Astronomical Fact Check: A Review of The Bethlehem Star, The Star That Astonished the World, by Earnest L. Martin

BFB151218 Martin - Star that Astonished the World

Everyone knows when Jesus was not born.  Even the most devoted Christians understand that December 25 is not the date their Savior came into the world.  But when exactly was He born? 

The average person would say that no one knows.  That answer is incorrect.  It is possible to know when Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth was born – at least within a few days of the event, if not the actual day.  That is the message of Earnest L. Martin’s work, The Star of Bethlehem:  The Star That Astonished the World

If the book considered only the evidence of the Bethlehem Star, it would not be sufficient to establish the case with any degree of certainty.  The title, however, does not embrace the comprehensive nature of the work.  Martin delves into astronomy and the astrological practices of the ancient world, but that is only the beginning.  His quest for truth leads him to investigate multiple avenues of evidence, including Roman, Judean, and Parthian records and historical data, Jewish cultural and religious practices of the era, and clues hidden within the text of the biblical accounts.  In the process, he not only establishes with a reasonable degree of certainty when Yeshua was born, but also sheds light on a period that is considered one of the least known in Roman history.

This weight of evidence permits Martin to make this astonishing claim:

[The] historical evidence supports the nativity of Jesus in 3 B.C.E., at the beginning of a Roman census, and (if we use the astronomical indications of the Book of Revelation) his birth would have occurred just after sundown on September 11th, on Rosh ha-Shanah, the Day of Trumpets — the Jewish New Year Day for governmental affairs.  There could hardly have been a better day in the ecclesiastical calendar of the Jews to introduce the Messiah to the world from a Jewish point of view; and no doubt this is what the apostle John clearly intended to show by the sign he recorded in Revelation 12.

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Of Pharaohs and Free Will

Ramesses II storming the Hittite fortress of Dapur.  He was the most famous and powerful Pharaoh of Egypt's New Kingdom, but contrary to prevailing opinion he was not the Pharaoh who withstood Moses.
Ramesses II storming the Hittite fortress of Dapur. He was the most famous and powerful Pharaoh of Egypt’s New Kingdom, but contrary to prevailing opinion he was not the Pharaoh who withstood Moses.

Of all the pharaohs who ruled Egypt over the course of ancient history, only one had the dubious honor of facing Moses in a contest to see whose God was greater.  We may not know exactly which pharaoh he was, but he most certainly was not Ramesses II.  Such is filmmaker Timothy Mahoney’s conclusion in his astounding documentary, Patterns of Evidence:  Exodus.  Mahoney presents a compelling case for reconsidering the accepted timeline of ancient Egyptian history.  He bases his case on considerable evidence that Israel’s presence in Egypt, the Exodus, and the conquest of Canaan actually happened two or three hundred years earlier than has been supposed.

For centuries we have assumed that Raamses II was the Pharaoh of the Exodus because of this verse:

So they appointed taskmasters over them to afflict them with hard labor.  And they built for Pharaoh storage cities, Pithom and Raamses.  (Exodus 1:11 NASB)

Indeed there was a city named Raamses (or Ramesses) in Goshen, the region of Egypt where the Hebrews lived, but it was not known by that name in the days when the Hebrews lived there.  Underneath the ruins of Raamses are the ruins of an even older city called Avaris.  The archaeological evidence indicates that a Semitic people lived there, that they were at one point prosperous and powerful, that they became enslaved, and that they left quite suddenly.  However, until now no one has seriously considered that these were the Hebrews simply because the evidence at Avaris does not fit the accepted Egyptian chronology.  Yet if we were to adjust that chronology a bit based not only on the discoveries at Avaris, but also on discoveries elsewhere in Egypt, as well as in Canaanite cities such as Jericho, evidence of the Exodus would abound.  Furthermore, such a chronological adjustment would resolve numerous gaps and mysteries in the chronologies of other ancient civilizations.  Mahoney has done a fine job gathering and presenting his evidence.  No doubt there will be many questions and much debate on his conclusions, but his presentation merits serious review and investigation.

It is probably no coincidence that Patterns of Evidence appeared just as the Torah cycle is working through the Exodus story.  Although not as visually stunning as Mahoney’s cinematography, AlephBeta Academy’s video offerings impart considerable understanding of God’s workings among the people of Egypt and Israel.  It may surprise Christian viewers to learn that Judaism embraces the doctrine of free will, and that the account of the Ten Plagues reveals the workings of free will in the context of God’s ultimate sovereignty.  Watch these two videos as Rabbi David Fohrman explains these profound concepts in a very Jewish way.


Va'era: Did God Take Away Pharaoh's Free Will? - Aleph Beta
Va’era: Did God Take Away Pharaoh’s Free Will? – Aleph Beta

Bo: Did God Really Need Ten Plagues? - Aleph Beta
Bo: Did God Really Need Ten Plagues? – Aleph Beta

© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2014-2015.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.