Oedipo cunjectore opus est.


Printed by W. Bowden, 238a, Strand, W1



Preface ...i
Preliminary Notice ...xv
Observations on the Plates annexed ....xxxiii
Dissertation I. On the 49th Chap. of Genesis, inserted in the Sixth Number
of the Classical, Biblical, and Oriental Journal, for June, 18ll  ...1
Dissertation II. On the 14th Chap. ...33
Dissertation III. Concerning the Tahernacle and Temple .....81
Dissertation IV. On the Book of Joshua ...110
Dissertation V. Sketch of a Commentary or Dissertation on the Book of Judges ...241
Dissertation VI. A Short Dissertation concerning the Paschal Lamb ...254


In speaking of the 12th verse of the 10th chapter of the Book of Joshua, I might have observed, that if the year be taken at 365 days, and if we suppose one day intercalated every fourth year, the meaning will come out more obviously. This one day was not admitted into the sacred, but into the astronomical, year of the Egyptians. An ancient and anonymous writer gives us the following account: In templo Egypti Memphis, (lege Apidis Memphi) mos fuit solio regio decorari reges, qui regnabant. Ibi enim sacris initiabantur primum, ut dicitur, Reges, satis religiose tunicati: et Tauro, quern Apim apellant, jugum portare fas erat,—et per vicum unum duci. Deducitur autem a Sacenlote Isidis in locum ipii nominatur Adytos, et jiuejumndo adigitur, necque mensem, neque diem intercalandum, quem in festum diem immutarent, sed CCCLXV dies Hirdcturos, sicut institutum est ab antiquis. It follows from this, that when the Priests reckoned by their sacred year, they would lose a whole day every fourth year. This day, as I have said above, was reckoned in the astronomical year; but as this was against the religious law, the Priests seem to have feigned, that during that day the course of the Sun and Moon was suspended; and thus obtained their small canicular period mentioned by Bailly.



It will naturally be asked by those, who may chance to see this volume, why its author has caused a book to be printed, which he yet does not choose to publish. When, however, it is considered, that I have treated chiefly of things deemed sacred, and that there is considerable novelty in some of my opinions, I trust that I shall be easily pardoned, if I confine the distribution of the copies of this work to a narrow circle.

I pretend, that the ancient Jews, like other nations of antiquity, had their esoteric and their exoteric doctrines. They concealed the former under innumerable types and symbols, the meaning of which is generally unknown among their descendants. It is the object of my book to explain the hidden sense of many passages in the Hebrew Scriptures; but as Christians are, for the most part, so well satisfied with the literal sense, as never to look for any other, except when it is thought that some allusion is made to the advent of Christ, I feel myself unwilling to publish any explanations of the original text, which may not [ii] I pretend, that the ancient Jews, like other nations of antiquity, had their esoteric and their exoteric doctrines. They concealed the former under innumerable types and symbols, the meaning of which is generally unknown among their descendants. It is the object of my book to explain the hidden sense of many passages in the Hebrew Scriptures; but as Christians are, for the most part, so well satisfied with the literal sense, as never to look for any other, except when it is thought that some allusion is made to the advent of Christ, I feel myself unwilling to publish any explanations of the original text, which may not coincide with those notions concerning its meaning which are most commonly received. Besides, there may be passages in this volume, which are capable of alarming the timid, and of provoking the prejudiced. Ignorance bears ill being told, that it has much to learn; and to instruct Pride is to affront it.

The Old Testament is a book, which we have all read in our childhood, when reason proposes no doubts, and when judgment is too feeble to decide for itself. But its early associations are generally the strongest in the human mind; and what we have been taught to credit as children, we are seldom disposed to question as men. Called away from speculative inquiries by the common business of life, men in general possess neither the inclination, nor the leisure, to examine what they believe, or why they believe. A Powerful prejudice remains in the mind;—ensures conviction. Without the trouble of thinking; and repels doubt without the aid or authority of reason. The multitude, then, is not very likely to applaud an author, who calls upon
it to consider what it had hitherto neglected, and to stop where it had been accustomed to pass on. It may also happen, that there is a learned and a formidable body, which, having given its general sanction to the literal interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures, maybe offended at the presumption of an unhallowed layman, who ventures to hold, that the language of those Scriptures is often symbolical and allegorical, even in passages, [iii] which both the Church and the Synagogue consider as containing nothing else than a p1ain statement of facts. A writer, who had sufficient boldness to encounter such obstacles, and to make an appeal to the public, would only expose himself to the invectives of offended bigotry, and to the misrepresentations of interested malice. The press would be made to ring with declamations against him; and neither learning, nor argument, nor reason, nor moderation, on his side, would protect him from the literary assassination which awaited him. In vain would he put on the heaven-tempered panoply of Truth. The weapons, which could neither pierce his buckler, nor break his casque, might be made to pass with envenomed points through the joints of his armour. Every trivial error, which he might commit, would be magnified into a flagrant fault; and every insignificant mistake, into which he might fill, would be represented by the bigoted, or by the hireling critics of the day, as an ignorant, or as a perverse, deviation from the truth.

 Under these circumstances, I feel little inclination to make my opinions too publicly known. It may he hoped, however, that reason and liberality will soon again be progressive in their march; and that men will cease to think that Religion can be really at war with Philosophy. When we hear the timid Sons of Superstition calling to each other to rally round the altar, we may well blush for human weakness. The altar, of which the basis is [iv] established by Reason, and which is supported by Truth and Nature, can never be overthrown. It is before that altar that I kneel, and that I adore the God, whom philosophy has taught me to consider as the infinite and eternal Mind, that formed, and that sustains, the fair order of Nature, and that created and preserves the universal system.

To a small circle I think myself at liberty to observe, that the manner in which the Christian readers of the Old Testament generally choose to understand it, appears to me to be a little singular. While the Deity is represented with human passion and those none of the best;—while he described as a quarrelsome, jealous, a vindictive being;—while he is shown to continually changing his plans for the moral government of the world;—and while he is depicted as a material and local God, who dwelt on a box made of Shittim wood in the temple of Jerusalem;—they abide by the literal interpretation. They see no allegory in the first chapters of Genesis; nor doubt, that far the greater portion of the human race is doomed to suffer eternal torments, because our first parents ate an apple, after having been tempted by a talking serpent. They find it quite simple, that the triune Jehovah should dine on veal cutlets at Abraham’s table; nor are they at all surprised, that the God of the universe should pay a visit to Ezekiel, in order to settle with the Prophet, whether he should bake his bread with [v]  human dung, or with Cow’s dung. In these examples the Christian readers of the Hebrew Scriptures understand no allegory They believe the facts to have happened literally as they are stated; and neither suspect, nor allow, that the language of the sacred writers upon such occasions may be entirely figurative. Very different is their mode of interpreting these same Scriptures, when they think there is any allusion made to the kingdom of Christ. Then they abandon the literal sense without scruple, and sometimes, it may be thought, without consideration. The Rabbins learn with astonishment, that the Song of Solomon, for example, is a mere allegory, which represents the love of Jesus for his church; and that the lady, whose navel was like a round goblet, not wanting liquor,—whose belly was like a heap of wheat, set about with lilies,—whose nose was as the tower of Lebanon, which looketh towards Damascus,—and who promised to her well. beloved, that he should lie all night betwixt her breasts,—was not Solomon’s mistress, but the Church, the spiritual spouse of Christ.

But since the Christians do admit allegory—since they even contend that the Old Testament abounds with figurative and symbolical language, descriptive of the advent of the Messiah; why will they so strenuously insist upon the strict interpretation of the text in other examples? Be their decision what it may, the theist is bound to vindicate the majesty of the Deity.


Cicero has said, that it is easier to tell what God is not, than what he is. Now every theist is surely prepared to say, that the Deity is neither unjust, nor cruel, nor liable, in any manner, to the frailties of human nature. Is it possible for the literal interpreter of the Hebrew Scriptures to aver this of Jehovah? The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh;—was it just then to afflict Egypt with so many calamities, on account of Pharaoh’s obstinacy? The destruction of the seven nations, ordained in the seventh chapter of Deuteronomy, appears to be utterly irreconcileable either to justice or to mercy. Their crime was idolatry; but this was the crime of mankind with the exception of the Hebrews; and the seven nations seem to have merited so terrible a fate less than the Egyptians who beheld all the miracles performed by Jehovah, and who yet continued to worship the Gods of their country. But we cannot wonder at these things, since the passion of anger and jealousy, and the feeling of repentance, or regret, which are human infirmities, are frequently attributed to God of the Hebrews.

Is there a mind, capable of forming just notions of the Deity, that can believe any testimony, which records that the divine, infinite, and eternal Being is affected by accident, or is subject to passion? It is impossible for the theist to admit, that any thing is more powerful than God; and, therefore, he cannot allow, that God can ever be in [vii]  a state of passion; for passion must always be the effect of action, and of action which cannot be resisted. Passion is sufferance, and no being suffers of its own accord. If any thing could put the divine mind into a state of passion, that thing would act independently, and in spite of God. Hobbes has said that passion is power. He should rather have held, that it proves power, for it is the effect of power.

From this view of the subject, then, I am not afraid to state, that, if the writers of the Old Testament were really inspired, they must be supposed to have spoken figuratively on all those occasions, when they have ascribed human passions to the Supreme Being. It may be objected to me, that as the Hebrew Scriptures contain little else than the histories of squabblings and bickerings between Jehovah and his people, we might come in this way to allegorise the greater part, if not the whole, of the Old Testament. I confess, for my own part, I would rather believe the whole to be an allegory, than think for a moment, that infinite wisdom could ever waver in its judgments, could ever he disturbed by anger, or could at any time repent of what it had ordained.

 These are opinions which I have no wish of promulgating to the mob; but I call upon the theist, who has contemplated the universe as the work of intelligence, to consider, whether the Old Testament, if literally interpreted, present him with such [viii] exalted notions of the Deity, as natural religion is itself capable of inspiring. I must acknowledge, that the Jewish scriptures, thus understood, appear to me to be contrary to all true theology. It is monstrous to be told, if the sense be taken literally, that the infinite mind showed its hack parts to Moses. I read with pain, if there be no allegory, that the God of nature revealed himself to Jacob, in order that that Hebrew shepherd should make a journey to Bethel;—that this same keeper of kine and sheep, after having wrestled with a man all night, boasted in the morning that he had seen God;—and that the Lord of the Universe showed himself in a vision to Jacob, standing upon the top of a ladder. Then what are those things upon the ladder, which our painters represent with chubby cheeks, with wings at their shoulders, and with long petticoats? If Jacob saw all these things in a dream, it must be evident that he was dreaming indeed. Am I really to believe in the existence of such singular conversations, as are said, in the book of Job, to have taken place between God and the Devil? "Skin for skin," said Satan to Jehovah, The expression is not very elegant, and it does not sound very spiritual. The story of Jonah in the fish's belly, if it he not allegorical, is a most surprising one, and the whole must be a little puzzling to the natural historian. We are told in one of the Psalms, that God rode upon a cherub. But we learn from Ezekiel, that a cherub was a strange [ix] creature with four heads, like a man's, a lion's, a bull's, and an eagle's,—with four wings,—with one hand,—and with the hoofs of a calf. This was a very singular equipage for Jehovah to choose, when he went to take an airing. I shall leave the literal interpreters to explain these things as they can.

There are, however, some yet graver objections which I have to make against them. I cannot reconcile to my notions of the perfectly wise and good Being the literal interpretation of the verse in Exodus;—"And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people." Perfect wisdom cannot repent of its intentions, any more than perfect goodness can think of doing evil. When it is stated in Genesis, "that it repented the Lord, that he had made man on the earth, and that it grieved him at his heart," we can scarcely suppose that this was literally meant. The prescient God cannot be imagined to do any thing, which he foreknows he will afterwards be grieved at his heart for having done.

I have no doubt that the Jewish Rabbins firmly believe, that the Deity conversed with their ancestors upon the very various, but not always very important, topics, which the infinite God is said to have discussed, with his priests and his prophets. It is difficult, however, not to observe, that some of the divine discourses are dictated by an extraordinary spirit of vindictive jealousy, while others are marked by a prolixity, a garrulity, and a familiarity [x] of style, not altogether characteristic of the wisdom and majesty of the Supreme Being. The Platos, the Ciceros, and the Senecas of the Pagan world would probably have been astonished, if they had been assured, that the following sentences had proceeded from the highest intelligence.—"For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God" (Exod. 20.) "I will bring evil upon this place." (2 Kings, 22.) "Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, upon beast, upon the trees of the field, &c." (Jer. 7.) "It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king." (1 Sam, 15.) The sages of antiquity would perhaps have thought the tongue to be impious, which had pronounced that the God of the universe could be in a state either of fury, or of repentance.

The same sages, who have spoken so divinely of the greatness and infinity of the Supreme Intelligence, would have been scarcely less surprised at hearing the following words.—"Go, tell my servant David, Thus saith the Lord, Shalt thou not build me a house for me to dwell in? Whereas I have not dwelt in any house, since the time I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle." (2 Sam. 7.)

We occasionally meet with a colloquial freedom of style, and a minuteness of detail in some of the discourses attributed to Omnipotence, which must appear rather singular to the disciple of Natural [xi] Religion. "And the Lord said unto Abraham wherefore did Sarah laugh?" (Gen. 18.) "And the Lord smelled a sweet savour, and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more, &c." (Gen. 8.) It is as difficult to conceive, how Sarah came to laugh in the presence of the Almighty, as it is to understand how the immaterial essence of the Deity dined at Abraham's table, after having had his feet washed by the pious Patriarch. The reason which is given why the Lord said he would not curse the ground any more, appears to me to be very strange. God smelled a sweet savour; and because his olfactory nerves were agreeably tickled, he would not curse the ground any more. It will be in vain pretended that such a passage as this can be reconciled to a true system of theology, unless it be frankly acknowledged, that the Hebrew Scriptures are allegorical writings, in which the literal meaning is rarely the real one.

In the speeches ascribed to the Supreme Being, we meet with such sentences as the following. "And thou shalt make his pans to receive his ashes and his shovels, and his basins, and his flesh-hooks, and his fire-pans, &c." (Exod. 27.) "Also thou shalt take of the ram the fat and the rump, and the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, &c." (Exod. 29.) When I lift my eyes to the starry vault of heaven, and when I recollect that God is the creator and pre- [xii] server of more suns and worlds, than I can either count or imagine, I hope not to be obliged literally to believe, that the primordial, infinite, and ineffable Being talked to Moses, or to any body else, about pans and shovels, or about the. fat, the rump, and the guts of a ram.

My notions of the Divine Nature may be very heterodox, but they do not permit me to attribute human infirmities to God. I cannot suppose the Deity first creating our little earth, and then fretting because he had done so. I cannot ascribe to him all the scolding and cursing about idolatry; all the squabbling about capricious laws; and all that prattling and gossiping about insignificant rites and ceremonies, which so frequently occur in the Jewish legends. I cannot allow myself to imagine that the Sacred Writers were speaking literally when they talked of these things; and I feel myself compelled either to consider their writings as impositions on the credulity of mankind, or to believe that they are chiefly, if not entirely, allegorical compositions.

In the Oedipus Jadaicus it will be found, that I have adopted the latter opinion. I recollect, that Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians; and I expect to find traces of that wisdom in his works. The learned among the ancient Egyptians were pure theists, as Cudworth has proved. They were deeply skilled in the sciences; but they carefully concealed their mysterious learn- [xiii] ing under innumerable symbols and allegories. May we not look then for the same things in the writings, which are ascribed to the Jewish law-giver? It is what I have done; and I submit to the judgment of a few individuals, the result of my researches.



As 1 have had occasion to say a great deal on the subject of Astronomy in the following pages, I must take the liberty of requesting' my reader to peruse them with his celestial globe beside him. He will of course make allowances for the retrograde motion of the fixed stars. There is one difficulty, which I ought to mention, and which I have felt during the whole of the time I was employed about this opusculum. It seems to me, at least, impossible to fix the time, when the books of the Old Testament, which I have examined, were written. I have seen chronological tables, where the death of Abraham is stated to have happened in a certain year, and where the periods, when Moses and Joshua lived, are denoted. I confess I have very little faith in such tables. It is likewise, I acknowledge, not quite clear to me, who were the authors of the books in question, and when they lived. Circumstances have been pointed out by Aben Ezra, by the Pere Simon, and by others, which seem to render it very questionable, whether Moses were really the author of the Pentateuch. Now without a more exact and certain knowledge of these matters, I have thought it better not to insist too much on the positions of [xvi] the constellations, as referring to dates given in the Chronological Tables.

I have made frequent use of the word paranatellon ; and it may be expedient to explain it to some of my readers. The Oriental astronomers divided each sign of the zodiac into three parts. These were called decans, and amounted to thirty-six for the whole zodiacal circle. But the same astronomers also considered the constellations, or the asterisms, on both sides of the zodiacal circle, as connected with these decans. There was consequently a division of these extra-zodiacal constellations, amounting to thirty-six, the number of the decans. Now the extra-zodiacal stars, which are on either side of a decan, and which rise above the horizon, or sink below it, during the time that decan takes to rise or set, or what I call its paranatellons. The paranatellons of a whole sign may consequently be easily found. Many of the astronomical allusions of the Orientalists can only be understood by considering this theory.

There are a few observations concerning the zodiac, which I ought to make.

The constellations of the zodiac are necessarily displaced by the precession of the equinoxes. This has given rise to a distinction, which it is proper to state, because, without noticing it, we shall be led into mistakes. Astronomers, then, distinguish between a fixed and intellectual zodiac; and the moveable and visible zodiac. According to the former, [xvii] Aries still stands as the first of the signs;—that is to say, the first thirty degrees of the zodiacal circle, reckoning from the equinoctial point in Spring, are allotted to Aries in the intellectual zodiac. The constellation, however, which is designed by the figure of a Ram, no longer occupies these first thirty degrees of the zodiacal circle. Its place is now held by Pisces; and the Ram has taken up the station formerly occupied by the Bull, which in its turn takes up the place formerly held by the Twins; and so of all the rest. Astronomers generally choose to reckon by the fixed and intellectual zodiac; and this seems to have been the case from a very early period. I am, indeed, inclined to think that the ancient Egyptians and Chaldeans reckoned according to the intellectual zodiac; but that the first of the signs in their intellectual zodiac (I am speaking of very remote times) was Taurus. Perhaps it would, not be amiss if astronomers brought the intellectual nearer to the visible zodiac. I have, however, now said enough to enable any of my readers, who may not have attended to these things, to understand, whether I be alluding, in different places, to the fixed and intellectual zodiac, or whether I be referring to that, which is retrograde and visible.

It now only remains for me to say a few words concerning the masoretic points. These, it will be seen, I have wholely discarded. If my reader wish to know why I have done so, he may consult Morinus, who in my opinion has set the question at rest.

[xviii] I believe, however, that there are now few Hebraists, who will think of undertaking to defend the masorah.

In addition to the above remarks, I find myself compelled to take particular notice of an objection, which has been made to my theory. I have briefly adverted to it in my dissertation on the Book of Joshua; but I have not there given it so full a consideration as I should have done, if I had been aware of the importance, which has been attached to it by its supporters.

Some persons have contended, that when the first books of the Old Testament were written, the zodiac was not yet divided into twelve constellations;—that when that division did take place, the zodiacal signs were not represented in the same manner by the Egyptians and Orientalists, as by the Greeks;—and finally, that in the time of Moses the knowledge of the sphere did not yet exist.

To fix the time when the books of Moses and Joshua were written, may not be so easy a task as some of the objectors seem to suppose; but let them take the earliest period which they can reasonably assume, and I fear not to show, that before that period the division of the zodiac into twelve signs was known to the Orientalists; and that the figures there represented did not materially differ from those, which were afterwards exhibited in the Grecian zodiac, allowing for a few exceptions, which cannot affect my general argument.


I believe, that no person will pretend, that the Pentateuch was written at an earlier era than 1500 years before Jesus Christ. My own judgment would lead me to fix the date at a much later period; but upon this point I shall not insist.

M. Bailly, in his History of Astronomy, tells us, that the zodiac of the Indians had two different divisions, one consisting of twenty-eight, and the other of twelve, constellations. He also observes, that they had two different zodiacs, the one fixed, and the other moveable. The discovery of the latter he states to have taken place about 2,250 years before Jesus Christ, and consequently 750 years before the Pentateuch could have been written.

The same author places the invention of the Persian sphere about 3000, or 3200 years before Jesus Christ, and consequently 1500 or 1700 years before the time, when it is pretended, that Moses wrote the Pentateuch.

To fix the exact date when the Egyptians first divided the zodiac into twelve signs, would be very difficult. Macrobius attributes the invention of the zodiac to the Egyptians, and Jamblichus asserts, that Hermes was the author of it. But it is not easy to determine the time when Hermes flourished. The accounts concerning him are so vague and contradictory, that it seems idle to say more than that he lived at a very remote period of antiquity. This second Hermes, however, seems rather to have been the restorer, than the original discoverer, of science; [xx] since he is said by Manetho to have deciphered the hieroglyphics on the ancient monuments. I am inclined to think, that the zodiac was divided into twelve signs by the Egyptians about the time when they introduced the twelve great Gods. Now the Egyptian Hercules was one of these; and without attributing to him the extreme antiquity, which was claimed for him by the priests in the time of Herodotus, we may easily admit him to have flourished long before the age of Moses. (See Herodotus, 1. 2. c. 4. 43. 144.)

According to Diodorus Siculus, the Grecian Hercules, whom we must not confound with the Egyptian, introduced the knowledge of the sphere ([Greek]) into Greece. Others have named Musaeus, and others Chiron. Be this as it may, the Greeks appear to have become acquainted with the sphere more than thirteen centuries before Christ: and consequently not two centuries after the time of Moses.

We have now seen pretty clearly, I think, that the Egyptians and Orientalists were acquainted with the sphere and with the zodiac, before the Pentateuch could have been written; even allowing, what I think to be extremely doubtful, that it was composed at so early a period as 1500 years before Jesus Christ.

But I have passed cursorily over this part of the subject, and have not even noticed the high pretensions of the Chaldeans, who date their astronomical [xxi] discoveries from so remote a period as the reign of Belus. I imagine, that the objectors are chiefly disposed to argue, that the forms now exhibited in the Oriental zodiacs have been copied from the zodiac of the Greeks. It is then to this subject that I must direct the attention of my reader; and although the due limits of a mere preliminary notice will compel me to be brief, I have yet no doubt that I shall be able completely to repel this objection.

M. Bailly seems inclined to think, that the Indian zodiac was the most ancient of any. We have already seen that the Indians invented their moveable zodiac 750 years before the time of Moses. In the Philosophical Transactions for 1772, we find a representation of an Indian zodiac. Its resemblance to ours, though it differ in some respects, is exceedingly striking. Aquarius is represented by an urn. In Pisces, there is only one fish. In the two next signs we find the Ram and the Bull. Instead of the Twins, a man is represented with two shields. The two next signs are the same as ours. Virgo is depicted as a young girl seated according to the Oriental fashion. The Balance is exhibited as by us; the image of the Scorpion is much defaced; and Sagittarius is represented by a bow and arrow. We denote Capricorn by a goat with the tail of a fish; but in this Indian zodiac the goat and the fish are separated. The objectors pretend, that this zodiac must have been copied from a Greek zodiac after the time of Alexander. But it is not the character of the Indians to copy from other [xxii] nations; and when they do condescend to become copyists, they are, I am assured, minutely faithful to their originals. The very discrepancies, then, which may be observed in the Indian and the Grecian zodiacs, may lead us to believe, that it was the Greeks who made the changes. The love of change belonged as much to the character of the Greeks, as it was remote from that of the Indians. Let us also observe, that this Indian zodiac is square. Now the Indians would hardly have taken this figure, if they had seen the circular zodiac of the Greeks. Then the goat and the fish are separated in the Indian zodiac, and united in the Greek; and this affords a strong presumptive proof of the former having been the original; because it is more natural for a copyist to combine two distinct ideas, than to separate them after they have once been united. Again, this Indian zodiac contains but one fish in Pisces, Of this there is no example in the Greek zodiacs; but it would seem from Kircher, that Ichthon, or rather Dagon, had his station in this sign in the Egyptian zodiac.

Sir William Jones was a tolerable judge of these matters, and he strongly maintains the antiquity of the Indian zodiac. His translation from the Sanscrit verses, in which the Indians gave an account of their own zodiac, is so curious, that I shall transcribe it. "The Ram, Bull, Crab, Lion, and Scorpion, have the figures of those five animals respectively: the Pair (the Twins) are a damsel playing on a [xxiii] Vina (a harp), and a youth wielding a mace: the Virgin stands on a boat in water, holding in one hand a lamp, in the other an ear of rice-corn; the Balance is held by a weigher, with a weight in one hand: the Bow by an archer, whose hinder parts are like those of a horse: the Sea-monster has the face of an antelope: the Ewer is a water-pot, borne on the shoulder of a man, who empties it: the Fish are two with their heads turned to each other's tails, &c." But I shall leave the objectors to answer the arguments of Bailly and Jones concerning the zodiac of the Indians, and shall proceed to consider that of the Persians.

Diodorus Siculus tells us, that a God was supposed by the Persians to preside over each of the twelve signs of the zodiac. But it appears from the Zendavesta that this division of the zodiac was made in the time of Zoroaster. Hyde has most erroneously placed Zoroaster as contemporary with Darius. Suidas fixes his era at 500 years before the Trojan war. Plutarch places him 5000 years before that time; and though I shall not say with Pliny, that Zoroaster lived many thousand years before Moses, yet I have no great hesitation in admitting, that the Persian preceded the Jewish sage by several centuries. (Consult Plutarch, de Is. et Osir. and Pliny, 1. 30. c. 1.) Now what are the figures of the Persian zodiac described in that most ancient book the Zendavesta? They are thus named in their order:—The Lamb, the Bull, the Twins, the Crab, the Lion, the [xxiv] Ear of corn, the Balance, the Scorpion, the Bow, the Goat, the Pitcher, and the Fishes.

I shall not dispute whether the Egyptians were, or were not, the first inventors of the zodiacal images, I must, however, most strongly protest against the idea, that they ever copied their symbols from the Greeks. I have already shown, that there is every reason to conclude, that the Egyptians had divided the zodiac into twelve constellations, centuries before the age of Moses. I shall now endeavour to prove that the Greeks copied the images of their zodiac from the Egyptians and the Orientalists.

1. Hipparchus, if I do not err, was the first among the Greeks, who established what has since been called the fixed zodiac; and he placed Aries as the first of the signs. Theon, indeed, reproves Aratus for making Cancer the first of the signs, when the Egyptians, whom Theon intimates Aratus to have been copying, made Aries the first. This shows then, that the Greeks were in the habit of copying the Egyptians in these matters. It is besides obvious, that Aries has little or nothing to do with Greek mythology. The Ram was the well-known type of the Egyptian Ammon. In the planispheres of Kircher we find the Ram's horns. In those of Dendera the Ram is represented, as also in the fragment of the Egyptian zodiac found at Rome, of which an engraving is given by Bailly.

2. The Bull was a symbol of the sun, known all over the East, long before it can be pretended that [xxv] the Greeks had a zodiac at all. On many Indian, as well as on many Persian, monuments, we find the Bull. Then the work of Apis, proved by the Pentateuch itself to be so ancient, may lead us to wonder how it can be fancied, that the Greeks were the first, who placed this symbol in the zodiac.

3. The Greeks claim the symbol of the third sign as their own invention; and the story of Castor and Pollux may have been the production of their imagination. Some of their mythologists, however, designate the twins by the names of Hercules and Apollo, while Plutarch calls them Harpocrates and Helitomemion, the sons of Isis and Osiris. But this sign proves pretty clearly the disposition of the Greeks to make the zodiacal symbols accord with their own mythology; and may perhaps tend to convince the objectors, that the Greeks, and not the Orientalists, were the copyists. In the Sanscrit verses, to which I have already referred, we are told, that the Indians represented the sign in question by a damsel playing on a harp, and by a youth wielding a mace. The Greeks converted these symbols into Apollo with his lyre, and Hercules with his club. Now in the fragment of the Egyptian zodiac found at Rome, the sign of the Twins is represented by a female with a harp, and by a man with a mace. Is not this an extraordinary coincidence between the Indian and Egyptian zodiacs? If the Indians and the Egyptians had been the copyists, how came they both to change the form of Apollo into that of a [xxvi] young woman? This could not have been arranged by agreement; and it could hardly have happened by accident. I am, however, very well convinced, that one of the twins in the ancient Egyptian zodiacs was represented by Anubis; and in this, I think, I am supported, not only by one of Kircher s planispheres, but by the great zodiac of Dendera, so accurately given in the plates, which accompany Mr. Hamilton's travels. In all events, the similarity between the Indian zodiac and the Egyptian fragment, seems to prove that the Greeks copied the symbol of the Twins from the Orientalists.

4. The more ancient Egyptians placed Hermanubis, or "Hermes with the head of an ibis," in the sign of Cancer. In the Grecian zodiacs we find the Crab, and the reason why that animal was stationed there is ingeniously given by Macrobius. But even this symbol appears to have been suggested by the Egyptians. In the zodiacs of Dendera we find a Beetle instead of a Crab, and as the Beetle rolls its ball of dung in retrograding, it is not less a proper symbol for the sign than the Crab. I must confess, however, that I suspect that there is more ingenuity than truth in the conjecture of Macrobius.

I have likewise a great suspicion, that the same author has show^n more imagination than judgment in the reasoning which he employs, when he endeavours to account for the position of Capricorn among the signs.


5. That the history of the twelve labours of Hercules refers to the progress of the sun through the twelve signs of the zodiac is, I believe, generally admitted; but I cannot allow, that the lion was first placed among the zodiacal symbols, because Hercules was fabled to have slain the Nemean lion. It would seem, on the contrary, that Hercules, who represented the Sun, was said to have slain the lion, because Leo was already a zodiacal sign. There are several reasons which induce me to think, that the Egyptians were the first, who placed the lion in the zodiac. The combat of Hercules with the lion was his first labour; and one of the several years of the Egyptians commenced at the Summer Solstice. The Grecian Hercules flourished about 1350 years before our era, and consequently when, according to the fixed zodiac, the Summer Solstice accorded with Leo, Reckoning by the year in question, some of the Greek astronomers appear to have made Leo, (and afterwards Cancer), the first of the signs. Hence it was in compliance with what they believed to be the mode of reckoning in Egypt, that the Greeks made the combat with the lion the first labour of Hercules. Theon afterwards showed them, that they were wrong in supposing, that the Egyptians had thus counted the signs from the Summer Solstice. There seems to be no reason why the Greeks should place a lion, an animal with which they could have had but little acquaintance, in the zodiac. The Egyptians had a most obvious reason.


Diodorus Siculus (1. 3. c. 22.) mentions, that the lions appeared in great numbers, and became extremely formidable in Ethiopia, about the time of the Summer Solstice, and when the Nile is at its greatest elevation. Strabo, if I recollect rightly, speaks to the same purpose in his sixteenth book. It was then extremely natural for the Egyptians to place the lion, where we find him in the zodiac.

6. The Greeks have abundance of fables about the sign of Virgo: but this appears to have been originally no other than the symbol of the Egyptian Isis.

7. In the Indian zodiac, (in the Philosophical Transactions,) the sign of Libra is represented as by us. In Jones's Indian zodiac, a woman holds the balance. The Alexandrian zodiac is said not to have contained the balance, and its place was occupied by the Scorpion's claws. It is found, however, in the zodiacs of Esne and Dendera.

8. I believe that the ancient Egyptians represented the eighth sign by various symbols;—sometimes by a snake,—sometimes by a crocodile—sometimes by a scorpion, &c. This last symbol is to be found on all the Mithraic monuments; and it is pretty evident, that those monuments must have been constructed, when the vernal equinox accorded with Taurus, I am, indeed, apt to think, that the Mithraic monuments might have been constructed, when the vernal equinox accorded with Taurus, as we find that constellation in the sensible zodiac. In [xxix] all events, it appears vain to contend, that the Greeks were the first, who employed the Scorpion as an astronomical symbol.

9. Pococke, in his description of the East, has exhibited a fragment of an ancient Egyptian monument, on which the sign of Sagittarius was represented as it is by us. This symbol is likewise to be found in Jones's Indian zodiac, and in the zodiacs of Esne and Dendera.

10. The most general traditions, even among the Greeks themselves, concerning the sign of Capricorn, refer the origin of the symbol to Egypt. (Consult Hyginus, 1. ii. c. 29.—Theon, p. 136.—Germanicus, c. 27, &c.)

11. The Greeks have in vain endeavoured to reconcile the symbols of the eleventh sign to their mythology. Canobus with his pitcher is the evident prototype of Aquarius with his urn.

12. The sign of Pisces has nothing to do with Grecian mythology. The Greeks themselves appear to refer this symbol to the Chaldeans. It is, however, to be found in Jones's Indian zodiac, and in some Egyptian fragments, as well as in the zodiacs of Esne and Dendera. (See Pococke's Description of the East—Kircher's Oedipus, Vol. 3.—Hamilton's Egyptiaca, &c.)

I shall conclude these remarks, which I have been obliged to put together more hastily than I could have wished, by observing, that the existence of the Indian zodiac, published in the Philosophical Trans- [xxx] actions for 1772, and of the zodiac at Esne, are sufficient of themselves to establish my argument. It appears that the zodiac of Esne could not have been constructed at a later period than 4700 years before our era, because Leo is there placed as an ascending sign; and consequently this zodiac is at least, 3500 years older than the Grecian zodiac, even if we suppose that Hercules introduced a zodiac into Greece. From this we may judge of the folly of talking about Eudoxus and Hipparchus—men who lighted their tapers at the embers of that nearly extinguished fire, of which the blaze had once illumined all the East. The Indian zodiac is yet more ancient than that of Esne. The reasons which Dupuis, whose astronomical knowledge was immense, has given, in order to show that this zodiac was constructed, when the Summer Solstice accorded with Virgo, appear to me to be quite conclusive. Now the forms, both in the Indian zodiac, and in that of Esne, nearly correspond with those in the Grecian zodiac. The sign of Virgo is represented by a sphinx, the symbol of Isis in the zodiac of Esne; and, with this exception, the Greeks have exhibited nearly the same symbols. But even here, it must be observed, that the figure of the Virgin, or of Isis, is to be found in some very ancient Egyptian monuments. In Jones's Indian zodiac the figure of Virgo announces an Egyptian origin. Be this as it may, the objectors to my theory will be puzzled to show, that the forms in the Grecian zodiac were not copied [xxxi] from the Orientalists; and I now boldly assert, that not only before the Greeks had a zodiac at all, but centuries before the Pentateuch was written, the forms and symbols of the Oriental zodiacs, as far as the twelve signs were concerned, without speaking of the decans and paranatellons, did not materially differ from those, which the Greeks copied into their own zodiac. I admit, that there were some discrepancies; but, as I have said before, these cannot affect my general argument.

It only remains for me to observe, that in a work in which so many various languages are employed, and in which so many subjects are placed in new points of view, as in the present work, it would be much too presumptuous in me to imagine, that I have not occasionally fallen into errors. For these I shall claim the indulgence of my readers; and the more especially as it will not be in. my power to correct the press, or to revise the sheets. I am confident, indeed, that I am now in much safer hands, than when I was compelled by more important occupations, to leave the Herculanensia to the mercy of a Sicilian Printer, from whose edition that work was reprinted in England before my arrival, and consequently when it was not in my power to repair its numerous errors. But in spite of the well-known accuracy of Mr. Valpy, who has undertaken to print the Oedipus Judaicus, I must expect that errors of the press will probably occur. I trust that these will be few in number, because [xxxii] I am fully aware that there are critics in the world, who are ever ready to take undue and disingenuous advantage of every trivial fault which they can find, whether it proceed from the inaccuracy of the Author, or whether it be caused by the inattention of his Printer.






Plates I. II. III. IV

The first four Plates are copied in miniature from the Egyptian zodiacs and planispheres exhibited by Kircher. To the accuracy of these, many objections have been made, but Bailly has certainly repelled the most important of them. (Histoire de l'Astronomie, p. 500).

Plate V

This Plate represents the fragment of a zodiac found at Rome. Bailly mentions it in the following terms: "M. De Fontenelle dit que ce planisphere est Egyptien et Grec; pour nous, nous le croyons purement Egyptien, et nous y reconnoitrons des traces de son Origin's Indienne."

Plate VI

The twelve zodiacal signs are here copied in miniature from the engraving of the great oblong zodiac of Dendera, exhibited in the plates annexed to Mr. Hamilton's Egyptiaca. Mr. Hamilton has shown, with his usual learning, that the temple of [xxxiv] Dendera was either built or repaired about the time of Tiberius; but I am not quite satisfied with the reasons which he gives for supposing, that this zodiac was constructed at the same period. Mr. Hamilton says, that when this zodiac was constructed, the Summer Solstice was about 400/2225 parts of the sign of Cancer removed from that of Leo. The reasons which he gives for thinking so may be perfectly just; but it does not appear from the zodiac itself, that it was constructed about the time of Christ. The Summer Solstice seems to be placed in it, Mr. Hamilton says, in Cancer about 400 years from Leo. But it must be remembered, that the stars of Gemini now occupy nearly the same space in the heavens, with respect to the Solstice, which was held by those of Cancer 2150 years ago. The Summer Solstice now takes place, when the Sun is in the first degree of Gemini. There are then about 54 degrees to reckon, in order to bring the Solstice back to 400/2225 parts of Cancer removed from Leo. Lalande thought that this zodiac was constructed about the time when the Solstice was at 15° of Cancer; and that astronomer, therefore, fixed its date about 1200 years before Christ. But Mr. Hamilton puts the Solstice, when this same zodiac was constructed, about 24º or 25º of Cancer. Now if Lalande placed the date of the construction at 1200 years before Christ, because he reckoned from 15º of Cancer, Mr. Hamilton, who reckons the date from 24° or 25º of Cancer, ought to have placed it more than 1800 years before the same era. Lalande, however, is so far wrong. K the Solstice be marked at 15º of Cancer, Lalande should have fixed its date about 1350, and not 1200 years before Christ.

Plate VII

In this Plate the zodiacal figures of the circular zodiac of Dendera are represented in miniature, from the engraving of them in Mr. Hamilton's work; but neither in this, nor in the preceding Plate, have I ventured to copy the forms given to the decans and paranatellons. This would have required too large a Plate for my little work.


Visconti thinks that when this zodiac was constructed, the Sun at the Summer Solstice was in Cancer, because he finds the Balance among the zodiacal forms, and this, he appeal's to believe, must have been always a symbol of the equinox. But it seems very doubtful to me, whether this proposition be true. Dupuis has fixed the date of the Indian zodiac, which contains the Balance at a period when this sign could not have corresponded with the equinox. I shall presently have to show, that the same thing is true of the zodiac of. Esne. It has been proved by Bailly, that those who have contended that the Balance had no place among the zodiacal forms until a comparatively late period, are altogether in an error. In fact I had no good reason for supposing, that the Balance was originally intended as a symbol of the Equinox. Macrobius pretended, that Capricorn and Cancer were symbols of the Solstices; but Bailly has clearly shown, that the reasoning of Macrobius cannot be admitted.

Plate VIII

The representation of the Zodiac of Esne is here copied from the celebrated French work on "Egypt," lately published at Paris. Mr. Hamilton admits that Leo is here depicted as an ascending sign; and though he seems afterwards to take alarm at the great antiquity, which he consequently assigns to this Zodiac, he nevertheless in the first place fixes its date about 4500 years ago. When I observe, that I myself have spoken rather loosely about dates, and especially in my dissertation on the 49th chapter of Genesis, I have, perhaps, little right to find fault with Mr. Hamilton for having done the same thing. In fact, all this confusion about dates, to be determined by astronomical observations, arises from speaking sometimes of the fixed and intellectual Zodiac, and sometimes of the moveable and sensible Zodiac. Thus, when Mr. Hamilton allows, that we cannot assign a less remote antiquity to the Zodiac of Esne, than nearly 4500 years, he evidently fixes the Summer Solstice, in the first degree of Cancer where, however, the Solstitial colure has not [xxxvi] really been for more than 2000 years. The vernal Equinox had been retrograding through the constellation of Aries, and the Summer Solstice through the constellation of Cancer, for more than 2000 years before the time of Eudoxus. "Eudoxe, astronome Grec," says Bailly, “rapporte qae les Solstices et les équinoxes étoient fixes au quinzime dégré, c’est a dire, au milieu du Belier, de l’Ecrévisse, de la Balance, et du Capricorne. On verra que cette determination, rapportée par Eudoxe, est antérieure a son tems, et qu’eIle remonte au siecle de Chiron, vers 1353 a avant Jesus Christ." By the same rule then, if the Zodiac of Dendera were formed at the time when the Summer Solstice answered to 15° of Cancer, we must fix its antiquity at about 13-53 years before Christ; and we must allow the Zodiac of Esne, which refers the same solstice to the 1º of Virgo, to be more than 3000 years more ancient than that of Dendera.

It may be proper to retract an Opinion, that I have given elsewhere, namely, that the sign of Scorpius was represented by a crocodile in the most ancient Egyptian Zodiacs. Both the Scorpion and the Balance are to be found in the Zodiac of Esne.

If my reader wish to ascertain the precise date of the Zodiac of Esne, he must consult the French work itself. But I think it is evident that the Solstice could not yet have been in Leo, which is there represented as the last of the ascending signs. Let us then place it in the first degree of Virgo, But it is at the present day in the first degree of Gemini, and at a rough calculation, we allow 150 years for the retrograde motion through each celestial sign, we shall easily find the age of this Zodiac. in fact, the Autumnal equinox now corresponds with the first degree of Virgo; and consequently if we find a Zodiac, in which the Summer Solstice was placed, where the Autumnal equinox now is, that Zodiac carries us back 90 degrees on the ecliptic, and its date must be fixed about 6450 years ago.


Plate IX.

The Indian Zodiac represented in this Plate is thus mentioned by M. Dupuis.

