6. Cancer & Leo
The Heavens Declare: constellations as prophecy
1. Virgo & Libra
2. Scorpio & Sagittarius
3. Capricorn & Aquarius
4. Pisces & Aries
5. Taurus & Gemini
6. Cancer & Leo
Issachar / Cancer (Gen 49:14-15)
The third "chapter" of the Book of the Second Coming was called by the Egyptians Klaria, "cattle-fold". In Arabic it is called Al Sartan ("who holds" — the same meaning as the Syriac name). The Akkadian name was shared with its month, called Su-kul-na ("the seizer" or "possessor of seed"). Again, in Greek the name was Karkinos ("encircling" or "holding"), which is also the meaning of its Latin name, Cancer (Khan-Ker is "inn-encircled" or "rest-secured" in Arabic); from this ‘circle’ derives its ancient and modern image, the Crab. A crab, in its changing of smaller shells for larger — weaker bodies for better — is a not inept portrait of the saints of the resurrection, who lay off "the body of this death" to be "clothed upon with our house which is from heaven". A similar metaphor was used in
Cancer's brightest star is in what is now the tail, called Tegmine ("holding"). In the larger, lower "claw" is Acubene ("hiding place"). Another of its stars is called in Arabic Ma'alaph ("assembled thousands") and Al Himarein ("the lambs"). Contained within the ‘fold’ is a bright nebula now called "the Beehive", whose ancient name was Præsepe, "a multitude" or "offspring". The Romans saw it as a manger within a camp, recalling back to the identification of Cancer as a Cattle-fold. Above and below this nebula are the stars Asellus Bareas and Asellus Australis, "the northern and the southern ass" — it is this which tells us that Cancer is linked to the tribe of Issachar ("recompense"). In Gen 49:14 we read: “Issachar is a strong donkey, lying down between two burdens [or sheepfolds — Jdg ]”; the link is furthered in Deut 33:18‑19, when we consider the tents and wealth of caravaning merchants. Of its 83 stars, a mere 8 could be seen by the pre-Flood patriarchs.
As in the decans of Gemini, all the constellations of the "Cancer" group have had their original images distorted. Just as "the Cattle-Fold" was corrupted into "the Crab", so the first decan was originally "the Lesser Fold" — known to us as "the Little Dipper", or Ursa Minor ("the Little Bear"). Another Latin name was Septentriones, the "seven which revolve" — from which the Romans arrived at their word for ‘north’; the Arabs noted its rotation in the name Ogilah, "going round". Other names were Kochab ("the star" or "waiting the coming"), Al Pherkadain ("the calves" or "the redeemed"), Al Gedi ("the kid"), and Al Kaid ("the assembled"). Obviously, the original meaning had nothing to do with bears. We might better find in these Seven Stars the Seven Churches of John's Revelation, gathered around the Throne. The confusion with a Bear arose from the similarity between the Hebrew words for "fold" (dohver) and "bear" (dohv) — a similarity retained in both Arabic and Persian. Thus the Greeks replaced the fold with the bear — an obvious corruption, as one glance at the smaller Bear's freakishly long tail proves, ridiculously extended to end at the Pole Star.
Indeed, the Pole Star is the brightest of the constellation's stars, called Al Ruccaba ("turned" or "ridden on"); it is Cynosure in Greek, after which the entire constellation was called (the Greeks took the name from Mesopotamia, An-nas-sur-ra, meaning something like "on high"). As we saw, the pivot of heaven, the pole, was once possessed by the Dragon, but now resides within the haven of the Righteous, who “possesses the gate of his enemies.” Next in brightness is Kochab ("awaiting Him who cometh"). Another star is Arctos ("the stronghold of the saved"), from which derives ‘arctic’. There are now 24 stars in this sign, of which 7 are original.
