When was Mĕssiah Born?

When was Mĕssiah Born?

logoOnce upon a time there were two kingdoms. Each had a king. The king of goodland. The king of rightland. The war started when the king of goodland desired to add part of rightland to his kingdom. To do so he moved the border markers. Some people in the borderland remembered they had been subjects of rightland, but the tax collectors told them they were goodlanders. In rightland there were no taxes. The king of rightland did not need to collect taxes. He was already rich. So the people in the borderland were confused. Some decided they were goodlanders and paid taxes, and the tax collector gave them a free hat after they paid their tax, to show the tax had been paid. Others remembered they were rightlanders and refused to pay them.

The taxes became burdensome, and the people who paid them had to slave away at work. They cried out to the king of goodland. He said, you are my subjects now. You pay taxes to me or I will beat you. One of the ex-rightlanders said, my neighbor does not pay the tax. Why doesn't he have to pay taxes? The king of goodland said, your neighbor is a heretic, but we will fix him.

By and by the ex-rightlander went and asked his rightland neighbor how he could get away with not paying taxes to the king of goodland. The neighbor answered. What is the color of my hat? He answered blue. Well said the neighbor. The king of rightland has said to all his subjects in this borderland that they can show their loyalty to rightland by wearing a blue hat. And if you wear a blue hat, then the king of rightland will protect you from the tax collectors of goodland. (Actually, the king of goodland did not have the nerve to go so far as to disturb anyone wearing a blue hat other than to rididucle them).

Now the ex-rightlander was wearing a black hat, because the servants of goodland gave them away for free when the tax was paid. He didn't know that wearing a blue had meant loyalty to the king of rightland, and that wearing a black one meant loyalty to goodland, nor was he aware of the covenant that the king of rightland had made with his dislocated subjects.

The ex-rightlander said to the rightlander, why can’t I just believe in my heart that I am a rightlander? Why do I have to wear that silly hat. (For the servants of goodland had taught most of the people to laugh at anyone wearing a blue hat.) The rightlander wisely answered, because the king of rightland wants an objective sign showing loyalty to him, and not something invisible.

There was an ancient religion in Canaan, which worshiped a goddess, whose name was A̕shērah. This goddess was called the mother of the gods. Her title in Ugarit was “the lady who walks on the sea.” She was the mother of another god called Baal. The custom was to build an altar to Baal, and then to plant poles in the earth around the altar called after the name of the goddess. They called them A̕shērah poles. “Then they set for themselves Ba‘al Beri̱t for a god” (Judges 8:33). Ba‘al means “lord” and Beri̱t means “covenant,” thus a literal translation is “lord of the covenant.” Following this custom was the black hat that was a sign of loyalty to the goddess.

Now of course, there were those who practiced this custom on the one hand, and believed on the other in their heart that they were being loyal to Yăhwēh. Eventually, because they neglected the truth too much, they ended up trying to worship the Gŏd of heaven and the gods of those other customs at the same time. Here is what Yăhwēh says about that:

“And I will have stretched out my hand over Yehūdah, and over all the dwellers of Yerūshalayim. And I will have cut off from this place the remnant of Ba‘al, the name of the idolatrous priests† with the priests, and those making themselves to be bowed down upon the roof tops to the host of the heavens, and those making themselves to be bowed down, who swear themselves to Yăhwēh, and swear themselves by ¹Milcōm, and those being turned back from following after Yăhwēh, and who have not made to be sought Yăhwēh, and have not inquired of him” (Zephaniah 1:4-6).

There are many who want to practice the signs of one religion in the real world, and believe in the hidden world of their heart that they are following the true Gŏd. What one does is objective, and by one’s actions is shown loyalty to the truth, and the true Almĭghty. God takes a dim view of those who practice the signs of the enemy kingdom, and then swear loyalty to him, and an even dimmer view of those who really do practice both religions and know it.

They have not inquired of him. They did not seek the truth with diligence. This is the whole root of the problem, or most of it. There are some who seek without finding. That happens when the error is too deep. The lack of seeking is evident in our State. There are many places in our area where there is a shrine to Mary in a yard. We call her “Our lady of the bathtub,” because a bathtub shaped cloister is used to shelter the statue. And then in those same houses there may be pictures of the goddess or small statues, or a manger scene with the mother. However, the arrangement, planted (or erected) not to far away is a decorated tree. Also, according to their tradition, Mary is the “mother of god.” Indeed, the whole arrangement is strangely similar to the ancient version of the Baal religion.

Those less Catholic say, Oh we don’t believe those doctrines about the mother of god, and the co-mediator, or co-redemtrix. We believe in the true Gŏd in our hearts. Yet they go on year after year imitating the customs. How do they know they have not put on the black hat of loyalty to the enemy? Really there is only one way to get a better answer to this question. And that is to inquire after Yăhwēh.

Let me say, however, that the Christian practice of Christmas is not quite the idolatry of the religion of A̕shērah and Ba‘al. It has some similarities, but there is no false goddess in it (that is unless its drifts into Mary worship or similar Catholic customs), and no false god Ba‘al (unless one ends up with icons and crucifixes). All that Christians do then is in the name of Mĕssiah, and not in the name of the old paganism. At some points where Mary worship or Saint Worship is involved, we can say that is idolatry, i.e. where images are used or prayers are offered to saints. In a good deal of Protestantism, the old paganism has been shoved underground by the Church, and its influence is mainly felt in left over customs that are reminiscent of the the old idolatry. There are different degrees of congruence with the old idolatry. The Church of Rome represents the closest, but even this had been tempered and muted by the fact that they have to be careful not to offend the Scripture too badly or else their pretense of being a true Church will be exposed for the fraud it is. Its all really foggy, and I suggest that those dabbling in such customs do some seeking.

Gŏd of course is not pleased with lies and customs that were at one time used to honor false gods, but such customs are not idolatry in themselves except where an idol is really involved or that the worshipers next to them really are honoring a false god. There is a difference. Gŏd, of course, is not pleased with manners and customs used to worship other gods being used to honor him, and he commands us to depart from such customs (Deut. 12:30-31). The reason for this is that Gŏd does not like a grey area between truth and error. He wants loyalty to him to be clear and not ambiguous. He will indeed judge by the heart, but it is much easier for the heart to go astray in a grey area!

“When Yăhwēh your Almĭghty shall cut off the nations where you are entering to dispossess them from before your faces, and you have dispossessed them, and you have dwelt in their land, watch yourself, lest you are entrapped after them, after their being destroyed for before your faces, and lest you should seek concerning their gods, saying, “How do the nations serve these, their gods. And let me do likewise, even I. You shall not do likewise for Yăhwēh your Almĭghty, because every abomination which Yăhwēh has hated, they have done for their gods, because even their sons, and their daughters they burn in the fire to their gods. Every word which I make to be commanded you, it you will keep to do. You may not add upon it, and you may not diminish from it” (Deut. 12:29-31).

Now if we understand the good news, then we will understand that dabbling in such customs is a matter of immaturity and ignorance of Gŏd’s will. And such immature Christians should not be condemned as idolaters. And that is exactly what I see the false messianics doing. They are bashing Christmas with an aim to condemn it as idolatry, when by and large, the Protestant practice of Christmas is not idolatry. It simply contains customs that are reminders of the old idolatry, and the traditional maintenance of these customs is fortified with lies believed by the immature. Many of these false messianics also teach a false good news, and this is why they are willing and so ready to bash Christmas as idolatry, and then by doing so they have created an unnecessary and unrighteous point of division among Gŏd’s people. I am a stick in the mud for the truth. Christmas must be critiqued for its falsehoods and its imitation of pagan customs, and Christians informed of the truth, and the danger of it as warned in Deuteronomy. But a lie must not be added to a lie. Those who practice it must not be condemned as idolaters, as being of another faith, or false religion, unless they actually have gone over the line, as is evident with Mary worship and saint worship. Wherever Messianics fail to make this distinction, they are causing unnecessary division, or worse reflecting on themselves that they do not understand the good news, and therefore by pointing out the errors of Christmas in the manner they do, they are also stopping up the ears of the immature (who know the good news) from listening to the mature truth, and from really guarding themselves by forsaking these customs, just as Deuteronomy encourages us to do.

We should also keep in mind that many pseudo-messianics say they follow Torah on the one hand, and attack Christmas on the other, in the condemnatory way I have described. These same false messianics who say they embrace Mĕssiah also deny that he is Yăhwēh. And if you are not careful, you can listen to a good deal of their stuff before you find out what they really believe. Well denying the Sŏn is idolatry, or atheism, or worse, because their version of the messiah is not the true Gŏd. Their yeshuah is another yeshuah who is not the true Yĕshūa̒. Believe me, failure to identify who Mĕssiah really is, is as bad as worshiping a false god. But a lot of people are fooled into accepting these people because they seem to have everything right except one thing: their messiah is not the Almĭghty One! The devil delights in perversions and frauds, and he does not care which department he promotes them in.

Neither is the position of some so called Messianics justified who tell Christians that they will not celebrate Christmas because it is not the Jewish thing, and then also tell them that it is perfectly o.k. with Gŏd to celebrate Christmas. That is not sound doctrine. It is doctrine meant to placate the immature and keep them immature, and to keep them away from the blessings of knowing the truth. It is doctrine they justify by reacting against other so called Messianics who condemn Christmas as idolatry. This liberal stance may keep the good news in focus, but it encourages weakness in the faith and the tolerance of lies and unwholesome traditions.

Eventually the difference between who is loyal to Gŏd and who is not boils down to one very simple thing. Who held onto the truth they had, and sought more, and who knew the truth, and ignored it, did nothing about it, or worse rejected it. The Protestant Reformation was was a very timid step back from the excesses of the Church of Rome. And now here more than 500 years later, Protestants have had 500 years to correct the rest of their problems. That’s 500 years of grace given. But the grace is running short because Protestants are now turning to Emergent Church heresies and thereby falling out of the little grace they had. Its time to move on and to finish the Reformation.

Gŏd’s signs are always true signs, and there is no lie in them. I think this would be a pretty good test. Which custom is true, and which custom is based on a lie. Which test of loyalty is based on a lie, and which test of loyalty is based on the truth. The rightlanders who wore the black hats were really rightlanders, but the black that signified loyalty to goodland. It was in fact a lie that they were subjects of goodland. The king of goodland had stolen the borderland of the king of rightland. The Scripture says, “But an hour comes, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Făther in spirit and truth. And indeed, such the Făther seeks from those worshiping him” (John 4:23).

So is anyone ready to inquire? It is written that, “Gŏd’s people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6; Isa. 5:13). The Scripture does not say anything about celebrating Mĕssiah’s birth with a tree, or on December 25th, or with many other customs that are added to that day. And the Scripture has outlined the times and seasons by which we can show our loyalty to the true Gŏd (see Lev. 23). If it should turn out that Mĕssiah was logically born at one of these other times, then it would be pretty evident that December 25th and its tree is a counterfeit designed to distract us from the truth.

On which side is the truth?

So lets go to that passage that Christians are never told about in terms of Mĕssiah’s birth, Rev. 12:1-2: “And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.” If the matter were any plainer than this, then the Holy Office of the Inquisition would still be burning bibles, and there would be no Protestants to protest it. Another type of Bible burning has come into style: misinterpretation and blindness. Or simply lack of knowledge of what words mean from failure to inquire what they mean.

A sign is a sign. It is something that can be seen. A sign marks a time or season or location. A sign points the right way. It should also be evident which heaven is meant by “in heaven,” because the sun and moon are there. We should know that Miryam was a virgin when she gave birth to Mĕssiah (Isa. 7:14). So where is the woman, who is in heaven, who is a virgin? It would have to be the constellation of the virgin, known in Latin as Virgo, and in Hebrew as Bethūlah. And this constellation has always been located in the same place, and drawn with the same stars. What most people do not know, is that the sun moves in front of this constellation once every year. Currently the sun comes into Virgo about Sept. 15 and leaves about Nov 1. Two thousand years ago, the sun entered Virgo about August 19 and left about October 8. It says “A woman clothed with the sun.” So we have to expect the sun somewhere between the neck and the knees. And the sun is only in this constellation about 45 days each year in the fall.

Is it clear now that this never happens on December 25th? The sun is no where near virgo. By then it has moved to between Sagittarius and Capricornus, having already passed Libra and Scorpius on its way from Virgo. We also have to take the moon into account, which will allow us to use this astronomical alignment for a more precise dating.

The text says that the moon was under the feet of the woman. It should be understood that “her feet” (רַגלֶיהָ) in Hebrew also means “her legs,” just as “hand” in Hebrew also includes the arm. You have to know Hebrew to know this. There is another Hebrew word that means either the palm of the hand or the sole of the foot. Likewise a Hebrew word that can mean either the big toe or the thumb. Since the moon is so very near the sun, as to be in the same constellation as it, it is clear that the time is near that of the new moon.

Day Before New Moon
screen_shot_stellariumAug 30, 2 BC, 15h:45m

On Aug 30, 2 BC the the situation was as follows. Observe that the moon is still below the left arm of Virgo, and also directly beneath the upper thigh or waist. This screen shot was taken from Stellarium 0.12.4, from the location of Jerusalem, which is only 5 miles from Bethlehem. The five miles makes no difference in what one would have seen on this night. At this position the moon is still invisible to the naked eye, and the moon still is not under a position that qualifies being “under the feet/legs.” Thus this date would be the last day of the old month. Also notice that the sun is located at the shoulder of the constellation. The picture has been plotted with the earth’s atmosphere off. If the atmosphere is turned on, then the sun will flood the whole constellation with light. Now lets plot the next night, August 31st, 2 BC.

Rev. 12:1-2 New Moon
screen_shot_stellarium2Aug 31, 2 BC, 15h:47m

Notice now that the moon has moved past the bright star Spica, and is at the tip of the grain (seed) in the left hand of Virgo. Virgo holds a branch in the right hand. The branch symbolizes Mĕssiah, and also the seed grain symbolizes him. He is the promised seed. He is the man, the Branch, prophesied in Zechariah. I have put up the angle measure tool to show that 23 degrees separate the sun and moon. this means that the moon will be visible with the naked eye, just after the sun sets below the horizon. The seascape I have provided can be imagined as being the Mediterranean Sea. The sun is going down, and the moon is about to appear, signaling that the first day of the month is about to begin. The moon now clearly qualifies as being under the feet and legs. In fact, taking “under” as a directly vertical direction the moon lies almost directly under the heel of the right foot of Virgo. I have not plotted the plot for Sept 1, 2 B.C. at sunset, but I will report that the moon completely misses the feet lying south of 250 degrees almost at the beginning of Libra. What this means is that there is one and only one day in 2 B.C. for which the Astrocryptogram can be solved. And this is the new moon day of the 7th biblical month. I call it an Astrocryptogram. Astro is for Astronomical, and a cryptogram is a puzzle or code whose solution is not apparent as first sight to the ordinary person. It is only apparent to those knowing the language and rules of astronomy. The increase in knowledge in the 20th and 21st century has enabled us to explain and demonstrate the matter much more clearly.

Failure to Align
screen_shot_stellarium2Sept. 11, 3 BC, 15h:40m

In the year 3 BC, the visible moon is a complete miss for lining up under the legs (i.e. on 9/11/3 BC at sunset). I will now show this in the next screen shot, which is placed at the left here. I've drawn a vertical line through the moon with the angle tool to show that it does not fall under the feet or the legs. 3 BC was Ernest Martin’s choice for the birth year in his now famous book The Star that Astonished the World, or the later edition, The Birth of Christ Recalculated. In that book he presented the constellation of Virgo as standing up, and the art drawn so that it would appear that the moon was under the feet. But this is not how the new moon would have been viewed from earth, in relation to the constellation.

Failure to Align
screen_shot_stellarium2Sept. 22, 4 BC, 15h:14m

The situation for 4 BC is even worse. On Sept 22, 4 BC, the situation was as depicted here. The new moon does not appear under the feet. In fact the moon is seen in the constellation of Libra! Arguably, the sun is now under the feet. 4 BC was the traditional year for the birth, and Herod’s death, based on a faulty interpretation of an eclipse mentioned in Josephus. It turns out that there was another eclipse, much more complete in January 1 BC, which fits with the 2 BC birth in the fall. It also has turned out that the hand written copies of Josephus were misprinted when they were typeset in the 15th century, so that the reign of Herod Philip was put incorrectly. As a result, scholars were misled. But they would never have been misled if they had read Revelation 12:1-2, and then had taken it seriously.

The lie is verily well exposed now. The Revelation Astrocryptogram can only be solved for the true birth date of Messiah, taking place shortly after the new moon on August 31st, 2 BC. How long after depends on the duration of the labor pains, which we are not told. But it appears reasonable to think that it was before sunset on 9/1, such that the birth was on the same day as the new moon feast. At all events the birth was not on December 25th or even in the season of winter.

We have seen that the book of Revelation preempted the introduction of Christmas. When the plain sense of the text is worked out, the sign in heaven, the sun in the virgin, and the moon under her feet, and modern astronomical knowledge is put to use, then it is clear that the birth of Mĕssiah Yĕshūa̒ was in the fall. Not only that, but the Astrocryptogram works out on only one evening, namely August 31st, 2 BC. I did not mention it above, but the solution cannot be worked out for 1 BC, where the moon is again in Libra. The solution works for 1 AD, 2 BC, and 5 BC (all in the fall).

The 2 BC date is clearly the correct one on the basis of Luke 3:1, and 3:23. John began his ministry in the 15th year of Tiberius. Evangelical scholars agree the years of Tiberius are counted from AD 14. And indeed, this was the only way ancient Roman Historians counted them. Evangelical Scholars also agree that the year of his baptism was AD 29. This is fairly simple (AD 14 + 15 years = AD 29). Also agreed upon is that the first Passover of Mĕssiah’s ministry was AD 30. This means his baptism was in the fall of AD 29. As we have seen Mĕssiah’s birthday was in the fall. Further, Luke the accurate and honest historian cannot mean that Mĕssiah was less than 29.5 or more than 30.5 years when he said his age was “about 30” (Luke 3:23). The 5 BC date would require the actual figure to be 33, and the 1 AD date would require it to be 28. We cannot imagine that Luke, after all his interviews (cf. Luke 1:1-4), including intimate reporting of dialog between Miryam and Elizabeth, that Luke would put the figure 30 when the actual age was 28 or 33. We also see that the 2 BC birth date puts Yĕshūa̒’s 30th birthday exactly in the fall of AD 29. And taking the Greek more accurately, Luke appears to have meant “almost 30,” which is a normal and natural way of speaking. Also to be noted is that John was a priest, and priests were ordained at age 30. John was born 6 months prior to Yĕshūa̒, and therefore John came of priestly age at 30, and was ordained at 30. And Luke 1:80, it says, “and he was in the wilderness until the day of his ordination.” The Greek word used here is ἀναδείξεως. It means a commissioning or installation. See ordination in the EHSV Lexicon for the Hebrew equivalent. For those scholars thinking that Yĕshūa̒ was something other than between 29.5 and 30.5 we may say that they are implying that Luke did not know how old Yĕshūa̒ was at all. But if Luke was thinking to say anything about it at all, an honest historian would have asked his source, or he would have left it out altogether if he had not been informed, rather than to write 30 and be wrong by 3 years one way and 2 the other.

So all other solutions lead to the conclusion that Luke was an incompetent historian and should not be considered scripture, or that basic astronomy is unreliable, or that Revelation is not scripture. None of these solutions are acceptable, so it may be maintained with confidence that Yĕshūa̒ was born in the fall of 2 BC.

5 BC --alignment
2 BC --aligmnment          Birth in fall
1 BC   MISS               *Messiah age 0
1 AD --alignment           Messiah age 1
2 AD                       Messiah age 2
3 AD                       Messiah age 3
4 AD                       Messiah age 4
5 AD                       Messiah age 5
6 AD                       Messiah age 6
7 AD                       Messiah age 7
8 AD                       Messiah age 8
9 AD                       Messiah age 9
10 AD                      Messiah age 10
11 AD                      Messiah age 11
12 AD                      Messiah age 12
13 AD                      Messiah age 13
14 AD                      Messiah age 14
15 AD     *Tiberius 1      Messiah age 15
16 AD      Tiberius 2      Messiah age 16
17 AD      Tiberius 3      Messiah age 17
18 AD      Tiberius 4      Messiah age 18
19 AD      Tiberius 5      Messiah age 19
20 AD      Tiberius 6      Messiah age 20
21 AD      Tiberius 7      Messiah age 21
22 AD      Tiberius 8      Messiah age 22
23 AD      Tiberius 9      Messiah age 23
24 AD      Tiberius 10     Messiah age 24
25 AD      Tiberius 11     Messiah age 25
26 AD      Tiberius 12     Messiah age 26
27 AD      Tiberius 13     Messiah age 27
28 AD      Tiberius 14     Messiah age 28
29 AD      Tiberius 15     Messiah age 29  Fall of AD 29, Messiah turns 30.

*Each year begins in the fall of the previous BC/AD year.

logoThe precise alignments are charted in the Scroll of Biblical Chronology. The chronology charts the entire history of the world in a continuous set of charts from creation to prophetic scenarios. There are an equal number of pages of commentary to the charts. The first column is BC/AD. The second is the year of the world. The third charts Sabbatical periods. I encourage the reader to take advantage of this resource, and the other fine articles at torahtimes. The main page can be reached here: Main Page.

Screenshot from the Ebook
3 BC to AD 2

Detailing the Year of the Birth

The beginning of the Year
screen_shot_stellarium2March 22, 2 BC, 15h:47m

This screen shot shows the observational spring equinox for 2 BC. The sun is seen setting due west (270 degrees) on March 22. The atmosphere is on, so that refraction is included. Also the proper delta T (calibrated by ancient eclipses) has been included and calculated. The line of west goes through the center of the sun. The sun passes west moving north (a bit to the right of west here) as it continues to set. This means that March 22nd that year was the date of the observational equinox. The observational method was the most ancient and easiest to use. What one did was set an observational point, and then due west of that point a stone or marker was set up. When the sun set over it, then the year was determined to begin. Over the course of days the sun moves to the summer solstice, and then to the fall equinox, and then to the winter solstice, and then returns to the point in this shot to begin a new year. The scriptural month varies between 29 and 30 days. Likewise the Scriptural year varies between 365 and 366 days. The sun returns after 365 (or 366 days) to the same point on the horizon year after year. This return of the sun to the same setting point was used by the ancients to measure the the year. They only needed to keep track of where the sun set on the horizon, and to mark the points with markers, to know when the turning points of the year would occur.

This method of determining a year is fundamentally simple. It requires no advanced mathematics. Only basic counting is required, and some simple geometry to figure out which direction is west. West may be determined by marking the locations of sunrise and sunset, and dividing the angle thereof to determine the north south line. Then a perpendicular is determined to north-south for the east-west line.

The ancient methods used by the Jews took the equinox into account. The Hebrew word for it is teqūfah תְּקוּפָה. See turning point in the EHSV Lexicon. The Rabbis ruled that the 16th of Nisan must fall on the day after the teqūfah or later. This is basically a way of saying that half of the first month must be in the new year. The rule may be equivalently restated that the 15th of Nisan must occur on or after the day of the teqūfah. The two rules are identical, taking sunset ending the 15th of Nisan as the exact point before which the equinox must occur. This ruling made sure that the Passover offering memorializing the Exodus was eaten in the new year, as this offering was made toward sunset on the 15th, and eaten in the following night. Thus the precept was fulfilled to keep three feasts in the year.

Now the first month of the year for 2 BC looks like this:

Month: I AVIV, 2 BC    4138 A.M. Sab. Cyc: 1. Jub. Cyc: 22 Cycle No: 84
Q1: 0.727 A Q2: -1.024 G LG:  76m W: 0.599' AL: 15.7 AV: 15.6
New Moon calculated for longitude: 35.17 and latitude 31.77
Location of calculations: Jerusalem Author: Daniel Gregg

        I        II        III       IV         V        VI        VII
     │         │         │         │         │         │     ↑   │   1     │
     │ AVIV/   │         │         │         │         │         │New Moon │
     │ NISAN   │         │         │         │         │ MAR 7   │ MAR 8   │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │  352    │
     │   2     │   3     │   4     │   5     │   6     │   7     │   8     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │  MAR 9  │ MAR 10  │  MAR 11 │ MAR 12  │ MAR 13  │ MAR 14  │ MAR 15  │
     │  353354355356357358359    │
     │   9     │  10     │  11     │  12     │  13     │  14     │  15 ↑   │
     │         │         │         │         │         │Passover │Passover │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │ TEQUFAH │
     │ MAR 16  │ MAR 17  │ MAR 18  │ MAR 19  │ MAR 20  │ MAR 21  │ MAR 22  │
     │ 3603613623633643651     │
     │16-0-1   │17-0-2   │18-0-3   │19-0-4   │20-0-5   │21-0-6   │22-1-7   │
     │ Sheaf   │         │         │         │         │7thULB   │         │
     │ MAR 23  │ MAR 24  │MAR 25   │ MAR 26  │ MAR 27  │ MAR 28  │ MAR 29  │
     │ 2345678      │
     │23-1-8   │24-1-9   │25-1-10  │26-1-11  │27-1-12  │28-1-13  │29-2-14  │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │ MAR 30  │ MAR 31  │ APR 1   │ APR 2   │ APR 3   │ APR 4   │ APR 5   │
     │  9101112131415

The calendar was computer calculated using Bernard Yallop’s criteria, with a refinement described by Israeli scientist Roy Hoffman. The new moon sighting, marked at the ↑ on the evening of March 7 is given an “A” rating, which means “easily visible.” The new moon day (the first day of the month) was accordingly on March 8th. The days here are arranged according to the daily offerings, which are offered in the daytime, and burn on the altar all night. Thus the days are delimited from daybreak to daybreak. But then again, please notice that the Sabbaths are marked █████▀▀▀▀▀ from sunset to sunset. The annual Sabbaths are marked ██╫██▀▀▀▀▀. An ordinary night is marked ▒▒▒▒▒. An ordinary day is marked ~~~~~. The TEQUFAH (equinox) is marked on March 22nd congruent to our Stellarium 0.12.4 screenshot given above. The arrow ↑ on the 15th day marks when the second Passover offering memorializing the Exodus was consumed. This would be immediately after the equinox this year.

The first month for 2 BC is therefore set by the astronomical criteria of the positions of the sun and moon, and determine the timing of the seventh month. The intervening months are listed in this chart of the whole year:

          All the New Moons of the Year from: (2 B.C. to 1 B.C.)

   I AVIV        FRI  3/ 7/  -2   29 days A (G)   No chance -1 day
  II ZIV         SAT  4/ 5/  -2   30 days B (Z)   30% chance +1 day
                                                  No chance -1 day
 III SIVAN       MON  5/ 5/  -2   29 days A (F)   No chance -1 day
  IV SHOSHANNA   TUE  6/ 3/  -2   30 days A (G)   No chance -1 day
   V AV          THR  7/ 3/  -2   29 days A (C)   7% chance -1 day
  VI ELUL        FRI  8/ 1/  -2   30 days A (G)   20% chance +1 day
                                                  No chance -1 day
 VII ETHANIM     SUN  8/31/  -2   30 days A (F)   No chance -1 day
VIII BUL         TUE  9/30/  -2   30 days A (F)   No chance -1 day
  IX KISLEV      THR 10/30/  -2   29 days A (C)   7% chance -1 day
   X TEBETH      FRI 11/28/  -2   30 days A (F)   No chance -1 day
  XI SHEBAT      SUN 12/28/  -2   29 days A (E)   No chance -1 day
 XII ADAR        MON  1/26/  -1   30 days A (G)   No chance -1 day
XIII ADAR_II     WED  2/25/  -1   29 days A (F)   No chance -1 day

Very conveniently, the calculations for this year come up with “No chance -1 day” for the key first and seventh months. In the next calendar, I chart the seventh month, the month solved for the Revelation 12:1-2 Astrocryptogram:

Month: VII ETHANIM, 2 BC    4138 A.M. Sab. Cyc: 2. Jub. Cyc: 23 Cycle No: 84
Q1: 0.394 A Q2: -0.699 F LG:  44m W: 1.252' AL: 23.7 AV: 8.8
New Moon calculated for longitude: 35.17 and latitude 31.77
Location of calculations: Jerusalem Author: Daniel Gregg

        I        II        III       IV         V        VI        VII
 TISHRI/   ↑   │  1      │   2     │   3     │   4     │   5     │   6     │
 ETHANIM      │New Moon │         │Fast Ged │         │         │         │
     │         │ DAY     │         │         │         │         │         │
     │ AUG 31  │ SEP 1   │ SEP 3   │ SEP 3   │ SEP 4   │ SEP 5   │ SEP 6   │
     │   7     │   8     │   9     │  10     │  11     │  12     │  13     │
     │         │         │         │Y. Kippur│         │         │         │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │  SEP 7  │ SEP 8   │ SEP 9   │ SEP 10  │ SEP 11  │ SEP 12  │ SEP 13  │
     │  14     │  15     │  16     │  17     │  18     │  19     │  20     │
     │         │Sukkot   │         │         │         │         │         │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │ SEP 14  │ SEP 15  │ SEP 16  │ SEP 17  │ SEP 18  │ SEP 19  │ SEP 20  │
     │  21     │  22     │  23     │  24     │  25     │  26     │  27     │
     │         │8th Day  │         │         │         │         │         │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │ SEP 21  │ SEP 22  │ SEP 23  │ SEP 24  │ SEP 25  │ SEP 26  │ SEP27   │
     │  28     │  29     │  30 ↑   │
     │         │         │         │
     │ SEP 28  │ SEP 29  │ SEP 30  │

The new moon is marked ↑, with the arrow on August 31st. The diamond marks the solution of the Astrocryptogram. There are some amazing things about this month. Firstly, the circumstance that a Roman month would match exactly the day numbers of the biblical month is rare. This is a circumstance that happens only about once in 30 months. Also the circumstance that the Roman month is named September, which means Seven, and is the same as the seventh month in this case in the Biblical Calendar. On another interesting note: March was the first month of the earliest Roman calendar, and even in late antiquity Roman mosaics picturing the months still placed March first.

Priestly Courses (Revised)

Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, was a priest in the priestly division of Abijah, as recorded in Luke 1:5. This bit of information may be used to calculate the birth of Mĕssiah when it is put together with other Scriptures and historical information. Abijah was eponymous name of the eighth division of priests (1Chron. 24:10) in a rotation of twenty-four divisions (1Chron. 24:18). Each division served exactly one week, beginning at noon on the Sabbath, and ending at noon on the next Sabbath (2Chron 23:4-8; 2Kings 11:5-9; cf. Lev. 24:8). After the Babylonian exile, the priests were divided into 24 divisions using the same names as in 1Chron. 24 (cf. Ezra 6:18, 4Q320). Now, if we can determine the date at which any of the 24 divisions was on duty, then we may determine the dates of the eighth division in any year during the second Temple (515 BC to AD 70). For by rotating continuously, each division of priests would be treated equally, as required by Law (Deut. 18:6-8, Finegan, §242). The key date comes from an ancient Rabbinical statement that the Second Temple was burned on the 9th of Av, on a Sunday, when the the division of Jehoiarib was serving (Seder Olam, cf. TAANIT 29A, cf. also The Inception of the Priestly Divisions). Jehoiarib was the first division (1Chron. 24:7). The stated date was Sunday, August 5, AD 70. This synchronism is the needed point of reference for backtracking the weeks of the 24 priestly divisions. We will use this historical notation to calculate the division of Abijah in 3 BC, and show that the result perfectly harmonizes with the date of Tishri 1, 2 BC for the birth of Messiah.

To simplify matters, I have developed a function which takes the Julian day number of noon on any day and returns the priestly division serving during that week. The recipe is below. It’s putative validity is for dates between April 3, 515 BC and August 5, AD 70. I tested the formula on Thomas Lewin’s dates in the Fasti Sacri (1865). He states, “The course of Abia began on [Sabbath] 16 May, B.C. 7, and ended on [Sabbath] 22 [23] May, B.C. 7” (pg. 109, B.C. 7, post #836). Both dates are a Sabbath. For calculations, however, it is best to use the first day of the week, May 17, 7 BC (Julian date: 1719003). Using the formula below will result in 8 (8th division). Lewin, of course, did not know the correct year for the birth, because he was incorrectly depending on 4 BC for the date of Herod’s death, miscalculated from a faulty interpretation of Josephus. If he had paid more attention to Luke 3:1 and 3:23, however, he could have gotten the result in 3 BC, and the subsequent birth’s of John and Yĕshūa̒ in 2 BC without contradicting Luke. His calculation of the division of Abijah for 7 BC was correct, and I offer it as a second witness to the calculations here.

                                               Notes: Valid 515 BC to AD 70.
Given:    Julian_day_number                   (i.e. JD)
          ADD 1                               (Eliminates decimal results from the next step)
          Divide by 7                         (Reduces JD, to consecutive week number)
          ADD 3                               (offsets the week so that MOD gives 0 for the 
                                               1st division)
          Divide by 24 and take the remainder (MOD 24, returns 0-23, one less than the 
                                               division number)
          ADD 1                               (eliminate 0 based counting of the modulus)
          Drop any decimal                    (hint: avoid decimals by choosing a 
Result:   Priestly_division_number             JD for a Sunday.)

How the function looks in a spreadsheet: =INT(MOD((JD+1)/7+3,24)+1)  
JD = references a cell with a JD.

To convert the JD to year, month, day, and weekday, use an on line utility. I like this one: Julian Date Converter. The utility works both ways. Test this out on August 5, AD 70. Put in 12hr 0m 0s to get a result without a decimal. Result: 1746842, Sunday. ADD 1: 1746843; Divide by 7: 249549. ADD 3: 249552; MOD 24: 0; ADD 1: 1 (first priestly division). The operator MOD x, means “reMainder Of Division by x”; if the division is even then MOD returns 0.

Here is where the 8th priestly division (Abijah) lands in 3 BC:

Month: IV SHOSHANNIM, 3 BC    4137 A.M. Sab. Cyc: 7. Jub. Cyc: 21 Cycle No: 84
Q1: 0.007 B Q2: -9.000 Z LG:  58m W: 0.262' AL: 10.7 AV: 10.3
New Moon calculated for longitude: 35.17 and latitude 31.77
Location of calculations: Jerusalem Author: Daniel Gregg

        I        II        III       IV         V        VI        VII
                                                   ↑   │   1     │   2     │
     SHOSHANNIM (renamed)                          NM  │New Moon │         │
     │         │         │         │         │         │ JUN 14  │         │
     │   3     │   4     │   5     │   6     │   7     │   8     │   9     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │ JUN 16  │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │  10     │  11     │  12     │  13     │  14     │  15     │  16     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │ JUN 23  │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │  17     │  18     │  19     │  20     │  21     │  22     │  23     │
     │Fast     │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │ JUN 30  │         │         │         │         │         │ JUL 6   │
     │  24     │  25     │  26     │  27     │  28     │  29     │  30 ↑   │
     │ JUL 7   │         │         │         │         │         │ JUL 13  │
     │  8th division     │         │         │         │         │         │

Check. Use the utility (Julian Date Converter) to find the JD of July 7, 3 BC, 12hr 0mi 0sec Result: 1720515. ADD 1: 1720516. Divide by 7: 245788. ADD 3: 245791. MOD 24: 7. ADD 1: 8 (8th priestly division). According to calculation then, events may be reconstructed as follows:

Zechariah leaves his duty at noon on July 13th, after he had done the morning service on the Sabbath. Luke 1:23 states, “And it happened, as had been filled the days of his service, he had gone to his home.” The text says he kept all the days of his division. If he had gone mute (cf. Luke 1:20-22) on any day before the last offering of the week for his division, he would have been dismissed early from the service (cf. Lev. 21:21). He would not be permitted to return in 24 weeks, because he was still mute until the birth of his son (38 weeks off). By this we know he drew the lot to burn the incense in the holy place during the morning offering on the Sabbath, Jul. 13th, 3 BC. He left at noon. When he arrived home, we can say for certain he was very motivated to act soon so as to remove the curse of being mute as soon as possible. To do this clearly required him to write down the whole experience in the Temple for his wife. And the sooner the better, as she would listen best as soon as he came off duty. But as he was one witness, and she was known to be barren, she had to keep quiet about it until she had an obvious valid pregnancy. That would be the second witness to confirm Zechariah’s testimony.

Luke 1:24 says, “And after those days, his wife Elizabeth conceived, and hid herself five months.” After these days (Μετὰ δὲ ταύτας τὰς ἡμέρας) refers to the the 8 days of the division of Abijah, from the Sabbath July 6 to the Sabbath July 13 in 3 BC. This strongly implies that the conception date was July 14. It also implies that her LMP (last menstrual period) began on June 30, a week before Zechariah was due to serve, and that she was ready to conceive the day after “those days” had ended. Zechariah’s service ended on the 30th day of month IV. The implied date of John’s conception was the first day of month V. This I have summarized below. It will be evident from our calculations that the annunciations could not have been at a better time.

   V.1            Conception Date       July 14, 3 BC
   V.1-   V.30    1st month seclusion   July 14, 3 BC to August 12, 3 BC.
  VI.1-  VI.30    2nd month seclusion   August 13, 3 BC to September 11, 3 BC.
 VII.1- VII.30    3rd month seclusion   September 12, 3 BC to October 11, 3 BC.
VIII.1-VIII.30    4th month seclusion   October 12, 3 BC to November 10, 3 BC.
  IX.1-  IX.29    5th month seclusion   November 11, 3 BC to December 9, 3 BC.
   X.1            6th month begins      December 10, 3 BC.
   X.1            Conception Date

Luke 1:26 says, “And in the sixth month the Messenger Gabri̱’ēl had been sent by the Almĭghty to a city of Galilee named Nazareth.” The words “in the sixth month” may mean the new moon day (Εν δὲ τῷ μηνὶ τῷ ἕκτῳ). See also Gen. 8:5, Exo. 40:17. And we will see that they cannot be otherwise in order for the calculation to agree with Luke 2:6. Luke 1:36 may imply the new moon day, “and this is the sixth month to her who was called barren” (YLT, καὶ οὗτος μὴν ἕκτος ἐστὶν). Thayer notes on the word μὴν: “2. the time of new moon, new moon (barbarous Latin novilunium: after the use of the Hebrew חֹדֶשׁ, which denotes both a `month' and a `new moon,'” If the division of Abijah is correctly placed, then she conceived the Mĕssiah that very day in order to be born on Tishri 1 on the due date. Luke 1:39 implies so, “And having risen up, Miryam in those days went to the hill-country with haste, to a city of Judea.” When she arrived, Elizabeth reveals that Miryam is already pregnant: “and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1:42). Miryam had gone in haste because Elizabeth was her second witness beside the Messenger. The distance was about 90 miles, a four day trek for a young person in good shape. The text implies she left as soon as she could. Luke 2:6 prohibits a premature birth. Revelation 12:1-2 prevents an overdue birth, since the Astrocryptogram does not work after Sept 1, 2 BC (Tishri 1).

The conception of Yĕshūa̒, as we see from Luke 2:6 would be on that very day that the Messenger made the announcement to her, X.1, 3 BC, or December 10, 3 BC. The length of time to term (the due date) is 266 days. The due date is indicated in the text by the words “the days were fulfilled for her bringing forth,” which means the customary or average count of days was completed. This is known to be 280 from the LMP or 266 days from conception. So for inclusive counting, I add 265 days. By doing this the conception day is counted as 1 and the birth date as 266. Using the utility (Julian Date Converter), the Julian date for Dec 10, 3 BC, 12hr 0min 0sec is: 1720671. Add 265: 1720936. Convert the result back: September 1, 2 BC. The same date is Tishri 1, 2 BC. The same result may be checked in Stellarium 0.13.1. (Set the date counter to -2/12/10 12:0:0 and read off 1720671. Set the date counter to -1/9/1 12:0:0 and read off 1720936. 1720936-1720671+1 = 266. The 1 is added to count inclusively. Both dates can be confirmed as the new moon day in Stellarium also.

Luke 2:6 reads, “And it was, in their being there, the days had been fulfilled for her to give birth.” The words “had been fulfilled” (ἐπλήσθησαν) mean that that the birth was not premature. The fact that they came to register, a matter that should only take one day, implies that the child was not overdue either. It seems that the governing authorities would have set a window of 1-3 before the new moon of Tishri for the registration. They liked to get things done promptly and in a minimum of time. This reasonable inference may explain why it was so crowded in Bethlehem as everyone who lived in the district, or who named the city as their ancestral town, had come into the town to register. We should assume that Yōsef planned to arrive in the required time frame, which was probably very short. I surmise that Yōseph had registered sometime early on the 30th day of month VI, and that they planned to stay over in Bethlehem on Yom Teruah, since that day was an Annual Sabbath. The child arrived exactly on time, 266 days from conception, or 280 days from Miryam’s LMP. The Messenger made the announcement on the 14th day of her cycle. The time from conception was exactly 9 lunar months, or 38 weeks. Or counting from the LMP, 280 days, exactly.

By any historical standards of date calculations, this one is amazing. Firstly, the division of Abijah just happens to finish up so that Zechariah’s first day home is the new moon day of month V. Then Luke neatly states that Elizabeth secluded herself for five months. On the new moon of the sixth month, Miryam conceives. And then exactly nine perfect lunar months later she gives birth, which just turn out to be 266 days.

Month           Seclusion         Miryam          Time line      
V.1             1                                 1            
VI              2                                 2
VII             3                                 3
VIII            4                                 4
IX              5                                 5
X.1            (6)----------------1               6
XI             (7)                2               7
XII            (8)                3               8
I              (9)                4               9
II.1-----------II.1               5               10
III                               6               11
IV                                7               12
V                                 8               13
VI                                9               14
VII.1                             birth           (14 months 1 day)

There was no Adar II in the spring of 2 BC. The birth of Mĕssiah was 9 months and 1 day (266 days) from conception.

Elizabeth gave birth, when “the time had been filled” (Luke 1:57). Therefore she did not bear prematurely. Her due date would be April 5, 2 BC (Nisan 29). The calculation is as follows. V.1 was on July 14, 3 BC (Julian date: 1720522). 1720522+266-1 = 1720787. The due date was at the same time as the new moon.

The Synchronization of the Priestly Courses

Now that I have shown the priestly courses to be consistent with the Tishri 1 birth date of Mĕssiah, it will be useful to demonstrate the proof of the rule for calculating them from Rabbi Halaphta’s remark in Seder Olam. On Sunday, Av 9, it was the first division that was on duty. The source of the Hebrew for this quote is Seder Olam, Heinrich W. Guggenheimer. The English translation is my own. The Rabbi was not correct in all his points. See the footnote at the end of the English translation. Seder Olam is the earliest known comprehensive Jewish chronological work, and dates to about AD 150.

