Three Birth Theories
Was Messiah Born at Pesach, Yom Teruah or Sukkot?
Q. Was Yah'shua (Jesus) born during Sukkot (Tabernacles) as most Messianics claim (see Michael Scheifler's On What Day Was Jesus Born? using the 24 courses as the Temple Priesthood as proof, and Roy Reinhold's multi-part Exact Date of Yeshua's Birth using the Bible Code), Yom Teruah (Day of Trumpets) as Maria Merola claims (see When Was the Real Messiah Born & Why Does it Matter? using the two authors above as well as astronomy and etymology), or as you claim at Pesach (Passover)? And is it true, as some claim, that if you don't get the birth date right that you are worshipping a false Messiah?
A. First of all, anyone who claims that you are worshipping a false Messiah because you get his birthday wrong or because you don't pronounce His Name right belongs to that group of 'ultra-messianic' legalists who are putting unnecessary and sometimes spiritually fatal stumbling blocks before genuine believers who may be young and immature in the emunah (faith). I am not saying that ultimately you might not be giving praise to another deity, since all false celebrations like Christmas honour the deity that originally inspired it before Catholicism co-opted it, but if you have been genuinely born again and are seeking to love and obey Yahweh, then in the days of your ignorance or uncertainties about such things you are not held accountable by the Most High (Acts 17:30). If, when you come to an understanding of the emet (truth) and there is no longer anyv reasonable doubt in your mind, you then refuse to do anything, then you are in rebellion and openly worshipping a false deity in retaining your loyalty to a pagan-derived custom. Then you are bound to respond by changing the ways and times of your devotions to align them more fully with Torah (Yahweh's teaching and Law).
Additionally, no one is going to lose their salvation because of temporal things like dates and pronunciations, and certainly not if they are ignorant as to the emet (truth) of these things. Salvation is predicated upon having a right heart before Elohim (God) that loves Him above all else, loves his neighbour as himself, trusts Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) as his Saviour from sin, and does his best - based on where he is at - to obey the mitzvot (commandments). Loving Yahweh is first and foremost about loving His characater (which is what His Name 'means') and imitating that character, through emunah (faith) through the indwelling Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), by living morally and ethically according to Torah. The externals (like baptism, the Calendar, the festivals, the dietary law and other externals, though not at all unimportant, are secondary to this. And since we are nowhere in Scripture commanded to celebrate the Birth of Messiah or anyone else's birthday (though we are not forbidden either), to say that you are worshipping a false Messiah because you have His birthdate wrong is pernicious twice over. For me, at any rate, the scholarship of such 'ultras', however accurate it may on occasion be, loses credibility when the ruach (spirit) is all wrong, and people are being judged on non-salvational matters, because if they don't know or understand Yahweh's heart, then they are unlikely to be wholly led by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) in their interpretation of Scripture and history. Again, to counter-balance this, I am bound to say that we are bound to embrace all Emet (truth) because a requirement if we want to enter the New Jerusalem is that no lie be found in us (Rev.21:8).
Christmas and Alfred Edersheim
That aside, we do need to look at the claims made by those advocating autumn birthdates. That Messiah was not born at 'Christmas' (25 December) is pretty much a given so I shall not treat here since no serious scriptorian or theologian advocates that anymore - the evidence is just overwhelmingly against the proposition with nothing to actually support it. Only one early messianic theologian, Alfred Edersheim, ever supported the 25 December dogma and He most certainly did get it wrong because of numerous false assumptions and bad scholarship along the way. Thousands of other Catholic, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox theologians disagree with him. The informed know Yah'shua (Jesus) wasn't born then and how the Roman custom was borrowed to make it easier for pagans to convert to Catholicism.
The Unreliability of the 'Bible Codes'
When it comes to using the Bible Code, I have to say that I also bring along with me a heafty dollup of scepticism. I do not deny that there is 'something' in these codes but at the same time there is a huge danger of reading in things that aren't there but which we would very much like to be there in order to grind a doctrinal or prophetic ax. Looking for something to fit an agenda is one of the best ways of abusing the system. Michael Edwards puts it this way: "In inexperienced hands or in the hands of someone with a specific agenda to promote, the results will be biased or totally wrong." He gives the following example:
"Common names and most commonly used words show up repeatedly in the Hebrew alphabet. For example, if you did a code search on the Hebrew equivalent of the name 'John', you will have a multitude of reference verses to choose from. At that point, let's say you choose 10 of those Torah verses and you perform a 'hidden word' search for each of them. The result will be 10 different groups of hidden code words with 10 different meanings. That's because you didn't 'aim' your search correctly and you had far too broad of a field to look at. The danger in this is choosing the one YOU feel best fits the results you want.
