The Hebrew term that the King James translators understood to be the brilliant star Arcturus, the fourth brightest star in sky, is עַיִשׁ ˓ayiš. In Mesopotamia, it was linked to the god Enlil, the leader of the Babylonian pantheon, and was also known as Shudun in Sumerian (Akkadian niru), “the Yoke” that is in the constellation Boötes.[i] This derives from one of the earliest known sources for the zodiac constellations known as MUL.APIN, an ancient Babylonian compendium dealing with many diverse aspects of astronomy and astrology. Written in cuneiform on a collection of clay tablets, the MUL.APIN includes more than two hundred astronomical observations. By accounting for the observed positions in the sky, this ancient work has been dated to 1,370 BC, give or take a century, by Brad Schaefer, an astronomer at Louisiana State University.
In classical Greek mythology, the constellation Boötes is identified with Arcas, the son of Zeus and Callisto, a virgin nymph raped by Zeus.[ii] Due to Zeus’ infidelity, Arcas was brought up in secret by his maternal grandfather, Lycaon. One day Zeus paid a visit to Lycaon and his son to have a meal. In order to verify that his guest was truly the king of the gods, Lycaon murdered his grandson and served him for dinner. Zeus became enraged at the cannibalistic ruse, resurrected his son Arcas, and transformed Lycaon into a wolf. In the meantime, the violated nymph, Callisto, had been transformed into a she-bear by Zeus’ jealous wife, Hera. This is corroborated by the Greek name for the constellation, Boötes, which is Arctophylax, meaning “Bear Watcher.”
Later, Callisto, in form of a bear, was almost killed by her son, Arcas, who was out hunting. Zeus rescued her and took her into the sky where she became the constellation Ursa Major, “the Great Bear.” Accordingly, the name Arcturus (the constellation’s brightest star) comes from the Greek word meaning “guardian of the bear.” This is an interesting correlation because modern English Bible translations render the Hebrew ˓ayiš as “the Bear” which is Ursa Major or the Great Bear associated with Callisto. Adjacent to Boötes, this constellation is widely observed as part of the Big Dipper.
The Latin Vulgate and the Original Revelation
Eusebius Hieronymus Sophronius, better known as Saint Jerome (347–420), is the patron Saint of translators in the Roman Catholic religion. Living in the fourth century, his Vulgate translation is responsible for many theological errors. One particularly egregious translation error endowed Moses with horns based on Exodus 34:29: “And when Moses came down from the mount Sinai, he held the two tables of the testimony, and he knew not that his face was horned from the conversation of the Lord.” This is because Jerome mistook the Hebrew קָרַן which means “radiant” in the Qal stem as the Hiphal stem indicating horns. This translation error led to various depictions of a rather demonic looking horned Moses within Roman Catholicism.
Let’s return to the text, “Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? Or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?”(Job 38:32). Quite astonishingly, Jerome rendered the term “Mazzaroth” as Lucifer: The Vulgate reads,“Numquid producis Luciferum in tempore suo et vesperum super filios terrae consurgere facis.”[iii] Of course, because Lucifer also means “morning star,” an alternate name for Venus, Jerome likely had in mind a contrast between the morning and evening star. But Jerome’s misunderstanding of the Hebrew yields an unexpected coincidence in light of recent astronomical developments. Indeed, a viable English translation of the Vulgate reads:
Can you bring forth Lucifer in its time?
And make the evening star rise upon the children of the earth?
While LUCIFER is the acronym for the infrared instrument in use at the Mt. Graham Observatory complex, the evening star would either be Arcturus, the guardian of the bear in the Boötes constellation, or the Great Bear herself, the constellation Ursla Major. While both host a plurality of alien worlds, it is intriguing that amongst the many uninhabitable gas giants and frozen spherical wastelands, astronomers have recently discovered potentially life-encouraging worlds.
One of the closest exoplanets known also happens to be in the Boötes constellation. The planet, Tau Boötis b, was one of the first exoplanets to be discovered back in 1996. Boasting a mass six times that of Jupiter, it is called a “hot Jupiter” because its temperature is a hellish 2,420 Fahrenheit! Of course, the planet would be unsuitable for life as we know it, and like other gaseous planets, would have no solid surface to contain seas for a watery, life-supporting medium. The gargantuan planet was dubbed the “Millennium Planet” because it was thought to be the first visually discovered exoplanet.[iv]
A much more promising candidate in the constellation Boötes is exoplanet “HD 136418 b.” This extrasolar planet orbits the G-type star, “HD 136418,” which is remarkably similar in temperature to our sun. Additionally, it has a most promising orbit, staying within the known habitable (or “Goldilocks”) zone within a comparable range between Earth and Mars in our solar system. Its orbit is 464.3 days, making for a longer year than Earth, but this is extraordinarily analogous to our own by exoplanet standards. Listed as potentially habitable, this planet is a leading candidate in astrobiological research.[v] While HD 136418 b represents the best that the home constellation of the Bear’s Guardian has to offer, the Great Bear herself offers otherworldly promise.
