Date of the Ugarit Solar Eclipse in King David's Day

Hiyaru (May 20, 1078 B.C.E.)

 1 crescent moon 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27  eclipse day 28 29 - - - - - - 1st day week 2nd day week 3rd day week 4th day week 5th day week 6th day week 7th day week

 Actually, after finding the above eclipse, I corrected the eclipse analytical table below.  The link is as follows: Corrected Analytical Chart of the Ugarit Solar Eclipse.  There was another Ugarit solar eclipse candidate in 1060 B.C.

by Murrell Selden  Thoth writes, "Annular"
(May 26, 2000  Rev. April 10, 2000 & April 17th&18th, 2000)

The Logic of the Ugarit Solar Eclipse

Now, what follows after this section is the struggle which I made to find the correct Ugarit solar eclipse.  I decided not to change it at all, as it demonstrates the thinking as I worked to find the Ugarit solar eclipse.  There were errors in thinking out the concept of the Ugarit solar eclipse, but I am not ashamed of those errors.  We all err in life.  Now, here is the logic which led to the Ugarit solar eclipse.
First, conventional wisdom is that King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzer, conquered and burned Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E.  I also know that the Kings of Judah (Rehoboam through Zedekiah) spanned about 390 years, because that was implied by by Eze 4:4-5 (lying on his side with reference to  390 years for the error).  So, I knew that the 390 years started with King Rehoboam and ended with Zedekiah.  Further, I knew that King David and King Solomon ruled 40 years each.  So, by simple math, I found that King David began ruling in 586+390+40+40=1056.  So, in the chart I developed, I had a candidate solar eclipse in 1058 B.C.E. (there is one in 1060 B.C.E., and I did not check that one).  But, anyway, the eclipse of 1058 B.C.E. was far away from the Ugarit in Syria.  It could never been seen or have any effect upon the Ugarit.
So, I realized that conventional wisdom had to be wrong.  But, I knew that prophecy was fulfilled in 538 B.C.E. when Cyrus the Great was made King in Babylon.  So, that meant the 70 years of captivity had ended in 607 or 608  B.C.E.  So, I figured that the lunar events of Nebuchadnezzer had been assigned the wrong Saros, so I figured it must be the next Saros back in history.  So, then conventional wisdom must be wrong.  So, instead of 586 as in the above calculation, I used 607.  Now, we have 607+390+40+40=1077 B.C.E.
So, then I figured I must have found the correct Ugarit solar eclipse in 1077 B.C.E., as I had a great candidate there.  But, alas, the sun only came up close to the moon and made a barely visible solar eclipse at Jerusalem.  The really bad news was that it could not be seen at all at the Ugarit, Syria.  That was depressing, so I figured maybe the earth had moved.  It seemed to me that it had to be there at 1077.
Later, I realized that the report to Akenaten was about the death of King Saul - not about the rulership of King David.  So, that would be 1078 B.C.E.  Well, I had a candidate solar eclipse in 1078 B.C.E.  It was May 20, 1078 B.C.E.  Only problem was that maybe it was not in Hiyaru, and the observer of the eclipse had referred to it as an eclipse in Hiyaru.  So, I took a look at it and ran an astronomical program called EMapWin 1.2X (a free program which you may download by clicking on that web site and finding the program).  What did I find?  I found a most excellent Ugarit solar eclipse, an annular solar eclipse of perfection.
At first, I wanted to reject it.  But, I realized that it was in Hiyaru (not the beginning of Hiyaru, but near the end).  That is because astonomer's new moons (invisible) do not begin new lunar months.  It is the observation of just visible new moons.  So, yes, it was still Hiyaru.  But, it was not at sunset or at noon.
Then I recalled something about the number 6.  I recalled that people in those days used 6 as a number to describe something strange, awesome and wierd.  You know how young people today say something is AWESOME, well in those days they used 6 as a symbol for something incomplete, inhuman, or very strange.  So, this Ugarit solar eclipse would have been perhaps frightening and very strange at morning.  Illuminated beads of light around the edges would have shown the moon as black in the center.  So, the event "put to shame" the last days of Hiyaru.  Instead of seeing no moon, the moon was seen blocking the sun and with very bright edges.  So, it was indeed a sixth hour eclipse, but it was not at noon.  It was AWESOME!
Also, eclipses occur on the sixth day of the week or the seventh day of the week on old lunar calendars.  That is because there are two or three days before a just visible new moon is determined, and the months alternate between 29 and 30 days in length.
So, then, I realized that I had found the Ugarit solar eclipse of Akenaten.  So, that means the 12th year of Akenaten was when King Saul died, in 1078 B.C.E.  As for King David, he became King the very next year.  (Some interesting planetary events mark that date too, but that is another story.)
So, that is the story of how I found the Ugarit solar eclipse of Akenaten.  Best wishes to you all, especially to those mentioned below.
Wayne Mitchell prepared three views of this Ugarit solar eclipse.  Click here to see one.  All three views may be seen by here or here. These views are from Ugarit  35:37N 39:00E.  [These values were moved for maximum effect, normally 35:47E EL with Delta-T (Long+3.2 degrees)<32.5t sec, Elevation:  52:14, Az: 109:10, SR 4:15 SS18:26, Venus 23:00 Alt 71% -3.91 mag, Merc 13%].  These views are for non-commercial use and were prepared by Wayne Mitchell for my free use on this web site.
Thanks to all,      Murrell G. Selden    (April 18, 2000)

