The Miracle of the Sundial of Ahaz
For those who have been keeping up with the sessions of Jon Nessle’s Class on Old Testament History, we have come to a section called Biblical Chronology. This topic deals with time in general; regarding events, both in history and in the future, dealing with Bible Prophesy, along with the details of Hebrew timekeeping and their calendar.
The Almighty Creator originally intelligently designed the universe with His sacred timekeeping installed at the foundation. He set the fixed stars and planets in place, so that man could understand times – seasons, days and years, [Gen. 1:14]. With this in mind, I wanted to call attention to an interesting article I found on a fascinating Biblical topic regarding the Sundial of Ahaz. I will include the majority of the post by Bob the Berean, entitled The Sun Dial of Ahaz and the Extra 40 Minutes! 1 in this month’s blog for your edification, to help us think about Biblical time and how our Creator–God designed the temporal order of Creation for our planet.
As Jon Nessle and Ren Manetti have taught, God’s calendar originally had 30 days in each and every month. The first statement made by Bob the Berean in his blog that caught my attention is: “The relationship between the sun and the moon defined the months.” This is a foundational concept to understand when considering this miracle on the Sundial. The setting for the miracle of the Sundial of Ahaz takes place during the rule of King Hezekiah, when Jerusalem was under siege by King Sennecarib, in 1 Kings 20, and Isa. 38. According to the blog by Bob the Berean;
“In 712 B.C. Hezekiah was king of Judah and fell ill. The prophet Isaiah was sent to his bedside to tell him to set his affairs in order because he was not going to recover. Hezekiah wept and prayed to the Lord and reminded him how he had served Him in sincerity and truth. Since he became king, Hezekiah had spent his time tearing down the high places, groves, altars and idols to the false gods in the land. He had indeed served God.
(2Ki 20:5-6) Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD. (6) And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.
God heard his prayer and through Isaiah told him that he would –
1. heal him
2. he would appear in the temple on the third day
3. He would add 15 years to his life, and
4. He would deliver Jerusalem out of the hand of the king of Assyria.
Talk about answered prayer! But look how bold Hezekiah was in response –
(2Ki 20:8 ) And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the LORD will heal me, and that I shall go up into the house of the LORD the third day?
After being granted all that, he had the nerve to ask for a sign! And the Lord granted it! Now here’s where we get back to the calendar and how keeping track of time became more complicated.
(2Ki 20:9-11) And Isaiah said, This sign shalt thou have of the LORD, that the LORD will do the thing that he hath spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees? (10) And Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees: nay, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees. (11) And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the LORD: and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz.
So God altered the position of the sun such that time went backwards! This added time to that day and every day since. How much time? If you think of the eastern horizon to the western horizon as 180 degrees (half of a complete circle), then 10 degrees would be calculated like this –If daylight is 12 hours then 180 degrees equals 12 hours:
12 hours x 60 minutes per hour = 720 minutes
720 minutes divided by 180 degrees = 4 minutes per degree
10 degrees that God moved the shadow backwards x 4 minutes per degree = 40 minutes!
So God moved the position of the sun such that time turned backwards by 40 minutes. Imagine you’re lying on your bed as Hezekiah was and the sun has gone down. Suddenly, the sun appears above the horizon again after it has already set! Now that’s a sign!
It doesn’t tell us specifically that the sun had already gone down, though it could have, the movement of the shadow backwards on the sundial would have been just as dramatic.
Why the Sun’s Position Must have Changed, and Not the Earth “rotating” Backwards-
For the shadow of the sundial to return backwards 10 degrees, this must be the sun’s position moving and not the earth rotating backwards. If both the sun and moon moved, or earth rotated backwards, then there would be no change in the months. If both the sun and moon moved backwards together, then there would be no change in their relationship, only the length of that day would be 40 minutes longer. As was the case in Joshua’s “long day” (Josh 10:12-13), the sun and moon both stood still, and their relationship between each other did not change. The only thing that happened was a “long day“ until the battle had ended.
For the 10 degrees to make a change in the months, there had to have been a change in the position of the sun in relation to the moon. This would change the length of the phases, that determines the length of the months. If both sun and moon didn’t move, but the earth “rotated” backwards, this could not explain a change in the months either, as the relationship between sun and moon would remain unchanged. It would have only made that day 10 degrees/40 min longer. But it wouldn’t have changed the months. The moon’s phases and times
would still have been the same since the moon is dependent only upon the sun for the timing of its phases, and not the earth.
