by E.W. Bullinger

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Introduction | Table of Contents | Chapter 2

The Witness of the Stars
E. W. Bullinger

The First Book
The Redeemer
(His First Coming)
"The sufferings of Christ"

The First Book is occupied with the PERSON of the Coming One. It covers the whole ground, and includes the conflict and the victory of the Promised Seed, but with special emphasis on His Coming. The book opens with the promise of His coming, and it closes with the Dragon cast down from heaven.

Chapter I
The Sign Virgo
The Promised Seed of the woman

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1. Virgo (the Virgin)

Here is the commencement of all prophecy in Genesis 3:15, spoken to the serpent: "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel." This is the prophetic announcement which the Revelation in the heavens and in the Book is designed to unfold and develop. It lies at the root of all the ancient traditions and mythologies, which are simply the perversion and corruption of primitive truth.

VIRGO is represented as a woman with a branch in her right hand, and some ears of corn in her left hand. Thus giving a two-fold testimony of the Coming One.

The name of this sign in the Hebrew is Bethulah, which means a virgin, and in the Arabic a branch. The two words are connected, as in Latin--Virgo, which means a virgin; and virga, which means a branch (Vulg. Isa 11:1). Another name is Sunbul, Arabic, an ear of corn.

In Genesis 3:15 she is presented only as a woman; but in later prophecies her nationality is defined as being of the stock of Israel, the seed of Abraham, the line of David; and, further, she is to be a virgin. There are two prominent prophecies of her and her seed: one is connected with the first coming in incarnation, Isaiah 7:14 (quoted in Matthew 1:23).

"Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
And shall call his name Immanuel."

The other is connected with His second coming, leaping over the sufferings and this present interval of His rejection, and looking forward to His coming in glory and judgment, Isaiah 9:6, 7 (quoted in Luke 2:11 and 1 :32, 33).

"For unto us a child is born,
Unto us a son is given; *
And the government shall be upon His shoulder;
And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government there shall be no end.
Upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom,
To order it, and to establish it
With judgment and with justice
From henceforth even for ever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this."

* Here, the fact of His humiliation, together with this long period of His rejection, is leaped over,  and the prophecy  passes on at once--over at least a period of 1893 years--to this "glory which should follow."

It is difficult to separate the Virgin and her Seed in the prophecy; and so, here, we have first the sign VIRGO, where the name points to her as the prominent subject; while in the first of the three constellations of this sign, where the woman appears again, the name COMA points to the child as the great subject.

Virgo contains 110 stars, viz., one of the 1st magnitude, six of the 3rd, ten of the 4th, etc.

ARATUS thus sings of them:

"Beneath Bootes feet the Virgin seek,
Who carries in her hand a glittering spike.
Over her shoulder there revolves a star
In the right wing, superlatively bright;
It rolls beneath the tail, and may compare
With the bright stars that deck the Greater Bear.
Upon her sholder one bright star is borne,
One clasps the circling girdle of her loins,
One at her bending knee; and in her hand
Glitters that bright and golden Ear of Corn.

Thus the brightest star in VIRGO (a) * has an ancient name, handed down to us in all the star-maps, in which the Hebrew word Tsemech is preserved. It is called in Arabic Al Zimach, which means the branch. This star is in the ear of corn which she holds in her left hand. Hence the star has a modern Latin name, which has almost superseded the ancient one, Spica, which means, an ear of corn. But this hides the great truth revealed by its name Al Zimach. It foretold the coming of Him who should bear this name. The same Divine inspiration has, in the written Word, four times connected it with Him. There are twenty Hebrew words translated "Branch," but only one of them (Tsemech) is used exclusively of the Messiah, and this word only four times (Jer 33:15 being only a repetition of Jer 23:5). Each of these further connects Him with one special account of Him, given in the Gospels.

* The stars are known by Greek letters and sometimes by numbers, &c. Alpha (a) denotes a star of the first magnitude; Beta (b), the second, and so on. This plan was originated by Bayer in his Uranometria, 1603. The star Alpha, as seen in the New Great Equatorial Telescope recently set up at Greenwich, is now discovered to be really a double star, though it had hitherto always appeared to be one.

