Mediaeval Astronomy In The Old Testament Book Of Ezekiel

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1.1. The title of the book

Charles Brigg, Professor of Theology, wrote that "most of the books in the Old Testament were compiled by authors whose names and exact relation to the writings were lost in deep antiquity" ([543], pages 119-120).

Let us regard the actual name of the book of Ezekiel. As N. A. Morozov pointed out, the Hebrew IEZK-AL translates as "The Lord Shall Overcome" ([543], page 226). Scaligerian history considers Ezekiel to have been an author who allegedly lived between 595 and 574 b.c. However, the word "Ezekiel" is only used to refer to a person just once (Ezekiel 24:24), in a rather vague context that becomes clear only after we translate "Ezekiel" as "The Lord Shall Overcome." God addresses the author of the prophecy dozens of times, always saying "thou" and never calling him by name. One can come to the logical conclusion that "Ezekiel" is merely the name of the actual book, which concurs with its content perfecdy well - predicting the victory of some currendy disavowed deity. This rational explanation of the name of the book is in no way related to the analysis of its astronomical content, as we can understand perfecdy well; however, it is useful for pointing out just how useful it is to think about the possibility that ancient words and names may be translated, which clarifies a great many things.

N. A. Morozov's analysis performed in [543] shows that the entire prophecy is based on two main topics:

1) Visible borrowings from the New Testament Apocalypse

Modern commentators interpret this in reverse, since the books of the Old Covenant are considered to have been written a lot earlier than those of the New Covenant. However, this is most probably erroneous, and the Gospels either predate the Heptateuch, or were created around the same time (see Chron6).

2) The astronomical "visions" of the author of the prophecy

N. A. Morozov was of the opinion that the book of Ezekiel contained a planetary horoscope. He even tried to date it astronomically, coming up with the date 453 a.d. as the first solution which he had found moving forwards in time from deep antiquity towards contemporaneity. There may have been other solutions dating to a much later epoch which Morozov couldn't find due to his certainty that the Bible couldn't have been written later than the V-VI century a.d. This was a grave error of his. The Bible was most probably created in the XI-XVII centuries a.d. See Chron6 for more details.

Our opinion is as follows: unlike the Apocalypse, the horoscope of Ezekiel is described extremely vaguely, and this ambiguous and Delphic description is hardly applicable to astronomical dating. We shall re

Old Star Map
Fig. 4.1. A mediaeval star chart from a book by S. De Lubienietski titled Historia universalis omnium Cometarumy Lugduni Batavorum, 1681 ([1257]). Book archive of the Pulkovo Observatory (Saint-Petersburg). Also see [543], pages 26-27

frain from wasting time on it; should the readers get really interested, Morozov's oeuvre [543] gives an exhaustive account of the issue.

What N. A. Morozov is definitely correct about is the fact that the testamentary book of Ezekiel is really filled with all kinds of astronomical information that allows us to consider this book a mediaeval -possibly late mediaeval - astrological text, and be quite confident about it. This particular fact is important enough for us to illustrate it by a couple of examples following ([543]).

1.2. The description of the Milky Way and the Ophiuchus constellation

The Bible says: "The heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God" (Ezekiel, 1:1). We are given the same direct indication as we got from the book of Revelation - namely, that we should observe the sky.

N. A. Morozov periodically queried the synodal translation of the Bible using the Hebraic text without vocalizations. Apparently, the authors of the synodal "translation" often failed to understand the old text. These circumstantiations of Morozov often fa cilitate the translation greatly and elucidate the actual meaning, so we shall be making references to his comments ([543]).

The Bible says: "And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it [a more exact translation would be "an irradiance like a river of light," q.v. [543] - A. F.]" (Ezekiel 1:4).

The irradiance goes to the south from the north. Since the events take place in the starlit sky, as we have mentioned above, this reference most probably means the Milky Way, which may really be perceived as a luminous river of light going to the south from the north.

The Biblical observer looks towards the luminosity and sees that "out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures [the Hebraic text uses the term "living entities," whereas the synodal translation refers to them as "beasts," q.v. [543] - A. F.]... they had the likeness of a man" (Ezekiel 1:5). N. A. Morozov makes the correction referring to the Hebraic text, and suggests that the Bible really says that "the image of man could be seen right there." What could be the possible meaning of this?

Nearly every astronomical map from the Middle Ages - see fig. 4.1, for instance - has a constellation in the south, right in the middle of the Milky Way, that has the shape of a man - the Ophiuchus (see fig. 4.2).

