Venus The Star Of Bethlehem

Copyright Ó2003-11 Bruce Alan Killian       22 Dec 2011 A.D.  Email: bakillian at earthlink.net

To index                      file: www.scripturescholar.com/VenusStarofBethlehem.pdf

The Star of Bethlehem was Venus, the brightest star in the sky. This star guided the magi by pointing to a picture in the sky of a lion with a scepter, indicating the Jewish Messiah, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the one to rule all the earth was coming. It was a study of the Scripture not the heavens that led to finding that enigmatic star.

 

Constellation

of Leo before sunrise from Jerusalem August 24,

2 B.C.[1]

 

 

 

Numbers after names are the relative brightness; lower numbers are brighter, negative numbers are very bright.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scepter in the hind feet of the lion

 

Venus

Horizon

Sun

Why did the Magi (wise men) go to Jerusalem to worship a child king? The short answer is they observed Venus rise before sunrise as shown above and continue to rise after sunrise on August 24, 2 B.C.[2] Venus, called a wandering star by the ancients (Jude 1:13), fulfilled prophecies given by Jacob c. 1800 B.C and by Balaam c. 1400 B.C. The Magi explained why they came, “we observed his star at its rising” (Matthew 2:2 all RSVCE unless noted). The image shows Venus rose just before dawn to mark a line of planets formed by Mercury, Mars and Jupiter.[3]

Why identify Venus as the Star of Bethlehem? Jesus called himself “the bright morning star” (Revelation 22:16). Venus is ‘the bright morning star’. How can the ‘bright morning star’ be identified as Venus? First, Venus can be seen during the day and is the brightest natural object in the sky after the sun and moon. It is the brightest object that can be called a star. Second, the ancients referred to exactly two planets as ‘morning stars’, they were called morning stars because they were normally only visible for a few hours before dawn. The morning stars are Mercury and Venus. They are morning stars because when they are visible in the morning they are normally only visible for a few hours before sunrise. This is a result of their orbits being closer to the sun than the earth. All other heavenly bodies are further from the sun than they earth and are therefore visible throughout the night. Mercury and Venus are also the evening stars. Again they are the evening stars because when they are visible in the evening they are only visible for a few hours after sunset. Since Jesus calls himself the bright morning star or Venus and the Magi saw His star as it rose, it is likely Venus was the star the Magi saw and we call the Star of Bethlehem. Venus rises as both the morning and the evening star. Since Jesus is ‘the bright morning star,’ it had to be Venus rising in the morning not in the evening. Venus spends about half of its cycle as a morning star. Once every 1.6 years (584 days), Venus rises for the first time with the sun in the morning. Venus rose to mark Jesus’ resurrection Sunday April 5, A.D. 33.[4] When Venus rose near Jesus’ birth, the Magi had to spot Venus on the first day it rose to observe these signs. The Magi where professional astronomer-astrologers so they would be able to spot Venus at the earliest possible time. Since Venus is the brighter of the two morning stars and Jesus is the bright morning star, it is logical to conclude that Venus is His star. The Magi observed His star at its rising therefore the day they observed Venus rise for the first time in a particular cycle would be that time to which they are referring.

How can we identify the specific time the star rose? In Matthew 2:2 the term te anatole (th anatolh) (in its rising) because it is in the singular, with the article and in contrast to apo anatolwn (from east) Matt 2:1 probably is not a geographical expression, but an astronomical expression; simultaneously with its rising [near the horizon] also Matthew 2:9.[5] The term appears to refer to a star simultaneously rising with the sun (a heliacal rising).

Using a free downloadable astronomy program it is possible to determine the date and times Venus rose. Some dates Venus rose are August 24, 2 B.C. and March 27, A.D. 1. This latter date was a Passover, which proves to be significant. If Venus is Jesus’ star and we know when Venus rose in the morning, we can see what the Magi observed. What they saw is the picture on the first page.

Why did God Make the Sun, Moon and Stars?

            The Bible explains the purpose of the sun, moon and stars in the first chapter of the Bible. God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs, seasons, days and years (Genesis 1:14). The Bible groups the sun, moon, stars, planets, comets, etc. together, generally their purpose is to be lights and to order time, but one of their purposes is to be for signs.[6] The word sign in the Bible in its simplest form is used synonymously with our word picture.[7] The stars form pictures that we call constellations, in a connect-the-dots fashion. The Bible mentions constellations, some by name: the Bear, Orion, Pleiades.[8] The sign for the tribe of Judah was a banner with a picture of a lion for the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.[9] The constellation associated with Judah is Leo, which is Latin for lion.[10] From the context sign not only means picture, but has a clear relation to time, because of its association with seasons, days and years. So to summarize one of the purposes for the sun, moon and stars is to be pictures marking particular times.

The Date of Jesus’ Birth

Jesus’ birth appears to be unrelated to this rising of Venus, except that it follows the sign of the Messiah and precedes the following rising of Venus. Jesus was born December 25, 1 B.C.[11] this is the traditional date. This is near the latest date the modern scholarship can support. It led to the finding of the Star of Bethlehem. Census records allowed checking Jesus’ birthday in Rome three hundred years later. God wanted the world to know the date of Jesus’ birth. A search of the census records was requested on at least three occasions to investigate Jesus’ birth. Justin Martyr (100-165 A.D.), addressing Emperor Marcus Aurelius—stated Jesus was born in Bethlehem “as you can ascertain also from the registers of the taxing”. Tertullian (160-250 A.D.) wrote “the census of Augustus—that most faithful witness of the Lord’s nativity, kept in the archives of Rome”. When Cyril of Jerusalem (348-386 A.D.) asked Pope Julius to assign the true date of Christ’s birth “from the census documents brought by Titus to Rome,” Julius assigned December 25.[12] There were two Christmases between the time the magi saw the first sign in the heavens and the second sign in the heavens, the other reasons for selecting this date will be developed under the section on the sun and the moon. The winter months starting about December 15 was the time the shepherds were in the field by night, because it was the lambing season and they were there so that the newborn lambs would not be trampled in the pens where they spent the night most of the year.

