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The Talmud, by Joseph Barclay, [1878], at

p. 121


1. At first every one who wished to (cleanse) the altar, cleansed it. When they were many, they ran and mounted the ascent, and each one, who at the middle outstripped his companion by four cubits, won it. If two were equal the president said to them, "lift your fingers." 1 "And what is that?" "They lifted one or two fingers, but no one lifted the thumb in the Sanctuary."

2. It happened that two were equal, and running and mounting the ascent, one of them thrust his companion, so that he fell, and his leg was broken. And when the great Sanhedrin saw that they were getting into danger, they decreed that they should not cleanse the altar save by lot. There were four lots, and this was the first lot.

3. The second lot was: Who should slay? Who sprinkle? Who should take the ashes from the inner altar? and who should take the ashes from the candlestick? and who should carry the members to the ascent? the head and the right foot, and the hind feet, the tail, and the left foot, the breast, and the throat, and the two sides, and the inwards, and the fine flour, and the pancakes, and the wine. Thirteen priests discharged this lot. Said Ben Asai in the presence of R. Akiba from the mouth of Rabbi Joshua, "like to its way of motion" (when alive).

4. The third lot 2 was for new men who came to offer incense, and they cast the lots. The fourth lot was for new men with the old, who should carry the members from the ascent to the altar.

5. The daily offering was with nine, ten, eleven, twelve, priests; not less and not more. "How?" "Itself with nine:

p. 122

at the feast of Tabernacles in the hand of one, a glass of water there is ten. The evening offering with eleven, itself with nine, and in the hands of two, two faggots of wood. On Sabbath, eleven; itself with nine, and two, in their hands two fragments of incense of the shewbread. And on the Sabbath in the feast of Tabernacles in the hand of one a glass of water."

6. The ram was offered with eleven; the flesh with five, the inner part, and the fine flour and the wine, to each two and two.

7. The bullock was offered with twenty-four priests. "The head and the right foot?" "The head with one, and the foot with two." "The chine and the left foot?" "The tail with two, and the left foot with two." "The breast and the throat?" "The breast with one, and the throat with three, the two hind feet with two, and the two sides with two, the inner parts and the fine flour, and the wine, each with three and three." "Of which is that said?" "Of the offering for the whole congregation." "But for the offerings of an individual?" "If he wished to offer, he might offer." "For the skinning and cutting up?" "For these all were equal."


121:1 i.e. Cast lots, which was done by placing the priests in a row, and bidding their to hold up their fingers. After fixing on a certain number, the cap of one of them was taken off. With this priest the reckoning began, and proceeded till the prearranged number fell on some one of them; and his was the lot. Particular care was taken to count the fingers which were held up, and not to number their persons, as this was considered unlawful. (1 Chron. xxi. 1.)

121:2 The third lot for burning incense was the most important. It was always done by a fresh man, so that a priest might burn incense only once during his lifetime. (Luke i. 9; Rev. viii. 3, 4.)

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