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Cleansing of the Temple

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Events in the
Life of Jesus
according to the Gospels
Life of Jesus


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Wikipedia book Book:Life of Jesus

The cleansing of the Temple narrative tells of Jesus expelling the merchants and the money changers from the Temple, and occurs in all four canonical gospels of the New Testament.

In this account, Jesus and his disciples travel to Jerusalem for Passover, where Jesus expels the merchants and money changers from the Temple, accusing them of turning the Temple into "a den of thieves" through their commercial activities.[1][2] In the Gospel of John Jesus refers to the Temple as "my Father's house", thus, making a claim to being the Son of God.[3]

The narrative occurs near the end of the Synoptic Gospels (at Matthew 21:12–17, Mark 11:15–19, and Luke 19:45–48) and near the start in the Gospel of John (at John 2:13–16). Some scholars believe that these refer to two separate incidents, given that the Gospel of John also includes more than one Passover.[4]

The scene became common in art.

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  • The Cleansing of the Temple
  • "Cleansing The Temple" - Foundations of Faith - Pastor Doug Batchelor
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  • Cleansing of the Temple | Here We Stand by Pastor Doug Batchelor


Here we are in the Gospel of John. Open your Bibles to chapter number two, that's where we're at this morning. This is lesson number five of this particular series. In our last lesson we studied the passage that contained Jesus' first miracle, the changing of the water into wine at the wedding in the northern city of Cana. Now after His baptism Jesus returns to His home area and displays a sign of His miraculous power, but to a very small number of people at the wedding, mainly his family and disciples. And this event is part of the first strand of narrative where John describes Jesus the God/Man. So he's going to talk about, remember the overall theme of our study is Jesus the God/Man and the various strands of narrative that go through this particular book. One strand being Jesus demonstrating that He is the God/Man through His miracles and so on and so forth, another strand of narrative is people responding to Him with faith and how that happened, and then the third strand of narrative is people responding with disbelief and how that happened. And I've explained to you several times how John kind of interweaves these three narratives together in his gospel. Now in the next section he continues with this strand demonstrating, not in a miraculous act, but rather in an act of zeal and authority, Jesus's divine power. So the next scene is described as the cleansing of the temple. So now that Jesus has taken a first step into public ministry at Cana He's going to go to Jerusalem for a very public and dynamic demonstration, not of a miracle, but of His zeal and His authority. So we go to John chapter 2 verses 13 and 14. It says, "The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. and He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables." So even though Jerusalem is south of Galilee a person was said to go up to Jerusalem, which no matter which direction you were, you always went up to Jerusalem. And so Jews from everywhere gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. Now we know that the temple's center housed the Holy of Holies where only the high priest could enter on a yearly basis. This building was segregated by a series of walls and courts which separated the priests from the people, the men from the women, and the Jews from the Gentiles, that was the reason for all of these various courts. And so the court of the Gentiles was symbolically the entrance court, it was the first court that you came to when you enter the temple area and this is where all nations could gather and pray together to the God of all nations. It was the largest of the courts. It was separated from the courts where only the Jews could go and then these were separated from the places where the priests could go. The porticoes, when I talks about Solomon's portico, there were great columns, colonnades. Jesus taught in this area. Many others gathered there for teaching. They didn't have classrooms. Because it became a meeting place for early, early Christians. The Royal porch of Herod which was the south side where Jesus sat among the doctors of law, this is the area where Jesus was when they found him when He was 12, Luke chapter 2 verse 46. These are renditions of it, obviously no pictures, but people from the scriptural descriptions have put together models to scale; very interesting, I saw those when I was there in Jerusalem. The temple area, all of the temple area was considered holy, but it increased in holiness as you approach the center area where the Holy of Holies was situated. So you see there to the left and right of those buildings that was the court of the Gentiles and then there was a thing there, a wall I'll show you in a minute that allowed men to go in or women and then men and so on and so forth. The gates, various gates, there were eight entrances into the temple area each with their own significance. This was the pilgrim gate. The pilgrim gate led to the court of the Gentiles, as I mentioned for those visiting. Iinteresting the pilgrim gates had a large pool of water where pilgrims washed before entering the temple area. The pool, it was called the pool of Siloam, what was interesting; there was a pilgrim road which led from the pool of Siloam all the way to the temple area, it was like a you know a road that led from one area to the other actually all the way to the steps that led to the pilgrim entrance. This is where a Peter preached his first sermon, Acts 2:38, I'll go back. There, these gates here these were the pilgrim gates, this is where you know pilgrims would come from all over the world to worship, this is where a Peter preached his sermon. People were baptized there, they said, 'What? Do they have to do all the way to the river?' Well, no. There were many pools of water there for the pilgrims to wash before they would go into the holy city. Josephus, the Jewish historian, claims that 1 to 4 million pilgrims each year visited Jerusalem. I'm showing you this, another diagram of the temple, to show you the eastern gate. If you notice it mentions the golden gate, right there, that golden gate was also called the eastern gate. It was the main entrance to the temple area. It was the approach through the Mount of Olives and facing the Garden of Gethsemane across the small Kidron Valley. So if you were to go this way up here was the Garden of Gethsemane and then you would go down into the Kidron Valley and go back up again and enter into the temple through this golden gate or eastern gate. According to Jewish tradition the Messiah was supposed to enter through this gate. So we read Zechariah chapter 9 says, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just an endowed with salvation, humble and mounted on a donkey, Even on the colt, the foal of a donkey." And so that passage is referring to Jesus' triumphal entry. In Ezekiel chapter 44 verses 1 to 3, it says, "Then he brought me back by way of the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces the east." So this is in one of Ezekiel's visions that gate I'm talking [about], the eastern gate, right? Watch what he says in his vision now. He says, "And it was shut. The Lord said to me, "This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut. As for the prince, he shall sit in it as prince to eat bread before the Lord; he shall enter by way of the porch of the gate and shall go out by the same way." And so Ezekiel is talking about this eastern gate, he's saying the Messiah is going to come through this gate, but then he in his prophecy says but that gate will be shut. Now that's that gate today, that gate today is shut, it's been cemented up, bricked up. Interestingly when the Muslims conquered Jerusalem in 1530 AD they blocked up this gate with stones and they planted a cemetery in front of it as their way of preventing the Jewish Messiah from entering in thinking that no Jew would step on a foreign cemetery because it was unclean. In their mind, 'Oh, the Messiah'll never be able to come now because they've blocked the eastern gate that He's supposed to come through and if He's a Jew, a Jewish Messiah, He'd never step over the grave of a foreign power.' Little did they know that the Messiah had already come, but anyways, little brickwork that was too late in coming. So this part of Jerusalem is still controlled by Muslims. The gate is still blocked, the cemetery is still there, and a mosque stands where the Holy of Holies, sorry I'll show you that later, where the Holy of Holies used to be. So where the Holy of Holies used to be now there's a mosque that stands exactly on that spot. So back to historical temple, this is Herod's temple by the way, not Solomon's temple; Solomon's Temple was destroyed and then rebuilt again in the time of Herod. So there were the courts, this was the woman's court in the foreground you see there before the steps. Women could not mix with men in the temple area and had their own area, but they could go no further in. It was in this court that the court treasury was, 12 trumpet shaped containers for voluntary offerings. Jesus was sitting opposite the treasury when he saw the widow put in the two coins, her only two coins, she was in the court of women. The court of Israel was a smaller place; once you left the court of women you walked up the steps there and that was the court of Israel this was the place where Jewish men gathered who were neither priest nor Levites. This is where the Jewish laymen gathered for prayer and so on and so forth. The court of the priests, I've got different models I'm showing you, the court of the priests is not in the foreground (that's the court of the women) go one step through those golden doors there, you had the court of the priests. Only priest could enter here. In this area was the altar of burnt-offering where animal sacrifices were made. The altar, 45 feet long, 22 feet high, this had steps up where the priests would offer and then once you got beyond the door, that final door against the back wall there, that was the holy place. Three areas in the holy place. There was the porch and entranceway with gold covered the back wall and a golden lamp hung, there were two tables there out of gold and marble held the showbread which