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    Re: The Star of Bethlehem and Navigation
    From: NavList
    Date: 2009 Jan 5, 13:03 -0800

    Geoffrey and Andrew,
    > Marcel Tschudin wonders how the Three Wise Men navigated their way to
    > Bethlehem by "following a star"? First of all, it is clear from Matthew
    > that the Wise Men came "from the East". So the implication is that in
    > following a star to take them West, the star must have been in the West.
    Not necessarily. The place in the West may have been indicated by astrological 
    rules or by Jewish prophecies ("the star out of Jacob" in Numbers 14:17). 
    Remember, the magi asked in Jerusalem where the Messiah would be born 
    according to the prophecies. Moreover, they used to follow their dreams. 
    There were also prophecies in Zoroastrianism according to which a Saviour 
    would be born from a virgin. The magi could have worked in a similar way as 
    the Tibetan monks looking for their reborn Tulkus. They combine a number of 
    indications, e.g. dreams, prophecies, omens, possibly including astronomicla 
    ones, to lead them to their child. We should be careful not to become victims 
    of unreflecting preconceptions about the job of the magi.
    We cannot even be sure that the magi were in the east when they first observed 
    the star. If it was a heliacal rising that indicated the birth of the 
    Messiah, they would have been able to predict the exact time of the birth and 
    start their trip quite some time before that in order to find the baby 
    shortly after birth. This is exactly what early Christian writers thought. 
    Justin Martyr writes in Dialogue with Trypho, 77 (cf. 78, 106):
    "For, at the same time (???) as his birth, Magi came from Arabia
    and paid him homage, after they had first come to Herod". 
    The magi came from the east (greek: apo anatolon, "from the risings" (a 
    plural!)). But when it says that they saw the star in the east, it is Greek 
    "en te anatole, "in the rising" (singular!, so I assume it does _not_ mean 
    their country of residence). So probably they saw it at its morning first. 
    The morning firsts of planets were listed in Babylonian horoscopes if they 
    took place a couple of days or weeks before the birth. (See Rochberg, 
    "Babylonian Horoscopes").
    > The heliacal rising of Venus would have been in the East, wherever they
    > came from, so they were not "following" Venus in the way we might simply
    > expect.
    As I said in my last message, the "going before" of the star could indicate 
    its retrograde motion. (This has also been pointed out by Michael Molnar.) 
    Later it stands still, which could indicate a station.
    > Additionally Venus in 
    > astrology is not the planet of a king but Jupiter is, so the "star" they were 
    > following was Jupiter not Venus.  
    First of all, what modern astrology says, is not necessarily relevant here.
    In ancient Mesopotamia, you will find that the goddess Ishtar-Inanna, who was 
    identified with the planet Venus, chose her lovers to become kings, E.g. 
    Gilgamesch, Shulgi, Iddin Dagan, etc. In Assyrian times, Ishtar was 
    considered to be the mother of the king (e.g. Assurbanipal, Esarhaddon). When 
    the king had to go to war, she "went before" him and protected him (note, the 
    star of the magi also went before them). This tradition of a very close union 
    of the king with the Venus goddess lived for thousand of years. Even a clay 
    tablet from Hellenistic times' Uruk mentions a sacred marriage ceremony in 
    Ishtars temple. 
    The king as a child of the goddess - this must remind as of the holy Mary icons with the king child.
    Also, if you have a look at the places, where the Morning Star is mentioned in 
    the Bible, you will find, that it was associated with rulership. (See e.g. 
    Revelation 22:16 and 2:26, 2nd Peter 1:19, Psalm 110 (in the Septuagint!)) 
    So, although in Babylon, the king of the Gods, Marduk, was associated with 
    Jupiter, the tradition of the king-maker goddess Ishtar was extremely 
    influential in the whole middle east. Venus is a perfect candidate for the 
    star of a king.
    As for Hellenistic astrology, Vettius Valens in his Anthology 1.1 says that 
    Venus is not only connected with love, desire, and arts, but also with 
    priestly rites and gold and "the wearing of crowns". However, I agree that 
    the Hellenistic Venus does not have much to do anymore with war and kingship.
    My book about all of this is temporarily downloadable from: 
    Dieter Koch
    [Sent from archive by: artizarrak-AT-yahoo.com]
    Navigation List archive: www.fer3.com/arc
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