The crossing of the Red Sea

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

In order to explore some of the evidence that the Red Sea episode is based on the celestial cycles and constellations, we must understand the important "zodiac wheel," which depicts the cycle of the year using the background of the twelve zodiac signs within which the sun successively appears to rise each morning on the eastern horizon as we progress throughout our annual circuit (for some visual discussion of what causes this, see the "dining room table" analogy depicted in this video I made some years back).

This annual circuit, with its backdrop of the twelve zodiac signs, is conveniently divided into four quarters by the important "station points" of the two solstices and the two equinoxes (numerous previous posts have tried to illustrate the mechanics behind these four points using various metaphors -- one metaphor I find to be helpful is the "earth-ship metaphor" described in this post).

Previous posts have already discussed the evidence that this ancient world-wide system of celestial metaphor often depicted the equinox points, where the sun's ecliptic path crosses back above the celestial equator during the day (initiating the half of the year in which days are longer than nights) and back down below the celestial equator during the day (initiating the half of the year in which days are shorter than nights) as places of sacrifice -- see for example this postthis post, and the discussion of the sacrifice or near-sacrifice of Iphigenia discussed on pages 34 through 37 in the online preview chapters from my book, The Undying Stars). 

In those stories of sacrifice, which contain clues to indicate that they pertain to one or the other of the equinoxes, there is almost always a direction mentioned: the sacrifice is at a crossing going up (the spring equinox) or at a crossing going down (the fall equinox). Is it possible that the crossing of the Red Sea, in which the ancient scriptures tell us that Moses led the children of Israel up out of Egypt,* also represents an equinoctial crossing? I believe there is good evidence to suggest that this is the case.

Below is the zodiac wheel, with the two crossing points of the equinoxes marked with a red "X" at each equinox point. The horizontal dividing line separates the "lower half" of the year -- from the fall equinox through winter and then back to the spring equinox, the half of the year when days are shorter than nights -- from the "upper half" of the year, which stretches from the spring equinox up through the summer solstice and then back down to the fall equinox at the other "X":

It can be demonstrated rather conclusively that the start of the year among many ancient cultures, including the ancient Hebrews, was associated with the point of crossing of the spring equinox (the "X" located on the left side of the wheel as laid out above). Thus, the zodiac sign that metaphorically could be said to "lead" all the other signs (the zodiac sign at the "start-point" of the circular train of signs) would be the one who was "leading" across that "starting line" at the spring equinox (the "left-side X" in the diagram).

In the wheel above, which depicts the Age of Aries, that leader is the zodiac constellation of Aries the Ram (you can see that it is the first sign "above the line" at the left of the diagram, at the equinox crossing-up point). This is the sign who leads the "children of Israel" (the other eleven signs) up "out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage." In this version of the metaphor, the lower half of the year, the wintery half of the year, the half of the year in which the forces of darkness oppress the forces of light, is allegorized as the land of Egypt, "the house of bondage." In other myths, this lower half is allegorized as Hades, or Tartaros, or Sheol, or the land of Troy in the Iliad of Homer, and many other depictions in many different cultures.

Thus, Moses can be seen as playing the role of Aries the Ram in this particular story, leading his people up out of bondage (the lower half of the wheel) and making the upward crossing at the spring equinox over to the other side, where there is much rejoicing (days once again becoming longer than nights). Further evidence to support this reading can be found later, at the incident of the golden calf (Exodus 32), when Aaron the brother of Moses makes the idol of a bull-calf and tells the people that "These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt" (Exodus 32:4). Moses is furious at this declaration: Taurus the Bull is not the leader of the zodiac band: the precessional Age of Taurus preceded the Age of Aries, but it is over and now the declaration that the bull led them up out of Egypt is infuriating to Moses.

Further confirmation that this entire episode is metaphorical and based upon the zodiac wheel comes from an examination of the chariots and horsemen that the Exodus account is very careful to describe as being destroyed by the sea. The actual crossing of the Red Sea is described in Exodus 14, and in verses 18 and 19 the Egyptian army is twice described in identical terms, as consisting of "Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen," as if we are to be very clear that horses are present. But this emphasis on the host of chariots and horsemen, as the Reverend Robert Taylor (1784 - 1844) points out in his Astronomico-Theological Lectures (see especially 393-394), creates a significant problem for those who take the Exodus account as intending to depict literal terrestrial events, because in Exodus 9 just a few chapters before, God declared in no uncertain terms to Moses to tell Pharaoh that the next plague visited upon Egypt would be upon "thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep" (Exodus 9:3), and that on the next morrow "all the cattle of Egypt died: but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one" (verse 6).

