A unique feature of our new guide book to the Temple Mount are two plans, one of the present-day Temple Mount and a corresponding map of the area in the first century, on which all the New Testament links are indicated. Comparing these two plans allows the visitor (or armchair traveler) to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and his disciples around the Temple.
This post also contains new images that have recently been added to our Image Library. Clicking on each of the watermarked images enables you to download a Powerpoint size copy (without the watermark, of course) for a small fee.
Most of the activities recorded in the New Testament took place in the Treasury, also known as the Court of the Women. When, for example, we read that Jesus taught in the Temple (Matthew 21.23; John 7.14,28; 8.2,20), he did not enter the Sanctuary itself because, as a non-Levite, he would not have been allowed inside this beautiful building which was reserved for priests only.
The Treasury was a court that was located to the east of the Temple itself, just below the Nicanor Gate.
This paved area looking out at the Mount of Olives was the place where the Treasury was located. It is an excellent place to meditate on the many events described in the New Testament that took place here.
This court is also called the Court of the Women, as that is as far as women were allowed to enter the Temple courts. It was in this court that the Presentation of Jesus and the meeting with Simeon and Anna the Prophetess (Luke 2.25–38) took place.
A view of the large Court of the Women, also known as the Treasury in the Gospels. This court was as far as women were allowed to proceed into the Temple. Four high towers, two of which we see here in this model, each carried four golden lamps which were lit during the Feast of Tabernacles. Jesus may have referred to these lights in John 8.12.
In this reconstruction drawing, we see the Temple, viewed from the east. It was surrounded by a court, called the Temple Court or azarah in Hebrew. In front of the Temple stood the Altar, the Laver (Basin) and the pillars and tables that were used in the preparation of sacrifices. Several gates and other buildings stood to the north and south of the Temple.
To the east of the Temple stood the Court of the Women (centre front). The Nicanor Gate stood in front of Herod’s Temple. It gave access to the Temple Courts from the Court of the Women.
In Luke 21.1-4 it is recorded that Jesus contrasted the gifts that the rich people gave with the two mites (Greek: lepta, singular: lepton) of the widow. How did he know that this widow had cast in two little coins? Thirteen wooden boxes with trumpet-shaped bronze funnels to guide the coins into the box were placed under the colonnades of the Court of the Women. This area was the actual Treasury. The sound these coins made against the metal would have indicated how much people offered to the Temple.
Two of the thirteen trumpet-shaped receptacles for monetary offerings placed under the colonnades that encircled the Court of the Women of Herod’s Temple Mount.
Another place shown on these maps of New Testament links in the guide book is the location of the Altar, which we commented on in a previous post. During the Feast of Tabernacles, a water-libation ceremony took place every evening, that was watched by many people standing in this Court of the Women. When the water that was drawn from the Siloam Pool in a golden vessel was poured out on the Altar, Jesus said: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink”, pointing out that faith in him was foreshadowed by this ceremony (John 7.37-38).
After drawing water from the Pool of Siloam, a priest and his procession would return to the Temple Mount, crossing the courts and heading for the Water Gate. The priest would then be greeted by three trumpet blasts on his way to the Altar to complete the water libation ceremony.
Associated with the Feast of Tabernacles was a daily ceremonial of water-drawing. The priest (on the left) who carried the flagon of water from the Siloam Pool to the Temple was joined on the Altar by another priest who carried the wine of the drink-offering. There were two silver bowls there, one on the west side of the Altar for the water and one on the east for the wine. The bowls were perforated on the bottom to allow the liquid to flow (most probably through pipes) down the Kedron Valley, the bowl for the wine having a wider hole as wine flows more slowly than water.
Golden lampstands on high tower-like constructions were lit, casting light over the whole city. Again, Jesus used this ceremony in his teaching when he said “I am the light of the world: (John 8.12).
One of four lampstands, each of which had four golden lamps, that stood in the Court of the Women. During the Rejoicing over the Water-drawing ceremony, the golden lamps on top of these massive towers were lit. The model portrays a young priest climbing a ladder to reach the the lamps in order to fill them with oil.
It was also in this Court of the Women that during the Triumphal Entry the children cried out in the Temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matthew 21.15).
Ater Judas had betrayed Jesus, knowing that he had condemned himself, he cast the thirty pieces of silver “in the Temple” (Mathhew 27.3-5). Again, that would not have happened in the Sanctuary itself, but in this court where the thirteen money boxes were located.
Continuing the tradition of Jesus’ teaching in the Treasury, the disciples taught here too on a daily basis. In Acts 5.20,42, we read that Peter and John were commanded to do so by an angel of the Lord.
The Temple, viewed from the east in this image, was surrounded by the Temple Court. On the east (centre front), was the large Court of the Women, also known in the Gospels as the Treasury, where both Jesus and the disciples used to teach.