The Prophetic Link

The Leader of the Magi at one time was the prophet Daniel (Daniel 2:48) so the Magi learned of God and the Bible. The most important discovery was connecting the dawning sky with the rising of His star on August 24, 2 B.C. to Jacob’s well known prophesy in Genesis 49:9-10. Jacob (also called Israel) calls Judah a lion, thus the Bible links Judah with a lion. Venus rose in the constellation of Leo (Latin for lion). On this day, three planets Mercury, Mars and Jupiter formed a vertical line in the hind feet area of the constellation Leo. Jacob prophesies, “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his” (Genesis 49:10). The three planets in a line form a scepter. The Magi observed a scepter, a mark of kingship, in Leo representing the tribe of Judah marked by His star. After marking the picture, Venus continued to rise in the sky after sunrise.

How a lion can be pictured in the stars of the constellation of Leo.
The image link is http://www.scripturescholar.com/VenusStarofBethlehem.htm/VenusStarofBethlehem_files/image002.gif

A picture of a lion superimposed over the constellation Leo. To allow visualization of the scepter between the feet and His star.

 

 

 

The scepter stars from top to bottom:

August 24, 2 BC.

 

 

 

 

Mercury

Mars

Jupiter

 

 

Venus

The planets formed a line, picturing a ruler’s staff or scepter on August 18 and the stars remained in line gradually pivoting and shortening until the scepter was vertical. The scepter is about the same size as Orion’s belt, but brighter. This passage is in Hebrew poetry; the ruler’s staff and the scepter refer to the same thing. Hebrew poetry repeats or contrasts objects or ideas rather than rhyming words. On the day Venus rose, this line of stars was about to go out of alignment. Venus was ‘He that comes’ to mark the scepter in Leo, Venus represents Jesus, the scepter belongs to Jesus. By the next day August 25, the planets no longer formed a scepter, the scepter had departed. August 24 is the only day that fit the prophecy and one had to have excellent visibility conditions and one had to be alert to spot it then. This date is significant because before the 24th of August the scepter was visible, but His star was not visible and so had not come, after the 24th of August the line of stars no longer formed a scepter.

The Magi were familiar with another prophecy that helped them to understand Jacob’s prophecy. Balaam said, "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17). This is the first mention in the Bible of a single star. The first mention of a word in the Bible is often significant. Balaam refers to a star as ‘him’ and he parallels a star and a scepter. This is a section of poetry so scepter and star are related objects. Verse nine mentions a lion. The meaning of a star will come out of Jacob is the star represents one who would descend from Jacob. The scepter and His star in Leo fulfill both the prophecy by Jacob and the prophecy of Balaam. These are two scriptural witnesses to this sign. The king to whom the scepter belongs was announced. On this day when the bright morning star rose it was visible throughout the day and it set in the direction of Jerusalem. The star preceded them on their journey. Everyone who writes on the Star of Bethlehem mentions this passage, but typically identify the star Regulus with the scepter.

Why the Magi came to worship this newborn King

The Magi recognized the ‘sign’ in the heavens announced a king of the Jews, but why did they journey to ‘worship’ this king? The angel Gabriel revealed to Daniel the year the Christ would come (Daniel 9:24-27). The Magi knew the year of the Christ coming neared, as did all of Israel (Luke 3:15). Daniel, a prophet, predicted four world kingdoms and then a fifth kingdom would be set up as an everlasting kingdom. Everyone would come and worship the king of this fifth kingdom. The Magi knew that since Daniel’s time, four world kingdoms had come: Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece and Rome (Daniel 2:39-44; 8:20-22). This was the sign of the king of the fifth kingdom. "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed" (Daniel 7:13-14 NIV). The Magi came to worship a king who would rule forever and all peoples would worship Him.

Why did the Magi come to Jerusalem and not Rome? The word Jew comes from Judah the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. The scepter would not depart Judah. The scepter was a sign of kingly authority or rule. If one were looking for a King of the Jews, the logical destination was Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the capital and principle city of the Jews. The Magi had a second witness, they saw the morning star as it continued to rise after sunrise in the east, and it traveled through the day until it disappeared before sunset in the west, the direction of Jerusalem. The Magi came to Jerusalem looking for the child king, and they probably assumed this child would be the son of the current king. The Magi came to worship one who was more than a man, the king who would rule the world forever. The Magi timed their arrival in Jerusalem to match the rising of Venus. After learning from the chief priests and the scribes where the king was to be born, they traveled the six south miles to Bethlehem. It is likely that the Magi did not fully understand the sign of the scepter in Leo until they had researched it. They came to Jerusalem timed to match when His star would again be making its next first appearance, so they would be sure to arrive after the child was born.

The Day Star

Peter identifies the morning star as the day star, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star (φωσφρος, phōsphoros) arise in your hearts: (2 Peter 1:19 KJV)”. This is the time in Venus’ orbit when it can be seen throughout most of the day, even at noon, if Venus is sufficiently separated from the sun. H. B. Curtis describes Venus as being visible throughout much of the day.[13] This phenomena occurs when Venus is near the inferior conjunction (that is between the Sun and Earth) when Venus has sufficient ecliptical latitude (separation from the sun), Curtis viewed Venus with an ecliptical latitude of 9.4 degrees. He states that anyone with normal vision could see Venus with unaided eyes during the day.

