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A Day In The Temple by Rev. A.J. Maas S.J.

“Come and cast lots,” again resounds Matthiah’s stentorian voice, as soon as the priests are gathered in Gazith. A circle immediately forms around the prefect of the lots, the turban of one of the priests is seized, the fingers of the sacred ministers are raised, the stated number is counted off on the uplifted fingers, in a word, all is repeated that was done about the cockcrowing. Not less than thirteen offices are determined by the second lot. The priest on whom it falls, must slaughter the victim; the one next to him must sprinkle the blood upon the altar; the third in order must remove the ashes from the altar of incense; the fourth has to trim the lamps of the candlestick; the fifth must carry the head and one of the hind legs of the victim to the altar; the sixth must carry the two forelegs; the seventh, the tail and the other hind leg; the eighth, the breast and the neck; the ninth, the two sides; the tenth, the entrails; the eleventh, the offering of fine flour; the twelfth, the baked meat-offering of the high priest; the thirteenth, the wine for the drink-offering.

“Ascend the pinnacle, and see whether the time of sacrifice is at hand,” is Matthiah’s next command. Immediately one of the bystanders ascends the very highest place on the top of Nitzutz, and gazes towards the region of the rising sun. “The morning shineth,” runs his report. The bright sky of Palestine causes the heat of the day to radiate very quickly, so that the nights are as remarkable for their cold as the days for their heat. Thousands of years ago Jacob complained of the “drought consuming him by day, and the cold by night.” This intense cold condenses all the moisture of the night air into drops, so that a heavy fog rests in the morning, like a sea, on the plains and reaches far up the sides of hill and mountain. Hosea speaks of these “morning clouds and the early dew that go away.” But all this changes with sun-rise. Looking down from Nitzutz towards the Dead Sea, we notice the billowy masses of vapor sway and break up as soon as the light streams on them over the purple mountains of Moab; their shape and color change every moment in the kindling warmth of the sun, and instead of the whitish vapory color, which they had in the hollows of the landscape, they assume a fleecy, yellow tint on the slopes of the hills, then an opal and snowy brightness in the upper air, and finally they fade away into the unclouded sky.

“Is the sky lit up as far as Hebron?” is Matthiah’s next question.

“The auroral column reaches as far as Hebron,” the priest answers from the pinnacle. In fact, the oriental sun, suddenly rising above the horizon, appears like a cone of light.

“Fetch the victim,” Matthiah replies. The two priests destined to slaughter the victim, and sprinkle its blood upon the altar, proceed to the Beth-Moked. Thus far we have become acquainted with only two apartments of the House of Stoves, the dining room and the sleeping apartment. But at its northwestern corner, there is an apartment in which the lambs for the sacrifice are kept about four days before they are actually immolated. Hence, at least six lambs are constantly in readiness in the Beth-Moked, where, once a day, they are examined as to their fitness for the altar. Another examination takes place the night before their immolation, and the last one on the very morning on which they are offered. This last scrutiny is performed by torch-light, lest the victim should have contracted a legal irregularity during the course of the night.

The priests not engaged in fetching the victim, are busy about preparing the ninety-three instruments needed for the legal performance of the sacrifice. The Rabbis differ as to the reasons why the number of the sacrificial implements amounts to ninety-three. The treatise Chagigah of the Jerusalem Talmud maintains that ninety-three instruments must be employed, because the number of divine names in the three prophets, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi is ninety-three; R. Hunna declares that this explanation is not only absurd, but rests on a false supposition. Maimonides, Bartenora and Jom Tob give the same explanation in a merely historic form, thus showing that they themselves do not consider it satisfactory. All instruments are, however, said to be of gold or silver.

The lamb is watered out of a golden bowl in order to facilitate its flaying; for the skin is thought to become less adhesive by the draught. The material of which the bowl is made, is called in question by a number of Jewish Doctors, who substitute brass instead of gold. But the majority follows the general maxim that there is no poverty in the place of riches. The bowl is deposited, together with the other instruments, on a silver table north of the altar. The incipient daylight reveals to us in the same place six rows of rings, four rings in each row, ingeniously constructed for the fastening of the victim. More to the north, are eight low columns, each provided with three hooks to hang up the victim while it is skinned and disemboweled. Between the columns, but still more to the north, there are eight marble tables, for the flesh, the fat and the cleaned en trails. Finally another marble table, near the same place, serves for the laying out of the different pieces. According to some authorities, the hooks are fastened into cedar beams, laid across each pair of columns. The smaller victims are hung up on the lower hooks, while the larger ones are suspended from the higher. At any rate, the Mosaic law, “and he shall kill it on the side of the altar, northward before the Lord,” is fully observed in the arrangements of the various details.