“Rabbi Yōsēi̱ says,
‘Merit makes to be rolled merit for a day,
and guilt for a day, guilt.
Because is found a saying, like that the destruction of the first house,
it the day of the going out of the Sabbath had been,
and being made going out of the seventh it had been,
and its watch of Yehōyari̱v̱ had been,
and the 9th in A̕v̱ it had been,
and so the second time of it.” note ¹

ר״ יוֹסֵי אוֹמֵר מְגַלְלְּלִין זְכוּת לְיוֹם זְכוּת
וְחוֹבָה לְיוֹם חוֹבָה
שֶּׁנִּמְצֵאת אוֹמֵר כְּשֶׁחָרֵב בָּרִאשׁוֹנָה
אוֹתוֹ הַיּוֹם מוֹצָאֵי שַׁבָּת הָיָה
וּמוֹצָאֵי שְׁבִעִית הָיְתָה
וּמִשְׁמַרְתוֹ שֶׁל יְהוֹיָרִיב הָיְתָה
וְתִשְׁעָה בְאַב הָיָה
וְכֵן בַּשְּׁנִיָּה

The month for the Seder Olam synchronization is in the following calendar:

Month: V AV, AD 70   4209 A.M. Sab. Cyc: 2. Jub. Cyc: 44 Cycle No: 85
Q1: 0.919 A Q2: -0.309 F LG:  80m W: 1.029' AL: 21.0 AV: 15.2
New Moon calculated for longitude: 35.17 and latitude 31.77
Location of calculations: Jerusalem Author: Daniel Gregg

        I        II        III       IV         V        VI        VII
                                                             ↑NM │   1     │
         AV                                             1746833  │ JUL 28  │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │   2     │   3     │   4     │   5     │   6     │   7     │   8     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │ ♦ 9     │  10     │  11     │  12     │  13     │  14     │  15     │
     │Fast Day │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │1746842  │ 1746843 │ 1746844 │ 1746845 │ 1746846 │ 1746847 │ 1746848 |
     │ AUG 5   │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │  16     │  17     │  18     │  19     │  20     │  21     │  22     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │  23     │  24     │  25     │  26     │  27     │  28     │  29     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │  30 ↑   │
     │         │

I have put in the Julian day numbers for the new moon and the 9th of Av, and the following week. We would like a function that inputs the Julian day # for the first full day of a division’s service, (this would be the first day of the week), and then outputs the division number serving during that week. First let us determine how the Julian date system is set up by finding the remainder after division by 7 for each weekday:

                             ISO       ISO        ISO              Zero Base         Biblical
                             0base     1based     Rearranged       (JD + 1) MOD 7    One based
SUN    1746842  MOD  7   =   6         7          MON     1        0 SUN             SUN 1
MON    1746843  MOD  7   =   0         1          TUE     2        1 MON             MON 2
TUE    1746844  MOD  7   =   1         2          WED     3        2 TUE             TUE 3
WED    1746845  MOD  7   =   2         3          THU     4        3 WED             WED 4
THU    1746846  MOD  7   =   3         4          FRI     5        4 THU             THU 5
FRI    1746847  MOD  7   =   4         5          SAB     6        5 FRI             FRI 6
SAB    1746848  MOD  7   =   5         6          SUN     7        6 SAB             SAB 7

Now the Modulus has to use 0 based counting. Thus to determine what day of the week the Modulus is returning in normal counting, we have to add 1. I have rearranged the order according to the European order of days to expose the truth of the Julian day system. We see clearly that the fellow who invented the system wanted Sunday to be the seventh day of the week! The ISO formula for finding the weekday is: WD = (JD MOD 7) + 1, just as I have it in the “Rearranged Column.” The ISO system does not require an offset. This means that the system was set up to treat Sunday as the seventh day. The ISO system does not allow the proper counting of weeks, because the ISO week begins with Monday and ends with Sunday. In proper 0 based counting, 0 = 1, and 0 should be assigned to Sunday. This is the same as calling it the first day of the week in Modulus 0 based counting. Thus to ensure that a week is properly numbered, we have to divide (JD + 1) by 7 evenly, such that (JD + 1) MOD 7 = 0. The Julian week number of any Julian date can be determined by INT[(JD + 1) / 7]. (We could calculate a proper week number from creation, but this would needlessly complicate matters.)

Now that WEEK_NO = INT[(JD + 1) / 7] returns a unique number for every week, sequentially numbered, we can solve Rabbi Ḥalaphta’s equation in terms of the Julian date. The week number for Aug 5, AD 70 is: (1746842 + 1)/7 = 249549. The general equation is ZBDIVISION = (WEEK_NO + OFFSET) MOD 24. The Julian Week No = 249549. But this number does not happily divide by 24 evenly for the first division (ZBDIVISION = 0 for the first division, zero based counting). It requires an OFFSET. Solve 0 = (249549 + OFFSET) MOD 24. OFFSET = 3. So then: 0 = (249549 + 3) MOD 24. For 1 based counting add one to both sides of the general equation: ZBDIVISION + 1 = (WEEK_NO + OFFSET) MOD 24 + 1. Now ZBDIVISION + 1 can be replaced by one based DIVISION (DIVISION = ZBDIVISION + 1): DIVISION = (WEEK_NO + OFFSET) MOD 24 + 1. Substitute what we know: DIVISION = [(INT[(JD + 1) / 7] + 3) MOD 24] + 1. Since we derived the equation from the equivalence of the first division with JD = 1746842, the result is obviously 1. Given: 1746842; add 1: 1746842; divide by 7: 249549; add 3: 249552; MOD 24: 0. Add 1: 1. The formula will work for any Julian day number. It is valid from 515 BC to AD 70 for the Second Temple. But the user should be aware that any Julian date less than 12 noon Sunday returns a division number for the previous week.

Jan 6th Null hypotheses of the Eastern Church

This one counts from the first service of the 8th division, and squeezes out all possible extra time. This shows that the Jan 6th date of the Eastern Church was derived using the incorrect T1A method (starting the divisions annually with Tishri 1). For why this is invalid see: The Inception of the Priestly Divisions.

Month: VII TISHRI, 4 BC    4136 A.M. Sab. Cyc: 7. Jub. Cyc: 21 Cycle No: 84
Q1: 0.426 A Q2: -0.623 F LG:  46m W: 1.234' AL: 23.6 AV: 9.2
New Moon calculated for longitude: 35.17 and latitude 31.77
Location of calculations: Jerusalem Author: Daniel Gregg

        I        II        III       IV         V        VI        VII
 ↑   │   1     │   2     │   3     │   4     │   5     │   6     │   7     │
     │ SEP 23  │         │Fast Ged │         │         │         │         │
 1st division  │         │         │         │         │         │   *     │
     │   8     │   9     │  10     │  11     │  12     │  13     │  14     │
     │         │         │Y. Kippur│         │         │         │         │
 2nd division  │         │         │         │         │         │   *     │
     │  15     │  16     │  17     │  18     │  19     │  20     │  21     │
     │Sukkot   │         │         │         │         │         │         │
 3rd division  │         │         │         │         │         │   *     │
     │  22     │  23     │  24     │  25     │  26     │  27     │  28     │
     │8th Day  │         │         │         │         │         │         │
 4th division  │         │         │         │         │         │   *     │
     │  29     │  30 ↑   │
 5th division  │         │
Month: VIII BUL, 4 BC    4136 A.M. Sab. Cyc: 7. Jub. Cyc: 21 Cycle No: 84
Q1: 0.988 A Q2: -0.349 F LG:  65m W: 1.787' AL: 28.0 AV: 12.2
New Moon calculated for longitude: 35.17 and latitude 31.77
Location of calculations: Jerusalem Author: Daniel Gregg

        I        II        III       IV         V        VI        VII
                     ↑   │   1     │   2     │   3     │   4     │   5     │
         BUL             │ Oct 23  │         │         │         │         │
 5th division  │         │         │         │         │         │  *      │
     │   6     │   7     │   8     │   9     │  10     │  11     │  12     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
 6th division  │         │         │         │         │         │   *     │
     │  13     │  14     │  15     │  16     │  17     │  18     │  19     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
 7th division  │         │         │         │         │         │  *      │
     │  20     │  21     │  22     │  23     │  24     │  25     │  26     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
 8th division  │         │         │         │         │         │   *     │
     │● 27     │  28     │  29 ↑   │
 9th division  │         │         │

The bullet ● marks the conception of John, the day after Zechariah’s service ends, which is the 1st day of the week. Now we count off the months of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, with a monthly anniversary date of the 27th.

Month: IX KISLEV, 4 BC    4136 A.M. Sab. Cyc: 7. Jub. Cyc: 21 Cycle No: 84
Q1: 0.475 A Q2: -0.941 F LG:  60m W: 1.047' AL: 21.2 AV: 10.7
Sunset times for longitude: -86.90 and latitude 45.37
New Moon calculated for longitude: 35.17 and latitude 31.77
Location of calculations: Jerusalem Author: Daniel Gregg

        I        II        III       IV         V        VI        VII
                               ↑   │   1     │   2     │   3     │   4     │
       KISLEV                      │ Nov 21  │         │         │         │
     │   5     │   6     │   7     │   8     │   9     │  10     │  11     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │  12     │  13     │  14     │  15     │  16     │  17     │  18     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │  19     │  20     │  21     │  22     │  23     │  24     │  25     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │Hanukah  │
     │  26     │  27     │  28     │  29 ↑   │
     │         │ END 1st │Hanukah  │Hanukah  │
Month: X TEBETH, 4 BC    4136 A.M. Sab. Cyc: 7. Jub. Cyc: 21 Cycle No: 84
Q1: 0.026 B Q2: -9.000 Z LG:  52m W: 0.493' AL: 14.4 AV: 9.1
Sunset times for longitude: -86.90 and latitude 45.37
New Moon calculated for longitude: 35.17 and latitude 31.77
Location of calculations: Jerusalem Author: Daniel Gregg

        I        II        III       IV         V        VI        VII
                                         ↑   │   1     │   2     │   3     │
       TEBETH                                │ DEC 20  │Hanukah  │Hanukah  │
     │   4     │   5     │   6     │   7     │   8     │   9     │  10     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │  11     │  12     │  13     │  14     │  15     │  16     │  17     │
     │Fast     │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │  18     │  19     │  20     │  21     │  22     │  23     │  24     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │  25     │  26     │  27     │  28     │  29     │  30 ↑   │
     │         │         │  END 2nd│         │         │         │
Month: XI SHEBAT, 3 BC    4136 A.M. Sab. Cyc: 7. Jub. Cyc: 21 Cycle No: 84
Q1: 1.480 A Q2: -0.481 G LG: 106m W: 1.144' AL: 21.6 AV: 20.2
Sunset times for longitude: -86.90 and latitude 45.37
New Moon calculated for longitude: 35.17 and latitude 31.77
Location of calculations: Jerusalem Author: Daniel Gregg

        I        II        III       IV         V        VI        VII
                                                             ↑   │   1     │
       SHEBAT                                                    │ JAN 19  │
     │   2     │   3     │   4     │   5     │   6     │   7     │   8     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │   9     │  10     │  11     │  12     │  13     │  14     │  15     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │  16     │  17     │  18     │  19     │  20     │  21     │  22     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │  23     │  24     │  25     │  26     │  27     │  28     │  29 ↑   │
     │         │         │         │         │ END 3rd │         │         │
Month: XII ADAR, 3 BC    4136 A.M. Sab. Cyc: 7. Jub. Cyc: 21 Cycle No: 84
Q1: 0.806 A Q2: -1.019 G LG:  81m W: 0.643' AL: 16.2 AV: 16.1
Sunset times for longitude: -86.90 and latitude 45.37
New Moon calculated for longitude: 35.17 and latitude 31.77
Location of calculations: Jerusalem Author: Daniel Gregg

        I        II        III       IV         V        VI        VII
 ↑   │   1     │   2     │   3     │   4     │   5     │   6     │   7     │
     │ FEB 17  │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │   8     │   9     │  10     │  11     │  12     │  13     │  14     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │Fast Est.│Purim    │
     │  15     │  16     │  17     │  18     │  19     │  20     │  21     │
     │P.Shushan│         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │  22     │  23     │  24     │  25     │  26     │  27     │  28     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │ END 4th │         │
     │  29 ↑   │
     │         │
Month: I AVIV, 3 BC    4137 A.M. Sab. Cyc: 7. Jub. Cyc: 21 Cycle No: 84
Q1: 0.148 B Q2: -9.000 Z LG:  57m W: 0.321' AL: 11.5 AV: 11.4
Sunset times for longitude: -86.90 and latitude 45.37
New Moon calculated for longitude: 35.17 and latitude 31.77
Location of calculations: Jerusalem Author: Daniel Gregg

        I        II        III       IV         V        VI        VII
           ↑   │   1     │   2     │   3     │   4     │   5     │   6     │
     AVIV/NISAN│ MAR 18  │         │         │ MAR 21  │ MAR 22  │         │
     │         │         │         │         │ 36512      │
     │   7     │   8     │   9     │  10     │  11     │  12     │  13     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │   3456789     │
     │  14     │  15     │16       │17       │18       │19       │20       │
     │Passover │Passover │ Sheaf   │         │         │         │         │
     │   10111213141516     │
     │21       │22       │23       │24       │25       │26       │27       │
     │7thULB   │         │         │         │         │         │ END 5th │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │   17181920212223     │
     │  28     │29       │30       │
     │        │         │         │
     │ APR 14  │         │         │
     │  24     │         │         │

Observe the bullet above. on the 28th day of the month. This is as soon as the announcement to Miryam can be, and as soon as she can possibly conceive. From conception to term is 266 days. I have indicated that it is the 24rd day of the year counting from the day of the spring equinox. To find the expected day of the birth, add 266 + 24. The sum is 290. We only need to locate the 290th day of the year to find the birth date. Or use the Julian date provided: 1720431. Add 266: 1720697.

Month: X TEBETH, 3 BC    4137 A.M. Sab. Cyc: 1. Jub. Cyc: 22 Cycle No: 84
Q1: 0.819 A Q2: -0.672 F LG:  81m W: 0.975' AL: 20.7 AV: 14.5
Sunset times for longitude: -86.90 and latitude 45.37
New Moon calculated for longitude: 35.17 and latitude 31.77
Location of calculations: Jerusalem Author: Daniel Gregg

        I        II        III       IV         V        VI        VII
                     ↑   │   1     │   2     │   3     │   4     │   5     │
       TEBETH            │ DEC 10  │ DEC 11  │Hanukah 8│         │         │
     │         │         │  264265266267268    │
     │   6     │   7     │   8     │   9     │  10     │  11     │  12     │
     │         │         │         │ DEC 18  │Fast     │         │         │
     │  269270271272273274275    │
     │  13     │  14     │  15     │  16     │  17     │  18     │  19     │
     │         │         │         │ DEC 25  │         │         │         │
     │ 276277278279280281282    │
     │  20     │  21     │  22     │  23     │  24     │  25     │  26     │
     │         │         │         │ JAN 1   │         │         │ JAN 4   │
     │ 283284285286287288289    │
     │  27     │  28     │  29 ↑   │
     │  JAN 5  │  JAN 6  │         │
     │  290291    │         │

To be before Jan. 5, the birth would have to be premature. But again Luke 2:6 forbids a premature birth. It says, Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτοὺς ἐκεῖ ἐπλήσθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ τεκεῖν αὐτήν, “While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth” (NAU). This can only mean that Miryam was at term (or past it) when she bore Mĕssiah! There was no premature birth. So then, why did the Eastern Church settle on January 6, one day later? There is one obvious answer. If the Eastern Church chronologist used the month lengths in col. I or II (see chart below), then his total days would be less by one, and he would pick a date of Jan. 6. Therefore, by using a schematic of the month lengths, instead of the real thing, since he could not possibly know them or calculate them, the Eastern Church chronologist comes up with Jan. 6. (The calculator also used exclusive counting, i.e. the day of the conception was not counted as day 1, but as day 0).

This puts us exactly on the winter date of the Eastern Church and some Church Fathers, and explains that it was probably derived from the T1A system. See the before mentioned paper on priestly courses.

          All the New Moons of the Year from: (3 B.C. to 2 B.C.)
                                  Actual Month    Assumed Month   Assumed Month
                                  Lengths         Length I  Dif   Length II     Dif
   I AVIV        SUN  3/17/  -3   30 days B (Z)   30        0     29            -1

  II ZIV         TUE  4/16/  -3   29 days A (G)   29        0     30            +1
 III SIVAN       WED  5/15/  -3   29 days A (G)   30        +1    29             0
  IV SHOSHANNA   THR  6/13/  -3   30 days B (Z)   29        -1    30             0

   V AV          SAT  7/13/  -3   30 days A (G)   30        0     29            -1
  VI ELUL        MON  8/12/  -3   30 days A (F)   29        -1    30             0
 VII ETHANIM     WED  9/11/  -3   30 days A (F)   30        0     29            -1
VIII BUL         FRI 10/11/  -3   30 days A (F)   29        -1    30             0
  IX KISLEV      SUN 11/10/  -3   29 days A (C)   30       +1     29             0
   X TEBETH      MON 12/ 9/  -3   29 days A (F)   29        0     30            +1
                                                    SUM    (-1)        SUM    (-1)

The Jewish Christians probably remembered that Mĕssiah’s birth was on or near Tishri 1, that is for a time, until their influence waned. After the non-Jewish Church set out on its own path, they wanted to avoid Jewish festivals and Sabbaths. So when they tried to use the priestly courses they ended up around Jan 6. But they did not understand how the divisions worked, and simply assumed that they began in Tishri.

The Almĭghty already stated his disapproval of trying to make pagan things holy for him in Deut. 12:29-31. But since the Church was not listening to the Torah very well, he decided to disclose the exact date with the Astrocryptogram in Rev. 12:1-2.

The Census of Quirinius

Abstact: By pinning down the mentions of Syrian governors in Jospehus, we can show that Quirinius (Luke 2:2) only served in a window of time between the late Spring and Fall of 2 BC. This is done using the sensible reconstruction of Josephus by Thomas Lewin, with his incorrect date of Herod’s death now corrected. This thereby leaves the fall of 2 BC as the only possibility for the birth of Yĕshūa̒. As a bonus we also get another witness against the possibility of a spring 2 BC birth day also, though it is really redundant and not needed.

The Revelation 12:1-2 astronomical synchronism, as stated in the section above, rules out Jan. 6, 2 BC, as the birth date of Mĕssiah. It would be helpful to have one more witness against this mistaken calculation of priestly divisions. And there is. Luke 2:2 states, “This was the first inventory when Quirinius was governor of Syria.” There was a second inventory by this same governor in AD 6 (serving a second term, though separated from the first, much in the manner of Gray Davis of California), and this was strictly to liquidate the kingdom of Archelaus (who had been deposed by Caesar) and only took place in Judea. The object was in fact to turn Judea into a Roman province. It is mentioned in Acts 5:37 and Antiquities 18:1-4. The first inventory (ἀπογραφὴ, Friberg: as an inventory of citizens in a country, census, registration, listing; LSJ: a writing off, a resigister, list, of lands or property) was of people. The second was of goods. The Greek word is used for both. In English inventory is usually limited to goods, and census to people. A confusion comes about with Quirinius because his first inventory was a census and the second was an inventory of goods, and therefore if one says first census, then there is no second census, because the second was really an inventory. But the Greek word ἀπογραφὴ covers both kinds of accounting.

So in AD 6, Quirinius took an inventory of Herod’s domain, and this was when it became a Roman Province. Quirinius in his first tenure as governor took the inventory of Syria, which already was a Roman Province. This activity is recorded by Aemilius Secundus, visible on Titulus Venetus. A key point is that Luke would not have called Quirinius governor of Syria unless he was the top man on the job governing Syria. Luke calls Pontius Pilate, “Governor of Judea” using the same word (Luke 3:1). We know however, that his boss was Legate Aelius Lamia, i.e. governor of Syria:

After Tiberius became emperor, he twice appointed Lamia as his personal legate, first to Africa (19 CE) & then Syria (22 CE). The latter assignment, however, was in name only, since he was detained in Rome as Tiberius relinquished administration of the empire to the praetorian prefect, Sejanus, following the death of his own son. The absence of an imperial legate in Syria for a decade gave Pontius Pilate much greater autonomy than was usual for a military prefect of Judea.

Luke styles Quirinius as governor of Syria, and not of Judea. This is to say that he had direct charge over the province of Syria, but indirectly over Herod’s domain, as Herod was a client king of Rome. In reality Herod was a vassal or subject, and his independence was illusory, as Caesar had complete veto power over his will. Luke, as a historian, is not going to call Quirinius the governor of Syria unless he actually is the top man governing on the job. And this is a key point. During part of the inventory he was acting as a subordinate to Governor Saturninus, because Caius Sentius Saturninus was then Governor of Syria. Then Saturninus retired from the job, leaving Publius Sulpicius Quirinius as the new Governor of Syria. Later Quirinius was replaced by Publius Quinctilius Varus:

Date              Succession        Luke           Josephus
2BC spring        Saturninus        omits          Saturninus
2BC summer/fall   Quirinius         Quirinius      omits/implies non-existence
2BC late fall     Varus             omits          Varus

In Josephus Saturninus disappears from Syria after Ant. 17:57 in the late spring or summer of 2 BC. Saturninus was governor of Syria for all of 2 BC before this. Varus shows up in Ant. 17:89 in the late fall of 2 BC. Josephus says that he is succeeding Saturninus, but Josephus is incorrect. He is succeeding Quirinius. This is because Quirinius time was so short, and his role in history at this point very unexciting, and Josephus feels he has covered the inventory more sensationally with the refusal of the Pharisees to participate. Really, Josephus is only interested in telling the story of Antipater’s plotting against Herod, as related by Nicolaus of Damascus. Luke does tell us who the Governor of Syria was at the point in 2 BC where the people of Herod’s domain were inventoried. So there has to be a gap between Saturninus and Varus. If Quirinius were only a deputy of the real governor of Syria, then Luke would be bound not to call him governor of Syria. Luke is not the only one who says Quirinius was the actually governor. Aemilius Secundus confirms this previous governorship of Quirinius on Titulus Venetus:

Titulus Venetus
screen_shot_stellariumAemilius Secundus Epitaph
Q[uintus] Aemilius Secundus s[on] of Q[uintus],
of the tribe Palatina, who served in
the camps of the divine Aug[ustus] under
P. Sulpicius Quirinius, legate of
Caesar in Syria, decorated with honorary
distinctions, prefect of the
1st cohort Aug[usta], prefect of the
cohort II Classica. Besides,
by order of Quirinius I made the census in
Apamea of citizens
male 117 thousand.
Besides, sent on mission by Quirinius, against
the Itureans, on Mount Lebanon
I took their citadel. And prior
military service, (I was) Prefect of the workers,
detached by two co[nsul]s at the ‘aerarium
[The State Treasury]’. And in the colony,
quaestor, aedile twice, duumvir twice,
Here were deposited Q[uintus] Aemilius Secundus s[on] of Q[uintus], of the tribe
Pal[atina], (my) s[on] and Aemilia Chia (my) freed.
This m[onument] is excluded from the inh[eritance].

And that Quirinius was twice governor of Syria is confirmed on the Titulus Tiburtinus (after eliminating all other possibilities), i.e. “ONCE MORE SYRIA” (ITERUM SYRIA). The two inscriptions show that Quirinius served a full and appointed governorship, even though short, between Saturninus and Varus. Josephus is contradicted by the hard archaeological evidence. This totals up three witnesses that Quirinius was governor of Syria, twice recognized in inscriptions. If any other man had been over him, no family would have slighted such a person by putting a subordinate on the inscription instead of the real governor. I will discuss the Titulus Tiburtinus later in more detail, and the disputes about it, but now I am in danger of not making my point fast enough for the ordinary reader. So I will move to it at once.

