When we look at Yeshua, we see some interesting points. Messiah needs to be from the House of David and from Judah. He also must be from the tribe of Joseph (Gen 49.22-26) and he must also be from the House of Aaron, so he must be from the tribe of Levi (Zech 6.11-13 is a prophecy about the first high priest after the return from Babylon named Yeshua. He has been crowned with two crowns). He must fulfill all the prophecies, not just some of them. The “priest of righteousness” is mentioned together with the Davidic King Messiah in Jewish thought.
In the first century, there was a concept that said that there would be two messiah’s, possibly three. There was the Messiah Ben David and the Messiah Ben Joseph. When John asked Yeshua the question as to whether he was the messiah, or should they expect another, he was asking about this concept. Yeshua answered and said he would fulfill both roles. Now, among some Pharisees and Essenes, there was the concept of a “High Priestly Messiah” so there was a belief that the Messiah, when he came, would be a descendant of Aaron.
So, is it possible that Yeshua was from the tribe of Levi also? We read in Luke 1.5 that Zechariah and Elizabeth are from the tribe of Levi and from Aaron, and they will be the parents of Yochanon ha Matvil (John the Baptist). In Luke 1.36 we read that Elizabeth is related to Mary, the mother of Yeshua. So, Yochanon was Yeshua’s cousin, and Yochanon is from priestly families from Levi. In John 18.15-16 we read about a talmid of Yeshua who may have been known by the High Priest and how he was able to get Peter into the into the open courtyard of Annas, and then in v 24-27 Yeshua is sent to the house of Caiaphas. This talmid must have had some pull with Annas to get Peter in, and many think he may have been a priest. Peter can hear the “rooster” from the house of Caiaphas, so it shows that his house was close to the Temple. Why? Because the “rooster” was not an animal, but the Temple Crier who would give a three fold cry for the priests to go to their stations, for the Levites to go to their posts and for the men of Israel to go to their positions for the morning sacrifice, called the Tamid. Poultry was not allowed in Jerusalem while the Temple stood. This law is based on a concept found in the Torah that said you were to make latrines so that “there was not any uncleanliness among you.” Other animals were allowed, but human and poultry dung was not allowed. This rooster is called the “gever” and it was a Levite, not a bird.
In Matt 27.55-56, we read about some women who were present at the crucifixion. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee (John’s mother). From Mark 15.40-41 we learn her name was Salome. In John 19.25-27 we read that these women were at the cross. We read about his “mother’s sister” who would have been Yeshua,s aunt Salome, John’s mother. John (the apostle) may have been a priest, and he was a cousin of Yeshua. He writes with an intimacy of the Temple and its services that no other writer of the Gospels and Epistles had. His gospel records Yeshua going from Galilee to the Temple and back and forth many times. The Book of Revelation also has deep insight into the Temple and its services, so he was very well acquainted with what went on there, things never mentioned in other books.
In the genealogy of Yeshua in Luke 3 we can pick up more information. We find that there are many names peculiar to the tribe of Levi. We read of Zerubbabel, who was a priest (Ezra 3.8), and many other priestly names listed there, like Eli, Matthat, Levi, Mattathias, another Matthat, another Levi and so on. The genealogy of Luke is different than the one in Matthew because Yeshua did not descend through his step-father Joseph according to the flesh, but he did through Mary, and Mary was from Judah and Levi and that is her genealogy in Luke 3. On her side you had Yochanon, Elizabeth and Zechariah, Zerubbabel and possibly others who were all from priestly families. Remember the rod of Aaron that budded? This was a picture of Yeshua who descended from Aaron, and how the High Priesthood would eventually belong to him, even though the context is singling out Aaron. Picking the family of the high priest was what the budding was all about. How is it that a talmid came to the house of Annas and Caiaphas and was admitted in, and have enough “pull” to get Peter in? Could it have been John, the son of Salome (Mary’s sister), who was a cousin to Yeshua and from a priestly family and known by Caiaphas?
Now, let’s reconstruct the sequence of events and the path Yeshua took the night of his arrest. He was arrested on the Mount of Olives. He goes over the Kidron Valley, called the “valley of the shadow of death” because so many were buried there because of the belief that when the resurrection comes, it will begin in the cave of Machpelah and then move to the Kidron. Psalm 23 is a prophecy about what is happening here. It is a 15 minute walk to the Herodian Quarter to the house of Annas, up Mount Zion to the palatial mansion already mentioned (house of Annas).
Why did they take him to Annas first, and not to the reigning high priest Caiaphas? Because Annas was the real power. There are several mansions in this quarter with an outer courtyard. Yochanon (John) was recognized and admitted in with Peter (Shimon). The location of the second trial will be in the peristyle mansion of Caiaphas. His name (Qafa) is inscribed in this house. He is then taken to the Antonio fortress (named after Herod’s friend Marc Antony), about 10 minutes away because the Sanhedrin had moved out of the Chamber of Hewn Stone in the Temple (they moved in protest because of some of the atrocities of Pilate). This move was temporary because they had moved back by the time Stephen is sentenced and stoned.
