Sunday, October 16, 2016

''                                 ,,למען ציון לא אחשה ולמען ירושלם לא אשקוט...                                                    “FOR ZION’S SAKE I WILL NOT BE STILL                                                 AND FOR JERUSALEM I WILL NOT BE SILENT…”                                                            ISAIAH 62:1



     by Rabbi Dr. Daniel M. Zucker
         Erev Succot 5777 / 16 October 2016 
        י''ד בתשרי, תשע''ז



Introduction.................................................................................................................................. ...............1


   Biblical Evidence:......................................................................................................................................1


       Archaeological Evidence......................................................................................................................1

   Second Temple Period Evidence:.............................................................................................................2


       Archaeological Evidence......................................................................................................................3

The Evidence: Supporting Materials.......................................................................................................4-36

   Biblical Evidence:......................................................................................................................................4


       Archaeological Evidence.................................................................................................................7-10

   Second Temple Period Evidence:...........................................................................................................11


       Archaeological Evidence...............................................................................................................22-36

Appendix A: Maps................................................................................................................................37-39

Appendix B: Diagram of Second Temple..................................................................................................40

Appendix C: Literary Sources for Temple Reconstruction......................................................................41





Introduction: On Wednesday, October 12, 2016, UNESCO voted on the status of the Temple Mount and the Kotel HaMa'aravi  (the Western Wall) in Jerusalem, declaring both to be exclusively Muslim sites, thereby denying Judaism's 3,000 year connection to the site (and Christianity's two millennium connection as well). This lie is one perpetuated by the late Yasser Arafat starting in the summer of 2000 and repeated regularly during the second Intifada (Intifada al-'Aqsa); it has been repeated with constancy by Arafat's successor, Mahmoud Abbas.

The following report, based on textual and archaeological evidence from the Biblical and Second Temple periods, should put the lie to Arafat's and Abbas' words, and demonstrate the extreme political bias shown by the UNESCO vote.

The Temple Mount (Hebrew:  הר הבית) was the site of the Holy Temple (Hebrew: בית המקדש) for over a millennium, and remains Judaism's holiest site forever. 



      A.   TEXTS: 

             1.   Genesis 22:1-19  (The 'Aqedah)

             2.   II Samuel 24: 18-25  (David buys the threshing floor)

             3.   I Kings 6: 2-10   (Solomon's Temple)

             4.   II Kings 25:8-21  ( Destruction of the Temple)


             1.   Direct:

                   a)   Ivory Wand from Temple

             2.   Indirect:

                   a)   The Ophel "Water Inscription" Fragment

                   b)   The "ben-Hilqiyah"  Bulla

                   c)   The "Gemaryahu" Bulla

                   d)   The "House of YHWH" Osracon from 'Arad



      A.   TEXTS:

               1.     New Testament:

                      a)  Matthew 21:10-17   (Jesus in the Temple)

                      b)  Mark 11: 15-19       (The Cleansing of the Temple)

                      c)  Luke 20:1-8            (The Question About Authority)

              2.      Josephus:

                      a)  Contra Apion 2.102-109  (Design of Temple, Ritual)

                      b)  The Jewish War I. 401ff  (Herod's Construction of the Temple)

                      c)  Antiquities of the Jews XV:40  (Herod's Temple)

                      d)  The Jewish War VI.2.4   (Titus disclaims responsibility for destruction)

             3.       Roman  Historians:

                      a)   Tacitus,  Histories  5:9   (from Pompey to Felix)

                      b)   Op. Cit.  5:12   (Temple defenses)

                      c)    Dio Cassius,  History of Rome  37.16.2-4  (Pompey)

                      d)    Dio Cassius,  Epitome,  65.7.2  (Temple's destruction)

                      e)    Sulpicius Severus,  Universal Chronicle  2.30, Fragment 2.6  (The Temple's fate                                  under Titus)

              4.      Rabbinic Literature:

                      a)  Mishna Sotah  7:8   (The King's Torah portion)

                      b)  Tosephta Sotah  15: 11-13   (Mourning for the Temple)

                      c)  Mishnah Middoth   (The Temple' Measurements)

                      d)  Talmud Bavli Sukkah  51b   (The Beauty of the Temple)



                1.   Direct:

                      a)   Inscription  "To the Place Of Trumpeting"

                      b)   Stele in Greek:  "Warning to Gentiles"

                      c)   Qorban (Sacrifice) Stone 

                2.    Indirect:

                      a)   Inscription  "Simon, builder of the Sanctuary"

                      b)   Menorah from Arch of Titus

                      c)   Jerusalem  Menorah and Cultic Objects Graffito

                      d)   Ancient Coins:

                            1)   Mattityahu-Antigonus: Menorah

                            2)   Shimon bar Kokhba:  Temple Facade

                            3)   Great Revolt: Sheqels  "Jerusalem the Holy"

                            4)   Yohanan Hyrcanus  High Priest

                            5)   Mattityahu-Antigonus:  High Priest  /  King

                            6)   Bar Kokhba Revolt:  "Eleazar the Priest"

                            7)   Bar Kokhba Revolt,  bronze coin:  amphora

                            8)   Bar Kokhba Revolt,  bronze coin:  harp

                            9)   Bar Kokhba Revolt,  silver dinarii:  jug  /  trumpets  /  lyre

                      e)    Zoar Tomb Inscription   ( "346th  year of Hurban" [Destruction of Temple])


--PART I--





        1.  GENESIS  22:1-19      The ’Aqeda

1And after these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah[*]. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied.12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” 13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” 19 Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.

[*]  Moriah (Hebrew: הַמֹּרִיָּה)   II Chronicles 3:1 says: “Then Solomon began to build the House of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mt. Moriah where [the LORD] had appeared to David his father, at the place which David had designated, at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.


        2.    II SAMUEL 24:18-25    David buys the threshing floor of Araunah 

18 On that day Gad went to David and said to him, “Go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19 So David went up, as the Lord had commanded through Gad. 20 When Araunah looked and saw the king and his officials coming toward him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground. 21 Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” “To buy your threshing floor,” David answered, “so I can build an altar to the Lord, that the plague on the people may be stopped.” 22 Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take whatever he wishes and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. 23 Your Majesty, Araunah gives all this to the king.” Araunah also said to him, “May the Lord your God accept you.” 24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them. 25 David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the Lord answered his prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.

      3.    I KINGS 6: 2-10   Solomon’s Temple: Description of Structural Features

6: The Temple that King Solomon built for the Lord was sixty cubits long, twenty wide and thirty high. The portico at the front of the main hall of the Temple extended the width of the Temple, that is twenty cubits, and projected ten cubits from the front of the Temple. He made narrow windows high up in the Temple walls. Against the walls of the main hall and inner sanctuary he built a structure around the building, in which there were side rooms. The lowest floor was five cubits wide, the middle floor six cubits and the third floor seven. He made offset ledges around the outside of the Temple so that nothing would be inserted into the Temple walls. In building the Temple, only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the Temple site while it was being built. The entrance to the lowest floor was on the south side of the Temple; a stairway led up to the middle level and from there to the third. So he built the Temple and completed it, roofing it with beams and cedar planks. 10 And he built the side rooms all along the Temple. The height of each was five cubits, and they were attached to the Temple by beams of cedar.

