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December 26, 2015 by William H. Scarle, Jr. 813-835-0129

Jesus was born on September 11 in the year 3 BC between 6:15 pm and 7:45 pm.  This was the eve of the festival of Rosh HaShanah and the only day in the entire year that the astronomical phenomenon described in the twelfth chapter of Revelation could take place.

Following his circumcision at the Temple and Mary’s ritual purification the family returned to Nazareth to introduce the newborn to his family.  It was likely the family of Mary, since there is a good chance Joseph’s family resided in Bethlehem where Jesus was born in the animal quarters of a relative’s home.

Possibly in the summer of 2 BC the family moved to Bethlehem.  It may have been because Bethlehem was the City of David or because it was close to the Temple.  When the Magi arrived they were settled in their own home.

On December 25 of 2 BC the King Planet Jupiter came into its stationary point in mid-Virgo the Virgin.  It would have been seen “stopped over Bethlehem” as viewed from Jerusalem.  A large delegation of Magi had come to Herod’s palace in Jerusalem looking for the new born King of the Jews.  Jesus would have been about fifteen months old at the time.

Heeding the warnings to both the Magi and to Joseph the family left for Egypt in late December of 2 BC.

Herod the Great died in Jericho about January 28 in 1 BC.  Upon his death Archelaus, his son by Malthace, took the throne.  During the last days of Herod’s reign there was some trouble at the Temple.  Two rabbis and some forty youths had torn down an eagle from a Temple gate.  Herod arrested and executed the perpetrators.

There were significant protests concerning the executions.  Archelaus, Herod’s son and heir, started out slowly in dealing with the riots but finally ended up by ordering in the army and killing some 3000 Jews.  This took place in the early spring prior to Passover. Following the slaughter he sent heralds around the city cancelling Passover.

Matthew’s Gospel tells us that Joseph took the family back to Israel at the news of Herod’s death.  However, on hearing that Archelaus was on the throne they decided to bypass Bethlehem and settle in the Galilee. Galilee was under the reign of Herod’s son Antipas who was of a much calmer disposition.  It is likely the news of the Jerusalem slaughter had reached Joseph and was the cause of his change of direction.

Archelaus did not last long in his new position.  He was deposed by Augustus Caesar in 6 AD and banished to Vienne in Gaul.

Herod Antipas ruled the Galilee until AD 39.  He rebuilt the city of Sepphoris during the years when Jesus was growing up.  Nazareth is only 3.7 miles from Sepphoris, and it is highly probable that Joseph, who was a builder, and his son, worked on that city’s construction.  Josephus called Sepphoris “the ornament of all Galilee.”   Its rebuilding would have taken all of the skilled labor of the area.

I have tried in these past few weeks to fill in the cast of characters in the Christmas narrative.  When the Apostle Paul was speaking to Herod the Great’s grandson Agrippa he noted, “For the king knows these things, and to him I speak boldly.  For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner.”

(Bill Scarle can be contacted at  END-whs