solar eclipse
On April 8th, a total solar eclipse will occur across the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

On Monday, April 8, a total solar eclipse will pass over much of North America, and millions will bear witness to the sky going dark – an event which the contiguous United States won’t see for another 21 years.

With eclipses, it seems, come end-of-the-world prophesies. During the 2017 eclipse, many predicted judgment day was coming.

Monday’s eclipse is no different. Christian social media influencers, for example, are sounding the alarm because the eclipse’s path of totality goes through a handful of towns named "Nineveh." 

For those who aren't religious scholars, there was a biblical city of the same name that was renowned for its wickedness. This connection, some say, is a sign that the end times are near.

Ancient Eclipse Prophesies

Nor are such dire prognostications a modern phenomenon.

Solar eclipses have been documented since at least 1223 BC, when an eclipse was recorded on a clay tablet in ancient Syria. There are records from ancient China and Ireland dating back even further that some scholars argue record eclipses too. And as long as eclipses have been happening, people have been ascribing celestial or spiritual meaning to them. 

The ancient Greeks believed that eclipses were portents from the gods, while the ancient Chinese believed solar eclipses were the sun being swallowed by a dragon. The ancient Incas believed eclipses were a sign of the sun god’s anger.

Much like today, ancient civilizations looked upon solar eclipses with awe, wonder, and fear... which got us wondering if these cosmic phenomena are mentioned anywhere in holy texts. 

So, what do the Abrahamic faiths say about eclipses?

Christianity

The Old Testament is full of references to the sky turning dark, often interpreted by biblical scholars as solar eclipses. In the Bible, the sky going dark is often used as both a metaphor of coming despair, as well as an illustration of God’s power.

  • Isaiah 13:10: "The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light."
  • Ezekiel 32:7: "When I snuff you out, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not give its light."
  • Isaiah 38:8: "I will make the shadow cast by the sun go back the ten steps it has gone down on the stairway of Ahaz. So the sunlight went back the ten steps it had gone down."

Most interestingly, it is mentioned in the synoptic gospels that darkness overtakes Jerusalem during Jesus’ crucifixion for three hours, from noon to 3.

It was believed by early Christian scholars that this was a miracle, but some modern biblical scholars have interpreted this as a solar eclipse, and have tried to find the actual date of Jesus’ crucifixion using this information.

An actual solar eclipse would not be three hours, however, so others searching for a natural explanation have interpreted this event as a sand storm, confusion with a partial lunar eclipse, or simple literary flourish.

Islam

The Quran teaches that the sun, moon, and all creation was created by Allah. Muslims observe a special connection between their earthly faith and the cosmos, and eclipses are viewed as a special symbol of Allah’s power and majesty. Eclipses are so revered in Islam that they even perform a special prayer – the Salat al-Khusuf – during them.

There are two eclipses famously observed in Islamic tradition. The first is an eclipse that preceded Muhammad’s birth, which historians have linked to a documented eclipse that occurred 569 AD and which lasted around three minutes.

The second is a solar eclipse that occurred following the death of Muhammad’s young son Ibrahim. Many at the time believed it was a sign of Allah himself showing Muhammad his condolences, but per the Hadiths, Muhammad stated that the eclipse was not a sign of his son’s divinity, stating “the sun and the moon are two signs amongst the signs of Allah. They do not eclipse because of someone's death or life. So when you see them, invoke Allah and pray till the eclipse is clear.”

Judaism

Judaism holds a less rosy view of eclipses than the other Abrahamic faiths. Within the Talmud, eclipses are viewed as ill omens – a potential portent of divine anger. As is written in the Talmud:

“When the luminaries are stricken, it is an ill omen for the world. To what can we compare this? To a king of flesh and blood who prepared a feast for his servants and set a lantern to illuminate the hall. But then he became angry with them and said to his servant: “Take the lantern from before them and seat them in darkness.”

Because Jewish people follow a lunar calendar, it was believed that lunar eclipses, on the other hand, were a bad sign against the enemies of the Jewish people, and the target of ill omen could be determined by the eclipse’s location, the time of day it happened, and the color of the sky.

Curiously, ancient Jewish scholars knew that eclipses were predictable, calculable cosmic phenomena, yet still seemingly believed them related to the divine in some way.

Indigenous Cultures

Monday's solar eclipse will pass over many lands once inhabited (and some still) by tribes indigenous to North America. So, how did these tribes view eclipses?

