Thursday, October 12, 2023

Yoma 16b – 18b: The Beis Hamoked

Built around the first of the major gates on the northern side of the Azarah was a large complex with a domed ceiling called the Beis Hamoked [Hall of the Fire]. This building served as sleeping quarters for the watch of Kohanim currently on duty as well as a place for them to

warm themselves during the day, a necessary amenity since they had to walk around barefoot on cold marble floors. The large warming fire in the main room of this chamber gave it its name.

    In the southwest corner was the Chamber of the Tela’im [Sheep], also called the Chamber of the Korban. Here they always maintained a supply of six lambs, inspected and found free of blemishes, which would be used for the two daily Tamid-offerings. Since this chamber held items used in the avodah it was placed on the sanctified (southern) side of Beis Hamoked. This chamber was quite long, starting in the southwest and running along most of the western side of Beis Hamoked (leaving room for the Chamber of the Beis Hamoked in the north).

    In the southeast was the Chamber of the Lechem Hapanim. All the preparations of the lechem hapanim (kneading, setting into forms, baking) were done in this chamber by the Garmu family who were skilled in the difficult art of forming the faces of the lechem hapanim. The twelve loaves of the lechem hapanim were baked here every Friday and then moved to a marble table outside the entrance of the Heychal to cool. 

    In the northeast corner stood the Chamber of the Chosamos [Receipts]. Here, people could purchase wine, flour, and oil to accompany their korbanos.

    In the northwest was the Chamber of the Beis Hamoked. A Kohen sleeping in the Beis Hamoked who became tamei during the night would stay in this room until the morning.

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