The story continues… (and, accidentally, rather seasonably!)
2. From the reign of Alexander to the end of the reign of Cleopatra there were 289 years. While Caesar Augustus was returning to Rome from Egypt, Herod met him a second time, in ar-Ramlah (11), bringing many gifts. Caesar Augustus gave him power over the whole territory of Judah, and its provinces, and over Galilee, placing on his head the royal crown. Learning that Herod was in the Bayt al-Maqdis as king, the Jews refused to recognise him as their king. So Herod came upon them and made great slaughter; he threw down the wall of the city and the temple, and took the books that Ezra had rewritten, with their lineages, and had them burned, so that no-one would know any longer from which tribe he originated or who his ancestors were (12). Then he took all the furnishings and utensils of the priests, and sold them, and the vestments of the priests and placed his seal on them. Then he started to sell the office of priest, so that, if anyone wanted to become a priest, he demanded a lot of money from them before the charge could be conferred upon them. He administered the kingdom with cruelty and despotism.
3. In the 40th year of his reign, Caesar Augustus issued an edict which ordered that the name of every man in his kingdom throughout the world should be registered, together with his wife. This was an ancient custom, and he also took a census of the population of his kingdom. So he sent his general, named Quirinius, to undertake the census of the population of Syria and Judaea (13). In the 41st year of his reign there was announced, to the Lady Mary the virgin, pure and immaculate, [the nativity] of Christ, our Lord. In the 42nd year of the reign of Caesar Augustus and the 33rd year of the reign of Herod, son of Antipater, in the land of Syria [in another text “of Israel”], was born Christ, our Lord, on the 25th December, or the 29th Kīhak.
4. From the end of the reign of Cleopatra, to the birth of Christ, our Lord, had passed 30 years; from the reign of Alexander to the birth of Christ, our Lord, 319 years; from the deportation by Bakhtanassar of the Jews to Bābil, to the birth of Christ, our Lord, 582 years; from the reign of David to the birth of Christ, our Lord, 1059 years; from the Exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt to the birth of Christ, our Lord, 1665 years; from Abraham to the birth of Christ, our Lord, 2172 years; from Fāliq to the birth of Christ, our Lord, 2713 years; from the flood to the birth of Christ, our Lord, 3244 years; from Adam to the birth of Christ, our Lord, 5500 years.
5. In the 44th year of the reign of Caesar Augustus and the 35th of the reign of Herod, son of Antipater, there came from the east into the land of Judah three magi, astrologers, who asked where the great king had been born. Herod felt afraid, and the whole land of Judah was troubled. Herod summoned the Magi, and asked them about what they had said. They answered, “We saw a great star in the east, and we have learned that a great king was born. We therefore come to worship him. The star has gone before us and walked with us always, but just as we arrived here we lost sight of it.” Herod then questioned the Jews, asking, “Where will the messiah be born?” They told him, “In Bethlehem, of Judah.” (14) Then Herod summoned the Magi secretly and sent word to them asking in what place and time the star had appeared to them. They answered, “It appeared in the east, two years ago.” (15) Then he said to them, “Go and look for this newborn king. When you have found him, worship him, and then come back to me to let me know, so that I may go to worship him.” (16) The Magi left Herod, and the star appeared and went before them until they came to Bethlehem, the place where Christ our Lord was, with the Lady Mart-Maryam, his mother. They worshiped him, and offered him gifts of gold, myrrh and incense. They were then told in a dream to return to their country by another path, and not to return to Herod.
To be continued…