We left off in Part 1 talking about how the calling of the kohanim (priests) was to teach “holiness” to the people. We also began talking about a stone that was discovered at the southwest corner of the Temple Mount that said “belonging to the house of trumpeting.” The second part of this phrase was cracked off. This trumpeting stone fell down from the place it was when the Temple was destroyed. They found more than this, including the top and the place where this trumpeting stone stood. There is an expression in the Tanach and Jewish writings that says, “L’Havdil bein kodesh l’chol” which means “to distinguish between the sacred and the profane (periods of time).” From the letters on the trumpeting stone and this phrase, the full inscription would read, “Belonging to the house of trumpeting to distinguish between the sacred and the profane.” In the Mishnah, Sukkah 5.5, this last phrase is found when talking about the trumpeting in the Temple.
This phrase is also found in the ceremony called “Havdalah” which marks the end of the Sabbath and the beginning of a new week. The phrase goes like this, “Blessed are you, O Lord our God, who made a distinction between the sacred and the profane, between the Sabbath and the rest of the week.”
There was a fence around the inner courtyards called the “Soreg.” We know that certain individuals in an unclean state cannot enter the Temple Mount, which was the 500 cubit by 500 cubit square on which the Azarah and the Sanctuary building stood. The Chel is a platform which surrounds the inner courtyards. Right before you get to the Chel, there is a fence about 10 handbreadths high called the Soreg. Josephus tells us on top of this fence there were signs that told anyone who was not Jewish to stop and not pass this point or you would be responsible for your own death. A Soreg sign has been found, written in Greek. A second sign has also been found, but it was only a partial. This is a sign of kedushah.
Remember the levels of kedushah in Kelim 1.6-9? You ascend in the Temple as you move to the inner courts. From the Court of the Women you went 15 steps up to the inner azarah, coming from the east. If you came from the south, you went up 14 steps, and this is due to the elevation of that part of the mountain. We are told that the men of Israel who do not have an impurity or a sin that needs to be atoned for are allowed to go into this area. They cannot go beyond this area unless they go to the slaughtering area for semicha (the laying on of hands) and slaughtering.
There is a corridor called the Achsadrah they could walk down to get to the slaughtering area. In the Achsadrah there were knobs (Rashah Pispesin) sticking out of the wall letting you know that the kedushah is changing.
In the Temple there is an interesting piece of furniture among the others. We have the Menorah, the Shulchan ha Lechem ha Pannim, the Mizbeach shell Zahav and 13 tables in the inner court. But the most interesting item is alone in its kedushah, and that is the Aron Kodesh, the Ark of the Covenant. In Shekalim 6.1 it talks about how there were 13 prostrations in the Temple. Those from the House of Gamaliel and of the House of Hanina, the “Sagan” or deputy High Priest, would make 14 prostrations. Where did they add the extra prostration? Opposite the wood store (deir ha etz) for thus was the tradition among them from their forefathers that the Ark lay hidden there. Here is why.
The inner courts had 13 gates. The custom was when you passed these gates, you would prostrate yourself. However, when the Sagan and the head of the House of Gamaliel came to a certain spot, they did it 14 times, and this was near where they thought the Ark was. The Ark has not been in the Holy of Holies since the time of Jeremiah. There has been a lot of controversy about where the Ark is. One theory has it in Ethiopia, another at Mount Nebo, another in the Cave of the Column near Qumran and yet another at Oak Island in Nova Scotia. But we are told in the Mishnah it was under the Wood Chamber, or Deit ha Etz. Now, we are going to develop this out somewhat and show you why it is not in all these places mentioned above and that it has to be on the Temple Mount somewhere. The key to understanding all this the concept of holiness, or kedushah.
In the Mishnah, Shekalim 6.2 it says that once there was a priest who was occupied there near the place of the 14 prostrations when he saw a block of pavement that was different from the rest. He went and told this to another priest, but before he could make an end of the matter he dropped dead. So they knew for certain that the Ark lay hidden there. This story is like Uzzah and the Ark. It was about to fall and Uzzah reached out to steady it and dropped dead because he was not allowed to touch it. This Mishnah is like that, They believed that this kohen discovered where the Ark was and told somebody, and he died before he could show them exactly what he saw.
Now, let’s talk about the kedushah of the priestly garments. In Ezek 44.17-18 it says that when they enter the gates of the inner azarah they shall be clothed in with linen garments; wool shall not be on them while they are ministering in the inner courts and in the Temple. Linen turbans shall be on their heads, and linen undergarments shall be on their loins; they shall not clothe themselves with anything that makes them sweat. Sweat is smelly and it is dead tissue. In Ezek 44.19 it says that when they go out of the azarah into the outer court, they are to take off these garments and they are to lay them in a chamber set aside for them. They are then to put on their regular garments. They are not to mingle with the people while wearing their priestly garments. Now the chambers around the inner court (azarah) have the same kedushah as the azarah. Their garments also have the same kedushah. They cannot wear the garments into the outer courts to the city or wherever. They cannot mingle with the people in these garments. They cannot wear them into the outer courts of the Temple because they have a lower kedushah. You must understand that you cannot take a garment or anything with a level of kedushah and go to a lower area of kedushah on it. This concept is a must to understand when we get to the Ark.
We will pick up here in the conclusion of this teaching and we will begin to talk about the kedushah surrounding the buildings, the blood, the desecrated Altar stones and how all this applies to the Ark.