Beneath the Lesser Flock we find "the Greater Fold" (cf. Lk ). We call the sign "the Big Dipper", and more formally as Ursa Major, "The Great Bear". The seven brightest stars were called by the rabbis Ash, which in the Bible (cf. Job 9:9) is translated as "the Bear and her train", or sometimes rendered "Arcturus and his sons" (as in the third decan of Virgo, ‘Arcturus’ means "He cometh"). It is also called Al Naish (A. "the assembled together"). The Egyptian image was of a swine-headed woman holding a plow, and named Fent-Har, "The Serpent-horrifier"; when we recall how violently a pig tears up the earth, and how dangerous it is to snakes, then both the plow and the name become understandable. The Greeks said the nymph Callisto was transformed into this bear by Juno, but this is an etymological confusion, since Caulae is a semitic root meaning, once again, "sheepfold".
The brightest star is on the ‘lip’ of the Dipper, called Dubheh in Hebrew, meaning "a herd of cattle" (akin to "security" and to the Akkadian word for "wealth"); its Arabic name is Dubhe (A. "flock" — another name for the entire constellation). Next, directly below, is Merach (H. "the flock", and A. "purchased"). Directly to the left is Phaeda ("guarded" or "numbered"), and the star above, completing the square, was probably called El Kaphrah (A. "protected", H. "ransomed"). Just to the left along the ‘handle’ of the Dipper is Alioth ("she-goat", as that held by the Shepherd, third decan of Taurus); half-way down the handle is star Mizar ("separate"), immediately next is Al Cor ("lamb"), and at the tip is Benet Naish (A. "daughters of the assembly"). Other, unidentified stars had names meaning "the latter flock", "the appointed sheep-fold", "multitude", "assembled", "separated", and "band of travellers". Of the 87 stars currently visible in this sign, only 18 are original.
The final decan of Cancer is called Argo (another word meaning "band of travellers"). It shares its name with the ship of Jason, who recovered the lost treasure from the coveting serpent; this myth was imposed upon the original sign which told a similar story, of Him who defeated the dragon, dried the seas and made a way of crossing for the redeemed (Is 51:9‑11). The Ship is shown as having two galley decks, each with a ram's-head prow; the stern ends in the tail of a fish. The Egyptian image preserved from Dendera is called Shes-en-Fent ("rejoicing upon the serpent"): a mighty corralled ox, wearing around its neck the Egyptian cross of life. The Persian image shows three virgins, strolling in safety. At the keel, the most prominent star is the helmsman
In Isaiah (60:4‑5,9) we have the same pictures:
“Lift up your eyes all around, and see: they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be nursed at your side. Then you shall see and become radiant, and your heart shall swell with joy, because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, [and] the wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you. . . . Surely the coastlands shall wait for Me; and the ships of Tarshish will come first, to bring your sons from afar, their silver and their gold with them, to the name of the Lord your God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because He has glorified you.”
And again (Is 35:10): “The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to
And so, in Cancer, the true picture is of the safety of the Shepherd's Fold which hides the multitude of lambs. We have the Lesser Fold, the assembly of the redeemed, harboring those who partook in the heavenly calling, who awaited a heavenly city ("Ursa Minor"); it circles round the heavens' center, which is no longer the hold of the Dragon but now the stronghold of the little flock. Again, we find the Seven Stars (cf. ,20), the appointed sheepfold of the latter flock, purchased, separated out, numbered and guarded ("Ursa Major"). Finally, we find the two folds again represented in the two decks of that
Judah / Leo (Gen 49:8-12)
Finally, the last of all the signs, and the last "chapter" the Book of the Second Coming, deals with Leo, or in Hebrew Arieh, the hunting Lion. In Syriac the name is Aryo ("the rending lion") and in Arabic Al Asad ("the lion leaping"). This Lion is treading upon the constellation of the fleeing serpent, Hydra. John (Rev 5:5) has recorded this truth: “Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed . . .” Again, in Hosea (13:7,8) we find that God “will be unto them as a lion. I will rend the caul of their heart. I will devour them like a lion.” The Egyptian image is of a lion crushing a serpent (Hydra) which has a bird (Corvus) perched and feeding on its body; below, a female figure holds out two cups (Crater); knem, the word for "conquered", is written underneath. The Egyptian name of this constellation is Pi-mentekeon, meaning "the pouring out", as of wrath. At the heart of the lion is the brightest star, Regulus ("treading under foot"). Next, at the end of the tail, is Denebola ("the hastening judge"). In the mane is Al Giebha ("the exaltation"), and on the back is Zosma ("shining forth"). Other stars have names meaning "the judge cometh who seizes", "the punishing from the lion", and "the enemy put down". A final star is Sarcam, meaning "joining" or ‘the joint’, indicating the boundary between the beginning and end of the constellations. Of the Lion's 95 visible stars, only 22 were seen in the original design. The link between Judah and the Lion is too obvious to need to expand upon.
