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historical context, landmark dates & events, timeline

Dating the year of Jesus’ birth

Jesus was born in Bethlehem probably in the year 7 or 6 B.C. At this point I go with 6 B.C. personally. Luke 2:41,42 says it was the custom of Jesus’ parents to go to Jerusalem each year for the Passover. The passage implies that the first time they took Jesus with them was when he was twelve. This makes the most sense if we place the year of Jesus’ going to Jerusalem in 7 A.D., the year after Archelaus was deposed and exiled to Gaul by Augustus.

Why? Because when Joseph brought his family back from Egypt after the death of Herod in 4 B.C. he was afraid to go to Judea upon hearing that Archelaus was reigning in the place of his father (Matthew 2:22). Apparently he feared Archelaus would be just as hostile toward Jesus as Herod was, so he kept the boy away. So year after year Joseph and Mary went up to Jerusalem for the feasts while Jesus stayed home in Galilee, until the threat posed by Archelaus was gone. In 7 A.D. it was safe for Jesus to come along, and if that was the year of his 12th birthday (Luke 2:41), then that would mean he was born in 6 B.C. Voila!  

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