The Course of Abija

How many of you have heard of the course of Abija (Abijah)?  Did you know it is one of the only ways to date the birth of Jesus in the Bible?   95% of Americans will celebrate the birth of Christ this year, so I thought some might be interested in the Biblical case for the timing of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Most are familiar with story of the birth of Christ from Luke 2.  But it is Luke 1 that provides the means by which the timing of the birth of Jesus can be determined.   In Luke 1 we have the story of Zacharias, the priest, and his wife, Elisabeth.  Zacharias and Elisabeth were well on in years and without children.  As it is told in Luke 1, Zacharias was performing his duty in the temple when the angel appeared and told him they would have a son and to call his name John.  Needless to say Zacharias was somewhat incredulous considering their age.  As proof of his message the angel told Zacharias he would be unable to speak until the day the message was fulfilled.

The passage goes on to say that Elisabeth conceived after Zacharias’ service ended.  Then 6 months later Mary, the mother of Jesus, conceived.   Zacharias performed his priestly service during the course of Abijah which fell during the latter part of the 4th month.  From this it is a simple matter to determine the general time of the birth of Jesus.  The chart below gives the priestly courses in relation to the conception of Elisabeth and Mary.

Luke 1:35-37  35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.  36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.  37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

(Click to enlarge picture)

The birth of Jesus fell during the 7th month of the Biblical calendar which is our September/October.   It is during the 7th month that the Biblical holy day of Succoth is celebrated.  The term Succoth comes from the Hebrew word “cukkah” which literally means booth or tabernacle.  The Jewish people were commanded to dwell in booths during the 8 days of this feast.  Succoth is one of the Biblical holydays which all adult males were commanded to observe in Jerusalem.  This is likely the reason the only lodgings which Mary and Joseph found were in a stable.

Further confirmation of the evidence of Luke 1 is found in Luke 2.  The shepherds were still in the fields keeping watch over their flocks when the angles announced the birth of Christ.  This places the birth of Jesus sometime between the spring and fall. It was not common practice in Israel to stay in the fields with the sheep during the winter months.

John 1:14 makes a possible allusion to the birth of Jesus during the feast of Succoth.

John 1:14   14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

The “Word” (Jesus) “was made flesh” (conceived) “and dwelt” (skenoo – from the Greek meaning to dwell or fix ones tabernacle.)

Now look at the priestly courses again.  Jesus “dwelt” with man at his birth during the 13th and 14th priestly courses.  The names of these courses were Huppah (Canopy) and Jeshebeab (dwelling of the father). Pretty neat if you ask me!  Now take a look again at my blog post A New Testamen;t Cipher,  note especially the missing names and their arrangement in the list.  Matthew’s lineage of Jesus was intentional wasn’t it?   The 13th Enumeration is the key!

 Isaiah 7:14 14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Matthew 1:23  Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Authors Note: The chart above reflects a priestly course service of two continuous weeks. A good argument can be made that the priestly service was one week in length twice a year. Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to write an updated article on the subject comparing the different possibilities and the strength and weaknesses of each. WS

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Colossians 1:19   19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

1 Chronicles 24:1-19  Now these are the divisions of the sons of Aaron. The sons of Aaron; Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.  2 But Nadab and Abihu died before their father, and had no children: therefore Eleazar and Ithamar executed the priest’s office.  3 And David distributed them, both Zadok of the sons of Eleazar, and Ahimelech of the sons of Ithamar, according to their offices in their service.  4 And there were more chief men found of the sons of Eleazar than of the sons of Ithamar; and thus were they divided. Among the sons of Eleazar there were sixteen chief men of the house of their fathers, and eight among the sons of Ithamar according to the house of their fathers.  5 Thus were they divided by lot, one sort with another; for the governors of the sanctuary, and governors of the house of God, were of the sons of Eleazar, and of the sons of Ithamar.  6 And Shemaiah the son of Nethaneel the scribe, one of the Levites, wrote them before the king, and the princes, and Zadok the priest, and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, and before the chief of the fathers of the priests and Levites: one principal household being taken for Eleazar, and one taken for Ithamar.  7 Now the first lot came forth to Jehoiarib, the second to Jedaiah,  8 The third to Harim, the fourth to Seorim,  9 The fifth to Malchijah, the sixth to Mijamin,  10 The seventh to Hakkoz, the eighth to Abijah,  11 The ninth to Jeshua, the tenth to Shecaniah,  12 The eleventh to Eliashib, the twelfth to Jakim,  13 The thirteenth to Huppah, the fourteenth to Jeshebeab,  14 The fifteenth to Bilgah, the sixteenth to Immer,  15 The seventeenth to Hezir, the eighteenth to Aphses,  16 The nineteenth to Pethahiah, the twentieth to Jehezekel,  17 The one and twentieth to Jachin, the two and twentieth to Gamul,  18 The three and twentieth to Delaiah, the four and twentieth to Maaziah.  19 These were the orderings of them in their service to come into the house of YHWH, according to their manner, under Aaron their father, as YHWH God of Israel had commanded him.