The sacrificing priest, surrounded by his assistants, fastens the lamb to the second ring on the western end. We are told, indeed, that the lamb was not bound before being offered. But this merely means that its forefeet and its hind legs were not bound together. The same authorities admit that the lamb was fastened like Isaac was bound, when Abraham intended to immolate him. Again, they assign as a reason for not binding the victim, the fact that the victims of the Gentiles were bound forefoot to forefoot and hind leg to hind leg, when they were offered to the idols. The Jewish victims, on the contrary, have each forefoot bound to its corresponding hind leg; the victim’s head, fastened in the second ring in the marble floor, is turned to the south, its face to the west, its tail to the north, its back to the east. Instead of seeing in the second ring, the ring second in any one row, several authors understand by it the western-most or first ring of the second row. Since the altar is ten cubits high, they say, and the first row of rings only five cubits north of the altar, the rays of the rising sun would not reach the hands of the sacrificing priest, were he to kill the victim at the second ring of the first row.

Meanwhile, the priests destined to cleanse the altar of incense and to dress the golden candlestick have not been idle. From Ben Gabar the chief door-keeper they obtain the keys of the Temple proper, and from the prefect of the instruments they receive the golden Cuz and Teni; the former is shaped like a cup, the latter presents the appearance of a basket. Each with a key on his shoulder and one of the two implements in his hand, the two priests pass by the northwestern corner of the altar of holocausts, and proceed to the steps leading to the Temple proper, twenty-two cubits west of the altar. The stairway numbers twelve steps, each half a cubit high and one cubit wide. The third, sixth and ninth steps, however, are three cubits in width, and the landing is a flat, four cubits wide. Having ascended the steps, the two sacred ministers disappear from view through the curtained entrance of the Temple-porch. Though without doors, the entrance is most imposing. Its spacious dimensions, it is forty cubits high and twenty cubits wide, are still more enhanced by its five oak lintels. The lowest, twenty-two cubits long, spans the door posts of the entrance. The second, twenty-four cubits in length, is placed upon the thin layer of masonry resting immediately on the lowest beam. In a similar way, the third beam, twenty-six cubits long, follows the second, and the fourth, twenty-eight cubits long, rests upon the third; the fifth, thirty cubits in length, overtops all.

Before we follow the priests into the interior of the Temple, we must endeavor to obtain, by the light of the dawn, a general view of its external outlines. The sacred building proper is T-shaped, its main branch lying east and west. The part corresponding to the cross-line is, properly speaking, only the porch or the vestibule of the Temple. It is one hundred cubits long, but only eleven wide, and projects at both ends fifteen cubits beyond the main part. These shoulder-like extensions may have risen into flanking towers, covering the Holy and the Most Holy. At any rate, Rabbinic writers call the Temple lion-shaped, because its front is wider than its hinder parts. They see here an allusion to Jacob’s words: “Judah is a lion’s whelp; he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as a lioness; who shall rouse him up?”

The interior sanctuary is only twenty cubits wide. Both its northern and southern walls are six cubits thick. Then follow on both sides, north and south, three stories of rooms, each story containing five apartments. The width of the lowest room measures six cubits. Next, comes a wall, five cubits thick, inclosing the two sets of rooms, and finally, a circuit, three cubits in width, runs along both the northern and southern side, being again inclosed by an outer wall, five cubits thick. The Temple proper is, therefore, both on its north and south side inclosed by walls and apartments, twenty-five cubits in width; these two widths of twenty-five cubits together with the Temple width of twenty cubits, give us the total of seventy cubits.

Next, a word about the length of the Temple and its various parts. We have seen that the eastern wall of the vestibule is five cubits thick, that the vestibule is eleven cubits wide, and that the wall of the Temple proper is six cubits thick. Then follows the Holy, forty cubits long, with a wooden wall, one cubit thick, at its western side. West of this is the Holy of Holies, twenty cubits long, and inclosed by a six cubit wall. Next follow three stories of rooms, having three chambers in the lowest, three in the middle, and two in the third story. The width of the lowest apartments is six cubits, and the thickness of the outside wall is five. The length of the whole Temple amounts, therefore, to one hundred cubits.

The height of the Temple too deserves special notice. From what has been said about the stairs leading to the entrance of the porch, we see that the floor of the building is six cubits higher than the surrounding court. Both the Holy and the Holy of Holies are forty cubits high; the rafters are one cubit thick; transversely on them rest the braces, two cubits thick; then follows a double flooring, the one of wood the other of cement, but both one cubit thick. Chambers, forty cubits high, overtop both the Holy and the Holy of Holies. Rafters, one cubit thick, braces, two cubits in thickness, and floorings of wood and cement, each one cubit thick, form the ceiling. Both the gabled cedar roof and its surrounding balustrade, three cubits high, are armed with golden spikes, one cubit long, in order to prevent the birds from resting on or soiling the sacred edifice. The height of the Temple, from the level of the court to the top of the spikes on the balustrade, amounts, therefore, to one hundred cubits.