1.3. The Biblical description of the astronomical sectors, or "wings," on the celestial sphere

As we have already mentioned, the mediaeval celestial sphere was divided into 12 pairs of star hours that were pictured as meridians that converged at the poles of the sphere and divided it into 24 sectors, or "wings," q.v. fig. 3.12. Ophiuchus is holding the Serpent, and both of them occupy two pairs of wings - two on the left, and two on the right. In our case, four "living entities" are mentioned in the constellation of Ophiuchus - possibly planets. The Bible, for instance, tells us that "every one had four wings" (Ezekiel 1:6). See the mediaeval book of Borman dating from 1596, for example ([1045]), which gives the position of Ophiuchus as well as that of his wings.

The synodal translation tells us that the "living creatures" also had four faces each. N. A. Morozov points out the missing words "one obscured" and gives his own translation: "he was the one with four faces, and it was he in his mystery who had possessed four wings" (Ezekiel 1:6).

The synodal translation tells us that "they four had their faces and their wings. Their wings were joined one to another, and they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward" (Ezekiel 1:9). It is obvious that the reference is to the sectors, or the wings on the celestial sphere. It is natural that they should be joined together.

N. A. Morozov's translation proceeds to tell us that "the procession of these creatures was immutable, and the concavity of their pass was like the concavity of a circumference, and all four faces shone like polished brass."

1.4. The constellations of Leo, Taurus and Aquila

Let us now regard a mediaeval map - [1256] or [1257] by S. Lubienietski, for instance (see fig. 4.1), and study the constellations in the south of the sky,

Fig. 4.2. The constellation of the Ophiuchus against the background of the Milky Way. A mediaeval book titled Astro-gnosia, XV century. Book archive of the Pulkovo Observatory (St. Petersburg). Also see [544], Volume 1, page 218, ill. 57.

next to Sagittarius. On the right we see Ophiuchus with the Serpent, with Leo on his right and Taurus on his left. On top, near the peak of the trajectory of the sphere's rotation, we can see Aquila in the centre, above all of the constellations. The human hands of Sagittarius and Hercules can be seen rising from beyond the equinoctial, as described in the prophecy: "and they had the hands of a man under their wings" (Ezekiel 1:8).

This astronomical picture is explicitly described in Ezekiel's prophecy. The Bible says the following (in N. A. Morozov's translation):

"The outline of Leo was to the right of all four, with the outline of Taurus to the right of all four, and Aquila above the four" (Ezekiel 1:10).

Since Morozov's translation differs from the synodal at times, we shall demonstrate the difference by the following example. The synodal text of this quotation is as follows: "they four had... the face of the lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of the ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle" (Ezekiel 1:10). The similarity is apparent; however, N. A. Morozov's translation makes a lot more sense.

According to the Bible, "as for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps" (Ezekiel 1:13). What we see here is an astronomical comparison of the planets with lamps and coals. "And

Plaatsen Circustheater Plattegrond

Fig. 4.3. A mediaeval picture of the ten celestial spheres as concentric wheels. Taken from the Latin book by J. Ch. Steeb titled Coelum Sephiroticum Hebraeorum (The Sephirotic Skies of the Jews), Maguntiae, 1679 ([1412]). Book archive of the Pulkovo Observatory (St. Petersburg). Also see [543], page 15, ill. 5.

Fig. 4.3. A mediaeval picture of the ten celestial spheres as concentric wheels. Taken from the Latin book by J. Ch. Steeb titled Coelum Sephiroticum Hebraeorum (The Sephirotic Skies of the Jews), Maguntiae, 1679 ([1412]). Book archive of the Pulkovo Observatory (St. Petersburg). Also see [543], page 15, ill. 5.

the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning [in zigzags - A. F.]." This must refer to the forthright and retrograde movement of planets on the celestial sphere (see figs. 3.19, 3.20 and 3.21).

1.5. The Biblical description of the mediaeval "wheels," or planetary orbits

We shall now return to the mediaeval charts. They often depict planet orbits as concentric wheels, with the Earth in the centre. They reflect the initial concepts of the mediaeval astronomers who used to view Earth as the centre of the universe. Such imagery is clearly pre-Copernican. One should, however, bear in mind that the planetary orbits would occasionally be drawn in that manner as recendy as the XVII-XVIII century.