It is possible, of course, to argue that the plague promised only sickened the horses of Egypt and did not kill them all, but even so it is rather astonishing to see the mighty armies of Pharaoh which pursue Moses and the children of Israel so full of chariots and horses -- unlessthe entire story is describing the celestial cycles involving the zodiac wheel and not a literal and historic event that took place on the earth.

Also, the following plague described in Exodus 9:19 and following -- the plague of hail -- would seem to be designed to kill off any remaining beasts from Egypt that were not killed by the previous plague just described. There, God tells Moses to have the children of Israel bring their beasts out of the fields, because when the plague of hail comes, "every man and beast which shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die" (Exodus 9:19). Between these two plagues, it is difficult to argue that many horses would be left in Egypt, and even if there were some left, they would hardly be in a condition to swell a mighty army to pursue Moses.

Again, however, this is only a problem if the event is not a metaphor -- and the evidence outside of this story, from many, many other stories within the Bible itself and from myth around the globe all argue that it is.

Now, we might ask ourselves: if the event actually is a heavenly metaphor, then why would there be such an emphasis upon there being horses and chariots in the army that is "left behind" to be buried at the bottom of the sea, when the children of Israel led by Moses "cross over" (or up) to the other side?

Following the analysis of Robert Taylor, I believe the answer can be found if we look again at the zodiac wheel, and at the very bottom of the lower half of the year (the half which I believe -- in this particular metaphorical telling -- represents the oppressive forces of Pharaoh) you will see the sign of Sagittarius, positioned at one side of the winter solstice point, the very lowest point on the entire zodiac wheel.

Sagittarius is a horseman, and archer (sometimes a centaur) -- and just as the Ram is crossing up over the horizontal line towards the "promised land" of longer days and the rule of light over darkness, Sagittarius is left below at the very bottom of the year: in fact, at the very bottom of the sea.

Further support for this interpretation is provided by the actions of Miriam the sister of Aaron, after the safe crossing is accomplished. In Exodus 15:20 and following, we are told that she "took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and dances," and sang that the LORD had triumphed gloriously, and "the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea" (Exodus 15:20 - 21). The text is here giving us a very strong hint that Miriam in this case is played by the important zodiac constellation of Virgo, whose constellation actually includes a faint circular disc of stars which is allegorized in ancient myth in many ways, but sometimes as a "timbrel" or "tambourine" (see discussion here).

If you look again at the zodiac wheel, you can see why Miriam is the one who "answers" the song of Moses (also presented in Exodus 15): she is the other constellation located "just above the line" which separates the "upper half" of the year from the "lower half," if she is indeed associated with the constellation Virgo (as her timbrel indicates that she is). If you look at the zodiac wheel diagram, you will see Virgo located across the wheel, just above the horizontal line and just before the "X" on the right-hand side of the diagram as we look at it on the page. Thus, she and Moses are "above" the line (they have "crossed the Red Sea," and escaped from Egypt) -- and both of them are glorying in the fact that the "horse and his rider" are "cast down" in the depths, below the line. They are almost certainly referring to Sagittarius in these verses.

In fact, while it is certainly not conclusive evidence, it is very interesting to note that the illustration from the 1800s included below (which was later colorized and slightly altered and included in a 1919 publication in the form shown at the top of this post) appears to incorporate constellational outlines which indicate an awareness that the Red Sea crossing involves the lower half of the zodiac wheel and the constellation Sagittarius.

Note the column of smoke rising through the center of the image, as well as the "horse and his rider cast down" on the left of that column as we face the page, and the rejoicing people on the right of that column -- and note carefully the shape of their outlines:

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

image: Wikimedia commons (link).

he outlines incorporated in the above engraving strongly suggest the two zodiac constellations on either side of the "smoky column" of the Milky Way galaxy at its widest and brightest portion as seen from our location on earth -- the constellation Scorpio (on the right of the Milky Way band from the perspective of an observer in the northern hemisphere looking towards the south) and the constellation Sagittarius (on the left of the same portion of the Milky Way band):

n the image above, you should be able to clearly see the rising column of the Milky Way band. I have drawn in the outlines of Sagittarius (on the left, as outlined by H. A. Rey's system) and Scorpio (on the right, in a modified version from that suggested by H. A. Rey -- showing the "multiple heads" which are often a characteristic of the constellation Scorpio when it shows up in Star Myths around the globe).

Above Scorpio, I have also added the outlines of the constellation Ophiucus (the Serpent-handler) as it is usually outlined in many conventional star charts.

Looking again to the image from the 1800s illustration of the crossing of the Red Sea, can you see any correspondences?

Below is the same illustration, superimposed over the celestial diagram. The correspondences are not perfect, because the artist has chosen to increase the size of the "Scorpio" elements in his artwork, and diminish the size of the "Sagittarius" figure, but we can examine each of those separately in order to show more clearly that they are most definitely present in the artist's depiction:

he above juxtaposition does not really do justice to the "Scorpio" outline that the artist put into the depiction of the crossing of the Red Sea.

