Dating Jesus’ ‘Conception’ and ‘Birth’
Actually, Jesus’ birthday is not when we think it is.
If we want to learn the date of Jesus of Nazareth’s conception and birth, we first need to closely look at the chronology that the Bible clearly gives us for John the Baptist’s conception and birth.
- The Conception of John the Baptist – Read Luke 1:5-25
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias as he was ministering in the Temple, it was during the Biblical two-week course of Abijah. This order of priests ministered in the Temple the eighth week of the Hebrew year according to the ordinance of 1 Chronicles 24:10. The eighth week transverses the last week of the second Hebrew month of Iyar and the first week of the third Hebrew month of Sivan, which concludes at “Pentecost” – 5 weeks after the Passover.
This above is the anchor point for discovering the exact day of the birth of Jesus, Israel’s Messiah. The angel Gabriel’s promised Zacharias that his prayer had been answered, and when he went home to his wife Elizabeth, she conceived, almost immediately. This puts the conception of John the Baptist very near the time of the Feast of Pentecost, in the second week of the month of Sivan, the third Hebrew month.
- The Conception of Jesus relative to that of John the Baptist. Read Luke 1:26-55
At the close of the sixth month of Elizabeth’ s pregnancy the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary. Gabriel told Mary about Elizabeth, saying “she who was called barren is six months pregnant,” (Luke 1:36). This would be the last of the ninth Hebrew month called Kislev, at the time of Hannukah. There are 27 weeks between the end of the course of Abiyah (Abia or Abijah) and the start of Hannukah (meaning, ‘the Dedication’), which is celebrated for eight days, from the Jewish months of Kislev 25 to Tevet 2.
Mary had also received the word of the angel concerning the ‘conception’ of Messiah In Her. Mary rushed from Nazareth to the home of Elizabeth and Zacharias in the Judean mountains close to Jerusalem, about a three days journey from Nazareth. Mary was probably going there to celebrate Hannukah and to help Elizabeth with her pregnancy, as well as to talk to Elizabeth about the angel’s visitation with Mary.
Upon Mary’s greeting to Elizabeth, Elizabeth responds to Mary, calling her “the mother of my Lord.” (Luke 1:43). This indicates that Mary was already pregnant with Jesus. Thus, Jesus was conceived at Hannukah, “the Festival of Lights,” for Jesus alone is “The Light of the World” (Matt. 5:14-16).
Sometimes Hannukah falls close to the modern Christmas date. The apostate pagan based Roman church of medieval times mixed the ‘Pagan winter solstice’ of late December … with the 25th of Kislev (Hannukah) to create Christmas (Christ’s Mass) on December 25. Supposedly, this was to celebrate Christ’s birth.
Jesus of Nazareth is shown celebrating Hannukah (the ‘feast of dedication’) in John 10:22-23. It is at this celebration that He declares “I and My Father are One” (John 10:30). This testifies to the Divine origin in Jesus’ ‘conception’ in Mary by the Holy Spirit. It also reinforces Hannukah as the time of Jesus’ conception.
Historically, it’s more Biblically accurate to celebrate Jesus entering the world through ‘conception’ at Chanukah than to celebrate His birth at Christmas. CHRISTMAS IS NOT THE BIRTHDAY OF CHRIST. In fact, Christmas is an invention of the Catholic Church’s Religious Compromise with Pagan Tradition of the Roman Empire. Christmas only has harmony with the truth, in that it falls approximately at the time of year when Jesus was CONCEIVED by the Holy Spirit in Mary (not yet ‘born’).
- The Birth of John the Baptist – Read Luke 1:56-80
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months, which was until the birth of John the Baptist. 27 weeks makes up the first six months (two trimesters), which is exactly the time from the discourse of Abiyah to Hannukah, that leaves 14 weeks to accomplish the last trimester and bring Elizabeth’s pregnancy to full term. There are exactly 14 weeks from Hannukah to Passover (Month of Nisan 14th-22nd). Therefore, JOHN THE BAPTIST WAS BORN AT PASSOVER. He was circumcised on the eighth day, which would be the last day of Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread. Gabriel had said that John would “go forth” in the strength and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17). Jewish teaching was that Elijah would come again at Passover (this is still a tradition of Judaism today).