The Jews have kept track of the months by observing one new moon to the next, for centuries. The Hebrew calendar has 12 months of 29 1/2 to 30 days. Approximately every 3 years they add a 13th month. Does that correlate in any way with the 10 degrees/40 minutes?
40 minutes per day x 30 days per month = 1200 minutes difference per month
1200 minutes x 12 months per year = 14,400 minutes per year
14,400 minutes per year x 3 years = 43,200 minutes
43,200 minutes divided by 60 minutes per hour = 720 hours over 3 year period
720 hours divided by 24 hours per day = 30 days (the 13th month!)
This adjustment is required also to ensure the alignment of the feast days with the correct season.
Why Did God Choose How Many Degrees and not allow Hezekiah to choose?
(2Ki 20:9) And Isaiah said, This sign shalt thou have of the LORD, that the LORD will do the thing that he hath spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees?
Here we see that God gave Hezekiah the choice of 10 degrees forward or backwards, but not how many degrees. Why did God choose how many degrees, and not let Hezekiah choose? Because it could have affected God’s sanctified holy Sabbath.
If God had let Hezekiah choose the number of degrees, we as men like to see spectacular fantastic miracles. And as such Hezekiah might have chosen 30 or 40 degrees! What would that have done to the calendar? If a change was made, which caused more than 1 day’s loss in any month, we would lose the last Sabbath of that month, as the last Sabbath is the 29th day of the month on the Hebrew calendar. As it stands now, only the 30th day, is lost in some months. If we had lost two days instead of one, then we would lose both the 30th day, and the 29th day Sabbath, thereby destroying the 7-day weekly cycle, which God instituted in Genesis 2:3.” 2
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made.
God blessed and sanctified the seventh day making it a Sabbath Covenant going forward, and He did not allow this Miracle of the Sundial of Ahaz to interfere with this. According to the calculations of Bob the Berean above, the 40 Minutes related to the 10 degrees the shadow of the sun moved backwards, on the sundial, the numbers fit a sacred numerical matrix that pervades the earth and our solar system. As the sun passes through its 365.2224- day, annual course it “dwells” in each of the 12 houses of its “civil year” of the zodiac for one month. The Sun moves in its circuit at a rate of 12 miles a second, or 43,200 miles per hour, with its train of planets in our solar system between the boundary lines of the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Interestingly, the sun’s orbital speed is 1/10th of 1/2 its perimeter in miles [864,000], or [20 x 43,200] shown as a multiple in the unity of Space-Time. In the base 60 number system seen in the 60 seconds per minute, 60 min. per hour, and 360-day calendar year of Noah, also breaks down into the basic numbers of 6 x 10. This exhibits the relation between the civil [lunar], and sacred [solar] years of the Hebrew calendar, in context of precession. This base 60 number system also provides the basis for the golden section ratio, also known as phi: 1.618 (10 by 6.18, or 100 by 61.8…). In addition to unifying the structure of the human body, the musical scale, planetary orbits, biological growth cycles and the Hebrew Calendar, this phi ratio proves to also be a key element in the correlation of the eclipse cycle with the solar year.
The numbers Bob the Berean referenced above, all fit within the workings of the Hebrew Calendar, and how Israel intercalated their calendar with an extra or 2nd month of Adar, to make up the 11-day difference between the luni-solar cycles. God knew how much leeway He could allow for this miracle of the Sundial, but He could not allow it to violate His existing Sabbath Covenant. It is important that we understand these, and other details to absorb to a fuller extent, the ramifications of God’s structure of the Hebrew Calendar, and how it relates to the Zodiacal band., within which the 12 constellations of the Mazzaroth are viewed on the earth.
