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Herod's Temple - Colonnades and Soreg

Bible overview
The Royal Stoa, Colonnades and Court of the Gentiles.
Contributed by Bible Scenes
During the Herodian period, a colonnaded hall, known as the Royal Stoa, graced the whole length of the Southern Wall of the Temple in Jerusalem. – Slide 1
Constructed in the shape of a basilica with four rows of forty columns each, it formed a central nave in the east end and two side aisles. This is the entrance to the Royal Stoa from the South-West corner. – Slide 2
The main part of the Colonnade was used for the changing of money and purchase of sacrificial animals. This is the likely location where Jesus removed the moneychangers because they were overcharging poor devout Jews and intruding upon the place where Gentiles prayed. (Matt. 21:12-13). – Slide 3
This is the decorated ceiling of the Royal Stoa. <br/>Historian Josephus calls Annas the high priest ‘a great hoarder up of money.’ The sons of Annas had bazaars (known in the Talmud as the hanuyot bney hanan) set up in the Royal Stoa and Court of the Gentiles for the purpose of money changing and the purchase of sacrificial animals. – Slide 4
The column drums in the Royal Stoa had a diameter of about 1m (3ft). Given that Corinthian columns of that width, in the Hellenistic architecture of the first century, would customarily be 9-10m (26-33ft) high, Josephus’ description of the Herodian construction as having 8m (27ft) tall columns was probably accurate. <br/>The Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish Council, met in one of the Temple side rooms known as the Chamber of hewn stone. But it is thought that in 30AD they moved location to meet at the Eastern end in the central apse of the Royal Stoa. – Slide 5
The courtyard in front of the Royal Stoa was known as the Court of Gentiles and anyone could access this area. – Slide 6
There were two underground stairways leading from the Triple and Double Gates in the South Wall that brought people into the Court of the Gentiles in front of the Royal Stoa. – Slide 7
Above the South-West corner of the temple was the place where priests blew a trumpet to announce the beginning and end of the Shabbat (Sabbath). A shofar was sometimes used together with the trumpet. – Slide 8
In 1968, Benjamin Mazar in his early excavations of the southern wall of the Temple Mount found a stone with the inscription ‘To the Trumpeting Place’. It is thought this inscription is believed to be a directional sign for the priests to this location. – Slide 9
The Talmud (Shabbat 35b) relates that on the eve of Shabbat (Sabbath), six shofar or trumpet blasts were sounded to announce that Shabbat was approaching. Each blast represented a different act done to prepare for the Shabbat. The first blast told the workers in the fields to cease working and to return to the city. The second blast told shops and inns in the city to close their stores. The third blast told the people of the city that it was time to light the Shabbat candles. The last blast told the people that it was the instant before Shabbat. – Slide 10
The South-West corner of the Temple on the terrace above the Royal Stoa overlooked the city of Jerusalem and the trumpet blasts would have been heard around Jerusalem. <br/>On Rosh Hashana, the principal ceremony was conducted with shofar placed in the centre with a trumpet on either side. On fast days, the ceremony was conducted with the trumpets in the centre and with a shofar on either side. On special days, the Shofar sounded shorter and two special silver trumpets announced the sacrifice. When the trumpets sounded all the people sacrificing would prostrate themselves, stretching out flat, face down, and on the ground. – Slide 11
On the east, west and south sides of the Temple were further (45ft) colonnades. <br/>The eastern colonnade which faced the Temple Sanctuary was called Solomon's Colonnade and was used by Jesus and the early Christians as a place of meeting and teaching. – Slide 12
These colonnades had two rows of columns. During the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) John records that Jesus taught in the porch of Solomon (John 10:22). – Slide 13
Underneath the Royal Stoa and accessed from the Triple Gate in the south wall and a gate in the east Wall was a storeroom later known as Solomon’s Stables. – Slide 14
This substructure consisting of a series of vaulted arches so as to reduce pressure on the retaining walls. – Slide 15
This storage space was supported by eighty-eight pillars resting on massive Herodian blocks and divided into twelve rows of galleries. – Slide 16
This reconstruction shows the temple colonnades on the west side of the Temple. – Slide 17
This is the colonnade on the north side of the Temple with the Antonia Fortress overlooking the Temple Mount. – Slide 18
The court of the Gentiles was the outer area of the temple up to a balustrade or railing known as the Soreg. – Slide 19
The Soreg was ten hand breadths high (87.5 cm – 2ft 20 inches) and had 13 gaps though which only Jews could pass. – Slide 20
By each entrance in the Soreg were inscriptions in Greek and Roman to warn Gentiles not to pass through the Soreg towards the Holy raised platform known as the ‘Hel’ on which the Sanctuary and its courts were built. – Slide 21
In 1871, a hewn stone measuring 60cm x 90cm (24in x 35in) and engraved with Greek uncials was discovered near a court on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and identified by Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau as being the Temple Warning inscription. It read, ‘Let no foreigner enter within the parapet and the partition which surrounds the Temple precincts. Anyone caught [violating] will be held accountable for his ensuing death.’ – Slide 22
Ahead was a raised platform known as the ‘Hel’ or ‘Chel’ on which the Temple Sanctuary was built. Access to the Hel was via 12 steps, half a cubit (26cm, 10in) high and deep. <br/>There were doors into Storerooms and Chambers used by the Priests. At a lower level in front of the Sanctuary were gates into the Court of the Women. – Slide 23
Slide 24