Temple Mount Southern Stairs

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Temple Southern Stairs & Pentecost




The Southern Stairs are located at the southern part of the Temple Mount at the Davidson Center.


Historical Background


1. The Southern Stairs were one of the main entrances from the south to the Temple Mount during the time of Christ.


2. King Herod had them redone and made them staggered so no one could enter the presence of God without being thoughtful in the process. 


3. The width of the stairs was hundreds of feet wide, so they provided plenty of space for congregating and teaching.


4. They were the main access to the temple from the City of David and the western area of the city, where most of the population lived. 


5. Multitudes arrived at the stairs by using the Pilgrim's Road (Herodian St.) that connected the Pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount. As they ascended this road, they would sing the songs of ascent found in Psalms 120-134.


6. The Pool of Siloam was a massive mikveh at the lower part of the City of David that was used by the Jews for purification purposes before entering the Temple Mount. 


7. There were also many purification mikvehs at the base of the Southern Stairs as well (around 48 total).  


8. The Southern Stairs were also called “The Rabbis’ Stairs” or the “Teaching Stairs” as rabbis taught their disciples on them.


9. There is no doubt Jesus would have walked on these stairs and taught His disciples here. It’s also likely that the young Apostle Paul sat here under the teaching of Gamaliel as well (Acts 22:3).


10. The stairs were cut out of the bedrock of the mountain and part of them can still be seen today.


11. It’s very likely that part of Pentecost took place here or ended up here.

12. The other main entrance to the Temple Mount from the south was Robinson's Arch Stairway. The southern stairs and Robinson's Arch Stairway accommodated pilgrims accessing the Temple Mount from Pilgrim's Road. This road led from the Pool of Siloam up to the Temple Mount.


Places of Interest


1. Herodian Stones

2. Herod's Temple Mount expansion section

3. Trumpeter's Cornerstone (House of the Trumpeter) The original is in the Israel Museum. This one is an exact replica.


The Jewish historian, Josephus, writes about this in his writings. Three blowings of the trumpet took place: (1) for the farmers to stop their work (2) for the shopkeepers to close down, and (3) for the Sabbath to officially begin (or other holy feasts).

4. Shops

5. Broken Pavement from the stones that fell during the Roman destruction in 70 AD

6. Burnt layers in the Western Wall from the Roman destruction


7. Southern Stairs

8. Royal Stoa - Large public meeting building on the south side of the Temple Mount just above the Southern Stairs.


9. Southern Stairs entrance doors to the Temple Mount


10. Crusader tower


11. Original stairs


12. Temple Mount


13. Upper Room


14. Pool of Siloam


15. Pilgrim's Road (Herodian St.) from the Pool of Siloam to the Southern Stairs and Robinson's Arch Stairway


16. Mikvehs by the Southern Stairs


17. City of David


18. Jerusalem in the time of Christ

The Southern Stairs and Pentecost in the Bible 


1. Pentecost means 50. 


2. Fifty days after Passover, the Jewish feast of Pentecost (Shavuot) was celebrated, which was primarily a thanksgiving for the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, but it was later associated with a remembrance of the Law given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. At this feast, the Jews were to give God the firstfruits of their wheat harvest. 


3. Pentecost also marks 50 days from the time the Israelites left Egypt and arrived at Mount Sinai where God gave them the 10 Commandments and the Law.


4. Pentecost happened 50 days after Passover. There were 40 days from the resurrection of Christ to His ascension, and then 10 days from Christ’s ascension to Pentecost, for a total of 50 days.


5. Interestingly, the Jewish nation was born at Mount Sinai 50 days after leaving Egypt, and the Church was born at Pentecost 50 days after Christ’s resurrection.


Reasons why Pentecost could have happened at the Southern Stairs.


1. It is unlikely that Pentecost took place in the Upper Room as a multitude gathered and witnessed this astounding event. The Upper Room couldn’t have handled such a large crowd of 15,000–30,000.
Acts 2:1–6: When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 


Acts 2:14: But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 


2. Scripture says the coming of the Holy Spirit filled a house, it doesn’t mention the Upper Room.  


3. The temple is referred to as the House of the Lord, or just house, in many places in the Bible.

John 2:17: The Zeal for your house will consume me.