"Le Zodiaque Indien, publié dans les Transactions Philosophiques de 1777, est un quadrilatère, autour duqel sout distribués les douze signes, de manire qu’aux quatre angles se trouvent Ia Vierge, le Sagittaire, le Poissons, et les Gemeaux; et la Vierge, répétée une seconde fois, se trouve encore placée au centre du cadre, Ia tête environnée de rayolls. Nous imaginons, que ce monument réprésente l’état du ciel, dans l’age, ou la Vierge ocdupoit Ie Solstice d’éte, et on l’Equinoxe de Printems répondoit aux Gemeaux; position qu’ont du avoir les cieux, depuis l’invention de l’astronomie, comme a très-bien fait voir Bailly; et voici comme bus procédons pour arriver le cette conclusion. Ceux qui placérent les douze signes dans I’ordre otus sont dans ce monument, on il n’y a point d’Equateur, ni d’Ecliptique, dont l’intersection puisse designer un commencement du Zodiaque, durent naturellement placer aux quatre angles du Quadrilatre les quatre signes, qui occupoient alors les quatre points cardinaux de la sphere. Ils dlIrent faire du signe, qui occupoit le Solstice d’ete, le dernier des signes ascendans, et le premier des siglies descendans. Ic signe du Solstice d’hiver dut être également Ic dernier des signes descendans, et le commencement des signes ascendatis. Or, c’est precisement la place que la Vierge et les Poissons, signes solstitiaux, occupent dans ce monument. Tous les animatix sont répresentes, marcilant daus Ia mênie direction, tels que le Belier, le Taureau, le Lion; et le commencement du mouvement de haut en has se fait a la Vierge, et celui do bas en haut se fait aux Poissons, La Vierge est don le terme du mouvement du soleil en ascension, et le point ou il commence a descendre, pour parcourir les autres signes. Elle occupe donc le Solstice d’éte, ou le tr6ne du Soleil, et voilâ pourquoi elle est encore une fois repétée, et placée au centre du planisphere, comme la Reine des Cicux.” (Dupuis, tom. 6. part [xxxviii] 1.) To these observations Dupuis has added many others not less interesting, but too long for insertion here. It is evident that if he be right in his hypothesis, this zodiac must be at least as ancient as that of Esne.

Plate X

This Plate can hardly be considered as interesting in any other point of view, than as exhibiting an Indian zodiac, with the figures drawn obviously from no Grecian copy. It seems to me quite clear, that it is not of a more ancient date than the zodiac of Hipparchus. Its antiquity, therefore, cannot recommend it to our attention. Sir W. Jones, who had this zodiac engraved, was a man of most extraordinary talents. As a linguist, he seems to have had few, if any, equals; but I am obliged to confess, that I do not exactly follow him in his notions concerning the antiquity of the Indian zodiac. In the treatise which he wrote on that subject he maintains, in opposition to M. Montucla, that the Indians took their zodiac neither from the Greeks, nor from the Arabs; and he argues that they obtained it, and their knowledge of the stars, from the Chaldeans, about 1000, or 1200 years before the Christian era. In the Supplement to his Essay on Indian Chronology, Sir W. Jones gives us the following extract from the Hindu astronomer Varaha. 

"Certainly the Southern Solstice was in the middle of Aslesha, the Northern in the first degree of by what is recorded in former Sastras. At present one solstice is in the first degree of Carcata, and the other in the first of Macara, &c."

Upon this I observe, that, according to Sir W. Jones, Aslesha and Dhanstha are the Indian names of the first Lunar mansions in Leo and Aquarius; and that Caycata and Macara answer to the signs of Cancer and Capricorn. It would seem, then, that Varaha lived, when the solstices were in the first degrees of Cancer and Capricorn, and when these solstices were removed by a whole sign at least from their places, according to the ancient [xxxix] Sastras. It is now above 0000 years since the solstices accorded with the first degrees of Cancer and Capricorn; and it is more than double that period since they corresponded with the first Lunar mansions of Leo and Aquarius. It would seem to follow then, that Varaha lived above 2000 years ago, and referred to the Sun’s place in the zodiac, as described more than 2000 years before his own time. Sir W. Jones does not take notice of this very simple and obvious calculation; and draws a very different result from the words of Varaha.

"The Hindu astronomers agree,” says he, "that the 1st of January 1790 was in the year 4891 of the Caliyuga, or their fourth period, at the beginning of which, they say, the equinoctial points were in the first degrees of Mesha and Tala, (Aries and Libra;) but they are also of opinion, that the vernal equinox oscillates from the third of Mina (Pisces) to the 7th of Mesha, and back again in two years, which they divide into four padas, and consequently that it moves, in the two intermediate padas from the 1st to the 7th of Mesha and back again, in 3600 years; the colure cutting the ecliptic in the 1st of Mesha, which coincides with the 1st of Aswini, (1st lunar mansion in Aries) at the beginning of every such oscillatory period. Varaha, surnamed Mihra, or the Sun, from his knowledge of astronomy, and usually distinguished by the title of Acharya, or teacher of the Veda, lived confessedly when the Caliyuga was far advanced; and since by actual observation he found the solstitial points in the first degrees of Carcata and Macara, the equinoctial points were at the same time in the 1st of Mesha and Tula: he lived, therefore, in the year 3600 of the 4th Indian period, or 1291 years before the 1st of January 1790, that is, about the year 499 of our era, &c."

All the reasoning, which the very learned author here employs, is founded on the calculations of the modern Hindu astronomers. But what is to be said of the calculations of astronomers, who place the equinoctial points at the beginning of their Caliyuga, nearly 5000 years ago, in the first degrees of Mesha and Tula (Aries and Libra) and who talk of the oscillation of [xl] the vernal equinox from the 3rd of Mina (Pisces) to the 27th of Mesha (Aries), and back again; and who make the colure cut the ecliptic in the 1st of Mesha, at the beginning of each such oscillatory period? Sir W. Jones says, that Varaha found the solstitial points by actual observation in the first degrees of Carcata and Macara, or Cancer and Capricorn. It is utterly impossible, if he really did so, that he could have lived 491 years after Christ: on the contrary, he must have lived nearly 400 years before our era, when the solstices were in the first degrees of Cancer and Capricorn.

But it may be said, that Varaha calculated like the modern Hindu astronomers; and that at the commencement of each oscillatory period he brought the colure to cut the ecliptic in the first degree of Aries; and having done this, he was compelled to make a similar arrangement for the solstices. Varaha, however, says nothing of the kind, and only affirms that in his time the solstices corresponded with the first degrees of Carcata and Macara, but that, according to former Sastras, they were once in Aslesha and in Dhanishta.

But even admitting, that Varaha taught this strange doctrine of an oscillating equinox, it is evident that it was unknown in the time when the Sastras to which he refers were written. The modern astronomers of India, it seems, make the vernal equinox oscillate from the 3rd degree of Pisces, to the 27th of Aries, and back again. The Summer solstice, then, ought to oscillate from the 3d degree of Gemini to the 27th of Cancer and back again; and this state of things has existed since the commencement of the Caliyuga, nearly 5000 years ago. If then the ancient Hindu astronomers, who were the authors of the Sastras, mentioned by Varaha, had had the same system with the modern astronomers of India, they never could have placed the Summer solstice, since the commencement of the Caliyuga, in the first degree of Leo, because the limits of the oscillation of this solstice are the 3d of Gemini on one side, and the 27th of Cancer on the other.


Varaha says positively, that the Summer solstice is recorded in the ancient Sastras to have corresponded with Aslesha, or with the first degree of Leo. It is a fact, that since the commencement of the Caliyuga, the Summer solstice has corresponded with the first degree of Leo. This must have happened about the 700th year of the Caliyuga, or about 4300 years ago; and I must consequently conclude, that the observation was made at that period by the authors of the Sastras.

I have shown, that the authors of the Sastras could not have had the same system with the more modern Hindu astronomers; and I now pretend, that since they had not the same system, it seems vain to make the modern system the basis of our reasoning with respect to the ancient. The ancient astronomers marked the Summer solstice in the sign of Leo. It was actually there 4300 years ago. The modern astronomers make the vernal equinox to oscillate from the 3d degree of Pisces to the 7th of Aries, and back again, for a period of 7000 years, of which they say nearly 5000 years are elapsed. But each solstitial point must invariably be at the distance of 900 from each equinoctial point. Then the Summer solstice can never have corresponded with the 1st degree of Leo for the last 5000 years, according to the modern Hindu system. How then shall we apply any calculations made by the more modern astronomers of India, to the observations of their ancient progenitors, who have left records of the position of the Summer solstice having been in the first degree of Leo?

Plates XI. XII. XIII

These Plates represent the Mithraic astronomical monuments as they are exhibited by Hyde (Hist. Rel. vet. Pers. p. 113.) and which evidently refer to a time, when Virgil might have truly said,

"Candidtis aura tis aperit cum cornibus annum Taurus."

"L’équiuoxe," says Bailly, "n’a pu repondre au dernier degré [xlii] du Tauieau que vers 4600 ans avant Jesus Christ." The Mithraic monuments appear to have been constructed while the vernal equinox corresponded with Taurus—the Summer solstice with Leo. For further information concerning these monuments, my reader may consult Kircher's Oedipus, vol. 1, p. 216, and Hyde, in loco citato. But in order that I may satisfy those, who cannot immediately refer to Kircher and Hyde, I shall transcribe one sentence from the latter. D. Hieronymus per portentosa simulacra (words employed by St. Jerome in speaking of the cave of Mithras, and its sculptured images) videtur intelligere solem in duodecim sigms secundum singula Dodecatelmoxia, quse (inquam) videntur fuisse ex supellectili antri Mithraic. This is sufficient to show, that I do not call these monuments astronomical upon my own authority. But if they be astronomical, it is clear, that they refer to a time when the Bull really did open the year, as the bare inspection of them is sufficient to prove.

I have ventured to suggest, in my Dissertation on the 49th chapter of Genesis, that these or similar simulacra must have been familiar to the mind of Jacob. In the symbolical language which he addresses to Joseph, I think, he makes a direct allusion to them.

I have directed my engraver to alter the attitude of one of the figures, (in Plate 13) whose action, however, may still be under stood. The ancients were not offended with such representations as those, which are found on the Mithraic monuments, because they considered them as merely symbolical; but the modems entertain very different notions concerning these things, and it is needless to shock delicacy, even where we may think it more fastidious than is necessary.

I have placed Succoth Benoth, the hen and chickens, in the 11th plate. For further information concerning this symbol of the Pleiades, my reader may consult Selden, de Dis Syris, and the Pantheon Hebraeorum. The representation, which I have given, is copied from Kircher; but the Syro-Chaldean words in his plate are nearly illegible. I have written them out distinctly.


As, however, the letters are extremely ill-formed in the original, I will not answer for having restored the true reading. The Syro-Chaldean is a jargon; hut still as I have written out the words, they will he understood by any person who can read the language. As the characters are placed in Kircher's edition, there are manifestly false readings.

I have also copied the figure of an Indian God, as it is given in the 25th plate of Moor's Pantheon. This is so exactly the form of the Egyptian Ammon, that, I think, the resemblance, if not the identity, must he evident.

Plate XIV

The 12 signs, with the Sun, copied from the Indian zodiac, exhibited in the valuable Pantheon of Mr. Moor.

I think this zodiac extremely interesting; for though I imagine the picture in Colonel Stuart's possession to be modern, yet I am of opinion, that the painter must have generally copied it from some very ancient monument. The Persian names may have been written by the modem artist; and even the costume of some of the figures may have been changed. From the position, however, of Suriya, or the Sun, the original may he supposed to be of not less ancient date than that exhibited in the Philosophical Transactions. Suriya is seated in a chariot drawn by seven horses, which are probably emblematical of the seven planets. But Suriya has his back turned to Virgo. Of whence we may suppose, that the solstitial point corresponded with that sign, when the zodiac was originally constructed.

Plate XV

In this Plate a miniature copy is given of the Camp of the Hebrews, slightly altered from Kircher's edition of it. The reasons which have induced me to make these changes are stated in different parts of my work.

It may be necessary for me to observe here, that when I wrote [xliv] my Dissertation on the 49th chapter of Genesis, I did not perceive so fully, as I do at present, the truth, or importance, of the system, which I have since adopted. I have consequently spoken with less attention to some astronomical facts than I should have done. Thus I have said, that astronomy was first cultivated in the East, when the Summer solstice answered to Leo. That this is a mistake, and that we ought to carry the origin of astronomy to a much more remote period, must be evident from the monuments, which I have been considering. There a^ also some other little errors of expression in the Dissertation, which, I trust, my candid readers will impute to my ignorance of the necessity of employing more precise and scientific language. I had almost unconsciously touched a part of a system; and I consequently did not suspect, that that part was connected with others, forming altogether the great whole, which has since opened on my view. When we speak of astronomical subjects,, we too often employ a familiar language, which does not strictly in most instances, and which does not at all in others, correspond with the truth. I believe, that in a few examples I have been guilty of this sort of negligence; but I hope in very few, indeed, where it can be essential to my general argument I must expect, however, that every advantage will be taken of every error which has escaped my pen.

There seems to me to be no doubt, that some changes were made in the arrangement of the standards of the tribes. I have as little doubt, that when Moses established the standards of Judah, Reuben, Ephraim, and Dan, as the principal ones in the camp of the Hebrews, that he did so rather in compliance with the prejudices of the people, than with his own judgment. The same thing must have influenced him in the choice of the cherubic heads. The solstitial and equinoctial points had ceased to answer to the Lion, to the Man with the pitcher, to the Bull, and to the Scorpion, for several centuries before the time of Moses. But the superstition of the people seems to have prevailed, and the ancient traditions confirmed the ignorant populace in all their notions.


Plate XVI

It has been objected to me, that in my Dissertation on the 49th chapter of Genesis, I have so often appealed to Hyginus, Columella, and other writers, for the rising and setting of the constellations, instead of referring to the time when Jacob died. My answer to this is very simple; we know pretty exactly the time when the above-mentioned writers lived; but I avow, I do not know precisely when Jacob died. If, however, any person has fixed that period to his own satisfaction, he will easily find the times of the rising and setting of the constellations by the help of his globe. In the mean time the reader may arrange the decans and paranatellons for each of the standards upon the plan, which I have given for that of Judah in this plate.

The paranatellons are represented on the standard, as the Jews, Egyptians, Persians, and Orientalists, have described them; and the correspondence of the symbols with Jacob's words appears very remarkable.



Jehovah appears to have selected Abraham and his posterity from the rest of mankind, for the purpose of preserving among them the knowledge of the true religion; but this knowledge, it would seem from the 6th chapter of Exodus, was not bestowed on the Patriarchs in all its plenitude. "And Elohim spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am Jehovah; and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of El Shaidai, but by my name Jehoveth was I not known unto them." The meaning is, that the true import of the word was not explained to the Patriarchs; for had they understood it, they would have known that there was no God but Jehovah, Now that Jacob did not possess this knowledge is evident from his words:—"And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, if Elohim will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then shall [2] Jehovah be my God." No man, who entertained just ideas of the existence of the Deity, could have thought of making such a bargain with Omnipotence; nor if Jacob had comprehended the name of Jehovah1 would he have fancied, that he might choose the God, whom he should adore. We must not be surprised, then, if we find traces of idolatry in the early history of the house of Israel:—if Rachel stole the Teraphim from her father Laban;—and if Jacob hid the strange Gods of his household under the oak of Sechem.

But since it appears from the Bible itself, that the Patriarchs were not acquainted with the divine nature in the same degree with Moses, and that they were not absolutely untinctured with polytheism, [3] it cannot appear extraordinary, that they were influenced by minor superstitions, and that, with all their neighbours, they were addicted to divination and astrology. We know, that Joseph was a diviner; and there are many circumstances from which we may conclude, that Jacob was an astrologer. The streaked rods which were set up by the latter, in order to produce the breeding of the cattle, seem to have been formed in imitation of the rod which is held by the man, who occupied the sign of the Balance in the Egyptian zodiac, and who presided in the kingdom of Omphtha over flocks and herds. It appears from Eusebius,2 that tradition, at least, represented Israel as an astrologer, who believed himself under the influence of the planet Saturn. Even at this day, the three great stars in Orion are called Jacob's staff, and the milky way is familiarly termed Jacob's ladder. This Patriarch had twelve sons, and tradition has allotted to each a sign of the zodiac. Kircher and Dupuis have pretended that the emblems, which were painted on the standards of the tribes in the camp of the Hebrews, were no other than the zodiacal signs; and Dupuis has endeavoured to corroborate this opinion, by the references which he has made to the 49th chapter
of Genesis.

I have to lament that Kircher, with all his Oriental learning; and Dupuis, with all his [4] astronomical knowledge, should have so very briefly examined this curious question, as to leave it little elucidated by their vague and cursory observations; and I have to regret this the more, that after having read the 49th chapter of Genesis in the original Hebrew, I cannot doubt, that the prophecies which it contains, are all couched under astronomical s3rmbols. It seems, indeed, extremely natural, that Jacob, who lived in times when mankind were almost universally addicted to astrology, should typify the future fortunes of his family by allusions to the celestial bodies.

Before I proceed, however, to analyse the chapter immediately under consideration, it may be proper to remark, that there is every reason to suppose, that the twelve signs of the zodiac were really painted on the standards of the twelve tribes of Israel. Aben Ezra reports, that according to the traditions, the figure of a man was painted on tlie ensign of Reuben, that of a bull on the ensign of Ephraim, that of a lion on the ensign of Judah, and that of an eagle on the ensign of Dan. If we turn to the Targum of Jonathan Ben Uzziel, we shall find that the lion is still ascribed to Judah, but that the bull is given to Reuben, the man to Ephraim, and a basilisk instead of an eagle, to Dan. The captains of these tribes were each the leader of a host, and a host was composed of three tribes. Thus Issachar and Zebulon were associated with Judah on the eastern side of the camp—Simeon and Gad with Reuben, on the south—[5] Manasseh and Benjamin with Ephraim on the west—and Asher and Naphtali with Dan on the north. Now the man, the bull, and the lion, evidently answers to the signs Aquarius, Taurus, and Leo. The basilisk may have been substituted for Scorpius, and the eagle appears to have been adopted as the symbol of that sign, which being deemed accursed, was rejected, if we can trust Kircher, by the tribe of Dan. But one of the most remarkable passages to this purpose is to be found in the Chaldaic paraphrase of the 6th chapter of the Song of Solomon. After a curious description of the precious stones on the breast-plate of the priests, the paraphrase proceeds—These 12 stones, which were typical of the 12 celestial signs, were lucid like to lamps, &c. Thus we see, that the notion of the signs of the zodiac having been painted on the standards of Israel is not quite without foundation; and it will be strongly confirmed, when we come to examine the 2nd chapter of Numbers, which I propose to do in a succeeding dissertation. I shall now endeavour to illustrate my system by laying before my readers an analysis of the 49th chapter of Genesis.

I. Jacob, upon his death-bed, having called his sons around him, in order to tell them that which should befall them in the last days, thus addresses himself to Reuben his eldest son:—"Reuben, thou art my first-born, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: unstable as water, thou [6] shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father's bed; then defilest thou it: he went up to my couch."

According to Aben Ezra, the figure of a man was painted on the ensign of Reuben; and this man is supposed by Kircher to have been Aquarius. In fact we find, that Jacob calls Reuben his first-born, the beginning of his strength &c. and these epithets apply very well to the Sun in the commencement of his course,3 after he has passed the winter solstice. The sign of Aquarius is typified by a man with a pitcher, whence he pours forth water. Reuben is said to be unstable as water. It is then remarked, that he shall not excel, because he went up to his father's bed; and we are thus reminded, that he had lain with Bilhal. The Oriental astronomers, and among others, Ulug Beig, still designate a remarkable asterism in the sign of Aquarius, by the name of Bida, or Bulha. This asterism rises, while the sun is yet in Capricorn, which is the domicile of Saturn, the star of Israel; and it sets towards the end of July, when Aquarius sets also with his head foremost, and when the ancients fabled, that he had made the Nile to overflow, by kicking down his urn. I know not, whether my reader will think that these circumstances, which have hitherto escaped observation, will tend, or not, to confirm the notions of Kircher and Dupuis.


II. Simeon and Levi are brethren.

Kircher has allotted the sign of Pisces to these brothers, but without giving any reason for the conjecture. I shall endeavour \o supply the deficiency.

Simeon and Levi are brethren.

In the astrological calendar, at the first degree of the first decan of Pisces, we find the following words;—Duo viri nnum caput hahentes.

Instruments of cruelty are in their habitations.

All the constellations, which are considered as noxious, are seen above the horizon, while the sun is in Pisces. It is then that Sagitta rises, that Scorpius, according to Columella, begins to set, accompanied with tempests; and that Andromeda, not yet delivered by Perseus, regards the monster that threatens to devour her. But this is not all; the descent of Pisces is fixed by Columella, for the fourteenth of the Ides of October, and consequently their disappearance was the prelude to the passage of the Sun into the sign of Scorpius, when the terrible reign of Typhon commenced. No sign appears to have been considered of more malignant influence than Pisces; and it appears [8] from the astrological calendar, that the emblems accompanying this constellation were chiefly indicative of death and violence. Thus we read in the second decan,

Vir in aquam mergens,
Duo equites conjligenfes,
Vir gladio se trcuniverhercuis, &c.

and in the third,

Mulier, viro dormienti, caput securi amjndat, &c.

O my soul, come not into their secret!

I am inclined to think that סר does not signify a secret, but a fetter or shackle. It will be recollected, that the fishes are united by a bond, or shackle, which the Greek astronomers called sometimes [Greek] and sometimes [Greek].

Unto their assembly my honour he not thou united!

The word ככר which is here translated honour, denotes in its primitive sense the action of light in irradiation. The Patriarch seems to say, in the language of astrology under which he veiled his prophecies,—let not the light of my star be united to their constellation.

For in their anger they slew a man.

Jacob seems to attribute all the effects produced by the rising of Scorpius to the descent of Pisces.


In fact, we have already observed, that the latter sign must descend before the former rises, and we shall probably find reason to think, that the ancient astrologers connected all the disasters of the Typhonian kingdom with the setting of the sign of Pisces. Columella fixes the passage of the sun into Scorpius on the thirteenth of the calends of November. We shall find, that this period, then, nearly corresponds with that in which Osiris was feigned to have been slain by Typhon, and when the death of Orion was attributed to the sting of the scorpion. The brilliant constellation of Orion sets shortly after the descent of Pisces, and immediately after the rising of Scorpius,

And in their self-will they digged down a wall.

This interpretation rests upon the authority of Jerome; but I conceive it to be erroneous, and I appeal against it to the Septuagint, the Samaritan copy, and to the Hebrew itself. I translate—in their self-will they castrated a hull. Now the Oriental astronomers represent Scorpius as devouring the genitals of Taurus; and, indeed, the stars called testiculi Tauri set precisely when Scorpius rises.

Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel.

I shall not trouble my reader with the fables which are told by the ancients, to account for the Pisces having been placed among the constel- [10] lations. It suffices to say, upon the authority of Plutarch and other writers, that both the Syrians and Egyptians abstained from eating fish, which they seem to have held in singular dread and abhorrence; and Plutarch tells us, that when the Egyptians had to represent any thing as odious, or to express hatred by hieroglyphics, they painted a fish.

I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.

His standard was taken from Levi, and his tribe was divided in the camp of the Hebrews. We may observe, that the two zodiacal fishes neither rise nor set together, and that Piscis Australis might have been confounded with the zodiacal Pisces. Indeed, we find in some of the ancient zodiacs, that only one fish is represented.

III. Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise. Thy hand shall be in the neck of all thine enemies; thy fathers children shall bow down before thee.

According to all the traditions, a lion was painted on the standard of Judah; and I can have no hesitation in agreeing with Kircher, that the sign of Leo was thereby indicated. "Thou art he," says the text, "whom thy brethren shall praise." While Taurus was the first of the signs, the summer solstice took place when the sun was [11] in Leo; and at that season of his highest elevation the Sun was held in the greatest honour. The annual festival of the Egyptians upon this occasion is mentioned by several authors, and among others by Heliodorus in his ninth book. "Thy hand shall be on the neck of all thine enemies." The Sun in Leo was adored by the Egyptians as the King, Osiris; by the Syrians as the Lord, Adonis; by the Tyrians as Melech-arets, "King of the earth;" and by the Greeks as Hercules, vanquisher of the Nemean lion. "Thy father's children shall bow down before thee." The sun being at its greatest altitude in Leo, the brothers of Judah are said to bow down before him. In the Indian sphere, in the second decan of the sign of Leo, a man is represented with a crown on his head, and a lance in his hand.

Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up; he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion ; who shall rouse him up?

The progress of the Sun through the sign of Leo, which, according to Aratus, was represented as a couching lion, is here clearly typified.

The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people he.

The constellation of Cepheus, King of Ethiopia, is still represented as a man with a crown on his [12] head, and with a sceptre in his hand. This constellation rises, according to Columella, on the 7th of the Ides of July. Thus Cepheus in the course of some days comes to rise under Leo, of which it continues to be the paranatellon until the Sun enters into the sign of Scorpius.

The word, מחקק, which we translate, a lawgivers shown by Bochart to be a corruption of חק, hyk, which was the old Ethiopian word for a King, We may then suppose, with some appearance of reason, that Hyk was the ancient Ethiopian and Egyptian name for the constellation of Cepheus, or King of Ethiopia. It has been said, that the Egyptians were not acquainted with the constellation of Cepheus; but it is probable, that they only did not recognize it under that name.4 The Arabians call it Keiphus and Cheic. The former of these names is evidently a corruption from the Greek, but the latter seems to be derived from Hyk, which should be pronounced chyk, with a strong guttural. But מחקק mehukek, "a lawgiver," being derived from Hyk, or rather perhaps being a corruption of this Ethiopian word, I cannot help thinking, that some allusion is made in the text to the constellation called the King of Ethiopia, which being seen very low in the northern hemisphere, when the Sun is in Leo, may be figuratively [13] said to be under the feet of the lion.5 Jacob thus distinctly says, "the constellation represented by a King hearing a sceptre, shall not cease to be the paranatellon of the Lion, which is the sign of Judah, until Shiloh corned.

It remains to be inquired, what is meant by Shiloh. The answer in a sacred sense is obvious; but there is also an astronomical allusion. The King with the sceptre sets about the time that Scorpius rises, and then ceases to be the paranatellon of the Lion. In Scorpius are two stars, which the Oriental astronomers call Sshulet; and the brightest of these is named Shuleh.

Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine.

In the first decan of the sign Leo in the Persian sphere, I find the head of a horse, and the head of an ass.

In the second decan of the Persian sphere (b) I find the middle of the horse and ass advanced ; and in the third decan their hind parts.

At the sixth and ninth degrees of the second decan (b) in the astrological calendar, formed from Egyptian monuments, I read the words,

Asinus frceiiatus
Virfrceiw equum trahens.

[14] In the last volume of Kircher's Oedipus, my reader will see the representation of an old Egyptian lamp, on which Silenus is drawn mounted on the head of an ass, which is girt round with grapes and vine leaves. Osiris, as we learn from Herodotus, was the same with Bacchus. His station was in Leo, and it is of him that Tibullus says,

Hie docuit teneram palis adjurigere vitem.
Hie viridem durd ccederefalce comam;
Illi jucundos primUm matura sapores
Expressa iiicidtis uva dedit pedihus,

I believe, in all symbols of the physical world, where the operation of necessary causes is meant to be indicated, that bonds are chosen as the proper hieroglyphic. We have seen from indubitable evidence, that a horse, and an ass, were introduced into the ancient Oriental representations of the sign of Leo; and when Jacob says, "binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine," I conclude, that he alludes to the necessary influence of the sun in Leo, in ripening the fruits of the earth. This, indeed, is evident from his concluding words, in his address to Judah. He washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: his eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk. The passage is well paraphrased by Onkelos: Of fine purple shall be his raiment; splendid, and of various hues shall be his tabernacle: [15] his mountains shall he reddened with grapes; his hills shall distil his wines; and his fields shall he whitened with corn, and with his flocks of sheep. The writer is clearly speaking of the Sun, when he clothes the skies with fire, ripens the grapes, and turns the colour of the corn.

IV. Zebulon shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven for ships.

The standard of Zebulon, according to Kircher, ought to have represented the sign of Capricorn. M. Dupuis has adopted the same notion; but his reason for admitting it is certainly of no great weight. I must suppose, that Kircher had found some tradition on the subject; for, after a tedious examination, I am inclined to agree with him, though he has not given the slightest intimation why he has referred this sign to Zebulon.

I ought, however, in the first place, to remark, that instead of a haven for ships, we should read a haven for a ship. A masculine noun ending in י and assuming a feminine form in the singular, takes ת final rather than ה. Thus אגית is the regular feminine singular of אגי, though sometimes written—אגיה. In the plural the regular form is אגית. (Is. c. ii. v. 16.) We shall then translate, a haven for a ship. The ship Argo is one of the most remarkable of the constellations. It will be found that this ship descends under the horizon, when the sign of Capricorn rises.6 But Hyginus [16] will explain the matter better;—Capricornis eocorieiis hcec sidera ad terram premere videtur; reliquam Jiguram Navis et signum, &c. This seems to indicate why Zebulon is called a haven for a ship.

And his border shall be unto Zidon, (Tsidon),

When we examine the countries belonging to the tribe of Zebulon, and to the Zidonians, we shall find, that they did not border upon each other. The allusion, therefore, seems to be astronomical rather than geographical. Tsidon, may be translated the great hunter; and this probably was Arcitenens, or Sagittarius, who occupies the sign next to that of Capricorn, and whom the Greeks fabled to have been originally a famous hunter of the name of Crotus.

V. Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens.

Kircher allots the sign of Cancer to Issachar; and Dupuis makes the following short remark upon the subject: Le Cancer, ou sont les etoiles appellees les dnes, forvfie Vempreinte du pavilion d Issachar que Jacob assimile d Vdne. I am upon the whole inclined to agree with these authors. The ass was the emblem of Typhon; and we learn from Plutarch, that in the month Payni, when the Sun is in the sign of Cancer, the Egyptians baked cakes, on which an ass was represented as [17] bound. The Greeks, whose fables on the subject it would be useless to repeat, placed two asses in the sign of Cancer, where they still remain under that designation; and near to them we find the asterism called Praesepe, or the Manger. Now it will be observed, that the Hebrew words [Heb.], should not be translated couching down between two burdens, but two partitions, such as separate the stalls in a stable.

And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.

We shall probably be struck with surprise, when we find in the astrological calendar, taken from the Egyptians, the singular mixture which is there exhibited of rest and labour, of indolence and activity, in the three decans of Cancer. Out of the thirty emblems I shall select the following:

Mulieres dua otiosce.
Duo viri stantes coram duahus mulieribus sedentibus.
Virgo stans otiosa virum expectando.
Mulier dextrdfusum tenens.
Navis stans in aqud.
Vir spolium humeris portans.
Puer sedens.
Mulier stans otiosa.
Canis sedens in cumi.
Vir stans otiosus.
AqiLa projluens,
Equus equam insiliens.
Equips liber vagans in campestrihus.
Aquajluens ex Tnontihus,
Equus frosnatus.
Navis fluitans in aquis.

In the account of the Indian sphere I find these words at the third decan of Cancer.

Homo cogitans navem inscendere navigandi causdy ad importandum aurum et argentum, annulis uxorum ejus fabricandis.

Issachar found that rest was good, but he bowed his shoulder to the burden, and became a servant unto tribute; and it is said in the 33rd chapter of Deuteronomy, that Zebulon and Issachar shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of the treasures hid in the sands.7

VI. Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path; that biteth the horse's heels, so that his rider shall fall backwards.


We have seen, that Jonathan, in his Targum, pretends that a basilisk was painted on the standard of Dan, and that Aben Ezra asserts, that it was an eagle. Kircher and Dupuis both concur in thinking, that Scorpius was the sign allotted to Dan; and, I trust, I shall be able to corroborate their opinion by proofs, of which they either had no knowledge, or which they have neglected to adduce.

Scorpius was considered by the ancient astrologers as a sign accursed. The Egyptians fixed the entrance of the Sun into Scorpius as the commencement of the reign of Typhon, when the Greeks also fixed the death of Orion, and the Persians the emasculation of the bull.

Kircher tells us that the Scorpion was refused by the tribe of Dan; but I am inclined to think, that that sign was originally represented by another emblem, both by the Jews and by the Egyptians. Most certainly the crocodile was an emblem of Typhon, and the Greeks may Have changed the form of the crocodile into that of the scorpion. Be this as it may, the dreaded emblem was to be avoided, and Dan made choice either of the Basilisk, or of the Eagle. Now the Eagle, or Vulture, with the lyre, rises with the first part of Sagittarius, and is to be considered as a paranatellon of Scorpius; and Coluber (the Adder) is placed on the Scorpion's back. But I am inclined to think, that the Eagle, or Vulture, was commonly assumed as the ensign of Dan. There are [20] four great stars in opposite points of the heavens—Fomalhaut, which is in the head of Piscis Australis, may be said to belong to Aquarius—Aldebaran, which is in the front of Taurus, is called his eye, though in the ancient representations of the sign, it was at a little distance from his head—Megultis, which is in the middle of Leo, is frequently called cor Leonis—and Aritares, which is in the middle of Scorpius, is denominated cor Scorpii. The Orientalists were much occupied with these four stars, which had formerly answered to the Solstitial and Equinoctial points. But Antares is found in the midst of the accursed constellation. It was, therefore, natural for Dan to look out for another brilliant star, and to choose a constellation for his ensign, which might not be affected by the evil influence of Scorpius. In the Eagle, or Vulture, shines the large star called Asengue; and it probably helped to direct him to choose the constellation, in which he found it.

Dan, it is said, shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path.

Close to Scorpius, and by the Zodiac, which is the solar way, we find the Adder, which is called Coluber, or Serpens Ophiuci.

That biteth the horse's heels, so that the rider shall fall backwards.

If we allow, that a man on horseback first gave [21] the idea of a centaur, we may easily admit, that a man on horseback first occupied the place, among the constellations, which is now held by Centaurus. Now I believe it will be found, that the head of the adder ascends at the same time with the feet of Centaurus, who rises heliacally with Scorpius.

Perhaps the allusion may be to Sagittarius, followed in his descent by Scorpius and the Adder, his concomitant. But the allusion will also apply to Hydra, a paranatellon of Scorpius,

At etiam Centaurus occidit cum Hydrd.     Hyg.

But the most surprising thing, which I have remarked on the subject of Dan, is what is mentioned in the 19th chapter of Joshua, and in the 18th chapter of the book of Judges. There we learn that the Danites took possession of a city called Laish, or Lashem, &c., to which they gave the name of Dan. It seems very remarkable, that there are stars in Scorpius still called Leshaxi, Leshat, Lesos, &c. In fact the Greeks give this last name to Antares, from the Chaldeans, by whom it was called Lesh, or Lesha, My reader may consider these things, and then judge for himself.

VII. Gad, a troop shall overcome him, hut he shall overcome at the last.

When I first read this, I was inclined to assign Capricorn to Gad. R. Solomon, and other Rabbins, distinctly tell us, that a certain cluster of [22] stars was called Gad; and these stars, we know, are to be found in Capricorn, which sign is called Giedi by the Arabians, Gadia by the Chaldeans, and Gadi by the Syrians, all of which are manifest corruptions from Gad. But it now appears to me that Aries was assumed by Gad as his ensign.

Columella fixes the 24th of December as the period of the winter solstice, and the 24th of March as that of the vernal equinox. Now the Sun was feigned to be born anew at the winter solstice, and was then represented by the Egyptians under the form of the infant Harpocrates. At the vernal equinox, he passed to the upper hemisphere into the region of light. But the new birth of the Sun had taken place, when he was in the sign of Capricorn, where a troop, or cluster, of stars, had received the name of Gad, which signifies a troop ; and as this was considered a happy epoch, Gad came to be adored as a Deity, that presided over the fortunes of men, and that was known under the name of Baal-Gad. The appellation of Gad, which seems to have come in the end to signify the fortunate, was thus probably associated with the Sun, when he ascended to the upper hemisphere.

That Gad assumed Aries as his ensign is probable from the traditions, but I chiefly infer it from the text before us, and from a passage which I shall have presently to cite from Deuteronomy.

Gad, as I have already observed, originally signified a troop; and we must remember, that [23] the sign of Aries is called Princeps Zodiaci, Ductor eocercitils Zodiaci, Dux gregis, Princeps signorum, &c. It is said, that a troop shall overcome Gad, but that he shall overcome at the last. Aries seems to be the symbol of the Sun, who after having descended to, and returned from, the lower hemisphere, contends for his place in the upper hemisphere; and the ancients accordingly represented him as struggling against the constellations, which they typified by a ram butting with his horns. In the 33rd chapter of Deuteronomy we read, that "Gad had provided the first part for himself, because there, in a portion of the lawgiver, was he seated." The year of the Hebrews commenced in the month Nisan, when the Sun was in Aries, and thus we may understand how Gad provided the first part for himself. He was seated in a portion of the lawgiver, whom we have seen to be Cepheus: and according to Hipparchus, the Zodiac, ab Arietis 8 medid parte ad 14, descends with the crown and sceptre of Cepheus, In the Persian sphere, a young man is here represented sitting on a throne.8


Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties.

The Balance, according to Kircher, was the emblem painted on the standard of Asher.

In the astrological calendar taken from Egyptian monuments, I find under Libra the following emblems of that abundance, which the text indicates as coming out of Asher.

Vir utrdque manu spiculum tenens.
Vir arvum equis arans.
Vir aratrum trahens.
Villa cum domihics bend omatis.
Arbor frondosa in horto, &c.

In the account of the Indian sphere, and under the sign of Libra, I read as follows:

Homo in tabernd institorid in foro manu tenens stateram ad emendum et vendendum.

In the 33rd chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses thus addresses Asher—Let Asher be blessed with children, let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil. Thy shoes shall be iron and brass, and as thy days so shall thy strength be. The happy season, when the Sun was in Libra, was represented by a man [Greek] in the Egyptian Zodiac, who held a streaked rod in one hand, and a balance in the other. We often find the balance alone. Perhaps when it is said, [25] thy shoes shall he iron and brass, some allusion is made to the scales of the balance.9

IX. Naphthali is a hind set loose; he giveth goodly words.

This seems to me to be unintelligible. I have no hesitation in translating with Bochart, arbor surculosus edens ramos pulchritvdinis.10 The traditions allot the sign of Virgo to Naphthali.

A tree then was probably the symbol painted on the standard of Naphthali; but what has a tree to do with the sign of Virgo? R. Avenar, the Jewish astrologer, tells us that a tree was represented by the Egyptians beside the side of Virgo. In the Zodiacs found at Dendera, Virgo is represented with the branch of a palm-tree in her hand. In the calendar, to which I have so often referred, I find under the sign of Virgo the following emblems:

Vir sub abiete sedens.
Arbor frondosa in gramine.

When, then, we consider, that instead of translating Naphthali is a hind set loose, he giveth goodly words; we should render, Naphthali is a tree shooting forth, producing goodly branches; we shall [26] have no great difficulty in fixing the sign, to which we may suppose Jacob made allusion.

We read in the 33rd chapter of Deuteronomy, O Naphihali, satisfied mthfavouvy and full of the blessings of Jehovah, possess thou the west and the south.

Let us take the summer solstice in the sign of Leo, where it had been in fact, when astronomy was first cultivated in the East. After the solstice, then, the Sun entered the sign of Virgo, which I suppose to have been the emblem of Naphtlali. The possession of Naphthali was consequently to be in the South and the West, for the Sun had begun to return from the northern hemisphere towards the equator. It will be observed, that this address of the sacred historian can be by no means applied to the geographical position of the tribe of Naphthali.

X. Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches run over a wall

In the original the words are as follow:


According to the traditions, Taurus was the emblem of Ephraim, who assumed the standard of his father Joseph, whom Moses compares with a young bull.

I find the Hebrew words, above cited, full of allusions to the sign of Taurus.

The words בןפרת, which arc translated a fruitful bough, may be rendered filius vaccce. Thus we find [27] in Job, his cow. Should my reader, however, prefer the usual interpretation, he will find that Theon compares the Pleiades, the concomitants of Taurus, with clusters of grapes; and Onkelos, m his Targum, gives us to understand, that the fruitful bough in question was a vine branch.

That עין, ain, in a metaphorical sense, may signify a well, is undeniable; but its proper meaning is an eye. Now it will be recollected that the great star, which the Arabians commonly call Aldebaran, is also named by them Ain-al-tor "the bull's eye;" and, (if I understand Riccioli rightly) it is sometimes termed simply ain, "the eye," I cannot help thinking that ain, in the passage before us, means ain-al-tor, "the bull's eye."

Benoth properly signifies daughters, and it seems very strange to translate it "whose branches." But I imagine, that an allusion is here made to the Pleiades, which the Chaldeans called Succoth Benoth, and the Arabians Benat Alnash, This group of stars was represented by a hen and seven chickens; and Succoth Benoth is thus symbolised in the Mithraic monuments, and in the Egyptian Zodiacs. But my reader will find this more fully explained in the Pantheon Hebraeorum.

The word שור, shor is translated a wall: its more obvious signification is a bull.

The archers have solely vexed him, and shot at him, and hated him.

Immediately after the Sun has passed into Sagit- [28] tarius, the head of Taurus, according to Columella, begins to set.

But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob: from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel.

I cannot help suspecting, that the word קשר is not always properly translated a bow. The bow, indeed, is only called קשר from its being stiff, and hard to bend.

Arms in English may signify either arma or brachia, but it is only in the latter sense that it can be translated arms. Now brachia manuum ejus seems to me to be very like nonsense. I conceive the proper meaning of it is semina. The Patriarch seems to be alluding to that season when the Sun is in Taurus and when all nature may be said to germinate.

From thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel.

I am unable to say what is the astronomical allusion intended in this place. Perhaps reference is made to the brilliant constellation of Orion. I observe, that the Arabians call one of the stars of Orion by the name of Al rai, "the shepherd." Perhaps an allusion was made to Horus, the type of the vernal Sun, and the representative of the principle of generation among the Egyptians.

