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PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 5:04 pm 
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Here we discuss the evidence for the motif of "the Twelve" in antiquity, including as concerns the Bible as well as in other artifacts and myths in numerous other cultures. As we can see, the ancients in many places around the world have been very focused on this sacred number, which signifies the 12 hours of day and night, the 12 months of the year and the 12 signs of the zodiac. The Twelve is, in fact, a motif found ubiquitously, dating back centuries to millennia.

Were the 12 Tribes of Israel Based on the Zodiac?

This is a subject about which there is much disinformation, including attempts to claim that the zodiac postdated the founding of the Israelite nation with its 12 tribes and that, hence, the numbering of the tribes could not be based on the 12 zodiacal signs, as has been suggested by many people since ancient times.

Testimony of Josephus and Philo

The claim that the 12 tribes of Israel were identified with the 12 signs of the zodiac is spelled out clearly by the ancient Jewish writers Philo and Josephus, during the first century. During the first century BCE, Diodorus Siculus identified the 12 tribes with the 12 months.

As I relate in Christ in Egypt (261):

See Exodus 39:9-14: "...they made the breastplate... And they set in it four rows of stones... And the stones were according to the names of the children of Israel, twelve...according to the twelve tribes."

As Josephus says (Antiquities, 3.8 ): "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." (Josephus, 75.)

Earlier than Josephus, Philo ("On the Life of Moses," 12) had made the same comments regarding Moses: "Then the twelve stones on the breast, which are not like one another in colour, and which are divided into four rows of three stones in each, what else can they be emblems of, except of the circle of the zodiac?" (Philo, 99.)

As we can see, by the first century it was well known that the theme of "the 12" was astrological in nature.

Age of the Zodiac

The zodiac is mentioned in the Bible at Job 38:32, where the author refers to the "Mazzaroth." The Book of Job is traditionally placed in an early setting, as the RSV says, from the patriarchal period, preceding the founding of Israel. Job is believed to have been an adult when Moses was allegedly born, which would mean that Job's adventures and story, with its discussion of the Mazzaroth/12 signs, preceded Moses and the gathering together of 12 tribes.

Skeptical historians question whether or not the OT history of Moses and others truly occurred at any point, much less the 13th century, and much of the Bible appears to have been written only as early as after the Babylonian Captivity. If we were to subscribe to the Bible as history, however, we would have to accept that the Zodiac was known to the Hebrews before Moses created Israel with its 12 tribes, which many - including Philo and Josephus - have identified with the 12 zodiacal signs.

There is much more to the history of the zodiac, including the Karanovo Zodiac, which dates to around 6,000 years ago. In The Astronomy of the Bible, Christian royal astronomer Walter Maunder dates the emergence of the zodiac as we know it to some 5,000 years ago. The Indians have their own history of the zodiac, dating back thousands of years as well.

The Egyptians possessed gods numbering 12 long before the Bible was written down, reflecting, for one, the 12 hours of the day and night. We may not be surprised, then, to discover that early Church father Hippolytus associated the Christian 12 with the hours of the day, while as early as the late second century, Clement of Alexandria wrote about the Valentian Gnostic Theodotus identifying the 12 apostles with the 12 signs of the zodiac.

There is much reason to suspect that whoever wrote the various pertinent biblical scriptures was well aware of the astronomical, astrological and astrotheological symbolism of the number 12.

Image
Zodiac on a synagogue floor at Beit Alpha, Israel (6th cent. AD/CE)

For more information on the motif of the 12, please see the massive list I compiled in my "ZEITGEIST Sourcebook", reproduced here for ease of reference.

Quote:
The use of 12 in the Bible itself is so ubiquitous that it is logical to presume these groupings reflect not an actual count, but, rather, a common formulaic theme, based on the prevalence of this sacred number in the Pagan world as well.

Biblical examples:

The 12 Princes of Ishmael (Gen 17:20)
The 12 Sons of Jacob (Gen 35:22)
The 12 Tribes of Israel (Gen 49:28)
The 12 Prophets and Kings of Israel
The 12 Wells of Water (Exd 15:27)
The 12 Pillars of the Lord (Exd 24:4)
The 12 Stones of the Breastplate (Exd 39:14)
The 12 Cakes of the Tabernacle (Lev 24:5)
The 12 Princes of Israel (Num 1:44)
The 12 Oxen of the Tabernacle (Num 7:3)
The 12 Chargers of Silver, Bowls of Silver and Spoons of Gold (Num 7:84)
The 12 Bullocks, Rams, Lambs and Kids of the Offering (Num 7:87)
The 12 Rods of the Princes of Israel (Num 17:6)
The 12 Stones of Joshua (Jos 4:8)
The 12 Cities (Jos 18:24, 19:25, 21:7, 21:40)
The 12 Judges of Israel (Jdg 3, 4, 6, 10, 12, 13)
The 12 Pieces of the Concubine (Jdg 19:29)
The 12 Servants of David (2 Sa 2:15)
The 12 Officers of Solomon (1 Ki 4:7)
The 12 Lions of Solomon (1 Ki 10:20)
The 12 Pieces of Jeroboam‘s Garment (1 Ki 11:30)
The 12 Stones of Elijah (1 Ki 18:31)
The 12 Bronze Bulls of Solomon (Jer 52:20)
The 12 Disciples/Apostles of Jesus (Mt 10:1-2)
The 12 Baskets of Bread (Mt 14:20)
The 12 Thrones in Heaven (Mt 19:28)
The 12 Legions of Angels (Mt 26:53)
The 12 Patriarchs of Israel (Acts 7:8)
The 12 Stars of the Woman‘s Crown (Rev 12:1)
The 12 Gates, Angels and Pearls of Holy Jerusalem (Rev 21:12, 21)
The 12 Fruits of the Tree of Life (Rev 22:2)

Pagan examples:

The 12 Ahhazu or Demons of the Sumerians
The 12 Tablets/Adventures of Gilgamesh
The 12 Gods of Egypt
The 12 Divisions of the Tuat
The 12 Companions of Horus/Osiris
The 12 Olympian Gods
The 12 Tasks of Hercules
The 12 Daughters of Priam
The 12 Children of Amphion and Niobe
The 12 Daughters of Boeotia and Metope
The 12 Gods of the Romans and Etruscans
The 12 Sons of the Etruscan Mother Goddess
The 12 Shields of Mars
The 12 Altars of Janus
The 12 Aeons of the Gnostics
The 12 Devas of India
The 12 Names of the Indian Sun God Surya
The 12 Terrifying Aspects of Shiva
The 12 Adityas of the Indian Mother of Worlds
The 12 Labors of the Virgin-Born Arjuna
The 12 Generals of Ahura-Mazda
The 12 Aesir of the Norse
The 12 Berserkers of the Norse
The 12 Mountains of Ebhlenn
The 12 Horse-Children of Boreas
The 12 White Horses of the Polish Sun God
The 12 Stones of Cenn Cruiach
The 12 Rivers of the Elivagar
The 12 Horses and Hounds of Gwydion
The 12 Moons of China
The 12 Generals of the Japanese Divine Physician
The 12 Yiyantsinni of the Navaho, Pueblo, Iroquois
The 12 First People of the Navajo

(Murdock, ZEITGEIST Sourcebook", pp. 65-68, #33)

The 12 Disciples of Jesus and the Signs of the Zodiac

Moreover, the comparison of Jesus's 12 disciples with both the 12 signs of the zodiac and the 12 hours of the day began in antiquity, in the second century with the Gnostics, and continued throughout the ages. As Michael Ladwein relates:

Quote:
The relationship of the apostles to the signs of the Zodiac in general was first mooted in a remark by Clement of Alexandria about the Gnostic Theodotus... An early Christian pottery lamp in Geneva has the heads of the twelve apostles arranged around the central opening for the flame (=Christ as the sun). The sides of a medieval ivory reliquary in the abbey church of Quedlinburg shows the (unspecified) apostles with the Zodiac signs above. An ivory reliquary in the Bavarian National Museum in Munich is similar. On the front we see Christ between Cancer and Leo, i.e. as the sun in its most powerful at the summer solstice. There are specific associations in medieval literature, e.g. in the Rota ecclesiastica, a manuscript dating from the first half of the twelfth century, in the writings of the Catalan scholar Arnold of Villanova in the thirteenth century, in those of Agrippa of Nettesheim around 1500, and those of the Augsburg jurist Julius Schiller in the seventeenth century. In each case the combinations were different as was also the composition of the circle of twelve... In contrast to these arbitrary medieval combinations, E. Lenz has ventured a new and considerably more convincing "attempt based on natural sensitivity to link Thomas with the constellation of Gemini (he is after all called the 'twin' in the Gospels) and Judas with Scorpio."

(Ladwein, 127)

In the early third century, Church father Clement of Alexandria (Excerpts from Theodotus 1.25.2) reported on the doctrine of the Valentinian Gnostic Theodotus (fl. 150-180 AD/CE):

"He says the apostles were substituted for the twelve signs of the zodiac, for, as birth is directed by them, so is rebirth by the apostles." (Hegedus, 324)

As theologian Rev. Dr. Tim Hegedus remarks in Early Christianity and Ancient Astrology (343):

"[The] twelve apostles have taken over the role of guardian...of the zodiacal signs that had traditionally been held by the twelve [Olympian] gods."

Image
Miniature zodiac, with Helios (Sun) as Christ in his solar chariot drawn by four horses, surrounded by the apostles, corresponding to the zodiacal signs; 813-820 AD/CE; Vaticanus graecus 1291

We have several other threads throughout this forum discussing the motif of the twelve (12), such as the following:

When did the twelve months 1st appear?
Horus and the 12 Disciples
Horus and the Twelve (12)
The 12 columns in the vestibule of Temple of Horus at Edfu
The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
Mithra: The Pagan Christ
The Zodiac in Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper

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PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 6:16 pm 
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Humm, I wonder if there have been recent discoveries pertaining to ancient zodiacs? What are some of the oldest in existence?

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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 6:01 am 
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Freethinkaluva22 wrote:
Humm, I wonder if there have been recent discoveries pertaining to ancient zodiacs? What are some of the oldest in existence?

Does zodiac mean only the division of the sky into the 12 known signs now or other versions too?

The Indians have traditionally divided the sky into 27 nakshatras or lunar mansions with each measuring 13 degrees 20 minutes. This was used to mark each day by the presence of the moon in each nakshatra. Put together these were called Jyotir Aksha meaning Circle of Light. (Jyotir-aksha -> Zodiraxa ->zodiac??) Later on each nakshatra was divided into 4 quarters each measuring 3 degrees and 20 minutes. This helped to accurately calculate the position of the sun mathematically. Generally one modern day zodiac sign is equal to 2.25 nakshatras of our system.

If this is considered then the Indians had a knowledge of zodiac system thousands of years before 500 BCE. Even if you take only the 12 sign system as zodiac system even then this would hold true. The Rig Veda mentions the different signs of the zodiac at various places and even by mainstream historians the RV is of 1500 BCE antiquity.

