In The Lunar Eclipse of Josephus (Chapter Nine), DR Ernest L Martin takes the investigation into the timing of major events a step further. The Star of Bethlehem is starting to read like a great mystery novel! I simply cannot put it down. I quote from the source:
"Why should this be a problem? The truth is, it is a difficulty of major proportions. Josephus reported that a few days prior to the eclipse two important rabbis had encouraged some of the youth at Jerusalem to destroy a golden eagle which Herod had placed over the eastern gate of the temple. These religious leaders had interpreted the existence of this eagle as being contrary to the Law of Moses. And in broad daylight a number of young boys began to cut down the eagle.
"These Jewish youths were caught in the act and about forty of them were ordered to appear before Herod and the Sanhedrin (the Supreme Court of the nation) to answer for this outrage. The two rabbis who perpetrated the plan were especially singled out for judgment. Realizing the great popularity of these two religious leaders, Herod felt it wise to move their trial to Jericho and away from the capital at Jerusalem. Herod, himself, was ill and since his winter home was in Jericho he wanted to be in the warmer climate of the Jordan Valley to alleviate the effects of his illness.
"This was accomplished. The rabbis and the young men who assisted them were finally convicted of high criminal actions (sacrilege and sedition). While most of the young men were given milder sentences, the two rabbis were ordered to be burnt alive. Now let us take up the story as recorded by Josephus. He will bring us right up to the important eclipse of the Moon about which we have been talking.
" “They were found guilty of sacrilege against God therein. But the people, on account of Herod’s barbarous temper, and for fear he should be so cruel as to inflict punishment on themselves, said, what was done, was done without their consent, and it seemed to them that the perpetrators might certainly be punished for what they had done. But with Herod, he dealt more leniently with others; but he deprived Matthias of the high priesthood partly because of this action, and made Joazar, who was Matthias’ wife’s brother, high priest in his stead. Now it happened, that during the time of the high priesthood of this Matthias, there was another individual made high priest for a single day, that very day which the Jews observed as a fast. The situation was this: this Matthias the high priest, on the night before that day when the fast was to be celebrated, seemed in a dream to have sexual relations with a woman; and because he could not officiate himself because of this, Joseph, the son of Ellemus, his kinsman, assisted him in that sacred office. But Herod deprived this Matthias of the high priesthood, and burnt alive the other Matthias, who had raised the sedition, with his other accomplices. And that very night there was an eclipse of the Moon.” 2
"What has this information to do with the significance of our eclipse, assuming it was the one of March 13, 4 B.C.E.? The truth is, it is devastating to it. It means that those rabbis would have been burnt alive on the Jewish day of Adar 14, the first day of the two high days of Purim. No court, unless completely illegal, would have had criminals executed and certainly not rabbis on the special day commanded in the Bible when the Jews “rested ... a day of feasting and gladness” (Esther 9:17–18). The whole nation would have been in an uproar over such a procedure."
With careful study and examination, DR Martin is able to throw out certain dates that have been cited by historians, both ancient and modern, and come to conclusive proof that the day of Herod's death is January 10TH, 1 BCE. He concludes and looks forward to Chapter Ten:
"In the next chapter, it will be shown that all these important historical events could only have occurred in 1 B.C.E. This major Roman/Jewish War that Josephus records took place in the summer and autumn of 1 B.C.E. and it was fought as a result of Herod’s death, the killing of the rabbis, and the Passover massacre. For this reason, no lunar eclipses beyond the one of 10 January, 1 B.C.E. need be considered as being the eclipse mentioned by Josephus. The next chapter will demonstrate why this is the case."
Martin, Ernest L. “The Star of Bethlehem: The Star that Astonished the World.” 27 DEC 2012. <http://www.askelm.com/star/star011.htm>
You can purchase the hardbound version of The Star of Bethlehem: The Star that Astonished the World, by DR Ernest L Martin at amazon.com.
You can read or listen to The Star of Bethlehem: The Star that Astonished the World at the ASK ELM website.
You can also listen to David Sielaff’s wonderful audio interview with George Ann Hughes at the Byte Show. These files bring us up to date, for David Sielaff continues the work of Ernest L Martin today. You will find the full interview at The Byte Show. Scroll way down to The Star of Bethlehem series, in fourteen parts.
Also available are all eleven parts of The Star of Bethlehem interviews Ernest L Martin did with Jeff Rense at ASK ELM.