       4.    II KINGS 25:8-21  Nebuzaradan’s Destruction of the Temple

8 Now in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem.
9 And he burnt the house of the LORD, and the king's house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, even every great man's house, burnt he with fire.
10 And all the army of the Chaldeans, that were with the captain of the guard, broke down the walls of Jerusalem round about.
11 And the residue of the people that were left in the city, and those that fell away, that fell to the king of Babylon, and the residue of the multitude, did Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carry away captive.
12 But the captain of the guard left of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and husbandmen.
13 And the pillars of brass that were in the house of the LORD, and the bases and the brazen sea that were in the house of the LORD, did the Chaldeans break in pieces, and carried the brass of them to Babylon.
14 And the pots, and the shovels, and the snuffers, and the pans, and all the vessels of brass wherewith they ministered, took they away.
15 And the fire-pans, and the basins, that which was of gold, in gold, and that which was of silver, in silver, the captain of the guard took away.
16 The two pillars, the one sea, and the bases, which Solomon had made for the house of the LORD; the brass of all these vessels was without weight.
17 The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, and a capital of brass was upon it; and the height of the capital was three cubits; with network and pomegranates upon the capital round about, all of brass; and like unto these had the second pillar with network.
18 And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest, and the three keepers of the door;
19 and out of the city he took an officer that was set over the men of war; and five men of them that saw the king's face, who were found in the city; and the scribe of the captain of the host, who mustered the people of the land; and threescore men of the people of the land, that were found in the city.
20 And Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them, and brought them to the king of Babylon to Riblah.
21 And the king of Babylon smote them, and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was carried away captive out of his land.



        1.   Direct Evidence:   
               a)  The Inscribed Ivory Wand from the House of YHWH:

The Inscription
The inscription is carefully engraved around the shoulder of the body in small but very clear letters. The preserved part of the inscription was deciphered by Lemaire:

 lby[. ...]h qdŝ khnm.          לבי[. ...]ה קדש כהנם                                                                                                                      
Only the lower horizontal stroke of the yod and the upper horizontal stroke of the he remain. Lemaire proposed the restoration of the remaining letters and read the complete legend as follows:

lby[t yhw]h qdŝ khnm      לבי[ת יהו]ה קדש כהנם

"Belonging to the Temple of YHWH, holy to the priests"                     

Dating the inscription on paleographic grounds to the late 8th century B.C. E., Lemaire advanced the hypothesis that the pomegranate had been used by the priests in the service of the Temple of Jerusalem.



        2.    Indirect Evidence:

               a)   A Fragmentary Inscription from the Ophel:
                    (This text mentions mixing water, and so Joseph Naveh has suggested that it may have been part
of a plaque containing ritual instructions for the Kohanim [priests] in the Temple.)


               b)   The Bulla of 'Azaryahu ben Hilqiyahu:
                    (Hilqiyah / Hilqiyahu was the High Priest who discovered the Book of the Torah in the Temple [II Kings 22:8] circa 622 B.C.E., which led to the reforms of King Josiah)


               c)   The Bulla of Gemariah ben Shaphan:



                 d)  The "House of YHWH" Ostracon from 'Arad:






A.    TEXTS:

   1.     NEW TESTAMENT    

       a)    MATTHEW  21:10-17   Jesus in the Temple

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”12 Jesus entered the Temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’[Isaiah 56:7] but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’[Jeremiah 7:11]”

14 The blind and the lame came to him at the Temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the Temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. 16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”[Psalm 8:2, LXX]   17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.   

       b)    MARK  11:15-19     The Cleansing of the Temple

15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the Temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? [Isaiah 56:7] But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”[Jeremiah 7:11] 18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. 19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

       c)   LUKE  20:1-8   The Question About Authority

20:1  One day as Jesus was teaching the people in the Temple courts and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?” He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me: John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.” So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.” Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

 2.   JOSEPHUS    

       a)    CONTRA APION 2.102-109   The Design of the Temple

All who ever saw our Temple are aware of the general design of the building, and the inviolable barriers which preserved its sanctity. It had four Temple surrounding courts, each with its special statutory restrictions. The outer court was open to all, foreigners included; women during their impurity were alone refused admission. To the second court all Jews were admitted and, when uncontaminated by any defilement, their wives; to the third male Jews, if clean and purified; to the fourth the priests robed in their priestly vestments.
The sanctuary was entered only by the high-priests, clad in the raiment peculiar to themselves. So careful is the provision for all the details of the service, that the priests' entry is timed to certain hours. Their duty was to enter in the morning, when the Temple was opened, and to offer the customary sacrifices, and again at mid-day, until the Temple was closed.
One further point: no vessel whatever might be carried into the Temple, the only objects in which were an altar, a table, a censer, and a lampstand, all mentioned in the Law. There was nothing more; no unmentionable mysteries took place, no repast was served within the building.
The foregoing statements are attested by the whole community, and conclusively proved by the order of procedure. For, although there are four priestly tribes, each comprising upwards of five thousand members, these officiate by rotation for a fixed period of days; when the term of one party ends, others come to offer the sacrifices in their place, and assembling at mid-day in the Temple, take over from the outgoing ministers the keys of the building and all its vessels, duly numbered. Nothing of the nature of food or drink is brought within the Temple; objects of this kind may not even be offered on the altar, save those which are prepared for the sacrifices.

       b)    THE JEWISH WAR 1.401ff   Herod’s Temple Building Activities

Accordingly, in the fifteenth year of his reign, Herod rebuilt the Temple, and encompassed a piece of land about it with a wall, which land was twice as large as that before enclosed. The expenses he laid out upon it were vastly large also, and the riches about it were unspeakable. A sign of which you have in the great cloisters that were erected about the Temple, and the citadel which was on its north side. The cloisters he built from the foundation, but the citadel  he repaired at a vast expense; nor was it other than a royal palace, which he called Antonia, in honor of Antony. He also built himself a palace in the Upper city, containing two very large and most beautiful apartments; to which the Holy House itself could not be compared [in largeness]. The one apartment he named Caesareum, and the other Agrippium, from his [two great] friends.

