1 - The Cycles of Time

"Look up skyward and count the stars," Yahweh told Abraham as He made the covenant with him. Man has looked skyward from time immemorial, and has been wondering whether there are others like him out there, upon other earths. Logic, and mathematical probability, dictate a Yes answer; but it was only in 1991 that astronomers, for the first time, it was stressed, actually found other planets orbiting other suns elsewhere in the universe.

The first discovery, in July 1991, turned out not to have been entirely correct. It was an announcement by a team of British astronomers that, based on observations over a five-year period, they concluded that a rapidly spinning star identified as Pulsar 1829-10 has a "planet-sized companion" about ten times the size of Earth. Pulsars are assumed to be the extraordinarily dense cores of stars that have collapsed for one reason or another. Spinning madly, they emit pulses of radio energy in regular bursts, many times per second. Such pulses can be monitored by radio telescopes; by detecting a cyclic fluctuation, the astronomers surmised that a planet that orbits Pulsar 1829-10 once every six months can cause and explain the fluctuation.

As it turned out, the British astronomers admitted several months later that their calculations were imprecise and, therefore, they could not stand by their conclusion that the pulsar, some 30,000 light-years away, had a planetary satellite. By then, however, an American team had made a similar discovery pertaining to a much closer pulsar, identified as PSR 1257+ 12 - a collapsed sun only 1,300 light-years away from us. It exploded, astronomers estimated, about a mere billion years ago; and it definitely has two, and perhaps three, orbiting planets. The two certain ones were orbiting their sun at about the same distance as Mercury does our Sun; the possible third planet orbits its sun at about the same distance as Earth does our Sun.

"The discovery stirred speculation that planetary systems not only were fairly common but also could occur under diverse circumstances," wrote John Noble Wilford in The New York Times of January 9, 1992; "scientists said it was most unlikely that planets orbiting pulsars could be hospitable to life; but the findings encouraged astronomers, who this fall will begin a systematic survey of the heavens for signs of intelligent extraterrestrial life."

Were, then, the pharaohs right?

Long before the pharaohs and the Pyramid Texts, an ancient civilization - Man's first known one - possessed an advanced cosmogony. Six thousand years ago, in ancient Sumer, what astronomers have discovered in the 1990s was already known; not only the true nature and composition of our Solar System (including the farthest out planets), but also the notion that there are other solar systems in the universe, that their stars ("suns") can collapse or explode, that their planets can be thrown off course - that Life, indeed, can thus be carried from one star system to another. It was a detailed cosmogony, spelled out in writing.

One long text, written on seven tablets, has reached us primarily in its later Babylonian version. Called the Epic of Creation and known by its opening words Enuma elish, it was publicly read during the New Year festival that started on the first day of the month Nissan, coinciding with the first day of spring.

Outlining the process by which our own Solar System came into being, the long text described how the Sun ("Apsu") and its messenger Mercury ("Mummu") were first joined by an olden planet called Tiamat; how a pair of planets Venus and Mars - ("Lahamu" and "Lahmu") then coalesced between the Sun and Tiamat, followed by two pairs beyond Tiamat - Jupiter and Saturn ("Kishar" and "Anshar") and Uranus and Neptune ("Anu" and "Nudimmud"), the latter two being planets unknown to modern astronomers until 1781 and 1846 respectively - yet known, and described, by the Sumerians millennia earlier.

 

As those newly-created "celestial gods" tugged and pulled at each other, some of them sprouted satellites - moonlets. Tiamat, in the midst of that unstable planetary family, sprouted eleven satellites; one of them, "Kingu," grew so much in size that it began to assume the aspects of a "celestial god," a planet, on its own. Modern astronomers were totally ignorant of the possibility that a planet could have many moons until Galileo discovered the four largest moons of Jupiter in 1609, with the aid of a telescope; but the Sumerians were aware of the phenomenon millennia earlier.

Into that unstable solar system, according to the millennia-old Epic of Creation, there appeared an invader from outer space - another planet; a planet not born into the family of Apsu, but one that had belonged to some other star's family and that was thrust off to wander in space. Millennia before modern astronomy learned of pulsars and collapsing stars, the Sumerian cosmogony had already envisioned other planetary systems and collapsing or exploding stars that threw off their planets.

 

And so, Enuma elish related, one such cast-off planet, reaching the outskirts of our own Solar System, began to be drawn into its midst (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1

 

As it passed by the outer planets, it caused changes that account for many of the enigmas that still baffle modern astronomy - such as the cause for Uranus's tilt on its side, the retrograde orbit of Neptune's largest moon, Triton, or what pulled Pluto from its place as a moonlet to become a planet with an odd orbit.

