The Star of Bethlehem
Chapter 6 

The Birth of Jesus and the Day of Trumpets

The historical evidence I have presented in this book shows that Jesus was born in the year 3 B.C.E. It appears most probable that a late summer birth in 3 B.C.E. has the best credentials. I need not rehearse my reasons for this, but they are very strong. Indeed, the evidence from the priestly courses alone suggests that a September nativity is the most likely. This gives a pretty close approximation that most scholars would probably accept as reasonable. But now, we come to the nitty-gritty! To propose an early evening birth on September 11, 3 B.C.E. appears almost impossible to believe. To get that close to his time of birth might at first seem to be fanciful.

The fact is, however, I can state without a shadow of a doubt, that the celestial scene described by the apostle John in Revelation 12:1–5, if viewed astronomically, would center precisely on a New Moon date within mid-September, and that in 3 B.C.E. that exact celestial phenomenon would have occurred in the early evening of September 11th. I can also state with assurance that sundown on September 11, 3 B.C.E. was also the beginning of the Jewish New Year (Rosh ha-Shanah ― The Day of Trumpets).

Even if the apostle John were only giving the symbolic time for Jesus’ nativity, and not the actual, we are provided with a great deal of insight on how early Christians interpreted significant periods of time on the holy calendar of Israel. If Jesus were actually born on Rosh ha-Shanah (the Day of Trumpets) in 3 B.C.E., a most impressive astronomical panorama of events burst forth on the scene that would have awed and astonished most Jewish people who lived at the time. Truly, this is not an exaggeration.

The Importance of the Day of Trumpets

Look at the celestial events that occurred around that Rosh ha-Shanah date of September 11th in 3 B.C.E. Exactly one month before (on August 12) the world would have witnessed the close conjunction of Jupiter (reckoned astrologically as the Father) and Venus (the Mother) when they were only .07 degrees from one another when they appeared as morning stars on the eastern horizon. This was a very close union. But then, nineteen days later (August 31), Venus came to within .36 degrees of Mercury in a very similar astronomical display.

Then, on September 11th, the New Moon occurred which represented the Jewish New Year. This happened when Jupiter (the King planet) was then approaching Regulus (the King star). And, on September 14, Jupiter and Regulus came to their first of three conjunctions in this extraordinary year. Then, over an eight month period, Jupiter made its “crowning effect” over the King star Regulus. There could hardly have been a better astronomical testimony to the birth of the new messianic king from the Jewish point of view. Why? Because every one of these celestial occurrences I have mentioned happened with the Sun or planets being positioned within the constellation of Leo the Lion (the constellation of Judah — from whence the Messiah was destined to emerge) or in Virgo the Virgin. The apostle John may have seen importance in these extraordinary occurrences when he symbolically showed that Jesus was born at the New Moon of Tishri, the Day of Trumpets (Revelation 12:1–3).

What we now need to do is to rehearse some of the typical and figurative features of the biblical accounts associated with this particular day. They may well reveal why John and early Christians looked on Jesus as the Christ and the king of the universe. The Day of Trumpets was a special day that symbolically showed this rule.

Jesus Was Born on the Day of Trumpets

If one can realize that the New Testament shows Jesus born on the Day of Trumpets (the first day of Tishri ― the start of the Jewish civil year) an impressive amount of symbolic features emerge on the biblical and prophetic scenes. Before the period of the Exodus in the time of Moses, this was the day that began the biblical year. It also looks like this was the day when people were advanced one year of life ― no matter at what month of the year they were actually born.

Notice that the patriarch Noah became 600 years of age “in the first month [Tishri], the first day of the month [later to be called the Day of Trumpets] (Genesis 8:13). That was the very day when “Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry” (v. 13). This was not only Noah’s official birthday, it became a new birth after the Flood for the earth as well.

There is more. Even the first day of creation mentioned in Genesis 1:1–5 could be reckoned as being this very day. The early Jews discussed whether the actual creation took place in spring or in autumn. But since the autumn commenced all biblical years before the Exodus (Exodus 12:2), and since all the fruit was then on the trees ready for Adam and Eve to eat (Genesis 1:29; 2:9, 16–17), it suggests that the month of Tishri was the creation month, beginning near the autumn. If so, then the first day of creation mentioned in Genesis was also the first of Tishri (at least, Moses no doubt intended to give that impression). This means that not only was this the birthday of the new earth in Noah’s day and what was later to become the Day of Trumpets on the Mosaic calendar, but it was also the day which ushered in the original creation of the heavens and the earth.

