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In our last post we looked at the Biblical data on the Kior and its location. We have also laid down the beginning concept that in most articles, books and published material on the Temple there is a major problem. The problem is that the Inner Courtyard where the Temple sat is presented alone with the outer walls of the Inner Courtyard (the Azarah) are shown as immediately flush with the Courtyard. This creates a fantasy Temple that will not function. We presented two activities for example. The Tanach (Ezekiel 42 and 44) states that the kohanim (priests) must change clothes before entering for service into their priestly garments. As these garments are not allowed outside of the kedusha (sanctity) of this courtyard, it is impossible that they were changed in another part of the Temple. There is no place within the Azarah proper for them to change into these clothes and deposit their street wear. Another problem has to deal with the cooking and eating of the Most Holy korbanot (offerings). This also could not been done in the Azarah proper, however it had to be done in an area that had the same kedusha as the Azarah.

This limited view of the Temple as mentioned before presents a fantasy Temple that could not function nor could hope to be allowed in accordance with the halachah (how one walks in the commandments) of the Temple.

Lets look at some of the information from the Mishnah and the Tosefta. In Middot (the tractate of the Mishnah that deals with the measurements and layout of the Temple).

The basin (kior) was between the ulam (Porch of the Temple Building) and the altar, drawn towards the south. Between the ulam and the altar were 22 amot (cubits) . . . .  Kehati Mishnah, (Middot 3.6)

Based on this information most commentators as well as virtually all illustrations of the floor plan of the Temple show the Kior in this twenty-two amot between the Ulam (Porch of the Temple). See below.


Copyright © Lloyd Thomas 2012-2013. All Rights Reserved worldwide.

Find the Temple building and the stairway coming down (by the way the stairway was configured differently). When you are looking at the picture the kior is the blue circle to the left of the stairway and just west (to the top) of the kevesh (ramp) ascending to the altar. Below is an illustration from our soon to be published book Measure The Pattern.

Space between Ulam and the Altar1

The 22 amot referred to in Middot 3.6 between the Ulam and the Mizbeiach. Taditionally the Kior was  understood to be in this area, usually placed approximately where the the arrows are between the 22 amot in the above illustration.

This would seem to be the correct position for the Kior. However, we have another mishna from Tractate Kelim (Vessels) and also from the Tosefta.

The requirement was that the Kior (Laver) sat between the Ulam (Porch of the Temple building) and the Mizbeiach (Altar). By comparing a mishnah from Kelim which lists progressively the different levels of sanctification within the Temple, an enlarged measurement for the area between the Ulam (Porch of the Temple) and the Mizbeiach (Altar) is revealed.

Within the walls is more sanctified than these, for we may eat  there kodashim kalim  (Most Holy Offerings) and ma’aser sheni (second tithe). Har Habayit  (The temple Mount) – Original 500 cubits by 500 cubits) is more sanctified than this, for zavim(men with a genital discharge) and zavot (women with an issue of blood outside of their regular period), niddot  (women with a menstrual flow) and yoldot (women with discharge from childbirth) may not enter there. The Heil is more sanctified than this, for Gentiles, and one rendered impure by a corpse, may not enter there. Ezrat Nashim (Court of the Women) is more sanctified than this, for a tevul yom (someone impure that must immerse and wait till the night has passed) may not enter there, but they are not liable to a sin-offering for it. Ezrat Yisrael (Court of Israel) is more sanctified than this for one lacking atonement may not enter there, and they are liable to a sin-offering for it. Ezrat Kohanim (Court of the Priests) is more sanctified than this, for Israelites may enter there only at a time when they are needed, for laying hands, for slaughtering, for heaving. (Kelim 1.8)

Between the Ulam (Porch of the Temple building) and the altar is more sanctified than this, for those with a blemish and those with wild hair may not enter there. The Hekhal  (HaKodesh room of the Temple) is more sanctified than this, for one may mot enter there without washing hands and feet. The Holy of Holies is more sanctified than these, for only the kohen gadol (High Priest) may enter there, on Yom Kippur at the time of service. R. Yose said: In five ways, between the Ulam (Porch of the Temple building) and the altar corresponds to the Hekhal: those with a blemish, and those with wild hair, and those who had drunk wine, and one who had not washed hands and feet, may not enter there; and they must withdraw from between the Ulam and the altar at the time of burning the incense. (Kelim 1.9)

Note in Kelim 1.9 a kohen who had not washed his hands and feet at the Kior cannot enter between the Porch and the Altar. So how can the Kior be placed in the location where everyone has it placed. There must be a solution.

