Daniel, the Magi and the Luni-solar Calendar of Israel
An interesting aspect of the teachings of the Magi comes from their founder, Zoroaster whose writings in the Zend Avesta, uphold much of the depth of meaning we found in Numbers 24:17. The Magi may have also applied this prophecy to the return of the older Zoroaster. The ancient roots of the Zoroastrianism lie in the ancient Persian traditions, and share many common elements with Judaism and Christianity. The tenets of the Christian Faith were preserved by God and handed down to other faithful men via the oral traditions, even as the truths of the Biblical Patriarchs were. The historical record bears this out, relating to the important point of how the Babylonian zodiac of 12 signs each of 30 degrees was transmitted to ancient Greece. Many scholars are not certain, as to the process by which this occurred, thus its an engaging point of history that both the ancient Greeks and Babylonians came under the rule of the Persian empire initiated by Cyrus the Great in 539 BC. It was during the rule of Darius I "the Mede" that the Prophet Daniel presided over his Court Astronomers and Chaldeans. Drawing on the rich astronomical traditions of the Biblical Patriarchs not to mention, the famous astronomical expertise of the Persian Magi, Daniel's potent influence convinced Darius to adopt some salient principles of Biblical Astronomy in the period around 522 BC. Certain important aspects of Zoroastrianism agreed with the Biblical standard practiced by the Hebrews, carried on by Daniel. The Magi would certainly have been familiar with Daniel's prophecy concerning the 70 weeks judged on Jerusalem relating to the coming Messiah, [Dan. 9:2, 24-27]. Daniel's influence had the added effect of preserving the astronomical truths of the promised seed, contained in the form of the zodiacal narrative, which God put in the most capable hands of the time. To illustrate this point more robustly, let's look at the practice of the Intercalation of months in the Hebrew Lunar Calendar, an important part of this practice of the Israelites in preserving their astronomical heritage.
We know the Hebrew practice of Intercalation of months dates back at least to the time of Moses, who instituted the sacred observances of the Old Testament Law during Israel's wanderings in the wilderness in the mid-second millennium BC. This preceded Meton of Athens who is given credit for discovering the saros in 432 BC, by at least a thousand years. The roots of the word "saros," and its practices however are much older. The Calendar of Israel is governed by the 354-355 day lunar year with twelve months of 29 or 30 days. The named months of the Israelite year coincide with the Babylonian months, including Adar Sheni, the extra 13th month which was added to keep the solar year aligned with the seasons. The practice of Intercalation of months kept the holidays of Passover, Pentecost and Rosh Hashanah, just prior to the Feast of Tabernacles in the month of Tishri, in their proper seasons of early Spring, the beginning of summer and at summer's end. The "11-day gap between the solar & lunar years expands to a period of seven months over this 19-year lunar cycle. In the Calendar of Israel a total of seven years (3rd 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th and 19th) during this 19-year lunar cycle, would normally contain an extra month of Adar Sheni."1
With every 19 solar years plus two hours, the Sun and Moon return to meet each other at the same appointed time and place in the sky. The saros, however, consists of 19 eclipse years, which is only 18 solar years plus eleven days. An eclipse year thus consists of 346.62 solar days, which is equal to 11.738 lunations. When we divide the saros by 11.738, we get 1.618, (or phi),2 accurate to 4 digits! Since the Sun intersects a lunar Node two times every 346.62-day eclipse year, we find the cycle of the celestial rendezvous of the Sun and Moon also governed by the phi ratio. The Hebrew calendar also unifies these luni-solar cycles according to phi, in concert with Israel's sacred fifty-year cycle of Jubilees. This is evident because there are 618 lunations in any given 50-year Jubilee cycle. Thus, as the Hebrew calendar shows the perfect correlation of the sacred and secular celestial cycles, governing the rhythms of a myriad terrestrial and cosmic cycles, we find more evidence of the signature of God the Creator and His rulership of light reflected in the heavens, the Source behind all kingdoms of earthly life. This exhibits the perfect relation between the civil [lunar], and sacred [solar] years of the Calendar of Israel, in the larger context of precession. These related standards of the sacred and secular are also unified in the promised seed, Jesus Christ as the Priest--King of Israel, and light of the world presiding over all circadian rhythms and other aspects of the kingdoms of terrestrial life.
