December 1998/January 1999
Editor - Robert Scott Wadsworth <> P.O. Box 5772, Oregon City, OR 97045-8272
Phone (503) 655-7430 <> e-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org <> website - www.atlbible.org/astronomy.htm
I have been a bit busy of late doing seminars and various research projects on the New Moon. One time consuming (but well worth while) project needed to be done by December 20 in order that an article be ready to print for the January issue of Your Jerusalem. As a result of a combination of factors, the December issue of Biblical Astronomy is late. Since I have another busy schedule in January, I combined the December/January issues.
In the November newsletter, I mentioned that there were two witnesses in or near Jerusalem that are sighting the first crescent light of the new moon each month. There are now three observers and more may follow. One of the observers, Bruce Brill, has been sighting new moons for almost five years. Bruce is also a freelance writer. The following is an article that Bruce Brill wrote for the January issue of Your Jerusalem and is printed in this issue of Biblical Astronomy by Bruce's permission.
THE MAIDEN MOON
The Talmud states new moon witnesses can profane the Sabbath to report their sighting. Given that it is permissible in Jewish Law to profane the Sabbath only for the most exceptional reasons, the importance attributed to setting the Jewish holidays by new moon sightings is noteworthy.
The Mishnaic stipulations on a new moon witness are detailed and rigorous. The sighted new moon fixed the month's start, which in turn set the Hebrew holidays. Once the Sanhedrin certified the sightings, the news was communicated to far flung Jewish communities throughout Israel and beyond. This system of sighting, certifying and signaling, continued for hundreds of years. After the Jewish revolts against Rome, most Jews were dispersed from Judea. By the middle of the fourth century the entire system of sighting, certifying and signaling new moons and months in what the Romans had renamed Palestine, was in dissolution. A calendar for fixing our months became essential.
The Jewish calendar, once established by Hillel the Second in the middle of the fourth century, has never been adjusted. Even though the monthly moon cycle varies by as much as +/- 0.7 days per lunar cycle, there has never been an instance where a new moon was ever sighted before the Hebrew calendar date. Only NASA claims to have improved on the amazingly precise lunar cycle of 29.53059 days used in the Jewish calendar.
Why should we Jews, relying on our dependable and venerable calendar, consider any alternative? Yet, the two main reasons for its introduction are no longer relevant. Today there are both enough Jews residing in and around Jerusalem to sight the new moons and ample means to communicate the sightings. There is yet another reason. The same reason that allowed profaning the Sabbath: the gravity of celebrating of holidays on the celestially correct day. The framers of the calendar were eminently aware of this. Isn't this why Diaspora Jews celebrate two days for the major holidays? Isn't it also the reason Rosh Hashanah, even in Israel, is a two-day festival?
Ironically, according to this writer's actual moon sightings from the environs of Jerusalem for the past almost-five years, much of the time both days of the two-day holidays are incorrect. No, the new moon, as said before, never appears before the calendar claims it's due. But, it usually appears two days after the calendar claims it should appear.
