I will now provide in five chapters a concise, orderly account of all the measurements of the Temple and its courtyards in all their details.
1. The Temple Mount is three thousand cubits square. The Temple is situated on the Mount in such a way as to be further away from the southern side of the Mount than it is from any of the other sides. It is somewhat closer to the eastern side of the Mount, and still nearer to the northern side. The shortest distance of all is between the Temple and the western side of the Mount. The greater the area between the Temple and the side of the Mount, the more that area is in use.
2. The Temple Mount has five entrances, two in the south, one in the east, one in the north and one in the west. The height of the wall is six cubits and its thickness six. The gates are fifty cubits high and ten cubits wide. The thickness of the hollow of the gates corresponds to the thickness of the walls in which the gates stand.
3. Just inside the outer wall of the Mount is a lattice partition [Soreg] ten handbreadths in height. This encircles the entire Mount. Further inside is the Cheil, a wall of ten cubits [also encompassing the entire Mount]. Twelve steps lead up from the area within the Cheil to the Outer Courtyard on the east, while seven steps lead up to it on each of the north and south sides.
4. The Outer or Women's Courtyard [Ezrat Nashim] is 317 cubits long by 312 wide. It has three gates, one to the south, one to the north and one to the east. The vestibules of these gates are on the inside of the Courtyard. The walls of the vestibules are six cubits thick, and they jut out at right angles to the Courtyard walls on both sides of each gate at a distance of one and a half cubits from the gate itself. Since the gates are ten cubits wide, these vestibules are a total of thirteen cubits in length, and they are eight cubits wide. Two pillars stand at the ends of the two walls of each vestibule, one to the right and one to the left. The decorative work on these pillars is in the form of palms. The pillars are sixty cubits high and two cubits thick. When these pillars are included, each vestibule is a total of ten cubits wide. The gates themselves are fifty cubits high and ten cubits wide. The entrance sills are six cubits wide, corresponding to the thickness of the wall.
5. Outside the Outer Courtyard wall adjacent to each of the gates stand six cells, three on either side of the gate. The two cells immediately adjoining the gate on either side are set one cubit further back from the gates than the walls of the vestibules [which jut out at right angles to the Outer Courtyard wall on the other side, inside the Courtyard]. Thus the outer walls of the cells immediately adjoining the gate on each of its two sides stand at a distance of two and a half cubits from the gate. The walls of the cells are five cubits thick while their inside area is six by six cubits. From the beginning of the roof of the chamber immediately adjoining the gate on one side to the end of the roof of the chamber immediately adjoining it on the other side is a total of twenty-five cubits. [With the exception of the two cells immediately adjoining the gate on either side] these cells are not open to the outside. They open into one another, while the entrances of the two cells adjoining the gate on either side face each other across the hollow of the gate.
6. There are open windows in the walls of these cells and on either side of their entrances, and also in the walls of the vestibules. These windows are narrow inside, widening outwards.
7. Running along the inside of the walls of the Outer Courtyard on three sides there are paved galleries on which stand thirty chambers. The height of the galleries is the same as the height of the gates, which break the continuity of the galleries. Two chambers of one hundred cubits length and fifty cubits width stand in the north and south of the eastern section of the Outer Courtyard, starting from a point parallel to where the cells of the gates end. Each of these chambers has two entrances, one to the north and one to the south, as well as an entrance into the Israelite Courtyard. Between these two chambers and the north and south walls of the Women's Courtyard are areas fifty cubits wide and one hundred cubits long. In the four corners of the Outer Courtyard stand four courts of forty by thirty cubits each. This is where the offerings of lesser holiness [Kodshim Kalim] are cooked. Two of them are in front of the main Temple Courtyard and two behind the Holy of Holies.
8. Behind the western end of the Inner Courtyard [Azarah] to the north and south stand two other chambers. Their length is one hundred cubits, the same as that of the Temple building, and they are fifty cubits wide. Each chamber has three stories, one above the other. Three pillars are built in the thickness of the chamber wall, one at each end and one in the middle. The pillars protrude on both sides. Three other pillars are built into the facing wall, as it says, "pillar facing pillar on account of the three stories" (Ezekiel 42:3). These pillars give support to the walls of the upper stories. The upper stories are narrower than the lower stories, as it is said: "And the upper chambers were narrow for the pillars consumed of them" (ibid. 42:5).
9. Between these chambers and the House of the Knives is a space of five cubits. Between these chambers and the outer wall of the main Temple building [Heichal] is a space twenty cubits wide. On each side of the Temple at the end of the House of Knives there is an indent of one cubit in the wall to give access to the areas between the chambers and the Temple building. The chambers have gates leading on one side to the Outer Courtyard and on the other to the area between the chamber and the Temple building. These chambers possess the same degree of holiness as inside the Inner Courtyard [Azarah], for the holiest offerings [Kodshey Kodshim] may be eaten there, as it says: "And he said to me, the chambers of the north and the chambers of the south. for the place is holy" (ibid. 42:13).
10. In the north section of the Outer Courtyard to the west of the Inner Courtyard near where the chambers end is the place where the priests bake the Minchah-offering and cook the holiest offerings.
