Oh Bloody…

“Blood Moon” over Kentucky. Photo by the author.

As an avid astronomer, it would be nice to have just one celestial event that wasn’t hijacked by an astrologer, new age mystic, cult, or end-of-days preacher.10,11,12  This time it’s the latter — old earth creationist John Hagee popping up with his twisted interpretation of last November’s “blood moon”, a beautiful lunar eclipse visible from much of the world.

Hagee believes that lunar eclipses are tied to major events in the history of Israel and the Jewish calendar.  He couldn’t be more wrong.

Following is a debunking in simple quote/response format using Hagee’s statements as they appeared in an online article published by CBN.Since this is a science blog, I’ll concentrate mainly on the astronomy, but weave in enough history and religion to show just how far the preacher goes in violating his religion’s prohibition against lying.

What we’re going to see is that (1) there are no lunar eclipses occurring on most of the dates that Hagee claims, and (2) major events in Israel’s history occurred when there weren’t any eclipses, and (3) events on the Jewish calendar are tied to the lunar cycle because people designed it that way.

We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started…

 

John Hagee

John Hagee.

Quote:

“A blood moon is when the Earth comes between the sun and the moon,  […] and the sun is shining through the atmosphere of the Earth and casts up on the moon a red shadow.  And so the moon appears to be red.”

Response:  One point to Hagee.  He got something right.  Unfortunately, it’s all downhill from here…

 

Quote:

“The sun and the moon and the Earth are controlled by God almighty,” Hagee said. “He is the one that is getting them in a direct alignment on a certain day at a certain time — but each time, it’s a Passover or Sukkot.”

Response:  The paths of the sun and moon are controlled by gravity and inertia, just like all the other bodies in the universe.  But even if you grant Hagee the point and say that God created inertia and gravity, there’s still nothing special about a blood moon occurring on a Jewish holiday.

Jewish holidays are based on a lunar calendar, not a solar calendar.  This means that, from year to year, they don’t  begin on the same day of the solar calendar that Hagee uses (running from January through December).  Stay with me…

Lunar eclipses can only occur during a full moon, when the earth is between the sun and the moon.  It’s important to keep this in mind, so I’ll say it again: lunar eclipses (blood moons) can only occur during a certain phase of the moon (full moon).

It’s not a coincidence that the moon is in a certain phase when a given Jewish holiday begins–and it’s not a miracle–it’s the only time it can happen.  Judaism placed its holidays on a lunar calendar, just as Americans placed the 4th of July holiday on a solar calendar.

Compare a list of Jewish holidays to moon phases during 20142,3 and do the same for 20152,3 and 2016,2,3 and you’ll quickly see the connection.  Keep in mind that the cited tables list solar calendar dates, but the Jewish holidays are based on a lunar calendar.  These different calendars add to the woo factor of Hagee’s miracles.  The Jewish holidays keep popping up on different dates on Hagee’s solar calendar and the moon appears to be “chasing” those holiday dates.  It’s magic!

Well, not really…

Jewish Calendar

24-year Jewish calendar showing the month Adar II (the month of Adar bumped from its normal spot on the calendar by the leap-year addition Adar I). Click image for large version.

There’s a fun twist: it takes the moon a little over 29.5 solar days to orbit the earth, so the Jewish month is about an odd half solar day long.  Over time this “error” accumulates and would force holidays to occur out of season as days shift on the calendar.

To compensate, every few years, an extra month is inserted into the calendar.  The regular month of Adar becomes “Adar II”, and the temporary extra month is named “Adar I”.  This concept should be familiar to many — a solar year is really 365.25 days long, not 365.  Over time, this error would accumulate and the seasons/holidays of the solar calendar would become “off”.  (For Northern Hemisphere Christians, Christmas (December 25) would eventually occur in the summer!)

We know the corrective measure as the leap year.

Why am I banging away at the details like this?  To impress upon the reader just how hard people have worked throughout history to make sure that events such as religious holidays here on earth line up with an event going on up in the sky.

There’s an additional twist: in Judaism, days begin at nightfall, not at midnight as they do on the solar calendar.  For those of you keeping score at home, tying a calendar to both the moon and sun in ways like this technically makes the Jewish calendar a “lunisolar” calendar.  (You’re welcome).

