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    Jesus the Cornerstone

    Jesus birth can be dated by the motion of the planets and stars as attested by those who recorded it in the gospels. This is unsurprising as he is the author of creation.

    For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

    1 Colossians 1:16-17

    The right details concerning his birth and death were remembered and written in scripture; they help us rediscover them in the modern age. The dates of these events are crucial as they provide the base by which other dates and events are aligned to:

    • Jesus' Birth: 2 BC June 17 - Jupiter-Venus conjunction [1] (with Magi arriving 2 BC December 25)

    • Jesus' Death: 33 AD April 3 (Friday) at 3 pm - before the Passover meal [2]

    • Start of Jesus' Ministry: The Fall of 29 AD - with a commonly accepted 3 1/2 year ministry

    This fits well when Luke says:

    Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry.

    Luke 3:23

    It may be observed that in his death and resurrection the number 3 is used many times over. This may be a simple reference to the Trinity, but it is also to do with Jesus sacrifice on the cross where our sin is completely paid for and the restoring power of his resurrection (this is covered in more detail on the 'King' page). Collectively, this points the love that the three persons of the Godhead has for the world (John 3:16).

    The date of Jesus' death has been dealt with quite comprehensively, there is even evidence of the earthquake when he was dying on the cross [13]. However, there is more to be said regarding Jesus' birth that hasn't been said already - at the same time I will quickly give a summary of the amazing astronomical events that surrounded his birth,

    Magi mesmerised by Jupiter - 'the wandering star'

    After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.

    Matthew 2:1-2

    Jesus' birth centres around the planet Jupiter. Even though Jupiter is not a star, the Magi saw it as a 'wandering star' that would traverse the night sky appearing each night at a different positions in relation to the constellations of the fixed stars. The Magi were learned (wise men) that were familiar with this particular 'star', knowing the times when it rose (first became visible above the horizon). Jupiter got to be known as the 'king star', They revered the main lights in the sky (the  Sun and the Moon), and other wandering stars (other planets visible to the naked eye) which busied themselves beside the slow and regal Jupiter. It is a high chance that these Magi were Zoroastrian astrologers who worshiped anything to do with fire or lights in creation, To understand the significance of the stars to the Magi we can also look also to the influence of the Greeks and Romans who named the planets after their gods and gave the constellations their representations. [3] [4] [5]

    • Sun - Victorious

    • Moon - Glorious

    • Jupiter - King

    • Venus - Mother, Love and Beauty

    • Mercury - Messenger

    • Leo Constellation -  Lion

      • Star Regulus -  Kingship, Heart

    • Virgo Constellation - Virgin ​

    With all the symbolism in place we can understand what prompted the Magi to make the journey to Bethlehem and how it fits with Jesus birth. They would have observed the following

    • Jupiter Rising (first sighting over the horizon)

      •  3 BC July 14

    • Jupiter - Regulus Triple Conjunctions - these conjunctions (meetings) involved a retrograde (backward motion)

      • 3 BC September 11 - also the sun was seen in the middle of the constellation of Virgo, the moon at the feet, and Mercury and Venus also present.

      • 2 BC February 17

      • 2 BC May 8

    • Jupiter - Venus Conjunction

      • 2 BC June 17 8:30 pm

    • Jupiter Starting Retrograde

      • 2 BC December 25​

    The triple of conjunctions of Jupiter and Regulus occur periodically every 83 & 71 years and most probably these Magi had not seen one in their lifetime. However, it is the conjunction of Jupiter and Venus that was the real spectacle- it was so close and  long that it persistently shone a bright light. No other Jupiter - Venus conjunction like this has been seen in the last 4500 years. [6]

    jupiter_star.png
    The account by Luke, the disciple and the physician

    In the gospel of Luke we find an expert's account of Jesus' birth; it cleverly provides the details that need our attention.

    Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eye witnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

    Luke 1:1-4

    There is a lot in the information in the next paragraphs that needs careful scrutiny. In the past scholars have been drawn in to date Jesus birth by correlation with Zechariah's attendance of the Altar of incense when the angel appeared to him. This is a 'red herring' - we do not need to do such 'mathematical acrobatics' to arrive at the date of the birth of Jesus.

    In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

    Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense.

    Luke 1:5-9

    Two pieces of information from this passage have been used to date the birth of Jesus.

