Friday, December 11, 2020

The Real Story Of Jesus Birth - Matthew 2, Luke 2

The Real Story Of Jesus Birth - Matthew 2, Luke 2

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Matthew 2:1-18
1  Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2  Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3  When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4  And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5  And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6  And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. 7  Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8  And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 9  When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11  And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 12  And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. 13  And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14  When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: 15  And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. 16  Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. 17  Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, 18  In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Luke 2:1-20
1  And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2  (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3  And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5  To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6  And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7  And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8  And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 15  And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16  And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17  And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18  And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19  But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.


Mary and Joseph returned to Bethlehem because of a census ordered by Augustus and carried out by Cyrenius/ Quirinius, governor (Legat) of Syria. Quirinius was legat of Syria in 6 AD. Many bible historians hold the opinion he was in office 13 years earlier and newer research found there was a census ordered by Rome in 12 BC, which was concluded after 8 or 7 BC. Orders spread out over an entire empire took time, Syria was at the eastern edge of the Roman Empire.


Jesus was born during the reign of King Herod. Herod the Great ruled from 39BC to his death in 4 BC. Mary and Joseph fled with Jesus to Egypt after the visit of the wise men. In those days no weekend trip and it is assumed they stayed one winter before they heard of Herod's death and returned to Nazareth. So, taking in consideration the census that ended in 7 BC and the death of Herod in 4 BC. Jesus would have to be born between 12 and 5 BC. Today most place his birth at 7-5 BC.


Luke 2,8: "That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village guarding their flocks of sheep"... During winter nights sheep were normally held in stables. They were only left in the fields during warmer spring or summer nights.


The Real Wise Men: History of the Magi

According to Herodotus, which lists the names of the six tribes or castes of the Medes, the Magi were a hereditary caste of priests. They were highly influential in Median society until the unification of the Median and Persian Empires in 550 BC, after which their power was curtailed by Cyrus the Great and by Cyrus' son Cambyses II. The Magi revolted against Cambyses and set up a rival claimant to the throne, one of their own, who took the name of Smerdis. Smerdis and his forces were defeated by the Persians under Darius I. The Magi continued to exist in unified Persia, but their influence was limited after this and other political setbacks, and it was not until the Sassanid era (AD 226–650) that they would again achieve prominence.

The Book of Jeremiah (39:3, 39:13) gives a title rab mag "chief magus" to the head of the Magi, Nergal Sharezar.   It's also believed by some Christians that the Jewish prophet Daniel was "rab mag" and entrusted a Messianic vision (to be announced in due time by a "star") to a secret sect of the Magi for its eventual fulfillment (Daniel 4:9; 5: 11). -

How did the Magi Know about the Messiah?

The above article is right in that Daniel left a message but wrong in that is was secret. The message was prophetic and would become clear when the time was fulfilled.  The prophetic passage is found in Daniel Chapter 9, the 70 Weeks Prophecy and is the key to all Biblical prophecy and give the exact date when the Messiah would be born.

The magi saw the star and went back to the prophecies they had recorded. They found the prophecy by Daniel and going backward from the 69th week knew they would be looking for the baby.

The Real Star

Probably the star was a miracle from God, rather than a natural event, still if God chose to use a natural event like a comet or a nova there are some interesting historical events that could fit the description of a star as given in Matthews account.

Defining the word star used by Matthew in chapter 2:2 “Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.”

The word star in the original Greek is aster. It is a general term for any kind of heavenly body, i.e. a star, a planet, an asteroid, a comet, or a meteor. 


Possible celestial events

In 12 BC Halley’s Comet was charted by the Chinese started on Sept 10th and continuing for the next 56 days.

In 7 BC the Babylonian astronomers recorded a triple conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn, an event that only occurs once every 900 years.

In 5 BC Chinese and Korean astronomers recorded a “broom” or “bushy” star which appeared from March 10th to April 7th. The term “broom” or “bushy” star referred to a celestial event that was not a regular star or planet like a comet or nova. Later in the same year the Chinese recorded another “broom” star this one definitely a comet with an observable tail.

Another conjunction of planets moving though the Zodiac took place in 3 BC which the astrologers of the time would look upon as signaling great changes in the world.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Halley’s Comet of 12 BC

The time is before most would say the birth Christ could have occurred. Also, the comet that year was barely brighter than a normal star and would have not attracted much attention from the magi of Babylon whose records would noted it years before.

The 7 BC conjunction of the planets

In this conjunction the planets Jupiter and Saturn would have moved within two diameters of the moon from each other three times, on late May, then in September and finally in early December. Jupiter was considered the King of the planets and Saturn was the protector of the Jews by the astrologers of the day.

The problem with this event is the plural conjunctions of the “stars” rather than a singular “star.” Had the planets moved closer together so that they appeared as a single star to the naked eye the language would fit closer that used by the magi when they asked Herod for directions to the Messiah’s birth.

The 5 BC “Stars” of the Chinese and Koreans

The star that appeared from March to April was not a comet for it did not move. The best explanation was that it was a nova which would make it brighter than the normal stars and would appear and even reappear as the sun that created the nova could have multiple explosions separated by months or years.