       c)    ANTIQUITIES  OF THE JEWS XV:40   Herod’s Temple

1. And now Herod, in the eighteenth year of his reign, and after the acts already mentioned, undertook a very great work, that is, to build of himself the Temple of God, and make it larger in compass, and to raise it to a most magnificent altitude, as esteeming it to be the most glorious of all his actions, as it really was, to bring it to perfection; and that this would be sufficient for an everlasting memorial of him; but as he knew the multitude were not ready nor willing to assist him in so vast a design, he thought to prepare them first by making a speech to them, and then set about the work itself; so he called them together, and spoke thus to them: "I think I need not speak to you, my countrymen, about such other works as I have done since I came to the kingdom, although I may say they have been performed in such a manner as to bring more security to you than glory to myself; for I have neither been negligent in the most difficult times about what tended to ease your necessities, nor have the buildings. I have made been so proper to preserve me as yourselves from injuries; and I imagine that, with God's assistance, I have advanced the nation of the Jews to a degree of happiness which they never had before; and for the particular edifices belonging to your own country, and your own cities, as also to those cities that we have lately acquired, which we have erected and greatly adorned, and thereby augmented the dignity of your nation, it seems to me a needless task to enumerate them to you, since you well know them yourselves; but as to that undertaking which I have a mind to set about at present, and which will be a work of the greatest piety and excellence that can possibly be undertaken by us, I will now declare it to you. Our fathers, indeed, when they were returned from Babylon, built this Temple to God Almighty, yet does it want sixty cubits of its largeness in altitude; for so much did that first Temple which Solomon built exceed this Temple; nor let anyone condemn our fathers for their negligence or want of piety herein, for it was not their fault that the Temple was no higher; for they were Cyrus, and Darius the son of Hystaspes, who determined the measures for its rebuilding; and it hath been by reason of the subjection of those fathers of ours to them and to their posterity, and after them to the Macedonians, that they had not the opportunity to follow the original model of this pious edifice, nor could raise it to its ancient altitude; but since I am now, by God's will, your governor, and I have had peace a long time, and have gained great riches and large revenues, and, what is the principal filing of all, I am at amity with and well regarded by the Romans, who, if I may so say, are the rulers of the whole world, I will do my endeavor to correct that imperfection, which hath arisen from the necessity of our affairs, and the slavery we have been under formerly, and to make a thankful return, after the most pious manner, to God, for what blessings I have received from him, by giving me this kingdom, and that by rendering his temple as complete as I am able."

2. And this was the speech which Herod made to them; but still this speech affrighted many of the people, as being unexpected by them; and because it seemed incredible, it did not encourage them, but put a damp upon them, for they were afraid that he would pull down the whole edifice, and not be able to bring his intentions to perfection for its rebuilding; and this danger appeared to them to be very great, and the vastness of the undertaking to be such as could hardly be accomplished. But while they were in this disposition, the king encouraged them, and told them he would not pull down their Temple till all things were gotten ready for building it up entirely again. And as he promised them this beforehand, so he did not break his word with them, but got ready a thousand wagons, that were to bring stones for the building, and chose out ten thousand of the most skillful workmen, and bought a thousand sacerdotal garments for as many of the priests, and had some of them taught the arts of stone-cutters, and others of carpenters, and then began to build; but this not till everything was well prepared for the work.

3. So Herod took away the old foundations, and laid others, and erected the Temple upon them, being in length a hundred cubits, and in height twenty additional cubits, which [twenty], upon the sinking of their foundations  fell down; and this part it was that we resolved to raise again in the days of Nero. Now the Temple was built of stones that were white and strong, and each of their length was twenty-five cubits, their height was eight, and their breadth about twelve; and the whole structure, as also the structure of the royal cloister, was on each side much lower, but the middle was much higher, till they were visible to those that dwelt in the country for a great many furlongs, but chiefly to such as lived over against them, and those that approached to them. The Temple had doors also at the entrance, and lintels over them, of the same height with the Temple itself. They were adorned with embroidered veils, with their flowers of purple, and pillars interwoven; and over these, but under the crown-work, was spread out a golden vine, with its branches hanging down from a great height, the largeness and fine workmanship of which was a surprising sight to the spectators, to see what vast materials there were, and with what great skill the workmanship was done. He also encompassed the entire Temple with very large cloisters, contriving them to be in a due proportion thereto; and he laid out larger sums of money upon them than had been done before him, till it seemed that no one else had so greatly adorned the Temple as he had done. There was a large wall to both the cloisters, which wall was itself the most prodigious work that was ever heard of by man. The hill was a rocky ascent that declined by degrees towards the east parts of the city, till it came to an elevated level. This hill it was which Solomon, who was the first of our kings, by Divine revelation, encompassed with a wall; it was of excellent workmanship upwards, and round the top of it. He also built a wall below, beginning at the bottom, which was encompassed by a deep valley; and at the south side he laid rocks together, and bound them one to another with lead, and included some of the inner parts, till it proceeded to a great height, and till both the largeness of the square edifice and its altitude were immense, and till the vastness of the stones in the front were plainly visible on the outside, yet so that the inward parts were fastened together with iron, and preserved the joints immovable for all future times. When this work [for the foundation] was done in this manner, and joined together as part of the hill itself to the very top of it, he wrought it all into one outward surface, and filled up the hollow places which were about the wall, and made it a level on the external upper surface, and a smooth level also. This hill was walled all round, and in compass four furlongs, [the distance of] each angle containing in length a furlong: but within this wall, and on the very top of all, there ran another wall of stone also, having, on the east quarter, a double cloister, of the same length with the wall; in the midst of which was the Temple itself. This cloister looked to the gates of the Temple; and it had been adorned by many kings in former times; and round about the entire Temple were fixed the spoils taken from barbarous nations; all these had been dedicated to the Temple by Herod, with the addition of those he had taken from the Arabians.

4. Now on the north side [of the Temple] was built a citadel, whose walls were square, and strong, and of extraordinary firmness. This citadel was built by the kings of the Hasmonean race, who were also high priests before Herod, and they called it the Tower, in which were reposited the vestments of the high priest, which the high priest only put on at the time when he was to offer sacrifice. These vestments king Herod kept in that place; and after his death they were under the power of the Romans, until the time of Tiberius Caesar; under whose reign Vitellius, the president of Syria, when he once came to Jerusalem, and had been most magnificently received by the multitude, he had a mind to make them some requital for the kindness they had shown him; so, upon their petition to have those holy vestments in their own power, he wrote about them to Tiberius Caesar, who granted his request: and this their power over the sacerdotal vestments continued with the Jews till the death of king Agrippa; but after that, Cassius Longinus, who was president of Syria, and Cuspius Fadus, who was procurator of Judea, enjoined the Jews to reposit those vestments in the tower of Antonia, for that they ought to have them in their power, as they formerly had. However, the Jews sent ambassadors to Claudius Caesar, to intercede with him for them; upon whose coming, king Agrippa, junior, being then at Rome, asked for and obtained the power over them from the emperor, who gave command to Vitellius, who was then commander in Syria, to give it them accordingly. Before that time they were kept under the seal of the high priest, and of the treasurers of the Temple; which treasurers, the day before a festival, went up to the Roman captain of the Temple guards, and viewed their own seal, and received the vestments; and again, when the festival was over, they brought it to the same place, and showed the captain of the Temple guards their seal, which corresponded with his seal, and reposited them there. And that these things were so, the afflictions that happened to us afterwards [about them] are sufficient evidence. But for the tower itself, when Herod the king of the Jews had fortified it more firmly than before, in order to secure and guard the Temple, he gratified Antonius, who was his friend, and the Roman ruler, and then gave it the name of the Tower of Antonia.

