Monday, January 20, 2014

View of the Chamber of the Spark

The Chamber of the Spark (בית הניצוץ) was located at the Spark Gate (שער הניצוץ) in the northern wall of the Courtyard. This chamber consisted of two walls which protruded into the Courtyard on either side of the gate and above these walls was an unroofed balcony. On the ground floor of this chamber the Kohanim maintained a fire which was kept burning constantly and would be used to relight the Altar fire should it ever be extinguished. For this purpose they specifically chose a type of wood which burns very slowly, and because the embers from this fire lasted a long time the gate and its associated chamber bore the name ‘spark.’ The upper floor of this chamber is one of the locations where the Kohanim would stand guard in the Temple. This balcony was not accessible directly from the Courtyard (for had that been the case the balcony would have assumed the sanctity of the Courtyard and thus the Kohen guards would not have been permitted to sit down while on duty); instead, a door in the Courtyard wall opened to a flight of steps (possibly within the wall itself) which led down to the Cheil, thus granting the balcony the status of the Temple Mount. The Spark Gate, like all Temple gates, was closed off by a large curtain while the doors were open.

Two Kohanim restock the firewood in the Chamber of the Spark.

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