By Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)
In this study I will attempt to show how we can learn the birth date of Yeshua from the Bible. Many have said that Mashiach could not have been born on December 25. While these reasons may be true, there is a deep mystical reason why the Catholic Church chose this date. We will explain this after we have determined the Mashiach’s true birth date, because this is critical to understanding the mystical reason for December 25 as His birth date.
From this we learn that John the Baptist's father was part of the Levitical priesthood family known as Abijah. Since Zechariah was a priest, we know that John was also a priest of the family of Abijah. Next we learn when Abijah served during the biblical year:
I Divrei HaYamim (Chronicles) 24:1 These were the divisions of the sons of Aaron: The sons of Aaron were Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. But Nadab and Abihu died before their father did, and they had no sons; so Eleazar and Ithamar served as the priests. With the help of Zadok a descendant of Eleazar and Ahimelech a descendant of Ithamar, David separated them into divisions for their appointed order of ministering. A larger number of leaders were found among Eleazar's descendants than among Ithamar's, and they were divided accordingly: sixteen heads of families from Eleazar's descendants and eight heads of families from Ithamar's descendants. They divided them impartially by drawing lots, for there were officials of the sanctuary and officials of God among the descendants of both Eleazar and Ithamar. The scribe Shemaiah son of Nethanel, a Levite, recorded their names in the presence of the king and of the officials: Zadok the priest, Ahimelech son of Abiathar and the heads of families of the priests and of the Levites--one family being taken from Eleazar and then one from Ithamar. The first lot fell to Jehoiarib, the second to Jedaiah, The third to Harim, the fourth to Seorim, The fifth to Malkijah, 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 Jehezkel, The twenty-first to Jakin, the twenty-second to Gamul, The twenty-third to Delaiah and the twenty-fourth to Maaziah. This was their appointed order of ministering when they entered the temple of HaShem, according to the regulations prescribed for them by their forefather Aaron, as HaShem, the God of Israel, had commanded him. As for the rest of the descendants of Levi: from the sons of Amram: Shubael; from the sons of Shubael: Jehdeiah. As for Rehabiah, from his sons: Isshiah was the first. From the Izharites: Shelomoth; from the sons of Shelomoth: Jahath. The sons of Hebron: Jeriah the first, Amariah the second, Jahaziel the third and Jekameam the fourth. The son of Uzziel: Micah; from the sons of Micah: Shamir. The brother of Micah: Isshiah; from the sons of Isshiah: Zechariah. The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. The son of Jaaziah: Beno. The sons of Merari: from Jaaziah: Beno, Shoham, Zaccur and Ibri. From Mahli: Eleazar, who had no sons. From Kish: the son of Kish: Jerahmeel. And the sons of Mushi: Mahli, Eder and Jerimoth. These were the Levites, according to their families. They also cast lots, just as their brothers the descendants of Aaron did, in the presence of King David and of Zadok, Ahimelech, and the heads of families of the priests and of the Levites. The families of the oldest brother were treated the same as those of the youngest.
There were twenty-four (24) courses, or families, of priests. Abijah was the eighth course. King David divided them and gave them instructions concerning the time they were to serve. King David did not make up these services or divisions, but rather HaShem instructed him in the way that He desired.
I Divrei HaYamim (Chronicles) 28:11-13 Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the portico of the temple, its buildings, its storerooms, its upper parts, its inner rooms and the place of atonement. He gave him the plans of all that the Spirit had put in his mind for the courts of the temple of HaShem and all the surrounding rooms, for the treasuries of the temple of God and for the treasuries for the dedicated things. He gave him instructions for the divisions of the priests and Levites, and for all the work of serving in the temple of HaShem, as well as for all the articles to be used in its service.