Jospehus tells us that Antipater went to Rome in Ant. 17:52-54. A little later Governor Saturninus is mentioned on the job in Ant. 17:57. Then Josephus tells us that Antipater’s absence from Judea was seven months (Ant. 17:82). In Ant. 17:87-88 Antipater returns to Judea only to find the new Governor Varus and Nicolaus of Damascus ready to prosecute him for his murderous plots. Antipater is tried and found guilty. Varus concurs and returns to his office in Antioch. Herod writes to Caesar to get permission to have Antipater executed. The Roman post takes 8 weeks. Caesar takes a week to deliberate the case, and approves the execution. The return Roman post takes 8 weeks. Antipater is executed. Herod dies five days later. Since Herod died in late January of 1 BC, it is now obvious that the gap between the governors into which Quirinius steps occurs between April and October of 2 BC.

Thomas Lewin details the chronology of the year preceding Herod’s death correctly, as far as the details go, showing us where the gap is between the two governors without so much as placing any emphasis on it. Lewin, of course, has misplaced Herod’s death, so we can only use his relative chronology after correcting his overall dates. My corrections and key additions are in [].

900. If we can ascertain the time of Antipater’s return, the time of his departure from Judaea, seven months before, will follow, and the time of the return may be thus calculated. Within a day or two after Antipater’s arrival in Judaea, Herod wrote Augustus (see post, no. 901), and on the receipt of the answer from Augustus put Antipater to death; and five days after that, on 1 April, BC 4, Herod expired (see post, BC 4, no. 924).”[Lewin’s date has to be here corrected for 1 BC. His date corresponds to the 4th of Nisan, only 10 days before Passover, and creates insufferable chronological difficulties with Herod’s funeral. Lewin is constrained to place his death after the partial lunar eclipse early on March 13, 4 BC. The date of Josephus’ eclipse is corrected to the total eclipse on Jan. 9/10 1 BC. Accordingly the best date for Herod’s death is Jan. 28, 1 BC, corresponding to the 2 Adar in 1 BC. This dating is open to debate within a few weeks, but it will not affect the result.]

From Antipater’s return from Rome
  to the date of Herod’s dispatch
  to Augustus . . . . . . . . . .   2 days
Voyage of Herod’s messenger to 
  Rome . . . . . . . . . . . .      8 weeks
Time spent in Rome executing
  the commission . . . . . . .      1 week
Return of messenger from Rome .     8 weeks
Time from return to death of Herod  5 days
                                    18 weeks

“If Herod, therefore, died on 1 April, BC 4, [Jan. 28, 1 BC], the return of Antipater would be on 26 November [24 September].”

I should leave off quoting Lewin for a bit to calculate the correct date, i.e. to do the calculation for the correct year. Jan. 28, 1 BC was the 313th day of that year. 18 weeks is 126 days. So we are looking for the 187th day of the year. This would be Sept. 24, 2 BC. Now continuing with Lewin:

“That the return of Antipater was late in the year we should conjecture from the route taken by him, viz. by way of Cilicia. Had his return been in July or August, he wuld have sailed, by favour of the Etesian winds, for Egypt. Assuming the return of Antipater to have been on 26 November, BC 5 [24 Sept, 2 BC], his departure from Judea, which was seven months before, must have been about 26 April [24 February].”

My historical and seasonal sense here tells me that a full seven months is too much, or that the time for the Roman post was overestimated. It should rather be seven months by inclusive counting. Antipater, most likely, departed about the beginning of March. Thus the seven months are, March, April, May, June, July, Aug, Sept. The remark in Josephus runs as follows, “the previous seven months” (μησὶ πρότερον ἑπτὰ, Ant. 17:82). It may be that Lewin has allowed too much time for the Roman post. If Herod has put urgent on his message (i.e. hurry up Caesar, I’m on my death bed), and he had every right to do so, then a rush job could be done in six weeks each way. This would drop a whole month off the round trip time for the correspondence. The maximum rate of post travel is estimated at 64 miles/day. The average is put at 50 miles/day. The entire overland distance between Roman and Jerusalem was 2810 miles. At top speed: 2810/64 = 44 days. If the route is cut short with an Adriatic crossing, then the distance is 2363 miles. 2363/64 = 37 days. The average speed on the shorter route is regarded as 2363/50 = 47 days, or 56 days for the longer route, which corresponds to Lewin’s 8 weeks. So it is not impossible that Antipater left in Mid March, seven months pass, and then he returns, and then Herod dies late January 1 BC.

Governors of Syria
screen_shot_stellarium3 BC to AD 2

Here then are the key points. Sentius Saturninus is still on the job after Antipater leaves for Rome (Ant. 17:57). Therefore, he must have retired to Rome, and probably to Augustus’ celebrations in 2 BC sometime during the summer, leaving Quirinius as the governor of Syria to complete carrying out the inventory orders in Judea. When Antipater finally returns from Rome about Sept. 24, 2 BC, it is found that Quinctillius Varus is the new Governor of Syria. This date is based on the average speed of the Roman post using the long overland route. This means that Quirinius was for sure on the job in Syria administrating the inventory of Judea on Sept. 1, 2 BC. It also means that we was not Governor of Syria before the summer of 2 BC. A Jan 6. 2 BC, date for the birth, is accordingly ruled out by this additional evidence. In fact, any proposed birth day that is not between Saturninus’ departure and Varus’ arrival in Judea is disproved.

The far right column in the screen shot of the scroll has the procurators Sabinus and Volumnius. Next to this column are the Roman Governors of Syria, in order, reading down, 1. Sentius Saturninus Legatus, 2. Quirinius, 3. Varus, 4. Caius. In the middle columns can be see seen the 41st and 42nd years of Augustus. Messiah was born near the junction of his 41st and 42nd years, in AUC 752.

It should also be noted that the foregoing is not an invitation for an argument with traditionalist scholars who contradict Luke 3:1 and 3:23, and the information there about the 15th year of Tiberius, and the age of Yĕshūa̒, who place the birth of Mĕssiah in 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8 BC. Luke clearly puts the birth in 2 BC. Josephus’ eclipse constrains Herod’s death to 1 BC, and Matthew constrains Herod to die after Yĕshūa̒ is born. The date of Herod Philip’s death is correctly put to AD 35/36 in the 22nd year of Tiberius, as the pre 15th century copies of Josephus read, “twenty and two” and not just “twenty”, after a reign of 37 years (Ant. 18:106). The inception of his reign is accordingly 1 BC.

The Titulus Tiburtinus

This importance of this monument is that it establishes another witness that Quirinius was twice a governor of Syria. This supports Luke 2:2 and also the Titulus Venetus, the ephtaph of Aemilius Secundus.

Titulus Tibertinus
screen_shot_stellariumWho is it?
Reconstructed Tibertinus
screen_shot_stellariumFrom Gerard Gertoux’s paper

I supply Gerard Gertoux’s reconstruction above from his paper, “Dating the two Censuses of P. Sulpicius Quirinius.” We should have some sympathy for this person as he lives in an academic climate secular humanists who turn a blind eye toward evidence and explanations that support Scripture. Therefore, they will not give him the Ph.d. that he rightfully deserves. Of course there is a dispute about who this archaeological remain refers to, but we really have to clear the field of the humanists and their atheistic bias, who really have no interest in confirming that Quirinius was twice governor of Syria, once for a short time in the summer and early fall of 2 BC, and again from AD 6 to 12.

The candidates for the man on the tablet are 1. P.S. Quirinius, 2. C.S. Saturninus, 3. L.C. Piso Pontifex, and P.Q. Varus. The first thing to notice is that the tablet contains the words, “DIVI AVGVSTI” (the divine Augustus). Augustus was not made a Roman deity until after he died, and this was in AD 14. The words occur in the body of the text, and therefore were not added afterward. Please note that only the words in the black text, not in [ ], are actually translated from the tablet. The rest is reconstruction, and a very logical reconstruction I would say, based on the logical conclusion. But I will not explain the reasoning from the reconstructed part. The words DIVI AUGUSTI show that the tablet was inscribed after AD 14. This certainly eliminates P.Q. Varus from the competition. Governor Varus perished in AD 9 in the infamous defeat of the Roman legions under him by the Germans in the Tetuoburg Forest. The loss was unforgivable to Augustus. According to Suetonius, Augustus was so shaken that he stood butting his head against the walls of his palace, repeatedly shouting: “Quintili Vare, legiones redde!” ('Quintilius Varus, give me back my legions!'). The disgrace was so complete that even the Legion numbers XVII, and XIX were not used again by the Romans. No. XVIII was only briefly reused by Nero, who clearly was a nut case. Rome only recovered Varus’ head because the Germans sent that part of the body to Rome. “When Varus’ disembodied head was presented to Marobonduus of the Macromanni, the German chieftain immediately ordered it to be sent to Rome where Augustus ordered that it be interred within his family’s vault with all due honour and ceremony. It may be that that this reaction was due to familial ties, but at the time when Varus’ posterity could easily have been blackened, the Emperor publically refrained from vilifying at least one of the fallen” (Teutoburg Forest, AD 9: The Destruction of Varus and His Legions, Michael McNally). Therefore, Varus was buried with his honors while Augustus still lived. It is likely then that every monument that was going to be made for Varus was made before Augustus was made a deity. The inscription also implies that a king was subdued. Varus does not qualify for this.

I will here reproduce some of Gerard’s remarks:

“According to epigraphy the word iterum "again" means the renewal of a same term of office in the same place31. For example: duumvir iterum in Pompeii (AE 1898 p. 143), or: optinuit ... procos. iterum designating Publius Paquius Scaeva as "again" proconsul of Cyprus. When it means a second term of office at a different location, not a renewal at the same place, inscriptions include "II" or "bis". For example, Q. Varius Geminus, who was legate twice, has stated it under the form: leg. divi Aug. II and Q. Caerellius, who was three times legate wrote it as: legato pro pr. ter. This detail eliminates Governor Gaius Saturninus Sentius because, assuming a second legation in Syria between 4 and 1 BCE, the double legation would be after his proconsulship of Asia, while the inscription of Tibur explicitly shows that the proconsulship of Asia was framed by the double legation in Syria32 . In addition, it is not Saturninus who fought king Maraboduus, but Tiberius, according to Tacitus (Annals II:63).

Saturninus also died in AD 7, and so we would not expect to see DIVI AUGUSTI on his monument. Gerard continues, “Four points identify Quirinius as the unknown of the inscription:

1. The king who was avenged is identifiable (Amyntas).
2. The people reinstated to Rome is identifiable (Homonadeis).
3. Quirinius died after 14 CE (in 21).
4. The last legation of Quirinius (the most prestigious) is his governorate of Syria.”

“Those who prefer to translate iterum by "second" instead of "again" to apply it to Piso Pontifex must assume that this legate could not count correctly. In fact, he was governor of Pamphylia (attached to Galatia) from 14 to 12 BCE, then governor of Moesia from 12 to 10 BCE and, finally, he would have been governor of Syria from 4 to 1 BCE, which would be a total of three legations, not two.”

Finally, it has come to my attention that Varus was only governor of Syria once. The alleged governorship before Saturninus is an illusion based on the misdating of three Varro coins to Varus, whose names appear exactly alike in Greek. The matter is fully explained in Edward Greswell’s Dissertations (Oxford, 1837). The thick of the discussion is on about page 525. The traditional theory relies on three coins that were supposed to be dated to Varus to establish a governorship in the Actian years 25, 26, and 27 (i.e. BC 6-4.). This creates a severe problem for those putting the death of Herod in 4 BC because the assumed coins imply that Varus was governor when Herod sent his son to Rome instead of Saturninus as Josephus states. Greswell solves the problem for 4 BC advocates, and as a spin off solves the problem for eveyone else also. The coins belong to Varro from 25 to 22 BC, and are dated by the Caesarian Era, and not the Actian Era. Since Josephus and no other written source actually mention Varus being governor twice, the necessity to assume it goes up in smoke. On the other hand, Josephus does mention Varro, and history does place him right where the coins should be when they are dated on the Caesarian Era.

So we can eliminate Varus from the Titulus Tiburtinus. He simply did not have two governorships of Syria.

                           Quirinius        Saturninus       Varus          Piso
Death after 14 AD          YES              NO               NO             YES
Last Legation Syria?       YES              YES              NO             NO
Legate of Syria 1          2 BC             5-2 BC           1 BC-AD 1      No
Legate of Syria 2          AD 6-10          NO               NO             NO   
Defeated a King?           Amyntas          NO  (truce)      NO (revolt)    NO  

The Scroll of Fasting and the Slaughter in Bethlehem

Megillat Taanit was composed in the 2nd Temple period not long after the end of the incident with Caligula’s statue (AD 40). The Scroll is really misnamed. It is not a scroll of dates requiring fasting. It is a scroll of dates on which fasting is forbidden! The dates given are dates when Israel’s enemies suffered defeats, and therefore were billed as days of rejoicing. Therefore, fasting and eulogies for the dead were forbidden. There are a couple of dates which are listed, for which no reason is given. One of the dates is Shebat 2. This date has often been identified as the day that Herod died. But this date cannot be the day he died. In 2 BC, Shebat 2 fell on December 30th. Josephus’s eclipse was on Jan. 9/10, 1 BC. And Herod died after the eclipse.

We are faced with two possibilities. Either the date was miscalculated by a month due to the closeness of Nisan 15 to the spring equinox in 2 BC, or the date is not in fact the date of Herod’s death. What then is the date the anniversary of? The date corresponds to the day that Herod murdered all boy children under 24 months in Bethlehem and the surrounding countryside. The Magi arrived in Jerusalem on December 27th. At almost midnight on the 27th, the star (Jupiter) stopped moving among the stars. They set out for Bethlehem on the 28th, and the Magi had noted the cessation of prograde motion. In the evening of the 28th was the new moon, and they found the Messiah (probably when the star rose in the east over the house), and spent the new moon day worshiping, and giving gifts, and probably feasting the family. They left around noon on the 29th, having been warned to leave another way, and not to go back to Herod in the night of the 28th. The next night Yōsef had a dream about the danger they were in, and they fled to Egypt by night. In the morning on December the 30th, Herod’s soldiers began seeking out and murdering all the boys under two years of age. The date was the second day of the month.

How then did this date make it into a Jewish list of days on which NOT to fast? It is certain that Shebat 2 was a day of fasting and mourning in Bethlehem and the countryside round about for many years. Matthew spelled out the reasons this event happened, but many in Judea would have known that the reason for the slaughter was that Herod thought the Mĕssiah had been born, and was trying to murder him before he became a threat. It was no secret that the Magi had arrived in Jerusalem announcing a new king only about a month before Herod died. It was also no secret that Herod has murdered most of his heirs, and that the matter of succession was being decided by Caesar, or had been decided, and the notice was in the post. Even if the historians passed over the slaughter of the children, the event would have made national news. It would have been front page news in Judea, at least until the incident with the Rabbis inciting the young men to tear down an idolatrous emblem of Herod in the Temple. Any news that made Herod look more evil was front page gossip.

It must be considered that making the day of Herod’s death a day of rejoicing in perpetuity was not politically correct. The Judeans had Archelaus to deal with afterward. They may have rejoiced briefly until the war of Varus was over. The whole idea of rejoicing on days when bad things happen to one’s enemies is certainly the less noble of two choices. Better to fast on the days that bad things happened to one’s own people, and to rejoice on Yăhwēh’s appointed times. It is not very spiritual to rejoice over the downfall of men. It is almost certain that many had a better idea than to rejoice on the day of Herod’s death, and that was to mourn on the day that he murdered all the children in Bethlehem. Matthew is not reporting an unbelievable event. He is reminding his readers of a well known event. It’s loss to history is simply because the truth fell through the pages of those historians who did not want to remember it.

If it was a day of mourning, then clearly the act of mourning annually would draw attention to the reason for the slaughter. And that was clear enough. Herod was looking for the new King, the one the Magi had said was Messiah. It is even possible that the Jewish Christians joined in sympathy with the mourning and made it a fast day. Among the unbelieving Jews, then, this fast day, and the slaughter of the innocents would quickly become the unmentionable fast day, marked by the ignorant country hicks in Bethlehem, and the crafty Nazarenes. As attitudes in Judea hardened against Mĕssiah and the Jewish believers, it makes sense that fasting and mourning on this day would be forbidden. It also makes sense that after AD 40, then Caligula was eliminated, and the relatively peaceful rule of Claudius began, and especially after the Herod Agrippa had died in AD 44, that the Jews would no longer fear rejoicing over Herod the Great’s death. Josephus certainly includes a lot of negative commetary on Herod much later. Nicolaus of Damascus certainly did not. It was then suggested that Shebbat 2 be a day of rejoicing over the death of Herod, and therefore, this was entered into the Scroll of (not) Fasting by the Pharisees as the day to celebrate Herod’s death, even though it was a month earlier. It served to get rid of an actual fast on behalf of Messiah, and to blot out the memory of it. It also explains why the reason for Shebat 2 is not listed in the Scroll.

It could of course be that Shebat 2 is some completely other lost date. But the speculation that it was Herod’s death date has almost been never accepted as a fact by scholars, and scholars have felt free to propose many other dates for Herod’s death. One thing is for sure, now that we know when Josephus’s eclipse was. Shebat 2 was not the date of Herod’s death.

I propose then that Shebat 1 be a day of feasting to memorialize the visit of the Magi, and that if one must fast, then Shebat 2 can be a day of fasting to work off all the extra calories, and to solemnly remember those who lost their lives.

The New Moon and Jupiter or Dec. 25

Rick Larson attempts to use the retrograde motion of Jupiter in December 2 BC to explain December 25th and Christmas. I demonstrate that he speculates more than he admits, and that there is a better explanation that highlights Scriptural appointed times and seasons, and not ones derived from paganism.

Stellarium 0.12.4
screen_shot_stellarium2Sept. 12, 3 BC, 6h:4m

Rick Larson in the “Star of Bethlehem” video narrates beginning at about 40-45:00 minutes:

“What he’s describing is the birth of Jesus. But he sees it in the heavens. I’m gonna show you something now that just really got all the hairs up on the back of my head and my arm, and uh, Because what follows Jupiter into the sky as we animate the sky is Virgo, the virgin. And she’s clothed in the sun. And she has the moon at her feet, just a crescent moon, a very small crescent barely invisible moon, the reason for that, this is Jewish new year Rosh Hashanah.

Larson shows the morning of Sept 12, 3 B.C. using Starry Night, a program I do not have. I show his scene in Stellarium with the atmosphere off, to show where the moon should be. With the atmosphere on, the moon disappears. But note that he has mistranslated Rev. 12:1. The text says the moon was “under her feet” (ὑποκάτω) = underneath, below. If he had shown the scene from the evening before, the moon would not have been underneath the feet then either, since the correct date was in 2 BC. He does mention that the moon is invisible. The text says:

“And a great sign was seen in the heaven, a woman having been clothed with the sun, and the moon underneath her feet, and upon her head, a crown of twelve starts” (Rev. 12:1).

Correct Alignment
Moon under legs of
reclining woman in labor

screen_shot_stellarium2Aug. 31st, 2 BC

The various elements of the sign were seen. The head and feet of Virgo are seen before sunrise and after sunset, or that is the stars representing those parts of the constellation. The midsection has to be seen at another time of year, because at this time it is clothed with the sun. The moon under the feet has to be seen just after sunset, because this is when the new moon is sighted by those who see it. And the twelve stars over the head have to be viewed before sunrise. The only elements relevant to the timing of the sign are the position of the sun and the position of the moon. And the moon is the most sensitive, since it moves the fastest. The only location that the moon can be seen is after sunset, so it is seeing the moon under the feet after sunset that the sign is indicating, and not after sunrise, when the moon cannot be seen! The reason Larson has to show a daytime shot after sunrise is because in Sept. 3 BC, the daytime is the only time that the (invisible) moon is located under the feet, from the the point of view of English. And Larson translates it “at the feet” lest we picture the moon under her heel or shoe. The moon is never truly under her feet in the way normal English is used. This is why we must understand that “feet” in Hebrew also means “legs.” When the moon is under the legs, then the woman can be lying down, as in a birthing position with the legs elevated. In that case the bedsheets are under the legs of the woman or under her bent knee. This is where the moon was seen just after sunset on 8/31/2 BC. It was not seen there on 9/11/3BC after sunset or on 9/12/3 BC after sunrise, or on 9/12/3 BC after sunset. The moon entirely misses being under the legs. This is why Larson has to show us a daytime shot in which the moon is invisible, and then he has to mistranslate “at her feet.” The solution is to realize that foot means leg in Hebrew. One can see this usage in Exodus 25:26 for the table of the bread of faces in the Tabernacle, “And you will have put the rings on the four corners, which are at the four feet (legs, רֶגֶל) of it.” But it is clear from the next verse that the rings are put at the top of the legs below the crown molding! For this reason the word “feet” is actually misleading. Larson continues to narrate:

The sheer weight of the symbolism in the sky on this day blew me away. (45:32) In September of 3 BC, when Jupiter is coming in close conjunction with Regulus, the king planet, the king star, that happening in Leo, the lion, representing the nation of Judah, the tribe of Judah, that rises in the sky, and behind it rises Virgo, the virgin, and she’s clothed in the sun. And she has the moon at her feet. It’s exactly what John describes in Revelation 12. It’s what he saw in his vision. It’s obvious. That got me. When I ran time forward and saw that rise, and realized, oh my goodness, that’s what John saw. There it is. That’s what really let all the hairs come up. I’m looking at all this stuff happening, and you know, and really moving me, and I’m thinking and man, this may be the birth of Jesus, then I thought wait a minute, maybe not, because Jewish people, and a lot of Christian people believe that life begins at conception. So I thought to myself, might be, this is the conception of Jesus. Maybe this is the Annunciation when Gabriel appeared to Mary, and she said be it done unto me.”

This is the theory that Larson appears to believe himself. It effectively diverts the audience away from the true Tishri 1 birth date. But the text does not say Miryam was laboring to conceive. It says, “She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth” (Rev. 12:2, ESV). Larson is blinded to this fact, which utterly refutes his speculation.

