Your Daily Readings – Verse of the Day – John 3:16 – January 1, 2020

John 3

Christ teaches Nicodemus the necessity of regeneration
And there was a man of the Pharisees, Naḵdimon was his name, a ruler of the Yehuḏim.  This one came to יהושע (Yeshua/Jesus) by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from Elohim, for no one is able to do these signs You do if Elohim is not with him.”
יהושע (Yeshua/Jesus) answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born from above, he is unable to seea the reign of Elohim.”
Naḵdimon said to Him, “How is a man able to be born when he is old? Is he able to enter into his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”
יהושע (Yeshua/Jesus)answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he is unable to enter into the reign of Elohim. “That which has been born of the flesh is flesh, and that which has been born of the Spirit is spirit.  “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You have to be born from above.’  “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who has been born of the Spirit.”
Naḵdimon answered and said to Him, “How is it possible for this to take place?”
יהושע (Yeshua/Jesus)answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Yisra’ĕl, and do not know this? “Truly, truly, I say to you, We speak what We know and witness what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. “If you do not believe when I spoke to you about earthly matters, how are you going to believe when I speak to you about the heavenly matters?
“And no one has gone up into the heaven except He who came down from the heaven – the Son of Aḏam.
of faith in his death
“And as Mosheh lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so the Son of Aḏam has to be lifted up, so that whoever is believing in Him should not perish but possess everlasting life.
the great love of God towards the world
“For Elohim so loved the world that He gave His only brought-forth Son, so that everyone who believes in Him should not perish but possess everlasting life.  “For Elohim did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
and the condemnation for unbelief
“He who believes in Him is not judged, but he who does not believe is judged already, because he has not believed in the Name of the only brought-forth Son of Elohim. “And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were wicked. “For everyone who is practising evil matters hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. “But the one doing the truth comes to the light, so that his works are clearly seen, that they have been wrought in Elohim.”
Jesus baptizes in Judea
After this, יהושע (Yeshua/Jesus)and His taught ones came into the land of Yehuḏah, and He remained there with them, and was immersing.
The baptism, witness, and doctrine of John concerning Christ
And Yoḥanan was also immersing in Ayin near Salim, because there was plenty of water there. And they were coming and were being immersed, for Yoḥanan had not yet been put into prison.
Then a dispute arose between some of Yoḥanan’s taught ones and the Yehuḏim about cleansing, and they came to Yoḥanan and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Yardĕn, to whom you have witnessed, see, He is immersing, and all are coming to Him!”
Yoḥanan answered and said, “No man is able to receive any matter unless it is given to him from the heaven. “You yourselves are witnesses for me that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but I am sent ahead of Him.’ “He that has the bride is the bridegroom, but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the voice of the bridegroom. So this joy of mine is complete. “It is right for Him to increase, but me to decrease.  “He who comes from above is over all, he who is from the earth is of the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from the heaven is over all. “And what He has seen and heard, that He witnesses. And no one receives His witness. “He who receives His witness has set his seal that Elohim is true. “For He whom Elohim has sent speaks the Words of Elohim, for Elohim does not give the Spirit by measure. “The Father loves the Son, and has given all into His hand. “He who believes in the Son possesses everlasting life, but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of Elohim remains on him.”

(The Scriptures by Institute For Scripture Research – 2009 Edition)


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Yeshua Was Not Born in December

When was Yeshua Born?

Best Guess: September 29, 5 B.C.E.

Want the details? Read more below.

Biblical scholars readily tell us that it was most likely NOT on December 25th, C.E. 0. Why?

When were shepherds in the fields

Israeli meteorologists tracked December weather patterns for many years and concluded that the climate in Israel has been essentially constant for at least the last 2,000 years. The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible states that, “broadly speaking, weather phenomena and climatic conditions as pictured in the Bible correspond with conditions as observed today” (R.B.Y. Scott, Vol. 3, Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1962, p. 625).

The temperature in the area of Bethlehem in December averages around 44 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius) but can drop to well below freezing, especially at night. Describing the weather there, Sara Ruhin, chief of the Israeli weather service, noted in a 1990 press release that the area has three months of frost: December with 29 F. [minus 1.6 C.]; January with 30 F. [minus 1.1 C.] and February with 32 F. [0 C.].

Snow is common for two or three days in Jerusalem and nearby Bethlehem in December and January. These were the winter months of increased precipitation in Messiah’s time, when the roads became practically unusable and people stayed mostly indoors.

This is important evidence to disprove a December date for Messiah’s birth. Note that, at the time of Messiah’s birth, the shepherds tended their flocks in the fields at night. “Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields,” wrote one Gospel writer, “keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8). A common practice of shepherds was keeping their flocks in the field from April to October, but in the cold and rainy winter months they took their flocks back home and sheltered them.

