Chanukah and the Conception of Yahshua (Jesus)
Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights - December, 2000
Reedited - Hanukkah, December 20, 2003,
Picture Edited – Chanukah, December 25 eve, 2005
The Festival of Lights
The air is damp and foggy. The atmosphere feels surreal and mystic as I drive down a tree-lined lane. ‘Silent Night, Holy Night’ floats across the dashboard of my Camero, jolting my memory; this is the season celebrating the birth of the Christ child. My memory immediately revisits the grand Parisian art museum, the Louve in Paris, and the scenes there of the Madonna and the Christ child which are so indelibly imprinting in the Christian consciousness.
There the 13th century masters painted Mary in velvets of blue, green and scarlet, with the naked Christ child nestled against her bosom, set against a backdrop of Italian Renaissance architecture and Venetian cultured landscape. Though beautiful, is this the most accurate picture of the birth of the Christ child that we have, cloaked in medieval iconoclastic style? Do we even have a mental grasp of who Yahshua ben Joseph was, what his culture was like, and who sis family was? The Almighty had a time, place and purpose for His Chosen Son. Does our religious imagery reflect the life he really lived? Our understanding of Jesus begins with his early life, so I ask you to join me in taking another look at the birth of Jesus.
The story of the birth of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke begins in the Temple of God, on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Here, the Herodian genius and ambition combined to construct the largest and most monumental structure in the entire Roman Empire and bring glory and honor to Jerusalem, God’s (Hashem’s) Holy City and the Temple of the Lord.
Zacharias, meets Gabriel in the Temple
Standing before the altar of incense of the Lord during the week prior to Pentecost (Shavuot), sometime between 7 B.C.E and 5 B.C.E, was Zacharias, a Levite in the priestly lineage of Abijah. This was his spring, weekly tour of duty in the Temple, the seventh course (week), along with all the other members of the family of Abijah. No, it was not the seventh week since the beginning of the Levitical New Year, on Nisan 1 in the spring of the year. All Levites were required to serve in the Temple during the spring and fall Festivals of Passover (Pesach), Pentecost (Shavuot) and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth), in order to minister to immense crowds which came to Jerusalem as required by the Torah for all living male Israelites above the age of bar mitzvah. The eight day festival of Passover (Pesach) occurred in the third week, so now, seventh week course of Abijah, actually was the eighth week after Spring New Years.
Lots were cast, and Zacharias’ duty for the week was to sprinkle incense on the golden altar before the Temple of God. Below him, the Temple crowds were assembled in adoration and prayer before Adonai, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Yes, these crowds were getting larger as early arrivals to the upcoming Spring Festival of Pentecost (Shavuot), the following week on the sixth day of Sivan, were beginning to assemble. During the Pentecost celebration, the theme of the festival was focused on the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.
Suddenly, Zacharias, now a Levite priest of many years, met face to face with the awesome glory reflected by an other-dimensional being recognized as the Archangel Gabriel. Gabriel, the signet Archangel for Israel, was instructed to bring direct messages from the Almighty, sitting on His celestial throne envisioned by the mystic sages as the sixth heaven called Makon.
Whereas the Apostle Paul claimed he visited the third heaven in an out-of-body experience, according to the Torah sages, Gabriel resided in the second heavenly hall of Rakiyah also called the ‘firmament’. Here in the second heaven was where tzaddiks, when in a state of spiritual purity were able to conversed and commune with the angels. It was here the ‘signs of heaven’ were revealed to the prophets. It was to this second heaven, divine messages were sent by the Almighty God (Hashem). The prophet would be brought up in ‘vision’ to meet God’s emissary. Here Elijah, Daniel and John the Revelator were taken in vision as they were revealed the ‘hidden messages’ of the Lord.
