Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Star Myths in the Bible: The Prophet Elisha

Special thanks to reader Pat B, who sent me a comment via the Undying Stars page on Facebook and asked if I could discuss my take on the verse from sacred scripture found in 2 Kings 2:24, which reads as follows in the so-called "King James" version (which follows closely on the wording found in the earlier Geneva translation):
And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.
Above is a video I made in which I discuss some of the episodes described in the book of Second Kings, including the notorious incident of the two bears.

For those who might be upset to find a prophet of God sending two bears to tear apart children just because they appear to have been mocking him (and specifically mocking his bald head), fear not: I believe there are good and cogent reasons to believe that this specific incident, like so many others in ancient myth (including the ancient myth in the Hebrew scriptures of the Old Testament) was never intended to be understood literally. This episode can be demonstrated to be a "star myth," following the common pattern of celestial metaphor which underlies virtually all of the world's sacred traditions.

The two she-bears described in the text are undoubtedly the groupings Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, which we commonly know as the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper (technically speaking, the Big Dipper is only a sub-set of the complete constellation of Ursa Major).

I initially thought that Elisha in this passage would likely correspond to the constellation of Bootes the Herdsman, who is located quite close to the Big Dipper (his "pipe" that he appears to be smoking nearly touches the handle of the Big Dipper). The constellation Bootes has a very bulbous, round-looking head, which would certainly seem to correspond to the taunts of the children found in 2 Kings 2:23, in which they mock Elisha by saying, "Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head." You can see how round the head of Bootes is by going back to the earlier discussion of the Greek myth of Atlas and Heracles (or Hercules), in which Atlas probably corresponds to Bootes.

However, upon closer examination of the passages leading up to the incident of the two bears, as well as some of the other episodes in the life of Elisha, I believe that Elisha actually corresponds to an even more important figure in the sky: the zodiac sign of Aquarius. The video above provides the argument and illustrates the correspondence using images from both Stellarium.org and the browser-based Neave Planetarium. The illustration of Elisha looking on as the two bears tear apart some of the hapless children is from a 1463 manuscript which can be seen on Wikimedia commons here.

There are discussions in previous posts demonstrating similar celestial correspondences in more than twenty other myths and sacred stories from around the world -- for a list containing many of those, see this previous post. In particular, viewers of the above video who are new to this subject may be interested in reviewing previous discussions which show the importance of the Virgo-Bootes pairing in mythology, including the discussion of Suttung and Gunnlod from Norse myth, Loki and Freya from Norse myth, Loki and Sif from Norse myth (same post previously linked for Loki and Freya), the Old Man and his Daughter in North American sacred tradition, and the evidence suggesting that Abram and Sarai (Abraham and Sarah) represent the same two constellations discussed towards the end of this post.

This examination of the episodes in the life of the prophet Elisha is just another example of the assertion made by the Reverend Robert Taylor (1784 - 1844), who argued that it is not necessarily the literal interpretation of the text which gives true reverence to the ancient sacred scriptures of humanity (see, for instance, his Astronomico-Theological Lectures, and the discussions on page 343, page 353, or page 209). 

In fact, in this case, reading the passage literally leads to a rather abhorrent conclusion: that a prophet of the Highest sent ferocious bears to rend forty-two children who mocked him. And, since most orthodox theology would hold that even a prophet could not accomplish such a feat without the actual active intervention of the one whom he serves, a literal reading of this text would indicate that it was not really the prophet who sent those two bears to attack the children who mocked Elisha.

Thus, we come to understand more deeply the assertion of Alvin Boyd Kuhn, when he said: "the sacred scriptures of the world are a thousand times more precious as myths than as alleged history" (Lost Light, 24; italics in the original).

image: Aquarius, as outlined by H.A. Rey, from a screen-shot of Stellarium (I added the yellow outline using the H.A. Rey system, which is different from the outline found on Stellarium and Neave). Note that Aquarius is rising in the east head-downwards -- this is important for understanding the clues found in the ancient star-myths.