Birth of Yeshua at Sukkot Luke 2:1-7
2:1-2 And it happened that in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the Land should be enrolled. This enrollment first happened during the governorship of Quirinius in Syria. –
that all the Land should be enrolled - “all the Land” The Old Syriac Aramaic has )(r) hlwk which is ambiguous in Aramaic. )(r) (Strong's #772) is the Aramaic equivalent of Hebrew Cr) eretz (Strong's 776). This word can mean "world" (as in Prov. 19:4) "earth" (as in Dan. 2:35) or "land" (as in Dan. 9:15) and is often used as a euphemism for "The Land of Israel" (as in Dan. 9:6). The Greek translator mistook the word to mean “world” here causing scholars to mistakenly think that Luke was speaking of one of the three empire-wide censuses which were in 28 B.C., 8 B.C., and 14 A.D. None of these dates fits well with the time of the birth of Messiah. However we learn from the Aramaic text that Luke actually refers a much smaller local census and not one of these empire-wide censuses at all. This is supported by the fact that Luke uses the phrase “this enrollment first happened” so as to contrast this enrollment by another ordered by Quirinius in 6 C.E. which Luke mentions in his second book (Acts 5:37). That census was a local census of Judah and so it stands to reason that this census was also a local census of Judah or “Ha-Eretz” “The Land” as well.
during the governorship of Quirinius in Syria - This is the reading of the Peshitta. The Old Syriac Aramaic says “in the years of Quirinius governor of Syria” .
His full name was Publius Sulpicius Quirinius. Skeptics have made much of the fact that Quirinius is known to have become Governor of Syria in 6 C.E. (several years to late to fit the time of Yeshua’s birth). However there are two very workable solutions to this apparent problem.
The first is that Quirinius may have served as governor of Syria once before, perhaps as a military governor, prior to his installation in 6 C.E.. A Latin inscription has been found recording the career of a distinguished Roman officer who, when he became imperial legate of Syria entered upon that office ‘for the second time’ (Lat. iterum). This Roman officer could very well be Quirinius.
The second is that “the years of Quirinius” actually began before he actually became governor of Syria. Quirinius was governing in Syria as a Roman Senator in charge of being the assessor of property in Syria as well as Judea (which the Romans regarded as part of Syria). His name was also mentioned in "Res Gestae - The Deeds of Augustus by Augustus" which was found in the city of Antioch Pisidia placing him as consul as early as 12 B.C.. The Greek geographer and historian Strabo (circa 63 B.C. - circa A.D. 23), seems to indicate Quirinius may have been in Syria with a special commission for military operations between 10 and 7 B.C. Moreover the Roman historian Tacitus mentions that Quirinius was appointed by Augustus to be an advisor to his young son Caius Caesar in Armenia. Caius was sent to administer Syria in 1 C.E. with Quirininus as his advisor. So there is good evidence that “the years of Quirinius” in Syria began several years before his installation as governor in 6 C.E..
2:7 and laid him in a manger – Or a Sukkah booth.
There is evidence that Yeshua was born at Sukkot. The key to calculating the date of the birth of Messiah is Luke 1:5 where we learn that Zechariah the father of Yochanan was a priest of the course of Abijah.
The priests became to numerous to all serve at the Temple all the time, so they were divided into 24 courses (1Chron. 24). Each course served for two weeks each year, once in the former rain (first half of the year) and once in the latter rain (second half of the year). There were also three weeks in which all the priests were required to serve, these
were the three pilgrimage festivals (Dt. 16:16). 24 times 2 is 48 plus three is 51. 51 weeks is 357 days fitting nicely within the 360 day lunar year.
The course of Abijah is the eighth course (1Chron. 24:10) which serves the tenth week during the former rain portion of the year (this is because during Passover and Shavuot (Pentecost) all for the priests serve together Dt. 16:16). Zechariah had his vision while serving in the course of Abijah in the tenth week (It will become apparent that he
was serving his first course not his second as the timing will show as we progress). Thus Zechariah's vision took place during the 10th week of the year (The religious year beginning at Nisan/Abib around 14 days before Passover). We must add two additional weeks before Yochanon (John) could be conceived, due to the purity laws (Lev. 12:5; 15:19, 25). So Yochanon was concieved in the 12th week of the year. He was born about 40 weeks later during the 52nd week of the year (12 + 40 = 52) which brings us to Passover. Thus Yochanon was born at Passover, the very time that Elijah was, according to Jewish tradition, supposed to appear.
Yeshua was conceived 6 months (about 25 weeks) after Yochanon's conception. This means Yeshua was conceived around the 37th week around Chanukah. This would mean the light of the world was conceived during the festival of lights.
Yeshua was born 40 weeks later (around week 77 that is week 25 of the following year) this brings us to the time of the fall feasts.
There are several clues that Yeshua was born at Sukkot:
1. Bethleham was "booked solid." This would not have been due census which would have taken place over the period of a year. Every Jew was required to come to Jerusalem for Sukkot (Dt. 16:16) this would have over run Jerusalem as well as Bethleham just five miles away.
2. Yeshua was born in a “manger” or stable. The Hebrew word for "stable" is "sukkah" (as in Gen. 33:17) so it is likely that Yeshua was born in a Sukkah/booth.
3. If Yeshua was born on the first day of Sukkot then he would have been circumcised on the "eighth great day" a festival following Sukkot. This day was the original "Simchat Torah" (Rejoicing in the Torah) which is now held the following day in Rabbinic Judaism. So Yeshua would have entered the covenant on the day of "rejoicing
in the Torah."
4. When the angels appeared to the shepherds they made a statement which closely echoes the ancient Sukkot liturgy "...behold, we have come to declare to you glad tidings of great joy." (Lk. 2:10-11)
5. Sukkot is symbolic of Elohim dwelling in a "tabernacle" (body?) with us.
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