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Pesher of Christ: Finding the birth of Jesus
from the priestly course of John the Baptist's father Zacharias

© 2013 by Dylan Stephens


It has always been tantalizing to try to use Zacharias (Zechariah), the father of John the Baptist, who is said to be at the temple on his priestly course: 8th - Abijah.(Luke 1:5). The reason for this is that everything connects from this to the birthday of Jesus in a linear fashion:

  • Zacharias priestly course of Abijah points to time of the conception time of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5,8,23)
  • then there is the missed period (1 month) when Elizabeth goes to the hill country to hide herself for five months (Luke 1:24) shown as the six month: June (Luke1:26) (Note: given 5 months +3 months until birth, conception must have happened shortly after Zacharias finished his priestly course)
  • Jesus' conception can be linked to this June date because Mary arrives at Elizabeth's house fearing conception before betrothal ("with haste" therefore in panic) (Luke 1:39,40)
  • Shortly after this, Mary's missed period confirms the conception (the image of the child jumping in her belly (Luke 1:41) from Elizabeth's six months follows three months and then she returns to give birth to John the Baptist in September (Luke 1:56,57)
  • With Mary having conceived in late June, the birthday of Jesus would be in March, he being just 6 months younger that John the Baptist.

Thus if it can be proved that Zacharias finished his course and had sex with Elizabeth in late December, this would confirm the above series of events and Christian would have to accept that Jesus was not born at Christmas.

The problem with those who have worked it out the priestly course of Abijah was that they tried to follow the Jewish Calendar with all its idiosyncrasies with the idea that the priestly courses had to be adjusted to fix calendar years. Then being biased in believing that Jesus was born on Christmas and also still confused by Luke's nativity, they fudged the numbers. Instead, they needed to follow the direction of the Essenes by strictly adhering to the rules of Enoch and the laws of King David as the Essenes have done. By reference to the Essene calendars in the Dead Sea Scrolls, the calculation is simplified and obvious: just subtract sets of 24 weeks.

Now it is true that the year cannot be predicted directly from Luke Chapter 1, but it can be predicted by Luke chapter 2: the Census of Quirinius in 6AD when Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem. (see YOUTUBE video: Jesus Journeys #1 - Bethlehem) and the blog: "Jesus' Birthdate: Duh! Luke shows his Bar Mitzvah".That title says it all: Jesus was 12 years old at his Bar Mitzvah at the census of Cyrenius taxation) (7BC (-1 because no zero between BC and AD) +6AD). If Jesus was born in 7BC then he was conceived in 8BC and John the Baptist in December of 9BC, so if we find that Zacharias ended his priestly course in December 9BC, then we will have proved Jesus' birth in March. This is the first time that you will see the calculations done in the correct manner, but is is just one piece of the coherent whole which is the Pesher of Christ on this site.

The priestly course of Zacharias (Zechariah), the father of John the Baptist, was 8th - Abijah.
These courses were assigned in 1Chronicles 24:7-18 by King David and reassigned in the same order by Ezra.

Luke 01:05 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest, by name Zacharias, of the course of Abijah, and his wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name Elizabeth; Luke 01:06 and they were both righteous before God, going on in all the commands and righteousness of the Lord blameless, Luke 01:07 and they had no child, because that Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in their days.

Luke 01:08 And it came to pass, in his acting as priest, in the order of his course before God, Luke 01:09 according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot was to make perfume, having gone into the sanctuary of the Lord, Luke 01:10 and all the multitude of the people were praying without, at the hour of the perfume.

Luke 01:11 And there appeared to him a angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of the perfume, Luke 01:12 and Zacharias, having seen, was troubled, and fear fell on him; Luke 01:13 and the angel said unto him, "Fear not, Zacharias, for your supplication was heard, and your wife Elizabeth shall bear a son to you, and you shall call his name John, Luke 01:14 and there shall be joy to you, and gladness, and many at his birth shall joy, Luke 01:15 for he shall be great before the Lord, and wine and strong drink he may not drink, and of the Holy Spirit he shall be full, even from his mother's womb; Luke 01:16 and many of the sons of Israel he shall turn to the Lord their God, Luke 01:17 and he shall go before Him, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn hearts of fathers unto children, and disobedient ones to the wisdom of righteous ones, to make ready for the Lord, a people prepared."

Luke 01:18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, "Whereby shall I know this? for I am aged, and my wife is advanced in her days?"

Luke 01:19 And the angel answering said to him, "I am Gabriel, who have been standing near before God, and I was sent to speak unto you, and to proclaim these good news to you, Luke 01:20 and lo, you shall be silent, and not able to speak, till the day that these things shall come to pass, because you did not believe my words, that shall be fulfilled in their season."