 

The more the invader was drawn into the Solar System's center, the more was it forced onto a collision course with Tiamat, resulting in the "Celestial Battle." In the series of collisions, with the invader's satellites repeatedly smashing into Tiamat, the olden planet split in two. One half of it was smashed into bits and pieces to become the Asteroid Belt (between Mars and Jupiter) and various comets; the other half, wounded but intact, was thrust into a new orbit to become the planet we call Earth ("Ki" in Sumerian); shunted with it was Tiamat's largest satellite, to become Earth's Moon.

 

The invader itself was caught into permanent orbit around the Sun, to become our Solar System's twelfth member (Sun, Moon, and ten planets). The Sumerians called it Nibiru - "Planet of the Crossing." The Babylonians renamed it Marduk in honor of their national god. It was during the Celestial Battle, the ancient epic asserted, that the "seed of life," brought by Nibiru from elsewhere, was passed to Earth.

Philosophers and scientists, contemplating the universe and offering modern cosmogonies, invariably end up discussing Time.

  • Is Time a dimension in itself, or perhaps the only true dimension in the universe?

  • Does Time only flow forward, or can it flow backward?

  • Is the present part of the past or the beginning of the future?

  • And, not least of all, did Time have a beginning?

  • For, if so, will it have an end?

If the universe has existed forever, without a beginning and thus without an end, is Time too without a beginning and without an end - or did the universe indeed have a beginning, perhaps with the Big Bang assumed by many astrophysicists, in which case Time began when the universe began?

Those who conceived the amazingly accurate Sumerian cosmogony also believed in a Beginning (and thus, inexorably, in an End). It is clear that they conceived of Time as a measure, the pacesetter from, and the marker of, a beginning in a celestial saga; for the very first word of the ancient Epic of Creation, Enuma, means When:

Enuma elish la nabu shamamu - When in the heights heaven had not been named

Shaplitu ammatum shuma la zakrat - And below, firm ground (Earth) had not been called

It must have taken great scientific minds to conceive of a primordial phase when "naught existed but primordial Apsu, their begetter; Mummu, and Tiamat" - when Earth had not yet come into being; and to realize that for Earth and all upon it the "big bang" was not when the universe or even the Solar System was created, but the event of the Celestial Battle.

 

It was then, at that moment, that Time began for Earth - the moment when, separated from the half of Tiamat that became the Asteroid Belt ("heaven"), Earth was shunted to its own new orbit and could start counting the years, the months, the days, the nights - to measure Time.

This scientific view, central to ancient cosmogony, religion, and mathematics, was expressed in many other Sumerian texts besides the Epic of Creation. A text treated by scholars as the "myth" of "Enki and The World Order," but which is literally the autobiographical tale by Enki, the Sumerian god of science, describes the moment when - When - Time began to tick for Earth:

In the days of yore,
when heaven was separated from Earth,
In the nights of yore,
when heaven was separated from Earth...

Another text, in words often repeated on Sumerian clay tablets, conveyed the notion of Beginning by listing the many aspects of evolution and civilization that had not yet come into being before the crucial event. Before then, the text asserted, "the name of Man had not yet been called" and "needful things had not yet been brought into being." All those developments started to take place only "after heaven had been moved away from Earth, after Earth had been separated from heaven."

It is not surprising that the same notions of Time's beginnings also ruled Egyptian beliefs, whose development was subsequent to those of the Sumerians. We read in the Pyramid Texts (para. 1466) the following description of the Beginning of Things:

When heaven had not yet come into existence,
When men had not yet come into existence,
When gods had not yet been born,
When death had not yet come into existence...

This knowledge, universal in antiquity and stemming from the Sumerian cosmogony, was echoed in the very first verse of Genesis, the first book of the Hebrew Bible:

In the beginning Elohim created the heaven and the earth.

And the earth was without form

and void and darkness was upon the face of Tehom,
and the wind of the Lord swept over its waters.

It is now well established that this biblical tale of creation was based on Mesopotamian texts such as Enuma elish, with Tehom meaning Tiamat, the "wind" meaning "satellites," in Sumerian, and "heaven," described as the "hammered out bracelet," the Asteroid Belt. The Bible, however, is clearer regarding the moment of the Beginning as far as Earth was concerned; the biblical version picks up the Mesopotamian cosmogony only from the point of the separation of the Earth from the Shama'im, the Hammered Bracelet, as a result of the breakup of Tiamat.

For Earth, Time began with the Celestial Battle.

The Mesopotamian tale of creation begins with the formation of our Solar System and the appearance of Nibiru/Marduk at a time when the planetary orbits were not yet fixed and stable. It ends by attributing to Nibiru/Marduk the current shape of our Solar System, whereby each planet ("celestial god") received its assigned place ("station"), orbital path ("destiny"), and rotation, even its moons.

 

Indeed, as a large planet that encompasses by its orbit all the other planets, one who "crosses the heavens and surveys the regions," it was considered to have become the one that stabilized the Solar System:

He established the station of Nibiru,
to determine their heavenly bands,
that none might transgress or fall short...
He established for the planets their
sacred heavens,
He keeps hold on their ways,
determines their courses.

