Chapter 1. 1The priests kept watch at three places in the Temple: at the Chamber of Abtinas, at the Chamber of the Flame, and at the Chamber of the Hearth; and the levites at twenty-one places: five at the five gates of the Temple Mount, four at its four corners inside, five at five of the gates of the Temple Court, four at its four corners outside, and one at the Chamber of Offerings, and one at the Chamber of the Curtain, and one behind the place of the Mercy Seat. 2The officer of the Temple Mount used to go round to every watch with lighted torches before him, and if any watch did not stand up and say to him, 'O officer of the Temple Mount, peace be to thee!' and it was manifest that he was asleep, he would beat him with his staff, and he had the right to burn his raiment. And they would say, 'What is the noise in the Temple Court?' 'The noise of some levite that is being beaten and having his raiment burnt because he went to sleep during his watch.' R. Eliezer b. Jacob said: They once found my mother's brother asleep and burnt his raiment. 3There were five gates to the Temple Mount: the two Huldah Gates on the south, that served for coming in and for going out; the Kiponus Gate on the west, that served for coming in and for going out; the Tadi Gate on the north which was not used at all; the Eastern Gate on which was portrayed the Palace of Shushan. Through this the High Priest that burned the [Red] Heifer, and the heifer, and all that aided him went forth to the Mount of Olives. 4There were seven gates to the Temple Court, three to the north and three to the south and one to the east. Those to the south were the Kindling Gate, next to it the Gate of the Firstlings, and the third was the Water Gate. That to the east was the Nicanor Gate beside which were two Chambers, one to the right and one to the left; the one was the Chamber of Phineas, the keeper of the vestments, and the other the chamber of them that made the Baken Cakes. 5And those to the north were the Gate of the Flame, which was a kind of portico over which an upper chamber was built, so that the priests might keep watch above and the levites below, and it had a door towards the Rampart; next to it was the Gate of the Offering; and the third was the [Gate of the] Chamber of the Hearth. 6There were four rooms in the Chamber of the Hearth, like cells opening into a hall, two within holy ground and two outside holy ground, and the ends of flagstones divided the holy from what was not holy. And what was their use? That to the south-west was the Chamber of the Lamb-offerings; that to the south-east was the Chamber of them that made the Shewbread; in that to the north-east the sons of the Hasmoneans had hidden away the stones of the Altar which the Grecian kings had defiled; and by that to the north-west they went down to the Chamber of Immersion. 7There were two gates to the Chamber of the Hearth: one opened towards the Rampart and one opened towards the Temple Court. R. Judah said: In that which opened towards the Temple Court was a small wicket by which they went in to inspect the Temple Court. 8The Chamber of the Hearth was vaulted; it was a large chamber and around it ran a raised stone pavement; and there the eldest of the father's house used to sleep with the keys of the Temple Court in their hand. The young priests had each his mattress on the ground. 9And there was a place there, one cubit square, whereon lay a slab of marble in which was fixed a ring and a chain on which hung the keys. When the time was come to lock up [the Temple Court] he lifted up the slab by the ring and took the keys from the chain. And the priest locked [the gates] from inside while a levite slept outside. When he had finished locking [the gates] he put back the keys on the chain and the slab in its place, put his mattress over it, and went to sleep. If one of them suffered a pollution he would go out and go along the passage that leads below the Temple building, where lamps were burning here and there, until he reached the Chamber of Immersion. R. Eliezer b. Jacob said: He used to go out by the passage that leads below the Rampart and so he came to the Tadi Gate.
