The Catholic Defender: Does Scripture hold a clue to December 25 as the Lord's birth?
Is there a biblical basis for December 25th as the Birthday of Jesus Christ?
The bible certainly points to Jesus from before and after the events that took place during the time of Jesus birth.
The bible does give very important detail, despite the belief of those who think otherwise.
Here are some thoughts to consider:
Luke 1:5 states, "In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter the Temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense."
Where and what were these divisions of priests who served the Temple sacrifices for the people? The foundation of the divisions were established by King David in 1 Chronicles 28:11-21, and 1 Chronicles 24 gives the specific divisions. Abijah was listed as number eight in the rotation (1 Chronicles 24:10) which happens to be the division that Zechariah is attached to.
The rotation began with the beginning of the Jewish year with Abijah serving the 8th week and then the 32 week of the year.
On the large feast days, all the priests would fall in to support the Temple worship, there were three of them.
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, celebrate the Jewish New Year and the day of atonement. After those two holidays the next best known is Hanukkah. Through these divisions, this covered the 51 weeks of the Jewish Calendar.
This rotation was suddenly interrupted on the 9th of Av, 586 B.C. (Tish'a B' Av) when king Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Jewish people and enslaved them taking them to Babylon. This was known as the Babylonian Captivity. The Temple was destroyed and the sacrifice ended. The 9th of Av became a day of fast as it commemorated the horror of slavery and captivity.
Once the Jewish people were allowed to go back to their homeland, according to Nehemiah 12:44-47 the priesthood was reconstituted and the sacrifice and the Temple worship resumed. This did not begin at the beginning of the Jewish new year, but they resumed the rotation beginning on the 9th of Av (3:00 P.M. at the time of sacrifice) when their worship was interrupted.
In 70 A.D., the Temple worship was still in effect when again, the Jewish sacrifice was interrupted on the 9th of Av at 3:00 P.M., the time of the sacrifice. BTW, this was also the time that Jesus dies on the cross, the 3:00 hour.
The Temple was destroyed on the same day at the same time. Going back a generation before the Roman destruction of the Temple, Zechariah was serving their second (week 32) duty between October 2 through the 9th commencing the Day of Atonement- Yom Kippor. This was the busiest Temple day of the Temple year. Luke 1:10 states, "And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense."
With this event, Elizabeth became pregnant. Early October, we are about 9 months later? June? John the Baptist birthday is June 25.
The rest of this is very easy to ascertain as we look at Luke 1:26-35:
"In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end." And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?" And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.
From this text, St. Elizabeth is in her six months of pregnancy when the Virgin Mary conceived Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. Since Elizabeth was six months pregnant (beginning early October -Yom Kippor) at this time, we know that the Virgin Mary conceived in late March or early April.
Add 9 months to this time and there you have it, late December!
When you add the constant tradition of the Saints, the Catholic Church stands on solid ground holding December 25th as the authentic birthday of Jesus. But there is still a lot more evidence that gives credibility to the Catholic faith.