XXXVIII, 32. E.V. 'or canst thou guide the Bear with her sons'.

84 Cf. II Esdras IV, 30.

85 The idea is that the serpent infected Eve (i.e., the human race) with lust, from which, however, those who accept the moral teachings of the Torah are freed. Cf. B.B. 16a: The Holy One, blessed be He, created the evil passions, but He also created the Torah as their antidote. Thus this passage does not teach the doctrine of 'Original Sin', which Judaism rejects; v. Hertz, Genesis, pp. 59-60, 'Jewish view on the "Fall of Man,''. V. also Weiss, Dor, II, p. 9.

86 On mazzal v. Sanh., Sonc. ed., p. 629, n. 10.

87 Deut. XXIX, 14f. The teachings of Judaism and its spiritual ennoblement were freely meant for all mankind.

88 Even before the Revelation at Sinai.

89 Gen. VII, 11.

90 There seems to be some confusion in the text here. To make it astronomically correct we should read (with the Seder Olam) in the dictum of R. Joshua, 'When Pleiades rises at daybreak', and in the dictum of R. Eliezer, 'sets at daybreak'.

91 Gen. XXIV, 1.

92 [A variant rendering: 'He possessed an astrological instrument'. Current texts have 'in his heart' - Tosef. Kid. V, reads 'in his hand'. V. Bacher, Agada der Tanaiten, I, 200.]

93 Lit., 'the potentates . . . used to attend early at his gate'.

94 Lit., there is no mazzal (planetary influence) to Israel.

95 Jer. X, 2.

96 Israel being uninfluenced by 'the signs of heaven'.

97 Gen. XV, 5, q.v.

98 Cf. n. 3.

99 Meat that has gone so hard and dry that there are splits in it.

100 I.e., when the sun, as one of the planets, wields its influence on man.

101 Or: bright, handsome.

102 During the hours ruled over by Mercury.

103 Just like the moon, which waxes and wanes, has no light of its own but merely reflects the sun's light, and is in general dark.

104 kyc (to frustrate) is the Chaldaic equivalent of ,ca. (10) Rash: charitable.

105 And am none of these.

106 Not to be taken literally. of course. V. supra 153a.

107 Which is thy constellation.

108 Which is an unpropitious combination for begetting children.

109 E.V. 'righteousness'.

110 Sc. for the sake of Abraham: Isa. XLI. 2.

111 Name of a constellation, either Pleiades or Draco.

112 Like the very angels.

113 Lit. 'by signs'.

114 So Warsaw ed. The Vilna ed. has the singular and 'the state', which might refer to Rome.

115 V. Gen. XXX, 14: And Reuben went tn the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field; and cf. Gen. R.LXXII, 5.

116 His prowess and his self-sacrifice in the interest of morality were demonstrated at Shechem (cf. Gen. XXXIV, 25 f.).

117 Perhaps the reference to Levi should, with R. Bechaye, be deleted, since he was not included among the twelve tribes (Rad.).

118 Cf. Deut. XXXIII, 9.

119 To which he was likened by Jacob in his final blessings (cf. Gen. XLIX, 9).

120 They were the astronomers and calendar experts.

121 Like silver, symbolical, according to R. Bechaye, of their great wealth;

122 Rad.; they were the great merchants and seafaring traders; v. Rashi on Gen. XLIX, 13.

123 Rad. prefers the reading 'black', adopted by R. Bechaye.

124 Though Naphtali's birth is recorded before Gad's (v. Gen. XXX, 8-1l), Gad precedes Naphtali in the present enumeration of the tribes (see vv. 14, 29) and also in the blessings of both Jacob and Moses (v. Gen. XLIX, 19, 21; Deut. XXXIII, 20, 23). There is consequently no need to assume with Rash, that we have a printer's error here.

125 Firstling bullock is taken to mean 'first in rank and power'.

126 This passage on Joseph is not quite clear. Reference is made to Joseph's flag, though, in fact, there was no separate tribe of Joseph; nor is the meaning of the phrase 'the embroidered design thereon for both princes, Ephraim and Manasseh, was Egypt' quite certain. It apparently means that Ephraim and Manasseh were both included in one twin flag. Egypt was depicted across the whole of it, the background of which was entirely black, yet the flag was divided into two (perhaps by a vertical or horizontal line), and each part bore a device representing its particular tribe. Another explanation might be that they each had a separate flag, placed side by side, while a third flag represented Joseph as a whole. This seems rather less likely.

127 This also was in the future.

128 Judg. XX. The date of the twenty-third of Shebat is given in Megillath Ta'anith. Radal emends: 'With Tebeth came up the merit of Ezra and the men of the great Synagogue,etc.; with Shebat came up the merit of the twenty-third day thereof on which all Israel, etc.

129 Judg. XX. The date of the twenty-third of Shebat is given in Megillath Ta'anith. Radal emends: 'With Tebeth came up the merit of Ezra and the men of the great Synagogue,etc.; with Shebat came up the merit of the twenty-third day thereof on which all Israel, etc.

130 Sons of Judah and Tamar.

131 I.e. wardest off the evil from the constellation Scorpio (Mah.).

132 The sign of Cancer is omitted.

133 Y.'A. corrects to 'seventh', in accordance with the Rabbinical tradition, Kid. 38a.

134 E.V.: 'Men of low degree.'

135 E.V.: 'Men of high degree.'

136 E.V.: 'Lighter than vanity.'

137 This apparently means that when men imply that marriage is the result of present agreement of the parties concerned they are 'vanity' and ' a lie ' for it was decreed that they should be 'together'--married--'from nothingness'--before they were born.

138 This is taken to allude to Abraham.

139 Cf. Lev. XXIII, 40.

140 The Book of Our Heritage by Eliyahu Kitov.

141 "The Story of the Heavens" by A.E. Partridge

142 "Outer Space: Myths, Name Meanings, Calendars" by Gertrude and James Jobes

143 "The Jewish Encyclopedia" under 'Astronomy', page 246

144 Astrological Secrets of the Hebrew Sages, by Rabbi Dbin

145 "TANAK - The Holy Scriptures". The Jewish publication society".


By Hilel ben David (Greg Killian)


Thanks and credits to Greg Killian


volker doormann    -  2003.02.1