For numerous Native American communities, an eclipse holds deep spiritual significance. Traditions vary from tribe to tribe, but some examples include:

  • The Cherokee traditionally mark the eclipse by making loud noises, driven by the belief that this will deter a mythical giant frog from consuming the sun.
  • The Navajo do not eat or drink during the event, choosing to show respect for what they view as a moment of rebirth.
  • The Ho-Chunk people of Wisconsin regard both solar and lunar eclipses with high esteem as periods of transformation.
  • The Hopi of Arizona view eclipses as moments for prayer and ceremonial practices, including the bestowal of traditional sacred names.

One other interesting note: Tenskwatawa, a Shawnee prophet and brother of Tecumseh, famously gained prominence by accurately predicting the eclipse of June 16, 1806. This prediction earned him increased support for his movement to reject European influences and oppose then-U.S. President William Henry Harrison.

The Eclipse Must Go On

Whether ill omen or holy blessing, for millennia, eclipses have been viewed by nearly every culture around the world as a sign from the divine.

People have believed for thousands of years that solar eclipses portend some sort of apocalypse, and so far, at least, they’ve all been wrong.

So, it’s probably safe to say that the world won’t end on April 8th (...and even if it does, who will be around to say "I told you so"?).

If you’re lucky enough to be in the eclipse’s path, it's worth considering the fascinating history behind this rare cosmic event and what meaning it might hold. 

What is your reaction? Do you think the solar eclipse holds spiritual significance, or is it purely a celestial coincidence?

42 comments

  1. Russel A. Kester's Avatar Russel A. Kester

    The solar eclipse is just a celestial event. But like many events in life, we humans attach our own significance to them. It's interesting to consider how a people's beliefs at the time of the event colored their interpretation of it. Likely this is still true today. We are more scientifically oriented in general. But I would like to think that God can use such events to help us understand that heaven is not up in the sky beyond the clouds as those in the past believed but is within our hearts, our souls. Reading the New Testament account where Jesus was supposedly taken up into the air and then heaven after being covered by a cloud shows the world view of the writers of the time with no concept of outer space as we know it. So that makes the entire account questionable. What will future generations think of our scientific beliefs when they will know we're all in a simulation and there is no out there or even a here. Just a program running.

  1. Ealdormon Piparskeggr Robinson's Avatar Ealdormon Piparskeggr Robinson

    Jupiter has 64 moons, imagine the werewolf population. ;-)

    1. April Camille Berg's Avatar April Camille Berg

      🤣🤣🤣

  1. Nicholas J Page's Avatar Nicholas J Page

    OK so you lucky people are going to have an eclipse enjoy it while it lasts im sure your are aware do not look directly at the sun when it happens it wil fry your retinas and send you blind take good care and watch it on a piece of card black i think it doesnt matter what it doed with time because its never been proven ,

    1. ServantOfJudgement's Avatar ServantOfJudgement

      The eclipse passes right through my area this year. Get about 1.5 mins of full darkness. Last time it did that I met my wife at the event, May 1992 I think.

      Unfortunately the weathermen like fools predicted clear skys a month ago which means...yep, you guessed it, clouds and rain instead. Wish they'd have just kept quiet but oh no, they had to hype it up.

      The bible does say the wind follows circuits to where it will. Explains why the most scientifically studied phenomenon in human history still remains a phenomenon.

  1. Merlin's Avatar Merlin

    Anything to frighten. Dopamine motivates better than serotonin. We have been taught reward and contentment are at end if you are righteous.

  1. Clay Serenbetz's Avatar Clay Serenbetz

    It's just a natural phenomenon. It happened for eons in the past with all stars' planets with moons. It will happen for eons in the future. Ascribing some supernatural meaning to it is just a tool of those who wish to control and dominate the susceptible, like MTG.

  1. Colleen McAllister's Avatar Colleen McAllister

    Nothing coincidental here, simply a beautiful display of how wonderfully the Universe was created. The laws of physics work.

  1. Stacey Owens's Avatar Stacey Owens

    Pray, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. It time to repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

    1. Mark Hannon's Avatar Mark Hannon

      Well, I haven't done anything that I need to repent. If I need to do something better in the future I just try to. Just like my hero, President Donald Trump.

