I thought I’d write this up to help you with your research. Disclaimer: I am not a scholar but just a dude that has been interested in astronomy for 30 odd yrs. Its just a brief overview of basic, simplified astronomy to help, as you mentioned that your grasp of the motion of planets is not as strong as your understanding of eclipses. I hope it helps. So here we go…
Observed from earth, the Sun travels through the sky, along a path above the Earths equator. The path that it follows in the sky is known as the celestial equator. The Moon follows the same path and so do the planets.
Constellations of stars are in fixed positions in the sky and some occur along the path of the celestial equator. As the Sun travels through the sky during the year, it passes through some of these constellations. These constellations are the ones we know as the Zodiac- Aries, Pisces, Scorpio etc.
Because the constellations of the zodiac lie along the celestial equator, the moon and planets also pass through them.
As observed from Earth, the planets appear to move at different speeds through the night sky, along the celestial equator and through the zodiac constellations. For example, Saturn takes about 29 years to complete a ‘lap’ of the sky. Jupiter takes almost 12 years, as a comparison.
To an astronomer, knowing the positions of SEVERAL planets on any given night is like marking a date on a calendar. The reason is that a particular arrangement of planets in the night sky may only have occurred in the same way ONCE in recorded history.
I would think that pinpointing the positions of planets in the sky to determine any given year, or month, is far more compelling evidence than using lunar eclipses.
To give a brief example, lets imagine tonight that you see Jupiter and Saturn close together in the constellation Scorpion. Without using any fancy astronomical instruments, even a Neo- Babylonian work experience kid could describe the relative positions of these planets in respect to a prominent star in Scorpio. This is position A.
Fast-forward 29 years and Saturn has completed its ‘lap’ of the sky and is back in position A. Jupiter, having taken only 12 years to complete a ‘lap’ has now done 2.4 ‘laps’ and is nowhere near position A, in fact, it is on the opposite side of the sky. This example only takes 2 planets into account. There are still 3 other planets visible in the sky that are all changing positions at different rates to the others. In VAT 4956, it consistently describes Saturn as being ‘ahead of the Swallow’. The Swallow is apparently the constellation that corresponds to what we know as Pisces. But that’s all the information we need to pinpoint the year that Saturn was in this position. If it was 588, Saturn would be nowhere this position.
There are downloadable star chart programs that allow you to view the night sky by simply entering any date.
Interestingly, the 2nd article about 607 in the 2011 WT tries to cast doubt on VAT4956 based only on the Lunar observations. Like a magician using mis-direction, it asks us to focus only on the Lunar events and ignore the over-whelming planetary evidence. There are 2-4 Lunar eclipses in any given year, so they are quite common and some occur after the moon sets, and some aren’t visible because of cloud cover, so personally, they seem a little less reliable than planets that can be observed gradually changing position over weeks, months and years.