But is there an eclipse every full moon? No.  This is because of yet another twist: with respect to the earth’s orbit around the sun (the “ecliptic”), the moon’s orbit forms an angle of approximately 5 degrees.  Put more simply, if you drew a line between the middle of the earth to the middle of the sun, the moon would appear to swing “above” or “below” the line by 5 degrees as it orbits.  Usually, when the moon is full, it is “above” or “below” our planet’s shadow, and no eclipse occurs.

So, given all of this information on Jewish holidays, full moons, and lunar eclipses, we’re finally ready to look at some actual historical events and Hagee’s claims, and see what, if anything, has been happening on certain Jewish holidays.  Can we make any prophecies of future events based on what we find?

 

Quote:

“I believe that in these next two years, we’re going to see something dramatic happen in the Middle East involving Israel that will change the course of history in the Middle East and impact the whole world.”

Response:  When is something not happening involving Israel that impacts the Middle East and the whole world?13  This is, remember, a country straddling the geographic heart and soul of 3 major world religions.  This kind of prophecy is as easy as predicting an earthquake on the San Andreas fault.  Can you be more specific please?

1948 War map

Israel’s 1948 War.  When is something of importance NOT happening here?  Click image to enlarge.

Quote:

In the past, the rare appearance of four blood moons on these feast days has coincided with major events for Israel and the Jewish people.

In 1492, Spain expelled the Jews. Columbus also discovered America, which became a safe haven for the Jewish people.

Response:  Columbus didn’t “discover” America.  There were millions of people living there when he arrived.  But the honor of being the first foreigner to discover the continent is seriously in doubt.5  Historians say that serious claimants include John Chabot and the Vikings.  But it doesn’t matter.  There were a lot of people living in America when Columbus arrived… consensus estimates seem to put the total around ten million, though some go higher.4

Unfortunately for Hagee there were no total eclipses of the moon in 1492.  There’s nothing even close.  Had he bothered to check, he would not have found totality before November 27, 1490 and then not again until April 2, 1493.16

Having already missed the mark with no total lunar eclipses in Columbus’ banner year, Hagee will be saddened to learn that not even his 1490 and 1493 eclipses occurred during Passover or Sukkot.16,17,18

As a side-note… America did indeed become a safe haven for the Jewish people, as Hagee states, but sadly it did not remain so for the millions of people already living there when Columbus arrived.15

 

Quote:

 “In each of these blood moons, you have something that begins in tragedy and ends in triumph”

Response:  On October 6, 1973,  Arab states launched a surprise attack on Israel during Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in Judaism.  Israel was sent reeling by the attack but turned tragedy into triumph, reaching the outskirts of Damascus in Syria and completely encircling the Egyptian army in the Sinai Peninsula.6

There was no set of 4 blood moons.  There wasn’t even a lunar eclipse during the holidays.7

Wait a minute.  I thought events beginning with tragedy and ending in triumph were supposed to be signaled by blood moons?

Israeli tank, Yom Kippur War

Destroyed Israeli tank, 1973 Yom Kippur War. The war began in tragedy and ended in triumph.   There was no “blood moon.”

 

In all fairness to Hagee, I picked the 1973 date.  So let’s let John pick the date…

 

Quote:

“In 1967, Israel won the Six-Day War and recaptured Jerusalem.

“For the first time in 2,000 years, Jerusalem and the State of Israel were together again,” Hagee said.

Response:  It kills me when authors don’t take time to do their own research.  Notice that in the previous response, I picked the war, and could be accused of cheating.  This time, Hagee picked the war.  Let’s look at 1967:

In 1967 PLO attacks on Israel, Syrian attacks on Israeli civilian settlements, and massing of Egyptian troops on the Israeli border resulted in Israel launching an attack on Jordan, Egypt, and Syria.  The three main Arab belligerents were supported by 11 additional Arab countries and/or political factions.  In just 6 days, Israel won large swathes of new territory, turning tragedy into what some consider miraculous victory.8

There was no set of 4 blood moons.  There wasn’t even a lunar eclipse during the holidays.9

Israeli soldiers, 6 Day War

Israeli soldiers, 1967 “6 Day War”.  The war began in tragedy and ended in triumph.  There was no “blood moon.”

