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TorahTimes Messianic Ministry

Teaching Truths about Torah, Time, and Messiah

Ruling out Mid November to Mid March

Using knowledge of the priestly divisions and Luke 1:5 we can rule out a birth in the range from mid November to mid March. This refutes the December 25th dating of Rome and the January 6 dating of the Eastern Church. I will establish the foundations of the priestly divisions later. For now it is sufficient to say that the continuous rotating model of 24 weeks is correct. The first division was on duty when the second temple was destroyed. From there we figure backwards to when the services of the eighth division were in 3 BC. There are two of these per year. So there are two in 3 BC. Selecting the first Aνıyah service points to a birth of Messiah on March 17th, 2 BC or afterward. To get to after this date requires adding two types of delay. If the conceptions were delayed after the announcements. Or if the child was born past the term date. As we can see there are no reasonable delay times that can push this into the range we are refuting. The second service of Aνıyah points to a birth on Sept 1, 2 BC or afterwards. Any time afterwards would have to invoke delays again, either the child being born past term, or a delay between the announcement and the conception. I have placed these limits at two weeks delay after the announcement, and four weeks delay after the due date. Anything more, I think everyone will agree is unreasonable. There were in fact no delays at all. But this thought experiment is sufficient to prove any date between mid November and mid March impossible.

So now that I have summarized the matter here, let us get into the details. First we have to establish the year of the conception and the year of the birth. Luke 3:1 tells us that Yoɦanan began his ministry in the 15th year of Tiberius. This dates between Sept. 18, AD 28 and Sept. 18, AD 29. Yoɦanan was 30 when he began his ministry as shown by Luke 1:80. By Law Priests cannot be ordained before their 30th birthday. On the other hand he was not more than 30 because less than half a year later Messiah is almost 30 (Luke 3:23) when Yoɦanan immerses him. There are five months between their conceptions and births (Luke 1:24-25). So now it is a matter of counting backwards. Sometime inside of the 15th year of Tiberius Yoɦanan turned 30, was ordained, and began his ministry and immersed Messiah before he was 30.

Year 15,  9/18/28 to 9/18/29  Yoɦanan 30,  AD 29
Year 14,  9/18/27 to 9/18/28  Yoɦanan 29,  AD 28
Year 14,  9/18/26 to 9/18/27  Yoɦanan 28,  AD 27
Year 14,  9/18/25 to 9/18/26  Yoɦanan 27,  AD 26
Year 14,  9/18/24 to 9/18/25  Yoɦanan 26,  AD 25
Year 14,  9/18/23 to 9/18/24  Yoɦanan 25,  AD 24
Year 14,  9/18/22 to 9/18/23  Yoɦanan 24,  AD 23
Year 14,  9/18/21 to 9/18/22  Yoɦanan 23,  AD 22
Year 14,  9/18/20 to 9/18/21  Yoɦanan 22,  AD 21
Year 14,  9/18/19 to 9/18/20  Yoɦanan 21,  AD 20
Year 14,  9/18/18 to 9/18/19  Yoɦanan 20,  AD 19
Year 14,  9/18/17 to 9/18/18  Yoɦanan 19,  AD 18
Year 14,  9/18/16 to 9/18/17  Yoɦanan 18,  AD 17
Year 14,  9/18/15 to 9/18/16  Yoɦanan 17,  AD 16
Year 14,  9/18/14 to 9/18/15  Yoɦanan 16,  AD 15
Year 14,  9/18/13 to 9/18/14  Yoɦanan 15,  AD 14
Year 14,  9/18/12 to 9/18/13  Yoɦanan 14,  AD 13
Year 14,  9/18/11 to 9/18/12  Yoɦanan 13,  AD 12
Year 14,  9/18/10 to 9/18/11  Yoɦanan 12,  AD 11
Year 14,  9/18/ 9 to 9/18/10  Yoɦanan 11,  AD 10
Year 14,  9/18/ 8 to 9/18/ 9  Yoɦanan 10,  AD  9
Year 14,  9/18/ 7 to 9/18/ 8  Yoɦanan  9,  AD  8
Year 14,  9/18/ 6 to 9/18/ 7  Yoɦanan  8,  AD  7
Year 14,  9/18/ 5 to 9/18/ 6  Yoɦanan  7,  AD  6
Year 14,  9/18/ 4 to 9/18/ 5  Yoɦanan  6,  AD  5
Year 14,  9/18/ 3 to 9/18/ 4  Yoɦanan  5,  AD  4
Year 14,  9/18/ 2 to 9/18/ 3  Yoɦanan  4,  AD  3
Year 14,  9/18/ 1 to 9/18/ 2  Yoɦanan  3,  AD  2
Year 14,  9/18/ 1BC to 9/18/ 1AD  Yoɦanan  2,  AD  1
Year 14,  9/18/ 2BC to 9/18/ 1BC  Yoɦanan  1,  BC  1
Year 14,  9/18/ 3BC to 9/18/ 2BC  Yoɦanan  0,  BC  2

