VAT 4956: Observations from Lines 1 & 2

Perhaps you are reading this in order to verify the claims of the November 1, 2011 Watchtower. If not, you may wonder, why is this important?

The astronomical diary VAT 4956 points to Nebuchadnezzar’s 37th regnal year. By knowing his 37th year, we can calculate back to his 18th year, the year he destroyed Jerusalem.

If Year 37 was 568 BC, Year 18 was 587 BC.

If Year 37 was 588 BC, Year 18 was 607 BC.

To reference a listing of Babylonian constellations see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylonian_star_catalogues

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Based on the astronomical data of VAT 4956, Assyriologists Dr. Abraham J. Sachs and Hermann Hunger dated the tablet’s observations, which points to Nebuchadnezzar’s 37th regnal year, providing the following calendar at the end of their translation:

CalendarForVat4956

Month 1 of Year 37 is dated April 21/22, 568 BC. Note that -567 is the astronomical rendering for 568 BC and that the Babylonians reckoned their day from sunset to sunset. Therefore, the first day of the new year would start the evening of April 21st until the evening of the 22nd.

Note too that they date several months that appear on VAT 4956: Month 2, 3, 10, 11, 12, and the beginning of year 38. How can these scholars be so sure?

The dozens of observations of VAT 4956 act as a cosmic fingerprint of the ancient sky and such a combination of observations do not occur but once in millennia past and future. Only one year in recorded history fits the observations of VAT 4956, and that year is: 568 BC.

What follows are a couple of observations from VAT 4956 that demonstrate why. In this post, we will concentrate on lines 1 and 2. God willing, we will cover more observations in subsequent posts.

Line 1 reads:

vat4956_line1

The beginning of the Babylonian month was signaled by the appearance of first sliver of the new moon. As you can see in this screenprint, on April 22, 568 BC, the moon makes an appearance behind Taurus, that is the “Bull of Heaven”. If you note the illuminated fraction, you can clearly see a sliver.

Line1_Moon

 

Still on Month 1, Day 1 of Year 37, line 2 is as follows,

vat4956_line2

If you reference the link provided in the intro on Babylonian constellations, you will find that the Swallow was parts of what today we call Pisces and Pegasus. From the screenprint below, we find Saturn “in front of the Swallow”.

Line2_Saturn

Note that Saturn takes 29.45 years to revolve about the Sun. Thus the planet moves very slowly across the night sky. Later on in VAT 4956, in Month 2 and in Month 12, we find the further observations of Saturn consistently in front of the Swallow. These observations of Saturn fit 568 BC as Year 37.

But where was Saturn in 588 BC? For the answer, see the following screenshot:

588_Saturn

As you can see, in 588 BC, Saturn was nowhere near the Swallow, but could be found between Cancer, Gemini, and Canis Minor. Quickly, we see why anyone with a vested interest in ‘proving’ that Year 37 was 588 BC would be anxious to discount the planetary observations of VAT 4956. Time and time again, the planetary observations do not match 588 BC.

Stay tuned for further observations…or better yet, do the research for yourself. If you find any mistakes in the research, I can and will correct it.

VAT 4956: Show, Don’t Tell…

Perhaps you are reading this in order to verify the claims of the November 1, 2011 Watchtower. If not, you may wonder, why is this important?

The astronomical diary VAT 4956 points to Nebuchadnezzar’s 37th regnal year. By knowing his 37th year, we can calculate back to his 18th year, the year he destroyed Jerusalem.

If Year 37 was 568 BC, Year 18 was 587 BC.

If Year 37 was 588 BC, Year 18 was 607 BC.

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The November 1 article says that “researchers have carefully analyzed these 13 sets of lunar positions on VAT 4956. They analyzed the data with the aid of a computer program capable of showing the location of celestial bodies…” What are the said results of this research? “Clearly, much of the astronomical data in VAT 4956 fits the year 588 B.C.E. as the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar II. This, therefore, supports the date of 607 B.C.E. for Jerusalem’s destruction…”

In the footnotes, we find that the results of these researchers stand on two assumptions:

(1) the planetary observations are useless and must be discounted.

(2) The Babylonian calendar in 588 BC began on May 2/3.

However, in previous posts, we established through neutral, academic sources these assumptions are false. The planetary observations on VAT 4956 are clear and unambiguous. It was impossible for the Babylonian year (Nissan 1) to have ever began as late as May, even with a preceding intercalary month.

Who are these “researchers”? They are not named. Where are the full results of their analysis shown? They are not…neither in the magazine, nor on the official website. In high school, often math teachers would say, “show your work”. But nowhere is the work shown.

