Jesus came to the Temple at a very young age and in Solomons Porch the boy argued with the rabbis, astonishing them with his questions and with his answers. He remained behind when his parents left, and when his worried mother at last found him he said to her enigmatically: Did you not know that I must be in my Fathers house? (Luke 2:49).
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The outer courts were enclosed by magnificent colonnades. Along the east side of the outer court ran what was called Solomons Colonnade; it was here that Jesus was seen walking during the Feast of the Dedication (Hanukkah) and teaching the multitudes.
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The most magnificent part of the Temple was the Royal Porch of Herod on the south side, where the Jesus at the age of 12 sat among the doctors of the law (Luke 2:46).
Another fifteen steps led up to the famous
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Anyone was allowed to enter the outer area, which was therefore called the Court of the Gentiles. The actual Temple was enclosed by a balustrade, and at the entrances to it were warning notices, one of them is now in a museum in Istanbul. It says that foreigners have freedom of access provided they do not go beyond the balustrade which went all around the central edifice and which no uncircumcised could cross without incurring the death penalty.
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Further steps led up to the actual temple, a comparatively small building. A priceless curtain, embroidered with a map of the known world, concealed from view what lay beyond, and none except the priest on duty was allowed to go farther.
The Jewish Temple in the First Century A.D.
Before long it became a customary meeting-place for the early church (see Acts 3:11; 5:12).
It contained the golden altar at which incense was offered and next to it the seven-branched candelabrum and the table with the twelve loaves of shewbread, which were replaced by fresh ones every sabbath. Beyond it, behind another large curtain, lay the Holy of Holies, which none except the high priest was allowed to enter, and he only on the Day of Atonement. A stone designated the place where once the Ark of the Covenant had stood.
, to which Mary had brought the child at the time of his presentation; this led through the Court of the Men to that of the priests, which had in its center the altar for the burnt offerings and to the left of it a large basin called the Brazen Sea resting upon twelve bulls cast in bronze.
All the cloisters were double, and the pillars to them belonging were twenty-five cubits in height, and supported -the cloisters. These pillars were of one entire stone each of them, and that stone was white marble; and the roofs were adorned with cedar, curiously graven. The natural magnificence, and excellent polish, and the harmony of the joints in these cloisters, afforded a prospect that was very remarkable; nor was it on the outside adorned with any work of the painter or engraver. The cloisters -(of the outmost court) were in breadth thirty cubits, while the entire compass of it was by measure six furlongs, including the tower of Antonia; those entire courts that were exposed to the air were laid with stones of all sorts (Jewish War 5. 5. 2).
In the western wall was the main gate named the
Acts 3:11-12 Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomons, greatly amazed.
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The eastern portico was named after King Solomon and the part to the south, which overlooked the Valley of Kidron, was called Royal. On the east side the high corner was possibly the pinnacle of the temple, mentioned in the story of the temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4:5).
Today the Western Wall, the so-called Wailing Wall, is all that remains of the ancient walls of Herods Temple; one can still see the pilaster and the beginning of Robinsons Arch, which was part of a large viaduct leading to the upper city. Excavations in 1967, led by the well-known archaeologist Benjamin Mazar, revealed the cornerstone. Adjacent to it on the southern side remain traces of the road from which the pilgrims entered the gates.
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It is interesting that in the Middle East certain places have remained holy throughout the centuries, even if another religion may have taken possession of them. Today the Moslem Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is the prominent building where the Jewish temple once stood.
When Jesus came to Jerusalem, the Temple had just been marvelously rebuilt by Herod the Great. The Temple area had been enlarged to a size of about thirty-five acres. Around the Temple area were double colonnades.
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after the first procurator; it was decorated with the golden eagle as a sign that the Temple had been placed under the protection of Rome.
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It is one of the most original sayings of Jesus, in which he speaks of God for the first time as avi (My Father) which was an expression reserved for the Son of God.