Issachar, Astronomy and the Friesians

‘And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred…’

1 Chronicles 12:32

Issachar is one of the tribes of Israel whose descendants today are found in Friesland, a province of the Netherlands. 1

The above Bible verse highlights one of the characteristics of this tribe, namely that they have an ‘understanding of the times’.  Scholars are divided on what this statement means.   However, some interpret it to mean that the children of Issachar were known for their knowledge of Astronomy and Physical Science.

It is therefore most interesting to note that the oldest working planetarium in the world, built by Eise Eisinga between the years 1774 and 1781, is found in the town of Franeker in Friesland, home of the tribe of Issachar.

Eise was a very talented mathematician and by his 17th year he had already written a book on Astronomy.

In May of 1774 there was to be a conjunction between the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter.  The people all around the country feared greatly, thinking the planets were going to collide marking the end of the world.

To allay the fears of the people, Eise started the mammoth task of building a planetarium within the confines of his living room ceiling in order to illustrate to the people that a collision of the planets was an impossibility.

It took Eise seven years (spiritual perfection) to complete his work.  In order to build the planetarium it first took him several years to work out the mathematics of the project.  His depth of knowledge must have been astounding as he did not have the aid of modern day computers.  Among other things he had to take into account how to scale the solar system to the dimensions of his living room ceiling as well as take into consideration the speed at which each planet travels around the Zodiac.  The workbooks containing his calculations are displayed in the museum and are an epic feat in their own right.

Now having the blueprint in hand, Eise started to build the model which included hand making the 10,000 nails needed to produce the gears.  His long-suffering wife chose the colour scheme and till today, in all its aspects, the planetarium is still operational and more importantly, accurate.

It is remarkable that even in our modern day people come from all over the world to the land of Issachar to visit this UNESCO World Heritage listed site in order to seek ‘understanding of the times’.

Footnotes

  1. For more information on identifying the Tribe of Issachar with the Friesians see the article by Bert Otten titled ‘Friesians – Sons of Issachar!’ on http://www.originofnations.org/books,%20papers/Frisians(composite).htm.

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