    • At the time of Herod - Herod's life extends after the census at the time of Jesus' birth (Luke 2) and to the threat to kill Jesus (Matthew 2). The census can be dated between November 3 BC and February 2 BC or even later due to extenuating circumstances (detailed in 'The Birth of Jesus' section below)

    • Zechariah was on duty in the temple burning incense - This cannot be calculated as being 8 or 16 weeks following the Passover based from the order of families of priests assigned duties in 1 Chronicles 24. Following the Jews return from exile in Babylon, not all the credentials of priests could be verified (Nehemiah 7:63-65) and so some were excluded from priesthood. Duties to provide and burn wood on the altar were redistributed fairly among the priestly divisions by casting lots (Nehemiah 10:34) - wood brought by the priests would be used on the Altar of burnt offering and coals produced there would then be used for the Altar of incense in the Holy Place. Offering of incense had to take place after a sacrifice, because only after atonement could communion with God take place. [14] In short, we cannot date the Zechariah's duty in the temple from the resulting order of the lots.

    The angel Gabriel then appeared to Zechariah and said:

    Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.

    Luke 1:13

    A little later the verses begin to correlate with what was to happen in the night sky to mark the Annunciation and conception of Jesus.

    When his time of service was completed, he returned home. After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. ‘The Lord has done this for me,’ she said. ‘In these days he has shown his favour and taken away my disgrace among the people.’ 

    In the sixth month [of Elizabeth’s pregnancy], God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.

    Luke 1:23-27

    We simply need to recognize that the highlighted phrase, 'of Elizabeth's pregnancy', has been added (it is not in the original greek) - instead it is just the sixth month of the religious year, Elul - August/September [10]. The date of the first Jupiter-Regulus conjunction  fits well with this date. Only, then can we simply go backwards over 5 months from the Annunciation to find when Zechariah was in the temple.

    • 3 BC March/April - Zechariah visited by the angel Gabriel and John conceived

    • In 6th Month, 3 BC September 11 ("Yom Teruah”, “Day of Blowing" or “Day of Trumpets”,  Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year festival that commemorates the creation of the world) - Mary conceived Jesus and promptly went to visit Elizabeth

      • The ​1st conjunction of Jupiter - Regulus is seen by the Magi. They also see Virgo in the west, with the sun. The moon is at her feet and her head is resting on the land of the (12 tribes) of Israel (see Revelation 12:1​)

    It may be more than a coincidence that can you take the first letters of the months’ names  surrounding this first conjunction and form the phrase ‘A SON’ (August, September, October, November) – which can also be done with the Roman month names (Augustus, September, October, November). How thoughtful of the Roman Senate to decide to rename the month of August from ‘Sextilis’ to ‘Augustus’ in 8 BC [7] – they thought they did it to honour the Roman Emperor, but God turned it around to honour King Jesus. The words brought to Mary by the angel Gabriel also ring through with announcement of a son of God.

    Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants for ever; his kingdom will never end.’

     ‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’

    The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So, the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 

    Luke 1:29-35

    May be the 3 BC 25th March is the date that the angel Gabriel announced to Zechariah the birth of a son which was later used instead by the early church in  4th or 5th Century AD as the Annunciation to Mary [11]; this was also when Church didn't know the month and date of the birth of Jesus and so decided to choose a date of December 25th [12] - which instead as we will see the date when the Magi visited Jesus. 

    In the following verse, we can calculate Elizabeth's sixth month of pregnancy using this date of 3 BC 25th March to be somewhere between 3 BC 25th August to 3 BC 24th September. Of course, Jesus conception on 3 BC 11 September fits perfectly in this window. 

    Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.

    Luke 1:36

    Mary then hurried down to see Elizabeth.

    At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!’

    Luke 1:39-45

    Luke 1 then continues to the birth of John - probably in 2 BC January. This would have been just before the Magi witnessed the 2nd conjunction on Jupiter - Regulus (2 BC February 17) which was also the day of the Jewish celebration of Purim Katan (celebrating an event written in the book of Esther when the casting lots played an important part - what is the chances of that) . When the 3rd conjunction of Jupiter - Regulus (2 BC May 9) showed in the night sky the Magi were starting think something important was happening. It was only when they saw the amazing spectacle of Jupiter and Venus merge (2 BC June 17 8:30 pm) did they realise that they had to mount their camels and travel to Jerusalem, to Herod, to inquire about the one born king of the Jews. They may even had the scripture from Isaiah that prophesied a son of God would be born of a virgin - from which they concluded that god of the stars had given a son.

    ...the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (meaning 'God is with us')

    Isaiah 7:14

    The Birth of Jesus

    In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

    So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

    Luke 2:1-7

    Again we have two more pieces of information that needs careful scrutiny.

