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Deepertruth: Politics and Religion during the time of that first Christmas

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Politics and religion have a way to help keep time and history, a great example of this is the first Christmas when Jesus was born December 25, 2 B.C.  

Traditionally, it has been believed that King Herod had died sometime in the Spring of either 5 or 4 B.C. which is why some thought Christ was born before this time as Scripture is clear that Herod died after Jesus was born.  Matthew 2:13-19 tells the story how the Holy Family escaped to Egypt, Herod's order to massacre the infant boys 2 years and younger, and finally his death.

The Jewish Historian Josephus wrote that Herod died following an eclipse that some pointed to one such known eclipse that took place on March 4 B.C.  (Antiquities 17. 6-8).  Josephus does not give any dates, just the event of an eclipse so historians commonly believed the March eclipse 4 B.C. to satisfy the historical record.

Astronomers had offered possible dates when eclipses took place before the Jewish Passover.  In 5 B.C. one took place on March 23 just 29 days before Passover.  In 4 B.C., another eclipse took place on March 13, 29 days before Passover.  The next possible eclipse is January 10, 1 B.C. which was 12 1/2 weeks before Passover.

In his writing, Josephus gives a 12 week separation between the eclipse and Passover which fits perfectly with the January 10, 1 B.C. eclipse.  January 10 would be in the middle of winter time in which Herod went to Jericho for comfort as he was suffering of chronic kidney disease, complicated by a particularly nasty case of gangrene.

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