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When Was Jesus Born?

When Was Jesus Born? We have established in Part 1 of this study that it could not have been on December 25 and that it was likely some time before that, around the feast of Tabernacles in the fall of the year. Let's look at some more clues.

No Room at the Inn

When Was Jesus Born? - The Census
The crowded conditions in Bethlehem at the time of Christ's birth ("there was no place for them in the inn" - Luke 2:7) could be related to the census taken by the Romans at that time and also to the many pilgrims that filled the area (Bethlehem is only about 8 kilometres/5 miles from Jerusalem) especially during the Feast of Tabernacles.

There is no logic to requiring the people to travel to complete the census in the middle of winter. The most logical time of census and taxation would be just after the harvest, in the fall, when people had the revenue of their harvest with which to pay taxes.

When Was Jesus Born? - The Star
There is another connection between Jesus' birth and the Feast of Tabernacles:

"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, 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." (Matt 2:1-2)

The wise men made came from the East to Bethlehem because they had seen His star. Watching the stars was associated especially with the Feast of Tabernacles because of a prophecy:

"I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth." (Num 24:17)

The roofs of the booths were built with leafy branches spaced to allow some visibility of the stars. The people watched for this star. It was in connection with the Feast of Tabernacles, the special season of star watching, that the wise men saw the Messianic star and "rejoiced with exceeding great joy." (Matt 2:10).

So When Was Jesus Born According to the Bible?
Here is my best guess based on this study. I believe it could well have been on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Tishri which would be the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles. All the clues above have narrowed it down to within a short time of the middle of the seventh Hebrew month. It is interesting that Hebrew custom was to circumcise baby boys on the eighth day of life. Paul describes himself as one who was:

"Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;" (Phil 3:5)

While Paul would be referring to the eighth day of his life, it is interesting that at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles there is a day called "the great day of the feast" or "the eighth day." If Jesus was born into this earth to tabernacle (dwell) with us on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles and then was circumcised the eighth day (both of His life and of the Feast) it would seem to best fulfill God's appointed times. Of course, many significant Bible events happened on the appointed times of God's calendar.

So I would pick Tishri 15 as the most likely date our Saviour came to dwell or tabernacle with us. Of course, that would fall on a different date on our modern calendar each year but it would be in about the early fall and certainly not on December 25. One would have to look into the Hebrew calendar to get the exact day each year. The 15th day of the seventh Hebrew month falls in approximately our late September to October.

A Few Other Thoughts Related to When Was Jesus Born

Jesus on the cross

We are Not Commanded to Observe the Day When Jesus was Born
We were not commanded to observe His birth; what we were commanded to observe is His death:

"For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come." (1 Cor 1:26)

No Indications of Early Celebrations
There are no records of any observance of when Jesus was born early in Christian history. It was not until the fourth century that December 25 came to be observed as the birthday of the Messiah.

Connection to Paganism
It is widely recognized that the adoption of the date of December 25th by the Western Church on which to commemorate Christ's birth was influenced by the pagan celebration of the return of the sun after the winter solstice. But that is another topic.

Jesus Connected Himself to the Feast of Tabernacles
This is not proof that He was born at Tabernacles but it is an interesting connection. Jesus connected Himself with the water-libation ceremony performed during the feast of Tabernacles:

"Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand. ... But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast ... In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." (John 7:2, 10, 37)

Each day of the feast, this ceremony pointed to the Messiah:

"Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation." (Isa 12:3)

However, the people had been blinded as to the nature of the Messiah and had failed to recognize Him as the source of their salvation. Jesus is also the Light of the World typified by the ceremony of lights that helped, at night, to illuminate the Temple during the Feast of Tabernacles:

"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12)
So, at least to me, from all this evidence, it seems quite reasonable to conclude that the answer to when was Jesus born is on the 15th day of the seventh Hebrew month (Tishri). What do you think? Is there sufficient evidence from the Bible or would you rather go by tradition?  
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