Keep Off On Pain of Death (The Temple Mount, King Herod & Historical Context)

do not enter

It sounds like King Herod wanted to allow non-Jews to go up to the Temple Mount so that he could show off the new Temple digs. But they could only go so far into the heart of the complex. An interesting archaeological discovery from the Second Temple warns outsiders to stay out of the inner area-sanctum. You can read about it here.

While the identities of the religious actors are subject to historical shifts, then and today, the overriding logic of that demarcates holy space remains pretty much the same on the Temple Mount: access, danger, and death.

Like a stark piece of prophecy, the Greek text etched into stone reads: “No foreigner may enter within the balustrade around the sanctuary and the enclosure. Whoever is caught, on himself shall he put blame for the death which will ensue.”

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish though and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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