Thus, states Enuma elish (Tablet V, line 65), "He created the Heaven and the Earth" - the very same words used in the Book of Genesis.

The Celestial Battle eliminated Tiamat as a member of the old Solar System, thrust half of it into a new orbit to become Planet Earth, retained the Moon as a vital component of the new Solar System, detached Pluto into an independent orbit, and added Nibiru as the twelfth member of the New Order in our heavens. For Earth and its inhabitants, those were to become the elements that determined Time.

To this day, the key role that the number twelve played in Sumerian science and daily life (in line with the twelve-member Solar System) has accompanied us throughout the millennia. They divided the "day" (from sunset to sunset) into twelve "double-hours," retained into modern times in the twelve-hour clock and the twenty-four-hour day. The twelve months in the year are still with us, as are the twelve houses of the zodiac. This celestial number had many other expressions, as in the twelve tribes of Israel or the twelve apostles of Jesus.

The Sumerian mathematical system is called sexagesimal, i.e. "based on sixty" rather than on 100 as in the metric system (in which one meter is equal to 100 centimeters). Among the advantages of the sexagesimal system was its divisibility into twelve. The sexagesimal system progressed by alternately multiplying six and ten: starting with six, multiplying six by ten (6 x 10 = 60), then by six to obtain 360 - the number applied by the Sumerians to the circle and still used both in geometry and astronomy. That, in turn, was multiplied by ten, to obtain the sar ("ruler, lord"), the number 3,600, which was written by inscribing a great circle, and so on.

The sar, 3,600 Earth-years, was the orbital period of Nibiru around the Sun; for anyone on Nibiru, it was just one Nibiru-year. According to the Sumerians, there were indeed others, intelligent beings, on Nibiru, evolving there well ahead of hominids on Earth. The Sumerians called them Anunnaki, literally meaning "Those who from Heaven to Earth came." Sumerian texts repeatedly asserted that the Anunnaki had come to Earth from Nibiru in great antiquity; and that when they had come here, they counted time not in Earth terms but in terms of Nibiru's orbit. The unit of that Divine Time, a year of the gods, was the sar.

Texts known as the Sumerian King Lists, which describe the first settlements of the Anunnaki on Earth, list the governorships of the first ten Anunnaki leaders before the Deluge in sars, the 3,600 Earth-year cycles. From the first landing to the Deluge, according to those texts, 120 sars had passed: Nibiru orbited the Sun one hundred and twenty times, which equals 432,000 Earth-years. It was on the one hundred twentieth orbit that the gravitational pull of Nibiru was such that it caused the ice sheet that accumulated over Antarctica to slip off into the southern oceans, creating the immense tidal wave that engulfed the Earth - the great flood or Deluge, recorded in the Bible from much earlier and much more detailed Sumerian sources.

Legends and ancient lore gave this number, 432,000, cyclical significance beyond the land then called Sumer. In Hamlet's Mill, Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend, searching for "a point where myth and science join," concluded that "432,000 was a number of significance from old." Among the examples cited by them was the Teutonic and Norse tale of the Valhalla, the mythic abode of the slain warriors who, on the Day of Judgment, will march out of the Valhalla's gates to fight at the side of the god Odin or Woden against the giants.

 

They would exit through the Valhalla's 540 doors; eight hundred warriors would march out of each. The total number of warrior-heroes, Santillana and von Dechend pointed out, was thus 432,000. "This number," they continued, "must have had a very ancient meaning, for it is also the number of syllables in the Rigveda," the "Sacred Book of Verses" in the Sanskrit language, in which have been recorded the Indo-European tales of gods and heroes.

 

Four hundred thirty-two thousand, the two authors wrote, "goes back to the basic figure 10,800, the number of stanzas in the Rigveda, with 40 syllables to a stanza" (10,800 x 40 = 432,000).

Hindu traditions clearly associated the number 432,000 with the yugas or Ages that Earth and Mankind had experienced. Each caturyuga ("great yuga") was divided into four yugas or Ages whose diminishing lengths were expressions of 432,000:

  • first the Fourfold Age (4 x 432,000 = 1,728,000 years) which was the Golden Age

  • then the Threefold Age of Knowledge (3 x 432,000 = 1,296,000 years)

  • followed by the Double or Twofold Age of Sacrifice (2 x 432,000 = 864,000 years)

  • finally our present era, the Age of Discord which will last a mere 432,000 years

All in all these Hindu traditions envision ten eons, paralleling the ten Sumerian rulers of the pre-Diluvial era but expanding the overall time span to 4,320,000 years.

Further expanded, such astronomical numbers based on 432,000 were applied in Hindu religion and traditions to the kalpa, the "Day" of the Lord Brahma. It was defined as an eon comprising twelve million devas ("Divine Years"). Each Divine Year in turn equaled 360 Earth-years. Therefore, a "Day of the Lord Brahma" equaled 4,320,000,000 Earth-years - a time span very much like modern estimates of the age of our Solar System - arrived at by multiplications of 360 and 12.

