Model of the New Testament Temple
Recorded in Mark 13:1, while exiting the grand Temple in Jerusalem, the disciples of Jesus make the comment, “Oh, what a magnificent building…” Though this statement may seem like a casual observation made by these followers of Christ, these words represent the awe, magnificence, and beauty of the Temple built by Herod the Great, a project that began in 22 B.C. and wasn’t officially completed until right before its destruction in 70 A.D.
Below are specific photos and commentary of the Temple as well as the rest of what of the city which we call “2nd Temple Jerusalem.” Built to a scale of 40:1, what you will observe and learn is the city of Jerusalem including the centerpiece of the city, the Temple, as Jesus would have experienced it. This model is located at the Israeli Museum in western Jerusalem.
While Josephus, the Jewish historian, gives us certain details about Jerusalem in the 1st century A.D., rabbinic sources offer us (primarily oral tradition) additional insights in what Jerusalem looked like. However, it is the science of archaeology that helps reconstruct the basic structure of Herod’s temple and the city itself.
The Temple Mount that Herod expanded was quite impressive. What he did was expand the platform of the Temple, allowing to enlarge the surface area of the Temple court yard significantly larger than Solomon’s temple 1,000 years before.
Viewing the Temple Mount from the south, the southern steps and the south & southwestern entrances into the Temple can now been seen (the Huldah Gates and what is now called Robinson’s Arch, named after the 19th century archaeologist/explorer who discovered it). These southern steps are no doubt the steps from which Jesus taught. It was where He would have been challenged by the Pharisees and temple authorities as well. It is the area where Mary’s purification would have taken place shortly after Jesus’ birth.
The pressing question in archaeological circles is how the stones were put in place. The following photos conjecture how it was done.
138 columns 22 feet high decorated what has now been called “Solomon’s Portico.”
Taking a look at other areas of of 1st century Jerusalem, one can appreciate other places of significance, such as the City of David, the Upper City, Golgotha (place of Jesus’ crucifixion), the Antonia Fortress (place where Pilate condemned Jesus to death), the Sheep’s Pool (area of Bethesda), and the Eastern Gate.
The city of Jerusalem was destroyed by Titus and the Romans in 70 A.D.