The Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) service held within the Temple is spelled out in detail in the Mishnah tractate “Yoma.” The entire service must be conducted by the High Priest (Kohen ha Gadol) alone. He drilled for one week right before Yom Kippur to make sure he did everything correctly. To understand the “workings” of the Temple the tractate Yoma is essential because it not only combines the Daily Tamid service but also the Yom Kippur service itself.
There are several locations in the Temple that are associated with the Yom Kippur service. First, we have the Beit Avitinas. This building is on the southeast corner of the Azarah and this building housed the Liskat ha Gazit (Chamber of Hewn Stone) where the Sanhedrin met, the Lishkat ha Etz (Chamber of the Wood) and the housing for the Kohen ha Gadol when he stayed in the Temple. The Beit Kior (House of the Laver), the Beit Osei Chavitim (House of the Pancake Offering) and the chambers for the singers were there, plus other things.
Another location is the Beit ha Nitzotz is in the northeast corner of the Azarah. In this building there were chambers that held salt for the korbanot, a room for processing hides of the korbanot, a washing chamber for rinsing the hides and a room where a flame was kept in case the fire on the Altar went out. There was a special chamber known as the Beit Even (House of Stone) where the kohen who was going to slaughter the Parah Adamah stayed for a week before the ceremony to insure that he stayed in a state of ritual purity.
The next location is the Ulam, or porch, of the Sanctuary building. Then we have the Mizbeach (Altar) and the overall Azarah. There is another good source for the Yom Kippur ceremony in the 1992 edition of “The Gates” by Hatikva Ministries, in the article “The Coming of the Messiah on Yom Kippur.” We will go to Yoma in this study for the service. The word Yoma means “the Day” and it refers to Yom Kippur. We will be quoting the Danby Mishnah and comments will be in parenthesis. The Yom Kippur service:
1.1…Seven days before the Day of Atonement the High Priest was taken apart from his own house unto the Counsellors’ Chamber (His chamber in the Beit Avitinas. It is called the “Palhedrin” or “Parhedrin” chamber in the Tosefta, and these words mean “politicians.” This because the position of High Priest was bought and sold so it became political. This place was also called the “Lishkat ha Etz” or Chamber of Wood because the walls were cedar. The position of High Priest was very corrupt because of two main characters, Chanan, also known as Annas, and Boethus) and another priest was made ready in his stead lest aught should befall him to render him ineligible (he died or was made ritually unclean). R. Judah says: Also another wife was made ready for him lest his own wife should die, for it is written “He shall make atonement for himself and for his house-;’ ‘his house’-that is his wife (Lev 16.6). They said to him; ‘If so there would be no end to the matter.’ (so, no wife
1.2…Throughout the seven days he must toss the blood and burn the incense and trim the lamps and offer the head and the hind leg (They drilled him for all seven days because on Yom Kippur he would do it all); but on other days he offers only if he is minded to offer (in other words, the High Priest can offer whatever he wants on other days); for the High Priest has first place in offering a portion of the animal offerings and has first place in taking a portion.
1.3…They delivered unto him elders from among the elders of the Court (Sanhedrin) and they read before him out of the prescribed rite for the day; and they said to him, ‘My Lord High Priest, do thou thyself recite with thine own mouth, lest thou hast forgotten or lest thou hast never learnt.’ On the eve of the Day of Atonement in the morning they make him stand at the eastern gate (the northern wicket of the Nicanor Gate) and pass before him oxen, rams, sheep, that he may gain knowledge (so the animals can become familiar with him) and become versed in the Temple service.
1.4…Throughout the seven days they did not withhold food and drink from him; but on the eve of the Day of Atonement toward nightfall they did not suffer him to meat much, since food induces sleep.
15…The elders of the Court (Sanhedrin) delivered him to the elders of the priesthood (The Beit Av of each of the 24 courses) and they brought him up to the upper chamber of the House of Avtinas (it was three stories high, 200 feet long and 100 feet wide). They adjured him and took their leave and went away having said to him, ‘My lord High Priest, we are delegates of the Court, and thou art our delegate ands the delegate of the Court. We adjure thee by him that made his name dwell in this house that thou change naught of what we have said to thee.’ He turned aside and wept and they turned aside and wept (This was done because there had been a problem earlier, at the time of Alexander Janneaus (103-76 BC), a Sadducee. He poured out the water at his feet at the Water Pouring ceremony at Sukkot to show contempt for the Pharisee’s because the Sadducee’s did not believe that should be part of the service).
