The timing of Herod's death is a significant point in
determining the year Jesus was born. Most scholars
believe that Herod died in 4 or 5 B.C. This date is
believed to be true because the famous Jewish historian
Josephus records that Herod died shortly after a lunar
eclipse. An eclipse which occurred the evening following
the execution of two prominent Rabbis Judas and
Matthias, who had incited their disciples to tear down a
golden eagle which Herod had placed over the eastern
gate of the Temple. They were charged with sacrilege and
sedition. Although Josephus does not say, it has
commonly been believed that this eclipse was the one
which took place on Adar 15 on the Hebrew calendar (12th month)
which corresponds to our March 13, 4 B.C. I should add
here that there were 32 eclipses during Herod's reign,
so there are other possibilities. If the March 13, 4
B.C. date is accurate then the birth of Jesus would have
to have been in 5 B.C. or earlier.
There are problems with this date
records that John the Baptist began his ministry in the
of Tiberius Caesar which has been dated to 28 A.D. (Luke
3:1-3) The Bible tells us that he began his ministry
only months before Jesus began His Ministry at the age
of 30 years. (Luke 3:23) In fact, Jesus began His
ministry after being baptized by John in the Jordan
River. (Luke 3:21) John was six months older than Jesus
(Luke 1:36-38) and probably began to baptize six months
before Jesus began to preach. Since they were
essentially the same age, they were most likely born in
the same year. Being 30 years old in 28 A.D. would place
their births in 3 B.C. which would be after Herod's
death if it occurred in 4 B.C. (According to the Law 30
years is the age when a priest could begin to minister)
But we know that Herod lived after the birth of Jesus
because in an attempt to kill the baby Jesus he had all
the male children in Bethlehem 2 years old and under
murdered. (Matthew 2:16)
A Side Note: Understanding
the climate of Palestine we know that John could baptize
in spring, summer and fall. It is reasonable to believe
that since John began his ministry only months before
Jesus began His, that John began baptizing in the
spring.(when he would have also turned 30 years old) I
believe this because it is reasonable to believe that
Jesus was baptized by John the following fall when He
began His ministry.(when He would have also turned 30
According to Scripture, Jesus went into the wilderness
after His baptism in order to be tempted by Satan for
forty days. We don't know exactly how long Jesus was in
the wilderness because He fasted the whole forty days
and following the temptation God sent angels to minister
Him back to physical health. (Matthew 4:11) This
certainly took some time. It is not unreasonable to
assume that Jesus was in the wilderness for possibly two
Now, after His baptism, temptation and recovery we see
that He performs His first miracle of turning water into
wine at a wedding in Cana. (John 2) We also see that
this occurred just days before the Passover which is in
the spring on the 14th day
of the first month. (Leviticus 23:5)(John 2:11-13)
Therefore, it makes more Scriptural sense to believe
that Jesus was baptized in the fall, tempted up into
winter and performed His first miracle in the spring. If
He was baptized in the spring, tempted and recovered in
the summer then we would see that He did nothing in His
ministry for up to ten months. Had it occurred in the
summer then we would see that He did nothing in His
ministry for up to six months. By the time Jesus did the
miracle at Cana He had already been preaching previously
because He already had disciples.
So, I conclude that John began baptizing in the spring
when he turned 30 years old and Jesus officially began
His ministry at 30 when He was baptized by John in the
fall. The first element of His ministry was to overcome
the temptation of the devil. The second was to make
disciples. And the third was to confirm His Word with
signs and miracles before He laid down His life.
After baptism He overcame the temptation, recovered from
a 40 day fast, made disciples and by spring, days before
the Passover, began to confirm His Word with His first
miracle. All in all a period of about six months. The
gospel of John records three Passovers during Jesus'
ministry. The first when Jesus was 30½ years old (John
2:13), a second when He was 31½ years old (John 6:4) and
His last when He was arrested and killed. (John 13:1)
So, we see that His ministry lasted about 2½ years and
He died at the age of 32½ years.
Back to Problems with the 4 B.C. Date
15 is the second night of the Jewish festival of Purim.
Purim is not one of God's commanded appointed times, nor
is it one of the pilgrimage festivals.(Leviticus 23)
However, it was a very important two day celebration of
God delivering them from certain destruction during the
days of Esther and the Persian captivity. (Esther
9:26-32) An eclipse did take place on the second day of
Purim on Adar 15, 4 B.C. (March 13th) but it
is inconceivable to believe that Herod would have
allowed the two Rabbis to be burned alive during the
celebration of Purim.