One commentary admits that, “as these shepherds had not yet brought home their flocks, it is a presumptive argument that October had not yet commenced, and that, consequently, our Lord was not born on the 25th of December, when no flocks were out in the fields; nor could He have been born later than September, as the flocks were still in the fields by night. On this very ground the nativity in December should be given up. The feeding of the flocks by night in the fields is a chronological fact, which casts considerable light upon this disputed point” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary, Abingdon Press, Nashville, note on Luke 2:8).

Another study source agrees: “These humble pastoral folk are out in the field at night with their flock—a feature of the story which would argue against the birth [of Messiah] occurring on Dec. 25 since the weather would not have permitted it” (The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary, Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1971, note on Luke 2:4-7).

The Companion Bible, Appendix 179 says:

Shepherds and their flocks would not be found “abiding” (Gr. agrauleo) in the open fields at night in December (Tebeth), for the paramount reason that there would be no pasturage at that time. It was the custom then (as now) to withdraw the flocks during the month Marchesven (Oct.-Nov.) from the open districts and house them for the winter.

The census described by Luke

Other evidence arguing against a December birth of Yeshua is the Roman census recorded by Luke.

“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered… So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem…, to be registered with Miriam, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son…” (Luke 2:1-7).

The Roman and Judean rulers knew that taking a census in winter would have been impractical and unpopular. Generally a census would take place after the harvest season, around September or October, when it would not seriously affect the economy, the weather was good and the roads were still dry enough to allow easy travel. According to the normal dates for the census, this would probably be the season of Messiah’s birth.

One author states that this census “could hardly have been at that season [December 25], however, for such a time would surely not have been chosen by the authorities for a public enrollment, which necessitated the population’s traveling from all parts to their natal districts, storms and rain making journeys both unsafe and unpleasant in winter, except in specially favorable years” (“Christmas at Bethlehem,” Holy-Days and Holidays, Cunningham Geikie).

Luke’s account of the census argues strongly against a December date for Messiah’s birth. For such an agrarian society, an autumn post-harvest census was much more likely.

The year of Messiah’s birth

Yeshua wasn’t born in C.E. 0 either. In  525 Pope John I commissioned the scholar Dionysius Exiguus to establish a feast calendar for the Church.. Dionysius also estimated the year of Messiah’s birth based upon the founding of the city of Rome. Unfortunately because of insufficient historical data he arrived at a date at least a few years later than the actual event.

The Gospels record Yeshua’s birth as occurring during the reign of Herod the Great. Herod’s death is recorded by Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus, Book 17, Chpt. 8) and occurred in the spring of 4 B.C.E. (New Testament History, F.F. Bruce, Anchor Books, p.23). Therefore, Messiah’s birth had to take place at least four years before the traditional date!

Yeshua was not born on December 25, C.E. 0. [Actually there is no such year as C.E. 0. Our calendar jumps from 1 B.C.E. to C.E. 1 with no intervening year of zero.]

The celebration of Messiah’s birth in the the early church

In the first 200 years of Christian history, no mention is made of the calendar date of Yeshua’s birth. Not until the year 336 do we find the first mention of a celebration of His birth.

Why this omission? In the case of the Church fathers, the reason is that, during the three centuries after Messiah’s life on earth, the event considered most worthy of commemoration was the date of His death. In comparison, the date of His birth was considered insignificant. As the Encyclopedia Americana explains,

“Christmas… was, according to many authorities, not celebrated in the first centuries of the Christian church, as the Christian usage in general was to celebrate the death of remarkable persons rather than their birth…” (1944 edition, “Christmas”).

Speculation on the proper date began in the 3rd and 4th centuries, when the idea of fixing Messiah’s birthday started. Quite a controversy arose among Church leaders. Some were opposed to such a celebration. Origen (185-254) strongly recommended against such an innovation. “In the Scriptures, no one is recorded to have kept a feast or held a great banquet on his birthday. It is only sinners who make great rejoicings over the day in which they were born into this world” (Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908 edition, Vol. 3, p. 724, “Natal Day”).

During this time eight specific dates during six different months were proposed by various groups. December 25, although one of the last dates to be proposed, was the one finally accepted by the leadership of the Western church.

A summary of the debate on the dates of Messiah’s birth appears in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church: “Though speculation as to the time of year of Messiah’s birth dates from the early 3rd century, Clement of Alexandria suggesting the 20th of May, the celebration of the anniversary does not appear to have been general till the later 4th century. The earliest mention of the observance on Dec. 25th is in the Philocalian Calendar, representing Roman practice of the year 336. This date was probably chosen to oppose the feast of the Natalis Solis Invicti [nativity of the unconquerable sun] by the celebration of the birth of the ‘Sun of Righteousness’ and its observance in the West, seems to have spread from Rome” (1983 edition, Oxford University Press, New York, 1983, p. 280, “Christmas”).

