Monday, February 10, 2014

View of the Chamber of the Paroches: Part 2

After the weaving was complete, the cloth on the lower beam needed to be transferred to another location (a larger chamber on the Temple Mount, most likely) where the paroches could be assembled. Now, the total weight of the paroches was almost 30,000 pounds which meant that each of the five sections weighed nearly 6,000 pounds. To move these, I imagine that they would attach two wheels to the frame holding the lower beam, and add some poles to make handling easier. A team of Kohanim could then roll this newly woven section of the paroches out of the chamber, through the Courtyard, and wrangle it down to the Temple Mount.
Moving the completed section of paroches
out of the chamber.

Many large items were being moved into and out of this chamber, and thus it needed a large set of doors. I show two entrances, one for people and one for materials, so that the large doors could be kept closed until needed. Since this chamber was used just once a year any goings on there were something of a novelty, so keeping the main doors closed would lessen the chance that the Kohanim in the Courtyard would be distracted by the activities (or people) inside. For this same reason, I located the numerous windows (weaving is fine work and requires ample illumination) well above eye level.
Exterior of the Chamber of the Paroches
After all five sections of the paroches were woven they would need to be stitched together to form the complete curtain. It appears that simply rolling out all five sections next to each other on the ground was not a feasible option since it would be difficult to pass the needle from one side of the cloth to the other. Instead, if the Kohanim could have the sections hung in the air then people could be positioned on both sides to receive the needles and pass them back through to complete the stitching.

I tried to solve this problem in an early version of the Chamber of the Paroches, when I was still considering the idea of having the entire curtain assembled in one room. In the scheme I show below, after one of the 4-amah sections of curtain was woven and wrapped onto the lower beam, it would be moved over to the wall (on tracks in the floor) and then raised, via pulleys, up to one of the wall brackets. Once all five sections were in place along the wall, they would be unrolled, slowly and in unison, and stitched together. [The loom would be removed from the room during this step.] Looking back at this design now, I realize one other problem: it has numerous pieces of wood attached to the walls. As this chamber was built within the Courtyard, having protruding wooden elements was forbidden.

Early design of the Chamber of the Paroches
in which there was room for the entire curtain to be assembled.
The exact location of the Chamber of the Paroches is unknown, although it most likely stood within the Courtyard proper in either the north or west (Ezras Kohanim to Middos 1:1 s.v. בלשכת הפרוכת א citing Zichron Menachem).
The Chamber of the Paroches (center), flanked by the
Chamber of Shekalim (left) and Chamber of the Spark (right).

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