April 30, 2009

Zeke, Liz & Gabe - 4

(Part 4 of 4) I hope it's clear that I'm not trying to make too much of the topic. Overall, the story of Gabriel, Zechariah & Elizabeth is certainly not a starting point to NT chronology. Even though we will never know how long Zeke & Liz took to conceive John or what the deal is with the priestly cycles, we can still insert their story into the timeline, for a given range of dates. We just need another pair of starting points.

Let's take, at least for example, my suggestion about Gabriel coming in the new Sabbatical Cycle (on or after Sept. 9 BC) along with my arguments for dating Jesus’ birth as early as April/May of 7 BC. If these are good parameters, the data on Zeke, Liz & Gabe fits very nicely and flexibly into the timeline. Here's how:

In the first 26 weeks of the new cycle, in 9 BC, Zechariah had three chances to serve. If he drew the lot in September, Zeke could have pouted for a while before Elizabeth began menstruating. Or, if Gabriel came closer to the opposite limit, then the pregnancy could have commenced rather efficiently. Odds, nature and scripture suggest moderation in making both estimates.

Problem wise, the flexible spans essentially cancel each other out, because our given parameters already place the conception of John around Feb/Mar. This brings me once again to the key point of my little blog series. We should date Zeke & Gabe by working backwards from an estimate on Christ's nativity. It cannot be done the other way around.

So when did Gabriel come to Zechariah? The truth is probably somewhere mid-range, in this case, perhaps in November. As a matter of fact, if the priestly courses reset at Rosh Hashanah, the week of Abijah fits into early November for 9 BC. That would certainly fit just as well as anything else. Eleven to fifteen weeks of pouting, reconciling, menstruating and ovulating (not to mention the repeated attempting) sounds realistic. As I said in part one of this series:
We should not assume God wanted it done with efficiency. ... Blood, sweat and tears were all due to come, and that would take time – weeks, perhaps months. And after all, isn’t that how God usually works?

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