Chapter 2 | Table of Contents | Chapter 4
The Witness of the Stars
E. W. Bullinger
The First Book
(His First Coming)
"The sufferings of Christ"
The Sign Scorpio
The Redeemer's conflict
9. Scorpio (the Scorpion)
We come now right into the heart of the conflict. The
star-picture brings before us a gigantic scorpion endeavouring to sting in the heel a
mighty man who is struggling with a serpent, but is crushed by the man, who has his foot
placed right on the scorpion's heart.
The Hebrew name is Akrab, which is the name of a
scorpion, but also means the conflict, or war. It is this that is referred
to in Psalm 91:13--
"Thou shalt tread upon the lion and
The young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet."
David uses the very word in Psalm 144:1, where he blesses
God for teaching his hands to war.
The Coptic name is Isidis, which means the
attack of the enemy, or oppression: referring to "the wicked that oppress
me, my deadly enemies who compass me about" (Psa 17:9).
The Arabic name is Al Akrab, which means wounding
him that cometh.
There are 44 stars altogether in this sign. One is of the
1st magnitude, one of the 2nd, eleven of the 3rd, eight of the 4th, etc.
The brightest star, a (in the heart), bears the
ancient Arabic name of Antares, which means the wounding. It is called by
the Latins Cor Scorpii, because it marks the scorpion's heart. It shines ominously
with a deep red light. The sting is called in Hebrew Lesath (Chaldee, Lesha),
which means the perverse. The stars in the tail are also known as Leshaa, or
Leshat. (Antares seems also to have been known as Lesath).
The scorpion is a deadly enemy (as we learn from
Revelation 9), with poison in its sting, and all the names associated with the sign
combine to set forth the malignant enmity which is "set" between the serpent and
the woman's Seed.
That enmity is shown more fully in the written Word, where
we see the attempt of the enemy (in Exodus 1) to destroy every male of the seed of
Abraham, and how it was defeated.
We see his effort repeated when he used Athaliah to
destroy "all the seed royal" (2 Kings 11), and how "the king's son"
was rescued "from among" the slain.
We see his hand again instigating Haman, "the Jews'
enemy," to compass the destruction of the whole nation, but defeated in his designs.
When the woman's Seed, the virgin's Son, was born, we are
shown the same great enemy inciting Herod to slay all the babes in Bethlehem (Matt 2), but
again he is defeated.
In the wilderness of Judea, and in the Garden of
Gethsemane the great conflict is renewed. "This is your hour and the power of
darkness," He said to His enemies.
The real wounding in the heel was received at the Cross.
It was there the scorpion struck the woman's seed. He died, but was raised again from the
dead "to destroy the works of the devil."
To show us this; to prevent any mistake; to set forth the
fact that this conflict only apparently ended in defeat, and that it did not really
so end, we have the first two constellations belonging to this sign presented in one
picture! Indeed, the picture is threefold, for it includes the sign itself!
If these pictures had been separated, then the conflict
would have been separated from the victory; the deadly wound of the serpent's head from
the temporary wound in the Victor's heel. Hence, three pictures are required, in
which the scorpion, the serpent, and the man, are all involved, in
order to present at the same time the triumphant issue of the conflict.
Hence, we must present, and consider together, the first
two sections of this mysterious chapter.
and 2. SERPENS and OPHIUCHUS
The struggle with the enemy
10. Serpens (the Serpent)
Ophiuchus (the Serpent Holder)
Here, Serpens, the serpent, is seen struggling
vainly in the powerful grasp of the man who is named O-phi-u-chus. In Latin he is
called Serpentarius. He is at one and the same moment shown to be seizing the serpent with
his two hands, and treading on the very heart of the scorpion, marked by the deep red star
Just as we read the first constellation of the woman and
child Coma, as expounding the first sign VIRGO, so we have to read this first
constellation as expounding the second sign LIBRA. Hence, we have here a further picture,
showing the object of this conflict on the part of the scorpion.
In Scorpio we see merely the effort to wound Ophiuchus
in the heel; but here we see the effort of the serpent to seize THE CROWN, which is
situated immediately over the serpent's head, and to which he is looking up and reaching
The contest is for Dominion! It was the Devil, in the form
of a serpent, that robbed the first man of his crown; but in vain he struggled to wrest it
from the sure possession of the Second Man. Not only does he fail in the attempt, but is
himself utterly defeated and trodden under foot.
There are no less than 134 stars in these two
constellations. Two are of the 2nd magnitude, fourteen of the 3rd, thirteen of the 4th,
The brightest star in the Serpent, a (in the neck),
is named Unuk, which means encompassing. another Hebrew name is Alyah,
the accursed. From this is Al Hay (Arabic), the reptile. The next
brightest star is b (in the jaw), named, in Arabic, Cheleb, or Chelbalrai,
the serpent enfolding. The Greek name, Ophiuchus, is itself from the Hebrew and
Arabic name Afeichus, which means the serpent held. The brightest star in Ophiuchus,
a (in the head), is called Ras al Hagus (Arabic), the head of him who
Other Hebrew names of stars, not identified, are Triophas,
treading under foot; Saiph (in the foot * of Ophiuchus), bruised; Carnebus, the
wounding; Megeros, contending. ** In the Zodiac of Denderah we have a throned human
figure, called Api-bau, the chief who cometh. He has a hawk's head to show that he
is the enemy of the serpent, which is called Khu, and means ruled or enemy.
