The journey began in the Land of Goshen where the Israelites lived and took them to Sinai, where, at the foot of Mount Horeb, the Tabernacle was made and the tribes organized themselves according to a divinely prescribed order. After having spent 40 years in the wilderness they reached the Plains of Moab, ready to cross over the Jordan into the Promised Land.
We are told that it was eleven days journey from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea (Deut. 1.2). It would be a mistake however to assume that they went there directly, as that part of the journey appears to have taken almost a year (Deut. 2.14). This delay accords well with a detour over to the coast of the Gulf of Aqaba necessitated by a verse in Deuteronomy 1.1, which has Moses speaking to the children of Israel, “in the plain opposite Suph (the Red Sea), between Paran, Tophel, Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahab.” Dizahab is almost universally identified with the present-day Dahab on the east coast of the Sinai peninsula, about forty seven miles or seventy five km from Mount Sinai (see Slide 24). From here, they would have journeyed inland to Hazeroth, where they stayed for at least seven days, the period for which Miriam was shut out of the camp with leprosy (Num. 12.15). Their journey then brought them to Kadesh Barnea. They had now reached the border of the Promised Land and twelve spies (one for each tribe) were sent to report on conditions there. Because of the lack of faith evident in their report, despite the encouragement of Joshua and Caleb, they were prevented from entering the Land and left to wander in the desert for the next thirty-eight years. Towards the end of their wanderings, they appear from the itinerary in Numbers 33, to have returned to Kadesh via Ezion Geber, present-day Eilat, at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba. Moses requested permission from the King of Edom to pass by the Kings Highway but was refused. They then passed on to Mount Hor, where Aaron was buried. The route then goes from Mount Hor to Zalmonah, Punon, Oboth, Ije-Abarim in the border of Moab, Dibon-Gad, Almon-diblathaim, and to the mountains of Abarim before Nebo, where Moses died in the plains of Moab by the Jordan near Jericho.
With the stern jagged granite peak from which God spoke as its backdrop, the four-sided camp, with the Tabernacle in its center, stood on the plain in the divinely prescribed order. Each side of the encampment was shared by three tribes under the standard of the leading tribe for that group.
Judah, Issachar and Zebulon camped on the east side under the standard of Judah. Reuben, Simeon and Gad were on the south side under the standard of Reuben. On the west side were Ephraim, Manasseh and Benjamin under the standard of Ephraim, while on the north were the tribes of Dan, Asher and Naphthali under the standard of Dan. Inside this sea of tents was a narrow line of tents that belonged to the priestly families. On the east were those of Moses and Aaron, while on the south, was the family of Kohath. The family of Gershon encamped on the west, while the family of Merari had their row of tents in the north. All these surrounded the Tabernacle, the movable sanctuary over which rested a pillar of cloud that shaded the entire camp from the intense desert sun (Ps. 105.39). During the year-long stay under Mount Horeb, the Israelites were transformed from a shapeless mass of people into a nation whose progress through the desert was prescribed down to the minutest detail and whose discipline would be the envy of the sternest military commander. From a scene such as this, the Ark commenced its wanderings.
The Bible presents a vivid picture of the final encampment of the Israelites outside the land that had been promised them. Here, in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, we can almost see the lines of tents standing around the Tabernacle in this comparatively lush corner of the river valley.
It is the last of the forty-five stations enumerated in Numbers 33 (vs. 48,49). The sites of Abel Shittim and Beth Jesimoth would have been located here at either end of this well irrigated stretch of plain bordering the east bank of the Jordan. This dramatic view of the Israelites poised for the long awaited entry to the Promised Land formed part of the panorama seen first by Balaam, and shortly afterwards by Moses, from the lofty mountain tops above. The distance of 2,000 cubits (0.61 km.) that the Israelites were commanded to leave between themselves and the Ark ensured that it could be clearly seen. As soon as the feet of the priests that carried the Ark touched the waters of the Jordan, the river “stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan” (Josh. 3.16). Zaretan was obviously a well-known landmark and Tell es-Saidiyeh, an imposing mound in the centre of the Rift Valley has been tentatively proposed as the site of this Biblical city. Adam itself, has been identified with Tell Damiya, some 18 miles or 30 km. from the place of the Israelite crossing opposite Jericho and where there is a bridge known as the Adam Bridge today. If this identification is correct, the Israelites had a considerably long stretch of dry riverbed over which they could cross in safety. In modern times, the river Jordan has been blocked on a number of occasions by collapsed cliffs and mud, caused by earthquakes. In 1267, a large mound fell into the river near Damiya blocking its flow for 16 hours. It was also in Damiya, in the earthquake of 1927, that a mudslide cut off the river, this time for 24 hours.