With this in mind, let’s continue with a deeper look at the planet Mercury, symbolizing the winged-footed Mercurius, indicating the speed and urgency with which the archangel Gabriel carries the teachings and messages of God, depicted in this planet’s rapid 88-day solar orbit. The range of Mercury’s orbit is within the Earth’s tropical borders, delineating the rectangular borders wherein the celestial light of the Sun, Moon and Stars is shed upon our planet. The word “tropic” has its roots in the Greek word tropos; [G5157], found in James 1:17 with a shadow cast by the turning of a heavenly body. This is understood better when we realize that the Solstices are the farthest points from Earth, for the Sun’s position, and thus the seasonal turning points of the calendar, where the days lengthen in summer, and shorten in winter. Because Mercury’s orbit takes it as much as 7 degrees North, or South of the Equator –Mercury is seen as figuratively bringing the light of God’s message to the Earth, by delineating our bounds on this pathway of the stars, within which the light of the Celestial Gospel is shed. This heavenly highway of 15 degrees is called the zodiacal band,
This also distinguishes the planets and stars outside this band generally un-named, by God in the firmament, from those whose names have been with us since antiquity, within this band [Ps. 147:4] As the messenger archangel of light, Mercury symbolizing Gabriel, defines a pathway in which God’s three-fold light in the Celestial Gospel is shed upon the Earth. The tropical borders will also determine the two interlocking polar borders of the great circles of the ecliptic and Equator in the cycle of obliquity, relating to the varying degree of the earth’s axis tilt.
Figure 1. The Earth’s Axis and the Obliquity Cycle. 3
It is important to realize Mercury’s symbolic portrayal of the ministry of the archangel Gabriel, and how this translates into the science of Astronomy, relating to the boundaries of the tropics. We find here a truth and correlating principle in the revelation of God’s threefold celestial light in Biblical Astronomy, as it reveals the laws of scientific astronomy.
Even as the orbit of the planet Mercury is compatible with the borders of the zodiacal band, so these borders fall inside the tropical boundaries on Earth. Thus, Mercury-Gabriel establishes the boundaries wherein celestial light is revealed upon the Earth, not only in a spiritual sense, when Gabriel brings a message of God directly to the people, and in the Gospel in the stars, but also in a practical scientific sense. Astronomy in ancient cultures on the face of the Earth documented the extreme rising and setting points of the Sun’s Solstice, as witnessed for example, with the Great Sphinx and Stonehenge. One of our goals is to uncover the roots of the Astronomy of the Biblical Patriarchs that underlie the vast reservoir of ancient Archaeo-Astronomy, to recognize the influence exerted by the wisdom and divine revelation of these antediluvian Men of God. In this way, the study of Biblical Astronomy, reveals an authentic fountainhead of knowledge in ancient astronomy, which was perverted in later star religions of the ancient World.
Another level of truth we need to consider related to the Miracle of the Sundial of Ahaz, which is not mentioned in Bob’s blog above, relates to what are called the “Songs of the Degrees.” There are 15 of these Psalms, that get their name from the 10 degrees the shadow returned on the Sundial, and are found in the Psalms, from; 120-134.
They relate to the 15 years added to the life of King Hezekiah, resulting from his prayer to God for healing him. These 15 Psalms break down into 10 related to Hezekiah and the 10 degrees the sun moved back on the dial, [2 Kings 20:8-11], while the remaining 5 Psalms are from King David  and King Solomon . The Psalm of Solomon occupies the center position [Ps. 127] in the structure of these 15 Psalms, with 7 Psalms on either side of it, including 2 Psalms in each of the 2 sets 7-by King David, and 5 of these two sets of 7 by King Hezekiah. 4
Since these 15 Psalms record God’s deliverance of His people from their trials under these 3 kings, God’s names are prominent in these Psalms, where the name Jehovah occurs 24 times in both of the 2 sets of 7 Psalms. The 15 Psalms are arranged in 5 groups of 3, emphasizing God’s Deliverance with the subject in each of the first group is Distress, the second is Trust in Jehovah, with the 3rd covering blessings and peace in Zion. 5
The Structure of the Psalms of the Degrees is as follows; 6
from E.W. Bullinger’s Companion Bible.
Group 1. Distress
Psalm 120- Hezekiah’s distress under siege crying to Jehovah
Psalm 121- Hezekiah’s trust in Jehovah’s help
Psalm 122-Hezekiah’s deliverance and blessing in the house of Jehovah
[Psalm of David]
Group 2. Trust
Psalm 123-Hezekiah looking unto Jehovah
Psalm 124-Hezekiah trusting Jehovah [Psalm of David]
Psalm 125-Hezekiah’s blessing and Peace in Zion
Group 3. Blessing and Peace in Zion
Psalm 126-Hezekiah’s Distress prayer to turn his captivity
Psalm 127-Center Psalm of Solomon [Trust]
Psalm 128-Hezekiah’s Blessing and Peace out of Zion
Group 4. Distress
Psalm 129-Hezekiah’s distress in affliction
Psalm 130-Hezekiah trusting Jehovah
Psalm 131-Hezekiah’s Blessing and Peace out of Zion
Group 5. Trust
Psalm 132-Hezekiah recalls David distressed in affliction
Psalm 133-[Psalm of David], Trusting Jehovah w/1 heart.
Psalm 134-Hezekiah’s Blessing and Peace out of Zion
Link to the Structure of the Psalms of the Degrees from E.W. Bullinger’s Companion Bible.
The Zodiacal Band. 7
What is interesting about these 15 Psalms of the Degrees is that they get their name directly from the 10 degrees that the shadow of the sun moved backwards on the Sundial of Ahaz. These 10 degrees symbolized the 15 years added to the life of King Hezekiah. Is it a mere coincidence that these 15 Psalms of the Degrees mirror the 15 degrees of the Zodiacal Band? The Center Psalm of Solomon; [Ps. 127], reflects the center-line of the Equator of the Earth, with 7 degrees- or 7 Psalms of the Degrees, on either side.
“The Great Hallel, which included these 15 Psalms of the Degrees, was sung at Passover, being recited at the Paschal supper, since remote antiquity. It praised the goodness of Jehovah towards Israel, in their deliverance from Egypt, where this generation began serving God instead of Pharaoh. Below, Alfred Edersheim tells us how the true worship of the Great Hallel or “Hallelujah chorus” was ordained and carried out on the Temple Steps by the Heavenly Father, in opposition to the idolatry that occurred before:
“….The Levites (with instruments of music without number) stood upon the fifteen steps which led down from the Court of Israel to that of the Women, according to the number of the fifteen Songs of Degrees in the Book of Psalms [Ps. 120-136]. Two Priests with trumpets in their hands, were at the upper gate (that of Nicanor), which led from the Court of Israel to that of the Women. At cock-crowing, they drew a three-fold blast. As they reached the tenth step, they drew another three-fold blast; as they entered the Court itself, they drew yet another three-fold blast; and so they blew as they advanced, till they reached the gate which opens upon the east (the Beautiful Gate). As they came to the eastern gate, they turned round towards the west (to face the Holy Place), and said: Our fathers who were in this place, they turned their back upon the Sanctuary of Jehovah, and their faces towards the east, and they worshipped towards the rising sun; but as for us, our eyes are towards the Lord.” 7 [Ezek. 8:16]
This tells us the nature of this idolatry based on sun worship, while shedding some light on the association of these the fifteen Songs of Degrees [Ps. 120-134] known as the “Great Hallel,” with the miracle of the Sun going backwards on Ahaz’ sundial. This was a sign not only of Hezekiah’s personal rescue, but also the liberation of all those dwelling in Jerusalem via the fifteen years added to Hezekiah’s life, each year related to one of the 15 Psalms of the Degrees mentioned above, [Isa. 38]. This miraculous healing of King Hezekiah led to the extension of his progeny that eventually produced Jesus Christ, man’s deliverer. The Creator’s control of the sun in relation to the Earth’s orbit confirms His omnipotent power over these celestial bodies as only a small part of His Creation, no aspect of which deserves worship in place of the Almighty, [Rom. 1:23-25]. This record in Ezekiel 8 thus exposes the decrepit foundations of all forms of Astrology, showing the level to which the idolatrous substitution had its affect, because each ascending step of the Hallel rite leading up to the Temple altar, was given over to an idol. This lead to the corruption of not only Temple, with all its associated ministers, Sanhedrin priests, altar and sacrifices, but also the entire nation would be under this spiritual darkness as a result.
This Miracle of the Sundial was a game changer not only for King Hezekiah and all Israel, but all mankind also since the progeny of the Christ-line through Hezekiah was extended, that brought us our redeemer–Jesus Christ! This was probably another occasion where the enemy was partying thinking they had won, when Isaiah told the king he would die and not live, [Isa. 38:1] until Hezekiah’s faith turned the tables unto victory for mankind, through the Son of God. How thankful we are for great believers like this who stood against the darkness until the light prevailed, and as we stand we will see it do and see the same. Amen!
3. Picture credit, Heaven’s Mirror, Graham Hancock, Santha Faiia, p. 182.
4. E.W. Bullinger’s Companion Bible, p.827
6. IBID, App. 67
8. The Temple, its Ministry and Services, Edersheim, p. 176.