by Ruth Marion Christmas Day, 2008
It is not generally known that a great deal of light has been thrown on this phenomenon in recent centuries, and much of what has been assumed about it has now been shown to be inaccurate. The “star” was neither mystical nor mythical! I have gathered information from many sources, all of which I believe are scientifically based, which will be detailed in a later version of this writing. Just the major sources are listed below with the Bible being the main reference as the details of the events the Christian world celebrates on December 25th are outlined.
||Introduction: Some pertinent ancient history
||The Creation of the Heavenly Bodies
||Abraham and Shem
||Moses and the Exodus from Egypt
||The prophet Daniel in Babylon
||What did the prophet Daniel teach the Magi to look for as the time drew near?
||What did the Magi see and follow?
||The Magi arrived in Jerusalem and told Herod “We saw His star in the East and have come to worship Him.
1.0 Introduction: Some pertinent ancient history
a) The Creation of the Heavenly Bodies
Genesis 1:14-16 says that God created the heavenly bodies, both fixed stars and moving planets, “for signs of seasons and days and years”. Before the Bible written record was begun by Moses with the Book of Genesis God declared his purpose to buy mankind back from the authority of the king of darkness, ignorance and evil, by sending a particular person, his Son, into the world to identify with man, obey all of God’s will for man perfectly, and then pay the price for everyone else’s disobedience to those commands so that the authority of God enforced by man as His regent could be re-established.
He declared this purpose by the names He gave to the stars ( Isaiah 40:26 and Psalm 147:4), ordering them as twelve stages of a story told by the names in order of their brightness within each grouping (constellation) with the complete circle of steps or stages named Mazzaroth in Hebrew, Zodiac in Greek. Ancient storytellers explaining the story to their children around the campfire at night resolved the names into pictures for ease of location, but they are not formed like a child’s dot-to-dot puzzle exactly.
Still the stars are located in the imaginary picture in the appropriate spot in the picture. For example, the beginning of the story is outlined in Genesis 3:15 where God informs the serpent of the enmity between the offspring of God’s enemy and a particular “he” who is the offspring of the woman, Eve, the mother of all living .
The brightest star in the Constellation of Virgo (The Virgin) is Zerah in Hebrew and Spica in Greek (Seed, singular), and is located in a sheaf of barley that she is holding. So the whole picture is about “The Seed of the Virgin”, introducing the hero of the story. He is shown as identified with the animals which would later represent his sacrifice until He came to sacrifice Himself: the Ox (Servant), called Taurus in English, the Lamb (Passover Sacrifice and the morning and evening burnt offerings to atone for sins among the people), called Aries, and the Goat (Scapegoat) called Capricorn, and finally as the Lion (King) known as Leo. Incidentally, the marker between Virgo and Leo to show where the story begins and ends was depicted as a creature with the head of a woman and the back of a lion on ancient pictorial representations of the Constellations.
This marker has given rise to many myths quite distinct from the original meaning, including the Sphinx of Egyptian mythology (head of the pharoah and back of a lion).
Psalm 19 begins: “The Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night utters knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard; their (story) line has gone out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world.”
The glory of God is His Son and His handiwork is not so much creation, which is more the backdrop for the play, but the whole drama of the redemption and restoration of man from the authority of God’s enemy. Paul in Romans 10:18 quotes these verses to show that all men have no excuse for claiming ignorance of God’s provision for faith in His gospel.
Revelation 12:1 tells of a great sign appearing in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland (crown?) of twelve stars, in labour, being delivered of a male child, while a great fiery red dragon (fourth beast in Daniel’s vision in (Daniel 9) stands ready to devour the child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron (Psalm 2).
The similarity of meaning of the names of the stars in all the ancient languages was first noticed by a linguistics expert, Frances Rolleston, in the late nineteenth century. She carefully researched and presented in her book “Mazzaroth, or, The Constellations”, published in 1878, the facts outlined by Albumazer, the Arab astronomer to the Caliphs of Grenada (850AD) and the tables drawn up by Ulugh Beigh, the Tartar prince and astronomer, about 1450AD, who gives us the Arabian astronomy as it had come down from the earliest records.