5. Now in the western quarters of the enclosure of the Temple there were four gates; the first led to the king's palace, and went to a passage over the intermediate valley; two more led to the suburbs of the city; and the last led to the other city, where the road descended down into the valley by a great number of steps, and thence up again by the ascent for the city lay over against the Temple in the manner of a theater, and was encompassed with a deep valley along the entire south quarter; but the fourth front of the Temple, which was southward, had indeed itself gates in its middle, as also it had the royal cloisters, with three walks, which reached in length from the east valley unto that on the west, for it was impossible it should reach any farther: and this cloister deserves to be mentioned better than any other under the sun; for while the valley was very deep, and its bottom could not be seen, if you looked from above into the depth, this further vastly high elevation of the cloister stood upon that height, insomuch that if any one looked down from the top of the battlements, or down both those altitudes, he would be giddy, while his sight could not reach to such an immense depth. This cloister had pillars that stood in four rows one over against the other all along, for the fourth row was interwoven into the wall, which [also was built of stone]; and the thickness of each pillar was such, that three men might, with their arms extended, fathom it round, and join their hands again, while its length was twenty-seven feet, with a double spiral at its basis; and the number of all the pillars [in that court] was a hundred and sixty-two. Their capitals were made with sculptures after the Corinthian order, and caused an amazement [to the spectators], by reason of the grandeur of the whole. These four rows of pillars included three intervals for walking in the middle of this cloister; two of which walks were made parallel to each other, and were contrived after the same manner; the breadth of each of them was thirty feet, the length was a furlong, and the height fifty feet; but the breadth of the middle part of the cloister was one and a half of the other, and the height was double, for it was much higher than those on each side; but the roofs were adorned with deep sculptures in wood, representing many sorts of figures. The middle was much higher than the rest, and the wall of the front was adorned with beams, resting upon pillars, that were interwoven into it, and that front was all of polished stone, insomuch that its fineness, such as had not seen it, was incredible, and to such as had seen it, was greatly amazing. Thus was the first enclosure. In the midst of which, and not far from it, was the second, to be gone up to by a few steps: this was encompassed by a stone wall for a partition, with an inscription, which forbade any foreigner to go in under pain of death. Now this inner enclosure had on its southern and northern quarters three gates [equally] distant one from another; but on the east quarter, towards the sun-rising, there was one large gate, through which such as were pure came in, together with their wives; but the Temple further inward in that gate was not allowed to the women; but still more inward was there a third [court of the] Temple, where into it was not lawful for any but the priests alone to enter. The temple itself was within this; and before that Temple was the altar, upon which we offer our sacrifices and burnt-offerings to God. Into none of these three did King Herod enter, for he was forbidden, because he was not a priest. However, he took care of the cloisters and the outer enclosures, and these he built in eight years.

6. But the Temple itself was built by the priests in a year and six months; upon which all the people were full of joy; and presently they returned thanks, in the first place, to God; and in the next place, for the alacrity the king had showed. They feasted and celebrated this rebuilding of the Temple: and for the king, he sacrificed three hundred oxen to God, as did the rest every one according to his ability; the number of which sacrifices is not possible to set down, for it cannot be that we should truly relate it; for at the same time with this celebration for the work about the Temple fell also the day of the king's inauguration, which he kept of an old custom as a festival, and it now coincided with the other, which coincidence of them both made the festival most illustrious. 

7. There was also an occult passage built for the king; it led from Antonia to the inner Temple, at its eastern gate; over which he also erected for himself a tower, that he might have the opportunity of a subterraneous ascent to the Temple, in order to guard against any sedition which might be made by the people against their kings. It is also reported, that during the time that the Temple was building, it did not rain in the daytime, but that the showers fell in the nights, so that the work was not hindered. And this our fathers delivered to us; nor is it incredible, if anyone has regard to the manifestations of God. And thus was performed the work of the rebuilding of the Temple.


       d)   THE JEWISH WAR VI.2.4 (124-128)  Titus Disclaims Responsibility

4. Now Titus was deeply affected with this state of things, and reproached John and his party, and said to them, "Have not you, vile wretches that you are, by our permission, put up this partition-wall before your sanctuary? Have not you been allowed to put up the pillars thereto belonging, at due distances, and on it to engrave in Greek, and in your own letters, this prohibition, that no foreigner should go beyond that wall.* Have not we given you leave to kill such as go beyond it, though he were a Roman? And what do you do now, you pernicious villains? Why do you trample upon dead bodies in this Temple? and why do you pollute this holy house with the blood of both foreigners and Jews themselves? I appeal to the gods of my own country, and to every god that ever had any regard to this place; (for I do not suppose it to be now regarded by any of them;) I also appeal to my own army, and to those Jews that are now with me, and even to yourselves, that I do not force you to defile this your sanctuary; and if you will but change the place whereon you will fight, no Roman shall either come near your sanctuary, or offer any affront to it; nay, I will endeavor to preserve you your Holy House, whether you will or not want it of me.”

* See illustration of this Greek inscription below in Section B.1.b, “Stele in Greek: ’Warning to Gentiles’”, pp. 27b-28.



       a)   TACITUS, HISTORIES 5:9 2.102-109   From Pompey to Felix

Roman control of Judaea was first established by Gnaeus Pompey. As victor he claimed the right to enter the Temple, and this incident gave rise to the common impression that it contained no representation of the deity—the sanctuary was empty and the Holy of Holies untenanted. Though the walls of Jerusalem were dismantled, the shrine remained intact. During the civil war which then afflicted the Roman world, the eastern provinces passed under the control of Mark Antony and Judaea was conquered by the Parthian king Pacorus. But the invader was killed by Publius Ventidius, and the Parthians driven back across the Euphrates, while Gaius Sosius brought the Jews to heel.  Antony gave the kingdom to Herod, and it was enlarged by the now victorious Augustus. At Herod's death, without waiting for the imperial decision, a certain Simon usurped the title of king. He was dealt with by the governor of Syria, Quintilius Varus, while the Jews were disciplined and divided up into three kingdoms ruled by Herod's sons. In Tiberius' reign all was quiet. Then, rather than put up a statue of Gaius Caesar in the Temple as they had been ordered, the Jews flew to arms, though the rebellion came to nothing owing to the assassination of the emperor. As for Claudius, he took advantage of the death or declining fortunes of the Jewish kings to commit the government of the province to Roman knights or freedmen. One of these, Antonius Felix, played the tyrant with the spirit of a slave, plunging into all manner of cruelty and lust, and marrying Drusilla, grand-daughter of Cleopatra and Antony. This meant that while Claudius was Antony's grandson, Felix was his grandson by marriage.

      b)   TACITUS, HISTORIES 5:12   The Temple’s Defenses

The Temple was like a citadel and had its own walls, which had been even more laboriously and skillfully constructed than the rest. The porticoes around it constituted in themselves an excellent defensive position. To these advantages must be added a spring of never-failing water, chambers cut in the living rock, and tanks and cisterns for the storage of rainwater. Its builders had foreseen only too well that the strange practices of the Jews would lead to continual fighting. Hence everything was available for a siege, however long. Moreover, after Pompey's capture of Jerusalem, fear and experience taught them many lessons. So taking advantage of the money-grubbing instincts of the Claudian period, they purchased permission to fortify the city, and in the days of peace built walls meant for war. Already the home of a motley concourse, its population had been swollen by the fall of the other Jewish cities, for the most determined partisan leaders escaped to the capital, and thereby added to the turmoil. There were three different leaders and three armies. The long outer perimeter of the walls was held by Simon, the central part of the city by John, and the Temple by Eleazar. John and Simon could rely on numbers and equipment, Eleazar on his strategic position. But it was upon each other that they turned the weapons of battle, ambush and fire, and great stocks of corn went up in flames. Then John sent off a party of men, ostensibly to offer sacrifice but in reality to cut Eleazar and his followers to pieces, thus gaining possession of the Temple. Hence-forward, therefore, Jerusalem was divided between two factions, until, on the approach of the Romans, fighting the foreigner healed the breach between them.