4,320,000,000 is, however, a thousandfold great yugas - a fact brought out in the eleventh century by the Arab mathematician Abu Rayhan al-Biruni, who explained that the kalpa consisted of 1,000 cycles of caturyugas. One could thus paraphrase the mathematics of the Hindu celestial calendar by stating that in the eyes of the Lord Brahma, a thousand cycles were but a single day.

 

This brings to mind the enigmatic statement in Psalms (90:4) regarding the Divine Day of the biblical Lord:

A thousand years, in thy eyes,
[are] as a day past, gone by.

The statement has traditionally been viewed as merely symbolic of the Lord's eternity. But in view of the numerous traces of Sumerian data in the Book of Psalms (as well as in other parts of the Hebrew Bible), a precise mathematical formula might well have been intended - a formula echoed also in Hindu traditions.

 

The Hindu traditions were brought to the Indian subcontinent by "Aryan" migrants from the shores of the Caspian Sea, cousins of the Indo-Europeans who were the Hittites of Asia Minor (today's Turkey) and of the Hurrians of the upper Euphrates River, through whom Sumerian knowledge and beliefs were transmitted to the Indo-Europeans.

 

The Aryan migrations are believed to have taken place in the second millennium BC. and the Vedas were held to be "not of human origin," having been composed by the gods themselves in a previous age. In time the various components of the Vedas and the auxiliary literature that derived from them (the Mantras, Brahmanas, etc.) were augmented by the non-Vedic Puranas ("Ancient Writings") and the great epic tales of the Mahabharata and Ramayana. In them, ages deriving from multiples of 3,600 also predominate; thus, according to the Vishnu Purana, "the day that Krishna shall depart from Earth will be the first day of the age of Kali; it will continue for 360,000 years of mortals."

 

This is a reference to the concept that the Kaliyuga, the present age, is divided to a dawn or "morning twilight" of 100 divine years that equal 36,000 Earth or "mortal" years, the age itself (1,000 divine years equaling 360,000 Earth-years), and a dusk or "evening twilight" of a final 100 divine years (36,000 mortal-years), adding up to 1,200 divine or 432,000 Earth-years.

 

The depth of such widespread beliefs in a Divine Cycle of 432,000 years, equaling 120 orbits of 3,600 Earth-years The Cycles of Time 13 each of Nibiru, makes one wonder whether they represent merely arithmetical sleights of hand - or, in some unknown way, a basic natural or astronomical phenomenon recognized in antiquity by the Anunnaki. We have shown in The 12th Planet, the first book of The Earth Chronicles series, that the Deluge was a global calamity anticipated by the Anunnaki, resulting from the gravitational pull of the nearing Nibiru on the unstable ice sheet over Antarctica.

 

The event brought the last ice age to an abrupt end circa 13,000 years ago, and was thus recorded in Earth's cycles as a major geological and climatic change. Such changes, the longest being the geological epochs, have been verified through studies of the Earth's surface and oceanic sediments. The last geological epoch, called the Pleistocene, began about 2,500,000 years ago and ended at the time of the Deluge; it was the time span during which hominids evolved, the Anunnaki came to Earth, and Man, Homo sapiens, was brought into being.

 

And it was during the Pleistocene that a cycle of approximately 430,000 years was identified in marine sediments. According to a series of studies by teams of geologists led by Madeleine Briskin of the University of Cincinnati, sea level changes and deepsea climatic records show a "430,000-year quasi-periodic cyclicity." Such a cyclic periodicity conforms with the Astronomical Theory of climatic modulations that takes into account changes due to obliquity (the Earth's tilt), precession (the slight orbital retardation), and eccentricity (the shape of the elliptical orbit).

 

Milutin Milankovitch, who outlined the theory in the 1920s, estimated that the resulting grand periodicity was 413,000 years. His, and the more recent Briskin cycle, almost conform to the Sumerian cycle of 432,000 Earth-years attributed to Nibiru's effects: the convergence of orbits and perturbations and climatic cycles.

 

The "myth" of Divine Ages thus appears to be based on scientific facts. The element of Time features in the ancient records, both Sumerian and biblical, not only as a point of beginning - When." The process of creation is at once linked to the measurement of time, measurements that in turn are linked to determinable celestial motions. The destruction of Tiamat and the ensuing creation of the Asteroid Belt and Earth required, according to the Mesopotamian version, two return orbits of the Celestial Lord (the invading Nibiru/Marduk).

 

In the biblical version, it took the Lord two divine "days" to complete the task; hopefully, even Fundamentalists will by now agree that these were not day and night days as we now know them, for the two "days" occurred before Earth had yet come into existence (and besides, let them heed the Psalmist's statement of the Lord's day being equal to a thousand years or so). The Mesopotamian version clearly measures Creation Time or Divine Time by the passages of Nibiru, in an orbit equaling 3,600 Earth-years.

