Jesus and the Saros Lunar Cycles :: By Randy Nettles

There has been a great amount of news and speculation concerning the upcoming total solar eclipse that will be visible in the U.S. on April 8, 2024, including Pete Garcia’s excellent article X Marks the Spot ( (this author contributed a few paragraphs). Jonathan Brentner also wrote a piece called 2024 Solar Eclipse: Coincidence or Final Warning? — Jonathan Brentner. I even wrote a couple about five months ago called Heavenly Signs or Natural Phenomenon: Part 1 :: By Randy Nettles – Rapture Ready and Heavenly Signs or Natural Phenomenon: Part II :: By Randy Nettles – Rapture Ready

The Talmud tells us that the solar eclipse is a sign or omen for the Gentiles, who base time on the solar calendar, and a lunar eclipse is a sign or omen for the Jews, who calculate the months (and Feast days) according to the cycles of the Moon. 1 Corinthians 1:22 says, “For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom.” Although this is true, I think we would all like a sign from God, as man’s wisdom doesn’t compare to God’s wisdom, for God knows the end from the beginning.

According to Astro Pixels (NASA) calculations, the total solar eclipse (new moon conjunction) of April 8, 2024, will occur at 18:21 Universal time. This would be 2:21 PM Central Standard Time here in Texas. Exactly 40 days later would be May 18, 2024 (2:21 PM C.S.T.). Jerusalem time is 8 hours ahead of Central Standard Time, so it would be May 19, 2024 (10:21 PM) in Israel, as the date changes at 6:00 PM (Jewish calendar). Sunday, May 19, 2024, is the date for Pentecost (I believe it is also the correct date for Shavuot, as they are the same Feast of the Lord). Will something significant occur on this day? We’ll know soon enough, I suppose.

As you know, the number 40 represents probation, trial, and chastisement in the Bible. Jesus ascended to heaven 40 days after Resurrection Sunday. Jonah preached, “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” It has been proposed that the reason for the complete acceptance of Jonah’s message was caused by a known total solar eclipse over Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, at about the time of Jonah.

I think the Rapture will be the biggest “sign” of all. It is a sign from God that Jesus is about to return to the earth (Second Coming) to begin His millennial kingdom. Of course, this “sign” occurs at least seven years before the Second Coming. As I mentioned in The Hepta Week Cycle For Six Millennia of Mankind :: By Randy Nettles – Rapture Ready , the children of Israel entered the Promised Land in the year 1406 BC. In 2025, it will have been 3430 years, or 490 (7 x 7 x 10) seven-year periods since Joshua (Yehoshua) led the people into the Promised Land. Could this Old Testament biblical event be a typology of a New Testament biblical event regarding a different Promised Land?

With all this excitement about the upcoming total solar eclipse that will cross the U.S. on April 8, 2024, not much has been said or written about regarding lunar eclipses. If lunar eclipses, especially the ones that occur on the Jewish Feast days of Passover and Tabernacles and are visible from Israel, are a sign for the Jews, I believe these “signs” should be included in the conversation – especially since Israel is currently in the headlines with the war between Israel and Iran’s proxies, talk of building the third Temple in Jerusalem, and talk of the Messiah coming.

Zechariah prophesied about the end times when he wrote, “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it” (Zechariah 12:2-3).

In this article, we will look at some lunar eclipses, past, present, and future, and see how they could be construed as a “sign” for the Jews. In my article Proposed Chronology of the Life of Jesus Christ :: By Randy Nettles – Rapture Ready, I wrote, “The life of Jesus was fatefully linked with two kings. King Herod 1 (Herod the Great) was the King of the Jews in the Roman province of Judaea during the time Jesus was born, and Tiberius Caesar Augustus was the emperor/king of the Roman Empire during Jesus’ ministry and death.

The date of the death of Herod is the crucial chronological point of when Jesus was born. Matthew 2:1 says, “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.”

King Herod had to be alive at the time of Jesus’ birth to have fulfilled Matthew 2:16, in which he murdered babies in Bethlehem from two years old and under, “according to the time which he had inquired of the wise men.” That doesn’t mean baby Jesus was necessarily two years old at this time. He could have been an infant. I think Herod was just trying to “cover all the bases” to kill the baby king. Therefore, the date of the death of Herod is a crucial chronological point in the life of Jesus.

Just as the birth and death dates for Jesus are debatable, so is the death of Herod. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37 AD- 100 AD) is the main source of information regarding the death of Herod and thus the birth of Jesus. In “Antiquities of the Jews,” Josephus records Herod’s death occurring between a lunar eclipse of the moon and a Passover. Since full moon lunar eclipses often occur during Passover, this particular lunar eclipse didn’t occur on Passover but shortly before. How short? That is the question scholars have been asking for centuries now.