From there they take him to Herod’s palace, then back to Antonio, where he stands trial. After he is sentenced, he heads out the Damascus Gate north of the city, they turn right along the wall about 300 yards to Jeremiah’s Grotto, which in Arabic means “the place of dying” and he is executed at the front, next to the road. They crucified people along the road to frighten anyone else away from even trying to go against Rome and to humiliate you (Matt 27.39). In the slave revolt led by Spartacus, six thousand captured slaves were crucified along the Appian Way leading to Rome. Jeremiah wrote the Book of Lamentations on top of the hill overlooking the city.
Contrary to the song, Yeshua was not crucified on a hill. This area is part of Mount Moriah, the same mount where Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac and the same mount where the Temple stood. In Gen 22 Abraham says that “it will be seen” referring to the death of Messiah. This area is also north of the altar, fulfilling the requirement for a sin offering to be slain north of the altar in the Temple. This is a prophetic “must” for Yeshua to be the Messiah. Some claim that Yeshua was slain on the Mount of Olives, but this would invalidate him as the Messiah.
The trial of Yeshua was initiated by the high priest Caiaphas, who had a high stake in all of this because Yeshua upset him. A major part of the Sanhedrin did not agree with what he was doing. We know that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea didn’t. Gamaliel, Paul’s teacher, was “nasi” of the Sanhedrin and he didn’t agree with persecutions, especially illegal ones. At the trial, the faction of the chief priests attended, but most of the Sanhedrin did not.
In Jer 7.1-28 we read about Tophet (v 30-34) which is in the valley of Hinnom. Jer 19 we learn about the
“potter’s gate.” The city of Jerusalem was much different than the time of Yeshua. Potters could not make pottery inside the city because of the fires and smoke, so they were outside the city’s gates. So, the potters worked where the Hinnom Valley meets the Kidron Valley, south of the city. We learn from Jeremiah that Tophet is a burial place but it was also used for human sacrifices. These were abolished by Josiah (2 Kings 23.10; Jer 7.32) and it was a place to be abhorred and to “spit upon” as in a curse. It was a place of burning and graves.
In 1967, Israel regained control of the Temple Mount. Moshe Dayan gave it back to the Jordanians but kept the rest of Jerusalem. They began preparing for the rebuilding of the Temple. New interest in restoring everything connected to the Temple was everywhere. Now, when you entered the Temple you would come to the south end and go through the Double Gate and then exit through the Triple Gate, called the Huldah Gates because the prophetess Huldah would teach there. Solomons’s Porch was on the east side and it was a storage area and it had nothing to do with Solomon. Priests would enter a gate to Solomon’s Porch but nothing remains of the gate.
However, one of the discoveries that was made is they discovered the tomb of Annas, south of the city called the “Akeldama tombs.” The tomb is an exact replica of the missing gate from the Temple that the priests would go through. It had a triple gate, rosettes that were found in the Huldah Gates also and niches for his wife and sons. How do we know? When writing about the siege of Jerusalem, Josephus recorded where the Romans put a siege wall around Jerusalem. The tomb of Annas was described as being built like “the gates of the Temple.” The tomb was a first century tomb, not like the tomb called the “Garden Tomb” where many think Yeshua was buried. That is a 7th century BC tomb, not a first century AD tomb, so don’t bother to go see it because it is not Yeshua’s. Annas took a 7th century BC tomb and made it into a first century tomb. The difference between the two is like a toy car and a modern car.
Now, the Temple is seen as the holiest place on earth and God says the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim (Holy of Holies) with the Ark is his throne. But south of city, where the Hinnom and Kidron Valley meet, is Tophet, also known as Gehenna (“gei Hinnom” or valley of Hinnom) and the “valley of the sons of Hinnom.” Specifically, Tophet is a “place of cursing” and a “valley of slaughter” and the “valley of Jehoshaphat.” It is the most cursed place on earth.
So, within a mile you go from the holiest place on earth to the most cursed place on earth. Remember, Annas and Caiaphas were responsible for the trial of Yeshua before the Romans. They were leading the crowd who said “Let his blood be upon us and upon our children.” Annas and his five sons, Caiaphas and his family were buried at Tophet, in Akeldama, the same field that was bought with the money Judas was paid for betraying Yeshua into their hands (Acts 1.18-19).
When Yeshua comes back, there will be a judgment, spoken of in Matt 25. The nations will be gathered there at Tophet, the valley of slaughter, for judgment. Yeshua will be sitting on the Mount of Olives. The righteous on his right will go to the most blessed place on earth, The Temple Mount. Those unrighteous on his left will go to Tophet, Gehenna and Akeldama (field of blood) where their corpses will be food for the birds of the sky (Isa 66.23-24; Ezek 29.3-5, 32.2-8; Rev 19.17-21) in a meal called the “Feast of Leviathan.”