It may or may not come as a surprise to some that Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) may not have been born on December 25th. So if Jesus was not born on December 25th, then why do Christians celebrate that day?
It was in the 3rd century when the Roman Emperor Aurelan proclaimed the winter solstice, December 25th, as a feast day dedicated to the Roman sun god, Sol. With the advent of the winter solstice, each day thereafter becomes increasingly longer. Aurelian decreed that followers of Christ would be “allowed” to celebrate on December 25th because it was convenient to share the Lords birthday with the Roman celebration of their sun god. So this date was determined by the Romans, not the Bible. In fact, the Bible gives no exact date as to when the Lord was born. But it does leave us some incredible clues. The truth is that there is a whole lot about the birth of Jesus that you may not have been taught in church.
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 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…and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
The Creator uses celestial bodies for signs, times, & seasons.
“God made the stars…for signs and times and seasons”. (Genesis 1:14-16).
There have been many “signs” that God has given us throughout history, but one particular sign would be the most relevant in all of history, when God Himself became man, incarnate in human flesh, was born for the redemption of mankind.
Before I begin, I want to make something very clear. The Scripture condemns the principles of astrology and Matthew was not endorsing such practices. The Magi were astronomers (scientific observation of the heavens) who had been influenced by Daniel and other Old Testament prophets. The Gospel message is clearly seen in the Zodiac, beginning with the constellation of Virgo, the virgin, and ending with Leo, the King. This message was later perverted in Babylon into the reading of horoscopes to predict future events, which God strictly condemns as demonic, occult practice.
Now let’s look at the possible theories:
The DEATH of HEROD
Most of the early church fathers placed Christ’s birth from 3 B.C. to 1 B.C. However, since the nineteenth century the majority of theologians have placed the birth of Jesus before the Spring of 4 B.C. This placement was due to a reference in Josephus that King Herod died shortly after an eclipse of the moon and before a Springtime Passover of the Jews. Astronomers in the last century identified an eclipse of the moon, which could be seen at that time, occurred on the evening of March 13, 4 B.C.
Herod’s death was arbitrarily placed within the 29 days from that eclipse until the Passover. Thus, theologians have looked for celestial displays as candidates for the Star before that date. Ernest Martin disagrees & builds a convincing argument showing that the proper eclipse occurred on January 10, 1 B.C.
CENSUS of CYRENIUS:
Ernest Martin argues that Cyrenius received special Roman commands throughout his career, especially in census-taking events, and acted as procurator. This special census was one of the most important in history.
This census (or registration) in 3/2 B.C. was actually an oath of allegiance demanded by Augustus Caesar and proclaimed during the summer of 3 B.C. Since both Joseph and Mary were descendants of David, and could both be considered legitimate claimants of the throne of Israel, both could be required to make the trip to Bethlehem. On February 5, 2 B.C., Augustus was given the title Pater Patriae (Father of the Country) by decree of the Senate and the people of Rome. The festivities coincided with his 25th jubilee year of being emperor of Rome and the 750th year of the founding of Rome.
ATTENTION in the HEAVENS
Astronomer Johann Kepler in 1605 suggested that a conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars was the Star of Bethlehem. To Persian Magi, Saturn represented Jerusalem and Jupiter represented royalty. Pisces and Virgo both represented the Hebrews.
On May 29, 7 B.C. a conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter occurred in Pisces. On October 3, 7 B.C. the same thing happened.
This normally occurs once in 804 years. In the spring of 6 B.C. they conjuncted again with Mars joining! This is the only historical occasion when a planetary “massing” has occurred at the same time as a “triple” conjunction. Certainly a celestial message was being sent!
Also, supernovas have been suggested as candidates for the Star. Visible supernovas have been reported in A.D. 1054 (the Chinese star), A.D. 1572 (Tycho’s star), and A.D. 1604 (Kepler’s star). On a date corresponding to July 5 B.C., the Chinese astronomical records report a “guest star”, a nova in the constellation Aquilla.
An excavated Roman garden wall, dating to the time of Augustus Caesar, shows a painting of a tree with fruit clustered in the configuration of the star constellations. An “extra” fruit is shown where this “nova” occurred. It is of interest to note that this “nova” (X-1 Cygnus) appeared in the Northern Cross, with star Deneb (meaning “The Lord Comes”) at the head of the cross. Stars Altair (“The Wounding”) and Vega (“He Shall be Exalted”) are nearby. Our entire Solar System is moving toward star Vega. A celestial announcement anticipating the birth of a King is again being displayed!
