Astronomical Eclipse Data and Israel’s Feasts
A full lunar eclipse can often result in the moon appearing red or orange, and sometimes even a deep red. When an eclipse producing a red moon occurs at the time of one of Israel’s feasts, it is referred to as a “blood moon,” in part because of the blood sacrifices that these feasts often entailed. Both lunar and solar eclipses can been accurately predicted as well as charted in the past. For example, the NASA eclipse website has a complete listing of 5000 years of eclipse data. The following discussion is based on these data
An event that is already rare astronomically is for 4 full Lunar eclipses to occur in succession. Usually, a number of partial eclipses occur between the times of total Lunar eclipses. Even more remarkable is for such a tetrad of Lunar eclipses to occur on Jewish feast days (whether visible from Israel or not), thus gaining the name ‘blood moons.’
This Lunar tetrad event on Jewish feast days will only occur once in this century, in 2014-2015. The tetrad event only occurred twice in the last century: in 1949 & 1950, then in 1967 & 1968. In each case, the 4 total Lunar eclipses occurred in succession on the Feasts of Passover and Tabernacles two years in a row. The dates were 13th April & 7th October, 1948 and 2nd April and 26th September 1950. The second tetrad occurred on 24th April & 18th October, 1967; then 13th April & 6th October, 1968. It is interesting that the first tetrad of Lunar eclipses in the 20th century occurred immediately after Israel became a nation on 14th May, 1948, and the second tetrad surrounded the return of the Old City of Jerusalem to Jewish control on 7th June 1967.
Total Solar eclipses are not common. In 1967, there were two total Solar eclipses, namely on 9th May and 2nd November. When Solar events like this are linked with total Lunar eclipse tetrads, the chance of this happening is extremely low. Under these circumstances, it may be that the Lord is calling to our attention the significant event in His Program and for the nation of Israel which occurred that year. There is something similar for the formation of Israel in 1948. On 20th May 1947 there was a total Solar eclipse, with the next eclipse being annular. An annular eclipse is essentially the same as a total Solar eclipse except that there is a very small ring of light from the Sun around the outside edge of the Moon which is blocking the rest of the Sun’s light. This annular eclipse occurred on 12th November 1947. Then in 1948 there was another annular eclipse on 9th May, just before the birth of the state of Israel, with another total solar eclipse on 1st November 1948.
The tetrad occurring in this century begins on Passover April 15th 2014, followed by Tabernacles October 8th 2014; then Passover April 4th 2015 and finally on Tabernacles 28th September 2015. The first Solar eclipse occurs on 1st Nisan (March 20th) 2015, and is total. The second is on Rosh Hashana (September 14th) 2015, and is partial. So there is a culmination of significant astronomical events in September 2015 with a partial Solar eclipse for Rosh Hashana just a few days before the key day of Atonement September 23rd, and followed a few days after by a total Lunar eclipse on the Feast Of Tabernacles.
There were no lunar eclipse tetrads in the 1800's or the 1700's or the 1600's, though there were some related events in the 1500's which we will also come to in a moment.
If we go back further in time, the only total Lunar eclipses associated with Jewish feasts were 2nd April, 1493 (Passover), 25th September, 1493 (Tabernacles) followed by total lunar eclipses on 22nd March 1494 (Passover) and 15th September 1494 (Tabernacles). This tetrad may well be associated with the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492. On July 30th of that year, the entire community of some 200,000 Jews was forcibly evicted, forced to convert to Catholicism, or murdered. Tens of thousands of refugees died in the process. The whole scheme was the brainchild of one man, the head of the Spanish Inquisition, Father Tomas de Torquemada.
In the period 1491 to 1493 there were eight solar eclipses associated with the Jewish expulsion from Spain. The sequence began with an annular eclipse on 8th May, 1491, followed by a total eclipse on 2nd November that same year. These were just a few months before the actual Jewish eviction order was published. Then in 1492 an annular eclipse occurred on 26th April and 21st October. In 1493 a total eclipse occurred on 16th April and a partial eclipse on 10th October. In 1494 a total solar eclipse occurred on 7th March, with a partial eclipse on 30th August. These solar eclipses in 1493 and 1494 were associated with the tetrad of total Lunar eclipses that also occurred in those years.
It is for these reasons that a number of people of various faiths are wondering if there will not also be some significant event or series of events primarily concerned with Israel, or perhaps the entire world, near the time of the coming tetrad. Jesus told us no man would know the day or the hour of His coming. However, if we check the Old Testament we find in Joel 1:7 the reference to Israel as both a vine and a fig tree. Jesus appears to pick up this symbolism when He speaks of the end times:
Israel became a nation in a day, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 66:7-9. The fig tree put out its leaves. It was growing again. Does God also use astronomical events as signs? Jesus tells us to watch for them as there will come a time when “the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” This is a clear reference to Isaiah 13:10, which refers to the “day of the Lord,” – “a cruel day with wrath and fierce anger.”
Immediately after the mention of the fig tree, and then saying we would know the end is ‘right at the door,’ Jesus concludes, saying, “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” The reference is to the generation that sees the fig tree begin to leaf – the generation that saw Israel born in a day. That’s us. This is the time.