1 Chronicles 27:1-15 Now the children of Israel after their number, to wit, the chief fathers and captains of thousands and hundreds, and their officers that served the king in any matter of the courses, which came in and went out month by month throughout all the months of the year, of every course were twenty and four thousand.  2 Over the first course for the first month was Jashobeam the son of Zabdiel: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.  3 Of the children of Perez was the chief of all the captains of the host for the first month.  4 And over the course of the second month was Dodai an Ahohite, and of his course was Mikloth also the ruler: in his course likewise were twenty and four thousand.  5 The third captain of the host for the third month was Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, a chief priest: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.  6 This is that Benaiah, who was mighty among the thirty, and above the thirty: and in his course was Ammizabad his son.  7 The fourth captain for the fourth month was Asahel the brother of Joab, and Zebadiah his son after him: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.  8 The fifth captain for the fifth month was Shamhuth the Izrahite: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.  9 The sixth captain for the sixth month was Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.  10 The seventh captain for the seventh month was Helez the Pelonite, of the children of Ephraim: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.  11 The eighth captain for the eighth month was Sibbecai the Hushathite, of the Zarhites: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.  12 The ninth captain for the ninth month was Abiezer the Anetothite, of the Benjamites: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.  13 The tenth captain for the tenth month was Maharai the Netophathite, of the Zarhites: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.  14 The eleventh captain for the eleventh month was Benaiah the Pirathonite, of the children of Ephraim: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.  15 The twelfth captain for the twelfth month was Heldai the Netophathite, of Othniel: and in his course were twenty and four thousand.

1 Kings 4:7 7 And Solomon had twelve officers over all Israel, which provided victuals for the king and his household: each man his month in a year made provision.

 

 

37 thoughts on “The Course of Abija

  1. Carole A Reynolds

    Saw this on facebook page and thought I’d aso;I have a terminal illness and would like to know the famiily ‘secret’. I believe in Samuel ( think..my illness makes me forget a lot).
    There is a genealogy and one part says (a name, don’t remember) son of Agee.
    That is the only mention of the name Agee in any scriptures.
    Before I pass I’d like to know more than I do. I hope you still read and answers these? I don’t even know who first found the name as it is there and each generaton is told, but no one knows who or why.

    Reply
    1. William Struse Post author

      Good Morning Carole,

      Sorry to hear about your illness. Here is what I found regarding “son of Agee”.

      Regards,
      William Struse

      2 Samuel 23:11 11 And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentiles: and the people fled from the Philistines.

      0089 ‘Age’ {aw-gay’}
      Meaning: Agee = “I shall increase” 1) father of a warrior of David
      Origin: of uncertain derivation, compare with 090;; n pr m
      Usage: AV – Agee 1; 1

      8048 hM’v; Shammah {sham-maw’}
      Meaning: Shammah = “astonishment” 1) son of Reuel, grandson of Esau, and a chief of Edom 2) the 3rd son of Jesse and a brother of David 3) son of Agee the Hararite and one of the 30 of David’s mighty warriors 4) the Harodite, one of the 30 of David’s mighty warriors 5) another Hararite, one of the 30 of David’s mighty warriors
      Origin: the same as 08047;; n pr m
      Usage: AV – Shammah 8; 8

      Reply
  2. craig wheatley

    Hi Carole. So sorry to hear of your “terminal disease” I hope that you have not given up on God. The Bible says in 1Peter2v24 “that you WERE healed by Jesus’ stripes” That makes your healing a FINISHED WORK in Jesus name. The only thing that God requires of you is to BELIEVE. I don’t know your situation, but there is a Living God who not only knows your situation, but He knows “the very hairs on your head are numbered” He loves you and cares about you, and is more than able to make you completely whole. May God richly bless you and grant you your healing, in Jesus name. Amen. Ps.”I AM THE LORD THAT HEALETH ALL THY DISEASES”

    Reply
  3. Joseph

    Hi, Thank you for sharing this. This is really neat. My question is regarding the leap years. What would the priest course be for the thirteenth month of a leap year? Where could one find such information? Thanks again.

