The key is symbolically hidden in Rev. 12:1-5: “A great sign (astronomical) appeared in heaven (2nd heaven, the sky); a woman (constellation Virgo, the Virgin, is the only sign of a Woman which exists along the ecliptic) clothed with the sun (the Supreme Father is mid-bodied in Virgo), and the moon (also a symbol for a Woman--see Gen. 37:9-10) under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars (in Norton’s Star Atlas there are 12 visible stars around Virgo’s head); and she was with child (Virgin Mary pregnant with Jesus); and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth. And another sign (astronomical) appeared in heaven: and behold a great red dragon (the constellation Hydra, “whose length stretches 1/3 of the way around the whole zodiacal sphere, completely expelled from the places into which he had intruded, fleeing now for his life, while the great Lion with claws and jaws extended, bounds in terrific fury to seize the foul monster’s neck,” Seiss, The Gospel in the Stars, p. 135) having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven (fall of angels), and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth (in the person of Herod the Great), so that when she gave birth he might devour her. And she gave birth to a son (Christ), a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, and her child was caught up to God (ascension) and to His throne.
The Astronomical synchronism of this sign in the year of Christ’s birth--3 B.C.
Virgo occupies, in body form, a space of about 50° along the ecliptic. (The head of the Woman actually bridges some 10° into the previous sign of Leo and her feet overlap about 10° into the following sign of Libra, the Scales.) In the year of Christ’s birth, the Sun entered the head-position of the Woman about August 13, and exited her feet about October 2. But the apostle John saw the scene when the Sun “clothed” the Woman (which is to say--when the Sun was mid-bodied), and this happens over about a 20-day period each year, which in 3 B.C. was from about August 27 to September 15.
If John in the Book of Revelation were associating the birth of Christ with he period when the Sun is mid-bodied to the Woman, then Christ would have been born within this 20 day period. From the point of view of the Magi back in their home in Babylon, this would have been the only logical sign under which the Jewish Messiah might be born. Especially if He were to be born of a virgin. (Even today, astrologers recognize that the sign of Virgo is the one which has reference to a messianic world ruler to be born of a virgin. Devore, Encyclopdeia of Astrology, p. 366.)
The key to the very day of Jesus’ birth is the words, “and the moon under her feet.” The word “under” signifies that the Woman’s feet were positioned just over the Moon. Since the feet of Virgo represent the last 7° of the constellation, (in the time of Christ this would have been between about 180° and 187° along the ecliptic), the Moon has to be positioned somewhere under the 7° arc. But the Moon also has to be in that exact location when the Sun is mid-bodied to Virgo. In the year 3 B.C., these two factors came into precise agreement for less than two hours, as observed from Palestine, on September 11.[i] The precise arrangement began about 6:15 p.m. (sunset), and lasted until 7:45 p.m. (moonset). This is the only day in the whole year that this could have taken place. One day before (Sept. 10), the Moon was located mid-calf, while one day beyond (Sept. 12) the moon had moved so far beyond the feet of the Virgin that it was positioned at least 25 diameters of the Moon to the east of her feet.
This was the situation in the heavens when the angel announced Christ’s birth to the shepherds (Lk. 2:8-11). Apparently, Jesus was born in the evening, and Rev. 12 shows that it was a New Moon day (when the moon 1st appears as a thin crescent and the 1st day of the month), meaning it was Tishri 1, also known as Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
> Gabriel appears to Zechariah in the Temple
> Massing of planets Mars, Venus, & Jupiter in Gemini
> Conjunction of Mars & Venus
> Conjunction of Venus & Jupiter
> Conjunction of Jupiter & Mars; Moon also enters Gemini
> Zechariah returns home & John is conceived who “will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb”
> Conjunction of Jupiter & Sun in Gemini
> Gabriel appears to Mary in Nazareth.
> Conception of Jesus Christ
> Mary travels to Judea to see her cousin Elizabeth who is 6 mo. pregnant.
> Mary returns to Nazareth
> John the Baptist is born to Zechariah and Elizabeth.
> The Magi begin noting their observations of the activity of Jupiter (the “king planet").
> Jupiter and Venus(the “morning star") in conjunction in Leo (the “lion," associated with the tribe of Judah).
> Venus circles Mercury (the “messenger of the gods”)
> Birth of Jesus Christ
> Sun in Virgo(the “woman") with the "Moon under her feet"
> The Magi continue to observe the activity of Jupiter, noting three occasions in which Jupiter and Regulus(the “king star") are in conjunction in Leo.