The Great Bear constellation hosts a plurality of extraterrestrial worlds. The star 47 Ursae Majoris is a sun-like star with a three-planet system. The exoplanet, 47 Ursae Majoris B, was discovered in 1996, orbits every 1078 days and is 2.53 times the mass of Jupiter.[vi] It is considered somewhat promising by astrobiologists because it orbits its parent star at a distance where liquid water may still exist. Even more interesting is that being twice as massive as Jupiter, it may have Earth-sized moons holding liquid water.
This adds intrigue to the current use by astronomers at Mt. Graham International Observatory to employ the LUCIFER device in hopes of finding ancient “aliens” and perhaps even the original home of the Fallen Star. Is there a time when he is to be brought forth and introduced to the world as a savior in the form of an intergalactic wise man? Evidence suggests the original legends of mythology were preceded by a belief in “the God” (Yahweh to the Hebrews) as the Creator of all things and the “ruler of heaven.” Yet, later, Satan was described as “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), and the prince of the “air” (Ephesians 2:2). A fascinating struggle between the “ruler of the heavens” versus the “power of the air” occurred in early Sumerian mythology after Enki, the god of wisdom and water, created the human race out of clay. It appears that Anu, who was at first the most powerful of the Sumerian gods and the “ruler of the heavens,” was superseded in power and popularity by Enlil, the “god of the air.” To the Christian mind, this is perceived as nothing less than Satan, the god of the air, continuing his pretense to the throne of God and his usurpation of Yahweh—“the Lord of the heavens.” It also indicates a corruption of the Original Revelation and perhaps an effort on the part of Satan to trick pagan Sumerians into perceiving him as the “supreme” god (above the God of heaven) and therefore worthy of adoration. Correspondingly, in the Enuma elish (a Babylonian epic), Marduk, the great god of the city of Babylon, was exalted above the benevolent gods and extolled as the creator of the world. Marduk was depicted as a human but symbolized as a dragon (as is Satan in Revelation 12:9) called the Muscrussu, and his legend appears to contain several distortions of the important elements of the biblical account of Creation. The Adapa Epic tells of another Babylonian legend that is also roughly equivalent to the Genesis account of Creation. In it, Adapa, like Adam, underwent a test on food consumption, failed the test, and forfeited his opportunity for immortality. As a result of the failure, suffering and death were passed along to humanity. Finally, the Epic of Gilgamesh is a Sumerian poem, which, like the Adapa Epic, is also connected to ancient Assyrian and Babylonian mythology. In 1872, George Smith discovered the Gilgamesh tablets while doing research on the Assyrian library of Ashurbanipal at the British Museum. Because of the strong similarity to the biblical account of Noah and the Great Flood, Bible scholars have viewed the Gilgamesh epic with interest (and suspicion) since discovery. As the legend goes, Gilgamesh, the king of the city of Uruk, was told about the Flood from his immortal friend, Utnapishtim (the Sumerian equivalent of Noah). Utnapishtim described for Gilgamesh how the great god Enlil decided to destroy all of mankind because of its “noisy” sins. A plague was sent, but failed to persuade mankind of better behavior, and, consequently, the gods determined a complete extermination of the human race. Enki, the lord of the waters, was not happy with the other gods for this decision and warned Utnapishtim of the coming deluge, instructing him to tear down his house and build a great boat. Utnapishtim obeyed Enki, built a great vessel, and sealed it with pitch and bitumen. The family of Utnapishtim loaded onto the boat together with various beasts and fowl. When the rains came, the doors were closed and the vessel rose above the waters. Like Noah, Utnapishtim sent out a dove, and later a swallow, to search for dry land. They both returned. Later, a raven was released and it never came back. After several more days, the boat came to rest on the top of a mountain, where Utnapishtim built an altar and offered a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the gods. As the gods smelled the sweet offering, all but Enlil repented for sending the flood.