I Divrei HaYamim (Chronicles) 9:1-26 All Israel was listed in the genealogies recorded in the book of the kings of Israel. The people of Judah were taken captive to Babylon because of their unfaithfulness. Now the first to resettle on their own property in their own towns were some Israelites, priests, Levites and temple servants. Those from Judah, from Benjamin, and from Ephraim and Manasseh who lived in Jerusalem were: Uthai son of Ammihud, the son of Omri, the son of Imri, the son of Bani, a descendant of Perez son of Judah. Of the Shilonites: Asaiah the firstborn and his sons. Of the Zerahites: Jeuel. The people from Judah numbered 690. Of the Benjamites: Sallu son of Meshullam, the son of Hodaviah, the son of Hassenuah; Ibneiah son of Jeroham; Elah son of Uzzi, the son of Micri; and Meshullam son of Shephatiah, the son of Reuel, the son of Ibnijah. The people from Benjamin, as listed in their genealogy, numbered 956. All these men were heads of their families. Of the priests: Jedaiah; Jehoiarib; Jakin; Azariah son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, the official in charge of the house of God; Adaiah son of Jeroham, the son of Pashhur, the son of Malkijah; and Maasai son of Adiel, the son of Jahzerah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Meshillemith, the son of Immer. The priests, who were heads of families, numbered 1,760. They were able men, responsible for ministering in the house of God. Of the Levites: Shemaiah son of Hasshub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, a Merarite; Bakbakkar, Heresh, Galal and Mattaniah son of Mica, the son of Zicri, the son of Asaph; Obadiah son of Shemaiah, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun; and Berekiah son of Asa, the son of Elkanah, who lived in the villages of the Netophathites. The gatekeepers: Shallum, Akkub, Talmon, Ahiman and their brothers, Shallum their chief Being stationed at the King's Gate on the east, up to the present time. These were the gatekeepers belonging to the camp of the Levites. Shallum son of Kore, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah, and his fellow gatekeepers from his family (the Korahites) were responsible for guarding the thresholds of the Tent just as their fathers had been responsible for guarding the entrance to the dwelling of HaShem. In earlier times Phinehas son of Eleazar was in charge of the gatekeepers, and HaShem was with him. Zechariah son of Meshelemiah was the gatekeeper at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. Altogether, those chosen to be gatekeepers at the thresholds numbered 212. They were registered by genealogy in their villages. The gatekeepers had been assigned to their positions of trust by David and Shmuel (Samuel) the seer. They and their descendants were in charge of guarding the gates of the house of HaShem--the house called the Tent. The gatekeepers were on the four sides: east, west, north and south. Their brothers in their villages had to come from time to time and share their duties for seven-day periods. But the four principal gatekeepers, who were Levites, were entrusted with the responsibility for the rooms and treasuries in the house of God.
The Torah commands the daily sacrifices that are referred to as 'Tamid' - continuous sacrifices that were offered every day of every year, one in the early hours of the morning and another during the mid-afternoon. (According to the Gemara, the last time the Tamid was offered was on 17th Tammuz in the year 3830 - 70 CE - three weeks before the Temple was overrun by the Romans and ruined by fire and demolition. This was during the siege of Jerusalem and the supply of animals had run out.) Since the Tamid was an offering on behalf of all Israel, all Israel, as it were, should be present when it is offered. However, this is an obvious impossibility. Therefore, the mishna states that all Israel were divided into twenty four mishmarot, watches, and each watch was to serve in the Temple for one week twice a year. Thus perhaps a better rendition of mishmeret would be 'duty roster'. However, since the number of people was far too large to give everyone a chance to serve twice a year it was highly likely that any given member of the roster might get a chance only once in a lifetime to actually serve for one week in the Temple. The priestly watches were changed every Shabbat after the Musaf offering, and when they were changed the corresponding watches of the levites and the Israelites would also change.
II Divrei HaYamim (Chronicles) 23:1-8 In the seventh year Jehoiada showed his strength. He made a covenant with the commanders of units of a hundred: Azariah son of Jeroham, Ishmael son of Jehohanan, Azariah son of Obed, Maaseiah son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat son of Zicri. They went throughout Judah and gathered the Levites and the heads of Israelite families from all the towns. When they came to Jerusalem, The whole assembly made a covenant with the king at the temple of God. Jehoiada said to them, "The king's son shall reign, as HaShem promised concerning the descendants of David. Now this is what you are to do: A third of you priests and Levites who are going on duty on the Sabbath are to keep watch at the doors, A third of you at the royal palace and a third at the Foundation Gate, and all the other men are to be in the courtyards of the temple of HaShem. No one is to enter the temple of HaShem except the priests and Levites on duty; they may enter because they are consecrated, but all the other men are to guard what HaShem has assigned to them. The Levites are to station themselves around the king, each man with his weapons in his hand. Anyone who enters the temple must be put to death. Stay close to the king wherever he goes." The Levites and all the men of Judah did just as Jehoiada the priest ordered. Each one took his men--those who were going on duty on the Sabbath and those who were going off duty--for Jehoiada the priest had not released any of the divisions.
So, the week of service began and ended on the Sabbath.
The priests were divided into twenty-four watches, each watch taking a week of service at the Temple. During a watch's week the priests of that watch kept all of the sacrifices. However, during pilgrimage festivals all twenty-four watches equally divided the sacrifices that were offered on account of the festival.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:16 Three times a year all your men must appear before HaShem your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before HaShem empty-handed:
Now we need to do some arithmetic:
Twenty-four courses times one week equals twenty-four weeks that have been served by the twenty-four courses. Then we add the three extra weeks when all twenty-four courses served. We now have covered twenty-seven weeks.
