Treasury of the Temple

TREASURY OF THE TEMPLE

Location.

Solomon’s Temple contained a place for storing gifts of gold and silver dedicated to the use of the house of the Lord (1 Kings 7:51). Most ancient sanctuaries had a treasury attached to them. The opisthodomos served as the treasury for the Parthenon at Athens. The OT makes frequent reference to the אֹצְרֹ֖ות בֵּ֥ית יְהוָֽה, treasures of the house of the Lord. The location of the treasury in the Temple is a matter of dispute. From NT evidence it appears that receptacles for freewill offerings were accessible to women, hence in the forecourt of the temple (cf. Mark 12:41ff.; Luke 21:1). But most exegetes place the treasury elsewhere. Strack and Billerbeck think, however, that this is unwarranted (SBK II, 42ff.; cf. Jos. War V. 5. 2).

Administration.

From 1 Chronicles 26:20 it would appear that it belonged to the function of the Levites to administer the treasury, but later it became the prerogative of the priests (cf. Jos. Antiq. XI. 5. 2). At the time of Christ the high priest was the chief administrator. A committee served under him which was hierarchically constituted: two καθόλικοι (chief treasurers?), seven trustees (’amarkalim) and three managers (gizbarim).

Tribute money.

The main source of income was the half-shekel (Exod 30:13ff.), which was paid by every Israelite “twenty years and upward,” before the first of Nisan each year. Thirteen receptacles were placed in the court of women (עֶזְרַת הַנְּשִׁים) to receive the offerings. Six of these trumpet-shaped urns were specially designated to receive: “New Shekel dues,” “Old Shekel dues,” “Bird offerings,” etc. The rest were for free-will gifts (cf. Mishnah, Shek. 6; 5f.). Every adult Jew, both in Pal. and the Diaspora was under obligation to pay the half-shekel annually. Delegations from communities all over the empire and from beyond came to Jerusalem with their gifts. The money-changers (κερματιστηί, John 2:14f.; κολλυβισταί, Mark 11:15) were necessary because only the Tyrian shekel was allowed for Temple use. In older times booty acquired in battle was dedicated for the use of the sanctuary (cf. Josh 6:19, 24).

Object of pillage.


NT references.

Γάζοφυλακαι̂ον is a composite word of which the first part (γάζα) is of Pers. origin. From Mark 12:14ff. and John 8:20 it appears that the treasury was a popular place where crowds gathered. To give alms by sounding the trumpet (Matt 6:2) is prob. an allusion to the trumpet-shaped urns. For the anonymous deposit of alms there was provision of a special chamber (cf. Shek 5, 6)

Bibliography

H. Graetz, Geschichte d. Juden (1863) III, 94, 123f.; A. Edersheim, The Temple (1874), 26f.; The Mishnah, Shekalim; J. S. Kennard, Render to God...(1950), 62ff.