Introduction

David M. Rohl, in his book called Pharaohs and Kings, A Biblical Quest (Crown Publishers, Inc., New York, 1995, ISBN 0 609 80130 9)  presents the Ugarit solar eclipse as one in May or April in the 12th year of Akenaten.  His description begins at page 237.  The comment of the eclipse at the Ugarit (about 100 miles from modern Damascus, Syria) is that it was a solar eclipse at sunset in the month of Hiyyaru (Hebrew Iyyar).  In Chapter 9 (begins page 195),and Rohl gives evidence that Akenaten was a contemporary of Israelite kings David and Saul.  This evidence supports the belief that Akenaten (or his father) was  at war with Saul near the time when Saul was killed and David became king.
David Rohl's official web site is at:

http://www.nunki.net/PerDud/index

The official Yahoo discussion group on the Chronology of David Rohl is at:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NewChronology

It should be noted that the Ugarit solar eclipse of David Rohl was found from this publication:
Wayne A. Mitchell, "Ancient Astronomical Observations and Near Eastern
Chronology," Journal of the Ancient Chronology Forum (London, 1990) 3, pp 7-26.

Solar Eclipses from 1030 B.C.E-1084 B.C.E.

According to my Bible chronology (see the link near the bottom of the page), David began to rule as king at about 1077 B.C.E., so I found all the solar eclipses from 1084 B.C.E. through 1030 B.C.E. I recorded all the ones which took place in May or April  (the month when Iyyar takes place on a lunar calendar).  These solar eclipses were extracted from those computed by Fred Espenak of the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and  the NASA web site is at:

Why Reign of Akenaten Related to Reign of King David

The report to Akenaten and related Amarna Letters indicate the time (of the eclipse) was directly after the death of Amenhotep III, so it was at the beginning of the reign of Akenaten.  The Ugarit is located on the Mediteranean Sea in Syria, about 100 miles from Damascus.  It is not terribly far from Jerusalem, Israel.  The belief is that the Amarna Letters contain a report of the death of Saul. It follows that the time must have been close to 1077 B.C.E. (when the solar eclipse took place).  So, I included all the years from 1084 B.C.E. (7 years before the time when David became king) through 1030 B.C.E (far below the events of this time of Akenaten).

