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The True Meaning of Christmas

Presented by

The Nәtzâr•im′  ('Nazarene' Jews), in Ra'anana, Israel
The Original—Jewish—Followers of Historical Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a

(© 2002 by Yirmeyahu Ben-David)

Tor•âh′ 's Command

"Do not do like the practice of the land… in which you dwelled, and do not do like the practice of the land… to which I bring you, and do not walk in their traditions. Do My mi•shәpât•im′  and watchguard My khuq•im′  to walk in them." (wa-Yi•qәr•â′  18.3).

lә-hav•dil′ 

Rainbow Rule

bәrâkh•ot′  kâ•sheir′  Kha•nuk•âh′  Kha•nuk•i′ yâh Khav•rut′ â khuq•im′  Mâ•oz′  Tzur mi•shәpât•im′  Pâ•qid′  Ra•a•nan′ â(h) sâ•mei′ akh Shab•ât′  Tor•âh′  wa-Yi•qәr•â′  -->

'Christianity Today' On: December 25

Christianity Adopts Birthday of Persian Sun-God
First Christmas No Earlier Than 336 C.E.

"To [Christians], Christmas and December are inseparable. But for the first three centuries of Christianity, Christmas wasn't in December—or on the calendar anywhere… December 25 already hosted two other related festivals: natalis solis invicti (the Roman "birth of the unconquered sun"), and the birthday of Mithras, the Iranian "Sun of Righteousness" whose worship was popular with Roman soldiers. The winter solstice, another celebration of the sun, fell just a few days earlier. Seeing that pagans were already exalting deities with some parallels to the true deity, church leaders decided to commandeer the date and introduce a new festival. Western Christians first celebrated Christmas on December 25 in 336…" (ChristianityToday.com).

The Proto-Christmas Tree: Earliest Origins

The Christmas tree traces back to the Hebrew term , instantiated 40 times in the Bible where Christian translators have glossed over its meaning by translating the KJ/V as "grove(s)."

In Torâh, we find in Shәmot 34.13 and Dәvârim 7.5; 12.3 and 16.21.

In the Nәviyim, Yәshayâhu (17.8 and 27.9) equates the to idols of the sun-god—and, therefore, with the winter solstice in late Dec., introducing the two related Dec. 25th festivals: natalis solis invicti (the Roman "birth of the unconquered sun") and the birthday of Mithras, the Iranian "Sun of Righteousness," whose worship was popular with Roman soldiers). Yirmәyâhu refers to them in 17.2 and Mikhâh in 5.13 (Christians, looking in their substitute book, will have the wrong verse).

An account of the history of the can be traced through Shophtim 3.7; 6.25, 26, 28 & 30; Mәlâkhim Âlëph 14.15, 23; 15.13; 16.33 & 18.19; Mәlâkhim Beit 13.6; 17.10, 16; 18.4; 21.3, 7; 23.4, 6, 7, 14 & 15; Divrei ha-Yâmim Beit 14.2; 15.16; 17.6; 19.3; 24.18; 31.1; 33.3, 19; 34.3, 4 & 7.

'History Channel' On: The Christmas Tree

Ancient Egyptian Idolatry Related to Birth of Religious Jew?

"The ancient Egyptians worshipped a god called Ra—their sun-god who had the head of a hawk and wore the sun as a blazing disk in his crown. At the solstice, when Ra began to recover from its illness (as the perceived winter to be), the Egyptians filled their homes with green palm rushes which symbolized for them the triumph of life over death." (HistoryChannel.com; [HC])

Ancient Rome

"Early Romans marked the solstice with a feast called the Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. The Romans knew that the solstice meant that soon farms and orchards would be green and fruitful. To mark the occasion, they decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs.

"In Northern Europe the mysterious Druids, the priests of the ancient Celts, also decorated their temples with evergreen boughs as a symbol of everlasting life. The fierce Vikings in Scandinavia thought that evergreens were the special plant of the sun god, Balder." (HC)

16th Century—the First Pagan Christmas Tree

"Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes." (HC)

17th Century—Russians Adopt Xmas Tree From Europe

In the former Soviet Union, the tradition to install and decorate the "Yolka" (fir tree) was brought back from Europe in the 17th century by Peter the Great—from Europe's Christmas tree tradition. Thus, although this "New Year's Tree" was "secularized" in the former Soviet Union; nevertheless, it was the adoption of the same pagan celebration—which is prohibited by Torâhwa-Yiq 18.3; Dәvârim 13.1; 18.9; Yәhoshua 23.6-8; Yirmәyâhu 10.

The Turkish "New Year's Tree" is of similar origin.

19th Century America—Christmas Tree Still Pagan

"As late as the 1840s Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans." (HC)

"Christmas as we know it today is a Victorian invention of the 1860s… Caroling also began in England." (HC)

Yule Log—Back to the Sun-god

"Norway is the birthplace of the Yule log. The ancient Norse used the Yule log in their celebration of the return of the sun at winter solstice. "Yule" came from the Norse word hweol, meaning wheel. The Norse believed that the sun was a great wheel of fire that rolled towards and then away from the earth. Ever wonder why the family fireplace is such a central part of the typical Christmas scene? This tradition dates back to the Norse Yule log. It is probably also responsible for the popularity of log-shaped cheese, cakes, and desserts during the holidays." (HC)

19th Century England—True Origin of the Christmas Tree

"In 1846, the popular royals, Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, were sketched in the Illustrated London News standing with their children around a Christmas tree. Unlike the previous royal family, Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done at court immediately became fashionable—not only in Britain, but with fashion-conscious East Coast American Society. The Christmas tree had arrived." (HC)

Christmas in America

I'm an American from way back. The Holland Society in New York City documents that my family, ne Van Nest (namely, Pieter Pieterse Van Nest), settled in New Amsterdam—before New York City was—in 1647. I'm also an Orthodox Jew (in good standing in the local Orthodox synagogue here in Ra'anana, Israel) who is appalled at Jews who hypocritically argue that the Kha•nuk•i′ yâh (which is different than a Mәnor•âh′ ) should be allowed on public property while Christian displays shouldn't. I condemn those Jewish hypocrites unequivocally. Worse, their assertion that the Mәnor•âh′  (or Kha•nuk•i′ yâh) isn't a religious symbol is blasphemous, a profanation of the Name of the Almighty of Israel! Of course, the Mәnor•âh′  and Kha•nuk•i′ yâh are religious symbols!

