The Burning Sun among the Stars – Sibylline Oracles Book 5.155-531

A series of oracles against nations follows (163-227, 286-360). Rome, Egypt, the Gauls, and the Ethiopians are listed for special condemnation in the first section, Asia and Europe in the second. The city of Corinth is singled out for special attention in 214-227. There are various exhortations interspersed in this section along with occasional returns to the theme of the coming enemy. These are consistently identified by Collins as “The Return of Nero” despite some being very vague and not at all clearly referring to the Nero myth. 214-227, for example, is a condemnation of Corinth and only very peripherally about Nero, if at all. That there is a short condemnation of arrogance (228-238) following this section may be related to the arrogance of the Roman emperors.

A long section praises the Jews as the people of God (238-285). This section looks forward to the time when Israel will once again be the “center of the world” and the world will come to Jerusalem to worship, including a prayer for the “fertile and luxurious land of Judea (328-332).

destroy-templeThe coming enemy of God is described again in 361-385. He is a matricide and devises evil schemes in his mind. He will conquer all the lands and like a wintery blast he will make war everywhere. His end comes when fire rains down on men from heaven and all war ceases. An exhortation is attached to this description, encouraging people (Rome) from all sorts of sexual sins presumably associated with Nero (matricide, pedophile, etc., 386-396).

The oracle describes the destruction of the temple by a great horde of illustrious men (397-413). The king who destroyed the temple is said to have died by the hand of the Immortal after he left the land, which is odd since Titus did not die in any unusual way.

A blessed man comes from the “expanses of heaven” with a scepter in his hand which he was given by God himself (414-433). He will return wealth to those from whom it was stolen and make the city of God shine as a brilliant light, more brilliant than the sun and moon. The temple will be rebuilt as an ornament and all the righteous will see it. Both the east and west will sing the glory of God; all the wretched will be judged.

In the context of judgment, the oracle turns against Babylon, the classic enemy of God (434-446). They had been the sole kingdom ruling the earth, but in the end they had to send to Rome for assistance. Catastrophic disasters will happen in those days (447-484): The seas will dry up, Roman ships will no longer sail (Revelation 18, the lament of the seaman). Apocalyptic signs include locust, bloody war, and invasions over frozen rivers, wild animals attacking people, and weakness all over earth, moonless nights and a mist covering the whole world.

Egypt will be converted in the last days (448-511). People in Egypt will decide to build a temple to God in an attempt to worship God correctly, but it will be destroyed; God will therefore rain terrible judgments on the land. This may be a reference to the temple at Leontopolis (Collins OTP 1:405, note i4, but the prediction could be taken as eschatological as well).

The Oracle concludes with a terrible battle in the stars – the constellations themselves are destroyed and the sky becomes starless (512-531). This seems odd, but there may be a subtle condemnation of astrology here. It is possible judgment has come to such a point that the stars are no longer able to guide so it is as if they have gone away.

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