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The Sun god Helios

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The Sun god Helios
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A detailed view of the sun god Helios in the central panel in the nave of the sixth century A.D synagogue at Bet Alpha.

Helios riding in a chariot that is drawn by four horses—a quadriga.  The sky is studded with stars and a crescent moon and the rays of the sun proceed from the head of Helios!

In the circle surrounding that, are 12 frames in which contain the twelve signs of the zodiac along with their names in Hebrew.  Some of these panels are visible in close up: reading counter clockwise are: lower right Taleh (Aries, ram, upside down); Shor (Taurus, bull); Teomim (Gemini, twins), Sartan (Cancer, crab); Aryeh (Leo, lion); Betulah (Virgo, virgin); Meoznayim (Libra, scales); Aqrab (Scorpio, scorpion); Kashat (Sagittarius, archer); Gedi (Capricorn, goat); Deli (Aquarius, water bearer); and Dagim (Pisces, fishes).


For an excellent article on this and similar synagogue mosaics see conveniently: Walter Zanger, "Jewish Worship, Pagan Symbols: Zodiac Mosaics in Ancient Synagogues.  Bible History Daily, July 13, 2021. Accessed July 21, 2021 — https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/ancient-cultures/ancient-israel/jewish-worship-pagan-symbols/  The article was originally published on August 24, 2012 in Bible History Daily.

Information from Nahman Avigad,  "Beth Alpha." Pages 190-92 in The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land — vol. 1. Edited by Ephraim Stern, Ayellet Lewinson–Gilboa, and Joseph Aviram. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society and Carta, 1993.

The synagogue dates to the sixth century A.D. and was destroyed by an earthquake. It was discovered in 1929 and excavated by E. L. Sukenik of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  Today it is located on the grounds of Kibbutz Hetzi–Ba.