History of Palm Sunday: How it starts Holy Week

Triumphal Entry

Geography of Palm Sunday

The procession started at the Mount of Olives, across the land bridge of the Kidron Valley that ran along the eastern side of the city and through the eastern gate into the city. There is some debate among scholars about which of the two gates on the eastern wall of the city Jesus would have entered.

Sheep Gate

Golden Gate

Others contend that the Golden Gate on the center-eastern part of the city is the one. However, it’s currently sealed up and has been for five centuries since the mid-16th century by Suleiman the Magnificent, a sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Jewish tradition states that Messiah will enter through that gate when he comes in the new age to rule.

Triumphal Entry

Whichever gate Jesus entered near the Temple, crowds began to gather to see the rabbi from Galilee. The procession began accompanied by shouting and singing from the throngs as they threw down their garments on the pathway to cushion his ride — an Oriental custom still observed on occasions — as well as palm fronds, the symbol of triumph.

The Palm in Archeology

Context of Palm Sunday

The “conspiracy” against Jesus by the religious leaders had been building for at least 3 years. The sources record seven instances of official plotting against him, two efforts at arrest, and three assassination attempts before this time. Indeed, this intrigue was no spur-of-the-moment idea. A formal decision to arrest Jesus had, in fact, been made several months earlier.

Politics of Palm Sunday

Religion

Religiously, Jesus was a dangerous item to the current establishment. The people were hailing the Teacher from Galilee as something more than a man, and Jesus was not denying or blunting this “blasphemous” adulation. The Pharisees had been bested by Jesus in public debate, being called vipers, whitewashed tombs, and devourers of widow’s houses. Humiliated, they would be only too happy to conspire with the scribes, elders, and chief priests.

Economics

Finally, there were economic motives for opposing Jesus. Seeing the commercialization of the Temple, Jesus drove the dealers and animals out and turned over the tables of the money changers, causing major business disruption.

Writer and technologist. Author of fascinating articles about history, tech trends, and pop culture. billpetro.com @billpetro

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