As shown before, among the Jews this day was called Rosh ha-Shanah (the Feast of the New Year). The majority belief of Jewish elders (which still dominates the services of the synagogues) was that the Day of Trumpets was the memorial day that commemorated the beginning of the world. Authorized opinion prevailed that the first of Tishri was the first day of Genesis 1:1–5. It “came to be regarded as the birthday of the world.” 1 It was even more than an anniversary of the physical creation. The Jewish historian Theodor H. Gaster states,

“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.” 2

Gaster’s insight is so germane to the interpretation of the significance of biblical festivals that I will be referring to his research several times in my following references.

When Was the “Last Trump”?

The matter does not stop there. Each of the Jewish months was officially introduced by the blowing of trumpets (Numbers 10:10). Since the festival year in which all the Mosaic festivals were found was seven months long, the last month (Tishri) was the last month for a festival trumpet. This is one of the reasons that the day was called “the Day of Trumpets.” The last trump in the seven months’ series was always sounded on this New Moon day. This made it the final trumpets’ day (Leviticus 23:24; Numbers 29:1).

This was the exact day that many of the ancient kings and rulers of Judah reckoned as their inauguration day of rule. This procedure was followed consistently in the time of Solomon, Jeremiah, and Ezra 3 The Day of Trumpets was also acknowledged as the time for counting the years of their kingly rule. Indeed, it was customary that the final ceremony in the coronation of kings was the blowing of trumpets.

There could well be a reflection of this symbolic feature in the New Testament. The Day of Trumpets was the time for the start of the seventh month (since the time of Moses), and the time for the “last trump” to introduce festival months. Note that in the Book of Revelation, we have the record of a heavenly angel who will blow the seventh and last trumpet blast. And recall what happens at the exact time this “last trump” is sounded.

“And the seventh angel sounded [blew the last trump]; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever [for the ages of the ages].’”

In New Testament parlance this shows the time of the coronation of Jesus, and it happens at the seventh (or last) trump in the Book of Revelation ― the Day of Trumpets.

Further Significance of the Day of Trumpets

The early Jews also recognized that the Day of Trumpets was a memorial day for considering those who had died. It was not a simple type of “Memorial Day” that we moderns are accustomed to. Gaster said it was a symbolic time when “the dead return to rejoin their descendants at the beginning of the year.” 4 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 also states this was the time that became “a symbol of the Last Trump.” 5 Since the apostle Paul was Jewish, it is possible that his reference to the “Last Trump” and the resurrection from the dead was also connected with the same biblical theme. The “Last Trump” of the early Jews was when the dead were remembered. To Paul the “Last Trump” was the time for Jesus’ second advent and the resurrection of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16).

Truly, the Day of Trumpets theme is that of kingship. There may even be a reference to this in the elevation of the patriarch Joseph to kingship on this New Moon day which began the month of Tishri. Notice that he had been in a dungeon for “two full years” (Genesis 41:1). It was not simply a two year period which Moses was intending, but the passage of two full years. The implication is that the story of Joseph’s rise to kingship happened on a New Year’s Day. This is manifest in Psalm 81, a New Year’s psalm commemorating Joseph’s royal enthronement (Genesis 41:40). As with Jesus, in Revelation 11:15, the kingdoms of the world became Joseph’s on the day intended for coronations ― the day that later became the Day of Trumpets. Of course, Pharaoh retained top leadership, but as the New Testament shows, God the Father still maintains supreme rule over Jesus even when Jesus is prophesied to rule the kingdoms of this world.