"You can be 'selective' in what you find in any search. If you're looking for a certain answer, you'll find it by manipulating the hidden code-word results. Let's say I did a - hypothetical - search on 'Osama bin Laden' and came up with the following hidden words from 2 verses that were visibly marked by the software in Genesis 3:
"Leader, the, sons, tower, explosive, one, personality, New York, Afghanistan, evil, wife, gambler, in, over, false, caused, twin, death, died, caves.
"If I were to choose only some of those hidden words, as the software allows you to do by choice, then perhaps I could come up with a conclusive search saying 'Osama bin Laden evil Afghanistan leader caused New York twin tower explosive death'. With the same 'selective' kind of word choosing, I could also come up with 'Osama bin Laden gambler personality Afghanistan wife twin sons died in caves'. As you can see, depending on what words I choose from all those presented, I can come up with two completely different results about Osama bin Laden."
For the full article, see How Bible Codes Can Be
Manipulated To Fit Agenda.
"Another way to manipulate the results is by what variables are put into the hidden code search matrix. The variables are nearly infinite and depending on how the search matrix is configured, the results will be vastly different. I suppose that if someone were to calculate the mathematical equations caused by each single change of the different search matrix possibilities, he could use those equations to 'slant' the search in certain ways."
For a proper scientific study - and it does have to be scientific for reasons that are obvious - there have to be numerous controls to make sure that alternative results cannot work too. For instance, by using other parameters, can you get alternative birthdates for Messiah to work using the code? Have tests been done to attempt at falsifying the results? If not, the work is unreliable. So I make no excuse in 'passing' by this kind of 'evidence'. If you have researched the Bible Codes long enough, you will know it is full of difficulties. It is far better to let the p'shat or literal sense of Torah speak for itself since we are nowhere commanded to engage in this kind of sarch but rather are everywhere commanded to study the presented Davar Elohim (Word of God) the way it's been done for millennia. I know one man who used the Codes to seek for personal revelation in his life to the point he was utterly consumed by it. He did not know how to get a witness from the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit)! This can of activity can be attractive to those whose hearts are closed down and who want to know Yahweh's will through the intellect alone. The Bible Codes 'method' is a purely intellectual one that can be employed by believers and unbelievers alike. It is not a method I see either mandated or permitted in the plain sense of Scripture or the related fad of Gematria which occupies many Messianics too much and can so easily lead to forbidden occultic arts like Kabbalism. So I make no apology for not appealing to Bible Codes - they're too unreliable mathematically and potentially dangerous spiritually. I have to say the same about Theomatics which has led some into all kinds of false doctrines. If we are to know the Birth of Messiah we must use more conventional and biblically acceptable methods.
When it comes to etymology (the meaning of words) you have to be equally careful. Yes, the incarnation of Messiah is most certainly described in Scripture as a 'tabernacling' or 'tenting' but this does not prove that Yah'shua (Jesus) was born during the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) anymore than Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement has anything to do with the atonement made by Yah'shua (Jesus) at Calvary for our personal sins simply because the word 'atonement' is used. In fact there's no such thing as 'Yom Kippur' - it is properly Yom haKippurim or the Day of Atonements...all five of them - see Yom haKippurim 2013: Applying the Five Atonements in Earnest.
One of the commonest errors made by untrained scriptorians is in the making of wild word associations. When a Mormon sees "tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued (endowed) with power from on high" (Luke 24:49, KJV), hre makes thre word association between "endued" or endowed with the occultic Mormon Temple Ceremony known as 'The Endowment' when he performs verious Masonic rituals for his salvation and exaltation as he supposes. Yet the this 'endowment' is actually the Baptism of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) when tongues of fire came on the talmidim (disciples). Similarly I know a good many Baptists who believe John the Barptist was a 'Baptist' because of word association.
The building of sukkot, booths or tabernacles at the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) has nothing to do with incarnation anyway, but with protection, wedding covenants (an in particular, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb under the Chuppah), and the like. Logically, as demonstrated in a number of other articles on this matter, the divine tavnith (patterns) require that birth appear at the beginning (in the lambing season) and consummation at the end (when nature is bedded down for winter).