Zacharias was informed that his barren wife, Elizabeth (Elisheva), also of the Tribe of Levi, was to be blessed and have a son. He was stunned, incredulous and now speechless. The curse of being barren would be over; not only that, this son would be specially chosen as a messenger of God, and given the ‘mantle’ of Elijah (Elias), the great Prophet of Israel. It would only be safe to presume that Zacharias wanted to rush to his home to be with Elizabeth. Did he not have a ‘holy mission’ to accomplish?
Unable to speak, Zacharias not only had to fulfill his priestly duties the remainder of the week, but he still had to remain on Temple for another two days, until the Feast of Pentecost (Shavuot) on Sivan 6 and 7, was completed. So, what was the first day that John the Baptist (Johannan ben Zacharias) could have been conceived? The first potential date would have been the 8th day of Sivan, the date most equivalent to the end of May. There is no doubt those arthritic knees of Zacharias made great haste to his home. According to the Holy Writ, “soon after” (Luke 1:24), the sperm and egg were united and the cellular division of the ovum marked the conception of life of that mighty messenger of God who was to prepare the ‘way of the Lord’. From his birth (womb), he was “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:15) and his duty was to bring back many Israelites to the Lord their God…., to reconcile father and child, to convert the rebellious to the ways of the righteous, to prepare a people that shall be fit for the Lord.” (Luke 1:16-18)
During the first and second trimester, Elizabeth (Elisheva) lived in seclusion. For five months, she told no one, not even her family. Yet the sixth month after the conception of John the Baptist, near the end of October, Gabriel once again delivered a message from the celestial Throne of God in the sixth heaven. Once again, Gabriel penetrated the inter-dimensional veil of the first heaven called Vilon, this time bringing Mary, a young maiden about fourteen years of age, into the visionary world of pure spirit.
Mary (Miriam), a young maiden living in Galilee in the town of Nazareth, was betrothed to an older man, Joseph, a resident of the town of Bethlehem, from the tribe of Judah. Mary (Miriam) was a relative of Elizabeth (Elisheva); therefore she was at least of one lineage of the tribe of Levi. The Lucian lineage of Jesus through his grandfather, Heli, was a Davidian lineage so Miriam’s relation with Elizabeth was through her maternal lineage.
Gabriel, now speaking to Mary (Miriam), in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s conception, would place the date of this visit in the month of December. Let us look at the evidence: the month of Sivan would have been the middle of May to the middle to the end of June. Then we have Tamuz (1st month), Av (2nd month), Elul (3rd month), Tishri (4th month), Cheshvan (5th month), and so Kislev 8 (6th month) of this visit would be in the in the middle of December.
Yet it is important to note that Mary (Miriam) was not pregnant at the time of Gabriel’s visit, for it was stated by the Archangel,
Luke 1:30 - “Do not be afraid, Mary, for God has been gracious to you; you shall conceive and bear a son, and you shall give him the name Jesus.”
This prophecy given to Miriam by the angel Gabriel was before Yahshua was conceived was later confirmed at the eighth day of Jesus’ birth when He was circumcised in the Temple, and His father Joseph’s gave Him His name.
Luke 2:21 - “He was given the name Yahshua, the name given by the angel before he was conceived.
It is this name, Yahshua, given in Aramaic, which is linguistically similar to Hebrew that Jesus was given by the archangel Gabriel. It will be name, Yahshua, that we will call Jesus the rest of this manuscript.
Then the Archangel said to Miriam,
Luke 1:28-35 - “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Yahshua. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and God (Hashem) will give him the throne of his father David. And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”
To confirm this message, Gabriel said,
Luke 1:36-37 - “Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. “For with God nothing will be impossible.”
If the time for the first conceivable date for the conception of John was truly the 8th of Sivan, and the archangel Gabriel came to Miriam on the 6th month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the 8th of Kislev, then given a latitude of about two weeks from this date for the moment in time when the “Power of the Highest” would “overshadow” Miriam, then the most appropriate time and the most appropriate Jewish celebration festival for this miraculous conception of Miriam would have been the second day of Hanukkah, the 25th of Kislev (the month of December), which is celebrated as the “miracle of Light”.