- The Birth of Jesus - Luke 2
Nisan, when John the Baptist was born, is the first month of the Hebrew year. As we have shown, Mary conceived Jesus six months after Elizabeth ‘conceived’ John, which means Jesus’s birth would have to come six months after John’s birth, during the seventh Hebrew month of Tishri. Since we also know that John was born at “Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread,” we can deduce the time of Jesus’s actual birth by counting six Hebrew months from Passover. The ‘Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread’ begins on Nisan 15 and six months later ‘the feast of Tabernacles’ begins on Tishri 15. Therefore, Jesus was born on the first day of Sukkot (the 8-day Feast of Tabernacles).
The first day of Tabernacles is a Sabbath rest, so it fits that Joseph and Mary planned their journey to Bethlehem so they would finish their journey before the festival Sabbath. They found lodging just in time.
Concerning ‘the Feast of Tabernacles,’ the LORD commanded that Israel should observe it for eight days. They were to build temporary dwellings called a ‘sukkah’ to dwell in (Leviticus 23:34-43). These sukkahs were erected to house families with some bare comforts and food for the eight days. Food was placed in a stall or a CRIB for storage in the tabernacle. The King James Bible calls this food crib a “manger.” Jesus was not born in a barn, but rather in a temporary tabernacle which had been built for the Tabernacles celebration. That He was placed in a “manger” demonstrates metaphorically that He is the Biblical “Bread of Life” from heaven.
The eighth day Jesus was circumcised according to the scriptural command (Luke 2:21). For a male, this is what accomplishes a full Hebrew birth. The ‘Feast of Tabernacles’ extends for exactly eight days. The first and last days are both holy Sabbaths. Jesus was born on the first day, a holy Sabbath, and circumcised on the eighth day, the holy Sabbath of ‘Feast of Tabernacles.’ Evidently, God intended this entire “Feast of Tabernacles” to be set aside by Israel in order to accomplish and celebrate Jesus’ birth into this world.
Note that God provided two holy feasts that lasted eight days, 1) Passover and Unleavened Bread and 2) The Feast of Tabernacles. John the Baptist, the forerunner of Messiah, was born and circumcised in the eight days of the first, then six months later Jesus, the Messiah, was born and circumcised the eight days later. John came in the first month of the Jewish year and Jesus came in the seventh month. John introduced ‘the way’ through ‘Messiah’ and then Jesus perfected or completed it, even as the first and seventh months signify.
Conclusion: This chronology provides us with the exact day of Jesus’ birth as being on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Tishri, according to the Hebrew calendar. The Hebrew calendar is kept to this modern day, and every year ‘The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot)’ is absolutely set from Tishri 15 to Tishri 22. Because the Hebrew calendar is based on the course of the Moon (Lunar) and our modern calendar is based on the course of the Sun (Solar), the two move in relation to each other. This means “the Feast of Tabernacles” will always occur somewhere between mid-September and mid-October, but not on the exact same days of the Gregorian calendar (our modern/secular calendar) dates every year. Example: in 1995 the Feast of Tabernacles was October 9-October 17, but in 1996 “the Feast of Tabernacles” was September 28-October 5. While this is initially confusing to the unlearned mind, a combination Gregorian / Hebraic calendar easily clarifies how these dates relate. Many funeral homes provide Hebrew calendars each year showing the modern dates for all the holy Feast Days of Israel.
It may help you to understand the seeming movement of Jesus’ birthday by looking at your own birthday. Even though your birthday might keep the same number year after year, the day of the week it falls on changes. In like manner, Yeshua’s (Jesus’) birthday is on the same Hebraic calendar number each year, Tishri 15, but in relation to our Gregorian calendar it changes. However, you can plan for His birthday to always occur sometime between the latter part of September and the early part of October.
“The Feast of Tabernacles” is a most important commemoration for Israel. Zechariah 14:16-17 tells us that one day all nations on earth will be required by law to honor this feast.
Yet we of today’s Gentile grace age know that Paul, our Apostle, tells us in Colossians 2:16 we have no special days, foods, prayers, or rituals to adhere to. Our reality is innermost with the indwelling “Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus” dwelling as ‘one with us’ in an eternal union with our “spirit of man” (cf. 1Cor 6:17).
- Chronological data adapted from David M. Hargis -