Twice in the past month I was engaged in heated Twitter DM debates over the possibilities of Jesus being born during the Feast of the Tabernacle. Both of these twitter followers, who were very convinced of this, were in no way having none of me or my theories. I was told by one that my theory relies too much on astronomy, and the Talmud is not valid scripture that is full of Jewish mysticism. Although I respect their beliefs, I must answer to what I believe to be complete nonsense, and a poor theory with more questions than answers. I’m still learning about this theory, and the origins of it, but there are people, more than one, who share this belief. Know this, I will except all challenges with vigor.
From the little research I have uncovered thus far, D Thomas Lancaster, the Director of Education at the Fruits of Zion church in Hudson, WI and Dr. David R. Reagan the Founder and Director for Lamb & Lion Ministries in Mckinney, TX seem to be important proponents of this theory. However, Lancaster states on his website about this belief, “Admittedly, this is all speculative. The Gospels do not actually indicate that John was born on the first day of Passover, that Yeshua was born on the first day of Sukkot, or that he was circumcised on the eighth day of Sukkot. Nevertheless, there may be evidence that the early Jewish believers thought so.” However, I would like to see this evidence to study it more. Reagan also downplays this theory by stating on his website, “Christmas is not a commandment. It is far more important HOW we celebrate (“remember the reason for the season”) than WHEN. Let us not give or receive condemnation for observing the 25th of December, rather let us celebrate that God’s Son became fully human and lived a perfect life so that He could become our perfect sacrifice and conquer sin and death in our place.”
Unlike Lancaster and Reagan, I believe that the Talmud foretells of both the birth and death of Jesus by comparing him to Jewish Patriarchs. They were born and died during the Passover month of Nisan. This makes knowing Jesus’ birth important because it connects his birth to Talmud. This shows us that he was Jewish and worshiped the Jewish religious celebrations. It also proves he was not only spiritually perfect, but also perfect within the Jewish calendar which is based on Lunar phases, another creation of God. This may be a hobby for them, but I’m very serious about it. You use information from the Talmud that tells of Zechariah's Temple encounter, but ignore the most important verse. Evidence proves that Christians have been using this verse since the 2nd century, and may have been using it much longer.
R. Yehoshua, says: In Nissan the world was created, and in the same month the patriarchs were born, and in Nissan they also died; Isaac was born on the Passover; on New Year’s Day Sarah, Rachel, and Hannah were visited, Joseph was released from prison, and the bondage of our fathers in Egypt ceased. In Nisan our ancestors were redeemed from Egypt, and in the same month we shall again be redeemed.
To my Twitter challengers, I will start out by saying that if you care about finding the date of the Nativity, the account in Matthew 2 is the most important evidence in the pursuit of this. I have discovered when Matthew 2 and astronomy is dismissed because it is evil, there is usually a cryptic interpretation of one or more Bible verses soon to follow, and I’m the one of accused of not relying enough on the Bible. I will not tolerate humans twisting Bible verses to come up with invalid theories. God provided the verse; humans have misused it. This practice may attract some people to Christ, but others are not impressed with the obvious misuse of scripture, history, and science. They are turned in the opposite direction. The Talmud is composed of several books. It is the Oral Law of God, and the second most important scripture in Judaism next to the Torah, and is not full of “Jewish Mysticism” I will address more in future blogs. But, now I what to focus on the Feast of the Tabernacle or Booths.
I must confess that until recently I knew little of the Feast of the Tabernacle. It is one of the most important times of worship in Judaism. It last seven days. During this time Jews spend the night in small makeshift tents or booths to remind them of the time that the Ark of the Convenient was housed in a tent before the building of the Temple. Leviticus explains this.
(Leviticus 23:39-43) On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. . .. You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
The supporters of the Feast of the Tabernacle birth of Jesus point to the OT prophet Zechariah. His book prophetises that a time will come when the whole world will at some time worship the Feast in the name of Jesus. John 7:37-39 follows this belief.
(Zechariah 14:16) Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.
(John 7:37-39) On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
While both of these verses, one from the OT and one from the mouth of Jesus, foretell of a time when the world will observe the Feast. I’m not sure about announcing the time of the Nativity. Good for bolstering the theory, but not enough to base the whole belief on. They point to Luke for the dating of this belief. Luke tells us of the miracle birth of John the Baptist. We know John was 6 months older than Jesus. Luke states:
(Luke 1:5-7) 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.
Theologians know that John's father, Zechariah was serving in the Temple nine months before Passover, when it was revealed to him by an angel of the Lord that his wife would soon become pregnant. Alright this is a good start we have some historical evidence, ironically from the Talmud, that his priestly order had Temple duties at this time. Therefore we can date the time of the Angel coming before him. But, after that the actual time of conception becomes murky. Luke continues,
(Luke 1:23-25) 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 favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”
Problems start to appear after this because we do not know when Zechariah left to go home after his service was complete nor how long it took after he arrived home for Elizabeth to become pregnant. If she become pregnant right away, John was born near the time of Passover and Jesus near the time of the Feast of the Tabernacle if she became pregnant five to six months after the time of Zechariah's encounter with the angel, Jesus would have been born at Passover. We also know from Luke that Jesus was born in a manger because the rooms in Bethlehem were full. One must remember that during this Feast, Jews were to sleep in makeshift tents outdoors, not in rooms. If Jesus was born during this time Jesus would have been born in a tent because it was what Jews did, and not a manger because there were no rooms available. This defeats the purpose of reminding Jews of the day when the Ark was housed in a tent. Luke states,
(Luke 2:7) 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.
Here is what messing from the Tabernacle birth theory. There is no ancient evidence for a Star of Bethlehem, there is no verse from the Bible or Talmud that clearly states a possible date for the Tabernacle Nativity, and no early Church traditions that indicate that those living close to the time of Jesus were worshiping his birth at the time of the Feast of the Tabernacle. See my earlier blogs about what the Talmud says about the birth of the Patriarchs being born and dying during the month of Passover, the observance of the Chinese comet in 5BCE during the month of Passover, Clement of Alexandria's 2nd century statement of Gnostic Christians celebrating Christmas and Easter on the same day of the year, Hipploytus’ 3rd century statue that tells of Jesus birth during Passover, and Origen, who was Clement’s student, commentary on the Star being a comet. I also tell how the Magi related the comet to the birth of Jesus in my book, The Essence of Perfection. Until my next blog, GO WITH GOD, and please learn more about the Jewish festivals that Jesus was a part of, and worshiped.
15 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.