On the 24th of Kislev, 167 B.C., the menorah was lit in the newly cleansed Temple of God. The was one of the great moments in Jewish history for the forces of Antiochus Epiphanes IV of Syria had been driven from the land of Judea. It all began when the Hellenistic ruler used his imperial rule to force the inhabitants of his kingdom to convert to Hellenism, known as the Greek Metrology. Many Jews found this to be a very civilized way of life. Yet the Torah observers and especially the Torah observing priests in the temple of Zerubabbel in Jerusalem refused to observe the Greek customs and to incorporate Hellenistic ways of worship. When the Torah observing Jews refused to quit worshipping on the Sabbath (Saturday), practicing circumcision and observing the kosher laws of clean meats, they were threatened with death, the temple was desecrated, and the vessels, the altar, the menorah were defiled by sacrificing a pig on the altar of the Lord. Then the worship to the Greek god Zeus was instituted. This was the Abomination of Desolation.
The rumor in the land was that a revolt was in the making and immediately Antiochus ordered his troops to the town of Modi’in, the home of the priest Mattathias and his five sons. There the family of Mattathias revolted, Mattathias was killed and under the leadership of Judah, nicknamed “Maccabee” or ‘The Hammer’, they killed the Syrian soldiers and a full scale guerrilla revolt began that eventually led to the expulsion of all the forces of Antiochus Epiphanes IV from the land of Judea.
The temple was cleaned up, repaired and re-cleansed according to the commands of God given to Moses (Moshe). The golden menorah was ransacked from the temple and a new menorah had to be built from inferior metals, yet with great love and care, the temple was ready for its dedication. Yet there was a crisis. When the menorah in the temple was lit on that day of Dedication, only one day of the sacred lighting oil was available in the City of David, Jerusalem and it would take another eight days to prepare new oil. Even so, to celebrate the victory of their independence, they chose instead to light the menorah and let God provide the rest. By a miracle of the Divine, the menorah remained lit for eight days, burning only on one days worth of oil.
Therefore, the miracle of light occurred on the ‘second’ day or the 25th day of Kislev, as there was one days worth of oil, but none for the second day and beyond. The Feast of Dedication was celebrated throughout the land and Hanukkah entered the festival cycle of the Jews.
25th of Kislev – The Conception of Yahshua (Jesus)
On the 25th day of Kislev, Elizabeth (Elisheva) would have entered her sixth month, third trimester, of pregnancy, from day 164th to the 172nd day after conception. If the sacred texts could be redacted on the meaning of the “Miracle of Light”, then on the 2nd day of Hanukkah, Miriam was overshadowed by the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and Yahshua (Jesus), the ‘Light of the World’ was conceived. So on this Christmas celebration, that miraculous event, was not the birth of Jesus, but the “Mystery of God” and the Incarnation was the infusion of the world of the Divine by the Holy Spirit upon the ovum of Mary. This was a Mystery which is not comprehensible even today by modern genetic or gynecological scientists.
So when was Jesus born if it was not on Christmas morning? First, let us return to the developing fetus of Johannan ben Zacharias (John the Baptist) who, in utero, was awaiting his birth. Fifteen and one half weeks after Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, Johannan ben Zacharias, the Baptist, was born on the first day of Passover, on the 273rd to the 280th day of pregnancy, a ‘full-term’ for a woman of advanced years. As such, Johannan (John) would have been circumcised on the 8th day of Passover. As John the Baptist carried the mantle of Elijah in the 1st century, even to this day, the Orthodox Jews will set a place for Eliyahu (Elijah) during the Passover Seder meal.
