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Vol.  9  No. 9 September 2007  Page 20
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Since You Asked By Louis Rushmore

Names may be included at the discretion of the Editor unless querists request their names be withheld. Please check our Archive for the answer to your question before submitting it; there are over 1,000 articles in the Archive addressing numerous biblical topics. Submit a Question to GGO.

Louis Rushmore

Jewish Boy and the Temple

can you tell me what the legal age requirement for a jewish boy to be permitted into the temple in biblical times thanks peter angel

    First, the “Temple” in first century Jerusalem must be properly defined. Herod’s Temple, to distinguish it from two earlier Jewish temples at the same location, sat upon Mt. Moriah. Herod the Great expanded the surface area of the hill with substantial retaining walls, which either were backfilled or overlaid with massive rock slabs and covered with earth. The result was a somewhat irregular approximate 1,000 foot per side pedestal or Temple Mount. A covered porch ringed the circumference of the Temple Mount, through which rooms one passed into a large courtyard, the Court of the Gentiles. As the name suggests, anyone, even Gentiles could enter this part of the Temple compound. An inner wall separated between the Court of the Gentiles and the Court of the (Jewish) Women; no Gentiles were permitted beyond this inner wall, but any Jew was permitted into the Court of the Women. The Court of the Women contained at least four rooms, including where religious teachers often assembled to give instruction to fellow Jews and where Jesus as a 12-year-old Jewish boy conversed with such persons (Luke 2:46).

     Still another division beyond the Court of the Women led to the Court of the (Jewish) Men; any Jewish male was permitted into this area of the Temple compound. Beyond the Court of the Men was the Court of the Priests into which only Jewish priests could go, and where they performed sacrifices. Beyond the Court of the Priests was the Holy Place into which priests entered for attendance to the Table of Shewbread, the Altar of Incense and the Menorah lamp. Beyond the Holy Place was the Holy of Holies or Most Holy Place beyond the veil into which the High Priest alone goes once annually on the Day of Atonement.

     Consequently, reference to the Temple in the first century depends upon what specifically one has in mind, respecting the various buildings, rooms and enclosures on the Temple Mount. Everyone irrespective of ethnicity, gender or age could go to the Court of the Gentiles. All Jewish (non-Gentile) persons irrespective of gender or age could go to the Court of the Women. All Jewish men could go to the Court of the Men. All priests could go to the Court of the Priests and the Holy Place. Only the High Priest could go into the Holy of Holies, once a year on the Day of Atonement.

     Jesus’ first visit to the Temple was in the arms of his mother when he was a little over one month old (Leviticus 12:2-8; Luke 2:21-24). The next recorded instance of Jesus visiting the Temple was when he was 12-years-old (Luke 2:42). The Jewish Temple was an assortment of public buildings, courtyards and rooms into which persons could go at will except for the specifications already mentioned.

    However, if the question actually inquires regarding when a Jewish boy assumed religious responsibility or admission to Jewish rites and duties, reference to the Temple is beside the point. The local synagogue rather than the Temple in Jerusalem was the place of assembly for regular worship since the Jewish return from Babylonian captivity. “By New Testament times a boy of thirteen became a ‘son of the law.’ …Only after age thirteen did the child qualify to become one of the ten men who could constitute a synagogue” (Gowers and Wight).

 Works Cited

Gowers, R. and F.M. Wight. The New Manners and Customs of Bible Times. CD-ROM. Chicago: Moody P., 1987.

Witchcraft and Miracles Contrasted

Some brethren here in Africa are very superstitious if you deny supernatuaral stories you they will say you dont believe in withcraft, so how does the bible difine witchcraft did they perform miracles? Joshua Mukusha

    From time to time historically up to about the end of the first century A.D., supernatural or miraculous events sometimes occurred. There were two possible, general origins of various supernatural or miraculous incidents—divine origin (i.e., God or his angels) or satanic origin (i.e., Satan or his angels). Miracles involving revelation from God, healing, raising the dead and punishments or judgments by God were divine in origin. Witchcraft, sorcery, demon possession, etc. were satanic in origin.

    Creation was the result of the miraculous determination of God to bring the universe and mankind into existence (Genesis 1). The transmittal of revelation from God to mankind through prophets and preachers was miraculous (2 Peter 1:21) and accompanied by additional miracles to validate the new revelation and distinguish it from manmade, counterfeit revelation (Mark 16:17-20). Jesus Christ healed all manner of sickness and cast out demons during his earthly ministry (Matthew 4:24) to prove that he was who he said that he was—the Messiah or the Son of God. Our Lord as well as the apostle Peter raised people from the dead (John 11:43-44; Acts 9:36-42). God and his servants miraculously executed divine judgment or punishment upon wicked persons (Genesis 19:24-25; Acts 13:8-11).

    Through his prophets, God severely condemned witchcraft and sorcery (Galatians 5:19-21; Revelation 21:8), whether faked (Acts 8:9-11) or real (1 Samuel 28:7-15). Demon possession was an evil miraculous manifestation (Mark 9:17-27) in the first century A.D., probably for the purpose of demonstrating the complete power of God, Jesus and the apostles even over the spirit world (Mark 1:27).

    A wide variety of miracles appear within the pages of the Bible in both testaments. However, miracles were not intended to last forever. Miracles were prophesied to end when the completed revelation from God was available and preserved (1 Corinthians 13:8-13; Ephesians 4:11-14). Miracles were never an end in themselves, but they were provisional (they provided validation of new revelation and for the messengers bringing new revelation). Once the last of new revelation (the New Testament or Gospel) was received (Jude 3), miracles were no longer necessary. Miracles and miracle workers died out together at about the close of the first century A.D. and the dawning of the second century A.D. when the last of the New Testament epistles had been written.

    Today, neither God nor Satan performs miracles. Today, there is neither miracle (divine in origin) nor real witchcraft or sorcery (satanic in origin). There are claims for both ongoing miracles and miraculous satanic demonstrations, and there are incidents that we may not be able to explain, but the Bible believer knows that whatever they are, they are not true miracles since the New Testament teaches that miracles ended with the completion of the New Testament. Finally, what passes for miracles today are either actually ordinary events (e.g., the so-called miracle of birth) or not comparable to Bible miracles (e.g., not instantaneous and complete, raising the dead, walking on water, multiplying bread and fish, etc.).

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