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Jesus of Nazareth

—A Landmarks of Faith Seminar—

Jesus of Nazareth Seminar

Scroll and Synagogue:
Jewish Religion in the Time of Jesus

booklet  See notes below.

Lecture #2a:

Or click here for more listening options at Internet Archive.

Jesus of Nazareth Lecture #2b ⮞
⮜ Jesus of Nazareth Lecture #1b


Lecture #2a Notes


Herod the Great: King of the Jews when Jesus was born.

The First Temple (the Temple of Solomon) stood from 1,000 BC to 586 BC when it was destroyed by the Babylonians.

The Second Temple (of Zerubbabel) was built in 530 BC. Herod’s reconstruction of the Second Temple was begun in 20 BC. The Second Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, forty years after the resurrection of Jesus.

The Third Temple, according to many of the rabbis, will be built when Messiah comes.

Temple Chart
According to the rabbis, the Second Temple was inferior to the First Temple because it lacked the Ark of the Covenant, the holy fire that had descended on the altar, the Shekinah (the glory of God’s presence), the spirit of prophecy, and the Urim & Thumim.

Mark 13:1: Look, teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings! (Mark 13:1; also Luke 21:5).

Discovery: The location of the 500 x 500 cubit pre-Herodian Temple platform.


1) Israel: The Land (in Hebrew: Ha-Aretz).

2) The walled cities of Israel.

3) Jerusalem (Yerushalayim): The Holy City.

4) The Temple Mount platform (Har Ha-Bayit): 35 acres (14 hectares) in size, the area of 31 U.S. football fields.

Temple Diagram
The Temple of God in the Time of Jesus the Messiah

Mark 11:17: Is it not written, My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations [the Gentiles])? But you have made it a robbers’ den.

Discovery: Ritual bath buildings at the entrance to the Temple Mount with more than thirty-six ritual baths (mikvaoth).

Luke 2:22: And when the days for their purification according to the Law of Moses were completed, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord

Acts 2:41: So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls

Discovery: Entrance stairway to the Temple Mount (the teaching stairs of the rabbis).

Psa. 100:4: Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise

Rabbi Gamaliel: The Jewish religious teacher of the apostle Paul (Acts 22:3).

Huldah Gates: The southern entrance gates to the Temple Mount.

Sanhedrin: The Court of the Elders. The Great Sanhedrin Council of seventy members was the Supreme Court of the Jewish people. There were also lesser sanhedrins around the country that served as lower courts.

Discovery: Monumental inscription found at the eastern Huldah gates mentions the Sanhedrin Council (the Council of Elders).

Temple Main Entrance
The Royal Portico and Main Entrance to the Temple of God in the Time of Jesus the Messiah
Portico: A covered walk with a roof supported by columns on one side and a wall on the other.

The Portico of Solomon: The eastern portico of the Temple where Jesus’ disciples often met.

John 10:23: Jesus was walking in the Temple in the Portico of Solomon

Acts 5:12: They were all with one accord in Solomon’s Portico

5) Terrace (Chel): A raised platform around the inner Temple area. This area and those inside it were permitted only to Jews. Signs were posted that said: No foreigner is to enter the fence and barrier around the Temple. Anyone caught doing so is answerable to himself for the death that will follow.

Acts 21:27-30: This is the man [Paul] who preaches to all men everywhere against our people...and besides he has even brought Greeks into the Temple and has defiled this holy place

Eph. 2:14: For he himself is our peace, who made both [Jews and Gentiles who believe in him] one and destroyed the dividing wall of the fence, the hostility between the two, in his flesh

Luke 2:46: They found him in the Temple, sitting among the teachers

6) Court of the (Jewish) Women: Women could go no further for ordinary worship.

Beautiful Gate: The eastern entrance to the Court of the Women.

Acts 3:6: I don’t have silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus the Messiah of Nazareth, rise up and walk!

John 8:20: These words he spoke in the Treasury, as he taught in the Temple

The four enclosed areas in the corners of the Court of the Women: the chamber of lepers (NW), the chamber of the Nazirites (SE), the chamber of wood for the sacrifices (NE), and the chamber of oils (SW).