We may then translate the whole passage literally—A son of a cow, (meaning the celestial bull, or [29] sign of Taurus) is Joseph, a son of a cow beside Ain; (meaning Ain-al-Tor, the great star commonly called Aldeharan) the Benoth (meaning Succoth Benoth, or the Pleiades, whose station is on the back of Taurus) walk upon the hull. The archers (probably alluding to Sagittarius) have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him. But his bow11 abode in strength, and the seeds of his hands were strengthened from the hands of the mighty one of Jacob, whence the shepherd, the stone of Israel.

Now let my reader turn to Hyde, Hist. Rel. Vet. Pers. p. 113, where he will find four representations of the Sun in Taurus, taken from the Mithraic monuments, and let him compare them with the passage before us.

Mithras is represented upon the back of a young bull, which he pierces with a dagger, and its blood, the symbol of fertilisation, trickles down upon the ground. At some distance is seen the head of another bull, and a fruit-tree is placed over its head. If, therefore, we prefer the common translation of בןפרת, a fruitful bough, we shall have the sense explained by this monument, where we see a fruitful bough upon the bull's head, where is the star called Ain, or Aldeharan. In the next compartment, a hen and seven stars, called Succoth Benoth, or the Pleiades, are seen on the back of a bull, and the [30] text says, the Benoth walk upon the bull. A flying arrow is represented as ready to pierce the breast of Taurus, and we are told, that the archers shot at Joseph. But his bow abode in strength, and the seeds of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob. Before Mithras and the bull stands the personified principle of generation, who sheds his seed upon the ground. Now be it observed, that the God Hor was the Priapus of the Egyptians, and Kircher has proved, that Taurus was the station of Hor. Lucian has described this God—but I must give the translation of the passage in Latin—dextra manu sceptrum tenebat—Imvd suam ipsius mentulam a.rrectam, qtidd semina hunio tecta in apertum emittat.

If Jacob really meant to make no allusion to the sign of Taurus, it seems very strange that we should find so many circumstances which seem directly to relate to it.

XI. Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.

I differ from Kircher and Dupuis concerning the ensign of Benjamin, which I suppose to have been the Twins.

The entire appearance of the constellation of Centaurus, and his Wolf, is fixed by Columella for the 5th of the Nones of May.

Among other Oriental symbols of the sign which [31] we call Gemini, Avenar, the Jewish astrologer, reckons the Wolf, which he calls zeeb, the very word in the text.

In the account of the symbols contained in the Persian sphere, I read, at the second decan of Gemini—Homo tenens instrumentum musicum aureum, quo canit. Bestia arbore insistens. LVPVS, in cujiLS anteriore pede est signum.

My reader may also take the following circumstances into consideration:

1. Among the Egyptians, Gemini, was the sign in which Anubis had his station.
2. Anubis was the type of the planet Mercury, which is sometimes a morning, and sometimes an evening, star.
3. The horizon, immediately before the rising, and immediately after the setting, of the Sun, was symbolised by Anubis.
4. Diodorus Siculus represents Anubis as hunting for prey.
5. Julius Firmicus calls him Anubis Venator.
6. Bochart has shown, that the wolf was called גאב quasi והב, that is, zeeb, quasi golden, from its colour; and Jablonski pretends, that Anubis signifies gold in Egyptian, and that the God received that name quasi golden.

It may be observed, that Joseph and Benjamin were the sons of Rachel. But Rachel is Hebrew for a sheep. The signs taken by these brothers [32] properly follow the sign of the sheep, which was variously called a ram, a sheep, and a lamb, in different languages.

12. The sign of Sagittarius alone remains for Manasseh: and if I be right in my former conjectures, I cannot be mistaken in this; but having already written so much on the standards of the tribes, I shall leave it to the ingenuity of my readers to supply what I have left unsaid on the subject of Manasseh.

It then is only incumbent on me to add, that Jacob's employing astronomical symbols, in order to convey his prophecies, can by no means take away either from their truth, or from their importance; nor do I conceive, that their application is less obvious now, than it was before.



The fourteenth chapter of Genesis, if taken merely as a piece of history, certainly appears to contain a very extraordinary relation of events. Eight Kings, among whom one was King of Admah, (that is, King of the earth,) and another was King of Nations, had been subject during twelve years to Chedorlaomer, King of Elam. In the thirteenth year, five of these Princes rebelled against their chief, and in the fourteenth year were defeated by him in the vale of Siddim, where four kings strove against five. But after this splendid victory of the King of Elam, he had, it seems, the rashness to carry away the shepherd Lot among his captives; and this mighty monarch, this King of Kings, who had subdued the King of the Earth, and in whose train was the King of Nations, is in his turn pursued, defeated, and slaughtered, by the shepherd Abraham and his household servants.

I presume not to deny, that this may be a true narrative. It seems difficult, however, to under- [34] stand, who the monarchs were, who came to contend in the Vale of Siddim; and it appears singular, that we know nothing of the kingdom of Elam,—that the vague title of the King of the Earth should be given to a tributary prince,—and that another of these potentates should be indicated by the equally indefinite description of King of Nations. I shall not take notice of the idle conjectures of those, who have supplied by bold assertions, whatever has been left doubtful, by the silence of the sacred historian. I shall only observe, that since Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, before they vanquished the rebels in the Vale of Siddim, had already overthrown the Rephaims, the Zuzims, the Emims, the Horites, the Amalekites, and the Amorites, their force must have been, indeed, considerable; and that, while we are still unable to discover where were their dominions, we can entertain no doubts of the magnitude of their power, or of the terror, which must have been inspired by their arms.

I acknowledge, that I believe the chapter before us to be rather a typical illustration than an historical narrative. I am aware of the objections which may be urged against those, who too fondly seek for allegory in the Scriptures; but I am not convinced that we are bound either by reason, or by faith, to assert that allegorical illustrations were never veiled by the sacred penmen, under the guise of recorded facts.

It is well known, that Tsabaism, or the worship [35] of the hosts of heaven, had seduced mankind from the religion of Nature and of God. The Deity, therefore, appears to have instructed Abram and his posterity in the knowledge of the true religion, not only that this knowledge might be transmitted from generation to generation among the chosen people, but that the people might not be without witnesses of the continued exercise of the divine Providence; when, at last, the Gentile nations should be called upon to partake of the blessings produced by the most glorious of its dispensations. But so powerful is example;—so prone are men to fall into error:—and so favourable were the Heathen superstitions to the gratification of the passions, that the Hebrews, amidst an uninterrupted succession of miracles, were continually relapsing into that idolatry, from which the divine interposition was still necessary to rescue them. Separated from the rest of mankind,—with all his natural liberties abridged,—the slave of institutions which were as rigid as they were singular;—Israel sighed for the comparative freedom, the milder laws, and the religious tolerance of the Gentiles. He remembered Egypt—her wealth, her magnificence, her wisdom, her power, and her luxury. He beheld himself an emigrant and a wanderer. His way was the path of the outcast—his possession, the gloom of the Desert. When he hoped, it was as a robber; and when he thought of enjoyment, it was as a plunderer and a spoliator. He had no leisure for contemplating the divine nature and [36] attributes, while he fled from before the face of Pharaoh; while he murmured for bread in the wilderness of Sin, or while he thirsted for water by the rock of Horeb. He saw, indeed, that miracles were worked in his favour; that Jehovah had led him through the sea; and that, if there were other Gods, his God was mightier than they were; but he conceived not the existence of a supreme and immaterial Being, whose throne is the Heavens, and whose empire is the Universe. He beheld Jehovah descend in fire on Mount Sinai, and heard the voice of the trumpet that made him tremble in his camp; and yet his soul longed for the superstitions of the Heathen, and his heart still clave to the dark idolatries of Egypt. Even the sight of the promised land could not conquer the stubbornness of Israel. He could not learn to refer the existence of all things to a single and primary principle; he could not imagine the operation of power which was to be attributed to an invisible and incorporeal agent; and where he could not account for many, and for extraordinary effects, he was tempted by example, and perhaps inclined by superstition, to seek for the causes in beings, whom his credulity exalted to the rank, and whom his fears invested with the power, of Gods.

The opinions and example of others seem to have had much influence on the Hebrews. from the Nile to the Nubian Desert on one hand, and to the Euphrates on the other, the infatuated nations adored the Sun, the Moon, and the Hosts [37] of Heaven. After men had lost the knowledge of the true God, it may be easily conceived that they fell into this species of idolatry. The human mind is ever restless until it has associated effects with causes; but when this association is once made, we seldom give ourselves the trouble of examining whether it be just or not. In a fine climate, and under a serene sky, the attention of the people was naturally, and seems to have been continually, directed to the observation of the celestial bodies, the movements of which soon came to be connected in their minds with the fate of individuals, and with the destinies of Empires. But where there is influence, there is power; and where there is power, there must be both choice and knowledge. Men probably did not mark the gradations by which they came to attribute life and action to inanimate objects; and yet where superstitious ignorance once acknowledges an undefined and superior power, the steps are few which lead it to all the rest.

There can be no system of religion but the true one, which is capable of satisfying a reasoning and reflecting mind. We may believe, that as the Chaldeans and Egyptians advanced in knowledge, their learned men secretly renounced, while they continued openly to teach, the errors of Tsabaism, which, in the hands of such men, could have been nothing else than a system of astronomy imposed on the people as a system of religion. Accordingly we find, that the popular Gods of Egypt were in fact mere astronomical symbols. The Sun, the [38] Moon, and the Stars, were personified and deified; the conjunction and opposition of planets were made subjects of joy or of lamentation; and blessings, or misfortunes, were supposed to follow the rising, or the setting, of the unconscious constellations. When the learned had to mark the commencement of new cycles, or to denote the periodical revolutions of the Stars, new gods were introduced into the Pantheon, as regularly as changes were noticed in the calendar. As astronomical periods succeeded each other, the Sun, under new appellations, was adored on the throne of the heavens; and even as he proceeded in his annual course through the signs of the zodiac, he was hailed by new names, and was worshipped under different attributes. Hence the Egyptian figments concerning the dynasties and the wars of the Gods; and hence all the marvels and the monsters, which sprang from the allegorical mythology of Egypt.

From the most impartial examination which I have been able to give to the subject, I believe the mythology of the Chaldeans and Egyptians to have been chiefly founded on astronomy, and I think that hero-worship was ever unknown to those ancient nations. This was, indeed, the clumsy invention of a more degraded superstition; and I attribute it with pain to the most amiable and ingenious, but not the most scientific, people of antiquity. Still, however, hero-worship seems to have been connected with Tsabaism. The mob of deified mortals, composed of heroes, of tyrants, of [39] women, and of boys, was stationed in the starry-heavens. Cepheus, Perseus, and Hercules, were, from remote antiquity, fabled to have ascended to the sky, where Cassiopeia and Andromeda have each a portion of the celestial sphere, where Orion leads on the most brilliant of the constellations, and where his eagle had borne the favourite of Jupiter, ages before a place was there allotted to the minion of Adrian.

When then we consider the general prevalence of Tsabaism among the neighbouring nations, we shall wonder less at the proneness of the Hebrews to fall into this species of idolatry. Neither shall we be surprised at the anxious efforts of their lawgiver to persuade and convince them of the vanity of these superstitions, when we recollect, that though he could command the elements, and give new laws to nature, he could not impose fetters on the free-will of others. With such a power as this he was by no means invested; for the Almighty, in offering to the Hebrews the clearest proofs of his existence, by no means constrained their belief. It cannot be doubted, that by an act of power, God might have coerced submission, and have commanded conviction; but had there been no choice, there could have been no merit in the acceptance of his law.

Since, then, Jehovah did not compel the people to acknowledge his existence, by fettering their free-will, it was natural for his servant Moses to represent, by types and by symbols, the errors of the Gentile nations; and it is in no manner sur- [40] prising, that the past, the existing, and the future, situation of the Hebrews, as well as the religious, moral, and political state of their neighbours, should be alluded to in symbolical language by an historian, who was also a teacher and a prophet.

Above all things, however, it is evident, that the establishment of the true religion was the great object of the divine legation of Moses. To attain this purpose, it was not enough that he performed the most surprising miracles. His countrymen acknowledged the existence of Jehovah; but with him they reckoned, and were but too willing to adore, other Gods. Is it then surprising, that the false notions of religion entertained by the Gentiles should be pointed out in the writings of Moses, and that their religious systems should be there made to appear what they really were,—the astronomical systems of scientific idolaters?

In the chapter before us, I see nothing that does not accord with this notion. It seems to me, that Moses intended to typify the history of the Gods of Egypt, and to show, that they were astronomical symbols. After having done this, he clearly intimates the overthrow of idolatry, and the establishment of the true religion; and insinuates in no ambiguous terms, that the superstitions of the Gentiles, though interwoven with the laws, and countenanced by the prejudices, of mighty empires, should be at last destroyed through the means of a people, insignificant alike from their power and their numbers. Finally he introduces the Priest of [41] the Most High God, whose appearance in this place is surely symbolical.

But it is time that I proceed to the proof of what I have been hitherto generally stating. I must observe, however, in the first place, that I assume the acquaintance of my reader with Egyptian mythology and astronomy, to be sufficiently extensive, to enable him to follow the observations, which I shall have to make concerning both. It is only necessary then, that I remind him, that for the most part in all the ancient oriental languages, and almost invariably in Hebrew, proper names are significant. Let us now proceed to our analysis.

And it cane to pass in the days of Amraphel.

The Chaldeans were accustomed to call the sign of Aries amra, or amar, and the Syrians amro—i.e. agnus. Amarphel or amraphel, seems to be a contraction for amraphela, "the wonderful lamb," or for "the lamb of separation."—Ammon, or the Sun in the sign of Aries, was probably intended to be typified.

King of Shinar.

Melech, Moloch, or King, was a common solar title.

Shinar, I conceive to be a compound word; I imagine שן shan to be the name, under which the [42] annual Sun was worshipped. A temple was built to this God by the Philistines, who fastened the body of Saul to the wall of the house of Shan.

Ar signifies ''an enemy." Aries is certainly the station of Mars; but I rather think that ער should be written יער iar, because the Arabians call the plain of Babylon, to which this name of Shinar, or Shanar, was transferred, Shaniar, or Shiniar. It would then be Shan of the wood, or grove. Now Strabo12 mentions that the temple of Ammon was placed in the midst of a grove, which formed a singular contrast with the surrounding desert.13 See also Lucian de Dea Syria.

I am inclined to think, then, that Amraphel, Melech, Shan-ar, are only so many titles, or symbols, descriptive of the Sun in the sign of Aries, who was worshipped by the Egyptians under the name of Ammon.

Arioch, ari, is the Hebrew for a lion, but it is peculiarly applied in the cognate dialects to the sign of Leo.

Och, or Uch, was a term of honour, and ari-och probably signified Leo praeclarus.

King of Ellasar. Where was this Kingdom of [43] Ellasar, which must have been read Sellasar by some of the Greek translators, and Tellasar by Jonathan? Hieronymus understood that it was Pontus, but I know not on what authority. In Hebrew the word is written אלסר, and without any masorah may be read Elsar. El, may signify mighty, or it may signify God. Sar, Ser, or Sir, (for the sound of the supplied vowel is of no manner of consequence) was a title frequently given to the Sun by the Egyptians, but particularly in the sign of Leo.

Osiris was a symbolical name of the Sun, and, like other enigmas, was probably intended to convey several meanings. There may be reason to think, as I have stated elsewhere, that the initial vowel, which we know to have been changeable, was frequently left out. The termination in is is evidently Greek. The name may then be expressed in Coptic letters sir Sir, or, if the article be prefixed, ou----sir, which comes sufficiently near to the Greek. Leo was the domicile of Osiris, or of the Sun.

The river Nile, which had assumed its greatest height, when the Sun was in Leo, was called Siris, or rather Sir, by the Ethiopians. Thus Stephanus says, [Greek]—Syene is a city of Egypt, and of Ethiopia, upon the Nile; beyond which the river is named Siris.

This name was undoubtedly given to the Nile, because it had already attained its greatest eleva- [44] tion, when the Sun was worshipped under his character of Osir, or Sir. Hence, indeed, the river was said to owe its origin to Osiris. Plutarch strongly expresses this. [Greek]—they call the Nile the father and the saviour of the region and a fluxion of Osiris.

There seems to be a strange corruption which is made by the Greeks of the Name of the Egyptian month, which is said to have answered to August.


I cannot help suspecting the initial me in mesori to be nothing else than the Egyptian sign, which is usually prefixed to a noun to denote it to be such. The vowels were probably supplied by the author to suit his verse.

The stars in the sign of Leo now occupy the place, which was held by those of Virgo a little more than two thousand years ago.

The Dog-star was probably called Sir (in Latin Sirius) from its rising heliacally, shortly after the time that the Sun was in Leo, and while that luminary was worshipped under the name of Sir, or Osir,

The Persians and Indians still call the sign of Zeo, by the name of Shir, or Sir.

I have already observed, that it imports little with what vowels we supply the radicals S. R. Serapis evidently combined the names of Ser and Apis. That Sir, or Osir, whom the Greeks called Osiris, [45] was the same with Apis, may be proved from Strabo and other writers, whose words I have cited in another place.

But the word Sar, Ser or Sir, also denoted a certain cycle. Its duration was 3600 years, according to Berosus. Suidas gives a different account of it, for he makes it consist of only 222 months and a half. The Sar, or Chaldean cycle called Saros by the Greeks, has embarrassed astronomers. Halley having found the cycle mentioned by Pliny to consist of 223 lunar months, and not of 222, as wrongly printed in the common editions, has pretended, that this period is no other than the Saros, and that the text of Suidas should be corrected in the same manner. The reasoning of Halley upon this point is generally rejected; and has been refuted both by M. Goguet and by M. Le Gentil. We must then adopt the text of Berosus and his followers, and read 3,600 years. But this period, says M. Goguet, (like that assigned by Suidas,) is one to which we can apply no astronomical operation.

Now this does not appear to be quite correct. The cycle called the Neros was of 600 years duration; and M. Goguet agrees with Cassini in thinking it one of the finest periods which has yet been found. But after the completion of this period for the sixth time, that is to say at the end of 3,600 years, it would be found that a very sensible disorder had resulted from it. Cassini, I believe, allows the error of one second for each lunar month; and makes the Solar year of the Chaldeans to amount to 365 days, [46] 5 hours, 51 minutes, and 36 seconds. In order not to be embarrassed with fractions, let us assign the error of one second to each solar month in the Chaldean calculation. Then at the completion of the sixth revolution of the Neros, or at the end of 3,600 Chaldean solar years, there would be an error amounting to about 63 hours and a half for the whole period. It can scarcely be supposed, that a people so scientific as the Chaldeans would fail to remark this; and they consequently would reform their calendar. Thus the Egyptians, when they perceived that the Sothis, or the Thoth as it was sometimes called, did not make a perfect period, multiplied this cycle by 25, and obtained their great year. This has always appeared to me an extraordinary proof of the science of a people whom we affect to treat with contempt.

M. Goguet further observes, that the name of Sar, given to this period, would suffice to prove, that it was composed of lunar months, because the Chaldean word sar signifies menstruus, or lunaris. This statement is not quite accurate. The word sahar, or sahara, signifies the moon in Chaldaic; but that luminary is only so called from its globular form, because the proper and original signification of sahara is rotundity. I rather imagine, therefore, that the cycle was called sar from its being a round period, at the conclusion of which the Sun and the Moon ought to return to the points, at which they were found at its commencement. That Ari-Och, Melech, El-sar, were words ex- [47] pressive of name astronomical symbol I can hardly doubt. Concerning the enigmatical manner of writing and speaking among the Egyptians, I conceive it to be unnecessary to make any remarks; but that this manner has been copied in the text appears sufficiently evident.

Chedorlaomer King of Elam.

The name of Chedorlaomer is thus explained by Jonathan in his Targum.


This is the ligament revolving itself about the sheaves.

This seems a very singular name for a great monarch. Nevertheless Jonathan's explanation of the word appears to be nearly just. I confess, however, I can only understand it as an astronomical symbol. According to the Egyptian mythology, Isis was said to have dropped a sheaf of com as she fled from Typhon, who scattered it over the heavens, as he continued to pursue her.

In the Egyptian Zodiac Isis, whose place was supplied by Virgo, was represented sometimes with the leaf of a palm-tree, and sometimes with three ears of com in her hand.

But I think it highly probable, that the signs of the zodiac were compared with corn bound in [48] sheaves.14 This notion is not unsupported by evidence.

The Chinese call the zodiac the yellow road; as resembling a path over which the ripened ears of com are scattered.

The Syrians and Chaldeans appear to have had a similar idea. Mor Isaac says


and the zone of the zodiacal circle is called the path of straw.

That the signs of the zodiac were assumed as the twelve ensigns of the tribes of Israel, I have proved in another dissertation. Joseph seems to allude to this, when he says, "the Sun and Moon, and the eleven stars (constellations) made obeisance to me." But he had already said to his brethren, "your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf."

I confess then, that I cannot help considering Chedorlaomer, or that which girds the sheaves, rather as a symbol expressive of the zodiac, than as the name of a real monarch.

The Sun in his progress through the signs of the zodiac was called Chon by the Egyptians, whom as I have shown elsewhere, they considered as the God of Time.


King of Elam—King of Time.

Tidal King of nations. The word Tidal, (if this be the true reading) is Chaldaic. It is compounded of תד (Chaldaic for שד), a breast, and על, exalted. There can be no doubt, that the Heathens worshipped idols under the form of paps or breasts, which the Hebrews called Shedi, or Shedim, and the Chaldeans Tedi. Isis, or Diana, or the Dea Multmammia, will present a ready emblem of this species of idolatry to the mind of the mythologist. Isis, then, whose type was a cow, may have been meant by this exalted breast. But it seems to me, that for Tidal, we should read Tiral, or Taral; and in this I am supported by the Septuagint.15 There is, however, no such word in Hebrew, as תרעל, unless we bring it from על, which is out of the question. It follows then that we must look to the Chaldaic; and there we shall find [Hebrew], or [Hebrew] would signify Taurus excelstis.

Melech Goim, "King of Nations." The Syrian interpreter writes Melech Geleth, "King of the revolving sphere," whence one would think he held Tor-al to be an astronomical personage. In fact, before the time of Abraham, Taurus was the leading sign—the conductor of the celestial hosts. Rather more than 4000 years ago, that title was [50] transferred to Aries. But I would rather read Goim, as in the text, and with the LXX. Goa, or Gao, is the ancient Persian name of the sign of Taurus.

That these made war with Bera.

Bera, according to the Targum of Jonathan, is compounded of the preposition ב and רע, and consequently signifies in evil. This seems at least, to have been the manner in which Jonathan understood the word. But I rather suspect this Bera is an erroneous reading for Pera; where we find רע preceded by the Egyptian article פ. Pera then would signify the evil one, if be Hebrew in the name before us; but I rather think it to be that Egyptian word which signified King, and which I have explained in my "Essay on a Punic Inscription." If, however, we follow the orthography before us; I must take the meaning from the Arabic, in which Bera signifies excellence, and which was probably an ancient solar title.

Melech Sodom, "King of Sodom." This last word is not Hebrew, and in truth few of these proper names are. They are all either Egyptian, or Chaldean, or ancient Persian. In Hebrew Sodom might signify a secret, or a shackle, as derived from סד. The meaning, however, is order, or regularity, or the beauty which proceeds from both.16

Birsha. Jonathan translates this word; and some again translate him as rendering the name "in [51] opprobrium," and others, ''against opprobrium" This can have nothing to do with the sense. No man ever had such a name. The personage here is an astronomical one. Birsha, is Chaldaic. It is a name compounded of filius, and שער, or שע, hora, tempus, &c.

King of Gomorrah. This last word was principally used to signify either a certain measure, or a sheaf of corn. We have already seen that this last was an astronomical type.

Shinab King of Admah. Without attending to the points, which every Hebrew scholar must know to have been invented at least six hundred years after the Christian era, we may conclude, that Shinab is compounded of Shan, "the annual Sun," and ap (a well-known solar title), which signifies father. This may then indicate the year, or period, of Saturn. It is certain, that the Sun was worshipped under the names of Rephan, Moloch, Chon, and Saturn; and that Saturn was fabled to have been dethroned by his son Jupiter. When, therefore, we find Shan, the title under which the year, or perhaps the Sun in his annual course, was deified and worshipped, coupled with Kab, pater, we may naturally associate it with the name of Saturn. Shan-ah is called "King of Admah,'' that is, "King of the Earth;" and Saturn was fabled to have fled to the earth, after having been driven by Jupiter from the throne of the heavens.


This signifies the name of the mighty one; but [52] both the Samaritan copies have Shemabad, i.e. the name of destruction, or perhaps, of the destroyer. May not this destroyer be the great serpent, feigned by some to have been slain by Apollo, but which is said by Pausanias to have been killed by [Greek] that is, by Ammon, or the Sun in Aries?

I think it is mentioned by Aratus, that the Dragon was not to be found among the figures, by which the Egyptians represented the constellations. I cannot, at this moment, refer to Kircher, in order to discover upon what authorities he placed the Dragon in the planispheres, which he has exhibited; but that dragons or serpents, were represented in the Egyptian planispheres, I cannot doubt. Hor-Apollo mentions, indeed, that the hieroglyphic which expressed the heavens was a serpent, and that the stars were denoted by the scales; and Clemens Alexandrinus tells us, that the oblique course of the stars was indicated by the tortuous folds of a serpent. It appears, that from the most remote antiquity the two points, at which the ecliptic and the Moon s orbit intersect each other, were called the head and tail of the Dragon. As these are the points at which eclipses happen, astronomers fabled the existence of a monster that devoured the sun and moon.

It seems not impossible to me, that the word may have been originally written [Hebrew]—[Hebrew], or [Hebrew]—[Hebrew], the serpent of destruction. But this is merely conjectural. My reader may, however, consider what has been stated, with some plausibility, by M. Dupuis on the Abaddon of the Apocalypse.


That the Dragon is alluded to in the text appears more clearly from the following words, since Shemabad, (or Shemeber as we have it in the Hebrew text is called King of Zeboiim, Now what sense shall we affix to Zeboiim). If we follow the present reading, Shemabad must be either King of decorations, or King of she-goats, or King of hyaenas; for which several meanings consult Buxtorf, in voce צבי, and Bochart Hieroz. Part first. Now I confess that I suspect צביים to have been written by some scribe for צבאים; and if this be so, I shall have no scruple in translating King of the starry hosts. We have already seen from Hor-Apollo, that the stars of heaven were hieroglyphically expressed by the scales of a serpent

And the King of Bela.

Bela signifies to swallow up. Is there not here another allusion to the celestial Dragon, feigned by astronomers, and believed by idolators, to have swallowed up the Sun? Bel, the God of the Babylonians, was no other than the great Dragon, though Bel has been sometimes confounded with Baal. The name of Bel seems to me to have been taken from Bela; for the great Dragon was evidently called Bel, as the devourer, or as the swallower. This is apparently alluded to by Jeremiah, where he says—



"And I have punished Bel in Babel, and have made him eject his beta (what he hath swallowed) from his mouth."

Which is Zoar; that is the little.

The greatest space between the Moon's orbit and the ecliptic is called the belly of the Dragon. As the Moon approaches to her nodes, this space becomes smaller, and of course is least just before the point, where she crosses the Ecliptic.

It appears, that the whole passage, as far as I have hitherto gone, is symbolical; and I find it not a little remarkable, that the greater part of it can be expressed in hieroglyphics, with considerable accuracy. Is it not probable then, that the text is an interpretation of a hieroglyphical writing, which the sacred historian thought it necessary to introduce into his work?

That the symbols here expressed were originally denoted by hieroglyphics, I think evident from the facility, with which they may again be rendered into their primary forms.

Ammon, or the Sun in Aries, here denominated Amraphel, agnus mirabilis, was represented by a man with the head of a ram. See my ''Essay on a Punic Inscription," p. 50.

We are told by Ammianus Marcellinus, that a King was represented in hieroglyphics by a bee.

If I be right in reading Shan-iar, the hieroglyphic of this ought to be the image of the Sun, and a grove of trees; or if the etymology by Shannar, we [55] ought to have the more common symbol of Harpocrates.

The words Arioch, Melech, are to be expressed by a lion and a bee.

If El-Sar be the same with El-Sir there can be little doubt that reference is made to the God Sir, whom the Greeks called Osiris. The hieroglyphic of Osiris was a sceptre and an eye.

Chedorlaomer was probably denoted by a sheaf, or sheaves of com. The bee again recurs. Time, or eternity, which is the signification of Elam, was typified by a serpent biting his tail.

Tor-aal, or the exalted Bull, is itself a hieroglyphic. The word Melech is again to be denoted by a bee. If for Goim we read Geloth, a hieroglyphic must be found for the spheres. Two present themselves: First an onion, of which the coats were the symbols of the spheres: (This was the reason why onions were so much venerated in Egypt:) Secondly two serpents, represented in the following form:

These made war.

Upon the authority of Hor-Apollo, we may state that a battle was designed by two hands, one of which held a bow, and the other a shield.

But I have said enough on this part of the subject, and shall leave others to exercise their ingenuity upon it. Let us return to our analysis.


All these were joined in the Vale of Siddim, which is the salt-sea.

Siddim; These were Deities worshipped by the idolaters. They were probably so named from שד, a breast. See Parkhurst, in voce. I shall attempt at the end of this Dissertation to give a rude sketch of one of these many-breasted idols, of which there are various representations in the 7th volume of the Thesaurus of Gronovius.

Which is the salt-sea. It appears from Josephus, whose words I have quoted in another Dissertation, that the sea was a symbol of the hemisphere, as Isis, or the Dea Multimammia, seems to have been a lunar emblem.

Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.

The astronomical allusion, here intended to be made, may be well illustrated by the words of M. Goguet. "Nous voyons que dans les premiers ages, Tannde, chcz presque tons les peuples, n'toit compose que d'un mois; et encore ce mois toit-il lunaire." Now it is evident, that at the end of the 12th lunar month, neither the solar nor the sidereal year would be complete. The Sun would neither rise, nor set, at the same time, or in the same place, as when the lunar year commenced; and the constellations would not be found, where they had been at the beginning of the period. In following this mode of calculating, the whole order of the seasons [57] would be found to be reversed in the space of 17 years. We cannot suppose then, that the Chaldeans and Egyptians continued to count long by the lunar year, which is composed of 354 days. A reform appears to have been made at a very early period; and M. Goguet has proved that the year which Moses employed was composed of 360 days. This has led some to suppose, that Moses was very ignorant of astronomy. The chapter before us, I think, will justify him from that reproach.

To complete the year employed by the Hebrews, no less than five days and a quarter were wanting. Now the Priests of Egypt knew this. Herodotus says, that they added the five days; and if he makes no mention of the remaining hours, it is, probably, because the Priests did not confide to him the secret. The science of the learned Egyptians was their religion. Hence all the mysteries with which it was enveloped. We know, however, that Plato, Eudoxus, Diodorus Siculus, and Plutarch, were aware that the Egyptians computed the year rightly. The truth then was likely to be known to Moses, who was versant in all the learning of Egypt.

I have already stated that Chedorlaomer seems to have been the symbol of the Zodiac, or rather, perhaps, of the course of the Sun through the signs. It is by observing that course, that the true length of the year is to be determined; and the omission of the five days, and the consequent disorders in the computation of the year, seem to be symbolised by the rebellion of the five Kings.


Plutarch, when he informs us, that the five days were intercalated by the Egyptians, mentions that on each of these days a Deity was born. There are various fables told by the Greeks concerning this celebrated intercalation. For my own part, I cannot help thinking, that the fourteenth chapter of Genesis, and the tenth of the Book of Joshua, are only different editions of the same astronomical histories, of which the Greeks have again given new accounts, and which they told after their own manner.

And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim, And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness.

Here all the confusion produced by the use of the civil year seems to be pointed out. The five days having been omitted in the old year, and being reckoned in the first month of the new year, at the end of the 12th lunar month; it is obvious that in the second month of this new year, the Sun would not be in the same part of the Ecliptic, as he had been in the second month of the preceding year. It will be observed that, since months were denominated years, the fourteenth year in the text really answers to the fourteenth month, or to the second month of the new year. But each month containing 30 days only, the error of the calculation would be perceived [59] from the Sun's place in the second month of the new year, fourteen months, (or, as they were then denominated, fourteen years,) after the commencement of the period stated to be annual. Chedorlaomer, or the Sun in his progress through the signs of the Zodiac, is consequently typified as making war with the constellations.

He smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Kamainu

The Rephaim (not Rephaims) were adorers of the Moon, and probably those who principally adhered to the use of the Lunar year. (See Parkhurst, in voce רפאים) If, however, we take the more common translation, we must understand the Rephaim to have been giants. Now the constellations were called giants, terrible ones, mighty ones, Ac, as is evident from the catalogues of their names in use among the Oriental nations. Ashteroth has been generally supposed to be the title of the Moon, corruptly written Astarte by the Greeks. In fact it appears, that the idols, representing the Moon under her several phases, were called Ashteroth. Samuel tells us of Saul, that the Philistines


placed his armour (in) the house of Ashteroth. Kimchi says, est namen, (nempe Ashteroth) imaginam ovium formam hahentiuniy quas pro Deabus colebant Isidonii et Philistcei. See also Mor Isaac quoted by Kircher, Oed. V. 1.

Karnaim signifies horns; and Ashteroth of horns must subsequently mean the lunar crescent. Hero- [60] dotus observes, that Io was represented with horns. Io, or Ioh, is still the Coptic word for the Moon.

And the Zuzims (read Zuzim) in Ham.

The Zuzim are generally understood to signify strong ones, giants; but I derive the word from זזנ, to shine, or to move. The Zuzim were then probably the shining ones, or the stars. I know not the meaning of Ham. According to the Samaritan copy we should read in Laish, or in Lisha, and this name I shall show to have indicated Scorpius, when I come to examine a subsequent verse.

And the Emims in Shaveh Kariathaim.

The Emim were giants, or terrible ones. Shaveh, is the Chaldaic word for the Equator. Shaveh Kariathaim, the Equator of the cities, can hardly be mistaken for any thing else than for an astronomical expression.17 The points seem to be indicated, where the Equator and the Ecliptic intersect each other, and where the Equator divides the celestial mansions, or cities, into equal parts.

And the Horites in their Mount Seir.

I translate, and the wrathful ones in their mountain of the goat. Whether, or not, any allusion be here made to Capricorn, I am unable to judge. The Horites may have been the stars in Taurus, where Hor, according to Kircher, had his station. Taurus [61] rises early in the evening, when the Sun is in Capricorn.

Unto El Paran, which is by the wilderness.

El, (rather eil, or ail) signifies a ram, and there seems to be some allusion to the sign of Aries. The word Paran is less easy to be explained. Perhaps it is פאר, with the addition of an intensitive nun. It will then signify an ornament for the head. Eusebius, see my "Essay on a Punic Inscription," mentions that Ammon, or the Sun in Aries, was represented with a disk over his head El Paran, or the Bam with the ornament on his head, is said to be by the wilderness. Now by the wilderness I understand the lower hemisphere, the region of darkness, and the kingdom of Ahriman. Four thousand five hundred years ago, the vernal equinox took place when the Sun was in Taurus, and consequently Aries and Libra, were the uppermost signs of the lower hemisphere. That the wilderness was the hieroglyphic, by which the lower hemisphere was expressed, I am led from many things to suspect. Jupiter Ammon, or El Paran, or the Sun in Aries, was fabled by the Egyptians to have lived in the desert, until he was brought out of it by Isis. Does not this allude to the period, when the equinox first happened when the Sun was in Aries? Plutarch says, [Greek].


The anomalies created by the use of the year of 360 days seem to be manifested; and the incongruity of the vulgar year with the real, is figuratively expressed in the Hebrew; for after the first revolution of the former, the Sun cannot be in his true place according to the Calendar;—His progress through the signs having been miscalculated, the order of the seasons must have been in a short period reversed. The rising and setting of the constellation could not be according to computation. It would appear, that the text has marked these anomalies; and that they are hitherto indicated from the commencement of the second sacred year, (which took place when the Sun was in Cancer), to the time of the vernal equinox. The Sun smites the giants in Ashteroth Karnaim; that is, his place among the constellations, even from the first crescent, or first quarter of the lunar month, is at variance with the computation, and does not agree with the Calendar. The same thing is found, as he advances to Liska, or to Scorpius, and as he comes to Shaveh Kariathaim, or to the Equinox; as he proceeds to Seir, ''the goat," or as it would seem to Capricorn, and thence to Aries, denoted El Paran, the ram with a decoration on his head.

But Chedorlaomer, and the Kings that were with him, returned and came to En Mishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites that dwelt in Haaezontamar.

The Sun, having passed the vernal equinox, re- [63] turns to the upper hemisphere; but what relation does en mishpat, which is generally translated the fountain of judgment, bear to the subject, as I have hitherto understood the meaning of the text? The proper meaning of en rather ain, or oin,) is an eye, and it is only metaphorically that it is used to signify a fountain. But ain may be also figuratively employed for observation, or speculation. The Rabbins often understand it as signifying speculative knowledge. It seems clear to me, that the word corresponded with a hieroglyphic; and we are informed by Plutarch and Hor-Apollo, that an eye was the hieroglyphic, by which knowledge was expressed. Without much difficulty, then, we may translate ain, observation, or science. Mishpat, is frequently used in Chaldaic as signifying astrology. Baali mishpat is synonymous with astrologers. The meaning then seems to be, they returned and came according to the science of astrology, which is (Kadesh) a holy thing:

And smote all the country of the Amalekites.

The Sun, in his course through the Zodiac, ought now to be described as returning to the point whence he set out. At the end of the second revolution of the sacred year, the Sun would indeed return to Cancer, whence he had proceeded at the commencement of the first year, but he would be ten degrees and a half from the place where he had then been. The incongruity of the civil with the solar year [64] would consequently be manifest to astronomers. But how is the return of the Sun to Cancer, the sign in which he had been at the commencement of the first civil year, indicated in the text? Chedorlaomer and his allies smote all the country of the Amalekites;—that is,—all the country of the people of the Beetles. See Buxtorf, in vocibus עם. Now it appears from the Zodiacs found at Dendera, that the Egyptians denoted the sign of Cancer by two beetles.—That the year began when the Sun was in that sign, may be proved from the passages to which I have referred on the subject in my "Essay on a Punic Inscription."

And also the Amorites that dwelt in Haxezontamar.

For the words אמר and הצצ I refer my reader to Parkhurst, only observing that to the last word an intensitive nun is added in the text

The literal translation then is—and also the upper branches, (or perhaps the lambs) that abode in the division of the palm-tree.

Now without being able to explain this passage entirely to my own satisfaction, I request of my reader to consider how far it may relate to astronomy. Perhaps his better knowledge of the astronomy and mythology of the ancient Egyptians, as well as of their hieroglyphics, will enable him to elucidate [65] what remains obscure to me. In the mean time I shall offer a very few remarks.

That groves, trees, and branches of trees, were employed as symbols of the starry hosts, of constellations, and of asterisms, appears, I think, from various monuments. In the planisphere exhibited by Kircher, a tree is represented in the sign of Virgo. In the Zodiacs of Dendera, Virgo is drawn with a palm-branch in her hand. The constellation of Cassiopeia is called al seder, by Ulug Beig, and the seder is a species of tree well known in the East. In the Mithraic astronomical symbols we always find trees designated. The idolators appear to have worshipped groves as types of the starry Hosts. And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree.18 Manasseh reared up altars for Basil, and made a grove, and worshipped all the Host of heaven;—and he set up a graven image of the grove which he had made.19 Josiah commanded all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the Host of heaven, to he brought out of the temple.20

The Gentile nations seem to have generally entertained the same superstitions concerning trees.

Um quae vdleni ase in tuteld sud
Dim legerunt arhores; Quercits Jam,
Et myrtua Veneri placuit, Phcebo laurea,
Pfnu8 Cyhdm, poptdits celsa Herculi.  Phaed.


Callimachus says, in addressing Ceres,

Tihique illie pulchrutn lucum pomerunl Pdasgi^ Arhonbus undique deneumg,

Lucretius has the following lines:

Sed nemoray aigue caws monteia sylvasque colebanty
Etfrutiees inter condebant sgualida membra
Verhera verUorum vitare imbreisque coacit.

See the stories in the Edda concerning the Ash Ygdrdsil.

Pliny says, Arhores fuere numinum tempi. L. 13. See also Diodorus Siculus, and Lucian, concerning the consecrated groves of the Egyptians, The Cabalists represented the 12 signs of the Zodiac on the tree of life; and the Arabians typified the starry heavens by a fruit-tree. See Kircher's Oedipus, Vol. 2 and 3. Groves and trees, then, being considered as symbols of the starry heavens, the upper branches probably denoted the constellations at their highest elevation.

It will be remembered, that in the Apocalypse the tree of life is represented as growing in the street, and as bearing twelve fruits, one of which it yielded every month. Some have thought that an allusion is here made to the Solar walk, where are found the 12 signs of the Zodiac.

The palm-tree appears to have been a solar symbol. I shall have occasion to say more concerning it in another place.

It may, however, be proper to state the words of a French writer. Le palmier fut consacrd aux mouve- [67] mens celestes, et surtout à la revolution annuelle du Soleil; on lui attribuoit autant de proprietes, que Fannie a de'jours. I think, therefore, that we can have no great difficulty in understanding what was meant by the upper branches, which abode in the division of the palm-tree. Amorites is certainly a difficult word to interpret. It signifies either teachers, or lambs, or upper branches. I am inclined to give it the last signification here. But see Castelli in voce.

And there went out the King of Sodom, and the King of Gomorrah, and the King of Adrruxh, and the King of Zeboiim, and the King of Bela, {the same is Zoar), and they joined battle with them in the Vale of Siddim—with Chedorlamner King of Elam, and with Tidal King of Nations, and Amraphel King of Shinar, and Arioch King of Sllasar, four Kings with five.

The Sun coming round to the point whence he set out, is thus figuratively represented as encountering the 5 days.