Around 200, when Clement of Alexandria mentioned the speculations about Messiah’s birthday, he said nothing about a celebration on that day. He casually reported the various ideas extant at that time: “And there are those who have determined not only the year of our Lord’s birth, but also the day…, the 25th day of Pachon… Furthermore, others say that He was born on the 24th or 25th of Pharmuthi” (“The Stromata, or Miscellanies,” The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1986, p. 333).

Later, in 243, the official feast calendar of the time, De Pascha Computus, places the date of Messiah’s birth as March 28. Other dates suggested were April 2 and November 18. Meanwhile, in the East, January 6 was chosen, a date the Greeks had celebrated as the birth of the god Dionysus and the Egyptians as the birth of the god Osiris. Although pagans commonly celebrated the birthdays of their gods, in the Bible a birthday is never celebrated to the true God (who, of course, had no birth or day of origin).

December 25 popularized

In Rome December 25 was made popular by Pope Liberius in 354 and became the rule in the West in 435 when the first “Christ mass” was officiated by Pope Sixtus III. This coincided with the date of a celebration by the Romans to their primary god, the Sun, and to Mithras, a popular Persian sun god supposedly born on the same day. The Roman Catholic writer Mario Righetti candidly admits that, “to facilitate the acceptance of the faith by the pagan masses, the Church of Rome found it convenient to institute the 25th of December as the feast of the birth of Messiah to divert them from the pagan feast, celebrated on the same day in honor of the ‘Invincible Sun’ Mithras, the conqueror of darkness” (Manual of Liturgical History, 1955, Vol. 2, p. 67).

Protestant historian Henry Chadwick sums up the controversy: “Moreover, early in the fourth century there begins in the West (where first and by whom is not known) the celebration of December 25th, the birthday of the Sun-god at the winter solstice, as the date for the nativity of Messiah. How easy it was for Christianity and solar religion to become entangled at the popular level is strikingly illustrated by a mid-fifth century sermon of Pope Leo the Great, rebuking his over-cautious flock for paying reverence to the Sun on the steps of St. Peter’s before turning their back on it to worship inside the westward-facing basilica” (The Early Church, Penguin Books, London, 1967, p. 126).

The Encyclopedia Americana makes this clear: “In the fifth century, the Western Church ordered it [Messiah’s birth] to be observed forever on the day of the old Roman feast of the birth of Sol [the sun god], as no certain knowledge of the day of Messiah’s birth existed” (1944 edition, “Christmas”).

Is there any evidence from the Bible that will help us fix the date and year of Messiah’s birth?

Actually from the Bible, we can at least determine the probable season and year of His birth. The most convincing proof of when Yeshua was born comes in understanding the evidence that is presented in the book of Luke concerning the birth of John the Baptist.

Luke 1:5-17 says:

In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years. Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense.  Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth,  for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Zechariah was of the division of Abijah (Luke 1:5,8). Back in King David’s day, the priests had been separated into 24 turns or divisions. These turns began in the first month of the Jewish calendar (1 Chronicles 27:2), March or April of our modern calendar. According to Talmudic sources, the turns rotated every week until they reached the end of the sixth month, when the cycle was repeated again until the end of the year. This would mean that Zechariah’s division served at the temple twice a year.

We find in 1 Chronicles 24:10 that Abijah was the eighth division of the priesthood. Thus, Zechariah’s service would be in the tenth week of the Jewish year. Why the tenth week? Because all divisions served during primary feast weeks of the Jewish year. So all of the divisions of the priesthood would serve during Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread (the third week of the year). Likewise, all of the divisions of the priesthood would serve during the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost (the ninth week). Thus, the eighth course of the priesthood would end up serving on the tenth week of the year.

Now we must make an assumption here. Remember we said that Zechariah’s division served at the temple twice a year. The Bible does not specify which of the two shifts of service it was. Regardless, nine months after one of the two dates John the Baptist was born. This would place his birth in March or September.

We will assume that Luke is recording Zechariah’s first shift of service for the year. We will find that assumption tends to prove true as we discover the dates of John the Baptist’s and Yeshua’s’ birth. Therefore, the date of Zechariah’s service would be the Jewish date of Sivan 12-18 (See the Companion Bible, Appendix 179, Section III).

Picking up the story in Luke 1:23-25:

When his time of service was ended, he went to his home. After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion. She said, “This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favorably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.”

