Online Bible – Alfred Edersheim – The Temple – Its Ministry and Services

During the last few months I have been thinking that it would be good to talk about some of the historical modules that are included in The Online Bible. Here is a list of some that seem to me to be most valuable for understanding the way people lived in Palestine when Jesus lived there.

  • Edersheim – The Temple–Its Ministry and Services
  • Edersheim – The Life and Times of Jesus The Messiah
  • Edersheim – Sketches of Jewish Social Life in the Days of Christ
  • Edersheim – Old Testament Bible History
  • Josephus – Antiquities of the Jews
  • Josephus – The Jewish War
  • Wight – A Study of Manners and Customs of Domestic Life in Palestine as Related to the Scriptures

After spending some time with this group of books I realized that only The Temple has been converted to our native Macintosh format. Over the summer we expect to have them all completed for the next release of our Macintosh CDs  as well as being available on our Windows DVD.

Meanwhile here is a quick overview of The Temple that may give you a better knowledge of the life style during the time our Lord spent on earth.

AlfredEdersheimAlfred Edersheim Was a Jewish convert to Christianity and a Biblical scholar known especially for his book The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. He was born March 7, 1825 in Vienna of Jewish parents of culture and wealth. English was spoken in their home, and he became fluent at an early age. He was educated at a local gymnasium and also in the Talmud and Torah at a Hebrew school, and in 1841 he entered the University of Vienna.

Edersheim emigrated to Hungary and became a teacher of languages. He became a christian in Pest when he came under the influence of John Duncan, a Free Church of Scotland chaplain to workmen engaged in constructing a bridge over the Danube. Edersheim accompanied Duncan on his return to Scotland and studied theology at New College, Edinburgh and at the University of Berlin. In 1846 Alfred was married to Mary Broomfield and they had seven children. In the same year he was ordained to the ministry in the Free Church of Scotland. He was a missionary to the Jews at Iaşi, Romania for a year.

On his return to Scotland, after preaching for a time in Aberdeen, he was appointed in 1849 to minister at the Free Church, Old Aberdeen. In 1861 health problems forced him to resign and the Church of St. Andrew was built for him at Torquay. In 1872 Edersheim’s health again obliged him to retire, and for four years he lived quietly at Bournemouth. For the next 14 years he held a number of prestigious positions in England and died at Menton, France, on  March 16, 1889.

templeEdersheim has done much work to provide a context in which readers can understand the Old and New Testaments. The Temple–Its Ministry and Services is no exception, it provides a detailed historical examination of the first century temple at Jerusalem. In this book he provides beautiful and lush descriptions of the temple. These descriptions help convey a sense of holiness and reverence that the temple must have commanded.

Jerusalem’s temple represented not only the glory of Israel’s past but the splendor of its future, when the Messiah would come again and reign over God’s people. To recapture the essence of the temple’s significance, both in the life of Israel and in the life and theology of the early Christians, we are fortunate to have as a tour guide this eminent scholar of Judaism and the New Testament. If you want to experience the grandeur of Herod’s temple – the temple that Jesus “cleansed” – or the anguish of a temple trodden by Roman soldiers will appreciate Edersheim’s knowledge of and passion for the temple of Scripture.

In the Preface, he notes that not everyone will find all the details of Temple interesting. Fortunately, the bulk of the text is arranged in short sections, each containing a paragraph or two. If there are topics you are not interested in, you can easily skip to the next short section. This also makes the work a useful reference tool. Throughout The Temple, Edersheim takes his points and relates them to New Testament events and themes.

Table of Contents:
Chapter 1 A First View of Jerusalem, and of the Temple.
Chapter 2 Within the Holy Place.
Chapter 3 Temple Order, Revenues, and Music.
Chapter 4 The Officiating Priesthood.
Chapter 5 Sacrifices: Their Order and their Meaning.
Chapter 6 The Burnt-Offering, the Sin- and Trespass-Offering, and the Peace-Offering
Chapter 7 At Night in the Temple.
Chapter 8 The Morning and the Evening Sacrifice.
Chapter 9 Sabbath in the Temple.
Chapter 10 Festive Cycles and Arrangement of the Calendar.
Chapter 11 The Passover.
Chapter 12 The Paschal Feast and the Lord’s Supper.
Chapter 13 The Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Day of Pentecost.
Chapter 14 The Feast of Tabernacles.
Chapter 15 The New Moons: The Feast of the Seventh New Moon, or of Trumpets, or New Year’s Day.
Chapter 16 The Day of Atonement.
Chapter 17 Post-Mosaic Festivals.
Chapter 18 On Purification.
Chapter 19 On Vows—The Nazarite’s Vow. The Offering of the First-Fruits in the Temple.
Appendix     Did the Lord Institute His ‘Supper’ on the Paschal Night?
Scripture Index

To give you a sense of Edersheim’s writing, here is a snippet from chapter 2.

