Do you love this lamb?

I’m researching the famous discourse between Jesus and Simon Peter when when Jesus asked him three times, “Do you love me”.

I’ve seen it several times in books and across various websites that when the Passover Lamb was about to be sacrificed the priest would ask the family “Do you love this lamb?”, and he could ask it up to three times. Which is interesting to the Jesus and Simon Peter discourse…

But does this Jewish practice appear anywhere in any ancient Jewish literature? I would really like to see a reputable ancient source…

Thanks in advance.

I’ve never heard of this assertion. Moreover, it seems highly unlikely. After all, the priests would have been sacrificing far too many lambs to be able to stop and have a discussion with each family who is bringing them. From the accounts I’ve read, it seems like an “assembly line” kind of environment.


I just tried to do some googling, and it turns up in some Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant sites (here’s a Catholic one: ), but never with any real source.

Weird. I mean, in the days of Jesus, most folks in Jerusalem for Passover weren’t sheep ranchers. This meant that they literally just bought the lamb at the temple (remember the money-changer pericope in the Gospels?), and received the sacrificed meat.

“Do you love this lamb?” would have the same impact to them as if I put a carton of mega-market ground beef in your hands and asked “do you love this cow?”. The answer would likely be “umm… what?!?”

Yeah, some Protestant sermon I found said families had to keep the lamb for a few days as a pet before it was taken to sacrifice so they could love it. Again, no reliable support for the claim.

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Can you imagine Jerusalem – already filled to the brim with folks pouring in from all directions, in order to be there for the Passover – now walking around with lambs everywhere they go? Can you imagine being an innkeeper, and having lambs everywhere around your inn? Uhh… nope.

Oh, well… homiletic embellishment. *shrug *

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the lambs would have been kept at home until the Passover feastday

At which point, people would have traveled with them, from far and near, and brought them with them to Jerusalem? And still walked around Jerusalem with them until the time came to have them sacrificed? Seems unlikely… :wink:

The only people who would have loved the Temple lambs would have been the shepherds keeping the Temple flocks out in Bethlehem, at Migdal Eder.

There is a Bible parable where Samuel describes to David a poor man keeping a ewe lamb as a pet in his house, so I’m sure it did happen sometimes. But usually that would be a lamb that was orphaned, and an orphaned lamb would usually be weaker or have something wrong with it.

Farmers would usually be handrearing a lamb to make sure it survived and they got some use out of it for wool, etc., not as their prime lamb for sacrifice.

They had to keep the lamb for 5 days, and Jesus fulfilled this starting on Palm Sunday until His death.

If Jewish priests did this, it would most likely be documented in the Mishnah.

I see that you mention “if they did this, it would be documented in the Mishnah.” Do you have a citation for this? Has anyone ever said to you “you can find it here in this document”?

Or is it just hearsay that gets passed along, like an urban legend?

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