After his service in the temple, Zechariah went home to his wife. Due to the laws of separation (Leviticus 12:5; 15:19,25), two additional weeks have to be counted. Now I don’t know about you, but if an angel had told me that I was going to have a special child, I would get to it just as soon as the law allowed. So we will make a second assumption, that Elizabeth conceived a child two weeks after Zechariah’s return.

Passover (Nisan 15)!  The Jews always looked for Elijah to return on the day of Passover. Even in modern times there is an empty chair and a table setting for Elijah whenever Passover is celebrated. Little children also go to the door of the home and open it in anticipation of Elijah’s coming. The Old Testament prophets had said that God would send Elijah before the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 3:1; 4:5-6). According to these calculations John the Baptist was born at Passover. Remember the angel’s words to Zechariah? The angel said that John the Baptist was to come “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17). Elijah came at Passover!

Continuing in Luke 1:26-36:

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Miriam. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Miriam, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Yeshua. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Miriam said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”

Luke tells us that Elizabeth was six months pregnant when the angel Gabriel visited Miriam. The beginning of Elizabeth’s sixth month would have been the celebration of the Jewish feast of Hanukkah, which occurs in December of our modern calendar. Hanukkah (Chanukkah) is known as the “Feast of the Dedication” (John 10:22) because it is connected with the dedication of the second Jewish temple and the rededication of the temple after the Maccabean revolt. Miriam was being dedicated for a purpose of enormous magnitude: God’s presence in an earthly temple, i.e. a human body (John 2:18-21).

If Miriam did conceive on Hanukkah, John the Baptist would have been born three months later at Passover. And assuming a normal pregnancy of 285 days, Yeshua would have been born on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Tishri (September 29 by modern reckoning). This is significant because it is the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). It is a high day, a special Sabbath, a time of great rejoicing.

The Feast of Tabernacles and Yeshua

As you have seen, the birth of our Lord can be reasonably shown to have occurred in the autumn of the year on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast of Tabernacles is a joyful feast. Jewish believers would build a tabernacle or booth known as a “sukkah” out of green tree branches. They would eat their meals and sleep in this sukkah for eight days.

There are some very interesting connections in Scripture with Yeshua and aspects of the Feast of Tabernacles.

John 1:14 says:

And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. [literal translation of the Greek]

Look at what Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi has to say concerning this verse:

To introduce the nature and mission of Messiah, John in his Gospel employs the metaphor of the “booth” of the Feast of Tabernacles. He explains that Messiah, the Word who was with God in the beginning (John 1:1), manifested Himself in this world in a most tangible way, by pitching His tent in our midst: “And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, as of the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14).

The Greek verb skenoo used by John means “to pitch tent, encamp, tabernacle, dwell in a tent.” The allusion is clearly to the Feast of Tabernacles when the people dwelt in temporary booths. In his article “The Feast of Tents: Yeshua’ Self-Revelation,” published in Worship (1960), David Stanley notes that this passage sets the stage for the later self-revelation of Yeshua at the Feast of Tabernacles in John 7 and 8. Stanley writes: “The most basic clue to the mystery pervading this entire narrative [John 7 and 8] is provided by the symbolic action that gives this feast its name: the ceremonial erection of little bowers, made with branches of trees, in which every Jew was expected to live during the festival. These shelters were commemorative of the forty years’ wandering in the desert when Israel had lived as a nomad in such intimate union with her God. For John this dwelling in tents is a primordial symbol of the Incarnation: ‘Thus the Word became a mortal man: he pitched his tent in the midst of us’ (John 1:14). It is this insight which presides over the composition of John’s narrative which we are considering [John 7-8]. All that happened, all that Yeshua said on this occasion has some reference to the Incarnation.”

In seeking to describe the Messiah’s first coming to His people, John chose the imagery of the Feast of Booths since the feast celebrates the dwelling of God among His people. This raises an interesting question on whether or not John intended to link the birth of Yeshua with the Feast of Tabernacles.

[from: God’s Festivals in Scripture and History Part II: The Fall Festivals, page 241.]

According to the Companion Bible, Appendix 179:

The word tabernacled here receives beautiful significance from the knowledge that “the Lord of Glory” was “found in fashion as a man”, and thus tabernacling in human flesh. And in turn it shows in equally beautiful significance that our Lord was born on the first day of the great Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, viz. the 15th of Tisri, corresponding to September 29 (modern reckoning).

The Circumcision of our Lord took place therefore on the eighth day, the last day of the Feast, the “Great Day of the Feast” of John 7.37 (“Tabernacles” had eight days. The Feast of Unleavened Bread had seven days, and Pentecost one. See Lev. 23).