On August 12, 3 B.C. Jupiter and Venus united as a “morning star”, then displayed an “evening star” reunion 10 months later… On September 14, 3 B.C. Jupiter (the royal planet star) came into union with Regulus (the royal fixed star of the first magnitude) in the constellation of Leo, the Lion. Regulus is situated between the feet of Leo (the Royal constellation). After this first conjunction Jupiter continued on its normal course in the heavens. Then, on December 1, 3 B.C., the planet stopped its motion through the fixed stars and began its annual retrogression. As it did so, it once again headed toward the star Regulus. On February 17, 2 B.C. the two were reunited. Jupiter continued this backward, retrogressive motion another 40 days and then reverted to its normal motion through the stars. This movement placed the planet once again into a third conjunction with Regulus on May 8, 2 B.C. To the observer, it would appear that Jupiter was making a circling “crown” effect over and around Regulus. With each of these apparent changes in direction, the Planet briefly becomes “stationary” within the background of the fixed stars. On December 25th, 2 B.C. Jupiter came to a normal stationary position DIRECTLY OVER BETHLEHEM, as viewed from Jerusalem! At precisely this time the planet “stopped” in the middle of the constellation Virgo, the Virgin. The Sun was also “standing still” in its usual Winter Solstice.
To the secular world devoid of spiritual conscience, particularly to those in Rome, it seemed like heaven itself was giving approval for the emperorship of Augustus and that Roman government had the divine right to world sovereignty. This was in spite of the fact that they were aware of the prophecies made by Daniel. Suetonius and Tacitus confirmed that Rome knew of the belief that the empire of the world would be given to someone from Judea.
Martin aptly notes that the spectacular astronomical signs from May, 3 B.C. to December 2 B.C. would have caused wonderful interpretations, by astrologers, on behalf of Augustus and the Roman Empire, but the Magi decided instead to go to Jerusalem with gifts to a newborn Jewish king. On August 12, 3 B.C., Jupiter rose as a morning star, which soon came into conjunction with Venus. That started Jupiter off on a journey in which six conjunctions with other planets and the star Regulus took place. The final planetary union was the massing of the planets, which occurred with Mars, Venus, and Mercury on August 27, 2 B.C., Jupiter then became “stationary” for a brief time over Bethlehem on December 25, 2 B.C. At the inception of this scenario, here was Jupiter (the King Planet), which had just united with Venus (the Mother), now joining itself with the King star Regulus (the star of the Jewish Messiah) in Leo (the constellation of Judah), while the Sun (the Supreme Father of Ruler) was then located in Virgo (the Virgin).
1) Joseph and Mary began their journey to Bethlehem for the “census” at the close of the Jewish civil year in 3 B.C.
2) Near this time on August 12, 3 B.C. Jupiter and Venus united as a “morning star”, then Jupiter continued its phenomenal progression through the starry heavens.
3) In 3 B.C. Jupiter, the planet representing King David, was in conjunction with Regulus, the star of kingship, in the constellation Leo the lion, considered to represent the tribe of Judah. This conjunction in the lion would have served as a sign of the birth of a leader. Jesus was born in a stable on the twilight period of September 11, 3 B.C., the Day of Trumpets.
The arrival of a king is usually announced with trumpets. It is amazing how exactly in detail God fulfills His Word! What an awesome God we serve! Truly “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.” (Ps 19:1-2)
4) On September 14, 3 B.C. Jupiter came into union with Regulus and began the circling “crown” effect, which took place during the early months of Jesus’ infancy.
5) Fifteen months later, when Jesus was a “young child” in a house the Magi arrived on December 25, 2 B.C., when the King planet Jupiter came to its stationary point in mid-Virgo, the Virgin. The star would have been seen as “stopped” over Bethlehem, as viewed from Jerusalem.
One conclusion that can be drawn is that that star in the east, which that Magi saw was this progression of Jupiter through the heavens. Thus, the star was not “standing” over the manger at the time of Jesus’ birth (even though it was already in its divinely-appointed historic progression), but instead, at the appropriate time “stood” over Bethlehem at the time the Magi arrived to visit in the house.
As always, check out Man vs Archaeology’s website: www.AARONJUDKINS.com for the latest.
1. Earnest L. Martin, The Star that Astonished the World, 121
2. Josephs, Antiquities XVII. 218
3. D. Ronald Allen, The Stars of His Coming, 15
4. Robert Faid, A Scientific Approach to Biblical Mysteries, 62, 63