    Reply
  4. William Struse

    Hi Joseph,

    Sorry it took so long to reply. I don’t have an answer for you on that. There may be some Talmudic tradition regarding priestly service during the 13th month but I am not aware of any Biblical explanation.

    Warm Regards,
    William Struse

    Reply
    1. Joseph

      Thank you. With the current Jewish calendar system, 5BC (Julian) is a leap year where Veadar month follows Adar. Starting from Shevat 1st 5BC to count 280 days (typical pregnancy duration), it arrives exactly on Tishri 15, 4BC. Just thought I should share…

      Reply
      1. William Struse Post author

        Hi Joseph,

        Thank you for that sharing. I never calculated it exactly. One of those loose ends I’ve been meaning to work on but haven’t got around to yet. Pretty exciting information.

        Warm Regards,
        William Struse

        Reply
  5. Ava

    Just a little difference of opinion, but I like the way you think. :) I believe He would have been born during the Feast of Trumpets. His circumcision would have fulfilled the Feast of Atonement. His dwelling with us, the Feast of Tabernacles. Now, have you determined the year? LOL When I first started researching this, there was a general consensus that Herod’s death took place in (April?) 2 B.C. which would have put the birth of Christ prior to this. Now, though, when you go to research, there’s a whole bunch of arguing over when he died.

    If Jesus followed with tradition, He wouldn’t have started His ministry until He reached 30. Passover, 32 A.D. seems to be pretty commonly accepted as His death on the cross. His ministry spanned 3 1/2 years, making Him 33 1/2 at the time of His crucifixion. This would have put His birth as (Sept.) 2 B.C….after the commonly accepted death of Herod. That’s where I get lost. :)

    Reply
    1. William Struse Post author

      Hi Ava,

      Thank you for your comments. It’s good to see it from another perspective. In my article on the Messiah Factors I believe I can make a reasonable case for his conception during Hanukah in 5BC and his birth 9 months later during the feast of tabernacles in 4 BC. Though I prefer the feast of tabernacles for His birth your suggestions has its own appeal. Most of the “consensus” for 2 BC comes from the necessity to show the fulfillment of Daniel 9. Based upon my own studies the balance of historical and Biblical evidence points to Yeshua turning 30 in the fall of 27 AD. The gospel accounts only list 3 Passovers so the His ministry may well have been only 2.5 years long. This would place His death and resurrection in 30 AD. I hope to write several articles on this chronology in time for this coming Passover.

      In any case I always love to discuss this with fellow believers, agree or disagree :)

      Warm Regards,
      William Struse

      Reply
  6. Ava

    Totally unrelated, but have you thought much about where Eden might have been? Most think that South Africa is ‘The cradle of civilization”, but I think it is more around Israel. Kind of hard to pinpoint as there was a change in continental mass during the time of Peleg. The one clue is the Dead Sea, which I believe was once a Sea of Life. It still has healing properties and with the River Jordan also known for healing….

    Reply
  7. Abu Khamr

    I’m curious why you started the courses at Nisan. According to the Babylonian Talmud (cf. Ta`anit 29A), when the first temple fell, 9 Ab fell within Yehoyarib (i.e. Jehoiarib).

    Also, you seem to assume each course took up half a month. Josephus (cf. Antiquities of the Jews, book VII, section XIV, number 7) claims they were one week each.

    Personally, I would say tracing the courses might be impossible, as scholars do not seem to agree if they slid across the calendar each year, or had features to stabilize them each year.

    Nonetheless, the above mentioned information from the Talmud and Josephus does paint an interesting picture. If it is possible for 9 Ab to fall within Yehoyarib, then it is possible for Yehoyarib to fall in early August (e.g. 9 Ab fell on 4 August this year). With Abiyah coming seven weeks after Yehoyarib, this would mean it is possible for Abiyah to fall in late September (e.g. this year, seven weeks after 9 Ab corresponded to 22 September), which would mean that a late December birth for Christ is *possible*.

    Reply
    1. William Struse Post author

      Good evening Abu,

      Sorry for the delay in replying to you.

      Starting in 1 Chronicles 23 through 28 we find David organizing the priestly/temple service as well as his own household. In 1 Chron. 24 lots were cast for the priestly service. 24 courses were chosen to service in the Temple. Nothing more is said about the precise nature of their service. Chron. 25 & 26 describes the choosing of the those who gave song and the porters. Nothing specific concerning their service is given here as well. It’s not until Chron. 27 where the captains and officers which serviced king David that we get an idea of how the service was rendered. There is states that each course served in the month according to their number. The first course served in the 1st month for one month. This was service was carried out through all twelve months.