Furthermore, the Tor•âh′  mi•tzәw•âh′  of lә-hav•dil′  requires that symbols of Tor•âh′  not be displayed on par with symbols of other religions.

Freedom of religion in America means that every home and every place of worship must be guaranteed the right to practice their religion. Religious symbols and displays must be a guaranteed right on the property of every religious place of worship and every private home—in full public view. That right must be granted to every American and respected by every American; and the laws against vandalizing such expressions must be rigidly enforced.

Whatever is decided about religious symbols on public property, all religious symbols must be treated the same in America (NOT in Israel; Israel is a Jewish state, not an American state). The idea of permitting Jewish or Muslim symbols as "secular" while prohibiting Christian symbols is bald discrimination that cannot be tolerated in America. It IS a breach of the rights of American Christians! This Orthodox Jew doesn't equivocate about it.

Conversely, however, America was founded on the principle of freedom from religious coercion. No one should be able to put unwanted religion "in your face." Placing religious symbols in public places—from parks to malls to government buildings to public schools to TV and radio—dictates that you either accept the religious coercion—from which the American Constitution is supposed to protect you—or you have to unplug your TV and radio and stay home from before Thanksgiving until after the secular New Year. That isn't freedom from religious coercion. No religious displays—not Jewish, not Christian, not Muslim, not any other—belong in the public arena. Let every church and every Christian home display all of the Christian symbols they like in full public view… as long as it's on their private property. That is the guaranteed American right to practice religion. By contrast, imposing your religion in my face, unwanted and uninvited, isn't the right of any American.

I can remember when TV hosts or news anchors used to sign off by thanking their viewers "for inviting us into your home." Whatever happened to that America? Neither radio nor TV has any right to intrude into the home, under the guise of false pretenses, with unwanted and unsolicited material, whether religious, obscene, violent, immoral in the opinion of the viewer, etc. I don't object to these things being broadcast providing they are clearly marked products with the appropriate warning labels. I'm appalled to turn on a game I've always loved and find myself and my family exposed to an adulterous whore in a towel jumping on a football player. If NFL wants to marry such immorality to their game that's their prerogative… as long as they don't use deception to bring it into living rooms. TV & radio have no right to enter a living room under false pretenses and then "desensitize" the family to adultery, homosexuality, violence and a hedonistic and materialistic Hollywood view of life. How is that indoctrination methodology so different from the indoctrination of Muslim Madrassas in Saudi Arabia and Gaza? (The indoctrination methodology is the same, only the product is different.)

It is no less an imposition of unwanted and uninvited religious coercion "in my face" when viewers tune in the news—not a Christian or Christmas program—on Fox News Channel and are bombarded by Christians insisting on bringing their Christmas and news of their 4th-century Roman "savior" into viewers' living rooms. Discussion of Christmas has a place in social discourse; but only when the product is properly labeled. Christmas doesn't routinely belong in every social discourse. "Fair & Balanced"? What a laugher! Despite Constitutional protections against religious coercion, Americans can't escape it anywhere they go, they can't escape it if they shop, children can't escape it at school, Americans can't even escape it in their own home!

If Fox News wants to become an affiliate of the Christian Broadcasting Network, fine. CBN can broadcast Christmas and Christian witnessing to their hearts' content. It's honestly labeled and, therefore, it's CBN's right under the Constitution. It ISN'T Fox's right when they purport to be a news broadcasting cable channel. That's false advertising and bringing their religion into living rooms through deception, no better than NFL springing a promo for a TV show about adulteresses or a "family" sit-com springing on its unsuspecting viewers a desensitization indoctrination of a homosexual interfacing with the cast as an acceptable lifestyle. "Queer Eye," while I don't watch such an abomination, has the right to broadcast because it's properly labeled. One can avoid it by simply not selecting that show. Just don't spring that crap through deception on unsuspecting viewers just because some Chevy Chase-mindset or Barbara Streisand-mindset entertainment moguls think America needs to be desensitized and indoctrinated into their brainless hedonistic and materialistic way of thinking where conflicting facts have no place.

Christmas traditions are documented to be pagan, predating and having nothing whatsoever to do with the first century religious Jew from Nazareth. Would Christians be offended if store clerks, radio & TV announcers and every store, mall, school and government office were wishing them, inescapably and everywhere they went, "Happy Satan's Day" or "Happy Witches Day"? I think not. (On the other hand, there's Halloween… oy!)

I'm the worldwide leader of the only Orthodox Jews (in good standing in a legitimate Orthodox synagogue) who believe that the first-century religious Jew from Nazareth, Ribi Yehoshua, is the Mashiakh. If any legitimate Jews should be inclined toward Christmas, it should be the Netzarim. But Ribi Yehoshua never endorsed permitting paganism, which traces its origins back into ancient Egypt, in one's home. Christians, more than anyone else, are required to distinguish between the authentic historical teachings of Ribi Yehoshua and the paganism of the Egyptian, Hellenist and Roman pagans. You've thought it was a matter of "putting [a 4th-century Hellenized] Christ back into [a pagan] Christmas" when, in fact, it's a matter of putting the first-century religious Jew named Ribi Yehoshua in the context of his historical first-century Jewish community into your education! (That's what our web site does, BTW.)

