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Genesis 1:14-19 DAY 4
The Moon Turned to Blood

Joel 2:10 says, "the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine" and in verse 31, "The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (NIV; Isaiah 13:10). This verse is quoted in the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24:29 and on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:20. Does this mean the moon actually turned to blood? Lunar rocks brought back from the moon do not show blood. This may refer to a lunar eclipse where the moon turns a blood red color, but a lunar and solar eclipse can not happen at the same time. It seems there is a combination of heavenly signs. Dark clouds covering the whole sky might be another explanation, but clouds dark enough to block the sun would completely block out the moon. There is an interesting passage in Pliny’s Natural History (Book II, X. 57) which states, "For the eclipse of both sun and moon within 15 days of each other has occurred even in our time, in the year of the third consulship of the elder Emperor Vespasian" which is the year 71 AD (LCL 330, 207).

When the moon rises just above the horizon, it may appear reddish-orange in color because of the thick atmosphere. In the ancient world the color of the moon when it rises was an important omen as seen from Ugaritic.

Ugaritic Literature

In 1978 a badly damaged text was discovered at Ras Ibn Hani near Ras Shamra. It contains several Lunar omens which say:

If the moon, when it rises, is red,
there will be prosperity [during] (that month).
[If] the moon, when it rises, is yellow-green
[ ], the cattle will perish (COS 1997, 290; KTU 1.91).

Akkadian Literature

Mesopotamian Omen 16 says, "If there is an eclipse of the moon in Nisannu and it is red—prosperity for the people" (COs, 424). It seems that a red moon is good in the ANE but in the Bible it is associated with judgment.

Next - The Stars Also