      c)   DIO CASSIUS, HISTORY OF ROME 37.16.1-4 Pompey’s Conquest  

16 1 Most of the city, to be sure, he took without any trouble, as he was received by the party of Hyrcanus; but the Temple itself, which the other party had occupied, he captured only with difficulty. 2 For it was on high ground and was fortified by a wall of its own, and if they had continued defending it on all days alike, he could not have got possession of it. As it was, they made an excavation of what are called the days of Saturn, and by doing no work at all on those days afforded the Romans an opportunity in this interval to batter down the wall. 3 The latter, on learning of this superstitious awe of theirs, made no serious attempts the rest of the time, but on those days, when they came round in succession, assaulted most vigorously. 4 Thus the defenders were captured on the day of Saturn, without making any defense, and all the wealth was plundered. The kingdom was given to Hyrcanus, and Aristobulus was carried away.

      d)   DIO CASSIUS, HISTORY OF ROME 37.17.2-3 The Jew’s Temple

17: 2 They are distinguished from the rest of mankind in practically every detail of life, and especially by the fact that they do not honor any of the usual gods, but show extreme reverence for one particular divinity. They never had any statue of him even in Jerusalem itself, but believing him to be unnamable and invisible; they worship him in the most extravagant fashion on earth. 3 They built to him a Temple that was extremely large and beautiful, except in so far as it was open and roofless, and likewise dedicated to him the day called the day of Saturn, on which, among many other most peculiar observances, they undertake no serious occupation.

      e)   DIO CASSIUS, EPITOME 66.6.4-7.2 The Temple’s Destruction

6:4 The entrance to the Temple was now laid open to the Romans. The soldiers on account of their superstition would not immediately rush in, but at last, as Titus forced them, they made their way inside. Then the Jews carried on a defense much more vigorous than before, as if they had discovered a rare and unexpected privilege in falling near the Temple, while fighting to save it. The populace was stationed in the outer court, the senators on the steps, and the priests in the hall of worship itself. And though they were but a handful fighting against a far superior force they were not subdued until a section of the Temple was fired. Then they went to meet death willingly, some letting themselves be pierced by the swords of the Romans, some slaughtering one another, others committing suicide, and others leaping into the blaze. It looked to everybody, and most of all to them, apparently, [that so far from being ruin, it was victory and salvation and happiness to perish along with the Temple].

7 Even under these conditions many captives were taken, among them Bargiora, the commander of the enemy: he was the only one punished in the course of the triumphal celebration. Thus was Jerusalem destroyed on the very day of Saturn, which even now the Jews reverence most.

       f)  SULPICIUS SEVERUS, UNIVERSAL CHRONICLE  2.30, FRAGMENTS 2.4ff                                                  The Temple’s Destruction by Titus

The Pharisees for a time maintained their ground most boldly in defense of the Temple, and at length, with minds obstinately bent on death, they, of their own accord, committed themselves to the flames. The number of those who suffered death is related to have been eleven hundred thousand, and one hundred thousand were taken captive and sold. Titus is said, after calling a council, to have first deliberated whether he should destroy the Temple, a structure of such extraordinary work. For it seemed good to some that a sacred edifice, distinguished above all human achievements, ought not to be destroyed, inasmuch as, if preserved, it would furnish an evidence of Roman moderation, but, if destroyed, would serve for a perpetual proof of Roman cruelty. But on the opposite side, others and Titus himself thought that the Temple ought specially to be overthrown, in order that the religion of the Jews and of the Christians might more thoroughly be subverted; for that these religions, although contrary to each other, had nevertheless proceeded from the same authors; that the Christians had sprung up from among the Jews; and that, if the root were extirpated, the offshoot would speedily perish. Thus, according to the divine will, the minds of all being inflamed, the Temple was destroyed, three hundred and thirty-one years ago.



        a)   MISHNAH SOTAH  7:8   The King’s Torah Portion

The portion read by the king: How so? At the conclusion of the first day of the festival (Sukkot) in the eighth [year], at the end of the seventh year, they made a wooden platform in the Temple court, and he sits upon it, as it is said, “At the end of seven years, in the set time” etc (Deuteronomy 31:10). The sexton takes a Torah scroll and passes it to the head of the synagogue, the head of the synagogue passes it to the deputy, who passes it to the high priest, and the high priest passes it to the king and the king stands and receives it, but reads it while sitting. King Agrippa stood and received it and read standing, and the sages praised him. When he reached, “You shall not place a foreigner over you” (ibid 17:15) his eyes ran with tears. They said to him, “Fear not, Agrippas, you are our brother, you are our brother, you are our brother!” He reads from the beginning of “These are the words” (ibid 1:1) until the Shema’ (ibid 6:4-9), and the Shema’, and “It will come to pass if you hear” (ibid 11:13-21), and “You shall surely tithe” (ibid 14:22-29), and “When you have finished tithing” (ibid 26:12-15) and the portion of the king (ibid 17:14-20) and the blessings and curses (ibid 28), until he finishes all the section. The blessings that the high priest blesses, the king recites, except that he substitutes one for the festivals instead of one for the pardon of sin.   

       b)   TOSEPHTA SOTAH  15:11-13  Mourning for the Temple
               (See also TALMUD BAVLI, BABA BATRA 60b)
Our Rabbis taught: When the Temple was destroyed for the second time, large numbers in Israel became ascetics, binding themselves neither to eat meat nor to drink wine. Rabbi Joshua got into conversation with them and said to them: My sons, why do you not eat meat? They replied: Shall we eat flesh which used to be brought as an offering on the altar, now that this altar is in abeyance? He said to them: Why do you abstain from drinking wine? They replied: Shall we drink wine which used to be poured as a libation on the altar, but is now abolished? He said to them: Should we neither eat figs nor grapes, because there is no longer an offering of first-fruits at Shavuot?  Should we not eat bread either, because they used to bring the Two Loaves and the Showbread? Should we not drink water, because there is no longer any ceremony of the pouring of water on Succot?  To this they were silent, so he said to them: Not to mourn at all is impossible, because the blow has fallen. But to mourn overmuch is also impossible. But thus the Sages therefore have said: “When a man plasters his house, but he should leave a little bare as a remembrance of Jerusalem. (How much should this be? A man can prepare a full-course banquet, but he should leave out an item or two, as a remembrance of Jerusalem. A woman can put on all her ornaments, but leave off one small thing, as a remembrance of Jerusalem  For so it says, “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I remember thee not, if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.” (Psalm 137:5-6)

       c)   MISHNAH MIDDOTH  I:1-V:4  Measurements of the Temple

I. MISHNAH 1. In three places priests keep watch in the Temple— in the chamber of Abtinas, in the flash chamber and in the fire chamber. The Levites keep watch in twenty-one places — five at the five gates of the Temple mount, four at its four corners on the inside, five at the five gates of the Azarah, four at its four corners on the outside, one at the offering chamber, one at the chamber of the veil, and one behind the place of the Mercy Seat.