In this reconstruction drawing, the northern side of Solomon’s Temple has been cut away to allow the details of the interior to be seen. The Temple measured 60 cubits long, 20 cubits wide and 30 cubits high (103 by 34 by 52 ft. or 31.5 by 10.5 by 15.75 m.).
In front of the Temple, to the east, stood the bronze Laver or Yam (Hebrew – sea), which rested on twelve bronze oxen. This enormous basin contained 2.000 baths, the equivalent of 16,000 gallons of water and was used by the priests in their ceremonial ablutions. On either side of the Temple were five smaller lavers, which rested on elaborate wheeled bases. Although no altar is described in the description of Solomon’s Temple given in 1 Kings 7 and 8, an altar of brass is mentioned in passing in 1 Kings 8.64 and detailed in the other description of the Temple of Solomon in 2 Chronicles 4.1. Here it is recorded that it measured 20 cubits square and 10 cubits high. Three levels of chambers surrounded the Temple on three sides. The walls of the Sanctuary were built so that ledges were created on which the floors of these chambers could rest. Two bronze pillars called Yachin (He shall establish) and Boaz (in him is strength) supported the Porch. This Porch or Ulam stood in front of the Sanctuary and was 20 cubits long and 10 cubits wide. In the Temple built by Solomon, the Porch must have stood at least 30 cubits high, if you add the height of the pillars and their capitals. The entrance through a wooden door would have given access to the Holy (Heichal), which was 40 cubits long, 20 cubits wide and 30 cubits high. Here the walls were of cedar wood, carved with motifs of buds and open flowers. The floor was of fir wood overlaid with gold. Although in the Tabernacle, the Table of Showbread stood on the north side, here both it and the Incense Altar are shown in the middle of the Holy. This is because the description of Solomon’s Temple records five golden lampstands as standing on either side of the Holy. The Holy was separated from the Most Holy by a partition made of olive wood carved with motifs of cherubim, palm trees and flowers overlaid with gold. The Holy of Holies (Most Holy) was 20 cubits long, wide and high. The Ark of the Covenant stood in its specially carved place on the rock (1 Kings 8.6,21), under the wings of two large cherubim.
The beautiful model in this photograph shows what the original Solomon’s Temple would have looked like according to the description in the Book of Kings.
The most impressive exterior part of Solomon’s Temple was the Porch. Two bronze pillars called Yachin (He shall establish) and Boaz (in him is strength) supported the Porch. This Porch or Ulam stood in front of the Sanctuary and was 20 cubits long and 10 cubits wide. The Porch must have stood at least 30 cubits high, if you add the height of the pillars (18 cubits) and their capitals. The entrance through a wooden door would have given access to the inner sanctuary. In front of the Temple stood the bronze Laver or Yam (Hebrew – sea), which rested on twelve bronze oxen. This enormous basin contained 2.000 baths, the equivalent of 16,000 gallons of water and was used by the priests in their ceremonial ablutions. On either side of the Temple were five smaller lavers, which rested on elaborate wheeled bases. Although no altar is described in the description of Solomon’s Temple given in 1 Kings 7 and 8, an altar of brass is mentioned in passing in 1 Kings 8.64 and detailed in the other description of the Temple of Solomon in 2 Chronicles 4.1. Here it is recorded that it measured 20 cubits square and 10 cubits high. Three levels of chambers surrounded the Temple on three sides. The walls of the Sanctuary were built so that ledges were created on which the floors of these chambers could rest.
Nehemiah was the great reformer who rallied the people to repair the walls of Jerusalem that were broken down in the Babylonian destruction of 586 B.C., giving the city a new lease of life.