In the two views of the morning star cited by the Magi, Venus rises less than 3 degrees before the sun, but Venus has an ecliptical latitude over 9.5 degrees. Better conditions than Curtis experienced when he was able to view Venus during the day. For Venus to be seen, one must have excellent visibility, but God who put the planets in orbit controls the weather. Venus is also called the Dayspring in the canticle of Zechariah (Luke 1:78-9) the dayspring has visited us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness.

What the Magi saw in Bethlehem

Bethlehem was a small town of only one street that runs north-south. It was located on the eastern side of the north-south ridge of hills that divides Judah. When the Magi arrived near Bethlehem, they made camp in the shepherd’s fields east of Bethlehem where they had plenty of open space to see the night sky and they would be in position to see the eastern horizon before dawn. On Sunday morning March 27 A.D. 1 the Magi observed Venus, the Star of Bethlehem, as it rose before sunrise and continued to rise into the sky during the day. The bright morning star rose in the east and continued to be visible until shortly before sunset. As the day progressed it was visible first in the east, then overhead and finally it came down in the west over the house where Mary and Jesus were staying in the late afternoon before Passover March 27, A.D. 1. The bright morning star rose during the day and faded away a few degrees above the horizon at a point on the western horizon. Therefore, the star appeared to go before the Magi and disappeared over the house to which God led them. It is much more reasonable for the star to lead them during the day, because they could travel without the danger of accident and injury. That evening the Magi visited that house. By divine ‘coincidence’, Jesus lived there. It was important the Magi went directly to the house of Mary and Joseph or they would stir up commotion in the town and the message of who Jesus was would easily and early reach King Herod in Jerusalem only six miles to the north. The Magi probably spent predawn hour studying the stars and the day watching the Star of Bethlehem they probably went to sleep soon after they left Jesus and Mary. The warning they received in a dream come that night. That there was no commotion stirred up in Bethlehem like occurred in Jerusalem makes it appear the town was practically deserted. This would be the case if most people were in Jerusalem celebrating Passover. If so and Joseph’s dream might have occurred during the watch following the Passover Seder. The watch or vigil was a required period of prayer and waiting (Exodus 12:42), Jesus and his disciples kept this watch in the garden of Gethsemane. Joseph then hurried from Jerusalem to Bethlehem and in the night fled with Mary and Jesus to Egypt. It was Passover night when Israel fled Egypt for the Promised Land, and it was Passover night when the holy family fled the Promised Land for Egypt.

When Venus rose over Bethlehem, it was in the constellation of Aries. Aries is the constellation representing the slain Ram or Lamb. The rising of Venus marked the coming of the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). The Magi rejoiced when they saw Venus rise for two reasons first because they understood they were seeing another sign, Venus marking a Lamb, and they were in a town of sheep and shepherds. The Magi learned from the passage identifying that the King would be born in Bethlehem, that He would shepherd his flock (Micah 5:2-4). Even though they would have known the star would rise in Aries they could not link sheep/Aries to the Messiah until they connected these passages to Bethlehem.

According to the Mishnah (Jewish oral law written c. 200 A.D.), Passover lambs had to be born within the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem, with the limit being a short distance south of Bethlehem. Male lambs born within the set boundary and without defect were designated for either a Temple sacrifice of which the Passover sacrifice was one kind. Jesus born under the Law apparently kept these laws. Many argue Jesus’ birth could not have been in December because it would be too cold and wet for the shepherds to remain in the fields. This argument falls apart when it is understood the Levite shepherds in these fields were required to remain there year round to provide sacrifices for the daily needs of the Temple.[14] A baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger was a ‘sign’ to these shepherds—their job included certifying potential sacrifices were without defect. The shepherds visited to certify the Lamb of God was without defect as required by the law.

The Star of Bethlehem rose to mark the one-year anniversary of Jesus’ conception. He was conceived on Passover and announced by the Star of Bethlehem on Passover. The scepter in Leo marked by Venus appeared about one year before the birth of John the Baptist. The scepter was a sign timed to herald the birth of the one who would prepare the way for our Lord Jesus Christ.[15]

The most popular estimates of what the star of Bethlehem was have attempted to identify the Star of Bethlehem with various conjunctions of the planets with each other or with a star. All references to the Star of Bethlehem refer to a single star not to stars. Others recognizing this problem identify the Star of Bethlehem with a single star often Jupiter or Regulus, one of the stars in the conjunction or with an occultation of a star. The translation of “we have seen his star in the East”, is literally translated we have seen his star at its rising (but the rising always occurred in the East). King Herod killed all the boys in Bethlehem two years of age and under which fits well with the 1.6-year period of Venus. Jesus did not have to be born at the sign, because King Herod understood the Messiah had to be born before the star rose again as Jesus was.

The Magi came at least forty days after Jesus was born. We know this because when Jesus was presented in the Temple at forty days old (Luke 2:22 and Leviticus 12:2-8), the offering was to include a lamb unless the family was too poor to afford a lamb. Joseph could not afford a lamb to redeem the Redeemer; he had no gold, frankincense, or myrrh.[16]

The oft-proposed stopping of a planet over Bethlehem as seen from Jerusalem due to the retrograde motion of a planet cannot be what the Magi saw. They already knew they were to go to Bethlehem; they did not need an additional sign to go there they needed a sign to let them know which house had the child born to rule as king forever. A star visible during the day rising in the east and disappearing over a house in the west after being visible all day was the sign they saw to mark the house they were to visit.

