The Birth of Jesus
By Richard Kieninger
The Gospel according to St. Matthew, which is the First book of the New Testament, starts out with the genealogy of Joseph ben Jacob, the father of Jesus. Because of the centuries-old expectation of the coming of the Messiah, the Jewish priests kept close tabs on the direct descendants of King David, of whose line the Messiah was to be born. The Jews anticipated a David like savior who would lead them to national independence and a splendor rivaling the days of Solomon. The record keepers of the Temple at Jerusalem and the higher-ups of the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of the Jews, were aware of Joseph being a true pretender to the throne of David as well as where he lived and what he did, just as they were of Joseph’s forebears. Joseph and his brother Alpheus were followers of the Essene beliefs and customs. Moreover, Joseph was an Adept in the Essene Brotherhood. As such, like all the saints, he was a part of the “Essence of Divineness” among mankind, the translation of which has come down to our day as “Holy Spirit.” Many Essenes didn't reside in an Essene commune. Joseph was one of these, for he lived separately and worked in a town in the province of Galilee as a builder of houses and furniture. Joseph was 45 years old when he married Mary, and it was arranged by Essene Brothers for him to be her teacher and guardian. He fathered her five sons—Jehoshua, James, Joses, Simon and Judas (Matthew 13:55) and her two daughters.
Jehoshua 's name was pronounced Ye-osh-wa almost as if it were one unaccented syllable, and in Hebrew it means “God by him will save (Israel).” This name of Mary's first son was not later translated into Jesus. The name Jesus was decided upon during the Council of Nicea, called in AD 325 by Constantine I, and combined with the title Kristos, which is the Greek translation of Messiah and means ''anointed one.'' The Druids of Western Europe knew of Jesus before Christ began His ministry in the Holy Land, and they called him Hesus, being the Celtic variation of the name, Issa, by which Jehoshua was earlier known in India and Tibet. The appellation Jesus Christ was agreed upon by the Council of Nicea as a compromise that combined the name used by the Western Church, Hesus, with that used in the Eastern Church, Kristos. Thereafter, all inhabitants of the Roman Empire were compelled by the government to accept the Nicean Creed as part of the state religion under threat of execution or exile.
Mary was married to Joseph at age 13, which was the normal marriage age for Jewish girls in those days. She was the daughter of a wealthy Levite lawyer named Joachim who lived in Galilee. Her mother's name was Anna. Joachim was a believer and student of the teachings of the Essenes, but he was not a member of their sect. He had connections with wealthy Jews of power in Jerusalem and knew intimately members of the Sanhedrin. Mary was educated by her mother as a small child and then by Essene teachers. Elder Brothers of the Essene Brotherhood perceived Mary's spiritual advancement from her prior incarnations and knew the destiny she had taken on. They saw to it that Mary was specially educated at home and later at Mount Carmel until she was about eleven years old. Her father then brought her to Jerusalem where she became a server of the Temple. The Temple compound consisted of many buildings and housed hundreds of people including priests, acolytes, students, teachers, servants, custodians, guards, cooks, accountants, lawyers and scribes.
Herod the Great, who was nominally king of Judea from 37 BC to 4 BC under the Roman governor of Syria, rebuilt the temple in order to gain the favor of the Jews. Solomon's temple had been razed by the Babylonians in 587 BC. Construction of the second temple was begun in 537 BC by Zarubbabel, after the Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity, and it was finished in 515 BC. In 19 BC, Herod had the old temple taken down since it had been standing some five hundred years and was falling into decay. He built a much larger one on the old site. Herod's temple was magnificent, with many new colonnades, porches, and courts added to the original design. The wall that enclosed all the structures was about three-quarters of a mile around and could hold more than 200,000 people. He had it built of white marble decorated with gold. This refurbishing continued long after Herod the Great died, and it was 83 years before it was completed in AD 64. Then it was leveled by the Romans in AD 70. When Mary began serving in the temple, construction had been going on for only twelve years.
The Temple virgins, or maidens, served until about age thirteen, when they became of marriageable age. During the two years Mary served in the Temple, she was given special instruction by her father's friend, Hillel, who at that time was chief of the Sanhedrin. Hillel was secretly an Adept of the Essene Brotherhood and was one of several Essene saints who were aware that Christ's plan to take on a man's body and manifest on this physical plane was imminent. He had to know who was going to be involved in that plan so he could help prepare them for that impactful event. A number of important figures came into incarnation through the families of Mary and Joseph so that they would be properly indoctrinated with the beliefs that would make them amenable to the radical ideas that Christ would present during His ministry. Four of Christ's Apostles were first cousins to Jesus. Mary's sister, Salome, married Zebedee, and she bore John and James the Elder, both of whom supported John the Baptist before they followed Christ. Joseph's brother, Alpheus, had two sons, James the Less and Lebbaeus (Jude), who became Apostles. (Both Jameses in their turn became bishop of the first Christian Church in Jerusalem after the Crucifixion). Thus, the support group for Christ was closely provided by Jesus' immediate family. Even Elizabeth, Mary's cousin who bore John the Baptist, was tied in with this group.