If this event has a weakness it is in the novae themselves. The magi, Chinese and other astronomer/astrologers of the time would probably not think a nova a major portend of great change since they appear about every ten years somewhere in the sky.

The conjunctions of 3 BC

To those familiar with astrology the movement of the planets during this time would signal great change and depending on the interpretation of the signs could point to a new world ruler.

The problem with this view is the need for astrology and its very careful interpretation.  Astrology by its very definition must be understood through the interpretation of the astrologer. This would vary greatly between astrologers of Rome and the magi of Babylon. There is not much evidence that the magi used such astrological interpretation to look for the Messiah of the Jews. It would be much more likely that any great events foretold by the stars through astrology would be interpreted with the Roman Emperor Augustus in view rather than anyone from the conquered and inconsequential nation of Israel.

The other problem with this view is the lateness of the date. Most historians believe Herod died in 4 BC and since the birth of Jesus had to occur before Herod’s death any “star” event in 3 BC would be too late.

How December 25th became the Day Jesus Was Born.

For the first 200 years after Jesus died, there was no celebrating of the day He was born. Christians, at least those who left records, did not care nor think it was important. Celebrating the birth of the Son of God was too close to pagan practices, that marked the birth of their pagan Gods.

By the fourth century, however, we find references to two dates that were widely recognized, and now also celebrated, as Jesus’ birthday: December 25 in the western Roman Empire and January 6 in the East (especially in Egypt and Asia Minor). The modern Armenian church continues to celebrate Christmas on January 6; for most Christians, however, December 25 would prevail, while January 6 eventually came to be known as the Feast of the Epiphany, commemorating the arrival of the magi in Bethlehem. The period between became the holiday season later known as the 12 days of Christmas.

How then did we come to celebrate Dec 25 as the Lord’s birthday, even though it is not specifically dated in the Bible and had not been given much consideration until 3 or 4 centuries after it occurred? Here are the two theories, one you’re familiar with and the other that is fairly new.

The Pagan Theory of December 25th

This doesn’t need a lot of explanation, since most people are familiar with it. In this idea, December 25th was a Roman Pagan holiday and the Catholic Church or early Christians, who coverted from paganism, simple took the date and overwrote it as the date of Jesus’ birth.

Indeed, this is the time of the pagan “Saturnalia festival” that almost all pagan cultures from Rome to Celtic Britain celebrated. There was even a pagan holiday, on the exact day, which celebrated the birth of Sol Invictus, (the Unconquered Sun). This is very plausible especially when you consider that after 500 AD Pope Gregory directed that pagan holidays and temples were to be assimilated into “Christian” churches and holy days. It is also true that many traditions about Christmas, such as evergreen trees, yule logs and mistletoe are taken directly from pagan practices.

Yet there is no written record of such an order or practice concerning Jesus birth written down in the early Christian writings. It was not until around 300 AD that Constantine declared Christianity the religion of his new Roman empire. Before that time there would have been no motive for the early Christians to “Christianize” pagan holidays. Just the opposite would have been more the practice.

The Conception-Day of Death Theory

This is a newer theory which states that the date wasn’t taken from paganism but from a faulty belief held by some in the early church and borrowed from Jewish Rabbis. This theory is based upon a strange idea that Jesus died on the same day of the month and year, that Mary had conceived.

Around 200 C.E. Tertullian of Carthage reported the calculation that the 14th of Nisan (the day of the crucifixion according to the Gospel of John) in the year Jesus died was equivalent to March 25 in the Roman (solar) calendar. March 25 is, of course, nine months before December 25… Thus, Jesus was believed to have been conceived and crucified on the same day of the year. Exactly nine months later, Jesus was born, on December 25.

Augustine, too, was familiar with this association. In “On the Trinity” (c. 399–419) he writes: “For he [Jesus] is believed to have been conceived on the 25th of March, upon which day also he suffered; so the womb of the Virgin, in which he was conceived, where no one of mortals was begotten, corresponds to the new grave in which he was buried, wherein was never man laid, neither before him nor since. But he was born, according to tradition, upon December the 25th.”

The notion that creation and redemption should occur at the same time of year is also reflected in ancient Jewish tradition, recorded in the Talmud. …Thus, the dates of Christmas and Epiphany may well have resulted from Christian theological reflection on such chronologies: Jesus would have been conceived on the same date he died, and born nine months later. - “How December 25 Became Christmas” by Andrew McGowan


The exact day or even year of Jesus birth was not consider important enough for it to be specifically recorded in the Gospel accounts. If it was not vital to know then, it is not vital to know today.

However, what is vital in the real story of Jesus birth is the historical reality of the event. Jesus came into the world as foretold thousands of years before by hundreds of prophecies in scripture. Jesus truly was born, lived and died. That historical reality gives us the foundation for our spiritual reality and faith in Him as the Son of God who came, lived, died and rose again. It is His story, that made history and will save my soul.


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