Visiting the Temple

Jun 02 2020

Jesus’ visit to the temple would begin on the southern steps. He would use the entrances for the common people including the double and triple gates, known as the Huldah Gates. Jesus did not have access to the VIP entrances.

Archeologists have measured the Temple Mount platform to the following dimensions–east 470m, north 315m, west 485m, and south 280m.+ The total area exceeded 130,000 square meters.

On the northwest end of site stood the imposing Antonia Fortress. Josephus describes the scene:

A Roman cohort was permanently quartered there [at Antonia], and at the festivals took up positions in arms around the porticoes to watch the people and repress any insurrectionary movement. For if the temple lay as a fortress over the city, Antonia dominated the temple… (War 5.245)

No less imposing, the Royal Stoa stood over the southern side of the platform. Jesus would have entered one of the southern entrances, proceeded under the Royal Stoa, then up through tunnels 14m long emerging in the southern courtyard between the temple sanctuary complex and the Royal Stoa.

In the center stood Herod’s walled sanctuary complex including a women’s court, a men’s court, storerooms, an altar and the temple itself.

On the west, north, and east there were porticos where people could gather. Jesus taught in these porticoes, visibly surrounded by the religious and political powers of his day.


+ Mark A. Chancey and Adam L. Porter, “Archeology of Roman Palestine,” Near Eastern Archaeology 64, no. 4 (2001): 164–203.

Flavius Josephus, Jewish War, Books IV-VII, trans. Henry St. John Thackery, vol. 3, 9 vols., Loeb Classical Library 210 (London; Cambridge: William Heinemann; Harvard University Press, 1961).

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