The bizarre events surrounding the announcement to the priest Zacharias, Elizabeth's husband, that his barren wife was to become pregnant and bear a special son alerted the Jewish priesthood to the possibility that the forerunner, Elijah, was coming to prepare the way for the Messiah as the prophets had foretold. These events began when Zacharias was chosen by lot to come to the Temple at Jerusalem to burn incense for the religious services. Just about every Jewish priest eventually was called from his town to perform this function, which lasted two weeks and was considered so sacred that no priest served a turn more than once. Zacharias came from his home in Hebron to perform this duty. While he was publicly serving in' the Temple at the hour of incense, he was struck dumb by a spirit who told him that he was going to become the father of a son to be named John who would be of the spirit and power of Elijah. This dramatic scene created quite a stir. The religious community attached to the Temple at Jerusalem took particular note of the event, and it aroused excitement and a sense of anticipation that finally the Messiah might be coming, and just when the Jews felt they needed Him most.
The claim that Jesus was born of a virgin stems from the fact that Joseph and Mary both were Adepts of the Essene Brotherhood. When two saints of Adept status marry, theirs is known as a virgin marriage. This term is acknowledged worldwide among the saints, but it has caused misinterpretation among the uninitiated for millennia. When two Adepts become parents, their children are known as virgin births. Jesus' brothers and sisters were also virgin births. They were not born of a virgin, but rather of a virgin marriage. Gautama Buddha was born to two Adepts, as was Lao Tzu, and they were both said to have been born of virgins. Later legends ascribed their sires to be manifestations of God. An elephant was said to have entered the side of the virgin Maya, Buddha's mother, while she walked down the road with her retinue. Lao Tzu's mother was supposedly impregnated by a falling star. The Persian religion of the post-exilic period had a story of the virgin birth of Zoroaster. Pagan mythology current throughout the biblical world had many tales of children born of sexual relations between a god and a woman; and in those ancient days, it was an idea easily accepted by most people and was rather expected of a great man. The later editors of the gospels probably thought it reasonable to say that Mary conceived Jesus without having relations with her husband in their attempt to explain what they thought was meant by Jesus being a virgin birth.
Adding the story about the Annunciation by Gabriel probably seemed justifiable. The doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus was not a part of First Century Christian thought. The Gospels of Mark and John never refer to it, and there is no record of Christ ever mentioning it, nor was such a thing noised about among His followers. St. Paul, who was largely responsible for the spread of Messianist thought in the First Century, made no use of it in his teachings as far as we know. There were no witnesses to an Annunciation by an Angel of the Lord. The account in Matthew has the announcement made to Joseph, while Luke has the Angel appear to Mary.
When Mary's cousin, Elizabeth, was six months pregnant with John, who was' to become the Baptist, Mary traveled to Hebron to be with her. This entailed a journey of a considerable distance-about one hundred miles—and required a number of people, animals, and supplies to safely accomplish it. The three-month visit until John was born was important to establish a bond between the adolescent Mary and the middle-aged Elizabeth. Elizabeth and Zachariah were known as a devout and righteous couple, and there was much that the Essene Brothers could see would be worth Mary's trip to visit the priest and his wife, who would soon become a mother. Mary stayed until John was born, and she was thus instructed regarding her own delivery, to come six months later.
That Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit is correct, for Joseph was a member of the Holy Spirit by virtue of his being a saint of high degree. Mary was too young at the time Jesus was born to have re-attained the status of a living saint in the Brotherhood, even though she had been an Adept in her prior incarnation. Joseph died in his 67th year when Jesus was 22 years old and Mary was 36. Joseph and Mary shared a few years of their marriage while both were saints. Jesus had been an eleventh-degree Adept in his prior incarnation, and so he never lost consciousness of the powers and attributes of that degree of advancement while he functioned through his infant body and as a child. Such retention of knowledge is typical of human spirits who incarnate just before they attain Mastership. John the Baptist was also an eleventh-degree Adept at birth.