was eaten only by the priests. There was also a veil at the entrance, then there was the hall. In the hall stood the golden altar, golden table, the frankincense cups, the golden lampstead and here is where priests offered incense. And then there was the veil, a double veil separated the Holy of Holies from the hall, only the high priest could access the Holy of Holies, only once per year on the day of atonement. The Holy of Holies, the internal, that internal place there had no furnishings, it was actually empty in Herod's temple, there was nothing in there and when the priest would go in, he would simply offer prayer. What it originally contained was the Ark of the Covenant, originally back in Solomon's time, the tablet and the Ark of the Covenant had the tablets of the Ten Commandments, a jar of manna, Aaron's rod. Within the Ark of the Covenant was, of course, we know the Ark of the Covenant was destroyed when the Babylonians destroyed Solomon's Temple 587 BC, then with time eventually the temple began to be rebuilt during Herod's time a lot of that construction was finished. So I want to go back, so that's kind of a little bit a few pictures about how the temple area, some of the geography, the lay of the land of that. So I want to go back to the court of the Gentiles because it says that Jesus cleansed the temple. Now the court of the Gentiles represented the place where Gentiles, converts to Judaism as well as Gentiles could enter here, but they could go no further under penalty of death. The Jews could not execute the death penalty under Roman law except in this case for this particular violation. So here's another picture here, you see the arrows point to certain signs that were there on that low wall before someone left the area of the Gentiles and those signs warned people, 'If you're a Gentile don't go past this area because if you do it's under the penalty of death.' They were serious. So this is what Paul the apostle was nearly killed over in Acts chapter 21 verses 27 to 32. He was accused of willfully bringing a Gentile across that barrier into the part where only the Jews could go. So this is where the money changers were, that's my whole point. They were in this area, they were in the court of the Gentiles. They had set up shop and Jesus came to run them out of there and I'll explain some of the background of that, why. Just to finish off a little bit of the description of the temple area. There was also a place called the Antonia fortress that's like like a garrison where the soldier Roman soldiers were as part of the temple complex. It was named after Herod's friend Mark Antony. It housed the garrison of about 600 soldiers 600 Roman soldiers and there was an underground passageway that connected the garrison to the court of the Gentiles so they didn't they didn't have to run through any of the other areas, they could go underground and come up in the court of the Gentiles because if there's going to be trouble that usually was the spot where it would be. So the Romans had abolished the role of King in Israel and allowed the high priest to continue by appointment and approval of Roman leadership. As a matter of fact, I think I mentioned this before, the high priesthood was often sold; different families were competing and it was sold, Rome would sell it because it was a quasi-political role, leadership role, and the way that they did this was very interesting. The Romans kept the robes of the high priests under lock and key. The robes were not under Jewish control, they were under Roman control and they were permitted usage only on special holidays, and so even though Rome permitted the appointment of a high priest, they controlled just how much visibility that high priest would have because obviously the high priest couldn't appear in public without the special clothing, so that's how they controlled his PR, his PR push. So the temple tax was collected before Passover from everyone 20 years and over and those coming from afar had to have money exchanged into shekels and also they had to purchase animals for sacrifice during that Passover. If you're coming from 200 miles away, you're not going to bring a couple of sheep with you and you had money, you had currency from your own country and so it's like today you land at the airport in Germany or something, you go to the money exchange place and you change your American dollars for whatever, they are Euro, I guess the Euro now. You know what I'm saying? So same idea. They come from afar, they'd need to buy animals, they need to exchange their money, so on and so forth. Well, the moneychangers, the animal sellers, so on and so forth took up space in the of the Gentiles. Now originally this commerce had taken place outside the temple walls, but with time the merchants had been allowed to set up in the court of the Gentiles. The importance of this speaks to why Jesus went in to cleanse the temple. By allowing the merchants to come into the court of the Gentiles this rendered the area designated for the Gentiles unclean and therefore useless as a place of worship for them. It's the only place in the temple area that Gentile converts and Gentiles could come to worship God, only place they were allowed to go, and by bringing in animals and money changers, they defiled that area and rendered their