A biblical year consists of twelve lunar months, of 29.5 days, which total 354 days. This is eleven days less than a solar year, of 365 days. This means that we have to cover twenty-four more weeks. Thus we can deduce that each course served a week at the beginning of the year, and a week at the end of the year. The Mishna agrees with this conclusion.
The eighth course would, therefore, serve during the tenth week having allowed for the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Weeks, which both occur during the first eight weeks of the year. This is the second Sabbath of Sivan, and the week that follows (approximately Sivan 12-18).
If you go forward forty weeks, for a normal pregnancy, we see that John the Baptist was born on Passover. We would expect that this pregnancy would be perfectly normal because this is the mark of HaShem's handiwork, perfection!
It is interesting that John the Baptist was born on Passover, because one of the rituals of the Passover is to set a special place setting, for Elijah, and to open the door to welcome Elijah. Mashiach said that John the Baptist was the Elijah who was to come!
Matityahu (Matthew) 11:7-15 As John’s disciples were leaving, Yeshua began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: 'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.' I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. He who has ears, let him hear.
Luqas (Luke) 1:23-33 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. "The Lord has done this for me," she said. "In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people." In (Elizabeth's) sixth month (of pregnancy), God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, To a young woman pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Yeshua. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
If John the Baptist was conceived in the eleventh week, the third Sabbath week of Sivan, Yeshua would have been conceived six months later in the month of Kislev. Mary would have conceived Yeshua after the third Sabbath of Kislev, approximately Kislev 19-26. Kislev 25 is Chanukah.
So, six months after John the Baptist was born, Yeshua was born. Therefore, since John was born on the fifteenth day of the first month (Nisan), Yeshua would be born on the fifteenth day of the seventh month (Tishri)...six month later. The fifteenth day of the seventh month is known as Succoth, or the Feast of Tabernacles. By the way, that day was a full moon. In fact, the fifteenth day of every Biblical month is always full moon.
Remember that a major theme of Succoth is JOY! With this in mind ...
Luqas (Luke) 2:4-11 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Mashiach the Lord.
Matityahu (Matthew) 2:7-12 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him." After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Now that we have all of our dates, let’s arrange them so that we can understand the chronology:
Sivan (May-June) 25 - John the Baptist is conceived.
There are two ways to understand the answer. If we started our count during the eighth week of the fall term, then John the Baptist would be born at Succoth and we would not have the connection with Elijah at Passover. In addition, we would not have the connection of Yeshua being conceived at Chanukah.
That said, it is still possible that Yeshua was born at Passover. This does not present an insurmountable problems because of the bi-modality of the year. The triennial Torah reading cycle also suggests that in many ways Passover and Succoth are alike.
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The birth of Mashiach did not happen as an independent event. It happened in time and within the context of world history which had been carefully prepared for this event. To begin to understand the context of His birth, I recommend that you examine other events that occurred at the time of His conception and birth. His birth was no accident. It is important to see Mashiach’s birth within the context of Succoth. In fact, I would suggest that it is impossible to understand the birth of Mashiach without celebrating Succoth. Further, we must see Succoth within the context of all the festivals in a year. This context will reveal some very interesting perspectives.
One other perspective will also help: The Biblical year is bi-modal such that spring is a mirror image of fall. This is most evident within the festivals as we explored in my study titled rains. This bi-modality is also evident in the ancient Torah reading cycle commonly known as the triennial cycle. There are two such triennial cycles of three and a half years in a Sabbatical, or Shmita, cycle. There is an example of this ancient reading cycle at shmitatc.
Why was December 25th chosen by the Catholic church for the birth of Yeshua? There are two answers to this question. The first answer is the answer most commonly given. The second answer is a Jewish mystical answer that is almost never given.
The reason why the Catholic church chose December 25, has to do with the pagan festival of Saturnalia. I am not going to give the details about this festival, but it is instructive to note that most of the current customs of Christmas are borrowed from the celebration of Saturnalia. This reason is quite well known and is documented in many sources.
Those who have studied the Torah have understood a far deeper and more interesting mystical reason as to why the birth of the Mashiach was assigned to December 25. To understand this reason we will need to review a bit of Latin.
What is the meaning of September? In Latin, septem means seven and septimus means seventh; September was in fact the seventh month of the Jewish, or Biblical calendar. This calendar was in use by the whole world for most of the world’s existence. In 153 BC, the Romans reordered the calendar but kept some of the names that provided a hint as to its earlier origins. Remember that the Torah originally used numbers for the names of the months rather than actual names. The names in the current Jewish calendar were taken from Babylon by Chazal, our Sages, to provide us with a remembrance of our exile. In days to come, the numbered months will be restored by Mashiach.
What is the meaning of December? In Latin, decem means ten. December was the tenth month of the year.
