The biblical message is quite unequivocal and resolute:
When you look up to the heavens and see
the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven,
do not be led astray and bow down to them and serve them. (Deuteronomy 4:19)
Worship of heavenly bodies and any astrology were forbidden.
But then the prophet Isaiah (40:26) takes us in an exactly opposite direction:
Lift up your eyes on high and see.
Who created all of that?
The one who brings out the host (of stars) in full number,
calling them all by name;
because of his great strength and mighty power,
not a single one is missing.
On the surface it all looks quite orthodox. It looks just like a lovely celebration of the Creator of the splendid and awesome night sky. No problem, no conflict there, until .... Until we realize that the prophet describes biblical god with well known attributes of the Moon god - Yarikh (also transliterated as Yarih, Jarich or Jarikh).
Behind the prophet’s words was the mythical image of the Moon god leading out each evening the flock of stars like a shepherd - that would be the peaceful version of that mythical image - or like a king leading his heavenly army to war - that would be a more bellicose image.
And so there is no doubt, Isaiah is not the only instance in the Bible quoting this old myth. The same mythical image appears also in Psalm 147:
The LORD determines the number of the stars;
God calls all of them out by their names.
In Isaiah or in the Psalm the Moon God Yarikh is never mentioned by name, but YHWH is eloquently described as the moon god. And that is not a lunacy. There clearly was a time when the Hebrew god was merged and fused with the Moon god Yarikh and took over many of his attributes and functions. And this Biblical fusion of biblical god YHWH with the Moon god Yarikh is something you might not know about the Bible!
This Sunday we will observe what it might mean for our faith. Not a lunacy! But rather we can draw inspiration from our predecessors and ancestors, take it as encouragement to seek justice in our own turbulent times, and draw encouragement and hope for the future generations.
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