Why could Jesus rightly call the merchants who sold animals in Jerusalem’s temple “robbers”?
IN THE Gospel of Matthew we read: “Jesus entered the temple and threw out all those selling and buying in the temple, and he 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.’”
History shows that merchants in the temple treated their customers unfairly by charging very high prices. For example, doves were normally so cheap that the poor could buy them for sacrifices. However, ancient Jewish writings say that there was a time in the first century when a person had to pay a golden denar in order to buy two doves. It would take a worker about 25 days to earn that much money. Doves had become so expensive that the poor could no longer afford them. (Leviticus 1:14; 5:7; 12:6-8) Rabbi Simeon ben Gamaliel was so angry about this situation that he reduced the number of sacrifices the Jews were required to offer. Immediately, the price of two doves fell to a hundredth of a golden denar.
As we can see, the temple merchants were greedy and took advantage of their customers. That is why Jesus could rightly call them “robbers.”