      Granted the text does not say how the priestly courses served but it think it reasonable to assume that if 12 courses served for twelve months, each course for one month, (according to their course #) then it would be congruent for 24 courses to each serve two weeks in twelve months. It is pretty clear from the text that David wanted to organize the service so that it would be run efficiently. It would make little logistic sense to have each priestly course serve for only 1 week at a time. So an arrangement would require a loss of continuity in service as well as unnecessary turnover. Frankly it would be an inefficient arrangement to say the least.

      I hope that explains my understanding of the chronology and the basis for my conclusions. Someday when I have time I’d like to make a chart showing the arrangement as you have pointed out. It raises an interesting line of research.

      Regarding a December birth day it is interesting to note that if Yeshua was born in the 7th month has I have proposed(Sept/Oct) then his conception would have taken place during the month of December, around the Festival of Lights (Hanukkah – Feast of Dedication). It was at such a feast that Yeshua stood up and said:

      John 9:5 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

      This could also be the part of the basis for some of the early churches traditions concerning the same. That is how I see it anyway. I appreciate your thoughts and the references you provided. Definitely food for thought.

      Warm regards,
      William

      Reply
  8. Rebecca

    Hello William,

    Have you read “The Star of Bethlehem: The Star That Astonished the World” by Ernest L. Martin? His book was first published in 1996. It is posted free online:
    http://www.askelm.com/star/

    Here he used chronological information found in scripture (the twenty-four priestly courses and events connected with the birth of Yeshua in Matthew and Luke) plus Revelation 12, along with historical and astronomical evidence to prove that Yeshuas’ birth occurred exactly on September 11, 3 B.C. between 6:15 pm and 7:49 pm EST on the Gregorian calendar, or the first of Tishri on the Jewish calendar:
    The Time of Jesus’ Birth
    http://www.askelm.com/star/star006.htm
    The Birth of Jesus and the Day of Trumpets
    http://www.askelm.com/star/star008.htm

    I personally think that Yeshua was conceived during the Festival of Lights or Feast of Dedication (Chanukah) so just for fun I checked the dates of the in the year 4 BC which fell from December 14-21, 4 B.C.
    http://www.cgsf.org/dbeattie/calendar/?roman=-3

    Then I checked with a pregnancy wheel, using December 14-21 as dates of conception and it gave me a date range of September 6-13 as due dates.
    http://www.prokerala.com/health/pregnancy/pregnancy-wheel/

    Then looking at the dates for the Feast of Trumpets in the year 3 BC it fell on September 10, 3 BC. Of course it could have been on the 11th depending on the sighting of the moon in Jerusalem that year.
    http://www.cgsf.org/dbeattie/calendar/?roman=-2

    I thought the pregnancy wheel and Festival dates were interesting and thought I would share.

    Blessings to you and yours!

    Reply
    1. William Struse Post author

      Rebecca,

      I agree with you about Yeshua’s conception during the Festival of Lights. Pretty cool i.e. the pregnancy wheel. I never thought to use one. Thank again for sharing. I love this kind of stuff.

      John 9:5 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

      Warm regards,
      William

      Reply
      1. Rebecca

        Good evening William,
        Someone shared this web article with me tonight and I thought I would pass it along to you. Scroll down to the paragraphs of “The Birth of Messiah on Yowm Teruw’ah & Conception on Chanukkah” where she talks about the significance of the 271 days and the bible code.

        http://doubleportioninheritance.blogspot.com/2011/09/hanukkahover-throw-of-zeus-worship.html

        I don’t know much about the bible code, but it is a fascinating article. I hope you enjoy it.

        Peace and blessings to you and yours.

        Reply
        1. William Struse Post author

          Good evening Rebecca,

          Thank you for the article. I enjoyed reading it. A few things I disagree with but still found a lot I did agree with. I especially appreciated the reference to Chanukkah and the prophecies of Haggai. Based upon my understanding of Daniel 9 a reasonable case can be made that there were 70 weeks from Haggai’s prophecy (count from this day forward) to Yeshua’s conception around Hanukkah in the winter of 5BC. His birth taking place 9 months later in the fall of 4 BC. Thanks again for the article.

          Warm regards,
          William

          Reply
  9. Simone

    Your chart is wrong. It shows only 2 courses per month when it should be four,
    hence you show the 24 courses being completed only once a year rather than twice a year.

    Reply
    1. William Struse Post author

      Good evening Simone,

      Do you have a Biblical reference for that? Based upon my understanding of the Biblical evidence I believe there to be only two.

