The Facts Concerning Christmas-Part 1

This subject touches about everyone to one extent or another. There is so much material on this subject already, so this will not be an exhaustive study, but it will give you a “jumping off point” so that you can do a deeper study if you want. Make sure that you get your information correct when you present material to others, but it will also help you stay on the right track and to engage others with proper information. Just be sure that you don’t mow everyone down with what you learn. The first thing we need to look at is whether or not Yeshua was really born on December 25th. People will say “Nobody can really know when he was born” but can that be true? Let’s look at the facts concerning his birth. The Scriptures say that there were shepherds in the field the night he was born. But, if he was born in December there would not have been shepherds with their sheep in the fields because it was winter. We know that Joseph and Mary travelled to Bethlehem because there was a census. During the winter, there was a rainy season and travel was limited because the roads and wadis would be very hard to travel in. In Luke 1.5 we find that Zechariah was a priest and he was assigned to the course of Abijah. 1 Chr 24.10 says that David divided the priests into weekly courses and the course of Abijah was the eighth course to come to the Temple and serve for a week, starting on a Sabbath and ending on a Sabbath (2 Kings 11.5-7).  The religious year starts on Nisan 1 so that means Zechariah came to the Temple about the tenth week of the year. Why the tenth if he was the eighth course? Because all the priests had to be there for the week of Passover. Shavuot was 50 days later and all the priests had to be there for a week then also, so Zechariah and the course of Abijah was there about the tenth week, adding the weeks of Passover and Shavuot. This would put it in the month of Sivan, or our May-June. Zechariah returns home and his wife Elizabeth conceives according to the promise of the angel in Luke 1.11-25. When Elizabeth was 6 months pregnant, Mary conceives, and this would have been around December and the Feast of Chanukah. Chanukah was an eight day festival that was called the “second Sukkot” and both had to do with the dedication of the Temple. In our study “The Facts concerning Chanukah” this will be explained further. So, Yeshua was conceived around Chanukah and Mary stays with Elizabeth about three months, or until Passover, when John the Baptist was born. Six months from Nisan brings us up to the Feast of Sukkot and the time when Yeshua was born. Sukkot celebrates the coming Kingdom and it is called a season of joy and glad tidings. What better time to have the birth of the King of that Kingdom. Luke 2.1-7 goes on to say that there was a census ordered by the Roman government. The Romans didn’t want the work in the fields to stop so they gave the people about six months to come and register after their work was done. Joseph waits till fall and then goes to register. This was around the Feast of Sukkot when he had to come to Jerusalem for the feast anyway. Because of Sukkot, there was no room in the inn because of all the travelers. In Luke 2.8-10 we see many Sukkot themes such as “joy” because it is taught that the Messiah will come by Sukkot and we also see the “good news” or basar (gospel) as a theme also. In 2.12 we see that Yeshua is wrapped in swaddling clothes, which all babies were wrapped in (Ezek 16.4). Also, all the used undergarments of the priests were used as wicks for the giant lights that were lit in the Court of the Women during Sukkot. These were called swaddling clothes also. Now, we know he was laid in a manger which was a feeding trough for animals in a stable. The word for “sukkah”(what the people made and lived in during Sukkot) and “stable” are the same in Hebrew, so this wasn’t so unusual (Gen 33.17). The people were living in sukkahs and they had their animals in there also so the couple had a sukkah available to them for Yeshua’s birth. In Luke 2.13-16 it says that the shepherds went to Bethlehem to check out what they have been told. But, Yeshua was not born “in” Bethlehem but at a place called Migdal-Eder, which is a valley between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. (Micah 4.8). This was the field where shepherds tended the flock that were destined for sacrifice in the Temple, and it was there Yeshua was born, and appropriately so.These shepherds were probably kohanim (priests) who supervised the raising of these sheep. In the Mishnah Shekalim 7.4, it says that a sacrifice of sheep or cattle could be used if it was raised between Jerusalem and Migdal Eder, or within the like distance in any direction. Bethlehem-Ephratah (Micah 5.1) was near there also. In Matt 2.1 we read about “magi” coming from the east. This would have been Mesopotamia or Paddan-Aram and the area of Babylon where the largest Jewish population existed at the time due to three deportations by Babylon. Most never returned to Israel. The word “magi” is Greek and this can mean “magicians” or Jewish scholars or sages. Daniel is called one in Dan 2.13. In Matt 2.2 we read about a “star” and this is associated with a prophecy concerning the Messiah in N um 24.17. In the Targum Onkelos, the word “messiah” is substituted for “scepter” to give the people the idea this was talking about the Messiah. A star was associated with the Messiah so much that a false messiah came along in 132-135 AD and led a Jewish revolt against Rome. He was called “Bar Kochba” which means “son of the star.”  This “star” can mean “kivod” or the glory and radiance of God. We know from all these happenings that King Herod was very troubled. And if Herod was troubled, so was everyone else because he was a very evil King (Matt 2.3). In 2.4 it says that they hadn’t heard about all the angels, shepherds and the commotion going on all around Bethlehem. This means the birth had just happened because Herod had spies everywhere and they haven’t reported to him about anything. The star was a miracle of God. Many have tried to go back and look at meteors or planet conjunctions to try and place the birth of Yeshua around the time of these heavenly occurrences, but that is a waste of time. God performed a miracle and this will never be traced to a conjunction of planets or any such thing. This “star” moved and Herod didn’t even see it  because he had to ask the magi when it appeared (Matt 2.7).  The magi leave, being warned about Herod and his parents fled to Egypt about the same time. Herod orders the death of every 2 year old male in Bethlehem. In Israel, you were considered 1 at birth, so he wanted to make sure he got all of them. Herod dies within 40 days of Yeshua’s birth because Mary and Joseph have returned from Egypt after hearing of his death and appear in the Temple when Yeshua was 40 days old  according to the rites of purification for his mother (Lev 12.1-8; Luke 2.22-38). So, Yeshua was probably born during the feast of Sukkot in the fall. You can’t support a December 25th birthdate and we are able to ascertain this from the climate, the time of John’s conception, the time of Yeshua’s conception and how they coincide with the themes of the festivals of Passover and Sukkot.  We know from all of this that Yeshua was born in the fall, probably around the Feast of Sukkot. If Yeshua was born in the fall, around the Feast of Sukkot, where did Christmas and December 25th come from? We will pick up there in Part 2 and begin to unravel the facts concerning Christmas.

Posted in Articles, Prophecy/Eschatology, Understanding the New Testament

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *