In describing one of the TV presentations on the Trial of Jesus last
Friday(?), I mentioned that it showed an illustration of the Temple
Precinct showing the outer court where Jesus supposedly upset the money
changers. I remembered the illustration as showing an outer court on the
east side of the Temple Precinct, but then I couldn't find any supporting
illustrations on my first scan of the Internet.
Well, now I find a helpful and extensive article by Lambert Dolphin on
Second Temple Times, at
>Herod's enlargements to the Temple Mount are the subject of vigorous
>discussion and debate in Israel in our time.
He also provides an extensive quote from Prof. George Knight of
Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene, Texas that includes a verbal summary of
Herod's Temple precinct based on Josephus. In his reconstruction, the
expansion went east and west rather than north and south, as some other
reconstructions have it. By those reconstructions, the East wall may have
extended considerably farther into the Kidron Valley than at present. This
large eastern court is depicted in the Encyclopedia Judaica and looks very
different from the Temple Precinct as reconstructed, say, by the Oxford
NRSV (Map 9), which envisions a longer N-S axis but doesn't leave much
space between the entrance to the inner Temple and the Eastern Wall of the
The illustration I saw in the History Channel video depicted a large Court
of the Gentiles on a lower terrace that I think must have been along the
inside of the Eastern Wall. This would make sense if the Eastern Wall had
been rebuilt with its base further down the western slopes of Kidron
Valley. But if the present Eastern Wall was later rebuilt in its present
position higher up the slope, then surely there should be archeological
evidence of the footings of the old massive walls further down the slope.
Testing this theory is of course limited today because of the enormous
number of burials on the west slope of the Kidron just outside of the
sealed-up East Gate of the Temple Precinct, responding to the legend that
when the Christ reappears, he will appear first at that Eastern Gate, and
those buried there will, according to the legend, be among the first raised
up to heaven.
All of this is of at least background interest to understand the staging of
the "Temple Incident" by Jesus, and how close they actually were to the
entrance to the Temple itself. The closer the money changers were to the
entrance to the Temple entrance, the more nervous the Temple authorities
would be about any disturbances in the area. Also, visibility to porticos
and observation posts on the adjacent Antonia Fortress would be of importance.
Any other info about this?
Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
Northern Arizona University