It is a fact that these star-pictures have been known in all the ancient civilizations, and missionaries reaching tribes as far apart as Japan and New Guinea have told the story expecting it to be unheard of, only to be told: “We always knew the story, we just didn’t know His name!”
Sailors have used the Constellations as navigation aids from ancient times.
The story was perverted deliberately by Nimrod and his wife Semiramis who not only sought to control the world through gathering people into governable units called cities, but also set out to pervert the story by making the heavenly bodies themselves the objects of worship.
The tower or ziggurat of Babel has been excavated and been found to house a planetarium probably designed for worship of the planets who came to represent the gods of the ancient world (Jupiter, Venus, …)
The original Hebrew names are quite different: for example the planet called Jupiter is called Tzedek in Hebrew, which means “righteous, having right standing with God the Creator”.
b) Abraham and Shem
Abraham was a Semite from the line of Shem (which means the Name or character of God), the righteous son of Noah after the flood (see Luke’s genealogy of Jesus going back to Adam through Shem and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and later King David).
Shem was 98 at the time of the Flood and lived another 502 years after it.
As the Patriarch of the Semites he was known by the title “Melech–Tzedek”, King of Righteousness, or Melchizidek in the English Bible, a priest of the Most High God. Abraham was born when Shem was 390 years of age, and met Shem at his home in Salem well before he was 99 years old (Genesis 14-17), at which time Shem was still under 500 years old . He gave his Patriarch a tenth of all the spoils of a battle, as a mark of allegiance and respect.
Abraham may well have brought him news of the perversion of the Mazzaroth (Zodiac) in the Land of the Chaldeans, where he had lived in Ur on the Euphrates River, among moon- and idol-worshippers. Ur was one of the cities built by Nimrod, grandson of Shem’s brother Ham, who had ambitions to rule the then- known world.
At the time of Abraham’s meeting with Shem, Nimrod had conquered and divided Mizraim (Hebrew for Egypt) and was changing them from worshippers of the One True God to followers of his new religion. It was a situation Shem could not ignore, and strong evidence in ancient records has surfaced that Shem then travelled to Egypt and dealt with Nimrod by tricking him into getting into a basket, and then throwing him into the Nile.
His wife Semiramis, at home in Babylon, became pregnant by someone else and was hoping to pass the child off as Nimrod’s as he was soon to return. Instead she received news that Nimrod was now dead, so she invented the story that the child in her womb was supernaturally conceived as the reincarnation of her dead husband.
The child, Tammuz , was then revered as a god, and she as the Queen of Heaven. Nimrod became the Sun god, and she the Moon god, and their child was also identified with the Sun.
Some of the practices associated with Christmas in Western countries have their origin in traditional pagan observances of the “ death and resurrection” of the Sun (Nimrod and Tammuz) at the winter solstice, around December 22nd, when a Yule (Old English for child) log was burned, and next morning an evergreen tree was decorated to represent his rising again.
Shem remained as ruler in Egypt (as the Pharaoh Cheops) and rekindled worship of the One True God. He built the Pyramids in Giza (mentioned in Isaiah 19:19-20 as “an altar to the Lord in the midst of Egypt, for a sign and for a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt.”) which is on the border of Upper and Lower Egypt.
Recent studies using computer simulation of the Heavens have found that the Great Pyramid, which was not designed as a burial place, has an ascending passage from what is known as “The King’s Chamber”, and if this is extended by an imaginary line to the Heavens it would have been pointing at the time to the seven stars of the Belt of Orion, the strong man who is the Seed of the Virgin.
In ancient times a man’s belt held his weapons and symbolized his strength and authority.
Aerial studies have shown that the seven pyramids are in the same configuration on the ground as the those seven stars in the heavens, as if to represent the Truth come to Earth, to stand firm against its counterfeit, the false religion that Nimrod established and Semiramis embellished.
c) Moses and the Exodus from Egypt
Egypt subsequently returned to the worship of the Sun (Ra) and the moon and stars and planets and many animals also became “gods” – cattle, flies, lice, locusts, frogs, birds of prey…
Some six centuries later a son was born to a Hebrew slave woman when the pharaoh had commanded that to control population growth among the Hebrew people there all baby boys were to be killed at birth. She hid him as long as she could, and then God gave her an idea.
