And the Winter Solstice
By Steve Santini
More truths regarding the forthcoming kingdom of God on earth come to light when the date of the transfiguration is considered. In the year of the transfiguration the Feast of Dedication concluded with the winter solstice. The winter solstice has been a prophetic marker since the flood of Noah. In his second letter, Peter ascribed to the transfiguration the representative type of the Lords second coming. He then compared the celestial signs accompanying the flood of Noah to the signs of the Lord's coming by using the clause by the same word are kept in store reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. The next two chapters of the manuscript, The Transfiguration, begin to search out the heavenly signs that, in time, will have become common to both the flood of Noah and the Lord's second coming.
By correlating the scriptural references of the transfiguration and the Feast of Dedication with the phrase beyond Jordan in the contexts, the previous chapters demonstrated that the transfiguration occurred east of the Jordan River, in the winter, during the Feast of Dedication. The Feast of Dedication began annually on the twenty fifth day of the Hebrew lunar month of Kislev which corresponds to the solar month of December.1 By applying the September 3 BC date for the birth of Jesus Christ and his thirty year life span, the Feast of Dedication recorded in the gospel of John occurred in 27 AD.2 By applying the position of the moon from astronomical software for the month of December in that year, the eight day Feast of Dedication is shown to have ended on the winter solstice of 27 AD.
Lunar months of the Hebrew year were reckoned to be twenty nine or thirty days depending on the first sighting of a new moon. For the priests to observe the first crescent moon commencing a month, the moon needed to be about fifteen degrees past the sun.
On the Hebrew lunar calendar, days ended and new days began at sunset. In 27 AD the first day of Tevet began at sunset on December eighteenth when the moon had moved to a positioned a bit more than fifteen degrees past the sun. The first day of the Feast of Dedication occurred five days earlier on December fourteenth. In 27 AD, December fourteenth on the solar calendar corresponded to the twenty-fifth of Kislev on the lunar calendar. When the eight days of the feast are counted from the beginning of the first day of the feast, the eighth day and final day of the feast fell on December twenty-first-the winter solstice.
A more fitting day for the Transfiguration could not have been found on the calendar. According to Bishop Ussher's chronology and the corresponding astronomical calculations, the water from heaven for the deluge ceased on the winter solstice, the day in the northern hemisphere when the sun began to rise from its lowest annual path across the heavens. As a result we still have themes of rebirth, reversal and new beginnings that are associated with the winter solstice. And, as Jesus implied when he told his disciples that some would see the kingdom of God before they died, the Transfiguration was a foretaste of a new beginning at his coming with his angels.
For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. Matthew 16:27-28
This day that carries the ancient cross cultural themes of rebirth, reversal and new beginnings has been and is, globally, the most celebrated day of the year. The ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia that spanned the day of the winter solstice included a day on which servants and their owners switched statuses. Western European Neolithic sites like Scotland's Maeshowe, Germany's Goseck and Ireland's Newgrange have passages oriented from their centers towards the sunrise on the winter solstice as if they were timepieces for a connection with the power of the gods. The ancient Chinese believed that a bridge was thrown over the Milky Way on the winter solstice so a male and a female represented respectively by Aquila and Lyra could join and consummate their marriage.
The winter Feast of Dedication celebrated a new beginning for Israel. On December fourteenth, in 165 BC Judah Maccabeus cleansed the Temple of the idols placed there by the occupying Seleucids. The eight day Feast of Dedication was instituted in honor of the cleansing and the Maccabean victories that freed the Hebrews from one hundred and fifty-eight years of rule by the Hellenists. The Greek word translated dedication in the text has within its definitions the meaning of a new beginning. It is the prefixed word egkainia. Literally it would be understood as near, or beside, new. In the Septuagint, this word is used of the dedication of holy things like new altars. In the Hebrew text of these verses, the word translated dedication is chanukkah. The festival's current name of Hanukkah is derived from this word. In his day Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, referred to this feast as the Festival of Lights because of the menorahs that lit every house, the massive oil lamps that lit the Temple courts and the torch bearing Levites who danced on the temple mount.
The usages of fire have been and continue to be a common custom in winter solstice celebrations from Central Asia westward to the shores of the Atlantic. In Persia flaming grass torches suspended from the legs of lofted birds once filled the night skies. In Scotland dancers circle flaming balls of fire above their heads as they march along. Yule logs, bond fires and torches are common to winter solstice traditions in Scandinavian, Slavic and Germanic regions. In portions of the Middle East oil lamps once lit homes and torches once adorned temples for the duration of the year's longest night. These usages of fire appear to have their origins in universal prophecies about the coming of the gods to rule the earth-the finest of which are found in scripture.
Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire: Psalm 104:4
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8
Fire is also a part of the gospel transfiguration record. In the morning, as Jesus was coming down the mount upon which he had been transfigured, a father approached him. His son was often being thrown into the fire by an evil spirit and Jesus' disciples could not cast the spirit out of the child. Then, after rebuking his disciples for their lack of faith, Jesus cast the spirit out and saved the child from becoming burned to death. Jesus was the logos-the communication of his father's will in all that he said and did and where and when he said and did his father's will. In this light, the inclusion of this closing incident is significant - it appears as a harbinger of salvation from the fiery wrath by means of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The position of the sun on the winter solstice has been a heavenly sign from the most ancient times. Scientists say that the Groseck Circle has existed since 4900 BC. In Genesis, Moses wrote that the lights of heaven were for signs and seasons.
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: Genesis 1:14
The Hebrew word for signs is owth.3 It has been defined as a pledge of a covenant and as a signboard or standard pointing towards the future.3 This invariable signboard of the heavens with its anciently named constellations with their decans and asterisms provides the backdrop in front of which the planets, sun and moon move touching or gathering for an occasion then moving on as man has, likewise, from antiquity, been moved towards ultimate union with divinity.
The Hebrew word for seasons is moed. It means appointed meeting.4 Its root yaad is more revealing in light of the frequent scriptural references to Jesus Christ's coming being like a wedding feast. Yaad has within its definitions to appoint for betrothal and/or for marriage.5
The Lord defined his promise to Abraham, the father of faith, according to the stars.
And He brought him forth abroad and said"Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars if thou be able to number them:" and He said unto him, "So shall thy seed be." Genesis 15:5
In the Hebrew script the word for stars includes the sun, moon and planets. The ancient Hebrew word saphar translated number means to reckon or to assess. It does not emphasize the actual number but does emphasize their positions and its interpretation. The phonemes in and the meaning of the Hebrew word saphar have come down to us as the English word cipher meaning a cryptological communication.
David's nineteenth psalm confirms that the divinely orchestrated motions in the heavens are divine communications. In the psalm he placed an emphasis on the centrality of the sun and likened it to a bridegroom.
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof. Psalm 19:1-6
Malachi's record also featured the sun in the Lord of hosts quoted prophecy. The prophecy also contains the common themes of reversal and new beginnings that appear universally in winter solstice celebrations.The prophecy is also correlated with the transfiguration through its inclusion of Moses and Elijah and with the apostle Paul's mighty angels coming in flaming fire by the usage of the words burn and ashes.
For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.Malachi 4:1- 6
After Peter had likened the second coming of Jesus Christ to his transfiguration experience on the holy mount he wrote of a more sure prophetic word to heed.
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise 6 2 Peter 1:19
In both the Greek and Aramaic scriptural texts words in this verse specify the movement and positions of heavenly bodies. In this context the most notable of the heavenly bodies would be the word sun. In Peter's native Aramaic the words day star in the English translation are the word sun.7
And we have moreover a sure word of prophecy; and ye will do well, if ye look to it as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day shall dawn, and the sun shall arise 2 Peter 1:19 James Murdock, Peshitta Translation
What then would make Peter's prophetic assertion that the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ with his holy angels would commence on a winter solstice more sure? The answer is within the further context of Peter's second letter. In it Peter presents a parallelism between the flood of Noah ending the first heaven and earth and commencing the second heaven and earth and the coming of the Lord to end the second heaven and earth and to begin the third heaven and earth where righteousness reigns.
And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 2 Peter 3:5-7
1. Sagittarius, the archer, is the constellation associated with the Hebrew month of Kislev. The earlier, post flood Sumerians referred to as Sagittarius as Nunki meaning the place of the princes or holy ones. (Giorgio de Santillana, Hertha von Dechend, Hamlet's Mill, p. 297) From earth the center of our galaxy lies visually within Sagittarius.
2. Ernest L. Martin, The Star That Astonished The World, pp. 67-91 http://www.askelm.com/star/index.asp
3. James Strong, Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Heb. #0226
4. ibid. #4150
5. ibid. #3259
6. The Greek texts from which the early English bibles were translated had no chapters, paragraph markings, verses, commas, or periods ending sentences. It was a challenge for seventeenth century translators so far distant from Eastern culture and its languages to determine where to end an English sentence in translation and begin the next. Subsequent authors of new versions followed the lead of the earlier more popular versions. However, nineteenth century scriptural scholars E.W. Bullinger and Robert Young recognized that the phrase in your hearts was not meant to modify the previous phrase regarding the literal sun and dark place of heaven. Bullinger placed the previous phrase in a parenthesis as an explanation of the prophecy and Young separated in your hearts with a dash and did not capitalize the first word of the next verse implying that in your hearts was meant to modify the next phrase knowing this first in the following verse. E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, p. 470, https://archive.org/stream/figuresofspeechu00bull?ef=ol#page/470/mode/1up, Robert Young, Young's Literal Translation, 2 Peter 1:19 https://studybible.info/YLT/2%20Peter
7. Robert Payne Smith, A Compendious Syriac Dictionary, p. 586
To be continued
A Journey Unto Revelations' End