Exactly six months after Passover (Nisan 15), the first day of Sukkoth, the Feast of the Tabernacles, began. For a young female with a first gestational pregnancy (primipara), Miriam, if she conceived on the 24th day of Kislev, the first day of Hanukkah, then on the 25th day of Kislev, the second day of Hanukkah, cellular division of the ovum began and the “Miracle of Light” occurred. Two hundred eighty five days later, (285 days), on Tishri 15, the first day of Sukkoth, the Feast of the Tabernacles, the infant, Yahshua (Jesus), was born on this earth.
So here is the revelation given for over 3500 years in the Hebrew traditions of the Festivals. Culmination in the ‘progressive revelation’ of God (Hashem), we can now understand the addition of Hanukkah to the Festivals of the Lord. Even to the Jews, the remnant of the chosen ones of God, divine revelation continued to be witnessed. This idea was not canonized in the TaNaKh, but the Jews did believe and relived it yearly in their festivals of the Lord.
Gabriel meets Zacharias in Vision Week Prior to Pentecost, 27 Iyar – 5 Sivan
Conception of Johannan (John the Baptist) Week after Pentecost, 8-15 Sivan
Conception of Yahshua (Jesus) Hanukkah, second day – 25 Kislev (December)
Birth of Johannan (John the Baptist) Passover, first day, 15 Nisan.
Circumcision of Johannan (John the Baptist) Passover, eighth day, 22 Nisan
The Birth of Yahshua (Jesus) Feast of Tabernacles, first day, 15 Tishri
Circumcision of Yahshua (Jesus) Simhat Torah, eighth day - 22 Tishri
With this historical picture in mind, we no longer have to think of shepherds herding sheep on the hillsides of Judea during the winter sleet and ice storms, and throngs of people traveling across the land to the place of their birth to be counted on a national census (and taxation) during the mid winter snowfall. We now can imagine throngs of people; in fact the province of Judea was on foot, for all the men of the land were required to go to the House of the Lord, the temple of God in Jerusalem to celebrate Sukkoth.
This was called the season of our rejoicing (zeman simhateinu). The harvest was now completed, the days of repentance during the Days of Awe, leading up to the Great Day of the Lord, Yom Kippur the Day of Atonement, was over. The people in the land could now have a sense of security and fulfillment. They were at peace with themselves, their neighbors, and their God.
Here within the throngs, Joseph and the very pregnant, Mary (Miriam), were traveling. No doubt they were singing, praising and enjoying the fellowship with all their friends and fellow pilgrims. That is, as well as you could enjoy it when the first signs of contractions began, suggesting that the birth of a child was near. The fellow travelers were probably also excited, and the mothers and grandmothers were giving the best of their maternal advice to the new arrival to the world of motherhood. Mariam was but a young teenager about fourteen years of age. All the soothing words of comfort could not overcome the fears of impending motherhood. Will I be a good mother? Can I tolerate the pains of childbirth? How am I going to handle raising a child, destined to be a messiah, a tzaddik (righteous man), the Son of God? She no doubt wanted to shout to all who would hear; Don’t you know, I am giving birth to One who is to be destined the King of kings and Lord of lords? Yet she pondered these things and kept them in her heart.
Sukkoth was simply called, ha-had, or ‘the Festival’ (1 Kings 12:32). The land was in a festive mood and pilgrims traveled in caravans, singing and dancing to the rhythmic lyrics of praise to Adonai, their Lord and Savior.
What is of interest is that the Feast of Tabernacles, and specifically Simhat Torah, the last or eighth day of the festival, was the one feast and the one week which commemorated the Shekinah (Sh’chinah), the Glory of God, as ‘tabernacling among men’ and the last day of the feast was when the Torah itself would ‘come to life’. The Torah was to come in the flesh. The Torah was to dwell among men. Truly, Yahshua was the “Torah in the Flesh.”
The colorful Temple ceremonies and rites at the festival were designed for an uplifting festive spirit with the large number of sacrifices, the great clouds of incense giving fragrance to the air and the choruses of priests singing and chanting. All the human senses were stimulated with the ceremonies and pageantry. The changes of season with cool daytime breezes and crisp evenings invigorated the body. Living a life of Torah to the observant Hebrew was a celebration.
