Mark 13:1-2

A CITY’S DOOM

Mk. 13:1-2

As they were going out of the sacred precincts, one of his disciples said to Jesus, “Teacher, see! What stones and what buildings!” Jesus said to him, “You see this great budding? Not one stone will be left on another which will not be thrown down!”

We begin with the prophecies of Jesus which foretold the doom of Jerusalem. The Temple which Herod butt was one of the wonders of the world. It was begun in 20-19 B.C. and in the time of Jesus was not yet completely finished. It was built on the top of Mount Moriah. instead of levelling off the summit of the mountain a kind of vast platform was formed by raising up walls of massive masonry and enclosing the whole area. On these walls a platform was laid, strengthened by piers which distributed the weight of the superstructure. Josephus tells us that some of these stones were forty feet long by twelve feet high by eighteen feet wide. It would be some of these vast stones that moved the Galilaean disciples to such wondering amazement.

The most magnificent entrance to the Temple was at the south-west angle. Here between the city and the Temple hill there stretched the Tyropoeon Valley. A marvellous bridge spanned the valley. Each arch was forty-one and a half feet and there were stones used in the building of it which measured twenty-four feet long. The Tyropoeon valley was no less than two hundred and twenty-five feet below. The breadth of the cleft that the bridge spanned was three hundred and fifty-four feet, and the bridge itself was fifty feet in breadth. The bridge led straight into the Royal Porch. The porch consisted of a double row of Corinthian pillars all thirty-seven and a half feet high and each one cut out of one solid block of marble.

Of the actual Temple building itself, the holy place, Josephus writes, “Now the outward face of the Temple in its front wanted nothing that was likely to surprise men’s minds or their eyes, for it was covered all over with plates of gold of great weight, and, at the first rising of the sun, reflected back a very fiery splendour, and made those who forced themselves to look upon it to turn their eyes away, just as they would have done at the sun’s own rays. But this Temple appeared to strangers, when they were at a distance, like a mountain covered with snow, for, as to those parts of it which were not gilt, they were exceeding white…. Of its stones, some of them were forty-five cubits in length, five in height and six in breadth.” (A cubit was eighteen inches.)

It was all this splendour that so impressed the disciples. The Temple seemed the summit of human art and achievement, and seemed so vast and solid that it would stand for ever. But Jesus made the astonishing statement that the day was coming when not one of these stones would stand upon another. In less then fifty years his prophecy came tragically true.

“Pride of man and earthly glory, Sword and crown betray his trust; What with care and toil he buildeth, Tower and temple, fall to dust. But God’s power, Hour by hour, Is my temple and my tower.”

Back to: THE GOSPEL OF MARK

Back to: Barclay’s Commentary

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