Beneath the Lion, and the Cattle-Fold which is Cancer, the leviathan Hydra twists toward the Prince Who Crushes (Canis Minor). Hydra means "he is abhorred", and just as the leviathan Cetus is the largest of the constellations, so Hydra, "Leviathan, the crooked serpent", is the longest, spanning almost a third of the equator of the heavens; it seems likely that this is the dragon which swept away a third of the stars from heaven. The Lion attacks this monster, mirroring Psalm 74: “God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth, breaking the heads of the dragons in the waters . . .” The Hydra of myth had a hundred regenerating heads, and was slain only with the use of fire. Its major star is at the heart of the monster, called Al Phard (A. "put away"); another star, probably in its head, is Minchar al Sugia ("the tearing of the deceiver"), and yet another is called Al Drian ("the abhorred"). Sixteen of the 60 visible stars were seen in the sky of the pre-Flood night.
The second decan of the Lion is known as Crater, the Cup. This is the “cup of His indignation” (), and as to its dregs, “all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out and drink them” — Ps 75:8 (cf. ). Of its 13 stars, only three were originally seen, two at its base. In the Egyptian zodiac, the woman holding the two cups was called Her-ua, meaning "great enemy"; these cups would be the same two bright stars which go to make the base of the single cup, which is shown as wide and deep, embedded in the very body of the serpent. This is a mirror of the image of Rev 17:4, where the Great Harlot sits enthroned on the back of the scarlet beast, drinking from the cup of abominations.
Last of all the images is Corvus, or Oreb, the "Raven", shown feasting on the monstrous Hydra. The Egyptian name for this bird was Her-na, "the enemy-failing". The biblical image is well-formed of unclean birds feasting on the wicked: David (1S 17:46) promises to Goliath that “I will smite thee, and take thy head from thee; and I will give the carcasses of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air . . .”; Proverbs (30:17) tells us that the “eye that mocketh at his father . . . the ravens of the valley shall pick it out . . .”; from The Revelation (19:18) we have the picture of an angel in the sun, “calling with a great voice to all the fowls and birds of prey to come and feast themselves on the flesh of the enemy.” The primary star is in the eye, called Al Chibar (rendered either "the curse inflicted" or "joining together" — related to H. "accursed", Num 23:8). In the right wing is Al Goreb ("the raven"), and another star was called Minchar al Gorab ("the raven tearing to pieces"). Perhaps 6 of its 9 stars were seen in the first edition of the zodiac.
The story which the constellations of Leo tells, then, is of the actual vanquishing of the enemies of God. We find the rending Lion (Leo), the pierced deceiver (Hydra), the cup of wrath (Crater) and the disposing of the corpse (Corvus).
The final book — the Second Coming — deals with the coming Judge (Taurus), His double nature (Gemini), the taking of His inheritance (Cancer), and his final His triumph (Leo).
The first "book" deals with the First Coming (birth and death, adversity and victory), the second with redemption itself (the blessings procured, ensured, awaited, and realized,) and the third with the Second Coming (the judgment, reign, kingdom, and final victory). In each book, the first chapter deals with the Person, the last with the victory, and the middle two with the grace and the conflict of the Savior. Again, the last decan of the first book — of the First Coming — shows the Dragon, cast down; the second-from-last decan of the second book — of the Redeemed — shows Leviathan, bound; the third-from-last decan of the third book — of the Second Coming — shows Hydra, the old Serpent, destroyed. Many such parallels may be found.
.Bullinger, p. 152.