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The Web of Deception Gets Deeper
But isn’t it true that the Sumerian tablets predate the Hebrew Bible? Yes, they are older, but the veracity of both traditions presupposes the Sumerian anteceding the Mosaic. Plainly, they both speak to the same Flood, but the Babylonian traditions hold that their pre-Flood stories were buried at Sippar and later recovered.[vii] In contrast, the Hebrews believed their accounting went back to Noah, who preserved the antediluvian material. Thus, we should expect the Sumerian tablets to be older. Because the Flood was an actual historic event, it follows that both cultures share a common memory. Even so, the Hebrew Bible presents a more realistic account with a seaworthy ark design, one that has proven to be immensely stable. In contrast, the four-sided tub described by the Sumerians is hardly seaworthy. While the existence of similarities is beyond dispute, the charge of plagiarism is no longer accepted by modern scholarship. The peoples of the ancient Near East shared a common history and worldview. One would expect similarities, given the patriarch Abraham was from Ur and the Israelites were held captive in Babylon just prior to the Hebrew Bible’s completion. Even so, ancient astronaut theorists, relying on the discredited Sumerian translations by Zecharia Sitchin, lead many people astray.
Sitchin promotes the canard that the Hebrew Bible was derived from the Sumerian tablets, which are records of human origins involving the Anunnaki, a race of extraterrestrials from a planet beyond Neptune called Nibiru. In truth, his theory concerning the origin of the Hebrew Scripture is traceable to a 1902 lecture, “Babel and Bible,” by a German scholar Friedrich Delitzsch. He was an early proponent of the idea that the Genesis Creation account and Flood history were borrowed from the ancient Babylonians. Like Sitchin, Delitzsch concluded that not only was the Sumerian religion and culture older than that of the Israelites, it was superior.[viii] In a later book, he wrote:
The so-called “Old Testament” is entirely dispensable for the Christian church, and thereby also for the Christian family. It would be a great deal better for us to immerse ourselves from time to time in the deep thoughts, which our German intellectual heroes have thought concerning God, eternity, and immortality.[ix]
One detects a diabolic intelligence attacking the Original Revelation as this unholy union of German nationalism and anti-Semitism fueled the rise of the Third Reich. Conveniently, the Sumerian tales were retrofitted to the Aryan mythology of the Nazis based on dubious connections to Sanskrit writings in the Vedas. In fact, although he is Jewish, most of Sitchin’s ideas about the Hebrew Bible are demonstrably based on this sort of anti-Semitic German higher criticism. Interestingly, much of this German higher criticism is accepted by the Vatican.
The Vatican theologian Monsignor Corrado Balducci, famous for his assertion that UFOs are extraterrestrials visiting the Earth, met with Zecharia Sitchin in April 2000 at a conference themed “The Mystery of Human Existence” held in Bellaria, Italy. According to Sitchin, they agreed on three principal points: 1) Extraterrestrials can and do exist on other planets; 2) They are more advanced than us; 3) Man could have been fashioned by them from a preexisting sentient being.[x] This agreement is especially problematic, given Sitchin’s belief that humanity was created as a slave race for advanced extraterrestrials whom the Sumerians called the Anunnaki and the Hebrews called the Nephilim. As Sitchin spins it, these ETs visited our planet around three hundred thousand years ago to genetically engineer Earth’s hominids, “the Adam,” into the first Homo sapiens, modern man.[xi] There are numerous problems with Sitchin’s theories.
Paramount, the biblical text does not support the notion that the Nephilim had anything to do with the creation of Adam. In fact, it is the Nephilim who are the products—not the instigators—of hybridization. Scholarly sources affirm the Nephilim were “a group of antediluvians who were the product of the union of the sons of God (hā˒ĕlōhı̂m) with the daughters of humans (hā˒ādām).”[xii] Even so, Sitchin has written that Nephilim means “those who came down from above” or “those who descended to Earth” and, even more incredible, “people of the fiery rockets.”[xiii] Of course, these translations support his ET mythology, but no credentialed scholar approves. He begins with a common assumption that Nephilim derives from the Hebrew root naphal, meaning “to fall.” This commonly held theory leads to the meaning “fallen ones.” Even so, he goes further, pounding a square peg into a round hole, imposing the meaning “to come down” rather than “fall,” manufacturing his “to come down from above” translation. It’s also notable that Sitchin holds no pertinent academic credentials, neither as a linguist nor in Semitic languages. However, his arch nemesis Michael Heiser holds a PhD in Hebrew and Semitic studies as well as an MA in ancient history.
