No journey around Jerusalem in these difficult days of Roman occupation would be complete without looking over the temple colonnade at the Antonia Fortress. Very few Jews get to see inside and live to tell the tale, so this is as close as we are going to get!
This castle was originally built to protect the temple, but now the Romans use it as a barracks, and the towers enable them to watch everything that goes on in the temple courts and around much of the city. When they first occupied Israel, they renamed it after one of their generals, Mark Anthony.
Not that the governor is here very often; his base is at Herod the Great’s city of Caesarea, down on the coast. But he’ll be here for the Passover festival, along with another large contingent of Roman soldiers. He is the fifth Roman governor that Judea has had – a tough soldier who has treated the Jews harshly for the past seven years. He’s from the Pontii family, and his third name is Pilatus, which means he’s probably very skilled with the Roman throwing spear. Nobody knows his first name.
As the Passover gets nearer, make sure you avoid contact with the Romans as much as possible, because you don’t want to become ceremonially unclean just before the feast. But if you are unlucky enough to run into a soldier, and he exercises his ‘right’ to make you carry his pack for a mile, do it without complaining!