Jupiter Venus Conjunction
screen_shot_stellarium2June 17, 2 BC

After this Larson proceeds forward by 9 months to look at the June 17th, 2 BC conjunction. Now if the conception was on Sept 11, 3 B.C. then this would be 9 months later. Let’s now pick up the narration at about 50:36, “I’ll animate Jupiter and let it drop a tail....Jupiter comes to a full stop, and reverses course...The date when it stops over the little town of Bethlehem is (51:16) 12/25 of 2 BC. Does that date sound familiar? Well Mr. Larson do you mean they went down there on Christmas? Well it turns out that’s true. Am I saying Jesus was born on 12/25? No, I’m not saying that at all...In fact I don’t think anyone thinks that...What I am saying that this is quite possibly the date of the first Christmas....It had no meaning to them. But it does have meaning to us. It could well be a sign to us....They ride down to Bethlehem on 12/25 BC (52:40). We know that’s the date, because that’s when the star stopped. They’re carrying gifts, remember?...He’s a toddler (52:56)...on what turns out to be the first Christmas, 12/25 2 BC. (Please note that the video time indexes are only approximate. I have often caught the video chronometer out of synchronization.)

Larson Screen Shot

Is it true that Jupiter stopped on 12/25 2 BC. Well, not exactly. Larson has conveniently picked the date out of a range of dates when Jupiter was slowing and reversing. And 12/25 did not mark the moment of exact reversal. The moment of the exact stationary point was 12/27 @ 22h 52m give or take an hour. The shot at the left is from Larson’s video. I added the pearl chain of white dots to the left. He ran this by the viewers so fast that it takes a quick hand on the pause button to capture it. His dots (not mine) are drawn at 2 day intervals, 12/19, 12/21, 12/23, 12/25, 12/27 [not labeled], 12/29, 12/31 [not labeled], 1/2, 1/4. The animation was from Starry Night. I have drawn in the chain of white dots to show more what Jupiter’s path should look like. The vertex (apex) of the curve defines the stopping point of Jupiter. In Larson’s video, 12/25 is the very bottom dot in the screen shot. Starry Night then tried to draw the apex of the curve as an almost straight line. This was incorrect, and is probably due to software engineering limits. One can clearly see, that Larson’s Starry Night simulation demands more investigation before concluding that Matthew is for certain saying the Magi saw the star stop on 12/25. I should also add that the Magi probably would not be able to tell which day Jupiter stopped on, because it was moving so slowly, and it requires instruments they did not have, and calculation ability they did not have to determine exactly when it stopped.

Cartes du Ciel: low in the east
screen_shot_stellarium2Rising Observations @11 p.m.

I used Cartes du Ciel to get a more accurate picture of Jupiter’s stationary point. The apex of the curve is plotted at 12/27 22h:58m here. The positions on 12/24 @22:58 and 12/25 @22:58 are drawn to the right. There are clearly three positions closer to the apex than 12/25: 12/26, 12/27, 12/28. The observation here would have been the Magi’s observation of Jupiter after its rising at about 11 p.m. The successive points are a day apart, so at 11 p.m. each night after it rose, they would see the planet in the successive positions low on the eastern horizon. It is quite evident that on 12/25 at this observation time, Jupiter is not standing up against the background of the stars. In fact it is still moving down. And it clearly only begins to stand up on 12/28. Each night Jupiter rises in the east around 11 p.m., and climbs to zenith and a little past, and then the rising sun outshines when it has reached about 240 degrees.

Positions 1 hour before sunrise extinction; High SW
screen_shot_stellarium2About an hour before sunrise extinction

The shot at the right is about an hour before the sun rises and outshines Jupiter. Observe that the retrograde curve has now turned on its side, and the 12/25 position is still not at the apex. The only position that is unique is 12/28 when Jupiter is at the apex of the curve. In the first chart for the 11 p.m. observations above, one could argue that the planet is stopping or standing for 12/27, 12/28, and onward. After waiting about six hours or so till these pre-dawn observations, one could argue that either 1. the planet is always standing up since it is always higher in successive positions, or 2. that it appears to stand straight up mostly on 12/27, 12/28, and 12/29. Picking 12/25 out of the hat is not the most logical choice here. 12/27 or 12/28 has better credentials. None of the other hours between rising and dawn extinction afford any better advantage to 12/25.

There are a lot of people doing astrology these days, even Christians. Astrology is a forbidden practice in the Scripture, so I should explain what astrology is. Astrology is using the signs in the heavens to suggest that certain prophetical events are being predicted by them. The stars predict nothing and presage nothing other than what they were created for, which is to mark times of the calendar, namely days, new moons, years, and feast or fast days. The use of astronomical symbolism to illustrate historical truth or mark the time of historical events is not astrology. There are those in astrology who do not predict the future, but they suggest that existing or past astronomical signs mean certain things for individuals consulting them, as if the signs have the power to define a meaning for the life of an individual. This is what horoscope casters do. One cannot predict the future, and one cannot say that heavenly signs have any deterministic value for people seeking it.

The star of Bethlehem did not determine when the birth of Mĕssiah would be. The Almĭghty determined the time. It also appears that the Almĭghty arranged things so that the stars would line up before, during, and after his birth. This is to say that He has power over the historical events and timings, and he has power over the astronomical events and timings. And he can surely use the astronomical symbolism to illustrate the historical events. Human beings have no power to influence the stars, nor the stars to influence them in any way that a human prophet can predict or determine. Yes, if you see an asteroid coming at you at Mach 500, you might have time to predict it will hit you before it does. What I am doing then, and what Matthew was doing, was only reporting what caught the attention of the Magi, or what was likely to catch their attention, and what likely motivated them to think that they had messianic meaning. They were engaging in a forbidden practice. And even if the Almĭghty played along with them for the birth of Mĕssiah, I firmly believe that we should not follow their example at all in thinking that we can understand prophecy by watching the stars, in any sense, other than the marking of times, days, months, years, seasonal changes, new moons, feast days. Sometimes I do speculate on the meaning an astrologer might put on a particular astrological event. We can calculate when such events happen, and this is not speculation. For example, Jupiter went past the star Regulus three times. We can say when this happened. We can well guess what the Magi thought of this (this is less speculative), we can even speculate that the Almĭghty put the event in their path to get noticed. This is where I draw the line. 1. Assigning any value to future astronomical calculations other than to set ordinary times and seasons is astrology. 2. Saying such signs mean anything for the future beyond setting times and seasons is astrology. 3. Illustrating past events using astrological terms or symbolism is not forbidden astrology. The terms and symbols of astrology are also common to legitimate astronomy. Revelation 12:1-3 is not astrology because it uses the terms and symbolism to indicate the time of the birth, nor is it astrology to illustrate the virgin Miryam with the constellation Virgo, or other messianic prophesies the seed, or the branch.

Location of observer, Not Known
screen_shot_stellarium2Sept 23, 2017
Location: Jerusalem
screen_shot_stellarium2Sept 23, 2017

We can show what astrology is using an example. The author of the shot at the left claims boldly, “The Great Sign of Revelation 12 occurs in 2017” (Source). This headline is a lie by omitting the relevant truth. The same sign occurs in many other years also, and by virtue of that fact, it has no prognosticating value whatsoever. The caption on the shot reads, “10:30 am PDT or equivalent time of 8:30 pm Jerusalem time September 23, 2017.” A little investigation shows that the shot is not from Jerusalem at all. In fact the scene cannot be seen from Jerusalem on that date. The author has selected a location at a different time when the moon is better under the foot, and then he appears to have moved the latitude way north to tip the moon under the foot rather than just be beside it. On the right is my shot on the same date in the morning from Jerusalem. Notice that the moon is not under the foot. Also, like Larson’s shot, this moon is invisible. The fraud lies in the fact that the 2017 scene is treated as unique, and that a virtually arbitrary time and location had to be picked to make it correspond to Rev. 12:1-2. As far as we know, John only meant to mark the time of Mĕssiah’s birth with the sign, and to use some of the astronomical symbolism in the passage. Let’s listen in on the author’s narrative:

“Some months ago it was circulating that the first eclipse of 2014-2015’s lunar tetrad demonstrated the possible start of the Tribulation. This is because the first eclipse came 1,260 days before the coming appearance of a sign that looks to be the fulfillment of Revelation 12. It was concluded that this sign on September 23, 2017 was the possible mid-point of the Tribulation with the Tribulation running from April 2014 to April of 2021. ...Further, it can be discounted now since we are not in the Tribulation and the eclipse has passed. However, the heavenly sign itself on September 23, 2017 does look to be the sign of Revelation 12.”

See the problem? I have italicized key words. The author expects eclipses to “demonstrate” something, and then discounts them when they don’t. The whole operation here is an attempt to button up patterns and numbers to suggest that the large number of correspondences are a wizened prophetical speculation. But the whole thing is fraud. Skipping on a bit further:

While perusing through Jupiter’s position among the stars, there was something else that presented itself. On the 9th of Av 2024, Jupiter will be in the sign of Taurus. It will be between the horns. The common Hebrew name for Taurus is Shur, which can mean both coming and ruling or in other words, the coming judge. In short, Taurus represents the coming governor, Jesus Christ, with his congregation (meaning of Pleiades).

On the day known for Jewish sorrow due to the number of calamities that have fallen on this day, Mars comes into conjunction with Jupiter beteween the horns. Mars, in Hebrew Ma’adim, meaning the Adam, the Red One or the Son of Man. On this day it is believed there will be 60 days left of the Tribulation. This sign looks to speak of that time when Jesus will shortly return to end the Tribulation with the Church accompanying him.

Yes, the author is trying to “read” the stars. I have highlighted the the key phrase. Astrologers love to use subjunctive language, may, believe, might, etc. to make their forecasts. This is to save their prophetical hide when things do not come out. But the whole method of using symbolism to speculate about times and seasons in the future is pure fraud. It is unscientific garbage having the appearance of wisdom, but is full of lies. This is the bread and butter of astrology! On the other hand, using the symbolism to mark a known time, or to illustrate actual messianic prophecy, and I don’t mean the symbolism adds anything at all to the validity of the prophecy. It just illustrates it. The virgin birth does not need Virgo. Virgo just illustrates it, and the time of it. That’s all. We do not extract prophetical timings from the heavens. They add nothing to the Scripture. Scripture must be understood by Scripture, and not by constantly repeating astronomical patterns. Scripture can use astronomy to set timings, but the tools of timing and symbolism do not determine when or what will happen. Even though the Magi believed this, it is not thereby made legitimate.

Mathew 2:9, “After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they saw when it rose, had been going before them, until coming, it was stood over the place where the child was.”

It is generally agreed that the Magi took many months in their journey from the east. Ezra took 4 months, and the Magi probably came from further east than Babylonia. They came from Parthia. Their journey could easily have taken six months from around mid June of 2 BC. When they reached the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, they would have traveled northwest along the fertile crescent roads until they reached Syria, at which point they would turn south along the coast for the last leg of their journey. A key point to know is that even though they were from the east, the usual route for travel to Jerusalem was not west. It was northwest, and then south. For at least a month of their journey, they would travel southward along the coast toward Jerusalem. During this time they would observe the star Jupiter in mid November of 2 BC bearing south east about an hour before dawn. Being astronomers they rose early to make observations, and then they set out on their journey southward along the coast in the direction of the planet. By December 1, they were making their pre-dawn observation of Jupiter due south, and they still set off in the direction of the planet for their daily travels. During the daytime, the planet disappeared from view as the rising sun outshone it. But every morning, before dawn, it would be there in the south, in the direction they were going.

Jupiter was not leading them, but in allowable language, it was “going before them” (προῆγεν αὐτούς, Matthew 2:9). In Matthew 14:22, Yĕshūa̒ sends his disciples before him or ahead of him. The disciples were clearly not leading him. He was leading them, but they were going before him. So we can dismiss the notion that they were using the planet as a trail guide. Interestingly, though, it was going before them, much like a full moon, which appears on a highway at night in front of a driver appears to keep moving before him. To explain Matthew’s report requires no more than that the Magi have reported to Miryam and Yōsef that the star had been before them during the last month of their journey. For everytime they rose in the predawn to observe, there it lay in the direction of their travel.

It may seem difficult to some that the statement about the star going before them comes after their inquiry at Jerusalem. But this is easily met by observing the verb is in the imperfect: προῆγεν. What this means is that it is a progressive past tense, and a past perfect progressive is the way to translate it, i.e. “had been going before them.” The tense serves to indicate the past of the past in a narrative. The remark applies to the time before they reached Jerusalem, and also the time time after they left. The star still appeared in the south (toward Bethlehem), and in their direction of travel.

They saw the star when it rose. When did the star rise? The simplest explanation here is that they saw it rise after sunset before they lay down in their camp for the night, if they stayed up late enough to see the rising. On 12/19 2 BC it rose not more than 8 hours before dawn. They would have been able to see the planet when they turned in, and also before dawn when they rose. When they went to bed, they would see it in the east. When they rose, they would see it south, ready to go before them in their day of travel. So when they said they saw the star rise, well they saw it rise every evening. There is a second sense of rising that is known to astronomers, and would be known to these Magi also. When a planetary star disappears behind the sun (or in front of it), then it is said to die, and when it reappears, rising out of the sun, it is said to be reborn. This is called a helical rising. The last helical rising of Jupiter occurred around 9/1/2 BC, just when Mĕssiah was born. So this may be what they were referring to when they say they saw his star rise.

“It was stood over the place where the child was.” Of course any astronomical body way overhead is going to appear to be over a place looking southward. But it never appears to stand over a place until you almost reach the place, or at least you have to see the houses of the place in the distance, with the star over it. And when you reach the place, and are still looking at it in the south, in a pre-dawn observation, then it appears to be standing over some other place further south. In this sense then it only appears to be over the place momentarily when one is in the right orientation with the place and the star.

But these Magi knew about the reversing of the motion of the planets among the stars, and that at the moment of reversing they come to a standing place, or even a standing up place. They had been watching Jupiter for almost 4 months move eastward from near the head of Virgo, to the shoulder, and down the arm, and then when they reached Bethlehem to begin their search, Jupiter stopped, or in the language of astronomers began its “retrograde” movement. Jupiter began to move backward against the stars. This motion is what makes planets appear to do backward and forward loops when plotted relative to the stars. The motion is really an illusion caused by earth’s motion around the sun. But to the Magi it looks like the planet is stopping and reversing direction. This is the first time it happened since they saw it rising out of the sun, and right when they are about to find the child. From their point of view it is a “sign.” From our point of view, it appears that the Almĭghty had decided to indulge them in their astrological fancy.

Matthew’s report, therefore, is easily explained. The Magi would have informed Miryam and Yōsef that the star had now stopped moving, and that they were at the end of their journey. And the star just happened to stop when they were at the end of it, as Matthew records. The language is not meant to tell us that the star located the house they were in. It is meant to tell us that Jupiters stopping among the stars coincidentally agreed with the time of their finding Mĕssiah. Of course, if the Almĭghty arranged it to happen that way, then its not a coincidence. It appears not to be, but we should be careful never to depend on a star to do anything except keep time, shine, and perhaps go super nova. Certainly we should not be using astrological reasoning on it. The Magi did, but Matthew is only reporting what they did, and hinting that just this once the Almĭghty indulged them.

What we want to look at now is the timing of the matter. As already noted, the stopping point (or standing point) was not on December 25th. It appears that they reached the place on the 28th of December. We are not told how long they stayed. But at sunset on the 28th, they would have seen the new moon. The new moon was seen at the arrow: ↑. The star stopped at the diamond: ♦. They spent the 28th looking around Bethlehem for the child and the right house, and then on the new moon day they worshiped the Mĕssiah, and presented their gifts.

Month: XI SHEBAT, 2 BC    4138 A.M. Sab. Cyc: 2. Jub. Cyc: 23 Cycle No: 84
Q1: 1.296 A Q2: -0.239 E LG: 104m W: 1.013' AL: 21.3 AV: 19.0
Sunset times for longitude: -86.90 and latitude 45.37
New Moon calculated for longitude: 35.17 and latitude 31.77
Location of calculations: Jerusalem Author: Daniel Gregg

        I        II        III       IV         V        VI        VII
 ♦         ↑   │   1     │   2     │   3     │   4     │   5     │   6     │
       SHEBAT  │New Moon │         │         │         │         │         │
DEC  │ DEC 28  │ DEC 29  │         │         │         │         │         │
27th │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │   7     │   8     │   9     │  10     │  11     │  12     │  13     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │  14     │  15     │  16     │  17     │  18     │  19     │  20     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │  21     │  22     │  23     │  24     │  25     │  26     │  27     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │  28     │  29 ↑   │
     │         │         │
     │         │         │
     │         │         │

Remarks on Danny Faulkner’s, evaluation of Rick Larson’s DVD

Danny Faulkner is probably one of the most widely known Creationist Astronomers. He reviewed Rick Larson’s The Star of Bethlehem DVD for answersingenesis. The review may be found here. This review, of course, is more a review of Danny Faulkner’s explanations, which are very common, than of Larson. Larson’s success encouraged Faulkner to talk about it, and put his ideas forth. Faulkner states:

Jan 9, 1 BC Eclipse, 3h:20m
screen_shot_stellarium2Recorded by Josephus
March 13, 4 BC Eclipse, 2h:10m
screen_shot_stellarium2Historians Error

“One must know at least the approximate date of the birth of Jesus in order to compute a possible natural astronomical event as the star of Bethlehem. Since Matthew chapter (two) requires that Jesus was born before the death of Herod, the time of Herod’s death is very important in this calculation (Herod ordered the baby boys in Bethlehem up to the age of two years old killed). Josephus reported that Herod died near the time of Passover and that there was a lunar eclipse visible from Israel shortly before Herod’s death. Astronomers and historians have long known that there was a partial eclipse of the moon visible from Jerusalem on March 13, 4 BC, which was a month before Passover, so most historians date Herod’s death to that year. Thus, most historians conclude that Jesus was born about 5 BC or possibly a year or two earlier” (Faulkner).

Why is the 4 BC eclipse an error? The answer is simple. It flat out contradicts Luke 3:1 and 3:23. Luke 3:1 says that Yōḥanan began his ministry in the 15th year of Tiberius, and this according to Roman Historians was from the fall of AD 28 to the fall of AD 29. There are no disagreements among the Roman historians on this, and no alternative dating for the 15th year, as all of them date Tiberius reign from the fall of AD 14. Luke 3:1 says that Yĕshūa̒ was “about 30 years of age” when he was immersed by Yoḥanan, and this was after the 15th year of Tiberius had been going on for a while. This can only mean, then, that Tishri 1 of AD 29 was Mĕssiah’s 30th birthday. Working backward from there puts his birth on Tishri 1, 2 BC.

Faulkner does not inform us of these facts. Here merely favors the historians’ consensus, and that since Herod must have died in 4 BC that Yĕshūa̒ must have been born before then. He does inform us of the alternative 1 BC dating for the eclipse and Herod’s death, and then remarks, “We cannot be totally certain about either date, but most historians still favor the traditional 4 BC date. This is important, for all of what Larson claims relies upon the later date of Herod’s death. If Herod died in 4 BC, then nothing else that Larson claims can be relevant.” But since he has not mentioned Luke 3:1 or 3:23, he has omitted exactly the needed information to make the choice certain. Faulkner’s next remark sounds obfuscatory:

“The sun was in Virgo (the virgin), and the crescent moon was below the virgin, though not visible in the morning when Jupiter was visible, but visible in the evening to mark Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the first month of the Jewish civil new year. Larson believes that this arrangement is what Revelation 12: 1–5 is referring to, though few, if any, commentaries endorse this view. True, most commentators think that Revelation 12:1–5 does speak of the birth of Jesus, but the passage speaks of far more. For instance, the child born in Revelation 12:5 certainly refers to Jesus, but the woman mentioned in these verses is almost certainly not Mary alone, as would be required by Larson’s teaching (though this is the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church). There is much symbolism here, and making direct correspondences here can lead one astray. Making what appear to be direct astrological parallels appears dangerous and even unbiblical. Furthermore, the circumstances described here by Larson are not that unusual. The thin waxing crescent moon is in this part of the sky every year at Rosh Hashanah. Every twelve years Jupiter is near Regulus and is so for much of a year, so the circumstances Larson describes for this happen every twelfth year, which is not as remarkable as Larson implies to his audience.”

Faulkner appears to have lost his common sense here. First of all, the argument based on what most commentators do not think is not relevant. The Rev. 12:1-2 text says what it thinks! The virgin bearing Mĕssiah was in labor on Tishri 1. Faulkner argues that since it does not only refer to Miryam in the symbolism that therefore Larson’s dating argument is invalid. I have highlighted the statement. Faulkner has leaped off the logical cliff here. As far as Tishri 1 is concerned Larson is correct, though he got his view from Ernest L. Martin. Only the choice of 3 BC is incorrect. Faulkner clearly is ignoring the text just as much as Larson did. Larson converted it to a conception date, and Faulkner things it cannot refer to a birth date because the woman surely represents other entities in addition to Miryam! Faulkner believes the symbolism is misleading. But as far as astronomy goes, there is only one woman that can be clothed with the sun and have the moon under her legs, and that is Virgo with the sun in the constellation, and the moon nearby. There is no ambiguity or guesswork in that combination of pictures. Larson indeed makes some astrological parallels, and this is surely incorrect with respect to Jupiter, Leo, and Regulus, if Larson means to endorse the interpretations, but this is not mentioned in Rev. 12:1-2, and has nothing to do with the timing. Larson is off the hook if he is only reporting what the Magi may have thought, but Faulkner is probably correct in suggesting Larson has adopted the Magi’s reasoning as a valid approach to matters. Now even though Faulkner correctly points out that the circumstances are not unique to Sept. 12, 3 BC, he does confirm that they are unique to Tishri 1! The actual year is 2 BC. Faulkner appears to dump the whole obvious conclusion because the woman might not just mean Miryam. But surely it does mean her, whatever else it additionally means. It is hard to see how the straightforward interpretation requires the woman to be Miryam only. There may be wheels within wheels in Gŏd’s intention. The crown of twelve stars leads into interpreting the woman as Yisra’ēl. On the other hand the twelve stars suggest there really were twelve stars at the head of the constellation.