This is further emphasized in a text from the Tosefta.

“Those whose hands and feet are not washed enter [the area] between the porch (Ulam) and the altar (Mizbeiach),” the words of R. Meir. And sages say, “They do not enter.” Said R. Simeon the Modest before R. Eliezer, “I entered [the area] between the porch (Ulam) and the altar (Mizbeach) without having washed [my] hands and feet.” He said to him, “Who is more beloved, you or the high priest (Kohen Gadol)?” He was silent. He said to him, “You are ashamed to say that [even] the dog of the high priest (Kohen Gadol) is more beloved than you!” He said to him, “Rabbi, you have said it.” He said to him, “ By the [sacred] service! Even the high priest [who without washing hands and feet enters the area between the porch (Ulam) and the altar (Mizbeiach)] – they break his head with clubs. What will you do that the guardsman not find you!” . . . . (Tosefta Kelim Baba Qamma 1.6)

As you can see this creates quite a problem. The answer is certainly not the traditional location. There is yet another problem. Water that remains in a bronze vessel overnight becomes impure and disqualified for use the next day. As a result each evening the water within the Kior was emptied out. There is a theory that the Kior was lifted up by a machine built by ben Katin known as the mukni and lowered into a cistern. The volume of water in the cistern allowed for the water of the Kior to be valid for the next day’s use. There are several problems with this theory. First the size of the Mukni would have to be huge as the weight of the water within the Kior would be extreme. There are several paintings that can be seen over the internet that show the Kior in the traditional location just to the west of the kevesh (ramp ascending to the Altar) in the 22 cubits between the porch of the Temple and the Altar. The illustrations show a pulley wheel attached to the Porch with a cistern (the water just a foot or so below the surface of the Temple Courtyard) open right next to the Kior.

Between 1865 and 1875 the cisterns of the Temple Mount were charted by Royal Engineers working with the Palestine Exploration Fund out of London. These explorers, Captain Charles Wilson, Captain Charles Warren, Lieutenant Claude Conder as well as Conrad Schick (a German/Swiss Architect/Clock maker living in Jerusalem) investigated, and charted the cisterns in detail. There are no cisterns located beneath the location of the Azarah proper.

This would mean that in order to lift the very heavy Kior up to put it into a cistern it would have to lift it over the portico that surrounded the Azarah proper. The columns for this portico known as the Achsadrah were 25 cubits high 9almost 50 feet. On top of the Achsadrah was a balcony and al of this was attached to buildings that completely surrounded the Azarah. We know that the Kior was on the south side of the Azarah toward the east (see the first post). There is a cistern today that is just outside the southeast corner of the Azarah. However, in the time of the Temple, this was not a cistern but rather a tunnel system with a very unusual shape.


Cistern 28 Cropped

At some period this tunnel system was converted into a cistern. I believe this tunnel system in the time of the Temple was used to pump water up from a cistern located below it. The cistern is called by the Arabs today the Cistern or Well of the Pomegranate  deriving its name from the circular structure (near the stairway). My belief is that the Pomegranate was somehow connected to Ben Katin’s Mukni and water was pumped from the cistern below to fill the Kior as well as supply water to the Azarah.

We know there was a cistern at the southeast corner as the following Mishnah establishes.

According to Middot there were three chambers on the south. One of these Chambers was known as the Lishkat haGolah (Exiles Chamber) or as the Rambam vocalized it as the Lishkat haGulah (Chamber of the Bowl). I personally believe it was Gulah rather than Golah based upon a later known Arab structure on the same site known as the Dome of the Roll.

