Today, September 19th, the Jewish people celebrate The Feast of Tabernacles as they have been commanded by God in Leviticus 23:34-43. This festival celebrates the time when God liberated his people from Egyptian bondage and led them through the desert to Mt. Sinai. There God revealed His laws to Moses and made a covenant with His people.
In remembrance of that journey the Jewish people build booths covered with branches, foliage, and fruit in their backyards and they eat many meals in them.
In remembrance of God giving them His laws they have a special worship service with a big procession carrying the Torah scrolls.
There are also many Christians who celebrate this festival for the above reasons and also celebrate it as the time when their Messiah, Jesus Christ, came to earth and was born to the Virgin Mary and Joseph.
In my theological studies I have found this time to be the accurate time when Jesus was born (rather than the traditional December 25th date) for the following reasons:
The first reason is that I have seen how God worked hard in revealing the prophecies of a coming Messiah to give hope to His people. Then, God worked even harder over thousands of years to bring about the world conditions so that those prophecies could be fulfilled and He brought Jesus Christ to be born at the right time during The Feast of Tabernacles fulfilling God’s great desire to tabernacle or live with His people.
This fulfillment is seen in the verse “And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.” (John 1:14 NASB alternate reading)
Another reason for my belief that Jesus was born during this festival comes from the comparison of the weather conditions found in the reading of Luke 2:8-16 to what kind of weather happens in that area during late December.
As I read those verses, it sounds like the angelic hosts are proclaiming the Savior’s birth to shepherds tending their sheep on the hills around Bethlehem on a warm autumn night; rather than in the cold, rainy, and possibly snowy weather that often happens in late December and usually causes the shepherds to bring their sheep down into the valleys near their home.
A third reason to believe that Jesus was born during this festival comes from an understanding that this festival is a mandatory attendance feast, which meant that all Jewish men were required to come to Jerusalem to celebrate it in the Temple. As a result of that requirement all the hotel rooms in the areas surrounding Jerusalem (including the Bethlehem area) would have been ‘booked solid’ at that time. This is the reason why there was no room for Mary and Joseph in the inn as stated in Luke 2:7.
As good as these reasons are for believing that Jesus was born during this festival, I found even greater reasons to believe this by reading the article: “On What Day Was Jesus Born? By Michael Scheifler as found on the website: http://biblelight.net/sukkoth.htm
In this article Scheifler carefully puts together the clues about the time of Jesus’ birth found in Luke chapter one with the facts found in other Scriptures and Jewish sources to show when Zacharias (the father of John the Baptist) was performing his priestly service in the Temple in Jerusalem.
This is important to know when figuring out the date of Jesus’ birth because in Luke 1:36, the angel Gabriel tells the Virgin Mary that ”your relative Elizabeth (wife of Zacharias) has also conceived a son in her old age and she who was called barren, is in her sixth month.” This establishes the fact that John the Baptist was six months older than Jesus.
In his article citing Biblical sources, Scheifler states that Zacharias “completed his Temple service on the third Sabbath of [the Jewish month of] Sivan. (May-June) Zacharias returned home and conceived his son. Then, Scheifler projects an average gestation term of 40 weeks forward to the middle of the Jewish months of Nissan, which coincides with the Feast of Passover.
Since John was born around the middle of the Jewish month of Nissan, and he was six months older than Jesus, then the likely date for the birth of Jesus would be the middle of the seventh Jewish month of Tishri. This is when The Feast of Tabernacles begins!
Now that this article has shown the reasons why I believe that Jesus was really born on The Feast of Tabernacles, we can celebrate that birth as we celebrate this festival that is happening today.
Even though we can see that the real birthday of Jesus Christ is during this festival, we can also celebrate his birthday on the traditional Christmas Day of December 25th because Jesus’ coming to earth to complete God’s plan for the spiritual redemption of mankind is so great it can be celebrated everyday!.