2. The Inner Courtyard has three gates, one to the south, one to the north and one to the east. The gates of the Upper [Inner] Courtyard are similar to those of the Lower [Outer] Courtyard, except that the vestibules of the gates of the Lower Courtyard stand inside their Courtyard, whereas those of the Upper Courtyard stand outside their Courtyard. The cells of the gates protrude eleven cubits from the wall. There are three cells on either side of each gate, and the vestibule of the gate stands between them in the middle. Thus from the Courtyard gate to the end of the vestibule is a distance of eleven cubits, in which eight steps lead up from the Women's Courtyard to the Israelite Courtyard.
3. Altogether the Inner Courtyard [Azarah] is one hundred cubits square. The Courtyard wall is six cubits thick. From the walls of the Inner Courtyard to the walls of the Outer Courtyard is a distance of one hundred cubits in each direction. Inside the Inner Courtyard are three chambers. Two of them are situated near the northern gate. One is the Washers' Chamber, which actually faces the gate. Inside this chamber are four marble tables on which the sacrificial portions are rinsed. Each table is one cubit high, one and a half cubits long and one and a half cubits wide. Fixed in the tables are metal hooks one handbreadth in length on which the animal carcasses are hung for skinning. The second chamber is the Chamber of Song, which faces south. It is built as one chamber from the outside, but inside it is divided into two. Here the Levites place their harps, lyres, cymbals and other musical instruments. The third chamber is by the eastern gate facing north. Here the Priests dress in their priestly garments and go out to perform their service.
4. At its base the Altar is thirty-two cubits square. The Base of the Altar [Yesod] rises to a height of two cubits. The Altar then recedes by one cubit on all sides, so that the next section of the Altar is thirty cubits square. This section of the Altar is called the Sovev. It rises to a height of four cubits. Above the Sovev the Altar recedes by another cubit on all sides, so that on this next level the Altar is twenty-eight cubits square. At the four corners of the Altar stand the "Horns", which are one cubit square. The area bounded by the Horns is thus twenty-six cubits square. There is a path one cubit wide for the Priests to walk around the Woodpile. The area bounded by this path - the area of the Woodpile - is thus twenty-four cubits square. The cubit used for measuring the Altar is the cubit of six handbreadths, with the exception of the cubits by which the Horns and indents of the Base (Yesod) and Ledge (Sovev) are measured. In these three cases the measurement used is the cubit of five handbreadths. A scarlet line runs horizontally around the middle of the Altar. The Base (Yesod) of the Altar is intact along the entire north and west sides, but at the southeast corner along the last cubit of the south side and the last cubit of the east side there is no Base.
5. The Ramp leading up to the Altar is on the east side of the Altar. It is thirty-two cubits long and sixteen wide. To the north of the Altar is the Slaughter Area. There are eight tables, four in the Vestibule, two to the east and two to the west, and four in the gate, two to the east and two to the west. On these tables the burnt, sin and guilt offerings are slaughtered.
1. Between the Altar and the Vestibule [of the main Temple building] is a distance of thirty-four cubits, in which there are twelve steps going up to the Vestibule. The Vestibule wall is five cubits thick. The Vestibule itself is eleven cubits wide [i.e. from east to west], while its length [i.e. from south to north] is the same as the breadth of the Sanctuary. The width of the entrance of the Vestibule is fourteen cubits. At the two ends of the Vestibule, the Sanctuary walls jut out five cubits. Stretching out on both sides of the Vestibule are the Houses of the Knives, which in each case are fifteen cubits wide with walls ten cubits thick.
2. The wall of the Sanctuary is six cubits thick. The Sanctuary entrance is ten cubits wide. The Sanctuary is forty cubits long and twenty cubits wide. Its door-posts are square. There are four doors, two on the inside and two on the outside. The outer doors open into the hollow of the entrance, while the inner doors open into the Sanctuary itself.
3. The Great Gate has two side gates, one to the north and one to the south. No one passes through the southern side gate except the High Priest when he goes to eat the sacrificial portions, as it says: "And God said to me, This gate will be closed. But the Prince - for he is the Prince - will sit there to eat bread" (Ezekiel 44:2-3). The Priest who opens the Sanctuary in the morning takes the key and opens the northern side gate. From there he enters the cell, and from the cell he goes into the Sanctuary. He then opens the Sanctuary gate, goes out and leaves.
4. The Sanctuary wall and the wall of the Vestibule are supported by cedar beams which run between them. All the walls are covered with planks of cedar coated with gold. All the walls and doors are decorated with cherubs having the face of a lion on one side and the face of a man on the other, with palms between each cherub. Thus facing each palm is the face of a lion on one side and the face of a man on the other.
5. The Candelabrum stands on the south side of the Sanctuary while the Show Bread Table is on the north side. The Table is three cubits high and two cubits long. The Incense Altar stands in the center but somewhat nearer the Gate. The pillars and widening windows of the Vestibule, the Sanctuary and the Holy of Holies are all of the same design.
1. A wall two cubits thick stands between the Sanctuary and the Holy of Holies. The entrance of the Holy of Holies is six cubits high and seven cubits wide. The hollow of the entrance has the same thickness as the wall: two cubits. The Holy of Holies is twenty cubits square. Its wall is six cubits thick.
2. Surrounding the walls of the Temple building are thirty-three cells: fifteen on the north side, fifteen on the south side and three on the west side. The cells on the north and south sides are in three successive tiers, each of which contains five adjacent cells. The three cells at the west end are built one on top of the other. Around the whole building there are thus three levels of cells with a total of eleven cells on each level. The cell walls are five cubits thick, the foundations six cubits thick and the cell itself four cubits wide. Each of the cells of the bottom layer has three entrances: one to the right, one to the left and one to the cell above it. The north-eastern cell has five entrances: one leading to the cell to its right, one leading up to the cell above it, one to the Winding Staircase [Mesibah], one to the side gate and one leading into the Sanctuary itself.
3. The length of the cells on the bottom tier is five cubits. Above the ceilings of the cells of the bottom tier, the Temple wall recedes by one cubit. The floor created by the ceilings of the bottom tier of cells together with this one cubit recession is six cubits, this being the length of the cells of the second row. Similarly, a further one cubit recession in the Temple wall at the level of the ceilings of the cells of the second row creates a floor of seven cubits for the cells of the third floor, whose length is thus seven cubits. The Winding Staircase gives access from the cells on each level to those on the level above, as it says, "The side chambers widened as they wound around higher and higher" (Ezekiel 41:7).
4. The three tiers of five cells on each side of the Temple start at its western end and run for a total of eighty-five cubits alongside the north and south walls of the Temple. Where the chambers end at the east end of the Temple there is a space of five cubits [the Munach] giving access to the openings of the last cells on the bottom level on each side. These are open to the north and the south. The wall of the cell is five cubits and the cell eleven.
1. The main Temple building is one hundred cubits long, one hundred cubits wide and one hundred cubits high. The hundred cubits from east to west are made up as follows: The wall of the Vestibule is five cubits, while the Vestibule itself is eleven cubits wide. The wall of the Sanctuary is six cubits thick. The length of the Sanctuary is forty cubits. The wall between the Sanctuary and the Holy of Holies is two cubits thick. The Holy of Holies is twenty cubits long. The western wall of the Sanctuary is six cubits thick, the cell four and the wall of the cell six. The width of the Temple building from north to south [excluding the House of the Knives] is seventy cubits, made up as follows: The Winding Staircase including its wall is ten cubits thick, the wall of the cell is five cubits thick, the cell itself is four cubits thick, the Sanctuary wall is six cubits thick, the Sanctuary is twenty cubits wide, the Sanctuary wall is six, the cell four, the wall of the cell five, and the Rainwater Spout [where the rainwater runs down from the roof, Beit Horadat Hamayim] including its wall is ten cubits thick. The Vestibule juts out fifteen cubits to the north and fifteen cubits to the south. These two areas of the Vestibule are called the House of the Knives. Thus the Temple building has the form of a squatting lion, narrow behind and broad in front.
2. The Inner Courtyard (Azarah) is one hundred cubits square. From east to west the hundred cubits consist of: seventeen cubits of the Courtyard of the Israelites, seventeen cubits of the Courtyard of the Priests, thirty-two cubits occupied by the Altar and thirty-four from the Altar to the Vestibule. From south to north the hundred cubits consist of: four cubits from the wall to the Altar Ramp, and sixty-four occupied by the Ramp and the Altar. The Altar is thus directly in front of the Sanctuary, as it says: "And the Altar in front of the House" (Ezekiel 40:47). The remaining thirty-two cubits are the distance from the Altar to the north wall.
3. The Outer Court is three hundred and seventeen cubits long and three hundred and twelve cubits wide. From east to west, the three hundred and seventeen cubits are made up as follows: from the wall of the Outer Courtyard to that of the Inner Courtyard is a distance of one hundred cubits. The east wall of the Inner Courtyard is six cubits thick. The inside length of the Inner Courtyard from east to west is one hundred cubits. The Sanctuary is one hundred cubits long, and there are another eleven cubits behind the Holy of Holies. From north to south the three hundred and twelve cubits are made up as follows: from the north wall of the Outer Courtyard to the wall of the Inner Courtyard is a distance of one hundred cubits. The north wall of the Inner Courtyard is six cubits thick. The Inner Courtyard is one hundred cubits wide inside. The southern wall is six cubits thick, and from there to the south wall of the Outer Courtyard is a distance of one hundred cubits.
4. Everyone who enters the Inner Courtyard goes out through the same gate through which he entered. The only exception is when fulfilling the precept of appearing in the Temple on the pilgrim festivals. In this case one exits from the opposite gate, as it says: "And he who enters through the gate in the south will leave from the gate in the north" (ibid. 46:9). The eastern gate is opened only for the Prince, and on Shabbat and the New Moon it is opened until the evening, as it says: "The Gate of the Courtyard will be closed. On the Shabbat day it will be opened and on the New Moon it will be opened" (ibid. 46:1).
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TEMPLE SECRET INDEX PAGE
by Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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