Jerusalem

Jerusalem as Jesus saw it in the days before his crucifixion was still the city created by Herod the Great, although the hated ruler had been dead for three decades. Herod had admired Greek culture and Roman power, and wanted to make his kingdom a notable cultural and political province of the Roman Empire. He had sought, too, the allegiance of his Jewish subjects, and he considered the temple (A) at Jerusalem his finest achievement. Jesus preached in the Court of the Gentiles (B) which Herod’s builders had doubled in size and surrounded with an elaborate Hellenistic portico. Herod’s palace-fortress, named the Antonia (C) for his benefactor Mark Antony, was the place where Jesus may have been tried before Pontius Pilate. The sports hippodrome (D), theater (E), and viaduct (F) linking the temple with Herod’s grand fortified palace (G) were similar to ones built by Herod in other cities. The Mount of Olives (H) where Jesus prayed was outside the city, opposite the eastern wall of the temple. We can only speculate on the appearance of Jerusalem then, since building enterprises could go on for years. The temple complex was actually completed only a few years before the Romans destroyed it in A.D. 70.

[illustration] This illustration by Victor Lazerro is from Reader’s Digest Great People of the Bible and How They Lived. © 1974 The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc. Used by permission.