Monday, 31 December 2018 00:52

Christmas history Part IV: When was Jesus born?

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Christmas history Part IV: When was Jesus born? Image courtesy of Pixabay

Yet another perspective regarding the date of the birth of Jesus is the practical application of noted events, specifically the implementation of the Roman census and the collection of taxes.

The Jewish springtime festival of Passover commemorates the escape of the Jews from slavery in Egypt about 1,500 years prior to the birth of Jesus. Jews from throughout the Roman Empire would have been descending upon Jerusalem and surrounding areas (such as Bethlehem, six miles away) thus rendering accommodations scarce (i.e., “no room at the inn”) for this April event.

A similar occasion (i.e., good time for collecting taxes and taking a census) would have also occurred in the autumn. The Jewish festival of Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles that is also the most-cited festival in the Bible) similarly commemorates the 40 years spent in the desert by the escaping Jews. Further, it also pays homage for successful harvests. During the festival, Jews live outside in temporary shelters (the word “tabernacle” is derived from the Latin word for “hut”).  However, given the pregnant state of Mary, indoor shelter would have certainly been preferred by the soon-to-be parents of Jesus.

Astronomy would support a warm-season birth of Jesus. Assuming the Biblical account to be accurate, the provided description of the Star of Bethlehem would have best fit at the times of these festival events (i.e., April or September).

The account of Zechariah is yet another compelling point to support the contention that Jesus was born during relatively warm weather. Zechariah, who was married to Mary’s cousin Elizabeth and was ostensibly on duty at the Jewish Temple when Jesus was born, gives a date sometime in September (i.e., at the time of the Sukkot festival).

Of course, all speculation, conjecture, and/or argumentative rhetoric aside, and regardless of your personal opinion as to exactly when Jesus was born, we should all remember the “Reason for the Season” and celebrate accordingly.

Happy Holidays!