The Date of Jesus Birth
( 7 Reasons )


The Christian Church celebrates the Birth of Jesus Christ on the 25th December.
However this time of the nativity only began in the time of Constantine in 336 AD. The 25th of December was adopted by the Roman Catholic Church as the date of Christ’s birth because it coincided with an already established festival celebrated by the many pagan religions. It was Pope Julius 1 that declared the 25th of December the official date of Jesus birth.

Practically all the known pagan Sun-deities were believed to have be born on the 25th December.
In  Sarah Elizabeth Titcomb’s book, “Aryan Sun myths, the Origin of Religions”, 1842-1895, we find it cited, quoted from primary sources, that the following Sun-deities were all born on 25 December, according to their legends: Crishna (Vishnu), Mithra (Mithras), Osiris, Horus, Hercules, Dionysus (Bacchus), Tammuz, Indra, and Buddha.

 

So if this date is not the correct date, can we know when Jesus really was born?
The date of the birth of Jesus can be properly calculated from what is revealed in the Bible.

If you do a search on this subject, you will find various teachings on when the birth of Jesus occurred, from December, September, November , March and April.

 

Many theologians and historians believe it is more likely that the birth of Jesus took place in the spring, possibly March or April. After all, the lambs that were to be used as sacrifice were born in Bethlehem in the spring, which is symbolic of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world who was also born in Bethlehem.

We may ask the question, does it really matter when it was? Some believe it doesn’t but when you think that this was the time when God became incarnate, He became flesh and according to the scriptures it was in the fullness of time. God thought it important and it was the correct time, so it should be important to us.
Also, there maybe other things that we can learn about God and His perfect timing.

 

So, can we know the real date of the birth of Jesus?
Well! The scriptures do give us quite a few clues.
We know that Herod was the king at the time of Jesus birth.


Mat 2:1  Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king,
 

We know that Herod sought to kill the child and tried to dupe the wise men, who came to visit Jesus, asking them to tell him where the child was.

Mat 2:7  Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 

Mat 2:8  And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 
 

Of course the star guided them to the stable where they gave gifts to Jesus. Then being warned in a dream, they returned to their home another way.
Mat 2:12  And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. 

We also know from scripture that Joseph was warned by God to flee from Herod.
Mat 2:13  And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 

Mat 2:14  When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: 

Mat 2:15  And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. 
 

The Return to Nazareth

Mat 2:19  But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 

Mat 2:20  Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life. 
Mat 2:21  And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. 


Okay, so we know that Jesus was born during the time of Herod’s reign. We also know that Joseph and Mary did not bring Jesus back to Israel until Herod was dead.
So if we can find out when Herod was king and when he died, we can narrow the search down.
Historical accounts reveal that Herod was king for 34 years and died in his 34 year. According to the Gregorian calendar, Herod died after the 29th March in the Gregorian year 4 BC, which on the Jewish calendar is the 1st of Nisan in the Hebrew year 3757. So the end of Herod’s 33rd year was on the 28th March and the first day of his 34th year was 29th March in the year 4 BC.
Josephus wrote: "So Herod, having survived the slaughter of his son [Antipater] five days, died, having reigned thirty-four years, since he had caused Antigonus to be slain, and obtained his kingdom; but thirty-seven years since he had been made king by the Romans."  [War of the Jews, 1:33:8 (665); cf. Antiquities of the Jews 17:8:1 (191)]

Now, the Jewish Passover is on the 14th day of Nisan, 3757, which was the 11th April on the Gregorian calendar 4 BC.

Josephus, the well known historian of that day, recorded that on the day of the Passover, Herod’s son, Archelaus was already king. So that means that Herod was already dead on the Passover of 11th April.
This means that Herod died between 29th March and 11th April, 4 BC. This narrows it down to 13 days.

Josephus also told us that Archelaus mourned for seven days after the death of his father Herod. So that would mean that Herod must have died at least 7 days earlier which would put his death between 29th March and  the 4th April, 4 BC.

In Antiquities 17.6.4, Josephus also wrote that that the death of Herod coincided with a lunar eclipse, which occurred around 13th March  in 4 BC and before Herod died.


So this narrows it down to 6 days.

The scriptures say that Jesus came to fulfil the law:

Mat 5:17  Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 

We know that the law says that every woman that bears a male child must according to the law go through purification rites.
In Leviticus, it tells us that when a woman has a baby boy she is unclean for 7 days and on the 8th day the child will be circumcised. Then after that she goes through 33 days of a cleansing ritual. That is a total of 41 days before she is completely clean.

She is not allowed into the temple courts until her 41st day, when she will complete her cleansing offering.
 

Purification after Childbirth.
Lev 12:1  And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Lev 12:2  Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean. 

Lev 12:3  And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. 

Lev 12:4  And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled. 
 

Whilst Herod was alive, Mary could not fulfil her purification rites in the temple at Jerusalem

Luk 2:21  And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 
 

So 8 days after Jesus birth he was circumcised V21. 33 days later their purification was completed. This is 41 days.

Luke 2:22  And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; 
 

So, if we know when the 41st day was, all we need to do is count back 41 days to find the date of Jesus birth.

Passover in the year 4 BC  (Gregorian calendar) was on the 11th April.
This date was 14th Nisan, 3757 (Hebrew calendar).

Josephus writes that Herod the Great (father of Archelaus) was in Jericho at the time of his death. Just prior to his final trip to Jericho, he was deeply involved in a religious conflagration. Herod had placed a golden eagle over the Temple entrance which was perceived as blasphemous. The eagle was chopped down with axes. Two teachers and approximately 40 other youths were arrested for this act and immolated. (killed or offered as a sacrifice, especially by burning).
Later after Herod was dead,  Archelaus ascended the throne and inherited a lot of problems to do with his father’s actions.