How the Table of Solar Eclipses Was Made

For each solar eclipse in May or April, I recorded the date in B.C.E. per the Julian Calendar convention used by astronomers (but I added the 1 year to make the dates actual B.C.E. dates, of course).  I recorded the time of the solar eclipse at GMT (Greenwich Universal Time).  I recorded whether it was total(T), partial(P) or annular(A).  I recorded my estimate (from my free computer program called EQUINOX.COM) of the Julian Day number of Nisan 1.  I recorded the Julian Day number for the date in B.C.E. when the solar eclipse occurred.  It then computed whether or not the solar eclipse was the new moon of Iyyar.  It was "YES" in the event that Nisan 1 Julian Day number  was about 29 to 30 days away from the solar eclipse (date) Julian Day number.
So, all solar eclipses were rejected, if they did not occur on Iyyar. The solar eclipses at Iyyar are marked with the word "yes" and a special background color (orange). It is believed that the Egyptians were using three kinds of calendars, so it was probably true that it was May or April on the lunar calendar in use.

Only One Solar Eclipse Left Over (Almost, But)

I did not find a modern-day sunset at Jerusalem if the solar eclipse was not at the beginning of Iyyar, so I just recorded NA for not applicable.  I did not then record anything either, if the eclipse was later or earlier than required for a solar eclipse near sunset.  If it was not in Iyyar, I merely recorded NA for not applicable.  For those solar eclipses left, I recorded modern-day sunsets at Jerusalem as a reference.  If the solar eclipse had a time much less than the sunset at Jerusalem, I recorded it as too early.  If it had a time after the sunset at Jerusalem, I recorded it as LATE.  After all this record keeping was done, only one solar eclipse was left!

The final selection (the only choice) is the solar eclipse at May 8th in 1058 B.C.E.  All the others were either not at Iyyar or too early or too late.  Even the one selected by Rohl (the one in 1012 B.C.E.) appears to be too early.  In addition, it is in the wrong time period (my opinion) for the time of Saul and David.  So, I reject Rohl's selection.  The one on May 8th in 1058 B.C.E. appears to be the only possibility.  Correcting the GMT time to Ugarit local time should bring it much closer to the sunset time in Jerusalem.  It is much closer to sunset than the similar time found by Rohl.  As to whether or not it is exactly at sunset, I cannot say.  But, I believe it is the only possible choice from the table developed.  And, as I said, the table has them all for the period in question in May and April.

Description of the Solar Eclipse Found

This solar eclipse was of magnitude 0.953 with solar altitude at 8 degrees.  The center duration was 3 minutes and 50 seconds.  The coordinates were 64.3S (Latitude) and 47.0W (Longitude).  If this is correct, then the 12th year of Akenaten was in 1058 B.C.E.  That would make his first year 11+1058=1069 B.C.E.  This indicates to me that Akenaten was perhaps not king when Saul died (unless my date for the kingship of David is a little off).  Of course, that is why I included lower dates down to 1030 B.C.E.(in case that might be true).  I cannot ascertain if this date is really the one for the 12th year of Akenaten, but it well may be true (if Rohl is correct about the David and Akenaten being contemporary).  I would have to say that this new date must be the correct one (as it appears to me to be the only choice).

Maybe An Even Better Choice for the Solar Eclipse

There may be an even better choice for the Ugarit solar eclipse, but it was not at Hiyyaru.  This is the one marked MAYBE-VG in the table of solar eclipses in April and May.
Why?  It is because 1067 B.C.E. was a 13 month year (a year when an extra month needs to be added, and on the Jewish calendar called Veadar).  This 13th month would have ended with a new visible crescent moon about 4/9 in 1066 B.C.E.  Usually, after 12 months (even on our own calendar), it is New Year's Day.  But, on the ancient lunar calendar, it might not be, as
it could be the beginning of Veadar (the extra last month).  Therefore, it appears very possible that the observer was expected the first day of Hiyyaru (though he should have been expecting the equivalent of Nisan 1).

Why might this eclipse be a better choice?  First, it is a total solar eclipse.  It is near sunset.  And, perhaps, most important of all, it is much closer to the expected time for an observation near the death of King Saul. This latter point is perhaps the most important one of all.  Another point is that GMT might not be at Daylight Savings Time, so the correction to the Ugarit time might be 3+ hours, making a time of 15:37 GMT at 18:37 Jerusalem Standard Time with Daylight Savings Time in effect.  That compares very well with a 19:02 DST in Jerusalem!

