Earlier we made a point about why Gabriel apparently sent Miriam to the house of Zechariah. There may have been a very good reason. We know the prophecy in Isa 7.14 says that an “almah” will give birth to a son. In Miriam’s case, it means a “virgin.” But how can a young woman establish the fact that she is virgin? Secondly, who does she need to prove this to? Well, in the Torah there is a way to prove that she is is virgin, and that is found in Num 5.11-31 in a ceremony called the Sotah (jealousy). We know that immediately after she is told by the angel she will conceive, she goes to her relative Elisheva, but why? Is it possible that she will submit herself to the ceremony of the Sotah? We know that Joseph thought she was unfaithful (Matt 1.18-19) and didn’t believe her story at first. The Sotah ceremony is very humiliating, but if she went through it in the Temple it would prove she was a virgin, yet pregnant.
There are a set of writings called the Pseudo-pigrapha. These are books with the names of biblical characters but not really written by them. In the “Book of James” it says that Miriam went to Zechariah’s house to do the Sotah in the Temple. This story has inaccuracies, but this idea of Miriam submitting to the Sotah ceremony was known.
Who would she go through this ceremony in the Temple for? It wouldn’t be for Joseph. He doubted at first, but he had a dream and was told not to worry (Matt 1.20). She went through the Sotah for us. It would have been recorded in the Temple and there would have been plenty of witnesses to attest to the fact that she did not suffer any of the calamities that would have befallen a women who stood before the Lord and denied her unfaithfulness when she was actually guilty. In the time of Yeshua, everyone would have assumed that the child was Joseph’s. This would mean that Yeshua had a birthright to the throne if there was no curse of Coniah. Joseph was the rightful heir to the throne. However, there is the curse of Coniah, so Yeshua was not directly from the line of Solomon to Joseph, he was through Nathan to Miriam. So, the ceremony of the Sotah found in Num 5.11-31 could have established the fact that she was a virgin, yet pregnant.
Now, we want to establish the the time of Yeshua’s birth. From the time of creation to the birth of Yeshua, there was approximately 4000 years, within the overall 7000 year plan of God in Jewish eschatology. Creation week in Gen 1 is the blueprint (Psa 90.4; 2 Pet 2.8-10). The seventh day of this 7000 years is called the “Day of the Lord” like the seventh day weekly Sabbath. We will also be able to establish when during the calendar year he was born. Luke 2.1-3 says that there was a census taken by Caesar Augustus, and in the Greek it says that this census was “before” the census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
In John 1.19 through 2.1 we have a picture of the 7000 years. John 1.19-28 is the first day. John 1.29-34 is the second day. John 1.35-42 is the third day and John 1.43-51 is the fourth day. Yeshua wanted to go to Galilee, and Galilee is an idiom for heaven. It means “circle” (eternal) and so what we have is this. Yeshua comes after 4000 years, and here in John it is the fourth day. Phillip says “We have found him…Yeshua of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” and he uses a messianic title for the Messiah (Messiah Ben Joseph has been discussed earlier). He was not referring to his step-father Joseph but to the Messiah Ben Joseph that was to come, followed by Messiah Ben David. Phillip didn’t know who Yeshua’s earthly father was anyway, he just met him. In v 48 Yeshua says Nathanael had “no guile” which means he was a righteous man by faith who would someday be resurrected. When Yeshua says he saw him “under the fig tree” he was using an idiom for the Messianic Kingdom (Mic 4.1-4; 1 Kings 4.25). He was saying “I see you in the future.” Nathanael then says to Yeshua that he was the “Son of God and you are the King of Israel.” These are merging titles for the Messiah and a Hebrew parallelism.
We don’t have another day mentioned until John 2.1-3 where we find out it was the “third day” after the previous four just mentioned. Yeshua turns the water into wine at a wedding and then in verse 11 it says that this was the beginning of signs. Now, we have a picture from John 1.19 to John 2.11. We have four days (4000 years) and Yeshua comes as the Messiah. He goes away for two days (2000 years-Hos 6.1-3) and then on the third day (which is the seventh day or 7000th year) there is a wedding, in Galilee, a type of heaven.
Now, at the beginning of his ministry it is recorded in most English Bibles that Yeshua was called “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1.29).” But, this statement does not make sense. During Yom Kippur there is a ceremony where a goat carried the sins of the people, but that is the Azazel goat which is clearly a picture of Satan and the false messiah. Yochanon said this during the season of Yom Kippur becuae Yeshua’s ministry was 3 and a half years, so it had to begin around Yom Kippur. If Yochanon’s statement was referencing this Yom Kippur ceremony of the Azazel it should have been “Goat of God that takes away the sins of the world.” People would have told John he made a mistake if he said “Lamb of God” because “Lamb” is not used in this context.
Hebrew was the spoken language in the first century, however, there are many “loan” words from Aramaic ever since the time of Daniel. This concept is not unusual in any language. English has many loan words from another language. A classic example of this is our passages from John 1.29-36. The explanation for this verse can be found in the works of C.F. Burney in a work called “The Aramaic Origin of the Fourth Gospel”, 1922, Pg 107f and another work by Oscar Cullman called “The Christology of the New Testament” by Westminster Press, 1959, p 71. Both have shown that the Aramaic phrase “telay de’alahah” means both “lamb of God and servant of God” and this lies behind the Greek expression “lamb of God.” Remember, the Scriptures, including the New Testament, was written in Hebrew, There are Aramaic loan words and phrases and when these are translated into Greek some of the original meanings get lost. Then, when you take Greek and put it into the languages of the nations, including English, you can have problems
This is significant because this shows Yeshua as coming to fulfill the “Servant” passages found in Isaiah chapters 40 through 55 and supports Yeshua’s ministry as he turns 30 years old at the time of fall festivals. The Messiah Ben Joseph was identified with these same servant passages in Isaiah. The passages in Isaiah of the Suffering Servant applies to the concept of the Messiah Ben Joseph. We know that Yeshua’s time of ministry was three and a half years. We know that it ends in Nisan, at Passover. So, we know he was “about thirty years of age” when he began his ministry (Luke 3.23), so that means it would have had to begin in Tishri, at the time of the fall festivals of Rosh ha Shannah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot (when he turned 30).
In Part 48, we will pick up here and begin to look at more evidence that shows us that Yeshua was born at the festival of Sukkot.