Jerusalem during the New Testament

By the time of the New Testament, the ancient city of Jerusalem had been transformed from the relatively small fortress of David’s day (2 Samuel 5:6-10; 1 Chronicles 11:4-9) into a major city with a Temple that rivaled the greatest temples in the Roman world. Just prior to Jesus’ birth, Herod the Great completely renovated and expanded the Temple of the Lord, and he also built a lavish palace for himself, various pools (where Jesus occasionally performed healings), public buildings, and military citadels, including the Antonia Fortress, which overlooked the Temple. Wealthy residents, including the high priest, occupied extravagant houses in the Upper City, while the poorer residents were relegated to less desirable areas like the Lower City. The Essene Quarter was so named because many of its residents belonged to the Essenes, a strict religious sect that was known for its careful attention to the law of Moses. Across the Kidron Valley lay the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus often met with his disciples (Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-53; John 18:1-14). Further east was the Mount of Olives, where Jesus began his triumphal entry one week before his crucifixion (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-19), taught his disciples about the last days (Matthew 24-25; Mark 13), and eventually ascended to heaven after his resurrection (Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:1-11).

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