And the Vale of Siddim UKtsfull of slime-pits

—Literally—and the valley of the Siddim, (the many-breasted idols of the Moon, worshipped as the Magna Mater) wells, wells, of bitumen. But, as my reader will find by turning to Stockius, the original meaning of Beer, which we always translate a well, is clearness, or lustre. Again the word המר, which we render bitumen, and which signifies muddiness, [68] is not very unlike to העמר. Indeed Bochart tells us, that an ass is so called from its colour. Now this may have been the reason why the Orientalists placed asses in the sign of Cancer, when the Nile is approaching to its height. Most certainly the Persians called the Asterism in Cancer which we call the asses, by the name before us.21  Now I think it very possible, that allusion is made to these stars. The commencement of the vulgar Egyptian year took place, when the Sun was in Cancer; and this may have been the time fixed for the intercalation of the 5 days. Beeroth, Beeroth, Chenior, may then typify the asterism of the Asses. But the passage is too obscure for me to speak with any pretension to certainty in endeavouring to explain it.

And the Kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there. It appears that there is some confusion in this passage. If these Kings fled, they did not fall there.

And they that remained fled to the mountain.

They that remained could scarcely have been they that fled; but I think the fault lies with translators.

The destruction and defeat of the five Kings seem to indicate the period, when the five days ought to have been intercalated.

And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way.

But the discovery of the real period of the solar [69] year, did not prevent the use of the civil, and of the vague year among the Egyptians, The disorder, though perceived, was not remedied, except among the learned.

And they took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.

Lot is so clearly to be traced to absconsio, that I cannot doubt the meaning. Abram evidently signifies Pater excelsus. Now it is manifest, that the former is here a type of the Moon, and the latter of the Sun.

The Greeks appear to have taken Lethe, and Leto, (Latona) from this word lat, which was probably the root of the Latin lateo, &c The Greeks and Latins made Leto, or Latona, a female; but, as I have observed elsewhere, the Egyptians worshipped the Moon sometimes as a male and sometimes as a female Deity. Thus Ioh, one of the types of the Moon, was a male. It is still the Coptic name for the moon, and is in the masculine gender. Ammonius says, [Greek]—"For if the Egyptians have the custom of naming the Moon in the masculine, I think it is because they consider her with respect to the earth, which is lighted not only by the Sun but by her." The Greeks made Io a female. But there are several things in the story of Lot, "the hidden one," which may recall the fables related of other lunar [70] emblems. The Moon was feigned under different symbols to have been forcibly carried away to the realms of darkness, and to have hid herself from the sight of Mortals. Proserpine borne away to Tartarus; Latona, who hid herself in the island of Delos; Io, who concealed herself in the cave of mount Sipylus; and Lot "the hidden one," whether carried away by Chedorlaomer, or dwelling in the cave near to Zoar, are all so many astronomical allegories illustrative of the same thing.

With respect to the exalted father, I have only to observe that this is clearly a Solar title. According to M. D'Herbelot, the appellation of Father was peculiarly and emphatically given to the Sun by the Orientalists.

And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew.

The Hebrew. The word עבר signifies "one that passes over from, or to, a place." Now when we come to consider the feast of the Passover, or of the Transition, we shall understand, .who were truly Hebrews. But I reserve this for my remarks on the Book of Joshua.

For he dwelt in the plain of Mamre.

I translate באלני, among the oaks;—Consult the Septuagint. The oak, as is well known, was a tree sacred to the Sun. Mamre, is apparently derived from מרא, to lift up, to exalt, &c.; but I [71] conceive it to be the same in signification with the Chaldaic מר or מרא, Dominus, Doctor, &c.22

The Amorite.

I have already noticed the various meanings of this word, and must leave my reader to decide for himself; but I am rather inclined to think that the Amorite here signifies "an expounder, a teacher, a person employed to speak on, or to explain, a subject." It is possible, however, that the Amorites were those, who first showed the transit of the vernal equinox, and consequently of the commencement of the year, from the sign of the Bull to that of the Ram, or Lamb. The Amorites were, therefore, in the beginning, associates with Abram, who substituted the Bam as a sacrifice instead of his son Isaac. But these Amorites probably became afterwards idolators, and worshippers of Ammon, or of the Sun in the sign of Aries.

Eshcol. Rumelin seems to consider this word as the same with אשניל, a vine-branch. I would rather derive it from שנל, and consider the servile aleph as merely formative. I understand it to denote "an intelligent or scientific person."

Aner. This is a collocation of letters, which, I think, could scarcely have been made by the author. I therefore suspect it to be one of those names, which the scribes have mutilated. It is clear, [72] indeed, that the LXX must have read עננז. Now this word signifies an augur, or astrologer.23

And these were confederate with Ahram.

But according to the original we must read, and these were Baali-Berith of Ahram. Now Baal-Berith appears to have been one of the Gods of the Tsabaists;24 and the Baali-Berith were probably idols adored in later times by the apostate Israelites. Here, however, they seem to indicate the astronomers, who were employed in correcting the Calendar. Baali-Berith have generally been understood to signify Lords of the covenant; and this has been taken as an idiomatic expression, which signifies Covenanters, or Confederates. In the same manner The Lords of Arrows have been translated Archers. But I suspect, that this is not quite accurate. Baali-Berith appear to me to signify Lords of purification;25 or perhaps, rather, Lords of Clearness.26 They were those by whom the exalted father (the Sun) was purified, or rendered clear. But if confederates be the sense, the verse may be explained as follows.

And there came one that had escaped, and told the exalted father, him that passeth over; for he dwelt among the oaks of him that teacheth, the instructor, or expounder, brother of him that is scientific, and brother of the astrologer; and these [73] were confederates (Lords of the Covenant) with the exalted father.

In spite of the difficulty and perplexity, which these names present, I cannot help thinking that the passage contains an astronomical allegory.

In the next verse we learn, that the exalted father followed with 318 of his trained servants, born in his house, and pursued Chedorlaomer unto Dan. This last word is a manifest interpolation. It is evident that Moses must have written Laish, or Leshem,27 Laish then was called Laisha by the Chaldeans, with the emphatic alepha. But from the way in which the word is written in the Book of Joshua, I think we ought to trace it to לש, (not to ליש) a root now lost in Hebrew, but existing in Syriac lesha, which signifies destruction. The Danites then changed the name from Lesha, ''destruction," to Dan, ''justice." Now let us observe, that Scorpius, as I have proved elsewhere, was the sign of the Zodiac allotted to the tribe of Dan;—that the Chaldeans call the sting of Scorpius, Lesha;—and that a name not very dissimilar to this may be still found on the celestial globe, denoting the sting of Scorpius.

The number 318 is very remarkable. Plutarch relates, that a connexion having been discovered between Saturn and Rhea, the Sun threatened that the latter should not be delivered of a child in any month or year. But Mercury, who was in love with [74] Rhea, having won from the Moon at dice the 20th part of each of her annual lunations, composed of them the 5 days, which were added to the year, and by which it was augmented from 360 to 365 days. On these 5 days Rhea brought forth Osiris, Areuris, Typhon, Isis, and Nephte.

I have already endeavoured to show, that these 6 days were typified by the 5 Kings in the Chapter before us.

We shall find a curious illustration of Plutarch's story in the 318 servants of the exalted father (the Sun) born in his own house. By these servants I understand days.

Now the old year being composed of 360 days, the 20th part amounts to 18 days. Let us then take 12 lunations at 28 days each, and we shall get a period of 336 days. Deduct a 20th part of the old year of 360 days from the 12 lunations at 28 days each, and the remainder will be 318 days. The equation may be given as follows.

28 Í 12  — —— = 318.

And he divided himself against them, he and his servants by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hohah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.

Hohah signifies "concealment," and Damascus is "an angle."

Now let us suppose that astronomers educated in [75] the temple of the Sun, had to correct the errors introduced into the Calendar by the omission of the 5 days. They would have found at the end of the second year, that the Sun did not arrive at the Summer solstice, until ten days and a half after the computed time. In following the solar course from the solstitial to the equinoctial point, they would have discovered, that by the omission of the five days, the calculation of the Sun's place continued to deviate more and more from the truth. But in measuring the space from the solstice to the equinox, the astronomers would perceive, and might correct, the errors made by those, who had limited the duration of the year to 360 days. They seem really to have done so according to the text.

The circle is divided into four parts, each consisting of 90 degrees. It is easy to see whence arose this division. Thus in fact the year was divided into four parts, and was measured from each equinox and from each solstice. The four Kings, perhaps, among other significations, for all symbolical enigmas have many meanings, may represent the four quarters of the year. But as 90 days only were allotted to each of these quarters, the anomalies produced by the omission of the five days, typified by the five rebel Kings, would soon be obvious. Between the solstice and the equinox, the error would amount to about 31 hours and a half. The astronomers, then, seem to have followed the solar course from the summer solstice, (when the new year began, when the five days and a half should have been, and when they [76] were not, intercalated) until the arrival of the Sun in the sign of Leska, or of Scorpius, in which he arrived at the Autumnal equinox. By hobah, concealment, (for I derive it from הבה) I understand "the season when the Sun passes the equinoctial point." In fact the lower hemisphere was typified by mythologists as the hiding place of the celestial bodies. Hence Saturn, and hence Latona, clearly derived their appellations. Hence Latium was named, as the spot to which Saturn had retired; and hence the waters of forgetfulness were denominated from Lethe. This place of concealment, this Hobah, was on the left hand of Damashek, or of the angle. May not this be the angle formed by the ecliptic with the equator, where they intersect each other at the equinoctial point?

In the next verse we are told, that he (the exalted father) brought back his brother Lot—that is—"the hidden one."

The astronomers, who had to reform the Calendar, would find it necessary to correct the calculations made concerning the lunar month. A period of thirty days being allotted for each month, the calculations would be yet falser for the lunar than for the solar year.

It is impossible not to be struck with the passage before us, where we find the exalted father bringing back Lot, the hidden one, from Hobah, concealment. The three-headed Cerberus, like the triform Hecate, was a lunar symbol; and Cerberus brought back to the day by Hercules, appears to be only another type [77] of the astronomical fable, which is here indicated in the story of Lot.

In the following verse we are told, that the King of Sodom (that is "of order, or regularity") went out to meet the exalted father at the valley of Shaveh, which is the King's dale.

But Shaveh in Chaldaic signifies the equator, and the true annual period being fixed, the exalted father is properly said to have met the King of order.

The purport of the Chapter, as far as we have hitherto gone, seems to have been to explain the astronomical mysteries of the Egyptians, and to show, that the Deities adored by the vulgar were merely scientific symbols. It appears, that the text is itself a translation from some hieroglyphical monument; and I am very far from pretending that I understand all the various meanings and bearings of the symbols. It is highly probable, that the philosophical secrets concealed in these hieroglyphics were reverenced as sacred by those, who were inclined to become, or who already were, idolators among the Hebrews. They must have seen there almost all the symbols most venerated by the Egyptians. They might then have naturally mistaken them for the types of those very Gods, whom their own superstitions were constantly prompting them to adore. The sacred lawgiver appears to have unfolded the latent meaning of the hieroglyphics. He seems to have chosen such oral symbols in his own language, as suited the painted or sculptured [78] symbols of the monument, which he thought proper to explain; and from this explanation it might be evident to the Hebrews, that the history of Egyptian theology was to be found in the Egyptian calendar. Thus it would be proved to their own conviction, that the Gods of their idolatry were mere fictions of the brain—conventional marks and signs, intended to facilitate the acquisition of science to those, who were to be initiated in it, and contrived to impede the progress of knowledge among those, who were thought unworthy of being intrusted with the mysterious secrets of the wise.

To all those who were capable of comprehending it, this lesson from their lawgiver must have been deeply impressive. They must have seen, that they had been adoring allegories, and worshipping symbols; and that the religion of the people was only valued, inasmuch as it was science among the learned. They must have blushed for their own infidelity to the God of their fathers, when they came to understand who were the Gods of Egypt, and when they found, that the births, the lives, and the deaths of those Gods,—their victories and their defeats—all the changes which they underwent, and all the forms which they wore—were mere types and emblems, by which the history of astronomy was recorded.

The sacred lawgiver having explained what appears to have been the hieroglyphical narrative of the reform in the Calendar, now introduces a type which relates not to human science. Melchizedek, [79] or the Kings of justice, who are the King of Salem, that is, the King of Peace, bring forth bread and wine, and he is the Priest of God most High. But who are these Kings, that are a King? Who is this Priest of God most High—this King of Peace, that are the Kings of justice? In what calendar shall we find the answer to these questions? What mythology contains a likeness to this mysterious person, who being more than one is one? Is there no allusion here to the triune God, and to the ministry of Christ? At the period fixed, the Prophet seemed to say, when dynasty shall have succeeded dynasty among the contending and revolutionary Gods of idolatry; and after the Gentile nations have adored age after age, and cycle after cycle, the Sun, the Moon, and the hosts of heaven; the true religion shall be revealed, and the world shall behold the glorious fabric reared on the ruins of a thousand superstitions. Then shall mankind turn from their material idols and images to contemplate and to acknowledge the spiritual existence of a sole and infinite Deity. Then it will not be symbols, and devices, and allegories, nor yet the shining and unconscious orbs above, nor yet the seasons as they revolve, that will be addressed under divine appellations. The existence and the order of all things, and the laws which govern nature from the world to the atom, will be referred to a living source, and to a primeval and intelligent cause. The period of the year shall be told even to a second; the march of planets shall be calculated; and the orb of the Sun [80] shall be measured. The Moon shall be followed from node to node, and in spite of her wanderings, her course shall be known. She shall not hide her face that it shall not be predicted, nor rob the Sun of his glory, that the hour of partial darkness shall not be expected. Time shall move as Science directs his pace. Nor Sun nor Planets shall conceal their distance from our earth; Comets shall not wander so far into space, that their return shall not be calculated; nor light fly swift enough that its speed shall not be measured. But the Priest of God most High shall have offered the expiatory sacrifice: The Kings of Justice, who are the King of Peace, shall have revelled the true religion: the Deity shall be adored as the God of Nature, and the works of the Creator shall no more be mistaken for Him, who is the cause of their existence.

Such to my humble apprehension appears to have been the design of Moses in placing before his readers this mysterious account of Melchizedek.

I shall now conclude my remarks on this Chapter by expressing my hopes, that my endeavours to elucidate its meaning have not been fruitless. I cannot expect that my learned readers will agree with me on every topic. Indeed I have seldom seem two Hebraists, who read, and who translated, two chapters alike throughout the whole Scriptures; but it will be a subject of great satisfaction to me, if my observations may prepare the way for others, who shall be better qualified to carry on similar researches.



1. Having left it doubtful in the preceding dissertation, whether Amraphel should be translated the wonderful Lamb, or the separated Lamb, I think it necessary to add, that the latter appears to me to be the proper translation. The word is composed of the Chaldaic אמר and פלה, the ה in פלה being omissible, as is remarked by Parkhurst.

2. It has been observed to me, that צביימ, Zeboiim, may signify Tsabaists. I am aware, that Maimonides and other Rabbins have thus written the word. But I am still inclined to think, that צביימ is a corruption for צבאימ, which I take to have been die ancient and regular form of the plural of צבא, of which the usual plural form is צביימ I observe, that we commonly write Sabaoth and Sabeans (sometimes Zabeans) but the true orthography is Tsabaoth, &c.

3. I have not been able to find the Persian word Gao, or Go, to which I refer Goim. I know not^ therefore, whether it may not have been written with an ain. In all events the word employed by the Syrian interpreter shows, that allusion was made to Taurus.


4. It may be proper to acknowledge, that the Rabbins do not admit that Melchizedek implies a name including a plural form. It must also be confessed that Melech, or Moloch, was a very common solar title.

5. From a passage in Sanchoniatho, it may be thought, that the Sun was worshipped by the Tsabaists under the name of עליח. My learned readers will perceive, from these things that it is possible to some to a different conclusion, from that which I have drawn at the end of the preceding dissertation.




It would be difficult to imagine a more singular history, than that which relates to the construction of the Tabernacle and of the Temple, contained in the Old Testament. The Deity is represented as giving the pattern of both; as ordering the whole furniture; and as descending to the most minute details concerning the arrangement. Nothing is left unnoticed by the divine architect, who condescends to speak with amazing precision and familiarity both of the ornaments and of the utensils,—of lintels, curtains, fringes, rings, tongs, tables, dishes, bowls, spoons, and candlesticks. This, however, is not all. The Tabernacle and the Temple were inhabited by the Deity. The God of Nature and of the Universe—The Creator and Preserver of all things—the ineffable and primordial Being, who called into existence all those Suns and Planets which roll through the boundless regions of space—the sole God fixed his residence on a box made of Shittim wood, and overlaid and lined with gold. Upon this box too, the Deity was carried about by a barbarous horde of robbers, until King Solomon built a temple at [86] Jerusalem, where the box was deposited, and where Jehovah dwelt between the Cherubim. And what were these Cherubim? They were whimsical and monstrous images, each with four wings, and four faces; the face of a man, the face of a lion, the face of an ox, and the face of an eagle.

The whole of this history, if literally taken, is surely very strange and astonishing. There can be no doubt, however, that it obtains implicit credit among the generality of Christians, who, without inquiring into the spirit and character of the ancient Oriental writings, are firmly persuaded, that facts only are recorded in the books of the Old Testament. He, indeed, who ventures to think otherwise, and who holds those books to be chiefly typical and allegorical, must expect to meet with that sort of reprehension, which zealous men think it incumbent to bestow on all, who differ from themselves.

I have often been struck with the different feelings, which manifest themselves in different persona, when questions of this nature are discussed. I find myself to be one of those, who find it impossible to reconcile the histories related in the Old Testament, if literally taken, to my notions either of the goodness, or the greatness, of God. This is surely a subject of much importance; and yet it is managed in a very singular manner. No sooner is it started, than men of education in general endeavour to get rid of it. They seem to fear too rude a shock to their faith; and for the greater part it must be pretty evident, that the question is one, on which few are [87] prepared to speak. But such timidity, or such indifference, whichever it be, is little worthy of men of understanding. It is true, on the other hand, that Superstition has but too many champions and suppliers, against whose decisions it is not always prudent to appeal. These men, sometimes vaunting, and sometimes disclaiming, their enthusiasm, are indeed at any time sufficient both from their numbers, and by their means, to raise such a clamour, as must drown the still voice of philosophy in the uproar. Some by their talents and learning engage the attention of the wise; others by their zeal and industry confirm the prejudices of the weak and ignorant; some affect to reason and persuade; while others seek to terrify and dismay. In their hands is the Press,—that guardian of civil liberty in the state—that tyrant over free opinion in the Church, With them is the cry of the multitude—with them the silent sanction of the laws. The weapons with which they fight are either borrowed from the armoury of heaven, or forged in the fires of hell. When they condescend to reason, their logic, is governed by rules of its own. Bold assumptions, though constantly disputed by their adversaries, are yet constantly repeated by them; and the entire mis-statement of an opponent's argument is not with them an illegitimate mode of carrying on a controversy. But their strength, and none can know it better than themselves, lies not in reasoning; and hence the scurrilous invective, or the bitter taunt,—[88] the opprobrious epithet, or the scornful sneer,—so often supplies the place of the forgotten argument,

From these champions of superstition, who falsely call themselves the friends of religion, I ask no indulgence; but from the real friends of religion, from fair and dispassionate men of every sect and persuasion, I shall claim a candid investigation into the merits and demerits of my work, before they condemn it. I wish to call the attention of men of sense and learning to the interpretation of a Book, upon which so many think that so much depends but about which only a few choose to allow themselves to reflect or to reason.

It may be, I admit, historically true, that Moses constructed a Tabernacle, and that Solomon built a Temple; but I cannot persuade myself, that the Deity inhabited either the one or the other, or that God at any time ceased to be omnipresent to the world which he made. I conceive the Tabernacle and the Temple to have been types of the universe, which is the true abode of the Godhead. Typically speaking, then, the Tabernacle and Temple were the residence of the Divine Majesty; and, in truth, it seems to me inconceivable, that men in an age like this should seriously believe, that the sacred writers meant literally, that the God of the Universe was cooped up in a Temple at Jerusalem, or any where else.

It is to be observed that God ordained the pattern of the temple; by which I understand that the sacred writers intended to say, in their usual allegorical [89] manner, that the Universe was formed after the exemplar in the divine mind.

We shall find upon examination, that every thing belonging to the temple served as a symbol; and I am convinced that when these symbols are considered, there will remain no doubt of the temple itself being a type of the universal system. In fact it seems to me, that by this manner of viewing the subject, we obtain an infinitely more exalted notion of the ideas of the Jewish writers concerning theology, than we could possibly entertain, while we followed the literal interpretation. Who, indeed, that has any just notions of the Supreme Being, can believe that the Deity did in fact either sit down to breakfast with Abraham, or talk to Moses about pans, and shovels, and fleshhooks, and firepans? Who can believe, that the eternal and unchangeable God did that in anger one day, for which he was sorry the next? If these things be taken literally, there can be nothing more inconsistent with true theology; and most surely we should be the first to laugh, if an Indian were to tell us that his God was so very apt to change his mind.

I am equally persuaded, that the accounts, which we have of the Tabernacle and of the Temple, are mere allegories. "Will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold the heaven, and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee: how much less this house that I have builded?" This language of the Royal Sage is at once reasonable and sublime, and sufficiently shows that Solomon did not believe, that the omni- [90] present Deity dwelt in a cloud over the ark. This cloud, which was probably produced by the smoke from the censers, filled the house, and was the emblem of that spiritual intelligence, which pervades the universe.

I shall now proceed to examine the various symbols, which were contained in the Tabernacle and in the Temple. I shall first consider the images called the Cherubim.

1. These singular images have been fully described by Ezekiel. I have observed elsewhere, that the four faces answered to four signs of the Zodiac—that of the Man, to Aquarius; that of the Lion, to Leo: that of the Ox, to Taurus; and that of the Eagle, (which emblem was assumed by Dan in place of Scorpius) to the accursed sign represented sometimes by a Basilisk, and sometimes by a Scorpion. These four signs are in opposite parts of the heavens; and when astronomy was first cultivated in the East, the two Solstices, and the two Equinoxes took place, when the Sun was in those signs.

Aben Ezra says distinctly, that the four emblems of Reuben, Judah, Ephraim, and Dan, were the same with the four faces of the Cherubim. Now we have seen in a former Dissertation, that the emblems of those four leaders in the camp of the Hebrews, answered to the above-mentioned signs of the Zodiac.

Philo Judaeus, in speaking of these images, seems to consider them as astronomical symbols. "Now [91] let us consider,"' says that learned Jew, "what may be subindicated by the Cherubim, and flaming sword turning every way. What, if this ought to be thought the circumvolution of the whole heavens?—Again—"But of the flaming sword turning every way, it may be thus understood to signify the perpetual motion of these (the Cherubim) and of the whole heavens. But what if it be taken otherwise?—so that the two Cherubim signify both hemispheres ;" &c. pp. 111, and 112.

The Cherubim are thus noticed by Clemens Alexandrinus, the most erudite of the Christian Fathers. "Moreover there are those golden images. Each of them has six wings, whether they typify the two Bears, as some will have it, or, which is better, the two hemispheres. The name, indeed, of Cherubim would express great knowledge. But both have twelve wings, and thus through the circle of the Zodiac, and of self-carrying time, they typify the world perceived by the senses."28

It must now, I think, be obvious, that the sacred writers never meant to say literally that Jehovah dwelt between the golden images, called the Cherubim, in the Temple of Jerusalem. To me, at least, it appears that they spoke figuratively, and really meant to represent the Deity as every where residing through the infinity of space.

In one of the Psalms we find the following verse:


And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind.29

There may be readers who think this very fine. For my part I pretend, that such readers have mistaken the sense. It by no means appears a fine image to me, to say, that the God of the Universe is flying on the wings of a current of air, over any tract of country on the surface of our little globe. I am of opinion that the word ruah does not signify the wind, but the spirit. Then to fancy God riding on a cherub, as the word is commonly understood, offers no very sublime conception. What, if we consider the verse with reference to the explanations, which we have just received from Philo and Clemens? It appears to me, that the image will then be sublime indeed.

We are told by St. John, that round about the throne of God there were four beasts full of eyes before and behind—that these beasts were like a lion, a calf, a man, and an eagle—and that these four beasts had each six wings. Now it is plain enough, that these are no other than the Cherubim described by Ezekiel. But who can imagine, that such animals are really placed around the throne of the Almighty? We might as well suppose that the Lamb of God was any thing else than a symbol. The faces of the Cherubim are evidently types of the four signs of the Zodiac mentioned above. These are properly said to be round the throne of God; for to the Suns and worlds of a thousand systems, [93] from equinox to equinox, and from solstice to solstice, the Deity, whose domicile is the Universe, and whose throne is the Heavens, is always present. To him all created nature is typified as chanting forth praise, and the celestial Hosts are figuratively represented as hailing the Creator, the Word, and the Spirit, in union, the threefold holy one. Lord God of Tsabaoth. It appears to me then, that the Cherubim typified the spiritual influences, which, proceeding from the Deity, produce the order and march of the celestial bodies. These influences were represented by the man Aquarius, in which the Sun descended to the lowest point—by the Lion, in which he ascended to his highest elevation—by the Eagle (assumed instead of Scorpius) when the orb of day began to sink from the upper hemisphere—and by Taurus, when the Sun rose from the lower hemisphere.

The Egyptians had images with the heads of different animals, which seem to have served as astronomical symbols. The simulacrum of Serapis, mentioned by Macrobius, was of this description.

2. Of all the Jewish symbols, the Ark is, perhaps, the most mysterious. I cannot help remarking, however, that, a similar symbol was not unknown to the Egyptians. Plutarch tells us that the body of Osiris was inclosed in a chest, or ark, in the month of Athyr, when the Sun was in Scorpius; and the people annually held a great festival at this season of the year, when the ceremony of inclosing Osiris in the cheat, or ark, was represented. Now [94] it probably will not escape the notice of my readers, that the Israelites were defeated by the Philistines, after they had taken the Ark out of Shiloh, where it had been deposited. But Shiloh, as has been shown in a former dissertation, was the name of an asterism in the sign of Scorpius. The Egyptians also held, that the body of Apis was placed in an ark; and Varro gives the following curious etymology of Serapis. Quia area, in qud podtus erat Apis, Graece seu Egyptiace dicitur copo, unde spairt, quasi area Apis, deinde, und literd mutatd, Scoax dictus est; ille autem has, quern pend attonitd vene- ratione jiEgyptus in ejus Iwnorem alebat, non Serapis, sed Apis voeahatur, quoniam eum sine arcd vimim venerahatur. Clemens Alexandrinus speaks nearly to the same purpose.30 There is a curious passage which Kircher cites from Rossi; and from it the notions of the idolators concerning the Ark may be inferred. Cum vero projicerent aurum in tgnem, in cuppam fusoriam, seu melitts in im)dulos, venerunt Magi, Arab et Rob, qui aseenderunt eumJUiis Israel ex Egypto, et fecerunt vitulum arte magicd, dieentes,—Uhi est Deus iste qui egressus est de medio operis lateritii, (I rather think means the payments of tribute) in quo exercitabuntur Jilii Israel in Egypto, etfuit in manu ejus nomen et lamina, in qud Moses scripserat fuse verba, ascende bos, aseende bos, ut ascendere [95] faceret in iis ARCAM Joseph e medio Nili; et his dictis projecerunt in medium cupellus fusorice, et egressus est vitulus. It will be recollected, that the ancient Jewish idolaters held Joseph to have been no other than Apis;31 and the Bull, beyond doubt, was the s3rmbol of that Patriarch. It is pretty clear then, that the ancient Egyptian and Jewish idolators considered the Ark as a symbol of their own erroneous superstitions. When the Sun, in the sign of Scorpius, descended to the lower hemisphere, they mourned his imaginary death, and feigned that their God had gone down to Hades. It was then, that Osiris, or his symbol, Apis, was said to be inclosed in an Ark. On the seventeenth of the month the ceremony of his being inclosed in this Ark took place; and, on the third day after, the Priests again opened the Ark, and pretended to find the lost Osiris. But the accounts of the Greeks are very confused on this subject. From some passages we might be led to imagine, that the death of Osiris was fixed at the Winter Solstice, and his resurrection at the Vernal Equinox. In all events we easily see, why the Ark was a symbol held in so much veneration by the idolatrous worshippers of the Sun. It is not so easy to determine at first sight, though we shall soon see the reason, why it was figuratively made the residence of Jehovah. The venerable St. Chrysostom tells us, that the Ark had its origin from the rude- [96] ness of the Gentiles. There can be no doubt, indeed, that an Ark, as I have already stated, was an object of reverence among the heathens. Plutarch says, (in describing the Ark which was supposed to contain Osiris,) that the Stolistes, together with the Priests, carried about the sacred chest, which contained a golden ark. In like manner Apuleius32 mentions a chest which was carried by a priest in the religious ceremonies of the Egyptians. Pausanias33 informs us that the simulacrum of Bacchus was found in an ark, which is said to be the work of Vulcan, and which was the gift of Jupiter to Dardanus. It appears from Eusebius34 that the Phoenicians had an ark, or chest, before which they celebrated the mysteries of the Cabiri. Suidas seems35 to indicate that chests, or arks, were sacred to Bacchus, and to the Goddesses, Ceres and Proserpine.

But the reason why an ark was adopted as a sacred emblem by Jehovah may be explained in this way. The temple was a type of the Universe, and everything in it was intended to show, that Jehovah was no local or national God, who was less than the Lord of all things. This supreme and spiritual ruler had been worshipped, as Cudworth has proved, from the most remote antiquity by the learned Egyptians. Now we shall find that there was a reason, why the Ark might be properly taken as a symbol, and why Jehovah should be figuratively said to dwell upon [97] the Ark, and between the Cherubim. Synesius, speaking of the Egyptian hierophants, observes that they have [Greek] which are arks, concealing, they say, the spheres, &c. Now a type, which represented the Deity as dwelling above the spheres, is one that can easily be reconciled both to reason and to religion. It will be said by some literal reader, that there was nothing contained in the Ark, but the ten commandments; but the text on which this assertion is founded, I believe to be an interpolation. If nothing had been in the Ark, but two stones, with a few sentences engraved upon them which were known to every one, where would have been the crime of looking into the Ark? There was clearly a mystery, which was to be kept from the people, and I think, I may now assert, that the Ark and the Cherubim, were both symbols, which tend to prove my general proposition, that the Tabernacle and the Temple were types of the universal system, of which Moses, who was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, seems to have had a very distinct notion.

3. I have probably already so much offended the literal translators, that if any have begun to read my observations, it is very unlikely that any have read thus far. Why should not the God that has created, and who governs, ten millions of worlds—why should not that infinite Being condense himself into a cloud, and sit upon a box made of Shittim wood, overlaid and lined with the precious metal, gold? Go, ask, ye wise men, though ye be not of the East—go, ask of all Nature.


The next symbol of which I shall take notice is the table. For the description of it, my reader will of course consult his Bible. Clemens Alexandrinus thus explains the symbol. But the table, as I think, signifies the image of the earth; it is sustained by four feet, answering to the Summer, Autumn, Spring, and Winter, by which the year proceeds, &c.36

4. The Shew bread. Of this bread there were twelve loaves, which were placed upon the table. Josephus tells us distinctly, that these twelve loaves were typical of the twelve months of the year.37

5. The golden candlestick with seven lamps. This symbol is thus explained by Clemens. But moreover the candlestick was placed on the south of the altar of incense, by which were manifested the motions of the seven luminaries making their revolutions in the south—for there are three branches inserted into the candlestick on each side, and upon them are lamps; because the Sun, even as the candlestick, being also placed in the midst of the other planets, imparts light both to those above him, and to those below him, according to a certain divine harmony.38

6. The bowls, knops, and flowers.

These were all astronomical emblems. Josephus says, that the candlestick was divided into 70 parts, answering to the number of the Decans. The number of Decans in this instance must consequently [99] be calculated upon the plan, which I have pointed out in my observations on the Book of Judges.

7. The veil

Speaking of this, Clemens says, that it was distinguished by the variety of the blue, purple, scarlet,and linen; and that it therefore typified, that the nature of the elements is, in effect, a revelation from God i—for the purple comes from the water—the linen from the earth—and the blue is assimilated to the air when dark, as the scarlet is to fire39 Josephus speaks to the same purpose. The veil, says he, which is woven of four colours, manifests the nature of the elements. The byssus seems to typify the earth, because linen springs from it; the purple, the sea which is purpled with the blood of the murex; by the blue the air is signified ; and the scarlet (or crimson) is to be considered as the symbol of fire.40

8. The molten sea—a type of the hemisphere.41

9. The chapters of the pillars of Solomon's temple.

These have been shown by Hutchinson to have been a kind of Orreries, representing the motions of the planets, &c.42

10. The pomegranates.—These were emblems of the fixed stars.43

11. If we now examine the dress of the High [100] Priest, we shall find that it suited the plan and the type, according to which I pretend the temple was built. Let us hear Clemens Alexandrinus. But the long robe of the High Priest is a symbol of the world perceptible to sense. The five gems, and the two carbuncles, are symbols of the seven planets,—the two last are for Saturn and the Moon;—since the former is to the south, and humid, and earthy, and of a heavy aspect; and the other is airy, for which reason its name is by some explained [Greek], or air-cutter: But the air, or atmosphere, is obscure, &c.44

The same writer informs ns, that the number of bells attached to the Priest's robe amounted to 366, equal to the days of the year, of which the bells were symbolical. But the learned Father should have observed, that the year here implied was not the solar but the sidereal year, which last contains 366 days. In fact we find that the bells were placed alternately with the pomegranates, which were types of the fixed stars.

The same Clemens shortly afterwards tells us, that the bright emeralds upon the ephod typify the Sun and Moon; and that the twelve precious stones, arranged in four rows, describe to us the zodiacal circle, relatively to the four changes (seasons) of the year.

Josephus gives us a somewhat different account [101] of these emblems; but still it is evident, that he considered them as typical of the general system of Nature. The tunic of the High Priest, says he, since it was of linen, represents the earth; but the blue the pole of heaven—the lightnings were indicated by the pomegranates,—the thunders by the sound of the bells; &c. He then observes that the [Greek] in the middle of the [Greek], and the zone with which it was girded round, signified the earth and the ocean. But, continues the Jewish Antiquary, the two sardonyxes, with which the pontifical garment is clasped, denote the Sun and the Moon; but whether any one wish to refer the twelve stones to the twelve months, or to the same number of stars (constellations) in the circle, which the Greeks call the Zodiac, he will not wander far from the true meaning.45

12. The Tabernacle has been styled, and not inaptly, a portative temple. Now it appears that the Tsabaists had also these portative temples, by which they represented the material system of the Universe. Ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun, your images, the star of your God.46 The idol of Moloch is described by Kimchi; and a curious account of it, extracted from the book Jalkut, may be found in Buxtorf. This idol, according to Kimchi, had the head of a bull: and in the body were seven cells, or receptacles, filled with fire. It seems to have been the exact prototype of the idol [102] of Saturn at Carthage, described by Diodorus; for its arms were extended over a chasm filled with fire which gaped before it, and the children to be immolated were placed on the arms. But Moloch, or Rex, was a type of the solar heat and light, diffused through the planetary system. The Tsabaists, then, had tabernacles which were types of the Universe materially considered; and here lay their error. There were evidently two sects in ancient Egypt. The first taught a sublime, and, I believe, the true system of theology, on which the ideal system of Plato was afterwards built, though the Grecian sage seems not to have always clearly comprehended his Egyptian masters. This sect referred the whole existence of the sensible world to what is perceived and understood. Another, and probably a more numerous sect supported the doctrine of materialism; and it is against these hyloists, that the Priests and Prophets of Judea seem to me always to inveigh. The Tsabaists were hyloists, who held that the celestial bodies moved through space, and preserved order and regularity in all their motions, by their own energies, and by powers, properties, and qualities, existing in themselves. To these material powers and properties they accordingly and consistently offered their homage; for if matter can govern itself by its own laws, there is no occasion for the interference of a spiritual director and preserver. If we say, that the material energy is a vis imita, it is a shift and a subterfuge, (if it be not, indeed, a contradiction,) to call that vis imita a vis [103] impressa. It seems then, that the Tabernacles, or portative Temples, of the Tsabaists were types of the material Universe, and that the Elohim there represented were mere emblems of material powers and properties; whereas in the Tabernacle or portative Temple, constructed by Moses, the Universe was indeed typified, but typified as governed and pervaded by the infinite immaterial Being, of whose agency there can be no cessation. The literal interpreters have mistaken the type for the thing; and have, in my humble opinion, most erroneously supposed, that the God of the Universe was carried about in a Tabernacle, or portative temple fashioned by human hands. The tabernacle seems to me to have been nothing else, than a sensible and material symbol, which was intended to represent the universal system, of which the ideal and immaterial exemplar is in the eternal contemplation of the Deity, who, according to that exemplar, called the Universe into existence, and preserves and sustains that which he hath created.

13. The conversations which are stated to have taken place between the Summum Numen, and Moses and David, concerning the Tabernacle and the Temple, appear to me altogether astonishing, if the sacred writers were not speaking allegorically. I have little doubt, that both the Tabernacle and the Temple were built in imitation of the temples already constructed by the Eg3rptians. It appears from Lysimachus (cited by Josephus Against Apion) that the Egyptians had many temples, ere the Israelites [104] crossed the Red Sea. There was a Priest of On, and probably that Priest worshipped his God in a temple. In fact, Diodorus Siculus says, that the temple at Heliopolis was of extreme antiquity. I observe besides, that the Egyptian temples, were furnished nearly in the same manner as the temple of Jerusalem. Clemens Alexandrinus47 mentions the splendour of the Egyptian Temples, the Porches, Vestibules, Courts surrounded with columns, the gold, silver, amber, the precious stones, &c.; and what is yet more striking, the veils which concealed the Oracles. Now at no period do I believe that the Egyptians would have copied from the Hebrews any of their emblems, or ornaments, much less would they have followed, in the construction of their temples, the example of a people, with whom they held it to be an abomination to eat. Ages before Clemens, Herodotus had spoken of the Oracles in the Egyptian temples, and the Oracle, or call it an adytum, of a Pagan temple could not be very unlike to that part of the Temple of Solomon, which the Jews call the Dahir. Josephus48 says, that there was no door in the Jewish temple to the West; and, I believe, it is said in the Gemara, that the gate of the Tabernacle was to the East. Now we learn from Porphyry, (de antra nympharum) that the Egyptians built their temples with the door towards the rising Sun, and this seems to have been peculiar to the Jews and [105] Egyptians. But I have no doubt, that the Tsabaists always endeavoured to symbolise the material heavens in the construction of their temples; and this, I think, even appears from the observations of Vitruvius,49 The emblems, contained in the Jewish temple, could not have been very unlike to those in the Egyptian temples. We have seen, that the Jewish Ark resembled sufficiently the Egyptian Ark, in which the hierophant kept the emblems of the celestial spheres. With respect to the Cherubim, I have little doubt, that similar images existed in the Egyptian temples; and I think it may have been to such an image that Apuleius alludes, when, in describing the Egyptian Pomp, he says—gerebat alius gremio sua summi sui Numinis venerandam effigiem, non pecoris, non avis, non ferce, ac ne honiinis quidem ipsius consimilem, sed solerti repertu, ipsd etiam novitate reverendam. It is pretty plain, that Apuleius did not know what to make of this image ; but it is equally plain, that he here indicates all the figures represented in the images of the Cherubim, We are told, that the quadrangular altar in the Temple of Jerusalem had its four comers projected in the shape of horns.50 Now the fashion of such an altar was not uncommon among the Gentiles.

Nec Triviae templo molles laudentur lanes,
Dusimuleique Deum comibus ara frequena.  Mart


Miror et inniimeris stntctam de comibm aram.   Ovid.

The worship of Apis, or Mnevis, among the Egyptians probably first suggested the notion of making altars with horns; and this seems to afford some proof, that the temple, or tabernacle of the Hebrews, was formed after an Egyptian model. From whom, indeed, but from the Chaldeans and Egyptians, could the Israelites have got those curious mechanical representations of the motions of the heavenly bodies, which, (as Mr. Hutchinson has proved,) were placed on the tops of the Pillars called Joachim and Boaz? If, indeed, the Tabernacle and the Temple had not been constructed after the models of Egyptian temples, it seems difficult to account for the numerous astronomical symbols, which were placed in them by Moses and Solomon.

14. I have omitted to mention the palm-trees, the Urim and Thummim, and some other astronomical emblems. I conceive, indeed, that I have said enough to show that the Tabernacle and Temple were types of the universal system. As I am not aware, however, that any other person has suggested this notion, I wish to argue the question no more at present. If I be wrong, let it be shown, how all the astronomical emblems, which I have already mentioned, were introduced into the Temple. Whether, or not, I be correct in my references to ancient writers, may be easily determined by turning to them; and I can only say, that if, in the various reading which I was obliged to go through, I have made any mistakes, I [107] am certain that no mistakes have been made with the intention of misleading my readers. I fairly confess, that I consider the style of the Old Testament to be altogether figurative; and it seems to be not a little strange, that Christians should think it necessary to insist upon literal interpretations with the same zeal as if they were Jews. It may satisfy the vanity of the Jews to make it be believed, that the Deity actually abode in the Tabernacle, or Temple, which their ancestors constructed for his residence; but I do not see why Christians should think themselves obliged to maintain so monstrous a proposition. When the Christian looks into the Hebrew Bible for the prophecies concerning Jesus Christ, he does not hesitate to throw aside the shackles which the Jews would impose on him; and he finds abundance of types illustrative of the truths, for which he is seeking. But this is to admit, that the Hebrew Bible is a typical Book; and if it be so, why should we not reason freely concerning what may be true, and what may be typical? When we meet with passages, that either are, or seem to be, irreconcileable to reason, why should we not exercise reason, in examining whether the author be speaking symbolically, or not? When Isaiah, for example, describes his vision of God in the temple, it seems, to me at least, that he spoke practically. Let us suppose the temple to be the type of the universe, and then surely the vision of Isaiah will appear in a very different light from what it must do, if the Jewish place of worship were literally meant. We [108] know that wings were the hieroglyphic, by which the Egyptians expressed spirit and intellect; and that a serpent was the symbol by which they denoted the revolutions of the stars. Now Seraphim signifies serpents, or rather fiery serpents. Instead then of understanding the Prophet to say literally that he had seen God in the Temple of Jerusalem, surrounded by strange winged creatures, I suppose him to mean typically that he contemplated the Deity presiding over the universe, and surrounded by those spiritual intelligences, which emanate from him, which guide the orbs of heaven in their paths, and which hail him the threefold holy one. Lord of the celestial hosts. In like manner, when Ezekiel describes the glory of Jehovah as filling the temple, and relates all the wonders of the Cherubim and their wheels, I cannot possibly conceive him to be speaking literally. We have, indeed, already seen, that the Cherubim were types of the spiritual influences, which conduct the revolutions of the stars from solstice to solstice, and from equinox to equinox; but the word gilgal, which we translate a wheel, also signifies the revolving heavens. Thus our translators properly have written in another place, the voice of thy thunder was in the heaven; and the word answering to heaven in the original is gilgal.