Faulkner does not catch Larson’s error in picking December 25th arbitrarily as the turnaround point of Jupiter. The date was the 27th or 28th. He does say, “Scholars long ago debunked whether December 25 had any real connection to the birth of Jesus. Instead, it is virtually certain that the early Roman Church adapted a pagan observance of the winter solstice, which was on December 25 of the Julian calendar two millennia ago.” Faulkner supposes that Matthew 2:10 implies that they had not seen the star for a time, and were glad to see it, since they had been seeing it all along. The delight he suggests was in seeing it after it had disappeared from view, as if a few cloudy days had come by. But this ignores the fact that the text says the star “stopped” or “stood” over the place. Translate Matthew 2:10 this way, “And observing the star, the rejoiced...” What did they observe? Before they set out, they would have observed the star in the morning over the town of Bethlehem, as it was in the same direction as the morning observation. The would have known too that the star had reached a stationary point, though they might not have been able to pin down the exact day it did this.

When they left Jerusalem, Herod left them with this command, “Go, search ye carefully for the child” (Mat. 2:8). When they arose in the pre-dawn the next morning, I would guess 12/28 at about 5 in the morning, they saw the star before they set out, weather permitting at 210°, SSW, in the direction of the village. Matthew 2:10 says, “And observing the star, they had been rejoicing with great joy.” It is possible that it had been obscured for a few mornings upon their approach to Jerusalem, and that the skies had cleared. But the chief reason for their joy is they have just been informed of the prophecy, and they have noted that the star is in the direction of the town, as they prepared to set out, and this concurrence, and their new information from the night before, would give rise to their elation. So they set out that morning. Estimates of the population vary from 300 (Albright) to 1000. Since Yōsef was a carpenter, a tradesman, and not a farmer or a shepherd, the two main occupations of the towns inhabitants, he would have wanted a house in the town, as it was centrally located. The Shepherds had spread the news some four months earlier. With such a small population, the Magi’s search would not take long.

The last clause of Matthew 2:9: ἕως ἐλθὼν ἐστάθη ἐπάνω οὗ ἦν τὸ παιδίον = “until having come, it was standing, over where the child had been.” The language “having come,” implies that the star was moving against the background of the stars until a certain point, when it stopped. The times of stopping were important to the Magi, and that this was happening just as they had found out where the place was, was important to them. The stopping point in the stars also coincides with the star being visible over Bethlehem in the morning before they set out from Jerusalem.

Chronology 2BC
12/26 pm  The wise men arrive late in the day and make their inquiry known.
12/27 am  The chief priests are assembled, and say where Mĕssiah will be born.
12/27 pm  Herod secretly finds out when the star appeared.
          Herod orders them to go to Bethlehem and find the child.
12/28 am  (pre-dawn) They observe the star in the right direction over the place.
          When they see the star southward, their spirits are lifted that their mission
          will succeed, and they rejoice.
12/28 pm  They search and find the house. The new moon is seen.
          They present their gifts, and worship the new king.
12/28-29  They dream in the night not to return to Herod
12/29 am  They depart quickly, having been warned not to endanger the child.
12/29 pm  The next night Yōsef is warned to flee in a dream.
12/29 pm  They flee to Egypt that very night.
12/30 am  Herod kills all the male children two years and under in Bethlehem.

It is quite difficult to explain the phrase, “until having come, it stood” without the stopping point in the stars. This is because the first part of the phrase implies a continued movement until a certain point, and then a standing still.” Without the retrograde explanation, one would have to abandon the idea of using the planet Jupiter altogether, and to opt for a supernatural light moved and stopped by direct divine effect. There is a serious problem with this theory because it does not correspond to any of the Magi’s astrological interpretations. In fact, they would not know what to do with such a light. They would have no precedents or astrological traditions to give meaning to it. And further, Jupiter would have still been observed by them, and that they could give meaning to. The other light theory would have to compete against Jupiter in the minds of the astrologers. It had first appeared rising out of the sun on August 1, 3 BC. This date was a year and six months earlier. This is the date the Magi would have given Herod. Herod figured a child born on that date would be around 18 months old. This is why he murdered those two years and under.

Faulkner states:

There are problems with Jupiter’s stationary point being the star that guided the magi. First, Matthew 2:10 suggests that the magi had not seen the star for a while, for they were glad to see it on their way to Bethlehem from Jerusalem. The magi would have seen Jupiter much of the time that they traveled, so why the delight now? Second, the appearance of Jupiter over Bethlehem was of no use in finding Bethlehem, for they already had been told to go there and likely were given directions to the town just a few miles from Jerusalem. Third, the magi seemed to have had no difficulty identifying which house in Bethlehem to go to, suggesting that the star appeared over a particular house, rather than just appearing over the town in general. Thus, while Larson puts forth an argument for the star fitting Matthew’s description, the argument really doesn’t survive close scrutiny.

I have covered most of Faulkner’s objections already. The first is that the star was not guiding them. It went before them. For finding their way they were relying on astrological interpretations and their knowledge of prophecies. The star just happened to appear every morning before they set out. They may have thought this was a plus, and it gave them goose bumps. The stationary point marks the time of their finding Mĕssiah. It is not the locater beacon for the house. The Magi would have been more elated that it stopped moving against the stars as soon as they found out where the place was. This is because this was their science and their art. Astrologers do not believe in coincidences. They favor determinism, and the timing could not be better for them. They have just as much reason to be elated over that as they would be over the triple conjunction of Jupiter with the star Regulus in 3 and 2 BC. We are not practicing their astrology, but to understand their thinking we have to understand how they thought.

Faulkner has clearly not gotten inside the heads of the Magi. This is why he thinks Larson’s interpretation of the star stopping is problematic. (Really Ernest Martin proposed this before Larson.) An astrologer IS elated when they notices correspondences. They are elated even when their whole endeavor is unscientific. So we have to think what they were thinking to understand their motives. And we have to do it without being poisoned ourselves by the thinking of astrologers. This is not easy to do. Larson appears to have non-objectively adopted some astrological thinking. Faulkner, does not seem to be able to think the way they did long enough to figure out what motivated them. The biblical text reflects the motivations of its subjects, so we really have to understand the subjects, to understand the biblical statements giving the subjects responses to situations.

The Magi did have little difficulty in finding the place because Bethlehem was not such a large place that a diligent search would not turn up the answer soon. Herod, likely would have wanted to go there at once, and to slay the threat to his throne. What restrained him was that he was in grave danger of creating an international incident with Parthia, and Caesar would have his head if he provoked war with Parthia. As it was, Herod’s soldiers were only about 24 hours behind the Magi. Of course the retrograde stopping would be no use in finding the exact house in Bethlehem. Faulkner is right about that. Where Faulkner is incorrect, is that he has assumed that they star actually did locate the specific house. But the text does not say that. It only says “over where the child had been.” Faulkner as to assume that “where” is more specific than the town of Bethlehem in order to argue for a star that does locate the house. And only by making this assumption can be refute Larson. For this reason Faulkner’s conclusion, “the argument really doesn’t survive close scrutiny,” is faulty.

April 3, AD 33 Eclipse
screen_shot_stellarium2The Invisible Eclipse
Nine Minutes Later
screen_shot_stellarium2Eclipse Ended

Larson teaches about a lunar eclipse in AD 33. Just as the sun is setting on Friday, April 3, AD 33 the moon rises. I show at the right the Stellarium 0.13.1 image on this eclipse. Notice the dark patch at the top of the moon? That is what is left of the umbral phase of this eclipse at moon rise. The green line marks the horizon. I have turned the atmosphere off, because the twilight is still quite bright, and it is very difficult to see the dark patch on the top of the moon in the twilight. With the atmosphere on, refraction raises the moon above the horizon, but the sky gets a lot brighter. In the shot at the left, nine minutes later, the eclipse is completely over! And the moon with refraction on, is not more than 2° 10' above the horizon. The altitude scale is shown in the image with the atmosphere off. Larson supposes that a reference at Shav̱ū̒ōt (Pentecost) by Peter concerning the moon turning to blood in Joel refers to this eclipse. The only problem is that no one would have seen a red moon at the time he proposes. And this is pointed out by Faulkner. Faulkner concludes:

The Matthew 2 text suggests that the star wasn’t always visible to the magi, nor was it necessarily visible to others. This suggests that the star may have been a localized object specifically fashioned as a message to the magi. This supernatural object would not be bound by the motions of objects normally found in the sky, and thus its odd behavior, such as appearing over where Jesus was, is easy to explain. In short, the star of Bethlehem likely was a unique and miraculous local apparition to fulfill God’s purpose and one of the ordained purposes for stars to be for signs as in Genesis 1:14. This is not unusual, for the Lord used the Shekinah glory to guide Israel in the wilderness. Of course, others before me have noted the difficulty of relating Matthew’s account to any known astronomical object and have suggested such a thing (Custer (1977), DeYoung (1989), Gitt (1996), Lisle (2008), MacArthur (2006)).

The possibility that the star was not visible for a period adds nothing to Faulkner’s thesis that the star was not Jupiter. Clouds can hide planets as well as anything else. This voids his thesis that the text suggests the star was a localized object. As I have already explained that the text does correspond to Jupiter’s movements, the necessity for a less predictable object to explain the text may be dismissed. The suggestion that a local apparition fulfills Gen. 1:14 makes no sense, since only the sun, moon, and stars are included there. Planets to the ancients were a category of stars. A local apparition that is not one of those, does not fit Gen. 1:14 at all. The Shekinah guided Israel, but this is not related to Gen. 1:14. The object is called a star in the text, and literal interpretation demands we pick an object that is normally called a star in those times. The difficulties Faulkner refers to are mainly that those scholars do not want to give up certain chronological traditions. And clearly, Faulkner himself, is hesitant to question the 4 BC tradition for the death of Herod, even though Scripture refutes in in Luke 3:1 and 3:23. Likewise, Faulkner’s logical misstep with Rev. 12:1-2 shows that he wants to escape from the obvious conclusion.

A Review of Jason Lisle

Jupiter at Culmination
screen_shot_stellarium22h 30min before sunrise

“No known natural phenomenon would be able to stand over Bethlehem since all natural stars continually move due to the rotation of the earth.” (Lisle’s Article).

Jason Lisle is a popular creationist writer and presenter. The above quote is from an article he wrote for answersingenesis. At the left I show Jupiter, a known natural phenomenon standing at culmination on 12/28/2 BC. The view point is looking straight up into the sky. If one was at the front door of the house where the baby Yĕshūa̒ was in Bethlehem, on the north side of the house, one would be able to see the star over the housetop. If one was entering Bethlehem, from the north, one would see the star over the town. Lisle, however, expects us to believe that a qualifying star must stand in the overhead position longer than any natural phenomenon. But the Scripture text does not say that the star stood over the child longer than any natural star could. Now let us check out his next piece of reasoning:

June 17, 2 BC
screen_shot_stellarium2Jupiter/Venus Conjunction

“But there was one (and only one) extraordinary conjunction around the time of Christ’s birth that could be called a “star.” In the year 2 B.C., Jupiter and Venus moved so close to each other that they briefly appeared to merge into a single bright star. Such an event is extremely rare and may have been perceived as highly significant to the magi. Although this event would have been really spectacular, it does not fully match the description of the Christmas star. A careful reading of the biblical text indicates that the magi saw the star on at least two occasions: when they arrived at Jerusalem (Matthew 2:2) and after meeting with Herod (Matthew 2:9). But the merging of Jupiter and Venus happened only once—on the evening of June 17.”

What Lisle is referring to is pictured at the right. Was the combined conjunction the star in the text? Well no. Jupiter was the star referred to, but to the Magi, its involvement in this conjunction would mean “a royal birth is about to happen,” since astrologers regard Venus as the mother, and Jupiter as the king star. The conjunction, then is a conception or birth. The question is does Lisle rule out Jupiter being the star? He does. Here is what he says:

Although each of the above events is truly spectacular and may have been fitting to announce the birth of the King of kings, none of them seems to fully satisfy the details of the straightforward reading of Matthew 2. None of the above speculations fully explain how the star “went ahead of ” the magi nor how it “stood over where the child was.” Indeed, no known natural phenomenon would be able to stand over Bethlehem since all natural stars continually move due to the rotation of the earth.2 They appear to rise in the east and set in the west, or circle around the celestial poles. However, the Bible does not say that this star was a natural phenomenon.

For a man who wrote the book on the Ultimate Proof of Creation, the above is full of logical holes. Lisle treats the star as if it has to be a singular star, off by itself, and uninvolved with any other planets or stars. Does the Scripture place this restriction? Not at all. Also, he did not bother to see if any natural phenomenon could have gone before them on a daily basis. Had he, he would have found what I did. As I explained earlier, Jupiter went ahead of the Magi. They rose to make earlier morning observations (pre-dawn), and saw the planet southward for at least the last month of the their journey, and each day they set out in the direction of the planet, or the position it had last been seen before the rising sun outshone it. His other logical error, is assuming that anything that stands briefly over a location does not qualify as standing over it. Consider the following hypothetical dialog between Yōsef and the chief Magi, and then Yōsef and Matthew:

Magi: Greetings Sir.
Yōsef: What can I do for you?
Magi: We have come to worship the king of kings, and give him gifts.
Yōsef: How did you come such a distance?
Magi: (pointing up) The star went before us, and now it stands still. It is sign
      that we have reached the end of our journey.
Yōsef: That star has stood above us every night for the past month?
Magi: Oh, Sir, that is not what I meant. It has stopped moving relative to the other
      stars. It was moving until yesterday, and then it stopped as soon as the priests
	  told us that the Mĕssiah would be born in Bethlehem. We read the signs in the
	  stars. It stood still at the end of our journey, when we came here.
Matthew: (years later), O.k. Yosef, what did you say the star did?
Yōsef: They said it was moving until it stood still when they reached Bethlehem.
       They said it went before them every morning as they came down the coast.
Matthew: (taking notes), “That star went before them, until it stood over the child.”

We ought to consider the case of the sun and Joshua’s long day here. Joshua said to the sun to “stand still”, now this presumes that the sun was already standing over Gibeon. He just wanted it to keep standing in one place so that they could continue to defeat the Canaanite confederation. The point is that something can stand, no matter how briefly it stands. The Hebrew word used to describe the moon in Joshua 10:13 is עָמָד, a̒mad. It is often translated, “stopped,” but the word means “stood,” and can mean either that it stopped or that it stood up. In actual fact it did both. It’s daily motion stopped, and it stood up during the long day. The star of the Magi also acted according to both senses of the word. It stopped its eastward motion among the stars, and it stood up (relative to the stars seen from earth). The Magi would not have been able to see it that closely. Matthew simply picked the same ambiguous word used in Joshua. It covers everything. Delitzsch used the same word in his Hebrew translation. Lisle is incorrect to shut the door on it being an ordinary planet. What made it extraordinary to the Magi was their astrological interpretations which led them to find Mĕssiah.

Yes, the star could have been a rogue star guided by the Almĭghty, but Jupiter already explains the timings very well, and affords ample astrological motivation to get them going. If what is known to exist works fine, then it is unparsimonious to speculate on what is not known to exist.

We may inquire if Numbers 24:17 is sufficient to get them started along with a rogue star: “I see him, and not now. I regard him, and not near. A star will have marched from Ya‘aqōv̱, and a scepter will have risen from Yisra’ēl.” On the other hand, if Jupiter rises out of the sun, conjuncts with Venus, does a triple conjunction with Regulus, conjuncts with Venus, appearing to merge, rises out of the sun in Virgo again, stays in the Branch of Virgo, and they have read Daniel 9, and the Numbers passage, then it appears we can safely dispense with the Rogue Star theory in favor of something that we know actually happened from astronomical calculations. Let’s hear Lisle out further:

Curiously, the magi seem to have been the only ones who saw the star—or at least the only ones who understood its meaning. Recall that King Herod had to ask the magi when the star had appeared (Matthew 2:7). If the magi alone saw the star, this further supports the notion that the Christmas star was a supernatural manifestation from God rather than a common star, which would have been visible to all. The fact that the magi referred to it as “His star” further supports the unique nature of the star.

This is an argument from silence at best. More correctly, they are the only ones to put an astrological interpretation on it. It is speculation to say only the Magi saw it. Herod, of course, did not keep track of the helical or acronychal risings or setting of Jupiter. What he wanted to know is when the star appeared such that the Magi might interpret it to mean a royal birth was happening. And perhaps he had some small knowledge of the subject as to know he should question them, knowing that astrologers always had multiple theories. He wanted to know by the earliest possible interpretation when the new king could have been born so that he could be sure to eliminate the threat. The Magi calling it “his star” does not favor the rogue star theory. In fact planets have been often been attached to persons, just as in Revelation 22:16 where Yĕshūa̒ calls himself the “bright morning star.” It is, of course, a metaphor, but so is calling Jupiter “his star.”

“ The position of the star when the magi first saw it is disputed. The Bible says that they “saw His star in the east” (Matthew 2:2). Does this mean that the star was in the eastward heavens when they first saw it, or does it mean that the magi were “in the East” (i.e., Persia) when they saw the star? If the star was in the East, why did the magi travel west? Recall that the Bible does not say that the star guided the magi to Jerusalem (though it may have); we only know for certain that it went before them on the journey from Jerusalem to the house of Christ. It is possible that the star initially acted only as a sign, rather than as a guide. The magi may have headed to Jerusalem only because this would have seemed a logical place to begin their search for the King of the Jews.”

It surely does not mean they were saying they were located in the east when they said, “we saw His star on the east.” Everyone knows that stars rise in the east, and that that is where they are first seen. And if the star really was seen in the west, then there is no excusing such a misleading statement from the Magi. Again Lisle is treating the star as if it has to provide map coordinates for their journey. They went west because their astrological interpretation and sparse knowledge of the of Scripture indicated the birth of King Messiah. The Magi would never expect to get road trip directions from their stars. Stars are in one direction in the evening, and in another during the morning. Lisle had to incredibly speculate against the texts, that the star appeared in the west instead of the east, to explain why they went west. Again, like Danny Faulkner, this is simply failure to get inside the heads of the Magi and to understand their astrological thinking.

We can be fairly sure that the star went before them before they came to Jerusalem based on the imperfect tense in Matthew 2:9 as I explained before, and also based on the fact that the last part of their journey had to go south. Lisle continues:

“But there is another interesting possibility. The Greek phrase translated in the East (εν ανατολη) can also be translated at its rising. The expression can be used to refer to the east since all normal stars rise in the east (due to earth’s rotation). But the Christmas star may have been a supernatural exception—rising in the west over Bethlehem (which from the distance of Persia would have been indistinguishable from Jerusalem). The wise men would have recognized such a unique rising. Perhaps they took it as a sign that the prophecy of Numbers 24:17 was fulfilled since the star quite literally rose from Israel.”

Again, contrary to all expectations from the text, Lisle is back proposing the star appeared in the west. Why is this? Let’s get to the bottom of the words, “in the east.” There are four different ways to interpret these words. We have already seen one, as proposed by Lisle: the Magi were themselves “in the east” when they observed the star, and who knows where. We dismissed this one. The next sense is obvious. Everything rises in the east due to the daily rotation of the heavens. A third type of rising is well known to astronomers and astrologers, and this is the helical rising. It also takes place in the east. When a planet or star disappears behind the sun, it returns to view just before sunrise very briefly, and then the rising sun outshines it. The first reappearance of the star is called a helical rising. The final definition of “in the east” is a surprise, and I will save it for last, after illustrating the other definitions.

Dec. 27 2 BC
screen_shot_stellarium2Jupiter Rising
Sept 13, 2 BC
screen_shot_stellarium2Rising 4:48 AM

At the left I have provided a screen shot from Stellarium 0.13.1 @22h 45m (UT+2hrs) for the 27th of December, 2 BC. When Jupiter rose in the east, it would appear like this. At the right I show the rising about 13 days from Tishri 1 with the atmosphere on. From the one shot to the other Jupiter moves downward to the arm bracelet on the arm of Virgo. So this is what the Magi were seeing when they observed the rising in the east. Now for the more important definition, it would be useful to determine the date at which the helical rising of Jupiter would occur. According to the Almagest, Jupiter must be at least 10 degrees from the sun to become visible, however the astrologers had a standard distance, and this was 12 degrees for Jupiter (The Star of Bethlehem: The Legacy of the Magi, Michael R. Molnar, pg. 88). In the next shot below, I show the helical rising of Jupiter on 9/1/2 BC.

Sept 1, 2 BC
screen_shot_stellarium2Rising 4:46 AM

In the shot at the right I have put the angle measure into the picture. It shows 12 degrees, the standard distance for a helical rising of Jupiter. On the day before 8/31 in the morning, it would not meet the ancient criteria for a “helical rising.” It would have been almost a full degree short of the required 12. It is noted that this was the day of Mĕssiah’s birth (Tishri 1, having begun the evening before on 8/31), and this would be significant to the Magi. They only learned when his birth was after the visit, of course. In astrology, a helical rising signals the birth of the star. The correspondence between the time of Mĕssiah’s birth and the helical rising of Jupiter would have impressed the Magi greatly. The helical rising is the rising of the star out of the fire of the sun. The Magi kept track of these risings and their timings. So when they said, “We saw his star rise in the east,” this must have meant the helical rising.

For the final definition, which was the surprise, it is that the word Ἀνατολὴ in Greek does not simply mean, “east” and “rising.” The word also means “Branch.” See Liddell and Scott. The word is used in Zech. 6:12, “And you will have said unto him, thus has said Yăhwēh of Hosts, saying, ‘Behold the man. Branch is his name, and from his place he will branch forth, and he will have built the Temple of Yăhwēh.” The connection is in the sense of a sprout being a “riser.” The Greek text runs, “καὶ ἐρεῖς πρὸς αὐτόν τάδε λέγει κύριος παντοκράτωρ ἰδοὺ ἀνήρ Ἀνατολὴ ὄνομα αὐτῷ καὶ ὑποκάτωθεν αὐτοῦ ἀνατελεῖ καὶ οἰκοδομήσει τὸν οἶκον κυρίου,” and the Hebrew, “וְאָמַרְתָּ אֵלָיו לֵאמֹר כֹּה אָמַר יַהוֶה צְבָאוֹת לֵאמֹר הִנֵּה־אִישׁ צֶמַח שְׁמוֹ וּמִתַּחְתָּיו יִצְמָח וּבָנָה אֶת־הֵיכַל יַהוֶה.” The same word is Branch in Hebrew and Greek צֶמַח, Ἀνατολὴ, and rising or east in Matthew. What the Magi were saying in the ears of Jerusalem was this: “We have seen His star in the Branch.” Let it be noted then, that Virgo is always holding a BRANCH in the right hand. This is a potent messianic symbolism. And it should be no mystery now why Jerusalem was in an uproar when the Magi came and announced this. Jupiter has been “in the branch,” in conjunction with it for the four months since his birth.

