2. Scorpio & Sagittarius
Dan / Scorpio (Gen 49:17)
The third "chapter" is Scorpio, poised to strike the Serpent Holder; it is called Akrab (Hebrew and Arabic: "scorpion" and also "wounding" or "the conflict", the root found in Ps 144:1). Job (9:9) calls this sign "the Chambers of the South", referring to its opposition to Taurus and the Pleiades, directly across the sky. The Greek name of Scorpio was Chelai ("the Claws"), the Coptic name was Isidis ("oppression", cf. Ps 17:9), and another Egyptian name was Zugon ("the yoke"). The Akkadian name was Gir-tab, "the Seizer and Stinger" — reaching out to take hold of the Altar of Libra. The Greeks identified Scorpio with Typhon (Python), hundred-headed father of the multi-headed dog of hell, the Hydra, and the three-headed, fire-breathing Chimera. The brightest star is red — located at the heart — named in Arabic Antares ("tearing"). The star of the tail is Lesath (H. "the perverse"). The ancients considered a scorpion sting to be the most excruciating of all pain. The tribe of Dan ("judge") is linked to Scorpio by being “a serpent by the way, a viper by the path, that bites the horse's heels”. Altogether, this constellation has 44 stars, but it had 21 when it was designed.
Stretching toward "the Crown" is the first decan of Scorpio, Serpens (the Serpent) or Khu (Egyptian for "ruled" or "enemy"). This Serpent is restrained by a powerful man, and bludgeoned by heroic Hercules. Its major star, in the neck, is Unuk ("encoiling"), also called Alyah (H. "the accursed") and Al Hay (A. "the reptile"). Next in brightness, in the jaw, is Chelbalrai (A. "the serpent enfolding").
The serpent is trapped and twisting in the grip of the second decan, Ophiuchus (Gr: "the serpent holder") — called in Latin Serpentarius, and in Arabic, Cheleb Afei (with same meaning). The tableau is of Scorpio grasping at the Altar, but crushed while stinging the foot of this Man who strangles the Serpent; compare Lk 10:19, “I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy.” The Greeks called this man Æsculapius, that divine figure so closely linked with the serpent. The most important aspect of Æsculapius was his healing power, symbolized by his being the father of seven children (attributes): Healer, Physician, Desired One, Health-giver, Beautifier, Cure-bringer, and All-remedy. Æsculapius was said to have raised the dead with blood from the side of Justice, mixed with that of the slain monster, Gorgon; he himself died from a blow of heaven — yet after suffering this curse he rose again, glorified. The Egyptian image is Api-bau ("the coming king") — a man with the head of a hawk (enemy of serpents), seated on a throne. The brightest star of this Holder, in the head, is Ras al Hagus (A. "the head of the holder"). Unidentified stars in these two decans have Hebrew names meaning "treading under foot", "bruised" (located in the man's foot), "the wounding", and "contending". Together, these two decans contain 134 visible stars, but the patriarchs could have seen only 29.
Finally, the third decan is Hercules, or Al Giscale (A. "the strong one"), and in
Consider Ps 91:13: “Thou shalt tread upon the lion and the adder. The young lion and the dragon (serpent) shalt Thou trample under foot”. Consider Rev 12:4, where the Dragon sweeps the sky with its tail. Consider Rev 9:3, where demons wreak destruction as with the tails of scorpions. Thus, in Scorpio, we have the Coming One's oppressive, perverse wounder (Serpens), trodden upon by the Coming King (Ophiuchus), the lion slayer, who breaks with his hands the coiling adversary; thus we find, shattering the three-heads of a monster, the Mighty One who comes even though wounded for the sins of others (Hercules).
Asher/Sagittarius (Gen 49:20 Deut 33:24‑25)
The final chapter in the Book of the First Coming is Sagittarius, the Archer — called Toxotes in Greek, and in Hebrew, Kesith ("the archer" — cf. Gen 21:20); in Arabic it is Al Kaus ("the arrow"), in Egyptian, Pimaere ("graciousness" or "the beauty of coming forth"), and in the Akkadian of ancient Babylonia, Nun-ki ("Prince of the Earth"). The constellation depicts a centaur (also identified as Cheiron), and a hieroglyph beneath the rear foot reads Knem ("He conquers"). His arrow is aimed at the heart of Scorpio. Sagittarius is supposed to be relatively recent, but Berosus states that its image was in the
The first decan of the Archer is Gnasor in Hebrew, known to us as Lyra, the Harp — the instrument of praise. The Harp is sometimes held by an eagle, and its Egyptian image, in fact, was of a hawk, and called Fent-kar ("the serpent is ruled"). The most brilliant star in this harp is the radiant Vega ("exalted", from which root our word "victory" derives). Its next two brightest stars are Shelyuk (H. "an eagle") and Sulaphat ("ascending"). We have the praises of the exalted Conqueror, rising up on the wings of an eagle. It originally had only about 5 stars.
The second decan is Ara (L., "the Altar" — in Greek, "cursing"), and it is the lowest of the constellations, its fires pointing into the abyss of the outer darkness, pouring, as it were, into the Lake of Fire. Ara has the sense of "prayer", but even more, it “connects directly with the Hebrew mara and
Like all the final decans of the Book of the First Coming, the third decan of Sagittarius marks the victory of God. The Egyptian image is Her-fent ("the serpent accursed"), and the modern sign, beneath the feet of Hercules, is the Dragon (Draco, re H. dahrach, "to tread") as he is cast out of heaven. We might think of the Dragon as the "Tyrannosaurus Rex", not just for its kingly name, but because of its unparalleled reputation for fierceness; where the Serpent is cunning and deceitful, the Dragon is a symbol of earthly empire, violent and defiant. This is the dragon which hoarded the Golden Apples, and lost them and its life to Hercules. The various aspects of this evil being are integrated of course, as by the chief star, Thuban (H. "the subtle") — said to have been the Pole Star. Thus, the commotion, the casting down, is symbolized by the changing of the pole star: the heavens have been shaken, and the Dragon has lost his place. See Rev 12:9, “The great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out and his angels with him.” In its fall, it swept away a third of the stars. The next brightest star, in the head, is Rastaban (H. "head of the subtle"), Al Waid (A. "who is to be destroyed"), or Al Dib ("the reptile"); the third brightest star is Etanin (H. "the long serpent"). Unidentified stars have names in Hebrew meaning "the subtle" and "the punished enemy"; Arabic names mean "the fraudful" and "the bowed down". Of the 80 stars now visible in Draco, 21 are original.
The final chapter, then, tells of the beautiful, mounted Archer coming in victory (Sagittarius), his praises rising high (Lyra), his enemies scourged and eternally in fire (Altar), his enemy revealed, humbled and thrown down (Draco). The link to Asher ("the blessed going forth") is in the general presentation of the exalted conqueror enjoying the prosperity of victory (Gen 49:20), anointed even on his feet, shod in proven bronze and mighty iron (Deut 33:24‑25). So ends the Book of the First Coming, the book of the virgin birth (Virgo), the price paid (Libra), the enemy defeated (Scorpio), and the victory won (Sagittarius).
.The word here for "dragon" is used 15 times in the Bible, as in Is 27:1 ("He shall slay the dragon that is in the sea"), or Eze 29:3 ("Behold, I am against you, O Pharaoh king of Egypt, O great monster that lieth in the midst of his rivers").
.Scholiast, Lycophron, v. 120; in Hislop, p. 42.
.Seiss, p. 56; italics his.