Presentation at the Temple


I’m confused. Pidyon HaBen (redemption of the first born) is performed 31 days after birth. I’m assuming Luke chapter 2 “purification” refers to Mary’s purification ritual for giving birth. This is performed 40 days later. If that is the case how were they permitted to perform Pidyon HaBen late?


Are these time periods set forth in the Old Testament, or in subsequent Rabbinic law? If the latter, they probably weren’t in effect at the time of the Presentation of our Lord at the Temple.


Yeah, the purification for the woman would be at 40 days, per Leviticus 12. Exodus 13 says that the firstborn should be consecrated and redeemed, but doesn’t state when. It would seem reasonable to do the two at the same time, especially if one is travelling to do so. We tend to think of Judaism as something that is the same now as it was then, but that’s really not the case - the yarmulke, for instance, almost certainly wasn’t used back in Jesus’ day.


Numbers 18:16 says, “…at a month old you shall redeem them…”


Good catch. Looking at a word by word translation, it looks like “from a month” is probably more literal than “at a month”. This lines up with what Wikipedia says - “This redemption ceremony is performed when at least thirty days have passed since the child’s birth”, though it sounds like the ceremony is typically carried out on the 30th or 31st day. So it could well be that the timing of the practice was a bit looser back then; i.e. some early point in time that was at least one month out. (Hebrew word by word) (several translations)


Very Interesting… and Was John the Baptist Redeemed at 30 days? And were lots of Jewish folks aware of the angel visiting John’s father in the Holy Place? Was that recorded 2000 years ago or was it just in the NT?


What aroused my concern is I heard the priest in his homily say St Luke got it wrong with the Jewish customs because he was a gentile writing to gentiles. So he wasn’t entirely familiar with Jewish customs. He also assured us not to worry about it because we are more interested in the meaning behind these events.

Immediately I thought “the inerrant inspired word of God…but St Luke got it wrong?!”


I think it more likely that back then out-of-towners, like the Holy Family, postponed the presentation of their firstborn son until after the time of his mother’s purification was complete so they didn’t have to make two trips to Jerusalem or have an extended stay there of ten days or more.


Great answer :thumbsup:

Wouldn’t most Jews living outside of Judea be in the same situation and make the one trip only as well? I don’t think the Pharisees would have accepted such practices at the time…


Can anyone else clarify my confusion?


Likely just the authors accounting of the event for JESUS, who is the primary focus. SUBJECT of the NT:)

The bible is foremost a book of MORAL teachings, not an accurate history book:)



closed #12

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