Added comments by Keith Hunt
THE TIME OF THE MESSIAH AS
PROPHESIED BY DANIEL
Daniel records this prophecy, "Know therefore and
understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to
restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince
shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks (that is a
total of 69 weeks)...." (Daniel 9: 25).
A day of prophetic fulfillment is a year in actual time
(Ezek. 4: 4-6; Num. 14: 34).
The total number of years from the decree to restore
Jerusalem until the ministry of the Messiah is figured this way:
69 (weeks) X 7 (days in a week) equals 483 prophetic days; or 483
years of actual time in a literal fulfillment.
That decree was issued to Ezra the priest by King Artaxerxes
of Persia during the seventh year of his reign. This record is
found in the seventh chapter of the book of Ezra:
"And he (Ezra and company) came to Jerusalem in the fifth
month, which was in the seventh year of the king....Now this is
the copy of the letter (decree) that the King Artaxerxes gave
unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, even a scribe of the words of
the commandments of the Lord, and of his statutes to Israel"
(Ezra 7: 8, 11).
The decree officially established Jerusalem as a provincial
capital city, under its own governor, within the Persian realm.
Xerxes, Artaxerxes father, died about December 465 B.C. This
would mean that the accession year for Artaxerxes was December
465 B.C. The accession year, though not a complete year,
according to the Babylonian reckoning is not counted as the first
year of the reign.
The seventh year of Artaxerxes was the calendar year from
March 485 B.C. to March 457 B.C. (An Encyclopedia of World
History, W.L. Langer; Babylonian Chronology, Brown University
Press, p. 17; Chronology of Ezra Seven, Horn, p. 101-103).
The 483 years of the 69 weeks prophecy extended from that
time forward to A.D.26. That is the time when Jesus Christ, the
Messiah, began His ministry. Here is how that date is calculated.
69 X 7 equals 483 years. 483 minus 458 B.C. (the year the
decree was issued), equals 25 years, or A.D. 25. Now add plus 1
year compensation for no year zero; the correct final figure is
26 years, or A. D. 26.
THE SEVENTIETH WEEK
The prophecy of Daniel 9 contains another prophetic week,
making a total of 70 weeks. This last prophetic week is
important. It was also prophesied that the Messiah would,
".....confirm the covenant (the New Covenant) with many for one
week; and in the midst (middle) of the week he shall cause the
sacrifice and the oblation to cease...." (Daniel 9: 27).
A prophetic week in fulfillment is seven years of actual
time. The Messiah, Jesus Christ, was prophesied to be cut off in
the middle of the week. This would be after three and one half
years. Since A.D. 26 began in the autumn, adding 3 years would
bring us to the fall of A.D. 29, which would place His death in
A.D.30, in the spring of the year.
(A number of Bible scholars from the past and the present
agree that Jesus died in the year 30 A.D. This would also fit
nicely with Biblical typology, as from 30 A.D. to 70 A.D. when
Jerusalem was destroyed is exactly 40 years - 40 being the number
God uses in the Bible for trials, testing - the Jewish nation was
given 40 years of testing, to accept the Christian Gospel, before
the people and their holy city were destroyed and punished
- Keith Hunt).
Luke records for us that Jesus was about thirty years old
when He was baptized, which was at the beginning of his ministry,
"And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age...."
(Luke 3: 23).
Once it is known that He was thirty years old in the autumn
of A.D. 26, it is easy to cross-check and verify the year of
Herod the king. Jesus was about thirty when He was baptized A.D.
26. He must have been born in the year 5 B.C.
Now that the year of His birth has been calculated, by using
the prophecies and information contained in the Bible, and the
recorded history, is it possible also to calculate the season of
the month of His birth?
LUKE RECORDS THE KEYS DATING THE
MONTH OF JESUS' BIRTH!
Sometimes in reading the Bible we are all too often in a
hurry to get into "important material." In doing so, it is easy
to miss small details which of themselves do not appear
important. However, the key which unlock this mystery of the time
and season of the year of Jesus' birth have been recorded in a
seemingly unimportant manner in the first two chapters of the
Gospel of Luke!
KEY #1 - THE PRIEST ZACHARIAS
(JOHN THE BAPTIST'S FATHER)
Luke provides the detailed knowledge of the actual
circumstances and events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ.
