On Thursday, as the Hebrew month of Tammuz begins, a rare sunrise solar eclipse will take place which in the northeastern United States will appear as “devil horns”. An identical eclipse almost exactly 3,228 years ago helped Joshua conquer the five armies.
Annular eclipse at sunrise: Ring of fire
On Thursday morning, northeastern Canada will be greeted at sunrise by an annular solar eclipse which will culminate over Russia in a ring of fire sunset. But those who view the astronomical event, also known as a ring solar eclipse, from New Jersey and New York (5:24 AM EST) will see the sun eclipsed 73%, resulting in a red-horned crescent-shaped sol. The more optimistic may see it as a smiley face with but astronomers refer to the phenomenon as solar devil’s horns.
A solar eclipse coinciding with the sunrise is fairly rare, occurring only twice in the last 150 years: September 29, 1875, and October 2, 1959.
An annular eclipse occurs when the Sun and Moon are exactly in line with the Earth, but the apparent size of the Moon is smaller than that of the Sun. This occurs when the Sun, Moon, and Earth align while the Moon is close to its apogee, the furthest it gets from Earth in its elliptical monthly orbit. Hence the Sun appears to the Earth as a very bright ring, or annulus, surrounding the dark disk of the Moon. This is, essentially, the opposite of a supermoon, when the moon is close to the earth making it appear larger. Sunday’s annular eclipse is especially rare as it comes in the summer. The Earth’s orbit around the Sun is elliptical, making the Earth’s distance from the Sun vary throughout the year. This affects the apparent size of the Sun.
Solar eclipse in Jewish tradition
The solar eclipse comes on Rosh Chodesh, the first day of the Hebrew month Tammuz. Kabbalists consider Tammuz to be one of three dangerous months because of its extreme energies. It was in this month, the 17th of Tammuz when the walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Romans in 69 CE.
In its discussion of eclipses, the Talmud (Sukkot 29a) specifically described solar eclipses as being a bad omen for the nations who base their calendars on the solar cycle. Indeed, the complete solar eclipse that transversed the continental United States in August 2017 ushered in the most devastating hurricane season in US history.
At the end of this section describing the omens contained within eclipses, the Talmud states a disclaimer: “When Israel does the will of the place (God), they have nothing to fear from all of this,” citing the Prophet Jeremiah as a source.
Thus said Hashem: Do not learn to go the way of the nations, And do not be dismayed by portents in the sky; Let the nations be dismayed by them! Jeremiah 10:2
It should be noted that a devil’s horns eclipse was photographed over the Persian Gulf in December just days before the US embassy attack in Baghdad and one week before Soleimani’s assassination.
Annular eclipses played a significant role in the Bible. In a paper published in the scientific journal Astronomy and Geophysics in 2017, researchers from England’s Cambridge University confirmed a theory that Joshua’s miraculous ‘stopping of the sun’ during a battle to allow the Israelites more time to defeat their enemies was actually an annular solar eclipse identical to the one that will appear on Thursday.
And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the nation had avenged themselves of their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stayed in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. Joshua 10:13
On the Hebrew calendar, this solar eclipse occurred on the 3rd of Tammuz, two days after the eclipse on June 10.
The next ring of fire solar eclipse is expected to be visible in the American southwest on October 14, 2023.