Before that ancient story of Creation shifts to the newly formed Earth and evolution upon it, it is a tale of stars, planets, celestial orbits; and the Time it deals with is Divine Time. But once the focus shifts to Earth and ultimately to Man upon it, the scale of Time also shifts - to an Earthly Time - to a scale appropriate not only to Man's abode but also to one that Mankind could grasp and measure: Day, Month, Year.

Even as we consider these familiar elements of Earthly Time, it should be borne in mind that all three of them are also expressions of celestial motions - cyclical motions - involving a complex correlation between Earth, Moon, and Sun. We now know that the daily sequence of light and darkness that we call a Day (of twenty-four hours) results from the fact that Earth turns on its axis, so that as it is lit by the Sun's rays on one side, the other side is in darkness.

 

We now know that the Moon is always there, even when unseen, and that it wanes and waxes not because it disappears but because, depending on the Earth-Moon-Sun positions (Fig. 2) we see the Moon fully lighted by the Sun's rays, or fully obscured by the Earth's shadow, or in phases in between. It is this threefold relationship that extends the actual orbital period of the Moon around the Earth from about 27.3 days (the "sidereal month") to the observed cycle of about 29.53 days (the "synodic month") and the phenomenon of the reappearing or New Moon with all its calendrical and religious implications. And the year or Solar Year, we now of course know, is the period it takes the Earth to complete one orbit around the Sun, our star.

But such basic truths regarding the causes of the Earthly Time cycles of day, month, year are not self-evident and required advanced scientific knowledge to be realized. For the better part of two thousand years it was believed, for example, that the day-night cycle resulted from the circling of Earth by the Sun; for from the time of Ptolemy of Alexandria (second century A.D.) until the "Copernican Revolution" in 1543 A.D., the unquestioned belief was that the Sun, the Moon, and the visible planets were circling the Earth, which was the center of the universe.

 

The suggestion by Nicolaus Copernicus that the Sun was at the center and that the Earth was just another celestial body orbiting it, like any other planet, was so revolutionary scientifically and heretical religiously that he delayed writing his great astronomical work (De revolutionibus coelestium; English translation, On the Revolutions of Celestial Spheres) and his friends delayed printing it until his very last day, May 24,1543.

Yet it is evident that in earlier times Sumerian knowledge included familiarity with the triple Earth-Moon-Sun relationship. The  , describing the four phases of the Moon, clearly explained them in terms of the position of the Moon vis-a-vis the Sun as it (the Moon) circled the Earth: a full moon at midmonth as it "stood still opposite the Sun," and its waning at month's end as it "stood against the Sun" (see Fig. 2).

Fig. 2

 

These motions were attributed to the "destinies" (orbits) that the Celestial Lord (Nibiru) gave Earth and its moon as a result of the Celestial Battle:

The Moon he caused to shine,
to it the night entrusting;
In the night the days to signal
he appointed it, [saying:]
Monthly, without cease, form designs with a crown.
At the month's very start, rising over the Earth,
thou shalt have luminous horns to signify six days,
reaching a crescent on the seventh day.
At mid month stand still opposite the Sun;
it shall overtake thee at the horizon.
Then diminish thy crown and regress in light,
at that time approaching the Sun;
And on the 30th day thou shalt stand against the Sun.
I have appointed thee a destiny; follow its path.

"Thus," the ancient text concludes, did the Celestial Lord "appoint the days and establish the precincts of night and day."

(It is noteworthy that the biblical and Jewish tradition, according to which the twenty-four-hour day begins at sundown the previous evening - "and it was evening and it was morning, one day" - is already expressed in the Mesopotamian texts. In the words of Enuma elish, the Moon was "appointed in the night the days to signal.")

Even in its condensed version of the much more detailed Mesopotamian texts, the Bible (Genesis 1:14) expressed the triple relationship between Earth, Moon, and Sun as it applied to the cycles of day, month, year:

And the Lord said:
Let there be luminaries
in the hammered-out Heaven
to distinguish between the day and the night;
And let them be signs
for months and for days and for years.

The Hebrew term Mo'edim used here to denote "months," which signifies the ritual assembly called for on the evening of the New Moon, establishes the Moon's orbital period and phases as an integral component of the Mesopotamian-Hebrew calendar from its very inception. By listing the two luminaries (Sun and Moon) as responsible for the months and the days and the years, the complex lunar-solar nature of that calendar's antiquity is also presented.

 

Over the millennia of Mankind's efforts to measure time by devising a calendar, some (as the Moslems continue to this day) have followed only the Moon's cycles; others (as the ancient Egyptians and the Common Era calendars in use in the Western world) have adopted the solar year, conveniently dividing it into "months." But the calendar devised about fifty-eight hundred years ago in Nippur (Sumer's religious center) and still adhered to by the Jews retained the biblically stated complexity of time-keeping based on the orbital relationship between the Earth and the two luminaries.