A Review of Alfred Edersheim

Abstract: Edersheim presents alleged evidence from the Mishnah that the shepherds (Luke 2:8) were in the field all year round. He suggests that the shepherds were special priestly appointed or approved shepherds that watched over flocks destined for sacrifice in the Temple. He then adduces support from Megillath Taanith that the date given there (9 Tebeth) could refer to a historical birth date of December 25th. The entire argument is a fraud, and the object of this section will be to prove it. Further, Edersheim’s argument appears to epitomize the attempt to cover up the real chronological importance of the reference to the Shepherds in Luke 2:8. And that I will cover in the next section on Jonathan Cahn.

Alfred Edersheim is supposed to be a great and famous expert in Rabbinical literature. Or so I thought until I came across his argument for December 25th! Now he is either an incompetent fool in my eyes or a crafty deceiver. I am inclined to the latter point of view, because, it would seem normally Edersheim did good work, until, that is it came to a sacred point of Christian tradition. But then again, some trail of accidents of misinterpretation might explain how he got so far from the truth. So I will not finalize any judgment of why he is guilty. And I need not. It is sufficient to show his objective guilt in the matter of false teaching in support of December 25th, without trying to determine how he ended up there.

I need to quote Edersheim’s argument so we can all see it, and there are elements of his quote which are not directly related to the main point, which I must quote by way of context, but which I do not accept as true, yet I will not take time to refute. I will only say that anything Edersheim claims cannot be assumed true on his authority, unless it is confirmed in the sources. Here is what he says:

“That the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem,1 was a settled conviction. Equally so was the belief, that He was to be revealed from Migdal Eder, ‘the tower of the flock.’a This Migdal Eder was not the watchtower for the ordinary flocks which pastured on the barren sheep-ground beyond Bethlehem, but lay close to the town, on the road to Jerusalem. A passage in the Mishnahb leads to the conclusion, that the flocks, which pastured there, were destined for Temple-sacrifices,2 and, accordingly, that the shepherds, who watched over them, were not ordinary shepherds. The latter were under the ban of Rabbinism,1 on account of their necessary isolation from religious ordinances, and their manner of life, which rendered strict legal observance unlikely, if not absolutely impossible. The same Mishnic passage also leads us to infer, that these flocks lay out all the year round, since they are spoken of as in the fields thirty days before the Passover—that is, in the month of February, when in Palestine the average rainfall is nearly greatest.2 Thus, Jewish tradition in some dim manner apprehended the first revelation of the Messiah from that Migdal Eder, where sepherds watched the Temple-flocks all the year round. Of the deep symbolic significance of such a coincidence, it is needless to speak.”

“It was, then, on that ‘wintry night’ of the 25th of December,3 that shepherds watched the flocks destined for sacrificial services, in the very place consecrated by tradition as that were the Messiah was to be first revealed....[at this point I resort to the last footnote:]...There is no adequate reason for questioning the historical accuracy of this date....But a curious piece of evidence comes to us from a Jewish source. In the addition to the Megillath Taanith (ed. Warsh. p. 20 a), the 9th Tebheth is marked as a fast day, and it is added, that the reason for this is not stated. Now, Jewish chronologists have fixed on the day as that of Christ’s birth, and it is remarkable that, between the years 500 and 816 AD, the 25th of December fell no less than twelve times on the 9th of Tebheth. If the 9th Tebheth, or 25th December, was regarded as the birthday of Christ, we can understand the concealment about it. (The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book 2, pg. 186-187).

We will start with the Mishnah argument, and then I will more on to the 9th Teveth argument. The passage in the Mishnah referred to is Shekalim 7.4.

ד בְּהֵמָה שֶׁנִּמְצֵאת מִירוּשָׁלַיִם וְעַד מִגְדַּל עֵדֶר, וּכְמִדָּתָהּ לְכָל רוּחַ, זְכָרִים, עוֹלוֹת. נְקֵבוֹת, זִבְחֵי שְׁלָמִים. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר, הָרָאוּי לִפְסָחִים, פְּסַחִים קֹדֶם לָרֶגֶל שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם.

“[An] animal that is found [wandering] from Jerusalem even as far as Migdal Eder, or likewise you have measured to every wind, males [shall be] ascending offerings, females [shall be] peace offerings. Rabbi Yehudah says, the ones being seen as Passover offerings [shall be] Passover offerings thirty days before the pilgrimage” (my translation).

The issue in the Mishnah is this. If an animal is seen wandering in the vicinity of Jerusalem, then it is presumed to be lost, or that it has gotten away from its owner, who has lost it. The animal is presumed to be dedicated for an offering, and that it can be used for no other purpose. The radius of the distance for the ruling is the straight line distance from Jerusalem to the Tower of the Flock (Migdal Eder). The lost animial is presumed to be dedicated for an offering if found in the radius of this distance from Jerusalem. If the owner cannot be found, the finder will offer the animal, but must pay the owner its cost, if the owner is found, or will turn it over to someone who will see that it is properly offered. Since who dedicated it for what purpose is not known, a rule of thumb has to be used. A male animal will be assumed to be an ascending offering, and will be made an ascending offering. A female animal will be assumed to be a peace offering, and will be made such. If the lost animal is an animal suitable for a Passover offering (a sheep or a goat a year old), and it is found in the prescribed distance 30 days before Passover, then it is assumed to be a Passover offering. The ruling is meant to prevent an accidental transgression of the Law caused by the sacrificial animal wandering away, or let loose, or lost.

The presumption of Afred Edersheim concerning the thirty days is completely at odds with the passage, and so also his conclusions concerning a special class of shepherds raising and watching over sacrificial animals at the height of the rainy season. We shall see that his arguments are completely overturned when we consider the only alternative left, i.e. that the shepherds were ordinary shepherds, outside at night, during the ordinary times of the year that they would be outside at night.

Edersheim’s notes the unknown fast day inserted into the Scroll of Fasting (Megillath Taanith). This document is not the Aramaic מגילת תענית and its Hebrew scholion dating no earlier than AD 40, but it is a compilation of later additions, dating to the 8th century AD at the earliest. The first work the 9th Tevet date appears in is the הלכות גדולות. Dates for the text range from the 8th to 10th centuries. For our purposes here, it only needs to date after the time in which the Church of Rome settled on December 25th. The ealierst mention of December 25th being the birth of Christ was in the Chronography of 354, produced in AD 354. It contains the line, “VIII kal. ian. natus Christus in Betleem Iudeæ” (8 days before the Calends of January, birth of Christ in Bethlehem of Judea). Counting back 8 days back: Jan 1, Dec: 31, 30, 29, 28, 27, 26, 25 (December 25).

Dionysius Exiguus (Dennis the small) devised the AD system of dating in AD 525, and it came into wide use after the year 800, about the time that the 9th Tevet date shows up in Jewish Literature. Dionysisus putative date for the birth of Christ was 25 December, 1 BC. The Jewish source simply states, using Sid Z. Leiman’s parahrase, “On the 9th day [of Tebeth fasting is required]. The rabbis did not record why.” (JQR, LXXIV, No. 2). The fasting was a way of mourning on the day, like mourning on the 9th Av, remembering the day the Temple was destroyed. Of course the day that the Church of Rome fixed on for the birth of Christ was to Rabbinic Jews a day to mourn on. The assumed reason the reason is not given in מגילת תענית, i.e. הלכות גדולות (Eighth century) is that the Jews wanted to hide the reason they were trying to make the day a fast day from the Christians. This is very sensible of them in light of the potential for persecution. Later Rabbis speculated on other reasons for the 9th Tevet fast date, and the best theory is that it marked the fictional death date of Simon ha-Qalpos, a fictional (or mythical) Rabbinic Jew who infiltrated early Jewish Christianity in order to subvert it and gentilize it, to make it turn away from the Torah, so that Rabbinic Jews would not have Torah observant Christians to contend with. The theory is not incompatible with the connection of 9 Tevet to December 25th. Simon ha-Qalpos was “a composite of Paul, Simon Peter, and Simeon Stylites” (cf. Toldot Yeshu[a]). It is simply very creative myth making to connect the date of his death with the Christian date of December 25th, so that they can mourn over the death of the fictional tzaddik Simon ha-Qalpos, and conceal their intention to mourn Dec. 25th; and really they are mourning the assumed date that the Nazarene was born. There are wheels within wheels here. More wheels to come.

The 64 million dollar question then, is how did some Jewish Rabbi in the 8th century know that December 25th, 1 BC was the 9th of Tevet? Firstly, we should check out the date, and see if it IS the 9th of Tevet! Here is the calendar:

Month: X TEBETH, 1 BC    4139 A.M. Sab. Cyc: 3. Jub. Cyc: 24 Cycle No: 84
Q1: 1.171 A Q2: -0.249 E LG:  98m W: 0.957' AL: 20.9 AV: 18.1
Sunset times for longitude: -86.90 and latitude 45.37
New Moon calculated for longitude: 35.17 and latitude 31.77
Location of calculations: Jerusalem Author: Daniel Gregg

        I        II        III       IV         V        VI        VII
                                                   ↑   │   1     │   2     │
       TEBETH                                     NM   │Hanukah  │Hanukah  │
                                               DEC 18  │ DEC 17  │         │
     │   3     │   4     │   5     │   6     │   7     │   8     │   9     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │ DEC 25  │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │  10     │  11     │  12     │  13     │  14     │  15     │  16     │
     │Fast     │         │         │         │         │         │ JAN 1   │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │  17     │  18     │  19     │  20     │  21     │  22     │  23     │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │         │
     │  24     │  25     │  26     │  27     │  28     │  29 ↑   │
     │         │         │         │         │         │ JAN 14  │
     │         │         │         │         │         │         │ 

There it is! The 9th of Tevet in 1 BC was on December 25th, 8 days before the Calends of January! That almost makes one want to utter a swear word. Billions of blistering blue barnacles! How did someone in the 8th century figure out the Lunar date in the Jewish Calendar which the Church had fixed on for the birth of Christ? Sir Isaac Newton had not even been born yet. Well there is an answer, but first the mystery deepens.

Abraham Bar Ḥiyya ha-Nasi was born between AD 1065 and 1070 and died between 1136 and 1148. He was a Sephardic Jew, and a very famous mathematician and astronomer. His key work here is ספר העבור, “The book of intercalation.” And in this book he undertook to calculate the 9th of Tevet for the birth of Christ. From chapter 10, Sefer Ha-Ibur (Avraham bar Chiya) as transcribed by Rabbi Dr. Shnayer Leiman (with my corrections since the Rabbi’s transcription contained serveral mistakes):

נולד הנוצרי [ג]׳ אלפים תשס״א ט׳ טבת י״ח למחזור קצ״ח בכיה יום לחדש דיצימירי והוא תאריך רומי.. והוא נולד לדבריהם בשנת ג׳ אלפים תשס״א לבריאה עולם בעשרים וחמשה ימים מחדש דייקבר, והוא יום שבת יום תשעה בטבת שנת י״ח למחזור קצ״ח לחשבוננו

The birth of the Nazarene was 3761, the 9th of Tevet, year 18 of the cycle 198, the very day of the month of December. And it equals the Roman. And he was born according to their words in the year 3761 of the creation of the world, on twenty and fifth day of the month of December. And it was the day of the Sabbath, the day of the 9th of Tevet, the 18th year of the cycle 198 of our accounting.

The year 3761 corresponds to 1 BC on the proleptic Jewish calendar. Year 18 is the 18th year of the 19 year cycle, where year 1 is 3761 BC. The 198th cycle is the number of 19 years cycles dated from 3761 BC. As shown above in the calendar, Abraham Bar Ḥiyya’s calculation was exactly on target. December 25, 1 BC was the 9th of Tevet, and it was a Sabbath.

Abraham Bar Ḥiyya and the unknown Rabbi in the 8th century who picked the 9th Tevet in the first place both knew how to calculate the Jewish date of Dionysius’s putative date for Christmas (established by AD 525). It was done using the 19 year Metonic Cycle, which was introduced around 432 BC by Meton of Athens. When the cycle is properly calibrated, then it can predict the day of the new moon 84 years forward or backward with a 50% probability of hitting new moons dead on. This can be confirmed by taking an Easter Table, and checking the new moon dates for the new moon against actual astronomical calculations. I did it with this table. In fact it can be verified simply by calculating the Julian dates of new moons in the first century, and then checking for the same dates by multiples of 19 years forward for back. You will find that about 50% of the time, the new moon falls on the exact same dates! And the rest of the time, it is usually only wrong by 1 day.

Did Abraham Bar Ḥiyya and the unknown from the 8th century have a way of calibrating the cycle? Indeed they did. I have related before that the Seder Olam date for the destruction of the Temple is 9 AV on a Sunday in AD 70. This corresponds to Selucid year 381 or Jewish year 3830. Both Bar Ḥiyya and the 8th century unknown managed to avoid the mistake of Rabbi Halaphta in assigning the Temple destruction to AD 69. And since the 9th of Av did fall on a Sunday in AD 70, the cycle can be calibrated from the Roman date: 5 August. Still the chances of hitting the right date were only 50%. But then it is obvious that the 8th century calculator hit the right lunar date (9 Tevet) for Dec. 25, 1 BC, because we can check it out with our modern astronomy.

Therefore, seeing that the date has a 50% chance of being calculated dead on in the 8th century and in the 11th, it would be hazardos to assume that the date 9 Tevet had any historical significance. In otherwords, the date was not remembered from an actual historical birth of Messiah on December 25th! It was retro-calculated to match the date of the Church’s assumed date for the birth, which in turn is only attested back to the Chronography of 354. So now Edersheim’s assumed theory of a Jewish historical verification for a December 25th dating collapses.

Edersheim should never have made his claims for December 25th with the shaky ground he was standing on with 9th Tevet tradition. Just because two things line up, i.e. Bar Ḥiyya’s calculation and Dec. 25th, 1 BC, does not mean the match up is actually historical. It is only historical if, 1. It was not later engineered by men to match up, 2. A coincidence is impossible. We see that both assumptions are false. The motive for engineering was present, and the conincidence of getting the right dates matched is not impossible.

I now move on to Edersheim’s attempt at a control experiment, namely his observation that between 500 and 816 AD, that the 25th of December fell on 9 Tevet no less than 12 times. That is 12 times in a space of 316 years. Or given a random year, the odds are 12/316 of a match up, which is 3.79%. So long as December 25th lands in the limits of Tevet the odds are about 1/30 of a match or 3.3%. There is no point in examining those 316 years to see if Edersheim’s figures are correct. All that needs be noted is that his miss rate is more than 94%. Edersheim concludes by explaining that the Jewish notion that 9 Tevet was the birth date explains their concealment. Not so. They picked the date because the Catholic Church picked it, and their concealment was for fear of persecution, because they wanted to regard the day as a day of disaster and fasting.

A Review of Jonathan Cahn

Abstract: Jonathan Cahn serves up a smorgasbord of chronological misinformation that is quite astounding, along with numerous other errors. He starts off by claiming that shepherds were only out at night in the spring, then promptly contradicts himself. His first claim will be thoroughly refuted. Cahn makes a valid point against the Tabernacles theory, but fails to note that Tishri 1 does not come under this criticism. Cahn mixes up typological homiletics with valid chronological interpretations. This is explained and refuted. Cahn makes an easily refuted claim about Palm Sunday being the first national holiday of Israel. He is corrected on his dating of the Triumphal Entry and Nisan 10. Cahn subscribes to Edersheim’s theory of a Nisan 15 crucifixion. The failings of this are pointed out, and the explanation of “first day of unleavened bread” given. A second round of dealing with Cahn’ typology is fenced away. Cahn claims Nisan 1 is new year’s day on the Jewish Calendar. This is dealt with and the real new year’s day put forward. This is followed by faulty astronomy on the full moon from Cahn, and then a passage in Isaiah taken out of context. Cahn runs afoul of Luke 3:1 and 3:23. Detailed. Cahn claims the best material for astrologers in 6 BC. He makes no mention of the better ground in 3-2 BC.

This review is based on When Was Jesus REALLY born?? What is Cahn’s first argument?

“Shepherds would typically only watch flocks at night during the spring, lambing season.” (Claimed by Jonathan Cahn.)

The text that Cahn is referring to is Luke 2:8, “And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping the watches of the night over their flock.” Cahn claims that they were watching for the sheep to give birth. He also states, “The Rabbis say in the Talmud that shepherds would only be out in the fields around March until the next rainy season” (emphasis mine). Then appears on the screen, “Shepherds were only out in the fields from March until the next rainy season in autumn” (emphasis mine). Clearly, it appears that Cahn’s statements contradict each other. First he states, “only at night during the spring” and then it is added by Cahn, “until the next rainy season,” and then by the producer, “until the next rainy season in autumn.” As Cahn is trying to support his theory that Mĕssiah was born in the spring, the difference is critical to the sucess of his argument. So let us see what the commenators really say, and what the Talmud really says. Meyer’s New Testament Commentary for Luke 2:8 states:

“According to this statement [Luke 2:8], Jesus cannot have been born in December, in the middle of the rainy season (Robinson, Pal. II. p. 505 f.), as has been since the fourth century supposed with a probable joining on of the festival to the Natales solis invicti (see Gieseler, Kirchengesch. I. 2, p. 287 f. ed. 4). Just as little can He have been born on the sixth day of January, which in the East was even earlier fixed as the festival of the birth and baptism (still other times fixed as the day of birth may be seen in Clement Al. Strom. I. p. 339 f. Sylb.). According to the Rabbins, the driving forth of the flocks took place in March, the bringing in of them in November (see Lightfoot); and if this is established at least as the usual course, it certainly is not in favour of the hypothesis (Wieseler) that Jesus was born in February ([AUC] 750 [i.e. 4 BC]), and necessitates precarious accessory assumptions” (Meyer’s NT Commentary, emphasis mine).

Let us now take a trip to Barnes Notes on the Bible for Luke 2:8:

“Abiding in the field - Remaining out of doors, under the open sky, with their flocks. This was commonly done. The climate was mild, and, to keep their flocks from straying, they spent the night with them. It is also a fact that the Jews sent out their flocks into the mountainous and desert regions during the summer months, and took them up in the latter part of October or the first of November, when the cold weather commenced. While away in these deserts and mountainous regions, it was proper that there should be someone to attend them to keep them from straying, and from the ravages of wolves and other wild beasts.” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, emphasis mine).

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary for Luke 2:8 says:

“watch … by night—or, night watches, taking their turn of watching. From about passover time in April until autumn, the flocks pastured constantly in the open fields, the shepherds lodging there all that time. (From this it seems plain that the period of the year usually assigned to our Lord's birth is too late)” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary).

Turning now to John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible:

On which, one of their commentators (r) observes: “These lie in the pastures, which are in the villages, all the days of cold and heat, and do not go into the cities, until the rains descend.” The first rain is in the month Marchesvan, which answers to the latter part of our October, and the former part of November; and of this sort, seem to be the flocks those shepherds were keeping by night, the time not being yet come, of their being brought into the city: from whence it appears, that Christ must be born before the middle of October, since the first rain was not yet come; concerning this, the Gemara (s) is more large [contains longer commentary]: “the Rabbins teach, that these are they of the wilderness, or fields, and these are they of the house; they of the field are they that go out on the passover, and feed in the pastures, and come in at the first rain; and these are they of the house, all that go out and feed without the border, and come and lie within the border (fixed for a sabbath day's journey): Rabbi says, those, and those are of the house; but these are they that are of the field, all they that go out and feed in the pastures, and do not come in to remain, neither in the days of the sun, nor in the days of the rains” (Gill's Exposition of the Entire BibleSources: (o) Tzeror Hamrnor, fol. 73. 3.((p) In Matthew 25.6. (q) Misn. Betza, c. 5. sect. 7. (r) Maimon. in ib. (s) T. Bab. Betza, for. 40. 1. & Sabbat. fol. 45. 2. Vid Maimon Hilch. Yom Tob, c. 2. sect. 2.)

I went to some trouble to locate at least one of the mentioned passages, and found that in Shabbat 45b:

שבת מ״ה ב פצעילי תמרה לרבי שמעון מהוא"לאין מוקצה לר"ש אלא גרוגרות וצימוקין בלבדורבי לית ליה מוקצהוהתנןאין משקין ושוחטין את המדבריות אבל משקין ושוחטין את הבייתותותניאאלו הן מדבריות כל שיוצאות בפסח ונכנסות ברביעהבייתות כל שיוצאות ורועות חוץ לתחום ובאות ולנות בתוך התחוםר' אומר אלו ואלו בייתות הן ואלו הן מדבריות כל שרועות באפר ואין נכנסות לישוב לא בימות החמה ולא בימות הגשמים (Shabbat 45b, Jerusalem Talmud).

And Adam Clarke on Luke 2:8:

It was a custom among the Jews to send out their sheep to the deserts, about the passover, and bring them home at the commencement of the first rain: during the time they were out, the shepherds watched them night and day. As the passover occurred in the spring, and the first rain began early in the month of Marchesvan, which answers to part of our October and November, we find that the sheep were kept out in the open country during the whole of the summer. And as these shepherds had not yet brought home their flocks, it is a presumptive argument that October had not yet commenced, and that, consequently, our Lord was not born on the 25th of December, when no flocks were out in the fields; nor could he have been born later than September, as the flocks were still in the fields by night. On this very ground the nativity in December should be given up. The feeding of the flocks by night in the fields is a chronological fact, which casts considerable light upon this disputed point. See the quotations from the Talmudists in Lightfoot (Adam Clarke).

Let us now take a look at Bishop Lightfoot’s notes on Luke 2:8. Lightfoot actually knew Hebrew and read the sources:

And there were shepherds keeping watch over their flock. אילו הן מדבריות Thesex are the sheep of the wilderness; viz. those which go out to pasture about the time of the Passover, and are fed in the fields, ונכנסות ברביעה ראשׁונה and return home upon the first rain.

