The Stars and the Israelite/Jewish Festivals

Notable in the precision of the Ballet of the heavens is the coordination of the various conjunctions to the Israelite/Jewish festival year.   All the special days commanded by Jehovah of His People are accounted for.  This in itself is fascinating, because if the conjunctions were a month or a half year earlier or later, then the Ballet would fade into the background of merely interesting phenomena.  However, it is the link with the festivals that adds content and meaning to what is happening both in the sky and on the earth.

There are six conjunctions of particular interest in this Ballet of Creation: in the King Constellation, Leo, a masculine (morning star) Venus joins with the “new King” (deity) Jupiter on August 12, 3 BC; because of the trick of perspective called “retrograde motion,” Jupiter then meets Leo’s King Star Regulus on September 14, 3 BC, February 17, 2 BC, and May 8, 2 BC; for the fifth conjunction, the now feminine (evening star) Venus meets Jupiter at an extraordinarily close (4 arc seconds) distance on June 17, 2 BC; and then in Virgo the masculine Venus meets yet another time with Jupiter on October 14, 2 BC.

The first conjunction happens on the first day of the month Elul, the month whose theme reflects John the Baptist’s cry, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand! … ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.’” [Matthew 3:2-3].

In the Jewish tradition, the month of Elul is a time of repentance in preparation for the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. … Elul is seen as a time to search one’s heart and draw close to God in preparation for the coming Day of Judgement, Rosh Hashanah, and Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. [Wiki]

Then when the Moon again becomes new (“New Mother”), the month Tishri starts and Rosh HaShanah (September  10, 3 BC) is celebrated.  Rosh HaShanah has a large variety of associations: it is the birthday of the world, the anniversary of the renewal of the earth after the Noah’s Flood; it is the “pre-anniversary” of Judgment Day; it is the Day of Trumpets that celebrate the crowning of kings, but especially of “The King”; it is “the Last Trump” of three special trumpet days.  On the second day of Rosh HaShanah, Revelation 12:1-2’s description of the woman clothed with the Sun happens as the Sun is in mid Virgo and the Moon is at her feet for two hours.

Rosh HaShanah also begins The Ten Days of Repentance, a sort of mini-Lenten period, and the Sabbath that falls within this time is called The Sabbath of the Return, recalling Hosea 14:1’s cry, “Shuvah YisraelReturn, O Israel, to the Lord your God”, and when God Himself “will turn again, He will have compassion upon us” [Micah 7:18-20].  In 3 BC, that Sabbath is on September 14 – the day when Jupiter first joins Regulus.  

The Ten Days are concluded on Yom Kippur The Day of Atonement and the second special trumpet day, The Great Trump.  Five days later is Sukkoth, The Festival of the Booths, where each family is commanded to live in a flimsy structure for seven days to commemorate the “return” from Egypt to the Promised Land.  In Genesis, when Jacob builds stables for his animals, they are called Sukkoth – so the family lives in what could also be called a stable, and a tradition is that the family are visited each night by one of the seven shepherds of Israel: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David.
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February 17, 2 BC is the Feast of Purim.  Although God did not command this feast, it celebrates how one who had designed the destruction of God’s People was himself destroyed at should have been his moment of triumph.  It is hard to miss how this reflects the cross of Jesus, where Satan was seemingly winning until the death of Jesus destroyed his power.

The third meeting of Jupiter and Regulus is on the day of Pentecost – the festival of harvest and the commemoration of when Israel stood at the foot of Mount Sinai and became the nation of God’s People.  In the New Testament, it is also the beginning of the new “nation” of God’s New Testament People.

The fifth conjunction is the second (now feminine) Venus-Jupiter meeting after sundown of June 17, 24 hours later begins Tammuz 17 – the day Moses descends Mount Sinai to discover Israel worshipping the golden calf and the beginning of the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem.  In seventy-two years, this day will mark the beginning of the destruction of Herod’s Temple and of Jerusalem.  Why the feminine Venus?  Because the now born Jesus is at the breast of Mary, and this is the day of the Circumcision and Name Day of Jesus.

The sixth conjunction, the third between (again masculine) Venus and Jupiter occurs in Virgo and although there is no festival in the neighborhood of this day, quite possibly it is the trigger that sends the Magi on their way.  Jupiter continues on and then stops in its first leg of a retrograde motion on December 25, fulfilling Matthew’s description of how the star “stood” over the place where the young child was.

The only commanded festival not covered for the birth of Jesus is Passover, and that is the subject of the next blog.

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