Four lunar eclipses occurred in the possible timeframe of the birth of Jesus, from 7 BC to 1 BC: March 23, 5 BC (total eclipse), September 16, 5 BC (total eclipse), March 13, 4 BC (partial eclipse), and January 10, 1 BC (total eclipse). After much research, I now believe the September 16, 5 BC total lunar eclipse (part of Saros lunar cycle #66) is the one Josephus wrote about in Antiquities of the Jews, 17.167. “But Herod deprived this Matthias of the high priesthood and burnt the other Matthias, who had raised the sedition, with his companions, alive. And that very night, there was an eclipse of the moon.”

I believe the birth of Jesus occurred on the same date (September 16, 5 BC) and the same lunar eclipse that Josephus wrote about (regarding Herod). Herod was doing his evil act in Jerusalem while Mary was giving birth to Jesus in Bethlehem, all under a blood-red full moon.

In the last period of Herod’s life, between the eclipse shortly before he died and the Passover soon after his death, Josephus narrates many events, including the (above mentioned) burning alive of two Jewish rabbis on the night of the eclipse. (Antiquities 17.156-191). I have chronicled these last seven events of Herod’s life below (See Note 1).

So, with this date in mind for the lunar eclipse that Josephus wrote about, let’s construct a timeline for the birth of Jesus. I believe the Roman census that Caesar Augustus decreed was issued in 5 BC.

“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a feeding trough because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:1-7).

I believe the census was issued in the fall of the year 5 BC, and Joseph and Mary could have arrived in Bethlehem around the turning of the civil New Year (Feast of Trumpets) on Tishri 1, 5 BC. I also believe Jesus was born on the day of the total lunar eclipse that Josephus wrote about, which was Saturday, September 16 (Tishri 15), 5 BC. This was day one of the eight-day Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. Jesus would have been circumcised on the eighth day of his birth and the eighth and last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Of course, the family was still in Bethlehem at this time, about 7 miles from Jerusalem.

The total lunar eclipse that took place on the date of his birth (September 16, 5 BC) was part of Saros lunar cycle 66. This is a fitting number, as 6 represents “man” in the Bible, and Jesus was the “Son of man.” 1 Corinthians 15:25 calls Jesus the last Adam. Adam was the first created man (as God formed him from the dust of the earth), and Jesus, the human, was created by God, the Holy Spirit.

40 days after the birth of Jesus (which was the time of Mary’s purification according to the Law of Moses), Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Jerusalem and presented Him to the Lord, according to Luke 2:22-24. The date would have been October 26, 5 BC, or Heshvan 26 on the Jewish calendar. This is the eighth month on the religious Jewish calendar but is the second month on the civil Jewish calendar.

During the days of the antediluvians and afterward, the start of the new year began in the fall, so the second month would have been the equivalent of Heshvan on the civil Jewish calendar. Genesis 8:14 says, “And in the second month, on the seventh and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried.” So, depending on the hour, Jesus was presented to the Lord at the temple in Jerusalem on approximately the same day the 8 human occupants left the ark to walk on dry ground. Both events represent a new beginning for mankind.

The events of baby Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem are described in Luke 2:25-38, including Simon and Anna seeing Jesus and blessing God. After these events, the family returned to Nazareth where young Jesus grew up.

Matthew 2 tells the story of the wise men from the East coming to Jerusalem after the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. They showed up in Jerusalem and asked Herod about the king of the Jews (Mt 2:2). Herod then asked the chief priests where the king would be born, and they told him Bethlehem (Mt 2:4-6). Herod told the Magi to go there and investigate and report back to him.

The Magi didn’t go to Bethlehem. Matthew doesn’t explicitly say that they went to Bethlehem; all it says is that after meeting with Herod the Magi, they kept following the star (Mt 2:9). I believe the star led them to Nazareth, not Bethlehem, where Mary, Joseph & Jesus were living after their census visit to Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus, and their temple visit in Jerusalem. The Magi came to a house (not the birthing stable or manger/feeding trough). The Magi didn’t return home by way of Jerusalem to inform Herod of the child-king, as Herod had requested.

Herod found out the Magi didn’t listen to him, and he was exceedingly angry. He then issued an order to kill all male children two and younger in Bethlehem and all its districts (Mt 2:16-18). It’s assumed that Herod chose two years of age to coordinate with the Magi’s information given to him regarding when the star first appeared (Mt 2:7).

