Bible Question:

Was Jesus born sometime near the month of September? This seems to be correct since the Magi arrived at the time of Yeshua's birth, fled to Egypt, and then returned to Jerusalem in time to dedicate Yeshua in the temple forty days after His birth. Yeshua came to Jerusalem after Herod was dead. If true, that means Yeshua was born near the time of Herod's death - in September.

Bible Answer:

Your proposed chronology depends on the “wise men” visiting Jesus near the time of His birth. It looks something like this.

Jesus’ Birth and Events Afterward
Jesus is bornMatt. 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-7
Shepherds in the fieldLuke 2:8-20
Magi arrive and worship JesusMatt. 2:1-12
Jesus circumcisedLuke 2:21
Jesus’ parents’ fleeMatt. 2:13-18
Herod diesMatt. 2:19-20
Jesus dedicatedLuke 2:22-38
(returned to Jerusalem)
Parents return to NazarethMatt. 2:21-23; Luke 2:39

Recommended Sequence

May we suggest that the most likely sequence of events from Jesus’ birth to His family’s journey to Nazareth is as follows:

Jesus’ Birth and Events Afterward
Jesus is bornMatt. 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-7
Shepherds in the fieldLuke 2:8-20
Jesus circumcisedLuke 2:21
Jesus dedicatedLuke 2:22-38
Magi arrive and worship JesusMatt. 2:1-12
Jesus’ parents’ fleeMatt. 2:13-18
Herod diesMatt. 2:19-20
(returned to Nazareth)
Parents return to NazarethMatt. 2:21-23; Luke 2:39

We have highlighted the major differences in the two chronologies with yellow. The latter chronology assumes the “wise men” arrived sometime after Jesus was dedicated at the temple. Here are some thoughts to meditate on.

House – Not A Manger

First, Jesus was born in a stable (Luke 2:7) but the “wise men” visited Jesus in a house (Matt. 2:11). This implies that some time elapsed between His birth and the visit of the “wise men.” This means the “wise men” did not find Jesus in a stable or a feeding-trough. The shepherds did however (Luke 2:7, 16). Also, in Matthew 2:11 Jesus is described as being a child. The Greek means that Jesus could have been an infant or a young child. This implies that we cannot be sure that the “wise men” arrived near the time of Jesus’ birth. It is more likely that the “wise men” arrived much later.

Travel Time

In order to determine when Jesus was born, the first chronology assumes that Joseph took his family to Egypt immediately after the “wise men” left and then returned to Jerusalem for the dedication of Jesus at the temple. This means that Herod would have had to die within two to three weeks after the Magi left, since Jesus was dedicated back in Jerusalem forty days after his birth.

We need to ask if the 40 days after the Magi’s visit is enough time for the family to make a 150-mile trip from Bethlehem to Egypt and then back to Jerusalem? We need to remember that Joseph’s wife had just recently given birth and she would have needed some time to heal before the trip. We also need to remember that Jesus was circumcised eight days after birth. Did they circumcise Him during the trip? A person in good health can normally travel about 10 miles a day on foot. This means a one-way trip would have taken them about 15 days to complete to the eastern edge of Egypt if she fed and cared for the child while riding on a donkey or camel. This means a minimum of 30 days were required for a round trip. If we now allow for additional time for Mary to heal and time to stop to care for the child, only a few days, if any, are left before they would have had to return to Israel. Would God send this couple to Egypt only to turn around and come back immediately? This chronology is difficult to accept due to the rapid travel required.

Other Considerations

If the magi arrived several, or even as many as twenty-four months later, then Jesus could have been dedicated in Jerusalem before the magi arrived. With this chronology there is adequate time for the family to leave Bethlehem, flee to Egypt, and then return to Nazareth even years after Herod’s death. This seems to be a better chronology. It is also the one accepted by most biblical scholars.

Conclusion:

We do not know for sure when Jesus was born, but the early church fathers say that he was born in December/January. They were closer in time with better information than we have today. You may be interested in a study about the birth of Jesus at this site.

Reference Links:

Peace With God
Was Jesus born on December 25?