The view from the Royal Bridge as talked about in the previous text must have been splendid. It was over this bridge that they led the Saviour, in sight of all Jerusalem, to and from the palace of the High Priest, to the Sanhedrin, and to Pilate. From here the eye could look out over the city and see suburbs, lovely orchards, and many beautiful gardens. The most beautiful of gardens being the royal gardens to the south, called ‘the garden of roses’. You could continue to look over all this and see the hazy outlines of the mountains in the distance. If you looked over the bridge, the Tyropoeon Valley lay below. The valley stretched to depths of 225 feet deep.
The roadway which spanned the Tyropoeon Valley was 354 feet long and 50 feet wide. It was 5 feet wider than the Royal Temple Porch, or more commonly known as Solomon’s Porch, to which it led. These “porches” were among the finest architectural features of the Temple. They ran all around the inside of its wall, and bounded the outer enclosure of the Court of the Gentiles.
The “porches” consisted of double rows of Corinthian pillars and were all monoliths: That is, they were wholly cut out of one block of marble and each pillar was 37 1/2 feet high. A flat roof, richly ornamented, rested against the wall into which the outer row of pillars was inserted. There possibly may have been towers where one colonnade joined the other. The Royal Porch which was the main entrance to the Temple, was the most splendid. The other porches around it had double colonnades, but at the main entrance there was a treble colonnade, formed of 162 pillars. These pillars ranged in four rows of 40 pillars each, with the two odd pillars serving as a kind of screen, where the “porch” opened upon the bridge.
The Royal Porch, or Solomon’s Porch
Indeed, the Royal Porch consisted of a central nave 45 feet wide, with gigantic pillars 100 feet high, and had two aisles that were 30 feet wide, with pillars 50 feet high. This Royal Porch is said to have occupied the site on which sat the ancient palace of Solomon.
What a magnificent work just this one porch must have been, and this was only one of the porches which formed the southern enclosure of the first and outermost court of the Temple – that of the Gentiles. The view from the very top of this colonnade into the Kedron Valley was a stupendous depth of 450 feet. It is from here that tradition has placed that pinnacle of the Temple to which Satan tried to tempt Jesus to fall from.
These halls or porches around the Court of the Gentiles must have been convenient places for friendly or religious meetings or discussions. It was here that Jesus came when He was a child, and here that he later taught the people. It must have been here where the Christians gathered to be preached to or taught from the Word.
Even though this is a model of what it is believed to look like, it must have been a cool place to meet and discuss the relevant issues of the day. Permission was given to use this model from www.inisrael.com/holyland/index.html
Court Of The Gentiles
It was the rule when entering the Temple to enter in on the right and leave on the left. The Court of the Gentiles formed the lowest or outer enclosure of the Sanctuary. It was paved with the finest variegated marble. According to Jewish tradition, it formed a square of 750 feet. Its name is derived from the fact that any person, Jew or Gentile, could come in provided that they observed the rules and regulations and were reverent.
According to tradition, there were eating and sleeping apartments for the Levites, and a synagogue. Despite the best of efforts, though, the noise level must have been great at the Passover. There were oxen, sheep, and doves that were sold in the market as suitable for sacrifices. It was here where the money-changers were selling their wares when Jesus overthrew them and drove them out.
On the far side of the court, there was a marble screen 4 1/2 feet high and very beautifully ornamented that bore Greek and Latin inscriptions warning Gentiles not to proceed any further into the Temple. They were warned they would be killed if they went any further. One of those tablets has been excavated bearing almost the same words that Josephus, the historian, used to describe them. This was the reason the multitude set about to kill Paul in later years. They thought that he had infringed upon this order for Gentiles not to enter the Temple. The Jews were very serious about who entered the Temple as they considered it a Holy Place.
After the Jew went beyond the sign, there was a flight of fourteen steps, each being nine inches high, that led upward to a terrace fifteen feet broad, called the ‘Chel’. This bounded the inner wall of the Temple itself. The Sanctuary itself consisted of three courts, each higher than the former, and beyond them was the Holy and Most Holy Places, with their outbuildings.
Picture of the Court of the Gentiles
The ‘Beautiful Gate’
There were nine gates that opened into the Temple – four from the north, four from the south, and the principal gate from the east. The eight gates from the north and south were all two-leaved, wide, high, with superstructures and chambers supported by two pillars, and covered with gold and silver plating. They were very beautiful, but far more magnificent than any of these was the ninth or eastern gate. This gate formed the principal entrance into the Temple. The ascent to it was from the terrace by twelve steps.
The gate itself was made of dazzling Corinthian brass and very richly ornamented. Its double doors were so massive that it took the strength of 20 men united to open and close them.
On the steps leading to and around the gate lay crippled people who begged for money to live on. This was where the lame man lay that day when Peter and John walked this way to worship in the Temple. They must have seen him before and probably most of Jerusalem knew him, also. That’s probably why there was so much wonder and amazement at the sight of the man walking and leaping and praising God. Solomon’s Porch was close by, so it’s easy to see how the people would have gathered there to listen to the sermon by Peter telling about the power upon him that enabled him to do this miraculous thing.
The picture below is of the Damascus Gate, which is the oldest gate still standing in this area. It is also the most ornamental, and maybe can give you an example of how massive and beautiful these gates must have been when Jerusalem was shining in all its glory.