Matthew 21:12-13: And Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those who were selling and buying on the temple grounds, and He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 13 And He said to them, “It is written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a den of robbers.”


House can also refer to just a covered area as well. 

At the southern side of the Temple Mount, just above the Southern Stairs, was the Royal Stoa. It was a public meeting place with a large roof. This could have been a likely place where Pentecost began.  

4. The Hebrew word for "house" in Acts 2:2 is "Har Ha Bait," which means "the mountain of THE house," or simply put, "the dwelling place of God." This meaning would support the idea that Pentecost most likely took place on the Temple Mount and then the 3,000 who were saved were then baptized in the many mikvehs on the Southern Stairs.


5. The coming of the Holy Spirit happened at nine in the morning, which was the time of morning prayers at the temple. The disciples regularly went to the temple at the times of prayer.
Acts 2:15: For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour [9:00 am] of the day.


Acts 3:1: Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.


6. Many scholars say that during the Passover in Christ’s time that Jerusalem swelled to around 150,000 people or more. 

7. Peter spoke boldly as he was enabled by the Holy Spirit
Acts 2:14-21: But Peter, taking his stand with the other eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, [n]know this, and pay attention to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you assume, since it is only the third hour of the day; 16 but this is what has been spoken through the prophet Joel: 17 ‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions, and your old men will have dreams; 18 and even on My male and female servants, and they will prophesy. 19 And I will display wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth below, blood, fire, and vapor of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the great and glorious day of the Lord comes. 21 And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

8. Peter's message was based on Old Testament prophecy.

Acts 2:22-28: “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a Man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— 23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24 But God raised Him from the dead, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. 25 For David says of Him, ‘I saw the Lord continually before me, because He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue was overjoyed; moreover my flesh also will live in hope; 27 For You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of gladness with Your presence.’

9. Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies concerning the promised Messiah.

Acts 2:29-36:  “Brothers, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 So because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. 32 It is this Jesus whom God raised up, a fact to which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore, since He has been exalted at the right hand of God, and has received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, He has poured out this which you both see and hear. 34 For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, 35 Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”’ 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”

10. The response of many who heard this message.

Acts 2:37-42: Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what are we to do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far away, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” 40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on urging them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” 41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.


11. The Temple Mount and Southern Stair area could easily have handled the large crowd of 15,000 – 30,000 who gathered at Pentecost.


12. Acts 2:41 says 3,000 were saved and baptized. Around the Southern Stairs are many mikveh cleansing pools that could have been used for baptizing those who were saved. 


13. The Southern part of the Temple Mount would have been a natural place for Pentecost to happen as it was a center of public activities.


14. The Upper Room is over one-half mile (.83 Km.) from the Temple Mount, which is a long distance away. Most likely, too far away for a large crowd to move from to the Temple Mount area for baptisms, etc.


15. The Upper Room area was a residential neighborhood, and there's no reason 15,000-30,000 people would have been there when the events of Pentecost happened that drew such a large crowd.


16. The Southern Stairs and southern part of the Temple Mount is the best candidate for Pentecost as they could easily handle 15,000 – 30,000 people. This area also had all the mikvehs necessary for baptizing and space to handle such a large crowd.


Faith Lesson from the Southern Stairs and Pentecost


1. Pentecost is a fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies.


2. It’s amazing to see the many pictures in the Old Testament that are fulfilled in the New Testament. 


  • The Old Testament Passover lamb is fulfilled by Christ the New Testament Passover Lamb.

  • The Jewish nation was formally born at Mount Sinai on Pentecost. The Christian Church was born at Pentecost as well.

  • The Passover lamb was sacrificed on Passover afternoon at 3:00 pm. Christ died on the Cross as our sacrifice at 3:00 pm on Passover as well.


3. Do we understand how prophecy fits into validating God’s Word?


4. Do we understand the meta-narrative (God’s large master plan) of God’s story?


5. Do I see how God gave examples and pieces to His meta-narrative in the Old Testament and then fulfilled and amplified these examples in the New Testament?


6. Have I received the Holy Spirit as a result of trusting Christ as my Lord and Savior?


7. Have I been baptized?


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