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Cleansing the Temple

15 Then[a] they came to Jerusalem. Jesus[b] entered the temple area[c] and began to drive out those who were selling and buying in the temple courts.[d] He turned over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, 16 and he would not permit anyone to carry merchandise[e] through the temple courts.[f] 17 Then he began to teach[g] them and said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’?[h] But you have turned it into a den[i] of robbers!”[j]

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  1. Mark 11:15 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.
  2. Mark 11:15 tn Grk “He”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  3. Mark 11:15 tn Grk “the temple.”sn The merchants (those who were selling) would have been located in the Court of the Gentiles.
  4. Mark 11:15 tn Grk “the temple.”sn Matthew (21:12-27), Mark (here, 11:15-19), and Luke (19:45-46) record this incident of the temple cleansing at the end of Jesus’ ministry. John (2:13-16) records a cleansing of the temple at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. See the note on the word temple courts in John 2:14 for a discussion of the relationship of these accounts to one another.
  5. Mark 11:16 tn Or “things.” The Greek word σκεῦος (skeuos) can refer to merchandise, property, goods, a vessel, or even generally “things” (but in the sense of some implement or tool). The idea here is almost certainly restricted to merchandise, rather than the more general “things,” although some suggest from the parallel with m. Berakhot 9.5 that Jesus was not even allowing sandals, staffs, or coin-purses to be carried through the court. The difficulty with this interpretation, however, is that it is fundamentally an appeal to Jewish oral tradition (something Jesus rarely sided with) as well as being indiscriminate toward all the worshipers.
  6. Mark 11:16 tn Grk “the temple.”
  7. Mark 11:17 tn The imperfect ἐδίδασκεν (edidasken) is here taken ingressively.
  8. Mark 11:17 sn A quotation from Isa 56:7.
  9. Mark 11:17 tn Or “a hideout” (see L&N 1.57).
  10. Mark 11:17 sn A quotation from Jer 7:11. The meaning of Jesus’ statement about making the temple courts a den of robbers probably operates here at two levels. Not only were the religious leaders robbing the people financially, but because of this they had also robbed them spiritually by stealing from them the opportunity to come to know God genuinely. It is possible that these merchants had recently been moved to this location for convenience.