The Talmud, by Joseph Barclay, , at sacred-texts.com
Priests and Levites guarding the TempleOfficer of the WatchGatesChambersKeysManner of entering the HouseNicanorStepsAltarPlace of SlaughterThe LaverThe PorchThe SanctuaryRepairing the Holy of HoliesMeasurementsJudging the Priesthood.
1. The priests guarded the sanctuary in three places, in the House Abtinas, 1 in the House Nitzus, 2 and in the House Moked; 3 and the Levites in twenty-one places, five at the five gates of the Mountain of the House, four at its four corners inside, five at the five gates of the Court, four at its four corners outside, and one in the chamber of the Offering, and one in the chamber of the Veil, and one behind the House of Atonement.
2. The Captain of the Mountain of the House went round to every Watch in succession with torches flaming before him, and to every guard who did not stand forth, the Captain said, "Peace be to thee." If it appeared that he slept, he beat him with his staff; and he had permission to set fire to his cushion. 4 And they said, "what is the voice in the Court?" "It is the voice of the Levite being beaten, and his garments burned, because he slept on his guard." 5
[paragraph continues] Rabbi Eliezer, the son of Jacob, said, "once they found the brother of my mother asleep, and they burned his cushion."
3. There were five gates to the Mountain of the House, two Huldah gates in the south which served for going in and out, Kipunus in the west served for going in and out; Tadi 1 in the north served for no (ordinary) purpose. Upon the east gate was portrayed the city Shushan. Through it one could see the High Priest who burned the heifer, and all his assistants going out to the Mount of Olives.
4. In the court were seven gatesthree in the north, and three in the south, and one in the east. That in the south was called the gate of Flaming, the second after it, the gate of Offering; the third after it the Water-gate. That in the east was called the gate Nicanor. And this gate had two chambers, one on the right, and one on the left; one the chamber of Phineas, the vestment keeper, and the other the chamber of the pancake maker.
5. And at the gate Nitzus on the north was a kind of cloister with a room built over it, where the priests kept ward above, and the Levites below; and it had a door into the Chel. 2 Second to it was the gate of the offering. Third the House Moked.
6. In the House Moked were four chambers opening as small apartments into a saloontwo in the Holy place, and two in the Unconsecrated place; and pointed rails separated between the Holy and the Unconsecrated. And what was their use? The south-west chamber was the chamber for offering. The south-east was the chamber for the show-bread. In the north-east chamber the children of the Asmoneans deposited the stones of the altar which the Greek Kings had defiled. 3 In the north-west chamber they descended to the house of baptism.
7. To the House Moked were two doors one open to the Chel, and one open to the court. Said Rabbi Judah, "the one open to the court had a wicket, through which they went in to sweep the court."
8. The House Moked was arched, and spacious, and surrounded
with stone divans, and the elders of the Courses slept there with the keys of the court in their hands; and also the young priests each with his pillow on the ground.
9. And there was a place a cubit square with a tablet of marble, and to it was fastened a ring, and a chain upon which the keys were suspended. When the time approached for locking the gates, the priest lifted up the tablet by the ring, and took the keys from the chain and locked inside, and the Levites slept outside. When he had finished locking, he returned the keys to the chain, and the tablet to its place, laid his pillow over it, and fell asleep. If sudden defilement happened, he rose and went out in the gallery that ran under the arch, and candles flamed on either side, until he came to the house of baptism. Rabbi Eleazer the son of Jacob, says, "in the gallery that went under the Chel, he passed out through Tadi."
Our Beauty be upon Thee in Three Places.
255:1 A famous maker of incense.
255:3 Burning. The watch at certain gates seems to have been hereditary in certain families. Just as at the present time the custody of Rachel's tomb is the privilege of a certain family in Jerusalem. Each guard consisted of 10 men, so that there were 210 Levites in the 21 stations. The three more important places contained guards of both Levites and Priests; 30 of each. There were therefore 240 Levites on guard each night.
255:4 He rolled up his overcoat and laid it down for a cushion.
255:5 Rev. xvi. 15.
256:2 Platform or rampart.
256:3 1 Mac. ii. 25.