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Author Topic: Astronomy and the Death of King Herod  (Read 1026 times)

Offline Quasar

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Astronomy and the Death of King Herod
« on: February 08, 2014, 12:13:17 AM »
In the face of the historical evidence against it, the majority of theologians have up to now placed the birth of Jesus before the spring of 4 B.C.E. They have insisted on this early date because of a reference in Josephus that King Herod died not long after an eclipse of the Moon and before a springtime Passover of the Jews. This eclipse has become an important chronological benchmark in reckoning the year of Herod’s death.
 Eclipses are powerful astronomical indicators to show the precise times when events happened in history. Even those that happened 2000 years ago can be calculated to within a few minutes of their occurrence, and if one can pick the proper lunar eclipse that Josephus referred to, then further historical inquiry is considered unnecessary because “astronomy” has settled the chronological issue.
 Those theologians who adopted this astronomical principle for solving chronological questions are absolutely correct. There is no arguing with eclipses. They are solid and unchallenged witnesses to support the truth of early historical records — if the correct eclipse is considered. But when astronomers in the last century told theologians that an eclipse of the Moon occurred during the evening of March 13, 4 B.C.E. (and could be seen in Palestine), this eclipse is the one that theologians accepted as the one referred to by Josephus. They particularly preferred this eclipse because Josephus also said Herod died before a springtime Passover. Since March 13, 4 B.C.E. was just one month before the Passover, they felt justified in placing all historical events associated with Herod’s death and his funeral within that twenty-nine day period. The truth is, however, it is completely illogical to squeeze the events mentioned by Josephus into that short period of time. By selecting the wrong eclipse, modern scholars have been forced to tighten considerably the historical events into an abnormally compressed space of only twenty-nine days.
 Eclipse records are very important, but they must be interpreted correctly regarding the chronological period in which they occur. Over a ten-year period, several lunar eclipses are capable of being observed in most areas of the world. Two or three can even occur in one year. This relative frequency of lunar eclipses can be a problem in identifying the ones mentioned by the ancient historians if the early historians gave no details about the time of night, the day of the week, the calendar date on which they happened, or whether the eclipses were full or partial. With the eclipse of Josephus, none of these factors is evident. Josephus gave the single clue that a springtime Passover was celebrated not long after the eclipse. This would appear a reasonable hint that the eclipse happened sometime in the early or late winter.
 It is the mention of this Passover that prompted most theologians up to now to select the eclipse of March 13, 4 B.C.E. as the one that seems to meet the historical circumstances. But this is not possible. A close examination of the records provided by Josephus unearth formidable problems in accepting this eclipse. Using common sense, plus the application of a general understanding of the Jewish social and religious customs in the 1st century, will allow anyone to select the proper eclipse. In no way can it be the one of March 13, 4 B.C.E. Let us look at the lunar eclipses observable in Palestine during the general time for the nativity of Jesus. From 7 to early 1 B.C.E. there were four lunar eclipses. It is one of these four eclipses to which Josephus has reference regarding the time of the death of Herod. Let us look at them carefully. The following table shows when they happened. For reference, see Solar and Lunar Eclipses of the Ancient Near East, by M. Kudlek and E. Mickler

(1971). Solar Eclipses Visible in Palestine
7 B.C. No eclipses
6 B.C. No eclipses
5 B.C. March 23. Total eclipse. Central at 8:30 pm (elapsed time between eclipse and Passover: twenty-nine days).
5 B.C. September 15. Total eclipse. Central at 10:30 pm (elapsed time between eclipse and Passover: seven months).
4 B.C. March 13. Partial eclipse. Central at 2:20 am (elapsed time between eclipse and Passover: twenty-nine days
3 B.C. No eclipses
2 B.C. No eclipses
1 B.C. January 10. Total eclipse. Central at 1:00 am (elapsed time between eclipse and Passover: twelve and a half weeks ).
Which was the eclipse that was associated with Herod’s death? Most theologians have picked the one that occurred on March 13, 4 B.C.E., but they are clearly three years too early. They have thrown to the wind the testimonies of the majority of the early fathers of the Christian Church who placed the birth of Jesus from 3 to 1 B.C.E. If those early fathers would have been consulted and given a reasonable amount of credibility (which they deserve), then Herod’s death would have been sought for somewhere around 1 B.C.E., not three years earlier as is commonly done today.
 We have new historical documentation quite independent of the early Christian fathers or Josephus showing that Herod died in early 1 B.C.E. Later chapters of this book will demonstrate what those historical documents and what new archaeological discoveries indicate to prove the documents. This evidence, along with that given by Josephus, will provide a great deal of evidence to show the eclipse mentioned by Josephus was that of January 10, 1 B.C.E. This gives us a veritable key to open the door of understanding for this obscure period of time. When this is realized the “dark decade” in Roman history from 6 B.C.E. to 4 C.E. will also take on a great deal of illumination. Confusing historical events, which have been and appear contradictory to historians of the early part of the Roman Empire, will become harmonious and consistent.
 So much depends on selecting the proper eclipse mentioned by Josephus. Let us look at the evidence from Josephus, which is the eyewitness account of Nicolas of Damascus whom Josephus quotes. His records prove that the eclipse of March 13, 4 B.C.E. (almost universally accepted) cannot be the correct one.

 From:  www.askelm.com

"I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except by me."  Jn.14:6.





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