And now another look at the wings flanking the Holy and the Holy of Holies. We perceive, at a first glance, that they are considerably lower than the main building, which overtowers the Holy Places. At the height of about fifty cubits, their slanting roof abuts with its higher end on the inner wall. Outside windows are, therefore, impossible in both the Holy and the Holy of Holies.

The two sacred ministers at the entrance of the porch, have long ere this drawn the curtain covering the huge portal. While one of them opens the wicket in the Temple-door, we may be allowed to look about, and study by the pale morning light the various pieces of furniture found in the porch. To our right and left are cases holding the sacrificial knives. In front of us are two tables, one of marble and the other of gold. On the former the shewbread is deposited on the Sabbath, when it is brought into the Holy, on the latter it is placed on being brought out of the Holy. Near by are kept a number of dedicated gifts, such as the golden candelabra of the proselyte queen of Adiabene, the two golden crowns presented by the Maccabees and, above all, a gigantic vine of pure gold, the symbol of Israel, hung over the door leading into the Holy Place. The whole vine is made of votive offerings, each cluster being of a man’s height. But the Rabbinic writers agree that their Doctors have somewhat exaggerated the size of the golden vine, and we may safely suppose that what they tell us concerning the golden chains hanging from the ceiling of the porch and serving the priestly candidates as ladders for ascending to the second story of the porch in order to view the gold crowns which ornament the window openings, is also the offspring of the same Rabbinic fancy.

We must now watch the priest opening the door of the Holy Place, if we wish to become acquainted with all its particulars. First, he moves aside the rich Babylonian curtain presenting the four Temple colors, the white of fine linen, blue, scarlet, and purple. It hangs in front of the two-leaved and gold-plated door. We hardly need to be reminded that the door is twenty cubits high and ten cubits wide, dimensions proper to all the doors inside the Temple court, the portal of the porch alone excepted. A first glance shows us also that there are two wickets in the door, one in its northern and one in its southern leaf. The latter is never opened, because it is supposed to represent the gate of which Ezekiel says: “This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, neither shall any man enter by it; for the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it.” There is an aperture above the northern wicket through which one of the priests thrusts his arm up to the shoulder, in order to reach and remove the bolt locking the door on the inside. Then he puts the other key into the outer bolt, and removes it also. Both priests now enter through the wicket into the Holy Place—but no, not yet into the Holy Place.

What has been told us concerning the thickness of the walls, assumes now a practical bearing. The gate through which we have entered is, indeed, one cubit inside the outer edge of the wall; but there still remains a thickness of five cubits to be passed through. Nor is this all. On the inner edge of the wall there is another two-leaved, gold-plated door, in dimensions equal to the outer door. This too is locked, both outside and inside. The outer bolt is easily removed; the inner occasions more serious difficulties. Turning to their right the priests enter a narrow passage, constructed in the very wall itself; through this they pass along the eastern side, northwards, till they reach the chamber at the northeastern corner of the Temple wall. The apartment is quite dark; accustomed as the two priests are to the place, they turn without further delay to the left, where they find a door leading through its northern wall into the Holy Place.

Had they been less acquainted with the inner construction of the Temple-building, they might have easily lost their way in the dark passage and the darker room. For the doors through which they passed were not the only ones in the room. Had they gone straight forward, they would have found a door leading into the adjoining apartment. A turn to the right would have brought them to a door leading into the circuit, which we saw flanking the northern and southern sides of the Temple. The latter’s peculiar arrangement calls for a few words of explanation. Near the entrance through which we have come, there begins a gradual ascent, inclined at such an angle, that it reaches the height of the second story at the northwestern corner of the Temple. Turning then to the left, it runs in the form of a level passage through the outermost western wall; then it turns again to the left, and passes through the southern circuit, again at such an angle that it reaches the level of the third story at the southeastern corner of the building. From the apartment in the third story, at its southeastern corner, we may enter the hall over the Holy and the Most Holy Places. By a ladder fastened to the south side of this hall, one ascends to the roof of the building. In the same hall, over the Holy of Holies, we notice an aperture of peculiar construction; through this a basket or a box, holding a workman, is lowered into the Holy of Holies, whenever the high priest discovers that any repair is needed. The workman is thus prevented from “feeding his eyes,” on anything holy in the place, excepting the very spot where he is engaged in his work.