Within all festive celebrations, loneliness was be more penetrating, especially to Miriam who could not afford to be transparent about what is really happening to her. Security in the lands was in highest alert and Roman soldiers lined the Roman roads, to some a symbol of safety and security and to others a symbol of oppression and the yoke of servitude. To be a child born in the lineage of David was a dangerous thing to be. Those in the lineage of David were recognized as a threat to the Roman government and to Herod, the king in the land, who was known for his ruthless and merciless suppression of any potential aspirant to the throne of Judea. Shouting King of the Jews would be like shouting out ‘bomb’ in a modern American airport. It would give you attention you could do without.
This Festival, called the Festival of Booths or Festival of Tabernacles. It was the third of three fall festivals in the month of Tishri in the months of September or October. Many refer to these three festivals, Rosh Ha Shannah (Festival of Seventh Trumpet), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and Sukkoth (Festival of Tabernacles) as the Second Advent.
On the other hand, the three spring festivals were called the First Advent; the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Passover sacrifice and Seder and the Festival of First Fruits, in the month of Abib or Nissan. When Yahshua (Jesus) was condemned in spite of his innocence, died as an outcast man and was buried and then arose from the dead as the “first fruits of the resurrection”, he fulfilled every literal typology of Passover. For seven days and seven nights, the Passover reminded the Hebrews of their ancestors, who for 40 years lived in the wilderness, in shelters no better than those constructed for their animals. In fact, the Hebrew word, ‘Sukkoth’ was used to describe ‘stables’ or lodging places for animals.
Genesis 33:17 - “And Jacob journeyed to Sukkoth, built himself a house, and made sukkoths (booths) for his livestock. Therefore the name of the place is called Sukkoth.”
Five miles from Jerusalem, in the city of Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary (Miriam) would seek shelter. For the Sukkoth season, the most important ritual was to live for eight days in a Sukkoth, a temporary structure, covered with tree branches. Being on the outskirts of Jerusalem, throngs of pilgrims, unable to find accommodations in the Holy City, moved to the suburbia. As such, the homes of the Bethlehem residents were available for hire for the pilgrims coming in for the festival. A room was sold a premium, for there always were more pilgrims than accommodations. Literally, there was “no room in the inn”.
We can use a little ‘divine imagination’ to suggest that with the progressive contractions, the pace of Joseph and Mary (Miriam) slowed down and they soon found themselves lagging behind the groups of traveling pilgrims and no longer were with their friends and associates.
To the inhabitants, the pilgrims represented monetary income with their rooms for hire, yet sometimes too much is too much, and pretty soon, they begin to feel, please go away. For most inhabitants of the village of Bethlehem, the festivities were to be celebrated in their own Sukkoth, where they talked, celebrated and fulfilling the final mitzvoth (commandment), to rejoice unto the Lord.
When Miriam and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, she might have been in full labor, but there was a problem. The town was full, not only full, but packed full. Where are you going to put another family, especially a woman in full labor, among throngs and crowds singing, talking and celebrating? The homes were full, the privately built Sukkoths were full, and where else but the real ‘sukkoths’, the dwelling places for the animals could they stay? Even so, in the canon, there is no reference to caves or barns, yet there is a reference to a manger, a feeding trough for the animals could have easily been brought to a Sukkoth and later transferred into a make-shift crib in a village home. And so it was stated by John;
John 1:14 - “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt (tabernacled) among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Here we see the birth of the messiah, and the time when ‘we beheld His glory’, who literally was tabernacling or dwelling among men within the booths of Sukkoth, yet resided in the sukkoths of the animals.
This was the last few weeks before the harsh winters would set in, and the shepherds spent a lot of time allowing the sheep to fatten up before winter. The dreaded heat of summer was over, and the evenings were cool, crisp and pleasant.