> Conjunction of Jupiter and Venus as evening stars in Leo
> Massing of planets Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, and Venus in Leo; Jupiter and Mars also in conjunction
> The Magi leave for Jerusalem after this celestial event.
> Jupiter and Venus in conjunction in the head of Virgo
> The Magi arrive in Jerusalem & proceed to Bethlehem.
> Jupiter in Virgo “stops” over Bethlehem before dawn as the Magi travel there to worship the Christ child who is more than a year and three months old.
> The Magi depart for Persia.
> Joseph, Mary, & Jesus flee to Egypt.
> Joseph, Mary & Jesus return & settle in Nazareth after the death of Herod
Matthew 1:18, 20
Luke 1:26, 36
Matthew 2:7, 16
Late May, 4 BC
May 20-30, 4 BC
May 20, 4 BC
May 23, 4 BC
May 26, 4 BC
June, 4 BC
June 12, 4 BC
December, 4 BC
March, 3 BC
August 12, 3 BC
August 25 - September 10, 3 BC
September 11, 3 BC
September 14, 3 BC
February 17, 2 BC
May 9, 2 BC
June 17, 2 BC
August 27, 2 BC
October 11, 2 BC
December 2 BC
December 25, 2 BC
Spring 1 BC
[i] The further significance of September 11, 3 B.C.:
It was Tishri 1 on the Jewish calendar. Tishri 1 is none other than the Jewish New Year’s Day (Nisan 1 was the beginning of the Jewish ecclesiastical year, in 3 B.C. that fell on March 18). Otherwise known as Rosh Hashanah, or as the Bible calls it, the Day of Trumpets (Lev. 23:23-25). There could hardly have been a better day in the calendar of the Jews to introduce the Messiah to the world than the first day of the civil year. Sundown on September 11, 3 B.C. (approximately 6 p.m.), was the beginning of Rosh Hashanah--Jesus was born very soon after 6 p.m. when the day changed from Elul 30 to Tishri 1.
The significance of Tishri 1 in Scripture:
It is the Jewish New Year’s Day (end of summer and beginning of autumn).
It was Noah’s birthday, and the very day he removed the cover from the Ark (Gen. 8:13).
It was also the beginning of a new beginning for Earth. The first day of restoration/creation could be reckoned from this day, since all the fruit was on the trees ready for Adam and Eve to eat--the Jews discussed whether creation took place in Spring or Autumn. This would signal another new beginning for the Earth. Tishri 1 “came to be regarded as the birthday of the world,” (McClintock & Strong, Cyclopaedia, vol. x, pg. 568) “Judaism regards New Year’s Day not merely as an anniversary of creation, but more importantly, as a renewal of it. This is when the world is reborn,” (Gaster Festivals of the Jewish Year, pg. 109).
The festival year of the Jews comprising seven of twelve months, were all commenced by the blowing of trumpets (Num. 10:10); the last month (7th) was the last month (Tishri) for a trumpet introduction (for the festival year). The “last trump” in the series was always sounded on this day. So, it was the final trumpets’ day (Lev. 23:24; Num. 29:1). The next New Moon (the first of each month) on which the trumpet would be sounded would be five months later, Nisan 1 (the beginning of the festival year). Note that the 7th (and final trumpet blast in the Tribulation brings on the 7 bowl judgments just before the Second Advent of Christ (Rev,. 11:15; cp. 16ff).
The Day of Trumpets was also recognized among the Jews as their “Memorial Day.” (The Jewish historian Theodor H. Gaster has special insight into Israel’s ancient feasts, see Festivals of the Jewish Year). It was not the kind of “Memorial day” to which we are accustomed. It was a time to celebrate when “the dead return to rejoin their descendants at the beginning of the year” (Gaster, pg. 108). In other words, it was a celebration of the doctrine of future resurrection. Such a day was a time when Israel would rally to the call of God for the inauguration of God’s kingdom on earth (Gaster says the Day of Trumpets became a “symbol of the Last Trump,” pg. 113). Since the Apostle Paul was Jewish, it is possible to connect his mention of “the last trumpet,” associated with the Rapture, (1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16), with this ancient festival.