She made a water-proof basket, placed her baby in it and put it in the water of the Nile to go with the current. The baby was found by the Pharaoh’s daughter, who say him as a gift from the Nile god (Ra reflected in the waters of the Nile) and called him Moses, raising him as her own son.
He was destined by the One True God to show the gods of Egypt’s for what they really were, subject to the True God, and to bring the Hebrew people out of Egypt to Sinai, in Arabia.
Many physical features and artifacts have been found there and on the Gulf of Aqaba sea bed to verify that the nation of Israel crossed the Red Sea from the beach called Nuweibe to the coast of Arabia and thence to Jabal al Lawz, the highest mountain in ancient Madyan.
The idea that the Exodus of Jews from Egypt did not happen is based on the fact that there is no archaeological evidence of a 12 month campsite at Mt Sinai on the Sinai Peninsula, identified by Queen Helena (mother of Constantine) around 350AD. Archaeologists have simply not been looking in the right place. In Galatians 4:25 Paul the Apostle makes it clear that Mt Sinai is in Arabia.
d) The prophet Daniel in Babylon
The Israelites finally found their way into the Land of the Canaanites, which the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had promised them would be theirs provided they followed His will and did not mix with other nations or turn from their God to worship the lesser “gods” of their neighbours. Solomon lost his legendary wisdom, a gift from God, when he married many foreign women to make political alliances and ended up worshipping their gods.
Within a few generations the nation was divided and both dynasties went from bad to worse, so were punished with slaughter by enemies and exile in disgrace, just as Deuteronomy 28:47 had warned them. The exile of the Southern Kingdom of Judah lasted seventy years.
One of the princes, a prophet named Daniel, remained loyal to his God all his life, and was favoured by God with revelation from an angel about the future of the nation.
He was told about the coming of the expected Messiah, and how to recognize his advent even though he himself would not live to see the events of that time.
Daniel had been placed as the Rab-Mag (Teacher of the Magi) of the Magi, a position mentioned by Jeremiah (Jer 39:3 ;13) and trained them in the knowledge and expectation to be handed on until that time arrived.
Daniel was a student of the Scriptures, and when Cyrus the Mede captured Babylon without a battle it was probably Daniel who gave him the scroll of Isaiah written many years earlier which prophesies his name, his rise and method of victory and the instructions he was to carry out to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem after the seventy years of the exile from Judea were over.
Daniel 9:24 on records the revelation the Angel Gabriel gave to Daniel of 490 years measured from the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (the city and its walls, which happened in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah.
This command was given on March 14th, 445BC. 69×7 360 day years later to the exact number of days (173,880 days) Yeshua arranged to ride into Jerusalem on a donkey as King, for his time had come, and He held the Jewish leadership accountable for not recognising the fulfillment of what had been revealed to Daniel.
Gabriel’s prophecy continued: “After the 62 sevens of years Messiah shall be cut off (ie executed for a capital crime) but not for himself…”
e) What did the prophet Daniel teach the Magi to look for as the time drew near?
1. The number of years in days to pass before the Messiah the King would be revealed.
2. The Signs to look for in the Heavens. Numbers 24:17-19 promises that a star and a sceptre (of rulership) will come out from Jacob. In Genesis 49:8-10 the sceptre is identified as belonging to Judah, one of the 12 sons of Jacob.
Psalm 110:1-4 says that the Messiah will come “after the order of Melchi-Zedek ie King of Righteousness, or in the likeness of Shem’s role in executing justice and modeling Truth about the character of God.
In our time thanks to computer programmes which can simulate the movement of the stars and planets but in reverse, so that we can have an accurate picture of the heavens on any specific date, a lot of clues given in Scripture can be used to pinpoint the actual time and date of the conception, birth and circumcision of Yeshua the Messiah, and later the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of our Lord.