Rather than relying on unknown researchers, have you examined VAT 4956 for yourself? It is not beyond your ability to do so. You do not need to know how to read cuneiform, any more than you need to know Hebrew or Greek to read the Bible.

You simply need two things:

(1) A translation of VAT 4956: http://www.caeno.org/pdf/F019_Translation.pdf

(2) Free astronomical software: http://www.ap-i.net/skychart/

In subsequent posts, we will do an analysis of some of the planetary and lunar observations on VAT 4956, where the results will be shown. However, rather than taking my word for it, why don’t you do the research for yourself?

Are the names of planets unclear on VAT 4956?

Perhaps you are reading this in order to verify the claims of the November 1, 2011 Watchtower. If not, you may wonder, why is this important?

The astronomical diary VAT 4956 points to Nebuchadnezzar’s 37th regnal year. By knowing his 37th year, we can calculate back to his 18th year, the year he destroyed Jerusalem.

If Year 37 was 568 BC, Year 18 was 587 BC.

If Year 37 was 588 BC, Year 18 was 607 BC.

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Footnote 18 of the November 2011 article says of VAT4956, “They also list 15 sets of planetary observations. (Pages 72-76) Though the cuneiform sign for the moon is clear and unambiguous, some of the signs for the names of the planets and their positions are unclear. (Mesopotamian Planetary Astronomy—Astrology, by David Brown, published 2000, pages 53-57) Because of this, the planetary observations are open to speculation and to several different interpretations. Since the moon can easily be tracked, the positions of those other celestial bodies mentioned on VAT 4956 and connected to the moon can be identified and their positions dated with a good measure of certainty.”

Footnote 19 says, “Because the cuneiform signs for many of the planetary positions are open to speculation and to several interpretations, these positions were not used in this survey to pinpoint the year intended by this astronomical diary.”

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Is this claim true? Are the planetary names on VAT 4956 unclear, ambiguous, open to speculation and interpretation?

The reference  for this is listed as the work Mesopotamian Planetary Astronomy—Astrology, by David Brown, pages 53-57. Is this what the scholar David Brown says about VAT 4956? Have you looked up the reference for yourself to make sure?

Below are scans of the pages in question. In it you will find references to VAT 4956 as “-567 Diary”, the name referring to the conventional date the diary points to: 568 BC. However, the passage is a study of not just VAT 4956, but the usage of planetary names on Babylonian astronomical tablets in general.

In all these various tablets, David Brown makes five categories in regard planet names. The category he calls “A-names”, described as “unique to Jupitar, Venus, Mars, Mercury, Saturn, the Sun, and the Moon respectively. They are never used for any other celestial bodies.”

However, B-names can be “shared only with other planets and usable under any circumstance”. Similarly C-names, D-names and E-names are not unique.

In the following pages, he calls out these A-names, referencing among other astronomical tablets where these Babylonian planet names appear -567 Diary–that is VAT 4956.

Therefore from this we can conclude that VAT 4956 uses A-names, which are unique and never used for other celestial bodies. And indeed, if you read a translation of VAT 4956 this is what you will find. They are clear and unambiguous, NOT open to speculation or interpretation.

Pages 53-57 are as follows:

PAGE53

PAGE54

PAGE55

PAGE56

PAGE57

Did Nissan 1, 588 BC begin in May rather than April?

Perhaps you are reading this in order to verify the claims of the November 1, 2011 Watchtower. If not, you may wonder, why is this important? The astronomical diary VAT 4956 points to Nebuchadnezzar’s 37th regnal year. By knowing his 37th year, we can calculate back to his 18th year, the year he destroyed Jerusalem.

If Year 37 was 568 BC, Year 18 was 587 BC.

If Year 37 was 588 BC, Year 18 was 607 BC.

According to footnote 17 of the November 2011 article, in the year 588 BC, Nissan 1 (the beginning of the Babylonian year), began on May 2/3, (the day running from the evening of the 2nd until the evening of the 3rd) rather than the conventional date of April 3/4. Footnote 17 claims this is due to the intercalary month in Year 36 that is indicated on line 6 of VAT 4956. Is this true?

First, let us consult what historians have to say. A good resource for the Babylonian calendar is the work Babylonian Chronology 626 BC-AD 75 by Richard A. Parker and Waldo H. Dubberstein.

Here is what they record for 569 to 568 BC:

568

Note that 569 BC indeed has an intercalary month after the 12th month, just as VAT 4956 indicates in Line 6. They also show that Nissan 1, 568 BC began on April 23rd.

Here is what they record for 589 to 588 BC:

588

Note that 589 BC did NOT have an intercalary month. Also, they show that 588 BC began on April 4th, not May 3.

In fact, check any credible historical resource and you will find the same thing again and again. The fact is that the month of Nissan NEVER began as late as May in the entire history of the Babylonian calendar. Why? Because the purpose of the intercalary month was to make sure the year did not begin too early. The Babylonians would never have added it in such a way to make the year begin too late. This would have served no purpose.

Note also that VAT 4956 records the summer solstice on the 9th day of the third month:

Soltice

If in 588 BC, Nissan did begin on May 2/3 and we counted forward to the 9th day of the third month (Sivan), we would arrive at July 8/9. Any astronomical program can tell us what the solstice was on any given year in recorded history. In 588 BC, the solstice was on June 29th—not July 8/9.

In 568 BC, the solstice was on June 29. If we count back from the 9th day of the third month, we find that Nissan 1 begins on April 22/23 as the conventional calender records. One again, VAT 4956 fits 568 BC hand to glove and points to 587 BC as Nebuchadnezzar’s 18th year.

Unfortunately, this means the claim that 588 BC began in May is absolutely false. And without adjusting the Babylonian calendar ahead a month, every claim that is built on it is similarly false.

For more information on VAT 4956 see:

Month 1:

 

Months 2 & 3:

Side 2:

Or learn to do the archaeoastronomy for yourself:

A Mental Exercise for Christians: Was Harold Camping a False Prophet?

Why should we care about the religious broadcaster Harold Camping? Because Jesus advised us at Matthew 7:15, saying: “Be on the watch for the false prophets.” 

Harold Camping gives us a good test case of one who not only didn’t qualify as a ‘faithful and discreet slave’, but one who was in essence, a false prophet. By performing this exercise in regard Camping, we can safely examine what it means to be a false prophet without the blindspots we might have toward any group we might happen to be affiliated with. By going through this exercise, we will be more equipped to spot false prophets,

But was Harold Camping a false prophet?

The May 1, 2014 Watchtower says, “RELIGIOUS LEADERS sometimes predict tragic worldwide events to warn mankind and gather followers. Doomsday prophet Harold Camping and his disciples widely advertised that the earth would be destroyed in 2011. Needless to say, the world is still here.” 

This article further says, “Human predictions are often based on such factors as scientific research, analysis of available facts and trends, or even bogus spiritual insight.”

Therefore, Harold Camping was indeed a false prophet who used ‘bogus spiritual insight’ to make predictions that did not come true. The question we should all ask ourselves is: are there other religious leaders or organizations out there that have done the same thing?

If you have time, please watch the above video with the following questions in mind:

  • If Harold Camping uttered a false prophesy, how would God and Jesus view this?
  • Does Harold Camping deriving his prediction from calculations or ‘misplaced expectations’ based on Scriptural interpretation rather than claiming inspiration, make him less of a false prophet?
  • Was he not simply just “keeping awake” rather than “sleeping”?
  • Should Harold Camping have tried to calculate God’s timetable?
  • Where the Apostles at Acts 1:6,7 like Harold Camping, proclaiming a worldwide campaign that set definite dates regarding the times and seasons of God’s timetable, or did they simply direct a question toward the person who would know best?
  • After the Apostles learned that it did not belong to them to know, did they go ahead proclaiming their own predictions anyway?
  • If it did not belong to the Apostles to know God’s Times and Seasons, why did Harold Camping think it belonged to him?
  • Could Harold Camping then be considered a faithful and wise servant of God?
  • Was he faithful to God’s word which precludes making false prophesies?
  • Was he wise in doing so?
  • Was he giving the right sort of food at the right time?
  • What did this prediction show in regard Harold Camping’s credentials as to being a unique messenger or channel of communication from God?
  • Should those that listened to Harold Camping have demanded ‘more than the usual’ of him?
  • Should they have continued to follow his teachings?
  • If he had been shown to be a false messenger, could he later have become a true channel of communication from God?
  • Could they expect someone who proved to be a false prophet to suddenly become a true prophet?
  • Even though Harold Camping directly apologized, calling his predictions a “sinful statement” and publicly asking God for forgiveness, should he have stepped down as a teacher?
  • What was his responsibly to the followers who emptied their bank accounts and quit their jobs to help spread this message?
  • Even if he truly repented and they forgave him, would it follow they should have kept following him as a credible teacher of God’s word?

“Advertise, Advertise, Advertise”–What Message Was Advertised in 1922?

The August 2014 Kingdom Ministry says: In 1922, J.F. Rutherford boldly proclaimed, “Behold, the King reigns! . . . Advertise, the King and his kingdom.” In this 100th year of Kingdom rule, his exclamation still fills us with excitement.  

However, what message was the Judge directing people to advertise? Was it the same message that the Watchtower advertises today?  Have you ever read the context of this talk? It can be found in the November 1, 1922 Watchtower, page 337.

