Luke 2 is correct about birth of Jesus Christ

census

We saw earlier that Matthew 2 is wrong, yet the strange stories of God using astrologers, signs not mentioned by God, out-of-context prophecies and fulfillment of prophecies not from God are indeed popular among Christians today. If you haven’t read how Matthew 2 is wrong, I recommend reading it fully. Here is a quick recap.

  • Error in Hos 11:1-2: Out of Egypt I called My son and they sacrificed to the Baals, and burned incense to carved images.
    • The prophecy is about how the children of Jacob was called out of Egypt, but they scarified to Baal and burned incense to carved images. This is by no means a reference to Jesus Christ. Nor did He went to Egypt anytime for God is against it (Isa 30:1-3).
  • Error in Jer 31:15-16: Rachel weeping for her children in Ramah, an inheritance of Benjamin have nothing to do with Leah’s son, Judah’s inheritance of Bethlehem.
    • The prophecy is wrongly attributed.
  • No Prophecy about Christ being a Nazarene.

Here, we will see how Luke 2 is correct.

Luke 2:1-7 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

There are major difficulties for many in accepting Luke’s account:

  1. the census in fact took place in AD 6, ten years after Herod’s death in 4 BCE;
  2. no Roman census required people to travel from their own homes to those of distant ancestors;
  3. the census of Judea would not have affected Joseph and his family, living in Galilee;

Addressing these issues are important to understand which account is correct because, as we saw in Matthew 2, both cannot be correct.

Census in 6 AD

Luke 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.

Based on historical records, king Herod died in 4 BC and the Judea census by the Romans took place in 6 AD. Luke did not say that Jesus was born during the same time as in the days of Herod, king of Judea. What he actually said relating the days of Herod was the prophecy of the birth of John the baptist. There is nothing stopping from the fulfillment of the prophecy 10 years later, just as God prophesied to Abraham regarding Isaac 25 years earlier.

Census Requirement in the Law

The focus on Luke’s account on the Roman census of Judea misses out some key requirements of the law given by God for census.

Exod 30:12-16 “When you take the census of the children of Israel for their number, then every man shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD, when you number them, that there may be no plague among them when you number them. This is what everyone among those who are numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (a shekel is twenty gerahs). The half-shekel shall be an offering to the LORD. Everyone included among those who are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering to the LORD. The rich shall not give more and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when you give an offering to the LORD, to make atonement for yourselves. And you shall take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shall appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of meeting, that it may be a memorial for the children of Israel before the LORD, to make atonement for yourselves.”

Hence, Mary and Joseph must go to Jerusalem Temple to offer a shekel or half-a-shekel (depending on Mary’s age) which is the atonement money.

Census Procedure in the Law

Num 1:2 “Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, every male individually

Apart from offering the atonement money in the Temple, the census procedure given by God to Moses in the law is different from the Roman requirement of census. The Jews cannot simply take a census just because the Romans wanted it for tax purposes but do it as instructed by God through Moses in the law.

Census in the law requires to count as follows:

  • by their families
  • by their father’s house

Num 1:49 “Only the tribe of Levi you shall not number, nor take a census of them among the children of Israel;

As a census requirement of the law, it is important to note that the Levites  must not be numbered in census.

In 6 CE, Cyrenius (also called Quirinius), the Roman governor of Syria, had to take the census of the Jews in Israel. Judas the Galilean and Zadok the Priest actively opposed this and convinced many others to join their cause. (Ref: Wiki).

As we see, Judas and Zaddok was revolting for right reasons. What is generally overlooked, yet mentioned clearly in the law and what every Jew must follow is that, census must never include the tribe of Levites but Romans require it and least worried about law of Moses.

Conclusion

Luke chapter 2 is correct about Quirinius census in 6 AD. The Jews not only had to offer atonement money in the Temple, but also must go to their father’s house for the census procedure as in the law is by their families and their father’s house. Hence, Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem is not a Roman requirement of census but a requirement from the law of Moses.

