“Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. 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. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” –John 2:13-16
What were the corruptions that the Lord had to purge?
First, they sold oxen, and sheep, and doves, for sacrifice. Evidently, it is for the convenience of the pilgrims who could not bring their sacrifices in kind along with them (see Deut. 14:24–26). This market perhaps had been reserved by the pool of Bethesda (see John 5:2), but the chief priests could have admitted it into the temple in exchange for rent. No doubt, the rents for standing there, and fees for examining the beasts sold there, and certifying that they were without blemish, would yield considerable revenue to them. Great corruptions indeed owe their rise to the love of money (1 Tim. 6:5, 10).
Secondly, they changed money, for the convenience of those who would pay a half-shekel temple tax. Under the Law of Moses, every male of Israel twenty years old and upward was required to redeem his soul by giving a half-shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary. No man was exempt, even the poor had to pay it (Ex. 30:12-14). The purpose of this money was for the maintenance of the tabernacle and later the Temple. (see Exo. 30:16 NIV). By tradition, the half-shekel became the Temple tax collected at the temple annually.
Due to its purity of silver, this was the only coin accepted for the payment of the Temple tax in Jerusalem. According to Alfred Edersheim’s book “The Temple”, the Pharisee sect made this tax mandatory and could seize property to pay it. According to the New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (referring to these moneychangers):
“The Bankers, who sat in the Court of the Gentiles (or in its porch), changed all foreign coins into those of the sanctuary for a fixed discount.… This tribute was in every case to be paid in the exact Hebrew half shekel. The moneychangers assessed a fixed charge for their services. This charge must have brought in large revenue, since not only many native Palestinians might come without the statutory coin, but also a vast number of foreign Jews presented themselves on such occasions in the Temple. In addition to the tribute, those who came to worship at the Temple needed money for other purposes. Most sacrifices for the feasts were bought within the Temple area. It was easier to get the right money from the authorized changers than to have disputes with the dealers. Thus, the immense offerings of foreign Jews and proselytes to the Temple passed through the hands of the moneychangers. Indeed, they probably transacted all business matters connected with the sanctuary.”
The Temple was the center for worship but they turned it into a center of their foreign exchange business!
to be continued