Appendix 1:  The Star of Bethlehem

 

 

Since it was the astrologers of Babylon who predicted Jesus’ birth, it must be possible to deduce the date of the Nativity astrologically. I try to do this from what Scripture tells us about the birth: (a) the Magi saw his Star “rising in the East”, (b) the circumstances of its rising signified the birth of the Messiah of the Jews, (c) after seeing the Star rise, the Magi set out toward Judea, (d) Christ was born near midnight with the Star directly overhead, (e) the Star led the Magi to Bethlehem, (f) after the birth, the Holy Family fled into Egypt until Herod’s death.

Starting with the last clue first, Herod died in 4 BC, so Jesus= birth was before that. For the Star to have remained in about the same place in the sky throughout the several months it would have taken the Magi to get from Babylon to Judea rules out theory that it was a comet. It also rules out any theory involving the inner planets, since they likewise move too quickly. The two slowest-moving planets which were known to the ancients were Jupiter and Saturn. They conjoined three times in the year 7 BC, forming what would have appeared to be a single very bright star.


From Babylon, this Star would have first been seen rising in the East in late May, 7 BC, just before the rising of Hamal, the brightest star in the constellation Aries the Ram.  Located in head of the celestial Ram, Hamal was known to the ancient Babylonians as the “Ram=s Horn”.  Since the sounding of the ram=s horn trumpet, or shofar, was associated with the anticipated coming of the liberator of the children of Israel, the Babylonian astrologers would have interpreted the Star=s proximity to Hamal as a sign of the Messiah=s advent.  Furthermore, the azimuth of the Star’s setting would have pointed from Babylon directly to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, thus indicating the place of his birth.

In those days a traveler from Babylon would have gone to Judea by way of Damascus, from whence the Magi would have observed the second conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn occurring at the sky’s Meridian on October 1st, 7 BC, just before midnight. This they would have interpreted as a sign of the Messiah’s birth, and so they traveled on to Jerusalem to make inquiries, timing their arrival to correspond to the third, and last conjunction of December 5th, 7 BC, when they would have found the Star culminating above Bethlehem at nightfall.

Another astrological sign the Magi would have noted was the fact that the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn at Jesus’ birth on October 1st, 7 BC, was directly in opposition to the constellation Coma Berenice, associated with the mythical theme of divine self‑sacrifice and later identified with Veronica’s veil.

By an astrological process known as “rectification”, I have determined the exact time of Christ=s birth to be 10:44:35 p.m., Bethlehem local time, and have used this data to generate his horoscope chart (Figure 3).