prayers in their own mind anyways useless. So even though it was the court of the Gentiles it was still part of the temple and defiling that place defiled all of it, not to mention the hypocrisy and the prejudice that this represented. The money changers paid a portion of their profits to the priests in order to secure their position within the temple walls, within the area of the temple. So it was a money thing. Could you imagine although we don't consider our auditorium "a holy place," but could you imagine if we set up a flea market in there during services at the back? I mean we even discourage kids selling chocolate and for school and that, we kind of tell them you know how about waiting till after services, maybe do that out in the foyer, we don't like the idea of commerce taking place exactly in the place where we offer our worship to God. So for them it was even worse in that context. So there's a little bit of background about the temple in this area and some of the reasons why Jesus did what He did. In John chapter 2 verse 15, it says, "And He made a scourge of cords drove them all out of the temple." So that's when he's saying the temple, he's not talking about the Holy of Holies. For the Jews everything was the temple, even the court of the Gentiles. So He "drove them all out of the temple with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, 'Take these things away; stop making My Father's house a place of business.' His disciples remembered that it was written, 'Zeal for Your house will consume me.'" So Jesus forces these merchants and their goods out. People often see Jesus as the friend of children, the suffering Savior, but in this scene we see Him demonstrating not only his righteous anger in defending what is proper, but also we see His physical power. He was angry and they didn't want to mess with Him. He was taking them out. No one stood in His way. So here He is, thirty years old with a couple of decades working as a carpenter, a stonemason, that meant He was no physical weakling. A lot of scholars they're not in agreement with the idea that He was a carpenter, like a wood carpenter, because there wasn't that much wood in that area, a lot of things were made out of stone, they thought maybe He was a mason, a stonemason; anyways, they quibble over those type of things. Jesus was not afraid of removing those elements that were spoiling the purity of the temple. So in this scene we see Jesus show His humanity. Remember, one strand of the narrative is Jesus the God/Man, so here the emphasis is on man, the man side of God/Man. So we see Him show his humanity as His religious zeal moved Him to a righteous indignation and anger towards those who were in the wrong and this was a very human reaction to injustice, right? I mean we see that even as parents; the older child takes advantage of the younger child. I remember Halloween the kids would go out and get candy and money and I remember one scene where where our eldest was talking, was negotiating with our youngest, and he was saying, 'Now you don't want those little tiny dimes, you want these big nickels. You see they're a lot bigger than the dime so if you give me all your dimes, I'll give you all these precious nickels.' And I overheard that and I was indignant at the injustice that was taking place between our two sons. So being indignant is a human reaction that we have and a lot of times we need that emotion to move us to some sort of action, don't we? To take action against something which is unjust and not right. So Jesus we see that part of Him. So after Jesus is cleansing of the temple area the Jewish leaders, they don't arrest Him, instead they ask to see if He has any sign to confirm that He has a right to do this, after all He might be a prophet. It says, "The Jews then said to Him, 'What sign do you show us as Your authority for doing these things?' And Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' Then the Jews said, 'It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?' But He was speaking of the temple of His body. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken." So Jesus knows their hearts, He knows what's going on inside of them. They don't really want to believe. For people who don't want to believe, no amount of proof is enough. So remember I keep going to the three strands, what have we just seen here, just in this short passage? The Jewish... He does something that creates something about the God/Man and then the reaction of the Jewish priests and the leaders. Belief or disbelief? Disbelief, right? So Jesus reveals in a veiled manner the sign that will furnish undeniable proof of His identity, however, in the end it'll be the proof that will convict them of their disbelief. If you're believing and then receive proof, it confirms your belief, but if you're disbelieving all along and the proof comes out, it's a proof that you were wrong in disbelieving. He will ultimately die because of their rejection and their disbelief, the cause. His resurrection, however, will become not only the proof of his legitimate claim as the Messiah, it'll also be the proof that their disbelief was wrong. Now, of course, the prophecy made here about the destruction of His body and His resurrection as well as the destruction of the city and the temple both were