As we briefly mentioned earlier, the roots of the word for saros are much older than Meton's application of the term. In fact it goes back at least as far as ancient Sumeria, because the Sumerian name for the great lunar eclipse cycle was also called the saros. This word traces through to the basic Babylonian unit of measure, also called a "sar," showing ancient elements of the sacred celestial rule of measure. This period of lunation consisting of 18 years & 11, (10.96) days, was utilized by the Chadean priests to predict eclipses. Wallis Budge supported this notion when he stated; "the Babylonians were a nation of stargazers observing the appearances of the moon, eclipses, & planets etc." This was the culture that produced the Magi, and speaks volumes on not only their astronomical expertise, but also their focus while watching the heavens for the celestial signs revealing the birth of the promised seed. The Chaldeans also had a period of 3600 (60 x 60) years that they called a saros. Here again we see the Sexegesimal pattern behind the organization of the heavens, including the cycle of the Moon joining Saturn and Jupiter every 60 years in their celestial dance. Jupiter-Saturn Conjunctions exhibit the essence of this "base 60" numerical system as part of its function as a cornerstone of Biblical cosmology, providing the context of the Celestial Prelude marking the birth of Christ. Additionally, it gives us a window on the "celestial mechanism" that frames all Creation, the precession of the equinoxes. This will be fully explained in the Specific signs of the Celestial Prelude. Both of these planets frame the ancient solar system as its two outer-most naked-eye planets, while opening a window on precession. It also shows a unity of Saturn's 29.5-year orbit with the 29.5-day lunar cycle on a year-day basis. This is half the Sexegesimal order of the solar system, formatted in the orbits of these two gas giants, the other half being Jupiter's near 12-year cycle spending a year in each zodiacal sign, even as the Sun spends a month in each of the 12 signs. The solar half of the order is based on a division of 60, by twelve: (12 x 5), and the lunar half by 30 [30 x 2], both multiples of sixty. This is part of the numerical order of the solar system as it was patterned by the Creator according to the phi ratio.
The Babylonian "Sar" is doubtlessly related to the Hebrew word [*H8269] of the same spelling, meaning; "prince, captain, chief, ruler, leader, head." The word has retained this meaning even in modern usage, as in the Tsar of all the Russias. As a testimony to what may have been based on the first human language, "Aesar" is a word for "God" in both, Icelandic and Irish, "Osar" in Egypt like "Osiris" was the prince. The English word "sir" and the Roman "Ceasars" are also traceable to this root. It is used in Daniel 10:13 & 20, referring the archangel Michael who dispatched the fallen angel (Daimon) who opposed the messenger angel that God sent to answer Daniel's prayer. In Isaiah 9:6, one of the great prophecies of the promised seed, it is used of the Messiah as Sar-Shalom; the Prince of Peace, the one who brings peace to all Creation [Eph. 2:11-18]. It is additionally used of Prince Moses in Exodus 2:16.
According to Hislop, The Chaldean version of this word; "Zer," meaning "to encompass" gives us not only the English basis for: "Zero signified by a circle among the Chaldeans," but also Zero; "the seed." Further, it relates to the Hebrew word zera [*H2233] used in reference to the promised seed in Genesis 3:15. To this end the Chaldean word for the "woman's promised seed" was "Zero-ashta," that also formed the basis of the name Zoroaster. We should note that in the writings of Zoroastrianism in the Zend-Avesta, the predicted return of Zoroaster as a savior who would renew all existence in preparation for the Last Judgment, was prophesied. These references to the woman's promised seed point directly to the general sign of the Celestial Prelude. Hislop also notes:
"In almost all nations, not only was a great god known under the name of Zero or Zer; the seed, and a great goddess under the name of Ashta or Ishta; the woman, but the great god Zero is frequently characterized by some epithet which implies that he is The only One." 3
This evidence provides a strong basis for a direct correlation to the decan Coma, the seed who was the desired of the nations, especially when we view the supernova in this child's head [pictured below from the Dendera zodiac] who was the promised seed, during the general sign of the Celestial Prelude. The implication that the promised seed of the woman would be the only one, speaks to the truth that Christ is the Alpha and Omega, or the first and last way God made available for the redemption of Mankind. Hislop goes on to say: "As he who by the Chaldeans was regarded as the great Seed was looked upon as the Sun incarnate, and as the emblem of the Sun was a circle, the hieroglyphic relation between zero; "the circle," and zero; "the seed" was easily established."4
The Biblical references to Christ associated with the Sun as the "light of the world," the "Sun of Righteousness" [Mal. 4:2] and in Psalm 19:4-6, are only a few of many such references. Thus, in the case of the promised seed, Zero-ashta, the religion of the Magi served as a vessel for many principles and astronomical precepts, that led Mankind to the realization of the promised seed.