Yom Teruah and Hanukkah
The same problems exist with the claim that Yom Teruah (Trumpets) was the day that Yah'shua (Jesus) was born. Following on from my last point, if the Messiah had indeed been born on the Day of Trumpets, it would lend credance to the already proven falsehood of the Jewish mutation of Yom Teruah into Rosh haShana which claims to be the New Year when it is not. The true 5th moed is about the Second Coming, not birth (which is at Pesach) or even the new birth of believers (which is at Yom haBikkurim). I do not accept claims that Yah'shua (Jesus) was conceived at the 'Festival of Lights', so-called, on many grounds, one of which is that this is a pagan festival to which the Pharisees added a fake miracle in order to boost their illegitmate claims claims to political and spiritual authority that Yah'shua (Jesus) roundly condemned. You can study more about this deception on the Hanukkah page. I refuse to accept that Yahweh would associate either Himself of His Son with an unclean pagan-influenced celebration based on lies created to bolster the claims of a class of people whom Yah'shua (Jesus) said served Satan any more than He would want to be associated with the false Jewish 'Rosh haShana'. We must stick with the Torah-revealed feasts and not go looking for associations with man-made or devilish ones.
The Courses of the Cohenim (Priests)
The only credible evidence for an autumnal birth of Messiah, because it roots us in literal, physical time, is the claim made that the physical courses of the cohenim (priests) places the nativity at Sukkot (or possibly Yom Teruah). As the claims here can be scripturally tested, we have something we can get our hands on. So I am going to devote the remainder of this article on examining the very (at face value) credible claims of Michael Scheifler which are used by most others who try to justify an autumnal birth. I hope to demonstrate that, however convincing his claims (and the claims of others like him) seem to be, that :
At best the evidence is inconclusive, forcing us to look at the other evidence I cover in my other articles - and in particular in my main one, Why We Believe Messiah was Born on Passover - which tends to be ignored by those making autumn birth claims. Then I will present some other evidence, also using the priestly courses, in support of the Creation Calendar (since all these other authors still subscribe to the unscriptural Romanised Jewish Talmudic Calendar). In looking at this Scriptural evidence please bear in mind that it all stems from the period before the Babylonian Exile.
- 1. They fail to take into account major calendar changes; and
- 2. They rest on one or two major assumptions that cannot be tested because the data is as yet unavailable.
We learn in the first book of Chronicles that David organised the cohenim (priests):
Let's take a closer look and see how the divisions worked:
"Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the vestibule, its houses, its treasuries, its upper chambers, its inner chambers, and the place of the mercy seat; and the plans for all that he had by the Ruach (Spirit), of the courts of the house of Yahweh, of all the chambers all around, of the treasuries of the house of Elohim (God), and of the treasuries for the dedicated things; also for the division of the cohenim (priests) and the Levites, for all the work of the service of the house of Yahweh, and for all the articles of service in the house of Yahweh" (1 Chron.28:11-13, NKJV).
"Now these are the divisions of the sons of Aaron. The sons of Aaron were Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. And Nadab and Abihu died before their father, and had no children; therefore Eleazar and Ithamar ministered as cohenim (priests). Then David with Zadok of the sons of Eleazar, and Ahimelech of the sons of Ithamar, divided them according to the schedule of their service. There were more leaders found of the sons of Eleazar than of the sons of Ithamar, and thus they were divided. Among the sons of Eleazar were sixteen heads of their fathers' houses, and eight heads of their fathers' houses among the sons of Ithamar" (1 Chron.24:1-4, NKJV).
"Now the first lot fell to Jehoiarib, the second to Jedaiah, the third to Harim, the fourth to Seorim, the fifth to Malchijah, the sixth to Mijamin, the seventh to Hakkoz, the eighth to Abijah, the ninth to Jeshua, the tenth to Shecaniah, the eleventh to Eliashib, the twelfth to Jakim, the thirteenth to Huppah, the fourteenth to Jeshebeab, the fifteenth to Bilgah, the sixteenth to Immer, the seventeenth to Hezir, the eighteenth to Happizzez, the nineteenth to Pethahiah, the twentieth to Jehezekel, the twenty-first to Jachin, the twenty-second to Gamul, the twenty-third to Delaiah, the twenty-fourth to Maaziah. This was the schedule of their service for coming into the house of Yahweh according to their ordinance by the hand of Aaron their father, as Yahweh-Elohim of Israel had commanded him" (1 Chron.24:7-19, NKJV).
The Big Calendar Change
King David died in or around 970 BC so this instruction had to have been given before then. At this time there were always 360 days and twelve months in the year, each month consisting of 30 days. So two courses of 12 priestly families each, making 24 altogether over a two year span, would have been all that was needed. What the proponents of the autumn birth theory don't usually realise because they are poorly informed - or not informed at all - concerning the true biblical calendar, is that there was a massive calendar change in all cultures, including the Judean, in the year 705 BC.
