Monday, February 16, 2015

Inspecting the Courtyard in the Morning

Kohanim inspect the Courtyard by torchlight.
Each morning the Kohanim would do a walk-through of the Courtyard to make sure that all the utensils were in place for the day's avodah. The utensils, however, were still safely stored in the Chamber of Utensils at this point, so what, exactly, were the Kohanim inspecting?
Tamid 1:3 states that the Memuneh led the Kohanim from the Hall of the Fire, where they had been sleeping, into the Courtyard to do the morning inspection by torchlight. They split into two groups; one group walked beneath the portico to the west and the other beneath the portico to the east. The two groups checked the Courtyard as they walked around its perimeter until they met on the eastern side of the Courtyard in front of the Chamber of the Makers of the Chavitin. There they greeted each other and confirmed that all of the utensils were in their places.

The utensils, though, were not yet in the Courtyard at this point. It was only much later, after the Tamid lamb was taken from the Chamber of Sacrificial Lambs, that the Kohanim entered the Chamber of Utensils to bring out the 93 silver and gold utensils used daily in the Temple and arrange them on a table west of the Altar (Tamid 3:4). They did so at this point in the service because they needed the golden cup used to water the Tamid lamb prior to its slaughter, which was about to occur. If so, the Kohanim must have been inspecting some other utensils as they walked around the Courtyard earlier in the day.

One clue offered by the Mishnah is that the utensils in the Chamber of Utensils were all made of silver and gold. These, being more valuable, may have been locked up each night, while other utensils would have been left out in the Courtyard.

Here is a list of things that were not bolted down and therefore might need to be checked:
  • The eight small tables that resided in the space between the rings and the dwarf columns of the Butchering Area.
  • The eight other tables that resided among the dwarf columns.
  • The various knives used for skinning and butchering which were kept upon these tables.
  • The rakes and shovels used for turning the meat on the Altar's fire and for moving ashes. These were clearly used by the Kohanim even before the Chamber of Utensils was opened (see Tamid 2:1).
  • The shovel for terumas hadeshen kept near the Altar.
  • The two tables kept near the Altar, one for storing the 93 daily utensils and one for sacrificial parts. [These last two are suggested by the sefer Ohr L'nesivasi to maseches Tamid. He also adds that they would inspect the golden grapevine which stood within the Antechamber, although I'm not sure how they could see this from the perimeter of the Courtyard.]
  • The Muchni and Kiyor.
  • The thirteen shofaros kept in the corners of the Courtyard.
(Now, the Mishnah writes that the Kohanim were inspecting "the Courtyard," but if that were to include an inspection of all the chambers around the perimeter of the Courtyard then this would add many, many more items to the list — including the 93 utensils inside the Chamber of Utensils, for example. If we take the Mishnah at face value, however, the Kohanim did not need to inspect the chambers since they were probably locked.)

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