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The Eastern Entrance to Herod's Temple

The Golden Gate

JEWISH_TEMPLE00000001.gif

During the time of the First Temple the Eastern Gate (also called Shushan or HaKohan gate) was the main entrance into the Temple area. It was also the gate that Jesus entered on a humble donkey in His triumphal entry. If one were to stand on the Mount of Olives he could look over this Eastern Gate into the huge area presently north of the Dome of the Rock and see all the gates (at different levels) in a perfect line: the East (Shushan) Gate --Outer Court Gate --Inner Court Gate --Temple Entrance. The Talmud makes an interesting observation:

"All the walls which were there were high, except the wall in the east, so that the priest who burned the heifer, standing on the top of the Mount of Olives, and directing himself to look, saw through the gateway of the sanctuary, at the time when he sprinkled the blood." [Mishnah, Middot 2:4].

The Golden Gate (Eastern Gate) in the eastern wall of Jerusalem gave access to the courtyards of the Temple from the Kidron valley.

Tradition

According to Jewish tradition the Messiah (Mashiach) will enter Jerusalem from the east. The gate has a special holiness; legend has it that the Shechinah (Divine Presence) used to appear through this gate and will appear again, and that in the meantime it must be left untouched.

The Arabs (Moslems) call this gate The Mercy Gate (Bab el Rahmeh) and according to the Koran, the just will pass through this gate on the Day of Judgment.

The Sealed Gate

It is interesting that this gate is the only one of the eight gates in Jerusalem that is sealed. The Arabs believe that since the Jews expect that Messiah would come through this gate (Sha'ar harachamim) they would try to prevent any possibility of His return.

The East gate was walled up by it's Muslim conquerors (the Ottoman Turks) with great stones in 1530 A.D. and a cemetery was planted in front of it thinking that the Jewish Messiah could not set foot in a cemetery and therefore would not be able to come. Many believe this was done to prevent the entrance of the Jewish Messiah through that gate as was foretold by known Old Testament prophecies. However, Ezekiel prophesied the shutting of this gate itself around 600 B.C. -- that it would be shut "because the LORD (Jehovah or Yahweh), the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut."

The East Gate and the Return of the Messiah

Neh. 3:29 "...the gate that looketh toward the east: And the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east."

Ezekiel 44:1-3 Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east; and it was shut. And he said to me, "This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut. Only the prince may sit in it to eat bread before the LORD; he shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gate, and shall go out by the same way."

Jesus entered Jerusalem through the East gate around 30 A.D. (long before it was blocked by the Ottomans) as he came down from the Mount of Olives and entered the temple according to our understanding of Luke 19:28-48. He would have entered through the original gate in the wall which was destroyed with the city by the Romans in 70 A.D. Ezekiel says concerning this closed gate that the "Prince" (which the Messiah is often called throughout the Old Testament and Jesus is called in the New Testament) shall enter it again. Jesus, having entered the city, said that he would not be seen again until Jerusalem acknowledges him (Matthew 23:37-39).

Today the Temple Mount is under Muslim control, and it is just over the golden (eastern) gate and has been guarded very closely even today.

The Eastern gate is presently considered by the Arabs to be their exclusive property. It is sealed up and blocked off. However one day, the Messiah will land on the Mount of Olives, with all His saints, and walk down to and right through the Eastern Gate and into the Temple area.  

Herod's Temple - Introduction Herod's Temple - Overview Herod's Temple - The Site (Mount Moriah) Herod's Temple - Solomon's Temple History Herod's Temple - Zerubbabel's Temple History Herod's Temple - Herodian Temple History Herod's Temple - The Golden Gate Herod's Temple - The Court of the Gentiles Herod's Temple - Solomon's Porticos Herod's Temple - The Antonia Fortress Herod's Temple - The Inner Courts Herod's Temple - The Women's Court Herod's Temple - The Court of Israel Herod's Temple - The Court of the Priests Herod's Temple - The Altar of Sacrifice Herod's Temple - The Holy Place Herod's Temple - The Holy of Holies Herod's Temple - Jesus and the Temple Herod's Temple - Archaeology and the Jerusalem Temple Herod's Temple - Historical Writings Herod's Temple - Scriptures Dictionaries Herod's Temple - Encyclopedias Herod's Temple - Heart Message Herod's Temple in Jerusalem

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The Jewish Temple in the First Century A.D.