Retracing our steps we notice, no doubt, that the chambers of the third story are wider than those of the second, and those of the second story wider than those of the first. The reason of this is easily understood. The rafters on which the ceilings of the various stories rest, are not inserted into the adjoining walls, but the walls themselves contract half a cubit with each story, and the rafters rest on the rectangular projections thus formed. While the lowest apartments are six cubits wide, those of the second story are seven cubits in width, and those of the third, eight. Every chamber has three doors, two leading to each of the adjoining rooms, and one to the room above.

We may follow the two priests who have, meanwhile, entered the Holy Place by the door leading through the northern wall. Here the sacred ministers first go towards the left, and open the inner, eastern door. Its two leaves are thrown back against the wall. In this way the color of the whole interior becomes uniform; for all the walls, except the parts immediately behind the door-leaves, are covered with gold. The leaves of the outer, eastern door are in the same way fastened against the sides of the entrance. Since each leaf is five cubits wide, it covers exactly the thickness of the wall between the outer and the inner door.

The silence of the night now ceases, and gives way to the loud signals of the day. According to Rabbinic traditions, the sound of Ben-Catin’s machinery for filling the laver was not the only sound that reached to Jericho. The groaning of the inner Temple gate, the roar of the Magrephah, a signal-instrument emitting a compound of a hundred sounds at once, the voice of Gebini the herald, the screaming of the flutes, the melody of the Psalm, the trumpet blast, and the high priest’s solemn voice as he pronounced the sacred name of God on the Day of Atonement, were one and all heard as far as Jericho. At Jericho too was perceived the fragrance of the incense; according to R. Eliezer ben Daglai’s testimony, its redolence made the goats of Aba sneeze even on the mountains of Mikvor.

Scarcely have the two priests opened the inner door of the Temple, when the signal is given to open all the gates. Immediately after, the voice of Gebini fills the courts and reaches far beyond the huge inclosures of the Temple Mount to the adjacent parts of the Holy City: “Priests and Levites, to your duty!”

All within the sacred precincts, down to Abiathar, the most Sadducean minded head priest of the course of Abijah, who has till now remained in the warm department of the Beth-Moked, begin to stir about. The two hundred and ten Levites who have been on duty as watchmen during the night, leave their twenty-one stations. Five of these are at the five principal gates of the outer court, or the Court of Gentiles; four at the four corners of the same court, inside the inclosure; five more stations are at the five most important gates of the Court of Israel: at the Beautiful Gate, the Nicanor Gate, at Nitzutz, at Abtinas, and near Beth-Moked; four are at the four corners of the same court, but outside its wall, in the Court of Gentiles; one is in the treasury, one outside the Parbar Gate, and the last near the same place, but more remote from the Temple. Thus the words of Paralipomenon: “eastward were six Levites, northward four a day, southward four a day, and for the storehouse two and two; for Parbar westward, four at the cause-way, and two at Parbar,” are in their way verified, even in the Herodian Temple.

Turning to the east, we see the leaves of the Nicanor Gate slowly moving on their hinges. The gate is the more remarkable, because it alone is made of Corinthian brass, while all the others are plated with gold. Two most extraordinary events have occasioned this distinction of the Nicanor Gate. Nicanor, the Rabbis tell us, had the leaves made at Alexandria in Egypt. When he brought them to Jerusalem, a mighty storm obliged the sailors to throw one of the leaves overboard. Nicanor clutched firmly on to the other, and declared that he himself would be thrown with it into the raging sea. God heard his earnest prayer and calmed the storm, so that the second leaf was brought safely to Ptolemais. But miracles do not usually come singly. When the ship ran into harbor the first doorleaf, which had been thrown into the water, was found adhering to the bottom of the vessel. The extremely brilliant color of the brass was another motive for not plating the Nicanor Gate with gold, though all the other gates were subjected to this process.

Still facing eastward, a number of Levites moving towards the Beautiful Gate which leads into the Court of Women, attract our attention. Though the gate’s dimensions do not differ from those of all the others, still its leaves are so massive that the united strength of at least twenty men is required to move them on their hinges. As soon as the groan of the Beautiful Gate is heard in the court, the priests in charge, standing near the table of fat, blow three blasts on their silver trumpets, summoning the Levites and the “representatives” of the people to their respective duties. The three blasts are described by the Rabbis as consisting of “an alarm in the midst, with a plain note before and after.”

In order to follow the coming service with more ease, we must keep in mind that, like the priests, the Levites had, at the time of king David, been divided into twenty-four courses, which were to act as priests’ assistants, as singers and musicians, as gate-keepers and guards, and as officers and judges. At that time, the Levites, counted from thirty years and upwards, were thirty-eight thousand in number.

Twenty-four thousand of these had the charge of the Temple under the jurisdiction of the priests. They had to look after the sacred vestments and vessels, the store houses and their contents, the preparation of the shewbread, the meat offerings, and the spices, to assist the priests in their work, to clean the sanctuary, and to take charge of the treasuries.