You can read an excellent article by the Belgian Indologist Koenard Elst on this subject. I am just pasting a small portion of his writing here.
Quote:

4.4. The Zodiac

To conclude this brief acquaintance with Vedic astronomy, we want to draw attention to the presence in the Rg-Veda of a momentous cultural artifact, the origin of which is usually situated in Babylonia in about 600 BC: the twelve-sign Zodiac. In RV 1:164:11, the sun wheel in heaven is said to have 12 spokes, and to be subdivided into 360 pairs of "sons": the days (consisting of day and night), rounded off to an arithmetically manageable number, also basis of the "Babylonian" division of the circle in 360 degrees. The division in 12 already suggests the Zodiac, and we also find, in the footsteps of N.R. Waradpande, that a number of the Zodiacal constellations/rashis (classically conceived as combinations of 2 or 3 successive Lunar mansions or nakshatras of 13*20' each) are mentioned: Simha/Leo (5:83:3 and 9:89:3), Kanya/Virgo (6:49:7), Mithuna/Gemini (3:39.3), and Vrshabha/Taurus (6:47:5 and 8:93:1)

Here again, the precession has located them where we would expect them in about 4000 BC. The Vrshabha rashi is said to have stabilized the heavens with a mighty prop, apparently a reference to the Taurus equinox in the 4th millennium BC; the same verse links the Taurus month with its opposite, Shukra/Jyeshtha (coinciding with Scorpio, which contained the autumnal equinox), confirming that Vrshabha, "bull", is used here in an astronomical-calendrical sense. That the seasons are linked with the constellation which is "heliacally rising" (i.e. rising just before dawn) is perhaps indicated by RV 8:93:1: "Surya, than mountest up to meet the vrshabha (bull)", the sun rises as if to meet the constellation which is just above the horizon.

We are aware that, like the Chinese, the Hindus link the season to the lunar constellation/nakshatra in opposition, i.e. the one which rises at sunset and may contain the full moon. This approach, if applied to modern astrology, would mean that those who think they are Taurus (sun in Taurus) would become its opposite, Scorpio (sun opposite Scorpio, full moon in Scorpio). By contrast, the Babylonians linked the seasons to the solar constellation/rashi in heliacal rising. If that method were used in modern astrology, those who consider themselves Taurus (sun in Taurus) would find themselves to be Aries (last constellation to rise before the sun-in-Taurus rises). However, Waradpande's discovery seems to imply that the Hindus too used the constellation (at least the rashi, not the nakshatra) in heliacal rising, like the Babylonians did.

The difference between the sun, which obscures the constellation it inhabits, and the moon, which is seen against the background of the constellation it inhabits, explains why a moon-based system uses moon-in-constellation or, via full-moon-in-constellation, sun-in-opposition (the full moon being by definition opposite to the sun); while a sun-based system had to make do with a derivative relation between sun and constellation, typically the constellation's heliacal rising. My suspicion is that India originally had both systems: a Lunar 27-part Zodiac (nakshatras) using the opposition, exactly like in China (and its derived system of 12 months, based on combinations of 2 or 3 nakshatras and still in use); and a Solar 12part Zodiac (rashis) using the heliacal rising, exactly like in Babylonia.

The Mithuna rashi/Gemini is said to destroy darkness and to be basis (budhna) of heat (tapas) (RV 3:39:3). During Gemini's heliacal rising in 4000 BC, the sun was in Cancer, then coinciding with our month of May, in northern India the first month of summer (May-June), a season of drought and extreme heat. During Leo's heliacal rising, around summer solstice in 4000 BC, the rainy season began. Therefore, verse 5:83:3 says: "Like the charioteer driving the horse by the whip, he releases the messengers of shower. From afar the roars of the simha declare that the rain-god is making the sky showering." It could not be clearer.

Leo is followed by Virgo, indicating the second half of the rainy season, when the water level in the rivers rises dramatically: in verse 6:49:7, she is called "the purifier Kanya (virgin) with Chitra as her life, waterstream-full". The reference to Chitra, the asterism Spica, the most conspicuous part of the constellation Virgo, dispels any lingering doubt that Kanya/Virgo does indeed mean the sixth constellation of the Zodiac. This means that the Zodiac is as old as the oldest Veda, and that the Zodiac itself helps to date the Vedas to the age when Virgo was connected with the rainy season. Even if we consider sun-in-Virgo rather than Virgo's heliacal rising, this would still indicate the centuries around 2000 BC, well before the 1500 BC taught in our universities as the earliest possible date of the Rg-Veda. Either way, it also upsets the current assumption that the Zodiac was invented in Babylon in the last millennium BC.

4.5. India as the metropolis

Another indication for Indian influence on Chinese astronomy is the 60-year century, known in Vedic literature (the Brhaspati cycle) and still commonly used in the Chinese calendar. The 6th-century astronomer Aryabhatta reports that he was 23 when the 60th cycle ended, implying that the system was set rolling in 3102 BC. In China, the system was adopted a few centuries later: according to Chinese tradition, it started with the enthronement of the legendary Yellow Emperor in 2697 BC.

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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 4:53 pm 
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Excellent, Balu. Thank you.

"Even if you take only the 12 sign system as zodiac system even then this would hold true. The Rig Veda mentions the different signs of the at various places and even by mainstream historians the RV is of 1500 BCE antiquity."

It's very important to know about the Indian astronomy, astrology and astrotheology when considering this debate. The Eurocentric religionists think they have all the data. Obviously, they do not.

I will be looking into this subject for yet another book on comparative religion dating back into the mists of time. The Indian systems are complicated and difficult to comprehend, and require a significant amount of study.

I might add that the evidence strongly points to an Indian origin for the Hebrew "patriarch" Abraham and his wife, Sarah. It appears that a group of priests and their followers may have wandered in from India to settle in the Levant, eventually leading to the creation of Judaism.

As concerns the antiquity of the 12, if we consider ancient monuments, such as temples and other edifices, we frequently find this motif as well, indicating one or more meanings such as the 12 months of the year, 12 hours of the day or night, and 12 signs of the zodiac. These monuments would include the archaeological ruins of the Horus temple at Tharo or Tharu in Egypt, a stone's throw away from Israel. This Horus temple dates to around 3,000 years ago and has a "dozen rooms." (See my book Christ in Egypt, p. 264.)

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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 3:04 am 
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Acharya wrote:

It's very important to know about the Indian astronomy, astrology and astrotheology when considering this debate. The Eurocentric religionists think they have all the data. Obviously, they do not.

I will be looking into this subject for yet another book on comparative religion dating back into the mists of time. The Indian systems are complicated and difficult to comprehend, and require a significant amount of study.

The Indian system is not really complicated if you understand the logic. Yes, you may have a bit of difficulty in pronounciation and diction since Sanskrit is an exact language and a minor variation could give a different meaning. But I don't see you having any real difficulty considering the level of knowledge that you already have and your capacity to absorb intelligent stuff.

For starters, just ask yourself an elementary question. If the zodiac really originated in Babylon only in 600 BCE, then how did the Babylonians and later Greeks straightaway place the position of the sun so accurately? When the sun is visible, the constellations pale into the glare so as to become invisible and when they are visible, the sun would be invisible. You can put the position at dawn or dusk by observing which of the constellations is rising in the east. But this would have a margin of error of almost 15 degrees and the Babylons and Greeks certainly did better than that. The only answer is that they derived the position of the sun mathematically which is possible only by having a previously known method. The only other method that exists even today is the Indian lunar method. By observing the moon you can always fix the position of the sun but not vice-versa.

If you work on this line of reasoning you would get plenty of corroborating evidence on the development of astronomy from hindu literature.

Quote:
I might add that the evidence strongly points to an Indian origin for the Hebrew "patriarch" Abraham and his wife, Sarah. It appears that a group of priests and their followers may have wandered in from India to settle in the Levant, eventually leading to the creation of Judaism.

Quite Possible. Brahma and Saraswati. Abraham and Sarah. The Saraswati had a tributary called Hakkra- Gagghar which is flowing even today in the deserts of Rajasthan as a small stream. And Sarah gets herself a side-kick called Haggar in the Bible. While the Vedic literature put the area called Sauvira (modern day Iran) as the western most part of Bharath, the Bible says Havila is the eastern-most part of its holy land, clearly ahowing a western movement.

The Christians themselves put the time of Abraham around 1900 BCE. Now geological evidence and satellite pictures have conclusively proved that starting from 3300 BCE, the Saraswati must have completely dried up by 1900 BCE. The Yajur Veda describes the migration of people following the death of the river. Although the YV gives more details about the migration along the west coast of India and into the Gangetic plains, a few stragglers would have gone the other way too.

And of course, the Vedic literature regularly make it no secret that the Abhiras (Hebrews??) were unwelcome everywhere.

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Just as milk is of only one colour though obtained from cows of different colours so also the peculiarities of different religious thoughts lead to the same one ultimate truth - Mahabharatha


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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 7:27 pm 
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Thanks for the posts Balu - very interesting.

I'm seeing that there's evidence for the concept of the Zodiac being developed in stages over time and can be traced back to the Sumerian civilization in Mesopotamia in about 3200 BCE. And, from what I read in your post "The Vrshabha rashi is said to have stabilized the heavens with a mighty prop, apparently a reference to the Taurus equinox in the 4th millennium BC" takes it back even further.

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PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2009 2:58 am 
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Freethinkaluva22 wrote:
Thanks for the posts Balu - very interesting.

I'm seeing that there's evidence for the concept of the Zodiac being developed in stages over time and can be traced back to the Sumerian civilization in Mesopotamia in about 3200 BCE. And, from what I read in your post "The Vrshabha rashi is said to have stabilized the heavens with a mighty prop, apparently a reference to the Taurus equinox in the 4th millennium BC" takes it back even further.


Actually it is even older than that isn't it? To understand the concept of equinox it needs a hell of a lot of development of human intelligence. Then to notice that it is actually going backwards is another achievement. The equinox goes back by one day once in about 71 years which means a man may not even notice it during his life time. But our ancients have not only noticed it but also passed on the job of observing it to their future generation such that they could record its passage from one zodiac to another. This requires another 2000 years of naked eye observation at least.

And the Bible says god created the universe only in 4000 BCE!!!!!. :roll:
In reality our ancestors in India, Egypt and Sumeria were actually doing astronomical calculations by then. :P :P

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Just as milk is of only one colour though obtained from cows of different colours so also the peculiarities of different religious thoughts lead to the same one ultimate truth - Mahabharatha


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PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2009 9:18 am 
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Acharya wrote:
The Indian systems are complicated and difficult to comprehend, and require a significant amount of study.

Absolutely! Indian astrotheology is MUCH more complicated than the eurocentered one... not only because they tracked 9 planetary gods (7 planets and the 2 draconic lunar nodes) but because they were very meticulous and have separate deities for every goddamn constellation, both for the Lunar orbit decans (28 decans, 28 days moon cycle) than the Solar orbit decans (36 decans, 360 days year cycle), as we can see in the following double zodiac:

Image

And yet the twelve constellations are still represented as one god with 12 heads:

Image

And for the 12 signs there are 12 objects on the left hand, and 12 objects on the right hand, associated with it. And every one of that objects has an astrotheological meaning, because they appear again elsewhere in the hands of on the deities symbolizing the 28 lunar decans or in the deities symbolizing the 36 solar decans! :shock:


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Acharya wrote:
Excellent, Balu. Thank you.

"Even if you take only the 12 sign system as zodiac system even then this would hold true. The Rig Veda mentions the different signs of the at various places and even by mainstream historians the RV is of 1500 BCE antiquity."

It's very important to know about the Indian astronomy, astrology and astrotheology when considering this debate. The Eurocentric religionists think they have all the data. Obviously, they do not.

I will be looking into this subject for yet another book on comparative religion dating back into the mists of time. The Indian systems are complicated and difficult to comprehend, and require a significant amount of study.