Christians scream when some hypocritical Jews want menorahs and not Christmas displays on public property, which is, indeed, wrong. They ask where Jewish voices against this injustice are. Here is one. Now where are the Christian voices against the injustice of Christians having the right to hand out tracts, stage school-wide Christmas displays, shows and carol singing in which everyone is expected to participate or be ostracized? Where are the Christian voices insisting that Jews—including us, the Netzarim—be given this same right to place Netzarim literature from here in Ra'anana in the public schools so children can be educated in the historical and legitimate Judaic framework of Ribi Yehoshua? Where are the Christian voices insisting that the same rights of Muslims, Hindus and others be equally protected? Are American schools places of learning or places of indoctrination like the Muslim Madrassas? Hypocrites! Get the beam out of your own eye and maybe you can see better to get a speck out of your neighbor's eye.

I'm concerned when propaganda displaces fact in duping Americans to a false way. The most vociferous voices about Christmas in America these days have never even looked at American history (beyond what they can find in support of their propaganda). Here's what the History Channel says about Christmas in early America:

"Most 19th-century Americans found Christmas trees an oddity. The first record of one being on display was in the 1830s by the German settlers of Pennsylvania, although trees had been a tradition in many German homes much earlier. The Pennsylvania German settlements had community trees as early as 1747. But, as late as the 1840s Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans." (HC)

It is not surprising that, like many other festive Christmas customs, the tree was adopted so late in America. To the New England Puritans, Christmas was sacred. The pilgrims's second governor, William Bradford, wrote that he tried hard to stamp out "pagan mockery" of the observance, penalizing any frivolity. The influential Oliver Cromwell preached against "the heathen traditions" of Christmas carols, decorated trees, and any joyful expression that desecrated "that sacred event." In 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts enacted a law making any observance of December 25 (other than a church service) a penal offense; people were fined for hanging decorations. That stern solemnity continued until the 19th century, when the influx of German and Irish immigrants undermined the Puritan legacy." (HC)

Historical Background

(A few words use Hebrew font, which can be downloaded from the bottom of our Home Page.)

All major encyclopedias, and particularly the late Oxford historian James Parkes (The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue), corroborate that even the earliest Christian Church historians conceded that Christmas and other Christian holidays (e.g. Easter and Sun-[god]-day worship) weren't adopted into Christianity until five centuries after the death of historical Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a of Nazareth!

These Christian holidays were all pagan celebrations syncretized into the gentile Roman-Hellenist belief system in the centuries that followed the Roman crushing of the Bar Kokhva Rebellion in 135 C.E. It's no coincidence that 135 C.E. was the year in which the Romans exiled all Jews from Yerushalayim, thereby forcibly ousting the Nәtzâr•im′  ('Nazarene') Pâ•qid′ . Nor is it a coincidence that 135 C.E. was the year in which the Roman gentiles filled the resulting vacuum with their own first gentile "bishop"—smack in the middle of the Roman paganization of Yәru•shâ•la′ yim into "Aelia Capitolina," dedicated to the Hellenist Zeus ( Roman Jupiter)!

Neither Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a nor his original Nәtzâr•im′  Jewish followers ever made this transformation to Hellenist (Roman) idolatry. In fact, in 333 C.E. the last remnants of the Nәtzâr•im′  were extirpated by the Church for refusing—upon pain of death—to attend Church on Easter (abandoning synagogue and Pës′ akh) where they were to be forced to eat pork on their way out (Eutychius, Patrologia Graeca—Migne 111, 11012-13 in Franciscan Father Bellarmino Bagatti, The Church from the Circumcision, p. 14.)

Long before Christ, Dec. 25th was widely celebrated among the idolatrous, sun-worshipping, gentiles of the Roman Empire as the birthday of Hellenist Mithra (Roman Helios), the sun deity!

Interestingly, the earliest images of Jesus, kept today in the Vatican—the same face reflected in crucifix idols, paintings and stained glass windows of churches across the world today—depict him as Helios, the sun deity (always identified by the sun rays emanating from his head… like the Statue of Liberty)! This proves that the earliest Roman gentile Christians understood Jesus not as a Jew but, rather, a minor revision to their sun-god! It also explains the origin of the 5th-century change to worship on sun-god-day and the adoption of the birthday of their sun-god—Dec. 25th… and the origin of the belief in the divinity of Jesus, by then completely divorced from the original Jewish belief of a Mâ•shi′ akh.

Moreover, if the Hebrew name of the historical Jew, , had been transliterated into Greek like all of the other Hebrew names, the result would have been Ιοσου—anglicizes to "Josou" (from which "Joshua" derived), NOT Jesus! Unlike any other Hebrew name ending in the Hebrew letter ai′ yin, however, was—inexplicably—given a unique ending in Greek that molded the resulting name into a form reminiscent of "Zeus"—Iæsous. This was likely a revision of ιε-Ζευς, a contraction, in Greek, meaning "holy Zeus"! The English name Jesus derives from the Greek ιε-Ζευς.

It gets even worse. Archeologist-historian John Romer demonstrated in a Discovery Channel documentary that the face that Christianity recognizes as Christ is actually based on the face of the great idol of Zeus—which was sculpted with the face of Alexander the Great!!! ("The Seven Wonders of the World, Part I: Jesus' Face") So anyone who worships any depiction of Jesus (in addition to practicing idolatry) is actually worshipping Alexander the Great and Zeus!!!