Six thousand Levites were officers and judges; in the Temple of Herod, there is, at the period of which we speak, no more room for these two employments of the Levites. On the one hand, all the civil and judicial power left to the Jews is now in the hands of the Sanhedrin; on the other, the number of Levites has been considerably diminished, during the time of the Babylonian captivity. While no less than four thousand two hundred and eighty-nine priests returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel and Joshua, only seventy-four priests’ assistants came back, together with one hundred and twenty-eight singers, and a hundred and thirty-nine door-keepers. When Ezra returned he managed to bring with him thirty-eight more Levites; but even these were persuaded only after serious expostulation. The subordinate place assigned to the Levites, seems to have been the reason for their disinclination to return.

The Levitic ranks were, however, considerably strengthened by those children of Levi who had never left their native country. For since the Levites were more scattered over the whole land than the priests, few of them had been carried off into the Babylonian captivity. Hence the fact that in the catalogue of Levites, in the second Book of Ezra, we find a few more families than we meet with in the catalogue of those who returned with Zerubbabel is not so surprising as some have thought it. In another catalogue found in the same Book of Ezra, seventeen families are given as belonging to the Levites. At any rate, Josephus testifies that each of the twenty-four courses of priests had in his time a corresponding course of Levites.

Still, it is certain beyond all reasonable doubt that the real descendants of Levi could not fully supply the deficiency in the Levitical ranks caused by the Babylonian captivity. In David’s time there had been four thousand singers and four thousand door-keepers, besides the above mentioned six thousand judges and twenty-four thousand assistants. Not even the two hundred and twenty Nethinim or “given ones,” could fully repair the lacking number. Strangers and captives as these latter were, they must have held a position analogous to that of the Gibeonites. According to the Rabbinic law the Nethinim are free indeed from taxation and military service, like the priests and Levites, but they are classed below a bastard, though above a proselyte; intermarrying with Israelites is forbidden them, and membership of the congregation they cannot claim.

In addition to this, there is an analogous division of the people themselves into twenty-four courses of service, each of which has to take its turn in coming before the Lord every day for a whole week, while the daily sacrifice is being offered, by way of representing the body of the people. The division actually engaged in the performance or this duty, is known by the name Ma’ amad or “station.” But the entire lay-station does not necessarily go to Jerusalem, when its turn comes. The persons belonging to it, may meet together in the synagogues of the towns in or near which they reside, and there engage in the reading of the Scripture and prayer. A deputation suffices to represent them. And it is above all, this deputation which “stands by,” while the sacrifice is offering; hence its members are named stationary men, and are bound to be in the Temple during the morning offering.

But to return to the sacrificing priest. So soon as the groaning of the eastern gate is heard in the court, the priest standing behind the sacrificial lamb, draws forward its windpipe and gullet, and quickly thrusts upward the knife, while his companion catches the flowing blood in a golden bowl. This is precisely the most important part of the sacrifice. If the lamb is killed by a layman, or with an ordinary knife, the sacrifice is still valid. But if the blood is caught in any but a consecrated vessel, or sprinkled by any one not a priest, or not Levitically clean, the sacrifice itself becomes invalid.

In order to sprinkle the blood according to the prescribed ritual, the priest holding the bowl proceeds first to the northeast corner of the altar, and then to its southwest corner, sprinkling both in such a way as to cover its two sides, or as it is described, in the form of the Greek letter Gamma. No blood touches the part above the red line which runs all around the middle of the altar. Above the line must be sprinkled the blood of sacrifices intended to be eaten; below it that of sacrifices wholly consumed by the fire. After going around the altar, the priest pours the rest of the blood at the base of its eastern extremity, on the south side. For there are, at this corner, two orifices; one on the southern, and one on the western side. The remnant of the blood which has been sprinkled in Holy Places is poured out on the western side; what remains of that sprinkled at the altar of holocausts itself, is poured out at the southern side. The blood is drained into chambers below and into a canal, which can be flushed at will, and is thus carried down into the Kedron and the royal gardens.

Meanwhile, the two sacred ministers whom we left in the Holy Place have not been idle. After opening the Temple gate, they turn towards the west, and have before them a hall, twenty cubits wide, forty cubits high and forty cubits long. The only light in the place comes from the few lamps burning on a huge candlestick at its south side, i. e., to the left of the advancing priests. Besides its gilded walls, only four objects within the Holy Place invite our attention. To our right, near the northern wall, we perceive a curiously wrought table; in front of us, near the western wall, another table of similar workmanship, but serving an entirely different purpose, may be seen; behind this table, on the very wall itself, a precious curtain, twenty cubits in length and ten in width, covers the entrance to another apartment; and in the fourth place, there is the candlestick to our left by the light of whose lamps we shall examine these four objects in a cursory way.

