Is that a Bear, a Dipper, or a Sheepfold in the Sky?
We spoke in a previous blog about the Gospel message written in the heavens. When Abba took Abraham outside and showed him the stars, He said “look towards heaven, and tell the stars, if you will be able to list them; and He said to him, ‘So shall your seed be’” (Gen 15:5). As a refresher, the word that is translated tell is actually the same word used for taking a census, and means that Abba not only counted the stars for Abraham, but He told him their names! Similarly in Psalm 147:4, David says of YHVH: “He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name”.
As we look out across the night sky, one of the most recognizable constellations is the Big Dipper (and its cousin the Little Dipper). These two constellations are in the Zodiac sign commonly referred to us as Cancer. However, it is very misleading to portray this sign as a crab, as the ancient Hebrew, Arabic, Syriac, Latin, and Greek names for this sign have similar meanings: “to bind together”, “holding” and “encircling”. There was no ancient Hebrew word for crab, as it would have just been included in the general category of unclean creatures not fit for eating. In the center of this sign is a very bright cluster of stars, whose ancient name was Praesepe, which means a multitude or offspring. The names of some of the brightest stars in Cancer have the meanings of: “sheltering”, “hiding place”, “assembled thousands”, and “lambs”. When we put all of these names together, we get a picture of this sign as the fold or sheltering place for a large multitude of lambs.
The first of the three constellations within this sign is the so-called “Little Dipper” or “Little Bear” (Ursa Minor). Once again we see many wide-ranging names, images and descriptions of this constellation. Most of the mistakes in interpreting Ursa Minor stem from the source of these names – all the modern-day names are based on the mythological foundation of the star-picture interpretations. All of these are based on pagan gods and were later inventions which began during the time of Nimrod following the great Flood. As we did with the sign of Cancer, we return to the ancient names for the constellations and the stars within them. In the companion constellation, the “Big Dipper”, the brightest star is named dohver in Hebrew, which means “fold” as in sheepfold. It is also translated as rest or security in the Scriptures, and in Judges 5:16 as sheepfolds. This tells us that both the Big Bear/Dipper and Little Bear/Dipper are actually representing sheepfolds! Part of the confusion may be between dohv and dohver in Hebrew (and also in Arabic): dohv means bear whereas dohver means fold.
The major stars in these two constellations, where ancient names have been preserved, help to confirm their meaning as the lesser and greater sheepfolds of the Messiah: “awaiting Him who comes”, “the redeemed assembly”, “the traveling company”, the “stronghold of the saved” and the “flock”. What is the distinction then between the lesser and greater sheepfold? The greater sheepfold (Ayish in Hebrew) is referred to in Job 9:9 and 38:31-32. It is generally translated as “the Bear with her cubs”. However, in other places in the Scriptures, Ayish is sometimes translated as “moth” or “butterfly”, which is in line with our sacrificed Redeemer, Yeshua the Messiah, whose body was transformed into a glorified body in His resurrection and ascension. We know from YHVH’s promises in His word that Yeshua will return to gather together His children. The remnant that He will gather will be his flock from both the lesser and greater sheepfolds.
Based on many ancient star-names, we believe that the lesser sheepfold will consist of the physical children of the tribes of Israel; not only the Jews but the remnant of all 12 tribes of Israel gathered from throughout the Earth. The greater sheepfold, then, will be the remainder of the multitude of people from the nations who believe and trust in Yeshua as their Messiah, Lord, Savior and Deliverer. Only YHVH knows which fold we are associated with, or whether we are part of His flock at all. I want to be part of this remnant flock. Whether I am from the lesser or greater sheepfold does not matter; Yeshua Himself said: “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd”. (John 10:16) I pray that we as believers in Yeshua will all be part of His flock, and not worry about which fold we are gathered from.