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Khima And Kesil


Copyright (C) 1978 by Immanuel Velikovsky

Editor's Note: The material in the following article was first conceived and written some thirty-five years ago. It is only a fractional part of a much larger work - Saturn and the Deluge - dealing with earlier catastrophes and intended as a sequel to Worlds in Collision For the time being that sequel remains unpublished. Nevertheless, the identifications of Khima and Kesil (Khesil) were already made in Worlds in Collision (p 208), and an explanation was promised at that time. Since then, others have worked independently on the problem as well.

In the Tractate Brakhot of the Babylonian Talmud it is said that the Deluge was caused by two stars that fell from Khima toward the Earth. The statement reads:

"When the Holy One decided to bring the Deluge on the Earth, He took two stars from Khima and [hurling them against the Earth] brought the Deluge on the Earth."(1)

The sentence is said in the name of Rabbi Samuel. This Rabbi Samuel was regarded as a great authority in the field of astronomy, actually as the Talmudic authority in this science.

The Tractate Brakhot so explicitly points to the cause of the Deluge that, before classifying the narrative in Genesis in its entirety as folkloristic imagery (which in part it most certainly is), we ought to inquire: Which celestial body is Khima?

In the rabbinical literature Khima is referred to as Mazal Khima(2) Mazal is "planet". Then which planet is Khima?

In the Old Testament there are several instances where Khima is mentioned. In Job (9: 5-9), the Lord is He who "removes mountains... overturns them... shakes the earth out of her place... which commands the sun and it rises not... which alone spreads the heaven... Which makes Ash, Kesil, and Khima and the Chambers of the South...." In the King James Version these names are translated as Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades. "Chambers of the South" are usually explained as constellations of the south.

Khima and Kesil are also named in Job 38:31, here again in a text that deals with violent acts to which the Earth was once subjected: "... Who shut up the sea with doors [barriers] when it brake forth...." Who could command the dawn "that it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it." The Lord asks Job: "Canst thou bind the chains (fetters) of Khima or loosen the reins of Kesil? Canst thou lead forth the Mazzaroth in its season...?" The Cambridge Bible wonders at the meaning of this passage. Like the King James version it translates Pleiades for Khima, and Orion for Kesil. Mazzaroth is left untranslated.

In Amos (5:8) once more Khima and Kesil are mentioned in a verse that reveals the great acts of the Lord who "maketh Khima and Kesil, 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 upon the face of the earth...."

Hieronymus (St. Jerome), the fourth century author of the Latin version (translation) of the Old Testament Vulgate translates Khima as Arcturus in one instance (Amos 5:8), as Pleiades in another (Job 38:31), and as Hyades in the third (Job 9:9).

Similarly, Kesil was translated by the Greek version (the Septuagint of the third century before the present era) as Hesperus, or the Evening Star, and in another instance as Orion. The confusion of the translators may be illustrated by the following tables: the renderings found in the Vulgate are as follows:

Job 9:9 Hyades Orion Arcturus
Job 38:31 Pleiades Arcturus
Amos 5:8 Arcturus Orion

And these are the translations of the Septuagint:

Job 9:9 Arcturus Hesperus Pleiades
Job 38:31 Pleiades Orion
Amos 5:8 not given not given

Obviously, the true meaning of these names was lost: one and the same authority in various instances used different constellations or planets (Evening Star) for each of them: Kesil, Khima, Mazzaroth and Aish (Ash). Later interpreters groped in the dark, so Calmet, the eminent French commentator and exegete of the early eighteenth century translated Khima (in Amos) as Great Bear.(3)

The interpreters were especially intrigued by the description in Job 38:31. The Lord proves to Job his impotence by asking him whether he can bind the bonds of Khima or loosen the reins of Kesil. "The word in the second clause is from a root always meaning 'to draw'...."(4) Which star is in bonds? And which star is drawn by reins, as if by horses?

The identities of Khima and Kesil, Ash and Mazzaroth, were of lesser importance when it amounted to finding their meaning for their own sake in the poetical sentences of Amos and Job. But such identification, especially of Khima, grows in importance if the quoted sentence from the Tractate Brakhot may contribute to an understanding of the etiology of the Deluge as the ancients knew it, or thought to know it.

In Worlds in Collision I have already explained that Mazzaroth signifies the Morning (Evening) Star: the Vulgate has Lucifer for Mazzaroth, and the Septuagint reads: Canst thou bring Mazzaroth in his season and guide the Evening Star by his long hair? I have shown why the Morning-Evening Star was described as having hair or coma and why Venus did not appear in its seasons.

