Archive for VAT 4956

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:

Beyond VAT4956

To get absolute dates for Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, we do not have to rely on VAT 4956 alone. In fact, we can get along well enough without it. There are other astronomical tablets that help us establish the dating of the Neo-Babylonian dynasty, which in turn, is the only way to synchronize Bible chronology, since the Bible itself contains no absolute dates.

The above video primarily focuses on three lunar eclipse tablets that establish Nebuchadnezzar’s reign: LBAT 1419, LBAT 1420, LBAT 1421. Even these are not the only ‘game in town’, but they are enough to provide dozens of absolute dates that prove Nebuchadnezzar’s 18th year, the year Jerusalem was destroyed, was 587 BC.

The sky does not lie!

VAT 4956

VAT 4956 is an astronomical diary that lists a series of planetary and lunar observations during Nebuchadnezzar’s 37th regnal year. These dozens of observations enable us to pinpoint Nebuchadnezzar’s 37th year as starting in 568 BC, and by knowing this absolute date, we can calculate his 18th year as 587 BC.

Why is this significant? Because Jerusalem was destroyed in Nebuchadnezzar’s 18th year, a year the Watchtower sets as 607 BC, not 587 BC. In that case, his 37th year would have to be 588 BC. In the November 1, 2011 Watchtower, the article When Was Ancient Jerusalem Destroyed? claims “much of the astronomical data in VAT 4956 fits the year 588 B.C.E. as the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar II”. After careful research and verification this claim is found wanting. All planetary observations are thrown out and the beginning of Nebuchadnezzar’s 37th year is moved up from April to May, citing an intercalary month. Sad to say, none of these claims stand up to scrutiny.

However, have you ever verified this for yourself, with your own eyes? This might seem like a daunting task. Hopefully, the following tutorial will enable you to do your own archaeoastronomy from your own computer. By doing this research yourself, you do not need to take anyone’s word for it.

Using these methods, dozens of skycharts have been compiled if you wish to view them, detailing many observations from VAT 4956. It is more effective to show one’s research for all to see, rather than just tell the outcome of unknown ‘researchers’, as the Watchtower article does.

This video primarily concentrates on Side 1, Lines 1-4, observations from the first month, that is, Nissan.

This video looks at Side 1, Lines 8-17, observations from months two and three.

This video covers Side 2, observations from Months 10 thru 12.

607 BC–the year Jerusalem was destroyed?

Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyNx0oM_bmgBFMnAPjR_V5Fe9_pf8sQA1

607 BC, as the year of Jerusalem’s destruction, is integral to any discussion of 1914 as a marked year in Bible prophesy. The Gentile Times equation is: 607 BC + 2520 Years = 1914. Without 607 BC, one of the key inputs to the calculation, we cannot derive 1914.

Although I firmly believed it, I never knew much about 607 BC or the 70 Years other than the calculation: 537 BC – 70 Years of Desolation = 607 BC. Therefore, when I would sometimes stumble upon a historian pointing to 587 or 586 BC as the year of Jerusalem’s destruction, I believed them to be mistaken. If it came down to a choice between listening to the Bible or historians, I chose to believe the Bible. But this proved to be a false choice. When it came to the historians, I assumed it was all merely glorified guesswork. There too I was wrong.

When I first started looking into the teaching in earnest, it seemed daunting. Where are the 70 Years mentioned in the Bible? What does the Bible actually say about the matter? It turned out, I knew much less than I thought I did about what the Bible actually says.

In this series, everything through Part 12 discusses the matter from a Biblical viewpoint. Parts 13 thru 20 look at the historical evidence. The rest are appendixes that cover Neo-Babylonian history and a detailed breakdown of the astronomical diary VAT 4956, which nails down Nebuchadnezzar’s 37th year to 568 BC, which makes his 18th year, the year Jerusalem was destroyed, 587 BC.

Here are a few questions this series addresses:

What are the basic components of the 607 BC argument?

Does the Bible state that the Jews returned in 537 BC?

When did the 70 years end?

When did the 70 years begin?

Is the 70 years synonymous with the Exile?

What were the 70 years all about?

Did Jerusalem have to be destroyed during the 70 years?

Was the Exile inevitable during the 70 years?

Was the 70 years ‘at Babylon’ or ‘for Babylon’?

Does Chronicles say that the land of Judah kept Sabbath 70 years?

Does Daniel say that Jerusalem was desolate 70 years?

Is there Biblical evidence pointing to 587/586 BC?

Is it a choice between the Bible and the historical evidence?

What is the historical evidence pointing to 587/586 BC?