Places of Interest
Antonia Fortress: Pilate’s Judgment Hall
1. The Antonia Fortress was located just outside the Temple Mount area on its northwestern side.
2. Today, there is a school and a Convent of the Sisters of Zion that lies atop the ruins.
3. Part of the ruins of the Antonia Fortress can be accessed through the Convent of the Sisters of Zion.
4. The Antonia Fortress is the believed beginning place of the Via Dolorosa (painful path).
1. The Antonia Fortress was a military headquarters and barracks built by Herod the Great in 19 BC to protect the Temple Mount area and the city of Jerusalem. It was named after Herod’s patron, Mark Antony.
2. Jesus appeared before Pilate here and was condemned to death by crucifixion.
3. Some believe that Pilate’s Headquarters were at his palace located on the northern side of Jerusalem by the Jaffa Gate. However, in the biblical account, there are references to soldiers being present, and other details which seems to indicate Pilate’s Headquarters were at the Antonia Fortress.
4. Some believe that the Antonia Fortress encompassed all the current Temple Mount and that the original Temple Mount was in the City of David. However, Scripture clearly states that at the dedication of the temple that Solomon built, in 2 Chronicles 5, that the Ark of the covenant was brought, “out of the City of David” to the temple. “Then Solomon assembled to Jerusalem the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers’ households of the sons of Israel, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the City of David, which is Zion” (2 Chron. 5:2). If the Ark was brought out of the City of David to the temple, then the temple couldn't have been in the City of David. There is also overwhelming historical and archaeological evidence, and the writings of the famous Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, that contradict the belief that the Antonia Fortress encompassed all the Temple Mount.
Places of Interest
1. Ecce Homo Arch (behold the man)
2. Convent of the Sisters of Zion
3. Cistern hewed out of the rock
4. Pavement stones with Roman carved games on them
5. Pavement stones with carved grooves
6. Mural of Jesus bearing His cross
Antonia Fortress in the Bible
1. The Jewish leaders brought Jesus before Pilate to be judged outside the Antonia Fortress.
John 18:28–38: Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor's headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor's headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate went outside to them and said, "What accusation do you bring against this man?" 30 They answered him, "If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you." 31 Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law." The Jews said to him, "It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death." 32 This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" 34 Jesus answered, "Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?" 35 Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?" 36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world." 37 Then Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice." 38 Pilate said to him, "What is truth?"
2. Pilate finds no guilt in Jesus.
John 18:38–40: After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, "I find no guilt in him. 39 But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?" 40 They cried out again, "Not this man, but Barabbas!" Now Barabbas was a robber.
3. Pilate’s wife shares a dream she had about Jesus.
Matthew 27:19–20: While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.” 20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death.
4. Jesus is led before Herod (Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great).
Luke 23:5–11: But they kept on insisting, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching all over Judea, starting from Galilee even as far as this place.” 6 When Pilate heard it, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7 And when he learned that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who himself also was in Jerusalem at that time. 8 Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus; for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about Him and was hoping to see some sign performed by Him. 9 And he questioned Him at some length; but He answered him nothing. 10 And the chief priests and the scribes were standing there, accusing Him vehemently. 11 And Herod with his soldiers, after treating Him with contempt and mocking Him, dressed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him back to Pilate.
5. Jesus reappears before Pilate and is condemned to crucifixion.
John 19: 1–16: Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. 2 And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. 3 They came up to him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and struck him with their hands. 4 Pilate went out again and said to them, "See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him." 5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, "Behold the man!" 6 When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him." 7 The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God." 8 When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. 9 He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, "Where are you from?" But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 So Pilate said to him, "You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?" 11 Jesus answered him, "You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore, he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin." 12 From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, "If you release this man, you are not Caesar's friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar." 13 So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, "Behold your King!" 15 They cried out, "Away with him, away with him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." 16 So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.
6. The Antonia Fortress is the believed place where the Via Dolorosa begins.
7. Paul addressed an angry mob from the Antonia Fortress.
Acts 21:27–40: When the seven days were almost over, the Jews from Asia, upon seeing him [Paul] in the temple, began to stir up all the crowd and laid hands on him, 28 crying out, “Men of Israel, come to our aid! This is the man who preaches to all men everywhere against our people and the Law and this place; and besides he has even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” 29 For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. 30 Then all the city was provoked, and the people rushed together, and taking hold of Paul they dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut. 31 While they were seeking to kill him, a report came up to the commander of the Roman cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. 32 At once he took along some soldiers and centurions and ran down to them; and when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33 Then the commander came up and took hold of him, and ordered him to be bound with two chains; and he began asking who he was and what he had done. 34 But among the crowd some were shouting one thing and some another, and when he could not find out the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. 35 When he got to the stairs, he was carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob; 36 for the multitude of the people kept following them, shouting, “Away with him!” 37 As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the commander, “May I say something to you?” And he said, “Do you know Greek? 38 Then you are not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?” 39 But Paul said, “I am a Jew of Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no insignificant city; and I beg you, allow me to speak to the people.” 40 When he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the stairs, motioned to the people with his hand; and when there was a great hush, he spoke to them in the Hebrew dialect.
Faith Lesson from the Antonia Fortress
1. Christ had all the power to bring about justice for Himself, but He willingly allowed Himself to be wrongly accused in order to pay for our sins. Are we willing to be wrongly accused for our faith as well?
2. Paul suffered at the Antonia Fortress for his faith. Are we willing to boldly proclaim our faith and suffer as a result if necessary?