Could it be that the Jewish people have been celebrating their Feasts and Fasts on the wrong days? Could it be that this year, for instance, Yom Kippur was not on the day fixed by the Jewish calendar, but two days afterwards, according to the new moon appearance? Although studied in the Hebrew reckoning of time, few present-day rabbis ever sight new moons. In a typical back-and-forth, the understandable initial response of many is therefore that I must be mistaken. Yet, Rabbi David Sakton of the Diaspora Yeshiva, acknowledges that the Vina Gaon postulated the Hebrew calendar is sometimes incorrect. Never mind the Vilna Gaon or the credibility of my sightings, the Jewish Calendar's celestial correctness is irrelevant since the Torah prescribes the Jewish authorities of their time to "set the feasts," traditional Jews maintain. The Jewish authorities' right to fix the months derives from Shemot, Parshat Bo, 12:2 - "This month shall be to you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year." "To you" is the critical phrase giving the Jewish authorities the right to fix the months, and so the Sanhedrin of Judah II fixed the calendar in the middle of the fourth century and until there's a new Sanhedren to either adjust the present calendar or reinstitute the system of sighting, certifying and signaling, the calendar as it stands, stands. Thus say the rabbis. So, why not set the feasts at the celestially correct time as opposed to an incorrect calendar? According to Phil Chernoffsky of Jerusalem's Israel Center, the calendar is not incorrect. In fact, the Hebrew months' beginnings match nicely with the astronomical new moon, or what is referred to in Hebrew as the "molad," typically a day or two before the visible new moon. Rabbi Daniel Issacs of Meitzad points out that "the Jewish calendar obviates the need for witnesses." He believes that the calendar's preceding sighted new moons usually by two days was done on purpose, since in Rabbi Isaacs words, "you can't be half in and half out." Author Rabbi Shmuel Himelstein maintains that the reason for celebrating two-day feasts in the Diaspora was not to guarantee celebration of the Jewish feasts on the celestial correct days, but simply out of tradition and "to remind us that we are in exile." In another typical objection to my claim, some say that the calendar must be correct since the full moon is obvious on feasts which begin in the middle of the month, like Passover or Succoth. Yet the difference between a full moon and an almost full moon is indistinct. In fact, moons with 100% illumination, the astronomical term for a totally full moon, often occur on two consecutive days. No wonder the Jewish month was always set with the unmistakable first appearance of the new moon. Munich University's Dirk Husfeld states, "The phases of the moon (and the first visibility after the [astronomical] new moon in particular) are very easy and quick to observe."
My personal sightings have also been confirmed by other independent new moon watchers. Yet, before the advent of the modern super-computers, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to prove with absolute scientific certainty that my personal sightings were correct. To verify the claims of Orthodox rabbis such as Chernoffsky, Isaacs and Himelstein, this writer asked astronomer Robert Scott Wadsworth if it were possible to go back to the centuries when the calendar was first employed and check the fixed calendar dates for each new month (rosh chodesh) against both molad and sighted new moons from Jerusalem. Using the latest computer technology, Wadsworth generated 32 random new month dates between the Julian calendar years 355 and 594 with their equivalent astronomical and first visible moon times. This is the first time these findings have ever been produced. The results clearly show what the rabbis who instituted the Jewish calendar were thinking and intending. They indicate if what traditional Jews today accept as true, that our calendar does not relate to celestially-correct feast days and never was intended to, is right. In fact, of the 32 random new months, there are none that are two days prior to the first visible appearance of the new moon from Jerusalem. To be fair, there are seven instances where the new moon appearance, being at 1% illumination at 10 degrees or less above the horizon at 5 minutes after sunset, might not have been visible on the first day after the calendar's setting. Yet there are eight times when the calendar new month coincides with the first possible new moon sighting. What this means is that the conventional Orthodox wisdom is incorrect, that the intention of the rabbis who fixed the calendar was that the Jewish people should celebrate the feasts and fasts at the celestial correct times. Apart from the aspect of important historical revelation, the implication for us today isn't that the Jewish calendar, over the 1700 years that it's been in use without adjustment, has drifted almost imperceptibly off. It is one day off from what was originally intended. The Jewish people are out of synch. There are those traditional Jews who maintain that even given this revelation, the question is moot: Since there is no Sanhedrin today to certify sightings, it is administratively impossible to make even the necessary adjustments. Yet, this is seen by some more as excuse than reason. In fact, Yamin Yisrael's Shlomo Lensky proposed the reestablishment of the Sanhedrin as part of his party's platform. He suggests this could solve the calendar enigma. Recently, a group of rabbis, including the former head of the Temple Mount Yeshiva, Rabbi Baruch Ben Yosef, formed a rabbinical court, a "beit din," chaired by Yehudah Etsion of "Chai V'Kayam." This beit din fixed the past month's (Kislev) beginning by proclamation from the Jerusalem Temple Mount for the first time in two millennia. Never mind they chose the calendar's rosh chodesh rather than the day of the sighted new moon, this was an unprecedented first step in inaugurating Lensky's solution. Michael Rood and Astronomer Robert Wadsworth have published a calendar of the monthly new moon appearances from Jerusalem for this entire year.. Michael Rood, a colleague of Wadsworth, arrived in Israel recently with the express purpose of finding moon watchers to confirm his teams' exciting findings. His data from the Jewish New Year and this writer's sightings agree, so far. If Rood's and Wadsworth's data continue to confirm my nearly five-years of observation, then the Jewish people are indeed out of synch. Further, if this is true, then instead of a calendar on the wall, we should be looking for the forlorn maiden moon each month in the twilight of the western horizon.
