The 'star' of Bethlehem was not a star as it is known today
Q. What was the "star" of Bethlehem?
A. Many people have speculated as to what this really was.
Some say it was a comet, some say a star in conjunction with other stars making it look brighter and on it goes.
People go back in history and find when these things could have occured and come up with all sorts of dates for the birth of Yeshua.
Actually, the whole thing is quite simple to explain and the Bible is clear about the the time of year of the birth of Yeshua, and all that is unrelated to the star.
So, let’s deal with the star first and then discuss the time of year when he was born and the sequence of events that night.
The other possibility about the star is that it was not a "star" as we know it at all.
The word can be translated as a star but it can mean "radiance" (Alfred Edersheim) and that word in Hebrew is "kivod" and can also mean glory.
We know from Num 24.17 that a star would be associated with the birth of Messiah and so it was, but what exactly was it.
For one thing, this was not a star as it is known today because this did not act like one and it does not fit the context.
For instance, it was seen by the magi only. Herod knew nothing about it (Matt 2.7), it moved and stopped and also reappeared to the magi after their talk with Herod.
So, this was no star as we know it. It was a special manifestation of the "kivod (glory)of God and it appeared to the magi and led them to Yeshua. This wasa not unknown in the Scriptures.
The Kivod appeared to the children of Israel in the wilderness and led them to the promised land (Ex 13.21), so this was something that was done before.
I can’t let this explanation go without covering how all this fits into the birth of Yeshua. This is easy to document and can be done by establishing several things.
First, when did Gabriel appear to Zechariah, when did Mary conceive and when did King Herod die.
We know Zechariah belonged to the priestly course of Abijah, and they served in the Temple about 10 weeks into the religious year which was approximatly late Sivan, close to our June.
Elizabeth was in her sixth month ( Lk 1.26-33) when Gabriel appeared to Mary.
This would have put the conception around late Kislev, about the time of Chanukah. Counting ahead nine months you come to the feast of Sukkot, usually our September/October and that is an eight day festival and that was when Yeshua was born.
This can also be established by finding out when Herod died. The Jewish historian Josephus says that Herod committed an act of impiety on the priesthood and became very sick.
This was March, 4 B.C. This lasted several months and he finally died in September, 4 B.C. This is important because Yeshua was already born and had fled to Egypt and he did not come back till Herod was dead. We know Yeshua was presented in the Temple 40 days after his birth (Lk 2.22) so Herod had to be dead by then.
So, Yeshua was born in the fall of 4 B.C. probably during the feast of Sukkot, fled to Egypt right after his birth. A few weeks later Herod dies and Joseph comes to Jerusalem and the ritual of purification is done (40 days after birth of a boy Num 12.1-8). Next week I will give a quick overview of the birth of Yeshua and the likely sequence of events.