Now that we have had our Latin lesson we can understand that December 25 can be understood as the twenty-fifth day of the tenth month. In fact, this is the terminology of the Torah. Now if we switch our brains from the Roman calendar to the Jewish calendar, we can relate to the fact that the twenty-fifth day of the tenth month is an allusion to Chanukah, which began on the twenty-fifth day and ended in the tenth month (Kislev 25 through Tevet 1 / 2). Recall that Chanukah was when Yeshua was conceived.
HaShem gave the Gentiles a hint that they could easily understand. He was hinting to Chanukah. To make the message even clearer, He gave the Gentiles the custom of decorating their Christmas trees, and homes, with lights. What do lights have to do with Christmas? Well, lets see; there was the star… Hmmm. Ok, so, what do lights have to do with Chanukah? I am glad you asked! Chanukah is also known as the Feast of Lights because of the miracle of the lights of the menorah in the Temple. Remember that the Maccabees had only enough pure oil to last for one day. Yet, when they kindled this one cruse of oil it burned for eight days! We celebrate this miracle by kindling a progression of oil lights in our homes for the eight days of Chanukah. Thus we see that the lights of the Gentiles point to Chanukah.
Some may say that Yeshua was The Light of the World; quoting from John 8:12 or John 9:5. They thus suggest that the Mashiach’s birth is a cause for the lights. What is really interesting about this argument is the fact that when Yeshua proclaimed that He was the light of the world, it was during Succoth. During Succoth, four huge lamps were set up in the courtyard of the women. The Talmud says that there was not a courtyard in all of Jerusalem that was not illuminated by these lamps. The wicks were made from the worn-out priestly garments. Yeshua proclaimed Himself to be the light of the world while the people were gazing at the four lights which were called the light of the world. This quote, then, is not as fitting for Christmas as it is for Succoth, the day of Mashiach’s birth.
To further strengthen the connection of December 25 to Chanukah, it is useful to note that the Christmas holiday is celebrated by many from December 25 through January 1. This, too, is an eight day period which corresponds to the eight days of Chanukah.
Now, you know the real reason why December 25th was chosen as the date of the Mashiach’s birth. Even though it is NOT when the Mashiach was born, it contains enough hints that the discerning student could use to find his way away from Christmas. It contained all the hints needed to cause him to celebrate Succoth and Chanukah as being HaShem’s dates, rather than celebrating man’s made up date of December 25. (For more insights on the festival of lights and Christmas, please see my study titled: Lights.)
Finally, it is worth nothing that Yeshua never celebrated Christmas. He never put up a Christmas tree. He never went to midnight mass or any Protestant service on Christmas.
Yochanan (John) 7:1 After these things Yeshua walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Judaea, because the Jews sought to kill him. 2 Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles (Succoth) was at hand. 3 His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. 4 For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world. 5 For neither did his brethren believe in him. 6 Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready. 7 The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. 8 Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come. 9 When he had said these words unto them, he abode still in Galilee. 10 But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.
1 Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Mashiach.
Let us become imitators of Mashiach!
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Rosh HaShannah and the Messianic Kingdom to Come, by Joseph Good
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This study was written by
Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David
Comments may be submitted to:
Rabbi Dr. Greg Killian
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Olympia, WA 98501
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Send comments to Greg Killian at his email address: email@example.com
 I learned many aspects of this study from Joseph Good in his book: Rosh HaShannah and the Messianic Kingdom to Come.
 I am using Mashiach without further qualification, to apply to Mashiach ben Joseph, which is not the normal Jewish way. The normal Jewish way is to that an ‘mashiach’ without qualification always applies to Mashiach ben David only. See Rambam’s Hilchot Melachim.
 Tanakh (Hebrew: תנ׳ך) (also Tanach, IPA: [ta’nax] or [tə’nax], Tenakh or Tenak) is an acronym that identifies the Hebrew Bible. The acronym is formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Tanakh's three traditional subdivisions:
Nevi'im (נביאים), meaning "Prophets". The Nevi'im are often divided into the Earlier Prophets, which are generally historical, and the Later Prophets, which contain more exhortational prophecies.
Ketuvim (כתובים), meaning "Writings", are sometimes also known by the Greek title "Hagiographa". These encompass all the remaining books, and include the Five Scrolls.
 This is in contrast to the way Catholics and Protestants make up their services.
 Bamidbar (Numbers) 28:2
 Ta'anit 26b
 Ta’anit 4:2
 Mishna - Bikkurim Chapter 3, Ta'anith 26a, Ta'anith 27a
 Sivan occurs in the May-June time frame.
 Sivan occurs in the May-June time frame.
 Kislev occurs in the November-December time frame.
 Nisan occurs in the March-April time frame.
 Tishri occurs in the August-September time frame.
 Having two, six month, divisions.
 Succah 51a