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THE FORTRESS OF ANTONIA
This model at the Holy Land Hotel is a Scholar's conception showing how the
site may have looked in Jesus' day.
Herod's palace fortress, named the Antonia for his benefactor Mark Antony was the place Jesus may have been tried before Pontius Pilate . In Jesus' time a battalion of Roman soldiers were stationed there. It was
northwest of the Temple area. Along the northern side of the temple courtyard stood the massive
palace - fortress of Antonia, another of Herod's landmarks. A stairway and an
underground passageway connected the Antonia with the Court of the Gentiles, and the 600 soldiers stationed there were always on the alert for
disturbances in the temple precincts. The precious ceremonial robes of the high priest were kept in one of its four guard towers and were released only on important
religious feast days.
The Romans had taken custody of the garments as a precautionary measure.
Realizing the tremendous power of the high priest's office, they sought to limit it
by restricting the use of the robes, which symbolized its authority. In the
century before the Roman occupation in 63 BC, the king of Israel had also been the high priest and both offices had been hereditary. The
Romans had abolished the kingship and had made the office of high priest appointive,
always subject to their approval. Nonetheless, in Jesus' day the high priest
remained the most powerful figure in the Jewish nation.