Greetings everyone! I want to thank all who are following this blog! Over the past months, I have struggled to make sense of is what signs did the Magi observe that sent them on their journey to Judea. I mentioned in previous blogs that I believe the main signs for the Magi to be the Chinese comet of the spring of 5BCE and the Full Moon Passover eclipse of March 23 5BCE. These two events were in the sky at, or near the same time in that year during the Passover month of Nissan. But, I believe more is needed to prove that the Magi were interested in these events, and connected them to the Judea.
The comet is easier to understand why the Magi perceived this as a sign for the coming birth of Jesus. I made it clear in past blogs that comets were embraced by Augustus as a heavenly sign from Venus that justified his reign. Any foreign kings, or their advisers would have thought this could also be used as justification for new kings under the rule of Rome by Augustus, in particular Judea. Herod was old and dying, the time was nearing for a new King of the Jews to be proclaimed. But, why was this comet meant for the Jews and not another king within the Roman Empire? This is where the eclipse of the Passover Moon becomes very significant.
,The Magi were most likely from Parthia based on what little historic evidence exists. The Parthians had both historic and political ties to Judea. Politically the Parthians viewed Rome as their greatest rival, and would have valued a great Jewish ruler as their ally. Historically the Parthians were sympathetic to the Jews. Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Achaemenians dynasty, was the one who built the second Temple. Isaiah 45:1-3 states, “Cyrus is my anointed king. I take hold of his right hand. I give him the power to bring nations under his control. I help him strip kings of their power to go to war against him. I break city gates open so he can go through them. I say to him, ‘I will march out ahead of you. I will make the mountains level. I will break down bronze gates. I will cut through their heavy iron bars. I will give you treasures that are hidden away. I will give you riches that are stored up in secret places. Then you will know that I am the Lord. I am the God of Israel. I am sending for you by name.”
The Achaemenians were still in power in Pathia during the time of Jesus. Cyrus was tolerant of different religions, rebuilt foreign temples, and very likely worshiped foreign gods. He was the first of the Achaemenians, the most famous, and viewed as a savior by Jews. God rewarded him greatly for rebuilding the Temple. All ensuing Achaemenian kings had to follow his example. Therefore, the Parthians were well aware of Jewish religion, and the advisers to their kings may have been well versed in the Jewish Talmud and Torah, or at least took advice from rabbis. If so, the Full-Moon eclipse, remember eclipses are mentioned in the Talmud as bad for Israel, would have been a sign of change for Herod. This gave them a reason to build a political alliance with the new Jewish king in order to follow Cyrus’ example of kindness to the Jews, and to gain favor in the eyes of the Lord. I think this also presents the Magi more as following Judaeo scripture, and less of the pagan astrology that is involved with the many conjunctions from 6BCE to 1BCE that other theorist use for the Star of Bethlehem and Magi. I have to believe that the Magi were not pagan astrologers following astrological signs in conjunctions. Thank you for following, and AS ALWAYS, GO WITH GOD!
I have received many tweets asking for my opinion on several theories revolving around the supposed 3 BCE birth of Jesus. Traditional historians, using the works of Jewish historian Josephus, dated the death of Herod to 4 BCE. This was based mainly on a lunar eclipse Josephus mentioned that occurred during a fast shortly before Herod’s death. He wrote in Antiquities of the Jews Book 17, Chapter 6, Verse 4, “But Herod deprived this Matthias of the high priesthood, and burnt the other Matthias, who had raised the sedition, with his companion alive. And that very night there was an eclipse of the moon.” According the NASA, based on what Josephus mentions, this eclipse occurred on March 13, 4 BCE. This happened during the Fast of Esther which begins on Adir 13, one month before the Passover month of Nissan, and last for three days. Thus, the fast would have occurred during this lunar eclipse. The excuse some historians use for this not being the eclipse shorty before Herod’s death is that this eclipse was late at night and not a total eclipse only a partial. Very thin indeed.
The 3BCE birth theories ignore the traditional date of 4 BCE for the death of Herod by mentioning another lunar eclipse that occurred on January 9, 1 BCE. There is a fast that occurs during this time, but it occurs on the 10th of Tevet and lasts only one day, therefore missing the day of the lunar eclipse by five days. Although the 4 BCE date fits better than the 1 BCE date with the fast mentioned by Josephus, there is even more from Josephus that fits better with the 4 BCE date.
Josephus writes in Antiquities of the Jews Book 17, Chapter 8, Verse 1 about the death and testament of Herod. He writes, “When he had done those things he died, the fifth day after he had caused Antipater to be slain; having reigned, since he had procured Antigonus to be slain, thirty-four years; but since he had been declared king by the Romans, thirty-seven.” We know the Roman senate, under the suggestion of Mark Anthony, declared Herod King of Judea in 40 BCE, and that Antigonus was beheaded after a war with Herod in 37 BCE. Therefore, Herod reigned from 40 BCE until his death in 4 BCE, or 37 years. Based on this, a 1 BCE death of Herod is not possible. Therefore, ANY dates for the Nativity or death of Herod that occur after 4 BCE are suspect. They have no primary sources to back them up. I challenge Larson, Martin, Steinmann, and anyone else who believes in a 1 BCE death of Herod to show me a primary source for his death, and stop making excuses for the only existing primary source available. If you are going to dismiss Josephus’ 37 reign year of Herod, then you must dismiss everything he said, including the eclipse before Herod’s death. If this is done then your 1 BCE death of Herod has no proof. Enough, focus on the dates before 4 BCE and not ones after. Your theoris are not valid until a primary source is discovered. Do the work. In the meantime, I will focus some attention on Mark Anthony’s time with Herod to find a Roman source that could validate Josephus.
14 years ago I became interested in the date that Jesus was born. This led to several years of research, I quickly realized that there was no valid information that provided any real answers to this question. Since this website is getting some interest I will post from time to time some of the information I learned during this quest.