There has been a lot of talk lately about the recent lunar eclipse at Passover. However in a recent article I demonstrated that Passover always occurs on or near a full moons, and is therefore a time predisposed to the likelihood of a lunar eclipse. A lunar eclipse at Passover, therefore, is hardly a “sign”.
However I want to talk to you about something that was a very real sign, an apparent SOLAR eclipse which history records once took place at Passover!
Anti-Missionaries often claim that there is no historical evidence to support the Gospel accounts of Yeshua's death, burial and resurrection. In fact one anti-missionary said:
There were no records of earthquakes or darkness on the day
purported as the day of his crucifixion.
There was no tearing of the temple veil recorded
anywhere in history.
This is simply not true. In fact around 52 CE a secular writer named Thallus tried to explain away the darkness at Yeshua's crucifixion saying "this darkness was an eclipse of the sun". This is of course an impossible explanation, because astronomically a Solar eclipse can never take place at or around Passover.
OK lets do some Astronomy 101. A solar eclipse occurs when the Earth, Sun and Moon line up with the Moon directly between the Sun and Earth.
OK lets now do Hebrew Calendar 101. The Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar, with the first day of every month being the new moon. This means that the full moon will always occur about 14-15 days into each month. Now the Passover is on the evening of the 14th of the Hebrew month of Nissan, and the days of Unleavened Bread (often called "Passover") begin on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nissan. In other words Passover typically begins at around the time of a full moon.
OK back to Astronomy 101. A new moon always occurs when the Earth, Sun and Moon line up with the Moon directly between the Sun and Earth. This is because the Moon is tidally locked with the earth, so the same side of the moon constantly faces the earth as the Moon orbits the earth (that is to say that the moon rotates at the same speed is orbits the earth, the effect of which is like a mesh gear). The result is that from the earth, we never see the “dark side of the moon.” And the term “dark side of the moon” is actually a misnomer, as the dark side of the moon gets just as much light as the “near side of the moon”, and a more correct term is “far side of the moon”. A new moon then always occurs when the moon is between the sun and the earth.
Thanks to Thallus, who wrote only twenty years after the events themselves, we know that as a matter of secular history, just twenty years after the crucifixion, the "darkness" that occurred at Yeshua’s crucifixion was a historical fact that secular writers felt a need to try to explain away in some way.
Ironically, Thallus was, at the time, attempting to explain away the darkness as as some kind of natural phenomena.
Ancient skeptics had to admit that an apparent solar eclipse had occurred on Passover, at or near the full moon, something which we today know is astronomically impossible, and could only have been a supernatural sign.
A solar eclipse at Passover is a sign, a lunar eclipse at Passover is not.
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