Yeshua & His Apostles Did Not Celebrate Their Birthdays
Glory taken from Yahweh and presented to you instead for the day!
So what is the origin of birthdays? Where did the idea of birthdays celebrations come from?
“Originally the idea [of birthday greetings and wishes for happiness] was rooted in magic. The working of spells for good and evil is the chief usage of witchcraft. One is especially susceptible to such spells on his birthday, as one’s personal spirits are about at that time. Dreams dreamed on the birthday eve should be remembered, for they are predictions of the future brought by the guardian spirits which hover over one’s bed on the birthday eve. Birthday greetings have power for good or ill because one is closer to the spirit world on this day. Good wishes bring good fortune, but the reverse is also true, so one should avoid enemies on one’s birthday and be surrounded only by well-wishers. ‘Happy birthday’ and ‘Many happy returns of the day’ are the traditional greetings” (The Lore of Birthdays, Linton, p. 20)…
The giving of birthday gifts is a custom associated with the offering of sacrifices to pagan gods on their birthdays. Certainly the custom was linked with the same superstitions that formed the background for birthday greetings. “The exchange of presents… is associated with the importance of ingratiating good and evil fairies… on their or our birthdays” (ibid.).
The traditional birthday cake and candles also have their origin in ancient pagan idol worship. The ancients believed that the fire of candles had magical properties. They offered prayers and made wishes to be carried to the gods on the flames of the candles. Thus we still have the widely practiced birthday custom of making a wish, then blowing out the candles. The Greeks celebrated the birthday of their moon goddess, Artemis, with cakes adorned with lighted candles…
Many who profess Yeshua celebrate birthdays, did you know that birthdays were simply not celebrated by those in the early church? Interestingly, there is no hint in the Bible or early writings that Yeshua, the apostles, or any true Christians ever celebrated birthdays.
When we examine the principles of Adonai’s law closely, as they relate to birthday celebrations, we can understand why neither Yeshua, nor His Apostles, nor their true followers, observed their birthdays. As noted earlier, the practice has its origin in idolatry and the worship of the sun, moon and stars…Some may view birthday customs as purely secular, lacking any religious significance. Yet we need to be aware of the broader perspective of their origins, and the religious significance they have had—and still have—for vast multitudes of people.
Jews, Jewish Followers, and Old Testament Birthdays But what were early Jewish practices?
The first century Jewish historian Josephus noted that Jewish families did not celebrate birthdays:
Nay, indeed, the law does not permit us to make festivals at the birth of our children, and thereby afford occasion of drinking to excess (Josephus. Translated by W. Whiston.Against Apion, Book II, Chapter 26. Extracted from Josephus Complete Works, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids (MI), 14th printing, 1977, p. 632).
Since nearly all of the first Christians were Jewish, this may partially explain why the celebration of Yeshua’ birth would not be consistent with that early custom.
Notice two reports that would seem to support that:
“There is no tradition in Judaism of celebrating birthdays as holidays, otherwise we would expect holidays for the birthdays of Moses and Abraham, among others, but there is no such thing. The Torah does not even record their birthdays, just as the New Testament does not record the date of Yeshua’s birth.”
The interesting thing about birthday celebrations is that, for much of our history, they were not a very “Jewish” custom.
…as a rule, Jews did not celebrate their birthdays. Indeed, while the dates of passing (yahrtzeit) of the great figures of Jewish history are recorded and commemorated, their dates of birth are mostly unknown.
The first account is in Genesis. Pharaoh, the Egyptian king, celebrated his birthday by executing his chief baker (Gen. 40:1-23). God gave Joseph special understanding of a dream by Pharaoh’s butler and baker, that the baker would lose his life three days after Joseph interpreted the dream. Joseph understood that Pharaoh would use this occasion—his own birthday party—to put his baker to death. As the dream had foretold, the baker was hung at the party.
In the second account, the New Testament figure Herod the tetrarch reluctantly ordered the beheading of John the Baptist (Matt. 14:3-11). Notice verse six: “But when Herod’s birthday was kept…” During the dancing and merry-making at his birthday party, Herod got carried away and eventually made a promise that he did not want to keep. As a result, a great servant of God lost his life.
The final account is found in the book of Job. The Brit Chadasha says that Job’s seven sons “went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them” (Job 1:4). These parties were obviously not centered around any kind of celebration related to Adonai, or Job would not have worried that his children may have sinned during these celebration feasts. He was not exactly sure what was going on in their minds, but the very celebration of their birthdays triggered great concern in him (1:5). Apparently, during the birthday party of Job’s oldest son, Adonai allowed Satan to kill all 10 of Job’s children through what appears to be a tornado (vs. 6-13, 18-19).
Further proof that these birthday celebrations displeased Adonai is found in Job 3. Take time to read the entire chapter carefully. Job spends much time cursing every aspect of the day of his birth. The loss of all of his children, due to a birthday celebration, stunned and sobered him. His words make plain that there is nothing good about the day of a man’s birth. He openly cursed the day he was born. This will be shown to have greater meaning later in this article.
Some who are familiar with these accounts attempt to explain them away by saying that there is no statement contained within them that directly prohibits birthday celebrations. They also ignore Job’s comments described in the previous paragraph. It is true that the above scriptures do not contain a direct condemnation of birthdays starting with the phrase “Thou shalt not…” or something similar. But consider for a moment the central lesson of each of these accounts. They represent the only three birthday parties described in the entire Bible. Absolute disaster occurred on each occasion! If Adonai felt birthday celebrations were something positive and good, why wouldn’t He have recorded one other account where something either good or positive happened? Yet, there is no such account.