(The post-135 C.E. Christian = Hellenist-Roman image of Jesus is the arch-antithesis of historical Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a of Nazareth.)

Christmas also contradicts the actual date of the birth of the historical Jew—Yәhoshua Ben-Yoseiph (and Aramaic Yәshua Bar-Yoseiph)—born in Beit Lekhem (corrupted to "Bethlehem"). During the cold rainy winter months here in Israel, shepherds have never remained out in the Judean hills with with their flocks as described in the NT. To the contrary, the NT description of the scene contradicts a Dec. 25th Christmas.

Moreover, historians are generally agreed that the historical records indicate that Ribi Yәhoshua was born in either the year 3 or 7 B.C.E., not in the Christian "zero" year. (Since Herod the Great died in B.C.E. 4, years after that must be ruled out. A priori, the correct birth year is 7 B.C.E.)

All of the trappings of Christmas—from the date to the tree to the Yule log—have clear origins in idolatry. By stark contrast, there is no precedence for any of these in the Judaism practiced and taught by historical Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a of Nazareth and his first-century Nәtzâr•im′ .

Why The Nәtzârim Reconstruction of Hebrew Matityâhu (NHM) is the authority to cite

Speaking of the original—Jewish—followers of historical Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a of Nazareth, the earliest Church historian, Eusebius (c. 260—340 C.E.) declared: "They thought the letters of the Apostle Paul ought to be wholly rejected and called him an apostate from the Law. They used only their own Hebrew Matityahu and made little account of the rest" (Ecclesiastical History, III.xxvii.4).

The Nәtzâr•im′  have reconstructed Hebrew Matityahu from all of the earliest extant source mss. up through the fourth century C.E., meticulously documenting and filtering out anti-Judaic Displacement Theology redactions, and from all of the extant Hebrew source documents up through the Ëv′ ën Bo•khan′  (EB; 1380 C.E.).

For how the post-135 C.E. Hellenist-Roman gentile church became the exact opposite of the first century Jewish followers of historical Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a we refer readers to Parkes' book, cited earlier, and our book, Who Are the Netzarim? (WAN). If you're serious about following historical Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a in truth, you'll follow the tour in our web site to discover a myriad of truths that have been concealed from the gentile church for millennia, uncomfortable truths no pastor will ever teach you in Sunday School or from any church pulpit. Our Khavruta (on-line Distance Learning) opens new vistas that shatter countless popular myths and take you to an entirely new level in following historical Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a in truth.

Now we can return to the question of Christmas

The recorded sightings of conjunctions of planets with Jewish and messianic significance by the Persian astrologers (popular "wise men" or magicians) enable the calculation based on computer simulations (obtained from and corroborated with NASA, the Jet Propulsion Lab and Sky & Telescope back in 1983) several astronomical dates—including the exact date of the birth of Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a on 29 May of the year 0007 B.C.E. (see explanation below and NHM note 2.1.4)—in spring, not winter.

"Our dating by astronomical events (cf. 2.2.1) is confirmed in that the date of conception calculated from the birth date (Sixthmonth 4, 3753 / B.C.E. 0008.08.28; see NHM 1.18), where the birth date is calculated from the astronomical conjunctions, corresponds to the month stipulated in Lu. 1.26.

NHM note "2.0.1 … B.C.E. 7: Dating the Birth of Ribi Yәhoshua: According to NHM 2.1, Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a was born "during the days of Herod-the-Great," who lived ca. B.C.E. 0037—B.C.E. 0004. Postulations that Herod lived beyond B.C.E. 0004 are shaky at best. Few, if any, of the leading scholars concede this notion. Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a, therefore, could not likely have been born later than B.C.E. 0004. For a variety of reasons (viz., ancient records of Herod's taxation order in B.C.E. 0007), most scholars have placed his birth ca. B.C.E. 0007. This date is even more plausible when one considers notes 2.2.1 and 2.3.1.

Another consideration, not mentioned in the literature, is that Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a's apparent preparations for his Bar-Mi•tzәw•âh′  at twelve years of age was around Pës′ akh (another indication that Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a's birthday was this time of year; cf. Lu. 2:42-49). This involved his transition from elementary school to the Beit Mi•dәrâsh′ . Cf. also notes NHM 19.20.1 and 28.1.2."

NHM note 2.1.3 (commenting "magos"): " (ashaph, conjurer), μαγος (magos; sorcerer-magician), …astrologers… The Greek follows the earliest extant source texts. The Hebrew is reconstructed by correspondence via LXX MT (q.v. Danieil 1:20; 2:2, 10, 27; 4:4; 5:7, 11, 15). However, the context of this chapter supports the reading in EB:   (khoz•im′  ba-ko•khav•im′ , lit. seers in stars), which is linked to angelology.1.20.1

"These Chaldeans were probably Iraqis (as was Av•râ•hâm′  originally) or, perhaps, Iranians. "The twelve-fold division of the zodiac was first developed by the Chaldean astronomers" (cf. Yirmәyahu ha-Navi 10:2 and Ma•sëk′ ët Shab•ât′  156a.) There is no reference that the astrologers were three in number. The belief that there were three was assumed based on the three kinds of gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh.

"In ancient times, there was little distinction between astronomy and astrology (the latter is asur16.19.3 [prohibited] in Torah). Not knowing the physics involved, it was perhaps difficult to distinguish between "celestial bodies" demarcating the months, seasons, rains and the like versus "celestial phenomena," both lumped together as governing human affairs. Yet, the former is ordained in Torah while the latter is asur.