(1) Jeremiah 23:5 --"Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, That I will raise unto David a righteous BRANCH (i.e., a Son), And a KING shall reign and prosper." The account of His coming as King is written in the Gospel according to Matthew, where Jehovah says to Israel, "Behold thy KING." (Zech 9:9; Matt 21:9)

(2) Zechariah 3:8--"Behold I will bring forth my SERVANT the BRANCH." In the Gospel according to Mark we find the record of Jehovah's servant and His service, and we hear Jehovah's voice saying, "Behold my SERVANT." (Isa 42:1)

(3) Zechariah 6:12--"Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the MAN whose name is the BRANCH." In the Gospel according to Luke we behold Him, presented in "the MAN Christ Jesus."

(4) Isaiah 4:2--"In that day shall the BRANCH of JEHOVAH be beautiful and glorious." So that this Branch, this Son, is Jehovah Himself; and as we read the record of John we hear the voice from heaven saying, "Behold your GOD." (Isa 40:9)

This is the Branch foretold by the star Al Zimach in the ear of corn.

The star b is called Zavijaveh, which means the gloriously beautiful, as in Isaiah 4:2. The star e, in the arm bearing the branch, is called Al Mureddin, which means who shall come down (as in Psa 72:8), or who shall have dominion. It is also known as Vindemiatrix, a Chaldee word which means the son, or branch, who cometh.

Other names of stars in the sign, are--

Subilah, who carries. (Isa 46:4)
Al Azal, the Branch. (As in Isa 18:5)
Subilon, a spike of corn. (As in Isa 17:5)

The Greeks, ignorant of the Divine origin and teaching of the sign, represented Virgo as Ceres, with ears of corn in her hand.

In the Zodiac in the Temple of Denderah, in Egypt, about 2000 BC (now in Paris), she is likewise represented with a branch in her hand, but ignorantly explained by a false religion to represent Isis! Her name is called Aspolia, which means ears of corn, or the seed, which shows that though the woman is seen, it is her Seed who is the great subject of the prophecy.

Passing to the three constellations anciently assigned to the sign VIRGO, we come to what may be compared to three sections of the chapter, each giving some further detail as to the interpretation of its teaching.

1. COMA (The Woman and Child)
The desired of all nations

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2. Coma (the Desired)

The first constellation in VIRGO explains that this coming "Branch" will be a child, and that He should be the "Desire of all nations."

The ancient name of this constellation is Comah, the desired, or the longed for. We have the word used by the Holy Spirit in this very connection, in Haggai 2:7--"The DESIRE of all nations shall come."

The ancient Zodiacs pictured this constellation as a woman with a child in her arms. ALBUMAZAR * (or ABU MASHER), an Arabian astronomer of the eighth century, says, "There arises in the first Decan **, as the Persians, Chaldeans, and Egyptians, and the two HERMES and ASCALIUS teach, a young woman whose Persian name denotes a pure virgin, sitting on a throne, nourishing an infant boy (the boy, I say), having a Hebrew name, by some nations called IHESU, with the signification IEZA, which in Greek is called CHRISTOS."

* A Latin translation of his work is in the British Museum Library. He says the Persians understood these signs, but that the Indians perverted them with inventions.

** The constellations are called Decans. The word means a part, and is used of the three parts into which each sign is divided, each of which is occupied by a constellation.

But this picture is not found in any of the modern maps of the stars. There we find today a woman's wig! It appears that BERENICE, the wife of EUERGETES (PTOLEMY III), king of Egypt in the third century BC, when her husband once went on a dangerous expedition, vowed to consecrate her fine head of hair to Venus if he returned in safety. Her hair, which was hung up in the Temple of Venus, was subsequently stolen, and to comfort BERENICE, CONON, an astronomer of Alexandria (BC 283-222), gave it out that Jupiter had taken it and made it a constellation!

This is a good example of how the meaning of other constellations have been perverted (ignorantly or intentionally). In this case, as in others, the transition from ancient to more modern languages helped to hide the meaning. The Hebrew name was COMA (desired). But the Greeks had a word for hair, Co-me. this again is transferred to the Latin coma, and thus "Coma Berenice" (The hair of Berenice) comes down to us today as the name of this constellation, and gives us a woman's wig instead of that Blessed One, "the Desire of all Nations."