A squalling infant, now wrapped in swaddling clothes for protection in the cool breezes of evening and the curious stares of the domestic animals is a scene familiar to all Christendom. Nearby, shepherds on a grassy sloped hillside suddenly found them serenaded by a chorus of supernatural choristers, singing,
Luke 2:8-10 - “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth, Peace, Good Will towards all men on whom his favor rests...”
Actually, this was not the first thing that happened, once again that inter-dimensional gateway into the world of the Divine opened and again there “stood before them an angel of the Lord, and the splendor of the Lord shone round them. They were terror-stricken…” (Luke 2:8-10) First there was Zacharias, then Miriam, afterwards Joseph, and now the shepherds. What was the message of the angelic messenger? “Fear not!” That is consoling.
Luke 2:10-12 - “I have good news for you: there is great joy coming to the whole people. Today in the city of David a deliverer has been born to you - the Messiah, the Lord. And this is your sign: you will find a baby lying wrapped in his swaddling clothes, in a manger.
Quickly, they headed to town, winding in and out among the multitude of Sukkoths, asking, have you seen a newborn child? Guess what? My guess is that there was only one birth in Bethlehem that evening. When they found Joseph and Miriam, “they recounted what they had been told about this child; and all who heard were astonished at what the shepherds said.” (Luke 2:17-18)
What is of interest is that the Feast of Tabernacles, and specifically Simhat Torah, the last day, or eighth day of the festival, was the one feast and the one week which commemorated the Shekinah (Sh'chinah), the Glory of God, as ‘tabernacling among men’ and the last day of the feast was when the Torah itself would ‘come to life’.
Simhat Torah, the 22nd of Tishri, in the Jewish festival year, commemorated the advent of the Torah, and literally means “the rejoicing of the Torah”. On this day, the Torah scroll would be taken from their sacred place by the rabbi and they would dance with the Torah around the synagogue and even into the streets as though the Torah was coming to life. There is even enacted a symbolic wedding, including a wedding procession, with the Torah and a chosen member of the congregation.
And so it was stated by John,
John 1:14 - “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt (tabernacled) among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth”.
Here we see the birth of the messiah, and the time when ‘we beheld His glory”, who literally was tabernacling among men within the booths of Sukkoth. Then on the eighth day, Simhat Torah, he became ‘alive’, recognized in Jewish life as a live birth, when he was circumcised, and his name was given to him, a name selected by his Heavenly Father.
As a male born child, Yahshua was circumcised at home because His mother, Miriam, was undergoing the forty days of ritual purification.
Leviticus 12:2-4 - If a woman has conceived and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of her customary impurity she shall be unclean. And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. She shall then continue in the blood of her purification thirty-three days. She shall not touch any hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary until the days of her purification are fulfilled."
This would be the same messiah, who would later point his followers toward the Torah as a Torat Chayim (Living Torah). Jesus, as the true and fullest emanation of the Torah (The Word of God), now alive as a Torat Chayim (Living Torah), would truly be recognized as ‘divine’, that is literally meaning “of or from the vine” or as the “Agent of the True Vine, Hashem (God). These may be mystical concepts, but they are also profound thoughts on the nature of Jesus, the messiah.
So on that day, as foretold by the angel Gabriel, Joseph obeyed the command of the Lord and named His son a name that came from the Hebrew root word, Yasha, meaning ‘to save’.
Matthew 1:21 – "And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."
Here Joseph, the adopted father, named his son and thereby claimed him as his own.
Matthew 1:18 – "Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he (Joseph) called His name Yahshua."
While the family of Jesus was introducing their young son in the rites of circumcision, the pilgrims were completing the most awesome ritual of the festival season. They were celebrating in marching, dancing and singing the moment in time in which the Lord of hosts would come down in the flesh and dwell among them.