The Crowning of Kings

As we have shown from the Bible, the blowing of trumpets was the sign that kings could then begin to rule (1 Kings 1:34; 2 Kings 9:13; 11:11). Jewish authorities long acknowledged this royal import to the Day of Trumpets. Gaster states, “The Sovereignty of God is a dominant theme of the occasion [and] it is one of the cardinal features of New Year’s Day.” 6 The main issue that prevailed in the significance of the day was the triumph of God as a king over all the forces of evil. The symbolic motif of the Day of Trumpets, as Gaster shows, was God

“continually fighting His way to the Kingdom, continually asserting His dominion, and continually enthroning Himself as sovereign of creation. At New Year when the world was annually reborn that sovereignty was evinced anew.” 7

The theological thrust of the early Jews within their synagogue services for the Day of Trumpets was the fact that God rules over all and that he is the King of kings. On Trumpets it was common to quote Zechariah 14:16. “The king, the Lord of hosts.” Indeed, some scholars have suggested that psalms which begin “Yahweh is become king [or ‘The Lord reigns’](Psalm 93 and 97) were originally designed for recitation at the New Year festival.” 8 Recent study shows this to be true. It is postulated by many scholars that in Israel, Yahweh was crowned annually at the “New Year feast of Yahweh.” The scholar Mowinckel has argued that the “enthronement psalms” (Psalms 47, 93, 96–99) in which Yahweh reigns were a part of the liturgy of the ancient synagogues. 9 There is no doubt that this is true. This was also the very day when Jesus was born.

Jesus as the King of Kings

The central theme of the Day of Trumpets is clearly that of enthronement of the great King of kings. This was the general understanding of the day in early Judaism and it is certainly that of the New Testament. In Revelation 11:15, recall that the seventh angel sounds his “last trump” and the kingdoms of this world become those of Jesus. This happens at a time when a woman is seen in heaven with twelve stars around her head and the Sun mid-bodied to her, with the Moon under her feet. This is clearly a New Moon scene for the Day of Trumpets.

And note: Professor Thorley who reviewed the first edition of my work has shown that there are exactly twelve stars surrounding the head of Virgo as we see them from earth. And indeed there are. If one will look at Norton’s Star Atlas, twelve visible stars will be seen around Virgo’s head. They are (according to astronomical terminology): (1) Pi, (2) Nu, (3) Beta (near the ecliptic), (4) Sigma, (5) Chi, (6) Iota — these six stars form the southern hemisphere around the head of Virgo. Then there are (7) Theta, (8) Star 60, (9) Delta, (10) Star 93, (11) Beta (the 2nd magnitude star) and (12) Omicron — these last six form the northern hemisphere around the head of Virgo. All these stars are visible and could have been witnessed by observers on earth.

Thus, the description of the apostle John describes a perfectly normal heavenly scene that could be recognized by all people. Here was Virgo with twelve stars around her head, while the Sun was in uterine position and the Moon under her feet. And again, the only time this could have occurred in 3 B.C.E. was on the Day of Trumpets. This is when the “king of kings” was born.

Another explanation of the Twelve Stars around the head of Virgo is that it represents the headship position (the “head” of Virgo is situated in the last ten degrees of Leo) for the beginning of the story found within the Twelve Constellations as reckoned in the biblical Zodiac. In the biblical Zodiac, the tribe of Judah (the Lion, or Leo) was situated around the Tabernacle directly east of its entrance. This meant that half of the tribe of Judah was south and the other half north of the east/west line from the Holy of Holies through the court of Israel and then eastward through the camp of Israel (in this case, Judah) to encounter the altar outside the camp where the Red Heifer was burnt to ashes. This means, unlike some Gentile reckonings which started their zodiacal story with the zero line between Cancer and Leo (that is, at the very commencement of Leo), the biblical Zodiac that Drs. Bullinger and Seiss were talking about began with the 15th degree of Leo (of Judah). This signifies that the first constellation to be met with in this celestial story would have been the “head” of Virgo the Virgin which occupied the last ten degrees of Leo. So, John began his story at this point.

The Significance of Being Born on New Year’s Day

The Day of Trumpets in the biblical and Jewish calendars is New Year’s Day for commercial and royal reckonings (just as we have January the first on our Roman calendar as the start of our New Year). This New Year’s Day signified a time of “new beginnings” to all those in Israel who accepted the teachings of the Bible. As a matter of fact, the Jews over the centuries have held to the belief that the Day of Trumpets was a cardinal date in the history of Adam (our first parent). It was the very day when Adam and Eve came to the recognition of whether to obey God or to defy him (see The Complete Artscroll Machzor, p.xvi). But that was not all that occurred on that day. No day in the year could be reckoned as being of more esteemed value and symbolic influence than Rosh Ha-Shanah. That day is important for the birth of the Messiah in several ways that are very profound in Jewish symbolism.

