3. Capricorn & Aquarius
The Heavens Declare: constellations as prophecy
The Heavens Declare: constellations as prophecy
Naphtali / Capricorn (Gen 49:21, 33:23)
The second "book" deals with the effect of the First Coming — it is the Book of the Redeemed. Its first ‘chapter’ deals with the sign of the Goat: Capricorn ("Goat", but also "atonement") or Gedi (H. "the kid" and "cut off"). The goat, of course, was the animal of the sin-offering (Lev , , ; Is 53:5). This Goat is anciently shown as fallen, with the body of a vigorous fish — as in
The pagan myth, or corruption, of the original meaning of this sign has not totally obscured the true theme. It was said that when Typhon sprang upon an assembly of the gods, Bacchus was forced to find refuge in a river, assuming the unlikely form of a goat; where the water touched, the mutable god was transformed accordingly. We may interpret this absurdity by realizing that in response to the power and attack of evil, Jesus became the Sacrifice, immersed in the waters of death yet remaining alive. The tail of the fish is a symbol of life and of the blesséd. Thus we read of the multiplying of the loaves and fishes, and that (Jer ,16) God “will send for fishers, and they shall fish them”, and of (Ezek 47:1-9) “the very great multitude of fish”, and of (Rev 13:1) the “fishers of men” from the sea of the world. The symbol of the fish used by modern Christians is simply a revival of the ancient acrostic of the Greek word for "fish", ICHTHYS, standing for Iesous Christos, Theou Hyios, Soter, or "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior". We may consider, then, Capricorn to be a metaphor meaning that the end (tail) of the sacrifice (goat) is life (fish).
The first decan is Sham (H. "destroying") or Sagitta, the Arrow. It appears out of nowhere, flying at the heart of ‘Pegasus’, meant to pierce the Returning King. It is the arrow of unmerited affliction, as of Job (6:4): “The arrows of the Almighty are within me.” Consider Ps 38:2: “Thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore.” It is also God's wounding of Himself (Is 49:2): “He hath hid Me, and made Me a sharpened arrow; in His quiver hath He hid Me.” (Note that an "arrow in a quiver" is a biblical symbol for one's child, cf. Ps 127:5.) Of the 18 or so visible stars in this sign, only four dim stars were seen by the first patriarchs.
The second decan is
The final decan of Capricorn is called Dalaph, "pouring out of water" (cf. Is 53:12, "He poured out His soul unto death"); in Arabic its several names mean "coming quickly" and "flowing swift" (cf. Rev 22:20, "Surely I am coming quickly"). We would know the sign as Delphinus, the Dolphin, which is always depicted with its head raised in vibrant life; consider how the dolphin leaps from the sea, a picture of resurrection from death — “All thy waves and thy billows are gone over me” (Ps 42:7). The work started by the sacrifice of Capricorn is shown completed in the Dolphin. The benevolence of dolphins was well-known in the ancient world, so much so that the most famous oracle, that of beautiful Apollo, was called
So, in this ‘chapter’ we have the sin-offering who partakes of life (Capricorn); we have the arrow of affliction (Sagitta), the royal soarer pierced in the heel (Aquila), and the poured-out, swiftly-coming, life-possessing One (Delphinus). The link between Naphtali and Capricorn is not obvious but implied. The sacrifice of the Goat as sin-offering brings the exhilaration of the carefree but often hunted deer, and the arrows of affliction become words of beauty (Gen 49:21); the wounded eagle is raised to greatest favor, and the pouring out of the waters results in the possession of the land (Deut 33:23).
Ruben / Aquarius (Gen 49:3-4)
The second ‘chapter’ is Aquarius, the Water-bearer, depicted as pouring out water into the mouth of a fish (the blessed). The Egyptians called the sign Hupei Tirion ("the place of him coming down"), represented by a man with two urns, with the fish seeming to have emerged from one; the Hebrew name is Deli ("the water-urn" — cf. Num 24:7), which is consistent with some zodiacs of the East, which represent only the urns. The chief star, in the right shoulder, is Sa'ad al Melik ("the record of the out-pouring"). The next brightest, in the other shoulder, is Saad al Sund ("who goeth and returned" or "the pourer out"); another star, in the right leg, is named Scheat (which also means "who goeth and returneth"). The star of the urn is Mon (Egyptian for "an urn"). Consider the words of Jesus to the Samaritan woman (Jn 4). One-hundred and eight stars are now visible in Aquarius, but originally it had only about 11 or so.
Mythology associated the Water-bearer with Ganymede, that most beautiful cup-bearer who was swept into heaven on eagle's wings. Even through the Classical perversions of the myth, we can distinguish the truth. There are numerous biblical allusions to this office: “If any man thirst, let him come to Me, and drink” (Jn ); “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thy offspring. . . .Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his Redeemer the Lord of Hosts (Is 44:3,4).” In the days of Messiah, “My doctrine shall drop as the rain” (Deut 32:2), and there will be “a fountain to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of
The first decan is that fish of the urn, called Pisces Australis, the Southern Fish; the Egyptians called it
In Egyptian records, the sign of the second decan is marked by the characters pe and ka; in Hebrew, peka means "chief" and sus means "horse" and also "swiftly returning". We know it as Pegasus, the Winged Horse. How much more rational is this etymology, than that given by, say, Robert Graves, who has Pegasus meaning "of the wells" — although the idea of a "gushing fountain" is not alien to the true message. In the neck by the wings, the brightest star is Markab (H. "returning"). Next, in the shoulder, is Scheat (as in Aquarius already, meaning "who goeth and returneth"). At the tip of the wing is Al Genib (A. "who carries"). In the nostril is Enif (A. "the water" or "branch"), and finally, Matar (A. "who causes to overflow") is found in the near leg. Altogether there are 89 stars, but formerly only 15.
The last decan of Aquarius is Cygnus, the Swan; it was called by the Egyptians Tes-ark ("this from afar"). This bird is not wounded as was the Eagle, but is in powerful flight; as a swan, however, it would soon be coming to earth, on land or water. In the heavens, the stars of this constellation describe a perfect cross. At the center of the sign is Deneb ("the judge", as in Capricorn), also called
The story of the Water-carrier speaks of giving the most necessary substance of life to those in need — as fish need water. He comes down only to return, pouring out the water as a stream (Pisces Australis). We also find combined together the two clearest symbols of speed — wings and the horse — carrying Him who returns as from a far country to pour out abundance (Pegasus); complementing this provision, we find swift justice, the judge coming from afar, making his circuit in glory (Cygnus).
.R. Graves, Vol. 2, p. 304.