The concentric planetary orbits can be observed in the mediaeval book by J. Steeb ([ 1412], see fig. 4.3). The wheels bear the planetary names and insignia.

The first wheel, which is also the greatest, is the empyrean.

The second wheel is the sphere of immobile stars.

The third wheel is the celestial ocean.

The wheels to follow are those of Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the sun, Venus, Mercury, and the moon.

Ezekiel Face Wheel Pictures
Fig. 4.4. According to the mediaeval cosmological concept, the planetary orbits had the shape of concentric wheels. Taken from the book titled Canonum Astronomicum, 1553 ([1319]). Book archive of the Pulkovo Observatory (St. Petersburg). Also see [543], page 54, ill. 22.

Planetary orbits are also drawn as concentric wheels in the book by Orontius Finaeus Delphinatis allegedly dating from 1553 ([1320], fig. 4.4). The orbital wheels can rotate independendy. Concentric wheels, or several concentric planetary orbits, can be seen in Sacro Bosco's (or Sacrobusto's) book allegedly dating from 1516 ([1384], fig. 4.5). One should emphasize that the felloes of the wheels are covered in stars, or eyes, which is quite natural, since the orbits are celestial objects and exist amidst myriads of stars.

Wheel-like orbits are drawn in another book by Sacro Bosco (or Sacrobusto) allegedly dating from the XVI century ([1385]). The felloes of the concen tric orbital wheels bear the images of the Zodiacal constellations filled with stars, q.v. fig. 4.6.

Wheel-like orbits with felloes covered in stars can also be seen in the book by Corbinianus allegedly dating from 1731 ([1077] and fig. 4.7). The orbital wheels roll over the zodiacal belt. In general, one has to remark that mediaeval science had developed an extremely complex articulation system for the orbital wheels in order to explain planetary movements. This science was cast into oblivion by Copernicus, who placed the sun in the centre of the system instead of the Earth. However, this sophisticated geocentric system used to flourish before Copernicus.

Fig. 4.5. Planetary orbits as concentric wheels. Taken from a mediaeval book by J. de Sacro Bosco (or Sacrobusto) tided Sphera Materialis, 1516 ([1384]). Book archive of the Pulkovo Observatory (St. Petersburg). Also see [543], page 118, ill. 65.

Fig. 4.5. Planetary orbits as concentric wheels. Taken from a mediaeval book by J. de Sacro Bosco (or Sacrobusto) tided Sphera Materialis, 1516 ([1384]). Book archive of the Pulkovo Observatory (St. Petersburg). Also see [543], page 118, ill. 65.

Let us return to the Biblical prophecy of Ezekiel. The Bible says:

"Behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures [planets? - A. F.], with his four faces. The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness [or identical construction - A. F.]: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel... As for their rings, they were so high [above the ground - A. F. ] that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes [full of stars! -A. F.] round about them four. And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up in line with them [the rotation of the planetary orbital wheel - A. F.]. Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went... and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up in line with them." (Ezekiel, 1:15-16,1:18-21)

The Biblical observer quite explicitly describes planets and their quotidian movement over the orbital wheels. The description is so clear that identifying the "living creatures" with planets appears quite natural.

By the way, many late mediaeval painters who il-

Fig. 4.6. Mediaeval wheel-like orbits. The terrestrial globe is in the centre, and the planetary orbits surround it. Taken from book by Sacro Bosco (or Sacrobusto) tided Opusculu de Sphaera... clanssimi philosophi Ioannis de Sacro busto, Viennae Pannoniae, 1518 ([1385]). Book archive of the Pulkovo Observatory (St. Petersburg). Also see [543], page 131, ill. 72.

Fig. 4.6. Mediaeval wheel-like orbits. The terrestrial globe is in the centre, and the planetary orbits surround it. Taken from book by Sacro Bosco (or Sacrobusto) tided Opusculu de Sphaera... clanssimi philosophi Ioannis de Sacro busto, Viennae Pannoniae, 1518 ([1385]). Book archive of the Pulkovo Observatory (St. Petersburg). Also see [543], page 131, ill. 72.

Fig. 4.7. Mediaeval Egyptian cosmology. The wheel-like orbits roll across the zodiac. Taken from Firmamentum Firmianum by Corbinianus dating from 1731 ([1077]). Book archive of the Pulkovo Observatory (St. Petersburg). Also see [543], page 254, ill. 136.

