Archive for 607

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

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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:

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.

Why Consider the Historical Record?

Those that teach 607 BC as the year of Jerusalem’s destruction often make it a case of the Bible versus the “secular” historical evidence. When confronted with the preponderance of evidence, often the refrain is, “Bible chronology says 607 BC and we accept the Bible over the secular evidence.”

However, it is not a case of God’s word versus the word of historians and scholars–that is a false choice argumentation. In reality, it is a case of a single interpretation of the Bible versus other interpretations that are in complete harmony with the historical evidence.

But why should we look at anything outside the Bible at all? Isn’t the Bible enough to determine chronology of Biblical events? As the above video explains, those who argue in this manner are overlooking one very crucial detail.

The Kings of Babylon: Nabonidus, the Last King of the Neo-Babylonian Dynasty

Nabonidus, father of Belshazzar, was the last king of the Neo-Babylonian dynasty, ascending the throne in 556 BC, and ruling 17 years. His mother, Addagoppe, was an important figure in his life, and upon her death, he commissioned a stele in her honor that corroborates the conventional chronology, both in regard to the Neo-Babylonian kings, but the lengths of their rule. In 539 BC, 70 years after Babylon overthrew Assyria, Babylon itself was overthrown by the Persian King, Cyrus the Great.

The Kings of Babylon: Amel-Marduk, Nergal-sharezer, Labashi-Marduk

Amel-Marduk (aka Evil-Merodach) was the son of Nebuchadnezzar and ruled for two regnal years from 562-560 BC. The Old Testament makes mention of him and by studying what the Bible passage says we can ascertain that:

  1. His father Nebuchadnezzar could not have ruled for more than 43 regnal years.
  2. There were no other kings or gaps between Nebuchadnezzar and Amel-Marduk. 

His successor Nergal-sharezer (aka Neriglissar) ruled for four regnal years, from 560-556 BC. The Bible briefly mentions him as well.

Nergal-sharezer’s son Labashi-Marduk was merely a boy when he became king in 556 BC and he ruled for a few months during his accession year. As his rule did not survive until the new Babylonian year began in the month of Nissan, he is accorded with no regnal years. For this reason, in some chronologies, mention of him is omitted altogether.

The Kings of Babylon: Nebuchadnezzar, Destroyer of Jerusalem

The son of Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar II, came to power in 605 BC and ruled until his death in 562 BC, a span that equates to 43 regnal years. During his reign, Judah became a vassal state of Babylon, and due to rebellions he had to intercede on more than one occasion, ending in the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC. During his reign, Judeans went into Exile into three waves: in 597 BC, in 587 BC, and finally in 582 BC.

The Kings of Babylon: Nabopolassar, Founder of the Neo-Babylonian Dynasty

For those who are interested in the timing of Jerusalem’s destruction, learning about the Neo-Babylonian dynasty is key, for Jerusalem was destroyed in King Nebuchadnezzar’s 18th regnal year.

Life is about people and history is about the people who shaped the world around them. Chronology measures the timing of events, but it cannot be divorced from the people who were the drivers of those events. Learning about the movers and shakers of Babylonian history helps us put the chronology in its proper context.

Therefore, let us start by examining the first king of the Neo-Babylonian dynasty, Nabopolassar. Coming to power in 626 BC, Nabopolassar ruled for 21 years until his death in 605 BC. Some regard his deathblow to Assyria in 609 BC as the start of a 70-year period of Babylonian ascendency.