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Letter: Myth-busting the birthplace of Jesus Christ

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Posted: Saturday, January 11, 2014 12:00 am

Last month, Chad Eric Donley wrote letters concerning myths relating to Christmas. Last week, my good friend William Van Amber Fields wrote a letter thanking Mr. Donley, and noting that I had written a letter concerning the time of the year of Yeshua’s birth.

I’d like to note some other myths.

Matthew’s gospel has the messiah being born in Bethlehem during the reign of Herod the Great, and later being visited by wise men or magi from the east. These men were very likely Jewish Bible scholars from the Babylon area, since they were the only ones with the knowledge and interest in Biblical prophesy concerning the birth of a messiah. Herod died in 4 B.C.E., so Yeshua was likely born that same year.

Luke’s gospel, on the other hand, has problems in the way it is written. This is probably due to errors in copying and translating from different languages. Luke has Yosef and Miryam traveling to Bethlehem to register for the worldwide census. This census, taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria, was in fact limited to Syria and Judea (Josephus, Book 18, Chapter 1) and was taken in 6/7 C.E. (“A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ,” vol. 1, page 357). This was at least 10 years after Yeshua was born. Yosef and Miryam didn’t go to Bethlehem because of the census, so why did they go?

In my letter of Dec. 2004, I stated that Yeshua was born around the middle of the Hebrew month of Tishrei (September/October). Yosef and Miryam went to Jerusalem to celebrate Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles (see: Deut. 16:16). Since there were tens of thousands descending upon Jerusalem, most of them had to settle outside of the walls of the city. Bethlehem was a few miles south of Jerusalem, and since there were so many people visiting the area, they couldn’t find a place at an inn.

Popular teaching is that they found shelter in a stable where animals are kept. There were no stables, since it wasn’t the practice of the people to have stables for animals. Yosef and Miryam lived in their sukkuh, a temporary shelter, which all families brought with them, and that is where the Messiah was born (see: Lev. 23:42).

Cliff Shirk


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