The Antonia Fortress and The High Priest's Robes - Free Bible
The Antonia Fortress - The High Priest's Robes
The holy ceremonial robes of the High Priest were kept in one of the four guard
towers of the Antonia Fortress and were worn only on Passover, Yom Kippur and
other important religious feast days. The Romans had realized the tremendous
power of the office of the High Priest and had taken custody of the garments as
a precautionary measure. In the century before the Roman occupation in 63 BC,
the king of Israel had also been the high priest and both offices had been
hereditary. The Romans had abolished the kingship and had made the office of
high priest appointive, always subject to their approval. Nonetheless, in Jesus'
day the high priest remained the most powerful figure in the Jewish nation.
The Fortress of Antonia was partly surrounded by a deep ravine 165 feet wide. It
functioned as headquarters for the Roman soldiers, a palace and a barracks.
Herod constructed a secret passage from the fortress to the Temple and Josephus
described that this is where Aristobulus was killed.
The Fortress of Antonia was built on a rock hill, which was much higher than the
Temple area (75 feet), on the northwest side. The castleís 4 walls were
The western wall was built upon the edge of the cliff overlooking the Tyropoeon
The north wall was directly across the hill Bezetha and there was a deep mote
between them. The rock hid the Temple from view on this side according to
The southern wall one could see over the entire Temple area.
The eastern wall overlooked the Pool of Bethesda and the Kidron Valley.
Josephus is the authoritative source for the description of the Antonia Fortress
and he wrote about its interior. It is described as a small city, a palace for a
king and a barracks for many soldiers. There were apartments, cloisters, baths
and large courtyards. There were also stairs that led down from the Fortress to
the porticoes of the Temple court at the extreme north side. It is also written
that there was a deep passageway underground, which went from the fortress to
the Court of Israel, mainly for uprisings and emergencies.
When Titus initiated his extreme assault into the Temple area it was from the
The Northwest Corner of the Temple (see picture below).
These photos are
from an archaeological reproduction of first century Jerusalem, located in Jerusalem.
The Fortress of
Antonia was built in 35 B.C. and named in honor of Herodís friend and Roman
Triumvir Marcus Antonius also known as Mark Antony. It was actually Mark Anthony
who had requested that the Senate make Herod King of Judea as an eastern
boundary to the Roman Empire. At some point the Romans took over the Antonia
Fortress and placed a garrison there.
attacked the city of Jerusalem from the north side in 70 A.D. and overcame it.
The legions of Rome slaughtered over a million Jews and 95,000 Jewish captives
were taken away as prisoners.