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Pierre Christian Ulrich Singer
1 month ago

I comment the most important thing – a VERY common misconception – first, before I come to Matthew and the rest regarding Luke which is in relation to Luke. Luke 2v2 reads: hauté (this) apographé (registration) próté (before/first) egeneto (happened) hégemoneuontos (ruling) tés Syrias (Syria) Kyréniou (Quirinius). Does “This FIRST registration happened … Quirinius ruling Syria” makes any sense? What about the other use of proté => “This registration happened BEFORE Quirinius ruling Syria”? This makes absolutely sense! And WHY? The registration for the year of birth of Jesus was called Lk 2v1 => apographesthai (to register) pasan (all) tén (the) oikoumenén (world). This was not just a simply tax collection in Judea. It was a Roman census of ALL of the Roman Empire. But the tax collection of 6 CE JUST applied to Judea. But it was better remembered, because Herod Archelaus was so incompetent as a ruler, it came to riots and the Romans desposed him, annexed Judea and created the Tetrarchate of some vasalls. Now to Matthew: Matthew is trying to recreate the story of the Jews. In his fatherline Jacob is the father of Joseph (like Jacob/Israel was of Joseph). Joseph has dreams of an angel (1st to take Mary as a wife despite she´s pregnant without Josephs interaction, 2nd to flee to Egypt). Also the Joseph sold to Egypt by his brethren had prophetic dreams. Like the old Joseph the new Joseph went to Egypt. Like in Moses times there was a claimed slaughter of male newborns. The saved one – Moses or Jesus – shall became a prophet. But the main thing is, that Herod has to assemble the leaders of Israel to KNOW where the Messiah shall be born. This is a well known fact (see John 7v42). So we have to be VERY careful with Matthew. What claims Luke: Luke speaks in 1v5 “There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, …” First: There was NO King of Judaea (in Koiné original: Héródou basileós tés Ioudaias). Judea became Roman occupied 63 BCE and Herod was claimed “King OF the Jews” by the Roman Senate because the had claims on the land. Luke calls Antipas and Agrippa I als “Herod”, so this could apply also to Herod Archelaus (4 BCE to 6 CE). But the main problem is, that Friday, April 7th, 30 CE is the ONLY possible passover date to meet with Sunday being the third day of the crucifixion (compare Luke 24v1 & 24v21 and 13v32). If Jesus ministry was one year – to which I agree – his baptism should be around Early 29 CE or End of 28 CE. The time which Tiberius became Roman Emperor was End 14 CE. So the 15th year of Tiberius was 28/29 CE, dependant on which it was counted inclusively or exclusively. This fits perfect! So Jesus was at the time of his Baptism “as 30 years old”. This could mean 29 oder 31. So the birth should occured 3 or 2 BCE as mentioned by most of the Oldest Church Fathers. Indeed we have in the year 3 and 2 BCE an astronomical phaenomenon which could have inspired Matthew. Because in Job 38v31/32 God is the inventor of the “zodiacs” and the star arrangements. They shall be signs for TIMES and SEASONS (Gen 1v14). The “Magis” of Matthew 1v1 were not just “Magicians” or “Fortunetellers”! The “Magi” were as the Levites the Priest Tribes of the Persians. And the Persians not just ruled a VERY small piece of land, but ruled from the shorres of Greece, to Egypt, over Iraq, Persia, Afghanistan and Pakistan AND gave the order, that the Jews may return to the Jewish lands. The Persians spoke an Indogermanic language like the upper class of India and most parts of Europe (today also the Americas and Australia). They were NOT semitic like modern Arabs and partly Iranians. They believed in one god maybe 500 years before the Jews. They understood the signs of the sky and KNEW that the birth of this King was not an ordinary event but an event that changed life for ALL of humankind and not just the Jews. The “miracle” in the sky was, that Jupiter and Venus (the two brightest lights in the sky beside sun and moon) came so close together, that they could not be seperated, combined their light to become a very bright star. And this happened excactly on the evening of June 17th, 2 BCE over the skys of the Middle East. This fits to the evening time mentioned in Luke 2. Also in this year, Octavian August was claimed “Pater Patriae” (Father of the Fatherland) in February – the very last title, he had not obtained from his uncle respecitvely adoptive father, the to a “God” declared Gaius Julius Caesar. Why not using this time of the peak of power to check the Empires population? For me this all fits perfectly and you´ll find NOW religion, not the Jewish, not the Muslim, not the Buddhist, not the Hindu or any else religion that can count it´s roots SO accurate as the bible based Christianity can! Amen!