The shape and form of the table at our right immediately brings to our mind a description of the table of the shewbread, given in the Book of Exodus. Two cubits in length, a cubit in breadth, and a cubit and a half in height, it has “a golden crown to the border thereof round about.” Like all the sacred furniture, it is placed lengthways in the Temple; the Ark of the Covenant alone, so long as it was in the possession of Israel, stood broadways. The table used in the first Temple was carried off to Babylon with the rest of the Temple furniture. The table of the second Temple too was taken away by Antiochus Epiphanes about 170 B. C., and another was supplied by Judas Maccabæus. According to Josephus, Ptolemy Philadelphus presented a fourth and most magnificent table. But its description does not agree with the representation of the table of shew-bread found on the arch of Titus. Since the latter is supposed to represent that carried away by the Romans on their taking Jerusalem, we infer that the table before us is identical with the one furnished by the Maccabees. It is made of pure gold; its feet are turned out and represent those of animals, and its legs are about their middle connected by a golden plate, surrounded by a golden crown, similar to that encircling the top. Its dishes and spoons, covers and bowls, tubes and loaves, we leave for a future examination.

Turning to the left, our attention is first attracted by the precious veil on the western wall. We have not been deceived in our surmise that it covers the entrance into another apartment. A moment’s reflection suffices to identify the hidden room. From what the sacred writing tells us, it cannot be any other than the Holy of Holies. We even know that the wall is made of wood, and is one cubit in thickness. According to the Rabbis, the high priest, who alone is permitted to enter the Most Holy, goes in by the southern edge of the veil, then walks across the width of the entrance, a space of ten cubits, and enters the Most Holy Place by the northern edge of the second veil, suspended on the other side of the wall. No light reveals the dimensions of that sacred place; Holy Scripture says that it is a square of twenty cubits, and forty cubits high. Not even the large stone, three digits high, in the place where formerly the ark and the mercy-seat stood, can be discerned in the darkness. When the high priest, on the Day of Atonement, enters the place, he follows special directions in order to find the exact location of the stone.

Since the veil is not yet “rent in twain from the top to the bottom,” we must be satisfied with a closer examination of the objects on our side of it. Close to the veil stands a table, one cubit long and broad, and two cubits high. Like the altar of burnt-offerings, it has four horns at the four corners, which are of one piece with the rest of the table. Around its top runs a border or wreath reminding us of the balustrades around the eastern house-tops. From what we know of the Temple service, this must be the altar of incense, called also the golden altar, to distinguish it from the brazen altar, or the altar of burnt-offerings. Ezekiel calls it the altar of wood, and it is further described as the table that is before the Lord. In the tabernacle the altar of incense was made of acacia wood, overlaid with pure gold. The altar in Solomon’s Temple was similar to the former in construction, but was made of cedar wood, covered with plates of gold. Antiochus Epiphanes removed this altar from the second Temple, but Judas Maccabaeus restored it, together with the other sacred furniture. Though on the arch of Titus no altar of incense appears, we know for certain that it existed in the Herodian Temple, and was richly overlaid with gold. The fact that sweet incense is burnt upon it twice a day, and that the blood of atonement is sprinkled on it, gives it a special importance. No altar is mentioned as existing in the heavenly Jerusalem.

Simultaneously with the slaying of the lamb, the priest destined to clean the altar of incense, takes with his hands the burnt coals and ashes from its “top” or “roof,” a special contrivance for burning the incense. Whatever cannot be removed with the hand, is swept away with a brush especially adapted to that purpose. So soon as both coals and ashes are deposited in the “Teni,” the priest places it on the floor of the Holy Place, and withdraws from the sanctuary.

Meanwhile, the second priest who entered the Holy with us, has gone to the southern side of the sanctuary, and we see him now busy near the candlestick. The latter is placed southeast of the altar of incense, in a position symmetrical to that of the table of shewbread on the northeast side. Whether the candlestick be of beaten work or moulded, we cannot now determine. Josephus tells us that from its golden base, two cubits in height, a main shaft or reed springs and spreads into as many branches as there are planets, including the sun. Near its foot is a golden almond-shaped dish; a little higher up is a golden knop, and above it a flower, also of gold. Then there are two branches, one on each side, bowed, and reaching as high as the main shaft. Three golden cups are placed on each of them, in scollop-shell fashion. Above these is again a golden knop, a golden flower, and the socket. On the main shaft, above the two branches just described, is a golden boss, and over it two more branches extend, one on either side. Above these two is another golden boss, and two more branches, similar to the former. Higher up, on the main shaft, are three golden scollop-cups, a knop and a flower: all is so arranged that the heads of the various branches are all on the same level. The weight of the whole is one hundred and twenty-five pounds, and its value exclusive of the workmanship, amounts to about $25,380. The work is eighteen palms high.

