you're reading...
chronology, landmark dates & events

Dating the year of Jesus’ twelfth birthday

Matthew tells us that Joseph originally took his family down to Egypt for fear of Herod, who ordered the slaughter in Bethlehem of all male boys two and under in an attempt to kill Jesus. After Herod’s death they returned to Israel, but when Joseph heard that Archelaus (who had a brutal reputation of his own) was reigning in his father’s place, he diverted to Nazareth in the district of Galilee.

From that point on Luke informs us that Joseph and Mary went up to Jerusalem “every year” at the feast of Passover (Luke 2:41). Logic would assume, however, that if Joseph wanted to keep Jesus away from Judea when he was a toddler then he would want to keep him away every other year as well. Even the manner in which Luke relates the story seems to indicate that Jesus’ parents went to the feasts alone, perhaps leaving Jesus behind with friends or family in Nazareth.

But then we’re told that during his twelfth year Jesus went up with his parents according to custom. Was this Jesus’ first visit to Jerusalem since his dedication in the temple when he was only forty days old (Luke 2:22-38)? For now at least I tend to think it was. And if this visit at 12 was connected with Archelaus’ deposition by Augustus in A.D. 6, then we have a fairly accurate idea as to the date of Jesus’ twelfth birthday.

It’s a bit loose and based mainly on conjecture I know, but for the time being I’m content to run with it. Unless, that is, anyone can convince me otherwise. What do you think?


About Joshua

Writer, husband, father, friend.


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 5 other followers


%d bloggers like this: