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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Treasury

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TREASURY.—Two words are trd. ‘treasury’ in the Gospels.

1. γαζοφυλάκιον (fr. γάζα, a word of Persian origin = θησαυρός, ‘treasure,’ and φυλακή, ‘guard’), ‘a place for keeping treasure,’ i.e. either a treasure-chest or a treasure-chamber (Mark 12:41; Mark 12:43 || Luke 21:1, John 8:20). (1) In the two Synoptic passages it is used, in connexion with the incident of the poor widow who gave her two mites, to denote a treasure-chest, or receptacle into which offerings were cast by worshippers coming into the Temple—a sense in which the word is found also in Josephus (Ant. xix. vi. 1, where Agrippa hangs his chain of gold ὑπὲρ τὸ γαζοφυλάκιον). According to the Talmud (Sheqalim, vi. 5), there stood in the court of the women, the most frequented part of the sacred enclosure, 13 brazen chests, into which were dropped the contributions made for the service of the Temple, the support of the poor, and other pious purposes. These chests were of a peculiar shape—bulging out beneath so as to be of considerable capacity, but tapering upwards to a narrow mouth, into which the offerings were put—and, because of their resemblance to inverted trumpets, were known as shôphârôth (שׁוֹפָרוֹת, ‘trumpets’). It was into one of these shôphârôth that the widow would cast her all. (2) In the Authorized and Revised Versions rendering of John 8:20 Jesus is said to have spoken ‘in the treasury’ (ἐν τῷ γαζοφυλακίῳ), as He taught in the Temple. This rendering would imply that the γαζοφυλάκιον in question was not a treasure-chest merely, but a part of the Temple itself in which treasure was kept. Now, we know that there were special treasure-chambers within the inner court, in which not only the precious vessels of the sacrificial service and the costly garments of the priests, but vast sums of money and various other valuables were kept, and that these treasure-chambers, which were under the charge of officers known as γαζοφύλακες, were called γαζοφυλάκια (Nehemiah 10:37 LXX Septuagint ; Josephus BJ vi. v. 2). That Jesus would be found teaching in one of these inner treasure-chambers is, however, exceedingly improbable. And when we put such a supposition aside, two views may be taken of the meaning of ἐν τῷ γαζοφυλακίῳ. (a) We may take γαζοφυλάκιον to denote, as in the Synoptics, nothing more than a treasure-chest, and understand ἐν to be used in the sense of proximity merely (so Meyer; cf. ἐν δεξιᾷ θεοῦ [Romans 8:34 and frequently], ‘at the right hand of God’), so that the phrase would signify ‘at or near the treasury.’ (b) We may take ἐν in its strict local sense (so Winer, Gram. of NT Gr. 481), and then understand γαζοφυλάκιον to denote that part of the Women’s Court in which the treasure-chests were kept. But in either case the general meaning will be the same. Jesus was not in some closely guarded chamber of the inner Temple, but sitting ‘near the shôphârôth,’ or ‘in the colonnade where the shôphârôth stood.’

2. κορβανᾶς (fr. κορβᾶν; see Corban) occurs in NT only in Matthew 27:6, where it denotes the sacred treasury of the Temple. Into this treasury the chief priests would not put Judas’ thirty pieces of silver, ‘because it is the price of blood.’ In Josephus (BJ ii. ix. 4) the word is used not of the Temple treasury, but of the treasures it contained. Herod is said to have created a disturbance in Jerusalem by expending upon aqueducts ‘that sacred treasure which is called corbanas’ (τὸν ἱερὸν θησαυρόν, καλεῖται δὲ κορβανᾶς).

It may be added that, although in Authorized and Revised Versions θησαυρός is invariably rendered ‘treasure,’ it is occasionally used in a sense that corresponds to ‘treasury’ or the place where treasure is Kept. In Matthew 12:35 || Luke 6:45 it denotes the treasury of the heart; in Matthew 13:52 that of the well-provided householder, to whom Jesus likens the ‘scribe who hath been made a disciple to the kingdom of heaven.’

Literature.—The Lexx. and Comm.; Lightfoot, Hor. Heb. p. 536 ff.; Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. [Note: Talmud.] p. 2506; Keim, Jesus of Nazara, v. 192 ff.; Edersheim, LT [Note: T Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah [Edersheim].] ii. 164 f., 387; Schürer, HJP [Note: JP History of the Jewish People.] i. ii. 260 ff.

J. C. Lambert.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Treasury'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/t/treasury.html. 1906-1918.

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