The birth of Jesus occurred in Bethlehem Ephrata, the City of David. If we use our present calendar to reckon the date, it projects backward to October 4, 4 BC. This is the date the Essene Brotherhood recorded, and it can also be obtained in the Great Pyramid at Giza by projecting the floor line of the Queen's Chamber to the Ascending Passageway, where it intersects the chronographic line. The Roman calendar counted years from the founding of the city of Rome. The first person to suggest reckoning the years of the Christian Era from the time of the birth of Jesus was a Roman Catholic monk, Dionysius Exiguus. In AD 525 he calculated the birth of Jesus but missed the fact that Caesar Augustus ruled for four years under his name Octavius. Therefore, he equated the Roman year 754 A.U.C. with his year AD 1, but we know that Herod the Great died 750 A.U.C. (4 BC), shortly after the birth of Jesus. Mary and Joseph had journeyed around the time of the Autumnal Equinox to Jerusalem from Galilee to celebrate the Jewish holidays with the Essenes who lived in the capitol city. It was a great occasion for those who were Initiates to realize that the plan conceived by the Archangel Melchizedek to borrow the body of a man in order to walk the Earth was about to begin in their lifetime. The concept of a Creator Being of Archangelic stature temporarily taking control of a human body belonging to a High Adept was revealed to only a few Apostles, but it became one of the secret mysteries of the early Gnostic Christians. The Holy Family was much honored by those Essenes who were aware that the baby to whom Mary was soon to be giving birth would become that man.
The census ordered by Caesar Augustus, which required every Jewish man to be counted in his tribal home, would not have been ordered to occur before the harvest had been completed, but neither would it be at a time that required travel in winter. The selection by the Christian bishops in the Roman world of December 25 for the mass celebrating the birth of Jesus did not occur until after AD 200. The Romans were already observing December 24 or 25 as a festival in recognition of the apparent return northward of the Sun from its lowest point at noon on the southern horizon, and they called this Natalis Solis Invicti, which means “birthday of the invincible Sun.” This followed the year-end holiday period called the Saturnalia, in which there was feasting and gift giving and, in some quarters, boisterous revelry. Also on December 25th was celebrated the day that Isis gave birth to the Egyptian world savior, Horus. The cult of Isis was very popular in the Roman Empire, and it rivaled the cult of Mithras among those members of the populace who favored mystery religions over the pagan gods before and after Jesus' birth. Mithras was also claimed to have been born on the 25th of December. Mithras was the principal Persian deity from the 5th Century BC as Mithra, and he dates further back to India, where he was called Mitrea. Both Horus and Mithras were regarded by their followers as sons of God and as Saviors and Redeemers. The Church chose December 25 in an unconcealed effort to offset the influence of the competing religions and customs of their day.
About a week after observing the Jewish holiday in Jerusalem, Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem, six miles south of Jerusalem, to be registered for the taxation census. They lodged in one of the Essene hospices for pilgrims which, in this case, was a cave that long before had had its natural form squared up and made into dry, comfortable rooms. The expecting couple were, of course, the honored guests of the hospice. It was written of Bethlehem by the prophet Micah (5:2), “out of thee shall he come forth who is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” The birth by Mary was well prepared for, and she was provided expert assistance on the day Jesus was born. The hospice sheltered its animals in an adjoining limestone grotto, and there it was that Mary brought out the newborn baby Jesus to receive the admiring shepherds and townspeople. The Essenes purposely spread the word of the birth of a Savior and that the child could be found lying in the manger. Before dawn, Joseph removed his wife and baby son to the home of a shepherdess in Bethlehem where no one could find them, and the Essenes at the hospice pled ignorance of the little family's whereabouts.
Centuries later, Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, built a shrine in the cave where the infant Jesus had lain for his introduction to the shepherds. Soon after, in the year AD 315, Constantine began construction of the Church of the Nativity over this cave, and the church was completed in AD 333. It was later rebuilt and enlarged by Justinian I in the sixth century.
On Jesus' eighth day, he was circumcised and given the name Jehoshua. When he was forty days old, it was time for Mary to undergo the traditional purification rites after giving birth. According to the Law of Moses, a woman was considered unclean for forty days after having a baby and was not allowed in the Temple during that time. Mary and her husband went to the Temple in Jerusalem, where she made a sacrifice of two turtledoves, one for the burnt offering, the other for a sin offering. After waiting at the gate of Nicanor while the offering of incense was being made at the Holy Place, she proceeded to the top step of the stairway which led from the Court of the Women to the Court of Israel. Here she handed the sacrifice to a priest and he made the offering, and she was sprinkled with the blood to indicate the cleansing. Then she paid the required five pieces of silver to the temple treasury by placing the coins into one of the trumpet-shaped money boxes in the Court of the Women. On the same day at the Temple, Jesus was formally consecrated to the service of God. Pious Jews traditionally offered their first-born son in this way. Then the Holy Family returned to the house of the shepherdess in Bethlehem to prepare for the Journey back to Galilee.
