The significance of the number 8: The eight-looped sun Shamash-Samas compared with other eight-rayed, eight looped sun or eight-petalled lotus symbols

 

 

Achilles and Ajax playing a board game. Eight-pointed sun symbols are depicted on their cloaks. Amphora by Exekias, 6th century BC, Vatican Museum Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Achilles and Ajax playing a board game. Eight-pointed sun symbols are depicted on their cloaks. Amphora by Exekias, 6th century BC, Vatican Museum Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Astrological Origin

The roots of the eight-pointed stat symbolize the four corners of space. The eight lines are symbolic of north, south, east, and west; and time as well with the two solstices and two equinoxes.
The first cross is the intersection of the Galactic Equator with the ecliptic and the axis perpendicular to this intersection. When the Earth Cross and the Galactic Cross are superimposed they form an eight-pointed cross. The two separate crosses become conjunct and form a single 4 pointed cross during the moments of a Great Celestial Conjunction. After the individual crosses separate again and form an eight-pointed cross again.

Source: The Eight-Pointed Star Symbol

href=”https://japanesemythology.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/pyrrhus_kingdom_of_epirus.jpg”>Ancient Greek coin of Pyrrhus of Epirus, Kingdom of Epirus (inscription in Greek: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΠΥΡΡΟΥ). An eight-pointed sun symbol before Athena's face. Ancient Greek coin of Pyrrhus of Epirus, Kingdom of Epirus (inscription in Greek: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΠΥΡΡΟΥ). An eight-pointed sun symbol before Athena’s face.[/caption]

Mayan 8-pointed star
Ishtar (corruption of Ashtar) 8 pointed star
8 pointed star is iconic of Shamash, see the Tablet of Shamash in the photo below

Tablet of Shamash, 888-855 BC, displayed at the British Museum, London Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Tablet of Shamash, Babylonian, Sippar, Southern Iraq, 888-855 BC, displayed at the British Museum, London Photo: Wikimedia Commons

This stone tablet shows Shamash, the sun-god, seated under an awning and holding the rod and ring, symbols of divine authority. The symbols of the Sun, Moon and Venus are above him with another large sun symbol supported by two divine attendants. On the left is the Babylonian king Nabu-apla-iddina between two interceding deities.

The restoration of the Sun-god’s image and temple

The cuneiform text describes how the Temple of Shamash at Sippar had fallen into decay and the image of the god had been destroyed. During the reign of Nabu-apla-iddina, however, a terracotta model of the statue was found on the far side of the Euphrates and the king ordered a new image be constructed of gold and lapis lazuli. The text then confirms and extends the privileges of the temple.

The tablet was discovered some 250 years later by King Nabopolassar (625-605 BC), who placed it for safe keeping, together with a record of his own name, in the pottery box. The clay impressions of the carved panel were placed as protection over the face of the stone. The original one placed by Nabu-apla-iddina was broken when the stone tablet was recovered by Nabopolassar. He replaced it with a new one while keeping the original safely in the box with the tablet.

Source: The Tablet of Shamash, British Museum

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The eight-pointed star was iconic of Shemesh-Shamash

The word Shemesh, sheh’-mesh comes from an unused root meaning to be brilliant; the sun; by implication the east; the figurative use of a ray, means east side (-ward), sun ([rising]) —  See also H1053 in Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary; Wikipedia entry, Shamash.

Shamash (Akkadian Šamaš “Sun”), was a native Mesopotamian deity and the sun god in the Akkadian,Assyrian and Babylonian pantheons. Shamash was the god of justice in Babylonia and Assyria, corresponding to Sumerian Utu. Akkadian šamaš is cognate to Syriac ܫܡܫܐ šemša or šimšu Hebrew שֶׁמֶשׁ šemeš and Arabicشمس šams.

Both in early and in late inscriptions Shamash is designated as the “offspring of Nannar”; i.e. of the moon-god, and since, in an enumeration of the pantheon, Sin generally takes precedence of Shamash, it is in relationship, presumably, to the moon-god that the sun-god appears as the dependent power. Such a supposition would accord with the prominence acquired by the moon in the calendar and in astrological calculations, as well as with the fact that the moon-cult belongs to the nomadic and therefore earlier stage of civilization, whereas the sun-god rises to full importance only after the agricultural stage has been reached.

The two chief centres of sun-worship in Babylonia were Sippar, represented by the mounds at Abu Habba, and Larsa, represented by the modern Senkerah. At both places the chief sanctuary bore the name E-barra (or E-babbara) “the shining house”—a direct allusion to the brilliancy of the sun-god. Of the two temples, that at Sippara was the more famous, but temples to Shamash were erected in all large centres – such as Babylon, Ur, Mari, Nippur, and Nineveh.

