The solar eclipse on Friday was not an extraordinary celestial event, according to scientists, but the timing of the event is causing many Christian believers and Jews to watch the skies and the news. Many of the faithful believe this particular event is associated with a future dramatic event involving Israel.
This solar eclipse, which was created by the moon blocking the sun, was most visible in northern countries including Iceland and Norway. Others around the globe from North Africa to Europe got a glimpse of the event. Those in Israel saw 40 percent of the sun blocked. The next eclipse is set for 2020, according to scientists.
Rare does not adequately describe this solar eclipse, according to prophecy watchers. This solar eclipse falls in the middle of four blood moons, called a tetrad, with two blood moons occurring last year and two more occurring this year. The events are made even rarer by the fact that they are all occurring on Jewish holidays, specifically on Passover and the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which sets the Jewish New Year into motion. The last time this exact sequence occurred was from April 1967 through October 1968. It coincides with Israel conquering its aggressors during the Six-Day War in May 1967, and that victory allowed the country to expand its borders.
Prior to that, prophecy enthusiasts state there were only two other times where solar eclipses occurred in a tetrad that fell on Jewish holy days. One was over the course of 1949 and 1950, where the solar eclipse was seen after three lunar eclipses. That coincides with Israel being given United Nations recognition as a country in May 1948. The solar-tetrad before that occurred over the years 1493 and 1494 and included a solar eclipse after one lunar eclipse with the other three moon events in the tetrad occurring later. During that time Christian conversion became a cause for Spanish monarchs. Jews who refused to convert to Catholicism were watched, persecuted and eventually driven out of Spain under the Edict of Expulsion signed by King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella I on May 30, 1492. That same year, explorer Christopher Columbus sailed to the New World which prophecy scholars point to as part of a divine plan to save the Jews.
Although there is evidence suggesting North America was discovered by several groups much earlier that his exploration, Columbus’ venture led to many persecuted Christians and Jews fleeing to this new land to escape persecution. Ironically, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella financed part of the voyage even though the kingdom was short on funds at the time. The rest of the money came from private Italian investment bankers.
There are more coincidences in this latest sequence of solar events that have caused keen interest in those who study Bible prophecy. This sequence of eclipses falls in a Shemitah year, which occurs every seven years and is considered a Jewish Sabbath year where the world rests. Old Testament Biblical instruction orders that no one is to plant, that all debts are to be forgiven and slaves are to be set free during a Shemitah year. The last two tetrads in 1967 and 1949 were not in Shemitah years, which occurred in 1965-66 and in 1944-45 according to the Jewish calendar.
Typically, Jewish tradition associates an eclipse of the sun with bad omens. Israel is in a state of flux at the moment with the assertive campaign and re-election of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, ongoing conflict with Palestinians, and a newly formed Hamas-backed government orchestrated by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2014. These world events lead some following prophecy to believe the signs were written in the stars.
While the series of timing coincidences is interesting, scientists who study space in both the United States and Israel are not putting much stock in the notion that the series means anything significant for Israel or the world. Astronomers say the tetrad is rare, but not terribly unusual and solar eclipses are fairly common. The last solar eclipse was Nov. 13, 2012. The Israel Space Agency said these events are interesting to watch because it changes the sky for a day, but they said it does not cause the world to change forever.
By Melody Dareing
Photo by David Fntau- Flickr