From The Seven Festivals of the Messiah by Eddie Chumney we read this:

As we have stated earlier in this chapter, the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) is called “the season of our joy” and “the feast of the nations.” With this in mind, in Luke 2:10 it is written, “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings [basar in Hebrew; otherwise known as the gospel] of great joy [Sukkot is called the ‘season of our joy’], which shall be to all people [Sukkot is called ‘the feast of the nations’].” So, we can see from this that the terminology the angel used to announce the birth of Yeshua were themes and messages associated with the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles)

Light was also a prominent feature of the Feast of Tabernacles. At the end of the first day of the Feast, the Temple was gloriously illuminated. According to the Mishnah (Succah 5:2), gigantic candelabras stood within the Court of the Women in the temple. Each of the four golden candelabras is said to have been about 75 feet tall. Each candelabra had four branches, and at the top of every branch there was a large bowl. Four young men bearing 10 gallon pitchers of oil would climb ladders to fill the four golden bowls on each candelabra. And then the oil in those bowls was ignited. Picture sixteen beautiful blazes leaping toward the sky from these golden lamps. There was not a courtyard in Jerusalem that was not illuminated by this light (Succah 5:3).

According to Alfred Edersheim (Life and Times of Yeshua the Messiah, chpt. 8):

…the Court of the Women was brilliantly illuminated….In connection with this we mark, that the term ‘light’ was specially applied to the Messiah. In a very interesting passage of the Midrash we are told, that, while commonly windows were made wide within and narrow without, it was the opposite in the Temple of Solomon, because the light issuing from the Sanctuary was to lighten that which was without.

This reminds us of the language of devout old Simeon in regard to the Messiah, as ‘a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of His people Israel.’

John 1:6-9 says:

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

In these verses John refers to Yeshua as “the light”; and as we have also seen, verse 14 says that he “became flesh and tabernacled [literal meaning of the Greek] among us”. Since John chapter one is a passage about Yeshua’s coming, these verses could be references to the Feast of Tabernacles at which time Yeshua was born.

Magi from the east

The Scriptures tell us that there were wise men (scholars) who came from the east looking for the birth of the Messiah, saying “we have seen his star in the east”. Who were these scholars from the east? Why were they looking for a Jewish Messiah?

Matthew 2:1-6 says:

In the time of King Herod, after Yeshua was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage. When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'” [cited from Micah 5:2]

Babylon was known as “the land to the east.” At the time of the birth of Yeshua, the largest Jewish population was actually in Babylon, not in Palestine! Nearly five hundred years earlier, the entire nation of Judah had been carried away captive into Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. Only a small colony of Jews returned to Palestine after sixty-three years of captivity. The greater number of them remained where they had established homes in the land of Babylon.

The Greek for “wise men” is magoi. Daniel was referred to by this same title (Daniel 4:9). The word is somewhat equivalent to the Jewish term “rabbi.” It is possible that the wise men from the east were Jewish rabbis who had been anticipating the coming of the Messiah because of Daniel’s seventy weeks prophecy [Daniel 9:24]. They had spotted a new star in the sky and took it to be a sign of the coming of the Messiah.

At the very least, even if the wise men were not Jewish, they would have been influenced by Daniel’s writings. At an earlier time, Daniel had been the Master of the Magians of Babylon (Daniel 2:48; 4:9; 5:11), so anything Daniel wrote would have been important to even Gentile magoi. Parts of the book of Daniel are even written in Aramaic (the international language of the eastern Gentiles), so that it could be read by them.

The star and the Feast of Tabernacles

There is one time of the year when Jews would typically look at the stars. That time was during the Festival of Tabernacles. As we already said, Jewish believers would build a tabernacle or booth known as a “sukkah” out of green tree branches. They would eat their meals and sleep in this sukkah for eight days. It was customary to leave a hole in the roof of the sukkah so that one could look at the stars. If the magoi were Jewish, then Jewish “wise men” celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles would have noticed the appearance of a new star.

Of course, if the magoi were Gentiles, it is still likely that a new star would have been noticed by them rather quickly. The Babylonian magoi excelled at astrology. As a matter of fact, the Babylonians are generally credited with the birth of astrology.

The year of Yeshua’s birth

Yeshua was born while Herod the Great was still living (Matthew 2:1). Wise men appeared in Jerusalem asking about “one who has been born king of the Jews?” Of course, this upset Herod, who had been given the title “King of the Jews” by the Roman Senate. Herod talked to the wise men secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared (Matthew 2:7). The wise men then journeyed to Bethlehem and found Yeshua, Miriam, and Joseph in a house (Matthew 2:11) and they bowed down and worshiped Yeshua.

When the wise men did not return to give Herod a report, “Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the wise men.  He was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the wise men” (Matthew 2:16).