I might add that the evidence strongly points to an Indian origin for the Hebrew "patriarch" Abraham and his wife, Sarah. It appears that a group of priests and their followers may have wandered in from India to settle in the Levant, eventually leading to the creation of Judaism.



Here is an article by David Frawley:
Quote:
Some scholars have claimed that the Babylonians invented the zodiac of 360 degrees around 700 BCE, perhaps even earlier. Many claim that India received the knowledge of the zodiac from Babylonia or even later from Greece. However, as old as the Rig Veda, the oldest Vedic text, there are clear references to a chakra or wheel of 360 spokes placed in the sky. The number 360 and its related numbers like 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, 108, 432 and 720 occur commonly in Vedic symbolism. It is in the hymns of the great Rishi Dirghatamas (RV I.140 - 164) that we have the clearest such references.


Dirghatamas is one of the most famous Rig Vedic Rishis. He was the reputed purohit or chief priest of King Bharata (Aitareya Brahmana VIII.23), one of the earliest kings of the land, from which India as Bharata (the traditional name of the country) was named.

Dirghatamas was one of the Angirasa Rishis, the oldest of the Rishi families, and regarded as brother to the Rishi Bharadvaja, who is the seer of the sixth book of the Rig Veda. Dirghatamas is also the chief predecessor of the Gotama family of Rishis that includes Kakshivan, Gotama, Nodhas and Vamadeva (seer of the fourth book of the Rig Veda), who along with Dirghatamas account for almost 150 of the 1000 hymns of the Rig Veda. His own verses occur frequently in many Vedic texts, a few even in the Upanishads.

The hymns of Dirghatamas speak clearly of a zodiac of 360 degrees, divided in various ways, including by three, six and twelve, as well as related numbers of five and seven. We must remember that the zodiac is first of all a mathematical division of the heavens such as this hymn outlines. This is defined mainly according to the elements, qualities and planetary rulerships of the twelve signs. The symbols we ascribe to these twelve divisions is a different factor that can vary to some degree. The actual stars making up the constellation that goes along with the sign is yet a third factor. For example, some constellations are less or more than thirty degrees, but the mathematical or harmonic division of each sign will only be thirty degrees. What is important about the hymns of Dirghatamas is that he shows the mathematical basis of such harmonic divisions of a zodiac of 360 degrees.

For Dirghatamas, as was the case for much of later Vedic astronomy, the main God of the zodiac is Vishnu. Vishnu rules over the highest heaven and is sometimes identified with the pole star or polar point, which in the unique view of Vedic astronomy is the central point that governs all celestial motions and form which these are calculated.


According to Dirghatamas Rig Veda I.155.6, "With four times ninety names (caturbhih sakam navatim ca namabhih), he (Vishnu) sets in motion moving forces like a turning wheel (cakra)." This suggests that even in Vedic times Vishnu had 360 names or forms, one for each degree of the zodiac. A fourfold division may correspond to the solstices and equinoxes. Elsewhere Dirghatamas states, I.164.36, "Seven half embryos form the seed of the world. They stand in the dharma by the direction of Vishnu." This probably refers to the seven planets.

Most of the astronomical information occurs in his famous Asya Vamasya Hymn I.164. Much of this hymn can be understood as a description of the zodiac. It begins:
1. Of this adorable old invoker (the Sun) is a middle brother who is pervasive (the Wind or lightning). He has a third brother, whose back carries ghee (Fire). There I saw the Lord of the people (the Sun) who has seven children.
This verse is referring to the usual threefold Vedic division of Gods and worlds as the Fire (Agni) on Earth, the Wind or Lightning (Vayu) in the Atmosphere and the Sun (Surya) in Heaven. This also may refer to the three steps or strides of Vishnu through which he measures the Earth, the Atmosphere and Heaven. The Sun is also a symbol of the supreme light or the supreme Sun God that is Vishnu. The Sun or supreme light has seven children, the visible Sun, Moon and five planets.


We should note that the zodiac of twelve signs is divided into three sections based upon a similar understanding, starting with Aries or fire (cardinal fire ruled by Mars, who in Vedic thought is the fire born of the Earth), then with Leo or the Sun (fixed fire ruled by the Sun), and then with Sagittarius, the atmospheric fire, lightning or wind (mutable fire ruled by Jupiter, the God of the rains).

2. Seven yoke the chariot that has a single wheel (chakra). One horse that has seven names carries it. The wheel has three naves, is undecaying and never overcome, where all these beings are placed.
The zodiac is the single wheeled-chariot or circle yoked by the seven planets which are all forms of the Sun or sunlight. It is the wheel of time on which all beings are placed. The Vedic horse (ashva) is symbolic of energy or propulsive force.

3. This chariot which the seven have mounted has seven wheels (chakras) and is carried by seven horses. The seven sisters sing forth together, where are hidden the seven names of the cows.
The seven planets create their seven rotations or seven wheels. Each has its horse, its energy or velocity. Each has its feminine power or sister, its power of expression. It carries its own hidden name or secret knowledge (symbolically cows or rays). This refers to the astrological influences of the planets.

11. The wheel of law with twelve spokes does not decay as it revolves around heaven. Oh Fire, here your 720 sons abide.
The circle of the zodiac has twelve signs. It has 720 half degrees or twins, making 360 total. The Shatapatha Brahmana X.5.5, a late Vedic text, also speaks of a wheel of heaven with 720 divisions. "But indeed that Fire-altar is also the Nakshatras. For there are twenty seven of these Nakshatras and twenty-seven secondary Nakshatras. This makes 720." Twenty-seven times twenty-seven Nakshatras equals 729, with which some overlap can be related to the 720 half-degrees of the zodiac.