Fig. 4.7. Mediaeval Egyptian cosmology. The wheel-like orbits roll across the zodiac. Taken from Firmamentum Firmianum by Corbinianus dating from 1731 ([1077]). Book archive of the Pulkovo Observatory (St. Petersburg). Also see [543], page 254, ill. 136.

lustrated the Bible without understanding the correct astronomical meaning of the "eyes round about them four" would interpret this literally and draw a multitude of eyes covering the entire body of the animal. The result was of dubious aesthetic value, and could serve as yet another illustration of the distortions one gets when later commentators fail to understand the original meaning of the ancient text.

1.6. Parallels with the astronomical symbolism of the Apocalypse

What we encounter later in the prophecy of Ezekiel resembles direct quotations from the Apocalypse, a New Covenant book: starlit sky, semblance of a crystal, etc.

According to the Bible, "the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above. And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other... and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies. And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings... when they stood, they let down their wings" (Ezekiel 1:22-24).

Also: "And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne [the constellation of the Throne, q.v. above - A. F], as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it" (Ezekiel 1:26).

This is practically identical to the Revelation of St. John, where we encounter the following: "and behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne... and there was a rainbow [the Milky Way-A. R] round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald" (Revelation 4:2-3). See the previous paragraph.

1.7. Biblical cherubim, chariots, and mediaeval planetary orbital wheels

Let us remind the reader that planets were often represented as chariots in the Middle Ages. More on this can be seen in the paragraph above that deals with the Apocalypse. Chariots would be drawn by horses, and occasionally fantasy animals. A planet would ride a chariot, and the gigantic orbital wheels would bear the planetary insignia, or zodiacal constellations where the wheels were rolling. Let us point out that planets move over the zodiac, and the symbolism used here was typical for the Middle Ages.

It is amazing that the book of Ezekiel describes virtually identical symbols. This fact alone would give sufficient cause to inquire whether this Old Covenant book could have been written in the Middle Ages, around the XIII-XVI centuries a.d.

The Bible tells us that: "behold, in the firmament [in the sky yet again - A. F.] that was above the head of the cherubim there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne [the Throne constellation - A. F.]" (Ezekiel 10:1).

The word "cherubim" (KHRBIM or RKHBIM) can also be used to refer to a chariot ([543], page 72). The 10th chapter of Ezekiel's prophecy that we quote tells us about several new celestial observations of the Biblical author that are unlike those mentioned in the first chapter (see above). He refers to planetary chariots, or the Cherubim moving across the firmament, or celestial dome, somewhere near the Throne constellation.

The Bible says:

"And when I looked, behold the four wheels by the cherubim, one wheel by one cherub [chariot - A. F.], and another wheel by another cherub: and the appearance of the wheels was as the colour of a beryl stone [a reference is probably made to each planet possessing an orbit of its own - A. F.]. And as for their appearances, they four had one likeness, as if a wheel had been in the midst of a wheel... they turned not as they went... and their whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and the

.VRSAJMNOR^

Fig. 4.8. This picture shows us that the Chariot constellation (on the left) was replaced by Ursa Major (on the right). Taken from Cosmographicus Liber Petri Apiani mathematici studiose collectus, Landshutae, impensis P. Apiani, 1524 ([1013]). Book archive of the Pulkovo Observatory (St. Petersburg). Also see [543], page 91, ill. 53.

Fig. 4.9. A mediaeval picture of the Ophiuchus holding the equinoctial in his hands. There are grading points on the equinoctial, making it look like a measuring-rope. Taken from the Firmamentum Firmianum by Corbinianus, 1731 ([1077]). Book archive of the Pulkovo Observatory (St. Petersburg). Also see [543], page 105, ill. 57.

Fig. 4.9. A mediaeval picture of the Ophiuchus holding the equinoctial in his hands. There are grading points on the equinoctial, making it look like a measuring-rope. Taken from the Firmamentum Firmianum by Corbinianus, 1731 ([1077]). Book archive of the Pulkovo Observatory (St. Petersburg). Also see [543], page 105, ill. 57.

wheels, were full of eyes round about, even the wheels that they four had." (Ezekiel 10:9-12)

We shall quote the next fragment in the translation of N. A. Morozov: "The names of these wheels... the one in the rear bore semblance to a Chariot." It is possible that what we see here is a reference to Ursa Major, which used to be represented as a chariot. Such a rare mediaeval depiction can be seen on the chart from the 1524 Apianus book, for instance ([1013], fig. 4.8).