 

In doing that, the fact that the Earth orbits the Sun was recognized by the term Shanah for "year" which stems from the Sumerian shatu, an astronomical term meaning "to course, to orbit," and the full term Tekufath ha-Shanah - "the circling or annual orbiting" to denote the passage of a full year.

Scholars have been puzzled by the fact that the Zo'har (The Book of Splendor), an Aramaic-Hebrew composition which is a central work in the literature of Jewish mysticism known as Kabbalah, unmistakably explained - in the thirteenth century of the Christian era - that the cause of the day's changing into night was the turning of the Earth around its own axis.

 

Some two hundred fifty years before Copernicus asserted that the day-night sequence resulted not from the Sun's circling of the Earth but from the Earth's turning on its own axis, the Zohar stated that,

"The entire Earth spins, turning as a sphere. When one part is down the other part is up. When it is light for one part it is dark for the other part; when it is day for that, it is night for the other."

The Zohar's source was the third century Rabbi Hamnuna!

 

Though little known, the role of Jewish savants in transmitting astronomical knowledge to Christian Europe in the Middle Ages has been convincingly documented by extant books on astronomy, written in Hebrew and containing clear illustrations (as this one from a twelfth century book published in Spain, Fig. 3).

Fig. 3

 

Indeed, the writings of Ptolemy of Alexandria, known to the Western world as the Almagest, were first preserved by the Arab conquerors of Egypt in the eighth century and became available to Europeans through translations by Jewish scholars; significantly some of these translations contained commentaries casting doubt on the accuracy of the geocentric theories of Ptolemy centuries before Copernicus.

 

Other such translations of Arabic and Greek works on astronomy, as well as independent treatises, were a main channel for the study of astronomy in medieval Europe. In the ninth and tenth centuries Jewish astronomers composed treatises on the movements of the Moon and the planets and calculated the paths of the Sun and the positions of the constellations. In fact, the compilation of astronomical tables, whether for European kings or Moslem caliphs, was a specialty of Jewish court astronomers.

 

Such advanced knowledge, seemingly ahead of its time, can be explained only by the retention of the earlier sophisticated knowledge that permeates the Bible and its earlier Sumerian sources. Indeed, Kabbalah literally means "that which was received," earlier secret knowledge transmitted from generation to generation. The knowledge of Jewish savants in the Middle Ages can be traced directly to academies in Judea and Babylonia that commented upon and retained biblical data.

 

The Talmud, recording such data and commentaries from about 300 BC. to about a.d. 500, is replete with astronomical snippets; they include the statement that Rabbi Samuel "knew the paths of heaven" as if they were the streets of his town, and the reference by Rabbi Joshua ben-Zakai to "a star which appears once in seventy years and confounds the mariners" - familiarity with Halley's Comet whose periodic return every seventy-five years or so was assumed to have been unknown until discovered by Edmund Halley in the eighteenth century.

 

Rabbi Gamliel of Jabneh possessed a tubular optical instrument with which he observed the stars and planets - fifteen centuries before the "official" invention of the telescope. The need to know the heavenly secrets stemmed from the lunar-solar nature of the Jewish (i.e. Nippurian) calendar, which required a complex adjustment - "intercalation" - between the solar year and the lunar year, the latter falling short of the former by 10 days, 21 hours. 6 minutes and about 45.5 seconds.

 

That shortfall equals 7/19 of a synodic month, and, therefore, a lunar year can be realigned with the solar year by adding seven lunar months to every nineteen solar years. Astronomy books credit the Athenian astronomer Meton (circa 430 BC.) with the discovery of this nineteen-year cycle; but the knowledge in fact goes back millennia, to ancient Mesopotamia.

Scholars have been puzzled by the fact that in the Sumerian-Mesopotamian pantheon, Shamash (the "Sun god") was depicted as the son of the "Moon god" Sin, and thus of a lesser hierarchical standing, rather than the expected reverse order. The explanation may lie in the origins of the calendar, wherein the notation of the cycles of the Moon preceded the measurement of the solar cycle. Alexander Marshack, in The Roots of Civilization, suggested that markings on bone and stone tools from Neanderthal times were not decorations but primitive lunar calendars.

In the purely lunar calendars, as is still the case in the Moslem calendar, the holidays keep slipping back by about a month every three years. The Nippurian calendar, having been devised to maintain a cycle of holidays connected with the seasons, could not allow such an ongoing slippage: the New Year, for example, had to begin on the first day of spring. This required, from the very beginning of Sumerian civilization, a precise knowledge of the motions of the Earth and the Moon, and their correlation with the Sun, and thus the secrets of intercalation. It also required understanding how the seasons come about.