“Whichy isz the first rain? It begins on the third of the month Marchesvan. The middle rain is on the seventh: the last on the seventeenth. So R. Meier: but R. Judah saith, On the seventh, seventeenth, and one-and-twentieth.”

The spring coming on, they drove their beasts into wildernesses or champaign grounds, where they fed them the whole summer, keeping watch over them night and day, that they might not be impaired either by thieves or ravenous beasts. They had for this purpose מגדל נוצתים their tower to watch in, or else צריפין certain small cottages erected for this very end, as we have observed elsewhere. Now in the month Marchesvana, which is part of our October and part of November, the winter coming on, they betook themselves home again with the flocks and the herds” (Bishop Lightfoot, A Commentary of the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, 1658).

x Schabb. fol. 45.2. Bezah, fol. 40.1. yEnglish folio edition, vol. ii. p. 391. zNedarim, fol. 63. 1. Taanith, fol. 6.1. aLeusden’s edition, vol. ii. p. 497.

So we have a window of time between March and November when the shepherds were out in their fields at night. The early rains arrived in November and the late rains came in February to early March. This is because the agricultural year went from the fall season to the spring season in Israel. The barley was planted in the fall, and then it soaked up the early rains. The barley crop received the later rains, and was ripe enough for consumption just before the spring equinox.

The time frame of the shepherds parallels that of Quirinius, who was legate of Syria at most from early summer to late September 2 BC. This shuts the door on every theory of Messiah’s birth staged between late November and early spring. Cahn’s theory survives these two tests, but in the process he had made the less than honest remark that implies the Shepherds were only in the fields in the spring, and then contradicts it later. Luke’s careful statements are calculated to give us chronological information in a literary style, and not as a scientific treatise. The Talmudic sources are based on observations of the shepherding trade in the first century. And those observations include the fall as well as the spring.

Cahn proceeds to make a valid point against the theory that Yĕshūa̒ was born at the feast of Tabernacles. The Torah required Yōseph to be in Jerusalem during the feast. But he wasn’t in Jerusalem. He was in Bethlehem. He is called a righteous man. He would not be in Bethlehem if he was supposed to be in Jerusalem. And Luke does say, “And it had been, in their being there, the days were filled for her to give birth, and she gave birth to her firstborn son” (Luke 2:7). And I may add to this that the Romans were not so ill willed as to require everyone to go to their own city at the same time as a Jewish feast. In fact, at this time the Romans were being very joyful. They thought the new era of peace had come, and soldiers were being released from the legions. They were putting on fabulous games in Rome. And much wealth was being spent and given away by Caesar, who had just been awarded the title Pater Patriae by the Roman Senate. The census too was an inventory of the whole world. Augustus wanted a complete anthropological accounting of the Empire. Wars were supposed to end. It was the Pax Romana, the Roman Peace. The last thing Rome wanted to so was to upset the Jews, and on this very matter Augustus was quite upset with Herod.

With no foundation, and after having contradicted himself earlier, Cahn repeats the incorrect remarks about shepherds especially being in the fields in the spring. He also has omitted remarking about Tishri 1. For clearly Tishri 1 is not excluded by the remarks about Tabernacles, since Yom Teruah was not a pilgrim festival. But regarding the spring he reiterates, “that’s the only time.” Cahn proceeds to connect the nighttime watches of the shepherds with the process of lambing, which is in the spring. But this omits that shepherds most commonly watch at night to keep their sheep safe at night when they have driven them to remoter areas in search of grass. Shepherds often build huts, or crude shelters, or watchtowers to keep an eye on the flock at night, which they have gathered in from daytime ranging to bed down near their temporary shelter. Cahn certainly has plenty of pious spiritual sentimentality in letting us picture the shepherds waiting on the birth of lambs, but it is sad to say the truth is not in this spirit.

Cahn proceeds to say that the lambs were especially for the Temple sacrifices, and refers to Rabbinic literature, but he gives no citation of sources on this. Probably he is relying on Alfred Edersheim, whom I have discredited. See here. Cahn proceeds to argue that the Passover lamb is a year old, and that it is born in the spring, and can be sacrificed the next spring as a passover lamb. However, he fails to note that many lambs are born after Passover, and that they could well be a year and 11 months old before being offered, or they could be as young as just over 12 months. He insists that since they are generally born in the spring, and generally are offered in the spring, that that this typological analogy he has created is somehow a chronological rule that must be obeyed. He argues that since Mĕssiah died in the spring that the typological connection forces us to conclude that he was born in the spring. This kind of logic is presumptuous. If two things line up (often assumed that they do) then it proves that they must be true. This is a circular reasoning. Taking note of typological correspondences is never a valid objective basis for historical chronology. It should be left in the department of illustration where it belongs. To realize how non-objective typological argumentation is in the department of chronology, one should imagine all the other typological connections that could be made with the alternative chronologies. Cahn has ditched a host of illustrations that could be connected between a Tishri 1 birth and Mĕssiah, the fanfare of trumpets and blowing. The news that a new king is born, and that a new age is beginning. Tishri is the new year for kings. If one combs the literature, one can find spiritual illustrations for just about any season of the year. It never has any business being used as chronological dictums.

Cahn claims, “The first Hebrew holiday ever given to Israel was Palm Sunday!” His statement was put up by the producer. And I thought the first holy day given to Israel was the Sabbath. Granted that a holiday in English is an annual event. In that case, the first Sabbath of Passover week is the first “holiday,” as it became the first annual celebratory day. In fact, when the Sabbath is reintroduced in Exodus 16, they are called to remember the Sabbath, the day that had been set apart since the creation was finished. So Cahn’s statement is quite distracting from this truth. And if there is a first holiday given to Israel, then it has to be the Passover. And the first Passover did not occur on a Sunday. The first feast day to fall on a Sunday happened in 1631 BC, the second year after the Exodus, and this was when the new moon of Tishri 1 just happened to fall on the first day of the week. Now as for “Palm Sunday,” this was an invention of the Church of Rome. And because they reject that Messiah died on the 4th day of the week, and rose of the 7th, they have missed the correct chronology of the rest of that week. Palm Sunday was really Palm Sabbath. As it is, in the Catholic view, their Palm Sunday forces the week to have a silent Wednesday. Backing up two days to the correct day eliminates the silent Wednesday, and puts the Triumphal entry on the Sabbath, so that it is Palm Sabbath (a day of rejoicing). Now on Sunday, the next day, that is when he cursed the fig tree, and this is also when he cast the money changers out of the Temple for the second time. So that Sunday was a day of judgment. And Palm Sabbath was a day of joy. This is proved in more detail in the Scroll of Biblical Chronology.

Cahn cites the 10th day of Nisan as a holiday, because they took the lamb on that day. At the time of the Exodus, this day fell on the first day of the week, and in AD 34, during the week Yĕshūa̒ died, it fell on a Sabbath. The problem with this view is that Nisan 10 never was a holiday or a holy day. It was a one time instruction for the year of the Exodus. In the after years, they could take the lamb on any day preceding the time required for sacrificing it. The text is Exodus 12:3, and it is joined with the command to place the blood on the door posts and the lintel in Exodus 12:7. That command also was a one time command for that month in Egypt. The text does make a distinction between the perpetual commandments and the situational. John Gill explains:

The Targum of Jonathan suggests, that this direction of taking a lamb to them on the tenth day of the month was only for this time, and not for following ages; and so the Jewish doctors (c) commonly understand it as being peculiar to the passover in Egypt, and not in later times; for they (d) say,"what difference is there between the passover in Egypt, and the passover in later ages? the passover in Egypt was taken within the tenth day, and was obliged to sprinkling with a bunch of hyssop upon the lintel, and upon the two side posts, and was eaten with haste in one night, but the passover in later ages was kept all the seven days.''The ground and reason of this special direction for taking up a lamb on the tenth day was, that they might have a lamb ready; and that through the multiplicity of business, and the hurry they would be in at their departure, they might not forget it, and neglect it; and that they might have time enough to examine whether it had all the prerequisites and qualifications that were necessary; and that while they had it in view, they might be led to meditate upon, and talk of, expect and firmly believe their deliverance; yea, that their faith might be directed to a far greater deliverance by the Messiah, which this was only typical of, Hebrews 11:28 but some of these reasons would hold good in later times, and it seems by some circumstances that this rule was attended to.

(c) Ben Gersom in loc. Maimon. Korban Pesach. c. 10. sect. 15. (d) Misn. Pesach. c. 9. sect. 5.

Cahn urges us to count back from the last supper on the 14th of Nisan to arrive at Sunday Nisan 10. His accounting looks like this:

SUN     MON     TUE     WED     THU     FRI     SAB
 10      11      12      13      14      15      16

Cahn follows this with the statement, “He dies on the other holy day which is Passover,” and the words put on the screen are “Jesus dies on the Feast of Passover.” It is clear from this accounting that Cahn puts the crucifixion on the 15th of Nisan (Friday). Is this possible? The dates of Nisan 15 in the first century are, in which the preceding Nisan 10 is on a Sunday, and in the range of years 27-34 are:

AD 27   April 11 Friday       Contradicts Luke 3:1.
AD 30   April  7 Friday       Contradicts Luke 3:1. Doubtful Astronomy.
AD 34   April 23 Friday       Requires Adar II to be miscalculated.

This Nisan 15 date for the crucifixion was also promoted by Alfred Edersheim, yet John clearly puts the crucifixion on Nisan 14. Now in Exodus 12:15 it mentions the “first day” of Passover as they day they are to remove the leaven. In Hebrew this really means, “the head most day” and refers to the 14th of Nisan, and this is the meaning that the Rabbis impart to the instruction. Likewise in Matthew, Mark and Luke, the phrase “first day of unleavened bread” means the head most day of the feast, namely Nisan 14 which heads up the seven days of unleavened bread. In Greek the key word is a superlative and means something like first most day. I don’t know if Cahn and Edersheim were aware that the Synoptic problem originates in Exodus 12:15, and how the Rabbis solved it. If it is proposed that first day there means Nisan 15, then the commandment for leaven not to be found in the house for seven days is broken. Likewise, the words in Mat. 26:17 and like texts should mean the 14th day, and not the 15th day, so that John is not contradicted. To give an analogy, if an old king dies, then his son begins to reign in the same year, and this same year is not counted as his first year, but the next year is counted as his first year, and the year he began to reign in is called the accession year. In like manner the Hebrew can distinguish between the two years by calling the year the new king began to reign the “head most year” and the next year the “first year.” It so happens that in Hebrew consonants, both translations appear as הראשון, which mean be either “the head most” ha-rosh-on or “the first.” ha-rishon. In like manner the Greek πρωτος (first) is sometimes taken in the sense of προτερος (firstest, former).

Cahn and Edersheim both beg the question as to how it is possible to prepare for the Passover when the time for sacrificing the lamb is already past, and the meal is supposed to be starting. And this Nisan 15 crucifixion theory is only proposed by advocates of a Friday crucifixion and Sunday resurrection, which contradicts Mathew 12:40, and Luke 24:21 (see Peshitta text), and many other points. But that would take us away from our subject at present.

Cahn says that the birth cannot happen in the autumn because the autumn feasts relate to the second coming. But again this is the error of preconceived typological reasoning. We can counter it with the example that John 1:14 uses the example of a tabernacle to relate to Yĕshūa̒’s incarnation, which I believe happened at his conception. This typological connection by John certainly does not relate to the second coming. It does not prove he was born at the feast of Tabernacles either. My point is that ignoring the literal passages relating to chronology, and substituting homiletical illustrations as a means of determining correct chronology is not handling the word of truth correctly. It is a method of malpractice that leads to great error. Expositors of Scripture who wish to exposit truly must stick to the literal sense of the texts to determine what the truth is, and keep their illustrations strictly in the department of explaining what the truth is or illustrating it, and not determining it. Only the plain literal sense of texts belongs in a chain of chronological reasoning to arrive at the historical truth.

Cahn states that “Nisan One is the very beginning of the Hebrew year.” And the producer puts on the screen, “The first day of Nisan, Nisan One, is the very beginning of the Hebrew year.” Is this correct? No it is not correct. Exodus 12:2 says that, “ “This month for you, is the head of months. It will be headmost for you, of the months of the year.†” This is to say that the first month will number first in the year. It may head up the actual year by preceding it somewhat, or it may come after the beginning day of the year at bit. In any case it is the first or head most month of the year. This does not mean that Nisan 1/Aviv 1 is new years day. The day of the new year is determined by the sun, and this fall on the first day of the spring equinox. The Scripture never calls Nisan 1 a new year day, but it ordains the sun to determine the start and end of years (cf. Gen. 1:14).

Cahn claims that “Jesus died at the full moon.” This is an astronomically hazardous claim to make unless Cahn has a specific year in mind when Nisan 15 and the full moon coincided exactly. If April 7, AD 30 is his target date, then the moon was full about 15 hours before the crucifixion. When the moon rose in the east on April 6th about 18:00 IST, it was not yet full. But about one hour before midnight it became full. Again, the 14th or 15th of Nisan does not automatically fall on the full moon day. In AD 30 it did. There is no Scriptural requirement for a feast day to be a full moon, either the 14th or 15th. The full moon, in fact, can range between days 13-16 of a month depending on the year and the month. The art of claiming that things must be so because such and such an astronomical phenomenon agrees with it, or lines up with it, is no proof of its truth. It is faulty thinking.

Cahn declaims that “Jesus died on Nisan 14-15.” It appears that he is aware of the dispute between the two days, and that he is trying to please both sides. He claims that the moon had to be full “that day.” But he has just referred to two days! He seems to be aware that the full moon can range over a period of days in the middle of the month. The problem is, as I have pointed out, his range is not wide enough for all the cases, and there is no requirement that the full moon fall on any particular day in that range. Cahn then strikes off in to a clearly erronous “folk etymology” of the word full, suggesting that it means fulfillment, a word that the Christian world thoroughly misunderstands! The moon marks time, and the moon gives light, and the most light when its disk is full. Beyond this, it is speculation to claim that the moon means anything.

Cahn quotes Isaiah 60:6 and relates it to the Magi from the East. “A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of Yăhwēh.” And this is just after he said that they practiced the religon of Zoroastrianism. Cahn has thoroughly taken the text out of context! Midian, Ephah, and Sheba, are not Persia, Babylon, or the Parthian Empire. This text cannot be claimed as a prophetic mention of the Magi in prophecy. The producer put the text thus on the screen, “A multitude of camels will cover you...They will bring gold and frankincense...” (Isa. 60:6). Cahn says, “It actually prophesies the Magi.” Well it does not. Both Cahn and the producer left out the geographical terms which would prove that it cannot refer to the Magi. I have italicized the key words. And leaving them out is not according to truth. The host completely ate the words up, “However did I miss that?”

Cahn says that no natural star is able to move and guide you to a place. I have covered this error in The Thinking of the Magi, and somewhat in the reviews of Jason Lisle and Danny Faulkner.

Cahn remarks that the Magi came two years later, i.e. after the birth. The time was only 4 months. Cahn’s timing is impossible because Herod died shortly after their visit on Dec. 28-29, 2 BC, about Jan 29th, 1 BC. The Roman Governor of Syria at the time was Varus, who had just come into office about October or so of 2 BC. Quirinius, the governor who oversaw the census, was only in office from sometime in early summer to the fall. And his predecessor, Sentius Saturninus was mentioned by Jospehus in office in the spring before Herod’s death. There is no space for Quirinius to be legate of Syria except in the window between the summer and fall of 2 BC. It therefore follows that the birth had to occur, not two years before, but less than a year, considering the details I have mentioned. But we know it was on Tishri 1, 2 BC (Sept 1).

Cahn states as a fact that Herod died in 4 BC, and then he puts the birth in 6 BC, which with his putative date of the birth on Nisan 1 results in this age profile:

6 5 4 3 2 1 1 2 3 4  5  6 .... 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 .... 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34
                    Tiberius   5  6  7  8  9  10 11 12 13 14 15
check: -5 = 0
       30 = 30
       25 = 30

We see that Yĕshūa̒ ends up at 30 years of age in AD 25, about 3 years before Tiberius’ 15th year begins. The contradiction here to Luke 3:1 and 3:23 is absolute and without solution. Herod died in 1 BC, and Josephus mentions an eclipse of the moon just before he died. This was Jan 9/10, 1 BC, a total lunar eclipse. The Scripture simply does not agree with the theory that Herod died in 4 BC.

Cahn claims that a convergence of several planets in 6 BC would be significant to the Magi. We can’t really say what is or is not significant to them, but I can suggest that the convergence of the planets in August 2 BC and the helical rising of Jupiter and the sign of the Virgin on 31 Aug. was much more spectacular, and much richer in connections that could be drawn to the birth of a king in Judea. His date in 6 BC for the birth is March 21-22. I will only say that the suggested astrological interpretation that the Magi might put on this is very poor indeed to the story line they would get during 3-2 BC, with the triple conjunction of Jupiter and Regulus in Leo, and the two occultations of Jupiter, along with the unprecedented conjunction of Jupiter and Venus. It is also very questionable that Aries (the Ram) would be recognized as a symbol of Judah. Leo would be given first place in that regard. And of course the Rev. 12:1-2 sign tops it all off. The foundation of Cahn’s theory, however, simply contradicts what points the Scripture makes about the chronology. And that is the real problem.

Cahn says the astronomers say such a conjunction happens only once every 6000 years (referring to the 6 BC positions). But really, how often a set up happens depends on how many items you put into the set up. Since Cahn has not stated this, and also since Cahn has not provided us a comparison with other set ups of similar complexity, and their stats, his assertion is completely meaningless. Yet he means it to sway his audience into thinking the odds are on his side. I suggest that if a fair comparison were made to events of 3-2 BC that the latter would win with no contest. But I need not do it, because Cahn has utterly failed to present his theory on an objective basis, and it is already to be rejected because it fails the Scripture test of truth.

Cahn’s final argument is to try to confirm his March 20 (or 21) 6 BC birth date on Nisan 1 using priestly divisions, and the mention of the division of Abijah in Luke 1:5. To determine when the divisions start Cahn counts backwards from Rabbi Halaphta’s notation that the 2nd Temple was destroyed on 9 Av, on a Sunday, while the first division was serving (i.e. Aug. 5, AD 70). Abijah is the 8th division. Cahn counts the divisions backwards from that point, 1, 24-1, 24-1,....24-8, stopping at division 8, starting on November 30, 8 BC. The Julian date is: 1718835. Using the priestly division formula: Add 1: 1718836. Divide by 7: 245548. Add 3: 245551. MOD 24: 7. Add 1: 8. So the calculation is correct. The birth of Mĕssiah has to be between 14 and 16.5 months later. The number of days is 29.5x14 to 29.5 x 16.5 or 413 to 487. Add 7 days to the Julian date for the conception of John: 1718842. The Range for the birth of Messiah is JD: 1719255 to 1719329. What is the Julian date of Nisan 1, 6 BC? It is 1719312. This lies in the 2.5 range allowed, but the calculation is not exact like the one in 2 BC. What invalidates Cahn’s argument is not the use of priestly divisions. He has simply done it in the wrong year! See my paper: The Reign of Tiberius Caesar.

End Notes

1:1¹ ^A day on which good things are enrolled attracts more good things to be enrolled for that day. And a day on which evil is enrolled attracts more evil to be enrolled for it. This is a fatalistic philosophy, and is not fated to always be true. The real situation is not exactly as Rabbi Halaphta presented it. The 9th of A̕v̱ in 587 BC, when the first temple was destroyed, was on the Sabbath, and only by interpreting the day from dawn to dawn can part of it be called the “going out of the Sabbath.” The text speaks of the night immediately after the Sabbath. In AD 70, the 9th of A̕v̱ fell on a Sunday, which is strictly speaking “the going out of the Sabbath.” The first course was not on duty on 9 A̕v̱ in 587 BC. For this to occur, the divisions have to cross over an Adar II, and there was none in 587 BC. The Rabbi did not know the year of the first destruction, but he contrived to place it 490 years before the second destruction. Also, it was not the first year of the Sabbatic cycle. It was the 4th in 587 BC. In AD 70 it was the 2nd year of the Sabbatic cycle. The Rabbi contrived it to be the first year of a Sabbatic cycle by placing the destruction in AD 69, which was later proved incorrect. AD 69 was the first year of the Sabbatical cycle, but AD 69 contains no Adar II, and so the 9th of A̕v̱ in it cannot synchronize with the first division.

The information received by the Rabbi was thus: 1. The first Temple was burned on the 10th of A̕v̱ (Jer. 52:6-12; 2Kings 25:8). But perhaps the fire was set on the 9th, and this is why it is remembered. 2. The second Temple was destroyed, according to Josephus on the 10th day of Av (Wars of the Jews 6:250 ), but again, perhaps the fire was set in the afternoon of the 9th. 2. When the second temple was destroyed, the 9th of A̕v̱ was a Sunday, and the first division was on duty.

Only that much is valid. The Rabbi proceeded to complicate the historical facts with his own theory. He chose a year for the destruction of the second temple that was the first year of the Sabbatical cycle (AD 69). He did not, and was unable to check the astronomical consistency of his choice with, A. the 19 year cycle, and when Adar II would appear, and B. The weekday of the 9th of A̕v̱. He assumed the first temple was destroyed in the first year of the cycle because his theory of Daniel 9 required it. He assumed that the priestly courses landed the same way in both cases. His assumptions voided the evidence. A̕v̱ 9 in AD 69 was on a Monday, and there was no Adar II in that year.

Only when the destruction date is corrected to AD 70 does it become evident which information is correct. The A̕v̱ 9 date, and the Sunday prove correct, as also that the first course was on duty. Halaphta’s sabbatical theory is proved incorrect, because it was based on AD 69. And everything claimed about the first destruction proves incorrect, except the A̕v̱ 9 date. The key point we must take away, however, is that the Rabbi (and his audience) believed that the divisions began with the Sabbath before Tishri 1, so that the first course was on duty on Tishri 1. If the Rabbi made up the A̕v̱ 9 date and the first division being on duty, then he made it up according to accepted theory for the courses. That the data actually agrees in AD 70, however, is strong evidence that he did not make this part up. It was a Sunday on A̕v̱ 9 in AD 70.