The Role of Women in the Temple

Articles 3 Comments

According to Jewish religious law, women were allowed in every area of the Temple precincts in which men were allowed.

Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, as it is written in the Lord’s Torah: “Every first-born male is sanctified to the Lord.” (Luke 2:22-23)

Luke 2:22-39 describes the “redemption” of Jesus in accordance with Exodus 13:2,13, which commands that every first-born male Israelite be redeemed because his service belongs to the Lord. Luke also adds that Mary went to Jerusalem to sacrifice the prescribed offerings after giving birth: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons” (Lev. 12:8).

pid·YŌN ha·BĒN

According to Jewish religious law, it is not necessary to go to Jerusalem in order to redeem a first-born son. The ceremony, פִּדְיוֹן הַבֵּן (pid·YŌN ha·BĒN, “redemption of the son”), can be held anywhere and the redemption money is included among those gifts or offerings which are given to priests any place in the land of Israel:

Twenty-four priestly gifts were given to Aaron and his sons… ten in the Temple, four in Jerusalem and ten anywhere in the land of Israel… [and among those received by the priests anywhere in the land was] the redemption of the first-born son.” (Tosefta, Hallah 2:7-9)

Paid Content
Premium Members and Friends of JP must be logged in to access this content:

If you do not have a paid subscription, please consider registering as a Premium Member starting at $10/month (paid monthly) or only $5/month (paid annually): Register

One Time Purchase Rather Than Membership
Rather than purchasing a membership subscription, you may purchase access to this single page for $1.99 USD. To purchase access we strongly encourage users to first register for a free account with JP (
Register), which will make the process of accessing your purchase much simpler. Once you have registered you may login and purchase access to this page at this link:

Login & Purchase
This article originally appeared in issue 21 of the Jerusalem Perspective magazine. Click on the image above to view a PDF of the original magazine article.

Comments 3

  1. Didn’t the first century Pharisees make additional laws that restricted women more in the Temple as well as other activities, where they were more free prior to that time?

    1. JP Staff Writer

      No, we think you are mistaken. The first-century Pharisees were generally more open to women’s participation in the Temple, and even celebrated the participation of prominent women like Queen Helena of Adiabene. After the destruction of the Temple, as the power of the rabbinic sages became more firmly established, the rabbis began to adopt more restrictive attitudes towards women. But the attitudes of the later sages should not be projected back onto the first-century Pharisees.

      For a helpful discussion of this issue, see Tal Ilan, “The Attraction of Aristocratic Women to Pharisaism During the Second Temple Period,” Harvard Theological Review 88.1 (1995): 1-33.

      Shmuel Safrai’s JP article “Were Women Segregated in the Ancient Synagogue?” may also be of interest.

      1. Jusqu’où pouvait aller le rôle des femmes dans le Temple et particulièrement en ce qui concerne l’enseignement de la Torah? Existait il des femmes qui enseignaient la loi?

Leave a Reply

  • Shmuel Safrai [1919-2003]

    Shmuel Safrai [1919-2003]

    Professor and Rabbi Shmuel Safrai died on July 16, 2003. He was buried the following day in a section of Jerusalem's Har ha-Menuhot Cemetery reserved for faculty of the Hebrew University. His grave is only a few feet from the grave of his close friend…
    [Read more about author]

  • JP Content

  • Suggested Reading

  • Hospitality Heritage of the ChurchPetros Petra WordplayHistorical Jesus a Tanna FIDeliver Us From Evil6 Stone Water JarsEnemies of the HarvestWere Women Segregated?Luke 9-51-56—A Hebrew FragmentUnlocking the Synoptic ProblemNew Portrait of SalomeInsulting God's High PriestLoving BothMedieval JargonBeating the (Thorny) Bushes title 2Gergesa, Gerasa, or GadaraPG‘Everything Written…in the Psalms About Me’ (Luke 24-44)And OR In Order To RemarryAnti-Jewish TendenciesScribal ErrorsAllegro to ZeitlinTwena With All Due RespectTorah in the Sermon on the MountBethsaida 002Flusser Times of the GentilesIf Your Eye Be Single cover imageIntro to SynopticThe Names of Jerusalem in the Synoptic Gospels and ActsStewards of God's KeysBy the Finger of GodPower of ParablesTrees of LifeBest Long-TermFlusser Parables of Ill ReputeNew International JesusReich Design and MaintenanceSafrai Synagogue CenturionNun GergesaThe Social Jesus-Beyond and Individualist ReadingSabbath BreakersNeot KedumimWealth of Herod the GreatGood Morning, ElijahMiraculous CatchSalted With FireJewish Laws of Purity in Jesus' DayMidrash in the New TestamentAesop's Fables and the Parables of the SagesJesus’ Temptation and Its Jewish BackgroundOstracon From Qumran FlusserOrigins of Jesus' Dominical TitleDid Jesus Make Food Clean?Evidence of Pro-Roman Leanings in the Gospel of MatthewA Body, Vultures & SoMBinding and Loosingספר פתרון תורהPilgrimage in the Time of Jesus coverThe Appearance of Jesus-Hairstyles and BeardsA Farewell to the Emmaus RoadDid Jesus Wear a KippahDid Jesus Save the Life of an Adultress?Tangled Up in TecheletThey Know Not What They DoCenturion and the SynagogueWhat Is the Leaven of the PhariseesDoes God Play Scrabble?Role of Women in the Temple