Birth of Yeshuah
Most Gentile Christians wouldn’t bother to speculate about the time when Jesus was born. They celebrate it on December 25th even though they know there is no Biblical basis for choosing that date. However, there are some Messianic Jews who believe that they know, with a reasonable degree of certainty, the time of year when Yeshua (Jesus) was born. Taking into account certain Jewish customs and traditions, it’s not difficult to calculate it.
There is quite a wide consensus of opinion that Yeshua was born at some time during the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashana (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), or at Succot (Tabernacles) which follows soon afterwards. These festivals normally occur in the Autumn, about September or October, but it varies from year to year because the Jewish calendar is based on the cycles of the moon and doesn’t fit in with the Gregorian calendar.
The calculation of the time of Yeshua’s birth begins with Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. According to Luke 1:5 he was a priest of the order of Abijah. He was performing his duties, burning incense in the Temple, when an angel appeared and said his wife Elizabeth would conceive and bear a son, and he would be called Yochanan (John).
The order in which the priestly families performed their duties is given in 1 Chronicles 24:7-18. According to the Mishnah, the cycle begins on the first Shabbat (Sabbath) of Nisan, and each family of priests would minister in turn for one week. Since there are 24 families, each family would minister about twice a year. The cycle would be delayed slightly because all priests, regardless of their families, were required to be at the Temple for the three festivals of Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Pentecost) and Succot (Tabernacles).
The family of Abijah was eighth in line, so Zechariah would have had his first period of duty during Sivan (about June) and his second period during Kislev about six months later. There is no way of knowing for sure which period of duty is referred to in Luke’s Gospel, but if we suppose it is the first period we get some very interesting results.
Zechariah finished his first period of duty about the middle of Sivan. Because of his unbelief, God struck him dumb, but his reproductive system was still working. He went home to his wife and she became pregnant. Count off 40 weeks, the usual period of gestation, and we get to the month of Nisan the following year. Beginning on the 14th of Nisan, and lasting for eight days, we have the festival of Pesach (Passover), which roughly coincides with Easter on the Christian calendar. This raises the distinct possibility that John the Baptist was born at Pesach, which coincides with the Jewish expectation that Elijah would come at Pesach. The Jews always put an extra cup of wine on the table at Pesach, in the hope that Elijah will come and drink it.
If John the Baptist was born at Pesach, Yeshua (Jesus) must have been born during the High Holy Days or at Succoth. In Luke 1:26 and 36 we are told that Yeshua was six months younger than John.
When the decree went out for everyone to go to their home town to be registered, Joseph and Mary set off for Bethlehem. They would have set out in good time, before Mary was fully 40 weeks pregnant, because she wouldn’t want to be jogged into childbirth while riding on a donkey. Besides, they would have wanted to complete the journey before Rosh Hashana.
We are given a clue about the time of the birth by the angel who appeared to the shepherds and said “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people”. (Luke 2:10). There are actually two clues here. Succot is a festival of joy, and it is also known as the “Festival of the Nations”. The angel was actually giving them a greeting for the Festival of Succot. This is the only festival where the nations are positively encouraged to participate. (Zechariah 14:16-19).
During Succot, the Jews contruct flimsy shelters called “Succah”, using wood and leaves, and eat or sleep in them. This is to remember how they were completely dependent on God as they wandered around for forty years in the desert when they came out of Egypt. They are celebrating “God with us”.
The birth of Yeshua at Succot fulfils another prophecy: “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us”. (Matt. 1:23, a quotation from Isaiah 7:14).
If this is not enough, we also have to consider the type of dwelling in which Yeshua was born. Had it not been for the inconvenience caused by the census, he would have been born in a house like all other children. But he wasn’t, he was born in a stable, a flimsy dwelling where they kept sheep and cattle. So he was born in a Succah, to indicate that God had come to earth to dwell with humanity.
Eight days later, according to Luke 2:21, he was circumcised. NOT in the Temple as some suppose, but in Bethlehem, probably in the Succah where he was born. Mary would still be ceremonially unclean for 33 days after the circumcision according to Leviticus 12. Besides, she would be unlikely to travel to Jerusalem so soon after the birth even though it was not very far.
If the day of his birth was the first day of Succot, the day of his circumcision would be the eighth day of Succot which, like the first day, is a day of sacred assembly. (Leviticus 23:39). On this day, or traditionally the day after, the Jews complete their annual cycle of Torah readings and start again from Bereshit (Genesis). It is called Simchat Torah (Rejoicing of the Law), and is considered to be a time of “fulfilment” of the Torah. The circumcision of Yeshua at this time indicates how he had come to fulfil the Law and the Prophets (Matt. 5:17-18). Also in John 1:14 we read about how “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” – another obvious reference to Succot.
