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When was Jesus Christ Really Born?

Jesus Christ

SODOM & GOMORRAH: Written around Christmas, this article intends to document the true birth of Christ. Not all of my readers believe in Christ but I'm sure that a number of non-believers can agree on two premises. First, the holiday should be more than just about buying things. Setting aside time to remember what's important is not a bad thing. Second, the Christian faith has had a large impact on our civilization. Understanding it will help us understand the history of the civilization, which will benefit any political project.

So as we approach the 25th, let's set aside some time to discuss the Christian meaning of the holiday. Many Christians celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ even though most don't realize that He wasn't born on the 25th. Those that realize this will likely tell you that we can't really know when His birthday was. That answer has always, in my opinion, demonstrated a lack of willingness to find out. I always want to ask, "How do you know you can't know for sure? Have you ever tried?" I know people mean well and that most aren't taught, but if the Word of God really is the Word of God, then we would expect that the creator of the universe wouldn't spend thousands of years predicting His own descent to the world, a couple decades living among humans in order to be murdered by them to raise from the dead to save the souls of all who believe, and just forget to mention when all this took place.

The Bible is clear that the birth of Christ took place September 29. Let's take a look.

Luke 1.5 states that Zacharias was a priest of the course of Abia. This was the eighth of the courses responsible for administering the temple as documented in I Chronicles 24.10. Courses were changed every week on the Sabbath and each course occurred twice in the year. When one keeps in mind that all the courses served together at the three Great Feasts, the first yearly date would fall between 12 and 18 Chisleu (December 6-12 in our calendar) and the second between 12 and 18 Sivan (June 13-19). The prophecy made to Zacharias about the conception of John the Baptist would have taken place between June 13th and 19th, for he was not administering at a feast. Being aged, it would likely have taken him a couple days to make the journey back home and since he could not leave on June 19 (it being a Sabbath), he would leave on the 20th and arrive on the 21st or 22nd. The conception of John took place almost immediately after, so likely on the 23rd or 24th of June. Once pregnant, Elizabeth hid herself for five months (Luke 1.24) and in the sixth month Gabriel visited Mary and she conceived (Luke 1.26-41).

The conception of Christ would then take place around December 25th.

The period of human gestation is about 280 days. It is safe to assume that a miraculous pregnancy is going to last 280 days, no more and no less. It is also safe to assume that the birth of the Lord would take place exactly 280 days from December 25th on September 29th because the 29th was the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles and because that day is also Michaelmas, the Feast of Michael and All Angels. In particular the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles makes sense considering the words in Matthew 1.18 and John 1.4 where we're told that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The word in the Greek phrase kai eskenosen en hemin maintains an implication of "tabernacle." The phrase should read "And tabernacled with us" and is corroborated by the fact that the word "tabernacled" is preserved in the R.V. margin.

This date, as opposed to winter, also makes sense from the circumstantial evidence we have in the Bible. First, shepherds and their flocks would not have been found abiding in open fields in December - there wouldn't have been any pasture. It was customary for them to withdraw in October or November. Second, in instituting a census, the Romans would have been doing something unpopular. Making people travel during the most inhospitable time of the year would have made the whole thing worse. Getting people to report to Jerusalem when many were already planning a trip there for the Feast of Tabernacles would have been significantly easier. Third, a woman nine months pregnant would not be able to make a considerable journey like Mary did in the dead of winter.

To read more about this and see a breakdown of the days, please reference E.W. Bullinger's work in Appendix 179 of the Companion Bible.

So let the Christian remember December 25th as one of the most miraculous days in history, the day of the Conception, since the Biblical account of events makes it very likely that the 25th was the day of Conception rather than birth. The Christian can and should honor the 25th as a holiday, but they should know what really took place on that day.