Biblical Chronology and an End Times Perspective




When Was Jesus Born?



Jesus was born on Kislev 25 of 3757, or Hanukkah (Chanukah), the Feast of Dedication, or Festival of Lights. That day was Romanized to December 25, 5 BC.


There is proof that Jesus was born about 5 BC – the death of Herod the Great in 4 BC. There are proofs that the Annunciation, or conception of Jesus, fell about March 25 – Luke’s sixth month and Zachariah serving in the Division of Abijah. The Star of Bethlehem is described in Chinese records. There were always shepherds and flocks in the fields around Jerusalem year round, and a few shepherds were blessed to see infant Jesus. This is a summary version with links to detailed pages in “New Testament Chronology.”


Jesus was born before Herod the Great died in 4 BC. His death is well established by the writings of Josephus and the coins of Herod and his successors. The probable date of Herod’s death was a day on which it was forbidden to fast, Kislev 7, or November 27 in 4 BC.


The Annunciation occurred in the sixth month. "Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin . . . and the virgin's name was Mary." (Luke 1:26-27) Luke was a Greek from Antioch writing to Greek-named Theopholis. He would have used the Greek calendar that was widely used in that part of the world. The sixth month in the Syro-Macedonian calendar was Xanthikos, and the middle of that month in 5 BC was March 25. Nine months later Jesus was born on December 25.


The Division of Abijah also supports the conception of Jesus about March 25, 5 BC. This was first suggested by Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, in a sermon in 386 AD. Zacharias was a priest in the Division of Abijah and was chosen to enter to burn incense in the Temple (Luke 1) The angel Gabriel appeared to him, and he was told that he would conceive a son to be named John. He likely served during the Feast of Tabernacles, his Division serving October 3-10 of 6 BC. Hurrying home, son John would have been quickly conceived. The timing of Elizabeth’s pregnancy and the Annunciation then falls about March 25, 5 BC, leading to a probable date of Jesus’ birth on the traditional December 25.


But who could remember a date like December 25 on a newly created Julian Calendar used only by the Romans? Hanukkah always falls on Kislev 25 which varied with the Roman calendar, but in 5 BC that day coincided with December 25. Joseph and Mary would remember that feast day to later retell. The shepherds who were tending their flocks in the fields around Jerusalem would remember Jesus was born on Hanukkah to retell. Simeon and Anna would remember Jesus’ presentation at the Temple to retell. (Luke 2:22-40) Some would remember when the census that brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem occurred. Remembering Hanukkah was the origin of the tradition of the birth of Jesus on December 25.


It is said that the shepherds would not have been out tending sheep during the winter. This would have been true out in the countryside, but not around Jerusalem. During Solomon’s time his court consumed 100 sheep and goats daily (1 Kings 4:23). Herod’s court and military, Temple sacrifices, increased population, and increased demand during a festival would have required hundreds of sheep daily. In the worst weather sheep owners would have stayed home and sent sons or poorly-paid shepherds with their flocks to Jerusalem. Jerusalem was a sheep magnet.


The Star of Bethlehem may have been the Shekinah Glory of God, but there are candidates found in ancient Chinese records. A “star” appeared during 5 BC that may have coincided with the Annunciation. This may have been noted by the Magi. When the Magi did visit the infant Jesus about four months after his birth a nova star appeared over Bethlehem on April 24, 4 BC.


Jesus was born on Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. Think of Jesus as the first candle Light in the menorah. 




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