By Wayne Turgeon
We are quickly approaching the biggest holiday of the year—Christmas. This event is of indisputably pagan origin. December 25 is traditionally used by both ancient and modern Gentiles to worship the “birth” of their sun god. Now we would briefly like to present proof that Jesus Christ was definitely not born on December 25, but instead, sometime in the autumn.
There is much evidence available on this subject; but after the dust of studious research has cleared, the exact date of Christ’s birth still does not appear. One is left with the impression that God does not want people to celebrate such an occasion!
A strong case for thinking that the season of Christ’s birth most likely occurred in the autumn appears in Luke 2:8. Here we see that the sheep were still out in the fields at night. Some scholars argue that this refers to temple sheep, but that is not what this scripture states. Historically, winters were more severe in the land of Palestine than they are today, with frequent heavy snowfall not uncommon. Flocks were traditionally kept in various forms of shelters from about mid-October to mid-March.
Clarke’s Commentary stated about this verse: “It was a custom among the Jews to send out their sheep to the deserts, about the passover, and bring them home at the commencement of the first rain: during the time they were out, the shepherds watched them night and day. As the passover occurred in the spring, and the first rain began early in the month of Marchesvan, which answers to part of our October and November, we find that the sheep were kept out in the open country during the whole of the summer. And as these shepherds had not yet brought home their flocks, it is a presumptive argument that October had not yet commenced, and that, consequently, our Lord was not born on the 25th of December, when no flocks would be out in the fields; nor could He have been born later than September, as the flocks were still in the fields by night. On this very ground the nativity in December should be given up. The feeding of the flocks by night in the fields is a chronological fact, which casts considerable light upon this disputed point …. The time in which Christ was born has been considered a subject of great importance among Christians. However, the matter has been considered of no moment by Him who inspired the evangelists; as not one hint is dropped on the subject, by which it might be possible even to guess nearly to the time, except the chronological fact mentioned above.”
Another piece to the puzzle is the fact that John the Baptist was six months older than his cousin Jesus (see Luke 1:26-27, 36). Biblical evidence tells us that John was conceived about mid-June and was therefore born in late March. Why? Because John’s father, Zacharias, was serving in the temple during the priestly course of Abia, or as it is referred in the Old Testament, Abijah (1 Chronicles 24:10), when the angel appeared to him to bring him the great news of his son’s arrival (Luke 1:5). (This is worth a study of and by itself. When sequencing these courses, the priests would serve a common course with the other priests in addition to their own during the holy day seasons.) Add six months to this time and Jesus’ birth must have occurred in mid-September, or at least sometime in early autumn.
Further support for this assertion is that Jerusalem and the surrounding towns were very crowded with visitors at the time that Jesus was born—His parents had to take refuge in a stable for there was no room at the inn. Scholars who do not know about (or believe in) God’s master plan as portrayed by His annual holy days, attribute this mass gathering solely for the purpose of collecting taxes after the fall harvest. What they are missing is that many people filled Jerusalem at the time of the fall holy day season. These autumn festivals took place in the seventh month of the sacred year (Leviticus 23), corresponding to our September-October. Luke 2:41 and John 7:1-10 show that it was the custom for Jesus’ parents to travel from Nazareth to Jerusalem for this sacred gathering.
These are just a few of the convincing proofs that Jesus was born sometime in the early autumn, not in the dead of winter.