The Judgment Seat of Pilate

One of the most fascinating recent discoveries in Jerusalem is the gate that once led to King Herod’s palace but was later used by the Roman prefects of Judea as their judgment seat called Gabbatha or Lithostrotos. The Gospel of John 19:13 says that Jesus stood before Pilate here as his death sentence was pronounced.

Dr. Shimon Gibson has pioneered the recognition of this area on the western wall of the Old City of Jerusalem as the very place of Gabbatha.

Pilates Praetorium Sign

The National Park diagram roughly reconstructs the wall’s features parts of which can be identified in the accompanying photographs.

Pilates Praetorium Steps to

The grassy main thoroughfare covers the ancient steps that led up to the gate in an outer wall that is no longer present.

Pilates Praetorium 4

Steps that lead up to what was once a gate in the inner wall still partially exist (the gate has long since been blocked up).

Pilates Praetorium

Note also the remains of perpendicular steps leading from the platform to the place of judgment.

It is remarkable to think that one can stand in the very place where Jesus’s trial before Pilate took place and where the judgment for crucifixion was handed down almost two thousand years ago.

3 thoughts on “The Judgment Seat of Pilate

  1. Andrew

    I am a visual learner. are we talking about the actual city walls and these pictures would be from outside the city? or are we talking about Herod’s Palace walls from inside the city?

    would the Bema seat be in the city limits or on the wall of the city limits?

    the grassy knoll we are seeing with the old steps….outside the city or inside?

    thank you

    1. Hello Andrew and thank you for your question. Yes, we are talking about the actual city walls on the western side of the Jerusalem adjacent to Herod’s palace but we are viewing those walls from the outside. A gate once existed here that led from Herod’s palace to the exterior of the city. Here is an artist’s reconstruction: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fpopular-archaeology.com%2Farticle%2Fantonia-the-fortress-jerusalem-forgot%2F&psig=AOvVaw1Zq06igM63S_6UJ2pJ8WYy&ust=1587490180029000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAIQjRxqFwoTCPi73IXE9-gCFQAAAAAdAAAAABAF. The city of Jerusalem in Jesus’s time encompassed areas not immediately enclosed by the walls (e.g., Bethzatha to the north). But as part of the city wall itself, the bema was certainly part of the city. Jesus is believed to have been crucified outside the city walls however in the place now occupied by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (currently inside the city walls and inside Agrippa’s expansion of the walled area). Hope that helps.

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