Antonia (2)

Antonia (Α᾿ντωνία, from Antony), a fortress in Jerusalem, on the north side of the area of the Temple, often mentioned by Josephus in his account of the later wars of the Jews. It was originally built by the Maccabees, under the name of Baris, and was afterward rebuilt with great strength and splendor by the first Herod (Josephus, Ant. 15, 11). In a more particular description Josephus states (War, 5,5, 8) that the fortress stood upon a rock or hill fifty cubits high, at the north-west corner of the temple area, above which its wall rose to the height of forty cubits. Within it had the extent and appearance of a palace, being divided into apartments of every kind, with galleries and baths, and broad halls or barracks for soldiers; so that, as having every thing necessary within itself, it seemed a city, while in magnificence it resembled a palace. At each of the four corners was a tower. Three of these were fifty cubits high; but the fourth, at the south- east corner, was seventy cubits high, and overlooked the whole temple, with its courts. The fortress communicated with the northern and western porticoes of the temple area, and had flights of stairs descending into both, by which the garrison could at any time enter the courts of the Temple and prevent tumults. On the north it was separated from the hill Bezetha by a deep trench, lest it should be approachable from that quarter, and the depth of the trench added much to the apparent elevation of the towers (War, 5,4, 2).

This fortress is called ἡ παρεμβολή in the New Testament (Ac 21:34,37), and is the "castle" into which Paul was carried from the Temple by the soldiers, from the stairs of which he addressed the people collected in the adjacent court (Ac 21:31-40). Dr. Robinson (Researches, 1, 422) conceives that the deep and otherwise inexplicable excavation called "the pool of Bethesda" was part of the trench below the north wall of this fortress; in which case, as he remarks, its extent must have been much more considerable than has usually been supposed. SEE JERUSALEM.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

 
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