704. Herod's Temple

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Matthew 24:11And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. (Matthew 24:1). Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple.
This is what is commonly known as Herod’s temple, and was a restoration or reconstruction of the temple of Zerubbabel; that structure being taken down piecemeal, and this gradually substituted for it. It was, however, larger and more splendid than the temple of Zerubbabel; its courts occupied more ground than those which surrounded that old temple, and far exceeded them in magnificence According to the Talmud the entire temple area was five hundred cubits square Around the edge of this square, and against the massive stone wall which enclosed it, cloisters were built, (1, 2, 3, 4,1) their cedar roofs being supported by rows of Corinthian columns of solid marble.
The cloisters on the north, west, and east sides (l, 2, 3) were alike in height and width, the columns which upheld the roof being twenty-five cubits high, and the halls themselves thirty cubits wide. The colonnade on the east (3) was called Solomon’s Porch, and is mentioned in John 10:2323And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch. (John 10:23); Acts 3:11; 5:1211And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering. (Acts 3:11)
12And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch. (Acts 5:12)
. The cloisters on the south (4) formed an immense building known as the Stoa Basilica, or King’s Porch. It was much wider than the cloisters on the other sides, and consisted of a nave and two aisles. This immense building, with its high nave, its broad aisles, and its marble columns, presented a grand appearance. Josephus says: “Its fineness, to such as had not seen it, was incredible; and to such as had seen it was greatly amazing.” The southeastern corner of this building is supposed to have been the “pinnacle of the temple,” where the devil took Jesus in the Temptation. See note on Matthew 4:55Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, (Matthew 4:5) (#635). In these cloisters the Levites resided. Here the doctors of the law met to hear and answer questions. See Luke 2: 46. They were favorite places of resort for religionists of different sorts to discuss various points of doctrine. Jesus often spoke here to the people; and after his death his followers met here. See Acts 2:4646And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, (Acts 2:46).
North of the center of the large area enclosed by these cloisters stood the sacred enclosure of the temple, its boundaries extending nearer to the cloisters on the west than to Solomon’s Porch on the east. The space surrounding this enclosure was the Court of the Gentiles (5), and was open to all comers. It was paved with stones of various colors. It was here that the cattle-dealers and money-changers desecrated the house of God. See note on Matthew 21:1212And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, (Matthew 21:12) (#688). This court was also called the Outer Court, the Lower Court, and, by the rabbins usually, the “Mountain of the Lord’s house.”
The enclosure of the temple proper was on a terrace about six cubits higher than the Court of the Gentiles. It was approached by steps, and was surrounded by a wall three cubits high (6). This wall was designed to shut off the Gentiles, and there were pillars erected in the wall at certain distances with inscriptions in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, warning all Gentiles to come no further under penalty of death. The Jews, on one occasion, accused Paul of having brought “Greeks” up the steps; and into the sacred enclosure, in violation of the standing order. See Acts 21:2828Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place. (Acts 21:28). To this wall of separation Paul is thought to refer: “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.” Ephesians 2:1414For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; (Ephesians 2:14). At the top of the terrace, and going entirely around it, was a platform (7) ten cubits wide extending to another wall.
In the eastern side of the latter wall was a gate (8) of elegant workmanship, forty cubits wide, and supposed to have been the “Gate Beautiful,” mentioned in Acts 3:2,102And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; (Acts 3:2)
10And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him. (Acts 3:10)
. It was sometimes called the “Gate Susan,” because it had a representation of the town of Susa sculptured in relief on it. Though there were gates on the north and south sides, this was the grand entrance to the Court of the Women (9), which was the general place of public worship at the time of the sacrifices. It received its name, not because it was exclusively appropriated to the women, but because the women were not allowed to go beyond it. There were smaller courts in the four corners of this; and on the north, east, and west sides were galleries supported by columns. In front of these columns were distributed the eleven treasure chests of the temple, in addition to the two at the gate Susan, for the half-shekel tax. It was into one of these that the poor widow threw her two mites. Mark 12:41-4241And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 42And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. (Mark 12:41‑42); Luke 21:1-21And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. 2And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. (Luke 21:1‑2). It was near these treasure chests that the incidents recorded in the eighth chapter of John took place. See John 8:2020These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come. (John 8:20).
West of the Court of the Women, separated from it by a wall, and on a terrace higher still, was the Court of the Israelites (10). This was a narrow hall completely surrounding the Court of the Priests, and had cloisters on all sides supported by beautiful columns. The rooms of these cloisters were devoted to various purposes connected with the service of the temple. This court was entered from the Court of the Women by a flight of semicircular steps and through the Gate of Nicanor. The session room of the Sanhedrim was in the south-east corner of the Court of the Israelites.
On a terrace fifteen steps higher still, and separated from the Court of the Israelites by a low stone balustrade, was the Court of the Priests (11). In the eastern part of this was the great altar of burnt offering (12), directly west of which arose the Great Temple itself. The building was of white marble, and some of the foundation-stones were of immense size. It was divided into two parts, forming the Holy Place (14) and the Most Holy Place (15), the two being separated by a veil. See note on Matthew 27:5151And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; (Matthew 27:51) (#733). The internal arrangements of these two sacred places were probably like those of the temple of Zerubbabel. See note on Ezra 6:3-43In the first year of Cyrus the king the same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof threescore cubits; 4With three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber: and let the expenses be given out of the king's house: (Ezra 6:3‑4) (#375). Above these were rooms used for various purposes, and on the sides were three stories of chambers. In the front part of the building was the porch (13), which projected a short distance beyond the building, north and south, giving it this form: A striking feature in the general appearance of the temple and its various courts is the series of terraces; the different courts rising one above the other, until the temple itself was reached on a platform highest of all. The structure—the paved courts, the beautiful columns, the white marble cloisters, the gate-ways, which in themselves were high and massive buildings, and, crowning all, the white temple standing high above the rest, its front walls ornamented with thick plates of gold—produced an effect which was magnificent beyond description. See, further, note on Luke 21:55And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, (Luke 21:5) (#786).
1. The figures refer to the corresponding figures on the diagram. See next page.