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Another question of semantics - was the cock's crow which Jesus prophesied Peter would hear before he betrayed Him thrice, the crow of a rooster or a trumpet blast which happened every 3 hours, or so.

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  • Not sure why I received a down-vote. I have heard scholors state that loose fowl would not be permitted in the temple complex (because of the risk of becoming unclean due to their waste).
    – Gryphoenix
    Commented Oct 11, 2011 at 21:26
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    this could be a good question, but it's a fairly low quality post as it stands. Typically on SE on general, I expect to see some work put into grappling with the question. There should probably be some elaboration, some reasoning why you'd think that it's not meant literally, and a Bible quote.
    – Ray
    Commented Oct 11, 2011 at 21:53

3 Answers 3

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This is a good question because the Mishnah (m.Bava Kamma 7:7) states that:

אין מגדלין תרנגולים בירושלים.

We may not raise chickens in Jerusalem.

The reason for this is not the dung directly (dung is not actually ritually unclean). But there is a concern that the chickens may contaminate the sacrifices with the unclean creatures they might drag out of the dungheaps. (Remember, some sacrifices were eaten anywhere in Jerusalem, not just the Temple courts.)

"Cock's crow" is a technical term in Jewish law: kri'at hagever (קריאת הגבר). It is a time of day prior to dawn that marks the end of night.

The Mishnah (m.Yoma 1:8) describes how the removal of the ashes form the altar in the Temple was performed:

בכל יום תורמין את המזבח בקריאת הגבר או סמוך לו, בין לפניו בין לאחריו.

Every day they would remove the ashes at kri'at hagever or around that time, before or after.

In the Gemara (b.Yoma 20b) there is a disagreement as to whether the term kri'at hagever literally means "call of the man" or "call of the rooster":

מאי קריאת הגבר? רב אמר קרא גברא, רבי שילא אמר: קרא תרנגולא.

What is kri'at hagever? Rav said, "Call of the man." Rabbi Shila said, "Call of the rooster."

The Gemara continues by explaining that they are both right. In the Temple precinct, there was a Temple crier who called out to begin the service. Everywhere else, the time would be determined by an actual rooster crowing.

גביני כרוז מהו אומר ־ עמדו כהנים לעבודתכם ולוים לדוכנכם וישראל למעמדכם, והיה קולו נשמע בשלש פרסאות. מעשה באגריפס המלך שהיה בא בדרך ושמע קולו בשלש פרסאות, וכשבא לביתו שיגר לו מתנות.

Gabbini the Temple crier--what did he say? "Rise up, O priests, to your service, and Levites, to your platform, and Israelites to your posts!" His voice was audible for three parasangs. Once it happened that King Agrippa was going along and heard his voice from three parasangs, and when he got home he sent him gifts.

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    +1 very interesting answer. I've never heard that this idiom might actually refer to something other than a rooster. Commented May 9, 2013 at 21:31
  • So, Aaron, how do you understand the cock's crow occurring three times? Does that mean three dawns?
    – Ray
    Commented May 9, 2013 at 22:22
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    No, the Temple crier would call out the proper times for various events throughout the morning.
    – Aaron
    Commented May 9, 2013 at 22:30
  • On a early morning when its very still you can hear a cock from 3 Km...! Commented Nov 8, 2013 at 23:49
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A cock's crow can be heard from a long distance, depending on various factors, so there is no reason to assume the bird was within the temple area. Given it could be simply and literally a cock's crow, there seems to be no logic in searching for another, more complicated explanation, which would need to be backed up by strong historical evidence to have, in my view, any credibility.

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    As well, based on Matthew 26, Peter was in the courtyard of the High Priest. However, this might not have been within the temple complex. (It was somewhere that a servant girl was permitted, at least.) And in any case, the Old City of Jerusalem really wasn't very big. Commented Oct 15, 2011 at 13:22
  • "residence was connected to the temple complex by an overhead causeway" suggests it was not - though I've no idea how reliable this source is Commented Oct 15, 2011 at 13:36
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    As one who has chickens, I suggest that the miracle was that a rooster could be silent long enough for Peter to say three sentences! Those things are loud and unlike what you see in cartoons, they crow all night long. Commented Apr 7, 2012 at 22:41
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    @AffableGreek Thats funny i live with chickens and they dont cry all night otherwise wed kill em...They start at around 4.30..! Commented Nov 8, 2013 at 23:40
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Cock's crowing Instead of running to the Jewish customs, or to the barnyard for an answer, no matter how interesting, or possible, we need only turn the pages of the Bible to find an answer!

Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the master of the house cometh: at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning... Mark 13:35

The land of Judea--and Jerusalem--was under Roman control and customs. One such custom was the night "watches," when the trumpet was blown at each watch. The melody of the tune played changed with each watch, so the town would know approximately what time it was. Jesus was merely referring to the third watch of the night, showing how quickly Peter was going to betray Him. The Gospel of Mark listed these watches for us.

HISTORY The Jews, historically, had three watches of the night: (1) Beginning of the watch-Lam. 2:19 (sunset to 10 pm), (2) Middle watch-Jud. 7:19 (10 pm to 2 am), (3) morning watch-Exodus 14:24 (2 am to sunrise). But when the Romans conquered Israel, the 4 watches of the Roman time were implemented: these are listed in Mark 13:35 (see above). It is of little doubt that Jesus was referring to the Cockcrow of the Romans when He confronted Peter with his humanity. This trumpet blast would be heard throughout Jerusalem overhead, and in the depths of Peter's soul within.

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