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Listening to Christmas Music in October

Listening to Christmas Music in October

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Published by Donald Busch
A look at the biblical evidence for the actual birthdate of Jesus
A look at the biblical evidence for the actual birthdate of Jesus

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Published by: Donald Busch on Oct 02, 2012
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05/13/2014

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Why I Start Listening toChristmas Music in October
I really enjoy listening to Christmas music and startin October. God did not tell us exactly when Jesuswas born. The important thing is why He was born.He was born to die for our sins. He is not a Saviorbecause He was born, but because He died and roseagain. But the evidence that is available wouldmake it very unlikely that Jesus was born onDecember 25, AD 1.
The Year
Our best biblical clue regarding the year of Jesus’
birth is found in Luke 2:Now it occurred in those days, that a decreecame out from
Caesar Augustus
that the entireinhabited earth register. This first registrationoccurred when Quirinius is governing Syria.(vv. 1, 2)Augustus was born Gaius Octavius in 63 BC, thegrandnephew of Julius Caesar. In 43 BC, Octavianbecame part of a military dictatorship with Mark Antony and Marcus Lepidus. The triumvirate brokeup in 33 BC resulting in a civil war. Octaviandefeated the forces of Antony and Cleopatra in 31BC at the Battle of Actium. Chased to Alexandria,they committed suicide in 30 BC. In 27 BC, theRoman Senate granted Octavian the name
“Augustus” and gave him power over religious,civil and military affairs making him Rome’s first
emperor. In
 An Answer to the Jews
,
 
Tertullian
wrote, “
in the 41
st
year of the empire of Augustus,when he has been reigning for 28 years after thedeath of Cleopatra, the Christ was
 born” (i.e., 2
BC).
The Senate named him “Father of theCountry”. The Luke 2 registration is
likelyassociated with a call to allegiance. In
 Antiquitiesof the Jews
(AOJ, 17.2.4), Josephus wrote about
this time “when all the people of the Jews gave
assurance of their good-
will to Caesar”. In
Seven Books of History Against the Pagans
, Orosiusindicates that the census, which he dates in 752AUC (
 Ab Urbe Condit 
[from the founding of thecity {Rome}])
(2 BC), “was a public
acknowledgment that marked Caesar as the first of 
all men” (6.22.7).
This census was not primarilyabout taxation as is often portrayed, but a self-declaration by Augustus that he was the supremehuman in the known world.
The Day
Our best biblical clue regarding the day of Jesus’
birth is also found in Luke:There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the
division of Abijah
. His wife was of thedaughters of Aaron, and her name wasElizabeth. And they were both righteous beforeGod, walking in all the commandments andordinances of the Lord blameless. But they hadno child, because Elizabeth was barren, andthey were both well advanced in years. (Luke1:5-7)Luke begins his gospel with the story of the birth of John the Baptizer. His father, Zacharias, was apriest of the division of Abijah. Of these divisions,we read:
 Now the first lot fell to Jehoiarib … the eighth
to
Abijah
 
… the twenty
-fourth to Maaziah. (1Chronicles 24:7-18)Zacharias was in the 8
th
of 24 divisions. Josephuswrites in
 Antiquities of the Jews
:
David divided them also into courses: … he
found of these priests twenty-
four courses … he
ordained that one course should minister to Godeight days, from sabbath to sabbath. (7.14)To help with our study, the following is notedregarding the Biblical calendar (not the same as
today’s Jewish calendar):
 1.
 
The first day of each month was the dayfollowing the sighting of the new moon,followed by four seven-day weeks eachending in a Sabbath. These Sabbaths (i.e.,
 
8
th
, 15
th
, 22
nd
& 29
th
of the month) lined upwith the phases of the moon;2.
 
Half of the time, the new moon did notcome at the end of the month (i.e., lunarcycle is 29.5 days) and an extra new moonday was added, making half of the months30 days long;3.
 
A standard year was comprised of 12months with six 29-day months and six 30-day months, for a total of 354 days;4.
 