In this case, however we are able to give absolute proof that this is a perversion.

The ancient Egyptian name for this constellation was Shes-nu, the desired son!

The Zodiac in the Temple of Denderah, in Egypt, going back at least 2000 years BC, has no trace of any hair, but it has the figure of a woman and child.

Even Shakespeare understood the truth about this constellation picture, which has been so long covered by modern inventions. In his Titus Andronicus he speaks of an arrow being shot up to heaven to the "Good boy in Virgo's lap."

The constellation itself is very remarkable. Others contain one or two stars of the first or second magnitude, and then a greater or less variety of lesser stars; but this is peculiar from having no one very bright star, but contains so many stars of the 4th and 5th magnitudes. It contains 43 stars altogether, ten being of the 4th magnitude, and the remainder of the 5th, 6th, etc.

It was in all probability the constellation of Coma in which "the Star of Bethlehem" appeared. There was a traditional prophecy, well-known in the East, carefully preserved and handed down, that a new star would appear in this sign when He whom it foretold should be born.

This was, doubtless, referred to in the prophecy of Balaam, which would thus receive a double fulfilment, first of the literal "Star," and also of the person to whom it referred. The Lord said by Balaam (Num 24:17),

"There shall come * a star out of Jacob,
And a sceptre shall rise out of Israel."

* I.e., come forth (as in the RV). At is rendered in Genesis 3:24 "There shall come forth a star at or over the inheritance or possessions of Jacob," thus indicating the locality which would be on the meridian of this star.

Thomas Hyde, an eminent Orientalist (1636-1703), writing on the ancient religion of the Persians, quotes from ABULFARAGIUS (an Arab Christian Historian, 1126-1286), who says that ZOROASTER, or ZERDUSHT, the Persian, was a pupil of Daniel the Prophet, and that he predicted to the Magians (who were the astronomers of Persia), that when they should see a new star appear it would notify the birth of a mysterious child, whom they were to adore. It is further stated in the Zend Avesta that this new star was to appear in the sign of the Virgin. Some have supposed that this passage is not genuine. But whether it was interpolated before or after the event, it is equally good evidence for our purpose here. For if it was written before the event, it is evidence of the prophetic announcement; and if it was interpolated after the event it is evidence of the historic fact

The Book of Job shows us how Astronomy flourished in Idumea; and the Gospel according to Matthew shows that the Persian Magi, as well as others, were looking for "the Desire of all nations."

New stars have appeared again and again. It was in 125 BC that a star, so bright as to be seen in the day-time, suddenly appeared. It was this that caused HIPPARCHUS to draw up his catalogue of stars, which has been handed down to us by PTOLEMY (150 AD).

This new star would show the latitude, passing at that time immediately overhead at midnight, every twenty-four hours; while the prophecy would give the longitude as the land of Jacob. Having these two factors, it would be only a matter of observation, and easy for the Magi to find the place where it would be vertical, and thus to locate the very spot of the birth of Him of whom it was the sign, for they emphatically called it "His Star." There is a beautiful tradition which relates how, in their difficulty, on their way from Jerusalem to find the actual spot under the Zenith of this star, these Magi sat down beside David's "Well of Bethlehem" to refresh themselves. There they saw the star reflected in the clear water of the well. Hence it is written that "when they saw the star they rejoiced with exceeding joy," for they knew they were at the very spot and place of His appearing whence He was to "come forth."

There can be little doubt that it was a new star. In the first place a new star is no unusual phenomenon. In the second place the tradition is well supported by ancient Christian writers. One speaks of its "surpassing brightness." Another (IGNATIUS, Bishop of Antioch, AD 69) says, "At the appearance of the Lord a star shone forth brighter than all the other stars." IGNATIUS, doubtless, had this from those who had actually seen it! PRUDENTIUS (4th century AD) says that not even the morning star was so fair. Archbishop TRENCH, who quotes these authorities, says "This star, I conceive, as so many ancients and moderns have done, to have been a new star in the heavens."

