Court of Gentiles in Herod's Temple ISBE
Josephus states that the area of Herod's temple was double that of its predecessor (BJ, I, xxi, 1). The Mishna (Mid., ii.2) gives the area as 500 cubits (roughly 750 ft.); Josephus (Ant., XV, xi, 3) gives it as a stadium (about 600 Greek ft.); but neither measure is quite exact. It is generally agreed that on its east, west and south sides Herod's area corresponded pretty nearly with the limits of the present Haram area (see JERUSALEM), but that it did not extend as far North as the latter (Kennedy states the difference at about 26 as compared with 35 acres, and makes the whole perimeter to be about 1,420 yards, ut supra, 66). The shape was an irregular oblong, broader at the North than at the South. The whole was surrounded by a strong wall, with several gates, the number and position of some of which are still matters of dispute. Josephus mentions four gates on the West (Ant., XV, xi, 5), the principal of which, named in Mid., i.3, "the gate of Kiponos," was connected by a bridge across the Tyropoeon with the city (where now is Wilson's Arch). The same authority speaks of two gates on the South. These are identified with the "Huldah" (mole) gates of the Mishna--the present Double and Triple Gates--which, opening low down in the wall, slope up in tunnel fashion into the interior of the court. The Mishna puts a gate also on the north and one on the east side. The latter may be represented by the modern Golden Gate--a Byzantine structure, now built up. This great court--known later as the "Court of the Gentiles," because open to everyone--was adorned with splendid porticos or cloisters. The colonnade on the south side--known as the Royal Porch--was specially magnificent. It consisted of four rows of monolithic marble columns--162 in all--with Corinthian capitals, forming three aisles, of which the middle was broader and double the height of the other two. The roofing was of carved cedar. The north, west, and east sides had only double colonnades. That on the east side was the "Solomon's Porch" of the New Testament (Jn 10:23; Acts 3:11; 5:19). There were also chambers for officials, and perhaps a place of meeting for the Sanhedrin (beth din) (Josephus places this elsewhere). In the wide spaces of this court took place the buying and selling described in the Gospels (Mt 21:12 and parallel's; Jn 2:13 ff).
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