Nehemia Gordon from Jerusalem Israel compiled the following New Moon Report for the month of November 2003 and the beginning of the 9th month on the Hebrew Calendar.
“On Tuesday November 25, 2003 the New Moon was sighted from Israel by: Mordecai Chayinah at 16:35 from Ramala; Magdi Shamuel at 16:55 from Azur (near Tel Aviv); Ronen Eltanani-Farag from Beersheva.”
According to the New Moon Report compiled by Roy Hoffman of the New Moon Society, the New Moon was not seen by observers in Jerusalem (Devorah and Nehemia Gordon, and Roy Hoffman) due to cloud cover.
If we are to go by the criteria that the new moon must be sighted in or in the very near vicinity of Jerusalem to begin the first day of the month and there is overcast where the moon cannot be seen and that day is the 29th day of the month, then that evening automatically by default becomes the beginning of the 30th day and the following evening starts the first day of the next month.
Going by that criteria, the first day of the 9th month of the Hebrew calendar for the common solar year 2003 began at sunset on November 26. Accordingly, the first day of Hanukkah (Chislev 25) begins at sunset on December 20, and the 8th day of Hanukkah ends at sunset on December 28.
As written in the November 2003 issue of Biblical Astronomy there was a good possibility that the total lunar eclipse that was visible from Jerusalem on November 9 would be blood red in color. The eclipse was observed by Roy Hoffman of the New Moon Society from Jerusalem and this is what he reported in an e-mail to me.
“I saw the Eclipse this morning. At mid totality, the Moon was mostly orange-red but more yellowish near the outer edge of the umbra.”
This was not the deeper red that I expected but this was a unique eclipse nonetheless. After I shared information on this event at a local home fellowship that I attend which is on the road to Damascus (Damascus, Oregon), I was told by Marc De La Bruere, who has raised sheep for many years, that when a lamb is cut on the main artery in its neck to slaughter it, the color of the blood is orange-red. I found this bit of information very interesting indeed, considering the constellation that this eclipse took place in (See the November 2003 newsletter).
There is certainly not an over-abundance of known celestial events for the month of December this year. Other than the sun reaching Winter Solstice at 2:04 am EST on December 22, about the only other show in town is the opposition of Saturn (Satan) on New Years Eve. Saturn reaches opposition (its closest approach to the earth and its brightest magnitude for the year) at around 10:45 pm Jerusalem Standard Time on December 31.
According to an article I just read on this event, Saturn is at its closest approach to the earth and brightest magnitude in 30 years. I wrote in the December 2002 issue of Biblical Astronomy that the December 17 opposition of Saturn that year was its closest approach in 30 years. After checking, double- checking, and quadruple checking, I found that I was in error (I hate it when that happens). So the pickins aren’t quite so slim after all. The following is an excerpt from an article by Joe Rao from Space.com that I just happened to stumble across on this particular event. The article was posted on December 5, 2003.
“On New Years Eve the Lord of the Rings will be closer to Earth and brighter than at any time in three decades. All month long skywatchers can enjoy Saturn at its finest. A similar opportunity won't come again for another 30 years.
If in 2003 we had the Summer of Mars, this will be the Winter of Saturn.
On Dec. 31, Saturn will be opposite the Sun in relation to Earth. That means from our planet, Saturn will rise as the Sun sets, reaching its highest point in the southern sky at midnight and setting as the Sun rises. Astronomers call this opposition.
Saturn takes 29.42 years to orbit the Sun. Its path is not quite circular, and it was just on July 26 that Saturn reached its closest point to the Sun on that orbit, called perihelion. The near coincidence of perihelion and opposition dictate that on New Years Eve, Saturn will be closer to Earth than at any time since December 1973.”
Chart 338 below shows the position of Saturn in the constellation Gemini about an hour after its opposition as seen very high in the sky above Jerusalem at 11:41 p.m. JST on December 31, 2003. At this time Saturn reaches its highest point in the sky (80.6 degrees above the southern horizon) and is momentarily stationary in its transit across the meridian (vertical line going through Saturn). The zenith (a point directly overhead) is less than 10 degrees above Saturn. (Saturn will reach this point as seen from Baghdad at Midnight Baghdad time).
Chart 338 – Saturn at opposition in Gemini
The main theme of the sign Gemini is Messiah’s reign as Prince of Peace. But before this occurs, the enemy must be subdued. The star in the chart above and near to conjunction with Saturn (Satan) is Mebsuta, which means treading under feet, as Messiah will tread his enemies under His feet.
For more information on the constellation Gemini, see the June 2002 issue of Biblical Astronomy.
HANUKKAH AND THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM
As I have written in other newsletter articles and my book A Voice Crying in the Heavens, Yahoshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ) was most likely born on Yom Teruah (Day of Trumpets) in 3 BCE. This was September 11, 3BC on the Julian calendar.