Let us carry on with quoting Morozov s translation: "the second had the likeness of a man and the third, that of a lion; the fourth had the likeness of an eagle. The chariots went upwards. They were the same living creatures as I have seen" (Ezekiel 10:14-15). The Biblical observer points out that the chariots and the living creatures that he describes in the first chapter are one and the same. Could they be planets?

We witness mediaeval astronomy on the pages of the Biblical prophecy yet again: planets on their orbital wheels moving across the celestial sphere.

The Bible says that "when the cherubim [the chariots - A. F.] went, the wheels went by them: and when the cherubim lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the same wheels also turned not from beside them. When they stood, these stood; and when they were lifted up, these lifted up themselves also: for the spirit of the living creature was in them" (Ezekiel, 10:16-17).

1.8. The Biblical description of mediaeval cosmology as a celestial temple

One should definitely point out another remarkable astronomical fragment in the book of Ezekiel. Morozov's translation is as follows: "there was a likeness of a Man together with the likeness of a Serpent.

He had a land-chain and measuring cane in his hands and stood at the gates" (Ezekiel 40:3).

An entire page is to follow, one that is dedicated entirely to the descriptions of various measurements and numeric coefficients of the celestial temple. Some surveyor is conveying the measurements. Who could he be, and what exacdy is the temple that the Bible describes in such great detail, giving the locations of rooms, partitions, entrances and exits, pillars, their size, and so on? The answer is amazingly simple. It suffices to turn to mediaeval star charts yet again.

The 1731 book by Corbinianus, for instance ([1077]) contains a picture of Ophiuchus as a man who holds the equinoctial in his hands in the shape of a chain, or rope, or lasher, q.v. fig. 4.9. The semblance between the equinoctial and a measuring rope or land-chain is obvious, since the equinoctial had degree marks upon it. This is how most ancient star charts depict it. We can also see a vertical cane on this picture - the lower solstice meridian, which the Ophiuchus holds in his hand vertically. This means ancient maps portray him as a measurer. We see that this mediaeval map of constellations is represented in the Old Covenant book quite faithfully.

The celestial temple is depicted as a large hall on dozens of late mediaeval charts as a well-known astronomical object, exactly the way the Biblical prophecy refers to it. A temple, or a hall in the sky can be seen in the book by P. Apianus, for instance ([ 1013], fig. 4.10). Similar celestial palaces can be seen in the book by Bacharach dating from 1545 ([ 1021 ]) - on the so-called Egyptian Zodiac. See also [543], pages 81-82, ills. 39-50 and 51. The celestial hall merely reflects the cosmological concepts of the mediaeval astronomers. We can see planets, their orbits, the zodiac, constellations, their movement, etc. This is the pre-Copernican mediaeval cosmology.

The plan of the celestial temple as a building that has the planetary orbital wheels and the zodiacal wheel revolving inside it can be seen in the XVI century book by Sacro Bosco (or Sacrobusto) - see [1385] and fig. 4.11. Another similar representation from a different book by Sacro Bosco ([1383]) is shown in fig. 4.12. This picture reflects the entire mediaeval cosmology. Angels move within the hall, revolving the eaves, the pales, and the heavy zodiacal belt that has planetary orbital wheels sliding across it.

We may be told that the mediaeval astronomers merely drew the "extremely ancient" Biblical images on their charts, which came to them from the pages of the Bible "out of deep antiquity." This interpretation is highly dubious, in our opinion. Most probably, the astronomical objects were primary, and not their literary descriptions - in the Old Testament, for instance. All the astronomical images listed above are far from being "illustrations to the Bible." They are filled with concrete scientific meaning: orbital wheels, equinoctials, meridians, star hours, etc. These concepts were introduced by mediaeval astronomers who pursued pragmatic and scientific ends which were far away from the literary paradigm. It was only afterwards that the poets and the writers began to create their literary images after having studied the star charts. Mediaeval cosmology - the celestial temple with its orbital wheels - wasn't created by poets, but rather by astronomy scholars. The poets merely followed them in order to chant praises to science.

The conclusion is rather clear. All the astronomical fragments from the Biblical book of Ezekiel are manifestations of the mediaeval, or possibly late mediaeval, scientific culture. Late mediaeval star charts, as well as Biblical texts, were apparendy created in the XI-XVI centuries a.d. within the same paradigm of scientific ideology. The Scaligerian chronology that came into existence somewhat later is nevertheless persistent in separating them by a temporal gap of 1500-2000 years.

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