12. The Father with five feet and twelve forms, they say, dwells in the higher half of heaven full of waters. Others say that he is the clear-seeing one who dwells below in a sevenfold wheel that has six spokes.
The five feet of the father or the Sun are the five planets or the five elements that these often refer to (to which Vedic thought associates the five sense organs and five motor organs in the human body). His twelve forms are the twelve signs. The Sun in the higher half of heaven with the waters is the signs Leo with Cancer (ruled by the Moon), with the other five planets being the five feet, each ruling two signs. In Vedic thought, the Sun is the abode of the waters, which we can see in the zodiac by the proximity of the signs Cancer and Leo.

The sevenfold wheel is the zodiac moved by the seven planets. The six spokes are the six double signs through which the planets travel. The same verse occurs in the Prashna Upanishad I.11 as a symbol for the year.

13. Revolving on this five-spoked wheel all beings stand. Though it carries a heavy load, its axle does not over heat. From of old it does not break its ancient laws.
The five-spoked wheel is again the zodiac ruled by five planets and five elements and their various internal and external correspondences.

14. The undecaying wheel (circle) together with its felly (circumference), ten yoked to the upward extension carry it. The eye of the Sun moves encompassing the region. In it are placed all beings.
This may again refer to the ten signs ruled by the five planets, with each planet ruling two signs. The eye of the Sun may be the sign Leo through which the solar influence pervades the zodiac or just the Sun itself. The upward extension may be the polar region.

15. Of those that are born together, the seventh is born alone. The six are twins (yama), Divine born rishis. The wishes that they grant are apportioned according to their nature. Diversely made for their ordainer, they move in different forms.
The six born together or are twins are the twelve signs, two of which are ruled by one planet (considering the Sun and Moon as a single planetary influence). The seventh that is singly born is the single light that illumines all the planets. Elsewhere the Rig Veda X.64.3 speaks of the Sun and Moon as twins (yama) in heaven.


The planets are often associated with the rishis in Vedic thought, particularly the rishis Brihaspati (Jupiter), Shukra (Venus) and Kashyapa (the Sun) which became common names for the planets. Their ordainer or stabilizer may be the pole star (polar point).

48. Twelve are its fellies. The wheel is one. It has three naves. Who has understood it? It are held together like spokes the 3 60, both moving and non-moving.
This perhaps the clearest verse that refers to the zodiac of twelve signs and three hundred and sixty degrees. The same verse also occurs in Atharva Veda (X.8.4). The zodiac has three divisions as fire, lightning and Sun or Aries, Sagittarius and Leo that represent these three forms of fire. The 360 spokes are the 360 degrees which revolve in the sky but remain in the same place in the zodiac.


Yet another verse (43) of this same hymn of Dirghatamas refers to the Vishuvat, the solstice or equinox, showing that such astronomical meanings are clearly possible.

If we examine the hymn overall, we see that a heavenly circle of 360 degrees and 12 signs is known, along with 7 planets. It also has a threefold division of the signs which can be identified with that of fire, wind (lightning) and Sun (Aries, Sagittarius, Leo) and a sixfold division that can be identified with the planets each ruling two signs of the zodiac. This provides the basis for the main factors of the zodiac and signs as we have known them historically. We have all the main factors for the traditional signs of the zodiac except the names and symbols of each individual sign. This I will address in another article.

Elsewhere in Vedic literature is the idea that when the Creator created the stars he assigned each an animal of which there were originally five, the goat, sheep, cow, horse and man (Shatapatha Brahmana X.2.1). This shows a Vedic tradition of assigning animals to constellations. The animals mentioned are the man, goat, ram, bull and horse, which contain several of the zodiacal animals.


The zodiac in Vedic thought is the wheel of the Sun. It is the circle created by the Sun’s rays. The Shatapatha Brahmana X.5.4 notes, "But, indeed, the Fire-altar also is the Sun. The regions are its enclosing stones, and there are 360 of these, because 360 regions encircle the Sun on all sides. And 360 are the rays of the Sun."

The Zodiac and the Subtle Body


Clearly this hymn contains a vision of the zodiac but its purpose is not simply astronomical, nor is the zodiac the sole subject of its concern. Besides the outer zodiac of time and the stars there is the inner zodiac or the subtle body and its chakra system. The seven chakras mentioned are also the seven chakras of the subtle body. In Vedic thought the Sun that rules time outwardly corresponds inwardly to Prana, the spirit, soul or life-force (Maitrayani Upanishad VI.1). Prana is the inner Sun that creates time at a biological level through the process of breathing. It is also the energy that runs up and down the spine and flows through the seven chakras strung like lotuses along it.


According to Vedic thought (Shatapatha Brahmana XII.3.28) we have 10,800 breaths by day and by night or 21,600 a day. This corresponds to one breath every four seconds. The same text says that we have as many breaths in one muhurta (1/30 of a day or 48 minutes) as there are days and nights in the year or 720, so this connection of the outer light and our inner processes is quite detailed at an early period.


In Vedic thought the subtle body is composed of the five elements, the five sense organs and five motor organs, which correspond to different aspects of its five lower chakras .On top of these five are the mind and intellect (manas and buddhi) which are often compared to the Moon and the Sun and relate to the two higher chakras. They can be added to these other five factors, like the five planets, making seven in all. The chakras of Dirghatamas, though outwardly connected to the zodiac, are inwardly related to the subtle body, a connection that traditional commentators on the hymn like Sayana or Atmananda have noted.

This hymn of Dirghatamas contains many other important and cryptic verses on various spiritual matters that are connected to but go beyond the issues of the zodiac. It is written in the typical Vedic mantric and symbolic language to which it provides two keys;

39. The supreme syllable of the chant in the supreme ether, in which all the Gods reside, those who do not know this, what can they do with the Veda? Those who know it alone are gathered here.


45. Four are the levels of speech. Those trained in the knowledge, the wise know them all. Three hidden in secrecy cannot be do not stir. Mortals speak only with the fourth.