To find a range for conception we have to add 266 days to the end points of the 0 year. The conception range is 12/26/4BC to 12/26/3BC. Average time between conception and birth is 266 days, or 14 days less than the 280 days for the L.M.P. method. Any possible deviations from the ideal average here will not affect the result. Let us discuss the two cases.

Case #1: The eighth division came off duty on Jan. 26th, 3 BC. Here we see that we cannot go back to the previous service as no amount of reasonable delays between conception and announcement or late birth will add up to the 20 weeks necessary to put the conception in the range of dates.

Case #2" The eighth division came off duty on July 13th, 3 BC. Since the next service ends after the end date 12/26/2BC we do not have to consider it.

This means that the data constrain us to only the two divisional services ending Jan 26, 3BC and July 13, 3BC. The results are summarized here:

                       A           B            C            D             E
                       Yōḥanan     Yĕshūa       Yōḥanan      Yĕshūa        Farthest 
                       Conception1 Conception2  birth1       birth2        Limit
Method   Service       1st off     A+29.5*5+1   A+266        B+266-1       +75        
CRS      Abijah-1st    1720354     1720502.5    1720620      1720767.5     1720842.5
                       Jan 27,3 BC Jun 25,3 BC  Oct 20,3 BC  Mar 17,2 BC   May 31,2 BC   
                       XI.9        IV.12        VIII.9       I.10
CRS      Abijah-2nd    1720522     1720670.5    1720788      1720935.5     1721010.5
                       Jul 14,3 BC Dec 10,3 BC  Apr 06,2 BC  Sep 01,2 BC   Nov 15,2 BC   
                       V.I         X.1          II.1         VII.1

In this case I have allowed an accumulation of 75 days of delays, which is almost 11 weeks. In fact any delays are unreasonable. Picking up at the last day of Elıshaνą’s sixth month gains 4 weeks. Delaying the conception 2 weeks after the announcement sums to 6 weeks. Then making the baby overdue by 3 weeks brings the total to 9. But we cannot factor those 3 weeks into a possible overdue birth of Messiah. We have to go back and build on the 6 weeks. Again if the conception is delayed by two weeks, and the birth by 3, this is 5 additional weeks. The total is 11 weeks. Luke does not carefully tell us about the division of Aνıyah, the five months, the sixth month, the three months, so that we will assume delays. In Luke 1:42 we find Miryam already with child after she went in haste to visit her cousin (Luke 1:39). She then stays three months (Luke 1:56) and leaves before Yoɦanan is born. If the announcement was at the end of Elıshaνą’s sixth month, as necessarily assumed by this amount of delay, then adding three months to it would bring her to term. But Miryam left before the birth. If it was that close to term, then why? Further it is unreasonable to suppose the announcements were at the end of a cycle rather than at the ideal times for conception.

Therefore we see that the priestly service times do not allow Messiah to be born in the winter or anytime between mid-November and mid-March. This rules out the traditional date of December 25 and the older January 6 date of the Eastern Church.