Position in the Mesopotamian pantheon
According to the 1911 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica the Shamash cults at Sippar and Larsa so overshadowed local sun-deities elsewhere as to lead to an absorption of the minor deities by the predominating one. In the systematized pantheon these minor sun-gods become attendants that do his service. Such are Bunene, spoken of as his chariot driver and whose consort is Atgi-makh, Kettu (“justice”) and Mesharu (“right”), who were then introduced as attendants of Shamash. Other sun-deities such as Ninurta and Nergal, the patron deities of other important centers, retained their independent existences as certain phases of the sun, with Ninurta becoming the sun-god of the morning and spring time and Nergal the sun-god of the noon and the summer solstice. In the wake of such syncretism Shamash was usually viewed as the sun-god in general.

Together with Nannar–Sin and Ishtar, Shamash completes another triad by the side of Anu, Enlil and Ea. The three powers Sin, Shamash and Ishtar symbolized three great forces of nature: the moon, the sun, and the life-giving force of the earth, respectively. At times instead of Ishtar we find Adad, the storm-god, associated with Sin and Shamash, and it may be that these two sets of triads represent the doctrines of two different schools of theological thought in Babylonia which were subsequently harmonized by the recognition of a group consisting of all four deities.

The consort of Shamash was known as Aya. She is, however, rarely mentioned in the inscriptions except in combination with Shamash.

Another reference to Shamash is the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh. When Gilgamesh and Enkidu travel to slay Humbaba, each morning they pray and make libation to shamash in the direction of the rising sun for safe travels. Gilgamesh receives dreams from Shamash, which Enkidu then interprets, and at their battle with Humbaba, it is Shamash’s favor for Gilgamesh that enables them to defeat the monster. Shamash gifted to the hero Gilgamesh three weapons (the axe of mighty heroes, a great sword with a blade that weighs six pounds and a hilt of thirty pounds and the bow of Anshan).

God of law, justice and salvation

The attribute most commonly associated with Shamash is justice. Just as the sun disperses darkness, so Shamash brings wrong and injustice to light. Hammurabi attributes to Shamash the inspiration that led him to gather the existing laws and legal procedures into code, and in the design accompanying the code the king represents himself in an attitude of adoration before Shamash as the embodiment of the idea of justice. Several centuries before Hammurabi, Ur-Engur of the Ur dynasty (c. 2600 BC) declared that he rendered decisions “according to the just laws of Shamash.”

Mesopotamian limestone cylinder sealand impression: worship of Shamash, (Louvre)

It was a logical consequence of this conception of the sun-god that he was regarded also as the one who released the sufferer from the grasp of the demons. The sick man, therefore, appeals to Shamash as the god who can be depended upon to help those who are suffering unjustly. This aspect of the sun-god is vividly brought out in the hymns addressed to him, which are, therefore, among the finest productions in the entire realm of Babylonian literature
History

Both in early and in late inscriptions Shamash is designated as the “offspring of Nannar”; i.e. of the moon-god, and since, in an enumeration of the pantheon, Sin generally takes precedence of Shamash, it is in relationship, presumably, to the moon-god that the sun-god appears as the dependent power. Such a supposition would accord with the prominence acquired by the moon in the calendar and in astrological calculations, as well as with the fact that the moon-cult belongs to the nomadic and therefore earlier stage of civilization, whereas the sun-god rises to full importance only after the agricultural stage has been reached. The two chief centres of sun-worship in Babylonia were Sippar, represented by the mounds at Abu Habba, and Larsa, represented by the modern Senkerah. At both places the chief sanctuary bore the name E-barra (or E-babbara) “the shining house” – a direct allusion to the brilliancy of the sun-god. Of the two temples, that at Sippara was the more famous, but temples to Shamash were erected in all large centres – such as Babylon, Ur,Mari, Nippur, and Nineveh.

Position in the Mesopotamian pantheon

It is evident from the material at our disposal that the Shamash cults at Sippar and Larsa so overshadowed local sun-deities elsewhere as to lead to an absorption of the minor deities by the predominating one. In the systematized pantheon these minor sun-gods become attendants that do his service. Such are Bunene, spoken of as his chariot driver and whose consort is Atgi-makh, Kettu (“justice”) and Mesharu(“right”), who were then introduced as attendants of Shamash. Other sun-deities such as Ninurta and Nergal, the patron deities of other important centers, retained their independent existences as certain phases of the sun, with Ninurta becoming the sun-god of the morning and spring time and Nergal the sun-god of the noon and the summer solstice. In the wake of such syncretism Shamash was usually viewed as the sun-god in general.

Shamash (Akkadian Šamaš “Sun”) was a native Mesopotamian deity and the sun god in the Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian pantheons. Shamash was the god of justice in Babylonia and Assyria, corresponding to Sumerian Utu.

Akkadian šamaš “Sun” is cognate to Hebrew שמש šemeš and Arabic شمس šams. Source: Shamash

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Scorpion Men stand guard outside the gates of the sun god Shamash at the mountains of Mashu. These give entrance to Kurnugi, the land of darkness. The scorpion men open the doors for Shamash as he travels out each day and close the doors after him when he returns to the underworld at night. Babylonian mythology tells that the Scorpion Men were sons of Tiamat (a chaos monster, a primordial goddess of the ocean). These giant warriors had the body of a man above the waist, but the tails of scorpions. They fought both with their tails and with bows and arrows to guard the sun god Shamash.