The theme of the Day of Trumpets is also that of kingship in Israel. This was the very day that the kings of Judah reckoned as the inauguration day of their rule. This procedure was followed consistently in the time of Solomon, Jeremiah, and Ezra (Theile, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, pgs. 28, 31, 161, 163). The Day of Trumpets was acknowledged as the time for counting the years of kingly rule. Indeed, it was customary that the final ceremony in the coronation of kings was the blowing of trumpets (for Solomon, 1 Ki. 1:34; for Jehu, 2 Ki. 9:13: for Jehoash, 2 Ki. 11:11). There may even be a reference to the elevation of Joseph to kingship on the first day of Tishri. Notice that he had been in the dungeon for “two full years” (Gen. 41:1). As with Christ in Rev. 11:15, the kingdoms of the world become Joseph’s in the day intended for coronations. The day that later became the Day of Trumpets! Of course, Pharaoh retained top leadership, but the New Testament shows that God the Father still maintains supreme rule over Christ when He takes over the kingdoms of the world. The psalms classified as “enthronement psalms” (Ps. 47, 93, 96-99) were probably designed for recitation at the New Year Feast of Yahweh (Gaster, pp. 114-115; Mowinkle, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. II, pg. 324). Gaster’s insight is most helpful. when he writes, “The Sovereignty of God is a dominant theme of the occasion and it is one of the cardinal features of New Year’s Day” (pg. 115). (www.versebyverse.org/doctrine/birthofchrist.html)
[ii] John the Baptist’s Birth--So when was Christ born? We know from Biblical references that Christ was born six months after his cousin John the Baptist. Again from Biblical references we can pin down the date of John’s birth. John’s father, Zechariah, was in the temple performing his priestly duties when an angel visited him in a vision and informed him that his wife Elizabeth, who was barren and on in years, would soon conceive a son. We know from Luke that Zechariah was responsible for the eighth of the 24 Priestly Courses of the Jewish Faith. Each of the 24 courses lasted a week and were repeated twice during the year. The Jews used a lunar-solar calendar of 51 weeks - the other three weeks of the year were for the three major Jewish religious celebrations - Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Because the calendar only had 51 weeks, the Jews had to add 30 days at prescribed intervals so that the calendar kept pace with the solar year.
In the case of Zechariah, he was officiating in the 8th course, or 8th week of the Jewish year, when the angel paid him a visit. The priestly courses probably started their serving in the springtime month of Nisan - the first month of the Jewish ecclesiastical year. This is a chronological clue - it tells us the general time of year that Zechariah was serving. We also know that he was not serving at a festival period because the priests suspended their normal weekly duties and all served together during the major Jewish high holy seasons.
Assuming that the springtime month of Nisan began that year (it varied with the state of the crops - in 4 BC it began after midnight on March 28 - March 29) on what corresponds to the end of March of our current calendar, then Zechariah was visited by the angel, and his wife became pregnant, in the month of June. Remember also that Passover, one of the High Holy weeks of the Jews, occurred during the time interval from late March to June - putting off Zechariah’s priestly course for one week. Assuming a full-term pregnancy of 9 months, Elizabeth gave birth to John sometime in March. This means Jesus’ birth would have taken place the following September.
The Star of Bethlehem: An Astronomical & Historical Perspective by Susan S. Carroll
[iii] Unfortunately Luke does not tell us if he used the Roman method of reckoning Tiberius’ 15th year, or that which people in Judea and Syria were accustomed to, which antedated the reign of kings and emperors to Tishri 1 (the Jewish New Year’s Day) of the previous year. However, Ernest Martin believes that it is more likely that Luke was using the Eastern method of reckoning Tiberius’ reign, because he was writing his gospel to the Greeks and Romans, to Gentiles in general, and to one Christian convert, Theophilus, in particular. This method of reckoning would put the whole year in which Tiberius became emperor of Romeon August 19, 14 AD as his first year of rule. This means that New Year’s Day for the beginning of that year begins the first year of Tiberius. Hence, the whole year from Tishri 1, 13 AD to Tishri 1, 14 AD would have been the first year of Tiberius. Consequently, Tiberius 15th year would have been from Tishri 1 in 27 AD to Tishri 1 in 28 AD. This would put Jesus’ birth somewhere in 3 BC, given that he was “about thirty” when he began his ministry. This also fits nicely with the Jewish belief that spiritual maturity did not begin until the age of thirty (Num. 4:47). (Susan S. Carroll, The Star of Bethlehem: An Astronomical & Historical Perspective)
[iv] Historians who validate this include: Tacitus, Seutonius, Pliny the Elder, Dio Cassius, Philo, and Josephus.