One step more places this new star in the constellation of COMA, and with new force makes it indeed "His star"--the "Sign" of His "coming forth from Bethlehem." will it be "the sign of the Son of Man in heaven" (Matt 24:30) when He shall "come unto" this world again to complete the wondrous prophecies written of Him in the heavenly and earthly Revelations? *

* It ought also to be noted that in the preceding year there were three conjunctions of the planets Jupiter and Saturn, at the end of May and October, and at the beginning of December. Kepler (1571-1631) was the first to point this out, and his calculations have been confirmed by the highest authorities. These conjunctions occurred in the sign of PISCES: and this sign, according to all the ancient Jewish authorities (Josephus, Abarbanel, Eliezer, and others), has special reference to Israel. The conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, they hold, always marked the occurrence of some even favourable to Israel; while Kepler, calculating backwards, found that this astronomical phenomenon always coincided with some great historical crisis, viz.: the Revelation to Adam, the birth of Enoch, the Revelation to Noah, the birth of Moses, the birth of Cyrus, the birth of Christ, the birth of Charlemagne, and the birth of Luther.

Thus does the constellation of COMA reveal that the coming "Seed of the woman" was to be a child born, a son given.

But He was to be more: He was to be God and man--two natures in one person! This is the lesson of the next picture.

2. CENTAURUS (The Centaur)
The despised sin-offering

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3. Centaurus (the Centaur)

It is the figure of a being with two natures. Jamieson, in his Celestial Atlas, 1822, says, "On the authority of the most accomplished Orientalist of our own times, the Arabic and Chaldaic name of this constellation is Bezeh." Now this Hebrew word Bezeh (and the Arabic Al Beze) means the despised. It is the very word used of this Divine sufferer in Isaiah 53:3, "He is DESPISED and rejected of men."

The constellation contains thirty-five stars. Two of the 1st magnitude, one of the 2nd, six of the 3rd, nine of the 4th, etc., which, together with the four bright stars in the CROSS make a brilliant show in southern latitudes.

The brightest star, a (in the horse's fore-foot), has come down to us with the ancient name of Toliman, which means the heretofore and hereafter, marking Him as the one "which is, and which was, and which is to come--the Almighty" (Rev 1:8). Sir John Herschell observed this star to be growing rapidly brighter. It may be, therefore, one of the changeable stars, and its name may be taken as an indication of the fact that it was known to the ancients.

Another name for the constellation was in Hebrew, Asmeath, which means a sin-offering (as in Isaiah 53:10).

The Greek name was Cheiron, which means the pierced, or who pierces. In the Greek fables Cheiron was renowned for his skill in hunting, medicine, music, athletics, and prophecy. All the most distinguished heroes of Greece are described as his pupils. He was supposed to be immortal, but he voluntarily agreed to die; and, wounded by a poisoned arrow (not intended for him) while in conflict with a wild boar, he transferred his immortality to Prometheus; whereupon he was placed amongst the stars.

We can easily see how this fable is the ignorant perversion of the primitive Revelation. The true tradition can be seen dimly through it, and we can discern Him of whom it spoke,--the all-wise, all-powerful Teacher and Prophet, who "went about doing good," yet "despised and rejected of men," laying down His life that others might live.

It is one of the lowest of the constellations, i.e. the farthest south from the northern centre. It is situated immediately over the CROSS, which bespeaks His own death; He is seen in the act of destroying the enemy.

Thus these star-pictures tell us that it would be as a child that the Promised Seed should come forth and grow and wax strong in spirit and be filled with wisdom (Luke 2:40); and that as a man having two natures He should suffer and die. Then the third and last section in this first chapter of this First Book goes on to tell of His second coming in glory.

3. BOOTES (The Coming One)
He cometh

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4. Bootes (the Coming One)

This constellation still further develops this wondrous personage.

He is pictured as a man walking rapidly, with a spear in his right hand and a sickle in his left hand.

The Greeks called him Bo-o-tes, which is from the Hebrew root Bo (to come), meaning the coming. It is referred to in Psalm 96:13:

"For He cometh,
For He cometh to judge the earth;
He shall judge the world in righteousness,
And the people with His truth."