In fact, the "Scorpio" in the illustration is composed of many different people, who are kind of "piled together" into the long and sinuous and "multi-headed" form of the constellation.

Starting from the "stinger" in the tail of Scorpio, the illustration incorporates the angles of the tail by including an older man who is being helped up by a younger man (the older man is leaning on a staff with two hands, at the bottom of the artist's depiction. His raised knee (forward knee) creates the outline of the "stinger" at the end of the tail of Scorpio. From there, elements in the illustration lead over to the bent knee of the right leg of the younger man who is reaching out to help him with one arm, while also holding a child (probably his daughter) with his other arm. This straight leg and then the back of the younger man creates the rest of the constellation Scorpio's long body, after which the raised arms of the young maidens behind him suggest the "multiple heads" which can be seen at the "head-end" of the constellation:

As can be seen in the image above, the correspondence between the elements in the nineteenth-century artwork and the outline of the constellation Scorpio is uncanny. It is very difficult to argue that someone is not trying to tell us something with these images.

The correspondence to Sagittarius ("the horse and his rider") is a little less obvious, perhaps because the match with the H. A. Rey method of outlining Sagittarius is not as precise -- but it is quite clear that the painting contains a "horse and his rider" being cast down, and that elements from the Sagittarius region appear to be incorporated in the artwork:

The correspondence with Sagittarius may seem less self-evident than the correspondence with Scorpio shown above, leading some to doubt whether or not the nineteenth-century artist really intended his image to evoke the constellations in this part of the sky -- except for the fact that there is another distinctive constellation near to Sagittarius, known as Corona Australis: the Southern Crown. It is located just to the west (to the right as we look at the southern horizon from the northern hemisphere) of the feet of Sagittarius.

The Southern Crown arcs in a wide "C-shape" with its opening towards the west (towards the right, and towards the Milky Way band).

The artist has very clearly incorporated this "C-shape" in his artwork, in the outstretched arms of one of the fallen warriors in the image, below the depiction of the soldier with his arms around the neck of his horse:

The fit of the stars of the Southern Crown to the arms and shoulders of the prone soldier in the artwork is so precise that it is impossible to conclude that the artist was not aware of the connections between his illustration and the constellations of the night sky in the region of the Milky Way between Sagittarius and Scorpio.

The correspondence between the column of smoke in the illustration and the rising column of the Milky Way is also so self-evident that it cannot really be denied, especially since the two zodiac constellations we have been discussing and which seem to be incorporated in the illustration, Scorpio and Sagittarius, are found on either side of the Milky Way at its very brightest section.

This leaves, of course, the figure of Moses in the illustration. He is positioned in such a way in this particular piece of artwork that it is possible that the artist is connecting Moses with Ophiucus -- especially since the upraised staff in the right hand of Moses is suggestive of the upraised "tail" of the serpent's body on the left side of the body of Ophiucus (the east side of Ophiucus), which in traditional outlines of the constellation does resemble a straight staff (that's why I've chosen to use the conventional outline of Ophiucus in the diagrams on this page).

It is also possible, based on the upraised finger in the left hand of Moses (pointing towards the staff) that the artist is actually thinking of the constellation Capricorn in his depiction of Moses in this illustration. Capricorn does in fact look towards a long "staff" in the sky (see discussion in the story of Shem, Ham and Japheth, for example).

And, this particular hand gesture can be shown to be used in art down through the centuries to indicate the constellation Capricorn (see discussion and illustrations in this post, for example).

Again, all these illustrations from the nineteenth century are not really conclusive evidence that the ancient story is based on the stars -- but there is plenty of evidence in the texts themselves to support that conclusion. Virtually every story or episode in the scriptures of the Old and New Testament (and in the myths and scriptures of other cultures) can in fact be shown to be based on the stars, which is additional evidence to support the conclusion that the Red Sea crossing is as well.

The fact that there appears to be a tradition (spanning centuries) among the art world which incorporates celestial references into the artistic depictions of these stories (whether those references were known to the artists themselves or not) may well be "supporting evidence" that the knowledge that the myths are based on the stars did survive among certain communities, although hidden.

Unfortunately, the teaching that these scriptures are all literally and historically true (and that belief among large numbers of people) has been used to enable the oppression of others, the destruction of their culture, massive resources devoted to converting people from their original cultural beliefs to belief in the Bible, violence against innocent men and women and children, and the abuse of animals and the environment.

I believe that when they are understood to be esoteric celestial metaphors, designed to impart profound spiritual truths, their teaching can be seen to be liberating and elevating to human consciousness. It is when they are incorrectly understood as literal and historical that the opposite conclusions are (incorrectly, I think) taken from these ancient texts and stories.