was Born on Passover
December, 6 January, Tabernacles or Passover?
3rd (Creation Calendar) Revised Edition, 2012 
We often get alot of surprised comments from friends in different
assemblies and churches when they learn that we believe that Yah'shua the
Messiah (Jesus Christ) was born in the early morning of 6 April on the
Gregorian Calendar or Pesach (Passover)
on the Creation Calendar, as this is
not generally believed either by Christians (who are for the most part
still imprisoned by the pagan 25 December
date) or by Messianics (who believe He was born in the autumn/fall). In
this essay I shall attempt to give the scriptural and historical reasons
for our belief. But before I do so, I want to hasten to add that a
knowledge of the Saviour's birth is not essential for anyone's salvation
even though such knowledge is useful to have. Finally, though we are not
commanded to celebrate the birth, it would be nice to know when it was for
those Christians and Messianics who, wish to mark His birth date in some
Fixing the Year
Because the Hebrews did not use the solar calendar as we do but operated
from a luni-solar one, knowing the year of the birth of Messiah is
essential to fixing the actual day. This is because using a lunar
calendar the day varies in each year. Thus though (for the sake of
argument) Yah'shua (Jesus) may have been born on 6 April 1 B.C. it does
not follow that His birthdate follows on 6 April every year. Anyone who
follows the Hebrew calendar will immediately realise this when it comes to
the celebration of Israel's feasts as
will those Christians who still follow the pagan tradition of Easter for Messiah's resurrection (which varies
As we look at the evidence we will see that nothing is absolutely
conclusive, at least if we use the Bible alone. However, if we are willing
to lend some credence to the traditions of the Jews, who have a
long-standing belief about when the Messiah will be born, and other
historical evidence, then it is possible to affix the historical date of
Messiah's birth with some accuracy.
Messianic Evangelicals believe the Messiah was born in the early morning
of 6 April 1 B.C. In arriving at this conclusion we will be considering
seven principal strands of evidence:
In addition will will recall that Luke gives a year in the reign of
Tiberias Caesar during which John the Baptist began his ministry, and the
approximate age Yah'shua (Jesus) had reached when John baptised Him.
- 1. The reign of Herod the Great as King of Judea;
- 2. The reign of Augustus Caesar as Emperor of Rome;
- 3. The Governorship of Cyrenius (Quirenius) of Syria;
- 4. The shepherds in the field;
- 5. The appearance of a new star;
- 6. Jewish tradition about the birth of the Messiah; and
- 7. The witness of the Qumran sectaries
The weight of evidence produced by traditional scholarship suggests that
the Messiah was born 7-5 B.C. which is at variance with the conclusions we
have reached. These particular years are extremely difficult, if not
impossible, to correlate with the time of the beginning of Yah'shua's
(Jesus') ministry as found in Luke 3:1-2 which is one of the reasons we
dismiss them as being far too early.
1. Herod the Great
The first conclusive fact that we have is that Yah'shua (Jesus) was born
whilst King Herod the Great was alive. Traditionally, scholars have tried
to narrow the limits of time for Messiah's birth by determining the likely
time of Herod's death. Our greatest source of data on this comes from the
Jewish historian, Josephus, even though much of the chronology of his
writings is disputed by some scholars, and especially the length of
Herod's reign. He is, however, our principal sourse of information, and in
general is thought to be very accurate by most scholars. One interesting
thing Josephus mentions is that Herod the Great died after an eclipse of
the moon and before a Passover (Josephus, Wars of the Jews I.32.5).
That eclipse has been identified to have taken place on the night of 12-13
March 4 B.C. using the older Julian calendar. However, this eclipse is not
conclusive evidence because two other eclipses have been identified - one
on 9 January 1 B.C. and another on 29 December 1 B.C. (both in the Julian
calendar). The second of these was visible when the moon rose over the
eastern horizon of Jerusalem in the evening, a time when many people in
Judea would have been awake to have noted the unusual phenomenon of a moon
rising in eclipse. As early as the 16th century, Joseph Scaliger, the
mastermind behind the Gregorian calendar reform and the Julian period used
by astronomers, decisively maintained that the death of Herod the Great
was connected with a 1 B.C. eclipse (Ernest L. Martin, The Celestial
Pageantry Dating of Christ's Birth, in Christianity Today,
vol.21, no.5, 3 December 1976, p.16).
