The Appointed Times of YHVH—the Festival of Booths and the Messiah
There is a widespread tradition that Yeshua the Messiah, known in the Gentile world as “Jesus Christ”, was born on December 25th celebrated today as “Christmas.” While it is not in the scope of this study to expose the influence of paganism in Christianity and how the faith did not change Rome, but Rome changed the faith, it suffices to say now that the Messiah was not born in the season of the winter solstice, but in the season of the autumnal appointed times of YHVH and more particularly — Chag Sukkot, the Festival of the Booths. And this will be the subject of this study—the Festival of Booths and the Messiah.
In order to gain more knowledge of this controversial for many in the faith talking point, the present author commends the book The Two Babylons by Reverend Alexander Hislop which was first published as a pamphlet in 1853 and greatly expanded in 1858, Chapter III, Section I, Christmas and Lady-day. [The Two Babylons is available for free download via internet.]
Was Yeshua born on Christmas?
There is evidence from the Scripture that Yeshua was born in autumn and not winter. And the evidence is this. We read from the Gospel of Luke,
There was in the days of Herodes, the sovereign of Yehudah, a certain priest named Zekaryah, of the division of Aviyah. And his wife was of the daughters of Aharon, and her name was Elisheva. (Luk 1:5)
Zechariah the father of Yochanan (John the Baptist) was a priest of the division of Aviyah. During the reign of King David the priests became too numerous to all serve at the Temple all the time, so they were divided by the king by lot into twenty-four divisions. The sons of Elʽazar were divided into sixteen and the sons of Ithamar into eight divisions (see 1Ch_24:1-4) because there were more priests found of the sons of Elʽazar than of the sons of Ithamar.
And the courses of the sons of Aaron were these. The sons of Aaron: Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. But Nadab and Abihu died before their father, and had no children; therefore Eleazar and Ithamar executed the priest’s office. And David with Zadok of the sons of Eleazar, and Ahimelech of the sons of Ithamar, divided them according to their ordering in their service. And there were more chief men found of the sons of Eleazar than of the sons of Ithamar; and thus were they divided: of the sons of Eleazar there were sixteen, heads of fathers’ houses; and of the sons of Ithamar, according to their fathers’ houses, eight. (1Ch 24:1-4 JPS)
Now the first lot came forth to Jehoiarib, … the eighth to Abijah; … (1Ch 24:7-10 JPS)
We also read from Antiquities of the Jews 7:14:7 as recorded by the first century Jewish priest Flavius Josephus who adds more details,
But David, being desirous of ordaining his son king of all the people, called together their rulers to Yerushalayim, with the priests and the Levites; and having first numbered the Levites, he found them to be thirty-eight thousand, from thirty years old to fifty; out of which he appointed twenty-three thousand to take care of the building of the temple, and out of the same, six thousand to be judges of the people and scribes, four thousand for porters to the house of God, and as many for singers, to sing to the instruments which David had prepared, as we have said already. He divided them also into courses: and when he had separated the priests from them, he found of these priests twenty-four courses, sixteen of the house of Eleazar, and eight of that of Ithamar; and he ordained that one course should minister to God eight days, from Sabbath to Sabbath. And thus were the courses distributed by lot, in the presence of David, and Zadok and Abiathar the high priests, and of all the rulers; and that course which came up first was written down as the first, and accordingly the second, and so on to the twenty-fourth; and this partition hath remained to this day. He also made twenty-four parts of the tribe of Levi; and when they cast lots, they came up in the same manner for their courses of eight days. He also honored the posterity of Mosheh, and made them the keepers of the treasures of God, and of the donations which the kings dedicated. He also ordained that all the tribe of Levi, as well as the priests, should serve God night and day, as Mosheh had enjoined them.
Each division served for two weeks each year, once in the first half of the year and once in the second half of the year. There were also three weeks in which all the priests were required to serve, these were the three pilgrimage festivals in Deu_16:16: the Festival of the Unleavened Bread, the Festival of the Weeks and the Festival of Booths Thus this makes 24 divisions x 2 weeks = 48 weeks + 3 weeks = 51 weeks. Fifty one weeks are 357 days fitting within the 360 day lunar year.
The division of Aviyah was the eighth division (1Ch_24:7-19) which serves the tenth week during the former rain portion of the year (this is because during Passover and Shavuot all the priests serve together). Zechariah the father of Yochanan had a vision in the Temple from Gavri’el the messenger of YHVH, while serving in the course of Aviyah in the tenth week. It will become apparent that he was serving his first course in the first half of the year.
And a messenger of Yehovah appeared to him, standing on the right side of the slaughter-place of incense. And when Zecharyah saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the messenger said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zecharyah, for your prayer is heard. And your wife Elisheva shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Yochanan. (Luk 1:11-13)
Thus Zechariah’s vision took place during the 10th week of the year. We must add two additional weeks before Yochanan could be conceived, due to the purity laws of Lev_12:5 and Lev_15:19-25. So Yochanan was conceived in the 12th week of the year. He was born about 40 weeks later during the 52nd week of the year (12 + 40 = 52) which brings us to the Festival of the Unleavened Bread when most likely Yochanan was born.
We may go even further to assume that Yochanan, Yeshua’s cousin, was born on either the day when the Pesach lambs were slaughtered (aka Passover) or on the first day of the Unleavened Bread when the Pesach were eaten. The reason being is that what the messenger of YHVH said to Zechariah could be considered a clue for the exact day of birth of his son Yochanan. We keep on reading,
And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Eliyahu, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the insight of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for Yehovah. (Luk 1:17)
We may admit that it might have not been coincidental that the messenger mentioned the name of Eliyahu (Elijah) who, according to Jewish tradition, was expected to appear during the Passover supper on the first day of the Unleavened Bread. We should also recall that Yochanan was asked whether he was Eliyahu, probably because the people still remembered the incident when Zechariah went out of the Temple silent and unable to speak (Luk 1:21-22).
In the sixth month [after Yochanan’s conception] (see Luk 1:26) the same messenger appeared to Miryam (Mary) to bring the Good News that the Son of Elohim would be born of her. We read,
And the messenger answering, said to her, “The Set-apart Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you. And for that reason the Set-apart One born of you shall be called: Son of Elohim. And see, Elisheva your relative, she has also conceived a son in her old age. And this is now the sixth month to her who was called barren, because with Elohim no matter shall be impossible.” (Luk 1:35-37)
We may safely assume that the miraculous conception, as described in Mat 1:18-25, took place in this sixth month of Elisheva’s pregnancy after which Miryam went with haste to her to announce the Good News that she was with the promised baby, as described in Luk 1:39-44.
At their encounter the baby Yochanan leaped in his mother womb because Miryam was with the baby Yeshua; we deduce this from the words Elisheva prophetically spoke: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luk 1:42).
Therefore, six months (about 25 weeks) after Yochanan’s conception Yeshua was conceived which can only mean that Yeshua was conceived around the 37th week, or around the Festival of Chanukah. This would mean that the Light of the world, the Messiah of Yehovah, was conceived during the festival of lights Chanukah. Yeshua was born 40 weeks later (around week 77, that is week 25 of the following year) which brings us to the time of the autumnal appointed times of YHVH: Yom Teruah, Yom Kippurim, Sukkot, and the Eight Day.
Therefore, we are coming to the conclusion that with all certainty Yeshua was not born in the winter, but in autumn. But when exactly was He born: on Yom Teruah, Yom Kippurim, Sukkot, or on the Eight Day, the closing festival of all?
The Word of YHVH became flesh on the Festival of Booths
There is a great deal of debate whether the Messiah was born on Yom Teruah the first day or on the first day of Chag Sukkot, the Festival of the Booths, which is the fifteenth day of the seventh month. There is no lack of arguments to support either one.
The present author believes that Yeshua the Messiah was born on the first day of Chag Sukkot, the Festival of the Booths. One of the reasons for holding this view is that because the Hebrew word sukkah (booth, temporary dwelling), hence the name of the festival, Sukkot, comes from the Hebrew root meaning to dwell, to tabernacle.
And indeed, what would be more coherent in the prophecy concerning the coming of the Messiah, the Word of YHVH, than what the Apostle Yochanan said in Joh 1:14,
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as of an only brought-forth of the Father, complete in favor and truth.
In the article The Appointed Times of YHVH—the Festival of the Booths we studied that the name of this festival comes from the Hebrew word sukkah which is a feminine form of סֹךְ soch, a hut or a lair, and comes from the verb סָכַךְ sachach, to cover, to entwine as a screen, to fence in, or cover over, to hedge in, and figuratively to protect. Hence, the idea that sukkah is a temporary place of protection for the shepherds from the elements or from wild beasts. YHVH would not have inspired the apostle to use a better word than a word which means to dwell, sachach, when he wrote that In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. …
So, if Yeshua was born on the first day of Chag Sukkot, the Festival of the Booths, 3 BC, and if we count backwards nine months, it appears that He was conceived sometime during Chanukah, December 4 BC. We should recall that the Second Temple was dedicated on Chag Sukkot, the Festival of the Booths, and its foundation was laid the day before the first day of Chanukah.
consider, I pray you, from this day and forward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the LORD’S temple was laid, consider it; (Hag 2:18 JPS)
Let us consider it.
We also studied that at Chag Sukkot, the Festival of the Booths, the First Temple was dedicated, eight years after the commencement of its building. In the eight year, in the seventh month, King Shelomoh brought the Ark of the Covenant into the Temple (1Ki_8:2-4, 2Ch_5:3-7) and the Temple was dedicated at Chag Sukkot, the Festival of the Booths, for seven days (1Ki_8:65-66, 2Ch_7:8-11, see also Antiquities of the Jews, Book 8:4:1). From these accounts we see that both Temples were dedicated on what the tradition calls the festival of lights: Sukkot and Chanukah.
If His body was dedicated (born) on the first day of Chag Sukkot, the Festival of the Booths, as the first Temple was dedicated, His foundation (conception) must have been laid during the Festival of Chanukah when the second Temple was dedicated.
As already said in Chapter Astronomical Evidence of Yeshua’s Birth, from the present author’s book Reckoning of Time, there is a good possibility that Yeshua could have been born on Yom Teruah, on the first day of the seventh month, September 11, 3 BC, as clearly the sign of the sky indicated the coming of the Messiah.
However, whether Yeshua was born on Yom Teruah, the Day of Trumpets, or Chag Sukkot, the Festival of the Booths, we do not know with a hundred percent certainty. The opinion of this author is that the sign of His birth given in heavens on Yom Teruah could have been a harbinger, which the magis saw, of His coming birth, but the actual birth was on the first of day of Chag Sukkot, the Festival of the Booths, fifteen days later.
At that time the Chanukah came to be in Yerushalayim, and it was winter. And Yeshua was walking in the Set-apart Place, in the porch of Shelomoh. (Joh 10:22-23)
According to m.Sukkah 5:2–4 and b.Sukkah 52b, in the first century Judea the entire city of Jerusalem was filled with light from giant seventy-five feet tall menorahs. When Yeshua the Messiah walked in His Father’s Set-apart place with the thought of what He said a few months earlier, He knew that His body was conceived by the Set-apart Spirit in the Festival of Chanukah. And what He said earlier was,
And on the last day, the great day of the festival, Yeshua stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me, and let him who believes in Me drink.” (Joh 7:37)
“I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall by no means walk in darkness, but possess the light of life.” (Joh 8:12)
That festival was His Father’s appointed time: Chag Sukkot, the Festival of the Booths (see Joh_7:2).
Having said all that, let us follow the sequence of events concerning the birth of Yeshua the Messiah:
Day 1, seventh month, year 3962. On Yom Teruah a sign of the sky was given of the coming birth of the Messiah.
Day 15. On the first day of Chag Sukkot, the Festival of the Booths, Yeshua the Light of the world was born in Bethlehem. The following seven days were for celebration of the Festival of Booths (Lev_23:34). His mother Miryam was in her seven-day separation, according to Torah (Lev_12:2), due to the birth of male offspring.
Day 22. On the eight day after Chag Sukkot, the Festival of the Booths, was a day of rest called in the Torah “Shemini Atzeret” known today as “Simchat Torah” (Rejoice of Torah). On this day Yeshua, the living Torah, was circumcised according to Torah on the eighth day of the seventh month (Lev_12:3).
Shemini Atzeret is the last appointed time and the conclusion of all appointed times of the year as we will discuss it in the last article of the sequence dedicated to the appointed times of YHVH.
Day 23. Sometime after Shemini Atzeret and after Yoseph and Miryam paid their taxes to Rome, they return to Nazareth where Miryam remained in the blood of her cleansing thirty-three days according to Lev_12:4.
Day 25, eighth month, year 3962. After the cleansing according to Torah was completed, Miryam brought two turtledoves as a sin offering into the Temple (Lev_12:8). This was what Yoseph and Miryam offered on the altar because they were poor and could not bring a lamb (Lev_12:6). And sometime after that, in 3964, Yeshua was taken to Egypt to escape the massacre of innocent infants and returned to Yehudah after Herod’s death same year.
The heavens already declared the Messiah
By this time, we should have seen that Chag Sukkot, the Festival of the Booths, is a prophetic shadow picture of the birth of Yeshua the Messiah, the Living Word of Yehovah, who came to dwell among His brothers. Everything we studied and all interpretations we made in the book Reckoning of Time seem to be plausible given all Scriptural accounts.
However, we may ask, have the heavens already declared that YHVH’s Messiah is somehow linked to Chag Sukkot, the Festival of the Booths?
Let us read from the Torah regarding the Festival of Booths in the Sabbatical year, the year of release.
(Deu 31:10) And Mosheh commanded them, saying, “At the end of seven years, at the appointed time, the year of release, at the Festival of Sukkot,
(Deu 31:11) when all Israel comes to appear to the face of Yehovah your Elohim in the place which He chooses, read this Torah before all Israel in their hearing.
In Hebrew we read,
(Deu 31:11) בבוא כל־ישׂראל לראות את־פני יהוה אלהיך במקום אשׁר יבחר תקרא את־התורה הזאת נגד כל־ישׂראל באזניהם׃
In the phrase in the place which He chooses [undoubtedly Jerusalem] we read from right to left counting every second letter the hidden message of YHVH: מָשִׁיחַ Mashiach, Messiah.
This article is a part of series of articles dedicated to the Appointed Times of YHVH and how His Messiah Yeshua has fulfilled them. For the rest of the set-apart days of the Creator, please, visit The Appointed Times of YHVH.
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.