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Herod's Temple and the "Temple Incident"

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  • Bob Schacht
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 15, 2004
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      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
      http://www.templemount.org/secondtmp.html. He observed,

      >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
      Flagstaff, AZ
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