[v] Archaeological records of Jewish weddings in this time period were triple dated, using an Egyptian dating system, the Hebrew dating system, and reference to the reign of a Babylonian king. These dates have been astronomically synchronized and then back dated using our current Gregorian calendar to arrive at the date of March 14, 445 B.C. We are as certain as we can be of the accuracy of this date as Nisan 1, the 1st day of the New Year when decrees were issued, in the 20th year of Artaxerxes.
[vi] Daniel 9:25-27 says that it will be “7 ‘sevens’* and 62 ‘sevens’” which is 7 x 7 yrs + 62 x 7 yrs = 483 yrs. from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem to the “coming of the Anointed One” (Messiah) who will be “cut off.” The decree issued March 14, 445 B.C., settles the issue on 32 A.D. with the birth in 3 B.C. If one uses the decree of Artaxerxes to Nehemiah (2:1) in 445 B.C., the lunar or prophetic year§ of 360 days/year and the date when “the Anointed One, the ruler, comes” (v.25) in 32 A.D., you get: 445 + 31© = 476 x 365.25 days/solar year = 173,859 days - 3 non-leap year daysª = 173,856 days. If you take 483 yrs x 360 days/prophetic year = 173,880 days. 173,880 days - 173,856 days = 24 days, which allows for a different day of the year. From when the decree was issued on Nisan 1 (March 13/14), 445 B.C. to Jesus Triumphal Entry on Nisan 11 (April 5/6), 32 A.D.§ there are exactly 173,880 days (Paul Meier, The Third Millennium, p. 303).
* A week of years is a common idiom in Judaism. It comes from God’s command that every 7th year, the sabbatical year, the land was to lie fallow (Lev. 25:1-22; 26:3-35; Dt. 15).
§The prophetic year is 360 days long. The Babylonian calendar, which the prophet Daniel used, had 360 days/year. Prophetic Scriptures used various descriptions to convey the idea that a month is 30 days and a year is 12 months of 30 days each totaling 360 days. Ex. #1: Dan 7:25, where the 4th beast with 10 horns oppresses the saints for “a time, times and half a time;” which clearly parallels Rev. 13:5 where the Beast out of the Sea with 10 horns has “42 months” to exercise authority during which he makes war against the saints. Ex. #2: Rev. 11:2-3 has the Temple trampled for “42 months” while the 2 witnesses prophesy for “1,260 days.” Ex. #3: Rev. 12:6, 14 has the Woman fleeing from the Dragon for “1,260 days,” which is also described as “a time, times and half a time.” Ex. #4: Dan. 12:7 again lists “a time, times and half a time” which 12:11, 12 expound upon and add to, to let us know that it will be a little bit longer than the standard 3 1/2 yrs.: as 1,290 days [1,260 + 30 (or 3 1/2 yrs. + 1 mo.)] and 1,335 days [1,260 + 75 (or 3 1/2 yrs. + 2 1/2 mo.)] from the time the daily sacrifice is abolished and the Abomination of Desolation is set up until the end and the final blessing. Thus, we have “a time, times and half a time” equal to “42 months” which is equal to “1,260 days” (42 x 30) which is again equal to “a time, times and half a time” (or 1 year, 2 years and 1/2 a year = 3 1/2 yrs.). See also Gen. 7:24; 8:3-4 where 5 mo. = 150 days.
© 1 year must be subtracted for moving directly from 1 B.C. to 1 A.D. with no year 0 in between.
ª Century years which cannot be divided by 400 are not leap years, therefore 3 days must be subtracted for 300, 200, and 100 B.C.
§ Because the Jewish day goes from sunset-to-sunset, rather than midnight-to midnight, approximately 6 hrs. of what we would call the previous day needs to be included in dating events. For simplicity’s sake we usually think of the dates of Nisan 1, 445 B.C. & Nisan 11, 32 A.D. as March 14 & April 6, respectively.
[vii] The key to understanding the chronology of the events leading up to and including Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection is that there were two Sabbaths in that week, with a day of preparation between them, meaning Passover had to be on a Wednesday. This makes all of the Gospel accounts fall into place. It explains how Jesus and Co. could eat the Passover and how Jesus could then die on Passover as our Passover Lamb. The fulfillment of Christ’s words regarding the sign of Jonah become clear. A correct harmonization of all the facts will bear this out.