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  • SKETCHES IN JEWISH SOCIAL LIFE - APPENDIX 1 - B
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    5. The Court of the women was 135 cubits long by 135 cubits broad, and four chambers were in the four angles, each 40 cubits square, and they were not roofed in. And so they are intended to be, as it is said: "And 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 a court. In the four corners of the court courts smoking" ...It is said, they were "smoking," and that because they were not roofed. And for what did they serve? That on the south-east was the chamber of the Nazarites, where the Nazarites washed their peace-offerings, and polled their hair, and threw it under the pot. That on the north-east was the wood chamber, where the priests who were disqualified picked the wood, and every stick in which a worm was found, it was unfitted for the altar. That on the north-west was the chamber of the lepers. That on the south-west Rabbi Eliezer, the son of Jacob, said: "I have forgotten for what it served." Abba Shaul said: "There they put the wine and the oil; it was called the chamber of the house of Schamanyah." And it [the wall] was at first flush, and they surrounded it with a gallery, so that the women looked from above and the men from beneath, for the purpose that they might not be mixed together. And fifteen steps went up from there to the Court of Israel, like the fifteen degrees in the Psalms [Songs of Degrees in the Psalms]. Upon these the Levites stood singing the songs. They were not rectangular but rounded, like the arc of a rounded substance.

    6. And there were chambers beneath the Court of Israel, and they opened upon the Court of the Women. There the Levites placed their harps, and their psalteries, and their cymbals, and all the musical instruments. The Court of Israel was 135 cubits long by 11 broad, and similarly, the Court of the Priests was 135 long by 11 broad, and the heads of the beams divided between the Court of Israel and the Court of the Priests. Rabbi Eliezer, the son of Jacob, said: There was a step, a cubit high, and upon it the Duchan was placed, and on it were three steps, each half a cubit. It results, that the Court of the Priests was 2 1/2 cubits higher than that of Israel. The entire court was 187 cubits long and 135 cubits broad. Thirteen obeisances took place there. Abba Jose, the son of Chanan, said: "Towards the thirteen gates." The southern were: nearest to the west, the upper gate, then the gate of burning, the gate of the first-born, and the water-gate. And why was its name called the water-gate? Because through it they brought the pitcher of water for pouring out for the "Feast of Tabernacles." Rabbi Eliezer, the son of Jacob, said: "And by it the waters were flowing down, with the direction of coming out below the threshold of the Temple." And opposite to them to the north were: (nearest to the west) the gate of Jeconiah, the gate of offering, the gate of the women, and the gate of the song. And why was it called the gate of Jeconiah? Because by it Jeconiah went out into captivity. That on the east was the gate of Nicanor, and it had two wickets, one on its right and the other on its left. And there were two [gates] to the west; they had no name.

    Perek III.

    1. The altar was 32 by 32 [cubits]. Upwards 1 cubit, and contract 1 cubit: that was the base. Remain 30 by 30. Upwards 5, and contract 1 cubit: that was the circuit. Remain 28 by 28. The place of the horns, a cubit on this side and a cubit on that side. Remain 26 by 26. The place for the tread of the priests, a cubit on this side and a cubit on that side. Remain 24 by 24: the place where the sacrifice was laid out. Rabbi Jose said: "At the first it was only 28 by 28; though it contracted and went up, according to this measurement, until there remained the place for laying the sacrifices: 20 by 20. But when the children of the Captivity came up, they added to it 4 cubits on the south and 4 on the west like a gamma, because it is said, 'And Ariel shall be 12 cubits long by 12 broad, square.' * That does not mean that it was only 12 by 12, since it is added: 'In the four corners thereof,' to teach that it measured from the middle 12 cubits in every direction."

    * Ezekiel 43:16, "Ariel" = the lion of God = the altar.

    And a scarlet line girdled it in the middle to separate between the upper and the lower blood-sprinklings. And the base ran round all the north and all the west side, but was shortened a cubit on the south and on the east.

    2. In the south-western angle were two apertures, like small nostrils, and the blood, poured on the base to the west, and on the base to the south, descended through them, and co-mingled in the canal, and flowed out into the brook Kedron.

    3. Below in the pavement, in that angle, there was a place, a cubit by a cubit, with a tablet of marble, and a ring was fastened in it, and here they went down into the sewer to cleanse it. And there was a sloping ascent to the south of the altar, 32 cubits long by 16 broad, and it had a pit at its west side, into which they put sin- offerings of birds that were defiled.

    4. Both the stones of the sloping ascent and those of the altar were from the valley of Beth Cherem. And they dug beneath the virgin soil, and brought out from it undamaged (whole) stones, upon which iron had not been lifted, because iron defiles everything by contact, and by scratching. One of these stones was scratched: it was defiled; but the rest were lawful for use. And they whitened them twice in the year, once at the Passover, and once at the Feast of Tabernacles; and the Sanctuary once at the Passover. Rabbi * says: "On the eve of every Sabbath they whitened it with a cloth, on account of the blood-sprinklings." They did not plaster it with an iron trowel, lest it might touch, and defile. For the iron is created to shorten the days of man, and the altar is created to lengthen the days of man, therefore it is not right that that which shortens should be lifted upon that which lengthens.

    * The Rabbi, i.e. R. Jehudah the Holy.

    5. And rings were to the north of the altar: six rows, each of four; but some say, four rows, each of six; and in these they slaughtered the holy sacrifices. The house (place) of slaughtering was to the north of the altar. And there were eight short pillars and squares of cedar upon the top of them, and hooks of iron were fastened in them, and three rows were upon each of them, upon which they hung up, and they skinned upon marble tables which were between the pillars.

    6. And the laver was between the porch and the altar, and inclined nearer towards the south. Between the porch and the altar were 22 cubits, and 12 steps were there, each step half a cubit high, and its extension a cubit--a cubit, a cubit, and then an extension of three (cubits); and a cubit, a cubit, and an extension of three; and the topmost, a cubit, a cubit, and an extension of four (cubits). Rabbi Jehudah said: "The topmost a cubit, a cubit, and an extension of five (cubits)."

    7. The doorway to the porch was 40 cubits high and 20 broad, and five beams of ash were upon the top of it; the lowest protruded over the doorway a cubit on this and a cubit on that side; that above it protruded over it a cubit on this and a cubit on that side; it results, that the topmost [was] 30 cubits, and a buttress of stones was between each one of them.

    8. And supports of cedar were fixed from the wall of the Sanctuary to the wall of the porch, lest they should bulge; and chains of gold were fixed in the roof of the porch, and by them the young priests mounted, to look at the crowns, as it is written: "And 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 vine of gold was standing over the entrance to the Sanctuary, and was suspended on the top of beams. Every one who vowed a leaf, or a berry, or a bunch, brought it, and hung it up there. Rabbi Eliezer, the son of Rabbi Zadok, said: "It happened (that they had to remove it) and there were numbered for it 300 priests." *

    * To remove or to cleanse it.

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