Editor – Robert Scott Wadsworth <> P.O. Box 2272, Oregon City, OR 97045
Though the long awaited Leonid Meteor Shower did not reach a storm level of hundreds of meteors per second, it still put on a spectacular show over the Negev Desert in Israel. The following is from a Reuters news release on November 18.
“A shower of meteors lit up the sky over the Negev Desert early on Thursday, falling at the rate of 1,000 per hour in a rare display. Israeli scientists are studying to assess the impact on space objects.
The ‘Leonid’ meteors, named for their apparent emergence from the constellation of Leo, peaked at four a.m. in a brief panoramic spectacle of shooting stars over the desert and then burnt up before they hit the ground.
Israeli star-gazers joined Israeli Space Agency, U.S. space agency NASA and U.S. Army scientists to watch the celestial shower, caused by pieces of rock or iron from the debris trail of the Temple-Tuttle comet hitting the earth’s atmosphere at speeds of around 155,000 miles an hour (70 km per second).
The cosmic light show was best seen in Israel near Mitzpeh Ramon in the Negev Desert, where the dry air, high altitude and darkness of the sparsely populated dunes enhanced the glow of the meteors, which will fall for the next couple of days.
Experts said the storm occurs annually but would not be so spectacular to viewers on earth for another 33 years. The meteor shower was also due to appear over parts of northwest Europe.”
The following is the New Moon Report from Israel for December, compiled by Nehemia Gordon and Magi Shamuel.
“On Monday December 6, 1999 the Old moon was seen until 6:26 by Magdi from Ashdod with the naked eye (1 minute AFTER calculated sunrise) and until 6:34 with 20x60 binoculars. Near the moon was Mercury, which remained visible until 5:48 with the naked eye and until 6:19 with 20x60 binoculars.
On Wednesday December 8, 1999 the moon was NOT seen in the evening from Ashdod.
On Thursday December 9, 1999 the New Moon was seen at: 16:34 from Jerusalem with 10x50 binoculars; 16:45 from Petah Tikvah with the naked eye; 16:47 from Jerusalem with the naked eye and the moon remained visible until 17:22; 16:50 by Magdi from Asdod with the naked eye; 16:56 by Gershom from Efrat with the naked eye; 16:57 by Muse from Ofakim with the naked eye and the moon remained visible until 17:30.”
There is yet dispute with some over what Hebrew month we are now in. I still haven’t received any hard confirmation on the state of the barley crops in Israel last Spring. There are some that believe that the new moon sighted on December 9 began the Hebrew month of Chislev. They will be observing Hanukkah (The Feast of Lights) from January 2/3, 2000 to January 9/10.
By the way, the first crescent light of the New Moon for the month of November was first sighted on the evening of November 9. The next New Moon sighting is expected near sunset on January 8, though there is a slight possibility that it will be spotted near sunset on January 7.
SIGNIFICANCE OF HANUKKAH AND THE MESSIAH’S FIRST APPEARANCE
If the 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 meat 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. (Rosh Hashanah), 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, saith the Lord of hosts.
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.
Jesus Christ 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. Yahshuah (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.
One of the very few foreseeable celestial events that occurs this December is the conjunction of Mercury with the star Antares in the constellation Scorpio on December 17. Charts 123 and 124 show the positions of Mercury, Antares, the Sun and Venus shortly before sunrise as seen from Jerusalem on December 17, 1999. Venus is in Libra (the Sacred Alter); the Sun is just above the foot of Ophiuchus (the woman’s seed) that is getting wounded by the adversary, and Mercury is between the other foot of the woman’s seed (the foot wounding the adversary) and Antares (the wounding). This is a good portrayal of Genesis 3:15.
Though the moon will be somewhat brighter that normal on December 22, it will not be the brightest in 133 years as some have stated. The following is a forwarded message that I received on December 14. I do not know the origin of the message. Though the author most likely had good intentions, He or she did not fully do his or her research.
“Everyone should mark their calendars this month. It will be the Last Lunar Hurrah of the Millennium.
This year will be the first full moon to occur on the winter solstice, Dec. 22, commonly called the first day of winter. Since a full moon on the winter solstice occurred in conjunction with a lunar perigee (point of moon’s orbit that is closest to Earth), the moon will appear about 14% larger than it does at apogee (the point in its elliptical orbit that is farthest from the Earth). Since the earth is also several million miles closer to the sun at this time of the year than in the summer, sunlight striking the moon is about 7% stronger making it brighter. Also, this will be the closest perigee of the Moon of the year since the moon’s orbit is constantly deforming. If the weather is clear and there is a snow cover where you live, it is believed that even car headlights will be superfluous.
On December 21st 1886 the Lakota Sioux took advantage of this combination of occurrences and staged a devastating retaliatory ambush on soldiers in the Wyoming Territory. In laymen’s terms, it will be a super bright full moon, much more that the usual AND it hasn’t happened this way for 133 years! Our ancestors 133 years ago saw this. Our descendants 100 or so years from now will see this again. Remember this will happen December 22, 1999.”
The following is from a Sky & Telescope article released on December 15.
“Brightest Moon in 133 Years? – Suddenly a lot of people are asking this question: Will the full moon of December 22, 1999, be the brightest full moon in 133 years?
According to Roger W. Sinnott, associate editor of Sky & Telescope magazine, the answer is unequivocal: No!
It is true that there is a most unusual coincidence of events this year. As S&T contributing editor Fred Schaaf points out in the December 1999 issue of Sky & Telescope, ‘The moon reaches its very closest point all year on the morning of December 22nd. That’s only a few hours after the December solstice and a few hours before the full Moon. Ocean tides will be exceptionally high and low that day.’
But to have these three events – lunar perigee, solstice, and full moon – occur on nearly the same day is not especially rare. The situation was rather similar in December 1991 and December 1980… (My note: on neither of these two dates did all three events occur on the same day as well as within a 10 hour period as they do on December 22, 1999).
“So is it true, as numerous faxes and e-mails to Sky & Telescope have claimed, that the Moon will be brighter this December 22nd than at any time in the last 133 years? We have researched the actual perigee distance of the Moon throughout the years 1800-2100, and here are some perigees of “record closeness” that occurred at the time of the full Moon:
1866 Dec. 21 357,289
1893 Dec. 23 356,396
1912 Jan. 4 356,375
1930 Jan. 15 356,397
1999 Dec. 22 356,654
2052 Dec. 6 356,421
So it turns out that the Moon comes closer to the Earth in the years 1893, 1912, 1930, and 2052 than it does in either 1866 or 1999. The difference in brightness will be exceedingly slight. But if you want to get technical about it, the full Moon must have been a little brighter in 1993, 1912, and 1930 than in either 1866 or 1999 (based on the calculated distances).
The 1912 event is undoubtedly the real winner, because it happened on the very day the earth was closest to the Sun that year. However, according to the calculation by Belgian astronomer Jean Meeus, the full Moon on January 4, 1912, was only 0.24 magnitude (about 25 percent) brighter than an ‘average’ full Moon.”