Skip to main content

The Bet Midrash of the Second Temple

What if there was a building located in your town where you go and find God – and it was the only place like that on the Earth? What if it was literally the place where Heaven and Earth met? How would that affect your life?  How would that affect your town? That was how Yeshua and the Jewish people of his time viewed the Jerusalem Temple.

The Temple’s domination of Jewish thought was so powerful, that when the Mishnah (Oral Law) was written down in 200 CE, over two-thirds of which is related to the operation of a Temple that had not existed for over a century. The more we can learn about the Second Temple the better we can understand the world of Yeshua and his teachings. This is the first in a series of blogs about what Yeshua’s experience at the Temple would have been like.



Not only did religious Jews have access to the Temple Mount, it was open to ritually unclean Jews and God-fearing Gentiles. It is important to understand that none of the Temple ritual was performed on the Temple Mount; they took place within the Temple itself. The colonnades served as a gathering place for the people before and after worship, as well as those who ascended the Temple Mount to hear the words of the Torah.

Now it was the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Yeshua walked in the Temple, in Solomon’s porch. (John 10:22-23)

A bet midrash (house of study) was located on the Temple Mount, along with the Sanhedrin (highest court in the land). On the Shabbat and feast days, the Sanhedrin convened as an academic, rather than as a judicial body, and met in the bet midrash on the Temple Mount. For those wishing to hearing the greatest scholars of the Temple teach the Torah, the Temple’s bet midrash was the place to be.

Yeshua’s parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. When they had finished the days, as they returned, the boy Yeshua lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and his mother did not know it; but supposing him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought him among their relatives and acquaintances. So when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him. Now so it was that after three days they found him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. (Luke 2:41-46)

We now know where Yeshua would have been at the Temple and probably who those teachers were. In the two quotes above reveal that at the beginning of Yeshua’s adulthood and just before his crucifixion he was at the Temple. There is no doubt that between those two visits he made many other trips to the Temple and its bet midrash. It probably played a major role in his Torah education.

The bet midrash on the Temple Mount is also called the "Bet Ha-Midrash Ha-Gadol," the Great House of Study. It formed the center of learning, and was one of the oldest institutions, standing in close relation to the "Bet Din ha-Gadol," the High Court of Justice (Sanhedrin) in the Temple. There were many other houses of study located throughout the land in synagogues. Everyone knew that a synagogue could be transformed into a bet midrash. They also understood that no synagogue could be changed into a House of Worship (Meg. 26b, 27a) as long as the Temple stood.

Always keep in mind that Yeshua’s followers were call “talmidim” (students [disciples]), not “believers.” It is very clear that Yeshua was not only a great teacher of the Torah – he was also a great “talmid” (student) of the Torah too.

Shalom,
Jim Myers

SOURCES:
(1) The Jewish People in the First Century Volume Two: Historical Geography, Political History, Social Culture and Religious Life and Institutions; Edited by S. Safrai and M. Stern in co-operation with D. Flusser and E. C. van Unnik; © 1976 By Stichting Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum Testamentum; Fprtress Press, Philadelphia, PA; 865-866.

PS – If you found this information useful:

(1) Go to The Real Yeshua Facebook page by CLICKING HERE and “Like it.”

(2) Send this to others who care about Yeshua and want to do what He taught.

(3) Follow The Real Yeshua on Twitter by CLICKING HEREand you will be notified every time we post something about the Real Yeshua.

(4) Help us be able to do more by donating to our work by CLICKING HERE. Consider become a regular monthly contributor -- just check the “reoccurring box” at PayPal.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Do Not Say RAQA! - Yeshua on Anger (Part 2)

In the last blog, we covered the first part of Yeshua’s lesson on Anger -- An Angry Person Should be Tried in Court like a Murderer – keep in mind that “anger” is the focus of Yeshua’s lesson.
“Whoever says to a brother, ‘RAKA,’ shall be answerable to the Sanhedrin.” [i]
Yeshua reveals that the seriousness of the offense has become greater by elevating the crime to the next highest court – the Sanhedrin. It is the highest court in the nation and would be the equivalent of our Supreme Court. What makes this offense more serious than murder, to keep things in the context established by Yeshua? It is because of what the angry person said out of anger – “RAKA!”
RAKA is the English transliteration of the Greek word found in the ancient manuscripts of Matthew. Interestingly, the Greek word is also a transliteration of a Hebrew word into Greek. Keep in mind that when a translator working on a translation of a Greek manuscript transliterates a Greek word, he only finds the closest equivalent En…

The Prayer Yeshua Prayed Twice Every Day

One of Jesus’s earliest memories was no doubt watching and listening to his family when they gathered to pray the Shema at sunrise before the day’s work began and after the working work day was over at sunset. He also heard and participated in praying the Shema at their synagogue. He was surrounded by neighbors who also prayed the same prayer in their homes every day.
The Hebrew word for prayer is tefilah. It is derived from the root Pe-Lamed-Lamed and the word l'hitpalel, meaning “to judge oneself.” This surprising word origin provides insight into the purpose of Jewish prayer. The most important part of any Jewish prayer, whether it be a prayer of petition, of thanksgiving, of praise of God, or of confession, is the introspection it provides, the moment that we spend looking inside ourselves, seeing our role in the universe and our relationship to God.[1]
Most of Jewish prayers are expressed in the first person plural, "us" instead of "me," and are recited on b…

What does “Verily” mean & why did Yeshua use it so much?

We have unlocked the original meanings of two of Yeshua’s words in the verse below. We used them to replace “jot” and “tittle” in the following translation:
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one yod (the smallest Hebrew letter) or one qotz (the smallest part of the smallest letter) shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (Matthew 5:18)
Now let’s turn our attention to the word “verily.” If we look it up in a dictionary we find the following definitions: in truth; really; indeed. Did Yeshua mean:
● “For in truth I say unto you . . .” ● “For really I say unto you . . .” ● “For indeed I say unto you . . .”
As pointed out before, Yeshua didn’t teach in English, so our first step to discovering what he did say is to examine the Greek word that is translated “verily” – amhn. Before we find out what it means, let’s review the options that translators have when they are working with ancient Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. Translators have four options: translat…