"...Yah'shua (Jesus) was born in Bethlehem in Judea
during the time of King Herod...After Herod died, a malak (angel)
of Yahweh appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 'Get up, take
the child and His mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were
trying to take the child's life are dead'" (Matt.2:1, 19-20, NIV).
Obviously the death of Herod the Great is an important factor in trying to
determine the time of Messiah's birth but doubt remains as to the year of
his death. Our only real source of data is Josephus whom many scholars
believe to be ambiguous and unreliable, and we are left to make a choice
between the three aforementioned eclipses whilst at the same time trying
to decide whether Josephus got his facts correct. Whilst we can come to no
final conclusions we are certainly not excluded the possibility of a
spring birth of Messiah in the year 1 B.C.
2. Augustus Caesar
Augustus Caesar ruled as Roman emperor from 27 B.C. to A.D. 14 which
places his reign well within any probable date for Messiah's birth. No one
has ever found another record conclusively referring to the census (for
taxation purposes) around the year of Yah'shua's (Jesus') birth.
"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that
a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.." (Luke 2:1,
Senator P. Sulpicus Quirinius is now believed by scholars to have held
office as Governor of Syria on two separate occasions, though the dates of
these are disputed. A census is associated with each term of office, the
second one being mentioned in Acts 5:37. The concensus places the first
governorship between 6 and 4 B.C. (the term is disputed) and there are not
many scholars who believe it took place during 1 B.C. The ambiguity is
such, though, that scholars are able to marshall evidence for a term
between 4 and 1 B.C, and this is the opinion of Jack Finegan (Jack
Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology, Pinceton, NJ; Princeton
University Press, 1964, p.235). There is uncertainty amongst historians as
to the identity of the governor of Syria in 4-1 B.C. though there is none
for the periods 9-6 B.C. and 6-4 B.C. when it is known for certain that C.
Centius Saturninus and P. Quinctilius Varus were, respectively, governors
of Syria. Thus the concensus between biblical scholars that Messiah was
born sometime between 7 and 5 B.C. does violence to the scripture at Luke
2:2 and it is at this point that the searcher after truth must decide
either for the Word of Yahweh or for the fickle concensus of scholarly
"This was the first tax census that took place while
Quirinius was governor of Syria" (Luke 2:2, NIV).
Joseph & Mary registering for the census before Governor
Byzantine mosaic at the Chora Church, Constantinople
4. Shepherds in the Fields by
Whilst many commentators who have remarked on the impossibility of Messiah
being born on 25 December because of the shepherds have opted for an
autumnal birth, they have invariably overlooked one vital piece of
information which in my opinion gives us an important key to a spring
birth for the Messiah, namely the fact that spring is the lambing
season. In Israel and in surrounding nations lambing occurs over a two
week period from late March to early April. During this season the flocks
require the constant attention of their shepherds, who keep careful watch
over their sheep and their newborn for their own safety. At no other time
of the year are shepherds so closely tied to their flocks.
"And there were shepherds living out in the fields
near by, keeping watch over their flocks at night" (Luke 2:8, NIV).
Whilst it is true that the flocks are also under the shepherds' watchcare
during the summer and autumnal/fall months as well (they are outdoors from
late March to early November), it is by no means as demanding as in the
lambing season when predators are more likely to exploit the vunerability
of both sheep and lambs. We should also recall the prophetic events
surrounding Yah'shua's (Jesus') birth and how it was that Herod the Great,
that human predator, attempted to massacre all the newborn children of
Bethlehem following Messiah's reported birth (Matt.2:16-20).
Considering how the seasons of the year affect the behaviour of the sheep
and the shepherds, it seems reasonable to conclude that the shepherds in
the Judean hills would be "keeping watch over their
flocks at night" in the spring and that, therefore, spring was a
likely time for the birth of Messiah. The early morning of 6 April falls
during the lambing season.
5. The Star of Bethlehem
For centuries astronomers have attempted to identify the star that
heralded the birth of Messiah and some have even speculated that the new
star could have been a supernova as this can be a hundred million times
brighter than a middle-sized star, which may make it appear even brighter
than the moon. About a dozen novae are observed by astronomers but ones
that are visible to the naked eye are rare.
"Where is the one who has been born king of the
Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him"
"..the star they had seen in the east went ahead of
them until it stopped over the place where the child was"
Another explanation for the star of Bethlehem was made by the German
astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler in the early 17th century.
Observing the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on 17 December 1603, he
calculated that the same planets had come into allignment in 7 B.C. as
well. Since then other persons have speculated that the 'New Star' could
have been the triple conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in the
constellation of Pisces during October, 7 B.C.
However, conjunctions are temporary, and don't move around and then
suddenly stand still. Nor, for that matter, do supernovae. Herod's
surprise at being told of the star by the magi suggests that the Star of
Bethelehem may not have been particularly large or spectacular. More
likely this was an astronomical phenomenon deliberately created by Yahweh
as a sign. More than that we cannot say.
Additional Evidence from Dr.
This is one of the easiest references in the New Testament to fix in time.
Most historians identify 17 August A.D. 14 (Julian calendar), as the
beginning of the reign of Tiberias Caesar, the second emperor of Rome.
Luke tells us that John the Baptist began his ministry in the 15th year of
the reign of Tiberius. This suggests that sometime between A.D. 27 and
A.D. 29 John "went into all the country around the
Jordan, preaching a baptism of teshuvah (repentance) for the
forgiveness of sins" (Luke 3:3, NIV). Though this information is
useful it is not conclusive in determining the the time of Messiah's
ministry as well as the year of His birth.
"In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius
Caesar - when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod Tetrach of
Galilee, his brother Philip Tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and
Lysanias Tetrarch of Abilene - during the High Priesthood of Annas and
Caiphas, the word of Elohim (God) came to John son of Zechariah in the
desert" (Luke 3:1-2, NIV).
Luke gives us another important reference from which it is possible to
approximate the time of the birth of Messiah:
From these passages we understand that John was baptising in the 15th year
of Tiberius' reign and that Messiah was about 30. These two references
make it possible to approximate the year of Messiah's birth. Historians
recognise Tiberius as an important figure in the history of Rome and are
able to define within a tolerance of at least two years the timing of the
15th year of his reign. Luke records that Messiah was about 30 when He was
baptised. These chronological references would support 1 B.C. as the year
of the birth of our Master. On the other hand, these references from Luke
contradict the popular thesis that Messiah was born sometime in 7-5 B.C.
"When all the people were being baptised, Yah'shua
(Jesus) was baptised too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened, and
the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) descended upon him in bodily form like a
dove. And a voice came down from heaven: 'You are My Son whom I love; with
You I am well pleased.' Now Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself was about 30 years
old when he began His ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of
Joseph" (Luke 3:21-23, NIV).
Passover and the Birth of
Table Showing the Birth of Messiah
as Observed in Israel in 1 B.C.
||Day of Week
||Judean Method of Reckoning
||Galilean & Pharisee Method of
|Vernal equinox, 9:30 am
Astronomical new moon occurs at
approximately 1:49 pm on Wednesday afternoon but is not observable until next sunrise.
Vernal equinox, 9:30 am
Chodesh begins at sunrise.
||Sunset for Sadducees and Judeans marks
beginning of day and month of Aviv
Sunrise for Galileans and Pharisees marks beginning of day and
month of Aviv
begins at Sunrise
|(The Torah requires all
healthy male Hebrews over 12 years of age and living within 90 miles
of the temple to celebrate Passover in Jerusalem. In addition,
Augustus Caesar has decreed that all the world should be taxed)
In afternoon Paschal lambs are slain at temple for
Galileans and Pharisees
Joseph & Mary arrive in Bethlehem 5 miles south
Galileans and Pharisees eat Passover meal at sunset
|Birth of Yah'shua occurs sometime during
In afternoon, Paschal lambs are slain at
temple for Sadducess and Judeans
Sadducees and Judeans eat Passover meal at
The First day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and High
Shabbat begin at sunset.
