By Jesus Christ: Logos, Memra, and other letter for Economists
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- Ilaria L.E. Ramelli.
- Complex Analysis (Universitext).
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Herod the Great died that year, and the Gospels are quite clear that Jesus was born at a time when Herod was still living. Since Herod died in 4 B. The second clue, the decree of Quirinius mentioned in verse 2, was issued in the year 8 B. Therefore, Jesus was born sometime between the years 8 B. But other sources can pinpoint the year even more precisely.
Josephus, a first century Jewish historian, recorded that Herod left Jerusalem in the year 5 B. He spent his final months of life in the city of Jericho and died there. We know from Matthew 2 that the Wise-men met with Herod while he was still in Jerusalem, so that would put the Wise-men connection sometime between the years 8 B.
Furthermore, Josephus also stated that throughout the year 8 B. Herod was away from Jerusalem fighting a war. Since he was away from Jerusalem in the year 8 B.
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Putting all of these clues together, the conclusion is that Yeshua was born sometime between the years 7 B. It was probably closer to the year 7 B. When Yeshua was born, He was wrapped in swaddling clothes. This will prove to be something significant. The meaning of this will be discussed in the next narrative.
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In Luke , there is the announcement by the angels to the shepherds concerning the birth of Jesus. Verse 8 states: And there were shepherds in the same country abiding in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock. It has already been pointed out that Yeshua was born sometime between the years 7 B. But there are not enough clues given to reveal which month during that year Yeshua was born.
This verse is often used to try to argue against a December 25th date for His birth. Around Christmastime, in various churches and on various radio programs, Bible teachers claim that Yeshua could not have been born on December 25th because there would not be shepherds out in the field watching the flock by night in the month of December. Those who say this obviously have never been to Bethlehem in the month of December.
I lived in Israel for a number of years, and, on more than one December day when I was in the Bethlehem environs, there were shepherds and sheep all over the place. One cannot assume that what is true of shepherds and sheep in the state of Montana in the month of December is the proper criterion to interpret what is true of Bethlehem in the month of December.
This is not to argue in favor of a December 25th date. Insofar as the biblical record is concerned, there is no way to determine accurately just when during the year Yeshua was born. But verse 8 cannot be used against a December 25th date. Maybe Yeshua was born on December 25th. Or perhaps He was born on July 4th. It is impossible to know. But at that point, something unique happened. Verse 9 states: And an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
Book Review: The Jewish Gospel of John
Suddenly the Shechinah Glory reappeared in one of its more familiar, Old Testament manifestations; that of light. For the first time since the Shechinah Glory departed from Israel in the days of Ezekiel , for the first time in more than five centuries, the Shechinah Glory reappeared. God used the Shechinah Glory to announce the birth of the Messiah to Jewish shepherds. Along with the Shechinah Glory, an angel appeared. Secondly, a Saviour is born. The shepherds were then instructed to go and find this child. But there were many babies in Bethlehem, so how would they know which baby it was?
The angel gave them two clues: And this is the sign unto you v. The word sign by itself does not require the miraculous, but it does require the unusual. This sign contains two elements: first, the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes; and secondly, He is lying in a manger. The first clue was that the baby was wrapped in swaddling clothes. Swaddling clothes are not baby clothes because that would not be a sign; that would not be unusual, because all babies are wrapped in baby clothes. Intermixed among the stable-caves were also other caves used to bury people. Burial cloth was sometimes stored in nearby stable-caves.
If a man died in the town of Bethlehem, his body was taken out of the town in a funeral procession. The first stop was at a stable-cave where burial cloth was stored, and the body was wrapped in burial cloth. Then the procession would proceed to a burial cave.
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The round stone was rolled away, the body placed in a niche in the burial cave, and then the stone was rolled back over the mouth of the cave. Since Jesus was born in a cave, which was used for a stable, rather than the inn, Mary and Joseph had to make use of that which was most readily available, burial cloth. The symbolism should not be missed: Jesus was wrapped in burial cloth on the first day of His life and He was wrapped with the same type of cloth on the last day of His life. The symbolic meaning is that He came for the purpose of dying. All others are born to live, but Jesus was born to die.
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The second clue, the fact that the baby was lying in a manger, told these shepherds not to look in the private homes of Bethlehem, but to look inside stables. In those days, stables were not separate buildings or barns, but caves which were used as stables. During the winter months, if it were not raining, the flocks could be in the field; but if it were raining, the shepherds brought the flocks into the caves, which were used, for stables.
Jesus was born in a stable-cave. The shepherds were to look for the baby inside a cave that was used as a stable. After these instructions, other angels appeared, praising God, and they said, not sang, two things. First, in verse 14, for God: Glory to God in the highes t. And secondly, for humanity: And on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased. Because of the two clues given, the shepherds found the child with Mary and Joseph. When they found them, they told Joseph and Mary everything concerning the vision they had seen, so Mary knew these things and kept all these sayings, pondering them in her heart v.
Mary, after hearing these things, kept these things quiet and secret, pondering them in her heart. Years later, apparently, she revealed these things to Luke, who wrote this account. This incident records the first Jewish worship of the Messianic Person. Then in verse And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, even as it was spoken unto them.
They praised God for providing the Messiah. Luke records the circumcision of Yeshua: And when eight days were fulfilled for circumcising him, his name was called JESUS, which was so called by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. Again, in Jewish tradition, the male child is not named at birth, but named on the eighth day when he is circumcised. Circumcision was prescribed or commanded under two of the Old Testament covenants: the Abrahamic Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant, but it had two different meanings. Under the Abrahamic Covenant, circumcision was obligatory for Jews only because it was a sign of Jewishness.
Under the Mosaic Covenant, circumcision was obligatory for both Jews and Gentiles such as proselytes and servants, as the sign of submission to the Law of Moses. Jesus was circumcised under both covenants. Today, because the Mosaic Law has come to an end, there is no basis of circumcising either Jews or Gentiles on the basis of the Mosaic Law. However, the Abrahamic Covenant is eternal, so circumcision is still mandatory for Jews. Even today, all Jews including Jewish believers are to circumcise their sons on the eighth day as a sign of their Jewishness, according to the Abrahamic Covenant.
The fact that Joseph and Mary fulfilled this command showed their obedience to the Law of Moses and that they were members of the believing, faithful Remnant. Circumcision does not show the faith and obedience of the child, rather, it shows the faith and obedience of the parents. If a child at the mere age of eight days had the option, he would probably prefer to forego this experience.
The child is not exercising his own will or his own faith when he is circumcised. For that reason, baptism is not the anti-type to circumcision.
Ilaria L.E. Ramelli
Baptism shows the faith and obedience of the one being baptized, and not of the parents. The anti-type of the circumcision of the flesh is not baptism, but the circumcision of the heart. The next event recorded was the presentation of the Child to the Lord that occurred when Yeshua was forty-days old. Verse 22 states: And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were fulfilled, they brought him up to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord According to the Mosaic Law in Leviticus 12, if a mother gave birth to a girl, she was reckoned ceremonially unclean for a period of eighty days.
If she gave birth to a boy, she was reckoned ceremonially unclean for forty days. The mother needed to undergo a purification ritual. Because Mary had given birth to a boy, this event occurred when Jesus was forty-days old.