THE Bible does not tell us when Jesus was born. However, it does give us sound reason to conclude that his birth did not take place in December.
Consider the weather conditions at that time of the year in Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. The Jewish month of Chislev (corresponding to November/December) was a month with cold and rainy weather. The month after that was Tebeth (December/January). It saw the lowest temperatures of the year, with occasional snows in the highlands. Let us see what the Bible tells us about the climate of that region.
The Bible writer Ezra shows that Chislev was indeed a month known for cold and rainy weather. After stating that a crowd had gathered in Jerusalem “in the ninth month [Chislev], on the 20th day of the month,” Ezra reports that people were “shivering . . . because of the heavy rain.” Concerning weather conditions at that time of the year, the congregated people themselves said: “It is the rainy season. It is not possible to stand outside.” (Ezra 10:9, 13; Jeremiah 36:22) No wonder shepherds living in that part of the world made sure that they and their flocks were no longer out of doors at night when December came around!
The Bible reports, however, that shepherds were in the fields tending their flocks on the night of Jesus’ birth. In fact, the Bible writer Luke shows that at that time, shepherds were “living out of doors and keeping watch in the night over their flocks” near Bethlehem. (Luke 2:8-12) Notice that the shepherds were actually living out of doors, not just strolling outside during the day. They had their flocks in the fields at night. Does that description of outdoor living fit the chilly and rainy weather conditions of Bethlehem in December? No, it does not. So the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth indicate that he was not born in December.a
God’s Word tells us precisely when Jesus died, but it gives little direct indication as to when he was born. This brings to mind King Solomon’s words: “A good name is better than good oil, and the day of death is better than the day of birth.” (Ecclesiastes 7:1) It is not surprising, then, that the Bible provides many details about Jesus’ ministry and death but few details about the time of his birth.