Luke 2.8-9 says, “And in the same region (Bethlehem) there were shepherds staying in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory (kivod) of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.” We are told where these shepherds were working in the Jewish writings. In the Mishnah, Shekalim 7.4 it says, “If cattle (includes sheep) are found between Jerusalem as as far as Migdal Eder (“tower of the Flock” near Bethlehem), or within the like distance in any direction, males must be deemed to be Whole-offerings (Olah) and females Peace-offerings (Shelemim). R. Judah says:If fitted to be Passover-offerings, they must be deemed to be Passover-offerings (if they are found during thirty days before the feast.” In other words, if you drew a line from the Temple to Migdal Eder, then went in a circle around Jerusalem, the sheep for the Temple could be raised anywhere in that circumference. These shepherds worked the valley that comes to the edge of Bethlehem called Migdal Eder. If you go to Bethlehem today, they will show you the “Shepherd’s Field” but that is not the right place.
Migdal Eder means “tower of the flock” and that is because there were watch towers for the shepherds to watch over the flock. That is what our verse says in Luke. Micah 4.8 says, “And as for you, tower of the flock (Migdal Eder), hill of the daughters of Zion (in the vicinity of), to you (Migdal Eder) it (the Kingdom of God) will come-even the former dominion (in Eden) will come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.” Matt 11.12-14 says, “And from the days of John the Baptist (Yochanon ha Matvil) until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence (breaking forth because John is the breachmaker of Micah 2.12-13, opening the way for the sheep) and violent men take it by forth (literally means “every person in it is breaking forth”). For all the prophets (nevi’im) and in the Law (Torah) prophesied about (or concerning) John. And if you care to accept it (“it” is the kingdom that is breaking forth, it was being offered), he himself (John) is Elijah, who was to come (before the Messiah and the kingdom-see “Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus” by Roy Blizzard and David Bivin, p 86).”
This site is where Jacob camped after he buried Rachel (Gen 36.16-22). These shepherds worked for the Temple and were probably Levites. All the sheep around a perimeter around Jerusalem were raised for the Temple by Levites. These sheep were dedicated to the Temple. Luke 2.10 says that the shepherds were told by the angels that they came to bring them “good news of great joy which shall be for all the people (nations)” and this is a major theme of Sukkot, as we have already seen in Isa 9. 70 bulls are offered at Sukkot, symbolizing the nations over 7 days. the number 70 stands for the nations in biblical thought. The angels said that this was a sign for them, that the child would be wrapped in swaddling clothes (Luke 2.11-14). During Sukkot, there were four great lights in the Court of the Women called the “light of the world.” The wicks used for those lights are the discarded swaddling clothes of the priests. So Yeshua, the “light of the world” was wrapped in swaddling clothes at Sukkot, just like in the Temple. According to the angels in Luke 2.12, it says that they will find Yeshua lying in a manger, and the word for manger is “phatne” in Greek and it means a “stall” or stable. The Hebrew word is “sukkah” which is what the people made to live in during Sukkot.
So, after the angelic choir sang (2.13-14), the shepherds “made haste” (they ran) to where Yeshua was and then began to tell everyone about what happened (2.17-18). It was far from a “silent night.” Now the distance from Migdal Eder to Jerusalem is 4 miles. He was circumcised on the eight day (possibly the eighth day of Sukkot called Shemini Atzeret), then at the end of 40 days Miriam went to the Temple for her purification after having a boy (restoring her ritual purity so she can enter the Temple) according to the Torah in Lev 12.1-8, and she offered korbanot. In Luke 2.25-38 we read that his birth was no secret. Simeon and Anna knew and they told others (2.38).
Now, King Herod was a ruthless man. There was a saying by Caesar Augustus (Octavian, the guy who took over after Julius Caesar and defeated Cleopatra and Marc Antony) that said “It was better to be a pig in the House of Herod than to be one of bis children.” Herod would kill his own family members to maintain his power. Now, Herod had spies everywhere, and keep this in mind as we move forward.
In Matt 2.1, it says, “Now after Yeshua was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem saying.” The “east” is Babylon and the word “magi” means “wise men” or in Hebrew “chachamim.” This is what Jewish rabbi’s and scholars were called. Daniel is called a “chacham” in Dan 2.12-13. These were Jewish sages looking for the Messiah. In Matt 2.2-3 it says that Herod was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him after the inquiry of the chachamim (sages) as to where the “king of the Jews” was born. Herod didn’t know anything about it, and Jerusalem was troubled because they knew what he was like. We learn from Matt 2.4-12 that with all the spies Herod had, he doesn’t know what’s going on, even though the shepherds were running around telling everybody. The chief priests and the scribes (who were the authorized interpreters of Torah) were asked where the Messiah was to be born. The chachamim go and they find Yeshua, offer him gifts and later that night are warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so they go back to Babylon a different way. Joseph and Miriam are also warned in a dream that night to take the child to Egypt. Herod realizes that he had been tricked by the chachamim, and then orders that all children 2 years old and younger in Bethlehem should be killed.
In Israel, you were considered one year old on the eighth day after your birth, so he is meaning every child one year old and younger. You see, life began at conception and that is why they considered you one at birth. Now, we read about a “star” in Matt 2.2, but this was o ordinary star. This was a manifestation of the kivod of God, a miracle. It is not a configuration of planets as some believe because this “star” moved and led the chachamim to Yeshua. Herod didn’t know anything about it because he had to ask (2.7). Matt says that Yeshua was in a house when they came, and Luke says it was a sukkah. That is because he was obviously moved after he was born while the chachamim were still in Jerusalem and the shepherds were getting the revelation from the angels that he was born.
We are told in the footnotes in the Whiston edition of Josephus in Antiquities, Book 18, Chapter 4, Paragraph 6, that Herod died in September, 4 BC. It says, “This calculation is exactly right; for since Herod died about September, in the fourth year before the Christian era, and Tiberius began, as is well known, August 19 AD 14, it is evident that the 37th year of Phillip, reckoned from his fathers death, was the 20th of Tiberius, or near the end of AD 33” and it goes on. So, the chachamim leave, and Joseph and Miriam flee to Egypt the night he was born. They will remain in Egypt until they are told in a dream that Herod was dead. They will be going back to Nazareth, but stop in Jerusalem at the Temple for Miriam’s purification ceremony. Yeshua may have been born on the 15th day of Tishri, the first day of Sukkot. He then would have been circumcised on the eighth day of Sukkot called Shemini Atzeret.
We have already seen in previous teachings that Isa 9.2-7 is set at Sukkot. We have the terms “light’ and “joy” used, and Sukkot is the Festival of Lights. The Kidron Valley near Jerusalem will see this light, and the nation will be multiplied and their gladness (joy) will be increased and the joy of harvest is mentioned, all Sukkot terms and themes. It goes on to say how the rod of their oppressor will be broken. The “rod” is Assyria who was attacking in Isa 9.4 (Micah 4.6; Micah 5.1) and there is a massive teaching associated with this. Isa 9.6-7 goes on to say how a “child will be born to us.” The redemption started with Yeshua, where the “program” really got going and the end result will be that Israel will turn to the Messiah and the Torah when Gog and Magog are defeated (Ezek 39.22; Isa 10.12,20).
In Part 41, we will pick up here and continue studying the concept that Yeshua was born at the festival of Sukkot.