We left off in Part 3 talking about the 12 loaves on the Shulchan Lechem Ha Pannim, or the Table of the Bread of the Faces. We discussed how these 12 loaves were an allusion to the 12 heavenly signs (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 5, Chapter 5, Paragraph 5) known as the “zodiac” which comes from a Hebrew root word “Sodi” meaning “way” (“Witness of the Stars” by E.W. Bullinger, p.15). Again, this has nothing to do with the occultic practices that have been derived from these signs, but they were an unwritten witness in the heavens about the plan of redemption, the Messiah, the virgin birth and the victory of Ha Satan well before the Scriptures were written. What was done later is a perversion of the witness God gave of his plan in creation (Rom 1.19-20) The Altar of Incense is called the Mizbe’ach Shell Zahav, or the Golden Altar. The incense used was a composition of 13 different sweet smelling spices taken from the sea, desert and the earth and this signified that “God is the possessor of all things that are both in the uninhabitable and habitable parts of the earth, and that they are all to be dedicated to his use” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 5, Chapter 5, Paragraph 5). This incense was made by the Avtinas family. The recipe was lost because it is possible the family was killed or taken into captivity. It is thought that the family of Caiaphas was related somehow to Avtinas, or they made an incense that was sold to the public because they found evidence that they had a place to make the incense in what is called the “Burnt House” in the priestly area of Jerusalem in the first century. In this house, a weight was found with the name of Caiaphas on it, and next to this Burnt House is a larger house which meets the biblical qualifications for being the house of Caiaphas.
Now, moving into the Kodesh Ha Kodshim, we know that the Ark of the Covenant was there in the First Temple, but it wasn’t in the Second Temple. Nobody was allowed to go into this chamber except the High Priest on Yom Kippur. In the Second Temple, the only thinh that was inside the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim was a rock, part of the bedrock of Mount Moriah. This rock is three fingers high and called the “Even Ha Shetiyah” and it was upon this stone that the Ark rested and the High Priest made incense offerings. When looking at this rock, you will be able to see a rectangular area that has been carved out of the rock that fits the dimensions of the Ark. When you superimpose the walls of the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim (Biblical Archeology Review, Jan/Feb 1996) around this carved area made by Solomon (1 Kings 8.6, 21) it would be exactly in the middle of the Kodesh ha Kodeshim. There is a tradition that says Adam built the first altar there and it is also the place where Abraham built his altar to sacrifice Isaac. In addition, when Jacob fled from Esau, he took a stone and anointed it there and called the place “Beit El” or “House of God.”
In the attic over the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim there were “holes” in the floor called “Lulin” where kohanim were lowered down into the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim every 7 years to do cleaning on the walls. The entire wall was of beaten gold that was given as contributions to the Temple. King Joash (2 Kings 11.3) was hidden in this attic behind two veils for 6 years. This chapter has a tremendous picture of the Messiah.
In the Sanctuary building there were 38 cells in three stories, each cell being a room. They only come up 40 cubits, but not as high as the attic, only the Sanctuary. There were 15 cells to the south, 15 to the north and 8 to the west. In the Mishnah, Middot 4.3-5 it says, “And there were 38 cells there, 15 to the north, fifteen to the south and 8 to the west. Those to the north and those to the south were built five over five, and five over them. And to every one were three entrances, one into the cell on the right, and one into the cell on the left, and one into the cell above it. And in the one at the northeastern corner were five entrances: one cell into the cell on the right, and one into the cell above it, and one into the passage-way, and one into the wicket, and one into the Sanctuary. The lower story of cells was five cubits (8.6 feet) wide and the floor above it six (10.3 feet); the middle one was six cubits (10.3 feet) and the floor above it seven (12 feet); and the upper one was seven (12 feet), as it is written, ‘The nethermost story was five cubits broad and the middle was six cubits broad and the third was seven cubits broad (1 Kings 6.6).’ And a passageway went up from the northeastern corner to the northwestern corner, whereby they could go up to the roofs of the cells. The priest went up by the passageway facing westward, and went the whole length of the northern side until he reached the west; after he had reached the west he turned his face to the south, and went the whole length of the western side until he reached the south, after he reached the south he turned his face to the east and went along the southern side until he reached the entrance to the upper chamber (over the Sanctuary and the Holy of Holies), for the entrance to the upper chamber opened towards the south. And at the entrance to the upper chamber were two cedar posts by which they could mount to the roof of the upper chamber. And in the upper chamber the ends of flagstones marked where the division between the Sanctuary and the Holy of Holies. And in the upper story were openings into the Holy of Holies by which they used to let down the workmen in boxes, so that they should not feast their eyes on the Holy of Holies.”
We are going to talk about the northeast side in a little more detail. You would go up the 12 steps of the Ulam (Porch) and there is a wicket. Each cell had three entrances. Each cell has a hole in the ceiling and there was a ladder in each cell to climb up into the cell above, but the northeast cell has a wicket to go in, a door to the right to go to the Mesibah, a stairway. There was a door to the left that takes you to the Heichal (Ha Kodesh, also called the Ohel Moed, Tent of Meeting) and a door to the next cell, plus a hole in the ceiling. You could also get into the Heichal by going through a 20 cubit high (34.45 feet) doorway and turn left into the Heichal.
The ceremony of opening the Great Gate (the paneled doors) to the Heichal will have some kohanim going through the wicket to theses inside doors, while others are on the outside.
On the first floor of cells (there are three floors of cells) you are on the same level as the Sanctuary. You have come up six cubits (10.3 feet) from the Azarah. There was a six cubit high (10.3 feet) basement running under the entire length of the Temple building. Also in Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 5, Chapter 5, Paragraph 5 it says, “Now about the sides of the lower part of the Temple there were little houses (cells) with passages out of one another; there were a great many of them, and they were three stories high; there were also entrances on each side into them from the gate of the Temple. But the superior part of the Temple had no such little houses (cells) any farther, because the Temple was there narrower, and forty cubits higher (68.9 feet), and of a smaller body than the lower parts of it. Thus we collect that the whole height including the sixty cubits (103.3 feet) from the floor, mounted to a hundred cubits (172.2 feet).”
Putting the cells around a Temple building has been done since ancient times. Temples have been found with this configuration and not just limited to the Temple in Jerusalem. It is thought that these cells were used for storing ritual vessels that pertained to the Temple building itself and used only in that building, like the censor and stand that held the two Mizrakim on Yom Kippur, for instance. The cells got bigger as they go up the three stories (five cubits on the first floor, six cubits on the second floor and seven cubits on the third floor). We mentioned the Mesibah earlier and this was a stairway to the roof on the north side of the Sanctuary. The Beit Horadat Ha Mayim is a water drain or “trough” on the south side. Each are three cubits wide (5.16 feet) and they go up only as high as the cells. Josephus mentions the ascent in Solomon’s Temple, but not in the Second Temple but it is believed to be the same setting as Solomon’s.
The length of the Mesibah was sixty-six cubits (113.7 feet) long and forty-five cubits high (77.5 feet). The Mesibah stairway goes up the first level of cells, then there is a landing, then it goes up the second level of cells with a landing and then the third level of cells to the roof. Each step of the Mesibah was one-half cubit (10.3 inches) and this is found in Middot 2.3. The “tread” (the part that is stepped on) was also one-half cubit (10.3 inches). Each landing was ten and a half cubits (nearly 18 feet). The direction that the Beit Ha Horadat Ha Mayim, or the water trough ran (east to west or west to east) is unknown. It collected water of the roof of the cells. The trough and the Mesibah were used in the construction of the Sanctuary. The cells obstructed the view of onlookers from looking into the construction of the inner Sanctuary from the outside.