The First day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and High
Shabbat begin at sunrise.
Astronomical full moon, 2:21
7th and last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread
begins at sunset
7th and last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread
begins at sunrise
Circumcision of the Messiah child on 8th
7th and last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread
among Judeans and Sadducees
The table above shows the correlation among four calendars during the
spring of 1 B.C. The Julian and at least two different Jewish calendars
were in use at the time. The Gregorian calendar was not known or used in the 1st century,
being introduced in the mid 16th century by Pope Gregory XIII and has
since become the most common calendar throughout the world. The
Gregorian dates are calculated as if that calendar had existed at the
time of Messiah's birth. Our secular calendar, the Gregorian
calendar, would have identified the early morning of Messiah's birth as
6 April 1 B.C. The Julian calendar places the birth on 8 April 1 B.C. 
The dating of Messiah's birth in Jewish calendars of the first century is
unexpectedly symbolic. The birth of Messiah was recognised by the
normative Jews as having occurred on the night of Aviv 14, a time when the
Galileans and Pharisees were most likely celebrating the Passover meal.
The Passover was celebrated during the time of the full moon in the
spring. It was, and continues to be, an important celebration during the
Jewish year. Some pious Jews consider Passover an important time in the
future chronology of Israel. The Passover table currently includes a place
and cup of wine reserved for Elijah, whom the Jews expect some day to
return for the eating of the Passover meal. In the Messianic Evangelical
Passover celebration, the Passover table sometimes includes and place and
a cup of wine for Yah'shua (Jesus) for His Second Coming.
The fixing of the Hebrew Passover month to the spring lunar cycle of 1
B.C. shows that Messiah came into the world on Aviv 14 - the same
day, in the calendar of the Galileans, in which He ate the Last Supper,
and the same day, in the calendar of the Judeans, on which he died. The
birth of Messiah at the beginning of the Passover feast is of
significance. In the reckoning of Yahweh this was not coincidental. The
birth of the Messiah occurred at that time of the year when Yahweh's
covenant with Israel was most remembered and honoured by the Hebrews.
The Messiah came to earth to redeem His people at a time when remembrance
of Yahweh was uppermost in the minds of the Judeans.
There is an added symbolic significance of Messiah being born in the
lambing season, for not only was He born as the "Lamb of Elohim (God)" (Jn.1:36) but He died as the
"Lamb of Elohim (God) which taketh away the
sins of the world" (Jn.1:29) at about the same time.
The Passover birth of Messiah takes on greater meaning when we examine the
writings of the Hebrews. According to Jewish literature, Isaac, the only
son of Abraham and Sarah, was born on the first day of the Passover and
"at his birth the sun shone with unparalled
splendour, the like of which will only be seen at the time of the
Messiah's coming" (Isaac, Encyclopedia Judaica, Jerusalem:
Keter Publishing House, Ltd., 1971, pp.3-4). The suggestion here is that
the birth of Isaac was a prototype of the coming of the Messiah.
In addition, the Midrash Rabbah, a collection of rabbinic writings
commenting on the Tanakh (Old Testament) (Ibid., Midrash,
pp.1508-13), indicates that the Messiah would appear on Passover
(Midrash Rabbah - Exodus, S.M.Lehrman, trans., London: Soncino
Press, 1939, pp.227-28). Exodus 14:42 states that Passover is "a night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honour
Yahweh for the generations to come" (NIV). Midrash Rabbah
focusses on this verse and asks the question, "Why does He call it a night of watching?" The
answer then follows: "Because, on that night,
He performed great things for the righteous, just as He had wrought for
Israel in Egypt. On that night, He saved Hezekiah, Hanniah and his
companions, Daniel from the lion's den, and on that night Messiah and
Elijah will be made great (will appear)...'Let this (Passover) be a sign
to thee; and whenever thou seest this sign, know that I will soon come
Jewish tradition clearly links the (first) coming of Messiah to
Passover. This tradition has deep historical roots and appears to be
in perfect harmony with a revelation received by this ministry:
At the time of Messiah's birth hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of
Jews were in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover and renew their faith in
the Elohim (God) of their fathers. At no other time during the year would
Jerusalem be so crowded. The large crowds taxed the facilities of the city
"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, that the Son of
Man was born upon the sixth day of the month which ye call April, upon a
Thursday, at the third hour in the morning, in the year 1 B.C. (Aviv 14,
3760) by the [Gregorian] calendar"(Olive Branch, NC&C 301:1).
