Looking west within the Holy. Inner Altar is
in the center.
Separating the Sanctuary from the Antechamber was a 6-cubit (9-foot) thick
wall and centered in this wall was the single doorway to the Sanctuary. It
had two doorposts and a mantel and measured 10 cubits wide and 20 cubits
tall (15 feet by 30 feet). Two sets of double doors were hung in this
doorway, one set at the eastern edge of the doorway closer to the
Antechamber, and one set at the western edge closer to the Sanctuary. Just
in front of the outer doors hung a curtain which was raised and lowered very
much like a stage curtain by means of ropes. Normally the curtain was left
open so as not to hinder the Kohanim as they came and went from the
Sanctuary during the sacrificial service. However, when the Kohen
Gadol wished to enter the Sanctuary alone, his assistant would stand
outside the doorway and lower the curtain to give him privacy. Upon hearing
the bells of the Kohen Gadolís tunic as he retreated towards the
entrance the assistant would raise the curtain once again.
Inside the Sanctuary was the Holy, 20 cubits wide, 40 cubits long, and 40
cubits high (30 feet by 60 feet by 60 feet). As in the Antechamber, the
interior was plated with gold and magnificently decorated. Covering the
floor were wooden panels plated with gold.†
The Holy housed the Menorah [candelabra], the Table [which held the
loaves of Showbread], and the Inner Altar [for the offering of incense],
with the Menorah in the south, the Table in the north, and the Inner
Altar centered between them and slightly off towards the east. In the First
Temple, King Solomon fashioned ten copies of both the Menorah and the
Table which were arranged in rows of five on either side of the original
vessels, and the same practice was followed in the Second Temple.
There were twelve windows in the Sanctuary corresponding to the twelve
tribes of Israel. It was common at the time to construct windows with narrow
outer openings and wide inner openings, both for security purposes and to
allow more light to enter the room. The windows of the Sanctuary were
designed with the narrow openings on the inside and the wide openings on the
outside to symbolize that the Temple, far from needing light, was the source
of light for the world.
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