The First Christmas Gifts, Part 3

So we’ve narrowed down the most likely candidates for the Christmas Star down to planetary conjunctions or planetary events in the sky. In particular, the planet Jupiter. The verses that determined how long the series of celestial events had to happen are Matthew 2: 7

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

and Matthew 2: 16

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.

The series of events had to last about two years or less “according to the time the star appeared.” Halley’s Comet did appear in 11 BCE, but it would not reappear about two years later to do this.

Matthew 2: 9, 10

When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

Halley’s Comet or any other comet would come and go within the same year and would not be expected to reappear until it completes the next orbit around the sun. Because a comet cannot meet the requirement for a sustained and repetitive appearance for more than one year.

Meteors are also ruled out for the same reason. In fact they are even more fleeting than comets. Most of them are short, quick flashes in the sky. Some streak across the sky close enough to the surface to get attention day or night. And a few cause damage, maybe even enough to break windows, level forests, or be as serious as an extinction event. But none will last more than a single day or can be identified as the same “star” on any more than a single occasion.

The last event we will eliminate is the nova or supernova event. There are no known recorded supernova events before 185 CE so the supernova is automatically eliminated as a possibility for the Christmas star. There is however a recorded nova event in March of 5 BC. It was recorded by the Chinese in the constellation Aquilla and was visible for 70 days. Even if we assume that this event was the star of Bethlehem and a marker for the birth of Christ, it is too early in the year to be called a Christmas star.

So here are the qualifications we are looking for.

  1. It must be a significant astronomical event that draws attention to the tribe of Judah.
  2. If it does not point to Judah, it must at least point to Israel.
  3. It must hold some significance to point to a birth of a king.
  4. It must be a long term event lasting longer than a few days up to nearly two years.
  5. It must visible over Bethlehem when viewed from Jerusalem during December.
  6. It must be significant as the Bethlehem star and a Christmas star, preferably seen December 24/25.

In order to draw attention to the tribe of Judah, this must be an event that happens in the constellation of Leo. The Biblical reason for this association comes from Genesis 49: 9.

“Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?”

Israel was meant to be a redeemer nation just as Christ is the redeemer for all mankind. In order to draw attention to the nation of Israel, this must be an event that happens in the constellation of Pisces. Just as the sign of the fish pointed to the redeemer, Jesus Christ. However, the sign of the fish for Christ came about as a result of Roman persecution to mark out Christian fellowships and believers. But for the sake of honest consideration of traditionally accepted timelines, we will also explore the celestial signs related to Pisces. Since these are the first set of events, we will start with them.

From May of 7 BCE to December of 7 BCE there were three great conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn in Pisces. These three were a triple conjunction that happens once every 140 years. But of eight recorded celestial events spanning four years time, only the third conjunction of December 5, 7 BCE could qualify as both a Bethlehem Star and Christmas Star. It is the only event in this series that happened in the month of December. But if the Magi left for Jerusalem in May and arrived in December, wouldn’t they have reported to Herod that the time of the rising of the star in the east was during this same year? There would have to be another recorded star sign in December of 6 BCE to fit the two year time frame set in Matthew. No matter how brilliant the December 5th conjunction may have been, it simply happened too soon in this series to qualify as the Christmas star. The weight of authority for this series to be the marker for the birth of our savior is tradition and astrology. Until the mid eighteenth century, the majority of church experts accepted this second set of events instead. So let’s consider the second set of celestial signs that began in 3 BCE.

On the morning of August 1, 3 BCE just before the sun appeared, Jupiter (the king planet) rose above the horizon making Jupiter visible again. This is the heliacal rising and is noted in the Bible with the words “in the east” in Matthew 2: 2. Strong’s Concordance also translate these words, “in the rising.” This is the first time in the year that Jupiter was again visible, being hidden by the brilliance of the sun until then. This is usually a normal and unremarkable event until August 12. Jupiter and Venus were so close together, they appeared to be a single “bright and morning star” appearing in Cancer. This would have attracted the attention of the Magi to continue to observe what Jupiter would do next. Only a few years before, Jupiter and Saturn did a triple conjunction so this conjunction with Venus would alert the Magi to watch what Jupiter would continue to do in the next few months following this particular rising.

On August 12, 3 BCE Jupiter, (the King planet) passed Regulus, (the King star) in the constellation Leo, (representative of Judah). This conjunction is still unremarkable since Jupiter continued on its normal path, but the Magi were watching. Less than a month later on September 11, 3 BCE the sign of Revelation 12: 1 – 5 happened in the sky over Jerusalem.

“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: (This is the new moon sign happening in Virgo.)

And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. (The Eta-Draconid meteor shower was happening during this same time from the September 9 to 12.)

And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.”