Comparing the Times of the Solar Eclipses

On a Standard Time basis, Jerusalem and Greenwich, England (site of GMT) are two hours apart.  (See  http://www.sunrisesunset.com/.)  Of course, time zones are integers.  However, the solar eclipse at May 8, 1058 B.C.E. took place at 17:13 GMT, and corrected to Jerusalem Standard Time, that would be 19:13.  That compares extremely well with 19:23 Jerusalem Standard Time for the solar eclipse near sunset.  So, it could easily have been exactly sunset
at the Ugarit in Syria.  (For the same month and day of the year, sunrise and sunset vary little, so a sunset in the year 2000 would be about the same as one in 1058 B.C.E. for the same day of the year.)

In comparison, the sunset for Rohl's date of May 9, 1012 B.C.E. was 13:31 GMT, and that corrects to Jerusalem Standard Time as 15:31.  That does not compare very well with the sunset at 19:24 at Jerusalem.  That is EARLY, and no correction to the Ugarit solar eclipse could make it even come close to sunset.  So, I think it is clear that Rohl's solar eclipse must be the wrong one. (Daylight Saving Time or DST assumed for all, but that may not be true.)

Where Were These Solar Eclipses and Was It Necessary for Them to Have Been Seen?

Both the solar eclipse of Rohl and the one found for 1058 B.C.E. would be seen across Africa on May 8th or May 9th (if seen).  However, as the path of darkness of a total solar eclipse is very narrow, it might not be seen as a total eclipse except in certain very specialized areas.  With the annular solar eclipse, there would be no path of complete darkness, but their would be a path of over 90% darkness (for a magnitude of 0.953).  The path, if through the Ugarit, would be down to somewhere in South America.

For the solar eclipse in 1012 B.C.E. on May 8th, the center of maximum darkness would be off the southern tip of South America.  So, a partial eclipse might be seen near sunset at the termination of the path in Africa.  For the solar eclipse of 1012 B.C.E., it is unlikely that it would have been seen as a total eclipse at the Ugarit (as the odds would be substantially against it).  The center of maximum darkness was closer - just off the farest western tip of Africa. It would probably have a better chance of being seen as a partial solar eclipse (the path of maximum darkness was 138 kilometers wide, but the path of partial darkness was very large). As to the third solar eclipse, it was centered not far from the Dominican Republic, and its path might have extended and ended near the Ugarit.  As it was a total eclipse, it would have been easier to see (at least partially) over a wide area.  It was a magnitude 1.024.  I had rejected it previously, until I realized it could have been interpreted by the observer as near near the new moon of Hiyyaru.

So, what I am saying is that until experts are consulted, there is no assurance that any of these solar eclipses could have been seen at the Ugarit!  And, if they were seen, then they were more likely seen as partial solar eclipses.

"the day of the new moon of Hiyaru was put to shame as the sun (goddess) set, with Rashap as her gate-keeper."

This is simply saying that the just visible new moon (which was expected) was not seen, as perhaps a slight conjunction of the sun and moon was seen.  So, as the sun set, the bottom of the moon was blocking some of the light or perhaps reflecting light around one edge (without the crescent edge of the moon being seen, because no light was reflected from the front of the moon).  In the case of an astronomical new moon, there is no visible crescent.  (This is the case for a solar eclipse).  But, perhaps the presence of the moon was detected by a partial blocking of the sun and/or reflection off the mountains of the edge of the moon on one side.  So, instead of a just visible crescent moon (which was expected), the moon was detected as a dark edge reflecting light strangely around the edge (not from the face of the moon).
Another explanation is that the outline of the moon was seen earlier, but as sunset arrived and the moon and sun went down together, the moon completely disappeared (i. e. was put to shame, because the moon cannot be seen if too close to the sun, since the angle of reflection is very low).  This explanation favors a solar eclipse near sunset, as the moon cannot be seen at all in a sky at noon (especially when the sun and moon are close and not partially eclipsing).

