The Temple of Jerusalem was the centre of Jewish piety. The first temple was built by Solomon that was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. A modest temple was built after the people returned from exile around 515 B.C. But the Temple that Jesus frequented was re-built by Herod the Great who began the construction in 20-19 B.C. and was not in fact finished until 63 A.D., though the main work may have been completed by 27 A.D. which was the reason why the Jews said that it had taken forty-six years to build the Temple. This Herodian Temple built in white stones and embellished with white marbles was a beautiful edifice and to the pilgrims who came to Jerusalem for the celebration of the major festivals it appeared like a snow-clad mountain.
The Synoptic Gospels place Jesus’ purification of the Temple at the end of his ministry where as the Gospel of John places it at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry. It is to be remembered that according to the Synoptic Gospels Jesus made only one Journey to Jerusalem which ended in his death whereas John’s Gospel has Jesus going to Jerusalem on many occasions especially during the major feasts. The Synoptic Gospels could not have placed the cleansing of the Temple at the beginning of the Gospels because according to them Jesus never went to Jerusalem after he began his ministry. But evangelist John has the opportunity to place the event at the beginning of the Gospel because Jesus made several trips to Jerusalem. But still the scholarly opinion is that the cleansing might have taken place towards the end of Jesus’ ministry because it was an audacious act in the eyes of the opponents who would not have let Jesus free for such a long time.
The cleansing of the Temple by Jesus was a protest like that of the prophets of old against the profanation of God’s house and a sign that the messianic purification of the Temple was at hand.
Jeremiah, whom Jesus resembled in