As we will see, his method of reckoning was precise. It must be
remembered that Luke's method of relating events were slightly
different from those which would be used today. Consequently, we
must put ourselves back into the contemporary setting of those
Zacharias was a priest of God at the Temple in Jerusalem. At
the beginning of his account, Luke records, "In the days of
Herod, the king of Judea, there was a certain priest, Zacharias
by name, of the course of Abijah.....and it happened that in
fulfilling his priestly office before God in the order of his
course of Abijah, according to the custom of the priestly office,
it fell by lot to him to burn incense when he entered into the
Temple of the Lord" (Luke 1:5,8-9 author's translation). Notice
that Zacharias was executing the function of the priest,
according to the order of the course of Abijah.
This information is important! Zacharias was of the course
of Abijah. The OT records the exact rotation and time order when
his priestly course was to perform its duties.
In ancient Israel, King David divided the duties of the
priests into twenty-four working courses, or shifts (1 Chron. 24:
7-19). The course of Abijah was the eighth course of the shift in
the series based on yearly assignments for all the priests. Each
course or shift was to work one full week, from noon Sabbath to
noon Sabbath (Talmud, Sukkah).
Josephus, the noted Jewish historian....who lived and wrote
during the days just after Jesus was crucified. Josephus records,
"He (King David) divided them also into courses....and he found
(or established) of these priests, twenty-four courses....and he
ordained that one course should minister to God eight days, from
sabbath to sabbath....and this partition hath remained to this
day" (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 7, Chapter 14,
This record proves that the courses of priests were still in
effect at the time of Zacharias. These courses undoubtedly
continued until the Temple was destroyed in A.D.70.
The Talmud reveals that the first course, or shift, began in
the first week of the first month of the Hebrew Calendar. The
second course worked the second week.
This rotation continued on a week by week basis through all
twenty-four courses. Each course had the basic responsibility
twice a year to perform a one week shift. In addition all courses
were required to work three extra weeks during the year. These
three weeks were for the three holy day seasons: Passover, and
Tabernacles. Thus all the priests shared equally in the priestly
responsibilities for the entire year.
It is a well known fact that John the Baptist came before
the Lord to prepare His way. It has been shown that Jesus was
born sometime in 5 B.C. This means that John the Baptist must
have been conceived sometime in 6 B.C. When all this information
is put together with the shift, the time of Zacharias' priestly
work shift, the time of John the Baptist's birth can be
(Let me add here, that it can be determined within only
about a month, for the priestly courses began when the first
month was announced, the new moon of Nisan or Abib. The Jews in
the first century A.D. were not using the Jewish Perpetual
Calendar that we have today. And they could add a 13th month for
various reasons if it was necessary, such as the roads and
bridges being washed out because of heavy spring time rain, hence
needing time to repair them so Jewish pilgrims from distant parts
could make it to Jerusalem for the Passover. To try and work
backwards to the first century with the Jewish Perpetaul calendar
of today is a serious mistake, for as I've said, the "perpetual
calendar" was not in use by the Jews of the first century. The
calendar they used was a Sanhedrin, observation with calculation,
calendar, hence it is impossible for us today to know exactly
when in 6 B.C. or 5 B.C. they announced the new month day
of Nisan, or the first month of the religious festival year.
We can know of course that the first month was in the spring
time, as the Passover was always to be observed in the spring,
and the Jews have always obeyed that instructive command of the
Lord. But if it was in our March or April, we cannot know
The writers of this study in 1982, when this study booklet
was first published, made the serious error of using the present
Jewish Perpetual calendar to work backwards to the first century
to figure the very day and month in the Roman calendar when
Zacharias was officiating in the Temple. This is simple not
possible to determine in any exact way, either day or week, or
even in the month of the Roman calendar, for reasons I have just
mentioned - Keith Hunt).
......Zacharias worked in his course of Abijah, the eighth
course, which was assigned the ninth and tenth week from the
beginning of the year.....
(This would, within a month, be either in May or June,
depending when in 6 B.C. the first month was announced by the
Jewish Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, and depending if they added a 13th
month or if they did not, to that particular year, for the many
reasons they could and were allowed by God to add that 13th
month. See "The Code of Maimonides - book three - Treatise Eight
- Sanctification of the New Moon."
It could well have been possible that the angel came to
Zacharias to tell him that he and his wife would have a child, to
be called John, during the week of Pentecost, or at least in that
time frame, which would as I've said, be May or June. That is
about as close as we can estimate, to be faithful to the facts of
Jewish calendar use at that time of 6 B.C. and the first century
A.D. - Keith Hunt).