fulfilled, right? So first through His death, burial, and resurrection only three years later His prophecy about 'Destroy this temple in three days it'll be raised.' And also in 70 AD the Roman army laid siege to the city and eventually killed most of the inhabitants and then literally took the city apart stone by stone. Josephus, the Jewish historian, estimates that over a million people were killed during the 70 AD siege, that was just one battle, we're talking over a year, I think 18 months they laid siege to the city of Jerusalem. People died of starvation, they killed each other, and then finally when they went in, they just wiped them all out. So if you travel by city today, Jerusalem, you can still see the huge stones in a rubble at the base of the walls built by the Crusaders. The original stones of Herod's temple are still in rubble. They've left them there, now they're like a tourist attraction, but they're very real. They burned what they could burn. They carried off what precious metal and cloth that they could find. They disassembled the walls. They disassembled the temple. They also, this is significant, they also destroyed the genealogical records that were stored in the temple area by which the Jews could trace their original lines which tribe they belong to. Why was that important? Yes, you had to be able to trace your lineage back to the particular tribe, the tribe of Levi. You had to be able to trace your lineage in order to establish your credentials to serve as a priest of any kind. So this was a deathblow, because without the records there was no way to know for sure what land was your land or determine who could serve as priests. Even if tomorrow the temple area that stands today was destroyed and it all became rubble and all the Jewish people all over the world put their money together and rebuilt the temple and they did it to scale with gold and even if they did that, what would they be missing? Well, they'd be missing priests to offer the sacrifice. Even if they wanted to do that they'd be missing the priests because no one could claim to be a priest according to their laws. Today, there it is, that's the thing I want to show you, today a mosque stands on the spot where the temple and the Holy of Holies once stood and it's called the Dome of the Rock. Now the Jews still believe that one day the temple and the Holy of Holies will be rebuilt. As a matter of fact, they pray for this at the Wailing Wall which is the Western Wall, the only remaining section of wall from that time, it's about a hundred yards from the spot where the Holy of Holies once stood. So a hundred yards from where the Holy of Holies once stood now remains a portion the Western Wall remains, just a portion of that wall and in that wall they between the mortar a lot of holes, the mortars been worn out and so on and so forth and what they do is they write their prayers down and they roll them up in a little scroll and they put them into the little crevices and cracks and so on and so forth into the into the Wailing Wall and, of course, they have a crew that comes in after a while and takes those out and makes room you know for new, just like in a Catholic church you light a candle for your prayer, well, at night somebody comes along and blows all those candles up puts in new candles otherwise they've exhausted the supply, same idea. I remember when I was there many years ago, I asked our guide, Abraham, I said, "So what tribe are you from?" And he says, 'Oh, I'm from the tribe of Judah.' I said, "Really? How do you know?" He said, "Oh, oral tradition.' "Oh, OK," I said, "I'm from the tribe of Judah too." 'How do you know?' "Oral tradition." I mean your word's as good as mine. And so in John chapter 2:23 to 25 John writes, "Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing." Whoops, there's that other strand, right? Some disbelieved, the priests; some believed. "But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man." So John mentions but does not describe the miracles that Jesus does during this time. So He did miracles, we don't know which ones they are. A lot of people believe because of the set miracles but they were not ready to receive His teaching. They were convinced that He was special, but Jesus did not want them, He didn't want to become their leader because He knew that their hearts were not yet turned to God and ready to accept what He was sent to do, because we see one minute they're believing, next minute, they're ready to to kill Him, they're ready to condemn Him. I want you to note that two strands are evident here. Jesus... Three strands, all of them just in what we've done today; Jesus demonstrating His God/Man person, the man part especially; zealous, fulfilling Scripture. He shows His God/ Man, the God side, it says He did many miracles.We see the strand of disbelief: the priests question him basically saying, 'Who do you think you are? What authority do you have to do that? Imagine witnessing a miracle and then saying to Him, 'Who do you think you are?' How strong is that kind of disbelief? And then we see also the belief side where many were beginning to believe to believe in Him. We'll stop there for this week. We start our brand-new section next time, won't have time to do that this time. We'll stop right here for this particular lesson.



