The Life of Jesus in Harmony
THE UPPER CITY
Most of Jerusalem's working people lived in the crowded, noisy precincts of
the Lower City. Their one- and two-story houses stood packed closely together. In
contrast, the broad fashionable avenues of the Upper City were laid out in an
orderly grid pattern like the elegant cities of Greece and Rome. This part of Jerusalem
was the home of the rich and powerful Jewish families and high-ranking Roman
Comfortably removed from the rest of the population, they lived in spacious
white marble mansions and palaces built around courtyards with elaborate gardens
and pools. The magnificent royal palace of Herod the Great
- later used by the Roman governor of Judea
during his visits to Jerusalem-was situated in the uppermost northwest corner
of the city.
Directly in front of the palace stood the Upper Market, with its Roman-style
arcades along three sides and an open court for market booths in the center.
Here were the shops of the dealers in luxury goods: the distillers of expensive
oils and perfumes; the master tailors and silk merchants; the goldsmiths and
silversmiths; the dealers in ivory, incense and precious stones. Household slaves
went there to buy expensive imported foods for their masters' banquet tables.
Not far away was the PALACE OF THE HIGH PRIEST. (The high priest
at the time of Jesus' ministry in Jerusalem, Caiaphas
, did not live there but in another section of the Upper City. Jesus' trial
before the Sanhedrin
probably took place in one of the large halls of his palace). Herod the Great
had also built a THEATRE in the Upper City. It was a large, open-air
auditorium with semicircular rows of seats ascending from a central stage. Wealthy Jews
came there to watch the best of Greek and Roman drama. Most traditional Jews,
however, scorned this and other outgrowths of Greco-Roman culture as immoral.