Temple 101-The Mikdash (Sanctuary)

The Sanctuary is called “the Mikdash” and by the time King Herod finished remodeling, this building was quite a structure. The best thing to do is get a Temple floor-plan to see where we will be talking about. The sanctuary was 120 ft x 134 ft and divided into two chambers. The Ulam is the porch to the building and there was a huge gate with folding doors that led into what was called “the Heichal” or Holy place. These doors were on the north and south lintels, and met in the middle when closed. The doorway was about 120 feet high and 43 feet wide. Just outside the door when you entered there was a silver table to the right and on the left there was a gold table. The bread for the Shulchan Lechem ha Pannim was changed once a week. When you came in with the new bread it was placed on the silver table. The old bread was placed on the gold table. The teaching was that Jacob “ascended” to God so the old bread has already ascended to God in a sense and it cannot go “backward” in sanctity by being taken from a gold table and put on a silver one, so when it was removed to be eaten by the priests it was put on a gold table. At the door to the Heichal there was a veil that was always closed, giving the priests privacy as they ministered (except for certain occasions) and it had four colors on it. They were blue (heaven), linen (earth), scarlet (fire) and purple (sea). It had “all that was mystical in the heavens embroidered on it” (Josephus, Wars 5.5.4) and this was the veil that was torn when Yeshua died (Diatessaron of Tatian 52.2). Nobody knows for sure where the crucifixion took place, but wherever it was you could see this veil being torn. It is referred to in the gospels that those standing on Golgotha saw the Temple veil rip at the exact moment he died (Matt 27.54; Mark 15.38-39; Luke 23.45-47) and that is why the centurion and the other soldiers were frightened and this caused them to believe with the centurion saying “Truly this was the Son of God!” This is called the first veil, and the veils (there were two) at the Holy of Holies were called the second veil (Heb 9.3). Also, the crucifixion fulfilled the picture given to us in the Red Heifer ceremony (Num 19.1-10). Just as the one who burns the heifer does so in the sight of the Sagan (assistant high priest) and remained outside of the camp, so did Caiaphas (who really answered to Annas) remain outside the gate until Yeshua was dead (Num 19.3-5). The Red Heifer could not be sacrificed with the veil and the doors closed. The priest who sprinkled the blood had to see the entrance door to the Temple (Mishnah, Middot 2.9). So, the veil must be open for the priest to see the door to the Heichal (Num 19.4). The Lord ripped the veil at the Heichal so the doors could be seen, thus fulfilling the commandment concerning the Red Heifer. This veil was about four inches thick and about 69 feet high and 34 feet wide. There is a mystical expression used in the Scriptures which is called “the heavens were opened” (Acts 7.56; Rev 4.1) and it is a reference to this veil at the gate of the Heichal. This veil was opened at certain times (Josephus, Wars, Book 5; when a red heifer was slain) as was the veils (plural) to the Debir (On the three pilgrim festivals; 9th of Av for instance). What does it mean? It meant that the deeper things of God were open to you and they could be understood. The people could see into the Holy of Holies on these occasions. Inside the Heichal was the Menorah (Golden Lampstand), the Lechem ha Pannim (bread of the Faces)and the Mitzbeach shell Zahav (Altar of Incense). The Menorah had seven branches and this recalled the seven planets as well as the other things already discussed. They knew there were more planets but God said that they were to be for “signs” (Gen 1.14) which implied that you had to be able to see them, so they did not concern themselves with what they couldn’t see. John wrote the Book of Revelation and was certainly a priest (Alfred Edersheim “Jesus the Messiah) and when he wrote in Rev 1.20 about the “seven stars and the Golden Lampstand” he certainly knew about the Temple. These seven stars have a “sowd” (deep) meaning and not only signified the congregations in John’s mind. The Lechem ha Pannim had 12 huge loaves of bread on them. Do some research on just how big these loaves were and you will be surprised. These loaves also signified the heavens also. God’s plan for the ages can be seen in the stars and were given for signs and seasons. The 12 tribes were seen as 12 stars (Gen 37.9; Rev 12.1). This is not astrology, but astronomy reveals the things of God (Gen 1.14). There have been many books written on this subject. The Mitzbeach shell Zahav had incense (ketoret) used on it made by the Avtinas family. The elements for it was taken from the earth, the sea and the desert. The exact formula for the incense has been lost. There is some evidence that Caiaphas may have been part of this family. The Holy of Holies is also called the “Devir” (speaking) because the Lord spoke from there. This word is related to the word “davar” which means “word” in Hebrew (John 1.1). Nobody could enter into the Debir except the High Priest (Kohen ha Gadol) on Yom Kippur, and he did it four times. There were two veils that covered the entry into the Debir. The eastern veil had an opening on the south side and the western veil had an opening on the north side. The space between the veils was called the “amah traksin” and the High Priest would walk through this to enter the Debir. In Herod’s Temple, the Ark was missing so there was only the foundation stone it sat on. It was three fingers high and called the “even shetiyah.” You can see the area carved out by Solomon where the Ark once stood (1 Kings 8.6,21; 2 Chr 5.7; Biblical Archeology Review, Jan/Feb, 1996). It was seen as the foundation stone of the earth. The Mikdash (sanctuary) had 38 cells or rooms around it. There were 15 on the north, 15 on the south and 8 on the west. Josephus (Jewish Wars 5.5.5) writes about these cells when he says “Around the side of the lower part of the Sanctuary were numerous chambers in three stories communicating with one another by entrances either side of the gateway. The upper part of the building has no such chambers and proportionately narrower.” They were used for storage of ritual vessels on various festivals and for other storage needs. They had beams on a one cubit ledge for support. As the cells went up they got bigger. The walls were very thick because Herod liked to outdo everyone and it insulated the building. Limestone layers were put in place at one time. The Mikdash took nearly 2 years to build, laying everything where it needed to be because you could not use tools. This building had an attic and the “mesibah” were steps or a passageway to the roof. The attic had holes in the ceiling over the Holy of Holies because it was cleaned every 7 years. A priest could be let down in a box with an opening towards the wall so it could be cleaned. This attic alluded to in 2 Kings 11 in a great picture of the Messiah. In Judah, the mother of the King was the “Queen Mother” and when Ahaziah died, his mother Athaliah took over and began killing the royal offspring. Jehosheba, the sister of Azahiah took young Joash and hid him in the house of the Lord (11.3) for six years. This was the attic of the Temple sanctuary. In the seventh year he was revealed and anointed King (11.4-16) and Athaliah was slain. It is a picture of Yeshua being hidden “in the attic” (heaven) and returning on Yom Teruah to be anointed King. This attic had a veil that was directly over the veil below separating the Heichal from the Debir. The Mikdash door had 200 pomegranates on it and a golden vine with leave clusters the size of a man over it. The Heichal (Holy Place) was overlaid with gold with palm trees (the righteous-Psalm 92.12) and cherubim. On the roof of the Mikdash, around the edge, were spikes to keep the birds from soiling the walls. The purpose of the Temple was for the Lord to take pleasure in it (Hag 1.2-11). He made the Temple for us to see him so he can instruct us (Ezek 43.10-12). When Messiah comes, the house of the Lord will be established again and the people will come to be taught his ways (Mic 4.1-2; Isa 2.1-3). We are missing that today but it is important enough that it will be reestablished by the Lord (Ezek chapters 40 through 48).

Posted in Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, The Tanach, The Temple, Understanding the New Testament

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