If Messiah was born on September 11, 3 B.C., then the events written of in Luke 1:26-38 most likely occurred ~9 months before that date. The mean gestation period (from conception to birth) for humans is 267 days. The actual gestation period can vary for each individual and circumstance, which is plus or minus a few weeks from the mean for most normal births.
Going by when the first light of the New Moon beginning the month of Chislev would most likely to have been visible from Jerusalem in 4 B.C., the first day of Hanukkah on Chislev 25 was on December 14/15 of that year. From December 15, 4 B.C. to September 11, 3 B.C. (Yom Teruah), there are 268 days. There is a very high probability that the events written of in Luke 1:26-38 occurred sometime during the eight days of Hanukkah.
Significance to this can be found in the books of Haggai and Zechariah. Haggai and Zechariah were two prophets in Jerusalem during the same time period (~520-470 B.C.). Their main focus was to stir up the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem to continue rebuilding the temple after the Babylonian captivity. The following are excerpts from the book of Haggai. I suggest you read both chapters for full context.
Haggai 2:6-9 – For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while and I will shake the heavens and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace
Note: E.W. Bullinger, in his work The Witness of the Stars, p.34, refers to the constellation Comah (a decan of Bethulah or Virgo) as The desired of all nations. Comah means the desired, or the longed for.
The main theme here is on the birth of the Messiah.
Following verse 9 there are a number of prophecies that Haggai speaks forth on the 24th day of the ninth month (Chislev).
Verse 10 – In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month…
Haggai 2:18-23 – Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid, consider it. Is the seed yet in the barn? Yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranets, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day will I bless you.
And again the word of the Lord came unto Haggai in the four and twentieth day of the month saying. Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth; And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the Lord, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of hosts.
Yahoshua HaMashiach is a direct descendant of Zerubbabel. See Matthew 1:12 and Luke 3:27. Though the spellings are slightly different for Zerubbable and his father Shealtiel in Matthew and Luke from Haggai, they are one in the same in each instance. It is the promised seed (the Messiah) that is made as a signet, which the above prophecy is about. Could it be that the promised seed was conceived by Mary ~500 years later on the very same day as this prophesy was given (the four and twentieth day of the ninth month)? Of course, this is the day before the first day of Hanukkah, or, the eve of Hanukkah. There are 269 days from Chislev 24, 4 B.C. to Tishri 1, 3 B.C. (September 11, 3 B.C.). It is very possible.
The next record that is of interest is found in Zechariah chapter 4. The following are excerpts from the chapter. Please read the full chapter for further insight.
Zechariah 4:1-5 – And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me saying, What are these, my lord? Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord…
Zechariah 4:11-14 – And answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? And he answered me and said, knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.
There is reference to this again in Revelation 11:3-4 – And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
These two candlesticks or lamps plus the seven candlesticks or lamps between them make up a nine-candlestick menorah or the same number of candlesticks as that of the Hanukkah menorah.
Another interesting factor is that it was most likely during Hanukkah of 2 B.C. that the Magi arrived in Bethlehem. Yahoshua (Jesus) was about 1 year and 3 months old at that time, or a young child (Matthew 2:9-11). Dr. Earnest L. Martin covers this in some detail in his work The Star That Astonished The World, pp. 46-66. He also gives the most likely date of their arrival into Bethlehem as December 25 according to all of the astronomical events occurring on that day. This was the third day of Hanukkah in 2 B.C. There is also some information on this in the December 1997 issue of Biblical Astronomy.
The following is an excerpt from the late Dr. Martin’s book The Star of Bethlehem: The Star That Astonished the World, pp. 63-65.
“This feast of Hanukkah was not ordained in the Old Testament but it was held in high esteem by all Jews. It took on a secular and religious importance that was second only to the Passover season. It commemorated the time in 164 BC when the temple had been cleansed of Gentile idols placed there by Antiochus Epiphanes. The temple had been desolate of its holiness for three years, but in the Jewish month of Kislev, on the 25th day of the month, the temple services were once again established by the Maccabees. That particular day and the seven days that followed are reckoned as days of celebration for the Jewish triumph over what they considered to be paganism and heathen idolatry. The Jewish symbolism associated with these days is the very antithesis of what the Gentile nations were emphasizing at their Winter Solstice celebrations, which probably included the symbolic beliefs that the Magi themselves adhered to in their role as priests.