It is interesting that in the Middle East certain places have remained holy throughout the centuries, even if another religion may have taken possession of them. Today the Moslem Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is the prominent building where the Jewish temple once stood.

When Jesus came to Jerusalem, the Temple had just been marvelously rebuilt by Herod the Great. The Temple area had been enlarged to a size of about thirty-five acres. Around the Temple area were double colonnades.

The Jewish historian Josephus describes the colonnades:

"All the cloisters were double, and the pillars to them belonging were twenty-five cubits in height, and supported -the cloisters. These pillars were of one entire stone each of them, and that stone was white marble; and the roofs were adorned with cedar, curiously graven. The natural magnificence, and excellent polish, and the harmony of the joints in these cloisters, afforded a prospect that was very remarkable; nor was it on the outside adorned with any work of the painter or engraver. The cloisters -(of the outmost court) were in breadth thirty cubits, while the entire compass of it was by measure six furlongs, including the tower of Antonia; those entire courts that were exposed to the air were laid with stones of all sorts" (Jewish War 5. 5. 2).

The eastern portico was named after King Solomon and the part to the south, which overlooked the Valley of Kidron, was called "Royal." On the east side the high corner was possibly the pinnacle of the temple, mentioned in the story of the temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4:5).

There were eight gates leading into the temple.

There were the two Huldah Gates or "mole" Gates from the south, which passed underneath the Royal Porch.

To the east was the Gate of Susa, still visible as the Golden Gate which was walled up by the Byzantines.

In the western wall was the main gate named the Gate of Coponius after the first procurator; it was decorated with the golden eagle as a sign that the Temple had been placed under the protection of Rome.

Anyone was allowed to enter the outer area, which was therefore called the Court of the Gentiles. The actual Temple was enclosed by a balustrade, and at the entrances to it were warning notices, one of them is now in a museum in Istanbul. It says that foreigners have freedom of access provided they do not go beyond the balustrade which went all around the central edifice and which no uncircumcised could cross without incurring the death penalty.

Fourteen steps led through the Beautiful Gate to the Court of the women where the poor boxes were, into one of which the poor widow cast her two mites (Luke 21:1-4).

Another fifteen steps led up to the famous Gate of Nicanor, to which Mary had brought the child at the time of his presentation; this led through the Court of the Men to that of the priests, which had in its center the altar for the burnt offerings and to the left of it a large basin called the Brazen Sea resting upon twelve bulls cast in bronze.

Further steps led up to the actual temple, a comparatively small building. A priceless curtain, embroidered with a map of the known world, concealed from view what lay beyond, and none except the priest on duty was allowed to go farther.

It contained the golden altar at which incense was offered and next to it the seven-branched candelabrum and the table with the twelve loaves of shewbread, which were replaced by fresh ones every sabbath. Beyond it, behind another large curtain, lay the Holy of Holies, which none except the high priest was allowed to enter, and he only on the Day of Atonement. A stone designated the place where once the Ark of the Covenant had stood.

Jesus came to the Temple at a very young age and in Solomon's Porch the boy argued with the rabbis, astonishing them with his questions and with his answers. He remained behind when his parents left, and when his worried mother at last found him he said to her enigmatically: "'Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"' (Luke 2:49).

It is one of the most original sayings of Jesus, in which he speaks of God for the first time as "avi" (My Father) which was an expression reserved for the Son of God.

Today the Western Wall, the so-called Wailing Wall, is all that remains of the ancient walls of Herod's Temple; one can still see the pilaster and the beginning of Robinsonís Arch, which was part of a large viaduct leading to the upper city. Excavations in 1967, led by the well-known archaeologist Benjamin Mazar, revealed the cornerstone. Adjacent to it on the southern side remain traces of the road from which the pilgrims entered the gates.

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Coin Bearing an Image of the Facade of the Second Temple

Table of Contents

Herod's Temple
Index of Topics
Introduction
Overview
The Site
Solomon's Temple
Zerubbabel's Temple
Rebuilding the Temple
Golden Gate
Court of the Gentiles
Solomon's Porticoes
Antonia Fortress
Inner Courts
Women's Court
Court of Israel
Court of the Priest's
Altar of Sacrifice
Holy Place
Holy of Holies
Jesus and the Temple
Archaeology
Historical Writings
Scriptures
Dictionaries
Encyclopedias
Conclusion