7) Court of the Israelites (Jewish Men).

Nicanor Gate: The eastern entrance to the Court of the Temple, opening directly onto the Court of the Israelites.

Matt. 5:23,24: If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there…and first be reconciled to your brother. Then come and present your offering

8) Court of the Priests.

The chambers around the Court of the Priests were used for storing priestly vestments, a dining hall, fires for barefoot priests, sleeping quarters, preparation of the Showbread (Bread of the Presence), lambs awaiting the daily sacrifice, passage to ritual baths below, salt for the altar, and a place to salt the skins of sacrifices and to wash the sacrifices.

9) Sanctuary (Holy Place). Contained the Menorah (Golden Lampstand), the Table of Showbread (Bread of the Presence), and the Altar of Incense.

10) Holy of Holies. This innermost area was separated by two curtains from the Sanctuary (the Holy Place).

Jer. 3:16: And it will be in those days…they will no longer say, The Ark of the Covenant of the LORD. And it will not come to mind…nor will it be made again.

SYNAGOGUE (Beth Kenneset)

Discovery: Four synagogues have been found in Israel from the time of Jesus, as well as a synagogue inscription in Jerusalem, likely from the Synagogue of the Freedmen (mentioned in Acts 6:9).

Minyan: The required minimum number of adult men for a service in a synagogue.

Ark: A chest containing the scrolls of the Bible in a synagogue. In Jesus’ day this had wheels and was moveable.

Torah: Instruction. Hebrew name for the five books of Moses. A section from the Torah was read in the services on Sabbath, festivals, and the second and fifth days of the week.

Parchment: Animal skins used for making Bible scrolls.

Haftarah: The reading from the prophets in the synagogue service.

Darashah: The sermon.

Synagogue Diagram
Diagram of the synagogue in Capernaum. The main doors (a) face Jerusalem, the direction worshipers faced during services. There was likely a Seat of Moses, as discovered at nearby Chorazin (b). The ark (chest) for the scrolls was brought in for services and taken out when they were over (c). There was a table on which to lay the scrolls for reading (d).

Luke 4:16-17: As was his custom, he…stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. And he opened the scroll and found the place where it was written…

Luke 4:20-21: And he closed the scroll…and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him

Matt. 23:2-3: The scribes and Pharisees have seated themselves in the seat of Moses...

Discovery: A seat of Moses from the synagogue at Chorazin.


Let’s test your thoughts about the Pharisees with a true/false quiz:

  • a) Jesus thought the Pharisees had correct views about the Bible. True or false?
  • b) Jesus told his disciples to obey the Pharisees. True or false?
  • c) Some of Jesus followers were Pharisees. True or false?

Matt. 23:3: ...therefore all that they say to you [from the seat], do and obey...

Acts 23:6: I [Paul] am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees...

Quiz #2:

  • a) Do you believe in the resurrection of the dead?
  • b) Do you believe there are spiritual messengers of God (angels)?
  • c) Do you believe that the soul of man will live forever (eternal life)?
  • d) Do you believe in a literal, physical, personal Messiah?

Acts 23:8: The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit

Exodus 15:1: Then Moses and the sons of Israel will sing this song to the LORD.

Luke 20:37: But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob (see Exodus 2:6).

Other verses used by the Rabbis to prove the resurrection include: Deut. 32:39; Josh. 8:30; Ps. 84:5, 116:9; Isa. 25:8, 35:1-10, 40:31; Ezekiel 37 (Sanh. 91b).

Matt. 23:13-15,23,25,27,29: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites…

Matt. 23:3: Do not do according to their deeds; for they say things, and do not do them

Copyright © 1999-2002, 2008, 2012, 2020 by Jeffrey J. Harrison.
Many of the Scripture verses quoted have been translated or modified by the author to bring out details of the original Greek or Hebrew text. Otherwise: Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, ©Copyright the Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995. Used by permission.
Unattributed photos are by the author. All rights reserved.