This will conclude our study of the metzora and their cleansing ceremony in the Temple. We will pick up in the Mishnah, tractate Negaim 14.6.
14.6…The cedar wood should be one cubit (called an “amah” and there were three cubit sizes used in the Temple. The Royal cubit used in the 500 x 500 cubit square Temple Mount is 20.67 inches. The Court of the Women used a 5 handbreadth cubit of 19.2 inches. The Azarah used a 6 handbreadth cubit of 23.04 inches, based on Ezek 40.5 and Kelim 17.10) in length, and its thickness the quarter of the thickness of a leg of a bed-one leg divided into two, and these two into four. The hyssop should not be Greek hyssop or stibium hyssop or Roman hyssop or wild hyssop or any kind of hyssop to which a special name is given (or a hyphenated name).
14.7…On the eighth day (There are many allusions here. The number “eight” is the number of new beginnings. The eighth day of Sukkot is Shemini Atzeret; there were eight on the Ark of Noah; the eighth day for circumcision; a child is one year old on the eighth day after birth; the eighth day in eschatology is the Olam Haba. These “parallels” are a diving board for everything else and can also be called patterns. The Torah is not just linear as we have said, but it is perpendicular and as high as heaven as as deep as the sea) he brought three beasts: a sin offering (chata’at), a guilt offering (asham) and a whole offering (olah). If he was poor, he brought a sin offering of a bird and a whole offering of a bird.
14.8…He came to the guilt offering, put his two hands thereon (semicha); and it was slaughtered. Two priests received the blood, the one in a vessel and the other in his hand. He that received it in a vessel went and tossed (threw) it against the front of the Altar. He that received it in his hand came to the leper (metzora). And the metzora had immersed himself in the Chamber of Lepers (in the NW corner of the Court of the Women. There was a stairway that led down to a chamber with a mikvah), and he came and stood at the Nicanor Gate (They could not enter the Azaarah, but it had to be done in the Azarah, before the “Ohel Moed” or Tent of Meeting. The tent of meeting was the Heichal. This meant that it has to have the kedusha of the Ohel Moed. So, there is a problem: the metzora has to be in the Azarah (kedusha) but can’t go into the Azarah. So, here is the solution. A building that opened to the Azarah had the kedusha of the Azarah. The Nicanor Gate was before the Ohel Moed, or the Heichal, of the Sanctuary. This gate had a wicket (small door) to the north and south of the gate. This was an exception. It opened to the the Court of the Women so it had that kedusha. As a result, the metzora could stand there and stick his head in through the wicket, but still not be in the Azarah. This concept also applied to the Sotah (woman suspected of adultery because this is where she stood, and the Yal’dot, a woman who came for a purification ceremony after giving birth to a child. Miriam stood here for her Sotah (possibly) and 40 days after Yeshua was born). R. Judah says: He did not need to immerse himself (this was his opinion, but the halachah was they immersed).
14.9…He put his head inside the Temple Court (Azarah) and the priest put the blood on the tip (the middle ridge) of his ear (to hear the Torah), then he put in his hand, and the priest put the blood on the thumb of his hand (to do the Torah); then he put in his foot and he put the blood on the great toe of his foot (to walk the Torah). R. Judah says: He put them in all three together. If he had not a thumb on his hand or a great toe on his foot, or a right ear, he could never have purification. R. Eliezer says (he was a kohen who wrote Middot, Tamid and Yoma of the Mishnah. He was a leading authority on the Temple and he served in it): The blood may be put in the place where they were. R. Simeon says: If it was put on the left side, he has fulfilled his obligation.
14.10…The priest took of the log (.65 pint) of oil and poured it into his fellow’s hand; but if he poured it into his own hand that suffices. He dipped his finger in the oil and sprinkled it seven times toward the Holy of Holies, dipping anew for every sprinkling. He came to the metzora; in the places where he put the blood there also he put the oil, for it is written, “Upon the place of the blood of the guilt offering; and the rest of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall put upon the head of him that is to be cleansed to make atonement”(Lev 14.28-29). If he put it thereon it made atonement; if he did not put it thereon it did not make atonement. So R. Akiba. R. Johanan b. Nuri says: These are but the residue of the ordinance: whether he put it thereon or did not put it thereon, it has made atonement, yet to him it is reckoned as though he had not made atonement. If the log was found to lack aught before it was poured out, its measure may be filled up; but after it was poured out, other oil must be brought anew. So. R. Akiba. R.Simeon says: If the log was found to lack aught before it was put on the members of the metzora its measure may be filled up; but after it was put thereon, other oil must be brought anew.
This ceremony ends our series on the Temple ceremonies. This was not an exhaustive study on the subject and there are so many more things to go over, but this should give you a good idea of what the Temple was like day to day, hour by hour, on the festivals and just daily worship. It should also give you the impression that there is so much more to the Temple than just a building. Many have the impression that the Temple ceremonies were man-made, but they were given by God (1 Chr 28.11-19; Ezek 43.10-12; Rom 9.1-5). The Temple was a busy place and this is what true worship of God was. It was called the Beit Ha Mikdash, or “House of Kedusha” because the Lord wanted to teach this concept to the world. At a later time, we will get into these ceremonies at a deeper level, but research can be done on your own on these things as well.
Continuing on with our Temple 201 study, we will begin with a study on Women in the Temple.