In Jesus? day, the Temple was an elaborate structure visited by thousands of pilgrims each year. Herod the Great had expanded the temple area of Mount Moriah, adding retaining walls and filling them with dirt to create an area more than 1,200 feet long and 800 feet wide.
Herod also built a beautiful colonnade along all four sides of the Temple Mount. On the southern end, he added a porch above the colonnade, creating an area known as the Royal Stoa.
Click here to see a diagram of the Temple Mount development
The Temple building itself stood near the center of the Temple Mount and was surrounded by a series of courts. Farthest from the temple doors was the Gentile Court, the area where non-Jewish believers worshiped. This court was separated from the interior courts by a low wall called the Soreq; no Gentiles were allowed inside the Soreq wall.
Beyond the Soreq was a gate leading to the Women?s Court, a place where people gathered for worship. In each corner of the Women?s Court were smaller courts, including one for lepers and Nazarites. The other corner courts were used to store wood and oils for Temple sacrifices.
At the western end of the Women?s Court was another doorway leading to the Israelite Court, an area only males could enter. Beyond this court was the Priests? Court, where sacrifices were made on the large altar.
At the innermost part of the temple courts stood the Temple building. Inside was the Holy Place, where the table of showbread and the altar of incense were kept. A large curtain separated this room from the Holy of Holies, the innermost Temple chamber that represented God?s presence among his people.