      1. James Thomas Mann III's Avatar James Thomas Mann III

        I was thinking that not one of us is righteous 😎 and there is always room for improvement… but I wasn’t super impressed by the eclipse. I guess after you’ve seen a few we humans tend to be a little jaded. But I keep telling these democrats that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Every time you talk to one they don’t want to talk about issues that are relevant, they only want to try to spread hatred and fear by flopping around on the floor pointing at President Trump. The Donald talks about what matters.

        I personally believe that anyone that can create that kind of fear and hatred in these losers is the man I want. I live in California and they used to key my car and break my windows if they found out I was a Republican.

        Not so much these days… I think they’re waking up.

        Make America great again!

    2. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      Do you think that your god was righteous then, Lady Stacey, even after killing babies, infants, toddlers, young children, and pregnant mothers in the flood, and those children of the first born after his anger management issue with Pharaoh?

      Thank goodness there is no demonstrable evidence of the reality of those fables in that book you like to possibly revere. Thank you for your well-meaning comment though.

      🦁❤️

      1. James Thomas Mann III's Avatar James Thomas Mann III

        Now don’t get mad at me… but technically you’re wrong about the lack of evidence.

        Pretty much every culture in this world has a story about a great flood, and there is empirical evidence. Read up on the Sphinx and what recent studies have revealed about its age.

        Between patterns left worldwide of retreating waters and submerged ruins, not to mention things like manufactured relics found in ancient deposits of coal everything we think we know is suspect. (When I was a kid I came up with the idea that everything we thought we experienced actually existed only in our brains. Second hand at best after being relayed to it by what we call our senses. I pointed out that we could all be peas in a can connected by wires and we’d never know the difference. Long before The Matrix I caused quite an outcry by pointing that out. Heck, I used to get invited to sleepovers and camping trips just to tell what they called my “ghost stories “. Now it’s thought to be a plausible theory. And I have more to say about that some other time.). Sorry for being so long winded.🤗

        1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

          I would never get mad at you, Sir James. Thank you for your comments. Everyone’s perspective is welcome here. 🤗

          🦁❤️

          1. James Thomas Mann III's Avatar James Thomas Mann III

            And that’s why I like you 😎

  1. David Arthur Lewis's Avatar David Arthur Lewis

    Eclipses are as regular as clockwork. It's not magic. It's science. But don't forget your tinfoil hat.

  1. John Robert Milner's Avatar John Robert Milner

    This is not a biblical event but a scientific event that occurs repeatedly over several year and lasts about an hour! The darkness that coincided with Christs death was much longer and could not be predicted.

  1. April Camille Berg's Avatar April Camille Berg

    The solar eclipse is a great time for meditation and drawing from this universal energy for its transformative power. ✌️🫶🏼🌘🌑🌒

  1. Betty Julia Noyes's Avatar Betty Julia Noyes

    Reminder to be considerate of others beliefs..

  1. Stewart Newall's Avatar Stewart Newall

    Every time we have an eclipse it’s the clock of what time we have left in this world as we know it it’s Gods fail safe be he knows man as his beautiful world as broken time is ticking people time to come together 🙏

    1. Robert James Ruhnke's Avatar Robert James Ruhnke

      Eclipses have been going on well before the Bible was cobbled together. It’s just the sun being blocked out by the moon. Nothing more.

      1. Rev. Michael Gerraghty II's Avatar Rev. Michael Gerraghty II

        Absolutely!

      2. Stewart Newall's Avatar Stewart Newall

        Ok everything comes down to numbers just say blessing of God be with you 🙏❤️🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿🇬🇧

  1. Rebecca L Tice's Avatar Rebecca L Tice

    We've had earthquakes... even the Island of New York City was "shaken" yesterday [04/05/24]. The Bible says islands will dissappear.... In Iceland there have been a number of hellish volcanic eruptions... but the mountains have not gone flat yet.

    We've had a Blood Moon recently... that's a total eclipse of the moon.

    We're sceduled for the sun to turn black... Check out Revelation 6:12-17 in the Bible. That's the total eclipse of the sun.

    But... the island didn't dissappear... the mountains have not gone flat... people are all abuzz... but this is not the violent shake we read about in our Bible. These are signs... like when that apple that is just about to turn red... a sign.

    It will be terrifying when it happens.... it's supposed to shake some sense into us.

    The world has had blood moons and black suns before... we are just meaner now... and we do more fist shaking than enjoying.