I shall now leave it to my readers to judge, whether they ought, or not, to believe, that the sacred writers literally meant to represent the Deity as residing in a temple, on a box of Shittim wood, between two monstrous images with the faces of a [109] man, a lion, a bull, and an eagle, with six, or four wings, and with the feet of an ox. If there be those who can believe this, I must be permitted to address them in the words of a Greek philosopher—[Greek]—O uninstructed men! will you teach us what is the God shut up in temples?



The passage of the Israelites into the promised land, the extirpation of the original inhabitants, and the distribution of the country among its new possessors, are the principal events recorded in the Book of Joshua. There are few persons, I believe, who allow themselves to reflect, or to reason, who have not been struck with the extraordinary examples of violence, injustice, and cruelty, which are here represented, not only as permitted, but as approved and sanctioned, by the will of the Deity. It is not for mortals to scrutinize too exactly the mysterious plans, which, according to the sacred writers, have been adopted by Providence; but it is impossible, at the same time, to dissemble, that the violation of every principle of justice and humanity only appears more terrible, when it is said to be authorised by the Supreme Being. The inhabitants of Canaan had remained for ages in quiet possession of the country, when it was suddenly overwhelmed and laid waste by the robbers of Israel, who, not satisfied with taking possession of the property of others, burned the cities, and massacred the people. If there be law, or right, or justice in the world, it seems difficult [111] to excuse, much more to justify, such atrocities; and when, for all answer, we are told, that these horrors were perpetrated by the express command of God himself, we must either believe and renounce the use of our reason, or disbelieve and abandon the professions of our faith.

I cannot help thinking, that we generally bring ourselves into this dilemma, by adhering too closely to the literal sense of the scriptures. The writings of the Orientalists, (and those of their historians are not to be excepted) frequently abound in allegory. The histories of the ancient Egyptian dynasties of their Gods and their Kings, are chiefly allegorical; and the same thing may be said of the sacred books of the Chaldeans, the Persians, and the Indians. In the ancient legends of all nations, indeed, the judicious critic will expect to meet with a mixture of truth and fiction—of fact and fable ; but among the Orientalists this does not result more from the uncertainty of tradition, than from the taste, which so generally prevails in the East, for figurative language, for symbolical expressions, and for allegorical descriptions. We see from their cabbala, that the Jews were no strangers to types and enigmas ; nor does it seem unreasonable to suppose, that their historians followed the example of all the East, in blending in their narratives real with fictitious events, and in veiling important lessons to mankind, whether in morals, or in science, under the guise of recorded facts.

To those, who are strangers to the manners and [112] customs of the East, and who are unacquainted with the notions of the Orientalists concerning the art of writing, the statement which I have made may appear singular and paradoxical. The mixture of allegory with history, above all, must appear an improbable and unnatural association to those, whose reading has been limited to the chaster productions of European authors, and who have formed their notions of the object, character, and utility of history, from the models in that kind of writing, which we are the most accustomed to admire. In turning, however, to the remnants of ancient Oriental history, we shall quickly perceive, that our own notions of style, and our own laws of composition, could never have served as rules to the authors of those interesting works. Most of what we know concerning the astronomy of the Egyptians has been gleaned from the histories of their fictitious Gods and Kings:—To believe, that these were real personages, can only be excused to infancy or to dotage. The Zendavesta instructs us in the science of the Persians; and the Vedam in the wisdom of the Brahmans; and he, who would look in either for a true and simple relation of facts, had better satiate his credulity, by believing in the voyages of Gulliver, or in the stories of the Arabian Nights. In the fragments of Sanchoniatho, we find rude traces of the notions of the Phoenicians concerning cosmogony; unless, indeed, we believe, that the historian was in good earnest, when he related, as a fact, the marriage of Ouranos with Ghe—of the heavens with the earth.


The attention of mankind in the East was early directed to the study of astronomy ; and accordingly we find, that many of the pretended histories of the Orientalists are merely astronomical records. The knowledge of the stars was, indeed, of the utmost importance to a people approaching by gradual steps to civilization. Agriculture and navigation have never succeeded, where astronomical science has remained uncultivated; and the necessity of fixing the seasons according to true time must soon be felt by men, when they quit the savage for the social state, and depend for subsistence on the produce of the soil. Accordingly the observation of the heavens and the regulation of the Calendar, appear to have engaged the attention of the earliest legislators; and the first agriculturists were probably the first practical astronomers. As the wants of men increased in proportion to their progress in civilization, and as commercial speculators began to navigate the seas, the necessity of being acquainted with astronomy must have become every day more evident; and under all these circumstances we cannot wonder at the sedulous attention, which was given to this science in climates the best adapted to its study.

There seem, however, to have been other causes, which contributed to render the knowledge of the stars the most important of all acquirements in the eyes of the Orientalists. The proposition may seem too general, but I believe it to be true, that man cannot exist in a social state without a religion of some sort; and the human mind cannot easily rest [114] satisfied without assigning extraordinary effects to supernatural causes. But where men are to seek for God in the book of nature, we must expect them to stumble on a thousand errors, and to indulge in a thousand superstitions, before they discover the truth. As the events, which excite their surprise, are various, and as the effects which they contemplate are different; they look for many separate causes, fancy the influence of distinct powers, and arrive late, indeed, at the conclusion to which true philosophy must always come; and which can be no other, than that a sole and immaterial principle is the source, to which all the phaenomena of nature and of the universe must be traced. In those fine climates, where so much of existence is passed under the canopy of heaven, we can scarcely wonder that the first settlers in Egypt and Chaldea sought among the celestial bodies for supernatural agents, of whose being, and of whose power, the experience of the world seemed to afford continual examples. All the operations of agriculture, the seasons of sowing and of reaping, of planting the vine and of gathering its grapes, were in reality connected with the rising and setting of some constellations, while the state of the weather, and the temperature of the atmosphere, seemed to be equally combined with the appearance and disappearance of others. The influence of the Sun upon the whole system of nature, the splendour of his orb, and the ardour of his fires, pointed him out to the untaught idolator as the source of light and life, as the Lord of the universe, and as the parent of all [115] things; nor, when he withdrew his burning beams, can we be surprised, that the milder planet of the night was hailed as the associate of his empire, and as the Queen of Heaven. The march and order of the celestial bodies, which seemed independent of all power which human sagacity could yet divine, was believed to be the result of their own spontaneous energies; and their influence on the affairs of our lower world soon came to be acknowledged by the superstitious nations. Among men, by whom the heavens were continually observed, as was the case on the fruitful banks of the Nile and the Euphrates, the revolutions of the stars were associated with the incidents of life, the fortunes of individuals, and the fate of kingdoms. A few coincidences will always form a sufficient basis, whereon superstition may erect a mighty fabric; and it is probable, that judicial astrology, of which the origin is more remote than men seem generally to suspect, was first founded upon some vague associations, and some accidental occurrences.

The utility of religion to those who govern, can never fail to be observed by the politician; but where a religion is created and formed by the rulers of the state, its advantages to them, at least, must be incalculable. Tsabaism, or "the worship of the Hosts of Heaven," pervaded all the nations of the East. This, indeed, was nothing else than a more scientific and sublime astrology, of which the innumerable mysteries were known only to the Priests, and to those who were initiated in the secrets of [116] their abstruse mythology. In the recesses of their colleges, the learned Egyptians undoubtedly taught a pure and beautiful system of theology; but the light, which illuminated the interior of the temple, shed from without only a doubtful ray of science and superstition on the prejudiced and semi-barbarous multitude. Science itself was scarcely so much ah object with the Priests, as the art of concealing it from the people. Hence the numerous and complicated symbols of the Egyptians;—hence the use of hieroglyphics even after the invention of letters;—and hence that singular mixture of wisdom and folly, of philosophy and fanaticism, of profound research, and of childish prejudice, which manifests itself in the laws, doctrines, customs, and institutions of ancient Egypt.

When we reflect upon the system of Priestcraft we may be tempted to condemn it as the base offspring of ambition and hypocrisy; but since it must be confessed, that science can never be the portion of the vulgar, and must always be confined to the few, it may be doubtful, whether any real advantages flow from a too ardent desire to propagate knowledge among the lower classes of mankind. It requires so much time and study, to master the great questions in politics, morals, and science, that the mass of the people, occupied with the common business of life, can never be competent to judge of them; and I am not convinced, that they are the least prejudiced reasoners, who maintain that the truth most surely results from the chaotic strife of [117] incongruous principles, and from the fortuitous collision of jarring opinions. Be this as it may, however, there can be no question, that where the government is intended to be sacerdotal, it is the policy of the priests to instruct themselves in that knowledge, which is to be kept from the eye of vulgar curiosity. This, indeed, was the policy which gave such credit and influence to the Priests of Egypt and Chaldea, and which, considered as a human and secondary cause, protracted for a long period of time the existence and authority of the Jewish Hierocracy.

At the period when Moses was called upon to exercise the functions of his legation, the Hebrews appear to have been imbued in all the superstitious notions of the unlearned among the Egyptians. They seem to have had no distinct ideas concerning the divine nature;—to have considered their God as a local and partial Deity,—and to have worshipped in Jehovah Tsabaoth a material rather than a spiritual and intellectual being. After their flight across the desert, and their miraculous passage through the Red Sea;—after all the signs and wonders which they had witnessed, they were still attached to the loved idolatries of Egypt, and still doubtful believers, either in the power, or in the beneficence of Jehovah.

I cannot help thinking that in the whole of this miraculous history, there is much that is typical and allegorical; and that in abiding too strictly by the letter, we lose the sense and the meaning. The [118]  history of the emigration of the Israelites could not have been written for the generation that departed out of Egypt with Moses, and it may be presumed that it was composed for the benefit of their posterity. Now there seem to be some lessons, which it is natural and probable that the great reformer and legislator should wish to leave behind him to those, who were to teach and establish his laws. The great object of Moses was clearly to introduce the true religion, and to destroy idolatry among his countrymen:—The second and subordinate point, which he had in view, was the establishment of a Hierocracy in Israel. In order to accomplish the first of these purposes, he obtained the immediate assistance of heaven itself. That Jehovah is God, and the sole God, was announced to the Israelites by various miracles, which, however, appeared not to have convinced that stubborn and stiff-necked people. The establishment of the Hierocracy was, indeed, ordained by the Deity; but the confirmation and duration of its authority seem to have depended more upon human means. To the mass of the multitude it was sufficient, or appears to have been deemed sufficient, that general laws should be promulgated, that God should proclaim his unity and supremacy, and that the worship of idols, with all the rites and ceremonies instituted in their honour, should be strictly forbidden. These ordinances, accompanied as they were with proofs of power which spoke to the senses, were best fitted for the understandings of a stupid, ignorant, and bigoted popu- [119] lace. But when Moses founded a college of Priests, whose influence he desired to render permanent, it might be necessary to enter into many explanations, and to expound many propositions, which were above the capacity and beyond the sphere of the illiterate vulgar.

There seem to be two things, concerning which Moses could in no way fail to impart his sentiments to the Priests. First, it is obvious, that the people could not accurately distinguish between their God, and the Gods of other countries, and that Apis, or the Golden Calf, was reckoned by them as a Deity as well as Jehovah. In fact there were many circumstances that might tend to lead so stupid a race into error. The Tabernacle, as I have proved elsewhere, was indubitably a type of the universe. The figures in the Cherubim answered to the four signs of Taurus, Leo, Scorpius, (or the Eagle) and Aquarius; and in those signs the Solstitial and Equinoctial points formerly had place. The Bull, the Lion, the Eagle, and the Man with the Urn, were accordingly the four emblems chosen by the four leaders, Ephraim, Judah, Dan, and Reuben, in the camp of the Hebrews. Every thing in that camp, as well as in the Tabernacle, recalled to the people the material system of the heavens, and with it the doctrines and worship of the Tsabaists. At the period of the flight from Egypt, the vernal equinox took place when the Sun was in Aries; but the worshippers of Apis, either through ignorance, or perverseness, seem to have been unwilling to [120] transfer their reverence from the Bull to the Ram, or Lamb. The Bull had been for more than two thousand years the Prince and leader of the celestial armies, and an unlettered people still adored him as such. Misled by similitudes, they even seem to have confounded this leader of the celestial armies with Jehovah Tsahaoth, "Lord of the hosts of heaven."

To the Priests, it seems evident, that Moses was bound to explain the real difference between the theism which he taught, and the polytheism which he decried. By the confession of the two most learned Jews who have written in Greek, Josephus and Philo, and by the further testimony of the most profound antiquary among the Christian Fathers, it has been proved, that the Jews were surrounded, while they performed the duties of religion, with the emblems of Tsabaism, and with innumerable memorials, of that very idolatry, against which their Priests and their Prophets never ceased to fulminate their curses. There could hardly, then, have failed to have been a secret and esoteric doctrine, known to those Priests and Prophets, by which, in the midst of so much ambiguous imagery, the true system of theology could be separated from the false.

Secondly, it may be observed, that Moses established many laws and institutions, which were peculiar to the Jewish nation. Of these, in spite of the labours of some of our theologians, who have sought to account for them, it appears, at first sight, at least, that many are capricious, and that some are [121] cruel. But this could not have been really the case. They must in fact have been all just, and all adapted to the state of the people for whom they were framed. The reason, then, which, under the divine authority, guided the judgment of the legislator, must have been explained to those, who were to be his successors in administering the law; for without that reason had been known to some, we should not have been told that there were Levites, who caused the people to understand the law, nor should we have heard of masters in Israel.

It is well known, that the error of the Tsabaists lay in their believing, that the material heavens, the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars, were conscious and intelligent beings, that governed the earth with all its inhabitants. It is not to be supposed, however, that the sages of Egypt and of Chaldea were themselves the dupes of so monstrous a system. They appear to have been divided, like the philosophers of later times, into spiritualists and hyloists; and it is undoubted, that the former, as Cudworth has clearly proved, were pure theists, from whom the Greeks copied some of their most sublime notions concerning the eternal and infinite mind. Now, if I mistake not the plan of the Jewish legislator, his intention was to represent the Deity as an immaterial essence, by whose power the external world had been fashioned into shape, and by whose agency the order of Nature and of the universe had been preserved. With Nature and the universe, therefore, the Deity must over be associated in a true system of theology; and [122] the type of the spiritual God governing the material world, was, if I err not, that, which it was the object of Moses to place before his countrymen. Instead of that celestial army of shining and unconscious globes, and that rolling multitude of Suns and planets, which were adored as Gods by the Tsabaists, he pointed to the supreme and spiritual principle, whence emanates existence, and whence proceeds the order of all things. It is, indeed, this principle which is truly Jehovah Tsabaoth, the Being by whom all the hosts of heaven are conducted amidst the immensity of space, and in ceaseless revolutions, while he sees that it is good.

From this statement, it must be evident, that Moses could not teach his theology, without explaining the true system of nature, and without developing the connexion between God as the cause, and the order of nature as the effect. In distinguishing between the religion of the Tsabaists and his own, it was necessary to show in what Tsabaism really consisted. It was incumbent on him, I say, to explain, what was the difference between his own theology and that of the worshippers of the celestial hosts;—not, indeed, to the people, who were too gross and material in their conceptions, to have understood him, but to the Levites and to the Elders of the congregation; for without such explanation, what could those, who had leisure to reflect and to reason, have thought of the innumerable symbols of Tsabaism, which appeared in the religious institutions of the Jews? The Sun, the Moon, the twelve [123]  signs of the Zodiac, the two hemispheres, the planets, the solar light, were all typified in the Tabernacle by types that could not be mistaken. It cannot be supposed, that the college of Priests was ignorant of the reasons why these symbols were introduced. But I have to observe, that the step from polytheism to theism is not so immediate as many may suppose. To obtain any distinct notion of a perfectly pure and spiritual existence, and to abstract the thoughts from all contemplation of matter, may not be quite, so easy as it appears to superficial examiners. We may be certain, that men have arrived very gradually at those conceptions of an immaterial essence, which, perhaps, even now, are only entertained as they ought to be by the most enlightened minds. I believe, that the sages of Egypt did entertain such conceptions of the Deity; and that Moses held the spiritual existence of God to be distinct from matter. I cannot for a moment doubt; but this was by no means the case among the multitude, whether Jews, or Egyptians. It may be even questioned, whether the Priests themselves always comprehended the doctrines of Moses; and whether they did not occasionally confound the spiritual agency of God, with the powers and energies which they attributed to matter.

The attachment of the people to the idolatry of the Egyptians could not have been altered by explanations, which their ignorance would have prevented them from understanding, and to which they probably could have no leisure to attend. [124] Positive laws and injunctions were, therefore, infinitely better adapted to their state; but to reclaim the infatuated minds of those men, who were to serve the altar, and who were to compose the Hierocracy, was an object of the most serious nature to a lawgiver, whose chief care was to establish the true religion. Now in order to destroy Tsabaism, it was necessary to show, that it was a system of astronomy imposed on the vulgar as a system of theology. Nor was this all. The system of astronomy was as false as the religion. But Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians; and how could he prove better the ineptitude of the religion, than by proving that the system of astronomy on which it was founded, was absolutely false and erroneous?

The Priests of Egypt and of Chaldea had made a progress in the science of astronomy, which will be found more astonishing the more it is examined. Their cycles were calculated with extraordinary precision; and their knowledge of the most important parts of astronomy must appear evident to all, who candidly consider the question. But the people appear to have been purposely left in gross ignorance on this subject. Their vague, and their rural years were neither of them correct. The festivals were fixed according to calendar made for the people, and the religious institutions were only calculated to confirm the errors of the ignorant. The truths of science were the arcana of the Priests. The whole system of Tsabaism was founded on the erroneous [125] astronomy, if astronomy it could be called, which was contained in the public calendars. On certain days of the year, the people worshipped the Sun under various names and attributes,—rejoiced at one time for his imaginary birth, and mourned at another for his fictitious death. But the year, by which they established the return of these ceremonies, was their vague year, and consequently the Sun was always worshipped out of his place.

Now surely Moses could not employ better the wisdom in which he was learned, than in exposing this false astronomy, on which the, vulgar idolatry was built. If he showed to the Priests of Israel, that all the festivals which the partisans of Tsabism were desirous to observe, were fixed for wrong periods,—if he proved, that these worshipping of the stars were so ignorant as to mistake and calculate their returns,—if he made it evident, that these adorers of the material heavens were utterly ignorant of astronomy,—it can hardly be doubted, that he would shake that respect, which it may be suspected, even the Levites and Elders yet entertained for the superstitions of the unlearned among the Egyptians.

Those, who are acquainted with the astronomy and mythology of the Egyptian, must know full well, how much their religious institutions were connected with the establishment of the civil year, and of the civil month. The Priests themselves, who in their colleges had informed that Calendar, did not permit the people to become acquainted with [126] the secret; and they obliged every monarch, at his accession to the throne, to swear upon the altar of Isis, that he would allow no alteration to be made upon the duration of the month, or of the year. But since the use of the civil year, and of the civil month, was intimately connected with the superstitions of the Tsabaists, it seems extremely natural, that Moses and Joshua should show to the Elders and Priests of Israel, that the public Calendars of the Egyptians were altogether erroneous. This, I pretend, was done in the allegorical history of the flight from Egypt, and of the passage of the Israelites into the promised land.

I am very sensible of the peril, which I must encounter, in advancing such an opinion. The Europeans, not being acquainted with that figurative and symbolical language in which the Orientalists have always delighted, are generally attached to literal interpretations. To matter-of-fact people nothing is so intolerable as being told, that what they call real truths, real events, and real histories, ought to be explained away into figures, symbols, metaphors, and allegories. It sometimes happens, indeed, that they are obliged to acknowledge, that the facts are rather extraordinary; but in speaking of the scriptures, this difficulty is easily removed, by observing, that our duty with respect to sacred things is to believe, and not to criticise, or to reason.

This last argument, however, may not have much weight with some antagonists, who may insist, that without belief be authorised by reason, it is nothing [127] bettor than superstition; and that he, who gives credit to his Bible, without considering his judgment, would in other circumstances have equally respected the authority of the Edda, of the Koran, or of the Zendavesta. But although this reasoning appear conclusive to many; I must yet confess, that I like better the humility of those, who bow with blind reverence to the sacred Oracles, in acknowledging the difficulty of comprehending them; than the arrogance of certain teachers, who, adhering to the literal sense of the scriptures, boldly pronounce, that every event recorded in them is probable, and consistent with the plans of eternal wisdom. It is, indeed, from these persons, that I have to apprehend the severest strictures. I would take away from them the belief of many things, which they hold it as a duty to credit and defend. I would persuade them that Joshua did not rob, plunder, bum, and destroy,—that he did not massacre the men and cut up the bellies of the women and children,—in the name and by the order of the God of justice and mercy,—and for such an undertaking, I must expect reprobation. But this is nothing in comparison, of asserting, that the Orientalists were not matter-of-fact people  that they delighted in allegories, and that this may have been the case with some of the writers of the Old Testament. There is yet, however, a direr charge of which I shall be found guilty. Instead of believing in the historical truth of all those exploits, by which it has been so often proved to the satisfaction of the faithful, that Joshua was a lawless [128] freebooter, and a blood-thirsty robber, who dared to justify his atrocious crimes, by asserting, that he was authorised to commit them by the God of the universe; I pretend, that this same Joshua was a wise magistrate, a scientific teacher, and a true theist, who taught the arts to the people, instructed them in agriculture, pointed out the proper seasons when they ought to sow and to reap, while in the sacred college he reformed the Calendar, and proved the erroneous astronomy of the Tsabaists, and thence the vanity of their superstitions, and the grossness of their idolatry.

I have now stated the nature and magnitude of my guilt; and must expect to be condemned by the matter-of-fact people, who are persuaded, that the Eastern prophets, who wrote three or four thousand years ago, composed their works upon the same model, and with the same regard to facts, as may be seen always attended to in the praiseworthy pages of the Annual Register, and of the London Gazette. But I must leave the matter-of-fact people to mistake shadows for substances, to confound the symbol with the thing symbolised, to realise metaphors, to convert allegories into true histories, and to misunderstand and misconceive the character and genius of the ancient Oriental writings, which are so strangely judged of according to standards of other times and other countries. I proceed to answer some objections, which have been already made my theory.

1. It has been observed, that my explanations of [129] proper names, and that the consequences I thence deduce, cannot be admitted, unless those proper names can be so interpreted, and similar consequences drawn, whenever, and wherever, they occur in the Bible. I am inclined to think, that this argument can be of no avail to those who urge it. I pretend, that those parts of the Hebrew Scriptures, which are usually called historical, are in truth partly historical, and partly allegorical. Not to insist further on the example of all the ancient Orientalists, we may observe, that the traditions of the Greeks sufficiently prove, that this mixture of history with allegory formed the basis of their ingenious and elegant mythology. Thus Hercules, and many others, were partly historical and partly allegorical personages. Castor and Pollux, for example, evidently had an allegorical existence, but it does not follow, that their real existence could never have been. When we read the accounts which are still preserved of the ancient heroes, who flourished in the early ages of Greece, we do not contend, that all is allegory, or that all is true history; nor do we confound the mythological with the historical personages. I read, and I believe, that there was a King of Athens, called Theseus, who deserved much of his country; but I do not mistake this real personage for the allegorical one, who slew the Minotaur, and who conquered the Amazons. I think it by no means impossible, that there were men called Perseus and Orion; and yet I am aware, that the traditions concerning them are chiefly astronomical fables. I cannot be persuaded, then, that I [130] may not apply the same principle, and exercise the same judgment, when I turn from the ancient Greek to the ancient Jewish traditions, the more especially, that the love of allegory was yet greater among the Orientalists than among the Greeks, and that the books of the former are so often found to be compounded of historical truths and allegorical fictions.

2. It has been stated to me, that the proper names of various regions and cities were such as really existed. How, then, it is asked, could the sacred writers be speaking allegorically, when they mentioned those places?—How could they be making allusions to astronomy, or to agriculture, or to religion, when they spoke of towns and districts, of which the situation may be pointed out in the map? There is abundance of evidence, it is added, that such names as we find in Scripture, were really given to the places therein mentioned.

Let this last proposition be admitted. I have stated, that the great object of Moses and of Joshua was to reclaim the Israelites from the idolatry of the Egyptians, and I have shown how much an exposure of the false astronomy of the Tsabaists must have trended to weaken the respect of the Priests and Elders for those worshippers of the stars. Moses, therefore, employed various types, taken from the Tsabaists, in order to explain the true system of the universe to the persons who were to hold the sacerdotal office. The religion of the idolators, as we have already seen, was intimately connected with the preservation of the civil month, and the civil [131] year. The establishment of the solar year would go far to confound that idolatry, which was so much dependent on the false calculations of the Tsahaists. That Moses was acquainted with the true length of the year I have proved elsewhere; and that he was obliged to continue the use of the year of 360 days, is at once a proof of the prevalence of Tsabaism among the Israelites, and of the necessity under which he was to instruct the College of Priests in a better system of astronomy. In fact, the false system of religion, and the false system of astronomy supported each other; and, therefore, the destruction of the latter was a matter of no small importance to the lawgiver, since the reformer of religion was compelled to become the reformer of astronomy.

It will be remembered, that I have already proved, that the twelve tribes of Israel took for their emblems the twelve signs of the Zodiac, even before they left the land of Egypt. When they are said to have entered the promised land, it appears, that the places were named after various stars, constellations, &c. I think, I stall prove, that the whole partition was made in allusion to astronomy, by the proper understanding of which, the idolatry of the Tsabaists, as far as human prudence could effect it, was most likely to be rooted out among the Israelites.

Before I proceed further, however, I have to make a remark, to which I should wish to call the particular attention of my reader. He may, perhaps, have already exclaimed, that to suppose a country to be laid out, its districts divided, and its cities [132] named, in allusion to astronomy, is a wild and untenable proposition. It is thus, that men often hastily make conclusions. The philosopher should know his duty, be patient, and persevere.

Upon this plan, the land of Egypt, the country where Moses was educated, was certainly distributed; but it was so distributed in order to favour the superstitions of the multitude, which the Priests never failed to encourage. The civil year of the Egyptians consisted, like that of the Hebrews, of 360 days; and was divided into twelve months, each consisting of 30 days. This was an approximation of the lunar to the solar year, which appears to have been adopted very early; but which, by rendering the errors of the Calendar a little less obvious than they had been before, perhaps only aided the astronomical and religious deceptions, by which the people were kept in ignorance. The civil month was divided into three decans, and each day was consecrated to the God, or the genius, that the astrologers appointed over it. The whole of this system was deeply involved with Tsabaism. Now if my reader will turn to Kircher's Oedipus, he will find it sufficiently proved, that the land of Egypt was partitioned into three provinces, answering to the three decans, and into thirty nomes, or praefectures, corresponding with the thirty Deities ruling over each day of the month. In Egypt, then, the country of Moses, we find the exemplar of a territory divided and named according to the Calendar.

In fact, we find the nomes of Egypt were called [133] Busiris, Lato, Hermon, Bute, On, Canobus, Mendes, &c., &c., and as we know, that these were all Gods of the Tsabaists, or, in other words, were planets and constellations represented by different symbols, we can no longer doubt, that the land of Egypt was partitioned with a view to the astronomical system, which the Priests intended for the worshippers of the celestial host.

If the lawgiver of the Hebrews, who was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, desired to overthrow the false religion of the Tsabaists, which was built on their false astronomy; and if he sought to abolish those rites, which were practised on certain days of the sacred year, and which, by reason of the false calculations, never returned exactly at the proper periods; he would naturally establish the duration of the year according to the passage of the Sun through the signs of the Zodiac. The Israelites adhered to the civil month of 30 days, and it may be supposed, that those among them, who were inclined to Tsabaism, did not forget the division of Egypt into 30 nomes, called after the leaders of the hosts of heaven. But the true solar year, which it was contrary to the religion of the Tsabaists to admit, can only be fixed by marking the progress of the Sun through the Zodiacal signs. The Israelites had come from a country which was divided, and of which the districts were named, with an evident allusion to that astronomy, on which the idolatry of the people was built. It was then very natural for Moses to divide the new territory upon a similar plan, if [134] by doing so he could give a blow to that very system, which it was the great object of his legislation to destroy. Now, by making every thing refer to the true solar year, he must have completely confounded and confused the calculators, who, going by the vague year of the Egyptians, established their sacrifices and festivals to their Gods of their idolatry, at times directly contrary to those in which they should have been celebrated. Thus it would be evident to those, who adopted the solar year, that the idolators, who followed the vague year, would in a certain period come to worship the vernal for the Autumnal Sun, and would weep for his fictitious death, when they ought to have been rejoicing at his imaginary birth.

We find then, that to name and divide the promised land with a distinct allusion to astronomy, is not quite so extravagant a fancy, as may be at first imagined. It had been certainly already done by the Egyptians; and, perhaps, by other Oriental nations.

3. Some persons have fancied, that the allusions to the celestial bodies, and especially to the signs of the Zodiac, which I have pretended to discover, cannot exist in reality in the books of Moses and Joshua, because, say they, the partitions and collocations of the signs, the grouping of the Stars, and the names of the constellations, as well as the symbols by which they are denoted, are of much later date. This is a petitio priiicipii, which I cannot admit. I readily allow, that the planets and con- [135] stellations wore called by different names in Egypt and in Greece, and that some of them, at least, were expressed by different symbols. But I maintain, that the division of the circle into 360 parts, and of the Zodiac into twelve houses, was established by the Egyptians before the dawn of science in Greece. Some of the emblems were certainly changed, but some of them were as certainly preserved. It is chiefly, where they were changed, that we shall find a difficulty in explaining the allusions made to the celestial bodies in the book under our consideration; but since the Greeks were instructed in astronomy by the Egyptians, we may infer, and indeed we shall see, that they did not alter the emblems so much as has been generally supposed.

If the persons, to whom I allude, will examine the ancient Zodiacs of the Egyptians, as exhibited and explained by Kircher, La Pluche, Bailly, Dupuis, &c, they will find, not only that the Greeks generally copied their astronomical symbol from the Egyptians, but that those symbols were invented at a very remote period of time.

4. It has been observed, that of some, and indeed of many proper names I have not been able to give any explanation. I fully acknowledge the truth of this remark; but let my reader take the following circumstances into consideration. The Egyptians and Chaldeans must have been the masters of the Israelites in astronomy; and consequently, the names of the stars and of the constellations were probably borrowed either from the Egyptian or the [136] Chaldaic. It is vain, then, to seek for some of these names in Hebrew; and when we do, we very rarely succeed. We must, however, be aware, that many of these names have been disfigured by the Scribes, who, when they came to words originally foreign, may have confounded and confused the orthography. Thus they clearly mis-spelt the name of Poti-pherah, as has been proved by Jablonski. The name of On is written sometimes with and sometimes without, the vau. The city of which the name is written Leshem in Joshua, is called Laish in Judges. Many examples of similar inaccuracy might be given; and if in some instances we can yet certainly adjust these names, and discover their import, this is nevertheless to be done with extreme caution. Thus the explanations of Scriptural proper names, as given by the author of the Onomasticon, by Rumelin, by Stockius, and by Gussetius, are sometimes incomparably absurd, because, determined at all events to make these names Hebrew, when they were Chaldaic, Syriac, Egyptian, or Persian, they give us the most anomalous compounds, without regard to grammar or to common sense.

But it is time, that I proceed to lay before my reader my proposed explanation of the book of Joshua. If he still find, that this book contains no astronomical allusions, he will do well to account for the introduction of so many names, which seem to bear direct reference to the state of the heavens, the revolutions of the planets, the divisions of the Zodiac, the positions of the constellations, and the reform of the Calendar.


More than two thousand years have elapsed, since the sign of Aries (called Emro by the Syrians, and Bara by the Persians, both of which words signify agnus,) has ceased to answer, owing to the precession of the Equinoxes, to the first of the signs. The place, which Aries then held, is now occupied by Pisces. We see, however, that before this change, the year opened, and the vernal equinox took place, when the Sun was in this sign. Then was fixed the commencement of the civil year among both the Jews and Egyptians. If, however, we proceed to more distant times, we shall find that the vernal Equinox took place, and that the year opened, when the Sun was in the sign of Taurus. To reform the Calendar, as these changes happened, must have engaged the attention not only of astronomers but of legislators.

Tsabaism, or "the worship of the hosts of heaven," must have been the general religion of the East at so early a period, as to bring its establishment within that era, when the opening of the year, (fixed by all the Oriental nations at the vernal equinox) answered to the sign of Taurus. From the Mithraic, Egyptian, and Indian monuments, we cannot question how much Eastern idolatry was connected with the symbol of the Bull, or with the passage of the Sun in the sign of Taurus from the lower to the upper hemisphere. Now after the period had arrived, when it was no longer in the sign of the Bull, but in that of the Ram, or the Lamb, that the Sun rose from the lower hemisphere, it was evident, that the [138] Tsabaists, even according to their own system of idolatry, ought to have transferred their reverence from the former symbol to the latter. But what could be more humiliating to those partisans of Tsabaism, who still sighed after the idol of the golden Calf, or golden Bull, the symbol of Apis, than to find, that their calculations were wrong, and that they had mistaken the symbol, by which, even in conformity with their own false theology, they ought to adore their Deity? Let us attend to this; and in order to obviate an objection, which is made to little purpose, I shall here observe, that as nothing is certainly known of the date, when the Book of Joshua was written, it may, perhaps, be best guessed at from its own internal evidence. It is clear, that the vernal equinox must have been already transferred from Taurus to Aries, when Moses ordained that the civil year should open with the month Nisan. Whether the institution of the feast of the transition, which we call the feast of the passover, had any reference to the passage of the equinoctial Sun into Aries, I leave others to determine. It is certain, that while the year commenced with the Sun in Taurus, the Persians represented Mithras as slaying a young Bull; and we are not to forget, that the sign of the Ram, was called the sign of the Lamb by Persians and Syrians. I cannot help suspecting that the Paschal Lamb was a type of the Astronomical Lamb.

I have already stated my reasons for thinking, that Joshua could not more effectually, by human means [139] at least, destroy the superstitious reverence of the Israelites for Apis, or the golden Bull, than by showing that the Tsabaists, according to their own system, ought to have transferred their reverence from the Bull to the Bailly or Lamb; and that as their whole astronomy was false, so also was the religion which was founded upon it. The equinoctial Sun being then really in Aries, the Calendar ought to have been adjusted according to the retrograde motion of the signs; and thus the Ram, or Lamb, might be metaphorically called the Preserver, the Deliverer, the Rectifier, the Reformer. Perhaps Joshua, the son of Nun, was no other than this Preserver, and may have been as much a real personage as the Egyptian Hermes, or the Grecian Hercules.

That the Sun rising from the lower to the upper hemisphere, should be hailed the Preserver, or Saviour, appears extremely natural; and that by such titles he was known to idolators cannot be doubted.51 Joshua literally signifies the Preserver, or Deliverer; and that this Preserver, or Deliverer, was no other than the Sun in the sign of the Ram, or Lamb, may be inferred from many circumstances. It will be observed, that the LXX write [Greek] for Joshua, and the Lamb has always been the type of [Greek]. Joshua is called the son of [140] Nun. I find that Nun in Chaldaic, and Nuna in Syriac, signified the great fish, or the constellation which we call the Whale. The head of Cetus, or the Whale, is placed immediately under the Ram, or Lamb, and always rises and sets with that sign, but the rest of the constellation rises before Aries. Thus the Ram, or Lamb, the Saviour, was metaphorically called the son of that constellation, which is next to it, and which rises immediately before it.

C. 1. V. 2.

Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan.

There was as certainly the river called Jordan in Judea, as there was the river called the Nile in Egypt; but as the Nile was employed for an astronomical symbol by the Egyptians, who thus denoted the vast constellation of Eridanus, I am apt to suspect, that the Jews also, in their sacred language, employed the name of the Jordan in an astronomical sense. The 12 tribes, on whose banners, as I have elsewhere shown, were displayed the 12 signs of the Zodiac, passed the Jordan, and took out of its bed twelve stones, which Joshua replaced. Now, when we consider that the precession of the equinoxes had really changed the position of the signs, and that it was in consequence of this, that the Calendar required reform, we shall, perhaps, understand the allegory. The word Jordan is explained variously by the [141] Rabbins. Some make it out to be יארדן, the river of Dan. Others bring it better from ירר and understand it to signify the great declivity. I observe, however, that ירר or, יררר in Chaldaic signifies a serpent; and a serpent biting his tail was the hieroglyphic for the year, or for the Sun's orbit, as may be proved by reference to the third volume of Kircher's Oedipus. Jordan, with the intensitive, would then signify the great serpent, the hieroglyphic for the Sun's annual orbit, or in other words, for the circle, which we call the Ecliptic. The meaning of the allegory seems pretty plain. The style being changed, the equinoctial Sun, hailed the Saviour, and identified with the Ram, or Lamb, opens the year; and is feigned as leading the twelve Zodiacal signs along the Ecliptic.

V. 4. From the Wilderness and this Lebanon.

The endeavours of the Rabbins to explain the meaning of מרבר, which we translate "the Wilderness," and to trace it to its root, have been far from successful. It is evidently compounded of two Oriental words, which are not Hebrew, of which a fuller account is given by Bochart, I mean מרי, and ברא. The true signification of מרבר then is the boundary of the land. The boundaries of Judea were chiefly deserts, and this accounts for the meaning usually given to the word. But if there be any astronomical allusion here, the term may have been applied to the horizon.


Lebanon. There was a mountain known by this name; but I suspect that Lebanon was as much an astronomical symbol as Atlas, which also served for the name of a mountain, Lebana signified the Moon, which the Rabbins say was thus denominated from its whiteness; but I imagine, that the root, answers rather to the Latin Candidus, and might even be translated erubescens. The word Lebana, "the Moon," occurs but rarely in the Bible; and I am inclined to think, that it was employed for the rising Moon. Lebanon I conceive to have been a name given to the Sun, and probably to the rising Sun.

Even unto the great river, the river Euphrates.

The Nile and the Jordan, as we have already seen, served for astronomical symbols. If I mistake not, we shall find the same thing to be true of the Euphrates. The original meaning of גהר is not a river, but splendour, or more exactly the flux of light. The Pharet, or Euphrates, I conceive to signify fruit-bearing, or, perhaps, a fruit-tree. The name may have been given to the river from the fertility of its banks; and this is the general opinion of the Rabbins. But a fruit-tree was certainly a symbol of the starry heavens; and the fruits typified the constellations. In the ancient astronomical monuments of the Persians, fruit-trees are generally represented. We see traces of this in the mythology of the Greeks, and especially in the astronomical [143] allegory concerning the golden apples brought by Hercules from the gardens of the Hesperides. In the 36 decans taken from the Egyptian astrologers, frequent allusions are made to fruit-trees and fruits; and the astronomical Gods, for such they were in fact, of the Egyptians are generally represented with fruits. Thus Horus carries a cornucopia in his hand, and Harpocrates is represented with a persea on his head. On the ancient coins and other monuments of the Tsabaists, and even of the Israelites, we see fruit-trees represented. The Sephiroth of the Cabbalists were disposed in the form of a tree, as is stated by R. Shabte; and of course under this form they intended to represent the universal system. The fruit-tree mentioned in the Apocalypse, has been supposed by some to be a type of the Zodiac, as it bore twelve fruits, and one each month. In the apocryphal Gospel of Eve, spoken by St. Epiphanius, it is said, that the tree of life bore one apple each month. The Arabians typify the Zodiac by a fruit- tree, and on the twelve branches of this tree the stars are depicted as clusters of fruit. The Cabbalists, represent the tree of life as marked with the emblems of the Zodiac, and as bearing twelve fruits. When we consider these things together with the reverence of the Tsabaists for groves and trees, we shall hardly doubt, that trees, and especially fruit-trees, were symbols of the starry heavens. The splendour of Pharet, "the fruit-tree" might have been understood to mean the light of the Zodiacal constellations, by the initiated; while [144] the people may have thought that the promise related to the river Euphrates. But if the Jews ever had any possessions on the banks of the Euphrates, which is a disputed point, it could have been only for a short period, and not before the reign of Solomon.

All the land of the Hittites,

The proper name חאא is confounded by Josephus with the proper name כתים for which the Jewish historian is reproved by Bochart. I must confess I am equally puzzled by both names, if we follow the Rabbins. These good people seem to have no idea, that their progenitors could have employed words which they do not understand, and the absurd confidence with which they talk deserves pity. חתים, the Hittites, if we believe Rumelinus, ought to signify the terrors, or the constellations. Surely no people in the world ever took such a name. All I can do for this word, at present, is to observe, that it is frequently connected with others, which bear a distinct reference to astronomy. This will appear presently.

C. 2. V. 1.

And Joshua sent two men out of Shittim.

This seem clearly enough an astronomical allusion. שטים comes from שטה, and שטה; was one [145] of the Deities of the Tsabaists. The house, or temple of Shittah (Bith Shittah) is mentioned in the Book of Judges. But let my reader attend to the words of Parkhurst; "[Hebrew], the house of declination" or of the declinator—"not improbably so called from a temple dedicated to the heavens, considered as causing the declination of the earth." He may also see more in Hutchinson, M. P. part 2, and in the 4th volume.

