If it feels like we’ve been here before, we have. John Hagee imagines that the last 18 months have been a slow-motion display of God saying, “Look out!” (I find it more fun to imagine God’s voice getting really low because it’s stretched out).
Look for a total lunar eclipse on Sunday night (9/27/15). In Seattle, totality begins at 7:11pm and ends at 8:23. The partial eclipse lasts another hour. Add three hours to convert to Eastern time.
Why is this eclipse interesting?
Because the plane that the moon rotates in is off by five degrees from the ecliptic (the plane defined by the orbit of the earth around the sun), an opportunity for either lunar or solar eclipses only happens twice a year. Lunar eclipses are quite common, with total eclipses somewhat less so. Much less likely is when there is a total eclipse and then six months later, another, and then another, and then another—four total lunar eclipses over 18 months. Since the year 1CE, there have been 57 such “tetrads.”
Why is this eclipse interesting religiously?
Now consider the religious connection. The Jewish festivals of Passover and Sukkot begin on full moons, and they are also six months apart. A lunar eclipse tetrad can line up with them, and there have been seven such alignments since 1CE. The eighth concludes on Sunday.
So, what’s the religious significance of this alignment? None. Joel 2:30–31 talks about the moon turning to blood, and Christian Zionist opportunist John Hagee has invented a connection. Since total eclipses usually look red, he calls a lunar eclipse tetrad that aligns with the Jewish festivals “four blood moons,” and he says they line up with significant events in Jewish history. He argues his theory by looking at the last three alignments (the dates below are of the first eclipse in the tetrad).
- 1967 was the Six-Day War.
- 1949 was the establishment of Israel.
- 1493 was the expulsion of the Jews from Spain.
The sharp-eyed reader will notice that the Jews were actually expelled from Spain one year earlier. The date for the establishment of Israel is also off.
So Hagee’s hypothesis is that tetrads mean either good or bad things happening to the Jewish people, with the date a little fuzzy. Note also that not all significant events get a tetrad. The Holocaust during World War II is glaringly absent. God’s message then becomes, “Something good or bad will soon happen to the Jewish people, or has happened, and I might’ve missed a few.” I have higher standards for Hagee’s god than Hagee does.
It gets worse when we consider the four ignored alignments, which began in the years 162, 795, 842, and 860. Hagee doesn’t bother wondering what God was saying with these, because they don’t support his flabby hypothesis. But if God wanted to point to important events for the Jewish people, obvious candidates would have included the three Jewish-Roman Wars. Hagee doesn’t seem to credit his flock with much knowledge, but even they will know the first omission.
- The First Jewish-Roman War (66–74CE) included the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70, the deaths of 1.1 million Jews (according to Josephus), and the enslavement of the survivors.
- The Kitos War (115–117CE) began with ethnic Judeans outside of Palestine rising up to slaughter Roman soldiers and noncombatants—reportedly half a million. The empire put down the revolt, violently.
- The Bar Kokhba Revolt (132–136CE) was, like the First War, conducted in Judea. One source called it a genocide and more significant in damaging Judaism in Judea than the First War.
Even more trivia—fun!
This tetrad as a placeholder provides an opportunity to pile on more stuff with no concern for whether Christianity or Judaism says that this is meaningful (they don’t).
- Eclipse opportunities can create solar eclipses as well as lunar, and this tetrad’s 18-month window includes one solar eclipse.
- The moon’s orbit is elliptical, and once a month it reaches its perigee (closest point) which makes it appear 14% wider than at its apogee (farthest point). Sunday’s eclipse will be of such a “supermoon.”
- The last year in a seven-year cycle in the Jewish calendar is a Shemitah year, and this tetrad included such a year (it ended 9/13/15). Shemitah is a time to let the land go fallow and forgive debts with fellow Jews. However, Wikipedia says, “There is little notice of the observance of this year in Biblical history and it appears to have been much neglected.” And why imagine divine wrath when Shemitah is a time of forgiveness?
- This entire celestial farce has been invisible in Israel, with the exception of this final lunar eclipse.
- Here’s interesting data about why the world will end two days ago.
Let’s conclude by trying to figure out what’s actually supposed to happen in Part 2.
There’s a sucker born every minute.
— Barnum 3:16
Image credit: krheesy, flickr, CC