KING HEROD'S JERUSALEM
Then the Romans came...
They had been gradually edging across the eastern Mediterranean world, and in 63 BC Pompey captured Jerusalem. As part of the ceremony of conquest he entered the Holy of Holies, but did not damage or steal from the Temple.
His successors were not so tactful: in 54 BC Crassus (who later murdered Julius Caesar) plundered the Temple treasury.
As far as the Romans were concerned, the best way to govern a province was to find an able governor who could control the populace without inciting it to rebel. They, or Mark Antony who soon controlled the eastern Mediterranean, decided that Herod was the man for the job.
He had already distinguished himself as governor of Galilee. Now in 40BC he was appointed 'client king' of Judaea by the Roman Senate.
He had considerable power, since he was the personal client of Mark Antony.
The Roman world had a patron-client system in which the patron helped his client when needed, and the client guaranteed support for his patron. The system was not confined to men: Livia, wife of Augustus, was patron of Salome, sister of Herod.
Herod was Mark Antony's man, and could expect preferement when Antony became influential.
All went well while Mark Antony was in power, but when he and Cleopatra were defeated at the Battle of Actium and committed suicide, the wily Herod persuaded Octavian, later the Emperor Augustus, that he should remain as king of Judaea.
Herod was king for the next thirty-six years.
Most people know him as the king who ordered the Massacre of the Innocents at the time of Jesus' birth. Certainly he was capable of doing such a thing.
But there was another side to his complex personality. He was a great builder, maybe the greatest of his time. Probably acting out of political expediency - he was only half-Jewish and the people did not fully accept him - he decided to rebuild the Temple on a grand scale.
No man ever worked harder at being loved, or was less successful.
Construction of the Temple began in 20 BC and lasted for 46 years. That meant
Herod doubled the size of the Temple Mount and surrounded it by a high wall with massive gates. The Temple was raised, enlarged, and faced with beautiful white stone.
Its courtyards served as a gathering place and its shaded porticoes sheltered merchants and money changers.
Jesus' confrontation with the money changers, and with the Adulterous Woman, happened against the backdrop of a brand new building.
SECTIONS OF THE TEMPLE
The Temple was divided into separate sections:
The Temple building itself was wider in front than in the rear. Its eastern facade had two pillars on either side of the gate to the entrance hall. Within the hall a great door led to the sanctuary, the western end of which contained the Holy of Holies.
We tend to think of the Temple as only a place of worship - but it was more than this.
It was also
Herod also constructed a new royal palace for himself and his large, chaotic family. For a glimpse of Herod's family life, see Herod and Mariamme in 'Bible Study Guide'.
It was strengthened by immense towers built into the older city walls. Jerusalem also acquired a state-of-the-art Hellenistic amphitheatre.
For a vivid description of the palace by someone who actually saw it, go to Herod's Palace in Jerusalem.
Particularly poignant is his anguish at the destruction through fire of so much beauty and luxury.
Jerusalem had more than its share of large houses, since it was the home of the country's wealthiest and most important citizens.
Larger houses usually had a central courtyard with a number of rooms opening off it - in the fashionable Roman style. The rooms were small - only as wide as the beams that supported the roof. By modern standards they were stuffy, since there was a minimum of windows. Ornate lattice work and shutters covered the openings. Walls were decorated with frescoes painted in geometric patterns, or simulating colored stonework.
1st century Jerusalem was the center of the Jewish world because it was -
But nothing lasts forever.
In 66 AD the Jewish people rebelled against Rome and in 70 AD the city was besieged and taken. The Romans, led by Titus, destroyed almost every part of the city, dismantling it stone by stone.
The Temple, Herod's most splendid building, was reduced to ashes and rubble. All that remained was a portion of the Western Wall, called nowadays the Wailing Wall.
Photos of Jerusalem at GALLERY PAGE
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