An angel warned Joseph in a dream and told them to flee to Egypt (Mt 2:13-15). Even though this genocide against Jewish babies seems to be targeted toward the Bethlehem area, it was probably not safe for baby Jesus in Nazareth either, as there were records from the census in Bethlehem regarding the family’s background (place of residence) including the recent birth of Jesus. After Herod died, the family returned to Israel and lived in Nazareth.

I believe Herod died before the March 13, 4 BC partial lunar eclipse occurred, as Josephus doesn’t mention another eclipse of the moon when referring to Herod. This partial eclipse (part of Saros lunar cycle 71) occurred early in the morning, about 2:30 am, so it probably wasn’t noticed much. The earlier lunar eclipse of Sept. 16, 5 BC would allow six months for all of the events that Josephus, Luke, and Matthew recorded regarding Herod before he died. The Passover that Josephus mentioned (that occurred after Herod’s death) occurred one month later after the partial eclipse of March 13, 4 BC. The date would have been April 11 (Nisan 15), 4 BC. Jesus would have been nearly 7 months old at this point.

The next mention of Jesus is found in Luke 2:41-52 when Jesus was twelve years old. He was found in the Temple in Jerusalem (during the time of the annual Feast of Passover) having a question-and-answer session with the chief teachers, amazing them all with his knowledge. “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52).

The next thing written about Jesus is when he began his ministry after John the Baptist began his. John records three Passovers Jesus attended and possibly another one that was simply identified as a “feast.” They are found in John 2:13, John 5:1, John 6:4, and John 19:14. It is believed by this author that Jesus’ ministry began in the fall of 29 AD and continued until the spring of 33 AD. There are no NASA-recorded lunar eclipses that occurred on any of the Feast of the Lord days (Passover and Tabernacles) until we get to 32 AD.

There was a total lunar eclipse on April 14, 32 AD (Passover), but it wasn’t visible from Israel. There also was a total lunar eclipse on October 7, 32 AD (Tishri 15/Tabernacles) that was partially visible from Israel. It was part of Saros lunar cycle 66. This would have occurred on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, nearly six months before Jesus died on Passover (Nisan 14) in 33 AD.

John records this Feast of Tabernacles in John 7. “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:37-39).

Jesus died on preparation day (Nisan 14) before the Jews celebration of Passover on Nisan 15. His death occurred on Thursday, April 2, 33 AD. The next day, on April 3, 33 AD (Nisan 15), there was a partial lunar eclipse that was seen from Jerusalem, Israel. This was part of Saros lunar cycle 71. The Saros cycle, which governs the periodicity and recurrence of eclipses, lasts approximately 6,585.3 days (equivalent to 18 years, 11 days, and 8 hours). This Saros cycle is the same one in which the lunar eclipse occurred one month before the Passover that was mentioned by Josephus before Herod died in 4 BC.

So, IMO, regarding the birth of Jesus: He was born on the Feast of Tabernacles, Saturday (the Sabbath), September 16, 5 BC, which was Tishri 15 on the Jewish calendar. There was a total lunar eclipse that was seen from Israel on this day. It was part of Saros lunar cycle 66. As I mentioned before, 6 is the number for man, and Jesus is the “Son of man” or the “last Adam” (second Adam).

Jesus died on the Feast of Passover on Thursday, April 2, 33 AD, which was Nisan 14 on the Jewish calendar. There was a partial lunar eclipse that was seen from Israel the next day on Nisan 15. It was part of Saros lunar cycle 71. The number 71 represents the perfection of the number 70 (7 x 10) + 1. This is seen in Numbers 11 where God tells Moses to appoint 70 judges to help him with the complaints of the people. Moses is the 71st person.

“So the Lord said to Moses: ‘Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you. Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone'” (Numbers 11:16-17). The Holy Spirit that resided in Moses was also given to the 70 elders so they could judge wisely.

It’s interesting to me, as a “numbers guy,” that when you add 66 to 71, you get the number 137, which, in my opinion, represents God. I wrote about this in a two-part article 137: Number of God in Scripture and Science :: By Randy Nettles – Rapture Ready and 137: Number of God in Scripture and Science, Part II :: By Randy Nettles – Rapture Ready. Is this more than a coincidence? In my opinion, it is.

If these dates are correct, then Jesus would have lived for 36.54 years (13,347 days). A Saros cycle is repeated every 6585.3 days. Two eclipses in a Saros cycle would be 13,170 days. That is a difference of 177 days, which is half of a lunar year (354 days) or a common number of days between a Passover eclipse and a Tabernacles eclipse. This makes sense since Jesus was born on the first day of Tabernacles and died on the first day of Passover (IMO). Jesus lived six months shy of two Saros lunar cycle “blood moons” (although two different cycles: 66 & 71).