* In 1604 a new star appeared in the
eastern foot of Ophiuchus, but disappeared again in 1605.
** There is an ancient Greek fable
which calls Ophiuchus Aesculapius, the son of Apollo. Having restored Hippolytus to life,
he was everywhere worshipped as the god of health, and hence the serpent entwined around
him is, to this day, the symbol of the medical art! This, however, is, doubtless, another
perversion of the primitive truth that the Coming One in overcoming the serpent, should
become the great healer of all the sorrows of the world, and cause all its groanings to
All these combine to set before us in detail the nature of
the conflict and its final issue. That final issue is, however, exhibited by the last of
the three constellations of this chapter. The Victor Himself requires a whole picture to
fully set forth the glorious victory. This brings us to--
3. HERCULES (The Mighty One)
The mighty vanquisher
11. Hercules (the Mighty One)
Here the mighty one, who occupies a large portion of the
heavens, is seen bending on one knee, with his right heel lifted up as if it had been
wounded, while his left foot is set directly over the head of the great dragon. In his
right hand he wields a great club, and in his left hand he grasps a triple-headed monster
(Cerberus). And he has the skin of a lion, which he has slain, thrown around him. *
* Cerberus, or the serpent with
three heads, was placed by Hevelius (1611-1687) by the side of Hercules. Bayer had
previously placed the apple branch in his hand. This was symbolical of the golden apples
of Hesperides, which he obtained by killing this three-headed hydra, by whom
they were guarded. In our picture these are combined, and a bow and quiver added from
other ancient authorities.
In the Zodiac of Denderah we have a human figure, likewise
with a club. His name is Bau, which means who cometh, and is evidently
intended for Him who cometh to crush the serpent's head, and "destroy the works of
In Arabic he is called Al Giscale, the strong one.
There are 113 stars in this constellation. Seven are of
the 3rd magnitude, seventeen of the 4th, etc.
The brightest star, a (in his head), is named Ras
al Gethi, and means the head of him who bruises.
The next, b (in the right arm-pit, is named Kornephorus,
and means the branch, kneeling.
The star k (in the right elbow) is called Marsic,
The star l (in the upper part of the left arm) is
named Ma'asyn, the sin-offering.
While w (in the lower part of the right arm) is Caiam,
or Guiam, punishing; and in Arabic, treading under foot.
Thus does everything in the picture combine to set forth
the mighty works of this stronger than the strong man armed!
We can easily see how the perversion of the truth by the
Greeks came about, and how, when the true foreshadowings of this Mighty One had been lost,
the many fables were invented to supply their place. The wiser sort of Greeks knew this
perfectly well. ARISTOTLE (in his Metaphysics, x. 8) admits, with regard to Greek
mythology, that religion and philosophy had been lost, and that much had been "added
after the mythical style," while much had come down, and "may have been
preserved to our times as the remains of ancient wisdom." Religion, such as it was
(POLYBIUS confesses), was recognised as a "necessary means to political ends."
NEANDER says that it was "the fragments of a tradition, which transmitted the
knowledge of divine things possessed in the earliest times."
ARATUS shows the same uncertainty as to the meaning of
this constellation of Hercules. He says:
"Near this, and like a toiling man,
A form. Of it can no one clearly speak,
Nor what he labours at. They call him simply
'The man upon his knees': In desperate struggle
Like one who sinks, he seems. From both his shoulders
His arms are high-uplifted and out-stretched
As far as he can reach; and his right foot
Is planted on the coiled Dragon's head."
Ancient authorities differ as to the personality of
Hercules, and they disagree as to the number, nature, and order of what are sometimes
called "the twelve labours of Hercules." But there is no doubt as to the mighty
foretold works which the woman's Seed should perform.
From first to last Hercules is seen engaged in destroying
some malignant foe: now it is the Nemean lion; then it is the slaying of the boar of
Erymanthus; again, it is the conquest of the bull of Crete; then the killing of the
three-headed hydra, by whose venom Hercules afterwards died. In the belly of the sea
monster he is said to have remained "three days and three nights." This was,
doubtless a perversion of the type of Jonah, introduced by LYCOPHRON, who (living at the
court of PTOLEMY PHILADELPHUS, under whose auspices the Hebrew Scriptures were translated
into Greek) would have known of that Divine miracle, and of its applicaiton to the Coming
One. Bishop Horsley believed that the fables of the Greek mythology could be traced back
to the prophecies of the Messiah, of which they were a perversion from ignorance or
design. This is specially true of Hercules. In his apparently impossible tasks of
overthrowing gigantic enemies and delivering captives, we can see through the shadow, and
discern the pure light of the truth. We can understand how the original star-picture must
have been a prophetic representation of Him who shall destroy the Old Serpent and open the
way again, not to fabled "apples of gold," but to the "tree of life"
itself. He it is who though suffering in the mighty conflict, and brought to His knee,
going down even to "the dust of death," shall yet, in resurrection and advent
glory, wield His victorious club, subdue all His enemies, and plant His foot on the
Dragon's head. For of Him it is written--
"Thou shalt tread upon the lion and
The young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under foot." Psalm 91:13
"Come, Lord and burst the captives'
And set the prisoners free;
Come, cleanse this earth from all its stains,
And make it meet for Thee!
Oh, come and end Creation's groans--
Its sighs, its tears, its blood,
And make this blighted world again
The dwelling-place of God."
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