Wormwood, Star of

Wormwood, Star Of

(ἀστὴρ ἄψινφος, Re 8:10., 11), the Apocalyptic appellation for the natioinal daemon of Egypt, set forth in the vision of Patmos as a luminous idol presiding over "the third part of the waters." The vocation of this star was to destroy by poison, not by fire, sword, or famine; hence the Talmudic phrase "poison in Egypt" is put in opposition to food or "corn in Ephraim" as the symbol of blasphemy and idolatry (Bab. Talmud, Menacoth, fol. 85, 1). Philo also, speaking of Helicon, "the scorpion-like slave," represents him as having cast tip τὸν Αἰγυπτιακὸν ἰόν, " the Egyptian venom," against the dwellers in Palestine (De Legqat. page 102, ed. Turneb.). Daniel gives a clear intimation of his acquaintance with the prevalent belief that, like Persia, Greece, and Judaea, every nation had a celestial prince or patron, שִֹר, sar, or sir (Da 10:21). This sar laneala, "prince on high," of the rabbins had also a representative image in the material firmament (rabbi Salomon on Da 11:1), some (הילל, hilel) glittering son of the morning (Isa 14:12), or "light of lights" (moreg re6) among the splendid stars or intercessors above (Melitim, Eze 32:7-8), who were "darkened" when Pharaoh was extinguished. Eusebius (Demons. Evang. 4:8, 10) and Iamblichus (De Egyptiorum Mysteriis, § 5, c. 25) both mention "the angels who preside over the nations;" and rabbi Solomon, the chief of the Gallican synagogue in his day, affirms that "before God wreaks his vengeance on a people he punishes their prince, because it is written, The Lord shall punish the host of the high ones on high,' and then follows 'and the kings of the earth upon the earth;' and, moreover, it is written, 'How art thou fallen, O Lucifer, son of the morning!'" (Comment. on Isaiah 13:13). Hence, as the literal fulfilment of Isa 24:21, the Jews yet anticipate "the extirpation of all the Gentiles, with their princes on high and their (pretended) gods" (Nizzehon, page 255, in Wagenseil's Tela Ignea).

John seems to employ this symbol of Egyptian. poison and bitterness, as the prototype of a great antiChristian power, which would poison and embitter the pure waters of Christian life and doctrine, converting them into "wormwood," mitzraim being a figure of apostasy and rebellion. SEE STAR.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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