Luke 01:21 And the people were waiting for Zacharias, and wondering at his tarrying in the sanctuary, Luke 01:22 and having come out, he was not able to speak to them, and they perceived that a vision he had seen in the sanctuary, and he was beckoning to them, and did remain dumb.

Luke 01:23 And it came to pass, when the days of his service were fulfilled, he went away to his house, Luke 01:24 and after those days, his wife Elizabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying -- Luke 01:25 "Thus has the Lord done to me, in days in which He looked upon [me], to take away my reproach among men."

Mary's conception of Jesus

Luke 01:26 And in the sixth month was the angel Gabriel sent by God, to a city of Galilee, the name of which [is] Nazareth, Luke 01:27 to a virgin, betrothed to a man, whose name [is] Joseph, of the house of David, and the name of the virgin [is] Mary.

Luke 01:28 And the angel having come in unto her, said, "Hail, favored one, the Lord [is] with you; blessed [are] you among women;" Luke 01:29 and she, having seen, was troubled at his word, and was reasoning of what kind this salutation may be.

Luke 01:30 And the angel said to her, "Fear not, Mary, for you have found favor with God; Luke 01:31 and lo, you shall conceive in the womb, and shall bring forth a son, and call his name Jesus; Luke 01:32 he shall be great, and Son of the Highest he shall be called, and the Lord God shall give him the throne of David his father, Luke 01:33 and he shall reign over the house of Jacob to the ages; and of his reign there shall be no end."

Luke 01:34 And Mary said unto the angel, "How shall this be, seeing a husband I do not know?"

Luke 01:35 And the angel answering said to her, "The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you, therefore also the holy-begotten thing shall be called Son of God; Luke 01:36 and lo, Elizabeth, your kinswoman, she also has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month to her who was called barren; Luke 01:37 because nothing shall be impossible with God."

Luke 01:38 And Mary said, "Lo, the maid-servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your saying," and the angel went away from her.

Luke 01:39 And Mary having arisen in those days, went to the hill-country, with haste, to a city of Judea, Luke 01:40 and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elizabeth.

Luke 01:41 And it came to pass, when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe did leap in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, Luke 01:42 and spake out with a loud voice, and said, "Blessed [are] you among women, and blessed [is] the fruit of your womb; Luke 01:43 and whence [is] this to me, that the mother of my Lord might come unto me? Luke 01:44 for, lo, when the voice of your salutation came to my ears, leap in gladness did the babe in my womb; Luke 01:45 and happy [is] she who did believe, for there shall be a completion to the things spoken to her from the Lord."

Luke 01:46 And Mary said, "My soul does magnify the Lord, Luke 01:47 And my spirit was glad on God my Saviour, Luke 01:48 Because He looked on the lowliness of His maid-servant, For, lo, henceforth call me happy shall all the generations, Luke 01:49 For He who is mighty did to me great things, And holy [is] His name, Luke 01:50 And His kindness [is] to generations of generations, To those fearing Him, Luke 01:51 He did powerfully with His arm, He scattered abroad the proud in the thought of their heart, Luke 01:52 He brought down the mighty from thrones, And He exalted the lowly, Luke 01:53 The hungry He did fill with good, And the rich He sent away empty, Luke 01:54 He received again Israel His servant, To remember kindness, Luke 01:55 As He spake unto our fathers, To Abraham and to his seed -- to the age."

Luke 01:56And Mary remained with her about three months, and turned back to her house.

Luke 01:57 And to Elizabeth was the time fulfilled for her bringing forth, and she bare a son, Luke 01:58 and the neighbors and her kindred heard that the Lord was making His kindness great with her, and they were rejoicing with her.

Luke 01:59 And it came to pass, on the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child, and they were calling him by the name of his father, Zacharias, Luke 01:60 and his mother answering said, "No, but he shall be called John."

When the Second Temple was destroyed by Titus of Rome 9 Ab August 4 Sabbath JD 1746841 the priestly course was Jehoiarib
Babylonian Talmud Vol 6 Tract Yomah (Day of Atonement), Michael L. Rodkinson, (1896) Chapter II page 30 & 34

"MISHNA: Formerly, whoever desired to clear the altar of the ashes did so. When there were many of them (priests), they ran on the staircase (leading to the top of altar). Whoever first came within four ells, merited it. When two were on a par, the superintendent said to them (all priests): Put forth your fingers. Which did they put forth ? One or two, but not the thumb in the Temple (which were counted instead of the persons they belonged to, and the service was given to the last)"

Once an accident happened: one of two who were running up the staircase pushed his companion, so that he fell, and broke his foot. Seeing that it is attended by accidents, the Beth Din made the reform, that the altar should be cleared by lot. There were four lots ...

