4. Pisces & Aries
The Heavens Declare: constellations as prophecy
The Heavens Declare: constellations as prophecy
Simeon / Pisces (Gen 49:5-7)
The third "chapter" in the Book of the Redeemed is Pisces, or Dagim (H. "the fishes"), a word closely connected with "multitudes", as in Gen 48:26, which can be rendered "let them grow as fishes do increase" (cf. Eze 47:9, Gen 1:28, Jn 21:6). The fish are depicted as joined by a band at the tail; one fish is facing the North Star, and the other swims against the path of the sun. The Egyptians called this sign Pi-cot Orion or Pisces Hori ("the fishes of Him that cometh"), and the Syriac name is Nuno ("the fish, lengthened out", i.e., having a posterity) — as the chosen heirs of Abraham would rival the stars in number. One of the stars of this sign is Okda (H. "the united"), and another is Al Samaca (A. "the upheld", cf. Is 41:10, "I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness"). This constellation was originally composed of only 4 or so stars.
Myth would have these fish as the metamorphosed divinities, Venus and Cupid, who changed thus to escape from the rampaging Typhon. But biblically, these "fish" are the heirs of the covenant of the faith of Abraham, and we have two fish because there are two groups who are saved: the Old and the New Testament saints, those for whom the Crucifixion was future, and those for whom it is past. Abarbanel, a 15th century Jewish explicator of Daniel, declares that Pisces always refers to Israel, although we must include all the ancient saints, from Adam and Enoch to John the baptizer; indeed, those saved during the years of the Tribulation should also be included here, but that is another topic entirely. We may consider one of the fish as a symbol for
The first decan is the band which unites the fish, called Al Risha (A. "the band" or "bridal"); it was called U-or ("He cometh") by the Egyptians. This bond is held, as it were, by the extended limb of Aries the Lamb. It is a leash as well, which collars the hideous Cetus, as we will see. In the sea which is the world, only those who are lost accept no restraint, following their own ungoverned impulses; those who are chosen for salvation are constrained — this is the meaning of the parable of the net (Mt 13:47). Remember also Hos 11:4, “I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love; and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws.” This decan originally had about 5 dim stars.
The next sign is the woman Andromeda. But here she is chained hand and foot, menaced at her feet by the serpents of Medusa. This is the woman symbolizing
The final decan of Pisces is Cepheus, from a Hebrew word for "branch". In
The story of Pisces, then, is of a multitude, bound yet sustained (Band), promised a heritage by Him who comes. We find the chained woman, broken, weak, smitten (Andromeda) — awaiting the coming king (Cepheus). The link with Simeon ("hearing and obeying") is found in the binding of the two fish, compared with the binding together in cruelty, fierce anger, willfulness and wrath of Simeon and Levi (Gen 49:5-7); just as God will "divide" them (v. 7), so the restraints of the fish will be severed when they have learned mercy.
Gad / Aries (Deut 33:20-21)
The final ‘chapter’ deals with Taleh (H. "the lamb), Al Hamal (A. "the sheep" or "gentle, merciful"), or Amroo, Syriac for "lamb"; this is the root found in Jn 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” We know it as Aries, the Ram, but Aryan means "the Chief". The most ancient language of Babylon knew it as Barazigar ("sacrifice which justifies"), and the Egyptian name was Tametouris Ammon, meaning "the government of Ammon", where it was represented not with horns, but rather a circular crown — not dying, like the Goat, but full of vigor. It is this gentle ruling victim of Whom it is said (), “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.” In the Lamb's head, the major star is El Nath ("wounded"), in the left horn is Al Sheratan ("the bruised"), and nearby is Mesartim (H. "the bound"); above its head was a stellar triangle, the principal star of which means "the Head, uplifted". Gad ("seer") is linked to the Ram (the Lamb with seven eyes) when it is shown with either horns or with a crown, by the blessing of Moses: the horns are figures of stretched-out arms (Deut 33:20‑21). Of its 66 stars, a mere 3 were formerly visible.
In Greek myth, this lamb rescued on its back two children from divine wrath; their mother was Nephele ("cloud"), ruler of
The first decan of this Lamb depicts Cassiopeia ("the enthroned" or "the beautiful"), a woman not bound like Andromeda, but ruling; she is offered the scepter by her husband, Cepheus, enthroned immediately to her right. The Arabic name is El Seder ("the freed"), and also Ruchba ("the enthroned"); this is also the meaning of her Egyptian name — the same as that of Andromeda — Set; the Chaldean name, Dat al Cursa, had the same meaning. The ancients sometimes called this sign "the daughter of splendor", and, indeed, she assures her beauty with one hand tending to her robe and the other arranges her hair while holding a cluster of branches. We read directly of her in Is 62:2-4: “You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will name. You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your god. You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called Hephzibah ["my delight is in her"], and your land Beulah ["married"] . . .” In Ezekiel (16:14) we read “'Thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty; for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I put upon thee,' saith the Lord.” Its primary star, in the left breast, is Shedar ("the liberated"), also called Ruchbah and Dat al Cursa, both meaning "the enthroned". At the top of the chair is Caph ("the branch"). Of its 55 modern stars, only 10 were originally seen.
The largest of all the constellations comes next: Cetus, the scaly-headed, whale-bodied monster of the sea, the enemy of fishes, crouching at the horizon, hovering over the bottomless pit which is its destiny (Rev 20:1-3); it is also called Knem, Egyptian for "subdued". The creature is shown bound with that same band which binds the Fishes. This is that Leviathan of Job 41:1-10: “Canst thou draw out Leviathan with a fish hook? Or press down his tongue with a cord? Canst thou put a rope into his nose? . . .” While Job cannot do anything at all, yet God, “with His sore and great and strong sword, shall punish Leviathan, the piercing serpent . . . ; and He shall slay the dragon that is in the sea” — (Is 27:1). Its tremendous head is trodden upon by the charging Bull, Taurus; this is a symbol for that event in the Bible (Ps 74:14): “Thou brakest the head of the dragons in the waters. Thou brakest the heads of Leviathan in pieces.” Its major star is located in the upper jaw, called Menkar, "the bound enemy", and in the tail is Diphda, "thrust down". Most evocatively, in the neck shines Mira "the rebel": a brilliant, variable — that is, inconstant — star which disappears one about every 300 days (7 times every 6 years); how appropriate a symbol of the enemy, whether subtle serpent (Gen 3:8) or roaring lion (1P 5:8) or angel of light (2Cor 11:14) — changing from form to form, to poison, pounce and pervert. Of this constellation's 97 stars, only 19 were seen in the original pattern.
Finally, the third decan of Aries is Peretz ("the breaker", cf. Micah — “The Breaker is gone up before them . . . the Lord is at the head of them”). In
In the final chapter of the Book of the Redeemed, then, we find the merciful, harmless sheep, wounded but vital (Aries). We find the woman freed from bondage and raised to glory (Cassiopeia), the enemy cast low and subdued (Cetus), and its conqueror shown in victory (Perseus).
And so ends this middle "book" itself, which opened with the goat and ends with the ram, with the center images connected with fishes. In it we find the "chapters" of the sacrificed Goat (Capricorn), the life-giving Man (Aquarius), the Multitudes who are blessed (Pisces), and the favored ones who rule with the Lamb (Ares). We find the blessing procured by the sacrifice, ensured by the provider, awaiting the inheritance, and enjoyed by the blessed.
.Arm is "stretched out" in 6 of the 8 times the word is used in Deuteronomy.