The key to calculating the date of the birth of Messiah is Luke 1:5 where we learn that Zacharias the father of Yochanan HaMatbiel (John the Baptiser) was a priest of the course of Abijah.
The priests became too numerous to all serve at the Temple all the time, so they were divided into 24 courses (1Chron. 24). Each course served for two weeks each year, once in the former rain (first half of the year) and once in the latter rain (second half of the year). There were also three weeks in which all the priests were required to serve, these were the three pilgrimage festivals (Dt. 16:16). 24 times 2 is 48 plus three is 51. (51 weeks is 357 days fitting nicely within the 360 day lunar year).
The course of Abijah is the eighth course (1Chron. 24:10) which serves the tenth week during the former rain portion of the year (this is because during Passover and Shavuot (Pentecost) all of the priests serve together (Dt. 16:16). Zacharias had his vision while serving in the course of Abijah in the tenth week (It will become apparent that he was serving his first course not his second as the timing will show as we progress). Thus Zacharias’ vision took place during the 10th week of the year (The religious year beginning at Nissan/Abib around 14 days before Passover). We must add two additional weeks before Yochanan (John the Baptist) could be conceived, due to the purity laws (Lev. 12:5; 15:19, 25). So Yochanan HaMatbiel was conceived in the 12th week of the year. He was born about 40 weeks later during the 52nd week of the year (12 + 40 = 52) which brings us to Passover. Thus Yochanon (John the Baptist) was born at Passover, the very time that Elijah was supposed to appear, according to Jewish tradition.
Yeshua was conceived 6 months (about 25 weeks) after Yochanon’s conception. This means Yeshua was conceived around the 37th week, around Chanukah. This would mean the Light of the World was conceived during the Festival of Lights. So we have His conception during December and not His birth as so many have been falsely taught or have believed because of tradition.
Yeshua was born 40 weeks later (around week 77 that is week 25 of the following year) this brings us to the time of the Fall Feasts.
There are several clues that Yeshua was born at Succot:
1. Bethlehem was “booked solid” so there was no room as it is written. This would not have been due to the census which could have taken place over the period of a whole year. However, every Jew was required to come to Jerusalem for Succot (Dt. 16:16). This would have over-run Jerusalem as well as Bethlehem, just six miles away. The Romans would have however used the three Foot Festivals of the Hebrew nation given by Yahweh to conduct their census for tax purposes and to number the people as they were to appear before the Lord in Jerusalem at Passover (Pesach) in the Spring, Pentecost (Shavuot) in the Summer and at the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and Tabernacles (Succot) in the Autumn.
2. Yeshua was born in a stable. The Hebrew word for “stable” is “succah” (as in Gen. 33:17) so it is possible that Yeshua was born in a Succah Booth.
3. If Yeshua was born on the first day of Succot then he would have been circumcised on the “eighth great day” a festival following Succot. This day was the original “Simchat Torah” (Rejoicing in the Torah) which is now held the following day in Rabbinic Judaism. So Yeshua would have entered the covenant on the day of “rejoicing in the Torah.” He was literally fulfilling the Law.
4. When the angels appeared to the shepherds they made a statement which closely echoes the ancient Succot liturgy “…behold, we have come to declare to you glad tidings of great joy.” (Luke 2:10-11)
5. Succot then is symbolic of God dwelling in our “tabernacle” (the body) with us.
Now, in Matthew 2:7-8,16, Herod kills all the children aged two and under. The fact that he killed such a wide range indicates that he did not know quite how long ago Messiah had been born. Yeshua’s parents fled to Egypt until they heard Herod was dead.
According to Josephus, Herod died shortly after a lunar eclipse, but before Passover (Antiquities of the Jews 17.287-488, Wars of the Jews 1.343). Only four lunar eclipses occurred in the likely time frame: September 15, 5 B.C., March 12–13, 4 B.C., January 10, 1 B.C. and December 29, 1 B.C.
