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Lesson 1 Hope of Israel Ministries BIBLE Correspondence Course 7

the same word found in Judges 4:5 is used by in midwinter. How do we know this?
Jeremiah in his passages about the Christmas 1. For an indication of the weather at this
tree! time of the year read John 18:18.
COMMENT: Jeremiah is clearly COMMENT: It does get cold in Judea
talking about pagan “tree worship” that the during the winter! This may come as a surprise
Israelites of his day had taken up. The palm tree to many people. Even in April -- in the early
(which is an evergreen like most Christmas trees spring when the Messiah was put to death --
today) was being decorated with gold and silver certain “servants and officers who had made a
spiral ribbons like those that come forth from the fire of coals stood there, for IT WAS COLD, and
working of a lathe, and also with blue and purple they warmed themselves.” Notice what
cloth ribbons. Cunningham Geikie says: “The exact time of the
Such trees were known as asherahs. nativity of Christ can never be known....The
They are mentioned several times in the Old twenty-fifth day of December...has little in its
Testament and are often translated by the favor beyond the fact that it was the day on
English word “grove.” However, the word which, in antiquity, the return of the sun from its
asherah has been shown to refer to a SINGLE winter absence was kept....It [the Messiah’s
TREE that can be living, cut out of the forest, or birth] could hardly have been at that season,
depicted in various abstract forms. however, for such a time would surely not have
Such “tree worship” was well known in been chosen by the authorities for a public
the time of Jeremiah and later. The enrolment, which necessitated the population’s
Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics traveling from all parts to their natal districts,
comments that the Bible makes mention of the storms and rain making journeys both unsafe
women of Judah draping the asherah with their and unpleasant in winter, except in specially
garments near YEHOVAH’s Temple in favorable years” (Holy-Days and Holidays,
Jerusalem. article “Christmas at Bethlehem”).
5. Notice II Kings 23:7. This is precisely The Bible shows that December is a
what Jeremiah is referring to in chapter 10. COLD, RAINY season in that region.
COMMENT: Jeremiah was telling the 2. Ezra 10:9 speaks of those in
Israelites not to learn the way of the heathen by Jerusalem sitting outside in early December
cutting a tree out of the forest and decorating it trembling because of their deeds and in
with spiral ribbons of gold and silver like those “GREAT RAIN.”
coming from the workings of a lathe, and COMMENT: Winter weather did not
adorned with blue and purple fabric ribbons. change much from that day until the Messiah’s
Such customs were normally associated with the time. According to Henri Daniel-Rops’ book,
seasonal feasts of the pagans (especially those of Daily Life in the Time of Jesus, the shepherds
the Solstices or Equinoxes). The modern took their sheep into the open fields just before
Christmas tree is a prime example -- in our day -- Passover in the spring and brought them in again
of what the heathen were doing in the time of during the Hebrew eighth month -- about the
Jeremiah. middle of November -- when the rainy season
When Did the Messiah’s Birth Occur? The sheep were in their folds during the
winter months -- NOT out in the fields, and
A number of assumptions regarding the certainly NOT out in the snow!
story of the Messiah’s birth should be examined Are there any other clues that indicate
in light of what the Bible really says. There is, when the Messiah was born?
for example, NO PROOF that Yeshua was born 3. Notice what Mark 8:27-30 says. The

The Pagan Origins of Christmas
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