8 THE TEMPLE OF JERUSALEM -At The time of Jesus the third Temple built and by far
the grandest of all. Its construction started 19 years before the birth of
Christ, by the order of King Herod The Great, and was not completed until A.D.
64. It stood 150 feet high above ground level and was decorated with much
gold. The area spread over 35 acres in size was surrounded by a huge wall.
Temple was built because he was determined that he would please his Jewish
subjects and show off his style of kingship to the Romans by making the
Jerusalem Temple larger and more magnificent than it had ever been. He
embarked on an extensive remodelling of the Temple, built on the existing
site of the former Temples. Being 15 storeys high, it captured the imagination
of the world of that day. His most notable contribution was the magnificent
stonework of the Temple platform that was greatly enlarged. Herod surrounded
the whole enclosure with magnificent porches, particularly the royal corridor
along the southern wall. Through the Huldah gates (named after a prophetess),
double and triple arches, worshipers were able to go up through enclosed
passageways into the court of the Gentiles. Greek inscriptions separated this
court from the court of the women and the holier inner courts of men and the
priests. Each court was more exclusive than the one outside it. If a stranger entered any part of the Temple,
they would be killed.
As Jesus left The Temple, His disciples remarked to Him about the beauty of The Temple. Jesus dismissed discussing its magnificence. He told them it would soon be torn down. His prophecy was fulfilled less than 40 years later in 70 A.D. when the Romans pillaged Jerusalem, because of many rebellions. He also warned His group to flee when this happened which actually saved their lives. The Romans carried off the silver and golden furniture and the gold decorations in the walls and on the ceilings melted amongst the stones when the Temple was set on fire. The steps south of the Temple, where Jesus would have taught on several occasions, have now been excavated and reconstructed.
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