Adjoining the Israelites' Courtyard was the Kohanim's Courtyard, also 11 cubits long, which was used primarily by the Kohanim as they shuttled back and forth between the public in the east and the Altar to the west. Israelites were not permitted to enter here except to perform certain actions related to their offering, such as resting their hands upon the head of the animal [prior to the slaughter], slaughtering the animal [the slaughter was not an official part of the sacrificial service and thus could even be performed by non-Kohanim], or waving the meat [a procedure required of certain offerings].
The Kohanim's Courtyard was elevated 2½ cubits (3¾ feet) above the Israelites' Courtyard and these two areas were separated by four steps running the entire width of the Courtyard. The first of these was a large step, 1 cubit (1½ feet) high and 1 cubit deep, and marked the point beyond which all non-Kohanim should not enter (the step itself was located within the Kohanim's Courtyard). To further mark this boundary there were blocks of wood as wide as the length of a man's hand (from the wrist to the tip of the middle finger) protruding from the northern and southern walls of the Israelite's Courtyard along their full height. These blocks of wood were needed in addition to the large step since many people may not have realized that the purpose of the step was to mark the boundary, or they may not have known whether the step was part of the Israelites' Courtyard or Kohanim's Courtyard.
To the west of the Kohanim's Courtyard was a section 32 cubits (48 feet) long which was occupied by the Outer Altar and all of the associated structures needed to slaughter and skin the offerings and prepare the different cuts of meat for burning upon the Altar. Beyond that was a section consisting of the 22 cubits (33 feet) between the western face of the Altar and the eastern face of the Antechamber and was aptly termed the Area Between the Altar and the Antechamber. This area contained the steps leading up to the Antechamber as well as the Laver from which the Kohanim would wash their hands and feet prior to beginning the sacrificial service. The largest section of the Courtyard was occupied by the Sanctuary Building (which includes the Antechamber) and measured 100 cubits (150 feet) from east to west. The last section of the Courtyard consisted of the 11 cubits (16½ feet) between the western wall of the Sanctuary Building and the western wall of the Courtyard.
Although the Courtyard was open to the sky there was a roofed area along the inside of the walls around all four sides which jutted out of the walls halfway up their height. The walls were 40 cubits (60 feet) high, which would put the roof at a height of 20 cubits (30 feet), or just even with the tops of the gateways. The roof was not continuous but was built in sections which ran between the gates of the Courtyard, and each section was supported by a single row of marble columns similar in design to those of the Temple Mount. The area beneath the roof was used for overnight storage of some Temple vessels and hanging from, or displayed upon, the roof itself were spoils of war.
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