Following Heiser’s lead, morphology is the study of word forms and, as it turns out, even the starting point, naphal (“to fall”), is a poor choice, given Hebrew morphology. According to Heiser, “In the form we find it in the Hebrew Bible, if the word Nephilim came from Hebrew naphal, it would not be spelled as we find it. The form Nephilim cannot mean ‘fallen ones’ (the spelling would then be nephulim). Likewise Nephilim does not mean ‘those who fall’ or ‘those who fall away’ (that would be nophelim).”[xiv] However, as suggested by Heiser and renowned German scholar Hermann Gunkel, there is an Aramaic term npylʾ, meaning “giant,” which works with the morphology and is also suggested by the context of the passages (Genesis 6:4; Num. 13:33).[xv] For instance, “And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:33). The grasshopper comparison makes sense in light of them being unusually large. The Authorized King James Version gets this correct. This understanding is further supported by translation into Greek gigantes (“giant”) in the Septuagint and by several passages in the Dead Sea Scrolls.[xvi] It seems that Sitchin’s translation is a product of his own imagination and circular reasoning. Finally, the Anunnaki are represented as divine beings in the Sumerian texts, roughly equivalent to the “sons of God” in the Hebrew Bible. There is simply no justification from either the Sumerian or Hebrew texts to support Sitchin’s notion that, “It is modern Man as we know him that the Nefilim created.”[xvii] Nearly all of his fanciful notions are debunked at Heiser’s website: www.SitchinIsWrong.com. It seems beyond dispute that Sitchin laid a minefield of false ideas sowing the seeds of strong delusion.
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[i]“SHUDUN,” Star Catalog , last accessed January 9, 2013, http://www.astronomy.pomona.edu/archeo/outside/starlog.html.
[iii]Holy Bible, Latin Vulgate Translation (Joseph Kreifels), 510.
[iv] Steve Connor, “Scientists Catch the ‘Millennium Planet’s Glow,” The Independent, December 16, 1999, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/scientists-catch-the-millennium-planets-glow-1132737.html. Also see: “Tau Boötis b,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, last modified January 2, 2013, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tau_Bo%C3%B6tis_b.
List of stars in Boötes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_stars_in_Bo%C3%B6tes
[v] For more information on planet profile, see: “HD 136418 b,” NASA, last accessed January 11, 2013, http://exep.jpl.nasa.gov/atlas/atlas_profile.cfm?Planet=593. The TutorGig Encyclopedia lists this planet as potentially habitable here: “Habitable Zone,” The TutorGig Encyclopedia, last accessed January 11, 2013, http://www.tutorgigpedia.com/ed/Habitable_zone.
[vii] John Walton, Ancient Israelite Literature in Its Cultural Context (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 40.
[viii] Bill T. Arnold and David B. Weisberg, “Babel und Bibel und Bias: How Anti-Semitism Distorted Friedrich Delitzsch’s Scholarship,” Bible Review, 18:01 (Biblical Archaeology Society, 2004; 2004).
[ix] Friedrich Delitzsch, Die Grosse Täuschung (The Great Deception) as quoted in Arnold and Weisberg, “Babel und Bibel und Bias” Bible Review 18:01.
[xi] Zecharia Sitchin, The 12th Planet (the Earth Chronicles, Book 1) (New York: Harper Collins, 1999), 341.
[xii]David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 4:1072 (New York: Doubleday, 1996, c1992).
[xiii] Zecharia Sitchin, The 12th Planet, vii, 128ff.
[xiv] Michael S. Heiser, “The Nephilim,” Sitchin is Wrong, last accessed December 5, 2012, http://www.sitchiniswrong.com/nephilim/nephilim.htm.
[xv] Heiser, “The Nephilim,” and H. Gunkel, Genesis (Göttingen 1910) 58–59. (See: http://books.google.com/books?id=-ZtH3hbGITkC&lpg=PP1&ots=QvCiOAVLUP&dq=inauthor%3A%22Hermann%20Gunkel%22&pg=PA58#v=onepage&q&f=false.)
[xvi] P. W. Coxon, “Nephilim” in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, 2nd ed. Edited by K. van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter Willem van der Horst (Leiden; Boston; Grand Rapids, MI: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999), 619.
[xvii] Zecharia Sitchin, The 12th Planet, 341.