On April 15, 2014, a total lunar eclipse will occur on the same day as the Jewish Passover on the Hebrew Calendar. Three other lunar eclipses will also closely align during the next two years with the Passover and Tabernacles sacred feast days. Various publications such as Minister John Hagee’s book (“Four Blood Moons: Something is about to Change”) have trumpeted this rare set of four events as a significant sign of the fulfillment of latter-day prophesy. This article will analyze these coming events double checking the claimed alignments and examining the visibility of the eclipses in Jerusalem.
The April 15, 2014 total eclipse will be visible in the US mountain west just after midnight (start of penumbral eclipse at 10:54 pm, totality at 1:46 am, end of penumbral eclipse at 4:38 am).
“And the Moon [will be Turned] into Blood”
This prophesy of the last days in Joel chapter 2 can be interpreted as being fulfilled in a blood-red lunar eclipse. Because lunar eclipses occur about every five months and total lunar eclipses about every 17 months, there need to be further conditions if a particular eclipse is to be considered significant.
Even four-in-a-row total lunar eclipses, except for none during 1600-1900, occur about every 20 years. Interestingly, there are eight sets from 2000-2100, about every 12 years. That is still fairly frequent.
The crucifixion of the Savior on Passover, a key holy day on the Hebrew calendar, supports the theory that God synchronizes key events with specific calendar days. If we are to give special significance to these coming lunar eclipses as preceding possibly apocalyptic last-days prophesies, the holy day alignments and visibility of the eclipses would seem especially important.
Fox News quoted John Hagee in an interview regarding these four total eclipses in a row along with solar eclipses as well synchronized with Hebrew calendar holy days. Scriptures referenced included Joel 2:31, Matthew 24:29-30 and Acts 2:20.
“This is something that just is beyond coincidental,’ Hagee told Fox. He explained that the prophecies in the Bible note that when the sun refuses to shine – and a solar eclipse is expected in the 2014-2015 time frame – and the moon will be turned to blood, then man’s redemption draweth near.”
Pastor Mark Blitz, interviewed by WorldNetDaily, elaborated on information from Hagee’s book.
“‘Not only are there four blood moons on 4/15/14, 10/8/14, 4/4/15, and 9/28/15, but the added significance is that the total solar eclipse on 3/20/15 is on the biblical calendar of Nisan 1. Nisan 1 begins the religious New Year according to the scriptures,’ Biltz explained. This date was the grand opening of Moses tabernacle in the wilderness. This is the day a great sign came and fire fell to light the burnt offering.’
“‘So here we have a total solar eclipse beginning the religious year followed two weeks later by a total lunar eclipse/blood moon on Passover followed by the next solar eclipse (partial) on Sept 13th which just so happens to be Rosh Hashanah!’ Biltz continued.”
Essential Visibility Factor
Looking at the coming April 15, 2014 (7:43 am UTC) eclipse mapping showing its visibility, we can see that it is not visible at all in Jerusalem. 9:43 am in Jerusalem is during the day and the full moon sets at sunrise. I cannot imagine a Hebrew prophet like Isaiah proclaiming an eclipse to be a significant harbinger of the future of the nations of Judah or Israel if it could not be viewed at all from Jerusalem. So, not being visible at all would appear to be an important factor that should be considered in determining if an eclipse is a meaningful sign or not.
The best time for a lunar eclipse is right at sunset or in the early evening. It is then widely visible and a very impressive sight. An eclipse could also be widely viewed if it occurred right before dawn. But an eclipse in the very late evening and in the middle of the night would not be seen by many people, even in our era of electric lighting.
This diagram from the NASA site on eclipses shows the areas of the world that will best see the coming April 15, 2014 lunar eclipse. This eclipse is during the day and thus not visible at all at Jerusalem, the Middle East being in the dark portion of the map.
Yet Another Eclipse for Herod
The date of Jesus Christ’s birth is believed by most scholars to be in 4 to 6 BC. This is because the limited historical data seems to indicate that Herod the Great died before Passover in 4 BC (10 April). An eclipse of the moon, the only one mentioned in all of Josephus’ history, is described as happening before Herod’s grizzly death.
The eclipse that scholars most recently have believed to be the best candidate for the event is a total lunar eclipse on 15 Sep 5 BC at 11:08 pm UTC. Unfortunately, this eclipse occurred after midnight over Jerusalem and would not be widely viewed. Plus, it is a very long time, almost seven months, from this eclipse until the 4 BC Passover date of April 10. The other leading eclipse candidate, a partial eclipse on 13 Mar 4 BC at 3:37 am UTC, is visible at sunrise in Jerusalem but seems to be too close to the Passover date to fit the historical narrative.