Driving of the Merchants From the Temple by Scarsellino
Driving of the Merchants From the Temple by Scarsellino

Jesus is stated to have visited the Temple in Jerusalem, where the courtyard is described as being filled with livestock, merchants, and the tables of the money changers, who changed the standard Greek and Roman money for Jewish and Tyrian money.[1] Jerusalem was packed with Jews who had come for Passover, perhaps numbering 300,000 to 400,000 pilgrims.[5][6]

And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, "Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade."[Jn 2:13–16]

"And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves."

Herod's Temple, referred to in John 2:13, as imagined in the Holyland Model of Jerusalem. It is currently situated adjacent to the Shrine of the Book exhibit at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
Herod's Temple, referred to in John 2:13, as imagined in the Holyland Model of Jerusalem. It is currently situated adjacent to the Shrine of the Book exhibit at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

In Mark 12:40 and Luke 20:47 Jesus accused the Temple authorities of thieving and this time he names poor widows as their victims, going on to provide evidence of this in Mark 12:42 and Luke 21:2. Dove sellers were selling doves that were sacrificed by the poor who could not afford grander sacrifices and specifically by women. According to Mark 11:16, Jesus then put an embargo on people carrying any merchandise through the Temple—a sanction that would have disrupted all commerce.[4][7] This occurred in the outermost court of the gentiles.

Matthew 21:14–16 says the Temple leaders questioned Jesus if he was aware the children were shouting "Hosanna to the Son of David." Jesus responded by saying "from the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise." This phrase incorporates a phrase from the Psalm 8:2, "from the lips of children and infants," believed by followers to be an admission of divinity by Jesus, thus confirming his divinity via prooftexting the Old Testament.[4][7]


Claims about the Temple cleansing episode in the Gospel of John can be combined with non-biblical historical sources to obtain an estimate of when it occurred. John 2:13 states that Jesus went to the Temple in Jerusalem around the start of his ministry and John 2:20 states that Jesus was told:[8][9]

"Forty and six years was this temple in building, and you want to raise it up in three days?"

In the Antiquities of the Jews, first-century historian Flavius Josephus wrote that (Ant 15.380) the temple reconstruction was started by Herod the Great in the 18th year of his reign 22 BC, two years before Augustus arrived in Syria in 20 BC to return the son of Phraates IV and receive in return the spoils and standards of three Roman legions (Ant 15.354).[9][10][11][12] Temple expansion and reconstruction was ongoing, and it was in constant reconstruction until it was destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans.[13] Given that it had taken 46 years of construction to that point, the Temple visit in the Gospel of John has been estimated at any time between 24–29 AD. It is possible that the complex was only a few years completed when the future Emperor Titus destroyed the Temple in 70 AD.[8][9][14][15][16]


Christ Driving the Moneychangers from the Temple by Theodoor Rombouts
Christ Driving the Moneychangers from the Temple by Theodoor Rombouts