Ignatius, one of the Church Fathers and the Bishop of Antioch, in about 69 AD, records that, "At the appearance of the Lord a star shone forth brighter than all other stars." If we are careful not to confuse this reference with the planet Jupiter, we can deduce that this supernova was still visible almost 200 years after it was first seen as the celestial marker of the general timeframe of Jesus' birth. Seiss has some viable historical references on this point:
"Hipparchus about one hundred twenty-five years before Christ, observed it [Coma supernova] as a new star, and was led by it to draw up his catalogue of stars. Ptolemy, about one hundred and fifty years after Christ, refers to it as having been observed by Hipparchus, but as having become so faint as hardly to be any longer discernible."5 (parenthesis and emphasis mine)
A point of interest here regarding Hipparchus is that he is generally credited with the discovery of the precession of the equinoxes, by modern science in about 134 BC. He reportedly came upon this discovery while studying the star Spica, on a celestial map produced by his predecessor, Timocharis. He noticed that Spica was about 2 degrees away from its location on the star map, and decided that it was moving an average of 1 degree every 75 years: [close to the actual 72 years]. This is a key to remember in our study of Dendera's zodiac related to Spica, and this general sign later in this study. Also during this same period referred to by Ptolemy above, shekels from Judea struck during the period of the second revolt, [132 AD.] bear the design of a bright star over the Jerusalem Temple, called Bar Kaukab, or Son of the Star. This would have also been a logical reference to the supernova that appeared in the head of the woman's son in Coma's lap, the desired of the nations, perhaps even a providential reference to Jesus as the true temple. The decan of Coma is pictured below as the three bright stars forming the inverted "L" shape, which significantly contains the North Galactic Pole, located 5 degrees west of Beta Coma. This is interesting in light of the original star picture associated with this decan, as seen in the Denderah zodiac, of a mother holding her Son in her lap, known as "the Desired of the Nations," [pictured above]. The close proximity of the Northern Galatic Pole, recalls the imagery of Cepheus "the crowned king" who regally sits astride the Celestial Pole star polaris, picturing Christ seated in the heavenlies at the right hand of the Heavenly Father [Eph. 1:20-23].
The Magi would have witnessed both this new star shining brightly in Coma, a decan of Virgo, while Jupiter was in retrograde, standing still on the Meridian in Virgo, in December of 2 BC. The general sign of our Celestial Prelude thus harmonizes with the specific signs, as the Magi headed south from Jerusalem, their visit with Herod just concluded, towards Bethlehem in search of the promised seed. This also explains why the Magi were the only group to recognize these specific celestial signs of the Messiah's birth, because the general sign was a fixture in Coma for about 200 years prior to this period. The typical person wouldn't have noticed anything out of the ordinary in the heavens, because it would not stand out unless coupled with the knowledge of the specific signs, which brought the Magi to Israel in the first place. This is another reason why the Magi were so joyful when they saw "his star," Jupiter over Bethlehem. This scenario of what the Magi beheld in the skies over Bethlehem in December of 2 BC, is depicted in the banner of this article above. In Numbers 24:17, when Jacob is referred to in Balaam's prophecy, it bears reference not only for the seed of Jacob, but also in the land promised to him as an inheritance, in his covenant with God [Gen. 15:18]. Rolleston has an interesting remark regarding this:
"The Magi forewarned that the star must appear over Jacob, over his inheritance, would see that star in Coma passed over the center of that inheritance: but as it would also appear to pass vertically over every part of it that was nearly in the Latitude of Jerusalem, they could not at once fix on the spot of the Messiah's birth, therefore they went to inquire; the Latitude, as it were, being given by the star, the longitude by the prophecy."6
Here we see the witness of the stars, and the Scriptures, working together to bring the Magi to the toddler Jesus, because their alert observation of "his star" brought them to Jerusalem and the scribes declaration from Micah 5:2, when Herod questioned them, sent the Magi to Bethlehem. While en route they witnessed the heavens come alive with the proof that their historic journey was not in vain, because they saw both the Coma supernova, and Jupiter in Virgo in the same skies over Bethlehem.
In summary then, the key points regarding the general sign of the celestial prelude are first, that this supernova in Coma, set the timeframe in which the Magi were to expect the specific signs surrounding the birth of Christ. Secondly, that when this general sign is separated from the set of specific signs of Jupiter-Saturn triple conjunctions, the confusion clouding the "Star of Bethlehem," for the most part dissolves.
Symbols of Judaism M.A. Ouaknin p.12.
2 Sun, Moon and Earth. Robin Heath, p.28
The Two Babylons Hislop, p. 59
Gospel in the Stars, Joseph Seiss. P.161.
Mazzaroth; The Star of
*Strong's Concordance word definition for H8269, H2233, etc.