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Court of the Gentiles
Surrounding the Court of the Gentiles were a series of "porches" or cloisters
through which ran double rows of Corinthian pillars, each cut from marble and
measuring 37 feet in height and covered by a flat roof. The entire court was
paved with marble. The southern of these porches was known as "Solomonís Porch" (Acts 3:11).
This court derived its name from the fact that Gentiles were permitted into
this area provided they conducted themselves in a reverent manner.
Gentiles were forbidden from the inner temple areas, and even Roman citizenship did
not protect a Gentile who intruded into prohibited areas.
This picture reveals just how large the Court of the Gentiles was. ArchPark, Israel
"The Temple Mount of Herod had the 500 by 500 cubit soreg designating the
original outer courtx area. "At the end of the court was a soreg (a stone lattice
work) which surrounded the consecrated area--the Temple Mount proper in the
narrow mishnaic sense, i.e., the "500 cubits by 500 cubits" (Mid. 2:1). According
to the Mishnah (Mid. 2:3) the height of the soreg was 10 handbreadths (70 cm. =
28 in.), but Josephus states that it was 3 cubits (1.5 m. = 5 ft.); this
latter measurement seems more appropriate for a fence to which were attached plaques
written in Greek and Latin forbidding gentiles to pass that point on pain of
death. Remains of these inscriptions bearing the Greek text (one complete plaque
and one partly preserved) have been discovered in Jerusalem (in 1870 and
1936). Beyond the soreg were 14 steps and then the hel [Chayl] ("rampart"), which
was 10 cubits (5 m. = 17 ft.) broad (Mid. 2:3; Wars 5:195-7). Beyond the hel
[Chayl] were the wall of the main forecourt (azarah), and the Court of the Women
(ezrat nashim). In the outer court were the store-chambers for the shekels and
the Temple vessels, and also "shofarot" (chests in the form of horns, i.e.,
narrow at the top, where the opening was, and wider lower down) for the donations
(terumot) of the people (Shek. 2:1)."
[Encyclopaedia Judaica CD, "Temple, Second Temple, Structure, The Temple
Square"; (x "the great court" - I Kings 7:12, 9; Ezekiel 42:15-20, 8)]