Migdal Eder (Christmas)

SERMON TOPIC: Migdal Eder (Christmas)

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 10 January 2005


Sermon synopsis: Which year and month was Jesus born in? Where was he born? What is the miracle of his birthplace and his lineage? What is the significance of Migdal Eder?
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The miracle of Jesus’ lineage

Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham

Genesis 22:18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

Messiah would be a descendant of Isaac

Genesis 26: 4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.

Messiah would be a descendant of Jacob

Genesis 28:14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

Balaam prophesied: Numbers 24:17 “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.

The miracle of Jesus’ lineage

Messiah would be from the tribe of Judah

GEN 49:10 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.

Messiah would be the Son of David

2 SAM 7:8 “Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel. 11 … ”‘The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. …16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’”

The miracle of Jesus’ lineage

Gabriel told Mary:

LUKE 1:30 “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

In Jesus’ day many addressed him as “Son of David” to indicate their acceptance of him as Messiah.

MATT 12:22 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”

The Canaanite woman:

MATT15:22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”

The miracle of Jesus’ lineage

The blind man at Jericho:

LUKE 18:35 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” 38 He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

At the triumphal entry:

MATT 21:9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”

The Pharisees accepted these Messianic prophecies as well:

MATT 22:41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 “What do you think about the Christ (Messiah) ? Whose son is he?” “The son of David,” they replied.

The miracle of Jesus’ lineage

Matthew shows Jesus’ Messianic credentials in terms of his genealogy:

MATT 1:1 A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham: 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah

Matthew and Luke trace the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph & Mary respectively.

If Jesus were born more than 77 years later this would have been impossible. The Jewish genealogical records, extremely important in establishing that Jesus was a descendant of David, were still intact in Jerusalem. In AD 70 with the destruction of the temple by Titus those records were completely lost.

To this day, no Jew can trace his lineage before the fall of Jerusalem. Thus no one after Jesus can legitimately claim to be the Son of David and have this verified.

The miracle of Jesus’ birthplace

Messiah would be born in Bethlehem

Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” …4 He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. 5 And he will be their peace.

The chief priests were aware of this prophecy:

MATT 2:3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 6 ”‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’ ”

The miracle of Jesus’ birthplace

Jesus’ forefathers like Boaz, Jesse & David lived in Bethlehem

However by the time of Jesus’ birth Joseph was located in Nazareth. His birth in Bethlehem necessitated the world's greatest empire to move exactly according to God's plan.

Emperor Augustus was Octavius, the adopted son of Julius Caesar.

He lived during the Pax Romana, the greatest time of peace and prosperity the empire had ever known.

When Caesar was deified by the Senate in 42 BC, Octavius immediately became the son of a divine one.

Octavius’ name was changed to Augustus, a title that showed him to be both divine and human.

One month after his death in 14 AD, he was deified by the Senate.

The miracle of Jesus’ birthplace

At this time, the Roman writer Suetonius wrote that there was an ancient and abiding belief in the Orient that those proceeding out of Judea would ultimately obtain the empire of the world.

Josephus likewise mentioned the existence of this belief, and said that it was one of the contributing factors in the fall of Jerusalem.

Tacticus, another Roman historian, also mentioned this oracle.

The miracle of Jesus’ birthplace

Twice within the span of about 70 years two men would be acclaimed first as the Son of God, and then as God

The Messiah was to born in Bethlehem, the city of David. But Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth and there was no compelling reason for them to leave.

Luke 2:1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. … 3 And everyone went to his own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.

Augustus Caesar, the man the Romans claimed as the son of a god, creates a whole new bureaucratic office, that will force Joseph and Mary to return to their home town of Bethlehem.

So God used the false “son of God” as the very instrument to ensure that the true son of God is born in Bethlehem.

Migdal Eder

Rachel died in childbirth near Bethlehem and Jacob subsequently moved beyond Migdal Eder (Tower of the Flock) where Benjamin was born.

GEN 35:16 Then they moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty. 17 And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for you have another son.” 18 As she breathed her last—for she was dying—she named her son Benoni (Son of my sorrow). But his father named him Benjamin (Son of my right hand). 19 So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). 20 Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel’s tomb. 21 Israel moved on again and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder.

Migdal Eder (in the valley at left center) with the town of Bethlehem in the background

Micah 4:1-4 In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.

Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken.

Micah 4:8 As for you, O watchtower of the flock, O stronghold of the Daughter of Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to the Daughter of Jerusalem.”

Migdal Eder

The ancient rabbis predicted that it would be at Migdal-Eder that the announcement would be made that Messiah had come

Thus, Targum Yonatan, cited by Rabbi Munk, paraphrases Genesis 35:21 and Micah 4:8, “He spread his tent beyond Migdal Eder, the place where King Messiah will reveal Himself at the end of days.”

LUKE 2:8

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.

Migdal Eder

Who were these shepherds?

They may have been none other but the shepherds from “Migdal Eder” who were well aware that the Messiah might well be announced from “Migdal Eder” at Bethlehem.

Were these possibly the men who raised sacrificial lambs that were sacrificed in the Temple?

This watchtower at Migdal Eder was used by the shepherds for protection from their enemies

It was also a place where ewes gave birth. These special lambs came from a unique flock which were designated for sacrifice at the temple in Jerusalem.

Migdal Eder

Rabbi Mike Short states, “According to Edersheim in The Life And Times Of Jesus The Messiah, in Book 2, Chapter 6, this Migdal Eder was not “the watchtower for the ordinary flocks that pastured on the barren sheep ground beyond Bethlehem, but it lay close to the town, on the road to Jerusalem.” A passage from the Mishnah (Shekelim 7:4) leads to the conclusion that “the flocks, which pastured there were destined for Temple sacrifices...” 1

If the Bethlehem shepherds in Luke’s Gospel were the ones raising lambs for the neighbouring Jerusalem temple sacrifices, then God is informing them that the sacrifice their life’s work had foreshadowed had now come!

1 mayimhayim.org/ Rabbi%20Mike/ Migdal%20Eder.htm

Migdal Eder

Remember that Jesus identified his death with the time of the Passover.

John the Baptist declared him to be “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. (John 1:29)

Peter spoke of our redemption as brought about by “the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Pet 1:19).

Paul told us that “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor 5:7)

John shows that Jesus is revealed in heaven as the Lamb (Rev. 5:6-13).

What year was Jesus born?

Herod the Great

Matthew tells us that Herod killed Bethlehem baby boys 2 years old & under

Josephus records that Herod died just before a Passover & a lunar eclipse – which is normally dated to 4 BC.

by this reasoning, Jesus could have been born no later than 6 BC and probably earlier

How can Jesus be born in B.C. (Before Christ)?

How can Jesus be born in BC (Before Christ)? The calendar which splits time between BC and AD (Anno Domini or Latin for “Year of Our Lord”) was not adapted until AD 525 when a monk named Dionysius Exiguus prepared a standardised calendar for the western Church. Unfortunately, he missed the real BC/ AD split by at least 6 years! He also skipped the year zero, going straight from 1 BC to AD 1.

What year was Jesus born?

The census

LUKE 2:1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to his own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

Josephus recorded that Publius Sulpicius Quirinius did conduct another census in AD 6/ 7. In Acts 537 Luke says “Judas of Galilee” rose up in the days of “the census” referring to this incident.

The Romans tended to conduct a census every 14 years, making 8/ 7/ 6 BC a likely time frame for a preceding one.

What year was Jesus born?

In 6 A.D. Quirinius was sent to Syria as legate along with Coponius who would be the first prefect of Judea and a predecessor of Pontius Pilate

However in 1912 W. M. Ramsey discovered a fragmentary inscription at Antioch of Pisidia establishing that Quirinius was in Syria on a previous occasion.

His role was more military to lead a campaign against the Homanadenses, a tribe in the Taurus Mountains.

This is confirmed by Tacitus.

This means that Quirinius would have established a seat of government in Syria, including Palestine, from the years 10 to 7 BC.

Tertullian records the census "taken in Judea by Sentius Saturninus."

Sentius Saturninus was Legate of Syria from 9 to 6 BC.

What year was Jesus born?

Year of Jubilee

50TH year after 7 weeks of years when the land was to:

experience a Sabbath of rest

slaves were set free

debts were forgiven

What better year for our Lord to come than in the Jubilee year. It is in Him:

That we have rest from works (Heb 4:1Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. …3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”)

We are liberated

Our sins are forgiven

What year was Jesus born?

Year of Jubilee

If we count every 50 years from the entrance into Canaan in 1407 B.C., to the first 49 (7x7) plus the 50th (Jubilee Year) in 1357 B.C., to exactly 28 Jubilee years later, it brings us to 7 B.C.

What year was Jesus born?

The star of Bethlehem

In 7 BC, the world saw a triple conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter - an event occurring only once every 125 years.

Early in 6 BC, Jupiter and Saturn grouped close to the planet Mars - a configuration repeated only once every 805 years.

In the spring of 6 BC Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn also formed an unusually close grouping.

Ancient astrologers believed that the area of the sky named Pisces where these conjunctions occurred contained signs pertinent to the Hebrew nation

It is possible that the "Magi", blending a knowledge of Old Testament prophecies about a Messiah with heavenly observations were led to seek the predicted king in the Land of Israel.

What month was Jesus born?

December 25th?

The tradition of December 25th as Jesus’ birthday is actually quite old, dating from the 2nd century and not the 4th as many claim.

The earliest known testimony is Theophilus, Bishop of Caesarea (115-181):

We ought to celebrate the birth-day of our Lord on what day soever the 25th of December shall happen. 1

Around 202-211 AD Hippolytus of Rome in his Commentary on Daniel argued that December 25th was Christ’s birthday.

The Eastern Church claimed January 6th was the date. That day was named Epiphany which means “appearance”.

In the 4th Century AD John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople, mentioned that Julius I (337-52), bishop of Rome claimed to have had the Imperial records of the Roman census examined and confirmed the observance of Christ’s birthday on Dec 25th.

1 Magdeburgenses, Cent. 2. c. 6. Hospinian, de orign Festorum Chirstianorum

Some contend that Constantine I chose the 25th Dec so his pagan subjects could still have a holiday at Saturnalia. Constantine allegedly was a devotee of the sun cult (despite being the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity).

Some contend that Constantine I chose the 25th Dec so his pagan subjects could still have a holiday at Saturnalia. Constantine allegedly was a devotee of the sun cult (despite being the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity).

In reality the Roman feast of Saturnalia was from 17th to the 23rd December. In other words it was a week-long festival ending two days before December 25th. 1

Although it is claimed that Constantine made December 25th, the birthday of the pagan ‘Unconquered Sun god’, the official holiday it is now - the birthday of Jesus - there is no historical evidence for this.

Although Dies Natalis Solis Invicti has been the subject of a great deal of scholarly speculation, the only ancient source for it is a single mention in the Chronography of 354, and modern Sol scholar Steven Hijmans argues that there is no evidence that the celebration precedes that of Christmas: 2 & 3

1 See "http:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Saturnalia">http:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Saturnalia 2 S.E. Hijmans, Sol, the sun in the art and religions of Rome, 2009, pp. 587–588. 3 http:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Christmas

What month was Jesus born?

While some say that we are not instructed to celebrate Christ’s birth, the reality is that in the Scripture the shepherds celebrated his birth as did the very angels in the fields of Bethlehem. So did Simeon and Anna as well as the Magi (the “wise men”) who brought gifts to honour the new king.

While some say that we are not instructed to celebrate Christ’s birth, the reality is that in the Scripture the shepherds celebrated his birth as did the very angels in the fields of Bethlehem. So did Simeon and Anna as well as the Magi (the “wise men”) who brought gifts to honour the new king.

I contest the unjust criticism of Constantine in my ministry " agfbrakpan.co.za/ ministry-archives.aspx?mId=5">http:// agfbrakpan.com/ ministry-archives.aspx?mId=5 pages 31-48.

What month was Jesus born?

What month was Jesus born?

December 25th?

The shepherds were in the fields with their flocks at night when Jesus was born.

This seems to indicate that Jesus was born during the warmer seasons. During the coldest months like December or January, the shepherds probably didn't sleep in the fields but would bring their flocks into corals

Others contest this by saying that Israel has a very moderate climate, and mild winters.

What month was Jesus born?

December 25th?

The census of Augustus would probably not have been done during the coldest harshest season.

The census required mass migration of large numbers of the population. Unless Augustus deliberately wanted to make life difficult, he would take such a census during the warmer months and probably not in December.

Others counter-argue that the census must have been in winter, because it was only then that field labour was suspended. Also the Romans were not known for their consideration towards their subjects; the coldness of winter would have been a non-issue to them when calling a census.

What month was Jesus born?

Day of Atonement?

In 1603 Kepler observed a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation of Pisces. The two planets had converged to look like one larger and new "star."

He remembered that Jewish astrologers maintained that when there was a conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in Pisces, the Messiah would come. In ancient Jewish astrology, the constellation of Pisces was known as the House of Israel, the sign of the Messiah. Jupiter was the royal star of the house of David and Saturn was the protecting star of Israel, the Messiah's Star

Kepler concluded that he had found the "star of Bethlehem"

In 1925, P. Schnabel found, among the endless cuneiform records of dates and observations, a note on a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation of Pisces.

The position of Jupiter and Saturn, converged in Pisces, had been recorded over a period of five months in 7 B.C!!

Calculations show that the conjunction was observable three times over the course of the year, May 29, October 3, and December 4.

What month was Jesus born?

The conjunction in Pisces is observable in the southern sky over Judea and would sit directly over Bethlehem if one were observing along the road leading from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.

Why would Magi in Babylon care about a celestial event predicting the Jewish Messiah?

Babylon was as important a center for Judaism as Jerusalem in the ancient world.

It is very likely that the "wise men" were scholars of the School of Astrology in Sippar and likely of Jewish ancestry dating to the mass deportations of Jews to Babylon in the 7th century BC.

These astrologers would have observed the first conjunction on May 29 and then made preparations to travel to Judea, arriving for the time of a predicted second conjunction.

October 3 is within days of the time of other recorded Roman censuses.

What month was Jesus born?

Could Saturday, 10 Tishri, 3755 (October 3, 7 BC.) be the date of the birth of Jesus?

Interestingly, that day was a Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

The year of Jubilee was proclaimed on the Day of Atonement.

LEV 25:8 ”‘Count off seven sabbaths of years—seven times seven years—so that the seven sabbaths of years amount to a period of forty-nine years. 9 Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. 10 Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan.

What month was Jesus born?

Feast of Tabernacles?

LUKE 1:5 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. … Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense.

When his time of service was completed, he returned home. After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. (Luke 1:23)

1 Chronicles 24:3, 10, 18 And David, with Zadok of the sons of Eleazar and Ahimelech of the sons of Ithamar, divided them according to their offices for their ministry...... .....the seventh for Hakkoz and the eighth for Abijah. .....the twenty-third for Delaiah, and the twenty-fourth for Maaziah.

From the time of king David, there were 24 courses of priests assigned to the Temple, and the course of Abijah was the 8th course as a permanent assignment. Each course of priests served for 7 days (1 Chronicles 9:25), twice a year. Their week long service at the Temple began and ended on the Sabbath (2 Chronicles 23:8).

What month was Jesus born?

3 times a year all Israel was required to appear before the Lord at the Temple, and during those 3 weeks, all priests from all courses served at the Temple. The 3 times were the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Succoth) [Deuteronomy 16:16]. Therefore, all priests served 5 weeks a year; during the two weeks their course served at the Temple, and the 3 weeks where all priests were present.

The year for priest's courses began on the first of Nisan (Abib) in the spring of the year. Therefore we can count to the exact time for the service of Zacharias at the Temple. We don't count the week for the Feast of Unleavened Bread and for the week of Pentecost, because all priests served at that time. Therefore, Zacharias' first week of service would have been the 10th week of the year from approximately Sivan 12-18. His second week of service would have been the 35th week of the year from approximately Kislev 10-16. Sivan is the 3rd month in the Jewish calendar and occurs in May/ June; while Kislev is the 9th month of the year and occurs in November/ December.

Elizabeth conceived John the Baptist AFTER Zechariah had finished his Temple service. So, she would have become pregnant after the third Sabbath of Sivan (approximately Sivan 19-25):

Jewish calendar

What month was Jesus born?

Go forward 40 weeks, for a normal pregnancy, we see that John the Baptist was born in Nisan possibly on Passover.

It is interesting that John the Baptist may have been born on Passover (15th of Nisan), because one of the rituals of the Passover is to set a special place setting, for Elijah, and to open the door to welcome Elijah.

Jesus said that John the Baptist was the Elijah who was to come!

Zechariah was told by Gabriel of his son John (LUKE 1:17) And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Mary visited Elizabeth in her 6th month of pregnancy after Gabriel told her of her divine conception

This makes her 3 months pregnant when John the Baptist was born - jump ahead 6 months we find we are in the month of Tishri.

The 15 Tishri (the Feast of Tabernacles ) is also a possibility because of the date of Jesus death and the types in Scripture. John mentions in 1:14 of Jesus "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us..." the word "dwelt" comes from the Greek work skenoo which means to tent or to camp, to reside as God did in the Tabernacle.

What month was Jesus born?

ZECH 14:9 The LORD will be king over the whole earth. …16 Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.

The feast of tabernacles was just a feast to remind Israel of their wanderings and was made to "dwell" in booths (tents). Why would all nations come to worship the King [of Kings] on that day? In most monarchal societies they celebrate the birthday of their king. If Jesus' birthday is 15 Tishri [the Feast of Tabernacles] that would help the understanding of this verse.


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