Go view the land, even Jericho,

This chapter seems to contain an account of the first attempt to reform the lunar month, יריח is evidently from ירח the Moon. But as it is written ירחו, Jericho, with the vau, it becomes a collective norm; and must mean the Moon in her different quarters.

Rachab signifies space, or latitude; and was worshipped as a Deity by the Tsabaists, who built a temple to Rachab, called Bith-Bachah.52

It will be remembered, that when Jericho was taken, it was compassed round seven times, with more mysteries relating to the number seven.

Now let us consider in what way we may understand the capture and destruction of Jericho in an astronomical sense.

The lunar month consisted of 28 days, and consequently the lunar year consisted of only 336 days. The first reform in the Calendar was made by a more exact calculation of the Moon's motions, [146] and her revolutions with regard to the Sun; and the year was thus found to contain 356 days. But still a very short period was sufficient to prove, that the use of the lunar year would go to reverse the order of the seasons. Another, though an imperfect, reform was made by adding two days to each lunar month of 28 days, and by fixing the number of days in the year at 360. This was the civil year of the Egyptians and of the Hebrews. Joshua sent two men out of Shittim, that is, out of those that decline; and by them, according to Parkhurst and Hutchinson, we must understand the heavens as causing the declination of the earth, and thereby, says Parkhurst, the succession of the seasons. In fact, the succession of the seasons is caused by the obliquity, or declination of the Ecliptic. But the Ecliptic is divided into twelve parts, each of which contains 30 degrees; and before the establishment of the civil year, each of these parts must have contained only 28 degrees, according to the calculation for the first and original lunar month. The two men seem to represent the two degrees added to each sign, or the two days added to each lunar month. The word Jericho either means the Moon in her several quarters, or the lunar month divided into weeks. The Hebrews compassed the city seven times. Does not this allude to the seven days of the week, or to one of the Moon's quarters? It seems to me that the abolition of the lunar month of 28 days, by the addition of two days, is typified by the destruction of Jericho.


C. 3. V. 10.

He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites and the Jehusites.

The literal interpreters are pleased to believe, that these were so many distinct nations, against whom the God of the universe declared a helium internecinum.

The first to be driven out were the Canaanites, whom the Rabbins will have to be a nation of merchants, כגע signifies to put down, and when a merchant sells his goods, he puts them down before you. This nation of merchants was, therefore, called Canaanites, because they put down their goods. But in spite of this ingenious derivation, I am inclined to think that the origin of the word is totally different. The God of time was worshipped under the names of Chon, Chiun, and Chaon, by the Egyptians, and idolatrous Jews, and the Syrians. These names are clearly taken from כוז, to establish, or constitute. But [Hebrew], or without the vau, Canaan, would signify, "he who established, or directed the time." The Canaanites are then those who fix the time, and probably no others than the astrologers, whose false Calendars misled the people.

I have already pointed out the absurd meaning [148] affixed to [Hebrew], the Hittites, by the Rabbins. I believe, the Hittites signified the worshippers of the solar fire. From חת I derive the radical aith, or ait; because I think the harsh aspirate ח was generally softened by strangers. This may be proved from the names Adad, Eve, &c. Concerning aith my reader may consult Bryant; and for חת, Parkhurst in voce החת.

The Hivites appear to be worshippers of the Serpent, more generally called Ophites. The idolatry of these Ophites was extremely ancient, and was evidently connected with Tsabaism. The great constellation, which we call Hydra, is named [Hebrew] or [Hebrew], by the Chaldeans.53

The Perizites are understood to signify villagers. But why should these harmless villagers be driven out by the power of Jehovah? I strongly suspect this proper name to be an Egyptian word, which the interpreters did not understand, רו, prefixed by the Egyptian article פ, would signify in Chaldaic, Ethiopian, and Egyptian, the mystery, or cabbala. Perizites seems then to mean the Cabbalists, whose mummery was all originally founded on the idolatry of the Tsabaists. Razael or Rizael, was apparently the God of these Cabbalists, who called him the angel of Adam.

Rumelin derives [Hebrew] Girgashites, from גרש, expulit. What then becomes of the second ג?

[149] Bochart brings the name from גרגש which he says signifies clay. This is not strictly accurate; but in all events I must doubt the existence of this argillaceous people. I know not the meaning.

The Amorites must signify either speakers, (i.e. teachers, expounders,) or branches, or lambs; any one of which names appears very strange when applied to a people. But when we recollect, that the celestial hosts were typified by branches of trees, and that the Sun was worshipped under the form of a Ram, or Lamb, we may suspect that the Amorites were Tsabaists—worshippers of the branches, or types of the celestial hosts—or possibly of the Lamb, now Amor, by which name the Chaldeans called the sign of Aries.54

The Jebusites. If we derive this name from יבש or יבס it would seem that we ought to translate the driers up. This would be a very singular name for a people. I rather think, that the Jebusites were a sect of the Tsabaists, who worshipped בשת or בסת was no other than the Moon, and who was called Busta, or as the Greeks had it Bubastis, But see Jablonski; Castelli in voce יבס; and Castelli and Parkhurst, in voce בש.


C. 4. V. 19.

And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal in the east border of Jericho.

We have seen that the people to be driven out were the Tsabaists; or those, who under different emblems taught the worship of the celestial bodies; but I think it evident, that the extermination was asserted not of the people, but of their idolatrous systems. In fact, by a reference to the Scriptures we shall find, that the people were not driven out. The Girgashites, for example, whom I suppose to have been Tsabaists, though I cannot trace the etymology of the name, possessed their country in the time of Christ.55

The allegory now conducts us to the siege of Jericho, that is, in fact, to the overthrow of the lunar month consisting of four times seven days. The people go up out of Jordan, where they have placed the twelve stones; and this I have shown to be an allegorical description of the establishment of the solar year, according to the progress of the Sun through the signs of the Zodiac. But the people encamp in Gilgal; and Gilgal, means the revolving sphere, or the heavens, which seem to turn round the earth. Thus גלגל is properly rendered "the voice of thy thunder was in the [151] heaven"—instead of "the voice of thy thunder was in Gilgal." But when the twelve tribes of Israel, who bore the twelve signs of the Zodiac on their standards, as I have proved in another place, are said to have encamped in Gilgal, the revolving sphere of the heavens, and on the border of the Moon, it seems difficult to say that there is no astronomical allegory.

V. 23.

As the Lord your God did to the Red Sea.

In the original we find יםסוק which is generally understood to signify the reedy sea; but how can this weedy sea be the Red Sea, where I have been assured weeds are rarer than perhaps in any other sea? It has then been called the sea of weeds, because it has so few, or, if we believe Bruce, because it has none—lucus a non lucendo. We learn from Josephus, L. 8. that a sea, and particularly the molten sea in the Temple, was a type of the hemisphere. Now I suspect this יםסוק  to be an astronomical type. The word סוק  I conceive to be very like סק, which means any thing concave, and which, if I err not, signified symbolically the concave vault of heaven. I cannot help thinking, then, that יםסוק, which we make to be the Red Sea, was really the concave hemisphere. I observe, that the universal system was represented by the Jews in what they call their Sephiroth, and at the top of these was the in suph, which may be a corruption for im suph.


C 5. V. 9.

This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you, wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day.

The word חרפה can only signify reproach in a metaphorical sense. I should rather translate it the winter. By the use of the vague year, and by their false calendars, the Egyptians had reversed the order of the seasons; and he, who reformed the year, might not improperly say, that he rolled away the winter of Egypt. But I question much if Egypt was always really literally meant by the word מצרים. I bring the name from צר; and I suspect, that, instead of the reproach of Egypt, we ought to translate the winter or season of condensing colds. (Consult Parkhurst and Hutchinson). But this change of the seasons could only be produced by the revolutions of the heavens, and, therefore, the place was called Gilgal, "the revolving heavens."

It will be observed, that this declaration follows the circumcision of the Israelites. Now there is some ambiguity in the words of the second verse of this chapter;—


which are rendered "make thee sharp knives," and which may be translated "constitute to thyself the desolations of the frosts."

It is evident, in the first place, that the rite of circumcision was common to the Egyptians and Jews, and it is difficult to understand how, by re- [153] establishing it, Joshua rolled away the reproach of Egypt. In the second place, the rite was re-established at the time when the Sun entered the sign of the Lamb, when the frosts of winter cease; and Moses ordained, that none should eat of the Paschal Lamb, at the feast of the Transition, which was celebrated in the month of Nisan, when the Sun passed into the sign of the Lamb, except those who were circumcised. There seems then some reason to suppose, that the rite of circumcision was a ceremony practised, not for convenience or cleanliness only, but as a mark by which those might be known, who were to be admitted to eat of the Lamb, at the feast of the Transition, when the Sun quitted the lower hemisphere, and passed into the sign of the Lamb.

C. 6.

I have already remarked the frequent rendition of the number seven, and which, when applied to the siege of Jericho (the lunar month consisting of four times seven days) presents a very obvious meaning. But after what I have stated, the blowing with the horns of a Ram might appear particularly striking. The Ram, or Lamb, was the solar symbol set up by the reformer of the Calendar in opposition to the sign of Taurus, because the transition of the vernal equinox from the Bull to the Ram [154] already taken place. This, however, is not all. The trumpets of rams' horns are called in the original [Hebrew], and the ram's horn is named [Hebrew]. Thus we find, that the Ram, with which the year commenced according to the new style, is called jubel, and from this Hebrew word comes Jubilee. If there were no allusion to the Calendar, or to the reform of the year;—in short, if this be not an astronomical allegory, it is very strange, that accident should have brought together all these names and all these symbols. In all events, I think it unnecessary to say any thing more concerning the siege and capture of Jericho, of which the walls fell down, when the trumpet was sounded—that is, when the Jubilee was proclaimed, and the new year adopted.

C. 7.

It appears, that after the fall of Jericho, or destruction of the lunar month, Joshua proposed to overthrow Ai. But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the cursed thing; for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zebdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe Judah, took of the cursed thing; and the anger of Jehovah was kindled against the children of Israel. Let us examine whether or not this language, like that of the preceding chapter, be allegorical.

One great object in fixing the true period of the year is to regulate the proper seasons of agricultural labour. No legislator can overlook this object; and I think we shall find the sin of the children of Israel, [155] in the example before us, to have consisted in this, that they did not abide by the civil year, but seem, like the Egyptians, to have had a rural year of their own.

The cultivation of the vine has been always connected with the mythology of the ancient Orientalists. Witness the fables concerning Dionysus. If we can form a judgment from the scriptures, the time of gathering the grapes ought to have been, when the Sun was in the sign of Leo, and this, as we have seen, was the emblem of Judah. But if by a wrong computation the grapes were gathered too early, the vintage was necessarily spoiled; and in a country of vines this was an object of great importance to the people. Now I think, that the allegory before us represents the people as still continuing to follow the old style, and consequently making their wine at an improper season; for which they are figuratively said to have incurred the anger of the Deity, and by which is only meant, that they suffered what the laws of God and Nature necessarily inflicted on them. It is difficult for the philosopher to believe, that a theft committed by un individual, should have kindled the anger of Jehovah against a whole nation. To me all these histories appear as mere allegories. I cannot believe, that the Supreme, eternal, and infinite, Mind either goes into a passion at one time, or comes out of it at another.

It is clearly to be proved from the Septuagint, and from the reason of the thing, that by Achan [156] should be written Achar. Now let us follow the text.

עבר in a moral sense signifies perturbation;—and in a physical one fermentation. This would be a strange name for a man.

Carmi. This word is composed of כרם, a vine, and i for m. Carmi is consequently the vine of Jah, the Iao, Iacchus, and Bacchus, of the Gentiles. Zehdi, is literally the gift of Jah, Zerah, signifies the Orient, the East. This Zerah was of the tribe of Judah, and Judah commanded the Eastern division of the camp of the Hebrews, where were displayed the twelve signs of the Zodiac.

The words before us literally signify—Fermentation, the son of the vine of Jah, the son of the gift of Jah, the son of the East, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing. This really seems to me to be an allegory relating to the vintage, and to the season for making wine.

We are told at verse 21, that the accursed thing consisted of a goodly Babylonish garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels' weight. This has the air of being more historical, than the preceding passages. But let us inquire, before we decide.

The Jewish lawgivers were endeavouring, for many useful purposes, to introduce the knowledge of astronomy, and of the real duration of the year, among their countrymen. But they seem to have been opposed by the ancient usages and prejudices of the people.


Now I think the trespass of Israel was in not adhering to this year. The words [Hebrew] are rendered "a goodly Babylonish garment." But I find, that ארר splendid, glorious, &c., was a title frequently addressed by the Tsabaists to the objects of their adoration. The Sun was worshipped under the name of Adra-Melech. The Moon was adored by the title of Adra-Daga. The month of February, when the Sun was in Pisces, was called Adar; and I conceive it was so named in honour of Adra-Daga, (literally the glorious Fish) otherwise called Dagon, The word שגעל has been explained in a former Dissertation. I then suspect that Adaroth Shan-aar has totally a different meaning from that usually given to it. Adaroth, like Ashtaroth, was probably an idol of the Moon. The Arabian writers tell us, that Adris was the idol of a star, and I suspect, that this is a corruption of Aduroth.56

And two hundred shekels of silver.

The Jews represented different symbols on their shekels, such as the gomer, Aaron's rod, &c., and it may be supposed, that the Tsabaists had their money struck with symbols which were peculiar to themselves. The shekels, which are said to have [158] been found at Jericho, probably were stamped with emblems in honour of the Moon; and I cannot help suspecting, that the emblem particularly alluded to was that of the Moon worshipped under the form of Adra-Daga, or Dagon, when the Sun was in the sign of Pisces, and when the month was called Adar. It appears, that the Persians have named a certain fish from keseph, which they call kesephti; and the two hundred shekels of keseph, which we translate silver, may have borne some relation to the idolatrous worship of the Moon. In Chaldaic keseph signifies any thing of which the colour may be expressed by candidus in Latin; and hence metaphorically signified blushing, shame, confusion, &c., as well as desire, which seems to be a very common meaning of the word in Hebrew.

And a wedge of gold fifty shekels' weight.

לשון signifies a tongue. A golden tongue, weighing fifty shekels, seems a very odd exhibition of riches. But Stockius remarks, that a tongue was the type of flame; and gold, according to Clemens, was the symbol of light. This tongue of gold then was probably an object of the idolatrous reverence of the Tsabaists. But let us proceed.

Joshua had sent men to view Ai. Now this word signifies a heap ; and this heap probably was no other than the Calendar of the Tsabaists, for it is well known that their Calendars were piles of ^tone, on which their astronomical observations [159] were engraved. But some of the Hebrews still retaining the Adaroth Shanaar, and other symbols of the ancient worship, continued to calculate by the lunar month, as that ancient worship required. While the people persisted in this, the lawgiver could not succeed in his design of overthrowing Ai, the pile, or heap, or Calendar, which misled the populace.

Ai was situated between Bith-Aven (read Bith-On) and Bith-El; and these were temples of the Sun, under his different titles of On and El.

It is evident, that the language which now follows can be understood to convey no very distinct meaning, if it be not allegorical.

And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty-six men.

The Hebrews having made false calculations themselves, and abiding by the lunar year, were incapable of reforming the Calendar. The men of Ai smote about 36 of them. This number 36 answers precisely to the number of the decans, into which the Orientalists divided the Zodiac.

For they chased them from before the gate, even unto Shebarim.

[Hebrew] I doubt whether this be properly rendered from before the gate; but allowing that לפגי be translated from before, I wish to know, how שער comes so often to signify a gate, which [160] meaning it certainly often bears in the scriptures. Doctor Parkhurst gives us a verb שער, to stand erect, and derives שער a gate, from this verb; but I have never found any example of the existence of such a verb, nor do I think his quotation from the Targum proves it. The verb שער signifies to estimate. Not to detain my reader, I shall remark, that שעיר  signifies a goat; and that, as Dupuis has observed before me, the sign of the goat, or Capricorn, was called the gate of the Sun by the ancient Orientalists.

Unto Shebarim—that is,—unto fractions.

Whether, or not, this denote the numerical calculations, may be best gathered from the context. "The men of the heap, of the Calendar, smote 36, amounting to the decans, the divisions of the Zodiac, and of the year, and chased them even to fractions; and the reason was, because the Israelites took of the accursed thing, the symbols of the lunar year."

C. 8.

In this chapter Joshua is said to have taken Ai, the heap, by stratagem; and it appears, that he commanded 30,000 men of valour, that he placed 5000 men in ambush, and that he slew 12,000 of the inhabitants of Ai. Now I find, that some ancient nations both of Asia and Europe, had an enigmatical manner of denoting any period of time by a year, and that cycles, and months, and days, [161] were called years; and I likewise find it indubitably proved, that they employed the term a thousand, for one; and that where they count by thousands, we must, if we would understand them, count by units. Thus in the mysterious language of the ancient Persians, 1000 years denoted one month. We are told in the Zendavesta, that the supreme God first created the Man and the Bull in a high place, where they remain during 3,000 years. These 3,000 years comprehended the Lamb, the Bull, and the twins. In this manner the twelve signs of the Zodiac are comprehended in 12,000 years. Ormuzd reigns during the 6,000 which follow. Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, are allotted to the former; Libra, Scorpius, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, to the latter. It is clear, then, that by a 1000 years, the Persians understood one month, or the passage of the Sun through a sign of the Zodiac. According to Suidas, the ancient Tuscans taught, that God employed 12,000 years in creating and governing the world, and that he distributed the 12,000 years into twelve periods, answering to the twelve solar mansions, or to the twelve signs of the Zodiac.

The aggregate of four ages, (said Menu, in what are termed his oral instructions,) amounting to 12,000 divine years, is called an age of the Gods. When we recollect, how early was the partition of the year into four seasons all over the East, we shall, perhaps, be inclined to think, that the 12,000 divine years amount in fact to only twelve [162] months. Berosus fixed the period when the Babylonians commenced their observations at 490,000, and Epigenes at 720,000 years before the passage of Alexander into Asia. Bailly remarks on this, very shortly—Ces ann^es ne sont que des jours. It is evident, then, that there were ancient nations, among whom the Priests, or learned men, in order to conceal their knowledge, employed this kind of mysterious calculation, and that, where they counted by thousands, we must count by units, if we wish to get at the truth. Let us apply this remark to the chapter before us.

It is evident that by adopting the rule which I propose, we shall bring out the numbers in the text thirty—and five—and twelve. Now if I have been right all along, in supposing that the history of the reform of the year, is related in this book, we shall find that these are precisely the numbers which we want. Thirty answers to the number of days contained in each month of the civil year:—five to the five intercalated days—and twelve to the months of the year as established by the Calendars. But multiply thirty by twelve, and you get 360, the number of days of the civil year; to which add about five, and you get the number of days comprehended in the solar year.


V. 30.

Then Joshua built an altar to the Lord God of Israel in Mount Ebal.

Ai-Bel (which our interpreters write Ebal, from following, as they generally do, the vicious punctuation of the Masorites) signifies "the heap of Bel." We must beware of confounding Bel with Baal. The latter was a solar title; but the former seems to have been the emblem of the great Serpent, or Dragon, of astronomers. It is to be observed, that this Dragon was the type of the Moon's course,—the nodes were called the Dragon's head and tail, and the greatest elongation of the Moon from the ecliptic was named the Dragon's belly. Joshua appears to have abolished the lunar year, as fixed by the common calendars, and with it, probably, many of the idolatrous rites practised by the Chaldean Tsabaists in honour of Ashtaroth, or the Moon; and in place of the heap, or Calendar, of Bel, which was made in conformity with the use of the lunar year, he built an altar, perhaps another pile, or Calendar, to Jehovah God of Israel. In fact, Joshua wrote upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, or as I should translate, the second part of the law of Moses. But Moses changed the year, and was the first who instituted its commencement with the Month Nizan, and with the entrance of the Sun into the sign of the Ram or the Lamb.

Six tribes were appointed to bless upon mount Gerizim, and six to curse on mount Ai-Bel. We [164] have already remarked, that six signs of the Zodiac were allotted by the ancient Persians to Ormuzd, the principle of good, and six to Ahriman, the principle of evil.

C. 9.

The first proper name occurring in this chapter, which has not been already explained, is Gibeon. I know not why Dr. Parkhurst fancied that גבע signifies any thing conical. It means any thing that is either convex, or concave, or, perhaps, better, any thing gibbous. I suspect that the Moon was sometimes indicated by Gibeon, though it might more commonly mean the great concave, the cope of heaven.

V. 10.

Sihon, King of Heshbon.

If we follow Rumelinus, we ought to render these words, anotio rex supputationis. It would appear, that allusion is made to the removal, or more properly the suppression, of the true calculation in the Calendars. But I am not quite satisfied about the signification of Sihon, In Chaldaic Heshbon certainly signifies "suppuration, calculation, or arithmetic."

Og, King of Bashan.

Og, signifies lie who hath drawn the circle.57 [165] This word is Chaldaic. Bashan,58 according to Buxtorf, is a contraction for Bith Shan. The sense of Shan has been already explained. He, who draws the circle, King of the temple of the personified year, or annual Sun, must, I should think, be himself an astronomical personification.

V. 17.

Chephirah. This word is generally derived from כפר, a village; but it seems rather to belong to כפיר, a young lion. I know not whether any allusion were made to the sign of Leo. Beeroth, ''wells." I cannot help suspecting, that the orthography of this word is incorrect, and that we ought to read ברית. In all events I agree with Mr. Bryant in thinking, that Berith and Beeroth indicated the same place. Now Berith was named after a God of the Tsabaists called Baal-Berith. What was the distinctive attribute of this God among the hosts of heaven has been discussed by Hutchinson and Parkhurst. The symbols of the celestial bodies were often expressed by trees, as I have had frequent occasion to remark. The symbol of Chephirah may have been a pine;—that of Beeroth, or Berith, a cedar.

Kirjath jearim, signifies the cities of the woods. On the representations of the starry hosts by woods, groves, trees, branches, &c., I have [166] already spoken at considerable length; but I ought before to have cited the following verses from Orpheus:


Now I think, that by the operations of the branches, the mystic poet indicates the influences of the stars. In fact, when we consider how much trees vary with the seasons, we shall less wonder at their being employed as symbols by the Tsabaists. The representations of the palm-trees in the temple of Jerusalem might lead strangers to think, that the religion of the Israelites did not materially differ from that of those, who worshipped the hosts of heaven under the symbolical forms of groves, woods, and trees.

Interpres legum Solymarum, et magna sacerdos Arboris,

C. 10. V. 3.

Adoni Zedek. Every school-boy knows that the Adoni of the Phoenicians, whom the Greeks called Adonis, was no other than the Sun. The epithet of Zedek, "the just," was of course given to him by the idolaters.

Jerusalem. Some bring this name from ירש, to inherit, and שלם, peace; others compound it of ירא, to fear, and שלם. Josephus tells us that [167] Jerusalem was anciently called Solymah, which must have been written שלומה, that is, retribution. The Sun, the just Lord, King of retribution (the seasons having been established in due order) became by the reform of the Calendar King of the inheritance of peace.

Hoham. So we write the word, because the Masorites have misled us by their points. In the Samaritan character, which was employed by the Jews before the captivity, the orthography must have been , and consequently in Roman letters EOEM. This is, perhaps, the same with the mystical word Om, which I imagine to have been a solar title among the Egyptians, and which is still held in the highest veneration by the Hindoos.

Hebron signifies alliance, conjunction, union. Its ancient name was Kirjath Arba, ''the city of the four." The true return of the four seasons, being determined by the reform of the Calendar, the city of the four might not improperly be termed Hebron.

Piranu. This word is not Hebrew, and I believe it to be Egyptian. If upon this point I follow Jablonski, I must translate Piram "the Solar rays;" but perhaps I could express the thought better in French—le Soleil rayonnant.

Jarmuth, This word, according to the Onomasticon, signifies altitudines. Piram, King of Jarmuth, is the radiant Sun, King of altitudes.

Japhia, is a corruption from יפעה, splendour.

Lachith, is not to be found in Hebrew; but in Samaritan, , signifies inflammation, flame, &c. I know not the meaning in the passage.


Debir, King of Eglon,

We have seen, that the temple was a type of the universe, and the Debir, was the oracle, or adytum. Eglon, signifies a circle. Mr. Harmer observes, that an Arab camp is still always round, when the disposition of the ground will admit of it, the Prince being in the middle, and the Arabs about him, but so as to leave a respectful distance between them. Now Debar, or Debir, as M. Court Gebelin remarks, was the ancient Arabic name for the planet Mercury, the orbit of which may be said to include the adytum of the solar system. Eglon being written with an intensitive, means the immediate circle; but Debir, or Mercury, is King of that circle, of which the Sun is of course the centre.

V. 5.

Five Kings of the Amorites are here described as making war against Gibeon, the great concave, or vault, of which Joshua, the saviour, or reformer, had obtained possession. The civil year contained only 360 days; and the five Kings in the text seem to represent the five intercalated days. I have said so much on this subject in another place, that I shall be excused from entering further upon it, and shall only observe that the story of the five Kings in the Book of Joshua appears to be nothing else than an astronomical allegory relating to the five intercalated days, sufficiently resembling the story of the five Kings in the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Genesis.


V. 10.

Bith Horon, "the house or mansion of great heat." But Horon, otherwise written הרונ, appears to have been a solar title, as I think Mr. Hutchinson has observed. It is possible that Horon was no other than the Egyptian Hor, or Horus.

Azekah, "the zone, the ring." This ring was probably an astronomical circle.

Makedah, signifies the division.

V. 12.

Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon, and thou, Moon in the valley of Ajalon.

Gibeon seems here to mean the cope, or vault of heaven. Ajalon signifies a Ram. The allusion to Aries in the Zodiac can hardly be mistaken. But wherefore did Joshua command the Sun to stand still in the vault of heaven, and the Moon in the sign of Aries? Ought he not to have commanded the earth to stand still rather than the Sun? This passage has always embarrassed the matter-of-fact people. When Joshua commanded the Sun and Moon to stand still, I understand an allegory. If my readers will consult Bailly, he will find that the Egyptians did not admit the five intercalated days as making part of the year. This will appear yet more evident from the statements made by Jablonski, Dupuis, &c. The course then of both the solar and lunar years was held to be suspended during the [170] period of the intercalation; and the Sun and Moon were consequently, (though figuratively) represented as arrested in their course. I pretend, that by the five Kings, the five intercalated days were typified. The meaning of the allegory then comes out clearly enough.

So the Sun stood still in the midst of Heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.

The mystical writers of the East did not always strictly understand 24 hours by a day. In fact, they often generally denoted by it a period of time. The period of time here implied was probably about 126 hours. If, however, the literal interpreters please, I will readily allow that about a whole day may also be taken in its usual acceptation. Though it be true, that the solar year consists of about 365 days, and about six hours, yet it must have been obvious to astronomers, that the sidereal year was about one day longer. That the Jews knew the length of the sidereal year is evident from a passage in Clemens Alexandrinus, which I have cited elsewhere.

V. 29.

Libnah, "the Moon." What do our literal interpreters say to this? Did Joshua fight against the Moon? The sense is obvious enough, if we take the history as an allegory. Jericho, being the word ירח with a vau post-fixed, means the Moon considered collectively with respect to her several [171] quarters. By the taking of Jericho, therefore, we were to understand the reform of the lunar month. Libnah, "the Moon," so called from its colour, seems to denote the rising Moon. After the old Calendars were destroyed, in which the duration of the lunar month had been wrongly stated, it was still necessary to rectify the observations, and to fix the rising of the new Moon by surer calculations.

V. 33.

Horam. Mr, Hutchinson thinks that this was the real name whence the Greeks made Hermes. This Horam then was probably no other than an astronomer, who came to help Lachish, of the meaning of which I am ignorant, unless it signify flame. We cannot, however, doubt that an astronomical allusion was intended. Horam is called King of Gezer. Now Gezer, signifies a segment; and hence augurs and astrologers were called Gezerin by the Chaldeans, as observers of the segments of the sphere.

V. 41.

Kadesh Barnea. Barnea, is a word to which I can affix no sense.

Gaza. The real existence of Gaza as a city cannot be questioned. Rumelinus thinks that it signifies a fortified place, and my may certainly be so understood. But I have already remarked, that both Palestine and Egypt were divided, and their districts and cities wore named, with a distinct reference [172] to the astronomical divisions, and to the mythology of those, whose business it was to study science, and whose policy led them to involve that science in a system of mystery, which shoved itself in every branch of their government, and in every part of their institutions. We find in Egypt, that Mendes was a district of country; but we also find that Mendes was a type of the Sun in the sign of Capricorn, and that Mendes signified a goat, I observe that Gaza may signify a goat, and that [Arabic] was an Arabian idol; and, in the midst of so many astronomical allusions, I suspect that Gaza may have been transplanted from heaven to earth.

Goshan. Mr. Bryant has proved that this signifies "the house or habitation of Shan"—"the annual Sun." Goshan was consequently the Zodiac,

C. 11. V. 1.

Jabin. According to Rumelinus, this word ought to signify an intermediate space.

Hazor, means the hall, or interior. Evident allusion is here made to the divisions of the temple, which was the type of the Universe.

Jobab. This word clearly comes from יבב. In Hebrew it seems to bear no sense but vociferation; and this would be a very odd name for a King. But I must take refuge in allegory. In Syriac and in Geez, Jobab signifies jubilee. The name, therefore, suits the subject, if I be right in my interpretation of this book.


Madon, signifies the great measure, extension, also mensuration. The meaning seems to be, that the author of the jubilee, or new year, is called the King of the measure, or of mensuration. Can this be an historical personage? The Arabians worshipped an idol by this name [Arabic]. But Jobah was probably erroneous in his mensuration, and was therefore leagued with the astrologers against Joshua.

Shimron, "the great guard, the keeper of the watch''—custos,

Achshuph—signifies "a necromancer, an astrologer, &c."

V. 2.

Chinneroth—the lyres. I confess myself puzzled with this name. It probably denotes the stars in the Lyre.

Dor originally signifies "any thing circular in its form."

V. 3.

Hermon. This word comes from הרה; and seems to signify great heat. The Sun was called Baal Hermon, probably the same as Hor.

Mizpeh is "a place of speculation, or observation"—probably an observatory.

V. 5.

Merom. Stockius thinks that this signifies exaltation. There are many of those names which it is difficult to explain: but we can understand [174] enough to perceive, that perpetual references are made to astronomical symbols.

V. 8.

Zidon—"The hunter." Sagittarius, Bootes, and Orion, were denominated hunters among the constellations. The hunter Adonis was the God of the Zidonians, who seem to have called their city Zidon, ''the hunter," after their God.

Misrephoth must come from שרף, fiery serpent, and I have little doubt that the שרפים were types of the starry hosts. A serpent was the hieroglyphic, by which the course of the stars was expressed

V. 17.

Halek signifies an equal partition.

Seir signifies "a goat;" and might have denoted the sign of Capricorn.

Baal Gad. A cluster of stars in Capricorn was called Gad.

V. 21.

Anakim—''collars, zones, circles." These have been converted into giants by the commentators; but it is pretty clear, that they signify the circles employed by astrologers.

Arwh signifies a grape in Hebrew, and why should not a mountain be called a grape? Let us observe, that the season for gathering grapes was when the Sun was in the sign of Leo, the emblem of Judah.


V. 22.

Gath, according to Bochart, signifies cattle; according to lexicographers, a wine press.

Ashdod. I cannot help thinking that an idol of the Tsabaists was thus called. My reader may, however, consult Parkhurst in voce שד. But I will fairly confess, that the latter part of this chapter appears by no means so distinct, or to bear allusions to astronomy in so clear a manner as the preceding parts of the book. This may be, because the mystic language of Oriental science can only be partially understood at the present day.

C. 12. V. 1.

Arnon signifies an ark, a chest, &c, also an elm-tree. There certainly was a river called Arnon; but so were there rivers called the Nile, the Gihon, the Niger, and the Eridanus, which yet serve for astronomical symbols. I think, that [Hebrew] signifies the valley of the river of Nun; and that [Hebrew] is written for [Hebrew]; nor is this without authority. We find אר defective for ארי in Amos, c. 8. v. 8. But the Nile, by which name both the river of Aquarius, and the river of Orion, were known, was called ארי. Again, the Syrians and Chaldaens called both Cetus and Pisces by the name of Nun. The rivers of Aquarius and of Orion were joined in the Egyptian planispheres. The river of Nun, or of the Fish, consequently extended along the border of Pisces to Picis Australis, and to Cetus, or the Whale.


V. 2.

Aroer in Hebrew signifies naked; but in Chaldaic it signifies a griffin, an eagle, a kind of hawk, &c. Is this then the constellation which we call Phoenix? Perhaps Aroer is the same with the Egyptian Arueris,

The Phoenix is a name generally supposed to have been given by modem navigators to the Constellation so called in our globes. This, however, does not appear to me to have been the case : the Constellation must have been visible in Egypt, and the brilliant beside it could not have failed to attract the attention of the Arabians, who, I am led to believe from many circumstances, have known it under the name of the eagle, griffin, or Phoenix, from the most remote antiquity. Our astronomers probably called the Constellation Phoenix from the example of the Arabians.

The following observations are submitted to the reader:

1. It appears, that the ancient Arabians adored an idol under the form of an eagle, and this eagle was an image of one of the celestial signs. Consult Hyde Hist. Vet. Pers. and Golius. Now I think this was neither the eagle, nor the vulture, but the Phoenix.

2. We learn from Herodotus, 1. ii. c. 73, and from Pliny, 1. X. c. 2, that the Phoenix was fabled to have come from Arabia. The Constellation so called by us, with the great star beside it, Acharnar, is distinctly visible during the summer months in Arabia.


3. The Phoenix was the type of the Sothic year among the Egyptians. See Tacit. Ann. 1. 6. Be it observed, that when Sothis rises, the Constellation of Phoenix comes to the meridian. It is then entirely visible in the Thebais.

4. It seems probable, that the Phoenix was marked as a distinct Constellation by the Egyptians; for though it contains a small number of stars visible to the eye, yet if we reckon Acharnar among them, we shall find one star of the first, and three stars of the second, magnitude in this Constellation.

5. The Egyptians feigned the Phoenix to come from Arabia. In fact the Constellation so called authorises this fable by its course through the Heavens.

6. Erasmus says, that the Phoenix was the symbol of the year, or of the annual revolution. This Constellation, in fact, rose to the Egyptians shortly before the commencement of their sacred year. Had they known no such Constellation, the observation of Erasmus must be unfounded; and Erasmus was not a person likely to speak lightly on such subjects.

7. The Phoenix is placed not far from the Altar, with respect to latitude. The relation between the Constellations of the Phoenix and the Altar seems to be pointed out by some of the Roman authors. Thus Tacitus, who probably did not consider the Phoenix as a Constellation, expresses himself in words which are by no means distinct, if the Egyptians did not consider the Phoenix as a Constellation in the same region of the Heavens with the Alta; (inque Solis [178] Aram perferre, &c.) Then Claudian in his Phoenix has the following words:

————Jam destinat aria
Semina reliquiasque sui; inyrrhata relucent
Limina; divino spirant altaria fumo.

8. But there is a passage in this same Claudian, which I cannot understand, if the Phoenix had not been reckoned a Constellation by the ancient Arabians and Egyptians.

Rutilo cognatum vertice sidus
Atollit, crispatus apex,

Gilead. This word has been variously interpreted—scaturigo perpetua, and acervus testimonii. Now if my reader will turn to the Egyptian planispheres edited by Kircher, he will find that an altar, and a river, are designated as two iconisms belonging to the sign of Aries or Amman. I must remark again, that among the Egyptians the river of Orion seems to have been represented as a continuation of the river of Aquarius.

Jahhok. I know not the meaning. This was, however, the border of Ammon, or of the Sun in Aries. This brook flowed by Gilead, and it would seem, (Cant 4.) that Solomon alludes to its bordering on Ammon, when he speaks of the flocks shorn and washed there.

V. 3.

Bith Jeshimoth. Mr. Hutchinson has written at great length on these words. I cannot [179] follow him in all his whimsical though ingenious notions. I understand generally, that Bith Jeshimoth signifies "the temple of the heavens."

Ashdoth Pisgah. I derive Ashdoth from שדי. The שדי, or שדים, were certainly idols worshipped by the Tsabaists; and I suspect Ashdoth to have been of the number. Pisgah signifies a hill in Hebrew, but in Chaldaic it may be rendered the segment of a circle.

V. 4.

Instead of the coast of Og, I understand the boundary of a circle. This boundary of the circle, or border of the Zodiac, is figuratively called King of Bashan, which is Bith-shan, "the temple of the annual Sun." But we have seen that the Sun's annual course had been falsely calculated by the astrologers and Tsabaists. It is added, that Bashan was of the remnant of the Giants, that dwelt at Ashteroth and at Edrei. Now I am not convinced that רפאים is properly translated giants. I rather think with Parkhurst, that the Rephaim were so called as restorers of the worship of the Moon. They dwelt at Ashteroth and at Edrei. Ashteroth was a name very generally given to the Moon by the Tsabaists. Edrei, is a word to which I can affix no meaning. It is probably a corrupt spelling for אדרי.


V. 5.

Salcah. I have the authority of the Onomasticon for saying, that the letters in this name are transposed; and, indeed, Salcah is a word to which I can give no sense. The true reading then is כסלה, and this was probably of the כסילים, "constellations," which arose in the cold season in the month כסלי, and perhaps might have indicated by Orion. This constellation is a paranatellon of Taurtis. If Hernon be the same as Hor, I ought to observe that the station of Hor was in Taurus, which rises in the month Chisleu, or November, about the beginning of the night.

Geshurites. This word is apparently a compound. I have already had occasion to remark that the ג prefixed to another word, seems to indicate a mansion. It is possibly a contraction from the ancient Persian. There is no such word as geshur in Hebrew, and I am, therefore, the more confident of the truth of the etymology, which I am about to propose. Geshurites ought, according to my observation, to be composed of ג for גא mansion, and רויש bulls,—"the mansion of the bulls" by which I understand the stars included in the sign of Taurus. I have something further to remark. We write Geshurites, but there is no proof, that the first syllable was not pronounced ga, or go, or gu. Now be it observed, that according to Anquetil, the sign of Taurus was called Goo, or Go, by the ancient Chaldeans and Persians. Be this as [181] it may, however, I have no great doubts, that the sign of Taurus was indicated by the word before us, Maachathites. These Maachathites probably appertained unto Maachah, "a Deity of the Tsabaists," whose temple is mentioned in the second Book of Samuel. What might have been the place of Maachoh among the constellations, I cannot pretend to say.

V. 14.

Arad signifies a snake, a serpent. Probably the constellation coluber.

I have already given the explanations of many of the names contained in the remainder of this chapter; but some of them are to me, at least, incapable of affording any meaning. There seems, however, to be pretty clear proof, that the whole relates to astronomy. Out of 31 names we find the following.

Jericho, "the Moon's quarters."
Ai, "the pile, heap, or Calendar."
Eglon, "the circle, or sphere."
Arad, "the serpent, or adder."
Libnah, "the Moon."
Bith-El, "the house, or temple of the Sun."
Madon, "measure, measurement."59
Achshaph, "an astrologer, astrology."
Gilgaly "the revolving sphere, the celestial sphere."

Without entering farther into the question, I may be permitted to observe, that these names seem to bear more reference to the heavens than to the earth. But I have remarked that Egypt was partitioned into 30 districts, answering to each day of the month in the civil year. Here we have 31 Provinces; and I shall leave it to my reader to find out the enigma, by the help of the five Kings of the Amorites.

C. 13. V. 2.

Philistines, the revolvers, or wanderers. These revolvers were probably belonging to the celestial hosts—possibly the planets.

V. 3.

Sihor signifies the dawn.

Eshalonites, the Balancers, I know not whether an allusion be here made to the sign of Libra.

Avites, the oblique ones, the obliquities. Does this refer to the obliquity of the Ecliptic?

V. 5.

Giblites, "the borderers."

Hamuth, "the pitcher;"—possibly the urn of Aquarius.


V. ?

Mideba, "the stream of water"—possibly the river of Aquarius.

Dibon."The Great Bear"—Ursa Major.

V. 15.

We now come to the allotments made to the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and to half the tribe of Manasseh. It will be remembered that Aquarius was the emblem of Reuben.

I have already had occasion to remark, that in the Egyptian Zodiacs, the river of Aquarius, and the river of Orion seem to have been united. I have also observed, that Nun, or Non, was a name not only given to Cetus but to Pisces. The coast of Reuben, then, was from Aroer (Phoenix) in the Valley of the river of Nun (the Fish either Cetus, or Pisces,) and all the plain by Medeba, which signifies a stream, according to Rumelinus, and by which I understand the constellations combined of Eridanus and the river of Aquarius, generally called the River.

Among the cities allotted to Reuben, whose emblem was Aquarius, I find the following.

Dibon, "the great bear."

Bith Baal Meon, "The house of the Lord of Meon." I find that the Egyptians called the sign [184] of Aquarius Mon,60 with the Latin termination Monius.61

Bamoth Baal, "the high places, the altars, of the Lord, the Sun." Janus, or the Sun in Aquarius, was represented by the Etruscans, who derived their religion from the East, as seated on a throne composed of twelve altars.

Kedemoth signifies "the Eastern parts."

Zareth-Shahar, "the splendour of the dawn,"

Bith-Peor. Peor was no other than Hor, or Or, with the Egyptian prefix.62 Now the station of Hor was in Taurus; and when Taurus comes to the Meridian, Aquarius begins to rise.

Midian signifies measure, mensuration.

Zur, "splendour."

Hur, ''brilliancy."

Reba, "a fourth part." Reuben commanded a fourth part in the camp of the Hebrews.

Balaam, I derive this word from "to swallow up." Balaam was probably the astronomical dragon, of which I have already spoken.

The emblem of the tribe of Gad was Aries. Some of the names of the cities are not intelligible to me, [185] though they are explained in the Onomasticon. The truth is, that any signification, however absurd, is adopted by the lexicographers, who have been misled by the Masorites. Thus we find Jazer made to signify auxiliabitur Deus. But has this word no connexion with ערה, which was a part of the temple,—the temple being a type of the universe? I only give this as an example, and much more striking ones might be adduced, of the absurd etymologies which have been given of names, many of which are not Hebrew.

