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On Jesus’ last and final visit to Jerusalem He came and sat down in the Temple treasury which was located in the spacious Court of the Women. He appeared very calm when He deliberately sat down and gave notice to the passing crowd as they cast their bronze coins into the trumpet shaped collection boxes of the treasury. He made a very discriminating observation, many wealthy people cast in much, but there came one poor peasant woman who was a widow, she had cast two mites, the smallest of copper coins (less than two was not considered an offering), Jesus’ heart was deeply moved by her contribution. He called His disciples to Him and said:
"Truly Truly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood." (Mark 12)
Her gift was not valued by how much was given in measure, but how much she had saved for herself.
But what is also interesting is the person of Jesus. Lets pause for a moment and reflect what had been happening for the past couple of hours and also what would be happening to Him very soon, which He was well aware of.
Jesus had just uttered a hailstorm of seven woes upon the Jewish leaders of Jerusalem, the Scribes and the Pharisees. He blisteringly warned the people against their vanity, their selfishness, their blindness and their hypocrisy. He called them blind guides and "play actors" who hid behind a mask, haters of God and sons of hell, who were slamming the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in the face of men.
He said all this while standing by the altar, in the very place where the last Jewish prophet Zachariah had been slain by the leaders of Jerusalem. There was a Jewish legend that said that the blood of Zachariah had bubbled on the pavement of the Temple court, the very place that Abel, the first martyr in the Bible, had been slain by his brother Cain. Jesus had just accused the Jewish leaders and said that the murder of Abel and of Zachariah and of every martyr of God in between would be charged against them and their generation, because they were not only guilty of slaying all the prophets but in a few hours they would slay the Son of God. Jesus uttered their doom:
Luke 19:41-44 "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation."
Jesus, their Messiah finished His terrifying indictment with a broken-hearted lamentation over the beloved city:
Matt 23:37-39 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'"
The beloved city and the awesome Temple would soon be places of desolation. How fearfully the prophecy of this destruction was fulfilled. In 70 A.D. The Roman legions of the Emperor Titus utterly destroyed the city and her glorious Temple in a few short years. Over 1 million Jews perished in the siege in just a few days and over 100,000 were taken away into captivity.
It was just after Jesus finished speaking this that He left the upper courts of the Temple for the last time and exited through the Nicanor Gate and descended the 15 semi-circular steps into the Court of the Women and took a seat in the treasury where He saw the old widow casting her two copper coins into the charitable gift collection box. With those who were seeking His death just a few paces away He was of a calm spirit and peacefully took notice of this little old woman who would forever etch the message into our hearts that the very essence of true charity is self denial.
Mark 12:41-44 "Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood."
The Jerusalem Temple
If you were to approach the Temple in
Jerusalem in the first century A.D. you would pass through the eastern gate
where Jesus made His triumphal entry. Then you would come to the Court of
the Gentiles which was a large court paved with stones of various colors. It
was open to all comers including the cattle-dealers and the money-changers
who desecrated the Temple. This court was also called the Outer Court, the
Lower Court, and the rabbi’s usually called it "the Mountain of the Lord’s
House." All around the Temple proper was a 9 foot high terrace with stairs
which was higher than the Court of the Gentiles. It was surrounded by a 5
foot high wall which was designed to keep out the gentiles. There was also
pillars in the wall at various distances (the Soreg) with inscriptions in
Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, warning all gentiles to come no further under
penalty of death.
Going beyond the Court of the Gentiles and at the top of the terrace there was a platform for about 15 feet and then there was another wall. On the east side stood the magnificent 60 foot wide "Gate Beautiful" mentioned in Acts 3:2,10. It was also referred to as the "Gate Susan" because it contained a beautifully sculptured relief of the city of Susa. During the time of the morning and evening sacrifices this great entrance was the place of public worship.
Entering through the Susan Gate you would come to a large court called "the Court of the Women" not because there were only women there but because women could not go beyond it. There were smaller courts with columns in the four corners of the court.
According to the Mishnah (Middoth 2,5) the Women's Court was was just over 200 feet square between bounding lines. Each court on the outside was 60 feet square.
In front of these columns were the eleven treasure chests of the Temple for the voluntary offerings of money, and there were also two at the Gate of Susan, for the half-shekel tax. Jesus was sitting ‘opposite the treasury' when he saw the widow put into one of the containers the two copper coins which were all that she had (Mark 12:41-44; Lk 21:1-2).
It was near these treasure chests that the man healed of his blindness came up to Jesus in John 8:20 and worshipped Him.
Continuing eastward there was a magnificent circular staircase and the Nicanor Gate. Entering through the gate there was a narrow hall filled with beautiful cloistered columns called "Court of the Israelites" and it was also through a wall and up a flight of stairs. The Court of the Israelites surrounded the "Court of the Priests" which was where the altar of sacrifice was. The women could only glance over a balcony from the Court of the Women to see the ceremonies inside the Inner Court (According to Middoth).
Oil of Yah Court
Leper's Chamber Court
The Temple Treasury
An Old Woman - A Heart Message
Oil of Yah Court
Leper's Chamber Court
The Temple Treasury