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Did You Know?

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

Why were there money changers in Jerusalem’s temple?

Shortly before his death, Jesus addressed a gross injustice taking place in the temple. The Bible reports: “Jesus . . . threw out all those selling and buying in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. And he said to them: ‘It is written, “My house will be called a house of prayer,” but you are making it a cave of robbers.’”​—Matthew 21:12, 13.

First-century Jews and Jewish proselytes traveled from many lands and cities to the temple in Jerusalem, bringing with them coins from their local area. Yet, they were required to use acceptable currency to pay the annual temple tax, to buy sacrificial animals, and to make other voluntary offerings. Thus, money changers would, for a fee, convert coins of different origins and denominations into the required currency. As Jewish festivals approached, these money changers would set up stalls in the temple’s Court of the Gentiles.

Jesus’ criticism that the money changers were turning the temple into “a cave of robbers” evidently indicates that the charges for their services were exorbitant.

Why were olive trees particularly appreciated in Bible times?

Olive trees and vineyards were among the blessings that God promised his people for their faithfulness to him. (Deuteronomy 6:10, 11) To this day, the olive tree is highly esteemed in areas in which it grows. It can produce abundant fruit for hundreds of years with relatively little care. A cultivated tree can flourish even in rocky soil and can endure frequent droughts. If the tree is felled, the rootstock produces several shoots that can develop into new trunks.

In Bible times, the bark and leaves of the tree were valued for their fever-reducing properties. The gum resin that seeps from old branches and has a vanilla scent was used to make perfume. Primarily, however, the tree was prized as a source of food​—its berries and especially its oil. The pulp of a ripe olive is about half oil.

One good tree could yield as much as 15 gallons (57 L) of oil a year. Olive oil was also used as lamp fuel, for ceremonial and religious purposes, as a cosmetic for the body and hair, and as a medicine to soften wounds and soothe bruises.​—Exodus 27:20; Leviticus 2:1-7; 8:1-12; Ruth 3:3; Luke 10:33, 34.