Aroer—already explained. See the celestial globe for the relative positions of Aries and Phoenix. I pass over several names which have either been explained, or which are of easy solution.

Betonim, or Botenim—literally the Bellies. This is a strange name for a place; but observe, the stars forming the belly of Aries, are still called Boten by the Persians and Arabians.63

Nimrah, from nemer "a leopard." The constellation which we call the wolf is named nemer by the Arabians, It is a paranatellon of Aries. We may, therefore, understand what is meant by Gad's having possessions in the valley of Bith-Nimrah.

In the valley of Bith-Aram (a most vicious orthography) Gad of course had possessions, at least, if I be right in thinking that חרם were those be- [186] longing to Hor. The station of Hot was in Taurus, and the tail of Aries occupies the interval between the signs, which figuratively may be called the valley.

Succoth (or Succoth Benoth).

This is the Syrian name of the Pleiades, which are on the back of Taurus, close to Aries.64

Zaphon signifies "the North."

Mahanaim, "the encampments of the celestial hosts."

The half tribe of Manasseh seems to have inherited half the portion of Simeon and Levi, whose joint standard displayed the sign of Pisces. My reader will remember, that the Ram encroaches on Pisces,

Jair, Rumelinus makes this signify the Lord will illustrate. But it seems a corruption for יאר already explained.

Machir, this is not from מכר, to sell, but from כר, agnus, Aries.

Moab, I believe to have been a title of the Moon. The Sun was hailed Ab, the Father. Moab—like to the Father.

C. 14.

This chapter contains an account of the petition of Caleb, who obtained Hebron for his inheritance.


But Caleb is the name by which the Dog-star, or Sirius is known in Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic. Caleb received Hebron, "union, conjunction," which had formerly been called Kirjath-Arba, "the city of the four," for his inheritance. Now a short extract from Bailly will, perhaps, explain this allegory. "Le changement du lever de cette toile (Sirius) qui retardoit d'la jour tous les ans, donna lieu aux Egyptiens de former une petite p^riode de a annees, qui dtoit prdcis^ment celle de nos ann^es bissextiles; pdriode qu'ils d'signoient sous l'embleme d'un arpent de terre, marquant la premiere annee par un quart d'arpent, la seconde par deux quarts, &c." Caleb, or Sirius, is figuratively represented in the text, as obtaining possession of Hebron, which had been called the city of the four, with an apparent, if not an evident, reference to this canicular period.

C. 15.

The sign of Leo was the emblem of Judah.

V. 1.

Edom signifies redness. The country of Idumcea was thence named. But it is to be observed, that allegory was seldom lost sight of in the names and divisions of districts. In the quadrilateral camp of the Hebrews, the lion, the standard of Judah, was displayed at the North-east corner; and the man with the urn, or Aquarius, the standard of Reuben, at the South-east corner. Now Edom may be either from אדם, a man, or אדם, a [188] ruby, and a ruby was the stone consecrated to the tribe of Reuben; and a man was the emblem displayed on his standard. Leo and Aquarius are opposite signs.

The wilderness of Zin.

I have already explained the meaning of Zin is not so easily interpreted. According to some it signifies a thorn, or palm-tree. But I observe, that צגה in Chaldaic signifies cold, and signifies an urn. Can it bear this meaning from the colds brought by the urn of Aquarius?65

V. 2.

יםמלת, the salt sea. Josephus clearly shows, that the sea was one of the enigmatical types, by which the hemisphere was expressed, and that the brazen sea in the temple was thus intended.

V. 3.

"And it went out to the south side to Maaleh Acrabbim." This does not appear to be the meaning of the original. I translate, "and it went out opposite from the south side to Maaleh Acrabhim!' Now Maaleh Acrabbim signifies "the ascent, or height of the Scorpions." In fact the em- [189] blem of Dan, which was taken from the sign of Scorpius was placed to the north in the quadrilateral camp of the Hebrews.

Adar, read Adarah, already explained.

Karkaa, I know not the meaning; but the floor of the temple (which was a type of the universe) was called Karhia,

V. 4.

"From thence it passed towards Azmon." Rumelinus makes Azmon signify validus. I know not the meaning.

V. 6.

Bith Hogla, There is no such word as Hogla, in Hebrew. I derive it from the Syriac, and translate Bith-Hogla, "the house of the circle, or the temple of the circle," which seems to have been personified and deified by the Tsabaists.66

Bith-Arabah. This Arabah appears to have been another Deity of the Tsabaists.67

Bohan. This word, according to the lexicographers, may signify either "a thumb, or a great toe." This is a very odd name for the son of Reuben to have taken. I know not the meaning.


Adumim. "The red ones." Can these be the Hyades? Scaliger and Bayer say that Aldebaran was called Adum by the Hebrews.

En-Shemesh, "the fountain of the Sun."

Without entering into the metaphysical speculations of Mr. Hutchinson, I shall agree to his physical explanation of the word Shemesh, or Shemosh, which I understand to signify "the solar light, receding from the fire at the orb of the Sun." It would seem, however, that the Tsabaists personified and deified Shemesh, and that they principally adored this irradiation, or solar effulgence, at the rising of the Sun. The fountain of Shemesh may, therefore, indicate the Orient; and I understand this to be the meaning in the passage before us. Towards the waters of En-Shemesh may be, therefore, taken either literally, or metaphorically; but in the midst of so much allegory I am inclined to adopt the figurative sense.

En-Rogel, "the fountain of the fuller," according to the Rabbins. Their manner of obtaining this sense is truly very ingenious. Regel, signifies afoot. Now when a fuller washes clothes in a fountain, he treads on them with his feet, in order to clean them. What is so clear then, as that the fountain of the foot is the fountain of the fuller? But further, the LXX and Jerome write [Greek], and Rogel; and the infallible Masorites authorise this reading by their punctuation. But I find that רגל never signifies a fuller, except when question is made of this fountain: and in spite of the authority [191] of R. Solomon, and R. Kimchi, I shall translate the word רגל without the least regard to distinctions, which did not exist until near a thousand years after the Hebrew ceased to be spoken. In a word, I look upon the Masoretic punctuation to be the most impertinent imposition that ever was practised. For En-Rogel, I read Ain-Regel; and I observe that Regel is the name still given to the brilliant star in the left foot of Orion. I must further observe, that the word ain, which we find so often improperly written en in the English Bible, signifies originally an eye. Now eyes were certainly symbols, by which the celestial orbs were frequently denoted. The story of Argus is a pretty clear illustration of this assertion. One of the symbols of Osiris, or the Sun, was an eye. Sallust, the philosopher, called the Sun the eye of heaven, and his mythological knowledge can hardly be disputed.—But I must return to my subject.

V. 8.

Hinnom "the son of Ilinnom" (i.e. of lamentations,) possibly indicated the Sun, when the Tsabaists mourned his fictitious death at the autumnal equinox, and wept for him under the various names of Osiris, Adorns, Thanmiuz, Aesarah, &c.

V. 9.

Nephtoah, ג appellative. Now it appears to me to have been precisely the same with the Phtha of the Egyptians; nor do [192] I doubt that the [Greek], mentioned by Herodotus, were any thing else than images of this Deity. Phtha was the Vulcan of the Egyptians; and I have no hesitation in believing that the true name was written פתה Phthah; But we find the guttural was often either dismissed, or softened, or changed into an aleph, or into a shin. Thus Herodotus ought to have written [Greek], but he wrote with the single letter, and thus softened the sound. The Aeolic Greeks and the Latins continually changed the aspirate into an s, as when they wrote sex for  [Greek], &c. The Copts seem to have done the same thing; and they appear to have written vca¥ Phthas for Phthah, and I observe that the Greek sometimes write  [Greek], and sometimes  [Greek]. But I hasten to what it is most important for me to observe. The Phoenician פתה Phthah, and the Egyptian Phtha, Phthah, or Phthas, were the same Deity with the [Greek] of the Greeks, and with the Vulcan of the Latins. Now by this God the Stoics typified their primordial fire; and I am led to agree with La Croze in thinking, that the Egyptians also indicated by this Pthah the Tsabaoth, or "hosts of heaven." The name of Pthah seems clearly to be included in גפתוה; but I cannot trace the allusion further; nor point out more precisely what is meant.

Ephron. Rumelin translates this name oppidum pulverulentum, I shall have occasion to speak again on this subject.

Baalah. This was a title of the Moon, as Baal was of the Sun.


Seir, "a goat"—Probably Capricorn, Mount Jearim. The mountain of woods was probably a type of the starry heavens, worshipped by the idolators under the symbols of trees, groves, woods, &c.

V. 10.

Chesalon. In the Onomasticon this word is translated spes, fiducia, &c.; and a very pretty name for a place it is, whether we make it Hope, or Confidence. But I cannot help observing, that כסלון, in spite of its intensitive, and in spite of the masorah, is not very unlike to כסל, whence is כסיל, "the constellation of Orion," We shall have more of this presently.

Timnah. This word is Chaldaic. It signifies "an octant, or eighth part of the circle"—it may also mean a portion.

V. 11.

Shicron, (written [Hebrew] in the original) is clearly a derivative from שכר. I have already shown that Cancer was the emblem of Issachar, (שכר with the jod appellative.) I have now to observe, that the Egyptians made Cancer the station of Hermanubis,—or of Hermes with the head of a hawk, or of an ibis; and that the sign was often designated by the head of a hawk, or ibis, as may be seen in Kircher. But on turning to Buxtorf's Chaldaic Lexicon, my reader will find that שכר sig- [194] nifies a hawk. We may write Shicron, or Issachar, and we may follow the vicious punctuation of the Masorites, but to the Hebraist, Issachar (ishcar) is only distinguished from שכר by a jod appellative, as שכרון Shicron is still the same word with an intensitive ף. By Shicron, then, I understand the Imioh, or ibis, by which the sign of Cancer was anciently denoted by the Egyptians, who likewise were accustomed to place there a beetle, which the Greeks seem to have mistaken for a crab.

Jabneel. The lexicographers make this name to signify aedificare faciei Deus.

El in the composition of these Canaanite names does not signify Deus, but Sol. I shall now leave the literal interpreter to make what he can of Jabneel.

V. 14.

Anak—"the collar, or necklace, &c." But the Rabbins tell us that Anak was a celebrated giant. What could induce this giant to call himself anak, a necklace? Perhaps the literal interpreters can inform us. In the text, however, we find העגק, the necklace; so he was the necklace [Greek].

I observe that Caleb, Sirius, takes possession of the country of Anak. I suspect then, that Anak has some reference to astronomy. The verb גק signifies "to bind, or to girt round;" and the substantive, therefore, may be translated "a belt, a [195] zone," with as much propriety as a necklace. What then if Anak be an astronomical zone?—the Ecliptic for example. Now we know, that the Sothic year, or cycle, was determined by the heliacal rising of Sirius; and by this canicular period as it was called, the true duration of the year was determined, and the conjunctions of the Sun and Moon were fixed in the same points of the heavens.

V. 14.

And Caleb drove thence the three sons of Anak (the circle or zone) Sheshai, and Ahiman and Tahnai,

Rumelinus, and the lexicographers, make these names bear very singular significations. Sheshai means the decrepit of God—Ahiman, the brother in like—and Tahnai, is a furrow. The explanations of Bochart are scarcely more to the purpose; and I must consign these names to the obscurity in which I found them, only observing that Ahiman, according to Munster, was an idol of the Tsabaists.

V. 15.

Kirjath-Sepher. ''The city of the book, or record"—by which was probably meant the false calendar.

I shall pass over the remaining names that occur in this episode concerning Caleb, by none of which I can give any meaning, for I cannot, in contradiction to common sense, and even to the true etymo- [196] logy, translate Achsah, "stocks," Othniel, "the gentleness of God" and Kenaz, "loss" as has been done by the lexicographers. It is evident that these, like the rest, were allegorical names, the meaning of which can no longer be traced. I return to the inheritance of Judah, whose emblem was Leo.

V. 21.

Kabzeel, literally the congregation of the Sun. Leo is the station of Sol.

Eder, means a herd of any animals. This would be a strange name to give to a place. The animals of the Zodiac were probably understood,

Jagur, is composed of י formative, and גור, a lion's whelp. The Sun in the first decan of Leo was possibly represented under this form; and this may have been named by Gur Baal. We also hear of Maalah-Gur, "the ascent of the lion's whelp."

V. 22.

Kinah. The lexicographers bring this word from קז, and they render it lamentation. I cannot consider the jod as a radical; I read קיגה for קיה, a measuring rod, or, according to Rumelin, scapus in statera, unde bilances dependent. The allusion may then be to Libra.


Dimonah. Terra a fluxu excrementorum dicta. Rumel. I cannot believe it. The tribe of Judah would have refused a possession so offensive to their olfactory nerves. It appears to me, that Di-monah was a title given to the Moon. Di is a radical of remote antiquity, to be found in many languages, signifying, day, light, &c., which was thence given to their Deities by the Tsabaists. Monah, or Manah, or Menah, is a name not less common to the Moon. Concerning both words my reader may consult M. Court Gebelin, vol. 4. Dimonah then is Dea Luna, or perhaps, lux Lunae.

Adadah. As this word is written, it is difficult to determine the meaning. We know, however, that Adad was a solar title, and though the orthography does not authorise the inference, the sound may lead us to conclude, that Adadah was a title of the Moon. The word Adad, the solar title mentioned by Macrobius, must have come from אחד.

V. 23.

Ithnan, is compounded of י formative, and תגן, serpent, or dragon. The allusion seems to be to the great constellation Hydra, under the feet of Leo.

V. 24.

Ziph. This word is not Hebrew. Rumelinus makes it signify a pledge; but this is a forced meaning, if it can be obtained at all from the Chaldaic.


Telem. There is no such word in Hebrew. In Chaldaic it signifies oppression; but this would be a strange proper name.

BealothLadies—but as these ladies were idols of the Moon, or lunar emblems, I must consider them as such.

V. 25.

Hadattah; this word is Chaldaic, and signifies the new moon.

V. 26.

Araam, "mother." Possibly the Moon, under her character of the magna mater, may be meant: But of this we shall speak presently.

Shema, "auditiis" Onom. This would be a singular proper name. I suspect the word to be wrongly written.

I observe that the Arabians name the two brilliant stars in Virgo, which we call Spica and Protygeter (not Arcturus, as Golius has it) [Arabic] and [Arabic]. Now whether the Arabians have changed the radical ain for the radical kef. I cannot venture to decide, but it is possible that the ancient name of Spica was שמע, and that the Arabians have altered the sound to [Arabic]. Kircher says that the station of the Moon in this part of the sign is called Zamach.

Moladah, the offspring, from ילד. We have seen that Anuun signifies a mother, I have [199] said that allusion might be made to the Magna Mater. But the Magna Mater was no other than the Dea Multimammia, the Phrygian Cybele, the Ephesian Diana, and the Egyptian Isis. Again, in the apparently whimsical spirit of mythology these were all feigned to be virgins. Isis had the same place in the Egyptian Zodiac as Virgo in ours. But in the ancient Oriental Zodiacs the Virgin was represented as a Mother. The two following passages will not fail to strike the reader. In prima facie Virginis (translated from the Jewish astrologer Avenar) ascendit Virgo pulchra, longis capillisy et duas in manu spicas continei, sedetque supra sedem, et nutrit puerum adhuc jxon'idum, et lactat et cibat euni. The next passage is from Albumazar, an Arabian astrologer. Oritur in jyrimo Virginis decano puella, Amhiee dicta, Adcrenosa, id este virgo munda, virgo imnmculata, corpore decora, rnltu venusta, hahitu modesta, crine prolixo, manu duas aristas tenens, supra solium aulaatum residens, puerum nutriens ac jure pascens, in loco, cui nomen Hebrcea, perim dico d quibusdam nationibus nominatum lESVM, significantibus Issa (nempe יושע vel ישע "salvatorem") quem et Graece, CHRISTVM dicunt.68

If then any allusion were intended to be made to the sign of Virgo, it could hardly be done in a [200] clearer manner than by mentioning Amam, "the mother," and Moladah, "the progeny."

V. 27.

Hazar Gaddah,—Both words have been already explained.

Heshmon. It is clear, that the letters in this name have been transposed, and probably for a mysterious purpose. In the Onomasticon, the word Heshmon is brought from unxit, and even the English reader will easily see that this is only a transposition of the radicals in ון— חשמ . The Jews in fact pretend, that one Messiah, was to be born of the tribe of Judah, and another of the tribe of Ephraim. This Heshmon seems to indicate him, who was the anointed of Judah, and who, indeed, is called ben-Jehudah, "Judah's son." Let us inquire if there be any astronomical allusion here. Immediately on leaving the sign of Leo, the emblem of Judah, the Sun passes into the sign, where, as we have already seen, the ancient Persians, Arabians, and Syrians, depicted Virgo, with a male infant in her arms. Now I observe that the Arabians make [Arabic] Mesaiel, the protecting Genius in the sign of Virgo.69  This Mesaiel seems to manifest corruption from Mesiah-El. It is vain to talk of the shin being dageshed by the Masorites, of its being written with a [Arabic] instead of [Arabic] in the Arabic, [201] or of the aspirate being suppressed. We ourselves suppress the sound of the aspirate in Eve, Messiah, and many other words. Besides, the Syrians certainly often softened the harsh aspirate; and the Arabians may have caught the sound from them. Mesai-El, then appears to be a corruption for Messiah El—"the anointed of El" the male infant, who rises in the arms of Virgo, who was called Jesus by the Hebrews, that is "the Saviour," and was hailed the anointed King, or the Messiah.

V. 27.

Bith-Palet. Mr. Hutchinson properly refers the word Palet to ילד, and we are not to forget that we have just had the derivative Molidah. The mansion, or temple of Palet, clearly relates to a station of the Moon, but of the Moon worshipped as the Goddess of Parturition, and known by various names, Ilythia, Juno, Lucina, &c.70 I am inclined to think, that the Moon was particularly adored under the title of Palet, "the deliverer," on the last night of the month. I remark, at least, that the Arabians call the last night of the month [Arabic].71

V. 28.

Hazar-Shual. Literally, the hall of the fox, I can only offer conjectures on this singular [202] name. I observe that the constellation of Bootes, in which is the remarkable star Arcturus, so nearly placed to Virgo, is sometimes called Lycaon by the Greeks, and Lycaon is evidently derived from [Greek], a wolf, and as the translators differ whether shugal be a fox, or a jackal, the Greeks may have made it a wolf. The Hebrews called this constellation Caleb Anuhach, "the barking dog," in evident allusion to latrator Anubis; and the Egyptians (as appears from Kircher's planisphere) made Anubis the slayer of the wolf, which constellation we now combine with that of Centaurus. The Latins,72 among other names, called Bootes Canis. Perhaps, then, the Fox in the text was no other than Bootes, or the most luminous star in this constellation, commonly called Arcturus. This star is remarkable for its red and fiery appearance. Now I find that in Arabic shal, signifies to inflame, to set on fire. The radicals here are the same as in שועל. Then I suspect, that Arcturus may have been so denoted. This is not all. Arcturus rises with Virgo, and with her ears of corn. The heat of the season is excessive, and the lightnings frequently burn and scorch the com and the vines, while the Sun continues in the sign of Virgo. It would seem that there may be something in the story of Samson and his foxes connected with the observations, which 1 have been making. Samson, literally [203]  signifies the Sun. But I shall say more on this subject in another place.

Beer-Sheba. This is translated the well of the oath. Onom. That the words may bear this meaning is true; but I ask the literal translator, whether it may not signify the well of seven? What if beer, be a metaphorical word? In its primitive sense73 it signifies, when used as a verb, to elucidate, to give light, to render clear. Sheba, certainly may signify an oath, and as certainly it signifies seven. Beer-sheba, may then either be rendered the well of the oath, or the lustre of seven. The seven may be the planets, or they may be the Pleiades, or they may be the seven stars of the Wain, which the Orientalists, according to Hyde, still call the seven without any other distinctive appellation.

Bizjothjah. The lexicographers make this word to signify contemtus Domini. This is surley a strange name for a city. I find, that the Arabians call the constellation of Centaurus, the proximity of which to Virgo my reader must already be aware of, by a name, which, I think, will bring us to the one in the text. They call Ceutaurus [Arabic], in Chaldaic' characters בזה. Now Bizjothjah, is clearly a compound word, of which the first must be traced to בזה the ancient Arabic name of the constellation which we call Centanrus. We find the [204] additional name of יה Jah, whence the Iacchus and Bacchus of the Gentiles. This may, perhaps, explain, why Centaurus (as in Bayer's forty-first table) is represented with a thyrsus, and a flagon of wine. I rather think, that this name comes out pretty clearly, as that of the constellation indicated. I request of my readers to remember, that I am the first, who has attempted to give these elucidations to the proper names contained in the ancient, and very mystical, book before us. Where they think I have failed, let them examine the subject with care, and new lights will appear, which can only help to guide them in the course which I have pointed out If I meet with an opponent, who really understands the question, I think he will be puzzled with the mass of collective evidence, which I have brought together. No Orientalist will pretend to deny, that the ancient Arabic name for Centaurus, forms the primary part of the word before us; and that the name of the God Iao, Iacchus, &c., came from Iah, I believe, will be at least generally admitted.74

V. 29.

Baalah, ''the Moon."

Jim. This word may bear several meanings, piles, heaps, strong ones, &c. I suspect a false orthography.


Azem. See what I have said, in voce Gazii. I understand Mendes.

V. 30.

Eltolad. By Azem, I have understood Mendes, or the Sun in the sign of Capricorn, for the final mem is servile and intensitive, and the root is Az, "a goat." Now the goat was adored by the Tsabaists as the symbol of Sol Generator. It would be idle to waste time in proving this. I shall, therefore, only add, that Eltolad signifies the Sun, or the God of generation.

Chesil, is the Hebrew name for the constellation of Orion. Will it still be said, that there are no astronomical allusions in the text?

V. 31.

Ziklag. "The effusion of the fountain, or stream," Onom. Does this mean the river of Aquarius? In fact, Aratus calls this river effusio aqtue.

Madmanoh. In the Onomasticon this word is made to signify dung. But why not render it "a dimension of the portion, a measure of the allotment"? Mad-manah, "a measure of the share given to the tribe of Judah," does not sound so strangely to the ear, as a place called Dung, in which the inhabitants were yet content to live. But I suspect, that manah, is that same ancient word for the Moon, of which I have already spoken: [206] and that the word expresses a proportion or dimension of the Moon, or perhaps, of the month.75

Sansanah. "The branch of a palm-tree." Trees, in the most ancient dialects, appear to have received their names in allusion to the God, to whom they were sacred. Thus an oak seems to have been called אלה in honour of אלה, or אל, under which names the Tsabaists worshipped the Sun as their principal God. The palm-tree was a well-known solar symbol, and might have been named after that Deity so anciently, and in so many tongues, called Son, San, Sonne, Sun, Zan, Zen, Zoan, &c.76

V. 32.

Lebaoth, "The lions." In the Egyptian Calendar, which I believe is chiefly taken from Avenar, I observe that there are three different lions introduced into the symbols of the sign of Leo.

Shilhim, may mean "messengers, swords, and branches, or shoots of trees." I suspect the orthography.

Ain, has been already explained.

Rimmon, ''The exalted one." This was a Syrian Deity, and probably indicated the Sun in his highest exaltation, in the sign of Leo, in which the Summer solstice must have had place when this book' was written, according to the fixed zodiac.


V. 33.

The illusions seem now to be directed to the constellations at the Autumnal Equinox, when the Sun descends to the lower hemisphere. The first place in the valley is named Eshtaol. In the Onomasticon, and Rumelin's Lexicon, this word is said to be compounded of [Hebrew], and to signify dispono me in sepulcrum. The first word may be a noun with א formative prefixed. שואל answers in signification to Hades. The mythologist has no need to be reminded of more. The descent of the Sun to the lower hemisphere is clearly typified. For the meaning of  שואל consult Parkhurst.

Zoreah, "the leprosy." This Zoreah was part of the portion of Dan, whose emblem was Scorpius, the accursed sign. Herodotus77 remark, "that he who has the leprosy, or white scab, among the citizens, neither enters the city, nor mingles with the other Persians; for they say, he has it, for having committed an offence against the Sun." Zoreah may also signify a wasp, or a hornet; and perhaps it may have also denoted a scorpion.

Ashnah, signifies darkness.78

Zanoah, seems to signify, "something that repels," or perhaps it is Zan-och—the name of the Sun combined with the title och, for which see Bryant.79


Tapuah—in the Onomasticon is properly rendered an apple. This, however, would be a strange name for a place, if there were no mystery. But Tapuah, or "the apple," was a symbol of one of the Deities of the Tsabaists, who had a temple erected to Tapuah, called Bith Tapuah. This Tapuah then was an astronomical symbol; for the Tsabaists had no other Gods than the Hosts of Heaven. Now observe, that Coluber, the adder, placed on the back of Scorpius, and the emblem of Dan, was called Eve by the ancient Persians, as Chardin attests; and let it be remembered, that a dragon guarded the apples in the gardens of the Hesperides, in the astronomical fable of Hercules. Tapuah was then probably the symbol of Eve's apple; and when it is considered that this fruit ripens about the time, when the Sun enters Scorpius, and verges on the serpent, as he descends to the lower hemisphere, the region of Typhon, or of Ahriman, the principle of evil, we may, perhaps, combine enough of circumstances to understand, why Tapuah has been connected with the religion of the Tsabaists.

I passed over the preceding word, En-gamum, because I thought this would be a more proper place for its explanation. The 12th labour of Hercules, or the fiction concerning the gardens of the Hesperides, relates to the passage of the Sun into the sign of Cancer. But this same story is not unconnected with that of Hercules ingeniculus, or Serpentarius, which constellation, according to [209] Theon, sets as Cancer rises. Now in the same position, where we find Tapuah, the Apple, we also meet with En-gamum, "the fountain of the gardens." It will be remembered that Hercules passed the river Evenus, or Even, after he had obtained the golden apples, and it was there that he slew the Centaur Nessus. This Even, as Court Gebelin observes, is literally "the water of the Sun." Now it appears, that Hercules ingeniculus and Centaurus set about the time, when the river, or fountain, of Aquarius rises. The next word Enam means likewise "a fountain."

V. 35.

Jarmuth, "altitude." Onom.

Adullam. Even Rumelinus authorises me to find the sense of this word in the Arabic [Arabic], which signifies the Equinox.

Socoh. In its general sense this word seems to signify a thorn, or pointed branch. It occurs under this form but twice in Hebrew, as far as I know; and consequently I think it may have occasionally been used in senses, which are now lost. We must remember, that genuine Hebrew has never been spoken since the captivity, and that all our knowledge of the language is derived from a single volume. Many senses of words have consequently been lost; and it is only occasionally, that they can be recovered by a reference to the cognate dialects. A thorn would be a strange name of a place. But if I have succeeded in showing, that [210] the names from verse 33, relate to the constellations connected with the descent of the Sun to the lower hemisphere, at the Autumnal Equinox, we shall easily find a solution of the word before us. [Arabic] in Arabic signifies a scorpion's sting. The star in Scorpius so called is of about the fourth magnitude. By consulting Castelli and Golius, the reader will find that, in spite of the diacritical points, which are placed over the ه, and which give it the sound of a tau, the Hebrew and Arabic words are the same, Azekah. This word seems to mean "any thing that surrounds" fences, or hedges in. Could this name have been given to the circle of stars, which we call Corona Australis?

V. 36.

Sharaim. These were idols in the form of satyrs worshipped by the Tsabaists.80 Bochart81 has brought together much curious learning on the subject. It would appear, that these Sharaim were considered as Demons, and since they were made objects of worship at all, it is not surprising, that honours should be rendered to them when the Sun descended to the lower hemisphere. שערים may also signify gates, but I scarcely think that this is the meaning here.


Adithaim, literally signifies ornaments.82 But there probably is some latent meaning, which is now lost to us; and from the Arabic [Arabic] I am led to think, that Adithaim may have meant sepulchral stones, nor would this be incongruous, if we were to drop the jod, and read עדתים, the testimonies, or monuments.

Gederah, and Gederothaim. These words are expressive of inclosed places. Can there be any allusion here to the place of interment of Apis, which took place always at the Season of the year, when the Sun descended to the lower hemisphere? This sepulchral spot was in a temple near to Memphis, and none might pass the sacred precincts, but at the time when the symbol of the departed Sun was there interred. Were there not so many astronomical and mythological allusions already so clearly made out, I should not have offered these merely conjectural suggestions on the words before us. Perhaps, the constellation which we call the Altar, and which is close to Scorpius may have been indicated.

V. 37.

Zenan, may signify either a shield y or a sting.83 Is the allusion here to the sting of Scorpius?

[212] It is possible, that Zenan may be no other than Zan, or Zoan, with an intensitive.

Hadasha. This word signifies the new Moon.

Migdal-Gad, "the tower of Gad." The asterism of Gad has been already mentioned. Ten stars in the sign of Capricorn are known by this name to the Orientalists.

V. 38.

Dilean. I find that this word signifies a gourd, or a cucumber, in Chaldaic. It would be an odd name to give to a city; but I observe, that the urn of Aquarius is variously called Deli, Dalu, Delo, Delu, in Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic; and I suspect, that the word was originally written Delu, which with the intensitive would be Delun. It is to be observed that the Syriac waw and the Phoenician oin had nearly the same open sound. A stranger, therefore, who wrote from his ear, might easily convert דלו into דלע. This might the more readily happen, that the great urn, which in the other dialects would have been called delun, would have been delin in Hebrew.

Mizpeh. "The place of observation." I rather think, that allusion is made to the time of a solstice, when this word is introduced. The place of observation, or observatory, is placed by Joktheel, the aggregate of El, or of the Sun. By this, I suppose, was meant the aggregate time of his passing from one solstice to another.


V. 39

Lachish. I have already observed that this word is not to be easily explained. Rumelinus makes it signify musk; but I must still render it flame, though this may not be the sense.

Bozkath. This word seems to signify fermentation. But I believe it chiefly refers to farinaceous fermentation. The produce of the harvests seems to be indicated, and consequently the season of the year: for after the mention of this word, we find several relating to agriculture and its effects.

Eglon may mean a circle, as we have already seen; but it also signifies a waggon, and an ox.

Kabbon and Kitlish are two words to which I will not venture to affix a sense; because the first seems capable of bearing various meanings; and because I am unable to trace the second to its root. Lahmam signifies bread. But Lalinunn, or Lehem, was a Deity of the Tsabaists, whose temple is mentioned several times in scripture. Lehem was probably the same with Ceres. I know not why Gederoth is introduced, unless it indicates sheepfolds, a sense which, I believe, it will bear. Bith-Dagon, in this place, deserves particular notice. A Deity of the name of Dagon was worshipped under the form of a monster, which had the head and arms of a man, and the tail of a fish. This appears to have been the symbol of the Sun in Pisces; and was considered as the principle of fecundity. Hence dagon seems to have been employed to signify "the [214] corn and fruits of the earth." It is perhaps in this sense that we ought to understand the word here. Naamah means "the amenity of the country." But this was also a Deity of the Tsabaists. Buxtorf, in his Chaldaic Lexicon, states her to have been the same with Cybele, or Rhea, the Mater Deorum. Makkedah has been already explained. Libnah is the rising Moon, Ether means abundance, fertility, &c. Ashan is a Chaldaic word signifying fruit. Jiphtah; this is the word פתח, which we have had before with a jod appellative, and it apparently signifies "the universal principle of fire, or heat," of which Phtha was the symbol. Ashnah signifies mutation; and Nezib, on the contrary, "what is stationary."

Of the remaining words in this chapter, which serve as proper names, I have already explained all to which I can affix any meaning.

My reader ought not to forget, that Judah, or the Sun in Leo, was the leader in the camp. This was according to the Egyptian Calendar. In the above account we are to consider, not only the decans in the sign of Leo, but its paranatellons, and likewise the course of the Sun through the Zodiac, as commencing at the Summer solstice. With very little trouble, the reader will find, by the help of the celestial globe, how well, as far as we can trace them, the symbols here given answer to the movements of the celestial bodies, to the revolutions of the seasons, and to the agricultural pursuits connected with them.


We are now to look at the allotments of Ephraim, whose emblem was the Bull, and of the half tribe of Manasseh that took the share of Levi, partly appertaining to Pieces, and partly to Aries.

C. 16.

The first name, which has not been already explained, is Luz. This means obliquity; and the equinoctial point being then in Aries, the obliquity of the ecliptic is the first thing which is properly noticed.

Archi, "the longitudes"—the degrees of longitude. The lot passeth along unto the boundaries of the degrees of longitude unto Ataroth. Now Ataroth, the Crowns, I conceive to be the stars of Atarah, the Crown, by which name Corona Borealis is still known to the Hebrews. When Taurus rises, the Crown sets. It is, therefore, true, that the degrees of longitude render it necessary, that the Crown and Taurus are always opposite, and that when the one rises in the east, the other sets in the west. Can any thing be clearer, than that this is an astronomical allotment? Let not my reader, then, be occasionally discouraged, because I cannot always so clearly explain the meaning of symbols, in use three or four thousand years ago, in a language, which has ceased to be a living one for more than half of that period, and in which only one book has been written.


Japhleti. Strike off the two servile jods, and you will get Palet, a title of the Moon of which I have already spoken.

V. 3.

Bith-Horon, "the nether, the lower station of Hor, or of the Sun in Taurus"

Gezer. "The segment of the circle."

V. 5.

Ataroth Adar. This seems to signify "the crowns of splendour." But I take Adar to have been a Deity of the Tsabaists. Ataroth can be nothing else than the constellation Corona Borealis; and if my reader will turn to Dupuis,84 he will scarcely fail to see the propriety of the name here given. In fact, the Arabians still call Virgo by the name of Adra, or Adara, as Hyde attests. The crown is the crown of the Virgin; and seems to have obtained this appellation from its rising immediately after Virgo.

V. 6.

המכמתת. Our translators make this word sound Michmethah. This is of little consequence; but when the lexicographers translate desiderium, I find myself obliged to seek for the root in כמה.

[217] Now I find this to he the same word with chimah, for the jod is surely no radical; and first instead of desiderium, I would translate "genial heat,"' and secondly, I would observe, that Chimn is the name given to the Pleiades in the Book of Job. I suspect then, that our word must bear some relation to those stars; but let my reader judge for himself.

Tadnath-Shiloh. The lexicographers seem puzzled with the word תאגת. It is clearly derived from אגה. Shiloh I must still consider as the star in Scorpius so often mentioned. I translate near to Shiloh, and as Taanath is translated prope in the Onomasticon, I am not quite without authority. Now it is true that Scorpius and Taurus are so placed, that when the latter descends to the Western horizon, the former rises in the East. Thus the boundary of Ephraim, whose emblem was Taurus, went Eastward to the neighbourhood of Shiloh.

"And passed by it on the east to Janohah!"

Janohah. The serviles being thrown away, this word resolves itself into noch, quies. This was the name of the Patriarch, whom we improperly call Noah, instead of Noch, or Nuch. I agree with Court Gebelin, in thinking, that the words nox, nuit, night, &c., came originally from this Hebrew word. In fact, it will be found, that the Gentiles confounded Noah with Dionysus, Saturn, Janus, and other types of the Sun in the lower hemisphere. Noch indicates repose, connected with [218] night and darkness; and the lower hemisphere is feigned by the mythologists to be the region of silence and night,—of darkness and rest. By the word Janohah then, I understand the symbol of the lower hemisphere.

V. 7.

Ataroth, '" Corona Borealis.''

Naarath. ''Puella" I conclude that Virgo is here indicated.

The remaining names have been already explained.

C. 17.

The first proper name, which has not been explained, is Abiezer; but as it is compounded of Abi, "a father," a common title of the Sun, and ezer already explained, it can occasion no difficulty.

V. 2.

Helek, may be translated "an astronomical portion." This seems, at least, to be a common sense in which the word is understood in Chaldaic.

Asriel. This word seems capable of admitting several meanings—"the blessings of El (the Sun);—the steps, or progress, of El;—the groves of El" But consult Buxtorf.


Shechem signifies the dawn.

Hepher. Rumelinus makes this name signify opprobrium; but who would take such a name, or what parent would give it to his child? חפר in Chaldaic signifies to redden, and metaphorically to blush; hence, it would seem, the word came to import shame, &c. I understand the word before us to allude to the redness of the evening sky, opposed to shechem, "the dawn."

Shemida. I cannot conceive on what principle this name is translated agnovit Deus in the Onomasticon. It means literally the name of Science, I admit, that this seems a very strange name; but it had a Cabbalistical meaning, which I am unable to explain.85 Manaaseh had allotted to half his tribe a portion of the Amorite, that is, of Aries; and as the astronomers by their science had been enabled to reform the year, and to fix its opening at the true time of the vernal equinox, which had passed from Taurus to Aries, there may be some allusion to this in the name before us.

V. 3.

Zelophehad—literally the shadow of fear. I imagine some allusion is made to the night. This Zelophehad has several daughters, all of whom we shall find to have been symbols of the Moon, or of her wanderings.


Mahlah. This was one of the four names, given to the four mothers of the devils by the Jews.86 It comes from rhv], and signifies disease. This name is associated with that of Lilith, Ilythia, the same with the Jimo Lucina of the Latins.87 There can be no doubt, therefore, that Mahlah, or Malhat, as the Rabbins write it, was a lunar symbol, but of bad omen.

Noah. I translate this word motus with Rumelinus. But there were "Gods of the motion."88 In fact, the sistrum in the rites of Cybele and Isis was called Menana, evidently from this word Nah, or Noah, But I observe that the three words Nah, Hoglah, Milchah, which are divided as three proper names in the translations, seem connected with each other in the original, the particle vau not being employed to separate them. It would appear, however, that the first word nah means the motion of the sistrum, which we know was a symbol of the Goddess of the Night. My reader cannot have any need of explaining to him the form of the sistrum, or the nature of the rites practised in honour of the Moon by the Priests of Isis, sistrataque turba.

The next word Hoglah, has direct allusion to those rites. הגלה is composed, as Mr. Hutchinson observes, of [Hebrew]. Now this is literally a [221] description of the circular dance of the worshippers of the Moon when they celebrated her orgies with sistrium, drums, cymbals, &c. It signifies "tripping the circle, or the circular dance."

מלכה, the Queen. That Milcah, "the Queen," was a title of the Moon, must be known to every one who has read the Bible. It is evident, then, that the three words before us signify "the motion of the circular dance of Milcah," under which name the Moon was adored by the Tsabaists. The allusion in the text, to her erratic course, is as clear as it was in the practice of the mysteries, which were celebrated in her honour.

Tirzah. After the mention of Malhah and Milcah, two lunar titles, or symbols, we can scarcely suppose that Tirzah was a real personage. This name indicates desire, or concupiscence; and was probably a name given to the idol of the Moon. Solomon says to his beloved,89 "thou art beautiful as Tirzah;" and shortly after he adds, "thou art fair as the Moon." We have seen, that the name of Jenisalem served for a solar t}'pe, and Ttrzah, I believe to have been a lunar sjTnbol. For a list of names given to the Moon, as Venus, Juno, Ac, consult Apuleius.90

V. 4.

Eleazar. This word is compounded of El, "the Sun," and עזר, which last word seems to signify the [222] same thing with עזרה, "the court of the temple." Now the temple (I must still repeat it) was a type of the universe.

V. 8.

Tappuah—already explained.

V. 9.

Kanah. I believe I have neglected to explain this word, where it occurs before. It means a reed, a cane, a measuring rod. In the ancient Zodiacs, the sign of Libra was represented by a man holding a measuring rod.91 Libra, the emblem of Asher, is the opposite sign to Aries, a part of which was portioned unto the half tribe of Manasseh. But mention is here made of the river Kanah. The nahal, translated sometimes "a river," sometimes "a valley," as caprice directs, is the ancient name of the Nile; and the celestial rive, or constellation, which we call Eridanus, is termed nahal in the astronomical tables of the Egyptians, who, lest there should be a mistake, term it Nahal Mizraim. Now Nahal, the Eridanus, is sufficiently near to Taurus and Aries; and it is called the river of the measuring rod, for a reason which appears obvious. The measuring rod was placed in the hand of Serapis Niloticus92 and this symbol was properly referred to [223] the balance, because it was when the Sun was in this sign, that the river began to decrease. Consequently, it was when the balance came to the Meridian at midnight in the Spring, that the river commenced its annual augmentation. This seems to be the reason, why it is called nahal kanah, "the river of the measuring rod."

V. 10.

Issachar and Asher. Their emblems were Cancer and Libra.

V. 11.

Bith-shean and her towns. Shean is the same with Shan, already explained. The lexicographers, however, will have it to be different, and translate, "the house of tranquillity."

Ibleam is derived from בלע, already explained.

Dor, already explained.

Taanach, already explained.

Megiddo, already explained. The remaining proper names in this chapter have been likewise explained.

C. 18.

Shiloh—a star in Scorpius.

V. 11.

Benjamin. His emblem was the Twins.


The proper names have all been explained down to verse 21.

Keziz. This is the same in signification with קצה, by which the Chaldeans understood either tropic. I rather suppose, that of Cancer is here meant.

V. 22.

Bith-Arabah—already explained.

Zemaraim. "The highest branches of a tree."

V. 23.

Avim, This word seems to signify curves, obliquities, &c. I observe that in Arabic [Arabic] is the name of a station of the Moon in Virgo.

Parah, "a heifer." This was possibly an emblem of Isis, or the Moon.

Ophrah. Rumelin pretends that this signifies dust. This would be a strange name to give to a city. In Micah 1.10, we find the following words—"in the house of Aphrah (or Ophrah) roll thyself in the dust." It is clear then, that there was an idol named Ophrah; but who was this dusty Divinity? I confess myself unable to solve the question; but I am inclined to think that the worship of this Deity was connected with that of Thammuz.

V. 24.

Chephar-haamonai. "The village of [225] the Ammonites." The Egyptians worshipped the Sun in Aries under the name of Amnon. Is "Capar" (for so it may be expressed in Roman letters,) connected with the Arabic Cabar, a title given to Venus or the Moon?

