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Author: Subject: Date of Yeshua's birth
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[*] Post 510570 posted on 24-12-2017 at 03:13 Reply With Quote
Date of Yeshua's birth



In my preparation for the two Christmas services in which I will preach, I ran across some material about the date of Jesus' birth.

One author thought that he knew the dates during which Zachariah's course of priests would serve each year (he who was to be John the Baptizer's father). He figured that John would have been conceived just after the week during which Zachariah served, when Zachariah had enough time to return home. Since Mary was told Elizabeth was 6 months along when the angel announced Mary would bear the Savior, this author came up with a date in September.

I checked this against one of the greatest Christian authorities on the Judean religion, history, practices, and writing, Dr. Alfred Edersheim, author of The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. I have enlarged the main text so as to distinguish it from the footnotes.

Quote:
But as we pass from the sacred gloom of the cave out into the night, its sky all aglow with starry brightness, its loneliness is peopled, and its silence made vocal from heaven. There is nothing now to conceal, but much to reveal, though the manner of it would seem strangely incongruous to Jewish thinking. And yet Jewish tradition may here prove both illustrative and helpful. That the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem,18 was a settled conviction. Equally so was the belief, that He was to be revealed from Migdal Eder, 'the tower of the flock.'19 This Migdal Eder was not the watchtower for the ordinary flocks which pastured on the barren sheepground beyond Bethlehem, but lay close to the town, on the road to Jerusalem. A passage in the Mishnah20 leads to the conclusion, that the flocks, which pastured there, were destined for Temple-sacrifices,21 and, accordingly, that the shepherds, who watched over them, were not ordinary shepherds. The latter were under the ban of Rabbinism,22 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.23 Thus, Jewish tradition in some dim manner apprehended the first revelation of the Messiah from that Migdal Eder, where shepherds watched the Temple-flocks all the year round. Of the deep symbolic significance of such a coincidence, it is needless to speak.

18. In the curious story of His birth, related in the Jer. Talmud (Ber. ii. 3), He is said to have been born in 'the royal castle of Bethlehem;' while in the parallel narrative in the Midr. on Lament. i. 16, ed. W. p. 64 b) the somewhat mysterious expression is used )br( trybb. But we must keep in view the Rabbinic statement that, even if a castle falls down, it is still called a castle (Yalkut, vol. ii. p. 60 b).

19. Targum Pseudo-Jon. On Gen. xxxv. 21. 20. Shek. vii. 4.

21. In fact the Mishnah (Baba K. vii. 7) expressly forbids the keeping of flocks throughout the land of Israel, except in the wilderness - and the only flocks otherwise kept, would be those for the Temple-services (Baba K. 80 a).

22. This disposes of an inapt quotation (from Delitzsch) by Dr. Geikie. No one could imagine, that the Talmudic passages in question could apply to such shepherds as these.

23. The mean of 22 seasons in Jerusalem amounted to 4.718 inches in December, 5.479 in January, and 5.207 in February (see a very interesting paper by Dr. Chaplin in Quart. Stat. of Pal. Explor. Fund, January, 1883). For 1876-77 we have these startling figures: mean for December, .490; for January, 1.595; for February, 8.750 - and, similarly, in other years. And so we read: 'Good the year in which Tebheth (December) is without rain' (Taan. 6 b). Those who have copied Lightfoot's quotations about the flocks not lying out during the winter months ought, at least, to have known that the reference in the Talmudic passages is expressly to the flocks which pastured in 'the wilderness' (wl) twyrbdm Nh). But even so, the statement, as so many others of the kind, is not accurate. For, in the Talmud two opinions are expressed. According to one, the 'Midbariyoth,' or 'animals of the wilderness,' are those which go to the open at the Passovertime, and return at the first rains (about November); while, on the other hand, Rabbi maintains, and, as it seems, more authoritatively, that the wilderness-flocks remain in the open alike in the hottest days and in the rainy season - i.e. all the year round (Bezah 40 a). Comp. also Tosephta Bezah iv. 6. A somewhat different explanation is given in Jer. Bezah 63 b.

It was, then, on that 'wintry night' of the 25th of December,24 that shepherds watched the flocks destined for sacrificial services, in the very place consecrated by tradition as that where the Messiah was to be first revealed. Of a sudden came the long-delayed, unthought-of announcement. Heaven and earth seemed to mingle, as suddenly an Angel stood before their dazzled eyes, while the outstreaming glory of the Lord seemed to enwrap them, as in a mantle of light.25 Surprise, awe, fear would be hushed into calm and expectancy, as from the Angel they heard, that what they saw boded not judgment, but ushered in to waiting Israel the great joy of those good tidings which he brought: that the long-promised Saviour, Messiah, Lord, was born in the City of David, and that they themselves might go and see, and recognize Him by the humbleness of the circumstances surrounding His Nativity.
24. There is no adequate reason for questioning the historical accuracy of this date. The objections generally made rest on grounds, which seem to me historically untenable. The subject has been fully discussed in an article by Cassel in Herzog's Real. Ency. xvii. pp. 588-594. 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 that day as that of Christ's birth, and it is remarkable that, between the years 500 and 816 a.d. the 25th of December fell no less than twelve times on the 9th Tebheth. If the 9th Tebheth, or 25th December, was regarded as the birthday of Christ, we can understand the concealment about it. Comp. Zunz, Ritus d. Synag. Gottesd. p. 126.


To summarize: this expert on the history of the Jewish people in the Biblical era finds the December 25 date to be convincingly supported, and it entirely fits the fact that the shepherds whose flocks were designated for Temple sacrifice would be raising their sheep in Bethlehem in December.

And, did you catch the note, that this date later coincided with a fast day for which there was no acknowledged reason among the rabbis?
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[*] Post 510575 posted on 24-12-2017 at 04:41 Reply With Quote


It is an interesting concept. Certainly worthy of more study.
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[*] Post 510577 posted on 24-12-2017 at 11:25 Reply With Quote


It's been postulated that Dec. 25th. was used, deliberately, so that it could be used to interfere with the summer solstice celebrations and kinda subsume them.

We all know that Dec. 25th. as a date, didn't even exist, then. Nor was Christ born in the year where 1BC ends and 1AD starts.

The thing that gets me, is that the people who celebrate Christmas, most vehemently, are atheists...
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