      Warm regards,
      William

      Reply
  10. Karin

    Another interesting point is that if Jesus was born on the Feast of Tabernacles, John, who was born six months earlier, would have necessarily been born on Passover. The last chapter of Malachi points out that Elijah would come before the appearance of the Messiah. In fact, Jesus stated that John the Baptist was Elijah. From my Jewish mother, I learned that during Passover, at the Seder dinner, Jews have a place setting for Elijah, and they leave the front door slightly ajar so that Elijah could enter. So, Jews do expect Elijah to appear on Passover, and indeed, Elijah, that is, John the Baptist, certainly did appear (was born) on Passover!

    Reply
  11. Raymond Paul Moats

    Looks & reads complicated!

    https://enochandhishistory33ad.wordpress.com/2016/01/13/2/

    Trust me, it is, but worth the time to look at the citations and context of His way. Who was He quoting when using “Son of Man”? Did He truly mean “3 days and 3 nights” when he used Jonah as the example?

    * * *

    When Was He Killed!

    “The Revealed Priestly Calendar, 33 A.D.” A monograph study of 33 AD

    There are major problems with the Roman, Protestant liturgy and Jewish tradition. The remarkable solution of the days chronology is proved by the revealed Enoch calendar. It was 33 A.D., not 31 A.D.!

    Is it possible to ignore History and follow the “Traditions of Men”? What of our Father the Almighty and His Appointed Days and Seasons? . . . . . .

    Reply
  12. Julie Almanrode

    Love this! I have written a similar explanation on my own blog though I didn’t go into the names as you have done. LOVE LOVE! (I just did the name thing with those who restored the gates and the walls in Nehemiah 3). I do have a question that I can’t seem to which I can’t seem to find an answer. What is the lineage of Abijah? Nadab and Abihu died before having children. So Eleazar or Itamar and does it matter in this explanation of when Yeshua was born?

    Reply
    1. William Struse Post author

      Hi Julie,

      Thank you for the comments. Happy to know you found the article interesting. To answer questions I don’t think this would make a difference on the priestly courses because they were chosen by lot from those descendants alive at the time of David’s organization of the temple service. We just don’t have much more information on the particulars of the lineage.

      Warm regards,
      William

      Reply
  13. Aurora

    On the birth of Christ: is not conception when life begins? If so, than Jesus was in the world when in His mother’s womb. Festival of Lights – The Light of the World – it makes sense to me.

    Reply
  14. Tim

    Hi, I was reading your commentary on Zechariah with the course of Abijah, have been trying to find info for quite some time. Was wondering if you have any documentation in supporting what you had written for when this course took place. I had cpontacted many Jewish Rabbi’s for about 10 years now and none of them could give me any information.

    Also an interesting side note, is in 2 Chronicles 29:1 King Hezekiah’s mothers name was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah!

    Reply
    1. William Struse Post author

      Good evening Tim,

      My rendering of the courses is based upon 1 Chronicles 24:1-19, 27:1-15, I kings 4:7. As you know the text does not specifically say how the courses are counted but if considered within the context of Kind David’s organizational changes the courses began their service in the 1st month of each year. Some really good arguments can be made for the service only being 1 week twice a year but this would seem to defeat the idea of organizational efficiency. The logistics of priestly service twice a year (plus holy days) would seem less efficient than a 2 week service once a year.

      On the plus side of a 2 week rendering of the courses (for me) is the symbolism of 13 & 14 thus placing the birth of the Messiah in 13th or 14th priestly course during the 7th month. Matthew goes to great lengths to show that Yeshua is the 13th & 14th generation in Matthew 1.

      In any case it is a wonderfully rich and complex subject which is well worth exploring. I just not willing to be dogmatic about it at this point.

      Warm regards,
      William

      Reply
  15. Tirzah

    Sir:

    Each of the 24 Priestly “shifts” served for one (1) week, so that there would have been four (4) Priestly orders serving in the Temple per month, NOT “two(2)”. The Torah Commanded that each priestly order was to be further divided into six (6) “clans”, so that during each priestly weekr, all six (6) family clans would serve for one day, and then on Shabbat all the six clans would serve together.

    Reply
    1. William Struse Post author

      Good evening Tirzah,

      Thank you for your comments. I understand that traditionally it is believed that priestly courses lasted 1 week but correctly if I am wrong this is not clearly stated in the Scripture. What is your Scriptural basis for your understanding? I always appreciate seeing the subject from another person perspective.

      Warm regards,
      William

      Reply

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