Kinsella: Maths Proves Bible Prophecy

It’s been a slow week for the blog. There are plenty of interesting religion stories out there, but none that have given me the scent of the hunt. So instead I’ve been trawling the writings of various religious writers on the net, looking for something to comment on. Funnily, I very quickly found a new contribution from Jack Kinsella, Hal Lindsey’s Wormtongue. No doubt Pete and/or SZ will soon have their commentary for the latest Hal Lindsey Oracle Cartoon; meanwhile, I’ve been looking over Kinsella’s official commentary, which consists of some serious numerology proving God restored the Jews to Israel in 1948.

First, the historical background:

Babylon was later conquered by Cyrus in 539 BC. Cyrus allowed the Jews to leave Babylon and to return to their homeland. But, only a small number returned. The return had taken place sometime around 536 BC, 70 years after Judah lost independence to Babylon as Jeremiah predicted.

This “sometime around” seems to undermine the scientific precision of his later mathematical proof. Why not choose 538, the year of the edict of Cyrus? Or 537, the foundation of the Second Temple? But let’s move on to theology:

Because most of the exiles chose to stay in pagan Babylon rather than return to the Holy Land, the remaining 360 years of their punishment was multiplied by 7. The reason is explained in Bible’s book of Leviticus. (Leviticus 26:18, 26:21, 26:24 and 26:28). In Leviticus, it says that if the people did not repent while being punished, the punishment would be multiplied by 7. And, by staying in pagan Babylon, most exiles were refusing to repent.

Yes, don’t those Jews realise they’re not supposed to live anywhere except Israel? You’d think all those anti-Semites would have managed to get the hint across by now. Unfortunately, Kinsella doesn’t give us any Biblical reference for God declaring that those Jews who failed to join Ezra’s theocracy would be punished seven times over: it’s just something he knows God must have decreed. Skinsella’s “remaining 360 years” is derived from adding up punishments given to Israel (390 years) and Judah (40 years) in Ezekiel chapter four and subtracting 70 (although he fails to spell it out properly).

But I fear there are some problems: the punishments are separate, and for two different groups of people – why should they added? Plus, the mysterious 390-year punishment was given to the Israelites of the Northern Kingdom, not to Judah anyway, so would not apply to any of the Babylonian exiles. Another problem is the rather strange take on the curses of Leviticus 26. There, God multiplies horror on horror, and we only get to exile at 7x7x7x7 (after wild animal attacks, plague and cannibalism). There’s no mention of any “seven times over” after that, and even if there were God seems to prefer inflicting new torments rather than merely extending one already given.

I’m also rather confused over how this punishment fits in with the whole Second Temple period. Since the Jews were being given the chance to return in 536, in what sense was a “remaining 360 years” of punishment still underway? Was the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE a punishment for this lack of repentance in “sometime around” 536 BCE? But surely the events of 70 CE and after only affected the descendants of Jews who had followed God’s command to return, not the others? And why did God wait 600 years? But these are deep questions. Let’s move on to the maths:

So, if you take the remaining 360 years of punishment and multiply by 7, you get 2,520 years. That is 2,520 Jewish lunar years. 2,520 years x the 360-day lunar calendar works out to 907,200 days. Divide that by 365 and you come up with 2485.479 years.

But what about the intercalendary months in the lunar system and the leap years in the other? Although the Bible appears to use a symbolic 360-day calendar in certain passages, the lunar calendar actually used by Jews evens out at 365 days a year over 19 years. This is important because of his punchline:

2,485.479 years from 536 BC brings us to the end of the first quarter of the year 1949 — exactly one year AFTER Israel’s restoration in 1948. But 1 BC and 1 AD were the SAME year, so the ACTUAL date on our calendar that Ezekiel predicted the restoration of Israel corresponds to late spring, 1948!

But that’s not ACTUALLY true. However, sometimes someone says something so weird and outrageous that you wonder whether it must be true despite all you know, so I went to the trouble of digging out an essay by L. E. Doggett in  Explanatory Supplement to the Astronomical Almanac, edited by Kenneth Seidelmann (University Science Books, Sausalito, CA):

Given an initial epoch [A.D.], one must consider how to record preceding dates. Bede, the eighth-century English historian, began the practice of counting years backward from A.D. 1 (see Colgrave and Mynors, 1969). In this system, the year A.D. 1 is preceded by the year 1 B.C., without an intervening year 0.

But there’s more. Kinsella has merely ripped off the whole theory (more or less) from Grant R Jeffrey. Perhaps Kinsella gives Jeffrey credit in his Omega Newsletter (from where the cartoon commentary is reposted), but I suspect more likely that Kinsella is a plagiarist. Anyway, Jeffrey himself boasts that:

Several years ago I discovered that God had hidden in the pages of Scripture a precise prophecy about the exact time when He would miraculously restore His chosen people to their ancient Holy Land…The interpretation of Ezekiel’s prediction about the time of Israel’s rebirth appeared in my book Armageddon – Appointment with Destiny in 1988. Despite the fact that over five hundred thousand people have read this material in various editions and languages of Armageddon, no one has been able to refute the accuracy of this incredible biblical prophecy that was given to the prophet Ezekiel when he was taken captive to Babylon twenty-five centuries ago.

Well, I think I’ve made a decent effort. However, a rather more in-depth rebuttal, and done with more panache, was posted a few years ago by Farrell Till. It can be read here, with part two here.

Last week, Kinsella pondered John Kerry’s nomination speech, and concluded: “When it was over, it occurred to me that the phrase, ‘My name is John Kerry’ was the only true statement contained in it.” What was that in the Bible about motes and beams?