The Virgin Birth and Divine Heir of the Davidic Throne

The Virgin Birth and Divine Heir of

the Davidic Throne

Time & Eternity met in Bethlehem Dec. 25th

 

In this article we survey prophetic references to the incarnation of Christ from Mary’s womb until the cross, and the garden until his birth in Bethlehem.

The sacred seed-line from Adam to David

Our first ancestors were made in the image and likeness of God and stood in no need of a Savior, but were in a state of perfect innocence before God. However, with the fall the race became “carnal, sold under sin” (Rom. 7:14). That is, whereas God made man good and upright, the fall morally estranged man from his Maker. Those who are opposed to God, obeying the flesh rather than the Spirit, cannot live forever. Man’s moral estrangement from God therefore brought him into bondage to sin and death. Willing that men should be redeemed and not eternally lost, God promised a “kinsman redeemer” who would vanquish sin and death, and enable men to share in eternal life.

And the Lord God said unto the serpent, because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shat bruise his heel. Gen. 3:14, 15

The serpent is a symbol for the power of sin and death; its seed is a symbol for the children of disobedience who live in alienation and enmity toward God. The woman is a symbol for the bride, the covenant people of God. The woman’s seed is Christ. The sting (venom) of death is sin, and the strength of sin is God’s moral law (I Cor. 15:56), for without law there is no transgression (Rom. 4:15). The serpent’s seed would bruise Christ’s heel in the cross; but Christ would crush the serpent’s head in his substitutionary death and atoning sacrifice, providing forgiveness of our transgressions. Note, however, that in procreation, the man provides the seed, the woman the egg (Gen. 38:9; Lev. 15:16). That seed is here attributed to the woman therefore almost certainly alludes to the virgin birth of Christ.[1]

The sacred seed-line by which God would bring the Savior into the world would be a people of faith; a people whose moral disposition was to receive and to obey the word of God. From Adam, the seed-line descended to Abel. Abel was slain by Cain and thus replaced by Seth. From Seth it descended to Noah and his son Shem. From Shem, it descended to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and thence to the tribe of Judah. Judah would be the royal tribe holding the monarchial scepter whence Christ would descend, here called Shiloh:

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Gen. 49:10

The monarchy over Israel was first held by the tribe of Benjamin and the house of Saul, son of Kish (I Sam. 9, 10). However, Saul was rejected for rebelling against the word of God, and David, the son of Jesse, of the tribe of Judah and the town of Bethlehem, was anointed to become king in his place (I Sam. 15:23; 16:1, 13). God called David a “man after his own heart” (I Sam. 13:14), and promised that his throne and dynasty would endure forever, and that Christ would be born of his seed:

And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. I Sam. 7:12-14

In its immediate historical context, this promise applied to Solomon who built the Jerusalem temple. However, the plenior sensus (fuller sense) of the passage is clearly messianic and points to Christ. The greatness of Solomon’s kingdom, which was the world-power of its day, would serve as a prophetic type pointing to the kingdom and reign of the Messiah who rules over earth’s people from the right hand of God in heaven and whose church is a spiritual temple. The sacred-seed line therefore descended from Abraham to Judah and thence to the house of David, to which would be born Christ. It is in David, therefore, that messianic prophecies assume a royal dimension.

The Prophecy of the Virgin Birth

Isaiah 7:13-16 – And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

The historical context of the prophecy of the virgin birth requires explanation.

Following the reign of Solomon, Israel became a divided kingdom. The ten northern tribes broke away from the house of David and became a separate kingdom (I Kng. 12). The dynasties of the northern kingdom were generally short-lived and suffered numerous changes. However, the house of David continued to rule over the tribes of Judah and Benjamin in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, few of the kings of Judah were like David; the majority failed to prepare their hearts to seek the Lord and consequently wandered into idolatry and sin. Ahaz, to whom the above prophecy was addressed, was among the evil kings (II Kng. 16; II Chrn. 28). Hence, the tone of the prophecy, saying, “will ye weary God also?” The sins of Ahaz and Judah caused God to deliver the land into the hands of Rezin, the king of Syria, and Pekah, the king of Israel, who smote the land and carried away many captives (II Chrn. 28:1-5). These two kings also sought to overthrow the house of David and place the son of Tabeal upon the throne (Isa. 7:6; cf. II Chrn. 28:6-15). However, God’s purpose to bring Christ into the world through the Davidic line meant that their attempted overthrow of the house of David would not succeed: God would preserve Judah and the house of David. Within sixty-five years God would cause the northern tribes to be carried into captivity in Assyria (Isa. 7:7-9). In assurance that God would preserve Judah and the house of David, God told Ahaz to ask from heaven a sign (v. 11). However, Ahaz feigned reverence for God and said he would not tempt the LORD by asking a sign (v. 12). God answered, saying, he himself would give a sign: a child would be born whom, while still tender and young, would see the overthrow of the kings of Syria and the northern kingdom. This was fulfilled in twelfth year of Ahaz when Hoshea conspired against Pekah and slew him and reigned in his place (II Kng. 15:30; 17:1).[2] Nine years later, the king of Assyria carried the northern kingdom into captivity (II Kng. 17:6-23).

The messianic dimension of the prophecy of the virgin birth and its fulfillment in Jesus are well known (Matt. 1:23). However, since Ahaz would not be alive when Jesus was born, the sign of Immanuel given in token that God would preserve Judah and the house of David necessarily had a historical dimension fulfilled in Ahaz’ day. In its immediate historical context, the child named “Immanuel” was almost certainly Isaiah’s son. This is clear from Isa. 8:1-4 where Isaiah takes to wife a prophetess who conceives and bears the prophet a son. Isaiah is divinely instructed to name the child “Mahershalalhashbaz,” which is translated “swift to the spoil, swift to the prey,” and was prophetic of the ruin that would shortly befall Samaria and Damascus. The child “Mahershalalhashbaz” is also probably “Immanuel” (see Isa. 8:8). Isaiah, whose other son was named “Sherarjashub” (“a remnant shall return”), next states “Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in Zion” (Isa. 8:18). In other words, Isaiah’s children were divinely named and served as tokens of God’s favor upon Judah and the house of David. In light of these considerations, it seems probable that the “virgin” originally referred to the prophetess Isaiah married who conceived a child through normal conjugal relations (cf. v.3). The Hebrew word “almah” (Isa. 7:14), used of the prophetess, can mean either “young woman” or “virgin” so that its use seems to deliberately anticipate the dual aspect of the prophecy as it related to Isaiah’s wife and ultimately the virgin Mary.

The sign to king Ahaz implicit in Immanuel’s birth may have stemmed in part from Isaiah himself. Isaiah’s ministry spanned the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezikiah (Isa. 1:1). Uzziah reigned fifty-two years; his son Jotham reigned sixteen years; Ahaz, in whose days the prophecy of the virgin birth was given, likewise reigned sixteen-years (II Chrn. 26:3; 27:1; 28:1). Therefore, it may be that by the time of the instant prophecy Isaiah was of advanced age such that the prophetess conceiving a son by him bespoke divine intervention which thus became a sign of God’s wonderous deliverance of Judah and the house of David. However, that Jesus was born to a virgin is beyond dispute. Matthew uses the Greek term parthenos to describe Mary in quoting Isa. 7:14 (Matt. 1:23). Moreover, the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures dating to the third century BC, also uses this term in translating the Hebrew almah, so that it is clear the Jews themselves understood the word in precisely the same terms as Matthew.[3]

The Incarnation Psalm – Christ in Mary’s Womb?

David, who was also a prophet, so ordered his life and kingdom that he became a figure for the Messiah. Ezekiel thus prophesied of Christ in the name and person of David, as if the Messiah would be the re-embodiment of David himself:

And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it. Ezk.34:23, 24

And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them…and my servant David shall be their prince forever. Ezk. 37:24, 25

Hosea is to the same effect:

Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days. Hosea 3:5

The fact that David became a figure for Christ is important in understanding many of the Psalms. Although David composed many Psalms in response to his personal experiences, the plenior sensus was often messianic and both prefigured and spoke in the person of Christ. This is clear from Peter’s sermon on the first Pentecost after Christ rose from the dead where Peter assures his listeners that, although David wrote the sixteenth Psalm, it was prophetic and spoke in the person Christ (Acts 2:25-31):

I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore, my heart is glad and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [Sheol/Hades]; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right there are pleasures for evermore. Ps. 16:8-11

Other Psalms in which David speaks in the person of Christ include Psalm 22:16-18:

They pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon vesture (cf. Matt. 27:35).