The book The Complete Artscroll Machzor gives some chronological details that the early Jewish theologians and scholars worked out from indications in the Old Testament to show when important individuals were born or major events happened in association with their lives. And what an array of significant things occurred on the Day of Trumpets and the month of Tishri. The book gives a summary of accounts found in the Jewish Talmud (Rosh Ha-Shanah 10b–11a).

Note what the Machzor states about this particular Day of Trumpets. The quotes are interesting and of value,

“The Patriarchs Abraham and Jacob were born on Rosh Ha-Shanah. Abraham was a new beginning for mankind after its [mankind’s] failure to realize the promise of Adam and Noah. Jacob was a new beginning for the Jewish people, for it was with him that Jews advanced from the status of individuals to that of a united family on the threshold of nationhood”

The Machzor does not stop with Abraham and Jacob. Look at the following quote,

“On Rosh Ha-Shanah God remembered three barren women, the Matriarchs Sarah and Rachel, and Hannah the mother of the prophet Samuel and decreed that they would give birth. Not only was Rosh Ha-Shanah a turning point in the lives of these great and worthy women, but the births of their children were momentous events for all Jewry, because they were the historic figures Isaac, Joseph, and Samuel.”

If the Jewish people would realize that the New Testament in the Book of Revelation (chapter 12:1–5) also places the birth of Jesus on the very same Day of Trumpets, they might begin to understand just how important Jesus is in a Jewish sense as well as to the world. The New Testament states that he is the Messiah. He shares many similarities with the births of Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, Joseph and Samuel. People should begin to realize the significant coincidences of the birthdays of these prominent men as understood by the Jewish people. And standing out above them all, is the teaching of the apostle John that Rosh Ha-Shanah is also the birthday of Jesus.

More Significance of the Day of Trumpets

Jewish chronological evaluations show other important events associated with the Day of Trumpets (Rosh Ha-Shanah). The Machzor continues,

“On Rosh Ha-Shanah, Joseph was freed from an Egyptian prison after twelve years of incarceration. He became viceroy of Egypt, provider to the world during the years of famine, and the leader of Jacob’s family. God’s plan called for Joseph to set in motion the years of exile and enslavement that were the necessary preparation for Israel’s freedom, nationhood, and emergence in a blaze of miracles to accept the Torah and march to the Land of Israel.”

This shows Rosh ha-Shanah as a day of freedom. There is more on the theme of freedom. The Machzor continues:

“On Rosh Ha-Shanah, the Jewish people in Egypt stopped their slave labor [they began their time of liberty and freedom], while they waited for the Ten Plagues to play themselves out so that Moses could lead them to freedom”

The Final Festivals of Israel

As I stated, this day at the beginning of the month of Tishri was the day when the seventh trump (or the last trump) was sounded to introduce the final month when the festivals of God ordained at the time of Moses would be held. This last trump is mentioned by the apostle Paul as heralding the events associated with the Second Advent of Christ back to this earth (1 Corinthians 15:52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17). This last or final trump is also mentioned by the apostle John in Revelation 11:15 as the warning sound that the Kingdom of God will soon be coming to earth. And soon after, the seven angels of the Book of Revelation will bring on the seven last plagues (in the same fashion as the Jewish analyzers of chronology saw that from the same day of Rosh Ha-Shanah the Ten Plagues were sent forth on Egypt in the time of Moses).

What is certain is the fact that the Book of Revelation (with its teaching that Jesus was born on the Day of Trumpets) is giving us in a symbolic way the time for the nativity of Jesus whom Christians considered to be the king of the world. He was prophesied to lead all people into a time of freedom and profound peace. This is the central reason why the apostle John in Revelation 12:1–5 shows that the birth of Jesus occurred within the first few minutes (the twilight period) of the Day of Trumpets that works out to be September 11th in 3 B.C.E.

 

1 M’Clintock and Strong, Cyclopedia, X.568. [Editor’s note: In the print version of this book, this endnote was listed as the last endnote of Chapter 5. It rightly belongs as the first endnote of Chapter 6.]  DWS

2 Gaster, Festivals of the Jewish Year, 109.

3 Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, 28, 31, 161, 163.

4 Gaster, Festivals of the Jewish Year, 108.

5 Ibid., 113.

6 Ibid., 115.

7 Ibid.

8 Ibid., 114–115.

9 Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, II.524.


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