Josephus goes on with an exposition of the days of Archelaus' reign before Passover of  11th April 4 BC.
Taken from Josephus, The Wars of the Jews. (ca. 75 CE)
Josephus writes, those soldiers who came from Archelaus were stoned, with many killed. After the stoning, those who stoned the soldiers returned to their sacrifices, as if nothing had happened. Josephus does not tell who performed the sacrifices in the Temple.
It was after midnight, and Archelaus suddenly ordered the entire army into the city to the Temple. Josephus records the death toll at 3000.  Archelaus sent heralds around the city announcing the cancellation of Passover.


So, from the 15th Nisan, the 12th April, Passover was banned.

 

This being correct then Mary must have visited the temple prior to this incident.

22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
23 As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;
24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,


So Mary did complete her purification prior to the cancellation of the Passover.

Now, Herod died somewhere between 29th March and 4th April. As we have seen, Archelaus was already king at the Passover of 11th April 4 BC.
 
According to scripture when Joseph and Mary left Egypt after hearing of the death of Herod, they did not go straight to Jerusalem, they went to Nazareth.

The Return to Nazareth

Mat 2:19  But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 

Mat 2:20  Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life. 

Mat 2:22  But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: 

Mat 2:21  And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. 

Mat 2:23  And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene. 
 

Then they travelled from Nazareth to Jerusalem, arriving there prior to the Passover.
From the border of Egypt to Nazareth is about 150 miles, which is about a 6 day journey with a donkey.
Then from Nazareth to Jerusalem is about 65 miles, about 3 day journey. This would be approx 9 days total.

We have determined that if Archelaus began his reign before the 11th April which was the date of the Passover in 4 BC and he mourned for seven days. His father Herod must have died before the 4th of April.

If Joseph and Mary were travelling for at least 9 days, from Egypt to Nazareth and on to Jerusalem, they must have begun their journey around the 2nd April. Which would see them in Jerusalem around the 9th/10th April but before the 11th.
So, taking this into account and knowing that Herod was dead before Joseph set off from Egypt.

It is acceptable to conclude that Herod must have died on the 1st April.

In Conclusion.

If we count back from the 9th/10th of April and we count back 41 days we arrive at the date of 28th Feb /1st March, in the Gregorian year 4 BC . Or in the Hebrew calendar 1st/2nd of Shevet, in the Hebrew year 3757.

Interestingly, the pascal lamb was usually born around the beginning of March. This is when the shepherds would have been abiding in the fields watching over their flocks by night.
Jesus is the Pascal Lamb of God and the 1st of Shevet was the Passover.

There are those that would argue that this dating must be incorrect, based on the ministries of the Temple.

We are told in scripture that Zecharias went home after his ministerial duties of Abijah.
It is concluded that if Zacharias served in the ministration of 12th to 18th Sivan, which is June 13th to 19th and then he returned home. Then this was the time that Elisabeth conceived John the Baptist.

 

Luk 1:5  There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 
Abia = The priests of the course of Abijah.

Luk 1:8  And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, 

Luk 1:9  According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 

Luk 1:23  And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. 

Luk 1:24  And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, 
 

So if Elisabeth conceived in June, her 6th month of pregnancy would have been November.
When the conception of Mary was announced, Elisabeth was in her 6th month of pregnancy.


Luk 1:36  And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
 

So, if Jesus was conceived in November, His birth would have been around August.

However in fact there are two ministries of Abijah in the year.
This was the eighth of the priestly courses of ministration in the Temple
1Ch 24:10  The seventh to Hakkoz, the eighth to Abijah, and occurred, as did the others, twice in the year.

David organized the priests (and the Levites) into 24 courses (1Chronicles 24:1- 31). The first ministration was from
12th – 18th Chisleu = December 6th – 12th. 


The second ministration was from 12th -18th Sivan = June 13th – 19th.

Zechariah would have performed both.
The scripture does not say which Abijah it is referring to. So if it was the December 6th to 12th, then Elisabeth would have conceived in December, which would put her 6th month of pregnancy in June.
Therefore this would mean that Mary conceived Jesus in June and would have delivered in March. Which fits the timeline of the death of Herod.

7 Reasons why Jesus was born in March of 4 BC.

Bearing in mind:
 
1. Early March was when the temple lambs were born, (Jesus being the spotless Lamb of God).
2. The timing of Herod’s death, Late March, early April).
3. The lunar eclipse of March 4 BC. (Josephus account).
4. The completion of Mary’s cleansing, ( Her 41st day in the week prior to the Passover),
5. The timing of the ministration of Abijah by Zecharias, ( 12th—18th Chisleu),  (December 6th – 12th). 
6. John the Baptists conception, (December) and sixth month of  Elisabeth’s pregnancy, (June),
7. The conception of Jesus, (June).

It seems more likely that Jesus was born at the beginning of March in the Gregorian year of 4 BC.


                                   ..................................................

Just a word on the keeping of holidays.
Some may ask the question why Christians observe special days at all.
The Apostle Paul put it like this:
Romans 14:5 and 6
(5) One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.
(6) He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.


Whether we remember the birth of Christ or whether we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus. Everything we do should be as unto the Lord.

Remembering the birth of Jesus in December, September, March or April or today or tomorrow, do it unto the Lord and  give thanks to God.

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