.....Following the story flow in Luke's account we find
this: Zacharias was to remain mute and unable to speak until the
child, John the Baptist, was born and later circumcised
the eighth day......, "And it happened when the days of his
priestly ministration were finished, he went back to his own
home. Now after these days, his wife Elizabeth conceived, and hid
herself five months" (Luke 1: 23-24 author's translation)......
(We again can only estimate the time frame. If Zacharias'
wife became pregnant within the first two week of Zacharias
returning home to her, and we are within the month frame of May
or June, we can only estimate that John the Baptist was conceived
sometime in May or June, depending on when the first month began
in 6 B.C. and so then when the eighth course of Abijah officiated
in the Temple. Once more we are still looking at the months of
May or June for the conception of John the Baptist - Keith Hunt).
CONNECTION BETWEEN THE CONCEPTION OF
JOHN THE BAPTIST AND THE CONCEPTION
AND BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST
Luke was also inspired to record the essential chronological
information which is the second key to understand the time and
season when Jesus was born. The virgin Mary miraculously became
pregnant with Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit in
the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy (Luke 1: 26-38), "Now
then, Elizabeth your relative, she has also conceived a son, in
spite of her old age, and this is the sixth month
for her who had been called barren" (Luke 1: 36).......
(The sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy was either
November or December, depending on when the first month of Nisan
began, as I have stated above. The angel was sent to tell Mary
that she would conceive the Son of God during and at the time of
Elizabeth's sixth month of pregnancy. Mary arose at that time and
made haste to the city of Judea and into the house of Zacharias
and Elizabeth. The babe John in Elizabeth's womb leaped for joy
when Mary entered the house. Elizabeth then said, "Blessed are
you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Mary was
at this time pregnant with Jesus the Son of God.
The whole context of this section of Luke chapter one shows
Mary 's conception with the Christ child was in the sixth month
of Elizabeth's pregnancy. Jesus was thus born in the AUTUMN OR
FALL, in either the months of September or October - Keith Hunt).
OTHER EVIDENCE IN THE BOOK
Luke has preserved other evidence substantiating the Autumn
birth of Christ. The taxation and census decree by Caesar
Augustus was carried out after the Jewish method. It was Jewish
custom to conduct such taxations after the fall harvest (see
Unger's Dictionary, pp. 199-200). Furthermore, there were no
guest rooms available at the inn when Joseph and Mary arrived in
Bethlehem. This shows that many people were already in the
Jerusalem area for the taxation and for the fall festival season.
Bethlehem was a festival city because of its proximity to
Jerusalem (The city of Jerusalem was at the festival time
enlarged to take in the nearby towns such as Bethlehem. This was
especially so at Passover time, as recorded by Josephus, because
the Passover lambs could only be stain and eaten in the place or
city where God had placed His name, according to the laws of
Moses, and Jerusalem was that city in the first century A.D. and
for a number of centuries before in B.C. times - Keith Hunt).
Since there was no room in the inn, they were forced to
lodge in a bran. Jesus was born there and was laid in a manger.
(Yes, in all likelihoods, this census and/or taxation was at
the time of the fall festivals of the feast of Trumpets, feast
day of Atonement and the 7 day feast of Tabernacles with the
eighth day following that feast. Again, depending when the first
month began in 5 B. C. would mean this fall festival season would
be either September or October. For instance, this Roman year of
2003 when I am compiling this study, the feast of Trumpets or as
the Jews call it, Rosh Hashanah is September 27th. The feast
of Atonement or Yom Kippur, as it is called by the Jews, is
October 6th. The feast of Tabernacles and the eighth day is
October 11th to the 18th. In the year 2002 all of the
fall festivals fell within the month of September.
As we do not know if a 13th month was added to the calendar
in 6 B.C. or in 5 B.C. we can only estimate the conception of
John the Baptist and hence, in the sixth month of Elizabeth's
conception, the conception of Mary with Jesus, to a two month
period. But what can be known with certainty is that Jesus would
have been born in the FALL or AUTUMN of the year - Keith Hunt).
Luke also records that shepherds were tending their flocks
in the fields at night. This was not possible in the winter
because of the severe cold. There is much discussion
in Bible Commentaries on each of these additional points.
(Yes, Bible Commentaries such as "Barnes' Notes on the New
Testament" state quite up front and in a matter of fact way, that
Jesus was NOT born on December 25th, or anywhere close to the
month of December - Keith Hunt).
Compiled in 2003. Re-entered on this Website June 2005. The first
publication of this study by Jim Sorenson and Fred Coulter was
published in 1982, when the two aforementioned men and myself
were all part of the then "Biblical Church of God" - Keith Hunt.