Astrology was practiced by pagans such as these magicians, however, and there is a distinction in Greek between simply αστηρ (asteir; celestial body—they knew of no distinction between stars and planets) and αστρον (astron; celestial-phenomenon or sky-phenomena, such as conjunctions among celestial bodies). Cf. note 2.2.1 and cf. Lu. 21:25 where αστρον (astron; celestial body), is rendered.

"Both terms parallel, via LXX, the Hebrew (kokhav, celestial body, with no distinction between stars and planets). The distinction then is in the Greek only. (Since the distinction is also present in LXX Greek, it cannot be regarded as solely an extra-Judaic redaction.) This verse points out the recognition by the greater, extra-Judaic, world that this was a momentous event (cf. Yәshayahu ha-Navi 60:6 & Tәhilim 72:10). It in no way endorses astrology—a practice forbidden in Torah (cf. Dәvarim 18:9-14; Yәshayahu ha-Navi 47:12-14). In verse 7, EB reads (qosmim, magicians)."

NHM note 2.2.1 (commenting "asteir": " (kokhav, celestial body, pop. star), αστηρ (asteir, celestial body, pop. star), …celestial phenomenon… The Greek follows the earliest extant source texts. The Hebrew is reconstructed by correspondence via LXX MT.

Like most people usually do today (even though they really know better now), the ancients didn't differentiate between stars and planets. EB reads (ko•khav•o′ ; his star), at NHM 2.2. Based on EB ms. 26964, Prof. George Howard gives (sә•vav•o′ ; his rotation). αστηρ (asteir) is used here rather than αστρον (astron, astrological sign of a star or planet, conjunction, etc.). Both of these terms are rendered, via LXX, from the single Hebrew term , meaning either "star" (celestial body) or "celestial phenomenon" (sign). Hence, any distinction in the original Hebrew is moot. Cf. instances in Tan"kh of in a Hebrew concordance.

"Abrabanel commenting on the Book of Danieil (1437-1508 [C.E.]), said that a conjunction of [Saturn] and [Zeus / Jupiter] occurring within the constellation of [Pisces] had messianic significance."

"Israel and the Jews are west of Iran / Iraq, from where the astrologers came. Had the astrologers, being from Iran or Iraq, "followed a star in the east" they would have wound up in Shanghai, China—not Yәrushalayim!

The notion that the constellation Leo has "always been associated with the Jews," as some have asserted, has little merit by itself since most constellations can, in some way or another, be associated with nearly anything or anyone. This was not a primary or major association.

"Having identified αστηρ (asteir) as a celestial phenomenon (such as a conjunction, occultation, retrogression, progression, solstice, etc.) rather than a celestial body (star or planet), NHM provides a key to unlocking the mystery of when Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a was born.

"First however, it is appropriate to evaluate Christmas as the claimed birth date. Readers should compare and contrast the following analysis with the findings of Ernest L. Martin and others. There is no record until after 354 C.E. of any connection between Christmas and Jesus (cf. note 1.21.1). So the first Christmas was more than 3 centuries after the death of Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a.

"The American People's Encyclopedia, under the heading "Christmas" reads, "The [Saturnalia] of the Romans and the winter festival of the heathen Britons were both celebrated about Dec. 25,th as was the later Roman festival in honor of the sun [god Mithra], which gave it the name 'Birthday of the Unconquered Sun.' This name was given a symbolic interpretation after the festival was adopted by the Christian church in the 4th century… Many customs associated with the Christmas season have pagan origins."

"According to Tan"kh—the only Scripture recognized by historical Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a, it is asur to adopt or emulate any pagan practices (Dәvarim 12:30-31; 18:9 & 20:18; va-Yiqra 20:23). Similar origins underlie Easter (the festival to the idol-[goddess Ishtar]), Shabat to [Sun-god-day], other saints days (such as Silvester on 01.01), etc. It is not clear what evidence, if any, some scholars have cited for Christmas in 354 C.E. but it doesn't relate to the "nativity." The earliest documentation of Christmas seems to be the annual calendar published by Dionysius XIX Exiguous whose calendar was first published in 527 C.E., first establishing 03.25 as the official "Annunciation" and 12.25 as the "Nativity" ("Dionysius [19]," William Smith and Henry Wace, eds., "A Dictionary of Christian Biography," (Millwood: Kraus Reprint, 1974), I:853). See also footnote "Easter" and NHM, note 2.2.1.

As mentioned earlier, "The Dec. 25 dating is contradicted in the earliest extant source documents underlying the NT. In Lu. 2:8 there were shepherds camped-out with their flocks at the time of the birth of Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a. Yet, ancient records document that it was in the spring that shepherds led their flocks out into the hills for a months-long nomadic pasturing trek. The shepherds moved their campsites a few hills along every few days to permit pasturing on new hills, radiating out each day from the campsite, and moving their campsite every few days as available pasturage required. This nomadic trek ends in late autumn of each year when the flocks and shepherds work their way back to their homes.

"I have observed this practice while doing miluim' (reserve duty) with the Tza′ ha"l. During this period (late spring through early autumn), there is almost never any rain in Israel. The flocks are brought out after the spring rains have ceased. The shepherds and flocks come home for winter shelter before the coming of the winter rains in late autumn—around Sukot… The night winter winds are bitter cold in the hills around Beit-Lëkhëm—as anyone who has pulled reserve duty in the area during the winter will attest. Long before Dec. 25, there were no shepherds still out in the hills with their flocks in the bitter cold winter rains.