    • Quirinius governor of Syria - Although records show Quirinius became governor of Syria in AD 6, there is evidence that he had been active in the governance of Syria much earlier. Quirinius was made consul in 12 BC, one of the two most powerful men in the empire behind the emperor himself.

    • Census - Around April 3 BC was the 750th anniversary of the founding of Rome. Coupled with this was an oath of allegiance ordered to celebrate Augustus Caesar’s silver jubilee on February 5, 2BC. Josephus substantiates that such an oath of allegiance was required in Judea at this time. However, Josephus also records a large of contingent of Pharisees refused to take the oath, which would have led to an embarrassment to Herod. One could imagine the military force of Quirinius required at this time, all of which may well have delayed the census proceedings causing Bethlehem to be congested. Consequently, come June 2BC  there was no guest room for Mary to have her baby.[8]

    Luke then tells the well known story of the shepherds (those considered of low social status) being the first to receive the news of the birth of Jesus. This was before Mary was ritually purified (40 days after birth, Leviticus 12) and before circumcision on the 8th day. After the purification period, Jesus was presented at the Temple, where 2 prophets, Simeon and Anna, declared who Jesus was and what he would do.

     

    After seeing the 'star' the Magi were still packing the gold, frankincense and myrrh. They didn't go directly to Bethlehem either; they went to Herod. Matthew 2 continues the story.

    Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’

    After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.

    Matthew 2:7-10

    Herod cunningly asks when Jupiter first rose (July 14th 3 BC) - this is a valuable piece of information reveals that he wasn't taking any chances, he wanted to know when first Jesus could have been born.

    When the Magi set off again they had for a little while been without Jupiter in the night sky (it had disappeared near or behind the sun or even clouds), however it reappeared just in time for it to enter a retrograde motion and stop over the place where the child was,

    On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

    Matthew 2:11-12

    The encounter that the Magi had was different to that the shepherds had; they now came to a house, and Jesus was no longer a baby but a child of 6 months. This was the first Christmas Day - December 25 2 BC.- when gifts were given. 

     

    Joseph too received a warning from an angel and was told to flee with Mary and Jesus to Egypt; Herod would try to search to kill the child.

    When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.

    Matthew 2:16

    Herod calculated that from July 14th 3 BC when he was told that Jupiter first rose until a full search could be completed, his soldiers should be looking for boys 2 years old and under, It was not soon after this that Herod died, after a lunar eclipse on 29th December 1 BC [9]

    Footnotes:

    [1] The Star of Bethlehem

    http://www.eaas.co.uk/cms/index.php%3Foption%3Dcom_content%26view%3Darticle%26id%3D32:the-star-of-bethlehem%26catid%3D5:learning-zone%26Itemid%3D8

    [2] Jesus Died 3:00 p.m on Friday, April 3, A.D. 33

    http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/when-precisely-did-jesus-die-the-year-month-day-and-hour-revealed

    [3] Youtube Birth of Jesus - Triple conjunction of Jupiter and Regulus - see the procession of planet by slow motion at the end of the video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zZPyxxHrw4

    [4] Summary of Conjunctions of Planets ("wandering stars"), Constellations and Stars: Meanings, Interpretations, Timetable, Other Astronomical Events Near Time Of Christ's Birth 

    https://tccsa.tc/articles/star_dates.html

    [5] The worship of the sun, moon, stars, fire and all the good creation

    https://authenticgathazoroastrianism.org/2015/02/04/the-worship-of-the-sun-moon-stars-fire-and-all-the-good-creation/

    [6] The Lion Led the Way

    https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_Lion_Led_the_Way.html?id=7DWIngEACAAJ&redir_esc=y

    [7] 8 BC Roman month name change

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/8_BC

    [8] When was Jesus born? The Census

    https://pursiful.com/2006/12/15/when-was-jesus-born-the-census/

    [9] When did Herod die?
    https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/jesus-historical-jesus/herods-death-jesus-birth-and-a-lunar-eclipse/

    [10] yeshua-born-sept-11-3-bc

    http://restoringourjewishroots.blogspot.com/2009/09/yeshua-born-sept-11-3-bc.html

    [11] Feast of the Annunciation

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feast_of_the_Annunciation

    [12] Christmas

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas

    [13] Crucifixion Earthquake

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2149750/Jesus-died-Friday-April-3-33AD-claim-researchers-tie-earthquake-data-gospels-date.html

    [14] Altars in the Temple

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altar_(Bible)

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