Acts 3:1 - Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the [a]ninth hour, the hour of prayer.

I have been digging everywhere I can think of to find some description or outline of what happened during the 9th hour prayer and sacrifice for the sins of Israel. I once heard a man describe it in great detail, so it would seem that this must be documented somewhere, but I am unable to find it.

Question: If I were living in the first century, and went to the Temple at the 9th hour, wanting to participate in or observe this event, what would I see? What happens?

  • Please, include the text or passage... Commented May 23, 2015 at 20:26
  • Sounds like you're reading Acts 3:1. If Peter and John went to the pre-70 CE afternoon Tamid sacrifice at the Jerusalem temple -- which begs all kinds of questions -- checkout the Mishnah Tamid online (sefaria.org/Mishnah_Tamid). The Jewish Virtual Library's 'Temple' article helpfully summarizes this material under the heading 'The Daily Service' (jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/…). But if the passage refers to the post-70 CE afternoon prayer service, the Minchah, it would obviously be quite different (cf. Acts 10:9).
    – Schuh
    Commented May 23, 2015 at 20:55
  • DJGray, the question as written appears to be a better fit for Judaism.SE. If (as has been suggested in a comment and answer) you’re interesting in relating this to NT events, please specify and include the NT text of interest. If you are interested in Jewish tradition in itself, please flag this for migration to Judaism.SE. I’m putting it on hold pending that clarification.
    – Susan
    Commented May 24, 2015 at 0:54
  • Susan, I am open to posting the question on Judaism, but am not a member there. Since there is a Judaism tag here, I took, that to mean that it was acceptable.
    – DJGray
    Commented May 24, 2015 at 13:56
  • Paul, I do not have a specific passage in mind, though as Schuh noted, Acts 3:1 fits. I do hear often of the 9th hour of prayer and sacrifice for the sins of Israel. As noted in the question, I recently heard a man describe those activities in detail and have been trying to find where he might have possibly gotten his material. Schuh, I will check the resource you noted, and I thank you. DownVoter, that is harsh. I have been digging and researching this for weeks. It's a valid question.
    – DJGray
    Commented May 24, 2015 at 13:58

1 Answer 1


1. Question Restatement:

According to Jewish Tradition, or Mosaic Law, what was happening at the 9th hour?

2. Context - The 9th Hour of the Day, is 3PM :

... In both Jewish and Roman time keeping systems.

See : Re. The Crucifixion: Possible to Correlate Timekeeping and Calendar Days?

3. Answer 1 - They May have Chosen the 9th Hour, Because Nothing was Going on :

It is very likely that Peter and John - well known as Christians - were going to the Temple at the 9th hour - because nothing was going on, so as to not cause contention.

According to Acts 2, Shavuot - Pentecost - had already occurred, (Wikipedia; Exodus 23:16, Exodus 34:22, Numbers 28:26, Deuteronomy 16:10, etc.).

No other holidays seem likely, in this context.

Neither Morning, (Shakharit), or Evening, (Maariv), prayers would have been going on.

However - The Afternoon Service, (Minkhah), was arguably observed at any time - after 12:30pm, up to evening, as people were able to come, (because of work, etc).

4. Answer 2 - There is no Way to Know :

There are too many forgotten and conflicting traditions to know for sure : the Palestinian and Babylonian Talmuds (dated much later); the conflict between the Sadducee and Pharisees; the Karaites; etc;

However, I would venture a guess that the Sadducees were still in authority, in the Temple. But, they - and their traditions - have been purged from history.

Jewish liturgy, (see Siddur), throughout history, has been "organic". There are many of these liturgies today, all of which were written - because there is no Temple. None of them claim to reflect that period, let alone claim to have been passed down from Moses.

There is no way of knowing exactly what was going on at the 9th hour on a daily basis, though if some "event" was occurring, it likely would have involved sacrifices. Perhaps start with: Tractate Zevachim, “Animal Sacrifices”, Bava Metzia 109b, Shechitat Kodashim, “The Slaughter of Consecrated Animals”.

  • e.s. kohen, Thank you for the insightful, and comprehensive response. I appreciate it very much. I will look at the sources you linked to. I gather from your response that the answer is "We really do not know," and this leads me to believe the gentlemen I heard provide such great detail could not possibly have been giving a prescribed activity list, since no prescription exists.
    – DJGray
    Commented May 24, 2015 at 14:04
  • @DJGray - Thank you for the comment. (A.) I don't want to mislead you, there are "Prescriptions" for what "Could have, Should Have", happened--but these all vary. I cited a few. (B.) Depending on the background, a person will argue vehemently, one way or the other. (C.) Prescriptions/Descriptions include,: Tractate Zevachim, the differing Jewish Traditions, Liturgies, Alfred Edersheim's commentary, the New Testament, etc.; (D.) It is just hard to know for certain, when so many traditions and biases are involved--I am very thankful that idea came through all that. Commented May 24, 2015 at 16:24

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