At this time, three Magi (Zoroastrian priests from Persia) appeared in Jerusalem seeking the whereabouts of the prophesied “King of the Jews” so they could honor him; for, being astrologers, they claimed to have seen the sign of this in the skies. When King Herod learned of it he became concerned. He had a history of cruelty and violence against any suspected rival to his rule. He asked the chief Jewish priests and scribes where a new king was prophesied to be born, and they told him it was to be in Bethlehem that the Messiah was to appear. Then Herod secretly had the Magi brought before him so he could enquire when they had seen this sign. They explained about the triple conjunction of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn in the sign of Pisces, the symbolic House of the Hebrews, which had begun in 6 BC and occurred twice again within a year (because of the apparent retrograde motion of the planets through the Zodiac due to the Earth's swing around the Sun). Tradition within the Brotherhoods timed the appearance of the birth of the man who would prepare his body for use by the Archangel Melchizedek to this triple conjunction in Pisces. The Zoroastrian priests, having seen this “star,” knew when to journey to the land of the Hebrews. Herod told the Magi to search in Bethlehem and to bring back news to him if they were successful in finding the infant. Thus, six weeks after Jesus was born, the Magi found the Holy Family in the house of the shepherdess, and they honored the infant Jesus and gave symbolic gifts.
The Magi warned Joseph of King Herod's evident jealousy and suggested he take his family somewhere to safety, then they unobtrusively returned to Persia, going around Jerusalem. Joseph heeded their warning and immediately fled with his family to Egypt, where Herod would not find them. When Herod was informed about the recent stir in Bethlehem and that the Magi were gone, he realized that he had been deceived. In a rage, he ordered the slaying of all the male infants in and around Bethlehem under two years old, figuring from the “star” seen by the Magi two years earlier. Because of the well-known tale from a year earlier of Zacharias' visitation in the Temple by a spirit who indicated he would sire the reborn prophet Elijah, Herod sent a contingent of soldiers to Hebron to slay his son also. Being forewarned, Zacharias sent his wife and infant son into hiding. When Zacharias refused to disclose his family's whereabouts even under torture, Herod's agents slew the priest in his synagogue. Elizabeth and John were rescued by several Essenes and brought to Zoan, Egypt, where Elizabeth was reunited with Mary. Soon after the slayings of the male infants in Bethlehem, Herod the Great died in mysterious agony.
Herod's territory was divided among his surviving sons. Under its system of governing conquered lands, Rome interfered very little in the internal affairs of subject peoples and allowed them to administer local government. All of Palestine was a part of the Roman province of Syria. Although Herod the Great was a king, he had very limited authority and was subordinate to the Governor of Syria. At the time Jesus was born, Cyrenius was serving his first term as governor, or military legate, of Syria between 7 BC and 2 BC. There had long been intrigues and political turmoil over the rulership of Palestine, and a family struggle ensued over the succession to Herod's throne. The matter was finally settled when Emperor Augustus divided the kingdom into three parts and gave one to each of Herod's surviving sons. Judea, Samaria, and Idumea were given to Archelaus, but he was not allowed the title of “king.” Instead, he was called “ethnarch.” Herod Antipas became tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, which he governed quite successfully from 4 BC to AD 39. Philip, the third son, was given a predominantly Gentile region, which he ruled from 4 BC to AD 34 as a tetrarch.
Archelaus was so tyrannical and barbarous that appeals from his subjects to Rome resulted in his being put on trial and banished to Gaul in AD 6. The Emperor chose to not assign another Herodian in Archelaus' place, but put the territory, which included Jerusalem, under a series of Procurators sent from Rome. This official was to collect taxes and tribute, maintain order through an army of occupation and the power to impose the death penalty on criminals and rebels, and judge lawsuits between Gentiles or between Gentile and Jew. However, suits between Jews were not in his province. These were settled under the jurisdiction of the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, which also administered outlying government via local Councils. The Jerusalem Sanhedrin was composed of priests and laymen and numbered 70 members plus a chairman who was always the High Priest. This body was closely tied to the Temple and was the chief authority in religious matters, and it served secularly as a high court and legislature.
While these changes were occurring among Herod's family and in the political structure of Palestine, Mary and Elizabeth were given special instruction for about three years by advanced saints from the headquarters of the Essene Brotherhood in Zoan on how to rear their little sons. For a time, Joseph and Mary lived in On, which today is Heliopolis, a suburb of Cairo. The courtyard of their home is revered by local Egyptians, and the so-called Tree of Mary still stands behind the wall that has been built around it in the slums of the city. Although Egypt is a Muslim country, Jesus was counted a prophet by Muhammad, and there are many Coptic Christians living in Egypt. When the Saints' instruction of the two mothers and their little boys was deemed to be far enough along, Joseph, Mary and Jesus returned to Galilee. Elizabeth and John went to reside with a relative in the hills of Engedi near the Essene commune. Here John was educated from the time he was nine years of age by Matheno, an Egyptian Jew and Essene saint. When John was twelve years old, his mother died; and Matheno took John to Zoan, where he lived until he was thirty years old. By Jewish custom in those days, a man could not preach before he was thirty.