"The time of year indicated by shepherds tending their flocks in the field (cf. Lu. 2:8) contradicts Dec. 25, and indeed the entire winter season, as a viable date. Talmud indicates that the flocks in those days were turned out to pasture in the fields in (the Hebrew calendar month equating to) spring and brought back in for the winter in late autumn of each year—fixing the season for the birth between spring and autumn, definitely not in winter."

"The traditional date of B.C.E. 1 for the birth of Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a is also in conflict with ancient records regarding the census, recorded in NHM and the source texts of the NT. Ancient historical records unearthed by archaeologists in 1920 seem to indicate that Herod's taxation census was in B.C.E. 0008. Requiring all citizens to travel to the place of their birth, where their yu•khas•in′  (cf. note 1.0.8) were located, to pay the tax would certainly have taken a year or longer to carry out. Caesar Augustus himself wrote of a census begun in B.C.E. 0008, which would still have been ongoing in the spring of B.C.E. 0007.

"The earliest date for the birth of Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a is generally tagged to the death of Herod, who was still alive when Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a was born. Herod died shortly after an eclipse of the moon. The eclipse in B.C.E. 0004 is been widely considered the correct eclipse. (Martin's defense of the eclipse in B.C.E. 1, while viable, isn't logically compelling. Especially readers leaning toward the B.C.E. 1 eclipse should refer to Martin's arguments.) Further, the celestial phenomena, which can be argued for both eclipses, is closer to the text in B.C.E. 0004.

"The argument for B.C.E. 1 also leans heavily upon the dating of the census tax, which some scholars feel does not support the B.C.E. 0004 dating. Lu. 2.2 indicates that this tax census, or registration, occurred during the rule of Cyrenius (Quirinius) of Syria, who was appointed in 0006 C.E. Seemingly then, Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a had to be born prior to B.C.E. 0004 but after 0006 C.E. —a clear impossibility!

There are however at least two solutions to this seeming intractability:

  1. "Josephus states (Ant., XVII, xiii, 5) that when Quirinius assumed office in Syria in 0006 C.E. he already "had been consul" previously. This is also reinforced by the Lapis Tiburtinus (a 1st century Latin inscription found about 20 miles east of Rome) that indicates a still-to-be-identified proconsul of Syria who had served twice. There are many "blank spots" in the historical records of the proconsulships of Syria during this time, including the spring of B.C.E. 0007. It is, therefore, viable that Quirinius was serving his first term in the spring of B.C.E. 0007 (an otherwise "blank" spot in the records) and was named consul a second time, 12 years later, in 0006 C.E. The verse in Lu. would then have referred not to his second proconsulship in 0006 C.E. but to his first term in the spring of B.C.E. 0007.

  2. "Josephus also states that more than one ruler served simultaneously in Syria. Therefore, Quirinius may have been serving (an earlier first term)—along with one of the recorded proconsuls—during the spring of B.C.E. 0007.

"We must look for celestial phenomena that satisfy these conditions. Martin's proposed date of B.C.E. 0003.09.11 (Sep. 11 of B.C.E. 3) is based primarily on his mistaken claim that this was Yom Tәru•âh′ . That year, Yom Tәru•âh′  occurred 3 days earlier, on B.C.E. 003.09.08, eliminating the wind from that ship's sails.

Finally, we may consider the implications of the celestial phenomena relative to the dating of the birth of Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a.

"While excluding representations of living creatures (the zodiac), recognition of the 12 months as annual divisions signaled by 12 divisions in the heavens was evident, according to Josephus anyway, in the 12 loaves of Display Bread as well as upon the outer veil of the Beit ha-Mi•qәdâsh′  ha-Shein•i′ . Thus, while adhering to the admonition of Yi•rәmәyâh′ u (10.2), the 12 tribes were associated with these 12 heavenly divisions and may be related to the blessings given by Yi•sәr•â•eil′  to his 12 sons (bә-Reish•it′  49). Whether blessing Yәhud•âh′  as the "lion" is in any way associated with the fifth constellation, etc. has not been persuasively shown. Yet, there is no reason to suppose that the Jews were unaware of the image associations of the zodiac among the goy•im′ . Martin also notes that Yo•seiph′  dreamed that "the Sun represented his father, the Moon (being feminine in Hebrew) his mother, and his eleven brothers were the eleven constellations of the zodiac."

"Astrologers believed that [Saturn] influenced the destiny of the Jews since the Jews observed [Saturn-day], the seventh day of the week, as Shab•ât′ . [Zeus / Jupiter] was reckoned 'the Planet of the Messiah.' Rav Roy A. Rosenberg showed that Israeli sages long ago recognized that the Hellenists associated the planet Zeus / Jupiter with the Hebrew name , as corroborated in Talmud. Throughout the period of the Beit ha-Mi•qәdâsh′  ha-Shein•i′  and later, became a synonym for the Mâ•shi′ akh. Indeed, the messianic significance of the word went back as early as the sixth century B.C.E. Epithets derived from the root are applied to the Mâ•shi′ akh in Judaic tradition ever since Yi•rәmәyâh′ u 23.5f and 33.15f called him -- (-- Tzi•dәq•ei′ nu; -- [is] our Justness).

"The reference in Yәsha•yâh′ u to 'the man from the East' who was prophesied to redeem Israel (41.2), shows that this redeemer would be called . This text in Yәsha•yâh′ u was accepted in Judaic circles as having messianic overtones because the Mâ•shi′ akh was also destined to come from the East (Yәkhëz•qeil′  43.1,2; NHM 24.27).

The Jews looked upon him as the royal offspring of Dâ•wid′  (Yi•rәmәyâh′ u 23.5 and the Qum•rân′  scrolls). More than that, the word was associated with the word to form . This too was a messianic term.

