Lk. 23:1-5 At around 7.00am, Jesus is taken to Herod’s Palace, which serves as the Praetorium (the Roman governor’s residence) when he is visiting Jerusalem (see 4 on Map 13).
Pilate was the Roman procurator (governor) of Judaea, appointed by the emperor in Rome. He lived in Caesarea, the capital of the Roman province of Judaea, but when he was in Jerusalem he resided at Herod’s Palace, which served as the ‘praetorium’or governor’s palace after Judaea came under direct Roman rule in 6AD (see Map 13).
Early Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem believed that Pilate lived in the Antonia Fortress – which had been erected at the north west corner of the Temple Mount by Herod the Great (and named after the Roman general Mark Antony who had granted him favours). The Antonia Fortress served as the barracks for Jerusalem’s Roman garrison. The fortress was destroyed by Titus with the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD.
The Citadel, near the Jaffa Gate, contains the only remnants of Herod’s Palace still standing today. Visitors can see a number of excellent displays about Herod’s Palace and the history of Jerusalem.
Convent of the Flagellation, Jerusalem (Mark 15:15)
Many pilgrims also visit the Franciscan Convent of the Flagellation built on the site of the Antonia Fortress, and the Ecce Homo Convent which commemorates the moment when Pilate presented Jesus to the crowds with the words ‘Behold the man’ (Latin, ‘Ecce homo’). Beneath the convent, visitors can see remains of the Struthian Pool – a Roman cistern used to store water for the Antonia Fortress – and part of the Lithostratos – a pavement from the forum built by the Emperor Hadrian in 135AD, re-using paving stones from the courtyard of the Antonia Fortress. An inscription scratched onto one of these stones is thought to be a gaming board for the ‘Game of the King’ – the popular game that Roman soldiers played when they ‘cast lots’ to divide up Jesus’s clothing (see John 19:24).
As the Jews knew that the Romans would not agree to execute a man for a Jewish religious crime such as blasphemy, the Jewish leaders claimed they had found Jesus guilty of a political crime – opposing the emperor and Roman rule. Pilate asked Jesus if he was ‘the King of the Jews’ – a title used in mockery, as the Kingdom of Judaea had been abolished when the Romans deposed Archelaus in 6AD. Pilate told the chief priests that he thought Jesus was innocent of the charges brought against him.
Jesus is taken before Herod Antipas
Lk. 23:6-12 When Pilate learns that Jesus is a Galilean, he sends him to Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea (who had executed John the Baptist two years earlier). Herod is visiting Jerusalem for the Passover festival and staying nearby at the Hasmonaean Palace (see 5 on Map 13). Jesus refuses to talk to Herod, whose soldiers mock him and dress him in a splendid robe.