#1 In the Beginning
Welcome to our first exploration of the Mazzaroth and its mysteries. Today, we'll explore what the heavens mean. Then we'll explore some basic astronomy and useful tools to understand what we need to know about the heavens in order to serve our Messiah and follow his Torah. Without further ado, thank you for joining, and let's dive in!
What are the heavens?
"In the beginning, Elohim created the heavens and the Earth," (Bereshit 1:1). Our Father's first words point us towards Elohim, the earth, and the heavens as starting points in our life journey of revelation. The word utilized here for heavens is "shamayim," which is composed of two distinct roots: "sham," (שָׁם) which means "there," and "mayim," (מַיִם) which means "water." This quite literally translates to "there is water," but what does that tell us about the heavens and what they encompass? Firstly, it is important to note that "heavens" in the scriptures refer to what we call the sky, the atmosphere, the outer space of the universe, and the dwelling place of Elohim and his heavenly cohort. Therefore, the etymological definition of heavens cannot be referring only to water as rain. What is it denoting then?
In Noah's story in Genesis 7:11, the flood comes from the "springs" of the "abyss," the latter being related to eternal sea waters and deep waters. Additionally, the flood enters through an opening in the heavens - where "there is water." "... on that day all the fountains (springs) of the great deep (abyss) burst forth, and the windows of the heavens (shamayim) were opened." While many read that the great deep or abyss refers to water springing up from the depths of the earth, I pose that it refers to the water above the heavens or the universe. Water may have broken through the fabric of the abyss, entering the heavens through some sort of opening or window. This interpretation of the great deep stems from Genesis 1:2, where Yah hovers over the waters of the deep before the creation of the heavens and the earth; Genesis 1:7 outlines the separation of the waters to form the expanse that Yah calls heaven, and Genesis 1:9-10 recalls the formation of the earth and the waters contained within it. This may also be proven by the origin of the water. Since rain forms in the lowest layers of the atmosphere, this negates the idea that the water that broke forth from the heavens was ordinary rain.
How to look at the heavens?
It is apparent that Yah uses various analogies and metaphors for us to understand the heavens, but his focus on water in shamayim's etymology is important on a variety of levels. Firstly, it grounds us in reality, as we can experience water and its layered meanings in everyday life. Secondly, it directs our understanding or paradigm of the Mazzaroth as you'll see in future posts. For example, the Aquarius constellation showing a water bearer, or any other figure in the heavens, represent carriers or messengers and should not be seen as figures for idolatry (this will be explored in further posts). Thirdly it proves that the word shamayim encompasses outer space (Gen 1:7). Thus, the shamayim includes all the celestial bodies, planets, moons, black holes, neutron stars, and all other awe-inspiring phenomena up there.
Now that we have a basis for studying the sky, what do the scriptures say about the heavens? Common belief poses that they were made to show us signs and seasons (Gen 1:14). Although this is true for stars and other bright objects, it might not be inclusive of other astronomical objects that might not emit as much light. Now, for the most part, the Mazzaroth and other objects in the sky are useful for signs and seasons, but it is important to remark on the exclusivity of this statement, as other objects are not necessarily for signs and seasons. Take for example some nebulae and deep sky objects which are completely invisible to the naked eye. What are those for if we can't see them without telescopes?
Signs and Seasons
Having said that, let's explore what Scripture requires from you astronomically. The only activity required to keep the Torah is observing the new moon to keep a biblical calendar. This can be done by keeping an app on your phone like "Moon Phase," which shows you the current state of the moon in your location. You can also familiarize yourself with the moon phases by looking at the sky, though physical barriers don't always allow for that. Aside from becoming familiar with the phases of the moon, the app will let you know when a new moon will likely occur. It is important to note that the scriptural new moon that begins a lunar month hinges on the observation of the waxing crescent moon, rather than the astronomical new moon which is completely void of light. This differs by a couple of days from the astronomical new moon and it will facilitate your spotting. I normally go out to observe the moon when my app indicates at least 3% illumination of the moon. Now, to observe the moon you will need to know where the moon is, and to do that you can use an app such as Stellarium or Skyview, Sky Guide, etc. With these apps, you can point your phone to the sky and find the location of the moon. Be careful with this method as your phone hardware could be badly calibrated. You can also familiarize yourself with the ecliptic plane, the path that the Sun, Moon, and planets follow. To do this you will need to learn some constellations and how to identify them to follow the ecliptic. Stay tuned for some videos on how to do that. At last, we arrive at the Mazzaroth.
The Mazzaroth is a Hebrew word for which we do not know the true meaning. Despite this lack of knowledge, we believe it refers to the 12 constellations that traverse the ecliptic plane, the path that the Sun, Moon, and Planets follow through our night sky. It is also believed that it refers to groups of constellations in the sky in general, but I personally believe it refers to the ancient knowledge that is written in the heavens, and as such, this whole blog will be dedicated to exploring astronomy to reveal how to serve Yah better. You could say the Mazzaroth is astronomy for believers of Yeshua. We do not believe in soothsaying, reading the future, or anything else of that sort. I like science, logic, and reason, and I cherish wisdom. So keep Yah's commandments and live.
We have not covered other astronomical events or even started to glimpse at the constellation of the heavens, but we must first keep the commandments close and be open to explore such secondary matters. So, please start by wrestling with the ideas posed in this first revelation. Question what I've written. Seek, and you shall find. Search out a matter and honor will be added unto you. Do, then know. I hope you can join me on this amazing journey. Shalom.