Jesus' first visit (in his memory) to the temple in Jerusalem


P.1377 - §3 From the time they left Nazareth until they reached the summit of the Mount of Olives, Jesus experienced one long stress of expectant anticipation. All through a joyful childhood he had reverently heard of Jerusalem and its temple; now he was soon to behold them in reality. From the Mount of Olives and from the outside, on closer inspection, the temple had been all and more than Jesus had expected; but when he once entered its sacred portals, the great disillusionment began.

A considerable company (103 persons) leave for Jerusalem on August 4, 7 BC (Monday)

Monday (the first Day): They camp around Scythopolis.

Tuesday (the second day): They reach Mount Sarbata

Wednesday (the third day): They stay at Jericho.

Thursday (the fourth day): They reach the place prearranged for accommodation in Jerusalem during the Passover week. Joseph takes Jesus to an academy for his future study.Friday (the fifth day): Jesus goes through the consecration ritual and views the temple. He insists that Joseph accept Simon's invitation to celebrate the Passover together.

Friday (the fifth day): Jesus goes through the consecration ritual and views the temple. He insists that Joseph accept Simon's invitation to celebrate the Passover together.


source: J B Phillips

From Bethany, Jesus approaches the temple from the East, through the Golden Gate on the eastern side of the temple.
British Museum

Probable routs that Joseph (J), Mary (M) and Jesus (j) followed during Jesus' first temple visit.

1. Joseph, Mary and Jesus enter the temple through the Golden Gate.

(Inner court = upper court, outer court = lower court.)

2. They enter the Women's Court through the northern general entrance.

3. Mary stays in Women's gallery.

4. Joseph and Jesus enter the Court of Israel through the Nicanor gate.

5. Joseph and Jesus return to Women's Court to meet Mary.

6. Joseph and Jesus exit Women's court through the Southern general entrance.

7. After strolling the Court of Gentiles, Joseph and Jesus enter the Court of Israel through Water Gate to watch sacrifices.

8. They exit the Court of Israel through the same gate, walk around and see the Gate Beautiful, which is made of Corinthian bronze. Then enter the gate, returning to the Upper Court, and meet Mary.

There seems to be some confusion as to what areas the upper and lower courts represent. The Upper Court or Inner Court is higher than the Lower Court. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the Upper Court shows an area of 187 cubits by 135, and the lower court 135 by 135.

However, according to Hisham Nashabi, who cites an old source

"Hence by a street which bends a little towards the south one comes through the Beautiful Gate of the Temple to the Temple of the Lord, crossing about the middle of the city; where one mounts from the lower court to the upper one by twenty-two steps, and from the upper court one enters the Temple. In front of these same steps in the lower court there are twenty-five steps or more, leading down into a great pool, from which it is said there is a subterranean connection with the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, through which the holy fire which is miraculously lighted in that church on Easter Even is said to be brought underground to the Temple of the Lord."

This paragraph suggests that the Temple is in the upper court, 22 steps above the lower court, which is below the temple. This interepretation, rather that Encyclopedia Britannica, is consistent with the UB story that "they [Joseph and Jesus] returned to the upper court for Mary." The British Museum's model shows the temple and Women's Court on a higher level, several steps above the Court of Gentiles.


9. Joseph, Mary and Jesus leave the temple through the Golden Gate and return to Bethany to celebrate the Passover.

  Sabbath (May 9) : the templce services were more acceptable to Jesus.

Sunday (May 10, AD 7)

1. Jesus (J) and Lazarus (L) enter the Golden Gate.

2. They enter the Holy of Holies a few times.

3. The exit the upper court.

4. Jesus and Lazarus watch the conferences which are held on the stairs and within the Court of Gentiles. They stay behind the rails/balustrades which separate them from the Israelite citizens. That evening Jesus stays with Lazarus in Bethany.


Shmuel Safri suggests that this temple discussion might have taken place in the Chamber of Hewn Stone, which was the regular meeting room of the Sanhedrin:

"Young Jesus took advantage of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to question the learned teachers about interpretations of Scripture, as well as to express opinions of his own. This is also in keeping with the rabbinic motif that one of the most important purposes of pilgrimage is to study Torah:

Rabbi Eliezer says: “When one brings the sacrifices that one has vowed to the temple, he enters the Chamber of Hewn Stone and sees sages and their disciples sitting and engaging in the study of Torah. The sight inspires him also to study Torah.”
Rabbi Ishmael says: “When one brings the second tithe to the temple, he enters the Chamber of Hewn Stone and sees sages and their disciples sitting and engaging in the study of Torah. The sight inspires him also to study Torah.” (Midrash Tannaim to Deuteronomy 14:23)

Both Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Ishmael lived while the Second Temple was still standing and their words reflect the reality of that period."

Half of this Chamber of Hewn Stone was outside the temple, and hence it was accessible in the upper court.

Shmuel Safri continues:

"When Jesus was finally arrested, he berated his captors for coming to arrest him at such a late hour when he had been sitting daily in the temple courtyards teaching (Mt. 26:55; Mk. 14:48-49; Lk. 22:52-53; cf. Jn. 18:20). Jesus apparently taught in the temple courtyards in a manner similar to that of Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai who used to “sit and teach daily in the shade of the sanctuary” (Babylonian Talmud, Pesahim 26a)."

The shade of the sanctuary is in front of the Chamber of Hewn Stone and thereabout. Jesus might have taught in the neighborhood of the temple, as well as at the Solomon's portico.




Wednesday: Jesus was permitted to go home with Lazarus to spend the night at Bethany.

Thursday - Friday: Jesus accompanies his parents and Nazareth teacher to one of the best known academies of the rabbis, but Jesus showed little interest.

Sabbath (May 16): rest


Sunday (May 17)

Around noon, the Jerusalem group gather in the temple and depart for Nazareth.

  Jesus watch temple discussions but do not participate in them.
  Monday (May 18)
  Jesus goes to the temple to participate in the temple discussions. Mary and Joseph retrace their steps to search for Jesus.
  In the second conference Jesus begins to ask questions. At the end of the day, he returns to Bethany.
  Tuesday (May 19, Third Day in the Temple)
  Jesus asks five questions. At the end, Simon and Jesus return to Bethany.
  Wednesday (May 20, Fourth day in the temple)
  Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the temple while strolling through the courts of the temple. This implies that the temple discussions had been held, not in the Court of Israel or Court of the Priests, but probably outside these areas, where passersby can easily view the conference. The location could have been in Royal Stoa, Solomon's portico or on the steps between the Inner and Outer Courts.