2.0 What did the Magi see and follow?
There have been many theories over the centuries but none really fulfil all the characteristics and circumstances described in the Gospels. Some have proposed that it was a moving star like a comet, or a supernova.
a) The Magi arrived in Jerusalem and told Herod “We saw His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
The early Church fathers up to the Fourth century placed the birth of Jesus in the period 3 to 2BC. In the time of the Roman Empire the whole world interpreted happenings in the heavens as auspicious or a bad omen. In this time frame some very spectacular celestial events took place that were perceived as very auspicious for Augustus Caesar as Emperor over a peaceful and prosperous Empire.
For example, on August 12, 3BC in the pre-dawn and ten months later in the evening of June 17, 2BC, the planets Jupiter and Venus, the brightest of all the heavenly bodies from earth’s perspective appeared as one gigantic “star” in the Western sky as the full moon appeared in the eastern sky.
The conjunction of Jupiter and Venus was within the Constellation of Leo, the Lion, the central sign of Royalty in the ancient world. Jupiter was thought of as the King planet, but in addition there were a series of conjunctions of Jupiter (Tzedek in Hebrew) with the fixed star of first magnitude Regiel (Melech in Hebrew), between the feet in Leo, on the path of the Sun, also reckoned the Royal Star.
This happened first on September 14th, 3BC, and again on February 7th, 2BC, and again on May 8th, 2BC, with Jupiter appearing to make a circling effect above Regiel. The Roman astrologers interpreted this as meaning that Caesar Augustus, now in the 25th year of his reign and the 750th anniversary of the founding of Rome, could be given his supreme title: “Father of the Country”.
However, in Babylon there were Magi interpreting these celestial events in a very different way.
When on August 12, 3BC they saw Jupiter and Venus together in Leo, then on September 11th at sunset they saw the constellation of Virgo with the crescent moon beneath her feet, clothed with the sun as the sun was in the Constellation of Virgo from August 27 to September 15 (but for only one and a half hours was the moon beneath her feet on September 11th) and they also saw between the feet of Leo the coming together of Jupiter (Tzedek = Righteous) and Regiel (Melek = King) as “Melchizedek”,on September 14th, 3BC they knew that the coming of the King of Righteousness was being announced in the Heavens.
At sunset, between 6:18 and 7:39 local time was the beginning of the Feast of Trumpets, and the trumpets were being blown from the Temple walls in recognition of the New Year, while in a stable 6 km to the east in Beit Lechem (House of Bread), where lambs for sacrifice in the daily offerings in the Temple were bred and reared, a Jewish girl named Miryam was giving birth to her firstborn son, the Seed of the Virgin, to be named on his eighth day Yeshua (Yahoshua = Yahweh is salvation).
Trumpets were also ceremonially blown on the occasion of the birth of a Royal Heir to the Throne.
Leo was the banner sign for Judah, because Jacob had allocated all the Constellation signs to his 12 sons on his deathbed (Genesis 49) to preserve their meaning from the perversion taking place elsewhere. After the second and third conjunctions on February 17th and May 8th 2BC (Shavuot , Pentecost) all appearing in the west in the direction of Jerusalem the Magi prepared to travel in convoy from Babylon to Jerusalem, to find this King of Righteousness, to worship Him as the expected Jewish Messiah announced to the prophet Daniel.
They followed the direction Jupiter (Tzedek) was taking as it moved west in the sky in the latter part of June until they arrived in Jerusalem four to five months later.
This journey took Ezra about four months, but with much less pomp and ceremony, and they may have waited for the worst of the summer heqat to pass before beginning their journey..
The Hebrew word for “star” refers to a shaft of light appearing through a hole in a dark canopy, so there is no distinction between a fixed star or a moving planet.
In December 1980, Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles was the first in modern times to display the new astronomical drama that was occurring in the 18 month period from May 3BC to December, 2BC, and by 1990 at least 600 planetariums around the world were showing these events in their December displays.
When the Magi arrived in Jerusalem they were treated very seriously.
They were not “astrologers” in the modern sense of the word, nor did they practice forbidden arts.
Herodotus tells us they were originally one of the six tribes of the Medes, a priestly caste similar to the Levites among the Israelites, and their occupation was to provide “divine” information about daily matters involved in government affairs.
Because of the high religious and political esteem accorded them by the peoples of the East they were able to overturn some royal powers in the 6th century BC.