Nowadays we know that the annual movement of the Sun from north to south and back, causing the seasons, results from the fact that the Earth's axis is tilted relative to the plane of its orbit around the Sun; this "obliquity" is at present about 23.5 degrees. The farthest points reached by the Sun north and south, where it seems to hesitate, then turn back, are called solstices (literally, "Sun standstills"), occurring on June 21 and December 22.

 

The discovery of the solstices has also been attributed to Meton and his colleague, the Athenian astronomer Euctemon. But, in fact, such knowledge goes back to much earlier times. The rich astronomical vocabulary of the Talmud had already applied the term Neti'yah (from the verb Natoh, "to tilt, incline, turn sideways") to the modern equivalent term "obliquity"; a millennium earlier the Bible recognized the notion of the Earth's axis by attributing the day-night cycle to a "line" drawn through the Earth (Psalms 19:5); and the Book of Job, speaking of the formation of the Earth and its mysteries, attributed to the Celestial Lord the creation of an inclined line, a tilted axis, for the Earth (Job 38:5).

 

Using the term Natoh, the Book of Job refers to the Earth's tilted axis and the North Pole when it states (26:7)

He tilted north over the void
and hangeth the Earth upon nothing at all.

Psalms 74:16-17 recognized not only the correlation between the Earth, Moon, and Sun, and the Earth's rotation about its axis as the cause of day, night, and the seasons, but also recognized the outermost points, the "limits" of the Sun's apparent seasonal movements, that we call solstices:

Thine is the day
and thine also is the night;
the Moon and Sun thou didst ordain.
All the Earth's limits thou hast set,
summer and winter didst create.

If a line is drawn between the sunrise and sunset points for each solstice, the result is such that the two lines cross above the viewer's head, forming a giant X that divides the Earth, and the skies above it, into four parts. This division has been recognized in antiquity and is referred to in the Bible when it speaks of the "four corners of the Earth" and the "four corners of the skies."

 

The resulting division of the circle of the Earth and the skies into four parts that look like triangles rounded at their bases created for the ancient peoples the image of "wings." The Bible thus spoke of the "four wings of the Earth" as well as of the "four wings of the skies."

A Babylonian map of the Earth, from the first millennium BC., illustrated this concept of four "corners of the Earth" by literally depicting four "wings" attached to the circular Earth (Fig. 4).

Figure 4
 

The Sun's apparent movement from north to south and back resulted not only in the two clearly opposite seasons of summer and winter, but also the interim seasons of autumn and spring. The latter were associated with the equinoxes, when the Sun passed over the Earth's equator (once going, once coming back) - times at which daylight and nighttime are equal. In ancient Mesopotamia, the New Year began on the day of the spring equinox - the first day of the First Month (Nisannu - Month "when the sign is given").

 

Even when, at the time of the Exodus, the Bible (Leviticus chapter 23) decreed that the New Year be celebrated on the day of the autumnal equinox, that designated month (Tishrei) was called "the seventh month," recognizing that Nisannu has been the first month. In either case, the knowledge of the equinoxes, attested to by the New Year days, clearly extends back to Sumerian times.

The fourfold division of the solar year (two solstices, two equinoxes) was combined in antiquity with the lunar motions to create the first known formal calendar, the lunar-solar calendar of Nippur. It was used by the Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and other nations after them, and remains in use to this very day as the Jewish calendar.

For Mankind, Earthly Time began in 3760 BC.; we know the exact date because, in the year 1992 of the Common Era, the Jewish calendar counts the year 5752.

Between Earthly Time and Divine Time there is Celestial Time.

From the moment Noah stepped out of the ark, needing reassurance that the watery end of all flesh would not soon recur, Mankind has lived with a lingering notion - or is it a recollection? - of cycles or eons or Ages of Earth's destruction and resurrection, and has looked to the heavens for celestial signs, omens of good or bad to come.

From its Mesopotamian roots the Hebrew language retains the term Mazal as meaning "luck, fortune" which could be either good or bad. Little is it realized that the term is a celestial one, meaning zodiac house, and harkens back to the time when astronomy and astrology were one and the same, and priests atop temple-towers followed the movements of the Celestial Gods to see in which house of the zodiac - in which Manzalu, in Akkadian - they stood that night.

But it was not Man who had first grouped the myriads of stars into recognizable constellations, defined and named those that spanned the ecliptic, and divided them into twelve to create the twelve houses of the zodiac. It was the Anunnaki who had conceived of that for their own needs; Man adopted that as his link, his means of ascent, to the heavens from the mortality of life on Earth.

For someone arriving from Nibiru with its vast orbital "year" on a fast orbiting planet (Earth, the "seventh planet" as the Anunnaki had called it) whose year is but one part of 3,600 of theirs, time-keeping had to pose a great problem. It is evident from the Sumerian King Lists and other texts dealing with the affairs of the Anunnaki that for a long time - certainly until the Deluge - they retained the sar, the 3,600 Earth-years of Nibiru, as the divine unit of time.

 

But what could they do somehow to create a reason able relationship, other than 1:3600, between that Divine Time and the Earthly Time?

