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Frequently Asked Questions About Christianity, Answered Honestly!

Can We know What Year
Jesus was Born?

-by Tony Warren


    The Christian world generally celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ on the 25th of December, but it is highly unlikely that this is the date of His birth. God doesn't provide any information in scripture on the specific day of Christ's birth, but if we would work it out from the Jewish Priestly courses in the biblical record, we would probably conclude that Jesus was born in the Fall of the year sometime between September and October.

In truth, the actual day is insignificant in the celebration of His birth, because we are not commanded to, nor are we commanded not to observe it. Those of us who do, choose to do it as a special remembrance of the "Gift of God!" While we indeed celebrate his birth on every day of the year, we can also choose to set aside a day for special celebration.

But the question arises, can we know the actual year of the Lord's birth? From my studies I conclude that we can know with relative (yet not absolute) certainty from the evidence in scripture, and make a strong Biblical case that Christ was born in 7 B.C.   The circumstantial evidence in the scriptures also point to that year, and secular information agrees favorably. From the Biblical record, there are some things that we can know with certainty.

Matthew 2:16

  • "then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men."

Matthew 2:1 tells us that the birth of Jesus Christ was at the time when king Herod the Great, ruled! He wanted to kill Jesus (matthew 2:13) and told the wise men to bring back word to him about the child. But they (being warned of God -Matthew 2:12) never returned unto Herod. Here in matthew 2:16 we note carefully from the infallible Biblical record that two years had passed since King Herod had enquired of the wise men, and it was only "then" that he proceeded to kill the children of Bethlehem in an attempt to destroy Christ. Reliable secular records states that king Herod died 37 years from the time the Romans declared him King, and 34 years from the time he actually became King. That places his death at 4 B.C. Therefore if the Biblical record is correct (we know it is) Jesus had to have been born before 4 B.C. And considering that two years passed after King Herod had enquired of the wise men, and before he had the Children of bethlehem killed, we can add at least another two years to the date (He obviously, was alive 2 years "after" he enquired of the wise men to make this proclamation). So it is clear Jesus must have been born at least sometime around or before 6 B.C. (4+2=6). We also know from the biblical record that considerable time must have elapsed between Jesus' birth and King Herod's death, because after that 2 years passed, Joseph took Mary and Jesus into Egypt to escape the death edict.

Matthew 2:14-15

  • "When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night and departed into Egypt:

  • and was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet saying, Out of Egypt have I called My Son."

And they they did not leave Egypt until after Herod's death (Matt, 2:19-20). Considering that it is highly unlikely Herod died as soon as he made the proclamation to kill all the Children of Bethlehem and Jesus went into Egypt (we can reasonably assume some time passed after he made his death edict, before he himself died), the likely date of Christ's birth would biblically and logically be assumed as sometime in 7 B.C.

There is other Biblical data which also points to the year 7 B.C. as the likely year of Christ's birth. Not the least of which is that 7 B.C. was a Jubilee [yowbel] year, which commemorates the year of liberty by the blowing of the Ram's horn. We know that God uses Holy days as "types" which point to the reality, and so it would certainly be in line with prophetic scripture that God would bring such a momentous occasion as Christ's Birth to fulfillment, by denoting it in such a Holy Year as the Jubilee. The Year of Liberty! Christ was born to proclaim liberty.

The Jubilee
The Jubilee was the fiftieth year after seven sevens (or weeks of years) when the land was to experience a Sabbath of rest. What better year for our Lord (our Sabbath of rest) to come than in the Jubilee year. It is in Him that our work would cease.

Leviticus 25:9-12

  • "than shall thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.

  • and ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a Jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.

  • A Jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed.

  • for it is a Jubilee; it shall be Holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field."

The Holy days and the designated years instituted by God always point to something. And the jubilee year points to Christ as our Sabbath of Rest. He is the day wherein we are born into Christian liberty, that we cease from our works. In Him we find our rest. And what better year for Christ to be born than this year of Jubilee or Liberty. If we count every fifty years from their entrance into canaan in 1407 B.C., to the first 49 (7x7) plus the 50th (Jubilee Year) in 1357 B.C., to exactly 28 Jubilee years later, it brings us to 7 B.C. [see "The Biblical Time line" study], and 7 B.C. fits perfectly as the year of our Lord's Birth.

Another scripture which seems to point to a jubilee year as the time relating to the Lord's coming is the prophecy of the 70 weeks of Daniel 9.

Daniel 9:25

  • "know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build jerusalem unto Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times."

When we compare scripture with scriptures the seven sevens (weeks) points us back to Leviticus and the seven sevens of the Jubilee year. The coming of Messiah is intimately identified with this Jubilee year of 7 B.C.

It is also interesting to note that 7 B.C. is exactly 2000 years from the year that Jacob (Israel) was born (2007 B.C.) and we know that Christ is the Israel of God! Therefore it follows (knowing that God does nothing by coincidence), that Christ would be born on this date. i.e., the birth of Israel.

We also note that 7 B.C. is exactly 1000 years after David ascended to the throne to reign in 1007 B.C., and we know that David is a "type" of Christ, who was born king of Israel.

Matthew 2:1-2

  • "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

  • Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him".

Christ is born king of Israel and exactly 1000 years after David ascended to the throne, which again brings us to 7 B.C.

In connection with John's birth (6 months prior to our Lord's) and the Priestly office of Zecharias, there is also a great deal of evidence which would lead us to believe that Jesus might have been born on the Day of atonement in the month of Tisri (Lev. 25:9), which was the ushering in of the Jubilee year of 7 B.C., or the feast of tabernacles. The Census would have drawn Joseph and Mary to be counted.

It's interesting that there had previously been some secular speculation that there was no census because no one could find any records. But Archaeological finds indeed showed that the scriptures are accurate (not that Christians doubted it) when they discovered that the Romans had a regular enrollment of taxpayers, and that Augustus Caesar began a census that took place every 14 years. A papyrus found in Egypt states:

"Because of the approaching census it is necessary that all those residing for any cause away from their home should at once prepare to return to their own governments in order that they may complete the family registration of the enrollment."

This of course would also explain why Mary and Joseph found no room in the Inn, as Jerusalem and the neighboring communities would have no doubt been inundated with Jews who would have come from all over Israel to celebrate the Jubilee and feast days of the seventh month.

God's Word is clear that God's Holy Days look forward to (are a shadow of) God's plan for our Salvation, through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. It is therefore more than reasonable to surmise that as He fulfilled His holy days exactly on the dates of the Jewish calendar, He would also fulfil the Jubilee exactly on the dates of the Jewish calendar. In the 7th month, and perhaps even on the day of atonement.

Our conclusion therefore, based on all the Biblical evidence at hand, is that Jesus Christ was "likely" born in 7 B.C., and that a biblical case can be made that He was born sometime between September and October, near the month of Tishri.

Peace,

Copyright 1998 Tony Warren
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Created 8/7/98 / Last Modified 12/20/99
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