Many Jewish people in the first century were convinced that the prophecies of Daniel would find their fulfillment in what we call the first century, according to the Jewish historian Josephus, who said it was shown in their sacred writings that about that time one from their country (Judea) should become governor of the habitable earth. Even the Roman writers Suetonius and Tacitus mention this.
The Magi had been influenced by Daniel towards monotheistic belief and were respected and admired by the Jewish people. They were used to being advisors to kings and princes so it was natural to them to head first to the palace of King Herod. How many there were we do not know; they brought three types of gifts: gold and incense as suitable gifts for a king and a priest as mentioned in Isaiah 60:6, but myrrh is associated with suffering.
This recognises prophetically his future as foretold to Daniel.
The Magi arrived in Jerusalem in December 2BC and on December 25th Jupiter stopped its westward course in the sky ready to turn eastward again, and from the viewpoint of Jerusalem it appeared to stop over Bethlehem, the place and even over the house where the young child was about 18 degrees above the horizon.
Yeshua would have been living in a house by this time and would have been 15 months old. It would have been the season of Chanukah at the time.
If Yeshua was born on September 11th , 3BC, He would have been conceived 38 weeks earlier around 20th December 4BC, right in the midst of Chanukah at the time of the New Moon.
This fits well with the calculation of the conception of John the Baptist 6 months earlier in June 4BC, after Elizabeth’s husband Zechariah returned from his service in the Temple.
We know from the Book of Chronicles the time of year that would have been, as the course of Abijah would have been the fourth course of the year (from the beginning of Nizan) which is usually in May.
The Light of the World was made flesh as the Seed of the Virgin during the Festival of Light. Herod felt severely threatened by the news of a supplanter infant King of the Jews, and ordered that every boy in the vicinity of Bethlehem two years and under should be killed.
The Dragon stood at the ready to devour the child, but God was one step ahead of him, and Yeshua was taken by Joseph, his legal father/guardian, to Egypt for safety until Herod died, just after an eclipse of the moon on January 10th, 1BC and long enough before a springtime Passover of the Jews for the mandatory 30 days of mourning to be performed, as Josephus described the circumstances surrounding his death.
At the time of Yeshua’s birth on September 11th, 3BC it was autumn, and time for the lambs conceived in the spring to be born. The shepherds guarded their flocks by night in the open fields around Bethlehem and sheltered in the limestone caves around camp fires if they were necessary in the wee small hours of mostly balmy nights with light breezes.
The rainy season was still 6 weeks away. Cyrenius (also called Quirenius) was governor in Judea at the time and had experience in Syria of census taking.
This census or registration was actually an oath of allegiance demanded throughout the Empire by Augustus Caesar, combined with registration for taxation purposes, and proclaimed in the summer of 3BC so that on February 5th, 2BC Augustus could be given the title Father of the Country by decree of the Senate and people of the Roman Empire.
3.0 Celebrate Christmas?
Yeshua was conceived at Chanukah in 4BC, as the Word made flesh and Light of the World, born on the Feast of Trumpets in the autumn of 3BC on September 11th at sunset, and 15 months later on December 25th, 2BC, also during the celebration of Chanukah, was visited and worshipped as King of the Jews by Gentiles of high social stature who recognised Him for who He was and is, because they had been well taught by revelation given to the prophet Daniel.
Yeshua was present in the Temple at the Feast of the Dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem (John 10:22) in 29AD, a few months before Passover 30AD when He was crucified, cut off, executed for the capital crime of blasphemy, as the Lamb of God.
Despite the fact that the enemy has tried to take these dates and turn them to his purposes, I believe there is a good case for the celebration of both Chanukah and Christmas (Festival of the Messiah) on December 25th, each year, to remember and worship God for the miracle of the incarnation of Yeshua as the Seed of the Virgin and King of Righteousness.
In the words of an ancient prayer quoted by Ernest Martin in his book
“The Star of Bethlehem”:
“From the cowardice that shrinks from new truth,
From the laziness that is content with half-truths,
From the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth,
O God of Truth, deliver us!”
Bullinger, E.W. The Witness of the Stars. Reprint of the 1893 edition, Kregel, 1967. Available Koorong Books.