"The association between the Mâ•shi′ akh, the arrogation and Romanization of the concept, and [Zeus / Jupiter] may have influenced Hadrian's choice of [Zeus / Jupiter] as the shrine erected over the site of the destroyed Beit ha-Mi•qәdâsh′ . The signs in the heavens may be associated with remarks of the patriarchs and the history of the Jews. Martin asserts that the star Regulus, the diminutive of Rex, meaning king, and related to "regal" lies "directly between the feet of the Lion," (the constellation) and relates it to bә-Reishit 49.10 and bә-Midbar 24.17.

"Concerning the 'Magi,' they were a "priestly caste in ancient Persia. They are thought ot have been followers of Zoroaster, the Persian teacher and prophet…. Gradually, the religion of the magi incorporated Babylonian elements, including astrology, demonology, and magic. (The word magic is derived from the word magi.) By the 1st century [C.E.], the magi were identified with wise men and soothsayers." Darius I (BCE 522-486) was "probably the first Persian king to recognize the religion proposed by Zoroaster." Akhashveirosh (BCE 486-465; also called Xerxes I, son of Darius I) of Danieil 9.1 and the book of Esteir was probably a Zoroastrian by religion. Artakhshast (BCE 465-425), also called Artaxerxes I, synthesized polytheism with Zoroastrianism. Artakhshast II (BCE 404-359), also called Artaxerxes II, to whom "a growing number of scholars date Ezra's mission in the seventh year of his reign,"20 venerated several gods, and subsequently (from B.C.E. 312 into the common era) "cults of foreign gods flourished along with Zoroastrianism."

"Martin posits that the Magi derived from a priestly group of the Medes and Persians [i.e. the Zoroastrians] and that Danieil became the chief Magi during the reign of King Nәvu-khad-nëtz•ar′  (based on Danieil 5.11). "Perhaps the fraternization of Danieil with the early Magi helps to explain why they expected a king of the Jews to arrive near the end of the first century."

"Concerning 1st century messianic expectations, one should recall the 483 years (69 of the 70 "weeks" / sevens of years; 69 x 7 = 483) prophesied by Danieil from the command to build Yәrushalayim by the king of Ba•vël′  in B.C.E. 445 until the execution of the Mashiakh (Danieil 8:24-27).21

"Though many point out that the typical year on the Judaic calendar has about 5 less days than the secular calendar, these self-proclaimed prophets who fail the criteria of Dәvarim 13.2-6 are unaware that the calendar is also on a cycle which includes leap-years and corrections. Thus, this prophecy points to a window 483 years after the year B.C.E. 453—c. 30 C.E.—as the approximate time at which Danieil prophesied explicitly the Mashiakh would be "cut off from among the living." Since he would be expected to be a man of perhaps 25-40 at the time of his execution, the Israeli nәviyim needed only to extrapolate from 30 C.E. back to the calculated time of his birth—a window beginning in approximately 3751-2 (B.C.E. 10) but probably before 3766-7 (5 C.E.).

"Similarly, we need only examine this same window. In the years 3754-5 (B.C.E. 7), [S*aturn] and [Z*eus / J*upiter] were in conjunction three times in the pre-dawn sky. There are several dates given for these conjunctions in various texts because there are three methods of defining "conjunction":

  1. celestial longitude,

  2. right ascension, and

  3. least apparent angular separation.22

Thus, Tuckerman indicates the conjunctions according to celestial longitude as

  1. B.C.E. 0007.05.27,

  2. B.C.E. 0007.10.05, and

  3. B.C.E. 0007.12.01

Sinnot gives the conjunctions according to right ascension as

  1. B.C.E. 0007.06.02,

  2. B.C.E. 0007.09.26, and

  3. B.C.E. 0007.12.11.23

"Dr. E. Myles Standish Jr. of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Ca. indicates the dates according to least apparent angular separation as

  1. B.C.E. 0007.05.29,

  2. B.C.E. 0007.10.01, and

  3. B.C.E. 0007.12.05

"This last method is the one which the ancient astronomer-astrologers, using their naked eyes and lacking modern instrumentation, used and is, therefore, the one adopted in NHM. These dates correspond on the Hebrew calendar to Thirdmonth1.18.1 (Sivan) 1, 3754, Seventhmonth1.18.1 8, 3755 (as the Hebrew calendar today reflects the change of year beginning with the seventhmonth) and Tenthmonth1.18.1 13, 3755 respectively.

"The significance of three conjunctions and their timing is interpreted as follows:

"The first conjunction signalled the birth of Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a on B.C.E. 0007.05.29 / Thirdmonth (Sivan) 1st, 3754. This exact birthdate may also be hinted in Lu. One of the high points of a young man's Bar Mitzvah is the reading of his Haphtarah selection from the nәviyim. Yet, this seems to be ignored in the account of Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a's Bar Mitzvah in Lu. 2:42ff. In the second year of the Triennial Cycle used then, the Haphtarah selection for Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a's Bar Mitzvah on the first Shabat of Sivan is Yәshayahu 60:17—61.9. In Lu. 4.16-20 he is seen delivering this very Haphtarah selection, the only one in the year which included Yәshayahu 61.1-2!

"The astrologers would have made their sightings independently, analyzed their meanings and, in following days and weeks arranged meetings together to discuss the significance. Eventually, the astrologers decided to arrange a caravan and to go to Israel to investigate the matter further and ask of the "Israeli scientists" more detailed information on the meaning of this phenomenon.

"At Moah in the central A•râv•âh′ , "remains of the 2,000-year-old, 17-room Moah caravansary excavated by archaeologist Rudolph Cohen of the [Israel Antiquities Authority] include an elaborate bathhouse. "Caravansaries were erected by the Nabataeans about every 30 kilometers [along the Tei•mân•im′  Az•âh′  spice route], a day's journey for a loaded camel.