. . . . Lishkat Hagolah — where there was a fixed well (bor) with a wheel (Galgal) placed over it, from where they would supply water to the entire azarah.. . (Middot 5.4). I am not going to go into at this time how we are able to prove this chamber as well as the Lishkat haGazit (Chamber of Hewn Stone), and the Lishkat haEitz (Chamber of the Wood) were located on the southeast corner. Maybe in another post.

Note that the chamber supplied water to the entire Azarah. Secondly note that was a cistern below the chamber, and that this cister or well was a fixed cistern. A friend of mine for many years is the leading expert on the ancient water systems of Jerusalem Ronit Amiel. I spoke with her about this Mishnah and both of us agreed that a fixed cistern is one that is spring fed and not dependent on seasonable rains. Look at the mishnah below and notice the comment on the mukni. We will stop here and pick up at this point in our next post.

The one chosen to pick up from the altar (Mizbeiach), he would pick up from the altar (Mizbeiach). And they would say to him: Beware, lest you touch the utensil before you wash your hands and feet from the basin (Kior)! And behold the shovel is placed on the corner, between the ramp (Kevesh) and the altar (Mizbeiach), on the west side of the ramp (Kevesh)! No man entered with him, and there was no candle in his hand; rather, he would walk by the light of the pile. They did not see him, nor did they hear his voice, until they heard the sound of the wood, that Ben Katin made as a mukhni for the basin, and they would say: The time has come! He washed  his hands and feet from the basin (Kior), took the silver shovel, and went up to the top of the altar (Mizbeiach), and pushed aside the coals this way and that way. He shoveled out from the bornt up inner ones, and went down, He reached the floor, turned his face to the north, walked alongside the east of the ramp (Kevesh) about ten amot (cubits). He piled up the coals on the floor, three tefahim (handbreadths) away from the ramp (Kevesh), in the place where they put the bird crops, and the ashes of the inner altar (Mizbeiach Zahav) and of the menorah. (Tamid 1.4)

In this mishnah one last point to make is the Kohen selected to have the honor of preparing the Altar first obviously enter a building where the Kior was located. Till tomorrow.


I am very excited to start this Blog where I have a format with you to answer questions in detail. . Please be sure to cut me some slack as this is my first time to try this. Be patient with me, but I promise to have material you will be interested in reading and will be of value to you as you study the word of G-d.

It has been a long time since we have sent out an update and this is a long one. Please take time to read the whole newsletter, or at least scan the topics, as there are a lot of  opportunities for learning included. Shalom and Toda Raba!
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Here are our e-Materials new for Passover / Pesach 2011

Passover Guide and Journal – 2011

This is the first year in a long time that Hatikva Ministries will not be hosting a community Passover Seder. While deliberating the decision, it was determined that we wanted our local participants to be enriched during the season and we wanted to encourage them to broaden their Passover celebrations. With that in mind, we produced a small booklet, “Passover 2011 Guide –A Journal and Handbook” for our local group. It includes some suggestions for preparation, menus, craft ideas, and a few recipes. We liked the idea so much that we decided to offer the book to the greater Hatikva audience as a low-cost e-book. Keep in mind that this handbook is a work in progress, so if you have some ideas generated from this booklet, or if you try something that works well, perhaps you could share it with us and it might appear in a future representation!

In addition, recently Joe taught a Chavurah session on the role of the ‘sent one’ in the first and second redemption, comparing Exodus 3 and John 6-7. Darryl, our friend and former employee, told us that it was like sitting in the company of rabbis discussing the intricacies of Passover. We would also like to make this available to you in an MP3 audio format.

Both the Guide and audio file (1.5 hours of Joe teaching) are available for download for a $10.00 donation.


Listen to the Live Audio Feed.

Click Here for the Live Streaming MP3 Feed

Listen with any MP3 streaming player such as WinAmp, VLC, iTunes, Media Player or QuickTime.
We currently recommend the free VLC player available for both Mac and PC.

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Shalom Friends:

Time has flown so quickly in the past few weeks. It is hard to believe that spring is finishing and summer is fast approaching. We look forward to our garden harvest as much as we have enjoyed watching it grow. With Shavuot just around the corner, we feel blessed that we can joyfully anticipate the festive activities and visit with friends from other groups.

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