As the solar year is longer than the lunaryear, the calendar would begin to shift if adjustments were not made. The yearbegan with the new moon which followedthe discovery of barley that was in the abibstage (Exodus 9:31). If after 12 months,abib barley was not found, a 13
th
month(30 day) was added to ensure barley wasavailable for the wave sheaf offering onthe 16
th
day of the first month (Leviticus23:9-14);5.
 
Since we do not know historically whenthe barley reached this stage, the best wecan do is to estimate the year to begin withthe new moon nearest the vernal equinox.If the vernal equinox is more than 15 daysaway at the end of the 12
th
month, a 13
th
 month is added. This additional 30-daymonth was added approximately 7 timesout of every 19 years, resulting in anaverage 365 day year.As a standard Hebrew year had 48 weeks, eachcourse served 2 weeks per year. The first course(Jehoiarib) served in the 1
st
Month from days 1-8.The second course (Jedaiah) served 1
st
Month 8-15.Continuing along these lines, Abijah
’s course
would serve in the 2
nd
Month days 22-29.We determined that Jesus was likely born in 2 BC;therefore, our story must begin in 3 BC (i.e., wewill show shortly that Jesus was bornapproximately 15 months after the conception of John). The nearest new moon to the vernal equinoxin 3 BC was on March 16 on our calendar. Thetime of the new moon was 21:56 UT (universaltime) or 11:56 PM in Jerusalem. As Hebrew daysstart at sunrise, the new moon day would be March17. This becomes our starting point. Zachariaswould have been done serving on 2
nd
Month 29, the58
th
day of the Hebrew year. Assuming thatElizabeth
 became pregnant after one month’s time,
we would be brought to 87
th
day of the Hebrew year(3
rd
Month 29 or June 11). If Elizabeth werepregnant for 40 weeks or 280 days, John wouldhave been born approximately March 18, 2 BC.What is significant about this date? This date isequivalent to the 13
th
day of 1
st
Month. Passoverwas celebrated on the 14
th
day of 1
st
Month. As partof that celebration, the Jews leave a seat for Elijah.So what you ask? Zacharias was told regardingJohn:
But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid,
Zacharias
… your wife
Elizabeth shall bear youa son, and you shall call his name John. Andyou shall have joy and gladness, and many shallrejoice at his birth. For he shall be great beforeYahweh
… And he shall turn many of the
children of Israel to Yahweh their God. And heshall go before Him
in the spirit and power of  Elijah
, … to make ready a people prepared for 
Yahweh
.” (Luke 1:13
-17)John the Baptizer was likely born at Passover. You
may be asking, “What does that have to do with
when Jesus
was born?” Luke continues his account
with the words:And it came to be, as soon as the days of Zacharias
’s service were completed, he went
away to his house. And after those days hiswife Elizabeth conceived. And she hid herself 5
months …
and in the
 sixth month
the angelGabriel was sent by God to a city of Galileenamed Nazareth, to a maiden engaged to a manwhose name was Joseph, of the house of David.
And the maiden’s name
was Mary. (Luke 1:23-27)We learn here that Jesus was conceived during thesixth month of Elizabeth
’s pregnancy. If 
John wasconceived approximately June 11, 3 BC, then Jesuswas conceived approximately December 5, 3 BC(i.e., 177 days [6 months * 29.5 days/month]).What is significant about this? This date is theequivalent of the 28
th
day of the 9
th
Month. TheFeast of Dedication or Hanukkah begins the 25
th
 day of the 9
th
Month and lasts 8 days. Ourcalculations indicate that Jesus was conceivedduring Hanukkah or the Festival of Lights. We readconcerning Jesus:In Him (Jesus) was life, and the life was thelight of men. And the light shines in thedarkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.There was a man sent from God, whose namewas John (the Baptizer). This one came for a
 
