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|NASB||Luke 2:1 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.|
|Luke 2:1 Now in those days a decree went out from [the emperor] Caesar Augustus, that all the inhabited world (the Roman Empire) should be registered [in a census].|
I would like to ask a question concerning the actual birth date of Jesus versus the celebrated date of the birth of Jesus (December 25th, every year). Why was December 25th chosen as the day we celebrate?
Luke chapter 2 speaks of the time of the birth of Jesus to coincide with the 1st census commanded by Caeser Augustus while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
While on site in Bethlehem Mary gave birth to Jesus. Can we zero in on the date approximately? Or, is this date a rough estimate or completely off the mark?
Bible Answer: Christmas was placed on December 25th because it was the winter solstice celebration of the pagan people who converted to Christianity near the 2nd-3rd centuries. Because the people wanted to continue to celebrate their festivals, the leaders of the faith at the time, finding it too hard to get them to stop celebrating the pagan holidays, decided to make them into Christian holidays.
When was Jesus born? The true answer is that no one knows. But that being said, I would LOVE to speculate.
The census was not a one day deal. There was a period of time when the people had to show up. Since Nazareth was a long ways from Bethlehem, it makes sense that Joseph would have registered at a time when he would be nearby anyway. Scripture tells us that Joseph went to all three festivals every year, so it only makes sense that the birth of Jesus would be near one of the three festival times set aside in the Torah for the men to go to Jerusalem.
Joseph would have taken Mary because it was close to the time to give birth. Why wouldn’t he stay and wait to register latter if he had a window of time to register? Because Joseph wasn’t going to miss a festival of the Lord for any reason. He, knowing the significance of this child, was not going to leave Mary behind either. Not to mention the circumstances surrounding her pregnancy. In 1st century Judaism, Jesus would have been either a Mamzer (Hebrew for basterd), or at the least a “doubtful mamzer.” The Mishnah (Oral Law, Traditions of the Elders) has many laws about what such a child could and could not do which is fascinating and would have made them outcasts among the devout. There must have been family tensions that Joseph and Mary were happy to leave behind for a while.
Why did Mary not find room in a home to give birth? Think about it. Even a stranger would want to give up their accommodations for a pregnant woman giving birth, but for some reason, Joseph can not find room in the small village of his (and Mary’s) own ancestry. This is fascinating. Why do they even go to an Inn if they are in their families home town? Probably because they were outcasts do to Mary being pregnant out of marriage (see pervious paragraph) After the shepherds come and spread the “Good news” to the whole town, Joseph and Mary find themselves in a house according to Matthew. Maybe the family had a change of heart?
I believe Jesus was born during the Feast of Booths, was crucified during Passover, sent the Holy Spirit on the feast of Weeks, and the Trumpet will would on the Day of Trumpets, and on the day of Atonement the Lord will return. OKAY, this is very speculative, and no, I do not subscribe to Hal Lindsey, but hey, it’s a lot more logical than December 25th.
We know that during the feast of booths (Tabernacles or Sukkot), the people were to spend the week living in “booths” or temporary shelters. This is exactly what a stable would have been.
One more thought that supports a birth during a festival. When would the Inn be full? During any ‘ol day of the year, or when hundreds of thousands of Jews from the world over were visiting Jerusalem for a festival just up the road? The Bethlehem Inn was excavated some distance north of Bethlehem (closer to Jerusalem near the main road.) It housed the people on a second floor, and the animals were kept below the rooms. They believe that the best place to find privacy would be in the stable under the Inn rooms. This is a possibility for the birth place as well as the cave theory. This would have been cleaner, had access to clean straw, and provided a place for the animals to move to (I doubt they were in the same room like our nativity scenes show). Of course the early church fathers say it was a cave and that’s some good evidence.