An Alternative Translation of the Ugarit Solar Eclipse (Sixth Hour or Noon Eclipse)

Dr. Nicolaus Wyatt of Edinburgh University, Scotland, U. K., says that his translation of the Ugarit solar eclipse would make it at noon (the sixth hour) and not at sunset.  I am not able to evaluate at the moment if that is true or not.  He published this result in his Religious Texts from the Ugarit, Sheffield, 1998 (pages 366-367).  If that is the case, then local time at the sixth hour in Jerusalem would be 10:00 GMT (12:00 local time in Jerusalem).  If that is true, then the solar eclipse at 05/08/1077 B.C.E. would appear to be the one.  It is highlighted in the table in red.
I hope this interpretation and date is correct, since my chronology (i. e. the chronology which I believe) for King David indicates he became king in 1077 B.C.E.  And, this would be just after King Saul died (a fact that would fit in better with the report of Saul's death to Akenaten).  This solar eclipse would have been annular and centered over Africa with a maximum  0.949 magnitude (around the eastern coast of Africa, nearly 6000 miles from the Ugarit).  The exact location would have been 4.3 degrees South (Latitude) and 38.0 degrees East (Longitude).  38 degrees East is very close to the longitude of the Ugarit, and that would appear to make it about exactly overhead at the Ugarit at noon (the sixth hour).  The timing of this solar eclipse would seem to make it a very good match for a sixth hour solar eclipse.
Of those which could be conceived of as noon or sixth hour eclipses, there are two marked with the word "noon."

Which Solar Eclipse Did I Choose?
I chose the one of 05/08 in 1077 B.C.E.  Why?  First, I rejected a number of solar eclipses as too late in history.  The conventional date for the attack of Nebuchadnezzer on Jerusalem is 586 B.C.E.  But, I know that there were a minimum of 390 years of Kings of Judah through Rehoboam, and I also know that Solomon and David ruled about 80 years total.  This makes 390+80+586=1056 B.C.E. the lowest acceptable.
The next top candidate is then the one in 1058 B.C.E.  I used the computer program by S. Takesako (EmapWin Version 1.21 of April 15, 2000) to located the places where this solar eclipse could be seen, and these places were far away - not even close the the Ugarit.  So, I rejected this solar eclipse, and that probably meant the next proper candidate would be one Saros away (19+1058=1077 B.C.E.).  This is because the previous result would mean that Nebuchadnezzer did not burn down Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E., but it was earlier in about 607-608 B.C.E. (the expected time for the 70 years of rule by Babylon from rule by Cyrus the Great in 538 B.C.E., as 608-538=70). So, it follows that if Nebuchadnezzer burned down Jerusalem around 607 B.C.E., then 607+390+80=1077 B.C.E. should be very close.  Even if this is off by 4 or 5 years, one would still have to find an appropriate solar eclipse at 1072 to 1077 B.C.E.  (There are none at sunset even close enough for validation).
But, then, the next candidates 1077 B.C.E. and 1076 B.C.E. are near noon, but according to the translations of Nicolaus Wyatt, these would be good candidates.  The solar eclipse of 05/08 in 1077 was found barely visible at Jerusalem.  The mapping of the solar eclipse showed it may have barely made it to the Ugarit (another computer program did show it hit the Ugarit).  Also, the program showed bunched together Uranus, Mercury, the Sun, the Moon, Neptune, and Venus.  So, I did not reject this solar eclipse, though it merely showed the sun and moon about touching (or even touching in the images).  In one program's animation simulation, I observed the moon catching up and crossing over the sun substantially as observed from the Ugarit.  I did reject the one of 1076 B.C.E., as it was much too far away to be visible by any stretch of the imagination.
Now, the solar eclipse of 05/20/1078 was an excellent solar eclipse as seen at the Ugarit, but it was not in Hiyyar (as Hiyyar was the next month).  Of course, if the Ugarit observer was following a calendar off by one month, the observer may have thought it was Hiyyar (as in the case of adding the extra month at the wrong time for a lunar calendar).  But, alas, it was too early in the day for an eclipse at noon.  So, by this logic, I was left with one eclipse in 1077 B.C.E., and it could barely be seen in Jerusalem (but possibly not at the Ugarit).  However, by the process of elimination, it appeared to be the only choice.
One must remember that we are dealing with calculations and not observed fact!  Eclipses are where you see them - not necessarily where they are calculated to be. (They are no doubt observable close to where they are calculated to be).
Also, as the planets Uranus, Mercury, Neptune, and Venus were all close to the apparent position of the sun (as seen from the, Ugarit which is about 35.37 degrees North and 35.47 degrees East), the pull of these planets may have temporarily altered the course of the moon (making the solar eclipse more effective).  In summary, I chose the only logical solar eclipse which might have been seen at a proper time.
Of course, if the observer had seen the solar eclipse of 05/20 in 1078 B.C.E., that was a very observable solar eclipse at the Ugarit.  That would probably mean that it occurred about the time of King Saul's death (just before David became King).  But, it was neither near noon nor sunset. (It was early in the morning.)

