When was Jesus born?

In Back to the Future, Doc Brown explains to Marty McFly how the DeLorean works. In so doing, the Doc suggests places Marty could visit before remembering the day he thought up the flux capacitor. The first is the signing of the declaration of independence, 4 July, 1776 and then he suggests the birth of Christ and keys in 25 December 0. However, if the Doc and Marty had gone back to 25 December 0, they would not find Jesus moments after he was born. This, then, begs the question: When was Jesus born? The standard answer is usually: we do not know when. It is generally accepted that December 25 is a symbolic date, not the actual date of Jesus’ birth. However, there are clues in the Gospel accounts of when Jesus was born.

The first clue is found in Luke 1. Luke references Zechariah’s (John the Baptist’s father) priestly duties.

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. | LUKE 1:5

It was after Zechariah finished his course at Jerusalem that Elizabeth conceived. Then when Mary is visited by the angel, she is informed that Elizabeth is in her sixth month. So Jesus is born six months after John.But when was John born? The clue is in Zechariah’s priestly division. In 1 Chronicles 24 there is the list of the divisions of the priests.

… David separated them into divisions for their appointed order of ministering. | 1CHRONICLES 24:3

The division of Abijah served in the eighth week (verse 10). There were 51 weeks in the Hebraic calendar. The 24 divisions served twice annually. This left three weeks that all priests attended, which were the festival dates. So a priest served for five weeks in the Temple each year, two from their divisions and three festival weeks. From the start of the Jewish religious year, including the communal week of Passover, the division of Abijah would have met mid June. Which means Elizabeth most likely conceived late June/early July.

Mary was visited six months after Elizabeth conceived. This puts the immaculate conception in the month of December. John the Baptist, therefore, was born in March; and Jesus was six months after that: Septembertime.

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, | LUKE 1:26

Interestingly enough, at the time Jesus was born, the Jewish community would be about to celebrate Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. This is the holiday were GOD’s people remembered when GOD tabernacles amongst them in the wilderness. When GOD is amongst his people Jesus came as GOD in flesh, or as John records it:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. | JOHN 1:14

In the Greek, John calls Jesus the Word and the Greek word used for dwelling is tabernacle. Jesus was born when GOD’s people remember the physical presence of GOD in the Torah. When GOD was in the midst, GOD became flesh. The Feast of Tabernacles was fulfilled in Jesus. GOD came and tabernacled among us.