A Problem When Did Herod Die?

Josephus, a Jewish historian, writing c. 90A.D. recorded a lunar eclipse, which occurred shortly before the death of King Herod.[17] The correct eclipse is not March 15, 4 B.C., but December 29, 1 B.C. The eclipse of 4 B.C. was too close to Passover for all the events recorded by Josephus to reasonably occur in that year. The other possible eclipse Jan 10, 1 B.C. was only visible from 2 to 4 AM when few would see it, while in December 29, 1 B.C. the moon has half eclipsed when it rose twenty minutes after sunset. Many more people would have observed the eclipse and its significance as an omen would be more widely recognized. The moon being eclipsed at the horizon would make it appear red increasing its significance as an omen. Josephus records the eclipse because it was interpreted as a sign. This moves the death of King Herod from 4 B.C. to 1 A.D.[18] Josephus records Herod died before Passover. Herod slew the babes of Bethlehem before he died and after the Magi saw the star again.

The Temple officials interpreted the Scriptures as saying Passover falls on the fourteenth day of the lunar month in which the Vernal Equinox preceded the full moon. The Vernal equinox was on March 25 A.D. 1. The first full moon following this would be Passover. Therefore, Passover would be Sunday March 27. The Jews may have delayed Passover so the fall feast of Tabernacles would fall after the Vernal Equinox. This would make it possible for Venus to first be visible on Passover yet have Herod die before Passover the same year. The Magi visited Herod in Jerusalem probably arrived on the tenth of Nisan four days earlier than they visited the holy family; they visited Jesus on Passover, but Herod, according to Josephus, died some time before Passover.[19] Therefore Herod must have planned to celebrate Passover April 25 and so was alive after the Star of Bethlehem rose because he had the babes of Bethlehem slaughtered after the star rose (Matthew 2:10-18), but died less than a month later before Passover, or died before Passover A.D. 2.

There were different calendars in use and Passover was celebrated on different days by groups of people who could not agree on when Passover should be held. There were at least two, a lunar-solar calendar used by the Sadducees and a solar calendar used by the Essenes. The gospels demonstrate this problem; Jesus celebrated Passover on one day while others celebrated at least one day later (Luke 22:15, John 18:28). If Josephus got his details from a group that celebrated Passover later, the problem would be solved. Another possibility Josephus got his details wrong. Josephus is not Scripture, and he was not an eyewitness. Josephus wrote at least seventy years after King Herod’s death. There are many known errors in his writings, for instance he places the death of John the Baptist in A.D. 36 about a four year miscalculation. If the Magi arrived near Passover, Herod would be far more likely to be in Jerusalem. Second, with Passover coming that evening there would be more distractions to keep him from having the Magi continuously watched. There were hundreds of thousands of visitors in Jerusalem. This fits well because Joseph would be in Jerusalem for the Passover. Joseph wasn’t home; the Magi saw the Child and His mother Mary (Matthew 2:11). So that night in Jerusalem, Joseph was warned in a dream to flee with Mary and the child to Egypt.

The Constellations Marked by the Rising of Venus

On Sunday August 24, 2 B.C., Venus rose in the constellation of Leo to mark the scepter. The scepter marked a Jewish King. Jesus is also the lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5). Jesus is the King of the Jews (John 18:33-37) and He is the King of kings (Revelation 17:4, 19:16).

On March 27, A.D. 1, Venus rose in the constellation of Aries. Aries means slain Ram or Lamb. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, much as a Passover lamb would be born. John the Baptist pointed out Jesus as the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36). Lamb is one of the most common titles of Jesus in the New Testament. The Passover lambs were to be in their first year (not yet one year old Exodus 12:5). Jesus was in His first year when His parents fled with Him to Egypt.

During Jesus’ public ministry, Venus rose August 15, A.D. 31. It rose in the constellation of Sextans, but I believe the ancients included this as part of the constellation Leo. The constellation marked by Venus at the resurrection of Jesus was Pisces. (Pisces represents two fish and the link to the fisherman who led a new Church is not a coincidence.  E. W. Bullinger indicates the Hebrew name of Pisces is closely connected with growing as fish do into multitudes. Pisces is also connected with the mystery of the Church.).[20] This was not the first day Venus rose, as there were no Magi to see it. Most observers would be unlikely to see Venus for about two weeks after its first appearance. This is approximately the date it would be visible to all observers. Venus actually rose on March 19, A.D. 33.[21]

The Position of Mercury during these Risings of Venus

During each of these risings of Venus (August 24, 2 B.C., March 27, A.D. 1, August 15, A.D. 31 and April 5, A.D. 33), Mercury was also a morning star with Venus. God says the morning stars ‘sang together’ during the laying of the foundation of the earth (Job 38:4-7). It appears the morning stars ‘sang together’ to announce Jesus’ conception and resurrection. Another link to the ancient plan of God, the Bible says the names in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain were written before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). The signs in the sky were in motion before the earth was formed. The planets were in orbit at the creation of the earth as a sign of the Lamb and signaled His coming in Bethlehem. God set the lights in the sky to be signs (Genesis 1:14) so the sun, moon and stars give signs from God.

The Moon Witnesses to Jesus Birth and Death

Jesus was born December 25, 1 B.C. four days later December 29, 1 B.C. the moon rose after sundown partially eclipsed. An eclipsed moon at the horizon would be red an ominous sign indeed. We have the witness of Josephus that this eclipse near his birth was seen. Jesus’ crucifixion occurred on Friday April 3, A.D. 33 after sundown on this day the moon visible from Jerusalem rose eclipsed. St. Peter strongly confirmed this date by referring to an eclipse of the moon on the day Jesus died. He said, “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood ‘before’ the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord” (Acts 2:20). Peter was quoting Joel 2:31. During an eclipse, the moon is often red particularly when at the horizon.[22] Therefore, in both cases at Jesus’ birth and death the moon was likely red when seen shortly after sundown. Also in the Hebrew of Joel prophesy the word ‘before’ means ‘in the presence of’ or ‘before the face of’ and there is no definite article before day of the Lord so the sun will be darkened and the moon turned to blood in the presence of a day of the Lord. Jesus’ birth and death appear to be days of the Lord.

The Sun Witnesses to Jesus Life

Because Jesus’ birthday was December 25, we can observe new insights. Throughout Jesus’ lifetime, December 25 was the winter solstice. The winter solstice marks the longest night of the year and the point that days start to get longer. The Romans recognized the solstice as the birthday of the sun. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). God had prepared the Roman world to celebrate this day. The sun dawned on the day the son dawned. During each of these signs, the sun is involved. The sun ‘clothes’ (Revelation 12:5) all of these astronomical events because they occur immediately before sunrise or in the case of the moon after sunset. Also all planets shine by reflected sunlight.

Jesus was born during the night, and the shepherds visited him during the night. It was the longest night of the year and Jesus is the light of the world, no day better symbolizes His role of coming into the world to be the light of the world. Zechariah the father of John the Baptist gave a prophesy about Jesus through the tender mercy of our God when the day shall dawn upon us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78-79). Another scripture links the sun and righteousness, “But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings” (Malachi 4:2). The sun is the main source of light to the earth. Without the sun, our planet would be dead. Jesus called himself the “Light of the World” (John 8:12 and 9:5). Without the sun our planet would have no life, without Jesus we have no life.

Since Genesis 1:14 Says the first purpose of the lights (referring to the sun moon and stars is to be for signs, … The sun, moon and the brightest stars all are signs to witness to the birth (ministry, death and resurrection) of the great light (Matthew 4:16) Jesus who did many signs witnessing to His light. There are hints that the night of Jesus’ birth was overcast as well as being the solstice. We are told after the announcement to the shepherds suddenly there was visible a multitude of the heavenly host (likely referring to the stars), so the clouds at that point cleared so that the shepherds would have light to find their way to Jesus’ manger.

The Heavens Worship Jesus

We are commanded not to worship the lights in the heavens but they can worship. Lest perhaps lifting up your eyes to heaven, you see the sun, and the moon, and the stars of heaven, and being deceived by error you worship and serve them, which the LORD your God created for the service to the nations that are under heaven (Deuteronomy 4:19). The heavenly bodies do service to the nations by being lights and day after day giving glory to God. Joseph had a dream where the sun, moon and eleven stars bowed down to worship him (Genesis 37:11).

How can the sun, moon and stars bow before Joseph or Jesus? If the sun were visible the eleven stars would not be visible so the sun bows by hiding itself, either in an eclipse or below the horizon. It is proposed that the sun, moon, and stars bow before Jesus by hiding their light while still revealing their presence.  A second way they bow is by being low that is low on the horizon. It also appears that they bow by being at the feet of the one they worship.

In most cases when the planets or a constellation form a sign, the stars were as low in the sky as they could be and still be seen, and the duration of their presence was short. When the stars formed a scepter in the constellation of Leo the planets were low in the sky as low as they could go and still be visible. When the sun light played a part into the sign, the sun was darkened, it light was hidden (or Venus was a competitor. At Jesus’ birth it was the winter solstice so the sun’s light was at a minimum and it was at midnight so the sun’s light was hidden for the maximum length of time. At Jesus’ death the sun’s light was hidden from noon when its light was normally at its strongest. The moon bowed to worship in two of these signs by being eclipsed. In both cases the moon was only visible on the horizon and then only briefly. In both cases, the moon was partially eclipsed. (At the time of Christ’s death, (3PM) the moon was fully eclipsed, but it was not yet visible above the horizon. when the moon did reveal itself, after sundown, it was just above the horizon. It is interesting as well that the order of the sun being darkened and then the moon turned to blood occurred in each of these instances. At both His birth and death the sun, moon, and stars did not shine. They did reveal their presence after He was born and after He died.

 

The dream of Joseph links the sun to the father, the moon to the mother, and the stars to children. Jesus as the most important Son is represented by the brightest of the Stars. Jesus referred to himself as the bridegroom (Matthew 9:15). Also Psalm 19:4-5 refers the sun as a bridegroom coming forth from his chamber —it appears that when the sun was darkened during Jesus’ crucifixion the sun could represent Jesus as being in the bridal chamber and when Jesus said it is consummated; it was His marriage covenant to the church that was consummated. So when it was consummated the sun representing the bridegroom came forth from its chamber. In the Law the color red represents sin or uncleanness, though your sins be as scarlet, you shall be white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). When a woman gave birth to a son, she was unclean for seven days. So the moon appears to be unclean after the birth of Jesus. When a marriage was consummated, both the husband and wife were unclean until the evening, so the redness of the moon indicating consummation. It is reasonable to conjecture that the sun and the moon are not only worshipping Jesus and witnessing His birth, but announcing it. Now Jesus did not become unclean at His birth or death, but remained holy, see the Immaculate Conception[23]

The Conception of Jesus

Luke 1:26-39 records the conception of Jesus in Nazareth. Jesus was conceived on Passover Wednesday April 7, 1 B.C. Scripture says Jesus’ conception occurred at midnight. For while gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, the all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne, into the midst of the land that was doomed” (Wisdom 18:14). The preceding verses link this event with the Passover.

Midnight would mean Mary was keeping the Passover watch commanded for all Israelites (Exodus 12:42). Mary left in haste for Zechariah and Elizabeth’s home, so she left that night. On that night, before dawn Venus was high and bright, Mercury was bright, and they were together in the constellation of Pisces. Thirty-three years later Jesus and his disciples kept this watch in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was conceived and so had come, while His star was still the morning star, so before His star had departed.

Elizabeth revealed her pregnancy at Passover. She kept it hidden for five months, but had to reveal her pregnancy as she went to Jerusalem for Passover. Because we know, the angel Gabriel came to Bethlehem in Elizabeth’s sixth month. It was early in her sixth month because Jesus was born four months and one day after John the Baptist.[24] This date can also be determined from the priestly of Abijah to which Zechariah belonged. These courses did not reset as many believe each year but continued to rotate as can be seen from the Dead Sea scrolls. [25]

The Start of Jesus’ Ministry

There was a dramatic sign in the stars alluded to in John 1:51 that inaugurated Jesus’ ministry. At the commencement of Jesus’ ministry He told his disciples "Amen, Amen I tell you all shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." This was fulfilled the next evening March 4, A.D. 31, as they returned to Galilee. The clouds parted to reveal a ladder formed by all visible wandering stars, reaching from the earth to the center of the sky with Venus marking the constellation of the lamb. John had just pointed out Jesus as the Lamb of God, and to make straight the way of the Lord, Jesus is the straight way to heaven[26]. The ladder was probably also crossed by a cloud making it look like a cross. See www.scripturescholar.com/LambofGod.pdf for a more complete description. Age thirty was the age at which a person took priestly or kingly office in Israel.

Planetary Visibility

It should be noted that Venus and the planets in the scepter are beyond the limit of visibility ‘today’. There has been an increase of light pollution, moisture, and particles in the air. Factors that affect visibility of Venus besides clouds are the latitude (about 31 degrees north, the total astronomical extinction coefficient (which can vary a lot), the magnitude of Venus (-4.1 very bright) the visual acuity of the Magi and the additional azimuth difference[27] (9.5 degrees, substantial for a planet) and the amount of particles in the air. Modern programs that determine the visibility of planets at their heliacal rising generally take an average visibility. Visibility can vary a lot and is not an exact science. The star of Bethlehem was viewed in ideal conditions. The same God, who placed the planets in their orbits before the foundation of the world, controls the weather, atmosphere and visibility of these planets. “The calculation of visibility phenomena is plagued by uncertainties that will only be resolved by a body of reliable observations that does not yet exist.”[28] Besides extinction, there are three other factors that affect visibility the amount of light from earthbound sources (which dilutes the light), the amount of moisture (which scatters the light) and amount of particles (which absorb the light). These observations were done long before light pollution hindered sighting, there was no light pollution. The humidity would be minimal, they were long before autos and contrails added moisture to the atmosphere. They were also done long before the industrial age increased the amount of particulate matter in the air. God organized the picture so that the brightest planets were closest to the horizon and would most be able to seen. The planets all have about the same visibility because extinction reduces the visibility of the lowest planets, except Mars which because of its red color is less absorbed by the atmosphere. Besides the weather God is also in control of the solar weather. The Forbush decrease refers to a decrease in cosmic rays due to the suns activity. The decrease in cosmic rays dramatically clears the earth’s atmosphere of particles further increasing visibility.

Both the Babylonian’s and Mayan’s tracked and recorded many years of the various phases of Venus and both of these groups recorded the invisibility phase at the inferior conjunction as lasting seven or eight days.[29]  Modern recorders set this period as being about twelve to fourteen days, which means that we can no longer see the heliacal rise of Venus with the clarity the ancients viewed it. Today Venus is not considered visible for about the last three days before it drops below the horizon and for the first three days after it rises above the horizon, while both the Maya and the Babylonians recorded that they saw Venus on the last day before it set and the first day after it rose for decades. This indicates that whatever the extinction coefficient was, the Magi were able to see these signs.

Linking Morning Star to Messiah (before Revelation)

How could the magi know that Venus represented the Messiah before Rev 22:16 was written? There are passages in the Old Testament that link the coming of a great light with the Messiah. Isaiah says, The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. … For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. (Isaiah 9:2, 6-7).

The Gospel in the Heavens

From these signs seen by the magi the gospel was announced because the Bible linked the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Passover Lamb? In Revelation 22:16 where Jesus identified the Bright Morning Star with Himself, He also identifies Himself as the Root of David a phrase that only occurs in one other passage, Revelation 5:5-6 … See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. … Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne. This is the only passage Jesus is identified as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He is also identified as the Lamb looking as if slain. So this passage brings these signs together with the Bright Morning Star. The two signs in the heavens the magi saw are two key titles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They knew the boy was God because they came to “worship Him” and did so. These two signs together succinctly tell the gospel, the long ago promised Divine Son was born to rule the nations and to be the sacrificed Passover lamb for it. The primary purpose of sacrifice was for the forgiveness of sin. So a redeemer would soon arrive.

Summary

The heavens declare the glory of God to all (Psalms 19:1). The sun, moon, fixed and wandering stars all announced His glory. The stars announced that His glorious Son would soon be conceived. The sun and moon gave Him glory by diminishing themselves when He was born and when He died. He was uniquely identified as the one to whom the signs in the heavens referred to when the magi arrived. God makes pictures in the sky that everyone can interpret. One does not have to be a professional astrologer to interpret them, but one does have to observe. Venus rose in the constellation of Leo on August 24, 2 B.C. preceding the birth of John the Baptist by about one year. This sign announced the King comes. Venus rose in the constellation of Aries on March 27, A.D. 1; it marked the first anniversary of Jesus’ conception. Venus was visible from before dawn until late afternoon when it faded form sight it was over the house of the holy family. This sign announced the Lamb of God comes. Venus rose on April 5, A.D. 33 in Pisces and coincided with Jesus’ resurrection. This sign announced the Church comes. A second picture in the sky March 5, A.D. 31, at the start of Jesus’ ministry announced Him as the Lamb of God, the Way to heaven.

The morning stars witnessed the foundation of the earth. God’s plan to redeem us was in progress before Adam walked the earth. Will you ever look at the sky with the same casualness again? Our epoch starts on January 1, A.D. 1, the day Jesus was named and circumcised. This is the day Jesus entered the family of God. Every time you date something, you are witnessing to the birth of the Son of God.

This sign was unique, a vertical scepter at dawn between the feet of Lion of Judah at a heliacal rising of Venus with the brightest stars near the horizon where extinction was the greatest.

Timeline of Events (All dates Julian)                              (JD Julian Day number)

August 20, 2 B.C.

Fri

Scepter forms in Leo

JD 1720923.5

August 24, 2 B.C.

Sun

Venus marks picture of a scepter in Leo

JD 1720927.5

April 6, 1 B.C.

Tue

Jesus conceived—Passover midnight

JD 1721153.5

August 24, 1 B.C.

Tue

John the Baptist born

JD 1721293.5

December 25, 1 B.C.

Sat

Jesus born—Winter solstice

JD 1721416.5

January 1, A.D. 1

Sat

Jesus circumcised

JD 1721425.5

March 22, A.D. 1

Wed

Magi visit Herod in Jerusalem

JD 1721503.5

March 27, A.D. 1

Sun

Magi see the Star of Bethlehem Passover

JD 1721508.5

August A.D. 30

 

Start of the ministry of John the Baptist

 

January 8, A.D. 31

Mon

Jesus’ baptism by John

JD 1732387.5

March 4, A.D. 31

Sun

Picture—Ladder to Heaven—Lamb of God

JD 1732442.5

April 3, A.D. 33

Fri

Jesus’ Crucifixion—Moon turned to Blood

JD 1733203.5

April 5, A.D. 33

Sun

Jesus’ Resurrection

JD 1733205.5

Pictures of Jesus Presented

·          “The Good Shepherd” was inspected by good shepherds; Levites certified Jesus was without defect.

·         “The Light of the World” was born on the festival of lights and the day the Sun was born.

·         “The Bread of Life” was born in the house of bread (Bethlehem). He presented Himself in as food in a manger.

·         “The Lamb of God” was discovered in a town of sheep by a star marking the constellation of the lamb.

·         “The Bright Morning Star” led the Magi to Jesus and they found the Bright Morning Star on the day the Bright Morning Star was born.

·         “The Lion of the Tribe of Judah” had come to receive His scepter of world rule.

·         The Great Light in the Darkness rose to be a light in the day.

Epilogue

On the winter solstice, December 12, A.D. 1531 Venus rose just before sunrise, and with Mercury and Jupiter formed a line low in the eastern sky, a sign of kingly authority or rule. Virgo was in the center of the sky. Then our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego and miraculously left her image on his tilma (outer garment). The two astronomical signs that mark Jesus’ birth, the winter solstice (or the birth of the sun) and the rising of Venus[30] with Mercury just before dawn mark the Blessed Mother’s appearance. The image shows many of the stars present in that sky on Mary’s mantle. As the resurrection was the key event in the evangelization of the world, Mary’s appearance was the key event in the evangelism of the New World. Mary’s hands folded in prayer and her words always point to Jesus. This is the only tangible ‘relic’ of Mary. Mary’s image on the rough cactus fiber cloth is detailed enough to allow with magnification Juan Diego’s image to be seen in Mary’s eyes.[31] The signs established by God before He made our world link the Star of Bethlehem with Mary’s visit to Mexico City over fifteen hundred years later. These signs also show that God has the sun, moon and stars honoring Mary as Our Lady of Guadalupe. Mary eclipses the sun, is over the moon and crowned with the stars.

For Further Research

The author has written a second article that looks at this subject as a Bible detective www.scripturescholar.com/StarOfBethlehem.pdf

The author has an article that details the whole life an ministry of Jesus that includes the eight signs in the heavens of Jesus life see www.scripturescholar.com/ChronologyJesus.pdf This article shows that it was not just Jesus’ conception and flight into Egypt that were linked to the Passover, but practically every aspect of His life and ministry as well.

Not all Star of Bethlehem theories can answer the fact the Bible presents about this star see http://www.scripturescholar.com/StarOfBethlehemNotes.pdf for a list of answers that star must be able to provide.

For a fuller understanding of the woman and the dragon in Revelation 12 see http://www.scripturescholar.com/ApocalypseKey.pdf.

Problems with other Star of Bethlehem Theories

Michael R. Molnar an astronomer in The Star of Bethlehem; Legacy of the Magi, said the magi did not see the star as it rose, but calculated it, because Jupiter was occulted by the moon. This is a problem because Matthew says the magi said we “saw” his star rise. If the star was obscured it could not be seen. A second problem with his theory is the magi needed to know Roman astrology to interpret it. Molnar has a long section on interpreting Roman horoscopes, not something that the Scriptures or Christianity can condone.

 

Fredrick Larson is a lawyer and does and excellent job of selling the wrong identification of the Star of Bethlehem. He identifies the Star of Bethlehem as Jupiter. He also notes that Jupiter is the largest of the planets, but that was unknown to the ancients who would see Venus as the most important because it was the brightest. He sees the king of the Jews identified in a month long shallow loop of Jupiter near Regulus the king star in the constellation of Leo. It does not “crown” this star but loops near it as it appears to loop like a Spiro graph drawing continuously in the sky. He then observed a close conjunction of Venus and Jupiter to indicate the conception of Jesus and he claims these two stars coming together was the brightest star anyone had ever seen. The problem is that Venus at its inferior conjunction is brighter than these two stars together. Finally he saw a link between the woman in Revelation 12 giving birth, but he fails to mention this happens each year and that it was not visible because it was during the day. He further presents the star guiding the magi to Bethlehem when they already knew that was where they were to go, but not identifying which of the many boys in Bethlehem was the newborn king. The stopping of Jupiter is when it reverses and goes into retrograde motion, but this point really does not even point to Bethlehem because when do you determine that this has occurred, visually you can’t, and when during the night?

 

A miracle—many believe the star that guided the magi was simply a miracle. A light clearly called a star. Today we live at a time that planes fly over head all the time, God could have done this but why say a star guided them rather than an angel. It is clear from the information presented in this article that God was able from the foundation of the world to use the lights He set in the sky to guide the magi. I believe that most who hold this view do not recognize the special attributes of the planet Venus. These stars could be seen by all, but were faint, one would only see them if they were paying close attention.



[1]Chart by Cartes du Ceil, www.astrosurf.com/astropc. (gives wrong brightness for Venus).

[2]All dates are Julian. At this time Gregorian dates are 2 days earlier August 22, 2. B.C.

[3] Some say extinction made these planets invisible, for a rebuttal see planetary visibility section.

[4]John Pratt, “Venus Resurrects this Easter,” Meridian Magazine Feb. 27, 2001. link.

[5] Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Chicago Press, 1979, p. 62.

[6] Genesis 1:14 … for signs, seasons, days and years. Luke 21:25 There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars.

[7] This is a simplification because sign can mean many things, but picture is one of the primary meanings.

[8] Job 9:9, 38:3, 31-32. Isaiah 13:10; Amos 5:8; Wisdom 7:29

[10] E.W. Bullinger, The Witness of the Stars, 1893, p. 163.

[11]Bruce Killian, “Dionysius Exiguus Got It Right”, 2000. link. Bruce Killian, “The Chronology of Jesus,” 2011. link pg. 25-6.

[12]Cyril Martindale, “Christmas,” The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III, 1908 Robert Appleton Co., Online Edition Copyright, 2003 K. Knight link.

[13] H. B. Curtis, “Venus Visible at Inferior Conjunction,” 1935, pp. 18-19, link http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1936PA.....44...18C.

[14]Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book 2, Eerdmans, 1953, p. 186. link.

[15] Prediction one year before the birth of a miraculous son occurs several other times in the Bible, Genesis 17:21, 18:10-14; 2 Kings 4:16-17.

[16] Isaiah links a rising star in the dark and into the day with specific gifts being brought to the Messiah. Isaiah 60:2-3, 6 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Yahweh rises upon you and his glory appears over you. 3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. … 6 Herds of camels will cover your land, …, bearing gold and frankincense and proclaiming the praise of the Yahweh.

[17]Josephus, Jewish Antiquities XVII, 167. link

[18]John Pratt, “Yet Another Eclipse for Herod,” Planetarian, vol. 19, no. 4, Dec. 1990, pp. 8-14. link.

[19]Josephus, Jewish Antiquities XVII, 191-213. link

[20]E.W. Bullinger, The Witness of the Stars, (Kregel) pp. 93-4. link

[21] On Easter Venus rose an hour before sunrise, its rising likely marks the moment of Jesus’ resurrection.

[22]John Pratt, “Dating the First Easter,” The Ensign 15, No. 6 (June 1985), pp. 59-68. link

[23] Bruce A. Killian, “The Immaculate Conception,” 2008, http://www.scripturescholar.com/ImmaculateConception.pdf

[24] Bruce Killian, “The Immaculate Conception,” A.D. 2008. link.

[25] Bruce Killian, “Dionysius Exiguus, Got It Right,” A.D. 2002, www.scripturescholar.com/DionysiusExiguus.pdf

[26] Bruce Killian, “The Ladder to Heaven—The Lamb of God,” A.D. 2006. link.

[27] Victor Reijs, “Extinction angle and heliacal events” pp. 5-6, http://www.iol.ie/~geniet/eng/extinction.htm.

[28] Planet, Lunar and Stellar Visibility, www.alcyone.de

[29]The Dresden Codex Venus Table,” http://members.shaw.ca/mjfinley/4VENUS.htm.

George Sarton, Ancient Science Through the Golden Age of Greece,  1993, p.77-8 link

[30] Note in this case Venus has been the morning star and this is the last day it will appear as the morning star.

[31]Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, A Handbook on Guadalupe, 1997, pp 1, 68-71, 80, 89-91. Similar link.