Unlike Herod who was hated, these Rabbis were held in
high esteem among the people and were regarded as
heroes. To execute them during Purim would have been
political suicide for Herod. According to Josephus, the
trial by the Sanhedrin (Jewish Supreme Court) was fair
and the sentence was pronounced by the court. It is
extremely unlikely that the Sanhedrin would have set
their execution on the first day of Purim.
case against Herod dying in early 4 B.C., meaning both
Jesus and John having to be born in 5 B.C. or earlier,
is that the Bible supports a Wednesday crucifixion of
Jesus. Jesus was killed on Passover, and in 31 A.D.
Passover fell on Wednesday. Jesus claimed that He would
give only one sign that He was the Messiah and that was
the sign of Jonah - "An
evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and
yet NO SIGN shall be given to it BUT THE SIGN OF JONAH
the prophet. For just as Jonah was THREE DAYS and THREE
NIGHTS in the belly of the sea monster, so shall the Son
of man be THREE DAYS and THREE NIGHTS in the heart of
the earth." (Matthew
Jonah was in the fish for three full days and nights. It
is easy to see that a "Good Friday" crucifixion and a
Sunday resurrection does not amount to three days and
three nights. Since Jesus is using this as a sign to
prove who He is, it is imperative that this prophecy was
fulfilled. Muslims use the Friday Crucifixion to Sunday
Resurrection to "prove" that Jesus was not the Son of
God, but only a prophet. So, it is important that
Christians get it right.
The day following Passover is the First Day of
Unleavened Bread which is an annual High Sabbath.
(Leviticus 23:6-7) This means that Passover was a
"preparation day" for that Sabbath. (Luke 23:50-56)
Joseph of Arimathea asked for the body of Jesus at the
end of the Passover (late afternoon-He died at 3 pm)
because the Sabbath was drawing near.
This was not Saturday, the weekly Sabbath, but Thursday
an annual High Sabbath the beginning of the Feast of
Unleavened Bread. (John 19:31) In the Bible a day begins
at sundown, so Jesus was put in the tomb near the end of
the Passover yet still daylight. This was late Wednesday
afternoon, so late afternoon Thursday would be one day
and one night in the tomb. Late afternoon Friday would
be two days and two nights in the tomb. Late afternoon
Saturday would be three days and three nights in the
Jesus arose from the tomb late afternoon on the weekly
Sabbath. He was discovered missing the next morning on
Sunday, the first day of the week. If He had risen on
Sunday morning then He would have been Three days and
Four nights in the tomb which is contrary to His own
The gospels of Matthew, Luke and John are clear that
Jesus was already gone when Mary visited the tomb early
Sunday morning but Mark should be addressed here because
some point out that Chapter 16:9 says that Jesus had
risen early on the first day.
This gospel can easily be put in harmony with the other
gospel accounts by remembering that the Scriptures were
not written with punctuation. Translators had to
separate them into Chapters, verses and add commas and
So, lets look at Mark
16:9 -"Now after He had risen early on the first day of
the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene." Notice
that the translators added a comma after "week" which
reads as though Mark is telling us when Jesus
arose. But if the translators had added the comma after
"risen" Mark would not be telling us when
Jesus came forth but when
He appeared to Mary Magdalene. Notice,- "Now
after He had risen, early on the first day of the week
he first appeared to Mary Magdalene."
The comma properly placed here matches the other gospel
accounts and fits with Jesus' prophetic sign that He
would be in the tomb three days and three nights.
I conclude that Jesus was born in the
fall of 3 B.C. and was crucified on Passover in 31 A.D.
at the age of 32½.
the reason it is believed that Herod died in 4 B.C. is
because two Rabbis were executed on Purim Adar 14 and
that night, the beginning of Adar 15 (second night of
Purim) a lunar eclipse occurred. We already know that it
is extremely unlikely that the Sanhedrin would have done
. We know that Herod died only days or weeks after an
eclipse, but the question is -which of the 32 eclipses
which occurred during his reign.(of course, it would be
the last one)
According to Josephus, Herod's son Archelaus was in
power the following Passover. Between Adar 15 and Nissan
14, (Passover) there are only 29 days. If the Adar 15
eclipse is correct this would mean that Herod would have
died sometime during this period but before the Passover
and Feast of Unleavened Bread.(seven days) But there are
many recorded events which took place after the death of
Herod and the Passover. Events which would take more
than two months, far more than 29 days.
Herod had been suffering from a dreadful disease,
probably cancer, for some time. Since he was alive and
present at the execution, we can assume that his turn
for the worse and consequential death took up to two
weeks or so. This means that instead of 29 days it would
be considerable less time for these events to happen,
possibly two weeks or so.
