Science in the Bible: the Pleiades and Orion

English: Pleiades Star Cluster

Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?  Job 38:31

Hebrew- Pleiades = the Cluster (like jewels); Orion = the burly [large, strong], fat (foolish) one

Can you tie up the bonds of the Cluster, or open the cords of the Big Guy? CS4K paraphrase

Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name:  Amos 5:8

When Galileo turned his new telescope to the heavens, one of the things he saw was that the Pleiades (also known as the 7 Sisters) had way more than 7 stars.  He was able to find almost 50!  A century and a half later, astronomers were able to tell that clustered stars, like Pleiades, are truly near each other, not just aligned that way from earth’s view.

My guess is that Job, his friends and many other ancient people knew all this, since they knew so many other things about the heavens.  Unfortunately, we don’t have their observations, but we do have their stories!

Sadly, most of the world had quickly turned from worshiping the true Creator God and had substituted the heavenly bodies for their gods.  The Pleiades were some of their favorites because they marked the time of the coming rain for many places (like Egypt), or time for planting the new crop (like the Mayans).

One of the cool things my parents told me was that there are only 6 stars visible to the naked eye, but everyone knows there were once 7.   Now, I’ve been able to verify this online.  Many ancient culture left records or told stories that talk about the 7 main stars in Pleiades.  They knew that one of them had turned invisible, but they weren’t going to forget about it.

God pointed out His enormous power to Job by showing how impossible it would be for a person to try to put a star cluster like Pleiades together.

Orion V

Now for Orion, my favorite constellation!  Orion is located on the equator, so is one of the constellations that we all can see (depending on the time of year).  As you saw, the Jews called him the Big or Foolish Guy.  The Arabs called him The Giant.  Many cultures had him be some sort of hunter (like the Greeks), even being known as Nimrod by the Hungarians.  With his three bright stars in a row, it would be hard to find a people group who didn’t have a story about him!

Although those three stars aren’t as near each other as Pleiades’ stars are, they have similar brightnesses and form a nearly straight line close together.  Just thinking about the processes it would take to get those three stars lined up and glowing at the right levels is very humbling.  This is exactly what happened to Job when he followed God’s thinking.

Let us join Job in acknowledging the power and authority of God, our Creator!

I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.  Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.  Job 42:5,6

To learn more about Open Cluster stars, like Pleiades, read this short article from AAO Australia

Dr. Jason Lisle talks about how the blue stars of Orion’s belt make better sense in our Biblical worldview (see my post Stretching the Heavens for more)

Answers in Genesis: Telling Time with the Stars

For those in or beyond high school: an article that sees ancient stories of Orion being a mother god as “prescient.” That’s because they believe in something very similar to the old Gaia stories.

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