The branches are not grouped around the main shaft, but placed parallel to one another in a single row. In the desert, when the candlestick had to be carried about, it was covered with a cloth of blue, and put with its appendages into badger-skin bags, which were supported on a bar. In Solomon’s Temple there were ten candlesticks of this description, five on the right and five on the left of the altar of incense. In fact, they formed a sort of railing before the veil, and were connected by golden chains, under which on the Day of Atonement the high priest crept. They were taken to Babylon with the rest of the sacred furniture. The second Temple, like the Tabernacle, had only one candlestick, the one we see before us. For, at our period, Titus has not yet carried the spoils of the desecrated Temple to Rome, nor has Genseric taken the Jewish curiosities from Rome to Carthage, and much less has the victorious Belisarius as yet regained the golden candlestick and brought it back to Constantinople in order to deposit it in the Christian church at Jerusalem.

While we have examined the candlestick, the ministering priest has ascended its three stone steps. Since it is placed obliquely, so that its lamps look east and south, the large middle lamp is called the “western lamp.” This name is well deserved, because the lamp in question is inclined westwards, to the Most Holy Place, while all the others are inclined towards the centre. The fact that not all the lamps are lit now, does not prove that they have not been burning during the night. In point of fact, all the seven lamps are lit in the evening to burn throughout the night, and only two are kept burning through the day. Rabbinic Doctors tell us that all the other lamps often go out during the night; but the western or central lamp is always found burning in the morning.

When the blood of the lamb is being sprinkled on the altar of burnt-offering the priest, with golden snuffers, trims the lamps that are still burning and pours in a new supply of oil. Then he removes the wicks and the old oil of the lamps which have been extinguished, supplies fresh wicks, pours in half a log of the purest olive oil, and relights them from one of the other lamps. The central lamp must, however, be relit from the fire on the altar of burnt-offering. Only five of the lamps are trimmed at this point of time; the other two are reserved for a later part of the service. The old oil and the remnants of the wicks are deposited in different compartments in the cup-shaped Cuz. It is from soiled priestly tunics, unfit for Temple wear as soon as soiled, that the wicks are usually made. The lamps trimmed, the priest leaves his Cuz on the second step of the ascent to the candlestick, and withdraws from the sanctuary for the present.

While these two ministers perform their service in the Holy Place and the sacrificing priests are busy in the court, the other ministers on duty are gathered in the Hall of Polished Stones and wait for the next casting of the lot. Though Obed has been destined to carry the victim’s two sides to the altar, he utilizes the few moments he has to spare before his services will be needed. The younger members of the priesthood stand about in groups, discussing the number of sacrifices to be offered to-day, the prospects of the approaching Feast of Tabernacles, or the probable results of the next lot. Several of the older men stand alone, apparently absorbed in earnest prayer or devout meditation. Notwithstanding Zachary’s air of devotion, Obed approaches and compliments him on the restoration of his house and family to wealth and rank. For a moment, the venerable old priest finds no answer. For many years past he has not received such expressions of sympathy from any one, much less from Abiathar’s friends.

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,” he answers at length, “for he hath visited and wrought redemption for my house.”

“The Lord killeth and maketh alive,” Obed replies, in the most devout tone of voice his long-practised hypocrisy can command; “the Lord maketh poor and maketh rich; he bringeth low, he also lifteth up. His ways are truly wonderful above our comprehension. Who could have expected that the glory of thy family should be exalted by the man who, a few years ago, blotted out its very name from the records of our nation?”

“Thy speech is a riddle to me, Obed,” says Zachary, who has now directed his whole attention to his interlocutor. “Thou must know that Samuel’s leave of return is not due to any change in Herod’s disposition towards my family; Matthian has exerted all the weight of his authority with the Herodians to obtain the desired permission.”

“Herod’s favors are not niggardly,” Obed explains; “he is as generous in friendship as he is cruel in enmity. Salome has told me that her royal brother is about to marry one of his nieces to Samuel. Thus thy house shall be allied to the king’s in kinship as well as in loyalty.”

“I hate the congregation of evil-doers, and will not sit with the wicked,” exclaims Zachary; “I will wash my hands in innocency; so will I compass thine altar, O Lord!”

“All honor to thy fidelity and uprightness,” continues Obed; “but what evil can there be in Samuel’s union with a princess of the Herodian family?”

“Art thou a stranger in Israel, Obed?” gasps Zachary. “Knowest thou not that by such a marriage Samuel and his offspring would be forever excluded from the altar? The past misfortunes of my family are as nothing, when compared with this reputed exaltation.”

