All of us have read Peter’s denial of Messiah in the Gospels, but an interesting fact about the historical background of the Temple and this recorded event in the gospels could be very well pointing to showcase that all of the four gospels were in fact written originally in Hebrew.
The Gospel Accounts
All of the gospel accounts agree that Yeshua‘s trial in front of the Jewish leaders had come to a conclusion by the time of the “cockcrow”.
Mat 26:75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
Mar 14:72 And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.
Luk 22:61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
Joh 18:27 Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.
Historical issues with the Gospel account
Although all of the Gospel authors mention the “cockcrow”, Historically, no fowls were allowed in or around Jerusalem when the temple stood. The restriction may have been instituted to reduce the noise or annoyance once Temple ordinances were enacted. The Mishnah which records the background and history of the temple period says the following:
It is forbidden to rear small herd animals in the Land of Israel, but it is permitted to rear them in Syria or in the wildernesses of the Land of Israel. It is forbidden to rear fowls in Jerusalem because of the “Holy Things” Mishnah Bava Kamma 7:7
The “Cock’s Crow” inside the Temple precinct
But in another section, the Mishnah records (in contradiction to what we saw above) that there was a “cock’s crow” in Jerusalem which signaled a particular time to enact certain temple activities. It records the following:
Every day they would remove [the ashes from] the altar at the cock’s crow(מִקְּרוֹת הַגֶּבֶר) or close to that time, either before or after. But on Yom HaKippurim from midnight, and on the festivals at the [end of the] first watch; And the cock’s crow(מִקְּרוֹת הַגֶּבֶר) would not arrive before the Temple court was full of Israelites. Mishnah Yoma 1:8
Anyone who desired to remove the ashes from the altar used to rise early and bathe before the superintendent came. At what time did the superintendent come? He did not always come at the same time; sometimes he came just at cock-crow(מִקְּרוֹת הַגֶּבֶר), sometimes a little before or a little after. The superintendent would come and knock and they would open for him, and he would say to them, let all who have bathed come and draw lots. Mishnah Tamid 1:2
Once, Rabban Gamliel and the elders were reclining in the house of Boethus ben Zonin in Lod, and they were occupied in studying the laws of Pesach all that night, until the cock crowed(מִקְּרוֹת הַגֶּבֶר). They lifted the table, made themselves ready and went to the house of study [to pray]. Tosefta Pesachim 10:12
The Cock-crow mentioned here in these historical documents is not of a fowl as the words used here is “miqerot hagever” (מִקְּרוֹת הַגֶּבֶר) which means “Proclamation of the Man”, and may have been referred to as the Cock-Crow because of the timing of the call. This is thought to be a call signifying the end of the night watch, and the start of the final watch also known as the Third Watch. We see this in the gospel accounts as follows:
Mar 13:34,35 For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:
Luk 12:38 And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.
The cockcrowing mentioned above is used as one of the watches; The First Watch starting at evening (around 6pm), The Second Watch at midnight (12am) and The Third Watch also called cock-crow (around 3am to 4am).
In fact the Greek words used in the Gospel accounts of Peter’s Denial and Luke 12:38 is “alektor” (ἀλέκτωρ) and “fonay” (φωνή) can mean the voice of the rooster/chanticleer or one who sings/chants which could very well be connected to the Temple Services very easily.
If the “miqerot hagever” (מִקְּרוֹת הַגֶּבֶר) which means “Proclamation/call of the Man” is in fact connected to the Temple activities as seen above, we can easily assume that the use of the word “cock-crow” (alektorophōnia) could have been a misunderstanding / mistranslation of the “Proclamation made at the third watch” or simply a direct translation which later translators of Greek who did not know about the Temple Services used unwittingly. If so, it is most probable that all of the four Gospels were written in Hebrew and that there are many more such nuances and details lost in translation throughout the ages.