Page images
PDF
EPUB

was not allowed to wear any garment, in which it was possible to hide money: nor in his shoes or sandals : nor even with his phylacteries, because there was a possibility of his concealing money under them. When he entered the chamber, a watchman stood at the door without, and talked with him all the while, lest he might put any of the money into his mouth. Nor could he begin to pour out the money till he said to those who were without, “ I empty," and they replied, “ Empty," three several times. For the money that was brought in by

' the collectors was put into three great chests, containing nine seahs, or three bushels a-piece; and if more was brought in than filled these, it was laid down in some part of the chamber. The way in which the person brought out the money was as follows :

It was, as we have just remarked, deposited in three chests, each of which held three seahs, or one bushel; consequently, one of the large chests in the chamber, when full, would have filled the three that the person carried. For the sake of distinction, they were marked with the first three letters of the Hebrew alphabet; and one was said to be filled in the name of the Jews of the land of Israel; another, in the name of those who were in the towns and countries in the neighbourhood of Judea; and the third, in the name of those who were in Babylon, Media, and the places farther remote : for these also sent money to purchase burnt offerings, sin offerings, &c." The uses to which the money was applied were to buy the daily sacrifices, the additional public sacrifices at festivals, with their meat offerings and drink offerings, the sheaf, the two loaves mentioned in Levit. xxii. 17; all the sacrifices that were offered by the congregation, the red heifer, scape goat, priest's

[blocks in formation]

a

garments, wood for the altar, and, in general, all the other things that were connected with the public service.

In illustration of the Scriptures we may farther add, that in the payment of the half shekel, besides the difficulty attending the exchange of foreign coins, there was also another difficulty, viz. the obtaining change (xepua) for those who had whole shekels. This gave rise to the custom of the collectors, or others, acting the part of money-changers (Dign by shulhenim, xepuaTiOTAL,) and exacting a premium called kolbon, or the twelfth part of a denarius, or Roman penny, equal to two and a half of our farthings; allowing the denarius to have been equal to sevenpence three farthings. Nay, such was their rapacity, that if two persons came and offered a shekel between them, it was not accepted, unless each of them paid the kolbon, as if they had wanted the exchange of a shekel each. It was this exaction that excited the indignation of our Lord at the first and last passovers which he attended," and caused him to overthrow the tables of the kolbonists, or money-changers (τας τραπεζας των κολλυβιστων,) as well as the seats of those who sold doves.

But we are now within the outer court, or Court of the Gentiles, which for several reasons merits our attention. In the first place, it was by far the largest of all those courts which were attached to the temple; for it comprehended the whole space within the outer wall, which was unoccupied by the sacred ground, or that on which a Jew by birth, or a proselyte of righteousness, alone durst tread. And as the temple was not placed in the middle of the square, for the reason already given, it was consequently divided into unequal portions. Thus the distance between the eastern outer wall and the sa

a John ü. 15.

b John ii, 15; Matt. xxi. 12.

cred ground was ninety cubits; between the southern outer wall and the sacred ground, two hundred and fifty-nine cubits; between the western outer wall and the sacred ground, forty-nine cubits; and between the northern outer wall and the sacred ground, seventy-two cubits. Thus it encircled the whole of the sacred ground, although at very unequal distances; for by far the greatest portion was on the south, the next greatest on the east, the next on the north, and the least of all on the west. Its superficial measure may be ascertained without much difficulty; for the sacred ground, as we shall afterwards see, occupied three hundred and sixty-one cubits long, by one hundred and sixty-nine cubits broad, or 61,009 superficial cubits. We have only therefore to deduct these from five hundred cubits long and five hundred cubits broad (the whole ground inclosed by the outer wall,) or 250,000 cubits, superficial measure, when there remain 188,991 superficial cubits, as the contents of the Court of the Gentiles, or fourteen English acres, one rood, twenty-nine poles, and thirteen yards ; of which above two-thirds lay to the south of the temple.

The above is the account of the Talmud, but Josephusa divides the whole space within the outer wall differently; for he says, “ this Hil was walled all round, and in compass four furlongs, the distance of each angle containing a furlong in length,” equal to two hundred and twenty yards square, or exactly ten English acres. And in his History of the War, he makes the outer wall, including the Tower of Antonia, to be in circumference six furlongs, which augments the contents to fifteen English acres.

Into this Court persons of all nations were allowed to

2

Antiq. xv. 11.

b Book v. 5.

come. They might mix with the Jews, hear their discourses, and see them entering into, and returning from, the sacred ground; but they durst not enter that ground, on pain of death. Thus did God wisely appoint that an approach to knowledge was given to the Gentiles : for while they admired the beautiful structure of the temple, and saw the smoke of the sacrifices rising above the walls which surrounded the courts, they would naturally inquire into that ritual which distinguished the Jews from every other nation. Farther, it was in the south or largest side of this Court that the sheep, oxen, and doves were placed, which our Lord dispersed at the first and last passovers of his public ministry. The priests had taken the pretext of a number of sacrifices, being needed at the great festivals, to establish a cattle market in this place, for the pretended convenience of the people, but really as an emolument to themselves. Our Saviour therefore severely reproved them, and drove them before him towards the east gate of the outer wall, where, as we have already seen, he also overturned the tables of the money-changers, as having been equally guilty of selfishness and rapacity. But while we are in the Court of the Gentiles, we cannot overlook the beautiful pavement of variegated marble, and the piazzas, or covered walks (10D, OTW) with which it was surrounded, and which served both for utility and beauty. Those on the east, west, and north sides, were of the same dimensions. They had three rows of white marble pillars of the same height as the outer wall, which was twenty-five cubits, or forty-five feet seven inches; the first row, along the side of the wall, to prevent the weight of the roof of cedar, that was curiously wrought and covered with cement to throw off the rain, from injuring it; the second row fifteen cubits distant from the first; and the third fifteen cubits distant from the second : so that in each piazza there were two ranges of fifteen cubits each, for persons to walk in, and the whole width of the covered walk was thirty cubits, or fifty-four feet eight inches. The piazza on the south differed however from those on the other sides, both in width and height, for in it there were four rows of pillars disposed as follows:5—The first was twenty-five cubits, or fortyfive feet seven inches high, along the side of the wall; the second was fifty cubits high, or ninety-one feet two inches, and placed at fifteen cubits' distance from the first; the third was fifty cubits high, or ninety-one feet two inches, and placed at forty-two cubits and a half from the second; and the fourth was twenty-five cubits high, or forty-five feet seven inches, and placed at fifteen cubits' distance from the third. Thus the first and fourth rows were of an equal height, and the second and third were also equal, but double the height of the first and fourth. Hence, the spaces on this side under the the piazza were divided in the following manner: 1. A walk of fifteen cubits wide and twenty-five cubits high, next the outer wall. 2. A walk of forty-two cubits and a-half wide, and fifty cubits high, in the middle: and 3. A walk of fifteen cubits wide, and twenty-five cubits high on the inside, or side next the temple. According to this statement, the whole width of the southern piazza was seventy-two cubits and a-half, or one hundred and twenty-eight feet nine inches, which makes it seventyfour feet one inch wider than any of the rest. Nor is it difficult to divine a reason for this increase both of width and height; for it would afford a greater shelter from the mid-day sun, and consequently be agreeable in so warm a latitude. I need scarcely add, that battlements were necessary round the top of the piazzas to prevent

a

Josepb. War, v. 5.

Joseph. Antiq. xv, 11.

« PreviousContinue »