This question of visibility over Jerusalem for an important celestial omen in Jewish history is discussed along with many other factors by Dr. John Pratt in his Planetarium Journal article about the birth of Christ entitled “Yet Another Eclipse for Herod.”
Dr. Pratt’s solution promotes the April 6, 1 BC traditional LDS date for Christ’s birth with the eclipse preceding Herod’s death as being on 29 Dec 1 BC at 5:28 pm UTC.This partial eclipse occurred in the early evening and would be widely seen in Jerusalem. It also gives enough time for the events described as occurring between the eclipse and Passover of 27 Mar 1 AD.
Elder David A. Bednar added an interesting comment today, April 6, 2014, in General Conference about the Savior’s birthday.
“Today is April sixth. We know by revelation that today is the actual and accurate date of the Savior’s birth. April the sixth is also the day that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized.”
Exact Holy Day Match and Eclipse Widely Visible in Jerusalem?
A good approach to test the four blood moon theory would be to double check the alignments with Hebrew calendar holy days and check the visibility of the eclipses as seen from Jerusalem. Here are the dates, times and some analysis of the four eclipses. All four are spectacular total eclipses.
Date UTC time Hebrew date Visible in Jerusalem?
Tue 15 Apr 2014 7:48 am 15 Nisan No. 9:48 am (local) daytime
Wed 8 Oct 2014 10:52 am 14 Tishri No. 12:52 pm daytime
Sat 4 Apr 2015 12:03 pm 15 Nisan No. 2:03 pm daytime
Mon 28 Sep 2015 2:47 am 15 Tishri Yes. 4:47 am before sunrise
Here is the date, time and analysis of the solar eclipses also referenced.
Date UTC time Hebrew date Visible in Jerusalem?
20 Mar 2015 9:37 am 29 Adar Partial only. Iceland
13 Sep 2015 6:41 am 29 Elul No. South of Indian Ocean
Both solar eclipses are off by a quarter to half a day from being on the crucial 1 Nisan or 1 Tishri religious or secular New Year dates in Jerusalem. Those holy days also begin in the evening.
Let’s next check the alignments on holy days for the four blood moon lunar eclipses. The second lunar eclipse is off by a few hours from the first day of Tabernacles in the fall that parallels the first day of Passover in the spring. The eclipse is at 12:52 pm Jerusalem time on Wed, 8 Oct 2014 and Tabernacles does not begin until 6:00 pm that evening.
More seriously, since they happen during the day, the first three lunar eclipses will not be visible at all in Jerusalem. This is because a lunar eclipse is always associated with a full moon, which rises at sunset, sets at sunrise and is only visible during the night. Only the fourth eclipse would be visible in Jerusalem shortly before the moon sets at sunrise.
A recent article in jewishpress.com comments on this problem.
“‘[Rabbinical quote from Gemara:] During the time the sun is stricken, it is a bad omen for idolaters. [During the time that] the moon is stricken, it is a bad omen for the Jewish people.’ … one would think that in order for them to be significant to us as Jews, these phenomena would have to be visible from Israel, since as we see in the Gemara … lunar eclipses seem to be tied to the Jewish people. But according to NASA, only one of the four lunar eclipses will be visible from Israel – the one on the first night of Sukkos (September 28) in 5775/2015.”
The solar eclipse of 20 Mar 2015 is only visible as a partial eclipse (with a very limited portion of the moon in front of the Sun) in Jerusalem and can be seen as a total eclipse in Iceland. However, the article in JewishPress.com comments that “since the Gemara says that eclipses of the sun refer to the non-Jewish nations, the fact that a total eclipse will not be visible from Israel would seem to make it less significant to us in a religious sense.”
So, I would just not worry about the solar eclipses being visible at Jerusalem but note that they do not quite align with the Hebrew New Year days. As far as a solar eclipse occurring during the two year blood moon sequence, look at the solar eclipse tables from NASA linked to in the footnotes and you will see that solar eclipses occur frequently.
Does Blood Moon Visibility Affect Interpretation as an Omen for Israel?
For me, this complete lack of visibility in Jerusalem for three of the four total lunar eclipses would eliminate the claim that these four blood-moons together constitute a key last days sign about the coming future of Israel.
I asked Dr. John Pratt his opinion of the four blood moons of 2014-2015. As I mentioned in my link to his journal article on Christ’s birthday and Herod’s death, he has done extensive work on ancient calendars and celestial signs and I respect his opinion as an expert in the field. After he reviewed each of the four proposed eclipses, his conclusion was: “Thus only one of the four occurs on a holy day and is visible from Jerusalem. This does not look like an omen for Israel to me.”
