Holy Land Tour | The Southern Steps

As I promised in the Herodian Street article, there is so much more to see at the temple area and here we go!

Walking away from the large temple stones on the Herodian Street, we came upon a very smooth corner stone which used to be high up on the southwest corner of the temple.  It was carved in such a way that a niche would allow the priest to enter.  A Hebrew inscription told the story which translated means “To the House of Trumpeting”. The southwest corner would have faced the most populated area of the city, a logical place for the corner trumpeting stone to be located. Looking south, the priest would be looking down upon the original site where the Jebusites once inhabited and King David conquered, becoming the City of David.  It is where Solomon became king of Israel. The priest would enter this niche high above the city and blow the trumpet to announce new moon, the sabbath, holidays and festivals or an arrival of an important person or even an enemy.  Trumpets have been used throughout the history of the Jewish people.

After the Israelites left their wandering in the desert, one of the towns they conquered in the “Promised Land” was Jericho.  Miraculously God made the walls to fall down with marching, a shout, and the sound of trumpets blowing!   “And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat.  Then the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.  Joshua 6: 20 NKJV.
Interestingly, Israel still uses the trumpet at their government headquarters to announce the arrival of important dignitaries or other guests.

Continuing on past the cornerstone, we followed the group up and around the corner to the southern side of the temple mount retaining wall that Herod the Great built.  Herod built four major retaining walls in order to hold a very large platform upon which to build the Second Temple as well as the huge market place.  Amir Tsarfati, our principal guide from “Behold Israel” tours likes to say, tongue in cheek, “There is no business like God’s business”.  Sadly, he is correct as evidenced by all the vendors we even saw the past few days.

We came upon very wide steps leading right up to the base of the southern retaining wall.  These steps were not even, but one was deep, the next narrow, deep, narrow.  Looking up the steps you can see the outline of a triple gateway long sealed up by the Ottoman Turks.  This gateway was the main entrance to the Temple Mount for lay Jewish pilgrims being the closest entrance to the cities described above.

We all found a place to sit on the steps, in order to listen to Pastor Jack explain more about the significance of these steps.

We had seen at the bottom of the steps, another ritual bath like we had seen in Qumran and Masada. This one would have been filled with water from the Gihon Springs, including hyssop, and ashes from a red heifer.  The Pilgrims coming from across Israel for the holiday, such as Passover, would enter this bath to be ritually cleansed, then they dressed in a white robe.  Being very careful not to touch anything unclean, they would make their way up the steps through the entrance to the temple along with their sacrificial animal. The difference in the depth of the steps was intentional.  No rushing up these steps.  Slow and reverent was the accent hopefully with a repentant heart before God.

These steps were also known as the steps of the teachers.  The religious leaders would stand on these steps and teach the people and their students about the Jewish law and religion.  Paul’s teacher, Gamaliel, very respected and important, taught from these steps.

However impressive these things are, they are not what moved me to tears….

JESUS taught from these very steps himself!  The graves that we have mentioned numerous times before on the Mount of Olives were to the left of these steps and Jesus referenced these graves while calling out the religious leaders as hypocrites from these very steps.  Maybe right where I was sitting!

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. NKJV Mathew 23:27

Another wonderful thing happened on these steps.  Jesus was crucified during Passover, unknown to the religious leaders, as the real and permanent Passover sacrificial lamb.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said,

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1;29 NKJV

  The next holiday after the crucifixion was Pentecost.  The Bible tells us that Devout Jews came to the temple from every nation to celebrate Pentecost and because they were from every nation, they spoke many different languages.

When the Day of Pentecost had arrived, the disciples were together in a house in one place.
Acts 2:2-3 tells us '
“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and they sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirt gave them utterance.

When they went out of the house into the street, the crowd was confused because as the disciples were speaking each man could understand what they were saying in his own language! That must have blown their minds!

ACTS 2:9-11-13 describes the many nations represented and adds….” we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” They were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another,” Whatever could this mean?” Others mocking them said, “They are full of new wine.”

But Peter, standing up with the eleven – right on these very Southern Steps- raised his voice and gave them his first sermon explaining that they were not drunk, it was only about 9 a.m. when this happened.  This miracle was the Holy Spirit, predicted by the prophet Joel and others many years before and promised by Jesus to those were and would be His disciples’. Read Acts 2- it is awesome

 “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” Luke 24:49 NKJV

Peter did not hold back one little bit.  He boldly got in their face accusing them of killing their messiah.  He started in the Old Testament and showed them proof of who He, Jesus, was and when they heard this, they were heart-broken and asked what should they do.

“Then Peter said, “Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the Holy Spirt. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”  Acts 2:39 NKJV

That day approximately 3000 people realized what Jesus had done for them. They did repent and acknowledged that Jesus Christ was their savior and messiah.  Wow!
Friends that promise is for you and for me too.
Let’s not tarry.

By God’s grace alone, I’ve been saved -you can be too!

Wishing you all God’s love and peace!  Shalom!


Debbie lives in Southern California with her husband Doug and her children and grandchildren.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version Copyright @ 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

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