Is it any wonder that Joseph and Mary were unable to find appropriate
shelter? Bethlehem is about 5 miles south of the walls of Jerusalem, the
overflow Passover crowds had apparently filled even the city of David.
Luke tells us that Joseph and Mary were in Bethelehem because of Caesar's
census. It also appears that Joseph was commanded by his faith to be at
Jerusalem for the celebration of the Passover.
While in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to the Messiah at the beginning of
Israel's Passover feast, early in the morning at 3 a.m., at a time that in
her calendar, would bring great sorrow and grievous suffering 33 years
later; and at a time that, in the Creation Calendar, this is the end of
the second week of the biblical New Year - a time for new birth, new life,
new committment, a new beginning.
The Qumran Witness
At the time of Yah'shua (Jesus) there were several Jewish sects, each
following a ritual practice that they felt most correctly satisfied the
Law of Moses. Among these sects were the Essenes, about whom Josephus,
Pliny the Elder, and other historians wrote. More recently we have
received from the Dead Sea Scrolls significantly more information about
the practices and beliefs of a religious community that most likely
consisted of Essenes. The Dead Sea Scrolls have increased our
understanding of the events and thinking of people in the Holy Land during
the first century.
The land of Judea at the time of Messiah was full of anticipation and
expectation. Many Judeans awaited the arrival of the Messiah and the
redemption of Israel. Members of the Judean sect near the Dead Sea at
Qumran were faithfully waiting for the coming of the Anointed One
(Messiah). These people had great respect for the flow and meaning of
time. We read from their Manual of Discipline: "They must not deviate by a single step from carrying out
the orders (commandments) of Elohim (God) at the times appointed for them;
they must neither advance the statutory times nor postpone the prescribed
seasons" (T.H.Gaster, Dead Sea Scriptures, NY, Doubleday &
Co., Inc., 1964, p.47).
The calendar used in Qumran at the Dead Sea was different from the lunisolar calendar used by other Judeans
living in the Holy Land (Talmon, The Calendar Reckoning Sect). This
religious community in the desert used a calendar based on the week. There
is uncertainty about the exact operation of their calendar, but their year
apparently had 52 weeks, or 364 days, and their day began at sunrise. The
first day of each month for them was always a Wednesday. This meant that
their Passover would also occur each year on a Wednesday.
Why would the Dead Sea Scroll sect have insisted on starting their years
and months as well as observing their Passover on a Wednesday - the fourth
day? Probably because they believed that Yahweh created "two great lights" on the fourth day, "the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light
to rule the night"? (Gen.1:16, KJV). (See, Sun, Moon and Stars: When Were They
Created? which explains the Qumran error). Did these dissident
Judahites want to start their months as well as their year on the fourth
day of the week because that was the day on which they believed the sun
and the moon were made, or became visible during the creation? There is as
yet no conclusive evidence why those people maintained, even in the face
of death, a calendar based on the week.
The people of Qumran were in the desert waiting for an event to take place
in the future, which they called "the time of
visitation" (Gaster, Op.cit., p.3; see also Gezer Vermes,
The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, rev.ed., NY, Penguin, 1968, p.13).
The covenantors of Qumran looked forward to the arrival of a prophet "like unto Moses" (Dt.34:10). The Messianic
hope of these people still burns as one reads their scrolls. The Qumran
sect went to the desert to wait the pasaage of time, which they chose to
measure differently than did the main body of Judeans. Did they start
their year on the Roman Wednesday because they expected the Messiah to
come on that day of the week?