"For performing the following four services a layman deserves capital punishment: namely,

  • sprinkling,
  • offering of incense,
  • officiating at the water-offering and
  • the wine-offering.
And so also Levi taught in his Boraitha; also as to the lifting of the ashes."

Babylonian Talmud Vol 8 Tract Taanith (Fasting), Michael L. Rodkinson, (1896) Chapter IV page 86

"MISHNA: ... Whence do we know that the second Temple was also destroyed on the 9th of Abh? We have learned in a Boraitha: "A happy event is credited to the day on which another happy event happened, while a calamity is ascribed to the day when another calamity occurred; and it was said that when the first Temple was destroyed it was on the eve preceding the 9th of Abh (Av), which was also the night at the close of the Sabbath and also the close of the Sabbatical year. The watch at the time was that of Jehoiarib, and the Levites were chanting in their proper places, at that moment reciting the passage Psalms 94:23: "And he will bring back upon them their own injustice, and in their own wickedness will he destroy them"; and they did not have time to end the passage, which concludes, "yea, he will destroy them--the Lord our God," before the enemy entered and took possession of the Temple. This happened also at the destruction of the second Temple."

As shown by the Mishmarot Calendar which shows the priestly courses overlaid on the Essene Solar Calendar found in Dead Sea Scroll fragments 4Q320 and 4Q321, it is clear that priestly courses were not adjusted for years and months, but were based purely on weeks, so it is possible to just count weeks backwards from the fall of Jerusalem. (It would have to be assumed anyway because being 24 weeks, even two sets at 48 fall short of a year of 52 weeks!)
Calculating backward from the Fall of Jerusalem to the probable year of 9 BC

Although the actual fall of the the Second Temple is 9 Ab 3830, Sabbath August 4 70AD JD 1746840.5 (Josephus Wars Book 6.4.5), the seventeenth of Panemus/Tammuz 17 3830, Sabbath July 14 70AD JD 1746820 is the commemorated fast day because "in half a week caused the sacrifice and oblation to cease" (Josephus Wars Book 6.2.1 ). I suspect that the statement that this happened before is fudged a bit in the Mishna and that Jehoiarib did not happen on 9 Ab, but earlier on Tammuz 17 because with no priest on duty after this date, it would not be true.

Having worked backwards before to simplify the math, I now choose Sabbath October 19 9BC JD 1718428. The choice of 9BC is not arbitrary, but by knowing that Jesus was 12 years old at his Bar Mitzvah at the census of Cyrenius taxation) (7BC (-1 because no zero between BC and AD) +6AD). As with the course of Abijah, Luke, who is writing for Jesus, is giving exact figures, but purposefully obscuring them like his parables! Josephus Antiquities 18.2.1. says that the Quirinius Taxation happened 37th years after Actium in 31 BC thus 6 AD (inclusive counting) and many other sources confirm this date.

Subtracting the two JDs gives -28392 converted to weeks then to course set of 24 (-28392/7/24) equals -169 sets of 24 for the recurrence of Jehoiarib.

So using October 19 9BC JD 1718428 and adding 7 days x 8 courses gives Abijah at JD 1718484 Sabbath December 14 9BC

Thus Zacharias, ending his course on Sabbath December 21, leaves to conceive John the Baptist with Elizabeth ("barren" thus following the Essene standard of sexual relations only when conceiving a member of the priest or David line), he would not be allowed to act as a priest ("struck dumb"). Clearly, the conception of John the Baptist happened within a month of this. Having missed her period (1 month), she leaves her priestess role and goes to the hill country of Judea for five months.Thus it is the about the middle of the "sixth month" (Luke 1:26) that Mary finds herself pregnant in June, the sixth month on the calendar. (Actually also six months length for Elizabeth (Luke 1:36). It all fits to show that Zacharias had left his second yearly course.)

It is too complicated to describe here the reasons that Mary left "with haste" to join Elizabeth (Luke 1:39), but clearly the conception of Jesus has happened in June, eliminating Christmas as a possibility! She and Elizabeth stay there until Elizabeth gives birth to John in September 8BC, which is the acceptable time for a birth. Thus Zacharias and Elizabeth are called "righteous before God". Jesus will be born in March 7BC, his birth month being illegitimate to some factions compared to John's in September, which conformed to the birth month for priests and kings.

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