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Experiencing the Temple that Yeshua Knew

In the second month of the second year (535 BCE), amid great public excitement and rejoicing, the foundations of the Second Temple were laid. After several delays, the Second Temple was ready for consecration in the spring of 516 BCE. It would stand as the center of worship for the Jewish people for the next 586 years -- until it was destroyed by the Roman armies in 70 CE.[i] Judaism has now existed 1,943 years without a Temple.

During the 586 years it existed, the Second Temple was the center of Jewish life and the focus of many of the thoughts of the Jewish people. Whenever Jews prayed, they faced the Temple in Jerusalem, no matter where they were in the world. They built their synagogues facing the Temple whenever possible. Jews from around the world sent their offerings (money & gifts) to the Temple.

In addition to the religious functions of the Temple, it was also the seat of government, heart of the justice system and the financial center of the nation. To truly understand the importance of the role of the Second Temple today, we would have to view it as an institution equal to White House, Congress, Supreme Court, Vatican and Federal Reserve System -- all rolled into one. It was the center of financial, political, justice and religious power for the Jewish people. Its importance can be sensed by reading the Mishnah, the Oral Law, which spends more time discussing the Temple than anything else.

Millions of Jews from the Diaspora visited the Second Temple, at least once in their lives. The Torah commanded the Jewish people to travel to the Jerusalem Temple three times every year to celebrate three festivals. ELOHIYM[ii] commanded the Israelites:

“Three times a year shall all your men appear before YAHWEH[iii] your ELOHIYM in the place that ELOHIYM will choose [referring presumably to the Temple in Jerusalem], on the festivals of Pesah (Passover), Shavuot (Pentecost - the Feast of Weeks), and Sukkot (the Festival of Booths). They shall not appear empty handed. Each shall bring his own gift, appropriate to the blessing which YAHWEH your ELOHIYM has given you” (Deuteronomy 16:16).

Normally a city of 100 to 200 thousand people, three times a year on the pilgrim festivals of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles, Jerusalem’s population swelled to 1 million people (the exact number depending on the source of population estimates). On these occasions this small ancient city had to cope not only with the throng of people but also their sacrificial animals and offerings, necessitating temporary increases in food supplies, accommodation, ritual bathing facilities, water, and all aspects of commerce.[iv] The number of Jewish pilgrims to the Temple was computed by the governor Gesius Florus (64-66), who counted 256,500 paschal lambs at one Passover festival; allowing ten persons to one lamb, this would make 2,565,000 pilgrims (Josephus, "B. J." vi. 9).[v] 

Therefore, three times per year, Jews living in Galilee, Samaria and Judea would witness masses of their fellow Jews traveling through their lands headed to or returning from the Temple. This would have been something to behold -- and something Yeshua would have been aware of, anticipated and participated many times during his entire life.

The importance of the Temple in the life of Yeshua is something that is not understood by many people today. Not being aware of and understanding the role of the Second Temple in Yeshua’s Jewish world while reading the Bible, would be like reading American history without knowing anything about the roles of the White House, Congress, Federal Reserve and IRS. But learning about the role of the Second Temple will elevate your understanding of the Jewish people, Yeshua and his followers to a new level.

Twenty-six verses mention Yeshua being at the Second Temple in the Gospels and twenty-six in Acts mention the apostles and Paul being there. The verse about Yeshua reveal the following:

● Yeshua went into the Temple.
● Yeshua taught daily at the Temple.
● Yeshua talked to the High Priest, chief priests, scribes & elders at the Temple.

Before you continue, please click on the following link and print the two diagrams of Herod’s Temple (be sure to print them in “Landscape”) --

You will find the diagrams very helpful, so please take time to locate the places in the Temple mentioned below on the diagrams as you read.

The first thing Yeshua would do when he went to the Temple is approach the public entrance on the south side of the Temple Mount complex. If he was bringing an animal to sacrifice, he would turn the animal over to the priests who would examine it and take it (many Jews would purchase their animal at the Temple). Yeshua would then go to the mikveh and ritually immerse (baptize) himself in order to be ritually pure, which was required for entrance into the Temple complex. Next, Yeshua would head to the Huldah gates (see second diagram on the lower right side). After ascending a staircase three stories in height, and passing through the gate, Yeshua would find himself in the "Court of the Gentiles." Except for bringing an animal, this would have most probably been the steps he took every time he went to the Temple.

When Yeshua offered sacrifices or prayed at the Temple, he would have walked through the Beautiful Gate, walked across the Court of the Women, through the Nicanor Gate into the Court of Israel. If you had wanted to hear Yeshua or his apostles teaching at the Temple, you would most likely have found them at Solomon’s Porch.

Now I want to invite you to enjoy and participate in an experience that will not only expand your knowledge of the Second Temple, but it can be a very enriching spiritual experience too. Please watch the two short videos that take a little less than 14 minutes to view both. I know you will find it a very rewarding experience. The second video has some Hebrew writing, but it is not necessary to understand it to benefit from what you see. Think about the journey of Yeshua described above and picture yourself walking with him -- and seeing the Temple through his eye.

To begin the first video click on --

To begin the second video click on --

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May you be empowered!

[ii] ELOHIYM is a transliteration of the Hebrew word translated “God” in English translations.
[iii] YAHWEH is the transliteration of the Hebrew word for the name of ELOHIYM.


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