Venus The Star Of Bethlehem

Copyright Ó2003-15 Bruce Alan Killian       09 Dec 2014 A.D.  Email: bakillian at earthlink.net

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

                                    File: www.scripturescholar.com/VenusStarofBethlehem.htm

                                    Video: The Bible Reveals the Star of Bethlehem

                                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xHE9U3Pq4o

                                    A 23 minute video covering some of the material presented in this article.

 

Constellation

of Leo before sunrise from Jerusalem August 24,

2 B.C.[1] All dates are Julian.

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Scepter in the hind feet of the lion

 

!Venus

!Horizon

!Sun

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. Later it led them to His house on passover. It was a study of the Scripture not the heavens that led to finding that enigmatic star.

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 saw his star at its rising” (Matthew 2:2). 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] These Venus rises always appeared as resurrections, because Venus was gone for 8 days. 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 phrase ‘en te anatole’ (ἐν th anatolh) (in its rising) because it is in the singular, with the article and in contrast to apo anatolwn (from east) Matthew 2:1 [is] 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). The verb εἴδομεν we saw is in the aorist tense meaning punctiliar action (at a point in time). So they came because of a particular event, not because of an event that endured for weeks or months. This verse is frequently mistranslated, if Matthew meant ‘we have seen’, then he would have used the pluperfect tense.

Using a free downloadable astronomy program it is possible to determine the date and times Venus rose. Venus rises with the sun every 1.6 years. Two 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. It is easy to look at this scene and not realize its significance, but it will be explained. It took the author a year to start to understand it, because the picture needs to be linked to the Scriptures.

  One possible depiction of the banner of the tribe of Judah[6]

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.[7] The word sign in the Bible in its simplest form is used synonymously with our word picture.[8] 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.[9] The sign for the tribe of Judah was a banner with a picture of a lion for the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.[10] The Lion of the tribe of Judah is the Messiah. The constellation associated with Judah is Leo, which is Latin for lion.[11] 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.[12]

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, the Lion of Judah with His scepter, and precedes the following rising of Venus. Jesus was born December 25, 1 B.C.[13] 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. In 70AD when general Titus (later Caesar), conquered Jerusalem, he brought the Jewish census records from the Jerusalem to Rome. These 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.[14]

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 because there was another sign in the heavens marking His birth. The shepherds kept watch in the fields during the winter months starting about December 15, because it was the lambing season. Newborn lambs could be trampled in the sheep pens where the sheep spent the night most of the year. His birth did not occur during passover or tabernacles or the shepherds would have been in Jerusalem for the feast with their flock (to be available for sacrifices). Also they were watching their flocks, not hanging out in a sukkoth (shelters Israelites lived in during the fall feast of booths).

The Prophetic Link

More than five hundred years earlier, the prophet Daniel was the chief of the magi (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.

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

 

 

 

←Regulus (mentioned by other authors as the king star)

 

The scepter stars from top to bottom:

August 24, 2 BC.

 

←Mercury

←Mars

←Jupiter

Mars is not as bright but its red color is not attenuated as much.

←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 (Orion it the brightest constellation in the sky). This passage is in Hebrew poetry; the ruler’s staff and the scepter refer to the same thing. Hebrew poetry repeats or contrasts objects, actions, ideas, etc. 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 fits 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.

Because the magi studied the heavens, they would be most familiar with the Scripture passages mentioning astronomical objects, like sun, moon and stars. 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 crouching lion and a lioness similar to Genesis 49:9. The meaning of a star will rise 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 before sunset. The star preceded them on their journey. Everyone who writes on the Star of Bethlehem mentions this passage, but typically identifies 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. Note, He is going up to heaven, not coming down from heaven, in this scene. 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 to look for the king and not to 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 were sent by the king to the town of Bethlehem six miles (10km) south. 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,[15] “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 (φωσφόρος, 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.[16] 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. The helical rising of Venus occurs on the first day of visibility after the inferior conjunction. Some ancients refer to the horns of Venus, apparently indicating that they could recognize the phases of Venus.[17] Here is a link to an account of one person who saw the horns of Venus in modern times.[18] Horns in the Bible indicate power, e.g. altars had horns.

Two views of Venus the crescent is what it appears like near its inferior conjunction, later it appears smaller and more nearly spherical as it moves further from the earth. The crescent is brighter as viewed from earth because Venus is so much closer to the earth.

In the two helical rising views of the bright morning star cited by the magi, Venus rises less than 3 degrees before the sun, but Venus has an ecliptical latitude (separation from the sun) 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.

Other Venus References in the Bible

Venus is also called the Dayspring (anatole, anatolh)[19] 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. Zechariah the father of John the Baptist gave a prophesy about Jesus “through the tender mercy of our God when the Dayspring 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). If we observe what the text says, this star comes up with the sun, but can be seen in the darkness as a great light, so it is not the sun and can guide our feet (something stars are not known to do). All of these features will be shown to be important. The Dayspring visible with the dawn and after dark so only Venus qualifies.

The Vulgate also identifies the Messiah with the day star in Psalm 110:3 and also associates it with a scepter. This Psalm is the most quoted Old Testament passage in the New Testament at 25 times. Psalm 110 (109):1-3 Douay The Lord said to my Lord: Sit thou at my right hand: Until I make thy enemies thy footstool. The Lord will send forth the sceptre of thy power out of Sion: rule thou in the midst of thy enemies. With thee is the principality in the day of thy strength: in the brightness of the saints: from the womb before the day star I begot thee. Jesus references this passage as referring to Himself for example Matthew 22:44-45 'The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I put thy enemies under thy feet'? If David thus calls him Lord, how is he his son?" Jesus answers that question in Revelation 22:16 "I Jesus have sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. [20] I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star." The reference to the bright morning star refers back to Psalm 110:3 so Jesus confirms that the Vulgate got the translation correct.[21] [22]

Job 11:17 Douay and brightness like that of the noon day shall arise to thee at the evening and when thou shalt think thyself consulted thou shalt rise as the day star.

This star also appears in the Septuagint as the Anatole (the same word Zechariah used in Luke 1:78) the translation of the Hebrew word Tsamach which is used as a Messianic term for Branch but means a shoot or to rise up. This translation occurs in Zechariah 3:8; 6:12; and Jeremiah 23:5. In each of these cases the word Anatole is used in the LXX for the bright morning star. See also Isaiah 4:2. In each case it is reasonable that Zechariah would refer to this because two of the references are in a book that he is named after. So the use of anatole in the Greek Bible referring to the Messiah could explain why the magi called Venus His star long before Revelation 22:16 was written. Zechariah links darkness and the shadow of death, evening is the time when there are shadows of darkness. 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).

There is another word in Greek anatello that was used when one refers to a heavenly object rise. Anatello is used of the rising of the sun, moon, stars and even clouds, but it does not have the distinction of being linked to the rising of the sun, (unless it is the sun that is rising). It help clarify that the anatole refers rising with the sun, while anatello refers to any rising whether it is with the sun or not.

The one place in the Isaiah 14:12 refer to a morning star (halal, הֵילֵל), but this is not the bright morning star because it refers to Satan, so it is the other morning star Mercury.[23]

What the Magi saw in Bethlehem

Bethlehem was a small town centered about a kilometer east of the north-south ridge of hills that divides Judah. 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 even after 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.

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. Second, because it lingered after the sun set, which is important to guiding the magi to Jesus' house.

Led By a Star

A year and seven months earlier, The star led the magi west by rising in the east on August 24, 2 BC the Bright Morning Star rose in the east about 4 minutes before sunrise about 12.5 degrees south of where the sun rose. It rose and was visible in the sky and throughout the day as the day star and preceded the sun until about 50 minutes before sundown, it set in the west at the horizon in the direction of kingdom of Judah (from Babylon or Persia).

In Bethlehem on the eve of passover on Monday March 27, AD 1 Bright Morning Star rose about 4 minutes before sunrise 12.3 degrees north of where the sun rose. Again it rose and was visible in the sky throughout the day as the day star. But there is a difference on this day, Venus slowly appeared to fall behind the sun so that when the sun set almost due west, Venus was still about 10 degrees above the horizon and northwest of the location where the sun set. It would be 24 minutes before Venus set, if the magi did not move, or a few minutes longer if they climbed the hill toward the Hebron road.

We are told that the star went before them until it stopped over the place where they were (Matthew 2:9). Went before them means that it went ahead of them in the direction they were to go, and they strived to follow it. Many do not believe that this could be a real star, because stars cannot go before and lead and they cannot stop over a town much less a particular house. Those with this belief tend to view the star as an angel that led the magi or something that is impossible to do so a contradiction in logic.

At Bethlehem there is a low north-south ridge of hills about one kilometer west of the town center so that from Bethlehem after sunset the star appeared to come down near to the earth just above the crest of the hills to the west-northwest of Bethlehem. Because it was visible low in the sky after sunset, the star appeared to linger straight up the road, so beckoning the magi. So they followed it, following the road west-northwest from Bethlehem up the ridge was in the exact direction the star was in. As the magi ascended the hill following the road, the star continued to descend so it always appeared to be stationary at about the same height above the earth (It was stopped). they followed the star on the road from Bethlehem to the crest which happened to be in the correct direction for them to follow the star. As they ascended the road up the hill the road turned more northerly as the star moved to the north and near the crest came to His house. The star continued to descend always remaining just above the horizon in the same location from their viewpoint. It was as if the star was visible just to lead them. As it declined it led the magi to a point on the crest of the hills west of town about 24 minutes (or less) after sunset and about 12.3 degrees north of west. It is because their horizon was constantly changing as they moved up the hill toward the ridge that the star appeared to stop. Because this event happened just after the spring Equinox, the sun set only 2.5 degrees north of due west of Bethlehem from the point of view of someone watching from Bethlehem but as they followed the star west northwest they came to the road goes that connects Jerusalem to Hebron which follows the ridge. Nearby they saw the star appear above an isolated farm house and it stood over the house where Jesus and Mary were. When they got to the house and looked behind that house for the star it was no longer visible, it appeared to disappear at that particular house. They said it stopped because it remained at the same height above the earth as they climbed the hill, and when they arrived at the house extinction had caused the planet to disappear. Near the horizon a small amount of water vapor greatly reduces the visibility of stellar objects. So this means that today more that two thousand years after the Bright Morning Star led the magi to where Jesus lived we can retrace their steps to locate with a fair degree of accuracy where their house stood. The house was located outside Bethlehem proper near the ridge line some 12.3 degrees north of west. They probably traveled about two-thirds of a mile (1km) to the ridge. Also since the size of the town was limited by a sabbath days walk, it is likely that the house was less than .9 miles from Bethlehem proper. The house was a part of Bethlehem, but not near the center of town.

The following map is cropped from this 1912 map of Bethlehem, each square is 500meters.  [24]

Map of Bethlehem topography and the red arrow is the magi’s changing direction of travel as they followed the star and it is likely they were also exactly following the ancient road or path.

The Hebron Road at the far west (left) follows the ridge south from Jerusalem

We don’t have the road/path from Roman times but it would likely go up to a notch near the Hebron road, near where the 3 is on the edge of the map.

The following charts depict how the magi were able to follow a star and how it stopped.

As the His Star descends, the magi climb the hills so the star appears near stationary verses the horizon just above the hills. Because as they ascend the ridge, Venus descends so it appears at the same height above the apparent horizon.

The star's apparent motion along the horizon is slow motion at a constant altitude to the north so as they follow the star they slowly curve slightly to the north likely following the road,                                    è            _____*_*_*H_____ so ending at His house. Note: that there is nothing for perspective so Venus like the moon seems closer and bigger when it is near the horizon.

When Venus is viewed from above the horizon if straight down is 180 degrees it appears to descend at an angle of 165degrees to the north \ while the magi were moving to the WNW at 12degrees so it appears that Venus is moving on the horizon at a slow rate toward the point that the magi are moving on the road. The magi ascend the way in what happens to be the direction of Joseph and Mary's house. The ridge line is not perfectly horizontal, so there are rises and dips and the trail going up to the ridge would unlikely be a smooth upward gradient, but the combination of the two could by God's handiwork, match so that the star continued at a constant elevation (to the magi's surprise).

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. And as Zechariah prophesied the Dayspring would guide our feet on the road of peace. The road they followed was the side road from Bethlehem up to the main road leading to Jerusalem. Near the junction was about where Jesus’ house was located. 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 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.

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 (the cost of a lamb was about one days wage for a laborer); he had no gold, frankincense, or myrrh.[25] This event occurs when Jesus was thirteen weeks or three months old.

The Location of the Holy Families House

Is there any Biblical evidence that Jesus’ house was on this ridge? Yes, in several indirect ways. One it would be outside the town proper so it would be easier to hide a newborn baby. In Israel land passed in the family from father to son. Joseph was of the house of David (Luke 1:27), meaning he was a direct male descendant of King David. Further David was a direct male descendant of Boaz (Ruth 4:20-21) so Joseph could inherit property from his ancestor Boaz. In the book of Ruth, Boaz was sleeping at a threshing floor (presumably guarding his barley harvest) (Ruth 2:3-8). This means a threshing floor was likely a part of Boaz’ inheritance. Wind was used to help separate chaff from the kernels of grain at threshing floors, so they are located in windy places. The windiest places are typically ridges particularly notches in ridges. Since the prevalent wind in Judah was from the west, the ridge above the center of the town of Bethlehem would be the perfect place for a threshing floor.

A second reference uses the Ark of the Covenant as a type of Mary.[26] The times of the wandering of the ark seem to correspond to the periods of Mary’s life. The Holy Family lived in this house in Bethlehem for three months and the Ark of the Covenant remained near a threshing floor for three months in the house of Obed Edom (2 Samuel 6:3-11).

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.[27] 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.

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.[28] 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 a sign/omen would be more widely recognized. The moon being eclipsed at the horizon would make it appear red increasing its significance as an omen because of extinction. 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.[29] Josephus records Herod died before Passover. Herod slew the babes of Bethlehem before he died and after the magi saw the star again, after passover 1A.D.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eclipsed moonrise 12/29 1B.C.

 

The Temple officials interpreted the Scriptures as saying Passover falls on the evening of the fourteenth day of the lunar month in which the Vernal Equinox preceded the full moon (so by Jewish reckoning on the fifteenth day of Nisan). The Vernal equinox was on March 25 A.D. 1. The first full moon following this would be Passover. Therefore, Passover was Sunday March 27 starting at sundown. 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.[30] The reason the magi arrived on the tenth of Nisan was because the passover lambs needed to be selected on the tenth of Nisan. So God needed to reveal which Lamb He selected on that date. 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 about ninety 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. Because it was passover, there was a full moon all night long, to light the path for the Holy Family while they fled in the dark. Jesus was ninety-two days or three months old on that night.

The Census of Quirinius

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria (Luke 2:1-2). Joseph and Mary journeyed to Bethlehem because of this decree. Many doubt this decree because of the timimg. The proposal made here has less difficulty with this event because the date of the death of King Herod the Great is placed after passover A.D.1 so there is less chronological difficulties. The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible proposes that the decree was an oath of allegiance to the emperor, so it was a public enrollment of subjects expressing their loyalty to the reigning emperor. It may also be that Quirinius was the administrator of the Judean census, years before he became the Legate of Syria and did the census for taxation in A.D. 6.[31] Joseph is again the only other source to dispute the dating of this census.[32] It is likely the necessity to return to one own city requirement was specific to Judah, not to the whole empire. The final piece to this puzzle we have the three requests for a search to be made of the records mentioned in the section on the Date of Jesus’ Birth (page 3). God prompted the census so that the date of Jesus’ birth could be fixed by three things: astronomical data, Roman records and Scriptural evidence.

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 Lion of the tribe of Judah receiving His scepter. The scepter marked a Jewish King. Jesus is called 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.).[33] 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.[34]

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.

Christmas and the Birth of Jesus

The Moon Witnesses to Jesus Birth, Death and Resurrection

Jesus was born December 25, 1 B.C. four days later December 29, 1 B.C. the moon rose just 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.[35] 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, and the sun and the moon are witnesses to these events that we can check almost two thousand years later.

The full moon was low on the eastern horizon (with Jupiter) while the star led the magi to the house where Jesus’ lived.

During the watch kept by Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane during the three hours starting after they left the Last Supper at midnight, the nearly full moon shown, but at 3:30AM, the moon set so it became much darker. The Seder (last Supper) is supposed to last until about midnight then they crossed the Kidron valley to the Mount of olives then in the garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed for three hours. The timing is quite precise for a population without clocks. Jesus said to those arresting him, "But this is your hour, and the power of darkness" Luke 22:53). So it looks as if those arresting Jesus waited until moon set to arrest Jesus.[36] This seems very reasonable because Jesus had escaped many attempts to arrest Him, so the cohort of soldiers attempted surprise Jesus in the darkness.

At Jesus' resurrection the moon again was shining full but shortly before dawn, the moon was at the horizon in the west, and it was under the feet of the woman (Virgo, the only female constellation the moon passes through) very similar in circumstance to Revelation 12:1-2. In this instance, Virgo's head pointed down in worship.

Shepherds in the Field by Night

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 maximum distance being a mile or so 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 this non-Biblical law. 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 the vicinity of Jerusalem were required to remain there year round to provide sacrifices for the daily needs of the Temple.[37] Bethlehem’s climate is generally mild and snow is very rare. A baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger was a ‘sign’ to these shepherds—their job description included certifying potential sacrifices were without defect. The shepherds visited to certify the Lamb of God was without defect as required by the law. In the days of Jesus, one could not bring a lamb from ones own flock, all the lambs needed to be purchased from these Temple flocks. (Presumably for some reason like how can we be sure the sacrifice has never broken a bone?)

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.[38]

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 was 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. 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.

Clouds Witness to Jesus’ Life

Why did the star disappear over Jesus’ house? A little bit of water is all it would take, so an invisible or almost invisible cloud over His house. Joel 2:31 not only associates the sun darkening and the moon turning to blood but clouds and Peter in refers to this (Acts 2:20-21), so it is likely that clouds played a part in the signs in the heavens at Jesus’ birth, the coming of the magi, the sign in the heaven that linked to the start of His ministry and to His death and resurrection. To this we can add His transfiguration.

The Heavens Worship Jesus

We are commanded not to worship the lights in the heavens 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, but they can and do worship. Since God gives the dream and its interpretation, we learn they heavenly bodies, can worship Him. 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 to the ground 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 mentioned in this article, the stars were as low in the sky as they could be and still be seen, and the duration of their visibility  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 barely 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 can only be eclipsed when it is full. 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). 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 represented Jesus as being in the bridal chamber and when Jesus said it is finished (Τετέλεσται) or 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[39] So if there were any doubt, God had the sun and moon witness twice to Jesus and worship Him.

Another way the heavens worship Jesus is they allow the glory of His creation to be discovered. The apparent size in the sky of the sun and the moon are nearly equal, which is unique to our planet in our solar system. This means the sun and the moon can eclipse each other and this fact has greatly aided our discovery and understanding of our universe.[40]

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 as Genesis 49:9-10 predicted and required.

Elizabeth revealed her pregnancy at Passover when she chose to stay home because she was pregnant. She kept it hidden for five months, but had to reveal her pregnancy as she did not go 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.[41] This date can also be determined from the priestly course 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. [42]

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 evenly spaced in a straight line, 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[43]. The ladder was probably also crossed by a cloud making it look like a cross. The constellation of Aires appeared to be hung on the cross. See www.scripturescholar.com/LambofGod.pdf for a more complete description. This happened when Jesus was thirty, shortly after His forty day fast, that preceded His public ministry. 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 would be 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[44] (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.”[45] 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. The Forbush decrease events occur sporadically with no apparent pattern. Venus’ visibility at Jesus’ resurrection was much more visible so it did not need magi to be able to see Venus at this time.

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.[46]  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.

Venus Tablets of Assisaduqa[47]

Dresden Codex Venus Table

Summary

The heavens declare the glory of God to all (Psalms 19:1). The sun, moon, clouds, 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. Julian, 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 early evening 24 minutes after sunset when it faded from sight 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 and foreshadowed the crucifixion of the Lamb.

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 Sunday 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 bright 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. 1.6 years later that same star guided the magi in Bethlehem in the early evening after sunset but while there was still light for their feet to the precise house in Jesus lived, no angel was necessary, no horoscopes, and no strange interpretations. God guided the magi as only He could, to His Son.

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.

Sun

Jesus born—Winter solstice

JD 1721416.5

January 1, A.D. 1

Sun

Jesus circumcised

JD 1721425.5

February 3, A.D. 1

 

Jesus presented in the Temple

 

March 22, A.D. 1

Wed

Magi visit Herod in Jerusalem (Nisan 10)

JD 1721503.5

March 27, A.D. 1

Sun

Magi see Star of Bethlehem Passover (Nisan 14), The follow it on Nisan 15

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 Lamb Crucified as the Ladder to Heaven.

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

Epilogue: Our Lady of Guadalupe

Before dawn on the winter solstice, December 12, A.D. 1531 Venus rose just before sunrise, and with Mercury and Jupiter formed a straight line of planets low in the eastern sky, a sign of kingly authority or rule. Virgo (Virgin) was in the center of the sky. Then our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to St. Juan Diego and miraculously left her image on his tilma (a serape like outer garment). The two astronomical signs that mark Jesus’ birth, the winter solstice (or the birth of the sun) and the rising of Venus[48] with Mercury in a line of three stars just before dawn mark the Blessed Virgin 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 the image of the group who were presented the flowers by St. Juan Diego’s to be seen in Mary’s eyes.[49] 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 had the sun, moon and stars honoring Mary as Our Lady of Guadalupe, because Mary eclipsed the sun, was over the moon and crowned with the stars. A woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet, Mary's visit resulted in the conversion of Mexico and allowed the Church to grow even as it lost members in Europe due to the Protestant Reformation. A thought on the days of the year chosen for Christmas and Our Lady of Guadalupe's feast, the date of Christmas is always 12/25, 12 is the number of government or rule and 5 is the number of grace, so 12/25 is rule by grace multiplied. 12/12 is government. Mary rules as the Queen Mother of Heaven.

The constellations are turned inside out as if viewed from the outside

Stars cover the outer surface of Our Lady's blue mantel

The line of three planets (Venus, Mercury and Jupiter) marked by the rising of Venus on the day The Blessed Virgin Mary left her picture on the tilma of St. Juan Diego. While Venus rose with the sun, this is not the first day of morning visibility, but he last day Venus was visible in the morning.

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 facts 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 the great sign that marked the beginning of Jesus’ Ministry see The Ladder to Heaven —The Lamb of God http://www.scripturescholar.com/LambofGod.pdf

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

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 in the Bible 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 saw 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 (584 days synodic) period of Venus. Jesus did not have to be born at the sign, because King Herod understood from the magi, the Messiah had to be born before the star rose again as Jesus was.

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, king Herod sent them there; they did not need an additional sign to go to Bethlehem they needed a sign to let them know which house had the child born to rule as king forever. Mary like Moses kept Jesus hidden because she lived in dangerous times. 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 general problem with all Star of Bethlehem theories besides the one presented here, is that they don't advance out knowledge and or understanding of God. Here we see God controls the brightness and period of not only the planets, but also the fixed star. He controls the terrestrial weather and the solar weather. Most depend to a greater or lesser extent on astrology which the Bible condemns as an offense punishable by death. How could God condemn one for astrology and honor another for using the same black art?

Michael R. Molnar an astronomer in The Star of Bethlehem; Legacy of the Magi, said the magi did not see the star Jupiter 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 occulted or 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. Jupiter the largest of the planets but not the brightest or most important star to the ancients.

Fredrick Larson has presented what is clearly the most widely accepted theory of the Star of Bethlehem and has made an excellent video The Star of Bethlehem[50] to back up his theory. He is a lawyer (not an astronomer or Biblical scholar) and he does an excellent job of "selling" the misidentification of the Star of Bethlehem. Fredrick glosses over things that would weaken his theory. He identifies the Star of Bethlehem as Jupiter. He notes Jupiter is the largest of the planets, but it is the second most bright, and the ancients would have considered Venus as the most important because it was the brightest. There are phases to his theory, the conception of the child where Venus and Jupiter come near each other, the month long crowning of Regulus by Jupiter (shallow loop near star), Virgo in the daytime sky giving birth on Rosh Hashanah, the guidance from Jerusalem to Bethlehem because Jupiter pauses as it changes direction. 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 very shallow loops near it as it appears to loop like a Spiro graph drawing continuously in the sky. The magi saw at a point in time, the star rise, not a month wait (while Jupiter passed reversed, passes reversed and passed again). 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 (but these stars do not actually appear to touch to someone with normal vision. The problem is that Venus at its inferior conjunction is brighter than Venus and Jupiter at that time together as indicated by its day time visibility. 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. The Scripture says they saw the star as it rose with the sun. He further presents the star guiding the magi to Bethlehem when they had already been sent by King Herod to that town two months earlier, they knew that was where they were to go, but not how to identify which of the boys in Bethlehem was the newborn king. This stopping of Jupiter he mentions is something Jupiter is nearly continuously doing, see figure below (and happened twice in the "crowning of Regulus". If Jupiter was His star why didn't Regulus crown Jupiter rather than vice versa. If it was easy to find Jesus in Bethlehem, why the necessity of killing all boys two years old and under? To protect her baby it is likely every mother in town would point out Jesus if they could. It was not easy, because Jesus like Moses was hidden. Since He moved from the stable no one knew where He went to. 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 how do you follow the star? How does one know it is not further south in perhaps Hebron?

Jupiter crowns one star and then stops in its retrograde motion over Bethlehem so with this logic, many stars are crowned and many locations are indicated so this retrograde motion does not make sense.

This is a diagram of what the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn look like when observed from outside the solar system as one can see they look like spirographs; Jupiter is regularly stopping and looping. Not something that the magi or modern astronomers were likely to take special note of. But something a person unfamiliar with planetary motion like a lawyer, might observe thinking it unusual.

A miracle—many believe the star that guided the magi was simply a miracle or an angel (and angels are occasionally called stars). The Bible clearly called the Star of Bethlehem a star. Today we live at a time that airplanes and helicopters 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 as signs to guide the magi. I believe that most who hold this view do not recognize the special attributes of the planet Venus and how well it fits the requirements necessary to guide the magi. Venus could be seen by many people, but it was faint, one would only see it if they paid close attention, apparently only the magi did so. Why would God use an angel to guide the magi, when He could show off His divine capability and use a star? If an angel guided the magi, why did not many curious people follow and a crowd arrived at the house of Mary and Jesus?

Nazareth or Bethlehem?

Some say that the magi came to Nazareth because Luke 2:39 says, When Josepha and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. The return to Nazareth occurred at least after forty days because Jesus needed to be circumcised and later presented at the Temple when He was forty days old. What these holding this view apparently do not realize is that the Law says The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers, you must listen to him (Deuteronomy 18:15). Since Jesus was the prophet like Moses in order to be like Moses, there were additional requirements for Him according to the Law, because there had to be similarities between Moses and Jesus. Both Moses and Jesus were born under foreign rule, and both had their lives threatened as babies by a king. Moses fled from Goshen to Egypt to save his life when he was three months old, Jesus fled from Judah to Egypt when He was three months old to save his live. In both cases other boys did die. Moses came out of Egypt in a sudden journey in the middle of the night of passover, Jesus headed into Egypt in a sudden journey in the middle of the night of passover. In both cases, after the king and all who sought the child’s life had died they returned to their home country. Matthew 2:15 quotes Hosea 11:1 referring to Exodus 4:22 Out of Egypt I have called my son. Since the Law places a few more requirements on the one like Moses, Jesus needed to fulfill a few additional requirements, before they returned to Nazareth. So after they returned from Egypt, they returned to Nazareth.



[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. www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/lds/meridian/2001/venus.html.

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

[6] http://jahtruth.net/britspan.htm

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

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

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

[10] Num 2:3, 10:14 Standard-- http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Lion-of-Judah.

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

[12] In Hebrew the word for sign is אוֹת (ōth), a word that starts with the first and ends with the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet connected by the letter that means 'and' much like "alpha and omega" in Greek. Since this sign is revealed in the first and last chapters of the Bible, it is the sign of signs.

[13]Bruce Killian, “Dionysius Exiguus Got It Right”, 2000. www.scripturescholar.com/DionysiusExiguus.pdf, Bruce Killian, “The Chronology of Jesus,” 2011. www.scripturescholar.com/ChronologyJesus.pdf pg. 25-6.

[14]Cyril Martindale, “Christmas,” The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III, 1908 Robert Appleton Co., Online Edition Copyright, 2003 K. Knight www.newadvent.org/cathen/03724b.htm.

[15] Learned from Leo Bauer LtCdr, USN, a naval aviator during WWII in the South Pacific on a reconnaissance mission, his navigation aids said a fix could be taken off of Venus so Venus was visible during the day.

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

[17] Campbell, W. W., “Is the Crescent Form of Venus Visible to the Naked Eye?,” http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1916PASP...28...85C

[18] David Lance Goines, “Inferential Evidence For The Pre-Telescopic Sighting Of The Crescent Venus,” Berkeley, California, 1992 http://www.goines.net/Writing/venus.html

[19] Dayspring or anatole appears to be a proper name for Venus in the Septuagint.

[20] Venus could be seen as the messenger that Jesus sends as a testimony for the churches.

[21] In contrast Psalm 110:3 in the RSV Your people will offer themselves freely on the day you lead your host upon the holy mountains. From the womb of the morning like dew your youth will come to you. What does that mean?

[22] There are other references to this Sirach 39:31 and 50:6 (refers to Simon the high priest) 2Peter 1:19; Job 11:17; Job 38:32; Rev 2:28; eosphorus; phosphorus; Hesperus; anatole;

[23] ἀνατέλλω is an another word in Greek used to rise of sun, moon, stars or clouds, Matt 4:16; Matt 5:45; Matt 13:6; Mark 4:6; Mark 16:2; Luke 12:54; Heb 7:14; James 1:11; 2 Peter 1:19 only in Hebrews 7:14 it is used of Jesus not rising from a line of priests this word does not refer to a helical rising.

[24] This is a subsection of the map from this link http://www.kchanson.com/PTJ/bethlehem.html Map from 1912.

[25] 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.

[26] Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2676, http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/2676.htm and many web links.

[27] There is a similar phrase 'the root of Jesse' used only in Isaiah 11:1 and 11:10 also in association with branch, so these verses might also be pointing to Venus as His Star. It may be that some the words translated branch (multiple Hebrew words) may have multiple meanings, meaning both sprout and Dayspring. For example the lamp in the Tabernacle had both branches and lights (the word in Hebrew used for stars in Genesis 1:15, 17 and Exodus 25:37).

[28]Josephus, Jewish Antiquities XVII, 167. wesley.nnu.edu/biblical_studies/josephus/ant-17.htm. Book XVII, Chapter 6.4 Viewed as a sign in the heaven in the context of killing a leader of a sedition attempting to stop King Herod's desecration of the Temple with a golden eagle.

[29]John Pratt, “Yet Another Eclipse for Herod,” Planetarian, vol. 19, no. 4, Dec. 1990, pp. 8-14. www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/herod/herod.html.

[30]Josephus, Jewish Antiquities XVII, 191-213. www.ccel.org/j/josephus/works/ant-17.htm.

[31] Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, New Testament, 2010, Ignatius Press, p. 109.

[32] John A. Rhodes, “Josephus Misdated the Census of Quirinius,” JETS 54.1 (March 2011) 65–87 http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/54/54-1/JETS_54-1_65-87_Rhoads.pdf

[33]E.W. Bullinger, The Witness of the Stars, (Kregel) pp. 93-4. philologos.org/__eb-tws/chap23.htm

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

[35]John Pratt, “Dating the First Easter,” The Ensign 15, No. 6 (June 1985), pp. 59-68. www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/lds/easter/dating.html.

[36] Bruce Killian, "Chronology of Jesus," link http://www.scripturescholar.com\ChronologyJesus.pdf.

[37]Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book 2, Eerdmans, 1953, p. 186. www.philologos.org/__eb-lat/.

[38] 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. See also “The Chronology of Jesus’ Life” http://www.scripturescholar.com/ChronologyJesus.pdf

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

[40] “Our Privileged Planet, The Search for Purpose in the Universe” one hour video, http://vimeo.com/8361588

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

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

[43] Bruce Killian, “The Ladder to Heaven—The Lamb of God,” A.D. 2006. www.scripturescholar.com/LambofGod.pdf.

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

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

[46] “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.

[47] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus_tablet_of_Ammisaduqa

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

[49]Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, A Handbook on Guadalupe, 1997, pp 1, 68-71, 80, 89-91. Similar www.jkmi.com/ologimage.htm.

[50] Fredrick Larson, www.bethlehemstar.net.