Chapter 2. 1The Temple Mount measured five hundred cubits by five hundred cubits. Its largest [open] space was to the south, the next largest to the east, the third largest to the north, and its smallest [open space] was to the west; the place where its measure was greatest was where its use was greatest. 2Whosoever it was that entered the Temple Mount came in on the right and went round and came out on the left, save any whom aught befell, for he went round to the left. 'What aileth thee that thou goest to the left?' 'Because I am a mourner'. 'May he that dwelleth in this House give thee comfort!' 'Because I am under a ban.' 'May he that dwelleth in this House put it into their hearts to bring thee near, again!' So R. Meir. R. Jose said to him: Thou wouldest make it as though they had transgressed against him in judgement! but, rather, [they say], 'May he that dwelleth in this House put it into thy heart to listen to the words of thy fellows that they may bring thee near again.' 3Inside the Temple Mount was a latticed railing [the Soreg], ten handbreadths high. It had thirteen breaches which the Grecian kings had made; these were fenced up again, and over against them thirteen prostrations were decreed. Inside this was the Rampart [the Hel], ten cubits broad. And there were twelve steps there; the height of each step was half a cubit and the tread thereof was half a cubit. All the steps that were there [within the Temple Mount], the height thereof was half a cubit and the tread thereof was half a cubit, save only those of the Porch. All the entrances and gates that were there were twenty cubits high and ten cubits wide, save only those of the Porch. All the entrances that were there had doors save only those of the Porch. All the gates that were there had lintels, save only the Tadi Gate over which two stones leaned the one against the other. All the gates that were there had been changed [and overlaid] with gold, save only the doors of the Nicanor Gate, for with them a miracle had happened; and some say, because their bronze shone like gold. 4All the walls there were high, save only the eastern wall, because the [High] Priest that burns the [Red] Heifer and stands on the top of the Mount of Olives should be able to look directly into the entrance of the Sanctuary when the blood is sprinkled. 5The Court of the Women was one hundred and thirty-five cubits long and one hundred and thirty-five cubits wide. At its four corners were four chambers each of forty cubits; and they had no roofs. And so shall they be hereafter, for it is written, 'Then he brought me forth into the outer court and caused me to pass by the four corners of the court; and behold, in every corner of the court there was a court. In the four corners of the court there were courts inclosed'; and 'inclosed' means only that they were not roofed. And what was their use? That to the south-east was the Chamber of the Nazirites, for there the Nazirites cooked their Peace-offerings and cut off their hair and threw it under the pot. That to the north-east was the Chamber of the Wood-shed, for there the priests that were blemished examined the wood for worms, since any wood wherein was found a worm was invalid [and could not be burnt] upon the Altar. That to the north-west was the Chamber of the Lepers. That to the south-west R. Eliezer b. Jacob said: I forget for what it was used. Abba Saul [b. Batnith] said: There they put the wine and the oil, and it was called the Chamber of the House of Oil. Beforetime [the Court of the Women] was free of buildings, and [afterward] they surrounded it with a gallery, so that the women should behold from above and the men from below and that they should not mingle together. Fifteen steps led up from within it to the Court of the Israelites, corresponding to the fifteen Songs of Ascents in the Psalms, and upon them the levites used to sing. They were not four-square, but rounded like the half of a round threshing-floor. 6And there were chambers beneath the Court of the Israelites which opened into the Court of the Women, and there the levites played upon harps and lyres and the cymbals and all instruments of music. The Court of the Israelites was one hundred and thirty-five cubits long and eleven wide; so, too, the Court of the Priests was one hundred and thirty-five cubits long and eleven wide, and the ends of flagstones separated the Court of the Israelites from the Court of the Priests. R. Eliezer b. Jacob said: There was a step one cubit high, and the Platform was set thereon, and on it were three [other] steps each half a cubit high; thus the Court of the Priests was two cubits and a half higher than the Court of the Israelites. The whole of the Temple Court was a hundred and eighty-seven cubits long and a hundred and thirty-five cubits wide. And thirteen prostrations were made there. Abba Jose b. Hanin said: Opposite the thirteen gates. The southern [gates] were [thus] reckoned counting from the west: the Upper Gate, the Kindling Gate, the Gate of the Firstlings, and the Water Gate. And why was it called the Water Gate? Because through it they brought in the flagon of water for the libation at the Feast [of Tabernacles]. R. Eliezer b. Jacob said: Through it 'the waters trickle forth', and hereafter they will 'issue out from under the threshold of the House'. And opposite them on the north, counting from the west: the Gate of Jeconiah, the Gate of the Offering, the Gate of the Women, and the Gate of Singing. And why was it called the Gate of Jeconiah? Because through it Jeconiah went forth when he went into exile. To the east was the Nicanor Gate, and it had two wickets, one to the right and one to the left. And there were two [gates] to the west which had no name.