This proof has been attacked in numerous ways. One is to deny that “about 30” means “almost 30” or “nearly 30” (Luke 3:23). Liberal scholars have supposed it means something like 30 ± 5 years. More conservative scholars have supposed it means a bit over 30. Friberg’s Lexicon defines the key word, ὡσεὶ, “with numbers and measures about, nearly.” Also Thayer defines it, “b. about, nearly.” The Lexicons define what “about” means. It means the same thing as the English word “nearly.” This is the sort of way a normal person talks. “He is nearly 30.” This implies that the speaker (or writer) actually does know when the birthday is. And we can expect Luke to know this with his personal contacts with the mother of Messiah.

More commonly, the proof is attacked by suggesting that the 15th year of Tiberius (Luke 3:1) wasn’t Sept. 18, AD 28 to Sept. 18, AD 29. There is much evidence that contemporary Roman and Jewish Historians understood it this way. There is no evidence that any historian considered it otherwise. There is coin evidence substantiating AD 28/29 given above, and there is no coin evidence supporting any other dating of Tiberius’ 15th year. Sources suggesting that Tiberius years are dated by Luke according to a coregency from AD 12, instead of AD 14 as acknowledged by contemporary sources, come centuries later. And none of these sources are independent of chronological ignorance generated by the Church of Rome. The Church of Rome had located a possible Friday Passover date for Nisan 14 in AD 30. The coregency theory was invented to defend this date against immediate disproof from Luke 3:1 and John’s Passovers. Therefore, assumptions lead to deceit, and deceit leads to ignoring the contemporary evidence in favor of the Church’s assumption.

Again, the proof is attacked by suggesting that the priestly divisions were reset at an annual date. But this is an assumption. Jewish history records for us that the first division was on duty when the second temple was destroyed. Since we have that date, we can calculate when any division was serving for the entire second temple period. Lutheran Chronologist Roger Beckwith tried to overcome this by working the divisions from August of AD 70 back to the preceding Tishri. In on the first week of Tishri in AD 69 falls the first division again. So he assumed that this was an annual reset date, and accordingly aims to prove a winter date for the birth of Messiah from it. There are two fatal flaws with this argument. The first is that the original divisions were set up in Solomon’s Temple to begin on the second week of Tishri! So a line up with the first week of Tishri by the first division is meaningless. On the Scriptural continuous rotating system (CRS), the first division rotates around all the weeks of the year, so it is bound at times to land on the first week of Tishri. That it started out in the first temple on the second week of Tishri shows that the ideal of an annual reset on the first week of Tishri is false.

The second fatal flaw is that scripture requires all priests to have equal access to serving in the temple and receiving the benefits of their service. None of the annual reset methods meet this legal requirement. They all treat most of the divisions unfairly while giving the privilege of more frequent service to a few low numbered divisions.

These objections lead to less than ideal solutions, solutions that contradict scripture or normal suppositions. In defense of their traditions, opponents either never mention the better solution or are entirely ignorant of the better solution and never mention it.

All the objections have the effect of fogging the evidence. None of the assumptions have the effect of making matters more clear for the proponents of the incorrect theories. So we may say that implicit in assumptions that fog the matter is the idea that Luke never intended to point toward an actual date of birth with all of his numbers. This really begs the question because if you are going to provide numbers then you are going to give the most important first. When Messiah was born is a most critical date. The only reason that Luke does not spell it out is that it was already known via oral transmission. All of Luke’s data line up with a Tishri 1 dating. Luke knew this date, and so did every other Jewish follower of Messiah. When non-Jews stopped listening to the Torah and the Prophets then they started inventing their own theories based on ignorance. Rejection of the Law has everything to do with it. Since Tishri 1 is a feast day in the Torah, the anti-Torah crowd wanted anything other than that date.

Also, so badly persecuted where the Jewish followers of Messiah by the anti-Torah gnostics and Romans, and eventually the Roman Church, that they lost the oral consensus on Messiah’s birth date and began to speculate that maybe it was Tabernacles. This internal dispute among Torah observant Christians is largely in ignorance of Rev. 12:1-2. But it is rejected by the lawless factions. The desire for foggy assumptions that leave the matter more uncertain is really the desire for an anti-theory. In other words, they want the date to be anything except on a major biblical feast day. And even though they know December 25th is doubtful, they keep up the tradition because it serves in place of Yom Teruah (Tishri 1).