Jesus Drives the Money-Changers from the Temple

12th-13th century
Cathedral of the Assumption, Monreale, Sicily

This episode is narrated in Matthew 21:12-13 and John 2:14-16. The mosaic is based on John's account, the only one that mentions the sellers of sheep and cattle, the whip, and the spilling of the coins – all of which are seen here.

Both accounts do mention the overturned tables and the dove sellers. One of the latter is pictured on the right, his two doves in a cage at the end of his staff. On his right a money-changer grasps a sack of coins. The two men both use the same palm-out gesture, which in other images often registers acceptance or prayer. Here it is most likely the gesture of rejection current in today's culture.

Behind Jesus are two apostles. On the left behind Jesus is St. Peter, identifiable by his short beard and curly hair, which re-appear in many of the other panels in the Monreale mosaics. The beardless apostle on his left also reappears in many of the mosaics of Jesus' miracles, always just behind the latter's halo, and with his head on Jesus' chest in the Last Supper panel. Thus he is identifiable as St. John the Evangelist.

The inscription above the scene reads, IESUS E[I]ICIT DE TEMPLO VENDENTES OVES ET BOVES ET MENSAS NUMULARIORUM EVERTIT, "Jesus ejects from the Temple the sellers of sheep and cattle and overturns the tables of the money-changers."

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Photographed at the cathedral by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.