Chapter 3. 1The Altar was thirty-two cubits long and thirty-two cubits wide. It rose up one cubit and drew in one cubit: this formed the Base; thus there was left thirty cubits by thirty. It rose up five cubits and drew in one cubit: this formed the Circuit; thus there was left twenty-eight cubits by twenty-eight. The place of the horns was one cubit on every side; thus there was left twenty-six cubits by twentysix. The place on which the feet of the priests trod was one cubit on every side; thus there was left twenty-four cubits by twenty-four, the place for the [Altar] fire. R. Jose said: At first it was only twenty-eight cubits by twenty-eight; it rose up and drew in in the selfsame measure, until the place for the [Altar] fire was twenty cubits by twenty; but when the children of the Exile came up they added to it four more cubits to the south and four more cubits to the west, in the form of [the Greek letter] 'Gamma'; for it is written, 'And the altar hearth shall be twelve cubits long by twelve broad, square'; and can it be that it was only twelve cubits by twelve? but when it [also] says, 'in the four quarters thereof', it teaches that one must measure from the middle twelve cubits in every direction. And a red line went around it in the middle to separate between blood that must be sprinkled above and blood that must be sprinkled below. And the Base [of the Altar] extended all the length of the north side and all the length of the west side, and projected one more cubit to the south and one more cubit to the east. 2And at the south-western corner there were two holes like two narrow nostrils by which the blood that was poured over the western base and the southern base used to run down and mingle in the water-channel and flow out into the brook Kidron. 3At the same corner in the pavement below was a place one cubit square where was a slab of marble on which a ring was fixed; by it they used to go down to the pit and clean it. To the south of the Altar was an incline, [the Ramp,] thirty-two cubits long and sixteen wide, and on its western side was a hollow into which they cast the Sin-offerings of birds that became invalid. 4The stones of the Ramp and the stones of the Altar were alike taken from the valley of Beth Kerem, where they were quarried from below virgin soil and brought from thence as whole stones upon which no [tool of] iron had been lifted up. For iron renders [the stones] invalid [for the Altar] even by a touch, and by a blemish [it renders them invalid] in every respect. If one of the stones was blemished it becomes invalid, but the rest remain valid. They used to whiten them twice in the year, once at Passover and once at the Feast [of Tabernacles], and the Sanctuary once [in the year] at Passover. Rabbi said: They whitened them with a cloth on the eve of every Sabbath because of the blood. They did not plaster them with an iron trowel lest it should touch (the stones] and render them invalid; for iron was created to shorten man's days, while the Altar was created to lengthen man's days: what shortens may not rightly be lifted up against what lengthens. 5To the north of the Altar were rings, six rows of four each (and some say four rows of six each) at which they slaughtered the animal-offerings. The shambles lay north of the Altar, and there stood there eight short pillars; upon these were foursided blocks of cedar-wood into which were fixed iron hooks, three rows to each, whereon they used to hang [the slaughtered beasts]. They used to flay them on marble tables between the pillars. 6The laver stood between the Porch and the Altar, towards the south. Between the Porch and the Altar was twenty-two cubits, and there were twelve steps there, the height of every step was half a cubit and the tread thereof was [first] one cubit, [then another of] one cubit, [and another of] one cubit, [then] a terrace of three cubits, then two steps each of one cubit's tread, then a terrace of three cubits, and at the top were two steps each of one cubit's tread and a terrace of four cubits. R. Judah says: At the top were two steps each of one cubit's tread and a terrace of five cubits. 7The entrance to the Porch was forty cubits high and twenty cubits wide, and above it were five carved oak beams; the lowest one projected beyond the entrance one cubit to either side, the one above it projected beyond it one cubit to either side, [and so on]; thus the uppermost was thirty cubits long. Between every two beams was a course of stones. 8And cedar posts were fixed between the wall of the Sanctuary and the wall of the porch that it might not bulge. And golden chains were fixed to the roof-beam of the Porch by which the young priests could climb up and see the crowns, as it is written, 'And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah for a memorial in the temple of the Lord'. A golden vine stood over the entrance to the Sanctuary, trained over posts; and whosoever gave a leaf, or a berry, or a clusters as a freewill-offering, he brought it and [the priests] hung it thereon. R. Eliezer b. R. Zadok said: It once happened that three hundred priests were appointed thereto.
Chapter 4. 1The entrance to the Sanctuary was twenty cubits high and ten cubits wide. It had four doors, two within and two without, as it is written, 'The temple and the sanctuary had two doors'. The outer doors opened into the inside of the entry and covered the thickness of the wall, and the inner doors opened into the inside of the House and covered the space behind the doors, for all the House was overlaid with gold, save only behind the doors. R. Judah says: They stood inside the entry and were in the form of folding doors which doubled back upon themselves; these [covered] two cubits and a half and those two cubits and a half; and the door-post was half a cubit thick on the one side and the door-post was half a cubit thick on the other side, as it is written, 'And the doors had two leaves apiece, two turning leaves, two leaves for the one door and two leaves for the other'. 2The great gate had two wickets, one to the north and another to the south. By that to the south none ever entered, whereof it is expressly said by Ezekiel, 'And the Lord said unto me, This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, neither shall any man enter in by it, for the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut'. He took the key and opened the wicket. He entered into a cell, and from the cell into the Sanctuary. R. Judah says: He went along the thickness of the wall until he found himself standing between both gates; then he opened the outer doors from within and the inner doors from without. 