This tells us that Yeshua may have been born two years before the appearance of the wise men and the death of Herod. Herod died the spring of 4 B.C.E. (according to the Jewish historian, Josephus). Let’s assume that the star appeared at Yeshua’ birth. Let’s also assume that Herod was already close to death when the wise men appeared. It was the custom in ancient Israel to count the years of one’s age from the date of conception – in other words, when a child is born he is one year old until his first birthday (this is still a practice in some oriental cultures). Therefore, Herod actually killed the children one year old and under according to the way that age is calculated today. This would mean that Yeshua had to have been born in 6 B.C.E. (if Yeshua was one year old) or 5 B.C.E. (if Yeshua was under one year and Herod was just being extra careful).

This date for Yeshua’s’ birth fits with other Biblical data such as Yeshuabeing “about thirty years old” when He began his ministry (Luke 3:23). From evidence given to us in John 2:20 about the construction of the temple, we know Yeshua’s’ ministry began in C.E. 26. Counting forward from 6 B.C.E. to C.E. 26 (one year has to be subtracted because there is no year zero) would make Yeshua 31 years old when he began his ministry — that is, about thirty years old. Counting forward from 5 B.C.E. to C.E. 26 would make Yeshua 30 years old when he began his ministry. The birth years of 5 or 6 B.C.E. also fit with the best date for the crucifixion, that is C.E. 30. Personally I opt for the 5 B.C.E. date, because I assume the wise men would want to come at once and the time for a journey from Babylon to Jerusalem takes only four months.

When was Yeshua born? Nothing is absolutely certain, because we are dealing with implications and assumptions, but a good guess from the Scriptures and history is September 29, 5 B.C.E.

Sources of Information for this Article:

  1. The Biblical Festivals: God’s Appointed Times from Hebraic Roots of Christianity by Eddie Chumney.
  2. The Gospel of Luke by William Hendriksen, Baker Book House.
  3. When was Yeshua born? by Christian Renewal Ministries International.
  4. New Testament History by F.F. Bruce, Anchor Books.
  5. When Was Yeshua Christ Born? by Mario Seiglie, The Good News, United Church of God, 1997.
  6. Life and Times of Yeshua the Messiah by Alfred Edersheim, 1890.
  7. The Companion Bible, Published by Kregel Publications.
  8. God’s Festivals in Scripture and History, Part 2 by Samuele Bacchiocchi, PhD. Available from: Biblical Perspectives
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Your Daily Readings – Verse of the Day – Philippians 3:9 – 11 – December 15, 2019

Philippians 3

All for Christ

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.

Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, who worship a]”>[a]God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attainb]”>[b] to the resurrection from the dead.

Pressing Toward the Goal

12 Not that I have already attained,c]”>[c] or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have d]”>[d]apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already e]”>[e]attained, let us walk by the same f]”>[f]rule, let us be of the same mind.

Our Citizenship in Heaven

17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

Footnotes:

  1. Philippians 3:3 NU, M in the Spirit of God
  2. Philippians 3:11 Lit. arrive at
  3. Philippians 3:12 obtained it
  4. Philippians 3:13 laid hold of it
  5. Philippians 3:16 arrived
  6. Philippians 3:16 NU omits rule and the rest of v. 16.

New King James Version (NKJV)Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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Your Daily Readings – Verse of the Day – 2 Peter 1:3 – December 9, 2019

2 Peter 1

From: Shim‘on Kefa, a slave and emissary of Yeshua the Messiah

To: Those who, through the righteousness of our God and of our Deliverer Yeshua the Messiah, have been given the same kind of trust as ours:

May grace and shalom be yours in full measure, as you come to a full knowledge of God and Yeshua our Lord.

God’s power has given us everything we need for life and godliness, through our knowing the One who called us to his own glory and goodness. By these he has given us valuable and superlatively great promises, so that through them you might come to share in God’s nature and escape the corruption which evil desires have brought into the world.

For this very reason, try your hardest to furnish your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with perseverance, perseverance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if you have these qualities in abundance, they keep you from being barren and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. Indeed, whoever lacks them is blind, so shortsighted that he forgets that his past sins have been washed away. 10 Therefore, brothers, try even harder to make your being called and chosen a certainty. For if you keep doing this, you will never stumble. 11 Thus you will be generously supplied with everything you need to enter the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah.

12 For this reason, I will always remind you about these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you already have. 13 And I consider it right to keep stirring you up with reminders, as long as I am in the tent of this body. 14 I know that I will soon lay aside this tent of mine, as our Lord Yeshua the Messiah has made clear to me. 15 And I will do my best to see that after my exodus, you will be able to remember these things at all times.

16 For when we made known to you the power and the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, we did not rely on cunningly contrived myths. On the contrary, we saw his majesty with our own eyes. 17 For we were there when he received honor and glory from God the Father; and the voice came to him from the grandeur of the Sh’khinah, saying, “This is my son, whom I love; I am well pleased with him!” 18 We heard this voice come out of heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.