When we examine Messiah's birth we note that He came at a time which would
have been recognised by the people of the Dead Sea Scrolls as Wednesday,
and that could likely have been their Passover. (One should bear in mind
that their days began at sunrise, as did those of the Pharisees and
There appears to be a harmony and precision in the timing of Messiah's
birth. The believers in the Judean desert at the turn of the first century
were looking for harmony in Yahweh's time and for the coming of the
promised Saviour. It seems that they would have recognised the night of
5-6 April 1 B.C. as a night of watching, a night of expectation, and a
"time of visitation".
The Passover and the
The Crucifixion and Resurrection of
Messiah and the Dating of Passover in A.D. 33
||Day of Week
||Judean Method of Reckoning
||Galilean & Pharisee Method of Reckoning
|Rosh Chodesh begins at Sunrise
||Sunset for Sadducees and Judeans marks
beginning of day and month of Aviv
Sunrise marks beginning of day and month
|Shabbat begins at Sunrise
|Triumphal entry of Yah'shua into
In afternoon Paschal lambs are slain at temple for
Galileans & Pharisees
Messiah eats the Last
Supper with His apostles after sunset.
Galileans and Pharisees eat Passover meal at
Yah'shua suffers in
Gethsemane during, and is seized and arrested this night.
Talmidim (disciples) scatter, and Peter denies Yah'shua
before the cock crows.
crucifixion, death and burial of Messiah
In afternoon, Paschal lambs are slain at temple.
Sunset marks the
beginning of 14 Aviv
Pharisees rush to bury Yah'shua before Sunset in accordance with Father Yah's commandment in Deut 21:21-23. Yah'shua's body is prepared and placed in tomb.
High Shabbat and First
day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread
Messiah visits the spirit world (1
Sunset marks the
beginning of 15 Aviv
Feast of First
Yah'shua resurrected as
Father Yah's Firstfruit from the grave.
The Gospels testify that Yah'shua (Jesus) died on a cross and that He died at a time of sacrifice.
He died when the Judeans sacrificed their Paschal lambs and when the
children of Israel remembered the night of redemption when the
malak (angel) of death passed over the Israelite houses in Egypt
and smote the firstborn of the Egyptians. He died as the last great
sacrifice, to atone for the sins of the world and to redeem the righteous.
"The animals you choose must be one-year males
without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or goats. Take care
of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the
community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight" (Ex.12:5-6,
""And when your children ask you, 'What does this
ceremony mean to you?' then tell them, 'It is the Passover sacrifice to
the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared
our homes when He struck down the Egyptians". Then the people bowed down
and worshipped. The Israelites did just what the Lord commanded Moses and
Aaron" (Ex.12:26-28, NIV).
"Messiah our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed"
(1 Cor.5:7, NIV)
The Gospels, fortunately, give great attention to the events surrounding
the atonement, death, and resurrection of Messiah. Almost one-third of the
chapters in the Gospels contain the account of the last week of Messiah's
life. There is probably no week in the first century about which we have
more information than the week during which Messiah died. The events of
that week are commemorated by more people than the events of any other
week of the past. Hundreds of thousands of Christian and Messianic
congregations around the world partake of the Lord's Supper or partake of the Pesach Seder and remember the atoning
sacrifice of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). Indeed, Messiah
commanded us to remember always the events of the week of His atonement,
death, and resurrection.
A knowledge of the calendar traditions of the Judeans at the time of
Messiah helps to identify the probable date of the last great sacrifice.
The relation of the spring lunar cycle to the timing of Passover and the
seven-day week cycle over the last 2,000 years indicate that Friday, 3
April A.D. 33 (Julian calendar), is a day that satisfies the New Testament
account of the crucifixion.