There is clearly a hidden knowledge behind these verses, which reflect an esoteric tradition of spiritual knowledge that was mainly accessible for initiates who had the keys to open its veils. We cannot simply take such verses superficially but must look deeply and see what they imply. Then the pattern of their inner meaning can come forth. If we do this, the astronomical and astrological side cannot be ignored.

Pingree’s Views


Western scholars of the history of astronomy like David Pingree have accepted the astronomical basis of this hymn. In an article, "Astronomy in India" in Astronomy Before the Telescope, C. Walker (ed.), St. Martin's Press, New York, 1996, pps. 123-124, Pingree suggests that Mul. Apin, Babylonian tablets that date from 687 to 500 BC has "’an ideal calendar' in which one year contains 12 months, each of which has 30 days, and consequently exactly 360 days; a late hymn of the Rgveda refers to the same ‘ideal calendar’. And Mul.Apin describes the oscillation of the rising-point of the sun along the eastern horizon between its extremities when it is at the solstices; the same oscillation is described in the Aitareya Brahmana.’" This ideal calendar is the basis for the zodiac and its twelve signs at a mathematical level. Clearly Pingree is referring to Rig Veda I.164 as his ‘late’ hymn of the Rig Veda.


To quote from David Pingree’s "History of mathematical astronomy in India," in the Dictionary of Scientific Biography, C.S. Gillespie (ed.), pp. 533-633, Charles Scribners, New York, 1981, page 534: "In the case of the priority of the Rgveda to the brahmanas, it is not always clear that the views expressed in the latter developed historically after the composition of the former. All texts that can reasonably be dated before ca. 500 BC are here considered to represent essentially a single body of more or less uniform material." The point of his statement is to try to get such Rig Veda references as those of Dirghatamas later than the Brahmana texts as both reflect a similar sophisticated astronomy, which is necessary to make it later than the Babylonian references and a product of a Babylonian influence as he proposes. This requires reducing all the layers of Vedic literature to a more or less uniform mass at a very late date, which is contrary to almost every view of the text.

Clearly this Rig Veda hymn, which has parallels and developments in the Brahmanas (like the Shatapatha Brahmana quoted in this chapter), must be earlier and show that such ideas were much older than the Brahmanas. To maintain his late date for Vedic astrology, Pingree must assume that this hymn or its particular astronomical verses were late interpolations to the Rig Veda, around 500 BCE or about the time of the Buddha. This is rather odd because the Buddha is generally regarded as having come long after the Vedic period, while the actual text is usually dated well before 1000 BCE (some have argued even to 3000 BCE).

Even the Brahmanas, like the Upanishads that come after them, are pre-Buddhist by all accounts. Perhaps the main Vedic ritual given in the Brahmanas, the Gavamayana, follows the model of a year of 360 days and is divided into two halves based upon the solstices, showing that such an ‘ideal’ calendar was central to Vedic thought. That such an ideal calendar has its counterpart in the sky is well reflected in Vedic ideas saying that equate the days and nights with the Sun’s rays and with the stars (as we have noted in Shatapatha Brahmana with 720 Upanakshatras)*. The Brahmanas, we should also note, emphasize the Krittikas or the Pleiades as the first of the Nakshatras, reflecting an astronomical era of the Taurus equinox. The Shatapatha Brahmana notes that the Krittikas mark the eastern direction.

In addition, the hymn, its verses and commentaries on them are found in many places in Vedic literature, along with support references to Nakshatras. It cannot be reduced to a late addition but is an integral part of the text.


That being the case, a zodiac of 360 degrees and its twelvefold division are much older in India than any Greek or even Babylonian references that he has come up with.

Pingree also tries to reduce the ancient Vedic calendar work Vedanga Jyotish to 500 BCE or to a Babylonian influence. However, the internal date of this late Vedic text is of a summer solstice in Aslesha or 1300 BCE, information referenced by Varaha Mihira in his Brihat Samhita (III.1-2). "There was indeed a time when the Sun’s southerly course (summer solstice) began from the middle of the Nakshatra Aslesha and the northerly one (winter solstice) from the beginning of the Nakshatra Dhanishta. For it has been stated so in ancient works. At present the southerly course of the Sun starts from the beginning of Cancer and the other from the initial point of the sign Capricorn." The middle of Aslesha is 23 20 Cancer, while the beginning of Dhanishta (Shravishta) is 23 20 Capricorn. Calculating the precession accordingly, this is obviously a date of around 1300 BCE.


There are yet earlier references in the Vedas like Atharva Veda XIX.6.2 that starts the Nakshatras with Krittika (the Pleiades) and places the summer solstice (ayana) in Magha (00 - 13 20 Leo), showing a date before 1900 BCE. These I have examined in detail in my book Gods, Sages and Kings (Lotus Press). Clearly the Vedas show the mathematics for an early date for the zodiac as well as the precessional points of these eras long before the Babylonians or the Greeks supposedly gave them the zodiac.

It is not surprising that India could have invented the zodiac and circle of 360 degrees. After all, the decimal system and the use of zero came from India. In this regard, as early as the Yajur Veda, we find names for numbers starting with one, ten, one hundred and one thousand ending with one followed by twelve zeros (Shukla Yajur Veda XVII.2).

The Rig Veda has another cryptic verse that suggests its cosmic numerology. According to it the Cosmic Bull has four horns, three feet, two heads and seven hands (Rig Veda IV.58.3). This sounds like a symbolic way of presenting the great kalpa number of 4,320,000,000 years. Such large numbers for the universe are typical to Indian thought, but scholars such as Pingree would also ascribe them to a Babylonian origin. However, the literature suggests the opposite.