Scorpion Men are featured in several Akkadian language myths, including the Enûma Elish (the Babylonian creation mythos) and the Babylonian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh. They were first created by Tiamat in order to wage war against the younger gods for the betrayal of her mate Apsu. They were also known as aqrabuamelu or girtablilu. They also warn travelers of the danger that lies beyond their post. Their heads touch the sky, their “terror is awesome” and their “glance is death”. Source: Global mythologies 

 

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Egyptian-Old Kingdom Egyptians recognized a group of eight deities, four male and four female, with the female bearing feminine forms of the male names: Nu, Nanet, Amun, Amunet, Kuk, Kauket, Huh, and Hauhet. Each pair represents a primal force, water, air, darkness, and infinity, and together they create the world and the sun god Ra from the primordial waters. Together, these eight are known as the Ogdoad, and this context is borrowed by other cultures which may represent it with an octagram.
The Sumerians used an arrangement of lines as a symbol for both star and God. The linear eight-point star represented the goddess Inanna, Sumerian queen of the heavens and Ishtar (Astarte), the Babylonian goddess known as “The Lightbringer.” An eight-point star enclosed within a circle was the symbol for the sun god. The “Babylonian star-cult is the core and the archetype of subsequent astrology.”

For centuries, the Greeks believed that the morning and evening star were different entities. The Greeks recognized Venus as the morning and evening star is 400 BC, 1,500 years after Sumerians.
I mention the Sumerian history to show the earliest origins of the eight-point star as a reflection of astronomical observations from one of the world’s oldest civilizations. Sumer is located in an era of the world where several civilizations, such as Babylonian, Arkadian (Semetic), Elam (proto Indo-Iranian), Egyptian, and Greek expanded and retracted

Ancient Use

An Italian nobleman named Pietro della Valle discovered the use of an eight-point star as a seal in the ruins of the ancient city of Ur (~2000BC), Tell al Muqayyar, in the mid-seventeenth century. He wrote “I found on the ground some pieces of black Marble…which seem to be a kind of Seal like what the Orientals use at this day: for their Seals are only letters or written words…Amongst the other letters I discovered in a short time was…a star of eight points…”
Abraham, the shared prophet of the monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) lived in the Sumerian city of Ur. Excavations from Ur reveal early use of the eight point star, often in the form of an eight petal rosette used in jewelry or metalwork decoration.

Hinduism

The eight paths in the way of Buddha and eight immortals in Chinese tradition carry weight within their culture. However, its universal symbolism is interesting because it deals with balance, harmony, and cosmic order. Its pattern is associated with early astronomy, religion, and mysticism. This comes at a high price to the human race.

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Star of Lakshmi:

In Hinduism, Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, has eight emanations known as Ashtalakshmi, which are represented by two entwined squares forming an octagram. These emanations represent eight forms of wealth: monetary, ability to transport, endless prosperity, victory, patience, health and nourishment, knowledge, and family.

Use in Islam
By the middle-ages, the eight-point star is widely used as a symbol in Islamic art. It is called khatim or khatim sulayman, seal of the prophets, as in signet ring. The phrase “seal of the prophets” is also used in the Koran and has particular ideological meaning for Muslims. Moroccan zillij artisans also refer to the eight-point star as sibniyyah, sabniyyah, which is a derivative of the number seven sab’ah.
The design of the Muslim khatam was likely inspired by Jewish version, which is the Seal of Solomon. The seal of Solomon is a six point star formed by overlapping two triangles. According to the brilliant book, Beginners Guide to Constructing the Universe” Muslim legend recounts Solomon using the star to capture djinns, genies, the immaterial counterparts to humans.

8thWheelYear

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In Japanese mythical and sacred symbolism, the significance is close to that  found in Hindu and Chinese traditions, it implies a multifold number, a multitude, a bounty, an infinity, such as calling Japan” the land of eight million gods”.

Early mirrors of the Kofun Period, however, showed archaeological finds of many lotus motif mirrors and an eight-looped sun motif in the design which scholars believe to be of astrological and solar symbolism.

In Asia, as in Egypt, the Lotus is the iconic symbol of the sun. The Lotus flower is held sacred in the Hindu, Buddhist, and Egyptian religions.

In Egyptian mythology, the lotus was associated with the sun, because it bloomed by day, and closed by night. The lotus was even believed to have given birth to the sun.

The Lotus is a type of water lily, which rises from muddy waters to blossom, making it a symbol of purity and resurrection. The Lotus is one of the eight auspicious signs of Buddhism- an eight petalled lotus used in Buddhist mandalas symbolizes cosmic harmony, a thousand petalled lotus, spiritual illumination. A bud symbolizes potential.

According James Churchward The sacred symbols of Mu:

Fig. A . is an eight-ray’d Sun. This was Mu’s symbol on her Royal Escutcheon. The name in the Motherland of the Sun as the celestial orb was–Kin. In Egypt the name was–Horus. In Greece–Apollo and in Babylonia–Belmarduk, et cetera.

Fig. B. A Sun with rays all around it represented the Sun at his meridian in mid-heavens. Source: The Sacred Symbols of Mu

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