Second Temple: The Holy Place
Entering the Temple meant to pass through the porch and enter the Holy Place. The Holy Place in Herod's Temple contained the Golden Altar, The Seven Branched Menorah, and the Table of the Shewbread.
The Hekhal and the Debhir of Herod's Temple ISBE
Internally, the temple was divided, as before, into a holy place (hekhal) and a most holy (debhir)--the former measuring, as in Solomon's Temple, 40 cubits (60 ft.) in length, and 20 cubits (30 ft.) in breadth; the height, however, was double that of the older Temple--60 cubits (90 ft.; thus Keil, etc., following Josephus, BJ, V, v, 5). Mid., iv.6, makes the height only 40 cubits; A. R. S. Kennedy and G. A. Smith make the debhir a cube--20 cubits in height only. In the space that remained above the holy places, upper rooms (40 cubits) were erected. The holy place was separated from the holiest by a partition one cubit in thickness, before which hung an embroidered curtain or "veil"--that which was rent at the death of Jesus (Mt 27:51 and parallel's; Mid., iv.7, makes two veils, with a space of a cubit between them). The Holy of Holies was empty; only a stone stood, as in the temple of Zerubbabel, on which the high priest placed his censer on the Day of Atonement (Mishna, Yoma', v.2). In the holy place were the altar of incense, the table of shewbread (North), and the seven-branched golden candlestick (South). Representations of the two latter are seen in the carvings on the Arch of Titus (see SHEWBREAD, TABLE OF; CANDLESTICK, THE GOLDEN). The spacious entrance to the holy place had folding doors, before which hung a richly variegated Babylonian curtain. Above the entrance was a golden vine with clusters as large as a man (Josephus, Ant, XV, xi, 3; BJ, V, v, 4).
The Holy Place in Herod's Temple
At its west side stood the sanctuary proper, comprising (from east to west) the porch, the holy place, and the cubical holy of holies. Into the holy place the priests entered to discharge various duties, in particular to offer incense on the golden-incense altar, as Zechariah did on the occasion when an angel appeared to him and announced the forth coming birth of his son John the Baptist (Luke 1:8-23). No ordinary priest could hope that the lot for offering the incense would fall to him on more than one day in his lifetime (if that); the day when Zechariah received the angelic announcement was in any case the red-letter day of his whole priestly career. Inside the Holy Place there was the Porch, the Hall and the Holy of Holies, just as in Solomonís Temple. The back wall of the porch was overlaid with gold and a golden lamp was hung on it. In the center of the facade (face) was the main entrance, over the top was hung a golden bunch of grapes. Inside the Holy Place there was the Porch, the Hall and the Holy of Holies, just as in Solomonís Temple. The back wall of the porch was overlaid with gold and a golden lamp was hung on it. In the center of the facade (face) was the main entrance, over the top was hung a golden bunch of grapes. The Porch - The only two pieces of furniture in the porch were the two tables, one of gold and the other of marble, on which the showbread was placed. This entrance was covered by a veil. The Hall - In the Hall stood the Golden Altar, the Golden Table for the showbread, on which were two frankincense cups and the Golden Lampstand. The Veil - A double veil separated the Hall from the Holy of Holies, which only the High Priest could access, once per year on the Day of Atonement. There was no furniture at all in the Holy of Holies. [Holy Place Image]
The House and Porch of Herod's Temple ISBE
Yet another flight of 12 steps, occupying most of the space between the temple-porch and the altar, led up to the platform (6 cubits high) on which stood the temple itself. This magnificent structure, built, as said before, of blocks of white marble, richly ornamented with gold on front and sides, exceeded in dimensions and splendor all previous temples. The numbers in the Mishna and in Josephus are in parts discrepant, but the general proportions can readily be made out. The building with its platform rose to the height of 100 cubits (150 ft.; the 120 cubits in Josephus, Ant, XV, xi, 3, is a mistake), and was 60 cubits (90 ft.) wide. It was fronted by a porch of like height, but with wings extending 20 cubits (30 ft.) on each side of the temple, making the total breadth of the vestibule 100 cubits (150 ft.) also. The depth of the porch was 10 or 11 cubits; probably at the wings 20 cubits (Jos). The entrance, without doors, was 70 cubits high and 25 cubits wide (Mid. makes 40 cubits high and 20 wide). Above it Herod placed a golden eagle, which the Jews afterward pulled down (Ant., XVII, vi, 3). The porch was adorned with gold.
The Second Temple Sanctuary - Wikipedia
Between the entrance of the building and the curtain veiling the Holy of Holies were the famous vessels of the temple: the menorah, the incense-burning altar, and various other implements.
The Side Chambers of the Holy Place in Herod's Temple ISBE
The walls of the temple appear to have been 5 cubits thick, and against these, on the North, West, and South, were built, as in Solomon's Temple, side-chambers in three stories, 60 cubits in height, and 10 cubits in width (the figures, however, are uncertain), which, with the outer walls, made the entire breadth of the house 60 or 70 cubits. Mid., iv.3, gives the number of the chambers as 38 in all. The roof, which Keil speaks of as "sloping" (Bib. Archaeology, I, 199), had gilded spikes to keep off the birds. A balustrade surrounded it 3 cubits high. Windows are not mentioned, but there would doubtless be openings for light into the holy place from above the sidechambers.
The Temple Proper in Herod's Temple From Unger's Bible Dictionary
The Temple stood so much higher than the court of the priests that it was approached by a flight of twelve steps. It stood in the western end of the inner court on the NW part of the Temple mount and was built, according to Josephus (Ant. 15.11.3), upon new foundations of massive blocks of white marble, richly ornamented with gold both inside and out. Some of these stones were 45 cubits long, 6 broad, and 5 high. Its length and height, including the porch, were 100 cubits; on each side of the vestibule there was a wing 20 cubits wide, making the total width of this part of the building 100 cubits. The porch was 10 cubits deep, measuring from E to W, 50 wide, 90 in height, and had an open gateway 70 cubits high and 25 in width.
The interior of the Temple was divided into the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. "The temple had doors also at the entrance, and lintels over them, of the same height with the temple itself. They were adorned with embroidered veils, with their flowers of purple, and pillars interwoven: and over these, but under the crown-work, was spread out a golden vine, with its branches hanging down from a great height" (Josephus Ant. 15.11.3). The holy place was 40 cubits long, 20 wide, and 60 in height. It contained one golden lampstand, a single table of the bread of the Presence, and one altar of incense. Separated from it by a wooden partition was the Holy of Holies, 20 cubits long and 60 high, which was empty. The rabbinical writers maintain that there were two veils over its entrance. It was this veil that was rent on the occasion of our Lord's crucifixion. As in the case of Solomon's Temple, side rooms three stories high were built on the sides of the main structure. For a discussion of recent excavation on the Temple mount, see Jerusalem.
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