It is probable that his ancient name was Arcturus * (as referred to in Job 9:9), for this is the name of the brightest star, a (in the left knee). Arcturus means He cometh. **

* The ancient name could not have been Bootes! though it is derived from, and may be a reminiscence of the Hebrew.

** ARATUS calls him Arctophylax, i.e., the guardian of Arctos, the flock of the greater fold, called today the Great Bear:

"Behind, and seeming to urge on the Bear,
Arctophylax, on earth Bootes named,
Sheds o'er the Arctic car his silver light."

By some moderns he is mistakenly called The Waggoner. Hence the allusion of Thompson:

"Wide o'er the spacious regions of the North,
Bootes urges on his tardy wain."

This perversion scarecely does justice even to human common sense, as waggoneers do not use a sickle for a whip!

The ancient Egyptians called him Smat, which means one who rules, subdues, and governs. They also called him Bau (a reminiscence of the more ancient Bo), which means also the coming one.

The star m (in the spear-head) is named Al Katurops, which means the branch, treading under foot.

The star e (just below the waist on his right side) is called Mirac, or Mizar, or Izar. Mirac means the coming forth as an arrow; Mizar, or Izar, means the preserver, guarding.

The star h is called Muphride, i.e. who separates.

The star b (in the head) is named Nekkar, i.e. the pierced (Zech 12:10), which tells us that this coming judge is the One who was pierced. Another Hebrew name is Merga, who bruises. *

* The constellation is a very brilliant one, having 54 stars, viz., one of the 1st magnitude, six of the 3rd, eleven of the 4th, etc.

The constellation of the Canes Venatici (the Greyhounds), i.e., the two dogs (Asterion and Chara), which Bootes holds by a leash, is quite a modern invention, being added by Hevelius (1611-1687). The bright star of the 3rd magnitude in the neck of Chara, was named "Cor Caroli" (the heart of Charles) by Sir Charles Scarborough, physician to Charles II, in honour of Charles I, in 1649. This is a good example of the almost infinite distance between the ancient and modern names. The former are full of mysterious significance and grandeur, while the latter are puerile in the extreme, almost approaching to the comic! e.g., the Air Pump, the Painter's Easel, the Telescope, the Triangle, the Fly, the Microscope, the Indian, the Fox and Goose, the Balloon, the Toucan (or American Goose), the Compasses, Charles' Oak, the Cat, the Clock, the Unicorn, &c. The vast difference can be at once seen between those designed by the ancients and those added by astronomers in more recent times.

These new constellations were added, 22 by Hevelius; and 15 by Halley (1656-1742). They were formed for the purpose of embracing those stars which were not included in the ancient constellations. This shows that the old constellations were not designed, like the modern ones, merely for the sake of enabling astronomers to identify the positions of particular stars. In this case all the stars would have been included. The object was exactly the opposite! Instead of the pictures being designed to serve to identify the stars, only certain stars were used for the purpose of helping to identify the pictures!

This is another important proof of the truth of our whole argument.

This brings us back again to Genesis 3:15, and closes up this first chapter of the First Book (VIRGO). It shows us the Person of the Promised Seed from the beginning to the end, from the first promise of the birth of the Child in Bethlehem, to the final coming of the great Judge and Harvester to reap the harvest of the earth. This was the vision which was afterwards shown to John (Rev 14:15,16), when he says, "I looked; and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle and reap; for the time is come for Thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And He that sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped."

This is the conclusion of the first chapter of this First Book. Here we see the woman whose Seed is to bruise the serpent's head, the Virgin-Born, the Branch of Jehovah, perfect man and perfect God, Immanuel, "God with us," yet despised and rejected of men, and yielding up His life that others may have life for evermore. But we see Him coming afterwards in triumphant power to judge the earth.

This is only one chapter of this First Book, but it contains the outline of the whole volume, complete in itself, so far as it regards the Person of the Coming One. Like the Book of Genesis, it is the seed-plot which contains the whole, all the rest being merely the development of the many grand details which are included and shut up within it. It is only one chapter out of twelve, but it distinctly foreshadows the end--even "the sufferings of Christ and the glory which should follow."

Introduction | Table of Contents | Chapter 2

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