Many Bible believing scholars believe Jesus was born during the Feast of Tabernacles. Matthew Henry states: “It is supposed by many that our blessed Savior was born much about the time of this (Jewish) holiday; when He left His mansions of light above to tabernacle among us (John 1:1), and He dwelt in booths. And the worship of God under the New Testament is prophesied of under the notion of keeping the feast of tabernacles, (Zechariah 14:16). For, (1) The Gospel of Christ teaches us to dwell in tabernacles, to sit loose to this world, as those that have here no continuing city, but by faith, and hope and holy contempt of present things, to go out to Christ without the camp, (Hebrews 13:13-14). (2) It teaches us to rejoice before the Lord our God. Those are the circumcision, Israelites indeed, that always rejoice in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:3). And the more we are taken off from this world the less liable we are to the interruption of our joys.”
The Bible does not specifically say the date of Jesus’ birth. However, the worldly tradition of December 25th is wrong because it is a winter month and the scriptures speak of the sheep being in pasture (Luke 2:8). A study of the time of the conception of John the Baptist reveals he was conceived about Sivan 30, the eleventh week, [our June 22].
When Zechariah was ministering in the temple, he received an announcement from God of a coming son. The eighth course of Abia, when Zechariah was ministering, was the week of Sivan 12 to 18 (Killian n.d.). Adding forty weeks for a normal pregnancy reveals that John the Baptist was born on or about Passover (Nisan14) [March 25]. We know six months after John’s conception, Mary conceived Jesus (Luke 1:26-33). Therefore, Jesus would have been conceived six months later in the month of Kislev. Kislev 25 [Dec. 25] is celebrated by Jews today as Hanukkah. Was the “light of the world” conceived on the festival of lights?
Starting at Hanukkah, which begins Kislev 25 and continues for eight days, and counting through the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy, one arrives at the approximate time of the birth of Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles (the early fall of the year) [late September or early October]. [Wouldn’t it make sense that the gospel that we preach is supposed to be “according to the scriptures?” (1 Cor. 15)]
During the Feast of Tabernacles, God required all male Jews to come to the Temple in Jerusalem. The many pilgrims coming to Jerusalem for the festivals would spill over to the surrounding towns. (Bethlehem is about five miles from Jerusalem). Joseph and Mary were unable to find a room at the inn because of the influx of so many pilgrims. They may have been given shelter in a booth [sukkah], which is built during a seven day period each year accompanying the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. Due to the difficulties during travel, it was common for the officials to declare tax time during a temple feast (Luke 2:1). [In an agrarian economy harvest time is when the farmers have monies so they can be taxed!]
We know our Messiah was made manifest into a temporary body when He came to earth. Is it possible He also was put in a temporary dwelling upon His birth? The fields would have been dotted with these backyard Sukkoths during this harvest time to temporarily shelter their animals. It may be of some interest that the Hebrew word for “stable” in Genesis 33:17 is translated Succoth, (“And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built him an house, and made booths for his cattle: therefore the name of the place is called Succoth.”) “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in a manger; [animal feed trough found regularly where cattle are kept] because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)
Joseph and Mary soon took the child and flew to Egypt and remained there until they were told by God that Herod was dead. Joseph and Mary brought the baby Jesus into Jerusalem forty days from his birth for Mary’s purification and the child’s dedication. (According to Torah this had to be done within forty days of the birth of a male child –not doing so is considered a sin) [see Leviticus 12:2-8]. This indicates that Herod died as recorded in the scriptures, within the same forty days, because as long as Herod was alive, they had to be very cautious not to appear at the Temple at Jerusalem. (According to the historian Josephus’ calculations, Herod’s death occurred during Autumn in the fourth year before the Common Era [4 b.c.])
Later in His life, is it possible Jesus celebrated His birthday on a mountain with three of His disciples? In contrast to birthday parties, such as Herod’s where people were killed for entertainment, His would have been a celebration of life. On the Feast of Succoth (Tabernacles), Jesus entertained two special friends that specifically appeared to speak with Him. Moses and Elijah, from centuries past, representatives of the Law (Torah) and the Prophets, appeared on the mount of Transfiguration and talked with Jesus. One disciple (Peter) suggested building three tabernacles (succoths) for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Could it be because it was required for the festival? Peter may not have understood that these three were fulfilling that which the festival symbolized: saints dwelling in their temporary tabernacle (succoth) of flesh, awaiting their eternal resurrection temples as promised in Bible prophecy.
Today, a number of Christians are celebrating Christ’s birth during the Feast of Tabernacles, complete with decorations and even strings of electric lights on their succoths, with music celebrating Jesus’ first Advent. Is there any other way to legitimately show your love for God and that He has made you different from the world?
1 Corinthians 6:20 “For ye are bought with a price: therefor glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
1 Corinthians 7:23 “Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.”
James 4:4 “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
2 Corinthians 6:14 “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?”
2 Corinthians 6:17 “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”