When the days of Mary’s purification were over (33 days after the circumcision), they would have made their way to Jerusalem to sacrifice a pair of doves or young pigeons. (Luke 2:22-24). Then they went back to Nazareth (Luke 2:39).
Every year they went to Jerusalem for Pesach. (Luke 2:41). During one of these visits, probably when Yeshua was two years old, they went to Bethlehem and stayed, not in a stable, but in a house. (Matt. 2:11). They were visited by the Magi, and then had to flee to Egypt to escape from Herod because he was killing all the male children two years old and under.
Starting from Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, and his first period of duty in the Temple, and doing a few simple calculations, we arrive at a result which gives a new and profound meaning to many passages of Scripture, and for that reason, I think Yeshua is very likely to have been born at Succot.
So what are we going to do now? Are we going to continue observing Christmas on December 25th (which incidentally has pagan origins), or are we going to celebrate the birth of Yeshua at Succot? If we do (and we don’t have to become Jewish to do it) we will be creating the conditions in which Zechariah 14:16-19 can be fulfilled. People will say “Since we are celebrating Succot, why not do it in Jerusalem?”. Up to a point, this is already being fulfilled by large numbers of Christians who go to Jerusalem for a Succot celebration each year, but it could get bigger.
In Israel it’s impossible to miss these festivals, but for the benefit of those in the Diaspora the year 2005 dates are:
Rosh Hashana (New Year) Tues. 4 October
Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) Thurs. 13 October
1st Day of Succot (Tabernacles) Tues. 18 October
8th Day of Succot Tues. 25 October
Simchat Torah (Rejoicing of the Law) Wed. 26 October
The Jewish day begins at sunset which means, for example, Rosh Hashana begins at sunset on Monday 3rd October.
When Was Yeshua Really BORN?
Millions of ostensible “Christians,” or “nominal” Christians, who think they are followers of the religion of Yeshua the Messiah, have been deceived. Not only have they foolishly embraced erroneous “traditions” as if they were “Christian,” but they have been lied to, misled by preachers and ministers and priests, and have ASSUMED that they were worshipping the Messiah! Yet Yeshua the Messiah himself warned: “Howbeit IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, teaching for doctrines THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye HOLD THE TRADITION OF MEN…” (Mark 7:7-8).
The gospel of Matthew also records similar words spoken by the Messiah. Notice! “Ye HYPOCRITES, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, ‘This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouths, and honoreth me with their lips; but THEIR HEART IS FAR FROM ME. But IN VAIN do they WORSHIP me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of MEN” (Matthew 15:7-9).
Let’s look into this matter honestly. Let’s examine the evidence, seeking the truth. When was Yeshua the Messiah born, anyway? Was it anywhere NEAR December 25? And if not, then why believe a lie, and practice and perform a lie?
The birth of the Messiah is not known for certain, but we can know the approximate time of year when he was born! In the book of Luke we read that the father of John the Baptist was Zacharias, and he was a priest who served at the temple in Jerusalem. He was “of the course of Abia” (Luke 1:5). While serving at the temple, he was informed by an angel that his wife was to have a son, who was to be named “John.” After this, Zacharias finished “the days of his ministration,” and “departed to his own house” (v.23). “And after those days, his wife Elizabeth conceived…” (v. 24).
The names of the different courses of priests that served at the Temple are given in I Chronicles 24:1-19. “Abia” or “Abijah” was the EIGHTH course. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, each one of these courses served at the Temple for one week, the first course serving the first week of Nisan, in the spring (compare I Chronicles 27:1-2), and then each course in its own order. All the priests served during the annual festivals (Passover in spring, Pentecost, and then Tabernacles in the fall). After six months, the order would be repeated, thus each “course” would serve two weeks during a year.
The course of Abijah, then, would have served the eighth week in the rotation. The eighth week from Nisan 1, leaving out the week of Passover, when all the priests served, would have been IYAR 27 TO SIVAN 5. He returned home shortly after this, and his wife then conceived. This would have been about the middle of June. If we add nine months to this date, the normal time for the gestation of a human baby in the womb, John the Baptist would have been born about the middle of March, in the spring, shortly before the Passover.
Yeshua was conceived about six months after John (Luke 1:24-31, esp. verse 26). This would suggest that Yeshua the Messiah was conceived about the middle of December. This would place his birth nine months, or 270 days, later — or the month of September!
In Search of the Real Birthday of Jesus
Author: James Tichenor
As the Christmas season rolls around upon us once again, I thought this a smashing time to revisit a question as old as the holiday itself. Is December 25, truly Jesus Christ’s birthday? As many biblically curious intellect’s know, the evidence that the exact day of Jesus’s birthday is never given in scripture. In fact, it is fairly well known that in the effort to integrate Christianity into the Roman empire as seamlessly as possible, many festivals and high holy day’s were changed so as to co-inside with popular Pagan festivals. The Pagan religion, if your so inclined to call it that, was a nature based poly-theistic false doctrine. One of the main, if not the most important festival, was the festival of Saturn which ran from approximately Dec. 19-25th. This was of course based around the Winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. This was obviously a compromise to satiate the Pagan’s, and give Cristian’s some level of recognition but, was never intended to reflect the true historical date of the birth of our Lord and Savoir Jesus Christ.