Ancient Chinese astronomers recorded that the sun rose and set twice in one day in 705 BC and until that year fifteen ancient calendars all had 360-day years. In the space of the the five years that followed 705 BC, all adjusted the calendar to reflect a 365-day year. As I record in my sermon, The Advent of Nibiru: Are We Facing the Woes of Wormwood?, quoting Brent Miller:
This is extremely important to note for there can be no doubt that from that time onward the courses of the priests would have had to have been altered - David's inspired arrangement, perfect for his time and Solomon's and all the kings up to Hezekiah, could not have worked. We don't know what readjustments were made or how the new system worked, only that there had of necessity to be a change. What we do know, from DSS Scroll 4QOtot, is that a lunar system of reckoning was followed - see The Jubilee Cycle: A jubilee cycle consisting of 7 sets of 7 years is remarkably defined by the phases of the Moon.
"During that time, King Hezekiah reigned and the sun moved backward in the sky. It did not set...the planet simply stoped revolving in its current direction and moved backward - about 10 hours' worth, almost half a revolution. And then whatever gravitational wave or passing space body affected it, it released it. And then it continued to move forward in the same direction. At that very same time - 705 BC according to our current [Gregorian] calendar, the ancient Chinese, who were great astronomers, recorded that the sun set twice in the same day: it set, it rose back up from the west, and it set again. It has been very well documented [that] 15 ancient calendars...had 360-day years [from before 705 BC]. Every calendar is based on a 360-day year! After that event, every calendar for the next 5 years, all around the earth [in] all the civilisations, changed their calendars - the Assyrians, the Chaldeans, the Egyptians, the Hebrews, the Persians, the Greeks, the Chinese, the Mayans, etc. - to 365-day years.
"[How did they know to do this?] Because the stars didn't line up. In fact, they took various approaches. Numa Pompilius , the second king of Rome, recognised the original calendar but he added 5 days per year to it to adjust. King Hezekiah, Numa's contemporary, reorganised the Jewish calendar in a very bizzare way: he added a month each Jewish leapyear on a cycle of every 7 and 19 years to make the adjustment. Other civilisations made different adjustments as they saw the rotational speed of the earth change as it moved around the sun. So over the period of the next 5 years all the civilisations caught up to 365-day years. And today we have 365-day years but we didn't have that in the immediate past. Before 705 BC there were 360 days..."
Assuming the original 24 courses continued after the Exile this would have meant that each time an intercalatory 13th month was inserted, the original 13th or 1st course would have had to have been brought back a month to allow for the new month. Josephus, who lived long after the calendar change, confirms the courses and that each took a turn to work from Sabbath to Sabbath (Antiquities of the Jews, 7.14:7), so apparently the same families were rotated as before. This was done for the next 300 years, with a 13th month being added every 7th and 19th year. In the course of time, then, the cohenim (priests) and Levites would not have been serving in the temple on the original weeks or months assigned to them by David - indeed, each family would, in the course of time, have served on each of the 12 regular calendar months, unless some other system was adopted that we know nothing about (or which needs to be discovered), appointing others not in the original list to serve during those extra 13th months. This is obviously an area of research that requires some work. But whatever system was used it cannot have been the original cycles of priestly courses instituted by David.
Not only that, but even if the calendar hadn't changed (we know absolutely it did, and that in the days of Noah there were definitely 360 days in a year - see 360°: A Sacred Number and the Calendar) - caused originally no doubt by the close passage of Nibiru or 'Wormwood' giving the earth and moon a good shaking - but following the death and destruction in Jerusalem and the 70 year-long exile in Babylon - it is doubtful if the families would have survived in the proportions that they did prior to this disaster. Even assuming that the original 24 families had survived intact and in the same proportions as before, a new schedule would have had to have been made thus making it it impossible to seasonally link the courses of the priests at the time of Yah'shua's (Jesus') birth in the way that the proponents of the autumn birth are doing. That kind of assumption is quite simply not valid.
Therefore trying to determine when the Messiah was born using the courses of cohenim (priests) and Levites is impossible and only gives us unreliable and unprovable data. It's no more than guesswork and should not therefore be used in trying to determine the date of the birth of the Messiah. Putting the even more unreliable Bibles Codes and Gematria aside, along with the difficulties fraught in etymological comparisons, that leaves us with the extra-biblical historical and astronomical information at hand which in our view overwhelmingly supports a Pesach (Passover) birth on 6 April 1 BC in the modern Roman Gregorian Calendar.
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This page was created on 28 October 2013
Last updated on 2 November 2013
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