Chapter 3 of the Book of Nehemiah gives a very detailed description of the city walls and its many gates that were repaired in fifty two days. Many archaeological remains of the period have been found and used to achieve a realistic picture of Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah. Using a beautifully crafted model, it is possible to trace the walls, starting at the Sheep Gate that was built by Eliashib the High Priest along with other priests and ending at the wall section between the Tower of the Corner and the Sheep Gate, that was repaired by goldsmiths and merchants. Each building section mentioned in Nehemiah 3 is marked on the chart. On completion of the work, Nehemiah led a ceremony of dedication. Two companies of singers and instrumentalists walked on the walls in opposite directions, to meet over the Prison Gate on the north side of the city, ready to enter the Temple Mount through the Sheep Gate.
When he was in Jerusalem, Jesus taught in the Temple on a daily basis. This teaching took place, not in the Temple building itself, but in the Court of the Women, also called the Treasury.
The Court of the Women was so-called, not because its use was solely reserved for women but because this was the farthest they were allowed to proceed into the Temple. The Court of the Women measured 135 cubits square, which gives a surface of 52,900 sq. feet or 5,023 sq. m. Israelite men could proceed through the Nicanor Gate (in the center of the picture) into the Court of the Israelites to bring their sacrifices. Women, who had come to purify themselves after childbirth, as Mary did (Luke 2.24), were allowed to stand in the side opening and watch the sacrifices being offered on the altar. It was in this court also that, when Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (Luke 2.22), they met with Simeon and Anna the prophetess. On the left, we see two of the thirteen trumpet-shaped boxes for monetary offerings, which were placed under the colonnade which ran round the Court of the Women. It was probably into one of these that the poor widow dropped her two mites – very small copper coins (Mark 12:42; Luke 21:2). Four towering golden lampstands were set up in the Court of the Women which cast their light over the whole city, lighting up every courtyard in Jerusalem. Each of these lampstands had four bowls which were reached by four ladders on which stood four youths of priestly families who filled the bowls with oil. . The strong impression on the people made by this spectacular tableau must have been in the mind of Jesus when he uttered the words “I am the light of the world” (John 8. 12).
Our classic reconstruction drawing “Jerusalem in 30 A.D.” has been used as a base on which to show the Way to Golgotha. Five stages in Christ’s last journey can be identified, beginning at Gethsemane and culminating at either of the two sites identified as the place of the empty tomb.
1. After he was betrayed by Judas, Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. According to the Gospel of John 18.13, he was then brought first to the Palace of the High Priest, Annas, which we have tentatively identified with the Palatial Mansion, found in the excavations of the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem. 2. Having been found worthy of death, Jesus was beaten and spat upon in the Palace of the High Priest, where Peter also denied that he knew him. Then, as the Jews had no authority to execute anybody, they sent Jesus to Pilate, who was Roman Governor at the time. Pilate’s official residence (or praetorium) in Jerusalem was Herod the Great’s Palace, which the Romans had appropriated after the latter’s death. 3. When the Roman Governor heard then that Jesus was from Galilee, he sent him to Herod Antipas, who was tetrarch of Galilee and Perea and in Jerusalem for the Passover season. His residence was the old Hasmonean Palace, which stood halfway between Herod’s Palace and the Temple Mount. 4. Although Herod Antipas treated Jesus with cruel derision, he could not find him guilty of the charges laid against him. After dressing him in an elegant robe, which mocked his claims to kingship, Herod Antipas had him retrace his steps back to Pilate in the Praetorium. 5. Standing again before Pilate, the chief priests and the elders accused Jesus of making himself a king. Pilate was under such pressure that he had to give in and deliver Jesus up to be crucified. Bearing the crushing weight of his own cross, until relieved by Simon of Cyrene, Jesus was led away to a place called Golgotha (Place of a Skull). There are two main proposals for the location of Golgotha: the Holy Sepulchre (half way down the left side of the drawing) and the Garden Tomb (on top left of drawing). Both sites are problematic, as the traditional Tomb of Christ in the Holy Sepulchre has been destroyed about 1000 years ago and the Garden Tomb was not a newly hewn tomb. Though the last resting place of Christ remains tantalizingly elusive however, there is no uncertainty as to the history-defining miracle that took place within it. As the angel said to the three women: “He has risen! He is not here.”