Within the Holy Place

‘There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.’  Matthew 24:2

’The Royal Bridge’

Of the four principal entrances into the Temple–all of them from the west–the most northerly descended, perhaps by flights of steps, into the Lower City; while two others led into the suburb, or Parbar, as it is called. But by far the most magnificent avenue was that at the south-western angle of the Temple. Probably this was ‘the ascent … into the house of the Lord,’ which so astounded the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10:5).

It would, indeed, be difficult to exaggerate the splendor of this approach. A colossal bridge on arches spanned the intervening Valley of the Tyropoeon, connecting the ancient City of David with what is called the ‘Royal Porch of the Temple.’ From its ruins we can reconstruct this bridge. Each arch spanned 41 1/2 feet, and the spring-stones measured 24 feet in length by 6 in thickness. It is almost impossible to realize these proportions, except by a comparison with other buildings. A single stone 24 feet long! Yet these were by no means the largest in the masonry of the Temple. Both at the south-eastern and the south-western angles stones have been found measuring from 20 to 40 feet in length, and weighing above 100 tons.

The Temple Porches

The view from this ‘Royal Bridge’ must have been splendid. It was over it that they led the Savior, in sight of all Jerusalem, to and from the palace of the high-priest, that of Herod, the meeting-place of the Sanhedrin, and the judgment-seat of Pilate. Here the city would have lain spread before us like a map. Beyond it the eye would wander over straggling suburbs, orchards, and many gardens–fairest among them the royal gardens to the south, the ‘garden of roses,’ so celebrated by the Rabbis–till the horizon was bounded by the hazy outline of mountains in the distance. Over the parapet of the bridge we might have looked into the Tyropoeon Valley below, a depth of not less than 225 feet. The roadway which spanned this cleft for a distance of 354 feet, from Mount Moriah to Mount Zion opposite, was 50 feet broad, Royal Temple Porchthat is, about 5 feet wider than the central avenue of the Royal Temple-Porch into which it led. These ‘porches,’ as they are called in the New Testament, or cloisters, were among the finest architectural features of the Temple. They ran all round the inside of its wall, and bounded the outer enclosure of the Court of the Gentiles. They consisted of double rows of Corinthian pillars, all monoliths, wholly cut out of one block of marble, each pillar being 37 1/2 feet high. A flat roof, richly ornamented, rested against the wall, in which also the outer row of pillars was inserted. Possibly there may have been towers where one colonnade joined the other. But the ‘Royal Porch,’ by which we are supposed to have entered the Temple, was the most splendid, consisting not as the others, of a double, but of a treble colonnade, formed of 162 pillars, ranged in four rows of 40 pillars each, the two odd pillars serving as a kind of screen, where the ‘Porch’ opened upon the bridge. Indeed, we may regard the Royal Porch as consisting of a central nave 45 feet wide, with gigantic pillars 100 feet high, and of two aisles 30 feet wide, with pillars 50 feet high. By very competent authorities this Royal Porch, as its name indicates, is regarded as occupying the site of the ancient palace of Solomon, to which he ‘brought up’ the daughter of Pharaoh. Here also had been the ‘stables of Solomon.’ When Herod the Great rebuilt the Temple, he incorporated with it this site of the ancient royal palace. What the splendor and height (Professor Porter has calculated it at 440 feet) of this one porch in the Temple must have been is best expressed in the words of Captain Wilson (Recovery of Jerusalem, p. 9): ‘It is almost impossible to realize the effect which would be produced by a building longer and higher than York Cathedral, standing on a solid mass of masonry almost equal in height to the tallest of our church spires.’ And this was only one of the porches which formed the southern enclosure of the first and outermost court of the Temple–that of the Gentiles. The view from the top of this colonnade into Kedron was to the stupendous depth of 450 feet. Here some have placed that pinnacle of the Temple to which the tempter brought our Savior.



7 thoughts on “Online Bible – Alfred Edersheim – The Temple – Its Ministry and Services”

  1. Thank you for porting these to the Mac. I purchased the Mac Online Bible CD over 20 years ago and use it all the time as my go to app. I will buy a new updated CD set as soon as this comes out. Thanks for all your years of hard work. I pray that God will greatly bless you.

  2. Amazing commentry and so descriptive you can almost shut your eyes and picture the whole image. Makes you want to read more and learn more.

  3. Thank you for your very informative email. I use The Online Bible for translations English/Spanish/French, and to study, but I do not know how to access the historical modules you suggest. Can you help me? Thanks again.

    1. In the Windows program, click on the Library icon and double click one of the list, perhaps by Author eg Edersheim
      In the Macintosh app, click on the Display menu, clik and hold the Topics menu and slide down to Temple

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