Psalm 41:9:

Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me (cf. John 13:18).

Indeed, the whole of Psalm 119, which is 176 verses long, although nominally written by David, appears in reality to be the person of Christ. The repeated reference to his enemies and petitions that God “quicken me” (Ps. 119:25, 149, 156, 159, 175) seem to have reference to Christ’s afflictions and his resurrection from the dead:

My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words…Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O LORD, according to thy lovingkindness. Ps. 119:139, 159

Since many of the Psalms are impressed with a prophetic dimension which speaks in the person of Christ, it is possible, if not probable, that the 139th Psalm foretells the incarnation:

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in the secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. Ps. 139:13-16

This should be compared with the prophecies of Isaiah, which specifically refer to Jesus in Mary’s womb:

Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb, from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me…And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb…Is it a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. Isa. 49:1, 2, 5, 6

Here we read of Christ being formed in his mother’s womb, equipped with a tongue like a sharp sword, himself a polished arrow to bring salvation to the ends of the earth. Read together, it is difficult not to see Christ in the 139th Psalm, which bespeaks God’s care and provision for Jesus while he was in a state of total human helplessness as a still unformed babe. To these must next be added Psalm 40:6, 7 where the Psalmist speaks in the person of Christ saying God had “prepared a body” for him in sacrifice for sin (LXX; cf. Heb. 10:5-10):

Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; a body hast thou prepared for me: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me.

The “body prepared” for Jesus mentioned in Psalm 40 was destined to be nailed to a cross in sacrifice for sin. However, Jesus did not lose faith and trust in God even in death, knowing that from the very womb God’s superintending providence had been with him and would redeem him from death and the grave. Hence, David prophetically causes Jesus while upon the cross to look back upon God’s care for him, even from the womb:

All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly. Ps. 22:7-10

These many references to Jesus and the womb of his mother argue that Psalm 139 provides a glimpse of the incarnation while as yet Christ was unformed in the womb of the virgin Mary. At the very least, Jesus’ common humanity means that, even if the 139th Psalm is not directly about Christ, it nevertheless expresses sentiments fully applicable to him, giving us pause to stop and wonder at the work of God in bringing the Savior into the world.

The Visible Form of Christ

Isaiah said God formed Jesus in his mother’s womb (Isa. 41:5). It may therefore be appropriate to pause momentarily and consider the visible appearance that form took.

Man is a worshiper of images; he adores that which is pleasing to the eye, particularly physical beauty. It is therefore not surprising that artists consistently portray Christ as physically beautiful and attractive. This is equally true of Mary who is consistently portrayed in forms that are physically pleasing. That Christ or Mary should have been of merely average appearance, or even unattractive or (Lord forbid) ugly, seems to us inconceivable. Doubtless, sin has defaced and marred the race, and it is difficult to think of the spotless Lamb of God as suffering from this aspect of the fall. However, although Jesus had no human father and was therefore free from the moral corruption and estrangement inherent in Adam’s race, Jesus nevertheless took on him the form of our fallenness and was made “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom. 8:3). That is to say, Jesus was just like you or I and suffered all the same complaints of our physicality, including those associated with our appearance.

Two groups of scriptures exist describing how Jesus looked. The first group describes Jesus as he appeared because of what he endured to ransom us from sin; they detail for us the gross disfigurement he suffered from scourging and crucifixion:

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd: and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.” Ps. 22:14-17

Thirst and dryness caused his tongue to cling to his jaws; gravity pulled at his body until strength to resist was gone. Hanging upon the cross, the joints of Jesus’ arms and shoulders suffered dislocation and his bones protruded from beneath his flesh; dogs licked his blood;[4] men stood and stared. Indeed, Isaiah says that scourging and crucifixion marred Jesus’ physical appearance to the point of wonder and astonishment, stopping even the mouths of kings:

As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men. So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider…But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isa. 52:14, 15; 53:5

The second group of scriptures describe Jesus as being of average to less-than-average appearance and attractiveness:

Who hath believed our report and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form or comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. Isa. 53:1, 2

Here we learn that Jesus had “no beauty” and no “comeliness;” there was nothing in his appearance that “we should desire him.” The perfect Lamb of God was, in would seem, unattractive to his fellow man! Certainly, the God who formed Christ in his mother’s womb, who “did see my substance, yet being unperfect,” could have made Jesus tall like king Saul, who was head and shoulders taller than all others (I Sam. 10:23); or might have made Jesus handsome like Absolom, David’s son, of whom it is written that “there was none to be so much praised for his beauty” (II Sam. 14:25). Yet, God in his wisdom chose otherwise. Indeed, it may be that Jesus’ unassuming appearance served to punctuate his harmlessness and innocence. Absolom’s beauty no doubt played a role in his gaining a dangerous following that cast the nation into civil war. Similarly, Saul’s physical stature doubtless helped persuade men to follow him into battle and helped establish him as king over Israel. In this light, the decision that Jesus be plain and unattractive in outward appearance makes perfect sense: Jesus was not destined to an earthly throne or kingdom and therefore had no need of the things usually helpful to those seeking earthly power. Had he possessed physical beauty it would likely have exposed him to greater suspicion and danger from the rulers who were already jealous of him and laid in wait catching at his words. It may also have hindered the spiritual nature of Christ’s mission, distracting men with his outward form rather than directing them to his words and the Spirit of God that dwelt within.

A final point that bears notice before moving on is that not only was Jesus physically plain and unattractive, it appears that he had a weak constitution and suffered recurring illness. Isaiah’s testimony in this regard is clear:

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. Isa. 53:4

Jerome’s Latin translation makes the point better:

Truly, he has borne our infirmities [Lat., languores], and carried our sorrows; and we thought him diseased [Lat., leprosum], stricken of God and afflicted.

Matthew affirms that this is Isaiah’s meaning when he renders the passage “Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses” (Matt. 8:17).

It is probably fair to say that terms like “smitten and afflicted” would normally be reserved for something more than an occasional cold or flu, but rather describe persons suffering frequent and recurring illness. This suggests that Jesus was like Timothy, whose weak constitution caused Paul to recommend the use of wine for his “often infirmities” (I Tim. 5:23). If so, Isaiah’s testimony sheds light upon a little discussed but interesting and important aspect of the incarnation.

Christ – Divine Heir of the Davidic Throne

If the 139th Psalm develops the theme of Jesus’ humanity, several other Psalms and passages develop the theme of Christ’s divinity, typically in the context as heir of David’s throne. The prophet Isaiah combines these themes in language that has found a permanent place in the pageantry of Christmas via Handel’s Messiah:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The Zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. Isa. 9:6, 7

The sign of “Immanuel,” which is translated “God with us” (Isa. 8:8, 10; Matt. 1:23), finds confirmation here in the divinity attributed to the messianic Prince. Although a son in his humanity, Christ is the mighty God and everlasting Father in his divinity. David also affirmed Christ’s divinity in Psalm 110:1:

The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

Jesus quoted this Psalm in a discussion with Pharisees, asking,

What think ye of Christ, whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in Spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? Matt. 22:41-46

Jesus was the son of David in his humanity (Luke 1:32). However, in his divinity he was LORD. He went to the cross as a man, but he reigns upon the throne of David as God. So, the prophet Daniel:

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, on like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. Dan. 7:13, 14

It is probably to this vision of Daniel that Stephen referred just prior to being stoned, when he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). Indeed, virtually all New Testament writers, beginning with Peter in Acts to John in Revelation, affirm that Psalm 110:1 was fulfilled at Christ’s ascension so that that there can be no question that Jesus has resumed his divinity and reigns over the world, providentially guiding history for the advancement of his gospel and kingdom and the salvation of mankind (Acts 2:33-35; Eph. 1:20; Heb. 1:3; 10:12; Rev. 2:27; 3:21).

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. I Tim. 3:16

Time and Eternity meet in Bethlehem Dec. 25th

If humanity and divinity were united in Christ, time and eternity met in Bethlehem with the Savior’s birth:

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Micah 5:2

Bethlehem means “house of bread,” perhaps in veiled prophecy of the nativity of him who is the “bread of life” (Jn. 6:48). It was anciently known as Ephrath (Gen. 35:16; 48:7; Ps. 132:6), and was the place where Rachel died and was buried (Gen. 35:19; 48:7); it was also where the story of Ruth took place, and was the home and the city of David (I Sam. 16:1, 4; Jn. 7:42). However, Bethlehem was not the home of Joseph or Mary. Luke informs us that the couple made their home instead in Nazareth of Galilee (Lk. 1:26; 2:39). According to Luke, it was in obedience to the decree of Caesar Augustus “that all the world be taxed” (or registered) that Joseph travelled to Bethlehem with Mary his espoused wife “being great with child” (Lk. 2:1-7). This registration was probably that associated with Augustus receiving the title of Pater Patriae in February of 2 B.C.[5] This would be consistent with Luke’s statement that Jesus was on the threshold of his thirtieth birthday when baptized in the fall A.D. 29, for someone born in 2 B.C. will turn 30 years old by December 31st A.D. 29 (Luke 2:1, 23), placing both the registration of Augustus and nativity of Christ in 2 B.C.

Bethlehem’s final mention is in connection with the Slaughter of the Innocents. Forty days after Jesus’ birth, the holy family travelled to Jerusalem where customary sacrifices were made for firstborn sons and Mary’s ritual cleansing (Luke 2:22-24; Lev. 12:2-6). The family then returned to Nazareth where they made their home (Luke 2:39). It would have been about this time that the magi arrived in Jerusalem, asking “Where is he that is born king of the Jews?” (Matt. 2:2). Herod, who was then still dwelling at Jerusalem, directed the magi to Bethlehem (Matt. 2:8). However, Matthew records that the star the magi had seen in the east reappeared and went before them till it came and stood over where the young child was (Matt. 2:9). Bethlehem is only about 5-10 miles from Jerusalem. Since Herod had directed them to Bethlehem in any event, the magi hardly required the star to lead them there. The better view, therefore, is that the star was divinely interposed by heaven to lead the magi to Nazareth where the holy family made its home and had recently returned following Jesus’ birth. Warned in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi returned home another way and Joseph escaped to Egypt with Mary and baby Jesus (Matt. 2:12, 13).

Herod now fell into his final illness and travelled to the mineral springs at Callirrhoe seeking a cure. When this proved unsuccessful, Herod returned to Jericho where he spent the final days of his life.[6] Shortly before his death, Herod executed his son, Antipater. From the pagan historian Macrobius, we learn that Slaughter of the Innocents occurred at the same time as the execution of Antipater.[7] Herod out-lived Antipater by only five days, dying shortly before Passover, April 8, 1 B.C. Noted scholar, Andrew Steinmann, estimates that the period of Herod’s final illness until Passover, 1 B.C. would be about 62 days.[8] If we add to this 43 days – the period following Jesus’ birth until the presentment of the Christ-child at the temple, plus three days for the holy family to travel home to Nazareth where the magi would have found them, we get 105 days. The arrival of the magi is the pin that joins these two periods together, for the magi arrived after presentment of Christ-child and the holy family returned home, but before Herod departed Jerusalem for Callirrhoe, providing the link between them. 105 days from Passover, April 8, 1 B.C. brings us precisely to December 25th, 2 B.C. A very happy coincidence indeed!

Thus did time and eternity meet in Bethlehem December 25th with the Savior’s birth, the Divine heir of David’s throne.



[1] Since the woman is collectively the covenant people of God, the prophecy of the virgin birth only indirectly points to the person of Mary.

[2] II Kng. 15:30 says this occurred in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah. However, as Jotham reigned only sixteen years (v. 33) and as Hosea began to reign in the twelfth year of Ahaz (II Kng. 16:1), the passage is apparently corrupt. “Jotham” probably refers to Ahaz by another name and “twelfth” has been changed to “twentieth.”

[3] Isa. 7:14 LXX - διὰ τοῦτο δώσει κύριος αὐτὸς ὑμῖν σημεῖον ἰδοὺ ἡ παρθένος ἐν γαστρὶ ἕξει καὶ τέξεται υἱόν καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Εμμανουηλ

[4] “Dogs” sometimes is used figuratively for evil-doers and wicked men (Isa. 56:10, 11); it is unclear which use is intended here.

[5] See generally, Jack Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology, Revised ed. (Hendrickson, 1998), pp. 302-306;

F.W. Farrar, The Gospel According to St. Luke, (Cambridge, 1882), pp. 62-64.

[6] Josephus, Antiquities, XVII, vi, 5

[7] Macrobius, Saturnalia, II, 11

[8] Andrew E. Steinmann, When Did Herod the Great Reign?, Novum Testamentum 51 (2009), pp. 1-29.

 

 

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