Ophni. I cannot trace this word to the Hebrew, unless, by a transposition of the letters, we bring it from עגף, a branch. Is any allusion made to the branch of the palm-tree in the sign of Virgo?93

Gaba, the concave—already explained,

V. 25.

Gibeon is the same word with an intensitive.

Ramah. The high place—the sky.

Beeroth, literally the Wells. This word has occurred several times; but I had not remarked before, that the Arabians call certain stars in Eridanus, the Wells.94

V. 26.

Mizpeh, already explained.

Chephirah—"a lion."

Mozah, I know not the meaning.

V. 27.

Rekem—signifies embroidery in Hebrew. This could hardly have been the name of a place. I cannot explain it.


IrpeeL Rumelin translates this name remittat Deus. This is an odd name for a place. I would rather translate remittal Sol, not only because El, when found in heathen names, generally signifies the Sun, but because I think an astronomical allusion suits with the rest.

Taralah. Rumelin makes this word signify maledictio dirissima. But who would call a city by such a name? I imagine, that this is a corruption from the Chaldaic [Hebrew]—Taurus Dei. or Taurus Solis.

V. 28.

Zelah. This word signifies a rib, or it signifies limping. Either of these would be a singular appellation of a city. But the Sun was represented under the form of a limping boy by the Egyptians. This singular symbol was named by them er2wbrat.95

Eleph signifies dux, also bos, also dux armenti. The Bull in ancient times had been the leader of the zodiacal animals. His place was afterwards occupied by Aries, called by the Latins dux gregis.

C. 19.

The lot of Simeon was part of Pisces. We must always recollect the constellations, which rise or set [227] while the Sun is in any of the signs, in order to follow the author. In describing the lot of Judah, the annual circuit of the Sun seemed to be pointed out. In the other lots, the description is chiefly confined to the paranatellons of the sign, which is the emblem of the tribe. I shall pass over the names already explained.

V. 4.

Bethul, for Bethulah, the name which the Hebrews gave to the sign of Virgo. When the Sun is in Pisces, the sign Bethulah comes to the meridian at midnight.

V. 5.

Bith-Marcahoth—"the house or temple of the Chariots, or Charioteers." It seems that the constellation Auriga is still called Marcab, "the Charioteer," by the Arabians.

Hazar Susah, "the hall of the cavalry:" apparently the constellations Pegasus and Equiculus are indicated.

Bith-Lebaoth. "The house of the Lions." Simeon had a share of the portion of Judah. In fact, Leo passes the meridian about twelve at night, when the Sun enters Pisces.

V. 10.

We are now to consider the lot of Zebulon, [228] whose emblem was the ship Argo, and whose sign was Capricorn.

Sarid, In Hebrew signifies superstes. But I am inclined to think, that it may have meant a sardonyx here. The Sardonyx was one of the twelve stones in the breastplate of the priests; and these twelve stones represented, according to Clemens Alexandrinus, the twelve signs of the Zodiac.96 Kircher has shown that the Sardonyx was the precious stone on which was engraved the name of Rueben, whose emblem was Aquarius.97 The possession of Zebulon, (Capricorn) was therefore contiguous to that of Rueben, {Aquarius) denoted by Sarid, a sardonyx.

V. 11.

The sea; employed as a symbol; this word has been already explained.

Maralah. Rumelin translates this name ques tremere facit. This seems to be a strange name to give a place.

Daboysheth, "the lump on a camel's back." Onom,

Jokneam. Rumelin translates, comparabitur populus, vel nidulans foetus est populu. I think it better to avow, that I am ignorant of the meaning.


V. 12.

Some of the preceding words I have been unable to explain, and have, therefore, resigned them to the lexicographers, who have been pleased to think, that there were really cities called—She who makes tremble,—The lump on a camel's back,—Nidulans factum est populus, &c. The name of Chislothtahor reveals us so clearly to astronomy, that I have no doubt, that the former names related to it, though we are now ignorant of their signification. Chisloth-Tabor is clearly an exotic name; and I cannot question, that [Hebrew] has the same sense with [Hebrew]. The allusion must then be to the month Chisleu, and to the stars of Orion. But Tabor is a proper name, to which I can affix no sense. Could it have been originally written הגבר? Cerrtainly [Hebrew] is a name by which we should immediately recognise the constellation of Orion. I observe that the LXX omit Tabor.

Daberath. Dabar, or Dobar, was an ancient oriental name for the Planet Mercury.98 In fact Debar is the Arabic for "Wednesday," dies Mercurii. But I rather imagine that Daberath, or Debarath, must have been an ancient name for the Hyades, of which the brilliant is called Al-Debaran.

Japhia, "splendour"—already explained.

V. 13.

Gittah, or Gath-hepher has been explained.


Ittah-Kazin in Chaldaic signifies "the curve of the tropics."

Remmon-Methoar. Remmon signifies the high place, or, as I understand it, the starry heavens. Remmon-methoar is translated by Rumelin civitas circido definita, I, therefore, translate "the high place, or the heavens, encompassed by a circle." The Zodiac was probably meant.

To Neah. I rather think it should be of Neah. This word implies "motion." Remnon-methoar-neah, seems to mean "the moving sphere of the heavens."

V. 14.

Hanathon, "the camp"—probably the camp of the celestial army, or hosts of heaven.

Jiphtah-El—already explained, "the fire of the Sun."

V. 15.

Katath. Rumelin makes this word signify parva, humilis, &c. but he is certainly mistaken, since קטת cannot come from קטן. I imagine this word has a similar signification in Chaldaic, and with [Arabic] in Arabic; and by which word the season of the year, from the rising of the Pleiades to the rising of Canopus, was denoted.99


Nahallal. Rumelinus translates ductus, and brings the name from גהל. I pretend, that the second ל is radical, and that the ג is servile and appellative. Now I observe that the Arabians call the Moon [Arabic], and the ancient Hebrews denominated the Morning star Hilel, The root then being הלל, I am led to think, that הלל has the same meaning with הילל. In the first, the prefixed ג is appellative, and in the second the inserted י is merely formative. I translate nahalal, "Lucifer, the morning star."

Shimron has been already explained.

Idalcih, Rumelin makes this word signify a place of execration. But why should men be supposed to give such names to their places of abode; and surely the name does not authorise this translation. As the word is written I can give no meaning to it; but the readers of Bochart will allow me to say, that in the cognate dialects the jod and aleph often changed places. Indeed this happens very frequently in the Hebrew itself. Now I find that אדאלה comes very near to the Syrian [Arabic] Adal, or Adala, which is the name of the Wain, or Great Bear.

Bith-lehem, already explained.

We now come to the lot of Issachar, whose emblem was Cancer, or Hermanubis.

V. 18.

Shunem, or Sanem. This seems to have been a solar title. It is strange to find the lexico- [232] graphers perverting the meaning of words, which either are not Hebrew, or can only now be found among the proper names. Sunem is probably the same in sense with San, Son, Sun, Zan, Zoan, &c., and then comes a lexicographer, who tells us, that Sunem was the name of a city, signifying pinguedo. Chesulloth—"Constellation of Orion," already explained.

V. 19.

Haphraim—from הפר, already explained.

Shihon. Why is the aleph aspirated? This word is composed of אי, a gift, and און, a solar titles of which I have frequently spoken. It would then signify Munus Solis; but it is very probable, that the word was originally of the same class with San, Son, &c. mentioned above. Rumelin makes Shihon signify vastatio. This would be a strange name to give to a city.

Anaharath. The lexicographers make this word signify groaning, or snoring. The latter is in fact the sense, if the word come from גחר, according to their derivation. But who ever heard of a city named snoring? The meaning of Anaharath seems to me extremely obvious. It is composed of אן, the solar title, and הרת, from arsit.

V. 20.

Rabbith, "Magna, multa" Onom. But I rather imagine, that the word implies augmentation here. I translate increment; and I believe the name [233] was formed in allusion to the season of the year, when the Nile augments. This takes place when the Sun is in Cancer, the emblem of Issachar.

Kishion, Rumelin translates durities. Of course he derives the word from קשה, I cannot help suspecting, that there is some error of orthography here. In all events I would rather refer the word to קשה, a kind of vessel in the form of a patera, which seems to have been employed as a measure for liquids. Whether, or not, the word before us, which I understand to signify a great measuring vessel, could indicate the Nilometer, I must leave others to determine. I find the following passage in Suidas at the word Sarapis. [Greek], "Some say that he (Sarapis) is Jupiter, others the Nile, on account of the modius on his head, and the cubit, or measure of the water." But I am apt to suspect, that Serapis was also represented with a measuring vessel, or patera, similar to that which I take to be meant by Kishion. Certainly in the procession of Egyptian priests, one is thus described by Clemens—"[Greek]." Then the [Greek] follows the abovementioned, holding the cubit of justice, and the cup of libation."100 Apuleius describes a priest in the pomp, who carried indicium cequitatis in one hand, and a golden vase in the other, whence he poured [234] forth libations. Abenephius, quoted by Kircher, says that the Egyptians adored the idol of Canobus under the form of a vase; and Canobus was a type of the Nile.

It seems extremely probable, that קשיון is here written for יק. This was actually the name of a river, and may have been also one of the many appellations given to the Nile.


Abez may signify either increment, or the reverse. I cannot help thinking, that all these names allude to the state of the Nile, when the Sun was in Cancer, the emblem of Issachar.

V. 21.

Remeth, "altitude." Onom. Does this allude to the Nile's coming to its height?

En-gannim. "The fountain of Gardens."

En-haddah. "The fountain of joy." Onom.

Bith-Pazzez. I know not the meaning. Rumelin translates domus dispergentis; but this does not appear authorised.

V. 22.

Tabor, already explained.

Shahazimah, Leontopolis. Onom. This was the boundary of Issachar, and in fact Leo is contiguous with Cancer.

Bith-Shemesh. "The house of the Sun." Leo is the domicile of Sol.


V. 24.

The next lot is that of Asher, whose emblem was Libra.

V. 25.

Halkath. See Helek, already explained.

Hali. Rnmelin translates decus. But this ornament was a necklace. Now it seems strange to call a town, a necklace. There must be a meaning which is now lost. R S. Iarchi says that הלי hali is originally an Arabic word. This of course is [Arabic], and I think it may have anciently signified some kind of fruit—perhaps dates.101 The season of the year, and the labours incident to it, namely the gathering of fruits, may be indicated by the names before us.

Beten, has two significations—a belly, and a nut. We have seen that the belly of Aries received this name; but I rather think here, that the nut is indicated. In fact nuts are generally gathered, when the Sun is in Libra, as well as other fruits.

«|tt^3», Achshaph. In Hebrew this word signifies a necromancer, or an astrologer; but in Chaldaic it also signifies a prune.

V. 25.

Alamelech. This is so evidently a solar title, that it is not requisite to say more of it.

Amad and Misheal are two names about which I [236] might say much; but as their meaning is not obvious, I pass them over, only observing, that Rumelin does not, as far as I can find, explain the first, and that his etymology of the latter is to me unintelligible. He explains Carmel as a country fit for sowing and planting; but El is plainly a contraction for [Hebrew], "the vine of El, or of the Sun." Shihor-LibnathLibnath is only another feminine form of Libnah, The name must, therefore, mean the dark part of the Moon, or perhaps the crepusculum, which precedes her rising.

V. 27.

Bith-Emek is the first proper name in this verse, which has not been explained. It is evident that the constellations seen, while the Sun is in Libra, are now pointed out. Emek is generally rendered a valley; but the house of the valley seems to indicate the lower hemisphere.

Neiel. Rumelin translates germinare faciet Deus. I must always repeat, that El in heathen names signifies the Sun, I understand Neiel to signify the germinating Sun.

Cabul. Buxtorf translates this compes; and R. Solomon says that the country was so called because the soil was argillaceous, and people's feet are apt to stick in clay. This is absolute trifling. Rumelin makes Cabul signify sicut id quod evanuit tanquam nihil, A most singular name is this; but the explanation is not authorised by the word, Cabul must mean "a shackle, or ligament of some [237] sort." Michaelis says the region was so called, because it was to have been ceded to Hiram in order to discharge the debt due to him by Solomon. But it was not ceded to him. Michaelis gets rid of this difficulty by saying, that it was named Cabul sarcastically by Hiram. I cannot believe that the Jews would consent to call a district of their country by a nickname given to it by a stranger, I think we must find a better reason for the name than has yet been assigned. I have shown that the Provinces and Cities of Egypt were divided and named with reference to astronomy, and I have been endeavouring to prove that the same thing happened with respect to Judea. Now it has been remarked a little above, that the constellations (seen while the sun is in Libra, the emblem of Asher, whose lot we are now considering), appear to be indicated. When the Sun enters Libra, Pisces declines from the Meridian at midnight. In Pisces is the link or ligament, called a [Greek] by the Greeks, and still represented in our celestial globes, I think that Cabul expresses this part of the constellation, after which the country was named.

The remaining names have been explained already down to V. 32. Among them we find, Hebron, "conjunction;"—Rehob, "space, or latitude;"—Hammon, the sign of Aries:—Zidon, the great hunter, and possibly the hunter Orion;—Achib, the name of a star, for which consult Castelli.

The next lot was that of Naphthali, whose emblem was Virgo.


V. 33.

Heleph has been already noticed, but I ought to have remarked, that it seems to have been an astronomical term among the Chaldeans. They had a kind of clock, which was called [Hebrew] "the mutation, or transition of the series, or order"—I suppose, the order of time.

Allon—"a tree, an oak tree." It will be remembered, that Avenar placed a tree among the emblems of the sign of Virgo.

Zaanannim. The word Zan is originally Egyptian, and the same with Soan, or Zoan, a solar title.102

Adami, already explained. But Adami Nekeb seem to signify "the red ones of the hollow or concave place." I must leave my reader to find out the sense, as it does not appear quite obvious to me.

Jahneel—already explained.

Lakum—This word, brought by Rumelin from מקל, seems to express exsiccation.

Hukkok. See what I have said concerning Cepheus in another dissertation.

Iron is the next name which occurs, and which has not been explained. This name is probably another form for יראה, "an idol of the Tsabaists."^

Migdal-El-Horem. I understand this to signify "the tower, or station of the Sun of great heat— or [239] the station of the burning Sun." Perhaps the station of Hor in Taurus was meant.

Bith-aneth. The lexicographers translate the house of affliction. But Aneth appears to have been a Deity of the Tsabaists. I suspect it to have been a lunar title.

Bith-Shemesh—"the house of the Sun."

The names in the lot of Dan have been for the most part already explained.

Ir-Shemesh. "The city of the Sun.''

Shaalhin—"The dwelling of the foxes." This may easily be a false orthography, and the ain may have been written for an aleph. The word would then signify the lower dwelling, the inferior abode—in short, it would answer to Hades, which in the astronomical fables denoted the lower hemisphere. Perhaps allusion may be made to the stars in Scorpius, called [Arabic] by the Arabians. The open sound of the ain may have often misled the ear, in writing proper names, and it may have been here inserted for a vau, or for a jod. But I think the first explanation the more probable of the two.

Jethlah. Rumelin translates this name—he shall suspend. A strange sense for a proper name. I observe that תלי is the Chaldaic name for Serpens Ophiuchi, the constellation which is contiguous with Scorpius.

Leshem. The name of certain stars in Scorpius.103


I shall now close my commentary on the Book of Joshua. I have said enough either to prove or to disprove my theory concerning it; and I must leave the decision to the judgment of my reader.



c. 1.

Having extended the last Dissertation to so great a length, I shall endeavour to be very concise in this; and shall only notice some parts of the Book of Judges, which seem to me to bear an immediate and distinct reference to astronomy. For the proper names explained in the preceding Dissertation, my reader will of course consult it.

V. 5.

Adoni-Bezek. The solar title Adoni, or Adonis, is known as such to every schoolboy. Bezek may signify either lightning, or a lamb. The Lord of lightning, or the Lord of the Lamb, or Ram, (by both of which names the sign of Aries was known,) evidently indicates the Sun, the principal Deity of the Tsabaists.

V. 7.

Threescore and ten Kings. The numbers 70 and 72 recur very frequently in the sacred text. It is to [242] be observed, that the Orientalists divided each Zodiacal sign into three parts. The twelve signs of the zodiac were then divided in thirty-six parts. These parts were again variously subdivided. Considered with respect to the circle, they were divided by 10, and being multiplied by 12, amounted to 360, the number of days contained in the civil year. Considered with respect to the twelve signs of the Zodiac, they were divided and multiplied by 12. For want of better words, I shall call these 36 divisions of the Zodiac either Decans, or Dodecans. The three decans of each sign contained 10 degrees each, amounting to 30 for each sign, and 30 x 12 = 360. The three dodecans contained 12 degrees each, amounting to 36 for each sign, and 36 x 12 = 432. The excess of 432 above 360 is 72. But the 36 decans and dodecans into which the whole Zodiac was divided, being multiplied by 2, amount to 72; and this number seems consequently to have become a favourite one among the Cabalists. Now I observe that the Cabalists and calculators reckoned all periods as circles. They, therefore, considered the first and last terms of a period as unit. Thus they reckoned the first dodecan or decan of Aries, as the same with the last dodecan, or decan of Pisces; and consequently instead of counting 36 decans and dodecans in the Zodiacal circle, they reduced them to 35. Again, they counted the first term, or degree, of the first dodecan in the sign, as one and the same with the last term, or degree, of the last dodecan. Thus the number of degrees in the three dodecans amounted, [243] according to this mode of calculation, to 35, instead of 36. Hence it happens, that when the degrees of the three dodecans are multiplied by 2, we find sometimes, 35 x 2 = 70, and sometimes 36 x 2 = 72. Perhaps the hieroglyphic, by which the revolutions of time were denoted, will help to explain how the first term and the last were considered as unit.

Here we see the tail of the serpent in his mouth; and the first and last terms of the circle united,

I have little doubt that this explanation of the numbers 70, and 72, so often recurring, will elucidate many passages in the sacred text.

V. 34. 35. 36.

The Amorites. The word amor, agnus, was the Chaldaic appellation of the sign of Aries. But Scorpins, the opposite sign to Taurus, is preceded in its descent by the rising of Arks on [244] the opposite side of the hemisphere. Scorpius was the emblem of Dan.

The Amorites would dwell in Mount Heres in Aijalon. Heres signifies "the Sun." Aijalon "the great Ram." The allusion to the sign of Aries can hardly be questioned. Akrabbim, "the Scorpions" the stars of Scorpius.

C. 4.

Sisera. Hiller translates this name "the exaltation of the Moon."

Harosheth of the Gentiles. But in the original the words are [Hebrew], Harosheth of the Goim. The ancient Persian and Chaldaic word for a bull, was Go, or Gao, and by this name they indicated the sign of Taurus. Harosheth will bear many meanings, but I find, that the lexicographers translate the words before us, "the woods of the Gentiles." The dwelling of Sisera was then a pretty spacious one. But the stars of heaven were continually indicated by trees, groves, woods, &c. I understand, therefore, by these woods of the Groim, the stars of Taurus, where was the dwelling of Sisera, the exaltation of the Moon. The 20 years may be reckoned 20 days.

Deborah. I take this prophetess to have belonged to those stars in Taurus, which we call the Hyades. See what I have already said concerning Al-debaran. But Rumelin makes Deborah signify a bee, and the meaning is really so uncertain that I shall not pretend to fix it. If, however, we [246] abide by the lexicographers, I would rather translate, order, march, series; the march of the celestial hosts being typified.

Lapidoth, "lights, torches, &c." Whether the stars were indicated by this word, I know not.

Barak, "the lightning."

Abinoam, "the father of amenity." Perhaps it is meant that the father of the pleasant season is the father of the lightning, as Abinoam was the father of Barak,

The signs of Virgo, Capricorn, and Taurus, are indicated by Naphthali, Zebidon, and Ephraim. I have already confessed my embarrassment with respect to the word Tabor. I think the teth and the tau may have been exchanged. Tabor may then signify "the middle or central part."

The river Kishon Sisera. My reader will observe what I have before said of Kishon; and the word here translated a river is גהל—Certainly the original name of the Nile, which answered in astronomy to the river called by us the Eridanus, and which in the Egyptian planispheres reached from En-Regel, the fountain of the foot of Orion, to the urn of Aquarius, which was its source.

Jahin and Hazor are two words that relate to parts of the temple, the type of the Universe.

"Heher the Kenite, the child of Hobab," signifies conjunction, the balancer, the son of the beloved,

Jael signifies a kind of goat. I know not whether the allusion be to Capricorn. It seems to [246] me that the whole of this story relates to a reform in the Calendar, concerning the Moon's revolutions. In fact, the words of Deborah confirm this conjecture. The 20th verse of C. 5th, should be translated, "the stars fought from heaven, from their own exaltations they fought against Sisera—i.e.—the exaltation of the Moon."

C. 6.

The next allegory relates to the defeat of the Midianites by Gideon. I am of opinion, that this story refers to the harvest season, which by the use of the rural year had been miscalculated.

Midian, "the measure," seems to imply the measurement of the heavens, and consequently of time. The Midianites were probably those, who having made false measurements, or false calculations, concerning the rising of those constellations when the people were to sow and to reap, had occasioned a dearth in the country.

Amalekites. I have explained this word in a former Dissertation. It signifies "the people of the beetles, or locusts, or caterpillars." These animals so destructive of the harvests are brought in innumerable quantities by the South-East winds, which blow so frequently in Syria during the Summer and Autumn.

Ophrah signifies dust. It has been already mentioned; but it seems here to imply the clouds of dust brought by the same winds.

Joash signifies Despair.


Abi-Ezer seems here to signify the father of help—Despair begot the remedy.

Gideon signifies cutting down. The cutting down of the corn seems to be implied. But he who did this was compelled to go to war with the Measurers, or false calculators, and to destroy Baal, and the Grove, the emblems which these idolatrous and ignorant astrologers had set up as types of the Sun and the hosts of heaven.

Phurah may signify either a fruitful branch, or a heifer.

Bith-Shittah. "The house, or mansion of declination"—an astronomical term already explained.

Zererath. "The narrow place, or angle;" probably that formed by the ecliptic and equator at the autumnal equinox.

Abel-Meholah. The lamentation of Meholah, otherwise called Mahlah, "an idol of the Moon." This Mahlah was feigned to have been one of the four mothers that brought forth evil spirits.

Tabbath. "The month of December, or the tenth Moon."

Oreb, " The evening."

Zeeb, This word signifies a wolf—but I have shown that it was a symbol of Mercury, or Anubis, and that it particularly indicated the crepuscular light.104


C. 8.

There seemed to be two objects yet to remain for Gideon, or the reformer who introduced the reaping of the harvests at the proper season. The first was to fix the sacrifices at the proper periods of the year; and the second might have been to determine the true time by the help of the gnomon, or dial. It would appear that the Midianites, or Measurers had miscalculated the times for offering up sacrifices, and had also failed to place the dials in their just positions with respect to the Cardinal points.

V. 5.

Succoth. This name appears to come in this place from the Chaldaic word סכה, to speculate, to observe. The reformer applied for assistance to the men of speculations, or in other words to those employed in the observatories; but his request was refused by them.

Zebah. This word signifies a sacrifice. The reformer probably meant, either to regulate the seasons when sacrifices should be offered; or, perhaps, to abolish the celebration of sacrifices offered to idols.

Zalmunah. I find in the Onomasticon that this word signifies the disturbed shadow. I conclude, then, that allusion is made to the gnomons not being properly placed. It was of course necessary for the reformer of the Calendar to destroy this disturbed shadow.


Penitel. This word seems to me to signify the aspects of El, or of the Sun. The two roots are clearly פגה and אל.

Karkor, is translated destructissimus, by Rumelin, &c. I rather imagine that it means the cold, or Winter season,—from friguis.

Nobach. ''Latrator."105 The latrator Anubis was the Egyptian symbol for the planet Mercury.

Joghehah, is translated exultabitur in the Onomasticon. It is certainly from גבה; but as a proper name it probably implied some of the celestial host.

Ephod. This made part of the dress of the Priests.106 Gideon had 70 legitimate sons. This type has been already explained. The first and last terms in the three dodecans, taken as unit, amount to 35; and 35 x 2 = 70. But the first and last terms are taken as unit to express the continuity of the circular rotation; and the tail of the serpent is placed in his mouth to show, that time is still resolved into time. When, therefore, the revolution of time divided by 36 is represented, the first and last terms are united, and the cycle, or circle is reckoned quasi 35. But upon the same principle, if the cycle or circle be 72 and the first and last terms be united, in order to express the circular continuity, the number will be 71. We find that Gideon had 70 legitimate sons, and one bastard.


Abi-Melech—This is a solar title composed, of Abi, "a father," and Melech, "a king."

C. 9. 10. 11. 12.

My reader will easily follow the allegories contained in these chapters, even by the help of a common lexicon. I proceed to consider the history of Samson.

C. 13.

Zorah—This word, denoting the sign of Scorpius, the emblem of Dan, has been already explained.

Manoah, is derived from גוה, which I have already shown to be the ancient word for night

Nazarite. Some of the lexicographers translate separated, but I understand the Nazarite to be one who is crowned.

Samson. "The Sun."—Now if my readers be not aware that Hercules was a type of the Sun, they may turn to the works of Gebelin and Dupuis; and in those of the former they will find a curious parallel drawn between Samson and Hercules. Some things, however, have escaped the notice of Gebelin, which I shall briefly mention.

Eshtaol, ''Hades, or the lower hemisphere''—already explained.

C. 14.

Timnath. I have already observed that this is an astronomical term in Chaldaic—it seems to [251] signify an octant; but iii its original sense it was probably used to denote a portion or segment of the circle. That the term was employed astronomically, even in Hebrew, appears from the words [Hebrew] which signify the Segment, or portion of the Sun.

The Philistines,—"the revolvers, the wanderers, &c." Were these the planets?

Behold a young lion roared against him. The defeat of this lion by Samson reminds us of the combat of Hercules with the Nemean lion. In both examples it is the first of the labours. The Summer solstice being in Leo will account for this similarity.

Thirty companions were given to Samson, or the Sun. These were clearly the days of the civil month.

Ashkelon, "Ignis torrefaciens." Onom.

C. 15.

The story of Samson and the foxes is curiously illustrated by Gebelin. I shall, therefore, refer my reader to him. But though a similar fable may have been told of Hercules, I am inclined to think, that the whole has originated in a mistake occasioned by the resemblance in sound of two words, one of which signifies a fox, and the other flame. See what I have already said on the subject.

Etam, "an eagle." Rumelin. Every schoolboy knows the eagle to be a solar symbol.


Lehi, "a jaw-bone." It will be remembered, that in the first decan of Leo, an ass's head was represented by the Orientalists.107

Ramath Lehi "The high place of the jaw-bone."

En-hakkore, "The fountain of the palm-tree-pulp." It signifies that pulpy substance of the palm-tree, which the Orientalists consider as a delicious nutriment. But how came Samson to give the name of En-hakkore to the place? I know not, unless it were, that the palm-tree is sacred to the Sun; and particularly in the sign of Leo.

C. 16.

Gaza. I have already observed, that Gaza signifies a goat, and was the type of the Sun in Capricorn. It will be remembered, that the Gates of the Sun were feigned by the ancient astronomers to be in Capricorn and in Cancer, from which sign the tropics are named. Samson carried away the gates from Gaza to Hebron, the city of conjunction. Now Court Gebelin tells us, that at Cadiz, where Hercules was anciently worshipped, there was a representation of him, with a gate on his shoulders. This fact helps not a little to identify Hercules with Samson.

Sorec, signifies a vine.

Delilah, I derive this name from דלל, to exhaust, attenuate, &c. The story of Samson and Delilah may remind us of Hercules and Omphale.


As I write for scholars, hints are sufficient; and, therefore, I leave them to fill up the canvas, where my sketches are unfinished.

Thus it will be remembered, that the yellow hair of Apollo was the symbol of the solar rays; and Samson with his shaven head may typify the Sun when "shorn of his beams."

Samson had seven locks, and these answer, in number at least, to the seven planets.

But it is time to recollect, that my business is rather to encourage others to examine and explain these allegories, than to attempt to elucidate the whole myself.



We have already seen, that about 4,300 years ago, the Sun, at the vernal equinox, passed from the sign of Taurus into that of Aries. It was apparently while the equinoctial Sun continued in Taurus, a period of above 2,000 years, that astronomy was first cultivated in the East, and that the Tsabaists established their idolatrous worship of the Sun, the Moon, and the Hosts of Heaven, But the Orientalists, in general, seem to have dated the commencement of the astronomical year, if I be allowed the expression, from the vernal equinox; and while the Bull was the symbol of the Sun in the first of the signs, it was considered as an object of the highest veneration. The monuments of all the ancient Oriental nations bear testimony to the respect, which was entertained for this symbol of the great God of the Tsabaists. Apis, Mnevis, the bull of Mithras, &c., were only so many types of the celestial Bull, or rather of the Sun in that sign. It was consequently supposed, that bulls, calves, and oxen, were [255] most acceptable victims, when sacrificed at the shrines of the Sun, known in different regions by the various names of Osiris, Mithras, Moloch, Adonis, and Iao.

At the remote period of which I am speaking, the solstices had place, when the Sun was in Leo and Aquarius, and the equinoxes, when the same luminary was in Taurus and Scorpius. As the year then commenced at the vernal equinox, and as Taurus was the first of the signs, the Tsabaists founded their idolatrous worship on this order of things. In progress of time, however, the retrograde motion of the fixed stars must have made it evident to astronomers, that the solstices and equinoxes had passed into other signs, and that, consequently, the veneration of the vulgar for certain symbols became misplaced. Thus the Sun at the vernal equinox passed from the sign of Taurus to that of Aries, which became in its turn the first of the zodiacal constellations. But though astronomers might perceive this, it was probably not quite so easy to make the ignorant and superstitious people comprehend, why the principal symbol of their principal God should be changed from a bull, or calf, to a ram, or lamb.

It is to this source, that I am inclined to attribute the adoration, which was peculiarly offered up to bulls and calves, as principal symbols of the Sun, long after Taurus had ceased to be the first of the signs. The astronomers of Thebes in Egypt seem to have been the first, who obtained from the multitude that veneration for sheep, which is so remarka- [256] bly noticed by Herodotus. In other regions, the Bull continued, through the lapse of ages, to maintain an unjust pre-eminence over the Ram, or Lamb, which had become the first of the signs. It is curious indeed, to observe, that the Bull is still so much venerated in India, 4,300 years after the celestial bull ceded his place in the heavens to the Bam, or Lamb; nor is it less extraordinary, that there have been, perhaps, more adorers of the Sun in Aries, since that constellation ceased to be the first of the signs, than there were before.

It is evident from the idolatrous worship offered by the Israelites to the golden calf, that they were not so well instructed in astronomy as the Thebans. Moses, who was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, must have known, that Taurus was no longer the leader of the celestial hosts; and in appointing the feast of the passover, he seems to have desired to amend both the religion and the astronomy of the Hebrews.

The word which we translate passover (Heb. פסה) properly signifies transit, and is sometimes taken for that which makes a transit. Hence the Paschal lamb was frequently called pesach, as making the transit. I pretend that the feast of the transit was instituted as a memorial of the transit of the equinoctial Sun from the sign of the Bull to that of the Ram, or Lamb.

Before I proceed further, however, it will be necessary to say something of the annual periods of the Egyptians.


It appears, that the Egyptians, besides their lunar year, of which I do not intend to take notice at present, had four different years. These 1 shall term the astronomical, the canicular, the civil, and the sacred.

The astronomical year of the Egyptians commenced with the vernal equinox. Aratus, having confounded it with the canicular year, has made Cancer the first of the signs, for which he has been reproved by Theon.

Wherefore, (says the latter, p. 69) has he taken the commencement from Cancer, when the Egyptians date the beginning from Aries?

The Rabbins acknowledge, that the Egyptians preceded the Hebrews in fixing the commencement of the year at the vernal equinox, when the Sun was in Aries. Incipiebant autem Egyptii, says R. A. Seba, numerare menses ab eo tempore, quo Sol ingressus est in initium sideris Arietis, &c.108

The Egyptians dated the canicular year from the rising of Sirius. The commencement of the year, says Porphyry, is not dated from Aquarius by the Egyptians, as it is by the Romcuis, but from Cancer; for Sothis, which the Greeks call the dog-star, is near to Cancer, and the first day of the month, [258] according to them, is fixed by the rising of Sothis, &c. Censorinus, speaking of this canicular year, says, Graece [Greek], Latini, "canicularem" vocamus, propterus quod initium illius sumit cilm prima die ejus inensis, quern vocaiit Egyptii Thoth, cantculus sidus oritur.109 This last expression of Censorinus does not appear quite clear to me. The month Thoth, as we shall presently see, answered nearly to our month of September.

The civil year of the Egyptians commenced with the month Thoth. Alpherganius, in speaking of the Persian and Egyptian months, thus expresses himself. At menses Egyptii hodie aliter procednnt intercalando quarto anno: qnare ecrum menses jam Persicis dissimiles, at cum Graecis atque Syriis congruunt. Prhnus apud eos dies est 29us Augusti. The 29th of August was, indeed, the day when the month Thoth commenced; but this establishment of the civil year, commencing with the month Thoth, is generally supposed not to have taken place until the time of Augustus Caesar. I am, however, inclined to think, that the Egyptians had from the most remote antiquity a fixed year commencing with this month. The calendar of the Egyptians appears to have been reformed in the time of Augustus; but it seems strange to affirm that the Egyptians had no fixed year before that period Joseph Scaliger severely reprehends Plutarch, for [259] speaking of certain months as fixed in the ancient times of the Egyptians. It is true, that the sacred year was a vague year, as we shall presently see; but it does not therefore follow, that the Egyptians had no year that was fixed. The puzzle seems to arise from this: The word Thoth, according to Jablonski, signifies the beginning. Hence it was applied to the beginning of the year, whether vague, or fixed; and thus the thoth might be any month of the solar year, as denoting the first month of the vague year; or it might be the first month of an established year.

The sacred year of the Egyptians was vague. Its thoth, or commencement, must have been originally at the rising of Sirius. It was composed of 365 days; and consequently a day was lost at the end of every fourth year. This day the Priests did not intercalate for the sacred year, which thus became vague; and hence they obtained one of their cycles. One thousand four hundred and sixty one years, consisting of 365 days each, are equal to 1460 solar years. This was called the Sothic period, which shows, that the sacred year originally commenced with the canicular.

Having thus briefly spoken of the Egyptian annual periods, I shall only add, that if I have named them wrongly, I trust it is of the less consequence, as I have pointed out their commencement. But I cannot agree with those authors, who make the canicular year a vague year. The sacred year, which [260] originally commenced with the rising of Sirius, was certainly vague; but it seems impossible to suppose, that the year, to which Porphyry alludes, was likewise vague. In fact, if this year had contained only 365 days, without intercalation, the rising of Sirius would, in the lapse of a few centuries, have been fixed nearer to the winter than to the summer solstice. Now when we consider how much importance was attached to the rising of Sirius by the Egyptians, we can hardly imagine that they looked for it at any other time, than what their annual experience proved to them to be the true time. I have no objection, however, to state the matter thus. Let us call the canicular rural year fixed, and the canicular sacred year vague; for I admit, that the vague year originally commenced with the rising of Sirius. But the Priests appear to have intercalated a day every fourth year for the former, and to have omitted it for the latter. That the canicular rural year could not be vague is evident, I think, from the statement of Hor-Apollo. From the retrograde motion of the fixed stars, the Egyptians were obliged to add a day every fourth year, upon the same plan as we do in our bissextile years. It would be soon obvious, that the rising of Sirius, without having recourse to this expedient, would be retarded a day every fourth year. At the beginning of the fifth canicular rural year, this day was accordingly introduced. The emblem of this astronomical process was represented by an acre divided into four parts:—but see Hor-Apollo (1. 5).


Now for the vague year, this quarter of a day was omitted; and, therefore, after the expiration of the fourth canicular sacred year, it would require 1460 years to make the canicular sacred and vague year commence again precisely with the canicular rural and fixed year. The Egyptian Kings, according to an ancient writer cited by Jablonski, were obliged to swear, that they would not allow any intercalation in the year of 365 days, by which a day fixed for a festival should be changed; and it is chiefly upon this authority, that I have marked the vague and sacred year of the Egyptians to have been the same. But it is time that I return to the Hebrews.

Before the departure of the Hebrews from Egypt, their civil year commenced with the month Tisri. The month Tisri is called [Hebrew], "the beginning of the year" in the Talmud; but the author of the Chaldaic Paraphrase110 observes of Tisiri, also called Ethanim, that it was the month which the ancients called the first, but which is now the seventh. It follows, then, that Tisri answered to the Egyptian month Thoth, which was the first month of the civil year of the Egyptians, and which nearly answered to September. I cannot help thinking, that the Israelites took the use of this year from the example of the Egyptians.

When the Hebrews left Egypt, their legislator gave them another year. It commenced with the month Nisan, also called Ahib. On the tenth day of this [262]  month the Paschal Lamb was separated; and on the fourteenth the feast of the transit was held.

Now if this ceremony had nothing to do with the astronomical ram, or lamb, we shall find some curious circumstances, for which I shall leave others to account.

We learn from the author of the Oriental Chronicle, that the day, when the Paschal festival commenced, was that in which the Sun entered into the sign of the ram, or the sign of the lamb, as it was called by the Persians and Syrians. Erat dies iste quo Sol ingressus est primum signitm Arietis, &c. R. Bechai, in commenting on the 12th chapter of Exodus, speaks to the following purpose. Scripsit Maimonides, in ratione hujus precepti, quod proptered quid sidus Aries in mense Nisan maximi valeret, et hoc sidus fructus germinare faceret, ided jussit Deus nunctare arietem, &c. Here is a pretty clear avowal on the part of Maimonides, the most learned of the Rabbins, that the Paschal lamb was a type of the astronomical lamb.

But the Rabbins tell us, that the lamb was slain, in order to wean the Israelites from the idolatrous worship which the Egyptians offered to the Sun under the form of a ram. There can be no question, that Ammon, the type of the Sun in Aries, was worshipped by the Egyptians. Herodotus says,111 that the statues of Jupiter Ammon had the head of a ram. We are told by Eusebius112 that the idol of [263] Ammon had a ram's head with the horns of a goat. Proclus (on the Timaeus of Plato) observes, that the Egyptians venerated the ram . in an extraordinary manner, inasmuch as they affixed a ram's head to Ammon. Now, say the Rabbins, our forefathers were ordered to slay a lamb, in order to mark their abomination of Ammon; because the lamb was held sacred by the Egyptians, who never killed a sheep, it being the type of their God.

There is an objection to be made to this statement. It is not exactly founded upon fact. Herodotus tells us, that in the temple of Mendes, and in the Mendesian nome, they preserved goats, and sacrificed sheep. Strabo (i. 17) says, that in his time the Egyptians nowhere sacrificed sheep but in the Nitriotic nome. It is not quite accurate, then, to say that the Egyptians never killed sheep, and that for that reason the Israelites were commanded to slay the Paschal lamb.

We have seen by the avowal of the Rabbins themselves, that the Paschal lamb was a type of the astronomical lamb. What, if we were to find, that the feast of the transit was copied from a festival instituted by the Egyptians?

R. A. Seba, whom I have already quoted, admits, that at the time when the feast of the transit was first established among the Israelites, the Egyptians already had begun to count their months from the entrance of the sun into Aries; and then he adds, [264] atque is inensis (Phamenoth) totusfestd solennitate celebrabatur, &c. In the Oriental Chronicle it is said, that the day, when the Sun entered into Aries was solennis ac celeherrimus apud Egyptios. But this Egyptian festival commenced on the very day, when the Paschal lamb was separated. Insuper die mensis decimo, says R A. Seba, ipso illo die quo Egyptii incipiebant celebrare coltum arietis, &c. placuit Deo ut sumerent agnum, &c.

But, continue the Rabbins, the Egyptians adored the ram, or lamb, at this festival, whereas the Hebrews slew the lamb. This, therefore, only proves the more, that the Paschal lamb was slain in order to wean the Israelites from the idolatry of the Egyptians. I must observe, that this reasoning does not seem to be founded upon fact. Herodotus tells us, that once a year, on a certain day, at the festival of Jupiter Ammon, the people of Thebes in Egypt slew a ram. But Jupiter Ammon was no other than the Sun in Aries. This annual festival then must have been that, which the Rabbins acknowledge to have been celebrated at the same time with the feast of the transit. The Sun came into Aries on the tenth of Nisan, which month answers to the Egyptian Phamenoth. At the annual festival of Ammon, or of the Sun in Aries, a ram was slain by the Thebans. At the annual feast of the Jews, when the Sun was in Aries, a male lamb was slain. How will the Rabbins prove, that their ancestors did not copy this custom from the Egyptians, whose festival on this occasion [265] they admit to have been instituted before their own?

But, say the Rabbins, there was nothing in the Egyptian festival, similar to the custom of the Israelites, in marking the doors, &c., with blood. My opinion is that there was something very like it. St. Epiphanius says, that about the vernal equinox, the Egyptians had been accustomed, from the most remote antiquity, to celebrate the festival of the ram, or lamb. At this festival, he adds, they used to mark everything about them with red. I have not a copy of Epiphanius before me; but I am pretty certain that I have read a passage in him to this purpose.

It may be remarked, that pesach, the transit is sometimes employed to signify the lamb. It consequently follows, that the lamb was understood as at least the type of that which made the transit. But this becomes very intelligible, if the lamb were the type of the Sun making his transit into the sign of Aries at the vernal equinox.

When, indeed, we find that this feast of the passover, or transit, was instituted at the time when the Jewish lawgiver altered the Calendar, and when he made the first month of the year that very month, in which the equinoctial Sun passed into Aries, it seems difficult to imagine that the Paschal lamb had nothing to do with the astronomical ram. But this opinion, which I submit to the judgment of my readers, becomes strongly confirmed by the customs [266] and practices of the Egyptians, from whom the Jews copied many of their ceremonies, and obtained the greater part of their knowledge.





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