 

Quote:

“He said it’s still unclear what the coming blood moons will bring, but he is certain of one thing.”

Response:  Given Hagee’s horrendous track record in history and predictions, I don’t even want to know what that one thing is.

 

Eclipse over home

Totality is ending. So is this article.   Image by the author.

Image Credits

All lunar eclipse photography by the author.  Copyright (c) 2014 Mark Aaron Alsip.  All rights reserved.

“John Hagee at Podium” from Wiki Commons, by owner Christians United for Israel.  Released into public domain by owner.    Image owner does not necessarily agree with or endorse the views expressed by the author.

“24 year Jewish Calendar for Adar II” from Wiki Commons.  This work is in the public domain of the United States because copyright has expired due to publication date prior to January 1, 1923.

“Israeli Soldiers in 6 Day War” from Wiki Commons.  Released into public domain for all use by owner “ROSENMAN424“.  Image owner does not necessarily agree with or endorse the views expressed by the author.

“Destroyed Israeli Tank” from Wiki Commons.  Image is in public domain as a work of the Egyptian government.

“Israel 1948 War map” from Wiki Commons.  Image released into public domain by Mr. Edward J. Krasnoborski and Mr. Frank Martini, Department of History, U.S. Military Academy.   Map authors do not necessarily agree with or endorse the views expressed by the author.

 

References

Note: To avoid increasing search engine exposure for quack web sites while still providing a link to all my references (like a good scientist should), I use the DoNotLink URL obfuscator to alter links to those sites.  I promise you I’m not redirecting you to porn 🙂

(1) Divine Sign for Israel? Hagee Explains Blood Moons (CBN article being debunked)
http://www.donotlink.com/gp0

(2) Jewish Holidays and Festivals for 2014, 2015, 2016 (Chabab.org)
http://www.chabad.org/holidays/default_cdo/jewish/holidays.htm

(3) Full Moon Calendar – dates and times for 2014, 2015, 2016
http://moongiant.com/Full_Moon_New_Moon_Calendar.php

(4) Alan Taylor (2002). American colonies; Vol 1, Penguin History of the United States, p. 40. ISBN 9780142002100
http://books.google.com/books?id=NPoAQRgkrOcC&pg=PA40&dq=pre-Columbian+population+million&cd=6#v=onepage&q=pre-Columbian%20population%20million&f=false

(5) So, Who Did Discover America?
http://www.historytoday.com/s-frederick-starr/so-who-did-discover-america

(6) Jewish Virtual Library, Chapter 8: The 1973 Yom Kippur War
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/myths3/MF1973.html

(7) Lunar Eclipses: 1971 – 1980
http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/LEdecade/LEdecade1971.html

(8) The Six-Day War: Background & Overview
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/67_War.html

(9) Catalog of Lunar Eclipses: 1901 to 2000
http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/LEcat5/LE1901-2000.html

(10) New Age followers still waiting for aliens to beam them up 15 years after Heaven’s Gate cult suicides left 39 people dead
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2120869/Heavens-Gate-cult-committed-mass-suicide-15-years-ago.html

(11) Alignment 2012 by John Major Jenkins
http://www.donotlink.com/bz8t

(12) Major Planetary Configurations (“Astrology- Find Your Fate”)
http://www.donotlink.com/bz8s

(13) Key Dates in Israel’s History
http://archive.adl.org/israel/advocacy/chronology.html#.VDbmyRaV00o

(14)  Jewish Calendar
http://www.jewfaq.org/calendar.htm

(15) Wounded Knee
http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/knee.htm

(16) NASA Five Millennium Catalog of Lunar Eclipses (1401 to 1500)
http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/LEcat5/LE1401-1500.html

(17) Hebrew Calendar 2271 – 2272 (Roman year 1940 B.C.)
http://www.cgsf.org/dbeattie/calendar/?roman=1490b.c.e

(18) Hebrew Calendar 2268 – 2269 (Roman year 1943 B.C.)
http://www.cgsf.org/dbeattie/calendar/?roman=1493b.c.e

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9 thoughts on “Oh Bloody…

  1. Pingback: John Hagee Repeats His “Blood Moon” Errors–On Film | Bad Science Debunked

  2. Pingback: John Hagee Repeats His “Blood Moon” Errors–On Film « Flexible Reality

  3. Correction: The moon is 28 degrees off the ecliptic, not 5. Your confusion is that the earth’s rotational axis is 23.5 degrees off the ecliptic, and the moon is another 5 beyond that.

