Before The Cock Crows


#1

Apparently, roosters were considered unclean animals and were not allowed in Jerusalem. So given that info, how are we to understand Jesus’ statement, “Before the rooster crows this day, you will deny me three times?”


#2

Roosters crow at the break of dawn, whether they are “clean” or “unclean.”


#3

Where did you hear that roosters are unclean? Everything I’ve seen indicates that chickens are kosher. Chicken can be eaten by Jews, so I see no reason why roosters would be considered unclean.

-Fr ACEGC


#4

Archbishop Sheen mentions in one of his talks that the Romans referred to the trumpet call for the changing of the guard at that time in the morning as the “Cock Crow”. So, like he said: Take your pick. :shrug:


#5

I think Jesus was subtly mocking Peter’s bravado. Like, “Really? You think you have it in you to die for me? Bro, I know for a fact that you’ll break before tomorrow.”


#6

Symbolism? A caller to Dr. Davis Anders’ radio program pointed the following out. One detail I had never noticed was that there was a charcoal fire both at Peter’s denial (Mark 14:54, Luke 22:55) as well as at his reaffirmation (John 21:9) of his love of Christ.


#7

Archbishop Sheen mentions that as well in the same talk mentioned above, and he dwells on how Peter would have felt when he saw it, and when Our Lord asked him three times, both of them using different words for “love”.


#8

Chickens are kosher (and we know that Jews in Jerusalem ate them, judging by the poultry bones discovered in Jerusalem), but it was apparently forbidden to raise them within the walls of Jerusalem, at least according to the Mishnah (Bava Kamma 7.7): “It is forbidden to raise fowl in Jerusalem because of the “Holy Things”, nor may priests raise them [anywhere] in the Land of Israel because of [the laws concerning] pure foods.” The idea is that chickens may easily contaminate the sacrifices (the ‘holy things’) with any unclean creatures they might peck and drag out of dung heaps. And because some sacrifices were eaten anywhere in Jerusalem, not just the Temple courts, this might have been why this injunction forbids chickens in the city.

Because of this, some people have suggested that maybe, the “rooster” (alektōr) is not actually a bird, but a crier at the Temple who announced the time. They point to the Hebrew word gever, which could both mean “rooster” as well as “man.” (There was actually a debate recorded in the Gemara - the commentary on the Mishnah - about how to interpret the technically term kri’at ha-gever: did it mean “call of the rooster” (cock-crow) or “call of the man”?)

It has also been pointed out though that this ban, if it was actually enforced during the time of Jesus (and that’s the issue, essentially: did this ban against poultry farming in Jerusalem reflect reality, or just something the compilers of the Mishnah wished was the case and thought was the ideal situation?) applied only to Jews: any foreigners present in Jerusalem could have cared less about it. Who knows? Maybe people like the small garrison of Roman soldiers at the Antonia raised them. Or maybe someone outside the city had poultry. (Rooster crows could reach long distances after all.) Not to mention that there is another instance in the Mishnah that records the presence of a chicken within the city:

Rabbi Judah b. Baba gave testimony concerning five matters: … (3) that a chicken was stoned in Jerusalem because it had killed a human being. (Mishnah, Eduyot 6.1)

Maybe they had chicken soup afterwards. :smiley:


#9

I’m quoting from Jodi Magness’ Stone and Dung, Oil and Spit: Jewish Daily Life in the Time of Jesus (Eerdmans, 2011, pp. 47-48.) She is talking about how poultry bones are completely absent from the archaeological record in Qumran, suggesting that the sectarians who lived there did not consume them.

A second passage in the Temple Scroll might explain why even permitted species of fowl such as chickens are unrepresented among the animal bone deposits at Qumran:

[INDENT]…] … …] to enter my city …] a cock (or chicken; trngwl) you shall not rai[se …] (tgdlw) in the entire temple …] the temp[le …] (11Q21/11QTc)

Elisha Qimron notes that although the words trngwl and “to raise” [animals] do not occur in the Hebrew Bible, they appear together in rabbinic literature:

They do not rear chickens in Jerusalem, on account of the Holy Things, nor do priests [rear chickens] anywhere in the Land of Israel, because of the [necessity to preserve] the cleanness [of heave offering and certain other foods which are handed over to the priests]. (m. B. Qam. 7:7)

Although chickens are a clean (permitted) species, some groups apparently sought to ban them as well as dogs from Jerusalem due to purity concerns. The polemics of 4QMMT (and the lack of rabbinic concern) suggest that dogs wandered freely around Jerusalem and perhaps scavenged sacrificial remains. The Mishnah’s reference to a ban against raising chickens in Jerusalem might reflect similar concerns about scavenging. If such a prohibition existed, however, it does not seem to have been enforced, judging from the discovery of poultry bones dating to the late Second Temple period in Jerusalem. A bizarre incident recorded in the Mishnah also attests to the presence of chickens in Jerusalem before 70:

R. Judah b. Baba gave testimony concerning five matters: … that a chicken was stoned in Jerusalem because it had killed a human being. (m. 'Ed. 6:1)[/INDENT]

I could not emphasize that part enough.


#10

Here is a site which talks about which birds are kosher and which are not:
jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-the-hoopoe/2004/02/04/

I scanned this site and here is a partial quote:

The Sages state that the following are signs that distinguish between kosher and non-kosher fowl: “Any bird that claws (holds down its prey with its claws as it eats), is unclean.

The site goes on to say that the Wild Rooster does this, so it would be unclean. But I think there are different varieties of roosters that might be OK.

The Kosher laws are very intricate and you practically have to be a scholar in this particular area to understand it all.


#11

Never thought about that kind of thing. We are not the first few generations to ever speak in metaphors from time to time. However, it did say that Peter heard the cock crow and burst into tears.


#12

I’m also getting the idea from Mark and Luke that the trial took place from a balcony which is why Jesus was able to turn around and look at Peter.


#13

The detail about Jesus looking at Peter only occurs in Luke, where the trial before the council is placed “when day came” - unlike in Mark (and Matthew), which has Jesus being interrogated about the same time.


#14

Yep. Those trials were probably two different trials.


#15

There’s a Sunday lauds hymn written by S. Ambrose - Aeterne rerum Conditor
2. Praeco diei iam sonat,
noctis profundae pervigil,
nocturna lux viantibus
a nocte noctem segregans

Now the shrill cock proclaims the day,
and calls the sun’s awakening ray,
the wandering pilgrim’ guiding light,
that marks the watches night by night.

  1. Surgamus ergo strenue!
    Gallus iacentes excitat,
    et somnolentos increpat,
    Gallus negantes arguit.

O let us then like men arise;
the cock rebukes our slumbering eyes,
bestirs who still in sleep would lie,
and shames who would their Lord deny.


#16

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