MISHNAH 2. The officer of the Temple mount used to go round to every watch, with lighted torches before him, and if any watcher did not rise [at his approach] and say to him, peace be to thee, supervisor of the Temple mount, it was obvious that he was asleep, and he used to belabor him with his stick, and he was also at liberty to burn his clothes, and the others used to say, what is the noise in the Azarah? it is the cry of a Levite who is being beaten and whose clothes are being burnt, because he was asleep at his post. R. Eliezer b. Jacob said: Once they found my mother's brother asleep, and they burnt his clothes.

 MISHNAH 3. There were five gates to the Temple mount-the two gates of Huldah on the south which were used both for entrance and exit, the gate of Kiponus on the west which was used both for entrance and exit, the gate of Taddi on the north which was not used [by the public] at all, and the eastern gate over which was a representation of the palace of Susa and through which the High Priest who burnt the red heifer and all who assisted with it used to go forth to the Mount of Olives.

MISHNAH 4.  There were three gates in the Azarah, three in the north and three in the south and one in the east. In the south there was first the gate of kindling, then the gate of offering, then the water gate. In the east there was the gate of Nicanor which had two rooms attached, one on its right and one on its left, one the room of Phineas the dresser and one the room of the griddle cake makers.

MISHNAH 5.  On the north was the gate of the flash which was shaped like a verandah. It had an upper chamber built on it, and the priests used to keep watch above and the Levites below, and it had a door opening into the Hel.(the outer circuit) Next to it was the gate of offering and next to that the fire chamber.

MISHNAH 6.  There were four side chambers to the fire room like alcoves opening into a hall, two in sacred ground and two in non-sacred, and there was a row of stones separating the holy from the profane. For what were they used? The one on the south-west was the chamber of offering; the one on the south-east was the chamber of the showbread. In the one to the north-east the Hasmoneans deposited the stones of the altar which the kings of Greece had defiled. Through the one on the northwest they used to go down to the bathing place.

MISHNAH 7.  The fire room had two gates, one opening on to the Hel and one on to the Azarah. R. Judah says: The one that opened on to the Azarah had a small lattice gate through which they went in to search the Azarah.

MISHNAH 8.   The fire room was vaulted. It was a large room surrounded with stone slabs. On these the elders of the fathers’ house [on duty] used to sleep having with them the keys of the Azarah, while the priestly novitiates slept each on his garment on the ground.

MISHNAH 9.   There was a place there one cubit square on which was a slab of marble. In this was fixed a ring and a chain [underneath] on which the keys were hung. When closing time came, the priest would raise the slab by the ring and take the keys from the chain. Then the priest would lock up within while the Levite was sleeping without. When he had finished locking up, he would replace the keys on the chain and the slab in its place and lay his garment on it and sleep there. If a seminal emission happened to one of them, he would go out by the winding stair which went under the birah, and which was lighted with lamps on both sides, until he reached the bathing place. R. Eliezer b. Jacob says: He descended by the winding stair which went under the Hel and he went out by the Taddi gate.


II  MISHNAH  1. The Temple mount was five hundred cubits by five hundred.  The greater part of it was on the south; next to that on the east; next to that on the north; and the smallest part on the west. The part which was most extensive was the part most used.

 MISHNAH 2.  All who entered the Temple mount entered by the right and went round [to the right] and went out by the left, save for one to whom something untoward had happened, who entered and went round to the left. [If he was asked], Why do you go round to the left, [and he answered] because I am a mourner, [they said to him], May He who dwells in this House comfort thee. [If he said] because I am excommunicated. [They said] May He who dwells in this House inspire them to befriend thee again. So R. Meir. Said R. Jose to him: You make it seem that they treated him unjustly. What then should they say? May He who dwells in this House inspire thee to listen to the words of thy colleagues so that they may befriend thee again.

MISHNAH 3.  Within it was the soreg[stone lattice] ten hand-breadths high. There were thirteen breaches in it; these had been originally made by the kings of Greece, and when they repaired them they enacted that thirteen prostrations should be made facing them. Within this was the Hel, which was ten cubits [broad]. There were twelve steps there. The height of each step was half a cubit and its tread was half a cubit. All the steps in the Temple were half a cubit high with a tread of half a cubit, except those of the porch. All the doorways in the Temple were twenty cubits high and ten cubits broad except those of the porch. All the doorways there had doors in them except those of the porch. All the gates there had lintels except that of Taddi which had two stones inclined to one another. All the original gates were changed for gates of gold except the gates of Nicanor, because a miracle was wrought to them; some say, however, it was because the copper of them gleamed [like gold].

MISHNAH 4.  All the walls of the Temple were high except the eastern wall, so that the priest who burnt the red heifer might while standing on the top of the Mount of Olives by directing his gaze carefully see the door of the Hekhal at the time of the sprinkling of the blood.

MISHNAH 5.  The women's Azarah was a hundred and thirty-five cubits long by a hundred and thirty-five broad. It had four chambers in its four corners, each of forty cubits. They were not roofed, and so they will be in the time to come, as it says, “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 smoked courts” [Ezekiel 46: 21-22]; and smoked means only that they were not roofed. For what were they used? The southeastern one was the chamber of the Nazirites where the Nazirites used to boil their peace-offerings and poll their hair and throw it under the pot. The north-eastern one was the wood chamber where priests with a physical defect used to pick out the wood which had worms, every piece with a worm in it being unfit for use on the altar. The north-western one was the chamber of the lepers. As for the southwestern one, R. Eliezer b. Jacob said: I forget what it was used for. Abba Saul says: they used to store there wine and oil, and it was called the oil storage room. It [the women's Azarah] had originally been quite bare but subsequently they surrounded it with a balcony so that the women could look on from above while the men were below, and they should not mix together. Fifteen steps led up from it to the Azarah of Israel, corresponding to the fifteen [songs of] ascents mentioned in the book of Psalms. The Levites used to chant psalms on these. They were not rectangular but circular like the half of a threshing floor.

MISHNAH 6. There were chambers underneath the court of Israel which opened into the court of women, where the Levites used to keep lyres and lutes and cymbals and all kinds of musical instruments. The court of Israel was a hundred and thirty-five cubits in length by eleven in breadth. Similarly the court of the priests was a hundred and thirty-five cubits in length by eleven in breadth, and a row of stones separated the court of Israel from the court of the priests. R. Eliezer b. Jacob says: There was a step a cubit high on which was placed a platform, and this had three steps each of half a cubit. In this way the court of the priests was made two and a half cubits higher than that of Israel. The whole of the Azarah was a hundred and eighty-seven cubits in length by a hundred and thirty-five in breadth, and thirteen prostrations were made there. Abba Jose b. Hanan says: They were made facing thirteen gates. On the south adjoining the west there were the upper gate, the gate of burning, the gate of the firstborn, and the water gate. (Why was it called the water gate? Because they brought in through it the pitcher of water for libation on the festival. R. Eliezer b. Jacob says: In it the water welled up, and in the time to come they will issue from under the threshold of the temple). Corresponding to them in the north adjoining the west were the gate of [King] Jeconiah, the gate of the offering, the women's gate, the gate of song. Why was it called the gate of Jeconiah? Because Jeconiah went forth into captivity through it. On the east was the gate of Nicanor; it had two wickets, one on its right and one on its left. There were further two gates in the west which had no special name.


III   MISHNAH 1.  The altar was thirty-two cubits by thirty-two. It rose a cubit and went in a cubit, and this formed the foundation, leaving thirty cubits by thirty. It then rose five cubits and went in one cubit, and this formed the surround, leaving twenty-eight cubits by twenty-eight. The horns extended a cubit in each direction, thus leaving twenty-six by twenty-six. A cubit on every side was allowed for the priests to go round, thus leaving twenty-four by twenty-four as the place of the wood pile [for the altar fire].  R. Jose said: Originally the complete area [occupied by the altar] was only twenty-eight cubits by twenty-eight, and it rose with the dimensions mentioned until the space left for the altar pile was only twenty by twenty. When, however, they returned from the captivity, they added four cubits on the north, and four on the west like a gamma, since it is said: And the hearth shall be twelve cubits long by twelve broad, square. Am I to suppose that it was only twelve cubits by twelve? When it says, in the four sides thereof, this shows that he was measuring from the middle, twelve cubits in every direction. A line of red paint ran round it in the middle to divide between the upper and the lower blood. The foundation ran the whole length of the north and of the west sides, but it left open one cubit on the south and one on the east.

MISHNAH  2.   At the south-western corner [of the foundation] there were two openings like two fine nostrils through which the blood which was poured on the western side of the foundation and on the southern side flowed down till the two streams became mingled in the channel, through which they made their way out to the brook of Kidron.

MISHNAH  3.  On the pavement beneath at that corner there was a place a cubit square on which was a marble slab with a ring fixed in it, and through this they used to go down to the pit to clean it out. There was an ascent on the south side of the altar, thirty-two cubits [long] by sixteen broad. it had a cavity in its western side where rejected sin-offerings of birds were placed.

MISHNAH  4.  The stones both of the ascent and of the altar were taken from the valley of Beth Kerem. They dug into virgin soil and brought from there whole stones on which no iron had been lifted, since iron disqualifies by mere touch, though a scratch made by anything could disqualify. If one of them received a scratch, it was disqualified, but the rest were not. They were whitewashed twice a year, once at Passover and once at Tabernacles, and the Hekhal was whitewashed once a year, at Passover. Rabbi says: They were whitewashed every Friday with a cloth on account of the blood stains. The plaster was not laid on with a trowel of iron, for fear that it might touch and disqualify, since iron was created to shorten man's days and the altar was created to prolong man's days, and it is not right therefore that that which shortens should be lifted against that which prolongs.

MISHNAH  5.  There were rings to the north of the altar, six rows of four each, or, according to some, four rows of six each, at which they used to slaughter the sacrificial animals. The slaughterers’ shed was at the north of the altar. There were eight dwarf pillars there, on which were blocks of cedar-wood. In these were fixed hooks of iron, three rows in each, on which they hung the carcasses, and flayed them over tables of marble between the pillars.

MISHNAH 6.  The laver was between the porch and the altar, a little to the south. The space between the porch and the altar was twenty-two cubits. There were twelve steps there, each step being half a cubit high and a cubit broad. There was a cubit, a cubit and a level space of three cubits, then a cubit, a cubit and a level space of three cubits, then at the top a cubit, a cubit and a level space of four cubits. R. Judah says that at the top there was a cubit, a cubit and a level space of five cubits.

MISHNAH 7.  The doorway of the porch was forty cubits high and its breadth was twenty cubits. Over it were five main beams of cedar. The lowest projected a cubit on each side beyond the doorway. The one above projected beyond this one a cubit on each side. Thus the topmost one was thirty cubits long. There was a layer of stones between each one and the next.

MISHNAH 8.  There were cross bars of stone stretching from the wall of the Hekhal to the wall of the porch to prevent it from bulging. There were chains of gold fixed in the roof beams of the porch by which the priestly novitiates used to ascend and see the crowns, as it says, and the crowns shall be to Helem and to Tobijah and to Jedaiah and to Hen the son of Zephaniah as a memorial in the Temple of the Lord. A golden vine stood at the door of the Hekhal trained on poles, and anyone who offered a leaf or a grape or a bunch used to bring it and hang it thereon. R. Eliezer son of R. Zadok said: On one occasion three hundred priests were commissioned [to clear it].

IV  MISHNAH 1.  The doorway of the hekhal was twenty cubits high and ten broad. It had four doors, two on the inner side, and two on the outer, as it says, and the Temple and the Sanctuary had two doors. The outer ones opened into the interior of the doorway so as to cover the thickness of the wall, while the inner ones opened into the Temple so as to cover the space behind the doors, because the whole of the Temple was overlaid with gold except the space behind the doors. R. Judah says: The doors were placed within the doorway, and they resembled folding doors, one half covering two cubits and a half [of the wall] and the other half covering two cubits and a half, leaving half a cubit and a doorpost at the one end and half a cubit and a doorpost at the other end, as it says: And the doors had two leaves apiece, two turning leaves, two leaves for the one door and two leaves for the other.

MISHNAH  2.  The great gate had two wickets, one to the north and one to the south. By the one to the south no man ever went in, and concerning this the rule was distinctly laid down by the mouth of Ezekiel, as it says, “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 God of Israel hath entered in by it; therefore it shall be shut.’” [Ezekiel 44:2] He [the priest] took the key and opened the [northern] wicket and went in to the cell, and from the cell he went in to the Hekhal. R. Judah says: He used to walk along in the thickness of the wall until he came to the space between the two gates. He used to open the outer doors from within and the inner doors from without.

MISHNAH  3.  There were thirty-eight cells there, fifteen on the north, fifteen on the south, and eight on the west. On the north and on the south there were five over five and five again over these; on the west there were three over three and two over these. Each had three openings, one to the cell on the right and one to the cell on the left and one to the cell above. In the [one at the] northeastern corner there were five openings, one to the cell on the right, one to the cell above, one to the mesibbah, one to the wicket, and one to the Hekhal.

MISHNAH  4.  The lowest story chamber was five cubits wide with a ceiling of six cubits; the middle story chamber was six cubits wide with a ceiling of seven; the top story chamber was seven cubits wide, as it says, the nethermost story of the side-structure was five cubits broad, and the middle was six cubits broad, and the third was seven cubits broad.

MISHNAH  5.  A winding passage went up from the north-east corner to the north-west corner by which they used to mount to the roofs of the cells. One ascended the passage facing the west, and traversed the whole of the northern side till he reached the west. When he reached the west he turned to face south. He then traversed the west side till he reached the south. When he reached the south he turned to face eastwards. He then traversed the south side till he reached the door of the upper chamber, since the door of the upper chamber opened to the south. In the doorway of the upper chamber were two columns of cedar by which they used to climb up to the roof of the upper chamber, and at the top of them was a row of stones showing the division in the upper chamber between the Holy part and the Holy of Holies. there were trap doors in the upper chamber opening into the Holy of Holies by which the workmen were let down in baskets so that they should not feed their gaze on the Holy of Holies.