19 Yes, we have the prophetic Word made very certain. You will do well to pay attention to it as to a light shining in a dark, murky place, until the Day dawns and the Morning Star rises in your hearts. 20 First of all, understand this: no prophecy of Scripture is to be interpreted by an individual on his own; 21 for never has a prophecy come as a result of human willing — on the contrary, people moved by the Ruach HaKodesh spoke a message from God.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved


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Your Daily Readings – Verse of the Day – Romans 12:10 – December 1, 2019

Romans 12

The New Life in Christ

I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service of worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sound judgment, according to the measure of faith God has distributed to every man. For just as we have many parts in one body, and not all parts have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and all are parts of one another. We have diverse gifts according to the grace that is given to us: if prophecy, according to the proportion of faith; if service, in serving; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with generosity; he who rules, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Rules of the Christian Life

Let love be without hypocrisy. Hate what is evil. Cleave to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another with brotherly love; prefer one another in honor, 11 do not be lazy in diligence, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord, 12 rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer, 13 contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless, and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Do not pretend to be wiser than you are.

17 Repay no one evil for evil. Commend what is honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to God’s wrath, for it is written: “Vengeance is Mine. I will repay,”a]”>[a] says the Lord. 20 Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him a drink;
for in doing so you will heap coals of fire on his head.”b]”>[b]

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Footnotes:

  1. Romans 12:19 Dt 32:35.
  2. Romans 12:20 Pr 25:21–22.

Modern English Version (MEV)The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.


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Your Daily Readings – Verse of the Day – 1 Corinthians 12:26 – November 17, 2019

1 Corinthians 12

Spiritual Gifts

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed!” And no one can say, “Jesus is the Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are various gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. There are various operations, but it is the same God who operates all of them in all people.

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to everyone for the common good. To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But that one and very same Spirit works all these, dividing to each one individually as He will.

One Body With Many Members

12 For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the many parts of that one body are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body, whether we are Jews or Gentiles, whether we are slaves or free, and we have all been made to drink of one Spirit. 14 The body is not one part, but many.

15 If the foot says, “Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear says, “Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has established the parts, every one of them, in the body as it has pleased Him. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 So there are many parts, yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, those parts of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those parts of the body which we think are less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor. And our less respectable parts are treated with much more respect, 24 whereas our more respectable parts have no need of this. But God has composed the body, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacks it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that the parts should have the same care for one another. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts rejoice with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and members individually. 28 God has put these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, and various tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have the gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly covet the greater gifts.

Love

Yet I show you a more excellent way.

Modern English Version (MEV) The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.


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Expounding the Torah

Did Moses speak in tongues? Tradition says that Moses spoke the words of the book of Deuteronomy in the seventy languages of humanity.

Portion Summary

Devarim (דברים) is both the title for the last book from the scroll of the Torah and the title of the first Torah portion therein. Devarim means “words.” The English-speaking world calls this book Deuteronomy. The Hebrew title for the book comes from the opening phrase of the book: “These are the words (devarim) which Moses spoke to all Israel across the Jordan in the wilderness” (Deuteronomy 1:1).

One ancient name for the book of Deuteronomy is Mishnah HaTorah (משנה תורה), which means “repetition of the Torah.” This is similar to the Greek Septuagint name Deuteronomos, which means “second law.” The English name Deuteronomy is derived from Deuteronomos.

The book of Deuteronomy is dominated by Moses’ farewell address to the children of Israel as he urges them to remain faithful to the covenant and prepares them for entering Canaan. During the course of the book, Moses reviews the story of the giving of the Torah at Sinai and the trip to the Promised Land, reiterates several laws of Torah and introduces new laws. The book seems to follow the general pattern of an ancient Near Eastern covenant treaty document.

As we study the first week’s reading from the book of Exodus, the children of Israel are assembled on the plains of Moab across the Jordan from Jericho.

Special Shabbat Reading

Special readings are applicable this Shabbat.

  • Shabbat Chazon (שבת חזון | Vision)
  • Haftarah: Isaiah 1:1-27

Shabbat Chazon (“Sabbath [of] vision” שבת חזון) takes its name from the Haftarah that is read on the Shabbat immediately prior to the mournful fast of Tisha B’Av, from the words of rebuke and doom coming from Isaiah in the Book of Isaiah 1:1-27. It is also referred to as the Black Sabbath due to its status as the saddest Shabbat of the year (as opposed to the White Sabbath, Shabbat Shuvah, immediately precededing Yom Kippur).

