The lost constellation

In the previous post we reviewed the astronomical work done to clarify the nature of the star of Bethlehem. In this post we try to elucidate the comment made by L Craig Harris about the constellation Coma.

The Egyptian calendar was divided into 36 ten day weeks or decans. Each decan has an associated constellation. With twelve signs of the zodiac, each sign has three decans, in addition to its main constellation. That makes four constellations per sign – 48 in all.

Are these the same as our modern constellations? Can we even answer this question? We can, because we can compare the work of Ptolemy in AD150 – on whose work our modern system is based – with the earlier Persian description, preserved and described by Albumazar (Abu Masher), an Arab astronomer of about AD 850. It turns out that they agree on 45 constellations, but disagree on 3, of which one is entirely missing.

This constellation was associated with Virgo and it was the first decan of Virgo, which means it would have been above her head. Albumazar describes this constellation as depicting a young woman holding an infant in her arms, whose name is Jesus.

This constellation is preserved in the Dendera zodiac, an Egyptian bas-relief from the ceiling of the portico of a chapel dedicated to Osiris in the Hathor temple at Dendera. The relief has been dated to 50 BC. It is now on display at the Louvre.

Now today there is a constellation called Coma Berenices which in Greek means Berenice’s Hair. The English woman Frances Rolleston suggested that the correct original name was Coma which she felt was the ancient Hebrew name (meaning The Desired One) which had been misunderstood by the Greeks to mean hair. This was pure speculation on her part; the word for desire in the obscure prophecy of Haggai 2:7 is chemdâh, and the word is taken from Psalm 69:1 where the word means longeth (H3642: kâmahh)

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
– Psalm 63:1 (KJV)

However, according to the biblical scholar E.W. Bullinger, one of the people who publicised Rollinger’s work, the Egyptian name for this constellation was Shes-nu, the desired son. You can read this passage from his The Witness of The Stars on google books. A very similar book is Joseph Seiss’s The Gospel In The Stars.

As a postscript, the website says there was a supernova in this constellation in 125 B.C. The site author references this as a general sign, preceeding the specific sign of the conjunction in regulus described in the previous post.

A timeline on the same site also details further interesting triple conjunctions between Jupiter and Saturn:

  • in Aquarius in 1953 BC, announcing the birth of Abraham. This year is also the start of the Chinese calendar, following an alignment of all the planets on March 3rd 1953BC which Chinese astronomers record as having taken place near the square of Pegasus (the second decan in Aquarius. Rolleston references Zech 6:7 and Rev 19:11).
  • in Taurus in 1533BC, announcing the birth of Moses

~ by scalambra on February 8, 2011.

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