3And there were thirty-eight cells there, fifteen to the north, fifteen to the south, and eight to the west. Those to the north and those to the south were [built] five over five, and five over them; and those to the west, three over three and two over them. And to every one were three entrances, one into the cell on the right, and one into the cell on the left, and one into the cell above it. And in the one at the northeastern corner were five entrances: one into the cell on the right, and one into the cell above it, and one into the passage-way, and one into the wicket, and one into the Sanctuary. 4The lower [story of cells] was five cubits wide and the floor above it six; the middle one was six cubits and the floor above it seven; and the upper one was seven as it is written, 'The nethermost story was five cubits broad and the middle was six cubits broad and the third was seven cubits broad'. 5And a passage-way went up from the north-eastern corner to the north-western corner, whereby they could go up to the roofs of the cells. [The priest] went up by the passage-way facing westward, and went the whole length of the northern side until he reached the west; after he had reached the west he turned his face to the south, and went the whole length of the western side until he reached the south; after he had reached the south he turned his face to the east and went along the southern side until he reached the entrance to the upper chamber, for the entrance to the upper chamber opened towards the south. And at the entrance to the upper chamber were two cedar posts by which they could mount to the roof of the upper chamber. And in the upper chamber the ends of flagstones marked where was the division between the Sanctuary and the Holy of Holies. And in the upper story were openings into the Holy of Holier by which they used to let down the workmen in boxes, so that they should not feast their eyes on the Holy of Holies. 6The Sanctuary was a hundred cubits square and a hundred cubits in height. The solid basement was six cubits, and the height [of wall built thereon] forty cubits, the wall-frieze one cubit, the place of drippingst two cubits, the roof-beams one cubit, and the plasterwork one cubit; and the height of the upper chamber was forty cubits, the wall-frieze one cubit, the place of drippings two cubits, the roof-beams one cubit, and the plasterwork one cubit; and the parapet three cubits and the scarecrow one cubit. R. Judah says: The scarecrow was not taken into account; but the parapet was four cubits. 7From east to west was one hundred cubits. The [thickness of the] wall of the Porch was five and the Porch eleven; the wall of the Sanctuary six and its interior forty cubits; the dividing space was one cubit and the Holy of Holies twenty cubits; the wall of the Sanctuary six, the cell six, and the wall of the cell five. From north to south was seventy cubits. The wall of the passage-way was five and the passage-way three; the wall of the cell five and the cell six; the wall of the Sanctuary six and its interior twenty cubits; the wall of the Sanctuary six and the cell six; the wall of the cell six, the space for draining away the water was three cubits, and the wall five cubits. The Porch projected fifteen cubits to the north, and fifteen cubits to the south, and this was called the Chamber of the Slaughter-knives, for there they used to keep the knives. The Sanctuary was narrow behind and wide in front, and it was like to a lion, as it is written, 'Ho, Ariel, Ariel, the city where David encamped'; as a lion is narrow behind and wide in front so the Sanctuary was narrow behind and wide in front.
1The Temple Court was in all a hundred and eighty-seven cubits long and a hundred and thirty-five cubits wide. From east to west it was a hundred and eighty-seven cubits: the place which the Israelites trod was eleven cubits; the place which the priests trod was eleven cubits; the Altar thirty-two; between the Porch and the Altar was twenty-two cubits; the Sanctuary a hundred cubits, and eleven cubits behind the place of the Mercy Seat.
2From north to south was a hundred and thirty-five cubits: the Ramp and the Altar measured sixty-two; from the Altar to the rings was eight cubits; the place of the rings was twenty-four; from the rings to the tables was four cubits; from the tables to the pillars four; from the pillars to the wall of the Temple Court was eight cubits; and the remainder lay between the Ramp and the wall and in the place of the pillars.
3There were six chambers in the Temple Court, three to the north and three to the south. Those to the north were the Salt Chamber, the Parwah Chamber, and the Rinsing Chamber. In the Salt Chamber they put the salt for the offerings; in the Parwah Chamber they salted the hides of the animal-offerings, and on its roof was the place of immersion for the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. The Rinsing Chamber [was so named] because there they rinsed the inwards of the animal-offerings; and a passage-way led from it to the roof of the Parwah Chamber.
4Those to the south were the Wood Chamber, the Golah Chamber, and the Chamber of Hewn Stone. 'The Wood Chamber' R. Eliezer b. Jacob said: I forget what was its use. Abba Saul [b. Batnith] said: It was the chamber of the High Priest and it lay behind the other two; and the roof of the three of them was on the same level. 'The Golah Chamber' the Golah cistern was there, and a wheel was set over it, and from thence they drew water enough for the whole Temple Court. 'The Chamber of Hewn Stone' there used the Great Sanhedrin of Israel to sit and judge the priesthood; and if in any priest a blemish was found he clothed himself in black and veiled himself in black and departed and went his way; and he in whom no blemish was found clothed himself in white and veiled himself in white, and went in and ministered with his brethren the priests. And they kept it as a festival-day for that no blemish was found in the seed of Aaron the priest. And thus used they to say: 'Blessed be God, blessed be he! for that no blemish has been found in the seed of Aaron. And blessed be he that chose Aaron and his sons to stand and serve before the Lord in the House of the Holy of Holies!'