The memories of the ancient processional marching around the city of Jericho were still vivid in the Jewish consciousness. Once a day for six days they marched around the city of Jericho and then seven times on the seventh day, the Israelites walked around the ancient city of Jericho. With a blast of the shofars, the walls came tumbling down.
It was this type of processional marching called Hakkofot that was performed on Simhat Torah. On this day, all the Torah Scrolls were removed from each of their Arks in the synagogues and carried on the central platform and seven time the priests would march the scrolls around the temple altar. This was accompanied with dancing and acrobatic feats of ecstatic joy.
It was on the forty days after the birth of Yahshua, on the 4th day of Kislev, during the first week of December; this Torah observant Jewish family, Joseph and Miriam, brought Yahshua to be dedicated at the Temple Mount proper. As is written in the laws of Hashem (God of Israel)
Luke 1:21-25a - “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to Hashem (God)”
No, they did not return from Nazareth, rather they were still residing in the city of David, called Bethlehem. This dedication of Yahshua came after his mother, Mary, had spent forty days in seclusion and returned to the temple for her rites of purification. Here the parents of Jesus were fulfilling in complete obedience to the Laws of Moses and the halachah (teachings and customs) of the Jews.
Leviticus 12:6 – "When the days of her purification are fulfilled, whether for a son or a daughter, she shall bring to the priest a lamb of the first year as a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting."
Provisions were made for the poor and those unable to bring a lamb to the temple.
Leviticus 12:8 – "And if she is not able to bring a lamb, then she may bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons – one as a burnt offering and the other as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.'"
At the temple in Jerusalem there was a just and pious man whose name was Simeon, who was waiting for the Consolation of Israel.” (Luke 2:21-25a) Here we see prophetically the mission and purpose of the life of Jesus. The major theme of the Prophets looking for the Consolation of Israel was the calling for the reunification of the House of Israel (Northern Kingdom) with the House of Judah (Southern Kingdom).
So on the steps of the beautiful Temple of Herod, we see Simeon, holding the infant Jesus, and “the Holy Spirit was upon him as it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit, that he would not see death before he had seen Hashem’s (God’s) messiah. So Simeon came by the Spirit into the Temple. When the parents brought in the messiah, to do for him according to the custom of the Torah, he took him up into his arms and blessed God and said,
Luke 2:25b-32 - “Hashem, now you are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”
There on the Temple Courtyard, the mission of Jesus was foretold. He was to be
(1) a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles and
(2) the glory of your people, Israel”
Simeon only paraphrased the words of Isaiah:
Isaiah 49:5-6 - “And now Hashem says, Who formed me from the womb to be His servant, to bring Jacob back to Him so that Israel is gathered to Him, for I shall be glorious in the eyes of Hashem, and my God shall be my strength, indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the ‘natzri’ (preserved ones) of Israel; I will also give you as light to the Gentiles, that you should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
Yet who were the Magi, the Wise Men, and the Astrologers, according to various Biblical translations? What we do know is that to the north and east of the Euphrates, in the remnant of the ancient Persian Empire, was several small kingdom states. This was the same area where Daniel governed for Cyrus and Darius, when the power center changed from Babylon to Persapolis, in modern day Iran. What was not considered is that the populations within this area, according to Josephus “comprised the vast hordes of the assimilated Northern Kingdom who had escaped Assyrian exile.” Here we have a prince of Judah, Daniel, governing over the people of Judah, taken in the Babylonian captivity, and also governing over large population of Israelites inhabiting a large area of the central Persian empire.
In the first century, it was the Parthian empire, known as the ‘Anvil’ in which all the other mid-eastern states, Commagene, Edessa, Osrhoene, Pontus and Armenia, were compressed in the political vice with the ‘Hammer’ of the Roman Empire. What is fascinating is that all of these small independent principalities were called “Lion States” in which their rulers or kings recognized the constellation of Leo as their Royal insignia. This is not unusual, for the Kingdom of Judah, was also a “Lion State”, the origins which went way back to Sinai, when the tribes with their insignias, camped around the Tent Sanctuary of the God of Jacob. The order of the twelve tribes around the sanctuary was in accordance with the twelve stations of the Zodiac.
