Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

A little late on this challenge, but here goes:

In Job 38:31-32, the LORD questions Job, "Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs?" (NIV)

Obviously the Bible's canon teaches that God created the stars; but does this passage in Job (also Amos 5:8) teach that God intentionally organized stars into constellations, even giving them names? Or is it better to think of them as being perhaps identified and named by pagans, but here the emphasis is on God's control as elsewhere God shows his power over idols like Dagon?

share|improve this question
Also of interest, these are constellations of the Greek variety. Since other civilizations saw different shapes in the stars, its interesting that we would find the same terms in a Hebrew texts. Seems like it might be a anachronism of some sort. – Jon Ericson Jul 19 '12 at 16:18
@JonEricson, the term Pleiades does not appear as such in Hebrew--instead it is כימה (kiymah), which means cluster. Likewise the word used here for Orion is כסיל, meaning "fool". Apparently the translators looked at the evidence (e.g., the belt, in the case of the latter), and assigned the Greek names. – Ray Jul 19 '12 at 16:34
or, perhaps, we're looking at the Masoretic here :) – warren Jul 31 '12 at 15:53
@Ray: כימה means "As if one hundred" (כמו מאה) and though I could see how that could be construed as "cluster" I've never heard of the term referring to anything other the the Pleiades. How do you come to the conclusion that the word means "cluster" and not specifically the Pleiades cluster? – dotancohen Feb 22 '13 at 21:56

I think the wording of the text draws our minds to ponder the beauty and arrangement of the stars and the power of God who put them in their place.  Back in the days before electricity, the heavens would have been the most fascinating movie theatre to watch and it is no surprise that ancient philosophers identified the idea of God/gods with them and paid special attention to those starts that did not move normally in the sky. These known as planets today move differently because they orbit the Sun.

To the question, I think that God did created the many types of constellations  that mark the seasons around the equator as one of the many marvelous works of his hands that man cannot but ponder. Even the deepest Ocean has marvelous fish that is full of mystery and marvel, and these have gone thousand of years without notice until some water robot takes pictures of them. How much more these bright stars that man looked at each night?

In Job it seems the importance of the constellations within the idolatrous minds of pagans is assumed, which makes the argument more persuasive because they are all God's creation indicating power over all supposed gods. The wise men following the star to Bethlehem is of a similar indication that God speaks his divine word according to the mindsets of the hearers. The term Death and Hades (Greek god of the underworld) in the Bible also seems to accommodate meaning form Pagan symbolism. (Rev 1:18) Just because a word is principally used in pagan culture or profane religion does not mean that it does not convey something the Spirit chooses to communicate heavenly truths with. This seems to be such a case.

share|improve this answer

The word which the NIV translates as "constellations" is מַזָּרֹות; the KJV, like other traditional versions, keeps the Hebrew word as a proper name (Mazzaroth).This word occurs only here and its meaning is not known. "Constellation" is just a guess.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.