Kesil means in Hebrew "fool". From the Biblical texts it is not apparent why one of the planets received this adverse name, or why, if such was the case, the word "fool" was derived from the name of the planet.(5)

In the Iliad, Ares-Mars is called "fool". Pallas-Athena said to him: "Fool, not even yet hast thou learned how much mightier than thou I avow me to be, that thou matchest thy strength with mine."(6) These words explain also why Mars was called "fool": it clashed repeatedly with the planet-comet Venus, much more massive and stronger than itself. To the peoples of the world this prolonged combat must have appeared as a very valiant action of Mars, not resting, but coming up again and again to attack the stupendous Venus, or it must have appeared as a foolish action of going again and again against the stronger planet. Homer described the celestial battles as actions of foolishness on the part of Mars.

Thus Kesil, or "fool," among the planets named in the Old Testament is most probably Mars.

"If not for the heat of Kesil the world would not fare well, because it counterbalances the cooling effect of Khima" This sentence is found, too, in the Tractate Brakhot of the Babylonian Talmud.(7)

In Pliny we find a sentence which reads: "The star Mars has a fiery glow; owing to its excessive heat and Saturn's frost, Jupiter being situated between them combines the influence of each and renders it healthy."(8)

The heating effect ascribed in the Talmud to Kesil is ascribed by Pliny to Mars, and the cooling effect of Khima to Saturn. With this sentence of Pliny we are strengthened in our identification of Kesil as the planet Mars; it corroborates the conclusion just made with the help of the Iliad. But what is even more important, Pliny helps identify "planet Khima": it is Saturn.

Cicero wrote similarly with Pliny: "While the furthest [of the five planets], that of Saturn, has a cooling influence, and the middle planet, that of Mars, has a heating influence, the planet Jupiter, which is situated between these two, has an illuminating and moderating influence."(9) Other statements to the same effect are found in Vitruvius,(10) a contemporary of Cicero, and in the neo-Platonists Porphyry,(11) Plotinus(12) (both of the third century) and Proclus(13) (who flourished in the fifth century). In these sentences, as in those of Pliny and of the Talmud, Mars is regarded as being a fiery planet,(14) Saturn as being a cold planet.

The passage in the book of Job (38:31) can now be read: "Canst thou bind the bonds of Saturn or loosen the reins of Mars?" The bonds of Saturn can be seen even today with a small telescope. The reins of Kesil I discussed in Worlds in Collision, Section "The Steeds of Mars." The two small moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, were known to Homer(15) and are mentioned by Vergil.(16) They were regarded by the peoples of antiquity as steeds yoked to Mars' chariot; Job was asked whether he could loosen their reins.

The passage in the Talmud that makes the planet Khima responsible for the Deluge means: "Two stars erupted from the planet Saturn and caused the Deluge."


1. Tractate Brakhot, Fol 59.
2. Jacob Levy, Worterbuch uber die Talmudim und Midrashim (2nd ed., Berlin and Vienna, 1924): entry "Khima."
3. Augustin Calmet, Commentaire litteral sur tous les livres de l'ancien et du nouveau Testament, 'Les XII petits prophets' (Paris, 1715).
4. A.B. Davidson suppl. by H.C. Lanchester, to Job 38:31 in The Cambridge Bible (1926).
5. S.R. Driver to Amos 5:8 in The Cambridge Bible (1918).
6. The Iliad book XXI, 400. T. Tractate Brakhot, Fol. 58b.
8. Pliny Natural History 11.34: "Saturni sidus gelidae ac rigentis esse naturae... tertium Martis ignei, ardentis a solis vicinitate... ideoque hujus ardore nimio et rigore Saturni, interjectum duobus ex utroque temperari Jovem salutaremque fieri...."
9. Cicero, De Natura Deorum 11. xlvi. 112-113: "cum summa Saturni refrigeret, media Martis incendat his interjecta Jovis illustret et temperet."
10. Vitruvius, De Architectura IX. 1, par. 16: "... in quibus locis habet cursum Martis stella, itaque fervens ab ardore solis efficitur. Saturni autem quod est proxima in extremo mundo et tangit congelatas caeli regiones, vehementer est frigida. ex eo Ioves cum inter utriusque circumitiones habeat cursum, a refrigeratione caloreque earum medio convenientes temperatissimosque habere videtur effectus."
11. L. Thorndike, A History of Magic and Experimental Science, Vol. I (New York, 1920), p.43.
12. Plotinus, Is Astrology of Value? transl. by K. Guthrie (Loeb Class. Libr., 1918): "When the cold planet (Saturn) is in opposition to the warm planet (Mars), both become harmful."
13. Proclus Diadochus, Commentaire sur le Timee, transl. by A.J. Festugiere (Paris, 1967) vol. IV., p. 92, "Les Astres," iii.1.: "... Il y a une autre triade, ou Saturne et Mars sont les extremes et en opposition l'un a l'autre, selon que l'un est cause de connection, l'autre de separation, l'un principe de refroidissement, l'autre d'echauffement, et ou Jupiter tient le milieu et porte a un heureux melange les activites creatrices de deux autres."
14. The other name for Mars in rabbinical Hebrew, maadim, signifies "red" or "reddening." Mars has a reddish color.
15. Iliad, XV. 119-120.
16. Georgica III.91: "Martis equi biiuges."
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