David Landry suggests that "the importance of the episode is signaled by the fact that within a week of this incident, Jesus is dead. Matthew, Mark, and Luke agree that this is the event that functioned as the "trigger" for Jesus' death."[17] While most artistic renderings have a more dramatic depiction of Jesus thrashing the merchants, Nathan W. O'Halloran's reading of the Greek word pantas (which means "all") indicates that Jesus took some ropes he found lying around "to drive out the sheep and oxen, like any shepherd or cattle herder would do", followed, no doubt, by their owners.[18] He also notes that as opposed to the account in the Gospel of John, the Synoptics do not make mention of a whip; and that Mark uses the word "drove", as it was used elsewhere for the spirit "driving" Jesus into the desert, or Jesus himself "driving" out demons.

O'Halloran identifies the actions of Jesus with "a calculated prophetic action evocative of the temple condemnation in Jeremiah 7:1-15".[18] The Gospel of Mark uses the phrase, "Then he taught them..." as Jesus references the prophet Jeremiah. The full quotation from Jeremiah reads:

Are you to steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal, go after strange gods that you know not, and yet come to stand before me in this house which bears my name, and say: "We are safe; we can commit all these abominations again"? Has this house which bears my name become in your eyes a den of thieves? I too see what is being done, says the Lord. (Jeremiah 7:9-11)

According to later sources

Christ Driving the Money Changers out of the Temple Valentin de Boulogne
Christ Driving the Money Changers out of the Temple Valentin de Boulogne

Toledot Yeshu

As with other parts of Jesus's story, there are a number of later embellishments to the narrative of the incident that are generally regarded as legendary or polemical by scholars. The Toledot Yeshu, a parody gospel probably first written down about 1,000 years later but possibly dependent on second-century Jewish-Christian gospel[19] if not oral traditions that might go back all the way to the formation of the canonical narratives themselves,[20] claims that Yeshu had entered the Temple with 310 of his followers. That Christ's followers had indeed entered the Temple, and in fact the Holy of Holies,[21] is also claimed by Epiphanius, who claims that James wore the breastplate of the high priest and the high priestly diadem on his head and actually entered the Holy of Holies,[22] and that John the Beloved had become a sacrificing priest who wore the mitre,[23] which was the headdress of the high priest.

Narrative of Joseph of Arimathea

According to the apocryphal Narrative of Joseph of Arimathea, Demas, one of the two robbers who were crucified with Christ,[24] stole the 'secret deposit' of Solomon from the Holy of Holies, an act which Judas blamed on Christ:

He [Demas] made attacks upon the rich, but was good to the poor…And he set his hand to robbing the multitude of the Jews, and stole the law itself in Jerusalem, … And to Caiaphas and the multitude of the Jews it was not a Passover, but it was a great mourning to them, on account of the plundering of the sanctuary by the robber … Judas says to the Jews: Come, let us hold a council; for perhaps it was not the robber that stole the law, but Jesus himself, and I accuse him.[25]

Yeshu was likewise accused of robbing the shem hamphorash, the 'secret name of god' from the Holy of Holies, in the Toledot Yeshu.[26]

In art

The cleansing of the Temple is a commonly depicted event in the Life of Christ, under various titles.

El Greco painted several versions:


See also


  • Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday (1997) ISBN 0-385-24767-2
  • Brown, Raymond E. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, Prentice Hall (1990) ISBN 0-13-614934-0
  • Ched Myers, Binding the Strong Man: A political reading of Mark's story of Jesus, Orbis (1988) ISBN 0-88344-620-0
  • Miller, Robert J. The Complete Gospels, Polebridge Press (1994), ISBN 0-06-065587-9


