Originally this study began as a means to establish where we were in the sabbatical cycle. I started looking into this for several reasons. First of all I am bit of a prophecy buff and really enjoy digging into end-times topics so knowing where we are in the scheme of things has always been a quest of mine. However the main reason was that like many, I really enjoy having a garden, and I above all I want to be obedient to my Heavenly Father in as many ways as I can. So the question was, can we plant a garden or do we need to let the land rest, and how do we know?
That seems like a simple question, but for someone that is on the outside of “Jewish” tradition and chooses to stay there for many reasons, it is sometimes difficult to find the keys to questions like these. Unlike determining the weekly sabbath, the 7th year sabbath is much harder to pin down. However, we do have several resources at our disposal that can help us determine where we are.
Josephus happens to be a great resource as well as a few rabbinical writings (which by the way for a non Jew are hard to find, let alone search through).
The following is what I found:
- 135BC – Antiquities of the Jews’ Book 13:8:1 The year 135-134 BCE (or the year 177 of the Seleucid Era) was noted to be a 7th year by Josephus: “… there came around the year in which the Jews are wont to remain inactive, for they observe this custom every seventh year, just as on the seventh day.”
The same year was also noted to be a year of ‘rest’ in ‘Wars of the Jews’. Josephus states the following: “the year of rest came on, upon which the Jews rest every seventh year as they do on every seventh day”.
- 44BC – Antiquities, Book 14:10:5-6 – The decree stated when Caius Caesar was consul for the fifth time he ordered in the 2nd year of the current land-use agreement. If the current year (44-43 BCE) did correspond to the cited 2nd year of the land-use agreement then it might be possible to interpret this passage to mean that the respective year corresponded to a 7th year
- 37BC – Antiquities of the Jews’, 14:16:2, 15:1:2 his year–the year when Herod was declared king at Jerusalem–is referred to as a ‘hebdomatikon’ year or a Sabbatical year
- 67CE – Seder Olam, 30 Rabbi Jose (Yose) ben Khalapha commented that the year prior to the destruction of the Second Temple was a Sabbatical year
B. Taan., 29a The Taanith indicates that the Second Temple was destroyed in a post-Sabbatical year
It actually turns out that Jewish traditions somewhat confirm these dates making the last Sabbatical year 2015, except they start the year in the fall at Yom Teruah which goes against the Torah. So take it with a grain of salt and test everything against Scripture.
So from the data that we have gathered and confirmed, we can now overlay this onto the priestly course chart and determine where we are in the scheme of things right, well sort of…
We can determine roughly what part of a Sabbatical cycle we are in i.e 1st year, 5th year etc., but what about where we are in the Jubilee? And what about the courses themselves? Well that’s a bit trickier. For that we will need some very specific data to narrow in on the results. And would you know it, the Gospel accounts give us everything that we need to know, and it centers around the birth of our Messiah.
But before we dive into the Gospel details, lets go over a few things that we do know regarding history and the birth of our Messiah.
- Yeshua was not born on a sabbatical year because the Jews were paying taxes that year and they had an agreement with Rome to not levy taxes on the 7th year
- King Harrod the Great died in 4BC just after issuing the decree to kill the children in Bethlehem and his own eldest son Antipater
- Based on the above we can run on the assumption that Yeshua’s birth occurred sometime in 4BC or before
- Jerusalem was slam packed with people upon Joseph & Mary’s arrival, this could indicate it was during a pilgrimage feast
Diving into the Gospels
“And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,” (Luke 1:26)
The 6th Biblical month equates August/September on our Gregorian calendars.
“And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.” (Luke 1:36)
So we also see that during the 6th Biblical month that Elizabeth was also in her 6th month of pregnancy.
Using the priestly courses chart we can actually trace it back to the very time that Zachariah served in the temple according to his division. (Luke 1:5). This is where having a good understanding the priestly courses really helps in narrowing down this as we can actually pinpoint using the courses when he served in the 11th or 12th Biblical month preceding the conception of John the Baptist further validating the account.
Assuming that Mary conceived shortly after her encounter with the angel, (which she did see Luke 1:39) it’s just simple math from there.
6+9=15 and 15-12=3
So if she conceived in the 6th Biblical month, 9 months later brings us to the 3rd month of the following year or May/June on our Gregorian calendars.
Interesting to note is this also coincides exactly with the Biblical Feast of Shavuot or Pentecost which falls on the 15th of the 3rd Biblical month.
According to the Dead Sea Scrolls, Shavuot was the time of renewal and when the Covenant between man and YHVH was also renewed yearly. It’s also the same time that the Torah was spoken from Sinai after the exodus, and the same time that the Ruach (Holy Spirit) was given to the apostles. And according to Jubilees it is the time Noah made his first offering upon leaving the ark making a covenant with Yah, and it was the same time that Isaac was born (who was to be a type or picture of our Messiah).
So I will ask you this. What did Yeshua do? That’s right, He renewed the covenant through His blood!… Is your mind blown yet?
So based upon this information it is safe to say that Yeshua Messiah was not born on December 25th, or on the feast of Trumpets or Sukkot as some suggest, but rather during the feast of Shavuot, and between the years 6 & 5 BC. I personally hold closer to 5BC simply because the timing of events that happen afterwards regarding His ministry, but its definitely not something I am dogmatic about.
Now you know…