The Stars of Israel
There a lot of good reasons to perceive the narratives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the twelve sons of Israel as fictional accounts. One of them is that scholars have been able to date the time in which they were written to about the seventh century, and, according to the Bible, the events were supposed to have taken place about 2200 BCE-a 1600 year gap.
It was common practice, in those days, to write a legendary history as a means of defining a common cultural background. They weren't intended to serve as an accurate history; there were no records to work from.
According to the "Oxford History of the Biblical World", page 17, Israel was composed of a confederation. When a tribe joined, a name was placed in the eponymous list of sons of Jacob/Israel.
The twelve familiar names of the zodiac came from the Greeks. What we are interested in is what the Hebrews called these twelve constellations. In Genesis 49, Jacob is at the end of his life when he calls his sons together to tell them what fortune awaits them.
Placing the names of the twelve tribes with the zodiac is not an exact science. I have three references, named below, that come to different conclusions. On some names they agree and on others they don't; sometimes they are not convincing.
At minimum, they tell is that the Hebrews had a strong belief that the stars and the sun held the secrets to their destiny. By sticking with the symbology of the basic constellations and the stars that fall within their sector, I think I have come up with a better fit.
After Jacob fathered his twelve sons, God changed his name to Israel. In a roundabout way the name "Israel" means constellations of the Zodiac. According to Strong's dictionary, "Israel" means "he will rule as God". Astrologically, the sun god rules according to the motifs of the zodiacal constellation it is in.
28"Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed." (Gen 32:28)
In Genesis 49, Jacob the father sun is entering the twilight of its descent. Jacob's swan song is to review the future of his twelve zodiacal sons.
2 (Gen 49:1-2)
Rueben rules in Aquarius the water bearer because of his association with water.
4 (Gen. 49:3-4)
Jacob's firstborn, Rueben, had sex with one of his father's concubine.
2223 (Jacob's first-born) (Gen 35:22)
Gemini and Libra
Simeon rules Gemini and Levi rules Libra as brothers in violence. Both constellations symbolize the number two. The Gemini are brothers and Libra the scale for settling debts.
That they "hamstring oxen" can be seen when the sun rises into Gemini, making the stars of Taurus appear to descend as if hamstrung. In the zodiac circle, Gemini lies above and next to Taurus, and Libra is opposite Taurus. Astronomically, when the sun ascends into Gemini, Taurus falls away from the sun. And when the sun enters Libra, Taurus is in full descent.
Jacob says he will divide and scatter the brothers in Israel, which means the two constellations are not in juxtaposition; one is next to Taurus and the other is opposite Taurus.
As slayers of men, Gemini includes two bright stars called the twins. In ancient mythology, the Gemini twins were warlike heroes who avenged the kidnapping of their sister Helen to Troy.
In Genesis 34, their sister Dinah was raped by Schecham the son of Hamor the Hivite. Simeon and Levi took revenge by murdering the father, son and all the males of the city. Not content to stop there, they plundered the city.
Judah rules Leo the lion. Lions got their title as king of beasts because July is the hottest time of the year. Judah is the tribe from which king David descends.
Jacob associates Judah with lions. A throwback to the ancient Egyptians, a scepter and staff symbolize sovereignty.
Pisces is ruled by Zebulun by its association with the sea. As a haven for ships, fish supply food for long voyages. Of course, water borders land.
13 (Gen. 49:13)
Issachar rules Taurus the bull. Asses associate with bulls in the sense that they are both pulling animals. Taurus follows Aries the sheep in the zodiac.
Dan rules Scorpio. In the sector of Scorpion, there is the constellation Serpens the serpent. A viper that bites the horse's heels, juxtapositions Scorpio next to Sagittarius, the half man half horse. When horse and rider fall backward can be seen because Sagittarius descends lower than Scorpio.
Gad rules Sagittarius. "Raiders" make us think of something military. Being an archer, Sagittarius is a warlike constellation.
Asher rules Virgo with its association with food. The sun enters Virgo at the end of the growing season. Virgo is pictured with stalks of grains in her hand.
20 (Gen. 49:20)
Naphtali rules Aries the lamb. The sun enters Aries at the beginning of spring when fawns and lambs are born.
Joseph rules Cancer. The sun enters Cancer at the height of its ascent when Orion the hunter with its bow can be seen upright. In the zodiac circle, Cancer is opposite Sagittarius, so allegorically they are in opposition. The archers' attack comes from Sagittarius the archer shooting across the divide from the winter solstice to the summer solstice.
Orion is not one of the twelve zodiac constellations, but next to the sun, it is the most important constellation in Jewish and Christian mythology. He is the favorite son and the only one who receives God's blessings.
Starting at Genesis 37, Genesis devotes more space to Joseph than any of the other brothers. Joseph's brothers didn't like him, so they left him in a pit to be picked up by a caravan and sold as a slave in Egypt. In Christian mythology, Orion is personified as the Son of man.
26 (Gen. 49:25-26)
Benjamin rules Capricorn as a ravenous wolf when Sirius the Dog Star rises above the horizon in early January. It is the brightest of all the stars. In Christian mythology, it is the Star of Bethlehem.
A hint of Paul's dishonesty comes from his claim to be a descendant of the nonexistent tribe of Benjamin. After the Jews were exiled in 586 BCE, tribal names became extinct.
1I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. (Rom. 11:1)
Allegorically, when the sun dies, it is in full descent at the darkest months of winter, and is said to be in a cave. Thus, Jacob is buried in a cave. By a remarkable coincidence, Jesus was also carried to a cave after he died.
What's in a Name
If we want to get sticky about names, even the Bible doesn't agree on all of them.
Exodus 1 agrees with Genesis 49.
12345 (Ex. 1:1-5)
Judges 5 misses two tribes: Simeon and Levi. Two of them, Meroz and Machir, were added. Considering the importance of the tribe of Levi in the Exodus, this is not a minor omission-Moses and Aaron were supposed to be a Levites.
23(Judges 5:14-18, 23)
In Deuteronomy 33, only eleven tribes are named; Simeon's name is missing.
Kabbalistic Astrology by Rabbi Joel C. Dobin.
Alan Oken's Complete Astrology by Alan Oken.
Christianity Before Christ by John G. Jackson.
The New Patterns in the Sky by Julius D. W. Staal
The Oxford History of the Biblical World edited by Michael D. Coogan.
The Bible Unearthed by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman.
Star Names, Their Lore and Meaning by Richard Hinkley Allen