Chapter 2: Topical Index
Confirmation that the Temple was being turned into a marketplace during the time of Jesus can be found in some early Jewish writings. First of all, there is a record of the common practice of setting up money changers in the temple area during Passover. The Talmud states the following:
"Beginning on the 1st of Adar ( the month before Passover), a proclamation was made to the people that they should prepare the Shekalim . . . On the 15th day of Adar, moneychangers were sent out to collect the Half-Shekel for its donation . . . On the 25th day of Adar, moneychangers were installed in the Temple itself to help in the collecting the Half-Shekel donation" Megillah 29a-b
Not only were the moneychangers robbing the people, but history records that excessive prices were being charged by those who were selling animals used in Temple sacrifice.
For example, according to Leviticus 12:6-8, after an Israelite woman had given birth, she was to bring a sacrifice to the temple, preferably a sheep. But if she was poor, she could take two doves or two pigeons for the sacrifice, since birds were much less expensive, one for a burnt offering and one for a sin offering. The Jewish Mishna states that because of greed, the market for birds rose so much that not even the poorer woman of the community could afford them. Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel the Elder, a leading rabbi of his time and a descendant of Gamaliel whom the Bible says trained the apostle Paul as a pharisee, before Paul had come to Christ, took immediate action to lower the market price. The Mishna gives this account in Kritut 1:7:
“If a woman had given birth five times during her life . . . after she brings a single sacrifice, she will be able to eat sanctified foods once again. But she is still under oath to bring four more. It eventually came to pass that the cost of two birds rose dramatically to one gold zuz. Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel declared: "I pledge that before I go to bed this very night, the price of birds will fall!" He headed straight to the courtyard and instructed the people to obey the following regulation: "After giving birth five times, a woman . . . needs to bring just one sacrificial offering to cover all five births . . . That very day, the price of birds plummeted to one quarter of a silver zuz.”
Even many of the high priests during the first century seemed to have given up their love of God for the love of money. Most notably the High priest whom Jesus was brought before, Annas, along with his five sons who succeeded him to that position. The Temple sacrifice during their reigns can best be summed up by the words “The Marketplace of the family of Annas”
The historian Josephus sheds some light on the actions of one member of this family, Annas the younger, the man who had James (the writer of he book of James in the Bible) stoned to death. Josephus states:
“The high priest, Ananus, (after he had been relieved from his office) to some degree, was respected and feared by the citizens, but in a bad way; for he loved to hoard money. He became good friends with Albinus, and of the newly installed high priest. He did so by offering them bribes; he also had wicked servants, who associated with the most vilest sort of characters, and went to the thrashing-floors, and took the tithes that belonged to the priests by force, and beat anyone who would not give these tithes to them. So the other high priests that followed him as well as his servants acted likewise, without anyone being able to stop them; so that some of the priests, those who were old and were being supported with those tithes, died for lack of food.”
A matter of fact, Jewish history records that these High priests who walked the temple courts during the first century, were despised by the majority of the people for their brutality and hunger for money. So much so that there is a strong condemnation of these men in the Talmud. Tosefta, Menachoth 13.21 states a Rabbinic Lament over the brutality of the Sadducees - Abba Saul ben Betnith and Abba Jose ben Johanan of Jerusalem say:
“Woe to the house of Boethus! Woe to me because of their rods!" (Simon, son of Boethus, father in-law to Herod. He was a high priest during the reign of Herod the Great)
Your brother in Christ, TOM G.
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation to all the believing; to the Jew first and also the Gentile." Romans 1:16