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    • I refer to the *difference* in the moon’s angle and the earth’s when I say “with respect to the earth’s…” (that’s where I came up with the five degree difference) but I could have worded this in a better way. Thank you for pointing this out. I’ll see if I can clean up the language. My hope was to whip out some animations in Starry Night Pro to illustrate this but time constraints got the better of me. Many thanks for the feedback, it’s always appreciated.

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  4. So I’m trying to find info on how many Blood Moons have happened through history but when I try to look it up this guy pops up with His book any info on this? Thanks in advance

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    • Wow. Good question. There are at least 2 lunar eclipses per year but you can’t guarantee they were total (“blood moons”–sometimes the moon doesn’t completely enter the earth’s shadow), and there could be as many as 5. And if you want to get really technical you’d have to know exactly when the moon was formed to have a starting date (best evidence is that it wasn’t always there–it formed when something collided with earth early in our history.)

      If you’d like to get around 4,000 years worth of info, you could use the web page linked below. It’s 5,000 years worth of lunar eclipse data, starting in 2,000 BCE and extending 1,000 years into our future. Just chop off the last 1,000 years. The next-to-last column will give you the number of total lunar eclipses (“blood moons”) for each 100 year interval. The last column counts the number of “tetrads” (appearances of 4 “blood moons”) that Hagee finds so prophetic.

      http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/LEcat5/LEcatalog.html

      If you’re good at Microsoft Excel, I think there’s a feature that will allow you to import the table of eclipse data directly into a spreadsheet from the web page. Might be easier to let Excel add up all the 100 year total eclipse values 🙂

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      • Thank You very much for the link and also I’ve started leaving out the words blood moon when searching for answers about lunar eclipses and I have seen on a few sites where 4 total lunar eclipses have happened throughout the 1900’s and I also read about the tetrad that happened from 2003 to 2004 at that time I was just a teenager and the town I grew up in isn’t very concerned about education unless is helps Them control People so none of the Parents of Teachers even mentioned it and I’m pretty sure the only way They would have considered it is if Someone had said it was part of a prophecy just like how many People think that the weather is getting worse because of a prophecy but in reality it only seems that way because it is easier to share events with Everyone else so thank You for taking the time to pass information like this along

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    • Yawn!!First of all,I believe that Hagee;Robertson;Bakker and their ilk are nothing but snake oil salesmen disguising themselves as ministers!!
      Now I’m a Christian but I’m not a wild eyed fundavangelical!!
      Yes,there’s a lot of wit and wisdom in the Scriptures but there’s enough sex and violence in the Good Book that would make Maury”You Are Not the Father!!”Povich and Jerry Springer blush;make Dr.Phil”Quick Draw”McGraw go”WTF???!!”and fill enough episodes of”CSI”;”Criminal Minds”;”Empire”and”Criminal Minds”for the next 500 years!!
      I do believe that there are true faith healers out there but it’s been proven on”20/20″;”60 Minutes”and”Dateline NBC”time and time again that the”healed”are actually ringers who get their instructions via a small earpiece from someone backstage!!
      Now regarding four blood moons:Theyr’e merely that:Four Red Moons!!
      Now for a long time,some folks here in Texas still call a full moon a”Comanche Moon”even though there hasn’t been a Comanche raid in over 140 years!!
      I guess that my Christianity says to love your neighbor;comfort the sick and dying and feed the hungry,not swindle the gullible out of their money!!
      Finally,like a lot of Christians,I believe Israel’s right to exsist as a nation,but the trouble with a lot of fundavangelicals is that Israel’s a soverign nation,not America’s 51st State!!
      Israel’s not your precious little pet that you can play with and pet and call”George”!!!It’s a soverign nation with laws of it’s own!!

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