First cleansing of the temple at the Passover
|13And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, 14And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; 16And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. 17And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. [*]Psalms 69:9 18Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? 19Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21But he spake of the temple of his body. 22When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.
For many people, their first view of the Temple Mount is from the Mount of Olives to the east. The most easily recognized area of Jerusalem; the Temple Mount is located within the walls on the eastern side of the Old City. The site of the Temple of Solomon, and of the later Temple built by Herod the Great (which is the temple Jesus visited), is now an enormous stone platform upon which stands the golden covered Dome of the Rock and the Al Aksa Mosque.
Here Jews come to pray at the Western Wall; here Muslims come to pray at the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aksa Mosque. Here Israeli soldiers and the Arab Temple Mount Police protect what may rightly be called the most revered spot on the face of the earth.
Solomon built the First Temple on the threshing floor that his father David had purchased from Arunah the Jebusite (2 Samuel 24:18 25). The site was hallowed as the place where God stayed the hand of Abraham as he was about to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah (2 Chronicles 3:1), and where God stopped the plague against the Israelites (2 Samuel 24:15 18). In addition to the Temple and its associated buildings, Solomon built other magnificent structures between the City of David and the Temple Mount.
Southern Steps of the Temple
The main public access to the Temple was from the southern steps. People entered and exited through a double and triple gate, together called the Huldah Gate. These gates had to handle enormous crowds during feast days; estimates as high as 500,000 people at a time. The triple arched gate was the entrance and the double arched gate served as the exit. Although the double and triple gates have been filled in, you can still see their outlines in the walls near the well-preserved steps of the monumental staircase.
The triple gate to the east led to a tunnel that brought worshippers up to the Temple and the columned porches. To leave the Temple they would exit the double gate on the west and go down a staircase 4 times larger than the entry staircase, since everyone was leaving at the same time. The steps below the wider staircase are well preserved and are one of the few places you can walk where you are sure Jesus walked. An interesting exception to the rule about entry and exit gates regarded mourners. According to the Talmud, they were to go in and out against the traffic in order that people would know of their loss. People would then extend their condolences by saying, “May He who dwells in this House give you comfort.”
In this area we will also see ritual baths from the time of Christ, important inscriptions from the Temple, the street that runs inside the Western Wall tunnels, and the ruins from the Roman destruction of Jerusalem.