Hanukkah was considered a festival of Dedication (or rather, of Re-dedication) of the temple and Jewish people to the God of Abraham and Moses. For this reason it became known as a “festival of renewal.” From the middle of the second century B.C. onward, the Jews regularly assembled each year at that time in the temple or their synagogues. They carried branches of trees and palms in their hands, singing psalms to God for the great salvation, which they considered they had been given. They looked on Hanukkah as a second feast of Tabernacles, which symbolized the redemption of the Jews and the entire world to God. No fast or mourning because of any calamity or bereavement was permitted to be initiated during those eight days. It was a time of festivity and celebration. The temple, synagogues and all houses in the nation were lighted both within and without by many lamps and torches during the whole period. Josephus, for this reason, called the festival “Feast of Lamps.”
The Magi would then have witnessed the entire Jewish nation in a holiday spirit. As though they were taking part in the celebrations, these eastern priests would have given their gifts to the young child [or toddler] in Bethlehem on the third day of this Jewish festival. This was a time when the Jewish people were in a happy mood with the whole landscape around Jerusalem and Bethlehem being illuminated with an abundance of lights. Interestingly, it was this precise period when it was customary for the Jewish people to give gifts to their children. From the Jewish point of view, there would have been no better time for the Magi to present their gifts to a Jewish child than at this period of Hanukkah. This was the traditional time for “gift-giving.”
The Jews, however, would not have been honoring the season as devoted to the renewal of the Sun God. It would have been just the opposite for them. To the Jews it was their time to celebrate their triumph over the idolatry of the Gentiles and the renewal of their lives to the God of Abraham and Moses. It is interesting that a permanent removal of idolatry from the world prophesied in the Old Testament to take place at the advent of Messiah. The dedication of the Messiah to the world at the “Feast of Dedication” may well have seemed an appropriate time for such a messianic christening to the Jews in the first century.”
Dr. Martins book The Star of Bethlehem: The Star That Astonished The World is available for $18.95 from:
P.O. Box 25000
Portland, OR 97225
Or, go to the website at www.askelm.com
As shown in Dr. Martins work and to a lesser degree in my book A Voice Crying in the Heavens (See also the December 1997 issue of Biblical Astronomy, the article “December 25, 2 BC), the Star of Bethlehem was most likely the planet Jupiter (Tzedek, The Lord our Righteousness). I do not have the space to go into all of the details here, but there were many celestial events that occurred between 3 BC and 2 BC involving this planet, most occurring in the constellation Arieh (Leo) the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
One celestial event that has been pretty much ruled out as being the “Star of Bethlehem” is a supernova. This is because there are no records of such an event at the period of Messiah’s birth. In my research I have found that there are some records of possible supernovas that the Arab astronomers recorded which are not in the records of Chinese astronomers and vice versa. There are also ancient Korean records that have certain events recorded that are not in either Arab or Chinese records. It is possible then, that a supernova or even a very significant brightening of a long period variable star may have occurred without it being recorded by any of the above, but highly unlikely. But it cannot be completely ruled out as a possibility.
The following is from Mazzaroth by Francis Roleston.
“About 125 BC a star so bright as to be visible in the daytime suddenly appeared; and this, it is said, induced Hipparchus to draw up his catalogue of stars, the earliest on record, which is supposed to be transmitted to us by Ptolemy. Other stars have in like manner appeared and disappeared. Was that mentioned as being in Coma, the head of the infant accompanying Virgo, in the time of Ptolemy, and afterwards gradually disappearing, indeed the star which led the Magi to Bethlehem? Its peculiarity would be, that 1400 years before (Num 24), its place over the very centre of the future possessions of the descendants of Jacob had been predicted. The prediction of Balaam was double, and doubly fulfilled: that Messiah, the bright and morning Star, should come out of Jacob, from Jacob's posterity; and also that a literal star should come forth at or over the land of Jacob's inheritance, to announce as arrived the time of that greater coming, the first appearance of the Desire of all nations.
It is said in the Zend Avesta, that Zoroaster, who taught astronomy to the Persian Magi, had told them, when they should see a star appear in the figure of the virgin, they should go and worship the Great One, whose birth it announced. That they did so we know from the inspired Word. If Zoroaster were, as its supposed, the disciple of Daniel, he would be acquainted with Daniel's prophecy of the seventy weeks of years, which it appears fixed the time of the Messiah's ministry: he would know that at thirty years of age that ministry must be entered on. If he were acquainted with the traditions of antediluvian astronomy, he might know if the now invisible star in Coma was one of those which have appeared and disappeared from time to time, and he might have a record of its period. It has now been invisible some 1700 years: did it shine on Abraham when the Lord bade him look toward heaven, and said, "So shall thy seed be?" Had it shone on Seth and Enoch, when "the family" of Seth, dividing and naming the stars, had called this constellation "the head of the Desired," the promised seed of the woman? An awful question arises: if so, will it shine again? Will it be connected with the sign of the Son of Man, announcing His second coming? We must not inquire when: the times and the seasons are not for us to know.