After Herod's death, word of it had to reach Rome which
was 1700 sea miles away. According to Josephus, Sabinus,
an officer of the empire was sent forth from Rome to
place all of Herod's effects under imperial control.
Archelaus, not knowing this, started his journey to Rome
in order to have Caesar Augustus confirm him in his
kingdom. He left during the Days of Unleavened Bread.
When Archelaus came to the port city of Caesarea (on the
last day of Unleavened Bread) to set sail for Rome he
received a surprise. He met Sabinus there on his way to
Jerusalem. This was only about three weeks from Herod's
death and we already see that word had reached Rome and
Sabinus had already received orders and sailed 1700
miles to Caesarea.
For these events to take place within a three week or so
period is simply impossible. The Adar 15 (March 13)
Eclipse in 4 B.C. cannot be the one written in the
records of Josephus.
If not the Eclipse on Adar 15 (March
13), 4 B.C. then When?
The eclipse that Josephus recorded must have been the
one of January 10, 1 B.C. It took place more than three
months before the Passover which would give plenty of
time for the events mentioned above to take place. Herod
would have died in late January following the execution
of the Rabbis on January 9, 1 B.C. Jesus would have been
almost two years old when Herod died which fits with the
Scripture showing that he ordered the murder of all the
male children two years old and under in an attempt to
kill the baby Jesus. Then shortly after this the Lord
appeared to Jesus' father Joseph in a dream and told him
that the one who had sought to kill Jesus was dead and
that he could now safely return home.
Can We Know When Jesus was Born?
Perhaps we cannot be absolutely sure, but there are some
clues which give us an opportunity to make an educated
Jesus was born in Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus had
ordered a census in connection with his Silver Jubilee
which would be celebrated in 2 B.C. People were ordered
to register in their own city so Joseph traveled to
Bethlehem because he was of the house of David. These
registrations were generally ordered in the fall when
the weather was fair.
Now notice these Scriptures, "The
heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their
expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day
pours forth speech, and night to night reveals
knowledge." (Psalm 19:1-2)
A Psalm of David who as a young lad gazed upon the stars
each night as he watched over his father's sheep. David
meditated on all that he saw and concluded that the
heavens tell of the glory of God and that knowledge is
revealed in them night to night.
"The heavens declare His
righteousness, and all the peoples have seen His glory."
(Psalm 97:6) This
could mean also that the heavens declare His righteous One and
all peoples see His glory in the heavens.
"He counts the number of
the stars; He gives names to all of them." (Psalm 147:4) Here
we see that God knows each star and has a name for each
one of them.
There is Scriptural evidence that many, perhaps all
constellations were known by name during ancient Bible
times. God asked Job -"Can
you bind the chains of PLEIADES, or loose the cords of
ORION? Can you lead forth a constellation in its season,
and guide the BEAR with her satellites?" (Job 38:31-32)
The second half of Revelation 11
we see that the Seventh Angel sounded the
Seventh Trumpet which signifies
the coming of the Lord.
Now notice what took place in Chapter
following that blast -"A
great SIGN appeared in HEAVEN; a WOMAN clothed with the
sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a
crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she
cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth."
Now this sign in heaven certainly represents the
virgin Mary and also natural Israel and later spiritual
Israel. (the Church)
11, 3 B.C. the
constellation Virgo (the virgin) appeared in Israel
clothed with the sun and the moon at her feet from 6:18
pm to 7:39 pm. This
happened to occur at the beginning of the Feast of
Trumpets which is on the 1st day
of the 7th month
on the Hebrew calendar
priests were commanded to sound the horn on the 1st day
of every month so the Feast of Trumpets begins with the
seventh trump of the year. As the sun was in Virgo and
the moon at her feet the priests were sounding the
trumpets throughout the land. Since it is reasonable to
believe that Jesus was born in the fall then it is
possible that the sign which appeared and the star which
the Magi followed was Virgo, the virgin. If this is
correct then we could see that Jesus may have been born
and 7:39 on
of Trumpets, September 11th,
The annual Holy Day Festivals of
God (Leviticus 23) picture God's plan of salvation. They
are held in three seasons, spring, summer and fall. On
the 14th day
of the 1st month
(spring) is the Passover.
