The House of God

One of the most iconic scenes in the Gospels is when Jesus/ Yahshua enters the temple and overthrows the tables of the money-changers using a small scourge. But this scene is also very misunderstood. I'd like to try and re-introduce a forgotten or missed theme, that of an anti-temple-sacrifice polemic. This view was held by the earliest followers of Messiah known as the Ebionites. We'll begin by looking at Prophet Jeremiah.

The House of God
Jer 7:11 - Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD.
The term “robbers” isn’t a reference to a mere thief. There’s a stronger connotation to the term, as we see in the following:
  • Strong’s Definitions: פְּרִיץ pᵉrîyts, per-eets'; from H6555; violent, i.e. a tyrant:—destroyer, ravenous, robber
  •  BDAG: † פָּרִיץ noun masculine violent one violent one (robber, murderer); — שֹׁפֵךְ דָּם פ׳ Ezekiel 18:10 אָרְחוֺת פ׳ Psalm 17:4 plural פָּרִיצִים Ezekiel 7:22, פָּרִצִים מְעָרַת Jeremiah 7:11 construct בְּנֵי עֲמְּךָ פָּרִיצֵי Daniel 11:14; of wild beast, חַיוֺת פָּרִיצֵי Isaiah 35:9.
Here is the usage of the term, highlighting the intended meaning:
  • Psa 17:4 - Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer. H6530
  • Isa 35:9 - No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous H6530 beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there:
  • Jer 7:11 - Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers H6530 in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD.
  • Eze 7:22 - My face will I turn also from them, and they shall pollute my secret place: for the robbers H6530 shall enter into it, and defile it.
  • Eze 18:10 - If he beget a son that is a robber, H6530 a shedder of blood, and that doeth the like to any one of these things,
  • Dan 11:14 - And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the robbers H6530 of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall.
The idea(s) being communicated is that the robbers are violent, blood-shedding predators and brute tyrants. This is what Jesus had in mind when he also entered the temple, saying, "And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves" (Matthew 21:13, KJV).
  • Strongs:
λῃστής (lēstēs)
Strong: G3027
GK: G3334
a plunderer, robber, highwayman, Mt. 21:13; 26:55; Mk. 11:17; Lk. 10:30; 2 Cor. 11:26; a bandit, brigand, Mt. 27:38, 44; Mk. 15:27; Jn. 18:40; trop. a robber, rapacious imposter, John 10:1 MOUNCE
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  • Thayer's Greek Lexicon:
λῃστής, ληστου, ὁ (for ληιστής from ληίζομαι, to plunder, and this from Ionic and epic ληίς, for which the Attics use λεῖα, booty) (from Sophocles and Herodotus down), a robber; a plunderer, freebooter, brigand: Matthew 26:55; Mark 14:48; Luke 22:52; John 10:1; John 18:40; plural, Matthew 21:13; Matthew 27:38, 44; Mark 11:17; Mark 15:27; Luke 10:30, 36; Luke 19:46; John 10:8; 2 Corinthians 11:26. (Not to be confounded with κλέπτης thief, one who takes property by stealth (although the distinction is obscured in A. V.); cf. Trench, § xliv.)
Like how a highwayman waits to violently assault and steal from innocent passersby, the idea being conveyed is that the temple people were violent looters: blood-shedding predators of the innocents brought to them--blood for profit. The house of God was intended for prayer, but they made it into a slaughterhouse and place of commerce. Not only were the money changers driven out, but the animals set loose, and nothing—nothing—was allowed to enter that temple as long as he and his disciples occupied it.
And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.[1]
Why Jesus was martyred: for Zeal of his Father's House
Jesus had halted the exchanging and slaughtering of animals, with no regard as to how this would affect “passover.” This is one reason why they wanted to kill him:
And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.[2]
Jesus and God are displeased with the bloodshed of innocent creatures. God and Jesus desire mercy, not sacrifice. Hosea 6:6. May we desire the same, that the world may know we are the children of God and disciples of the one He sent.
[1] John 2:13-17, KJV
[2] Mark 11:15-18, KJV