The Stars of Israel

There a lot of good reasons to perceive the narratives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the twelve sons of Israel as fictional accounts. One of them is that scholars have been able to date the time in which they were written to about the seventh century, and, according to the Bible, the events were supposed to have taken place about 2200 BCE-a 1600 year gap.

It was common practice, in those days, to write a legendary history as a means of defining a common cultural background. They weren't intended to serve as an accurate history; there were no records to work from.

According to the "Oxford History of the Biblical World", page 17, Israel was composed of a confederation. When a tribe joined, a name was placed in the eponymous list of sons of Jacob/Israel.

The twelve familiar names of the zodiac came from the Greeks. What we are interested in is what the Hebrews called these twelve constellations. In Genesis 49, Jacob is at the end of his life when he calls his sons together to tell them what fortune awaits them.

Placing the names of the twelve tribes with the zodiac is not an exact science. I have three references, named below, that come to different conclusions. On some names they agree and on others they don't; sometimes they are not convincing.

At minimum, they tell is that the Hebrews had a strong belief that the stars and the sun held the secrets to their destiny. By sticking with the symbology of the basic constellations and the stars that fall within their sector, I think I have come up with a better fit.


After Jacob fathered his twelve sons, God changed his name to Israel. In a roundabout way the name "Israel" means constellations of the Zodiac. According to Strong's dictionary, "Israel" means "he will rule as God". Astrologically, the sun god rules according to the motifs of the zodiacal constellation it is in.

28Then he said, "Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed." (Gen 32:28)


In Genesis 49, Jacob the father sun is entering the twilight of its descent. Jacob's swan song is to review the future of his twelve zodiacal sons.

1Then Jacob called his sons, and said, "Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in days to come.
Assemble and hear, O sons of Jacob, and hearken to Israel your father. (Gen 49:1-2)


Rueben rules in Aquarius the water bearer because of his association with water.

3Reuben, you are my first-born, my might, and the first fruits of my strength, pre-eminent in pride and pre-eminent in power.
4Unstable as water, you shall not have pre-eminence because you went up to your father's bed; then you defiled it-you went up to my couch! (Gen. 49:3-4)

Jacob's firstborn, Rueben, had sex with one of his father's concubine.

22While Israel dwelt in that land Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine; and Israel heard of it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve.
23The sons of Leah: Reuben (Jacob's first-born) (Gen 35:22)

Gemini and Libra

Simeon rules Gemini and Levi rules Libra as brothers in violence. Both constellations symbolize the number two. The Gemini are brothers and Libra the scale for settling debts.

That they "hamstring oxen" can be seen when the sun rises into Gemini, making the stars of Taurus appear to descend as if hamstrung. In the zodiac circle, Gemini lies above and next to Taurus, and Libra is opposite Taurus. Astronomically, when the sun ascends into Gemini, Taurus falls away from the sun. And when the sun enters Libra, Taurus is in full descent.

Jacob says he will divide and scatter the brothers in Israel, which means the two constellations are not in juxtaposition; one is next to Taurus and the other is opposite Taurus.

5Simeon and Levi are brothers; weapons of violence are their swords.
O my soul, come not into their council; O my spirit, be not joined to their company; for in their anger they slay men, and in their wantonness they hamstring oxen.
Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel.>(Gen. 49:5-7)

As slayers of men, Gemini includes two bright stars called the twins. In ancient mythology, the Gemini twins were warlike heroes who avenged the kidnapping of their sister Helen to Troy.

In Genesis 34, their sister Dinah was raped by Schecham the son of Hamor the Hivite. Simeon and Levi took revenge by murdering the father, son and all the males of the city. Not content to stop there, they plundered the city.

25On the third day, when they were sore, two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brothers, took their swords and came upon the city unawares, and killed all the males.
26They slew Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem's house, and went away.
27And the sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and plundered the city, because their sister had been defiled; (Gen. 34:25-27)


Judah rules Leo the lion. Lions got their title as king of beasts because July is the hottest time of the year. Judah is the tribe from which king David descends.

Jacob associates Judah with lions. A throwback to the ancient Egyptians, a scepter and staff symbolize sovereignty.

8Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father's sons shall bow down before you.
Judah is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as a lioness; who dares rouse him up?
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
Binding his foal to the vine and his ass's colt to the choice vine, he washes his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes;
his eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.(Gen. 49:8-12)


Pisces is ruled by Zebulun by its association with the sea. As a haven for ships, fish supply food for long voyages. Of course, water borders land.

13Zebulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea; he shall become a haven for ships, and his border shall be at Sidon. (Gen. 49:13)


Issachar rules Taurus the bull. Asses associate with bulls in the sense that they are both pulling animals. Taurus follows Aries the sheep in the zodiac.

14Issachar is a strong ass, crouching between the sheepfolds;
he saw that a resting place was good, and that the land was pleasant; so he bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a slave at forced labor.(Gen. 49:13-15)


Dan rules Scorpio. In the sector of Scorpion, there is the constellation Serpens the serpent. A viper that bites the horse's heels, juxtapositions Scorpio next to Sagittarius, the half man half horse. When horse and rider fall backward can be seen because Sagittarius descends lower than Scorpio.

16Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel.
Dan shall be a serpent in the way, a viper by the path, that bites the horse's heels so that his rider falls backward.
I wait for thy salvation, O LORD.(Gen. 49:16-18)


Gad rules Sagittarius. "Raiders" make us think of something military. Being an archer, Sagittarius is a warlike constellation.

19Raiders shall raid Gad, but he shall raid at their heels.(Gen. 49:19)


Asher rules Virgo with its association with food. The sun enters Virgo at the end of the growing season. Virgo is pictured with stalks of grains in her hand.

20Asher's food shall be rich, and he shall yield royal dainties. (Gen. 49:20)


Naphtali rules Aries the lamb. The sun enters Aries at the beginning of spring when fawns and lambs are born.

21Naphtali is a hind let loose, that bears comely fawns.(Gen. 49:21)


Joseph rules Cancer. The sun enters Cancer at the height of its ascent when Orion the hunter with its bow can be seen upright. In the zodiac circle, Cancer is opposite Sagittarius, so allegorically they are in opposition. The archers' attack comes from Sagittarius the archer shooting across the divide from the winter solstice to the summer solstice.

22Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; his branches run over the wall.
The archers fiercely attacked him, shot at him, and harassed him sorely;
yet his bow remained unmoved, his arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (by the name of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel).(Gen. 49:22-24)

Orion is not one of the twelve zodiac constellations, but next to the sun, it is the most important constellation in Jewish and Christian mythology. He is the favorite son and the only one who receives God's blessings.

Starting at Genesis 37, Genesis devotes more space to Joseph than any of the other brothers. Joseph's brothers didn't like him, so they left him in a pit to be picked up by a caravan and sold as a slave in Egypt. In Christian mythology, Orion is personified as the Son of man.

25by the God of your father who will help you, by God Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that couches beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
The blessings of your father are mighty beyond the blessings of the eternal mountains, the bounties of the everlasting hills; may they be on the head of Joseph, and on the brow of him who was separate from his brothers. (Gen. 49:25-26)


Benjamin rules Capricorn as a ravenous wolf when Sirius the Dog Star rises above the horizon in early January. It is the brightest of all the stars. In Christian mythology, it is the Star of Bethlehem.

27Benjamin is a ravenous wolf, in the morning devouring the prey, and at even dividing the spoil."(Gen. 49:27)

A hint of Paul's dishonesty comes from his claim to be a descendant of the nonexistent tribe of Benjamin. After the Jews were exiled in 586 BCE, tribal names became extinct.

1I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. (Rom. 11:1)


Allegorically, when the sun dies, it is in full descent at the darkest months of winter, and is said to be in a cave. Thus, Jacob is buried in a cave. By a remarkable coincidence, Jesus was also carried to a cave after he died.

28All these are the twelve tribes of Israel; and this is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each with the blessing suitable to him.
29Then he charged them, and said to them, "I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,
30in the cave that is in the field at Machpelah, to the east of Mamre, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite to possess as a burying place.
31There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah-
32the field and the cave that is in it were purchased from the Hittites."
33When Jacob finished charging his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed, and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.

What's in a Name

If we want to get sticky about names, even the Bible doesn't agree on all of them.

Exodus 1 agrees with Genesis 49.

1These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household:
2Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah,
3Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin,
4Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher.
5All the offspring of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt. (Ex. 1:1-5)

Judges 5 misses two tribes: Simeon and Levi. Two of them, Meroz and Machir, were added. Considering the importance of the tribe of Levi in the Exodus, this is not a minor omission-Moses and Aaron were supposed to be a Levites.

14From Ephraim they set out thither into the valley, following you, Benjamin, with your kinsmen; from Machir marched down the commanders, and from Zebulun those who bear the marshal's staff;
the princes of Issachar came with Deborah, and Issachar faithful to Barak; into the valley they rushed forth at his heels. Among the clans of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.
Why did you tarry among the sheepfolds, to hear the piping for the flocks? Among the clans of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.
Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan; and Dan, why did he abide with the ships? Asher sat still at the coast of the sea, settling down by his landings.
Zebulun is a people that jeoparded their lives to the death; Naphtali too, on the heights of the field.
"Curse Meroz, says the angel of the LORD, curse bitterly its inhabitants, because they came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty. (Judges 5:14-18, 23)

In Deuteronomy 33, only eleven tribes are named; Simeon's name is missing.

6"Let Reuben live, and not die, nor let his men be few."
And this he said of Judah:
And of Levi he said,
12Of Benjamin he said,
13And of Joseph he said, such are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and such are the thousands of Manasseh."
And of Zebulun he said, "Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out; and Issachar, in your tents.
And of Gad he said,
And of Dan he said,
23And of Naphtali he said,
24And of Asher he said, (Deut. 33)


Kabbalistic Astrology by Rabbi Joel C. Dobin.

Alan Oken's Complete Astrology by Alan Oken.

Christianity Before Christ by John G. Jackson.

The New Patterns in the Sky by Julius D. W. Staal

The Oxford History of the Biblical World edited by Michael D. Coogan.

The Bible Unearthed by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman.

Star Names, Their Lore and Meaning by Richard Hinkley Allen