Hanukkah: The Time of Yeshua’s Conception?

By Pastor Greg Stone, D.Min.
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Posted in Hanukkah, Jewish Holidays, on November 18, 2018

Christmas is soon approaching—the season when much of the world celebrates the incarnation of Yeshua. However, this great miracle did not begin with the birth of Yeshua. This great miracle of the incarnation actually begins with the conception of Yeshua.

Is it possible that Yeshua was conceived during Hanukkah, also known as the Feast of Dedication? Let’s consider it.

When was Yeshua actually born?

If we want to determine the timing of Yeshua’s conception, it helps to start with determining the timing of Yeshua’s birth. So, when was He actually born?

Most of our readers probably do not believe that Yeshua was born on December 25. Additionally, most of the people who follow MJBI probably believe that Yeshua was born either during the fall feasts or during the spring feasts.

If Yeshua was born during the spring feasts, then He was not conceived during Hanukkah. While some believe that Yeshua may have been born on the spring feast of Pesach, or Passover, most Messianic Jews prefer the idea that Yeshua was born during the Fall Feasts. Moreover, while there is not unanimous agreement, more Messianic Jews believe that Yeshua was born during the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, than any other feast. Scripture passages such as John 1:14 support that belief:

And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. (John 1:14, TLV)

Let’s do some calculating.

We will try to calculate the conception of Yeshua by working backward in time from the Fall Feasts.

The Gregorian (or solar) calendar and the Biblical (or lunar) calendar are very different, but they have one thing in common—both calendars have leap years.

Our Gregorian calendar has a leap year every four years, adding an additional day to the calendar. This is why every fourth year there is a February 29.

The Hebrew calendar has a very different kind of leap year than the Gregorian leap year.

There are 19 years in the Hebrew calendar cycle. The 19-year cycle is called the “Metonic” cycle. The Hebrew calendar has seven leap years during its 19-year Metonic cycle. Rather than adding a day to the Hebrew leap year, the Hebrew leap year adds a month called Adar 2 which takes place in spring. When the Hebrew calendar has that extra month, the year is called a “pregnant year.” Frankly, if Yeshua was born on Sukkot during a leap year, it is impossible that Yeshua was conceived on Hanukkah. But, what if Yeshua was born on Sukkot in a regular year that does not contain Adar 2?

The year 2019 will be a leap year with the extra month of Adar 2. The following year (2020) does not have the extra month. So, let’s do our calculating based on that year.

The first day of Hanukkah will be December 23, 2019. Hanukkah is an 8-day period, but we will do our calculating based on the first day. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, will be September 19, 2020. The first day of Sukkot in 2020 will be October 3, 2020.

There will be 270 days from Hanukkah (December 23, 2019) to Rosh Hashanah (September 19, 2020). There will be 284 days from Hanukkah (December 23, 2019) until Sukkot (October 3, 2020).

There are 280 days in a normal human gestation period. So, yes—if Yeshua was born some time during the Fall Feasts—it is likely that He was conceived during Hanukkah.

Suppose that Yeshua was conceived on the first day of Hanukkah. If He was born on Rosh Hashanah, then He came 10 days early. But, if He was born on the first day of Sukkot, then he was born four days late. Either date is very possible.

Did Yeshua go to Temple on His Conception Day?

The Gospel of John tells us that Yeshua went to the Temple on Hanukkah.

“Then came Hanukkah; it was winter in Jerusalem. Yeshua was walking in the Temple around Solomon’s Colonnade.” (Gospel of John 10:22-23, TLV)

The Hebrew word Hanukkah actually means dedication. That is the reason that most English translations say that Yeshua was in the Temple during the Feast of Dedication.

In 2 Chronicles 7:5, Solomon dedicated the Temple. The Hebrew word for dedication is the root word for Hanukkah.

King Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty-two thousand bulls and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the people dedicated the house of God. (2 Chronicles 7:5, TLV)

Could it be that Yeshua was thinking about His own conception as He walked around the Temple that Solomon had dedicated?

At the moment of His conception, God was dedicating His Son’s body for the redemption of humanity. As Yeshua walked through the Temple grounds in John 10, Yeshua may have been thinking about His dedication to the Father’s plan of redemption. He certainly would have been thinking about the reason for His incarnation on the day chosen as His conception day. He may have been reflecting upon His own dedication to the Father’s plan, the reason that He took upon Himself flesh and tabernacled among us (John 1:14).

It is easy to see why some see John 1:14 as an allusion to Yeshua’s birthday, and Hanukkah may actually mark the moment of the miraculous conception. Perhaps we should think of the menorah as Yeshua’s incarnation candles. Happy Conception Day!

Should the Church celebrate Hanukkah?

Although the story of Hanukkah is found in the Book of Maccabees (which is in the Apocrypha), Hanukkah is not mentioned in the Tanakh, or Old Testament. Hanukkah is only mentioned once in the entire Bible, in the New Testament when Yeshua remembered the day by going to Temple. Symbolically, we could say that Yeshua went to church on Hanukkah!

How ironic! Although Hanukkah is not mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, Jews celebrate it. And, even though Hanukkah is mentioned in the New Testament, the Church does not celebrate it. And, this irony is even bigger when we consider that the only mention of Hanukkah in the Bible is when Yeshua Himself celebrated it.

Perhaps the Church should consider celebrating Hanukkah?

Dr. Greg Stone
by Dr. Greg Stone, Pastor of Jewish Ministries, Gateway Church, Southlake, Texas. Raised as a Conservative Jew, he received Yeshua as Israel’s promised Messiah when he was 24 years old. After he and his wife Donna pastored for 20 years, Greg received a Doctorate in Messianic Leadership from The King’s University. Dr. Stone is also a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.