These eighteen special prayers would be prayed twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. An angel appeared to Zacharias on the right side of the altar and told him that his prayer was heard and John the Baptist would be born. John the Baptist was not literally Elijah, but was of the spirit of power of Elijah (see Luke 1:17).
After Zacharias completed his turn at serving in the temple he went home and his wife Elisabeth subsequently became pregnant with John the Baptist. Allowing two weeks for the laws of separation, with regard to female reproductive cycles, that God commanded in the Old Testament and then going forward nine months puts the birth of John the Baptist during the feast of Passover. A very intriguing fact is that during the service for Passover while eating a meal, which is called the Passover Seder, the people go to the door during one part of the service and look for Elijah while the Passover meal is eaten. The cup or toast involved in this ritual is called the cup of Elijah. Is this a coincidence? John the Baptist, conceived after prayer by his parents (for the coming of Elijah and subsequently the Messiah, Jesus) born on Passover, preceding Jesus in birth and service and born of the spirit of power of Elijah, is symbolized in the feast that is occurring when he his born. GOD causes events to occur in miraculous ways!
Meanwhile, during the sixth month of Elisabeth's pregnancy with John the Baptist, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary. Using the dates and logic from above, this visitation would have occurred around the twenty-fifth of the month of Kislev, otherwise known as Chanukah (Feast of Dedication). During the time of the first century, Chanukah was known as the second feast of Tabernacles. During the time of Chanukah, the entire feast of tabernacles prayers are prayed once again. Mary's dialogue with the angel Gabriel is found in the Feast of Tabernacles liturgy today. Calculating from the twenty-fifth of Kislev and adding eight days for the festival of Chanukah plus nine months for Mary's pregnancy, this will bring you to the time of the feast of Tabernacles, or Tishrei 15, the beginning of the feast.
Interestingly a couple of idioms associated with the Feast of Tabernacles are "the season of our joy" and "the feast of the nations". What did the angel say when announcing Jesus' birth?
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. Luke 2:10
Were these words carefully selected and spoken, or just uttered as a result of an angel's will, or maybe it's just a coincidence? You decide, but the terminology the angel used to announce the birth of Jesus was spoken using themes and messages associated with the Feast of Tabernacles.
At the close of the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles worshippers descended to the Court of Women, at the temple. Four mammoth golden candlesticks, us usual for this feast, had been positioned in that court. Each candlestick was fashioned so that four golden bowls, with a capacity of about seven and a half gallons each, were positioned at the topmost part. Resting against the candlesticks were four ladders, which youths of priestly pedigree climbed to fill the bowls. Old or worn out leggings and girdles of the priests were used as wicks for the bowls on the candlesticks. The light produced from these sixteen bowls of oil were bright enough that Jerusalem could be seen for quite a distance and no courtyard within Jerusalem was not lit up from the candlesticks. Members of the Sanhedrin and others would dance well into the night, holding bright torches and singing praises to GOD. Imagine the sight of it! It has been noted that swaddling clothes used for infants, were made, at times, from legging material. Jesus was wrapped in swaddling cloths. Jesus is the light of the world. At his birth a woman (his mother) enwrapped him in the very element that enabled light to emanate form the Court of Women to Jerusalem and the countryside beyond. Another series of coincidences. no doubt!
The infant Jesus was laid in a manger. The word manger is the Greek word phatn'e. It is the same word translated as "stall" (see Luke 13:15). By seeing how the word is used in Luke 13:15, it can be seen that the Greek word phatn'e means a place for hitching cattle. The Hebrew word for stall is marbek (see Amos 6:4 and Malachi 4:2). In Genesis an account of Jacob is given as he journeyed to Sukkoth and made booths (see Genesis 33:17). The word booth in this passage is the Hebrew word sukkah; the plural is sukkot for his cattle. So we can see from these passages how the word booth (sukkah or sukkot) was used by Jacob for his cattle in Genesis, and how the Greek word for manger or "stall," phatn'e, was also used to refer to hitching cattle in Luke's Gospel.
The month of Tishri (in the fall) also fits with the season of shepherds being out with their flocks by night, as they were when Jesus was born; during winter the lambs are kept indoors.
As previously mentioned, during the Feast of Tabernacles, GOD required that all male Jews come to Jerusalem. For this reason, the city would be overcrowded with people and would explain why Mary and Joseph could not find lodging in and around Jerusalem (see Luke 2:7). Bethlehem, the place where Jesus was born, is only about four miles from Jerusalem.
The last evidence for the birth of Jesus during the feast of Tabernacles is seen according to the Scriptures is in Matthew's gospel (see Matthew 2:1). There we see that wise men come from the East to visit Jesus. The land of the East (see Genesis 29:1 and Judges 6:3) is Babylon (Iraq today), where the largest Jewish population was at the time of the birth of Jesus. These Jews were descendants from the captivity when King Nebuchadnezzar defeated Israel and took the Jews to Babylon to serve him. The wise men were rabbis. The rabbis, also called sages, are known in Hebrew as chakamim, which means wise men. The word in Matthew 2:1 in Greek is magos, which is translated into English as "Magi." Magos in Greek is the Hebrew word ravmag. Ravmag comes from the Hebrew word rav, which means "rabbi." It should also be noted that the Greek word magos can also mean scientist, counselor, scholar, or teacher. The rabbis were scholars or teachers of the Jewish law.