Some might wonder: Why should be care over 92 years later? That’s ancient history!

Well…origins matter, do they not?

A faithful and discreet slave will be faithful and discreet, giving the right sort of food at the right time. If Christ appointed the leaders of the Watchtower “The Faithful and Discreet Slave” in 1919, we should except their message to be faithful and discreet. We should expect the message to be the right food at the right time. Only by examining the spiritual food being dispensed can we determine the credentials of these religious leaders as being the Faithful and Discreet Slave.

“Millions Now Living Will Never Die”—Where Are Those Millions?

One of the hallmarks of a “faithful and discreet slave” is that they would be faithful and discreet, serving the right sort of food at the right time. Such a slave would not be presumptuous, “going beyond the things that are written” or making predictions when God’s word tells us plainly that “nobody knows the day or the hour.” We would expect Christ’s favor and blessing to be upon and to continue with only those who met this criterion.

Case in point was the “Millions campaign” that started in 1918 and continued up until the year 1925. The message declared worldwide was “Millions Now Living Will Never Die”. Likely you’ve heard of this campaign, but have you ever examined the message beyond the title? What did they mean that millions now living will never die? Where are those millions now?

Was this message faithful? Was is discreet? Was it food at the proper time?

 

100 Years Since October 2, 1914–Is It Significant?

On October 2, 1914–a hundred years ago today–Charles T. Russell announced, “The Gentile times have ended; their kings have had their day.” For almost 40 years, among other predictions for that year, 1914 had been looked to as the end of Armageddon, ‘false’ religion, and all governments, and the beginning of paradise on earth and the resurrection. Nothing predicted for 1914 ever came to pass.

On that October 2 morning, Russell said, “Anyone disappointed? I’m not. Everything is moving right on schedule!” Now a hundred years have passed. Confident predictions were made, among other things, about the year 1925, about 1975, about the generation living in 1914 never dying off before the end. A hundred years and still no Armageddon . Sadly, not one prediction made has ever materialized.  

Deuteronomy 18:22 says, “When the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word is not fulfilled or does not come true, then Jehovah did not speak that word. The prophet spoke it presumptuously. You should not fear him.”

Were the Watchtower’s predictions “food at the proper time” made by God’s channel of communication? Or were they spoken “presumptuously”? Deuteronomy 18:22 is very frank advice that might make us uneasy. The question is: will we heed it?

If you are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses who has been wondering about these matters, there is no time like the present to begin a period of deep research. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 says, “Make sure of all things.” There is nothing to fear in such a search. The more a matter is examined, the more truth holds up to scrutiny, the more a lie crumbles.

But where would you begin?

Perhaps by exploring whether 1914 marked the beginning of the Last Days:

For further on this see: http://www.jwlove.org/1914ad/

Or by examining what Jesus meant by “this generation will by no means pass away”:

Or dig a little deeper to explore whether 607 BC was the date of Jerusalem’s destruction, a date that is integral to the Gentile Times equation:

For further on this see: http://www.jwlove.org/607bc

This website and videos should not be the endpoint in your research, but the beginning. Scrutinize everything…including the articles and videos on this website.

Are former members “mentally diseased”?

Pick any religious organization and you will find that they have former members. Many likely have weighed such a decision with much prayer and have followed the dictates of their conscience. Many groups allow people to leave without repercussions, without demanding that members shun the leavetaker, or castigating them.

However, there are some groups where leaving has very serious consequences. Friends, even family, are instructed to have no dealings with former members. This is not only true of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but of the Latter Day Saints(Mormons), the Unification Church(Moonies), and Scientology, to name a few. In each case, former members are vilified and spoken of disparagingly.

One of the most disparaging remarks the Watchtower has made about former members is the label “mentally diseased”. Are former members of this group mentally diseased? Is “mental diseased” a fair translation of 1 Timothy 6:4? Who is this passage speaking of? What modern applications can be made?

Love Your Enemies!

In the first century, some religious leaders taught: “You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” In the same way, today, some have been taught to hate in the guise of Christianity. How?

They have been taught they ‘must hate the person with whom the badness is inseparably linked’ as the religious leaders would define badness (which is quite an extensive list). And they are to ‘”feel a loathing” toward those who have made themselves God’s enemies’, as they would define former members of their group. As for those who have been expelled it is said: ‘it does not seem fitting and proper for a faithful Christian to pray for a disfellowshiped person’.

This is at complete odds with the basic teachings of Jesus Christ, who commanded: “love your enemies”. If we truly apply Christianity 101, there would be no “us versus them” exclusivism. If we love our enemies, if we pray for them, if we treat them well, as challenging as it might be, we would prove ourselves true Christians. Imagine what a world this would be if every professed Christian took such a teaching seriously.