A lunar eclipse is caused by Earth blocking sunlight from reaching the moon and creating a shadow across the lunar surface. Isn’t it amazing that Jesus, as the Word, created and set in motion the sun, moon, and earth eons ago? Even during creation (and before) Elohim had in place His plan to redeem mankind, and He would send His Son to the earth in the form of a man (named Jesus) in the fullness of time. The sign of His coming would be these heavenly objects that He created, aligning themselves in such a way that the moon would appear blood red. “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:20).

Regarding our current time, there are only three lunar eclipses within the next 10 years that occur on either Passover or Tabernacles. There is a partial lunar eclipse on Tabernacles, September 18, 2024, that is visible from Israel. There are two in 2033. The first one is a total lunar eclipse on Passover, April 14/15, 2033, that is visible from Israel. The second one in 2033 is a total lunar eclipse on Tabernacles, October 8, 2033, that is not visible from Israel.

Ok, so you’re still skeptical? I understand. Let me show you some more numbers. If Jesus was killed in 33 AD, and a thousand years is a day for the LORD (Psalm 94, 2 Peter 3:8), then two days for the Lord would be 2000 years, or 2033 AD. The third witness would be Hosea 6:1-3:

“Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he has torn, and he will heal us; he has smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.”

Did you know that there will be a lunar tetrad in 2032/2033, just like there was in 2014/2015 and 1967/1968? The Saros lunar cycle for 2032 is #122 (one month after Passover) and #127 (one month after Tabernacles), which are the same numbered cycles for the eclipses of 2014 and 1967 that occurred on Passover and Tabernacles. The Saros lunar cycle for the Passover eclipses of 1968, 2015, and 2033 is #132, and the cycle for the Tabernacles eclipses is #137. There’s that number again. Saturday, October 8, 2033, is the date for the fall eclipse (#137) that will occur on Tishri 16, which is the second day of Tabernacles. This eclipse will not be visible from Israel.

Of course, I believe that Jesus will return to the earth on the Feast of Trumpets (Tishri 1). If 2033 is the correct year, then it would occur on September 24. I believe (from scripture) that at this juncture of the Tribulation, the sun and the moon will not be giving or reflecting light, so this Tabernacle eclipse of 2033 will probably not occur. However, six months (lunar) earlier on Passover (Nisan 14), April 14, 2033, there will be a total lunar eclipse that will be visible from Israel. This could be a heavenly sign for the Jews that their long-awaited Messiah is coming to the earth to save them and to establish His earthly kingdom.

If you subtract Saros lunar cycle # 66 (Jesus’ birth) from Saros lunar cycle # 71 (Jesus’ death), you get the number 5, which represents grace in the Bible. Jesus’ death on the cross was a perfect sacrifice for mankind’s sins, in which his Holy blood was used as a permanent atonement for our sins. By God’s grace, through faith in Jesus’ atoning work, we are saved from death, hell, and eternal separation from God.

If you subtract Saros lunar cycle #137 (Jesus’ second advent) from Saros lunar cycle #66 (Jesus’ first advent), you get the number 71. The KJV translates G71 ‘ago’ as bring, lead, go, and bring forth, such as ‘led’ by the Holy Spirit. It is found 71 times in the New Testament. A good example is found in Romans 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” Jesus will lead His followers into His millennial kingdom at the end of the age.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul: he leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for You are with me; your rod and Your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:1-6).

Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Randy Nettles

Note 1: Seven events Josephus recorded that took place between the eclipse shortly before Herod died and the Passover soon after his death. Taken from “Handbook of Biblical Chronology by Jack Finegan, pg. 300.

  1. On the night of the eclipse, Herod had two rabbis burned alive for involvement in the destruction of his golden eagle at the temple gate.
  2. With his health worsening, he traveled from Jericho to the hot baths of Callirrhoe near the northeast end of the Dead Sea.
  3. When numerous baths and additional immersion in a vat of warm oil failed to bring relief, he returned to Jericho.
  4. At Jericho, knowing that death was near and being well aware that most of the Jewish people hated him, he sent officers into all areas of his kingdom to bring prominent Jewish elders to Jericho, where he had them shut up in the hippodrome with instructions that upon his demise they be executed, so that there would be mourning throughout the nation at the time of his death.
  5. Receiving a letter from Augustus allowing him to either exile or execute his son Antipater, Herod sent his bodyguards to do the latter.
  6. Herod then altered his will and designated Archelaus to have Judea, Samaria, and Idumea; Antipas to be tetrarch of Galilee and Perea; and Philip to be tetrarch of Gaulanitis and related regions.
  7. On the fifth day after having Antipater killed, he died.