"In her book The Syrian Desert, Christina P. Grant describes the organization of caravans in antiquity as complex operations requiring considerable managerial skills and discipline. "The principal financial backer would name a convoy commander—generally a Bedouin sheikh—who would have complete authority. Salt caravans crossing the Sahara today sometimes number as many as 1,000 camels and ancient caravans presumably numbered that many or more at times given the amount of goods being moved.

"The organizational stage, which could take months, involved mobilizing camels and drivers, assembling the goods to be transported, arranging for fees to be paid to tribes whose territory would be crossed, arranging business contracts and insurance.

"Once under way, a guide and advance guard rode several kilometers in front of the caravan. At the head of the main body, rode the convoy commander and his staff. Armed outriders guarded the flanks of the convoy from raiders. The camels would be tied to each other in line and [a number of] 'empty' [camels] would plod along at the rear as spares. If a sandstorm obliterated signs of the trail and orientation were completely lost, the leader would order a halt until nightfall so that he could navigate by the stars.

"Camp would be made an hour or two before sunset. The camels would be unloaded and the packs placed in a circle to provide a perimeter of defense. The travelers would sleep inside the circle while the guards took turns as sentries. At caravansaries along the route, apparently only wealthy travelers luxuriated inside the bathhouse and dining halls while the remainder made do in the caravan camp." (That Yoseiph and Miryam attempted to obtain space in the "inn," then, suggests that they were affluent.)

The meetings, discussions, planning, arrangements for a caravan, stocking provisions for the journey, the journey itself, various inquiries upon their arrival in Yәrushalayim and arranging a meeting with Herod—all of this could well take them slightly over four months—from 05.29 to 10.01. After the astrologers had obtained the information from Herod (and his advisors), upon leaving the meeting, a second conjunction (B.C.E. 0007.10.01) confirmed that they were on the right track and that they should look in Beit-Lëkhëm.

"There were now five weeks until the final conjunction (though the astrologers were not aware of this in advance). They would have spent a few days replenishing their provisions, afterwards walking to Beit Lekhem within one day. If they took a week they still should have been there no later than 10.08.

"They still needed to identify the right child (who was now over four months old—and definitely no longer in a manger). How would they do this? The simplest method would have been to list all of the male children in Beit Lekhem who were of approximately the right age and take turns setting a watch over each candidate's house—tonight over house #1, tomorrow night over house #2, etc. When they reached end of the list, they would have started over, repeating the procedure until another conjunction confirmed that "tonight's" vigil-house was the correct one.

"On the eve of 12.05 (not 12.25 as Martin suggests) calculations demonstrate that they were keeping watch at the house of Yoseiph Ben-David when the third conjunction occurred, confirming that this was the child. The magi must have watched over a different house in Beit Lekhem for close to a month waiting for the sign. When the Magi presented their gifts, Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a was more than six months old. Cf. Yәshayahu 60:3."

This merely scratches the surface. It was centuries after the death of Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a that Roman gentiles "changed the times and seasons," fulfilling the prophecy about the antichrist in Daniyeil 7.25 by extirpating the Nәtzarim under Constantine in 333 C.E., introducing Christmas, changing Shab•ât′  to the idolatrous Sun-god-day, changing Pës′ akh to the idolatrous festival for Ashtoret (Ishtar = Easter) and many others. Almost any encyclopedia will confirm these basics for you.

Why would you want to continue following the antinomian Displacement Theology of Roman pagans instead of the authentic teachings of historical Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a??? If you believe that Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a is the Mashiakh, as the Nәtzâr•im′  do, then follow historically-accurate Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a, NOT his alter-ego, arch-antihesis antichrist. The promise of salvation from the antichrist is an empty promise that may give you a "warm and fuzzy" feeling but brings no salvation from the Elohim of Israel and the Bible. If you want to find salvation that carries Biblical authority, you must learn and follow the only Bible taught by historical Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a of Nazareth, the Hebrew Tanakh (Jewish Bible). Continuing to follow his Roman Hellenist (Greek) pagan alter-ego and arch-anthesis—the antichrist and his Greek "Bible"—can never save you.

Celebrating Christmas is irredeemably pagan, through and through; having nothing whatsoever to do with any religious Jew from Nazareth. Celebrate Kha•nuk•âh′  instead (see the story in our Judaic Calendar page)… but be careful not to mix the holy theme with the pagan theme (which the Bible prohibits).

The most serious violation is to support the Arab occupation of Beit-Lëkhëm by visiting Beit-Lëkhëm during the Christians' idolatrous celebrations in the days leading up to and including Dec. 25th. Do not celebrate Xmas and do not support the Arab occupation of Beit-Lëkhëm by your visit.

The Nәtzâr•im′  are based in Raanana, Israel and are the first and only followers of historical Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a as Mashiakh to be recognized as legitimate and in good standing in the same religious community as Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a and his original Nәtzâr•im′  followers—the <ancient Pharisaic cum modern Orthodox> Jewish community in Israel—since 135 C.E.!!!

Discover how the 135 C.E. Roman apostasy continues even today to misdirect millions astray from salvation into ancient Roman paganism. Just click on our olive-trees & mәnorah logo to the only legitimate Nәtzarim web site and follow our village tour signs (at the bottom of major web pages)… and learn more than you ever imagined about Judaism and Christianity from the time of Rib′ i Yәho•shu′ a through the fourth century C.E. Your salvation depends upon knowing the historical truth. (If you have any technical difficulties, just go to www.netzarim.co.il., the only legitimate Nәtzarim web site.)

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