Yahweh gave to Moses the Passover, which symbolised the offering of the
Lamb of Elohim (God) and marked in the Hebrew calendar for one and half
millennia the time that Messiah would die. Moses established this calendar
according to the cycles of the sun and the moon and fixed the new moon in the spring as the "beginning of months" (Ex.12:2, KJV), which was
known as Aviv and later became known among the post-exilic Jews as
the month of Aviv (from the Babylonian Avivnu). In the
afternoon of the fourteenth day of that month the Paschal lamb was slain,
and, after sunset, the Passover meal was eaten (Ex.12).
During the time of Messiah the Judeans understood that the calendar and feasts given to them by Moses were essential to
the practice of their religion. There were, however, differences of
opinion as to what reckoning of time most completely satisfied the
requirements of the Law of Moses. The Essenes, as we have already noted,
appeared to have followed a calendar based on the week. The normative
Judeans followed a lunisolar calendar but had differing views about when a
day should begin. The Sadducees, the Judean aristocracy (who evolved into
the modern Karaites), favoured a reckoning of time in which the day went
from sunset to sunset (Harold W. Hoehner, Chronoligical Aspects
of the Life of Christ, Grand Rapids, Zondervan Publishing House, 1977,
pp.81-90). The Galileans and Pharisees appear to have followed a
sunrise-to-sunrise scheme for seeting the limits of their days. These
differences may seem to be of little significance, but they become
important in harmonising the Synoptic accounts of the Passover and Last
Supper with the account of the Passover and crucifixion found in John.
At the time of Messiah the Judeans' lives orbited around the temple and
the Sanhedrin. The temple was the place of sacrifice, and the Sanhedrin
told the Judeans when they should sacrifice. It would have been a mockery
to Yahweh to offer an untimely sacrifice. The Law of Moses gave them the
order of the calendar and the method of marking the time of sacrifice.
The Judeans and Sadducees most likely determined the beginning of each
month by the direct observation of a thin lunar crescent over Jerusalem in
the western sky just after sunset, the practice brought back from Babylon,
the original method being lunar
conjunction. At that time the Sanhedrin sanctified the month and
announced its beginning with the sounding of temple trumpets and the
lighting of fires on the tops of hills.
In order to keep the Passover in the spring, the Sanhedrin periodically
inserted a thirteenth lunar month before Aviv. The intercalation of an
extra month was apparently made by following the Metonic cycle of the
Babylonians and Greeks or by observing astronomical conditions in Judea.
The celebration of Passover was kept in the spring also to ensure that the
barley - the first green heads of grain - would be ready for the Feast of the Firstfruits of the harvest.
This feast followed Passover "on the day after the
sabbath" (Lev.23:11, NIV).
Both sacred and secular history emphasise that the sighting of the new
moon in the spring would trigger the necessary preparations for the
Passover among the Judahite people. The first day of Aviv for the Judeans
and Sadducees seems to have begun in the evening when the crescent of the
spring moon appeared above the western horizon, though as mentioned abive,
it was not always so. The beginning of the 15th day of Aviv for the
Judeans and Sadducees occurred at sunset and marked for them the time for
eating the Passover meal.
The first day of Aviv for the Galileans and the Pharisees seems to have
been at sunrise after a moonless night - about 12 hours before the
calendar commission of the Sanhedrin witnessed the crescent of the new
moon. The Galileans and Pharisees would then count 14 sunrises into the
month of Aviv. On the afternoon of their 14th day, they would sacrifice
their Passover lambs. These calendar traditions imply that the
Galileans and Pharisees sacrificed their lambs exactly one day before the
Judeans and Sadducees. This reckoning also suggests that the
Galileans and Pharisees would eat their Passover meal a night before the
Judeans and Sadducees.
Matthew, Mark and Luke record that the Saviour with His apostles ate the
Passover meal the night before His death (Mt.26:2,17-19; Mk.14:1,12-16;
Lk.22:1,7-8,13-15). There is no doubt that Messiah considered the Last
Supper His Passover meal. We read in Luke 22:14-16 the following: "When the hour came, Yah'shua (Jesus) and His apostles
reclined at the table. And He said to them, 'I have eagerly desired to eat
this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it
again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of Elohim (God)'"
All four Gospels testify that Messiah died in the afternoon of the day
following the night of His Last Supper. Moreover, John indicates that for
those who sought to destroy Messiah's life, the morning of 'Good Friday'
was a time before their eating of the Passover meal. John 18:28 states:
"Then the Judeans led Yah'shua (Jesus) from Caiaphas
to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to
avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Judeans did not enter the palace; they
wanted to be able to eat the Passover" (NIV).