Regular Shabbat Readings

  • Devarim (דברים | Words)
  • Torah: Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22
  • Haftarah: Isaiah 1:1-27
  • Gospel: Matthew 24:1-22

Note: The regular readings are often interrupted with special readings on Jewish holidays, special Sabbaths, and Rosh Chodesh. Refer to the annual Torah Portion schedule for these special portions.

Portion Outline

  • TORAH
    • Deuteronomy 1:1 | Events at Horeb Recalled
    • Deuteronomy 1:9 | Appointment of Tribal Leaders
    • Deuteronomy 1:19 | Israel’s Refusal to Enter the Land
    • Deuteronomy 1:34 | The Penalty for Israel’s Rebellion
    • Deuteronomy 1:46 | The Desert Years
    • Deuteronomy 2:26 | Defeat of King Sihon
    • Deuteronomy 3:1 | Defeat of King Og
  • PROPHETS
    • Isaiah 1:1 | Introduction
    • Isaiah 1:2 | The Wickedness of Judah
    • Isaiah 1:21 | The Degenerate City

Portion Summary

Devarim (דברים) is both the title for the last book from the scroll of the Torah and the title of the first Torah portion therein. Devarim means “words.” The English-speaking world calls this book Deuteronomy. The Hebrew title for the book comes from the opening phrase of the book: “These are the words (devarim) which Moses spoke to all Israel across the Jordan in the wilderness” (Deuteronomy 1:1).

One ancient name for the book of Deuteronomy is Mishnah HaTorah (משנה תורה), which means “repetition of the Torah.” This is similar to the Greek Septuagint name Deuteronomos, which means “second law.” The English name Deuteronomy is derived from Deuteronomos.

The book of Deuteronomy is dominated by Moses’ farewell address to the children of Israel as he urges them to remain faithful to the covenant and prepares them for entering Canaan. During the course of the book, Moses reviews the story of the giving of the Torah at Sinai and the trip to the Promised Land, reiterates several laws of Torah and introduces new laws. The book seems to follow the general pattern of an ancient Near Eastern covenant treaty document.

As we study the first week’s reading from the book of Exodus, the children of Israel are assembled on the plains of Moab across the Jordan from Jericho.


The book of Deuteronomy opens, “These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel across the Jordan in the wilderness, in the Arabah” (Deuteronomy 1:1). Those words preface more than thirty chapters of Moses continuously talking. The sages puzzled over this. How did the man who was slow of speech become so eloquent? Just a few verses later, it says, “Moses undertook to expound this Torah.” According to Jewish tradition, Moses expounded the Torah in the seventy languages. The Midrash Tanchuma takes up the discussion.

Come and see! When the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses, “Go and I will send you to Pharaoh,” Moses said, “Woe! You are giving over the mission to me? I am not a man of words.” He said, “There are seventy languages known in Pharaoh’s court, so that if anyone comes from a foreign country, they can speak to him in his language. I am going as your apostle, and they will question me, and I will tell them that I am an apostle of the Almighty, and it will be obvious to them that I do not know how to converse with them. Will they not mock me and say, ‘Look, the apostle of the Creator of the universe who created all the tongues! He is unable to comprehend or answer.’” This is what Moses meant when he said, “Woe, I am not a man of words.” … forty years after the exodus from Egypt, however, he expounded the Torah in seventy languages, as it says, “He explained this Torah.” (Midrash Tanchuma, Devarim 2)

According to this story, Moses felt unqualified to serve as an apostle of Hashem because he could not speak in all seventy languages. After the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai (i.e., Shavuot) Moses no longer suffered with that impediment. He demonstrated to the people of Israel that he could now teach Torah in all seventy languages.

We should be able to see the connection to our apostles who spoke the good news in all languages on the day of Shavuot. On that day that they became apostles of the Almighty and His risen Son, they received the gift of languages.

The seventy tongues represent the seventy mother-languages spoken by all humanity. The presentation of the Torah in every language alludes to the universal quality of the revelation of God through the Torah of Moses. Just as Moses is said to have expounded the Torah to Israel in every language, likewise, the disciples proclaimed the good news of Yeshua on Shavuot in every language.

Expounding the Torah is a job for every disciple. In the same way that it is incumbent upon us to spread the gospel in every place and at every time, it is also incumbent upon us to teach the Torah. After all the Torah is very much a part of the gospel, and the message of the gospel is quite meaningless without the Torah. Therefore, we are all called to emulate Yeshua, our teacher, who dedicated His life to proclaiming the gospel and teaching the ways of Torah.

When properly presented, the Torah should be an avenue to Messiah. It should be a central part of the good news of the kingdom and the call for repentance in the name of our Master. One who undertakes to teach the Torah to others is like one imbued with the Holy Spirit on the day of Shavuot. (Click to Source)

 

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