who would Jesus whip

Joh 2:13 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Joh 2:14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business.
Joh 2:15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables.
Joh 2:16 And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!”

In John, the book describes Jesus’ visit to the temple of Jerusalem. The temple complex consisted of an inner temple building surrounded by outer temple walls. In the outer temple, money changers and animal mongers would set up shop. This would be very convenient for the temple goers who would need both money for the temple tax and also livestock to sacrifice.

The vendors had an ideal location. The temple was precisely where the money and animals were needed. Not everyone had Jewish money (Roman money was seen as sinful and thus needed to be exchanged for Jewish money) and not everyone had livestock to sacrifice (Jerusalem was urban and even commuters would have trouble transporting livestock to the location). The closer to the inner temple, the more profitable the merchants could be. There even might have been some deal between vendors and the priests of the temple to provide kickbacks, as we find so often in surveys of historical merchant practices.

Jesus comes across this scene and instantly becomes enraged. To Jesus, God’s house was holy and people should not be building businesses inside God’s special place. These people were profaning God. Image a hotel was set up inside the Holy of Holies, or a bounce house set up in the temple courtyard. This was sacrilegious.

Jesus bundled a whip together and drove out merchants:

Joh 2:15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables.

The temple complex was roughly 8 acres. Jesus used the whip to drive out the sellers of animals along with the animals. Jesus then turns his attention towards the money changers. He flips over their tables, possible causing mass confusion as the money might scatter all around a crowded area.

Although Jesus could have caused confusion, his anger must have been unstoppable in order to drive out multiple animal herders and flip multiple tables without being suppressed. Driving vendors (which might have lined perhaps the perimeter of an 8 acre area) is impressive (assuming a total purge). The story would support a lesser purge or even a smaller vendor presence than the land area would suggest. But in any case, one man driving out determined merchants is impressive.

Other theories of the events, attempt to salvage the image of Jesus: perhaps Jesus was angry that the vendors were cheating people. How? If people were paying market prices willingly for animals or even willing exchanging their money, would not the people know their animal was sub-par or the exchange rate fixed? How does one cheat a buyer of an animal? Jesus was not angry about cheating but about business in the temple.

Another theory is that Jesus only whipped the animals. But the text does not seem to fit this. The animals are addressed as an afterthought. Jesus drives out those who sell animals and then also the animals. That is how the text reads. Jesus whipped out the animal mongers.

In short, Jesus would whip those who profaned the temple of God (not to be confused with modern churches). To Jesus, God’s temple was holy. Anyone making a mockery of God’s holy place was vulgarizing God. That activity was not acceptable to Jesus.

End note: because the temple leaders might have been hurt financially, this event could have directly led to the conspiracies to execute Jesus.

About christopher fisher

The blog is meant for educational/entertainment purposes. All material can be used and reproduced in any length for any purpose as long as I am cited as the source.
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One Response to who would Jesus whip

  1. Craig Fisher says:

    Lots of diagrams accurately reflect the dimensions expressed in the Bible but the diagrams often ignore the contours of the land.http://www.bible-history.com/jewishtemple/JEWISH_TEMPLEHerods_Temple_Illustration.htm
    See this link and notice the bank wall of the temple is actually on the supporting wall of the western wall. It does not matter though anyway the Bible says the whole city and not one stone upon another,

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