The Pagan festival of Saturn appeared to hold elements of tradition that mirrored the thing’s we’ve been brought up to believe were started around the event’s that took place at the birth of Jesus. The Winter Solstice represents the observation that the sun has reached it’s furthest southern extent on the horizon, focusing it’s most intense energy on the Tropic of Capricorn. To the Pagan’s, this symbolized the start of the new solar cycle, in essence their new year. To honor the God Saturn, (Hmm, what does that sound like? could it be, satan!), people would give gift’s to one another and were described as being in a time of merry-making. I can only surmise church leaders propagated the idea that because Jesus was given the gifts of gold, frankensense, and mir, that we should in turn give gift’s to one another. Now certainly, I am not advocating against celebrating the birth of our Lord and savior Jesus, he who is are only hope to be reconciled with God the father. But, this notion that the Christmas celebration should be a time to show our affection and appreciation of the Lord by trying to have, “Peace on earth and goodwill toward men,” was another slight play of words to blend the custom’s of the people.
So if we can’t depend on the Gregorian calendar to pin point Jesus’s birthday, we must then follow the clue’s given to us in the Biblical text. The passage’s that can lead us to the true date are few but, the Hebrew’s kept some of the most accurate historical records for at least the last six thousand years. The first written account’s to take into consideration trying to find the true date are in the story of Mary’s conception itself. Luke 2:7-8King James Version (KJV), “7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” Now in this passage lies our first clue as to the time of year Jesus came into the world. Judea is often thought of as having an desert like, warm climate year round. In fact Israel does go through a cold and rainy season during the winter month’s. Most biblical and climatology scholars agree that shepherd’s were highly unlikely to have been out in the fields with their flocks at night during December. The best time for shepherds to spend long night’s out in the fields with their sheep would’ve been late summer or early fall. By the time winter had set into Judea the shepherd’s would’ve moved their flock’s down into shelter.
The next passage that give’s us a clue to the date lies in, “Luke 2:1-4King James Version (KJV),2 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)” The Roman’s would’ve known that too calculate an accurate number, the census should have been held during a time of year with relatively good weather. To try and accomplish this during months of bad weather and unpassable roads would’ve yielded an erroneous number. With some basic agricultural knowledge in mind, these verse’s from the book of Luke, would seem to point at the months of August, or September.
The best timeline to be built to pin-point the true birthday of Jesus, can be constructed by examining the parallels and history of the birth of John the Baptist, and the biblical scriptures concerning his birth. We know the Bible makes a point of correlating the lives of John the Baptist and Jesus. The story of John the Baptist relays that his father Zacharius, and his mother Elizabeth, never had a child. Because John’s parent’s had found favor with God, they were blessed with a child when they were thought to be far too old. Luke1:5-14 states, “5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abija: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course,9 According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.”
Now here is a very important bit of information to get a correct date for the birth of Jesus. Luke 1:36, tells us that the angel Gabriel visited Mary, in Nathareth, and related to her, that her cousin Elizabeth, was six month’s pregnant at the time of his appearing to Mary. He then states that Mary has been blessed by God to mother his only son Jesus. So, how can we then calculate the approximate birthday of our Lord? Zacharius was part of an order of priests named the Abija. The responsibility of entering the temple that held the Ark of the Covenant, and burning insence as well as presenting burnt offering’s, was on a schedule broken into specific month’s and week’s by priestly order. The order of Abija, to which Zacharius belonged were responsible for this duty during the first week, of the third month, of the Hebrew calendar, Sivan. The Hebrew calendar uses a seven day week, twenty-eight day month, lunar cycle. 1st Chronicle’s 24:3, provides us with a detailed schedule that show’s this information. Therefor, knowing when Zacharius’s duty would be over so he could return and conceive john, gives us an approximate date of 15-21st of Sivan, or June. Now that we have an educated guess when Elizabeth conceived, we can make a simple calculation based on the written history. June,15-21st, plus 6 months is January, 15-21st. This is important because we know that Elizabeth is 6 month’s pregnant when she see’s Mary and, “The child in her belly jumped for joy, knowing Mary was pregnant with the Lord.” So we have January plus nine month, arriving us at a date of September, 15-21st, approximately for the birth of Jesus Christ!
And here we have Jesus Christ who was born in a warm month when the flocks were still outdoors at night – as ample proof that a compromise has been made. December 25th was celebrated by the pagans in Christ’s day, but he and his early followers would have NO PART of it.
– Mede’s Works, 1679. Discourse xlvii
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