The Construction of the Temple
Made of marble and gold, Herod’s temple was taller than a fifteen-story building. Built on the exact location of Solomon’s temple and the temple Nehemiah constructed, it could accommodate hundreds of thousands of pilgrims at one time and was twice as large as the largest temple enclosure in Rome.
A thousand priests trained as masons by Herod worked on the temple, as did ten thousand highly skilled laborers using ten thousand wagons. Some limestone blocks of the supporting platform weighed more than five hundred tons.
The Eastern Wall
The Eastern wall followed the original line dating from Solomon’s days. The main feature in the wall, the Eastern Gate, was the original eastern entrance to the Temple Mount.
At one point, the walls of the temple rose more than 225 feet above the bottom of the Kidron Valley.
The South Wall
This wall was more than 900 feet long and more than 150 feet high. Pilgrims entered the temple primarily through this entrance “the Double Gates” after climbing the Southern Stairs, a broad staircase more than 200 feet wide.
The Western Wall
A common gathering place during Jesus’ time, this wall featured various architectural wonders and gates.
For example, Robinson’s Arch, one of the largest masonry arches (75 feet tall, more than 45 feet across) in the ancient world, supported a massive staircase that ran from the Tyropean Valley and the Lower City to the Royal Stoa (the place of buying and selling, the location of the temple treasury, and the Sanhedrin?s meeting place).
Massive ashlars, hand-shaped stones brought from the quarry nearly a mile away, were featured near the Western Wall as well. One 45-foot-long stone weighs nearly 600 tons. (See Mark 13:1-2; Luke 21:5).
The North Wall
The Antonia fortress was located here. Built by Herod the Great, this fortress guarded the northern side of Jerusalem and held Roman troops during Jesus? time who watched the temple activities.
Paul was probably brought to the Antonia after his arrest and defended himself on the stairs that apparently led to the fortress (Acts 21:27-40; 22:22-25).
The temple platform’s extension to the west required enormous retaining walls on the south and west. Some of the rocks used in the wall weighed more than five hundred tons each. The finished platform was divided into courts, which became increasingly more sacred the closer they were to the temple building itself.
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