The solution was provided by the phenomenon called precession. Because of its wobble, the Earth's orbit around the Sun is slightly retarded each year; the retardation or precession amounts to 1 in seventy-two years.

 

Devising the division of the ecliptic (the plane of planetary orbits around the Sun) into twelve - to conform to the twelve-member composition of the Solar System - the Anunnaki invented the twelve houses of the zodiac; that allotted to each zodiac house 30, in consequence of which the retardation per house added up to 2,160 years (72 x 30 = 2,160) and the complete Precessional Cycle or "Great Year" to 25,920 years (2,160 x 12 = 25,920).

 

In Genesis Revisited we have suggested that by relating 2,160 to 3,600 the Anunnaki arrived at the Golden Ratio of 6:10 and, more importantly, at the sexagesimal system of mathematics which multiplied 6 by 10 by 6 by 10 and so on and on.

"By a miracle that I have found no one to interpret," the mythologist Joseph Campbell wrote in The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology (1962), "the arithmetic that was developed in Sumer as early as c. 3200 BC., whether by coincidence or by intuitive induction, so matched the celestial order as to amount in itself to a revelation."

The "miracle," as we have since shown, was provided by the advanced knowledge of the Anunnaki.

Modern astronomy, as well as modern exact sciences, owes much to the Sumerian "firsts." Among them the division of the skies about us and all other circles into 360 portions ("degrees") is the most basic. Hugo Winckler, who with but a few others combined, at the turn of the century, mastery of "Assyriology" with knowledge of astronomy, realized that the number 72 was fundamental as a link between "Heaven, Calendar and Myth" (Altorientalische Forschungen).

 

It was so through the Hameshtu, the "fiver" or "times five," he wrote, creating the fundamental number 360 by multiplying the celestial 72 (the precessional shift of 1) by the human 5 of an Earthling's hand. His insight, understandably for his time, did not lead him to envision the role of the Anunnaki, whose science was needed to know of Earth's retardation to begin with.

Among the thousands of mathematical tablets discovered in Mesopotamia, many that served as ready-made tables of division begin with the astronomical number 12,960,000 and end with 60 as the 216,000th part of 12,960,000. H.V. Hilprecht (The Babylonian Expedition of the University of Pennsylvania), who studied thousands of mathematical tablets from the library of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal in Nineveh, concluded that the number 12,960,000 was literally astronomical, stemming from an enigmatic Great Cycle of 500 Great Years of complete precessional shifts (500 x 25,920 = 12,960,000).

 

He, and others, had no doubt that the phenomenon of precession, presumably first mentioned by the Greek Hipparchus in the second century BC., was already known and followed in Sumerian times. The number, reduced by ten to 1,296,000, it will be recalled, appears in Hindu tradition as the length of the Age of Knowledge as a threefold multiple of the cycle of 432,000 years.

 

The cycles-within-cycles, interplaying 6 and 12 (the 72 years of a 1 zodiacal shift), 6 and 10 (the ratio of 2,160 and 3,600) and 432,000 to 12,960,000, may thus reflect small and great cosmic and astronomical cycles - secrets yet to be unveiled, of which Sumerian numbers offer just a glimpse.

The selection of the vernal equinox day (or conversely, the autumnal equinox day) as the moment to begin the New Year was not accidental, for because of the Earth's tilt, it is just on these two days that the Sun rises at the points where the celestial equator and the ecliptic circle intersect. Because of precession - the full term is Precession of the Equinoxes - the zodiacal house in which this intersection occurs keeps shifting back, appearing in a preceding 1 in the zodiacal band every seventy-two years.

 

Although this point is still being referred to as the First Point of Aries, in fact we have been in the "Age" (or zodiac) of Pisces since about 60 BC., and slowly but surely we will soon enter the Age of Aquarius (Fig. 5). It is such a shift - the change from a fading zodiacal age to the start of another zodiacal age - that is the coming of a New Age.

Figure 5

 

As Mankind on Earth awaits the change with anticipation, many are those who wonder what the change will bring with it - of what Mazal will it be a harbinger? Bliss or upheavals, an end - or a new beginning? The end of the Old Order or the start of a New Order on Earth, perhaps the prophesied return of the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth? Does Time only flow forward or can it also flow back-ward, philosophers have wondered.

 

In fact, Time does shift backward, for that is the essence of the phenomenon of precession: the retardation in Earth's orbit around the Sun that causes, once in about 2,160 years, the observance of sunrise on the spring equinox not in the next zodiacal house but in the preceding one... Celestial Time, as we have designated it does not progress in the direction of Earthly (and all Planetary) Time, counterclockwise; rather, it moves in the opposite direction, matching the orbital (clockwise) direction of Nibiru.

 

Celestial Time does flow backward, as far as we on Earth are concerned; and therefore, in zodiacal terms, the Past is the Future.

 

Let us examine the Past.

 

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