Paul tells us that Jesus Christ is our "Passover"
(Lamb/sacrifice)(1 Corinthians 5)
This is immediately followed by the seven days of the Feast
of Unleavened Bread. After
we receive Jesus as our "passover" we are "unleavened",
meaning we are without sin. Seven days is a number of
completion or perfection. We are to keep ourselves
"unleavened" and walk uprightly before the Lord the rest
of our life. The Passover and Unleavened Bread is a
harvest festival, the barley harvest which represents
all the faithful from Abel to those yet to receive
Christ. The barley harvest represents a harvest of
souls, the church, spiritual Israel.
The next feast day is Pentecost which
represents the eventual salvation of natural Israel.
This is depicted by two leavened loaves which are
symbols of the house of Israel (ten lost tribes) and the
house of Judah (Jews and Benjamin). This festival is
connected to the wheat harvest, so the wheat represents
natural Israel. The date for Pentecost is counted from
the weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Fifty days are counted which is why Pentecost always
falls on Sunday.
Then come the fall Festivals of the Lord. These are
in connection with the harvest of the fruit and vine and
represent the harvest and salvation of souls during and
after the Millennial reign of Jesus.
The first is the Feast
of Trumpets representing
the coming of the Lord. This is why a Jesus birth on
this day would be so significant. Primarily, it looks to
the second coming of the Lord in all His might and glory
and in great wrath toward the lawless and ungodly.
Trumpets is on the 1st day
of the seventh month (Hebrew calendar)
Exactly 10 days later is the Day
of Atonement, a fast day when the High
Priest of Israel would enter into the Holy of Holies,
into the very presence of the Almighty and offer blood
for the sins of the people.
It pictures the time after the return of Jesus when
the survivors of the Great Tribulation will become at
one with God. In means reconciliation. It also pictures
the time when Satan (the Azazel goat of Leviticus 16) is
put away. Revelation 20 tells us that Satan will be
bound for a thousand years at the return of Jesus.
Then 5 days later on the 15th day
of the seventh month begins the seven days of the Feast
of Tabernacles. This pictures the
millennial reign of Jesus.
On the eighth day there is actually a separate
Festival called the Last
Great Day. This
pictures the Great White Throne Judgment. After the
Millennial reign of Jesus Satan will be loosed for a
little while to tempt the nations and then be cast into
the Lake of Fire to be destroyed. Immediately following
this all the graves will open and the great and small
will come forth.
These are people who never knew God or had a chance
to know the salvation of the Lord. Revelation
that the books (of the Bible) will be opened to their
understanding and they will eventually be judged by how
they yield to God's Word.
believe it is reasonable to consider that since God had
Jesus, our Passover Lamb sacrificed on the very day of
Passover in 31 A.D., that He also planned the birth of
Jesus on Trumpets the Feast connected to the coming of
When Jesus was born in that manger in Bethlehem his
parents wrapped Him in "swaddling clothes." I believe
that they were instructed by God to do this because
swaddling clothes is something reserved for royalty.
They are 2 inch strips of linen which are wrapped
around the newborn beginning at its feet after he has
been gently bathed with a salt-water solution. This
represented the preservation of "truth" and the
commitment to walk upright before the Lord so that the
child would grow up to be a righteous ruler.
These clothes stayed on the newborn only while
prayers of thanks, dedication and direction were given.
By this action it appears that the birth of Jesus was
seen a the birth of a King, the death of Jesus on
Passover as the sacrificial Lamb, and the return of
Jesus in all His glory as the King of Kings and Lord of
Lords -God Almighty Himself.
Virgo -"The Virgin" on September
11, 3 B.C. clothed in the sun and the
moon at her feet. This was viewable in Palestine between
6:18 pm and 7:39 pm. September 11, 3 B.C. was the 1st day
of the seventh month on the Hebrew Calendar which is the
Feast of Trumpets.
Throughout the land the priests were sounding trumpets
at that very moment. "And
there appeared a great Sign in Heaven; a woman clothed
with the sun; and the moon under her feet, and upon her
head a crown of twelve stars. And she being with child
cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered."
Revelation 12:1-2 The
star of her right hand is called "Spica" which is Latin
for "grain or sheaf of wheat or barley," which is why
she is depicted holding a sheaf in her right hand. In
her other hand is a branch, - Jesus is called the
Jesus was the true Wave Sheaf waved
before the Lord during the Feast of Unleavened Bread
which immediately follows the Passover. Jesus
is quoted in the gospel of John as saying that He is the
"true bread or manna" which comes down out of Heaven.
God Named the Stars
Psalm 147:4 says
that God named the stars. There is evidence that the
constellations were known by name during ancient Bible
God asked Job, "Can
you bind the chains of PLEIADES, or loose the cords of
ORION? Can you lead forth a constellation in its season,
and guide the BEAR with her satellites?" Job 38:31-32