MISHNAH  6.  The Hekhal was a hundred cubits by a hundred with a height of a hundred. The substructure was six cubits, then it rose forty, then a cubit for the ornamentation, two cubits for the guttering, a cubit for the roof and a cubit for the plastering. The height of the upper chamber was forty cubits, there was a cubit for its ornamentation, two cubits for the guttering, a cubit for the ceiling, a cubit for the plastering, three cubits for the parapet and a cubit for the spikes. R. Judah says the spikes were not included in the measurement, the parapet being four cubits.

MISHNAH  7.  From east to west was a hundred cubits — the wall of the porch five cubits, the porch itself eleven, the wall of the Hekhal six cubits and its interior forty, a cubit for the partition and twenty cubits for the holy of holies, the wall of the Hekhal six cubits, the cell six cubits and the wall of the cell five. From north to south was seventy cubits — the wall of the mesibbah five cubits, the mesibbah itself three, the wall of the cell five and the cell itself six, the wall of the Hekhal six cubits and its interior twenty, then the wall of the Hekhal again six and the cell six and its wall five, then the place of the water descent three cubits and its wall five cubits. The porch extended beyond this fifteen cubits on the north and fifteen cubits on the south, and this space was called the knife-house where they used to store the [slaughterers’] knives. Thus the Hekhal was narrow behind and broad in front, resembling a lion, as it says, “Ah, Ariel, Ariel, the city where David encamped.”[Isaiah 29:1] Just as a lion is narrow behind and broad in front, so the Hekhal was narrow behind and broad in front.
V  MISHNAH  1.  The whole of the Azarah was a hundred and eighty-seven cubits long by a hundred and thirty-five broad. From east to west it was a hundred and eighty-seven. The space to which the Israelites had access was eleven cubits. The space to which the priests had access was eleven cubits. The altar took up thirty-two. Between the porch and the altar was twenty-two cubits. The Hekhal took up a hundred cubits, and there were eleven cubits behind the Mercy Seat.

MISHNAH  2.  From north to south was a hundred and thirty-five cubits. The ascent and the altar took up sixty-two; from the altar to the rings was eight cubits. The rings took up twenty-four cubits. From the rings to the tables was four cubits, from the tables to the dwarf pillars four, and from the dwarf pillars to the wall of the Azarah eight cubits, and the remainder was between the ascent and the wall and the space occupied by the pillars.

MISHNAH  3.  There were six chambers in the Azarah, three on the north and three on the south. On the north were the salt chamber, the Parwah chamber and the washers’ chamber. In the salt chamber they used to keep the salt for the offerings. In the Parwah chamber they used to salt the skins of the animal-offerings. On its roof was the bath used by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. In the washers’ chamber they used to wash the entrails of the sacrificial animals, and from it a winding ascent went up to the roof of the Parwah chamber.

MISHNAH  4.  On the south were the wood chamber, the chamber of the captivity and the chamber of Hewn Stones. With regard to the wood chamber, R. Eliezer b. Jacob says: I forget what it was used for. Abba Saul says: The chamber of the High Priest was behind two of them, and one roof covered all three. In the chamber of the captivity there was a fixed cistern with a wheel over it, and from there water was provided for all the Azarah. In the chamber of Hewn Stone the Great Sanhedrin of Israel used to sit and judge [among other things the applicants, for priesthood. a priest in whom was found a disqualification used to put on black under garments and wrap himself in black and clear away. One in whom no disqualification was found used to put on white under garments and wrap himself in white and go in and minister along with his brother priests. They used to make a feast because no blemish had been found in the seed of Aaron the Priest, and they used to say thus: Blessed is the Omnipresent, blessed is He, because no blemish has been found in the seed of Aaron. Blessed is He who chose Aaron and his sons to stand to minister before the Lord in the Holy of Holies.


        d)   TALMUD BAVLI SUKKAH 51B   The Beauty of the Temple

GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: He who has not witnessed the rejoicing at the place of the Water-Drawing has never seen rejoicing in his life. He who has not seen Jerusalem in her splendor, has never seen a desirable city in his life. He who has not seen the Temple in its full construction has never seen a glorious building in his life. Which Temple?— Abaye, or it might be said, R. Hisda, replied, The reference is to the building of Herod. Of what did he build it? — Rabbah replied, of yellow and white marble. Some there are who say, with yellow, blue and white marble. The building rose in tiers in order to provide a hold for the plaster. He intended at first to overlay it with gold, but the Rabbis told him, Leave it alone for it is more beautiful as it is, since it has the appearance of the waves of the sea.


        1.   Direct Evidence:
            a)   Inscription: “To the Place of Trumpeting”

              b)   Stele in Greek: “Warning to Gentiles”

The map of the Temple and its courtyards shows where the stone inscription in Greek would have been located: on the outer (south) side of the “balustrade”. (see middle of drawing)


)       c)   “Qorban” (“Sacrifice”) Stone

       2.   Indirect Evidence:

        a)   Inscription: “Simon, the Builder of the Sanctuary”

          b)   Menorah from Arch of Titus, Rome  

The relief of a triumphal procession in which Roman soldiers carry the looted Temple treasures from Jerusalem, showing a detailed representation of the Menorah.

Menorah, in greater detail (from Arch of Titus)

          c)   Jerusalem Menorah and Cultic Objects Graffito

Location:Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem
Period:Herodian period, 1st century BCE

Technique: Plaster

Registration No.: IAA 1982-1055


This sketch was incised into a thick layer of plaster on the wall of an affluent home in Jerusalem’s “Upper City.” Dating from the time of Herod, it was apparently made by a priest who lived in the vicinity, and was familiar with the Temple vessels, including the menorah. The shape of the menorah is almost completely preserved; to the right, the showbread table can be seen below the incense altar. This moving and personal depiction is one of the few that have survived from the time the vessels still stood in the Temple. “Three most wonderful works of art, universally renowned: a lampstand, a table, and an altar of incense” (Flavius Josephus, Jewish War, V, v, 5)


d)   Ancient Coins

              1)  Mattityahu-Antigonus:  Menorah

               2)   Simon bar Kokhba: Temple Facade




3)    Great Revolt: Sheqels « Jerusalem the Holy »    



               4)    Yohanan Hyrcanus  High Priest


            5)  Mattityahu Antigonus    High Priest  /    King



6)    Bar Kokhba Revolt:  "Eleazar the Priest"

77 7)  Bar Kokhba Revolt, Bronze Coin:   Amphora

 8)  Bar Kokhba Revolt, Bronze Coin:   

9)    Bar Kokhba Revolt, Silver Denarii:   Jug / Trumpets / Lyre


 e)    Zoar Tomb Inscription:     “346th  Year of Hurban" 


     1.     Jerusalem—First Temple Period



2.    Jerusalem at the end of the Second Temple Period



 3.   Jerusalem During the Second Temple Period









תם ונשלם תהילה לאל בורא עולם