    One thing to look forward too... it's always nice when the sun comes back and the earth stops moving.

    Keep the faith....

    Becky

    1. Rev. Michael Gerraghty II's Avatar Rev. Michael Gerraghty II

      No such thing as a "Black sun" not once has there ever been any evidence of such a thing.

  1. Bishop William Dusenberry, DD's Avatar Bishop William Dusenberry, DD

    MAGA’ers, and GOP biblical literalists, mostly agree that solar eclipses are illusions created by astrophysicists, to thwart the will of the Christian God when he was dictating the contents of what is now, the Hebrew/Christian to Moses. And, as per the Christian/Hebrew Bible, at least the one written and prepared, by British King James, Genesis, which God dictated to Moses, clearly makes the appearance of any solar eclipse impossible; ergo, illusions concocted by the Christian Devil (AKA, Satan). And, if DJT, and the rest of his anti-Woke-ers, get their way, (if DJT wins, that is) the mass media in the USA, will no longer be able to use the “PUBLIC” airways, to depict the solar eclipses concocted by the astrophysicists.

    1. Russel A. Kester's Avatar Russel A. Kester

      William, where do you get such ideas? It sounds like someone is spinning quite a yarn.

      1. Bishop William Dusenberry, DD's Avatar Bishop William Dusenberry, DD

        Just read your Thomas Jefferson’s Bible, available from the ULC Minister’s Store — every ULC minister should read it, before they utter their utterances online; remember this before you post again; and get your ministers credentials before you do — because Ignorance is bliss, but not for ULC ministers, who must maintain their credibility— non-minister Kester,

      2. Russel A. Kester's Avatar Russel A. Kester

        William, I much prefer to continue reading the Christian scriptures whole as well as Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish theology. I seriously doubt the Jefferson Bible had anything to say about eclipses, MAGA, or GOP literalists. And how exactly is it that astrophysicists could create the illusion of an eclipse such that anyone would think it true when it literally happens in the sky above for all to see? No, MAGA people and biblical readers do not believe these things as you say they do. And Trump has nothing to do with ellipses. They've happened since there's been an earth and a moon. Nothing you said made any sense. As for you posting who should or should not be able to post online. That's not your call. All ULC ministers are permitted to post online not only those approved by you. And please do tell what ministerial credentials Jesus Christ had before he began his ministry.

        1. James Thomas Mann III's Avatar James Thomas Mann III

          Now boys… please play nice!😇😎😉

          1. Russel A. Kester's Avatar Russel A. Kester

            LOL. Okay.

    2. Gregory Joseph Drobish's Avatar Gregory Joseph Drobish

      Been drinking a lot of Kool-aid recently?

  1. Rev. Dr. Father JJ's Avatar Rev. Dr. Father JJ

    the darkness that will crawl across the land is the dragging finger of god and all that are in the path of the finger of god will die and be sent to hell

    1. Rev. Michael Gerraghty II's Avatar Rev. Michael Gerraghty II

      Lol! What movie is that?

    2. Mark Hannon's Avatar Mark Hannon

      I think that's called night time usually.

    3. Scott Edward McCoy's Avatar Scott Edward McCoy

      off the topic of the eclipse, but has it been considered that our daily lives are our sentence to hell, and by repenting we will move on and out when we pass, those who don't will be committed to repeat the sentence...

  1. Steven Ferrell's Avatar Steven Ferrell

    Eclipses have been taking place since creation. God set up the earth and planets to move in certain ways.
    It was no big deal.

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      Eclipses have been taking place since the evolution of our own solar system. There is still no demonstrable evidence of your claim that any deity set up the Earth and planets to move in certain ways.

      Within our solar system there is nothing special about their movement, they all revolve around the sun in the same direction.

      🦁❤️

  1. Rev Ned's Avatar Rev Ned

    I’m disappointed. I was looking forward to life without all those annoying “religious holier than thou” people hating on each other.

    1. Patti Anne Lisenbee's Avatar Patti Anne Lisenbee

      Especially MTG leaving!

  1. Luke LeBoeuf's Avatar Luke LeBoeuf

    I believe that the eclipse is something spiritual and holds significance of the heavenly planets and stars that GOD created including the eclipse every 20 years...!!!

    REVEREND LUKE J LEBOEUF

  1. William Joseph Valdez's Avatar William Joseph Valdez

    Hello did anyone else see the column and the two spears stab the earth?

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