witness, to bear witness of the Light, that allmight believe through him. (John 1:4-9)
It would be significant that the “Light of the World”
was conceived during the Festival of Lights.Finally, if we assume that Mary was pregnant for280 days, we would come up with September 11, 2
BC. Again, we would ask, “What is significantabout this?” This is equivalent to the 13
th
day of the7
th
month on the Hebrew calendar. One of thethree major feasts, Tabernacles, began the 15
th
dayof the 7
th
Month and ran until the 22
nd
day. Duringthe Feast of Tabernacles, the people would dwell inbooths for a week in remembrance of the 40 yearsin the wilderness. The Apostle writes:In the beginning was the Word, and the Wordwas with God, and the Word was God. He wasin the beginning with God. All came to bethrough Him, and without Him not even onecame to be that came to be. In Him was life,
and the life was the light of men. … And the
Word became flesh and
 pitched His tent amongus
, and we saw His glory, glory as of an onlybrought-forth of a father, complete in grace andtruth. (John 1:1-3, 14)God temporarily pitched His tent among us forsome thirty odd years. It is interesting that whenGod came to take up residence in the Holy of 
Holies in Solomon’s temple, it was on the first day
of the Feast of Tabernacles (1 Kings 8:1-10). On
that day, Solomon prayed, “
Yahweh our God is
with us as He was with our fathers”. “Our God iswith us” is a translation of “eloheinu immanu”,
essentially the same as Immanuel with a lengthenedform of the word for God. Concerning this Feastof Tabernacles or Booths, Yahweh said:Perform the Festival of Booths for seven daysafter the ingathering from your threshing-floorand from your winepress, and
 you shall rejoicein your festival 
 
… For seven days you shall
observe a festival to Yahweh your God in theplace which Yahweh chooses, because Yahwehyour God does bless you in all your increaseand in all the work of your hands, and
 you shall  be only rejoicing
! (Deuteronomy 16:13-15)With the emphasis on rejoicing, this festival was
known as the “season of our joy”. Also during this
festival, 70 bulls were sacrificed (Numbers 29), onefor each of the nations in Genesis 10. Puttingtogether the ideas of joy, not just for Israel but the
whole world, we are reminded of the angel’s
announcement on the first Christmas:Do not be afraid, for look, I bring you goodnews of 
 great joy which shall be to all people
.(Luke 2:10)We find more evidence concerning this feast in the
words, “laid Him down in a feeding trough, becausethere was no room for them in a lodging place”(Luke 2:7). The Greek word translated “feedingtrough” is
 phatne
. By reading Luke 13:15, we see
that it means a “stall”, a place for hitc
hinglivestock. In Genesis 33:15, Jacob makes booths(stalls) for his animals. The Hebrew word that isused is
sukkah
, which is the same word used for theFeast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:34,Deuteronomy 16:13, 16).During the three major feasts (Unleavened Bread,Weeks & Tabernacles), all males were required totravel to Jerusalem (Exodus 23:17). This meantthat a city that generally had a population of 100,000 swelled to 1-2 million people during thefestivals. People often had to stay in bedroomcommunities like Bethlehem, being only 5 milesfrom Jerusalem. Under normal circumstances, awoman near the end of her pregnancy would nothave traveled to the Feast of Tabernacles.
However, Augustus’ registration would explain
why Joseph took Mary with him. It does notexplain why Bethlehem was overfilled during theregistration, because just as many people wouldhave to leave Bethlehem to go to the cities of theirancestors, as people had to come to Bethlehem.However, it is the Festival that explains the reasonBethlehem was overflowing and the inn had noroom for Jesus.The best data that we are given in Scripture pointsto Jesus being conceived during the Festival of Lights and born during the Feast of Tabernacles.John the Baptizer was born during Passover. If Zacharias
second service during the year were used(8
th
Month 22-29), we would have ended up withJesus born at Passover & John the Baptizer born atthe Feast of Tabernacles. However, Scriptureprovides additional evidence that we have placeJesus
’ birth at the right time of year.
John writes inthe Revelation of Jesus the Messiah:And a great sign was seen in the heaven: awoman clad with the sun, with the moon underher feet, and on her head a crown of twelvestars. And being pregnant, she cried out in labor
and in pain to give birth. …
And she bore amale child who was to shepherd all nations witha rod of iron. (Revelation 12:1-5)

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