All of this was unknown to anyone but God at that time, it remained hidden until John wrote the book of Revelation many years later. While we can look back now and see how this pattern appeared in the sky, nobody would have noticed anything different. However, this day in the Jewish calendar was also Tishri 1 and the Day of Trumpets. It was a day when trumpets would be blown all day long signifying the beginning of a new year, the announcement of the birth of a king, and/or the coronation of a king. Not even the Magi would have known about this pattern or the religious significance of Tishri 1 so they would only have continued to watch Jupiter.

On December 1, Jupiter began its yearly retrograde movement and would do a triple conjunction with Regulus for the first time in about eighty-three years. The second conjunction happened on February 17, 2 BCE and the third on May 8, 2 BCE. This was in affect a once in a lifetime event for the Magi just like the triple conjunction with Saturn in Pisces a few years earlier. Putting both of these signs together, the birth of a king of Israel was announced by the Triple Great Conjunctions followed by the birth of a king of Judah being announced by the Triple Conjunction of Jupiter and Regulus in Leo. Jesus was initially sent to the twelve tribes of Israel.

On June 17, 2 BCE Jupiter and Venus met again and even overlapped making a truly spectacular display. “This conjunction occurred during the evening and would have appeared as one very bright star.” ( The king star and the bright and morning star became a single star twice within a single year’s time. Seen from Mesopotamia, this conjunction would be on the Western horizon in the direction of Judea. Taken altogether, this would be enough information in the stars for the Magi to make the caravan journey to Jerusalem, the capital of Judea, and pay homage to the newborn king.

During their journey westward, they would be treated to another display in the sky. On August 27, 2 BCE Jupiter and Mars converged to become a single star in Leo. At the same time, Venus and Mercury also converged in Leo. This would only reinforce the importance of the journey to these men and encourage them to continue.

Now finally, we can go back to the narrative in Matthew chapter 2: 1 to 11.

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

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.” (They were absolutely certain that the King of the Jews was born, but they did not know the prophecy that foretold where this King would be born so they simply went to the capital of Judea, Jerusalem.)

“When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.” (Herod wanted to know how long were they watching this star. They Magi would have recounted the events in the sky beginning with the Heliacal rising of Jupiter on August 1 in the previous year.)

“And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.”

We really don’t know what month they arrived in Jerusalem up to this point. But God provided another spectacular display for them to enjoy. On the night of December 24, 2 BCE, at just about midnight for December 25, 2 BCE, Jupiter began to go retrograde and would appear to stand over the same point in the sky for an extended period of time. Looking south from Jerusalem, the point in the sky where Jupiter stood was directly over Bethlehem. Using Judean dating methods, this evening would December 25 from sunset on December 24.

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”

This is the first Christmas of all time. Gentile Magi traveled from Mesopotamia to Judea to search out King of the Jews and worshiped Jesus by presenting gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Jesus was the child that received the first Christmas gifts of all time and this is the Biblical precedent making not only December 25 the proper time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but also to give gifts of love to those we love.

God set the precedent by giving the gift of His only begotten son. Jesus was not born on Christmas day. But the Magi did give Jesus gifts on December 25, Christmas Day, of 2 BCE. The day and time of Jesus birth still causes confusion and many reasons can be cited for every different suggestion. But the point of this message is not when Jesus was born, but that Jesus was born. The Magi did not come to celebrate Jesus on the day of his birth, they were already certain that He was born before they ever arrived in Jerusalem. They came to pay homage and worship the King of the Jews by bearing gifts.

I trust and pray that you also had a wonderful time with your family and friends this Christmas season. Whether you choose to call it Kwanzaa, Hannukah, or Christmas, I hope that you had a great time sharing gifts and love with one another.

Merry Christmas.

Published by Power House Institute

I am a retired full time power plant mechanic. I am also a Radical Christian follower of God with 48 years of volunteer ministry service and training. I hold a degree as an Associate of Biblical Theology, and a Bachelor of Practical Ministry. I have volunteer experience as an Evangelist, property manager, set builder, stage electrician, musician, singer, conference security, food service distribution manager, and a former associate pastor for New Revelation Christian Development Center in Smyrna, TN. I am the founder of Power House Institute and Ministry and the author of Rules for Radical Christians: A Practical Primer for Defeating Radical Liberals at Their Own Game. I believe every born again Christian has the ability interact with God Almighty by way of His Holy Spirit and this is Radical Christianity. It is my mission to encourage and empower spiritual greatness in every Christian believer, no matter which brand of Christianity they choose to follow. By doing so, change the world around us, and the culture we live within. I believe Radical Christians are part of every Christian church in the world. If we want to restore morality, Radical Christians are the only answer for recovery. I want my book and this blog become a powerful and winning influence against Atheist liberalism. We can restore our culture through the combined power and influence of God at work in the lives of Radical Christians everywhere.

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