The bright star which appeared between Cepheus and Cassiopeia in the years 945, 1264, and 1572, the last time being observed by Tycho, the great Danish astronomer, is considered to have probably been the same star at its periodical return of about three hundred years. That which appeared in 1604, in the constellation Ophiuchus, was observed by Kepler. He even conjectured that it might have been the star of Bethlehem; but it was not vertical over Jerusalem and Bethlehem, which the star in Coma was. The star of Kepler was near the ecliptic, being just over the planets Jupiter and Saturn, then in conjunction. The star of prophecy was to appear out of, over, or with Jacob. The Magi knew it, and came to the metropolis of the inheritance of Israel to seek "the King of the Jews." Once in every twenty-four hours it was vertical over that spot; and the Magi knew at that hour it might appear to go before them, and "stand" over the place where the young child was. In the midnight of the winter solstice, at the time of the birth of Christ, the sign Virgo arose. As the season advanced, it would be on the meridian at that time, and the star in Coma would be vertical, apparently standing over the predicted spot long enough to mark it during their visit of homage. As the fugitives from transatlantic bondage follow the north star without map or guide, and reach the shore of freedom, so the Magi might follow the predicted star by observing its position at midnight: when it became vertical, stood as it were over Jerusalem, they stopped. The slight difference in position between Jerusalem and Bethlehem| they are said by an Oriental tradition to have recognized by beholding the reflection of the star in a well.| By the reflection of the sun in the well of Syene it is known the line of the tropic was determined, and by its declension the lapse of years since the well was dug. Was this the well of which David retained such a loving remembrance, of which he longed to drink? The Scripture, however, says nothing for or against this possibility.
From the very ancient book of Job it is seen that the light of early revelation still shone clearly in the land of Idumea; for not only the great patriarch and prophet (Lee's Job) himself, but his three friends partook of it. In the neighbouring lands of Moab and Midian that primeval light was not yet wholly obscured, though idolatry had perverted the daughters of Moab. Balaam evidently knew and believed the immortality of the soul, and the blessedness of the righteous after the death of the body. The light so vivid in the time of Job still shone on him; and however unworthy the recipient, through the prophecy he was employed to utter its rays descended on the long current of ages, even to the time of the Magi, and brought to the feet of the infant Saviour those firstfruits of the Gentile world. Balaam needed not to announce His coming; all antiquity was looking for "the Desire of nations," the promised seed of the woman, the conqueror of the serpent, as foreshown by the constellations and the prophecy they figured: but he announced that the time and place of His manifestation should be declared by the arising of another star at the time of His birth, and over the locality of His future kingdom. Seth is said to have previously given forth the same prediction. Whether a new creation or the return of a periodical star, its time, as now that of comets, being calculated by those wonderful first astronomers, only Divine Wisdom could foretell as was foretold that at its appearance He should be born, the expected Messiah, "the King of the Jews." The star that shone over Bethlehem in splendid reality had illuminated in prediction and in tradition the whole ancient world. A star is the symbol of divinity in the newly discovered Assyrian remains, as it has long been known to be in the mythology of Egypt, Greece, and Rome.
Prophecy is the greatest of all miracles, an immortal, an everlasting miracle, a sign for all ages and all nations, given with the first revelation to the first of men, and with continually brightening and increasing evidence formed to close around the last.”
Chart 339 below shows the sky looking south from Jerusalem toward Bethlehem at 4:20 am on December 25th, 2 BC. This view is zoomed back to a 180-degree field of view in order to get a full view. The zenith, the point in the sky that is directly above the observer, is just below the second e in “Bernices.” At this time, the Southern Cross (Crux) was visible from Israel and is here at its highest point in the sky for the evening. The lower bright star in the cross, Acrux, is about 6 degrees above the horizon and the upper star in the cross, Gacrux, is about 12 degrees above the horizon.
Chart 339 – Looking south from Jerusalem toward Bethlehem at 4:20 a.m. on 12/25/2 BC
In direct conjunction to the Crux (same celestial longitude) is the planet Jupiter at its highest point in the sky for the evening. Jupiter is also stationary in its retrograde motion against the background stars as well as stationary in its movement through the Meridian at this particular time and date (“it came and stood over where the young child was” – Matt. 2:9). Jupiter is in the constellation Bethulah (Virgo), which represents the Promised Seed of the woman.
In direct conjunction to Jupiter is the constellation Comah, the Desired of all nations, and where the above-mentioned supernova is said to have occurred. On this secular astronomy program Coma is seen as Berenices’ hair, but in ancient zodiacs is the figure of the woman and child as seen below. Jupiter was in direct conjunction with the head of the child.
I will leave it to the imagination of the reader to surmise the rest. With that and all of the above in mind have a very merry and joyful holiday season.