There is no contradiction between the synoptic account of Messiah's
Passover meal and the account of John in which we learn that those who
sought the life of Messiah had not yet eaten the Passover meal even though
the Saviour and His apostles had. It appears that Yah'shua (Jesus) and His
disciples followed the practice of the Galileans in setting the beginning
of the day at sunrise, and that those who sought to kill Messiah followed
the custom of the Judeans by fixing sunset at the beginning of the day.
These different systems used among the first century Jews resulted in two
different nights for the eating of Passover.
In addition, the New Testament might indicate a sunrise-to-sunrise
reckoning among the disciples of Messiah. Matthew 28:1 states that the
women came to the tomb "after the Sabbath, at
dawn on the first day of the week" (NIV). Acts 4:3 also might
indicate that sunrise marked for the apostles the beginning of the day.
The chronology of our Master's ministry as found in the New Testament,
particularly in the Gospel of Luke, points to the year A.D. 33 as the time
of our Master's death. In that year the seven-day weekly cycle and the
fixing of the month of Aviv to the spring moon conform to the biblical
account of the crucifixion and resurrection. At the very hour of Messiah's
sacrificial death, Judeans and Sadducees were slaying their Passover lambs
at the temple.
The symbolism of sacrifice instituted by Moses was literally fulfilled, in
Messiah's death, in accordance with the ritual and timing Moses had
Messiah Visits the Spirit
After His death on Friday afternoon, Messiah's disembodied spirit visited
the world of the dead to preach the Gospel and/or announce His victory
over sin and death.
"Messiah died for sins once for all, the righteous
for the unrighteous, to bring you to Elohim (God). He was put to death in
the body but made alive by the Ruach (Spirit), through whom also He went
and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when Elohim
(God) waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being
built" (1 Pet.3:18-20a, NIV).
Firstfruits of the
Yahweh, through Moses, commanded the children of Israel that when they had
arrived in the Promised Land they were to offer the firstfuits of the
field after Passover "on the day after the
Sabbath" (Lev.23:11, NIV). At that time the Cohen Gadol
(High Priest) waved before the temple altar a sheaf of barley. On 5 April
33 A.D. (Julian calendar), the Jews celebrated the harvest of the
firstfruits, and on that same day Messiah rose from the dead and became
"the first fruits of those who have fallen
asleep" (1 Cor.15:20). Once again we witness how the Law of Moses
gave to Israel a feast, fixed in the Hebrew calendar, that symbolised what
was to have been one of the most important events in the history of
Yahweh's people and all others who would believe: the resurrection of
Yah'shua (Jesus), the confessed Messiah of Israel.
"'When you enter the land I am going to give you and
you reap its harvest, bring to the priests a sheaf of the first grain you
harvest, He is to wave the sheaf before Yahweh so that it will be accepted
on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the
Sabbath'" (Lev.23:10-11, NIV)
"Messiah indeed has been raised from the dead, the
firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep (died)" (1 Cor.15:20,
"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death
(grave), is your sting?" (1 Cor.15:55, NIV).
This, then, is the basis of our belief in a Passover (Gregorian 6 April, 1
B.C.) birth of Messiah. And we see how everything begins and ends in the
Passover. The birth and death are a compound in one, for Yah'shua (Jesus)
was born, as He declared, to die, born in the lambing season as the Lamb
of Elohim (God) to be offered as the Paschal Lamb.
 John C. Lefgren, April Sixth, Deseret, 1980 (for first
 Ella Oakman, Blog, 12.2011 (for second edition)
 When Was Yah'shua Born?
 Springtime for Yah'shua: The Tavnith
of Messiah's Birth Revealed
Return to Index of Articles on Messiah's True Birthday
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Last updated on 28 October 2013
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