1.6…If he (the High Priest) was a sage he used to expound the Scriptures, and if not the disciples of the Sages used to expound before him. If he was versed in reading the Scriptures he read, and if not they read before him (they did this to get his “head” on right for the service. This is called “kavanah” and it means to have the right attitude). And from what did they read before him? Out of Job and Ezra and Chronicles. Zechariah b. Kabutal says: Many times I read before him out of Daniel.
1.7…If he sought to slumber, young members of the priesthood would snap their middle finger before him and say to him, ‘My lord High Priest, get up and drive away sleep this once by walking on the cold pavement.’ And they used to divert him until the time of slaughtering (the morning Tamid) drew near.
1.8…Everyday they used to remove the ashes from off the Altar at cockcrowing (he is called the “Keriat Gever” and this is the “rooster” called the “gever.” He issued a three-fold cry for the priests to go to the 12 steps, the Levites to the Duchan and the Ma’Amad to go to the Court of Israel. This is what Peter heard at the trial of Yeshua), or near to it, either before it or after it; but on the Day of Atonement they did so at midnight, and on the Feast (the Shelosh Regalim of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot) at first watch. And before the time of cockcrow drew near the Temple Court was filled with Israelites.
2.1…Beforetime whosoever was minded to clear the Altar of ashes did so. If they were many they used to run and mount the Altar ramp and he that came first within four cubits secured the task. If two were equal the officer (memunay) said to them, ‘Raise a finger.’ And how many did they stretch out? One or two, but they did not stretch out the thumb in the Temple (to cast lots).
2.2…It once happened that two were equal and they ran and mounted the Altar ramp; and one of them pushed his fellow so that he fell (off the ramp) and his leg was broken; and when the Court saw that they incurred danger they ordained that they should not clear the Altar save by lot. There were four lots; and this is the first lot.
2.3…The second lot was to determine who should slaughter, who should toss the blood, who should take away the ashes from the Inner Altar (Incense), and who should take away the ashes from the Candlestick (Menorah) and who should take up to the Altar ramp the members of the Whole-offering (Tamid)-the head and right hind leg, the two fore-legs, the rump and the left hind leg, the breast and the neck, and the two flanks, the inwards; also who should take up the fine flour and the Baken Cakes and the wine. Thus thirteen priests secured a task. Ben Azzai said before R. Akiba in the name of R. Joshua; It was offered in the order in which it was walked.
2.4…At the third lot the officer used to say, ‘Fresh priests come and draw lots for the incense!’ (This could be done only one time in the life of a priest, so only those that had never done it before came. This is what happened with Zechariah in Luke 1). And at the fourth lot, ‘Fresh priests and old, who will take up the members from the Altar ramp to the Altar (this lot was for anyone, whether they had done this before or not).’
2.5…The Daily Whole-offering (Tamid) was offered by nine, ten, eleven or twelve priests, never more and never less. Thus it was itself offered by nine; at the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) one held in his hand the flagon of water (for the water pouring ceremony)-and so they were ten; in the afternoon it was offered by eleven, the daily Whole offering itself by nine, while two held in their hands the two pieces of wood; on the Sabbath it was offered by eleven, itself by nine while two held in their hands the two dishes of frankincense for the Showbread (Lechem ha Pannim), and on the Sabbath that fell during the Feast of Tabernacles another held in his hand the flagon of water (for the water-pouring ceremony).
2.6…A ram was offered by eleven: the flesh by five, and the inwards, the fine flour and the wine by two each.
2.7…A bullock was offered by twenty-four: the head and the right hind leg-the head by one and the hind leg by two; the rump and the left hind leg-the rump by two and the hind leg by two; the breast and the neck-the breast by one and the neck by three; the two fore legs by two; the two flanks by two; the inwards, the fine flour, and the wine by three each. This applies to offerings of the congregation; but in private offerings one priest that is minded to offer may offer all. For the flaying and the dismembering of both the offerings of the congregation and the private offerings like rules apply (this is called “rightly dividing” and Paul uses this term from the sacrificial service of the Temple to tell us that we are to be just as diligent in “rightly dividing” the Word of God and properly being able to interpret it correctly).
In Part 27, we will pick up here with the Yom Kippur service and begin in Yoma 3.1.