_________________
Janani Janmabhoomishcha Swargadapi Gareeyasi - Being near to your mother in your motherland is better than being in paradise

Ekavarnam yatha dugdham binnavarnasu dhenushu | tataiva dharmavaichitryam tatvam ekam param smritam ||
Just as milk is of only one colour though obtained from cows of different colours so also the peculiarities of different religious thoughts lead to the same one ultimate truth - Mahabharatha


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 12:52 am 
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Read E.W. Bullinger's "The Witness of the Stars". It will answer and respond to all the criticism about God's Word and what actually came first. By far the best researched material on this topic you will find.

http://philologos.org/__eb-tws/intro.htm

abelElElyon


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 7:22 am 
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abelElElyon wrote:
Read E.W. Bullinger's "The Witness of the Stars". It will answer and respond to all the criticism about God's Word and what actually came first. By far the best researched material on this topic you will find.

http://philologos.org/__eb-tws/intro.htm

abelElElyon

Hello abelElElyon, thank you for posting this link to Bullinger's intriguing and informative material. As per Psalm 19:1-2: "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."

Well may we ask, what is the speech that the stars pour forth?

As Bullinger notes, Job discusses the zodiac at 38:32. The great antiquity of Job is shown by its similarity to the Ludlul Bel Nimeqi of c.1700BC.

Regarding the twelve tribes and the zodiac, an old orthodox tradition, referenced in most standard commentaries on the Bible, indicates that the twelve foundation stones of the holy city, usually linked to the twelve tribes, symbolise the twelve signs of the zodiac in reverse, from Pisces to Aries. Here we see the precession of the zodiac encoded as the main eschatological hope of the Bible.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 6:38 am 
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The 12 signs are divided two ways. 1 - There are 4 element signs, fire, air, earth and water. And 2 - there are three categories, Cardinal, fixed and mutable. Thus Moses placed the stones 4 /3 in accordance with the zodiac.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:24 am 
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Dear Robert Tulip,

I so enjoyed your post! I've just recently learned about the "Voice" that you mention and how it is heard throughout the Universe. I can't help but praise the Maker for His wonderful ways because of it. There are so many ways to describe it but you did so well with:

Psalm 19:1-2: "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."

Recently I found myself reading an article that said that the human race was created by aliens in their DNA labs. It said that there had been many sites discovered in the four corners area of Southwestern United States of crashed alien space ships that had human body parts scattered about. But then I remembered the "Voice" and what a comfort to know that the Maker will not be trumped by anyone or anything, and that the Voice declares this to all that will hear.

Romans 10:38

But I ask, have they not heard? Yes, they have. The holy writings say, `Their voice has gone out all over the earth. And their words have gone out all over the world.'

So interesting what you say about the precession and how I wish I knew more or where to find out more about what you meant by eschatological (end times or ultimate destiny of mankind) hope of the Bible in regards to the twelve foundation stones .


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 12, 2010 1:27 pm 
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Lascaux cave paintings
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lascaux_cave

What the Lascaux Cave Paintings Tell Us About How Our Ancestors Understood the Stars

Quote:
"Lascaux is a World Heritage Site and late Upper Paleolithic cave complex in southwestern France that belongs to the Magdalenian Culture. Lascaux’s cave paintings were made c.15–18,000 B.C. The sophistication of the Lascaux cave paintings is extraordinary when considered against their great antiquity. Their subtlety, complexity of technique and metaphor are qualities we can immediately relate to. The full articulation of this cave art reveals a mind akin to our own. If time and language barriers could be set aside, it is very possible that Magdalenian people of the late Upper Paleolithic would understand us, and that in return we could understand them."...

Quote:
"...Mathematical aspects in late Upper Paleolithic mythopoetics derived from observational astronomy. Some cave paintings recorded an understanding of the path the moon takes around the sun – the ecliptic. An understanding of the ecliptic leads to the discovery of the zodiac, the annual path of the sun through the celestial sphere. A construct for the zodiac then follows, in which it is divided into twelve sections later known as ‘houses’."

So the 12 signs gets pushed back from around 3,200 BCE to c.15-18,000 BCE and we see the 12 signs of the zodiac run right on down through various religions all the way to the Christian Revelation with it's graphic imagery given in terms of twelves, which is simply following an old, old, tradition of seeing the heavens (ecliptic) as sacred.

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The Jesus Mythicist Creed:
The "Jesus Christ" of the New Testament is a fictional composite of characters, real and mythical. A composite of multiple "people" is no one.

ZG Part 1
Jesus: Hebrew Human or Mythical Messiah?


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 2:45 am 
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zekeman wrote:
Dear Robert Tulip, I so enjoyed your post! I've just recently learned about the "Voice" that you mention and how it is heard throughout the Universe. ...So interesting what you say about the precession and how I wish I knew more or where to find out more about what you meant by eschatological (end times or ultimate destiny of mankind) hope of the Bible in regards to the twelve foundation stones .

Thanks Zekeman for your kind comments. There are several threads in this forum where the eschatological dimension of astrotheology is discussed in some depth. Have a look at my conversation with Tat Tvam Asi at viewtopic.php?f=16&t=2577 where we investigate the holy city and the tribulation in terms of astrophysics and mythology.

My opinion is that this material, although clearly present in the ancient texts, is very new as a form of biblical study. I have not seen it presented clearly in published books. The claim about the twelve jewels has never been published to my knowledge, and my efforts to discuss it with Christians have met nothing but scorn and rejection. The depth of "Christian" bigotry towards anything perceived as "heresy", especially the effort to see God in nature, is quite intense, irrational and unbiblical.

One of the best books on myth and precession, Hamlet's Mill by Santillana and von Dechend, published in 1969, does not even mention the New Testament, although our discussions here shows there is abundant material for study of the astral framework of the gospels.

You might also care to look at my comments on astrotheology in the Gospel of John, and on The Gas Giant Planets, The Holy City and the Great Year, also in this forum.

I am very interested in the astronomical physical context for precession. Some papers on this, including the study of the gas giants, are at my website rtulip.net

Kind Regards

Robert Tulip


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