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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Stars

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STARS . The stars form part of the Divine creation in Genesis 1:1-31 . They are invisible in the sunlight, but begin to appear about sunset ( Nehemiah 4:21 ). In poetical passages hyperbolical expressions are used concerning them. At the creation ‘the morning stars sang together’ ( Job 38:7 ); at the battle between Barak and Sisera ‘the stars in their courses fought against Sisera’ ( Judges 5:20 ): in the former passage it may be that the angels are described as stars (cf. Revelation 1:20 ‘the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches’). The difference of magnitude in the stars is recognized by St. Paul: ‘one star differeth from another star in glory’ ( 1 Corinthians 15:41 ). The stars were looked upon as innumerable: ‘tell the stars, if thou be able to tell them’ ( Genesis 15:5 ). The appearance of a bright particular star was supposed to portend some great event. Thus Balaam prophesied ‘There shall come forth a star out of Jacob’ ( Numbers 24:17 ), and this was afterwards interpreted as applying to the Epiphany star ( Matthew 2:2 ; see Star of the Magi); and so in 2 Peter 1:19 we read of the day-star arising in men’s hearts. Caution is given against the worship of the stars, in the legislation of Deuteronomy ( Deuteronomy 4:19 ), and the punishment of death assigned for the convicted worshipper (see Host of Heaven). In Apocalyptic literature ( Revelation 22:16 ) our Lord describes Himself as ‘the bright, the morning star’; whilst ‘they that turn many to righteousness’ are to shine ‘as the stars for ever and ever’ ( Daniel 12:3 ). The day of the Lord is to be heralded by signs in the stars as well as in the sun and moon ( Luke 21:25 ). The appearance of shooting stars, which come out of the darkness and go back into it, is alluded to in Judges 1:13 ‘wandering stars, for whom the blackness of darkness hath been reserved for ever.’ Special numbers of stars are mentioned; in Rev ( Revelation 1:16 ; Revelation 12:1 ), the seven stars and twelve stars illustrate a conventional use of those numbers common in apocalyptic literature. In the OT the seven stars of the AV [Note: Authorized Version.] of Amos 5:8 are the Pleiades ; and the ‘eleven stars’ which made obeisance to Joseph in his dream are simply a conventional number to correspond with that of his brethren.

Of individual stars or constellations, the Bear (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] Arcturus ), Orion , and the Pleiades occur; all three in Job 9:9 ; Job 38:31-32 , the last two also in Amos 5:8 . The mazzaroth ( Job 38:32 ) are most probably the signs of the Zodiac (RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ; cf. 2 Kings 23:5 . margin). In 2 Kings 23:5 the Heb. form of the word mazzaloth is different, and RV [Note: Revised Version.] (text) renders it ‘the planets.’ The chambers of the south ( Job 9:9 ) are probably the stars of the southern hemisphere.

Of worship connected with the stars we have two notable instances. That of ‘ the queen of heaven ’ was popular in Jerusalem ( Jeremiah 7:18 ) immediately before the Captivity, and to the neglect of it the captives in Egypt ascribed their disasters, in an address to Jeremiah ( Jeremiah 44:15-23 ) at Pathros. This worship consisted of the offering of incense and drink-offerings, and the making of cakes, with her figure, apparently, upon them. This Queen of Heaven seems to have been without doubt Venus, or Istar, whose star was considered the most beautiful in the heavens. This goddess is identical with Ashtoreth or Astarte. The second instance of star-worship is one that presents some difficulty. In Amos ( Amos 5:26 ) we meet with an image of Chiun , if the word be a proper name, who is called ‘the star of your god.’ This passage is quoted by St. Stephen ( Acts 7:43 ), where the expression is rendered ‘the star of the god Rephan.’ There seems little reason to doubt that Chiun is the same as the Assyrian Kaiwân , identical with the planet Saturn, to whom divine worship was paid. The form of name ‘ Rephan ’ seems to have arisen from a corrupt reading of the Hebrew, which is as old as the Septuagint. There are very few allusions to astrology in the OT, but in Isaiah ( Isaiah 47:13 ) we have mention of ‘the astrologers (Heb. ‘dividers of the heavens’) the star-gazers, the monthly prognosticators ’; all these persons drew their utterances and professed knowledge of the future from the heavens. The magicians and soothsayers of the Book of Daniel were a similar class, to which belonged the Magi or wise men who had seen the star which heralded the birth of the King of the Jews ( Matthew 2:1-2 ). See next article.

H. A. Redpath.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Stars'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdb/s/stars.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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