What is of interest is that Jerusalem is in the inherited land of the tribe of Benjamin, but Bethlehem, five miles away is in the inherited land of Tribe of Judah. Were these Magi looking for a potential candidate to someday rule over Parthia, Commagene, Edessa and/or Armenia?
We also note that this visit was some time after his birth, circumcision and dedication. When the Magi first came to the court of Herod, thinking rightly so that the birth would be within the royal family household, they inquired of King Herod about any new royal birth. This was the King Herod who was known for his paranoia and manic rages as he killed any potential aspirant to the throne including the Hasmonean family of the Maccabean and especially any potential rivals from the House of David.
Herod inquired of the chief priests and lawyers concerning the prophecies concerning a future anointed one. There within the Oracles of God (Hashem) they read him the prophecy,
Matthew 2:5-6 - “Bethlehem in the land of Judah, you are far from least in the eyes of the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a leader to be the shepherd of my people Israel.”
With this information, Herod summoned the Magi for a private conference. The prime purpose of the meeting was to obtain the astronomical data from these eastern astrologers to determine the date of birth of the infant child. This was critical information, for the subsequent massacre of all children in Bethlehem and the surrounding villages two years of age and younger, was determined by “the time he had ascertained from the astrologers.” (Matthew 2: 16) The Christ Child was any age up to the age of two, determined by the first sighting of the Star in the East.
So now, we have a nucleus for the story of the Magi. Learned scholars in the wisdom sciences of the East, possibly representing several different countries or principalities, were looking for a potential ruler, a ‘special’ ruler from the Lion Tribe of Judah. Yahshua would be recognized as a ruler in waiting. The gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh were not only fit for royalty, but providentially given as provisions to sustain the family of Joseph during their future exile to Egypt.
King Herod became ill, according to Josephus, immediately following an act of impiety against the priesthood, at which time an eclipse of the moon occurred on March 13, 4 B.C. Was this ‘act of impiety’ the slaughter of the male infants in Bethlehem, whom the priest suggested to be the domicile of the future King of kings? What we do know is by the fall of 4 B.C., Herod had died and the political environment in Judea would now be safe for the return of the family of Joseph with the young child, Jesus.
I sit before the fireplace with a manger scene before me. What is the meaning of all of this? Is this the picture God (Hashem) wants us to understand as we contemplate the most significant moment in the history of this world, when God (Hashem) intercepts our three dimensional world and incarnates a portion of the World of the Divine into the ovum of a young maiden, one called “Most favored one.” (Luke 2:28)
Has the meaning of Christmas and Hanukkah been hidden for centuries by the will of God (Hashem)? Is there a meaning for this special season of the year that is waiting for those willing to listen to God (Hashem)? Did the Almighty specifically design in the celebrations and Festival of the Hebrews, first in the Torah and later in progressive revelation with the Jews, the coming of His Son and the timing of His coming? Does it make a difference whether Jesus birth is set in medieval architecture, or why not a modern ghetto, or a western cowboy barnyard rather than in the proper cultural context of the fall festival of Tabernacles? Is there a reason He came to the Jews, the remnant of God’s chosen people, during the celebration of the Lord, near the Temple of God in God’s Holy City?
With Joy and Dancing, Fall Festival of Succot Began
The Festivals of the Lord
The Festival of Sukkot
Living in a Sukkoth
The Arrival of the Family of Joseph to Bethlehem
The Word (Torah) was made Flesh and Tabernacled (Dwelt) among Us
The Shepherds were watching over their Flocks by Night
Simhat Torah – when the Torah became Alive
The Promised Messiah
The Appointed Time
“When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son.”
Part Three – Born of a Virgin
Part Five – Was Joseph Betrothed or Espoused to Mary?
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