  1. ^ a b Sanders, E. P. The Historical Figure of Jesus. Penguin, 1993.
  2. ^ Ehrman, Bart D.. Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don't Know About Them), HarperCollins, 2009. ISBN 0-06-117393-2
  3. ^ The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia by Geoffrey W. Bromiley 1988 ISBN 0-8028-3785-9 page 571–572
  4. ^ a b c The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary by Craig A. Evans 2005 ISBN 0-7814-4228-1 page 49
  5. ^ Sanders, E. P. The Historical Figure of Jesus. Penguin, 1993. p. 249
  6. ^ Funk, Robert W. and the Jesus Seminar. The acts of Jesus: the search for the authentic deeds of Jesus. HarperSanFrancisco. 1998.
  7. ^ a b The Fourth Gospel And the Quest for Jesus by Paul N. Anderson 2006 ISBN 0-567-04394-0 page 158
  8. ^ a b Paul L. Maier "The Date of the Nativity and Chronology of Jesus" in Chronos, Kairos, Christos: Nativity and Chronological Studies by Jerry Vardaman, Edwin M. Yamauchi 1989 ISBN 0-931464-50-1 pages 113–129
  9. ^ a b c Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible 2000 Amsterdam University Press ISBN 90-5356-503-5 page 249
  10. ^ The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament by Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum 2009 ISBN 978-0-8054-4365-3 pages 140–141
  11. ^ Encyclopedia of the Historical Jesus by Craig A. Evans 2008 ISBN 0-415-97569-7 page 115
  12. ^ As stated by Köstenberger & Kellum (page 114) there is some uncertainty about how Josephus referred to and computed dates, hence various scholars arrive at slightly different dates for the exact date of the start of the Temple construction, varying by a few years in their final estimation of the date of the Temple visit.
  13. ^ Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, page 246 states that Temple construction never completed, and that the Temple was in constant reconstruction until it was destroyed in 70 AD/CE by the Romans, and states that the 46 years should refers to the actual number of year from the start of the construction.
  14. ^ The Riddles of the Fourth Gospel: An Introduction to John by Paul N. Anderson 2011 ISBN 0-8006-0427-X page 200
  15. ^ Herod the Great by Jerry Knoblet 2005 ISBN 0-7618-3087-1 page 184
  16. ^ Jesus in Johannine Tradition by Robert Tomson Fortna, Tom Thatcher 2001 ISBN 978-0-664-22219-2 page 77
  17. ^ Landry, David. "God in the Details: The Cleansing of the Temple in Four Jesus Films", Journal of Religion and Film, Vol. 13, No. 2 October 2009, University of Nebraska at Omaha
  18. ^ a b O'Halloran SJ, Nathan W., "Jesus, the Whip, and Justifying Violence", The Jesuit Post, Patheos, March 7, 2015
  19. ^ Price, Robert (2003) The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man, p. 40.
  20. ^ Alexander, P. 'Jesus and his Mother in the Jewish Anti-Gospel (the Toledot Yeshu)', in eds. C. Clivaz et al., Infancy Gospels, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck GmbH & Co. KG, 2011, pp. 588-616.
  21. ^ Goldstein, Morris. Jesus in the Jewish Tradition. New York, NY: The Macmillan Company, 1950, p. 152.
  22. ^ Bauckham, The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple, p. 45.
  23. ^ Eisenman, Robert, Maccabees, Zadokites, Christians, and Qumran: A New Hypothesis of Qumran Origins. Nashville, TN: Grave Distractions Publications, 2013, p. 10.
  24. ^ Matthew 27:38.
  25. ^ Narrative of Joseph of Arimathæa, 1. in The Catholic Encyclopedia
  26. ^ Zindler, Frank R. The Jesus the Jews Never Knew. Cranford, NJ: American Atheist Press, 2003, pp. 318–319, 428–431.

External links

Cleansing of the Temple
Preceded by
Wedding in Cana in John 2

or Triumphal Entry in the Synoptic Gospels

New Testament


Succeeded by
Jesus & Nicodemus in John 3

or Fig Tree Cursed in the Synoptic Gospels

This page was last edited on 17 October 2018, at 23:30
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