“Zachary,” says Obed, “the time has passed when the priestly office was the most desirable boon in our nation. Educated in Babylon, as he is, Samuel may wisely prefer a position at court, or in the army, to our despised Temple service.”

“Samuel, O Lord, loves the habitation of thy house, and the place where thy glory dwelleth. Gather not his soul with sinners, nor his life with men of blood. Remember, O Lord, that he has left untold riches and innumerable friends in Babylon, to stand in thy Holy Place and minister in the congregation of thy faithful!”

“Art thou a stranger in Israel?” retaliates Obed; “knowest thou not that Samuel’s family registers have been destroyed? For this very reason does Herod wish to unite him to the royal house, seeing that his restoration to any priestly office is beyond his power.

“The deceit of the wicked has failed,” calmly replies Zachary; “Samuel’s genealogical record, sufficient to secure him a place at the altar of the Lord, is safe in my keeping.”

Obed can hardly conceal the smile of satisfaction which for the moment lights up his countenance; two of the priests who are standing in the door-way of Gazith give a sign to Obed that his services are needed in the court, and Zachary is overjoyed to be relieved from the importunity of his tempter.

Outside, the slain victim is meanwhile hung by its left hind leg on one of the hooks, is flayed and divided up according to the Jewish ritual. The flaying extends first down to the breast; then the head is cut off and handed to the priest destined to carry it to the altar. Next, the flaying is completed, the heart is split so as to let out all the blood, and the forelegs are cut off and handed to the attendant priest. After this, the right hind leg is separated and given to the priest who holds the head. In the next place, the belly of the lamb is laid open, the fat removed and placed on the head, or rather on that place of the neck where the deadly knife has pierced. For the head must be held in such a way that the part referred to is uppermost. After this, the intestines are handed to the priest destined to carry them to the altar; the latter proceeds to the building near by, where he washes his part of the victim at least twice. A third ablution is performed on one of the marble tables which stand between the columns. Then the lungs are separated from the liver, and the liver from the reticule. The breast is cut off and given to a priest. Next, the priest goes to the right side of the victim and cuts off the part between the second front and the second hind rib without touching, however, the spinal column. The side, together with the liver, is handed to the attending priest. Then the neck including the two front ribs is cut off and, together with the wind-pipe, the heart and the lungs, is handed to the priest who holds the breast. Again the priest approaches the victim, and its left side including the second hind rib and the corresponding portion of the spinal column is cut off, and with the spleen adhering to it, handed to him who holds the right side. Then the hind part of the lamb is separated from its left hind leg, having the tail, the kidneys and the reticule adhering to it, and the whole is given to that attendant priest who has till now received nothing to carry. Finally, the remaining hind leg is removed from the hook and handed to the same sacred minister.

The six priests who hold the various parts walk in procession towards the altar. The first carries the head in his right hand, holding it by the horns, the nostrils turned towards his arm and the fat resting on top; in his left hand he carries the right hind leg, turning its thin end outward. The second carries the right forefoot in his right hand, and the left forefoot in his left. The lower ends are again turned outward. The third in line carries in his right hand the hinder part of the lamb with the adhering portions, holding the tail between his fingers; in his left he holds the left hind leg, the lower end turned outward. The fourth priest holds in his right hand the victim’s breast, in his left he carries the neck and its adhering parts, holding the whole by the two front ribs. The fifth in line carries the two sides, the right in his right, the left in his left, the flayed side being turned uppermost. The sixth holds a flat dish in his hands with the entrails of the victim upon it, its trotters resting on the entrails. After these six follow three more priests: the first carries the offering of fine flour, the second the baked meat offering of the high priest, the third the wine for the drink-offering.

The procession of the nine priests winds its way slowly and solemnly past the altar of burnt-offering, to the western corner of its ascent, and nearly halfway up the altar. Here the parts of the victim are deposited to be salted. For every sacrifice must be salted with salt, except the blood of the sprinkling, the wood for the fire, and the drink-offering. Indeed, the whole slope of the altar’s ascent is covered with salt; this precaution is considered necessary to prevent the barefooted priests from slipping when going up the incline. Since there is a huge heap of salt kept in the building at the northeastern corner of the court, not far from the place of salting, the latter performance is soon finished. All the ministers then proceed to the Hall of Polished Stones, in the southeastern corner of the court, and there join their companions who till now have not been favored with any special sacrificial duty.

Before we follow them, we may be permitted to cast a glance at the sacrificing priest who carries away the skin of the victim to the building in the centre of the northern wall of the court. There it is salted and, together with the skins of the other victims, kept till the eve of the Sabbath, when all the sacrificial skins of the week’s burnt, sin, and trespass-offerings are distributed among the course of priests that has been on duty during the week.








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