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|The Ancient Steps of the Ophel||Josephus: Temple|
-Map of City Wall
The Ancient Steps of the Ophel
Quote; The massive stairs lead up to the platform. ["The large monumental stairway just to the south of the Double Gate was excavated.] This stairway of 30 steps is 215 feet wide, paved with smoothly trimmed stones, and its FOUNDATION STEPS ARE CUT INTO THE BEDROCK. From a wide plaza below on the south…the STAIRWAY ROSE 22 FEET [sic 22-1/2 feet] to the UPPER STREET [the rampart/platform] in front of the Double Gate" [W. Harold Mare, The Archaeology of the Jerusalem Area, p. 154]
describes the upper courts and the Inner wall. "This court was foursquare,
and had a wall about it peculiar to itself; the height of its building,
although it were on the outside forty cubits (58
ft), was hidden by the steps,
and on the inside that height was but twenty-five cubits (36 ft) for it being built over against a higher part of the hill with steps.
(War of the Jews - BOOK 5, CH. 5)
If we add up the numbers of 22’ + 36’ = 58 feet they are the exact amount required to be the steps that rose up 22 feet and hid part of the wall from view that Josephus spoke of. Most likely they are the steps where Jesus over-turned the tables.
In the photo there appears to be 14 deep steps and 16 shallow steps. The shallow steps are for “stepping-up” to the next level. The large steps are where one would stop and pray before ascending to the next step, the same as it was for the steps in the women’s court that led up to the eastern inner gate.
Josephus describes the upper courts and the Inner wall.."This court was four-square, and had a wall about it peculiar to itself; the height of its buildings, although it were on the outside forty cubits, was hidden by the steps, and on the inside that height was but twenty-five cubits for it being built over against a higher part of the hill with steps. War of the Jews - BOOK 5, CH. 5)
So these appear to be the steps that led up to the upper Gate (Double
Gate) of the inner wall, which encompassed the inner courts. At the top of the
steps would then have been a terrace, called the chel ; (m. Kelim 1.8), a 15
foot wide walkway, which was bounded by the walls of the inner court. According
to Josephus, there were fourteen steps leading up to the Chel or terrace.
The Crusader’s building hides most of double gate and a large part of the western half of the steps and the Chel.
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