Checking Other Similar Patterns of Eclipses
Additional “four-in-a-row” total lunar eclipses are also promoted in John Hagee’s book as being significant signs concerning the Jews and the state of Israel. These include the lunar eclipses within a couple of years of the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, the 6-day war in 1967, and the ejection of the Jews from Spain and Columbus’ voyage to the New World in 1492.Let’s analyze some of these eclipses as well for holy day alignments and their visibility in Jerusalem. The bolded dates are the Passover and Tabernacles holy days (15 Nisan and 15 Tishri) and the italicized dates are lesser holy days.This footnote also documents an error in the “Four Blood Moons” text in a solar eclipse date for the 1493-1494 example.
Date UTC time Hebrew date Visibility
13 Apr 1949 4:11 am 14 Nisan Jerusalem 6:11 am total, just setting
7 Oct 1949 2:46 am 14 Tishri Jerusalem 4:46 am dawn
2 Apr 1950 8:44 pm 16 Nisan Jerusalem 10:44 pm late evening
26 Sep 1950 4:17 am 15 Tishri Jerusalem 6:17 am total, just setting
24 Apr 1967 12:07 pm 14 Nisan Daytime Not visible
18 Oct 1967 10:15 am 14 Tishri Daytime Not visible
13 Apr 1968 4:48 am 15 Nisan Part at Dawn 6:48 am total, just set
6 Oct 1968 11:42 am 14 Tishri Daytime Not visible
2 Apr 1493 1:28 am 15 Nisan Jerusalem 3:26 am early (Julian)
25 Sep 1493 2:23 pm 14 Tishri Daytime Not visible (Julian)
22 Mar 1494 1:37 am 15 Nisan Jerusalem 7 am early (Julian)
15 Sep 1494 6:32 am 15 Tishri Daytime Not visible (Julian)
There are only three entries in the table out of twelve that are both on the Passover or Tabernacles holy days and visible in Jerusalem.
Perhaps the individual eclipses that do align and are visible (and individually they are quite rare) have some significance. Or, perhaps better results would come from looking at two or three total eclipses in a row rather than just four total eclipses in a row. Or, perhaps partial eclipses should also be allowed into the “in-a-row” sequences.
However, the broad claim that the four blood moons are significant as a group in these several cases is not compelling given this analysis even as was evident for the 2014-2015 blood moon sequence.
A Sign Not Caused by An Eclipse?
Another possibility to consider is that the fulfillment of the “sun turned into darkness” and the “moon into blood” might not always be describing just solar or lunar eclipses. Such an event likely occurred at the crucifixion of the Savior. A partial lunar eclipse did occur on April 1, 33 AD at 7:38 pm Jerusalem time, But the events around the crucifixion seem to describe something far beyond an eclipse. If the coming last days events are to be at the superlative level of the week of the Atonement and Resurrection, then what happened in 33 AD might be a good pattern of what to expect in the coming last-days signs.
How about a spectacular celestial event followed by a lunar eclipse?
The great and marvelous signs of the Savior’s birth and death were prophesied by Samuel the Lamanite from the walls of the wicked city of Zarahemla.
Reading from the New Testament and the Book of Mormon fulfillment of the prophesies of Samuel the Lamanite:
“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.” (Matthew 27:45)
“And it came to pass in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the fourth day of the month, there arose a great storm, such an one as never had been known in all the land. And there was also a great and terrible tempest; and there was terrible thunder, insomuch that it did shake the whole earth as if it was about to divide asunder. And there were exceedingly sharp lightnings, such as never had been known in all the land.” (3 Nephi 8:5-7)
“And it came to pass that when the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the storm, and the tempest, and the quakings of the earth did cease-for behold, they did last for about the space of three hours; and it was said by some that the time was greater; nevertheless, all these great and terrible things were done in about the space of three hours-and then behold, there was darkness upon the face of the land.” (3 Nephi 8:19)
Earthquakes do not last for three hours. Additionally, a Greek historian described “the greatest eclipse of the sun” and that “it became night in the sixth hour of the day [i.e., noon] so that the stars even appeared in the heavens. There was a great earthquake in Bithynia, and many things were overturned in Nicaea.” This document describes events in the Roman year from July 1, 32 AD to June 30, 33 AD.
If these kinds of “above and beyond” signs are scheduled preparatory to the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, eclipses might be only a small part of them.
“And it shall come to pass that he that feareth me shall be looking forth for the great day of the Lord to come, even for the signs of the coming of the Son of Man.” (D&C 45:39)
The presumed end of the world date of December 21, 2012, claiming to have special alignments with the Mayan calendar, could be analyzed using principles of ancient calendars and was found to have characteristics that just did not seem to fit such a momentous date.
In a similar fashion, an analysis of the four blood moon predictions for 2014-2015 reveals that they do not satisfy reasonable requirements for a series of key last-days signs.
We should continue looking forth for the signs of His coming and hopefully not dismiss true signs. But, we should be looking with caution and discernment, “even by study and also by faith.” (D&C 88:118)