I thank Bruce Brill for allowing me to print his article in this issue of Biblical Astronomy. Of all the research and data that I have accumulated over the past 20 years, the evidence weighs heavily in favor that each month should begin with the first sighting of the crescent new moon. I strongly believe that God ordained that each new month on the Sacred Calendar should begin with the observance of light rather than the observance of darkness.
NEW MOON WEBSITE
Early Church Communications recently set up a website with the express purpose to proclaim the sighting of the first crescent light of the new moon each month. Witnesses in and around Jerusalem will be sighting the new moon each month. When the witnesses confer and confirm the first sighting of the new moon, it will then be posted on the site. The site's URL is:
This site is temporary and a more sophisticated site is now in construction. We hope to have a recording of a live shofar blowing from Jerusalem on the site for all the new moon sightings from Nisan 1 to Tishri 1. I thank Michael Rood for all of his endeavors to bring this to pass. Michael travailed to Jerusalem in October with the main purpose of finding new moon observers. In his prayers, Michael asked the Lord to bring him into contact with observers. The first day that he was in Jerusalem, Michael went to a harp shop where the first person that he ran into was Bruce Brill. Our God is awesome.
UPDATE ON SACRED CALENDAR
On the last page of this newsletter is the updated version of the Sacred Calendar which now goes into the year 2006. For all dates on the Sacred Calendar, the feast dates start at sunset on the previous day of the listed dates. In A Voice Crying in the Heavens, the dates for Pentecost on the Sacred Calendar are one day off for the years 2000 through 2004. This has now been corrected. On this version, there are two dates given for Pentecost. The earlier date is reckoned 50 days from the first day of Unleavened Bread, and the latter is reckoned 50 days from the first weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. There is a bit of controversy over which reckoning is the correct one. Due to recent studies, I lean towards the latter. This will be covered in further detail in a future newsletter.
COMET LINEAR IN OUTBURST
On November 9, the recently discovered comet C/1998 U5 (LINEAR) was in outburst. The following is from a November 20, news release by Sky & Telescope.
"Surprise Comet LINEAR - Although far from being another Hale-Bopp or Hyakutake, Comet C/1998 U5 (LINEAR) has been putting on a surprisingly good show. Discovered in late October by MIT's Lincoln Laboratory Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) Team and later identified as a comet by team member Frank Shelly, it was not expected to brighten beyond magnitude 10.5. To the surprise of all, the comet underwent an outburst in the second week of November that brought this fast-moving object within range of small telescopes and binoculars. Sky & Telescope contributing editor and veteran comet observer John Bortle put the comet's magnitude at 8.2 and measured a coma diameter of 9 arcminutes on the night of November 13th. This made LINEAR the brightest comet in the sky, a shade brighter than Comet Giacobni-Zinner. The comet is still between magnitudes 8.2 and 8.5. With a 6-inch telescope from light-polluted suburban Boston, the comet was an obvious -- if indistinct -- patch of light with no discernable tail."
When the comet went into outburst on November 9, it was in the constellation Auriga. Chart 85 shows the position of C/1998U5 at that time. Figure 7 shows the picture of the constellation Auriga with the X marking the position of the comet when it went into outburst. Auriga is a decan of the sign Taurus. The main theme of the sign Taurus is God's wrath being poured forth in judgement on the wicked. The constellation Auriga portrays "Safety for the redeemed in the day of wrath." Here we have pictured the Great Shepherd. He is holding up on his left shoulder a she goat. She clings at his neck, and is looking down affrighted at the terrible onrushing Bull. In his left hand he supports two little kids, apparently just born, and bleating, and trembling with fear.
Behold, the Lord GOD will come with a strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:10-11
The horn of the Bull is seen striking the heal of the Shepherd. In the right heal where the horn is striking, is the star El Nath, which means wounded or slain. The Bull does not represent the enemy of God, but the wrath of God going forth, or the judgement of God. It was the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ, who took God's wrath upon himself on the cross so that all who believe on him would be saved from the wrath of God in the Day of His Wrath. He took the penalty of our transgressions upon himself.
For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. I Thessalonians 1:9-10
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. I Thes. 5:9-10
Another decan of Taurus is the constellation Eridanus which is the river of God's wrath being poured forth (also known as the River of Fire). The following is a quote from E. W. Bullinger's The Witness of the Stars, pp. 136-137:
"The connected teaching of the two constellations, Eridanus and Auriga, is solemnly set forth in Malachi 4:1-3 (R.V.):
"Behold the day cometh, It burneth as a furnace; And all the proud, and all that work wickedness, shall be stubble: And the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, That it shall leave them neither root nor branch. BUT UNTO YOU that fear My name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings; And ye shall go forth and gambol as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I do make (marg. do this), saith the Lord of hosts."
In Psalm 37 this day is repeatedly referred to, the day "the wicked shall be cut off"; and it concludes by summarizing the same great truth (vv. 38-40 R.V.)
"As for transgressors, they shall be destroyed together; The latter end of the wicked shall be cut off,But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: He is their stronghold in the time of trouble, And the Lord helpeth them and rescueth them; He rescueth them from the wicked and saveth them, Because they have taken refuge in Him."
Oh, that all who read these pages may heed the solemn warning, and flee for refuge to Him who now, in this day of grace, is crying, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, O all ye ends of the earth" (Isa. 14:22). "
Chart 86 shows the path of C/1998U5 from November 9 to 21, 1998. The comet made a straight path to and through the constellation Cassiopea which portrays the Bride making herself ready for the Bridegroom. This is another sign amongst many recent signs given for our hope of His soon Appearing and that great day of glory.
COMET HALE-BOPP STILL BOPPING
To the surprise of many, Comet Hale-Bopp went into outburst on December 19, 1998. The comet is over 700 million miles from Earth and even further from the sun. It is highly unusual for a comet to have an outburst at that distance from the sun. Many are puzzled at what factors could have driven the comet into outburst. Hale-Bopp was in the constellation Mensa at the time of the outburst. The constellation is a recently named constellation and I have no data on its historical or possible biblical significance.
SEMINARS IN JANUARY
YAKIMA, January 9 - Bob Wadsworth will be teaching on the significance of historical and present celestial events in their relation to Biblical prophetic events on Saturday, January 9, from 1:00 p.m. through the evening in Yakima, Washington. For the location and directions call Don Turner at 509-573-9977.
TBN, FEDERAL WAY - Richard Rives, Michael Rood, and Bob Wadsworth will be doing a special 2-hour live interview at Trinity Broadcast, Federal Way, Washington on January 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The interview will be broadcast throughout the Pacific Northwest. Richard Rives is the author of the book "Too Long in the Sun" and is also the curator of the Ron Wyatt Museum. Michael Rood teaches on the Hebrew Roots of Christianity and the significance of God's appointed feast days in their relevance to the second appearing of Yahshuah.
TACOMA - Richard Rives, Michael Rood and Bob Wadsworth will be holding a seminar on Biblical Archaeology, Biblical Astronomy, and much more, at Dightman's Bible Bookstore in Tacoma, Washington from 7:00 p.m to 10:00 p.m on January 20 and 21.
GIG HARBOR - Richard Rives, Michael Rood and Bob Wadsworth will be holding a seminar on January 22-24, at Gig Harbor, WA.
For further details and directions concerning engagements from January 19 to 24, please call Jamie Louis at 253-759-3828 or 253-472-9125.