For about 100 years there has been a consensus among scholars that the March 4 B.C. date was most probable (with Messiah Yeshua’s incarnation in the months prior to this time). However the work of Andrew Steinmann ‘When Did Herod The Great Reign’, highlights clear problems with this date.
Such problems including the eclipse of 4 B.C. being a relatively insignificant partial eclipse, but perhaps more importantly is the lack of time (29 days) between the eclipse and Passover for the events surrounding Herod’s death as reported by Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews 17. 156-191) to have been accomplished. Scholars have summated that a minimum of 41 days would be required (but more than likely a minimum of 62 days), to fulfil the events reported by Josephus. This would fit in well with the 92 days between the 1 B.C. eclipse and the Passover of that year.
Steinmann himself argues compellingly for the January 1 B.C. eclipse prior to Herod’s death, which would have allowed Messiah to be born Tabernacles 2 B.C.
A 2 B.C. incarnation was also the view of Tertullian, (born about 160 A.D.), who stated that Augustus began to rule 41 years before the birth of Yeshua and died 15 years after that event (Adversus Judaeos 8). Tertullian also notes that Jesus was born 28 years after the death of Cleopatra in 30 B.C., which is consistent with a date of 2 B.C.
Eusebius (264-340 A.D.) who is considered the “Father of Church History” ascribes Yeshua’s incarnation to the 42nd year of the reign of Augustus and the 28th year from the subjection of Egypt on the death of Anthony and Cleopatra (Church History 3:5). The 42nd year of Augustus ran from the autumn of 2 B.C. to the autumn of 1 B.C. The subjugation of Egypt into the Roman Empire occurred in the autumn of 30 B.C. The 28th year extended from the autumn of 3 B.C. to the autumn of 2 B.C. The only date that would meet both of these constraints would be the autumn of 2 B.C.
Eusebius, Church History, Book III:V “It was in the forty-second year of the reign of Augustus and the twenty-eighth after the subjugation of Egypt and the death of Antony and Cleopatra, with whom the dynasty of the Ptolemies in Egypt came to an end, that our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea, according to the prophecies which had been uttered concerning him. His birth took place during the first census, while Cyrenius was governor of Syria.”
A Feast of Tabernacles 2 B.C. incarnation would also marry perfectly with a Passover 33 A.D. crucifixion (remember there is no year 0 (zero) with Yeshua Himself being 33 and a half years of age at this time, having carried out a 3.5 year ministry (Luke 3:23, 13:6-9).
And following on, a 33 A.D. crucifixion is significant in relation to the fulfilment of Daniel’s 70th week (Daniel 9:24-26) – exactly 490 years from the decree to rebuild and restore Jerusalem (Ezra 7 – 458 B.C.), to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity (Daniel 9:24). Yet because of Israel’s national rejection at that time, that 70th Week of ‘grace’ was cancelled (Zechariah 11:10) and will be replayed as future ‘week’ of tribulation (Daniel 9:27, Zechariah 11:16).
However at its completion (at a future appointed time), there will be a ‘sealing up of the vision and prophecy’ and an ‘anointing of the most Holy’ at the Feast of Tabernacles. This will follow Israel’s national Yom Kippur repentance in regard to her rejection of God’s provision for her and specifically for her sin – The Fathers only Begotten Son.
6. So we can see that the scholarly truth always affirms the Truth.
We should also note that the shepherds bring their sheep down into the valleys and towns/villages to lower grazing pasture as it is generally too cold around December in Israel. (I have seen pictures taken of heavy snow falls in December and the city of Jerusalem covered in snow).
The 25th December is a Catholic religious holiday based on man and not God’s Word.
Our Hebraic heritage and understanding is far more important to us in many ways than most Christians would care to acknowledge, for many still boast against the natural branches as per the apostolic warning of Paul (Sha’ul) in Romans 11:18. Others have just not been taught correctly but the Lord is drawing His Church back into an appreciation of its Hebraic heritage and also to stand with Israel as He saves her in these endtimes. Let us continue to pray for the Peace of Jerusalem as instructed.
Date : 30/11/-0001