In Acts 21:29, Paul was criticised for bringing an uncircumcised Greek into the temple courts. I was trying to find the OT regulation stipulating that Gentiles, aliens or the uncircumcised did not have access to the Temple/Tabernacle. Could you enlighten me? -- Simon Phillips (Edinburgh)

Maybe you cannot find the O.T. passage because it doesn't exist! I too have tried to find it in the Bible and also through a web search. But archaeologists have found notices (in Latin and Greek) from the Temple forbidding Gentiles from going any farther than "The Court of the Gentiles." Josephus, the Jewish historian, also mentions this. I myself have seen (in museums) some of the surviving warning stones from the temple.

There were of course strict rules about who could serve as a priest (Leviticus 21), but these are about the priesthood only. Isaiah 56 foretells a time when Gentiles have free access to the Temple. Just when they were first excluded from drawing near to offer sacrifice is unclear to me.

Perhaps one of my readers will be able to shed some light on this matter. For further study, you might also benefit from Alfred Edersheim, The Temple: Its Ministry and Services, Updated Edition (Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson, 1994).

This article is copyrighted and is for private use and study only. © 2004. Reprints or public distribution is prohibited without the express consent of Douglas Jacoby.