The table below was corrected, and the corrected analysis is at:  http://home.comcast.net/~murrellg/ELIPCHART.HTM

Table of Solar Eclipses and Related Information for the Days of  King David

 Date B.C.E. (or B.C.) Greatest Solar Eclipse, U. T., GMT, Noon=sixth hour approx. Sunset at Jerusalem, NA = Not Applicable, DST in effect Type: Partial, Annular or Total Nisan 1, Julian Day Number, Calculated Solar Eclipse, Julian Day Number for Date Solar Eclipse on Iyyar, Yes or No or Maybe Too Early, Too Late or NA to Be Ugarit Solar Eclipse Near Sunset 05/30/1079 21:46 NA P 1,327,409.90 1,327,467.5 NO NA 05/20/1078 07:09 NA A 1,327,763.97 1,327,822.5 NO NA 05/08/1077 09:39 NOON 19:23 A 1,328,147.87 1,328,176.5 YES EARLY 04/27/1076 10:36 NOON 19:15 P 1,328,502.23 1,328,530.5 YES EARLY 04/29/1068 05:23 19:17 P 1,331,425.76 1,331,454.5 YES EARLY 04/18/1067 07:15 NA A 1,331,780.13 1,331,808.5 YES EARLY 04/07/1066 15:37 19:02 T 1,332,164.03 1,332,162.5 MAYBE-VG at  sunset ? 05/30/1060 13:52 NA A 1,334,349.29 1,334,407.5 NO NA 05/08/1058 17:13 19:23 As 1,335,087.56 1,335,115.5 YES at  sunset ? 05/10/1050 11:49 19:24 P 1,338,011.08 1,338,039.5 YES EARLY 04/28/1049 14:03 19:16 A 1,338,365.45 1,338,393.5 YES EARLY 04/17/1048 22:57 19:08 T 1,338,719.82 1,338,747.5 YES LATE 04/07/1047 14:00 19:02 P 1,339,103.71 1,339,102.5 MAYBE EARLY 05/29/1041 22:27 NA A 1,341,288.98 1,341,346.5 NO NA 05/18/1040 23:50 NA A 1,341,643.35 1,341,700.5 NO NA 04/08/1039 22:16 19:03 P 1,342,027.24 1,342,025.5 MAYBE LATE 05/20/1032 18:13 NA P 1,344,566.87 1,344,624.5 NO NA 05/09/1031 20:48 19:24 A 1,344,950.77 1,344,978.5 YES LATE 04/29/1030 06:15 19:17 T 1,345,305.14 1,345,333.5 YES EARLY 05/9/1012 13:31 19:24 T 1,351,890.46 1,351,918.5 YES EARLY

Web sites Related to King David of Israel

Here are some web sites about King David.  This is not an endorsement of this information, as I personally disagree with some of the information and chronology with respect to King David and King Solomon (his son)..  Here it is as follows::

Web sites Related to Egyptian Calendars and List of Pharaohs

Chronology for King David and Related Kings of Israel

Visit my web site on the chronology of the birth of Jesus and John at:

Visit my web site on the Quest for the Dates of the Babylonian Kings:

http://mintdepot.com

Graphics (Thoth) supplied freely for educational purposes by: