Birth of Jesus Christ

The Feast of Hannukah and the Magi

In our previous December blog post for 2017, we looked at the astronomical heritage of the Magi going back to Abraham. This final post for 2017 will focus more on this heritage through Daniel, as we compare some of the celestial signs that brought the Magi to Jerusalem during Hannukah week in 2 BC, to current heavenly signs in 2017.

“The truth regarding “his star” became accessible knowledge to the Magi going back to when the Persians took over the Babylonian Empire {Daniel 5:31}. As recorded in Daniel 6, at the time of transition, Daniel retained the high position he had held under Babylonian rule. According to Daniel 6:3, Daniel was again set over the Magi, and therefore could fully instruct them in the accurate knowledge of Biblical prophecy written in the stars. Thus, Daniel and his Judean companions in the courts of Nebuchadnezzar the Babylonian, and Darius the Persian passed their knowledge of the history and spiritual significance of the Constellations to the Magi who preserved it and hence were aware of the promise of the birth of the Judean King.” 

In the context of Daniel’s many Messianic prophecies, he founded and lead the Magi as the legitimate group of astronomers, preserving the principles of the Bible Patriarchs, that would play a key spiritual and historical role in recognizing and presenting gifts at the birth of the Messiah. As Gentile astronomers in recognition of the promised seed, the Magi were some of the first non-Judeans to realize the coming glory of the Son of God, as the prophecy of the Magi in Isaiah 60:3-6 indicates: “And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.”

Around 600 years before the birth of Christ, Daniel as Rab-mag, and chief of the Magi, proved to be an exceptional man of God. Daniel’s distinguished career not only included being a principal administrator in two world empires-the first two empires prophesied in King Necbuchadnezzar’s dream of the Great image [Dan. 2:31-47], but also wielded great political power as “ruler over the whole province of Babylon,” with his Judean companions, [Dan. 2:48-49].  The ancient Magi formed a Priesthood of the Medes known for their profound spiritual knowledge, with special expertise in interpreting dreams. Darius the Great empowered them over the state religion of Persia, [Dan. 6:1-3]. In this capacity, where both civil and political counsel was invested with religious power, the Magi became the supreme priestly caste of the Persian empire, continuing their prominence into the Seleucid and Parthian empires. Their duties even included the choice and election of the king of the realm.

Figure 1. Daniel interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, [Dan. 2:31-47].
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Since the times of Daniel, the fortunes of both the Persian and the Jewish nations were closely related. Both the Persian and Israelite nations fell under Seleucid domination following the conquests of Alexander the GreatIsrael regained its independence under Maccabean leadership, as the Persians became the ruling group within the Parthian Empire.

From the book of Daniel and historical sources, the meaning of the “abomination of desolation” in one sense is the desecration of the Temple when Antiochus IV set up a statue of Zeus in the Jerusalem Temple and sacrificed a pig on the altar on December 25, 167 BC, honoring the birth of the Sun god. With this act of desolation Antiochus is seen as a forerunner of the future anti-Christ, who will also defile the third Temple. This desolation of the temple motivated the Jews into a revolt resulting in their political independence for the first time since the Babylonian Captivity. As Judah Maccabee marched into Jerusalem to purify the Temple, idols were torn down and the defiled temple altar was dismantled with a new altar and holy vessels to replace them. The first day of a new feast was set to re-dedicate the Temple on the 25th of Kislev, the same day when, three years earlier, Antiochus issued his decree. This end of foreign rule has been celebrated in the current Jewish festival of Hanukkah, meaning “dedication” (of the sanctuary) from 164 B. C. until today. This feast however is not recognized as one of the main seven feasts on the Hebrew Calendar starting with Passover. Even though Hannukah was not a feast sanctioned in the OT Law, the Jews honored this feast with much esteem.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

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Tradition tells us however, when Judah offered prayers of dedication in the Temple in 165 BC, only one vessel of sanctified oil was found—enough for one day. Miraculously, it burned for eight days! This is remembered by the kindling of lights for eight days, in the lighting of the Menorah Lamp. With this miraculous spiritual recognition, the Feast of Dedication [John 10:22], not only memorialized the removal of idols and idolatry from the Temple during this period of the Maccabees, but Jesus Christ also honored this feast celebration during his ministry. In 27 AD when Jesus opened his ministry to Israel, there were 9 weeks from the end of the Feast of Tabernacles on Oct. 11th, [Tishri 22] to the start of the Feast of Dedication on Dec. 13th 27 AD [Kislev 25] in the late fall and early Winter of 27 to 28 AD, during which time Jesus sent out the 70, [Lk. 10:1-24].

John 10:22-25

22 And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. 23 And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch. 24 Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.

Reverting back to the time of the Magi’s trek to Jerusalem, “The Star of Bethlehem,” as it has been known in tradition for centuries, has caused untold confusion with regards to the birth-date of Jesus Christ. Much of this confusion is due to the fact that the Magi actually presented their gifts to the child Jesus on Dec. 25th, 2 BC who was about 15 and 1/2 months old by this time. This holiday via Roman Catholic tradition, related to the pagan holiday Saturnalia, on the Winter Solstice that was celebrated as “Christ-mass,” once Christianity became the official state religion of Rome. However believer’s with any knowledge of this subject realize this was not Christ’s birthday. Dr. Earnest Martin documents the many reasons why the Eclipse of 4 BC, which many historians have favored, does not qualify as the sign marking the death of Herod. Instead, Dr. Martin makes a very strong case for the Jan. 9, 1 BC Blood Moon Eclipse as the one marking Herod’s Death. This provides a temporal framework for the birth of Christ on Sept 11th, 3 BC one hand, with this January 1 BC Eclipse on the other, when Jupiter was observed in the skies over Jerusalem and Bethlehem by the Magi.

Upon leaving the massing of planets in August of 2 BCJupiter continued in its westerly retrograde motion observed by the Magi in their normal early morning observations. It entered Virgo by December 4th of that year, shortly before dawn, where it took up a Meridian position during the conjunction of Venus-Mars. The eclipse that shortly preceded Herod’s death occurred on January 9, of the same year. Thus it was sometime during this five week period from December 4th to January 9th that the Magi journeyed from Jerusalem to Bethlehem and saw the star of Matt. 2:9.

As Dr. Earnest Martin relates:

“…This apparent westward motion of Jupiter each day would have indicated to the Magi to proceed in the same westward direction toward Jerusalem. During their visit with Herod, the Magi were directed to Bethlehem by the input of the Judean Scribes.” 


Figure 2. The Caravan of the Magi entering Jerusalem.

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Matthew 2:2
Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

This question from the Magi is the first question in the NT, and very pointed one directed at Herod, who had secured the title of “King of the Jews” from Augustus Caesar, but was not able to secure Jerusalem for another three years, until after five months of Roman siege. History has no problem recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital city although the UN today and the Palestinian’s are unwilling to do so. Herod gained the throne of a thorny buffer state situated between two dominating world empires of Rome and Parthia, and as then, this continues to show Jerusalem and Israel as perhaps the most contested and important piece of real estate in the world

Herod and his scribes had directed the Magi to Bethlehem because of a scriptural prophecy. Now the star confirmed this location by appearing directly before them as they approached the city of David. Both Scripture and the Heavens were directing them. Interestingly, their journey brought them to Jerusalem in December, at which time a joyous festival called the Feast of Dedication, Hanukkah, took place. The significance of this time is apparent when one considers that the Feast of Dedication marked the restoration of worship in the Temple after a period of foreign occupation. Now, the Magi were coming to pay respect to, or worship, the young King of the Judeans, who was the true Temple. [emphasis mine]

On December 25th, 2 BC, from our website study; “The Stars over Bethlehem,” Jupiter became stationary for six days in Virgo, due to its annual retrograde motion during the Feast of Dedication, at the time of the Winter Solstice. Although Hannukah is a joyous time for Israel, and a time for gift giving, this was the opposite theme of Solstice festivals celebrated by the pagan Gentiles. Since the start of the eight day celebration of Hannukah began on December 23rd, the Magi presented their gifts on the 3rd day of this festival. The Jews viewed Hanukkah as a 2nd feast of Tabernacles symbolizing their redemption with and the entire world to God. No fast, or mourning was allowed during the eight days of this time of joy and festivity. From the Jewish perspective, there was no better time for the Magi to present their gifts to a child in Israel than at the time of Hanukkah. Here all of Israel commemorated their triumph over the idolatry of the Gentiles and the renewal of their lives to the God of Abraham.

In a previous blog post last month we referenced the truth that the Gentile Magi arrived during Hannukah-the festival of lights, as a 2nd Feast of Tabernacles, allowing for those who missed the first one in September. It is fitting that the initial Gentile recognition and response to the light of the world took place during the festival of lights, showing God’s Grace to all mankind, [Hag. 2:7]. The timing of the winter Solstice is also key here because the Gentile Magi appeared at the expected birth of the heathen sun-god, but honored the true Son of God instead, marking a much needed transition from the heathen world’s idol practices, to the true veneration of the Promised Seed-Jesus Christ.

With both Mars and Venus in Ophiuchus, during this sign in December of 2 BC, we can see the archangel Mars-Michael, standing to protect the ascendant Morning star-the young toddler Jesus, during this time of the enemy’s attack. A noteworthy point here is Jupiter was standing still in the heavens for about six days during the Hanukkah celebration, near the intersection of the ecliptic and the Meridian in Virgo. This focuses our attention on the path of Jupiter intersecting the ecliptic; the Sun’s path, pointing out the celestial relationship between Jupiter and the Sun, not to mention their kindred symbolism.

Martin states that:

… while Jupiter was in its “standing still” position in Virgo over Bethlehem, so the Sun was also “standing still.” All know that December 25th is in the usual period of the Winter Solstice. The word Solstice means “Sun stands still.” These stationary coincidences of Jupiter and the Sun are quite related, and would have appeared significant… 5  

Both the King Planet and the Sun were standing still during the week of Hannukah the Festival of Lights in 2 BC! This brings us to Hannukah from 12/13 to 12/21 in 2017, where the heavens are alive with follow-up celestial signs in the wake of the Rev. 12 sign of 9/23/2017. We see Jupiter in Libra moving towards the first of a triple union with Zuben El Genubi, seen below.

Figure 3. 12/21/2017 union of Jupiter-Zuben El Genubi in Libra, with Mars near Spica in Virgo. 6

The significance of Libra not only refers to the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but also includes the judgement of God on mankind. The ONLY way man can be weighed in Libra’s balances and NOT found wanting, is believing in Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God who bought our redemption by spilling his innocent blood at the cross, [Rom. 10:9-10]. This truth is embodied in Libra’s star, Zuben Al Chemali-the Price that Covers! 7

Jesus is the only one ever who was not only qualified, but actually laid down his life for all mankind, making him the only Way of Salvation, the Alpha and Omega-the first and last way God made available for the redemption of all humanity. Last month in our Nov. 15th blog, I supplied the Christ-centric interpretation of the Saturn-Venus union in Sagittarius which follows. In this blog we will see an alternative view of this sign based on the first of the four riders of the Apocalypse. [Rev. 6]

To brighten our holiday season this year, there is a Christmas Day conjunction of Saturn and Venus in Sagittarius! On Dec. 25th, 2017 Venus the bright and Morning Star unites with Saturn, displaying Christ’s victory over the evil one, as seen in Sagittarius where our quickly returning Lord Jesus Christ is portrayed in triumph, conquering to conquer! Here the star picture of the mounted Archer has his arrow aimed at the red heart of the ScorpionAntares, while the foot of Ophiuchus crushes the Scorpion’s heart. As we noted in our previous blog post, Saturn has just completed its triple union with Saiph, the star in Ophiuchus’ other foot which was stung by the Scorpion, bruising the heel of the 1st and 2nd Adam’s, [Gen. 3:15]. This shows Satan’s persistent evil to obstruct God’s purposes any way he can, even though he knows he is defeated. This planetary conjunction near the conqueror’s Bow, shows the deadly accuracy of our Lord’s aim [Figure 4] to destroy the works of the enemy, [I John 3:8b].

The Hannukah feast and celebration is founded upon the defiling of the Jerusalem Temple by Antiochus IV. As a forerunner of the future anti-Christ who will declare himself-God in the third Jerusalem Temple [2 Thess. 2:3-12], the celestial signs surrounding Hannukah week deserve closer scrutiny. We find during the week of Hannukah on 12/17/2017 a massing of planets in Ophiuchus, [Fig. 4] and Venus in union with the star Saiph in the Serpent-bearer’s bruised foot. This planetary alignment in Ophiuchus includes the presence of Mercury, and the Sun. Also both the Moon and Venus are located in Ophiuchus’ wounded leg. This takes place eight days prior to the Christmas day union of Venus and Saturn in Sagittarius. Sagittarius like certain other Mazzaroth signs can have a dual meaning depending on the planets occupying its space. In the classic sense of the Sun moving in the 12 houses of the Mazzaroth [Ps. 19], each sign carries a specific meaning regarding the Sun of God-Jesus Christ, [Mal.4:2]. However, when a planet like Saturn-Satan enters a sign of the zodiac, it carries a darker significance related to the enemy. Normally, the 12 Mazzaroth signs tell of the Christ, but when we see Saturn in Sagittarius we may also be viewing signs related to the anti-Christ, especially during Hannukah for the reasons stated above. As we shared in some recent blogs, the Saturn-Saiph triple union in Ophiuchus occurred while Jupiter was in Virgo’s womb. These concurrent triple conjunctions resulted from the retrograde motions of the planets involved. This also included the Mercury’s retrograde around Regulus in Leo, as Jupiter was exiting the womb of Virgo. Mercury’s retrograde during this time occurred from Aug 13 to September 5, 2017. As Jupiter departed Virgo’s birth canal, Saturn was moving towards the bow of  Sagittarius. It is interesting that one of Sagittarius‘ brightest stars is named Nunki-meaning the prince of the earth, which also relates to the anti-Christ. We find an example of this in [Dan. 9:25-27] where the first prince refers to the Messiah in v.25, but the second prince comes with his army to destroy the city and the sanctuary, not something the Messiah will ever do. This prince was Titus the future Roman Emperor, who like Antiochus VI was a forerunner of the Antichrist. 8

Figure 4. Massing of Planets in Ophiuchus during Hannukah Week in Dec. 2017. 9

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As stated above, Venus the bright and morning star in its lead up to the Christmas day union with Saturn, is in conjunction with the star Saiph in Ophiuchus’ foot. This is a follow-up to the previous triple union between Saturn and Saiph, which completed Sept. 6th 2017. As Venus joins Saturn in Sagittarius we can see elements of Rev. 6 coming to life.

Rev. 6:1-2

1. And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. +And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

Sagittarius is pictured below as a mythical beast called a Centaur-which forms the combined bodies of a horse and a man. So we have a bowman riding a horse, unified with his steed, with his crown [Corona Australis] going forth conquering to conquerDaniel spoke about “beasts” in his prophecies [Dan. 7:17, 23] in reference to kings that would arise out of the earth. John in the book of Revelation [13:18] also refers to the number of the beast. 10

Figure 5. Sagittarius and Scorpius-Jamieson

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As a follow -up to the Mercury retrograde concluding the first week of September 2017Mercury’s next retrograde, according to NASA began in Sagittarius on December 3rd, encompassing the entire week of Hannukah 2017. A result of Mercury’s final retrograde of 2017 includes a triple union with Saturn in Sagittarius. The first conjunction of Mercury-Saturn on November 28 is the first in this series of three Mercury-Saturn conjunctions. A triple conjunction is when two planets, or a planet and star, appear together in close proximity on three different occasions in a short time-frame. The second Mercury-Saturn conjunction occurs on Dec. 6, 2017, when Mercury moves less than 1.5o under Saturn. After the 2nd meeting of Mercury with Saturn, the messenger planet in retrograde unites with Venus, heralding the bright and morning star on December 15. The third union in this triple conjunction will be the closest of this series, with Mercury swinging about 0.7o (seven-tenths of a degree) south of Saturn on January 13, 2018.  This Jan. 13th conjunction next year will be easily visible [Fig. 6], in the morning sky since the shining Crescent Moon will spot-light Mercury and Saturn together.

Figure 6. The third of three unions of Mercury-Saturn from Nov. 28th 2017, to Jan. 13th, 2018.  11

 

 

 

The fall and winter of 2017 has been a beehive of triple planetary conjunctions leading up to and surrounding the Rev. 12 sign on 9/23/2017. I have linked many of the studies that tell this story in this final blog post of 2017, especially for the many new friends we have welcomed into the Biblical Astronomy Fellowship this year! If you take the time to check out the details of these linked studies, it will bless you in getting a fuller picture of what the Heavenly Father has set in the heavens for our edification for a time such as this. It is a genuine pleasure to meet you all, and I’m enjoying all the comments and feedback with all of your individual contributions!

Its a joy to share with such a fun and sharp bunch of folks, and I wish all of you the best of Holiday Seasons and the opportunity to help each other into a prosperous and blessed New Year!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

God Bless each and every one of you and your families…

 Amen!!

 

 

Footnotes

1. Jesus Christ our Promised Seed, American Christian Press, p. 17.

2. THE STAR THAT ASTONISHED THE WORLD, Dr. Earnest Martin

3. IBID, Dr. Earnest Martin p. 47.

4. Jesus Christ our Promised Seed, American Christian Press, p. 63-64

5. THE STAR THAT ASTONISHED THE WORLD, Dr. Earnest Martin

6. Picture credit on Plate 3: https://jeffreylhunt.wordpress.com/2017/09/30/2017-2018

7.  Witness of the Stars, E.W. Bullinger p. 46

8. The Abomination of Desolation and other Prophetic terms of Biblical Eschatology [ppg. 4,8] Jon Nessle

9. Stellarium Ophiuchus Planetary Alignment Hannukah 2017.

10. The Abomination of Desolation and other Prophetic terms of Biblical Eschatology [ppg. 4,8] Jon Nessle

11. Bruce McClure “Tonight” Saturn-Mercury 1st of three [http://earthsky.org/tonight/mercurysaturn-conjunction-on-november-28]

 

 

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